I Write For An Awesome Fanzine

…And you should follow it. Here’s some of what we were up to last week:

Every Monday is a new post of our Favorite Things .  We take turns sharing what we are in love with from the previous month.  The downside?  My to-read/watch list has grown.  I didn’t need that.

On Tuesday morning, I was on deck with my review of the gorgeous Winter Tide.  Long story short, this is a beautiful book, and I enjoyed every word of it.

Our second post on Tuesday was an especially fabulous one.  Fellow contributor Stephanie M. Wytovich won the Stoker Award for her poetry collection, Brothel.  Congratulations, Stephanie!!

Wednesday kicked off with a discussion of Nebula nominated film, Kubo and the Two Strings, courtesy of Lane Robbins.  What did she think?  Clicky the link and find out.

We closed out Wednesday with Merrin’s review of Runtime, another Nebula nominee. (Why yes, we are reviewing as many of the Nebula nominees as possible.)

On Thursday, Nicole Taft took us on another visit behind the scenes at your favorite bookstore with her ongoing Welcome to the Bookstore series.  This installment discussed the latter stage of a book’s lifecycle within the retail world: the part where some of them have to be returned.

Later that same day, J.L. Gribble shared her thoughts The Circle. (She also beautifully curates that column each week, no matter how many of us caught whatever the newest thing was.)

And on Friday, our resident Life Coach, Sherry Peters, offered some of her signature wise advice.  Sherry is a Certified Life Coach, loves you, and wants you to be happy.  Write to her at coachsherry@sherrypeters.com for all of your writing woes.

This AND MORE can be yours for the low price of free.  I am honored to work with such brilliant individuals and am humbled by their creativity and intelligence.  Check us out at speculativechic.com – new content every weekday.

Dispatch From the Price Palace

Well then!  It’s been far too long since I checked in, and for that I apologize.  Funny thing about crazy weather: it leads to crazy illnesses.  I have dodged the flu bullet so far (thanks flu shot!), but the pressure changes and unreliable temperature patterns have led to multiple headache days for yours truly.  I’ve also been working my tail feathers off at the Day Job.  The flu is practically an epidemic in my home state.  Schools are closing, people are boldly venturing out in masks, and my pharmacy has been ultra busy.  The latter is compounded by a coworker being out sick for the last week.

Plus, Mr. Price is getting ready to leave on an adventure of epic proportions (more on that another time), so we’ve been doing a lot of preparations for that trip.  This has included descending into a nigh doomsday prepper level of food preservation.  I have learned a great deal.  For example, a huge can of green beans dries down to just enough to fit in a sandwich sized Ziploc bag.  Also, there is definitely a difference between generic and name brand canned corn.  I’m surprised.

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I’m still well within my goal of one book per week in 2017.  Some recent picks included Genevieve Cogman’s The Invisible Library and two novellas: Passing Strange  by Ellen Klages and Final Girls by Mira Grant.  The latter of these was obtained via Humble Bundle’s newest Fantastic Fiction bundle.  It’s a fantastic deal and you should pick it up if you get a chance.  It’s more than worth it.  (PS: Look for reviews of the two novellas by yours truly on Speculative Chic sometime in March!)

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As for The Invisible Library, I tore through it madly.  It was supposed to be a placeholder until my copy of S. Jae-Jones’ Wintersong arrived.  I expected to like it, but I didn’t expect to get a stay-up-too-late, read-obsessively sort of story.  It was amazing.  I immediately ordered the next two books in the series: The Masked City and The Burning PageI did start reading Wintersong when it arrived, and I’m enjoying it, but the back of my brain is simply itching to get back to Cogman’s series.  I’ll probably review Wintersong here, though, so keep an eye on this spot.

(You should keep an eye on this spot anyway, I’m awesome.  Ha ha.)

She Wasn’t Mine

Star Wars wasn’t my fandom.

Oh, I saw most of the movies.  I watched Episodes IV – VI with my father and brother when they were re-released in theaters when I was in high school.  I had watched A New Hope at some point in my childhood and…

…it didn’t go well.  It scared the ever-loving snot out of me, to the point where I avoided most space-centric fiction unless somebody else happened to be involved.  My father and childhood best friend both liked Star Trek, so I got a fair amount of exposure to that particular corner of nerd.  Other than that?  Space was not my friend.

Not until Firefly.  However, I would argue that Firefly was more of a western anyway.  But that’s neither here nor there for the purpose of what I’m doing today.

So no, Star Wars wasn’t mine, and as such, Carrie Fisher wasn’t mine.  I re-watched Episode IV last week with my husband and a friend and while I enjoyed the experience a great deal, I believe that Rogue One will be the Star Wars movie of my heart.  If there is a scrappy female to thank for me getting into the franchise this late in the game, well, that honor goes to Jyn Erso.  Anyway, after my viewing of EpIV last week, I was in awe of Leia and her completely unimpressed attitude at her supposed rescuers.  She’s resourceful and tough, and I wish that I had grown up with her the way that some of my best friends did.  I went home that night and purchased Fisher’s memoirs (all three volumes).

Then I learned about her marvelous writing career beyond her personal accounts (which are marvelous).  Her work as a script doctor.  Her unabashed transparency about her own mental demons and struggles.  Wow, I thought.  Carrie Fisher is pretty damned awesome.

Tragically, 2016 attacked and swept Fisher away just as I was starting to truly understand how fantastic she is.  I am saddened at her death, and I wish that I could claim her as a role model the way that so many of my peers in fandom do.

Lizzie Borden Took an Axe…

…and gave Cthulhu forty whacks.  Sort of.

If you haven’t read Cherie Priest’s marvelous Maplecroft, you are doing yourself a disservice.  I purchased the novel when it first came out.  I started reading it in December of 2014.  Then, unfortunately, Jay and I had to make an emergency trip to Texas for what turned out to be our last visit with his grandfather.  When I was throwing things together for us to leave, I didn’t pack Maplecroft. It was an oversight.  By the time we returned home to Virginia, I was reading Amy Poehler’s Yes Please.  Somehow, I never picked Maplecroft back up at any point during 2015.

Then our kitchen caught fire late last year, leading to extreme smoke damage throughout that level of our home.  Most of my books were ruined.  Maplecroft, fortunately, was among the books in our basement bedroom.  It miraculously survived with zero smoke damage and was returned to us in good condition.  I decided to pick it up last week after coming across it by chance.

Isn’t it pretty?  I adore this cover.maplecroft

The novel is fantastic as well.  I didn’t remember enough about it to simply pick up where I had left off (and my place had been lost anyway), so I began again.  It’s chilling!  Priest is an amazing writer.  This reminds me a great deal of Dracula (one of my favorite novels), both in style and mood.

I’m really enjoying the experience of reading this, too.  I’ve taken to reading primarily via e-book in the last several years.  I simply do not have the space to house as many books as I would love to own.  This, though, I am reading via dead tree format.  There’s a certain joy to be had in carrying around and showing off a book that one is reading.  Don’t get me wrong; I love reading with my Kindle and iPad.  It’s efficient, easy on my hands and wrists, and super convenient.  Reading something on paper, though, gives the experience a warmth and tactile pleasure that’s missing with e-books.  Also, I’m one of those wicked readers who enjoys underlining the especially important or meaningful passages in books.  You can underline with Kindle editions, but nothing’s as satisfying as marking a significant passage in a favorite book.

Here are a few lines that I especially loved from early in Maplecroft:

…I fear to the point of fretful, bowel-clenching sickness that I might chase her away even without the secrets that darken the space between us.

and

…I value beyond my life the time I spend with her beside me.

(pages 4-5)

Beautiful, old-fashioned lines, both of them.  Priest has gorgeously captured the language of this era.  She is one of those authors who is able to skillfully shape her prose to match her story.  I love it.  If you haven’t read her fiction before, give it a try.  Don’t care for Lovecraftian historical fantasy?  Maybe old west steampunk is more your speed?  Try Boneshaker and sequels.  Like comics and smart YA stories?  I Am Princess X might be for you.  Urban fantasy addict?  Bloodshot and Hellbent deserve your time (though, be warned: I don’t think there will be any more of those).

Baby’s First Star Wars

Something monumental has happened in my life.  Spouse, an avowed anti-Star Wars individual, accompanied me last Saturday evening to the opening of Rogue One, which I enjoyed very much.  I asked him what he thought afterward.

“It was okay,” he said.  “As a movie, it was awesome.  As a Star Wars thing…meh.”

My response was probably something along the lines of “MEH?”

I will spare the finer details (largely because I have mostly forgotten them at this time), but suffice to say that Jay had no problem telling me that he thought the entire Star Wars franchise was dumb, the special effects were stupid, and it was doubtlessly overrated.  I didn’t get offended, exactly, but I was a little annoyed.  This is probably because I was fairly sure that Jay hadn’t seen any other SW films.  I was half correct.  He has seen Phantom Menace, but he only remembered it because of the pod racing sequence and Jar-Jar.

Cut to this evening.  We typically spend our Thursdays playing board games with our friends Bill and Lissa.  This evening, sadly, Lissa had to work.  So we made alternate plans.  We would hold movie night at Bill’s, so that I could finally see The Force Awakens (yes, I am fairly sure that I am one of the last members of High Nerd society to have not watched it – last year was a bad year for us).  Instead, upon discovering that Jay hadn’t seen, or didn’t remember seeing, Episodes IV-VI, we ended up watching A New Hope.  (This was a plan leftover from last Thursday, but Jay came down with a migraine.)

Here’s the amazing part: Jay liked it.  I think part of him learning to appreciate it came from me leaning over, looking him in the eye and saying “Malcolm Reynolds would never have existed without Han Solo.  Also Chewie is basically a smarter Jayne with a better conscience.”  He has now agreed to watch the other films.  He even said that he would, and I am quoting directly here, “Enjoy that a lot.”  I have proposed having schnapps on hand if we decide to add Episodes I-III to the mix.  Bill seemed amicable to that plan, so who knows.  Drunk Attack of the Clones?  Why not.

Taking Myself Seriously

I am excited and pleased to announce that I have enrolled in my first proper fiction writing class.

I am also nervous and might throw up.

The class is led by two women with strong voices in the science fiction / fantasy community.  I admire both of them a great deal.

NO PRESSURE, CASEY.

 

My Somewhere

Fun fact!  When you’re attempting to build your online persona, you have to keep tweaking it until you get what you want out there for the whole world to see.  Another fun fact: sometimes you make missteps.  This is why I’ve trashed two posts of mine from this space.  I didn’t like the tone of the second half of the series, so I trashed the entire two-part set.  I don’t believe in deleting problematic material.  One of my literary heroes, Georgia Mason from Mira Grant‘s Newsflesh series, values the truth above all things.  I am not ashamed to admit that I do occasionally ask myself “What would Georgia do?” when it comes to dealing with how I present myself in this particular space.  It’s tough!  When I’m writing for Speculative Chic, it’s not so much pressure.  I have an amazing group of peers and a fantastic editor that keeps things rolling.  Here?  It’s just me.  Hell, I can’t even settle on a proper title for my solo blog just yet.  This is why the placeholder title.  Eventually I will figure out how to do this.

As I mentioned above, I’m building my online persona right now.  I’ve been using the Internets for years, like most of my age group, but this is the first time that I’m stepping out into the spotlight and attempting to do something with it.  I’m not hiding behind childish screen names any longer.  I’m presenting myself.  It’s not easy to figure out what to put out there and what to hold back.  The two posts that I talked about trashing in the earlier paragraph were trashed because they contained an attitude that I didn’t really want to put out there.  I don’t want to be seen as a complainer or a whiner.  I want to be able to complain about important things.  I want, if that day should come, for my complaints to be about valid things that I have enough clout to speak about and stand behind.  I don’t want to fuss about petty crap that nobody really cares about.  It’s a learning process.  I know that there are going to be times when I’m going to be unhappy with something and I’m going to be tempted to take to this spot and vent about it.  It’s hard to tamp down those urges.  I cut my blogging teeth on LiveJournal when I was in college.  That was entirely different from what I intend to do with this space.  This isn’t a venue for my friends to observe the often humorous and pathetic tales of young adult woe.  This is a blog that may someday serve as early examples of what I hope will be an accomplished writing career.  I know that when I enter the publishing arena that it will be mostly on me to sell my brand, whether I self-publish or go for the traditional route.  I have to start somewhere; this is my somewhere.

Another fun fact: when I’m working on nonfiction pieces, I can’t really listen to new music.  I need something that will drown out the world so that I can focus, but it also has to be something that I can ignore.  This, for me, boils down to music that I grew up with.  I am amused at my own playlist for nonfiction.  It includes, among other things, Queen’s entire Kind of Magic album, selections from the likes of Amy Grant and *NSYNC, and an early album by the man behind Enigma.  In college I had an entire CD that was just for listening to when I was writing papers.  I would swap between that and the aforementioned Queen album anytime I had work that I really needed to do.  *NSYNC was added to the list because it was weirdly calming to me when I was first in college.  I started experiencing actual stress in my freshman year.  I got stomachaches and everything.  *NSYNC’s first album, strangely, helped ease the stress.  It was the only thing I could listen to that actually seemed to help me feel better.  I do not know why this is.  I didn’t ever actually have anything against *NSYNC, really.  I just considered myself to have better musical taste than that when I was an all-knowing seventeen year old.  I openly laughed at “I Want You Back” when I heard it for the first time.  Joke’s on me.  Guess what’s blasting in my headphones right now?  Yeah.  Ha ha.  But it works, and that’s all that really matters, isn’t it?

It is.