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August 2015

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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.

Aug. 28th, 2015

Blogging - WIth Computer

3 Genre TV Shows That Didn't Stick The Landing & 3 That Did


I make no bones about the fact that when I read, all I really want is a good ending. That ending doesn't have to be happy, although usually I prefer it, but it does have to be right. It has to fit with the expectations set up by the author and with the tone of the novel. I feel exactly the same way about TV.

Out with a Whimper


Now let's be clear: sometimes it isn't the show's fault. Sometimes the series got cancelled or jumped the shark already, so there's no surprise when it goes pear-shaped. Nevertheless, here is my top list of evil culprits. Shows that I went in loving and left hating simply because someone failed to knock it out in the eleventh hour.


Battlestar Galactica (the new)
I LOVED this show. I listened to the companion fan podcast. I hosted a weekly viewing at my house and we would discuss the nuances after each episode with tipsy enthusiasm. The second episode, 33, still stands as one of the best pieces of Sci-Fi TV ever put on the screen. The final episode was CRUSHING. There were three writers in the audience that night. After a long silence, during which everyone there was internally groaning disgust, the three of us instantly started rewriting it. It was a cop out in every way: threads were left unresolved, prophecies were given easy outs, characters were not at all true to their natures. I have never re-watched Battlestar Galactica because of that ending. I couldn't stand to go through the profound disappointment a second time.


The X-Files
I wasn't a dyed in the wool X-Files girl *waves at Miss K* but I watched many of the episodes and I always tuned in if it was on. I did make an effort to see the final episode and if felt pedantically obtuse. It felt as if the writers were playing with me: Oh did you want answers? Well too bad. Here, have more questions instead! Wha ha ha! There are indie flicks like this, often starring the horrendous manic pixie dream girl trope, and I find them as predictable in their way as a Disney cartoon. And just as unimaginative. They are trying to be all obscure and realistic when really they are just plain annoying. The X-Files ending was like that: needling, self-satisfied. The movie then came along and killed the whole thing for me and I've never re-watched a single X-Files episode.


Alias
Sigh. It felt rushed, not that I was a huge fan of this series to start with (so far as spy dramas go I think LFN kicks it out of the water, Chuck is funnier, and Covert Affairs is more user friendly). I like the idea of combining spy with supernatural elements, although Alias was often laughably absurd in this arena. Regardless, the ending left me nothing but cold.

I know people universally vilify Lost and Heroes, but I've never watched either because of that reputation. I refuse to set myself up for disappointment.

With a Bang


La Femme Nikita
The USA series staring Peta Wilson has the best ending of any series I have ever watched. I adored this show because of the style and because it was, most of the time, the single most unpredictable thing on TV. The show got its cancellation notice but manged to squeeze in one last short season that wrapped things up beautifully while managing to stay true to the unexpected nature of the series game. Yes, the acting is at times abysmal, but the clothing is always beautiful and that ending... unexpected, touching, heart wrenching, and perfect. It makes everything else about the series that much better because of it.


Leverage
It's not a big splashy ending, but it felt perfectly right. I've made no secret of my love for this show. Unlike other series I love, I can and do re-watch this on a regular basis. It's the characters that get me every time and they never stopped being themselves. I like a show with a bit of formula and this one provided that in spades with no attempt to be anything more sophisticated. Why should it? It was perfect as it was.


Star Trek: The Next Generation
I grew up with ST:TNG so I suspect there's a bit of nostalgia with this one. Yes, some of the later seasons jumped the shark and there is no getting around the fact that the best season cliff-to-close was between 3 and 4 (the two part Borg episodes and then Family). But All Good Things at least matched to some of the other decent time travel episodes and didn't disappoint. Perhaps I wasn't the jaded writer I am now, but I still look back fondly on that series and that finale. I wore black the day it aired. (I'm immortalized and a big black netted hat with a veil in my senior year summa cum laude photo. I asked for a moment of silence at school assembly and got it, out of shock, I think. I have always been that weird breed of in-your-face nerd.)


Kind of Okay but still felt like cop outs: both Buffy (which I mostly liked) and Angel (which I mostly disliked). I've seen arguments for and against both series' endings. I didn't include TV shows that got movies that satisfied in their way (Firefly & Farscape).

{Gail's monthly read along for August is My Man Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse}

GAIL'S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .
Le Follet Date-  Wednesday, May 1, 1844 Item ID-  v. 28, plate 63

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
5 Things You Might Not Know About Octopuses

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .


PROJECT ROUND UP


  • Manners & Mutiny ~ The Finishing School Book the Last. Releases Nov. 3, 2015. Available for pre-order! In production.

  • Imprudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the Second. Working rough draft, about 1/2 way.




The Books!

The Custard Protocol Series
1 Prudence, 2 Imprudence
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:
InkBonesBooks does a review of Prudence on YouTube and says: “...Gail Carriger writes with wit, humor, precision, and intelligence. I think that she is such a funny woman. I think that she has the perfect way to turn a phrase. She just knows knows exactly the right kinds of words to use that make you laugh.”

Quote of the Day:
"He never learned tact, Lady Keladry," one of the new boys explained. "His papa—my uncle—he’s every bit as bad."
"Then I will stay away from Jesslaw," Neal said firmly. "It must be a madhouse."
"You’ve no idea," said the other first-year with feeling.
~ Tamora Pierce, Page: Book 2 of the Protector of the Small Quartet (Neal & Owen: my two favorite characters in the series)


Gail's fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
The best place to talk all things Parasol Protectorate is on its
Facebook Group.

Aug. 26th, 2015

Blogging - WIth Computer

Book Review ~ Carry On Jeeves! by P.G. Wodehouse


What can I say about P.G. Wodehouse?

It seems rude to review of one of my greatest inspirations. The man writes such things as, "Corky trickled into my apartment one afternoon." Phrases that inspired me to think about how I describe movement, to use words like ooze instead of walk, to contemplate how Lord Maccon might be likened to a mudslide. Wodehouse's sentence structure is a window into the workings of a mind that, if not brilliant, at least perceived the world in a different way.


"Corky declined to cheer up."

I know it seems like such a simple sentence, but it's wonderful. The name: Corky. The fact that he is declining to do something beyond his control, supposedly. The attitude this portrays in both the subject, Corky, and the POV teller of the tale, Bertie.

"He's like one of those weird chappies in India who dissolve themselves into thin air and nip through space in a sort of disembodied way and assemble the parts again just where they want them."

How does Wodehouse do it? Argh!


And, of course there is the fascinating fact that, generally speaking nothing happens in these books. No real plot, just people and relationships milling about one another, in an out of each others lives. Like us. Like a romance novel. Or a day in college. There are movies like this, some of my favorites (Breakfast Club, Dazed and Confused, Clerks, Wet Hot American Summer).  There is an odd kind of beauty in entertaining without substantive plot. Its humor that carries pace. And character and personality.

And now I shall go try to write my own stuff with the certain knowledge that I am utterly inferior.

Oh and the TV series, Jeeves & Wooster, is pretty darn fab too. And ridiculous. It stars Hugh Laurie (of House M.D. fame) playing Bertie Wooster with Stephen Fry (!) as Jeeves. I own it and have been know to have it running in the background of my life because, why not?

All that said, the Wodehouse that I remember making me laugh the most was the audiobook of Laughing Gas.


{Gail's monthly read along for September is Court of Fives by Kate Elliott}

GAIL'S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .
Virgil Hapger, Portrait of Grace Kelly for The Swan directed by Charles Vidor, 1956  (Source- theredlist.com)

Your Infusion of Cute . . .
Photo by Walde Huth, 1955

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
The Mimic Octopus

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .


PROJECT ROUND UP


  • Manners & Mutiny ~ The Finishing School Book the Last. Releases Nov. 3, 2015. Available for pre-order! In production.

  • Imprudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the Second. Working rough draft, about 1/2 way.




The Books!

The Custard Protocol Series
1 Prudence, 2 Imprudence
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:
Mary Newport on the Norman Transcript said of Prudence: “Carriger has a skilled way with repartee and wordplay, as well as a keen eye for exactly how absurd you can make a situation before readers stop taking it seriously.”

Quote of the Day:
“She was rather like one of those innocent-tasting American drinks which creep imperceptibly into your system so that, before you know what you're doing, you're starting out to reform the world by force if necessary and pausing on your way to tell the large man in the corner that, if he looks at you like that, you will knock his head off.”
~ P.G. Wodehouse

Gail's fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
The best place to talk all things Parasol Protectorate is on its
Facebook Group.

Aug. 24th, 2015

Blogging - WIth Computer

WorldCon Shenanigans


So, Gentle Reader, I have returned from WorldCon and it was exhausting and quite epic, in its way. I saw old companions, met new good people, and - I hope - converted some acquaintances into lasting friendships that I will pursue at future events.

WorldCon, for me, is a major water cooler event. As a full time author, I don't have the opportunity to talk to my co-workers in the same way that most people do. I may be introverted, but that doesn't mean I'm not social. And that doesn't mean I don't need to see other authors who are going through the same things I'm going through - emotionally, physically, and professionally.

Walking the dealers hall, more fashion on Retro Rack



I landed on Thursday after a painless flight. Spokane greeted me with smoke in the air and a red sun overhead.

The view from my hotel room, that's smoke... not fog

I usually try for the closest hotel to a convention, to save my feet and allow me to dash back to my room as needed. Unfortunately, I didn't realize my hotel also had programming which meant the elevators were working overtime and unconscionably slow. Witness Gail climbing up to her 9th floor room several times each day via the fire stairs, and convincing herself she is doing it for her health.

Good thing, too, as I had too much of a truly wonderful meal at Wild Sage that first night. Laura Anne Gilman (@LAGilman) took this awesome photo of us.

Front left to right: @BarbFerrer, @LAGilman, Val, self, @howardtayler, @klingonguy

I liked the food there so much that I went back on Saturday night while everyone else swanked up at the Hugos.

From Lawrence M. Schoen via FB with Barbara, Val, Self, Kameron, and Jason

Yes, Val and I sat in the same seats at the same table both nights. Why mess with a good thing?

Obligatory food porn picture: chocolate hazelnut torte with caramel sauce and spun sugar

After Thursday's lovely dinner, I tottered over to the Drinks With Authors event. It was full of the usual suspects and I ran into pretty much everyone I hadn't run into already. As you do. There was some lovely baked-apple cider and I don't remember much more of that evening except at some point I chatted with Sanderson & Wells which lead to...

Friday morning, despite the fact that I wasn't officially there yet, I got author-napped to be on the Writing Excuses panel.

The crowd at writing excuses

Writing Excuses is an excellent podcast if you wish to become a professional author. (If you want to delve a little deeper into established authorial secrets then Ditch Diggers is your cast de jour.) I talked about my vaunted Convention Kit and we all offered advice on what to bring along with you to a convention ~ whether attending as a fan or a pro.

My kit, for all those who wanted to see it close up

After Writing Excuses I poodled off for lunch with Ken Scholes, a bosom pal of mine since we both debuted back in 2009. We discovered a little natural food market with a salad bar that had a Green Goddess dressing that rocked my world. I press-ganged the BFF into having it as well (she was slaving away at a dealer's table so I took it back to her.) I wandered the vendor hall a great deal at this convention, and rather enjoyed myself merely visiting with everyone.

Princess Mononoke cosplay sits alone under the smokey sky

Saturday was my one day of programming, but I managed to squeeze in a kaffeeklatsch and a signing. I do hope that everyone who wanted to see me managed to do so. There was a lot of me running up stairs and zooming through the Green Room because I had a wardrobe malfunction, a snack lunch, and caffeine issues that made an already busy day rather chaotic.

Extra Panel Notes for Humor in Teen and Middle Grade Fiction

Snacking TJs style

Saturday night, after another amazing meal at Wild Sage, it was back to the bar to watch the Hugos streaming. Or, more precisely, to drink champagne (why not?) and watch everyone else react to the Hugos, then ask "What Happened?" until they got annoyed enough to tell me, then look on Twitter to see who snarked what. Want to know what all the kerfuffle was about? Here's an article.


I scored a date to the Losers Party (although it turns out, I likely could have got in anyway because I once lost the Campbell). So I was one of those to witness the first ever, and perhaps last ever, Alfie Awards.

George above, and the losers below.


I'm not going to lie: it was rather moving, and then I moved myself about the dance floor in a loose imitation of dancing, chatted long into the night with friends and colleagues, and generally stayed up later and exercised more than I have in years. Sunday morning was not pretty, people. Not pretty at all.

Unfortunately, Sunday morning happened whether I liked it or not. It took me unconscionably long to pack, my brain just wasn't there. I did one last pass around the dealers to say goodbye, plane got delayed, so I ended up chatting in the onsite lounge with pals and when we got kicked out we went for tea... as you do. Couldn't ask for a better way to end the convention.

Shout out to Locus and Wordfire press, my homes away from home. When in the vendor hall, I lurked with them and they totally tolerated me.

{Gail's monthly read along for August is My Man Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse}

GAIL'S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .
The Bathing Hour by Joaquín Sorolla from @MuseoSorolla

Your Infusion of Cute . . .
Fan belonging to Queen Victoria ca. 1850
A little how I imagined Sophronia's fan.

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
MPs and Queen Victoria’s Coronation

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .


PROJECT ROUND UP


  • Manners & Mutiny ~ The Finishing School Book the Last. Releases Nov. 3, 2015. Available for pre-order! In production.

  • Imprudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the Second. Working rough draft, about 1/2 way.




The Books!

The Custard Protocol Series
1 Prudence, 2 Imprudence
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:
Percy&FootnoteFanart Fanart by Desiree Schwartz


Quote of the Day:
“I’ve fallen in love with literature. I try to read for one or two hours every day. I only have one life to live. But in books I can live one thousand lives.”
~ via Humans of New York

Gail's fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
The best place to talk all things Parasol Protectorate is on its
Facebook Group.

Aug. 19th, 2015

Blogging - WIth Computer

Gail is At WorldCon in Spokane


My dear Gentle Reader, I am off to tip the light bubbly at WorldCon in Spokane. Want to catch me? I'll be hanging out at The Bar, I suspect, wherever that bar ends up being. (For we are authors and there is always a Chosen Bar at one of the hotels or another.) Otherwise, I am doing programming all day on Saturday.

The convention kit. L-R, T-B = promo postcards, pens for signing all books, special cards
to give away to kaffeeklatch, small notebook, name tents, newsletter sign up sheet,
business cards, book covers (first in each series), kit bag.

Here is where you can find me:

SATURDAY ~ August 22

11:00 AM ~ 11:45 AM Humor in Teen and Middle Grade Fiction
    Convention Center - 401C
    with Frog Jones, Kaja Foglio, Nichole Giles
Humor within young adult and middle grade fiction is abundant. What is it about the bending of these genres with humor that works so well? Why are we drawn to tales that make us laugh? Our panelists take a walk on the lighter side of speculative fiction for children and teens as they dish about their favorite authors, books, and stories. (I'm already planning on mentioning Howl's Moving Castle.)


12:00 PM ~ 12:45 PM Kaffeeklatsch
    Convention Center - 202A-KK1

2:00 PM ~ 2:45 PM Finance for Writers
    Convention Center - 303A
    with Doug Farren, Madeleine Robins, Kevin Wiley
What are the implications for writers under contract to a publisher vs. self-published writers? Tax issues.

3:00 PM ~ 3:45 PM Autographing
    Convention Center - Exhabit Hall B
with Brenda Cooper, Daniel Kimmel, Fonda Lee, Kristine Rusch, Robert Silverberg, Connie Willis

4:00 PM ~ 4:45 PM Characters with “Character” in YA Fiction
    Spokane Falls Suite A/B (Doubletree)
    with William Campbell Powell, Paolo Bacigalupi, Deby Fredericks, Rebecca Moesta
Not all characters are created equally. Some are made for moving the plot along, some are created for comedy relief, and some crafted to inspire. A book is created around characters readers can get behind, love, hate or empathize with, laugh at. From heroes to villains and more, authors share some of their favorite YA fiction characters and what makes these characters so interesting. Find out what characters work and what characters don't for young adult readers.

I do hope to see you there! If you catch me on Friday or Sunday lurking about the halls, bar, or parties I will be happy to stop and sign. However, Saturday please come to my signing because I'll be running between panels all that day.

{Gail's monthly read along for August is My Man Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse}

GAIL'S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .
Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French painter, 1841-1919)

Your Infusion of Cute . . .
Octopus Chandeliers

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Fatal Victorian Fashion and the Allure of the Poison Garment

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .
How to Stay Healthy Before, During, and After a Convention


PROJECT ROUND UP


  • Manners & Mutiny ~ The Finishing School Book the Last. Releases Nov. 3, 2015. Available for pre-order! In production.

  • Imprudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the Second. Working rough draft, about 1/2 way.




The Books!

The Custard Protocol Series
1 Prudence, 2 Imprudence
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:
Lili and the World of Books on Etiquette & Espionage: “J'ai été très surprise par cette histoire, j'ai adoré l'idée du mélange époque et espionnage. Je ne vous cache pas que c'est mon premier steampunk et j'ai adoré. Ce que j'ai encore le plus aimé, c'est le pensionnat pour jeunes filles, mais qui au final se cache une école d'espionnage. J'ai trouvé cela très intéressant. “

Quote of the Day:
"Talent hits a target no one else can hit. Genius hits a target no one else can see."
~ Arthur Schopenhauer

Gail's fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
The best place to talk all things Parasol Protectorate is on its
Facebook Group.

Aug. 17th, 2015

Blogging - WIth Computer

Teapot Carrier ~ AKA the Carriage Cozy


Some time ago, Gentle Reader, a dear friend gifted me with a teapot carrier. At first, when I saw it I was confused. Why would she give me one of those 1950's hair dryer cases?


Then I opened it up and inside was a perfectly nested teapot!

The teapot is modern, from Cost Plus, but I believe it came with the carrier when she bought it at the Alameda Antiques Fair.

Whenever I tweet about this carrier it gets lots of attention and interest, so I thought I would do a little research. Because I have a deadline, and a book I should be writing instead, why not investigate tea carriers?

The Relevant Tea Leaf has a blog post on the tea cozy including a mention of carriers.

"I've read different accounts for its use.   The term 'Carriage Cozy' came about because it carried the tea and  teapot by carriage - perhaps to a picnic.  It is said servants also used this cozy to carry the tea and teapot  from the downstairs kitchen to  their employers upstairs.  The cozy made transport easier, protected the porcelain teapot, and most importantly it kept the tea warm." ~ Phyllis Barkey


The Relevant Tea Leaf's Carrier

Apparently, these carriers are still made in Holland.


It is hard to see how they would be useful if filled with tea at the time of transport. Surely it would slosh out and dampen the interior of the case? Perhaps they came with is a cap or cork for the spout?

The Tea Blog of the English Tea Store has a discussion on cozies too. They refer to this specific style of cozy as the Western Style Carriage Cozy.

Source mentioned above.

"A style of traveling, or carriage, cozy that may be more familiar to Western tea drinkers is fashioned of cloth on a metal or wood frame, with a handle and a clip to hold it closed. The teapot is nestled into the deep padding.  These may have been used as far back as Victorian times for carrying tea to friends’ homes. Nowadays tea drinkers probably don’t carry them much further than the back yard. I’ve used mine a couple of times and it’s very efficient at keeping tea hot, although somewhat awkward once on the table." ~ teaguide

via MilnerMercantile on Etsy

MilnerMercantile on Etsy refers to their listing of a carriage cozy as Vintage item from the 1960s. I wouldn't be surprised if mine is also from around that time period. It doesn't have the feel of being much older (I've my materials archaeologist hat on when I say this). And while mine is in much worse condition (one of the reasons I don't mind using it) it has the same clasp, handle style, and general shape as the above example.

Listing

This hatbox shaped one turned up on Etsy and sold for $43. So they do seem to become available eventually.

The following carriage cozy is listed as being from the 1930s. I do love the little feet. But I am beginning to question the dates on these puppies as they seem all over the place.

Etsy listing.

While this one below was listed as a Victorian Horse Carriage Teapot Cozy or Caddy.


Again the clasps and styles are all so very similar that the archaeologist in me seriously questions the dating on these cozies. I'd love to see an advertisement in a dated magazine, or a fashion plate or photograph or something showing these with a sustainable date and provenance. Although in the closed position they look so much like a large purse or hatbox it would be hard to find due to miss categorization, methinks. That said, in all my research into Victorian times and travel journals I have never seen image or mention of a carriage cozy. (My research being confined to 1830-1900.)

Yes, they look Victorian, and the temptation is to want them to be from that time period but I think it more likely that they are post turn of the century at the very least. Although the lined wicker/basket ones certainly can be earlier.

Auction item.

The above is listed as 19th/Early 20th Century and that certainly correct to dating the pot inside it. Ceramics I do know a thing or two about.

It looks like you can snap this red one up right now for $43 out of Canada, if you like. Look at the little cap for the spout!




"In good vintage condition this teapot carrier was used in days gone by to keep tea warm while traveling in a carriage or going to a picnic. There is a small matching accessory that goes over the spout so the tea doesn't spill. Clean condition. Metal closure. Stands about 14 " with handle. About 12" wide and 10" deep. Unique conversation piece. Tea pot not included."


{Gail's monthly read along for August is My Man Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse}

GAIL'S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .
Le Follet Date-  Saturday, June 1, 1844 Item ID-  v. 28, plate 77

Your Infusion of Cute . . .
My new mug.

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
8 Crazy Facts about Octopuses

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .


PROJECT ROUND UP


  • Manners & Mutiny ~ The Finishing School Book the Last. Releases Nov. 3, 2015. Available for pre-order! In production.

  • Imprudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the Second. Working rough draft, about 1/2 way.




The Books!

The Custard Protocol Series
1 Prudence, 2 Imprudence
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:
Le Monde de Mara says of Waistcoats & Weaponry: “J’ai retrouvé Sophronia avec plaisir, comme on retourne une jeune soeur ou une jeune cousine un peu farfelue. Ce tome 3 prend place quasiment que dans un train, durant un voyage vers l’Ecosse.”

Quote of the Day:
“One of the drawing-rooms was ‘draped’ in a way that was quite painfully aesthetic, considering the paucity of the draperies. The flower-pot were draped, and the lamps; there were draperies round the piano-legs, and round the clock; and there there were not draperies there were bows, all of the same scanty description. The only thing that had not made an effort to clothe itself was the poker and by contrast it looked very nude.”
~ A disgusted visitor describes a drawing-room in the Victorian era via The Victorian House by Judith Flanders

Gail's fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
The best place to talk all things Parasol Protectorate is on its
Facebook Group.

Aug. 14th, 2015

Blogging - WIth Computer

Gail's 10 Favorite Space Operas


Over on Goodread's never ending AMA, Gentle Reader, someone asked me to recommend my favorite Space Operas and I thought I would bounce over and do a blog post on the subject as well, a little more in depth.

You read, right? Well I thought you might be interested.

Gail's 10 Favorite Space Operas


1. Tanya Huff's Valor series

This military space opera series begins with Valor's Choice (if you want to read paper you'll need to buy this book used or, in the USA, the first two are available new in omnibus form as A Confederation of Valor). This is an ongoing series at five books, I think I heard a rumor that #6 will be the last, and I am not caught up. My reviews of the ones I have read so far are up on Goodreads. We read the first one for the reading group.


Marvelous characters and alien races, extremely snappy dialogue, an endearing and tough heroine, and lots of fast action. I am a particular fan of the first book in the Valor series because it opens with a post sex pheromone hangover and ends with a battle based on one of the early moments in the Zulu War. Please, don't make the mistake of comparing Tanya Huff's different series to one another. She completely changes her author voice depending on the genre. A truly remarkable ability in an author, and one I admire greatly. The tone of Valor is entirely different from that of her urban fantasy stuff (e.g. Blood series and Keeper series) and both in turn different from her fantasies (e.g. Quarter series). So if you have read Huff before and not liked her, I still suggest giving Valor's Choice a try. Also, all her books are LBGT friendly.

I intend to finish this series, but at this juncture I am waiting for her to complete it. Tanya has joined my ill fated list of authors for whom I am suspicious of the dropsies (see The Silvered) so I am waiting until she concludes Valor satisfactorily to finish the books. I have, however, supported the series by buying them all. Because, well, I'm an author so I know how the game is played.

2.  Rachel Bach's Paradox series



On the flip side: Paradox is a completed military space opera trilogy, of which the first is Fortune's Pawn. Rachel uses Urban Fantasy tricks in her story making it snappy, romantic, and fun. We read this first one for the reading group too and there was a lively discussion. I finished the entire series immediately, I liked it so much and then reviewed all three at once. My reviews tend to contain spoilers because, frankly, I don't care about spoilers.

3.  Jean Johnson's Theirs Not to Reason Why series


Complete at five books (originally intended to be 4) this high-end far-future space opera series begins with A Soldier's Duty and features a main character who is a psi future seer heavy worlder, best at everything physical and mental. Ia is a pompous Cassandra prophetess figure orchestrating the future of the galaxy. Despite Mary Sue components, repetitive language, info dumping, and various other concerns and issues I found this whole series utterly addicting and hypnotic. (Insert ARGH of frustration here.) I could not put them down and sobbed at the last book. Yes that's a spoiler but I would want to be warned. SOBBED people. Sobbed. It made my 10 Books to Read When You Need a Good Cry list. She's planning a prequel spin off. Like Ia, I'm doomed.

4. Doyle and MacDonald's Mageworlds series



If you want some magic and politics mixed in with your space opera then you can do no better than The Mageworlds series by Doyle and MacDonald. Despite what Amazon says, there are three in the first series (The Price of the Stars, Starpilot's Grave, By Honor Betray'd), a spin off (The Long Hunt), a stand alone prequel (The Gathering Flame) and (I think) a prequel series (The Stars Asunder, A Working of Stars, and I thought there was one other?). This series is an oldie but a goody, and is hard to get hold of in dead tree as it's OP. Be thankful there seem to be eBooks out there, last time I checked there weren't. I like the first trilogy and the prequel, and I read them in that order. (Although I am thinking about a reread in world chronological order soon.) Bonus: the main character is a serious cross dresser. The others all have male main characters so while I read them, you should know by now that as a reader that's not my thing. They authors have a $0.99 in world short up as well, if you want a low barrier to entry sample of their style.

"In keeping with Prime's importance, the Officers' Club there boasted the best food of any Space force base on Galcen, which wasn't saying that much - and the best wine cellar of any base in the galaxy, which was saying a great deal."

And it's their style I love. I'm a fan of co-authored male/female author pairings. These two have a gift for description and I am looking forward to my e-reread so I can gank lots of beautiful quotes for you all. The Price of the Stars trilogy features multiple POV characters, all siblings, but mainly focuses on Beka Rosselin-Metadi: a cross dressing, on the run trickster archetype with possible multiple personality leanings. She's fantastic! I begin to realize she might have had more to do with Madame Lefoux and Rue than I ever realized before now.

"Beka followed the manager and the Professor across the Lily's crowded floor, dodging waiters, dancers, and little tables."

5. S.L. Viehl's Blade Dancer (spin off from her StarDoc series)



If you want something with more romance and sexy-times then go for Viehl's Blade Dancer (sadly not available in eBook, grrr). This is a stand alone (YES!) spin off of her Stardoc series which is much longer, started off strong, but devolved and is not as good IMHO. S.L. Viehl is a master of high action, bloody drama, sexy aliens, and true love. This is her at her very best. If you are interested in StarDoc but daunted by the length of the series, give this fabulously fun book a go.

Blade Dancer is a super sexy space opera about ninja-style assassins. It features a tough, if embattled, ex-sportswoman surrounded by engaging characters, strong romantic elements, high action, and some pretty gruesome moments. This universe is full of slave ships and slavers and reminds a bit of Sassinak and the Planet Pirates series.

6. Elizabeth Moon's Vatta's War series




Speaking of which, Elizabeth Moon has the five book Vatta's War series that I haven't read in ages but I remember liking very much. The first one, Trading in Danger, borders on YA about a merchant girl who joins the military and rises unexpectedly fast. (There's not a lot of true YA in this particular genre that I recommend, but please feel free to comment if you have suggestions. Although no, I will never read the Honor Harrington stuff. No rape for me. Won't read it. Period.) Also Moon has the Heris Serrano books (series retitled The Serrano Legacy?) of which there appear to be seven, but which appear to have been omnibused and rebranded for ebook. I remember liking these very much as well and may pick up the first one for a reread at some point. These two series have minimal crossover but do exist in the same world.

7.  Lee & Miller's Local Custom (part of the Liaden Universe series)



I also love Lee & Miller's Liaden universe, particularly Local Custom. There is an active fan base for this series including a forum called Clan Korval. Another male/female co-author team that strike an excellent balance I've read a number of their books. For a while they were hard to get hold of (publisher issues and then tackling burgeoning ebook market I assume) so I haven't kept up with them. If you want to dive fully into this mire go over and poke about Goodreads where there is a master list via in world chronology (not order as written) up to 17 books at the moment. Most of their books are more sci-fi and anthropology than romantic, there is just something about the details of this universe that seem to have wide-scale appeal.

Local Custom can be read as a stand alone and they have finally brought it out as a self published (?) eBook. You'll get a sense of their writing style in not standard plot. This is, by far, their most romantic take on the space opera. It features eternal love, clashing cultures, and all sorts of other tropes yours truly adores. None of the others I've read have been as romantic. Sadly.

8. Lois McMaster Bujold's Cordelia's Honor (prequel to her Vorkosigan series)



If you are in the mood for a, sort of, stand alone than you can do no better than Cordelia's Honor (which is in print only omnibus of eBooks Shards of Honor and Barrayar). There are Lois McMaster Bujold's prequels to her wildly popular Vorkosigan Saga staring Miles's mother. The first installment is essentially a survival story on an alien world with enemies forced to survive, and uncover treachery, together. This falls under the sub heading of planet fall space opera, a sub genre I like because I fancy I have some latent survivor tendencies (when I can drag myself away from the nail salon ~ snark). The second half is more political as Cordelia, now an outcast from her own culture, enters Vor politics in her own fierce and indomitable way. Cordelia has an innate sense of right and wrong and true grace under fire. I'm more interested in her character than in the events leading up to Miles' birth, as I've never had the time nor inclination to commit to the full (seemingly endless) Vorkosigan saga. Please don't tell me how sad this makes you, or how I should rush out and buy now now now, it's my retirement plan. The true beauty of this omnibus is that it stands alone, and gives us all insight into Bujold's brilliance.

9. Anne McCaffery's Restoree



Restoree by Anne McCaffery is an earth-girl-stolen-to-alien-planet political drama with a great romantic thread and a light breezy tone. It has a summer read feel to it. Don't worry, the aliens are amorphous ~ no bugs. There is some plastic-surgery kind of experimentation, but it's very light. The romance element is wonderfully well done.


10. Anne McCaffrey's Freedom series




Speaking of planet fall, my favorite of these is, by a landslide (pun intended) is the Freedom series by Anne McCaffery, the first of which is Freedom's Landing. I blush to admit I never managed to finish this series, there was a massive time lag between the 3rd and final 4th book so I thought it was a trilogy and just stopped. But I will finish it, I promise! Only now I need to reread them all. It features a kidnapped from war-ravaged earth trope (see Restoree) plus surviving on an alien world, with a super tough main character plus sexy alien romance (the early 90's answer to hot vampires). Now that they have all be rebranded (smartly) and released the series as eBooks I might actually finish.

Honorable mention:


An oldie but a goodie. This is a novella length book with wonderful pictures included throughout, is a space opera mixed with highly class driven society romance. It's all about fashion, in the end. Which is probably why I love it so.

Sigh, writing this blog post has made me realize how much space opera I want to reread. Why is there not more time?

A Reading List of Reading Lists

{Gail's monthly read along for August is My Man Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse}

GAIL'S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .
Percy Tarrant (British artist, 1879-1930) A Lady with a Parasol

Your Infusion of Cute . . .
New Octopus at N. Oregon Coast’s Seaside Aquarium

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Fully Functional Steampunk Computer Made from Old Parts

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .


PROJECT ROUND UP


  • Manners & Mutiny ~ The Finishing School Book the Last. Releases Nov. 3, 2015. Available for pre-order! In production.

  • Imprudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the Second. Working rough draft, about 1/2 way.




The Books!

The Custard Protocol Series
1 Prudence, 2 Imprudence
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:
Giles Hash of Beyond the Trope said of Prudence: “Carriger crafted a shining world, once again, in the pages of her book, more fully-formed thanks to the work she put into her other books.”

Quote of the Day:
"Now stand to your glasses steady -
The galaxy's nothing but lies.
So here's to our friends dead already,
And here's to the next one who dies."
~ Doyle & MacDonald from The Price of the Stars

Gail's fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
The best place to talk all things Parasol Protectorate is on its
Facebook Group.

Aug. 12th, 2015

Blogging - WIth Computer

Ketchup Blog ~ Missing Companions


Things are going pretty well, Gentle Reader. I'm finally healing up and my energy levels have resumed. A lot has changed while I've been out of it. And frankly, my dear, I don't handle change very well.


You see, I'm not really a solitary writer. I write best with at least one other person sitting near or across from me... also writing. Occasionally, one or the other of us will look up (me to ask how to spell something ~ it's always spelling, him on a point of business, her on a chapter title idea) but usually it's just us silently typing.

Sadly, the world has conspired to relocate my writing companions to other states over the last six months. I am a little bereft. Not to worry, I will find someone new soon I hope.

Other than that I'm back to writing most days so if you see me on Twitter in the afternoons I'm actually not there (via the magic of Hootsuite) or I have miraculously already finished my word count for the day.

{Gail's monthly read along for August is My Man Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse}

GAIL'S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .
Ensemble de toilettes de la maison.
Title-  Le Moniteur de la Mode Date-
Tuesday, August 1, 1843 Item ID-  v. 27, plate 58

Your Infusion of Cute . . .
Cleo de Morode

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Traffic rules for London in 1800

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .


PROJECT ROUND UP


  • Manners & Mutiny ~ The Finishing School Book the Last. Releases Nov. 3, 2015. Available for pre-order! In production.

  • Imprudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the Second. Working rough draft, about 1/2 way.




The Books!

The Custard Protocol Series
1 Prudence, 2 Imprudence
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:
Jennifer @bookshelfery says of the Waistcoats & Weaponry audiobook: “What do you get when you cross supernatural creatures, flywaymen, picklemen and teenaged girls being trained for espionage?  AWESOME IS WHAT YOU GET!”

Quote of the Day:
“In addition, the rise of mass production gave many access to objects that only few could have acquired earlier. Therefore the status markers moved on from the now less-expensive accumulation of possessions to another, more expensive and time-consuming, preoccupation: keeping clean.”
~ The Victorian House by Judith Flanders

Gail's fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
The best place to talk all things Parasol Protectorate is on its
Facebook Group.

Aug. 10th, 2015

Blogging - WIth Computer

J.D. MacDonald ~ Or Reading Outside of One's Genre

I consider myself a SF/F reader by preference and inclination, Gentle Reader. But I guess you could say I'm writer enough to appreciate a really good author no matter what their genre. You know, the kind that actually chuck you out of the world they have created with a sentence or a paragraph so beautifully written you can do nothing but pause and appreciate the art of it. I have a few literary types in my ken: Margret Atwood, for example. Sadly, they usually aspire to the noble title of novelist dejour, none of that dirty commercial or genre tagging thank you very much. I don't go out of my way to read them, much as I appreciate the skillz. I actually don't enjoy being chucked out of the world I'm absorbed in. Also, I tend to dislike their subject matter as it's generally pretty depressing.

Back in the 1960s when a paperback book cost $1.95 and pulp fiction was on firm footing, a certain gentleman named John D. MacDonald invented a character called Travis McGee. Yes ~ his books are mysteries, often quite violent and gruesome. Yes ~ they are alpha male occasionally anti-woman. No ~ I don't read them for pleasure. No ~ I don't own any myself. But I think he's probably the best writer America has ever produced.

Just look at this set up for a fight scene:

"He stood up, impressively tall and broad. "You insulted the lady."
The lady was sitting erect, buttoning her blouse. The lady said, "Deck him, Lew!" Sick him, Rover. He swarmed at me, obedient as any dog.
I am tall, and I gangle. I look like a loose-jointed, clumsy hundred and eighty. The man who takes a better look at the size of my wrists can make a more accurate guess. When I get up to two twelve I get nervous and hack it back on down to two oh five. As far as clumsiness and reflexes go, I have never had to use a flyswatter in my life. My combat expression is one of apologetic anxiety. I like them confident. My stance is mostly composed of elbows."


Brilliant! I'm not a good enough writer to describe how good he is. Unfortunately for him, like Picasso producing only postcards, he never got credit as a writer because he produced only pulp mysteries (and one, extremely hard to find but wonderful, collection of sci-fi shorts). He still, to this day, has a small but rabid fan base (Spider Robinson is reputed to be one). They ought to teach this man in schools. Commercial fiction, baby, is all too often underrated.

You don't have to take my word for it: Jared over at Pornokitsch also loves J.D.


{Gail's monthly read along for August is My Man Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse}

GAIL'S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .
Royal Family, 1870s-80s. via sheworshipscarlin tumblr

Your Infusion of Cute . . .
11 Fun Facts that Prove Octopuses are Are All Kinds of Astonishing

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Galactic Suburbia Podcast: Teen Feminism Edition (full of some wonderful resources)

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .
Fiction University: The Do-It-Yourself Writers’ Retreat


PROJECT ROUND UP


  • Manners & Mutiny ~ The Finishing School Book the Last. Releases Nov. 3, 2015. Available for pre-order! In production.

  • Imprudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the Second. Working rough draft, about 1/2 way.




The Books!

The Custard Protocol Series
1 Prudence, 2 Imprudence
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:
The Life (and lies) of an Inanimate Flying Object interviews yours truly.

Quote of the Day:
“...like a grain of sand that gets into an oyster's shell. What if the grain doesn't want to become a pearl? Is it ever asked to climb out quietly and take up its old position as a bit of ocean floor?”
~ Robin McKinley, The Blue Sword

Gail's fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
The best place to talk all things Parasol Protectorate is on its
Facebook Group.

Aug. 7th, 2015

Blogging - WIth Computer

Writing Retreat


I retreated to my mom's this week, Gentle Reader, part of the reason you got no blog post mid-week.

It was a pretty productive endeavor. It's been awfully hot at my home base. Old Victorians aren't built for coolness, I find. Particularly if you live on the second floor. Having been raised on the coast, I'm not good at coping with heat. I usually end up lying on my bed staring up at the ceiling trying to solve the mysteries of the universe. This may work for some authors, but I don't write that kind of book.


So I hot-footed it (pun intended) out to the Mum's on the coast, where the sea breeze is breezy and sea-like ~ even if there is far more sun than there was in my youth. I took a few leisurely bike rides, drank a great deal of tea, and managed to get back up to my normal word count for the first time in a month and a half. Whoop!


Things are going well in Rue's world, from my end... not so much from hers. Boredom through the aetherosphere got a few members of the crew of the Spotted Custard into deeper trouble than it ought. We finally reached Egypt and are soon to learn source of Percy's mysterious smugness.

{Gail's monthly read along for August is My Man Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse}


GAIL'S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .
Ladies' Cabinet Date-  Thursday, July 1, 1841 Item ID-  v. 24, plate 82

Your Infusion of Cute . . .
Hand-blown Glass Octopus

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Inventions of the 19th Century Timeline

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .


PROJECT ROUND UP


  • Manners & Mutiny ~ The Finishing School Book the Last. Releases Nov. 3, 2015. Available for pre-order! In production.

  • Imprudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the Second. Working rough draft, about 1/2 way.




The Books!

The Custard Protocol Series
1 Prudence, 2 Imprudence
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:
Veeera of Paperwights says, “Prudence is simply excellent fun from a very capable author.”

Quote of the Day:
“Never love anyone who treats you like you're ordinary.” ~ Oscar Wilde

Gail's fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
The best place to talk all things Parasol Protectorate is on its
Facebook Group.

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