duskpeterson: An apprentice builds a boat as a man looks on. (apprentice)
It has been eleven years since the previous volume was published in this science fiction series about a guilt-ridden judicial torturer. It was worth the wait.

Susan R. Matthews has possessed the misfortune of having her Under Jurisdiction series tossed from press to press. Baen Books, her latest publisher, has done her series justice. It has reissued the previous six books in the series as DRM-free ebooks and as two omnibus paperbacks. And now comes the last - and, in certain ways, the finest - volume in the long tale of a most unusual protagonist: "Blood Enemies."


The review )
duskpeterson: An apprentice builds a boat as a man looks on. (Default)
"More than anything else, I think writing is just a lot of fun. It's a great way to revisit that rollicking, playful space where we spent our days in as kids. Back then, making up stories was our chief occupation. Give a seven-year-old a blank piece of paper and a marker, they're good for hours. There are a lot of adventures and people and animals and kingdoms and trucks and battles and princesses in a piece of paper.

"Somewhere around adolescence, though, most of us stop visiting those imaginary worlds. We get self-conscious. We see that other kids are much better writers or artists than we are, so we cede that creative space to them. And they in turn cede it to others who are better still. The blank page stops being an invitation and becomes intimidating.

"But the impulse to create and make and dream is still with us. It doesn't go away. It just waits, patiently, for us to find a way back to it again. For some adults, it happens through art classes or music lessons. For me, it was through NaNoWriMo. However you get back there, it just feels pretty incredible when you arrive."

--Chris Baty.


What I did this week )
duskpeterson: An apprentice builds a boat as a man looks on. (Default)
"There is something in us, as storytellers and as listeners to stories, that demands the redemptive act, that demands that what falls at least be offered the chance to be restored. The reader of today looks for this motion, and rightly so, but what he has forgotten is the cost of it. His sense of evil is diluted or lacking altogether, and so he has forgotten the price of restoration. When he reads a novel, he wants either his sense tormented or his spirits raised. He wants to be transported, instantly, either to mock damnation or a mock innocence."

--Flanner O'Connor (via Advice to Writers).


What I did this week )
duskpeterson: An apprentice builds a boat as a man looks on. (apprentice)
"In April 1870, a twenty-eight-year-old [William] James made a cautionary note to himself in his diary. 'Recollect,' he wrote, 'that only when habits of order are formed can we advance to really interesting fields of action - and consequently accumulate grain on grain of wilful choice like a very miser - never forgetting how one link dropped undoes an indefinite number.' The importance of forming such 'habits of order' later became one of James's great subjects as a psychologist. In one of the lectures he delivered to teachers in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1892 - and eventually incorporated into his book Psychology: A Briefer Course - James argued that the 'great thing' in education is to 'make our nervous system our ally instead of our enemy.'

The more of the details of our daily life we can hand over to the effortless custody of automatism, the more our higher powers of mind will be set free for their own proper work. There is no more miserable human being than one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision, and for whom the lighting of every cigar, the drinking of every cup, the time of rising and going to bed every day, and the beginning of every bit of work, are subjects of express volitional deliberation.


"James was writing from personal experience - the hypothetical sufferer is, in fact, a thinly disguised description of himself. For James kept no regular schedule, was chronically indecisive, and lived a disorderly, unsettled life. As Robert D. Richardson wrote in his 2006 biography, 'James on habit, then, is not the smug advice of some martinet, but the too-late-learned too-little-self-knowing, pathetically earnest, hard-won crumbs of practical advice offered by a man who really had no habits - or who lacked the habits he most needed, having only the habit of having no habits - and whose life was itself a "buzzing blooming confusion" that was never really under control.'"

--Mason Currey: Daily Rituals: How Great Minds Make Time, Find Inspiration, and Get to Work. (Alternative subtitle: How Artists Work.]


Writing )
Everything else )
Reading )
Finances )
duskpeterson: (bookshelves)

Blurbs are generally stolen from the author or publisher.

Top pick of the month

Naraht: "Að fara til Íslands" [uploaded 2011]. Historical fiction set in England, Iceland, and the Arctic during the early 1930s. Slashfic of Mary Renault's The Charioteer; can be read without knowing the original canon. "He had spent last year's summer holidays working his passage to Iceland and back in a trawler." (Don't read the story header, except for the blurb; toward the end of the story, you'll enjoy the delightful surprise that I did.)

Original fiction

Naomi Novik: Throne of Jade (Temeraire #2) [2006]. Historical fantasy adventure set during the Napoleonic Wars. When Britain intercepted a French ship and its precious cargo - an unhatched dragon's egg - Capt. Will Laurence of HMS Reliant unexpectedly became master and commander of the noble dragon he named Temeraire. As new recruits in Britain's Aerial Corps, man and dragon soon proved their mettle in daring combat against Bonaparte's invading forces. Now China has discovered that its rare gift, intended for Napoleon, has fallen into British hands - and an angry Chinese delegation vows to reclaim the remarkable beast. But Laurence refuses to cooperate. Facing the gallows for his defiance, Laurence has no choice but to accompany Temeraire back to the Far East - a long voyage fraught with peril, intrigue, and the untold terrors of the deep. Yet once the pair reaches the court of the Chinese emperor, even more shocking discoveries and darker dangers await.

Noel Streatfeild: Theatre Shoes (Shoes #4) [1945]. Children's fiction (school fiction and domestic fiction) set during World War II. When their father is captured during the war, three children come to London to live with their grandmother and join their talented theatrical family in a school for stage training.

P. L. Travers: Mary Poppins (Mary Poppins #1) [1934]. Ill. Mary Shepard. Children's fantasy set in London during the early 1930s. Life was never the same again for the Banks family after the astonishing Mary Poppins blew in with the east wind.

Fan fiction

(Both these stories can be read without knowing the original canon.)

lastwingedthing: "as morning steals upon the night" [uploaded 2016]. Historical fantasy set during the early twentieth century. AU slashfic of E. F. Benson's David Blaize. Frank is even more special than David first realised.

Jay Tryfanstone: "The Very Secret Diaries of Saint Augustine" [uploaded 2012]. Historical fiction RPF set in the fourth and fifth centuries; can be read without reference to the canon, though it's way funnier if you've read St. Augustine's Confessions. "404. Correspondence Jerome continues. Infuriating. Do not understand why he does not see my point! Translation of 'gourd' vital to understanding of gospels."

Pleasure nonfiction

(This category is for nonfiction that I'd be willing to read for fun, though sometimes I peruse it for the sake of research.)

Mroctober: "Adventures of a Cat Slave" [2011]. Daily-life post only lightly fictionalized, as any cat's companion can testify. "Your master welcomes you back to his domestic holdings with a meow at the top of the steps."

Joseph Husband: A Year in a Coal-Mine [1911]. Adventure memoir. "Ten days after my graduation from Harvard I took my place as an unskilled workman in one of the largest of the great soft-coal mines that lie in the Midwest."

Kristine Kathryn Rusch: The Freelancer's Survival Guide [Third Edition, 2013; also online]. Business book for authors and other freelancers; includes lots of autobiographical anecdotes. Most people become freelancers without any idea of how to run a business. They learn in the school of hard knocks. Kristine Kathryn Rusch has taken the school of hard knocks and made it into one of the most useful business books written in years. (That's the official, effusive blurb, but it's true.)

May 2017

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