September 25, 2014

An attic full of books

THERE’S TOO MUCH GOING ON* including various bits of news** both good and bad that I haven’t entirely got my head around yet*** although when I do some of them will make it onto the blog.

Meanwhile I thought I might at least post some photos of an attic full of book boxes as requested by some strange person on the forum.



This is what greets you at the top of the stairs.   That’s the corner of my old double bed from Maine on the left, hard up against the end wall, pretending to be a Guest Room.  When I get it made up again it will be a very good place for Lying with the Hellmob.  The hellhounds and I had begun to explore this interesting possibility back when Third House was still Third House.  And a double bed is enough bigger than a sofa I may be able to trap the hellterror in place more effectively.

But this is what I mean about lack of impressiveness–although you may be dazzled by my colour sense–you’re looking at nineteen or twenty boxes wedged into that corner, but since you can only see the outside rows it’s a big meh.



You’re now standing with the bed behind you and the yellow filing cabinet to your left, looking down the length of the attic.  This is the long kitchen table, worth £1.79, built out of bits Peter had found in rubbish tips, that when we moved out of the old house I REFUSED TO GIVE UP.  And I was right.  It is perfect as a long skinny attic table.  That’s the notorious dormer window that has produced those interesting ceiling angles, some of which you can see.  And those are avocadoes on the window sill, in case you’re wondering, ripening in the sunlight that blasts in during the day.  If you peer into the murk to the far end of the attic you may just about be able to make out EMPTY SHELVES.  Yes.  I keep putting stuff on them and then taking it off again because how am I supposed to choose?  Although Peter’s 1,000,000,000 bound annuals of PUNCH take up a good deal of the space you can’t see, and my encyclopaedia will go on those shelves too when I find the rest of it.

And that architectural feature in the upper right-hand corner is the boxed-in, so to speak, chimney.  Why it has a sort of hoop skirt built out from it halfway down (or up) I have no idea, but all shelves to pile books and book boxes on are good shelves.



This is the left-hand far corner, so what is beyond the table on the same side of the attic.  And again . . . not so impressive.  But you’re looking at nearly thirty boxes you just can’t see most of them.  What you are seeing at the bottom of the picture in the open box is the limited edition illustrated ROSE DAUGHTER.




This is now behind the chimney.  Peter’s gazillion PUNCHES are immediately to your left;  the corner with the unimpressive thirty boxes is now behind you . . . more or less.  You’re a bit crowded back here.

I am particularly pleased with the table.  It’s one of the few pieces of furniture that came over with me from Maine, with the bed and the blue velvet sofa, and it was for the chop this move;  there was nowhere to put it.  I’m a little nostalgic about the stuff I brought over with me because barring the 1,000,000,000 books there isn’t a lot of it–and I did have to get rid of my baby grand piano.   This table has been sitting at the mews waiting for the axe to fall since like the kitchen table it isn’t worth anything BUT IT’S A PERFECTLY GOOD TABLE.  And then I thought, wait a minute, I can use it a Mediating Structure to make the wrangling of book boxes marginally less appalling.  So it’s shoved up against the back of the chimney and there are and/or will be stacks of two boxes below it and stacks of two boxes on top of it . . . instead of stacks of four boxes of books.  Hurrah.  Yessssss.



The view from above.  Just by the way, don’t get too excited by any labels you may see.  Most of them are wrong.  Well, most of the ones on Peter’s backlist are wrong.  My backlist, on the other hand, is 99% gorgeously and specifically accurate because I have a secret weapon named Fiona.



And, when appropriate, I get books out of their boxes and pile them interestingly in available gaps, available being another of those mutable concepts.  I’ve got a lot of Peter’s piled up on the chimney shelf just out of frame in the long shot of the ex-kitchen table.  And just by another way, I have no idea where SHADOWS is.  I haven’t seen it at all.  I hope it’s hiding somewhere at the cottage.



And because I am hopelessly neurotic, I’ve saved a few empty boxes . . . just in case I need them later.  Yes, that’s a sink on your right.  I have them piled in the loo because there isn’t anywhere else.

* * *

* Well how unusual

** No, no, not the kind you want

*** Although I HAD MY FIRST VOICE LESSON IN FOREVER on Monday YAAAAAAAY.  It wasn’t even as bad as feared^ but I still have a good deal of lost ground to make up.  AND BOTH MY PIANO AND I SOUND DIFFERENT IN THIRD HOUSE’S SITTING ROOM.

^ Although if it had been as bad as feared it would have involved alien abduction and earthquakes and a recount in Scotland that demonstrated that they’d left the UK after all, which leaves quite a lot of room for a voice lesson still to be pretty bad in.



Chicken, apples and cream



Behind is good. Farther away from the FRONT is GOOD. Also, it turns out, good is the awful spotlights that frelling BLIND YOU. It means you can’t really see the congregation.

Yes. Never underestimate the calming power of bright lights in your eyes. Congregation? What congregation?

Yay for having fun with singing!!! And when you do write that power ballad, I want to hear it.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha.  And here I thought you were going to say something all helpful* and knows-way-more-about-music-than-I-do.  Fie.

But . . . I’m pretty sure it was you, a long time ago now, posted to the forum asking about Maggie’s mom’s chicken, apples and cream recipe.**  I TORE MY KITCHEN APART*** looking for the frelling recipe and had just about decided that it must have been in one of the cookbooks I’d got rid of when I went off dairy—probably one of the Shaker cookbooks.  You know all these clean pure lines of Shaker furniture and houses and how they dressed simply and were celibate and so on?  THEY MAKE UP FOR IT IN THE FOOD.  If there was ever massive sublimation going on Shaker food is it.  Or anyway the several Shaker cookbooks I had in my twenties and thirties† were ALL cream and butter and thick gooey sauces and . . . glorious.††  Although it helps if you have a really fast metabolism and/or regularly save the world which is usually a high-calorie undertaking.†††  The rest of us have to have a week’s detox on lettuce and water after every foray.  Even if I hadn’t gone off dairy twenty years ago I’d’ve had to get rid of my Shaker cookbooks when I hit menopause and my metabolism said, nice knowing you.  Going to sleep now for several decades.

BUT I FOUND IT.  CHICKEN, APPLES AND CREAM.  YAAAAAAY.  From the notes in the margins there was at least one other recipe I had already tried—which probably was in one of those lost Shaker cookbooks—but I know I used this one too.  It’s been so long since I’ve made it I can’t remember much about it except that it’s good.  The original is from COUNTRY SUPPERS by Ruth Cousineau which I’ve praised in these virtual pages before.  I think it’s a lovely cookbook and it should have been a fabulous best-seller and still in print.  But it’s not—still in print, anyway.

2-3 T slightly salted butter

1 large sweet onion

2 medium-sized sour/cooking apples:  popularity was busy ruining Granny Smiths when I moved over here:  when they first hit the ground running they were the perfect all-purpose apple, not too sour to eat if you like brisk but excellent in pies and so on too.  So I’m not sure what you Americans use now.  I used Bramleys when I first moved over here‡ but they are VERY SOUR.  Also, Bramleys tend to HUGE.  You’ll probably only want one Bramley.  Anyway.  Choose your weapon.  Then core, peel, slice.  You know the drill.

3 T flour

1 c good strong chicken stock.  Either make it yourself or buy proper stock in the refrigerator section of your grocery.

½ c heavy cream‡‡

4 c chopped cooked chicken‡‡‡

Melt the butter, gently fry your fine-chopped onion.  Add apples and go on cooking gently.  If you’re using Bramleys be aware that they get fluffy if they’re cooked too enthusiastically.  Sprinkle on the flour and stir till you get something resembling a lumpy roux—all those apples and onions in the way.  Then slowly add the stock and cream.  As I recall I added it alternately in bits—so half the stock, stir till it’s all taken up, then the cream, stir etc, then the final stock.  It’ll be much thinner, obviously, but it should still be a proper thick sauce.

Add the chicken and heat through.

You’ll need some salt:  add how you like it.  You may want pepper.  I don’t but then I’m not eating this, am I?  You can think of me and feel superior.§

* * *

* I need to learn how to change key signatures and how to write a descant.  Okay?

** SHADOWS.  For those of you still waiting in the loan queue at your library.^

^ Suggest they buy more copies.

*** It did not, in fact, look a great deal different than before I started the tearing process.

† Before I went off everything that was fun besides tea, chocolate and champagne

†† I was just googling Shaker recipes and there seems to be some revisionism going on.  Simple pure lines of Shaker cooking.  Hmm.  Okay.

††† Ask Kes.

‡ I sashayed back and forth over the ‘no dairy’ line for a while till my body convinced me that it meant NO DAIRY.

‡ Oh frell.  US/UK translation problems.  I think if you’re in the UK you want what’s called ‘whipping cream’.  I’ve just been pestering google and that seems to be the consensus.  I too fell into the ‘double cream’ trap.  The UK is just cream mad.  Which is why I started falling off the no-dairy wagon when I moved over here.  Clotted cream.  Be still my heart.  SIIIIIIIIGH.  I’m old and mean now though.  I’m used to my bitter privation.

‡‡‡ The original recipe calls for shredded chicken.  Ugh.  You can also just joint your chicken.  It makes quite a nice presentation if you arrange your chicken pieces on a platter, pour the sauce over and artfully arrange a few slices of raw apple on top—not Bramley.  People die of intense shrivelling by eating raw Bramleys.  This method also saves all that chopping time.  You could knit several rows in the time you didn’t spend chopping.

§ I CAN STILL EAT BUTTER.  With black tea, champagne, chocolate and BUTTER, my life is not a desert.

Not answering your KES questions



sputter sputter sputter… eeep.

Oh dear oh dear oh dear.

That’s the cliffiest cliffhanger yet.  Eeep.

Now this interests me.  This is in response to Kes #15, “Keep it together, tha useless mare”.  I thought the cliffiest cliffhanger was #14, the ep before, “By Elbereth and Luthien the Fair, you shall have neither the Ring nor me”.  Granted my view is a trifle different than readers’.

It is also interesting—to me anyway—that plucking Kes up and plonking her down In Another Part of the Forest when the reader is getting the story only in 800-900 word snatches with looooong gaps between, must produce a much bigger HUH? factor than it would if the reader could turn/fingersweep the page and keep going.  Yes?  Or am I over-interpreting?  I was thinking that you could, not unreasonably, suspect me of cheating.  I’m not—or I don’t think I am—by the somewhat elastic rules of storytelling—and the somewhat differently elastic rules of fantasy storytelling*—it’s allowed, not to tell your readers stuff.  Till you feel like getting around to it.  Till the story insists.


I look forward to Sunday mornings – make a pot of green tea, settle down with my tablet, check Kes’s latest predicament. But these blog posts need to be much longer if they’re to last 2 cups of tea.

I have a great idea!  Only read KES every fortnight!  Then you’ll have an ep per cup!  That works!

So thank you for today’s episode. And thank you for a heroine who is only 10-plus-some years older than me. I read and enjoy YA fantasy but I do occasionally wish for more stories with protagonists who have a little more life experience.

You’re welcome.  And also thank you.  The apparent near take-over of YA in this end of fantasy storytelling does discourage me a trifle sometimes, despite the fact that I have substantially contributed to it.**  Some day I am going to write a story with a kick-ass heroine who is over sixty.  We can still kick ass, you know.  It just hurts more afterward.***


. . . if I were in Kes’s place I’d just get furiously angry. Look, it’s not my fault no one told me to go into heroine training!!!


Furiously angry keeps you moving forward, though, and so is very probably a useful reaction.

Yep.  Adrenaline-rage, which allows slender willowy people to sling large sacks of (wet) compost around.  For example.  It’s a very useful tool and I wouldn’t want to be without it but I possibly overuse it a trifle.  If what you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.  Kes does adrenaline-rage too.  For better and worse.


Three thoughts:

1) Everyone in Kes’s world(s), stop being mean to her already & give her a freaking break!!!

Everyone?  We need a few villains and persons of dubious motives for story tension.

2) Her horse!!!! There’s a horse for her!!!! Yaaayyyy!!!! . . .

Of course there is a horse for her.  There was always going to be a horse for her.  Remember she’s an even-more-blatant-than-usual wish-fulfilment for me.


Well . . . escape is maybe putting it a little strongly.  She side-slipped worlds at a very good moment.  As to why she side-slipped worlds at that moment. . . . ::whistles::


But…where’s Sid? Is this Sid morphed into a horse?

Nope.  Very different personality.

(No, Kes needs Sid as Sid, the faithful hound. This has to be the faithful steed, yhight…Star? Socks? Brownie?…Bayeux? Bayberry? Eli?)

Snork.  I like Bayeux.

Horse. Horse is good. Good horse is good. Evil horse…I don’t even want to think about it.

No, no!  Good horse!  Very good horse!  Brave noble patient horse!†   Cheez.  These frelling supple professional-fiction-producing minds.


Yay, the horse. I’m wondering if this is Merry? Otherwise, how will Merry fit into this? or has the story council let that slip out yet?

Hmm.  This might be the moment to warn you all that I’m not a big fan of the parallel worlds thing.  Connected overlapping similar-in-weird-ways containing-confusing-parallels worlds, yes.  Parallel worlds, no.  Nothing—except frelling algebra—is x = y in this world;  why should reason and logic suddenly reign just because we’ve breached a few walls between one messed-up and inconsistent world and a few more of the same?  Although it wouldn’t surprise me if Monster and Merry became very good friends.

Also, I will be very relieved when Sid shows back up in the picture.

Sid’s okay.  Although she may be having her own adventures.  And she has a very important part to play in the coming . . . ::whistles some more:: . . . well, whatever.


Didn’t the kitchen table start making horse-like motions a few episodes ago?

Yup.  But remember what I said about parallel.  Here’s another suggestion for how not to make yourselves crazy trying to figure out how the pieces fit together:  you can dye your hair orange this week and purple next week.  It’s sunny today†† but it will rain tomorrow.†††  A table that stamps its feet today may be a table next week.  And an octopus the week after that.

I too am curious what happened to the big black monster. And everything else.

You’d better also remember that I don’t tie things up neatly or give full, exquisite explanations.  Curiosity is good.  It keeps you awake.  You’ll know more about most things before END OF PART ONE scrolls up on your computer screens.


I’m thinking some hybrid between

[photo of Shire horse—or anyway it should be a Shire and it could be a Shire]


[photo of Andalusian horse—and I know it is an Andalusian because it’s on the Wiki page for Andalusian horse, although I keep wondering if the lad is a midget or the horse is standing on a box, because Andalusians are not huge]

what’s your image of the biggest horse? 

I’ve had an enormous [sic] crush on Andalusians forever.  Talat, although somewhat inspired‡ by an Arab stallion I used to know, is really more an Andalusian.  The only heavy horses I’ve had a chance to know up close and personal are Shires and Clydesdales—and Suffolk Punches to a very limited extent—and Shires win hands down.  I adore Shires.  I know it’s not as easy to get a good cross as to take one Andalusian stallion and put him to one Shire mare‡‡, but it’s like Sid being (probably) Saluki/Deerhound.  Monster is probably Andalusian/Shire.  And they’re each a really excellent cross with only the BEST features of both bloodlines.  Hey.  I write fantasy.

Even if for a newyorker that has never seen a cow any horse in that stressful situation and while not standing properly would look big or bigger.

Ahem.  Kes doesn’t know from cows, true, but she went to horse camp for several years in her teens.  She’s not totally clueless.‡‡‡  We’re going to say it was a good horse camp too, which I realise is pushing the reality connection pretty hard—but Kes does know the basics of how to ride.  Probably not to battle in her nightgown however.


Two of my all-time favorite fantasy novels   featured a cavalry that rode without either bridle or stirrups.

Haven’t even finished reading the episode…had to come say I LOVE that grin at a couple of my favorite fantasy novels too! (Go Aerin & Hari!!)

I’ve known from the beginning that Kes must have read McKinley.  I was going to have to refer to this some time.

I looked back at Monster.

I know I asked for a name, but now I’m hoping there is a chance he gets renamed along the way; although Monster will be an affectionate name before long, I suppose.

Well hmmph.  Personally I think Monster is a very good name for a huge horse, but in fact I think it’s like Sid is also the Phantom.  Give poor Kes some slack here:  she’s a bit pressed.  She’ll name Monster when things quiet down a little.§  No one was trying to kill her when she gave Sid a name.

* * *

* Insert standard rant here about how you do get to make up your own rules, writing fantasy, but then you have to follow them.  No Mr-Spock-reveals-new-skill-after-the-commercial-break.^  Also no all-powerful mages throwing lightning-bolts of awesome power at one another while making mean faces.

^ Spock ex machina, one might almost say.

** When I first told Hannah what I was doing, a year and a half ago, after she stopped laughing, she said, Make her younger.  Merrilee will want to try to make a book out of it at some point^.  It’ll sell better if she’s younger.

I remind myself that at least there are quite a few strong heroines in fantasy around now.  Some of the books they’re in even receive a certain amount of advertising.  EMoon and I can remember when this was not the case.  Especially the advertising part.

^ Great publishing minds think alike

*** Ow!  My foot!

† This is still a McKinley story, after all.

†† Wrong.  No.

††† TRUE.

‡ ‘Inspired’ isn’t quite right;  it’s like as Talat blooms into his own self, it turns out some of Binni’s tack fits.

‡‡ And the stallion would have to stand on a box.  But I’d be afraid to do it the other way around:  she might break.

‡‡‡ Another pet peeve is characters in books who never learn to ride, they just get on a horse and hey presto.  It’s not like that.

§ Unless it turns out he’s already got a—er—Abernathy’s Elegant Mythology by Abernathy’s Hyperborean Mystique out of Plutonium Farms Bethany-by-Night name already.  In which case we’ll have to shorten it.  To Abe.  Or Myth.  Or Pluto.  Or Fred.

Life in the (Very) Slow Lane


I darned a sock this morning.  I’m trying to remember the last time I darned a frelling sock.*  There are advantages to staying home all the time.**  At the moment I’m actually reading*** books faster than I’m buying them.  This won’t last.  But I have TWO NEW BOOK RECS to add to the list just in this last week, and you will remember I am a Very Cranky Reader.  I periodically have fantasies of doing a book rec a week for the blog.  That would press pretty hard on my fundamental CRANKINESS—two rec-able titles in seven days is perhaps not unheard of but supremely unlikely—but it might be an interesting experiment.

After the monsoon, the Nor’easter.  We had a no-nonsense hard frost last night, according to my minimum-maximum thermometer down to 28°(F) and the tropical jungle is all huddled anxiously on the Winter Table indoors.  And it’s slithery outdoors.  I hadn’t tried to go to my monks last night after I got a last-minute email from Alfrick saying that there was no contemplation before the night prayer, which was furthermore early . . . but this morning I was booted, spurred and caffeinated to bolt for Sunday [Anglican] Mass at the monks’, but by the time I had to leave it was still below freezing and I didn’t like the look of the roads.  At.  All.  So I didn’t go.  And I didn’t go to St Margaret’s tonight either for the same reason.†  I’m beginning to feel like an eremite.

But I darned a sock.††

What with the last fortnight’s undesirable adventures, I’ve kind of lost track of where I am rattling through forum comments.  So if I’ve responded to any of these already I hope I’m saying more or less the same things.  This may be boring for you, but anything else would be very disconcerting to me.


Tall, thin, spiky shadow? Like, um, rose bushes? Rosebushes that SALUTE? Well, maybe there’s a breeze in there.

 No, no, it’s the hob. It’s got to be the hob.

 But what’s the hob going to do? They’re not warriors, are they? Maybe it could trip somebody, er, something, er, whatever is coming.

I think rose-bushes of apparently supernatural origin can probably do whatever they put their pointy little minds to.  I wouldn’t trust Rose Manor’s own roses—the ones that can survive anything, even Cold Valley winters, and who eat children and small dogs when they can get them—not to have an agenda.  And hobs . . . now I know I said something like this before . . . hobs protect their homes.  That’s what they’re for.  That’s what they do.


bethanynash wrote on Sat, 07 December 2013 22:18
I hadn’t even considered the idea that the tall spiky shadow could be the   hob… what does a hob look like? Is the hob tall? Would a hob salute?

I think we’re in anything-can-happen territory here.

Yep.  Got it in one.  For a storyteller like me the fun is in taking a tradition or a fairy tale or a bit of folklore  . . . and giving it a pink feather boa and a pair of All Stars, so to speak.  Again, as I keep saying, I don’t do this deliberately, but when a story—or a hob or a dragon or a vampire or whatever—speaks to me, speaks to me rather than some other storyteller, it’s because THEY WANT THE BOA.


I learned a new word: “deliquescing”!

It’s a good one, isn’t it?  It’s been one of My Words for some time.  Vellicating, however, I’d forgotten about, till I saw it somewhere recently and thought, oh!  I should use that!—especially since I’m twitchy myself.


What I’m wondering is, how will this experience affect Kes’ next volume of ‘Flowerhair’? As in, personal experience (blood, the sheer physicality and awfulness of violent death, which is expressed so well here) informing her writing.

We-ell . . . your life and your fiction have a strange relationship to each other.  It’s as I’ve ranted in other contexts:  yes, readers know a lot about me, the author of the story, but they don’t know what they know.  I’ve never written about being a military brat, living five years in Japan where I clearly did not belong, and then coming back to America and finding that it wasn’t home any more . . . anywhere but here in the blog.  But my particular experience of being an outsider—most authors feel like outsiders in one form or another, I think;  it helps channel the storytelling—entirely informs my writing.  But you can’t tell from my stories that I lived five years in Japan when I was a kid.

And . . . my own experience of extreme situations is that the last thing I want to do is stuff them in my fiction†††—which is what Kes says:  nightmares that she doesn’t put in her stories.  Flowerhair might retire and . . . er . . . open a florist’s. ‡

* * *

* Your average cotton-with-a-little-spandex or equivalent isn’t worth the bother unless they’re really favourite socks, especially since they’re probably going thin all over at the same time.  But nice heavy socks, like the wool oversocks I wear this time of year—they deserve respect, and darning when necessary.^  I used to have a darning basket but it got kind of intimidating.

^ Not least in my case when I find some wool socks I can bear to wear, even over one or two pairs of cotton socks+, I want to keep them as long as possible.

+ Yes.  My shoe size goes up in the winter.

** Somewhat depending on how you feel about things like darning socks.  Or washing the kitchen floor which I did a couple of days ago.^  I actually kind of like all that fussy domestic stuff.  It’s the time it takes I object to.  And as I have said frequently, if I have an urge to tidy I’m unlike to waste it on the mere house^^:  I’ll go out in the garden and thrash around there.  Unless, of course, it’s zero degrees out there.  In which case I may wash the kitchen floor.

^ You’d never know it.  I have three dogs.  Sigh.

^^ The house with three dogs

*** This includes throwing some of them violently across the room and then picking them up and putting them in the ‘Oxfam’ bag.  Hey, they have been processed, and they’re now ready to depart my living space.

† Driving is always kind of a marginal activity for me, because of the ME.  And although Peter stopped driving several years ago, he blocks the cold wind of reality in other ways.  With him mostly out of action I’m feeling even less heroic (and more cold) than usual.

†† Life in the very very slow lane:  I’ve forgotten how to do fiddly daily shopping—partly because Peter likes doing it^ and partly because I grew up in a culture that does once a week mega-shops.  So I went to mini-grocery number one for lettuce and Peter’s GUARDIAN, and they had the lettuce but not the GUARDIAN.  So I heaved a deep sigh, but I’ve already failed Peter once in the newspaper category this week, and a GUARDIAN man can only read the TIMES so often before he starts throwing silverware at the wall, and I walked to the far end of town^^ to mini-grocery number two where I bought the last Sunday GUARDIAN^^^ . . . but it wouldn’t have done me any good to go there first because they didn’t have any lettuce.  Store managers get together to plan this kind of thing, right?

^ Takes all kinds

^^ Which takes about thirty seconds.  It is, however, uphill going home.

^^^ Which is to say OBSERVER, for those of you who care.  I have no idea why the Sunday GUARDIAN is called the OBSERVER.

††† Maybe in a decade or two.  Or three.

‡ . . . although I doubt it.

And beginning the next lot of lovely forum KES comments



But will all that blood just disappear at dawn the way things just appeared after dark?

Did I ever answer this?  It’s from an earlier page in the thread.  —No.  That’s not to say it might not be altered somehow.  ::standard hellgoddess cackle::


I went back to ep. 1 and started rereading, only stopping when my laptop battery (so very inconsiderately) decided to run out of power. Of course, all I had to do was go downstairs and plug in my computer, but how I wished for a hard-copy! (The obvious problem with this, of course, is that things would probably have to be finished-ish for a printed version to be made, and I don’t want the story to stop anytime soon!) 

Um.  Well, not as most people would count finished-ish.   I’m STILL bearing down—or attempting to bear down—on the end of Part/Volume One.  At which point I will further attempt to bundle the whole thrashing, yelling—vellicating—thing into a single file (keeping the episodic structure intact:  if I’d been writing it straight through it would have a significantly different rhythm and story arc(s), speaking of vellicating) and ship it off to Merrilee.  I will then take several deep breaths and possibly a few weeks off* and . . . start Part Two.

I think I can safely promise that the end of Part One will not tidy things up beautifully.  It won’t be a cliffhanger like the end of PEGASUS is a cliffhanger—or that several of the KES eps are cliffhangers.  But there will be, I hope, a certain sense of WHAT?!  WHAT??? I admit however that when I started the Final Dash to the End—which from my point of view started at around ep 105—I thought I knew where I was going and I . . . was wrong.  The goal posts haven’t merely moved, they’ve done a frelling cotillion.  I’m still assuming the Story Daimons will be kind and not get me into the sort of trouble I can’t get out of:  and the story itself—Kes’ story—is still running hot and strong.  This should be a good sign;  it always has been a good sign with other stories.  But I can’t help feeling a little anxious. . . .


What I keep worrying about is I thought when Kes asks the Hob for help with the pipes, she offers to make chocolate brownies. And then the pipes very dramatically get in line and work. Now, she has provided milk and some eggs, but no brownies yet. I worry about this. Like, the Hob may be hopefully and patiently waiting for brownies that have not yet come.

I’m sure the hob is hopefully and patiently waiting for brownies, but hobs are realists,** and, furthermore, a hob’s purpose is to protect its home.  Rose Manor has been sitting empty for a long time for . . . er . . . a variety of reasons.  The poor hob has got very lonely and hungry.  And now someone is moving in—and chances are the hob already knows the modern world has been taught not to believe in hobs—and she not only remembers the milk, she provides scrambled eggs?  And peppermint tea?  I think the hob is thrilled.  And will do its earnest and magnificent*** best to aid and protect this sympathetic person who will certainly make chocolate brownies at the first viable opportunity.

I also think this particular hob . . . um.  Well, let’s say I suspect that it’s at Rose Manor because it has certain talents and affinities.


Now that pebble…is clearly not a pebble in the garden-variety-found-in-parking-lot-pebble mode. It is a capital P Pebble. I think.

Yep.  The funny thing is that I DIDN’T KNOW THAT when Kes took it away from Sid back at the Friendly Campfire parking lot.  Indeed I almost cut that bit out because I thought I was wasting time.  Find another bridge from point A to point B, McKinley!  But the pebble seemed to want to stay.  And since I have three gravel-chewing dogs that this happens wasn’t a problem.  And since I couldn’t think of another bridge I let it stand.  This is the kind of thing that makes a writer JUST A TRIFLE JITTERY about this live thing—about posting episodes only half a dozen or ten eps from where I am, frelling writing them.  As I just said, the end of part one has taken a gigantic lurch into parts I thought were going to stay semi-unknown for a while longer, but the story is so vigorous I’m not too worried.  But I’m a little worried.

Fiery flashes sound like Caedmon’s armamentarium.

Yes.  But fire is also fighting fire.  We’ve got fire on both sides of this dispute.

Spiky-limbs….the hob? Saluting Kes, of course: she’s the new Lady of the House, and she didn’t (quite) faint away. Or is spiky-limbs another ally, or even an enemy saluting an enemy at the end of an engagement. “You win this time, but it’s not over.” I hope it’s the hob. I really, really hope it’s the hob because a hob can take care of that corpse and any blood that’s soaked into the floor before the next evening’s guest arrives for dinner. (And I’m suddenly worrying about that dinner. After all this…surely something will not fail to happen during that dinner, if we all survive that long.

::Hums a little tune::

Think about something else, E. Quickly.)


Sid, bless you! Seriously, Sid. GOOD dog. Wonderful dog. Whatever you did, however you did it, great dog, you. If I had a chunk of beef handy, you’d get it.

Good thing you said that ‘if’.  Or I wouldn’t put it past her to show up on your doorstep.  I’m getting very nervous about the whole ‘reality’ thing, with what’s happening to Kes.  She WRITES FANTASY, you know?  She’s been under the impression that most of what she writes stories about stays in BOOKS.  Oops.  ::Looks around uneasily::



Thank you, thank you.  A writer likes being appreciated.†

I just finished rereading Pegasus and I feel much the same way about the ending there (no wait, I lied, I feel much more like sobbing in a corner about that particular cliffhanger).

Well . . . yes.  It’s a little like what happens in OUTLAWS with Guy of Gisbourne.  I didn’t like it either.  It stressed me out lots.  It made me miserable.  And ending PEG there frelling hurt.  Not least because I know IT’S A LONG TIME before Sylvi and Ebon get back together.  And that’s not a spoiler, this is another of those moments when I say, This is a McKinley story.  There’s a limit to what a reteller can do with, say, Robin Hood, but do you REALLY THINK I’m going to send Sylvi and Ebon to opposite ends of the universe forever?††  But it makes the beginning of PEG II very hard going for me, because Sylvi is very, very wretched.  Oh, you’ll get glimpses of Ebon too, but . . .

But still. I too will be buying this when it comes out in bound-book form.

Oh good.  Oh excellent.†††

And then I might not have to scream about the cliff-hangers so much. I hope…..

Well, see above.  I don’t think the end of KES Part One is going to have anything on the end of PEG Part One, but it’s not going to be exactly an end, with pink ribbons and champagne and so on.


All I could do after reading tonight’s episode of Kes was chuckle maniacally for several minutes.

Oh splendid.  A reader after my own heart.  Nothing better than a story that makes you chuckle maniacally.


Kes is the last thing I’m reading tonight before I go back to try to sleep in my chair on night nine of Horrible Epic Virus #3 Since the Beginning of November. Oddly, I’m pretty sure she is going to help. I am going to imagine that lovely, shadowy crew fighting off my own personal viral monsters. THANK YOU.

Oh, poor you.  Vitamin C?  More green vegetables?  Less stress?  Sorry I can’t offer to provide you extra-strength KES episodes.  I hope you are totally recovered and have stabbed multiple metaphorical poltroons with your vorpal blade by now.

It is that season, winter solstice, the birth of the Son of God if you’re a Christian . . . and Horrible Epic Viral Season.  I am having more rheumatic whatsit than usual or than I am enjoying even the least little bit but I remain mostly clear of the standard flu things.  So far.  ::Makes placatory gestures::  But last night at the monks’‡ I COUGHED.  I never cough at the monks’.  I WAS ALSO THE ONLY ONE IN THE CONGREGATION.  It’s not unusual for there only to be two or three of us‡‡ but it’s rarely only me.  It was only me last night.  AND I COUGHED.  I briefly expected them all to rise in a body and throw me out . . . but of course they’re too holy.

I also considered putting on my invisibility cloak and creeping up on their dais thing—whatever you call it:  they do their chanting antiphonally, so there are two rows of monk-seats facing each other and at right angles to the congregation seats—and crouching in front of one of the ELECTRIC FIRES.‡‡‡  But the prior might have tripped over me carrying the goldburst contemplative item back to the tabernacle or what-have-you§.  And I suspect an insubstantiation cloak would make me even colder. . . .

I think I’m raving.  Maybe I’d better go to bed.§§

* * *

* Please don’t hit me

** Okay, it varies with who you read.  But this is the McKinley version

*** And perhaps slightly whimsical.  It is, after all, a hob.

† A writer adores being appreciated.  It’s very nearly as good as having enough money to go on eating.  I’m not having one of those moments right now when eating is under threat but I have had them.

†† Besides, if I did that, it would probably be even LONGER than a trilogy.  NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

††† See:  keep eating.

‡ Where it was SOOOOOO COOOOOOLD.  But this week I was wearing not only my Street Pastors’ battery-operated heated socks, but my fleece lined sheepskin boots.  They don’t fit well enough for serious walking—which is why they will never come Street Pastoring with me—but they are great for sitting at your computer hour after frelling hour where the only activity is mental and fingery^ and the rest of you risks slowly congealing into an ice floe.

^ I know.  Apparently the only adjectival form of ‘finger’ is ‘digital’, but unless you can nail your antecedents to the mast ‘digital’ has been a trifle overtaken by technology.  You don’t nail stuff to masts any more either.

‡‡ Most people, like, you know, go out on Saturday nights.  Even Christians.

‡‡‡ Maybe next week I’ll wear my battery-operated heated waistcoat as well.

§ This actually worries me.  It is a very beautiful gold starburst thing and I would be sad if it’s shut up in a dark cupboard all its life except an hour every Saturday night when it’s dark outside too.

§§ Where, just by the way, it’s warm.

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