More links for your enjoyment (or I’m actually doing some writing for once so I’ll just cut and paste here…)

Too much to do lately, but I can say without a doubt, that this revision of “She’s All Light” will be the absolute, positive last revision. Doggone it.

In the meantime, enjoy these links:

A couple of good stories I’ve come across and decided to pass on: The King of Elfland’s Daughter by Barbara Gordon can be found at the Spring 2007 volume of Coyote Wild. I don’t remember how I came across it, but it has a feisty little black girl as one of the main characters, so I quite enjoyed it. The cool thing about online mags is that their content can stick around forever, so if you like a story, you can easily go into their back catalog to read their other stories.

Podcastle has been doing animal fable shorts from Peter S. Beagle. These bite-sized stories are fun to listen to. My particular favorite: The Fable of the Ostrich. It was a very nice African folktale-flavored read after Anansi Boys. For some more culture goodness, this time Japanese-flavored, check out the story that comes after: The Tanuki-Kettle. A very sweet tale indeed.

And speaking of podcasts, Adventures in SciFi Publishing has a good interview with Elizabeth Bear. Just from the sound of her laughter along, I would love to just hang out with her. The email they read after the interview is good, too. Just don’t pay attention to the person who wrote it, though.

Short story writer Benjamin Rosenbaum is holding a derivative works contest based of his new book The Ant King and Other Stories. You can download the entire book for free at his website, or you can buy it from Amazon. It’s an interesting way of promoting a book, especially one that’s for free. I’m actually thinking about sending something, but I have to read the book first. Either way, it sounds intriguing.

And finally, something non-writing related. I listen to Eric and Kathy on the Mix in the mornings (praise the Lord for web radio), and the friend of Eric’s daughter was elected President of her second grade class. She recorded a message to the President Elect Barack Obama, and it is very thought-provoking. I highly suggest listening to it (and hey, it’s cute!).

Alright, enough from me. I need to get back to writing!

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And here’s a little something to make you think…

So my hubby and I are watching “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”, and towards the middle of the movie, this comes up:

 

Spooooooooooooky….

Book Review: Pomegranate Soup by Marsha Mehran

Pomegranate Soup follows in the footsteps of Chocolat, Babbette’s Feast and Like Water for Chocolate by melding food with story. However, this book is understandably darker, with possible exception for LWFC, in particular in dealing with the history of the Iranian sisters.

Three Iranian sisters, Marjan, Bahar, and Layla, take up residence in a small Ireland village to open a restaurant. They find opposition in Tom Maguire, who had hoped to use the restaurant for his own ambitious purposes, but also friendship, such as with their widowed landlady, Estelle Delmonico. Most of the dark action take place in the sisters’ past, and I found myself gripped with what happened there more than the idyllic, slow-life they now live in Ireland.

I think there could’ve been more. The book’s pretty slim at 222 pages, and while it tried to bring in the whimsy of Chocolat in its slow pace of the foreigners fitting into a harsh countryside, the girls’ past broke that idyllic past, making the book more dark than it should. And yet, I found the past story all the more compelling. Granted, it was nice to see all the characters with their own idiosyncrasies, but it felt like they didn’t get enough time to flesh them out. For instance, Estelle could have merited a whole chapter to herself. Why did she, an Italian immigrant wind up in Ireland? Why didn’t she go back when her husband died? What kept her there in the village when she was obviously miserable?

Also, while the girls’ past was compelling, I kept getting the feeling that Mehran was trying to bring in the same intensity with the village, but she couldn’t really push the envelope. She reached a certain level and then…wussed out. Like the entire character of Tom McGuire. He’s portrayed as a bully, but that’s all he really is–all blustery talk, but no real action. And when his son, Tom Junior, attacked Layla towards the end of the story, the story got really intense…then petered out. His actions afterwards was somewhat lame…in fact, he pretty much snuck out of the story altogether without any real resolution or confrontation. I felt somewhat cheated.

Layla’s romance with Malachy was sweet, but somewhat boring after a while. The ending was too neatly wrapped up in a positive way. As for the recipes, I actually found them distracting. At the beginning, it was fun to read them. But as we get to know more about the girls, they just got in the way and by the end, I was skipping over them altogether. They felt redundant because we get the same gist of the recipes within the text itself, with Marjan making most of the recipes.

Despite all this criticism, however, I did like reading it. The descriptions of the food had my mouth watering, and the sisters’  love for each other, despite their different temperaments, were nice to read. I wish that Mehran started the book in Iran instead of Ireland. She didn’t have to hide the girl’s story behind food and a sleepy village.

This gets 2 1/2 bowls of soup out of 5. Tasty, somewhat satisfying, but still leaving me hungry enough for the next course.

Light Reading for the Writing Mind

Well, after all the fun of the past couple of days, I’m wiped out. I’m sure the blogosphere is piled with pinings and victory speeches and declarations of death, doom and destruction. Me, I’m happy overall with the way things turned out. I’ll be doing a lot of praying for President Obama (squeee! what a neat thing to write!) and his family. Theirs will not be an easy road for the next few years.

In the meantime, here’s some light reading to get you through the next few days:

The Rose and Thorn has a hilarious feature called “An Author’s Guide to Cover Letters” by Resha Caner. Apparently, it’s a number of cover letters sent by the author trying to see which one would be good to send with his unpublished novel. I especially loved cover letter #3.

I’ve been playing around with Google Notebook and for a writer, this is an awesome tool. It’ reminds me a lot of the Writer’s Cafe scraps feature, in that you can keep copies of websites or make notes to yourself–it’s just kept online. It’s wonderful for when I’m reading a webpage that I think would be good research for my book, but if I’m not at my computer, I can post it to Google Notebook so I can open it again later. It’s also good for pulling off recipes, noting writing contests and markets, even marking blogs and/or forum posts that I want to comment on later. Very nice tool indeed. Go try it out!

On his blog, This Writer’s Life, Kevin Alexander wrote about starting a novel over after being away from it a lengthy period of time. Seeing that I was in a similar situation, I found his post pretty interesting. Check it out if you’re a writer who wants to get back into writing a novel you started writing a long time ago.

And speaking about getting back to writing, I better do so myself.

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