I wrote a thing…

…and somebody published that thing!

Ship of Fools” is up today at Unlikely Story in the Journal of Unlikely Observances. It’s about first crushes, celebrations, and the last artifacts left in a drowning world.  I like it a lot and I hope you all do to. And check out the rest of the amazing table of contents as well!

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I wrote a thing…

…and somebody published that thing!

My story “Bone Man and the Sleeping Kings” is in the second volume of Bards and Sages’ Great Tomes series, The Great Tome of Darkest Horrors and Unspeakable Evils. I don’t know about unspeakably evil, but is probably as close as I’ve ever gotten to writing an adventure story. And there are Mesoamerican-style mummies. Who fly. So, if that floats your boat, go on and give it a look. I had fun writing this and I hope you all like it:)

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June 2016 Check In

 

Yes, I’m still alive. It’s almost-not-quite halfway through 2016 (yikes!), so I thought it would be a good time for me to take a look at what I’ve been reading.

My twofold goals for this year were to read 100% women  and 25% nonfiction. So let’s see where we’re at.

So far this year, I’ve finished 48 books, along with 14 novellas and literary magazines (I read more stories online, but I do not keep strict track of them). When you discount short stories, I have read 100% women authors. (I’m discounting short stories because I read a lot of them, and I’m not going to trawl through bylines weeding out the cismen. I have better things to do with my time.)

This goal hasn’t been very hard to stick to. I was already women-biased in my reading. But I’m still quite proud I’ve done it, because it means putting out books I’ve been diligently waiting for, like The City of Mirrors. It means new books piling up on my TBR. It means I haven’t even read the Hamiltome. (gasp!) There are more male-authored books on my radar than I thought their would be, honestly, but they’ll still be there in 2017. For now I’m quite happy to continue reading only women.

My goal for nonfiction was to be at 25%. Right now I’m actually only at 14.5%. It’s a lot harder to consistently read nonfiction every month than I thought it would be. Most of the nonfiction I’ve read I haven’t actually liked all the much, which has also kept me from pursing it more faithfully. My standout favorite has been Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell. I’ve read books on Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Hatshepsut, Catherine de Medici, and more, but while interesting none of them have quite grabbed me. I’ll be happy if, by the end of 2016, that 14.5% is bumped up to 20%.

Now I have to admit one of my big failures this year: reading diversely. WOC so far make up only 10.4% of my full-length reads. Now this is partially because I’ve burned through the back catalogs of certain authors (*cough* KJ Charles *cough*) but only partially. I need to be better. While I have books by NK Jemisin, Nnedi Okorafor, and Jhumpa Lahiri on tap, even if I read them all tomorrow I wouldn’t be close to parity. I need to be better.  So recommend your favorite WOC authors to me. 25% seems like a decent ratio, if a lofty goal based on where I’m at right now.

Last year by this time, I had read 60 books. Obviously 48 is a bit of a drop off, but I actually feel good about that. I’m trying to focus on my writing a lot more, and I’ve also been trying to burn through the books I already own. I haven’t bought a (physical) book since December. That is huge for me. (ebooks are another story, but I’m clearing through them as well.) Focusing on what I own means I’m missing all of the “hot new” things, but I long ago stopped feeling guilty for not keeping up with the trends.

Most of my reading this year has fallen to fluff. Maybe that’s not so surprising. The world right now, frankly, sucks. Mostly I just want to read about pretty people bantering with each other and then making out. That’s okay, too. I banished “guilty pleasure” from my vocabulary years ago.

Here are 6 of my favorite books  (+ 1 novella) so far in 2016:

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Sarah Vowell- Lafayette in the Somewhat United States (read on audio, which I highly recommend)

Maggie Mitchell- Pretty Is (a twisty metafictional debut thriller)

Jhumpa Lahiri- The Lowland (guys I finally read The Lowland I’ve been promising to do that since I started this blog, it’s a miracle)

Lily King- Euphoria (insanely, heartbreakingly beautiful)

Courtney Milan- Her Every Wish (the hero of this novella is a multi-racial, bisexual bicycle salesman. It. Is. Glorious. And there are more puns about “velocipedes” (aka bicycles) than I ever would have thought possible. My only complaint is that this is a novella, because I thought the character pairing was stronger and more interesting than the one novel Milan has published in this series.)

Roan Parrish- In the Middle of Somewhere (sooooo angsty, but it’s also a really sweet love story)

KJ Charles- Think of England (and the Society of Gentleman series. and the Charm of Magpies side books. Basically, I see KJ Charles’ name now, and I click so fast I get whiplash, and I love them all. But Think of England is so good.)

Well that’s it, folks. This erstwhile blogger has been trying to keep herself busy and out of trouble. See any books here that you like? Anything I have to read right now? And who are your favorite WOC authors? Let me know!

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I wrote a thing…

…and you can Kickstart that thing!

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I am really, really excited to be included in a new anthology from Alliteration Ink. It’s called No Shit, There I Was…, and it’s live on Kickstarter right now. There are 24 awesome speculative fiction stories from 24 awesome writers in this project. So hop on over to Kickstarter and check it out. And please feel free to share it with your friends.

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Reading Groups

Hi guys. Wonder of wonders, I was inspired to make a new post! About books. Didn’t think that was going to happen.

[The title of this topic may change if I decide to do it again, but right now Reading Groups is the cleverest thing I can come up with.]

I go through my TBR pile by feel, whatever interests me at a given moment. But I’ve noticed that sometimes, my reading starts to follow patterns. Over a short period I may read a lot of books with a connection to Ancient Rome, or about first contact with space aliens, or about women scientists, or what have you. I may not read them one after another, but so many times I’ve found that books I’ve been reading connect in obvious and unexpected ways.

So I thought it would put together some of these groups, as a mini curriculum of sorts. Which brings me to what I’ve been reading so far in 2016.

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Mansfield Park > Of Noble Family >Belle: The Slave Daughter and the Lord Chief Justice

All three of these books revolve around race, slavery, and the sugar trade in Regency/Georgian England.

In Mansfield Park, it can be easy to ignore underneath all the tea parties and plays. But Austen was a sharp social commentator, and she does make several overt references to the slave trade. The wealth that allows Mansfield Park to even exist was built on the backs of slaves, as Sir Thomas is an absentee sugar baron who is forced to go back to Antigua to deal with an uprising.

Mary Robinette Kowal’s Glamourist Histories are each based more or less on different Austen novels, and it’s clear to me that Of Noble Family owes a lot to Mansfield Park.  But because this is the twenty first century, and because Kowal is Kowal, she dives right in to uncomfortable topics instead of shying away from them. In Of Noble Family,  Jane and Vincent travel to Antigua to deal with Vincent’s father’s estate, and they come face to face with the dark realities of slavery. Jane faces some of her own prejudices, and learns that the slaves have different ways of working with glamour.  There are mixed-race “house servants,” conning and cruel plantation overseers, and tensions coming to a boil from all sides.

Belle: The Slave Daughter and the Lord Chief Justice, is the story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the real life mixed-race daughter of an English naval captain who was raised alongside her cousin in the house of her great uncle, the Lord Chief Justice. There is very, very little actual documentary evidence of Dido’s existence. She was often erased from the narrative even when she was plainly there. (For a long time she was assumed to be a servant, even when there was direct evidence that she had been raised as an adopted daughter.) But Paula Byrne works with what’s available, and manages to craft a compelling and easily readable social history about how black people existed in Georgian England. (And while I really enjoy the movie Belle, it did not surprise me to learn that, especially in the romantic elements, it was almost entirely fiction.)

These books all feed into each other. In Belle, Byrne even adds a codicil about Austen, who most certainly met Dido’s cousin (she wrote about her), and may even  have met Dido herself.

We tend to have this weird idea that people of color barely existed  eighteenth century England, and that when they did they were highly segregated and most white people would never have seen them. That slavery was hidden across the ocean, and most people never gave it a second thought. That is patently untrue, but it’s an idea that holds on, even in the face of direct evidence. While we won’t ever know if Jane Austen knew Dido Elizabeth Belle, she almost certainly knew of her, and it’s interesting to think if that played any part in the inspiration for Mansfield Park.

What do you think? Interested in more of my informal book groupings?

 

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I wrote a(nother) thing!

So, I didn’t expect this to come so soon on the heels of my last post, but I had a flash piece today up at Daily Science Fiction. It’s called “You’re Doing the Best You Can” and you can read it right here if you so desire.

Lest you think I am suddenly prolific: this is definitely an aberration. I’ve never had two pieces out in one month before, and I don’t really expect it to happen again.

And hello to my new followers. I’m still sort of on hiatus, but who knows? I may be inspired to write a bookish post or review sort of soon.

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I wrote a thing…

…and somebody published that thing!

So I’m gonna jump out of hibernation for a sec to tell you all about it.

This month I’m in Apex Magazine with a poem, “Arrythmia,” which you can read right here. (Surprising no one, it’s about hearts.) I hadn’t written poetry for like ten years until one night I couldn’t sleep, and I did. It still kind of freaks me out that somebody liked it enough to publish it. Anyway, I hope you all enjoy it.

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Taking a break

I’ve been doing this blog thing for about three years, now, and it’s time to admit that I’m getting a little burned out. I just don’t look forward to it the way I used to, and I feel like somewhere along the line I ran out of new things to say. 2016 has a lot of changes in store for me. So, at least for the time being, The Bastard Title is going on hiatus.

What will I do with all my free time?

Well, for starters, I’ll get to meet my brand new niece or nephew soon.

(no, seriously. I have no idea.)

(no, seriously. I have no idea.)

Maybe I’ll finally learn to dance.

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I’m going to continue the never-ending quest to get healthier.

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I might move to a new, exciting/terrifying place.

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But one thing’s for sure. I’ll still be reading way too much for my own good.

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So we’ll see. Maybe I’ll miss this and pop back in once in a while. Maybe not. But in any case, thank you all for your comments and your friendship and for loving books and being amazing people. Happy new year!

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2015 End Of Year Book Survey

This is a bit of a weird end to a weird year for me. I’m having my Christmas in January, so for now I’m just sitting at home enjoying my days off alone and watching lots of Breaking Bad.

*cue “All Alone on Christmas“*

*turn it off and go watch more methheads and murders*

It’s a new Christmas tradition!

Ahem. Anyway. I figured it would be a great time-filler to do this End-of-Year survey compiled by The Perpetual Page Turner. Settle in, it’s a long one.

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Number Of Books You Read: 129 [probably still time for 2 more.]
Number of Re-Reads: 3 [possibly 4. A Discworld I read felt vaguely familiar but if I’d read it already it was before I tracked my books.]
Genre You Read The Most From: Um…all of them? Fairly evenly split between nonfiction, fantasy, sci fi, romance, historical fiction, YA.

 

best-YA-books-2014

128752581. Best Book You Read In 2015?

My initial list was like 40 books long. Then it was 16. But, I guess, feet to the fire, it would have to be Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt.

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

A Study in Death by Anna Lee Huber. Don’t get me wrong, I love this series, and I’m still looking forward to more. But somehow this installment fell flat.

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  

In general I was surprised whenever I read erotica that turned out to have much better literary merit than would tend to expect. There were a couple of really surprising ones where the writing felt as good or better as most “literary” books I’ve read. In particular, I’ve gotta mention Scrap Metal by Harper Fox. Got a little soap-opera at the end, but a surprisingly well crafted story about building a home and a family in a place where you aren’t expecting it.

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

Um, I feel like I push any book I love but I think what I’m most proud of is getting my best friend to read NK Jemisin’s Dreamblood duology.

 5. Best series you started in 2015? Best Sequel of 2015? Best Series Ender of 2015?

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Series starter- The Magpie Lord by KJ Charles. These books are so much fun, I never want them to end but I keep vacuuming through them anyway.

Sequel- A Week To Be Wicked by Tessa Dare. Reading the first Spindle Cove book, I kept getting sidetracked because I thought the sequelbait couple was more interesting. I want to read that book, I said. And I did and man did it deliver.

Series ender- Police by Jo Nesbo. I…don’t actually know if this is the end of the Harry Hole series? He sets it up pretty hard for an eleventh book. But it’s the only thing on my list that might remotely qualify.

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2015?

In terms of most books read to date, let’s say Max Gladstone. I met a lot of great new authors this year, but most of them I’ve only gotten around to once so far.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

22554204Lumberjanes vols. 1 & 2

I’m not a big comics reader. But given my job a lot of them have come across my desk this year, so I started to check them out. I’ve read The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl and Spider-Gwen and Ms. Marvel and Captain Marvel (are we sensing a theme here on what I am likely to pick up…), and I was also blown away by Bitch Planet even though it’s not really my aesthetic. But Lumberjanes is where it’s at. So much fun. I already loved Noelle Stevenson’s style (although, oddly enough, not really into her famous Nimona that much.) Lumberjanes takes it friendship to the max and its cute and funny and exciting and nostalgia-driven all at once.

(btw, none of these comics collections were included in my reading total. I’m still not sure how to categorize comics or all the sort stories I read over the course of a year.)

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

I read both KJ Charles’ The Magpie Lord and A Case of Possession in single sittings. That is not a thing that I ever do.

 9. Book You Read In 2015 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

Rainbow Rowell- Carry On. I kind of rushed through it and, anyway, I’m thinking of doing a full backlist reread of Rainbow Rowell in 2016.

2031246210. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2015?

Jackaby by William Ritter. Damn.

11. Most memorable character of 2015?

Hmmm….Baz from Carry On? Yeah, Baz. I love you, Baz.

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2015?

Say it with me, now. Tell. The. Wolves. I’m. Home.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2015?

Tell The Wolves I’m Home. I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record here, but oh well. Maybe not so much life changing as life affirming.

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2015 to finally read? 

E.M. Forster- Howards End. Honestly most of my reading this year had not been on my TBR for a spectacularly long time or anything. This is a classic I should have gotten to earlier, though.

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2015?

I’m not a big quoter. Actually I kind of think that people who live by ‘inspirational quotes’ like the kind that end up as FB memes are pretty awful in general? It just bugs me and seems so shallow.

That being said:

“I really wondered why people were always doing what they didn’t like doing. It seemed like life was a sort of narrowing tunnel. Right when you were born, the tunnel was huge. You could be anything. Then, like, the absolute second after you were born, the tunnel narrowed down to about half that size. You were a boy, and already it was certain you wouldn’t be a mother and it was likely you wouldn’t become a manicurist or a kindergarten teacher. Then you started to grow up and everything you did closed the tunnel in some more. You broke your arm climbing a tree and you ruled out being a baseball pitcher. You failed every math test you ever took and you canceled any hope of ever being a scientist. Like that. On and on through the years until you were stuck. You’d become a baker or a librarian or a bartender. Or an accountant. And there you were. I figured that on the day you died, the tunnel would be so narrow, you’d have squeezed yourself in with so many choices, that you just got squashed.”
Tell The Wolves I’m Home

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2015?

Shortest: Jagannath by Karin Tidbeck. Longest: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

(Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)

Police by Jo Nesbo. I thought I was over his ability to shock me. I thought I had been desensitized to the fact that he routinely kills off my favorite characters in ways more gruesome than even George R. R. Martin. I thought a certain character was untouchable.

Reader, they were not. My face:

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18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

Simon and Baaaaaaaaaaaz.

No, no. Wait. Simon and Blue. (sidenote: why are there so many gay boys in books named Simon, anyway?)

Or. Wait. Alexander and Bagoas. (history otp).

Or my newest loves Lucien Vaudrey and Stephen Day.

Guys. I swear I do read about straight people sometimes. They just don’t inspire all my otp flailings, I guess.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Maddie and Julie, Code Name Verity. I’m still crying.

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20. Favorite Book You Read in 2015 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

 Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years Of Pilgrimage- Haruki Murakami. Hadn’t read Murakami in a while so I liked delving back into his style.

21. Best Book You Read In 2015 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

Hmm. I read Theresa Romain’s Secrets of A Scandalous Heiress solely based on a review and a recommendation from someone whom I asked for interracial historical titles. (The hero is 1/4 Indian which is…ok, looked at today would be judged pretty white, but in a historical setting had some interesting things to say about race and class.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2015?

Tyrannus. Basilton. Pitch. (Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaz.)

Oh and Winter Makepeace. *fans self*

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23. Best 2015 debut you read?

I’m not sure I read any 2015 debuts, except The Girl On the Train which was…okay. Overhyped.

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence world is one of the cooler fantasy settings I’ve visited in a while.

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Right now, KJ Charles’ A Charm of Magpies books are making me laugh more than any books have a right to.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2015?

Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein had me weeping uncontrollably.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

Hot Head by Damon Suede was supposed to just be a fun romp about fire fighters falling for each other…and instead it brought me all the feels.  Annnnd…I may have already read it twice. (not sorry.)

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

Wilkie Collins- The Moonstone because it certainly felt like the longest book I read even if it wasn’t.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2015?

Charlotte Gordon- Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Live of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley. This book had a really interesting structure that took some getting used to but was ultimately fascinating.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood. Greenwood uses the lazy and highly offensive trope of asexuality = evil. I almost burned something down.

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book-blogging

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2015?

I abstain. I love you all.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2015?

I feel like, for a book review blog, I have not been doing all that much reviewing. But I guess maybe this one?

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

Had a lot of fun doing the Max Gladstone readalongs.

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

I really enjoyed participating in Austen in August a lot.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2015?

Um…?

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

Keeping motivated.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

My short story Sunday posts always get the most views, although I guess they’re mostly spam. *shruggy guy*

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

Any of my reviews. Really, any of them. They were the reason I wanted to write this blog to begin with and I feel like no one even looks at them. Which leads me to writing less of them. Which just keeps the cycle going.

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

I’m not sure that I made any.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I didn’t formally set out any challenges, but one of my goals was to read at least one book of nonfiction a month, and I generally wanted to focus on reading more diverse authors and characters. I read 13 nonfiction books in all, and I think I did an ok job on the diversity front.

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1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2015 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2016?

Three, because I’ve been a bad TBR reader and these will be the three I tackle first in January:

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The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin, Of Noble Family by Mary Robinette Kowal, Winter by Marissa Meyer

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2016 (non-debut)?

At the moment, the YA historical anthology A Tyranny of Petticoats. It just looks so good.

3. 2016 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

I…don’t know any debuts that are coming out *fail*

 4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2016?

City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin. I won’t be able to read it until 2017, unfortunately [see below], but damn. It is time. I have been waiting for this book so long.

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2016?

So, 2016 is officially my year of No Boys Allowed. Female-identifying authors only. A little experiment, and something I’ve wanted to do for a while.

I’m also hoping to up my nonfiction ratio to a full 25%. (right now, it’s hovering around 10%)

6. A 2016 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:

I have not read any 2016 releases. I have not read any ARCs in what feels like a very long time.

 

If you got through all that: have a cookie!

Ok…I don’t have any cookies. Have a good holiday if you celebrate, and a good day in general even if you don’t, how about that?

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Short Story Sunday: “Find Me”

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First line: “Roger came back in the middle of Christmas break, when Chas had two essays due and a soon-to-be-full house to deal with, and was struggling not to sleep more than ten hours every day.”

Find Me” by Isabel Yap, published by Apex Magazine.

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