FF: I Promised

November 4, 2022
Persephone Says “Bring on the Giants.”

Over the past year, I read a couple of books in advanced copies, and I promised I’d tell you when they became available.  This past week saw the release of The Dabare Snake Launcher by Joelle Presby.  I loved this novel.  I can say with equal truth that it is hard SF about the effort to build a space elevator, but also contains elements of magical realism that make the setting more real.  There’s even a smattering of romance.

Juniper Wiles and the Ghost Girls by Charles de Lint is now available for pre-order.  This is his second novel updating the Newford setting, blending it with elements of detective fiction.  The first is Juniper Wiles.  It’s a great way for fans of Newford to find out how their old friends are, but also a gateway book, accessible to those who have never read any other Newford tales.

For those of you unfamiliar with this column, the Friday Fragments lists what I’ve read over the past week.  Most of the time I don’t include details of either short fiction (unless part of a book-length collection) or magazines.  The Fragments are not meant to be a recommendation list.  If you’re interested in a not-at-all-inclusive recommendation list, you can look on my website under Neat Stuff.

Once again, this is not a book review column.  It’s just a list with, maybe, a bit of description or a few opinions tossed in.  And it’s also a great place to tell me what you’re reading. 

Completed:

Murder at the Bar by Ngaio Marsh.  Audiobook.  Yes, I know I’ve read this before, but I needed a good story to keep me doing paperwork.

Jack the Giant-Killer by Charles de Lint.  I have owned a copy for years, but I can’t remember if I ever read this one, so it’s a treat.

Artists in Crime by Ngaio Marsh.  Audiobook.  See above disclaimer.

In Progress:

Drink Down the Moon by Charles de Lint.  Standalone sequel to Jack the Giant Killer.  Mostly new cast of characters.

A Wreath for Rivera by Ngaio Marsh.  Audiobook.  Ditto about disclaimers.

Also:

I re-read my two short stories “A Familiar’s Predicament” and “The Problem with Magic Rings” because I have an idea for a story featuring those characters.

Advertisement

Shop and Help in One

November 3, 2022
Look!!

The holiday gift giving season is coming, and I wanted to alert you all to a way you could both get cool gifts and help out a member of our community, thus this special Thursday post.

As I told you all back in September, my friend MaryAnn Harris, wife of author Charles de Lint, has spent over the last year in the hospital, a victim of a rare tick-borne illness.  If you didn’t see my post, and would like more information, here’s a link.

Yes, Charles now has a Patreon, and a friend set up a GoFundMe.  However, the decision was made to set up an auction because then people could get something special in return for helping them out.  I’ve donated a few pieces of my own, and may add something more later.

That auction is what I was referring to when I mentioned a source of cool gifts.  It’s named for the artists’ commune that is at the center of de Lint’s seminal urban fantasy novel, Moonheart.  Items range from stocking stuffers to some very cool limited editions.

Here’s the official announcement about the auction.

Welcome to the TAMSON HOUSE ARTS FEST, an online auction in support of MaryAnn Harris & Charles de Lint.

The auction is now OPEN!

Please visit galabid.com/harrisdelintrecovery/ to join the festivities.

You’ll find original art, handmade crafts, signed books, your-name-in-a-story, instructional zoom sessions and so much more. And if you’re a de Lint collector you’ll want to pay close attention because there are some truly rare items up for auction with more coming soon.

Check back often — we’ll be adding new items throughout the month (up until November 23rd).

If you have any questions or suggestions, you can reach us at harrisdelintrecovery@gmail.com.

Thank you all for your generous support & for joining us in this month-long celebration of Charles & MaryAnn & the incredible community they’ve built over the years. Thank you for shining on & celebrating Grace. 💙

“Keeping the Grace in this world. Maybe her light’s not as strong as it once was, maybe the world’s gotten darker since the first day, and it’s still getting darker but something’s shining on. In you. In me. Everywhere you look, if you take time to pay attention. So we’ve got two choices. We can let the darkness win, or we can celebrate the Grace and shine her light stronger.” – Charles de Lint, Someplace to Be Flying

Thank you for taking time to look at this special post.

More Mulch

November 2, 2022
Spoor of the Mulch Mole

Last week, we got a call from a local tree service, asking if we could use some mulch.  I’d been reading Bryony and Roses by T. Kingfisher (aka Ursula Vernon), a Beauty and the Beast retelling in which the “Beauty” is a gardener.  I was in the mood for mulch.  And while I did not have a Beast to help with the shoveling, an archeologist is nearly as good.

Ninety or so garden carts later, I will admit, Jim and I are much less in the mood for mulch.  Our back yard will soon be lightly quilted in a variation of shredded, chipped, and sometimes nearly sawdust wood matter, leaves, and in some instances dirt and gravel, probably scraped up from someone’s landscaping.  Hey, it’s free, so you can’t expect it all perfectly shifted and graded.

However, at this moment, much of the yard rather looks as if we’ve been visited by a very large, very strange mole.

I’ve finally caught up on a great deal of the paperwork and other chores I’d let lie fallow while finishing House of Rough Diamonds, the stand-alone sequel to this year’s new releases Library of the Sapphire Wind and Aurora Borealis Bridge.

I have a couple ideas for short stories.  Maybe I’ll see about writing one of those next.

FF: Return of the Shorter Novel

October 28, 2022

One fascinating thing about reading in a genre long enough is watching shifting trends.  I grew up reading shorter SF/F novels, watched the slow evolution toward the doorstop (aka “tree-killer”) novel, and now we’re back again to novels that probably come in at under 100,000 words.  While the opportunity for complexity and subplots are lost, so is a lot of fat and padding.

For those of you unfamiliar with this column, the Friday Fragments lists what I’ve read over the past week.  Most of the time I don’t include details of either short fiction (unless part of a book-length collection) or magazines.  The Fragments are not meant to be a recommendation list.  If you’re interested in a not-at-all-inclusive recommendation list, you can look on my website under Neat Stuff.

Once again, this is not a book review column.  It’s just a list with, maybe, a bit of description or a few opinions tossed in.  And it’s also a great place to tell me what you’re reading. 

Completed:

DreamForge Anvil issue 9.

Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire.  Audiobook.  Novel.  Stand alone in the “Wayward Children” series.  Equines and lies.

Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire.  Audiobook (read by the author).  Novel.  Book Five in the “Wayward Children” series.  Back to the Moors.

Bryony and Roses by T. Kingfisher (aka Ursula Vernon).  Novel.  A retelling of Beauty and the Beast.  Dark Fantasy, rather than horror or fairytale, with a liberal dose of Kingfisher’s humor, which is intelligently ironical, rather than sidesplittingly funny.  Well, except when it is…

Triple Jeopardy by Rex Stout.  Three novelettes.  All quite good.

In Progress:

Murder at the Bar by Ngaio Marsh.  Audiobook.  Yes, I know I’ve read this before, but I needed a good story to keep me doing paperwork.

Jack the Giant-Killer by Charles de Lint.  I have owned a copy for years, but I can’t remember if I ever read this one, so it’s a treat.

Also:

Latest Vogue and latest Archeology.

Frost Warning

October 26, 2022
Last Blooms

Back date: Monday.  Wind is up and rattling the windowpanes.  Frost warning for tonight, so I’ve been darting out to pick and cut.  The flowers are some of our late season zinnias, with a few random marigolds.

We have some green tomatoes to pick, a few peppers, a single eggplant, about three inches long.  I’m always reluctant to pick, because a freeze here might not kill the plant, and we’ve been known to go to mid-November before we get a decisive killing frost.

On the other hand, that wind is cold.  Green tomatoes will sometimes ripen, and even it they don’t, I have a great green tomato cake recipe.  I also have a great green tomato relish recipe, but I don’t think we’ll have enough for that this year.

This summer we experimented with a couple of new varieties of tomato from Native Seed Search: Punta Banda and Texas Wild.  Both were small varieties.  Punta Banda’s largest fruit was maybe golf ball-sized.  Texas Wild were very small, but with a delightful smokey sweet flavor.  They handled our hot summer pretty well, slowing down when we hit 105, but recovering much more quickly than other varieties did when temperatures dropped into the high nineties.

Most of our green tomatoes will come from a volunteer San Marzano I put in as a filler when we had a gap in one of the rows.  This didn’t handle the heat well, but when temperatures dropped to the low nineties, it really took off.  I’m almost reluctant to pick, because if the cold snap passes, these could continue to ripen.

On the other hand, if we do get that freeze…

Update: Tuesday.  Hit 28 last night.  Most of our vegetable plants are gone.  Birdbath froze.  Some of the local plants are still thriving.  Often proximity to a source of radiant heat (like the side of the house), or shelter from the wind (ditto) proved to be a contributing factor.

Y’know,  being a professional writer is hardly the world’s most predictable, profitable, or stable profession, but compared to gardening, it’s practically punch clock regular!

FF: Looks Like Lots

October 21, 2022
Roary Strikes a Pose

This week’s list looks quite long, but it’s less long than it seems as many of the books are very short, and tightly focused.

For those of you unfamiliar with this column, the Friday Fragments lists what I’ve read over the past week.  Most of the time I don’t include details of either short fiction (unless part of a book-length collection) or magazines.  The Fragments are not meant to be a recommendation list.  If you’re interested in a not-at-all-inclusive recommendation list, you can look on my website under Neat Stuff.

Once again, this is not a book review column.  It’s just a list with, maybe, a bit of description or a few opinions tossed in.  And it’s also a great place to tell me what you’re reading. 

Completed:

The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu.  Audiobook. 

Maigret Rents a Room, by Georges Simeon, translated by Richard Brain.  French detective/police procedural from the 1950’s.   A window into another world.

Maigret and the Strangled Stripper by Georges Simeon, translated by Cornelia Schaeffer.  Interesting to note that the orginal title was Maigret au Picratt’s, Picratt’s being the name of the nightclub.  Hard to say which reflects the story better.

Isekai Skies by H.P. Holo.  My gaming group hasn’t been able to meet for weeks, and I needed a gaming fix.  H.P. Holo’s work might not work for a non-gamer, as it assumes a basic familiarity with various tropes, but it really hits the spot for this gamer.  Excellent descriptive detail, vivid characterization, and, best of all, a sense the author is having a great time with her insanely over-the-top setting.

In Progress:

DreamForge Anvil issue 9.

Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire.  Audiobook.  Novella.  Stand alone in the “Wayward Children” series.

Also:

Various articles. 

Quiet

October 19, 2022
Roary Has Quiet Time

About two weeks ago, I printed Jim’s copy of House of Rough Diamonds.  Images of quiet time while he did his read-through danced in my head.  Yeah, I had jobs I’d let lie fallow while I finished the manuscript, proofed it, revised it. But I hadn’t realized just how many, or how time consuming they’d be to catch up on.

Nor did I count on the jobs that would pop up, as if sensing that suddenly I had Free Time! 

Some of these are not at all bad.  A short story I wrote for an anthology many years ago will finally be coming out.  (“Deception on Gryphon” in What Price Victory, in case you wonder.)  However, this has meant reviewing the copy edit, then reviewing the page proofs.

Other pop-up jobs have more to do with my making my living as a writer, which is running a small business.  These need to be done, no matter how much you’d rather be exploring that cool idea for a short story.

Let’s just suffice to say, not only haven’t I caught up, I haven’t had the time I thought I’d have to recharge.  I’d like that.  I really would.  But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my years as a professional writer, it’s “Don’t count on quiet time.”

So, I’m going to go off and do some of that catching up stuff, because that’s as much a part of the job as writing the stories, doing the research, telling the tales.

But telling the tales is a lot more fun!

FF: Something Old, Something New(er)

October 14, 2022
Roary in the Surreal World

A lot of waiting room time this week meant I had more time to read, but not as much time to listen.  Good to be immersing myself into reading more.

For those of you unfamiliar with this column, the Friday Fragments lists what I’ve read over the past week.  Most of the time I don’t include details of either short fiction (unless part of a book-length collection) or magazines.  The Fragments are not meant to be a recommendation list.  If you’re interested in a not-at-all-inclusive recommendation list, you can look on my website under Neat Stuff.

Once again, this is not a book review column.  It’s just a list with, maybe, a bit of description or a few opinions tossed in.  And it’s also a great place to tell me what you’re reading. 

Completed:

Tales of Hoffman, translated by R.J. Hollingdale and others.  Hoffman (1776-1822) is one of those writers often referenced as influential on Fantasy, Horror, and even Mystery fiction.  This translation does a good job of showing his skill at “nesting” stories within stories as the author (who often breaks the fourth wall) delves into the roots of some occurrence.  My favorite was probably “The Choosing of the Bride,” which had a touch of ironic humor.

In Progress:

The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu.  Audiobook.  The opening several chapters were a bit too grimdark for me, but because of recommendations, I forged on.  I’m definitely liking several characters, but am trying to figure out how this can be expanded to four books.  The author keeps adding characters, so maybe that’s how?

Maigret Rents a Room, by Georges Simeon, translated by Richard Brain.  French detective/police procedural from the 1950’s.   A window into another world.

Also:

Current Smithsonian.  Articles on Sam Adams and J.R.R. Tolkien have been of particular interest.

Autumnal Wanderings

October 12, 2022
Maximillian Sunflowers

Thanks to all the kind souls who came out in the rain, dealt with nearly impossible parking, and joined me at Beastly Books this last Saturday for my book event.  I enjoyed the chance to spend time with you all.  A reminder: Beastly Books specializes in autographed books.  They also do mail order.

In addition to an amazing collection of works by the store’s owner, George R.R. Martin, there is an increasing selection of works by other authors.  Consider Beastly Books this holiday season, when you’re stuck on a unique gift for the readers on your list.  And, yes, I signed stock, and so several of my titles will be available, as soon as they can get them on their website.

Rain isn’t really usual here in north-central New Mexico at this time of year.  We often get just enough to annoy the people visiting for Balloon Fiesta, but not enough to shut things down.  Jim and I didn’t have a lot overall, but probably all the little rain showers added up to about eight-tenths of an inch.

Temperatures are now dropping into the low-forties, mid-fifties at night, with daytime highs in the seventies and eighties.  Basically, this is one of the best times of the year.  However, the rain is really ramping up the allergens, so Jim and I are doing a lot of sneezing.

Our garden has slowed way down, but we still have enough to accent our meals.  The arugula, which had gotten very, very spicy during the hottest part of the year, is now mellowing—although the older leaves can pack a real bite.  The rain helped our late planting of radishes to develop, and I have some hope for the languishing carrots.

We have some flowers, too.  Featured in the photo are Maximillian sunflowers.  This plant produces a rhizome, not unlike that of a Jerusalem artichoke.  They tend to handle our hot, dry climate fairly well, as long as they get some extra water at the hottest time of the year.  A bonus is that they tend to start flowering in late summer, early autumn, when many other plants are fading.

It’s a nice time of the year…  Very inspirational.  I think I’ll go see what inspiration may bring!

FF: Loose Ends

October 7, 2022
Mei-Ling Luxuriates

I started a book this week by an author some of whose works I have loved, some of which I have not.  This one fell into the “not.”  It’s an older book, so no need to try and guess…

So, I’m a touch at loose ends, feeling around for what next.

For those of you unfamiliar with this column, the Friday Fragments lists what I’ve read over the past week.  Most of the time I don’t include details of either short fiction (unless part of a book-length collection) or magazines.  The Fragments are not meant to be a recommendation list.  If you’re interested in a not-at-all-inclusive recommendation list, you can look on my website under Neat Stuff.

Once again, this is not a book review column.  It’s just a list with, maybe, a bit of description or a few opinions tossed in.  And it’s also a great place to tell me what you’re reading. 

Completed:

The Lefthanded Booksellers of London by Garth Nix.  Very much enjoyed.

Have Sword Will Travel by Garth Nix and Sean Williams.  Audiobook, relisten.  A tale about preconceptions…  With dragons.  And magic swords.

Convergent Series by Larry Niven.  A collection of short stories, not set in his Known Space.  Some are loosely interconnected.  I enjoyed.

In Progress:

The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu.  Audiobook.  In the early “introduce characters and setting and politics” part.  Thanks to Beverly for reminding me I’d wanted to try this series.

Also:

Sometimes I read deliberately outside my usual range, just to rattle my brain a bit.  This week, I read most of the articles in two issues of a magazine promoting life the Berkshires, which I received as a member of The Author’s Guild.