So, not moving, unless LJ becomes fallout from Russian political dynamics. (Or ours, since we're about to face an onslaught of our own above-the-law kleptocrats.)
So, not moving, unless LJ becomes fallout from Russian political dynamics. (Or ours, since we're about to face an onslaught of our own above-the-law kleptocrats.)
In other news, it is the season of good reading. I have at hand an ms that I've looked forward to for years, actually, come to think of it. And sitting right behind me an ARC of Seven Surrenders, by Ada Palmer, sequel to Too Like the Lightning, which I read twice and loved earlier this year. Going to reread it before reading the new one: I want all this complicated world's images and ideas glimmering around me before I strike further out into that wine dark sea.
A third of the way into Mark Lawrence's new one, which will come out in April, so I don't know that I should discuss what I'm seeing. (It's a worldbuilding issue, which may be spoiler territory for some types of readers). But the book is really, really good. Violent, yeah but with this one I'm not feeling that it's gratuitous as I did when I tried his first series (then put it down when I hit rape territory), or unnecessary in bits of the second series, which had enough terrific elements that kept me going. I feel like he's getting better, or maybe it's just that this one is closer to my own particular reading protocols. Anyway. Enjoying.
First, in my slow indie publishing trickle, Lhind the Spy has a print form, a very pretty one, thanks to some fellow BVC volunteer laborers.
For those to whom I said "end of the year" for the publication of Rebel, third of the Change series, that is being pushed back a bit while my writing partner struggles with severe health challenges that the medical community either is puzzled by, mis-diagnoses, or consistently and depressingly dismisses with a "go see a psychologist." Though my partner is already a therapist. Too many women, I find, get that easy dismissal when their physical problem doesn't immediately tick any boxes.
But the book is written, it just needs her pass before we go to copyedit and trundle it through the production end. (That actually ought to go fast if she can get enough somewhat pain free days in which to work--we have a cover, and I have two good copyedit and proof volunteers standing by, with whom I've traded work.)
Everything else has slowed as I dealt with bouts of depression, some of which has been triggered by November's disaster, and some by sharp awareness of various inadequacies; it's hard to say "I'll improve when I grow up" when one is in her mid-sixties. Ongoing projects have stagnated or been slow at the typing end, but I've been doing necessary stuff at the tectonic level, one might say.
I see myself as a perfect example of the career one should never have, as I've made every stupid mistake it's possible to make, added to the fact that I couldn't fight my own brain, that is, get past the intensity of visual image to see what I was actually writing, until I was way past fifty. So I expect by the time I get to be any good (assuming pub dates even happen to small fry like me) I'll be too old, or dead.
But until then, writing is still my greatest joy, seconded by my close family, reading*, music, good food, the fascinating world. So there it is, another year, and little to show for it, but a year fully lived anyway, with all its jets of happiness, sharp griefs, shared laughter, wonder, yes, and anger.
*for the first time ever, I'm going to add in television. TV for me is usually something I do when on the exercise bike, or when my eyes are too tired for reading, but Nirvana in Fire was too monumental an experience to be categorized with the usual sense of mild entertainment.
Noel Nouvelet is a favorite, but it's difficult to find an arrangement online that has all the polyphonic, and female and male voices blended.
It's difficult to find Chanukka songs that are not the same three, the equivalent of Rudolph and Jingle Bells, but I always come back to Ernst Bloch's gorgeous From Jewish Life.
And here is his beautiful violin piece Nigun. (I wish I could find a real Chanukka night)
And for Christmas I hope this works--a children's choir singing "Pat-a-pan."
And here is Riu Riu Chiu, written by Matteo Flecha, who wrote the Ensalada "La Bomba" that I love so much. This is the Gondwana Chorale.
The only rendition of "Betelemehu" that I could find. (I've heard it livelier, but this is pretty, especially toward the second half)
Some years I take a notion, and this is one of them.
I like the idea of giving fiction as a present, but I’m not embedded enough in the fanfiction community–or, let us be honest, committed or organized enough–to commit to doing Yuletide. Instead, some years I decide it’s time to give a story away for free for Christmas, to whoever wants to read it. Please don’t copy the text, but spread the link far and wide if you want to. This year Mikulas left Teddy Roosevelt in your shoe. Or rather–
The Elf WHo Thought He Was Teddy Roosevelt
|Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux|
Originally posted by starshipcat at That Shall Live in Infamy
Bitter Weeds by Joseph T. Major
"There are bitter weeds in England." The Dunkirk Evacuation was a great deliverance. But some of the soldiers did not make it. If someone had only known . . . A troubled man, a man divided between two nations and several natures, delivered from the continent, pursues a twisted course in a wilderness of mirrors to serve his masters. A woman staging a great pretense that is almost true finds herself in the heart of darkness, seeing the advance of evil. Their relatives and connections each struggle with his or her own burdens as the horrors of war spread. The simple kindness of stopping to give the dead some small dignity begins a wave of change that will wash across the world, in this first volume of a series highlighting the great and the petty, the powerful and the victims, and finding both pain and hope.
No Hint of War by Joseph T. Major
As America is flung into the World War, a troubled man and a secretive woman are brought together across the world, while they and their families find themselves engaged all over the world. Against their struggled, the United States girds itself for war, the United Kingdom and its Empire settle down to meet their fate, and battles take place by sea, air, and land. The great and the small are set on the course to victory, the long struggle that must be won, In this second novel of the series, the story continues with its characters going forward to triumph or disaster.
The Road to the Sea by Joseph T. Major
On the world scale, the Allied powers mass their forces and prepare to confront the Axis on their home grounds.
On the individual scale, the newlyweds try to build a life together while the shattered groom tries to repair his spirit.
The home front sees more stringencies and more pressures while the fighting men and women have to prepare themselves to confront themselves and their foes.
However, some of the plans can have great effects, or great catastrophies, and as ships, planes, and poor bloody infantry slog it out across the world, the pressure of secret knowledge can be too much to bear.
An Irresponsible Gang by Joseph T. Major
It is not the beginning of the end, but the end of the beginning has been accomplished. Allied troops (including our protagonists) have landed on the shores of Normandy, but the Germans are resisting desperately, striking at both the troops and the civilians behind them.
But plots lurk in the depths of the conflict, and when they come together, the war takes a different and bizarre turn, with allegiances shifting, conflict spreading and shrinking, and decisions being made.
Across the world, the armies and navies are massing to crush the Japanese -- but how? Where? Decisions must be made, egos accommodated, and lives put at hazard.
While in between the fighting, domestic politics suddenly is thrown into turmoil and tumult, as counsels are struck down, command is shifted, and new and old forces take the stage.
Much has changed but much remains as our characters seek to survive and to pull themselves along and together in this new twist in the war.
The Ten Just Men by Joseph T. Major
The fighting in Europe is over but the war is not yet done. The allies cannot agree. The defeated must rebuild, faced with the problem of overcoming the last eleven years, of creating a new structure of society, of making some sort of economy.
All the while, the former allies are facing problems inside and out.
In the not very pacific Pacific, the power of the Allies is converging on the last enemy. The price needed to be paid to overcome them may be more than can be paid -- even if wonder weapons provide a final out.
In the midst of this tumult, ordinary people try to pick up and carry on, to bring new life into the world and to reconstruct existing life.
The war is grinding to an end . . . but only the dead have known the end of war.
(And while the US was dealing with the shock of a surprise attack, the USSR was reeling from an invasion. Leningrad, formerly the imperial capital of St. Petersburg, spent the next two and a half years besieged, a time of heroic endurance and horrific suffering.
Leiningrad/St. Petersburg is also a place where, in Russian literary tradition, the boundaries between the material world and the supernatural are apt to grow thin, particularly during the period of light at midnight known as the White Nights. My own story explores the intersection between history and literature).
The Shadow over Leningrad by Leigh Kimmel
In Stalin's Soviet Union, Tikhon Grigoriev lives a precarious life. He knows too much. He's seen too much. A single misstep could destroy him, and if he stumbles, he will take his family down with him. With Leningrad besieged by Nazi armies, the danger has only increased.
He's not a man who wants to come to the notice of those in high places. But when he solved a murder that seemed supernatural, impossible, he attracted the attention of Leningrad's First Party Secretary.
So when a plot of land grows vegetables of unusual size and vigor, and anyone who eats them goes mad, who should be called upon to solve the mystery but Tikhon Grigoriev. However, these secrets could get him far worse than a bullet in the head. For during the White Nights the boundaries between worlds grow thin, and in some of those worlds humanity can have no place.
If you'd like to have your indie or small press publications promoted in upcoming promo posts, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ice cream because son and I went to see Dr. Strange, and we sneaked hot fudge sundaes into the cinema. (Better ice cream and a fraction of the price from what you'd pay at the concession stand) It was a fun movie, though I had to keep my eyes shut first through the medical ick, and then through the vertigo-inducing lo-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-ng fights. But I enjoyed the actual dialogue, and all the actors were terrific. I even liked Cummerbund Bandersnatch, which I hadn't thought I would--he plays such a smug jackwagon in Sherlock that I was only able to tolerate an episode and a half. (MUCH prefer the version with Lucy Liu as Watson.)
On other fronts, my mom turned 84 today. First thing this morning, I called to wish her happy b. and we chatted about memory, and mysteries. (She's hiding from the news by reading about fictional justice, she said.) That's my mom at age twelve up there at the extreme left of the selfie shot.
At yoga this morning a long conversation with several people about, of all things, childhood and Dr. Seuss books. Someone was urging another person to buy them for some grandkids, saying that with Dr. Seuss, you can't possibly go wrong. One person said, well, actually you can--he loathed Dr. Seuss books as a kid. Hated whimsy, but people kept giving him Dr. Seuss books. Another person was aghast, how could anyone hate any Dr. Seuss book? They are so cheerful and safe!
I said, um, no, actually they are not. I dutifully read Cat in the Hat when I was six (it had just come out, and of course I read anything and everything book-shaped) but it made me incredibly anxious. I distinctly remember reading it over several times and racing through the pages to make sure that the kids didn't get beaten for the mess Thing One and Thing Two made. The relief at the last page was physical, and their antics before that were not the least bit funny to me. Once I was sure of the ending, I never touched it again. (Then I thought about what mom said about justice. Weird, how two completely unrelated conversations will do that.)
However, I said to the others talking Seuss, the one I highly recommended for a kid with imagination is On Beyond Zebra. We didn't have that one at our house--my cousin had it. Every time we visited I would go to his bookshelf (he had his own bookshelf!) and reread it, and tried to memorize the letters. The idea of letters beyond Z was unspeakably thrilling, and of course I was off and running with alphabets and languages after that. My other much-reread Dr. Seuss books were The 500 hats of Bartholomew Cubbins and The King's Stilts. Strange, looking back, and thinking how formative they were.
And so the day ends, with maybe possibly rain tomorrow? I'm not getting my hopes too high.
And thus endeth this natter of trivia!
Meanwhile, I've had a grand total of two, count them two, people ask me for recommendations for books for gift giving, for people who read a lot. So I thought I'd toss out a few non fiction books that I've been reading lately, that are keepers on my shelves.
Making Conversation, by Teresa Nielsen Hayden. (Also found here, taking a few more clicks to get))
I love books that work like a chat with interesting people—they write something intriguing, or funny, and I talk out loud to the book.
That’s how I feel about Making Conversation, a title that perfectly fits this absorbing, charming, intriguing, insightful series of riffs. I haven't finished reading it yet (I have it on my nightstand for dipping into before bed) so no more formal review, but even halfway in I love it so much.
Old fandoms! I thought no one else delighted in evidence, sketchy as it is, that fandoms existed all through history--and there's an intriguing throwaway line about Mary Wortley Montagu that sent me scurrying to my bookshelves for a couple of pleasing hours.
Marketing categories as defined by how the story uses the Transnistrian Infundibulator.
"Chaos is Not Your Friend," on the compromise with evil, written in 2004, is eerily apropos today.
This is not only a book for sf and f fans who read widely in the world, but it's a real good one for writers. Publishing--marketing definitions--why books fail--"How did this get published?"--query letter dos and don'ts--there is so much good stuff here, so wittily and gracefully written.
Four of the Three Musketeers: The Marx Brothers on Stage, by Robert S. Bader. If you've ever been curious about how the Marx Brothers evolved into their zany characters (especially if you've read their own books and discovered how their anecdotes don't always rely on the same facts), this book is a must. If you've ever wanted a look at vaudeville, top and bottom, this book is a must. Basically Minnie Marx got her boys into show biz as a way to keep them out of easy crime, which was preferable to the horrors of child labor in the factories. And so they went on the road. The research here is phenomenal--Bader sought out every tiny newspaper in tiny towns on the vaudeville circuits (and off) for reviews and ads about the brothers, plus combing theater records, etc. Really absorbing.
Drive! Henry Ford, George Selden, and the Race to Invent the Auto Age, by Lawrence Goldstone.
This one actually came out a few months ago, but still I recommend it. In an engaging, humor-veined narrative, Goldstone brings to life the men (and the few women) who were involved in the development of the idea of a horseless carriage, its invention, and its manufacture. He structures the story around George Seldon, one of the early American innovators, his patent, and the subsequent nearly-twenty-year lawsuit over the protection of that patent instigated by Henry Ford, moving backwards and forwards in time, and from Europe to North America, in order to build a picture of the invention of the automobile.
It’s apparent from this book that, like the development of artillery, boys have always been fascinated with loud, smelly, dirty, and dangerous. Those early autos were all four, their utility questionable, especially over the rutted, meandering, narrow roads connecting the world 120 years ago. With excellent citations and a satisfying reliance on period newspapers, letters, diaries, and accounts, Goldstone builds his picture, taking time to illustrate for the modern reader how different thinking was at that time, so that we can appreciate the innovation at each step.
For example, you would assume that the development of the road we recognize now as a highway would go hand in hand with the invention of the auto, but not so. Those early cars (including race cars, which took a horrible toll not only on drivers but passengers, spectators, and innocent animals by the score) juddered over disastrous terrain; it wasn’t until a very rich mogul who liked his horseless carriages got angry that his proposed race was turned down by local authorities said, basically, fine, I’ll make my own carriageway and it will be fenced in, and limited just to cars. Some of his impetus was no doubt provided by the many tickets he was given for ignoring the local six mph speed limit, and the law stating that all horses and pedestrians had the right-of-way.
Goldstone takes the time to provide background on the inventors and those who partnered with them in various ways, including the investors, many of them rich and crooked moguls who were basically pirates without the cool ships and swashbuckling clothes. Throughout the narrative he carefully examines, and dismantles, the reinvention of himself that Henry Ford propagated from his earliest days.
It’s a colorful, immensely readable account that shows how we got from there to our familiar cement world here.
The Fleet at Flood Tide:America at Total War in the Pacific 1944-45
This extraordinarily well-written history of the second half of the war in the Pacific begins in 1944. It’s off to a slow start as we get caught up on the details of ships, material, training, and leaders among the Americans, and the background lives of some Japanese, both military and civilian.
The mass of information pays off when we get to Spruance’s fleet encountering the Japanese at last.
I really appreciated the clarity with which Hornfischer describes strategy and tactics on sea, land, and in air, especially the evolving strategic arena concerning aircraft carriers. Admirals themselves weren’t always certain what was going to work, especially in serving basically as moving air bases for an air war.
The air battles are vividly described—exhilaratingly so, capturing the bravado and reckless determination and individualistic humor of the air aces. He draws heavily on reports and memoirs to bring the fight to the individual level before zooming back to show fleet movements, both in air support and in land support when the attack on the islands began.
Equally vivid, and a whole lot more grim was the unflinching description of the yard-by-yard fight for Saipan, made much more horrendous by the Japanese command’s insistence on suicide missions for the honor of the emperor—and on convincing the civilians that Americans would rape all the women and eat their babies. And when the end came, the soldiers used the civilians as shields, and then forced them into mass suicide.
Hornfischer draws on a variety of reports by Japanese from command to civilian, most notably Yoshitsugu Saito of the Imperial Japanese Army, Chuichi Nagumo of the Imperial Japanese Navy, Shizuko Miura, a civilian nurse, and Captain Sakae Oba who held out along with several hundred civilians and military on Saipan until December 1, 1945 when he surrendered. The addition of these people’s stories helped to understand what the Japanese thought during those terrible battles and immediately afterward.
Hornfischer describes the evolution of amphibious operations as well as the invention of newer and more effective weapons, like napalm, who wanted to use them, who didn’t, and why they finally did and where.
Hornfisher is developing a point: the result of what American forces witnessed on those islands—the mass suicides, the many Japanese terms for suicide attacks culminating in the kamikaze attacks on US ships—is that the Japanese high command considered that only total war, to the death, would satisfy their honor.
And so American strategy makers finally came around to the conviction that surrender would only happen if they shocked Japan. The atom bombs would do that—two of them, one after the other, so that the Japanese would believe that America had an arsenal of them.
Hornfischer’s painstaking development of the decision making process behind the atom bomb dropping, and his follow-up about the reactions of those in charge as well as the effect on the Japanese, was sobering in the extreme. Especially considering how relatively blasé people seem to be about mass weapons these days.
Recommended for anyone who wants to read about the war in the Pacific and how and why we could drop A-bombs on civilian cities.
Does anyone receive any actual mail anymore? (I don't count bills.) I sure don't.
I met Rachel Crandall more than twenty years ago, when I first started volunteering at the Listening Ear crisis center in East Lansing, Michigan.
I remember some of the conversations we had as she was coming out, and some of the challenges she talked about. We fell out of touch for a while, as happens sometimes. When we reconnected again years later, I was amazed at the things Rachel had accomplished, including founding the International Transgender Day of Visibility and working with her partner, Susan Crocker, to start what I believe was the first transgender helpline in the country.
Transgender Michigan was founded in 1997, and continues to run one of the only transgender helplines in the country, available 24/7 at 855-345-8464.
We know transgender youth are at a higher risk of depression and suicide, and these coming months and years could be very difficult. Therefore, I’ve enlisted some very generous SF/F friends to put together a fundraiser to help Transgender Michigan continue their important work providing support, education, and advocacy.
24 Auctions in 24 Days
Each day at noon (with the exception of Thanksgiving weekend), I’ll post an auction from one of the people listed below. It could be for autographed books, a manuscript critique, a Tuckerization (where you get to be a minor character in an upcoming book), or something else altogether. Bidding will take place in the comments, one bid at a time.
The following day at noon, I’ll close the bidding and notify the winner. The winner then donates their bid to Transgender Michigan and sends me the receipt, at which point I’ll send your information to the donor so they can hook you up with your winnings.
Transgender Michigan is a 501(c)(3) Michigan nonprofit corporation, which means your donation is tax deductible.
Note: I will wait until 10 minutes after the last bid to close an auction. That will hopefully reduce the impact of last-second sniping.
Bonus Raffle from DAW Books
That’s right, there’s more! My publisher, DAW Books, has agreed to give away:
6 Tad Williams Bundles: each bundle includes one copy of Otherland: City of Golden Shadow (hardcover first edition, first printing) plus 1 Advance Review Copy of The Heart of What Was Lost.
6 DAW December Release Bundles: each bundle includes one copy of all DAW December titles: Dreamweaver, Tempest, Alien Nation, and Jerusalem Fire, plus a bonus ARC (dependent on stock).
Have I mentioned before how amazing my publisher is?
How can you win one of these awesome bundles? That’s easy. At any time between now and the end of the fundraiser, simply donate $5 to Transgender Michigan and email me a copy of the receipt at jchines -at- gmail.com, with the subject line “DAW Raffle Entry.”
Each week, I’ll pick at least one donor to win their choice of either a Tad Williams or a December Release bundle from DAW. (Which means the earlier you enter, the better your chances of winning!)
You can donate more than $5 if you want more than one entry. For example, donating $20 would get you four entries. However, you can only win a maximum of one of each bundle.
This is separate from the individual auctions. Winning an auction does not count as a raffle entry.
Here are the donors for the fundraiser.
- Chuck Wendig
- Alyx Dellamonica
- Sherwood Smith
- Naomi Kritzer
- Stephen Leigh
- Leah Cutter
- Jim C. Hines
- Nicole Kornher-Stace
- Jenna Black
- Tricia Sullivan
- Stephanie Burgis
- Dawn Metcalf
- John Scalzi
- Steven Gould
- Laura J. Mixon
- Lyda Morehouse
- Blaze Ward
- Rachel Searles
- Amanda Downum
- Jessica Reisman
- Stina Leicht
- Leah Bobet
- Pamela Dean
- Seanan McGuire
Yesterday was the International Transgender Day of Remembrance, memorializing those “who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice.” In my mind, that makes today the perfect time to work to make things better.
My thanks to everyone who helped make this happen. Please spread the word about the fundraiser, and about the individual auctions as they go live.
And if you want a hint about tomorrow’s auction? Well…let’s just say the Force will be with you, always.
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
My impetus here was not only to fill my Saturday slot but to maybe discover new music, if anyone is prompted to post theirs!
Whether or not you are interested in this workshop idea, the Worldbuiders fundraiser itself is a worthy cause, doing good work in the world.
It's back to summer here, sigh. I can't be the only one hunkered down, totally ignoring the TV blaring about the election, dumping reams of political kipple straight from the mail box into the recycle bin, and ignoring the constantly ringing phone. I want it over, I want the anxiety over.
I went out on a high note; while in Boston, my hostess and I met up nineweaving to tour part of the Fogg Museum of Art. I was especially delighted to see the impressionists, having over the summer read Mary McAuliffe's When Paris Sizzled; though I'd often looked up bits of art as I read along, it's tough to see detail on screen, and I couldn't always find what I wanted. I was particularly interested to see something by Man Ray. What a name, Man Ray! I suspect an editor of a novel would ask for a more believable name. Anyway, Nine and I traded opinions of brushstroke, color, and what the paintings seemed to reveal about those caught forever in that moment of their lives.
Afterward, chocolate at Burdick's, with a group of poets. The conversation ranged over books, reading, history, art, writing, and I gave an impassioned rec for Nirvana in Fire that probably bored the snot out of everybody. High Tea the next day in the charming town of Wellesley, and then homeward bound, with a stop in Chicago to meet up with Jennifer Stevenson, and a ramble around downtown Chicago as we talked indie marketing and narrative voice and writing things. Good food, chocolate, ends this trip on a great note.