30 January 2011

Reading is Fundamental

For starters, I finally got around to those last two stories in Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet 22:

"Portfolio" by Mark Rigney. In the continuum of "when I was a boy..." stories from Steven Millhauser and Peter S. Beagle's "Uncle Chaim and Aunt Rifke and the Angel" this one was (thankfully) closer to Beagle. Rigney's & Beagle's stories both involved painting. Hmm. 5 out of 5.

"Dearest Cecily" by Kristine Dikeman. The narrative got me over my initial "Oh god, not another story told in letters!" reaction PDQ! 4 out of 5.

Next up was something that caught my eye in my RSS feed. "Taking Flight" by Ben Tanzer at Metazen. I've introduced you to Ben before. I dug Ben's narrative of what future generations from the late 21st century onward will eventually call "the same old story." 4 out of 5.

The rest are from Karen Joy Fowler's collection What I Didn't See and Other Stories.

"Booth's Ghost." John Wilkes is in it, but he's not the main character. Brilliant. 5 out of 5.

"Last Worders." Nice story with great setting description. The end was a little telegraphed for me, though--maybe not the detail, but the fact of it. 4 out of 5.

"The Dark." Great story but with too many narrative threads that left me unsure which character or situation to really invest in. 4 out of 5.

"Always." This one was more my speed--a character I could sympathize with in a situation, while weird, I could still understand. 5 out of 5.

25 January 2011

"I can STILL hear you saying you would NEVER break the chain"

As I said last time, I've had my head up a project, so this is a day late.  I think I've made up for being sick a couple of weeks ago.  Just gotta keep the chain going, right?  Or at least try to, what with the beginning of the semester at the dayjob.

I've promised that I'd actually go into what it takes for me to put an X through a day.  Well, here it is...

24 January 2011

Reading is Fundamental

I've had my head up my seekrit nonfiction work-in-progress this week, so most of my reading has been devoted to that.  But, I've resolved to make room for the fiction.  I tried to make time for the rest of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet 22, but I ended up two stories shy. 

"Vinegar and Brown Paper" by Becca De La Rosa.  I thought this piece was going to be completely predictable, if quirky, until about halfway through.  I love it whenever a story takes me by surprise.  4 out of 5.

"Self Story" by Carol Emshwiller.  You know why they say writers should never write stories about being a writer?  It's because you won't write one as good as this. 5 out of 5.

"Snowdrops" by Alex Dally MacFarlane.  Very nice wintry fairy tale.  5 out of 5.

"The Honeymoon Suite" by Jodi Lynn Villers. Great flash fiction piece!  5 out of 5.

"To a Child Who Is Still a FAQ" by Miriam Allred.  A touch too experimental for me.  3 out of 5.

I'm sure I'll finish the 'zine this week.  After that, I dunno... maybe some of Ted Chiang's Stories of Your Life and Others and a bit of Karen Joy Fowler's What I Didn't See.

20 January 2011

"Maltz! Jol yIchu'!"

I spent an evening with a Klingon (not Maltz) and a Sagan!  Actor/writer J.G. Hertzler (aka Klingon General Martok on ST:DS9, and Ithaca resident apparently) and author Nick Sagan (The Idlewild trilogy) spoke at a local Science Cabaret presentation.

18 January 2011

"That's the sound of the men working on the chain gang"

Well, thanks to my sick days, the writing chain was broken.  As you can see from last week's progress, I'm a couple of days behind.  I'm off to a good start this week, though.  I've made some major breakthroughs with my seekrit nonfiction project--in fact, that's going to be my main focus this week, and next week as well, more than likely.  I don't want to let the progress I've made with my fiction slide, but one deadline is a month before the other.

I have to say that I'm only recently getting over how ticked I am at missing two days of progress, sickness aside.  But all I can do is keep calm and carry on, right?

17 January 2011

Reading is Fundamental

Unless otherwise indicated, the fiction I read this week came from Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet 22.

"Love Might Be Too Strong a Word" by Charlie Anders.  This is the best alien interspecies love-story I've ever read. Ever. EVER. 5 out of 5.

"Going to France" by Maureen F. McHugh. Great story but I'll be honest--I didn't quite get the end. 4 out of 5.

"Getting Closer" by Steven Millhauser. (THE NEW YORKER, January 3, 2011). Sorry, but there's no way I'll ever buy that any nine year-old is as contemplative as the one in the story.  2.5 out of 5.

"American Dreamers" by Caleb Wilson.  Very intricate character studies.  Just not enough for me narratively.  3 out of 5.

"Mike's Place" by David J. Schwartz.  Nice, tight story.  Has a similar atmosphere to one of my favorites, Keret's "Kneller's Happy Campers."  4 out of 5.

"The Camera & the Octopus" by Jeremie McKnight.  A wonderful grown-up bedtime story.  4 out of 5.

"Escape" by Cara Spindler. I was turned off by the structure of the piece initially, but I was glad I stuck with it.  4 out of 5.

"Away" by William Alexander. Very nice story about an almost-stranger in an almost-strange land.  5 out of 5.

10 January 2011

"I can STILL hear you saying you would NEVER break the chain"

I'm taking productivity advice from Jerry Seinfeld that came to me via Lifehacker, with a few changes.  What he does in order to write every day is to take a monthly wall calendar and mark a big red X on every day he writes. 
"After a few days you'll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You'll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain."

I'm doing the same thing, except I'll be using the calendar at the front of my Working Writer's Daily Planner from Small Beer Press (which can currently be had for $7.95).  I've decided to use my planner as a log, listing 3-4 tasks minimum for each day (which could be anything: a minimum word count, so many pages of MS edits, a particular research goal, submitting a story, whatever) and then marking off the day Seinfeld-style if and when I complete them.. 

And I think I'm going to keep posting this, every Monday, for the rest of the year.  Here's how I did last week.  Tune in next Monday, and we'll see if I did any better.

09 January 2011

Reading Is Fundamental

One disadvantage of my newfound love of reading on my Nook is that I'm unable to accurately reflect my reading progress on goodreads, which does so by page numbers of print editions. No such tracking exists as of now for ebook editions, so I'm going old school and talk about the short stories I read this past week here on the blog.

The fiction I read this week came from one of the back issues of various 'zines I purchased over the holiday, in this case, from Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet 19.

04 January 2011

"...when we made our plans and played the cards the way they fell"

Lest anyone misunderstand my last entry, I wasn't knocking anyone who does make New Year's resolutions.  I wasn't even making a comment on whether or not they were effective or not, for me or for anyone.  I guess it sort of just reflects my view on the holidays and "holiday spirit."

I'm not a Scrooge who goes "Bah, humbug" at Christmas.  I don't complain (too much) about Valentine's Day being a Hallmark Holiday.  And I get warm and fuzzy for Auld Lang Syne.  But basically, I don't try to treat people or things any differently than I should have been treating them all along, no matter what holiday it is.  Basically, I like enjoying those feelings more than once a year.  I might fail at consistently doing right, but I certainly don't start acting like Ghandi after Thanksgiving to people whom I might not give the time of day otherwise.

So as far as New Year's resolutions go, I find that rather than making a list of goals and giving myself arbitrary start and end dates (January 1st to December 31st), only to forget about that list by March, I'd rather do the same planning, executing, (re-)evaluating, rinse-and-repeat that I've been doing all along.

01 January 2011

"We must set brand new goals. We must not lose control."

I spent about five minutes struggling a cool way to blog about the end of 2010, whether by meme or by digging through my year's worth of blog or twitter posts.  But this year, I'm just looking forward.