Sunday, May 6, 2018

Latest News From Wendy-Land

Remember when I used to blog regularly and my posts were insightful and informative and just generally pretty good (what do you mean no?!).  One thing I've learned over the years is that blogging is a marathon, not a sprint - and where I was 15 years ago (yes this blog is 15 years old...) is not where I am today.  For one thing, I've done the whole "moving up the ladder" thing at The Day Job which let me tell you, really reflects in my blogging mojo these days.  Plus, you know, I'm mired in a reading slump right now - which is no bueno.  But I do have some random bits of news, so here I am (and here you are).


First up is that the Encyclopedia of Romance Fiction edited by Kristin Ramsdell (another former RWA Librarian of the Year) is going to be published in August 2018 - and ::drumroll please:: yours truly is one of the contributors! 

As a reference book (read: expensive) and being one of several contributors, I figure my total royalties will be somewhere around $2.57, but you know what?


Plan on me being just as annoying about this as I have been since I was named RWA Librarian of the Year....way back in 2011.  No, I'm never going to let that die.  I'm getting it engraved on my tombstone.  You've all been warned.


In other happy news, I have an update on the health kick weight loss journey.  As of the typing of this post I've lost 34 pounds.  I'm 11 pounds away from my "goal weight," which is what I was when I finished graduate school.  That equated (at the time) to a size 10 (nearly 20 years ago...) and I figure a size 10 on this side of 40 is totally realistic.  I started this journey in mid-August 2017 so yeah, it's been one of those "slow and steady" kind of things, which I hope bodes well for me keeping it off.

Exercise is still...well, the pits (I just don't like it folks) and I still miss bread - but being smarter about my carbohydrate and sugar intake has really been the key for me.


Book #1 (1977)
I'm mired in a reading slump right now - mostly out of laziness and general tiredness.  But I have fallen into an audiobook hole by revisiting the Sharon McCone mystery series by Marcia Muller.  I originally read some of these when I was a teenager and then, fresh out of college, revisited the first 19 on audio (#33 is due out this summer).  But it's been nearly 20 years since I've "read" any of these and it's been a fun nostalgia trip.

Sharon is a single woman, living and working in San Francisco for a low-cost law cooperative as their in-house investigator.  The early books (I'm on #6 at the moment) largely serve as time capsules now, but in some ways they hold up remarkably well.  Although some of the character depictions are dated (Ask the Cards a Question (1982) being the best/worst example of this so far), in many ways Muller was ahead of her time and some of the conflicts are still (amazingly) relevant.  For example, gay characters aren't portrayed as deviants.  Yes, they're set in San Francisco, but it's still pretty radical when you figure these early books were published in the early 1980s.  However, there is some racial stereotyping.  Although, to be fair, not as egregious as I've read in other 35 year old novels. 

What I've found most remarkable as I've torn through these is how "current" some of the conflict has read - which I guess goes to show that the more things change the more they stay the same.  In The Cheshire Cat's Eye (1983) neighborhood gentrification figures into the plot (upwardly mobile white people buying up cheap property in minority neighborhoods...) and in Leave a Message for Willie (1984) there's a bunch of alienated white guys running around playing soldier and spouting off racist garbage (a precursor to the militia movement that came to the forefront during the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995).  I've found it fascinating, especially since I've only been able to remember small snippets of these books given it's been nearly 20 years since I've had exposure to them.

Would I recommend them to today's reader?  I don't know - possibly.  Like all things, it depends on the reader.  I think they're an interesting time capsule, and Muller's Sharon McCone predates Sue Grafton's Kinsey Milhone - which puts another interesting spin on these because while both characters are "independent women" - Sharon is less prickly and actually has a love life (Kinsey did too - but Grafton tended to keep it off page when she mentioned it at all).  There's actually been a couple of closed door sex scenes, which it also pretty remarkable since, in my experience, mystery readers get downright irritated when "love cooties" creep in to break up the discovery of dead bodies. The fact that Muller didn't have her hand smacked for including romantic entanglements for her private eye heroine (and the character hasn't been punished for them thus far) is interesting.

We'll see how long this audio glom lasts - but unless I hit an epic wallbanger, it's probably going to last for while.  Good thing too, since right now this series and resulting nostalgia trip is the only reading I seem to be getting done.


Miss Bates said...

As someone who lost 25 pounds over a two-year period, I do quite a bit of backsliding. The key is self-forgiveness and then climbing back on the wagon. Movement is key. I walk half an hour every day seven days a week. That really helps!

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

so I've been a Marcia Muller fan ever since she came to visit the university while I was in grad school and they begged a few of us MFA folk to go visit her. Fred and I were the only ones who did. Everyone else missed out 'cause Marcia was amazing.

It's funny that you're revisiting her 'cause I just read for the first time #6, There's Nothing to be Afraid Of, and I had the same thoughts you did about the timeliness of the conflict, and the progressiveness of the attitudes. GMTA, my friend.

Wendy said...

Miss Bates: I tend to do long walks on the weekend and shorter "Crud, I've been sitting too long" walks at the office during the week. It's during the work week where I tend to fall down on consistency.

Susan: OMG, SO JEALOUS! I have so many fuzzy nostalgic feelings for this series that if I met Muller in real life I'd probably make an ass out of myself. I'm listening to There's Nothing to be Afraid Of right now and I have zero recall on this one. Some of the others I've remembered snippets, but this one is like the first time.

Nikki said...

First, congrats on your healthy changes. You're a great inspiration!
I enjoyed the Sharon McCone books back in the 80's and then I totally went off the rails and moved on to all the Star Trek novels before I finally went back to romance land after several years away. Your take on the series has piqued my interest. I think I'll see what audiobooks the library has.

Wendy said...

I discovered the McCone series while browsing the shelves at the local library as a teen - so I have all these warm, fuzzy nostalgic feelings wrapped up in them. They're definitely a time capsule now, but I've enjoyed the return visit and the mysteries are strong. Also, while I enjoyed the first couple of books, you can definitely see Muller's evolution as a writer as the series wears on...