30 September 2004

Writing: Eep!

I just realized NaNoWriMo is only a month away (registration starts tomorrow), and I still haven't revised last year's novel. I think I said I was going to do that in January . . . I guess I'd better start (erm . . . anyone wanna fly me to Scotland to do location research? I only need to spend a day or two each in Dunvegan and Aberfoyle).

This year, I can't decide if I'll do The Love Talker, the romance novel I once thought would be easy (I mean, I might as well get all the sick-making prose over with at once), or if I want to give Fairy Rings another shot and start it over from scratch. With a different title. And maybe a younger main character. Or maybe I should do something else. I could give Reading the Bones another stab. But then there's still all that research. Or maybe Bunk. But again, there'd be a lot of research to do.

Erm. Would you say I maybe have a few partially developed ideas rolling around? (Next person who says "I have this great idea; how about I tell it to you and you could write it?" dies a long, boring, painful death.) Anyway.

Going to dig out the The Secret Common-Wealth ms now.

27 September 2004

League of Extraordinary Fiction (and not)

Er . . . I really haven't been reading much non-pictorial fiction, have I?

  1. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne. I like Jules Verne. Not a whole lot seems to really happen--not much action, anyway. And there are a lot of numbers and lists of species and other scientific details. And yet. It's just so damn fascinating! And I have a new word to add to my list of favourite words (which include things like eldritch and dirigible): poulpe. Okay, it's a French word, but they used it in the English translation I read. And it sounds cool. Poulpe. Yup.
  2. A Deceptive Clarity by Aaron Elkins. I don't find Elkins' Chris Norgren books (main character=art historian/director of art museum) quite as addictive as the Gideon Oliver books (main character=forensic anthropologist), but they're still pretty good. I think they're more violent in a main-character-beaten-to-a-pulp sense, too. Anway, it was a superquick, fun read, wherein I learned something about art history and forgery.

So now I'm working on Five Weeks in a Balloon, which has the same not-much-action, lots-of-technical-detail components as 20,000 Leagues, but is also really fascinating. The heroes have just tethered their balloon to a tree for their first night over Africa.
Edit: Plus, I finally finished LoEG vol 2, which I'll write about in my next "Seq Art Reading" post.

(Slow) Non-Fiction Reading

  1. Life Along the Silk Road by Susan Whitfield. I think I like the idea of this book better than the book itself. It borrows the structure of The Canterbury Tales to describe what life was like in the region of the Silk Road(s) at the height of its importance. So there's "The Horseman's Tale," "The Courtesan's Tale," and so on. Except it's the tale of each character, rather than a tale told by them (so I guess it's not so Canterbury after all). It's a great way to structure a history book--focus it on each character and what happened in their life. But it slips into events-and-dates history a little too often (unavoidably, perhaps) for easy reading. Whitfield is a Silk Road/Chinese History scholar, and it shows in her careful research. But it also shows in the writing. It isn't bad writing, it just isn't non-scholarly enough for a general audience (except a very determined one). Still, it was worth reading. I learned how very multicultural and dynamic that part of the ancient world was. Cool.

So, for a change my non-fic reading is . . . not very productive. As in I haven't been reading much of it. Next is a book on Shinto, then one on pigeons. Then maybe the bird evolution one I picked up ages ago. No, wait, there's a library book on airships first.

Why Harvest Moon?

Cool moon lore here: Watch Out for the Harvest Moon. (Link via SpaceWeather.)

25 September 2004

Stephen Fry

From The Onion (via Neil Gaiman):
. . . there's a very dismissive British phrase, 'Jack of all trades and master of none.' But who wants to be the master of one trade, rather than having fun doing lots of things?


24 September 2004

Fey page 19

Hunh. I should've known. As soon as I blogged that I was having trouble with PhotoShop, I went back to it and it worked just fine. So here's page 19

Please Stand By

We are experiencing technical difficulties. I'm on re-boot 6 now, and so far all I've managed to accomplish is putting the two halves of today's page of Fey together. I can't even flatten the two layers that the two halves are on. Every time I try to flatten it gets most of the way through and freezes. Sigh. Very large, long-suffering sigh. I'll keep trying, and maybe the page will be up by the end of the day. And it would've been up by noon if . . .

22 September 2004

I Submit

Finally, I am getting back in the habit of submitting writing. At least I hope I am. Yesterday I got five different short stories ready to mail out (though I managed to seal two of the envelopes before inserting SASEs, and had to peel them open again). They go in the mail next time I'm at the post office (which will be soon, as I have eBay things to send out too). Here's what I'll be sending:
  • "Hollow Bones" to Asimov's. It's a bit of a long shot, as they don't publish a lot of fantasy, but the story's already been to F&SF and Realms of Fantasy. It'll go to some online zines next, probably.
  • "Sealskin" to Realms of Fantasy. I think I may have sent an earlier version to them ages ago, but they acquired a new slush reader since, and she sent me nice comments along with the last two rejections, so I thought I'd try this one.
  • "Sharper and More Fragrant" to Black Gate. They primarily publish adventure fantasy. "Sharper" is kind of an adventure. Not my strongest story, though. (Er . . . my favourite is usually the most recent.)
  • "Caught on Thorns (three variations of Sleeping Beauty)" to F&SF. I can never decide if this should be three separate stories one one story subtitled "Three Variations." So far, I've left it as the latter. I might later submit it to Fables as three separate stories.
  • "King of Kings, Master of Camels" to SciFiction. Another longshot, as they aren't really looking for short shorts (they did publish Michael Swanwick's excellent Periodic Table of Science Fiction, though).

I also, just now, sent an email submission of my poem "Steampunk Undersea" to Strange Horizons. SH is one of the better (best, even?) online zines (actually considered a professional market by the SFWA). They published my essay on SF and new media a while back (and even paid me for it). They're having a fund drive right now, so if you're looking for good reading material and have a little extra cash, consider sending some to them (then, if they publish my poem, they'll be able to pay me) (hee hee). Even if you don't have extra cash, you can still read everything on the site for free (including my article).

"Steampunk" is about the only poem I've written that I still rather like many months later. I'm not sure about the title, though. I've kept it because I like the way it sounds. The rhythm and such. Actually the whole poem is about sounds as much as images. I was going to submit it here but I forgot and missed the deadline.

Now I wait. (Well, also I still have to go to the post office.)

Theses Canada Portal

Look at this. There's even a link to a pdf of my thesis. It's sort of faintly embarrassing. Not that I'm not pround of the work I did, just that I've always had this sort of sneaking suspicion that it isn't really very good.

21 September 2004

Writing: Daughters of the Sea King

I finally got to transferring "Daughters of the Sea King" from my hand-written notebook to a word processor file. It's just over 2600 words, which is pretty short, but all it needed.
They hunted.

Women like fleet sharks moved through the sea faster than anything human could. For a time they hunted each for herself; one darted a slender arm past her sister’s face to snatch a small fish; one bit another’s leg, leaving a jagged gash, just to get her out of the way.

When the fish became fewer, the Sea King’s daughters swam for the joy of it, speeding along just under the surface, where stray beams of light escaped from the clouds and dappled the grey skin of their backs and made the deep seaweed-green of their hair seem to glow.

One sister had hair of silver and the grey of her skin was like pearls. She was shunned by the others. She was the most vicious of them.

I think I really like this story, though I'm a little worried that a large part of it won't make any sense to someone who hasn't read "Cobbleshore Knit" or "Sealskin."

Magazine Writing

The article on plagiarism that I wrote for Writing! magazine will be in the November/December issue. Don't look for it on the newsstand, though, it's one of those magazines published for use in schools (I think individuals can subscribe, though).

18 September 2004

Today's Fey Brought to You by the Letter AAARGH

So, page 18, after 4 re-boots and much cursing. (I swear, I'm throwing this machine out the window--at its little laptop friend, too--and buying a Mac at the soonest opportunity. Alas, "soonest" won't be soon enough . . .)

14 September 2004

The League Of Extaordinary Reading

So I finally got back to my reading everything alluded to in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Figuring in the prose section of League volume two, this is going to take a very, very long time. But that's fine with me. With Sir Doyle out of the way (actually, he isn't, as I still have the Professor Challenger material to read, but I have to find it first), I've tackled Jules Verne. I've started with 20, 000 Leagues Under the Sea. I think I'm in love with Jules Verne. I've also got a book called The Jules Verne Companion or some such (haven't got it to hand) that my ex-brother-in-law leant me. I've only got two others of Verne's books, but the library should be able to provide me with more. After that, I'll probably start on H.G. Wells. And speaking of H.G. Wells, here's some cool news.

More New Non-Fiction Reading

I mentioned ghosts and samurai last time. Here they are.

  1. The Sword of No-Sword by John Stevens. This is a biography of a sword-master in the late feudal period of Japan. Erm. Around the end of the Tokugawa shogunate and the Meiji Restoration. It was most interesting for its depiction of how sword-schools work and the way this one man, Tessho, mastered three different arts--the sword, calligraphy, and zen--and made them all one in his personal practice. Er. That was a bad sentence. Anyway, the structure of the book was kind of odd. It jumped all over the place in time so that, although I think I got a pretty good idea of Tessho's character, I never had any idea what happened when in relation to anything else (well, I had ideas, but very little was clear, time-wise). Also, the writing was fairly mediocre. Not bad, just not especially good. This is really a book for people strongly interested in sword arts or Japanese history, and not really something most casual readers would like.
  2. A Gathering of Ghosts by Robin Skelton and Jean Kozocari. I've had this book on my shelf for probably ten years or more, and never got around to reading it. I kept it because I like Robin's writing, but I've been thinning out the shelves (a long, painful process that will continue all year, probably), and thought maybe I might sell it. But I thought I should read it first. It's definitely well-written. Everything Robin wrote was (well, everything he published) (that I've read so far). It's an interesting insider look at ghost exorcism, and I enjoyed it, but it's not a topic that interests me so much anymore. I mean, I still like ghost stories and ghost folklore, but the paranormal investigation of ghosts and its accompanying pseudoscience really isn't something I intend to spend much time on. Still, it was a nice, quick read, and fun, but the book is now listed on eBay. I need to save money if I intend to go to art school next year.
  3. The Samurai Sword: A Handbook by John M. Yumoto. More Samurai. I must confess, one of the reasons I signed this out was because I wasn't sure which way to put on the tsuba ("hand-guard") on my little 1/6 scale Shinsengumi Samurai swords. It's the fancier side close to the hilt, in case you're wondering, which makes sense as it what would be most visible when the sword is sheathed. The other reason I signed it out is because swords are one of my minor obsessions. Anyway, it's not a brilliant piece of writing, but it isn't supposed to be. It's a useful handbook. With cool pictures.

Now I'm working on a library book on the Silk Road (one of my random browsing finds). Then I really will get to some of those science books on my own shelves. Really.

More New Sequential Art Reading

So I continue to zoom on towards 100 graphic novels read this year (and I was worried about making it to 50!) I think this is the year of comics for me. I've been so focused on making Fey that all I seem to want to read is comics or non-fiction research material. Well, that and stuff about Samurai so I can improve my 1/6 scale action figure clothing for selling on eBay. But anyway . . .

  1. Storm Riders volume 2 by Wing Shing Ma. More kung fu and gorgeous art. This is a strange but oddly compelling story. I suspect most people read it for the kung fu, but I need a little more from my comics than pretty men and fight scenes (though pretty men and fight scenes do make a good start).
  2. Maison Ikkoku volume 3 by Rumiko Takahashi. While I'm still very much enjoying this series, I also still don't think it's one I need to own. Maybe I'll change my mind when I've read more of it. Sadly, I think the VIRL is missing some of the volumes from the middle of the series.
  3. Storm Riders volume 3 by Wing Shing Ma.
  4. Storm Riders volume 4 by Wing Shing Ma. This is the last volume I have, and I don't think the library carries it. There's at least one more volume, but this book was published in the 80s, so it might be hard to find.
  5. Ranma 1/2 volume one by Rumiko Takahashi. Finally, after a couple of months on the list at the library, I get this book in my hands. I like it quite a bit--more than Maison Ikkoku, but not quite as much as InuYasha. This could either say something about Takahashi's maturing as an artist and storyteller (I think that's the order they were created/published in), or it could say something about my desire for the fantastic in stories (each has more fantasy that the last). Anyway, time to request volume two.

Now I've got to finish the prose bits of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen volume 2. I keep setting it aside and forgetting to get back to it (this says nothing about the book--it's excellent--just that I've mostly been reading in short chunks instead of long marathons lately). And a whole pile of my recent eBay bargains arrived yesterday, giving me some great western comics (that's western as opposed to eastern, not western with cowboys) to read. Some fantastic, some not. Er . . . probably mostly fantastic.

I Am . . .

You are Schroeder!

Which Peanuts Character are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

(Link via The Johnny Bacardi Show.)

10 September 2004

On Time: Fey Page 17!

What?! Everbody's naked on page 17? Alas, it's true.

09 September 2004

What Was that Oscar Wilde Said?

Here's a great quote by Neil Gaiman (found at Thought Balloons):
'I come from comic books,' said Gaiman. 'If sci-fi is the gutter of literature, comics are the place that the gutter flows into.'
Hee hee. (Oh, and you can read that Wilde quote here.)

07 September 2004

Latest Non-Fiction Reading

Interesting how you can tell exactly what topics are on my mind lately, just by looking at what I'm reading. Most recent obsession: comics.

  1. Anime Explosion by Patrick Drazen. As I said before, when I'm not indulging my obsessions, I read about them. One thing about reading about anime is that you find out about all the puns and jokes that only work in Japanese. Plus you learn about cultural references and other interesting details. And you get to make long lists of must-see movies and tv shows.
  2. How to Sell and Draw Comic Strips by Alan McKenzie. I'm not sure why I keep getting these how-to-draw-comics books from the library. Most of them either aren't very good, or just say exactly the same thing as all the others. Still, I thought this one looked promising. And actually, it was pretty good. The author is English (I think), so he talks about the UK side of the comics business, about which I knew very little. The writing was good, too, and the discussions less superficial than they usually seem to be in this kind of book. Don't think I'll run out and buy it, but there was useful stuff in here, and it was worth the time spent reading it.
  3. How to Draw Manga: Getting Started by K's Art. Er, yes. More how-to-draw. I picked this one because there are lots of things that are done rather differently in manga than in western comics. I was particularly interested in the tools--different paper, different pens, cool coloured markers and screen tones. This book's pretty superficial on just about every topic, but there's enough that I can play around with some interesting techniques. I have to admit, I'm still a little intimidated by screen tones, though.

And that's it. I'm working on ghosts and samurai right now (two different books), with something on the Silk Road up next. Then maybe some of those great science books on my shelf. And more fiction. Most of my fiction reading lately has been the kind with pictures.

Latest Sequential Art Reading

I'm so sleepy I can hardly keep my eyes open, so I've had to admit that I might not get much done today. Stupid early mornings when I can't get back to sleep. So my apologies if my writing isn't very coherent.

  1. Crescent Moon volume 2 by Haruko Iida. I liked volume one so much I picked up volme two the next time I was at the comic shop. Pretty pictures, vampires and werewolves and kitusne and tengu, nice writing for the most part.
  2. Lone Wolf and Cub volume 3 by Kazuo Koike. I had thought there was a subtle underlying ongoing plot thread to this book, that would eventually tie together all the disparate short stories. Now I'm not so sure. I still like it though. Good samurai action.
  3. Cardcaptor Sakura volume 1 by CLAMP. It's very, very interesting to see what got edited out when these books got turned into the anime Cardcaptors for US television, starting with the addition of the plural. And the removal of most of the crushes (probably because at least half of them were same-sex). I enjoyed the anime, but I like the manga much better.
  4. Cardcaptor Sakura volume 2 by CLAMP.
  5. Cardcaptor Sakura volume 3 by CLAMP.
  6. Cardcaptor Sakura volume 4 by CLAMP.
  7. Cardcaptor Sakura volume 5 by CLAMP.
  8. Cardcaptor Sakura volume 6 by CLAMP. This ends the first half of the series (it's published in the US as two mini-series of 6 books each). But I still need to know what happens next. eBay has not been helpful so far in finding the next 6 books. Argh.
  9. Maison Ikkoku volume 2 by Rumiko Takahashi. Hmm. I like this series, but I don't think it's one I need to own.
  10. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind volume 3 by Hayao Miyazaki. I think I've already blathered on enough about how wonderful this book is.
  11. Aria volume 2 by Kozue Amano. This one continues a sweet, gentle series with lovely art. There's not much conflict, but I still really enjoy these stories.
  12. Chobits volume 1 by CLAMP. Yes, more CLAMP! This one has much more overt sexual content (though no actual sex) than Cc Sakura. It seems to be addressing both male and female audiences (something that CLAMP seems to be fairly adept at). There's flashes of skin, cute girls and references to porn for the boys; and cute boys, an interesting storyline and deep characters for the girls (not that the two don't cross over; while I can do without the porn references, I certainly don't mind the skin or the cute girls). So far everything I've read by CLAMP looks like fluff on the outside, but has surprising depth once you get into it (probably only surprising because it looks like fluff).
  13. Chobits volume 2 by CLAMP.
  14. Chobits volume 3 by CLAMP. I think there are five more volumes to this series. As with Cc Sakura, eBay is so far not very helpful.
  15. Storm Riders volume 1 by Wing Shing Ma. Just to prove I read more than manga, here's a Chinese Kung Fu comic. The story is mostly about great rivalries and fantastically powerful swords so far, and the 80s-era translation is sometimes amusing (has anyone ever actually said "hells bells"?). The art is truly beautiful, though, and there are hints that the story is more than just a place to insert lots of kung fu fighting. We shall see.

My comics reading these days is mostly dictated by a) what the library has, and b) what I can get cheap on eBay. More manga and kung fu on the way, but also some US and European books.

04 September 2004

Fey page 16

Urgh. Only slightly late, but here's page 16. I really tried to at least finish inking last night, but I got to the point where I'd start making big mistakes if I kept going, so I stopped. There's a LOT of cross hatching on this page. And fairies. And now I have to go make a home for my new pigeon, which will arrive in an hour or so (I'll tell that story later).

Fey News

Maybe, for the first time ever, Fey might be late. I spent the day in shopping malls in Victoria and waiting for an accident to be cleared off the Malahat, so I'm home later than I intended, and really, really sleepy. And, of course, I never did manage to get a few pages ahead as I'd intended, so the next page isn't ready yet. I'm going to work on it some now, but I'm not sure I'll last until it's done. So there might not be a new page of Fey until tomorrow. Probably there won't be. See, I can't even make any sense.