green_knight: (Never Enough)
I picked up the first of these in a supermarket the other day because I could not resist the eight-poster bed, read it yesterday, and today picked up the next two volumes. They are

Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse
Goth Girl and the Fete Worse Than Death
Goth Girl and the Wuthering Fright

by Chris Ridell.

Young readers (the alleged intended audience) will probably enjoy them - they're not quite graphic novels, but they have a lot of graphic elements[*], and very silly plots - but well-read, pun-loving adults with a good grounding in literature and contemporary British culture will probably enjoy them even more.

Since I started reading them the air has been punctuated by laughter every now and again when a penny drops. I am halfway through book two, and there seems to be a puddle of pennies at my feet...


And now I shall return to the statue of a sulking-looking seamonster known as 'Mopey Dick'.

[*] extra points for innovative use of footnotes

Posted by Sharon

So, last night, just as we were going to bed, we had a bat invasion.  Followed a fun-filled 45 minutes while we convinced the coon cats that it was not their bat, but our bat; got Scrabble back from the Big Dark Outside, when she strolled while we were holding the door open for the bat to exit; and last but not least, I executed a net-throw that would have won applause in any gladiatorial display, and brought the bat down mid-flight, into the shopping bag that Steve was holding ready.

Yes, sometimes we really are that good.  The “net” by the way, was a mosquito net meant to be worn over a hat.  Here’s a picture.

The bat was taken outside and released, whereupon we went to bed, but the coon cats did not, choosing instead to prowl the house, looking for their bat.

Well.

As of this morning, Sleeping with the Enemy: Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 22, by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller is available in paper from Amazon only.  Here’s your link.

I will be converting the rest of the chapbooks as I have time and energy.  Nothing like a firm schedule, am I right?

As of this writing, in addition to Sleeping. . .  Change Management: Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 23and Due Diligence: Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 24 are also available in digital and paper editions.

And, now, having goofed off much of the morning; it’s time to go to work.

See you on the flip-side.

Today’s blog post title brought to you by — of course! — Meatloaf, “Bat out of Hell.”  Here’s your link.

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Total Solar Eclipse of 1979

Aug. 20th, 2017 04:58 am[syndicated profile] apod_feed

From cold, clear skies over Riverton, Manitoba, Canada, planet Earth, From cold, clear skies over Riverton, Manitoba, Canada, planet Earth,


yhlee: Alto clef and whole note (middle C). (alto clef)
A couple friends let me know that talking about composing for orchestra is, in fact, something that might be of some minor interest and also I am taking a break from working on Dragon Pearl while the Dragon borrows my laptop (which is my writing machine), so.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a professional composer! I did not go to conservatory. I am an interested amateur. My background is seven years of more or less classical piano, including a few years at the Houston Music Institute (relevant because they taught some theory and basic composition), a few years of viola, and years of screwing around on basically every instrument I could get my hands on, including three summers of classical guitar, mandolin, soprano recorder, pennywhistle, ocarina, and diatonic and chromatic harmonica. (Harmonicas actually get pretty complicated, more complicated than I personally can deal with--different tunings, cross-harp, slant-harp, etc. I only know the basics. [1]) This kind of jack-of-all-trades-ism is not great if you want to be a performer, where you really ought to become expert in your chosen instrument(s), but it's not awful if you want to compose.

[1] To anyone who doubts that the harmonica is a "real" classical instrument, I present to you Villa-Lobos' Concerto for Harmonica and Orchestra with soloist Robert Bonfiglio [Youtube], which is the recording I used to have before the stupid fucking flood. That's a chromatic harmonica, BTW; you can tell because of the use of the chromatic slide in some of the ornaments. More information. I will FIGHT anyone who tells me the harmonica is not a REAL INSTRUMENT.

Further caveat, I am only discussing Western music. I don't know enough about non-Western traditions to tell you anything useful about them. I compose more or less neoclassically because that's what pleases my ear and I feel no need to be innovative in a technical/theoretical sense. (Schoenberg's twelve-tone system is brilliant from a technical/theoretical sense but I cannot usually stand listening to it except in the limited context of certain kinds of film/TV scoring. I wouldn't listen to it for fun.)

And for yucks, I have perfect pitch, which in almost all contexts is either useless or an active hindrance (I am a suck liar and let's just say that I avoid a cappella performances and first-year string players like the plague--there's such a thing as good a cappella, but unless you are Carnegie Hall good I don't want to risk it), but has limited applications in the realm of music, ahahaha. For most applications relative pitch is hell and away more useful. (I actually get interference between relative and perfect pitch, which sucks.)

Anyway, let's talk a little about the fundamentals of music from the standpoint of composing.

I keep telling people that composing for orchestra is not hard. Composing for orchestra well is hard. Because it's true! It's a lot of things, true, but you can break it down into components. I'll talk a little more about this below.

Music is about patterns--creating tension with different dimensions of pattern, then resolving it. In terms of pitch, you only have twelve of them repeating across various octaves to work with! But because you can combine the pitches in different ways, you can come up with different melodies. Speaking in terms of standard music notation, that's the "horizontal" dimension. And pitch is combined with patterns of rhythm--units of time. cut for length and tl;dr )

Okay, I am out of brain and I'm not sure any of this even makes sense to anyone who is not me. :] I am happy to answer questions (or, if you compose music yourself, talk shop!).

bookspoils!

Aug. 19th, 2017 06:04 pm[personal profile] yhlee
yhlee: Drop Ships from Race for the Galaxy (RTFG)
Returned books to library. Got these from the booksale shelves for 5 cents apiece (they were 1 cent apiece but I told the librarian to keep the 8 cents of change):

- Star Trek tie-in novel Ishmael by Barbara Hambly--I read this a long time ago and like Hambly :)
- Star Trek tie-in novel Uhura's Song by Janet Kagan \o/ I read this a few years back and also thought it was lovely! I'm really thrilled to own my own copy, in decent shape for a library discard even, although it means the library didn't want it anymore. -_-

What are some of your favorite recent libraryspoils/loanspoils/bookspoils?

ETA: Oh, and while I'm at it, I'm sad I woke up from a dream involving an animated TV series of P.C. Hodgell's Chronicles of the Kencyrath. I'm several books behind in that series (at this point I might as well wait until it's all out before rereading the whole thing from the start) but would that not be awesomesauce?!
yhlee: rose in a hexagon (hxx emblem Andan)
I've been zigzagging between S1 and S2 because the Dragon didn't want to watch S1 (too much interpersonal drama for her taste) so I was watching S2 with her up till her bedtime, and going back to finish S1 with Joe.

cut for spoilers? )

(ahahahaha my husband gets the joke in my moodicon tonight but I wonder how many other people will get it?)
yhlee: Sandman raven with eyeball (Sandman raven (credit: rilina))
I did not finish this book not because I thought it was poorly argued or poorly written, but because, despite it being very interesting, I just cannot brain this right now. (I'm under deadline for a novel.)

Heath Fogg Davis is a trans man and associate professor in political science at Temple University, and his book, Beyond Trans: Does Gender Matter? suggests that there are many situations in which clinging to gender categories is not necessary and even counterproductive. The context appears to largely be USAn, although I only got a little way into the book so that might not be true of later chapters.

The book opens with the case of a public transit system in Philadelphia that used to issue passes in both male and female variants. It begins with the dilemma of a trans woman who bought a female pass, only to be bounced off the bus because the bus driver judged her not to be a "real" woman, so she bought a male pass, and was bounced off the bus for not being male. At that point, she's screwed--what does she do? But trans people weren't the only one hit by this--a lot of cis people who didn't match certain bus drivers' preconceptions of gender presentation/appearance were also sometimes denied passage.

Davis then goes on to examine the reason why bus passes even had this designation to begin with. Apparently the stated intent was to reduce fraud--basically, each person was supposed to buy their own pass, and they were trying to prevent husbands and wives from sharing a single pass. Except, of course, if you look at the problem and the "solution," it makes no sense--you could easily still have fraud with two people of the same "sex" (whatever that means, a topic Davis takes up later) sharing a pass. So basically the "solution" screwed a lot of people, was intrusive and humiliating, and didn't even solve the problem.

The chapters in this book are:

Introduction: Sex Stickers
1. The Sex Markers We Carry: Sex-Marked Identity Documents
2. Bathroom Bouncers: Sex-Segregated Restrooms [1]
3. Checking a Sex Box to Get into College: Single-Sex Admissions
4. Seeing Sex in the Body: Sex-Segregated Sports
Conclusion: Silence on the Bus
Appendix: The Gender Audit: A How-to Guide for Organizations

[1] I lived for two years in a dorm in undergrad that had co-ed restrooms. Nothing bad happened. My dad would have blown a gasket if he had found out, though. :p

I only got through the intro and the very beginning of chapter 1 and what I saw looked encouraging and thought-provoking, but please don't ask me what's in the rest of the book because I genuinely don't know. I'm going to return this and hope to check it out later when I have more brain so I can think about the issues properly; it's good knowing the book exists so I can return to it at some later point.

Posted by Rachel

Here’s a fun post from Chris Winkle at Mythcreants: Seven Ways to Bring Characters Together

You have a character that’s made from oozing lava, and another that’s a rolling snowball. They’ll make a great lava-snow duo, but right now they won’t so much as say hi. Don’t worry, storytellers have many tried-and-true plot devices for bringing characters from different walks of life together. Start by looking through these seven.

Yep, that’s an issue, and for me it can be a biiiig issue. It took a long while to everyone to get together in HOUSE OF SHADOWS, for example. That book may have offered the most separated plot threads I’ve ever had.

Let me see, long does it take the two lead characters to meet each other in WINTER OF ICE AND IRON (pre-orderable now for a mere $7.99)? It seems like forever but in fact they meet for the first time on page . . . let me flip through this copy here . . . page 205, at the beginning of chapter eleven. That’s a hair over a third of the way through the book, and then yes, one of these seven reasons does pressure them into becoming a team.

Oh, the seven ways Winkle mentions are:

1. Alliance of necessity
2. Have one hire the other
3. Start them off as antagonists
4. Give one leverage over the other
5. Make one guard the other
6. Make one investigate the other
7. Lead one to shelter the other

All of those are common, aren’t they? In WINTER, a common enemy provides the biggest push, which makes it a #1 type of situation, though there are aspects of some of the others as well.

It seems we should be able to find three more reasons, though the above are fairly broad and inclusive. Here’s one that’s pretty much missing from the above list, though:

8. They just happen to bump into each other and there is instant chemistry. That’s mostly for romance, and of course romances can use anything off that list, but the just-happen-to-meet thing certainly also happens in romances.

How would you characterize the romance in ATTACHMENTS by Rainbow Rowell, where the female lead isn’t aware of the male lead till right at the end, while he is falling in love with her by reading her emails? That’s certainly peculiar and seems like it deserves its own category, though how you would characterize that . . . maybe:

9. Falling in love long distance, with “long distance” meaning via letters, diary entries, and so on. Are there other examples of this besides Rowell’s book? Seems like I’ve got something right on the tip of my tongue.

It would be nice to get to ten. What about:

10. Have one impulsively rescue the other. Is that too similar to (7) above? I think it’s different. Think about Miri rescuing Val Con and vice versa in AGENT OF CHANGE. I’m sure there are other instances of sudden impulsive rescue followed by a partnership.

Of the batch, I’m not keen on (4), especially not if the character holding most of the cards is unlikable.

If the author can pull it off, I’m particularly into (3). Think of Nicholas Valiard and Inspecter Ronsarde in Death of the Necromancer.

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Huge Heyer Sale

Aug. 18th, 2017 02:24 pm[syndicated profile] filkferengi_feed
There's a huge sale on Georgette Heyer novels over on bn.com and amazon. Lots & lots of screens of e-books for 2.99 each.

Squee!

Posted by Rachel

Here is a post by Victor Milan at tor.com: Five Classic Works of SFF by Authors We Must Not Forget

Interestingly, I have read only one of these — Lord of Light by Zelazny. But I do think it’s a shame to stop at five when there are so many. Couldn’t Milan have at least gotten to ten? I figure I’ll help him out by providing a few more, which I’m listing below in the random order in which they occurred to me:

6. The Gaean trilogy by Varley. It’s practically a crime, how little attention Varley gets today. There may be no other author of his era who would better appeal to modern readers.

7. Ringworld by Niven. Niven pretty much founded the era of extraordinary SF settings, and did it better than practically anyone since. Also, Michael Whelan’s vision brought it to life for readers:

8. Dune. Obviously.

9. The Riddle-Master of Hed by McKillip. Hard to believe this was first published so long ago, but so it was. Modern readers are sooooo missing out if they do not grab up this trilogy.

10. The Last Unicorn by Beagle. Again, I’m amazed to find out how old that one is. But everyone still reads it, right? Or do modern readers miss out because they’re so swamped by the recent releases that are getting the current buzz? That would be a shame.

What else should obviously be included on a list of must-read classic or great SFF? If you have a moment, please drop one book published before, say, 1990, in the comments.

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Fantasy or SF?

Aug. 17th, 2017 05:44 pm[syndicated profile] rachel_neumeier_feed

Posted by Rachel

Here’s a fun post, via File 770: Fantasy or Science Fiction: Do You Know Your Stuff?

It is a list. Here, for example, is the section on metals:

iron = fantasy
wrought iron = steam punk
steel = both
stainless steel = SF
damascus steel = historical fantasy
aluminium = SF
gold = fantasy
silver = fantasy
platinum = cyberpunk
chrome = cyberpunk
lead = steam punk
copper = fantasy and steampunk
brass = steampunk
bronze = fantasy
tin = historical romance set in Cornwall
adamantium = high fantasy or superhero

It’s kind of funny, isn’t it? Because it’s moderately true. Though I just dropped a brass clock into a fantasy, it’s kind of a gaslamp fantasy, which is sort of an equivalent of steampunk.

There’s plenty more at the link.

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Pitch Epiphany

Aug. 17th, 2017 12:24 pm[personal profile] lizvogel
lizvogel: What is this work of which you speak? (Cat on briefcase.) (Work)
In my efforts to get back in the query trenches, I'm looking at an agent who has a long and unnecessarily-detailed (yet oddly appealing) submission form. One of the several things she wants, in addition to query and synopsis, is a one-line pitch.

Now, I've never had a good short pitch for Highway of Mirrors. The plot is highly dependent on a lot of character and backstory stuff, and it doesn't reduce down to a sound-bite in a coherent and appealing way. It would be much easier if I was pitching ...And The Kitchen Sink, which I've been known to describe as "a rollicking space-opera adventure filled with everything from ninjas to grues to a cyborg platypus." I'm fond of that pitch; it gives you a good idea right up front of what kind of book you're looking at, and if you want more details, you can always ask.

And then it hit me: That pitch for Kitchen Sink says nothing whatsoever about the plot. You can infer a little about the sort of plot from "space-opera adventure", but who does what where to whom? That's for the follow-up discussion, which is what a short pitch is supposed to encourage. And that's okay, because Kitchen Sink is not a plot-driven book. If you enjoy it, you'll enjoy it for the characters and the settings and the jokes about plural nouns. The plot holds up reasonably well, but it's primarily there as a framework to hang all the other stuff on.

And the same goes for Highway of Mirrors. Okay, not the grammar jokes. But it is not a plot-driven book either; what it's really about is the characters, their interactions, and the MC's ethical dilemma. But popular wisdom declares that you have to talk about the PLOT!!!, so every attempt I've made at a short pitch for HoM has been an attempt to summarize the plot in one sentence -- and not only does that tend to come across as confusing and/or stupid, it does nothing to tell you what makes the book worth reading.

So what do I think the point of HoM is? How about: "A spy on the run from her own agency has to compromise her ethics, her marriage, and even her daughter -- to protect her daughter." That could use a little fine-tuning, but it's much closer to why I care about this story in the first place than anything else I've tried. And if you're the right reader for this book, it might just be why you care about it, too.

Books read in 2017

Aug. 17th, 2017 02:31 pm[syndicated profile] sharonlee_feed

Posted by Sharon

47. Going Postal, Terry Pratchett (read aloud w/Steve)
46. Just One Damned Thing After Another, Jodi Taylor (e)
45. Wildfire, Ilona Andrews (e)
44. A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle (e) (re-read)
43. The Rose and the Dagger, Renée Ahdieh
42. Blaze of Memory, Nalini Singh (read aloud w/Steve)
41. The Wrath and the Dawn, Renée Ahdieh
40. Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness Only More So: A Memoir, Mark Vonnegut MD (e)
39. The Rule of Luck, Catherine Cerveny (e) (arc)
38. The Cat Who Saw Red, Lillian Jackson Braun (read aloud w/Steve)
37. The Girl with Ghost Eyes, M.H. Boroson (e)
36. Raising Steam, Terry Pratchett (read aloud w/Steve)
35. White Hot, Ilona Andrews (e)
34.  The Orientalist: Solving the Mystery of a Strange and Dangerous Life, Tom Reiss (e)
33. Mouse and Dragon, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller (e)
32. Caszandra, Andrea K. Host (e)
31. Lab Rat One, Andrea K. Host (e)
30. Stray, Andrea K. Host (e)
29. The Cat Who Turned On and Off, Lillian Jackson Braun (read aloud w/Steve)
28. Apprentice in Death, J.D. Robb (e/l)
27. The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern, Lillian Jackson Braun (read aloud w/Steve)
26. The Face in the Frost, John Bellairs (e)
25. Hanged for a Sheep, Frances and Richard Lockridge (e)
24. Xamnesia, Lizzie Harwood (e)
23. Convergence, C. J. Cherryh, (read aloud with Steve)
22. Rock Addiction, Nalini Singh (e)
21. The Stranger in the Woods, Michael Finkel
20. Etched in Bone, Anne Bishop (e)
19. Rider at the Gate, CJ Cherryh (re-read)
18. Small Gods, Terry Pratchett (read aloud w/Steve)
17. Silence Fallen, Patricia Briggs (e)
16. The Cold Eye, Laura Anne Gilman
15. The Cat Who Could Read Backwards, Lillian Jackson Braun (read aloud w/Steve)
14. Memory, Linda Nagata (e)
13.  Bonita Faye, Margaret Moseley (e)
12.  Burn for Me, Ilona Andrews (e)
11. Snuff, Terry Pratchett (read aloud w/Steve)
10. A Taste of Honey, Kai Ashante Wilson (e)
9.  Some Danger Involved, Will Thomas
8.  Thud!, Terry Pratchett (read aloud w/Steve)
7.  White Tiger, Kylie Chan
6.  The Hanging Tree, Ben Aaronovitch
5.  Trading in Danger, Elizabeth Moon (e)
4.  The Wolf in the Attic, Paul Kearney (e)
3.  The Cat Who Saw Red, Lillian Jackson Braun (read aloud w/Steve)
2.  Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch: The Definitive Account of the Best Little Whorehouse, Jayme Lynn Blaschke (e)
1. Sand of Bone, Blair MacGregor (e)

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The Power of Purr

Aug. 17th, 2017 02:25 pm[syndicated profile] sharonlee_feed

Posted by Sharon



Today, with the exception of needing to go to the doctor for a follow-up exam this afternoon, is a Work Day, and I will be shutting down the internets very soon.



 



I do want to mention, for the people who are here for the cats…the marvelous healing power of purrs.



 



At the ER Monday night, I was given a shot of high-test ibuprofen, and given a muscle-relaxant in pill form to take before I went to bed. In theory, this was to help me sleep through the night.



 



In fact, it helped me sleep for about four hours, when the pain woke me again and I lay in bed counting the hours until CVS opened and I — well, actually, Steve — could go into town and get the prescriptions filled. I twisted and turned and couldn’t find any position that provided relief — for an hour or so by the clock on the ceiling.



 



About 4 am, I decided that, if I started walking, I could be in Waterville when CVS opened, Belle jumped up to the foot of the bed, STOMPED up until she was next to me, sat down and HUFFED. It really was very clearly, “What on earth is the matter with you, stupid kitten?” — and she started to purr.



 



“It won’t work,” I told her. Whereupon she blinked at me, threw herself against my chest (I was laying on my side) and brought up the Big, Deep, Rough purrs from ‘way down at the bottom of the Purr Box. I closed my eyes, still convinced that it wasn’t going to work. . .



 



And woke up at 9 am with my back hurting, but somewhat less.



 



The rest of Tuesday was spent with heating pad on/heating pad off, listening to Pandora and dozing. Trooper took day-shift, with Sprite filling in for necessary breaks. Yesterday, all was very nearly back to normal, though Trooper and Belle still hung close, and today, as previously suggested is a work day.



 



As I type, Belle is in the wooden basket on my desk, and Trooper is sitting next to the keyboard, purring and aiming head-butts at my chin.



 



Everybody have a good day.




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Ursula Vernon, who just won the Best Novelette Hugo, stopped in Iceland en route to WorldCon. She was with her husband Kevin, his cousin, Amy, & their friend Tina. They storified the trip, here:

https://storify.com/RebelsHeart/ursula-vernon-and-friends-vs-iceland

There're lots of gorgeous photos & great snark.

Perseid by the Sea

Aug. 17th, 2017 05:11 am[syndicated profile] apod_feed

Just after moonrise on August 12 this grain of cosmic sand Just after moonrise on August 12 this grain of cosmic sand


Face Off through 1.5

Aug. 16th, 2017 11:47 pm[personal profile] yhlee
yhlee: hexarchate Andan blue rose (hxx Andan)
Note: I've been spoiled for the winner of S1 because I started with 2.1-2.2, both of which I rewatched tonight because the Dragon wanted to watch the show with me, and she wanted to skip S1 because she couldn't stand the backbiting. The Dragon loves art (she's in Talented Art in school) and I think it's really good for her to be exposed to this show since she's enjoying it, and I hope she finds the discussion of aesthetics inspiring. But mostly we're watching it for fun. =)

Read more... )

Meanwhile, in happier news, guess which household's preordered hardcopy of Starfinder RPG arrived today?! =D =D =D I'm not convinced by most of the class/character artwork (some of the gun designs are atrocious--why the fuck would you make a scope design that undulates?!) but the environment/matte painting is gorgeous. I oohed and ahhed over the illustrations for the different homeworlds in particular.

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