I woke this morning rather abruptly with the sense that I needed to get out of bed and get dressed. And it's a good thing because I was just finishing breakfast when the contractor called to say he was on his way to look at my water heater cabinet. Normally, I'd have still been in my nightgown. My hair was pretty much the way I slept on it (which isn't that different from the way it normally looks -- I've gone to church without doing anything to my hair after sleeping on it, which is one of the reasons I normally wear it in a bun and one of the benefits of curly hair) and I had on no makeup, but I was wearing clothes. It turns out the issue goes beyond the door. There are also bad leaks. It will require removing the water heater, redoing the interior, fixing the leaks and redoing the exterior. On the up side, I don't have to pay for it (not directly, but I've contributed in HOA dues), and they said if I want to buy a new water heater, they'll install it for free while they're at it. This one is about 11 years old, so it may be a good idea.
While he was here, he looked at some other things for me, and I learned a lot about how my house is built. I also learned that my carpet is original to the house. I thought it wasn't wearing well for 16 or so year-old carpet, but it's apparently wearing incredibly well for 30-year-old carpet. Some things I thought would be major repairs (that I'd be responsible for) turned out to be relatively minor. The hard part would be moving stuff around to do the repairs. I also learned what houses like mine are currently selling for, which is a lot more than I paid. Not that I'm in the market to sell at the moment. I'm not in a position to buy something else, and this house suits me for the time being.
The big publishing news yesterday was that Amazon would start publishing fan fiction and sharing the revenue between the author and the license holder. The Internet exploded, but I don't think most people actually read the announcement (or possibly they didn't understand what they read). They've actually struck a deal with the license holder of the properties, so it's really more of a licensed media tie-in than true "fan fiction." It's also very limited, to just a few properties (like Vampire Diaries and Gossip Girl) that are owned by a book packager, not individual authors. So it's not like you can now post your Doctor Who/Sherlock crossover fanfic on Amazon and legally make money off it. But you can submit your Vampire Diaries story that falls within certain guidelines and earn some money from it after signing over all rights to it. The contract terms are pretty stiff and not something to be entered into lightly (really, you're giving up everything in the story -- they can even use your original characters from your story in future works in that universe without paying you anything beyond the royalties you earn from your story). Then again, there's not much else legal you can do with fan fiction. It remains to be seen if this is the wave of the future and if more companies will sign on. I think it would be iffy for an individual author to get on board with this because of the danger of the fanfic authors claiming you stole their ideas if you ever write anything even remotely similar to something in a story that you've received some payment for. That's probably why the contract terms of this are so stiff and require signing over all rights, but that doesn't stop someone from filing a lawsuit, and it's expensive even to hire a lawyer to point out that the person signed a contract giving up all rights to everything in the story. A media conglomerate has lawyers on staff to handle that sort of thing, but it could be financially devastating to an individual author at my level. All my money goes into maintaining my house. I'd just have to send someone with a hammer and saw after anyone suing me.
I'm still forging ahead with this story. I suspect it will end up at least novelette or novella length because I'm at about 3,000 words and just entering the second act, so it will likely be at least 10,000 words. I thought this would be quick and easy, but I'm only managing about 1,000 words a day. Maybe today I won't be quite as easily sidetracked because I don't have a lot of other stuff to deal with.
We dodged a bullet with yesterday's storms. According to the local TV weather geek (actually, his detailed Facebook posts, since he wasn't on the air yesterday), the rain-cooled air from the approaching storm rushed out just far enough ahead to keep the warm, humid air that was already in place from fueling the storm, so we ended up just getting rain and wind, with no hail or tornadoes. It was such an atmospherically blustery day that I started re-reading Wuthering Heights.
Then I went back to the New Project, which is really more of an experiment. I still don't know what it will end up being, a short story, a novella or even a novel. I suspect, given my patterns, that it'll either end up being a full novel, or I'll get to a certain point where it's on the verge of being too long to be "short" fiction and then I'll suddenly wrap it up quickly. It started as a fairy tale rewrite -- fleshing out the traditional story -- but turned into a fairy tale twist of looking at what was going on behind the scenes with the other people who were present when that story was taking place, and that turned into a sort of revisionist thing of the way those other people would have really reacted to those events (like, take the Cinderella story -- when a mystery woman no one has ever seen before shows up as a prospective bride for the heir to the throne and instantly has him wrapped around her little finger, wouldn't someone get a wee bit suspicious of her maybe being a foreign spy infiltrating herself into the court or an enchantress getting him under her thrall?). And then it turned into all of the above: a fleshed-out fairy tale in which the characters are given some dimension, but then also a behind-the-scenes story in which the traditional characters aren't the main characters and the well-known story is playing in the background, and a revision in which the main characters are dealing in a reasonably realistic way with the fairy tale events. It's loads of fun to play with, but I'm not sure what the result will look like or if it will fall apart halfway through.
As for the book already written and published, here's a little background on the genesis of Kiss and Spell. I'll keep this vague enough to avoid spoilers since the book is still trickling out and I don't think everyone's read it yet (insert usual plea to post, tweet, skywrite, blog, write reviews, etc. about it to help spread the word because I don't want anyone to miss it). I thought I'd wrapped up the series with Much Ado About Magic. Obviously, I left some major loose ends dangling, and I wanted to do something with that potential story line, but I didn't know for sure what, and I didn't think I'd get the chance. I only wrote Much Ado because the Japanese publisher thought it was already written and offered to publish it, not realizing that I'd only written a proposal. But then the Japanese publisher asked if I wanted to write more books. At the time, I didn't have any solid ideas. I'd already defeated the main villains. I said I'd have to think about it.
The same day I met with my agent and discussed this possibility, I attended a convention panel (I saw my agent because I was in Denver for a convention) in which several authors, including Katherine Kurtz (OMG!!!!) and Carrie Vaughn, discussed writing series. Carrie Vaughn said that the way she kept her series interesting for herself was by essentially writing a different kind of book for each book in the series. One might be a mystery, another a romantic comedy, another a caper. The readers might not necessarily notice this because the books were in her usual style, with her usual characters, dealing with the established situations in the series, but it was the way she approached the writing, so that even though she was dealing with the same stuff, to her she was doing something totally new. That clicked for me, and I found myself mentally scrolling through my literary bucket list of the kinds of books I've wanted to write, and I came up with the quest story.
But another thing I've always wanted to write was a straight romantic comedy. I loved the chick lit genre because it seemed to me to be closer to romantic comedy films than romance novels were, but I never managed to sell a straightforward (non-fantasy) chick lit novel before the market tanked, and there isn't much of a market for the kind of romantic comedy I would write. Was there a way to do that in this series? I've also always wanted to write some kind of resistance movement story, and I was researching that sort of thing for another idea I have spinning around in the back of my head. It all came together to create the rather crazy plot for this book.
The more I thought about romantic comedies, the more I realized that they are, in their own way, fairy tales. They even have their patterns and motifs. Mr./Miss Wrong, the reveal of the Big Deception/Lie, and the Mad Dash Across Town are as common in romantic comedy as getting magical help due to kindness and the reveal of the true identity are in fairy tales. Each genre also has its typical stock characters you expect to show up. Since this series was essentially about inserting magical elements into a romantic comedy world, why couldn't I flip that and insert romantic comedy elements into a (literal) fantasy world? I thought I had something different planned for the aftermath of what happened to Katie at the end of No Quest, but that ended up being the set-up that was necessary for this to happen. It also gave me a chance to revisit the romantic relationship. That mostly happened in the background of all the saving the world stuff, and it happened maybe more quickly than I'd originally imagined, since I didn't know how many books I'd get to write. This situation gave me the chance to go back to the beginning and focus on it for a while. I also love the idea that if two people are really suited for each other, they'll be suited for each other no matter what the circumstances are. All they have to do is find each other again, and then the same things they always loved about each other will still be there.
It was fun throwing my characters into a When Harry Met Sally/You've Got Mail world, and even more fun once they came to realize that's what was happening. Genre awareness is used all the time in horror and science fiction, where the characters have seen enough movies to at least try to cope with the situation on that basis (the whole Scream franchise), but I don't think I've seen too many cases of a character coping with a situation because she knows what always happens in a romantic comedy.
Today has the potential to be really scary, since they're forecasting severe storms for the afternoon. After seeing yesterday's devastation in Oklahoma, that's even more frightening. With us, it's likely to be high winds and hail, with the high winds blowing the hail horizontally, and there I'm fortunate that my townhouse is on the "safe" side of the building away from the direction the storms will be coming from. Still, it will be hard to get the images from Oklahoma out of my head when the winds kick in. I spent my childhood not too far from there, and I've never seen anything like it.
Meanwhile, I had my own scare as I was watching the news coverage about Oklahoma last night. There was a loud thud from outside. I went out to the patio to check on what it could be. It came from the area where the cabinet holding the water heater is, so I was worried that the water heater had failed. Unfortunately, I've been having issues with that cabinet door. The door is rotted through, and it won't shut all the way. I turned in a maintenance request on that more than a year ago, but the HOA decided to table that repair. The hinges are also messed up, and trying to fully shut the door pulls them out of the wall. I figured it was potentially an emergency, so I sprayed WD-40 on the hinges and forced the door open so I could see inside. The water heater was okay, but the drywall in the ceiling had fallen in, and that's the sound I heard. The online maintenance request system allows you to leave comments for work orders, so I added a snarky note about how much money they saved by tabling that maintenance request, since the door being stuck ajar meant that the interior was exposed to the elements, and now they're going to have to put in a new ceiling. I had a response first thing this morning, and they're sending someone by to look at it. At least this one is on the HOA, not a repair I have to deal with.
But the adrenaline rush from that bit of excitement meant I was finally able to stay up late enough to finish reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Really, this is a book best read in one sitting -- a good rainy Saturday book -- because it weaves a spell and I think it would be wonderful to remain immersed in it for hours. Unfortunately, I had to read it in bits and pieces before I went to bed at night. It's difficult to describe the plot because this is a more "literary" fantasy novel that's more about ideas and atmosphere than story. Basically, there are two magicians who have very different philosophies on how to do magic. They have a running contest going on in which they each select a student, train that student, then have those students compete against each other. This seems to have been going on for centuries. The latest contest, starting during the Victorian era, plays out in a mysterious circus, where the young man and young woman who are competing create all kinds of wonders. The problem is that they don't really want to compete. They want to work together, and they fall in love. But the contest doesn't end until one of them is dead, and the circus is linked to them.
For me, the main appeal was the imagery of the circus. I want to go there so badly. It's only open from sunset to sunrise. Everything is black or white, and there's all kinds of magical stuff happening, so it's like going through a dream. The circus builds up a group of fans who follow the circus around the world, and the fans attend wearing all black and white so they can feel like they fit in, but with one red accessory to acknowledge that they aren't really part of the circus. I'd kind of like to see a movie based on this book, just to see what imagery they might use to bring the circus to life, but I'm not sure even the best special effects houses could outdo my imagination. The plot might be difficult to film, though, because it follows a couple of different timelines and jumps around until they converge. That would be confusing on film, but I think the story would lose something if told chronologically.
Anyway, stock up on caramel corn and hot cocoa, wear black with a red accessory and let yourself be immersed for the best experience. Then you'll want to go to a circus -- something more like Cirque du Soleil than Ringling Brothers.
I had a productive and busy weekend. Thanks to those who contributed to the Keep Shanna's House Functioning Fund, and I hope you enjoyed your "thank you gift." I now have a working ceiling fan, garbage disposal and kitchen sink. The garage door opener is functioning but needs some professional maintenance. I also have a new doorbell that just requires a little bit of additional hardware. I'm now amazed at how long I went with these things not really working properly. I'm having to break a lot of habits, like re-learning to use both sides of the kitchen sink. I'm afraid I'm a little too good at adapting and getting used to a situation, to the point I don't feel all that moved to correct it. That explains why the contents of my office are spread out on the loft or piled up to the side. I just got used to something that was supposed to be temporary. I need to do something like set a timer and work on the office for a little bit each day until it's done. If I see steady progress and things change enough not to get used to it, that may help keep me going.
I had several hours worth of choir stuff on Saturday, then a double-length service, luncheon and retirement celebration for my pastor on Sunday. So it's my typical Monday lament of needing a weekend to recover from my weekend.
I did have some fun on Friday in seeing the new Star Trek film. I'm still not totally on board with the Star Trek reboot. I'd have preferred them to do new stories in that universe about different characters rather than re-doing the familiar (and iconic) characters. These mostly play to me as space action movies, not Star Trek movies. This one was a fun action film, but to me it came across as a parody of Star Trek, done in the style of an action movie, with lots of little inside jokes. Most of the inside jokes were funny or were amusing winks to the more devoted Trek fans in the audience, but there was a big callback in a major scene that just about ruined the movie for me. No spoilers, but making the big emotional climax of your film be essentially an inside joke just doesn't work. I think I was supposed to be deeply moved, but instead I was giggling hysterically as I acted out the scene along with the actors because I knew exactly how it would go, in spite of having never seen this movie before. When your core audience can quote the dialogue verbatim before it happens, you've got problems.
Then there was the season finale of Doctor Who, which actually validated one of my (many) theories about what was going on, but I still need to wrap my head around it.
Now to go put my house back to normal from all the things I had to move to do the repairs, and then I want to write.
It's book release day, though this one has been trickling out, since we got it early to some of the places that are usually slow, but they got it out early this time, but then the places that usually allow pre-orders didn't this time. At any rate, the Kindle and Nook versions seem to be available, but for some reason Amazon isn't linking the Kindle and paperback versions as though they're one book, so you have to search the Kindle store specifically to get the Kindle version. Just searching the title doesn't give the Kindle version (at least, last time I checked). Here's the direct Kindle link.
I'm celebrating book release day by going to see the new Star Trek movie and then doing some home repairs with a friend. Actually, I think he'll be doing the repairs and I'll be acting as scrub nurse and handing him tools. To add to my list of problems, something has broken in my garage door opener -- not the more complicated electrical part, just a part that attaches the chain belt to the door itself. The Home Depot guys were baffled when I showed them a picture of the problem part because apparently my opener is an antique that's older than they are. We'll have to see if we can find a way to fix the broken part. That will likely require creative problem solving. Otherwise, I'll just have to replace the whole system, which would be a huge pain.
Proceeds from sales of the new book will go to the Keep Shanna's House Functioning Fund.
I need to learn to do more of these electrical and plumbing type repairs. I can do stuff like drywall, painting and minor carpentry, thanks to Habitat for Humanity, but they didn't let me play with the more complicated stuff.
Speaking of painting, who knew there were so many shades of pale blue? I still haven't picked a color for the downstairs bathroom. I thought I had it narrowed down, but then found a new card or two of samples yesterday that I will have to peruse and check against my existing blue items.
We had a bit of excitement last night with a big batch of storms in the area. I was fortunate to just get a lot of rain and lightning, but southwest of here there were a lot of major tornadoes. I spent the evening watching the coverage and the radar on TV while knitting furiously.
All the network programming was pre-empted for storm coverage, which meant we had an extended episode of Stupid Reporter Tricks. The weather guy was good at giving updates, showing the radar, and telling which areas should be taking shelter. Then they got news crews on the scene in the areas that got hit by the tornadoes, and things got silly. It was still the immediate aftermath, the storm was still ongoing (lots of rain, wind, thunder and lightning). It was dark and power was out. First responders were still trying to get to the affected areas to do house-to-house searches for people trapped in the rubble. No one had much clue about what was going on because everyone other than the first responders was supposed to be staying in shelter, and the first responders were busy. And meanwhile, there were storms still going on throughout the region that people probably needed to be kept updated about. But they still had to do live shots, in spite of having nothing to say. One crew was stuck at a church where they took shelter when they got caught in another wave of storms, and the church people were still there after being caught there during a Bible study when the tornado hit. For lack of anything better to do, the reporter started interviewing people at the church. She asked one lady, "Doesn't it break your heart to see this devastation?"
It's a very good thing I wasn't being interviewed. My snark levels climb off the charts when I'm upset. I probably would have replied with something like, "Objection! Leading the witness." Or maybe, "Well, my house is fine, so actually I'm good." Or perhaps a "What kind of question is that? Where did you go to journalism school? Didn't they teach you to ask open-ended questions instead of getting people to confirm the words you put in their mouths?" Most likely it would have been a scathing, "Seriously?" If anyone being interviewed live ever answered like that, I'd probably start a cult around them. And while we were getting this breaking news that tornado devastation is sad, there was another storm heading right toward me on the radar, and no one was saying anything about how serious it was.
Fortunately, the storms held off for me until after choir, so we got to have our final children's choir program. My kids were beyond adorable, and people seemed to like my crazy choreography. The mom who usually records it hasn't posted a link, so I don't have it to show off, but trust me, kindergarteners attempting a kick line is probably one of the funniest things you'll see all week.
Today, I hope to get started writing what I hope will end up being a short, palate-cleansing project. If it turns into a full novel, I'm doomed.
Tonight, though, is the finale of The Office. I may need tissues because the previous episode got me a little teary-eyed. I will admit that I'm kind of hoping that at some point we'll hear the "Vrorp Vrorp" sound from the parking lot and Nellie will jump up and run outside. (In case you weren't aware, Nellie on The Office is played by Catherine Tate, who played the wonderful Donna on Doctor Who, and Nellie definitely has her Donna moments.) In my head, that's what will happen to her, even if we don't see it.
I spent much of yesterday playing with a new story idea that came to me a couple of weeks ago. I don't think it will turn out to be novel-length, maybe novella-length, but I can never tell. It may explode. I'm not sure what I'd do with a novella. This doesn't seem like the sort of thing that will get much traction with most of the short fiction markets for fantasy, unless a themed anthology just happens to pop up at just the right time. It might just be something to put out as a cheap e-book to use as marketing and keep my name out there between releases. We'll see after I write it.
Developing a new story idea has reminded me of a question I get asked often by aspiring writers, whether I think of myself as plot-driven or character-driven. Get a bunch of authors together, and this discussion will often come up, with various value judgments about which is better implied in the discussion. Which is considered superior depends on which group you're talking to. Among romance authors, "character-driven" is generally considered better because it's supposedly deeper and more emotional, but in fantasy, science fiction and mystery, authors are praised for masterful plotting, with good characterization a bonus.
Really, though, I'm not sure it matters or if it's something that can be judged from the outside. The process doesn't necessarily show in the results, and a good genre novel needs to have both engaging characters and a well-developed plot (literary fiction has other expectations). When I hear from readers about my books, it's almost all about how much they love my characters, but my process is usually very plot-driven, where I first come up with the major events of the story and then create characters. There's a lot of back-and-forth, though, where I may have an idea of what the major plot problem will be, and then I'll think of the main cast of characters who'll be needed, and then I'll develop more of the plot, and then I'll flesh out the major characters, and then the specific steps of the plot develop based on who those characters are and the kinds of choices those people would make.
I do occasionally have a character in mind and fit a story around that person, but that's much more difficult to do. In the story I just started developing, I had the whole story outlined before I even started looking at who the characters were because it's the sort of thing where the types of characters were what mattered to the plot. The personalities came later, and I'm sure that will shape how I write the plot events, though it probably won't change the major events. If I do it right, it will yet again be a case of readers loving my characters, and they won't notice or care that the characters were secondary in the development of the story.
The bottom line is to write in a way that works for you and for the story you're telling without worrying about fitting into some mold or doing things in a way that's considered "better" by other writers. If you do it right, no one will be able to tell based on the results.
For once, the paperback version of a book will be available at the same time as the e-book. In fact, you can order the paperback of Kiss and Spell from Amazon now, so you might get it within a few days of the official release date. There were some kinks with getting the pre-order of the e-book available, but we're working on that. It will definitely be available from the major retailers Friday, but apparently they changed their pre-order policies without telling anyone, and getting them to tell what their new policies are is something of a challenge. I think we have to answer some riddles and find some sacred chalice or other that's being guarded by a dragon.
If I ever become such a bestseller that people are begging to publish my books, I may have to make that my policy, where they have to answer riddles and carry out a quest in order to win the rights. How people like Stephen King have resisted that urge is beyond me. After all the struggles I've had with publishers and having to jump through their hoops, there's a part of me that's dying to go all "Dance, monkey, dance!" once I get some clout. Though that's probably more something I'd fantasize about. In reality, it would just be drawing a few contractual lines in the sand and being willing to walk if they won't give in. I imagine that's what Stephen King does, though we don't know what dark rituals he forces his editors to perform for his amusement. There's probably a non-disclosure agreement involved.
Now for some recent reading. I've been on a relatively traditional fantasy kick lately.
There was Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed, which is a classic sword-and-sorcery type story in an unconventional setting -- a vaguely Middle Eastern fantasy world. Someone with great power is raising armies of ghuls to do their bidding, and if they get their hands on the throne, there's gonna be real trouble. The task of finding and facing this villain falls on the elderly ghul hunter who'd really just like to retire and his overly gung-ho (and a wee bit self-righteous) young assistant who handles the "sword" part of the equation. I kept seeing this in my head as a Saturday matinee movie with special effects by Ray Harryhausen. The world building is fun, and I liked the unconventional characters, like having an elderly hero in a swashbuckling adventure.
And then another Patricia McKillip book, In the Forests of Serre, which read like a fairy tale. I recognized fairy tale elements within the story, but they all came together to create a new story with original characters. A power-mad king demands that the princess of a neighboring kingdom marry his son (or else he'll take control of his neighbor in a more violent way). His son's not all that keen on it, having been recently widowed and still so heartbroken that he has little interest in life. An unfortunately encounter with a witch in the woods leaves the prince wandering and lost, which messes up the wedding plans, and there's an unscrupulous wizard eager to take advantage of that. There's a dreamlike quality to this book in that it feels very familiar from all the fairy tale elements, yet because it's its own story, it's not familiar. I liked the main characters a lot and loved the way they worked toward their happy endings. I've loved everything of McKillip's that I've read, so I suspect I'm about to go on a major glom and read it ALL.
I had a productive weekend, and my hands really show it. I dug up weeds, vines and a layer of lava rocks that turned out to be below the top surface of soil at the end of the patio in the little area between the end of the slab and the fence, then I set out stepping stones and filled in all the gaps with pebbles. The stones have sharp edges, so I have a lot of little cuts all over my hands and arms. That should take care of the Evil Alien Vines in that area. I dug up some roots that were as big around as my thumb. I have one I need to cut, but I don't have a powerful enough cutting tool (like a hatchet). I also threw out the old patio table and set up the new one with the new umbrella base. I still have some cleaning to do on the patio to get rid of leaves and vines, and I need to cut back the vines so I can start training the new growth up some wire trellises. I think I also need some flowers now. There's a lot more space on the patio with the new table. Once I was done working, I spent an enjoyable half hour or so sitting on the patio with a cup of tea and a book.
We'll see how long this whole domestic urge thing lasts. I think I may go back to the office organization project today, but I also need to clean the downstairs before a new story idea hits me and I get sidetracked by writing. My goal this week is to take care of a lot of around-the-house tasks and then get back to writing next week. I have things cooking in my head that should be about ready to come out by next week. One isn't my originally planned project, but it's a short one that I may have some use for in the near future.
In the meantime, I have release week stuff to do, like approve NetGalley requests and review proofs for the hard copy.
On a related note, if you sign up as a reviewer at NetGalley and are not with an actual media organization, your bio and links are key to getting books. I'm looking for reviewers with an established book blog with a decent readership, or at least something that looks pretty professional with some kind of plan or focus. Just saying you'll post reviews to Amazon and Goodreads doesn't cut it. Although Goodreads activity is nice, you need to give me a little more, like a number of followers, a position running a book group, etc. If you want to guarantee you don't get approved for review copies, write a bio like "I love to read and can never get enough books." That translates to "give me free books."
The web site should now be more or less up to date. There's an excerpt of the opening of the new book. I may do some more tweaks in the coming days as buy links come up. Pre-orders should become available for Amazon and Apple early next week, for those who want to have the book automatically appear on release day. It's also possible that the paperback via Amazon will be available around release day, but I'm not holding my breath because things there have a fun way of getting messed up. We've got all the pieces together for that to happen, so it's up to them being able to pull off their end of things.
I don't know why I put off the web site updates for so long. It went on the list of things I procrastinate about until it reaches a point of dread, for no apparent reason. I was all geared up to spend the day working on it, then finished in maybe an hour.
In other news, I've recently noticed a trend that I heartily approve of: the return of the waistcoat in men's fashion. Or at least on TV. I don't really follow fashion, and I don't know too many men who care much about being in style (most of my friends are geeks), so I don't know if this is a real-world thing, but it's showing up on TV a lot lately, much to my delight. There's just something about a trim man in a waistcoat. Last night, Sherlock was wearing a buttoned up waistcoat and white shirt on Elementary. David (aka Prince Charming) was wearing one this week on Once Upon a Time (and it was a scene in our world, not a fairy tale land flashback). The Doctor has added a waistcoat to his wardrobe this season on Doctor Who, worn with bowtie and frock coat, but a couple of episodes ago, he was in shirtsleeves with the waistcoat, and I really liked that look. On Haven last season, a waistcoat became part of Nathan's "really, I'm the police chief now" look, worn with necktie and sometimes a blazer, but with jeans for those messy crime scenes.
I'm not sure it's a look every man can pull off. You kind of have to be built like Matt Smith or Lucas Bryant -- tall, able to hide behind a flagpole -- to really work it . It doesn't work if the buttons strain or the shirt peeks out from underneath. On a skinny guy, the waistcoat accentuates the slim waist while adding a little needed bulk to the torso. Plus, it just gives that classy gentleman look.
I was just thinking of how I'll have to start writing these into my work, but since I've been writing steampunk, I suppose I already have. Maybe that's why this appeals to me. Then again, it may also have something to do with my Overgrown Manchild aversion. It's nice to see men dressed like grown-ups instead of like fratboys. I'm a big fan of suits, in general, and adding the waistcoat/vest ramps it up a notch.
If I were a good blogger, I'd go find photos to embed for visual aids, but I know better than to even start going down that rabbit hole of searching for images. I'd never emerge, and I have stuff to do today, like a trip to the library and to Home Depot so I can set up my patio.