This is the first time I've worked with straw. I'm really pleased with how it turned out. I had a tough time decorating it, though, as that pink was supposed to be red. It all came together when I matched it to the cherry blossoms.
It's been a long few months since I've made any hats. Other projects kept getting in the way, but I've finally carved out some time. I'm very pleased with the results.
I’ve just finished the second book in Mary Robinette Kowel Lady Astronaut series, The Fated Sky. This was the perfect follow-up to The Calculating Stars, one of my favorite books from last year (maybe one of my favorite books). These two books are so well researched, the world so developed, with wonderful writing to wrap it all in a gorgeous adventure.
The Calculating Stars concentrates on the climate changing event of the meteor strike and Elma’s struggle to be taken seriously as a mathematician physicist pilot. Elma, the Lady Astronaut, has such determination in the face of harrowing misogyny. Her anxiety is visceral—I could feel how upset she was. The completely undramatic loving relationship she has with her husband is what so many books should aspire too.
I gave this book to my mom to read—not a sci-fi/fantasy/alternate history reader at all—and she loved it so much she used it as her book club pick.
The Fated Sky concentrates less on misogyny—it’s five years later and the ladies have more than proved their skills and worth—and tackles racism while giving us an amazing adventure of what happens on the long space flight to Mars.
While both of these books have the larger themes of misogyny and racism, they are explored through life situations so that it’s easy to forget while reading the social issues the characters face. Yet, when you’re finished, what sticks with you as much as the adventure is those issues and how they must be faced in order to move past them.
These two books were wonderfully imagined and written. I can’t recommend them enough.
I’ve started a new writing group with an old friend. So far there are only three of us, but it seems to be working out well. We came up with some guidelines of what we want to accomplish, but mostly we want to support each other in our writing. The two other people are working on getting into the habit of writing. They both have projects they’d like to flesh out. I’m finishing up my fourth novel, but that doesn’t mean I don’t need some help and support too.
I was working with a critique group much of last year, and it was a great group, but I just wasn’t getting out of it what I needed. With my current group, my friend and I have been talking about forming a group for probably ten years. We’re just now in a place where we can find some common time.
So far, it’s just the kind of support I’ve been looking for—to give and receive. We’re hoping to add more members, but for now it’s just right.
I had the opportunity to go to the San Francisco’s Writers Conference again this year. As always, it was incredibly educational and inspirational. This year it was held in a different hotel, the Hyatt Embarcadero, which is in the mix of everything. It was a nice change. (Though the Saint Mark is a bit more gorgeous than the Hyatt.)
I attended some excellent panels on world building, using more than five senses, and on creating beautiful sentences. I did the agent “speed dating” and got some excellent feedback on my just about finished novel, Hideyho. Plus, my husband was with me so we got to do fun stuff together in the evenings—which mostly consisted of eating at fabulous restaurants.
All-in-all a great conference.
I’ve recently discovered that I have a soft spot for romance books that take place in a bookstore or are about books--The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, The Little Bookshop of Happy Ever After, etc. I’ve never been much of a romance reader until I started reading Georgette Heyer a few years ago. Though, I find her far more literary than romantic, but somehow, she’s always cast as a romance writer.
I’m still not much of a romance reader … that is until I found this sweet spot. Now I can’t get enough of these books. They are so much fun! I’ve made a list—kind of short, unfortunately—of books that might hit the right notes. Some are not as book-related as I would wish, some are not as romantic, but I’m having a blast when I find ones that are just right.
I recently read Little Bookshop of Lonely Hearts, and now I need to add “funny” as a descriptor of romance books about books to the list—which narrows it perceptibly. This one was almost too “romance” for me, but it was so uproariously funny, that it went on the list of my favorites.
Loving this niche genre so much, during the last NaNoWriMo, I started my own romance novel that revolve around books. I only got 40,000 words into a very rough draft and I’ve put it on the backburner now for some more pressing projects, but it warms my heart to know that I have my very own romance to get back into when the time comes.
Since, I first heard about it, I wanted to read Pride by Ibi Zoboi. It’s a modern take on Pride and Prejudice, one of my all-time favorite books, setting it in a quickly gentrifying neighborhood in Brooklyn.
This version of P&P is set in a world almost as different from my world as Regency England. The main character is Zuri Benitez, a girl who is proud of her Afro-Latino heritage and proud of her old-style Brooklyn neighborhood, where even though her family is very poor—living seven people in a one-bedroom apartment—they are rich in love and friendship.
This starts to change when the super wealthy Darcy family buys the building across the street and makes it into a single-family townhome. What makes it worse for her is that the Darcy brothers are gorgeous and rich and she doesn’t think they belong in her ‘hood. Her older sister quickly falls for the older brother, Ainsley. Even though the younger brother, Darius, expresses interest in getting to know her, she keeps him at arms-length.
I loved it. Although, it was really hard for me to get into at first. The rhythm of the language, using local slang, was difficult for me to get into. Zuri’s attitude and strong personality were something I’d never encountered before. But once I got past the things I didn’t know or understand, I enjoyed the story so much. Author Ibi hit all the right points to match it up with the original and added enough to the plot line to make it very much her own.
I think some people would pick up this book and be daunted by how very different it is from their own experience. Reading isn’t about staying true to your own experience (though those books can be comforting). Reading should be about exploring new worlds, not only made up ones, but ones that exist in the world now and you just don’t know about yet.
I've been doing Nanowrimo again this year, but I've no intention of winning. I'm using it as a chance to reset my schedule, to get to writing everyday again. And it's working! I've written every day this month and I'm up to 26,000 words on a new novel.
I recently noticed that when I'm working on a manuscript, I tend to fade out between 23,000 and 25,000 words. I think I have four novels where I stalled out around there. That I've already passed the tough part and have plenty of ideas left, I have a good feeling about getting this novel done.
I've been crazy busy the last few months. Extra work came in. I worked the SCIBA trade show one weekend and went to a writer's conference the next.
In between, I made a bridal fascinator and a groom's top hat for my nephew and his bride who were married this past week. I'm really pleased with how they turned out!
_Thanks for visiting. If you are looking for information about Moving Pictures or The Iris Project, click on the links on the left. Here you’ll find short stories and other works by me, including arts and crafts and hats. Thanks for visiting and I hope you enjoy.