haikujaguar: From art-marker self-portrait for birthday. ((default))
Alas, my poor old computer froze up today and took an hour's worth of work on "The Smell of Intelligence" with it, which means I won't have it prepared for today the way I'd hoped. Still, I can be glad the computer didn't die entirely, given how old it is! I will just have to re-do the edits. Maybe the second pass will be even better. :)

Meanwhile, I am thinking: Wow, this is the last of the trunked Jokka stories; I put it away because it was far too long for most markets, and the ones that could buy it complained that I had left too much out of it (in an attempt to make it market-length). Putting all that extraneous stuff in feels very good. And... well, it's the last of the trunked Jokka stories! After this, there are no more to release. I'd have to write new ones.

There is part of a story about Kediil and Red Honey, and I feel relief thinking of that one: I embarked on writing it with a sort of dread, thinking that it was far too long for a short story, but that I wasn't looking forward to forcing it to novel length. Now it can be whatever length it must be! And no worries as to whether it will fit in this or that venue. I wonder if that will refresh me sufficiently to return to it? It's an intricate little story, intertwining a love affair with the continuation of Serel's (the eperu from "New Stories") attempts to create a settlement.

And of course, there's the sequel to Shell waiting, which I'm glad I waited to write, because the ideas I have now are much better than the ones I had then.

How odd, this great vista before me! More Jokka stories. I would never have thought. And so much other stuff on my hard drive I'd love to finish and share, like the tale of how the Tsipia-aliens met the humans (and oh, I think you'd like Graciel the translator!), this random silly fluff about a Harat-Shar using a card game to win her way onto a Home Guard ship, of course, what happens to Wyatt and the crew of the Spiralwhite, and that's nothing to the finished but unpublished stuff like Reese's story, and Lisinthir's, and Alysha's two novels (!). And all the sequels I never even started because back then to write a sequel before you sold the first book was bad business, a waste of effort when you could be writing book 1 of a new series that might hopefully sell, and then you could worry about all the trunked work, and...

Really, it is a great time to be a writer. If it had come sooner, oh! How busy I'd be! But it has come now, and I am glad it came at all. Real freedom! Bless me, I am a kid in a candy shop. Or better, a middle-aged woman in a candy shop... with no calories. >.>

Onward!


Stardancer Home.

O Friday

Aug. 5th, 2011 09:42 am
haikujaguar: From art-marker self-portrait for birthday. ((default))
Words of the Week Challenge
And the challenge is, to use this week's words of the day in a paragraph/story/poem/etc! Those words are: lenity, cerement, yataghan and adamant.
That seems to offer a pretty obvious scenario, which for me goes like this: Poor judge, adamant on the merits of lenity, did so extend it to the man with the yataghan... and alas, wound up wound up in cerements.

>.>

Right. You all do better!

Daughter at Nigh Onto 4 Years
Climbing into the car after summer camp and gathering up her stuffed toy: "RABBIT? I brought you a FLOWER."

"Wow," said Rabbit in Mommy's voice as Mommy buckled her in. "A flower! Thank you!"

"You're WELCOME. And I'll HOLD IT for you, because you have NO FINGERS."

Bwahahahaha. :)

Creative News/Plans
Other than keeping up with Rosary ($15 to get the extra post tomorrow! Will Mephistophels hug Asrial? Inquiring minds want to know!) and Black Blossom... none at present? This is the last day I'll have off until school starts, so I imagine anything that happens in the next three weeks will be impromptu.

"Stormfront" not only continues to increment, it appears to have triggered the sale of a lot of my backlist. I am watching this with faint bemusement.

Random Admission
...the library had Laurell Hamilton's Hit List, so I am afraid I picked it up. And (gasp), it was actually a mystery, with cops and clues and stuff! It wasn't the quality of the earlier cop stories in the series, but it was definitely better than the soap operatic angsting of the last few books. I am not sorry I read it, amazingly. I am, however, glad I didn't buy it. The hardcover was 320 pages, with lots and lots of white space. I can only imagine what the actual length was, but paying $25 for it would have been absurd.

The more you move back and forth between e-books, serials and physical books, the more aware you become of the mismatch between price and length/quality of packaging. It becomes subconscious, at some point.

Elsewhere (Animals! Edition)
Why Dolphins Wear Sponges. Dolphins use tools, and pass on the knowledge of how to use them to their children. (!)
Why Dogs Wear Snow. Okay, that's not the title of the photo, but it should be. -_-

Quote of the Day
Without love, man cannot leave behind his old ways. -Peter Dunov


Stardancer Home.
haikujaguar: From art-marker self-portrait for birthday. ((default))
Word of the Day
adamant, adj. 1. Not capable of being swayed by pleas, appeals or reason; not susceptible to persuasion; unyielding.
From Greek adamas, "unconquerable; the hardest metal; diamond." I have always heard "will of adamant" and thought it a fine-sounding phrase, conjuring pictures of diamond-sparkling shields.

Daughter at Nigh Onto 4 Years
"MOMMY," she said in the car, all apropos of nothing, "I love you EVEN when I'm ANGRY."

"Oh, sweets," I said. "I love you even when I'm angry too."

"And when I'm SAD," she said. "And MAD."

"You know what?" I said.

"WHAT?"

"I love you... even when I'm asleep," I said. "How about that?"

"That's FUNNY!"

I smiled and said, "But true!"

Creative News/Plans
Rosary will go up today if I see $5! Otherwise, we will wait until next week for the meeting between angel and demon.



"Stormfront" has gone free on Amazon! I wonder how many people will hit the new "click here to nag the author for the sequel" link I added at the bottom?

Elsewhere (Gamer Soap Edition)
Companion Cube Soap - Cake Scented (No Lie!). Oh my gosh. O_O This one's already sold, but...
NES Controller SOAP - Mountain Dew Scented. ...you can still indulge your nostalgia with this one! (Which I couldn't bring myself to use. I wouldn't be able to convince myself that it wouldn't be hard as plastic when I picked it up!)

Quote of the Day
Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they've got a second. -William James


Stardancer Home.
haikujaguar: From art-marker self-portrait for birthday. ((default))
Word of the Day
yataghan, n. 1. A Turkish saber having a doubly-curved blade, concave toward the hill, and a hill with a prominent pommel and no guard.
Google Images provides!

Rosary!
...needs only $10 to get an extra post tomorrow, wherein Asrial meets a real, actual demon! I updated the little ticker there.

Daughter at Nigh Onto 4 Years
For the most part, Daughter appears to be a sturdy little soul: fearfully so, to be honest. I wish she'd be a touch more cautious. But no, she will absolutely spring into new situations or plow into the unknown with hardly a backward glance, leaving me to rush after her in the hopes of belaying all the calamities that seem inevitable to a parent's paranoid eye.

I was surprised, then, when I heard a little whisper at her door. (Don't ask me how I heard it while sound asleep, in a different room, over the white noise of the air cleaner. That's one of those maternal superpowers that you somehow acquire by magic.) "Mommy..."

I got up and padded over to her. "What's wrong?" I whispered.

"There's a scary shadow," she whispered, all tiny voice.

"In your room?" asked I.

"Yes."

"Let me see," I said.

She took my hand and led me into the room, and the scary shadow was, in fact, the opposite: a scary rectangle of light cast by the street-light outside.

"That's just the light from outside," I told her gently. "There's a light casting it... do you want to see?"

She nodded once, and I picked her up and carried her to the window. I pointed out the light. "There, you see that one?" Another little nod. "That's the one that's making all the light in your room." I carried her back to her bed and tucked her in. "It's just a friendly little light, that's all. There's nothing to be afraid of. In fact, see...?"

I straightened up and held out my arms and then danced, swaying, so she could see my shadow against the wall.

She was smiling when I kissed her brow. "Less scared now?"

Another nod. On the way out of the room, I stopped and did the little dance again, and from there I went straight to my bed and tripped into it. It seems ridiculous to think of it, but I think I was half-asleep through the whole incident; waking the next morning, I certainly thought I'd dreamed it.

Two days later, while I was buckling her into her car seat, she said suddenly, "Do you remember YESTERDAY the scary SHADOW? In my ROOM?"

Startled, I said, "That was a few days ago, wasn't it? I do remember. But it wasn't so scary, was it?"

"NO," she said. "Because you were DANCING." And then put her arms out to the sides and wiggled in mimicry.

You never know just what they're going to remember.


Creative News/Plans
Today is an administrative day, I think. Lots of assorted business bills and accounting to be done. Later this week, though, there should be some manner of Black Blossom extra. Sunday, I imagine, I will be working on Godkin.

Elsewhere ( Edition)
Father-Daughter Reading Streak Lasts Nearly 9 Years. Here's a story what was made for tissues.
The Myth of the Teen Brain. [profile] kraygern links to and discusses an article about how we would do well to stop treating teens as some special category between adulthood and childhood.

Quote of the Day
Customer service, philanthropy and public service are all the same thing. -Craig Newmark


Stardancer Home.
haikujaguar: From art-marker self-portrait for birthday. ((default))
Word of the Day
cerement, n. 1. A cerecloth used for wrapping the dead. 2. Any graveclothes.
I am accidentally having a theme here, having looked up this word on my list after writing the baby story. Well, then, theme it is!

Daughter at Near 4 Years
It is not unusual in the morning for my greeting hug to turn into a greeting cuddle. This morning, then, we were sitting on the kitchen floor, with the curve of her little back against my arm and her head on my chest and all the glad warm weight of her in my lap. We passed some companionable time thus, when:

"MOMMY... where is your HEART?"

"Well," said I. "It's right here." Tapping my chest in more or less the right place.

"Where is MY heart?"

"Right... here," I said, tapping her.

She wiggled and laughed. "That TICKLES."

I grinned as she settled back into my lap. "But yes. Your heart is in your chest."

This answer contented her, and she put her head back down. And I... I reflected that I was entirely incorrect. Like a matron queen of liches, my heart was nowhere near my chest anymore... but sitting outside my body, in my lap, beating in another body.

And there, my friends, I fear it will continue to reside until the day I die.

Creative News/Plans
Rosary today. Tonight, I will work on the Spots cover and other various sketches. I am feeling all sketchy.

Read!
Stryck's gorgeous poetry, including one from my prompt on "service."
Ysabet's poem about the Sumerians, now with bonus sketch by me (in the comments).
Miladylibrary's 30 Days of Haiku, including this one, which I really like.

Elsewhere (Smile! Edition)
Art Makes Us Feel Like We're in Love. Science says so, so it must be true!
Nuns Sell Baseball Card for Good Causes! I picked up this article quite some time ago, and since then the card has been auctioned. Happy story!

Quote of the Day
Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength. -Corrie Ten Boom


Stardancer Home.
haikujaguar: From art-marker self-portrait for birthday. ((default))
Word of the Day
lenity, n. 1. The state or quality of being lenient; mildness; gentleness of treatment; leniency.
From the Latin lenitas, from lenis, "mild, soft." I like gentle words. Alas, all the sample sentences using this one seem to think it a bad quality.

Read my Livejournal on Your Kindle
I am experimenting with syndicating my journal through Amazon; for $2 a month you can read this journal on your device, for those of you who prefer your reading away from the computer, or who are away from your computers, or... I am not sure. Honestly! I don't know what market would be served by such a product. But I figured I should give it a whirl anyway.

I note with amusement that you can review my Livejournal on Amazon, so if you feel so impelled, you might say what you think of it there for prospective subscribers...!

Daughter at Near 4 Years
"What color will you make the pancake?" I asked, looking at the paper placemat at the breakfast place. Beside them rested the four crayons that came in the free packet, in the inevitable shades of blue, red, green and yellow. "I guess you could make them blueberry pancakes, if you color them blue."

"OKAY," she said. "And I'll use YELLOW, too, like GOLDEN HONEY."

"That's a great idea," I said. "How about red?"

She blew out an explosive breath at Mommy's foolishness. "NO, Mommy, if I use RED, then they will be BURNT."

"Oh," I said, nodding. "Naturally!"

Creative News/Plans
Tomorrow Rosary, tentatively with two opportunities to accelerate, once on Thursday and once on Saturday. Otherwise, for the most part this week I hope to get some website work done.

Well, and also edit "The Smell of Intelligence." And as I was telling [personal profile] archangelbeth, I found my story notes for the half-complete sequel to "Stormfront," so I may revisit that also.

Elsewhere (The Astonishing Human Body Edition)
Why Diet Food is So Unsatisfying. Such a tricksy thing, the body/mind.
New Genetic Technique Converts Skin Cells into Brain Cells. Well, then!

Quote of the Day
We can't take any credit for our talents. It's how we use them that counts. - Madeleine L'Engle


Stardancer Home.
haikujaguar: From art-marker self-portrait for birthday. ((default))
[profile] stryck wrote a lovely little fantasy about star rays (like manta rays, but in space!). Delightful for the imagery and the whimsy of it.

[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith has posted most of a poem she wrote from a prompt I gave her; Enki's Messengers is about the sacred Hermaphrodite and Neuter ideals encountering one another. That poem's $10 from full funding, but the parts that are posted so far are well worth the read.

(I also promised to sketch something for that poem if it's fully funded! I guess I should start looking up Persian bone structure.)


As for me, I was planning to work on website sketches today, but if I don't sit down and write I will have nothing to post next week! Also, Smashwords disbursed my Q2 earnings, which made me realize that unless I post a new story soon, I will make no more sales there. I should finish tidying up "The Smell of Intelligence."

Finally (and delightfully), Unspeakable has a review by someone I don't recognize. Someone who met the Jokka through the free download? One hopes!
haikujaguar: From art-marker self-portrait for birthday. ((default))
This coming week is my last week off before the end of August, so... I am trying to make plans. The biggest, I think, is that my website is overdue for a visual overhaul, so I think that will be most of next week. Managing to make the Rosary site work (with some advice) has made me bold! And since the front page and the writing pages are really the only fiddly part, I will not be daunted. Everything else is mostly just "pale-colored box on dark background" kind of stuff, even the art pages. Switching out the colors and the fonts should suffice to make it look quite different. Organizing the writing page, though... ugh. That is going to be a task...! I am thinking of having it be tabbed, so you can switch between serials, ebooks and paper books. (Or should it be between genres? Or should the tabs be aliens/universes/series! *cry*) Other than the website stuff, we will probably end up with two episodes of Rosary, the Black Blossom chapter, and an encyclopedia entry (I believe about "presence" and why Ai-Naidar would fail at social networking). Busy week, thus! But after that, time will be scarce until school starts again. On the bright side, summer camp won't be sucking all my money out of my account as soon as it arrives! I may actually be able to put some aside... for her sports and music classes! (Well, and a printer cartridge, or I'll never get that Spots cover painted). Also, in random news: the freebies on Amazon are working! The sales figures are definitely different from usual. Nothing that would blow you away but more of an overall... well, perkiness in the figures. I am all for perkiness. Go go Long Tail! We shall see if "Stormfront" does for my Pelted stories what the free Jokka stories are doing for my Jokka paid stories, when "Stormfront" goes free. I also included an 'email me if you'd like me to work on the sequel' link on the bottom of "Stormfront," just to see if I can generate some mail. Fingers, they are crossed. And now, Saturday beckons. I hope it is a good one for all of you!
haikujaguar: From art-marker self-portrait for birthday. ((default))
Welcome back, LJ! There really is no substitute.

Word of the Day
roister, int v. 1. To engage in boisterous merrymaking; to revel; to carouse. 2. To bluster; to swagger.
Etymology says: "probably from Middle French rustre, "a boor, a clown; clownish," from Latin rusticus, "rustic, from rus, "country."

Outbound
The two Balance Card paintings have been mailed! [personal profile] rebelsheart, [personal profile] jenett, expect them within a few days.

Daughter at Almost 4 Years
"We should have a DANDELION PUFF CAR," declared Daughter.

"Oooh!" I said. "That would be wonderful! Instead of driving everywhere, we'd just float. And if there was no wind..."

"Then WHAT?"

"Then, I guess, we wouldn't go anywhere," I said.

"But if there WAS wind, then we could GO!"

"Yes!" I said. "You would say 'let's go to the grocery, Mommy!' and I would say, 'Okay!' And then we would float to the grocery."

"I want a DANDELION PUFF for a car," said Daughter.

"Me too."

Creative News/Plans
Let's see. I got enough Rosary tips to post the beginning of Chapter 3 today, expect that shortly. No Black Blossom meta-conversation/encyclopedia entry, though, unless I get another tip there.

The Rosary website is slowly coming together. Thank you to those of you who visited me on Livestream last night while I was struggling with the digital painting. Ugh, digital painting. It is not for me!

Otherwise, I am tidying up "The Smell of Intelligence" for e-publication—that's the last of the long Jokka stories, concerning a real anadi witch—and working on a new Three Micahs column.

Art/painting stuff will have to wait until I can buy a new printer cartridge so I can get some of these bluelines out of my computer and onto proper paper.

Elsewhere (Unexpected Art Edition)
Traditional Books with Hyperlinks. Someone stitched them into a real book. With colored thread. Seriously, look at this link.
Disney Princess Costumes, Historically Reinterpreted. I linked to [personal profile] shoomlah's livejournal entry when she started this project... here's a write-up about them, including all of those and some new ones. Aurora is particularly lovely!

Quote of the Day
When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this: you haven't. -Thomas Edison


Stardancer Home.
haikujaguar: From art-marker self-portrait for birthday. (Default)
A Rosary of Stones and Thorns, by M.C.A. Hogarth, is a serialized novel appearing once a week. This is a work of fiction and not intended as serious religious commentary. The first three segments can be read here.

A Rosary of Stones and Thorns
Chapter 2, Part 2


     
      A muffled sob. She rolled onto her side, burying her head in her arms. Stephen stared as another wing joined the first. Her spine, a trembling chain dimpled into a back the color of soft cream, arched as the two pinions rose above her. He could see for himself now that they were attached. Very attached.
      “My God,” he whispered again, then brushed her shoulder. “Please! Please… don’t cry. Are you hurt? Where does it hurt?”
      She was still shaking so he chanced stroking her back between the wings. One of them sliced over his head so sharply he ducked.
      She stared at him and any doubts he might have entertained about her vanished. Her face was smooth and too finely pored for any creature born under the sun, and her eyes were not only the color of gold, but had the same metallic sheen. Ringed with tears they reflected the light too perfectly, and in them he saw himself, a grey silhouette against sodium yellow light.
      “You!” she said, her voice a soft, torn soprano. “You’re human!”
      “I’m sorry to have to admit it… but yes. That I am.” He reached out to her, then stopped as she flinched. “My name is Father Bann, Stephen Bann. Did you hurt yourself?”
      “Nowhere you could heal,” she said, and the sorrow in her voice ill became it.
      The awkward silence vanished with the susurrus of the wind and Stephen frowned as the cool air pricked his cheekbones. Reminded abruptly of their vulnerability in the open, he stood and offered her his hands. “We need to leave here, get you someplace warm where you won’t be seen.”
      The woman—angel--nodded wearily and slid her cold hands into his. He was surprised at how little she weighed though he knew he shouldn’t have been. If she wasn't the product of a platonic Heaven she still flew, and even the birds of Earth were hollow-boned.
      The angel shivered when he touched her, and reluctant as he was to let her walk alone Stephen tried to minimize any accidental contact. He coaxed her beneath the oak tree, watching with a kind of quivering interior silence as the moss brushed over the feathered arches; her way of moving them entranced him, as if they were another set of arms, as agile as her first. Each feather seemed as mobile as a finger, flexible and heavy. Were they actually heavy, or was it only an illusion?
      He led her down the ditch and out onto the campus grounds, to his building. He opened the door, turned to warn her but she was already stepping through, her wings tucked tightly to her back. In the cool darkness of the brick classroom, she looked utterly out of place and Stephen hastened to the narrow stairwell. He suppressed the urge to glance over his shoulder to see how she was handling the enclosed space.
      The door to the dormitory upstairs was unlocked, as always. He’d kept the lamp on in his absence but the room was cold.
      “Have a seat. I’ll get things warmed up.”
      Stephen flicked the space heater on, then crouched beside the fire and tossed a few starter logs on the grate. With the iron in hand, he turned on the gas until the kindling caught, then stacked a few larger logs in a cross pattern. The aromatic scent of resin wafted to his nose and the heat dried his face as he worked, long past when the fire actually needed his intervention. At last, he turned.
      He’d almost managed to convince himself he’d been dreaming but she remained undeniably real, somehow more believable sitting on his battered dark green sofa with her knees pressed together and the granny square afghan Tom Vasquez’s mother had given him for Christmas wrapped around her thin shoulders. Her wings rose behind her, catching the firelight in their delicate feathers. Her hair fell in limp waves to her knees, and she was trembling.
      “Lady, how can I help you? Why are you here?” He cleared his throat. “I’m not… accustomed to miracles." And, without knowing why he added it, "You’ll forgive me if I’m coarse?”
      “You cannot help it.” Her voice shook, fragile. “You’re human.”
      Stephen nodded after a moment. “Yes. And you… an angel.”
      Her head drooped. “I was.”
      “How can you be anything else?”
      “I have no halo.”
      “But you still have wings. And God knows you’re not human.” Stephen frowned. “You didn’t intend to come here. Who sent you?”
      She laughed, a sharp bark that sounded far too close to a sob. “Oh… just the Archangel.” And then she began to cry in earnest, not the soft disheartened things on the asphalt of the parking lot, but paroxysms of grief so intense Stephen longed to reach out to her. Instead he stood jerkily and made his way to the kitchen. The cooler air made him twitch as he set a pot to boiling and brought out two mugs. He poured two packets of hot cocoa into them, then the water. A few minutes later he set a tray with both mugs on the coffee table, wary of its one short leg, and offered one to her.
      The angel gathered in a shuddering breath, lifting wet eyes to the mug. “What… what is it?”
      “It’s hot cocoa. It’s soothing, warm. Drink.”
      “We don’t need to drink that often….”
      “Well, you need to drink now. Please, just take it.”
      Rolling her lower lip beneath her teeth, she nodded and wrapped her small hands around the mug. Her first sip appeared to agree with her, and the flicker of a pink tongue-tip appeared over her lip, wiping away the foam.
      Stephen sat with one elbow braced against the coffee table, pressing backward on it to keep it from rocking. He stared resolutely at the fire, listening as her irregular breathing steadied. He closed his eyes. Of all the people in the world, he would have had to be the one to discover an angel, he who had run to the priesthood in defiance of God.
      God, Stephen decided, had a wicked sense of humor.
      “My name is Asrial,” she said.
      He glanced at her face; she was staring at the fire, lashes lowered over glowing eyes. “Asrial,” he repeated. He cleared his throat. “I… hadn’t thought there to be female angels. In… in Heaven.”
      “Why not?” she asked, her voice still brittle. She looked at him, delicate brows arched.
      “There’s no mention of them in the Bible.”
      “The Bible?”
      Stephen did stare at her, then. “The book by which we know God. The one written by the prophets and apostles. You know, the people who actually talked to God and Jesus Christ, and angels.”
      “Oh.” One of Asrial’s thin shoulders lifted in a sort of shrug; her wing moved fluidly in conjunction. “I knew that some of our number had been to Earth, but I didn’t know humans had written about it.”
      “And you know nothing of the Son of God.”
      Her polite gaze continued to rest on him. “He came to men, not to angels. Why would I?”
      “Why indeed,” Stephen managed after a moment of complete shock. He cleared his throat and sought his bearings. “So why did you drop into my backyard, if I may?”
      “I didn’t drop,” Asrial said haughtily, and then hesitated. “I Fell.”
      “Fell? From Heaven?” Stephen sat up, leaving his mug on the table. “You’re not…one of Hell’s, are you?”
      “No!” She cringed. “At least, I don’t think so.”
      “Don’t think so? Don’t you know those things?” He had no idea how to read her body language. Her wings added an element he couldn’t intuit and her face and motions conflicted so utterly he couldn’t tell if she was angry or miserable or confused or contemptuous, or all of them at once.
      “If I would have Fallen to his level, I would be in Hell right now, not on Earth,” Asrial said, her voice growing more certain.
      “So what are you doing here?”
      “I… I don’t know!”
      “Maybe you should start from the beginning, then,” Stephen said. As her mouth tightened and she looked away, he added, “You might as well. I need to know if I’m going to help you at all.”
      “I don’t need—“
      “Don’t you?” he interrupted.
      He could read her face then: crestfallen, with her chin sinking toward her chest. “You are human.”
      “And you’re an angel. We’ve established that much… keep going.” Asrial glanced at him, and Stephen spread his hands. “It’s a joke! Please. Go on.”
      “I made the Archangel angry by suggesting that God had mercy for… for the Great Betrayer.”
      “He does?” Stephen asked, realizing suddenly she could have asked God directly.
      “Oh, He must. I found a place where all the halos of the Fallen ones are still waiting, kept living. Why are they kept, if not against the day they may reclaim them?”
      “Kept… living?”
      “Oh!” She lifted her hands. “You really don’t know anything, do you?”
      “Bear with me, lady. I’m a fallible mortal, you know.”
      She stopped and eyed him and he grinned. Wrinkling her nose, Asrial said, “Halos are… well, a kind of living extension of your soul. They can’t ordinarily exist apart from you.”
      “So you found the repository for the halos of all of Hell’s denizens and decided this meant that God would one day gather them back to His breast,” Stephen said. “And then… you told the Archangel and it upset him. Did you know it would upset him?”
      “Well… I suppose.”
      “Why did you tell him, then?”
      Asrial blinked her great golden eyes: the first time, he realized, that she had. “Because he was talking of coming to Earth to make war on them.”
      Stephen’s hand blindly groped for the mug, dragged it back into reach. He wished there was something stronger in it. “Pardon?”
      "War," she repeated. "The final battle. As was inevitable. Surely even humans know about that?"
      "Not that part," Stephan said. "The 'on Earth' part."
      “Oh!" she said. "The Archangel will not let the Fallen into Heaven to war… and refuses to go to Hell to fight. So it must be on Earth, you see.”
      Dragging his composure back together from its shatter, Stephen said, “So the Archangel was making war plans and you interrupted him with the news that God’s mercy would prevent him from having to tear up the Earth. And then?”
      “And then he struck me and my halo ripped off, and I Fell.” She looked down at her lap where her fingers chafed the mug’s walls.
      “So you didn’t Fall at all… Michael Pushed you,” Stephen said dryly. “Interesting to see that some things are typical to both human and angelic nature.”
      When the silence drew on too long, Stephen looked up and found Asrial staring at him, her mouth ajar. He chuckled sadly and reached up to press it closed, but stopped himself a few inches away. “Ah… and you not expecting that. Perhaps angels and humans have more in common than either of us know.”
      “Pushed,” she whispered. “No… I must have deserved it.”
      “Did you? For pleading that one should forgive God’s enemies? Turn the other cheek? Isn’t God love everlasting? What exactly did you do wrong, Asrial?”
      She bent forward over her mug, one hand stealing from its wall to clasp the edge of the afghan looped beneath her wings and over her shoulders. “I don’t know,” she said, her voice soft, almost inaudible. “But I must have done something. God would not have let it happen had it not been His will.”
      “Then trust in it,” Stephen said, not quite able to believe he was saying it; much less that he was saying it to an angel. He stood, collecting his mug and the tray. “You must be tired. There’s a bed in the next room… you can rest there.”
      “I shouldn’t stay,” she said half-heartedly.
      “And where would you go?” Stephen asked, suddenly tired of watching those feathers rub against one another, the swell and fall of her chest and back, the smell of her, like frankincense. “It’s not close enough to Christmas for me to pass you off as someone dressing in costume… if anyone would even believe your wings were fake. I hate to say it, but you wouldn’t be safe wandering around.”
      “Safe?” Asrial asked. “What does it matter now? And who would hurt me?”
      “It's a different world these days. We're not used to believing anymore, and we hate anything that tells us we might be wrong in our unbelief. Just... trust me on this one.” Stephen stepped back as she rose from the sofa and placed her mug on the tray. “The bed is that way.”
      The angel ducked through the door to his tiny bedroom, the afghan dragging behind her on the floor. He followed her and stood in the door frame, watching her settle on the bed; chest down, wings splayed upward and outward, their long primaries and secondaries drooping over the frame and falling to the floor like soft, shaped silk. He cleared his throat.
      “I’ll be in the front room if you need anything. If I’m not here when you wake up you can assume I’m in school. We’re on exam schedules so I’ll be back around noon.”
      She stared over her shoulder at him. Stephen managed a smile and said, “Sleep well, then.”
      He closed the door. And his eyes. And rubbed his forehead. The lost look on her face clenched a knot in his stomach. He busied himself with cleaning the mugs and the pot he’d used to heat the water, and the sink, and the spoons… and even the window sill above the sink. Outside the stars were still lit.
      It could be worse, Stephen decided as he stretched out on the couch, his feet hanging off the edge and an overstuffed crocheted pillow under his head. She could have been hurt, and what would a doctor have thought of those wings? He found a chuckle somewhere in himself. For the first time in seventeen years, a woman would be waiting for him when he got home, and wasn't that just a joke? A beautiful, terrible one, everything he'd come to expect from life. He reached blindly for the rosary on the table and dragged it close, but only reached the word "grace" before falling asleep.




And the conclusion of Chapter 2. Rosary is tip-if-pleased, but if I get $15 or more, I will put up the first part of Chapter 3 tomorrow... in which you get to meet Hell's home team, including some very famous demons! And discover why those halos are still waiting for them...



Memory

Jul. 26th, 2011 04:47 pm
haikujaguar: From art-marker self-portrait for birthday. ((default))
Mnemosyre
Mnemosyre


I hate readings.

I feel guilt admitting to this, but it's not something I think of in the normal course of my life, given how infrequently I am ambushed by someone with a book wanting to recite bits of it to me. But Readercon, with its back-to-back schedule of solo and group readings, brought it back very strongly to mind. I had never been to a con with so many readings. I'm pretty sure there wasn't an hour that didn't have one. What's more, people attended them, even when they didn't know the author or what was being read, something I observed with incredulity and the rising sense that maybe there was something very wrong with me.

So I sat in on a few group readings, mostly to be there for friends. I brought out my sketchbook and worked, and tried my best to keep what I was hearing straight.

...which is when I realized... that I had trouble keeping what I was hearing straight. Most of the people who read at readings stand up, thank God or you'd never hear them in the back of the room, but they really were reading. Eyes down, page in front of them, very little inflection, rarely loud enough. Even people reading poetry managed to make it so unintelligible that I had to strain to make sense of any of it.

I recently read Nicholas Carr's The Shallows, a brain-shattering book about what the internet is doing to our ability to concentrate... an ability, multiple studies apparently suggest, which is recent, and dates mostly to the technology of... literacy. Solitary reading, it turns out, is a very different activity from the ones human beings evolved to be good at, and the focus and concentration necessary for becoming lost in the written word is a fairly new skill for us to have developed, one that actually rewires our brains to be more capable of focus and concentration the more we do it.

When writing was first introduced, there was a great controversy (not unlike the one we face now about the internet, at that). The fear was that the ability to write would degrade people's ability to remember, because there would be no need to memorize. On the other side of the camp was the argument that writing would free up brainspace once dedicated to remembering (this turns out not to be true: the more we practice remembering things, the better we get at it).

And this war was being fought... by poets. Because at the time, Story was oral, and performed by poets, and had meter and rhyme to facilitate memory. Prose, the poets argued, would be different in kind from poetry and oral Story. The form of it would be shaped by the technology, and it would be changed forever.

...and I believe they were right. I attended several readings at Readercon. I listened to about twenty-five people. And inevitably, most forms of prose really don't sound right when read aloud. They do not lend themselves to voices, to the cadence of vocal communication. They just don't work. The rare exceptions are pieces of prose that are written in a conversational style, usually in first person. And even those are awkward compared to a real oral poetry tradition.

I know this, because I saw exactly one person evoke that ancient lineage. I wasn't even looking up at the front of the room when [profile] csecooney stood up. But within a single sentence, I had forgotten my sketchbook and was staring, enrapt. She had memorized the poem, so she was looking at us. She gesticulated, she emphasized, she rambled and stopped and there was a music there in her voice, a rising and falling melody. She spoke to us, rather than in front of us. She performed. The poetry had meter and it was rhymed (and some of those rhymes frankly unbelievable). But compared to most of the other people I heard, she sparkled. There was no way not to pay attention to her. This was entertainment the way it must have been, to listen to oral storytelling. It was magnificent.

And she was the first and last person to do it that I saw there, at that con. And I can't remember the last time someone did a reading like that, reflecting back on 15-ish years of con attendance and before that, rather significant schooling.

During one of the group readings, I set to work on a piece that had been percolating in mind after reading the book, which had pointed out that Memory was so integral to the art of Story in pre-literate cultures that the Greeks even made Memory the mother of the Muses. Memory, it was thought, was one of the things that makes us most human. Given how much of our memory we have offloaded onto machines, I could not help feeling something for that ancient goddess. What would she think of us now? And if she reflects us, what must she look like, half-torn away, brain bleeding into the digital aether? I wagered she didn't even have an ear left to hear with anymore. So I listened to the pale remnants of a human art form, and I drew the piece I've linked above.

I still don't like readings. Now, at least, I know why.


Stardancer Home.
haikujaguar: From art-marker self-portrait for birthday. ((default))
Even for Florida, this dark cloud was unusually good at glowe... on Twitpic
That Dark Cloud


Word of the Day
moil, v (without object): 1. to work hard; drudge. 2. to whirl or churn ceaselessly; twist; eddy.
v (with object): 3. Archaic. To wet or smear.
n. 4. hard work or drudgery. 5. Confusion, turmoil or trouble. 6. Glassmaking. A superfluous piece of glass formed during blowing and removed in the finishing operation.


Fascinating word... I think I like the final definition the best. Sounds like something you'd title a piece of poetry.

Interview/Review
Kyt Dotson wrote a splendid review of Spots/interview of me for Digital Science Fiction. You can check that out here! Thank you, Kyt, that was wonderful. :)

Daughter at Almost 4 Years
The sandbar we live on down here is very flat and it's either covered in concrete or a wall of solid green, year-round. Most of the change in our scenery happens above our head... in our very tempestuous sky. I have been making a distinct effort lately to teach Daughter to gauge the weather from the sky, because that's not just a practical skill, it's also one of those "know your environment, which can turn dangerous" skills. We get constant severe weather here, and at one point we were the lightning capital of the world (though that might have changed by now, who knows).

So yes. I teach her about clouds, and we watch the sky a lot, and we talk about which clouds make rain, and where the wind comes from, and other such things. This is probably why, Sunday as we started the drive home from my parents' house, she said, "LOOK at that DARK CLOUD."

I looked, and... why yes. Even for Florida that was a tremendously perfect example of a rain cloud (it's that one in the photo, in fact). "Wow," I said. "That really is a dark cloud."

"YES!" she said. "Because it's full of RAIN."

"You're right," I said. "I certainly hope we get home before it starts raining on us."

"That's OKAY, Mommy. We're in the CAR, so we won't get WET."

"Ah," I said, nodding. "You're right."

The light I was at turned green, so I set off. Quiet from the back for a bit. And then...

"Mommy, that dark cloud is FOLLOWING us."

I blinked. Then laughed. "Oh! No, it's not really following us, sweets. It just looks that way because it's so much bigger than us and so far away... that no matter how fast we drive, it's still there. But don't worry. It's not actually following us. And look, the rest of the sky is nice and bright."

"OH," she said. "You're right!" And then, "LOOK, Mommy, a RAINBOW!"

Startled, I said, "Really? Where?"

"Over THERE!" she said. "A WHITE rainbow! Made of clouds!"

I chanced a glimpse while driving and indeed, there was a little smeared arch of cirrus that looked like a wispy rainbow.

"Wow!" I said. "You're right! It DOES look like a rainbow!"

"I know," she said, pleased.

And there, I thought at the next stoplight, bemused, is life in a nutshell. You can look at the dark clouds and decide it's personal, or you can look at a bit of fluff and imagine something nicer, and it's all about the inside of your head and what you choose to focus on.

Creative News/Plans
No real plans at this point. I am pondering something new: livestreaming myself writing the next Three Micahs. The webcaster would be broadcasting my word processor window and you could watch me come up with it from beginning to end, ask me questions while I work. That might be interesting? Or annoying? Or boring! Who knows.

I have been working on... let's see. The cover for the compilation of the Three Micahs columns. I've also started uploading adjusted files to Amazon of the next stories that will probably go free: the new Stormfront is already live and includes an "About" section referring to the other Pelted military SF stories. The "Freedom, Spiced and Drunk" edit just went up, that one links to the sequel "New Stories" and also to my writing page with the chronology for the other Jokka stories. I just need to do "Money for Sorrow, Made Joy" and "Tears" and that will cover my bases.

"Unspeakable" is finally slowing down, with about 4400 downloads in under a week. If even a fifth of those people find the sequel and decide to pay a buck for it, I'll be able to pay for the rest of summer school and the first couple of months of my daughter's extracurriculars for the new school year. Wouldn't that be wonderful? But I will not have any expectations. It is easier that way. The Long Tail, I have discovered, is mostly Long in the time direction of the chart.

Also, I am pondering abandoning Dreamwidth. Following conversations in two places is a lot of mental overhead, and so is correcting typos in both sets of posts. I have a lot of followers over there, but nowhere near as many as I have on LJ, and frankly almost no one every responds to posts there.

Elsewhere (Being Bored is Good Edition)
Bored? That Might be a Good Thing, New Book Suggests. We might need periods of boredom to function properly.
Scott Adams on Creativity. More on the same theme: we need boredom to have the brainspace to come up with new ideas.

Quote of the Day
The outer conditions of a person's life will always be found to reflect their inner beliefs. -James Allen


Stardancer Home.
haikujaguar: From art-marker self-portrait for birthday. ((default))
So I have been remiss in discussing my first Readercon. There are some things percolating about cities and readings and such, which I hope will one day make it out into journal entries... but in the mean-time, I do want to at least post an overview.

General Observation
I've been to a lot of cons, furry, anime and general SF/F... and this was the quietest con I've ever attended. There was no raucous behavior. There were no groups of teens leap-hugging one another. There were no colorful costumes. There were no raised voices, practically. Within an hour the right metaphor struck me: it was as if all the introverts of the other conventions had come together to make their own. Which makes perfect sense because... it was a con about reading. And books. In fact, that was the only thing in the dealer's room: books. It wasn't even called a Dealer's Room, it was called a Bookshop.

So, they weren't kidding. It's a con devoted to books. Believe the literature!

Good Things
• The Green Room was excellently run, and not only had snacks of every kind (from healthy to chocolate), but it also had cough drops and chamomile tea bags... with lemon slices and honey. The thoughtfulness of these things, aimed at people who'd been talking so much they had sore throats, was overwhelming. I had three cups of that chamomile and that alone was responsible for me being able to talk all day and not be a hoarse wreck by midnight.

• My kaffeeklatsch, due to some mix-up on the hotel's part, was hosted in the concierge's suite at the top floor. It was swanky; also huge. The kaffeeklatsch itself was a huge success! Many people showed up, most of whom I'd never gotten a chance to meet. A few strangers showed up too, and they were also good company. We were barely ten minutes into it when it felt like a gathering of old friends, everyone chatting away, eating fine food (some supplied by [personal profile] eseme and some that [profile] genet and I brought along). Outside the kaffeeklatsch, I got a chance to not only meet new people, but run into some old friends also, like [personal profile] shadesong and her family.

• In an act that probably perplexed her entirely, I stopped Ellen Datlow in the hall and thanked her for giving me my best rejection letter story, the one I related in the story launch post for "A Distant Sun." Politely she said she thought she remembered it, though I'm pretty sure she was just being nice to the strange woman with the long hair.

• Speaking of long hair, I got a lot of nice comments about the long hair. This is an unusual experience for me, since 360 days out of 365 I have it up in a bun.

• I made money. Actually, I made more money than I made at the last MFF. o_O This was totally unexpected; I had no table in the Dealer's Room/Bookshop, and of course there was no Art Show. I wasn't intending to make money at all. But those of you who showed up walked away with almost every book I brought up in my suitcase, and [personal profile] jasra made off with some of my art as well!

• I had an impromptu card reading session in a gazebo, which was a lot of fun. It's rare that I get to read the cards in person, it's a very different experience. And everyone who got a reading was willing to let everyone else watch, which made it a whole different experience again from doing it in person one-on-one!


Not So Good Things
I noticed, once again, a bias against religion and political conservatives. It was the kind of off-hand bias that would allow someone to wear a 'Republicans are Evil' t-shirt at the con without being afraid of the attention it would garner... or allow one young woman, appallingly, to say she'd never read the sequel to Ender's Game because Orson Scott Card "had descended into Mormonism," a comment that so totally stunned me that I didn't have a chance to object before the conversation moved on. And the conversation did move on: no one, not a single person in the packed room, called her on this comment, and in fact several people smiled and nodded. This bias was reflected in other off-hand comments I heard throughout the weekend, as well as on the occasional button/shirt.

This is so not okay. But by now I'm so used to being the minority at conventions that I just continued to ignore it as best I could, while reminding myself never to do anything like it to my many friends with whom I disagree.

In addition to the bias against religion and political conservatives, I also found a strange lack of progressiveness... about the book industry. As I went through the weekend, attending panel discussions, readings and random hall conversations, I heard people referring over and over again to books being published by the big publishers, but nothing about independents, nor about alternate publishing. I even ran into several authors who, on hearing I was selling e-books, wanted to know how I was doing and whether they should get into it. The sole mention I heard of any kind of alternative marketing/selling strategy was a single half-hour panel about using podcasting as a way to sell books... during which (no kidding), someone asked if posting a free story on their website would "ruin their career."

Yes, this is my o_O face. I didn't froth, but believe me, it was in me.

Even the Dealer's Room felt strange that way: when I commented in an airport text message to [profile] dracosphynx that I'd finished my library book on the plane and had nothing to read on the way back, his response was "maybe you could find something to read at this Readercon place." But I had an e-book reader, and I don't buy fiction in paper anymore. So despite being surrounded by books, I felt... as if I was in some kind of desert. No matter how interesting everything in the Bookshop was, no matter how interesting the many books being referred to in discussions might be, I knew I would probably never read them because either they weren't available as e-books, or they were available as e-books... for $10+, a fee that even if I could afford for a single e-book, I wouldn't pay.

It sounds ridiculous, but the combination of these two biases was very alienating. So much so that I found myself unloading my frustrations on [personal profile] ceciliatan... so you can imagine, perhaps, the amusing image of a conservative woman, standing stiffly upright in the hotel lobby while commiserating with the editor/owner of SF/F's most famous erotica press. But like me, Tan writes serials and e-books saved her publishing business, so we share a parallel universe. (And also, I like her writing!)

I remember, ten years ago, when I was new and shiny in this business and desperate to become one of the vaunted pros, a Real Published Author on the shelf of one of the many bookstores that used to exist back before their consolidation and recent collapse. I heard about Readercon then, and I absolutely salivated at the idea of going to it, hobnobbing with the important people, maybe having some of their shine rub off on me... maybe becoming one of them, one day. Ten years later I have finally attended and... something has happened in the intervening time. My priorities, my goals... something—maybe everything—has changed. I felt like I was visiting some other world, one I couldn't quite connect with. It was... very strange.

I have always gone to cons hoping to find a home. I am not enough of a gamer/media fan for the gaming cons. I am not enough into anime for the anime conventions. I am not a big enough costumer for those communities, and not deep enough a furry for the furry cons. I had expected that a con devoted to readers would at last feel like the homecoming I have been seeking... but while I think Readercon is a magnificent con for its intended audience, I have discovered I am not that audience.

But this I count as useful knowledge. And also, as Marketer Jaguar would be quick to remind Artist, cons are not necessarily about me. They're about connecting with people who enjoy my work. Whether or not I'm the audience, if I can find some segment of the audience there, I have reasons to be glad.


My Best Readercon Anecdote
And to end on a high note: with many thanks to the Programming committee, I was given a half-hour slot to do a solo reading from my works. As I expected, it was mostly attended by people I know, but I did have four strangers show up just to see what I was about. I offered everyone bookmarks, made note of the new people's names, thanked everyone for coming, etc.

From the stuff I brought, I read three pieces: one of the Admonishments (the only humorous one, "Vanity,"), the beginning of Black Blossom, and one episode of Spots, and before each explained a bit of what they were and how people could find them. I also explained very briefly the payment model for my web serials.

So, I read the stories, showed off the art and books and chatted with people. The allotted half hour went by quickly. I thought it went okay.

...within an hour, my phone chirped. When I checked it, I discovered one of those strangers had sent me a donation from the Spots web page.

And that... that was like my reaction to the entire weekend, wrapped up in a single incident, and I laughed and laughed when I saw it. And some part of me whispered, fierce, "And that is how you roll." And indeed, I think it is. Rar!


So there you have it. My first Readercon, and probably my last for a while.


Stardancer Home.
haikujaguar: From art-marker self-portrait for birthday. ((default))
"You are consulting the tool of the Firefox?" the Calligrapher asks.

"Someone has sent me money this week for your story," I say. "That means I should write something about your culture. But my mind, osulkedi, is a blank."

"If that is so," the Calligrapher says, "perhaps we should speak of something."

Uh-oh. "Of course," I say. "What's on your mind?"

He has drawn away from his desk so he can sit with me at his table, the same one where he has taken tea with the Physician. I am a little unnerved at his focused attention; usually when we talk he's at work at something, and that is how I know it's a casual discussion. This then, is very much not a casual discussion.

"We must speak of the caste system," the Calligrapher says, meeting my eyes, "for I have the notion that your audience believes it to be a matter of privilege, and that we accord those above us as better, intrinsically, than the rest of us."

"I... don't know that they do that," I begin.

"And yet, there is some sense I have that they do," the Calligrapher says; remarkably, for he is not one for pressing a point. "You have some history of those born to noble rank as somehow more deserving of everything than others, yes? Even in your realm, those with power are considered privileged and somehow better than others."

"Maybe," I say—

"—it must be so," he says, "or there would not be such resentment of them."

"There is a confusion," I say finally. "About such things, and people in power. And... suspicion. And yes, resentment. And maybe fear as well."

"This is a thing that must not be applied to us," the Calligrapher says sternly, and I am reminded that he was someone's father. I can imagine him speaking in just such a tone to her. "For caste has nothing to do with privilege, or even inherent worth."

"So what does it have to do with?" I ask.

"Responsibility," the Calligrapher says. "Indeed, that is the word from which hhaza, "caste-rank," is derived from. The higher your rank, aunerai, the more people you are responsible for. It is that simple. That is how a Public Servant is higher in caste than a Merchant, for that our work affects more people, and higher again than a Servant, because their service is personal and affects only one person, or a household, where mine might affect an entire district." He lifts a finger. "But the Servant's service is no less important because of the scope of their work. To undertake the welfare of a single person is as difficult a service as to offer the same to hundreds. Intimacy brings its own challenges."

"So you honestly don't think of the Nobles and Regals as better than a farmer," I say.

"Of course not," the Calligrapher says. "Without the farmer, there is no food, yes? But we respect those above the Wall of Birth because they undertake a very difficult task on our behalf, and they do so with grace and a great attention to detail. We love our lords, aunerai, because they love us. We are beholden to each other. Do you not understand such a relationship?"

"No," I say. "We don't do fealty here anymore."

"Then you are the lesser for it," he says.

"So hhaza is... really about who has more responsibility, not who has more privilege," I say.

"Of course," the Calligrapher says. "Responsibility is sacred. Or perhaps... that is the wrong nuance for the word. Stewardship? Care? Maintenance? It is all those things. It is the out-breath of the universe: ahha. Responsibility."

"You're kidding," I say. "Aha?"

"Ahha," he corrects. "It is the guttural "h," aunerai, not the soft one. Yes. That is the word, and it is a sacred word. As sometimes I see your folk sitting in meditation, breathing out the sound of the universe? That is what we say when we do the same. A...hhhha. This is what maintains the world. This is what maintains everything else."

"We would say that was love," I say. "Or peace."

"Then you are wrong," the Calligrapher says. "For love and peace do not exist without maintenance, without stewardship... without responsibility."

"A-hha," I murmur.

"Yes," he says. "Just so. From that all things proceed. From that we have built our society. Responsibility."


Stardancer Home.
haikujaguar: From art-marker self-portrait for birthday. ((default))
I note that since "Unspeakable" went free a few days ago, it's been downloaded over 3200 times. It remains in the top 100 free downloads on the entire site, and is in the top 10 in fantasy. I find this remarkable! This is the first time I've managed to get something free onto Amazon and the download rate is blowing everything else out of the water; it bypassed Smashwords in the first 24 hours, though the story had been up on Smashwords for ten months. I suspect that within the next day, it will also do the same on B&N, where the five free stories I've had there for half a year have only totaled up 4000ish downloads... in total. That's for five stories, not one. And over half a year, not half a week.

There's no avoiding Amazon if you're in the e-book business.

Now, the big question, of whether those free downloads will translate into sales... I don't know. I rushed the sequel up onto Amazon a day and a half ago, and modified Unspeakable's product description to refer to it. I got a rash of sales at week's end after my story launch post here, about what I expected. But since then, a few more sales have trickled in, more than I expected. If they continue, then the probability that they were converted from the free download will be higher.

Today, I tried something new and modified the actual "Unspeakable" file to include a new section at the end about the Jokka, referring to my writing page where the other stories are listed chronologically, and linking directly to "Unknowable" on the kindle store. That should process within a day or two. I'm curious to see what will happen then.

I also think I should probably prepare for when the Amazon Free Fairy discovers my other free stories. If I set them up now, the data will be better once they get tapped with the magic wand. Hopefully by then I'll have a better idea whether having freebies on Amazon is worth the sales losses. It's tempting to assume so, but my anecdotal data indicates that a lot of people just download every free thing they can find, much more than they can or want to read. (Given that, I'm grateful that the first of my stories to go free is also the one that got all the fancy awards/recognition.)

The experiment continues!


Stardancer Home.
haikujaguar: From art-marker self-portrait for birthday. ((default))
Words of the Week
Today, in keeping with the plan I haven't had time to implement until now, instead of a word of the day I challenge you all to come up with a micro-story using the words of the week: stanch, quiddity and mithridate. Go for it!

The Awesome Party
...is still going strong at 460 comments, with people doubling back to meet and greet the new people. If you haven't already participated, please do! If we keep reloading, we'll keep seeing each other's comments, and the fun will continue! :)

Daughter at Almost 4 Years
Yesterday I was being the tickle monster and Daddy was being the protector-from-the-tickle-monster. After she ran howling/giggling from me for the third time, Daddy told her she should tickle the monster back. She slid out of his lap and took one step toward me; I raised my hands and wiggled my fingers and she squealed and leaped back into his arms.

"Go on," he said. "You have to be brave!"

Whereupon she told him to be brave, she needed a costume. I wanted to hear how she wanted to dress up in order to vanquish the evil tickle-monster, expecting... I don't know. A hero? A knight? Batman?

But she ran past me, exclaiming, "I need my PRINCESS CAPE!"

Yes, indeed. My daughter lives in a universe where princesses are exemplars of courage and monster-slaying. I wonder where she ever got that idea. -_-

Creative News/Plans
I posted Rosary one day early, because... well, I wanted to? I don't know. Saturdays feel so quiet.

"Unspeakable" is now at #3 on the Top Free Fantasy Downloads, and up in the top 40 of genre downloads. We're only four ranks away from the top 100 of all free downloads as well! I really think your reviews are helping! So thank you. :) (Eagle-eyed marketers will note that I amended the description to refer to the sequel. We'll see if that has any results.)

Elsewhere (Brain Wiring Edition)
Your Brain on Androids. Science shows that the uncanny valley phenomenon is reflected in the brain. Fascinating!
Whining is the Worst Sound in the World. Science confirms what we all suspected.

Quote of the Day
One of the secrets of a long and fruitful life is to forgive everybody everything before you go to bed. -Ann Landers


Stardancer Home.
haikujaguar: From art-marker self-portrait for birthday. ((default))

Smashwords | Amazon US | Amazon UK


Oh yes indeed, I wrote a sequel to "Unspeakable" long ago, and it has been languishing on my computer since for want of a venue that would buy it. That it never found that venue bothered me a great deal, because there was a very special person in it, with a very special viewpoint, and I grieved that she never had the chance to speak.

But now she does.
     I had forgotten that anadi are most active after nightfall—I never had regular congress with them. Not counting my illicit affair, of course. When I arrived at the edge of the pen I could see them moving and they glimmered, precious, past the veil of night: silver gleam in their eyes, pale electrum glow over their softly scaled bodies.
     Oh, they were beautiful. I dropped my trembling head into my arms, resting it against the topmost bar of the pen.
     "You came back."
     I looked up and found an exquisite sliver of star and shadow standing in front of me, and I felt a quiver of excitement and revulsion. Bad enough to have been perverted enough to love Ekkuli, a neuter, rather than another emodo like myself or Nashada. But to feel this twinge for an anadi? Was I hopelessly corrupted?
     "You have that look," she continued in a voice clear and light, like pale tea. "I don't see it often. Why are you here, if we upset you so?"
     "Why are you talking to me?" I managed hoarsely. "What good will it do?"
     "I don't know," she said. "But no one talks to me, and I miss that."
     "You were something else before you Turned?"
     She blinked a few times, lashes glowing. "No. I have always been anadi. That doesn't mean I was born without a mind to enjoy conversation." She ran her fingers along my arm, as if checking me for warmth and life. "Sometimes I think other Jokka turn from the anadi before we lose our minds. They don't want to invest their hearts in someone who will not remember them in ten years, twenty. I suppose I understand."
     "But it upsets you," I said.
     "Of course," she replied without rancor. "Wouldn't it upset you?"
     "I never think of such things," I said, which was the absolute truth. It's why I needed Ekkuli so badly.
     "How nice to never need to," she said, withdrawing her hand.
     And I—I captured it and didn't remember deciding to do so. "Wait. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to be thoughtless."
     "I'm used to it," she said with the flick of a tail that is the most tired of shrugs among the Jokka. "You too will pass through my life, like all the others."

That's right: we finally get to talk to an anadi who is no rebel like Kediil, no firebrand like Jekun, no revolutionary like Dlane. Here is an anadi with a mind... but who understands why anadi have the lot they do, and blames no one for it.

There is only one piece of art directly related to this story. And here it is.

The Jeweler's Apprentice
The Jeweler's Apprentice


If you have been looking for the final perspective of females in this setting, here it is at last. And you get to see how Tañel, Ekkuli and Nashada are getting along in their new city! So if you want to return to old friends and maybe taste a little of the bittersweetness, and meet a remarkable new female, this is your story. Enjoy it. :)

You can pick up my other stories in print and in e-book form, including many free and 99-cent nibbles, at Smashwords and Amazon. And as always, if you like what you read, please drop back by and give it a few stars or a review. Your opinions help other readers make their purchasing decisions! Help an independent author out. :)


Stardancer Home.
haikujaguar: From art-marker self-portrait for birthday. ((default))
Word of the Day
stanch, tr. v. 1. To stop the flowing of; to check in its course; also, to stop the flowing of blood from; as, "to stanch a wound."
From Old French estancher, "to stop a liquid from flowing." And chosen today because I see a lot of confusion between it and "staunch," (firm or steadfast in principle, loyalty, etc).

Daughter at Almost 4 Years
We do a lot of pretending, naturally, and I sometimes like to tease her about one object being another even though it's obviously not a good candidate for that particular imagining. I did this the other day when she ambushed me in the bathroom with a little plastic ball.

"Look, MOMMY, a ball!" she said, presenting it to me.

"That's not a ball," I said. "That's a cow."

"That's NOT a COW!" she said, laughing. "It's a BALL."

"Well, I'm going to say it's a cow," I said.

"But it's NOT," she said. "It doesn't make cow NOISES."

"It doesn't?" I asked.

"No," she said, "It makes BALL noises. Like this." She opened her hand and we both watched the ball drop to the ground. After it hit the floor with a thump, she said, triumphantly, "See? BALL noise."

I laughed. "Yes! Yes, I do see!"

Moo MiniCards
I have a referrer code for Moo that gives you 10% off your first order. I link this not just because I get a discount off my next order for referrals, but because their products are so good. And they're magnetic, somehow. I had business cards for many years, upon which no one remarked despite the creative and colorful designs I made. The minicards I got from Moo inevitably incite some delighted comment. I've had people ask me if they could take more than one of them, even.

So, if you want the magnetic for yourself, there's a 10% off link. The minicards are on sale right now, 100 for $14 US, and you can put up to 100 separate designs on them (!). Which, for an artist like me, is candy. Also, their card-creation interface is absolutely amazing, one truly superlative piece of user-interface coding.

Creative News/Plans
Today I have some painting to do. I have not yet received enough to write an encyclopedia entry this week, so Friday will be quiet. Saturday, Rosary.

"Unspeakable" has climbed back up to #10 on the top free fantasy downloads list and has now handily outstripped all the downloads it's had on Smashwords. I have been rushing the sequel "Unknowable" through the works; it's already on Smashwords and it looks like it's just gotten up on Amazon, so I should have a "talk all about it" post for it soon.

Elsewhere (Price of Doing Business Edition)
Freelance Hourly Rates. A really in-depth calculator that takes your numbers and spits out the number you should be charging.
Paypal Calculator. So you can see how much money Paypal extracts from people like me for processing your transactions.

Quote of the Day
Characterization is an accident that flows out of action and dialogue. -Jack Woodford


Stardancer Home.
haikujaguar: From art-marker self-portrait for birthday. ((default))
Single morning glory on a garden fence. on Twitpic


Word of the Day
quiddity, n. 1. The essence, nature or distinctive peculiarity of a thing. 2. A hairsplitting distinction; a trifling point; a quibble. 3. An eccentricity; an odd feature.
Such a delightful word! I want to know everyone's quiddity now. From "scholastic Medieval Latin term quidditas, "essence", from quid, "what"." (I somehow imagine it being more like 'What??').

eBook Amusement
Amazon's crawler finally found the Smashwords price for "Unspeakable" (free) and re-set the price of the kindle edition... which is how within half a day, the downloads on that story went from none to almost 400, pushing it briefly to #8 on the Top Fantasy Downloads list (it is now #18). This is particularly amusing because the story's been downloaded about 490 times from Smashwords... over the course of ten months. If I'm watching the numbers right, Amazon will hit that number in less than 24 hours.

And that is why Amazon is still the heavy-hitter.

My only regret is that there are seven reviews of that story on Smashwords, where they will never be seen, and only one on Amazon. If I could pick up those reviews and transplant them, oh, I so would!

Anyway, I've prepped the sequel to "Unspeakable" and should have it ready next week, in case any of those downloads read the story, like it, and want more. And also for you patient fans who have been waiting since 2003 to find out what happens to Tañel, Nashada and Ekkuli!

Daughter at Almost 4 Years
...often prefers talking to stuffed animals to me, which is something we often do in the car. The other day, we were having a conversation with Red-Eyed Tree Frog, in which Child was asking him to pick his favorite of her other two animal friends, Rabbit or Tiger. Red-Eyed Tree Frog (never just "Frog," mind you, always the entire title) wanted to pick Child instead as his favorite, because he preferred her to the animals. Child insisted this was not the rule, and that he couldn't pick her because she was a LITTLE GIRL, not an ANIMAL, and that he would have to choose one of the animals.

Red-Eyed Tree Frog insisted on preferring her. This went on, back and forth, for several exchanges, until at last Child exclaimed:

"I CAN'T change the the PROBLEM, and I CAN'T change the WORLD. That's how it IS. So you must pick an animal. Because THAT'S how it IS."

...

Sadly, readers... I started laughing. I suppose other parents might have been discouraged or distressed at their child's attempt to teach a stuffed animal that life isn't always fair and rules don't always make sense. But life isn't and rules don't always, so I am okay with it. I will teach her other ways to change the world. Or, more likely, show her.

Creative News/Plans
I have not hit my mini-cap for posting the Encyclopedia entry on Friday, though I am delighted at the conversations that have erupted on yesterday's Black Blossom. My only other plans for this week are to post Rosary and to work on these card paintings.

This reminds me: I am open for five-card readings still, if anyone would like one.

Final thought: I am letting jokka.org lapse, which means all the stuff there will be going away. Don't be surprised if it vanishes, thus. :)

Elsewhere (New Art Nouveau Edition)
Game Nouveau. Elf Girl, twenty-siders, and Art Nouveau. Awesome.
Read. Same girl, same style: mom and child reading book from which fairies and dragons are erupting! I wish I could send this one to my librarian friends.

Quote of the Day
If your ship doesn't come in, swim out to it. -Jonathan Winters


Stardancer Home.
haikujaguar: From art-marker self-portrait for birthday. ((default))
Valorene the Dragon
Arrrrrrrrrt


There be comics, humor, girls in armor, goddesses, dragons... go forth and enjoy!

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M.C.A. Hogarth

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My life: writing, art, parenthood, running, health, humor and language and culture; ethics and society and personal musing.

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