Recent Reads/GGK Book Club: A Song for Arbonne

Recent Reads/GGK Book Club: A Song for Arbonne

I just finished A SONG FOR ARBONNE, which was May’s GGK Book Club book. (I’m working on catching up! I bet I’ll be almost caught up by the end of the year! :))

I’ve been kind of interested in re-reading SONG, because I’ve only read it once and it didn’t, er, sing to me, as it were. It’s the one GGK book I’ve never had any particular interest *in* re-reading, which, in the end, caused me to be interested in re-reading it. I was wondering if it was my callow youth that caused it to not click, or if it was the book itself, or, well, what.

It’s the book.

SONG’s real problem for me—and I can remember, however vaguely, that this was its essential problem 20+ years ago as well—is that it is not TIGANA. Now, this is frankly an unfair assessment, because I don’t like to, and try not to, judge books for not being what I want them to be. Especially when the book it’s failing to be is my favourite book, full stop.

The thing is, I feel like SONG wants to be TIGANA. It has so many of the same themes: love of (complicated) family, love of country, love of music, and all the costs therein. It’s not the same story, not even vaguely, but to me, as a reader, it just feels like thematically it’s already been done, and done more powerfully, in TIGANA.

Maybe I’m reading it as the wrong kind of song. Maybe it’s a ballad to TIGANA’s overture, I don’t know, but it just doesn’t work for me the way TIGANA does. I can even see moments in it where I feel like it *should*, but it doesn’t reach the heights (or the depths). I kind of wish I could step back and read SONG first, just to see if, delivered outside of TIGANA’s shadow, it would hit me more powerfully.

There was also—noticeably to me now—the attitude of the main character, Blaise, toward women. It was progressive for his people, but Arbonne’s society is modeled on Eleanor of Aquitaine’s Court of Love, and is ruled by a woman, which Blaise doesn’t start out thinking very highly of. I suspect that my distaste for his distaste may have colored my reading back then; it *certainly* did this time. (He comes around, and does so in a way and a timeline appropriate to both himself and the book, but starting where he does kind of makes me want to smack him around. Again, not a really fair assessment, but there you go.)

Even so, I think I liked it better this time: I wasn’t so much expecting it to be TIGANA, maybe. It was in most ways a total revelation, as I remembered exactly one thing (the big secret revealed at the end) and it turned out I’d entirely forgotten all the particulars (indeed, remembering the big secret caused me to completely incorrectly assign the secret to someone and I was actually surprised when I turned out to be wrong), so it was a pretty satisfying read in most regards.

5 things make a post

5 things make a post

Thing One: gemmafade_teaser Val is working hard on the GEMMA FADE pages, and gave me permission to post a teaser page. :) I tell you, sending a script out and getting drawings back is one of the niftiest things EVER. :)

Thing Two: A link to some fudge. Just in case you need some. :)

Thing Three: The STONE’S THROE copy edits have been delivered! Soon! SOOOOOOOOOOON! a pulp fiction novel by yours truly will be available to readers everywhere! :)

Thing Four: This is a truly terrific fanvid to Nicki Minoj’s Starship. Really honestly terrific, go watch it.

Thing Five: I’m starving and gonna go find something to eat. (Look, I didn’t say they were 5 *scintillating* things, did I? No!)

sunday morning floods

sunday morning floods

So there was Young Indiana in the shower and there was me at the other end of the bathroom checking FB and stuff and suddenly I realize that although I’ve been telling him not to block the drain there’s water slopping over the edge of the shower and that the entire kitchen below is flooding.

Of course I start bellowing, “Ted! TED!” because I don’t even know why and I’m running downstairs and shouting, “TED!” and he leaps out of bed and I make Indy bring towels downstairs and show him what’s happened and he gasps, “This is a DISASTER!”

and now Ted’s standing in the kitchen looking horrified and like he’s going to puke from waking up to a sudden adreneline rush while I’m saying “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I don’t know why I shouted for you, it’s not like there was anything you could actually DO, I guess maybe I had the horrible idea a pipe had actually broken and I was going to need more hands” and there are towels all over the floor

and Indy says “I was just trying to float my triceratops!”

and Ted says “Of course you were,” to him, and, his sense of humor somewhat restored, says to me, “You just needed another adult brain to pick up the processing power to judge the level of emergency,” which was fairly accurate and

drip drip drip splat drip

and now I’m doing the Laundry of a Thousand Sodden Towels while poor Ted goes back to bed

and I never did get Indy’s hair washed.

in other news–

in other news–

–the Fantasy Fudge project is at nearly $3K. If it breaks $3K today I’ll do a random upgrade for one supporter who will get a 2 pound package of fudge instead of 1 pound package. :)

There’s a new farmer’s market opening near here pretty soon. Part of me is actually kind of wildly considering emailing them and finding out what their booth fees are and what the general food-sales-at-farmers-markets laws are and maybe doing a fudge & candy stall for 4 or 6 weeks before Christmas.

You guys are bad for my crazy head. :)

A plea to Marvel

A plea to Marvel

Those of you who pay attention to this sort of thing will know that this fall, Thor’s hammer Mjolner will be taken up by a woman, who will also take on the name of Thor. Moreover, Steve Rogers is putting down the shield and Sam Wilson, recently introduced to the world at large as Falcon in the 2nd Captain America movie, will be taking it up. Wilson is a black man, not the first to carry the Captain America moniker, but I believe he’s the first person at all to do so as someone Steve chose as his own successor.

Thor’s name is apparently being treated as a title, which I’m pretty cool with. I’m a little confused as to what we’ll be calling Thor himself, since his *name* is Thor and he’s presumably still a god, it’s just that he and Mjolner are on the outs again and it’s apparently decided he’s not worthy, but nevermind that. Marvel’s making statements left and right that the woman taking up Mjolner *is* Thor, and that’s cool and interesting and I, who have never liked comic-book-Thor, might just read that.

Cappy’s name has been passed around several times, and as a newly-fledged (er, no pun intended) Falcon fan, I’m freaking thrilled that Sam Wilson will be the man behind the mask. I am not, apparently, violently attached to the skin color or gender of my superheroes; I *like* the idea of them being flexible.

The only problem is that very little lasts, in superhero comics. Nobody really thinks that OriginalThor will be on the outs with Mjolner forever; everybody knows Steve will carry the shield again.

But what if that didn’t happen? What if they held the line? What if, yeah, maybe Thor does take up Mjolner again, or Steve the shield–but it’s only momentary, filling in for an emergency? What if they were *allowed* to do that, and what if we, as readers–particularly as women or people of color–were given those characters straight-up and for the long haul?

*That* would shake things up. *That* is what I’d really love to see. I’d love to have my cynicism proven wrong and for the status quo to change.

But the thing is, status quo is subjective. Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson got divorced after 20 (real life) years of marriage, because Marvel editors wanted to return Spider-Man to the status quo–nevermind that for an entire generation of readers, Peter and MJ being married *was* the status quo.

The problem was that it wasn’t the status quo for the editors and writers. They had grown up with an unmarried Peter and so that was how it Should Be.

But, y’know, I grew up with an unmarried Peter (and aside from the middling detail that I wanted to marry him myself in my childhood years) and I was terribly disappointed and shocked that they divorced. So I’m hoping–I’m even asking–that Marvel lets these changes stay in place long enough to become the norm.

And then I ask that they have the courage to recognize that for a generation, and for a gender, and for a race, that the status quo is important, and that when they change again–because they will–that they should continue to look forward with those changes, and not back.

chocolate sauce

chocolate sauce

We were out of chocolate sauce and had vanilla ice cream, so I went in search of a quick and easy chocolate sauce recipe. Some ten or fifteen minutes later, Ted, who is pretty dubious of non-Hersheys chocolate sauces, said, “This is really pretty good!” off the sauce I’d made.

“Thanks,” I said. “I found a recipe, but it called for water and I thought that wouldn’t be very good, so I substituted milk, and then I thought, y’know, this is going to need some more fat in it to bring it up to a nice texture and flavour, so I threw a knob of butter in–”

At which point Ted started laughing and said, “So you didn’t use a recipe at all.”

WELL BUT I LOOKED AT ONE O.O

Catie’s Chocolate Sauce:
1 c milk
1 2/3 c sugar
2/3 c cocoa powder
1 1/2 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla

Whisk first 4 ingredients in a smallish sauce pan over a medium heat until the texture is smooth. Bring to a rolling boil & boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

It made about 18oz of chocolate sauce, so I boiled up a couple of jars and have jarred it. No idea how long it keeps, but I’d recommend keeping it in the fridge, even in sealed jars. Just in case.

You could probably eliminate the butter and use cream instead of milk, incidentally. I just didn’t think of it until after I was stirring. :)

Recent Reads/GGK Book Club: Tigana

Recent Reads/GGK Book Club: Tigana

I have, terribly belatedly, read April’s GGK book club novel, TIGANA. Well, re-read it, because it’s down on my Reading List four times and I’ve read it at least twice that many times, because the reading list didn’t get started until well after the book came out.

TIGANA is, pretty much without a doubt, my favourite book. I’ve never previously tried to do any kind of figuring out why, but as I was reading this time I had the question in the back of my head, and it became clear very early on that one of the reasons it succeeds so hugely for me is because I find it so incredibly well *balanced*.

The heartbreak and the joy of the book are always on a knife’s edge; of the characters, Devin, particularly, often recognizes that within himself. But more than that, even, is that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. There’s no weft without the weave there, and I could cite dozens of examples but I’d be here all night. One weight and balance that particularly struck me in this reading, though, was what Tomasso gained from Sandre and Sandre gained from Catriana.

Another thing that especially struck me in this reading was that not very long ago, author Alma Alexander, who was born in Yugoslavia, talked about how the ripping away of Tigana’s name struck her viscerally, as someone whose country of birth no longer exists. GGK’s inspiration for the idea of taking away a name apparently came from visiting Ireland, where he was struck by all the English place-names replacing the Irish names, but until I read Alma’s post I didn’t really think about how there are modern countries–many countries–which have disappeared and come unmade that way. It’s my favourite book anyway, but that increased its impact yet again.

And then on a hugely personal career note, the last two or three times I’ve read TIGANA have been post-Inheritors’-Cycle-writing. I knew, of course (and astute readers also observed) that in many ways those books are a direct homage to GGK in general and TIGANA in specific. It had been several years since I’d read TIGANA when I wrote THE QUEEN’S BASTARD and THE PRETENDER’S CROWN, and going back and re-reading it not long after those books came out–honestly, there’s more homage than I intended. There are a couple of things–Belinda’s memory, in particular–that I would have done differently if I had remembered consciously about *Devin*’s memory.

OTOH, I could not have written those books without TIGANA, or I couldn’t have written them the way that I did, and I happen to love them the way that they are. TQB, especially–there’s a moment in it where the whole book up to that point pays off in something like 57 words. To me it’s the knife-twist moment, the moment where the last piece falls into place and damns it all, and for me, it’s perfect. And what I was trying to achieve there was the agonizing inevitablity that TIGANA builds toward: the moment when the mountains lift from Rhun’s mind; the moment when Dianora leaves Scelto; the moment when Sandre breaks the blind and speaks to the sorcerer, and a dozen more like it. Without those guidelines, without the knowledge it *could* be done, I could never have even tried, much less (for myself, at least) succeeded.

So even for the parts where I went (in my retrospective opinion) too far, those books are so much a love story to TIGANA that really all I can do is stand with my hand to my heart and thank GGK for writing it. It’s just…well, it’s my favourite book.

office reclamation

office reclamation

Some months ago we rearranged all the bedrooms so that our son wasn’t in one next to the road. What was his bedroom became the office, which has been…problematic…ever since.

I have, to some degree, reclaimed it now. There’s almost enough room to set up my captain’s chair, anyway, and since I am once more hopelessly, murderously behind on where I want to be with writing, it would be nice to get that set up again. We will not talk about the cost of reclaiming the office to other rooms in the house.

Speaking of writing, I’ve gotten the final revisions for STONE’S THROE, my Spirit of the Century pulp fiction novel that I’ve had so much fun writing. I hope this wee book flies on little pulpy wings right into the hearts of readers, because honestly, I wouldn’t hate the opportunity to write another one. :) I gotta ask if/when I’m allowed to post some teaser chapters for you guys!

phone, jam, life

phone, jam, life

I have a new long-term-temporary phone. If you believe I should or did have your number, please text me your name so I can re-add you to my address book. Sank oo.

Last night? Yes, last night. Last night I made some unusually nice applesauce and jarred up several jars of it (and ate the rest). I’m thinking of doing little homemade jars of stuff for Christmas presents and I’m considering strawberry jam, lemon curd, applesauce and (if I can nerve myself up to trying it) marmalade. That would be a pretty little foursome, right?

Hey, I’m posting about writing the Walker Papers over on Magical Words this month. The first week’s post was about themes and this week’s is about Gary.

On the Fantasy Fudge front, I’d posted saying that probably the dairy-free fudge would be chocolate-only. Someone asked if, if they were willing or able to have dairy in small amounts, they could participate in the Mix And Match that’s the next stretch goal (backers get to try up to 3 kinds in their package!). Say I: sure, no problem, just as long as you recognize I’m not the one volunteering to make you sick. :)

Boy, I just need one more thing for Five Things Make A Post. Um. Nope, I got nothin’. Gonna go cook dinner. :)

stolen phone

stolen phone

My phone was just stolen. And it turns out that although I had it insured, I did not, apparently, have it insured against theft or loss. I could have sworn I did, but it’s not in the policy I’ve got, so…fuck.

So, guys! Support my crowdfund! You get fudge and I get a new phone… :}

It had been such a nice day up until then, too. The worst part is I don’t have the photos on the phone set to automatically upload to the cloud and I’d been thinking literally yesterday that I needed to upload them and now, well. Fuck.

(eta: I called my local garda, who suggested I hie myself over to the station in the area it was stolen and report it, because they only keep CCTV for 48-72 hours. I had not thought of CCTV at all. Guess I know where I’m going tonight.

eta2: went to the garda, did everything we could, odds are poor that i’ll get the phone back, but we’ve tried.)