So I read Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest back in high school and found it amusing, but it did nothing to prepare me for this. I mean, I knew the premise of the story, of course–that Dorian Gray has a painting of himself that ages while he remains the same age. But what I didn’t realize is that this is a real horror book, with murder and suspense, even a fairly seedy scene in an opium den.
Now this is a great science fiction novel, and simultaneously an illustration of the limits of genre fiction. The Mote in God’s Eye, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, succeeds at every level as an SF story. The primary character in a very large cast is Captain Blaine of the Imperial Space Navy, who leads an expedition to the Mote, a remote corner of the galaxy where humans, whose empire spans hundreds of worlds, have detected the first intelligence alien species they’ve ever encountered.
Perdido Street Station is a book by China Mieville sent to me last Christmas by my brother, who’s getting his Master’s in English literature and recommended this highly. (I have previously, and quite positively, covered a comic series China Mieville wrote, here.) It’s a little bit hard to describe the book because there’s a lot going on in it, but I’ll make a brief attempt to summarize it.
The Love Machine, my latest novel, is done.
Well, at least the not-quite-final draft of it. I finished it this morning, fulfilling my 2017 New Year’s goal of having it done by June. It took about 18 months.
Because I’ve been reading each chapter to my writers’ group a few weeks after completing them, and then going back and polishing, the book should need very little work further work, I think. I’ll take a week or so off, and then do a final read-through and polish.
My next goals?
1) I have two open short stories. I’ll finish one of them. Should take 7-10 days.
2A) Polish query letter for The Love Machine.
2B) Send The Love Machine out to agents. Maybe start in a month.
3A) Go back to novel #3, which I need to make one semi-major change to. May take a few weeks for that. Otherwise, I think this one is good to go.
3B) Novel #3 also needs a title! My various working titles (most recently, Out of Place) have not worked for me.
4) Start on novel #5. I have a really killer premise and am ready to start. Maybe after Labor Day.
Here are my writing goals for 2017:
Finish revisions to my short story, La Jolla Ballroom, and submit for writers’ group anthology. This one is done, I did the final revisions this morning.
2) Finish current novel, The Love Machine, by June. I think I’m over halfway done at this point. I’ve been doing editing and revision of each chapter after reading it aloud at my writers’ group, so it (hopefully) will need little revision once I get to the end. June’s pretty ambitious, but I should be able to manage it.
3) In January, complete beta reads for manuscripts. I’m beta reading two novels for fellow authors in my writers’ group.
4) Revise third novel (probably starting in June). Also, come up with a good title for it. My third novel, finished a couple years ago, languishes in limbo. It’s done but needs a a major re-write.
5) Continue work on short stories, including Steader, and others as time permits. I have a short story I started a few months ago titled Steader that I think could be really good. Just need to finish it! Plenty of other ideas for stories floating around too, nothing too well-formed, but lots of things with potential.
5A) But only write short stories if it is something new. I feel like I’ve gotten in a little bit of a rut with my short stories–some of my recent ones have seemed too similar in tone, and too easy for me to write. So I’ve determined only to write short stories that will stretch my writing muscles in some way. For La Jolla Ballroom, it’s using period dialect from the 1930s. For Steader, it’s writing a tense thriller.
My wife read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children when it came out in 2011 and thought I’d like it. Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten to it on my reading stack until now. Apparently it was released as a movie a couple months ago; I’m not sure what kind of reviews it’s gotten. I liked the book well enough, but had some reservations.
Sabriel by Garth Nix is a YA fantasy novel with epic sweep, an intriguing setting, and great characters. Nevertheless, I found it a bit disappointing–but that’s based almost solely on my own expectations. Garth Nix is one of my wife’s favorite authors, and I had a read a glowing review of one of his books a few years ago. Those two things led me to believe this would be one of those rare fantasy novels to transcend its genre and be true literature, like Lord of the Rings or the Amber series. It’s not quite at that level.
One might think I would hardly have to describe Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson. It’s been done so often in the movies that pretty much everybody knows the concept. Yet, I think the book itself is probably not read very often, so I’ll just give a quick rundown.