September 24, 2012

Yet Another Announcement*


Even I admit this pales in comparison to getting SHADOWS sent in and the decision on who is to be my bull terrier puppy** but it’s still big news to me:   


Last Wednesday week** at practise, and entirely out of nowhere, I had two different people say to me, perhaps not quite in these words, you’re here all the time, why don’t you frelling JOIN?  The first one, Landon, hadn’t realised I’d quit New Arcadia—well I’m not ringing at the abbey Sunday mornings so I might very well be ringing at New Arcadia, except that I’m not.  And I said, I’d love to join, but I’m not really abbey material, and he said on the contrary, you keep showing up, we need ringers, and as you know perfectly well you’re not the only sub-Doohickey Dingdong Frabjous Super-Maximus ringer in the band.  Um, I said.† 

            But only a few minutes later Pardulfo got up on the big tenor box†† to exhort us to vote in the abbey council elections, because bell ringers are under-represented in abbey council deliberations.  All you regular visitors! he said.  You should join.  And then he looked straight at me, and said, You!  You should join!

            Eeep, I said.  Certainly.  Happy to.  Er—how?

            I’ll email you the paperwork, he said.

            And then he didn’t.

            A week went by.  I sighed a lot.  Last Wednesday practise I sidled up to Pardulfo and said, um, you were going to send me the paperwork about joining the band—?

            He looked stricken, and rushed off to consult the tower captain who—I thought, watching, while standing in the middle of that FRELLING GIGANTIC BALLROOM FLOOR and feeling about two inches tall—looked at me and the expression that crossed his face might politely be described as nonplussed. 

            Oh well, I thought.

            He did send me the paperwork the next morning.  But it was all about getting put on the abbey rolls††† and voting in the elections and nothing about being accepted as a tower ringer.  Oh well, I thought again, and, elections being imminent, printed everything out, filled in the forms and posted them that afternoon.  Brooded for a bit, and then emailed my putative future tower captain back, saying that I’d done as instructed, but my real goal was to join the tower, and there must be some further document involved.

            He didn’t answer.

            OH WELL.

            . . . And then over the weekend I discovered the self-addressed stamped envelope you’re supposed to include to receive the postal voting form still on my desk at the cottage.  ARRRRRRRRRRRRGH.  Since I’m trying hard to be a good doobie here, which does NOT come easily, I decided I’d go in today‡ and vote in person.‡‡  Shining with prospective virtue, I turned my computer on this morning . . . and there was an email from the abbey tower captain, welcoming me as a member of the band, and wishing me many happy years ringing with them. 

             So I also went to evensong after voting and stuffed a little money in the ‘retiring collection’‡‡‡ as a thank you. §

             I HAVE A HOME TOWER AGAIN. §§ 

* * *

* These things go in threes, right? 

**  With thanks to Peter for finding in a silly-item-round-up in the GUARDIAN of all places. 

*** So two Wednesdays ago 

† They rang Cambridge surprise major on Sunday, and I went to stand by the treble and watch.  The treble does something called treble bobbing for—well, all the surprise methods I know about, it wouldn’t, ahem, surprise me if there were exceptions—and while I can treble to surprise minor (six bells) trebling to major (eight bells) requires that you count higher and dodge more times and seven, as you’re counting your place in the row rhythmically to yourself, has two syllables.  One-two-three-four-five-six-SVN-eight.  I’ve never trebled to surprise major but anywhere but the frelling abbey I might, at this point, have a reasonable shot at it.^  But ring Cambridge major inside, when I can barely limp through a plain course of minor on a very good day?  Forget it.

            Wild Robert, on the three, said, Never mind the treble.  Come stand by me.  

^ Maybe I’ll ask to try it some time at Fustian, if all continues to go well there.    

†† Big tenor bells tend to have big tenor boxes for the ringer to stand on.  He, or she, is less likely to get enmeshed in the 1,000,000,000 miles of rope to go around a big tenor wheel, when the ringer is above floor level.  The abbey’s tenor is humungous, so the box is correspondingly humungous.  

†††  I noticed they want all your details which no doubt means I’m going to be harangued for donations for the rest of my life.  But it takes oceans of money to keep something the size of the abbey not merely open for business, but the walls vertical and the roof nailed on—and yes I think it should be kept alive and running so, fine, whatever. 

‡ And possibly stop at the knitting store for a pair of 7 mm needles.  I used to reject automatically all patterns calling for any needle smaller than 4 mm because I’m still too twitchy a knitter to deal with anything that finger-tanglingly teeny.  But since I have yet to get gauge on anything smaller than one or two or even three needle sizes larger than suggested my attitude has changed.  It is of course possible that now that I’ve FINALLY GOT SHADOWS TURNED IN^ my knitting will LOOSEN UP A LITTLE.^^  

^ Even if I’m still working on it   

^^ Although not, please fate, in the middle of anything I’m knitting right now.  

‡‡ And it’s a good thing I did, since they had no record of me or any of those painstakingly filled-in forms.  By which we learn that however lofty the abbey spiritual attainments, bureaucracy rules there too in its usual bumbling fashion, down here at grub level. 

‡‡‡ Ah, the British.  In America, you go to church, some body passes a plate while you’re still trapped in a pew, and glares at you.  All right, I have attended C of E services where they pass a plate—or, more often, a little bag, the better to disguise how much or how little you’re putting in it—but in this case there was a discreet tray at a tactful distance from the exit from the small enclosed area where the service was held into the vaster territory of the abbey generally and it would have been easy to miss it.  

§ The bell tower, after all, is part of the fabric of this ginormous churchy building that needs to be kept upright and working, and our membership dues are pathetic and, furthermore, some organising body—and I am embarrassingly uncertain whether it’s the C of E admin or the central bell council admin—will pay it for you if you don’t jump in the breach and wave money.  

§§ I have really hated being ‘unattached’ as it’s called.  Makes me feel utterly lost and alone in a hostile universe^.  Bellringing is a team activity.  You need to belong somewhere, even if you ring elsewhere too. 

^ Just like the SWD, although I don’t tell sad stories of the death of kings with my tail much.+ 

+ Note that Kes does not share my allergy to Shakespeare.


The Most Beautiful Puppy in the Universe


And the most desirable.  I will have to beat people away with sticks when I take her into town* because everyone will want her.  And she’s MINE.  MINE.


Pavlova. Mine.

It’s been pretty funny watching Olivia worrying about which puppy I should have.  I’ve told you these are all mega-show-quality puppies so first choice goes to mega-show-quality bull terrier people**, and I’m standing humbly in a corner, hat in hand***, waiting for whoever is deemed to be the dregs.  Simultaneously Olivia wants me to have the quiet one, supposing there is a quiet one in a litter of bull terriers, although since you probably want the sparkly outgoing one(s) to catch the judge’s eye at Crufts there is some hope that if there’s anything resembling placid I might get it. 

            But the other thing has been that Olivia has been terrified that I might not bond with a puppy I was simply presented with rather than allowed to choose, although she and Southdowner never were going to let me choose because I am a poor sad clueless vulnerable bull terrier neophyte and I couldn’t be trusted not to choose the puppy that was clearly going to grow up to be The Thing That Ate Schenectady.  Olivia also knew that I had an early crush on Fruitcake but I was not going to be allowed to have a boy for my first bull terrier.  So of course I was already going to be sulking about whichever little unwanted girl was vouchsafed me.  —Are you kidding?  I have been trying to tell both Olivia and Southdowner that I will instantly recognise my reject as actually the best puppy in the litter whom all the experts (including Olivia and Southdowner) were too stupid to recognise, that I will bond with her INSTANTLY and that in a year or two† I won’t be able to imagine that I could have ended up with anyone else.††

            So Olivia told me a few days ago, trying to sound confident and decisive, that my puppy was going to be Pavlova.  Great, I said, and I could frelling feel all my brain cells immediately realigning to crown Pavlova Queen of All.  And furthermore, Olivia went on, Southdowner is going to be making a swing through in this general direction today†††, dropping off Croissant for a few hours with her future person, and she could come through here and leave Pavlova with me ditto.

            This is, I have to say, a transparent ruse to get Southdowner involved with introducing Pavlova to the hellhounds and vice versa.  Pavlova was fine with the hellhounds.  Hellhounds, I admit, were totally traumatised by three puppies, even if they were only expected to meet one of them, but in my vague, I-find-the-weirdest-things-not-to-worry-about-or-maybe-it’s-just-I’m-still-not-quite-done-with-SHADOWS way, I was not expecting major eruptions and they weren’t . . . major.  But there was a good deal of drama-queendom in the kitchen at Third House while the puppies gambolled and said, oh, neato, new territory! and the hellhounds said, Nooooooooooo, make it go awaaaaaaaay.‡  I had no idea Chaos could make a noise like that. 

            But we moved down to the mews after the initial shocking confrontation‡‡ and some lowering of the anguish level was discernable.  Darkness went so far as to get up on the sofa between two people holding puppies, lie down, and at least pretend to go to sleep.  It was noticeable that he had his butt to me and his head tucked behind Southdowner’s back . . . but he was on the sofa.  Chaos continued to moan in corners like an unquiet ghost. 

            Southdowner and puppies left again tonight and you never saw two more crashed-out hellhounds.  I feel a little unhinged myself.  But . . . MINE.  MINE.  

The fatuousness. And the adoreableness.

 * * *

* Which I will be doing a lot because you want to socialise your puppy anyway but Olivia and Southdowner have truly put the fear of God in me and I’m convinced that if you let your guard down for an instant the nicest, sweetest, most amenable bull terrier morphs into Bruce Banner in a bad mood and THEN. . . . 

            So we’ll be going to Mauncester a lot, possibly Zigguraton and . . . possibly bell ringing.  Well, there are bell ringing dogs.  Glaciation is not only out in the middle of nowhere^ it’s a ground floor ring.  Since I’ll have to lock her up in her carrier while I’m ringing I don’t want any more kit to schlep any farther than I have to, and I can give her a bit of a walk around before/after without worrying about what we might meet.^^ 

^ It’s one of these Strange English Land Usage Traditions.  It’s a public church, but it’s in the middle of a vast piece of private park land owned by some grandee.  You drive forever from the front gate, winding around over little rivers and watching the deer bound away in the distance.  Gaaah.  

^^ I’m sure she’d be thrilled by deer.  However my hand-brake reflexes are very well honed by six years with hellhounds.+ 

+ And sixteen of whippets before that, but whippets don’t weigh nearly as much.  Hellhounds, like whippets, can reach pretty close to top speed in the 26 feet or so of extending lead—but with hellhounds if you fail to hit the brake in time they will knock you over when they hit the end . . . and long term readers of this blog don’t have to ask how I know this.  Bull terriers don’t have the blistering speed but . . . they’re bull terriers.  They go through things.  Brick walls, armoured tanks, the ends of extending leads SPROINNNNGGGGGG, semi-attached human optional.# 

# There have been moments these last few weeks when I’ve thought Olivia and Southdowner were trying to talk me out of getting my first bull terrier.

** Carefully vetted for giving them lives as dogs.  Southdowner has been known to turn down serious money from people who want a furry winning machine.  

*** So to speak.  Not being a hat wearer much. 

Assuming survival of puppyhood.  I’m not worried about her surviving, I’m worried about the hellhounds and me. 

†† And when Olivia or Southdowner shows me photos of a littermate winning Best in Show at the Intergalactic Dog Trials I will try to appear happy and enthusiastic and not make it too obvious that I know a better dog.  

††† She’s got family down here somewhere.  She stops in New Arcadia when she can. 

‡ And as Southdowner pointed out after I said ‘hey guys’ to the puppies and Darkness leaped over the waist-high half-door blocking the way into the Third House kitchen because I was calling him, I will need a non-hellhound-reactive call for Pavlova.   I was embarrassed at the time—first rule (as Maggie says early in SHADOWS):  if your dog does something wrong it’s your fault—but in fact once she’s a member of the home pack, she’ll become ‘hey guys’ inclusive.  But she will need her own call name.  Life at present is a trifle complex because she has the name that Olivia uses, Pavlova that I use here^, and her ridiculous registry name. . . . But she still doesn’t have the name she’s going to have to learn to answer to.  But now that I know who I’m naming . . . 

^ ‘Chaos, Darkness and . . . Pavlova’?  Hmmmm. 

‡‡ And I went bell ringing.  Wild Robert was there, and I asked if Nadia’s baby was learning to play the piano yet (no) and told him I was getting a puppy and he said, oh, that’s nice, that’s like having a baby except all your shoes get eaten too.

Shortening Maggie and lengthening Kes


I’ve spent the day trying to rip superfluous paragraphs out of SHADOWS and being glad to have the opportunity to think/feel that Maggie’s voice sounds pretty much the way I hear her when I’m trying to write her story.  She’s a very articulate senior in high school but in her sixty-year-old chronicler’s defense, she reads an awful lot and (as the sixty-year-old chronicler knows) this does tend to show. 

            I haven’t written two stories at the same time before—at least not as intensively as I’ve been doing with SHADOWS and KES the last five months.  And there are some disconcerting parallels.  They’re both told in first person.  They’re both alt-modern-America.  Each heroine has a crucial dog.  There’s a gigantic truck-like vehicle also crucial to the story in both.  I don’t (fortunately) feel this is the Story Council getting bored with my limitations.  As I’ve said in one form or another many times, the story is the story, but to get itself down on paper* it can only use the tools it has available.  Writer as toolbox.  I know enough critters that I might be able to wing it about a critter I don’t know** but a story trying to find the means in McKinley to bolt together a serial murderer with a Portmeirion pottery fetish, an alcoholic ex-policeman who collects Altair 8800s and a runaway schizophrenic heiress with a suitcase full of gelignite would have a nervous breakdown.***   I could also comment that both Maggie and Kes think they’re totally boring and ordinary but that’s just part of the checklist for a McKinley heroine and not really worth picking out.  Like that Maggie could grow up to be a lot like Kes.  Kes might even grow old to be a lot like me.   Except that she’ll have had the leaping-tall-buildings-at-a-single-bound experience at some point.  Sigh.


A mechanical gremlin that plays with a bowl of nuts and bolts and odd bits. I love Serena’s workshop more and more. 


Can I just move into this story and have done with it? 


Cath, you’d have to move back to the States to live in Kes’ world. With real winters. 


I would venture to guess that I am not the only one who wishes she were living Kes’ life, stress and all right now. Or at least that New Iceland was a place I could go live in? And eat at that magical everything-is-amazing diner? And move into Rose Manor? I’m sure things would look different to Kes from her point of view, but living her life right now sounds just about perfect. 

Yes.   Queue forms to the left.†  It does amuse me that so many of you are wallowing, er, appreciating the Kes-as-wish-fulfillment aspect too.  As far as I’m concerned it’s all about me.††  And even though I’m plugging in what-would-McKinley-do at any crossroad when the answer isn’t obvious, The Story Is Still the Story and mostly it has its own ideas, and the real winters are one of the things that comfort me about this life experienced, as it is, in southern England.  Even if all my frelling hobbies seem to be things I’m frelling pathetic at.††  Not being quite ordinary and boring is all very well but I hope Kes doesn’t turn out to be too good at too many things. 


How funny that Serena suggested Kes work in the bookstore.

I’ll be surprised if Kes doesn’t get entangled in the haunted bookstore somehow.  NO I DON’T KNOW EITHER.  But we’ll all find out.  Eventually. 


I absolutely want Flowerhair to come visit Rose Manor. Cantering up the driveway, possibly a slash or two at the vagrant undergrowth, and then looking up at the house and musing if there is a spare bedroom.

(There’s another spare room for Aldetruda too, isn’t there??) 

Totally.  And there’s at least one more loose MacFarquhar heroine.  We may have to get a bit creative about accommodations for the horse(s). 

            I don’t know that Kes is going to meet Flowerhair, exactly, but the borderlines between Kes’ reality and Kes’ fiction have already started to blur seriously.  You just haven’t read those eps yet.  Mwa hahahahahaha.  


I think maybe, without even having read them, I would be more a fan of Flowerhair than Aldetruda, but I could be wrong. But am a serious, thoroughly addicted fan of Kes and Serena and Gus and Rose Manor and the whole thing. WANT MORE. 

Oh good. 

            I think Aldetruda at the moment suffers mostly from insufficient exposure.  Although Flowerhair is high and Aldetruda is urban, so it does somewhat derive from your preferences in fantasy.  But KES is urban . . . and before SUNSHINE I had never much liked urban myself.‡ 

Have become a tiny bit confused . . . about why Kes would need to be taken back to the motel, instead of home to Rose Manor…did the truck break down? Did I miss something? 

She hasn’t moved yet.  Your perception of the passage of time when you’re only getting KES in 800-word snippets, and her writer-down has a serious problem with wandering off the topic, is warped.  This is only her second night in New Iceland.  It’s still only today that she saw Rose Manor for the first time.  She’s moving tomorrow.  


katinseattle wrote:  Now I need to learn to read slower. **sigh**

Or you can just start at the beginning and read them all again. I found I’d missed lots of small clues along the way. 

Yes, well, be careful about thinking those are clues.  I mostly don’t have the faintest, a story can be the most awful tease—and I’m only about ten eps ahead of you.  And this blog serial thing is a little outside the Story Council’s bailiwick too, at least the department I’m accustomed to dealing with.

            And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have an ep to finish writing, and then I am going to try to go to bed early because if the weather doesn’t turn too diabolical I may have a puppeeeeeeee visit tomorrow.‡‡ 

* * *

* Or facsimile.  I’m so tired of the terrible job of translating the medium that has been done on so many ebooks I’ve kind of gone off them for the moment.  I’ll still read them if e is the only medium is available, and they are useful when I’m STUCK SOMEWHERE and the only hard copy I have with me is the wrong thing.^  But knitting increasingly is the distraction of choice when it’s a dumb wait and I don’t know how long I’m going to be hung up.  I suppose it’s possible that some day I will have the willpower and the brain^^ to tackle a proper pattern with lace/cables/colourwork/intarsia/goblins, but in the meanwhile my blood pressure is very very very grateful for basic idiot stockinette and gentle little ribbing.       

^ The total brilliance of ebooks, as all of you know, whether you’ve succumbed to an ereader or not, is that you can have an entire LIBRARY to choose from on your Astarte equivalent.  I assume I’m not the only person who has had lifelong trouble deciding what exactly she’s going to want to be reading when in an airplane for ninety-six hours or whatever.  I take this slightly to extremes however.  What am I going to want to be reading standing in the check out queue at Sainsbury’s?  Depends on the queue.  Depends on whether they had organic broccoli.  Depends on whether I think I remembered accurately what didn’t get on my list.  Depends on if I saw a knitting magazine that appealed to me—and no, that doesn’t immediately answer the question.  I prefer reading my knitting magazines at home sitting next to the Aga which is keeping my cup of tea hot.  But having one in the basket while I’m waiting to pay and get out certainly has an effect on my mood.  

^^ . . . doubtful. 

** And of course have.  I don’t count pegasi or the Makepeace dragon sanctuary dragons as critters, but if there’s anyone out there who wants to challenge me on the subject of, say, foogits, it’s pistols at dawn, honeybun.   

*** So would I, of course.  

† Hope you brought lots of reading material.  And knitting. 

†† Although I never dated a Greek, let alone married him.  Nor have I ever found the ancient aphorism ‘it’s as easy to fall in love with a wealthy man as it is a poor one’ particularly true.  Although Gelasio wasn’t wealthy when he and Kes first got together.  And the thing about a lifestyle you can’t support is the shock when it ends.  There are going to be nights at Rose Manor when Kes really misses the Veuve Cliquot—and the account at the high-end wine shop on the corner of Broadway and Umpty Mumble.  

††† Frelling service ring at the frelling abbey tomorrow.  Frelling.  And Niall and I have a new handbell recruit AND SHE’S PICKING IT UP MUCH TOO FAST.  And let’s not even discuss my singing, after several months Nadia-free. 

‡ Buffy, yes.  And INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE.  But they were aberrations.  


^ Olivia, you’re not reading this, right?

KES, 44




The silky black rose-bush shadow took a couple of steps sideways as I approached the door, which was tactful of it.  This meant I didn’t have to wonder if it wanted my money or my life.  It.  It had feathering all along its belly and the streetlight, which left nothing to the imagination about screaming skulls, was not well-placed for illuminating the undercarriages of hairy black dogs.  I unlocked the door and began to open it.  And turned to look at the apparition.

            It lowered its head and its tail further.  It looked up at me through its eyelashes.  The very, very, very tip of its tail twitched pathetically.  It drooped.  It despaired.  It was all alone in a hostile universe.

            “They must adore you at the community playhouse,” I said.  “Not a dry eye and so forth.”

            It raised its head fractionally.  It moved one forefoot two-thirds of a micron forward, nearer me.  The tail twitched again.  The tail was epic.  It told sad stories of the death of kings.

            “You want to come in, don’t you?” I said.  “Stap me.  I am so screwed.  I bet the Friendly Campfire doesn’t allow pets.”  I walked through the door, leaving it open.  I flipped the light switch, dropped my knapsack on the bed (thud) and turned around.  She—when and how had I discovered she was a she?—was now standing in the doorway.  Her head had come up at least two microns.  Her ears were trying to prick.  The ecologically correct low-wattage light bulb in the ceiling lamp was doing pretty near zero for giving me a better look at her.  Black is very black at night.  I went over to the little table that had the welcome basket on it.  Fortunately it was only pretending to be a basket, and was made out of plastic.  I dumped its contents on the desk—an assortment of vile teabag tea in paper wrappers for that critical lack of freshness, tinfoil packets of instant coffee facsimile and hot chocolate I was willing to bet had no chocolate in it, Generic Hot Drink Whitener, white sugar, brown sugar, and Sugar Substitute of the Month Which Has No Calories But Will Give You The Interesting New Disease of the Year, Bleeding Ulcers and Dandruff.  Especially when ingested with Generic Hot Drink Whitener.  I rinsed the plastic basket out in the bathroom, filled it with water, and brought it gingerly back into the front room.  I set it down near the door.  “Thirsty?” I said.

            Her tail gave a definite if cautious wag.  She took two steps forward—which meant she was now half in and half out of cabin number seven of the Friendly Campfire Motel which probably didn’t allow animals—and lowered her head for a drink.  If this was the Silent Wonder Dog she was larger and hairier than I’d ordered.  Trust fate not to read the fine print. 

            She finished her drink, came the rest of the way into the cabin, and sat down.  I sat down on the bed so I was facing her.  We regarded each other. 

              Don’t do this at home, kids.

               Fleas, I thought.  Ticks.  Ringworm.  Lyme Disease.  Leptospira.  Probably not rabies.  You don’t generally get rabies in dogs unless you’re Old Yeller or live in Atticus Finch’s town.  Ringworm was bad enough.  Mom’s Ghastlies had picked it up at a dog show once and we’d all had it.

            The (possibly) Silent Wonder Dog stretched out her forelegs, little by little, till she was lying down in the classic New York City Library lion posture.  We continued to regard each other.  “You’re probably hungry, right?” I said.  “That is, after all, the purpose of humans, from a dog’s point of view, to provide food, so you don’t have to catch your own rabbits.  Or rats.  Or knock over your own garbage cans.  That’s what you’ve been training us for, the last forty thousand years.”

            The ears half-flattened and pricked again.  There was too much matted hair to tell a lot about her ears either—when I called her silky it was more a guess at what she ought to look like if her owner were taking proper care of her—but I thought they were long and dangly.  She had a long slim face and enormous black-brown eyes, and she was narrow for her height, and most of the height was leg.  Sighthound, I thought, but I’d need a better look at her in daylight.  This sounded like I was expecting her to be around when daylight came again.  O what a noble mind is here o’erthrown.

            She put her face on her paws.  She sighed.  There was a long tragic history in that sigh.  There’s rue for you, and here’s some for me.  Tra la la.  The raven himself is hoarse, that croaks the fatal entrance . . . no, wait.

            “I could call you Sarah Siddons,” I said.  “Sid.” 


Another announcement.


Yes.  The doodle factory has begun operations.

            I know you’re due a KES tonight but Blogmom tells me she’s already receiving wistful queries, in the wake of my turning SHADOWS in last Sunday night, about the likelihood of my getting back to doodling any time soonSince you’ve all been waiting a year, this is perfectly reasonable.*  So I thought I’d better deal with that first. 

            I’d been planning on waiting till the end of the week when I should be able to provide slightly more impressive desk-in-process photos.  It’s not, repeat not, that I didn’t hit the ‘send’ button and immediately swing around and look despairingly at what used to be my office and is now a kind of storage facility for homeless parcels.  It took me two days just to dig out.  Believe me when I say that I have thought of the bell auction backlog EVERY DAY, because my office has been effectively impassable for the same year you’ve been waiting for your doodles, and I’m not tidy to begin with.**

            I am so not doing this again.***  And for those of you who are puzzled at why I have been quite such a nugatory no-show about the whole affair†, the view from here goes like this:  The New Arcadia Bell Restoration Fund rolled into existence some time in early 2011.  I don’t remember exactly when the idea for the auction coalesced out of my overheated brain or when it seemed to me a good idea to add almost anything to the list that any of you out there expressed a willingness to spend money on . . . but I do remember that Blogmom was ready to set the thing up months before I pulled it together to send her what she needed. 

            And the reason I kept not pulling it together, aside from my general uselessness about almost anything practical, is . . . that PEGASUS II, due last summer, was showing an extreme unwillingness to be written.  In fact a total unwillingness to be written.  I wasted a lot of time refusing to believe this.  It wasn’t just my next book.  It was the frelling sequel†† to the book that ends on a cliffhanger so appalling that anything I can manage to do in KES looks like a mug of Maggie’s mum’s hot chocolate††† in comparison.‡  The prospect of merely not being able to afford to go on eating (nearly) paled in comparison with the horror of not finishing PEGASUS.  Finishing.  FINISHING.

            PEGASUS, which, as long-time blog readers know, started life as a short story for ELEMENTALS: AIR, wanted to be a trilogy?  Kill me.  Kill me now.

            So last August I set aside the semi-congealed, lumpy, overstuffed bungle that book two of the PEGASUS duology had become, and frantically began writing SHADOWS.‡‡  In the first place, I needed to keep eating.  In the second place, I couldn’t face telling Merrilee or my editor what had happened till I could honestly say that I was working on something else.  I whispered the dreaded ‘t’ word to Merrilee last September‡‡‡ and let her break it to my editor.

            The part I’m not telling you much about, and that I’m not going to tell you much about, is that I thought I really was going to get SHADOWS put through fairly quickly, but along about March this year a big fist of health/menopause/mind/heart/spirit stuff punched me hard, and EVERYTHING including SHADOWS   w e n t   i n t o   e x t r e m e   s l o o o o o o w   m o o o o o t i o n. . . .

            But things may be improving generally.  There is, for example, KES.  And I’ve sent SHADOWS in.§

            And the doodle factory went into production yesterday.  Watch this space.§§ 

* * *

* And leaving you to hang a little longer over the particular cliff at the end of KES 42 . . . pleases me, because I am the hellgoddess and, as blondviolinist pointed out on the forum, I enjoy your pain.  Mwa ha ha ha ha.

            Also, in the final crunch to finish SHADOWS^ I haven’t written any KES in a while, and I need to get on with that, I’m only a few eps ahead at the moment.  And just as much as you do I want to know what happens next, because KES, like everything else I’ve ever written, including cough-cough nonfiction^^, keeps surprising me.^^^  

^ EXCEPT I’M NOT RATBAGGING FINISHED.  I’ve spent the last two days cutting the freller—I cannot write short—and will be going on doing so for several more days yet.  Which is actually amazingly stressful.  Arrrgh.  

^^ Including this blog.  Which is mostly nonfiction, if of a perhaps slightly unusual kind. 

^^^ Which as every writer who has ever written anything worth reading has said in one form or another, is a good thing and a necessary thing.  A piece of writing you can order around, which is perfectly submissive to your fingers on the keyboard, is going to be dead and booooooring on the page. 

** I now also have a yarn problem.  At least this doesn’t require additional steel struts and granite pillars to shore up the weight-bearing floor.  

*** Yes, there will be a permanent doodle shop on the blog AFTER, REPEAT AFTER I fulfil the auction orders.  Did I say AFTER?  AFTER.  AAAAAAAAFTER. 

† I am a lifelong absent-minded disorganised dilettante who always believes she can do more than she can.^  But the overcommitted messes I get myself into are usually not this extreme. 

^ And I wonder why I’ve ended up with ME.  No, I don’t wonder all that much. 

†† I who never write sequels 

††† Have I mentioned that Maggie’s mum—I mean mom—makes the best hot chocolate? 

‡ Although I’ve had one or two really excellently cruel ideas about intercutting some of Flowerhair’s story. 

‡‡ The first twenty single-spaced pages of which have been sitting in a folder behind my desk for several years.  Almost nothing of said twenty pages remain, except the first-person high school girl narrator, and the short hairy guy from the Slav Commonwealth named Val whom she dislikes and distrusts on sight. 

‡‡‡ I knew there was something up with you, she said.  I just didn’t know what it was. 

§ Even if I’m still frelling tinkering with it.  Frelling

§§ The straightforward stuff first.  The one offs later. 

                One of the lesser wrong-going things last year was that I had a, er, stab at one of the auction knitting projects and promptly made a mess of that too, which was worse for morale than it should have been, first because my Secret Knitting Projects were all going the way of PEG II and second because I was beginning to pick up signs that in fact my money was not going to be welcome at the bell fund I thought I was raising it for.  This was very bad indeed for morale.  GAAAAH.  LIFE.  NO, IT’S NOT WHAT I HAD IN MIND.  DON’T YOU HAVE SOMETHING ELSE?

            Meanwhile, I am a whole year older in terms of knitting nous.  And I will turn out the auction knitty things with aplomb.  Just not this week.

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