And…October continues with loads o’ special content.
You might remember J. Kathleen Cheney from several reviews on this blog, and a podcast over at Unreliable Narrators. Recently, she has decided to begin self-publishing on her own. She made an interesting decision to mostly self-publish, and I believe as a reader it’s paying off.
I’ve been lucky enough to receive two of Cheney’s recent publications. Whatever Else explores the boundaries of trust in a relationship. It is lyrical and beautiful rendered, typical of Cheney’s romantic prose.
The revelation for me was Cheney’s interconnected series of short stories collected in The Dragon’s Child. An interesting mix of Russian and Chinese culture, the story is different in mood and tone from anything I’ve read of Cheney’s yet, but it is still very good. I would recommend it if you would like your fantasy to be a bit more off the beaten path.
One of the benefits of writing novellas is that the writer can create faster, and Cheney’s fans must be pleased with more available stories. I of course look forward to future novels, but encourage you to visit her website to check out her new offerings.
I was going to write a high-powered article about integrity and how much other people mattered in the science fiction community and your career, and then I realized I was 51, I had been working on my novel and a couple of scripts, and I was about out of steam.
So, instead of being witty, let me just point you, in vaguely twitter like fashion, to some guidelines that I have occasionally swerved from, much to my chagrin, but overall have served me pretty well as I try to take care of myself while interacting with other genre folk. I come from a background where people had pretty much convinced me that I had no worth beyond my accomplishments. I am not a psychologist, nor do I play one on television, but this plan of self-preservation concocted with my counselor, helps me do the occasional sanity check.
1. If you find yourself talking to your husband, and saying a phrase like, “He’s okay, except he–“, be grateful if you have a husband who reminds you that if you have to add a but, probably that person is not okay.
2. Everyone deserves another chance. But not necessarily a chance after that one. And probably not a third chance. And if they get a fourth chance, you might take a look at that and your own mental health. Because at some point, it’s called enabling.
3. If something doesn’t feel right in your gut, listen to it.
4. No one is more important than you. This is not meant in an egotistical sense. It is meant in a self-care, self-preservation sense. If someone tries to suggest otherwise to you, please look at 2 and 3.
5. Popularity is for junior high. It is not the sole measure upon which you should seek out relationships in publishing. No, really. No one can really make or break your career. Everyone gets a different set of opportunities.
6. Someone might not like you, for whatever reason. You might not like someone, for whatever reason. Move along. Nothing to see, then.
7. Be careful and discreet. Limit the circle of people you need to confide in. The world is shrinking. As Marko Kloos says, “Don’t get caught with your ass hanging out.”
8. Don’t make everything about your book. As Jim Hines says, “Don’t be that guy.”
9. If someone harasses or bullies you, you’re probably not the only one that person has bothered. If the offense is severe, talk until someone in authority listens to you. If not, well, number 4 and maybe number 7.
10. Social graces are important, kids. Be nice. It costs you nothing to be nice.
These careful reminders have been brought to you by someone watching recent events in science fiction as a public service announcement.
Better yet, get off line. You have better things to do. Go write your book. Me? I’m gonna pick up the aforementioned husband. Because that’s the way I role.
Usually, I only do this every other week, but the Halloween at Unreliable Narrators has been hot and heavy this month. Here’s this week’s batch.
I didn’t come across Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens until later in my life, I liked to read more Dickens than the average teen, but this was not a book I ran across until I saw the film that featured Derek Jacobi in the 1990s. Then I went and hunted down the book. The BBC recently did an adaption of the book that was more accurate, with excellent leads.
There are so many ways in which I identify with Amy Dorrit that I was bound to pick her as a character I felt was alive. I could also write a similar post about Arthur Clennam, the male lead in the book, as I grow older, but Amy’s particular circumstances, while not an exact mirror of my own, bore enough similarities that I was riveted by her.
Amy grew up in a debtor’s prison with an extremely dysfunctional family, one so rich that it had no idea how to be poor. Amy was born in the Marshallsea Prison and took care of them all, until, through the ouevres of a large Dickensian support cast, the family fortune was reacquired. Then Amy becomes an embarrassment to them all. Of course, in true Dickensian fashion, Amy is almost saintly as she takes care of her family, but there are these glimpses underneath of anger, exasperation, and confusion as she deals with a family who suddenly sees her many virtues as flaws. Unrequited love echoes through the novel as well, and Amy is made more interesting by the complex emotions she feels for the hero of the novel that she cannot realize, at first because she is in the lowest class, and then in the highest.
I would love to talk about Little Dorrit deep into the night with anyone. Such a good protrayal of some of the issues of its time is worth my time. That said, there are flaws. There’s some deeply Dickensian…coincidence that dates the novel, so you want to watch out.
Full disclosure: Octavia and Lucia Klaereon are the mirror universe versions of Fanny and Amy Dorrit. The best work you read influences your writing.
Next up: Taichi Keaton
George is doing Halloween movies this month, so it’s a longer list. We have our latest podcast at the top, our first group Halloween movie watch, and George’s reviews. Also my review of the comic Animosity.
Happy October, everyone! This week has been fraught with peril. Okay, not really fraught, mind, but I had a sick day and a thing that lasted for about four days, and I am beginning to have trouble with my eyes from working all day with the computer, and then working a great deal at night on the computer. Mostly, I blame my cell phone, which has tiny characters, and upon which I will be spending LESS time.
Interesting trivia fact about me. I have brain damage. When I was young, my left eye developed the wrong focal point. Back in the 70s, we didn’t prevent this from happening by putting the pirate patch over the weaker eye until it straightened itself out. So I have one good, full time eye that does all the work, and one part time eye, which does what it damn well feels like. The freeloader. Both eyes are pretty and look healthy, but my right eye is really feeling the strain of an office career AND a writer career. Add in the stress of focus shift as we age, and it’s not too hard to understand why my eyes hurt.
Liberal amounts of eye drops aside, I’ve been doing some research. Every year in the spring, my vision insurance allows me basic new lenses. This year I will be looking into blue light reduction lenses. Meanwhile, I’m dimming the lights, the computer screens, and trying to spend less time on computers, and the time I do spend with bigger print. I am going to try to more or less abandon my cellphone back to once a day checks. Because ouch.
But here’s why you are here today. Let’s talk about Enola Holmes from the Enola Holmes mysteries by Nancy Springers. Many of you may not have read about Enola, because she is a middle-grade character. Her books are delightful. The basic story of Enola is that she is Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes’ little sister. Lest that turn you off as too derivative, let me assure you that your middle grade child (or you) will find her genuine and sincere. There are also many puzzles and codes in the books to maintain the air of mystery.
Enola runs away from home early in the series, due to a very peculiar circumstance, in order to save herself from the fate of young Victorian women. She has been raised by an unconventional mother and decides she would be better to strike off on her own after her mother leaves her. No points for Mom, mind, but it is the catalyst for the story. Enola proves as successful as her brothers at deduction and daring-do, but she does not fall into many of the adventure cliches. She disguises herself as an adult, but does not decide to masquerade as a boy. She hides behind many disguises and invents people to legitimize the businesses she runs. Of course, as the books progress, we discover that she hasn’t fooled as many people as she thinks she has, but she develops a loyal cadre of friends, and in the end proves herself.
Like many books with living characters, Enola narrates her own story, so we see the insides of her, her doubts and feelings about her situation. She is very genuine and multi-faceted. The books are short, and I would recommend you read the whole series if you can, but the first and the last are good bookends to capture the breadth of the character. So, go read them.
Next up in a couple of weeks: Little Dorrit