Reading List Update:

Black Mustard: Justice, by Dallas Coleman. Bayou hoodoo brings an asshole prosecutor low. It’s your typical jerk-learns-a-lesson-about-humanity-and-humility story, but it’s sweet and funny. I do have to admit to a bias, first–I have a Thing for characters with difficulties in communication–but it’d be good even if I didn’t.

Reading List

So I’ve been reading a fair amount, lately, and I thought I’d tell you about it. So far, I’ve read:

    Boots, by Angel Martinez. A contemporary take on the classic tale of Puss In Boots, with a twist. There were parts of it that made me squirm and one passage that made me yell, but the ending is worth the trip.

    The Locker Room, by Amy Lane. Amy has a knack for writing characters that you want to hug while whacking them with a shoe, as well as stories that make you ache and cheer. (I also love Talker/Talker’s Redemption; don’t read the dedication for Talker until after you finish it (it’s spoilery) and it does involve rape, just FYI.)

    Mongrel, by K. Z. Snow. A riff on the classic theme of not judging by appearances, the world of Mongrel is deliciously drawn, and the characters are intriguing. It’s also got funny bits in, which is always a plus.

    Jump First, by Charles Edwards. Another story about things–and people–not always being as they seem. It’s fairly sweet, involves writers, and may take you back to the first time you had a crush on someone.

    Visible Friend, by K. Z. Snow. This is a hard one to talk about, because I’m still not sure what I think of the whole of it. I loved parts of it — the epilogue was a bittersweet surprise, and if it had come at the beginning of the story, I don’t think it would have had nearly the same effect — and parts of it… It’s not that I hate them, it’s just that I need to think about them for a while. It’s not a bad book, by any means. It has a hopeful ending, for Denny and Chris; the epilogue answers at least one question from the main story. There’s angst and regret, but it’s not Misery Lit, not at all.

I’m in the process of reading The Inventor’s Companion, by Ariel Tachna. It’s pretty good, so far, but I’m only about halfway through. I’ll have more of an opinion when I see where the plot goes. It’s a well-defined world, too, without being full of infodumps.

And that’s about it, for now.

Boooooks!

I ordered my armload of books (most of them plot-centered), and they arrived yesterday.

So far, I’ve read most of Plot & Structure by J. S. Bell, with occasional dips into The Writer’s Little Helper and The Fire In Fiction.

I’m doing my best to apply the techniques in P&S to the ~30K story I’m tweaking — some of the ideas are a little awkward, because I already know what happens and I don’t really need to worry about how I want things to go. (For instance, I don’t have to worry about deciding on what kind of ending I want to have, or how I want my readers to feel at the end of it. I’m really happy with my current ending.)

One of the things I’ve been fiddling with has been the back-cover copy. So far, I have:

It all started when Jesse Swanson stopped to pick up a dead bird.

– – –

Jesse Swanson’s life is pretty normal. He has a job he doesn’t mind, his parents are pretty decent, and he’s got a boyfriend. So what if he still lives at home; so what if he thinks he maybe argues a little too often with his guy?

Then he stops to pick up a dead bird, some vague notion of burying it floating through his head, and nothing is ever the same again. For one thing, there’s suddenly a new guy in Jesse’s life; for another, the guy doesn’t seem to be precisely sane

– – –

Warning: This story contains strange logic, spoons, more eggs than your doctor wants you to eat, bad ideas, inappropriate responses to common life events, and ravens.

– – –

Warning: consuming raw or undercooked food increases your risk of food-borne illness. Contains egg, milk, wheat, and soy ingredients. Written by someone who doesn’t wash their hands after handling and/or consuming peanuts and tree nuts. Also contains ravens, strange logic, spoons, instincts, and produce.

I think I may be better at blurbs than I am at synopses. I’m certainly better (or at least I think I am) at coming up with silly warnings than either blurbs or synopses.

One of the more disappointing parts of reading my books, however, is realizing how much work I have to do in places. So far, I’m still not entirely sure what to cut, but I do know that I need to add a few things. I’m not certain how much rewriting I’ll have to do, either…

I’m also not sure that I’ll ever find a home for this story. It’s one of the few stories I’ve written where I love it and want others to love it in the same way, so much so that the idea of sending it out into the big wide world is more daunting than usual. (And yes, I know, it can always use a little editing, no matter how much I love it.)

Shh… Enjoy The Silence.

…Okay, so Depeche Mode is probably not a staple of the story's universe, but I couldn't resist. (I'll try harder, next time.) ANYhow.

Tomorrow is THE day — the release of The Balance Of Silence, written by two great authors (neither of whom are me). The story is by turns gritty, funny, and sweet, and I love the ending. Go! Buy it, read it, and tell your friends. Reesa and Michelle deserve the love.

So what IS the difference between "awhile" and "a while", anyhow?

You use 'a while' if you're also using the word 'for', as in, "I'll drive for a while; you get some sleep." If you're not using 'for', then you use 'awhile'. "I'll drive awhile; you get some sleep."

This–and a lot of other useful information–can be found at Paul Brians' (Big) List Of Errors page. It's ridiculously helpful, and if you'd prefer it in an offline format, he's written a book.

Free Read Leads To Questions:

So I picked up The Virginian; partly because the excerpt made it sound interesting, partly because it’s listed under gay/lesbian (which, for a book published in 1902, was intriguing enough on its own), and partly because I have yet to understand the allure of the Gay Cowboy archetype.

So far, the only hints that there might be any same-sex action is the narrator remarking that he wishes The Virginian (I forget if he has an actual name) would like him; later he mentions that TV does something that makes Narrator love him. The line that makes me sit up and say ‘Que? I mean, huh?’ is this one:

“We were thorough friends, and had exchanged many confidences both of the flesh and of the spirit.”

…I’m not entirely sure what that means, or what it was intended to mean. I know what it sounds like, to me–but who knows if my interpretation is the one the author was expecting.

Speaking of lovely…

The Balance Of Silence is first on my list of books to buy in September. (I would buy it sooner, but alas, it's not out until the 14th.) From the description of the book itself:

Warning: This book contains fluffy blond hair, sugary soda that will rot your teeth out, one unfortunate first name, and one mute amnesiac with a sarcasm fetish, all wrapped up in two selfless but mildly unstable guys who accidentally find their happily ever after. In SPACE!

It's not quite as wacky as that makes it sound–in fact, it touches on some pretty serious themes–but it does have some delightfully funny moments. It's a great story, written by two spiffy people (neither of which are me), and well worth your time.

Discovery!

Since my netbook doesn’t come with an optical drive, and because I A) am cheap [read: broke more often than not] and B) have heard nothing but bad, BAD things about Word 2007, I have been looking for a word-processing program that:
– Lets me turn off so-called “smart” quotes, which usually aren’t, and don’t copy/paste properly most of the time
– Lets me set the margins at 1″ all the way around
– Lets me set the line-spacing at 2/double
– And last but not least, has easy-to-set tabs.

MSFT Works doesn’t; I don’t like OpenOffice; and Lotus Symphony is just another look for OO. I’d use Google Docs, but I can’t edit them offline and it doesn’t handle files over 400 Kb. (That is NOT a typo, by the way. I do indeed mean KILObytes, not megabytes.) I was resigning myself to having to either by an optical drive so I could install my beloved copy of Office 2003, install O2K3 on my external hard-drive and run it from there (pain in the arse!), OR suck it up and just learn to live with OO.

That is, until I stumbled across PC Magazine’s Best Free Software of 2010 and poked through their Office section. All the usual suspects were there — Gdocs, Zoho, OO, and… Jarte. I’d never heard of it, but the description (“Makes WordPad useful!“) was intriguing. The pricetag was right, and I figured it couldn’t hurt to try it.

The download is ridiculously small — less than three megabytes — and it installed quickly. I’ve only used it a little bit, but so far, I’m liking it. You only get “smart” quotes if you spend $20 to upgrade to the Pro version, so that’s perfect. All new docs open with 1″ margins by default (though you can change this not only on a doc-by-doc basis, but you can set the default to whatever you like!). It opens RTF and .doc files, then saves them as the same kind (as far as I can tell) — no converters needed.

About the only things I haven’t liked about it, so far, is the clickless menu setup means that my second-nature alt-F-S keystroke pattern results in a ding and a stray S in my document and that there’s no draggable tab-slider on the ruler.

As of right now, I’m planning on making Jarte my go-to writing program on my netbook. I may still buy myself an external optical drive (because I just realized that unless I rip Cars/WALL-E to the hard-drive, I won’t be able to watch them on a plane or in bed or anything, guh) anyhow, but we’ll see what happens.

A Review! And Some Thinking.

Allow me to preface the following with this, because it is deeply important to me that EVERYONE knows: I am NOT angry. I am NOT seething with resentment nor am I bottling up my rage. I’m not upset. *Huff* Okay! Now that that is out of the way, it’s on to what I want to say!

So, I saw my very first review ever! And I was a little disappointed, to be honest, because it was half a sentence of constructive criticism that boils down to ‘more payoff plz!’. The way it was phrased, though, got me thinking.

The reviewer said that Adunaid focused ‘more on the setup’ than the actual sex, and that as a result it was hard for her to get into the story. She’s not wrong in that yeah, Max and Trev do take a LONG time to get from ‘I wanna fuck’ to *actual* fucking, and that the payoff isn’t exactly the finale of the 1812 Overture in terms of descriptions/orgasms. *Waves a hand* That’s a legit critique and I’ll keep it in mind for next time. (Even if I am mildly concerned about my work ending up on Weeping Cock.)

My question is where is the line between setup and foreplay? For me, personally, I think of ‘setup’ as ‘whatever gets us to the touchy-feely bits’, and anything after that is foreplay. That’s just me, though — I know my interpretations of words/feelings on connotations aren’t always the same as everyone else’s.

How about you? Where do you draw the line, if there is one?

(Cross- and re-posted from my LJ.)