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What I Do Here

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I write about whatever I am thinking about. It helps me think about it and remember it later. Because I live far away from many of my longest term friends, we don't always get to participate in each other's daily life; sharing my blog is a second-best.

My interests change over time, but at any given time, I am usually very intensely interested in a few things. This might look more organized and logical than it really is. I have two children with autism spectrum diagnoses, and they seem completely normal for my extended family; if I were a kid growing up today, I'd have a diagnosis, too. Try to keep that in mind, if you're trying to figure out what kind of person would write the kinds of things I write.

_Kilts & Kraken_, Cindy Spencer Pape

Looking for A Viking berserker romance set in the Hebrides, steampunk Victoriana style?

Amazon has this subgenre search thing which is a ton of fun. Alas, my efforts to find books that combined the maximum number of subgenres in one, delightfully trashy novel was never very successful (mostly I found a couple of nutters who were clearly abusing the metadata system).

Anyway. That's not what I'm blogging about this time.

My son has been home sick almost the entire week (he went to school long enough on Monday for me to walk down to Great Hill and do the loop and have lunch at Julie's Place and we've been hanging out ever since). My attention span is thus extremely limited. Fortunately, Cindy Spencer Pape's steampunk romance wtf Gaslight Chronicles has been almost as perfect as watching Astaire and Rogers movies used to be when I was a young person feeling under the weather myself. Ah, "Top Hat". Actually, "The Gay Divorcee" was even better, because it has "Night and Day" in it, which is just the best song ever. Where was I?

SPOILERS RUN RUN RUN AGH THE KRAKEN WILL GET YOU. Or possibly Catriona.

_Kilts & Kraken_ offers us a lady physician whose dad is in the Order. He asks her to help his ex-girlfriend (pre-marriage, no hard feelings on either side) who has been trying to help a battered Viking dude who washed up. He turns out to be from a small island in the Hebrides with a Magickal connection to the island and must return there in order to heal. So off they all go to the small island which has been mysteriously under attack by giant squid recently (how Viking dude got so battered and other people injured or dead).

Ex-girlfriend and doctor make friends and enemies on the island and are joined by people from earlier books and others associated with the Order as they attempt to make sense of the Kraken, maybe help out by testing some new weapons Wink has designed and also get a sense of whether this Magickal Viking dude is going to be a problem for the Order (no).

The book is short. There is much less sexual tension, which is probably appropriate, as the two people who are getting together are sort of pragmatic and not ones to pearl clutch or fight a strong physical attraction. Once they get over the, oh, gosh, she can't possibly move out to the Hebrides thing, oh, and the people trying to kill her and incite the kraken and so forth, all is well.

This is not as much of a squeee! inducing book. I think it's a really great example of why it is important for your protagonists to not be entirely sensible. Sensible people make for a very low key story, even when they are surrounded by Teh Crazy because they are ... sensible. But I really _liked_ most of the characters and will continue to return for more.

In which I Explain a commonly used term

So, I was asked, along with my husband, for an explanation of a commonly used term which I have some expertise with. We each came up with definitions, his got more into the implementation, I stayed at a high level and made an observation about the usage of the term. I will refrain from further detail; I just want to brag here, because one of those, "hey, you're a nerd, maybe you know how to describe this" questions made it into like a real, official, useful thing instead of just being a dumb argument over beer and turkey.

Hey, photo credit and a useful consultant on a matter! Great month, October!

And now I will go contemplate what a fricking small world tech and, er, related fields are.

Today's Activities Include: sick kid, errands

T. continues to be sick. He had a fever, so he won't be at school tomorrow, either. It has been the week of Cancel. I caught up on stuff around the house (laundry, dishes), turned A. over to the sitter so they could go to some sort of Halloween thing at the Rainforest Cafe (A. finds out about stuff like this and then _remembers_ the date _and_ the time of day, and will nag to find out whether the time has arrived and make sure she gets there. She is _6_. She does not have any kind of time management equipment. I am a little frightened; she's a lot like I was). They came back with still more Build-A-Bear stuff. Fortunately, I sent the page with the rewards coupon on it with them. But I get ahead of myself. R. came home and the three of us went to 99 where for once I actually ordered food. The burger is good, especially with the sauteed mushrooms etc. Fries are so-so; if I do this again I'm going to see if they'll swap the side. Usually if I'm with T. at 99, I've already had dinner and just get decaf.

The errands happened after dinner. T. was out of Johnson's no more tangles and as the person in the house with the longest hair currently, he kinda needs it. Walgreens in Maynard closed up shop back in July and I ONLY JUST NOW NOTICED. This is probably a part of why they closed up shop, not me personally, but probably there were a lot of people not shopping there for months at a time and that was the end of that. Next up: CVS at the Plaza -- found the spot on the shelf and it was empty. Tried the grocery store; they don't carry that item. Went home with groceries and went to the CVS on Great Rd, which I am going to start with the next time, because they had the detangler AND they had the small hand sanitizer with the hang it from a strap wrap thingie, which I had been looking for and failing to find.

It's been pretty boring around here. I've been playing the Halloween levels of Frozen Free Fall, interspersed with T. asking me to play PvZ (original) on his new kindle fire. I watched a ton of TV today and yesterday (sound down, making sure T. wasn't looking at the screen when I was watching those portions of NCIS, NCIS:LA, Castle, etc. that involved dead bodies and/or violence). I'm really hoping he gets better soon.
I lurrrrvvee the Kate Matthews series set in a post magical weird thing Atlanta. I even like the ancillary stories and novel. I tried reading the Edge series and bounced. I may one day return, because the Ilona Andrews writing team apparently has a rep for slow starts that then get really good. With that warning in mind, and having bounced off the most recent Kris Longknife book (I'll get back to it, almost certainly), I read _Burn For Me_.

Short form: Wheeee! I look forward to the next one and hope for a long and profitable for the Ilona Andrews team project.

Long form: SPOILERS RUN RUN RUN AWAY IN FEAR AUGH! ADAM PIERCE IS CHASING YOU FASTER FASTER!

Everyone gone? Okee.

The front matter almost did me in. It is eye roll central for the background on the Osiris Serum and its impact on society (shades of JAK's Founder's Formula, much? Altho I also kept thinking of some of the Wild Cards universe), and the Waller's visit to Mad Rogan felt way over the top.

Good news! The book itself is nothing like that front matter. Instead, we get Kate, er, Nevada, snarking off to wildly powerful men (Augustine she calls a Terrible Person -- which is true, but tactless, Adam Pierce she buys a t-shirt for because he's shirtless in so much of his social media coverage, and wow the shit she flips Connor Rogan is really, really uncalled for albeit extremely humorous), and generally being heroic. Inevitably, the apparently under-powered Kate, er, Nevada turns out not to be underpowered at all, just in hiding. And because she is in hiding, she hasn't developed her magic much and doesn't really even know what her magic is.

Basically, if you like Kate and Curran, and you're up for new names, a wildly different family setup, different magic system, different tech environment, Houston instead of Atlanta, Family dynasties instead of vampires/werewolves/etc., you'll love this. Love love love this. I sure did.

Gimme more.

Minimal sexoring, and the sexoring which is present involves magical powers, which is for me, somewhat meh. Also the I Want All That Focus And Attention Pointed At Me turned out to be a bit triggery for me but probably won't be for anyone else.

_Photographs & Phantoms_, Cindy Spencer Pape

Short! Very short. Not sure it qualifies as a novella. SPOILERS Run Run Run Run Are you gone? Okay fine.

Kendall Lake is sent by dad to go investigate Amelia "Amy" Deland's weird problem in her photography studio: a scary serpent appears in some photos and then the person it is touching dies. Setting is a steampunky Victorian England, in this case, Brighton. Deland's grandma moved to England, so Amy doesn't know her English relatives (knows of, hasn't met) until she has to reach out to them for help with the paranormal problem.

Caro, Nell and the crowd of young'uns shows up to help figure it all out. Caro and (off-stage) Merrick now have a bio babe of their own.

Because it is short, the sexoring starts almost immediately and Amy and Kendall display all the direct ownership of their physical and other attraction to each other that I could possibly want. Amy, while inexperienced, has been Paying Attention to Girl Talk and is aware of non-intercourse sexual possibilities. If you like your sex between adults who can actually ask for what they want and come up with some ground rules and then stick to them, so far Cindy Spencer Pape is looking like the author for you (by which, obvs, I mean me).

Plus, mechanical animals! Urchins who have been civilized! A renovated boarding house in Brighton!

Don't read these for historical accuracy. Seriously. Just ... don't. Also, I don't understand how anyone can tuck a leather duster into a valise (what, was it completely empty before?), but I decided that the valise was ACTUALLY either a Tardis (did you see the whole Addams family finger walking thing? So cool!) or a Bag of Holding. And I'm not interested in alternative explanations.

Do you even have to ask if I will read more? Again, not today. Not with Ilona Andrews and Mike Shepherd offerings just sitting there, waiting for me. . .
This is, I believe, the first book published (written?) in the Liaden universe. I have been not reading any of this constellation (?) of books since basically when they first came out, by which I mean, I was aware of them and largely not interested. This is especially weird, given that I was active enough on rec.arts.sf.written and rec.arts.books in the 1990s to get a "So _you're_ [my name at the time]" from Vernor Vinge when I was in line for a book signing at a con. (Did I cringe? Yes, I cringed. Worse, I think I've lost the copy of Tatja Grimm's World that I had him sign. Sad face. But he was really nice about it and we did get to chat later.)

But when the Smart Bitches produced a positive review of one or more elements of the Liaden universe, I went, oh, sure, what the heck. Altho figuring out where I wanted to start was tricky, I figured I might as well start where the authors started and go from there.

First, I was warned, and you should know: these books really do have a tendency to end on cliffhangers.

Second, this is decades old science fiction. Presumably my readers are old enough and experienced enough to be aware of the issues associated with historical visions of tomorrow. The really grating ones here, for me, were "booktapes" piled all over the place and the conspicuous absence of portable communications. Lee and Miller have a Telzey-universe (James Schmitz) type autovalet, which is pretty fun!

Third: do I really have to say this? SPOILERS RUN RUN RUN if you haven't already read this come on it was published quite a while ago now.

Onto what might pass for a review. I expected a substantial romance subplot and one was delivered. I felt mild affection for both members of the proto-dyad and found their mutual attraction and skittishness to be believable. They have significant violence in their chosen careers and their backstory, and that was all good, too, even tho there was potentially trigger-y stuff in Miri's backstory (she flashes back to an attempted rape) so watch out for that.

This book contains an Oops We Got Married By Accident. I used to totally love these. There is usually (and there is one here) a really developed other culture/species/wtf and then one of the humans somehow is adopted into it and then the human does this thing which has one meaning to humans and another meaning (Getting Married) to the other culture and shenanigans. Basically, Val Con gives Miri a knife to wear in her hair when they go out to eat and dance at The Grotto (OH COULD THIS BE MORE OF A CLICHE) because a gun is too conspicuous and giving a knife = getting married. (PRETTY SURE I MENTIONED SPOILERS)

I don't totally love these any more. Now, I actually feel sort of offended on behalf of the non-existent, entirely the product of the authors' cultural group for being vultured into a pair of people who can't own their own desire enough to say, hey, wanna? Yeah, wanna! Okee, that was super nice. Wanna do it on the reg? Sure! Paperwork? Absolutes! Maybe some of the wee ones? Yeah, but we gotta work on how many . . . (IT IS NOT THAT HARD. SHOULD NOT TAKE MORE THAN 3 CONVOS. TOTAL MINUTES DEVOTED ON THE ORDER OF A HALF HOUR.)

Here's my theory on why I don't love these any more. Because I've actually done this. I loved the Oops Married By Accident when I hadn't done this. YMMV.

Next: this book is actually a romantic suspense novel that happens to involve space drive and some aliens. Specifically, it is that kind of Romantic Suspense novel that I think of as "On the Run" (many of these books actually work the word Run into the title -- sometimes _as_ the title, which is profoundly unimaginative). For reasons that are basically not that important, one or both of the proto-dyad are running, usually interspersed with downtime hiding out somewhere, patching themselves up, figuring out who is chasing them, trying to create a new identity for a new, quieter life, etc. which downtime is always interrupted by more chasing. These novels typically end somewhat abruptly, when something makes it possible for them to quit running (either everyone chasing them is dead and/or called off, or they finally convince everyone they are really dead, no, really, nothing to see here, and then they have to hide, at least until the next book in the series).

This novel is an unexceptional entry in this category of Romantic Suspense.

Here's what Lee and Miller did well: the Liaden universe is actually pretty cool, especially when the characters -- good guys and bad guys -- are Doing Research. Whenever they get a few minutes to read up on the other people in the book, Awesomeness Occurs. Like when the Juntavas guy notices that the Yxtrang avoid the turtles. Cue suspenseful music. Scary race of pirates avoids encounters with the Turtles!!! Turtles Must Be Terrifying!!!! Auuugh. Call off the enforcers. Who are out of contact. Ah, shucky darn.

Highlight of the book: the Juntavas army which is chasing Miri is led by Miri into the Police army which has cornered Val Con. Antics ensue.

Second highlight of the book: when Watcher gets told to go think about what he did by Edger.

Will I read more? Almost inevitably. However, there is a new Kris Longknife entry and a new series starter by Ilona Andrews sitting on my kindle so probably not today.

ETA: _Agent of Change_ was free on Amazon for kindle when I got it.

Tags:

T. came home with a fever yesterday and school has a 24 hour rule so he can't go in regardless -- and he's sick anyway.

Oh well.

Nate over at The Digital Reader linked to an older (June) BookBub piece:

http://unbound.bookbub.com/post/87615381745/11-things-you-dont-know-about-bargain-ebook-buyers

Weirdly, despite the atrocious title and the not-so-good summary, the slide deck is a moderately good presentation of what I think of as the Joe Konrath Explanation of Why You Don't Need a Publisher. Basically, if you write good genre fiction, and you write multiple books, and you have one or more priced low consistently (doesn't have to be the same one -- he's entertained and experimented with a lot of pricing approaches over time), you'll attract fans and they will buy the rest of your books full price and keep doing so over time.

The BookBub piece is a survey that explains the readership that is buying those books.

It's not actually a surprise: mostly middle-aged and up women and some men, had kids which are probably grown, have median or better household income and are self, part or full time employed (but if the latter, probably not in a crazy-making, 110% of your life committed to the gig type job), reads a book or more a week and has probably, over time, gotten more than a little tired with the rate at which TradPub puts out the stuff they prefer to read. _I_ think, but BookBub didn't explore, that these readers are also kind of tired of some of the limitations TradPub puts on the books they publish (that is, a lot of the bargain hunting romance readers are also looking for erotica with a real relationship and an HEA that TradPub historically avoided; there's probably a related phenomena on the thriller and/or horror side, but I don't read over there so I wouldn't know).

But it is a decent survey and they drew a reasonable conclusion from it. I will also point out, however, that Amazon has been working on converting this crowd to a subscription model with Kindle Unlimited; it remains to be seen how this will work out for authors writing to this group. I think David Gaughran has been trying to figure that out.

http://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/2014/07/20/kindle-unlimited-the-key-questions/

BookBub would appear to have a major horse in this race.
Perhaps this is the subconscious planner mocking me.

I set up a grocery order with an arrival time of day between 2 and 4 p.m., altho my flight wasn't going to be landing until after 2 p.m. When I looked at this later, I was like, that's weird. Why would I do that?

The flight we were on had a very late airplane change that, long story short, caused us to bump to an earlier flight, arriving at 12:30.

Murphy struck in our favor this one time?

T. was mostly tolerant of the long and many phone calls (sometimes simultaneous) to the airline, other people traveling with us who might have an opinion, the people who will be delivering us to the airport, etc. Altho in the middle, he decided he really really really wanted to know when his skateboard will be arriving.
I was tempted to try to reschedule my Tuesday Dutch lesson to today, because Tuesday is a half day for A. (I know, weird.). But then yesterday, T. sounded like he had a scratchy throat and I didn't really expect him to go to school today.

Yet go to school he did! I got to walk down to Great Hill and do the loop and have second breakfast at Julie's Place (best overheard conversation ever: "My girlfriend has a crazy lesbian stalker" "But kinda cool, tho!" "No, not cool at all." Others chimed in on the not coolness and further details followed. I have to say, when I am around people who are 15-20 years give or take younger than me, I have wonderful, optimistic feelings about our world. Somewhere in the conversation was, "Oh, the kind of if she were a man you'd hunt him down and kill him" suggests there is still some progress before full equality occurs, but still! Optimism!) and walk the rest of the way home before I got the call from the nurse's office. Weirdly, I had left my phone in the pannier, planning to go to the grocery store to pick up a couple things and get cash at the bank. But my iPad mini was ringing, so I answered it (I didn't actually realize that you could receive calls on an iPad? Like, not Facetime audio, actual regular calls?) and said I'd pick him up in a few minutes.

On the way to Littleton, it dawned on me that we have truly attained peak communication ability. My land line (digital voice) means I can actually have a long conversation on the phone with some nuance left (which is entirely gone in a lot of cell-to-cell calls), but the land line also rings my cell, so if I'm not at home, I can answer it before it gets to the answering machine, if I so desire. I can (but rarely do) bluetooth my cell to the home handsets. And it turns out if I've left my phone somewhere but one of the other mobile devices is available, it'll ring those (I wonder if it rings my laptop, too?).

It's like there are extensions everywhere. I think this is a good thing, but I grew up in a household that had a handset in the bathroom, so I recognize my perspective is probably a little off from the norm.

Call quality on the iPad was not great.
Sunday is almost always therapeutic riding and baths for the kids. I subscribe to a theory that if you've been on horses and/or at stables, a bath or shower is probably a good idea before you go to bed. Old fashioned, probably defeating a large part of the benefit of exposing the kiddos to germs, but hey. I have my hangups.

Sunday was, for a month or so in August and September, a day to go to church. T. is tentatively talking about maybe doing that again in mid-November. We shall see.

But lately, and I don't know what started this, the kids have been nagging for tennis. Like, actual go over to the tennis courts tennis. I felt guilty delaying further when T. and I were just hanging out, so I walked through the basement thinking I might spot a racket, failed, and off we went to K-mart, which sold us a couple of Wilson's (when did they get so _light_?) and, inevitably, a Hello Kitty racket for A. along with a tube of 3 balls for T. and whichever adult is accompanying him, and a bag of 3 _pink_ balls for A. Because, pink.

We didn't bother to go home again, because the school campus across the street from the back exit from K-mart has tennis courts. Which, it being fall, are typically available. Also, it may have been sprinkling. The other family there was _really really good_. Well, the mom and dad were; the kids were collecting balls. They clearly are better at this family thing than I am.

T. and I attempted to get the ball over the net and were occasionally successful. We never did sustain a volley, but, you know? It doesn't matter. He got tired after a while (he is starting to get a cold -- this became obvious later in the day or I wouldn't have gone along with the tennis thing) and we went to Subway, then got the helmet and boots and stuff and went to the horse.

Once we were all back at the house, R. and I finally did the massive furniture shuffle we've been discussing on and off for months. T.'s single bed (he had a separated bunk bed set) went to A.'s room. A.'s queen size bed went to the third floor. The futon on the third floor went into its couch form. Getting the queen size foam mattress up to the third floor was a bit of a trick. R. is tired. The kids seem happy, altho we took a mirror off the wall in T.'s room to reposition the remaining double bed, and he's annoyed that we didn't immediately re-hang it (need to find a stud, don't feel like doing it now).

Since I knew this was going to happen, I impulse bought A. some minion and frozen sheet sets while I was at K-mart. Because I was walking past them.

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