This week’s recommendations

  • Book: The Night Watch, Sergei Lukyanenko. An urban fantasy that has restored my faith in the genre. Very Russian — melancholy, self-reflective, intelligently and subtly written — and very good. Lukyanenko takes Russian folklore and breaths new, modern life to it in a set of three interconnecting stories that have a fresh take on the concepts of good and evil.
  • Podcast: Writing Excuses. This 15 minutes long podcast is all the inspiration I need lately to get my ass into a chair and write. What more do you need? (They need a new, more modern website, but the podcast is great, trust me).
  • Tea: it’s been too hot and I’ve been too lazy to drink much of it now, except the occasional cup of Fortnum and Mason’s Assam Superb in the morning. A fabulous Assam, but still too expensive to wholeheartedly recommend.
  • Also: finally saw Wonder Woman and loved it. A fresh, nuanced take on a superhero movie that doesn’t apologize for having a female lead.

Jaffa street view
Old Jaffa record store baking in the sun

 

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This week’s recommendations

Hey, Hey, What’s Going On?

  • I’m working on the second draft of my first novel (so far in Chapter 3 of 22), and outlining and discovery writing my second novel. Scrivener has been a blast for this too, allowing me to manage my characters and references to them without resorting to another tool (I’ll try to do a post about that later on).
  • I meant to give The Rook another try (I got annoyed with it after 30 pages during my first go), but due to a lot of upheaval at work, I started reading Linchpin instead.
  • Two of my co-workers (two of the best), are leaving: one to go abroad, and the other one to a different department. That’s made me rethink my future at work, whether I need to move as well and pick up a new area of expertise or not. After a lot of anxious soul searching I realized what I’d forgotten in all this mess — my dream isn’t to work in tech, it’s to be a writer. My day job is what allows me to write while keeping a roof over my head, nothing more, and every minute that I invest in it is a minute in which I’m not writing. This whole ordeal just made me want to double down on writing even more.
  • I’ve got a busy month and a half in July and August, and then things will settle down a bit more. My updates here may be sporadic as a consequence, as I prioritize my writing and running instead.

 

Hey, Hey, What’s Going On?

This week

Writing: Working on the outline of my next novel, and planning the second draft of my first one. Tough work, but there is progress, and progress is what I’m looking for.

Reading: Finished the delightful second Vinyl Detective instalment, “The Vinyl Detective — The Run-Out Groove“, by Andrew Cartmel. Enjoyed it very much, and can recommend it if you’re looking for an intelligent pick-me-up. On the verge of finishing “The Night Watch,” by Sergei Lukyanenko. A very Russian, darker but not dark-for-dark’s sake urban fantasy that is well written and sophisticated. Nothing like the childish dark urban fantasy novels that I’ve read lately.

Running: Got back on track this week. Getting myself used to progressively longer runs, and finding out that they aren’t so bad after all.

Drawing: except for a few quick doodles, nothing this week. I’ll try to get a quick watercolour in this weekend.

Also, if you are even a slight fan of Jane Austen, or like improv comedy, you will love this 30min comedy special by BBC Radio4: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08tvyw0

Latest flea market finds: two tins, one a WWII US Army First Aid Packet copper tin, and the other a British made Dunlop “Midget Repair Outfit” bicycle repair tin.

This week

This week’s recommendations

Podcast: Download. Jason Snell, with Stephen Hackett as a editor and a rotating pair of guests talk technology in what is the most charming, informative and polished of tech podcasts. Worth listening to if only to hear the “story you might have missed” segment.

Book: World War Z, by Max Brooks. Forget the movie (it has nothing to do with the book), and forget that this book is “about zombies,” because it isn’t really. It’s an “oral history,” very well written and researched, of a plague of the kind that exposes our humanity to the very core — all the good, all the bad, laid bare. A facinating and disturbing read precisely because it is so very realistic.

Tea: Lately it has been nothing but Yorkshire Tea, in dependable teabags, brewed stronger than you would believe possible and taken with milk-and-sugar. My aunt died last week, and at times like this I look for “comfort tea,” simple and soothing in its familiarity.

Also this week: Nasturtiums are hanging in there, despite the hot weather.

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This week’s recommendations