Monday, May 31, 2010

End of May

I have been temporarily coaxed back to LJ by Karen Mahoney for her three month summer writing challenge, which will require Tuesday check-ins at her LJ space.

This reminded me I should probably do a general check in here as well.

1) Life has been somewhat insane this year. Lots of background noise. Everything scattered to the winds. Things appear to be finally focusing and that's a Very Good Thing Indeed.

2) Still working at the bookstore. Still having a good time there. My managers have decided I am their go-to-girl for teen titles, which is brilliant. Also amusing because the title I'm most excited for this summer is the Stories: All New Tales anthology that Neil Gaiman co-edited. (It is not to be found in the teen section.) You can read one of the tales from the anthology here. It's by Roddy Doyle and it's terribly amusing or amusing in a terrible way. One of those.

3) FRAGMENTS is still out on submission. We have had 3 responses so far. They went: (1) I really like this—except for the stuff I don't; (2) I loved this, but my publisher didn't get as excited as I'd hoped; (3) There's nothing 'wrong' with this, but it's just not for me.

4) Earlier this year, I spent copious amounts of time and energy repositioning THE TALE OF ARIAKE as a young adult novel. It should be going out to editors soon.

5) I'm currently working on the rough draft to a companion manuscript for TALE. It's as just over 20,000 words. It is my intention, through Kaz's accountability program, to finish the draft by the end of August. I have no idea how long that draft will be, but I'm going to say 80,000 words. It's a nice enough number, and it means I only have to manage 20,000 words a month until September.

6) I'm outlining two other 'skerit projects.' That is all I will say about them because if I say anything further I won't actually bother to do the outlining.

7) Today is Thursday has returned. Sort of.

8) The rabbit has discovered he likes to chew electrical chords. I don't know if this means he's missing an element in his diet or just suicidal, but other than that he's fine and fat and glad you all asked about him.

9) There will not be NYC posts, because I'd rather spend the time writing.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


In honor of Lisa Mantchev's new releases, Perchance to Dream, there will be cupcakes! Chocolate Chunk Devil's Food cupcake with coconut butter-cream icing, to be precise.

This is what cupcakes look like when you're fairy-sized...

An army of cupcakes advances on those 'healthy' fruits. Bah, 'healthy' food will be defeated by tasty sugar bombs!

 Bonus points = Rabbit in a blanket kind of looking like a cupcake.... with ears.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Tuesday that might as well be a Thursday

Today is a day of epic celebration, for today two fabulous author ladies have new releases!

Vicki Pettersson's Fifth Sign of the Zodiac Cheat the Grave is on the shelves, and this one finds a mortal Joanna Archer struggling to find her place among the supernatural side of Las Vegas. Can a mortal be the Kairos? Is there a place between the Shadows and the Light? You'll have to read Cheat the Grave to find out!

Lisa Mantchev's Second Act of the Theatre Illuminata Perchance to Dream: This darling YA follows the adventures of Beatrice "Bertie" Shakespeare Smith, her Sephiroth-look-alike Ariel, and her Fab Faerie Foursome as they leave The Theatre in search of a way to save Nate and discover who Bertie's father is.

Don't forget that it's #Cupcakeathon today in honor of Perchance to Dream! I've got to go to the store and get the mixings to make some fairy-pleasing Coconut Chocolate-Chip cupcakes.

Also, it's Towel Day—so whatever you do, don't panic. I've dug out my little Totoro hand-towel that I travel with. (There is an actual reason I have a totoro hand towel for traveling, and it involves a Christmas in Japan and the fact that there are no hand dryers in train station washrooms.)

Which begs the question, does this mean I have to make 42 cupcakes?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone revisited

Because it wasn't actually Doctor Saturday this weekend, and because a friend was having a bad day and needed cheering, I spent tonight rewatching "Time of Angels" & "Flesh and Stone."

The second time through it does make a great deal more sense, and explains away a couple of the issues that I had with the first viewing. Mostly they're things that @antiphrastic and I have been puzzling over since "Flesh and Stone" aired last Saturday.

They shot at the angels to provide light, and the Doctor "assumed" that the angels were distracted by the giant crack in time and would react to Amy by instincts. (Which still suggests that angels don't actually know when people are looking at them, but at least acknowledges that the Doctor can't say that for certain.)

As for what he told Amy when she was seven, I think it was a reference to how when he was leaving her and told her he'd come back, she said people always said that and he informed her that he wasn't people, he was the Doctor. (Ergo, he would be coming back and she needed to trust him.)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

There’s a skill to changing your clothes in a bathroom stall

I bet you're thinking Ethanael, it's not that difficult. Because I know most humans think in italics. True. Also true that a lot of humans have the ability change their clothes in a bathroom stall. You may even be one of them.

But can you change you clothes while regaling an audience on the other side of the stall door with an epic of story of how you pwned Lovecraft at the "Carry On My Wayward Son" guitar solo?

No? Didn't think so.

"Um, Ethan?" Maria sounds less than regaled. "Don't you think someone's going to wonder why you're in the girl's bathroom?"

Huh. I did wonder what she was doing in the men's room. And why it was so pink. Briefly. Then I just assumed we're in that part of Vancouver. You know. The area where men enjoy pink bathrooms. Because they're gay. The men. Not the bathroom. Toilets don't have a sexual preference.

"Yes," I tell her. "But that's irrelevant to HP's inability to master the orange key. The orange key is important, Maria. You can tell if someone's more than human by their mastery of it."

You're wondering why Maria and I are in the girl's bathroom together. You thought we'd gone with Neal to find Dante and Avalon. You're also wondering why I'm now spelling it N-E-A-L when I was spelling it N-E-I-L-L before.

I'm passively-aggressively spelling his name incorrectly in various ways to minimize the possibility of him finding this before our little adventure is finished. I'd rather he couldn't prove I know what I know about Maria. He knows I know, of course, but he needs proof to act on it. Like in writing. On a blog.

Maria and I are in the bathroom because we're changing our clothes. Implied by the mention of my clothes changing skillz. Neal sent us to the mall to acquire some garments that would raise our incognito stats. All Maria needed was something a little less destruction chic. I needed to cover up. Problematic because a lack of weather generally means a lot of covering-upage is unnecessary. Even if Dante could have offered me his parka, it would have drawn the guardians' attention like a magnet.

Options for my blending in are a hoodie with the hood up or an over-sized comical hat. I wanted to get a hat. Neal told me no. So I got a hoodie. It's yellow. And pink. And teal. An inconsiderate mob of color. There's a very small but probable chance the combination will induce seizures. Not so much incognito as just neato. Got because Maria dared me to. Maybe that she'll be humiliated long before I am.

She wears jeans. In grey boots. Yellow shirt. No patterns. Good. We don't want to clash. Like cymbals. Very disruptive.

"That is one ugly hoodie, Ethan." Her face is doing that smile people do when they're secretly happy but are trying to make you think they disapprove. "It's so bad it's good again."

"I tend to have that effect," I tell her.

We're supposed to go wait for Neal outside the mall. Blend in. Be neato incognito. Or at least try to keep from being hauled out of the city by the guardians. Or thrown in a dungeon and forced to battle our way to freedom. Or whatever it is they do to unwanted visitors. I'm not really sure.

Shocking. I know. Can't say I've ever really wanted to find out. Professional curiosity only goes so far. Unlike Valor powers, I have a healthy sense of self-preservation.

Maria and I leave the bathroom. All casual like it's normal. We head for the exit. Not too fast. Just walk with a purpose. Silence mixes with song. Getting hard to tell which silence is whose. Dante. Avalon. Neal. The guardians. Too much silence. Shouldn't be so much in one place. Draws attention. The wrong kind.

A jangle of distorted Beauty catches me. Maria's got her arm threaded through mine. Three layers of fabric and the contact still stings. I must wince.

"What?" She looks at me. Really means the question. "I'm just keeping you from wandering off or walking into a bench or something. Don't go getting the wrong idea."

No such things. Ideas are ideas. People make them wrong or right.

I shrug. It's a good enough response.

"Do you think they're ok?" she asks, her voice low.

"Hope so."

"Me too."

Take a moment. Appreciate the two of us. Arm in arm. We're practically friends. Got it? Good. Because it lasted about two seconds before the garbage can attacked.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone

I liked Time of Angels a lot more than Flesh and Stone. Not because Flesh and Stone isn't an important episode, but because I felt like it was trying to do too much too quickly.

And look at the shoes River wore in Time of Angels. They are so unbelievable, that you can forgive they are Not Era.

There was a lot great stuff in these episodes: the image of an angel is an angel alone is a philosophy paper. I have to say Amy wins this series. She just does. Not because she tried to seduce the Doctor, but because she's just made of more win than 11 & River Song put together.

I am considering changing the label for this to "Amy Pond FTW."

What I've concluded from these two episodes:

1) River Song killed the Doctor.

2) Steven Moffat has a thing about forests, monsters using dead people's voices to speak through communicators, and people turning off light sources. I will use this information to craft the 11th Doctor drinking game.

3) Next time there's a continuity error in something I write, I'm going to say to my agent "Look, a giant crack in time!" because giant cracks in time explain everything. And they eat people. Then make you forget that the person ever existed. Giant cracks in time are like what Weeping Angels want to be when they grow up.

4) For example: Giant cracks in time explain how despite that the whole basis of the Weeping Angels is that they quantum lock when you're watching them, they don't actually know when you have your eyes closed.

5) All space ships should have forests on them. Forests on space ships are AWESOME.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

Kimberly Derting's debut novel, The Body Finder, is an elegant addition to your To Be Read list. Derting has crafted an intriguing novel with just enough hint of the paranormal to make it interesting, while maintaining a realistic grounding that keeps the narrative refreshing.

Violet Ambrose has a morbid gift: She senses "echoes" of murders that cling to both the victim and the killer. These echoes manifest as an additional sensory experience—a taste, a smell, a sound, a sparkle of rainbow-colored light. Each echo is unique to its kill, and every animal—or person—who has killed carries those echoes with them for rest of their lives.

Weird, true, but manageable. Violet's bigger problem is that she's returned to high school after a summer break to discover puberty has replaced her best friend, Jay, with a guy whom every girl in school wants to date—including Violet. But can she risk their friendship? Is it wrong to have those feelings for her best friend?

As the narrative progresses into that well-known tale of two friends falling in love, girls from the area start going missing and bodies start being found.

The Body Finder is very much a teen romance with a solid thriller subplot. It handles both aspects well. By building suspense through the use of those monsters who are completely human to create the horror, Derting's debut stands out from every other paranormal title on the shelf. The interludes from the killer's perspective, which are woven through the story when it most needs that little extra push to keep the pacing going, are some of the finest passages in the novel.

Which is not to discredit the appeal of Derting's main characters and their young love blossoming. Teens will find it relevant; adults will find it nostalgic. The story takes its time to set the tone, paint the scenery, and builds to a satisfying climax that will leave you breathless.  

The Body Finder made my list of top reads for 2010, and I'm very much anticipating its follow-up, DESIRES OF THE DEAD, in March 2011.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Victory of the Daleks

I'm unconvinced that I even liked this episode, so I'm probably just going to mock it. Ready?

This was the episode that was all about the New!Shiny! Daleks. The twist was that they gave us a whole bunch of New!Shiny! Daleks. My personal favorites were the Ironsides... because they were incredibly creepy with their shouty servitude and tea bringing.

You should not allow Daleks to serve you tea.

The most awesome thing about these special edition Daleks: The Ironsides have POCKETS AROUND THEIR NECKS. Who are those pockets for? Not the Ironsides—their little plunger arms can't open a snap that's on the other side of their bodies. Is it where they keep their tea that they're so happy to make for the allied forces?

Again, completely with 11 on his decision. Daleks should be hit with things. Giant Iron Wrenches are a good choice, but I still think a large mallet would have been more satisfying—and have absorbed the impact shock.

I couldn't find a picture of the New!Shiny!Daleks, so just pretend this picture of iPod Nanos are them. They're totally similar: shiny brightly-colored plastic ready to seriously rock out to some Ke$ha while obliterating all other MP3 players.

I recommend as you look at the photo you say in a Dalek voice: WE ARE HERE TO PLAY YOU MUSIC. YOU WILL ENJOY OR YOU WILL BE DISINTEGRATED. That way you can feel like you're watching the episode with me.

Welcome the new Dalek Color-Coded Death Paradigm, which is not nearly as entertaining as Daleks in pointy pope hats.

My last complaint about this episode? Thanks to Mark Gatiss—whose episodes have never really been my cup of Dalek-served tea—I am now scared of eating Peek Freans Fruit Creme cookies. Yes, it might be a cookie, but what if it's actually a TARDIS self-destruction device that just looks like a cookie? How could I live with myself if I caused the TARDIS to self-destruct because I could only find old lady cookies to have with my Dalek-served tea?

To sum up, the only thing in this episode that actually matters: Why doesn't Amy remember the rather unforgettable events of series four?