Category Archives: pacific northwest

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.)

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.

The Fairy Queen of Spencer’s Butte Give-Away!

Okay, lovely people. I’ve got two copies in my hot little hands that are dying to leave the Pacific Northwest and venture elsewhere. (Um. Unless of course you’re in the Pacific Northwest, in which case, they just want to leave my house and go somewhere else new and exciting). So, the requirements for this little contest are:

1) You have to leave a comment to this post. Easy, right?

2) You have to either post about my book on your blog, Tweet about it, post about it on Face Book — something to tell people, hey, this book is here and it looks pretty neat! (Because, it is, it really is!) In the posting, please include a link to my free sample story When The Hills Come Courting so folks can get a feel for what’s in the book. Currently I’ve only got the print version and PDF version out through Lulu.com. The Kindle edition will be out by this weekend, however. (It’s nearly ready, minor spacing issues that I won’t be able to get back to fixing until Thursday night).

3) Be patient! The contest will remain open until Friday the 27th, and the books will go out no later that February 4th. I can only make it to the post office on Saturdays, so it’ll take a week for me to get there. (This is where the patience comes in).

I’ll be running another give-away later on in February, so if you don’t win, you will have another chance! Thanks for playing!

Book Review: Urban Shaman

Urban Shaman by C.E. Murphy

Urban Shaman is the first of C.E. Murphy’s series, ‘The Walker Papers’ (as of this writing there are currently six books out in this series) centered around Joanne Walker. We learn a lot about Joanne right away: she’s pretty tall, she wears a false bravado about herself to keep the world at bay, she thinks like the mechanic she is, she’s just buried her mother, and she’s got a pretty interesting mix of Irish and Native American heritage that gives her her real name of Siobhán Walkingstick. Oh, right, and she decides that saving damsels in distress after having only seen them from an airplane while said damsel is on the ground makes complete sense. Too bad the damsel seems to be running from the Wild Hunt itself . . .

You can’t blame Joanne for not realizing that getting the way of the Hunt is a bad idea.

I absolutely love this book. It’s true that I’m not a hard sell: ‘First contact’ is one of my favorite themes. I love the exploration of different worlds and realities, be they fantasy or science fiction. I love the interaction between humans and sentient non-humans, be they aliens or gods or spirits or talking frogs. I’m very happy with the plethora of urban fantasy books that are out there these days, though it is true that they don’t all live up to the same quality. I’m a fan of Kelley Armstrong’s books, the books of Richelle Meade that I’ve read (so far, only the first two of the Dark Swan series), I thoroughly enjoy most of Laurell K. Hamilton’s Merry Gentry books; I cannot sing praise enough for Patricia Briggs’ work. Those are some of the few books I’ve read that I think come closest to C.E. Murphy’s work.

For all that I’m not a hard sell, in some respects I am. I’m pagan; more, I’m hard polytheist. This means I not only believe that various gods are real, I believe they are real, are interested in interacting with us, can and do so, that there are different realms and realities that we can, and do, visit and interact with. So, while I really adore gods as characters, I also have a hard time with gods as characters. You may have read before – I have issues with all Celtic gods having to be faeries. Oh, I don’t begrudge the storyteller – both Laurell K. Hamilton and Patricia Briggs do it well – in their stories it totally fits the world. It’s still a pet peeve, and so, for beings like Coyote and Cernunnos to appear on stage and to not have to deal with the story teller trying to make distinctions between them (as if one is better than the other or more than the other or whatnot), was very nice.

The storytelling is very nice. Joanne is tough, without being overly sarcastic. (Not a bad trait; I do enjoy me my sarcastic heroines). She’s new to a lot of what she’s dealing with, and get to see her struggling with it, but like any good hero, she mans up when she needs to in order to get the job done. C.E Murphy obviously has done her homework with regards to the pagan scene – refreshing, again – and while some esoteric stuff isn’t quite the way it “really” is, it makes a good story.

So, if you enjoy Kelley Armstrong, Richelle Meade, Patricia Briggs (another pretty great mechanic heroine who is totally different from Joanne), I think you may want to check out Urban Shaman and give Joanne a chance!

(doesn’t hurt that they’re set in Seattle and are almost local!)