Five Random Thoughts

  1. My ideas come in herds. Some days, some weeks, some months, the creative bubbles are few and far between. Then some weeks I can barely keep ahead of them. There’s no rhyme or reason to the clusters. It isn’t related to how much writing I’m doing or the regularity of it, and it doesn’t track with the weather or the seasons. (YES I AM THE DATA DORK WHO WILL TRACK SUCH THINGS.) July was a creative flood month, with ideas like “Pachinko Life” which would be a story about how we bounce along from event to person to event from birth until death (complete with sound effects), Winter Cold Kindness, which is only a title and a non-wordable concept in my head so far, and a Felicity & Justin short that would frame some of his backstory. That one really, really wants to be written but I have two other worlds requiring my time first. Alas.
  2. A thing that’s been bugging me because I keep seeing articles about “duty” applied to people’s jobs. As in, “you have a duty to show up.” NOPE. No employer deserves the level of life investment implied by the word Duty unless oaths of fealty were sworn (see: military & religion) Employment is contractual: by definition it means employees commit to doing a job as defined in return for compensation. PERIOD.
    Belief that any job or a career is anything more is the result of cultural brainwashing and insidious corporate propaganda. I say this despite also believing passionately in the goal of doing work that means more to the world than bringing home a paycheck. Conflating the importance of the work with the intrinsic worth of the institution administering that work is a dangerous error.
  3. I’ve been recording a lot of life stuff on this blog that I haven’t published and likely won’t ever publish. They may be too personal or private or plain too surreal to inflict on others. I can’t judge right now, the world is too surreal, and until I can, they stay in draft mode. I needed to write them. (this blog is my version of the neat little notebook many writers have. I don’t do handwriting. At. All. DON’T JUDGE ME & I WON’T JUDGE you) But I don’t need to share them. I think everyone should have an outlet like that. Point 2 up there almost ended up being one of those unposted thoughts, but I decided, meh, why not.
  4. This may end up being My Year of Series Re-Reads. So far I’ve revisited the Liaden Universe, caught up with the Chronicles of the Kencyrath, and re-read all the Valdemar novels, Dresden Files, and Guild Hunter books. And I am now embarking on an October Daye marathon that should keep me booked for a month.
    If none of these series sound familiar, I recommend all of them, some with caveats, some without.
  5. Expect more listish posts like this one when I have no major ideas to expound on, or reviews to post, and I forget to post the little things one at a time over teh course of a given week.

Until later!

A copy of Rough Passages, with Unity & Affirmation pins on one side, and on the other side, Unity & Mercury supporter patches.
Look, a pretty picture of a book & other buyable things!

Writer Reading Report: Battle Ground

Battle Ground releases on 29 September, 2020. I received an ARC through NetGalley and I aim for non-spoiler reviews, but read at your own risk.

(from the NetGalley description)

THINGS ARE ABOUT TO GET SERIOUS FOR HARRY DRESDEN, CHICAGO’S ONLY PROFESSIONAL WIZARD, in the next entry in the #1 New York Times bestselling Dresden Files.

Harry has faced terrible odds before. He has a long history of fighting enemies above his weight class. The Red Court of vampires. The fallen angels of the Order of the Blackened Denarius. The Outsiders.

But this time it’s different. A being more powerful and dangerous on an order of magnitude beyond what the world has seen in a millennium is coming. And she’s bringing an army. The Last Titan has declared war on the city of Chicago, and has come to subjugate humanity, obliterating any who stand in her way. 

Harry’s mission is simple but impossible: Save the city by killing a Titan. And the attempt will change Harry’s life, Chicago, and the mortal world forever.

I enjoyed the previous volume in this series despite its lack of a truly satisfying ending, which says good things about Jim Butcher’s skill in the art of spinning out a narrative. The mix of humor, conflict, magic, and mystery always keeps me coming back for more.

I enjoyed Battle Ground too, but again it was a liking despite elements.

I knew Battle Ground would hold a lot of action. I knew conflicts of duty, honor and heart-ties would multiply, and decisions would come home to roost. I knew all those things going in, and it was still a grueling read. A GOOD read, but a hard one.

No one coming into book 16 needs me to tell them what’s good about this series. So. Below, the things that stuck out to me as memorable.

  1. There were no breathers beyond a paragraph or or two of character interplay between epic fights and interpersonal demolition derbies. There just wasn’t page space for narrative relaxation or much of the typical Dresden banter. The whole book takes place over a single night of nonstop end-of-the-world battling. The stakes are sky-high, the forward momentum is relentless, and the tone is… blood-drenched.
  2. Character Development? I didn’t see much, but I didn’t expect much. There are big revelations, uncomfortable epiphanies, and questionable choices, all the juicy, twisty goodness that makes Dresden a wonderful train wreck of a character to follow, but nuance took a back seat to plot raveling.
    That blood-drenched tone I mentioned? I don’t see it lightening up any time soon. This book is the beginning of the end, the rise into the big, bad boss resolution of the whole series, which looks like a war to end All Of Time And Space.
    That means there’s some hard moral work for Harry Dresden ahead, and after his performance in Battle Ground, I am not sure he’s up to the task. That’s disappointment enough to pull my liking for the book down a bit.
    I’m sure I’m meant to feel doubt, but the ambiguity never develops. Will Harry turn to the light or the dark? Will he make the selfless decision when it comes down to the wire? Battle Ground leaves that answer thoroughly up in the air yet again, and not in a way that felt character-driven.
  3. My last impression concerns the “redemptive power of a child” trope. The larger story arc has already headed far down that road. Now, I love reading and writing about family bonds, and I am all-in on the ineffable wonder of love, but, um. It isn’t up to bearing the weight of so much narrative. I reserve judgment until the series is finished, but Harry’s relationship with his daughter makes me uneasy. It’s precious but feels…awfully pat.

Battle Ground is everything Harry Dresden turned up to eleven, the good parts and the problematic ones both. And with all the the virtues and vices of protagonist and plot are cranked up past maximum volume, some of the things I like about the music got lost in the noise.

(All that said, I CANNOT WAIT TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS NEXT)

That’s it for this one. Until next time!

Gen Con Online: come join the fun!

I posted Zoom links for my Gen Con Online events this AM.

THIS IS REALLY REAL NOW! I haven’t run a Gen Con event in 25 years or more. What a way to jump back into the pool, eh?

Are you coming to the virtual convention? You should, if you can. I mean, how many times in your life will attending Gen Con be FREE?

First you grab a free badge here:
Gen Con Online sign-in

And then you grab tickets to any virtual events you want to join. Many events do charge a small fee, but mine do not. (Because I get to decide, and I decided I wanted to make them free, that’s why.) To make things ever-so-easy, here are direct links to MY events:

Rough Passages Reading & Chat
(a low-key, low-pressure hangout to start my con)
Thursday July 30, 2020 6:00 PM CDT/ 7PM EDT

Indie Publishing Adventures
(I’ve invited several other authors to chat with me about how we define success in publishing and taking different paths to reach our goals.)
Friday July 31, 2020 12:00 CDT/ 1PM EDT

I have a third event too, but that one is full. But there are hundreds of other cool games and demonstrations and streaming ‘casts to choose from.

Your Gen Con Badge will also allow you to join the GenCon Discord server starting TODAY, plus it gives you access to all online vendor showcases during the convention dates and much MUCH more.

Here endeth the promo post. Until later!