Fifteen years ago, I thought Barnes and Noble was second only to Powell’s City of Books (incidentally, if you haven’t been to Powell’s, it’s pretty awesome). The nearest Barnes and Noble to me, back then, was 75 miles away and fuel for the drive there and back cost as much as two paperbacks. I loved the enormity of the store, the fact that they sold coffee, and that amid the spacious sprawl they provided places to sit. The community I lived in had no library back then and my other bookstore options at the time were grocery stores (the nearest mall’s Waldenbooks had vanished) and two used bookshops, one badly disorganized and the other with a cranky, sharp-tongued proprietor (you couldn’t buy sci-fi books there, “trade only!” was the snarling response the two times I tried). Naturally, I was an eager purchaser of books online once that became an option. Continue reading
The way that some people are picky eaters, I’m a picky sci-fi fan. The way others might wrinkle their noses and pluck mushrooms from their casserole, I remove lots of things from my sci-fi buffet. I’d like to like it all. I really would. But I don’t. And I have a confession. I wish I could like Blade Runner. I really do. But I don’t like it and the reason why – tragically – has almost nothing to do with the story itself. I hate the music. While I appreciate the idea of replicants and the exploration of what-makes-us-human, I can’t get past the awful soundtrack. I’ve tried. It’s (to me) so, so, so awful that I don’t plan to ever attempt watching it again, unless it’s muted and I’m just reading the dialogue captions. Continue reading
It was my good fortune to attend the Taos Toolbox workshop in 2014, an experience I give my highest recommendation to anyone considering it. Besides the excellent instruction and critiques, I made some wonderful friends. One of them, my roommate, shared my tastes in music and upon coming home, I queued up her favorite Pandora station: Moby Radio. A year and a half later I am still listening to that channel 95% of the time when I’m on Pandora. It might not be the perfect choice for every writer, but it seems to have an excellent balance of instrumentals against songs with lyrics, and I find myself clicking the ‘thumbs down’ maybe once every six weeks. Continue reading
I’ve discovered that lackluster programs generally lack luster for obvious reasons. Often they’re simply boring. Sometimes the casting and directing isn’t great. Sometimes the characters’ motives are inconsistent, and the story line just doesn’t hang together. For the most part, if I stop watching a show I can usually say why. Shows I love, though, are a little harder to dissect. I’m always on the lookout for what the program is doing right and I’ve been struggling for a while to figure out what, exactly, USA’s law-drama “Suits” is doing to keep me hooked. Continue reading
For anyone new to Goodreads someone once described it to me as “like Facebook without all the dickery, and it’s mostly just for book-lovers.” I suppose that’s just about the best way to sum it up. Instead of finding out my acquaintances’ angst-ridden political views, I can log on to Goodreads and find out what my friends are reading, check out book reviews, and get updates on book-related blogs. It’s not social-networking so much as book-networking, and that’s freaking awesome. Continue reading
There are a lot of great writing workshops out there, too many to try to attend, really. So I was happy to discover that the Odyssey Writing Workshop offers a podcast on some of its lectures. It’s a nice way to get an idea of what to expect if you’re thinking of applying but it’s also a lovely way to pick up on some great writing advice if a six-week workshop isn’t practical for you. The podcasts are produced intermittently, and are some of the best I’ve found when it comes to writing advice.
As a nifty bonus, they have a handy page of writing tips as well.
According to Hugh Howey’s advice, aspiring writers should blog every day. I’m not one to argue with successful authors. The reasons I haven’t blogged more in the past fall into two camps: I don’t have any successful-author advice of my own to share (yet); and the rest of what I have is just strong opinions. But I’m trying to embrace the idea that maybe there’s nothing wrong with a strong opinion or two. So, here goes. Continue reading
A decade ago I read Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. For the first – and, I increasingly suspect, only – time in my life, when I reached the last page I turned back to the first one and started rereading it immediately. I loved the characters, the setting, the adventure, the sense of history intertwined with myth. I loved something woven through it all but it took me ten years to figure out what that something was. Continue reading
I’ve been meaning to say something witty or profound about Worldcon 2015, which was a delightful experience from start to finish. I’m really glad I went, and am equally glad that it was in Spokane which meant a short journey to a relatively familiar place. I enjoyed being part of the writing-critique workshops, helping out with the kaffeeklatches, and meeting some favorite authors (notably, Gail Carriger and Matt Wallace). The other volunteers (and the people in charge of the volunteers) were lovely people to work with and I found having duties to perform helped structure an otherwise overwhelming amount of possibilities. Next Worldcon, I think I’ll arrive a day earlier, if possible.
My only real regret was something beyond my control – the air quality. Spokane was, during Worldcon, home to the worst air pollution in the country. That put a pretty severe damper on outdoor activities for a lot of folks (though, we did enjoy one clear, beautiful morning). I had hoped to do a little more walking and exploring outside – but, aside from that, I had such a good time that I’m looking forward to subsequent Worldcons. I did find the historic carousel, and made several trips to Atticus Coffee.
I’m headed to Spokane in August for WorldCon 2015 and have narrowed down my list of tourist activities (not that I’m going to have time for even these few). Within walking distance, there’s the historic River Front park carousel, which I will absolutely go get in line for, but mostly I want to ride the one tiger it features. (One tiger! One!) Continue reading