Audible SquirrelTerror!

Squirrel!Terror GUESS WHAT.

You can now get the adventures of Neo and the gang in audiobook form, narrated by the amazing Marci Himelson! Right now it’s just available through Audible, but in a couple days it’ll be available through iTunes as well. I’m very pleased with Marci’s work, and I hope you are too. I’m still looking for the perfect narrator for Selene, but that just may not happen.

I may have to put together the adventures of Napoleon!Squirrel, too. This backyard isn’t as crazy as the other one, but enough certainly goes on, especially with Odd Trundles around. He’s a lover, not a fighter, and he loves EVERYTHING. (Sometimes a little too much.)

Anyway, it’s amazing. I had no idea the squirrel stories were going to prove this popular. Enjoy!

From Vodka to Uncanny

Manuscript This morning I interred a dead squirrel, and other than a slightly surreal conversation with a neighbour who inquired “what’s in the bag?” (Answer: “A dead body. Wanna see?”)…nothing happened. All went smoothly, with no screaming, shoelessness, canine follies, or feline insanity.

Anticlimactic, ennit? But also strangely thrilling in its own way.

ETA: Since so many have asked, NO, it was most emphatically NOT Beauregarde. It was a lady squirrel from another territory up the street.

In other news, I’m revising the first Gallow book (again, I keep stabbing it and it WON’T DIE) and catching up on some reading.

I finished Mark Lawrence Schrad’s Vodka Politics. The basic premise–that the autocratic regimes in Russia have profited so extensively from vodka–by taxation or in other ways, like Catherine the Great’s marinating a regiment in booze as she asked for their protection, just for example–that what he calls “vodka politics” has infiltrated almost every aspect of governance and has also grown intertwined with the culture, with predictably disastrous demographic results, is intriguing and I found much to bolster it in his sources and footnotes. I especially enjoyed reading about Murray Feshbach, a kickass demographic researcher and scholar, who I had no idea even existed. There were also historical nuggets I could have read all day, from Empress Elizabeth’s ascension to Stalin’s drunken parties, and the anecdote about Nicholas II so drunk he climbed onto roofs and howled at the moon, believing himself a werewolf. Schrad’s careful tracing of the financial consequences of depending on vodka taxation for a significant chunk of the government’s budget and the various Prohibition-esque reforms blowing holes in said budgets and causing unrest was compelling.

Unfortunately, Schrad needed a better copyeditor. The homophone abuse really detracted from an otherwise stellar reading experience. My personal favourite was a passage about people so desperate for vodka they drank “break fluid.” It sounds picky, but the confused homonyms and homophones were so marked I felt like I was reading a poorly-edited college paper, full of great ideas and solid research but crippled by a lack of basic grammar study.

I’m also within spitting distance of finishing Renee Bergland’s The National Uncanny. From Barnes & Noble:

Although spectral Indians appear with startling frequency in US literary works, until now the implications of describing them as ghosts have not been thoroughly investigated. In the first years of nationhood, Philip Freneau and Sarah Wentworth Morton peopled their works with Indian phantoms, as did Charles Brocken Brown, Washington Irving, Samuel Woodworth, Lydia Maria Child, James Fenimore Cooper, William Apess, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and others who followed. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Native American ghosts figured prominently in speeches attributed to Chief Seattle, Black Elk, and Kicking Bear. Today, Stephen King and Leslie Marmon Silko plot best-selling novels around ghostly Indians and haunted Indian burial grounds.

Renée L. Bergland argues that representing Indians as ghosts internalizes them as ghostly figures within the white imagination. Spectralization allows white Americans to construct a concept of American nationhood haunted by Native Americans, in which Indians become sharers in an idealized national imagination. However, the problems of spectralization are clear, since the discourse questions the very nationalism it constructs. Indians who are transformed into ghosts cannot be buried or evaded, and the specter of their forced disappearance haunts the American imagination. Indian ghosts personify national guilt and horror, as well as national pride and pleasure. Bergland tells the story of a terrifying and triumphant American aesthetic that repeatedly transforms horror into glory, national dishonor into national pride.

So far the most interesting and intriguing part of the book has been about William Apess; Bergland makes a case for his successful espousal and development of nonviolent resistance during the Mashpee Revolt of 1833 (here’s a good source) spurring Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience. I’ll have more to say when I finish it–I am really interested to see what she says about Leslie Marmon Silko–but so far the book has been two thumbs way, way up and I have a list of texts she references that I should probably pick up for my own perusal.

And that’s, as they say, all the news fit to print today. Time to make a cuppa and settle into revisions once more, so I can get this book off my plate before the first of October.

Looking at that, I find myself wondering if wine might be a better bet, but it’s still before noon…

photo by: Muffet

Introducing SKIN

skin So I’m trying out Wattpad for a serial. We’ll see how this works out. I decided I’d throw an old piece into the cooker and update weekly-ish, unless disaster or deadline intrudes.

Werewolves on the moon, they said. What could go wrong, they said.

Yeah, let’s send everyone with the Lup17 virus offplanet, sure. Put them on a ghetto the size of a quarter of Terra, send up the bare minimum mandated survival tech and supplies, and sit back and watch the fun. Or just ignore it, let it go, survival of the fittest and all that.

Nobody really expected them to live up there.

Nobody ever expected the Outbreak, either. So all of a sudden the corpses rise and Terra becomes a wasteland, and there’s the Moon hanging like a ripe fruit, Luna all nice and shiny and terraformed and completely Outbreak-free. A choice between the shambling undead and the wolves who sometimes wore human skins, what do you think anyone would pick? We’re all humans, right? Right?

If you believe that, you’ll believe anything.

So they wanted to come up. There were diplomatic hassles, there were speeches in the United, there was lots of gavel-banging and talk about saving the best and the brightest. The only trouble was, it ended up being the rich…and those with a grudge.

Every transport was supposed to be vetted before it blew atmo. Let’s keep Luna Outbreak-free!

Except they didn’t…

I have an idea of where this story ends up, and it’s not pleasant. Which cheers me up immensely. It will also exercise a couple of writing muscles I haven’t used in a while. In between this, the second Gallow book, and the sekrit agent book…hm. Might have bitten off more than even I can chew.

Time to grow bigger teeth…

THE RIPPER AFFAIR Released!

ripper It’s here! It’s here! The Ripper Affair is now officially released!

Sorcery. Treason. Madness. And, of course, murder most foul…

A shattering accident places Archibald Clare, mentath in the service of Britannia, in the care of Emma Bannon, sorceress Prime. Clare needs a measure of calm to repair his faculties of Logic and Reason. Without them, he is not his best. At all.

Unfortunately, calm and rest will not be found. There is a killer hiding in the sorcerous steam-hells of Londinium, executing poor women of a certain reputation. A handful of frails murdered on cold autumn nights would make no difference…but the killings echo in the highest circles, and threaten to bring the Empire down in smoking ruins.

Once more Emma Bannon is pressed into service; once more Archibald Clare is determined to aid her. The secrets between these two old friends may give an ambitious sorcerer the means to bring down the Crown. And there is still no way to reliably find a hansom when one needs it most.

The game is afoot…

Available now through Barnes & Noble, Powell’s, Indiebound, and maybe even (yep, still this thing going on) at [amazon text=Amazon&asin=0316183725]. As always, you can also purchase signed (and personalised!) copies through Cover to Cover Books–just fill out the Stock Inquiry form, and they’ll hook you up.

This is the last Bannon & Clare adventure for a while. I did have a few Emma & Archibald Go Traveling books planned, but other stuff intruded. Maybe later. As it is, this one opens with a bang (literally) and closes at just the right moment. I’m so excited, and I can’t wait to hear what you think of it!

Reading, Lately

I’ve been taking notes on Pliny–the Pliny Train is still going, but doing posts every few pages, while fun for me, is a massive time investment and quite probably boring to everyone else. So I’m thinking about a different structure for those posts. More of an overview than a detailed reading.

victorian culture In other reading news, I’ve finished Victorian Culture and Classical Antiquity. It was a fun read, in a crunchy cross-discipline way. Goldhill got a little unreadable when it focused on novels–a lit-critter he is definitely not–but the paintings and opera sections were just what I like: analysis, making connections, pointing out that a classical education wasn’t just education, it was also a passport into higher society and a ticket to a certain form of social mobility. It made me think very deeply about my own pursuit of what one might call a classical education, and the reasons why I do it, including cultural reasons that might not be immediately apparent to me. Culture is like Palmolive–you’re soaking in it, Madge.

I could have been happy with the “novels” section of the book given over to more exploration of opera, or more of the Pre-Raphaelites. I would have really loved to see Salome or Cleopatra get the same attention as Sappho and Mariamne, frex. Also, Goldhill on Wagner’s anti-Semitism is a fascinating chapter, and handled, I think, very well.

imago dei I’ve also finished Imago Dei. Based on a series of A. W. Mellon lectures Jaroslav Pelikan gave about Byzantine iconoclast and iconodule arguments–they were originally on a very fine tapestry icon–this is a really good introduction to the issues around the whole icon controversy in the early Church and, by extension, about some of the basic theological differences between Eastern and Western Christianity. Pelikan has a way of distilling and translating complex theological stunts and battles into understandable terms, and now I want to pick up some of his other history works. Granted, I feel about theology the same way I feel about sports–it’s all imaginary point-scoring that people riot and kill for when they could be making art or improving everyone’s quality of life instead–but still, to understand different historical periods it’s necessary to try to comprehend what people fought over and cared about.

One of the things I had never delved into before was the Eastern Orthodox chain of logic and belief around Marianism. It led me down some interesting mental roads, not the least of which was imagining myself a Byzantine semi-Hypatia, arguing that the true reflection of God was the woman who gave birth and then had to watch her child die as a result of stubbornness and bureaucratic idiocy. (Yeah, I would have been torn apart by a mob, too. Sigh.) I’ve been interested in Byzantium ever since I read Norwich’s excellent Short History of Byzantium–I liked it so much I went back and got the three-volume expanded work. (The first one’s here, if you’re interested.) It’s a natural extension of my interest in Rome. Norwich and Pelikan both have a very clear, patient style–one mark of understanding a subject thoroughly is being able to clearly explain bits of it to laymen, I think, and I find them both well worth the effort of reading and note-taking.

I’m still slogging through Braudel and also reading In The Fire of the Eastern Front as a part of my ongoing study of that WWII theater. It’s…interesting to see what the writer chooses to put down as justification for the war, and pretty intense practice in just reading for information while being sickened by what I know is occurring in the background of this one person’s story. Every once in a while, it’s good to read things one disagrees with, just to keep oneself flexible and open, not to mention compassionate.

So. What are you guys reading?

PACK and the Ripper Affair!

Saintcrow_Pack(ES) Here’s the cover for PACK. Isn’t it pretty? It’s an upcoming Orbit Short Fiction drop (similar to Unfallen) and it’ll be available on 9/23. But I was able to get permission to share the cover with you, my dear chickadees.

Pack is a weird little story. It’s related to my Fireside Fiction short Maternal Type, in a way–whenever I set out to write a short story, I have several weird almost-false starts. I call them “almost-false” because each one teaches me a little more about what the story actually needs to be, and sometimes they develop into finished works in their own right. I find shorts very, very difficult to write, but sometimes the starts uncover another story that was waiting to be told. Pack is one of them.

Readers of Maternal Type (and those waiting for the upcoming serial in Year 3 of Fireside Magazine) will see commonalities, from the feral child to the no-nonsense protagonist. But I think each story stands on its own.

And there’s something else exciting, too…

ripper I got boxes of author copies of The Ripper Affair yesterday! (It officially goes on sale August 15.) Amazon is still being nasty and not letting people preorder it, but Barnes & Noble, Powell’s, and Indiebound can hook you up. If you want a signed (or personalised!) copy, all you have to do is order from Cover to Cover, my friendly local indie. It’s the last Bannon and Clare book for a while, but I think it’s a good one.

Sorcery. Treason. Madness. And, of course, murder most foul…

A shattering accident places Archibald Clare, mentath in the service of Britannia, in the care of Emma Bannon, sorceress Prime. Clare needs a measure of calm to repair his faculties of Logic and Reason. Without them, he is not his best. At all.

Unfortunately, calm and rest will not be found. There is a killer hiding in the sorcerous steam-hells of Londinium, murdering poor women of a certain reputation. A handful of frails unseamed on cold autumn nights would make no difference…but the killings echo in the highest circles, and threaten to bring the Empire down in smoking ruins.

Once more Emma Bannon is pressed into service; once more Archibald Clare is determined to aid her. The secrets between these two old friends may give an ambitious sorcerer the means to bring down the Crown. And there is still no way to reliably find a hansom when one needs it most.

The game is afoot…

I’m so excited about this, I’m having trouble sitting still. I’m hard at work revising the first Jeremy Gallow book, as well as working on a super-sekrit YA that probably won’t sell, but I love it and I’m going to finish it anyway.

Back to work…

Sol

The Size of Sol

The Size of Sol

We’ve gone out past the Moon in Pliny’s universe. He regards the Moon as being on the edge between atmosphere (though I’m not sure he would understand that term in the sense we use it) and into the “regions of clear light” he imagines the other heavenly bodies reside in. He’s more concerned, however, with what he can state definitively about the Sun. He spends a careful few paragraphs laying out why one can say with absolute certainty that the Sun is EFFING GINORMOUS. (Note: not his words.)

Carefully, logically, he lays out that the shadows of a miles-and-miles-long row of trees are the same size, that the sun reaches the vertical on the equinox at the same time for everyone in the “southern regions,” and something about the Tropic of Cancer. I confess I can’t parse that bit of Latin quite as well.

…item qua circa solstitialem circulum habitantum meridie ad septentrionem umbrae cadent, orto vero ad occasum, quae fieri nullo modo possent nisi multo quam terra maior esset…p200

“Meridie ad septentrionem” is Tropic of Cancer, right? And not the Henry Miller version. One rather thinks Pliny would think Henry Miller a bit debauched. (Gee, you think?) Then again, there were Ovid and Catullus, and either of them could blow the doors off Miller in style.

Ahem. Anyway. Catullus is for another day.

Pliny goes on to detail why the eclipse of the moon proves that the sun is OMGHUGE. At the very end, he waxes a bit rhetorical and informs us that the sun retreats in winter when:

“…otherwise it would unquestionably scorch up the earth, and even as it is does so in a certain part, so great is its magnitude.p203

I rather like that bit of the translation–“scorch up the earth” for “exusturus haut dubie, et sic quoque exurens quadam in partep202” A good translation obeys the spirit as well as the letter, I think, and Rackham does pretty well.

Our stop here at the Sun is a short one (rather uncomfortably warm, isn’t it? Just a moment longer…) and please do keep your arms and legs inside the Train. Ice and various drinks are being dispensed, and the lights are about to go down as we speed from the celestial realms back to the more human country of History. Next, Pliny is going to tell us about eclipses and war.

Non-Ubiquitous

Little Darling I took no pride in my solitude, but I was dependent on it. –Charles Bukowski, Factotum

I went mostly-dark yesterday. Every once in a while one just has to clean everything out, retreat inside. Do only the bare minimum of email-checking or popping online to get the news. I didn’t realize how much of my day had become a steady diet of What The Internet Has Going On, and it troubles me a little. The interwebs are not ubiquitous, though it feels like it when you’re on them. And I have to remind myself often that the platform costs of signing on (a desktop or a smartphone, a wi-fi connection, a cell phone plan) are things that require an investment. Even “free” wi-fi at a coffee shop requires an investment of time as well as petrol or bus fare to travel there. This is why I say the internet isn’t ubiquitous–those who don’t have the infrastructure advantage or the financial ability to invest in the hardware turn invisible. It’s one major reason why e-books “replacing” physical books isn’t going to happen either. (Not to mention that if the power goes out, the majority of my cheaply-acquired paper library is still usable.) Sherman Alexie noted this very thing ages ago when talking about the elitism of the Kindle:

Having grown up poor, I’m also highly aware that there’s always a massive technology gap between rich and poor kids. I haven’t yet heard what Amazon plans to do about this potential technology gap. And that’s a vital question considering that Bezos wants to change the way we read books. How does he plan to change the way that poor kids read books? How does he plan to make sure that poor kids have access to the technology? Poor kids all over the country don’t have access to current textbooks, so will they have access to Kindle? (Sherman Alexie)

The dogs, of course, were thrilled that I wanted to spend serious time on the floor with them, playing tug and doling out ear and chest skritches. Not a bad way to reset one’s brain.

Time to queue up the Conan the Barbarian soundtrack, get some more caffeine down, and get some more work done. Here, have the ways chemistry can save you during the zombie apocalypse, with a bonus of how a certain nasty little King choked out his last. You’re welcome.

Over and out.

photo by: Helga Weber

Book Haul

IMG_2436

My recent book haul from Cover to Cover. They know what I like, and set stuff aside they think I might be interested in. Just one more reason local booksellers are incredibly awesome.

You can also just-see the copy of Allegiant they ordered for the Princess, and the Pokemon and science books they set aside for the Little Prince. The Princess finished Allegiant that same afternoon, and is still in shock. The ending is making her think very deeply about a lot of other stories.

Plus, she’s reading 1984 in school. The end of that one is gonna be a kicker for her as well, I can already tell…