52 Books 2014: Week 44

Reminder: today is the last day to enter my contest for one of the resin necklaces! I posted details on Monday.

The Chapel Perilous (The Iron Druid Chronicles)
by Kevin Hearne
(contemporary fantasy, historical fantasy)

This novella is set in the word of the Iron Druid Chronicles, and is a fun addition to that series. It takes place during Granuaile’s training to become a full druid, but in truth it is set much earlier than that. This novella is Atticus’ re-telling of a story from his (relative) youth, before he became the Iron Druid. And it is pure fun.

Since this novella is told as a story that Atticus is telling the others, you know right away that he will survive. Actually, the fact that it’s set in the past compared to the regular Iron Druid timeline tells you that he will survive, regardless of the fact that he’s telling a story. However, it’s still fun to hear how he manages the whole thing. (If anything, I just wish it was a little longer with more adventures. There’s plenty of room for more in this particular topic. When you hear how the whole thing plays out, you’ll know what I mean if you know anything about the subject at all.)

If you know anything at all about the Chapel Perilous in the title, or you do even the briefest of Google searches, you will know that this is part of the Grail myth. And if you know anything about the Grail myth, you will know that (whether you believe it or not) there are historians who claim that the Grail was borrowed by the Christian religion from the Celtic myths and legends which predated it. I knew all of this before I read the novella, though to be honest my most current knowledge of the chapel itself is the parody version in Monty Python’s Holy Grail. (And now that I have been reacquainted with the original, even distantly, through this novella, I want to read some source and/or reference material on it. I do love these stories.)

Anyway: the source material is no surprise. The main character’s survival is no surprise. So why read this novella? Because IT’S SO MUCH FUN. It includes Oberon being Oberon, a talking horse, and zombies. A perfect read for Halloween. I couldn’t have timed this better, even though it was completely accidental. (I probably shouldn’t have admitted to that last part.)

Happy Halloween!

Weds ROW Check-In, WiP Weds, and Give-away Reminder!

It’s time for another ROW80 2014 Round 4 check-in! This time I actually remembered to post on a Wednesday.

MONTHLY GOALS:
  1. OCT: Prepare SF (novel project codename) characters & plot for NaNoWriMo. Nearly to the end of October, so by default I’m nearly done with this goal. But I am working on it, too. I’m playing with paint chips (for character & scene color schemes) and character photos/descriptions. I am also getting a rough scene plot worked up so that I at least have something to work with, even though it’s likely to change up as I write the thing. (I’ve never been good at firm outlines, though. Maybe as I grow as an author, or maybe that’s just not my style.)
  2. NOV: Write 50k words or more in SF.
  3. DEC: Finish the first draft of SF. When done, set aside. (No revision allowed until 1 month after completion date.)
WEEKLY GOALS:
  1. Work on writing projects a minimum of 5 days / week. Since this is Wednesday morning, I’m not counting today yet. So, from Sunday – Tuesday, I’ve gotten one day of work in. Not great, but I’m at least keeping track and trying to keep myself accountable this week. And that’s progress.
  2. Visit and comment on a minimum of 7 other ROW blogs / week. Done! As of yesterday! Anything else this week (and there will be more today with the new check-in) will be gravy.
  3. Write a minimum of 3 blog posts / week. At least one of these should be a ROW update. Already done, as of this blog. And I have another one scheduled for Friday, so there’s at least 4 this week.

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Don’t forget that I’m still running a give-away through the end of this week! The necklace with stars and the one with a pink background and blue heart bead are up for grabs! All you have to do is:

1. Leave me a comment here. Make sure to specify which of the two you prefer. (The first winner gets their choice, the second winner get the other one.) It’s also ideal if you, you know, comment on something happening on this blog.

2. Comment on any other NEW post written between Monday (10/27) and Halloween (10/31). Multiple posts commented on = multiple entries. Multiple comments on the same post don’t count for more than one entry. Comments on old posts also don’t count. (I can’t keep track.)

3. The winners will be chosen the first weekend in November, when I need a break from NaNoing. I will announce the winners with my first ROW update in November. (For the record, that will (hopefully) be on Sunday (as long as I am on time this week). I forgot to add an exact end date to the original give-away post. Some people like those. Let’s call the deadline to enter midnight Pacific time on Saturday night, November 1.

And a knitting update…

I’ll throw in a picture here of one of the knitting presents since I don’t think the recipient reads the blog. And even is that person does see this, it’s not likely to be obvious who it’s for or even what it is.
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I’m almost done with this one. I just need to decide how long I want to make it. I’m still enjoying the knit, but I’m starting to get worried about having enough time to finish all my knitted gifts, so I’m not going to just keep going until I run out of yarn. Besides, that might make it too long. I’m really not sure, and won’t be until the thing is finished and blocked out.

There’s also a semi-new project that I may have shown you before:
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I still am unsure where this pair is going. It could be ON MY FEET, but I’m not sure yet. I do like the way Cat’s Sweet Tomato Heel fits, so if I don’t keep this pair, I will certainly make another pair with this heel for myself. But we’ll see.

And then there’s another project that you can’t see, and the fix project that hasn’t been worked on in ages, and the Sweetheart Sweater that I’m ignoring until I feel up to overdying the yarn. So that’s about it on the knitting front for the moment. But still – the socks seem to have sprung up overnight. They’ve been a really quick knit. So it’s not like I haven’t been knitting.

Have a great Wednesday everyone!

Ten On Tuesday ~ I Feel Good

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The Ten on Tuesday topic for 10/28 is 10 Things You Feel Good About Right Now. Have fun!

Ten Things I feel good about, huh? Well, this will be a very random list. Let’s see what pops into my head! This is in that order (the order in which I think of them) and not priority by any means.

  1. I’m running a giveaway contest! I love doing giveaways. It makes me feel good about myself. Rule reminder: comment on any posts published from 10/27/14 to 10/31/14. In that comment, let me know which of the two giveaway necklaces (stars & pink with blue heart) you like better. Preferably say something else beyond that, too, but that’s not strictly-speaking a requirement. UPDATED TO ADD: I forgot to add an exact end date. Some people like those. Let’s call it midnight Pacific time on Saturday, November 1.
  2. New car, new car, la la la la la la! I’m having so much fun driving. Whee!
  3. I have good plans for NaNo. Maybe not as detailed as I’d like, but I HAVE PLANS. And more than that, I AM DOING WRITING THINGS. It’s been too long.
  4. The EDJ. (That’s Evil Day Job, for those who are unsure.) While I’m not sure about the long-term viability of me staying with the current position (it will depend on a variety of things, and none of them are items I am willing to discuss in such a public forum as a blog) I am currently pleased with the job I am doing there. Mostly with how I feel I am doing at it than the job duties themselves, but still. It’s nice to feel you are doing a good job.
  5. Theatre. I am (co-)stage managing again, and it feels good. I’ve missed it, though I have also decided that breaks are good, and doing less than I once was is vital to my staying sane, having any kind of relationship with Mr. Wyrm, and getting any writing done. It’s still nice to be back involved in a show.
  6. My knitting. I’m still ignoring the Sweetheart Sweater and the seam I messed up on my nephew’s fox, so all of my knitting is currently making me happy.
  7. I’m doing the healthy thing! Mostly. Kinda. Well, I’m at least eating mostly healthy. (With a few splurges thrown in. Those are important, too.) And we just got and set up an exercise bike, so I have big plans for that. I may not feel so good about it later if I don’t use the bike enough, but right now I feel good about it.
  8. Social stuff. Sometimes I am a hermit. I am an introvert, so those times are more normal to me than otherwise. But even as I am feeling normal and happy to be by myself or with my few selected close friends and family, I feel guilty that I am being withdrawn. Lately, I’ve been being happily social. I think the key is doing just enough but not so much that I feel overloaded and pull back into being an introvert.
  9. Tootsie rolls. They are tasty. They are out in the Jack-O-Lantern of treats at work. Enough said.
  10. It rained over the weekend! Not enough to really consider more than a shower, but still. When you’re in a drought, any rain is appreciated. And I love the rain regardless of the drought. More! I want more! :)

What about you? Anything in particular you feel good about right now?

Monday Summary (late again) and a Contest

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It’s time for another delayed Sunday Summary for ROW80 2014 Round 4! Remember how I said I was supposed to get my schedule in order? Yeah, obviously that hasn’t happened yet.

MONTHLY GOALS:
  1. OCT: Prepare SF (novel project codename) characters & plot for NaNoWriMo. Working on it. More than before, though it’s still not finished. I have most of another week left… I can do this, right?
  2. NOV: Write 50k words or more in SF.
  3. DEC: Finish the first draft of SF. When done, set aside. (No revision allowed until 1 month after completion date.)
WEEKLY GOALS:
  1. Work on writing projects a minimum of 5 days / week. Nope. I didn’t even remember to track which days I did work on it.
  2. Visit and comment on a minimum of 7 other ROW blogs / week. I think I did this one. I know I commented on several, though I lost track of how many. I think I need to improve my tracking system.
  3. Write a minimum of 3 blog posts / week. At least one of these should be a ROW update. 3 blog posts – yes! I did this one, or nearly. I didn’t post a ROW update on either Sunday or Wednesday, though, so I suppose it doesn’t count after all.

One more week left in October. Time to make it count, right? Starting next week it will be All NaNo, All The Time. So I was supposed to be using October to get in the habit of writing. At least I’ve been thinking about writing, which is more than I’d been doing recently. Here’s hoping for a stellar week!

Oops! I forgot to mention the contest!

Remember those resin jewelry things I was playing with? Well, they are finished. (I think.) I’m still not sure that they are really done, because they are a little tacky, but they have set and seem to not be sticky enough to pick up lint or cat fur or the like. So it seems to just be annoying and not unfinished.

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I am still looking for solutions to that, but in the meantime, who wants one? I have plans for the ones with music notes, and the one with the brown background and pink flower. However, the one with stars and the one with a pink background and blue heart bead are up for grabs! All you have to do is:

1. Leave me a comment here. Make sure to specify which of the two you prefer. (The first winner gets their choice, the second winner get the other one.) It’s also ideal if you, you know, comment on something somewhere on this blog.

2. Comment on any other NEW post written between now and Halloween. Multiple posts commented on = multiple entries. Multiple comments on the same post don’t count for more than one entry. Comments on old posts also don’t count. (I can’t keep track.)

3. The winners will be chosen the first weekend in November, when I need a break from NaNoing. I will announce the winners with my first ROW update in November. UPDATED TO ADD: I forgot to add an exact end date. Some people like those. Let’s call it midnight Pacific time on Saturday, November 1.

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52 Books 2014: Week 43

Poster Art of the Disney Parks
by Daniel Handke & Vanessa Hunt
(non-fiction, art, Disney)

Most of the text in this book is an explanation of one or more of the posters, or goes into more detail than I personally am interested in with regards to creating the posters, so I will admit that I read some and skimmed some. However, I find that is usually the case for me with an art book (even when I took an Art History class in college). Part of the experience is what you take away from the art itself, and not what the book’s author has to say about it. Also, I read this book a while ago but forgot to review it then, so some of my recollection on the book’s details is a bit fuzzy.

So, with that disclosure out of the way, I will say that I did fully enjoy this book. The posters themselves are the star of the book, of course, and for a fan of Disney parks they really shine. I love seeing the different variations of the posters as the attractions get updated. (The Monorail is probably my favorite of these. More than the rest of the Tomorrowland attraction posters, the Monorail posters really showcase the difference the land has gone through since its early days.)

I also really enjoyed seeing the different posters for the same attractions in different parks. In some cases the only difference was the park logo or the name of the land. (Such as New Orleans Square in Disneyland vs. Liberty Square in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.) In other cases, though, the posters were completely different, and it was fun to compare them.

The text complements the art. That’s really about all I can say about it. I enjoyed reading it. I remember that much. But I don’t remember reading anything earth shattering. (Like I said, this was a little while ago now.) It’s really more of a reference material than anything else anyway, so it did exactly what I expected it to do.

Now the important part: who should buy this book? I think that fans of Disney art should own this one, that’s a given. Also geeks fans of the parks and their history. But not the casual Disney fan. For the casual fan, this might be something to look at while waiting for your group to finish shopping. (Several of the park stores – the book-oriented ones – carry it at the moment.) This could be something for the casual fan to get out of the library (if your library has it) to get excited about an upcoming Disneyland (or WDW) trip. But the only people who should add it to their library are those who HAVE a Disney books library. It does make a lovely addition to Disney libraries, though. I’m glad it’s in ours.

Ten on Tuesday ~ Fire!

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The Ten on Tuesday prompt for 10/21 is 10 Things You Would Save If Your House Was On Fire. For the purpose of this exercise we are assuming that all of your family and pets are safe, we are just focusing on the stuff.

Huh, that’s an interesting one. First of all, it’s something we should all have in the back of our minds to begin with. It’s good to know what we’d need to grab, and where it is. But I am glad that the note was added about family and pets being safe, because they are the obvious first things to save.

So, here’s my list, in an approximate priority order (but not exact, and since they’re not all on the first floor, in the event of a REAL fire/emergency, these are not necessarily the order in which I would ACTUALLY save them).

  1. My purse. It has most of my critical items in it. If I could only save one thing, this would be it. It’s hard to get food or temporary shelter without the items in my purse. And most of the other critical documents in my life are in a fire safe. While this wouldn’t protect them against all fires, it would give them a better shot at survival than my purse has.
  2. Fire safe with important documents. This is a no-brainer. I’ve already planned for minor emergencies by putting all my important docs in here, so it’s a quick-grab item for emergencies.
  3. Box of spare keys. Partly because the key to the above safe is in here.
  4. Photo albums. Mementos like these are one of the things you hear about people missing the most once they lose their worldly goods in emergencies or disasters of one kind or another.
  5. Important jewelry. Not all of it matters, one way or the other (aka value or sentiment). But some of my jewelry has as much importance and as many memories as my photo albums, so this is high up on the list.
  6. Grandma’s paintings. My mom’s mom used to paint, and I have several of her pieces framed and on the walls. These are very important to me, and the only reason they’re not higher up the list is because they are big and realistically they wouldn’t be the first things I grabbed because of their size. Though, they probably should be at #3, right up there after the safe.
  7. My handknits. I could re-make these if it came to it, but I’d try to save them if I could. They’re special to me, since I made them.
  8. Warm clothing. I have a few favorites, and I’d try to grab those, but you never know. However, I do know that I’d need something, whether because it was truly cold or just because I was a bit shocky or in need of comfort.
  9. My laptop & its charging cord. I keep my phone on me and my iPad (along with spare mobile charging devices) in my purse, so I’d already have those, but if I had the time, I’d also grab my laptop. However, it’s not at the top of the list because I could use my phone & tablet for most everything, if it came down to that. And I have many of my most important things that are stored on my laptop backed up to the cloud somewhere, so I hopefully wouldn’t lose too much.
  10. Knitting. This may seem silly, but in a tough situation like “house on fire”, I would need the routine and comfort and activity that knitting provides.

All that said, though, let’s do the “prepare so it doesn’t happen” thing. I don’t want my house to catch on fire, thanks.

52 Books 2014: Week 42

The Girl with the Windup Heart (The Steampunk Chronicles #4)
by Kady Cross

In some respects, this latest installment of The Steampunk Chronicles feels the most like a romance novel. Not because the tone of the books has changed any, or because this one is suddenly more explicit than the rest. It seems that way rather because the title character (Mila) is very clear on what she wants (Jack) and while the “Mila becoming human” storyline is arguably the point of this whole novel (with the Finley/Griffon parts being the secondary novel plot, even as they are part of the main series arc) it seems that the way we are shown her becoming human is through Jack’s reluctance to acknowledge it.

Perhaps that’s an unfair judgment, but I don’t really feel that it is. Nor do I feel that it’s necessarily a bad thing. There is no denying that all of these books have had a romantic undertone. And as in romance novels, generally once you have met both the heroine and the hero, you know who will be pairing up with whom. This has been the case since book 1. I think the main difference here is that the conflict keeping Jack and Mila apart for most of the novel is that he refuses to see her as a possible romantic interest for himself. It’s not someone being abducted (Girl With The Iron Touch) or an internal conflict (Girl With The Steel Corset) or the threat of death if the couple doesn’t do what the antagonist wants (Girl With The Clockwork Collar). If anything, this book is more up front about being a romance-focused novel than the rest, though it is still very YA-oriented and hints at things instead of explicitly showing them.

As to the series plot (otherwise known as the Finley/Griffin plot): several things need to be said here. First, it is both nice and super annoying to know who the series villain is and to have the heroes keep confronting him. You know what (and who) to expect, which is both nice and not at the same time. One can only hope that this will eventually end, and the good guys will have finally dealt with the bad guy permanently. Second, it is nice to see minor characters from earlier in the storylines show back up. I do enjoy a good recurring minor character. Third, the best part about the recurring villain thing in this series is that the circumstances are never the same twice. The players may repeat, but the scene does not. That’s very refreshing.

Also, I have to say that I am thrilled with the way that the series arc doesn’t overshadow the novel’s arc, and they can intertwine without either being sacrificed. These two plots blend very nicely in a way that many series novels I’ve read recently don’t, and it’s a point is Ms. Cross’s favor that she’s able to do that successfully. I look forward to seeing what else this series might have in store for us, because I’ve been enjoying it so much. It seems the series is currently planned for 5 novels, which means one more. I’m glad that there’s at least that planned, because I do so enjoy this world.