Monday, November 29, 2010

confirmation of a suspicion

Just as I'd suspected, I have a double standard.

Our latest book finally got a meh review (over at Goodreads) and the person writing it only mentioned Bonnie Dee, as in she seemed to indicate that Bonnie was the only author. This is something I've whined about before and I've always had the urge to say hey! hey! hey! I wrote it too.

I do not have that urge at the moment, but I suppose I ought to say something. Right? I mean if I'm going to get all HEY and barge in when there are good reviews, I should about the other kind, too.


Yeah....especially since the reviewer didn't like the beginning of the book and I think (I have to look, though) that I was responsible for much of that writing.

okay NOW SBD -- funny stuff

So A Civil Campaign, which takes place on a distant planet in the future and Frederica, which is set in Regency England, are more alike than you'd expect. I'd actually pick up and consult the books for this comparison, but
1. I'm lazy
2. I just read them both**
3. the humor is my idea of fun, so I haven't forgotten those bits of the stories. Even though I'd stumble if someone asked me to sum up the Bujold book, because it was jammed with subplots, I did not forget that dinner scene. Nosirree.

The plots, eh, in the end they're both all about marriage. Granted the plot of Civil Campaign is more convoluted and has more characters. But there's love and courtship and the humorous scene that I'm thinking of -- Miles's disastrous dinner party--reminded me of the Lufra the Barcelona Collie scene. The way the people dealt with the physical funny bits was what mattered most.

Yup, the humor in both books is physical. A jumping dog vs. some jumping bugs and a great many offended people. But it's the characters' reactions that make us laugh and the fact that these incidents make perfect sense given the set of people (or animals) that are integral to the story.

That's when that sort of body humor doesn't entirely work for me -- when it doesn't come out of the characters or plot, it just comes out of the blue. Slapstick humor, a man falling on a banana peel, can be sort of funny. But that stuff can be masterful and wonderful when you know how that banana peel got there and when you know what the man's response is, and/or the people watching him fall respond. That's what both authors do so beautifully. The slightly sly or ironic responses of characters. Nothing too obvious, usually. . .yessssssss, so pretty.

** I love them both. I'd read Frederica years ago and this was an audio book. The one thing I was disappointed by on my reread --> how often Frederica calls Alverstoke "odious" Heyer's heroines spend a great deal of time berating her heroes. It's old even when they are gurgling with laughter about it. I hadn't noticed that tendency until I reread the Reluctant Widow.

SBD later but first, the tooth

I'll get around to SBD but first, I have a dilemma. I asked Mike what I should do and he said "I dunno. ask the facebook world."

Eh. Well. It's less bizarro than those people asking if they should have a baby or not. . .

My question: Do I save a tooth or yank it out?

Here's its dental history. (Warning: ugh. Teeth. UGH) The thing had a cavity, then a bigger cavity. And then a root canal. And now it's acting up again. There's an infection at the very way bottom of the root. So the dentist said, okay it's dental surgery time. They go in via the gum and jaw and do things that I don't want to think about. I said what about just yanking the damn thing? He looked shocked, but he would being a dentist and all. I'm thinking the stupid tooth has had its chances and it keeps acting up. Maybe it's time to say goodbye.

It's a molar sort of a tooth, maybe two or three one in from the last back tooth. That missing tooth look doesn't shock me. There was a time in my life when most of the adults I saw during the week had one or more teeth missing (refugee dental care isn't great, even after they leave the camps) I'd ask the refugees how much they miss those missing teeth, but that seems sort of . . . rude.

So I'll ask any of you. Does life change so very much if there's one space way back there?

I'm trying hard to care about the appearance of my smile, but frankly, I couldn't care less about that part. Except maybe I should. Does it put you off to see grownups with missing teeth?

Okay. This post is going on too long. I'll go pick up the kid from after school activities and get back to the books in another post.

I read two books lately, Frederica by Heyer (a Regency) and A Civil Campaign by Bujold (a Miles Vorkosigan sci-fi sort of a book) and they were a wonderfully good fit. Both Drawing Room fluff.

But later, later. If I'm late fetching the kid, I get a lecture you wouldn't believe. Almost as daunting as the prospect of dental surgery.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

eat more cranberry sauce

Here's a fabulous recipe I found somewhere online:
bag o' cranberries (I used a mix of frozen and fresh)
3 cups raspberries (trader joe's frozen for me)
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup crystallized ginger.

Chop the ginger by hand (the food processor didn't manage it well for me.) then toss it and cranberries into food processor. Grind it up, but not to a pulp. Just enough. Add sugar and then sprinkle in the frozen raspberries (not need to thaw them), stir not too hard so most of the raspberries stay whole.

Let it all sit for a few hours. Eat. Oh, boy. YUM.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A lament

O car, why do you require a new transmission? O dog, why do you need these visits to the vet? O children, what is this clamoring for new shoes? And, O WHY, do you want those presents next month?

Alas, powerball ticket why are you so worthless?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Kate Ponders Willow and Bristol on Facebook

I'm not going to think about this story I'm writing. I'm going to cruise around. . . and WOW, would you look at that? Straight from Lamebook, a dumb back and forth between Willow and some other people -- and then.... howdy, Bristol.

My first response: five minutes of my life, gone, reading idiocy.

The focus of the MSM article I read is the faggot and gay stuff. The fact that there was gay and faggot calling in that thread isn't even slightly shocking to me. Here in fancypants liberal enclave CT the middle schoolers still throw those words around easily. They're being trained, but the words are still there.

What took me aback was how the Palin Jrs went snarling grizzly bear so fast. Aren't they used to that kind of trash talking by now? And come to think of it, the "hated the show" remark is hardly calling their mom a whore. Haven't the handlers taught them how to ignore bad press?

Then I got smug. I happen to know my kids were raised better'n that. A few years ago my seventh grader had to listen to a neighbor kid trash talk me (long, dumb story) on the school bus and he just hunkered down and pretended not to hear. Seemed like a good response to me and not just because he didn't want to get the snot beaten out of him. There's some dignity to not mixing it up with people like that. Stay out of the mud.

Furthermore, if any of my kids did go after someone on Face book, any one of the boys, even the 13-year-old would be more creative than that, not to mention use your and you're correctly.

My final thought -- before I started wondering what to make for dinner -- thank god there was no internet when I was sixteen. Bad enough for some of us noisy out-there adults. Add immaturity to the mix and yow. Ugly.

I wonder if there are going to be repercussions behind the scenes. I'd consider that kind of idiocy worthy of a stern lecture. Maybe even a few days banished from facebook.

It has to be worse for the Palins because, after all, that family makes its money on the members' images. No matter that they publicly cast the kids' facebook ranting nonsense as a "baby grizzly defending her mom" Privately, they must be doing some yelling. Because how else did those kids learn to be so grizzly? hey?

And for dinner? Um. Okay.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

work stuff

I'm working at Borders (hi, Linda! hi, Helder! hi, Guy whose name I've forgotten--whoops) and I'm listening to Pandora as I write. The music was movie themed stuff and I notice that when I work to all that orchestrated splendor, my writing is always more fascinating and heroic....or so it feels as I thump out the words. Wait, it's not the writing that gets all glitterific. The characters transform into more than people.

That uplifting effect is obvious in the movies themselves. What an unfair advantage, having audio to pump up your audience's response. Pfah.

Anyway, I moved over to jazz and my characters were suddenly laid back and uninterested in the conversation. Too cool for school. Back to something neutral, maybe New Age. I don't want superheroes and I don't want schlubs. (I'll take Plain Old Interesting People for a thousand, Alex.)

Friday, November 12, 2010

a quick break

I LOVE BOOKS> LOVE THEM, love them, love them. I love stories and collections of dry facts and poems and analysis (sometimes) and fluff and even that bio textbook that's been sitting on our dining room table since the beginning of time. I want to read them all---every single one. As long as there isn't a test at the end and as long as I don't have to retain the actual content anywhere in my mind, I'm there, baby.

Do It Yourself

A few years back I realized the problem with having no religion is that I don't have rituals. I needed my own Day of the Dead. Jarhzeit candles. Post the names and losses on the back of the church bulletin. Bow my head over some sort of altar. Some formal grieving.

The point of that realization is that I had to make one, do something, or I'd never shake off the autumnal blues. Once I figured that out, well, it was almost as good as actually having the ritual.

But I've never actually gotten around to evolving a ceremony. Bake a cake and each bite is a goodbye to something? Stand in front of a mirror and read aloud? I get the point of group rituals. The more people taking part, the less you feel like a silly person (though I must say the instances of grace I've felt were when I was alone).

I think going into a field and looking at dead grass is the best I'll manage. Not bad, but not particularly lovely -- unless you count the field itself. That's pretty good. My religion isn't going to be the source of great art or even consolation. And because it's just me, not even my family, you can forget the sense of a community, which is a real and serious downside. On the other hand, you don't have to wear pantyhose to take part.

Monday, November 08, 2010

SBD tough guy edition

I'm reluctant to post because it'll push our NEW BOOK down. For some reason, book releases and my books out there have become more exciting again. I wish to cradle the precioussssss excitement of hey! look! People! Look! A book! I helped write it! A BOOK!

But tradition is important too, and it's Monday. SBD, bitches.

I read a book -- or rather, I listened to one. It was my very first Lee Child Reacher book. Number five in the series, but I wasn't lost, which is great. I do like Reacher and I've decided he can get away with being a laconic killing machine because he doesn't get all angsty. The introspection is about as much as you'd expect from any normal sort of a person. So his life is basically like any0ne else's except he's nothing like anyone else.

When he beats a guy up, that guy stays DOWN. On the FLOOR, nearly dead. No gloating on Reacher's part because beating the shit out of people is what he does. You got a problem with that? Not his problem.

Finally a character who doesn't lie awake worrying about all the bad guys he's put down. He's fine with who he is. The way he wanders without roots works for me. For instance his justification for buying new clothes rather than washing the old is one of the greatest things I've read in weeks. Hey, he says to himself, thirty bucks every few days is better than paying for a washing machine and dryer and a house and taxes.

I think I like his "so what?" attitude because I'd just finished listening to a standard cereal killer book and man, I'm getting tired of the anonymous killer's over-the-top POV in those books. There's always scenes that show how much he lurrrrrrves doing the killing and later on we learn how it all started when X parent did Y to him. BTDT

The loving description of the deaths is like porn. Those passages make me think whoa mama, this is skanky beyond any menage I've read. Of course the hero is better, stronger, faster etc, and the serial guy bites it in the end, so it's all okay morally. But still. The killing is vivid and I don't mean entirely yucky vivid either.

The serial man is always good at his MO too. I guess that's to make the killer a bigger threat and scarier, but then he's made intriguing, too. Just once I'd like to read about an incompetent overweight smelly serial killer who screws up the job.

Back to my man, Reacher. There were a couple of things that annoyed me about the book. The phrase "Reacher [or someone else] said nothing." was repeated a gazillion times and only a couple of times did I think all those "Reacher said nothing"s add up effectively to fit the scene of someone blabbing and him staying mum. Otherwise it felt like a "rosy fingers of dawn" moment, inserting a place-holder phrase that doesn't add much.

There was the lines about how "they'd be more likely to win the lottery than meet another car on that road" used twice. Once was more than enough. Aaand I'd guessed the bad guy almost at once. AND some of the language was simplistic and clunky rather than simplistic and elegant. But that's not really a lot of complaining on my part. It looks like I'm whining so I figure I should point out those are nit picks.

The way he kept asking the kid "are you ok?" make me laugh out loud. I immediately signed up for the next book in the series. (It's from the library, of course.) I have to wait and I don't wanna.

Wait. Hey. Of course, it just occurred to me that I read these after a long Miles Vorkosigan glom (yay for more Miles! I have to actually BUY the next few books which is a wrench, but I'm doing it) so it would have to be better than great to impress me. God, I love those Miles books. Thanks, JMC for recommending them.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

happy release day to us!

The Nobleman and The Spy is now available at Loose Id. This is Bonnie's announcement to her yahoo fan group**:

Summer and I are really enjoying writing these historicals. [ed's note: This is true. Co-writing with Bonnie is more fun than a St Patrick's Day party in a Boston bar.] Hope you like them too.

They once faced each other on a battlefield. Now soldier-turned-spy Jonathan Reese must keep watch over the man he's never forgotten. A close encounter reveals Karl von Binder, the count's son, also recalls the day he spared Jonathan's life. Sparks fly between the former enemies and Jonathan begins to lose perspective on his mission. He knows he must maintain distance because the heat he encounters in Karl's touch stirs him far too deeply for his own good. He can't keep away--especially when he suspects someone is trying to kill the nobleman.

The spy becomes a protector as Jonathan guards the man he's begun to care for. Together the men try to puzzle out who would benefit from Karl's death—and how much they're willing to trust each other when a torrid sexual fling threatens to become an affair of the heart.

**yes, I'm a member.

Monday, November 01, 2010

SBD London is the Best City In America

A fun book. The various conflicts seemed weak-ish (which is surprising, since they're built into the plot) the goals not there (that was the point, actually) but I liked it. The voice and, to a certain extent the situation, reminded me of a fluffier Ann Tyler. The people are richer and less neurotic.

The first person narrator didn't annoy me, even when Emmy (that narrator) seemed annoyed with herself. Though she and her brother, Josh, might have been caught in high school worthy dramas, the view was usually fairly interesting. We watch them grow up a bit, become less passive.

The initial situation is Emmy walks out on her fiance and then stays in Narragansett, where they'd been staying the night. She stalls out and drifts along. I wished there was more about the community of fishermen and their wives--that sounded more interesting than Scarsdale where the action takes place. But part of the point of the book is that she doesn't understand those people and apparently isn't capable of it at that point in her life. She has to go back to her roots, Scarsdale (!) to figure stuff out. Sort of. Figure it out, I mean. Mostly she finally gets that it's time to move on and she sees a train and jumps it (not literally, okay? It's not that kind of a book).

There's a 16 year old in story that seemed way more open to other people and friendlier to adult strangers than most 16 year olds I know---certainly more mature than most of the other characters in the book. She's the one person I didn't quite believe. And then there's Josh's Other Woman who's also too perfect. We're supposed to love both of the women he's involved with, but I'm not convinced we see enough of them to be as in love as Emmy and her brother or maybe the two women are too perfect.

I appreciated the fact that Josh and Emmy love each other and their parents and come from a secure, happy family (they don't seem to get that's why they're allowed to screw up their lives and still remain basically secure). It's a nice change. I do sort of wish there hadn't been happiness waiting for them that they can fall into, rather than work for, but hey, that's fine. This is the sort of book I'd like to read when I'm feeling like the universe is too harsh. It's not pure escapist fluff fun of a romance, but it's cheerier than a bunch of books like it.

Here's the basic point: I enjoyed the bejeebus out of the author's voice and will actively hunt for her other books.

So. That's my SBD. Now I have to figure out why my phone is broken. This real life thing is annoying.