September 26, 2013

And the winners are…! Guest mini-blog from Blogmom

Carla C.     Sylvia C.     Nancy W.

Thanks to everyone who participated for helping us publicize SHADOWS!

For those of you who pre-ordered from Amazon and are receiving your copies, if you feel inspired to write a review, that would be lovely.

Read a sample! Order from Amazon. Order from Amazon UK.

YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!  Congratulations Carla, Sylvia and Nancy!   And thank you everyone!  –ed.

SHADOWS is coming! Win a signed copy!


SHADOWS is coming! Publication day is September 26, 2013!

Tweet it, Facebook it, blog it and you will be entered in a random drawing for a personalized signed copy of Shadows with your choice of doodle.

Ends 25-September-2013. The drawing will be held on September 26th. The winner will be notified via email.

You may enter once for each medium.

Tweet It!

Tweet this with hashtag #RMcKSHADOWS:

Love Robin McKinley’s books? SHADOWS is coming September 26th! #RMcKSHADOWS

Email with CONTEST TWITTER in the subject and your Twitter @name in the body of the message.

Facebook It!

Post this update (or similar) to your Facebook page:

Do you love fantasy author Robin McKinley’s books Blue Sword, Sunshine, Pegasus, The Hero and the Crown, Spindle’s End, and others? SHADOWS is coming in September 26th! #RMcKSHADOWS Tweet it, Facebook it, blog it to enter a drawing for a signed copy

Email with CONTEST FACEBOOK in the subject. If you win, be prepared to submit a screenshot* of your Facebook update. You may attach the screenshot to your entry if you like.

Blog It!

Use the Facebook example above or similar and post it to your blog.

Email with CONTEST BLOG POST in the subject and a link to your blog post in the body of the message.


As always, if you have questions, please email Blogmom with CONTEST QUESTION in the subject.


* Screenshot instructions for Window and for Mac.


Logistics and tea


To begin with, we have a winner in the random draw for a doodle-icious book.  This was open to anyone who advertised our auction/sale on their own blog, Twitter, Facebook, or megaphone from the top of their bell tower/castle/block of flats/apartment building/London Eye/Empire State Building/Seattle Space Needle/Machu Picchu*.  And our winner is:  danceswithpahis, from our very own forum.   Three cheers for danceswithpahis:  hip, hip, hooray!  Hip, hip, hooray!  THIGH, THIGH, GORBLIMEY!

Now then, speaking of doodles.  The three doodle-icious books in the auction went for rather higher than I was expecting, plus I’ve had another commission from a mad—I mean, a wonderful human being who really really really wants a doodled-up DEERSKIN and is willing to pay rather astonishingly for it.**   I originally said that you’d get another doodle beyond the three-doodle minimum for every $10 increment in the auction, which is still true.  But since I’ve got some slack to hang myself with, I’m going to conflate some of them so I can make a few larger, more interesting doodles as well as some standard, simple doodles.  Um.  Watch out.  I’m growing dangerous with a drawing pen in my hand.

Blogmom has also sent me the first wodge of doodle orders and . . . rrgllmmmph hee hee hee hee.  Some of you have a rather flattering if significantly untrue idea of my skills.  I’ll do my best.  And you’ll probably have some warning because the, ahem, new, original ones I’ll hang here (without attribution) before they’re put in the post.  But just to say . . . what you get may not be quite what you had in mind.  But the New Arcadia bells thank you.

Please remember that it’s only poor Blogmom doing all the admin—and only me doing all the doodling, and only Fiona doing the packing up and hauling off to the post office.   We’re doing the best we can***, but it’s going to take a little while.  Unless Fiona’s day job bites her and we have to reschedule, she’ll be taking what I hope will be the majority of the sale/auction results to the post office on the 25th of this month.   I’ll tell you how I’m doing nearer time.

One last important thing:  orders that haven’t been paid for or have a PayPal payment pending by the 20th of October† will be cancelled.  If we were a company with staff we could both let it run on longer and send you gentle reminders of the deadline.††  But we aren’t.  You’d be amazed at the amount of stuff there is to keep track of in just a little auction.  Okay, I hope you’d be amazed.†††  Having a prompt, no-bones deadline KA-CHUNK is merely a trying-to-keep-things-a-little-under-control‡ measure and you won’t be drummed out of the forum‡‡ or anything if you miss it.‡‡‡

Speaking of things that are taking longer than planned:  Blogmom has generously agreed to put off her Caribbean cruise till the auction/sale is rolled up and put away like Christmas decorations by the middle of January§, but she’s not going to put the new doodle window up till she’s had at least two good nights’ sleep in a row and can remember her own name.  She or I will let you know . . .

* * *

In one of those The Universe is Messing With Your Head conjunctions, today was the day Vicky had ordained that I would help with the teas-for-pensioners at the church hall.  Teas-for-pensioners has been going on off and on for years, mostly depending on there being someone who is willing to organise and run it.  At the moment, Tuesday afternoon tea and cake is being run by the bell ringers and for a ridiculous amount of volunteer effort, including making the cakes, we’re allowed to keep the proceeds.  With five of us slicing, pouring and washing-up . . . I guess we may have made £30.  Okay, £35.  Tops.  In two and a half hours I could have drawn how many doodles—?  Never mind.  It’s one of those community things, and it was pretty amusing, at least to a people-watcher.  The way the hall is set up, the kitchen runs along one side, and there’s a long open counter most of its length, like what you might see in a café, where the waiters hand over their orders and pick up the food.  So when you’re not pouring or washing-up you have a grand view of the proceedings.  Vicky and Roger and a non-ringer were on the wild side, while another non-ringer and I were in the kitchen.  I managed to overhear frustrating pieces of what sounded like several really good feuds, and one of pensioners has a crush on Roger.§§  And I swear Vicky could sell ice floes to a penguin, not that the home-made cakes needed much impetus to fly off the table onto individual plates.

It was still two and a half hours on my feet when I could have been at home at my desk.  So I’d better go draw something, and then sing something and then go to bed.

* * *

* Hey.  We got very good feedback on the Machu Picchu shout out.

** We are not making any more exceptions or taking any more commissions right now.  I’ve got too much to do—and thank you very much!!! for giving me so much to do!—but I need to get on with what there is.  If you find that you simply cannot live without a doodled-up something or other, there will be an opportunity later.  Have some chocolate and be cheerful.

*** And Blogmom deserves a medal.

† There are a few of you still waiting on final totals for postage and insurance.  Don’t worry:  Blogmom knows who you are, and if we need—which, please the gods, we will not—to extend the deadline for you, we will.

†† I would be out in the street if it weren’t for two things:  Direct Debit, which means you can tell your bank ‘pay these people’ and they’ll do it for you automatically, and the fact that things like the city council do send you (fairly) gentle reminders that your council tax is seriously due.

††† I think I hear some hollow laughter.  Clearly a few of you do have some idea.

‡ Cough cough cough cough cough

‡‡ Or blocked on Twitter.  Sigh.

‡‡‡ But you’ll be very very sorry not to have the doodle of Wolfgang repelling the taralian army or Darkness playing the piano while Chaos sings.  Joking!  Just joking!

§ An extremely ill-judged metaphor in this household.

§§ Roger is my age.  And took early retirement.  I can’t retire, but that’s another issue.

When There Are No Words There Are Still Doodles


You’ve still got a fortnight left to buy or bid on something!   The New Arcadia Bell Restoration Fund auction/sale is live 

. . . . Bluuuuuuh, continued.  Service ring this morning was interesting.  I was clinging fuzzily to the treble and then Niall called for frelling Cloisters.  It’s not that it’s difficult—it isn’t—but it does require that the treble wake up and pay attention.  Then I came home and drank tea till I was in danger of rattling off my chair. . . . I am going to my voice lesson tomorrow.  I don’t know what I’ll do once I get there, but I am going.  And, gods save both of us, I have an old friend I haven’t seen in over a decade passing through Mauncester on Tuesday.  It would be nice to be speaking in complete sentences.  I suppose I could just shove doodles at her. . . .

            To all of those anxious people posting to the forum and writing me little apologetic emails:    I am not keeping track.  You won’t be drummed out of the forum if you don’t pony up for my bells.  Bidding in the auction and/or buying a doodle or a book is supposed to be fun.  It’s not required.  Sure, I want to raise funds for my bells, but trust me, I know about being short of money.  If your roof fell off last night, you can buy another shingle for the price of a doodle.  I totally understand.  Also, because I am me, I will probably totally screw something up during the auction/sale—there will be opportunity for any screw-ups or falling into technological chasms to be sorted out because there will be me to sort out.  This is the good side of not being amazon, okay?  Don’t worry.

And now . . . how about an opportunity to win a doodled up book?  All you have to do is spread the word.

Tweet it, Facebook it, blog it! Win a doodle-licious book!

Help us publicize Robin McKinley’s Sale and Auction in support of the New Arcadia Bell Restoration Fund!  Tweet it, Facebook it and blog it and you will be entered in a random drawing for a signed and dedicated doodle-licious Robin McKinley book of your choice with five** doodles to be scattered through the text at the author’s discretion.

Handbell ringer having a Very Bad Day



Tower bell ringer having a Very Bad Day

Please note that this person, while unfortunate, will nonetheless be welcome back next week, because he*** is still following the Tower Bell Ringer’s First Rule which is never let go of the tail end.   

* * *

 * I love it.  Me saying ‘don’t worry.’  hahahahahahahahahahaha  

** Blogmom originally said ten doodles and I said GLEEEEEEP.  Even the auctioned books only start at three.  But you never know, I might be inspired.  

*** I think both these victims of circumstance look rather he-ish.  The main thing is that you can tell by the fact that their shoes have discernable heels on them and are therefore definitively not All Stars that neither of them is me.

Aspects of the Magnificence of Hellhounds


Hellhounds are such ridiculous creatures.  But cute.  Fortunately.  When we were out on our morning hurtle today we met Penelope walking home with her Saturday shopping.*   We began to discuss bell ringing personalities** and what it is to be a bell ringer and have a life.  Penelope is better about the having-a-life than I am:  she’s not an obsessive.  She has perspective.***  She even made the shocking remark that while she likes ringing some of what she does is only to Support Niall.†  She does not lie awake nights wondering why she can’t ring Stedman Triples yet.†† 

            Anyway.  There was so much to say about ringing and personalities that hellhounds and I accompanied her the rest of the way, and she invited us in for a cup of tea.  Well, the hellhounds got water.  I got tea.†††  Niall was home so we all sat round drinking tea.  I sat on the floor, the better to suppress hellhounds, who are not accustomed to the excitement of visiting other people’s houses, but they’re reasonably willing to collapse in heaps as long as I’m there too.  And in fact I often do sit on the floor:  as long as there’s a carpet between me and the cruel reality of floorboards or tile I may very well prefer sitting on the floor.  It gives you a better excuse to fidget, and I’m a fidget.‡ 

            But after we’d discussed ringing, books, film‡‡, opera, food, gardening, the state of the global economy and chickens‡‡‡, I needed a pee before hellhounds and I started home.  This meant hellhounds had to stay where they were for the sixty seconds or so it would take me to bolt to the loo and back again.

            They stayed.  Although they were in their best Ancient Hellhound God Lying Down Posture when I reappeared, where nothing on this mere mortal earth can maintain the curve of their bellies, their long straight necks have disappeared into the sky, and their bright beaming eyes are in danger of making holes in the walls.  They are so cute.§  Of course when I said what good dogs, they broke and threw themselves at me.  But that’s okay.  They’re my hellhounds. 

* * *

* Er, wow.  I’m willing to lug a certain amount in a backpack, but even aside from the fact that if I’m on foot I probably have leads in both hands I hate carrying shopping bags farther than to a nice, nearby car park. 

** MMMPHRRRGGGLMMMMPH.   The stories I could tell. . . .  But I won’t.^ 

^ No.  I’m going to tell one story because it presses my buttons.  One of our teenage learners pretty much only shows up when he doesn’t have a better offer.  This is disappointing but fairly standard, and kids are worth putting the time in on because if they come back to it later, when their kids are half grown and they start having the occasional free evening, they pick it up so much faster+—also, simply having ringing registered in their minds as something that is out there to do, so they might come back to it, is worth some effort. 

            Last night our, um, Bad Frederick appeared for the first time in months.  He rang some perfectly respectable call changes and we were all telling him how glad we were to see him and how if he’d just keep coming we’d get him started again on plain hunt . . . and then he pulled out some papers he wanted Niall to fill out and sign for him.  I didn’t register if it was school or scouting or the Duke of Edinburgh or what, but the point was that he’d shown up merely to get his certification from the ringing master that he does, in fact, ring bells.  We all blinked a bit at the blatancy of it and Vicky said encouragingly, you should come on Sunday mornings, you’ll get more time on a rope because we always need ringers on Sunday mornings and it’s time on a rope you need to consolidate what you can do.  (Bad Frederick is a walking-distance local, like Niall and Penelope and Vicky and me—and Monty, who is Bad Frederick’s age, but still manages to show up most Friday nights and Sunday mornings.).

            Oh, I’m never awake that early, said Bad Frederick, and disappeared down the ladder.

            Vicky knows Bad Frederick’s dad.  In this particular case I jolly well hope the brat catches some heat. 

+ Insert the grinding of teeth here of a 59-year-old woman whose early experience of ringing when she started again six years ago was from when she was 48.  

*** You’ll notice that even my doodles are low on perspective. 

† Penelope is also Niall’s not-so-secret weapon when he’s so desperate to scrape together another handbell evening at his house that he tries to put the persuaders on me.  Penelope is making a cake, he says.  I’ll be there, I reply.  

†† Because we haven’t got the band.  Next question. 

††† And the winner of the free doodle is . . . blondviolinist, who clearly knows me better than I realised, for ‘where there is tea there is hope’.  The funny thing is that Annagail’s guess, which is the very next one on the forum thread, was the followup:  ‘Ever try. Ever fail. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.’  Annagail said:  I’ve never been able to decide if that quote is depressing or inspiring. Or both. But it’s a good one for days when it just Ain’t Workin.  Yes.  Agree.  Which is probably why ‘where there is tea’ won.^  But as words I do live by, ‘fail better’ are probably nearer the mark, I’m just not sure I want my iPad reminding me every time I pick it up to play Montezuma or Fingerzilla.  Which is also why ‘I love deadlines, I love the whooshing sound . . .’ didn’t get chosen:  I really don’t need that one reinforced every time I pick it^^  up to play Montezuma or Fingerzilla.

            It’s funny about ‘fit’ because all your guesses were good ones.^^^   But I have an anxious enough relationship with my ability to write my stories down, I don’t want to bring going after things with clubs into it, although he’s right.  And ‘people say life is the thing, but I prefer reading’ has been true all my, er, life, and is the personal entropy I have to resist.^^^^  Of course I wouldn’t put any quotes up that I don’t like, but you lot seem to have figured out which ones are close to my bone.  Hmmmm.  I wonder if I should worry . . .

            Now then, blondviolinist, if you would be so kind as to tell me what doodle you would prefer?  A knitting violin?^^^^^

^ Also, Raphael voted for ‘tea’.  I was holding up ORDERING MY iPAD by my indecisiveness. 

^^ She’ll need a name.  But I’ll wait till she arrives. 

^^^ I’m a little surprised no one suggested ‘On the internet no one knows you’re a dog.’ 

^^^^ There are weeks when entropy wins.  Herein lies the magnificence of hellhounds.  Peter understands the need to disappear out of reality.  Hellhounds don’t.  Hellhounds think that a few hours on the sofa are excellent and should happen more often.  But they then want to get up and do something.  Hurtle.  Interact.+  Stare at the food in their bowls.  Enough with the reading, say hellhounds. 

+ An interaction:  Seen coming toward us a black-and-white streak of border collie, head low and ready for business.  I hate low-headed streaking border collies:  they bite.  They don’t bite hard, but they can nip hell out of your ankles and cause distress and consternation among hellhounds.  FRELL, I said, and left the path, hoping she would decide that honour is satisfied and streak past.  Forlorn hope:  border collies are all about herding.  Sheep substitutes that leave the path are all part of the day’s work.  She shot up to us . . . and flung herself at the hellhounds’ feet, tail wagging furiously.  Oh, her owner did eventually show up.  Gah.  

^^^^^ Caveat.  If you want something outré, you have to let me post it first.  Always Looking for Blog Material. 

‡ This may be one of the reasons I like handbells.  Organised fidgeting.   I can sit in a chair if my hands get to twitch and wriggle.  Handbell tea breaks at Niall’s house . . . I sit on the floor.  Very nice carpet they have. 

‡‡ Including Penelope’s new film society, which starts up this autumn.  Stay tuned.  She’s another one who has a little trouble with the ‘copious free time’ concept.  

‡‡‡ Penelope has chickens.  And one of them is sitting on eggs that are due to hatch in about a fortnight.  Little cute fluffy yellow cheeping things with wings!^  Yaaaay! 

^ Except for the yellow part, you might mistake them for bats. 

§ Speaking of little, way too cute, and bats, abigailmm posted this:   Is it possible to be any cuter?  Awwwwwww.


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