Go Straight Through

In between housework chores yesterday I finished reading Vincent Shih’s The Taiping Ideology. Interesting in and of itself, the book is also fascinating as a snapshot of Chinese studies in an American university during the late 60s. It was published in 1967, so Johnson’s escalation in Vietnam was well underway, which meant Communist China was a bad guy as far as a lot of Americans were concerned. The fact that the party line in China views the Taiping Rebellion as an early attempt at class revolution makes it even more interesting. Teasing out implications and looking for signs of academic one-upmanship is one of my very favorite things.

The footnotes were pretty amazing, too. I love footnotes.

So that was my weekend, other than (finally) laying more concrete for the garden walkway on Saturday. For those curious, we’re using this heavy plastic mold. It takes an 80lb bag of concrete for one, with a little left over, so every fourth or fifth there’s enough for another full mold. The kids and I have our mixing, filling, tamping, and lifting down to an art now. You can definitely tell how we’ve gotten better as we go along.

We laid eight bags of concrete, well over six hundred pounds of lifting and shifting. That’s our upper limit; it took us an hour and a half and we were all pretty much done by the time cleanup was finished. The larger part–the patio extension–may have to wait to be fully finished until next summer, but we’ll get the part around the upper garden boxes done before the rains move in this autumn, just on weekends, six to eight bags at a time.

It’s a good thing we can all work together without killing each other. Kind of like when we painted the loos–close quarters, hot work, tempers liable to fray. But the kids are fascinated by the concrete process, and seeing the end result gives them both a glow of accomplishment. Me? Well, my back is okay, but my arms and legs are noodles after each session. The glow of accomplishment is kind of overshadowed by the need for ibuprofen and the urge to wash concrete dust off in a cool shower.

And today, of course, there’s an 8km run dialed up. I should get out before it’s too warm, and see if my legs have forgiven me for all the lifting on Saturday. There’s a particularly intense scene to write today, too. I’m not sure if my protagonist is going to get a crossbow quarrel in the back, and the only way to find out is to go straight through. As usual.

Over and out.

Lili Reads, Part Whatever

I’ve been making a dent in my TBR lately.

I finished Kenneth Stampp’s And the War Came, which details the secession crisis of 1860-61. In parts, I almost suspected Stampp of being a magnolia-eater on the scale of (the admittedly really great) Shelby Foote, and when I shifted to Stampp’s The Era of Reconstruction I thought maybe the latter had been written before And the War Came. However, it wasn’t–Reconstruction was published in 1967, and the book on the secession crisis in 1970. Maybe it was my own bias, since the secession crisis book seemed far, far too generous to the Southern states and their maneuverings.

It was also interesting to come across comments in the text that remind me of how far civil rights have come since 1970, and just what is at stake in the current political clime.

Other interesting things were Stampp’s very definite tracing of Lincoln’s politicking, and the fact that sainted Abraham was really no abolitionist per se. He was a Whig, and a Unionist, so when the Republicans gathered up the remnants of the Whigs and the Southern Democrats began making their secession noises, he became Republican by default, and his Emancipation Proclamation was somewhat unwilling and did not admit of equal rights, merely manumission in the war zones to make the Southern economy incapable of funding further warfare. The radical wing of the Republican party fell into line behind him not because they thought him a fire-eating abolitionist, but because the Unionist cause was the abolition cause for a variety of reasons. Lincoln’s Reconstruction policy, had he lived, would have borne this out in chunks.

I planned to move right into Stampp’s The Peculiar Institution yesterday after finishing the Reconstruction book, but I fell into Tzvetan Todorov’s Facing the Extreme instead, which has been on my TBR for a long while, mostly because I didn’t feel emotionally ready to read it.

To my relief, it is a philosophy book, and while I take issue with Todorov’s sexism in several places, there’s a lot of good food for thought. One of his most interesting points is about caring versus heroics, how caring is personal and “heroics” as we generally think of them are just another form of death-worship. I’m paraphrasing, of course, but the book articulates a lot of things I had only dimly held in the back of my head while reading other philosophy.

I should probably get some Kant and study, but I’d have to work through more of the TBR first.

In the process of trying to find the last Stampp book (I figured, why not keep going, since I’d read two in close succession) I ended up shelving a lot of “already-read” and organizing the TBR pile into fiction, nonfiction, fairytales/litcrit/poetry. (LOOK, THESE DIVISIONS DON’T MAKE SENSE BUT THEY’RE MINE.) After the Todorov and the last Stampp I might clean my palate with Osinga’s book on John Boyd’s strategic theory, which I have been meaning to get to for AGES. I may have to take a small break with Marina Warner, or there’s that lovely big chunky history of the American Whig party I might want to get into while the 1800s are still fresh in my head.

In short, I have an embarrassment of choices. That’s the state of the Reading Lili, and of course all of this is going into the bubbling cauldron that is my emotional well, from whence I draw bits of half-composted things for stories. Working at a white-heat requires plenty of fuel and right now that fuel is textual.

*stuffs pages in mouth, grins*

What are you reading?

Release Day: CORMORANT RUN

It’s here! It’s here! My love song to Soviet sci-fi is here!

ARRIVAL meets Under the Dome in this new post-apocalyptic novel from New York Times bestseller Lilith Saintcrow.

It could have been aliens, it could have been a trans-dimensional rip, nobody knows for sure. What’s known is that there was an Event, the Rifts opened up, and everyone caught inside died.

Since the Event certain people have gone into the drift… and come back, bearing priceless technology that’s almost magical in its advancement. When Ashe the Rat — the best Rifter of her generation — dies, the authorities offer her student, Svinga, a choice: go in and bring out the thing that killed her, or rot in jail.

But Svin, of course, has other plans…

Now available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, independent bookstores, and wherever else fine books are sold.

I am SO chuffed, and frightened to death at the same time. This is different than any other book I’ve ever done, and we fought so hard to get it published. Now it’s ready for you, dear Readers, and I hope you enjoy it. If it’s your jam, please do me a solid and leave a rating or short review at the vendor of your choice–it really helps, and means I can make more stories for you.

Now I’m going to go for my usual release-day run, and try to work all my nerves out. Each time a book goes out into the world, it’s terrifying.

Catch you later, gators.

Catch-Up Wordage

Well, I’m awake, it’s a Monday, and I have a medium-long run planned. Yesterday was a silly 200-word day, but at least I got a lot of housework done.

I found a new favorite yoga pose this morning–Stargazer. It feels incredibly good to open up the side, and stretch out my ribs. I also came across this Vimeo short, Nano. I’d watch a whole movie of this, and read the books too. Hell, I’d write books about this. (In all my copious spare time, heh.)

So today is catch-up wordage on everything, and bracing for Cormorant Run‘s release day. I’m already feeling the nerves, so I’ll probably have Purple Rain in rotation and dance around my office every time “Let’s Go Crazy” comes up. That is, if I have any nerves left after an 8km run.

The current list of projects is: DEADROAD, Sekrit Projekt, Epic Fantasy, Roadtrip Z, and Damage. The last has taken the place of Dog Days, because the agent wants it. Hopefully I can get the Sekrit Projekt finished before too much longer, so I can throw its zero into the bin and move on. It’s…been a while, for that particular simmering book. I may have to break it up into two, and release the first part as a novella. It depends on the finished length, and how intense the guerrilla war in the latter half of the book gets.

So that’s my Monday. The world is still on fire, I’m still trying desperately to preserve my tiny corner of it. I have a lot of hopes riding on Cormorant–it’s so, so different than anything I’ve done before, and though I know a lot of the early reviewers didn’t “get” it, I have faith in my Readers. Who are, after all, the smartest bunch on the planet.

Smarter than me, that’s for damn sure.

Over and out.

Combien, Zombie?

The zombies are everywhere these days. Including in Duolinguo, where this fellow greeted me during a “learn the questions!” pack.

I have to admit, I was almost laughing too hard to select the correct word.

“Coooooooom-biiiiieeeeeen?” the zombie groaned, jabbing a rotting finger at the display case. Mary, her accommodating customer-service smile frozen in place, struggled to remember how to say ‘$9.99’ in French.

CORMORANT Is Almost Here…

It’s June. You know what that means? CORMORANT RUN is almost out!

ARRIVAL meets Under the Dome.

It could have been aliens, it could have been a trans-dimensional rift, nobody knows for sure. What’s known is that there was an Event, the Rifts opened up, and everyone caught inside died.

Since the Event certain people have gone into the drift… and come back, bearing priceless technology that’s almost magical in its advancement. When Ashe the Rat — the best Rifter of her generation — dies, the authorities offer her student, Svinga, a choice: go in and bring out the thing that killed her, or rot in jail.

But Svin, of course, has other plans…

Guys, I am SO EXCITED about this. My loving homage to the Strugatsky brothers and Tarkovsky is ALMOST OUT IN THE WORLD. (You can preorder at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, if you’re so inclined.) I am getting release-day nerves a full two weeks in advance, because I am so nervous about this one. It’s different than anything I’ve done before.

*bites nails* *runs away to make tea*