September got the memo about its being Spooky Season.
Usually, the first couple of weeks of September are hot and dry, but it’s been much cooler (in the upper-70s°F to mid-80s°F) with a reasonable amount of rain. We had a couple of flash flood warnings pop up when some storms were coming in, but there wasn’t enough rain to cause problems. It’s been lovely, and I’ve been able to go out for walks without melting or being eaten alive by mosquitoes!
Some photographic highlights:
A long-time client from work brought us a bag full of peaches and pears from Colorado. The peaches were perfectly ripe and tasted wonderful, but I’m not a big fan of pears. Still, I took several home and ended up making a pear-apple crisp with them. I didn’t make the topping quite right, but it tasted fine and was easy to make. Definitely would recommend making it if you find yourself with an abundance of pears.
Obligatory Mina Photo:
Mina has been enjoying the cooler weather as much as I have. She’s been hanging out next to the open windows, enjoying all the sights and smells, curling up next to me in the mornings, and running around like a wild thing when she’s not napping or in the window. All typical Mina behavior on cool days in the Fall.
She has also been enjoying the scratching-tunnel I bought her last week. While she started out by trying to hide in it, she quickly realized that it’s not a great hiding place. I think she’s decided that, if she can’t hide in it, she will be as conspicuous as possible by sitting on top of it. In short, she loves her scratching-tunnel, and it has kept her from clawing the couch. Wins all around!
What I Finished Reading Last Week:
- The Long Call (Two Rivers #1) by Ann Cleeves
- An Excellent Mystery (The Chronicles of Brother Cadfael #11) by Ellis Peters, audiobook narrated by Patrick Tull
- On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes by Alexandra Horowitz, audiobook narrated by the author
- A Psalm for the Wild-Built (Monk and Robot #1) by Becky Chambers
After reading The Heron’s Cry, I decided I wanted to reread the first book in the Two Rivers series because I wanted to stay with these characters a little longer. Matthew Venn is such an interesting character, and I enjoy reading about him, Jenn, and Jonathan. And while the communities of North Devon are very different from my little hometown on the prairie, they still have their similarities- at least as far as the tangled web of family and acquaintances go. Everyone knows everyone else’s business, but at the same time, no one quite knows what’s going on behind closed doors. Rereading The Long Call made me look forward to the upcoming TV show even more.
An Excellent Mystery, the eleventh of the Brother Cadfael books, is definitely not my favorite of the series. The mystery involved a character going out on a self-imposed quest in order to find a missing person, but if you’re paying attention at all, you know exactly where that missing person is. So it was fine, but not the best of Ellis’s books.
On Looking was a charming book about the things we miss in everyday life. In this book, Horowitz describes how she realized that she was missing a lot of things in the world around her, and so she decided to consult experts in various fields, have them take her on an ordinary walk through a city, and point out all the things they see when they’re out and about. She starts by taking her nineteen-month-old son, who was an expert at seeing things with the eyes of a child– who knew how many triangles, ‘O’s, and leaves there were on their block? Other walks were taken with a typographer, a geologist, an artist, an entomologist, a doctor, a city planner, a blind person, and Horowitz’s dog (who is a champion sniffer), among others. Each of the chapters was so much fun to read, and helped me to open my eyes to the things that I was missing when I was out and about- and I missed a lot, despite the fact that photography has helped to train me to notice things. My walks may end up being slower in the future, but think I’ll be happier for noticing all the weird and wonderful things in my city.
Becky Chambers might just write the most soothing books in science fiction these days. Her Wayfarers series is all about people from various alien races making a concerted effort to get along, no matter how different they are, and I adored every single book (though my favorite is still the first one, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet). A Psalm for the Wild-Built is about Sibling Dex, a tea monk who’s job it is to take their mobile tea stand all over the place, serve tea to the people there, and simply listen to them, whether they’re complaining, grieving, or just want to share how great things are right now. But something is missing from Dex’s life, and they can’t figure out what it is. So one day they head out into the wilderness to figure things out. There, they meet a robot named Mosscap. Robots left human civilization centuries ago after gaining sentience, but Mosscap is curious and decided that he wants to meet people and find out what they need. Reading this book was so comforting, and what exactly what I needed after a rough news week where I also had a couple of crappy days at work. I wish there were tea monks like Dex. I guess I’ll just have to settle for making myself a cup of tea and writing down all my thoughts.
What I’m Currently Reading:
- The War of the Ring (The History of Middle-earth #8) by J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Christopher Tolkien (206/476)
- The Wolf in the Whale by Jordana Max Brodksy (109/544)
- The Raven in the Foregate (The Chronicles of Brother Cadfael #12) by Ellis Peters, audiobook narrated by Patrick Tull (21%)
In The War of the Ring, Frodo and Sam reached Ithilien and met Falborn, who was originally a random captain of Gondor until Tolkien unconsciously wrote himself into a corner, and then (apparently) just as unconsciously wrote himself out of it by making Falborn into Boromir’s brother. Then Falborn’s name was changed to Faramir, and *poof*! We have one of The Lord of the Rings’ iconic characters– the one who says my favorite quote in the whole work. But before Faramir states his view of war and glory, he spent a bunch of time rattling on about languages in the first drafts. Tolkien realized that this was something that didn’t really belong in the narrative, so when he wrote to Christopher about Faramir’s appearance, he stated that he was going to have to move most of Faramir’s bits to the appendices if he didn’t stop talking about languages. That’s basically what ended up happening. The linguistics are in the appendices if you want to read about them, and Faramir’s parts are distilled down to the essentials. I found out, too, that Tolkien had considered renaming Sam Gamgee to Sam Goodchild, but Christopher was too fond of Gamgee for Tolkien to change it. Huzzah! I like Gamgee more than Goodchild, though that may be the nostalgia talking. Now, Frodo and Sam are in the first drafts of Shelob’s lair, which has been the part of Book Four in The Two Towers that has changed the most.
The Wolf in the Whale is the story of Omat, a young Inuit whose people have broken off from the rest of the Inuit and headed east to find new hunting grounds and new people. But the gods seem to have cursed them, for they cannot find food and no one else has appeared who can help them. But Omat is determined to stay alive no matter what. Then a strange, pale people with flame-colored hair appear from across the sea, bringing dark gods with them, and Omat’s world will change forever. I’m about 100 pages into this, and I am loving it so far. Omat’s world is sometimes brutal, but it is always fascinating. Brodsky did extensive research, traveled to northern Canada, and met many Inuit people before she headed onto Iceland to study Norse history and culture. So far, I am hooked and looking forward to what will happen to Omat when the Norsemen show up.
So far, The Raven in the Foregate is an interesting story, though I haven’t reached the mystery yet. A new secular priest is appointed to replace the beloved one who has died. But the new priest is an inflexible man who condemns people where his processor would forgive and understand. This is causing strife for the people of Shrewsbury, and things are not going to end well for the new priest. I have a good deal of housework I want to complete during this long weekend, so I will probably finish this up while doing that.
What I Plan to Start Reading This Week:
- The King of Infinite Space by Lyndsay Faye
- The Hanging Tree (The Rivers of London #6) by Ben Aaronovitch
The King of Infinite Space is the next book on my September TBR stack, and I’m looking forward to it. Lyndsay Faye is a fantastic author whose writing is beautiful, and this new book of hers is a sort of Hamlet retelling. And as Hamlet is my favorite Shakespearean play, I am sure I will have a great time with this book.
The Hanging Tree is the next book in the Rivers of London series, and for whatever reason, there doesn’t seem to be an audiobook of this, which is a shame. The previous books in this series I’ve read via audiobook are narrated by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, and he is a phenomenal narrator. But book six doesn’t have an audiobook that I can find. Why? I’ve love to know. The library has the rest of the series on audiobook, but I’ll have to read The Hanging Tree as a physical book.
About That Writing Thing:
The first draft is done.
It took me nearly a year to get through the initial draft, but it is done at last! As of now, it has fifteen chapters and 111,138 words. The ‘words to pages’ converters I’ve used online give me a page count of 204-247 pages. So that’s another novel in the books.
Anyway. I have a lot of editing to do, and I don’t know if the revisions will result in the story being longer or shorter than it currently is, because while there are many paragraphs that will be taken out, I have at least a scene and a half that needs to be put into it.
So I have a lot of work ahead of me, but the revisions generally take me less time to complete than the original draft. I’ll be cleaning things up, getting rid of extraneous material, making the writing prettier, and double-checking my historical facts and weird things like “what’s the phase of the moon on this day?” and “what time does the tide rise on this day in that year on that island?”. It’s a good thing we have WolframAlpha.com because I wouldn’t be able to keep things as historically accurate as I would like to otherwise, and that would bother me.
So. Now I have to decide what to start outlining next. Do I work on the penultimate story in this long-running series, or do I start outlining the thriller that’s been living in my mind for the past month or so? Back in June and July, I had a science fiction story in mind, but I decided that I didn’t want to commit to a story that would end up being about 250,000 words because it wasn’t something I remained in love with over the course of weeks.
Besides. I’ve written plenty of science fiction in my time, so that’s nothing new for me. My ongoing fanfic series is a fantasy story (shocking, I know), and I’ve written enough historical fiction for various things. I’ve written cyberpunk stories, Gothic tales, weird westerns, ghost stories, and a bit of steampunk. But I can’t remember ever having written a thriller, and various bits of dialogues and sketches of scenes keep coming to mind while I’m doing mindless things like washing dishes. So there’s something about this thriller idea that I’m liking. But I also want to finally finish my fantasy series after having worked on it off and on for the past seven years.
Obviously, I have lots of planning ahead of me, regardless of which path I choose. I’ll probably do something basic story sketching this week in between revising sessions. Should be fun.