28 December 2003

So I'm now on cold number three of the winter. Bleah. Double bleah. Usually I get one cold a year, if that. Not happy, but at least it's not as snotty or even as head-stuffy as the last two. Now to play Amerzone.

27 December 2003

My Inner Hero - Wizard!

I'm a Wizard!

There are many types of magic, but all require a sharp mind and a cool head. There is no puzzle I can't solve, no problem I can't think my way out of. When you feel confused or uncertain, you can always rely on me to untangle the knots and put everything back in order for you.

How about you? Click here to find your own inner hero.

24 December 2003

23 December 2003

The tendonitis is gone, replaced by a dull ache which is mostly ignorable. Rowena suggested I brought it all on myself playing video games. Actually, I think it was from slinging around heavy boxes of books. But the video games probably didn't help.

I got inspired, the other day, by an article on chapbooks I wrote for Creative Writing for Teens (I really need to get a new photo taken). I dragged out a novel I'd written bits of for Jack Hodgins' novel writing class. I'm not sure why I chose it, but it seemed to make sense. Something about gifts and it being that season, I suppose. Anyway, I pulled together some bits and wrote some more bits, and am generally happy with what I've got. Nine of the bits I stuck together in PageMaker, and now I'll have a holiday chapbook to give everyone instead of the usual "Happy Solstice, Merry Christmas, etc, etc" card I sometimes send out. Stole the idea from Charles deLint (the chapbook-for-the-holidays thing). I've done it a few times in the past--I even used some of my awful poetry once. It's fun. Everyone should do it. Anyway, those of you who are far away will get yours eventually (not that I have that many people to send it to).

And, even more useful to current writing projects, I got an idea for a story for Vinland Stories (or whatever it ends up being called) that has nothing to do with the sea. It's very much a sky story. Has dragons in. I'm not sure how dragons got into these stories. Actually, that's not true. It happened when I decided to write a children's story (which became part of a chapter book) called "Dragon's Egg" and set it in Ravenswing (a village downcoast of Cobbleshore). That was followed by "Fox Point Dragon"; those two stories became the book Fox Point Dragon (which, come to think of it, could really use to be revised again and sent out to many, many publishers). Then White Foxes, Full Moon turned out to have a dragon in it (or will have, when I get that far). The Fox Point dragon will turn up, too, though maybe only as a mention. So now Vinland has dragons. I think the story is called "Where the Sky is Full of Dragons," but that could change by the time it's actually written. After all, "Hollow Bones" has had several titles ("A Gift of Bones and Motley Feathers," "Bird Bones and Feathers," almost "Bones and Feathers," "Bird Bones," and "Hollow Bones"--or maybe it's one title reworked until it's more or less right).

Getting behind on my blogging, I am. I started my quest to read all things alluded to in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen with Sherlock Holmes. I've read some before, but never worked my way through the whole canon, and said quest seemed like a worthy excuse. The connection with League is that Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock's big brother, is a character, though not a major one. Also the Sherlock Holmes/Professor Moriarty rivalry is mentioned. I'm reading a massive Bantam edition of the complete novels and stories. It's in two volumes and I only have volume one, but the 900+ pages should keep me busy for a while. I've already got through A Study in Scarlet which is kind of like two books in one--the usual Sherlock Holmes reconstructing crimes through clues thing, and an odd anti-Mormon western (the murderer's backstory). Got no problem with the anti-Mormonism (ever read the Book of Mormon? Very weird stuff) but the sudden switch between stories was a little jarring, even though it was the only way to tell the whole story without giving away the killer's motives (and identity) from the beginning. And, for some reason, I'm always surprised when literature of this age is so easy to read. I always expect it to be difficult. Dracula struck me the same way. And it's not like I've never read Doyle before.

And something occurred to me while I was thinking about Sir Arthur. I've read a lot of stuff about fairies (big surprise), and Doyle was a big supporter of the reality of the Cottingley fairies. What I thought was odd is that most commentators speculating on why Doyle believed in fairies mention his involvement with Spiritualism. I don't think I've ever seen anyone say that maybe Sir Arthur believed in fairies because his dad did. Both Charles Altamont Doyle (his father) and Richard "Dickie" Doyle (his uncle) were well-known fairy painters, and both were institutionalized (Charles Altamont, at least, was probably not insane, just a little odd. And he believed in fairies). Anyway, just a thing I thought of. Now I'll probably find that everything I read about Doyle and fairies mentions his father and his uncle and relates his belief to theirs. Oh well.

22 December 2003

Things Creationists Hate. (Link via Making Light.)
Happy Winter Solstice! Here's last year's very, very cool Astronomy Picture of the Day.

19 December 2003

A while back, Jessa Crispin of Bookslut (I think that's who it was) commented that people reviewing the movie The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (crappy movie, from what I've read, but the comic is excellent) kept spelling "Quatermain" wrong, inserting an extra "r." It's easy enough to do (I've probably done it myself), but kind of sloppy when you're writing something for publication. Well, the other day I was arranging some books on the shelf, and I noticed that my old falling-apart Avon Edition copy of Allan Quatermain had that very typo on the cover. It says Allan Quartermain, extra "r" and all. On the inside pages, it's spelled correctly, though. It amused me.

But then I was thinking about the book again, and I went and got it off the shelf to flip through. And I realized that I've never actually read it. Or at least I don't remember reading it. I saw the abysmal Richard Chamberlain movie. I've read She and Ayesha and even Eric Brighteyes (more than once), but somehow I never got to Allan Quatermain. Unless I read it and don't remember, which is possible. So then I got the bright idea that I should read all the books alluded to in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (the comic, that is), starting with the ones from which the main characters came. So I began to make a list.

I soon realized that this was going to be a big list. I consulted Ye Olde Internet, and found some fabulous annotations by Jess Nevins (now available as a book). There's a lot of reading there. But then I really like to read.

'Course, the search led me to this site, which has annotations for lots of comics, including 1602. But I think I'll wait to go through them until I read the whole series. Then I'll have an excuse to re-read it.

Oh, I have a lot of reading to do. Yay!

My wrist is feeling much better. It only hurts when I bend it all the way, so normal writing functions have resumed. More or less.

17 December 2003

Got tendonitis again. Hurts to type, hurts to handwrite, and I have a whole pile of stories trying to get out of my head via my poor right hand. Ouch. Must not give in to urge to play video games.

14 December 2003

Mr Picassohead: way too much fun. Here's mine.
I'm still wasting time playing video games (Onimusha: Warlords on PS2), but have lots of thoughts about writing projects. I think, for example, that Andry narrates the whole of Cobbleshore Stories (which I think is really called Vinland Stories). Quite what that means for each individual story, I'm not yet sure (ooh, love the syntax in that sentence). I also think that White Foxes, Full Moon is probably meant to be in third person limited (the limited part switching between Maring and Watcher as needed) rather than in alternating first person. The question now is whether to go back and rewrite the bits I've already done (all fifteen chapters) and carry on from there, or switch now and rewrite the earlier chapters later, or carry on in first person until I get to the end and then rewrite (and perhaps discover that first person was the right point of view all along).

Short pause while I investigate the crash from the living room. And chase away the cat, and reassemble the Christmas tree, which is now a little wonky. Grrr . . .

There must be a better name for Christmas tree that doesn't involve religion. I'm not giving up my tree, even if the cat does take it apart bit by bit every year.

Anyway. I've other things I'm thinking about with the writing projects I'm working on, but none I can talk about here without getting into symbolism and such, which is something I think every reader should discover on their own. I know what symbols I'm finding, but it doesn't mean everyone will find the same ones. So I'll shut up.

Happy birthday, Mom!

12 December 2003

Yay! I just finished Syberia. What a gorgeous game. A lot of people have said it was too short, but I didn't think it was all that short. Not as long and brain-busting as, say, Riven, but not nearly as short as Dracula: Resurrection. And I picked up Primal for PS2 for a measly $14.77 at Superstore, so I'll have something to procrastinate with once I get past that evil level of Scooby Doo (yeah, still working at it, almost got it but can't play for more than half an hour at a time or I get really irritated).

11 December 2003

I took the Gender Test. It thought I was a boy. Actually, my results fell pretty nearly exactly in the middle. Weird.

07 December 2003

Yeah, okay, King Kong has dinosaurs in it. But King Kong himself is a giant gorilla.
"Godzilla wasn't real. King Kong wasn't real. Jurassic Park wasn't real. This is. See how real dinosaurs lived . . . or didn't. Real. Big. Stories." What's wrong with this statement? Here's a hint. It's been bugging me since I first saw the commercial.
What happens when too many Mary Sues show up at Hogwarts? Pirate Monkey has the answer. (What's a Mary Sue? See Teresa Nielsen Hayden's blog post on the subject. It's where I found the link above.)

03 December 2003

It's the mentioning of my article that's really, really cool (and also Terri Windling's novel), not the article itself.
I was just reading the "From the Editor's Desk" page over at the Endicott Studio's Journal of Mythic Arts. Terri Windling mentions my article on her novel The Wood Wife, which is really, really cool. Except she used my full name, which I never use, and she spelled my last name wrong (which is understandable, as most people in the word spell it with a 'y'). So if you're reading the letter, substitute "Niko Silvester" for "Mary Nicole Silvester" in this passage:
. . . an in-depth look at shamanism in my novel The Wood Wife, titled "The Artist as Shaman," by Mary Nicole Sylvester.

and all will be right with the world (it's waaay down near the bottom). I'm happy just to be mentioned.
I think one reason I enjoy adventure games so much is that you get to rifle through other people's stuff (even if they are fictional people). Well, there are the dreamlike qualities, the lovely graphics and the nice ambient music and the uncovering of a story and puzzles to figure out, too. But when was the last time you snuck into a church vestry, nicked a hidden key and went through the priest's drawers in real life? How often have broken into a family tomb to see if a coffin was really occupied? Or wandered around an abandoned toy factory pulling levers to see if you could get anything to work?

That would be fun, but it doesn't happen in real life. Not to me, anyway. Though I once attended a class where the teacher brought in one of his desk drawers, complete with whatever happened to be in there when he pulled it out of the desk. We passed it around the class and each took an item and tried to come up with something to say about what that item said about the owner of the drawer, and how it could be used in a creative non-fiction piece. I suspect the exercise would have been better if we didn't already know who the drawer belonged to, but where would the prof get someone else's drawer?

So what does it say about me, that I like to poke through other people's stuff? That I'm nosy, I guess. That people fascinate me (morbidly, a lot of the time). And now my friends and relatives will be afraid to have me stay over, for fear I'll snoop. But that's the real appeal of the adventure game: I'd never really go through someone's drawers. I respect people's privacy too much. You know, do unto others and all that (Eek! Am I Bible-quoting?).

Okay, I did snoop once. Extensively. But I had good reason. I will not go through your drawers if you invite me over. Honest.

Today's Earth Science Picture of the Day: Super Typhoon Lupit. Doesn't that sound like a manga or anime title?

02 December 2003

I'm spending way too much time playing Scooby Doo: Night of 100 Frights on my PS2. I think I'd be done by now if it weren't for one really badly designed section with almost impossible jumps. I checked a walkthrough to make sure it wasn't just me being a crappy gamer.

You are gonna HATE this level, seriously. I wouldn't be surprised if many gamers actually abandoned the game at this point because of the taxing, frustrating and seemingly insurmountable difficulties that await in this level. Many of the snacks are obscured by poor camera angles, Scooby's shadow disappears, etc - really shitty game design that turns an otherwise enjoyable adventure into a headache.

Nope. Not just me. When I get too frustrated, I switch to Syberia on my PC, which is interesting and fun and beautiful. Much better than Scooby Doo. I should just give up on Scooby Doo, but I am too stubborn. It's genetic; all the women in my family are stubborn.

Really, I should stop goofing off and do something productive. (Can I use the excuse that Caitlin R. Kiernan plays video games, and she gets lots of writing done?)

01 December 2003

So what next, now that NaNoWriMo is over? Well, come March, there's NaNoEdMo.

28 November 2003

Still having trouble seeing through the tears of laughter: Kitty Video. (Thanks, Sue)

22 November 2003

Oh, yeah. Draft one of The Secret Common-Wealth is 52,370 words. For while I thought it might be closer to 70,000. Now I've got to convince my increasingly decrepit laser printer to print it out. Double-spaced, it'll be close to 200 manuscript pages. It's a little novel, but not as little as my last one.
Gee, now that I've finished my novel for NaNoWriMo (or the first draft, anyway), I'm kind of at a loss. I don't really feel ready to start anything new, and I'm not quite in the right frame of mind to work on any of the things I left unfinished at the beginning of November. But I don't want to lose to 2,000-words-a-day momentum, either. I'm thinking I might change direction completely, and work on some comics.

19 November 2003

50, 301 words and one more big scene to write. For a while I thought it would be longer, but then things started moving much more quickly. Hooray!
It occurred to me last night, when I should have been sleeping (which is when things usually occur to me), that this novel that I've almost got a first draft of fits right in the tradition of stories about fairies requiring human women for success in childbearing. A while back, I read a novel called Fairy Tale by Alice Thomas Ellis. It was quite good, and I must remember to find a copy. Anyway, in the novel, the Welsh fairies need human women to bear their children. That reminded me of Charles deLint's The Wild Wood (still, for some reason, my favourite deLint novel), where the main character agrees to bear a child for the fairy folk, because their own queen is incapable. I was thinking of writing an essay on that theme in literature -- the need for a human woman to bear fairy children. In folklore, it more usually shows up as the fairies needing a human midwife, or sometimes a human wet-nurse (which is why women are in great danger of being taken right after childbirth). So I've been keeping a list of all the books I can recall that have those motifs as well. And now I've gone and written one. I guess it's an idea that's been haunting me. I wonder how many stories it'll turn up in. I still haven't exorcised shapechangers from my creative psyche. I think nearly every story I've written since I finished my Master's has shapechangers in it. I was about to say "Except for The Secret Common-Wealth, " but then I remembered the fox woman Maddy saw in the woods near her old house. Yikes! I thought writing was supposed to work out the haunting things, not keep bringing them up over and over. Oh well. It's fun to see what permutation comes out each time I start a new story. At least the main character isn't a shapechanger this time.
Just for fun, I did a numerological profile for Maddy (at Facade).
Hmmm. Almost ten o'clock and I haven't written anything yet. Actually this is becoming disturbingly normal.

18 November 2003

44, 757 words, and today I discovered that Dubhghall plays the tin whistle and the Pied Piper was a fairy. Maybe.

17 November 2003

The end is nigh. Really, really nigh. I'm not so sure any more that I'll have much over 50, 000 words. My characters are heading into the grand finale, whether I'm ready for it or not.

16 November 2003

I find it comforting that these things happen even to Neil Gaiman:
I had an utter fanboy moment when a faintly familiar-looking person came over at the end and introduced himself as Philip Pullman, and I just started gushing foolishly, and he was kind enough not to notice.
Hah! Just cracked 40, 000 words. I guess I can justify buying myself the t-shirt now.
What if Neil Gaiman, Tim Burton and Robert Smith were flatmates? Read Nice Hair, and find out. Amazing what turns up when you go through old bookmarks. And if you like that one, try Jinks by the same writer/artist.

15 November 2003

Typed my brains out last night, due to the silly notion that I should write as much this week as I did last. So I'm up to 37, 754 words and closing in on the goal. The end of the story is approaching, too, despite some weird and unexpected detours.
34, 829 words and the bloody fairies continue to take over. Meanwhile Donald Macleod is not-so-quietly going insane (or having a breakdown, anyway), and I think there may be too many characters who don't do very much.
Gah! I am losing the ability to type and spell at the same time. Sometimes the sequences of letters that come out bear only the slightest resemblance to the word that was in my brain.

14 November 2003

Today Maddy went into Doon Hill, which wasn't supposed to happen. But there was her mother waiting, so in she went. I don't know if the scene will stay or get cut, though it seems to have revealed Dubhghall as an ally. That's kind of nice, because I rather like him. You just can't tell with fairies, though. A lot of my adults are turning out to be very much less together than I originally thought they were, which means that Maddy has to really keep her head. And how do you keep your head when you're getting the grand tour of a fairy hall? I don't know, but maybe I will by the time she makes her way out again.

The fairies were only going to play a minor role in this story. It's supposed to be about kids and parents and coping with death. Now I think the Good People are taking over.

13 November 2003

Unreason's Seductive Charms:
We may speak admiringly of Greek rationality, of the Age of Reason, and of the Enlightenment, yet it is far easier to find great writing -- and even, paradoxically, serious thinking -- that extols unreason, irrationality, and the beauty of "following one's heart" rather than one's head.

Very thought-provoking essay by David P. Barash (link via Frankenstein Journal.)

12 November 2003

Wondering suddenly why the mothers of two of my main characters have the same name as my mother (and me), I looked it up:

Usual English form of
Maria, which was the Latin form of the New Testament Greek names Mariam or Maria (the spellings are interchangeable), which were from the Hebrew name Miriam. The meaning is not known for certain, but there are several theories including "sea of bitterness", "rebelliousness", and "wished for child". However it was most likely originally an Egyptian name, perhaps derived in part from mry "beloved" or mr "love". This is the name of several New Testament characters, most importantly Mary the virgin mother of Jesus, and Mary Magdalene. Two queens of England have had this name, as well as a Queen of Scotland, Mary Queen of Scots.

I am no closer to figuring out this odd little occurence (keeping in mind that coincidences rarely happen in writing).

So then I looked up Madeline (it's on the same page as Mary), which is a variant of Madeleine, which is the French form of Magdalene (meaning "of Magdala"), which brings me right back to Mary. How bizarre.

Morag, which was supposed to have been Maddy's name, is the diminutive form of Mór, meaning "great."

One could argue that it's a religious thing, I suppose. Mary, Mother of God (and therefore mother of us all), and all that. But first one would have to suppose that I am religious. And, supposing that, one would be wrong.
It just occurs to me that John O'Brien (from the poorly-titled Taken, 1941) also had a mother named Mary. And my mother's name is Mary. (Then again, my own first name is Mary, so perhaps I'm just mothering my characters.)
Apparently Mary Fletcher Macleod doesn't want to be rescued from the fairies, and doesn't much miss her husband. This is probably good, for me anyway, because it makes things harder for Maddy. That, in turn, means it will take longer to come to a resolution (= more words), and it means more tension (= more interesting for the reader). Still, I feel kind of bad that I couldn't make Mary Fletcher want to be rescued so Maddy's happily-ever-after dreams could be realized. But that would be abusing my authorial power. Characters get very annoyed when you do that. (And thus is confirmed, for the non-writer, the basic insanity of writers, who behave as if their characters are real.)

11 November 2003

Davis Sexton writes a great article on bad writing and bad writers. (Link via Bookslut.) Here's a sample:
Nobody would attempt to give a piano recital without having first learned to play the piano. People realise they cannot make a satisfactory chest of drawers, or even a serviceable cheeseboard, without having acquired some skill in carpentry. They know they are not competent as dentists or plumbers, if they have not had any experience or training. Yet they think that they can write a novel by some natural gift.

Somebody please tell me if I'm a bad writer, okay?

10 November 2003

Just passed the halfway point on The Secret Commonwealth.

No, actually I just passed the halfway point to the NaNoWriMo goal of 50, 000 words. I suspect Secret's going to be somewhat longer. But not so much longer that I can't still finish the draft in November.

Just finished my latest multi-part Beginner's Guide (or should that be Beginners' Guide?) for the Creative Writing for Teens site at About.com: Writing Creative Non-Fiction. Bits of it I like, and bits I'm not so sure about. And, damn, it's hard to explain something that's defined by a negative. You end up talking about what it isn't instead of what it is.
23, 998 words.
I want this sword.
If only it weren't so expensive, I'd have me a subscription to 3rd Stone magazine. It's all about archaeology, folklore and myth. A little crackpotty, maybe, but that only makes it more fun.

09 November 2003

This morning's discovery: very, very cool masks. (Link via Neil Gaiman, of course.)
Oh yeah, and a new character called Dubhghall showed up unannounced. I looked up Dubhghall on Behind the Name, and it turns out to mean "dark stranger," which is very eerily appropriate. I love it when things like that happen.

Yesterday it was finding out that the fairies had a perfectly good reason to kidnap Maddy's mother -- I was a little worried about motivation. Fairies, apparently, are always on the lookout for a good wetnurse, and women who've just given birth are very good at that. I knew this, but I'd forgotten. Guess my subconscious remembered. So when I read in The Enchantment of the Trossachs that it is "a wide-spread folk myth, in which a woman who has given birth to a child is spirited away by the fairies in order to nurture a fairy infant," I thought, "Of course. How silly of me to have worried." Even the fairies in my novel know what they're doing, quite without my help.

Phew! Busy day. Went into Langford with Sue to deliver the niece and nephew to their dad's, went grocery shopping, had a big roast beef dinner with relatives on the occasion of some more relatives being in town . . . Wrote 2, 357 words. Must sleep very, very soon (too much wine at dinner makes Niko a sleepy girl).

08 November 2003

18, 770 words. And now I'm going to bed.
It may well be a deep-seated awareness that even matters of Faerie, being less disturbing than those of nuclear physics, tend to provide a modicum of balance and sanity in an age that has already demonstrated, pretty conclusively, its ability to obliterate itself.
That's Alisdair Alpin MacGregor, from Land of the Mountain and the Flood (1965), which quote I found in Louis Stott's The Enchantment of the Trossachs ("published for the tercentenary of the spiriting away of Robert Kirk," 1992).

07 November 2003

16, 262 words and 4, 262 words ahead of schedule. Yee haw!

06 November 2003

Mad-cloud, Mac-leod,
Sitting on a stump,
Wants to stop the ocean
From turning to a dump.

What's she gonna do about it?
What's she gonna do?
She'll try to tell the dol-phins
To blame it all on you.

I only used the first two lines of that one in the novel, but it didn't seem right to leave it unfinished.
In an interview (sort of) at Slashdot, Neil Gaiman says:

There was a Sandman story I wanted to write, which would have been a heartbreaker, and would have been about the dreams and hopes of an unborn baby, who was, for whatever reason, never going to be born. I didn't write it because I could imagine it being thrust in front of some pregnant teenager who didn't want to be pregnant to make her change her mind about what she was going to do.

I'm thinking Gaiman knows much about the power of story and the reponsibilty of those who wield that power. (Though I can't help but lament that I'll never get to read what would probably be a very moving story by one of my favourite writers.)
I was going to mention it this morning, that today is Guy Fawkes Day and Bonfire Night.

Some of the English have been known to wonder whether they are celebrating Fawkes' execution or honoring his attempt to do away with the government.

I wondered that myself. We were going to have a bonfire tonight to incinerate all the stuff that didn't get lit in our Halloween bonfire, and toast marshmallows (which we forgot to buy for our Halloween bonfire). But nobody seems to be very organized, plus Angel's on, and once again, we forgot to buy marshmallows. So Guy Fawkes won't be burned in effigy at our house.

05 November 2003

Another tool of procrastination (but I'm at 11,482 words and counting): Clay Kitten Shooting. (Thanks a lot, Sue!)
Here's a very funny Neil Gaiman interview from Sequential Tart.
Yay! I just passed 10, 000 words, a whole day ahead of schedule.
Fun with rhyme! I made up a few poems for The Secret Common-Wealth.

Mad, Mad Madeline, talks to leafy trees.
Mad little Maddy’s got grass stains on her knees.
What’ll Maddy do when the men-in-white come
To take her to the mad house like her daddy should have done?

My main character was considered rather odd as a child. She saw fairies and ghosts and things.

There once was a girl dressed in green,
Said she saw things that never were seen,
Said, "That isn’t a tree,
That’s a fine, grand la-dy,
And you just can’t see what I mean."

I'm a lousy poet, pretty much, but these were fun.
I mentioned to my uncle the other day that I was suffering the second cold in as many months. He said -- joking -- something about Samson and that it was because I'd cut my hair. Hmmm.

04 November 2003

Here are a few very cool sites I found while doing research for my novel (6,364 words and counting), in no particular order except that's how they're listed in my bookmarks:

  • Mysterious Britain -- "a guide to the legends, folklore, myths and mysterious places of Britain"
  • Myth and Legend of Britain -- "Witches and warriors, ghosts and giants, dragons, demons and kings have shaped the landscape and captured the imaginations of people throughout history."
  • Mysterious Britain (another one) -- "Looking for something different? Want a fright? Want to hunt for sea monsters? Maybe Chostbusting?"
  • Historic UK -- "THE history and heritage accommodation guide to England, Scotland and Wales"
  • First Foot -- "the website dedicated to exposing the myth, the magic, the beliefs and the baloney, the history, mystery and blistery feet that make up every walk of Scottish life"
  • Caledonian Castles -- "The Web's largest collection of Scotland's castles, tower houses and fortified houses"
  • 03 November 2003

    If only my cat got along with other members of her species, I'd have a lovely blue-eyed white kitten with six toes on her front feet. Alas, Bast hates other cats. Here's a fascinating page on polydactyl cats. (Link via Neil Gaiman.)
    Hee hee: "The End of the Raven" by Edgar Allen Poe's cat.

    02 November 2003

    Here's a list of things to celebrate in November, if you're looking for an excuse to party. I'm assuming they know November only has 30 days.
    My inner child is ten today:

    The adult world is pretty irrelevant to me. Whether I'm off on my bicycle (or pony) exploring, lost in a good book, or giggling with my best friend, I live in a world apart, one full of adventure and wonder and other stuff adults don't understand.

    How Old is Yours? (See how good I am at procrastinating? And still I've almost reached my word count for the day.)
    Now I'm at 3,684 words (I feel like I'm writing a boring high school essay and counting every word -- "Only 46,316 to go"). Oh well, it is kind of encouraging to see how far I get each day. To know it's actually possible to do this thing, even if it isn't going to be the best I ever wrote (and it won't be, but that's what revision is for). Here's a little snippet:

    "The folklore book was really hard to read. All academic. I finally ended up skipping the partsthat the author had written, and just reading the stories he quoted. They were neat. Like fantasy stories, only more real because people really believed they happened. The fairy book turned out to be pretty silly. It was all little people with butterfly wings and some totally fake-looking photographs. But it was the only one they had at the library. I found it next to the Sherlock Holmes books."

    "That must've been
    The Coming of the Fairies. Arthur Conan Doyle, who wrote Sherlock Holmes, wrote that one, too. He was a little odd."

    "Did Mum have that book?" Maddy set down her fork. She couldn't eat the overcooked green beans, but the lamb and potatoes and rutabaga had been delicious and filling.

    Dad looked down at his plate, as if he were trying to decide whether or not to tackle his own beans. He poked at them, then said, "I think she did. She had a lot of books. '‘Plenty of goodness and just as much crap,' she used to say."

    It's a bit of conversation between my main character, 14-year-old Madeline Fletcher Macleod (Maddy) and her dad (who doesn't have a name yet), about her mother (Mary Macleod, nee Fletcher), who died giving birth to Maddy. They've just moved back to Scotland, where Maddy was born (they left as soon as she was old enough to travel). Anyway, back to it.
    Now here's something truly scary: Mystery Park.
    The park is based on the “mysteries of the world” and the extraterrestrial theories of Swiss author Erich von Däniken.
    Woo hoo! The Secret Common-Wealth just hit 2,399 words, which is 399 more than my daily goal of 2,000. Yay, me!

    01 November 2003

    One person is already past 7,500 words. Guess they're trying to finish theirs in a week.
    First go and the novel's at 1,441 words. If I use every one of the 30 days of November to write, I need at least 1,667 words per day, so I've got 226 words to go for today. 'Course, I'd like to be done early . . . Oh yeah, it's called The Secret Common-Wealth. Betcha can't figure out what it's about (hah).
    From the NaNoWriMo Weekly Pep Talk:
    Writing a novel, unlike cow-tying, is not something you really ever know for sure you can do. It's one of those frighteningly unpredictable activities like lawn darts and breakdancing that people with all their faculties tend to shy away from. Because, as adults, we don't usually gravitate towards endeavors that make us feel like complete idiots.
    Wouldn't ya know it, it's the first day of NaNoWriMo and my second cold in two months just reached the drowning-in-my-own-fluids stage. Yuck. At least I can sit in bed with my laptop (the Internet cable even reaches in here).

    30 October 2003

    I recently found out what it is like to nearly lose an eye. Or rather, I found out what it is like to come a little too close to nearly losing an eye. Er . . . What I am attempting to say is that I look like I was in a vicious catfight where my opponent tried to claw out my right eye, except it was really a stupid dog-petting accident.

    I have a tall, narrrow dog. Narrow enough that when he rolls over on his back for a tummy rub, he doesn't balance very well. Consequently, I knocked him off balance while rubbing his tummy. He kicked out with a back leg to get balanced again, and my face happened to be in the way. Funny how I was more concerned about whether or not my eyeball was still intact (it was) than whether or not my cheek and eyelid were (they were, just scratched and stinging like the dickens). Or maybe not so funny, as it's easier to mend torn flesh than regrow a gouged-out or otherwise damaged eye.

    Somehow, this didn't end up being nearly as amusing as I thought it would be. I guess I'm just not very funny.

    24 October 2003

    I've figured it out. Cutting your hair is cutting yourself free from the accumulated past. All that hair was around when things from your past you might not want to remember happened. By cutting your hair short, you're removing all but the most recent growth, the most recent past. So those women who cut their hair right after they get divorced are removing themselves from their past -- their marriage -- so they can start fresh. (As for Samson, I think that had to do with a pact with God or something. But maybe Delilah was cutting him off from his heritage -- his past -- as well as his strength when she cut his hair. Or else I'm just making shit up again.)

    Except I'm not trying to get free of my past. At least I don't think I am. Though moving back to Victoria to finish my writing degree was liking coming full circle, right back to where I'd left things when I moved away to study archaeology. So now I've moved to Duncan and cut my hair to escape the circle and start someplce new. Except that's not it at all. Not really. I'd already started off in a new direction (more or less) before I cut my hair. So I still don't have the answer. Oh well. I rather like it short.

    15 October 2003

    Hair. I told Rowena I was composing something about hair, on the occasion (slightly after the occasion, now) of cutting all mine off.

    Long hair is supposed to equal power. The Biblical Samson had superhuman strength, but once Delilah cut his hair off, he was weak. In some stories, mermaids are said to die if their hair dries (or is that nixes?). There are probably other legends along these lines in other cultures, but I can't think of any right now (ugh, I should not attempt to write deep, meaningful things when I have a phlegmy, snotty cold; this was going to be a fabulous piece of creative non-fiction).

    I used to have very long hair.

    Although the continual comments like, "Your hair is sooo long," and "It must have taken you forever to grow your hair" sometimes got annoying, I always liked having long hair. And it was long. I could sit on it (making it difficult, sometimes, to get up from a chair). It would get stuck under me in bed now and then, so I couldn't move my head. But then I dicovered that hanging it over the pillow got it out of the way. It was nice to brush.

    Then I decided to cut it. People keep asking me why, and I can't really say. I just felt like it. I could never really do anything with it, besides put it in a braid, or put it in a pony tail, or maybe two braids or two ponytails for a change. Loose is nice, but have you ever tried to brush three feet of hair after you've stood out on a breakwater for an hour? Think high winds and salt air. I ended up with a rather disreputable-looking nest attached to my head. Some slovenly bird would have loved it. I very patiently brushed it out and though how lucky I was to be able to grow my hair so long. And then I decided to cut it.

    So the braid the stylist took off measures about 27 inches (meaning that, unbraided, it'd be longer). Then, of course, she cut more off as she was styling. Everyone in the salon was worried that such a sudden change would be a shock. I felt fine. The hair is going to do good. It's all packed up to mail because I kept finding it. It's a weird thing to find a superlong braid of your hair lying around the house. Kind of like stumbling on your own severed limb, I imagine. But not as gross.

    So now I have short, kind of saucy hair and I really like it. Can't say why, exactly, though when I was looking for haircut pictures online, I came across an article that said a lot of women get their hair cut short right after they get divorced or end a long-term relationship. It's a power thing. Short hair gives them power. A little different than the Samson and Delilah story.

    I don't think that's why I did it, though. For power (haven't ended a relationship recently). I can't tell you why, but that wasn't it.

    I haven't written a thing in October. Not on this blog, I mean. I did actually write some other stuff. But now that I know at least one person reads this babbling nonsense (Hi, Rowena!), I shall try to write more often.

    So. Writing. I re-worked a little character description I did a while back (it won me a contest, the prize of which was domination of the world) (well, actually it was a replica of the One Ring, but it's still cool). Now it's something resembling a short short story, and is called "King of Kings, Master of Camels" (yeah, long title for a story a mere 360 words long). So now I have to find some unsuspecting editor to send it to. I've also been looking over some of my creative non-fiction, thinking about how I might revise it and where I might send it.

    Fiction has stalled a little. I've started work on a Cobbleshore story called "Great Skerry," but I -- as I too often seem to do -- kind of skipped over the middle so I could get to the end. So then I made myself take some time through the middle and wouldn't let myself write the end. So now I have a so-so beginning, a boring middle, and no end. Bleah. I think I need to start again.

    And I decided to sign up for NaNoWriMo (that's National -- except it's really international -- Novel Writing Month. It's in November, and the object is to write a whole novel (or at least 50, 000 words) in one month. Quantity over quality (which, I think, is a good way to write first drafts). I'll be working on a YA novel called The Secret Common-Wealth, which so far is a vague outline (which is okay, as the rules say no writing until November 1). We'll see what I actually get done.

    13 September 2003

    Take The Geek Test. I'm a major geek at 38.06706%. Yikes! I knew a was a little geeky, but major?

    07 September 2003

    I can't remember what they were at before, but "Come-From-Away" is now on page 12 of Bitbooks' Digital Fiction Links, and has an average rating of 10 (out of 10), while "A Gift of Bones and Motley Feathers" seems to have disappeared from the listings entirely. Weird.
    These have gotta be the coolest action figures ever! I need that Rosie the Riveter. (link via a link to the librarian figure on Neil Gaiman's blog)
    Finally, something I can blog about. Yes, I wrote something! I'm about two third of the way through a new short story, probably titled "Great Skerry." AND I recently edited two other stories (another rewrite of what was once called "Bird Bones and Feathers" and a fine-tuning of "Caught on Thorns: Three Variations of Snow White," which is really three stories for the price of one). AND I almost have script and thumbnails done for issue two of Fey, the comic that takes me forever to create. Still no sign of a link to Faerie or Bust from Scott McCloud's 24 hour comic index, though. Must be patient.

    In other news, sort of, I didn't win the Clarke-Bradbury International Science Fiction Competition. Not that I expected to, but it would've been cool.

    06 September 2003

    Me, according to the numerologists at Facade. Weird, but kind of cool.

    31 August 2003

    Try this: Brendan's On-Line Anagram Generator. (link via Pen-Elayne)

    24 August 2003

    I like Harry Potter plenty, but this is just too much.

    26 July 2003

    Er . . . I'm just testing Blog This! Very exciting. Need a blog? Go to BLOGGER. Right, end of test.

    23 July 2003

    Hee hee. This is sooo funny (link swiped from Teresa Nielsen Hayden's blog, Making Light). Brought tears to my eyes. But then I have a rather peculiar sense of humour.

    22 July 2003

    I was just having my lunch, watching While You Were Out, and I saw a commercial. For a book. Yes, a television commercial for a book. I don't think I've ever seen a book advertised on tv before, but I guess St. Martin's thought tv was the perfect venue for pushing To the Nines by Janet Evanovich. Is this the wave of the future? Some strange impulse makes me want to buy the book just because it was advertised on tv. Not because I'm susceptible to advertising. No, because maybe if I buy it and it sells really well, other publishers will see how promoting their books on tv can be effective. The thought of seeing as many book ads in commercial breaks as ads for tampons and phone companies just amuses me. But I'm weird.

    13 July 2003

    Free comics I haven't yet blathered about, and which I haven't packed:

    • Rocket Comics
    • The Best of Dork Storm
    • Peanutbutter and Jeremy
    • Alternative Comics
    • The Metabarons #11

    There are, of course, a few more that I haven't reviewed, which I did already pack. But that's the list. I'll actually say something about them a little later. Right now I need some lunch. Then I need to exercise, especially as I didn't exercise yesterday.
    I was right. It's all the gym teacher's fault.
    It's only the end of criticism again? This essay makes me want to finish my Free Comic Book Day roundup (yet another thing I haven't finished), but I think I packed most of the books -- except the ones I'm not keeping. Now I have to go back and see which ones I've already talked about. Not that I'm going to singlehandedly save criticism. I'm probably not even a very good critic (of comic books, at least). Right . . .
    Why so little blogging? Er . . . Faint shame, I think. I haven't finished the novel (hardly worked on it in fact), haven't done much with the interconnected short stories, have hardly touched my comic. And I didn't even finish teaching myself to juggle. I do have the fact that I'm madly packing for our move at the end of the month as an excuse. It's a pretty lame excuse, though. Blogging doesn't take up that much time.

    01 July 2003

    Lookit that. It's been a month since I last posted anything. And here I was going to keep this thing up to date. I guess not much has happened.

    30 May 2003

    Did you ever wonder how big a Starfury is compared to an X-Wing? Or how the Death Star compares to Earth's Moon? Wonder no longer.

    24 May 2003

    I never did finish my free comic book day post, so now that it's never-get-work-done Saturday again, I'll post some more.

    Last week I picked up the first Leave it to Chance collection, Shaman's Rain, from the library (alas, I have to give it back). Now that I've seen a complete story arc, I like this book even more. It still doesn't blow me away, but it's a good story that anyone -- but especially girls who like Nancy Drew -- can enjoy. Okay, there were some irritating grammatical errors (why do mistakes like this seem to be acceptable in comics when they're not in any other print medium?) (except the web, if you can call it a print medium, which it isn't really, but sort of is). Anyway, there was nothing super-spectacular about the book, except that there aren't that many really fun comics that pretty much anyone who picks it up can get something out of. (Speaking of grammar, I'm not sure that last sentence works, but you know what I mean, right?) So, while I probably won't run out to buy this title every month, it's now on my TPB-collections-to-eventually-buy list.

    So, now to the rest of the comics I got free:

    Free Speeches (Oni Press) Okay, so this isn't actually a comic-book, but it is a comic-book-shaped publication by a comic book publisher. Also, it was published in 1998, so obviously it isn't one of the books that came out specially for free comic book day. Still, I got it free on free comic book day, so I'm gonna babble about it here. A little. What it is is a small collection of speeches by various people regarding comic books and the US First Amendment (being Canadian, I have to stick that "US" in there) and constitutional free speech. This is important stuff. If you ever wondered how or why free speech doesn't always seem to be applied to comics (when it should, of course), then you should read this. Also, the collection includes the Comics Code Authority, and that alone makes it worth reading: "Scenes dealing with, or instruments associated with walking dead, torture, vampires and vampirism, ghouls, cannibalism, and werewolfism are prohibited." Weird stuff.

    Christa Shermot's 100% Guaranteed How-to Manual For Getting ANYONE to Read Comic Books!!! (Second 2 Some Studios) I really like this book. It's really addressed to people who don't read comics, presenting arguments about why they should (which mainly run along the lines of pointing out that any genre or type of story found in prose fiction, tv or movies can also be found in comics, and done just as well or better), rather than to people who already read comics, but it was fun anyway. And now I have a document to hand to those annoying people who insist that comics are all superheroes and kiddie stuff. The only real drawback is that there is an awful lot of text, and less-patient readers may well be turned off. But I liked it enough to think seriously about tracking down the actual comic that the characters here appear in: Fade from Blue. And the art's good, too.

    Jennifer Daydreamer: Oliver (Top Shelf Productions) This is a book that rather disappointed me. I'd heard lots of good things about Jennifer Daydreamer, and was very happy to see this book on the free comics table at one of the three stores I went to. That I was disappointed doesn't mean the book was bad, just that I thought it would be much better. Each "story" really doesn't hold up on its own, though I suspect they aren't meant to. By the end of the book, the whole sequence of stories have added up to a strange surreal whole that is greater than its parts, but it still wasn't as good as I was expecting. Also, the art was mostly pretty bad. That said, there was definitely something interesting going on, and I think Jennifer Daydreamer's work may prove to be worth having a look at from time to time.

    Landis #0 (A-Bomb) I picked this book up because it's fantasy. From reading a lot of fantasy fiction, I know there's an awful lot of crap to wade through in order to find the good stuff, but it's worth the effort. Comics, I figure, are probably about the same. Alas, this isn't "good stuff." To be fair, it's a 0 issue, rather than part of the ongoing series, so it isn't so much a story as a here's-some-background-for-new-readers sort of thing. Even at that, it really doesn't work all that well. The art is quite uneven (and generally not all that good), and the characters really don't catch my interest (partly a fault of this being a non-story issue). Essentially, even with my soft spot for tough women wielding swords, there is nothing about this issue that makes me want to read the title.

    And that's enough for now. I have to go cook some food and get back to reading Half Magic.

    17 May 2003

    Free Comic Book Day was two weeks ago, and I'm just getting around to commenting on all the free books I picked up. Shame on me. Actually, it seems much longer than two weeks, especially considering how fast the days have seemed to pass the past few months. Like time lapse video.

    But, anyway. I convinced my sister (who reads comics every now and then), my nephew (who is into gaming and miniatures, but not comics so much) and my niece (who doens't read comics at all, but likes anime) to come along. My niece also brought her friend. So there we were, two just-over-thirty women, a thirteen-almost-fourteen-year-old boy, and two seven-almost-eight-year-old girls in the wilds of comic book land. Of course I wanted them to come so they could become junkies like me, but I had an ulterior motive -- if they didn't choose their quota, I could make them pick up free stuff for me.

    Three comic stores in the same block (two right next door to each other) and three free books a person. Nine books, right? Due to my clever planning, I came home with thirteen. There were still a few more I would happily have taken. But I was happy. Thirteen free books, and I managed to only spend $20 on non-free stuff. A very good day.

    So here are my thoughts on the books I got. Keep in mind that these are quick judgements, based on a single reading of a single issue or excerpt in an anthology. So. I probably won't get through them all today, so I'll start with my favourites. Or, rather, I'll leave my least favourites till last (meaning these aren't in strict most-to-least fave order).

    Skinwalker #1 of 4 (Oni Press) I'm kind of a Tony Hillerman mystery junkie, so a comic about a Navaho polic officer and an FBI agent investigating murders sounded pretty appealing. I was a bit worried that it would be a Hillerman rip-off, though. Anyway, I liked this one enough that I'll be looking for the collected TPB. It was similar to Hillerman's books to the extent that a detective story in Navaho country with a Navaho police officer as one of the main characters and a plot involving skinwalking is bound to be. Phew. That was quite a sentence. The art's pretty good, though it's all in shades of grey, and often quite dark, which gives it a bit of a . . . I can't think of a suitable adjective, but it is very, very grey. The Navaho characters look Navaho, though, which is a big plus. Good stuff.

    Way of the Rat #1 (Crossgen) I think I've said elsewhere that I've pretty much been avoiding Crossgen's books because they look at first glance like Image clones with their bright computer colouring and all. As often happens when I make some sweeping, opinionated statement like that, I have to admit I was at least partly wrong. Somewhere in a previous post I mentioned Brath, and how it was actually pretty good. Well, Way of the Rat is, too. It's kind of like a Chinese action movie in comic form, which is actually pretty cool. The art is a bit uneven, but mostly good, and the characters look Chinese. And the women are actually wearing clothes! The story is fun, too, though it's hard to say how well it succeeds from only one issue. I suspect I may pick this up now and then, or maybe wait for a TPB. I mean, it's got a talking monkey.

    Whether I will have to continue to revise my opinion of Crossgen books remains to be seen, but I'll certainly be more open-minded from now on. Maybe I'll go check out the free comics on their website.

    Also, I didn't mean to imply that all Image books are bad, just that I'm not the least bit interested in most of them. I do read some of the creator-owned titles they publish (yay, A Distant Soil) and I like Aria (I'm a sucker for fairies), but most of the titles make me want to move to the other side of the store rather than pick them up and read them. (There's another sweeping, opinionated statement waiting to be revised -- somebody feel free to prove me wrong) (I know, send me lots of free Image comics to read and maybe I'll change my mind).

    Leave It To Chance (Image) What was that I was saying about being proved wrong? Well, this book doesn't, quite, but I did enjoy it. I think it's from last year, and I have no idea what issue # it is -- somewhere in the middle, I'm guessing. This book didn't really blow me away or anything, but it's nice to see an all-ages title that has a fun fantasy story and a tough girl main character (that is, a girl who is wearing normal clothes and doesn't have her boobs popping out). I suggested my niece pick this one up, but I don't know if she's read it yet, so I can't tell you what she thought. The story is almost self-contained, so it was a good choice for a free issue. I probably won't rush out and buy it, but I did request one of the TPBs through the public library so I can form a better judgement.

    Anyway, this is becoming a very long post, so I'll leave it at that for now. More later.

    16 May 2003

    I finally got a dog. He sooo soft! Now I not only have the softest, fuzziest cat in the world (Bast, otherwise known as Queen of the Universe) (serves me right for naming her after a goddess), I also have the softest dog in the world (he's like black velvet). He's name is Darwin, which kind of fits my recent tendencies toward atheism. I got him through the Northwest Canadian Greyhound League, and he's a very sweet-tempered, gentle ex-racing dog. See ever-so-cute pictures of him here.

    I've been meaning to babble about the comics I picked up at free comic book day, but I haven't quite got to it yet. Maybe I will later this evening, or maybe on Saturday when I never manage to get any real work done no matter how good my intentions.

    13 May 2003

    Looks like my story wasn't accepted for the SPX 2003 anthology. Oh well, at least I got a piece of finished work out of it. And congrats to all those whose work did get in.

    08 May 2003

    Finally, someone who likes Tank Girl (the movie) as much as I do: "Comic Mayhem" by Andrew Burden.

    06 May 2003

    It's all there. Faerie or Bust. Of course, I have approximately no bandwidth, so good luck trying to see the whole thing in one go. Oh well, time to upgrade I guess.

    05 May 2003

    Hey! I finally got some of my 24-hour comic posted. Only the cover and page 1, but it's better than nothing at all . . .

    04 May 2003

    What? There's a world outside comics? Of course there is; now go explore it, then come back and make a comic about it.

    29 April 2003

    So back on March 17 (if my archives weren't screwy, I'd use the permalink, but, alas . . .) I tried to explain my thoughts on nature and magic and atheism. I didn't do a very good job. What I meant to say was something like this:

    A man truly awake does not need religion. He doesn’t need gods. He doesn’t need miracles. He doesn’t need holy lands here below or celestial heavens up above. For him, life in this universe is itself holy, as is every patch of ground and every path he walks. Life itself is enough of a miracle. To believe in a god who made this life is to believe in a miracle even greater than this miracle. Who needs more than one unfathomable miracle? Existence is a fluke, a freak, a wonder, a dream, a bizarre uncanny thing. Our own consciousness of this existence is so incredible a phenomenon that I don’t understand why anyone feels the need to believe in anything else more 'spiritual.'
    It’s all spiritual. It’s all true magic. Why add imagined magic to explain the magic that is right before us?

    You have to ignore the old-fashioned "he" standing in for both sexes (grrr). That's a quote from a very good (and at times very frightening) article by Ed Weathers. Makes you think. (And I stole the link from Pen-Elayne on the Web.)

    28 April 2003

    Woo hoo! Free comic book day is coming up soon. I've got three stores in the same downtown block to visit, plus a fourth not too far away if I don't get enough free stuff there.

    And I actually went comic shopping recently. I forgot my list though, and I couldn't remember which recent back issues I'd bought of some titles, so I decided to just buy a few new things instead. Of course, they are new to me, but since I'm hopelessly behind, they're not really new to anyone else.

    I picked up the first tpb of Phil and Kaja Foglio's very funny Girl Genius. It's called Agatha Heterodyne and the Beetleburg Clank. It was really the . . . catchphrase? . . . I'm not sure what to call it. Anyway, the words "A Gaslamp Fantasy with Adventure, Romance & Mad Science" were the reason I picked it up for a closer look. Then I brought it home, and oh what fun it is! I liked it, in other words.

    Then I got Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things by Ted Naifeh. Also very fun. And creepy, and cool, and a little silly in some places. Very much worth the money. More than worth it. (No, I'm not being very articulate today.)

    I also grabbed the Prologue issue of CrossGen's Brath becuase I'm a sucker for pseudo-Celtic stuff. I've generally avoided CrossGen's books because I'm really not a fan of computer colouring. Some of it is very good, but a lot is just garish. Anyway, Brath isn't too bad. An interesting character, plot not too horrible. Not a glowing review, I know, but it's good enough I'll try a few more issues at least -- to see how it progresses.

    Now I'll shut up about comics and go do something productive. (No, I haven't got "Faerie or Bust" online yet.)

    21 April 2003

    Oh yeah, another thing I learned while doing a 24-hour comic: if there is a blob of wet ink anywhere on the page, I'll stick my hand in it.
    Did I say "where does the time go" in my last post? And here it is more than a week later . . .

    Oh well. I finished the comic short to submit to the SPX 2003 anthology. It's called "Fey: Fleeing Arcadia" (the "Fey" part is from my eventually-ongoing-series Fey, though this piece is from way, way, waaay in the past). I was originally going to call it "Leaving Arcadia," and now I kind of wish I hadn't changed it. Oh well. It's done, it's submitted, and now I wait with my fingers crossed.

    I'm pretty pleased with a lot of the art in it, but the story seems a little thin. I think my 24-hour comic (soon to be online) had a more substantial story, and it was a peculiar ramble about hitch-hiking, pants and boinking.

    12 April 2003

    Well, here it is Saturday already. Where does the time go? (Lately I've been feeling like I'm stuck in the middle of a time-lapse movie, as the weeks go by at impossible speeds.)

    The 24-hour comic is done. Woo hoo! Twenty-three hours and nineteen minutes and I could barely move my arm by the end. Sleep and tylenol cured all, though, and my wrist is hardly stiff at all now. It was a strange experience. I learned many things, such as:

    • loose inks over tight pencils look much better than any sort of inks over loose pencils (with my meagre drawing skill, anyway)
    • no matter how well you think you know a character, they can still surprise you
    • it is possible to draw for nearly 24 hours straight, even when you can't feel your fingers
    • satyrs don't wear pants (except occasionally as a joke)
    • faeries are obsessed with "boinking" (their word, not mine)
    • I really need to take some more life drawing classes
    • even really awful drawings can convey a surprising amount of emotion and character
    • it's really difficult to draw facial expressions on a character who looks like a rabbit
    • satyrs are fun to draw
    • satyr horns are fun to draw (though they go wonky sometimes)
    • if you hitchhike by the side of a major highway, carrying a sign that says "Faerie or bust," you just might get a ride from an elf on horseback

    I'm sure there's more, but those are the things-learned that come to mind right now. I'm going to try to get the thing scanned this weekend (or maybe early next week) so you can see for your ownself.

    08 April 2003

    So my archives between March 9 and March 31 are missing. Hmmm. Probably has something to do with me switching from weekly to monthly archiving (why I chose weekly in the first place, I don't know. Perhaps I thought I had a lot to say . . .).

    Disappearing archives aside, I am now preparing to write a 24-hour comic, beginning as soon as I have coffee tomorrow (after first waking up, of course). (Actually that will be later today, as it is after 1 in the morning, but I think of it as tomorrow because I haven't gone to bed yet.) Twenty-four pages plus a cover in twenty-four consecutive hours. That's the aim, anyway. We'll see how I actually do. This evening I made a couple of signs to go on my doors for before and after working on the thing. It made a good warm-up exercise.

    And, speaking of comics, Girlmatic is now up and running with all sorts of cool stuff. So go subscribe (which is an entirely hypocritical thing to say, as I haven't subscribed yet. But I will, and before the end of the month so I can get the cheap rate. Because I am cheap. Or just poor).

    03 April 2003

    Here's a cool thing: Amber Benson (who played Tara on Buffy the Vampire Slayer) has written an animated show. It's called Ghosts of Albion and you can watch it online. It's creepy and has magic and London and were-beasts. Much fun.

    31 March 2003

    From the part of my brain that ponders irrelevant things: Why does Harry Potter have glasses, anyway? I don't mean why did he have them in the first place, but why does he still have them? I mean, if wizards can come up with "Skele-grow" to re-grow the bones in Harry's arm, why can't they come up with a spell or potion to fix his eyesight? Then again, whenever he loses his glasses, he doesn't seem to miss them much. Maybe they're just for show.

    I'm thinking this may be a good example of why one should always put limits on magic in fiction. Harry Potter magic doesn't seem limited, really, except for having to learn spells before casting them.

    28 March 2003

    White Foxes, Full Moon has now reached 44, 730 words! Woo hoo! (only about a bazillion more to go . . . )

    26 March 2003

    I had to share this one. Put down any drinks or food and swallow before you read this. (Stole the link from Will Shetterly's blog, by the way.)

    25 March 2003

    I've spent I don't know how long today, in little bits and bites between doing other things, trying to find something I saw somewhere on the web yesterday. It was, I think, somebody recalling talking to Alberto Manguel, and Jorge Luis Borges was mentioned. Of course, I can't remember where I read it or even exactly what it said, which makes it much more difficult to find. The only reason I wanted to find it was because I reading a book of essays by Manguel, Into the Looking-Glass Wood, which I am enjoying immensely, and I wanted to share. Alas . . . But lost web pages aside, the book is fantastic. It's essays, but has the sort of unnamable magic that is rarely found even in fiction.

    20 March 2003

    Maybe it's just me, but I think Todd McFarlane has hit a new low. I mean, American McGee's Alice was a little twisted, but pretty cool; Mr McF's Twisted Land of Oz is just repulsive.
    Ever think about what Baghdad means?
    And to get back to the main reason I started this blog -- recording my writing activities -- my novel White Foxes, Full Moon currently has 41, 094 words. That's about half of them, if the story goes as planned. Which it very well may not.

    And I have something resembling a story outline (I think I use the phrase "something resembling" a lot) for the comic short I'm attempting to write (wow, look at those qualifiers) for the SPX 2003 Anthology. It's set in ancient Greece and has satyrs (I took them from the first issue of my comic Fey where they have a small appearance in a "long ago" segment). (This will all make sense when I get the bits of my comic that I want online online.)

    And Sharyn November is still looking at the first three chapters of Taken, 1941 (no, I don't really like the title, either) (but I do like the book, or at least large parts of it). Someday I'll get bold and e-mail her again to see if she's had a chance to read it.

    I don't seem to be having too many of my own thoughts lately (hmm . . . empty brain), but here's something from an interview with Neil Gaiman (re: Coraline):

    For years I thought it was a name I'd made up and then I've actually discovered now that it's a real name. Which is always what happens when you make up a really good name. [Laughs] You discover other people made it up too.

    Now I have a peculiar urge to go look for all my made-up names on Behind the Name.

    19 March 2003

    This made me laugh:

    After 27 years of being a high school and middle school librarian, I thought I had heard and seen everything. Last week, when a sixth grade boy brought his library book in to be renewed, he said, "By the way, there's a booger on page 87." Long pause. "And it's not mine."

    Find more like it at What they didn't teach us in library school. (I don't think I want to be a librarian.)

    18 March 2003

    Speaking of nature, here's something to think about:

    Yet the overriding relationship we have with nature - and the one that television repeatedly ignores - is through our emotions. It is through feelings and imagination that we experience kinship and connectedness, the pain of separation and extinction, the renewal of spring and birth, not through the detachment of scientific accounts. And it is through myth, story-telling, art, metaphor and play that we make overall sense of our place in the world. Given that language and imagination are what define our species, it is through these that we make our most truly human, and therefore most authentically ecological engagements with the world.

    Yes, "Creatures matter simply because they exist."

    And here's something on the Dresden masterpieces: "As is usual in any show that presents itself as a collection of masterpieces, there are lots of things we feel we ought to be interested in, but rarely are." Heh.

    I have this weird idea that nature is magical. Not magic in the sense of the exercise of will upon the universe to bring about change, nor magic as some kind of supernatural force. I've been trying to figure out some way to explain what I mean, and all I can come up with is something vague about how mind-blowingly marvelous the world (and all its scientific principles) is, so that "magic" is the only word that begins to describe how I feel. Of course, that doesn't explain what I mean, either. Not quite, anyway. Maybe someday I'll sit down and write an essay.

    So pondering this as I have been, I came across an article that mentions "a feeling of awe at the majesty of the universe and the intricate complexity of life." That pretty much sums it up, and reading more of "Snake Oil and Holy Water, " it seems I might be an atheist. Not an entirely startling fact, really, but ancient religion is so much fun . . . Still, "We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further" (from page 2 of the same article). I've seldom read anything with so many quotable lines.

    15 March 2003

    I just attempted some small changes to my Blogger template. Let's hope I didn't completely screw things up.

    12 March 2003

    Call me weird, if you like. If I'm weird, I'm in good company.
    Who knew the history of juggling could be so funny? Though it makes sense it would be, if you think about it.

    New juggling obsession aside, I just did the first edit (well, technically the second, but it doesn't matter) of a short story (technically three short stories in one, but that doesn't matter either) I wrote over the summer (mostly) while I was taking an ISIS workshop. Parts of it are still not quite right, but quite a bit of it makes me happy.

    And I just now discovered that if you click on a bookmark accidentally and go "oh crap, I meant to do that in the other window," and quickly hit the back button, all the stuff you just typed into Blogger is still there. Or it was for me. Thank the gods.

    I've finished three very nice suede juggling balls and have been practicing throwing just one from hand to hand, so (theoretically) I'll throw better when I start using more than one. Actually, I've been doing two-balls exercises, too. Not quite ready for three, but I found a very useful Instant Jugglers' Manual. Like a fiend, I tell you. Soon.

    11 March 2003

    As a nice complement (or maybe an antidote) to the Sequential Tart article I mentioned last time, they now have one up about why Vertigo used to be great: Read This or Die: Vertigo Turns Ten. There are a few things there I'll have to start searching for.

    09 March 2003

    There's great article on Sequential Tart subtitled "Why I No Longer Read Vertigo Comics." Pretty nearly my feelings, too (though I haven't given up all hope yet).

    On an entirely different topic: dreams. I have weird ones. Lately Penn & Teller have been making peculiar cameo appearances in mine (imagine a battle scene from The Two Towers -- all bloody and intense -- and suddenly there are Penn & Teller, trying to make everyone laugh). (Yes, I really did dream that.) Obviously, my very strange subconscious is trying to tell me something. (Does your subconscious send Penn & Teller to deliver messages?) Clearly it must Mean Something. I decided it means I need to start teaching myself to juggle again (that is, start teaching again, not juggle again, as I never quite learned last time).

    Alas, it is very difficult to learn to juggle when you haven't anything to learn to juggle with. So off I go to Google to look up juggling balls ("juggling balls" always makes me laugh; I am weird, yes). I found an online store with all sorts of wonderful things to juggle, including lovely clear acrylic balls for contact juggling. I need some of those. Just call me Queen of the Labyrinth Goblins. I also found patterns for making your very own handsewn leather juggling balls. I now have two finished and one more to go. Soon I'll be juggling like a fiend. Oh yeah.

    08 March 2003

    On Bitbooks Digital Fiction Links my story "Come-From-Away" currently has an average rating of 10 (yay!) (on a 1 to 10 scale), yet it's listed way down on page 14 of the fantasy category (new stories are listed first, with the rest organized by popularity). So I did good out of 10, but not so good in the popularity contest. Hmmm. "A Gift of Bones and Motley Feathers," on the other hand is rated 7.5 but listed nearer the beginning, on page 9.

    05 March 2003

    Tea. Mmm . . . My friend Rowena always brings me really nice loose tea when she visits (my friend Rowena is always welcome). I guzzle tea like -- searching for appropriate simile -- like a -- oh, forget it, I just read The Unauthorized Autobiography of Lemony Snicket, and any simile I come up with for a few days will probably be a poor attempt at Snicketism. Anyway, I drink a lot of tea.

    So check out these "architectural teapots." Very steampunk. Some of the later pictures are truly strange, but the first few are very, very cool.

    And speaking of Lemony Snicket, I think Daniel Handler is up to something that may result in the A Series of Unfortunate Events series ("Series series"; heh) becoming Literature (oh yes, with a capital "L"). If nothing else, it's a wickedly clever puzzle, and thoroughly addictive. The Unauthorized Autobiography comes with a reversible dust jacket, so you can disguise the "extremely dangerous" book as The Pony Party by Loney M. Setnick. How can anyone resist a reversible dust jacket?

    04 March 2003

    Answering a question about used books and BookCrossing (release books into the wild!), Neil Gaiman said this: "Booksales are booksales, readers are readers, and the two things aren't exactly the same. I'd rather look after my readers and let the booksales take care of themselves." Doesn't that make you want to go out buy all his books brand new, in hardcover?

    01 March 2003

    Well, I finished the short story (called "Seeing Stars") yesterday morning. I don't suppose it'll actually win me the contest, but it's done and I'm not too unhappy with it. (It just occurred to me that I didn't get the autoresponse I thought I was supposed to get from submitting; I hope that doesn't mean something went wrong and my story didn't go through.)

    Also, if you need something to make you laugh (but swallow and put down the drink first), read this.

    I'm off to write a book review and then to the library.

    28 February 2003

    So you ever wonder which SF writer you're destined to marry? Apparently, it's Neil Gaiman for me. Alas, as the quiz kindly pointed out, he is already married. Which probably means I am destined to be alone. Good thing for me I like my own company.

    So I got a draft of the short story done. It even has a middle, more or less. Have to send it in tomorrow; thank the gods for electronic submissions.

    26 February 2003

    I am trying very hard to finish a story to enter in the Clarke-Bradbury International Science Fiction Competition. It had very little middle when I first wrote it, and it persists in having very little middle. Argh!

    And I just found an anthology to submit to. This one's the Small Press Expo Anthology for alternative comics.

    21 February 2003

    I just checked the 2002 Preditors & Editors Reader's Poll results . . . . My story "A Gift of Bones and Motley Feathers," published last autumn in Fables, placed 24th in the Short Story -- Romance category. Of course, that's number 24 out of 27, plus each place often has multiple stories (for example, "A Gift" is tied with two other stories for 24th place). I still can't figure out why the story ended up in Romance. I wrote it as fantasy. It has a not-happy ending. I don't write romance . . .

    Just finished reading The Iron Woman by Ted Hughes. It's the sequel to The Iron Man, the book on which the wonderful animated movie The Iron Giant was based. I saw the movie first, and loved it. Then I encountered The Iron Man in a collection called The Puffin Book of Modern Fairy Tales, which had reprinted the first three parts. It was fabulous, and I wondered why they hadn't printed the whole thing. The anthology wasn't very thick, and could have stood the addition of a few more pages. So then I found The Iron Man (the whole thing) in a used bookstore. Yay! But when I read it, I discovered why Puffin had only included the first three parts in their anthology. The last two parts are just (or nearly) as well written, but the plot takes a sudden turn. It's a lovely story about a metal-eating giant robot, but you have to skip from wondering, "Where are they going to find enough metal to keep feeding him?" to the attack of a giant Space-Bat-Angel-Dragon (yes, I said Space-Bat-Angel-Dragon). I can't jump that far so suddenly; it hurts.

    So what about The Iron Woman? Well, the writing is mostly still pretty gorgeous, except occasionally it's very bad. And the story is a blatant moral tale about how we are destroying the environment. Now, I don't have anything against such stories. The crappy things we are doing to our homeworld are deeply disturbing. On the other hand, I don't like being hit over the head with a heavy blunt object. To make things worse, the Iron Woman comes to save the day (with the help of the Iron Man, of course, because what woman could save the day on her own? aargh). She has the amazing powers of the Space-Bat-Angel-Dragon to help her out. She turns all the men into fish and other water creatures (great illustrations!). The world falls apart -- phones stop working, cars run out of gas, the electricity goes out -- because there are no men to run things (because what woman could run the world without a man? aargh). But then the Iron Woman sets things right once she's taught everyone (or, the men at least) their lesson ("Who will clean you up?" "Mother will clean me up.") This book was published in 1993!!

    Well, I didn't mean to get quite so annoyed. I didn't hate the book that much. There were some good things in it. Nice illos. And I'm sure no one will listen to me, but my advice is this:

  • rent Iron Giant, watch it many times;
  • find a copy of The Iron Man, read the first three chapters many times;
  • do not, no matter how tempted you may be, read parts four and five of The Iron Man and especially don't read The Iron Woman.

    So there.
  • 16 February 2003

    So I'm going to be moving. Don't know where to yet, but somewhere. And so I have begun to pack, to get all the clutter out of the way so the house will look nice when people come to look at it. I have an awful lot of clutter. And an awful lot of action figures. And how come a few shelves worth of books translate into many, many boxes of books? It's all a mystery.

    I just finished reading E.M. Forster's Aspects of the Novel late last night. It's a thought-provoking book, at least for writerly types like me. I'm currently writing a review of it for my About Creative Writing for Teens site (yes, I am an About Guide; you can be, too).

    I keep working away at my comic. And my fiction. I want to enter a contest that ends on the 28th of February, so I'd better get some serious work done . . .

    12 February 2003

    I think all I did today was shop. Comics first, of course. I spent too much money, of course. And I still didn't fill very many gaps in my collection (of course). But some coolness occurred. Just the other day I was wondering, "I wonder what happened to Paul Pope. I haven't seen anything by Paul Pope in ages." (Which may, of course, have something to do with the fact that I haven't been in a comic shop in ages.) So what did I find in the comic shop today? 100% by Paul Pope. Only issues 1 and 4 (of course), but I haven't quite exhausted the comic shopping possibilities in this town yet.

    Then I got assorted issues of old favourites -- Poison Elves, A Distant Soil, Strangers in Paradise, Love and Rockets -- and a few new things (well, new to me at least). Vertigo's Fables looks interesting, and I found the first issue of 30 Days of Night, which I had heard was nearly impossible to find. Apparently not in Victoria. They had a stack of them, plus an equal number of issue three (and yet not a single copy of issue two). Strange.

    But the really cool thing is a book called Nightmares & Fairy Tales. I found number four, and it's a self-contained story. A very beautiful and twisted version of Snow White. If you have any interest in comics, you really must read this.

    After that, more shopping. Swooshy skirts and things (and books) from Value Village. Food from two different grocery stores. The usual things to keep one alive (not that I really need swooshy skirts to stay alive, but I gotta cover my lower half with something, and why not make that something swooshy and fun? Especially if it has those little tinkly, jingly things on the ends of the drawstring.) (I do believe I mentioned that I'm easily amused.)

    But now I have to go write and draw and otherwise make my own comic book happen (more on that when there's something worth telling). Also, I might sleep. Or maybe just drink more tea.

    11 February 2003

    It's been a really, really, really long time since I bought any comic books. I'm suffering withdrawal, though reading the Comics Journal's blog helps a little. Reading the odd webcomic, like Bite Me: A Webcomic for the Distinguished Vampire also makes it better. Mostly. But tomorrow I'm going comic shopping! Yay! I'm so happy. And also easily amused.