Monthly Archives: April 2009

What I Read In April 2009

The Android’s Dream by John Scalzi
The Foundling by Georgette Heyer
Pictures of the Night by Adele Geras
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The War at Ellesmere by Faith Erin Hicks
La’s Orchestra Saves the World by Alexander McCall Smith
Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer
Grand Obsession by Perri Kinze
The Laughter of Dead Kings by Elizabeth Peters
The Luxe by Anna Godbersen
Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch
J.K. Rowling: The Genius Behind Harry Potter by Sean Smith
Companion to Wolves by Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear
The Mystery of Grace by Charles de Lint
Lord John and the Hand of Devils by Diana Gabaldon
Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer
Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade by Diana Gabaldon
Coastliners by Joanne Harris


The Book Thief by Markus Zusak: Not a comfortable book to read, but so very well-written. Staggering.

La’s Orchestra Saves the World by Alexander McCall Smith: Yes! I’ll own this when it comes out in paperback. Excellent. I’m relieved, as I didn’t care for The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency at all when I tried it last month, although I love all his other books.

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer: A non-event. The pacing and emotional tone don’t deviate from a steady flatline. An incredible amount of stuff happens that should be emotionally resonant, and you just don’t care.

Grand Obsession by Perri Kinze: Excellent. Beautifully written exploration of what makes us fall in love with an instrument, and how we can respond emotionally to certain sounds when others don’t.

Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch: It takes me a while to get around to reading a Scott Lynch book after buying it, but once I’m reading them they’re brilliant and the best book ever. Damn, he’s good. Plots within plots, greatc haracters, swashbuckling, swindling, triple- and quadruple-crossing. Great fun.

J.K. Rowling: The Genius Behind Harry Potter by Sean Smith: This book should be used as an example of how not to write a biography. A lot of it was “JK did/knew/passed within thirty feet of this event/person/place, and look, I can find a tenuous/coincidental/obvious/oblique parallel in her books!” It drove me up the wall in Wiccan Roots, and it drove me up the wall here.

Companion to Wolves by Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear: Best surprise of the month: Opening this hardcover book to find that BOTH AUTHORS HAD SIGNED IT. Score!

From The Files of Argh…

I have just called an end to a very intense work day.

Remember when I said oh yay, there aren’t many queries in this copy-edited anthology manuscript? Well, there aren’t.

But there are a tonne of inconsistencies the copy-editor overlooked, or worse, created by changing some things but not others. Things were edited so that they no longer matched house style (this one mystifies me). Odd stylistic choices were made that read very awkwardly.

So I’ve spent the day handling the rest of the queries (four sent out to contributors because I can’t answer them), then going through the ms. looking for things the CE overlooked. I’ll have to go back tomorrow morning and go through the first half of the ms. to fix the things I started fixing halfway through the file today.

This doesn’t happen often, thank goodness. In fact, I’ve only caught one or two missed or incorrectly edited things per ms. in the past. This one, though, wow. I think the CE must have been having a very off day.

My back is now killing me and I need to go lie down on the floor to try to straighten it out.

Orchestra tonight. Today’s practise got shelved because of the amount of work I did. I should look at the Vaughn-Williams while lying on the floor so as not to get caught completely flat-footed at rehearsal.


One thing I love about the Internet (hello, Internet!) is that it’s good for sharing stuff with millions of people you’ve never met.

Allow me to share some music with you.

I discovered Philip Sheppard almost exactly two years ago. He’s a cellist and a very talented composer. I used to have his MySpace page open while I worked on other things so I could listen to his posted tracks on an endless loop. I got other people hooked, too, muah-hah-hah.

Now he’s posting more and more tracks, some free to download as mp3s, others embedded within his web site. As a start, visit this page to listen to a selection of his haunting piano pieces. A handful of free mp3s for download can be found here. There are other embedded pieces of various styles scattered throughout the site’s pages, too, as well as a free download of sheet music for his lovely Crystallized Beauty theme, arranged for two pianos.


Radiomovies (Philip Sheppard’s official blog and web site)
Philip Sheppard’s MySpace page

Dear Amazon

You and I have an on-again off-again relationship. I’ll order stuff I can’t get anywhere else in a flurry while I’m working on a book, then ignore you for months on end. I consult you for research and for maintaining wish lists, and tell people to buy me things elsewhere. I use you, I admit that. And I don’t mean in a tool or services kind of way; I mean I abuse you callously.

And still, you gamely try to convince me that we’re meant to be. “Look at these shiny new books!” you say, sending me e-mails with colourful covers displayed in them. Except if you really loved me, you’d think about the titles you recommend to me. Just because I bought the same book that someone else did doesn’t mean I like everything else in their past orders. Ninety-eight percent of the time I roll my eyes at your eager but pathetic suggestion and delete them. The other two percent of the time I click through and dismiss them after reading the summaries. No, I don’t watch the movies you try to sell me just because I bought something as a gift for someone else. And no, I really don’t want to play the Nintendo DS or Xbox games you wave at me. My purchasing history and wish list picks really, really don’t line up with the average cross-indexing of your database.

Also, what’s with recommending me things that I have already bought from you? “We’ve noticed people who have bought books about XYZ also buy these titles!” Yes, they do. I’m one of them. Why recommend books I already own? Especially when I bought some of them through you in a spate of book research three years ago? Don’t you listen to me? How could you forget?

The one lame thing you do that endears you to me, you pathetically adoring creature, is that you recommend my own books to me. Why yes, I would like to read a book on hearth- and home-based spirituality. That’s why I wrote one. Thank you.

I can only imagine the equal bemusement experienced by other clients when you send them e-mails saying, “We’ve noticed that people who have purchased Mass Effect for Xbox in the past have also purchased this new Wicca title!” Or this new book on musicology, or knitting techniques, or a biography of Queen Isabella of France, or female musicians in seventeenth century Venice, or breastfeeding. Because really, Amazon, I know that although you’re swearing up and down that you do love me for myself and we’re meant to be together, I know you’re just phoning it in. You’re simply not trying. You’re attempting to keep this relationship going by skimming how-to books and relationship magazines in supermarket check-out racks and using superficial techniques to try to catch my attention. I’m not your average girl, and trying to entice me closer by waving best-seller stuff at me won’t work. And you’re trying to hook up with millions of other people at the same time, too, hoping that one of us will fall for it.

You get marks for trying, but you’re coming dangerously close to stalker status, Amazon. Especially when you send me mail from thinly disguised sock puppet accounts like .com and as well as from .ca. I know you’re all the same entity. You’re not fooling me.

Face it, Amazon. I keep you around because you can get me books I can’t get anywhere else. Sure, sometimes I go slumming and toss a mass-market paperback into my shopping cart because it will bump me over the minimum required for free shipping. But I’m not an easily wowed or cheap date.



Enter The Clue By Four

The copyedits for the anthology landed in my in-box this morning.

Naturally, even though I didn’t write 98% of this ms., my first instinct was to quail.

I should really remember that I’m very good at my job more often. The ms. is pretty darn clean, with only a handful of queries in the first half that I’ve done today, most of which I can handle myself without checking with the authors. Most of the copyedits are simply punctuation and house style stuff.

I am good at what I do. Why does this fact elude me so often?

Of Course

Trust my son to have a breakdown because the ribbons aren’t covering the entire Maypole. “But there’s still wood at the bottom!” he wailed.

Other than that, awesome Pagan playgroup meeting this morning. Nothing like having six under-nines learning how to do a Maypole for the first time. I think the parents had even more fun coaching and watching and laughing.

Yesterday was an excellent Day One of the local Beltane Fair, where I met Judika Illes for the first time and saw other friends whom I don’t get to see often as well. My workshop went decently well, as did the authors panel afterwards. Gorgeous day, too; twenty-six degrees Celsius, brilliantly sunny with a good wind. Lovely. Brought the boy back home, had dinner, crashed; the boy woke up at three, as he’s been doing lately, and ghosted into our room to ask for cuddles. I took him back to his bed but he didn’t sleep, so forty-five minutes later, after a glass of water, he looked at me with soulful eyes and said, “Mama, may I please cuddle with you and Dada in your bed?” And to do him justice, he did sleep properly once there. I did not, but they gave me an two hours of sleep on my own after they got up at seven.

Today’s Day Two of the fair, and we’re going back again after the boy’s nap for Tal’s book launch and to mingle with new and old friends for a while longer. I’m glad the original plan to be out of town today was cancelled so we could go back one more time.

And since this looks like the weekend roundup, I will mention that I had a most excellent cello lesson first thing Saturday morning, too. It was the kind of lesson where there were a couple of breakthroughs, and I felt suspiciously like a Real Cellist at the end. I also cast on my Picovoli sleeveless sweater Friday afternoon, using a lovely Pima cotton on the new Harmony circulars I ordered from KnitPicks. And it’s my dad’s birthday today, so happy birthday, Dad!


Doing the evaluation of the final third of Orchestrated today. Why is it not finished, when I have had all week to work on it? I… keep falling asleep. No, really. Not because it’s bad or boring, just because my body has been wresting the steering wheel out of my hands and saying “NOW WE WILL NAP” around two every day, and bang, my eyes are closing and I have to put the ms. or whatever book I’m reading down and pass out for an hour or so. Then it’s cello and making dinner and the boys are home, and yeah.

What I’m discovering about the ms. is that it flows decently well. I haven’t yet found a gap or a hole that really absolutely needs to be filled; there’s nothing obvious missing. Things need to be tightened up here and there or expanded a tiny bit, but overall it’s surprisingly solid. I also have really good places that can be used as chapter break points. I may need to go back and insert one or two more clues to the eventual crisis of a main character, but that’s actually minor. I found a place where some of my intro-stuff-written-for-me-but-unnecessary-for-readers can go, and in the new place set in dialogue will actually serve the purpose of character interaction/deepening.

I read pretty much the entirety of Perri Knize’s Grand Obsession in one day. It was fabulous. I was worried at one or two points that it was going to veer a bit too far into the mystical (and coming from me that’s saying something) but it righted itself in time. After all, how do you define how music affects us? It’s a twofold story about a woman deciding to study piano in middle age and buying one, then trying to understand what the personal connection to a specific instrument is (not violin or cello or piano, but one specific example of the chosen instrument), and an exploration of how pianos are built and maintained.

We had out second rehearsal with our third guest conductor and I enjoyed it even more than the first. He’s good. There is a problem with his voice carrying to the back, but he’s terrific in his bilingualism, and his musicality and his interaction are fabulous. He knows exactly what to work to smooth out problems, and how to phrase what he’s looking for. We’ve added Grieg’s Norwegian Dances to the programme, and (hurrah!) Vaughn Williams’ English Folk Song suite. Of course, the Vaughn Williams starts in A-flat major (F minor? no, pretty sure it’s Ab) which is four flats, augh! I have enough trouble remembering to flatten my As, and he wants me to flatten my Ds as well? But it is Vaughn Williams and I am over the moon.

Also in cello news, while I was working on some ensemble stuff earlier this week and trying to isolate why my intonation was unstable, my left elbow kind of said, “Oh, I’ve got it,” and moved a millimetre or two forward on the horizontal axis, all on its own. And it solved the problem. I was amazed and very grateful to it. Perhaps the next time I have a problem of some kind I shall consult it.

My friendly neighbourhood postperson brought me my two Harmony circular needles I ordered from KnitPicks today, along with the sample skein of green Pima cotton yarn I ordered. The colour’s a bit bright for the sweater I ultimately wanted it for; it was a bit less yellow on my monitor. Not a problem; I ordered it to test it out in a washcloth kind of swatch anyhow.

Did the groceries and some birthday shopping this morning and also acquired a new blouse for myself. It never ceases to amaze me how much I hate shopping for clothes, and yet have managed to acquire two new pairs of shoes, two blouses, and three sweaters in the past month. They all kind of ambushed me, though; it’s not like I decided I needed new stuff and went looking. Well, okay, I needed new black shoes, but I found them by accident just browsing in Winners. And I went into a store because I remembered seeing a blouse and ended up not buying it but two other sweaters. Still. And while I bought the blouse today I wondered, Where do I wear all this stuff other than to orchestra and my cello lessons? I work at home. I mean, I occasionally go out, but not often. I wear jeans and t-shirts most of the time. Maybe I’ll institute a one-day-a-week workday in the library just so I can wear slightly nicer stuff. Good grief.

Right-o; back to work. Also need to collect wrapping paper and addresses for a trip to the post office later.