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The Reading Lessons

10 Apr

I’ve been a little bit quiet again lately, but that’s because my face hurts. Like literally, my TMJ is being horrible. BUT! I really can’t sit still today because I just caught this book trailer and… yeah. Carole Lanham’s latest. Everyone’s probably heard me go on and on about The Whisper Jar and my love for it, so you can imagine how excited I am for The Reading Lessons.


And look, it’s so pretty!

The Reading Lessons

The Reading Lessons
by Carole Lanham

Mississippi 1920: Nine year old servant, Hadley Crump, finds himself drawn into a secret world when he is invited to join wealthy Lucinda Browning’s dirty book club. No one suspects that the bi-racial son of the cook is anything more to Lucinda than a charitable obligation, but behind closed doors, O! she doth teach the torches to burn bright. What begins as a breathless investigation into the more juicy parts of literature quickly becomes a consuming and life-long habit for two people who would not otherwise be left alone together. As lynchings erupt across the South and the serving staff is slowly cut to make way for new mechanical household conveniences, Hadley begins to understand how dangerous and precarious his situation is.

The Reading Lessons follows the lives of two people born into a world that is unforgiving as a Hangman’s knot. Divided by skin color and joined by books, Hadley and Lucinda are forced to come together in the only place that will allow it, a land of printed words and dark secrets.

** Coming Summer 2013 **

ETA: Changing this to a link to the trailer! Apparently something’s all funky with the feed. Hopefully this fixes it. TRAILER HERE YAY!


Fun With… Dick and Jane

18 Jul

Oh guys, y’all wonder why I’m sick. This is what my mother gave me when I went home for the Fourth of July:

Dick and Jane and Vampires by Laura Marchesani

This is a thing that exists.

I’m just gonna leave that here and walk away. Oh my.

Bloody Bookish Bits

23 Feb

Ugh way too much alliteration, sorry. But I’m over at Bloody Bookish today waxing philisophical on Women in Horror Month for Blood Chatter.

Okay, it’s not philosophical at all, actually. I just like that expression. Thanks for the chat, Mary!

My planned Women in Horror Month reading is going very well. I’ve been stretching out the Linda Addison stories and poems over the course of the month, but I’m running out now. Looooove the voice in the shorts, and a few of the poems are insta-love so far. Already finished House of Fallen Trees, which was a — okay, this is a weird word to use for a horror story, but it was a delicious haunted house tale. Read Peter the Wolf, which was difficult for a lot of reasons, but extremely well done and more than worth reading. I’m well into Theatre of Curious Acts now — probably polish it off this weekend because it’s just so lovely to read. And then one more, the next Hexslinger installation, and I’m all good.

It’s been a fun month. I gotta remember to do this next year, too. Nice to take a month off and not let myself write anything new, to be honest. Sometimes one really needs a break from the voices. If you know what I mean.

And I know you do.

More Comics, With Bonus Oscar Wilde

12 Jun

Okay, so my pal–known around here as Fredericks–just linked this on her LJ and it might be one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.

Oscar Wilde takes on Jersey Shore, hilarity ensues

I’ve never seen Jersey Shore. It still works. Oh my stomach and throat both hurt so bad from watching that all in one go. Owwwwwww <3

Oh right, but I’m still talking about comics. Well, when it was Vampire Awareness Month, I of course went for the graphic novel approach with my 30 Days of Night review. (I love the movie, but it’s a different animal–which was the point, really.) So yeah, here we go again with the fae:

Gaiman’s Books of Magic: Vertigo’s Magical Mystery Tour

So for those of y’all who like Neil Gaiman (wait, are there any of you who don’t?) but don’t have a lot of experience with comics, it might be a good place to start, really. Good intro to lots of weird DC/Vertigo characters (no foreknowledge necessary), plus a totally standalone story. And John Constantine is, as usual, the absolute shit.

He’s also an absolute shit. But that’s why we love him.

Right, I’d say I’m done, but I’m not, because I’m gonna do a spin-off later. I mean, I’ve got these comics just sitting there staring at me. Might as well go to, right?

Now playing: Interpol – No I in Threesome
via FoxyTunes

DC Comics and Self Doubt

10 Jun

Not as cool as DC Comics and Chocolate Milkshake, but it’s all I got.

Before I get into a comic book ramble, let me ask y’all something:

Have you ever re-read something you’ve written, gone, “This is definitely the best thing I’ve ever done,” and then gotten really, really depressed because you’re pretty sure it’s not any good at all?

Yeah, it must be one of those weeks. I always have them after I’ve been less productive than I’d like, as I most certainly have been over the last few weeks–as previously noted.  Alas!

But there are good things in the world too. Like digital comics. Everyone’s talking about the DC reboot–okay, this isn’t quite as extraordinary as they want us to think, as I’m pretty sure they’ve tried to do this before. Like 12 times. And I’m not sure why they couldn’t just do the Marvel thing and produce an “Ultimate” line–which was one of the coolest things Marvel ever did, seeing as Ultimate Fantastic Four got rid of everything that was annoying about the FF and made it awesome again.

Anyhow, my DC experience is limited compared to some. My brother is a huge fan of the Green Lanterns and Green Arrows (plural on that second one because he was most into it during the Kyle Rayner/Connor Hawke era. And if you’ve ever read Emerald Allies, that slash mark will seem freakishly appropriate. Way to do the fanficcer’s work for them, DC), so I was subjected to those through him. For myself, I bought Uncanny X-Men, Amazing Spider-Man, Robin (Yes, it was Tim back then, I’m not that old), and Superboy every month as a kid, so I was about half and half, but as I got older I developed a definite preference for Marvel. Even when I’m going through one of my five year long temper tantrums.*

But hey, whatever, I’ll bite, DC.

So I got the DC app and started buying digital comics with Flashpoint #1. It’s the official start of the reboot, but the Flash series previous to it did a runup. The basic idea is Barry Allen wakes up and the whole world is DIFFERENT. Geoff Johns and Andy Kubert, so of course it rocks, because it’s Geoff Johns and Andy Kubert, right?

And okay, I’m gonna keep reading it. But I’ll decide for sure after the miniseries is over.

And then there’s the fabulous Barry Napier/Luis Puig Birdwatching from Mars, #1. Which I’ve got loaded up and ready to go on ye olde Kindle App. Mmmm, delicious.

It’s weird, though. I have this huge shelf just outside my office door covered with comics. Mine, my dad’s, stuff I dug out of bargain bins (all my first New Mutants and Alpha Flight runs came from that practice, as I was too young when they were actually running to know they existed), graphic novels. I never, ever thought I’d be okay with digital comics.** Like, isn’t that something you collect? Keep forever? Cherish? I mean, I have my dad’s, right? How cool is that?

I don’t know why I’m okay with it. Maybe because I have too much crap cluttering my shelves as it is. Maybe because I’ve been burned too many times by comics writers, and I think I’ll be less likely to freak out if it’s digital? (See temper tantrums*.) It’s not like these stories mean less to me than the other books I read. For Christ’s sake, I had a Spider-Man tattoo before I ever had my Lord of the Rings one.

I don’t know the answer, man. But I do know that shit looks awesome on the iPad, so I’mma roll with it. Yay, comics!


**I’m actually going to need a print version of Birdwatching, too. But just in terms of DC and Marvel, here…

Now playing: Manic Street Preachers – You Love Us
via FoxyTunes

The Plague and Jane Eyre

11 Apr

Don’t worry, I’m not trying to relate those two things to each other. There’s way too much melodrama in either for my brain to even envision what that’d look like. And I love me some melodrama, god knows.

Anyhow, I’m mostly here to say that the last one was a pretty good week. My life seems full of interesting projects just now, and they keep me busy and happy–which for me are very often the same thing. Scripped is coming on like a freight train (who? me? scared? ha!), RPP‘s just filled its first anniversary issue (and has a kickass serial coming up this weekend), Morrigan Books–I don’t know if I properly announced this, but I’m actually the Query Manager there now and it’s incredible work, honestly.

That makes it sound like I’m busier than I really am. I’m having a great time, is all I mean. Still, I’ve tried to convince myself to take weekends easier and just read. My frenzy over that whole contract singing thing inhibited me a little this time, and I went overboard on the superhero science, maybe. (Lasers are really hard to understand, you guys. They can COOL THINGS.) But I did manage to finally read The Plague, which I really enjoyed. Also, as I bought it at a used book shop, I had the added coolness of finding someone’s bookmark from a few decades ago in it. As a kind of side note, I kept thinking what a sensitive plant Camus must’ve been. I think I would’ve liked the guy.

“What I really want, Doctor, is this. On the day when the manuscript reaches the publisher, I want him to stand up–after he’s read it through, of course–and say to his staff: ‘Gentlemen, hats off!'”

Tell me that’s not adorable.

But this week must be research, as the Sebastian Project I’ve been nattering on about in that vague and irritating way for the last month requires some final detailed touches. I’m diving back into old newspapers already, I mean to say. I shall report from the Library of Congress sometime this week.

Today I read some wonderful stuff to that end and went to see Jane Eyre in a break. It produced the same exact effect that reading the book produced when I was 13. Which is to say that I walked out thinking, “Well, that was fucking depressing”, although I hadn’t actually cried. Good movie, gorgeous, actually. Judging from my reaction, I’d say it can’t be that far off the book, either. (I love the Rochester/Jane romance. Just that the Brontes always hit my saturation point on the whole “yes, your life sucks, I get it” thing pretty fast. Don’t get me wrong, it’s brilliant stuff, but what can I say? Someone in the story needs to not take themselves completely seriously all the time. Must be what makes me an Austen girl…)

Anyhow, not much from me on the twitterverse this week due to absence from my desk, so I’ll miss you. Blogging, however, I must keep up with. I can’t do without you that long, I’m afraid.

Now playing: Franz Liszt – Prometheus, Symphonic Poem No. 5, S. 99
via FoxyTunes

In Which I Read Things

15 Mar

Remember that thing where I was complaining that my back was feeling the bad effects of my self-induced stress? Yeah. I said that because about three or four hours before I wrote that entry, I sat down on the couch, and something just snapped in my back. I mean, the whole area on the inside of my left shoulder blade went numb. And I went, “Oh no.”

Because I know what that means. It means I’m screwed for another four days, at least. And I was supposed to drive up to Philadelphia to meet with writer buddies–in person!!–the next day. Y’all I was inconsolable, and my back was impossible.

Getting old is mostly awesome. But when it comes to that, it sucks.

So anyhow, I figured it was a sign. I needed to relax, and I’ve got piles of books on my counter and my iPad waiting for me. Calling me. Begging me to shirk any and all duty and just give in.

Giving in to temptation is what I do best, let’s face it. So here’s what I read–which is to say, here’s what books have saved the last four days, which should’ve been a painful inescapable hell considering the state of my body, for me. Thank you, intrepid authors of awesomeness!

1. Loathsome, Dark and Deep by Aaron Polson. I feel weird saying too much about this–not because Aaron’s a friend, because that never stops me from disliking anything.* It’s because this particular release is from my own publisher, too. But frankly, this book is fucking awesome, and I’m going to buy it for people for presents. So that’s all I have to say about that. Oh, plus what’s in my review. Which is admittedly sparse. But trust me, I loved it.

2. The Convent of the Pure by Sara M. Harvey. Very cool stuff. It was a badass little adventure, the worldbuilding was top, and I loved the hero. I have the next one, and it’s next on my paper book queue–which is, obviously, separate from my iPad queue, right? If you’ve been looking for something slightly steampunky, do it up, and you won’t regret it. (Also, I always love two amazing women in any tight relationship–lovers, friends, whatever–as a central theme. And I have a feeling most of you would too, so that deserves a mention.) Anyhow, review here!

3. The Rose and the Ring by William Makepeace Thackeray. I’ve gone on at length about my fangirlish feelings for Thackeray. He was mean and funny and did it all with so much style–god. I want to be him. But this is just a little fairy tale he laid out, and when I came across a quote that said “Fairy roses, fairy rings, turn out sometimes troublesome things” (which seemed apt for my own interests, if you know what I mean), I really had to see to what it referred. It’s the moral of this one. And I laughed my ass off the whole way through. My review was minimal, but it’s good fun, and a short read. I have to provide a sample, though…

The Fairy had provided King Giglio with a suit of armour, which was not only embroidered all over with jewels, and blinding to your eyes to look at, but was water-proof, gun-proof, and sword-proof; so that in the midst of the very hottest battles His Majesty rode about as calmly as if he had been a British Grenadier at Alma. Were I engaged in fighting for my country, I should like such a suit of armour as Prince Giglio wore; but, you know, he was a Prince of a fairy tale, and they always have these wonderful things.

Besides the fairy armour, the Prince had a fairy horse, which would gallop at any pace you pleased; and a fairy sword, which would lengthen and run through a whole regiment of enemies at once. With such a weapon at command, I wonder, for my part, he thought of ordering his army out; but forth they all came…

He’s so charming, but such a dick! You gotta love it!

4. Zombie Punter by Zoe E. Whitten. This shit cracked me up so hard–but it wasn’t just that. I genuinely loved the main characters, in particular the two main guys, Jake and G, though I thought the others were extremely well rendered too. I call it zombie fiction crack in my review and I stand by that. It’s funny as hell–but it’s better than that. You got $2 and an hour or two to spend, this is a good bargain.

I mean, it had all my favorite stuff in it. Death and sex. Plus, it was hilarious. I’m sold, man. I think Zoe is releasing the sequel on Friday, too. So hey, good timing!

So now I’ve gone on and on, and my back feels a touch better, and hopefully I’m back to myself officially. Hope you all had a good weekend too–an even better one, uninhibited by back pain!

*I confess that it may stop me from writing a review, but only if it’s REALLY bad. I’ve complained in reviews about books by people I know before, and I’d expect them to do the same. Yes, I say that in the face of my own release. You know I mean it, y’all.

Now playing: Hot Chip – Hold On
via FoxyTunes

Introducing Amory

5 Dec

Here’s a little photoblog action, since my day yesterday was weirdly literary.

I found out just before Thanksgiving that F. Scott Fitzgerald is buried at St. Mary’s in Rockville, which isn’t far from us. Most of y’all know of my Fitzgerald obsession already, since he pops up every time I talk about books and is easily in my top 5 list. Maybe at the very top, which is a conversation Balaji and I had yesterday in the car–but now I’m getting a head of myself. Anyhow, yesterday was a beautiful Saturday, so my husband cheerfully agreed to go on the pilgrimage with me.

Mind you, I’ve been trying to cram The Great Gatsby down his throat for 5 years now with no luck. But he’s a sport and came just the same.

So we got to St. Mary’s which is this weirdly picturesque old church in the middle of downtown Rockville. With an appropriately picturesque little graveyard beside it, naturally.

The Fitzgerald family plot at St. Mary's in Rockville, MD

So we said hi to the nice groundskeeper and wandered a little, but it’s small enough that finding the right grave isn’t so hard. Lo and behold, there lies the man:

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past. - The Great Gatsby

I mentioned on twitter that someone left him Wild Turkey, which we thought was awesome. There was also a Chinese CD, a copy of a biography of his wife, one of those Catholic card things with the BVM* and a prayer on it, and a couple of bouquets of dead roses. I left the guy a thank you note, myself.

The alcohol idea was better, though. Next time, I’ll bring Bushmills.

I don’t know why we do things like this, or why it matters–I wasn’t in the mood to analyze it. It was just cool as hell.

Later in the day it was time to do Christmas shopping. I’ve been wanting an e-reader for–uh, forever. There are several pdf books languishing on my hard drive, etc., etc. I held off on getting a new phone for the last two years, thinking I’d just get one on which I could read things… then the iPad was announced and I knew what I’d been waiting for. And finally, FINALLY, sweet, sweet technology is mine.

Shiny, isn’t it? I was wondering what I’d name it that morning before we left. I tend to name things after artists, like I was telling Cate in her shiny new Kindle purchase post. But after the pilgrimage, there was really only one direction to go with it, wasn’t there? Of course I named it Amory, after Amory Blaine.

Sweet, sweet technology is--wait, I already said that, didn't I?

Amory's freakishly appropriate first download.

Amory wondered how people could fail to notice that he was a boy marked for glory, and when faces of the throng turned toward him and ambiguous eyes stared into his, he assumed the most romantic of expressions and walked on the air cushions that lie on the asphalts of fourteen. -This Side of Paradise

Yeah, it’s definitely an Amory! And hey, Bala’s finally going to read Gatsby, so I gave him an early Christmas gift, too: his Huck Finn Novel-T, which was a surprise I cooked up. (Okay, okay, I got the Gatsby one for myself. Come on, it has the car on it!) So yesterday, overall, was a pretty big win.

And yes. Yes, the iPad is the very definition of awesomeness.

*That’s the Blessed Virgin Mary, for anyone not in the know/without droves of Irish Catholic relatives/who didn’t sit through endless art history lectures all through college.

Things to Buy!

6 Nov

We all like things to buy right? Okay, look, I know your “to-read” piles are just as huge as mine. I really do. But when you see this beautiful book cover, I think you’ll be willing to add one more:

Cthulhurotica from Dagan Books

Pre-order Cthulhurotica from Dagan Books!

And because I can’t help it, yes, that IS my name on the cover, thanks for asking! I had so much fun writing my story for this one–it was one of those rare moments where a story and character hit you wholly formed and it pops out in an hour. (And then you’re left with a mess to fix, but hey, it actually worked out this time!) I’ve been reading the fabulous interviews on the Cthulhurotica site and I cannot wait to see all these stories–not to mention the nonfiction essays. Man, three cheers for Carrie Cuinn. Dagan Books is awesome.

Speaking of awesome, have you got your copy of Cate Gardner‘s Strange Men in Pinstripe Suits yet? Yeah, mine’s sitting right behind me, along with the copy of Triangulation: End of the Rainbow I snagged in one of her lovely competitions. Why, oh why, must I be in the middle of reading something right now?

Oh man.

Right, back to the grind, since I have so much catching up to do. No Nano for me, but I am cheerleading, believe me! I just wanted to come here and squee for a few. Won’t be taking that ability for granted for a few months, at least.

Now playing: Julian Plenti – Games for Days
via FoxyTunes

WIP Wednesday gets its own page

4 Nov

Another long break–I really ought to stop that, but I swear it’s not my fault. This time I was in Durham instead of WV, wandering randomly around the Duke campus and eating curry chips.

I have some problems with the USA. Big ones. The biggest being how hard it is to get curry chips–I mean, we don’t even have a name for it, so I don’t know what to call them but curry chips. Which will confuse/annoy those of you on the other side of the Atlantic, but the whole chips/fries/crisps thing really isn’t my fault. “Fries with curry gravy” just doesn’t cut it.

My point is: the hell, America? Get with the program.

Anyhow, it was fun, but didn’t do a lot for my writing. It’s suffered horrifically in the last month, apart from a brainless attempt to prove myself wrong about being unable to write romance unless it was dark and evil. Brain needed a break from dark and evil, if you know what I mean. But I don’t feel like myself when I’m not writing. So we did the Durham thing, came home, went to see Interpol again tonight, and here I am kind of head-spinny but desperate to write.

But guess what? It’s almost time for the holidays! Grrrrrr.

This edit really needs to get done, though. So in order to shore myself up for what’s coming, I went ahead and made The Resurrectionists their own page. I dunno if that’s the excerpt I’ll keep there–it’s just the one I have edited right now that seems to give some indication of what the book is actually about.

But really I just did it because I have art. I was looking for RPP art and came across S.A. van Muijden and her superfabulous well-dressed gentlemen and… yeah. Had to beg her to cartoon the, well, resurrectionists themselves. So go have a glance at the page, because it is pretty, if nothing else.

Hey, just because they dig up dead bodies doesn’t mean they don’t know how to dress at the theater. Come on, y’all.

Other things of import:
1. I won Louise Bohmer’s The Black Act Choose Your Character Contest!!!! Yeah. I love that book. It’s true. And now I will have a Queen of Samhain to frame.
2. Particular Friends by Camille Alexa totally rocks. It toys with Victorian gender roles (oh wait, I mean modern ones–thanks for that, Vicki, we never did shake it off!) by flipping them around, and gives us adventure and mystery and one of the loveliest little MC’s ever. Speaking of pretty things, check that art out. Yeeeah, Nati is amazing too, it’s true.

I know I’m forgetting lots of things, but I’ll let that be. I’m tired and Interpol’d. There are worse things to be.

Now playing: Interpol – All Of The Ways
via FoxyTunes