lhskarka: (Wonder Woman)
But I am working on it.

I decided to finish up the sample stuff I had started for that game, and have it ready, just in case the opportunity presented itself to audition with the new company that's taking the license. So that's done. Nothing may come of it, but I will at least have tried.

And in other news, I actually did some of the sewing that I had set aside in my new project-oriented sewing system. Nothing big. But compared to the zero sum creativity of this year, it feels huge.

Am also back on track with some research for a short story I wrote last year that I want to expand into a YA novel.

So I think maybe I needed that day long crying jag.

*Looks into the future. Trudges towards it.*
lhskarka: (Novel)
Posting here, because hey, it's mostly private these days. I can't stop crying today.

Six years ago, my husband acquired a fantastic license to do a role-playing game based in a friend's award winning fictional world. A world that I LOVE. A writer that I really admire, both as an author and a person.

Because he had other projects that he was working on that needed his attention first, my husband asked me to do the research, and write up the world descriptions, i.e. the bulk of the game book. Character and race types, regional descriptions, various in-world organizations. He had a strong concept for it that played exactly to my strengths, involving historical research, in-world knowledge, and strong descriptive writing skills.

That's me. Those are my skills. Supposedly.

I did the reading, made my notes. Slowly. There was nothing to stop me to from writing it all up. But other projects got pushed back, and we weren't going to publish any time soon, so I let the actual writing stall out. I thought about it all the time, but I didn't do it. Except for an embarrassingly tiny amount of sample pages. For six years. Just yesterday, as I posted here about cleaning my office and getting my writing desk cleared up, the FIRST thing I had on my agenda to write was this game. I was feeling excited about it, looking forward to the new year, when I was sure we would finally publish. I was looking forward to finally feeling like I had contributed something to the business. Something well done. Something that would help us financially. Something I had actually, finally created.

Then this morning, as if the universe had felt me thinking about it and decided to squash me like a bug, I got a call from my husband. The author is taking his license back. Because we've had it for six years, and he knows another game designer who is ready to do a game right away. They were even willing to give credit, and pay, for anything I had already done.

Except. Nothing. Sample pages and a book of handwritten notes. That's it. For six years. And now I've lost my chance. It's gone, and I'm the one who wasted it.

I have never felt more like a creative fraud than I do today.
lhskarka: (Responsibility)
If I posted an entire list of everything we need to do by the end of March, I would probably collapse from exhaustion just by reading it. Instead, I think just looking at it a few pieces at a time is the way to go. So, here's how it went this past weekend.

Plans:
Clean current house for viewing by potential tenant.
Do the recyling.
Take stuff we aren't using out of closets & cabinets and bring to new place.
Sweep new basement.
Move the storage shelves & stuff on them out of the garage and into the new basement.
Go through books in garage. Divide in to Keep vs. Sell/Donate/FreeCycle boxes.

Accomplished:
Clean current house for viewing by potential tenant.
Do the recyling.
Take stuff we aren't using out of closets & cabinets and bring to new place.
Sweep new basement.
Move the storage shelves & stuff on them out of the garage and into the new basement.

Go through books in garage. Divide in to Keep vs. Sell/Donate/FreeCycle boxes.

We didn't actually get ALL of the shelves moved out of the garage, but that's largely because we didn't go through the books, so they're still sitting on the shelves.

Plans for after work this week:
Bring over & unpack at least 2 carloads of boxes a day.
Go through books in garage. Divide in to Keep vs. Sell/Donate/FreeCycle boxes. (Then do that.)
Finish moving the garage shelves.

Also, gotta say I'm glad we're moving now (at the end of winter) for another very important reason. If we were doing this in August, all the bugs & spiders that I'm encountering in the garage would be ALIVE. *shudder*
lhskarka: (Books)
Dumb

The Unborn - Why, why oh why, did I watch this? That's 90 minutes of my life that I can't get back. With what has to be one of the most disjointed plots I've seen since Los Nuevos Extraterrestres a.k.a. Pod People on MST3K. Oh, and Gary Oldman. Not that it helped.


Clever

The Child Thief, by Brom. Because Brom re-read the original Peter Pan and got a bit freaked out by this quote;

"The boys on the island vary, of course, in numbers, according as they get killed and so on; and when they seem to be growing up, which is against the rules, Peter thins them out; but at this time there were six of them, counting the twins as two."

So, he wrote a book around the idea. And threw in some Celtic mythology for good measure, but not in an obnoxious way. It was a good read, very much in keeping with the recent trend of modern faery tales, and I enjoyed it. And if you like stories about slightly creepy, bloodthirsty faeries, you probably will, too.
lhskarka: (Books)
Two highly touted OFFICIAL SEQUELS have made the news recently.

Dracula: The Un-Dead is due to be released next October. It was written by Dacre Stoker, a *gasp* genuine descendent of Bram Stoker, and Ian Holt, a Dracula Historian. It largely appears to be Mr. Holt's idea, as the current Mr. Stoker was previously known for being an Olympic Pentathalon coach, and not a writer. But what really got to me was this quote from the article:

"Dacre Stoker delved into his ancestor's handwritten notes on the original Dracula novel to pen his sequel, Dracula: The Un-Dead - the original name for Dracula before an editor changed the title. The novel, out next October, draws on excised characters, existing character back-stories and plot threads that were cut from Stoker's original novel, first published 111 years ago."

Original notes or not, if these threads were cut from the novel, doesn't that indicate that the author discarded them? I thought that was part of the writing process - coming up with a lot of ideas and then streamlining them to create your story. I would actually be far more interested in seeing the notes themselves published in as complete a form as possible. (Unless they have been before, and I've just missed it?) At any rate, I just can't accept that this particular version of a Dracula sequel has any more literary legitimacy than any of the dozens of others that have been penned over the years, even with the Stoker family stamp of approval.


And then, a sequel to "The House at Pooh Corner" is due to be released later this year. An act which seems to be largely driven by money. The new author has plans to deal with an "older Christopher", as Milne "dropped hints in the 1928 book, which followed Winnie the Pooh (1924), that Christopher Robin was growing up." Isn't part of the point of the books that each child reading them gets to decide for themselves what happens as Christopher Robin grows up?

In "The House at Pooh Corner", A.A. Milne wrote this: "Wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the forest, a little boy and his Bear will always be playing." Those seem like pretty telling last words on the subject.


Among many other works, H. Beam Piper wrote and published two novels in his "Little Fuzzy" series before committing suicide in 1964. Some years after his death, other authors (Fuzzy Bones (1981) by William Tuning and Golden Dream: A Fuzzy Odyssey (1982) by Ardath Mayhar) tried to fill in the gaps and "complete" the series, only to be totally contradicted by Piper's own third complete manuscript, which was discovered and published in 1984. In Tuning's case, I don't even think that he wrote a bad book - it's just that he was proven not to have written the book that Piper would have. Which is pretty much my entire point.


There are huge debates in the art world about whether or not paintings and other artworks can ever be "restored" to their original appearance as envisioned by the artist. But how many people have picked up da Vinci's notebooks, or Van Gogh's sketches, or Andy Warhol's scribbles, and claimed that they have now produced new works that should be regarded as the next in a series of paintings, just as the artist intended?

Seems a bit daft, really. Why should it be different for authors?
lhskarka: (Books)
Recently finished reading $20 Per Gallon: How the Inevitable Rise in the Price of Gasoline Will Change Our Lives for the Better by Christopher Steiner.

Here he is, talking about it in a couple of clips.





Mr. Steiner is not an economic expert. (Rather, he is a staff writer for Forbes magazine, with a background in civil engineering and journalism.) And his outlook is very fluffy - or at least the way he writes about it is. One of the problems I had while reading is that he doesn't discuss alternative fuels until the very end of the book, while the earlier chapters detail what he thinks we'll have to give up at each permanent $2.00 rise in the price of gas. He took 2008 data as a model, and extrapolated possible world changes from there. Like the loss of most air travel at $8, and sushi in places where it really doesn't belong at $16. (Boo.)

I'd like to believe that some of the other things he predicts could actually happen, though, like fewer cars on the roads and high speed trains connecting major cities across the U.S. and a return to cleaner and healthier fertilizers for crops. But I think the process will end up being a lot more painful then Mr. Steiner seems to.

In the meantime, I'll be over here, recycling, trying to use less "stuff", and driving a fuel efficient car. Join me?

15 Books

Jun. 25th, 2009 04:11 pm
lhskarka: (Books)
I liked this meme, so I'm snagging it!

Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you've read that will always stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes.

1) D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths by Ingri and Edgar Parin d'Aulaire
2) The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis
3) Looking for Jake by China Mieville (short stories)
4) Deerskin by Robin McKinley
5) The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson
6) Dracula by Bram Stoker
7) Beauty by Robin McKinley
8) Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
9) Fairie Tale by Raymond E. Feist
10) The Stress of Her Regard by Tim Powers
11) Casino Royale by Ian Fleming
12) Sandman by Neil Gaiman Don't try to tell me it isn't a novel.
13) House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
14) The Merlin Trilogy by Mary Stewart Yes, trilogy - there are ONLY 3 books!
15) The Delicate Dependency by Michael Talbot

Angry Now

Feb. 19th, 2009 12:40 pm
lhskarka: (Default)
Story (acquired via [livejournal.com profile] chernobylred) about children's books produced before 1985 now being illegal for resale because of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA), passed by Congress last summer after the panic over lead paint on toys from China.

Apparently, because there are trace elements of lead in the inks used to print some picture books pre-1985, we are now supposed to be concerned about vast numbers of children EATING vast numbers of children's books and getting lead-poisoning.

The New Book Banning

It's funny, but I seem to recall being raised with a great many picture books that were printed before 1985, and both my sister and I are still alive. Hmmmm...

While the law as it stands currently means that used book stores and secondhand shops may be prohibited from selling these books, the American Library Association has determined that until they are told otherwise, it does not apply to library collections, since they are not selling the books, and at least the last time I worked in a children's library, were also fairly active in discouraging people from eating them!!!! (The law will, however, probably play havoc with library book sale donations.)

Somebody really wasn't thinking when they wrote this damned thing. Phooey.

UPDATE: Additional link in the form of a guide to the CPSIA for Small Businesses, Resellers, Crafters and Charities.

Here's hoping that an offical review of the regulations by slightly-less-panicky-morons will help.
lhskarka: (Books)
Today I am indulging in one of my favorite exercise programs - reshelving books. There's bending and stretching and lifting and walking and pushing heavy objects. When I used to do this sort of thing 20 hours a week, I was in much better shape than I am now. I've missed it. Plus, I am a chronic book-truck browser, so if a new book or two hasn't wandered back to my desk with me by the end of the day, I will be very surprised.

I've also come to realize recently that the longer I work in libraries, the less I view books as physical objects, and the more I see them as the ideas they contain.

Which means that the objects themselves can pass through my hands, leave, and come back again when I want them. Instead of being stored in boxes, rarely looked at, and hauled back and forth across the country "just in case" I need them - yes, guilty as charged. Did I mention that I have a bit of a hoarding problem? (Also a long-standing disappointment at the fact that a number of people who have the same interests as I do also seem to constitute a large percentage of the people who steal books from libraries - but that's another story, and can be told another time.) So this is a fairly revolutionary idea for me personally.

My newfound attitude doesn't apply to all my books. Some I can't replace, some have individual sentimental value, and some I just love so much that I'd have to keep them out on permanent loan. Those all need to stay. The rest though, the rest can travel. If I need them again, they'll come back.

Just another reason why I love libraries.

Libraries = freedom from stuff!
lhskarka: (Books)
Ladies of the Bedchamber: The Role of the Royal Mistress by Dennis Friedman

This one covers English Kings and their mistresses, starting with Henry VIII (of course) and ending with Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles.

I lost interest somewhere around Edward VIII, but finished anyway because it's a short book.

Most noteworthy comment I can make is that this is the first book on the topic that I have come across with a Freudian viewpoint. As usual for me, trying to tie anything to Freud seems laughable and makes it difficult for me to take the author seriously. (It also makes me think of Doctor Who - "Are you my mummy?")

Second most noteworthy item is the vitriolic tone the Mr. Friedman takes when discussing Henry VIII. While I know that everyone isn't a fan of Mr. Tudor, I don't think I've read anything before that was so positively dripping with contempt.

It certainly does offer a different perspective on these rather public relationships. I mean, here I thought that Edward VIII renounced the throne at the insistance of Parliment for being a Nazi sympathizer, when actually it seems that he was raised unloved by his mother and was looking for a replacement! Who knew? ;)

Overall anlysis: Amusing perhaps, but not particularly insightful.
lhskarka: (Default)
At [livejournal.com profile] gmskarka's insistance suggestion, I just recently finished reading "The Dark Tower" series.

On the whole, I rather liked them. There are some aspects of the last three books that would probably have upset me more had I been waiting nearly 20 years for them, but I read all of them inside of a month, so the wait was not so long for me.

I really, really appreciate and enjoy King's use of language. I have read that he doesn't think much of his ear for dialogue - even making fun of it in this series where he says that all of his characters sound like they're from Maine, even when they aren't. But I think that King's landscapes are defined by the language of the people that inhabit them. Mid-World and In-World would lack depth and life without phrases like "Thankee-sai" and "You have forgotten the face of your father".

This is also the first time that I have ever felt "the myth of the West" and its pull. Apparently, all that it took was a well-written fantasy series by an East-Coast author inspired by westerns made in Italy to point it out to me. *sigh* I suppose it's that my heroes have NOT always been cowboys.

Growing up in Kansas, and seeing it as it looks now (I mean, have you been to Dodge City?) it is sometimes hard to picture the larger-than life aspects of the area's history. I've always enjoyed Westerns, but I never appreciated the depth of the myth before this series. Perhaps because King tied it in so well with the Arthurian-quest archetype, it carried over the legendary aspects.

And while I understand the reasons that King had to end the series the way he did, I would probably recommend to anyone else reading them to stop at the point where he warns you to stop. You really don't need the denoument to enjoy the rest of the story, and for some people it will probably be better that way.

Extra, not-to-spoiler-y short review for those who ken it. )
lhskarka: (Books)
Below the cut are the top 106 books most often marked as "unread" by LibraryThing's users at the time the first person to post this meme posted it (I have no idea when that was). As usual, bold what you have read, italicize those you started but couldn't finish, and strike through what you couldn't stand. Add an asterisk to those you've read more than once. Underline those on your to-read list.

List this way )

Books!

Dec. 7th, 2006 12:57 pm
lhskarka: (Books)
Finally finished "The Honest Courtesan" by Margaret F. Rosenthal. Whew! I'm kind of embarrased that it took so long for me to read. All I can say in my defense is 1) I've been busy for the last few months, and 2) It's a thesis. So it reads like...a thesis.

The most interesting sections are the (of course) last two, where Ms. Rosenthal examines the way that Franco wrote poetry in her own defense, first during her trial for heresy, and then socially during her two-year exile from Venice. Veronica used the rhetorical styles of Ovid's Heroides and Amores to turn the image of herself as courtesan from deceitful whore to a woman of honorable and honest fidelity by changing his traditional elegiac verse from a positition of male moral superiority to one centered on the lamenting female voice. It may not sound like much by our current standards, but for a woman to have been able to publish such works during the Renaissance, when a majority of women were being steadily pushed farther and farther away from the seats of intellect and discovery they had been privy to during the Middle Ages, it's a pretty big deal. She wasn't even tried for heresy a second time. :)


Also read: "Lost New York" (2000 ed.) by Nathan Silver. This one's research for the novel. It's full of black and white photos of old New York neighborhoods and buildings that no longer exist, with blurbs about where they were, and how they were lost. The coolest/weirdest thing about it for me was looking at photos of street intersections where I have been, and seeing how different they were 100 or 50 or even 10 years ago. And since the book was published in 2000, it was also a bit bizarre to read his passage about the B-25 Bomber that crashed into the Empire State Building in 1945, which finished with this statement: "It takes the work of aliens using special effects, as in the 1996 film 'Independence Day', to guarantee a complete destruction job."...*shudder*
lhskarka: (Books)
Subtitle: The Magic and Religion of the Gypsies

Written by Elwood B. Trigg, Published by Citadel Press (Secaucus, NJ) 1973

The title pretty much explains it all. It provides a glossy overview of a lot of different beliefs held by various groups of gypsy populations from around the world, touching on forms of worship as well as superstitions about death, ghosts, vampires, and both good and bad luck, among other things. I learned a few new (to me) vocabulary words including 'Chovihani'- basically a gypsy shaman, and 'mullo'-which means ghost or vampire, and interestingly I have actually heard used in much the same way that the word 'gwailo' is used by the Chinese to describe Caucasian foreigners. Also, apparently hedgehogs are considered lucky, as well as cute, even though this is a bit hard on the hedgehog population due to the fact that their feet can be carried for luck the same way that a rabbits can. Horses have it easier - you only need their shoes.

It was an interesting read, although it suffers greatly from two things. One, a bothersome tendency to refer to gypsy peoples as "primitives" and talk about them in much the same way I would have expected a Victorian era explorer to write about a tribe of savages that he had discovered in the Congo. The author suffers from the same sort of unconscious cultural superiority that I can just barely tolerate in Victorian travelogues - I find it much harder to accept from someone who was writing in 1973. And two, like most overviews, it's too vague to make me feel as if I know any more about the subject than I did before I read the book. Trigg did not do any sort of in depth study himself, he simply gathered information from the writing and studies of others, which gives the whole thing a high school term paper sort of feeling - lots of book knowledge, not enough actual experience. As the Roma are still around today, and have even had television documentaries made about their culture, I find it sort of difficult to believe that there weren't any available to interview thirty years ago.

Note to author: Dude, leave the campus occasionally!

Hmmm. I really need to find more books that I like, so I can do happier reviews.
lhskarka: (Books)
I just finished reading "I was a Teenage Fairy" (1998) by Francesca Lia Block, a fairly well-known novelist for the YA crowd. It took about two hours. Votes are in - I still don't like her writing style much. She uses third person present-tense, I think in an attempt to draw the reader in and make things seem more immediate, but I just find it annoying after a while.

The story is pretty standard YA fare: Girl(named Barbie) gets pushed into modeling by stage mom who is living through her; girl gets molested by photographer; girl meets hot actor-boy but has problems dating him because of previous molestation.

The thing that makes it different from your typical after-school-special kind of story is that the fairy of the title is real (Barbie calls her a "Mab"), and functions in a sort of Jimminy Cricket conscience role, encouraging Barbie to speak up for herself, learn photography, etc... The Mab is also about the size of Jimminy Cricket, as Block went with "Punk Tinkerbelle" as a model. And a fairy who drinks, cusses and refers to cute human boys as 'biscuits' is pretty amusing.

I also found Barbie's desire to become a photographer, born at the same time that she is being abused by one an interesting viewpoint. She seems to feel more abused by the camera itself than by the person, and therefore the way that she tries to empower herself is by taking on the role of the abuser - the camera.

And that's all I've got to say about that for now. More books later.
lhskarka: (Books)
Mostly here for my reference:

Just finished reading "Imaginary Lands", a collection of short fantasy edited by Robin McKinley

Favorite Story: 'The Old Woman and the Storm' by Patricia A. McKillip

Least favorite: 'Tam Lin' by Joan D. Vinge. It's a basic re-telling of the tale, and I much prefer this one: Tam Lin by Pamela Dean

[livejournal.com profile] everflame, you might find 'Evian Steel" by Jane Yolen interesting, as it deals with Arthurian women and the forging of swords. Pretty cool.

Final Note: Worth reading.
lhskarka: (Books)
Just a fluffy little post about good books.

While I was home sick with the Con Crud so thoughtfully shared by my beloved this past weekend, I finished reading "Lost in a Good Book", the second in the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde. I really like these books, as they are full of clever language, good literary humor and bad puns as well as being quite decent detective fiction. And if you like that sort of thing, you'll probably like them as well.

For Example )

Besides, I have to love any book where the main character regularly converses with the Unitary Authority of Warrington Cat (used to be the Cheshire Cat, but they moved the county boundaries) and gets apprenticed to Miss Havisham.

Enjoy.

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