truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (writing: glass cat)
UNDERFOOT CAT: OH THANK GOD YOU'RE FINALLY UP.
ME: Good morning to you, too.
CATZILA: we are perishing of starvation
UNDERFOOT CAT: PERISHING UTTERLY.
ME: It's 5:30 in the morning. You have never once in your entire spoiled-rotten little lives been fed at 5:30 in the morning.
UNDERFOOT CAT: I'm sorry, did you not hear me? PERISHING. UTTERLY.
CATZILLA: besides it's lunch-time in Paris
ME: . . . Paris, France?
CATZILLA: le chat est adorable
UNDERFOOT CAT: Q.E.D., dude. Where's our breakfast?
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (cats: nom de plume)
UNDERFOOT CAT: [on the bathroom sink] All right, where is it?
ME: [from the other side of the bathroom] It's not over there.
U.C.: Where the hell did it go?
ME: It's over here.
U.C.: Oh don't be ridiculous. How could it have gotten over there? It was right here.
ME: It's a bug. It has wings.
U.C.: [comes over to check] Wings?
ME: Which means you're not going to be able to catch it from the floor, either.
U.C.: [thoroughly put out] Wings is cheating.
(BUG: [from somewhere above our heads] Ha ha!)
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (cats: problem)
CAT A: OH MY GOD BIPED I AM STARVING
CAT B: ::sleeps::
CAT A: STARVING DID YOU HEAR ME
CAT B: ::sleeps::
CAT A: I AM ABOUT TO PERISH UTTERLY
CAT B: ::cracks one eye::
CAT A: UTTERLY
CAT B: ::goes back to sleep::
CAT A: ... utterly ...
ME: All right, all right, already.
[Cat A and I go downstairs and I put Cat A's food down]
CAT A: HALLELUJAH
[I leave the room for a minute to make a cup of tea and return]
CAT A: ::rampages merrily overhead::
CAT B: ::gives me a look and goes back to eating Cat A's food::
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (writing: glass cat)
[Storytellers Unplugged, March 29, 2008; awesome reader=awesome]
click! )
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (ws: hamlet)
ATTENTION WISCON: I will be in the dealers' room Saturday, pretty much from 10-6. You can find me behind [livejournal.com profile] elisem's table. Please feel free to stop by, say hello, and/or get me to sign books. WHICH I WILL BE HAPPY--NAY, DELIGHTED!--TO DO.

BONUS MYSTERY OBJECT: I have no idea what this is. It was moving against the current, so I'm guessing it's alive, but educated guesses and wild speculations are all welcome. (And, yes, I am the world's worst (possibly)wildlife photographer.
BMO1

BMO2

BMO3

I mean, yes, turtle, if it is alive. But a kind of peculiar looking turtle if so.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (mfu: ik-wtf)
So, basically, all I want out of a toothbrush is that it will clean my teeth. I have no brand loyalty, I don't care about fancy bristles or contours, I just want a goddamn toothbrush so my teeth don't rot and fall out of my head. Okay?

I went to brush my teeth this morning and noticed that my toothbrush looked like a dandelion clock. Aha! says I. The last time I was at Walgreens, I thought to purchase a new toothbrush. So I fished it out of the bag where it was reposing with the cough drops . . . and discovered that the manufacturer felt it necessary to package the toothbrush so impregnably that it required scissors to get at it. No, really, they say so themselves: CUT HERE. And you can scrabble at the package with your fingernails as much as you want--you ain't getting in.

I found a pair of scissors and cut the package open. WIKTORY! THE TOOTHBRUSH IS MINE! Threw the package away, turned toward the sink, and thought, Why am I suddenly in a cloud of artificial mint?

I looked suspiciously at the toothbrush.

It was all blue and green and contours! and fancy bristles! because you can't buy a toothbrush at Walgreens that isn't, and I just went for the cheapest one that wasn't some eye-wateringly awful color because I really do have better things to do with my time than comparison-shop the toothbrushes.

And, yes, it smelled of artificial mint. Strongly of artificial mint.

I turned back to the wastebasket and fished out the package. And here I quote, because I could not possibly make this up:
SCOPE® Scented Handle
Enhances brushing
experience through
release of fresh Scope®
scent from the handle.



o.O said I. And also O.o

But I needed to brush my teeth and the goddamn toothbrush was already in my hand.

I've never thought particularly about my brushing experience before, but I have to tell you that it is not in the least enhanced by the release of Scope® scent from the handle of my toothbrush. Frankly, I feel disturbed. And weirdly disenfranchised from my own dental hygiene. And like a tiny army has invaded my head wielding weapons soaked in artificial mint.

O.o I say. And also o.O

But this is apparently what you get if you don't stand in the aisle of Walgreens and read the packaging of the toothbrushes.

Here, mintily, endeth the lesson.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (tr: mole)
::emerges, blinking, from hole::

So things have been pretty hectic for me in the past couple of months. I've started a new job as a database thrall, and The Goblin Emperor should have been turned in September 1st but persists, hydra-like, in producing two new heads for every one I chop off.

There are all kinds of things that aren't getting the attention they deserve because of this (just ask Catzilla and the Plushie Ninja if you doubt me), but one thing I've failed ignominiously to do is to provide pointers to some things people who like my writing may be interested in.

(Marketing genius, ladies and gentlemen! as Peter Mulvey says.)

1. The compiled list of recommendations from #buyabiggaynovelforscottcardday is here.

2. Whedonistas, in which I along with a fuckton of awesome women have an essay, is available for the Kindle.

3. Back in the pre-The Tempering of Men-launch week, [livejournal.com profile] matociquala posted the first chapter. So, you know, if you haven't bought it yet or haven't heard that there's a sequel to A Companion to Wolves or something . . . it's still there.

(I am so bad at self-promotion, it is embarrassing.)

4. The ebooks of Shadow Unit Seasons 1-3 are available at Barnes & Noble (for the Nook) and Amazon (for the Kindle).

5. Just a note, because I should have said it here: "Absent from Felicity" will be included in Somewhere Beneath Those Waves, which I should also mention is, if you follow the link, available for pre-order.

Also, bonus item: the fabulous cover design for the new edition of The Bone Key. (Seriously. This is the best cover I have ever had. I am in love with it and want to give it chocolate.)

There. I think that does it.

::retreats back into hole::

epiphany

Jun. 22nd, 2011 12:23 pm
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (ws: damville)
I realized this morning as I was brushing my teeth that Golden Age detective fiction would make ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT Jacobean plays.

(And revenge tragedies are also, in an odd way, almost murder mysteries.)

The deaths are grotesque and imaginative (I've been rereading John Dickson Carr's Henry Merrivale books, and trust me, Jacobean audiences would have loved this shit); the books always have a layer of meta (Carr and Crispin in particular); detectives love both acting and stage-managing (really, starting with Sherlock Holmes, but flowering emphatically in the 30s and 40s--and Ngaio Marsh named her hero for an Elizabethan actor, which is a clue I don't know why I didn't pick up on before), and I can easily imagine Burbage stomping up and down the stage and forcing, by the sheer pressure of his theatricality, the poor benighted murderer to give himself away.

It's perfect.

And now I want to write one.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
So I voted today, in exactly the pinkoliberalcommiebitch way you would expect of me. I also ran a number of other errands, including an appointment with my GI specialist so that maybe I can stop feeling queasy all the time.

And, following [livejournal.com profile] mrissa's Law, I stopped for ice cream. (The Chocolate Shoppe's Peanut Butter Cup, which--just in case you need to know--I recommend highly.)

Ice cream is almost always, IMHO, a good idea. Sometimes, it is also the right idea, and today was one of those times. My mood and general demeanor improved approximately a hundredfold between walking into the ice cream parlor and walking out again.

In celebration of that, I'm going to offer a list of some other things that have made me feel cheerful this week:

  • Occasionally, I talk in my sleep. Sunday morning, [livejournal.com profile] mirrorthaw tells me, I said, very clearly, "Oh god, an audience." I have no idea what I was dreaming about.
  • Monday, when I dragged myself out of bed, there were no jellicle ninjas visible. I staggered out into the hall, and--like magic!--two little black faces appeared, one from the TV room and one from the stairs, to see if I was doing anything cats might be interested in.
  • The crocuses are blooming, in a distinctly Dear Old Man Winter, fuck you very much fashion.
  • Drabblecast has given [livejournal.com profile] matociquala and me an awesome graphic:

5 things

Mar. 31st, 2011 12:15 pm
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (smaug)
1. I dreamed Monday night that I was cast as the Wicked Witch of the West in a production of Alice in Wonderland. ([livejournal.com profile] stillsostrange was Alice, which tells you what kind of Alice we're talking about.) I've been wondering all week, more or less idly, how to make the mashup work.

2. Dear Feckless Acupuncture Clinic: If you wish us to have a client/service provider relationship of any kind, there must be a method by which I can communicate with you. Either phone or email is fine, but ONE OF THEM HAS GOT TO GET A RESPONSE.

3. Okay, maybe it's not my magnesium/calcium/zinc supplements making me queasy. Maybe it's just me. :P

4. Amazon says there's cover art for The Tempering of Men.

5. Johnny Cash covering Sheryl Crow's "Redemption Day" has depths of awesome beyond what I would have expected. And that's saying something.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
1. My story "Fiddleback Ferns" is part of Drabblecast 201: Trifecta XV, along with stories by Jens Rushing and Karen Heuler.

2. Thank you, [livejournal.com profile] heresluck, for introducing me properly to Mumford and Sons. Sigh No More is about to go in the stereo for the third time in three days.

3. The Ambien only sort of works. >:\ I'll be trying something else starting tomorrow.

4. Guy riding a Harley Friday afternoon in small-town southeastern Wisconsin? Probably not actually [livejournal.com profile] jaylake. But I sure was excited for the split-second I thought maybe it was.

5. A question! I have to give Guest of Honor speeches this year, which is a new experience for me. So tell me, O internets, if you go to a Guest of Honor speech, what do you expect to get? What do you hope for? What would make you tell all your friends they should have come, too?
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (ws: damville)
Giuseppe Bastianini, the Foreign Undersecretary, said to Mussolini at a meeting of the Grand Council, "Ideas are not canaries to be kept in a cage" (Deakin 448). There's a line that belongs in blank verse.

(I suspect The Fall of Mussolini is behaving as displacement activity from the novel revisions I can't get a grip on. But it's also just nuts how readily the subject matter lends itself to the form.)
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (ws: poets)
I'm reading F. W. Deakin's The Brutal Friendship: Mussolini, Hitler, and the Fall of Italian Fascism (1962), and for some reason a minor exchange Deakin mentions between the King of Italy and one of his marshals insists on being rewritten in iambic pentameter, as if it were a quote from some time-traveling Elizabethan playwright*:

VICTOR EMMANUEL: The old guard . . . ghosts, all of them.
BADOGLIO: Then we, sir, we two are also ghosts.

--The Fall of Mussolini

If anyone wants to do anything with this, you may consider yourself to have my blessing. Because I'm not ABOUT to write a five-act blank verse tragedy about Mussolini--despite the sudden, ridiculous temptation of writing the Hitler scenes.

---
*This is oddly appropriate, since February 26 was the day of Christopher Marlowe's baptism in 1564, and in [livejournal.com profile] matociquala's excellent story, "This Tragic Glass," Marlowe is exactly that: a time-traveling Elizabethan playwright. Happy approximate birthday, Kit, and next time, just pay for the fucking fish, all right?
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
Stannard, David E. The Puritan Way of Death: A Study in Religion, Culture, and Social Change. New York: Oxford University Press, 1977.



This is a very uneven book. When Stannard is actually talking about seventeenth and eighteenth century New England and the conflict in Puritan orthodoxy between longing for and fear of death, he's excellent (the section on funerary carving and sculpture was particularly illuminating). But he insists on trying to make a transhistorical argument (of the "since the beginning of time" sort), and those parts of the book I found both unconvincing and off-putting: I didn't want to be convinced, because the argument seemed smug, superficial, and arrogant. And very 1977.



And there's this fascinating piece of historical trivia:
in New York during the late seventeenth century, funeral ceremony was so neglected that legislation had to passed requiring that some attention be paid to the dead in order that instances of foul play might be discovered; it was ordered that every time someone in the colony died a delegation of neighbors was to be called to view the body and follow it to an approved grave site to be sure that it in fact arrived there and was properly interred.
(Stannard 129)

It pings my story radar something fierce.

Also, to an even greater degree of trivium: one of Cotton Mather's many publications was a book entitled Death Made Easie & Happy. Which, because my brain works this way, sparked the following progression:

Death Made Easie & Happy ==> Death Made Easy ==> The Idiot's Guide to Death ==> Death for Dummies

That also badly wants a story, but I'm not sure I'm the one who ought to write it.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (mfu: ikns-sillyhats)
>OPEN CUPBOARD
You open the cupboard. A thin plastic bag containing approximately two cups of flour falls out. The bag impales itself on one of a pair of chopsticks that are standing, points up, in the silverware compartment of the dish drainer in the sink.

Flour begins to leak slowly out of the thin plastic bag.

>SWEAR
That's not a very constructive response, now is it?

Flour continues to leak slowly out of the thin plastic bag.

>TAKE BAG
If you do that, you run the risk of dislodging the chopstick. Proceed? YES|NO

>NO
Flour continues to leak slowly out of the thin plastic bag.

>TAKE BAG AND CHOPSTICK
Carefully, you pick up the bag and chopstick. Flour continues to leak out of the thin plastic bag, but neither faster nor in greater quantity than before.

You are getting flour on your hands.

>S
You walk south into the pantry. It's small and dark in here, and there are a lot of bags of catfood. There are three drawers to your left.

Flour continues to leak slowly out of the thin plastic bag.

>OPEN MIDDLE DRAWER
You open the middle drawer. Inside, there is a box of ziploc bags.

Flour continues to leak slowly out of the thin plastic bag.

>TAKE ZIPLOC BAG
It's a challenge getting a ziploc bag out of its box with one hand, but you manage. Perhaps that swearing was helpful after all.

Flour continues to leak slowly out of the thin plastic bag.

>OPEN ZIPLOC BAG
You open the ziploc bag.

Flour continues to leak slowly out of the thin plastic bag.

>PUT BAG IN BAG
I'm sorry, I don't know how to do that.

Flour continues to leak slowly out of the thin plastic bag.

>PUT THIN PLASTIC BAG IN ZIPLOC BAG
You're really challenging your dexterity tonight, aren't you? You put the thin plastic bag in the ziploc bag. It lands mostly upside down.

Flour continues to leak slowly out of the thin plastic bag, but with the ziploc bag in place it doesn't matter anymore.

>TAKE CHOPSTICK
You take the flour-covered chopstick.

>SEAL ZIPLOC BAG
You seal the ziploc bag. Take that, flour!

>N
You go north into the kitchen. One cupboard is open. There is spilled flour on the counter and one chopstick in the dish drainer.

>LAUGH
Well, really, what else can you do?

You laugh. In a minute, your husband will be laughing, too.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
1. Yesterday, I wrote letters to Senator Feingold, Senator Kohl, Congresswoman Baldwin, and President Obama (email to the president, paper letters to the legislators) about the oil spill and BP's abhorrent behavior. This is the first time I have ever written a letter to any of my elected representatives, and if it does even a particle of good, I will be passionately grateful.

2. Because my mother-in-law asked, I went out yesterday and took pictures of various portions of the yard: roses, lilies, marigolds, etc. Plus a picture of the Elder Saucepan for lagniappe. Gallery here.

3. Last night I managed to get out of the stupid anxiety dream wherein I'm back in high school and failing calculus, but only by turning it into a MUCH WORSE nightmare about undead ghoul/vampire/Fury creatures feuding with each other.

4. There is no item 4. Yes, there is! Item 4 is that today is the 66th anniversary of D-Day. I loathe war, but that does not mean I do not honor the bravery of the men who died on the Normandy beaches--and the men who survived. And although I will argue about the necessity of war in almost all circumstances, I have read enough about Hitler to know that in this case, yes, war was the only way to stop him, and he had to be stopped. So, those who died on June 6, 1944, and those who survived to fight on, I am grateful to you and I honor your memory. And those veterans who are still alive, I hope this June 6th is a good day.

5. Have I mentioned that I'm going to be at Fourth Street? Because I so am! It looks like I'm going to be on two panels (including one that is based on this post, about which, yes, I would admit to being a bit chuffed), and of course I will be there for the rest of it, too.

Inevitable addenda:
(1) I am very near-sighted and very shy, but neither of those means I don't want to talk to you!
(2) Unless I'm late for a panel (or otherwise obviously busy), I'm always happy to sign books.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
Thank you to everyone who has commented on my last couple posts about being stuck with sympathy and support. I appreciate it very very much, and it does help--if not exactly with the problem at hand, then definitely with my attitude toward it.

A couple people have suggested externalizing the voices (which, I should add in case you are becoming concerned about my sanity, are not literal voices; they're sock puppets for the dialogues I have with myself, which is a pretty much constant feature of the inside of my head), and I thought I should point out, for those who are interested, that I already do that, from time to time. And it is helpful, if only because it lets me make fun of myself. But this suggestion also reminded me--as apparently I needed--that I do better as a writer with a certain amount of ongoing meta-dialogue, and that's been pretty much shut down for the past few months.

It feels like the punchline to a joke: "The good news is, I've started talking to myself again." But hey. Whatever works. And I may have figured out how to fix one of the stories that has been most frustrating for me, because I finally asked myself the right question about the split between the main character and the protagonist.

Socratic dialogue is not my favorite pedagogical technique, but sometimes it really is the only game in town.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (ds: hide and seek)
Plus: New bread pans! One of my old ones has gone from non-stick to stick, so it was clearly time. And these are very pretty. And red! I'm very curious to find out what the loaves they produce are like.

Minus: I've figured out why I'm not getting any writing done. It's because every time I go to work on something, some part of my brain says, quietly but very emphatically, This is a stupid story.

Now, rationally, I know that's not true. The stories I'm trying to work on right now are neither more nor less stupid than any of the forty-some stories I've published--which is to say: No, they aren't stupid. But knowing that and feeling it are two different things. I'm not quite sure how to deal with this, because it's a really neat piece of self-sabotage: not only does it make working on stories seem pointless, but it makes asking anyone else for help seem equally pointless. What can they do except tell you it's stupid?

I suspect this is partly fallout from having Ace dump me last year--and although Tor was very careful and kind and explicit about the fact that they love my writing and want to publish me, it still hurts like a son-of-a-bitch to know that my career is so fucked up that the only way to do it is to give up my name. I know that it's not a judgment on me as a person, or on me as a writer, but I can't help the fact that it feels like one. And that, in turn, makes it hard to have any confidence in my stories.

So, yeah. If anybody needs me, I'll be over here fainting in coils.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (squirrel John White (c) 2002)
The insomnia has been particularly bad the last couple of nights (5 hours or so Thursday night and I slept this morning from 8 a.m. until Catzilla knocked my glasses on the floor at noon.) Partly, this is the same insomnia I've had for literally as long as I can remember, in which my body periodically seems to forget how to go to sleep, but partly, I seem to be developing Restless Legs Syndrome, as the long muscles in my thighs spent the night muttering, can't sleep, clowns will eat me, can't sleep, clowns will eat me. (They're still muttering it now, as a matter of fact; my plan for today includes a Very Long Walk to see if we can maybe drain some of this tension so as not to do this all over again tonight.) Yes, before anyone feels the need to tell me to come in out of the rain, I do intend to go talk to my GP.

I also think that part of what's causing this current, persistent round of insomnia is that my health and physical well-being have improved dramatically over the past year and a half or so. I started taking iron supplements and trying to exercise regularly (on the "day in, day out" kind of model of regularity rather than the "once a week whether you need it or not" model), and the result is that I have substantially more energy than I have for, well, a really long time now. So I don't physically need as much sleep as I did for a big chunk of the first decade of the twenty-first century, and neither my body nor my mind seems to know quite what to do with that. That part of it is a good problem to have (I have also noticed that I want to get out and do things instead of resisting like a turtle resists being turned out of its shell), but just at the moment, it's not helping.

Bleah.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (tr: mole)
I went out and inspected the yard today, to see how we were doing after the ravages of winter. Everything I planted last summer seems to be alive; the irises are putting out green shoots, the hydrangeas have tiny brave green leaves, and the Cerise Bouquet roses, sullen as roses are wont to be, nonetheless are visibly Not Dead. The Grandfathered Rosebush is also Not Dead, although even more sullen, and the Anthropophagous Rosebush is reaching greedily for the sidewalk again. (This is one of the ways we know it's anthropophagous.) I also appreciate the daffodils and crocuses we inherited with the house in a far more proprietary way than has heretofore been the case. (Last summer, it seems like somebody flipped a switch in my head. It's now MY yard instead of something I'm not allowed to mess with because the real owner will be coming back any time now. Hi. Welcome to my head.)

I dragged the huge branch that fell off one of the juniper trees in our big December snowstorm back behind the garage; pruned some deadwood off the roses; cleared several small strips of clear plastic, a food drive flyer, and a Jehovah's Witnesses' pamphlet out of the yard; uprooted the evergreen sprigs that seem to think we need a hedge along the front sidewalk; despaired over the state of the parkway; raked last year's detritus out of the odd little bed between the back door and the cyclone door where the ferns thrive like thriving things; cut down two saplings ditto; and cleared the grass back from the faux-brick stepping stones between the garage and the house.

It's still a post-winter mess, but that's what March is for. And the crocuses are purple and valiant.

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