More 99c Books from the Swerve Sale!

Sep. 20th, 2017 03:30 pm
[syndicated profile] smartbitches_feed

Posted by Amanda

Level Up

RECOMMENDED: Level Up by Cathy Yardley is 99c! Sarah and author Bree Bridges (one half of Kit Rocha!) had an entire podcast episode dedicated to squeeing about this book. If you want more geeky romances in your life, the next book, One True Pairing, is also on sale!

Geeky introvert Tessa Rodriguez will do whatever it takes to get promoted to video game engineer– including create a fandom-based video game in just three weeks. The only problem is, she can’t do it alone. Now, she needs to strong-arm, cajole, and otherwise socialize with her video game coworkers, especially her roommate, Adam, who’s always been strictly business with her. The more they work together, though, the closer they get…

Adam London has always thought of his roomie Tessa as “one of the guys” until he agreed to help her with this crazy project. Now, he’s thinking of her all the time… and certainly as something more than just a roommate! But his last girlfriend broke up with him to follow her ambitions, and he knows that Tessa is obsessed with getting ahead in the video game world.

Going from friends to something more is one hell of a challenge. Can Tessa and Adam level up their relationship to love?

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This book is on sale at:

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Crossing the Line

Crossing the Line by Audra North is 99c! This is the third book in the Hard Driving series, but it works fine as a standalone. I’ve read some of North’s books in the past and she does write some pretty sexy contemporaries. Readers loved the chemistry between the hero and heroine, but others wanted more racing action.

He wanted her the first time he saw her. It didn’t matter that he was on stage in front of a room full of reporters, or that his publicist was telling him to move on, or that she was asking him a question about racing. One look at her “just been bedded” hair — completely at odds with her deliciously prim appearance — and Ty Riggs is hooked.

Corrine Bellows is one of the woefully few women in a male profession: sports reporting. In a field where “Hey, sweetheart, can you fetch me a cup of copy” is part of her job description, she’s determined to keep things professional. And while interviewing Ty Riggs, the hottest new driver on and off the track, is a major scoop, Corrine knows that she is in major trouble when it becomes clear that Ty wants so much more and is determined to get it. As things heat up between them, Corrine finds herself on shakier ground. Her big secret just may destroy everything.

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This book is on sale at:

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Beauty and the Highland Beast

Beauty and the Highland Beast by Lecia Cornwall is 99c! This is a historical romance with Beauty and the Beast elements. Readers say the book has a great start introducing the hero and the heroine, but there were others who felt a lot of the plot points seemed unnecessary. It has a 3.8-star rating on Goodreads. This is the first book in the A Highland Fairytale series and right now, you can grab all three books for less than $3!

Powerful and dangerous highlander Dair Sinclair was once the favored son of his clan, The Sinclairs of Carraig Brigh. With Dair at the helm, Sinclair ships circled the globe bringing home incredible fortune. Until one deadly mission when Dair is captured, tortured and is unable to save his young cousin. He returns home breaking under the weight of his guilt and becomes known as the Madman of Carraig Brigh.

When a pagan healer predicts that only a virgin bride can heal his son’s body and mind, Dair’s father sets off to find the perfect wife for his son. At the castle of the fearsome McLeods, he meets lovely and kind Fia MacLeod.

Although Dair does his best to frighten Fia, she sees the man underneath the damage and uses her charm and special gifts to heal his mind and heart. Will Dair let Fia love him or is he cursed with madness forever?

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This book is on sale at:

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Meat by Opal Carew is 99c! It doesn’t look like this book is part of any series, so you can read without worrying about details from any previous books. I wanted to include this book because the title made me giggle. This definitely falls into the erotic romance category, so expect a lot of sexytimes. However, readers thought the book could have benefitted from being a bit longer.

Just one taste isn’t enough…

I ran into Rex Keene—literally—when I was trying to catch my flight and his muscled, tattooed arms stopped my fall.

Then our flight gets canceled, and we’re stranded in the same hotel room together…it ended up being the steamiest night of my life.

All I knew is that I had to see him again.

I just didn’t expect him to show up a week later in the restaurant I manage…as our new head chef.

But the generous, tender man I spent that night with is gone; instead he’s arrogant, demanding, and terrorizing the staff.

But he won’t give up until we’re together – and I’m not sure I can stay away.

Which man is real?

Who is Rex Keene?

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This book is on sale at:

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[syndicated profile] captainawkward_feed

Posted by JenniferP

Dear Captain,

Over the last year, a once close friend of mine and I have been experiencing the African Violet of broken friendship. We had been through a very intense multi-year creative work project together, and after the project finished and she moved onto another job, we kind of drifted apart. For my part, I felt that sometimes she could say very unkind or cruel things. I noticed about two years ago that I was working very hard to win her approval, and felt very anxious if I didn’t get it and recognized that this friendship had become a bit unhealthy. I still valued many things about my friend, and thought that by setting some boundaries I could change the dynamic. After any incident where she said something unkind (for example, that half of the work on my part of the project was not my own work, which really hurt my feelings) or been judgmental (for example, negatively commenting on the dynamics of my relationship with my partner or how much I was eating and snacking during the intense project), I would take some space. Over the last couple of years my confidence has grown, not just in this area but in many other areas of my life, and I have been able to deal with some anxiety issues I had and learn how to set boundaries.

She started mainly hanging out with some different friends, and although we were still in touch, our conversation was becoming more and more surface-level. Anytime I suggested meeting up she would be really vague or say no. I was quite hurt at the time that she didn’t seem to want to hang out with me anymore, but I knew that we had just been through a really intense period in our lives and maybe she needed her space. There was always room for our friendship to get renewed further down the line. Before yesterday, we hadn’t been in contact for about four months. There wasn’t anything particularly negative about our last contact, it just tailed off.

I recently got a new job that I am very excited about and yesterday, in a whatsapp group she is also part of, someone congratulated me on my new job. About an hour later I got an feelingsemail from my friend. It’s not a nice email. It’s basically a bitter rant about how I have changed as a person. She said she didn’t recognize me anymore and how she had become fed up of what she perceives as my faults, and me being distant, over the last two years. She said that she didn’t deserve this kind of behavior from me and that she had never thought I would cut her off like this, although she had seen me do it to others (I don’t know where this comes from, I haven’t cut any one off apart from one girl back in high school which was 15 years ago!). In her mind, I am the bad guy, and it doesn’t sound like she is open to listening to anything else. She did say congratulations about the new job at the end.

I want to reply in a kind and compassionate way, because there were many things I valued about our friendship. We were so close, and I miss her. However, I don’t know what to say or how to respond to this email. I understand she sent it in a fit of overwhelming feelings, and underneath the accusations and manipulative statements, really she’s just sad about the loss of our friendship. I am open to being friends again, and rebuilding our relationship but it can’t be like this. I want to acknowledge the email, but I don’t want to get caught up in back and forth about who did what, or act in a way that says I think this email is acceptable, or apologize for things I haven’t done. How should I respond to this feelingsbomb? Should I even respond? How can people respond kindly and compassionately to feelingsmail in general?

Best wishes,
I’ve got feelingsmail

Dear Feelingsmail Receiver,

Your friend is projecting all over the place and all over you, a behavior where you take the stuff you are doing (especially stuff that you feel guilty about or ashamed of or upset about) and assign that behavior and the blame for it to someone else. Like the thing where you kept trying to make plans and she rebuffed you is now all about how you’ve abandoned her. Interesting.

Also Interesting: The less time you spend with her, the happier and more confident you’ve become over time.

Interesting Indeed: A really happy moment for you (congratulations on your new job!) has become the catalyst for her to criticize and accuse you of being a bad person and a bad friend. Not cool.

I don’t know how you repair that. It sounds like the way you’ve been drifting away from each other has been organic, with you taking care of yourself by taking space when you need it, and her choosing the company of other friends over you when she needs that.

Now she wants you to apologize and accept all the blame for the fact that your friendship isn’t as close as it was, and she also wants you to chase her. Do you want to do any of those things?

In your shoes I might just write back “Wow, okay??? Thanks for the good wishes at least. As for the rest, I miss spending time with you, too,” and just ignore the steaming pile of Feelings and Accusations. And then I’d let the ball be in her court to follow up, either to apologize or to suggest a time to get together.

I predict she will find this answer from you somewhat maddening and not see it as the face-saving mercy that it actually is, but that’s not your fault or your work to do to deal with. You don’t owe her a point-by-point response to her projection or the emotional catharsis she sought at your expense. (Note: You don’t actually owe friendship or any response at all to someone who sends you such a mean, rude message!) If she comes back with an apology or invitation to grab lunch or coffee, that will give you some useful information and if she comes back with renewed vitriol about what a terrible friend and person you are that will also give you some useful information.

If you do eventually sit down and address the issues in the friendship someday, you could say “Well, I’d been feeling like you didn’t want to hang out with me, so I stopped pushing and gave you space. I guess we’ve been mirroring each other.” It’s true and is neither an accusation nor an apology.

You can also ask her “Well, in a perfect world, where we have exactly the kind of friendship you want, how would you like this to work out?” and see what she says. In a difficult conversation where there’s a risk of getting stuck in a back-and-forth “It’s your fault”/”No it isn’t” about the past, this question can prompt people to stop and articulate a positive vision for the future. What’s the best case scenario where you get to recover a friendship that works for both of you? This “workable” version may be a very tiny, small-doses thing or no friendship at all, but I think this is your best chance for finding out if anything here can be saved.

monanotlisa: (ignoranus)
[personal profile] monanotlisa
Also off my trusty friendslist, here is a dossier on white supremacy in the US -- from a source on the inside who infiltrated key organizations for years.

White Supremacy background and history, plus of course present danger: The International Alternative Right

monanotlisa: Lucca Quinn, centered, looking thoughtful (lucca - the good fight)
[personal profile] monanotlisa
C/p'd from [personal profile] giandujakiss:

The GOP broke off bipartisan talks with Dems to shore up ACA's insurance markets, and now they're trying - again - to unilaterally repeal ACA and take with it a huge chunk of Medicaid (which will, of course, completely destabilize our entire healthcare system, but that's where we are).

You can find more information by googling Graham-Cassidy, but here's one link [on this new attempt to dismantle the ACA].

Apparently, Lindsey Graham - one of the bill's sponsors - got on Breitbart radio (yes, now we're integrating Breitbart into GOP mainstream, fun times ahead) to urge listeners to call in support of the new bill, so it's VERY IMPORTANT that the Senate be flooded with opposition calls.

Here is one script and information resource.


Sep. 20th, 2017 10:10 am
mdehners: (Default)
[personal profile] mdehners
...comes from Michael Anderle's 'Kurtherian Gambit' series. And while it's like the best chips so you can't stop snacking on, this post isn't about the series but about the major Event on Earth.
WWDE stands for World's Worst Day Ever. The Apocalypse. One that is probably the most probable, though Anderle's the 1st writer I've seen to use the method, though I've actually seen the Event's causation mentioned off-n-on online and hardcopy news that tend toward hard sciences.
On Anderle's Earth, various powers had written into the chips they put into their products containing software that would, given the right signal "kill" the product. In one of the "Queen Bitch" books, reporters question a "Green" politico that got kickbacks from one of those powers. The reporters pointed out that replacing an American power plant with Solar from this country meant they could shut off that Power....or even Blackmail by simply threatening. And just like our world, the subject was too "Science-y" and was ignored. As to be expected, everyone who had written this kind of software also had written so that the moment a signal that someone else started, they'd activate THEIRS. In this world, our present civilization was over in MINUTES.
I'm not worried about Global Nuclear War. The PRESENT skirmishes are in Cyberspace as will be the next WW. At least it'll be easier on the environment....
[syndicated profile] tordotcom_feed

Posted by Stubby the Rocket

The Punisher

Marvel and Netflix have given us a knew look at Jon Bernthal as The Punisher! And it is dark, violent, and is basically the most PUNISHER thing that ever PUNISHED. Be warned that there is a straight-up murder shown in the first few seconds of the trailer…but, well, it’s called The Punisher for a reason. Plus, as always, the Netflix/Marvel music cues are more perfect than perfect.

Click through for the full trailer!

See? Marvel/Netflix knows the crap out of their audience. And how sweet were those machine gun/drumbeats? The Punisher will skulk into our Netflix queues on later this fall!

[via Netflix!]


[syndicated profile] tordotcom_feed

Posted by Grady Hendrix

STEPHEN KING: I am going to write a book.


STEPHEN KING: It will be a sequel to The Shining, and Carrie will be in it.

PUBLISHER: But HawtRoland1208 already did that on

STEPHEN KING: It will have vampires.

PUBLISHER: Vampires are sexy.

STEPHEN KING: My vampires will be old and drive R/Vs and torture children to death.

PUBLISHER: You look tired. Are you tired? Maybe you should skip the book and take a beach vacation instead.

Fact: Stephen King once ran over a leprechaun and it cursed him so that if he ever stops typing, he dies. Since 11/22/63 thudded onto bookstore shelves in 2011 he’s published a play, two novels, reissued a previous novel, cranked out two collaborative novellas, and one Kindle Single. He wrote that one in his sleep. Earlier this year he also published the novel Joyland about a haunted amusement park but let’s face it, Joyland cannot be a serious King book because it is less than 5,000,000 pages long and sounds like a repurposed spec script he once wrote for Scooby Doo.

So, with lots of qualifying phrases, Doctor Sleep is the “first” “new” “Stephen King book” in a “very long time.” A sequel to one of his most iconic books (The Shining) written 36 years (and 51 novels—he’s pretty scared of that leprechaun) ago, when it came out the most recent project that had King’s name on it was the TV series Under the Dome so anything short of being hit in the back of the head with a sock full of pennies probably sounded like a win to his readers. And let’s be clear, reading Doctor Sleep is way better than getting hit in the back of the head with a sock full of pennies. For one thing, you don’t lie on the ground in a stupor afterwards while a thief goes through your pockets. For another, Doctor Sleep doesn’t suck and, for a sequel to one of the most beloved horror novels of all time, that in itself is kind of a miracle.

In interviews, King has speculated on what would happen if Danny Torrance, the psychic kid from The Shining, grew up and married Carrie White, the psychic teenager in Carrie (no mention was made of The Dead Zone’s Johnny Smith becoming their wacky landlord, or Firestarter’s Charlie McGee being their kooky roommate—but the potential for a psychic version of Three’s Company is clearly there). King’s Carrie White is 11 years older than Danny Torrance so there’s a bit of an age gap to overcome on top of everything else, but you can tell it’s the kind of high concept idea that King couldn’t let go of and in Doctor Sleep he actually pulls it off without the creepiness you might normally feel when a 66 year-old-man tells you that two of his imaginary playmates are getting married.

King has always been more than a little obsessed with the idea of reworking The Shining. Did you know he hated the Stanley Kubrick film? You did? That’s because he won’t shut up about it. You can imagine him jumping up and down and shouting “Whooppee!” when he realized that the Author’s Note at the end of Doctor Sleep would provide him with yet another forum to slag off Kubrick’s now-classic film. He even took his own stab at redoing it himself, working with director Mick Garris and writing a 1997 The Shining TV miniseries starring Steven “Wings” Weber and Rebecca “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle” De Mornay. How was it? It ended with the proud ghost of Jack Torrance attending his son’s high school graduation, so there’s that. Even King seems a bit embarrassed about how his version turned out because in Doctor Sleep he retcons it out of existence, making sure we know that Jack Torrance never attended Alcoholics Anonymous, whereas in his Shining miniseries Jack got his job at the Overlook Hotel thanks to his AA sponsor.

It might feel weird to talk about continuity in a novelist’s body of work, but King loves stitching his fictional worlds together, like a kid making his GI Joes join the Star Wars guys to fight the Smurfs. In Doctor Sleep there’re shout outs to Jerusalem’s Lot (setting of ‘Salem’s Lot) and another to Castle Rock, King’s favorite fictional town. There’s even a mention of Charlie Manx, the bad guy from his son, Joe Hill’s, recent book, NOS4A2, and a car sporting a bumper sticker for that book’s Christmasland. But most of the connections to previous books are to The Shining, and to poor little Danny Torrance.

All grown up, the fresh-faced five-year-old of King’s 1977 book is now a 40-year-old alcoholic struggling to stay sober, the kind of guy who cleaned out the wallet of his one-night-stand and left her kid teething on a bag of cocaine before he ran out the door. That was the moment he hit bottom and these days, Danny works as a janitor in a hospice where he’s earned the nickname Doctor Sleep because he helps patients die, not so much by holding a pillow over their faces but by being super empathetic and using his psychic “shining” power to make death a more positive experience for them. But a gang of psychic vampires known as the True Knot are cruising the country in their Winnebagos, feeding off the “steam” (psychic essence?) of kids who have the shining. I’m not sure if King is working on some kind of metaphor about how old people and their social security are sucking the life out of young kids, but I bet Joe Hill might have something to say about rich old people who just won’t die sucking up all the oxygen.

Enter teenager Abra Stone, who is basically a better adjusted Carrie White, able to move objects with her mind—but wait!—she can also see cryptic visions of the future. She’s got so much steam building up in her that the True Knot sense her existence from across the country and come gunning for her. With nowhere to turn, she reaches out to dried up old Danny Torrance for help.

Compare Doctor Sleep to The Shining and commit a bit of blasphemy because, line for line, Doctor Sleep kicks its butt all over the page. The sentences are crisper, the imagery more surprising, and King, with a Medal of Distinguished Contribution to American Letters under his belt, is content to say things once rather than again and again as he was wont to do early in his career. At 528 pages, most people aren’t going to be tucking Doctor Sleep into the back pockets of their jeans, but the length is earned and not on account of endless historical digressions (like It) or proliferating POVs (like The Stand).

Despite occasionally feeling like Mad Libs (“The True Knot requires the steam from your shining,” could be one of its sentences), King manages to make his readers feel not the slightest bit stupid while reading this book. In fact, for the first half of the book, the True Knot are the scariest bad guys to ever brag about their Fujitsu ScanSnap S1100s. Another neat trick? He writes a sequel to a beloved book that not only doesn’t diminish The Shining but actually adds to it. In a world of Scarlett (sequel to Gone with the Wind) or The Book of the Green Planet (sequel to ET), that’s no small feat. I’m a pretty jaded reader, but this was a book that I couldn’t put down…until page 417.

That was the moment when I realized that nothing bad was going to happen, and let’s face it, we read Stephen King for bad things to happen—the bucket of blood in Carrie, the shoebox in the closet of The Stand, the mid-book twist of Firestarter, the bummer ending in “The Body,” the messed-up climax of The Dead Zone. But when Danny and Abra come up with a plan to defeat the True Knot—a plan that requires several characters to accept ridiculous claims without meaningful argument, the invincible bad guys to suffer a massive IQ drop, a previously evil ghost to do the good guys a solid, and for every elaborate deception to unfold seamlessly—the whole thing goes off without a hitch. That’s just not interesting.

The problem is Abra, the closest thing to a Mary Sue King has ever written. Despite a nod to having anger issues and telling a little white lie to her parents, she’s too perfect, too powerful, too absolutely amazing in every way. Her story comes to an end with no price paid for victory, no scars from the trauma, no lessons learned except how awesome it is to have superpowers. Throw in a completely out-of-left field long-lost-relative revelation that is reminiscent of Charles Dickens at his worst, and King almost manages to ruin his previous 400+ pages with his last 100. Almost.

But at the end of the book, King returns to his more interesting character: failed, flawed, fighting-to-stay-sober Danny Torrance. As King’s recent books have become more and more obsessed with death, and featured more and more characters dying of (or surviving) cancer, it’s no small thing that Danny works in a hospice providing end of life care for terminal patients. In the final chapter, he has to provide his psychic euthanasia services to a character he loathes and it winds up being a minor-key coda like the last pages of The Dead Zone, or The Stand, or Cujo, or even It. It’s become popular for the cool kids to claim that King can’t write endings, but I think it’s his small, quiet, emotionally mature endings that are the best part of his books, and the one he serves up in Doctor Sleep redeems his too-slick, action-packed climax.

Readers must have thought the same thing, because Doctor Sleep sold a ton of copies. It debuted at number one on the New York Times bestseller list and even though it only stayed there for about three weeks, it hung on in the top ten for fifteen weeks, which is pretty good for King these days. Back around Gerald’s Game, King stayed on the list for about 30 weeks with every book, but that fell to ten weeks or so around the time of From a Buick 8. 11/22/63 returned him to somewhere in the middle, hanging on for around 16 weeks, and with Doctor Sleep doing about the same it looks like that’s his place these days, and that’s pretty good. Even in his latest incarnation as an elder statesman of American letters (with the medal to prove it) King’s still no slouch when it comes to sales.

Doctor Sleep rocks as long as it keeps its focus on Danny Torrance and his sobriety which is so delicate, so fragile, and so clearly precious both to him and to his author that it feels worth fighting for. When it shifts to Little Miss Perfect (aka Abra) it’s still satisfying, but mostly on the level of a Clive Cussler book. Nothing wrong with that, but you don’t win a Medal of Distinguished Contribution to American Letters for being Clive Cussler.

Fortunately, King is now a good enough writer to fluff the entire action-packed climax of his book and still stick the landing through sheer writerly skill and a deep, empathetic love for his imaginary characters. In fact, the ending almost brings a tear to your eye. Which is no small thing in a book that posits 9/11 as a giant ashes-huffing party for vampires, and a scene of high tension featuring our heroes riding into danger on a teeny tiny choo-choo train.

This article was originally published as a book review in October 2013.

Grady Hendrix is the author of My Best Friend’s Exorcism, Horrrostör, and, most recently, Paperbacks from Hell, a history of the horror paperback boom of the Seventies and Eighties.

L'shanah tovah!

Sep. 20th, 2017 08:01 am
monanotlisa: (apples how you like dem)
[personal profile] monanotlisa
A little early, but I won't be around later, so: a happy start of the High Holy Days to you, if you celebrate!

My secular Jewish household will mostly eat apples and sweet honey when it comes to action. But both my wife and I will think of the Jewish community, in our different ways as an American Jew and a German Gentile.

Drabble: Perfect Conditions

Sep. 20th, 2017 10:08 am
alisanne: (Nev_eyes)
[personal profile] alisanne
Title: Perfect Conditions
Author: [personal profile] alisanne
Pairing/Characters: Neville Longbottom/Draco Malfoy
Word Count: 100 x 3
Rating: PG-13
Challenge: Written for [ profile] neville100/[community profile] neville100's prompt# 365: All Year Round.
Warning(s)/Genre: Erotica, mild bondage.
Beta(s): [personal profile] sevfan and emynn.
Disclaimer: The characters contained herein are not mine. No money is being made from this fiction, which is presented for entertainment purposes only.

Perfect Conditions )

Leave it to the other girls to play

Sep. 20th, 2017 11:05 am
musesfool: Jason Toddler shows off his new costume to Dick (everybody starts somewhere)
[personal profile] musesfool
Board meeting went well, even though it rained so the rooftop terrace at the venue went unused. Sigh. I went home afterwards and fell into bed at 8:30 pm after eating cookies and milk for dinner. I win at adulting!

Of course, the one night I go to bed without checking my flist, it turned out there was a question about my yuletide nominations. It is a spoiler for Crooked Kingdom but spoiler! ) As of this morning, he was approved without my having to say anything, but I did comment anyway to say what I said under the cut.

Now Gotham Academy has to be approved! I'm sure there'll be a question about Damian Wayne there too but he does show up more than once over the course of the comic. Which I guess is as good a lead-in as any to discuss Second Semester:

What I've just finished
Gotham Academy: Second Semester, which I enjoyed, though boy they do not shy away from making the kids selfish, thoughtless and highly teenagery. spoilers )

I did like that they have all really gelled into a team - I enjoyed Colton and Pomeline sniping at each other while they work together a lot. And any Maps+Damian team-up is A++ in my book. Best Team! For yuletide, I just want schoolgirl (and boy, though I care less about the boys) supernatural detective shenanigans, with occasional Robin.

Though have we ever gotten an explanation on why/how MacPherson knows Bruce Wayne is Batman?

This morning, I also read the Star Wars Annual #3 which is a nice Han/Leia story with some fun Indiana Jones references and Leia being her usual awesome self. I also liked how it explained Han sticking around with the Rebellion, neatly giving him an excuse he could live with to cover up the real reason.

What I'm reading now
Still A Ruin of Angels. I have to admit, I find "Trust me! / Don't you trust me? / I didn't tell you this hugely important secret because plot reasons it was too dangerous!" to be super irritating in a character so a lot of the plot machinations are making me say, "If Woody had gone to the police, this never would have happened!" "If Ley had just told Zeddig what was up, things might have played out differently!" Like, things still would have gone to hell in a handbasket, but I'd have a lot more sympathy for Ley when they did. Otoh, Izza and Kai and Tara! <333

And speaking of Crooked Kingdom above, yesterday I was thinking about how dropping the Crows kids into the Craft universe would work, since so much of the magic etc. in the latter is based on negotiation and deals, and the deal is the deal, right? Someone who isn't me should write that.

What I'm reading next
Two weeks until the new Magnus Chase comes out, so who knows? I do have a ton of stuff on the iPad, ready to go!

[syndicated profile] tordotcom_feed

Posted by

Tor Labs Steal the Stars preview audio drama Mac Rogers

Steal the Stars is the story of Dakota Prentiss and Matt Salem, two government employees guarding the biggest secret in the world: a crashed UFO. Despite being forbidden to fraternize, Dak and Matt fall in love and decide to escape to a better life on the wings of an incredibly dangerous plan: they’re going to steal the alien body they’ve been guarding and sell the secret of its existence.

If you haven’t yet listened to Tor Labs’ sci-fi noir audio drama written by Mac Rogers and produced by Gideon Media, you can read our non-spoiler review and catch up on the first seven episodes: “Warm Bodies,” “Three Dogs,” “Turndown Service,” “Power Through,” “Lifers,” “900 Microns,” and “Altered Voices.” Then click through for this week’s installment, in which Dak takes a field trip!

Dak has a whole new plan to be with Matt now, a far more dangerous one. One which will carry her across the country to start putting the pieces in place for a perfect getaway.

Steal the Stars is a noir science fiction thriller in 14 episodes, airing weekly from August 2 – November 1, 2017, and available worldwide on all major podcast distributors through the Macmillan Podcast Network. It will be followed immediately by a novelization of the entire serial from Tor Books, as well as an ads-free audio book of the podcast from Macmillan Audio.

Subscribe to Steal the Stars at any of the following links:

iTunes | Google Play | SoundCloud | Spotify | StitcherRSS

About Tor Labs:

Tor LabsTor Labs, an imprint of Tom Doherty Associates, specializes in experimental and innovative ways of publishing science fiction, fantasy, horror, and related genres, as well as other material of interest to readers of those genres.

About Gideon Media:

Gideon Media proudly builds on the acclaimed, award-winning theatrical tradition of Gideon Productions in creating complex, riveting genre entertainment. Gideon Media meticulously crafts new audio worlds in which listeners can lose themselves, centered around heart-wrenching, pulse-pounding tales of science fiction and horror.

[syndicated profile] tordotcom_feed

Posted by Jeff LaSala

Welcome to the Silmarillion Primer, wherein I discuss, praise, and adoringly poke fun at J.R.R. Tolkien’s seminal work in a series of essays, spanning twenty or so installments, as a prep for its would-be readers. I’d warn you that there will be spoilers, but honestly, spoilers just aren’t a thing to the good professor and he sure wouldn’t have cared (hey man, Frodo lives!). But more on that later.

They are old swords, very old swords of the High Elves of the West, my kin. They were made in Gondolin for the Goblin-wars…. This, Thorin, the runes name Orcrist, the Goblin-cleaver in the ancient tongue of Gondolin; it was a famous blade. This, Gandalf, was Glamdring, Foe-hammer that the king of Gondolin once wore.

Thus spoke Elrond in 1937’s The Hobbit, which turns eighty years old this week. He name-dropped Gondolin again in 1954’s The Fellowship of the Ring. Yet it would be another twenty-three years before J.R.R. Tolkien’s readers got the full story of that ancient Elven city and the other previously-alluded-to mysteries of the Elder Days. And so very much more.

The Silmarillion, a text Tolkien had been working on most of his life, is a hot mess of a masterpiece. Even in its vast world-building brilliance, it is merely, as he called it, “a compilation, a compendious narrative, made long afterwards from sources of great diversity,” and it’s essentially Middle-earth’s origin story. Fans of his legendarium owe much to Christopher Tolkien for bringing it all together, since his father did not live to see it completed himself. In fact, after The Hobbit’s success, Tolkien pitched The Silmarillion to his publisher but they rejected it almost on principle, since they really just wanted more hobbit stories.

But he never gave up, never stopped working on it. After his death, and presented with his father’s august but many-layered and often inconsistent drafts and notes, Christopher had his work cut out for him. As he explains in the Foreword:

I set myself therefore to work out a single text, selecting and arranging in such a way as seemed to me to produce the most coherent and internally self-consistent narrative.

And what a narrative it is! Anyone who’s tackled The Silmarillion at least once can tell you that it can be intimidating. There’s no question. Some who have attempted to read it have called it boring, dry, “a slog.” The language is often archaic, the chronology less than intuitive, the timescale enormous; and the character and place names are hilariously legion. But those who’ve made it through, especially those who’ve gone back to read it again out of sheer love for the world and its lore, know what a treasure trove it really becomes. I say becomes because you can miss a lot on the first (or second, or even tenth) go-round. Then, of course, to many of us it’s anything but boring. What starts as a stumbling block, that rich language, becomes as poetry—half the story is the art of language itself.

To be sure, The Silmarillion is not a novel in the way we’re used to; it doesn’t resemble The Lord of the Rings very much in structure or even style, except perhaps in dialogue. It’s more like fantastic nonfiction, or like a history book that might be shelved in the library of Rivendell. Yet even the historical bits are interspersed with novel-like segments. The narrative often pans out—way out—offering a god’s-eye-view of all existence and spanning huge swaths of time in just a few passages, then at unexpected moments slows down, zooms in close, and observes the very words and manners of its heroes and villains.

My answer to the challenge posed by this seemingly ancient tome is this very Primer. I’ll help you weave through the lofty language and highlight the names most worth remembering. This is not a reread or a thorough analysis of the text. (There are some excellent places to find those out there already.) This is—for lack of a better word—a prelude or pre-read aimed mostly at casual Tolkien fans. I hope to convince you to dive deep into its “din waters of the pathless sea,” walk its treacherous and “clashing hills of ice,” and defy its “dark nets of strangling gloom” with me.

In my humble opinion, The Silmarillion is fantasy of the highest order, a great drama unfolding beneath the “wheeling fires” of the universe and set “in the Deeps of Time and in the midst of innumerable stars,” a world simultaneously like and unlike our own. And for those of you who are familiar with Tolkien’s creation myths already—those who have seen the light of the Trees—I hope this will be a fun refresher for you.

The Silmarillion is many things, and contains an almost incalculable number of themes, lessons, and beautiful/astonishing/terrible characters. But if I had to really boil it down to its bones, I’d say it’s this: the story of a world wrought by an omniscient and flawless Creator with the help of many flawed sub-creators who are wise but not all-knowing. Despite the book’s sumptuous yet daunting language and larger-than-life heroes, it’s imbued with all-too-familiar patterns of human behavior—even in its nonhumans. There’s always this perception floating around that Tolkien’s world is black and white, that his good guys are all goody-two-shoes, that his villains are too simplistically evil. And I can kind of see where this idea comes from in The Lord of the Rings, even if I disagree, but my immediate reaction to that is always: “Oh, they probably haven’t read The Silmarillion, then.”

Sure, The Silmarillion has its share of virtuous Aragorns and Faramirs and it definitely has its dominate-everyone-LOL Sauron types (including actual Sauron), but most of its characters wade through a murky spectrum of honor, pride, loyalty, and greed. Heroes fall into evil, good guys turn against each other, high-born kings turn out to be dicks, and powerful spirits tempted by evil may either repent of it or double down. It’s all there.

Oh, and lest I forget: The Silmarillion features fantasy literature’s most epic of jewel heists. Hell, the whole thing is a string of gem thefts. The titular gemstones, the Silmarils, are both like and unlike the One Ring we know and love. They’re coveted by pretty much everyone and inspire some truly dastardly deeds, yet they are of somewhat divine origin. Not intrinsically corrupting like Sauron’s ring, they do not possess the malice of their maker, and in fact are hallowed, scorching “anything of evil will” that touches them. In Tolkien’s world, the Silmarils are both MacGuffins and Chekhovian guns. Off the page, they motivate people to run around and do what they do; on the page, you know at some point someone’s going to get burned. Or stabbed. Or slashed. Or have something bitten off. It happens.

And that’s The Silmarillion for you. It’s all shining gems, flashing swords, whips of flame, foul dragon reek, and blood-soaked earth. It has more tragedies than victories, more sorrow than joy, but because it was written by a man of self-conscious faith, it also packs a few eucatastrophic punches. So chin up, good readers: the body count is high, but the payoff is glorious.

Tolkien, by the way, didn’t give a warg’s ass about spoilers. As a culture, we’ve become overly sensitive to the concept in recent years. When I read or hear discussions of Tolkien’s books, I still sometimes hear the “spoiler alert” expression, used either in observance or mockery of this modern day craze. But neither Tolkien nor his son had any such sensitivity. In his Foreword to the Second Edition of The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien casually refers to Sauron’s annihilation at the end. If you wanted to keep from knowing certain plot developments in this book, you’re kind of out of luck. He’s going to “spoil” them for you, and once you start to pick up on this tendency, it gets downright humorous—never mind how many appear in the chapter titles themselves. Anyway, if you didn’t already know that the One Ring indeed gets destroyed at the end of LotR, then I’m guessing you’re also not sure just yet about Luke Skywalker’s parentage, who Keyser Söze is, or why Snape is such a jerk to Harry Potter the whole the time. Oh, and the walrus was Paul.

One thing a reader might wonder once they dive into The Silmarillion is: Whose account is this exactly? Is the narrator both objective and omniscient? Sometimes it feels distinctly like an Elf’s point of view. Well, it’s lightly implied in the LotR Prologue, then later supported by Tolkien himself in notes and letters, that within Middle-earth, the Baggins’s Red Book of the Westmarch—which details the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings as written by the hobbits—also includes Elvish legends of old, which means some or all of the events detailed in The Silmarillion. Alternatively, consider this excerpt from Morgoth’s Ring (Vol 10 of The History of Middle-earth), wherein Christopher Tolkien shares more of his father’s behind-the-scenes intel:

What we have in ‘Silmarillion’ etc. are traditions . . . handed on by Men in Númenor and later in Middle-earth (Arnor and Gondor); but already far back—from the first association of the Dúnedain and Elf-friends with the Eldar in Beleriand—blended and confused with their own Mannish myths and cosmic ideas.

And there we have it; Elvish POV but as passed down by mortals and translated by hobbits, perhaps even characterized by their own imperfections. And all of this is mere myth, after all. But to Tolkien, myth was meaningful, illuminating, relevant. Much more can be said about his stance on fantasy and myth, much more, but…another time. For now, consider that now more than ever before, Tolkien’s fairy-stories can provide the perfect escape. Not from real lifebecause God knows, The Silmarillion has its share of anguish and mourning alongside its triumphs and joys. I mean, rather, escape from whatever keeps us from from keeping our heads: political cobwebs, social blinders, or whatever snake oil the profiteers of the modern world are peddling. Escape from whatever current discord troubles us.

Speaking of discord, the first installment of the Primer will discuss the Ainulindalë, the introductory creation myth chapter in The Silmarillion, on October 4th.

Jeff LaSala is a production editor and freelance writer who can’t leave Middle-earth well enough alone. He also wrote some sci-fi/fantasy books and now works for Tor Books.

Hippo, Birdie, Two Ewes

Sep. 20th, 2017 07:44 am
onyxlynx: Festive pennants in blue & purple with word "Birthday" centered. (Birthday)
[personal profile] onyxlynx
to [personal profile] serene !  Hoping next year is better.

Let Life Happen.

Sep. 20th, 2017 10:13 am
theferrett: (Meazel)
[personal profile] theferrett

“I’m not up for sex,” she told me. “I’ve had a lot of medical issues lately. It’s more painful than not to even try.”

“Cool,” I said, and we spent the day going to a street festival.

I woulda liked sex. But life happens.

“I’m in the middle of my seasonal affective disorder,” I told her. “You show up, I might not be able to leave the house. I might just curl up and cry all day.”

“Cool,” she said, and I was pretty morose but we cuddled a lot and eventually managed to go out to dinner.

I woulda liked to have a working brain. But life happens.

“I’m not sure I can make it through this convention,” they told me. “My flare-ups have been really bad this season. I might not be able to go out with you in the evenings.”

“Cool,” I said, and I went out for little hour-long jaunts before heading back to the room to cuddle them, then charging out again to circulate.

I woulda liked to have them by my side when I hit the room parties. But life happens.

I’m a massively flawed human with a mental illness. I need to have poly relationships that include for the possibility of breakdowns. Because if I need to have a perfect day before I allow anyone to see me, I might wait for weeks. Months. Years. And then what the fuck is left by the time I get to see them?

I know there are people who need perfect visits. They have to have the makeup on when you visit them, and they’ll never fall asleep when they had a night of Big Sexy planned, and if they get out the toys there’s gonna be a scene no matter how raw anyone’s feeling.

But I can’t do that.

My relationships aren’t, can’t be, some idealized projection of who I want to be. If I’m not feeling secure that day, I can’t be with a partner who needs me to be their rock so the weekend proceeds unabated. And if they’re feeling broken, I can’t be with someone who needs to pretend everything is fine because their time with me is their way of proving what a good life they have.

Sometimes, me and my lovers hoped for a weekend retreat of pure passion and what we get is curling up with someone under tear-stained covers, holding them and letting them know they will not be alone come the darkness.

We cry. We collapse. We stumble. We don’t always get what we want, not immediately.

But we also heal. We nurture. We accept.

And in the long run, God, we get so much more.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.


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