24 February 2008

Unvarnished Reviews

This past week, I polished off the rest of The Best of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet in between bouts of the plague. In general, I'd say the last part of the collection just burned! Here're the off-the-cuff reviews of the fiction...

James Sallis, "Two Stories" - Two nicely written flash pieces, combined. One really worked for me, the other one not so much. 3 out of 5.

Karen Russell, "Help Wanted" - A great series of interrelated vignettes forming a greater whole of story/commentary. 5 out of 5.

Sarah Micklem, "'Eft' or 'Epic'" - Very clever use of a narrative substitute. 4 out of 5.

John Kessel, "The Red Phone" - A textbook example of a good idea, wrapped around with great storytelling. 4 out of 5.

Deborah Roggie, "The Mushroom Duchess" - Started a bit slow for me, and the focus of the story shifted. Once I got over that, it was a really decent tale. 4 out of 5.

Seana Graham, "The Pirate's True Love" - A quintessential empowerment story! 5 out of 5.

John Brown, "Bright Waters" - A longer piece, but with the most solid storytelling I've read in awhile! 5 out of 5.

Who Needs People, Anyway?

I never got around to seeing Lars and the Real Girl when it was out. I'll have to catch the DVD. I heard whisperings about this documentary, shot in the UK, called Guys and Dolls. Apparently, these folks are the real deal...

You'd think my first inclination would be to laugh my ass off, and that my second would be to pity some of these folks. Somehow, I managed to suspend all of that, at least through the first half of the video.

23 February 2008

Insult to Injury, Part 2

Did I mention the absolutely craptastic haircut I allowed myself to get? That's what I get for being near-exhaustion by the time I got to the barber's. I'm only about 98% over whatever particular Andromeda Strain I've suffered for the past week. That last 2% is a doozy, let me tell you.

Attack of the Rainmen

Hm, I think I've got the makings of a story, here...
Some autistics are known as 'autistic savants' because they develop a genius in one subject, such as mathematics or art. New research shows this syndrome can be induced by tinkering with one protein in the brain which is responsible for building synapses, the brain structures that help neurons talk to each other.

Insult to Injury

Being sick for a week wasn't enough? I have to get a rejection first thing on a Saturday morning, too?

*Sigh* okay, next market...

22 February 2008

Literary, Sort of

You Are a Question Mark

You seek knowledge and insight in every form possible. You love learning. And while you know a lot, you don't act like a know it all. You're open to learning you're wrong.

You ask a lot of questions, collect a lot of data, and always dig deep to find out more. You're naturally curious and inquisitive. You jump to ask a question when the opportunity arises.

Your friends see you as interesting, insightful, and thought provoking. (But they're not always up for the intense inquisitions that you love!)

You excel in: Higher education

You get along best with: The Comma

18 February 2008

Unvarnished Reviews

I gave the stuff I said in this post a few more seconds thought, and decided that without that bit of accountability, I didn't feel compelled to read as much. So rather than doing a simple list here, and a review elsewhere, I'm going to compromise.

And, here we go--a list of what I read last week, with a quick, unvarnished impression about each piece.

All the readings, except where otherwise indicated, are from The Best of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet.

David J. Schwartz, "The Ichthyomancer Writes His Friend With an Account of the Yeti's Birthday Party" - Cool title. Nice mix of the mythical, the magical, and the real. 4 out of 5.

Veronica Schanoes, "Serpents" - This is the second story I've read from the author, the first being "Rats." "Serpents" isn't quite as powerful, but just as beautifully written. 4 out of 5.

David Marusek, "Osama Phone Home" - From the December '07 F&SF. A little something for the mundane sci-fi lovers out there. Some exposition "worthy" of the usual sci-fi, though it probably moved about as quickly as possible. Saw the twist end coming, but from only about a tenth of a mile away. 3.5 out of 5.

Benjamin Rosenbaum & David Ackert, "Stray" - Also from the Dec. '07 F&SF. A historical fantasy, with time and place deftly defined in a single paragraph--that alone was worth the price of admission! A nice steady pace too, despite a couple of jumps in time. The conceit is sort of close to a story I wrote and have been shopping around, but only if you squint your eyes really hard. 5 out of 5.

Douglas Lain, "Music Lessons" - Brilliant concept and brilliant combination of Mr. Rogers and Whitley Streiber. Too alienating (get it?) to read at the end of a work day, though. 3.5 out of 5.

Bring Out Your Dead

My house is officially a plague house. I've now relapsed about three times, making me call off sick from work today.

You know what this means...random blogging!

F&SF has a blog, now.

The things I miss not checking out McSweeney's as much as I used to...
Famous Authors Predict the Winner of Super Bowl XLII
by Shane Ryan
Went to a reading/Q&A by local author Rebecca Barry (website | blog). Didn't pick up her novel Later, at the Bar right then, but it is on my list.

Irish coffee seems to be the best for getting me over whatever strain of typhoid I've got going on right now.

10 February 2008

Perseverance, Revisited

If Gunny wasn't motivating me enough before, this is sure to help...

(Courtesy of the Parody Motivator Generator)

03 February 2008

Tough Love

I haven't posted one of these in awhile, mainly because the last session was the only one in the past three or four where I brought anything. December and January were editing months. I've been focusing on getting stories polished and off my plate before allowing myself to get too far on new ones.

While I didn't bring anything this time around, I think that I did some of my best critiquing of other folks' work this session (and last time, too) if I do say so myself. At least I didn't hear too many dissenting voices. But that's not even the important thing--I say this because there's also a correlating increase in my ability to spot mistakes in my own stories.

The (temporary) downside is that it's slowed my yet-to-be-cemented rewriting process down.

I've got two stories slated to go out this week. A couple of flash things. Fingers crossed.

Writer's Block Procrastination

For three days, I'd been trying to get this section of a story rewritten. For two of those days, I was sick. Still, Gunny brooks no excuses...

The point is that on the morning of day 4, I did in just under forty minutes what I'd been dreading for those three days.

So far, this quote, attributed to comics writer Brian K. Vaughn, bears out in my personal experience...
"Writer's block" is just another word for video games. If you want to be a writer, get writing, you lazy bastards.
Yes, I didn't write for two days and I felt stopped by 3/4 of a page of stuff I didn't like. Yet when I finally sat down--with no more inspiration than I had before, other than the mental image of R. Lee Ermey telling me to get myself squared away--I reworked it to my satisfaction in forty minutes. On the other hand, why does it seem I have to keep learning that lesson, over and over like it's brand new?

January Scorecard

Last year I tried to keep a running tab of submissions, rejections, and pubs. It got to be a pain to update "whenever," so I'm gonna do it monthly for awhile and see how that works out.


What can I say, it's been an editing month. Not happy about the submission rate, but I've got time to bring that up.

EDIT: Sorry I've edited this 100 times, but I've been trying to get the fucking CSS straight.