Paladin’s Grace, by T. Kingfisher

Paladin’s Grace went by quickly. I was hooked early, and pulled right on through. The many good things I’d heard about Ursula Vernon’s work feel like they apply here too.

Side note: T. Kingfisher and Ursula Vernon are the same person, T. Kingfisher is the pen name used for a whole suite of Ursula Vernon’s projects. I’ve meant to read Ursula Vernon’s work, especially Digger, for a while now. When I learned about her pen name, I signed up for these books right away. Easier to get them as ebooks from the library than to find a good, physical omnibus of the comic.

I was a little surprised, however. I hadn’t realized this would be romance. I think I might have enjoyed Paladin’s Grace more if I’d known beforehand that it was. But I did enjoy it, and it’s my own fault for not reading any of the book’s theming data—besides which, the fact that the story is romance is pretty abundantly obvious when, soon after the cishet meet-awkward, the narration is overtaken by constant thoughts about the other party.

My genre-revelation wasn’t a problem. I already knew that I enjoyed some fantasy romance (thanks Naomi Novik & Lois McMaster Bujold). If you actively dislike romance (in this case, lots of wistful thoughts and mostly-unfulfilled lusting), you may not like this book. If you can tolerate romance, this book has a bunch of other good stuff in it too, things that usually don’t end up in romance stories. After all, as Ursula Vernon acknowledges in her author’s note, most romance doesn’t accompany grisly fantasy murder mystery, dead gods, and legal drama. The perfume and frequent discussion of scents is perhaps the most normal detail. The fact that one of the leads is a perfumer may be a little less normal, as are her frequent attempts to mentally reconstruct nearly every smell she comes across, no matter how foul.

Anyway.

I absolutely recommend this book if you want solid fantasy fun. If you hate romance, that’s more complicated. If, like some of my friends, you only find romance palatable when it’s queer… I’m sorry, this book will not satisfy you.

But if you’re as intrigued as I was by a story about a paladin whose god has died, have at it. I had a good time.

The Monster in the Middle of the Road is Me, by J.P. Romney

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Aside from having a name long enough to make my post-title formatting sensibilities cringe, this was a pretty good book. I had some other thoughts about it too, which I’ll address after the break, but at first blush it’s good fun: a young adult paranormal mystery set in Japan. I’m glad my friend gave it to me when I asked for something new to read.

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Child of a Hidden Sea, by A.M. Dellamonica

Wheee, portal fiction!  When done well, this stuff is great.  I got this book for free somehow, though I can’t remember why.  I’m glad that I did.  It’s quite enjoyable.  I’ve already seen the next book in the series in my local library, and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on it.

I don’t want to spoil the fun for you, but I do want to say a few more words in favor of you reading this book.  It’s got a female protagonist and non-hetero characters, it’s got lots of sailing and boats, and it has a climax that I found very appealing.  Lots of fun.  It’s intrigue and sea-adventure wrapped up in a portal fiction premise.  What’s not to like?

Flash Fiction: J.S. Bach: Goldberg Variations – Variation 14

This is goofy.  I’m writing a new piece of flash fiction from Chuck Wendig’s usual challenge (I’ve skipped a few, my apologies), and, well… I’m not sure what to do.  The challenge involves using a random song as both your title and as inspiration for the piece itself.  I’ve done that before; so far, so good.

I shuffled until I got a named track (my first result was “Track 9” from an untitled trance album), and now (as you can see) I’m writing a story called J.S. Bach: Goldberg Variations – Variation 14.

In case you don’t know what that sounds like, here’s a video (the piece is roughly two minutes, though the video continues afterwards).  I’ve tried embedding it, but the time-specific feature doesn’t seem to be working.

My version is played by Glenn Gould, at roughly twice that speed, clocking in at 59 seconds. Please excuse me while I stare into space and figure out what the hell this means story-wise.

Right.  Got it.  This might be a little odd, but I think it works.  Enjoy!

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Playing with Monster Stories #2

Last Friday I mentioned that I was trying to write something for Molotov Cocktail’s Flash Monster contest, but that I wasn’t sure I had what I wanted.  Well, last night I wrote another thing I enjoy and this time I’ve submitted it.  As I said before, if you’re associated with Molotov you should probably wait on reading this.  If you’re not, enjoy!

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Flash Fiction: The First Is The Worst

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This week’s flash fiction challenge from Chuck Wendig involved a 1000 word story that starts with a dead body.  I ended up with this piece without even knowing where I was going, but perhaps you’ll like it.  In case you’re wondering about the setting, I think it takes place in my Elven Progenitors story-world (though I still feel like it desperately needs a punchier name).

Enjoy!

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Flash Fiction: Mustn’t Bother Mummy

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I’m doing Chuck Wendig’s flash fiction challenge again this week, as I have since January, and I’ve had some trouble.  This week’s prompt is a new version of the same subgenre blender that inspired me to write Dreams of Drowning.  I got a very different combination this time (it’s a different random table, after all), and now I’m supposed to write a whodunit / comic fantasy.  In 1500 words.

I’m about 3/4ths of the way to stumped.

I have written this with the whodunit firmly in mind.  But trying to intentionally make comic fantasy?  I’m really not sure what to do with myself.  I’ve written pieces that I thought were comedic, or which people told me were funny, but that’s always been an incidental sort of thing; I guess the truth of it is that I don’t write those moments thinking “now it’s time to write some comedy.”

Anyway, I don’t know that I’d call this particularly comic, but I do hope you enjoy it. Continue reading

Last Days of Loneliness: Crucial Exposition

I’ve solved some of my problems in Last Days of Loneliness, I think.  If you read my earlier posts about how things were terrible and how I couldn’t figure out why Amanda knows to kill the eggs with fire, rest assured, I’ve stumbled across an excellent workaround.

I had very similar conversations with Ben and my brother Nate about how to solve my narrator’s knowledge problem, in which they basically said that I should make someone else in the town or cult tell her to use fire to kill the eggs.  I, of course, resisted their advice at first.  I’d had similar thoughts many times previously, and always dismissed them because I thought it made no sense for someone to break the cult’s taboos and try to warn Amanda.  But after talking with both Nate and Ben, who both made it sound so plausible, and then reading some of George Buckenham’s rules for making games on Rock Paper Shotgun, I decided what the hell; I’d go ahead and do as Buckenham suggested.  So I tried the stupid/simple solution.  And I liked it.

Go figure.

What follows is the scene that I thought wouldn’t work, but did.  It comes some time after a scene in which Amanda goes to the police station and overhears an interesting conversation, and long before her ultimate recognition of the information that she is given in this scene.  Enjoy.

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Flash Fiction: Blood in the Desert

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This week’s dose of flash fiction comes inspired by Chuck Wendig, as per usual.  This time around, I was supposed to start a story with one of the sentences submitted last week as my prompt.  I chose the edited version of a sentence submitted by The Story Hive.  After realizing that I had to rewrite what I’d initially created, I used this week’s project to experiment with timing in narration.  I also tried to continue with a character that you’ve seen before.  You’ll probably still enjoy it. Continue reading

Flash Fiction: Cosmo Katie

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This week’s flash fiction challenge from Chuck Wendig involves a random cocktail generator and 1000 words of pure imagination.  I got the Cosmo Katie, and took it to a dark place.  I mean, space is pretty dark most of the time, right?  Enjoy.

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