Archive for December, 2015

Smashwords’ Year End Report (And Happy New Year’s!)

Happy New Year’s Eve, squiders! May you have a fun and safe evening, and may 2016 roll in happily!

Here are Smashwords’ trends for 2015, for those of you who are indie authors or pondering becoming an indie authors. See anything surprising?

As for me, I’m hoping that by the next time you hear from me, this novel is done and off to the editor. See you in 2016!

2015 in review

Hello again, Squiders! I hope the holidays haven’t eaten you, and that the looming new year isn’t making you too anxious.

I’ve got a novel draft due to the editor on Friday, and so I can’t promise anything too exciting this week. So, for today, please enjoy the annual blog report from WordPress, because who doesn’t like stats? I love stats. You’ll probably get my annual book stats post next week. Ah, the new year. Allowing me to post stats all the time and pretend people care.

Anyway! See you Thursday for New Year’s Eve, unless I am freaking out too much about novel due dates. (I’m feeling good about it right now, but you know how these things fluctuate.)

(Also, is it just me, or is this a bit early? We’ve got two days left!)

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,300 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 55 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

No Happily Ever After?

My husband and I finished up watching Wayward Pines last night (Yes, I realize we’re about four months behind, which is actually pretty good for us, television wise). And the series was working toward a conclusion, and working, and working–and then it kind of jumped the shark at the last minute.

And I understand, logically, why they did–to leave themselves open for a possible second season, even though they used up all the source material in the first season–but it still annoyed me.

(And this morning I did some research, before I got too annoyed, to see how the books ended so I wasn’t wildly out of line.)

It just…it almost seems like it’s a trend now. It’s bad enough that we seem to have gotten to this point where everything has to be dark and gritty much of the time, but now nothing can end on a good, or even a hopeful, point.

Sometimes this can be good, but more and more I’m just finding it a little exhausting. I look at the news, and all the terrible things happening around the world, and now I can’t even escape into media because it’s just more of the same.

And I know the argument is that it’s more realistic, that bad things happen and nothing is ever truly good, but can’t we have some hope? Some peace? It’s fiction, so can’t we occasionally bend the rules?

(Ending this here because I am typing outside without gloves and it is freezing and also now snowing, and I regret my decisions in life.)

What do you think, Squiders? Any recs for good, engaging media that is not all dark and “oh noes” all the time?

(And Merry Christmas, for those who celebrate, if I don’t get here on Thursday!)

The Increasingly Muddy Line Between Fantasy and Science Fiction

Have I shown you my speculative fiction pyramid, squiders? Hold on, let me do a quick paint drawing for you.

Speculative Fiction TriangleTada! Behold, the speculative fiction pyramid. Because, back when I was doing the Subgenre Study, I found it increasingly difficult to tell where one genre ends and another begins. Something like Pern looks like fantasy on the outside, but actually takes place on a planet that humans colonized.

The Pern books are admittedly kind of old-school at this point, but it’s certainly not the only example I can provide. The Shannara books (getting new life through the upcoming TV show) have always hinted that it takes place in our world after some disaster at some point in the distant past. And one of my favorite books that I read this year, The Queen of the Tearling, has every high fantasy trope you could want, but makes mention of England and Scotland and some passage made to get to where the story takes place. (And, actually, apparently Amazon has its sequel, The Invasion of the Tearling, which I have sadly not read yet, filed under Science Fiction>Dystopian.)

So while it’s true that most speculative fiction falls somewhere on the speculative fiction triangle (dark fantasy would go between fantasy and horror, say, and science fantasy would go between science fiction and fantasy), it almost feels like a lot of fantasy has pushed off toward the science fiction end.

My own personal theory is that we, as a technical society, like to know how things work, and so magic systems have become more technical and, over time, morphed toward the old “Any sufficiently advanced technology looks like magic” end of things. So maybe a world has magic, but instead of being true magic, it’s just considered magic because the Ancients who came up with the technology are dead and long gone, and the knowledge has been lost through whatever.

…one sec, I have to write down a story idea.

This co-written novel I’m working on right now has some elements of this too. What do you think, Squiders? Elements of our time? Is is really as pervasive as it seems, or do I just keep falling into that particular type of book?

An Unholy Alliance

Sorry, squiders, but I’m going to talk about Star Wars again. And Star Trek. We’ll get back to real content again on Thursday, when we will either talk about the fluidity of fantasy into scifi or antagonists, depending on how I’m feeling at the time.

But for now–Star Wars. Star Trek. AND THE UNHOLY UNION OF BOTH.

Sorry, overly dramatic. I’m going stircrazy. We’ve got at least a foot of snow outside and I’m going to have to try and drive in it soon.

Now, I’m sure you guys know by now that I am a Trekkie, and have been as long as I can remember. As such I occasionally dabble in the fandom community, usually in a “lurk and consume” manner, though I have been known to participate actively when time allows.

So it was from there that I learned that they were releasing the first trailer for the new Trek movie (due some time next year) in front of the new Star Wars movie this weekend.

While many Trekkies also like Star Wars, it might be the first time in history that the entire community raised its head with interest.

On one hand, it makes perfect sense. Star Wars is (arguably) science fiction. Star Trek is also science fiction! (And, in the current iteration, a lot closer to Star Wars than previous iterations have been.) On the other hand–is this allowed? Star Wars and Star Trek in such close proximity? (You can see my feelings on that whole debacle here.)

But then they went and released the Star Trek trailer online yesterday, so now some of the excitement has dissipated. (Trailer is here if you want it.) Unless it is a different (and hopefully better) trailer? Hm. Maybe! Doubtful, but maybe.

Anyway, two days til Star Wars, four days for me. Thoughts on the Trek trailer? Or showing it with Star Wars? Let me know, Squiders.

Library Book Sale Finds: The Grail Tree

It’s that time of month again, Squiders. I’ve dug into the library book sale books from this summer and read another, and now I’ve come to tell you about it.

(One might ask why the library book sale books are still sitting on their own on the floor in front of the book case instead of being put away, but to that I say, uh, look over there!)

The Grail Tree tells me it is the third of the Lovejoy mystery novels. Now, my father is a big fan of British mystery series (Rumpole of the Bailey being his favorite, I believe) and I can remember watching Lovejoy with him when I was much younger, which is why I picked this book up. Nostalgia! Except I don’t really remember anything about the TV show except I think Lovejoy had long, curly hair.

(I have looked it up on Google now, and it’s really more of a mullet, in retrospect. Also I was apparently four when the series premiered.)

Title: The Grail Tree
Author: Jonathan Gash
Genre: Mystery
Publication Year:
1979

Pros: It was short? And the writing pulls you along well.
Cons: Highly confusing at points, main character occasionally is too unlikeable

I’ve never really run across a book before where the phrase “I am obviously not the audience for this” has been so true. This is first person from Lovejoy’s point of view, and Lovejoy comes across as kind of a sexist jerk that doesn’t seem to think well of, well, anyone. As I said, I don’t really remember the TV show too well except for the father/daughter bonding time, but maybe it wasn’t as apparent in the show because television, through the very definition of the media, adds a layer of distance between a viewer and a character which you don’t normally get with a first-person narrative.

(Also, now I have been to Wikipedia, and it says they toned down the lechery and violence, so there you are.)

If you are unfamiliar with Lovejoy in either book or TV form, the character is a rogue-ish, normally down on his luck, antique dealer. He also has an almost supernatural ability to tell if an antique is real or not, or merely a clever forgery. That’ll get you pretty far.

The premise for this particular adventure is that Lovejoy has been contacted by an elderly gentleman claiming to have the Holy Grail, because he wants Lovejoy to look at it and see if it’s the real thing. Whether it is or not, it’s certainly a valuable antique, so of course the poor man is offed before Lovejoy ever actually sees the thing.

I found the story very confusing in places–there’s a lot of female characters, most of whom occasionally dally with Lovejoy in some manner or another, and aside from three or four I found them impossible to remember, and of course there’s no introduction. In other places the book gets so caught up in antiques lingo or other specialty dialect that I just literally could not tell what was going on. And, as I said, Lovejoy is sometimes too much of a jerk for me to sympathize with him at all.

So! Not for me. I shall see if my dad wants the book when I see him next Saturday. If you like mysteries, and you don’t mind a bit of sexism and generally unfriendliness in your main characters, you might like this, but otherwise I’d give this a pass.

The Thrill of Anticipation

I’m not going to lie, Squiders. For the last week or so I’ve had kind of a constant underthought going through my head. And it goes a little something like this:

STARWARSSTARWARSSTARWARSSTARWARSSTARWARSSTARWARSSTARWARS

It crept up on me. When the latest trailer came out and everyone was so excited, I thought it was merely okay. I didn’t bother fighting everyone for opening night/day tickets. And I’m a bit burned, because of the Star Wars prequels and the fact that the last Star Trek movie had some major issues going for it.

But all the same it’s snuck up on me anyway.

Anticipation is a funny thing, isn’t it? It’s a mixture of good and bad. Excitement and anxiety. Something could be amazing–or terrible. Or anywhere in between. And it’s kind of fun, a break from normal life. Sometimes it’s just something on your mind, something coming up to look forward to. Sometimes it’s more of an obsession.

If nothing else, I have some family members who are going to be way easier to shop for this year than usual.

Have anything you’re looking forward to, Squiders? Some big event coming up? Tickets to the Force Awakens? (We’re going on the 19th at lunchtime.)