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Meanderings from the City of the Red Castle
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6th-Jul-2016 10:41 pm - Last week...
Baby
So; this is how the week has been:

Saturday:

- I turn 40. Celebrating with family is put off until next day because Mom is sick, and we all suspect that won't be long enough.

Sunday:
- Nice church service. Family celebration put off again until Tuesday. Not surprising. Alex is a bit fussy from a long-running running nose, and Wilma asks a couple of times if he feels warm to me, and he doesn't, any more than usual, I think.

Monday:
- First day at my new job, a few weeks' term position for a company that makes pharmaceuticals. ("All" I'm doing is sorting and documenting and other paperwork tasks). This day is pretty much all training meetings: First an intro to the company and its vision, then health and safety, then Good Manufacturing Practices (And why they exist; the long history of how and why the regulations for pharmaceuticals exist, including everything from snake oil up to the person who tainted Tylenol on store shelves). Then good documentation practices, the only part directly relevant to me, I hope, health and safety being the sort of thing you need to know but where you don't want to have to use the knowledge.
- I get home to learn Alex has been feverish, very fussy and altogether not well. He throws up a bit in the evening before supper.
- Regardless, I get to go out and do the planned birthday thing with some friends, which is essentially go to Baked Expectations for dessert. I bypass my entire general favourite category of dessert (cheesecake!) of which they have many excellent ones, in favour of a hazelnut meringue torte. The hazelnut meringue part is amazing. The hazelnut buttercream filling is excellent but starts feeling very heavy at the end. I give it 8/10, would order again, but maybe to split a piece with someone.

Monday Night/Tuesday Morning:
- Alex is very fussy and ends up sleeping with me in bed from midnight or so on. Around 3, he starts wriggling and kicking and being very awake, so I move him from where he's kicking Colin to the other side of me (Also so he can try to nurse a new side) ... and he promptly throws up instead. Clean up, temperature taking, anti-fever meds, and a long slog to convince him to go back to sleep ensue. He falls asleep after 4:30, but before 5.
- Fever was 103.1, enough we know he's going to the doctor in the morning, not enough to run him to Emergency on the spot.

Tuesday:
- Work starts giving me real work. Yay! Also, there's a lot of what's effectively self-directed on computer training to do. I am closer to zombie-like than I would like to be on my second day, but it seems alright.
- Colin takes Alex to the doctor around lunch; the doctor sends him for blood tests and asks for a urine sample to be dropped off next day. I contemplate the logistics of getting such a sample from a 15 month old; my best suggestions is tell him we're going to give him a bath, and stand him naked in the bathtub for about 30 seconds (water in tub optional).
- Later, the doctor calls back, and says that the fever (103.6) plus the elevated white blood cell count means Alex should be seen by emergency. Which Colin has to do, me being at work at the time.
- At least this means I can go for my usual run with Joseph... although Joseph does in fact make this a bit less fun when he both tries to run down to the river in the park without me, AND has a minor accident (The kind that means he needs to change his pants, not the kind that means he's hurt or upset). While the fire pit near the river is a frequents spot for some of the transitory and homeless populations and that meant that this time he was being watched before I got there, "Down to the river" is really a place I do NOT want a 4-year-old with a tendency to run off to ever get the idea it's safe or permissible to go alone.
- Colin and Alex stay at the hospital until past 1 AM. this at least means I get 4 hours of unbroken sleep first, before they get home and I nurse and settle the baby in bed.
- Alex, alas, had been catheterized and given a battery of tests (as Colin put, it, probably the worst day of his life to date) while they tried to find out what was wrong. They eliminated many possibilities but didn't yet have a concrete diagnosis; some tests take longer to resolve. They're expected back the next day.

Wednesday:
- More work. I'm more awake and getting the hang of the general idea, though there are a lot of things about how a typical day will go that aren't gelled yet. I also chose an earlier start (eek) and end time, because the earlier end time works better for seeing the boys.
- Colin takes Alex back to the hospital. More tests, more items eliminated. Alex is home before I am.
- Alex seems on an upswing; lower fever, and some cheerful play. Right up until bedtime, when he gets warm, gets fussy, and is up late. And up a LOT. Basically it feels like a reoccurrance of the worst of things, though he does not, in fact, throw up in the bed this time.

Thursday:
- Would have been an employee appreciation day, over at Investors Group Field (The football stadium), except I call in "Baby sick". The manager's remark was, "If you're going to miss a day, this is the day to miss."
- This means when the doctor calls and says Alex has signs of bacteria in his blood, and we should go to the hospital, it's my turn.
- The good news is, this also means they can start giving in an antibiotic because they know antibiotics as a genre are the thing to do. Details about whether the antibiotic is a resistant strain left as guesswork. Less good; the IV comes loose in the last few moments (while flushing out) so it can't stay in to the next day. Which means more needles for the repeat dose, hurrah.
- Alex seems to start feeling better, but also he and I get a nap in the afternoon. His fever by nightfall is borderline maybe-still-there maybe-not.
- and as a minor insult-to-injury, my brother has been sick a couple of days by this time, so even if we'd wanted to push Alex, we couldn't do the family gathering.

Friday:
- Canada Day!
- Starts off with ANOTHER trip to the hospital and another shot of antibiotic. On the plus side, his fever seems to be gone at last, and this was more like a routine doctor's visit, even if it happens in the emergency ward. And the IV stayed in.
- Taking Joseph on his usual run is not nearly so usual, as it weaves us in and out of the Osborne Canada Day stuff. He really doesn't like the crowds but did seem to like his ice cream sandwich. He tried some bouncy castle type stuff (Even said an explicit yes to trying one. Explicit yesses are less than 3 weeks old at this point and usually meant), but was less than wholly delighted after all.
- the fireworks go off shortly after Alex woke and fussed anyhow, so he fell asleep not long after they ceased without being overly troubled.

Saturday:
- the LAST shot. The last hospital visit. We go home with a prescription for more antibiotics. (And they call to confirm Sunday that it's not going to be resistant to the change in medication.)
- I get to do a get-together with my brother and some friends for my birthday. Not quite the long since cancelled family gathering but great anyhow. Alas, the Indian place we wanted to go for dinner was closed for some event (My first thought seeing the saris through the window was a wedding but it could have been any kind of banquet) so we had to make do with good burgers. Nice but not the same...



This week, incidentally, is no better for busy-ness, even if it's much more cheerful and much less fretful - work is settling in nicely, and the real project is starting to take over, but also, it's Folk Fest time. I was on shift at the fest today, I'll be at work tomorrow, and on shift volunteering again on Friday at the crack of seven AM.

This will be the first time EVER I have been working but not had the opportunity to take the Monday off.

Everything is crossposted to DW and LJ until further notice. Post comments here or there. (Comments at DW: comment count unavailable)
Innocent
The other day I got a call from Conner Cochran of Conlan Press, mentioning that I had won his monthly draw from all the fans who were at the Last Unicorn tour; any one item from the tour page including expensive prints, etc.

Some of the stuff is really pretty, as I recall from buying during the tour.

I said no thanks. And that was that.

It's notable that he basically said Ok and that he'd draw another name until someone said yes. Notable because it means he gets a lot of people saying No, with or without thanks.

An honest business doesn't get a lot of people who went out of their way to get to a special event, purchased stuff there, and squeed all over a longtime favourite author, to later end up turning down lovely and sometimes fairly costly free stuff.

I wish I'd known about just how skeevy his operation was then; it's soured an event I quite enjoyed at the time, and a meeting with Beagle that I felt was nice.

Some people said they found the way Cochran pushed himself forward creepy and felt like Beagle was squished a bit out of his own event. I have to say I was not one of them.

I was clueless. I thought it was the natural way things fall in the teamwork of a born salesman and an introvert, and Cochran didn't give me quite the crawly feeling some aggressive salespeople do. I could see myself and someone with a bit of showmanship striking a similar balance. Beagle was charming and erudite and talked to fans with some pleasure.

I had no idea Beagle was basically being pushed to exhaustion, all the money from the lovely things there filtered away from him and into Cochran's pocket, and that anyone Beagle tried to talk to alone would get Cochran telling them how old and confused he was -- including cutting Beagle off from his own family.

That Cochran, after getting Beagle out from under a predatory contract, turned around and preyed on him all over again.

I had no idea, since I wasn't planning to buy anything that wasn't on the table at the time, that many, if not all, of the people who did sign up to pre-pay for special packages have never received them, that Cochran keeps promising late and later dates. Up to 12 years. (I did sign up to be notified when the tour book comes out, but wasn't going to pre-pay.)

I did find it unfortunate that the e-mail I sent requesting a copy of the photo taken with me and Beagle never got a reply, but I assumed it was because the tour was busy.

Not until the lawsuit against Cochran and Conlan Press was filed last year, alleging fraud and elder abuse.

It's soured me also on some of the stuff I bought there - not that I would lose one word of the books, and the art is lovely. But now I know Beagle, who was right in front of me, never saw a dime. I'd almost like to pay again, cash straight into his hand - and my only hesitation would be the awkwardness of it. (I wonder if the artists get their payments on time, or demand payment upfront before releasing stock? I hope so, but I have no idea. Fans Against Fraud has a reference to one of the artists not having been paid in full, but it's not one of the ones whose work I paid for.)

This isn't hearsay:

Beagle's legal Complaint

Another legal complaint, from a company that invested in the tour.

Fans Against Fraud (Collects a LOT of pull quotes. gets repetitive, but lays it all out.)

________________


One of the things I got, and it wasn't purchased but won, was a shirt that reads "Damn you, Peter S. Beagle, it's all your fault". It's meant to be referring to the Last Unicorn, and the fact that she's supposedly the first known reference to a female unicorn and unicorns as a feminine thing.

It feels a bit sour now, and I can't wear it.

I have considered marking it with editor's corrections in some form, some red pen to make it better. (The only one I am completely certain about, though, is to strike "damn" and put in "Thank".)

Even then, though, I'm still not positive I could wear it in comfort, and not ever in front of Beagle.

I still like my unicorn wand. I just really wish I knew for sure that THAT artist got her payment.

Everything is crossposted to DW and LJ until further notice. Post comments here or there. (Comments at DW: comment count unavailable)
24th-May-2016 02:01 am(no subject)
Labyrinth
I talked about this on facebook, but I have longer thoughts, too.

Joseph and I go for walks after school most days, and sometimes on other days (like Sunday). Well, as I joke, they are more like "runs"; he will run whenever there are cars moving on the street, as if he's trying to keep up with them -- and a bit extra for things like buses or motorcycles or oddities. I usually jog as much as I'm willing, so it goes in bursts of speed-up and slow-down as the waves of traffic pass.

I also let him pick the route *most* of the time, although I may put my foot down on going home once we've been at it a while. My focus has been on teaching him street crossing, reminding him to look for cars, and to wait for lights. I sometimes make him go my chosen way, or make a stop, partly to train him for when I really need him to go with me in a particular direction (like, again, Sunday). But mostly he has his little routes; they almost all start almost always up the alley the same way, down the first street the same way. It varies afterwards, but I can make some pretty good guesses where we're going, and it loops back on itself; we sometimes go right past home, and sometimes come pretty close. He tends to stick to major streets for much of it, because more cars.

He's been, I think, also using it to get a mental map of the area and how it all links up. Some of the repetition is autistic routine, or bits he particularly enjoys (We often make extra repeats of ramps), and some is testing his map, especially when he unexpectedly varies his path.

I kind of enjoy the routine, even if I often come out of one tired and footsore. It's also pretty good exercise, trying to cooperate with a 4 year old's energy level.

I feel even more glad he mostly chooses the routes, and that this means I know his most likely choices.

This is what I posted on Facebook:

Anyone who also has Colin on their news feed knows Joseph ran out of the house earlier today. He was found by a young woman who took his hand and tried to get him to lead her home. He led her instead on one of his walking routes (exactly the wrong way from home, though it would have looped back eventually.) Colin, at home, called the cops while one of the people I (out searching) asked flagged down a pair of paramedics on bicycles, who found her and then let m know she was bringing him my way (meanwhile the police Colin called also ended up intercepting her and brought her and Joseph to me and then me and Joseph safe home.)

We owe thanks to so many people; the woman who took his hand and looked for where he belonged and who, most of all, meant he was travelling safely and not running into traffic, the people who talked to me at River and Osborne who loaned me cell phones (my phone? Are you kidding? I left the house without putting on shoes. Granted, if such an awful thing happens again, I'm taking the phone if I can, but still screw the shoes.) and/or walked/biked the neighbourhood to search, the woman who flagged the paramedics while my panicked mind was still thinking, "but that's the wrong emergency services", the paramedics and police themselves. Even the one person I talked to who remembered a blond boy with a woman going by.

I'm still shaken, though.


It's so easy to second-guess everything.

This has happened now two and a half times for real, and a couple of other close calls. (The half is when he made his escape after leaving the car, not out of the house). The other two involved us being close behind, even in sight, so not quite the same as not being sure exactly how long, how far.

We have a latch on the door to the back hall but we know he figured out what to climb onto to reach it. Should we have moved that thing, so he at least needed to drag a chair over? We have a different fastener on the outside door we know he CAN get at, again with something to climb onto, but again slows him and causes trouble. We even have a windchime set so that opening the door will make it ring, and it's audible on both floors, though probably not in the bathroom with the fan or shower on.

I was upstairs in the shower. Well, except after I finished the shower I sat upstairs alone for a long time, just reading a book. And I mean half an hour or more. (Colin was downstairs, and could speak to his own reasons for not catching on; I will say that while they weren't any better than mine, they weren't worse, either.) I went downstairs, past Colin and into the kitchen, thinking we were overdue to deal with lunch; and saw the door. I don't remember what I said, but enough to get him up and moving, and then I was off, shoeless and purseless, down the alley as I was.

Colin was a bit more active than I make it sound; he made sure Alex was safe, checked Joseph's route the opposite way, and the playground, then sat down at home to call the police and mind Alex (and the phone). I found most of this out afterwards, when I borrowed the phones, or even after I got home.

Do we need to have a more orderly plan in place? More than just "Next time I bring my cell"? Colin did exactly the right thing. I was keeping it together in most ways until Joseph was safe (I had a really obvious increase in panic and stress symptoms once I was told he was found, and more once I had him, but I was aware even as I was managing to think out plans while I walked that I wasn't thinking entirely clearly.)

Had I come downstairs sooner, would I have seen Joseph while he was still in the house? He starts working on getting outside when he's bored with indoor stuff; I could have started an activity with him. We need to do more of that; more things that aren't default habits. Might I have at least arrived soon enough to nab him in the first block? Did I hear a chime and assume Colin was in control? I don't remember doing so, so probably not, but the other escape out of the house happened when I heard the chime but had thought Colin (who was working on renos) was doing work that involved going outside as well as into and out of the basement.

There's the things I have done lackadaisically, like teaching Joseph to say his name (Which he can do -- but the officer said he never got a peep out of him, and the only thing Joseph said to me in the police car on the way home was "octagon stop sign" when we reached an intersection.) I've talked about making him an "all about me" book to teach him rote answers to "what's your name?" and "where do you live?" but haven't made it.

I keep wondering if we should get him some jewellery that has his name and address, but teaching him to wear it, all the time, would be some doing; he doesn't like wristbands, and he's very good at figuring out fasteners (see again: everything we've done to our doors to slow him down)

I've also wondered about preemptively flyering the neighbourhood with his picture and home address and an explanation that he's a flight risk with poor verbal skills. The houses and apartments and condos, probably not; not only would it be a dauntingly huge undertaking, but it carries a lot of OTHER issues. But maybe the businesses, at least the ones that have a view out the window? I keep thinking this is a bad idea, but is it a worse idea than not doing it, if he vanishes again? And yet again, most of my samaritans were just people shopping or going about their day, although the woman who flagged the paramedics is one of the people who runs a street kiosk.

We're planning on building a fence around the yards this summer; that was part of the plan already.

The other bit I posted on facebook:
And for a super-fun follow-up: we were at a party at the house of one of Colin's old friends this afternoon, in their back yard. We'd figured out how to keep him from opening the gate right away. Then he followed the other kids inside once ... and inside, went instead to the front door, opened it and was off down the street. In Fort Richmond, which he doesn't know and where we would have no idea where to look after 5 minutes. One of the other parents caught on and chased him down, so he was brought back quickly (he leaves doors open behind him), but we had to spend half of the rest of the party minding all possible exits. It's that fast.

Everything is crossposted to DW and LJ until further notice. Post comments here or there. (Comments at DW: comment count unavailable)
7th-May-2016 09:39 pm - A No-Pressure Club : First meeting
Innocent
So I had this idea a while back, partly from reading Felicia Day's memoir. There's a stretch of time when she's in a sort of support group for artistic endeavours, and everyone else seems to be taking active steps to assure their goals, while she... is playing World of Warcraft or making schedules. Well, until eventually she pretty much tortures herself into writing the first script for the Guild.

And I thought - I've been wanting to do an in person writing group for a while. BUt I don't know many fellow writers in Winnipeg, and of the ones I do know, many of them write slowly, piecemeal, or do NaNoWriMo (And maybe the Camp) but not much else. And I thought, I'd love to see some of these people more, but I'd hate for the seeing of them to become a source of stress and pressure. Where and when Felicia was in her life, she really had both no excuse and need for a really hard push. But I'm looking at new moms, divorcees, anxiety disorders, depression, huge workloads...

So I sent this e-mail to some people (And I am considering at least one more):

I've been toying with an idea for a bit, so I'm going to throw it out there at you all. FEEDBACK IS VERY WELCOME. Nothing is finalized or set in stone. At the very least, if you like the idea of a get together, let me know what times you might be available?


As far as I know, all of you do some SF/F writing, and enjoy doing it. Some are aiming to go pro (Or already have) and some are just in it for fun.

But ALL of us have one other thing in common; a life so busy and full of other projects and obligations that we really don't write as much as we want to, or used to, or you-name-it.

Which means that for most of us, a traditional writing group doesn't work, because they often expect a certain amount of progress daily, or weekly, and sometimes the message, intended or not, is that you aren't really into it if you don't hit some magic number.

Which can be discouraging instead of inspiring. Or, when it inspires you to force out words, can make you miserable instead of happy. Deadlines make some people stubborn instead of purposeful, and some people write or edit once or twice a year in big sprints, spending the rest of the time thinking, planning, and researching, which works very badly with most writing groups. Some people are only productive with a strict schedule, some find strict schedules break them.

However, it's also true that just hanging out with other writers in a group can often be itself a motivator to do stuff, or to ask questions about the things stalling you. it can also give opportunities to brainstorm, blather, and just generally squee, about your own writing, about books you love, about all the things.

So I am proposing a club that gets together about every two weeks to sit, talk about writing, plot problems, worldbuilding, research, tea (Or beverage-of-choice), books, and life. Each session would be in three phases; a semi-formal organized section where everyone in turn talks about storyish stuff they're thinking about, any progress they made if they wish, or asks questions for everyone to try and answer (45 minutes to an hour), a more general conversation and loosening up for a while (this would happen anyhow, why not make it officially allowed?), then one 45 minute writing session, which is optional participation, can be on your ongoing project if any or just an outpouring of words, or can be a set exercise (Multiple set exercises will be available, not just one) followed by a last burst of comments etc. about the writing session. So 3 hours or so total time.

And one of the things about it being a no-pressure club is that the same pressures of life that make writing hard also mean some people will NOT be able to make it every time, and that's okay, too, as long as they do show about once every 3 months or so. (That'd be one session in 6). We need a minimum of three people showing for a session to go forward, though the more the merrier.


Today was the first meeting. We had a total of four people (the couple hosting, me, and one more.) Because the last person arrived rather late (to be fair, even I arrived late; Alex nursed to sleep right when I was ready to leave). The thought that there were only the three of us, and the fact that these are people I don't see as much as I'd like, meant we started very informally, chatting before veering into writing related stuff, did a lot of meandering off topic. Ultimately we didn't do the writing sprint because there wasn't time (though one person, not me, was doing research and notes for an ongoing project while listening and talking). Most of us agreed a more structured approach the next time would be good, but this also allowed us to get some of that out of our system now. (I do kinda regret not doing the writing sprint, but I was half an hour late in leaving their place anyhow).

All in all I call it a success, though a minor one, and we'll have to see how the next one goes. If they all end up this informal, I'll be sad.

Everything is crossposted to DW and LJ until further notice. Post comments here or there. (Comments at DW: comment count unavailable)
2nd-May-2016 12:58 am - Argh! Indie?
Innocent
(Interesting timing for this set of thoughts...)


I thought I would only consider selling any of my stories Indie if I exhausted all other options, or as reprints. But looking at the markets available out there for a 30k fantasy novella.

-The place that pays the best pro rates and actually gets their books in bookstores is firmly closed to unsolicited submissions for, as far as I can tell, ever.
- The only other place that pays pro rates decided to drop back to 20k as a top limit (even though the guidelines I was going by said 40k).
- The place that pays a half-decent rate and seems to be getting some attention and word of mouth (More important than the money) cut their guidelines back to 25k between my first research and the rejection from the pro place.
- Most of the other places I saw listed had poor rates, weird red flags in their guidelines (not necessarily that they are at all dishonest, just that they might have no idea how other publishers work or what's professional), or terrible cover art and design. Or some mix thereof.

Really, Eggplant Productions was a teeny tiny operation that was staffed by about three people and shut down because the woman running it was having personal difficulties, so not exactly top-line. And yet they had guidelines that made it plain they knew how publishing works as a whole and what writers want to know, a low but clear and honest pay rate (And actually, the second time around, it wasn't *that* low) and decent cover art/design.

So... Should I try and go it sorta-solo for the novellas? I still fully intend to submit novels to publishers.

If I do, should I get a more professional editor's eye on the thing first, just in case?

Everything is crossposted to DW and LJ until further notice. Post comments here or there. (Comments at DW: comment count unavailable)
10th-Apr-2016 11:52 pm - The Shepherd's Crown
Innocent
Well, it's only been since December.

I think I'll make this reopening post a review.

In my heart of hearts, I really kind of wanted Terry Pratchett's last book to be a real, true Swan Song*, a work of excellence to rival his prior bests. (Exactly which books are those bests is up for enough debate as it is, although Night Watch, one of my two picks, is frequently cited. Nation less so, but I'm not its sole advocate.)

I knew it wasn't likely, but he still had a pretty solid grasp on Tiffany Aching in I Shall Wear Midnight, and I knew his editors had been praised for making this one a fairly solid work.

I will say it was better than the books right before it, in many ways, but I also felt like I was getting that impossible chance to beta-read an early draft, not the final. There was so much that was here that was Pratchett through and through -- interspersed with all the bits that wobble and wibble and get written in as one is looking for the heart of a story - things that would be cut in later drafts, scenes that would be expanded upon.

Spoilers ahead.

The death of Granny Weatherwax, and the reactions of the living in dealing with it, were among the jewels, the pieces carved out at their best and most precise. I have little doubt that was among the parts, as mentioned in the afterword, Pratchett had written earlier and had the greatest chance to revise and polish. I also have no doubt it was a part he most cared to get right, alongside coping with his own mortality.

I was mostly amazed it happened so early on, as the catalyst of the plot rather than as part of its resolution, or as a key turning point in the centre. But it makes sense.

The thread about the farming family with the triplets, and young Tiffany, I thought was one of the pieces where Pratchett had the most to say that never got written. It felt like there would have been greater ties, greater thematic resonances, with the main story, if this had been written ten years ago. They might not have been any better parents or learned much more than they already did - Pratchett was never one to shy away from the folly side of humanity, or its failings - but it rang one note, and usually it would have made a chord.

I feel rather the same about Geoffrey and his goat - things seemed to open for him a bit too easily. On the one hand, the bedrock of the witches has fallen, and the world has been changing steadily a while, so one more change feels like barely a blink -- and the more so for Tiffany herself, who is already following a rather unusual path. HER reaction is spot on. On the other, there should be some pull back, even if it's not the explicit, solid wall 'you can't do that' kind. In fact, I'd have been disappointed if it was that. But something on the order of micro-aggression, condescension, the occasional soft nudge aside - let me do it dear, I've been at this for years, I know my stuff, you can just watch for now - would have been much harder for Geoffrey, used to hard walls, to break past. It should have felt more like a pleasing turn when at the end even Mrs. Earwig approved him. Especially since it might have seemed peaceful so his calming tricks wouldn't work. I liked him and loved Mephistopheles as characters, though. Distinct even at this brief an intro.

By contrast, there were far too many bits affirming Tiffany Aching as THE witch, too many times the possibility of big resistance was raised, only to be waved off. I feel certain Pratchett would have crystallized the number of times it was asserted, by the number of people, that Tiffany was indeed the right choice.

The battle with the elves, and indeed their incursions into Discworld, were more clumsily handled than they might have been -- Nightshade's transformation was too quick, and in some ways far too likely to have reversed again when she got her power back. Her awareness of the changes in the Disc started before she lost power, and probably would have stayed, but I could easily imagine her understanding of humans fading again if she was back on a throne over elvish courtiers, and more if the elves found a different, less iron-advanced, world to harass. Peaseblossom was far too one-note to be a solid villain, and the scenes with the King were disjointed and confusing, even as his motives, too, were one-note. Their themes "The world is changing and we are being left behind" AND "Let's make elves in Discworld Great Again" both got repeated too much, with too little of the depth Pratchett has previously given to the opposition, making their resemblance to certain real-world aspects weaker and less convincing, and making them less scary.

The climactic battle had a much more solid feel of pieces coming together as they ought -- which felt surreal when my impression of the rest of the book was that the pieces were less than fully realized (or overemphasized).

And the epilogue fit Tiffany well.



* I felt the same about Diana Wynne Jones, and I didn't get it then, either, not quite. Her last novel written entirely by herself was fabulous except for the very last two pages, which added an extra and unnecessary and rather squicky revelation. Her very last book, finished by her sister, had a promising DWJ start and a not-wholly unsatisfying ending that nonetheless was also rather clearly, to me, not written by her. I can't point to exactly where the transition happened, her sister is a better writer than that. I also can't say for sure it isn't the PLOT she intended, it could have been - only that the prose and the flow of it were no longer hers.

Everything is crossposted to DW and LJ until further notice. Post comments here or there. (Comments at DW: comment count unavailable)
15th-Dec-2015 09:50 pm(no subject)
Innocent
We have a friend who paints a stained glass style nativity scene on her front window. (She also often does ones for Easter or Hallowe'en). Technically, it's often a group endeavour; she does the black outlines, and various people, including her, fill in with colour. (Then we redo the outlines)

This year, she's been sick, so while she had her painting party. it didn't get finished. I offered to come by the week after, and continue it. Which I did (I didn't finish it either, but I got it far enough to make it a much easier job; all the figures were done with the exception of some hat details.)

However, I badly misestimated how much of some colours of paint I'd need, and felt badly for it. These colours were finished in her place, there was literally nothing to do but dump them.

Or was there?

We have an alcove off our living room with one exceedingly annoying window. That is, in midafternoon, the sun glares through it right onto the couch. We'd even stuffed a cushion from a long-gone couch into it, but this was only a partial solution. In fact, much of the day, light coming in is good... If only it were muted.

I had been thinking for a while that her window-painting might be the answer. But I have acrylics, which are rather more permanent than her tempera/soap mix, and probably less translucent.

And now I had a bunch of colours that needed getting rid of. Specifically, purple, green, orange, red, russet, dark brown, and grey. No blue, which put paid to my initial impulses, which tended towards peacocks or mermaids.

So I went obvious. Well, obvious if you're me.

The first photo shows the sketched in stained glass outline and the first colour (and a demonstration why every line has to be redone at the end to actually look darker than the colour panes.)

Alas, I finished after dark, so the second picture is what it looks like when lit from inside the house.



Tomorrow I take pictures of it from inside, lit from without, and probably vice versa in the evening.

To give credit where it's due, here are my two sources.
artist listed on Deviantart as tempusnox

sagaciousblonde

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24th-Nov-2015 12:36 am(no subject)
Innocent
I'm failing this Demi Wri Mo Challenge, but succeeding at getting stuff written, so I can't quite say I'm failing as a whole. But it's not helping my mood. The last few days were, in order, 63 words, 1429 words, 156 words, and 993 words, to a total of 15389. I need all 1400 word days from here on to make it. I'm skeptical.

It also feels very me right now. Doing the right thing but not enough of it. Doing half-assed at everything. I'm not going to go into details, specifically so people can't say, "but look at this part you are doing right!" I know. There's still half a glass of water. Forgive me if right now I say don't try and send feel-good flag waving or reassurances. I'm processing.

My baby still does not sleep as he ought. He also has a cold (and gave it to his grandma) so this is not the week to push it. That really doesn't help, because if he don't sleep, neither do I. Starting to reread on sleep training, though.

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17th-Nov-2015 11:44 pm - Word count
Labyrinth
I had three days of about 300 words each in a row, after one day with a zero count because exhausted. On the second, I was *this* close to calling it because I was already behind, and just getting further, and dammit, this was only HALF a NANO I should be able to do better...

It doesn't help that I'm not feeling this story yet. I'm getting a lot of "This feels dumber on the page than it ever did in my head, and I'm stuck in set-up, and none of the cool stuff is happening for a while."

Then I told myself 300 words a day is more than I have done on average for a long time. And 300 words a day is 109,500 in a year. Which is a short-for-me novel.

Then I did some math and found that my word count per day to finish by the 30th had gone from 833 words per day to 1,123 -- and I had a couple of days this November that were right around there.

So. No more slacking (and I dread tomorrow's count, with the whole family birthday party), but also not an impassable barrier. Not the 1,667 words of Nano, either.

Today's count was 1,133 words, ending just before a scene I think will help really get the ball rolling. Total to date: 10,417.

AS for not feeling the story? Well, I've only been thinking about some of the bits and pieces that have become this story since Joseph was an infant. And the point was to get 25,000 words into it so I would know if it was worth pursuing further, since it's always hard to tell when one is noodling with it in one's head.

I can DO this.

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13th-Nov-2015 12:12 am(no subject)
Innocent
So I missed one day entirely and ended yesterday at 6,970. Tonight, I'm stopping at 8036 words - which is about 2,000 behind where I should be.

I can still catch that up witch a bit more discipline.

And I may have created a better opportunity for being that disciplined, in that I moved the active file to my google drive, so now I can type downstairs on the same keyboard I normally use (and which my husband recently replaced so it now has a working o, hurrah!) and don't have to continually switch to and from the Dana, which is a too-complicated multi-step process.

It does mean having my cruddy rough draft up on the big screen for all to see, but as long as that all is JoJo and Alex, that's okay. It would be awkward if/when Colin or his mother (or mine) are about, because I can be EXTREMELY prickly about people seeing my rough drafts. But if they're present, then chances are, I can switch to upstairs and some privacy, even if it's with Alex all over me napping. And the nigh continuous auto-save is a wonder. (I STILL remember losing words to the old style computers where if you closed a file without saving, it just closed and everything vanished. And that was junior high. The new computers in grade 9 with the ICONs and the question whether you Want to save were a beauty of a thing.)

And this has grown longish for what was meant to be a quick-post, though part of that is that just as I was starting, and intending to get to bed, Alex woke and started to fuss. So after a baby-free hour of typing, I'm doing this post one-handed whilst cuddling.

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10th-Nov-2015 12:00 am(no subject)
Innocent
So yesterday's count stopped at exactly 5,000, which was a bit low but I was tired and t was past midnight.

Tonight's, stopped at 11:59, is 6,381 words and a scene end.

Someone cheer me on?

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7th-Nov-2015 11:37 pm - Words!
Innocent
4275 words. Which is 1347 words today. Which is above what I need per day for my intended goal, but maybe not enough to catch up. But sleep now.

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7th-Nov-2015 12:36 am - Words!
Innocent
2928 words for Demi-Wri-Mo - despite forgetting when i blithely thought I could catch up tonight that tonight was our gaming night. Duh.. Not quite doubled, but definitely an improvement. Still behind, but if I do this pace a couple times more, I will be on track for 25,000.

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6th-Nov-2015 05:32 pm - Moar Tea!
Innocent
So, I've now not only made an extended tea order online, I also indulged myself a bit at David's when I found their winter selection was out.

So these are the results:

Murchie's

Christmas Tea: It seems a bit more orange-peel flavoured than the Upton version, but definitely well within the "Yes, this is the Christmas tea I was missing" range. The orange tartness might mean I decide this is a 1/3 tsp honey tea again.

Decaf Canadian Breakfast: ON the one hand, this is basically black tea and maple, and I *have* black tea and maple syrup in the house. Also, it advertises itself as "a hint of maple', and you'd have to be one of the people I know whose sense of smell is pretty much defunct before you'd miss it. On the other, most cheap maple teas are a bit icky and unbalanced, and this is deliciously delicious. I might have to try a cup of black tea with maple syrup added on the spot and this together to see which is better. I have a feeling Canadian Breakfast might win.

Princess Blend: Rose and Raspberry. I expected the rose to cut the sweetness of the raspberry, and it doesn't, really. But it complements it beautifully. Since David's discontinued Fantasy Island before could compare the two, I can't say which is better, but this is definitely worth keeping.

Tribute Pu'erh: Better than what I had by a fair bit. And stronger. I haven't tested the assertion that most pu'erh's can stand multiple steepings and come out strong and reasonable tasting yet

Distinctly Tea

Decaf Apricot: Mmmmmm, yes. That's the stuff.

Winter Blend: Was advertised as apple and spices. Is Apple, spices and almond, giving it an amaretto-ish aftertaste. (Natural almond as far as I can tell, though, not the stuff used in maraschino cherries, which tastes the same to be but turns my mom and brothers' stomachs). Picked up as a possible "maybe related enough to Christmas tea to pass if I'm desperate". Fails on that. Good enough I'll finish what I have without it being a chore, but I probably won't buy again.

David's

Snow Day: They didn't bring back white chocolate frost; they did this instead. So rather than white chocolate, peppermint and peppercorns, it's white and brown chocolate and peppermint. Still pretty satisfying a mix.

Cardamom French Toast: Cardamom, cinnamon, and other ingredients meant to emulate, well, as the title says. Smelled lovely, and reads like it should be up my alley. The first steep was a decided disappointment. It also steeped overlong, so I might try it again before I dismiss it.

Honeycrisp apple: Sweeter than I recalled, but really tastes more like an apple - not like apple juice, just apple - than like green tea. The tea is more background colour. A very nice drink indeed (Unless you're in the mood for green tea that tastes like green tea.)

Strawberry rhubarb parfait: Technically I haven't drunk a cup at home, but the whole reason I bought it is that I have had it, and it's a quite nice herbal.

(I also tried individual cups of the blueberry jam - too sweet and very meh - and the hot chocolate as a latte, which tasted more like hot chocolate than like tea, but since that was the point, I was satisfied. Didn't buy any for home, though.)

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6th-Nov-2015 12:26 am(no subject)
Innocent
So Demi-Wri-Mo or whatever this is called has started slow. But I kind of knew the first few days would be a bit sacrificial. Not this bad, though. At this rate I might make my word count in January or February. But Alex has been sick and I've been out of the house A LOT more than the usual. (I think I committed shopping therapy, though not over the word count... I have a lot of tea to review and some books to read.)

1543 words. At least I know the rest of the scene well. And I have good reason to think tomorrow will double that at minimum.

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2nd-Nov-2015 11:57 pm(no subject)
Innocent
So my decision for November was to do a Demi-WriMo, or a half NaNoWriMo. So tracking my progress on NaNo's own site makes no sense, but I need a public placement for accountability.

Here we go, then.

OFFICIAL DEMIWRIMO WORD COUNT:
947

Later posts, if I have time, I may discuss the project a bit.

ETA: Grrrr. I think in blithely skipping past a "restore from saved draft" button, I lost a half finished post of some length. Oh, well. If anyone knows if it's possible to retrieve such, let me know.

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