Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Book Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium, #1) 

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Silly me, I saw the movie before reading the book. And the film followed the book fairly closely, at least until halfway through. Without spoiling either, they end with differing moral dilemmas.

I don't read a lot of books with omniscient narrators, but it worked for this novel. It did feel a little cold and distant. But I needed some distance from the brutal center of this mystery.

I enjoyed the setting in Sweden, it made me think about how women's rights have, and have not, advanced world wide. The Swedish title is "Men Who Hate Women," for good reason.

Nit: Why couldn't the English translator leave it in metric? My world model for Sweden does not include square feet or Fahrenheit. He/she did leave kilometers in when the action shifted to Australia. Is Australia more metric than Sweden?

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Cherie Priest Reading

Cherie Priest read at the Beaverton Powell's from her book Boneshaker. It's a great Steampunk read, and she's a great speaker. She's very enthusiastic about Steampunk, history, writing, and wild ideas.
I left fired up to work on my Mongolian Steampunk short story. It's been languishing on my laptop's hard drive, and it's time to make it publishable.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Nhoj Fail


Dear John W.S. Marvin:

Thank you for applying to the Clarion West Writers Workshop for 2010.

We are sorry to let inform you that you were not selected for this year's class. We had a large number of applicants, and because the workshop is limited to eighteen students we could not find room for all of the promising writers.

We wish you the best with your writing and hope you have a productive summer.

Thank you again for your interest in Clarion West.


Neile Graham

Oh well, I didn't like the focus on short stories while I'm trying to finish my novel. I'm bummed, but what can you do? Work harder and get this novel done!

Monday, March 15, 2010

My Republican Edits Aren't Working, Time for Universal Plot Care

I've been getting consistent feedback on my novel from my critique group. And I've been trying to fold my fixes back into the new chapters before I hand them out. But I keep getting the same broad strokes feedback: Humor's great, Plot's not strong enough.

While watching the news on the Health Care Reform debate, I heard a Republican say "Let's just do small things, one at a time, that we can all agree on." And President Obama say "We need comprehensive change or it just won't work."

So, channeling my inner Obama, it's time for bold, comprehensive, edits.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Buntho Critique Group

I put up a new website using Blogspot for my Science Fiction and Fantasy critique group. Check it out: http://buntho.blogspot.com.

We are named Buntho because we came out of a Ursula K. Le Guin Portland State class. In her critiques, Le Guin would give the reactions of a clueless, literal-minded reader named "Buntho."

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Clarion West

I applied to Clarion West Writer's Workshop. I sent in the first three chapters of Voodoo Coffee and a synopsis. I'll hear if I got in or not sometime this month. Fingers Crossed!

2010 Clarion West Writers Workshop

Our instructors for the 2010 Clarion West Writers Workshop are Michael Bishop, Maureen McHugh, Nnedi Okorafor, Graham Joyce, Ellen Datlow, and Ian McDonald, the 2010 Susan C. Petrey Fellow.



Monday, March 1, 2010

Book Review: Moon Called by Patricia Briggs

Moon Called (Mercedes Thompson, #1) Moon Called by Patricia Briggs

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the first novel in what has become my favorite urban fantasy series. If you have never read urban fantasy, this would be a great place to start.

Mercedes Thompson is a Native American shapeshifter and Volkswagen mechanic who get involved with some dark deeds when strangers attack an employee of her's. The strangers and the employee are werewolves, and as we follow Mercedes in her dealing with the dark forces that have invaded her life, we learn of her unique childhood. She was raised by werewolves in Montana.

We also get to meet the local "alpha" werewolf and his punk rock daughter, and a host of interesting minor characters. The setting is in the Tri-Cities, Washington. It's modern, and while the public do not know about werewolves or Native American shapeshifters, the magical fey have gone public. Instead of magic being unknown by the public (Jim Butcher), or common place (Kim Harrison), it is in the process of coming out of the closet.

While the cover may indicate otherwise, this isn't lady-porn. Mercedes has a past, has some men (non-human, but male) in her life, but sex and romance support the story, they do not take it over.

The plot, character building, and backstory never get in each other's way, and the book just kept building to a major confrontation. Really nice writing.