Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Jane Eyre re-covered; Microflash at Lily's; Review: GRRM's A Dance With Dragons

The Fox is Black is having another re-covered contest; this time, it's Jane Eyre. Fantastic entries so far; I was bouncing out of my chair over a few of them.

In the late '70s, a great-great uncle died, leaving behind a house that hadn't been touched since approximately 1938. My mom and grandma attempted to clean it out before the wrecking ball came, and I spent an almost magical week with them that summer. It was stuffy, dusty, everything faded to become a living sepia photograph of the past. Outside were cars and pharmacies and neon; inside it was ancient rugs, yellowing prints in cracking frames, and appliances both monolith and quaint.

There was also a room full of books. I picked one up at random and started reading. Took it home. Kept reading. Became enchanted.

Jane Eyre. I didn't know books could even exist like this! I still have this copy, though it's best not to attempt to open it. There's no publisher's date inside, but it is very, very old. I treasure it. I've since read Jane Eyre a dozen or so times, and listened to it on audio book last summer. This contest over at The Fox is Black is making my heart sing.


Speaking of contests (in the most amiable and casual way), after a long hiatus, I decided to take a swing at Lily's Friday Prediction again. I hope I haven't overextended myself, but it seems to be okay so far. I like to keep up with commenting on others' entries, and if I can't, I won't participate. Anyway, my microflash, The Arsonist, is there for your perusal.


I finished GRRM'S A Dance With Dragons.

I finished it.

I'm stunned.

Aggravated. My jaw has dropped. I'm appalled. I'm hysterical with glee.

Was it worth the six year wait? I... oh, god... I think it was. And lord knows, I was one of those stamping my foot most impatiently.

In a review in my local paper about five years ago, the first of the series, A Game of Thrones, was given high marks but someone who admittedly does not like fantasy. I like fantasy, so I decided to give it a whirl. It immediately became (and still is) the best fantasy novel I've ever read. AGOT is amazing, and I wait for HBO's dvd of the series while, you know, stamping my foot. :)

The rest of the books, as so often is the case, are not quite as good as Game. And the last, A Feast for Crows, if you follow these sorts of things, is infamous in fan circles. It definitely left a sour taste in my mouth, and I was much displeased. I realize that GRRM had split one mammoth novel into Dance and Feast, but that didn't make it much better. Still, I was excited for Dance. Mostly because the title makes one think it will focus on Dany, my favorite character.

And it did. Thankfully. I sometimes get mightily bored by the doings of all these (male, it goes without saying) lords and knights in Westeros; give me a strong woman, a leader with a good heart and, you know, dragons. And an army of eunuchs and some cast-off, grizzled old knights. Yes. I love it.

And now... spoilers.



I can't complain about character POVs in Dance. Jon Snow, Dany and Tyrion get their due. So does the Onion Knight (YAWN) and Asha Greyjoy (pfft, don't care). And Bran is still toiling, now under the hills, with the dead outside and waiting as he learns from the being that is surely his predecessor.

And so does Theon.

No, I did not guess. My mind was scrambling through each of Reek's passages -- who was this? Who it could it be? I never once thought of Theon. So the reveal, well, it was a sit-up-and-gasp moment. Well done, Mr. Martin. I've been on the fence about Theon--I despise him, I'm fascinated. Still on the fence at the end of Dance, but man, I enjoyed his journey, even when I was repulsed by him. A mental challenge such as he faced is rare, in any book. I held my breath as he debated whether or not to jump with Jeyne -- and was surprised when he did. I look forward to more of Theon in the next book.

Which brings me to Ramsay Bolton. What a motherfucker. JFC. All I will say is this: The letter he sends to Jon Snow at the end was a jaw-dropper. He is clearly unhinged. Someone needs to separate his head from his shoulders, stat. Vile, vile, vile, with no possibility of salvation.

And after that letter? The book ends with a stabbing. I admit, I was sick to my stomach. I've been replaying the scene, and I can't see how Jon will live. While Martin has a reputation for killing off major and minor characters, beloved and hated characters, I'm not sure he really should do this. Like The Walking Dead, there is a character which seems to bind everything together. Jon Snow is Rick Grimes. Of course, Jon's death isn't spelled out, just the attack, so we'll see.

And that is also the book's only moment of un-reality, if you will. I am not really believing that Jon would react so rashly to that letter, and that he'd leave his post to answer what is essentially Bolton's name-calling.

Of course, I couldn't believe that Dany was in love with that sellsword, Daario, either. But I must admit that he has his charms. As Martin writes, young girls will choose the fire every time. I also wish she'd stuck to her guns and not re-opened the pits, but it happened. And if not for that, she wouldn't have found out that she can fly. Now, how to control a dragon? That is a question. "Remember who you are. The dragons know." I've been pondering this, and wondering what, exactly, it means.

Also pondering why Penny is still alive. Like the Onion Knight -- YAWN. And Jorah Mormont needs to get a personality. He and Griff are nearly one in the same.

All of this is to say that the book really came alive, and I remembered why I love Martin's writing so much. He's a great storyteller. Above, I've left out parts with Jaime and Cersei, that silly prince Quentyn Martell, Brown Ben Plumm, our little beloved Arya (No one!) and a host of others. There is so much meat here, you could chew on it for days.

If you haven't read any of them, start at the beginning and get hooked. If you've been waiting to pick up Dance, go and do it.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Jenny Rossi is Deadly, and Here's the Proof

Jenny Rossi: Riches For One, Poverty for Two

Dickenson never left

her room much. Old hag.

Perhaps I am an acolyte, loving

too often the shadows of men,

never the men themselves.

---excerpt, Jenny Rossi, Riches For One, Poverty for Two

I once knew her age, this Rossi girl. I’ve forgotten, and file her under “young.” (which says vast oceans about my own physical state and mental) For once, I’m not jealous of brilliance in a young’un, and against my will, I’m smiling, smirking, shaking my head. This is one to watch.

You can have this book for free. Just download the PDF. Or you can buy a handmade collection of Rossi's prose. My suggestion? Buy it. Someday, you might run into her, and you'll want her to sign it, and you might just have it in your backpack (or D&G handbag, because by then you will SURELY have "made it"). Buy her a cup of coffee when you do. And then encourage her to go back home and write. By "encourage," I mean threaten in a soft tone of voice.

Because her writing is kind of bad-ass. Kind of tittering-she-doesn't-mean-that-does-she. Take "Lessons from the Middle Class," which may or may not have struck too close to home. Thank you, Miss Rossi, for there is the small bruise which writing should leave; I hope you are also bruised—but wait, every word is some small bruise on you, too. I’m happy about this.

Are there place-holders here, pages on which to pause, to take a breath before the next oh-so-gentle onslaught? Yes. As it should be. I can’t read continuously on the edge of a broken heart, even if it’s breaking for someone else, and not for myself. Here, she says, have a bit of pretty words, and now – swallow the broken glass.

Some pieces, like "Kerouac is Kool," reach warbling, cold depths, layers on layers that astonish. Very bad for the uncertain, tremulous heart. Unrecommended. You better be wise, and wary, if you're reading this. Rossi’s a culture wolf in sheep’s clothing. This kind of writing sways around the corner to dangerous.

I loves it, precious. Keep your eye on Jenny Rossi. (and here's her blog; "encourage" her to blog more)

Go get it. And while you're there, check out other authors in the Deadly Chaps line-up--hey, maybe even last year's. ;)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Swedish Music; "Androids" re-covered; Strange Horizons poetry that rocked my world

Ethereal, whimsical music by Musettes, a Swedish band outside of Stockholm. Something to listen to while you read -- and put a smile on your face.

Coucou Anne by Musettes

The Fox is Black held a contest: re-cover the sci-fi classic, "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" by Philip K. Dick. The results are astounding, and there are so many, that it would be hard to choose a favorite. Jaw-dropping creativity.

While Blade Runner is one of my favorite movies -- perhaps my very favorite -- the book did little for me. As the mod at Fox says, it's best to see it as inspiration. The movie is certainly not a literal translation of the book, more like, "Take these ideas and run!" Dick's writing tends to leave me cold, anyway, but I would say to anyone who loves Blade Runner that you ought to consider giving the book a read. It's not long, and it has its own merits.

And last, poetry: Foxes by Jamieson Ridenhour. I won't say much about this, other than, "Go read this. Now." Strange Horizons does tend to have some of the best poetry around.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Instrument of Fate now up at The Lorelei Signal

The Instrument of Fate is now in the current issue of The Lorelei Signal, with art by Lee Kuruganti. The Lorelei Signal is a fantasy zine featuring strong female characters. The story:

Moria, one of the ancient Fates, has the difficult task of keeping the newest
incarnation of Death in line. A task made more difficult by his 'I don't care about
this job' attitude -- and even more difficult when she must defend him from
termination. But there is something more powerful at work: could the mortal she
chose to replace the last incarnation be the ORIGINAL incarnation returned as
God promised he would after the rebellion in Heaven?

Having just re-read it, I was in tears. I'm not sure if it was the memories of writing that story, or that it became something beyond me, with characters that took on a life of their own. Even Erik, that bad boy, made me pity and love him. Anyway, I'm glad to have written it, and I hope you'll take a few minutes to read (or re-read) the tale yourself.


Currently reading GRRM's "A Dance With Dragons," and dare I say at this young juncture that it's worth the wait? Still holding my breath a bit, but overall, I'm remembering why I loved Martin's writing, his honesty in storytelling and his ability to fully flesh a character, no matter how small. The deaths, they are already coming. It is GRRM, after all. *g* But I am sincerely enjoying this, relishing everything, and trying not to rush.

And I'm realizing how much I've forgotten. What I've forgotten is EPIC. How does Martin remember it all? He must have walls covered in notes. May I never be filled with the flame of desire to write a seven-novel series. Goodness.

And now I make a prediction: The Wall will fall. Jon Snow will be forced back -- and to the seat of his father's reign. Ultimately, he will join forces with Daenerys, and it will be her dragons (one ridden by Tyrion! A ha!) that annihilate the undead Others.

That's a pretty simple prediction, leaving out lots of characters. But I'm going to go with it for now. Got one? Leave it here.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Blog Awards

I woke up, made my first cup of Dunkin Donuts new k-cup coffee (Original Blend), found it tasted delish and just like it does at Dunky's, and then sat down to find out people have been saying nice things about me on the interwebz. Awesome way to start the day.

I'm forgetting for the moment that one of the cats has hurked on the basement stairs, which I found out during an especially cheerful episode whilst bringing the laundry down. Lalallalalala! People saying nice things about me!

So first, I officially thank Chris Allinotte, not just for the award but because I found new peeps to follow because of him. It all led down a rabbit hole of clicky-clicky, so if I've started following you and you wonder why, it probably has to do with Chris, somehow. Blame him.

And second, I shall pay it back as follows, with recs of my own. In no particular order and over a weird spectrum of my likes:

TotusMel's Wunderkammer -- a quartet of Steampunk-inspired things every day, with easy linkage so you can buy them for yourselves (or just see them from other angles). Clothing, objets d'art, jewelry, prints, anything that captures TotusMel's attention. Worth it, even if you don't care for SP.

Author's Echo -- Fantasy writer Adam Heine muses on writing, genres, and asks interesting questions. I'm always interested by not only what he's got to say, but what will be said in the comments.

Don Kenn Gallery -- Artist John Kenn (I know, I can't figure it out, either) draws miniature works of bizarre, scary, jaw-dropping art on... drumroll please... post-it notes. Remember that when you see them. This is like Where the Wild Things Are meets The Office (I picture him as some sort of male Pam, doodling on office supplies behind the receptionist's desk; and yes, I know she's not a receptionist any longer; you are talking to one of the BIGGEST Office fans, liek, evah).

Xeroverse -- John Xero, sci-fi writer, man with astounding imaginative capacities, guy on the edge (his writing, that is). He can take hardcore sci-fi or fantasy and make it captivating and awesome, without leaving the reader cold. Brilllllllllliant. And he's got a second blog, where he writes 100-word fics each Wednesday. Currently on hiatus, but worth checking out here.

Dreams in Black and White -- Mark Reep is an amazing talent, with art inspired by his natural surroundings, art that takes on surreal, fantastical auras when put on paper. In addition, Mark now edits the Ramshackle Review. I cannot speak highly enough of the RR, with its eclectic and always high-quality offerings of flash fic, poetry and art.

So there you go! Five new blogs to follow, to hopefully inspire and bring as much joy to your day as they do to mine. You're supposed to let the people know you nominated them, and then they post five, but I want to take the pressure off everybody on this start to our weekend. Also, I'm in a defiant, no rules kind of mood. I'm sick of being an adult. It's a new thing with me. We'll see how this goes. I predict... disastrously.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Three Sick Tales (one by me!) for your reading pleasure

For your reading pleasure today, two by others and one of my own:

Cheeky by R. Thomas Brown -- Flashfic that's sick and twisted, and I love it. As usual, The Molotov Cocktail delivers (and now they have voting on each issue). Coincidentally, it appears Mr. Brown also has a story up at TFFO. Just read it. It rocks just as much! Finger Lickin' Good. Mm. That Mr. Brown is a, shall we say, sharp writer.

If you're a Chuck Palahniuk fan, his new story, "Romance," is in the August issue of Playboy. Also sick and twisted. I also loved it. And it's been raging about my head all day since I read it; he can take a premise that, if I told you, you would absolutely not believe, and he makes you absolutely believe it could happen. Amazing. But sick (not as fucked up as Snuff or some of his novels, so sort of tame on the Palahniuk-o-meter, but still icky). Well worth the cover price. :)

Also worth the price of admission: My own story, The Bumpy Road.

The zombies have come to suburbia, and eleven year old Richie has a hammer, a brother, a Bronco, and a Dad who loves him. I swear.

I don't usually talk too much about where my stories come from. It's the kind of navel-gazing with which I'm uncomfortable, and in the end, it doesn't matter. I don't, personally, care where an author got their ideas or who a certain character is based on or that a piece was inspired by the yellow lamp in their grandma's living room. I really don't.

Having said that, "The Bumpy Road" is an homage to my family. I won't say how much of them (and, therefore, me) is in this one, but this is deeply personal, taking eight months to write and edit. I'm going to tell my sister tomorrow (she'll squeal as soon as she hears the title) and my dad maybe never. Not that it's unflattering, it's just... There's a weird thing about knowing someone's written about you. Or so I would imagine.

If anyone would ever like to make me a character in their story, I think I'd feel weird.


Love and zombies,