Dog Days of Summer

This was a busy week. My writer’s existence was quite at odds with my day job existence. For one of my jobs, we had a major update that was going to go through on our system At noon today. So I had to get about six days worth of work done in about four and a half days. I managed to finish up with about an hour to spare, so I had a free afternoon. I thought I might find a nice shady spot and spend some time writing on my laptop. I went outside, and immediately said to myself, “No, not happening.” We were well into 90+ degree weather today, and my muse was apparently burned to a crisp on the pavement.

Instead, I opted to find a quiet, air-conditioned environment to spend some quality writing time. Writing time, quality or not, has lately been scarce in my life. Summer always seems to throw a bunch at me at once. But I won’t complain. I know that I am lucky to have steady work. It’s work that I enjoy, to boot. And if there are a couple of weeks here and there where writing time is scarce, then I will make do with what time I do have. and today I was able to get in about an hour and a half before I had to punch in for job number two.

Although I haven’t had much time to write, I am still trying to maintain some level of creativity and entertainment in my life. I spent the majority of the last rainy weekend reading, writing, and binge-watching Stranger Things on Netflix. I think I may have a new favorite show. I may even do a review in a couple of weeks. I definitely need to sit down and watch it again before I attempt that, though.

My reading list has been woefully neglected since my vacation. I finished reading A Game of Thrones, which I enjoyed quite a bit.I then learned, while looking at my recommendations, that Cherie Priest’s Chapelwood the sequel to Maplecroft: The Borden Dispatches  has come out. I loved that story, so I will be purchasing and reading the new book as soon as I can. But I think I may need to reread the first book, just so that I can be fully prepared.

And, of course, I’m back into my writing. After hitting a few walls, realizing that a few of my plotlines just do not work, I am finally in a place where things are back on track. Dette and the crew of the Morning Star are back on their adventurous, peril-filled track, A long-dead Sci-Fi story is back, reshaped, and less exposition-angsty, and I’m working on an outline for another story. I must be inspired, because I abhor outlines. I generally find it too difficult to stick to the outline once I begin writing. My characters do not like to listen once I’ve begun the writing process. It is a battle to not let them completely take over the story.  Of course, there is always the chance that the exact same thing will happen with this story. I am the worst at reining my characters in. But that is ok. they usually do a better job at advancing the plot than I do, anyway.

 

 

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So Many Books, So Little Time

I just returned from a week-long trip to Maine on Sunday. After weeks of 80+ degrees, it was nice to pass the time in the woods by a lake where, at best, the temperature barely broke 65 degrees. It was heaven!  I was even able to get a little writing done. I would have gotten more done, but I made the massive mistake of bringing my Kindle.

I feel bad for her. I’ve downloaded who knows how many hundreds of books and short stories, yet I rarely have time to sit down and do any significant amount of reading. But I decided I would make my way through my “novels I’ve been dying to read, but due to my short attention span, will probably never get to” list.

The first order of business was finishing The Scarlet Letter. It was a bet I made with myself over a year ago. The book, to me at least, is tedious. But I finally made it through. After that, I decided to treat myself with something I’ve wanted to read. After years of waiting, and watching some of the T.V. series, I cracked open (figuratively) the Song of Ice and Fire series. As of This afternoon during my lunch break I am a two-thirds of the way through A Game of Thrones. I was worried, because my last attempt to read epic fantasy was The Wheel of Time novels. That did not go so well. I am pleased to report that I am eagerly anticipating finishing the first book by next week, and shortly thereafter beginning book 2. Alright, GRRM, bring it on, I can take it.  By the way, for the fantasy fans, have you read these books? If so, what are your thoughts?

On the writing front, both of my major projects are humming along…slowly (I know, huge shock, right?). I’ve also been working on couple of short story ideas when I am having trouble, creatively. They are two Sci-Fi shorts, and are wonderful for getting the creative juices flowing. Whether they will ever see the light of day, or be expanded upon, I cannot say, but they let me put some of my crazier ideas down, get them out of my system, so my projects don’t get too silly.

I’ve been playing around a bit with some of the settings in Scrivener, which is my writing platform of choice, and I think I may have it customized nearly to where I like it. While I love a lot of its features, I miss some of the other features I had with my previous writing software, WriteitNow. I have the newest version of WriteitNow (WriteitNow5) in the shopping cart, and have been contemplating making the purchase, just to see what the new version offers, and if it is worth the switch back. I may do a compare/contrast post in the future, should I decide to make the purchase. For those of you that use either/both pieces of software, what are your thoughts?

It has been a long first day back to work, but I figured that while I still had a little energy, I’d put a post up. It has been a little while, and I miss updating the blog. I have another update planned in the next couple of days, so check back soon.

Book Review: Murder Out of the Blue

Once I was an avid reader. There was a time when I could sit on a rainy day and read for hours. Life gets in the way, however, and the last couple of years has seen me unable to spend more than a few minutes reading or writing. Between a massive move, to having up my education, and looking for work, I was busy. But now things seem to have evened out, and I am starting to find stretches of time where I can read and write. This is helping to relieve much of the tension that accumulates throughout the day. With the increased reading, I made a promise to myself: write a review.

As a writer, I know that reviews, no matter how much we may disagree with some them, ultimately do help is to become better writers. Seeing the world you’ve created through your reader’s eyes can help you to see what works for your readers,as well as what needs to be fixed or better explained.
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Last night I finished reading Murder Out of the Blue, by Steve Turnbull. The rave reviews I’d been reading made me curious, so I decided to give it a read.

Last night I finished reading Murder Out of the Blue, by Steve Turnbull. The rave reviews I’d been reading made me curious, so I decided to give it a read.

Last night I finished reading Murder Out of the Blue, by Steve Turnbull. The rave reviews I’d been reading made me curious, so I decided to give it a read. I was happy to learn that the story was deserving of every bit of praise it has received.

Let’s start with the setting. A Steampunk setting, which I love. But instead of Victorian England, we are given a peek into a Victorian era British-occupied India.the change of pace, although only glimpsed through the windows of an airship, is an exciting change of pace. Through this locale, we are given a glimpse into the mindset of those that lived under the rule of the monarchy in the colonies

The main technology referenced is the Faraday device.while the concept was unfamiliar, the author did a wonderful job explaining its purpose without  making it sound like a user’s manual.

The main Character, Maliha Anderson is an interesting character, that Mr. Turnbull walks a very fine line in developing. Miss Anderson is a private character, with a mysterious and troubling past. Being biracial, in a time when anyone not born of two white parents was, at best, treated as a second-class citizen, allows Maliha a surprising amount of freedom to move between both groups – as to both groups, she is an outsider,never truly belonging on either side.

Her reserved character could have made Maliha come across as unsympathetic, but Mr. Turnbull did an excellent job of showing us her vulnerability. All this poor young woman wants is to be left at peace and return home. Of course, as this is a mystery, it won’t be quite that simple.

Without giving away the details if the plot, there were several twists and turns to the story. Some of them were truly surprising. In a short work, Mr. Turnbull had me guessing up until the reveal (I admit I did guess the identity of the culprit at one point, but quickly decided that it couldn’t possibly be them!)

All in all, I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed this story. If I had one complaint, it would be that the story was too short. I will be reading the rest of the books in the series, so that I can revisit this interesting place and time.

Review: Maplecroft the Borden dispatches

Today I thought I’d try my hand at a review. As a near constant reader, I tear through books pretty quickly. The downside is that I don’t always give myself the opportunity to leave a review for the author. As a writer myself, I know how frustrating it can be to not receive a review on your work.  I’m hoping that this blog can help me to improve on that.  So my first review on this site is going to be for Maplecroft: The Borden Dispatches by Cherie Priest.

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Ok, so I’m going to preface this review with an apology. I love to read, however, my reading addiction has resulted in a to be read list that is miles long. Due to the sheer size of my reading list, a number of books have yet to be touched. Up until recently, this book was on that list. This book ended up on my to be read list for two very important reasons: first, Cherie Priest is an awesome writer; second I find the history of the Borden case to be fascinating. So to combine the two elements, I was going to end up either elated, or highly disappointed.

Luckily I was elated. Cherie Priest has been able to capture the location and time of the crimes, mix in some Lovecraftian elements, and create a dark and foreboding atmosphere.  I may face some backlash for saying this, but i was pleasantly surprised to learn that Ms. Priest is better at the lovecraftian elements than the master himself.

The people of Fall River are under attack by a mysterious force. Some are drawn to the sea, watching and listening. Those affected begin to change. We witness this change through the eyes of several characters. First and foremost, we see through the eyes of Lizzie Borden herself. We see that she did use the axe to end the lives of her father and stepmother. But we also learn why.

The story is made up of first person accounts from Lizzie, her sister Emma, and the town doctor. Added into this are a number of ties to the works of Lovecraft – including Miskatonic University.

The sense of dread permeates the pages of this story. The residents of Fall River are becoming aware that something is not quite right in their town, but there is a sense of futility to solving the strange mystery at the heart of the terrifying transformations.

If you like a horror story with strong female leads, Maplecroft is an excellent choice.