Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Picture of a Rose

This one is from one of the bushes we inherited with the house. It's huge.

This rose is the size of a small grapefruit.

Also, an update on the clematus. (Yeah I spelled it wrong last time, sue me. I won't fix it.) 

It's all shocky from the move. Not sure it'll

We have some bees hovering around the flowering sage and that's always nice to see. Some butterflies, too. No hummingbirds yet, though. Keeping my head down for a while longer. Busy. Writing and work. You know. More to come later, not sooner. Bear with me.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Working Inside and Outside

The clymatus we inherited with the house.
I promised you occasional pictures of flowers around our house and I realized I hadn't given you any lately. The clymatus at right was on the mailbox out front and it seemed like a terrible place for such a beautiful flowering vine to be. So limiting. I'd been meaning to move it for three weeks or so since we've had unseasonably warm weather here in Kansas and I finally got it done last night. It's in its new home here on the fence in full sunlight for a great portion of the day. We'll buttress it with morning glorys running down the rest of the fence. And sunflowers.

We're just waiting for the potential last freeze to happen and with lows in the mid- to high-30s this week, we're glad to wait. March was so hot that for a couple of days we had to turn on the air conditioner, which chapped me no end. I've never had to turn on the AC in March. Friggin' March!

Sigh. Anyway, I've been having a blast working outside, getting the flower beds thinned out and mulching everything in sight. Planted a hydrangea that I hope takes off, too. We'll see. The iris need some attention, but we'll get there and the forsythia is going crazy because of the already warm weather. We're looking to acquire a lilac, too. I'll let you know how that goes.

So that's outside. Inside, I finished a draft of the story I've been working on (started in December from a plot I began last fall) and I'm breaking down the plot to see where the particular problems are. My good friend Rachel tells me that 3x5 cards are the way to go when plotting a story and I'm beginning to think I may have to come 'round to that. However, this is my process for now and I'm working with it.

I'm just trying to be a more conscientious author by fixing plot holes before I turn the story in, is all. I have to learn to do things my way though everyone will tell me THE way to do them. At least as far as my writing goes. As I'm working on the breakdown I've noticed that my hero is too whiny in spots and that as I struggled with a few bits, I didn't bother to go back and check to see if I'd done any foreshadowing. That's the kind of stuff I'm working on. Cleaning up the 'by the seat of my pants' writing.

Which means the next story should be A) easier to plot and thus B) easier to write with C) minimal editing before I turn it in. In preparation for that, I'm reading John Byrne's run on Fantastic Four and consulting Lee & Kirby's middle period on the title, too. Oh, boy, is this story going to be good. I heard the term 'radical self-editing' on the radio this morning, too. That's what I'm trying to avoid, I guess. Okay, enough about me.

I read this morning that Big Wreck is coming back. And I Mother Earth. Wow, there are a couple of bands that I wouldn't mind seeing return and score a hit or two, even if it's just on the hard rock stations. I think BW has a better chance of that, but hey - what do I know about music?

What's up with you guys?

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Bits of Books

Just got back from a trip to the bookstore and I have a few thoughts rattling around in the old brainpan.

I'm currently reading Kraken by China Mieville. It starts off dynamically, cooly and weirdly. As with any Mieville book, I'm savoring each page because there are ideas and language that have to be thought through. He makes me think and that's something that lets me keep coming back to his writing. Highly recommended.

I bought a copy of The Hunger Games today. I was going to get it from the library, but there are three copies there with over 65 holds on those three copies. So, I relented and went to the bookstore. (As an aside, there are really only three bookstores left in town that are worth noting. I went to the one closest to the house.) There was quite a display of at least three different versions of the book: hardback, trade paperback and the movie tie-in. I didn't want hardback so I looked at the trade and the tie-in. Based on pricing alone, I bought the trade paperback which was three bucks less (cover price) than the tie-in. I see no reason to buy the tie-in just to have the movie cover if it's more expensive. Weird marketing plan there.

While I was in the bookstore, I went to the so-called Science Fiction section. I say so-called because about 80% of the section was fantasy or urban fantasy, 10% was HALO or Star Wars books and the remaining 10% was actual SF which consisted mostly of Orson Scott Card Ender novels and some Frank Herbert and Philip K. Dick. That's all. It makes me a little crazy that there's not much SF out there. I know it's only one store and certainly not representative of what's going on in the 'real' world, but maybe it's time for Fantasy to have its own section. What do you think?

Don't get me wrong, I think Urban Fantasy is a subgenre that deserves to be recognized. It used to be that it was horror because it tended to involve vampires and werewolves and other supernatural things. I guess the word horror scared people off, because once it became Urban Fantasy, wow. Horror is a whole other genre now that still includes H.P. Lovecraft and now Joe Hill and even Richard Matheson, but I'd argue that even Stephen King wrote Urban Fantasies back in the day. I don't understand the distinction, I guess. Is Urban Fantasy really Horror Lite?

However, while I was in the SF section, I stumbled on a copy of Thomas M. Disch's novel The Prisoner. Yep, it's that Prisoner. Disch is one of the acknowledged SF masters and this'll be the first of his books that I've read. I'm thinking of it as a gateway book to more SF.

The point I'm trying to make here is that even though The Hunger Games and Kraken and The Prisoner are on my radar, there are a ton of books that aren't, and they aren't on the radar of a lot of other people. What's stocked in the bookstores is what people will buy, though not necessarily read. That's why there's more UF than anything else in the SF section. If people went to this particular bookstore to look for a Science Fiction book they hadn't read but had heard about, would they find it? Will they just end up not even going to the bookstore and simply order the book online?

I'll be doing that, for sure, with two books that come out May 25th. I want to be sure that I'll be able to find these books because I want to read them. Bookstores will have to do a better job to keep me coming to them, but I have to tell them what I want and then they have to follow through. It's tough to stock a wide variety of genre when space is so limited and the foot traffic through the store is down so much. Both used book stores in my town are doing booming business both in buying and selling. The best part about both those stores is that I can shop genre books and get lost in there for a while. This bookstore didn't do that for me this time.

Look, I'm rambling. What I want you to understand is that when you go to a store and you don't find what you want, tell the cashier. Hopefully there's a line of communication that will reach the store manager and if enough people want the store to carry things they care about, it'll happen.

I hope. If the science of this doesn't work, maybe I am living in a fantasy world.