Adios, for now

Dear Readers,

As many of you are likely aware, I’m headed off to Honduras for a few weeks.  My day job as an archaeologist calls me away on my annual research expedition.  I’ll be living in the west-central town of Jesus de Otoro with my project co-director, our field director, and 9 undergraduates who we’ll be attempting to instruct in the ways of the archaeological world (and keep out of trouble).

We’ll be excavating and conducting research at the Lenca site of Sinsimbla, teaching the students how to excavate, analyzing artifacts, and eating a lot of beans and fried chicken.  I won’t be posting on this blog for the duration, but we’ll be recounting our adventures over on the PADO archaeology project blog (provided we’re able to get internet access, that is).

If you’re of a mind, check in over there from time to time.  You’ll be rewarded with the real story about what it means to be an archaeologist.  Sorry, Indy, it ain’t all Nazis and bull whips!  Well, not usually.

See you when I get back!

Hasta luego 🙂

June gone too soon

Another month, another monthly run-down.

1. I’m happy to say that June saw me bring the thunder on my rough draft of ABSENT.  I hammered out nearly 25,000 words this month.  Most of those words were of the craptastic variety, but as Chuck Wendig has rightly said: the draft is for writing the words, the revision is for making the words not suck.  I’m almost done with the novel, but finishing it will have to wait until I return from the field in mid-July.  As will the aforementioned ‘making it not suck’.

2. I started a new short story this month–a steampunk/horror mashup set during the Second Seminole War that focuses on skull collectors and the nefarious uses they put to their macabre prizes.  It’s threatening, though, to turn into a novel on me.

3. I’ve got 5 other shorts, plus BLOOD RED SUN, out to markets and agents.  Lots of waiting on that front.  World-building and outlining on my urban fantasy novel has stalled; set aside in favor of trying to finish ABSENT.  I hope to return to that in July.

4.I did a bundle o’beta reading this month: one novel for my crit partner, Eric, which I finished, and another that I’m halfway through.  In addition, I did three short story crits this month.  All told, I read and critted well over 180,000 words in June.

5. Even with all that beta reading to do, I managed to squeeze in a fair amount of pleasure reading, making my way through Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (a re-read), The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie, Hexed by Kevin Hearne, The Valley of Fear by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft, and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.

6.  School’s out, so no day job to weigh me down.  Ah, lazy, lovely summer.

7. In the travel department, I journeyed to Miami to visit a friend and am off tomorrow to Honduras to work on my archaeological field project.

So, June was busy, as every month seems to be, but it will pale in comparison to what’s coming down the pike in July.  I’ve got the aforementioned archaeological expedition for the first half of the month, then a trip up to Boston to attend Readercon, and then the hubby and I are moving into the apartment we’ve just bought.  So, deep breath….here we go!

How was your month?

Fairy tales

Last month I heard Cat Valente read an excerpt from her novel “The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In a Ship of Her Own Making” at the New York Public Library.  It was captivating and I resolved to go forth and read it as soon as possible.  Then I got busy.  Today I saw this trailer (recently released by Macmillian):

…and was reminded all over again that I must get my hands on this book.

Have any of you read it?  Thoughts?  Isn’t this the coolest book trailer ever?

Writer’s Workspace: 6/22

Good morning!  Welcome to this writer’s workspace.  Here’s what’s happening liiiiiiiiiiiiiive at Miranda’s desk:

What I’m working on:  with exactly a week to go before I leave for the field, I’m powering ahead in a last ditch effort to try and finish the first draft of ABSENT before heading south to Honduras.  I estimate I’ve got to write around 5K per day to meet this goal, and, in all likelihood, I will not make it.  Most probably, I will fail spectacularly.  Still, gotta try!

Snippet from the screen:

“Davis smiled at them genially enough, but his curiosity was clear.  His eyes lingered on their jeans and T-shirts.  “Where did you say you were from again?”

“We’re Americans,” Reid said.

“Ah.  Americans!”  Davis nodded as if this explained everything.”

On the iTunes:  at the moment, I’m listening to “Need You Now” by Lady Antebellum.  But 3 minutes and 57 seconds from now, it’s anyone’s guess.

Keeping me company:  Well, my good-for-nothing cat is supposed to be lounging nearby, looking adorable, and occasionally allowing me to pet and feed him…BUT he’s opted instead to snooze on top of the refrigerator and utterly, completely ignore me.  Ungrateful cuss.  I’d include a photo, but since it’d just be of one of his ears barely visible above the cabinet edge, what’s the point?

Out the window:  it’s a beautiful, sunny day in Brooklyn and I’m enjoying the air conditioning while it lasts (it’s 96 degrees and 2,000% humidity in Honduras right now, and the village we live in while excavating is a 100% air conditioning-free zone).

In my mug:  Numi Chinese Breakfast tea

A little procrastination never hurt anyone:  first, you can head over to my archaeology blog and read up on my field project in Honduras.  Then, check out Chuck Wendig’s 25 things to know about writing a novel – funny and true.  And, if that ain’t enough for you, my dear, insatiable reader, mosey on over to Query Shark for a little truth smackdown.

Procrastination, deadlines, and other dilemmas

Update from the front, dear Readers!

I am getting close enough to finishing ABSENT that I can see the hoary light at the end of the tunnel!  I have decided, at virtually the last minute, to go do several weeks of archaeological field work in Honduras!  I am attempting to Beta-read two novels at once!  I have become overly fond of exclamation points (perhaps due to an excess of caffeine coursing through my veins!)

Yes, it is an exclamation point kind of week around the Suri household.  We have celebrated three years of lovely married life, have signed away our life savings on a new apartment, and have lined up so much travel for the month of July (all, of course, at the last minute) that I’m not sure it’s physically possible to accomplish it.  Most notable among our coming adventures is my decision to return to Honduras this summer to continue my archaeological research.

There will be more on this in future posts (and here’s a link to the project blog, for those of you who want to follow our adventures in the field), but in short: I co-direct an archaeological field school in Honduras.  The last time we were down doing work (2009), a coup d’etat happened.  It was not pleasant, and we haven’t been back since.  So, this is a big undertaking, and hopefully one that will go smoothly, as we’re taking 9 undergraduates with us.

On the writing front, I’ve been making happy-fun progress on the first draft of ABSENT, my archaeology time-travel novel.  With my new daily word count goal in place, I’ve cruised through about 8,000 words in the last week or so.  The climax is just a few chapters away, to be followed by another few chapters of denouement.  Is there a chance I could finish this bad boy before I leave for Honduras?  Probably not.  But what the hell, I’m gonna try anyway.  Wish me luck!

Complicating matters is that I’m now Beta-reading two novels at once.  Such is the danger of swapping novel critiques, in which the owed critique may arrive at an unspecified date in the future – you can end up with more than you can handle.  Both critiques are for writing buddies who’ve done me more than their share of favors and are due my best when it comes to payback.  So I’m going to power through.  Fortunately, I just bought an e-reader, the Nook Simple Touch (I’ll be sure to review this after I’ve given it a good work out), so I’m going to try to do one of the crits on the e-reader and see how that goes.

Clearly, I’ve got a busy week or so coming down the pike.  How about you all?

Oh, and this marks the 100th post since I started my blog last November. Nifty!

Book Review: Hounded

Hounded by Kevin Hearne (2011, Urban Fantasy, 289 pages)

Hounded is the first book in the new Iron Druid Chronicles, which follow the adventures of a 2,000 year old Celtic Druid.  The story is set in modern-day Phoenix, where the protagonist (Atticus O’Sullivan) is living as the twenty-something owner of an occult shop and doing his level best to keep off the radar of the various gods, goddess, and magical creatures he’s pissed off over the centuries (in this world, all the gods are real – every religion, every last one of them).

Atticus is witty and irreverent, with just the right touch of world-weary thrown in, and he makes for pleasant company.  The story of Hounded follows the efforts of a Celtic god to recover a magical sword that Atticus took off him in battle centuries ago — basically, it’s an ancient grudge match.  Various other creatures join the fight on either side – the Morrigan, goddess of death, a bartender possessed by a Hindu witch, Atticus’ vampire and werewolf lawyers, a nosy neighbor, and Atticus’ companion, an Irish wolfhound he communicates with through telepathy.  If this sounds like a ridiculous mash-up, it is.  It’s also a lot of fun.

Hearne has actually done a really great job of a taking what could read like a big pile o’ nonsense and making you buy into the world.  The various gods and goddess behave just as you might imagine deities who’ve been around for aeons but must blend into the modern world would act.  Likewise, in lesser hands a telepathic conversation between a 2,000 year old Druid and an Irish wolfhound might come off as cheesy beyond measure.  Hearne dodges this (just) by infusing their relationship with real charm — the wolfhound can communicate and is interested in human culture and knowledge, but, at the end of the day, he’s a dog and Hearne never lets us forget it.

The pacing is good, the twists come aplenty, and the characters are lots of fun to spend time with.  Better yet, Del Rey has chosen to release all three of the books in rapid succession; the second in the series, Hexed, just came out last week, and Hammered, the third, will follow in short order.

These books are perfect summer reads – fun, action-packed, creative, and humorous.

Taking the e-reader plunge

Well, I’ve decided to buy an e-reader.  Shelf-space is what finally pushed me over the edge, to be honest.  As I begin to think about packing (the hubby and I have bought an apartment and will be moving next month!), all I can think of is how horrible it will be to deal with the mountain of books I’ve accumulated.  There’s so many of them, and they’re so heavy.  Have they been breeding and snacking when I wasn’t looking? And where will we put them all in our lovely new place?

Maybe a tiny electronic device that holds thousands of books ain’t such a bad idea after all.

So, which e-reader do you think I should get?  I don’t want to break the bank (I already spend enough money on books as it is) and want something simple and straightforward that provides the best reading experience.  I’m currently leaning towards the new Nook Simple Touch Reader.  But I humbly request your advice in the comments.  What factors are most important to consider and what have your own e-reading experiences been?