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Jun. 23rd, 2014

Blogging - WIth Computer

[sticky post] LiveJournal Is My Backup Blog

This is my back up blog. It shadows my blogspot which is more frequently updated and better maintained.

Please feel free to friend me here, but be aware that I can not friend you back. I have maxed out my friend allotment from the LJ gods, sorry.

Jul. 11th, 2014

Blogging - WIth Computer

Mostly Dead in Translation


I had the most fascinating conversation with a translator recently, Gentle Reader. I have blogged a bit before about how much I enjoy chatting with those who translate my words. It forces me to think about language differently, and how I apply it.

Such a discussion started recently with the phrase "mostly dead."

Woman reading a book. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

A translator emailed to tell me that she was struggling to properly translate my term “mostly dead.”

I use it at various points in my Parasol Protectorate books:

Changeless p. 205
“Werewolves being supernatural and mostly dead, could have no children.”

Blameless p. 13 p. 17
“Your husband is basically dead, or was basically dead and is mostly dead now.”
“So what if he was mostly dead?”

Blameless p. 179
“Your preternatural touch, it does not cancel out the fact that the supernatural person has, already, mostly died.”

At first, the translator thought it meant “almost” or “practically.” However, the proofreader disagreed. Because “mostly” could mean “most of the time,” they began to think it meant “almost dead,” that is, not completely dead. Or, it could also mean “essentially.” (In which case, a supernatural is dead, and the only time he is not dead is when a preternatural touches him.)

I also use the phrase “basically dead” in the text, but that's Mrs. Loontwill speaking, and we know we cannot trust her...

My Thoughts on Being Mostly Dead


First, of course, I'm using that particular term as an ode to Douglass Adam's description of Earth as mostly harmless.

That said, some philosophy:


I am using the term mostly to imply a level of confusion on the part of the characters and the scientists of the time. Werewolves/vampires are considered undead, that is, they have died but are still walking around. They aren't living because they don't die ~ life being partly defined by mortality (Victorians are morbid) thus these creatures aren't mortal anymore. It's a condition of stasis. They can't procreate, for example. But they are alive in terms of they walk, talk, and interact. Would an android, for example, be considered a living creature?

The physicality:


So far as the in-world scientists are concerned, the best way to think about it is that most of a person's soul has died. Hence "mostly." By using the word "mostly" I am contrasting against the world "all" or "entirely" or "completely."  It is a matter of proportion or percentage. Death in my universe is not an absolute, it is an end point. Glass full, glass mostly full or mostly empty, glass empty. The stage of immortality is that middle stage: mostly dead. Closer towards dead than alive, but still present above ground.

This is not necessarily a measure of time, but of content. Saying "almost dead" implies that one soon will be. Not the case. Saying "practically dead" implies one step removed, so also not right.
 “Almost dead” might work, but again the implication is temporal - that death is immanent. Which it istn't because immortals are in stasis.

“Essentially” might work best as an alternative.

Ah, the precision of English.

I choose "mostly" because it is so often associated with volume or measurement rather than time. Thus the reader is reminded of the remains of soul and the way the transfer of immortality works in my universe ~ that someone can only be immortal with what's left of the soul. Mostly can then be a measurement of what has gone (measurable or immeasurable as the soul may be).

I know, welcome to my brain. Did you know I have a philosophy minor? Epistemology was my focus. So, yeah.


{What is Gail's Book Group reading for July? Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause ~ YA werewolf from before it was a thing}


GAIL'S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .
via Retronaut ‏@theretronaut  c. 1910- Woman with a parasol

Your Infusion of Cute . . .
Latest addition to my office

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
French Hair Art & The Industry of Mourning

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .
All about author errors that make it into publication, J. Kathleen Cheney on Forgiving Anne McCaffrey


PROJECT ROUND UP
Prudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the First: Edits handed in. Release date March 17, 2015. Not yet available for pre-order.
Manners & Mutiny ~ The Finishing School Book the Last. Finished rough draft, cutting and trimming begins soon. Release date early November 2015. Not yet available for pre-order.



The Books!

The Finishing School Series: 1 Etiquette & Espionage, 2 Curtsies & Conspiracies, 3
Waistcoats & Weaponry (Coming November 4, 2014)
The Custard Protocol Series: 1 Prudence (Coming March 17, 2015)
The Parasol Protectorate Series: 1 Soulless, 2 Changeless, 3 Blameless, 4 Heartless, 5 Timeless
Parasol Protectorate Series manga graphic novels

Book News:
Spy Museum in Washington, D.C via Terrence


Quote of the Day:
“The size and power of an internal security service is generally in direct ratio to the extent of the suspicion and fear of the ruling clique.”
~ The Craft of Intelligence: America's Legendary Spy Master on the Fundamentals of Intelligence Gathering for a Free World by Allen W. Dulles

Follow Gail on Facebook & Twitter. Or you can join her mailing list.
She also has a fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
The best place to talk all things Parasol Protectorate is on its
Facebook Group.

Jul. 9th, 2014

Blogging - WIth Computer

Why Blood & Chocolate for This Month's Read Along?


This month's book group pick, Gentle Reader, is Blood & Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause. As Wikipedia says it is a "1997 romantic supernatural werewolf novel for young adult readers."


I read this novel shortly after it came out, which should tell you lots of things. But primarily, that this was before Twilight and the height of the paranormal YA literary craze. Rather like Lackey's Elves in LA series was for urban fantasy, this book was ahead of its time for YA paranormal.


So as you read it, please keep in mind that the tropes of your bog standard YA paranormal had not yet been established. What's interesting to me, now, is how many of them are still present, but how different a form they take. I urge you to try not to be exhausted by them, or to perceive them as cliche. After all, Klause was one of the first to do it, and the fact they we now read too much of the same is not her fault.


Also, I'd like you to watch out for YA tropes. What this book does, for my money, is one of the best portrayals of a classic YA story of self discovery, approval, acceptance, and self actualization. Perhaps the metaphors for that are a bit brutally employed, but so they were in Star Wars, and we forgive it the yawn-educing hero's journey. OK, some of us do.


Vivian is a powerful main character, some readers find this off putting. I happen to relish the rare portrayal of a young woman who knows herself and is unashamed. But that is so contrary to what we teach high school girls these day in our literature, I'm afraid some may find her difficult to like. Give her a chance, OK?

Blood & Chocolate won the 1998 YALSA Award for Best Books for Young Adults.

One final note, whatever you do avoid the movie. Not only is it a genuinely bad movie, it shares none of the strength, purpose, point, or drive of the novel. In fact, it has nothing more than shared names.


{What is Gail's Book Group reading for July? Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause ~ YA werewolf from before it was a thing}


GAIL'S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .
2013 IN CELEBRATION OF SISTERHOOD starring Danielle and Jodie Snyder

Your Infusion of Cute . . .
Smeg-50’s-Retro-Style-small-home-appliances

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
via historywars-tumblr
"Captain Flora Sandes, the only British woman officially to serve as a soldier in the First World War. Initially a St. John Ambulance volunteer, she travelled to Serbia, where, in the confusion of war, she was formally enrolled in the Serbian army. She was subsequently promoted to the rank of Sergeant major, and, after the war, to Captain."

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .


PROJECT ROUND UP



Prudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the First: Edits handed in. Release date March 17, 2015. Not yet available for pre-order.
Manners & Mutiny ~ The Finishing School Book the Last. Finished rough draft, cutting and trimming begins soon. Release date early November 2015. Not yet available for pre-order.



The Books!

The Finishing School Series: 1 Etiquette & Espionage, 2 Curtsies & Conspiracies, 3
Waistcoats & Weaponry (Coming November 4, 2014)
The Custard Protocol Series: 1 Prudence (Coming March 17, 2015)
The Parasol Protectorate Series: 1 Soulless, 2 Changeless, 3 Blameless, 4 Heartless, 5 Timeless
Parasol Protectorate Series manga graphic novels
$0.99 short stories (ebook only) Marine Biology, My Sister's Song, & Fairy Debt

Book News:


Quote of the Day:
“The truth is rarely pure and never simple.”
~ Oscar Wilde

Follow Gail on Facebook & Twitter. Or you can join her mailing list.
She also has a fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
The best place to talk all things Parasol Protectorate is on its
Facebook Group.

Jul. 7th, 2014

Blogging - WIth Computer

The Story Behind Alessandro Tarabotti's Cover Art


For my new short story featuring Alessandro Tarabotti, Gentle Reader, I decided one of the things I really wanted to do was commission a professional artist. This was the end result...

The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn't, the Mummy That Was, and the Cat in the Jar
By Gail Carriger

Cover art by Pete Venters

How did it happen?


I started by pinging a number of author friends of mine for professional artist recommendations. I wanted someone who did good work in a timely manner and had ebook experience. I also asked for ball park cost figures, so I had some idea of budget. (I do not expect a short story to recoup paying professional artist rates, this was about the experience.)

However, before reaching out to any of the recommendations provided, I remembered Pete.

Pete Venters had shown me the most amazing sketch of Cherie Priest's main character, Briar from Boneshaker, partnered with Alexia when we were all at a steampunk event together. I knew his reputation as an amazing artist, particularly for Magic the Gathering. This influenced me, since I've had a tough time dealing with amateur artists in the past. I wanted a professional who could make deadlines and would not be insulted by criticism if I wanted alterations to the sketch. I pinged him to see if he might be interested, and he was!

Then, while on book tour, I met up with Pete for dinner and we chatted briefly about the project. After a number of email exchanges we hammered out a contract, payment, and expectations on both sides.

The Process


First, Pete read the story.

Then, over email exchanged, I described what I envisioned: the figure, Alessandro's looks, and various different background options. We talked back and forth about what would work best. It's important with ebooks to have something relatively clear and easy to read in thumbnail size for mobile devices and grey-scale for eReaders.

We addressed Alessandro himself. Pete did research into the clothing for men at the time period. I sent him various images. We discussed actors/personalities who I imagined looked like Alessandro.

copyright Pete Venters

Pete sent me the above faces sketch and we hashed out which expression I liked and how this effect his seeming age and mood. I wanted Alessandro annoyed, but not angry, and looking relatively young.

copyright Pete Venters

Then Pete sent me a sketch of him in his outfit and background. We decided on inside the tomb as a good way to show he was in Egypt, but not be too busy, and not give plot away. We discussed how the sand would look and the Ka statue in the background. I think Pete learned more about Middle Kingdom Egyptian rock cut tombs than he strictly wanted. We started to talk about the appearance of the steampunk device in Alessandro's hand.

copyright Pete Venters

Next Pete sent me the beginnings of color. I had earlier suggested the Ka statue could be less pristine but I reacted negatively to the decay on the statue, I felt it looked like a zombie. We agreed that the shadow on Alessandro's face made him look old. Also, there was some question of the hat. Did I make the grave mistake of having him leave it behind in the text? Oh no! Alessandro would never abandon his hat. So I had to fix a bit of the story itself.

Pete was like, "You can do that?"
 I was like, "The glory of self publishing, if she wants to, the author can accommodate the cover art."

Besides I often do that anyway, if I can. The mention in Changeless where Ivy straightens Alexia's hair on board the dirigible to Scotland? That's because Donna's hair is straight on the cover, but Alexia has curly hair in the text so I wrote a new scene to compensate.

copyright Pete Venters

In the next version of the cover, Pete zoomed in on the figure. As you can see the background statue is fixed to be less a zombie, and Alessandro's face is brighter lit and appears younger. Also texture has been added to his waistcoat. The title is put in, which gave us some concern, as it's so long. In the end, we put half the title at the top and the rest as the tag line.


Although it was not part of our contract, Pete kindly did the titles for me. This was awfully nice of him. However, you should know that if you intent to higher a professional artist for the cover art (and not for the finished cover itself) that artist is only responsible for the image, not the title text.

Because this is a Parasol Protectorate in world short story, Pete kept the title as similar as possible in style and font to those used by Orbit on the Parasol Protectorate and Custard Protocol books. He zoomed in a little more for clarity and also to mirror the aspect proportions on my book covers (AKA how much space on the cover the figure takes up with respect to background).

There you have it, mostly the basics. There were a lot more tiny details (like pixel proportions of a retina-screen iPad) but I don't think you would find them all that interesting.

I enjoyed the experience of working directly with a professional immensely. And I highly recommend Pete's work and attitude.

Pete is talking about this too: The Curious Case Covered

Exciting News:

Pete is planning to offer special edition prints of this cover for sale!


If you'd be interested, please leave a comment below. I'll do another blog post with all the details of how to get hold of one as soon as possible, as well as links and such.


The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn't, the Mummy That Was, and the Cat in the Jar by Gail Carriger is available as an ebook only, although it is in print as part of Jurassic London's Book of the Dead anthology. You can buy it in most every format you might require for $0.99 from Smashwords.


{What is Gail's Book Group reading for July? Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause ~ YA werewolf from before it was a thing}


GAIL'S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .
1814 via fashionsfromhistory-tumblr Fashion Plate from ‘Les Incroyables et Merveilleuses’V&A

Your Infusion of Cute . . .
donotchoosesidesyet-tumblr Sir Reginald Wiggly

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
via Maria Diana BroughtonThe Parasol Protectorate Books Group

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .


PROJECT ROUND UP



Prudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the First: Edits handed in. Release date March 17, 2015. Not yet available for pre-order.
Manners & Mutiny ~ The Finishing School Book the Last. Finished rough draft, cutting and trimming begins soon. Release date early November 2015. Not yet available for pre-order.



The Books!

The Finishing School Series: 1 Etiquette & Espionage, 2 Curtsies & Conspiracies, 3
Waistcoats & Weaponry (Coming November 4, 2014)
The Custard Protocol Series: 1 Prudence (Coming March 17, 2015)
The Parasol Protectorate Series: 1 Soulless, 2 Changeless, 3 Blameless, 4 Heartless, 5 Timeless
Parasol Protectorate Series manga graphic novels
$0.99 short stories (ebook only) Marine Biology, My Sister's Song, & Fairy Debt

Book News:
dimity_and_pillover___finishing_school_1_by_poisonmilow


Quote of the Day:
via the Other 98% on FB


Follow Gail on Facebook & Twitter. Or you can join her mailing list.
She also has a fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
The best place to talk all things Parasol Protectorate is on its
Facebook Group.

Jul. 3rd, 2014

Blogging - WIth Computer

New Parasol Protectorate Short Story Available NOW


Well, Gentle Reader, it has finally happened! I have a new short story available. Hooray!

The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn't, the Mummy That Was, and the Cat in the Jar
By Gail Carriger

Cover art by Pete Venters

It is available as an ebook only, although it is in print as part of Jurassic London's Book of the Dead anthology.

You can buy it in most every format you might require for $0.99 from Smashwords. If you are international and can't get it there please let me know in the comments where you are located so I can work out the kinks. This is self published and I have tried to do my best but I'm not particularly technologically savvy. Please accept my apologies if you have any issues.

It will be up on Barns & Noble soon, they take a while to process ebooks.

I'm still not really talking to Amazon. Not that they notice, but it makes me feel better.

So, what's it about?


A short tale of mummies, werewolves, and well preserved felines set in the world of the Parasol Protectorate.

Alessandro Tarabotti and his valet, Floote, are on a mission in Egypt when they encounter visiting tourists and things go all pie shaped. What is his real mission and will his Aunt Archangelica approve of his treatment of her cat?

In this short story, New York Times Bestselling Author Gail Carriger uses her comedic voice to delve into the history of one of her most beloved characters. If you have ever wondered about Alexia's father, this will give you a glimpse into his adventures and character. 8,300 words.


So there you have it. I did promise I would make soemthing available during the hiatus. Hopefully this little nibble will suffice while you are on summer holidays, or even just over the long weekend with a cup of tea.

Creating cover art with a professional was a fun process and I will be blogging about inception to completion in another post to come soon. Hopefully, you will look forward to it.


{What is Gail's Book Group reading for July? Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause ~ YA werewolf from before it was a thing}


GAIL'S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .
1848 Mantle ca. 1848-1853 via The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Your Infusion of Cute . . .
Strawberry chocolate shots

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
via Armina Familar-Ragsdale on FB via Anglotopia

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .
Miseries of Life: Writing


PROJECT ROUND UP



Prudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the First: Edits handed in. Release date March 17, 2015. Not yet available for pre-order.
Manners & Mutiny ~ The Finishing School Book the Last. Finished rough draft, cutting and trimming begins soon. Release date early November 2015. Not yet available for pre-order.



The Books!

The Finishing School Series: 1 Etiquette & Espionage, 2 Curtsies & Conspiracies, 3
Waistcoats & Weaponry (Coming November 4, 2014)
The Custard Protocol Series: 1 Prudence (Coming March 17, 2015)
The Parasol Protectorate Series: 1 Soulless, 2 Changeless, 3 Blameless, 4 Heartless, 5 Timeless
Parasol Protectorate Series manga graphic novels
$0.99 short stories (ebook only) Marine Biology, My Sister's Song, & Fairy Debt

Book News:


Quote of the Day:
Hangover via FB


Follow Gail on Facebook & Twitter. Or you can join her mailing list.
She also has a fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
The best place to talk all things Parasol Protectorate is on its
Facebook Group.

Jul. 1st, 2014

Blogging - WIth Computer

Trade Release Heartless & Timeless + 1811 Slang for Alexia


Today trade paperbacks release of the final two Parasol Protectorate books, Heartless and Timeless.

New trade covers.

These books are larger in size than the mass market editions, also the print is larger and easier to read. The backgrounds are a more pail color. Content is unchanged, apart from the sample chapters at the back which may be different.


1811 Slang for Alexia

  • Sauce box ~ A bold of forward person.

  • Ottomised ~ To be dissected.

  • Trigrymate ~ An idle female companion.

  • I am not a plump currant ~ I am out of sorts.

  • Gudgeon ~ One easily imposed on.

  • Hobbleygee ~ A pace between a walk or a run, a dog-trot.

  • Piddling ~ Trifling, to do a thing in a small degree.

  • She's a prime article ~ she's a devilish good piece, a hell of a goer.

  • Bushel bubby ~ A full breasted woman.

  • Comfortable importance ~ A wife

~ 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue

“...there is no wit, but there is shocking ungentility, in a lady to speak of taking a "snooze" instead of a nap,—in calling pantaloons "pants," or gentlemen "gents,"—in saying of a man whose dress is getting old that he looks "seedy,"—and in alluding to an amusing anecdote, or a diverting incident, to say that it is "rich." All slang words are detestable from the lips of ladies.”
by Eliza Leslie (American 1864)

Want more behind the scenes tricks and Easter eggs for these books? I am interviewed all about Timeless over on Sci-Fi Encounters


{What is Gail's Book Group reading for July? Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause ~ YA werewolf from before it was a thing}

GAIL'S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .
1870  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
rufflesnotdiets tumblr

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .
"It is well to have always there a small writing-case of your own, with paper, pens, ink, wafers, sealing-wax, envelopes, post-office stamps, &c."
by Eliza Leslie (American 1864)


PROJECT ROUND UP
Prudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the First: Release date March 17, 2015. Not yet available for pre-order.
Manners & Mutiny ~ The Finishing School Book the Last. Finished rough draft, cutting and trimming begins soon. Release date early November 2015. Not yet available for pre-order.



The Books!

The Finishing School Series: 1 Etiquette & Espionage, 2 Curtsies & Conspiracies, 3
Waistcoats & Weaponry (Coming November 4, 2014)
The Custard Protocol Series: 1 Prudence (Coming March 17, 2015)
The Parasol Protectorate Series: 1 Soulless, 2 Changeless, 3 Blameless, 4 Heartless, 5 Timeless
Parasol Protectorate Series manga graphic novels
$0.99 short stories (ebook only) Marine Biology, My Sister's Song, & Fairy Debt

Book News:
Girl Lost in a Book says of Heartless, “I love the characters and they feel like family...A fabulous read and I simply couldn't put it down.”

Quote of the Day:
“It's not just children who need heroes.”
~ Tamora Pierce

Jun. 30th, 2014

Blogging - WIth Computer

Book Review ~ Fortune's Pawn (the Paradox Series) by Rachel Bach


In Brief as a Reader


I enjoyed Fortune's Pawn, although it is certainly the first in a series given the ending. Devi is a likeable character with a fun attitude toward life and a sweet modern approach to romance. The plot has some unexpected twists, but Devi never betrays herself or the reader. Neither the violence nor the sex got too graphic for me and both are used with intelligence and moderation in service to plot and character, and as such, never gratuitous.

Bach's writing style is fast paced, almost movie-like, with a light breezy touch. This book is not work, thank goodness. It's good solid fun.

In Detail as a Writer


One of my favorite things was Devi's relationship to her guns and armor, the way she names them and coddles them and knows everything about them. This ties in to Devi's Jayne-like attitude to life in general. (Jayne, as in Firefly, doesn't Devi strike you as a female version? Isn't that fantastic?) And, as I pointed out before, is a tidy way to get around the info-dumping problem. Also Devi's atitude and behavior to her weaponry is a nice insight in to her character.

Rachel discusses the Lady Grey and powered armor over on the Orbit Books site.

"I’m a merc. A black eye is the sign of a good night, not an injury to be guilty over."


The world building was interesting, I was particularly focused on when Rachel chose to deviate from the reality of now into a far future, and when she did not. For example, the clothing was kept current.

"I must have woken him, because he was dressed in a soft white undershirt and navy sweatpants, the only thing other than a suit I’d ever seen him wear."


Being clothing orientated myself, I found it a little sad that however far into the future this is, sweatpants are still around. Curses. Sometimes Rachel even goes all the way past current language into historical. This, for example, is from the second book:

“What are you talking about? Basil’s a doll for an aeon.”


I don't know how I feel about using "doll" in a far future context. And I did find it a little jarring as a reader. Possibly because I'd noted it for this review and so was looking for it? Which would make it my own issue with immersion. The longer I'm a professional writer the more frequent this becomes.

On the other hand, Devi's swearing is always in universe. By which I mean she swears like a Paradoxian, not a 21st century Earthling. (Often discussed among authors in terms of: to 'frak' or not to 'frak.')

“God and king,” I muttered, turning my chest piece over so I could get a better look. “I’m amazed I had any blood left in me.”


Many authors agonize over whether to utilize a swear as a technique for world-building and thus remind the reader of the alien nature of the character (but risk jarring the suspension of disbelief with dorkiness) or whether to stick with modern expletives because this makes a stronger point to the reader about the emotional tenor of the scene. An in-universe swear word, like 'frak,' can be more disorientating than useful. Rachel neatly avoids this with "God and king" for Devi. Although as Devi is, throughout the first book, seemingly agnostic, I was left wondering... which god?

“Too late to change your mind now,” I reminded him. “In for a shot, in for the bottle.”


I liked Devi's romance with Rupert although, I must say, the name Rupert did keep throwing me. It's kind of a goober of a name. Like Marvin. Personal preferences and all that. Rupert in my universe is a large foppish man with a very waxed mustache and a last name like Bobbintiff. But I did enjoy his character, and I could see why he might be attracted to Devi. Their exchanges, both verbal and physical, we touching. They were also much need scene breathers, given the pace of the plot.

"He reached down, gently pulling my hair out of my ponytail and spreading it out over the pillow. He stroked it once, almost like he was petting it, and then he stood up, tossing my hair band on the dresser. “We’ll try this over again tomorrow when you’re sober enough to know what you’re saying,” he said, walking to the door. He stopped when he reached it, and the smile he gave me made my whole body feel warm."


I'm particularly a fan of the fact that Devi is often the romantic aggressor. It fits her personality, and it's refreshing to read.

"I licked his lips with the tip of my tongue, waiting for him to respond, but Rupert was a rock beneath me, completely still. He didn’t even seem to be breathing."


If I have any gripe with this book, and it is a very very minor one. I felt that Devi destroying her Mercenary’s Bargain was out of character. I also am not a fan of the amnesia trope. I stopped reading the Stardoc series when the "she can't remember anything" reared its ugly head. I blame too much Days of Our Lives in college. I simply don't like it. In Devi's case, since she's such a dogged pursuer of what she wants, I can understand that it was the only way to get romantic separation in the second book. Still, I can't help but think about that scene in Men in Black:

Jay: Did you ever flashy-thing me?
Kay: No.
Jay: I ain't playing with you, K. Did you ever flashy-thing me?
Kay: No.

However, in this case, I read on to the second book because I knew there were only three books in the series and I have faith in Rachel bringing it all home nice and neatly.

Tell me, mercenary, what did he pay you to buy such stubborn silence?” I shrugged. “Nothing special. He gave me a job, and I honor my contracts.” “She’s telling the truth,” Nic said behind me. Brenton heaved a long sigh. “You Paradoxians and your damn honor.

SF Signal's Review of Fortune's Pawn

Moving On With The Series?


Yes! I have to know what happens with Devi and Rupert and the glowing bugs and Ren and ...

Book two opens with a glimpse of the intriguingly named Maat (Ma'at the Egyptian feather headed goddess of justice, truth, and balance perhaps?) and insight into Ren's back story. We move on to learn of a connection to Devi's new mercenary partner. I liked this a whole lot because as readers we think the back story was for Ren, but later on it's revealed to be a set up for this new character instead. Also it's a double down incorporation of the prologue (which, all too often, should be left out). Hear ye hear ye newbie writers: this is how a prologue is done!

Now where was I?

Oh yes. And silly me, crying out for Devi's back story and more of Paradoxian culture, I should have trusted Rachel. Basically that's what readers get almost instantly in this book. We get insight into religion and ritual:

"using my suit’s star map to make sure his feet faced Paradox so he would be ready to stand when the king called and tapping a double measure of salt into each of his hands, a tip for the death guide"


And a further peak into the history of Paradoxians versus Terrans.

"The war might be over, but scaring Terrans witless is one of life’s little joys. These were core worlders, too. Most of them had never even seen a Paradoxian in armor outside of the movies."


Devi is still Devi but as she struggles with amnesia she begins loosing some of herself. This feels intentional, on the part of the author. However, initially I struggled to relate to a character who, in the first book is defined by her confidence, who can now trust nothing not even her own mind. And, I don't understand why she isn't more frustrated with her own brain. I would be. As a result, I felt very stressed reading the down time parts, and a sense of relief reading the battle sequences. Devi is only the Devi we remember from Book One when she is fighting someone. Again, I think this author intent, and a unique way to provide extra tension. I appreciated this as a writer, but not certain how I felt about it as a reader. I wanted more of Devi, but I felt as if I was getting less.

"retracting the blade and then shooting it out again just for the joy of hearing the razor sharp edge whistle through the air."


As others point out, this book does get deal darker. So be wary of that aspect.

If you feel as I do, I urge you to read on despite any qualms with the first part of book two. Trust me, it is SO WORTH IT.  I'm past that bit and you better believe I can't put this book down! Must. Finish. Series.

If you would like to continue with the Paradox series and keep chatting about it. The Gail Carriger Goodreads Fan Group is running a discussion thread for each month's book and I think Skye will allow readers to continue on with chatting about further books in this series there. Won't you Skye?

 (Thread for Fortune's Pawn discussion: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1860752-june-read-fortune-s-pawn-rachel-bach)


The Rest of the Paradox series ~ Some Spoiler-ish-ness


It actually turned out to be a good choice to read on. The amnesia trope is thankfully dropped exactly 1/3 of the way through book two. I should have more faith in Rachel!

"The word had barely formed before everything I’d lost came roaring back."


At the same time, we also get a crafty look into Rachel's master plan, as an author. Devi is presented with the moral Paradox that is the title of the series. Yes, I know Paradox the name of Devi's home planet, but we aren't on planet, are we? So we knew there had to be a major thematic paradox in play, didn't we now? Anyway, it's a dozy and a good one. Particularly when presented to a killer like Devi. Let's be honest, taking lives is what Devi does best. So what does Rachel do? She gives unto to her mercenary protagonist the ultimate one life for many conundrum, throwing Devi's own life into the balance. (Insert Gail's professional white-glove clapping of approval here.) Crafty, very very, crafty. It is, when all is said and done, a perfect paradox.

Unfortunately, it forces Devi to become the very type of special I was hoping Rachel would avoid with her accessible every-woman main character. However, I refused to lose faith again. I did so with the amnesia trope and that was neatly avoided, so I won't do it with the special trope.


“It must be you,” she whispered as the black stuff started seeping from my skin into her fingers. “Because you are the only one who can.”



I ended up carving out a weekend after I turned in two manuscripts to finish the whole series in one gulp. I adored it all the way to the end. It has a great finale, and it made me happy. Devi stays Devi, the action never stops, the solution is right, love triumphs, and everything is as it should be. My kind of story. I am so looking forward to Rachel's next series. Hopefully she will let us know when and what.

“I’ve learned my lesson, Miss Morris. If I want to take you on again, I’m going to hire a tank.” “Don’t count on it,” I said proudly. “I’ve beaten a tank.”


And now, the book group is moving on!


Next up? Blood & Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause

This is an old favorite re-read for me so I will do a blog post early on this month talking about why I chose it.

GAIL'S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .
1801 Dress and Spencer  1801-1810  The Museum of London

Your Infusion of Cute . . .
Primary Brights Bouquet to Art 2014

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Smart Watch

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .
The Full-Time Writer

PROJECT ROUND UP
Prudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the First: Edits handed in. Release date March 17, 2015. Not yet available for pre-order.
Manners & Mutiny ~ The Finishing School Book the Last. Finished rough draft, cutting and trimming begins soon. Release date early November 2015. Not yet available for pre-order.



The Books!

The Finishing School Series: 1 Etiquette & Espionage, 2 Curtsies & Conspiracies, 3
Waistcoats & Weaponry (Coming November 4, 2014)
The Custard Protocol Series: 1 Prudence (Coming March 17, 2015)
The Parasol Protectorate Series: 1 Soulless, 2 Changeless, 3 Blameless, 4 Heartless, 5 Timeless
Parasol Protectorate Series manga graphic novels
$0.99 short stories (ebook only) Marine Biology, My Sister's Song, & Fairy Debt

Book News:
via facebook


Quote of the Day:
“Most Americans do not take the time for sufficient sleep.”
~ Around the Tea Table by T. De Witt Talmage (1875)

Follow Gail on Facebook & Twitter. Or you can join her mailing list.
She also has a fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
The best place to talk all things Parasol Protectorate is on its
Facebook Group.

Jun. 27th, 2014

Blogging - WIth Computer

Victorians In Egypt ~ Researching Timeless


With the release of the trade paperback of Timeless immanent, Gentle Reader, I thought you would enjoy a flashback glimpse at some of my research for that book.

British Paintings tumblr: Joseph Interprets Pharaoh’s Dream - Reginald Arthur 1894

British Paintings tumblr: 1839 David-Roberts-Interview-With-Mehmet-Ali-In-His-Palace-At-Alexandria
Below are some quick sources off the top of my head for the Victorians in Egypt, some you need a library, some are available to buy, some are in Google online or project Gutenberg. They range in time from early to late Victorian. Because of #AmazonJail I am leaving the source up to you. I trust you are intelligent enough to get hold of the book from wherever you like, should you wish.

Secondary Sources:

  • Queen Victoria's Little Wars

  • Rape of the Nile

1880 Ladies Dahabia Egypt, Gutenberg project

Primary:

  • A Thousand Miles Up the Nile

  • Baedeker's Upper Egypt

  • Baedeker's Lower Egypt

  • Travels in Greece, Palestine, Egypt, and Barbary, during the years 1806 and 1807 (FA de Chateaubriand) ~ this is too early but I still found it useful. And you better believe I drew upon it heavily for Alessandro, especially to soon to release short story.

1876 Port of Alexiandria, Gutenberg project

Online:

  • Google Images search: 1882 London Times coverage of the riots in Egypt (I've blogged about that already)

  • Google Images search: lithographs of David Roberts: A bit earlier than Victorian times but a great visual for what many of the famous sites looked like back then.


Some images that informed Timeless most particularly...

1882 Alexandria Suburbs, Gutenberg project
Desert Balloon 1 via Wiki commons
Hatshetsup's Temple Wiki commons

Random intreaging thing: Portrayals of Cleopatra on film.


{What is Gail's Book Group reading for June? Fortune's Pawn by Rachel Bach ~ Book One in the Paradox series}


GAIL'S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .
1882 Picnic Nile River, Gutenberg project
Your Infusion of Cute . . .
Tomb of Two Brothers wiki commons
Google it, you won't be disappointed. Let's just be quite clear, they are most likely NOT brothers.

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Victorian Invention: Combined Bustle and Stool

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .
This Is Your Brain on Writing


PROJECT ROUND UP
Prudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the First: Edits handed in. Release date March 17, 2015. Not yet available for pre-order.
Manners & Mutiny ~ The Finishing School Book the Last. Finished rough draft, cutting and trimming begins soon. Release date early November 2015. Not yet available for pre-order.



The Books!

The Finishing School Series: 1 Etiquette & Espionage, 2 Curtsies & Conspiracies, 3
Waistcoats & Weaponry (Coming November 4, 2014)
The Custard Protocol Series: 1 Prudence (Coming March 17, 2015)
The Parasol Protectorate Series: 1 Soulless, 2 Changeless, 3 Blameless, 4 Heartless, 5 Timeless
Parasol Protectorate Series manga graphic novels
$0.99 short stories (ebook only) Marine Biology, My Sister's Song, & Fairy Debt

Book News:
channing_channing_of_the_chesterfield_channings_by_mysterious_in_mist

Quote of the Day:
"It is to be supposed that before her arrival, the mistress of the house has inspected the chamber of her guest, to see that all is right—that there are two pitchers full of fresh water on the stand, and three towels on the rail, (two fine and one coarse,) with a china mug for teeth-cleaning, and a tumbler to drink from; a slop jar of course, and a foot-bath."
~ The Ladies' Guide to True Politeness and Perfect Manners or, Miss Leslie's Behaviour Book
by Eliza Leslie (American 1864)

Follow Gail on Facebook & Twitter. Or you can join her mailing list.
She also has a fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
The best place to talk all things Parasol Protectorate is on its
Facebook Group.

Jun. 25th, 2014

Blogging - WIth Computer

Interview with Rachel Bach, Author of Fortune's Pawn


Rachel Bach is author of our book group's first read along, Fortune's Pawn. She has been kind enough to stop by the blog today and submit herself to my very silly questions. Please feel free to ask her something yourself as well.  I will attempt to ensure the question gets to her...


About you, the Author!


Tea or coffee and how do you take it?
Coffee, black and in large cups. We are hardcore here at Casa de Aaron-Bach.

Describe your personal style for author appearances.
I tend to hover somewhere between “Bohemian” and “Hobo” for my working attire. When I do have to go out in public as my author self (opposed to my usual “mother of a small child”), I generally trend more toward the “The panel was when?! OMG OMG THROW ON CLOTHES GO GO GO” end of the fashion spectrum.
In short, you’re lucky if I’m wearing pants.

If I were to observe the writer beast in its native environment, what surprising thing might I see? What does the environment look like?
These days, I do almost all of my writing curled over like a shrimp in my recliner with a laptop. The lack of a desk helps me focus, and the inclined angle of the laptop propped up on my knees has pretty much eliminated pain in my hands from Carpel Tunnel (a big deal when you spend the vast majority of your day typing). I have a small side table where I keep my notebooks, pens, and my eternal pyramid of Diet Coke cans, but otherwise I try to keep everything focused on my laptop so that the monkey brain doesn’t run off with all my writing time. I use a program called Freedom to turn off the internet during work hours for the same reason.
The only exception to this set up is when I’m plotting. Then I take over the entire dining room table with maps, note cards, and timelines. I also make it a point to walk and stretch in between scenes. Writers have to take care of their spines! There is no elegant way to write around a bad back.

If you drive, what do you drive?
A black 2005 Honda Civic LX which we call the “Swift Black War Honda.” I bought it in 2006, but it’s still “my new car.” These things happen when you get old.

No deviating: vanilla or chocolate ice cream on a plain or a sugar cone? (Gail will use this to determine your level of sanity.)
*starts sweating bullets* Um....Chocolate with a sugar cone! Did I pass?
Gail pronounces you entirely sane and probubly someone she would like to eat ice cream with.

What's most likely to make you laugh?
A truly ridiculous situation, preferably involving someone who deserved it.

Since writers inevitably end up in the bar, what's your poison?
Devi drinks her whiskey on the rocks. I am significantly less badass and prefer it in the whiskey sour variety. Devi has no idea why anyone would do such a thing to perfectly good whiskey.

Rachel Bach’s Bio

Rachel Bach is the author of nine novels, including the action packed Science Fiction Romance, Fortune’s Pawn! She also writes Fantasy under the name Rachel Aaron, starting with the Legend of Eli Monpress, a rollicking fun series about a charming wizard thief and the poor bastards who have to try and stop him. Her bestselling nonfiction writing book, 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love, has helped thousands of authors double their daily word counts.
When she’s not holed up in her writing cave, Rachel lives a nerdy, bookish life in Athens, GA with her perpetual motion son, long suffering husband, and obese wiener dog.


About your book!


What should readers eat while consuming your novel?
Something you can consume at a constant pace over long periods using only one hand. I don’t want to brag overmuch, but many of my readers agree: if you have to put the book down to eat it, it ain’t getting et. ;)

What form does evil take within its pages?
That’s a complicated question. The original raison d'être for Fortune’s Pawn was that I desperately wanted to read a love story in space, and when I couldn't find one I liked, I wrote it myself. Past that most fundamental of writing drives, however, the series quickly turned into a writing challenge of a different nature. Namely, I wanted to write a story that had no villain.
In my experience, true evil is as rare as true good. Most people do what they do thinking (or at least rationalizing) that it's a good and right thing. This is especially true of people doing very hard things. After all, why would anyone put up with that level of personal suffering for a cause they didn't consider worthy? To this end, everyone in the Devi Morris books thinks that they are the hero. They're all very good people doing what they believe needs to be done for the greater good. The catch, of course, is that all characters have very different ideas about what needs to be done and why, and a large part of Devi's story is figuring out who is actually in the right while under great duress and with incomplete information.
All of this is a very complicated way of saying there's no clear sides in the books. This isn't a story of good versus evil, but of good intentions gone horribly awry. That said, it's still a novel about a powered armor wearing space mercenary, and there are plenty of shootouts with less morally ambiguous parties--carnivorous aliens, mercenary crash teams, etc.--to keep the adrenaline pumping. Devi Morris is a woman of action!*

Which one of your characters would you most want to kiss and why?
Probably Rupert, but Devi would shoot me if I kissed him, so I'm going to go with Caldswell. Poor grumpy captain really could use a kiss.

What's your favorite period in history and does it influence your world building?
I'm very fond of the Industrial Revolution. It was a time of such enormous change and juxtaposition of the old and new. A time of great hope and innovation, and yet also extreme callousness and disregard for human life in the pursuit of progress. The entire era is a bold-faced reminder that whenever the world changes, there are winners and losers and those who take things way too far. No one remains unaffected. These are lessons from history I try to represent in all my books: that every action and change has a consequence, and that one person's glorious revolution means the loss of another's historic way of life. These conflicts don't even have to be related to the plot, but they are an eternal part of the background in any reality, and including them always makes things more interesting.

Which one of your characters would you most like to slap and why?
Rupert, definitely. Good thing Devi's already on the ball in that department!

Without spoilers, what's the funnest (or funniest) part of the book?
Anytime Hyrek or Nova says anything. Devi is my darling, but those two have the most fun dialogue of anyone else on the ship. I would totally hang out with them.**

If your story smelled of something, what would that be?
Oiled steel and the faint ozone reek of burned plasma. Even in the quieter bits, there's a lot of shooting.

Fortune's Pawn cover blurb

“If Sigouney Weaver in Alien met Starbuck in Battlestar Galactica, you'd get Deviana Morris.”
Devi Morris isn't your average mercenary. She has plans. Big ones. And a ton of ambition. It's a combination that's going to get her killed one day - but not just yet.
That is, until she just gets a job on a tiny trade ship with a nasty reputation for surprises. The Glorious Fool isn't misnamed: it likes to get into trouble, so much so that one year of security work under its captain is equal to five years everywhere else. With odds like that, Devi knows she's found the perfect way to get the jump on the next part of her Plan. But the Fool doesn't give up its secrets without a fight, and one year on this ship might be more than even Devi can handle.


* Gail would like to add that as she is continuing the series this is SO TRUE. And so well done.
** And Basil. I LOVE Basil. He's so delightfully grumpy all the time. Reminds me of various friends of mine. And Dimity's brother Pillover in the Finishing School series.


{What is Gail's Book Group reading for June? Fortune's Pawn by Rachel Bach ~ Book One in the Paradox series}


GAIL'S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .
2013 Elle-Giovanni

Your Infusion of Cute . . .
Willow Ware Robot by Don Moyer

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Sculptural Rotating Lounge Chair Bringing Unique Contemplation Moments _ Freshome.com - Interior Design & Architecture Magazine

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .
Ten Things I’d Like to Say to Young Writers


PROJECT ROUND UP



Prudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the First: Edits handed in. Release date March 17, 2015. Not yet available for pre-order.
Manners & Mutiny ~ The Finishing School Book the Last. Finished rough draft, cutting and trimming begins soon. Release date early November 2015. Not yet available for pre-order.



The Books!

The Finishing School Series: 1 Etiquette & Espionage, 2 Curtsies & Conspiracies, 3
Waistcoats & Weaponry (Coming November 4, 2014)
The Custard Protocol Series: 1 Prudence (Coming March 17, 2015)
The Parasol Protectorate Series: 1 Soulless, 2 Changeless, 3 Blameless, 4 Heartless, 5 Timeless
Parasol Protectorate Series manga graphic novels
$0.99 short stories (ebook only) Marine Biology, My Sister's Song, & Fairy Debt

Book News:

Quote of the Day:
“We are living in a world today where lemonade is made from artificial flavors and furniture polish is made from real lemons.”
~ Alfred E. Newman

Follow Gail on Facebook & Twitter. Or you can join her mailing list.
She also has a fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
The best place to talk all things Parasol Protectorate is on its
Facebook Group.

Jun. 23rd, 2014

Blogging - WIth Computer

How the Victorians Described Italian Food


For Blameless, Gentle Reader, when Alexia and cohorts traveled to Florence, I utilized my 1891 Baedeker's Northern Italy extensively. Unfortunately, I don't have an earlier version, and a lot changed in Italy over the 20 years between Alexia's time and this edition of the travel guide (a complete rail system appeared, for example). Nevertheless, a 1891 Baedeker's is still better than my unreliable memories of the city (from when I was excavating near there some twenty years ago).

As I was reading along, in the wee hours of the night several years ago now, muttering to myself about all the things I would now have to go back and adjust in Blameless, I encountered an unintentionally hilarious section. Essentially, intended as a food guide, it was really Italian cuisine as defined by the Victorian British pallet. I re-encountered my notes on the subject recently, and thought you might find it entertaining.

Here are a few choice morsels for your amusement:

  • Antipasti: relishes taken as whets

  • Risotto: a kind of rice pudding (rich)

  • Salami: banger

  • Potaggio di pollo: chicken-fricassee

  • Funghi: mushrooms (often too rich)

  • Polenta: boiled maize

  • Gnocchi: small puddings

That last is my personal favorite. I can just see any one of my characters wafting into some Italian cafe and demanding a dish of those "delightful green covered tiny puddings." You see how easily I amuse myself?

That's why I was so obsessed with pesto in Blameless. This is one of the great pleasures of writing alternative history, I get to expound on the absurdity of the Victorian British abroad, but also use them as a vehicle through which I can expound on the absurdity of other cultures as well. As bad as Alexia can be about alien cuisine (she has much to say on the vileness of coffee, I must point out) you should see how she describes foreign mannerisms. The Italian language, for example, she cannot help but notice seems to be mainly comprised of "extravagant hand gestures." And, with that, I had best get back to it.


{What is Gail's Book Group reading for June? Fortune's Pawn by Rachel Bach ~ Book One in the Paradox series}


GAIL'S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .
Godeys Dec 1872 Winter

Your Infusion of Cute . . .
via emporioefikz-tumblr Balloon Chandelier

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Star Wars X-Wing Knife Block via Retro To Go

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .
AudioGals Guide to Romance Audio - Paranormal Romance


PROJECT ROUND UP


Prudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the First: Edits handed in. Release date March 17, 2015. Not yet available for pre-order.
Manners & Mutiny ~ The Finishing School Book the Last. Finished rough draft, cutting and trimming begins soon. Release date early November 2015. Not yet available for pre-order.



The Books!

The Finishing School Series: 1 Etiquette & Espionage, 2 Curtsies & Conspiracies, 3
Waistcoats & Weaponry (Coming November 4, 2014)
The Custard Protocol Series: 1 Prudence (Coming March 17, 2015)
The Parasol Protectorate Series: 1 Soulless, 2 Changeless, 3 Blameless, 4 Heartless, 5 Timeless
Parasol Protectorate Series manga graphic novels
$0.99 short stories (ebook only) Marine Biology, My Sister's Song, & Fairy Debt

Book News:

Quote of the Day:
"Heaven is where the police are British, the chefs Italian, the mechanics German, the lovers French, and it's all organized by the Swiss. Hell is where the police are German, the chefs are British, the mechanics French, the lovers Swiss, and it is all organized by the Italians."
~ An oldie but a goodie

Follow Gail on Facebook & Twitter. Or you can join her mailing list.
She also has a fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
The best place to talk all things Parasol Protectorate is on its
Facebook Group.

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