Lexifabricographer For when the right word just won’t do…

August 26, 2012

Back to the Island 2.22 – Three Minutes

Filed under: back to the island,reviewage — lexifab @ 11:50 pm

Deadlines are drawing nearer on several writing competitions that I plan to enter. Why, then, am I using up my precious time on Lost reviews?

Good question. A better question would be “Why did I just spend all weekend playing the last mission in Tropico 4 over and over again?”

The answer is, of course, because it was hard.

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August 24, 2012

Back to the Island 2.21 – ?

Filed under: back to the island,reviewage — lexifab @ 8:35 pm

It’s been a bit of a trying week or two. The workshop that I’ve been preparing for and planning for all year finally arrived (and went off without a hitch, which was a great payoff for the three sleepless nights and the possibly-cracked tooth that preceded it). Now it feels a bit like a weight has lifted off my shoulders. While I’m sure I’ll yoke up a new one there soon enough, for the moment I actually have a clear head, which feels good. I am going to try to knuckle down and get my fiction on this evening, because that’s been the primary victim of my recent deranged preoccupation with my day job.

But before I get to that, here’s some more Lost. I hate losing momentum on this because I am enjoying the rewatch, so I am going to try to use these reviews as warmups for the fiction writing. I will be curious to see whether that affects their quality at all.

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August 14, 2012

Walking through treacle

Filed under: wordsmithery — lexifab @ 11:00 pm

After two weeks (eep!) of writing not a word of fiction, I finally did some work tonight on one of the three short stories I’m tinkering with. Pure expositional infodump which will need a complete rewrite, but I’ve been putting it off for ages because I knew I couldn’t make it sound any good. Which is stupid, because none of it will sound any good anyway until I get the first draft finished so that i can look at it and figure out what I should have written in the first place.

That said, I did manage to get one killer exchange of dialogue which will probably survive anything but the most brutal editing process.

So apart from the novel, which is on the backburner until I can figure out how to balance out the angst with a meatier plot (and get some jokes in there), I have three stories I’m tinkering with. I’ll vaguely refer to them as the cyclone one, the time travel one and the surfing one. Oh, and there’s the shopping one, but it doesn’t have an ending yet so I’m not quite counting it.

I will hereby set myself the goal of finishing at least one of them before the end of the month. Probably the time travel one, although it’s the most complicated one of the lot. I wish I could be sure it makes even a slight amount of sense…

I let my writing habit get slack in thelast couple of months, a crime that makes frequent appearances on my internal rap sheet. In the past I have tried to guilt myself in spinning my cogs back up to full rotation instantly, but I think I know better than to go from zero to breakneck these days. If I burn myself out by trying too hard, everything suffers – me, the writing, my day job, and everyone who has to put up with me being a grumpy arse.

So instead I will plug away and be satisfied with a couple of hundred words this day or five hundred that or maybe a solid thousand or two if the stars aligns. (Today it was 600+, which was a damn sight better than none). And eventually I’ll get something finished, which is by far the most important part of writing.

August 7, 2012

Books of 2012 – July

Filed under: books of 2012,books read,reviewage — lexifab @ 12:52 pm

Thanks to two separate holidays (one long weekend away and one week at the seaside with the kids) I got stuck into books a bit more last month. That made me happy. Let’s check out what worked its way from one (virtual) pile to another this month, after a “Warning: Long Post” break.

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August 4, 2012

Stained Glass Monsters by Andrea Host

One of the first purchases I made last year for my then-spanking new [1] Kindle e-reader was the complete collection of Andrea Host’s novels, self-published and distributed electronically through Smashwords, Amazon and probably heaps of other places. I immediately devoured the two series – the Medair duology and the Touchstone trilogy – and then went on to massively neglect the two stand-alone novels, Champion of the Rose and this one, Stained Glass Monsters. Well, that was a mistake. I am reviewing this book for the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2012 [2].

 Stained Glass is a pearler, a romantic fantasy with a welcome sense of restraint, for all that the fate of the world is at stake. Initially the story is told from the perspective of resourceful orphan Kendall, who is rescued from an unexpected magical disaster by a mysterious stranger who knew it was going to happen. Kendall, now homeless, is more or less dragged into the wake of the secretive mage, Rennyn, as the authorities appear on the scene and the scope of the threat becomes clear.

From there Stained Glass Monsters becomes a two-hander, switching between Kendall, who is sent off to learn the principles of her latent magical abilities, and Rennyn Claire who, along with her younger brother, is a member of clandestine magical conspiracy dedicated to saving the world. Kendall knows almost nothing about politics or magic, so the reader shares her crash course in world affairs. Rennyn, meanwhile, rushes about from one disaster to the next, walking a fine line between guarding terrible secrets and sharing enough information not to get everyone else killed. Both characters develop relationships with members of the Kellian race, glowing golems-turned-human with supernatural prowess and a mysterious past. If that makes them sound like Twilight vampires, I apologise; the Kellian are cool and awesome, but they also unexpectedly provide the emotional core of the story. A wrenching one it is, too.

The dual perspective is an excellent device for showing the audience the world, though in the latter stages of the book Kendall gets squeezed out a little. I thought that was a shame, though there is no doubt that Rennyn – the cool magical secret agent weighed down by self-doubt and staggering levels of responsibility – is the more interesting character of the two. Not that Kendall doesn’t get her cool moments to shine, but it’s not on her to save the world from astral-dimensional evil.

Stained Glass Monsters is a romantic fantasy, and both heroines develop strong, believable relationships. I thought perhaps too little of the early growth of Rennyn’s romance happened on-screen. It came a little out of nowhere for me (though I concede that as a reader I tend to focus on plot before character, so it’s quite possible there were cues I just missed). Whatever the buildup, Host absolutely nailed the romance itself, which is not only tender and affecting but is also crucial to everything that follows. The stakes in the dramatic climax work on every level.

This story has it all: swashbuckling adventure, magical explosions, monster fighting, kind-of-ancient evils from beyond space, noble sparkling supernatural creatures (who don’t make you want to vomit) and a heroine who would very much like to settle down with a good book and a piece of cake, but only once the world is saved, thank you very much. Highly recommended.

[1] And now slightly grimy and oddly cracking at the inside corners of the screen’s frame . I am morbidly curious about how far the cracks will extend before the whole thing falls apart. So far it has demonstrated a brutish durability I don’t normally associate with consumer electronics.

[2] Reversing my now-inexplicable earlier policy of not reviewing Andrea’s books for the challenge on the basis that I was planning to read them anyway. I guess it’s possible I was operating under the notion that somehow promoting work I had already decided to promote was against the spirit of the challenge? I dunno, that impulse seems dumb in retrospect. Andrea certainly deserves every bit of plugging she gets, because her books are wonderful.[3]

[3] And she has a new one out soon which starts after aliens have destroyed Sydney, on which I am SOLD.

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