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The best kind of problem

I’ve been relatively quiet online recently, because I’m revising my book and it’s totally absorbing*. Right now, at least; I expect a sticky, scary stretch will come along, but I’m not there yet. I bought Holly Lisle’s How To Revise Your Novel course as a Christmas present for myself, and it’s GREAT. Cuts out a lot of flailing by giving me specifics to work on each week, plus the forums are really helpful. These things make me happy. Definitely recommended, if you’re looking to avoid flailing too.

(*plus, my iphone is still broken so I have to actually, like, get up and turn the computer on in order to be online. My laziness often overrides my social-media urge).

My only problem is that other things make me happy, too – especially books by Stacia Kane. Here I am, deep in revision, proud of my swotty, good-girl focus, and along comes a book I know I’m going to drop everything to read – Sacrificial Magic is out in the UK today! I read each of the first three Downside novels in a day and I’m sure this one will be as gripping, and as good. So that’s at least 24 hours of my writing schedule written off, while I catch up with Chess and Terrible.

Even worse,  Bring Up the Bodies is also out today – the sequel to Wolf Hall that I’ve been itching for since I heard it was being written. If I’d noticed when I pre-ordered that they’d both be released at the same time I would have kept my weekend free. Instead I’ve made plans and will have to leave the house and spend time with real people, grr 😉

Any genre-heads who haven’t heard of these are forgiven for seeing ‘Wolf’ and ‘Bodies’ in the titles and assuming I’m reading horror. Nope – they’re the story of Thomas Cromwell, and Wolf Hall was exactly the kind of well-written masterpiece that puts one off ever trying to write anything at all, because it will never be as good. You know the sort of thing. Disgustingly excellent.

Also, I totally fell for Cromwell.  These aren’t romance novels, but he was so well drawn, so complex and real that I sigh every time I think of him. My poor Thomas.  Sigh. I am so looking forward to spending more time with him.

The only flaw with Wolf Hall was that there were about twenty other characters also called Thomas, who were invariably all in the same scene talking to or about each other, and neither ‘Thomas’ nor ‘he’ were useful signifiers as to who did what. One of the drawbacks of reading on a Kindle is the relative difficulty of flicking back a few pages or referring to the index to see who’s who. Still, better than having to haul a 600 page hardback around, and a useful writing lesson learned – not to give all my characters the same damn name. There, I’m gaining on Hilary Mantel as I write…

I don’t know which book I’m more excited about. The only reason I’m starting Sacrificial Magic first is because it’ll be the quicker read. The Downside books aren’t short, but they are fast-paced and I always inhale them in one or two sittings, whereas Wolf Hall – woah, that was 674 pages, and Bring up the Bodies is 608. Wolf Hall was the first book I ever read on my Kindle, and to be honest I probably wouldn’t have read it if I’d had to lug a book of that size around.

Instead, both of these new books weigh nothing at all (or not?) and were magically delivered to my Kindle by the Amazon fairies overnight, which was thrilling to wake up to, in the same way that eBay purchases always feel like (free) gifts when they arrive.

Back later. Gone reading. X

Source: last.fm via Jenni on Pinterest

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A kingdom to rule. No one to trust.

Bitterblue trailer squee!

Right, now it’s time for Project Re-read Graceling.

Step One: be thankful that you bought your beautiful, book-hungry mother her own copy, so you don’t have to wait for her to give this one back.

Step Two: try to remember who borrowed Fire.

Step Three: place Bittterblue pre-order.

(If you don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s an explanation. Graceling is one of my favourite books ever so, yes, you should read it. Read it now).

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Short stories, strippers and cookies

This week’s been fun. This week I have been –

Watching: Once Upon A Time

If I could be a fairy-tale character in this programme, I’d be someone who grants wishes in exchange for the things my heart most desires. Then I would demand The Evil Queen’s red, red lipstick, and the forest-y wallpaper the clever set designers used in her house (pic below). I’d also claim Emma Swann’s knee high, lace-up boots and her cool, yellow VW Beetle. Sheriff Graham’s beard (above) and Irish accent are also very pleasing, but I don’t think they’d suit me.

Reading: Creating Short Fiction, by Damon Knight.

Partly because it’s supposed to be amazing, partly because I want to try writing short stories once this novel is done, mostly because I am jealous of Emma who’s been selected to attend Clarion this summer. Not heard of Clarion? It’s a very cool, very prestigious writer’s workshop in San Diego with a ridiculously impressive lineage of tutors and students. Here’s the blurb –

Established in 1968, the Clarion Writers’ Workshop is the oldest workshop of its kind and is widely recognized as a premier proving and training ground for aspiring writers of fantasy and science fiction.

Damon Knight was one of Clarion’s co-founders, and so far the book is as good as I’d heard – very readable, with advice that works for stories of all length, not only short ones. Congrats Emma – I’m sure you’ll have a blast, and I look forward to reading the stories that come out of the workshops.

Laughing at: Jo’s letter’s to Hunger Games characters. I think the one to Finnick is my favourite, or maybe it’s her note to Rue? Read them and giggle.

Magic Mike 2012 Steven Soderbergh Channing Tatum Matt Bomer, Alex Pettyfer William Levy

Waiting Impatiently For: Magic Mike to be released. Steven Soderbergh directs a film about male strippers, featuring Joe Mangienello (a familiar face round here) and the gentlemen pictured above. Jaw-droppingly exciting news, yes? No word yet on a David Holmes soundtrack but that would make me even more excited. It’s not til July though. boo!

I haven’t seen Haywire yet (though I own and love the soundtrack), but that’s out on DVD next month so perhaps it will sate me in the meantime. Don’t think it has any strippers in it, though.

Gorging on Dark Chocolate & Sour Cherry Cookies. Mmm, yes. If I really was that wish-granting character from a fairytale, I’d demand a pack of these as payment as well. Every day.

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Which Hunger Games character are you? Part II – the girls (Slacker Heroes post)

First published at Slacker Heroes.

I’m even more excited about the Hunger Games film now than I was last month. Since my invite to the premiere seems to have gotten lost in the post, I keep replaying the trailers and crying instead. It’s not that I’m sad, it’s just that the book makes me so goddamn emotional, and the same thing’s happening when I watch the preview clips.

I usually avoid movie adaptations, invariably preferring the novel, but something’s got me excited about this one and I think the fast-paced, life-or-death story will really work.  The stakes are high on every page of The Hunger Games, and Suzanne Collins made an art out of twisting the knife a little more with each sequel.

I never knew what was coming next, and I usually couldn’t even tell you what I wanted to happen – Katniss’s choices are heartwrenching, and I liked too many of the characters to choose who should get what they want. One thing’s certain – not everyone will get as far as Happily Ever After, and the film is going to be gripping throughout. Fingers crossed, anyway.

So, after last time’s ‘Which Hunger Games Boy are you?‘ quiz, are you ready for the girls’ turn? While the quiz is tongue in cheek, in truth,  the writing of every one of the female characters in this trilogy massively impressed me. Every one of them is strong in their own way, and that doesn’t meant they are all kick-ass or clever or morally admirable. Whether I’m cheering for the tributes or wincing at the ignorant vanity of the Capitol women, I always believed in that person’s character, motivation, history and right to be the way they are. Bravo.

1) What’s your hair like?

A) Shocking pink (today), artfully arranged with the utmost care. Appearances are extremely important.
B) Kept away from my face in a braid, the way my mother does it if ever I let her get close to me.
C) Thick, dark and girlish.

2. How’s your timekeeping?

A) I can’t bear to be late, and I expect the same high standards from everyone else.
B) I’m often late, after getting held up in the woods or trapped in trees. Who cares, anyway? We’ll all be dead soon.
C) Sometimes I get left behind because I’m so little and quiet, but I move so fast that I can always catch up.

3. It’s payday – let me take you out for a meal. What kind of dinner companion will you be?

A) I have superb table manners and I love to eat the finest delicacies of the Capitol. A little binge-purge behaviour means I can keep eating all night!
B) ‘My mother says I always eat like I’ll never see food again. And I said “I won’t unless I bring it home”. That shut her up.’
C) What, you mean I get a whole meal to myself? I’ve never had this much food before.

4. Guys describe you as

A) Maniacally terrifying.
B) Attractive but hard to reach.
C) Their musical kid sister.

Mostly As

You are Effie Trinket, relentlessly upbeat hostess of the reaping, there to applaud when the tributes are selected and then to escort them to the Capitol. You hope to improve the presentability of your charges, but are most often appalled by the behaviour of District 12′s ill-mannered tributes and their alcoholic mentor. You seem to wear a lot of wigs.

Mostly Bs

You are Katniss Everdeen, District 12′s female tribute. Your determination to survive has kept your family alive since the loss of your father, but can it help you survive the 74th Hunger Games? Your love life is about to get as much attention as your archery skills, much to your annoyance.

Mostly Cs

You are Rue, the tiny but speedy tribute from District 11. You are a valuable ally and loyal friend, and your enemies do wrong to underestimate you. You know a great deal about plants and nature, and you love music most of all.

 

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