The Re-Readables: A Theory

I’ve been reading a lot of contemporary non-supernatural romance, and I’m noticing that while there are always books that I close after two chapters because I can’t take any more, there are a lot more that I finish. Those finished books fall into two categories: the ones I liked but that I doubt I’ll ever read again and the Re-Readables.

I’m pretty sure that everybody’s criteria for re-readable is different, but I’ve been looking back over the things I’ve re-read lately, some of them over a dozen times, like the Murderbots, the Rivers of London, some of the Ivy Years, some Pratchetts, some Heyers, some Stouts, some Francis, some MacFarlane, and others, and I’ve narrowed it down to four things: Continue reading

Happiness is Not Going to the Mall

I realize that people still went out on Black Friday, evidently feeling that death was a small price to pay for a cheap TV, but most of the people I know nestled back into post-holiday stupor and made other plans for gift buying and receiving. Don’t get me wrong, I love shopping. But I gave it up pretty easily when it became associated with a future on a ventilator. And I think that the social distancing/quarantine has changed the way we look at things, possibly permanently. When I asked my daughter what the grandkids wanted, she said they weren’t sure. They’ve been at home so long surrounded by their books and toys and games that it’s soaked in that they’re pretty much stocked up. There’s something about being surrounded by your stuff 24/7 that makes you realize that you possibly have enough. More than enough. Too much. And the idea of buying more is just kind of ridiculous.

That hasn’t stopped me from burning up online buying, of course, but I’m not risking my life doing that, and it’s curiously targeted, not based on my usual “Ooooh something shiny” response to actually being next to the thing I’m impulsing. I’m not going to say I’m happy about the virus, that’s an ongoing, escalating tragedy. But good can come out of bad, like not feeling compelled to overspend on the holidays because I’m not someplace with “Santa Baby” blaring on loudspeakers and a lot of cranky but determined people too close to me. I’m happy I’m home today.

What made you happy this week?

This is a Good Book Thursday.

. I’m feeling cranky. (I know, what else is new?). Bob just told me that three million people are traveling for the holiday (I have no idea how he knows this, but I definitely believe it) because evidently they all want death for Christmas. Mona’s not feeling well, which means I have to get a vet appointment on a holiday week. And the only romances showing up on BookBub are either alpha billionaire werewolves or Christmas stories with lots of sugar (both confectionary and verbal). I did read a good book last week: It Ended Badly, the story of the thirteen worst (according to author Jennifer Wright) break-ups in history. Henry VIII gets two–Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard–but Nero’s in there, too. The only one I couldn’t read was Oscar Wilde. That one is just heartbreaking. Also, Norman Mailer was a terrible person.

What did you read this week? (Also Happy Thanksgiving, American Argh.)

Working Wednesday, November 25, 2020

I’ve been worthless for most of November, but I have BIG PLANS to work in December. BIG PLANS. Also, Bob and I have decided to take some time off from HWSWAA for lack of interesting content. (Do not say we could have done that a couple of weeks ago, please. We know.)

What have you been doing the past two weeks? (Sorry about blowing off last week, I was busy doing . . . uh, nothing. Note to self: Improve blog skills.)

Happiness is a Fat-Assed Raccoon

Fat-Ass has won. He (she?)showed up again last night–Emily hasn’t for three days, I’m worried–and somehow managed to climb over piles of books and papers to reach the bag of cat food, toppling it and him onto the floor, after which he shrieked with rage and left, never to return. So far. It was the first time I’d laughed in weeks or at least it felt like it. And now I’m kind of hoping he comes back tonight. He went to all that trouble to spill a pound of cat food on my workroom floor, he should at least reap some kind of reward. Also, since Emily has evidently been adopted by someone else–I refuse to believe anything horrible–Fat-Ass may be my new pet. I have to admit an affection for his little bandit face as it peers up at the red lights of the camera, probably wondering “What is that thing?” and “Can I eat it?”

Happiness is screwball wildlife.

Note: He came back and brought a friend, so our relationship is over. If he’s going to see other people . . .

What made you happy this week?

ETA: And Emily came back. SO happy that she’s all right. Must trap her inside the house this week because it’s going to get cold here. Also because there are too damn many predators out there after a disabled stray cat.

HWSWA: Talking About Characters in Shane and the Red Wedding

This week at HWSWA we talked about Bob’s cast of characters in Shane and the Red Wedding. One of the hardest things to do in fiction is to corral your cast so that they and their actions make sense on both the surface level and the deeper, unstated, thematic level. So I asked a lot of questions and tried not to make too many suggestions (HA!) because it’s Bob’s book, not mine. Fortunately, he’s good at ignoring me.

HWSWA: More Brainstorming Anna

Anna’s plot was all over the place so we talked it through in the latest HWSWA. Then Bob sent me a long doc in e-mail spitballing the simplified plot and I annotated it and sent it back and he annotated it and I did a couple of diagrams and things are better now. Still not great plotting but so much better. The best thing about all of this is that all the what-the-hell-did-I-write-this-for scenes now are crucial. The Girls win again.

Tomorrow we’re talking about romance in Bob’s book. We’ll probably both have to drink for that one.

Happiness is Turkey Recipes

I’m not a fan of turkey in general, but once a year here in America it’s everywhere. Christmas has a variety of food traditions but for Thanksgiving, it’s turkey and dressing, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. It’s the law, unwritten but still firm. So every year about this time, our media is full of a thousand ways to cook a turkey, a thousand things to do with leftover turkey, a thousand videos of exploding deep fried turkeys setting garages on fire, not to mention the President pardoning a turkey, although who knows how that’s going to go this year, he’ll probably fire it. It’s our solstice, or at least our prelude to the solstice that’s going to show up three weeks later with the longest night of the year, followed by the most obnoxious holiday of the year, followed by a new year that’s bound to be better than the last because dear God . . . It’s the cycle, I’m talking about. Which is why I read all the turkey recipes with joy even if I’ll never make another one–there are other ways to make gravy which is what this is all about for me–because it means that last cycle to a new and better time is starting.

So all the turkey news makes me happy. What made you happy this week?