I wake up for a moment

All right, friends, TESS IN BOOTS is finished.

It really ate my brain. I’m sorry I get so completely immersed in fantasy-world problem solving that I don’t have enough extra brains for this space, but alas that’s how it goes.

I did find a small amount of spare imagination in a very dark corner of my head, and was able to write this short story, out today at the Hanging Garden Summer Fling: The New One. Content warning: this is horror,  I’d say, and not my usual genre at all. You can’t tell from the title, I realize.

It’s fun writing stories full of your own childhood — toilet paper dolls, sundresses, ear of corn, family reunions — repurposed for something horrible. OK, toilet paper dolls were horrible to begin with (and they really exist, if you’ve never of encountered one on a dark night, in a great-aunt’s powder room) (she has to be the kind of great aunt who calls it a powder room, see). Anyway, it was fun to write, and really stretched me in a different direction.

And now to sleep for a thousand years…


O Lusty May

Hey, check me out, squeaking in on the last day of May. Yes, darlings, it’s me. Your long-lost friend Rachel.

I’m on the last pass (barring unforeseen disaster) of TESS IN BOOTS, and will be turning it in (assuming the earth isn’t hit by a comet) in early July, so that’s good news. Someday, when I can look back on it and laugh, I will tell you all the myriad ways this book has almost done me in. The good news (I think it’s good news, anyway) is that I didn’t get depressed this time around. The bad news… aw, whatever. No bad news at this time. I got my Hulk on and muscled through and I’m ok, folks.

I titled this entry in honour of departing May, yes, but also because this is the song with which I scared away coyotes not once, but TWICE this month. It’s super useful, in addition to being merry. Here’s The King’s Singers, gettin’ all preluscient* with it:

*Preluscient is a word from the the song, and seems to mean twilight. The light before the light, I guess.

I am also intrigued that one of the dudes just sits there and smirks through the second verse. That isn’t marked in my music, but then, I seem to be missing that verse altogether, so who knows. You can probably find a reference to it in the literature somewhere: “The possibly apocryphal Smirk Verse is sometimes omitted from performances if none of the singers can manage more than a grimace.”

See you in June!


Two events and a small apology

My friends, I return to you! With bells and elephants and glory! Or, y’know, news. That’s worth something, I hope.

I have two upcoming events that I need to tell you about. First, on April 30th I will be participating in Authors for Indies, making an appearance at Black Bond Books, Central City, Surrey, from noon to 2pm. I’ll be selling books and making witty small talk, but will probably not be dressed as a pirate.

Second, I’m doing a reading at the BC Renaissance Festival, May 8th (Mothers Day) at 12:30. As an added bonus, my madrigal choir (The QuasiModals) will sing at 3pm the same day. Come one, come all. I’ll be selling books, and will be dressed as some kind of pirate, so just a normal day for me.

Lastly: sorry to have been absent here so long. Whenever this happens, it usually means there’s something going on that I can’t talk about. For some reason, this tends to hinder my ability to talk about much of ANYTHING. I wish my brain didn’t work that way, but that’s how I am. I try to consider it a feature and not a defect.

In any case, I have more to say about worldbuilding, and any number of other subjects. I may just need to survive this revision before I get to that, however. Thanks for your patience.


My weekend read

My son is on an exchange to Quebec, so we had a rare child-free weekend. We played D&D with friends, went out to the new Storm Crow Alehouse for Valentine’s Day, and I got an entire book read.

I tell people I’m a slow reader – and I am – but a child in the house makes me an even slower reader, clearly.

The book was also a quick read: we were liars, by e. lockhart.

I quite enjoyed it, although I was worried I would’t. Rich teens spending summers on their family’s private island is not something that grabs my interest easily, but I’d heard so many good things about this book that I kept going (it didn’t hurt that bits of it were written in poetry, so the density of words on the page was low and I could zip through at faster-than-usual speed). In the end, it was worth it — there’s a twist, which I had known in advance, but even though I was looking for it, I couldn’t predict it. I had found many of the characters pretty repugnant, but the ending gives you new eyes and new sympathy. I was moved, and hadn’t expected to be.

Family is such a complicated subject; if no one ever wrote about anything else, there would still be plenty of material and variety in books, I think. I’m really fascinated by the density of the subject matter contrasted with the airiness of the writing style. One would think that the result would feel like skating over the surface and not really getting to the meat of anything. However, the book is more like someone running a finger lightly over your skin, and then over a cut you didn’t realize you had, which hurts intensely at the slightest touch. Sure, the narrative could jab a finger right into the wound (and some books do, and that isn’t the wrong way to go about it necessarily), but I’m intrigued by the effects of such delicacy. The zing of pain isn’t less painful for all that. In fact, I think the contrast heightens the shock; the touch is so light, you get lulled into thinking it’s not going to hurt at all.

It’s masterfully done. I’m not sure I could do it.


February

My sister Laura first introduced me to this song about a million years ago on what may have been the last mix-tape ever made. She included it because of the cello, which she thought I would appreciate as a former cellist. I tried to find a live version to post here, but apparently Dar Williams doesn’t drag a cellist around with her everywhere she goes, so that was kind of a bust. It’s just not the same without it.

I am always most moved by the part where she can’t remember what a crocus is. I’ve lived through winters like that — metaphorical winters, anyway, and metaphorical crocuses.

February in Vancouver is super rainy, as per usual. We’ve got crocuses and snowdrops, very normal for the season, but I’ve also seen a daffodil, and that’s quite early. I can take any amount of rain and grey if there are flowers; this is one reason February is far pleasanter (for me) than November, even if the weather and day-length isn’t that different.

Back to cello, though — this has been a week of thinking about music I haven’t heard in a long time, so on a whim I went looking for a piece I enjoyed playing. I only remembered it was by Handel, but fortunately it’s not as obscure as all that (I’d had some worry that it was originally an oboe sonata or something, but apparently not). Anyway, here’s Jacqueline duPre, playing it better than I ever did, to be sure:

 


A smattering

Hello, friends. I turned in my draft, but now I am sick. Just wanted to drop by and say hi and jot down a couple notes to myself.

  • I gave a pretty good speech last week to the Vancouver Children’s Literature Roundtable about how I became a writer in spite of the fact that most things I want to express artistically are ineffable. How does one use words as a medium to express things for which there are no words? I found my solution in fantasy and metaphor. But more on that when my nose stops running.
  • Just putting this here for my own reference, but there may be some of you who find it interesting, too: On Uagadou, the African Wizarding School. Worldbuilding is complicated; worldbuilding that intersects with the real world, doubly so.
  • Since that last sentence obliquely referenced Douglas Adams, here’s the Douglas Adams quote with which I ended my VCLR speech, from Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency: “Let’s think the unthinkable, let’s do the undoable. Let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all.”

All right, back to napping and blowing my nose. Sure is glamourous to be me.


Revision brain

I am off the internets until the beginning of February, friends. I know you’ll miss me, but I leave you with this: