Les Semaines

November 13, 2005

what I'm thinking and doing § what I'm listening to § what I'm reading
what I'm writing § retrospective: old journal

 §

WFC and After

I take a plane trip. And so, a cold.

Just when I have a million things to say, I'm sick with a cold. I should never travel. Every time I do, I get sick. I bet Christina thinks I'm always sick, because every time I see her (except when she comes here) I have a cold or a flu or once pneumonia though we didn't know it at the time. All because I had recently been on a plane on my way to meet up with her. I swear it. I'm really hardly ever sick.

So anyway, I'm sick again. And worse, sick at a time that I can't take a sick day. I got Friday off as a holiday, and that was the day I got really sick. I was exhausted enough from the trip to take some time off, but alas, I had meetings scheduled all week, and so couldn't take the time. Thursday I thought I was going to keel over (well, it's just a cold, but you know how lousy you can feel) but I had two meetings to hang in there for. Sigh.

So was it all worth it? Well, except for not getting much writing at all done this week, most decidedly so.

First off, I really liked Madison. The hotel was in a great location. Near good coffee, the lovely state capitol. Lots of fun shops (I bought some rings for my thumbs so now I have rings on every finger!), restaurants, and Leslie and I even went to the Farmer's Market on Saturday morning, which we both really enjoyed.

The weather was warm, and we got cheese curds fresh enough to squeak on our teeth.

The conference itself was pleasant. I only went to a few panels as I've never really found any of them that profound. I go when I find the topic or the panel members irresistable, but otherwise manage to entertain myself elsewhere. This time I went to several very enjoyable readings. I got to see some people I like very much, including former Clarion West students and instructors. I got to see Charles de Lint and his wife MaryAnn Harris and their friends play a long fun evening of music. I drank some good free scotch. I went to too many parties and talked too much. My paralyzing inability to make small talk decided, mostly, to take a holiday. Leslie and I stayed up late late late every morning talking. No sleep. Sigh. But a very good time.

And partway through I decided there were four things I really wanted to do before I left. One was to ask a writer if he would read my novel. He would (he is such a kind person). One was to ask another if she would (she cannot, but promises to read it and write a blurb should it be accepted). One was to ask some recording advice (kindly given). The final was to ask the editor of a small press whose publications I admire if he would be willing to read my out-of-print second collection, Spells for Clear Vision and consider it for republication in the U.S. (he would). So, wow, clear goals attained.

I also hoped to schmooze with editors and publishers and agents and while I talked to many I wasn't quite ready for pushing. The novel's nearly ready, but not like that. And conversation and observance did make me decide that there are places/people that I'd rather not send it to, so that's an accomplishment, too. I have ideas of where to send it, but I'm going to have to send it cold. I can do that.

last week's thinking and doing § next week's thinking and doing

Listening

The new Kate Bush album is really lovely. idiocyncratic of course, but delightful listening.

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

John Dickinson's young adult fantasy novel, The Cup of the World, is the tale of a beautiful aristocratic young woman, who as the only heir of a nobleman, who needs to decide who to marry. She rejects all her suitors, but then runs away with a man she has only met before in dreams. This causes a huge uproar not only in her family, but in her society. I wanted to like this more than I did. I couldn't get caught up in the world or characters.

Sally Gardner's children's fantasy novel, I Coriander, is the delightful tale of a girl whose young life is tangled with the fey. Set during the time of Cromwell, when her mother dies her Royalist father is advised to take a Roundhead wife. This wife turns out to be a horror, and when her father disappears for political reasons, Coriander is left to fend for herself. However, she has a gift of silver slippers, which take her into a fairyland; however, she is not safe there, either. I thoroughly enjoyed this story.

Scott Westerfeld's young adult novel, Peeps, follows the tale of a young man who is the carrier of a vampire virus--hence he cannot touch anyone for fear of infecting them. He has joined a secret force dedicated to capturing vampires so they don't infect anyone else. This is engagingly written, and a different take on the vampire mythos that I found myself enjoying despite a thorough lack of interest in things vampiric.

Jonathan Carroll's fantasy novel Glass Soup is the follow-up to a novel I adored, White Apples. Here a pregnant woman and her partner must save their unborn son--prophesied to cause the defeat of the force of Chaos, that has suddenly become self-aware and is actively trying to destroy the universe (really, it's far more engaging and human than this sounds). The characters are inperfect, human, intriguing, surprising. It started off well. However, later on the novel felt to me like it was spinning its wheels and that it just simply ended rather than came to a conclusion. I half-hope half-dread that there will be another novel to continue this series. Hope because I loved White Apples so very much that I can't bear to see it end like this. Dread because I fear it might not get better again. This was such a disappointment. I hope that some of that was the circumstances under which I read this (travelling, lack of sleep, fractured times, etc.) I hope to give it another chance to engage me better sometime.

Graham Joyce's The Limits of Enchantment is one of the best novels I've read this year. The story of a young woman adopted by a midwife/hedgewitch growing up in the late 60s/early 70s rural Britain when things get more and more difficult for traditional ways to survive the forces of Progress. Hippies arrive and start a commune nearby. Men come to court her. A young woman dies who has come to the midwife for an abortion, and the village reacts. This was a thoroughly real and magical novel. Graham Joyce has totally won me over with this one.

Marcus Sedgwick's children's novel, The Book of Dead Days follows the fortunes of a magician's assistant as his master grows more and more distressed at an imminent deadline. With the assistance of a new friend he met in the theatre, Boy stumblingly unravels the mystery of his master's panic. This one didn't work very well for me, despite a good evocation of Boy's milieu.

Adam Stemple's fantasy novel, Singer of Souls begins with a guitar player breaking his heroine addiction and fleeing to his grandmother's house in Edinburgh to get away from his past. Of course, not only does his past addiction follow him, but his musical talent--he's able to make a living as a busker making up songs about people for payment--attracts the attention of the fey folk, and he's given the ability to see them. His life becomes more and more complicated as he encounters the Queen of Fairies and a fey-folk-killing priest. This is one of the most cleanly written and assured first novels I've ever read, and it has a surprising ending.

Cherie Priest's dark fantasy novel Four and Twenty Blackbirds follows the life of an orphaned girl who sees three ghosts as she discovers her own and her family's past. Brought up by an aunt who doesn't want to talk about her mother and pursued by a crazy cousin who is trying to kill her, she works hard to put the pieces together to figure out what her story really is. Enjoyable.

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

Two batches of poems rejected. Poems submitted elsewhere. Poems recorded. Out of print collection sent out for reprint consideration. New poem started. Not much finished. A couple of minor-ish revisions.

Novel work done on Tuesday evening with Karen at the tea house and a wee bit today, done here because of my cold. Not nearly enough done this week!

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Retrospective: old journal

On hiatus again. Sorry. Back next week, I hope.

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