~~ "She has so many aliases, you'd think she was a spy!" ~~

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Comfort books

I spent most of November reading for work—I was invited to pitch a story idea for an anthology in another author’s world, but I hadn’t read any of the books in that world since, ooh, 1995-ish?* I had thirteen on hand, plus I got one out of the library, although no, I didn’t read them all. I dipped in and out, asked questions, and eventually wrote a fully formed idea. I also had a vague idea that had been niggling in the back of my head, so I went ahead and pitched that as well…

Yeah. You know which one they picked. But it’ll be more fun to write because I don’t really know what it’s all about!

But that’s not what I wanted to ramble about. There are a lot of things I want to ramble about, actually, as I ponder how the holiday season affects me: ritual, family, darkness and light, spirituality, death, snow/cold. A dozen different blog posts float through my head. Many are interconnected.

Most come back to story. Which doesn’t surprise me in the least.

My usual traditional holiday reading is The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper. Most years, I try to read all five books in the sequence, but that one is the most meaningful to me, set in a cold, snowy British winter. I remember finding these books in my school library; not sure if it was 8th or 9th grade. They built on Tolkien and Lloyd Alexander to solidify my fascination with Britain, especially Wales, and the deep magic there.

This year, though, I find myself drawn to other books. I’m not sure how to explain it except to call them comfort reading. Books that pull you down into the story and the characters and you’re there and they’re real, and it’s not so much that you can’t stop turning the pages as you’re not even aware of turning the pages. Magic, yes, but often a more subtle magic.

I moved my office upstairs at the beginning of the year, and as part of that created a wall of books (there are more bookcases on other walls, but one wall is all shelves), and in the process went through all of the fiction we have. I did get rid of a few things. I also found things I hadn’t really thought about, even though they were in a wall of bookshelves in my downstairs office, right there.

I’m reading Pamela Dean’s Tam Lin right now, because a few months ago I was staring at the shelves and it…called to me. I read at least the first chapter right there, as if under a spell. When I finished reading for work and looked around for the next book to read, that was the one I wanted. Not the 200+ books in my To Read bookcase in the upstairs landing, oh no. Tam Lin, dammit.

After that, I think it’ll be The Wood Wife by Terri Windling. I’ve been reading her blog for the past few months, so that seems…right.
 I’m not sure what I’ll choose after that. I find myself rejecting books I love as being “not right,” even as I can’t define what’s “right,” what’s “comfort.” Some, despite how I love them, are too dense. I don’t want dense or deep. (I don’t want fluff, either, really.) I just turned and stared at the shelves. Neverwhere (Gaiman), maybe? Kushner’s Swordspoint? (Why not both?)

I can’t quite put my finger on the common thread of these books. I can feel it, I can almost describe it, but then it slips away. Mythic fiction, maybe?

Do you have comfort books? What are they? What do they have in common, and why do you love them so?

--*Which is not to say the reading was arduous—I enjoy this author immensely. It’s just that if I’d had my way, I wouldn’t have necessarily binged on this author for a month straight.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

In which you're spared hearing me sing karaoke

It’s here, it’s here! Remember when I linked to a free podcast of my story “The Sound of My OwnVoice”? Well, the whole anthology of urban fantasy stories from Fiction River, Hex in the City, edited by the phenomenal Kerrie Lynn Hughes, is now available for sale!

Here’s what I wrote for the intro to my story…

Years ago a humor blogger relayed a tale about drunkenly singing karaoke with friends, to the point of rolling around on the stage. Sadly, there’s no logical progression to how my brain forms ideas—it’s rather like the Underpants Gnomes on South Park (Phase 1: Collect Underpants. Phase 3: Profit). Here, it was Phase 1: Drunken Karaoke. Phase 3: Woman Who Has No Idea She’s a Siren Because She’s Been Told Never to Sing Gets Drunk, Sings Karaoke, Then Hot Guy Stops Her, and Then Stuff Happens. I found the rest of the story as I wrote it.

(I have been told this is a novel. In fact, it will be…eventually. For now, you get the short story, and by the gods you will be thankful for it!)

This anthology, though… It’s all I can do not to drop everything I’m doing and start reading. Holy shitballs! I mean, just look at this table of contents:

Foreword: Puzzle Pieces, Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Introduction: Hexen & Magick, Kerrie L. Hughes*
King of The Kingless, Jay Lake
Speechless in Seattle, Lisa Silverthorne
Thy Neighbor, Nancy Holder
Somebody Else’s Problem, Annie Bellet
A Thing Immortal As Itself, Lee Allred
Geriatric Magic, Stephanie Writt
Red As Snow, Seanan McGuire
Music’s Price, Anthea Sharp
The Sound of My Own Voice, Dayle A. Dermatis
The 13th Floor Problem, Dean Wesley Smith
Dead Men Walking, Annie Reed
One Good Deed, Jeanne C. Stein
Fox and Hound, Leah Cutter
The Scottish Play, Kristine Kathryn Rusch

*Kerrie, if you have a website, I failed to find it…so sorry….

Monday, December 09, 2013

Catmas carols

Apparently drunk on tea and manic creativity, I just flooded Twitter and FB with Catmas carols.

In case anyone wants to see the whole bunch, I'm copying them here.

And I'm going to stop now, because I don't want to tell my copyediting client he's not getting his manuscript back tomorrow.

Kitten purrs, kitten purrs/Purring all the way/Oh what joy it is to hear a kitten purr today, hey! #catmascarols #jinglekittens

Kitten purrs, kitten purrs/It’s purring time by the heater/Purr and purr/Hear them purr/Soon it will be Catmas Day. #catmascarols #silvercats

O holy cats, the kittens are a-purring/It is the night of the sweet kitten’s purr…/Fall on your knees! Oh, give the kitten scritchies! #catmascarols #oholycats

God rest ye merry, gentlecats/Let nothing you dismay/Remember Bast, our Savior/Looks over us this day. #catmascarols #merrygentlecats

O come all ye kittens/Joyful and purricious/O come ye, o come ye/To eat gooshy food. #catmascarols #comeallyekittens

We three cats who rule your house are/Bearing gifts we traverse afar/Couch to armchair/Your fav’rite rug there/A hairball inside your boudoir. #catmascarols #wethreecats

We wish you a Merry Catmas, we wish you a Merry Catmas, we wish you a Merry Catmas, and a Treat—filled New Year! #catmascarols #merrycatmas

Do you hear what I hear?/A cat, a cat/Purring by the fire/With a sound as big as a lion. #catmascarols #doyouhearacatpurr

Last Catmas, I gave you a mouse/The very next day, you threw it away/This year, to save me from tears/I’ll give you a squishy hairball. #catmascarols #lastcatmas

Feed the cats/Let them know it’s Catmastime. #catmascarols #feedthecats #catcharitysongs #cataid

12 bowls of wet food/11 laps to sit on/10 catnip treats/9 laser pointers/8 beds to nap in/7 fish a-swimming/6 turkey drumsticks/5 HOURS OF SCRITCHIES/4 feather toys/3 paper bags/2 mouse-shaped things/and a pardon for climbing up the Yule treeeee #catmascarols #12daysofcatmas
Edit: I'm adding everyone's offerings as I see them!

Oh catmas tree oh catmas tree, with branches made of catnip, your shiney bells to me foretells, tumbling through and backflip.... (Vicki-Marie Petrick)


Away in a catbox I don't use my beds
This sweet little kitty digs, spatters and shreds,
The season's for giving and so I will leave
Turds, birdies, and dead mice for you to receive.

The humans are moaning, they say it's a mess
But these are the gifts that I proudly profess
And you'd better like it or you'll get instead
Some cat barf and hairballs right smack in your bed.

(Meg Burns)