Shades of Milk and Honey: A Review

I’d been considering reading this book for… a few years now, but for one reason or another I only just purchased it yesterday. And decided to read a little bit before bed. And stayed up for three hours to read the whole thing.


Well, as that most likely indicates, I enjoyed the book quite a lot. The book itself is a Regency romance style book, with the well-woven addition of the magical art of glamour giving it a fantastic boost above others of similar genres

Mary Robinette Kowal, the author, has certainly made no secret of Jane Austen’s influence on her work, and comparisons to Pride & Prejudice abound. In fact, when I started the book and it presented me with the primary characters: elder Jane, younger Melody, their father – whose estate was entailed away to a nephew – and their mother – who was once beautiful but now was often an invalid and weak of nerves – were so similar to P&P that I was, I admit, slightly unnerved. Was this going to be just a thinly veiled copy – one step away from Pride & Prejudice and Zombies?
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Not-so-April A-Z Challenge

As you all have probably noticed, I, er, rather failed at the challenge of posting a letter every-day-but-Sundays. Cough.

I’m still going to do the whole alphabet, but it’s going to be much less often and I don’t think it really counts for the challenge. Ah well.

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For today, I am reposting a little fanfic drabble I threw on tumblr a while back. Setting is Hogwarts, characters are based on a novel I’ve been working on for… a while…

“For the last time, Theo. Dragons are dangerous and worst of all illegal.”

“But just think, having your own dragon!”

“I am thinking.” I sighed in exasperation. “You’re not. As usual.”

“I mean, Alarie is a great owl,” he continued, ignoring me completely, “but imagine having a dragon delivering your mail! You’d be sitting at breakfast and suddenly there comes this great flapping of wings, and this majestic dragon lands right in front of you–”

“On the table?”

“Right in front of you, as everyone stares in awe. There in the silence, the dragon holds out its taloned claw, to you and you alone, delivering your letter.”

“Charred remains of your letter, you mean.”

“Oh shut up.” Theo swiped at my head, but I easily ducked. “You’re such a spoil-sport, Sam.”

“It’s a difficult job you know, having common sense for two people.” I sniffed disdainfully, doing my best to look down my nose at him. It’s not easy when you’re almost a foot shorter. “You should appreciate me more.”

“Alright then.” He deftly reached over and snatched my notebook out of my arms.

“Hey! What are you doing?” I made a grab for the notebook but he easily moved it above my reach.

“I promise I will pay more heed to your common sense if you can get this back. Without magic.”

“Oh come on, that’s not fair!” I glared up at him. “You’re going to make me late for class.”

“It’s perfectly fair! You have common sense for two people, while I,” he placed the notebook on top of his head, “have an excellent new hat.”

“It’s a stupid hat. Give it back.”

“No, thank you.”


“Sam!” He mimicked my tone exactly.

I fumed silently at him, counting to ten. Finally I pulled out my wand. “Accio notebook.” It flicked neatly out of his hands and into my arms.

“Cheater,” he accused me cheerfully.

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I do beta-reading (basically proof-reading and checking for tone and consistency) for a couple web serials, and I like to joke that I take commas away from one author and give them to the other. But really, my poorly-kept secret is that I am much, much more strict with their comma use than my own.

I use so many more commas than I probably should, but I blame the Victorians. (I blame them for all of my writing’s perceived flaws. They can’t argue being my scapegoat, either, because they all died decades ago. Hah!) But despite not having too much of an effect on my writing, the editing’s been very educational. I’ve had to look up situations to know whether a comma is really necessary or not before adding or removing it and learned quite a lot about punctuation in general.

For example, the American standard is to put the closing comma inside the quote, before the attribution, and not after. Which personally I hate, especially when quoting text. You should put anything inside the quotes that wasn’t actually in the thing you’re quoting! It is, as Spock would say, highly illogical.

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Most people, it seems, get into reading Anne McCaffrey by discovering her Pern books. Which makes sense; they’re probably the most popular and most successful of the settings she wrote in. And I’m not going to lie, I definitely read them all and was all about having a telepathic dragon partner.

But my introduction to Anne McCaffrey – the book by her that I read first, and which led directly to me hunting down more of her books to read them – was actually The Ship Who Sang. It was amazing. Here I was, reading a book where the protagonist was a space ship. And not a robot spaceship, which I was familiar with from Isaac Asimov. A human person. Who was also a spaceship.

It was the most fascinatingly awesome story premise I had ever read, at the time, and it’s still one of my favorites. I started reading Starwalker – a web serial about a spaceship AI who gains human sapience – largely because it reminded me of the brainship stories. I also lost track of it a few years ago and am thus very, very far behind… ah well. It’s good, though. To the point I last read it.

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The trope of the Magical Boarding School became much more commonly known after the rise of Harry Potter. Addergoole is the name of one such place… except not really. Hogwarts is the kind of school you wish you could go to. Addergoole is the kind of school you run away from as fast as you can. (Except once you’re there, you can’t escape. Bwahaha. Haha. Ha.)

The eponymous web serial is by a good friend of mine, Lyn Thorne-Alder, and my reading the story is actually how we first started talking and eventually became friends, which is cool. I found out about it through the #weblit circles on twitter, back in, oh, 2009 or so. And I’ve been reading her work and (cough) writing Addergoole fanfiction for, what, five years now?

Yeah. Five years. Wow.

The basic premise of Addergoole is that there are these students, generally social outcasts in America, who somewhere in the middle of highschool are sent off to this special boarding school in the middle of nowhere that is literally underground. None of the new students really know what the school is; an institution for problem children, a prep school for gifted intellects, et al.

Well, as it turns out, it’s a school for demihumans. Magical faerie people. And all the students sent there are magical faerie people, but they didn’t know it yet. Sounds great, right? Yeah, that’s because I haven’t mentioned the magical slavery, borderline eugenics, or the gang fighting, or… well, you’re getting the picture.

Lyn is currently in the process of rewriting the original series in novel series format – I’m helping her put together the kickstarter, which I would give a rough launch date estimate right here if I had one.

Oh, and also, Addergoole is not only a great dystopian setting by itself, but is set in the greater “faerie apocalypse” universe where the world basically ended in 2011 after a huge faerie war. I’ve written a few things – well all right, I’ve written a buttload of things in Lyn’s faerie apocalypse universe, but I have a few of them on this site.

If you’re interested in checking out the original series, start here!

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April A to Z Challenge

Because apparently doing Camp NaNo to work on my novel revisions isn’t enough, I’ve decided to do the “Blogging from A to Z” challenge this year.

I’m going to keep it simple and give myself between 100 and 500 words per post, so I don’t get carried away or start feeling overwhelmed. Also, if you’re interested, my blog is number 1606 1601* on the list.

And as for a theme? Who knows! They’ll probably be related to writing in some way, most of the time.

* Some of the links ahead of mine must’ve gotten deleted; my number changed. o.o

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“Are you all right?”

Alan let out a long breath, something between a sigh and a hiss, and looked at his assistant’s concerned expression through the darkness. Trevor was new, and young; he could be forgiven a few stupid questions at stressful moments, at least. He might even have missed the bullet hitting Alan’s leg.

“No.” Despite his best efforts at being patient with the boy, he sounded annoyed. “It could be worse; I think it just grazed my thigh.”
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Among The Trees

Written for Lyn Thorne-Alder in a fic exchange.

Vidrou, sa’Tree-Hugger – more commonly known as Vid or Viddie – hummed quietly as he inspected his orchard. It was summer, which meant the seasons for peaches, plums and nectarines. Never mind that their home in ex-Michigan was nowhere near the right climate. He might not be able to change the weather, but he could change the trees. Combined with his diligent and affectionate caretaking, this meant come midsummer, there were fresh peaches.

Aside from tending to the trees, gathering fruit for the next few days was Vid’s main purpose in being out at the orchard this sunny afternoon. The basket slung over his shoulder was already half full, bearing a mix of red plums and yellow peaches.

“Papa, papa, look!” Seven-year-old Tilden raced across the grass, ignorant of the scrapes and dirt on his shins and elbows. He bounced to a stop in front of his father, proudly displaying a nectarine. “I picked it myself, just like you showed me.”
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Writing Meme

The rules are simple:

Copy paste the questions below onto your blog;
Fill in your answers;
Drop a link to your post in the comments here.

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