logo
Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: Fiction
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2018-04-21 10:07
Reading progress update: I've read 22%. - I'm seeing this through an old man's eyes
Space Opera - Catherynne M. Valente

Most of the time, I forget how old I am. True, I great each day with an immediate awareness of minor aches and pains and a low level fatigue that nuzzles me like a loyal Labrador rather than springing awake and wondering what to do with the parts that spring the most, but that has all happened so slowly, I'm mostly able to ignore it and it's not like it's a surprise, just aging as advertised.

 

But for a long time, I thought that life inside my head, where I live for an unhealthily large proportion of the day, went on as it always did, with me being the same me I've always been, without the need to dress up or remember not to scratch where it itches.

 

This book, which, as you can see, has infected me with a fever for long, long, continuous stream of confused consciousness writing, has made me see that that belief is not so much a lie as a self-imposed blindness.

 

Have you ever moved out of a house and, as the furniture that has sat unmoved for decades, is carted away and the curtains are taken down and sunlight streams into places it hasn't been able to reach in recent memory and then seen that the paint is faded, dustbunnies have formed civilizations complicated enought to be ready to make a break for the next room and the floorboards that haven't had furniture crouching on them are scarred and tarnishe and ALL OF THIS is now so obvious that you cannot understand why you've never seen it before?  That's what reading and reflecting on this book has done to my perception of life inside my head.

 

It's clear that, even inside my head, I'm really sixty-one Who knew? Not me, I've lived here for too long.

 

So what prompted this unlooked-for epiphany? Reading a couple of chapters in what, to my own younger eyes, might have seemed a silly but cool and wickedly bright book.

 

It is cool and wickedly bright. But it's more than that. The author behind the curtains is not yet forty but she knows and wants us, old-enough-to-spot-it folks, to know, that behind the wit and the exuberance and the anarchic energy, lies the reality of hard choices, inevitable age and the ephemeral nature of ineffable music.

 

Chapter 3 is all about a cutely presented ultimatum from the alien races that humanity must pass a test or be obliterated. Once I'd have been amused at how this was done and impressed at the strength of the steel-fisted logic in the single white Michael Jackson glove. Now I find myself angry at the aliens because they can't see that their own post-holocaust civilization is still built on the acceptance of the genocide as a necessary part of maintaining peace and that that kind of peace is too pricey to maintain. That might just be me being me but it's probably me being a grumpy (but right) old guy.

 

Chapter 4 is all about the launch of the rock band "Decibel Jones and The Absolute Zeros". This is nothing short of wonderful. It captures all the desperation and freedom and NEED for identity and terrifying fear of failure that bands live with. So what made me focus on being old? I suddenly realised that I AM the old guy running the open-mike pub in Brighton and watching Decibel Jones launch himself into the world like a baby bird falling from a tree. I've been listening to music since before the author was born. I love it but I see it's scars and wrinkles more clearly now than I used to. So here's how the venue owner reacted to the first performance of the band:

 

"He laughed and laughed in total silence while bright-eyed, ambitious Lila Poole patted his shoulder and tears streamed out from under his glasses, down his booze-blooming cheeks, and into the soft darkness of his smoke hole, seeping toward the last part of him that remembered what it was like when he was young and everything in the world sounded just like that.

 

He wept into his single pint."

See what I mean?

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2018-04-21 06:30
Reading progress update: I've read 132 out of 268 pages.
Space Opera - Catherynne M. Valente

The key to a happy life, Capo devoutly believed, was never giving much of a damn what happened in any given day so long as you got in a nap, a kill, and a snuggle, and the snuggle was optional. When Oort and Justine had adopted her from that shelter and taken her to a nice house where she was to be expected to be civilized, well-behaved indoor cat despite the whole joint lacking anything like a population of murderable sparrows, field mice, bunnies, and whatnot, she hadn´t run around making grand speeches and crying and questioning the meaning of it all. She ´d just carried on and contented herself with spiders, pieces of lint, and occasionally scratching or biting one of the kids just to keep in practice.

The nap was the really important thing. The nap was all.

 

I love the cat!

 

This book is so bonkers, Capo is going to be a part of the band. Or she might save the world in the end.  

 

 

Like Reblog Comment
text 2018-04-21 05:04
Eco-Fi: Writing as a moral act

"True art is moral. We recognize true art by its' careful, thoroughly honest search for an analysis of values. It is not didactic because, instead of teaching by authority and force, it explores, open-mindedly, to learn what it should teach. It clarifies like an experiment in a chemistry lab, and confirms."

- John Gardner, On Moral Fiction, 1978

 

Okay, so this is a bit high-minded, but still it's something I aspire to in my writing.

 

I've tried to write strictly commercial fiction, but my characters and plots won't let me. At some point they tell me, "Hey, I'm not that shallow, superficial person and I won't let you portray me as such." At this point the vapid story I've been writing takes an unexpected direction and everything gets out of control and I'm back dealing with three dimensional characters in complicated situations that test their integrity.

 

Or at least I'm trying to.

 

How then does a writer, if so inclined, build their fiction on strong, ethical ground?

 

I subscribe to the method suggested by Carol Bly, Author of The Passionate, Accurate Story: Making Your Heart’s Truth into Literature. She suggests that even before beginning to write a story, consider composing a “Values Listing,” a written record of the things that are most important to you.

 

Then, throughout the writing process ensure these values continue to be identified in your work. That means these values are present in the issues and conflicts your characters confront and that they themselves are grounded in or address these same principles.

 

Here's the Value's Listing Questions. My answers are in capitals

 

VALUE’S LISTING:

 

1. Two goals or values which make life good or bearable or would if they were in operation. PRESERVING ENVIRONMENT/ ENCOURAGING THE HUMAN SPIRIT

 

2. Two goals or values which cause injustice and suffering or lessening of joy. WEALTH/MATERIALISM and the NEED TO CONTROL

 

3. Two missing goals or behaviors. As a child, you thought grown-up life would have these. Now that you are an adult you don’t see them around. HONESTY/INTEGRITY and RESPONSIBILITY/CREDIBILITY

 

4. Two injustices you see about you and should keep an eye on, even on your wedding day. RACISM/DISCRIMINATION and DESTRUCTION OF WILDERNESS

 

Considering my the list of my values, it's not surprising four of my novels could be categorized as Environmental Fiction, interpreted as a story of any genre; romance, mystery, literary, etc., with a subplot that addresses an important environmental issue.

 

In writing ECO-FI my hope is readers will be entertained by all the elements of a good story and will also come away a little more wiser about the environmental issues important to me and that effect us all.

 

ECO-FI TITLES:

SAVING SPIRIT BEAR - What Price Success?

LOVING THE TERRORIST - Risking it All

MAD MAGGIE - And the Wisdom of the Ancients

FOREST - Love, Loss, Legend

 

This stand-alone series will be part of my back-list promotion throughout 2018 and 2019 that will include upcoming FREE book days on Amazon. To be included in free offers of my existing books or the opportunity to receive Advance Reading Copies on new work, consider joining my ADVANCE READING TEAM at http://eepurl.com/cj5wjj

 

Buy links for these books include:

Amazon - http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU

Smashwords - http://www.smashwords.com

Draft2Digital - https://www.draft2digital.com

 

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-04-21 03:15
The Martian
The Martian - Andy Weir

One day you start the normal morning routine on a Mars expedition, but the end of the day you’re bleeding and alone on the Red Planet with everyone believing your dead.  The Martian by Andy Weir follows the life and death struggle of astronaut Mark Watney on the surface of Mars as he attempts to stay alive and find a way to contact NASA to get him home.

 

On the sixth day of the third manned mission to Mars, an intense dust storm scrubs the mission but during the evacuation the mission’s botanist and engineer Mark Watney is seemingly impaled by a broken antenna and left behind.  However luck would have it Watney has only a minor injury, but alone on the surface.  Taking stock of everything left at base camp, Watney begins planning how to survive until the next mission to Mars and figuring out how to contact NASA, both of which he eventually does through not without significant challenges.  Meanwhile NASA has had to do an about face on Watney’s status and begin to figure out how to save him, which means doing things as quickly as possible but results in setbacks and later teaming up with the Chinese to resupply Watney’s crew who “mutiny” by demand to get back to Mars to save their friend.

 

Weir created a science-based scenario with all the physical and elemental challenges that a stranded astronaut would face on Mars, as well as how it would happen.  Watney’s easy-going persona, well as easy-going as one could get while stranded on Mars and hoping to find a way off, makes for numerous laughs that along with Weir’s very easy to read prose makes for a book that is hard to put down.  Yet I can’t avoid some of the downsides to the book, namely the end of the book that is almost predictable from the outset and the somewhat manufactured drama especially concerning the internal workings of NASA to results in the crew “mutiny”.

 

The Martian is a very readable hard science fiction novel, the debut work of Andy Weir.  The main character and Weir’s easy prose made this book hard to put down and made me linger reading “just one more page” at night, thus making this a book that I can’t help but recommend to both science fiction fans and general readers alike.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-04-20 23:04
Evening Stars (Blackberry Island #3) by Susan Mallery
Evening Stars - Susan Mallery

This is a story about Nina and her weird, sometimes dysfunctional family. Nina is the lead nurse and right hand woman to Dr. Andi from book two. Nina had dreams of medical school and leaving the island, but family issues convinced her to choose nursing school and staying to help take care of her family and the family business (antiques). So Nina pushes her sister to leave the island and explore her dreams, but that leaves Averil at almost 30 with a lot of unanswered questions and stunted maturity which leaves her marriage to a great guy in jeopardy. To help her move on and become an adult, Averil returns home and old wounds are re-opened but are actually dealt with by Averil and Nina (not so much the mom). 

 

Added to Nina's plate is the return of her high school sweetheart Dylan. He broke her heart and she gave up on her dreams after that. He is back to go into practice with his father and to try and win back Nina. Complicating that is Kyle, a Navy fighter pilot who had a huge crush on Nina when he was a kid and she was babysitting his little sister. Kyle is a smooth talker and according to Nina, a sex god - according to me he came off as CREEPY AS FUCK. Seriously, everything he said was a line or a dramatic declaration of undying love. I'm glad Nina got her needs taken care of by him, but slow your roll dude. He walked the devoted/stalker line every time he was on the page. 

 

I read this book in one day, because there was a good mix of plot and character arc development. I'm firmly on Team Bertie - she was the unsung hero of the book, with a honorable mention to Cindy, the antique miracle worker.  Also loved Nina's ending, giving a strong HEA vibe without engagement/marriage/baby mentions that typically end a romance novel.

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?