Category Archives: oregon

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.

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. 😉

Library trip for the win!

Granted, I’m not sure I’ve ever had a library trip that hasn’t resulted in a happy haul. Be that as it may, thanks to Lazette Gifford putting out her fabulous 2YNovel segments, I am rediscovering how awesome writing and world-building is. Last night I was nodding off while trying to work on backstory building, and it was surreal and awesome and amazing. The WiP that has been wavering back and forth a bit (not like Angela’s story wavers, dear gods I do not have over three years of baggage with the new one, yet) solidified itself with a big THUNK. I keep backing away — it’s intimidating and scary, and there are things that I don’t think I can handle as well as I think they ought to be handled, but the story refuses to give on this matter, and not wanting to write it because I’m intimidated is Not Okay. Not wanting to write it because I don’t believe it is a solid concept, because I don’t believe it’s the best thing for the story, because it’ll make the story worse? Those are reasons to not write it. Because I’m intimidated? Hell, no.

Three book series (possibly two, unsure, but very likely three, it’s just that I don’t know the second book well yet) and the over-arching serial title? Yeah, that hit with a THUNK too. Which, you know, really helped the whole thing solidify, conceptually.

And I can’t wait to see it finished and wonderful, exposed in all its glory.

Because the first book takes place nominally in a coastal town/village along the Oregon coast (hey, the land here has been good to me, I have to pay homage) and I’m thinking somewhere between Newport and Tillamook. To that end, I took out Nehalm Tillamook Tales and Oregon Coastal Access Guide. I’m hoping to incorporate a flavor of Pacific Rim folklore feel (specifically northwest American and a touch of Japanese/Chinese, but we’ll see how it ends up) to this book, too, so we’ll see how that goes. There are a ton of books to be had, between the public library and the University, but for now this’ll do. I also brought home some Joseph Campbell because, at this point, I’m in a nonfiction space, and I haven’t read much of his work. Heh, I also brought home No Idle Hands: The Social History of American Knitting because I am that sort of nerd.

(And for those of you who are also into knitting and fiber: Beth over at Fensalir Fiber is starting up a newsletter, so sign up! You won’t be disappointed. Her stuff is amazing!)

This week, Lazette Gifford and Neil Gaiman are elevated to personal heroes of mine status. Very timely work hitting me at a very timely, erm, time, and I cannot thank either of them enough. (Even if my sleep is suffering because if them both.)

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.

Released!

Only twelve weeks late — that’s not a big deal, is it? Just a post to let folks know: The Fairy Queen of Spencer’s Butte and Other Tales is now out and ready to go! It’s so new, in fact, that you can’t yet find it via searching on Lulu.com, so there’s the link to the paperback and the ebook. I will be releasing an .epub edition after the holidays when I can think well enough again to tackle doing something new (and scary). Also coming after the holidays: a give-away! I’d wanted to do it in time with the release (um. back in October) but pushing off another month helps me not want to crawl into bed and pull the covers up over my head, and so, it waits.

The Fairy Queen of Spencer’s Butte is a collection of short stories inspired by the part of Oregon where I live. They are not all place-specific, though some are. Personally, I do think they’re rather awesome, all of them, but then, I’m biased. 😉