Top Ten Tues: Short Shorts

Top Ten Tuesdays, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, feature lists related to all things bookish–characters, authors, titles, and favorites. They’re an excellent way to find new interesting books on a variety of topics, and to find bloggers that love the books you do.

Check out their blog for their top ten and lists by other bloggers!

July 17: Favorite Novellas/Short Stories.

Alphabetical as always.

1. Magic Steals; Ilona Andrews. Vegetarian tiger shape shifter Dali is one of my favorites.

2. Rough Justice; Kelly Armstrong. A little snippet after the final book in the Cainsville series, which shows you how the characters are coping with their choices.

3. The Uncommon Reader; Alan Bennett. Cute and lighthearted. Sometimes you need that.

4. “A Scandal in Bohemia:” Arthur Conan Doyle. While some of the ways Irene Adler has been re-imagined are quite cool, I’ll always admire the original.

5. “Jury Duty;” Jim Butcher. Harry Dresden, wizard, can make anything exciting, and not always in a good way.

6. How the Marquis Got His Coat Back; Neil Gaiman. A great little in between story about a character from Neverwhere.

7. We Have Always Lived in the Castle; Shirley Jackson. A great subtly creepy story that gets more tense, but never too tense.

8. “Sun in Glory:” Mercedes Lackey. A part of the Heralds of Valdemar series, about a character I really enjoy.

9. “No Sooner Met;” Seanan McGuire. I’m a sucker for romance, even when it comes with a first date *and* an assassination attempt.

10. Bartleby the Scrivener; Herman Melville. I suspect 90% off my fondness comes from my using “I prefer not to” whenever possible, but still.

 

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Weekend Writing Warriors: 7/14

This 8-10 sentence blog hop is hosted by The Weekend Writing Warriors. (Click the link for the list of participants, or rules if you want to join!)

Here’s the start of a new WIP–working title “Discovering Gremlins. Seth had a bad day at work–hit his head and saw a monster, which he dismissed as his imagination. That night, a shadow follows him home, and his microwave catches fire–in the morning, he breaks his phone, his shower sprays water everywhere, and the subway car he’s on lurches and makes an ugly noise.

Previous snippet: “My water’s busted,” Seth said, “it’s spraying everywhere.”

The maintenance guy swore, and hurried down the hallway. Since he had a key, Seth simply trailed after, and disappeared into his room to finish getting ready for the day over the sounds of clanking and vicious muttering.

He hurried out the door and down the street with what should have been eight minutes to spare, and instead had to run and jump through the closing doors, the car inexplicably early, instead of its usual tardiness.

All the seats were full, so he grabbed a strap and consigned himself to the minor discomfort of standing the whole ride. He listened to a podcast, letting it shut out the world, until he could escape the stifling metal box onto the streets. About halfway through the trip, the car lurched, and emitted a grinding metallic screech that cut through the words cushioning him from reality.

Seth blinked, tapping the pause icon on his cracked screen.

Everyone else was looking around, many with earbuds in their hands, so he hadn’t imagined the noise. He waited, and when nothing happened for a good long moment, he restarted the podcast.

 

 

 

weekend_writing_warriorsveteransbadge

Just as Seth was sinking back into the flow of words, the screech and lurch repeated. The lurch shook the car hard enough that Seth toppled onto the lap of the guy sitting behind him. He pushed himself up quickly, muttering apologies, while around him other people regained their footing or grabbed for spilled briefcases.

And then the lights went out, and the car slammed to a halt in a symphony of screeching brakes. The crowd let out a collective, and heartfelt groan.

A few moments later, weak emergency lights flickered to life, emphasizing the shadows without really casting out the darkness.

“Pardon *static* -ruption, folks,” a voice blared from the speakers. “Ser- *static* will resume *static* -teen minutes or less.”

Seth was more than an hour late for work.

*    *    *

Gremlins have camouflage magic, and a way of making people who catch just a glimpse forget them. This is good for humanity, because they’re powerfully ugly, and react violently to being discovered. But when Seth hits his head and lands on the floor right next to a gremlin, he sees it… and it notices that he’s done so. Things are about to go downhill for Seth.

Story Snippet: Attack at Dawn

I joined a writing group for the first time last week. The prompt for this snippet was “children.”

Image in the public domain. From WikiMedia, by Sarang.

*  *  *

The children attacked at dawn. The town expected—dreaded—an early assault, as the children were often awake before the sun rose completely, shrieking and sharpening their spears for blood. So two lookouts protected the populace.

The east tower faced the caves where the children lived, surrounded by piles of broken toys and the gnawed-clean bones of their victims. Often the children could be spotted prowling around, wrapped in rags to protect their skin, hair filthy and hacked short. The west tower faced the forest, blighted from some attack from the Before People. The trees grew gnarled and twisted, half dead, branches clawing toward the sunlight. Coyotes lurked in the meager shade, and denned in the tangled branches.

The lookout in the east tower spotted the mob first, pouring out of their caves, screaming and brandishing spears and bludgeons. Quickly, the lookout blew the warning horn, two long, deep blasts, to warn of the coming danger.

Shutters and doors slammed as the noncombatants barricaded themselves inside their homes, hastily abandoning morning chores. The sound of fear, hollow thuds, was punctuated with the lighter drum of running feet as every able body rushed to the defenses. Each person had their part. No gaps could be left, without dire consequences.

And then the lookout to the west blew their horn—a brighter tenor, in two long notes. The children had learned misdirection.

Everyone defended the far side, facing down invaders—looking death in its small, chubby cheeked face, with snarls of hair haloing angry eyes and sharp teeth. So the lone child met no resistance when they tossed a knotted rope over the barricade, a hook of rusted metal biting deep into the wood. They swarmed over the barricade with ease, and landed on the other side.

(To be continued)

Top Ten Tues: Best So Far 2018

Top Ten Tuesdays, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, feature lists related to all things bookish–characters, authors, titles, and favorites. They’re an excellent way to find new interesting books on a variety of topics, and to find bloggers that love the books you do.

Check out their blog for their top ten and lists by other bloggers!

July 10: Best Books I’ve Read In 2018 (So Far) (This prompt was originally going to be a TTT throwback, but I know how much people love the bi-annual top ten books of the year and I forgot to add it to the list! Feel free to do a throwback instead if you want!)

Goodreads make this easy for me, so here it is! Alphabetical, as usual.

1. Iron & Magic; Ilona Andrews. First book in a series, but part of the same world as another series I love. Explores a not-so-good, but honorable in his own way character.

2. Persepolis Rising; James Corey. The latest book in a sweeping sci fi epic.

3. Medusa Uploaded; Emily Devenport. The first in a series about a colony ship with serious class inequities.

4. Obsidio; Amie Kaufmann & Jay Kristoff. The last in a trilogy. Rogue A.I, Killer corporations, space ships–and really fun page set up.

5. Memories of Ash; Insitar Khanani. The second in a book with one of the coolest magic and world building I’ve seen in a while.

6. Beneath the Sugar Sky; Seanan McGuire. A school for the children who went through doors to fairy tale worlds–and want to go back.

7. Renegades; Marissa Meyer. Superhero. Supervillain. A story about the lines between.

8. Tempests & Slaughter; Tamora Pierce. Another new series within a world I love, in this case, a prequel.

9. Slam! vol 1; Pamela Ribon & Veronica Fish. Roller derby and friendship.

10. Prince and the Dressmaker; Jen Wang. So cute! And beautifully illustrated.

 

Weekend Writing Warriors: 7/7

~~~~~***I’ll be out of town for the Fourth weekend, but I will get to everyone I can***~~~~~

This 8-10 sentence blog hop is hosted by The Weekend Writing Warriors. (Click the link for the list of participants, or rules if you want to join!)

Here’s the start of a new WIP–working title “Discovering Gremlins. Seth had a bad day at work–hit his head and saw a monster, which he dismissed as his imagination. That night, a shadow follows him home, and his microwave catches fire–in the morning, he breaks his phone, and his shower sprays water everywhere.

Previous snippet: Deciding not to risk the microwave, he had a much less satisfying shake instead, then headed to the bathroom to shower. Setting the water to its hottest setting, which never got above lukewarm, he hummed as he lathered his body and hair. When he leaned back to rinse, the shower head rattled, and clunked to the floor, water spraying everywhere, suddenly ice cold.

He squealed like an offended hamster, and jumped back, flailing wildly with one hand for the tap, using the other to shield himself, futilely, from the frigid deluge.

Finally, the cold porcelain fell under his fingers, and he twisted. The water slowed, but didn’t stop. Venting his frustration with a few heartfelt epithets, he rinsed off in the cold spray, and made a few more unsuccessful attempts to stem the flow of water. He dried and dressed in the nearest clothes he could find on the floor, and hurried down to maintenance.

After he slammed his fist into the door a few times, it opened.

“What?” the maintenance guy blinked, “Hey, you’re all wet!”

 

 

 

weekend_writing_warriorsveteransbadge

“My water’s busted,” Seth said, “it’s spraying everywhere.”

The maintenance guy swore, and hurried down the hallway. Since he had a key, Seth simply trailed after, and disappeared into his room to finish getting ready for the day over the sounds of clanking and vicious muttering.

He hurried out the door and down the street with what should have been eight minutes to spare, and instead had to run and jump through the closing doors, the car inexplicably early, instead of its usual tardiness.

All the seats were full, so he grabbed a strap and consigned himself to the minor discomfort of standing the whole ride. He listened to a podcast, letting it shut out the world, until he could escape the stifling metal box onto the streets. About halfway through the trip, the car lurched, and emitted a grinding metallic screech that cut through the words cushioning him from reality.

Seth blinked, tapping the pause icon on his cracked screen.

Everyone else was looking around, many with earbuds in their hands, so he hadn’t imagined the noise. He waited, and when nothing happened for a good long moment, he restarted the podcast.

*    *    *

Gremlins have camouflage magic, and a way of making people who catch just a glimpse forget them. This is good for humanity, because they’re powerfully ugly, and react violently to being discovered. But when Seth hits his head and lands on the floor right next to a gremlin, he sees it… and it notices that he’s done so. Things are about to go downhill for Seth.

Top Ten Tues: Red White & Blue

Top Ten Tuesdays, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, feature lists related to all things bookish–characters, authors, titles, and favorites. They’re an excellent way to find new interesting books on a variety of topics, and to find bloggers that love the books you do.

Check out their blog for their top ten and lists by other bloggers!

July 3: Books with Red, White, & Blue Covers (In honor of the 4th of July in the USA. Choose covers with your own country’s colors if you prefer!)

I haven’t read any of these, so just enjoy the book covers! 🙂

                                                       

Book Riot Read Harder 2018: June

Here’s the new Book Riot Read Harder Challenge for 2018! There’s 24 prompts to encourage you to read harder, and I urge you to check it out if you want to get outside your comfort zone. It’s always great to see the new suggestions, and I’m still working on finding the perfect titles.

(Click the link to see the challenge, and to download a PDF of the challenge list.)

book riot

To quote the article: “We encourage you to push yourself, to take advantage of this challenge as a way to explore topics or formats or genres that you otherwise wouldn’t try. But this isn’t a test. […] We like books because they allow us to see the world from a new perspective, and sometimes we all need help to even know which perspectives to try.

  • Read a mystery by a POC/LGBT author.

Goldenboy; Michael Nava.

The protagonist is both a POC and a gay man.

Lawyer Henry Rios defends a gay young man accused of killing a coworker who threatened to out him. The evidence is against the defendant, but he swears he didn’t do it, and refuses to try to plea out.

It’s a fairly slender 208 pages, which means there’s not as much to the mystery as I’d like, and the reveal and wrap up felt rushed. This is due to two relationship-based subplots, one old and one new. Everything is tied up, but perhaps a little shortchanged in developing, with some things happening very fast. Still, the mystery is well constructed, there’s some clever twists, and it’s overall enjoyable.

  • Read a children’s classic from before 1980.

The Westing Game; Ian Raskin.

Labeled as children’s book on Goodreads. Published in 1978.

A group of people obliquely connected to a wealthy old man, gathered to find his killer and become his heir. But it soon becomes clear that most of them can’t be trusted. They jockey for clues, and make and break alliances, and commit a few petty crimes as they play the game.

A quirky mystery, with rather a lot of concealment and lies (some attempts more successful than others.) The characters are pretty strange, but a few are quite fun–even though many are caricatures. I  had a few chuckles now and then, either way. In the end, the mystery resolves, though as oddly as it unwinds throughout the story. The Westing game is difficult to win, after all.

  • Read a comic not from Marvel/DC/Image.

Misfit City; Kirsten Smith, Kurt Lustgarten, Naomi Franquiz.

Published by BOOM! Box.

Great adventures start with a treasure map. When a group of friends stumble on one, at first they think it’s a prank. But then people start hunting them down, and it’s clear the map must have some significance. The art is lovely, with lots of atmospheric frames. The plot is full of fast paced action, and wild chases, though the story is just started, so not very much happens.

Weekend Writing Warriors: 6/30

This 8-10 sentence blog hop is hosted by The Weekend Writing Warriors. (Click the link for the list of participants, or rules if you want to join!)

Here’s the start of a new WIP–working title “Discovering Gremlins. Seth had a bad day at work–hit his head and saw a monster, which he dismissed as his imagination. A shadow has followed him home. Maybe.

Previous snippet: Seth swore, and yanked the plug on the microwave. He opened the door, which made the fire rise eagerly with the fresh infusion of oxygen, used a metal spatula to deposit the dinner in the sink, then turned on the tap.

A few moments later, he stared glumly at the blackened and soggy brick of still-frozen pasta and meat.

A quick scoop with the spatula landed the mess in the trash, and he had a bowl of cereal instead, before slumping off to bed. Tomorrow would have to be better.

 

His alarm went off far too early, and he accidentally swiped his phone off the nightstand when he tried to silence it. Groaning, he picked it up, and turned it over to find a spider web of cracks across the screen.

“Great.” He set the phone down with exaggerated care, and shuffled to the kitchen. He had a breakfast sandwich in his hand when he noticed the burn marks and scorched plastic smell of the microwave.

 

 

weekend_writing_warriorsveteransbadge

Deciding not to risk the microwave, he had a much less satisfying shake instead, then headed to the bathroom to shower. Setting the water to its hottest setting, which never got above lukewarm, he hummed as he lathered his body and hair. When he leaned back to rinse, the shower head rattled, and clunked to the floor, water spraying everywhere, suddenly ice cold.

He squealed like an offended hamster, and jumped back, flailing wildly with one hand for the tap, using the other to shield himself, futilely, from the frigid deluge.

Finally, the cold porcelain fell under his fingers, and he twisted. The water slowed, but didn’t stop. Venting his frustration with a few heartfelt epithets, he rinsed off in the cold spray, and made a few more unsuccessful attempts to stem the flow of water. He dried and dressed in the nearest clothes he could find on the floor, and hurried down to maintenance.

After he slammed his fist into the door a few times, it opened.

“What?” the maintenance guy blinked, “Hey, you’re all wet!”

*    *    *

Gremlins have camouflage magic, and a way of making people who catch just a glimpse forget them. This is good for humanity, because they’re powerfully ugly, and react violently to being discovered. But when Seth hits his head and lands on the floor right next to a gremlin, he sees it… and it notices that he’s done so. Things are about to go downhill for Seth.

Top Ten Tues: Series Abandoned

Top Ten Tuesdays, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, feature lists related to all things bookish–characters, authors, titles, and favorites. They’re an excellent way to find new interesting books on a variety of topics, and to find bloggers that love the books you do.

Check out their blog for their top ten and lists by other bloggers!

June 25: Series I’ve Given Up On/Don’t Plan to Finish (Submitted by A Book and a Cup)

This is a tough one! I don’t track this information, but I hunted down some examples.

  1. Hazel Wood; Melissa ALbert. It was so pretty, I ignored the mixed reviews. They were earned.

2. Big Rock, Lauren Blakely. Looked like the start of a cute romance series, but was really sexist.

3. Dragon Tattoo; Steig Larson. It took some effort to disengage from the mystery, but these books are just too dark.

4. Time Quintet; Madeline L’Engle. I decided to re-read some of these, and read the rest, but they go downhill from book one. I’ll stick with that one.

5. Throne of Glass; Sarah Maas. I liked the idea of this, but I found all the love triangles annoying.

6. Harry Hole; Jo Nesbo. I got all the way up to book 8 before I decided this is too dark for me.

7. Abhorsen; Garth Nix. I really liked the first three books, but 4 was such a disappointment I don’t want to pick up 5.

8. The Greek Detective; Anne Zouroudi. I got through one and a bit, before deciding I wasn’t much interested.

 

Weekend Writing Warriors: 6/23

This 8-10 sentence blog hop is hosted by The Weekend Writing Warriors. (Click the link for the list of participants, or rules if you want to join!)

Here’s the start of a new WIP–working title “Discovering Gremlins. Seth had a bad day at work–hit his head and saw a monster, which he dismissed as his imagination. A shadow has followed him home. Maybe.

Previous snippet: When the shadow raced by, right out of the edge of his vision as he exited the subway car, he ignored it. He trudged up the steps to his apartment, and this time when he noticed the flicker, it was a black garbage bag stuck on a tree branch. As soon as he locked his door behind him, he started shedding his work clothes, ending up in a t-shirt and boxers when he settled on the sofa a couple minutes later.

Click. On went the tv.

He started up his latest favorite show, a mystery with wacky odd couple investigators, which he was halfway through the second season, and binge-watched until his stomach rumbled unpleasantly, gnawing at his spine.

“Oh, geeze,” he glanced at his phone–11:35. He should have been in bed an hour ago.

He shuffled to the kitchen, and stuffed a frozen dinner in the microwave, yawning and staring off into the distance while the microwave hummed. Something rustled behind him, and the microwave’s happy hum shifted, punctuated with popping noises, and he whirled around to find it on fire.

 

 

weekend_writing_warriorsveteransbadge

Seth swore, and yanked the plug on the microwave. He opened the door, which made the fire rise eagerly with the fresh infusion of oxygen, used a metal spatula to deposit the dinner in the sink, then turned on the tap.

A few moments later, he stared glumly at the blackened and soggy brick of still-frozen pasta and meat.

A quick scoop with the spatula landed the mess in the trash, and he had a bowl of cereal instead, before slumping off to bed. Tomorrow would have to be better.

 

His alarm went off far too early, and he accidentally swiped his phone off the nightstand when he tried to silence it. Groaning, he picked it up, and turned it over to find a spider web of cracks across the screen.

“Great.” He set the phone down with exaggerated care, and shuffled to the kitchen. He had a breakfast sandwich in his hand when he noticed the burn marks and scorched plastic smell of the microwave.

*    *    *

Gremlins have camouflage magic, and a way of making people who catch just a glimpse forget them. This is good for humanity, because they’re powerfully ugly, and react violently to being discovered. But when Seth hits his head and lands on the floor right next to a gremlin, he sees it… and it notices that he’s done so. Things are about to go downhill for Seth.