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cmpriest August 21 2014, 22:24

Your rolled up sleeves in your skull t-shirt

Today might've been more productive if I hadn't freaked out and summoned Greyson's vet - so hey, even if I didn't get much work done, at least I had a panic attack and spent some money.

[:: sigh ::]

Long story short, yesterday morning Greyson picked up a little cough. I wasn't too worked up about it, but it worsened overnight; and by lunchtime today he was copiously barfing - then having coughing fits that lasted half a minute, and left him gasping for breath. So, yeah. I called his vet.

(Meanwhile, he acted like he felt just fine. We took our usual morning walk, chased each other around the yard, and played a round of rope-tug. When he wasn't coughing, he was totally normal.)

Because Greyson is a contrary soul, he declined to produce even one half-hearted hack while the doc was present. His lungs and heart sounded good, and his bloodwork from a few days ago* showed that everything was 100% normal ... so we're not sure if it's a mild case of bronchitis, allergies, some weird object stuck in his throat, or what. But he got some steroids and anti-nausea meds, which have already helped.

Naturally, five minutes after the vet left, he flopped down on the floor of my office and started coughing, so I whipped out my phone and shot some video - which I promptly sent to the doc. I hated to see him uncomfortable, but I was glad to have proof that I am not, in fact, some Münchausen-by-proxy pet parent.

Obviously, we will keep an eye on him.
And he will keep an eye on my turkey sandwich.

In other news...there's not much other news. I'm still maintaining that holding pattern over here, while I quietly wig out about the very nearness of DragonCon.

So to wrap this up, here's a little Throwback Thursday entry: yours truly and my mom (who is making a weird face, I don't know why). I think this is circa 1978...? It's my aunt's wedding, I know that much. Mom's wearing a bridesmaid dress; I was a flower girl.

* Yes, the poor vet was JUST out here for his annual checkup/boosters. [:: facepalm ::]
aliettedb August 21 2014, 15:01

My novel writing process, aka writing with baby

There’s a fabulous essay by Ursula Le Guin (I think it’s “The Fisherwoman’s daughter”?) on writing and motherhood, which contains the following: “The point, or part of it, is that babies eat manuscripts. They really do. The poem not written because the baby cried, the novel put aside because of a pregnancy, and so on. Babies eat books. But they spit out wads of them that can be taped back together; and they are only babies for a couple of years, while writers live for decades; and it is terrible, but not very terrible.”

I read this years ago, and it’s stuck with me (though I’d forgotten that awesome last part). It’s all so true; and even more so when you have the actual baby. I stopped writing about seven months into my pregnancy, because I spent most of my time lying down with no energy, feeling very much like a beached whale. After the birth of the snakelet I went a bit insane with not writing, so I started doing it again in fits and starts; but it wasn’t until the snakelet was 4-5 months old, and I was almost ready to go back to work, that I started writing my novel again.

Novels, for me, are different commitments than short stories: I can research a short story for weeks and binge-write the actual first draft in a couple of days; I just can’t do that with a novel. With novels, I have to sit down and write consistently; a little at a time for a long time. The problem, when you have a baby, is that “little” can mean three minutes before something goes wrong ™ and you have to rescue a crying snakelet from whatever he got himself into.

I’ve seen people post about setting some time in the week for writing, always the same time: it never worked for me pre-baby, and it certainly didn’t work afterwards (when something does need your attention, it’s a choice of me or my husband; if my husband isn’t available it has to be me. In those circumstances, a set schedule is a bit like mission impossible). My philosophy was: “whenever there is available time, grab it”. Didn’t matter if it was ten minutes while the baby napped or while my husband played with him; I just used whatever I had.

“available time”, though, doesn’t get you very far with a day job and a baby. When I started up the novel again, I was 25k in, and needed to get to 100k in a couple of months: simple maths told me I would need to write more than 1000 words a day to make my self-imposed deadline. Given that there were a lot of days when I just couldn’t manage to write, this sounded like a lot cause.

Fortunately for me, I have a commute. And an alphasmart (a Neo 2 I think).

They don’t make them anymore (they stopped in 2013 I think), but those things are the best friend for a writer like me. Basically, it’s a keyboard with a small screen. I admit the attraction, put like that, is limited, as you could get the same mileage out of an iPad or a laptop. But the thing is, a Neo is totally distraction-free, boots up in a heartbeat, (you touch a button, it lights up, you touch a button, it turns off), and it keeps going *forever* (and I mean forever. I got mine in 2009, I put three AA batteries in it, and it’s still at 60% despite my typing up 1.5 novels, 1 novella and a bunch of short stories on it). You only get a chunk of 10,000 words or so (after that you need to change memory buffers, which is trickier), but given that you can’t really edit with it, it’s fine for me. I basically would type my day’s scenes on the Neo, transfer it to my laptop (it hooks up to computers by pretending to be a keyboard, which means it’s dead easy to set up), and do cleaning up and editing on my laptop.

The trouble with this method is that I need a lot more editing afterwards, because I make a lot more typos and because scenes easily get very repetitive (the Neo screen has about 6-8 lines of text on it? not ideal to get a large-scale picture). I did a lot of things in Word, and then imported the lot into Scrivener, where I searched for repetitions and moved stuff around (Scrivener is a very powerful tool that’s good for a lot of things; my use of it is akin to using a kitchen robot to chop up a few cloves of garlic: that is to say I label different scenes according to their POV, and move scenes around in my draft).

I didn’t *quite* make my deadline (of course), but I was still pretty darn close. Certainly, if you’d told me I’d write most of my novel while minding a very young child a year ago, I’d have told you you were insane ^^

At any rate, that’s my writing process. What about you? How do you make time for writing? Do you have any tips for writing with young children?

Cross-posted from Aliette de Bodard

Leave a comment at original post, or comment here.

desperance August 21 2014, 00:23

Chaz'z chicken stuffing

Dishes evolve for all sorts of reasons. This, f'rexample, used to be Madhur Jaffrey's duck stuffing, but I do at least three things differently - because Karen wouldn't reliably like the deeper tones of giblets, and because I'm not going to the store just for cilantro, and because dried fruits work well around here so I use more and other kinds - and then I stuff a chicken instead, so I reckon it's mine now. With all proper acknowledgements to the source, and so forth. (I was once in my first agent's Kensington flat when Madhur - another client - phoned from New York. Of course there would be a party for Madhur's new recipe book; it would be right there, in Carol's flat. "But don't worry, we won't need to cook; we'll have it catered..." If I'd been a little quicker off the mark, I could've ended up cooking for Madhur. Or with her.)

Anyway: heat a little oil in a pan, and toss in half a teaspoonful each of fenugreek, fennel and cumin seeds. It delights me that fennel and fenugreek work so well together, given that they hang out right next to each other in my alphabetical order of spices. As soon as the cumin starts to darken - about as long as it takes to think how delightful it is, that fennel and fenugreek work so well together - add one finely chopped onion, some grated ginger and a chopped chilli if you like that sort of thing, and stir until softened. Then add a handful of chopped dried tomatoes (I use home-dried, at least for as long as my supply lasts - *makes moon-eyes at Katherine, who has a dehydrator* - but sun-dried would be fine too; Madhur uses puree mixed with water, which is really not what I want here), and chopped cilantro if you can be bothered to go to the store for it. Then a couple of cups of cooked rice; then a handful each of golden raisins (sultanas, O my UK 'earers), chopped dried apricots, dried sour cherries and pine nuts. Or slivered almonds, if the price of pine nuts is just too ridiculous. Stir in some salt, black pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice, and you're done.

Remember to give the chicken a little longer than you would unstuffed; an hour and a half in a hot oven does it for me.
cmpriest August 20 2014, 22:33

It was the creation of some of those same old things

It's been a couple of "holding pattern" days, where I'm waiting for news and information from several different sources - without which, I can't really proceed on anything. These days are weirdly stressful. And they feel unproductive. In fact, they've been more or less unproductive, except for some laundry, grocery shopping, and an interview with the awesome Seattle Geekly folks (it'll go live next week).

I've also been making arrangements for DragonCon - because oh God, that happens next week. There are officially six different meetings/suppers/lunches which aren't on my Official Schedule, with maybe two more pending ... but here's the general programming scoop on where and when you can definitely find me:


      11:30 a.m. - The Wide, Wide World of Alt History: An introduction into the many worlds of alternate history and what to expect this year on the track. Westin Augusta 1-2
      1:00 p.m. - Deadlier Than the Male: The role of the feminine in horror literature. Westin Peachtree 1-2
      4:00 p.m. - The Many Faces of Pulp: A discussion of pulp fiction's many faces, from gritty crime fiction to the deepest depths of space or the far-flung future. Westin Augusta 3
      5:30 p.m. - Building Alternate Worlds and Times: Creators of alternate worlds discuss secrets for building brave new worlds, from research to deviations in history and much more. Westin Augusta 1-2
      7:00 p.m. - Cthulhu Mythos - The Innsmouth Cycle: A discussion about the Innsmouth cycle created by H.P. Lovecraft and continued by his followers. Westin Peachtree 1-2


      2:00 p.m. - Signing at the Missing Volume's booth. Dealer's hall, second floor. Booth 328/329/330.
      4:00 p.m. - Signing at the HWA table. Hyatt, across the hall from the comic artists alley.
      7:00 p.m. - Penny Dreadful Fan Panel: A discussion of Showtime's tribute to Victorian-era horror. Westin Peachtree 1-2


      10:00 a.m. - Urban Fantasy or Horror? What's the Difference? Authors writing in both genres discuss the distinction between the two, as well as the similarities. Westin Chastain ED
      1:00 p.m. - Werewolves, Vampires, Demons, & Dragons: Learn to develop classic fantastic characters that stand out. What are the "rules," and how can they be broken? Hyatt Embassy D-F

Same rules as always apply, which is to say, I'll sign whatever you like, and as much of it as you want. Sometimes I can hang around after/before panels and sign things/chat/hang out, but please don't take it personally if I can't; like I said above, I have a number of important meetings and things that aren't noted here. As long as I'm not (a). eating, or (b). in the bathroom, feel free to stop me if you catch me out and about - and if I have time, I'll cheerfully pause to sign your stuff. But again, please don't take it the wrong way if I'm in a mad dash for a panel or a meeting. It's not you, it's me. I swear.

In other news - well, I'm still waiting for other news. Rather than dwell on that, and/or obsessively check my email/phone...how about a puppy picture? Here's Greyson using my thigh as a pillow, as we both watch TV in the den. He's a world champion snuggler, he is.

major_clanger August 20 2014, 21:50

Future Humanity: another take

I didn't manage to get to any of the Speculative Biology items at Loncon 3 (usual excuse: too few hours in day plus other commitments) so I had to settle for reading this very good write-up in Scientific American. That led me to the work of Memo Kosemen, who has put a huge amount of effort into imagining the fauna of Snaiad, a world where animals have evolved into ecological niches familiar to us but on the basis of a very different fundamental body plan.

It turns out that Kosemen also wrote All Tomorrows, a work rather in the vein of Dougal Dixon's Man after Man, although of rather greater scope. With Koseman's permission it's been made available online (large PDF); if I had to give a quick summary, it would be "Stapledon's Last and First Men as rewritten by Stephen Baxter and illustrated by the hybrid offspring of Wayne Barlow and H.R. Giger." Far more imagination than in a dozen bumpy-forehead-alien TV series, and these are all meant to be descended from humans.

This entry was originally posted at http://major-clanger.dreamwidth.org/28938.html, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
major_clanger August 20 2014, 13:10

Idea: how to ensure awareness of Codes of Conduct

Loncon 3 seemed to do quite well with its Code of Conduct; it was available on the website and reprinted in the front of the convention pocket guide. As far as I'm aware, there were only a handful of incidents reported to the convention staff that required it to be applied.

However, I've seen discussion about the convention that suggests that some attendees still did not understand what the CoC was meant to set out in terms of appropriate and inappropriate behaviour. I've been giving some thought to how we might ensure that everyone at a convention is clearly and unambiguously aware of the CoC, and more importantly, can be proven to be aware of it.

At Loncon 3, registration involved being handed your badge. How about if instead we handed over a sealed envelope containing the badge, printed up as below. (The box with my name in is an indication that there would be a sticker identifying whose badge was inside).

 photo CoC_Envelope_zps95591e95.jpg

For this to work, you have to plan this from the outset, and ensure that:

- for online memberships, anyone joining has to click on a 'I agree with the Code of Conduct' tick-box in order to join;

- for direct sales, there is a 'sign to agree our Code of Conduct' box on the membership form.

This makes it absolutely clear both when you join the convention and when you pick up your badge that the Code of Conduct applies to you.

I've put in the refund option because I think this strengthens the convention's position: it allows someone a final chance to say 'no, I don't want to be bound by this'. Of course, as it excludes what we lawyers call consequential expenses (e.g. travel and hotel) I doubt that many people will exercise it, but the fact that it's there helps avoid arguments about the validity of the 'open the envelope and you're agreeing' notice.

(For those interested in the legality: this isn't a shrink-wrap licence situation, as the notice on the envelope is just confirming what members have expressly signed up to when they joined. Rather, it's actually adding an exit clause to the membership contract.)

This entry was originally posted at http://major-clanger.dreamwidth.org/28697.html, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
desperance August 20 2014, 01:33

In a state of ongoing confusion

I am just sayin', but if you go to Amazon.com and search the whole site for "being small brenchley", it offers you only a page for the hardcover edition, with no cover image nor other information. If you go to Amazon.co.uk with the same request, it offers you only a page for the paperback, with cover blurb but again no cover image.

On the other hand, go to the Kindle section on either one and make the same request? Here's the .com version and here's the .co.uk version, both with covers* and pre-order buttons and all sorts. I am just sayin'. They could usefully fix their search engine, but hey: why should they bother, when I'm here to do the work for them?

*corrected covers, that is, without egregious typo
cmpriest August 18 2014, 23:48

If you've got the inclination, I have got the crime

It's a Monday! And I hardly know where to begin, but that's becoming typical, I swear. I've been a crappy blogger, yes - but in my defense, things have been pretty busy around here. There's been a lot of end-of-summer yardwork, some business-type hurry-up-and-wait, and also a great deal of this-is-almost-due that's been catching up with me over the last few days.

But I'm finally starting to dig myself out, so here goes nothing.

First up: The Hugo Awards! I wasn't there, and I wasn't nominated for anything - but that doesn't mean I can't be super-happy for the awesome people who were there, and who did win things. Lots of love and rockets to everyone!

Next up: Maplecroft news! You guys, check it out - my author copies finally arrived! And they are beautiful! They have sexy embossing on the cover! They have that new-book smell!

It's all I can do not to make a big pile of them and go swimming around like Scrooge McDuck in his money bin. So it's just as well I don't have enough do that.


And now, some Maplecroft-relevant links - because it's easy, and it's late, and I'm low on brain-power right now (but go book, go!):

    More love from i09 - Where Maplecroft is named one of "the 30 books you absolutely cannot afford to miss this fall."

    The Book Shop Santa Cruz - Where Maplecroft is a staff pick, and scores a great staff review. Some awesome soul named "Jax" declares it "An excellent read for those long fall nights, so long as you don’t need to sleep any time soon."

    My Bookish Ways - Where Maplecroft makes the list as a September must-read.

    The Red-Headed Femme - Who declares that "H.P. Lovecraft is smiling in his grave"...and furthermore, "This book is unique, and wonderful, and terrifying. Don't miss it."

Unrelated to books at all - and in conclusion - I am told that yesterday was some kind of semi-official Black Cat Appreciation Day. Spain the Cat approves of all appreciation, official, semi-official, and otherwise.

Even on a Monday.

dolorosa_12 August 18 2014, 16:49

We'll be singing when we're winning

This is the obligatory Hugo Awards reaction post. I'll add more links as the appear, but at the moment most of the winners and nominees are probably feeling the aftereffects of last night's celebrations and haven't had time to write anything.

This year was different. There was a sense both of a tipping point, and of a real struggle for the soul of the speculative fiction community. And, as [twitter.com profile] fozmeadows said, the awards results showed that the community turned a corner, and headed in the right direction.

Here is a full breakdown of the voting. I'm feeling particularly gleeful about the result for Novelette.

Here is the writeup by Hannah Ellis-Petersen at The Guardian, which quotes Best Short Story winner John Chu:

Other major winners included John Chu, who won best short story for his deeply personal work The Water that Falls on You from Nowhere, which grapples with questions of sexuality and tradition within a fantasy framework.

Picking up the award, a visibly overwhelmed Chu described the challenges he faced in getting his story published. "I can't begin to describe how much this award means to me," he said. "When I started writing, so many people's words were 'I'm not racist, but …', 'I'm not homophobic, but …' There were so many buts, and they all told me, sometimes in those exact words, that no one was interested and no one would publish anything I would ever write. So to win a Hugo, and for this story, I can't put into words how much that means to me."

John Scalzi's writeup makes some more good points:

[Larry] Correia was foolish to put his own personal capital as a successful and best selling novelist into championing Vox Day and his novelette, because Vox Day is a real bigoted shithole of a human being, and his novelette was, to put it charitably, not good (less charitably: It was like Gene Wolfe strained through a thick and rancid cheesecloth of stupid). Doing that changed the argument from something perfectly legitimate, if debatable — that conservative writers are often ignored for or discounted on award ballots because their personal politics generally conflict with those of the award voters — into a different argument entirely, i.e., fuck you, we got an undeserving bigoted shithole on the Hugo ballot, how you like them apples.

Which is a shame. It’s fine for Correia to beclown himself with Day, if such is his joy, and he deserves to reap the fruits of such an association. I suspect, however, there are others whom he championed for his “sad puppy” slate who were less thrilled to find themselves looped in with Day by involuntary association.

I am most happy about Ancillary Justice winning Best Novel. It's the best book I've read all year, and I'm thrilled that it swept the board of speculative fiction awards. A most deserved win.

I was also very happy about the nominees for Best Fan Writer, and to be honest, wished that all five could've won. But Kameron Hurley is a truly deserving winner, and her second Hugo for Best Related Work was just icing on the cake. (Speaking of which, if you haven't yet read 'We Have Always Fought', go out and do so now.

I'll leave you with a quote from Hurley's acceptance speech, which was read by kateelliott:

The conflict of narrative we’re engaged in online, in convention spaces, in stories, and in the wider world is a real one. It’s no less than a struggle for our inclusion in our own history. Not just my history, my future. But yours. Your friends’. Your colleagues. All of us, struggling together to write a better, truer story.

Tell them stories indeed.
desperance August 16 2014, 01:30

Two lovely things make a post

The first lovely thing is my job, which positively requires me to discover, eg, the history of tinned sardines; the second lovely thing is the internet, which makes it so easy to do. (I learn that there is a book from 1938, "The Golden Book of Portuguese Tinned Fish": speaking as someone who has in fact been to a Portuguese fish-tinning factory, I think I need a copy of this excellent volume.) And did you know that the international body responsible for food safety and regulation is called the Codex Alimentarius? And that any fish other than pilchards that are canned as sardines must have their actual species identified on the can, but that pilchards are not in fact an actual species?

I should probably get back to work, but fish! Tinned fish! It's a whole thing!*

*Actually it's more than one thing. We have not touched on tuna. Which - to me, at least, and to others in the discussion t'other day - is "tuna" when fresh, but "tuna fish" when canned. My mother used to make a splendid tuna fish pie - which was certainly not a pie, any more than pizza pie is a pie. See? A whole nother thing!
mercwriter August 15 2014, 15:54

Draft: "Lonely Robot on a Rocketship in Space"

A few days ago, I was organizing Dropbox files when I came across a mostly-finished draft of a story I'd apparently trunked for being too...I don't know. Too superficial and stupid, I think was the reasoning at the time. The creation date of the file was enough evidence to jog memory that I was in...really fucked-up headspace at the time of writing the story.

Because you know what, it is NOT superficial or stupid. It is IMPORTANT, and necessary, and charming, and something I really needed to write and want to share with people. Yes, it is similar thematically to "How To Become a Robot in 12 Easy Steps" in that it deals with identity and acceptance and struggle and friendship and depression and hope.

When I reread what I had a few days ago, it made me cry. Then beam by the time I reached the end. It was missing one scene (the hardest scene, which is about the MC coming out to parents), and it took a good week before I could muster the emotional strength and stamina to finish the scene.

Finally did, so I can say the story is drafted. Need to give it a few days to settle before tackling edits, but damn, I am proud of this one.

Title: "Lonely Robot on a Rocketship in Space"
Date: [on the file, start date listed as 9/30/13], finished 8/15/14
Length: 5,000 words
Genre: SF (near future)
Favorite bit: superficially, IM chatlog transcripts, because coming up with usernames is FUN.

It has robots, so many queer characters in positive relationships, and there is art and comics and gaming and chatlogs and lots and lots of Star Wars references.

I hope to be able to share with people in the future.
desperance August 14 2014, 18:05

Is there some connection between sage and sage?

In the mail this morning, a package from myspicesage.com: berbere spice, ground sumac and a freebie taster pack of grains of paradise. My Spice Sage is now officially my favourite-so-far of the mail-order spice merchants.

My Sage Plant is also my favourite of all the herbs in the back yard: it thrives and is beautiful and doesn't need hacking back before it takes over the universe. But is there a linguistic connection between sage-the-plant and sage-the-wise-person? Or is that just coincidence?

We had half a dozen people for dinner yesterday, and I totally faked a chicken tagine, with jewelled rice and green-beans-in-shallot-butter. Also a sourdough ciabatta (that was meant to be ordinary sourdough loaves, only it was way sticky and would never hold a shape so I called it ciabatta instead, and it was good). In the course of this I learned that All-Clad makes or made a tagine with a stainless-steel base and a terra cotta top, which strikes me as the ideal solution. The only one I could find for sale was on E-Bay for $150; I've no idea if that's cheap or the other thing. But I shall pass for now, because not got that. It's going on my wishlist, though.
cmpriest August 14 2014, 00:06

You'd hate for the kids to think that you lost your cool

It has been beautiful out there today - the temperature topped out around 80 degrees, it was super-windy, and sunny-but-not-too-sunny, so I spent the day outdoors. I needed to, for the grounds here at Rosebury Haunt were looking pretty ragged.

Okay, it still looks a little ragged, but it is greatly improved - particularly at the back and side of the house.

By way of cataloging my exploits, you may know that I accomplished the following: pruned and de-bugged the old rose tree; pruned, weeded, and evicted vines from the new roses at the side of the house; pruned, weeded, and evicted vines from the old roses at the front/side of the house, and gently wired the new growth to the trellises; weeded the yard directly at the rear of the house, where the foundation plants are really starting to take hold (this actually took for-freaking-ever); removed vines and performed other assorted weeding at the side of the house, where the climbing hydrangea is surging up the side of the porch; did some weeding in the back bed by the garage; pruned/fed/trimmed the container-garden plants; restocked all the bird-feeders except for the hummingbird feeder, which still has goo in it; and watered the hell out of every damn thing that needed it.

I was joined by this pretty thing, which hung around for several hours - making itself happy in the blue salvia and then the butterfly trees.

But I'm not done. Oh no.

Tomorrow's to-do list: run the edger/trimmer around All The Things; cook up some more hummingbird food then clean/restock that feeder; prune, weed, and evict vines from the roses by the used-to-be-a-herb-garden corner; prune, weed, and evict vines from the front shrubbery; and maybe, if there's time, take the loppers to the holly hedgerow.

Greyson has a vet appointment tomorrow, so that'll break up the afternoon a bit; nothing's wrong wrong with him or anything - it's just time for his checkup and booster shoots. I think I can still get most of my list tackled, if not all of it. We'll see how it goes.

I also need to sit down and read through the entirety of my Godbothering content, so that I can renew progress on that bad-boy this month. I was going to do that today, but the clock ran out on me - which is to say, I am now too tired to give it my full attention. So...to hell with it.

Anyway, in closing (because I am also too tired to wrap this up in a tidy fashion) ... here's a picture of my cat being weird. She climbed over my desk, strolled onto the file cabinet, climbed atop the little trunk there (it holds sewing supplies), and then stared into the corner for twenty minutes - occasionally lifting a paw to scratch at it.

Cats, man.

desperance August 12 2014, 23:57

But why is there no more beer?

There is wine; I remembered to buy wine. I may have to drink wine.

That's about as much as is happening today: an instance of wine-drinking. I did get ARCs (which I still pronounce letter by letter, while everyone around here treats it as an acronym and says "ark") for BEING SMALL - with a wholly different cover from the Great Cover Reveal, just because - and one is already off to a local newspaper for hopeful review. Otherwise it's all been intentions and unreality and nothing getting written, nothing at all.

The most I can manage, apparently, is a potful of baked beans. Locally-grown organic heirloom Yellow Eye beans, so recently dried they barely needed boiling into tenderness; they are currently simmering in the oven with onion and celery and carrot and tomato and bay, and sage and chillies from the garden - and garlic and ginger as soon as I remember to add them, whoops - and chipotle and cider vinegar and molasses sugar and smoked paprika and lots of pepper. Yay beans. And there will be leftover pork and cauli from last night, and freshly fried potatoes, and I will call that dinner and be done.

Dunno what it is about today. Neither one of us slept too well last night, but even so. I shouldn't be this hollow.

(Oh, and I'm also trying a wholly different kind of sourdough, but that's a two-day process: no results before tomorrow night.)

(Oh, and I have a stock to strain and clarify: but the most of the work in that was done yesterday, when I stripped down the carcase and put the bones in the slow cooker with lots of veg & water. Today is totally the between-day, where nothing much is ever going to occur.)

EtA: Alternatively, of course, I could always drop my jar of personally-pulverised garlic and watch it shatter on the kitchen floor. Then I could have all the fun of sweeping and scrubbing and rinsing and drying and fretting about teeny-tiny splinters of glass evading everything and piercing a boy's paw &c &c. How's about that? Yup, let's try that...
desperance August 12 2014, 21:13

Being Small, here and there

So I wasn't going to do the Big Cover Reveal until you-all could go to Amazon to pre-order, if such was your desire - but Amazon.com seems to be treating Per Aspera as though they were Hachette or something, and the book continues to fail to appear on its pages. We'll keep an eye on things, and I will prompt you with big pix and everything when pre-ordering becomes possible: but meanwhile, here is Per Aspera's big cover reveal instead, to which you may click through.

And if you're so minded, you can pre-order the paperback from Barnes & Noble right now (there will also be a hardcover, and of course an e-book too).

And if you're in the UK, you can actually pre-order the paperback there too, from Amazon.co.uk as ever was. The ways of big rivers are strange to me, and one must paddle against the flow. *shrugs*

But isn't it pretty? The cover is by the awesome Mark J Ferrari, of course. Go on, have another look. This time, click through to the wraparound and read all the words.
cmpriest August 12 2014, 21:02

Going down the only road I've ever known

Yeah, well. Whitesnake was playing on the radio last night, and it's stuck in my head. NOW IT CAN BE STUCK IN YOURS, TOO. [mwooohahahahaha]

So! Today, I've got a couple of things to talk about. First up, I'm lucky enough to be involved in Kevin Hearne's apology to Atlanta! And why would Kevin feel the need to apologize in the first place? Because he has to bail on DragonCon, that's why. I understand. Things happen. And since this benefits me, personally...I'm prepared to forgive him.

For you see, Kevin will be zooshing back to the southeast again for an event at the Fox Tale Book Shop in Woodstock (right outside Atlanta) - and he will be joined by YOURS TRULY and also DELILAH S. DAWSON. [:: confetti gun ::] [:: tee shirt cannon ::] [:: pom-poms a'waving ::]

Look, I'm not going to lie to you, folks: It's gonna get silly up in there. And if you are in the greater Atlanta area, you definitely want to swing by to get in on the action.

Don't worry. I'll remind you again before we set out for glory.

Hm. What else? Oh yes - you know how I ordered some new glasses from Zenni Optical? Like, a week ago? Well believe it or not, they're already here! And in fact, I am wearing one of those pairs right this moment.

So here's the verdict, or at least my initial impressions.

The quality seems more or less comparable to anything I might've ordered through an optometrist's office. The frames are sturdy and attractive, and the lenses are exactly what they're supposed to be. I had some concerns about this latter bit in particular, because my eyes are pretty screwy; I'm around 8.0 in each of them, with a hefty astigmatism in the left that always throws things for an extra loop.

Due to that prescription, my lenses are the ultra-high-index variety (by necessity), but on top of that I added all the special coatings and whatnot, then threw in expedited shipping because screw it, that's why. All of this together cost me $258.

And to think, I was PSYCHED when I got my last pair of glasses - for they only cost me a little shy of $600. This is after the previous pair (ordered in Seattle, where things run pricier) ... cost nearly a thousand. So you can imagine my absolute GLEE at the prospect of two pairs for relative peanuts!

Am I still gleeful? Yes, yes I am. I wanted something with larger lenses/field of vision than I had on hand; but I also wanted to try something a little different and funky. So here's the results.

Pair #1 - blue tortoiseshell. Fit perfectly right out of the case. My favorite of the two, at present. I can see great, and I'm fond of the look. Glad I took a chance on them.

(For a close-up shot that displays the blue color better, click here.)

Next up, the cat-eye-shaped funky green tortoiseshell jobbies. I really like these too, though they're quite different from what I usually wear; these needed a little adjusting, but that's okay - because there's a how-to primer on Zenni's website. Very helpful.

These are great too, but something about the lens shape feels unfamiliar to me, and they take a little getting used to. Not a big deal, as they were an adventure pick anyway - and I love having options! These will be a nifty option, every now and again.

So next time I'm feeling flush, I might even pick out another pair. I don't wear my contacts as much as I used to, and variety is the spice of life, non?

When I was younger, I hated wearing glasses - partly because I was "younger" back before high-index lenses were available, and that meant two things: (1). thick, heavy lenses that left creases on my nose and cheeks, and gave me headaches, plus (2). I had to pick frames with enough structural integrity to support those lenses...which meant, in essence, I wore industrial-grade glasses until I was in college. They were never pretty. They were never fashionable. They always looked terrible, and I felt terrible when I wore them.

Now? Not so much.

For one thing, I'm older - and I've had lots of time to come to peace with my crap-tastic vision. For another thing, now we have high-index lenses. For yet a third thing, I can now wear stylin' frames like normal nearsighted people, and some of those frames are really, really cute.

[Aside - I don't want anyone chiming in re: various corrective eye surgeries. I am not a good candidate for any of them; trust me, I've looked into it, and gotten multiple opinions on the matter. It's just one more thing I've come to peace with.]

Anyway, lots of people wanted to know how the Zenni thing worked out for me, so there you have it. If the glasses break or something within the next few weeks, I'll post an update; but for now, I am a happy camper. As opposed to 8th grade - when I was...not so much.

Presented in closing for your amusement:
Orlando Junior Academy, 1989.

rozk August 12 2014, 10:22


I cut and pasted my schedule and accidentally posted it before deleting e-mails. I caught it immediately so they shouldn't show up, but if they do, my apologies to all concerned.

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