Strangely Restful

Gulag I finished Anne Applebaum’s GULAG: A History last night. Right before it I read Kolyma Tales, which means my head is full of history right now, and not very nice history at that. It’s chilling to see how well repression and the simple expedient of giving some slaves slightly better conditions in return for their help in suppression of the others works.

Next up is a translation of Anabasis, and a slightly different slice of Russian history–Russia Against Napoleon. I’ve often thought of reading Caulaincourt‘s account of the Grand Armee’s retreat–it was much referenced during the Eastern Front in the Second World War.

Other than that, there was a great deal of hither-and-yon this weekend, the kids visiting their friends and errands needing to be run. I did manage to get some hostas in the ground, some radishes planted, and also enough piano practice that the polonaise is coming along. I suppose I should practice the left hand with a metronome, but I’m not that ambitious yet. I have begun doing junior Hanon exercises instead of just plain scales to warm up. I might even devote one day of practice a week to just-Hanon. It’s strangely restful.

As for work, I finished the revisions on Rose & Thunder last week, and this week is for long, loooooooong days of producing new wordcount on Cal & Trinity as well as revising Blood Call. There’s the upcoming launch of Kin, the third in my fairytale series, my particular retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. I’m going to be highlighting the Kin launch in the next few weeks, so buckle your seatbelts for that.

And now it’s time to get started on the ten-hour workday. I’ve reference books set handily, tea brewing, and the dogs under my desk.

Over and out.

Chilled Clear Through

Blue iceI have decided this week I’m going to finish SKIN,* do the revisions on Rose & Thunder (my retelling of Beauty & the Beast) and get serious wordcount on Cal & Trinity done. All that, and piano lessons, daily running (I’m back on the daily plan, and it feels good) and a whole lot of tea. If there’s any errands to be done, too bad, I’m busy with the wordage.

Of course, that’s the plan. We’ll see what actually happens.

Last night was stormy–actual thunder, which we don’t often get in these parts. Miss B huddled against me, shaking hard enough to wake me once or twice when things got loud. Poor girl. I hugged her and went back to sleep, but this morning she’s tired, too. So there was no run for her this morning, which was okay because it was extremely damp. More like swimming than running, and the Mad Tortie was at the door when I arrived home, damp and very disgruntled.

Serves her right for sneaking outside.

Anyway, I am chilled clear through even after a shower and dry clothes. Time for tea, and to get another chapter of Kori’s adventures written. I won’t be very communicative today; my raw edges are on display and every small brush is painful. A retreat from the world is in order, methinks.

* Well. It didn’t take long for someone to ruin that. SKIN is now removed from Wattpad, and will remain so.

Less Serious Business

Windows Oh, what fools we mortals be. No reason in particular for me to realise this now, but it’s been in my head all morning. Motherhood is, among other things, an education in just shaking your head and carrying on, figuring “it’s mildly weird but not hurting anyone.” One’s metric for deciding “how worried will I get about this” goes something like: 1. Is anyone dead? 2. Is anyone bleeding? 3. Is anyone otherwise injured? 4. Will anyone die from this in the next 24 hours? 5. Is there major property damage? If all that is no, there’s no need for crisis mode. It’s taken me a long time to stop using crisis mode for small things, mostly because I was trained very harshly, from a very young age, to consider any small change in an adult’s mood as a potential explosion.

I had a big long post about serious business in my head for today, but it’s been pretty grim around here lately, so I’m shelving that. The weekend was full of all sorts of crazy–I unfortunately had to go to the grocer’s on Friday so the Princess could make homemade Nutella as a birthday present for one of her friends. It was madness, and the madness didn’t end there. I suppose American football (bread and circuses, bread and circuses) makes people a little odd. Sunday morning, while I was out for my run, I was almost run over twice by weaving drunkards who had decided to kick the game off early. I saw other instances of bad driving and some more out and out “too blitzed to be on the road.” Add insomnia Saturday night to the mix, and I was ready for the weekend to be over, over, over.

So today, I have tea, bread dough is rising, and I’m washing sheets. (It’s about damn time, I didn’t get a lot of housework done yesterday.) I’ve figured out why the superspies-with-viruses book wasn’t working–I was writing the wrong scene. Too much boyfriend and not enough roller derby. I’m about to shake that up with a convenience-store robbery and some good old-fashioned fisticuffs. Also, there’s citric acid in the bread dough, since I want more sourdough tang than I’m getting, even with starter or levain.

I also realized, recently, that I hadn’t been filling the creative well enough. I can’t keep up a breakneck writing pace without giving the internal engine visual and textual food. So I’m building more movie-watching and much more reading into my schedule, even if it means I have to meet a deadline a week early instead of a month. (TORTURE. SHEER TORTURE. I like being early.) I binged on Kurosawa and Bogie/Bacall, and now I’m needing something pretty but without a lot of plot meatiness. Which means at some point today I’m to go through the DVDs, to find pretty shinies for the Muse to snack on.

As for textual, well, Ulysses isn’t really feeding much. I enjoy the allusions, of course, and the glimpses of historical Dublin. But I find Stephen Dedalus an insufferable, pretentious twit of an authorial insertion. Adulterous Bloom isn’t much better–I can see why Penelope/Molly would cuckold him–but at least his POV is enjoyable. I understand the literary devices Joyce is playing with, but the aroma of dead white man in the pages makes the game rather less enjoyable. I’ll finish it–I can’t do otherwise, now it’s a personal labor, much as cleaning the Augean stables–but having finished it, I doubt I’ll ever revisit. Historical and informative, but I wouldn’t want to live there. I can’t wait to go back to Pliny. Who is a dead white guy too, but at least he didn’t indulge in such blatant authorial insertion.

And there we have it. A lean banquet indeed.

photo by: Exothermic

Interpretive Gif Dance


My day started like this:


With Odd Trundles beginning to groan at 5am that he needed to peeeeeeeeeeee, despite having been out before bedtime last night. His real goal, of course, was climbing onto my bed when he got back inside, because I will occasionally on a Sunday let him do so. The fact that I did not this morning–I wanted another little bit of sleep before my alarm rang–has made the Cruelest and Most Unjust of Humans.

And then there was this:

run away

What happens when a car backfires while Lili and B are running? LOTS OF ADRENALINE, THAT’S WHAT. Also, getting home and checking email, and taking a deep breath to open the filtered emails, and seeing the toxicity in there. Dear trolls, maybe you should take up knitting? You seem a little wound up.

And now it’s like this:

jared is disappoint

Because I accidentally dumped a quarter-cup of heavy cream in my tea, and couldn’t drink it, as my arteries began screaming as soon as I looked at it. (Waste of a good cuppa. Sigh, again.) And Trundles is groaning because he’s finished his morning nap but Miss B is exhausted from running so she won’t play with him, the Mad Tortie is wailing to go outside, I have on three layers of eyeliner already, and these characters won’t stop kissing.


Wake me up when it’s bedtime.

Too Soon To Tell

Genesis I finished Killer Elite last night, and am attempting Ulysses next. Which will be a tiny bit of a change, I’m sure. Joyce doesn’t interest me as much as he probably could–except for his love letters to Nora–mostly because he’s one of the Dead White Men of Litrachur. (And frankly, Nora’s vanished letters interest me much more.) All the same, reading to understand allusions other authors have made is good for one’s soul, and one should try things one suspects one will dislike regularly, in order to keep a certain flexibility.

Other than that, work continues, as usual. I was a trifle surprised yesterday when someone labeled me a “hater” for saying “you might want to think about why your mind immediately went that, good luck.” Of course, the instant one doesn’t respond the way someone else thinks one should, the labels start to fly fast and furious. I noticed this in the most recent breakup as well. Most people have a script, and if you don’t give your line, they suddenly become towering, rage-filled petty dictator-directors, throwing the pages at you and screaming “you’ll never work in this town again!”

My response to that has become strangely blasé. Mostly because I grew up in an environment with constantly changing “scripts” roiling around me and the adults in my life ready to severely punish any wrong answer. I’ve become troublingly good at unpacking the response the other person truly wants, not just what they say they want. (Like any sharp tool, it cuts both ways–but that’s say it with me, another damn blog post.) The luxury of therapy is that I’ve trained myself to stop and make a conscious decision to give what the other person wants or not, and feel much less guilty when I misread someone else’s agenda. Gone are the days when I jump simply because someone applies the electrodes of “I NEEEEED this from you!” Which is a pretty damn good feeling, actually.

That all brings me to another article I read yesterday, on what grown children might “owe” to abusive, toxic, or destructive parents. I went round and round, in therapy, over my feelings of obligation versus my need to keep my psychic, emotional, and physical integrity intact so I can care for those I have a greater obligation to–namely, my children and the one or two people who have proven themselves to be trustworthy friends. In the end, the guilt is less than the damage that would be done if I ever re-engaged with any number of toxic people. I suppose getting older means weighing two evils in just such a manner, and choosing the less cumulatively calamitous one.

Outside, the hyacinths and crocuses have lifted their little green heads. Daffodils have begun showing signs of tiptoeing forth as well. It’s a bit early, but after our last deep freeze winter’s been very mild, all things considered. It might turn out to be a good year for the garden.

Of course, getting older also means you look at a sentence like that and constantly think, well, it’s too soon to tell.


photo by: Indy Charlie

From Elfland to Kickstarter

King of Elfland's Daughter I finished reading The King of Elfland’s Daughter yesterday–Sunday being the day I’m most likely to have a chunk of time for concentrated reading. Dunsany’s been compared to Tolkien, and as far as I can see, neither of them cared to give women much agency or independent being as characters, which bothered me slightly when I read, near the end of the book, about Lirazel’s mother. She’s treated to a whole almost-paragraph or two; it was a little bitter-making because I’d been wondering where the Queen of Elfland was in all this, for pages and pages.

What I did like very much about the book was the descriptive flow, the craft, the sense that I was reading something translated from an older language. I can see where other authors paid tribute to Dunsany, and I like following those paths, reading things other people found joy and fuel in.

Change of subject: I am now very glad I didn’t do a Kickstarter for the projected second Steelflower book. Why? Because of this. Basically, another author got harassed and doxxed because she dared to be honest about where a significant portion of the raised funds would go–towards groceries and rent while she took the time to write the book her fans said they wanted, a book the trad publisher wasn’t interested in. A book she would be taking a significant pay cut to write. The entitlement of the assholes who harassed and doxxed her is breathtaking–what the fuck do they think writers live on while writing those books they love to consume, ‘ship, and torrent? Everyone’s got rent, and everyone’s gotta eat, and this persistent idea that “all writers are rich” or “artists shouldn’t care about money” does so much harm and strangles so many cool things before they can be born.

*sigh* I thought about it deeply and did a lot of number-crunching. It wouldn’t have made economic sense for me to do another Steelflower book without raising at least $15K, and afterward, the hit I’d take from torrenting and piracy would mean that I’d barely break even on the project. Sad, but true.

This is part of the cost of piracy, and part of the cost of closing our eyes to the ease with which people can harass on the internet. If it wasn’t socially acceptable to steal digital goods, or to harass women on the internet–if there was, say, a social cost to doing those things, instead of the “payment” thieves and harassers get by banding together and patting each other on the back–who knows what fantastic new creations we could all be enjoying right now?

Anyway. I’m in a mood where I do not suffer impoliteness with any grace today, as you can probably tell. Time for me to sign off, get the dogs settled for the morning, and get to work on Trinity’s story.

Over and out.

Winter Light

morning sun

Due to the kids being in school and the shortness of winter days, I get sunlight through the office window after I’ve already been writing for a little bit–that is, if it isn’t cloudy. Those mornings are particularly golden. There’s a quality to winter light that makes writing a little easier, in some ways.

It’s about time for me to go looking for another glass apple, too.

Out of Trouble

piano The weekend was spent in an orgy of housecleaning (frankly the only manner of orgy I have any patience for nowadays) and errand-running, since I’ve been scrambling to catch up with a bunch of stuff and have let both slip. The furious activity means that things are relatively clean and the Yule tree is up–the kids put the ornaments not his year, without me even needing to hand the delicate ones over. Not a single fight, eyeroll, pinch, or flutter of sarcasm was had.

I have marvelous children.

The dogs are also jingling festively–Odd is freshly washed–but not because I’m tormenting them. They have new ID tags on their collars, nice ones, just in case. Both are microchipped as well, but belt and suspenders (plus a third means of pants-holding) are always good. The old tags were getting a bit difficult to read.

Today I mail off proof pages, make a list of stuff to do next, record some pronunciations for an audiobook, squeeze a short run in between everything, maybe even get my hair trimmed. It irks me to trim it when it’s still so short, but I do want it to grow in nicely, and since C is in remission (oh, heavens, thank you) I can let it. I have AMAZING bedhead, even though I have nowhere to stick spare pencils when I’m proofing. This means I don’t go to bed with pencils and pens festooning my head–a bright lining to every dark cloud, I guess?

Piano practice proceeds apace. I’m working through a Junior Hanon book–the regular Hanon was too frustrating for my skill level, and the Princess talked me into using the Junior one like she does. She’s discovered she likes playing ragtime best, her teacher is surprised and pleased. I’m still chugging away at a Bach polonaise, and have finished my review of the first lesson-book, which means I’m back in the second lesson-book and plonking ahead with grim determination. There are things I want to get good enough to play, but that won’t happen without a lot of consistent practice. I suppose it keeps me out of trouble.

And, incidentally, out of video games. I got bored with the latest WoW extension–not precisely bored, I guess, but when you’re in-garrison trade chat is on, and it’s wearying to have that unmoderated sewer sitting on your screen while you’re trying to upgrade your barn, for God’s sake. So I deleted the whole thing off my hard drive and have turned off any subscription. I just don’t have the patience for some aspects of multiplayer anymore, though I loved the idea of customizing one’s own garrison and fighting off invasions, and I like the auction functions. I did try Guild Wars, but since I can’t window it and it takes forever to get anything crafted, I lost interest.

I’m hoping this is just a phase, because I do like gaming, but all the stuff that comes with multiplayer is just too toxic, and the dopamine hits just aren’t enough to justify the time sink, the expenditure, or the putting up with trade chat. It’s like all Barrens all the time, with a healthy dose of GG dudebro, and none of that is appealing. It makes me wonder how much money game companies are missing out on by not moderating chat a little more. Of course, given how awful chat is and how much they’d have to pay someone to mod it, they probably break even.

So instead of gaming, it’s practicing piano and reading. I’m working my way through stuff in my collection I don’t remember reading, and planning on making a dent in the towering TBR pile. It might end up giving my brain more to chew on in the long run, but I miss rep grinding or dungeon clearing with a good group.

Oh well.

Shoplifting Dream Assassins

dream landscape 2 I dreamed I got a job at a drugstore attached to a mall. A friend and I were hired at the same time, and our first few days went smoothly…until the manager had a day off and the assistant manager, a petty tyrant, took over. He was so nasty-tempered and insistent that my friend and I not speak to each other I outright quit that day and walked out, but had to stay in the area because I was my friend’s ride home. Which led to me wandering through crowds at a mall, never my favourite thing. I walked behind a group of kids–I think, in the dream, I was barely sixteen myself–and one of them bitched so loudly I said, “Oh, look, it’s Cher,” and they didn’t get it.

As I wandered, gradually recognizing that I was lost and couldn’t find the store to pick my friend up as the time to drive her home approached, I realized there were two groups of people using the crowd as cover–a team of shoplifting assassins and another team responsible for catching them. (Exactly how I knew the shoplifters were assassins is a mystery.) I got a text from someone I didn’t know, and was trying to text back that it was a wrong number, when my phone turned into a dishrag. So I put it back in my pocket, and I was having a type of fun positioning myself to watch the two teams without them seeing me when I suddenly thought, it’s time to pick her up, all you have to do is go outside and follow the building around and you’ll find her and the car.

Which led to me waking up, with a cold, sweat-gush feeling of relief that I’d figured something out. I felt a little guilty for leaving the friend working there when I had decided to quit, but relieved that I could just walk away from a bad situation and wasn’t trapped, trying to make it better.

My brain, honestly. Now I’m absorbing my morning coffee and wondering if a team of shoplifting assassins is a story idea or just one of those weird misfires the dreaming mind is prone to. Probably the latter, because why would assassins shoplift?

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