April Tomorrow

This weekend we were hit with another round of snow. I can’t help but think it’s the last. I feel it, I just do. Today, the weather will be around 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 Celsius). Here’s hoping it gets sunnier.

But I took advantage of the cold weather to stay in and enjoy some books, movies and television. I decided to challenge myself this month: I’m giving up alcohol until April 30th, trying to work out (even just 20 minutes) five days a week, and am brushing up on my French using Duolingo. If you’re interested in learning a new language, I recommend it.

The weekend wasn’t without challenges. I had some difficulties in formatting the print edition of Far Worlds. But thus far, I think I’ve got it and checked all potential problems. The formatting, at least on the preview screen, looks good. The details appear to be all there. I’m just waiting on the last bit of the cover and we’ll stamp out the proof version. If all goes well, I can safely say my publishing skills have gained a level.

The book has occupied my time with its complexities. It has increased my respect (again) for writer and publishers. Every little nuance and detail that we take for granted as readers was someone’s hard work and effort to learn how to do it.

But at the same time, I really do want to get back into story craft and writing. A few very interesting submission windows have come my way and I can’t wait to get started on a few new tales. It won’t be much longer and I’ve got a lot to make up for.

On the reading side of things, I’ve finished A Dance with Dragons. After some thought, I’ve decided not to read the freely available chapters on GRRM’s website. I’m looking forward to The Winds of Winter, but I don’t want to read a few chapters and then have to reread them when details change in the final product.

Because murder. That's why.

Because murder. That’s why.

Finally free to put down anything involving A Song of Ice and Fire, I’ve returned to the Horus Heresy at last with Aaron Dembski-Bowden’s Betrayer, burning through 100 pages in 2 days.

My absence from the Warhammer universe seems to have restored some of the wonder of reading the primarchs in action and some of the awe as to what the warp is capable of. There’s splendor and depth here, as our understanding of the Horus Heresy from the context of the 40k universe has always been the ‘what’, while the actual book series explains the ‘why’.

My weekend wasn’t without some lighter fare as well. Over at a friends’ place, we watched Pitch Perfect with Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson. The movie seemed to borrow strong elements from Bridesmaids, managing to be funny without coming off as a chick flick. It would have been possible to swap out the female roles for male ones with little lost in the translation. I suppose there was a little predictability to it, but it never loses sight of being fun and funny, so there’s nothing to complain about.

Finally, I broke the seal and started watching the third season of United States of Tara. The second season had proved so incredibly preachy that I was almost turned off for good. I had a hard time putting up with the judgmental sentiments and the overtly delivered political messages.

Thankfully, Diablo Cody and her associated writers seemed to have realized they had gone too far and tried (too late) to dial it back. The third season has been enjoyable and interesting, emphasizing what the second season should have been. All the family members get their own plots of which are satisfying, with the exception of Tara’s sister Charmaine (Rosemarie DeWitt) whose thread is okay- not great.

The writers finally found ways to make the kids interesting. The son is working on a movie with his boyfriend and another kid, which buds into some intriguing conflicts of their own (the kind only Showtime or HBO would have the guts to try.) It took some work to make anything of daughter, but now that they’ve set her up as a flight attendant, her story lines actually seem to bring something to the table.

Still, we’re only at episode 6 and there are three hours of the show left. One can rule a season as bad and quit, but ‘good’ should be reserved until it’s over.

Here’s to April.

March Reading List

No pictures for you today!

I’m still not finished with A Dance with Dragons… I’m somewhere around page 400 though. My greatest complaint about A Song of Ice and Fire is the sheer length of the individual novels tends to eat into time spent finishing other books. At roughly 1,000 pages a novel, one could polish off three novels in the time it takes to finish just one.

As such, I’m supplementing my reading list with a few mythological books of much shorter length, usually 100 to 200 pages.

Thus Spake Zarathustra – A kind of “must read” for me. I got passed the first part and had to put it down for a while. I’ll wrap it up shortly.

The Whitechapel Demon – 2014 is really shaping up to be the year of indie games. Don’t Starve, The Banner Saga and both Shadowrun Returns and its DLC Dragonfall have wowed me. As such, I’ve decided to expand my efforts to consume more indie and small press books too. That, and it’s hard to go wrong with Josh Reynolds.

Betrayer – I have badly, badly fallen behind on my Black Library readings. This is my first sincere attempt to catch up since White Scars. The rising cost of new Black Library titles is also prompting me to cut back a bit.

The Epic of Gilgamesh – Another as part of my effort to factor more non-fiction reading into my lists.

Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World – A gift to me over Christmas. Really don’t know much about it.

The Lives of Tao – Same as above.

Gods and Myths of Northern Europe – I’ve been meaning to really catch up on some viking mythology so this may actually go up in the reading list if only because of its short length.

The Prose Edda of Snorri Sturlusson – My boss actually came over and discussed this one with me when he saw it on my desk. Apparently it’s important reading but somewhat boring. We’ll see.

Water for Elephants – Because I need me some Americana.

Napoleon – By Felix Markham. I really should read more biographies given how much I loved the ones I read about Genghis Khan and Lyndon B. Johnson.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Yes, I’ve never read it though I am aware it’s one of the “must reads.” I’ll get around to it sometime soon.

It – I’ve written my fair share of horror, so it may sadden you to know that I’ve read nothing of Stephen King’s work. Time to change that.

Heroes Die (The Acts of Caine) – Recommended by a co-worker.