Deborah Crombie’s Necessary As Blood

I finished Deborah Crombie’s Necessary As Blood on the bus today–it was a fabulous read, that kept me up too late for a couple of nights–and as I was finishing it, I realized one of the things I like about the series, in addition to the ones I’d discovered originally: I like the relationships between the characters. Not just Gemma and Duncan, and their children, but the ones they have with their coworkers and friends, and the relationships those people have with each other. I also read the books to see how those relationships develop, to see what happens next.

Realizing that tonight made me realize that I love the same thing in my two guilty-pleasure TV shows, NCIS and Bones, and it’s one of the many things I loved about Battlestar Galactica. I’m not sure this has any meaning for my writing, but I suspect it does. I know that I’m interested in the connections my characters have with each other. There’s a line in U2’s great song, One: “We get to carry each other.” I think that’s true; I think we carry each other through our friendships. Maybe that’s something I need to hold in mind as I keep scribbling away.

Book Tiredness

One of the best things in the world is a book you can’t put down. But, sometimes, it’s also one of the worst things in the world.

I’m about halfway through Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones, and it’s causing me no end of trouble. Every night, I settle down with it, promising myself I’ll put it down at 10:30 so I’ll be asleep at a reasonable hour. Every night, I look up and it’s after 11:00. Add to that the sun is rising shortly after 5:00 AM, the light waking me before 6:00, and we’re talking inadequate sleep.

It’s been so long since I had so many consecutive days without enough sleep that I’d completely forgotten how awful it is. I need to remember how miserable I feel right now–tired, achy, just all around bleah–the next time I look at the clock and think, “Five more minutes.”

December 7, 2008: The More Things Stay the Same

I’m on a bit of a Lincoln-as-writer tear — I finished Garry Wills’s Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America this morning. It’s an excellent book, but I suspect I’m inclined to like any book that explores, in detail, the beauty of Lincoln’s writing.

But that’s not where I’m going with this.

Wills quotes rather extensively from Hugh Blair’s Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres — he says Blair “was still the respected expositor of rhetoric in Lincoln’s time.” A couple of quotes made me smile in recognition. One is, “The first rule which I shall give for promoting the strength of a sentence is to prune it of all redundant words.” Today, we might say, “Omit needless words,” but the idea is the same, even across a gap of over 200 years.

The other passage made me smile because it tells me that one of my worst problems is not mine alone: “For we may rest assured that, whenever we express ourselves ill, there is, besides the mismanagement of language for the most part, some mistake in our manner of conceiving the subject. Embarrassed, obscure and feeble sentences are generally, if not always, the result of embarrassed, obscure and feeble thought.” My writing is always a mess when I don’t know what I want to say, when it’s not clear to me what I’m trying to accomplish, proof of Blair’s point.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Still With the Bohemians: August 30, 2008

As I said yesterday, Among the Bohemians is going to take me a few days to read, but it’ll be an enjoyable few days.

The author, Virginia Nicholson, is the daughter of Quentin Bell, who was himself the son of Vanessa Bell and the nephew of Virginia Woolf, Bohemians all. Nicholson writes about her father in the course of the book, sometimes as “Quentin Bell” and sometimes as “my father”. My sense is that she uses ‘my father’ when describing things she saw or experienced herself, and ‘Quentin Bell’ for things that come from her other sources.

It’s a very good book — I highly recommend it to anyone interested in social history, or generally interested in well-written non-fiction.

The Road to Hell…

We all know what that’s paved with — I could pave a superhighway there and back.

As I said before, you know I’ve been reading because I can’t not read. I’ve been reading some good stuff, too. I’m about 40 pages from the end of Jessica Andersen’s debut single-title, Nightkeepers. I can’t better the description provided on Jess’s website, “According to the Mayan doomsday prophecy, time ends on December 21, 2012. In Nightkeepers, the last king of an ancient race of magi must team up with a sexy Miami-Dade narcotics detective in order to reunite his scattered warriors and fight the gods of the Mayan underworld. Wielding ancestral blood magic, the king must choose between his duty to avert the 2012 apocalypse and his love for the woman who is the gods’ destined sacrifice.” It’s been very hard to put down, and it’s made lengthy bus rides fly by. The next book in the series comes out in six months; I can’t wait.

Another book I’m waiting six months for is the final volume in Nora Roberts’ Sign of Seven trilogy, The Pagan Stone. On impulse, I borrowed the first volume, Blood Brothers, from the library, and then I liked it and the story so much that I couldn’t wait to borrow the second volume — I went right out and bought it the next day.

Between Andersen and Roberts, I read Loretta Chase’s newest book, Your Scandalous Ways. I love it, but of course I would: there isn’t a Loretta Chase romance that I don’t love.

I had an interesting experience reading Julia Ross’s Clandestine, another impulse check-out from the library, but I want to talk about that in a separate post once my thoughts settle a little more. And later I’ll also post what I have out from the library.