cat videos

Coming up for air

I’ve been making good progress on the new novel, hence the lack of recent posts, but with The Mirage paperback publication coming up in two weeks, it’s time for me to come out of my little room and practice talking to people again. (I also need to shift gears mentally from 1950s Chicago and New England, where I’ve been for the last six months, to alt-universe Baghdad; I expect some culture shock).

I’ll be doing readings in Seattle and Portland in conjunction with the publication; my current schedule is here.

In other news:

* The late, lamented Seattle indie bookstore Queen Anne Books is being reincarnated as the Queen Anne Book Company! It’ll have a new owner and new management (and is, technically, an entirely new bookstore), but it’ll be in the same location and at least some of the old Queen Anne Books staff will be returning. The grand opening is March 1. You can follow the new store on Facebook and Twitter.

* I’ll have a separate, longer post about this soon, but the National Endowment for the Arts is currently accepting applications for their 2014 Literature Fellowships in Prose. These are grants of $25,000 for fiction and creative nonfiction writers who are either citizens or permanent residents of the United States. The deadline for applying is February 28.

* Iran is claiming it launched a monkey into space. No word on which monkey, but I have my suspicions. In semi-related news, Bigelow Aerospace is partnering with NASA to test an inflatable space module. The prototype will be attached to the International Space Station, but the long-term goal is to develop a line of standalone orbital bouncy castles for rich people. Warren Ellis is skeptical.

* Rat City Rollergirls season 9 has started. The next bout is February 9 at Key Arena. Grave Danger will be going up against the Throttle Rockets, and the Sockit Wenches face visiting Terminal City Rollergirls team the Bad Reputations.

* Livestream kitten cam!

Fool on the Hill now available on Kobo and iTunes

I announced last month that my first novel, Fool on the Hill, was finally available as an ebook. It showed up initially on Kindle and Nook, and has since appeared on Kobo. This weekend Lisa noticed it was available on Apple’s iTunes store—so if, like us, you prefer the native iPad reader, your wait is over.

Also this month, my current publisher, HarperCollins, renegotiated its ebook contracts with retailers, which means they can now discount the ebook editions of The Mirage, Bad Monkeys, and Set This House in Order. There’s already been a mini-price war as a result—as of this writing, The Mirage is available for just $9.99 on Kindle and iTunes, and Bad Monkeys and Set This House are both around $8.

In other news:

* I’m still hard at work on Book #6, hence the light blogging. I’m somewhat more active on Twitter (as @bymattruff), though I suspect a lot of my tweets over the next few weeks will take the form of cheap jokes about the election, so, fair warning.

* Lisa and I saw The Cabin in the Woods and loved it. Lisa was leery at first, because she’s not a slasher-movie fan, but Cabin is not a typical slasher movie—it’s Joss Whedon channeling the Aaron Sorkin version of The Evil Dead. Worth a look if you missed it in the theater.

* Last night I started watching (alone) La Casa Muda, a more typical horror film about a father and daughter who take a job cleaning up a house in some remote region of Uruguay where they still use scythes to cut grass. The film’s gimmick is that it’s done in one continuous tracking shot, which sounds very Hitchcockian but in practice means that the pacing is slow, and I’ve already taken to livening it up with Cabin in the Woods references, like, “I see Dad just got a whiff of the Let’s Be Stupid gas.”

* Season one of Homeland, now out on DVD, is awesome. It really deserves its own post. When I have time.

* Standing cat stands for you. (via @anamariecox)

Notes from the ferment

Apologies for the long silence, but I’ve been in my head for the past month, trying to work out what book #6 is going to be. (Still getting there, but the road ahead is clearer now.)

Some random quick notes:

* Lisa and I saw The Dark Knight Rises. I feel like I need to see it again before making up my mind on what I really think about it. My initial impression was that there were some great individual elements, and on a purely emotional level it did work, but there were also some serious thematic and plot incoherencies that I couldn’t quite bring myself to overlook. This Film Critic Hulk essay touches on some of the issues that bothered me, and offers an interesting theory about what might have gone wrong.

* Speaking of Film Critic Hulk, if you aren’t already a fan, you should be. Here’s a nice archive post linking to all his greatest hits. Some good pieces to start out with: Why you should never hate a movie (applies to novels, too); Why the Campbellian “Hero’s Journey” is a lousy template for storytelling; and an amazing explication of What the hell is really going on in Mulholland Drive.

* If you’re looking for something different to rent on Netflix, check out Errol Morris’s documentary Tabloid, a bizarre true-life tale about a Mormon missionary kidnapped by a former beauty queen. If you’re not already familiar with the case, you may want to avoid spoilers—Lisa and I went into it cold, and part of the fun was guessing at what point the story was going to stop getting weirder.

* My pal Neal Stephenson will be appearing in Kane Hall at the University of Washington tomorrow night at 7:30 PM to promote his new book, Some Remarks: Essays and Other Writing. Paul Constant will be interviewing him.

* The Curiosity landed safely on Mars last night. It was fun following the collective nerdgasm on Twitter, but I have to confess, having experienced Viking as a kid, I’m feeling strangely jaded. The space probe I really want to see before I die is an ice-fishing expedition to either Europa or Enceladus. In the meantime, Hollywood, how about a remake of Capricorn One?

* Moose Snow leopard and squirrel. Bonus video: A goat smaller than a house cat. Thanks, evolution!