On this snowy day, I’m taking a break from Sand of Bone revisions. My darlings, I know the revision process has gone on far too long–so long that it feels quite irresponsible to take a break of any sort. But, well… Here we are.
I’ve been reading and muchly enjoying Kate Elliott’s Spiritwalker trilogy. I could go on and on about how much I enjoy the characters and their interactions, or how tickled I am to see the insides of a revolution amidst a realistically convoluted world. But one of the other things Elliott has done beautifully is measure her characters against the immutability of core morality—but never confuses morality with affiliation. With our own current political climate utterly polarized by affiliation, it’s refreshing to watch characters find their allies, question their choices, and make externally-conflicting-but-internally-consistent decisions that are adjusted based upon new information. I haven’t finished the trilogy yet, and so look forward to reading the last third of the third that I find myself purposefully slowing my reading so I don’t reach the end so quickly.
Not too long ago, I finished Pen Pal by Francesca Forrest, recommend by Sherwood Smith. This, too, deals with revolutions and revolutionaries. One central character finds the strength she needs to endure and succeed by holding more and more tightly to narrowing set of goals. The other central character finds her strength though asking tough questions and adjusting her goals and perspectives. Neither is more right or wrong that the other. The challenges the characters face, and the settings in which they face them, require wildly different approaches even though their goals are essentially the same.
Between those two novels, I’ve tried repeatedly to sink into Ancillary Justice. It isn’t that I haven’t liked it—I’ve really been taken by the concepts, in fact—but I haven’t found it as compelling in terms of story. I’ll likely return to it after I finish Elliott’s trilogy in the hope the story will catch me.
On the nonfiction side, I’ve been reading The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back. It’s as long and detailed as an epic novel, and I’ve been very pleased with the data used to back up the claims and proposals, but is too much for me to read and process all in one fell swoop. Even so, I’m repeatedly struck by how we continuously make programs and policies bigger and more complicated in an attempt to make life simpler and easier. It’s essentially investing millions to teach people to do more with less, rather than investing thousands to ensure there is more to do more with. Forex, when I was living on a thousand dollars a month, I didn’t need an expensive training program to help me land a new job. I needed six hundred dollars for new tires so I could drive to the job I was already trained to do. Alas, I qualified for a training program, but there wasn’t even a “buy new tires” program to which I could apply.
Next up on nonfiction is How Can You Defend Those People? recommended by Nancy Jane Moore over at Book View Cafe. The work of criminal defense attorneys fascinates me. (In fact, when I looked into law school, it was with the goal of working as a defense attorney.)
And now, for a few links:
Hackschooling Makes Me Happy is a TEDx talk from teenager Logan LaPlante. I love what this kid is saying, and adore the “structure” of his education. If I had to do it all over again, I’d have homeschooled more fully along those lines. Really, it wasn’t until this year that I completely let go of the curriculum-driven mindset. Would that I had dumped it two years ago!
Fit and Feminist on the neurosis that has permeated The Biggest Loser. I can’t tell you how many folks I’ve seen who are so obsessed with the notion of “healthy weight” that they’re driving themselves into illness to get it. An extra ten or twenty pounds is not nearly as unhealthy for a person as a sedentary life or a diet devoid of essential nutrients. And people look at me like I’m crazy when I tell them that, if they eat stuff like “healthy” granola and yogurts, they might as well chow down on a candy bar.
Over at Books by Women is an article on coming to writing with a theater background. I love and can relate to her discussion of using the tools of compelling theater to write compelling fiction. There is cool stuff there that made me think more about how I use my own theater background.
Lastly, there is The Destructive Power of Publishing. I’ve never been one to completely and utterly dismiss all that Big House publishing is and can be, but I think I’ve made it clear why Big House publishing is not for me. For more on that, check out Judith Tarr’s series on Escaping Stockholm. This article speaks to those reasons.
I like getting my validation directly from readers. Every sale is an acceptance letter!