Better than You Since 1980

Dominating the Undead for Fun and Profit

[sticky post]"I've been chosen... by the shiny metal hand in the sky" (Pitch Wars mentee bio)
word warrior
So apparently it's a thing to write a mentee bio for Pitch Wars. Uh.

... friends, momentarily excuse this diversion into things you already know.

Hi, I'm Lise.

This is me with my plush chicken, Oksana. Tim Powers told me that a writer must choose a spirit animal, so this is her.

I'm in my 30s and live in Central Massachusetts. I'm married to my soulmate and have no kids (by choice) but three cats. I've been writing fiction--mostly fantasy--since I was about twelve. I attended Vassar College, where I studiously avoided majoring in anything close to English or creative writing, choosing cognitive science instead. Recently, I attended Viable Paradise, an SFF writing workshop on Martha's Vineyard, which renewed my interest in writing as a career.

For Pitch Wars, I submitted Gods and Fathers, my 93,000 word adult fantasy in an Indian-inspired setting, which was also my VP workshop piece. It's just your average tale of a god-touched prince and his abducted adopted daughter, and what happens when her birth family--and a certain god--conspire to come between them. It also has bookish apes made sentient by divine word-magic, prostitutes turned priestesses, and a couple of love stories with same. But you already know this!

My inspirations for this in particular were Zelazny's superb book Lord of Light, coupled with the original 1968 Planet of the Apes. Also looking at a lot of pictures of David Bowie as the Goblin King. Because reasons.

My day job is as a front-end web developer, which has very little to do with writing, but which is a ton of fun, too.

When I'm not writing or working, I enjoy LARPing (more of the index card than foam sword variety, although I do both), games of all sorts, knitting, embroidery, and costume history/construction.

And I read, naturally. I read a lot of fantasy, a dash of SF and horror, history, Victoriana, poetry, and novels of manners. Currently I'd name some of my favorite authors and books as:

  • Steve Brust -- specifically his Dragaera stuff. I even wrote a larp in his world.

  • Tim Powers

  • Kage Baker, who was taken from the SFF community far too young

  • Scott Lynch and his elf hair

  • Lois McMaster Bujold's fantasy (I've read some Miles, too, and liked it, but fantasy is really more my bailiwick

  • Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

  • Christopher Priest's The Prestige

  • Nora Jemisin's Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, to which Gods & Fathers has been favorably compared!

  • Leigh Bardugo's Grisha trilogy

  • H.P. Lovecraft in general, and his Dream Cycle in specific, for all that I understand how deeply problematic some of his works are.

  • Lord Dunsany, too, while we're talking about dream-like

  • I've recently binged on Wodehouse, and I would love to turn a phrase like Plum did.

  • I need to read more Dumas, but I love The Three Musketeers, and have seen nearly every movie version ever made. I like the character of Milady de Winter so much I'm writing a novel which is basically fantasy vindication of her.

  • I apparently have a thing for poets who went to my alma mater, because I love me some Edna St. Vincent Millay and Mary Oliver.

There's more, but it's time for...

Random facts!

  1. I have a predilection for getting stuck in bathrooms. Definitely the most dramatic time was when I got stuck in the second floor bathroom of a philosopher I was house-sitting for. I ended up climbing out onto the garage and jumping off, then convincing his neighbor to help me break back into his house. Runner-up would be when I got stuck in an airplane lavatory and the flight attendant had to pry the door open with nail file.

  2. I know a stupid amount about the lore of the Elder Scrolls games. If you need to know what was happening in mainland Morrowind at the end of the First Era, or the names of Divayth Fyr's clones/daughters, or what the Khajiit call Sheogorath, I'm your girl.

  3. I own a plush moon-beast named Disher. Also TWO plush Cthulhus, a plush guar, a plush Pikmin, a plush slime, and a plush bantha. I think it's pretty clear what this says about me.

  4. Smell is my favorite sense. Also my least favorite, at times.

  5. I lived in France for a year. While I was there I drank the abomination which is Stella Artois with grenadine syrup. I also ate paté and gherkin sandwiches, which are exactly seventeen times more delicious than they sound.

  6. Seventeen is my lucky number. It might be a Dragaera thing.

So, uh, pick me? I have a lot of stories to tell, and I'm willing to work hard to tell them.

Or, you know. Go back to the mentee blog hop.

Weird dreams lately; Shadows this weekend
word warrior
- I was visiting Mexico with an ever-changing group of people. Staying in a shack filled with wasp's nests. Participating in some Candomblé ritual (I know it's not Mexican, but apparently my subconscious doesn't), which went very trippily for me, unlocking a latent magical gift. A weird creature shaped like an alligator, but more spiny, chasing me up rickety wooden stairs.

- What seemed to be the historical recounting of an expedition into a cave/mines where some genius decided that "bad air" from outside the cave was dangerous. They capped the mouth of the cave and everyone started to die of suffocation. It was hot and stifling and people were eating their peas and taking showers and celebrating a birthday (there were full living quarters in these caves, apparently!), all with a cult-like denial that people around them were dying.

- Something about how natbudin unlocked the secret of time travel via git.

- Last night my dreams seemed to mostly revolve around romancing witticaster. Um.

Anyway! This weekend I am heading into the woods for Shadows of Amun game 5 (NPCing, of course). I was looking forward to it, but have to say, I'm a little trepidatious having learned that I basically have no free slots this whole weekend. (I suspect this is in part due to the overlap with Cottington Woods--I know Matt and bess are heading off to that Saturday afternoon). Some of that is with my face characters, which should be fun, but tiring. Some of that is crunching, which should also be fun but tiring, but in an entirely different way.

I'm sure I won't regret it, because I never do, but I worry about being tired and grumpy.

On the up side, I went to Savers this week to get a few more accessories for Maria's costume, and found some really neat shoes that match her dalmatica, as well as some trashy costume jewelry I took apart and put back together to approximate Byzantine jewelry. So she'll at least look slightly more regal than she did last time... at least as much as I can manage with this ugly mug.

My 10 Most Influential Books
word warrior
The "Ten Books that Have Been Most Influential for You" meme is going around Facebook, so I decided I'd port it here to LJ, so that I can talk about them a little bit more.

This is a hard list to compile, and there must, by necessity, be many runners-up. I've based it not necessarily on "books I like the best," but rather books of which I retain particularly vivid memories, or books that have affected my writing in some way.

1. Collected Poems, Edna St. Vincent Millay. I received the volume itself when I was in high school, but I was already a Millay fangirl at that point, and had memorized several poems. I have dog-eared this copy and written my own little paean to Millay in the front. She would approve, I think--as "The Poet and His Book" says, "Read me, margin me with scrawling/Do not let me die."

2. Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy, Tad Williams. One of the first adult fantasy series I remember reading, although not my first Tad Williams (that would be Tailchaser's Song, which has to be a runner up, alas). I had... a bit of a worship of this series going on, as I wrote about here, second item. It had that beautiful but oh-so-90s cover art by Michael Whelan, and I remember, even before I reached the last volume, To Green Angel Tower, I would take it down from my shelf, admire the cover art, smell the pages, read through the detailed glossaries, etc. Really, this series formed the platonic ideal of a fantasy series for me--which is to say, it should have complex world-building that you need a glossary to get through.

3. Eyes of the Dragon, Stephen King. I'm not sure if I would classify this as adult fantasy or not? I seem to recall King wrote it for his daughter, but it's also pretty adult in tone. I remember my mother reading it, and telling my dad and I about the fantastic plot involving napkins and a dollhouse, and then going on to read it myself. I remember being convinced I had an imaginary disease mentioned in the book.

4. Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny. I first read this soon after graduating, in 2003 or 2004. I have a vivid memory of sitting in North Station, coming back from a job interview, reading this book. I think this is most influential in terms of Gods & Fathers, which I began writing not long after. As such, I went back and re-read it this past year, and found that experience rewarding, too.

5. Go Dog Go, P.D. Eastman. I'm not kidding. I don't think this is my first "first reader" book, and I may have gotten it when I was older than the intended age. I think my copy was secondhand, too. What I found influential about it was the pictures that rewarded close examination, which told a deeper story than the (very basic) text itself. I know it influenced my "thinking around," the stories I told myself as I walked around in circles, which eventually turned into my writing.

I was sad to learn that the edition you can find reprinted these days excludes both the "do you like my hat?" exchange as well as one of my favorite pictures from the book--the one with all the dogs in, under, and around the bed at night. That I remember this, years after this book vanished from my life, is telling.

6. More Adventures of Samurai Cat, Mark E. Rogers. I've talked before about how influential I found this book; how it affected me at a time of life that was already liminal. It's not great prose and the art is ultra-violent, but it was humorous and appealing to my ghoulish pre-teen self, and the characters lived a second life in my imagination.

7. Five Hundred Years After, Steven Brust. I was hard pressed to choose between this and The Phoenix Guards, but FHYA ultimately has more e'Kierons being e'Kierons in delightful ways. This is influential in that every time I re-read it, I discover something new; also, obviously, it inspired me to write my Dragaera larp.

Ironically, I encountered this book years before I ever read it--I remember seeing it on the bookmobile when I was around thirteen, which would have been right when it came out. I borrowed it and tried to read it, because at the time fantasy was thin on the ground on the bookmobile. Understandably, that was just about impossible for a fidgety teen that hadn't read the previous book nor any of the Vlad novels. (I wouldn't read The Book of Jhereg, the omnibus of the first three novels, until my senior year of college).

8. Hellsing (manga), by Kouta Hirano. It's not genius, but it's a vampire tale with an interesting spin which became something magical through the power of fandom. (True geekomancy, that). It inspired me to write the first fanfic I ever finished, and from there, it encouraged me back to original writing, after the hiatus of college, and inarguably had an influence on that first project, Mode of Employ.

9. I suppose, as I'm a writer of fantasy, I have to mention The Lord of the Rings, even though I didn't read it until after college. (I read The Hobbit as a kid, but could never get into the trilogy itself). Due to reading it so late in life, I realized how much EVERY fantasy trope depends on this--hell, even the notion of a fantasy trilogy. Also, many things in Nethack made a lot more sense after reading it.

10. The Fiction, H.P. Lovecraft. I was almost done my HPL read-through when I acquired this volume, but it's the best representative I have of his works as a whole. Lovecraft is a study in "liking problematic things," but his Dream Cycle is particularly affecting, with its lush imagery and its poignant truths.

Honorable mentions go to Kage Baker's The Anvil of the World (and related books in the same world), the Harry Potter series (it did influence me to write a larp!), The Three Musketeers (perhaps this should have gone higher on the list, given Reasons), and maaaaany more.

Prison Architect: a review after one late night
word warrior
I made possibly a poor life choice yesterday. I purchased the Humble Indie Bundle 12, a pack of indie games purchased as part of a pay-what-you-want model. It had at least three games that were on my Steam wishlist, so it seemed like a good deal.

(I paid a ton of HabitRPG gold for this reward, so I suppose you can consider that my apology for what I'm about to write)

And then I spent the evening playing Prison Architect.

Which is kind of like a simulation game for terrible people. Which I am, naturally.

The introduction/tutorial is... weird. It throws you right into the game, without even a menu; suddenly you're answering a call from the CEO of the prison. (Prisons have CEOs? I guess private ones do...) The introduction manages to somehow teach you astonishingly little about the game, while also being full of cartoon sex and violence. At the same time (!), it tells this poignant story about a this death row inmate you're building an execution chamber for.

The whole time I'm building this execution chamber while listening to this story of inmate, I kept thinking... "Am I being punked? Should I architect it such that this guy escapes? Will I lose if I let this guy get executed? I mean, this is an indie game, it could totally do that."

(I played Frog Fractions and The Stanley Parable recently, so perhaps I went in expecting to be trolled by the game).

But no, it remains a game for terrible people. I was actually worried they were going to show me this guy getting electrocuted, but thankfully, they did not. Knowing the developers are British, this fascination with the death penalty and a distinctly American prison system is... something.

Anyway! After that unsettling introduction, the rest of the game is mostly a sandbox, which is the sort of game I love. I started building my first prison with very little guidance. Perhaps it's not surprising that I then lost most of my prisoners to, oh, running away, or riots, because no one ever told me I should build a fence, or hire guards. Maybe obvious? But there are lots of dumb things about AI behaviors, so I thought that maybe there was a magical-mystical fence around this plot of land, if I thought about it that much at all. I was also too busy trying to figure out how to build a canteen and kitchen and what kind of flooring to put in the warden's office. The prisoners might be escaping, but at least the warden had his parquet.

Also no one mentioned grants. Or that you can control what type of prisoners you intake. Or any number of things I didn't realize until I pulled up some tutorial videos.

I guess my executive summary is: I highly recommend this game, though you kind of have to have teach yourself. Also you should probably have a taste for the macabre.

Opinions wanted: hair color genetics in Southeast Asia
word warrior
I recently had one of the pals I made through Pitch Wars (@VlosAri, another writer of adult fantasy) reading Gods and Fathers. She had things to say about something I'd never thought too much about before--Serevic's hair color.

The Five Provinces, the world this is set in, is mostly peopled by folks we would consider to be Indian or Southeast Asian in appearance. (In fact, the cryptohistory of this world is that it was settled by Southeast Asian space colonists). Serevic is the exception, being blond-haired and blue-eyed. There's a reason for this--his mother was a Venimari, which are the horse nomad native people of the Five Provinces, who much more commonly look like that. It was sort of intended as a subversion of the "and then Aryans swept down and conquered the Dravidians!" over-simplication-to-the-point-of-inaccuracy view of Indian pre-history.

But @VlosAri pointed out to me that a) blond hair is a recessive trait, so it's unlikely he'd be blond unless both his parents were (they weren't), b) there's something kind of ugly about setting up your main character--who is a prince, and god-bothered, to boot--to be the one white-looking dude among brown-skinned folks.

He is supposed to stand out, but it is possible he stands out in too much of a racially-coded way.

Thing is, Serevic's hair is such a feature of his character at this point in time that I'm not sure I could change it if I wanted to. But let's consider some options, shall we?

@VlosAri suggested substituting silver hair, which is a rare genetic variation. My first reaction is that silver hair makes me think of Mary Sues, but she's right about the origin of that--it's sometimes found in Native Americans. (I think of the character of Juan Bautista in Mendoza in Hollywood, who is Chumash).

(And actually now I'm looking for information about silver hair in humans, and can't find a single thing on the interwebs about natural silver hair that isn't caused by age or albinism. Did we like... totally make this up?)

So, um. I'm asking you for alternatives. What would be a rare-ish genetic variation you might find in Southeast Asians (or Central Asians, possibly?) that would make someone stand out? (And still be basically functional. Or at least as functional as you can be with a god in your head). Bonus point if it involves hair, but I could make eyes or skin or other physical features work, too.

Garden path post: a lack of writing, ESO fishing, HabitRPG, The Shadow Throne
word warrior
I've decided to call these posts where I take a wander through my scattered thoughts Garden Path posts. They needed a name.

I did not write yesterday. I say this merely to point out that my life has become such that a day where I do not write is especially notable. It felt weird, but okay. It's not something I plan to make a habit of, though.

What I did instead was, frankly, pretty indulgent, but I don't mind so much. Yesterday was a tough day, emotionally and physically--lack of sleep and still processing my (predicted) Pitch Wars rejection.

So when I came home, instead of being productive, I finished off the Stonefalls Fisherman achievement in ESO, which I've been working on forever* I also made significant progress on Deshaan, where I only need three of the four blue fish and one more green fish.

I've discovered I can read while I fish--all it requires is pressing E occasionally!--so I also was reading Nancy Kress' Beginnings, Middles, and Ends, a book in the Elements of Fiction Writing series which has been on my wishlist forever. I purchased the Kindle edition recently as a HabitRPG reward. It's a great book, and gets me excited about putting words on paper again.

I haven't talked about HabitRPG, have I? I think a lot of you are familiar with it already, since I'm in a guild with a bunch of you, but I'm sure there are some of you who can benefit from this knowledge. Its a web app, built with AngularJS and some awesome pixel art, whose tagline is "your life: the RPG." Its basic goal is to gamify good habits and behaviors. As we all know I am very susceptible to gamification, this works exceptionally well for me.

More about HabitRPGCollapse )

Other stuff... I finally finished The Shadow Throne this weekend, and wrote a review of it here. I should probably put it on Amazon, too, where things like that matter.

* Made currently more difficult by a bug in the last big patch. ZOS corrected the level-based loot table, and in the process made it impossible for anyone over level 6 to receive guts--the most common lake bait--from killing critters. This will apparently be fixed in the next patch. Right now Matt just has a level 3 Khajiit named Mousestalker that he uses to farm guts for me. Given where he finds them most often, I joke he should actually be called Frogpuncher.

To show the fly the way out of the fly bottle
word warrior
I got to talking to Ted O. on Facebook about Wittgenstein, which inspired me to tell a story from a philosophy class at Vassar.

The course was The Limits of Thought, a 300-level seminar about paradox taught by Doug Winblad. We were studying Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, which is basically a series of axioms around which Wittgenstein logically arranges the world. One of his most famous ones is:

7. That which cannot be said must be passed over in silence

Sometimes translated "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent" -- Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

So we were studying this statement, and one day we came into class to discover that some wag had stacked all the chairs in the classroom into one corner of the room. On the board they had written:


August accomplishments
word warrior
This was a pretty productive month for me, although I could not manage to live up to the impossible goals I set for myself.

(This is something I need to work on, this setting impossible goals. They never seem unrealistic to me at the time I make them).

I did write my 7500 words on Lioness. I also made significant progress in the snowflake plotting, getting up to step 6 of 10, the detailed outline, still in progress.

I started to take apart "Powder of Sympathy" in order to submit for the F&SF call, but kept being avoidant about working on it, until it was really too late to do the job I wanted to do. I realize there is some neuroticism/perfectionism here, yes. It's curious how I feel this way about a short story. I'm trying to unpack that.

I did not do any further edits on G&F. Partially, this is because I submitted it to Pitch Wars, where, if I'm chosen by a mentor, I'll be doing further edits anyway. Partially this is because this story is beginning to feel crystallized to me--I'm at the point where I can't see the forest for the trees.

Speaking of Pitch Wars, mentor decisions come out tomorrow. I find it highly unlikely I will be chosen. I only ever had one request for more pages, and then I later heard that mentor was fighting with another mentor over a potential mentee--clearly not me, because I hadn't submitted to mentor #2. Some have tried to reassure me mentors sometimes make their picks based on just the first chapter, but I find that impossible to believe.

Looking at Twitter, at the #PitchWars hashtag, is just depressing me, so I've pretty much stopped that. At this point I think all I can hope for is some useful feedback from the mentors.

But then again, I'm not sure I want to focus any more effort on G&F. Clearly it's not resonating; and at this point I'm editing prose I wrote some six or seven years ago. I need to write the next thing, which is Lioness.

Other stuff, not writing-related, that I did this month:

- Over the long weekend, I restrung the red beads that fell apart at Festival 2012 and have been sitting in a baggy in my basement for two years. This was actually one of my new 101 goals knocked out! Sadly I could not re-use the nifty clasp, a screw and screw-hole carved out of the interior of two beads. The original thread was fused into these beads somehow, and there's no way I could attach the new thread.

- Also this weekend, I finally blocked the Hahanzi shawl--the one I've been working on in character since the first Shadows of Amun event. It's... problematic. I definitely made the binding too tight, and so it won't block into the triangle shape it needs to be. Also it's lopsided, because I fucked up the count somewhere and more stitches ended up on one side than the other. I've tried to stretch it out as much as possible, and so now it's vaguely manta-ray shaped. It may or may not be usable.

- I went to the beach! Specifically Duxbury Public Beach, with laurion and asdr83 and the Jagermonster, thus fulfilling was another of my 101 goals. The waves that day were impressive; they were the sort of waves that knock the air out of you, or knock you to your feet. I ended up with a lot of salt water in my nose and scraped knees, and I ended up retreating to the beach when I got tired of that.

- I had a Groupon to use at Fabric Place Basement, so I bought some materials to start on 16th-century undergarments. I'm using this discontinued Simplicity pattern (and eventually this one, too) which, unlike some costume patterns, actually gives you the right shape for the era. Maybe if I finish these in time, I can wear them to the SCA dance event that cristovau and bess aim to drag me to in November.

- This weekend I made salsa and baba ghanoush, both delicious foods that involve foods I find utterly disgusting in their unadorned forms.

How about you? What did you do on your extended weekend, if you were lucky enough to have one?

Lise's superpowers (Pitch Wars AMA)
word warrior
One of the many games played in the #PitchWars hashtag is the Pitch Wars AMA (ask me anything). Like reddit IAmA, only without the horribleness, I guess. I was tagged by @EGMooreWriter, who has already done this twice already (!)

Because I hate to be That Guy, I've been shyer than I could be about soliciting questions. Who wants to ask questions of me, anyway? I'm no one. But I did find four good questions to answer...

(@AmyKiddAuthor) Let's see... How often would you use a freeze ray if the freeze didn't actually hurt the frozen person and why?

I guess a lot depends on how the freeze ray works. Does the person remember what happened to them? I could see committing crimes with it if it were also a memory-wipe device--just freeze some museum docents and walk away with priceless art. Does it cryogenically freeze you? For how long? Can I use it on myself and wake up in the future and thus achieve immortality? If so, SIGN ME UP.

Other than that, I imagine I'd use to indulge my freeze-dried baby habit.


(@VlosAri) *flails* uhm! What was the inspiration for the last short story you wrote?

I don't write many short stories, to be honest. The last one?... depends on if you count fanfic. I'll give you both answers.

The last short fiction piece I wrote was actually an Elder Scrolls/Morrowind fanfic called "Drinking Greef at the End of the World." The inspiration is mentioned at the end of the story--a conversation with my husband about what happened to Divayth Fyr, a powerful and very old wizard, and his "patient," the last living dwarf, Yagrum Bagarn, when much of Morrowind was covered in lava at the end of the Third Era.

The last original fiction piece I wrote was "Powder of Sympathy," my Thursday story at Viable Paradise, the writing workshop I attended last October. The inspiration was the ridiculous writing prompt I got-- "if Lord Dunsany dipped his quill pen in Aleister Crowley's inkwell."

Because we are all thirteen years old, the room erupted into laughter when Uncle Jim read that prompt. "Wouldn't it be funny if someone used that prompt to write Lord Dunsany/Aleister Crowley slash?" we all said. And I said, huh, they did sort of travel in the same circles, and were alive at the same time. And Aleister Crowley was bi. And I do know a fair amount about Lord Dunsany...

So I did.

Kind of. The log line is kind of "Aleister Crowley tries to sell Lord Dunsany on this gee-whiz magical powder that will allow communication at long distances. Lord Dunsany tries to ransom a story out of him. There are chess metaphors. They have sex." But all the smut is implied.

Right now its status is... limbo. I'm not quite happy with it, and I began fiddling with it to submit to F&SF for the C.C. Finlay call at the beginning of the month. But then I heard about Pitch Wars and thought it was a better fit for me, so I turn my attention to that instead.

(@EGMooreWriter) If making words come out your fingers is your super power, what is your ideal super outfit?

I'd dress like a steampunk heroine--aviator goggles, bustle pants, lacy blouse, and one fabulous hat.

(@hayley_stone) I noticed in your bio, it says you're a LARP-er. Have you found live roleplaying to be helpful with your writing in any way?

I ask myself this question a lot. I think the answer is yes.


- Makes me think a lot about narrative and characterization. Why did I enjoy that role? (Or, why didn't I?) What are satisfying goals? How do I keep this game from ending in the first five minutes?

- Teaches me skills that are useful for telling the type of stories I like. For example, I learned a lot about costume history from making costumes for LARPs. You can learn some about tactical melee fighting as a team being in a line battle in a LARP. Some LARPers I know have learned lockpicking because this skill is required in certain immersive larps.

- Helps me get through those million words of crap faster. I think I probably wrote a novel's worth of text for the last larp I wrote, Cracks in the Orb.

OTOH, I feel like I have learned a lot of the lessons I can from LARP, and it's becoming a smaller part of my life. I don't want to spend another half-year writing a larp, for example, because I could spend that time writing a novel instead.

Three more have slid in just under the wire:

(@Aightball) Who sang it better: Elvis or Cheap Trick (tune is "Don't Be Cruel")

I... actually have not heard the Cheap Trick version of this song. So I guess I'll go with the Elvis. But really, I am mostly not musically-inclined, a fact which shocks and surprises many.

(@raballard) Yes or no?

Why is all the rum gone?

(@EGMooreWriter again) okay I'll bite! Pirate or Samurai?

Well, considering my last response, I'mma go with pirate.

Well, that was fun! I guess I have to tag some other person to answer ridiculous questions. How about the aforementioned @hayley_stone?

WWW 8/27/2014
word warrior
Meme from ishouldbereading.

What are you currently reading?

I'm still reading The Shadow Throne, by my pal Django Wexler. I'm about halfway through, not yet to parts I didn't beta-read. Man, I'd forgotten just how good the storming of the Vendre is. It's seriously some of his best writing. Raes silencing the crowd by holding up the revolution's temporary agreement, Winter correcting the bombastic nobleman about lines of contravallation, Sothe surprising Marcus pissing out a tower window, Raes and Winter's demons meeting... there are a lot of really good character moments, as well as tense action.

Funnily enough, I know Django had a lot of anxiety about this part of the book as he wrote it; it was hard, he told me, stage-managing Raes and Winter and Marcus and their factions into the same place at the same time. But it works!

When I get to commute by myself, I'm listening to Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone, recommended to me by SO MANY PEOPLE. So far, I'm really enjoying it! Gladstone sure can turn a phrase--I love his brief yet telling descriptions, and his beautiful use of metaphor. His characters, too, are alive to me. Tara is a pretty terrible person, and I'm okay with that. I want to pat Abelard on the head.

The Song of Roland. Slow-going, as I flip back and forth between the Old French and the English.

I'm still reading Sworn to Raise by Terah Edun. I am literally halfway through this book--which was billed as a romance novel!--and we have only just met someone who might be the love interest. Also, there have been more irksome continuity errors.

What did you recently finish reading?

The Republic of Thieves, Scott Lynch. It took me forever to finish the audiobook, as I recently started commuting with Matt, and he is uninterested in Locke's adventures (for shame!). But anyway--this was enjoyable, but I don't think it was my favorite of the Gentleman Bastards books.

I've heard other readers had complaints about Sabetha, who you finally meet--that her actions don't match the awesome figure Locke has made her out to be for the past two books. I was okay with that, actually; I felt like the point was that Locke has this ideal of her that he's in love with, which doesn't match the real person. I liked the actual plot--Locke, out of his element, trying to rig an election! I liked the plot of the interludes, of Locke and the other young GBs learning their trade and coming of age. In fact, I almost liked that better than the main plot!

What I didn't like was the wooj reveals at the end. They felt tacked on, like somebody said, "There needs to be more epic in this epic fantasy."
I'm referring to the Lamor Acanthus stuff, and the prophecy about how Locke will die, and pretty much anything having to do with the bondsmagi
. I trust Lynch to know what he's doing with this, and I figure he'll subvert this epicness somewhere in the four more books we can expect in this series, but at the moment, it's just like... this isn't why I read this series. I read this series for the bromance, the chosen family feels, the heists, the snarky banter.

In August I also finished The Sex Lives of the Kings and Queens of England by Nigel Cawthorne, though I was ready to throw it across the room by the end, when it became basically a list of random names various monarchs may or may not have had sex with.

I also finished The First Five Pages, by Noah Lukeman, which is more generally a good guide to self-editing as a novelist.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I want to add a nonfiction book to my rotation. It might be The Weaker Vessel, Antonia Fraser's history of women in the 1600s, because I already own it, and am focusing my nonfiction efforts on "research" for Lioness. Also I need to read some more rigorous history than I have been lately, just to get the taste of the historical equivalent of tabloids out of my mouth.

When I clear one of these fiction books off my list, I suspect I will grab Ruin and Rising. But I've been saying that since it came out.

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