Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Tempt the Devil

After a two month break to deal with a ton of emotional crap around a death in the family and another huge setback, I'm writing again. I'm always amazed at how long it takes to drag a story out of my imagination. Ans how many false starts I have. If I wrote a straightforward story, I probably wouldn't have as many problems, but I like all the layers and complicated nature of life in Ponong.

So, what do we have?

When one of QuiTai's enemies turns up dead at the Red Happiness, it's no surprise that she's the prime suspect. The colonial militia is notorious for arresting, and executing, any handy suspect-- as long as they're Ponongese. Even her solid alibi isn't enough to save her. Before they hang her for the murder though, they want her to tell them who really did it. Should she tell them the truth, or get revenge?

Secrets are exposed at every turn, and an inconvenient character arrives from Thampur with orders from Grandfather Zul. RhiHanya and LiHoun work together, but don't dare suggest RhiHanya is LiHoun's assistant.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Ten Books That have Stayed With Me

This is the current meme going around the social networks. You're supposed to list the first ten that come to mind, but pfffft, I revised after some thought.

In no particular order:

1. Dune by Frank Herbert. The first real science fiction novel I ever read. Made me a fan of the genre. Still among my top ten favorites.

2. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. It probably helps that the year I read it, Apocalypse Now was released.

3. No Fight, No Biting by Else Homelund Minarik with illustrations by Maurice Sendak. I still like this book.

4. Green Eggs and Ham. I didn't like it, but it's the book I was looking at when the whole reading thing clicked into place. I didn't want to go to sleep that night because I was scared I'd forget how to read during the night and the thought of that devastated me.

5. The Harry Potter series. This is my first cheat. But if I list the series book by book, I use seven slots on this limited list, and that simply isn't going to happen.

6. Gun, With Occasional Music (tied with As She Crawled Across the Table) by Johnathan Latham

7. Glass Books of the Dream Eaters/The Dark Volume/Chemikal Marriage by Gordon Dahlquist because they are one book in three parts in my mind. And because I'm cheating again and listing a series as a single book.

8. The Sherlock Holmes mysteries by Aurthur Conan Doyle. truthfully, I listed Agatha Christie here first, but I have a difficult time remembering individual stories beyond And Then There Were None and Murder of the Oriental Express, whereas I can remember almost every Holmes story as distinct.

9. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler. But you could put any of his books here because I love them equally.

10. We Have Always Lived in the Castle because it is brilliant and horrible as only Shirley Jackson can write.

and because ten is a silly limit:

11. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin because it really is that good.
12. From The Mixed Up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler by E.L. Koninsberg because I really identified with a girl who wanted to escape the horrible fate of being a girl.
13.Kiln People by David Brin because science fiction and a mystery! Great concept. Have to admit the ending draggggggggged.
14.  The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
15. The Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters

And my top two for 2013
1. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
2. Alif the Unseen by G Willow Wilson
The reason I'm not including them in the rest of my list is that it's too soon to say if they'll stay with me.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Rainbow Awards

I'm apparently in three categories:

Bisexual & LGBT Fantasy, Paranormal romance and Sci Fi/ Futuristic (Runner up)
Debut Novel (Runner up)
Bisexual Novel (Runner up)

You can see the full list here.

Nice to see friends Sassafras Lowrey, Jeff Mann, Laura Antoniou doing well this year, as well as many, many names I know among the finalists.

I lost to Greenwode by J. Tullos Henning in two categories. It won many other awards so Go Read It.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Rainy Days Are Good For Writing

I woke to the sound of rain this morning, which made it easy to huddle under the covers and let my mind wander. I've decided to delete the short scene I wrote yesterday as it doesn't add much to the story.

Here's a plot diagram, if you've never seen one:

See how it's an uphill climb from the start? By the time a writer nears the peak of that graphic, the narrative must narrow focus to the important parts and all energy must be devoted to hitting the crest. The scene I wrote yesterday diluted the focus and sucked energy worse than a space vampire recently out of hibernation. I can sum up everything that happened in those six hundred words with one line of dialog in the next scene. That's tighter writing. Hell on the word count, but hey, it's not as if I'm Charles Dickens and getting paid by the word.

 You'd be amazed how many times I write scenes that don't make it into the final cut of the story. Far too many times. But it helps me to keep the vision of a fully developed world rather watching characters say their lines while standing in front of facades. (I hope that makes sense to someone besides me.)

I had planned to go to the Huntington Library and gardens today, but the rain makes it easy to stay inside, huddle around the warm glow of my laptop screen, and tell stories.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Disney's Frozen

Several years ago, about as long as it takes to develop an animated film, the people at Disney must have sat down and had a real conversation about the messages in their movies. True Love Conquers All was wearing thin and princess isn't a real career option for many real girls  So I think they decided to make an effort to portray healthy female relationships.

Brave was the first step in the right direction. (Yes, I know it was a Pixar film and not under the Disney banner, but still) Brave centered on a mother/daughter relationship. Marriage wasn't the goal. Avoiding it was. But that was only a catalyst for the real story.

(Late addition: The Princess and the Frog. I'm told the two female characters are kind to each other even when it seems they are rivals for the same guy. I really like this move away from the mean girl depiction of women where if you both like a guy, the other girl has to be a nearly homicidal crazy bitch rather than simply someone who wants the same things you do. Anastasia and Druzella are sooooo last century.)

Frozen (Disney banner this time) takes another bold step into the frontier of female characters. It's a story about sisters. And *spoiler alert* that even true love has meaning way beyond finding a boyfriend/fiance. I really loved that. And as a bonus, at the end, the love interest dude Asks Her Permission to kiss her. Yep. Sisterhood and Consent Culture, all in one film. I may swoon.

I should also mention the stunning animation, great voice work, and some interesting musical numbers that seemed to owe a lot to musical theater (in that they moved the plot forward and explained inner thoughts of the characters) rather than being musical numbers (which, while entertaining, could have been cut out of the story and not changed the story). I'd also like to point out that while there was the threat of violence, it was mostly against a character who was different, and negotiating around her differences brought harmony. Giving her crap for being different caused years of misery for everyone.

So good work, Disney folk. Keep having those conversations that lead you to make these kinds of choices.