February 21, 2014

Shadows is here!

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? Bay..um…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.

Even more KES comments. And a little ranting and raving.


I was running late this morning.  Well.  So surprising.  Not.  And I came blasting into the courtyard at the mews about mid-afternoon, didn’t quite spurt gravel into West Sussex as I spun Wolfgang into his corner, flung open the door and . . . almost stepped in a Gigantic Pile of Dog Crap.

I attained orbit a whole lot faster than those slow rockety things from Cape Canaveral ever did.  ARRRRRRRGH.

Among other things I get so frelling tired of feeling that I’m permanently bent over in a posture of abject apology for having dogs at all.*  And I believe there aren’t any full-time dogs at the mews/Big Pink Blot—which is run as a kind of Grangerford/Shepherdson cooperative—I think dogs may not be allowed in the articles of whatsit.  But there’s at least one other regular canine visitor . . . whom I’ve yet to see on a lead . . .


And of course everyone around here gives me the hairy eyeball, because our multi-legged (and hairy) comings and goings are extremely conspicuous.  I PICK UP AFTER MY HELLCRITTERS.  AND THEY’RE NEVER, EVER OFF LEAD EXCEPT UNDER MY [EXTREMELY HAIRY] EYEBALL IMMEDIATELY OUTSIDE THE FRONT DOOR FOR A PEE BEFORE THEY GET BACK IN THE CAR.

People are slime.  Make a note.**

On the other hand I had a rush of blood to the head and had a look at bobs and singles for St Clements minor and Colin and Niall and I had an Amusing Time this evening trying to ring touches of something besides plain bob minor. Of course Colin had to louse this up by splicing in plain courses of plain bob when I’m trying to grapple with the essential horror of ringing any bobs and singles on handbells.  I don’t need any additional abominations of random courses, however plain, of some other frelling method.  I am meanwhile welded to the St Clements trebles*** till further notice.


Yes. One might ask “Where is Kes going to sleep? Not even Cademon can guard against such antics as these!”

SLEEP?  You think anyone is thinking of SLEEP in current circumstances?†

And WHERE is she? Is this really taking place in a house she rents? In the same world as the motel and the truck? Really?

Oh, now, let’s not get all literal here.  Is Sunnydale any less Sunnydale just because the hellmouth happens to yawn evilly on a corner near you?

I also wouldn’t count on Merry being . . . normal.


There’s a corpse on the floor and a man speaking High Forsoothly, but I, like Kes, am most immediately concerned about bloodstains on her books.

Yep.  Under stress we revert to type.  Me too.

Oh wait, why didn’t we see Sid next to the body? Did she move out of the way in time? Last thing from last week was Sid biting the shadowy attacker’s arm, and now our shadowy attacker is bleeding all over the floor, dead.

No, no, no, no.  Not to worry.  This is a McKinley story, right?  Can you possibly imagine that I would let anything dreadful happen to Sid?  If I would defy the Story Council to give Kes a dressing-gown if she wasn’t wearing a nightgown, do you really think I’d let them do anything nasty to Sid?

Although this is another example of the weirdness of tiny-chunk serials.  You’ll see Sid again this Saturday.  I couldn’t get her and the books into last Saturday’s.

Watermelon Shoulders really isn’t terribly good at explaining, is he?

Well, High Forsoothly is very bad for the mental processes.  Think of all the drivel Gandalf could spout when he reverted to Ancient Mage mode.

Dear me… poor Kes. If she knows how much blood is in the human body, she’s doubtless well aware of what it means when your sword has a name.

Yep.  After all she writes that stuff.

And what a place to stop! “We have need of thee”!? … Can’t wait for Saturday!

Kes, on the other hand, would be very grateful to hide under the bed.  If she had a bed to hide under.

Diane in MN

doing a serial in tiny chunks like this

No problem with tiny chunks. Big problem with tiny MEMORY!

Yes.  Now try and imagine what it’s like being the author with a tiny memory.  No—wait—no—wasn’t it urglfwiddy in ep 4012?  Didn’t the attack mushrooms eat Gelasio’s new inamorata?  Was Serena’s to-die-for crumble pear, plum, peach or rambutan?

There will probably be quite a lot of tidying-up to be done for the hard-copy version . . .

This is, of course, not the author’s fault. But I am quite looking forward to some future date when Kes will be available in one BIG chunk

. . . toward that BIG chunk we are ALL looking forward to.††


I’ll also just add here that while forum members don’t rank in the millions or anything, if I posted a birthday KES for every forum member who had a birthday . . . I WOULD BE VERY BUSY WRITING KES.

Helpful comment: No matter how many millions of readers you get, you’d still only have 365 KES episodes to write.

Oh, another frelling literalist.  In the first place there are weird odds and statistics about people’s birthdays:  http://www.theguardian.com/notesandqueries/query/0,5753,-22978,00.html

Never mind the logic of how you get there, twenty-three people doesn’t seem anything like enough to produce two with the same birthday.  These odds however were made vivid to me in junior-high chemistry [sic] and there weren’t even quite twenty-three of us in that class—but another girl and I had the same birthday.  So what’s the other end of that—how many forum members would we need to produce birthdays EVERY DAY of the year?  And if there are more than one birthday person on a given day, will one episode satisfy them?  Or if person x got an episode this year, would person y—with the same birthday—expect their episode that day the next year?

I prefer to reject the whole birthday-ep notion unilaterally.  It’s so much easier.  For me.


1. I am going to start calling someone, anyone, really, “Watermelon Shoulders”, cause it cracks me up.

Assuming that you will apply this to someone whose physique includes large powerful shoulders I hope you will tactfully ascertain in advance if the cognomen will be appreciated in a positive manner.

2. I am not sure whether to be glad or upset that I will never have strange apparitions in my house as I have not one, but two techies.

I’d go for grateful.  Kes is not going to be having a good time for a while.

 3. I am saying this quietly as to not get hurt, while I love Kes, I just recently reread Pegasus and the ending is a killer and I would really love to read Pegasus II. So please, Robin, please, keep writing both!

Hey.  I want to keep eating.  I have a desire so overwhelming to read PEG II—and PEG III—in their perfect, finished entirety that your mere readerly longing is comparatively speaking a rose petal drifting in the bottomless ravine.

* * *

* Let alone three dogs, which anyone but Southdowner might find excessive.

** Pav took against someone for the first time in weeks the other day.  This jerk has three or four working-hunter type dogs, spaniels.^  Because he is a working-hunter type bloke he is clearly superior to the rest of us with our wispy pet dogs, and while his dogs do obey him, they are always off lead and he clearly doesn’t feel any great need to curtail their fun in terrorising the riff-raff.  His big male thug doesn’t like my hellhounds, and they return the sentiment.

I saw this delightful crew coming toward us and I picked Pav up.  I don’t need the hassle and she doesn’t need to be intimidated by testosterone-poisoned idiots.  The human jerk sauntered up to me and said, in as sneering a tone as humanly possible, Are we frightened?  I said in as neutral a tone as possible, There are rather a lot of you.

I think it was probably because he stank of ciggies, and Pav is passionately anti-smoking^^, but it may have been that I didn’t sound as neutral as I wanted to.  But she went ballistic, which Jerkface, fortunately, found amusing.  He sauntered off . . . and I staggered, with my ballistic bullie, to the nearest bench^^^, where we sat for a long time before she finally morphed back into my Pav and we could continue our hurtle.  Meanwhile we’d lost the last of the daylight.  I think Parliament might pass a law ordering more daylight in December.  Christmas is fine# but I want daylight.

^ In his case this is definitely too many.

^^ Passionately enough I wonder if something happened with a cigarette-stinking human when I wasn’t around.

^^^ This only works if your exploding critter weighs under thirty-five pounds.  I’m glad I don’t have to try and Hold a . . . Great Dane, say.

# Sort of.  Christmas, for this still-new Christian, starts the countdown to Easter again.  I know I got through Easter last year—and I know about the resurrection, thank you—but it still scares the frzzlmp out of me.

*** In the first big fat tier of ordinary methods, the treble only goes straight out to the back and straight down to the front again with none of the jiggy bits that make inside ringing so . . . entertaining.  So if you’re ringing the one-two on handbells, the amount of mayhem that bobs and singles can cause is limited because only the two is affected;  the one just keeps on truckin’.  It’s still bad enough that the two goes doolally, because that changes the relationship between your two bells.

† Granted that the author/recorder’s difficulties with the whole concept of sleep may be muddying the ground here.  OH LOOK.  AN INARGUABLE REASON NOT TO BE ABLE TO SLEEP.  MODIFIED RAPTURE.

†† Well, I hope many of us are looking forward to.  Please.^

^ See:  keep eating.

KES comments continued. . . .



I hv hellterror in lap that is 2 say sharing chair WHICH IS NOT BIG ENUF 4 BOTH OF US & I am so uncomfortbl I cld die

* * *

. . . I may be crippled for life.  No, I think the blood is beginning to flow in the right direction(s) again.  When I’ve thought ahead I’ve brought the piano stool in and set it next to my chair so she has something to spill onto and I get to keep my butt ON THE CHAIR.  She’s too small and square to have useful staying-on-chair inertia:  if she slides she’s gone.  I am long and lanky and quite a bit of me can hang off something like a chair quite securely . . . barring the intense pain this causes.  THE THINGS WE DO FOR OUR CRITTERS.   I still haven’t got the lying-together-in-a-heap system right;  the hellhounds think the sofa is theirs and while I CAN trap her in such a manner that she is prevented from molesting them it’s not like I can lie there enjoying my book while I’m on constant Suppression Alert not to mention crisping slightly under the burning accusatory glare from the two pairs of hellhound eyes.*  Arrrrgh.    Hellterror laptime at the cottage is even more death defying—for both of us.  I’m usually on a stool, a, what’s more tall stool, and she has to cling to me like a young monkey grasping its treetop-swinging mum.  She’s fine with this.**  Me, not so much.

She is now the size she should remain and likes laps.  I’d better figure something out.


I was reading your author website today, Robin, when I was supposed to be doing something else, and I loved the comment about characters in LOTR speaking “High Forsoothly.”

It’s not original I’m afraid.  It’s been around quite a while;  I can’t remember where I first read/heard it—I assume I already didn’t remember when I was writing that bit and so didn’t identify it there?—although it was in a Tolkien context.  But I bagged it instantly and have used it ever since.  Kes too.  Kes was also crucially shaped by reading LOTR young but the twenty-year difference in Kes’ and my ages*** means that when she got to the end of RETURN OF THE KING she had other options than going back to page one of FELLOWSHIP.†  You may have noticed she seems to have read some McKinley.


Although it strains my patience to get the chapters only once a week, I like the opportunity to talk back to the author at the end of each one. I’ve often wanted to do that.

‘Talk back’ used, perhaps, advisedly.††  Although may I just offer my forum a compliment here:  thank you all for being so polite.†††  Which means I get to enjoy the process too.‡  I hope it’s not just that my mods’ delete fingers are smokin’ hot.  But along with merely relishing giving you a hard time—by definition, you know:  it’s still all about turning pages, even when the pages are virtual and only happen once a week—I’m fascinated by what all of you pick up and what you don’t, or at least what you don’t feel is worth commenting on.


I have to wonder if Sid will be curious enough to taste the new gooey floor covering… And then how poor Kes will react to that.

Probably not.  In the first place Sid is also going to be busy and in the second place . . . not all dogs find the same truly disgusting substances delightful, and sighthounds are even more bonkers than the usual run [sic] of canine peculiarity.  This is an occasion where I can’t see that, in this case, Sid licking the floor is going to further the plot . . . and therefore I get to say it doesn’t happen.  The Story Council grants me these small decisions now and then to keep me cheerful and writing.

Given that Kes has already seen one face she overtly recognized – I am also wondering how intertwined the current dimensional meld is with her writing. And if they are at all – which is the chicken, and which the egg? Does she think these people and places, therefore they are? Or does she write them because they already exist, and it is the knowledge of them that slips through dimensional cracks into her skull?

Remember that I say (a) there’s a crack in my skull where the stories come through (b) the stories exist, I don’t make them up, I only write them down, and never well enough and (c) . . . I am often in the position of trying to write them down by being there, wherever there is, frantically waving my notebook and pen‡‡ in the air and saying Wait!  Wait for me!, and . . . that where I am (wherever it is) is very, very vivid.


Don’t forget the Hob! I’m sure his dinner counts for something!

Yep.  Does.


Can’t wait for her horse to show up.



Speaking of names, I’m expecting that we’ll finally find out Mr. W.Shoulder’s ????

Yes.  But not next Saturday.  Or even the Saturday after that.  Or . . .


I’m still asking Santa-Robin for an additional episode at Christmas…I’ve been a good girl, I promise

I’ll think about it.  I promise NOTHING.


*gnash gnash gnash*

Why, thank you.


Wherever you like.

Okay, well, at the beginning, I suppose.

Sounds like a plan.

I bet Kes is glad she doesn’t sleep in the altogether – a nightgown is bad enough in this situation, but stark raving naked would be so much worse.

In such an extremity if the Story Council didn’t allow me to throw her a dressing-gown I would have done it anyway.

. . . I love how Kes is so focused on the sheer quantity of blood, like any normal person would be, but so significantly unlike most unwitting hero/ines in 95.8% of fiction.

Thank you.  Certainly there are too many supposedly ordinary characters who are not freaked out by—er—calamitous events.  Or so I as reader feel.  This is what I was talking about last night:  secrets to writing plausible fiction, including fantasy fiction:  how would you feel if, etc.  Stop and frelling THINK about it.  As someone who’s been writing stories for over half a century (eeeeeep) I do this automatically—but I also sometimes STOP and try and make sure I’m paying enough attention to the ordinary-person-in-extraordinary-situation aspect.

The blood almost becomes a featured character in this little episode . . .


Not letting the reader forget about it, pulling one further into that sense of actually being there . . .

Oh good.  That’s the idea.

. . . Same with the way Kes’s mind keeps jumping around to random inconsequentials (floor cleaning, security deposit, HA).

Which is often what you do when you’re freaked out by something, isn’t it?  Well, it’s often what I do.  HELP.  I’M OUT OF CONTROL.  And so you/I scrabble for little bits of things to have opinions about.  ‡‡‡

. . . I can’t stand not knowing who the “we” is WS keeps mentioning. Do we get to meet them in the next ep? Do we, do we, huh? Do we, huh, huh?

NEXT ep?  No way.  Take a few deep breaths and make yourself some nice hot chocolate.

I’m guessing Kes’s dinner plans for the following day are shot now, huh?

Shot?  Not at all.  Why would they be?  In the first place, tomorrow night is a long way away§ and in the second place . . . um . . . Hayley has already been surprising, hasn’t she?

* * *

* On rare occasions I do find them all three in the hellhound bed—either here or at the cottage—but she usually gets too excited at her own (nearly) unprecedented success and they roll their eyes and turf her out.^

^ Which reminds me of the New Dog Bed photo essay I keep meaning to organise. . . .

** Most dogs, in my experience, are more than happy to put their paws on your shoulders or even around your neck, probably the better to lick your face, but in whatever friendly companionable manner.  I’m not used to a dog, especially something whose legs are only about three inches long, who without prompting puts her forelegs around your body and hugs you.^

^ Although she’s probably destroying the thighs of your jeans with her hind legs at the same time.  This is not fear, mind you, this is, Hey!  We’re having FUN!  I think I told you, my first official Street Pastor night, I realised that the clean jeans I had put on just before coming out, the clean dog-hair-muddy-pawprints-and-dog-food-fleck-free jeans, were pretty tatty.  I apologised to Fearless Leader and said I’d do better next time.  Next time, which is to say last Friday, I discovered I HAVEN’T GOT any tough denim jeans that aren’t tatty any more.  I have some lightweight ones . . . but the ones that will withstand a hard (cold) night on the town or a hellterror all look like they’ve done more hellterror-withstanding than is good for them.

*** Which is going to keep stretching alarmingly in real time.  I was approaching my sixtieth birthday when I started KES and while she still is approaching her fortieth birthday I’ve turned sixty-one.  Once I’ve got her settled I hope I can SKIP FORWARD a bit.  I have plans for her fortieth birthday and I don’t want to die of extreme old age before she’s paid her second month’s rent on Rose Manor.

† Or THE HOBBIT, but I don’t think I’ve read that as many as half the number of times I’ve read LOTR. ^

^ That’s still quite a few.

†† YOU DID WHAT?  SHE’S WHAT?  IT’S WHAT?  Blondviolinist covered this well.

††† . . . mostly.

‡ . . . MOSTLY.

‡‡ Or, lately, possibly iPad.  Although if I’m going to go wandering multi-dimensionally I should buy a second battery in case the local power source is incompatible.

‡‡‡ Not, perhaps, wholly unlike a hellterror scrabbling to stay in a lap.

§ Especially in terms of likely number of eps.  Gah.

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I merely took the energy it takes to pout and wrote some blues. -- Duke Ellington