duskpeterson: An apprentice builds a boat as a man looks on. (Default)
First, a curse on all incompetent blurb-writers; this is the second time in a month that I've encountered a blurb that gives away virtually the entire plot. Fortunately, I know better than to read the blurbs of books I'm guaranteed to read.

I first encountered Mary Stewart's novels on my mother's bookshelf when I was thirteen. Mary Stewart's Merlin novel The Crystal Cave is my favorite (and by "favorite" I mean one of my top five favorite novels), but her romantic suspense novels aren't far behind. I reread them every few years.

The Wind off the Small Isles is a 1968 novella that was "long-lost," which I assume means that someone eventually got around to tracking down Mary Stewart's published short fiction. The novella is romantic suspense, but - unlike most of her novels - it isn't crime fiction, which helps to shorten the storyline.

What suffers most from the shorter length, I think, is the romance. Even though Mary Stewart drops an appropriate foreshadow of love at first sight, it's rather difficult to see what draws the hero and heroine together, other than good looks and an ability to survive the travails of a volcanic island. Character development suffers especially. All that I gathered about the hero is that - like all Mary Stewart heroes - he is charming, handsome, intelligent, affectionate, and alarmingly competent in crises. All that I gathered about the heroine is that - like all Mary Stewart heroines - she is charming, beautiful, intelligent, affectionate, and alarmingly competent in crises. Clearly, the two are well-matched for each other, but there never seems to be any doubt about that. In a word, there is no conflict, which makes for a rather dull love story. The suspense is exciting, however, which helps to make up for it.

Where the novella shines is where Mary Stewart's stories always shine: in the combination of landscape and history. I always want to grab a map and encyclopedia after reading her novels, because she makes the setting as exciting as the characters. In this case, the setting is one of the Canary Islands, and the fun is in trying to predict exactly what aspect of the island is going to end up getting the heroine into trouble. In the meantime, the description of the island is lush, the minor characters are interesting in their own right, and the history is vibrant. This story made for a delightful lunchtime reading.
duskpeterson: (summer night shells)
"The most important thing is habit, not will. If you feel you need will to get to the keyboard, you are in the wrong business. All that energy will leave nothing to work with. You have to make it like brushing your teeth, mundane, regular, boring even. It's not a thing of effort, of want, of steely, heroic determination. (I wonder who pushed the meme that writing is heroic; it must have been a writer, trying to get laid.) You have to do it numbly, as you brush your teeth. No theater, no drama, no sacrifice, no 'It is a far far better thing I do' crap. You do it because it's time. If you are ordering yourself, burning ergs, issuing sweat, breathing raggedly through nasal channels that feel like Navajo pottery, you're doing something wrong. Ever consider law? We definitely need more lawyers."

--Stephen Hunter (via Advice to Writers).


Thank you to all of you who sent your best wishes concerning Jo/e. He's out of the hospital now, feeling fine. The exploratory surgery revealed absolutely no problems with his heart. He's still having periodic chest pains, so he's going to be exploring with his doctor what are causing those.


What I've been up to )
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.)

duskpeterson: An apprentice builds a boat as a man looks on. (Default)
Published in 2016: "Children of the Earth and Sky," by Guy Gavriel Kay.

http://brightweavings.com/ggk/books/books/children-of-earth-and-sky/

Published in 2016: "Can't Hide from Me," by Cordelia Kingsbridge.

http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/cant-hide-from-me

April 4, 2017: "Blood Enemies," by Susan R. Matthews. (Sample chapters and eARC are out now.)

http://www.baen.com/blood-enemies-earc.html

May 16: "Thick as Thieves," by Megan Whalen Turner.

https://m.harpercollins.com/9780062568243/thick-as-thieves

June 27: "Seven Stones to Stand or Fall," by Diana Gabaldon.

http://www.dianagabaldon.com/2016/11/seven-stones-in-2017/


Online fiction writers who release stories regularly:

Rolf and Ranger

http://rolfandranger.blogspot.com/?m=0

PuckThePlayer (AU fanfic)

http://archiveofourown.org/users/pucktheplayer

Cordelia Kingsbridge (by subscription)

https://www.patreon.com/user?u=2341300


Still waiting for promised new releases from these authors:

Dani Alexander.

http://slashfiction.org

Manna Francis.

http://www.mannazone.org


Authors whose past releases I need to catch up with:

Catherine Jinks.

http://catherinejinks.com

Sharon Kay Penman.

http://www.sharonkaypenman.com

All those YA dystopian writers whose novels I'm gleefully making my way through.
duskpeterson: (winter sled)
For those of you who don't follow me regularly, I mostly read older fiction (late nineteenth century to mid twentieth century), historical fiction, historical speculative fiction (historical fantasy, etc.), juvenile fiction, and various types of gay fiction (especially original slash). But sometimes I read other stuff too.


Older writings )
Current fiction )
Blogs )
Podcasts )
Videos/TV/film (no spoilers) )

Do you folks know of any stories etc. to recommend?
duskpeterson: An apprentice builds a boat as a man looks on. (Default)
Rolf and Ranger: Silver Bullet - Everest (Falls Chance Ranch series; gay adventure; online fiction; also available in ebook formats through their forum, which anyone may join).

The novel tells of a long-time adventurer's quest to climb Mount Everest alongside his life partner. Amidst the dangers and joys of the journey, the protagonist realizes that he must come to terms with his inner demons.

A cracking good adventure and amazingly moving novel, due to the concrete details, slowly growing suspense, and careful pacing of the character development alongside the thrills of the climb. That Silver Bullet - Everest is a parallel novel to the breathtaking Silver Bullet - Ranch novel (the Ranch novel is first chronologically, if you want to read them in order) is icing on a very tasty cake.
duskpeterson: (autumn acorn)
"So, yeah, I'm thinking fanfic is a younger person's game - it's for people who can scan their Twitter, scroll through their Tumblr, bash out a Facebook status without looking, take a quick gander at their RSS feed, do an LJ update crossposted to their Dreamjournal, edit a fanvid and watch the next ep/installment of fill-in-the-blank before it airs anywhere, while doing whatever they do for a living and having a life. All at the same time."

--Heartofslash.


My professional work last month )
Series bible )
Covers and props; or, The Trouble with Trivets )
The final total after three months of decluttering books )
A book that passed my test for 'Gosh, I Must Buy This *Now*' )
duskpeterson: (autumn acorn)
"The thing about reading fanfic (and original slash fic) is that you get used to that particular writing/reading culture after a while. You get used to the frank discussions of sexuality and kink, the close attention to diversity and social justice issues in the text, the unrestrained creativity when it comes to plot. The most amazing, creative, engaging stories I've ever read have almost all been fanfiction, and I think part of that is because there’s no limitations placed on the authors. They’re writing purely out of joy and love for the world and its characters, with no concerns about selling the finished product. The only limit is their imagination.

"Next to that, most mainstream fiction starts tasting like Wonder Bread, you know?"

--Cordelia Kingsbridge.


My professional work last month )
A few factoids about my latest Eternal Dungeon novel, 'Checkmate' )
Posting online fic again! Man, that feels good )
Prop-shopping at antique stores )
My decluttering of books last month )
My web addiction last month )
My family and leisure time last month )
A banner month for good reading )
duskpeterson: An apprentice builds a boat as a man looks on. (Default)
"I am saturated in digital life and I want to return to the actual world again. I’m a human being before I am a writer; and a writer before I am a blogger, and although it’s been a joy and a privilege to have helped pioneer a genuinely new form of writing, I yearn for other, older forms. I want to read again, slowly, carefully. I want to absorb a difficult book and walk around in my own thoughts with it for a while. I want to have an idea and let it slowly take shape, rather than be instantly blogged. I want to write long essays that can answer more deeply and subtly the many questions that the Dish years have presented to me. I want to write a book.

"I want to spend some real time with my parents, while I still have them, with my husband, who is too often a ‘blog-widow’, my sister and brother, my niece and nephews, and rekindle the friendships that I have simply had to let wither because I’m always tied to the blog. And I want to stay healthy. I’ve had increasing health challenges these past few years. They’re not HIV-related; my doctor tells me they’re simply a result of fifteen years of daily, hourly, always-on-deadline stress. These past few weeks were particularly rough – and finally forced me to get real. . . .

"When I write again, it will be for you, I hope – just in a different form. I need to decompress and get healthy for a while; but I won’t disappear as a writer."

--Andrew Sullivan.


I had some big changes in March in how I write stories, so that's what most of this entry is about.


New ways of writing fiction )
Waterman research )
My professional work last month )
My reading last month )
My decluttering and homemaking last month )
My personal life last month )
My web addiction and other health matters last month )
duskpeterson: An apprentice builds a boat as a man looks on. (Default)
Rolf and Ranger: Falls Chance Ranch. Also available in ebook format (including stories not yet available at their website) at their forum and in the Files section of their Yahoo Group.

I originally thought this online fiction series was a domestic discipline tale. And then I thought this was a series like Maculategiraffe's The Slave Breakers, centered on a loving, hierarchically ordered, highly unconventional surrogate family.

It was the incongruity that was getting to him. People didn't generally have disasters while companionably eating muffins together.


The series Falls Chance Ranch (currently consisting of three completed novels, a work-in-progress novel, and numerous shorter works) is both these things, but in addition to that, it is one of the most powerful psychological studies of a man that I've encountered in fiction.

The rest of the review )
duskpeterson: An apprentice builds a boat as a man looks on. (Default)
"Housewives were the people who put Trick or Treat for UNICEF boxes in millions of small hands. They were, of course, thrifty (thrift is the signal virtue of the housewife), but many of them were also high-minded, convinced that people ought to help one another out. George Harrison may have held a Concert for Bangladesh, but it was the mothers on my block who sat down and wrote little checks—ten dollars, fifteen dollars—to CARE. Many housewives shared a belief in the power of boycotts, which could so easily be conducted while grocery shopping. I remember hearing my mother's half of a long, complicated telephone discussion about whether it would or would not undermine the housewives' beef strike of 1973 if the caller defrosted and cooked meat bought prior to the strike. Tucked into the aforementioned copy of The Settlement Cook Book, along with handwritten recipes for Chocolate Diamonds and Oma's German Cheesecake, is a small card that reads FREEDOM AND JUSTICE FOR J.P. STEVENS WORKERS. The organizers of that long-ago boycott understood two things: first, that if you were going to cripple a supplier of household goods (J.P. Stevens manufactured table linens and hosiery and blankets), you had to enlist housewives; and second, that you stood a better chance of catching their attention if you printed your slogan on the reverse of a card that contained a table of common metric equivalents, a handy, useful reminder that 1 liter = 1 quart and also that the makers of Finesse hosiery exploited their workers."

--Caitlin Flanagan: Housewife Confidential: A tribute to the old-fashioned housewife, and to Erma Bombeck, her champion and guide.


A note to my readers: If you sent me email before April 2014, please resend it. Due to a computer mishap, I've lost all my email between 2008 and April 2014.

If you sent email after April 2014, and I haven't replied to it yet, feel free to resend it. It should be in my inbox, which I'm still plowing through, but there's no reason you should have to wait any longer than you already have.


My professional work this month )
My reading this month )
My decluttering and homemaking this month )
My personal life this month )

I've saved the best news for last:

I stayed mostly offline in February.

Let me repeat that: I STAYED MOSTLY OFFLINE. If you don't understand the full import of that, let me repeat what I wrote in my last journal entry:

o--o--o


It's the web that's the problem. And it was a very serious problem by the time that I pulled the plug in mid-January - against my will; my body went into a state of collapse, and I ended up with the flu.

Before that happened, do you know how long I'd been online? Five days. I got nine hours of sleep during that time.

So I've now officially moved "web usage" from "medical problem" to "medical emergency."

o--o--o


So hurrah, yes, major progress in having an offline life. Which is why I actually have accomplishments to list in this blog entry.
duskpeterson: (grief)
I missed earlier announcements about this, so I only recently learned that Scribe (aka Scribe Mozell, Scribescribbles, and Miss Mozell) died last March 29 at the age of 55. I don't know the cause of death, but she had been in ill health for many years. She was a published m/m author but was best known for her fan fiction and for her original slash/het fiction, which dates back to at least the beginning of this century. (I'm not certain when she began posting her writings.)

I've linked at the bottom of this post to the death announcements and to her profiles and writings. (Her publisher's announcement of her death includes her offline name, which she never troubled much to hide; some of her writings contained both her offline name and one of her fan names. So I've linked to everything I could find.) But I'd like to say first what Scribe meant to me.

Read more... )
duskpeterson: Advent wreath (Advent wreath)
"The fiction writers who earn a living are those who consistently and steadily produce quality stories. Granted, if you're prolific enough, and you're working in a hot market, you can compensate for quality with quantity. That's how you know there is no God."

-- Josh Lanyon: Man, Oh Man! Writing Quality M/M Fiction.

*


My writing desk.


Unpacking marathon )
Going offline and reading slowly )
About those book covers )
Covers and NaNo )
Some things I learned during NaNoWriMo )
Wrapping up NaNo )
Rainbow Awards and Thanksgiving )
Ebook covers; plus, holiday events )
A pause for the headlines )
New cover sales results; plus, Christmas preparations, or lack thereof )
duskpeterson: An apprentice builds a boat as a man looks on. (Default)
sometimes im like "Eternal Dungeon police AU"

but them im like

oh wait that happened and Layle broke the computers

*

okay but

futurepunk layle and elsdon

#LAYLE WOULD DIE NEVERMIND

*

can you imagine though

"layle/elsdon highschool au, M/M, hxc, M rating for later chapters"

*

Eternal dungeon au where layle and elsdon are summer camp counselors

*

an eternal dungeon au where my heart isnt broken every fucking chapter

*

Eternal Dungeon/Sonic The Hedgehog crossover:

au, darkfic, mcd, abuse, dubcon

"Sonic the Hedgehog made no reply. His eyes were searching the Seeker's belt, looking for a rope or a chain or any other sign of what was to take place here. His gaze jerked up, though, as the Seeker said, 'Mr. Hedgehog, do you enjoy pain?'"

109 chapters. 7959690403020000034 words. incomplete.

#MR. DUSK IM SO SORRY


--From the Dusk-Peterson-tagged Tumblr posts of Albert (aka valtiels and a zillion other masks), which keep me perpetually entertained.


Before I get to the Daily Life stuff, some of you may be interested in this list:

Original Slash Creators.

The Slash Pile is asking writers and artists of original lgbtq works to add their names to the list. You don't have to be a slasher. Here's the sign-up sheet to be listed.


In which I struggle with the issue of how to balance my work life and my health )
duskpeterson: An apprentice builds a boat as a man looks on. (Default)
"I'm closing in on 62. I might have 10 productive years left, 20 if I'm lucky and don't get hit by any more minivans. When I ask myself how much of that time I want to spend playing online cribbage or watching cute-kitty videos instead of visiting with my family and friends, goofing with my idiotic dog, or out riding my motorcycle, the answer is not too much."

--Stephen King: My Screen Addiction.

Read more... )

So which fiction stylists do you folks like? I'm dying for recs, so that I can find some more good writers to read.

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