January 27th, 2007

can't sleep books will eat me

Book Report #7: Holly Black, Valiant

La. YA books are good; you can cheat and read them quickly.

I like blackholly's work. It's unflinching, and if the endings tend to be a little tidier than I can easily believe, there is certainly no doubt that her otherworld is fickle and unfair and just as arbitrary as it should be. In any book about Faerie, justice needs to be a rare and hard-won commodity.

She's got the knack of limning a character in a few sharp brush strokes; it reminds me of those Chinese paintings where bamboo, animals, landscapes, structures all emerge from a few quick motions of the brush. And while the plot of this struck me as just a little overly coincidental in one or two places, she manages a brutal little tale of betrayal and redemption quite handily.

I do think Val's mom got off lightly, though.

bear by san

impertinent questions, part five

(I'm only going to do one question in this one, because it turned into a wonking great writing craft post.)

Slept nine hours last night, which for me is a massive lie-in; I didn't get up until nine. My body aches from too long horizontal. But I must have needed the rest.

princejvstin: The first line in a book is the second most important line. (The most important line is the last line.) I like the idea you mention, of reading a book with that first sentence as a lens through which the whole thing can be focused.

For me, I have a list of oughtas. (I don't do shoulds, in writing, but I do do oughtas.)

A first line oughta do all these all things:

1) illuminate the theme of the book. This justifies its existence.

2) raise a question. This provides narrative momentum, and brings the reader into the story through the hook of his curiousity. (I theorize that this is the actual mechanism through which a "hook sentence" works. It gets you asking something. Please note, this does not have to be a direct question.

3) begin to develop setting, character, and/or tone.

4) hold the keys to resolution. By which I mean, provide the foundation for circularity or closure.

Poster child in my genre: the first line of Dhalgren which of course is famously also the last line, or a portion thereof.

My pick for the best first line in recent English fiction:

"The primroses were over."

That's from Watership Down, by Richard Adams. It does all of the above--illuminates a primary theme of the book, asks a question (in this case, establishes an ominous air, due to literary associations with primroses and the end thereof, alerts us to the fact that we're in a pastoral setting and what the time of year is and that tiny details of the season and nature will be important to development of the book, and also links up to the end of the book. Boom.

In four words.

Not too shabby.

I'm not nearly that good at it, but here's my collected first lines, so far:

Collapse )

spies mfu facepalm napoleon

impertinent questions, part six

lnhammer: And have, on several occasions, including in the Locus interview. Essentially, I turned 30, lost my job, and realized my marriage was not going so well all within a month of 9/11. You know those things that bring home one's mortality? Anyway, that one cam attendent with the revelation that security is an illusion, so you might as well do what you came here to do. Which in my case, is tell stories.

jillfelice: Sure.

jonquil: I had a string of crappy jobs for people who took insane advantage of me... and also, one or two jobs that I really liked. Also, I had a knack for getting hired by companies that were going out of business. 

guipago: Why not?

I mean, I'm doing what I love and keeping myself and a couple thousand other people entertained. My hobbies (guitar, archery, geocaching) are just that: hobbies. (Which is good, because I royally suck at all of them. *g*)

I can't think of anything I would rather be doing with my life, which is a pretty high accomplishment, I think.

muppetology need bears fozzie & kermit

fourteen ways of looking at a novelist.

Because I am trying very hard not to fret about the February Locus review of Carnival a little bird told me to expect, here is an online review roundup:


slynneblarb totally loathes the book (found it unfinishable) and completely gets it. What a great review!

I love this paragraph with all the love in the world:

I find it very interesting that the deus ex machina is still so widely appealing in our society. Our society is full of people refusing to step-up to bat and take responsibility for their problems. Instead they'd rather someone else fix it for them. Rather sad if you ask me. And yes, I admit to having those urges myself too. I've found though that when you get past that and you take responsibility for, and act on fixing things, damn if you don't come to a resolution.

Is it bad to do a sack dance over a totally negative review?

sbisson obviously got the check I sent....

lenora_rose agrees with my editor. Foiled again!

tigersquirrels.net is short and sweet.

And fadethecat manages an entire book review without a single name. I loved this review too. It makes me want to write books just to make this particular reader chairbounce.

(It's true. Making readers chairbounce is really all I care about.)

Fast Forward I

Boingboing.com of Fast Forward, the first volume in an ambitious new Pyr SF anthology series (out... next week? I think?) with a kind mention of my story, and a rave for Paul Di Filippo.

Fantasybookspot.com also has a review of same, with praise for many stories.

Blood & Iron:

seajules not only reviews it: sie may be my perfect reader. Yes. This is exactly what I meant. Yes. (Some slight spoilers.)
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criminal minds boom

mi-go in an eyepatch?

First sales of the year!

John Joseph Adams has bought the reprint rights to "And the Deep Blue Sea" for an anthology of post-apocalyptic fiction forthcoming from Night Shade Books. It's tentatively titled Wastelands. That might change.

And truepenny and I just heard from Jeff and Ann VanderMeer that they are buying our mi-go brain canister space pirate story "Boojum" for the Dread Pirate Anthology. Jeff asks that I nag remind any piratical writers out there that there is still a month left in the reading period.

Ahoy, mateys! Submit!