May 31, 2009



I did it!   I’m through the second draft of PEGASUS by the end of May . . . with an hour and five minutes to spare, as I write this.* 

            Pardon me while I make a fresh cup of peppermint tea and play a little Mozart to celebrate.

            I am also several stages past brain dead** so here’s the first 800 words of the second draft masquerading as a blog entry.  I promise nothing about whether or not these will be in any way related to the first 800 words of what I long for to be the finished book*** I will be holding the bound galleys of about this time next year. . . .

 * * *

Because she was a princess she had a pegasus.

            This had been a part of the treaty between the pegasi and the human invaders nearly a thousand years ago when humans had first struggled through the mountain passes and discovered a beautiful green country they immediately wanted to live in.  The beautiful green country was at that time badly overrun by manticores and taralians and norkindours which ate almost everything (including each other) but liked pegasi best.  The pegasi were a peaceful people and no match, despite their greater intelligence, for the single-minded ferocity of their enemies, and over the years their numbers had declined.  But they were tied to these mountains and valleys by particular qualities in the soil and the grasses that grew in the soil, which allowed their wings to grow strong enough to bear them in the air.  They had ignored the situation as without remedy for some generations, but the current pegasus king knew he was looking at a very bleak future for his people when the first human soldiers straggled, gasping, through the Devaun Pass and collapsed on the greensward under the Singing Yew, which was old even then. 

           They sat up quickly when seven pegasi circled the meadow above the pass, and flew down to investigate.  The journal of that company’s second commander still exists in the palace library:  a small, worn, round-cornered book, slightly bowed, the shape of the breast-pocket it was carried in.  He reported the historic meeting:  “We had but just come through the final rocky gate, and had set ourselves down in the shade of a strange great tree, which had short soft spikes or needles all along its branches, and no leaves;  when swift-moving shadows fled briefly between us and the sun, but against the wind.  We looked up in haste, for rocs are not unheard of, and I had raised my hand to give the signal for the archers to string their bows.  We saw that these were no rocs, but still I held up my hand, for they were nothing else we knew either;  and they clearly had seen us, and did approach.

            “But these creatures are nothing like rocs except they do also possess wings;  they are like nothing I have ever seen, except perhaps by some great artist’s creative power.  They are a little like horses, but yet far more fine than any horse, even the queen’s palfrey;   they are a little like deer, except that deer are rough and clumsy beside them;  and their wings are huge, huger than eagles’, and when the lowering sun struck through their primaries, for as they cantered toward us they left their wings unfurled, the light was broken as if by prisms, and they were haloed in all the colours of the rainbow.  Several of my men came to their knees, as if we were in the presence of gods;  and while I told them to stand and be men, I did tell them gently, for I understood their awe.”

            The pegasi were happy to make a treaty with the humans, who were the first possibility of rescue the pegasi had had, and the humans, dazzled by the pegasi’s beauty and serenity, were happy to make a treaty with them, for the right to share their mountainous land;  for the wide plateaus, which ran like lakes around the mountaintop islands, were lush and fertile, and many of the island crests were full of gems and ores.

           The discussions as to the terms of the treaty had had to be held almost exclusively through the human magicians and the pegasi shamans, however, who were the only ones able to learn enough of the other’s language to understand and make themselves understood, and that was a check to enthusiasm on both sides, as were the strange fits of dizziness and the ringing in the ears that often attended human attempts to learn the pegasi language.  “Is it not, then, a language, as we understand language?” wrote the second commander.  “Does it encompass an invisible touch, as a meeting of our hands in greeting, or a kiss between dear friends?  What can we not grasp of it, and why cannot our magicians explain this lack to us?”

            Sylvi’s tutor, Ahathin, had brought Sylvi to the library while they were studying this portion of the annals.  Ordinary people needed a sheaf of special permissions to look at anything so old and precious as the second commander’s journal;  Ahathin, as the princess’ tutor, had merely made the request, and when the two of them appeared at the library door, the Head Librarian himself bowed, saying, “Princess, Ehn Magician,” and led them to the table where the journal already lay waiting for them–with an honour guard of two of the Queen’s Own standing on either side of it.  The queen was the library’s governor.  Sylvi looked at them thoughtfully.  They were wearing their swords, but they were also wearing hai, to indicate that they could not hear anything she and Ahathin said to each other.  How were they going to protect anything when they couldn’t hear anyone coming?  

* * *

 * And it hasn’t been easy.  Okay, it’s never easy, but the traumas vary.   Today I had a second service to ring this evening, it’s a beautiful day and I would rather have been in the garden for some of it, and hellhounds have been unusually determined to have their tennis ball thrown for them and their rubber rings wrestled with adequately.

 ** And I’m not looking forward to finding out that that last scene–which did in fact come with a rush, fortunately–is written in Martian.  When my fingers are moving slightly faster than my brain the results are often somewhat inscrutable.

*** They have, for example, no relation whatsoever to the first 800 words of the tidied-up beginning of the first draft I sent to Merrilee and my editor several years ago when Merrilee was trying to put together a 1,000,000-book contract to scrounge enough advance money that I could buy Third House.

Guest Blog: A Meeting of the Mods

(Black Bear)

Memorial Day weekend is always a pleasure for me. I leave Indianapolis, land of a thousand racecars and a million tourists this time of year, and I go to Madison, Wisconsin instead for three days. I hit the Farmer’s Market, buy things I don’t need on State Street, and talk about books and issues of gender, politics, and sexuality at WisCon. WisCon is self-billed as the World’s Leading Feminist Science Fiction Convention; I’ll take their word on it, as my experience of the World’s Lesser Feminist Science Fiction Conventions is…. well, nonexistent. But I’ve gotten to know WisCon pretty well over the years. I started going in 1996, and by my count this was my 12th WisCon–I think I’ve missed only two. (Importantly, I did NOT miss Robin’s appearance at WisCon 29–she was marvelous.)* *

I’m the first to admit that I don’t fully participate in all things Con; I tend to watch from the sidelines, and for all I’ve been going there for the last 14 years give-or-take-a-few, I’m fairly sure that most of the Core WisCon regulars could not pick me out of a lineup. I spend most of my time loping rather gracelessly up and down the hall near the con suite (though less of that, now that I’m getting older and thicker. I less lope, and more lumber these days) and socializing with the friends I only see at WisCon. But this year, there was an added bonus feature! I met, for the first time and face to face in all her knitting glory**, my fellow moderator Jmeadows!!

Needless to say, it was a blast. It’s always good to meet new friends, in my book, and it’s especially fun to watch someone encountering something cool for the first time–shakes one out of jaded complacency, you know? I actually met quite a few people this weekend who were experiencing their first WisCon, come to think of it. And there’s something just fun about seeing folks get all lit up about the WisCon experience, which I have to agree is like no other con I’ve ever been to. I’ll blather more on my own blog, and let Jodi tell you what she thought of the whole thing; I’ll leave you instead with the best quote I heard all weekend, at a panel on Magic, Religion and Art:

Commentor: Magic is something you do and it works once, and you really hope it will work again.
Panelist: No, that’s baking.*

Take it away, Jodi–


This was my first WisCon, and only my second convention of all time, so I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. My only other experience was a larger one, World Fantasy Con, a few years ago in my home town of Austin, Texas.*** WFC** has a lot of publishing industry folks, which is neat, but I didn’t actually bother with any of that. At WFC, I didn’t go to any panels, or readings (except one, where a friend read her poetry). I was more thrilled to hang out with friends I’d known online for years.

WisCon was a different experience, though. I have several friends who’ve gone to every WisCon they can manage. After years of hearing how amazing WisCon is, I decided to see for myself. I drove up with fellow forumite JaimeLee on Thursday, immediately met up with a handful of my best friends, and we were off on adventure in no time. We did panels,† went to a reading,†† and put in appearances at all the parties.

Madison is the cutest city. Downtown, at least. We had to stop and peer into every window (I’m still daydreaming about some of those dresses,)*** and the mixture of architecture was so darn cool and welcoming. There are wonderful lakes everywhere, so it’s easy to forget you’re in the middle of a city. The Concourse Hotel is right by the capitol building, which is gorgeous, of course, and you can look in any direction and find food. Golly, the food. Let me tell you. Mediterranean food, Chinese, coffee shops, and a pizza shop (which I went to with Black Bear and a few other friends) that has the weirdest stuff on pizzas. I got mac and cheese on mine. Laurel got something with potatoes and bacon…on pizza. It was weird, but really, really good. Another friend and I went to the farmer’s market where we got a giant cinnamon roll; we didn’t realize until too late that it was only a Saturday thing, and we couldn’t repeat our cinnamon roll experience on Sunday.**  Alas! Now I understand what people mean when they say eating their way through Madison, Wisconsin.****

I got to hang out with Black Bear several times. There was the pizza, a few times around parties, and one of the cool things about this con is that it’s small enough you actually can run into your friends in the hallway or during events. All in all? WisCon was awesome. The town is adorable, the programming is pretty interesting, and the people are AMAZING. I can see why this con has so many loyal attendees like Black Bear.

* * *

*She really must have been. People still mentioned her fondly this year.^

^ Not at all.  They’re just a very kindly and tolerant bunch.  And your putting your fist under their noses and saying and I’m a mod on her blog, wanna make something of it?, might have had something to do with it too.  –Hellgoddess/ed note

* Oh, bother. Jodi’s doing footnotes, so now I feel an obligation to footnote. But yes, Robin was fabulous. Her GOH speech was wonderful, she managed to work in bells AND roses AND dogs AND writing–it was not unlike the blog in this respect. ^

^ Hey.  And vampires.  And homeopathy. 

**It’s true, I had a sock-in-progress with me at all times, plus the knit socks I insisted on wearing every day. ^ The lady does not exaggerate.

^ Every day?  Hmmmmm . . .

* Snork. 

***I expected to see my family while in Austin, but what do you know: they heard I was coming home and immediately moved out of state. ^

^ They heard you were going to be wearing the SAME SOCKS SEVERAL DAYS IN A ROW.

** This is not to be confused with KFC, which is far higher in cholesterol.

†Laurel — remember her from mountain-climbing? — was actually on three of them. I made it to two so I could heckle her from the back of the room.

††After which I ran up to the dealers’ room^ to buy one of the books. That’s Sarah Prineas’s THE MAGIC THIEF. It’s Middle Grade fantasy. I got her to sign it for me after the con; she writes her notes in the code used in the book. I need to decipher mine still.

^There were so many things to buy. I could have spent a lot of money there, but managed to escape with only one other purchase: Elizabeth Moon’s SPEED OF DARK. My TBR (to be read) shelves are bowing. That doesn’t stop me from wanting, though. Mmm, books.

*** I bought a hat. My roommate Karen bought a pair of purple velvet Kangaroo hi-tops.

**I was, ahem, enormously impressed by the cinnamon rolls in Madison.   The only cinnamon rolls in this world that I know that can rival them are–I hope it’s still are and not were, I haven’t been back in a while–at Dysart’s Truck Stop in Orono, Maine.   Some of my old Maine friends and I had a fantasy about holding a launch party for SUNSHINE there but the actual tour kind of destroyed both my stamina and my sense of humour for some time so we didn’t pursue it.  And ALBION has less baking in it.

**** Double bother, I can’t figure out how to do the dagger thingys. But just felt the need to add that Madison has excellent sushi, and is known for its cheese and ice cream. I was deeply saddened at not getting a cherry turnover at the farmer’s market, but I settled for a rhubarb one instead and that was almost as good.

Two Heroines.  Clearly not to be messed with.   Note lady on the left fleeing the scene.



I GOT THROUGH ALMOST TWO PAGES OF THE FIRST DRAFT OF PEGASUS TODAY.  Which still leaves seven.  Sigh.  But I think I’m still just in with a chance to finish the second draft on Sunday:  the last scene is, I think, the last scene–it flaming well better be, not least for the pleasure I plan to derive from the last line, and the prospective shrieks of anguish and outrage I hope by it to produce*–and it’ll need rewriting because first draft usually** does, but I don’t think it’s going to engender six more chapters and a possible story-line for volume three. ***

            The day did not begin auspiciously however.  It began last night, as my days usually do, and getting to bed at . . . well, late enough that when the FedEx man started banging on the door at 8:45 am, I was not awake.  I found a dressing-gown to put on and rolled downstairs.  The FedEx man† couldn’t just shut up and hand me the little plastic toy you squiggle your signature on, but started telling me what a beautiful day it was, blue sky, chirping birds, more adorable road works, etc, and I only didn’t belt him because I move slowly when I’m just out of bed, and I was having trouble figuring out the three-dimensional geometry of connecting my hand to his face.

            And so, what trifling titbit emerged from the plastic FedEx bag?  Sigh.  Well, don’t get your hopes up††, because it’s not going to happen, but . . . a film option contract.   And since it’s not going to happen††† I’m not going to tell you which book(s) or who it’s with, although I will say it’s a real production company, one you’ve heard of‡, not Joe’s Garage, strange rattling noises added free of charge while you wait.  Given what they’re paying me‡‡ reading the bloody thing is more trouble than it’s worth.‡‡‡

            However I had the considerable pleasure of taking Battle Gem to Oisin this afternoon and listening to his screams of disbelief as he tried to play it.§   This is the one where I take Battle Hymn of the Republic, Columbia Gem of the Ocean, America the Beautiful, and the Star Spangled Banner and squish them all together with lots of mutinous chords in weird key signatures cannoning off the walls, and with apologies to Charles Ives.  I’d put it aside mid twiddle to attempt to write Just a Little Thing for Organ, which is now resting, like rising bread dough, in a warm, draught-free place on a back burner of my mind, and got Battle Gem out again.  After a few weeks of trying to get my head around the organ and what Finale does to organ playback, Battle Gem looks positively straightforward.

            And then I came back to the mews humming insouciantly and wrote three pages of PEGASUS of which only ONE of them is NEW.§§ 

* * *

 * And yes, what has happened has really happened.  Mr Spock is not going to develop a new talent and get them out of the pickle they’re in after the commercial. 

** But not always.  Occasionally something bursts out of your skull and dances complete on the page^, like the birth of Athene.  Not very often.  Which is actually just as well.  In the first place, despite everything I’ve–truthfully–said about having to wait for the Story Council to send me something, and feeling least sure about anything I’ve had to make up myself, from my own brain, in cold blood, I still want to feel involved somehow.  The stuff that’s like automatic writing makes me feel a little superfluous.  Why don’t they just hire some voice-recognition software and do it themselves?  Whoever they are.  In the second place the bursting-complete-from-your-skull system is painful.  It even gave Zeus a headache. 

^ waving its small perfectly formed limbs and shrilling ‘neener neener’ 

*** No!  Nooooooo!  Two is enough!^  I want to write ALBION! 

^ One would have been enough, thanks. 

† henceforth to be known as ‘the mutant offspring of Chaugnar Faugn and a large slime mould’.  Her parents never forgave her, and she was forced into a low, shameful life of ruining people’s lawns. 

†† Or, depending on your point of view, don’t bother being plunged into despair 

††† If you are unaware of the basic facts of books and the movie industry, please read ‘Why are there no movies made of your books?’ in my FAQ . . . um.  Which seems to have disappeared.  Excuse me while I email Blog/Sitemom. . . . Anyway.  For every 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 options taken out, one movie actually gets made.  Sometimes.

 ‡Unless you live in a vegetable bin with no broadband access 

‡‡ It will probably cover the cost of one new toilet seat at Third House.  Which still leaves the other new toilet seat, since the old toilet had to be replaced. 

‡‡‡ Especially when it revels in such language as the following:  ‘(i) an amount equal to [blah]% of the Merchandising Net Receipts, such participation to be deferred and payable out of the Defined Gross of the Picture in excess of the Contractual Start Point calculated on a moving basis with a [blah]% distribution fee on the Defined Gross from all sources.  Said participation shall be payable only until such time as the participation under subparagraph (ii) below becomes payable.’  I’ll spare you subparagraph (ii) below, shall I? 

§ His tears are delicious to me.  I was writing to the American friend who may meet him next month^ that I might have let him get away with starting me composing at all, but suggesting I try composing for the organ?  No, he deserves anything I can do to him. 

^ I realise I’ve misplayed my hand.  I should have sprung Battle Gem on him on the day.

 §§ There were only five of us at ringing practise tonight, including Cordelia, who is only beginning to learn the-pattern-before-the-pattern-from-which-all-bell-patterns-spring, plain hunt.  The other four of us did ring some upside-down-and-backwards Dreaded Minimus:  there’s something uniquely confusing about any method on four bells.  I suppose it’s the speed at which you have to ring it because there ARE only four bells.  Dorothy and Vicky were trying to tell Leo and me that upside down and backwards is just like the basic minimus, it’s just . . . upside down and backwards.  Leo and I glanced sidelong at each other.  Well, yes but . . .

Entitlement, III


At the end of ‘Entitlement continued’ I promised an Entitlement III to try and round up some more of the good comments the subject inspired.  That was a while ago.  I’m disorganised, absent-minded, and I have three days left before the end of the month to get through alchemicalling the last ten pages of the first draft of PEGASUS into the last x  pages of the second draft of PEGASUS.  Which would sound fine except that these are the same ten pages of the first draft I’ve been failing to get through for at least a fortnight.  I seem to be averaging ABOUT A PAGE A WEEK of the first draft = pages and PAGES AND PAGES of the second.  Oh gods.  Oh gods.  Oh frelling gods.      

 Diane in MN wrote:

I don’t think you could have written a better ending for Sunshine,

 Thank you!  Again, this is (of course) the sort of thing an author always likes to hear . . .  but the ending of SUNSHINE works.  There’s always stuff in a story that you-the-author think works better or worse–in my case the stuff that works the best always feels given, and the stuff I’m the least certain about is anything I had to take a conscious, figuring-it-out sort of hand in making:  perhaps a little like the difference between having instructions in a language you can understand for your beautiful shiny new board game with the fabulous-looking paraphernalia . . . and having to create a game out of this board and these pieces and these funny piles of tokens and punch-out and fold-out bits. . . .   You’re pretty sure that if the instructions ever show up or get translated they won’t look a whole lot like what you’ve done.

            I knew about the final confrontation and the jackknife in SUNSHINE very early on–I did not know about the goddess of pain till comparatively late in proceedings, and therefore didn’t understand why the confrontation that would include the jackknife felt quite so formidable*–and I knew that after that Sunshine would take Con back to her house for a debriefing of sorts that would see her skating very near the edge of breakdown.  And I knew that the end would be very ‘open’ and undecided.  And I knew, because I’ve been getting complaints from readers since BEAUTY, for pity’s sake, which I would have said had as tidied-up an ending as anyone could want, that the undecidedness would not make everyone happy.  But–I probably shouldn’t be admitting this on a public blog–while the skating-near-a-breakdown part of that last scene was difficult to get in balance, when I got to the very end, the last few paragraphs of the book, I had one of those chills-up-the-spine yesssss moments.  That ending works.  And I–I really should have been old enough to know better–assumed that it would be obvious to readers that it works.  That while a lot of people might want to throw old potato peelings at me and scream BUT WHAT HAPPENED?, they’d be half-laughing, because they’d see that I’d got them–the story had got them–and got them fairly. 

but even if you’d chosen to write a more definitive one, you probably wouldn’t have satisfied [all] readers . . . who seem to want their own preconceptions realized, period.

Siiiiiigh.  Which is something that after over thirty years in the business of telling stories for cash, I still can’t resign myself to.  It’s a particularly fret-making subheading under ‘you can’t please everyone’.   I don’t like it when people tell me this or that of my books doesn’t work for them** but not every book is going to work for every reader, even every going-into-it-with-the-right-attitude, likes-your-work reader.  That’s life.  Buy a beer to weep into, and then get on with it.  What I can’t deal with at all is the people who say You Have to Do This.  Um.  No.  I don’t.  You are not my mother, my headmistress, or my boss.  Nor do you have a monopoly on anyone’s decision-making process but your own.  Unless you are someone’s mother, headmistress, or boss, in which case I feel deeply for your children, your students, and your employees. 

Mrs Redboots wrote:

What I want to know is how people think anybody can write anything if they don’t have a life? You need something to write against – if you just sat in front of the computer 24/7 waiting for the Story Council to dictate, they wouldn’t.  I know my own writing . . . comes out of the rest of my life and the skating and knitting and reading and travelling. . . .

 Well yes!  –although I would prefer to say something to write from.  Having a life–although I and most of my friends tend to commiserate with each other about not having lives because we’re too busy doing things–is necessary compost for the roses and the deadly nightshade to spring from.  Life reminds me a lot of, uh, research.  I do quite a lot of reading up on various more or less relevant things either before or during the writing of a given story . . . if .0001% of it actually shows up in the story, that’s unusual.  I know I’ve mentioned learning the basics of hand-spinning while I was writing SPINDLE’S END;  and at least there are bees in CHALICE after the shelves of bee-books I read, but they’re magical bees and don’t appear in the how-to, history-of books.  And have I told you about reading up on the Sioux/Lakota group of Native American languages while I was writing DRAGONHAVEN?  There’s something like one word of Arkhola in the final DRAGONHAVEN.  (No, Arkhola and the Arkholas do not exist, except in the world with the Makepeace Institute of Integrated Dragon Studies in it.)  You don’t notice the compost, but I believe you recognise the strength of what’s growing out of it.


And may I just add that, until I started reading your blog and heard the tales, it never even crossed my mind that Sunshine might have a sequel? It ends! It ends beautifully! Of course I’d love to know what happens in the world after that. That’s what MY imagination is for. . . .Every time I read it my mind wanders down a different track of possibility.. . .But, more often than not, I don’t imagine anything else. I just revel in the . . . book I just read and the story I was able to lose myself in so thoroughly for those two hours. THAT’S what I want from an author. A well-told tale in which I get to take part.

 YAAAAAY.  Yes!  Exactly!  (Also thank you!)  YESSSSSSS.  –I agree as a reader too, which again is part of why I’m so bemused by readers who seem to think both authors and stories should show up at the coal-face Monday morning at 7 am sharp with their hair brushed and their boots polished, ready for orders. 

(Er . . . you can read SUNSHINE in two hours?!?) 


Omigod, YES! Yes, and yes again, and yes, (bad word omitted) twice more with feeling. Lots and lots of feeling.

A ton of work was interrupted yesterday by someone who thought I would appreciate his finding an error on a map I drew 20-something years ago

Well, at least you drew maps.  I’m still getting furious letters from people about the extreme unbroken maplessness of the McKinley multiverse.  

(in a book where someone else put the labels on because they didn’t like my printing style), and then suggested that I should not only draw a new map (which I’m doing at editor’s request) but draw detailed little maps of everything that ever confused him in all the books in that story-universe. 

Possibly my favourite of this kind of anal compulsiveness is the teacher who sent a list of every grammatical error in SWORD, shortly after it was a Newbery Honor book.  She had no time for either the fact that it is colloquially written or that all the outright ‘errors’–as opposed to, hmm, casualnesses–were in dialogue, which is to say how people speak.

            Since we didn’t get one about HERO she must have retired shortly after.  And I hope she and her collection of 19th-century Bavarian gerunds are very happy together.

  I’ve had con-chairs furious that I didn’t get back to them within the hour (um…I wasn’t home to get the message, and no, I don’t carry communications equipment with me to go to the grocery store down the road.)

 . . . This was no doubt before the era of the BlackBerry.  (That’s a joke.)  I am in the interesting position that in fact I do carry my RaspBerry around with me pretty much all the time, but the phone/wireless is turned off.  I don’t know how to pick up my email on it and I don’t want to know, I haven’t a clue about texting, and I tell people who want my mobile number that I haven’t got a mobile.  And . . . I think people who are checking their palm-screens while they’re standing in the queue at the grocery down the road are the ones with the priority problem, not us. 

 I’m particularly glad Neil (and you) nailed the “I bought your book so I own your life and you owe me all the attention I want” attitude.

And the ‘you should be grateful to your readers’ rant?  You know that one?  Well, yes, of course I’m grateful to my readers.  If readers didn’t buy my books I’d have to get a normal job, and I’m pretty sure I’m unemployable. ***  But the you should be grateful rant is usually in response to something like my Author as Bitch from Hell or There Is No Sequel to SUNSHINE wherein I am having the effrontery to object to certain reader behaviour–including demands for free books.  I always enjoy those. 

There are fresh green beans in the garden. I “wasted” a half hour this morning picking them and munching a few raw.

 You selfish cow.  I’m appalled. 

 I don’t care; I was going bonkers after not being outside enough all week . . . I let the problems with last night’s choir practice rise up enough so I now know which measure I need to work on (it’s an Ireland anthem, hideously late-Victorian, but with some interesting if ugly half-ton skidding dissonances. I’ve got them all but one.)

 Oooh.  I might like it.

And some of the readers will be nipping my heels and trying to “make” me “make” the publisher put the book out sooner. And the story won’t be the way they imagined it should be, and so forth.

 Yep.  Although isn’t the most discouraging thing the way these people stick in the mind–and the flesh:  I swear my erratic eczema is worse when, for example, I’m having a bad run of SUNSHINE-sequel demands–and all the nice, the thoughtful, the encouraging, the why-I-can-get-out-of-bed-in-the-morning-and-face-the-computer-again† readers, fade into a soft pleasant background cloud?

(Sorry–but reading what someone said to you about a sequel and then Neil’s post completely blew the control valve…)

 We could start a club. . . . 

That would be half-TONE skidding dissonances, not half-ton ones. For half-ton dissonances you want Britten’s “Festival Te Deum” or that awful thing of Walton’s we have to sing once a year.

Says the Mozart addict. With (reluctant) apologies to those who love singing Britten or Walton…to each her own throat-lozenges.

. . . All right, all right, very off topic, but too good to miss.  (There were several comments on the half-ton dissonances in the forum.)  I don’t sing, so maybe that’s my excuse that I can afford to love Britten.  His Little Musgrave and Lady Barnard is one of the most thrilling pieces of choral music I have ever not heard a good performance of.  Sigh.   (And I’m a Mozart addict too.


The really frustrating thing is that, the way publishing works nowadays, there is no guarantee that Book 1 of a trilogy will still be in print when Book 3 is finally out.

Yes.  This is one of publishing’s most unforgivable sins. 

 Worse, there are libraries that randomly discard the beginning of a series while I am still waiting for its completion.

 Aaaugh.  I suppose that’s inevitable . . . but it instantly becomes one of the library’s most unforgivable sins. 

One result is that there are some lonely books glaring at me from the shelves, awaiting companions that may or may not appear. Another is that some epics that might have been just my cup of tea are missed entirely, because I’m NOT going to buy on speculation unless I already have faith in the author. (I promise I’ll buy Pegasus though! Even if it has to glare at me for years and years.) 

No, really, it’s not like that–PEGASUS is one book that I’ve (necessarily) lopped in two.  Book two isn’t a sequel–it’s more like Part Two.  It’s just in separate covers!  (Oh, gods, and it’ll need a title!)  And I promise I’ll keep going on Part Two as soon as I get Part One turned in!  Eeeeep!  We still have to hope that my editor likes it–and that a roc doesn’t swoop down and steal both memory sticks and both computers with Part Two on them!  (Yes, I do back up!  But a roc could easily swallow several computers!) 


When I first finished Sunshine, I remember hoping there would be a sequel. At the time, I felt as if the ending of the book almost screamed, “my story is not done yet!”

But since then . . . I’ve come to realize that, perhaps, some of my reasoning was due to the sad attitude that, if the book was good, the author must make a sequel. Even if the sequel or the third book or the fourth book or the 100th book stink because the author really shouldn’t have kept writing it. But so many authors satisfy readers with another book, readers have come to expect everyone to keep writing about the same story.

 Yes.  And remember that while some of those authors are just churning ’em out for money and couldn’t care less . . . most of those authors are churning them out for money because they need the money.  Writing is a rotten way to earn a living.  Most of us grasp at fashionable straws to stay in print:  and sequels and series are fashionable.  (Some fortunate authors just naturally write well in series.)  I’m one of the lucky few who manage to write one-offs and still earn a living.  Mostly.  But I’m not doing any more major house remodelling in the next sixteen decades

Now, as I have been following this blog, I have learned more about one of my favorite author’s storytelling gifts and perspectives about sequels. Why would I want to demand something that is not in the author’s power currently to give? 

Very sensible (and comforting-to-the-author) of you.  Although you can want anything you like.  I want to be able to eat as much chocolate as I like without gaining any weight or breaking out in spots.  It’s not going to happen.  It’s when people turn their wanting into permission to demand–into entitlement–that the problems begin.  Which is where we came in.

 And if nothing else I wanted to write another Entitlement blog so I could be sure to give you this link, for anyone who doesn’t read the forum:


Not only did your earlier post send me into bouncing-on-the-chair agreement, but it motivated me to post on the topic in my LiveJournal. For those who want to see yet another writer weigh in on this:

* * *

 * Anybody wishing to make comments, please remember:  no spoilers.  We can’t guarantee that everybody who reads this blog has read SUNSHINE. 

** And frankly they could keep it to themselves.  There are maybe six people on the planet who understand me and/or my work and/or what I’m trying to do well enough to make helpful suggestions about what I could do to make something read better.  Maybe there are twelve, and I haven’t met six of them yet.  But there aren’t more than that.  Other people sticking their oar in only arouse in me a strong desire to snap it off and make them eat it. 

*** Now that hellhound digestion is steadying down I’m starting to have fantasies about finishing homeopathy college after all.  I still have a handful of clients because they won’t go away, and occasionally they send me someone new, and I could do more of that for, like, money.  Although I am once again displaying my great gift for lighting on an incredibly difficult and obsessively absorbing free lance profession that pays garbage. 

† Even when I have three days to finish the final ten pages of the second draft of a novel when I’ve been averaging one page a week for the last fortnight.




            Then I walked hellhounds in the rain, which made neither hellhounds nor me happy.**

            Then I worked on PEGASUS for a while.  I produced an entirely new scene, and got no nearer the end of the second draft.

            . . . And I am now back from . . . ahem . . . over four hours of bell ringing.  Yes, it’s perfectly true you can spend days doing nothing but bell ringing*** but you don’t generally agree to extra ringing when you have an overdue novel on your hands.  Yes, well, I didn’t realise I was about to have an overdue novel on my hands when a tower ringer at a tower practise turned to Niall–whom I had the misfortune to be standing next to, since he’d given me a ride–and asked if he could please put a band together to ring handbells for her nephew’s wedding?

            Niall said, certainly, and, without missing a beat, turned to me, and said, write it in your diary.  –What could I do?  I might have had to walk home.

            I have done a lot of useless kicking and screaming about this handbell wedding since but one relevant truth, as I have mentioned here upon occasion, is that this is a lousy area for handbell ringers . . . and most of them were already busy on the 6th of June.†  And, as I keep saying, I owe Niall††, and–lone cranky free lance that I am, and short on team experience–I’ve begun to think that the whole bonging edifice of bell-ringing depends as much on ringers feeling obligated by all the time other ringers have put into training them as it does on ringers liking ringing. 

            So.  This handbell wedding.  There were supposed to be four of us.  Then one dropped out due to a flare-up of old back trouble.  And then our third cancelled a practise.  She what?  We need all the practise we can get.  Niall said something about having to pick up a dog.  But he managed to coerce her into agreeing to a make-up practise today, but we were going to have to have it at her house. . . .

            What had happened, she explained, was that she wanted a Greater Frelling Terrier, and it turns out that Greater Frelling Terriers are rare, and there are only about six registered breeders in Britain.  So she’d found a litter, and the breeder had promised her whichever one of the two boys she (the breeder) decided not to keep . . . and then decided to keep both of them.  So Darcy got on the phone on the–as she said–extremely off chance one of the other breeders had a puppy to spare . . . and found one.  Huzzahs.  Darcy said, fine, I’ll take him . . . and drove up the next day and collected the beggar, just in case this breeder decided in an absent-minded moment to give him to a band of wandering minstrels.

            The problem is that she now has a puppy††† a month earlier than planned.  I was scheduled for a puppy the end of June, not the beginning! she said.

            He’s coming with us to the wedding.  In his little red carrying crate.

            An obvious lead-in for some more puppy photos from b-twin. 

* * *

* Er, why? 

** But at least I can stop complaining about watering the garden for a day or two.  And Souvenir’s raincoat is holding.  Although if it rains for very long, the sauna effect will produce the same result as just leaving her to get rained on would have.  But it’s supposed to clear up tomorrow. 

*** People plan holidays around the presence of towers they want to ring at!  Colin organises a ten-day bell tour every spring for like minded idio–afficionados! 

Suuuuuuuure they were already busy.    

†† I owe him a good swift punch in the nose.  I can now ring touches of Stedman (sometimes) and I can treble bob (sometimes), I really must get on with learning Cambridge inside–Niall says.  We went to Colin’s tower practise on Monday and got there ten minutes early.  You could look at the line for Cambridge while we’re waiting, Niall said helpfully.

 ††† A small handful of adorable, fluffy, nine-week-old puppy

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