Monday, March 28, 2016

March Round-Up

How the devil is it the end of March already? I swear we just started this month. It's probably at least in part because I just got back from Norwescon, so I'm still in con-brain-mode. That's my excuse, anyway.

Words written: 8,836 on one project (Paranormal Investigations)

Things accomplished in fiction: Alison and Jonathan have their First Date, and a new character emerges from out of freakin' nowhere (seriously, dude?)

Writer-ly things accomplished: I guess I'll figure out where the new guy is coming from? He'll help move things forward, and I've got a decent idea of what comes next. Prepping for Camp Nanowrimo!

New books read: Reflections (Indexing book 2, AKA how Seanan McGuire uses her folklore degree); The Jewel (for I am a sucker for a decent YA dystopia); Adulthood is a Myth (collection of comic strips that speak to my heart); The Tropic of Serpents (book 2 of the Lady Trent memoirs); and  Chaos Choreography (book 5 of the Incryptid series, and probably the most fun of all of them, even with all the bodies).

Old books re-read: Books 1-4 of the Incryptid series, in preparation for the new book Chaos Choreography; Storm Glass (book 1 of the Glass series/book 4 of the Chronicles of Ixia series, preparatory for a couple of new books in the series).

Monday, March 21, 2016

Prepping for Camp Nanowrimo

It's getting close to that time again! Camp Nanowrimo will be starting April 1st, and I'm hoping that my goal this year is realistic enough to make winning something feasible. I know my current goal is to have a complete draft of Paranormal Investigations Inc book 2 finished by the end of this month, but I realized that I had a bigger gap that needed to be filled in with the end of book 1, and that's what I've been working on. My goal for Camp Nanowrimo is to finish filling the book 1 gap, and get to the big climax of book 2. After that, we'll see if there's still enough material for a third book, or if I'm really just writing one volume - either is a possibility at this point.

In the meantime, I'll be heading to Norwescon this weekend (meaning Wednesday) for a weekend of reading and being around my people. I'm looking forward to it - it'll be nice to get away from the stresses of the day to day for a little bit, and I'm hoping I'll be able to focus on writing while I'm there. If nothing else, I should be able to get some progress made on the projects for my Ravelry swaps - I have one due at the end of this month (the theme is Mythology), and one due at the end of next month (theme: Stationary). I feel pretty good about what I have so far, but it'll be great to get everything finished and taken care of.

That's all the news that's fit to print from my end. How are you guys doing? Any interesting writing or reading?

Monday, March 14, 2016

Character Interview - Alison Parker

I've been working on (slowly) finishing my draft zero of the Paranormal Investigations trilogy, or at least the first full book. I know what needs to happen, but I'm truthfully not hugely excited about it. I figured that now would be a good time to talk to my main character, and get into her head a little bit. Lucky you, you get to read my extremely rough writing! You can thank me later.

Enter ALISON - mid-twenties, blonde, short, stocky, dressed in jeans and an oversized sweatshirt with beat-up tennis shoes and carrying a large messenger bag. She sits on a stool, gripping her bag to her chest as though afraid to let it out of her sight, and smiles tightly.

ALISON: I'm fine. This is just a little bit weird. There's nothing here, you know? No walls or ceiling or...anything. It's just open space, and this stool on a little bit of floor, and I can't see who's talking, so it's kind of freaking me out a little bit, you know?
I: Well, yeah, but the focus is you. You know, the plan is to talk to you, get to know you a little better. So, what did you study in college?
A: Weird, but whatever. I studied literature and dance, though I focused on the literature side of things. I liked dance, but I wasn't all that good at it.
I: These things happen. What do you plan on doing, now that you're graduated?
A: (glares) Rude. You expect me to know how my life is going to turn out, just because I've graduated from college? How the hell should I know? At this point, I'm just happy working someplace that gets me enough money to make payments on my student loans and keep my car running, and able to take care of Gramps. I'll figure things out later.
I: Is that why you're living with your grandfather? To save money?
A: That's part of it. I also just want to make sure he's taken care of, you know? I don't like the idea of him being alone.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Series Review - The Glamourist Histories by Mary Robinette Kowal

Several years ago, I started reading books by Seanan McGuire and listening to the Writing Excuses podcast. These things may not seem all that related, but they are, through one Mary Robinette Kowal. She is a regular part of the Writing Excuses podcast, and she is the audiobook narrator for Seanan's October Daye series. So when I heard that she was going to be publishing her first novel, I was interested. When I heard that the premise could be summed up as "Pride and Prejudice with magic," I knew I needed to find it. I have never been happier to have a book series cross my path.

The first book of the series, Shades of Milk and Honey, sets the stage for an alternative Victorian-era England, in which there is a kind of magic known as glamour. As it deals with light and illusion, it is frequently considered a woman's art, alongside embroidery and painting. The main character, Jane, is the eldest of two sisters and the "plain" one, so she tries to content herself with a future as a spinster, living with her parents and, later, her sister and brother-in-law. This is before she meets Vincent, a professional glamourist of some renown.

I realize that this is coming across as more of a traditional romance than what I normally recommend, and that's not inaccurate. However, the characters are well-developed, and there's more to them than simply a "will they or won't they?" storyline. The later books delve into the relationship between Jane and Vincent, as they struggle with the things most married people need to figure out when they're building a life with someone after living alone. There's also some wonderful world-building with regards to how having magic may have changed key elements in history and society as a whole, which is part of the reason why I love alternate histories.

I am exceedingly fond of these books, and they have been added to my regular rotation of comfort reading.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Trigger warning: Suicidal images

Lately, my husband and I have been watching Lucifer. We're playing catch-up on episodes on the DVR, so we're a few episodes behind. One episode started with a woman standing up somewhere high, looking down. Lucifer comes up behind her and starts whispering in her ear, encouraging her to jump. He keeps talking, until finally she jumps...

Into a pool. It's not actually as high up as it looked, but it was still one of those moments that I would have loved to have had some kind of warning. It felt like I'd had the wind knocked out of me, and it took a few minutes before I could breathe properly again.

I've always understood intellectually why people reference trigger warnings when telling stories or writing articles about traumatizing things. I had just never actually been "triggered" before, and it put the whole idea in a new light for me.

I've mentioned before that I had some hard times in college, and there were times when I didn't think there was any way out of the darkness. Seeing what looked like someone being talked into jumping to her hit harder than I thought anything would, and it sent me right back to how it felt when things got bad.

There's been a lot of talk lately about how asking for trigger warnings on content is a sign that people are being coddled or something. I'm realizing that it's not that. It's giving people an opportunity to prepare for something that can send someone back to a place that they can't handle. I fail to see how giving an audience a chance to take care of themselves is "coddling."