I don’t Facebook-my characters do: Facebook Invasion

Over at Terrible Minds Chuck Wendig threw down a confusing but interesting flash fiction challenge.

Tell a story using a social media platform (FB/Twitter/etc). Yeah, ok Chuck, I’ll grant you, it’s hard to explain! Basically an epistolary using your social media of choice. An interesting challenge. Not one I’m sure I’ll be quick to repeat, but difficult things are good challenges. Though I do love reading messages and tweets from superheroes, I’m not sure that is the kind of writer I am. I am not nearly cool enough for that.

I opted for Facebook, despite my lack of booking of face.

There is no audio with this because I don’t even know how I’d do that. There is however for your viewing pleasure, screen caps of this Facebook Invasion.

Facebook Invasion

I’m not entirely sure the best way to make this accessible in case you want it in a not screen cap format. But I’ve created a PDF of the script for Facebook Invasion. (If this doesn’t work for you please let me know!)

Stay tuned, later this week I’ll be updating you on where I’m at with the upcoming podcast, options for participating, and other cool things. I hope.

The number one thing I’ve learned from this flash fiction piece is I cannot spell “invasion” I keep typing “invation”.

Alone – Again

A couple of updates and then onto another flash fiction piece (or jump ahead for Alone – Again).

Update: Publishing

Thieves has been updated and remastered and is out now on Amazon for $.99. It will also, hopefully, be out soon on Audible as an audiobook. (Check back for updates on that.) I will also have another audiobook (I’m reading someone else’s book) coming out soon on Audible. I’ll announce that when everything is finalized and it is available.

Update: Podcasting

I will be kicking off my own podcast in March. It will be a primarily flash fiction podcast. So episodes will be normally 10 minutes or less of audio fiction. I may also create opportunities to feature flash fiction from other authors, so please get in touch with me if you are interested.

Update: Dead stuff…wait…

I think I found – yet another!- dead podcast, but it had a flash fiction challenge I decided to take on anyway, despite being…months late. Whoops.

Episode 6 – Keeping it Real – Writing in the moment

Alone – Again

Alone – Again audio

The glass shatters on the closing door. I kick the couch and growl at the pain.
“Alone.” I huff and storm across the apartment. The apartment was designed for two, now it would be just me, alone. “Again.”

I brush my hands across my face, red and hot with anger. I growl at the empty space. I snarl at the hole left behind. I won’t get irrational and overly emotional. I’m perfectly rational about this.

She’s the one who is being irrational. I have been nothing but rational, reasonable, and kind.

I grab the plates off the table and toss them into the kitchen recycler. I flick the switch and it starts separating things. The recycler will pull the organic detritus from the strong, sturdy, remoldable plastic.

I storm over to shelves and throw them open. I snap at her clothes “I was great, she said. I was everything she wanted. She loved me.” I grab an armful of her clothes and throw them into the laundry chute. “LIES!” The chute flashes Recycle or Clean. I smack Recycle.

I stop in the middle of the living room and look around for evidence of her. A painting she made. Worthless. Her absurdly, expensive collection of old fashioned silverware. Sell it. She said she never wanted to see me again, so she wouldn’t.

I unclench my jaw and massage my neck. “I don’t deserve this. I deserve someone who cares about me.”

I sink into the chair and lean back into the computer. I look through my files, cleaning her out of them.

I’m going to make her go away. I open my editor and start pulling out memories. I start with the oldest ones, the best ones. I have a note in my editor to never start with the newest memories. I don’t know why it is there, but I trust me. I feel my anger, my frustration rise as the memories slip away. Until, I sweep the last of them out and my body relaxes.

I look at my system, my brain editor is open, I frown for a moment. I must have been stressed out about something but that’s gone now. I think maybe I’ll turn in early tonight. I hear a chime from the door.

A beautiful blonde in an incredibly sexy red dress shoves past me. Her face is smeared with makeup and tears. She grabs down a painting I don’t remember buying, and weird collection of shadowboxes with something shiny inside. I watch her with confusion.

“You already deleted me didn’t you?” She wipes at the makeup, smearing it more. “You’re never going to be happy if you don’t start learning and stop deleting. But it doesn’t matter. You’re going to delete this right now aren’t you?” She snorts and leaves.

I go back to the computer to pull up whatever I’d just deleted. I look at the editor and instead delete my recent memory with a swipe.

Ring of Bullets

Another flash fiction challenge from someone else’s title thanks to Chuck Wendig. I selected Ring of Bullets and I went weirdly literal? I feel like there are a lot of places to go weirdly literal with Ring of Bullets. Last time I selected a title no one else had picked and then as the stories started to filter in it was one of the more popular ones. So I’m just going with the one that grabbed me when I read through the list.

I’m still working toward the short and flash fiction podcast. I will be likely opening it up to doing reading of other author’s work occasionally so if you are interested please let me know.

Ring of Bullets

Ring of Bullets – Audio version

It has been 16 years. 16 years of peace, prosperity, life saving breakthroughs, empathy, and all the good things humanity ever strove toward. The first few years no one believed it, no one knew this would be real, no one thought it would last.

A few people today, still say it won’t stick. They stand on the street corners, yelling and shouting, while people walk past in a blissful haze. I sometimes stop and watch. Every couple hours a Representative comes out and brings them water, or a snack, and offers them help. I’ve never seen someone take the help.

Well, not in the last ten years. At the start, of course, everyone was getting help. Everyone was helping. Then people got used to it. The world is perfect, but it isn’t special anymore. Just another perfect Tuesday.

I remember what it used to be. It really is better now. I remember the ache of hunger, the deep despair of loss, the dull emptiness of disasters—the worse feeling when it was people who made the disaster.

The last few years have been the strangest. I feel like I don’t belong in this world anymore. It is still perfect. It is still amazing. Every single day.

I was excited 16 years ago. I was thrilled to finally be able to follow my passion of making art. I had help setting up a jewelry studio. I started to find my niche when people brought me old things. They wanted them turned into bracelets, necklaces, shimmering reminders of the past. Of how far we’ve come.

This job was bullets. An old man—he would have been an old man when the peace began—came in with a handful of bullets. He wanted something that he could give his great-granddaughter on her wedding day.

The bullets were lighter than I expected. He’d taken them apart before he brought them to me. He wasn’t sure what he wanted exactly. He said I was the artist, I should use them to make art. I’d smiled at him.

I would make him something that honored what it had taken to get here. The sacrifices had been great.

I ran the bullets through my scanner and my cleaner. They were, just as he’d said, safe, already taken apart.

I sat at my bench and pulled out a paper sketch pad. I had a computer I could sketch on too, of course, I used it for people who wanted something specific. I could render it in minutes while they watched. When I had time, I preferred the paper, the sound of the scratch of the pencil.

I sketched a dozen designs and threw them out. Nothing was working right. I decided just to work with the metals. I dumped the bullets out onto the table, dozens of them.

I picked up one with the outer part peeling off. I was able to peel away the copper easily with my fingers. At some point the lights in my workshop came on automatically. I had tiny cuts on my fingers and a pile of separated metals.

I scooped up the heavy discs, dotted with my blood and dropped them into my bin to recycle. I knew that I would make a bracelet, a thin, delicate, copper bracelet. It would gleam and shine with potential.

Working the bracelet took a few days, but every time I passed the recycle bin I ached just a bit at the dull, flat discs.

I ran my fingers through them, the discards of the past and finally dug them all out. I separated them and pulled out the lead and tin, heated and waiting for me.

I carved a ring, smooth with only a single ridge running through the middle. I poured dozens of mixtures into the mold. One came out, a dull tin alloy mix. It felt like it might have been a year old or a thousand.

He came in and I showed him the bracelet. He was delighted and was sure it would be perfect for a wedding gift.

I placed the bracelet in a box and hesitated for a moment before taking out the ring. If I was the artist and I was creating art, this was the art I had created. I unfolded the cloth around the ring.

He stared at it for a long time in silence. “You know sometimes I think I don’t belong in this world anymore. The world is beautiful, sparkling, gleaming.” The ring didn’t sparkle or gleam, I did think it was still beautiful.

He hesitated before finally reached out and picking it up. “This reminds me of…” He stopped and slid it on his finger. “Of a time long since passed.”

The Crow of Nine-World

Another flash fiction challenge from Chuck Wendig:  The Crow of Nine-World. This one was the best, because I didn’t have to come up with a title. And I hate titles.

Pick from a list of titles and write something.  While “The River’s Mask” was very tempting I went with The Crow of Nine-World.

A quick pause before we get to the main action. I’m considering starting a podcast to put the audio in. I’d love any feedback if people would like that option.

The Crow of Nine-World audio

The Crow of Nine-World

A tall, blue-haired, female elf walked through the shop door. The shopkeeper preened his smooth black feathers on his shoulders with his beak and cawed at her. He picked up the nearest item and his cloth and started polishing it. He watched her.

12.6 seconds after she walked through the front door he lifted his hand. “Welcome to The Crow’s Nest miss.”

She turned sharply to him, bumping into a mannequin that displayed items at her level and for her class. The mannequin tipped and reappeared in the correct spot when she got out of the way. She walked toward him a bit awkwardly, her gait exaggerated and unnatural.

“Menu!” She shouted at him. “Quests? Shit, hey Suze what am I supposed to say?”

“Are you new around here miss?” Crow tilted his head, his voice lilted with laughter.

“Hi?” She finally managed to walk over to the counter he stood behind, only after stepping over one of the shorter displays of boots.

“Hello miss. Are you new around here?” He set down the bauble and picked up another identical one and started polishing it.

“Quests. Beginner quests. It’s not giving me any quests!” She reached out and grabbed Crow’s beak. “It’s really cool! I can totally feel it!” She squealed with delight. He stepped back and twisted out of her grip. He gave a quick caw and smoothed the feathers on his shoulder.

“Oh, wait, why shouldn’t I? I mean it’s not real. I could kill it and it’s not like it’s real.” The elf pulled out a wooden dagger from the folds of her robes. Her hand didn’t grasp it tightly and she dropped it.

He stooped and scooped up her dagger. “Would you like to sell this to me miss?” His voice was not gentle any longer. In his hand the wooden dagger glinted like polished gold.

“No, I don’t want to sell it! I need a quest so I can upgrade it and Suze said it was in here.” The elf grabbed for the dagger. Her hand moved fast and she brought it down right on the tip of the dagger. She screamed and swore.

Crow paused for a moment. “Would you like a healing potion miss?”

“How the fuck does this hurt? Like it really hurts!” She was grabbing her hand and wrapping her robes around it.

“You’ve injured yourself miss. Injuries often cause pain. I have healing potions. I also have a single, special, invincibility potion that will make you invulnerable to all pain for 3 seconds.” Crow watched the blood drip to the stone floor which seemed to absorb it.

“Stop laughing! It’s not funny, it really hurts. Sure, give me your best healing potion!”

“I would never laugh at your pain miss.” Crow squatted down and plucked a tiny red vial from the shelf under the counter.

“See, even the game is nicer to me than you are. Thank you, shopkeep.” She reached out to grab the vial but smacked her hand on the counter. She sucked in a quick breath and pulled her hand back to try again.

“That will be 824 pieces.” He held the vial tightly as her hand collided with his.

She looked over his left shoulder. “I only have 8 pieces.”

“Would you like to buy additional pieces?” Crow raised his other hand. A scroll unfurled next to him and all  the tiny motions in the shop–the curtain in the wind, the rat under a table, his chest rising and falling–stopped.

“No, I don’t want to buy shit in your stupid game. Why did I agree to play this?” She waved her hand at Crow.

Nothing happened. She pushed on his arm with the scroll. His feathers were stiff and didn’t move. She frowned and stepped to the right a bit. She reached out and pushed her hand forward again and touched the scroll at the top. It rolled back up and vanished.

“Would you still like to purchase the healing potion miss?” Crow smiled at her and stepped slightly so he was in front of her again. The small motions in the room resumed.

“No. It doesn’t hurt anymore. Ok, back to why I came here. I need to start a quest to upgrade my dagger.” It had blood on it, she brandished it at him. He stepped back away from the edge of the counter and gave a loud caw.

“Have you tried over at the orphanage? They always have work for someone who is good with children.” His voice had a gentle tone and his head tilt seemed inquisitive.

“I just got back from trying to kill the rats for orphans. I don’t even know how to get a damn starter quest done.”

She vanished.

The shop froze. Just for a moment Crow’s eyes flickered and then he, too, froze.

The same tall, blue-haired, female elf walked through the shop front door. Moving smoothly, with an incredible grace and walked right up to Crow.

Crow had just picked up his bauble to start polishing it. The elf bowed deeply in front of him. Her face was contorted. She opened her mouth and laughter came out, she doubled over clutching her stomach laughing.

Crow set the shiny bauble down and preened, smoothing the feathers on his arm.

She straightened and regained her breath, then bowed again. “Excuse me, good sir Crow. It is a pleasure to be in your presence.”

“A pleasure to meet you as well miss.” Crow bowed in return and the feathers along his back gleamed in the flickering lights above them.

“Is there anything I could do for you?” Her face froze with a twist of a smile.

“In fact, miss, I was just about to call for someone to run this bundle over to the orphanage. If you would do it I might be able to help you improve your weapon. If that would interest you. Or perhaps a new set of robes?” He reached under the counter and pulled out a small bundle wrapped in twine.

She lifted the bundle easily and slipped it inside a fold in her robe where it vanished. She bowed again. “Thank you very much Crow. I will return soon. And that is how you get a goddamn starter quest!”

She vanished.

The shop froze. Crow’s eyes flickered for several moments, the feathers on his shoulder raised up and froze.

Cold Escape – A flash fiction challenge

Why?

Chuck Wendig threw down some sort of gauntlet filled with geese and assassins and lightening. And also pretty pictures. Because what good is a goose without a pretty picture? I don’t understand either. I’m secretly not entirely sure he understands. Shh.

But what I do understand is a challenge. This challenge was to write a 1K flash fiction piece about a photo from a random photo generator.

Show me!

The lovely photo I selected (in part because it’s a bit chilly here this weekend) by Kirchmeier (who has lots of other cold photos, because cold).

Listen

I also did audio. You can download the mp3 here: Cold Escape audio

Or read it below.

Cold Escape

Again. I lifted my left foot and leaned forward. I was falling more than walking.

Again. I lifted my right foot, I could barely feel anything except the cold. It burned the little skin that was exposed. My body shook in a desperate attempt to warm up. My right foot crunched into the snow as I put it down.

Again. Lift foot. The boots I’d stolen weren’t warm enough. The three layers of pants weren’t enough. Foot crunched into snow, I felt the grasses laden with frost push up under my pants and scrape against my skin.

Again. Lift foot. Don’t fall. My arms flailed out automatically, to steady my body, I didn’t feel like I had control of it anymore. My too short sleeves exposed my bare skin to the icy cold. The shock of the cold made me gasp. The frozen air filled my lungs. I couldn’t stop. I had to move forward.

Again. I shook as I lifted my foot. I thought about pulling my arms back to my body, they obeyed slowly. I tried to tug the sleeves on the three layers of sweaters I had manage steal. I couldn’t do it without taking my hands out of the sweater sleeves I’d cut and sewn into a semblance of mittens. I brought my foot down. I wouldn’t go back. I wouldn’t turn around.

Again. I lifted my foot. I didn’t know how long I’d been here. But I couldn’t stay another day, staying meant death. I’d rather die out here, than back there. I had to keep moving forward. I looked down, through my frost laden lashes, at my hands. I pulled one mitten sleeve off. I worked as quick as I could to pull the sleeves of the sweaters down, and wrangle the mitten back on. My foot came down.

Again. I repeated with the other hand as I lifted my foot. I had to keep moving. I knew they wouldn’t notice I was gone until morning, but I didn’t know how long that would be, or how far I could get by then. I pulled my arms in close to my body. I wanted to cry and shake and curl up into a ball. I put my foot down, another step forward.

Again. If I could get past the grey beyond, past the clouds, I would be out, I could be free, I could be safe. My foot slid in the boot as I lifted it. The boots were too big, even with the extra socks. I put my head down again and just thought about the steps.

Again. A few steps later or a few thousand. I looked up and saw the tree. Standing tall, proud, alone. Each branch, no matter how tiny was thick with frost. The sky was a crystal blue. At some point the sun had come up behind me. It was another of those days that I would have called a lovely day a few months ago. Sunny and blue, with only a few wisps of clouds. But it held death. Probably mine.

Again. If only I could get to the tree. I wasn’t sure what then. Stop and scrape the snow from the inside of my boots. The rolling grey beyond still seemed a forever away. But the tree, I could make it to the tree. My foot came down, the crackling and crunching sound I knew was there but I could only hear the thoughts in my head, my ears too cold, my brain too cold. Everything was too cold.

Again. A sound as I lifted my leg, the cold of the pants pressing against my skin trading for the cold of the air trapped between my skin and the cloth. A whisper. Not dogs or machines or people yelling behind me. A warm whisper. Warm. A whisper like hot cider, like a bowl of hot soup, warm to the core.

Again. The whisper filled me. I lifted my head to look for the source. Only the endless expanse of frost and snow covered grasses poking up and the one lone tree. I gave a heavy warm sigh and the moisture from my breath clung to my lashes, lacing them together. The tree.

Again. It wanted me closer. I kept moving. It was a hum that filled me. It promised I would be free. I was close. I would be safe. I would be free. I would not be dragged back.

Again. I was almost there. I paused, reaching up to brush the frost from my eyes. The tree reached out for me. I stepped toward the nearest branch. Low, low enough for me to touch. I reached up at the curled finger covered in frost. I didn’t remember taking my mitten off. But I wasn’t cold anymore. I stroked the frost with my finger and it melted away, the water ran down my hand, it should have burned my skin with cold.

Again. I tried to lift my legs but they were frozen in place. They weren’t cold, but they were frozen, heavy, unmoving. I tried to twist, but my waist wouldn’t move. My arm still stretched out to the tree. My fingers turned the color of bark, cracking. I wasn’t cold. I tried to wiggle my toes and felt them stretch down into the earth. The roots of the other tree wrapped around my toes.

I didn’t need to move again. They would never drag me back. They would never capture me. I was safe. I was still. I was free. I felt the branches grow from me. I hadn’t made it to the grey, but I wouldn’t be take back.

Now we two beckon to others. We whisper of the safety, the freedom, the life that can be lived. Someday we will be many. We will be space enough for some to hide in, before continuing on. Someday, one will make it beyond the grey.

Read more

Read more

Read more is one of the top words of wisdom on how to be a better writer. I like to think I read a decent amount, but I don’t read much outside my favorite genres. I like what I like and I spend a lot of my reading time there. Which is great. Reading is valuable. And hopefully I don’t start reading so critically that I find the fun of it slipping away.

Read out of genre

I need to read more of other genres, both to learn about how story structure works for those genres and to learn more about human beings. Because I am a robot and don’t understand human interaction, apparently.

My plan

Read with a friend

I have a wonderful friend who is going to read some of these with me and then talk to me about them. Which is great, being able to discuss and dissect them makes a huge difference to understanding them and what I’m trying to get to.

Read what?

My current list is to loop through these over the next few months mixed in with other things. I’m trying to read…representative examples of the genre. (And I’m happy to take suggestions. The only thing is I’m trying to not read things that are like oooOOOOOooo it’s paranormal thriller or sci-fi mystery.)

Obviously this list won’t be the only things in these genres I read, but a good kick off for it.

If anyone would like to recommend things within these genres I’d love to hear them. I’m sort of doing it pretty haphazardly.

The list

  • Romance:
  • Mystery:
  • Thriller:
  • Literature:
  • Historical:
  • Religious:
  • Young Adult:
  • New Adult:
  • Erotica:

“Not reading”

Sci-fi and Fantasy:

Yeah they don’t go on this list because that is where I read a lot. Though at some point I’d like to make sure I’m reading a good range of sub-genres. More military sci-fi and more time travel I guess?

Horror:

I’m not a fan. I’m glad there are people who like it but like pranks and roller coaster rides, it just isn’t for me. Especially horror that leans toward gore, or the kind that is designed to keep you up at night. I need my robot sleep!

Western:

Is that still a genre? I don’t think so?

Nonfiction:

I do read a ton of this in non-book form (yay science articles, etc) as well as some books so it isn’t that I’m reading them, it is that I’ve already got it covered.

Classics:

I’ve read a ton of these already. Not that I’ve read them all, but I don’t feel like it is a gaping space. I might throw a few of these on my list over the next year though. But I will say that I find some of the “classics” just feel old and outdated and not like I’m bowled over by how it has managed to ring true for xxx years.

Any other genres I’m missing?

2016 Goals

Not resolutions but goals and plans

I don’t love making resolutions, but I do think that the new year is a good time to consider plans for the upcoming year and what goals I have. And what strategies will get me there. Part of this is the world is full of looking back on the last year and looking forward to the new year. Part of it is I spend a lot of time at my day job with year-end reports and next year planning. Part of it is lots of things roll over with the new year. Resolutions without a plan fail, so I need a plan. When I have a plan I can work the plan.

A look back on 2015

My goals were a little loosey in 2015. Read more, write more. About half way through I was struggling with what my plan was, so I came up with one. Basically randomly. Well I say randomly, but there was thought. As much as I’d like to say it was just a guess.

30 and 3 in 3

The goal was to write 30 shorts and 3 novels in 3 years. 30 shorts is less than one a month, and plan to write the novels during NaNoWriMo. Oh and during that time edit things too.

The shorts have ranged from flash fiction, challenges, novelette length, novella length, and shorts for anthologies. A few have been finished up. A few were bad, and won’t see the light of the world. A few are in progress. I’m a few ahead. (I have a note in my giant spreadsheet that says I’m up to May.) I’m going to keep doing challenges that pop up here and there, work on the list of random prompts I have stacked up, and more of the Smoke Jumpers series.

I’ve got draft 1 of novel 1 under my belt. I’m aiming to start in January on edits for it. Actually I’m going to edit the first book in the series. I found the missing chapters from the end of book 1. They will, naturally, have to be entirely rewritten, but I found them! My other 2 of the 3 will be Diane’s first full novel and Jenna’s third.

A look forward to 2016 goals

Writing

Continue the 30 and 3 in 3 goal. For 2016 goals this means continuing to try to write at least 1 short a month. Do my best to edit up and do something with them.  Next November draft a novel, not sure if it will be Jenna’s third book or Diane’s novel. I also want to get at least 1 maybe 3 more sort of novella length pieces for the Smoke Jumpers set. By the end of the year I want to have an anthologies worth for the Jumpers.

Editing

I have a strategy spreadsheet for editing steps. Starts with identify problems, create a plan, and comes all the way down to words I over use (and improperly use). I really need to dig in and start doing it more than I do now. Every week do some editing. Have a project to edit in the hopper at all times. And work it, according to the plan!

I have one novella length piece I’m working on and I want to dig in and start editing Jenna’s first book in January.

Reading

Read more, always read more. Read more out of genre. Read news. Read articles. Read novels. Read shorts. Read the labels on food. Read  websites. Read directions. (Don’t follow them, but read them.) I think I’m going to write another post about this later.

Critiquing

Read and critique. I’ve been doing it pretty regularly, but I’d like to do a couple of novels in the next year. Either volunteering on the NaNo or Critters sites or some other way. But being thoughtful and considerate of the way story and characters and plot works for others will help me. And hopefully help them!

Be critiqued

In addition to giving feedback, I need to continue to get feedback. Reach out and ask for feedback from others. Be thankful and appreciative of the feedback I get. Especially the negative feedback.

Don’t stop planning

Over the next few months I want to keep working on planning and aiming toward my 2016 goals. Planning is a big part of that. Write a lot isn’t a good resolution for me. A specific and achievable goal with a plan. I’m going to write a few more posts over January on some of these specific issues.

I challenge anyone else to have goals with plans to make the goals happen!

Ravens and Wolves

Ravens and wolves work together to hunt? I would read the hell out of the modern fantasy take on that.

I listened to an episode of Mysterious Universe (14.24 – this link skips right to the relevant part, but if you are interested in penises, pain, Mayan altered perceptions, and stingrays, rewind a bit – but you’ve been warned). The guest was Matt Kaplan (he wrote Science of the Magical) who had a bunch of interesting things to say about some of the links between the usual MU topics of mythology and altered perceptions and such. The thing that made me flail was the ravens and wolves thing. (I was out for a walk so I just made a crazy face and pulled out my phone to add the book to my to read list and then looked around to see if anyone saw me make the crazy face.)

Kaplan said that ravens will chase after wolves (which humans can chase and find a potential kill). Ravens dive in and pick every bit that’s left. Sometimes in the height of winter, ravens spot a good kill and then get the wolves attention and bring them over to their prey.

There is also a video with more information on the A Matter of Fact and Fiction site.

I’m not exactly sure what this looks like as a modern fantasy story, but I feel like it would be awesome. There could be something very urban with a take on who or what exactly is prey. If this book (or short) already exists please point me to it.

Book Recommendations

Books and Holidays and Gifts and Stuff

It is winter gift season, post NaNo reading season, cold snuggle up with a warm bowl of soup and a wonderful sweater season, and year end wrap up season. I am far from the first person to say this of course, but I am prompted now to say my own thoughts and recommendations.

There are really good lists out there already full of great book/art/music/etc recommendations. Try Whatever’s annual lists of traditional books, non-traditional books, art, and charities. Try terribleminds recommend a book list.

My Book Recommendations

I Am Princess X

by Cherie Priest. This is fun, fast, engaging and beautiful. It is a great book for anyone who doesn’t like to read. Lots of really beautiful comics interwoven with the book. It is a mystery that reaches the heart of its main character, a 16 year old girl who is lonely and friendless. She’s an active hero, reaching into the world and grasping and unweaving the mystery of her best friend’s death. Get this for the teenager or adult in your life who is like pff books. Tell them it’s a comic (it is!) and read it with them.

Written in Red

by Anne Bishop. I actually recommend all of them. This is an urban fantasy that creates an incredibly rich and complex world. This is the world that when I think about books I’ve read recently always comes to mind. Always led by Meg who is a great protagonist. She tries so damn hard. She fails so damn often. And she still gets up and tries again. The world though is really what sets this book apart. It isn’t at all our world but with magic. It is stripping the Earth back to the beginning  of life and starting magic, then building up from there. Political balance (which has a disturbingly familiar feel), technology, populations, everything is impacted, and well thought out. I highly recommend this series.

Cinder

by Marissa Meyer. Again, I recommend the entire series. This YA Sci-Fi series leans heavily on but still manages to really transport and reimagine them. I’m a secret, not so secret, huge Cinderella fan (hell I even watch when Disney makes a new version every 3 or 4 years) and this is a really good retelling. It holds all the good bits and tosses plenty of the not so important ones. There are also some really fantastic but subtle nods to the fairy tales throughout the books. The final book in the series just came out in November so I’m hoping to get my hands on it soon.

Shards of Honour

by Lois McMaster Bujold. Anything. The odd thing about this series was I started way, WAY out of place. Liked the writing, liked the characters, decided to pick something else up. Looked at the first book, saw it was written when I was very little, grimaced. I’ve found that lots of books that were written quite a long time ago are just books that aren’t for me. But I decided to try. Nothing about this book feels absurdly out of date. It doesn’t feel heavy with language that is laughable, it doesn’t make me constantly roll my eyes out of my skull with frustration. It feels current and engaging. It has characters that really matter, these books float through my brain on the incredible strength of the characters.

These are some I’d recommend. I’m burning through books at a good clip right now as a break for my brain from writing. I’m also just cracking into the novels I agreed to be a beta reader for as well which is exciting.

Go forth and find new books to add to your To Read lists! Have soup! Ski if you have snow! Wear a lovely, soft sweater!

I also really like All Thing Urban Fantasy when I’m looking for a new series, good reviews, thoughtful and considered. Easy to figure out when it isn’t for the reviewer but might be for me, or vice versa.

Nano Update – Done

Done

I’m done. I wash my hands of it. I actually finished on the 23rd with the bulk of the book. I went through and put in notes where I need to fix things. I pulled the first book into the Scrivener along side it so that I can make sure I’ve got good continuity between the two. This seems like what it was made for. I can have open my information about her magnetic bracelet (more like this – though more do it yourself and not so much like this) so I make sure I’m getting the look right and the list o-stuff she currently is carrying with her on it stays consistent.

I also went through and highlighted the scenes from the first book that I know will need a significant rework (in addition to the 2-3 that just need to be written) which is only 3 of them. So overall not as bad as I’d feared. One will need to be basically redone completely but the other 2 have a lot of salvageable stuff.

Next steps for Jenna

I’m setting her aside. This is, hopefully, 1 and 2 in a trilogy. I have a really long way to go on getting them edited up and polished and ready. But I’m hoping to really dive into that in January. I figure a month off to work on other things is a good break.

I fully expect editing book one to be painful. But it won’t be as bad as my last, for so many reasons. And I think book 2 shouldn’t be too bad. I’m looking forward to having them ready to go.

Next project

Shorts. More shorts. They are fun and fast and I think they are helping me get better at writing, plotting, planning. All good things. I’ve got two in the novelette range (for me I am aiming for 10-12K) that need polish and can be put on a shelf for something I’m hoping to put together.

The next one I’m going to work on is a shake out my brain and do something very different short. Based on a bunch of rejected suggestions from a friend who gave really bad ideas this NaNo. Bad ideas lead to good ones.

No Elvis though. It doesn’t fit my universe.