Culture Consumption: January 2015

Happy Super Bowl Sunday! Before the day gets super-crazy with our upcoming annual Super Bowl Party, I thought I’d go ahead and post my January stats for 2015. As always, if you want to discuss any of these, just say so in the comments.

Books

1) Low Midnight by Carrie Vaughn
2) The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
3) Acceptance by Jeff VanderMeer
4) My Real Children by Jo Walton

Short Fiction

None in January

Comics

25 individual issues read in January, but the TBR pile for comics is HUGE. There’s a lot I need to catch up on.

Annihilator #1
Annihilator #2
Annihilator #3
Annihilator #4
Coffin Hill #12
Coffin Hill #13
Coffin Hill #14
Copperhead #4
Gotham By Midnight #1
Lazarus #13
Low #3
Low #4
Low #5
Ody-C #1
Operation S.I.N. #1
Shadow Show #1
Sleepy Hollow #3
Supreme Blue Rose #4
Supreme Blue Rose #5
The Massive #30
The Walking Dead #135
Wolf Moon #1
Wytches #1
Wytches #2
Wytches #3

Movies

* = repeat viewing

Batman Begins*
Divergent
Draft Day
Into The Woods (In theaters)
The Dark Knight*
The Dark Knight Rises*

Television Shows

A note with television: these are the shows I completed in the month of January, not a list of everything on-going that I’m still watching.

American Horror Story: Freak Show
Boardwalk Empire, Season 5
Galavant, Season 1
Homeland, Season 4
Penny Dreadful, Season 1


That’s it from me! Also, feel free to share whatever 2015 stats you’ve got! How many books? How many movies? What were your favorites? Lay them on me!

Cheers!

Ending an Era

Today, author Carrie Vaughn announced the end of her Kitty Norville Series. I’ve actually known about this for a few weeks: over at All Things Urban Fantasy, they featured the latest cover in the series in their Cover Art Coverage series, and my first reaction was, “Oooh, I love the cover!” and then my second reaction was, “Wait, Carrie said that was going to be the title of the last book in the series. Oh shit!”

kitty-saves-the-world-mmThis was before Low Midnight came out, and I didn’t want to prematurely spoil anything by freaking out online, so I private messaged Carrie on Facebook and she confirmed that yes, it was the last book in the series but that she was going to hold off on the announcement until Low Midnight was released and had a chance to shine. So I held off talking about the series until her announcement, which ended up being today.

Urban fantasy is a genre that’s had quite the boom since I started reading SF/F in 2002. Lots of series have come and go, some never got their start, but the genre is always seeking to improve itself, and it’s a genre I very much enjoy, though if I’m not careful, I can read too much and give myself a metaphorical tummy-ache.

Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty and the Midnight Hour was the very first urban fantasy book I read. And I do mean very first. And for a while, it was my favorite UF series out there, but because the genre is so addictive and so fast paced, and always seeking to better itself, other series have taken the mantle of favorite (I don’t want to name them, for fear I will jinx their awesomeness by naming them). That being said, I’ve followed Kitty Norville since her novel debut, I pick up every book and devour it the moment it’s released. So while it’s no longer my favoritest UF series, it is the longest-running UF series that I’ve stayed on top of, and I’ll be reading the last installment with relish. I love getting the endings to things, I love seeing how stories wrap up. Carrie’s announcement is exciting because she’s done with the series as is, but she’s not done with the world, which means I’ll likely get my wish for more Cormac novels, but I’ll get stories about other characters too.

Some readers are upset when series end. I usually get excited, and in this case, it’s no different, if only because I want to see what else Carrie Vaughn writes, because I want to see her stretch her muscles beyond the urban fantasy world of Kitty Norville. I read somewhere that she’s got a YA space opera she’s working on, and that excites me to no freaking end.

The book, Kitty Saves the World, won’t be out until August this year, so who knows how the series will end. But I’ll be there. I’ve been there through the ups and downs, and I can’t wait to see how it all wraps up.

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Currently Writing: Codename: Magic Twins
Last night’s word count: 392 words
Total word count: 8,622 words
I didn’t churn out a lot last night. My evil-genius idea means that I have to be careful with the narrative before I commit to whatever I’m going to do, and I Skyped with one of my daily readers tonight and talked about the premise and the evil-genius idea and realized, pretty quickly, there are a lot of holes I need to fill in this idea. The main this is to figure out the magic system, get the guidelines and follow the rules, the rest will follow. So we’ll see.

Currently Reading: Jeff VanderMeer’s Acceptance
No time to read today, unless I manage a page or two before bed. Sadness.

Next up: Tuesday looks to be a normal day. Got a few shows to catch up on thanks to tonight’s National Championship, and I’ve got errands to run. Yay, errands?

I Feel Like October….

It was an odd morning: I slept in, something I do less and less as I get older, and I was attempting to respond to a text message with my left hand (the right was pinned down by Storm Shadow, my 17 lbs cat who thinks I’m his personal body pillow), when my husband came in the bedroom and asked, “You wanna help me wash my car?”

My response, after the word, “No,” was, “Are you crazy? It’s January.”

But the weather is warm today, and it’s not supposed to rain until the afternoon, and my husband said his car is filthy, so I grudgingly disturbed the cat and got out of bed to help. Helping means hose-duty, so while my husband was scrubbing, I stared out at the neighborhood and thought how it felt like October. The air, the car-wash itself. All that was missing was the warm, bright patches of colors decorating the trees and the scent of fall in the air.

Of course, the trees were bare. It’s January, and I’m standing outside in a Tennessee Titans sweatshirt, a pair of cargo pants, and a headband covering my ears, holding a wet water-hose with my bare, slightly numb fingers while water drips and drops and soaks me from my rain galoshes up to the cuffs of my pants.

The things we do for love.

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Currently Writing: Codename: Magic Twins
Last night’s word count: 675 words
Total word count: 2,254 words
Storm Shadow helped me write last night. And by help, I mean he lay on the floor, looking adorable, and at opportune times would stretch out on his side, revealing the glorious white, furry belly of DOOM. And by doom, I mean this: How to Pet a Kitty by The Oatmeal, item #4. I rarely resist. But I also distract him with his Angry Bird catnip toys first, just to be safe. He adores those things.

Currently Reading: Carrie Vaughn’s Low Midnight
I think I’ll be able to finish this today. As mentioned yesterday, I’m really enjoying it, and damn, I never visualized Cormac as hot, especially with whole mustache thing going on, but I keep looking at the cover and changing my mind. Yes, I’m shallow.

Next up: In terms of house work, I’ve got sheets and blankets in the wash. I’m also slowly working my way through my TBR comics pile, and I hope that once I catch up, I can stay caught up, and maybe talk about comics and series I enjoy with a little more frequency. There shall be football tonight as well, and the hubby and I are also going to continue the Christopher Nolan Batman marathon with The Dark Knight.  I’ll have thoughts on this trilogy when we’re done with the re-watch, but I’m keeping them to myself for now.

I’m so glad the weekend is here.

People Think I’m Crazy, But I’m a Different Kind of Sane…..

The only days I worked this week were Monday and Friday. You might think me crazy, just taking the middle off, but if you like Oreo’s, you know why the middle is the best.

I’m actually glad to have gone in today: I had the office to myself and it allowed me to catch-up on everything I missed so that when I come in next Monday, I’ll be ready to go.

That being said, there should be rules against people wanting to do business late Friday afternoons or early Monday mornings. Because seriously, no one’s wanting to do a thing at those times, even if the office IS open, you know?

My luck, the next early Monday morning is going to be crazy. I’ll shut up now while I’m ahead.

Currently Writing: Codename: Magic Twins
Last night’s word count: 569 words
Total word count: 1,579 words
This project was just added to the Works In Progress page, if you’re interested in some background.

Currently Reading: Carrie Vaughn’s Low Midnight
All I have to say about this book is that if the rest of Kitty’s stories were told from Cormac’s point of view, I’d be a super-happy reader. This is just so much fun, and a great new perspective on a series I know so well.

Next up: getting ready to marathon Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy this weekend. Need to do my daily page of writing, and I’m hoping to create a template for daily physical therapy workouts this weekend. We’ll see.

Letting Go: Continued

So on Tuesday I talked about my plan for my short stories: when to push forward, and when to let them go. The old ones are getting let go. This was partially inspired by common sense and partially inspired by Carrie Vaughn’s post “On Being Prolific”. I promised that my novels were another post for another day, and it’s another day, so let’s do this post before I completely forget about it.

So, the plan for my novels? I’m not trunking anything. Every time I think I’ve moved beyond my thesis novel, the SF novel code named Telepathic Soulmates, I realize I’m still deeply invested in that world. Last year, I wrote a prequel, code name LB Prequel (fun fact, I still haven’t found a title for that sucker, yet), and it taught me so much about my world-building and things I want to fix and tweak in Telepathic Soulmates. This isn’t a novel I need trunk, at least not yet.

I still believe in the wisdom that Vaughn has to share. But when I read the Telepathic Soulmates draft, I don’t feel I’m beyond it. The world is so rich, and has so much potential, that it’s easy to get sucked right back into it all over again.

So I’m not trunking it. And I believe that with novels, unlike short stories, you need more distance from them in order to be effective in revising them. Since I’m not considered professional by any sense of the word, I may change my tune when my writing becomes a paying career, rather than an intense hobby. What I really need to learn is how to move on to a new project rather than taking a months-long writing vacation. I’ll still let the recently finished project sit, because my novels need that. It’s just that now, I intend to be working on something else, preferably something completely different.

Some breaks happen because they’re necessary, because real life gets in the way and trying to focus on anything creative is an exercise in futility. Other times, you just need a break from what you were writing, but that doesn’t mean you should stop writing. You should just write something different.

Short Fiction: Letting Go

And there’s one other trait I hit on lately:  Abandonment.  Knowing when to let go.  Being able to move on to the next thing when one thing isn’t working.

What this means if you’re an aspiring writer, if you want to be a professional writer:  Don’t pin all your hopes on one thing. As soon as you finish writing that first story, that first novel — start the next. Immediately.

—Carrie Vaughn, “On Being Prolific”

Earlier this year, I opened up the file that contained all of the short stories I wrote during my stint at Odyssey back in 2005. The reason for this was simple: Lightspeed Magazine was accepting submissions for their Women Destroy Science Fiction! issue, and I wanted to see which of those stories I’d worked on would be most appropriate to dust off, polish up, and submit.

But after reading each of those stories, and all of the short stories I wrote since then for various purposes, I found myself largely dissatisfied. It wasn’t that the stories were totally bad: they still needed revision, but my problem was that I’d moved on. I wasn’t the same person who wrote those short stories, and the revisions that need to be made should’ve been made back then, not now. Not by the current me, who is so far removed emotionally that while I recognize there’s good stuff in those stories, and I definitely learned something from those stories, they aren’t the stories I want to tell now. I definitely don’t want to get sucked in the mire of working on such old material when I really need to be stretching my brain and working on something new.

It was a frustrating lesson to learn on a lot of levels. Frustrating, but necessary.

So from here on out, this will be my modus operandi for short fiction:

1) Write.
2) Get it critiqued.
3) Revise.
4) Get final feedback.
5) Polish.
6) Send it out.

No breaks in between. No letting something “sit” for a while. With short fiction, it is what it is. I’ve now got ten years experience on the girl who was at Odyssey. I’m not the same girl who was learning how to hone her craft and slowly gaining confidence writing SF/F, which was still such a very new genre to me back then. I know why I let those stories sit:

I wasn’t confident.

I wanted to make sure things were perfect.

I feared rejection.

I felt like a story wasn’t ready to go out unless all readers I sent it to for feedback gave me a thumbs up.

I felt like a story wasn’t worth publishing unless a big market accepted it.

I now know that way lies madness. And likely dragons. And right now, I’ve got enough dragons to battle in my own head, thanks. No need to add more.

So if you’re an aspiring writer, and you’re revising and revising and revising, or maybe you wrote something and you’re letting it sit for a while (which, in some cases, isn’t wholly a bad thing, but that’s a post for another day), you need to learn when to submit, and when to let it go. Carrie Vaughn’s above-referenced post has some excellent advice. Right now, I’m applying that advice to my short fiction: letting the old stuff go and learning from the past.

As for my novels? Well, that’s a different story and a different post. 🙂

Culture Consumption: February 2014

It’s a new year, and a new set of lists! I’m going to continue my monthly culture consumption, and I’m adding a bit of commentary to a few of the categories. Not much, nothing like my old reviews, but they’re better than nothing! If you want me to talk further, or if I don’t talk about something you’re really interested in, just comment and let me know.

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