Sunday, August 26, 2012

I interrupt your regularly scheduled brodcast to bring you ANOUNCEMENTS

I have a few very important announcements to share, so pardon me as I interrupt your regularly scheduled broadcast with a un-scheduled post.


I'm being hosted by Jeff Harget of Strands of a Pattern today, in his August is Awesome tour. I was amazed when he asked me as it was my first ever request to be a guest blogger somewhere, and I was a bit like, wait, you want me? Are you sure your not confusing me with someone else? I mean Abis is a really common last name, right?

The second bit of news is:

Assuming nothing has gone wrong between when I am writing this and when I wake up tomorrow morning. I am now employed!!!

I am working for an international development non profit (FHI360) doing grant and funding research and data base management type stuff. I'm really excited for this job. Alot of it comes from the fact that it's a job, and the rest comes from the fact that I really liked everyone I interviewed with, which makes me think this is going to be a fun and interesting place to work. (PLUS there kitchen was stocked with multiple kinds of tea).

The third bit of news is:

I'm becoming a semi regular contributor to Never To Fond of Books with Mandi Kaye, who I met at BEA at the Bloggers Conference. We clicked pretty instantly and when she mentioned she needed help on her blog I offered to help out. I'm aiming for a post a weekend but I've not been all that awesome about it.

Fourth (and something I went back and forth on sharing with you guys)

I have an appointment to get a tattoo on Tuesday. I've wanted the same thing, in the same place since I was fourteen years old, so I figure now, when so many things are going right, would be a perfect time to get it.

But because not everything can be good news, I have had some things go wrong the past couple of days. One, my severance check from my old job bounced, so I am broker than broke, especially cause I'm heading down to Dragon Con in a few days and was kinda counting on that money for the trip. And my car battery died (not died as in I left a light on, but died died, DEA dead died). so I'm gonna have to replace that. But really, those are just minor things in the world of things getting lots better.

So go check out my post over at Strands of a Pattern. And go check out Never To Fond of Books! And wish me luck on my first day of work.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

On Revisiting Classics: The changing (or not) face of epic fantasy.

Because I'm feeling lazy, I'm re-posting my guest post from Never Too Fond of Books. Which if you havent checked out you should. I'm gonna be a regular contributer there.

Like many people, J.R.R. Tolkin was my introduction to adult fiction. I had been reading for a really long time, but up until the point when my father gave me his old copy of The Fellowship of the Ring, my favorite books were the Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C Wrede (still some of my favorite books to this day). The thing is, way back fourteen years ago, when I first read Tolkin I loved it. I was totally engrossed in the story, and I think I finished all three books plus some of the appendices in two weeks.

Then I went on to some other fantasy novels. Like Raymond E Feist Rift War Saga/Serpent War Saga, which became my favorite books through high school and the beginning of college. In college I found myself more surrounded by literary novels. Margret Atwood, the Secret History by Donna Taft, Catch 22, found their way onto my bookshelf and into my heart. Of course I can't forget Harry Potter, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norwell, Neil Gaiman and the wide variety of Historical Fiction I found myself reading. Yet I always called myself a fan of Fantasy.

After college my literary interests continued to span a broad range of topics. I picked up Christopher Moore for the first time (and there is a great picture of us somewhere). Continued to read anything by some of my favorite writers I could find, and what was suggested to me by others; how I first heard of Hunger Games, among others. And I discovered a lot of writers that I'd quite happily avoid forever (George RR Martin, C.S Freeman)

It wasn't until I read Brian Sandersons  Mistborn series, which started out really entertaining and took a turn to the why am I reading this. And  Patrick Rothfuss's The Name of the Wind, which reminded me why I love Fantasy novels (and the English language) in the first place. That I decided to go back to my roots (and I'm not talking about a road trip to Georgia). Earlier this year I re-read the Rift War and the Serpent War Saga. I re-read the Enchanted Forest Chronicles. And I just started re-reading the Lord of the Rings.
What I can say (and at this point your probably wondering what's the point) is that I'm surprised. See, between the last time that I read the Lord of the Rings, probably sometime before the Fellowship Movie came out, and now, I've read a lot of other Fiction, and a lot of time has passed. And a great deal of the Lord of the Rings books feel like info dumps, and eons of text  which is full of interesting descriptions but lacks anything resembling pace, and very little dialogue, while the dialogue that's there feels like it's from another time. Which frankly it is.

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of going to a summer time tradition in the DC area, called Jazz in the Garden (it's exactly what it sounds like) with Michael and Robin Sullivan. Now if you're wondering why those names sound familiar it's probably because Michael is the author of the Riyria Revelations Trilogy recently published by Orbit, and Robin, his wife, runs Ridan a small independent publishing company. If you ever want to have an idea what or where the publishing world is going, I wouldn't over estimate a pitcher of Sangria this couple, and sitting back and shutting up. At this particular occasion Robin and Michael were arguing over a fantasy book Robin liked and wanted to pick up. Michael didn't.

Michaels complaints had nothing to do with the plot, but everything to do with the writing. (And I really wish I remembered the title of the book in question). His theory (or at least my drunken understanding of his theory) is that as readers we deserve more than a good story, with a good plot. We need to enjoy the reading of the story, the writing of the story, the journey, as much as the story itself. That in a way, epic fantasy novels have become stagnated in the 1950's.

To be honest I'm not sure what I think about this. When I read books like The Black Sun Rising, or When True Night Falls by C.S. Friedman, where the world is more important than the characters, and I have to slog through hundreds of pages of world building and info dumps. Or Brian Sandersons Mistborn (which I will say Michael liked, although he didn't read the entire series) which starts out by working the world building into the story, but doesn't stop when the reader gets it (he is a classic example of beating us over the head with a magic system), I feel like agreeing with Michael. Other notorious culprits are R.A. Salvatore, Tad Williams, and George RR Martin (no offence intended to any of those authors), and books which I will not name which read basically like glorified Tolkin fan fic.

Now I'm not intending to imply that authors of epic fantasy are too lazy to write well, I'm merely attempting to point out a trend in the genre (or wondering out loud if one exists like love triangles in YA fiction). And wondering if the reason epic fantasy hasn't changed is because the writers fall into such a niche market that the readers practically demand pages upon pages of archaic prose that their mind warps to reading. Or it could be that epic fantasy remains a niche market because writers write this way, and are fans of their own genre in which other writers write this way, and change has become practically impossible because we are so stuck on what has been done before us.  But then I come back to authors like Rothfuss who I've filed his books on my bookshelf under literary fiction vs epic fantasy because the writing is just too good. Or to some degree Sanderson, who if you read just one book on its own doesn't appear to have the classic epic fantasy flaws. And I wonder, are we breaking the cycle?

I also wonder if the reason YA novels, and thriller novels (or fast paced urban fantasy novels like Kevin Hearne or Jaye Wells) are so popular because they are easier to read, and perhaps if epic fantasy will change some of the way it tells a story will it no longer become a niche market, and if that happens, will it still be epic fantasy? And if that does happen, is it a good thing?

As you can tell, I wonder a lot. I hope you enjoyed my first guest post. Sorry it was so long. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


I've never understood the phrase "Pull yourself up by your bootstraps" cause presumably your bootstraps should be on your feet, and really, even if your laying down, it would do you little to no good to try to stand up by pulling on your feet. Maybe if you took your boots off and used them like grappling hooks it might make sense, although that would involve several more steps than pulling.

It's always kind of unnerved me that the saying implies you can get out a bad situation by hard work through comparing it to an impossible task. It's almost as obnoxious as water cups the size of shot glasses. But really, what's that saying. Hard work is a lot but it might not ever get you anywhere without help? Maybe that's why Henry Hoovers policies were so unpopular after the beginning of the great depression.

Wish I could say I was getting anywhere by pulling on my own bootstraps, although I get the distinct feeling I'm pulling myself around in circles. Lately I've had some sever difficulty focusing, and I'm beginning to think I need a proper technology break.  Like me, my backpack, woods and my cell phone turned off and stashed somewhere. Either that or go back to my doctor an get a prescription for Aderol. Although that's not necessarily true.  I was able to finish an entire (short) book this weekend.

It might be more accurate to say that I'm getting frustrated with my job search. You see, thus far the only people who have asked me in for an interview have been pyramid schemes and door to door sales jobs. No offence to anyone that goes door to door, it's just well, I'd rather move home and live in my parents basemet before I take a job like that. The issue with job searching is that there is often little or no return on effort. I call and email and apply, and hear nothing. Which leaves me feeling like I'm spinning in circles and getting no where (which you don't when you spin in circles).

I have to some degree kept myself busy though. I am now going to be guest contributing to Never to Fond of Books. Hopefully my first post will be up this weekend, and it's about the evolution (or lack thereof) of Epic Fantasy...aka why I don't like Game of Thrones (poorly written and predictable).

Here's to hoping that pulling on my bootstraps don't end up with my foot in my mouth. And that I find a job soon before I go insane, or run out of money.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Forgive me I'm Drunk. An Insecure Writers Group Post.

It's Wednesday. And more specifically its the first Wednesday of the month. Which makes it time for Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Group Post.

Some of you that are regulars might have noticed I've not been posting all that regularly lately. And I haven't. Lately it would be a stretch to say I've been insecure, I've just been down right depressed. Normally I would   try to give myself a pep talk and say push threw these negitive emotions and get your self back on your feet. But right now, laying down and giving up seems rather easy (and this is not a suicide referance) that might be cause I'm currently a little bit drunk, or it might be cause I'm a little bit tired.

Let me outline the last two weeks for you.

I got laid off from my job. A job I loved at a company that I'd work with for approximately five years. Why? Restructuring. What does that mean? I don't know.

They had to put my horse down. He wasn't really my horse but he was the last horse I trained before I moved to DC for the above mentioned job.

I've been on a couple interviews, three to be exact, with three pyramid schemes.

Today my car's been towed. Which if you combine with the concerns about money really make it a shitty month.

So yeah. I'm not insecure. I just have no confidence in myself right now. And too much stress to focus on getting some. So if it's okay with you, I'm going to take a day or a week, or maybe two and wallow in self pitty from the flat of my back. And although I'm not interested in that kinda thing, its a great view to upskirt girls.

Forgive me. I'm drunk.