Pacific Northwest

Cool Stuff Series: English Country Dance

For those of you who loved the ball scenes in Pride and Prejudice and long for a way to join that world, you can (sort of).  On one hand, there is less in the way of fancy dresses and elegant men in period costume.  On the other hand, you don’t have to have expensive clothes and be landed gentry to join in the fun.

On (almost) every Friday night, there is an English country dance at the Burlingame Water Tower Dance Hall (8936 SW 17th, Portland).  The music is live and appropriate to period.  Dress is pretty much whatever you are comfortable with. . .you will see everything from dressy-dresses to tie-dye T-shirts and jeans.  (On the occasions that I went, I usually wore skirts because I like the way they twirl when I turn).  The only real requirement is inside dance shoes.  (Which can be any comfortable shoe that has never been worn outside.  I wear the same Capezio dance sneakers that I bought for Irish ceili dancing, but a friend just bought a cheap pair of China flats.)

Beginners are welcome, no partner is needed.  Each dance starts with the caller walking the dancers through it and explaining the dance.  I found that my background in Irish ceili dancing helped me get quickly up to speed, although I had to forget everything I ever knew about expecting symmetry in dance and sometimes had to mentally ‘translate’.  (Because a back-to-back in ECD is very much *not* the same figure as a ceili back-to-back).

If you’ve never done any similar style of social dance (or even if you have), it might me a good idea to familiarize yourself with the terms before you go.

If you write in the regency period, or if you are simply a history geek like me, this is a great experience.  Not only do you see and learn the dances, but you start to get the idea of how personalities come out in individual dance styles withing a highly structured dance, and how much flirtation can be carried in simple eye contact within the decorous bounds of the dance floor.

Also please note that this coming Friday (3/6) is a special fancy-dress ceili, with dancers asked to come in their favorite period Western costumes (You can be a sheriff,  a dance-hall girl, a school marm, or ???  Steampunk friends, this is your dance!)

Official link with details, contact info here.

Between publishing commitments and a knee injury, I’ve been absent lately, but I hope to start up again soon.  Maybe someday I’ll see you there!

 

Review: Faerie Blood by Angela Korra’ti

This urban fantasy set in Seattle was, above all, fun! Think Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Charles de Lint’s Newford tales.

Voice is important in any novel, but it makes or breaks a novel written in the first person. Kendis, the protagonist, starts out in the very first page with a sharp-tongued, witty interior dialogue that makes you want to settle in and spend some time with her, and maintains the voice throughout.

The author clearly knows and loves both Seattle and trad music, and fans of either will appreciate her attention to detail.

The set-up is familiar– a presumed mortal young woman discovers that she has fairy blood–but it is handled with an originality that keeps it from feeling trite. How can you not love a book with an elvish Elvis impersonator?

And in a world where fantasy is too often lacking in diversity, I was happy to find a protagonist who is mixed-race in more ways than one. She rooms with a gay couple, and their orientation is never made an issue of one way or the other. There is even diversity of paranormals–a kitsune (a Japanese fox shape-shifter) makes a (far too brief, in my opinion) appearance.

No book is completely without flaws.  If I had to pick a nit, it would be that the interior dialogue is a bit too clever.  Sometimes the humor detracts from the tension in what would otherwise be a riveting scene.  (Believe me, I know how hard those lines are to cut.  I’m still mourning some of the cuts I had to make to Raven’s Wing where my editor pointed out that a great line in the wrong place is not a great line.)

Also, and this is a matter of personal taste, there was a point at which the heroes had the chance to show grace and mercy to a fallen enemy, one who had aided them in the end, and decided that, nope, it wasn’t worth the potential trouble.  (Forgive the vague-blogging, I’m trying not to be spoilery.) Maybe the decision was one rational for ordinary folk, but I expect more from my heroes.

(Of course, I’ve been for years rooting for the Doctor and the Master to settle their differences, and it doesn’t look like I’m going to get that anytime soon, either.)

Overall, a very enjoyable book.

Faerie Blood is available in Kindle at a sale price of .99 through the end of this month here.

The sequel, Bone Walker, has just been released for Kindle.  Order it here.

You can also buy them in print from the author here.  (Website is under the author’s other pen name.)

 

Samhain-kitty here.  Writer-person has left to make tea, so I thought I’d put in my two-cents’ worth.  I must applaud the writer for having a feline-American prominently mentioned (something my writer-person often fails at, although I understand she is correcting this flaw in the forthcoming Raven’s Heart.) However, the novel would be improved if the cat had even more ‘screen time’, so to speak.

Also, the love interest fails to ask the cat’s approval before courting his human, a severe breach of etiquette that no one seems to address in the book.

Furthermore, what’s this about the cat freaking out when the house is attacked by a tree?  The author should be more careful about playing into the ‘scaredy-cat’ stereotype.  I suggest a scene where the cat heroically and single-handedly takes on the Unseelie Court and. . .

Samhain, get off my computer!

Oops, gotta go.