self

Rave review of HALF-WITCH in the New York Times!

My debut novel, Half-Witch, gets a glowing review in the New York Times.

I'm in shock. But it's a good shock!
“Half-Witch” is a marvel of storytelling, balancing humor, terror and grace. Lizbet is so earnestly good, in a way that I think has fallen out of fashion but that I loved reading. She and Strix are a perfect double act, and the shape and texture of the friendship they build is a joy to discover."

Side-notes:

The first novel in this quad-review is C.L. Polk's Witchmark, which has gotten other great reviews. I don't know whether Chelsea is still on LJ, but I've known her as a writer since we were both in the OWW workshop, and it's fabulous to see her debut novel have such great success.

The reviewer, Amal El-Mohtar, is a fine SFF writer herself. If you haven't read her, her story at Strange Horizons, "The Truth About Owls," is a good place to start.

Want to buy Half-Witch? Here's the Amazon link: Half-Witch.
self

HALF-WITCH is published!

My debut novel, Half-Witch, is published today by Big Mouth House, an imprint of Small Beer Press.

Lizbet Lenz, fifteen years old, lives in a Europe that lost its way on the road to modernity. The sun still goes around the earth. Goblins lurk in cellars and witches conspire in the forests. The war between God and Satan is going badly for the home team. Lizbet has spent a lonely and friendless childhood fleeing from one town to another with her father Gerhard, a charming swindler never more than a step ahead of the law. When Gerhard is jailed for his crimes, only Lizbet can free him.

In the company of Strix, a clever, worldly, and sarcastic witch girl who is Lizbet's opposite in every way, Lizbet undertakes a perilous journey over mountains that encircle the world. And that's just the start of her troubles!

Half-Witch is being marketed as middle-grade, but should be accessible to readers of all ages.

Early press has been good. Kirkus gave it a starred review. It's been selected by the Junior Library Guild, which picks the cream of children's books to distribute to libraries. You can read other reviews at the first link.

Hardcover and DRM-free ebook are available from the publisher (first link), Amazon, Barnes & Noble or your local bookstore.

I hope you enjoy Half-Witch!

self

(no subject)

Surprised to see me? I haven't posted on LJ in a long time. But I've got a good reason. My first novel is coming out, from Small Beer Press, on July 10. HALF-WITCH is a fantasy for young readers, and adults as well.

First major review is from Kirkus and they love it. I can't ask for more than a Kirkus star. Read the review here:

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/john-schoffstall/half-witch/


HALF-WITCH will be available from Small Beer, Amazon (of course), and your local bookseller. E-books will be available from Weightless Books, in a format compatible with Kindle and other e-readers: see the Small Beer site for details.

writing

(no subject)

I've been thinking about the HBO show Carnivàle. Amazing show. I have to watch it again, sometime. The kind of things it did are in the same realm as what I'd like to do in fiction.

Only... Carnivàle failed. HBO cancelled the show after two seasons. Is there any hope for fiction that hits the same notes? I.e., urban fantasy strongly anchored to pop culture/pop politics/pop history/pop religion, with most characters being grotesques?

And I think: maybe. Because books can succeed with a smaller audience than TV shows. How many copies of a novel must sell for a publisher to be interested in your next one? 20-30k perhaps? But a TV show must rope in millions of viewers to be a success. So, my task is easier than that of Carnivàle's creators. I don't have to compete directly against Snooki.

And when you think of it, Tim Powers writes in that niche, so maybe it's viable.
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I know, I haven't posted in months. I'm okay. I've been on Facebook some, as John Schoffstall. Friend me there if you're so inclined.
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shock

Peter Pan

I've been reading J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan, for the first time. Interesting, both in its strengths and weaknesses. Without much warning, the writing sometimes dips its toe into darkness, before quickly pulling it out again. And I was astonished to read that Tinker Bell, in Mr. Barrie's imagination, was 'embonpoint'. Tinker Bell! I had never imagined her as other than the Disney character design, as ectomorphic as Barbie. Oh, Uncle Walt, you took such liberties.

But Walt Disney's reimagining of Tinker Bell's three sizes merely reflected a broad cultural change in the esthetics of the human figure. The the first of the Peter Pan stories saw print in 1902, a time when 'chubby' still meant 'healthy'. The iconography of children in commercial art -- for example, the Campbell Soup kids -- reflects this. The Campbell kids were slimmed down in the early 1980's, but Tinker Bell preceded them by a generation.
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philolsophers

Virtual Reconstruction of the Antikythera Mechanism

On lolotehe's LJ: Virtual Reconstruction of the Antikythera Mechanism

Very cool. Fascinating that it can do retrograde motion of the planets.

So much effort, for millennia, was put into understanding why planets sometimes move in retrograde, when the actual reason was very simple. That kind of thing makes me wonder whether the Standard Model, which (to the this non-physicist) seems like a Rube Goldberg mechanism tweaked with un-found particles like the Higgs, axions, WIMPS, and so forth, is just missing some major conceptual element that would vastly simply everything.
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markets, money

Economics by the Dashboard Light

Dept. of Economics by the Dashboard Light, Part III.

Remember this post?

Last Friday night, for the first time since mid-2008, my drive to work at around 11 p.m. was interrupted by a car carrier blocking the right hand lane of northbound Route 1 outside that Nissan dealership in Drexel Hill, PA.

The last two years have been economically difficult. I'm lucky to be in a fairly safe job, but I've been distressed to see multiple job losses in my flist. Unemployment is still around 9.5 percent, and last week US stock markets took to bed with a case of the vapors when non-farm payrolls rose less than expected and the Fed mused that we might need another round of quantitative easing. There are other reasons for worry: banks and private companies are sitting on hoards of cash, the banks afraid to lend, and the companies afraid to expand or add workforce. Individuals are still buying bonds (almost surely a terrible time to do that, with coupon rates at historic lows) and terrified to re-enter the stock market.

Taking the other side of the argument is the nighttime Nissan car carrier.

The National Bureau of Economic Research has not yet declared the current recession, starting in December 2007, to be over. The NBER is late about such things, and its findings are historical, not predictive.

I'm betting the car carrier knows something. I declare the recession to have bottomed, and the nation, and the world, to be on the economic upswing. I don't know how strong this recovery will be, or how long it will last. We had multiple recoveries in the 1970s which went nowhere, undercut by inflation, high taxes, oil price shocks, and global political instability. It could happen again. But at least for the moment, the economic plane has gained airspeed again.
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