(A condensed and edited version of the most recent Irregular Update newsletter)
Hello there! It’s hard to be cheerful these days, so let’s take a side trip from Reality and binge on some wicked fun stuff for a while.
Let’s start this rolling and get you, my lovely readers and friends, a yummy book to run away with.
Here are the rules: We’re going to play the “pick the number” game. Whoever guesses closest to the one I’ve chosen gets the book. If there are more than two people who qualify, I’ll roll a dice or pull the names from a hat. Either email me the number at firstname.lastname@example.org or tag me on Twitter (@scribblinglion). I’ll announce the winner on the evening of Friday the 15th, to give everyone a chance to read this newsletter.
The number will be between 1-100, no fractions or decimals involved.
On offer this time around is a collection of short stories from Nicole Givens Kurtz: Sisters of the Wild Sage, which features Wild West, weirdness, and magic as you’ve rarely seen it before.
Nicole is a highly prolific author, with short stories in over thirty anthologies *pauses to boggle* as well as novels that have been finalists for an array of awards. She also runs Mocha Memoirs Press. I am insanely jealous of her success and also wildly happy for her.
You owe it to yourself to read this book. Seriously. The stories are fabulous.
I have two lightly dinged up copies to give away. Pick a number and get your name in the hat!
I’ll do another giveaway next month, or possibly sooner. As always, follow me on Twitter for the most up to date information.
More books! More book talk! Okay, okay, here you go:
I present to you Faith Hunter, author of the Jane Yellowrock series, the Rogue Mage series, and the Soulwood series. I’ve only read the first two books in the Yellowrock series so far, and I’m impressed. Faith has a deft hand with pacing and suspense, and the choice of a skinwalker as a main character rather than a stereotypical evil creature to destroy is an intriguing twist. It’s well worth a read if you’re looking for a different kind of creatures-of-the-night series.
You can order Faith’s books through your local indie bookstore; if you don’t know of one in your area, try the bookstore locator on Indie Bound.
I want to talk about one of Patrick Rothfuss‘s books next, because it’s a strange little creation: The Slow Regard of Silent Things is a side novella to his popular Kingkiller series, and it was actually my introduction to his work. This is not generally recommended, even by the author, because it makes a lot more sense if you already understand the setting. I found it delightful in part because I had no idea of the larger picture.
What is the story about? Nothing. Everything. Making soap. Setting things in just the right place, moving in tune with the universe, listening. Fixing problems beneath the surface before they become visible to people above-ground. The main character looks at the world through a distinctly cracked lens. The one, brief passage involving real magic is all the more stunning for how ordinary everything else is.
It’s a vignette, it’s a cloud of taffy, it’s a piece of song from when this universe was created. It’s utterly amazing, and I love it more than the main series. If you need linear, clear plot, this is definitely not going to be to your taste. If you like follies and drifting abstract writing, you’re going to love this story. I re-read it whenever I feel like there’s no sense or hope left in the world, and it invariably recharges my mental batteries.
Slow Regard reminds me, a bit, of the Moominvalley stories by Tove Jansson. Those are some of my favorite books ever, especially the later ones where she really got a good grasp of her craft. The books follow the adventures of a simple family of kindly trolls and their friends, and poke holes in “how things should be done” along the way. At one point, Moominpappa must saw a hole in his own floor, and pauses to remark that it’s a shame, but still a dreadful sort of fun; another time, gold bangles are put into a muddy pond because it makes the color shine more brightly. What’s important to the Moomins is not at all what matters to our real-world, human society at large. The Moomin series, and Slow Regard, are a refreshing and heartening reminder to not take ourselves so very seriously.
Please, take a moment right now to think of a business or creative person whom you particularly appreciate. Send them a note letting them know! We all need a boost these days. Being told I matter always gives me a huge burst of motivation. Please, pass the love along to another person.
You matter. Your words matter. Your actions matter. Thank you.
Stay safe out there!