life updates

oh hey, i remembered this thing exists.

ok, so, long and short of it — i’ve been up all night and i can’t see straight at this point. yesterday i got informed we have another flood. for those of you keeping score at home, this is flood number 3 in our time here. the first was the weekend before our wedding, the second was last november (so only a few months ago), and the third was yesterday.

the good news is this flood seems to be the least severe of the three, so they’re getting better? i guess?

regardless it meant i spent yesterday dealing with flood stuff instead of WORKING AS I WAS SUPPOSED TO so i have now been up all night getting work done that needed to be done for today.

anyway i’m too tired to deal with proper capitalization right now. or maybe ever. also, if you see any extra t’s in my post it’s because that key is coming up on my keyboard and i have to periodically SQUISH ITS TINY HEAD.

so sunday was my very first author takeover! how exciting is that! if you missed it, that’s ok, i’m sure to do another one at some point. and if you really wanted in on the giveaways, no worries, i’ll do more of those too. (hey, if you really want to know about future book giveaways, become a member of Loony Nation! so important i capitalized it.)

anyway the takeover was a lot of fun and i had a lot of engagement on my posts, so that was very nice. made me feel like i was not completely failing at it, which my brain convinced me i was going to do in the lead up to it. because my brain hates me and wants me to suffer.

but it was a good event so my brain was wrong this time and haha, i bite my thumb at it. which is a very awkward position to get into.

so because of the flood i have now taken down my xmas trees and am in the process of putting away xmas stuff, which i suppose should make me feel like i have my life together but it really doesn’t. also, we found a box of books we didn’t know we owned and for a while i was very confused as to if they were even ours. it was a weird fucking combo of fantasy books (most of which were likely Mr Katje’s) and stuff like The Poisonwood Bible or a book on companion planting or stuff from Oprah’s book club. also The Hunger Games, and Fifty Shades 1 and 2.

i mean those last 2 also make sense because of my fifty shades of drinking video log that is on indefinite hiatus because of computer issues, mea culpa mea culpa, except that those copies were clean and not filled with notes in the marigins to the tune of FUCKING KILL ME ALREADY THIS BOOK IS CANCER, as does the hunger games because i actually like that series, but with the rest of the stuff thrown in it was such a fucking weird mess i was very doubtful they were ours, but MORE doubtful they belonged to the landlords.

when mr katje got home we figured it out; it was a box of stuff from his room that his mom had added a bunch of books she wanted to get rid of to. at least we think that’s the case. so now i have a stack of random books on our freezer that i need to find a place to put away. could be worse!

book writing and stuff

ok so one thing i really wanna say before my eyes completely crap out on me and i need to stumble into bed to put my monstrous machine over my face so i can not die in my sleep is that i am finally getting back to writing. it’s been like, a year and a half, and in that time i have not felt excited about my writing at all.

sometimes writers’ block is really depression.

but i’m finally excited again! i’ve been doing a lot of worldbuilding writing and plotting out of from the ashes, which is the sequel to stranger skies and book 2 in the borderlands saga overall. i am so excited to get back into this story, so thrilled to work on this series again. and that’s an amazing feeling when you’ve been spending a year and a half feeling like you’ll never be able to write again. i’ve even plotted out the book after from the ashes as well! (currently titled the moonrunner. except capitalized. don’t judge my laziness right now. writing is hard.)

i have some specific goals with this series which i’m not going to get into here/now, because it’s too soon, and anyway, newsletter subscribers hear it first. but i am going to be sharing my writing progress updates publically on facebook and google plus, so if you’re on those social media networks and you want to read about my getting words on the page, you should follow me! you should also subscribe to my newsletter, hint hint. i promise i won’t zerg rush your inbox.

i will also be posting writing update compilations here, ie, grabbing a week’s worth of fb/g+ posts and putting them in one post here, because some of the posts might be super small and i don’t want to make several small blog posts.

but yes, i’m going to be starting real work on From the Ashes again really soon and I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT IT YIPPEEEE.

ok 2 more updates and then bed

BELLICA IS FREE ON KINDLE. this took me like a year of work and one or two ritual sacrifices but it finally happened and kindle price-matched bellica to free. huzzah! so if you have friends who haven’t picked it up yet, or if you haven’t for some weird reason, go forth and download from the mighty Zon. (it’s also now available through Pronoun, which pushes books to big distributors a bit like Smashwords except i kind of like it more. sorry smashwords. i will still use you for the other distributors that pronoun doesn’t cover though!)

–expect to see a few posts go up here in the near future that were originally published on my medium account. i’m still going to be publishing stuff to medium, just also publishing it here when i do, and i hadn’t yet done that with the posts that are currently up.

 

ok i’m off to sleep

later fellow loons

-katje

My Dysfunctional Relationship with Library Books

I adore libraries. I love them so much. They are my happy place, and I have a not-so-secret but currently-impractical-as-fuck desire to be a librarian. (Impractical because, um, yeah, don’t have money to go back to school for a COMPLETELY NEW SET OF SKILLS.)

I love to go to the library and browse books. The shelves are full of possibility for me, even when the SFF section is severely lacking (as it often is, where I’ve lived — why would we have book ONE in a series anywhere in our system? MADNESS — here, have books #6-9, they’re much better. I jest, only partly). The library is about so much more than the tried and true SFF for me — it’s about exploration, finding something new.

Several somethings new.

Every time I go to the library for one book I invariably come home with a bag that is BULGING with them. My library book bag is a good size; it’s canvas, from the Questionable Content store on Topataco. It carries a good number of books — it carries the amount of books I will actually read in the time I have them out. Yet I always overfill it, sometimes carrying books in my arms, too.

At some point in my life, my reading skill went down. I used to be a fast reader with high comprehension. I am now a slow reader, with high comprehension only if I have enough energy — which is often not the case. I like to blame university for this change — you can often hear me lamenting that I used to be an avid reader before 10 years of academia broke me. That’s partially true; it took me a while to be emotionally ready to be a reader again.

I am emotionally ready now, and still my brain won’t cooperate.

Continue reading “My Dysfunctional Relationship with Library Books”

May ’13 Book Haul (or I Have an Infestation of Vashta Nerada Please Send HEY WHO TURNED OUT THE LIGHTS?)

Hey, it’s June! Holy fuck when did that happen.

Anyway, as I actually acquired new books last month I figured I’d share which ones I got with y’all, and how I plan to never ever read them. (I have too many books. Someday they will revolt. Either they will, or the alien flesh-eating beasties that live within their pages will.)

Book #1, May book haul #1
Book 1 — a knitting book!
Book #2, May book haul #1
Book 2 — another knitting book!

Tweed: More than 20 Contemporary Designs to Knit, by Nancy J. Thomas, and More Big Girl Knits, by Jillian Moreno & Amy R. Singer

Mom and I had to head to Oscar’s a while back and I found these two sitting in the discount bin. Each was 5 dollars, instead of 35. I had a little bit of extra money and I just couldn’t pass up an opportunity like that. So I got them, along with a journal. Because I have a problem. (No, seriously, I have several empty journals waiting for me to eventually get to them. I probably never will.)

I’m excited about the first one because I do love tweed, and the second one, well. Duh. The title is terrible but who cares? It’s not like we buy knitting books for their incredible titles.

May, 2013, book haul #2
Books 3 thru 17 — a bunch of fiction and one non.

An Echo in the Bone and Lord John and the Private Matter by Diana Gabaldon; Time and Chance by Kim Campbell; Trigger by Susan Vaught; The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan; The Help by Kathryn Stockett; The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo; Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen; In the Company of the Courtesan by Sarah Dunant; The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson; A Cup of Tea by Amy Ephron; The Edible Woman and The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood; River, Cross My Heart by Breena Clarke; and Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

This batch I scored from the book exchange upstairs. I didn’t leave any books this time, but I will next time I’m up there and I have a book or two to get rid of. (There are a lot of books up there, so I’m not too worried about even numbers. People are constantly adding to and taking from the collection.) Anyway, this means they were all free.

Two Margaret Atwood picks: The Blind Assassin and The Edible Woman. I’ve only read The Handmaid’s Tale and The Happy Zombie Sunrise Home (not finished yet; not sure if it’s even done) by her, and I didn’t have these yet. Someday I’ll read them! And the other Atwood books in my collection. Not sure what they are off the top of my head.

A couple of Diana Gabaldon books — Lord John and the Private Matter and An Echo in the Bone, though I can’t start the second one until I’ve read the rest of that series. Kim Campbell’s memoir — not sure if I’ll ever actually read it, but she is my godmother so I figured I sort of had to have a copy of her memoir.

The copy of Trigger that I picked up is an ARC. It’s YA, about a kid who tries to kill himself. So I’m interested. The Joy Luck Club, The Help, Water for Elephants, and Like Water for Chocolate are all within the category of “everyone keeps saying I should read this, so I guess I will eventually,” and they were free and there and so I said Hey, why not?

As for the rest of them, they just sort of caught my eye. Expect reviews whenever I get to them. (Going to try to get better about reviewing stuff, here and at Goodreads.)

I’m also going to do a book haul post at the beginning of every month, about the books I got in the previous month. No books acquired? No post.

Happy reading!

-Kat

30 in 30: Day 30 (my “Currently Reading” list is never limited to *one* book)

Cover of "The Magical Household: Spells &...
Cover via Amazon

What book are you reading right now?

I have three books that I’m currently reading. I have to read more than one at a time — usually a mix of fiction and non-fiction. Once I really get into a fiction book, I’ll stop reading the other fiction ones, but continue slowly going through the non-fiction.

So, as I just finished La Chiripa (which is fracking amazing, by the way — when it’s out in stores in October you have to pick up a copy; it’s just so incredible, and this is coming from someone who doesn’t usually like fiction set in the here and now — ie, non-speculative fiction), my current fiction book is Jane Eyre. I actually started reading this a while ago, and put it down, and put a bunch of stuff down on top of it, and forgot I was reading it…I do that a lot. This is also why I need to read several books at a time. However, I’m diving back into it now that LC is done.

My non-fiction books are currently Chop Wood, Carry Water, by Rick Fields, and The Magical Household by Scott Cunningham.

After that (or during) I’m moving onto the books listed here. Especially A Lion Among Men, as I’ve borrowed that from a friend and should return it soon.

30 in 30: Day 29 (in which I talk about Harry Potter some more, but don’t worry I SWEAR it’s the LAST time…for NOW.)

Teenage Severus Snape (Alec Hopkins) in Harry ...
Image via Wikipedia

Saddest character death OR best/most satisfying character death (or both!)

I realise I’ve been talking a lot about Harry Potter in the past few weeks, but you’ll have to bear with me as I do so again with this particular topic. Warning, thar be spoilers ahead. (Major fucking spoilers for the last book/movie, so if you haven’t read or seen it by now DO NOT READ THIS POST.)

The Harry Potter series is full of character deaths. Perhaps not so many as other fantasy series, but a fair whack. They’re all written well enough to bring at least a tear to the reader’s eye — who didn’t choke a bit at Cedric Diggory’s death (especially in the film, with Amos screaming in anguish “That’s my boy!”), or sob like crazy when Sirius went beyond the veil in the Department of Mysteries? These characters were unequivocally seen as good guys, so their deaths hurt.

Not as much, however, as Snape’s death in the final book.

Many of you didn’t trust Snape after the ending of Half-Blood Prince, which I suppose is understandable — myself, I always trusted him, and knew the reasons behind his actions would be revealed and he would be good at heart. I was pleased to see myself vindicated, even as I cried out every drop of moisture my body possessed.

In Snape’s final moments, he gives Harry all his memories, and in a single chapter JK Rowling tells a devastating love story: that of Snape’s hopeless passion for Lily, how every action on his part was to protect her only child. She shows Snape’s pain in following Dumbledore’s orders to the very last — to have to kill the only man who had granted him his trust, his only real friend. And his refusal to accept that Harry Potter’s fate is to die — that they’ve been raising the child like a pig for slaughter, that soon all that remains of Lily in the world will be snuffed out, extinguished like a candle not allowed to burn out its full life.

Had Snape not been bitten by Nagini, had he not died giving Harry his memories, we never would have known all this. He never would have been vindicated. Harry would never know the truth — that Snape had grown fond of him, had grown to view him like the son he never had.

And so it is that Snape’s death is not only the saddest I can think of, but also the most satisfying — it’s only in death that he is redeemed, only in death do we see the true Severus.

And only in death do we get that ridiculous fucking name for Harry’s kid.

This is what makes Severus’ death so truly poignant and heartbreaking. It is not until all sides of the story are known that we can see true goodness, brought about by nearly impossible choices.

30 in 30: Day 28 (hate mail in 3, 2, 1…)

Great Western Railway Hall Class, no. 5972 &qu...
Image via Wikipedia

First favorite book or series obsession

This one is easy. When I was young, perhaps just before my first year of high school, my mom flung a book at my head and I started to read. As I’ve written about here before, that book and its sequels changed my life.

Harry Potter was my first series obsession. Which, I mean, is weird, because usually I’m pretty damn scary when I obsess over things, but I was less so with Harry Potter. Perhaps I just didn’t feel the need to go all bugfuck nuts in my expression of joy with each new page, or perhaps this was an obsession where I could actually see the flaws of my object of affection. Whatever the reason, my obsession with Harry Potter was mild by my standards.

This does not make it any less an obsession, for Harry Potter is and continues to be a central key to how I interact with the world, how I see things, and how I grow. Dumbledore’s words of wisdom reached more ears than just Harry’s, I can tell you that.

In fact, you could say my obsession got bigger as time went on — the more adult I became, the more engrossed in the world of Hogwarts I became, clinging to a world I didn’t want to graduate.

Well, graduation’s over, and I’m ready to face the world head-on. I should hope so, for I’m 25 now and if I’m not ready at this age, I never will be. The lessons I learned at Hogwarts will help me with that — I have an arsenal of spells at my disposal, courage and luck guiding my hand, and friendship to keep me strong.

And eternal fucking gratitude that it was not a bugfuck obsession with Twilight that shaped my adolescence, because otherwise I’d be wailing about how I need a boyfriend to continue to live (I can tell you that if I were a twihard, my boyfriend would not be with me — thank the gods for that; it shows he has strength of character) and probably still living in my mother’s house, provided she hadn’t killed and eaten her own young by this point.

30 in 30: Day 27 (in which I shamelessly plug my own writing, but I’m entitled as it’s my fracking birthday)

Cover of "Snow Queen"
Cover of Snow Queen

If a book contains ______, you will always read it (and a book or books that contain it)!

This is honestly a very tough question. It’s hard to think of a single thing that will always make me read something; I could say strong female lead characters, but that’s not true — there are books that I refuse to read containing that quality.

I suppose something I am truly a sucker for is a sense of myth in the story. Kushiel’s Legacy is a very good example of this; not only is there a very rich backdrop to the story, filled with different cultures and myths based loosely on ones from Earth, but the story of Phedre and Joscelin has its own mythic quality — these characters are true heroes on the hero’s journey, and their deeds will be talked about in centuries to come.

Other examples of this mythic quality, not limited to books:

  • True Grit (the recent one)
  • Battlestar Galactica
  • The Fifth Sacred Thing
  • Lord of the Rings (though, I will admit, I did not finish reading the books — it’s the films I have a true love for)
  • Harry Potter
  • Green Grass, Running Water (by Thomas King)
  • The Tir Alainn Trilogy by Anne Bishop
  • The Black Jewels Trilogy (same)
  • The Snow Queen, by Joan D. Vinge
  • anything by Ursula K. LeGuin, the First Lady of Fantasy
  • Bellica, by Katje van Loon (why shouldn’t I shamelessly plug my own awesome stories, I ask you)

It’s the sense of myth that truly gets my heart racing, that makes me cry for the characters (yes, including my own), that wraps me up so completely in the story that when it’s over I am bereft for having lost a part of myself.

However, that’s the beauty of myths — once I am done mourning, I can read or watch and experience them again, and allow myself to fall in love many times with the same, heart-rending story.

30 in 30: Day 26 (please don’t do this, future authors)

I Have Stuck With Harry Until the Very End
Image by Thalita Carvalho ϟ via Flickr

OMG WTF? OR most irritating/awful/annoying book ending

The Epilogue, Harry Potter.

JK Rowling said (somewhere; I don’t have a quote) she wrote the epilogue before she wrote the rest of the series.

It shows.

The ending of the book was really satisfying. And then you read “Nineteen years later…” and your entire evening is ruined. It’s so trite, so contrived, so fanfic-ish — wait, that’s unfair to fanfic writers, because I’m pretty sure most of them could have written a much better epilogue.

Where was the rebuilding of the Wizard World after the fall of Voldemort? Where was the extreme PTSD the Golden Trio must be suffering? Where was the real, gritty storyline?

Instead we get ALBUS SEVERUS ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME.

It was such a disservice to the characters, to just make everything happily ever after and so normal. After an adolescence like that, Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s lives would never be any sort of normal again.

Give me an epilogue where Harry has a drinking problem and Hermione doesn’t read anymore, where Ron is suddenly responsible because his wife has gone off the deep end and someone has got to keep things together. Neville is a chronic pot smoker because herbology has to come in handy in some way, Ginny has said “fuck you” to Harry’s bullshit but we all know she flies Quidditch that hard so she can forget everything, being dangerous on the field because it’s much better than trying to take care of herself — how can she, when her family members and friends are dead?

That’s much more believable.

(Don’t get me wrong, I love the series and it means a lot to me. But I wouldn’t be a real fan if I couldn’t look at its flaws and talk about them without evasion.)

30 in 30: Day 25 (you seriously don’t want to know how big my “to read” list is)

Her white robes flowing: Kannon, the Bodhisatt...
Image via Wikipedia

Any five books from your “to be read” stack

  1. Doing a Literature Review: Releasing the Social Science Research Imagination, by Dr. Christopher Hart
  2. The Goddess Path: Myths, Invocations, and Rituals, by Patricia Monaghan
  3. Bodhisattva of Compassion, by John Blofeld
  4. A Lion Among Men, by Gregory Maguire
  5. The Pagan Book of Living and Dying: Practical Rituals, Prayers, Blessings, and Meditations on Crossing Over, by Starhawk

30 in 30: Day 24 (A quote? how the hells am I supposed to choose just ONE?)

Coat of arms of Hogwarts, the fictional school...
Image via Wikipedia

Best quote from a novel

Oh my goddess, we have so many contenders for this post. I simply can’t list just one, unless I wanted to be funny. Contrary to my usual nature, I wish to share quotes that actually mean something to me.

So, from the very talented Jacqueline Carey and her quite astounding literary masterpiece, Kushiel‘s Legacy, my favourite quotes from the Phedre Trilogy.

We are all of these things […]. Pride, desire, compassion, cleverness, belligerence, fruitfulness, loyalty…and guilt. But above it all stands love. And if we desire to be more than human, that is the star by which we must set our sights.

Kushiel’s Avatar

We pay for sins we do not remember, and seek to do a will we can scarce fathom. That is what it is, to be a god’s chosen.

Kushiel’s Avatar

It’s the same questions we ask of our existence, and the answer is always the same. The mystery lies not in the question nor the answer, but in the asking and answering themselves, over and over again, and the end is engendered in the beginning.

Kushiel’s Avatar

All knowledge is worth having.

Kushiel’s Dart

That which yields is not always weak.

Kushiel’s Dart

See what I mean when I say I can’t just choose one?

And I’m not even finished!

Continue reading “30 in 30: Day 24 (A quote? how the hells am I supposed to choose just ONE?)”