Happy New Year from Shaggin the Muse and my 2012 Booklist

Wow, so this is the second New Years Eve for this site. I’m planning a 2012 in review post for later this week, but for now I can just say that 2012 was a great year for my career. I published a second novel and a plethora of short works and attended my first show. I managed to crank out half a million words. More than that, I began to get my legs under me and figure out what I’d like to see out of the next few years. Next year I’ll be releasing a short story collection and another novel and attending a few shows, with an April show already confirmed. More information coming on those in the near future. For now, I just feel that I have some decent momentum going into 2013.

I hope you’ve had a great year and have a lot to look forward to next year. We only get so many of them and as I get older I realize just how important it is to do the most you can with the time you have. Yeah, I know that’s something of a cliche, but it begins to settle into your bones as you approach middle age, that’s for sure.

Now, enough of that. It’s booklist time! This year I set a goal to read 60 books (up from last year’s 50). That meant I would have to read, on average, more than a book a week. I hadn’t done that in many, many years and wasn’t sure if I would make it. I’m happy to report that I’ve exceeded that goal, hitting 64, which means I’ll probably keep my goal static next year. Let’s see what I read…

Ready_Player_One_cover

Alexandria

Garbage Day: Announcements and Steampunk

I think it’s time for another Garbage Day. It’s been awhile, and I’m definitely overdue. For those who are new to my blog, Garbage Day is the one day of the week where I allow myself to ramble on about nothing in particular – often sharing announcements, upcoming plans, and other items that don’t warrant an entire post on their own. You know – taking out the garbage.

First item of business this week is the expansion of Qwendellonia Publishing. Full disclosure, I started the company up to publish my own works and nothing more, but as time goes on, I’m seeing the potential for something else there, a chance to publish some “different” works. With that in mind, we’ve brought on some new authors and negotiated deals for some older works to keep our release schedule busy until the new year.  Continue reading

Garbage Day: Odds and Ends

So much stuff on my mind, and not one of them is worthy of an entire post. Don’t you just hate that?  so I figured I’d just compile them all together into a single post. Maybe I should do this on the weekly. A weekly garbage day. That sounds apt, right? Especially for a Monday, when maybe everything isn’t working together quite right up in the head (and believe me, this morning is one of those times).

Wanted to start off by taking a look at the Kindle books that I’ve picked up in the last week. I got lucky and got an Amazon gift card from my mother in appreciation for some help with purchasing a new computer, so I figured I’d spread some of the love to other authors. Here are the books that I purchased last week, and why.

  • Thirteen Hours by Deon Meyer. I think this one was a Kindle special last week, but honestly the purchase was a no-brainer either way, as it’s set in South Africa and I have a special affinity for the place after visiting there in the late 90s.
  • The Grove by John Rector. Another Kindle special that caught my eye, this one is a noir novel with an interesting premise that caught my attention. I also see that he was quite pleased with the results of that, so I’m glad to have been able to help that, in a small way.
  • Soulless, Blameless, and Changeless (The Parasol Protectorate) and My Sister’s Song by Gail Carriger. I stumbled across a review of the latest book in the Parasol Protectorate on Civilian Reader and was instantly intrigued – it sounded right up my alley. So I checked out her site and discovered that she’s also doing a monthly single, which for this month is My Sister’s Song, and snatched that up along with the first three books.
  •  Wasteland by Lynn Rush. I’ve mentioned Lynn here before, but it was great to be able to be a part of her book release party, and the book itself sounds really good, too!
  • The 19 Dragons by SM Reine. This was recommended along with the Carriger books, so I figured at 99 cents it was worth looking into. Again, the concept sounds great, so I have a feeling I’ll enjoy it.
  • Shriek: An Afterword by Jeff VanderMeer. This was a no-brainer, given what I said about Finch last week. At this point, I’m moving backwards through this series, and finding it quite an interesting experience to do so.

The rest of my purchases will fall into next week’s entry, but I definitely haven’t stopped there. One of my most interesting discoveries from this little spree, however, has been the relatively small size of the community of writers producing the kind of books I like to read and write. When I click on similar works on Amazon, I often find authors that I have either already read or purchased and are waiting on my list. I don’t know if this is a good sign. Part of me worries, but what else can I really do? It’s what I want to write.

Moving on. Next bit of business is weekend writing. I know that a lot of people do the majority of their writing on the weekend, but it’s always been something of a struggle for me, even going way back to when I was starting out. I’m not sure why, but it seems like my brain is geared to write during the business week. The reason I ask is that I’m participating in a writing contest with my fiancee and a friend, and the metric for success is not words written but number of days in a row. I mean, I’ve never been a seven-day-a-week kind of guy, but I’m trying to stretch myself out for this challenge, and it was a challenge, all right. I’m not sure why, but my brain just refused to click into place, and I wonder if I should be concerned about burnout and resulting writer’s block. It was a record week word-wise, but it really took it out of me. Does anyone else struggle with this?

Watched four episodes of True Blood over the weekend. We’ve been slowly catching up on the show, and are about halfway through Season 2. I’m sure the topic has been done to death, but it is interesting that something involved with vampires can manage to hold my attention, given how sick I am of the topic in general. I think it’s a testament to what good writing and fresh ideas can bring to even an old, worn concept. I even found myself marveling that the concept of a vampire hotel had never occurred to me or come up in the fiction that I’ve read. It seems like such a simple concept, and yet there it is. It also helps that the show has fully-realized characters (for the most part, anyway. Some of the second-tier vampires are kind of iffy) that have emotional drives. I’m particularly enjoying Jason’s arc with the church, and find myself wanting the story to go back around to that.

Of course, the second season has its faults, too. If I have to watch one more party scene, I’m going to gouge my eyes out. Do these ever work well in film or television? Actually, now that I throw it out there, I can think of a handful of movies that used it well – Donnie Darko in particular comes to mind, as the party there was the fulcrum of the story itself.  But in general, I tend to think of party scenes as the drum solo of films; there’s just way too much going on and too many movies try too hard to emphasize the “boy we’re having fun” angle. Nine times out of ten, I’d rather attend a party than watch one. Oh, and the sex scenes are just completely out of control, but so far they’ve managed to make each one relevant to the plot.

I’m far from a prude, believe me – I like a good sex scene, and hell I’m writing an erotica, but there’s a point where it really does become too much. But speaking of this topic, how does sex with vampires work? If the heart isn’t pumping blood, then…of course, for that matter, that’s a weakness with the concept in general, especially when it comes to humans feeding on vampires as part of the siring process. I know it’s really nitpicky, but it’s a part of the legend that’s always bothered me, and when you’re talking about the literary tradition, the blood-sucking part is supposed to be symbolic of sex itself, so to throw actual sex on top of it I think kind of muddles the point of vampires. Look at the heavily implied homosexuality in Interview With the Vampire. She didn’t need to show a single sex scene between Louis and Lestat, and yet it’s one of the more homoerotic things that I’ve ever read.

Just repeat to myself it’s just a show, I should really just relax…