Category Archives: eugene

Fire on the Mountain by Jennifer Lawrence

For those not in the know, currently my dog is coming back from some wicked intestinal wretchedness. He is weak, he is unwell, and he is basically on bed rest. He’s also amazing, and in order for me to keep him in bed I have to stay with him, because he thinks I’m amazing, and wants to be with me all the time. To that end, I’m staying in bed with him and reading. Sometimes out loud, to him, because he likes it.

One of the books we read was Jennifer Lawrence’s Fire on the Mountain. I’ve wanted this book since she released it, and I was hoping to get a Kindle edition at some point because acquiring physical books in our limited space is something I try not to do if I can help it. I’m not going to criticize her for not having this out in e-reader friendly formats, because I’ve got my book out in a limited range and that’d be too much like the pot calling the kettle black. I do wish she had Nook and Kindle books available, if only to make getting the books more instantly gratifying for people.

From the blurb: Damiana Gray is bitter – and who wouldn’t be? A folk musician with three popular CDs, a loyal fanbase, a husband and three young daughters, her world was shattered the night her husband was involved in a fatal DUI while she and her children were in the vehicle. But when she finds an unconscious and wounded Fae warrior on her front porch one stormy winter night, she’s forced to use her knowledge to save his life from his brother. Having become familiar with all the old Celtic ballads about the Fae during her musical career, she’s the perfect person for the job. But the accident has left her disfigured, and her vocal cords so damaged that she can no longer sing. Her knowledge means nothing if she’s not the bard she needs to be to save her life and the life of her friends.

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I’ve known about Lawrence’s work for a while, though I’ve only just now gotten around to reading Fire on the Mountain. (I say ‘gotten around to reading it’ but I only bought my copy last week, so it’s not like it was sitting here, wasting away.)

One of the best things about this book was: there was absolutely no ‘new to me author’ break in period — you know the kind you sometimes get when getting accustomed to a newer writer’s voice? I slipped into this story with the ease and familiarity of slipping into the world of a best beloved author. Damiana’s story is tragic, and getting to know her is heartbreaking. She’s lost everything and she is mired still in the thick grief that has become her life. The portrayal of her dealing with chronic pain is extremely realistic, and it was refreshing to see a main character start off on a quest despite limited ability.

This is not a happy, feel-good book. While the familiar trappings of quest motif are clear in this fairy tale, this is gritty and dark and sometimes harsh. There are ups, glorious ups, and there are downs. This is a story that takes life as it comes, and it’s the story of a woman  who has lost everything, only to learn that she still has more to lose, and thus more to fight for, than she realized.

I loved this book, and I cannot wait to read more of Lawrence’s fiction. Fans of Mark Chadborne, Neil Gaiman, Patricia McKillip, and Emma Bull may enjoy this book. Anyone who enjoys first contact stories, the traveling from earth to the otherworlds, mythology or fairy tales in general will enjoy this book. And by enjoy I mean having it play with your heart mercilessly.

You want to buy this book.

Wish granted

This past week has been rainy and chilly, with enough breaks in the rain in the morning to allow for the non-winter morning dog walk. We’ve been happily taking our route around the block, claiming various gardens and trees and rocks. It’s been awesome.

We’ve finished up The Black Jewels trilogy for story-time and are making our way through Frost Burned, the 7th of the Mercy books. Reading from the Kindle is a bit weird, for some reason, for story time, but I’ll get used to it again. I love how much the cats snuggle up for story time, too. Luna, especially, and especially with *these* books. I think she hopes Brother Wolf will make an appearance.

Hit the library over the weekend, and picked up The Lost Gods of England, The Cults of the Greek States Vol 1, and renewed the kingship book I was reading, because it’s interesting when I don’t have something better to read. I’ve got other books to pick from the other library, and then I really need to start reading them. And I still have The Devourer that I keep forgetting I have and want to read. (The downside to having a TBR pile on an e-reader, I suppose)

Finished chapter 2 of the wip’s rough draft, which is awesome. I had skipped, you see. Wrote the first chapter, started chapter two, skipped to the chapter that, in my head, feels like chapter five. I have enough time I want to cover before we get caught up to ‘chapter five’ that I could easily see two more chapters. Time wise we’re talking months between chapter one and chapter five, and it’s a bit . . . weird writing something so character driven. I’m tempted to say that the feel of the story is disjointed. It’s *not*, but the first half is definitely character driven, romancey. Misunderstandings, learning about each other. There are no Big Bad Things until we get further in, and I’m focusing on getting the story out and worrying about finesse and polish after. But it’s hard.

Skipping over Dread Chapter Three until I have enough material to keep going regardless as a great idea, though. I hate Dread Chapter Three. So many novels of mine have crashed into DCT and sank to their watery graves.

I’m not pleased, though, that a whole month has gone by between my last writing bout and today. Pushing my wake up time back is helping fix that, and writing 2500 words in an hour and a half helped, too. I know i’ll get less done during the days I need to work my day job, but weekends are for getting caught up.

I have a beta-reading project I need to get back to, now that my other, more time line sensitive one is finished. Will work that in to the schedule somewhere.

I’ve got my yoga scheduled in, got my writing in for the day, and had a nice walk with the dog, and two cups of tea. Today is good.

Reading, and story time, and writing

The close of March is upon us, and I’m sad to see it go. We had our first summer-like day here, yesterday. The sky was blue, the clouds were fluffy and white, the land was drying out, the temperature hit the 70s, and everyone I came into contact with was very happy to have a break in the rain. As for myself? I’m already looking forward to autumn’s arrival.

It’s silly. We have another good three to four months of the rainy season. And I am happy that it’s warming up enough that gardening without turning your fingers into fingercicles. We have a newly created garden bed in our backyard that is waiting for me to go and turn over the grass that has grown since it’s implementation, and then we’ll start planting veggies. (Lettuce, tomato eventually, cukes, zucchini, peas). I have our front patch to reclaim from moss and grass, a rosemary plant and two trees to put in, and our bulb-bowl that we purchased for Ostara (a cluster of tulips, two hyacinth, two grape hyacinth, some crocuses, some fancy narcissis) to get into the ground. I’m looking forward to that, I really am.

If only it wouldn’t get so sunny. If only it would stay below 70.

The mornings are still quite nice, and I comfort myself by knowing that for most of the year here, the morning does not get that much warmer than they are now. But I’ll miss the biting chill.

The dog is happy, however, so that’s really what matters. He hates the rain and the cold, and the dark.

I did not double my word count during the second half of March. I’m starting to want to pay attention to that (I can’t remember when I last tallied it) but not in such a way as to make tracking more work and take away from the joy of writing. Unlike last year, I’m trying to stay aware of what my patterns are and adapt, rather than trying to apply goals that work against myself. It’s silly, maybe. It’s mostly attitude more than the actual “thing” I’m doing. Objectively, tracking word count and progress is the same, either way. Where my mind is at, how I’m viewing the progress, is all subjective.

I’m reading through, slowly, Reading Like A Writer. I’m two minds about it, about any books on the technical side of the writing craft. It’s entertaining, even if it is making me find books I wouldn’t otherwise find and read them — which, heh, I don’t NEED, as I’ve already spent more time reading than I should have, this month — but I’m reading it with some trepidation. Every time I pick up the idea that I “ought to” be writing with some goal other that telling the story, I sputter out and stall. I’m not a close-reader generally (this changes during story time, naturally) and I value my ability to read fast. I don’t sound the words out as I read, I don’t think them in my head, I see them, and there’s a meaning-association that I don’t need *sound* for. I don’t want to start reading that way all the time.

But I am enjoying our story time reading quite a lot, and I do think that writers really ought to read their work out loud. I’ve discovered some of my favorite authors — I’ll use Patricia Briggs as an example, because I adore her work, even if I wish she’d write more secondary world fantasy — possibly don’t, or possibly have a different ear than I do, because oh do I stumble through story time with her books. (Which doesn’t make me love them any less, mind.) Anne Bishop, to use another (and recently featured at story time) example, is greatly fond of long, active sentences. On the one hand, it’s refreshing in a world saturated by short, economic sentences and they delight me. On the other hand, I’m not reading for an audiobook, in a studio, where we can stop and edit as we need to. We have had some hilarious, “Okay, wait, try that again!” moments while I figure out where to put pauses and emphasis.

Reading things like Reading Like A Writer also makes me stop and wonder over things like, am I not like other writers? I don’t have a huge grammar study background. I enjoy reading things like stylebooks and dictionaries (don’t you judge me!!) and I like reading different ways of writing, but I don’t like dissecting. I don’t like taking the technique of writing away from the story, to hold up and dissect.

I suppose it could come down to what sort of writer you are, inside. Do you write so you can play with language and structure and technique, or do you write to tell the story, and grammar and language and technique are simply tools to help you do that? I’m certainly in the latter camp. And I don’t think there’s a wrong way, and I don’t think one is only one type of writer or another. I *do* like learning the different ways people approach things, and I do enjoy that I’m a bit of a pedant, and I try to keep that in my writing rather than letting it spill over into real life. And, knowing the history of writing, of language, of dictionaries, of the fluidity of language, and how modern a concept words being said or spelled just so is, how young, how barely a blip on our literary background, I realize that getting annoyed over misplaced apostrophes is silly and pedant. It’s an interesting inner war.

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I’ve recently finished reading Farnell’s The Cults of the Greek States Vol 3 which lead to some interesting conversations on the bus (and by interesting I mean annoying.) I’m currently picking through The Cult of Kingship in Anglo-Saxon England and it’s one of those books where quotes are not translated, and really, I can’t handle the Latin. Sometimes, I can, if the context is clear enough, but . . . feh. Also, some other reader at some point noted the book to high heaven, and he seriously had a bee in his bonnet over what the author meant by Christian, and so that’s adding some fun giggling and eye-rolling. Off-line message train wrecks!

For story time, we’re working through Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels books. Have read the first two books, the short novel The Prince of Ebon Rih and Zuulaman short story, and we are on the third book now. I forget how much I love Lucivar. We have renamed Hekatah, which is too close to Hekate for me to be comfy with, to Hekaduh, because she’s repeatedly so stupid. And it’s made the reading fun.

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Reading books I love, whose stories suck me in (I’ve reread the Black Jewel trio five times, the most recent time being this month, because I read ahead of story time, too) is not conducive to writing my own work. Brittany and Thistle have suffered because of it. Must get disciplined. In fairness, the day job has been busy and stressful and feh. But, it always will be stressful. I need to stop sleeping in that extra hour and get up and *work*. Still, the rough draft is at 30k words, most of that from February and March. So, not too shabby.

And, it’s useful to learn that my natural default is to read more than write. Knowing that, I can inflict discipline. “Three hundred words, and then you can . . . “

Lookit! I have a guest blog spot!

In your free time today, go check out Patty Henderson’s awesome blog <a href="http://thehendersonfiles.blogspot.com and read my post! Not only is Patty a great story teller (whose books you need to check out if you haven’t already, and enjoy gothic mysteries) but she does wonderful things on her blog to help promote indy published folks. Yay for indy publishing!

While you’re at it, and if you haven’t already, stop on by When The Hills Come Courting and give that story a read. 😉

Can we get some life in here?

or, long time no write-y!

And it’s true, too! It’s been a while since I posted — this is your standard “I’m a terrible blogger” catch-up post. Well, and this is about learning what works and what doesn’t work, right? Only, publicly, so others can see, too. Yes?

Mid-to-late April I hopped a plane and went far far away from home to visit loved ones. Aah, New England. Even with the wet season’s appeal tapering off here in the Willamette Valley, I am thoroughly besotted with my home state, but there is something special about returning to a place where all the names are familiar (and I can trust that I’ll say them correctly, despite their improbable and untrustworthy spelling) and architectural designs span centuries, yet complement each other rather than looking out of place. Being near that many loved ones, too, is pretty awesome.

But I wouldn’t be me if, by the end of the trip, I was nearly climbing the walls with the need to see my puppy! (Home is, after all, where the dog is, oh keeper of my heart) At one point during our nightly conversations, Corbie tried to get between Beth and her phone, apparently hearing me on the other end. “Where is she??!?” Ah, the dog.

Returning home, I found Zerky much worse off than he’d been when I left, and we had the Amazing Dr. Bonnie out to see him (seriously, if any of my readers are local, Dr. Bonnie is fabulous, I can’t recommend her more highly. If you can’t trust my word, you must be told that even Her Ladyship approves, and if you can’t trust a Persian, you can’t be trusted, obviously). Allergies, it seems to be, and he’s responding well to medicine (even if he’s finally caught on the pill pocket trick. Luckily, we are well acquainted with the towel-wrap-and-torture pill delivery system, too. After all these years? Beth and I have it down to an art form) and his hair is growing back, and his sores are almost all gone.

And in all this? I’ve been reading up a storm — some books I’ll review, others not — and getting some knitting down and . . . oh. Writing? Um. Heh. Oops. Not so much.

Mother’s Day is almost here, which in retail speak means, for our store anyway, near-Christmas numbers, so, I’ve pretty much been exhausted after work. Between the stress of travelling — because I love people, I do, but that much visiting on top of that much traveling in so short a period totally shuts me down for a week or so afterward — I’ve been, you know. Reading, and knitting, and mostly reading.

Coming soon: Dark Things II: Cat Crimes, a review of this neat collection of dark, twisted feline stories. (Short version — it was good, go buy it!)

Currently Reading and on being in love

Last weekend Beth and I ventured to our local university and renewed our library access there. The ability to do this — for local, non-student or faculty residences to have access to the University of Oregon’s library — is a major factor in our living here and part of why I am hopelessly in love with the city. I’m not ashamed to say that it will be one of the things that I’d miss the most if we ever move.

Apparently, it had been some time since we’d gone, and we both walked the stacks with our mouths hanging open. “Why did we stop coming?” she’d ask. Five minutes later I’d say, “Why has it been so long?”

I came home with an assortment of books to read or reread: Sacred Marriage in the Rituals of Greek Religion was a new find, Human Sacrifice in Ancient Greece was also an unexpected find. Ancient Greek Cults is a reread. There was also a book or two on Linear B, and Womens Work, finally. This is the book that drove me to stop putting the renewal off.

Naturally, when I got home with this treasure trove I picked up Bitten By Moonlight and started reading that, instead. And, I’m quite loving it, so that works.

In love with the libraries, in love with the books. I’m also in love with my various projects going on.

For over a year, I’ve been trying to get one particular book up and running. It’s been hell. I’m still very excited about the plans for the book, I still believe in the story, and I do feel that the approach I have now is The One that will work. But, there’s all this baggage and associations of failure tacked on now. My current WiP is a different book altogether, and I’m rediscovering what it’s like to be head over heels in love without the associated angst. It’s pretty awesome. My plans for this one extend to having the rough draft done in four months or so. Nothing hard and fast. It’s good to have the joy back. Minor headaches when the voices are reluctant, but they want the tale told, mostly, so it’s working.