Da Vinci’s marvellous instrument

The Viola Organista! It’s like a harpsichord and a cello had a baby! Read this article about it, and be sure to listen to the performance as well. I’m loving this so hard. It sounds like a string quartet to me, playing Baroque-style without vibrato. Incredible.

In other news: I’ve been relaxing most arduously, playing Mass Effect 2, doing housework, attending to all the things that need attending (the dog, largely; she’s been ill, poor thing). I keep having ideas for fiction. I am jotting them down, then letting them float away, which feels like the height of luxury to me. I’ll get to them; there will be time.

I hope November is treating you gently, too.

The Pratchett Appreciation Tumblr

Love Terry Pratchett? Well, there’s a Tumblr for that: Terry Pratchett Appreciation. I have a short piece on there, along with other fabulous authors like Cory Doctorow and Megan Whalen Turner. I believe they are also taking submissions, if you feel inspired.

Sorry this is brief, but my poor whippet is unwell. *sigh* Off to the vet with us. 

Ach Lieb, ich tu dir klagen

We’re singing several good songs in choir this session, but my favourite by far is “Ach Lieb, ich tu dir klagen,” by Hans Leo Hassler. It’s Renaissance-tastic. Here’s the only YouTube recording I could find:

Isn’t it gorgeous? It’s in five parts. I usually sing alto, but since I’m technically a mezzo-soprano, I decided to sing the second soprano part this time (our conductor is very easy-going and doesn’t mind). I always think whichever part I’m singing is the most beautiful, but in this case I’m pretty sure it’s true. The second soprano line is something special.

German has a bad rep in some circles as a harsh-sounding language, but I don’t think it’s harsh. It’s super fun to sing. During one of our more melodic moments as second sopranos, we’re singing “die grossen Schmerzen mein,” which doesn’t look like it ought to be beautiful, but it is. It takes a lot of mouth-effort to pronounce correctly, but I like that in a language. I think it gives the song some additional timbre and nuance. The sound of the words, separate from their meaning, is an interesting and integral part of the whole.

Codex Seraphinianus

I had never heard of this book before, and then it’s come to my attention twice within a month: Codex Seraphinianus. Read the article; admire the artwork. It’s gently, humanely surreal, and right up my alley.

Seraphina – from my novel – is not named after Luigi Serafini or his Codex, and yet she could have been. It would have been apropos. These images would fit right in with her Garden of Grotesques, I think. 


It occurs to me that you probably want some information about this mysterious sequel I’ve been working on for the last geologic age. A few things may now be told without being spoilery.

The title will be Shadow Scale

Two words. It was originally one, and I still like it better as one, but there were other, logistical reasons to make it two. I’m not sure I’m at liberty to say what those reasons are just yet, so you must use your imagination. If your imagination is on vacation (it IS November, after all) I will give you some alternatives:

a) Because I get paid by the word

b) Because somebody hacked it in two with a sword

c) Because when it was one word, people kept misreading it as “Shadows Cale” and then getting hungry for mysterious cruciferous vegetables

The correct answer is, of course, all three.

Second item of business: when does the accursed thing come out? We have a date, darlings, but it may be subject to change, so pencil it in. As of right now, if revisions go the way they should and my editor isn’t eaten by Godzilla and an asteroid doesn’t hit Manhattan and I don’t fall down a hole, the book should be out by:

March, 2015.

I will give you a moment to weep. That’s fair. It is November, after all, and nobody should be expected to hold it in when the rain clouds can’t be bothered to show the same consideration.

Done? Good. Now let’s get a YAAAAY! Because this thing is real. It is happening. There were days I thought it never would be, when my mind felt like a glacier, cold and barren and immovable.

But glaciers do move. They move mountains and etch valleys and bulldoze entire landscapes. I have applied irresistible forces to immovable objects. I have eroded whole canyons, sometimes with nothing but a persistent drip. 

Heh. Persistent drip. That pretty much sums me up.

The merry month of November

My darlings, I have news: I have completed the most recent draft of the sequel, and I sent it to my editor this morning. I have spent the last two hours bouncing around my house like a ping pong ball, because – ye gods – this is such a weight off my heart. I can’t even tell you. I’m made of words, but I have no words.

Do you know what the very best thing about this is? No, it’s not the fact that you really will get to read the sequel this decade, although that’s pretty nice. OK, very nice. But the very best thing is that today is November 1st, and it will take my editor a few weeks to read the draft and get comments back to me (alas, let us not pretend the book is completely finished).

I have November, for novel-writing purposes, OFF. Nothing in November.

This has been a special goal of mine ever since last November. Allow me to explain.

I have known, ever since I moved to Canada, that November is the nadir of my year. It’s dark, and getting darker. It’s rainy, and getting rainier. Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving in October, so there isn’t even a holiday to liven things up between Halloween and Saturnalia. I get epically bummed out. Seasonal affective disorder? Maybe, but the point is, it happens every year, so theoretically I ought to be able to come up with a strategy to combat it.

My previous strategy — keeping my nose to the grindstone and muscling through — did not work. In fact, it made things worse. For the last two years, in particular, by the end of November I have been not merely depressed but burned out and exhausted as well. There had to be a better way.

Well, lovelies, there is. This year I am proclaiming the month-long holiday of November Nothing! While others toil at NaNo, I shall be celebrating NoNo.

NoNo has exactly one rule: Be gentle with yourself. It is the month of restoration, of remembering what you love and why and doing exactly that. Of resting when you need to, laughing as much as possible, slowing down and staying sane.

I’m planning to be here a lot, honestly, because you know what I miss? Writing for fun, or for no reason at all. While I was working on revisions, I felt guilty any time I came to this blog, particularly if I was going to write something silly. Well, NoNo rejects the idea that only focused, goal-oriented tasks are worthy! We laugh in the face of that idea! Time spent doing things you love is never, ever time wasted, and sometimes goals just have to wait their turn.

I am here to laugh and enjoy myself, and probably write more about prog rock than anyone but me cares to read. And if it starts to feel like work, maybe I’ll slack off — I have permission! It’s Nothing November, my dears, and you are all welcome to join me, fully or whenever you’re able.

Be gentle with yourselves. I’ll see you tomorrow.