21 August, 2019

Summer ends. I grimly face my wyrd.


Murdercat found the sun
The summer of time measured in "X Days Since Last Time I Went Among People" (X=2, but this was a social week) is drawing to a close. The HS starts tomorrow. The uni classes hold off another month, but really, if I am back in front of any classroom, summer's over. I'm having those little surges of panic, like I'm forgetting something, or I've squandered my time.

I translate this feeling to myself as "did not write most of a novel this summer." I'll probably be doing that next year, assuming the apocalypse spares us. I have ideas. They will possibly require research. So I counsel myself to patience.

I did write other things. Two syllabi, two websites for those classes, and I have been listening to Critical Role S2 in prep for the third syllabus (HS S2020) because seeing a rules-oriented D&D 5e game is actually research. I even, gasp, playtested a module. Unheard of in this group of home-brew plots and epics, but it worked out. I am still wrangling with how in five hells I am going to teach a thing I have been doing for 30 years (mostly in AD&D 2e, house-ruled to our eyes) to teenagers who may, or may not, have played before. Or run a game. Or faced the rules. But that's a challenge for which I have a couple months left to prepare.

I also wrote several things for the release of How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse, which is coming out in October and of which I am so damned proud I can't even. There will be a lot more about that coming up.

I've also spun a lot of wool. This batch is made of unrelated bundles of fiber in complementary colors, mixed together and spun at random. There's camel in there, various sheep wools, who knows. It's becoming a rug as we speak.

I have knit several socks in prep for the holidays. The godson is getting 4, none of which will match, at his request. They are also glittery yarn, also at his request. He is almost 5.

 I have rediscovered longsword training, and am pleased that I haven't forgotten my drills and that I've gotten so much stronger since I first learned them twenty-odd years ago. It is also a sadness, because the friend who was my first teacher died from a massive, surprise heart attack a few years ago, just north of 40, and that knowledge still shocks me whenever I recall it.

I have failed to convince my husband that we need another kitten. As Murdercat, almost 4, tries to coerce Tinycat, almost 12, to play with him, resulting in chunks of hair everywhere and a lot of feline yelling, I feel like the argument just sort of makes itself, but... the husband remains unmoved.

25 June, 2019

sew what?

Singer treadle sewing machineMy parents came out for a visit, and with them they brought antiques for which they no longer have room but we do, and so... I have this 1926 Singer treadle sewing machine now. My parents picked it up at an antique show and held onto it until I had room, because who doesn't want a treadle sewing machine in case of a zombie apocalypse? I am no seamstress on a good day, but that's fine. This is a beautiful thing. It came with an owner's manual for a different model of sewing machine. I discovered this when I went to start trying to figure out what parts were which and the first diagram identified things that simply are not on this machine. The internet is mighty, however, and I soon found and downloaded the correct owner's manual. Now I just need to get the belt on it--a leather belt, mind you--and order some needles and oil we're all set to... I have no idea. Sew the occasional seam, I guess, in quicker order than setting up the little crappy Kenmore electric I have. Dad says with the right needles, it can sew leather. I don't see myself making a bodice or anything, though.

detail of sewing machine
But look at this thing. How pretty is that? The I-don't-even-know-what-that-part-is-called is decorated for no reason other than it can be, so why not? I wish we still did that. Decorated things for no reason. Why can't a utilitarian object also be beautiful? And also why can't it be made to last for a hundred years?

metal fire truckDad also brought out this guy, which is the only toy truck I ever played with. I guess it's missing a couple of ladders, and this is not the original paint job, but whatever. The steering wheel works, y'all. The front wheels turn. And it has a bell, an actual bell. I recall in the dim and distant past it had, what, paracord or something wound up and playing the part of the hose? I'd unspool it, then rewind it again, repeat, repeat, repeat. I don't know why this truck fascinated me as a kid, but it did.

It's awesome. It's all metal parts and heavy...like the Kitchenaid of toy fire trucks.

26 April, 2019

how to make feathered enemies

This morning, on the way to the gym, we saw a crow dive into the tall grass beside the trail and grab a very tiny baby rabbit by the ears in its beak. The crow was having a little trouble with lift, and the rabbit was screaming (rabbits scream. This is not a fiction from Watership Down, but a shrill and disturbing truth).

I, torn between admiration of corvids and sympathy for tiny bunnies, slapped my hand over my mouth and stood there expecting to see the crow drop the bunny, stab it with its beak, and have a brutal breakfast. Nature's mean, man.

Instead, the crow lost altitude and landed and dropped the bunny...

...who tried to run...

...and got grabbed again, and lifted....

...and got dropped again, and tried to run...

...all the while screaming...

...and at that point I had enough. The crow had the bunny pinned, by the ears, and clearly couldn't hold it down long enough to stab it. (The crow was giving off wtf, man, I thought this was a mouse, this is not a fucking mouse! vibes.) So I ran at the crow, who prudently abandoned its screaming, thrashing victim, who--unharmed? or at least not bleeding--ran at me (or rather, away from the crow), and then jagged into the grass and hopefully from there back underground or under some bushes, where crows cannot go.

And that is how I pissed off the crows in the neighborhood (again. Last time I rescued a frog).

18 April, 2019

How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse

Hey hey! Big news! I can now show you the freakin' amazing cover-art for my novel, How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse, coming from DAW on October 8, 2019.

And, and! You can even read the first chapter right here.

Rory Thorne is a princess with thirteen fairy blessings, the most important of which is to see through flattery and platitudes. As the eldest daughter, she always imagined she’d inherit her father’s throne and govern the interplanetary Thorne Consortium.

Then her father is assassinated, her mother gives birth to a son, and Rory is betrothed to the prince of a distant world.

When Rory arrives in her new home, she uncovers a treacherous plot to unseat her newly betrothed and usurp his throne. An unscrupulous minister has conspired to name himself Regent to the minor (and somewhat foolish) prince. With only her wits and a small team of allies, Rory must outmaneuver the Regent and rescue the prince.

How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse is a feminist reimagining of familiar fairytale tropes and a story of resistance and self-determination — how small acts of rebellion can lead a princess to not just save herself, but change the course of history.

Preorder available from... 

09 April, 2019

proof of life

It's spring, blah blab April cruel months blah blah. But here in SoCal, it's when the Renaissance Festival happens, which seems strange since I grew up with summer Ren Faires, but whatever. I do not miss the summer temperatures when one is laced into a leather bodice.

Here is proof that Nous and I are not, in fact, dead. Or even particularly sunburned, because a) sunscreen, duh, and b) hats!

It was opening weekend, which can be a little chaotic, but also the one cool day for the next five and, probably more important, since it's just the end of the first week of spring quarter (and my HS class is on spring break), there were no assignments requiring commentary over the weekend, so we went. I mean, we can't miss Faire. (I don't think I've missed a Faire since college days, when I used to work at one. That belt in the photo? From those days. And because it's peeling and basically disintegrating, this was its last Faire year.)

Anyway. It was not a year of big purchases, but I did find some fresh roasted coffee in a thoroughly appropriate blend. I AM deviant. And I am a witch* because that is what we call women who will not have it with the patriarchy, and who also might know a few things about herbs or spells or who make things or, you know, whatever. (Like knitting. That greenish bit beside the bag is a tea-cozy that looks like a bubbling-over cauldron from this pattern here.)
*Which is not to say I am a Wiccan--though I was, once, and I was deviant about that, too, which is why I'm not anymore.

Anyway, I will leave you with one more piece of photographic evidence of my witchery, because everyone knows all witches have black cats, and I have TWO.

Sometimes I need visible proof that they actually do like each other, and also just how much bigger Murdercat is than Tinycat, and how much she does not give a shit about that.

18 February, 2019

in case of actual content, pet the cat

I am given to understand that pictures of cats suffice for actual content. I would produce actual content, see, but there are book revisions happening for How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse, which is coming out in October, and which is engaging all of my word-production except for professionally required comments on student writing and letters of recommendation.

So here: Murdercat and Tinycat, enjoying a rare day of sunlight in this otherwise rainy winter (which is fine by me, this rain, except when I have to drive in it. The other drivers are dangerous, and also the engineers who designed street drainage were not especially skilled, and the car is not a goddamned longboat.) There are two complete cats in this photo, I promise.

I am also given to understand that black cats are not as Instagrammable (seriously told this by someone who works in cat adoption) as cats with colorful fur. I wish to argue that, in fact, even black cats have color when sufficient sunlight is applied. Tinycat (there on the right, lying on top of her own head) is turning auburn in her senescence. She turned 11 this month.

For comparison, here she is in 2008, about 3 months into her existence. Note the striping.

Yeah. That's all I got. Break's over. Back to revisions. Enjoy the cats; they're enjoying the sunlight.

26 November, 2018

I am thankful for boxes. And no boxes.

We are moved. We are (mostly) unpacked. The boxes, some of which have moved with us twice now, have been sent to the great recycling dumpster in the sky (really, the parking lot). Books are shelved, art is hung, and only two things broke. One of them, unfortunately, was a light bulb on a lethal collision with a bookshelf on the deep-pile* living room carpet.  I found out there was still glass in the carpet yesterday.

Ask me how I discovered this. I dare you.

*this is the carpet that comes with the place. I would have wood, if left to my own.