truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (writing: glass cat)
ME: Underfoot Cat, what are you doing?
UNDERFOOT CAT: I'm singin' in the rain, just singin'--
ME: Try again.
U.C.: Um. Your socks were lonely?
ME: My dirty and undoubtedly reeking socks that I just took off my feet after coming back from the barn?
U.C.: Yup! They're awesome!
ME: From the way you're treating them, you'd think I've been walking through the catnip mines.
U.C.: Um. I like horses?
ME: Have you ever seen a horse?
U.C.: . . . Maybe.
[UNDERFOOT CAT rubs his face lovingly against my argyle socks]
ME: You do realize this is not normal, don't you?
U.C.: It's not my fault! I was found up a tree! *
ME: Where all the horses wore argyle socks?
U.C.: It was an awesome tree.
---
*True.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (sock elephant)
1. The annual auction for Con or Bust starts February 10. I have donated two items:

(a.) the absolute last copy of Unnatural Creatures
(b.) a signed copy of The Goblin Emperor (yes, this is ANOTHER way you can win! aside from naming my sock elephant, that is)

There are many other fabulous items, also. Please check it out!

2. Katherine Addison has a webpage! There isn't much on it yet, and I welcome suggestions for material you all would like to see.

3. And while I'm on the subject, the release date for The Goblin Emperor is April 1st, should you desire to know. Katherine's currently minimalist website has links to pre-order options.

4. The Kelpies by Andy Scott is JAW-DROPPINGLY AMAZING. Also? Ponies! By which, of course, I mean draft horses.

5. The Locus Recommended Reading List for 2013 is up. Go read something!

+1. Peter Mulvey's Kickstarter for his new album Silver Ladder is going just swimmingly, but he's reaching for his stretch goal of $50k or 1,000 backers. If you know Mr. Mulvey's music, you know why I'm signal-boosting this. If you don't know Mr. Mulvey's music, I heartily encourage you to give him a try.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (porpentine: snow)
1. For anyone looking for verisimilitude, below about fifteen degrees Fahrenheit is too cold to ride. (Below zero is too cold for ANYTHING.)

2. Our Formerly Feral Ninja was well taught by her Feralista Mama. On Saturday I found her with a dead mouse (!) in our bedroom (ZOMG!!!11!1!). She hadn't eaten it yet, thank goodness (because the only thing worse than a dead mouse is a dead regurgitated mouse, don't ask me how I know), but she was definitely giving me the fix my toy, biped look. I did not oblige her.

3. My dear friend and frequent enabler, [livejournal.com profile] heresluck, gave [livejournal.com profile] mirrorthaw and me Season One of Elementary this holiday season. It took us a little more than a week to watch the whole thing, plus the special features (this is why it's a good thing I don't like many TV shows, because I am the opposite of will-power). I liked it a bunch. I liked the games it was playing with the source material; I adored Jonny Lee Miller, Lucy Liu, and Aidan Quinn (and Jon Michael Hall also!, although his character is not in the slightest canonical). In some ways I liked it more than Sherlock, in some less. I may make a longer post about it at some point, but the thing I actually wanted to note here is not directly related to the show; it's something I noticed in the special features, something I knew but that it's good to be reminded of. It is very difficult to give an interesting answer to a general question. The actors and writers were getting thrown these slow underhand lobs over and over (you could tell by the answers they were giving), and it just didn't give them anything interesting to say (especially because they had to avoid spoilers). There was nothing they could hit out of the park. The set designer and the prop guy and the editor and the composer, on the other hand, who could talk about very specific details, were awesome. The composer actually demonstrated the way he puts music to a scene, which was very cool, but the best bit for me was the prop guy, who said, "Every prop has a ghost." By which he meant that, once you've established a prop, an object with which an actor interacts, it's a visual cue that tells its own part of the story without anything needing to be said. It was a tiny interview, but it was brilliant.

But nobody asked Jonny Lee Miller, in these tiny special feature interviews, specific questions about the choices he was making as an actor. Nobody asked the writers to talk specifically about how they wrote a particular episode, or how they decided what they were going to do with the bits of canon they chose to interpolate. (And there are some very interesting and specific questions that could be asked.) And so they couldn't really get beyond platitudes, like the platitudes Crash makes Nuke rehearse in Bull Durham. And it's worth remembering as a rule of thumb: to get interesting answers, you have to ask specific questions.

4. Things are better with my little Cthulhu machine. We tied the tentacles to the headboard with twine, and I can now roll over without encoiling myself. I still hate the fucker, but that's a different problem.

5. The present given me by 2013, like a cold dead squirrel on my pillow, is migraines! I now get migraines as part of my PMS package. Did you know, there is nothing cool about migraines at all? Nothing works on them except specific drugs, and those specific drugs can cause heart attacks and strokes by the inherent nature of what they are. (The first one I tried also made me so light-headed and woozy that I was no better off than I'd been with the migraine and its wicked little nail gun.) And mine last for days.

They aren't bad migraines. Even without the drugs, I'm not incapacitated. I'm not nauseated. The pain is, comparatively, not as bad as my menstrual cramps even now (and not even in the same league as the menstrual cramps I had in college, which routinely hit too serious for numbers).

But dear freaking Jesus is it annoying.

5 things

May. 3rd, 2012 06:38 pm
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
1. You know the faces people make when they're about to sneeze? Horses do that, too.

2. Sold "Coyote Gets His Own Back" to Apex Magazine & reprint rights for "The Watcher in the Corners" to Ghosts: Recent Hauntings, edited by Paula Guran.

3. Also, because I failed abysmally to blog on the actual launch day, Chicks Dig Comics is out! I contributed an essay on revenge tragedy and Sandman.

4. If arthropods give you a wiggins, DO NOT CLICK THROUGH to the story about the Cincinnati Zoo's Emperor Scorpion and her twenty-five babies. Seriously. Don't. Instead, may I suggest Point Defiance Zoo's unbelievably charming clouded leopard cubs?

5. Speaking of things I failed abysmally to mention, congratulations to all the 2012 Hugo nominees!
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (horse: fd-milo)
Diana Wynne Jones famously deduced that the horses of Fantasyland are vegetative bicycles. Here are some ways that real horses are anything but:

1. Horses are very large animals. This is something that you can know in the abstract, as we all do, and still be taken aback by when interacting with an actual horse. Horses take up space. Their heads are massive chunks of bone. Even when they're being affectionate, they're still a good eight to ten times larger than a human being, and they are proportionately stronger.

My perspective on large dogs has completely changed after two years of dressage lessons.

1a. Corrollary: horses have very large, hard, heavy, inflexible feet. Obviously, if one steps on you, it's going to hurt. But even a glancing accidental blow is likely to leave bruises. As I was bringing Milo in the other night, my foot happened to get in the way of his. (See above re: horses take up a lot of space.) Entirely accidental on both sides. And I ended up with a welt on my heel where the edge of his hoof hit me.

2. Horses are, on average, thousand pound herbivores. This means their digestive systems have to keep on trucking pretty much constantly. Which is to say, they are poop machines. And you want them to be. A horse who isn't pooping regularly (by
which I mean several times a day) is a horse who is in trouble.

Also, and I'm sorry to burst the bubble of everyone who grew up with My Little Ponies*, horses fart. Noxiously. A lot.

3. Horses are also thousand pound prey animals. They do not think like human beings. They also do not think like cats or dogs. Even a very calm, sensible horse is going to spook, and he's going to spook at things that make no sense. Milo is in general unflappable, but he has spooked, for no apparent reason, at tree stumps, a wood pile, and an elderly VW. (He's also spooked at the barn cat, but I can kind of see his point there. She did emerge from under the bench quite suddenly, so we'll ignore the fact that she's at best 1/100th of his size.) He's also spooked at himself.

4. Horses are creatures with opinions. The are, for instance, herd animals. A solitary horse is an unhappy horse. They will try to follow each other pretty much automatically, which can be awkward for their riders. Take away their pasture mate(s), and they're going to be distressed. They're likely to call for their absent friends. (One of the horses at the barn screams.) And in general, if they don't like something, they will find a way to let you know.

5. A horse's primary means of interacting with the world is her mouth. (Hard, heavy, inflexible feet, remember?) Anything that isn't a threat is likely to be something that needs to be tasted. Also, horses are opportunistc and greedy (see above re: the needs of their digestive systems). Anything that can be tasted, will be tasted. And eaten if possible.

To sum up: horses have presence. They take up space in the world. They are intensely biological. They have opinions (often very inconvenient ones). And they have needs, both physical and emotional. They get bored. They get scared. They get lonely. They are the farthest thing from vegetative bicycles you can imagine.


---
*Completely OT, but can I just say how utterly creeped out I am by how thin My Little Ponies have gotten? (Compare the first link, which is current MLP, to the second two, which are '80s MLP.) I mean, seriously, Hasbro, WTF? They're PONIES, not heroin-chic fashion models. FEED THEM.

5 things

Dec. 18th, 2011 08:57 am
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
1. I'm seeing a sleep therapist now, because I would like to get off the potentially addictive hypnotic that is currently holding my insomnia down. She told me what I really already knew, that I need to get on a fixed schedule of going to bed at the same time every night and getting up at the same time every morning. Which means getting up at 6:30 on weekends. I HATE THIS. I have always been a night owl, and mornings are my favorite time to sleep. But I am determined to give this fixed schedule a fair shot, so here I am, awake and fed and medicated and dressed at 8:30 on a Sunday morning. (Nobody says I have to move fast on weekends, just that I have to get up.)

The fixed schedule idea also means that I have to go to bed--as in, in bed, lights out, eyes shut, at 10:15. And ideally I need to try to decrease my computer usage in the late evenings, because of light issues (photosensitivity plus glow of monitor equals confused circadian rhythms). Which means I have even less time to get computer things done, and I am still trying to finish this goddamn book. Ergo, as little as I have been an online presence in recent months, I'm going to be even less of one, at least for a while. Which is Teh Suck, but I have to find a way to keep the insomnia chained in the basement, and long-term drug usage is just not the way I want to go.

2. So, when I was making my whirlwind trip to Boston, I discovered that O'Hare has a Field Museum store. This is a brilliantly terrible idea on the Field Museum's part, but it did mean I could take [livejournal.com profile] matociquala meerkat socks as a hostess gift (because seriously--meerkat socks). And I bought for myself a pair of tiny Sue earrings. They have become my favorite earrings--for the one set of holes I don't just leave rings in all the time--for days I don't have to dress like an adult.

3. Two really nice capsule reviews of The Bone Key: (1) and (2). And Somewhere Beneath Those Waves got a starred review from Library Journal (here if you're interested) and a very kind mention from Lesley Hall over at Aqueduct Press's blog.

4. These fossa pups, Ingrid, Heidi, and Gretchen, show that Madagascar really knows how to work the charismatic predator* angle.

5. Have a picture of Milo and me:

(Stepping Stones Studio 2011)
---
*[livejournal.com profile] ursulav came up with that useful designation.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
1. The Jellicle Ninja is doing much better. Thank you for all your kind wishes!
2. Brit Mandelo has reviewed Somewhere Beneath Those Waves for Tor.com
3. Apex Magazine will be reprinting "The Yellow Dressing Gown" in their 31st issue.
4. I still like my job as a database thrall.
5. The horse continues to be a good horse. A goofy, exasperating horse, but a good horse nonetheless.

Anniversary

Aug. 7th, 2011 05:08 pm
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (horse: fd-milo)
One year and one week ago today, I broke my ankle at--as it happens--a horse show.

The fact that it was a horse show was pure serendipity. I wasn't showing, and my injury was not in any way horse-related. But it lets me have one of those tidy pieces of ring composition that fiction does so often and real life so rarely. Today, at the same facility, Milo and I rode in our first schooling show. In the Intro-A test, we came in second in a field of three with a score of 54.38. In the Intro-B test, we came in third in a field of five, with a score of 59.38.

This is respectable for our very first show, and I am very happy.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (horse: fd-milo)
ME: [rummaging in tack room for ointment to put on a cut on Milo's right foreleg]
MILO: [from the cross-ties] I'm PEEEEEEEEEEing in the aisle, just PEEEEEEEEEEing in the--
ME: [emerging from the tack room like the wrath of god] STOP THAT YOU HORRIBLE HORSE!
MILO: What, me? I would never!
ME: Into your stall with you.
MILO: [plaintively] But I don't have to pee now.
ME: Tough.
[five minutes later]
MILO: I'm PEEEEEEEEing in my stall, just PEEEEEEEEEEing in my stall, what a glorious feeling . . .
ME: [facepalm]
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (horse: fd)
First of all, go read Kij Johnson's excellent story, "Ponies." It won't take long, and I promise I'll be here when you get back.



Kij's story is not about real horses, as the story itself makes clear. It's about girls and cliques and about what we are and aren't willing to do to fit in. (I love poor doomed Sunny for saying no.) And it's about imaginary horses.

Many little girls love/are obsessed by horses. I was one of them. I went to a summer camp I hated for four years because they had horseback riding lessons. (Where by "lessons," I mean, "Here is a bored pony. He's going to walk in a circle for an hour with a bunch of other bored ponies while you sit on him. Try not to fall off.") I earned the Girl Scout horseback riding badge. I read the Black Stallion books and National Velvet and everything Marguerite Henry ever wrote. One of my early efforts at story-telling was imagining I had a unicorn friend who would run beside the school bus on long field trips. I had Breyer horses and Barbie horses and random model horses (one of whom had jointed legs--he was awesome). And I had My Little Ponies (which are clearly the ponies in Kij's story).

And none of this had a damn thing to do with real horses.

Let me be clear: as an adult, I love horses. I love my horse in particular, even though he's a complete nimrod. I also love the other horses at the barn, and the horses I see at Midwest Horse Fair, and the horses I only meet on the internet. But they're not the horses I dreamed about as a little girl.

Horses are large mammals. They sweat and slobber, and they poop a lot. They are prey animals, which means almost anything can potentially be perceived as a threat. (This week, Milo--who doesn't spook much, and certainly not at the things you would expect--was alarmed by the saddle fitter's parked car on Wednesday and by a pile of sawed up tree stumps on Thursday. To be fair, the car was parked where there usually is no car, but I'm still puzzled about why the tree stumps were a threat. I once saw his pasture mate, who is possibly the most phlegmatic horse on earth, spook at an abandoned tent. There's no rhyme or reason there that a human brain cam make sense of.) Many of them are greedy, many of them are lazy, and all of them are perverse. And while it is true that a horse and rider can work together beautifully and amazingly, this doesn't happen because the horse has a telepathic ability to know what the rider wants, or because the horse loves the rider so much that he'll do anything to please. It happens because the rider has taught the horse to obey her commands.

Dressage is not a girly sport. It is all about convincing an animal five to ten times your size that YOU are the boss mare. It requires muscle and focus and an iron determination to get what you want. It requires a tremendous amount of skill. And it requires a completely unromanticized view of the horse you're working with. No rose-scented breath or cotton-candy blood here.

Little girls dream about horses who understand them perfectly and love them completely and who carry them uncomplainingly on fabulous adventures. I get it. I still feel the draw, if I'm honest. But (and there's a whole parable about growing up here, and possibly in Kij's story as well) I treasure my real horse, and I treasure the work I do with him. It's a lot harder than what I imagined as a child, but I wouldn't trade it.

5 things

Jun. 24th, 2011 11:08 am
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (writing: fennec-working)
1. Not to be gross, but the snotbergs in my head are calving.

2. Milo <3 June

3. Since a couple people have asked, Somewhere Beneath Those Waves is a short story collection. It will be published by Prime in November, and will collect all the non-Booth stories I've published up until 2010. (I.e., "After the Dragon" will be in it; "The Devil in Gaylord's Creek" will not.)

4. There is no number four.

5. Bat-eared fox kits! They're going to grow up to look like this, so you can see that it takes a while after birth before the ears deploy. In honor of my love for critters who can use their ears for drag chutes, have some more pictures. (Plus a bonus fennec fox.)
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (horse: fd-milo)
1. The tow truck guy, bless his tattooed heart, figured out what's causing the Saab's psychosis before I had to pay him to tow it to the service guys.

2. It's the ignition switch. Now we wait to find out whether the service guys can rebuild it or whether we have to get a new one . . . on which there is no ETA. I love my 1997 Saab, but there are drawbacks.

3. Speaking of drawbacks, my insurance company voted no on the Lyrica prescription. I need to find time to call my doctor's office and find out what we do about round 2.

4. On the other hand, the acupuncture is working. I took a walk with [livejournal.com profile] mirrorthaw yesterday after my appointment and had to double-take twice. Once because my ankle didn't hurt and once later because my thigh muscles weren't stringed-instrument-tense. It didn't last, but boy it was nice while it was there.

5. And finally, today I had the odd experience of consciously witnessing myself have a breakthrough. I've been struggling for most of a year, since before I broke my ankle, with cantering. (Yet another thing fantasy writers don't think about.) I fell off the first time I tried cantering off the lunge line--actually it was three hundred and sixty-three days ago, May 19, I just went and looked--and since then I've been struggling both to learn how to canter and to stop being afraid of it. (The huge hiatus because of the ankle did not help.) But today we were working off the lunge line, and I asked my teacher if we could try cantering. Not because I thought I ought to, but because I wanted to. She was delighted.

Milo and I cantered. I didn't fall off and I wasn't terrified I was going to (although I do need to quit trying to grip the stirrups with my toes). It was splendid.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (horse: fd-milo)
I would like to write a really long post about Midwest Horse Fair, but my wrists say I'd better not. So instead, via [livejournal.com profile] matociquala, have this large, goofy, and lovely collection of horse noses.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (cats: nom de plume)
ME
1. washed (1) gray and (2) white bras.
2. outlined plot for the rest of Thirdhop Scarp.
3. got a page further in The Goblin Emperor revisions (I know, doesn't look like much, but trust me: it's huge).
4. picked up Emma's ashes (NOT "cremains") from the vet. She would be offended by the paw-print patterned tin; I will obviously have to find something more suitable.
5. bought a BRIGHT YELLOW Lamy fountain pen to replace the one that vanished over the weekend.
5.5 signed stock at the University Book Store
6. discovered that Shakespeare's Books has been reborn as Browzers Books. Feel that this is a sad come-down, namewise, but glad to see the bibliophoenix rise from the ashes.
7. bought The Horrors of the Half-Known Life: Male Attitudes toward Women and Sexuality in Nineteenth-Century America by G. J. Barker-Benfield (research); Women, Family, and Utopia: Communal Experiments of the Shakers, the Oneida Community, and the Mormons by Lawrence Foster (research); and Jack the Ripper: The Complete Casebook by Donald Rumbelow (research). I love my job.
8. wondered where the cut-off is between a respectable interest in historical criminology and a ghoulishly trashy taste for true crime.* One's own birth-date? Hardback vs. paperback? Use of the word "true" in the subtitle? Serial killer vs. non-serial killer?
9. picked up more cat food, more cat litter, more cat treats . . . and a three-day pass for the Midwest Horse Fair.
10. put more gasoline in the truck.

CATZILLA
1. hampered
2. purred
3. napped
4. talked to robins
5. purred

THE TERMINATOR (a.k.a. THE LITTLEST NINJA)
1. hampered
2. purred
3. napped
4. was mortified by Catzilla
5. purred
6. vanished into thin air and mysteriously reappeared
7. purred


---
*Having just marathoned the first season of The First 48, I'm not casting aspidistras at anyone. Just saying: there's clearly a cut-off somewhere, and I don't know where it is.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
1. [livejournal.com profile] saladinahmed is looking for a few good cartographers.

2. I am really tired of feeling like crap all the time.

3. OTOH, great dressage lesson yesterday, after which Milo got his revenge for having to admit I was the boss by (a.) depositing a generous pile of manure in the stable aisle, (b.) backing up to plant his foot in it, and then (c.) pretending he had not the least idea how to go forward again.

4. I R SRS CHEETAH. THIS R SRS FUZZ.

5. The pool was closed for maintenance all last week, but I got out there today. Of course, I forgot my watch. :P

Unknown amount of time, 20 laps.
308 miles, 10 laps.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (horse: fd-milo)
Someone should have been out at the barn with a camera today. June the Barn Cat jumped on my shoulder while I was grooming Milo, resulting in a three-species karmic chi love thing: June purring like a maniac while Milo whuffled her ear and then mine.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
1. Today is the launch day for Whedonistas.

2. Today is practically spring-like! All the doors were open at the barn and I was riding in a T-shirt. We pay, of course, in mud, but it's worth it.

3. Today is the day I'm starting a prescription of sleeping pills. You see, the thing about Pramipexole, the RLS medication I'm on, is that at a dose high enough to deal with the RLS, it makes it hard to get to sleep and impossible to stay asleep. Waking up every two to four hours is not actually much better than just staying awake. So we try the Ambien.

4. Today is also the launch day for [livejournal.com profile] jimhines' Goblin Tales.

5. Today is the Ides of March.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (horse: fd-milo)
I will not clothesline my human with the cross-ties.

5 things

Feb. 18th, 2011 02:07 am
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (horse: fd-milo)
1. We had a thirty-six hour internet outage yesterday and today. SO not amused.

2. Also not amused by Wisconsin's governor. But yay for the 30,000 protesters!

3. Sean Wallace has posted the cover mock-up for the new edition of The Bone Key. I am in love with the cover art.

4. 169 copies of Unnatural Creatures have arrived! I have signed and numbered the entire print run, and this weekend will be all about making up orders and shipping them out.

5. Today, Milo and I cantered off the lunge line! This is huge, because the last time I tried cantering off the lunge line, back in May, I fell off the horse. It's taken my instructor and me this long to get me to the point where I was ready to try again, and OMG it felt completely different and SO MUCH BETTER. Completely psyched.

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