How My Ankle Made Me Temporarily Deaf

I know I shouldn’t have done it. My bouldering partner had just finished talking about how sometimes, one’s body tells one it’s just not going to work a certain route on that particular day, and one should listen. The risk of getting hurt is too high. I’d agreed, and I warmed up on some easier bouldering problems while she was practicing her knots. I knew I wasn’t feeling a hundred percent, but I wanted to gut it out.

I moved to a particular route I’m working–it starts out with hand-matching on a nasty little pancake, then getting all the way over into the left hip, reaching up while tensing one’s abs and sticking a sort-of-pocket with the right hand, then going up and smearing while the sort-of-pocket turns into an undercling and one has to half-dyno to stick one’s fingers on a shoulderblade-shaped hold near the top. (Translation: it’s a real bitch, and it requires a lot of core strength, trust in one’s left foot on bare rock, and faith.) I got up to the dyno, knew I wasn’t going to make it, and climbed down. Then I did it again, and I sent it, reached the top hold and felt gratified.

My body warned me, though, with a tremor in my quads and my hands not really sticking like they should. Don’t do that again, my body said.

I didn’t listen.

I chalked up, ran my gaze over the route, and stubbornly tried it again. I thought momentum would help. I failed the dyno, my fingers slipped off the top hold, and I fell. Which would have been okay, because I went loose and there were plenty of pads…except my foot landed exactly wrong on the edge of a new crash mat, my ankle rolled, and I immediately knew I’d done something utterly stupid. I let out a sound that scared the bejesus out of my partner, who dropped her knot and came to check things out, and I could barely hear her over the ringing in my ears. It hurt like hell. How my ankle could have made me temporarily deaf I don’t know. Jeez.

Anyway, by the time I had my breath back my ankle was already beginning to swell, so I practiced knots a little and hobbled around. Nothing broken, just strained. Needless to say, there was no more climbing yesterday, which irritated me to no end, especially since it was my own damn fault. My partner made sure I was okay to drive, we called it a session, and I hobbled through a couple errands I couldn’t put off before going home to ice and ibuprofen all. damn. day.

This morning the ankle is swollen and bruised, and I’m moving pretty slowly. No running, dammit, but taking the weekend off won’t hurt me. It may even help; I’ll be really fresh on Monday.

I’ll be working on the next combat-scene post today in between other stuff I have to get accomplished, it might be tomorrow before I get it posted, so bear with me. But, as extra credit, you can take a look at my description above, and see if you can plot the arc of the story, as well as see where I revised to make the pacing quicker or slower. (Hint: look at sentence length.)

See you in a bit.

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“Review” Does Not Mean “Immune”

There’s freezing fog here, frosting every edge. It’s very pretty if I can just sit inside and watch it. Venturing out into it, however, is a whole different ball of wax. Losing a lot of weight means I have very little insulation, and even with four or five layers on the wet chill just goes right through me. I have never been so glad for the heater sitting next to my writing chair.

So…buckle your seatbelts, darlings. Here goes.

One of the current Internet sh!tstorms revolves around this post “Beware of Unprofessional Reviewers.” Of course there was a lot of pearl-clutching over this.

On the one hand, immature and nasty behavior among book bloggers is rampant, and the sense of entitlement from plenty of people who slap together something they call “reviews” is massive and stunning. (This is human nature, and not worth bemoaning more than tangentially.) There are great review blogs out there, but they are sadly more the exception than the rule. And there are some great review blogs that have devolved into masses of self-gratification and one-upmanship. In other words, it’s just like the entire Internet.

On the other hand, naming the actual blogs the author had a problem with…probably not a good move. I might not have done that, but you know what? You write reviews for public consumption, you had better be prepared to be called on your behavior. Put on your big girl panties and deal. Also, it’s the author’s blog, she can say what she wants. She thinks someone’s being a shitheel? Well, she can say so. Period.

There’s a real sense among review blogs that authors should just not say anything other than a gushy “thank you sir may I have another?” no matter how the review bloggers act. Which is just not going to happen, any student of human nature can tell you as much. And seriously, I’ve read plenty of reviews (not even of my own work, thank you) where it’s obvious the reviewer was responding to something personal in their life rather than to the book itself. Or it’s equally obvious the reviewer is engaged in tearing down something they’re jealous of. Expecting authors to not care about that is just pure-d foolishness.

Review blogs do serve a number of necessary purposes. They’re a way for readers to band together and discuss things. They build communities. They serve and fulfill social needs. They can occasionally serve as a facilitator between the writer and readers, which is downright awesome when it’s done right. They can even (sometimes) provide feedback for authors, though this is not (and should not be) one of their prime goals.

But review blogs do not get to tell writers how to act. They can have opinions about how writers should act, sure, but those opinions are not given a lot of extra weight by the fact of them being “reviewers.” Anyone with a laptop can be a reviewer, there’s not a lot of quality control, and one’s opinion as a blogger is not worth a lot until you’ve consistently shown why it should be. This isn’t just on the Internet, it also functions this way in real life. For example, lots of people have opinions about how I should act. Many of those opinions are just not worth a fart in a windstorm to me personally. The people whose opinions I care about–the people I love, or whose judgment I’ve been taught I can trust–are not The General Public. Also, lots of people have opinions about how I should/should not write my books/finish a series/write a character. At the end of the day, I may listen politely, but the decision is still mine. The judgment call is still mine, because I am producing the content. I’m where the buck begins.

So. Yes, the post about “unprofessional reviewers” named names, which is to my mind the only problematic part of it–but it’s not very problematic. You want to act like a three-year old on your book review site, or produce shoddy reviews? Go for it. But do not expect that the behavior will always go unremarked or unchallenged. It’s the Internet. It’s public. Deal. You’re not in the fricking Witness Protection Program. You’re a blogger.

I personally do not respond to reviews one way or another, for reasons I’ve given elsewhere. But writing a post where one takes issue with specific behaviors, offers illustrations, and proffers advice to one’s fellow writers isn’t a crime. It isn’t even worth the pearl-clutching that ensued, even though anyone with two synapses to rub together could have seen the pearl-clutching coming. It’s not going to be a post people who produce book review blogs are going to like, certainly, but just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean it’s not valid, and just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean someone’s committed a huge sin.

So, there it is. You all know the comment policy. That being said, go for it. Discuss.

ETA: I see that the post I pointed to has seemingly been modified to take down the names of two specific book blogs. Thanks to Carmen below for pointing that out.

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My Temper, and Linkspam

Have blown out three electrical appliances in the last two days. (Temper, my besetting sin.) And today I’m not going to be slowing down for anything until dinnertime (and maybe not even then) so here are some links in lieu of a post:

* The Return of the REAL King, a review of a new book on Elvis. I am pretty fascinated by the ongoing worship of all things Presley, and this book seems to focus on a little-mined subject: the actual making of the music instead of the messy personal life.

* A fascinating look at Russian television.

* Waterloo teeth. This is one of the reasons why I don’t get when people say history is boring. It’s juicy and fabulous and utterly weird.

* Chuck Wendig’s utterly hilarious take on why you don’t want to be a writer. I laughed until I cried, holding onto both sides of my desk, sides heaving and tears rolling down my cheeks.

* Monica Valentinelli on a writer’s hidden enemy.

And with that, I’m outie. Got to work while the iron’s hot, and there’s errands today besides. See you.

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Magic, Begin

Thanks to everyone who has suggested Victoriana for me! Especially Reader Ariella–thanks for the ISBNs, they make things a ton easier.

My project for the morning (other than bouldering and getting in wordcount) is to find a decent map of London in the 1850s; one at least 2ft by 3ft that I can get laminated and tack up over my fireplace. Of course I plan on altering things with (relative) abandon–what use is history if one can’t have a little fun–but I’d like the bones up there for me to build on, so to speak.

Yes, this is for the current work, but I don’t know if I can announce it yet, so mum’s the word until I get permission. But it’s awesome, I am hideously excited and almost dancing with glee every time I get a chance to work. This is the period of creation where everything is shiny and fun and new, where everything feeds the work and serendipity, not to mention synchronicity, is working overtime. There comes a certain point where something clicks in a book, the characters get a breath of life and start misbehaving in earnest, and the whole thing achieves a critical mass and starts behaving like an organism in its own right rather than just a disparate collection of words.

I love that.

So, I’ve a fresh cuppa and a mass of reference books stacked at my elbow, tissues within reach and the window to my street uncovered. The clouds are gray cotton, the street is gray pavement, even the grass is grayish. But there’s color and life and motion inside my head.

Let the magic begin.

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A Certain Value of Sane

Things I’ve said to myself this morning:

“Self, going out into the freezing wind with wet hair was a Bad Idea.”

“The last two miles are easiest. Keep running. *wheeze*” (They’re not easiest, they’re just there and I might as well do them once I’ve done the other five.)

“Oh, look. Another broken tea mug.” (No, I did not break it because it sassed me. I just put it down wrong. And it fell, and I thought of catching it on my foot, but that sent it careening…oh, hell, you don’t want to know the rest.)

“I probably shouldn’t have told that kid to watch her tone, but dammit, she deserved it.” (The bus stop is sometimes a madhouse in the mornings.)

“OW! Well, now we know THAT hurts.” (Said a couple times, actually–a few shocks of static electricity since the wind’s up and it’s dry, a stubbed toe, a banged-up knee, and fingers pinched in a drawer.)

“Driving in downtown Portland on a Tuesday won’t be that bad, right?” (The store out in the burbs doesn’t have what I want. *girds loins* Nos morituri, and all that…)

“Self, you just had to pick the one historical period you don’t know enough about. Welcome to research hell.” (I seriously need to get my Victoriana on.)

“Why does Indian food make me smell like buttered toast the next day?” (WEIRD, right?)

“You know, if I wasn’t walking in the middle of the road, they probably wouldn’t have tried to run me over.” (…Yeah. I was thinking about gaslamps.)

“Eh, why not. It can’t hurt.” (Famous last words.)

“Don’t you look at me like that. I have the opposable thumbs!” (Okay, so this was said to a squirrel who gave me a filthy look as I surprised her in my front yard. What she was doing with that stick I have no idea. Anyway. Also said to squirrels this morning: “Goddamn peeping Toms!” Look, they were trying to peer into my window! I CANNOT MAKE THIS SH!T UP.)

“Five more minutes…” (When my alarm went off this morning. You all know how THAT goes.)

“You know today is going to be one of those days where it’s fun to be you but nobody else will get it, right?” (Staring in mirror as I put my Kuan Yin earrings on, to remind myself to be gentle.)


Have fun out there, dear Reader. And stay warm. The wind is cold, and it tends to drive people a little crazy–what, me? What are you talking about? I’m sane.

Well, reasonably sane. Maybe. I guess. For a certain value of “sane.”

Over and out.

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