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#10: Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers. 3. The movie turns out to have been peculiarly faithful to the book, except for the part where the movie has a vague plot whereas the book has completely none. Honestly, Julie Andrews lends a warmth and a sparkle that the book version rather lacks. Book Mary is a rather vain thing, among other things. But it's still entertaining.

#11: Whitechapel Gods by S.M. Stiring. 2. Inventive (if very dark) steampunk rather ruined by raging misogyny. Took the lessons of The Difference Engine rather too close to heart. There are three female characters. One's an irrational whore with no impulse control, full of fluttery, dangerous womanly weakness. Another's an evil madame. The third is a goddess...who's easily overpowered and secretly glories in being raped by a totally normal guy who takes some drugs that apparently elevates him to her level because really, uppity women just need to be smacked around a little and properly subjugated. Umm, no.

#12: Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson. 5. Utterly delightful urban fantasy based out of a fictional city in the Middle East. An immersive Muslim take on the tropes of a hacker discovering a hidden magical world. It's smart, it's fresh, it's thought-provoking, and it's just plain fun.

#13: Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold. I've read this before, but had mostly forgotten the key plot points. It's refreshing to have the hero of a fantasy novel be a late middle aged woman, whose child is grown and who's looking for something to do with the rest of her life. She's not particularly fond of the plan the gods have for her, though, and intends to fight her destiny all the way.

#14: Romancing the Inventor by Gail Carriger. 3.5. Sweet, short romance between a parlor maid and a steampunk butch inventor. Makes a lot more sense if you've read the Parasol Protectorate series, though; doesn't stand well on its own.

#15: Poison or Protect by Gail Carriger. 3.5. I rather adored the romance plot of this one. Love a good lady assassin. But the assassin plot...pretty much fizzles out. I don't know if she's planning to carry a metaplot through the others of this romance novella series, but the whole "protect the duke" thing basically got dropped.
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Our friend Wavilyem gave us a copy of the Oregon Trail boardgame for the holidays. ARR, who adores boardgames, has insisted on playing it over and over and over again. I've already died of dysentery three times. It's led to some particularly amusing conversations, especially because he's having trouble keeping the words "oxen" and "oxygen" straight.

Resolutions

Jan. 1st, 2017 09:14 pm
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So last year had some pretty basic resolutions. Did ok at them. Got some more ambitious ones this year.

1. Start paying for news. Because newsrooms are going to need support this year.

2. Finish the novel I'm working on.

3. Decide what to do with the novel that's been rejected by a number of agents.

4. Do the obstacle course race I've been talking about for a couple of years now. Which means actually training for the obstacle course race. Things I'm most intimidated by: monkey bars and rope climb.

5. Do some volunteer work. I'm still not sure for what exactly, but there's a lot of bad in the world that needs to be offset somehow. Me and mine actually had it good this year. Really good--2016 was kind to my household, when it sucked for just about everyone else. I've got a karma debt that needs paying off--if I'm not under siege, I feel like I need to try to muster some energy to help some of the folks who are.
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#96: Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen by Lois McMaster Bujold. 3.5. Let's be clear here - there is no plot in this book. It's basically "Remember Cordelia? Let's hang out with her!" Let's continue to be clear - I didn't particularly mind. This was really more like a little vacation where you got to visit friends and don't do particularly much of anything, just hang out and catch up on their lives. I quite enjoyed the interlude. But if you're hoping for Miles-style madcap adventure, you'll be disappointed.

#97: Obstreperous by D.L. Carter. 2.5. I adored Ridiculous, the first book in this series. Unfortunately, in this one, the author bites off somewhat more than she can chew. Too many different plot lines and too many different character arcs make for a rather unsatisfying conclusion. It also requires some dramatic revision of Beth's character to make her do what the plot requires, and which completely removes any vestige of common sense she may have had.

#98: Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield. 3.5. I'm still not totally sure what exactly happened here, but it certainly was lovely in form. This story of obsession and memory is meandering and lyrical, taking its time to build tiny character moments. The immersion in Victorian mourning customs is enthralling, and Bellman's shadowy partner is deliciously ominous. Poe would have loved it.

#99: Please Don't Tell My Parents I've Got Henchmen by Richard Roberts. 3.5. A return to middle school woes definitely helps this superhero tale. Still zippy and delightful. Raises more questions than it answers, though, and the ending is a bit underwhelming after the last two. Glad there's another one in the works.

#100: Prudence by Gail Carriger. 4. Alexia's daughter shares quite a number of her mother's propensities, including a nose for trouble and a love of pastries. A number of the offspring of various characters from previous series end up on one truly preposterous airship for shenanigans and havoc.

#101: Imprudence by Gail Carriger. 4.5. Prudence takes on Egypt. Werecats and old friends make an appearance, but it's her dalliance with Quesnel that really shines.

#102: Good Advice for Bad People by Patrick Thomas. 3. More Dear Cthulhu. Basically what it says on the tin.
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ARR's peanut allergy has receded! He had his allergy test today, and we're officially cleared to start introducing small amounts of peanut. The milk one's still not budging, but we're hopeful.

Makes life so much easier...
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#84: Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel. 3. The central thesis is that passion and domesticity intersect so badly because you want to feel safe in a long term relationship and that the erotic thrives precisely on not feeling exactly safe. It's not a bad argument, but I didn't find it overall to be all that enlightening.

#85: Glasshouse by Charles Stross. 4. Dear god, was this a bad thing to be reading right after the 2016 election. I'd signed on for a bit of a sci fi mindfuck--I had not realized (just as the characters did not realize) I was in for enforced terrifying extremes of 1950s gender norms. It's actually a brilliant you-can't-trust-anyone game of paranoia, but the timing made it somewhat less enjoyable than it might have been some other time.

#86: The Fantasticks by Harvey Schmidt. 1.5. So I'd always hated this play unseen based on my extreme dislike of the song "Soon It's Gonna Rain." Then I decided that was irrational and unfair and that I should give it a chance. Nope! Still hate it! I dunno. Maybe if I'd read it when it came out it would have seemed innovative, but this just struck me as sophomoric bullshit.

#87: Winterfair Gifts by Lois McMaster Bujold. 4. Sweet novella filling in the gap of Miles' wedding in the Vorkosigan saga. Does not stand on its own in the slightest, doesn't need to.

#88: The Starry Rift by James Tiptree, Jr. 3. Interesting but extremely dated "novel" of several interconnected stories. It doesn't have the gut-punch impact of some of Tiptree's best short fiction, but they're lovely little stories. A plot point hinging on the recorder on a spaceship running out of physical tape does emphasize the period quite a bit.

#89: Ridiculous by D.L. Carter. 4.5. Utterly delightful Regency romp. She's masquerading as a man to protect her family's fortune, he's an exasperated duke, they don't so much fight crime as storm ballrooms and dance with wallflowers and pine hilariously.

#90: Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Supervillain by Richard Roberts. 5. Teenage girl with superhero parents kind of accidentally stumbles into being a supervillain. Surprisingly charming and compulsively readable. I particularly appreciated the series of terrible decisions made for entirely believable teenage reasons, especially since the main character is pretty aware of the terribleness even as she makes them.

#91: Please Don't Tell My Parents I Blew Up the Moon by Richard Roberts. 4. Not quite as strong as the first in the series. Although the "let's go to a steampunk Jupiter" is a fun premise, I rather missed the need to make decisions about how to juggle being a "good" kid with being a supervillain. Also, I found some of the action sequences a little confusing. But still overall charming, and sets up some potential answers I look forward to seeing play out in the third book.

#92: Dear Cthulhu: Have a Dark Day by Patrick Thomas. 3. Advice column by Cthulhu. Kinda what it says on the tin. Not for reading straight, but amusing in short doses.

#93: Empire of Ivory by Naomi Novik. 4. Temeraire goes to Africa. Africa...not so fond of Englishmen, or dragons. Fair enough. I do really like how Novik explores how different societies might treat dragons, and how that reflects on Laurence's growing disillusionment with his own country.

#94: Victory of Eagles by Naomi Novik. 4. Oh Laurence, you woobie. Can you suffer nobly? Oh yes, you can. I have to say, Temeraire's decision to form his own militia of dragons is absolutely a delight.

#95: Tongues of Serpents by Naomi Novik. 4. Temeraire's attempts at dragon rebellion don't quite go the way he wants them to, as we continue our world tour in Australia. 

Hair

Dec. 14th, 2016 10:50 am
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I just got a major haircut (most of the purple is gone now). Something like 9 inches - I didn't measure exactly. I kind of wish I knew exactly how much it weighed, but the idea of bagging up my hair and carrying it home to weigh on a kitchen scale was a little creepy. It was at the point where I wore Heidi braids to work, with them crossed up over the top of my head. Time for it to go.

It was actually supposed to go last week, but I caught something dreadful, probably from ARR's class, and completely lost my voice for three days. Doctor flat out forbid me from going out in public. Cancelling the hair appointment was comical--I could only produce a weird whisper-squeak, so the poor receptionist could barely make out what I was saying.

There's a particular joy to the first shower after a major haircut. This is so much easier! Everything is so much easier! I feel so light and free!
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ARR and I went up to the Bronx yesterday to see the Botanic Garden's model trains. He loved it, but was more impressed with the pile of rocks in the children's garden he was allowed to climb on. I am so taking him hiking when he's a little taller.

I'm not sure whether it was actually a good idea or not, to be honest--we both started the day with colds, but I got significantly worse over the day. It didn't help that the tablet I was counting on keeping him busy on the long train ride home ran out of power at 161th St and so I read to him most of the way home. I woke up this morning with basically no voice. I'm totally out of it.

Someone in his class has croup. I think he got a mild case and is fighting it off without much trouble, but managed to pass the infection on to me. And it's taking me down here.

Nightmare

Nov. 15th, 2016 12:08 pm
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So last night's nightmare started with driving like crazy to escape from a Philadelphia that was completely engulfed in flames. Then I went to a band picnic for reasons, but when I left, it was continued disaster zone. Multiple car accidents, with ambulances all over the place. I kept passing people screaming on stretchers. The traffic locked up to the point that I finally abandoned the car and was trying to cross all the shattered glass in bare feet. I'd almost made it to Long Beach Island, though, where my parents and several other members of that side of the extended family were, and my dad came to find me. We'd gotten back to the house when the radio announced that Russia had launched a ballistic missile that was going to land in the Atlantic near us. We only had two or three minutes before it exploded. I was frantically trying to call Chuckro and ARR (who mercifully were apparently somewhere safeish) to say goodbye and we were arguing over whether to try to hide in the back of the house (there was no basement) or whether it was pointless to try and I was upset that Long Island was also going to get hit and so my in-laws were going to die too. And my last thought before I woke up was that I was glad Obama was still president for a few more weeks, because he might be able to keep the situation from escalating even more and making things worse for the survivors.
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#76: Un Lun Dun by China Mieville. 3.5. I particularly like this YA novel for subverting a usual trope - the protagonist who saves the day is not the Chosen One. The Chosen One kinda screws up, and her friend ends up taking the lead. Which causes the friend no end of trouble. Similarly, the long intricate quest comes out not at all as typical. It does still adhere to a somewhat formulaic emotional arc, though. Still, the bursts of whimsy are entertaining and generally very original in a "This is a charmingly clever new idea that still feels kinda like Neil Gaiman wrote it" kind of way.

#77: A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. 4. I loved this book desperately as a little girl. The sumptuousness, the total angst, the noble sacrifice, the miracle ending. LOVE. Is it kinda racist? Yes. (In an unavoidably Victorian, generally benign-ish way, but still racist.) Is it classist? Oh hells yes. (Poor Becky. For all that Sara muses that they could be the same, it's always very clear that they could never be. From Becky wanting to wait on her after her fall to Becky coming along as her new maid, Becky is always terribly grateful to get the short end of the stick, just as a good servant who knows her place should be. It's not a tragedy that Becky is a servant, just that rich little Sara Crewe is.) But despite that, I still kind of love this book.

#78:The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde. 4. Delightfully off-kilter romp about an orphan running a sorceror service that's not unlike a plumbing service, who finds herself drafted into the politically-motivated slaying of a perfectly nice dragon. Cynical without being truly dark, cleverly constructed, and generally just plain fun.

#79: Finn Fancy Necromancy by Randy Henderson. 3. Run-of-the-mill urban fantasy. This one has necromancers. It's snarky and fun, but also a bit forgettable.

#80: The Killing Moon by N.K.Jemisin. 4.5. Jemisin delivers again, with a luxuriously developed world with hints of an alternate Egypt but really its own thing. I adore how she comes up with dazzlingly convincing and complex societies that don't feel like knock off Tolkein or a roleplaying supplement. It's nice to see something other than medieval Europe as the base. But it's also all about the fantastic characters. Bad things happen to Jemisin characters, but watching them break but still keep going is much of the appeal. It is oddly standalone - there's a sequel and a prequel-thing, but this one feels complete on its own.

#81: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. 5. It is a truth universally acknowledged that women who pride themselves on being bookish have to reread this one every couple of years. Never disappoints.

#82: The Duchess War by Courtney Milan. 5. It's been a bad couple weeks. This is the mental equivalent of a warm brownie. Luxurious, pampering, comforting. I continue to adore both her characters and her refusal to take the obvious or easy solution, while still fully acknowledging the obvious solution and giving us good reasons upfront that it won't work. ...this is also what I did instead of sleeping last Tuesday night. Because the sleeping wasn't happening.

#83: The Anti-Anxiety Toolkit. By Melissa Tiers. 3.5. I should probably go back and try this again while not actively in the middle of a slow-moving panic attack. The exercises seem to be fairly promising, but it's hard to convince your brain that disaster is not happening when actually, no, a real disaster is actually unfolding around you in real time. Probably better to practice these on low-level anxiety before trying to scale up to the full thing.
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Why is it that on all the kids' shows ARR likes, Smurfette is always the flyer?

Paw Patrol - Skye is the helicopter pilot.
PJ Masks - Owlette had the glider and one of her superpowers is flight.
RescueBots - I guess technically the bots are genderless, but they use male pronouns. All the bots are male, but they have corresponding human partners. Blades the helicopter's pilot? The only girl of the lot.

I mean, flying is badass. Not gonna complain. But why is it always the girl? 

An FYI

Nov. 13th, 2016 08:41 pm
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I will not be talking about the overall situation here. I'm choosing to do my processing off social media.

Chicago!

Oct. 25th, 2016 08:20 pm
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For our 10th wedding anniversary, I wanted to take a trip. I've never been to Chicago (except for a couple of hours during an unexpectedly long layover, which doesn't count) and we have several friends who live there, so long weekend for us!

Read more... )
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#72: Pyramids by Terry Pratchett. 4. While not Pratchett's best work, still loads of fun. The Assassin's Guild final exam is most likely the best part. It's funny--I'm not sure how I missed this one, but I'm pretty certain I never read it. (Also, dear lord, the cover--apparently the artist's idea of an Egyptian prince who's studied to be an assassin is to dress him like the most racist cariacature of a ninja you can imagine, down to a headband with a rising sun, and stick slippers on him. The chainmail bikini babe in his lap is at least slightly more accurate to the character. It's like the entire 80s worth of wrong in one cover. It...does not do the book a favor.)

#73: Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling. 3. I read these as a child and adored them. I read them as an adult to see if the were salvagable to let my own kid read them. Umm...maybe some of them. If I read them out loud and strategically skip a couple of sentences. They're incredibly charming--the voice is adorable. The racism/sexism/imperialism rather less so. Which is a shame, because about half of them really are very cute.

#74: The Woman Who Died a Lot by Jaspar Fforde. 4.5. You really do have to have read the previous Thursday Next installments, but I have to appreciate how well he reminds the reader of stuff they read a decade ago. (These come out rather spaced apart, I'm afraid.) Fforde continues to be relentlessly clever, with densely knotted plots that all come together perfectly and a light enough touch it seems effortless. In this one, Thursday tries to deal with a mindworm that's corroding her memory and half a dozen clones that keep replacing her, her teenage son's disillusionment after his future career in the ChronoGuard is retroactively dissolved, an incoming asteroid, and a vengeful God who has scheduled a Smiting on her home town later in the week. And a dodo, but she always has to deal with the dodo.

#75: Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi. 3.5. A light, fast-paced read about a prospector of dubious principles facing off against an intergalactic mining company over whether aliens are intelligent or not, that turns out to be mostly about a courtroom battle. It's not a great work of literature, but it's a small impressive feat to turn a character who I'm pretty sure I'd despise in real life into a fairly entertaining protagonist.
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ARR and I took a mega-adventure today, up to the Bronx Zoo, sans stroller. Let me put it this way--my legs are killing me, and ARR went to bed half an hour early without a peep.

They're doing a Halloween thing every weekend/holiday in October. So ARR wore his firefighter costume. (We still haven't decided what to be for actual Halloween. He got very cross with me for asking again yesterday because he'd already told me. The problem is, he's told me a different thing each time. He's going to be a firefighter/superhero/Spiderman/TigerKid/Gecko. I'm still not sure what we're going to do.)

We had an amazing time not looking at animals. Very few animals were disturbed in this adventure. But we were in a costume parade, climbed on a great number of things, rode the monorail and the tram, made friends with three or four other children, climbed on some more things, balanced on yet more things, had a lot of fun with the hanging strips they use to keep birds from escaping enclosures, ignored living animals in favor of admiring brass ones, really really enjoyed climbing on all the children's zoo, did a craft, ran through a hay maze, and climbed on some more things. He declared that the lions were his favorite, which is interesting given that my memory of the lions consisted of me repeatedly pointing out "hey, lions!" while he extravagently ignored them in favor of an I'm-not-exaggerating five minute interpretive dance done on top of a piece of granite that was sticking out of the sidewalk. (Quote: "Mommy, this is a really long dance.") He only stopped because I finally got bored and made him wrap it up. He told me the dance was telling me all about things.

But he let me look at the otters for probably a solid 20 seconds, which was longer than any other animal got, so there's that.

In retrospect, I'm actually astonished at how well he did overall. He was kind of falling off curbs by the end, but we clocked probably several solid miles of walking today, and he never complained. He got a little bad at following directions and tried to whine a couple times near the end, but was willing to be distracted. No meltdowns at all (and I would have considered it a fair price for the day). Seriously, this kid can walk. And walk and walk and walk. I'm loving the 3s. He's so gung ho about going on adventures with me, and so delightful when he's on said adventures.
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We took ARR apple picking yesterday. Actually, the place we went, Alstede Farms, has everything picking. At the moment, they've got like 15 varieties of apples, pumpkins, multiple squashes, squash blossoms, sunflowers, eggplant, tomatoes, raspberries, potatoes, peppers, currants, and I think the tail ends of one or two other vegetables. I also saw peach trees, strawberry and blueberry bushes, asparagus, and more. Let's just say that the hayride to get out to the fields ended up being somewhat longer than anticipated. Huge farm.

They also had a ton of kids' activities. We just got him a wristband. There was a haybale mountain, bouncy castles, pony rides, assorted animals to feed and pet, a little train ride, corn tunnels, not one but two corn mazes (the kind where they don't let you go in without a map, because otherwise you'll be in there for days), and the Corn Kingdom, which turned out to be a shed full of corn and trucks. He spent more time in the Corn Kingdom than basically anything else. He also rubbed fistfuls of corn into his hair for Reasons, which resulted in a bath with multiple shampooings and probably a solid ten minutes of me going over his scalp with a comb. He's still shedding bits. I'm going to warn his teachers that he doesn't have lice, he has corn.

He also had an awesome time. (Except for the last 10 minutes of the hayride. But I think we can all agree that was just too much hayride.) Both of my boys, little and big, were unconscious most of the way home.

We have so many apples. And pumpkins. But then, it's decorative gourd season, yo.
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#66: The Apocalypse Codex by Charles Stross. 4. Love the Laundry Files in general. The combination of dry bureaucratic humor and terrors from beyond just really works for me. This one's structure is somewhat odd, as he shifts away from first person here and there, not always to great effect. But overall, it works, and I'm enjoying Bob's increasing reluctant responsibility.

#67: The Doge's Palace in Venice by Michela Knezevich. 4. Great at what it is, which is a series of maps and explanations of the art in all the rooms of the Doge's palace. Perfect for either a tourist guide or a reference. Not really something you just read for fun.

#68: Snow White and Rose Red by Patricia C. Wrede. 3. Straightforward retelling of the classic fairy tale. Enjoyable, not particularly memorable.

#69: A Deepness in the Sky by Vernor Vinge. 3.5. I had mixed feelings on this one. At times, I was really into it; other times, I was kind of racing through to finish (not in a good way). Wildly uneven in how engaging I found it, and I'm not sure whether that's him or me. The Spiders are an interesting alien race in a number of respects, but the dual structure of the Spiders pushing towards spaceflight and the humans hiding out waiting for them to get there that things felt simultaneously underwritten and overly stretched out. The villainous Emergents are so moustache-twirlingly bad that I just didn't want to deal with them most of the time; meanwhile on the Spider side, Honored Perdure had the same issue. No particular depth, just unmitigated evil. But at the same time, this stretches agonizingly over decades. There are bursts of really engaging characters doing interesting things, though. The end is very clever, and yet deeply frustrating because while he's laid hints about the twist, it's such a big twist (and then the implications are barely dealt with) that it doesn't really feel quite fair.

#70: Agatha H and the Airship City by Phil and Kaja Foglio. 3. I adore Girl Genius. I'd been hoping the novelization of the first book would shed some additional light on the world. Unfortunately, really, it turns out that it takes a novel to describe what the Foglios manage to convey in drawings--there's not really any new material here. And what works amazingly well as a serialized comic doesn't work nearly as well in book form--the rhythm that leaves a joke at the bottom of nearly every page results in a weirdly bouncy prose. Mostly, it just makes me want to go read the graphic novels again.

#71: The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas. 3? Wow, am I of two minds about this one. On one hand, this is chock full of delightfully over the top, preposterous swashbuckling. I particularly love the part where they decide to defend a turret ostensibly as a bet and really to have a conversation that won't be overheard, and so evenly split their time between plotting, fighting, and eating a picnic. And Milady is just so very dastardly that I really can't help but love her. But on the other hand--holy toxic masculinity, Batman. I realize that this is written almost two centuries ago, and that it was a (probably not very accurate) historical novel even then. At least some of the stuff is supposed to be barbaric. But I can't help but think that this is the kind of garbage that leads to MRAs baying about Alpha males and crap. D'Artagnan repeatedly and celebratedly murders people all over the place for no reason. I'm particularly looking at the part where he tries to kill someone he's never met before in his life because the man had the audacity to walk with a woman that D'Artagnan has decided that he's in love with--who he's spoken to for all of five minutes, who has given no indication that she even likes him, and who's married to a third person entirely. Later, he sleeps with a girl to get to her mistress. The girl actually does like him. She's worthless, though, and really he's still in love with the first one (but also still trying to screw the mistress). If that's not pretty much the textbook example of treating all women as if they exist only to service you, I don't really know what is. Gah. Yes, I realize standards are different. But when we hold this up as "classic literature" and "fun!" without questioning, it says some really nasty things.
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I just got the sweetest note from an agent turning my book down. Said it sounded "incredibly good." Apparently he just sold an airship trilogy by someone else after a really long search, and he's all airshipped out. He closed by asking me if I was getting lots of agents asking to read, and saying he'd think I would be and that he was rooting for me.

Arrrrgh so close. So frustrating. But at the same time, it was really, really nice of him--he didn't have to take the time to write at all. Now I just want to write him something he would like just because I want to work with him.

Sigh.  

Depressing

Sep. 30th, 2016 08:02 pm
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It was a fairly bad week overall, with some critical software going belly up and a lot of mess involving translations. But it was just capped off with a rejection from an agent who had requested a full manuscript and I'd been particularly hopeful about. She really liked the style, but thinks steampunk in general is a hard sell right now, and the book is too steampunky for romance and too romance for SFF.

Aside from that being depressing in itself, I'm struggling with the current book already, and it's...going to have a really similar problem. And a part of me wants to just fling up my hands and give up. I probably won't, probably, but it's just a really bad way to cap off a fairly miserable week.

City kid

Sep. 24th, 2016 08:39 pm
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ARR and I hit the High Line this morning. It was pretty dismal out--cold and cloudy, but Chuckro's been suffering a cold and I wanted to ARR out of the house. They were doing their last family program of the year. Total hit--they started with a solid 45 minutes of storytime with a New York Public Library librarian, followed by multiple crafts. There was a garden cart and a kids' variety show, both of which we skipped. Because the big hit was the building area, where they basically just spread out a giant pile of construction materials and let the kids have at. Finished beams with holes of various sizes and giant plastic nuts and bolts so you could screw them together, plus lots of accessories - buckets and baskets, hooks, pulleys, ropes, wheels, corner pieces. Plus random stuff--tin pots and spoons, river rocks, tool belts, construction hats and goggles, kid sized wheelbarrows. He could have stayed there for hours if I hadn't finally peeled him away to get lunch.

He was full of pep and the weather had suddenly became shockingly gorgeous, and a nap seemed like an unlikely prospect. So instead we went to a picnic up at the Cloisters we were originally planning to skip. I'll let Chuckro tell details of that, I mostly chased ARR. But he was fairly well behaved, given the lack of nap. So he managed to hit two of the more iconic parks in the city in one day.
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