I heard the rumbling guns. I saw the smoke,
The unintelligible shock of hosts that still,
Far off, unseeing, strove and strove again;
And Beauty flying naked down the hill
From morn to eve: and the stern night cried Peace!
And shut the strife in darkness: all was still,
Then slowly crept a triumph on the dark—
And I heard Beauty singing up the hill.
This post first appeared at the Novelists, Inc. blog.
On October 14th, I was on a train from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. so I could attend CapClave, sponsored by the Washington Science Fiction Association.
It’s a fairly small conference if you’re used to behemoths like Dragon Con. CapClave usually features two tracks of panels and one of readings, as well as some special events and of course a dealers’ room. You might well ask me why I might want to attend, as a professional; what benefit do I gain? Why don’t I go to DragonCon, instead?
I know myself. I know that I am somewhat of an introvert (like many writers) and will have a better time at a smaller con. I will be more relaxed, and find it easier to interact with smaller groups of people. It’s more fun for me to network in this more intimate atmosphere, and that’s a benefit, as people can sense when you’re uncomfortable.
Aside from meeting new people, there will be a lot of other authors and readers there whom I have met before. Many of them, I only see at conventions; some of them, I only see at CapClave. Attending each year means I can keep up the connection. Some authors and readers attend several conventions a year, for instance a selection of those held up and down the East Coast of the United States. Over a period of time, familiarity lends a pleasant sense of coziness to these events, and friendships develop. All networking needn’t lead to friendship, but it’s a nice bonus.
In addition, traveling to conventions can establish a beachhead in another city. For example, if should I want to give a reading at a bookstore in the D.C. area, and perhaps request some publicity for it, I could contact CapClave organizers, WSFS members, or regular attendees who live in the area. I wouldn’t be a random emailer; they would know my name and face. For Boston, there are the organizers and attendees of Boskone and Arisia. And so on, for quite a few large cities. In return, I can provide the same service for Philadelphia (and have done so).
It’s the circle of (convention) life! Cue music.
I have successfully lent a Kindle book!
A friend of mine in Minneapolis recently purchased a used Kindle. We share many tastes in romance and speculative fiction, so we decided to give the lending function a try. We went through our respective lists of e-books and compared what we had. It was a little amusing to see that we had several of the same books already.
The major flaw of Kindles, as most people know, is that they use a proprietary format for e-books, and only allow sharing on a limited basis. However, when a Kindle is what you have, even the limited sharing can be useful. (I have a Kindle rather than a Nook or other reader because I received Amazon gift certificates, which made it much cheaper for me.)
Here’s the basic information on lending from Amazon’s website: “Eligible Kindle books can be loaned once for a period of 14 days. The borrower does not need to own a Kindle — Kindle books can also be read using our free Kindle reading applications for PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android devices. Not all books are lendable — it is up to the publisher or rights holder to determine which titles are eligible for lending. The lender will not be able to read the book during the loan period.”
As it turned out, several of the books I would have liked to lend her were from publishers who did not allow lending. However, eventually we decided on a book by an author my friend had read before, with mixed results–in other words, a book she likely wouldn’t have bought for herself, but wouldn’t mind trying. Incidentally, the book was from an electronic-only publisher that specialized in romance.
Once we’d found a lendable book she wanted to read, the rest was very easy. She emailed me the address she uses for her Kindle. I went into “Manage Your Kindle,” found the book, and from its action menu chose “lend this book.” A window opened where I could enter her Kindle’s address. I sent the book, and it was done!
Two weeks later, I got a message stating the book had been “returned” to me. Easy. It’s not such a great feature I’d recommend Kindle over other e-readers, but if you already have one, it’s useful.
If you missed it on Friday, at The Criminal Element I chatted about Maria Duenas’ novel The Time in Between.
And now, fun with personality tests!
If you’re ever feeling at a loss about a character – either one you’ve already created, or one you need to create – an excellent way to jumpstart your thought process is to look at the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. MBTI basics.
You can imagine you’re the character, then take the test. Whatever result you get can help you to figure out how the character will act and react in given situations. It can also be a lot of fun to take two characters of very divergent types and see what tensions are created simply by the different ways they deal with the world.
There’s no law, of course, saying you have to go strictly by the results you get for any given character. But it can be a useful guideline.
And if you don’t want to bother with quite so much work, another option is to look at a list that describes various personality types for different horoscopes or birth years.
The Island of Skyros
Here, where we stood together, we three men,
Before the war had swept us to the East
Three thousand miles away, I stand again
And hear the bells, and breathe, and go to feast.
We trod the same path, to the selfsame place,
Yet here I stand, having beheld their graves,
Skyros whose shadows the great seas erase,
And Seddul Bahr that ever more blood craves.
So, since we communed here, our bones have been
Nearer, perhaps, than they again will be,
Earth and the worldwide battle lie between,
Death lies between, and friend-destroying sea.
Yet here, a year ago, we talked and stood
As I stand now, with pulses beating blood.
I saw her like a shadow on the sky
In the last light, a blur upon the sea,
Then the gale’s darkness put the shadow by,
But from one grave that island talked to me;
And, in the midnight, in the breaking storm,
I saw its blackness and a blinking light,
And thought, “So death obscures your gentle form,
So memory strives to make the darkness bright;
And, in that heap of rocks, your body lies,
Part of the island till the planet ends,
My gentle comrade, beautiful and wise,
Part of this crag this bitter surge offends,
While I, who pass, a little obscure thing,
War with this force, and breathe, and am its king.”
This book which I didn’t finish had perfectly fine prose. It had decent worldbuilding, as in, it had Steampunky Things that were presented gradually as part of the action. It had good characterization. Alas, it had All The Steampunky Things That Are Steampunk. As in, if you were reading this and playing Steampunk Bingo, everybody would win in about twenty pages. Probably less. In other words, it was all the same as every other steampunk novel that I’ve tried to read. My lack of interest built up like steam in a boiler that’s having digestive issues.
2. What! Steampunk/Romance/Flavor of the Month Sub-Genre?!
The writing was good in this one, too. However, see above. There were All the Steampunky Things. Even though the Steampunky Things were clearly just window-dressing. Apparently the author thought a story could not claim to be steampunk without them. In an attempt at mitigation, the narrator admitted the Steampunky Things made no sense in the society as presented…more than once. And we hadn’t even got to the flavor-of-the-month sub-genre. Also? A clever mashup tag line does not a story make. So I stopped reading.
3. At least this one wasn’t steampunk.
Active heroine? Alas, no. Only a martyred one, with stereotypically troublesome family. It may have improved later. I didn’t stick around to find out.
4. Same old, same old.
5. Ummm…interesting biology you have, there.
It’s true this book was in the middle of a series I hadn’t read. But still. The biology didn’t make sense, except to create plenty of angst. I mean, it really really didn’t make sense. So I guess the series will eventually end because the species won’t survive. I didn’t stick around to find out.
6. I don’t usually nitpick historicals, but really, no self-respecting researcher of World War One would fail to note this mistake.
Steampunk story set in 1880s, in an England with only tiny differences from reality. Not one but two characters are wearing trench coats. *buzzer*
I had a new post up at The Criminal Element over the weekend: A Remembrance of Magnums Past.
I’m attempting to compile a list of mystery series that are set during World War One or shortly afterwards (say, through the 1920s) that refer back to the war or the resulting social changes. I am looking for suggestions! Doesn’t matter if you liked the series or not.
Here’s what I have so far:
–Anne Perry’s WWI series
[tried, didn't get into]
–Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs series
[read first one, got depressed, didn't read any more]
–Catriona McPherson’s Dandy Gilver series
[read a later volume in the series for review, will read more]
–Charles Todd’s two series (Inspector Rutledge and Bess Crawford)
[am a couple volumes into the Rutledge series; first of Crawford series is on order]
–Suzanne Arruda’s Jade Del Cameron series
[first in series is on order]
–Kerry Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher series
[read several volumes]
Anyone have further suggestions for this list? If you could tell me a little about the books, as well, that would be great.
On Twitter, @Yagathai suggested “The first book in the John Madden series, by Rennie Airth. River of Darkness.”