Want to kick-start your writing?
Set your own goals -- this doesn't have to be a full 50K-word endeavour, just whatever you want to aim for. Pick a WIP to finish, or set a daily time- or wordcount-goal. Or just wing it, if you prefer.
Daily check-in posts. Locked comm so we can chat/cheer/commiserate in semi-privacy (ie, you have to join to play, but membership isn't moderated). Come one, come all...
I prefer things I can get as trade collections because there's pretty much zero chance I can afford to chase down individual comics. XD
(This has been brought to you by wasting time by reading Cyclops' TV Tropes page.)
Italics taken from the blurbs. Gothics have the best blurbs.
Castle Barebane, by Joan Aiken. A series of lurid murders... a roofless ruin with crumbling battlements... nephew and niece callously abandoned in a slum... a man of mysterious origins and enigmatic habits... dark emanations from London's underworld... Mungo, an old sailor...
The Five-Minute Marriage, by Joan Aiken. An imposter has claimed her inheritance... a counterfeit marriage to the principle heir, her cousin... family rivalries festering for generations... a shocking episode of Cartaret family history will be repeated.
The Weeping Ash, by Joan Aiken. Sixteen-year-old Fanny Paget, newly married to the odious Captain Paget... in northern India, Scylla and Calormen Paget, twin cousins of the hateful Captain, have begun a seemingly impossible flight for their lives, pursued by a vengeful maharaja... elephant, camel, horse, raft... The writer has used her own two-hundred-year-old house in Sussex, England for the setting.
Winterwood, by Dorothy Eden. The moldering elegance of a decaying Venetian palazzo... pursued by memories of the scandalous trial that rocked London society... their daughter, Flora, crippled by a tragic accident... Charlotte's evil scheming... a series of letters in the deceased Lady Tameson's hand
The Place of Sapphires, by Florence Engel Randall. A demon-haunted house... two beautiful young sisters... the pain of a recent tragedy... a sinister and hateful force from the past... by the author of Hedgerow.
Shadow of the Past, by Daoma Winston. An unseen presence... fled to Devil's Dunes... strange "accidents..." it seemed insane... the threads of the mysterious, menacing net cast over her life... What invisible hand threatened destruction?
Twelve-year-old Lucy returns to the small English village of Hagworthy, which she hasn’t visited since she was seven. There she stays with her aunt, reconnects with some childhood friends and finds that both she and they have changed, and looks on in growing alarm as the well-meaning but ignorant new vicar resurrects the ancient tradition of the Horn Dance, which is connected to the Wild Hunt.
The premise plus the opening sentences probably tell you everything you need to know about the book:
The train had stopped in a cutting, so steep that Lucy, staring through the window, could see the grassy slopes beyond captured in intense detail only a yard or two away: flowers, insects, patches of vivid red earth. She became intimate with this miniature landscape, alone with it in a sudden silence, and then the train jolted, oozed steam from somewhere beneath, and moved on between shoulders of Somerset hillside.
This is one of my favorite genres which sadly does not seem to exist any more, the subset of British children’s fantasy, usually set in small towns or villages, which focuses on atmosphere, beautiful prose, and capturing delicate moments in time. Character is secondary, plot is tertiary, and there may be very little action (though some have a lot); the magical aspects are often connected to folklore or ancient traditions, and may be subtle or questionable until the end.
You can see all those elements in those two sentences I quoted; the entire subgenre consists of inviting the reader to become intimate with minature landscapes.
This is obviously subjective and debatable, but I think of Alan Garner, Susan Cooper (especially Greenwitch), and Robert Westall as writers with books in this subgenre, but not Diana Wynne Jones. The settings are the sort parodied in Cold Comfort Farm. Hagworthy is full of darkly muttering villagers who kept making me think, “Beware, Robert Poste’s child!”
In The Wild Hunt of Hagworthy, Lucy’s parents are divorced, and her mother is now living in another country with a baby brother Lucy has never met. This is mentioned maybe two or three times, very briefly, which is interesting because so many books would make a much bigger deal of it. Lucy returns to Hagworthy for a vacation with her aunt, a botanist.
Of her childhood friends, the two girls have become horse-mad and have nothing in common with Lucy. The boy, Kester, is now a moody misfit teenager, and Lucy, who is also a bit of a moody misfit, becomes friends with him all over again. They wander around the countryside, fossil-hunting and stag-watching, periodically getting in fights over Kester’s refusal to discuss the thing hanging over the story, which is the new vicar’s revival of the Horn Dance to fundraise at a fete. This is very obviously going to awaken the Wild Hunt, and Kester has clearly been mystically targeted as its victim. Though there is a ton of dark muttering about what a bad idea this is, no one does anything about this until nearly the end, when Lucy finally makes first a misfired attempt to stop the Horn Dance, then a successful one to save Kester.
The atmosphere and prose is lovely, and if you like that sort of thing, you will like this book. Even for a book that isn’t really about the plot, the plot had problems. One was the total failure of any adult to even try to do anything sensible ever, for absolutely no reason, until Lucy finally manages to ask the right person the right question. This could have been explained as some magical thing preventing them from acting, but it wasn’t.
The other problem I had was that nothing unpredictable ever happens. Everyone is exactly what they seem: the blacksmith has mystical knowledge, the vicar is an innocent in over his head, the horse-mad girls have nothing in their heads but horses, and so forth. I kept expecting something to be slightly less obvious—for the vicar to know exactly what he’s doing and have a nefarious purpose, for the horse-mad girls to not be as dumb as they seem or to have their horsey skills play a role in saving Kester, for Lucy’s aunt to know more about magic than the blacksmith, etc—but no.
I looked up Penelope Lively. It looks like her famous book is Ghost of Thomas Kempe, which I think I also own.
There’s an album of music based on the book which you can listen to online. It’s by the Heartwood Institute, and is instrumental and atmospheric.
The Wild Hunt of Hagworthy
I'm including a few Bella Books releases from October because a couple of my fellow Bella authors asked me to. And guess what? Bella Books is having a weekend sale! 17% off all orders over $17. Vortex of Crimson is the final book in Lise MacTague's Deception's Edge SF romance trilogy.
All Torrin Ivanov wanted was to get Jak Stowell back, that was supposed to be the hard part. In a cruel twist, Jak is hers again, but her girlfriend is literally losing her mind. The only help can be found on the last planet in the universe to which Torrin would like to return…To cure Jak, they must return to her war-ravaged home planet, Haefen.
For Jak, returning to her home planet gives her the chance to make good on a promise too long deferred. But will she be able to finally take out her brother’s killer? Or will she be pulled into the dark undertow of local politics…
The two women soon find that politics pale next to the threat of the one who still hunts Jak. This time he has bait—Torrin’s sister, Nat Ivanov. As their search intensifies, Torrin and Jak realize that despite all of the obstacles in their way, one thing is clear—they can at least depend on each other. But will that be enough?
Like Vortex of Crimson, Mother of Souls is a third book, though the Alpennia series is both longer-reaching and less of a single story than the traditional trilogy format. The two books have one more thing in common, though: they're both on sale this weekend at Bella Books!
The Great November Book Release Re-Boot is a blog series talking about November 2016 releases that may have been overshadowed by unfortunate political events.
audio: Passion Pit, "Lifted Up (1985)"
stream: on Vimeo
download: 258MB on Dropbox
summary: I won't lie, I knew you'd belong here.
My wiscon_vidparty premiere!
There's no point beating around the bush: Tomorrowland is a compelling movie with bad pacing and execrable politics, but it's also a movie where two girls save the world, one of whom is a robot. (George Clooney helps.) I wanted to make a vid about that part of the movie, less about Brad Bird's weird elitism and despair. The song choice seemed almost too obvious, but on the other hand, I like it.
Weirdly, this is the second vid I've made for Wiscon with a Disney connection, the first being Just a Dream Away. Making this vid also helped me to realize that the movie has already been influential at the level of visuals: Yorktown in Star Trek Beyond, last seen in my equinox_exchange vid We Are Who We Are, is almost a carbon copy of the city in this movie, right down to some of the camera angles. I had originally hoped to make this as a Festivids treat, and then November happened. At least I can now go watch the Festivid that did get made for the movie.
One of the things I like about vidding is that it's changed the way I watch movies and it changes the way I think about the sources I vid. Towards the end of making this one I started thinking that they should have cast Casey as not white, which cemented my ambivalence about the entire film. (It wouldn't work, of course, because Brad Bird not so secretly fears the postmodern present, which is why his vision of Tomorrowland is anchored in the late 19thC and the high water mark of the modern, the 1964 World's Fair.) In conclusion, Star Trek does it better. Onward.
How to play: Fling means I spend a single night of passion (or possibly passionate hatred) with the book, and write a review of it, or however much of it I managed to read. Marry means the book goes back on my shelves, to wait for me to get around to it. (That could be a very long time.) Kill means I should donate it without attempting to read it. You don't have to have read or previously heard of the books to vote on them.
Please feel free to explain your reasoning for your votes in comments. For this particular poll, I have never read anything by any of the authors (or if I did, I don't remember it) and except for Hoover and Lively, have never even heard of the authors other than that at some point I apparently thought their book sounded interesting enough to acquire.
The Spring on the Mountain, by Judy Allen. Three kids have magical, possibly Arthurian adventures on a week in the country.
The Lost Star, by H. M. Hoover. A girl who lives on another planet hears an underground cry for help (and finds chubby gray cat centaurs if the cover is accurate)
The Wild Hunt of Hagworthy, by Penelope Lively. Lucy visits her aunt in Hagworthy and is embroiled in the ancient Horn Dance and Wild Hunt.
Carabas, by Sophie Masson. Looks like a medieval setting. A shapeshifting girl gets accused of being a witch and runs off with the miller's son.
Of Two Minds, by Carol Mates and Perry Nodelman. Princess Lenora can makes what she imagines real; Prince Coren can read minds, but everyone can read his mind. (Ouch!)
We arrived to find the door without a handle. M says he thinks he knows where it is. I certainly hope so, because opening it was a bit of a hassle. Apart from that, it all went well.
I made a few teensy exceptions to my rules that books for this promotion had to be November releases. One friend had a re-release, one November release was short fiction that I used to bump mention of the related book, and when I mentioned the project on the Bella Books facebook group, a couple of my fellow Bella authors with October releases asked it I could include them too--which I did when I found I had some space open at the end of the month. (Ordinarily, I try to avoid scope creep because it hits my anxiety buttons.) I'm re-arranging the planned schedule a bit to move those Bella books into the next few days because...Bella Books is having a weekend sale! 17% off all orders over $17.
Tempered Steele: Hard Edges by M. E. Logan is a follow-up to the post-apocalyptic dystopian romantic adventure Tempered Steele: Stoking the Fire.
After a nearly apocalyptic earthquake engendered a societal breakdown, visionary Deborah Steele returned to her isolated family farm and turned it into a safe haven for women to escape from the increasingly misogynistic and dystopian world around them. Her fair and open system of contracting labor for food, shelter and security has bound them together and ensured their survival. So far…
Outside the farm, however, others are using a contract system as a form of human trafficking. And Deborah’s attempts to protect her estranged love, Joanna Davis, will soon bring the women’s community unwanted visibility, putting them all in danger and forcing Deborah to choose between the sanctuary she has built and the woman she still loves.
It doesn't take a dystopia for women to need to struggle against misogyny and a society that exploits their labor and denies them a full life. Challenging those forces will always put them in danger, whether of overt violence or the no less hazardous rejection of society. In Mother of Souls, Luzie Valorin faces the choice between acceding to those who think her musical skills are only suitable for domestic amusements--or to support a man's career--and reaching out to sieze the chance for greatness. Perhaps even to change the fate of Europe with her compositions!
The Great November Book Release Re-Boot is a blog series talking about November 2016 releases that may have been overshadowed by unfortunate political events. And at the moment, some of those books are on sale!
Friday is still a little jet-lagged…
- Rescue cat sleeps every night tucked into her tiny bed.
- Humorous social media posts from Australia’s New South Wales police force.
- Corgi mixed-breeds have achieved all the cuteness.
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.