September 26, 2013

Publication Day


I almost never drink any more and I am sloshed.  But in a good way.

There are some occasions when perfectly nice fizz won't do.  It must be CHAMPAGNE.

There are some occasions when perfectly nice fizz won’t do. It must be CHAMPAGNE.


CLINK.  Notice the dewy glasses.  I insist on my champagne being REALLY COLD.

CLINK. Notice the dewy glasses. I insist on my champagne being REALLY COLD.

I mean, the glasses are dewy.  It’s not just the photo is out of focus.  (You try taking a shot one-handed with your overspecified so-called point and shoot with the too many buttons while you’re clinking a champagne glass with the other.  Hand, I mean, not camera.  But the manual focus button takes a seventh or a ninety-sixth extra-jointed finger and the autofocus invariably chooses the wrong thing.)

Really serious brownie.  The only acceptable brownie for publication day.

Really serious brownie. The only acceptable brownie for a publication day.*

What else?  Who cares about what else?  Oh, all right, chicken liver pate and duck leg confit.  There was a little spinach hiding under the duck leg but as someone who spends most of her life 80% rabbit and eating mixing bowls full of raw salad every day nights like tonight are depraved.  After such debauchery what’s next?  Orgies?

Celebratory All Stars.

Celebratory All Stars.

There’s a time for lady shoes and there’s a time for celebratory All Stars.

ONE of those ridiculously teeny bottles was NOT ENOUGH.

ONE of those ridiculously teeny bottles was NOT ENOUGH.

Well so what’s a woman in major bliss-blast from her first hit of REAL champagne in yonks and yonks to do, especially when she has a gently smiling, enabling husband with a credit card sitting on the other side of the table?  (Who doesn’t actually like champagne all that well, had half a glass to be companionable and moved on to red wine.)  The wait staff whisked the first bottle away in a tidy and attentive manner and when we left and I was inebriated enough not to care I asked the nice young man who had been our chief server if he could by any chance FIND THE FIRST BOTTLE so I could take it home?  Peter had already tipped him, he didn’t lose anything by grinning so hard his face was distinctly beginning to crack at the ears . . . but he produced the desired empty.  I think it probably wasn’t hard to find, I doubt that your average village pub has a whole lot of call for baby Moets.  So three cheers that they have them at all.

I need to go to bed.  I need sleep.  I will then need lots of caffeine tomorrow morning:  Street Pastors Training Weekend #2 begins.

* * *

*  Peter had the vanilla ice cream.  Also, this is the token footnote so I don’t get complaints.


As I post this it’s already tomorrow. It’s ALREADY PUBLICATION DAY.


So, just in case anyone is vacillating about rushing out and buying a copy of SHADOWS or putting their name urgently on their library’s waiting list*, how about a couple more pages after what’s in the on-line sample (see left-hand side bar) as encouragement**:


I phoned Mom the next day after we were already most of the way to Longiron.  (In a house with five guys who were all machineheads, there were always spare cars.)  My excuse was that you didn’t ring the honeymoon couple early in the morning but I should have gone home first and taken Mongo for a walk.  But I was having trouble with the Mrs. Val concept and Mongo did occasionally miss his morning walk (now that he was a calm, mature adult dog) and all that meant was that I’d have to pick up the back yard as well as the sidewalk.  And we’d work extra-hard on herding at the shelter this afternoon to make up.  He probably wouldn’t do any worse indoors than eat a curtain.  He was still kind of a perpetual mouth machine.  I didn’t like the kitchen curtains much anyway.

The noise the car was making (some cars were past saving, even by Jill’s brothers) was a good excuse to keep the conversation short.  Mom sounded a little distracted, which was fine, and she agreed to give Mongo breakfast, and she and Val were going out in the afternoon, which was finer, because they wouldn’t be there when I got back.  The reprieve was only for a few hours, but I’d take what I could get.

The silverbugs were even more amazing than they’d been in June.  A big outbreak takes a while to reach its peak and the army posts observers to calculate when that’s going to be because that’s when they want to take it out.  The big zapper was just rolling off its flatbed transport when we arrived.  The area had been cordoned off with the orange-striped rope that meant “cobey units” to the rest of us—that and the big orange cobey logo on trucks and uniforms.  But there were quite a few people already in an advanced state of hilarity, which was probably the result of stamping too many silverbugs.  I recognised several kids from our class . . . including Eddie.  Which was probably why Jill parked on the far side of the green.

A mob of silverbugs tends to like an open space, which they’ll fill up like a gigantic swarm of glittering silver bees.  Longiron had a town green with a bandstand and a wishing well at one end and softball field taking up most of the rest.  The silverbugs were curled up, or maybe I mean spread out, over about three-quarters of the available area, hanging in the air like a kind of self-perpetuating firework only a lot more confusing.  I couldn’t look at a big silverbug display for long or I started getting sick and dizzy, but that first thirty seconds of staring was exhilarating in a way that was almost frightening—your mood rushed upward with the swirl of the silverbugs, and you felt like you were about to be told the ultimate secret of the universe, or at least how to fly by turning your feet into rocket blasters.  “Come on,” said Jill.  “Don’t sit here.  I’ll protect you,” meaning she wouldn’t let me step on any bugs.  Reluctantly I climbed out of the car, but I was having a kind of f-word moment myself, which was that Jill’s was bothering her.

We made our way slowly toward the orange rope.  There were other cars and other people, but they were mostly (sober) grownups on this side.  The bug center was toward the other end of the green from us—silverbugs like open areas, but they always collect off center.  They were looking rather galactic today, with long, slowly spinning arms like your science textbook’s artist’s conception of the Milky Way.  But the way the light reflected off them made me start to forget which way was up and which way was down. . . .

I looked away.  There was a tree and I put my hand on it.  I was seeing a kind of after-image, like a tiny checkerboard, where the black squares were pinholes into nowhere.  “I think I’d better go back to the car,” I said.

“I’ve seen enough too,” said Jill.

“You okay?” I said.  I’d’ve expected Jill to want to watch the light show a while longer.  When they turned the zapper on, the air would tighten up like your skin when you get goose bumps and then there were great jagged anti-flashes—I don’t know what else to call them, if you’ve never seen it, and lots of people in Newworld have never seen a silverbug mob—as the bugs popped or squished or whatever it was they did in great sweeping swathes.  (We’d been there when they turned it on at Hyderabad in June.  But our moms didn’t know that one of Jill’s brothers had also taken us to the last big outbreak in Birdhill four years ago.)  They were moving the zapper into position now.  I wanted to be back in the car when they flipped the switch.  The silverbugs that didn’t get zapped would dart out through the crowd of onlookers, almost like they were deliberately fleeing annihilation.  Almost like they were alive.

* * *

* If you talk enough of your friends into doing the same the library will buy more copies.

** Not to say electric cattle prod.

*** You’ll have to imagine the little origami header.  See?  You need to get your hands on a copy of this book.

Random goodness and badness


If the thrice-blasted hellhounds would eat their food,* I might be feeling almost cheerful.**  After a fairly disastrous practise last Wednesday, Sunday afternoon at Forza there were only six of us so we all had to ring all the time, I am, siiiiiiigh, better on six***, and being necessary is always good for morale.  Yesterday’s voice lesson went almost too well . . . although if I were normal it would just have been a good lesson, you know?  Arrrrrrgh.  After several traumatic, squeaky weeks when I’ve mainly been going in for Nadia to reset me, so I can sing at all, yesterday I went in with almost enough voice to do something with before Nadia winkled a little more of it out from under the bed or behind the piano or among the towels in the linen cupboard or wherever it is it hides with the result that once or twice I made a real noise and scared myself silly.†  Please.  I have voice lessons so I can learn to sing.  You know, better.  So I can become a singer a choir might actually want rather than grimly put up with.  So . . . I appear to make some progress and all of my body parts, especially the mind, morale and superego ones, go into full reverse:  no no no, we can’t have that, we can’t make a real noise.  Eeeeeep.  —In a minute I get to find out what is going to happen when I try to sing today, at home, without Nadia on winkle alert.  I can hardly frelling wait.

Also, there was that interesting delivery yesterday.

And then tonight I rang at Fustian†† and we were only six again—a different six, I hasten to add—and so all of us had to ring all the time and I wasn’t too bad.†††

So as not to interrupt this uncharacteristic glow of (relative) self-worth I thought I’d torture you with a few more non-responses to forum comments. . . .


“the thousand young of the Black Goat of the Woods”

I laughed so hard at this that I think I did myself an injury!

Once an H P Lovecraft reader, always scarred for life.  I admit I worry a little that Kes’ knowledge of pop culture is as dire as . . . um, mine.  Lovecraft, MR James, Tolkien and . . . Buffy.  Maybe I should hang out at Forbidden Planet more and pick up a smattering of current.


And me with no dog currently. <sigh>

Aww.  ::Hugs.::  Is it still too soon?  Are you waiting for the right dog to appear Almost As If By Magic?  Or are you investigating possible new breeds?

Libby Gorman

I was particularly pleased with the mention of “Oh Whistle and I’ll Come to You, My Lad,” since I had to read it last year for a YA lit course online. It’s great when you get to apply new knowledge!

YA?  MR James?  He must be spinning in his grave.  I’m sure he felt he saw quite enough of the little perishers in his day job.


Why turn off the engine? Scary things mean you NEVER turn off the car engine and get out!



Snork.  It all depends on your particular paranoia profile.  I did think about this but I’m a vehicle turner-offer, and as I’ve mentioned (many times) before, Kes is more nearly than usual one of my alternate-me heroines.  Unless she or the story demands otherwise (which in fact necessarily happens a lot) she reacts the way I would.  I’d turn Merry—or Wolfgang—off.  I’m much more worried that the handbrake will fail and the vehicle will RUN AWAY not merely leaving me STRANDED but probably self-destructing in collision with a Large Tree inconveniently near the road.  At least in a vehicle that won’t START you can roll up all the windows and stay inside.  In these days of mobile phones you can even ring for help.


You know, back when Kes was new, you used to post her twice a week. *wheedles* … maybe again??? You’ve got two month’s eps in the bag even at that rate, according to the evil chuckles a few blog-nights ago. Please? Just so your loyal fans don’t expire? It would work fine for ‘short Wednesdays’.

*hazza hopeful*

Back when the [KES] world was new I was ripping eps off faster too.  Now that the story has settled down and become a story I’m writing eps at more ordinary story-writing speed which is to say slow.‡  Also . . . I’m planning on taking at least a brief break when I get to the end of part one:  I have to think about presenting what we have so far in a manner that Merrilee can work with Toward Eventual Hard Copy.  I also want to take a deeeeeeep breath about which of several directions the story is going to plunge forward into in part two.  I should also focus on PEG II uninterrupted for a bit.  So the faster we get through the eps in hand the sooner you’re going to be KESless for a little while.

All of that said, I may very well give you the last few twice a week.  You’ll still want to kill me, but you’ll only want to kill me half as badly.  Presumably.

The WoobDog

[wordless howls of rage]

Yes, exactly.


What happens when a   twenty-five-hundred pound horse

I was astonished to see this number go by! I read it twice to make sure I wasn’t mistaken. Golly those are some big horses! I’m looking forward to seeing more of them (someday). I wonder if Kes ever ends up riding a horse…surely she must, I just hope she gets to start with a smaller one!

Remember these guys are supposed to be BIG.  These are great big horses carrying great big blokes.  If you figure a Shire, the biggest horse going, weighs in at around 3000 pounds—well, these are big burly weight-bearing slightly-sub-Shires.  As for Kes’ horse. . . .

Well, we have to end on a Mwa hahahahahahahaha, don’t we?  Mwa hahahahahahahahaha.

* * *

* We’re having a major food-is-the-enemy attack and it’s making me CRAAAAAAAAAZY.  Pav watches in astonishment from her crate and occasionally offers to deal with those distressing full bowls.^

^ Southdowner, reading this, with the potential prospect of showing a slim, svelte, unfashionable hellterror in a class of fashionable wobbly sausages on legs, is going yeah, yeah, great idea.  —I do understand the problem.  And if Southdowner does eventually talk me into this—I’m still resisting—there will be VIOLENCE from an owner with poor impulse control if Pav is marked down for not being a wobbly sausage on legs.

** Only almost.  I got my treatment plan from dentist from R’yleh today.  Moan.  I need a best-seller.  I need it NOW.  Buy some extra copies of SHADOWS for the cousin you haven’t spoken to in twenty years because peace offerings are good and the old friend who only reads FINANCIAL TIMES and clearly needs broader horizons and your colleague you never have anything to talk to about and your dog.  Especially your dog.

*** It’s still what I’m frelling USED TO.  I frelling joined Forza because it’s my best local chance to learn something more than the three or four basic five and six bell methods AND TO LEARN ANYTHING AT ALL ON SEVEN AND EIGHT BELLS.  But I am a very, very, very, very, very slow learner.

† I also suddenly went sharp.  Keeping to the wretched tune is not usually one of my biggest problems.  Nadia said, I don’t mind sharp.  Sharp means what you’re doing has suddenly become easier.  We can work with that.

†† After the Treatment Plan I REALLY NEEDED distraction.

††† Hey, I rang a touch of Stedman—only doubles, but even so—casually.  Devlin called for Stedman and I grabbed a rope—because I had to:  only six ringers—and he said, are you all right for singles?  Oh yes, I said, crisply, and not thinking about how I had duffed it up that gruesome night at New Arcadia^ a few weeks back when I couldn’t ring anything . . . and then tonight I rang my horrible coathanger single beautifully.  I should say again that the Fustian band is so deplorably superb that all you really have to do is NOT go horribly wrong and they’ll float you the rest of the way.  Still.  Stedman is Stedman and it counts.

^ I know.  My own fault for ringing there.

‡  SIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGH.  I’d write faster if I could.  I’d be delighted to write faster.  If I could.

Letting sleeping hellhounds lie






Do you ever have the feeling we're being, I don't know, WATCHED?

Do you ever have the feeling we’re being, I don’t know, WATCHED?


Oh . . . I suppose I might give it a try. . . . Right after I finish my nap.

Oh . . . I suppose I might give it a try. . . . Right after I finish my nap.


This is a VERY inadequate blanket.

This is a VERY inadequate blanket.





Oh yes, that's MUCH better.  Maybe a little nobbly though . . .

Oh yes, that’s MUCH better. Maybe a little nobbly though . . .







Oh, and how about fabulous little origami chapter head ornaments?  Yes?

Oh, and how about fabulous little origami chapter head ornaments? Yes?

So I had it all planned, what I was going to do this week, assuming that the BOOKS would arrive in time for some kind of Big Ta-Da on Thursday.  And then the books did arrive, um, today, and I totally LOST IT and had to POST IT RIGHT AWAY.  RIGHT NOW.  TODAY.*

And Peter and I are going out to dinner on the 26th.  I’ll take a photo of a glass of champagne, okay?


* * *

* And yes, Pav was going entirely mental while I was doing stuff to/with the hellhounds and not to/with her.  But it’s all in the prepositions.  I haven’t the energy to discuss posing politely accompanied by a book to/with a hellterror.  I was gardening with her this afternoon and then we swept the floor TOGETHER and . . . THAT’S ENOUGH.^

^ Also, recent photos have tended to favour the hellterror.  This imbalance must be redressed.

Pet blessing


The hellgoddess did what?

The hellgoddess did what?

Note rejected dinner.  Siiiiiiiigh. *

* * *

* There was a pet-blessing service at St Radegund today.^  Southdowner had been muttering about coming down again one of these weekends so I suggested this one and we could get blessed.  Of course there was then a whole Keystone Kops thing of signalless mobile phones and disappearing texts and one gang coming in the wrong door of the church as the other was exiting by some other seemingly door-like opening and so on.  But it all worked out eventually.

Because life is supposed to be complex^^ I was up too late last night reading another unexpectedly good book^^^ which is to say the beginning was eh and I was just dutifully reading a few more chapters before I threw it across the room and then—OH.  So I had to finish it.  Besides, there was a happy mostly-asleep hellterror in my lap.#

This meant that getting everyone hurtled and fed—especially since hellhounds are in a Not Eating## phase again—in time for me to hurtle off to ring at Forza for afternoon service today was a trifle more challenging than strictly desirable.  And then my usual car park was closed.  Curses.  I came panting up that last horrible flight of prehistoric stairs at last### and said to the assembled that I needed to leave a few minutes early because I wanted to go to a pet blessing service . . . and I could see everyone (not a pet owner in the lot) trying not to laugh.

And the car park I got Wolfgang into never has a mobile signal.  I don’t remember this from one emergency car park situation to the next, of course, because one of the reasons I like my usual car park is because it usually has a mobile signal.~

I ended up sending poor Southdowner about four messages, the original, a resend of the original, and one or two that were one letter each, which was me trying to juggle the beastly phone—and then a fifth one once I was home again saying ignore all previous, I’ll meet you at the church . . . and that one seems never to have arrived at all.

The hellhounds and I~~ got there and . . . no Southdowner.  Who was there however was the thrice-rat-frelling-blasted terrier that lives next door to Third House and craps in my driveway and who objects to our presence in our garden from his side of the fence.  And he RECOGNISED the hellhounds and there was near murder done—and the ruckus he was making set all the other dogs off . . . except my hellhounds who did their best bemused, disdainful ‘why are the peasants revolting’ shtick.  I retreated several pews further back—so we could see the terrier coming when he escaped his owner—and Darkness, bless his little cotton socks, lay down in the aisle with his back to the rest of the critters in the best nanny-nanny-boo-boo mime I’ve seen in a long time.  Chaos, however, was in full drama queen mode, staring at me with huge tragic eyes, making tiny pathetic noises deep in his throat and trying to creep for the door. . . .

We eventually found Southdowner, Ahab and Mississippi Mud Pie, aka Missy, Lavvy’s sister and Pav’s auntie, standing in front of the cottage—with Pav indoors making even more noise than that nasty little Jack Russell—and all six of us went off and deserted her ~~~. . . and went back to the church to see if our nice vicar was still there and he was and we got OUR VERY OWN PERSONAL BLESSING, which was particularly pleasing because I’m sure that nasty little terrier had blocked the first one from getting as far as the hellhounds and me.=

* * *

^ I’ve been to church—three different churches in fact—three times in the last twenty-four hours.  I’m such a wild thing.

^^ This is in the Scriptures somewhere.  I’m sure it is.  Give me a minute.

^^^ Yes, you’re right, it’s been way too long since my last book rec.

# Our last thing at night ritual needs work.  At the moment I’m sitting on the floor on spare dog bedding to protect my seatbones from Increasing Weight of Hellterror, next to the hellhound crate so that Chaos can be a part of whatever the deal is.  Darkness is delighted to be upstairs alone in the hellhound bed in my office but Chaos is pretty much attached at the hip.  My hip that is.+  After about an hour of this arrangement I can’t get up.

+ He will do anything for me but eat.

## With random geysering.  Sigh.

### They’re not just Neanderthal, they’re Neanderthal beta.

~ I remind myself that not that long ago mobiles hadn’t been invented yet.  True.  But in the first place you laid your plans more carefully in advance and in the second place when things went wrong nobody blamed you for not sending them a TEXT.

~~ No, no Pav.  I decided that more dogs than I had hands was not going to be a good idea on this occasion.  I was right.

~~~ It’s okay, we came back and took the three bullies up to Third House’s garden for a RAMPAGE and if the gods are kind+ we may have a Hellterror Rioting video later in the week.

+ And/or God the Parent tells them to behave

= It was the monks last night, and then of course I went to St Margaret’s tonight, where Maxine had had her observation night with the Street Pastors and it was WAY TOO EXCITING and I’ve changed my mind, I think my way into holiness and Christian community is knitting kneeler cushion covers. . . .

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