October 2nd, 2012

Books

At a Loss for Books

The new book seems to be a bit of a success. The last time I checked, it was on three category bestseller lists at Amazon. Unfortunately, Barnes & Noble still isn't selling it. Memo to B&N: If you want the Nook to be able to compete with the Kindle, you need to make books available on release day. They had the files at the right time. They just haven't put it up for sale on their site. This is something I'll keep in mind when deciding what e-reader I'll eventually get.

I think I'm going to celebrate the new release by replacing my dishwasher and garbage disposal. I've survived more than a year without a dishwasher, and hand washing dishes isn't so bad, but the bad garbage disposal means that side of the sink is no longer draining well, and that makes doing dishes something of a challenge. If I'm going to replace one of the appliances and have to get it installed, I may as well replace both and get them both installed at once. Then I started calculating, and I figure that based on the amount of time it takes me to hand wash dishes every week and my usual writing pace, if I were writing instead of washing dishes, I could have the first draft of a book in three months of dish-washing time, and that could more than pay for a dishwasher. Not that I necessarily would have spent that time writing, but I know me well enough to know that if I rationalize the purchase that way, I'll make a point of trying to spend that time writing. I already know that the number one way to totally maximize my productivity (other than cutting off my Internet connection for the day) is to decline an invitation because I need to write -- especially if I'm mostly using writing as an excuse. Then I seem driven to prove that I'm not just using it as an excuse. Some of my most productive writing weekends or evenings have come when I used that instead of "I need to wash my hair" to decline a date with someone I didn't really want to go out with. Not that it's just an excuse every time I say I need to write. When I'm on deadline, I'll pass up things I really want to do because the work has to be a priority, and not having bosses leaning over me doesn't make my work any less urgent or important. As I sometimes tell people, if you had an important project going on at work, would you be able to just take off for the afternoon if your friends wanted to do something?

But enough about my books. I want to talk about someone else's. I mentioned that I discovered Alex Bledsoe's Eddie LaCrosse series at WorldCon. I found the first book in that series, The Sword-Edged Blonde, and I think I liked it even better than the later one I read first. There's an interesting parallel plot going on, as the latest case forces Eddie to revisit his past because there are some eerie similarities to something he's seen before. As he retraces his steps, the story goes back and forth between his present adventure and the previous adventure from years ago. There are still some jolting anachronisms in this blend of hard-boiled detective and sword and sorcery fantasy, like a character talking about knowing how to play the piano (that's a 19th century term), but I don't think we're supposed to be looking too closely at the worldbuilding, other than spotting the hardboiled detective tropes in this fantasy world. These are really quick, fast-paced reads that are a lot of fun. I think people who like the Dresden Files series would like this one because there's a similar tone, although much less emphasis on magic (our hero has no magical powers) and a different setting.

And now I seem to find myself at something of a loss for reading material because I'm not sure what I want to read next. I just read an old chick lit book I picked up at the library book sale because I was in the mood for something light. It ended up being better than I expected from the beginning, but still isn't something I'm sure I'd recommend (and I suspect it's way out of print, anyway). I wouldn't mind finding a really good chick lit book where the heroine acts like a rational human being instead of a nitwit -- no getting into wacky situations because she's ridiculously drunk, no going insane trying to get back the boyfriend who's left her. I'll admit I did that "I'll get him back!" thing, but it was my first serious boyfriend when I was 20. By the time a woman's in her 30s, I'd hope that she'd have come around to the realization that him not wanting to be with her is a dealbreaker.

But I think what I really want right now is a traditional but not epic fantasy -- medieval type setting, some magic and adventure, but not the Game of Thrones style massive cast of characters and huge big-picture plot. More Katherine Kurtz than George RR Martin. Something like a caper, quest or adventure story where the story focuses on one or, at most, two small groups of characters so that we get to spend a lot of time getting to know the characters and seeing their interactions while they deal with plot stuff. I reread all of Rachel Aaron's Eli Monpress books while I was sick, and that series fits the bill, but I want more like that. Unfortunately, putting "traditional but not epic" into the search box at the library site or at Amazon doesn't do much good. I also wouldn't mind a "sucked through a portal" fantasy in which a modern person ends up in a medieval fantasy-style world and the story focuses on that person's impressions. Any suggestions?