December 4, 2013

KES . . .



(And now I have only about a thousand questions, some of which are from earlier but are more pressing now that someone has tried to KILL Kes & Sid in their own (brand new) home. For starters, why on earth is Kes a target?

Some of us have a gift for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  And what she does for a living has perhaps a slight focusing-the-sun’s-rays-through-a-magnifying-glass effect.  Since I don’t think I’d react well to dead guys in the front hall either, I’m happy to say that the influence my career has had on my life has been a trifle more subtle.*

And why NOW, when she’s moved to a new place?

She was married to a Tech Master.  Tech has a dampening effect on guys with swords from other dimensions.  Now she’s OUT THERE ALL BY HERSELF.**

If she’d stayed in NYC, would mysterious armed men have broken into the penthouse?

Probably not.  All that tech would have confused them.  They would have burst through their dimensional gateway and found themselves chasing reindeer in Lapland.

If any of you have a sudden influx of guys with swords you might want to ask Blogmom what she’d charge you to camp in her back garden for a few weeks till they’re all safely misdirected to Lapland.  Those reindeer can really take care of themselves.

And who’s Bossy Voice and how did he manage to show up in the nick of time?)

Well you’ve now read the next instalment so you know who Bossy Voice is . . . sort of.  Hee hee hee hee hee.


—I can’t wait to find out who the owner of the “strangely familiar voice” is! I suspect that the person has already appeared to Kes in Normal Townsperson incarnation and I’m very curious.

—OK, I had just assumed it was Mr. Watermelon Shoulders from parts 49-50?

—Watermelon Shoulders was my guess as well, but I’d like proof. Plus, him being WS doesn’t rule out him also being Caedmon or something/someone else as well, right?

Nope.  It doesn’t.  Hee hee hee hee, con’t.

[Forgive me, copying from the forum and pasting into Word is fraught with translation difficulties.  Those descending box things for people to carry on a conversation don’t transfer AT ALL and trying to attach who said what to whom is a freller.  You can always go look it up, right?  I’m just giving you the context for me to hang an unhelpful, hellgoddessy comment on.]

Well, Ron Driscoll’s got to enter back into this story one way or the other… although I can’t necessarily picture him switching into ‘ye olde speake’ just because we’ve morphed realities…

::grovels and throws dust over her head::  Speaking of other dimensions, I’m afraid poor Ron has got lost in one.  When I started KES I was planning on taking it less seriously than it has decided to take me*** and asked Black Bear before I ever got properly going with it if she’d play with me and do her gamesmaster thing to spur me on.  And then KES ran away with me.†

I’m still hoping Ron might have a look-in during the post-immediate-climactic mop-up, so to speak, in a you-don’t-think-this-is-over-do-you louring and suggestive manner.  Black Bear and I have discussed the possibility of parallel KES stories for the future which makes the best sense to me—like Peter and me finally getting at least two of our joint elemental spirits books out by the simple expedient of writing separate stories.††  But it’ll mostly depend on Black Bear’s patience.  I’m not . . . a wonderful person to work with.  Sigh.



Pre-emptive “create your own” comment in preparation for tomorrow’s forum outage.  †††              

Inarticulate exclamation:______

A. Noooooooooo!!!!!!!
B. Aaaaaarrrgghhh!!!
C. Aaaauuuuuggghhh!!!!

Dramatic consequence of reading post:________

A. I can’t breathe!!!
B. How am I supposed to sleep tonight???
C. My heart nearly stopped!!! I’m going to need a pacemaker!!!

Obligatory name-calling:______

A. You evil woman, you!!!
B. Why do you TORTURE us like this!!!!!
C. Evil, horrible hellgoddess!!!

Delighted response to ________’s action, or sympathy for the same character’s predicament.

A. Kes
B. Sid
C. The hob
D. Mr. Watermelon Shoulders
E. Caedmon

Ending statement:______

A. Can’t you PRETTY PLEASE post another episode tomorrow?
B. Where’s my time machine???
C. How are we supposed to wait a WHOLE WEEK after that cliffhanger???

This had me so falling down laughing you’ll have to forgive me (again) for hanging it in its scintillating entirety out here on the blog.  I do have an excuse, because I know that some of my friends who only read the blog to keep an eye on me never penetrate into the depths of the forum and it would be a pity if they—and any of the rest of you—missed it.

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.‡


Pre-emptive “create your own” comment in   preparation for tomorrow’s forum outage.     

‘It can be seen that with this prose the forum member ‘Blondviolinist’ has made a significant and insightful contribution to the forum reading experience, adding to the dynamic expressivity created by forum members engaged with the weekly posting of KES’

‘And causing the top of the hellgoddess’ head to disengage with the rest of her skull just long enough for her to recall in VIVID DETAIL why she bailed on the academic life the moment she escaped her undergrad college with her BA in her teeth and plunged into a sordid life of genre fiction.’


“Lady Kestrel.” Sounds suitably heroic, doesn’t it?

Yes.  Poor Kes.

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

No.  Next question.


. . . is anyone else tempted to pour five quarts of viscous fluid onto the   floor to see how much it is?

I thought about it, then thought about how much I don’t want to clean that. Should have been a visual aid in middle school science class though. Imagine the angry notes parents could have sent!

All of this.  I was just thinking about it again yesterday when I bled about a pint all over the landscape from a glancing blow with a tiny pointy wire end near the cuticle of my left forefinger.  BLOOD.  Really a very little lot of it is a lot lot.  Also, in quantity, it pongs.‡‡  And if you’ve ever cleaned up after critter birth, I know it’s not the same stuff‡‡‡, and it’s full of smelly hormones, but it contains blood, and it’s thick and icky and slithery and . . . and that’s even in a good cause, you know?  Birth.

I’m feeling really anxious about Kes’s books, too. I want to help her move them out of the way.

YES.  THIS.  Although this is also an example of the occasional weirdness of doing a serial in tiny chunks like this.§  This ep originally did not have Kes worrying about her books—worrying about her books originally came in the next ep.  But I realised that all you book fetishists out there would be freaked out—I would be freaked out in your position:  it would be the first thing I thought of—so I figured I’d better register the question immediately.  As to what happens, well . . .


Well, if you’ve ever accidentally dropped an entire gallon of milk on the   floor…. (Not that I would ever have done such a thing, and a gallon is one   quart too few.)

I thought about that, but milk doesn’t coagulate, and I’m enough of a nerd that I would want the fluid to have that feature.

Yes.  Viscous.  Your word for it the first time.  The meniscus, if that’s still what you call it on blood, is a lot more, um, turgid.  And the thought of it—this thick wave of the stuff much taller than thin milk can achieve—spreading out and spreading out till it starts getting all crusty at the edges. . . . ewwwwwww. . . . .


Loved Watermelon Shoulders wiping his sword on the dead guy (he would, of course)

Oh good.  That’s what I thought.  And an awful lot of successful fiction writing (say I, dangerously giving away trade secrets) is declaring, okay, you’re an ordinary person in this situation, WHAT ARE YOU THINKING AND FEELING?  And doing.  And if you’re a swordsperson with a bloody sword, especially if you’re a polite swordsperson in someone’s house, you need to (a) wipe your sword (b) wipe it on something the householder won’t mind you wiping it on.  But I yield to your greater knowledge of hand to hand combat.  So I’m glad you think so too.

and knowing the name of Kes’s sword…though if he knows her, why wouldn’t he?

Well, you’re never sure about these cross-dimensional bozos.  They often have surprising lapses in their info.

Am thinking “Would I be worrying about the blood getting on my books…or my air mattress and blankets? Because bloodstained books are one thing, but sleeping under bloodstained blankets–not that Kes is going to sleep anytime soon, I can tell (I think I can tell. Maybe)–is not going to be pleasant for her at all.

Unless the floor lists in the wrong direction—and I will put in a special petition that it doesn’t—the bedding is okay.  The dead guy is in the front hall, not the kitchen, and Caedmon’s niche is off the kitchen.

But you’re right that sleep isn’t coming up in Kes’ schedule any time soon. . . .

Mwa hahahahahahaha.

* * *

* Mostly.  So far.  There’s still time for everything to go dimensionally skew-whiff.  And most of my friends thought Peter had kidnapped me.

** Except for Sid.

*** There’s going to be a dead guy and a large yucky pool of blood, okay?  And Kes has a sword with a name.  Are you taking notes carefully?  Are we making ourselves clear?

† I have a very long history of failing to collaborate.  Peter could tell you about the last twenty-two years.  But I can remember starting to illustrate [sic] the story a friend wrote about a mare and her foal when we were both nine, and my deciding that the story would go better like this and my friend taking exception.

I just didn’t think, to begin with, that KES was quite, um, real and therefore at such high risk of my Anti-Collaboration Gremlin.

†† Even if some of them have had the distressing habit of morphing into novels, trilogies, etc.


‡ Hey.  Stop that.  You do want me to finish PEGS II and III, don’t you?  And hellcritters would pine if we never went hurtling any more.

‡‡ Aside from other bodily functions that may occur involuntarily as a result of sudden death.

‡‡‡ Does human blood smell any better or worse than other mammalian sanguineous fluid?  Discuss.

§ And no I’m NOT going to make them any longer.  See previous footnote †††.

Return of the Blog


. . . Is it still up?  Is it still up?  Rats.  I guess I have to write a post.  It’s been really epic.  Last night when it first fell off the air I thought oh pfffffbt.  When it stayed fallen off the air I assumed it was frelling gremlins my end, because it usually is, either this blasted laptop is having the vapours again or my connection has . . . vaporized.  EVENTUALLY, after a certain amount of language and banging and stamping and the hurling of old newspapers across the room* I bethought me of a link Blogmom had sent me a while ago that will tell you if your blog is working.  It ruminated briefly and then came up with YOUR BLOG IS BROKEN.

Ooh.  Exciting.**

And it stayed broken.  I don’t know what fabulous adventures were going on at the doohickey admin but it has to have been at least an alien invasion.***  It was dead air for several hours last night and then Blogmom tag-teamed me till she went to bed† and I picked up again in the morning, when it was still playing hide and seek with standard consensual reality.

Tonight was a little blurry in the three dimensions for a different category of reasons.  I had a friend preaching at St Radegund, who assured me the service would be over in plenty of time for me to pelt on to St Margaret’s in my I-think-it-probably-counts-as-habitual by now way.  No.  Wrong.  I’d managed to arrive late†† which meant I was tucked away at the back . . . which was a good thing when at five minutes after I had to leave to arrive late at St Margaret’s THEY WEREN’T ANYWHERE NEAR THE END.  My leather jacket and I tried not to creak on our hasty way out. . . .

The three-dimensional blur, however, was in the contrast between the two services.  Evening services at both churches tend to be the informal end, with audience participation from people ineligible for dog collars, and, sadly, they both indulge in the fashion for icky soggy modern Christian song rather than real music.  St Radegund, however, is polite, thoughtful, reserved and grown-up.  I walked††† into the Youth Group service at St Margaret’s where about twenty striplings were up on the stage with a bank of rotating coloured spotlights and a particularly loud drum kit.  YAAAAAAAH.‡  As Aloysius said several months ago, one of the strengths of the Anglican church is that it holds great variety. . . .

* * *

* A folded-up weekend newspaper is a very good object for the venting of extreme feelings.  As long as you aim carefully so you aren’t taking anything with it, it makes a very satisfying THUD on the opposite wall and does neither itself nor the wall any harm.  REASONS TO KEEP HARD COPY AVAILABLE.  I don’t think an iPad even in its protective shell is going to like being thrown across the room against the wall very often.

** I had assumed that my connection had some excuse for megrims last night because we’d been having spectacular weather—not only hellhound-pummelling rain^ but thunder, lighting and hail^^.  It was sheeting when Peter was due to go to his bridge club, so I drove him over there and on the way back watched the sky lighting up with a display that Frankenstein could have animated a whole regiment of monsters off.  So, I thought, am I going to make a bolt for the monks even in this?  YES.  NEXT SILLY QUESTION.   I wouldn’t have thought you could hear anything through the monks’ chapel walls except (possibly) the Last Trump, but toward the end of the service there was the most unholy racket, apparently of a small lake being dumped over the chapel roof, and I had a bow-wave most of the way home.  It did occur to me to wonder if critters would care if the lights went out . . . but if either lights went out or critters cared, it was all over by the time I got back.  But I was not really surprised to begin with that the blog wouldn’t connect.  It seemed almost more surprising that everything else would.#

^ Pav gets a little flat-eared and oppressed-looking by the time the floodwater is brushing her belly, but she’s generally willing to take the weather as it comes, and I don’t think she recognises pummelling, by rain, hellhounds, or anything else.  Hellhounds, on the other hand, in wet weather are already going into their tragic postures while I’m still locking the door and we haven’t got down the stairs to ground level yet.  And poor Pav doesn’t even have a raincoat—she has a hand-me-down waterproof fleece from a hellhound puppy but that’s only for serious penguin weather—I’m waiting for her to STOP GROWING.

^^ Among my least favourite memories of the old house is having the garden in full summer hurrah torn to shreds by a hailstorm.  This didn’t happen often, but it happened a few times in the thirteen years I lived there—once, even more anti-memorably, less than week before an open day.

*** @robinmckinley also tweeted:  AM TOTALLY W THIS SUGGESTION @Ladykuro Mayb it’s battling monsters frm another world, mayb hv guest blogs frm Other World when it gets back

# Wall?  Garden wall?  What about it?  Oh, the gigantic hole?  That’s been there forever.  We hired someone to rebuild it, but we haven’t seen him around for a while.  We think he drowned.

† Hey.  I go to bed early Saturday nights.  Because I am naturally perverse . . . no, no, because I seem to have re- or de-morphed back into a regular New Arcadia Sunday morning service ringer.  I couldn’t stand the combination of Niall’s accusatory stare over handbells and listening to four or five bells ringing on Sunday morning.  Funny how penetrating the sound is even through several pillows.  I’m still an official member of the abbey band^ —as well as officially persona non grata with the New Arcadia admin, as evidenced by the fact that they rang seven out of their eight bells for the wedding yesterday.

^ The equally accusing stares of the ladies in the portraits overseeing the abbey AGM are still vivid in my memory

†† Due to complications arising from having too many hellcritters

††† Or rather tore, nearly a quarter hour late

‡ The sermon, by the way, by one of the teenagers who comes regularly to that evening service, was brilliant.^  She will probably invent practical faster-than-light travel in a few years.

^ With the exception of the clip from CARS that was showed on screen as an alternative approach to the concept of win/lose.  You all know CARS?  You all know how it ends?  .  BLEEEAAAUGGGH.  But I am an evil-tempered cow.  We knew that.

On Not Yelling at Your Computer



Peter said, I’m not dancing the hornpipe.  I’m not.  Besides, I don’t know any hornpipes.  However . . . .

            Do I need to suggest you stop right there? I said.

            No, no! said Peter.  This is a supportive, constructive remark!  I was just thinking you might want to learn some angry songs!  There’s a lot of good ranting in Handel, isn’t there?  Sorceresses and things.  Since you like Handel.*

            Something of the sort had already occurred to me.**  I have also told you that I was in psychotherapy/counselling for a number of years***.  One of the bottom lines with each of the various psycho-disciplines my various shrinks had trained in is that you can’t just stop something, to make a change stick, you have to replace the behaviour or the thought-pattern or the what-you-like with some other behaviour or thought-pattern or what-you-like.  So I warned Peter that if I am overcome with the need to shout at my computer I am going to start doing singing exercises. 

            So from this moment forward my day goes something like this:  clickclickclickclickclick.  Damn.  Click.  Clickclickclickclick.  Oh damn.  Click.  Click.  Click.  DAMN.

            Ee, ah eeee ah, eeee ahahahah, eeee, ah.  EE.  AH.  EEEE.  AH.  EEEE AHAHAHAH EEEE ARRRRRGAH.

            Good breath control.  Great projection.  This is so going to help my EXPRESSIVENESS.



Oh, this is too funny. Made my day. 


* * *

* A partiality I do not share with my husband.  Back in the days when we still went to live operas in London, I did manage to take him to Semele.  Afterward he said no more Handel.  —Hmmph.  Philistine.

            The furious aria that is going to come first to the average opera-goer’s mind however, is the Queen of the Night’s second appearance in THE MAGIC FLUTE:  Hell’s vengeance boils in my heart.^  Excellent.

            I don’t think so.  I still have happy dreams of regaining my high C, although I haven’t decided yet if I mean a working C, which means I need a D to float down from, or a C to float down to the B from, but my high F days are past.^^  And, speaking of technique . . . yeep.^^^ 

^AKA Kill the beggar:  

^^ I’ve told you I had a silly range when I was younger—I sang anything from high soprano to middling baritone.  I’m a little fascinated in hindsight what that upper register must have sounded like.  Like a needle through the ear, probably.  


** And about interpretation?  About COMMUNICATING with my audience the reality of the song?  I bet I could do anger.  I bet I could really do anger. 

*** And a good shrink is worth her or his weight in gold, jewels and obedient hellhounds^ several times over.  You think I’m overwrought and overreactive now. . . . My first shrink had a whip, chair and trank gun.   

^ Actually this wasn’t a set up, but since I’m here . . . we were out striding over hill and dale beyond Warm Upford today.+  We turned at the top of the hill++ and were now walking on the near side of a low, thorny hedge, with a field on the far side.  I could see a person ambling along near the hedge on the other side.  Oh gods, I thought, she will certainly have a dog.  She did.  My heart sank.  But then—joy—I noticed she had it on a lead.  Hurrah hurrah hurrah.  We were, of course, going faster than she was.  We usually are going faster than the other guy.  And we were no more than about eight feet behind her when—without looking around—she leaned down and let it off the lead.


            Okay, I thought, the hedge is pretty frelling thorny, and we’re moving at a clip and can perhaps move a little clippier so by the time we get to the end of the hedge we’ll be well out in front and . . .

            Bitsyboo! said the woman, who had finally noticed our existence, as we pulled even with her.  Bitsyboo!  Come!  Sit!  Wait!  Stand!  Stop!  No!  Bitsyboo!

            Bitsyboo was galloping back and forth along the hedge, frantic for a way through.  With this kind of persistence, of course the bloody thing found a way through and was on us at once.  Great.  Splendid.  Gak.  Frell me. 

            Fortunately it was friendly, more or less.  It was completely manic, and it did an awful lot of dashing, pouncing and growling, but it was pretty clearly play growling, and while Darkness is not the most reliable coal-mine canary, if we agree about a dog’s intentions we’re probably right, and he wasn’t reacting to Bitsyboo—other than spare me which I powerfully agreed with.  We kept going.  We kept going at our best clippy clip because my experience is still that most pet dogs—I say nothing of working sheepdogs or hunting dogs or various other countryside menaces—are not particularly fit and if they aren’t actively trying to gnaw bits off you you have a pretty good chance of just outrunning the miscreant. 

            The cries of Sit!  Stay!  Bitsyboo!  Come! were growing fainter in the distance, till they morphed into Excuse me!  Excuse me!  —I know what this means.  It means, would you please stop, so I have some chance of catching my dog because I am an incompetent moron and it is an untrained disaster, and if you don’t stop I may never see it again. 

            No.  No, I won’t stop.  You are an incompetent moron and I’m not in a good mood and next time LOOK AROUND before you let your untrained disaster off its lead.  I’m also running [sic] about twenty minutes behind time because every road in Hampshire is being dug up, including the ones that footpaths cross, and we’ve had to take an unscheduled detour and I don’t feel like wasting another ten minutes while you (a) catch up and (b) play tag with your mutt.  And yes, if it were vicious we’d be standing in a tight little wodge while I tried to stay between it and my hellhounds and I am therefore being unfair to mere incompetent morons and I don’t care.

            And yes, Bitsyboo did get tired before we’d sprinted the two miles back to Wolfgang.  I admit I’d’ve stopped before we got to the main road:  I have a deep dislike of blood, even incompetent moron’s untrained disaster blood.

 + There’s a house that got put up a few years ago in the middle of that heavily pheasanted and gamekeepered cultivated wilderness and I keep wondering what they do during shooting season.  Lie flat on the floor for six months perhaps.  Anyway.  The house has a peculiar name.  Let’s call it . . . Botulism.  It’s in that category.  Why anyone would want to name their house after a disease is a little beyond me.  Even if it’s a private joke, still Botulism is what the world knows you as.  Fortunately I’m not likely ever to be invited to dinner there (even out of hunting season, when we get to sit in chairs).

            But it apparently exists in the Warm Upford Alternate Dimension.  It’s got to the point that if we’re walking along the little road at the bottom of the valley and have to press ourselves into the hedgerow to let a vehicle past, and the vehicle slows down to speak to us, I open my mouth to say, yes, it’s half/a quarter of a mile ahead/behind.  Today we had turned off the road and were toiling up the hill again when I heard a commotion behind me.  I turned around.  There was a delivery truck on the road, and the driver had got out of his cab and was starting to run up the hill after me.  Miss!  Miss! he said (he was a serious distance away, you understand).  I stopped.  Do you know where mumblemumblemumble is?

            Yep.  Half a mile that way, on your left.  —And am I sure he was asking about Botulism?  Yes.  I could hear the B, the t, the l, and the fact that it was three syllables.  But if I wasn’t used to people trying to find it, I might well have said, Bottlebrush?  Never heard of it. 

++ Yes, that hill 

† As I believe I proved just a few hours ago on the subject of frelling Facebook’s latest draddarkle fambanged remodel, which Blogmom is going to have to cope with.


Resuscitated Ask Robin Aftermath


Mismatched Socks

How do you convert ideas for stories you have into believable plots?
I start with about 4 cups of good flour, 5 cups of warm water, a tablespoonful of dry yeast and another tablespoonful of honey . . .

And then you stir it all together, cover, place in a warm, draft-free spot, and leave it alone for a while, right? 

That’s right.  But story-yeast can be rather slow.  Sometimes it’s years before the sponge has bulked up enough.  You just want to keep it warm and comfy and add a little more flour and honey from time to time.   It will of course suddenly start raging out of its bowl when you’re fully occupied whacking the gorblimey out of some other dough.* 

Also, this made me laugh. 

Oh good.  That was the plan.  Because this question also illustrates one of what are probably the two main reasons why I let Ask Robin slip.  Reason one:  Impossible questions.  What on earth was this person expecting?  The Chinese menu web site for writers?**  There isn’t an answer.  If there were there would be even more books out there . . . but they’d also be better books.

            I don’t object summarily or comprehensively to impossible questions per se—most of writing is about what might magnanimously be called guided floundering and it can be reassuring to compare scars with other people who have slammed into submerged objects in the murk—but I do rather object to the impossible question being plonked down in front of me like a dead fish on a slab.  The entirety of the email that bore this question was exactly . . . the twelve words of this question.  I grant that email is different from other written forms of communication, and I don’t usually bother with salutations either . . .  but to a stranger I’m asking the favour of free professional expertise/attention of?  Um, yes.   I’d stick a salutation in.  I think a ‘Dear Robin McKinley, Would you be willing to talk a little about . . . .’ would be nice.  Plus your name at the bottom.  This is big steaming pet peeve of mine.  Put YOUR NAME at the bottom of your email.  Cheez.  You don’t have to tell me I’m your favourite author, or even your favourite author this week and next week it’s going to be E. M. Hull***.  But a quick genuflection at the altar of old-fashioned politeness?

            Yes.  Damn it. 


THANK YOU for validating the way I write. I spent much of junior high and half of high school traumatized by English teachers who insisted that you absolutely could not write anything worth reading, much less grading, unless you wrote an outline first, and then plodded through sticking exactly to that outline stage by stage; and required that you turn in the outline to prove you’d done it, then a thesis and topic sentence for each paragraph, then…. 

And this illustrates the second reason† I have let Ask Robin lapse . . . and how I was wrong to do so.  I’ve answered the ‘how I write’ question before.  Many times.   It’s almost as common as the much-dreaded Where Do You Get Your Ideas? ††  It’s another one I have nothing against rambling on about but I’m a bit conscious that I’ve said it all before (many times).  So I’m relieved that it’s new and interesting to someone.

            I am not a consistent human being.  On the one hand I don’t expect anyone to read this blog every night or to have memorised my FAQ and Author as Bitch from Hell on the web site.  I’m also extremely conscious that certain, ahem, themes appear regularly in this blog.  On the other hand I’m reluctant to recycle too blatantly.  One of the reasons I decided to drag Ask Robin out from under the bed and dust her off however is the awareness that after four (?) years of blogging pretty much everything is recycled to a greater or lesser extent and it’s a bit daft that I’m a writer and never talk about writing. 


To submit a question for Ask Robin, email

Ask Robinses are archived in the Ask Robin Archives, a veritable treasure trove of… Ask Robinses!

You can also wander over to Robin’s Web site and peruse the most excellent FAQ

— Blogmom, who doesn’t do New Year’s Resolutions either (except for one-word themes for the year)††† but will try to keep Ask Robin Archives updated regularly 

Diane in MN

I saw a sign at a colleague’s work station years ago: If a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind, what is an empty desk the sign of? Hah! Guess what MY desk looks like. 

We be of one blood, thou and I.  So, is this a genuine quote by Albert Einstein?  Because if it is it so goes in the Quote Thingy.  But the last time I tried to add an excellent Einstein quote that someone had posted to the forum—“But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid”—it turned out to be an urban myth.  

             It’s still a good remark.  Maybe we should put it, or both of them, up as ‘anonymous.’

Horsehair Braider

You mentioned doodles and I got mine!  YES! It’s totally gorgeous and I love it. I’ll probably put it in my will. . . . To any who are waiting, it is SO worth the wait. My book is a treasure, and if I ever have the opportunity to have one done again I will leap at the chance, even if I have to sell a goat to afford it. 

Oh good.  ::Relief.  Relief::   Hmm.  Maybe there’s a future bribery opportunity here:   any guest post used on Days in the Life eligible for free doodle.‡‡  But surely you’d only have to sell a few extra cheeses for the book??  I’d hate to be responsible for a goat being sold that didn’t want to be sold.


Quats: I was taught that way too, but evaded it: wrote the paper, then the outline, then the first draft, etc. and handed them in at the right times–in reverse order. 

Emphasis mine.  You are so ooooooooorganised   WhimperI can’t even begin to imagine being—or ever having been—enough ahead of the game to do this.  AAAAUGH.  I will now carry this picture of Superemoon indelibly etched in my frazzled mind as I labour back and forth between doodle-desk and writing desk. . . .

            And speaking of the latter, I bet I could get at least another paragraph or two of SHADOWS down before I terminally fall out of my chair tonight. 

* * *

* Nooooooo!  Not the Seventeenth Third Damar Novel!  Nooooooo!  

**  Column A:  Heroine.  Column B:  Hero/2nd Heroine/Other Romantic Interest Not Covered by the Foregoing.  Column C:  Heroine’s Best Friend.  Column C(a) If Column A is human, than Column C is Nonhuman.  These may be reversed if desired.  Column C(a)(1) animal (2) alien (3)  Supernatural/paranormal/fey (4) Other.^   Column D:  Villain.  Column E:  Secondary Characters Who Move the Plot Along.  Column F:  Secondary Characters Who Screw Things Up More. . . .

            This could be fun.  

^ Special considerations:  these categories may be suitably adjusted if either (A) or (B) is nonhuman.  It is however in the highest degree desirable that at least one of (A) (B) or (C) is not human.+ 

+ Oh, did I mention this is the Fantasy Writers’ Chinese Menu? 

*** In which case I will be compelled to hunt you down and force you to memorize The Complete Works of Shakespeare and of Edward George Bulwer-Lytton.  I discuss E M Hull and THE SHEIK with some emphasis on my web site. 

† All right, three main reasons.  Third reason:  indolence

†† It’s also another impossible question.  How I write also depends on the particular story.  But the beginning-to-end-three-times-in-succession is pretty much my basic bottom line.  With story-specific curlicues.  The minutiae of how and where I keep notes, when or if I ever pause or go back to edit or change something in the current draft . . . feh.  I have a strong, Don’t you have something better you could be doing than asking silly questions? reaction, but I tend to be all over the details of other people’s jobs because they’re not mine and I’m an inquisitive dork^.  So, okay, fine, but remember that if you’re another writer what I say about how I write has nothing to do with you. 

^ And also I may be able to put them in a story some day  

††† I like this idea a lot, except for the fact that the words that keep occurring to me are things like ‘multimillionaire’ and ‘thirtysixhourday’.  


‡‡ All of you who liked Horsehair Braider’s first guest post and are waiting hopefully for the next one . . . she’s sent me one^ and I’m such a mess I keep failing to get back to her about it.  Given how I keep whining about guest blogs, this should give you some clue what a basketcase I am at the moment. 

^ And it’s funny

So I overslept


So I overslept*, our organic food delivery messed up our order and we’re going to run out of broccoli**, I’ve spent more time crashed off the internet today than on it, and I’m wearing out the carpet between the kitchen, where my laptop lives, and Peter’s office, which is where the Magic Wireless Internet Box lives***, I missed half of handbells due to circumstances beyond my control, and tonight at Muddlehampton practise my voice cut out.†  One bar I was singing, next bar I was making mouth movements like a fish.  What?  This is sooooooo booooooring.  The mutant virus is still with me, in its incredibly wearisome and unwelcome way, sticking up my sinuses, my throat, and a few alveoli, and punching my energy level around.  Also in the great scheme of my life I haven’t been singing all that long since I started up again.  Blondel got me to the starting line, so to speak††, and Nadia has been trying to get me over it.†††  These things take time, especially when I’m clinging to large boulders and heavy furniture and moaning no, no, no, no.‡  But I still haven’t got the stamina to spend two hours belting it flat out with Ravenel whipping us on, and I’m especially not ready for such immoderacy when I have a mutant virus getting in the way.  I was hoarse after the wedding and I had a few laryngitic moments last week and I didn’t even go to practise.  Lessons with Nadia are only forty-five minutes and there’s usually a fair amount of talk.  The Muddlehamptons are a whole different sport:  like running a marathon when your fitness level is derived from walking five miles a day with your hellhounds.

            This probably means I don’t dare sing for Oisin tomorrow either.

            Frell.  Frellfrellfrellfrellfrellfrellfrellfrell.

Catlady:  . . . and a wombat doing the polka . . .

Wombat. Doing the polka. Of course.


 This is so typical.  As I’m reading through the doodle orders Blogmom sends me I keep whinging, oh, I don’t know how to dooooooo that, why did they ask me to do thaaaaaaaaat?  But someone says something daft on the forum and I’m all over it.

And because you usually do the polka with a partner, here are two wombats doing the polka.

* Because I couldn’t sleep last night, of course.  

** This is serious.  I can only support this much tea and chocolate because of the amount of broccoli I eat.  Green beans are nice but broccoli rules.

^ The cabbage family are all pretty domineering.    

*** I have emailed Archangel Rafael pleading for succour.  I have no idea if the email went out, of course.^  Nor how much faffing around it’s going to take to get this post hung.  I am of course assuming I will manage to hang it . . . whimper. 

^ I did finally get the rest of NUMBERLAND downloaded however, you will be delighted to hear.+  To whoever it was asked if I use the iPhone audible ap:  Yes.  I’m very simple-minded about technology.  I didn’t know there was any other way to get audible to run on Pooka.  And to the someone who recommended TEACHING PHYSICS TO YOUR DOG:  I’ll have to try it again.  The problem with popular science is the popular part.  I’m not bright enough to read the heavy-duty, can-I-see-your-PhD-from-MIT-please books, but the stuff written for people like me sometimes feels like it’s trying to be your grandmother or your best friend, the goofy one that your grandmother always liked.  I wasn’t entirely persuaded by the dog shtick. 

 + But I can’t imagine anyone but a maths whizz being able to listen to it without cracking some hard copy, on paper or your iPad screen—although that may just be my lack of excellence in maths.  But there are bits that make my brain hurt even when I can keep the page open as long as I want to and keep staring at it.  Any other weenies out there, consider yourselves warned. 

† It must have been frelling chatting with my frelling internet rangtangtangleflapping service provider. 

†† . . . or sing.  It still flashes before my eyes at undesirable moments, getting to that place in He Was Despised for the first time in a lesson with Blondel, where I had to come in without the piano and I couldn’t do it.  Speaking (or singing) of making fish mouths. 

††† Bulldozer . . . flamethrower . . . tank. 

 ‡ You would be forgiven for wondering why I decided to take voice lessons.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.

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