Word Winding

attempting to spin cacophony into sanity

Archive for the tag “Debora Geary”

Still looking for the perfect Solstice gift? Worry not, dear friend! Your search ends here.

You are invited to take the following short quiz:

  1. Was Prisoner of Azkaban your favorite Harry Potter book?
  2. Do you enjoy small children, MMORPGs, and/or cookies?
  3. Do you prefer a story that walks the line between realism and idealism?

If you answered yes to one or more of the above, then you will love Debora Geary’s books. All of them.

I found A Modern Witch all on my own last year during a lazy search on Twiggy, my then-new Kindle, a Christmas present from Thor. I used the small bits of feet-up time my pregnancy with Platypup earned me (a respite from tackling toddler Owlet) to blow through all of her available books like the sinfully delicious chocolate truffles they are. I was soon delighted to learn how frequently new books and short stories are released, and as my crowning achievement, in the week or so leading up to Platypup’s birth — including early labor! — and the week or so following, I reread them all.

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I actually have photographic evidence.

I mention Prisoner of Azkaban because to me, it is this golden moment in the Harry Potter series where J. K. Rowling has really found her stride, the plot is deepening beyond a simple children’s book but at the same time it is a brief respite — the only book without a climatic battle scene against an evil wizard.

Somehow all of Debora Geary’s books occupy that same rare ground. Each one has charm and delicacy wrapped effortlessly into an intricate story arc that rises and falls with organic perfection, requiring no propulsion by super-villain. In fact, every Geary book I have had the pleasure of reading has similar pacing, but the material in each is fresh enough that it remains unpredictable. Light enough for beach reading, deep enough for book club — and just about perfect for a pregnant woman on the cusp of birth.

In case you enjoy/are addicted to World of Warcraft and others of its ilk, you will be pleased to find Geary’s witches own and operate a flourishing MMORPG, “Enchanter’s Realm,” complete with spell-coding (using magic to affect game play) in the witches-only levels. In addition, several truly genius internet-based developments are sprinkled throughout the books.

As much as I love the typical fantasy novel with its medieval setting, quest-based plot, and epic scope, I adore Geary’s work for being the polar opposite: her witches coexist peacefully in our modern-day western world, and the stories spun are comfortably mundane despite their magical trappings. If you are married with children like me, you grow weary of books and movies ending happily ever after before “real life” sets in; the majority of tales hardly make it to the beginning of a romantic relationship; a hardy few end with a wedding, or possibly a first child’s birth. Not with Geary at the helm! Real life is her canvas; one of her favorite heroines is a mother of five, and her characters are diverse in age, gender, and sexual orientation, and often ambiguous in race. And such characters! Their thoughts and moods, loves and frustrations are so honest, they seem culled from my own life. No stark realism here, however — the grace with which they eventually pull through is idealism at its best, serving to inspire with its very plausibility.

Geary also stands out from the pack with her willingness to pursue concurrent and overlapping plot-lines from book to book. She began with a main series, added a trilogy that takes place partway through the main series, and also has a few short stories tucked away as well. She even takes suggestions from readers under consideration — one of the short stories was prompted by a wedding no one wanted to miss. The result is a pleasantly sprawling history in which characters ebb and flow from central protagonist status to minor background figure and back. This character flexibility uniquely blends freshness with cohesion to great effect. In Geary’s world, one is never bored yet somehow always feels at home.

While reading Harry Potter, I felt a connection between my own formal music training and the classes at Hogwarts. In Geary’s books, that affiliation explodes. The more detail she provides on the shapes of spells and the way they are cast both by one witch and by a group or “circle” of witches, the more analogies my music-nerd-brain draws. The same balance of focus and creativity to get a phrase/spell just right. The tight control of the conductor/spellcaster over the power of their ensemble/circle. The feeling of momentum, of pure joy dancing under one’s fingertips. And pride in a skill honed to ever-approaching perfection. There may not be much actual music in the plot, but the spirit of music is embodied in Geary’s well-thought-out brand of magic.

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Magic!

As I mentioned awhile back, I emailed Geary a couple of minor typos and was thrilled when she asked me to serve as a final-stage proofreader in the future. Well, the future arrived last week in the form of the not-yet-released A Different Witch. (Yes, I was paid to proofread; no, I was not paid to write this review.) I wouldn’t want to spoil a single moment of it, but I will say this — Debora Geary pulls her readers inside a character’s head like nobody’s business, a fact that becomes particularly poignant if that character is, well, a different witch. But don’t you dare start with this newest one! Go get A Modern Witch and start properly at the beginning. When you’ve guzzled your way through the lot of them, come back and thank me. And bring cookies.

Spinning My Threads on the Interwebs

Looks like I missed my own blog’s two-month birthday! Do you mind if I gush briefly anyway? (If you prefer, go twiddle your thumbs somewhere instead and come back when I post something more meaty. No hard feelings.)

Lately I’ve been marveling at how writing here has been unexpectedly expanding my experience (haha, say that three times fast) in other arenas. When I created this space I mostly just wanted a butterfly net to capture the thoughts Owlet and Platypup had been constantly generating within me but were not yet old enough to receive. Preggo/mommy brain had been leaving me rather inarticulate in real life and I wanted to share those musings with friends and family and even a few strangers. I’d also been feeling a bit one-sided and relished the opportunity to track other mental pursuits unrelated to mothering. But somehow I pictured it all happening in a vacuum, in my little nook of the internet called Word Winding.

What I didn’t expect:

– The very day I opened my blog up to the world, the 15th person to “like” me was the lady behind The Leaky Boob. (I had sent humble little tendrils via Facebook to a handful of my favorite bloggers.) I squealed like a Beatles fan and may have awakened one or more small children in the vicinity. My blitheringly sophomoric status update included the following choice phrases: “Ok, major nerd-meets-semi-celebrity-in-cyberspace moment” and “Well, color me giddy as a schoolgirl.”

– She was the first, but not the only — three of my favorite bloggers have, also: Mama Raw, The Single Crunch, and The Hands Free Revolution. I am truly honored and cannot recommend their work to you highly enough.

Patrick Rothfuss liked my review of his amazing book The Name of the Wind. I mean, of course he would, because I pretty much hand him an award for best writer ever, but still. He took the time (probably out of writing the third book, sorry everyone for delaying its release another four and a half minutes) to read it, reply, say he really liked it, and ask for permission to share it. Recommence shrieking scene described above. Perhaps with bells on. You know, the velco kind you attach to your baby’s flailing limbs. Or am I the only one who does that?

Of course I love the heady feeling I get when someone whose writing I’ve admired likes mine back, but more than that I love the connection.

This is extending away from my blog and into other “virtual” interactions. Recently I sent a brief email to author Debora Geary (review coming soon, I promise) to let her know about a couple typos in her latest book since it had just that day been released on Kindle. I almost never do things like that, but thought maybe there was an easy way to correct it since it was a digital format. Typos are like toothpicks in my brain, and she’s too delightful of an author to have her work marred needlessly if I could ride in on my gallant steed and rescue the situation. She thanked me, which was nice of her, and that was that… until a little over a week later when out of nowhere she wrote again to offer me what she called “an informal proofreading gig.” Um, you mean, instead of me buying your book, you’ll pay me to read it? Yeah, I think that’d be ok…

The point is not to brag. That’s just a side perk. Feel free to slap me for bragging. The point is this: I used to come for the story only, whether to blogs or to books. Despite knowing a few spectacular authors in real life — and loving the extra nuance my personal knowledge brought to their already impressive work — I’d still been buffered from the rest of the world’s writers without realizing it. In starting my own humble blog I have somehow inadvertently sliced through that not-so-impenetrable barrier to the creators behind the words. I have no illusions about “actually” knowing these people as friends (yet! haha… I will try not to stalk these worthy wordsmiths, but I do not promise to succeed). Still, these connections are way more nourishing than my old impersonal, one-way, glazed-eyes speed-reading. It’s refreshing, just as two minutes on the phone with a friend is refreshing compared with any amount of Facebook scrolling.

And now for some recent stats:

– My own sister was rather late to the party as the 50th liker. She’ll never live it down! Relentless teasing shall be hers.

– Five of the last eight people to “like” Word Winding are strangers… or soon-to-be friends? Welcome aboard!

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