July 11, 2011

Silly Signing Clothing Contest results (. . . finally)


Because I am a whimsical hellgoddess, I am giving away three copies of the UK PEGASUS.*  First I did the one that I was supposed to be doing.  This involved counting up all the entries**, applying to the random number generator, and then counting up over again to the number it produced.

            I don’t entirely believe in random, I think.  It bothers me.  It’s like ‘there are no coincidences’.  There is no random either.  And it always feels unfair to the fewer Twitter and FB entries.  So I did it again.  The first count was from the top of the forum, with the few FBs and Twitters at the end.  The second count started at the end . . . and I feel vindicated, which is as dumb as not believing in random, because while the first count put me well into the middle of the list, which would have meant the forum somewhere, whichever end I put FB and Twitter on, the second count was just a handful in—so one of the Twitters won. 

            And then the third one is me diverting myself again.  I did a shorter list of about twenty that were my favourites (including the inflatable cow, the dwarven whatsit, and the yarn fairy).  And drew a third time.

And the winners are:

heather.dawn from the forum as Top Snowflake

@bridgetlittle from Twitter for the PINK costume

Julia from the forum as Thing 1.

If you’d please email me (nuraddin at robinmckinley dot com) with street addresses and whether you’d like me to write ‘to . . . .’ above my signature (you do want it signed, don’t you?).  And any of you who may have been entering to show willing rather than because you wanted a second, British-ed copy, I’m happy to sign it to someone else. 

* * *

Skating librarian

Listening to the news from London last night on BBC World, the only semi-literary news was the premier of the Deathly Hallows II, so I assumed that all was well at Forbidden Planet and that a Pegasus had not swooped down to carry Robin off to Olympus.

As a few of us were walking across the pedestrian bridge from Waterloo we were accosted by two young women with American accents.  Where is Trafalgar Square? they said.  My—English—friends instantly deferred to me.  Trafalgar Square I can do, so I gave directions.  The one who had asked the question said, Where are you from?  Maine, I said.  We’re from California! she said, and ran ahead, obviously in a hurry to get to Trafalgar Square.  I would not have registered this except that one of my companions said, that’ll be for the Deathly Hallows premiere.  And as we were crossing that tangle of streets in front of the Charing Cross station we looked interestedly to our left—toward Trafalgar Square—and saw a Raised Knobbly Landscape of Solid Standing Humanity.  I can’t even imagine wanting to see/be at something that involved standing half-crushed in a crowd of thousands.  And just as we disappeared behind the railings of the little slip road that drops you in St Martin’s Lane there was an Enormous Roar.  It was one of those moments when I am reminded that I like not being monumentally famous.  I don’t know if every writer (possibly even including J K Rowling) thinks it would be nice to sell just a few more books, but I’m fairly sure that in my case I mean a few. 

            One of the minor entertainments of the evening was that I morphed mysteriously into our Native Guide.  Since Waterloo is my train station and I like to walk, this is my end of London—and it is a confusing end of London, all those mad little Soho streets—but it was still pretty funny. 


I wasn’t imagining Robin & friends getting drunk [when I fell off the air for a day]…but I was imagining humongous storms, muggings, train wrecks, trains held for hours in pouring rain miles from any station, falls, sprained or broken joints, sick hellhounds, sick people, burglars, the Mother of All Bats crashing through the ceiling and explaining in high, batty squeaks why blocking up bat access was wrong, car stuck in mud…etc.

(Yes, I’m good at this. It’s called being a writer who has to put characters in peril. I can imagine more kinds of peril than exist.)

YES!  YES!  YES!  I commented on the forum (‘I am so there’) about this already, but ‘I can imagine more kinds of peril than exist’ keeps rolling around in my head.  Yes.  Rocs.  Evil magicians.  Taralians.  Vampires.  Hellgoddesses.  No, wait . . . I’m a nice hellgoddess.  I just gave away three copies of PEGASUS!

[in answer to Knitronomicon saying her photos weren’t that good] I said:

Yes, situations like that are a ratbag to photograph as I know from experience. You get better photos if you don’t use the flash–but then you have to be made of iron bolts to hold the camera steady enough. And no one can whap into you as you’re pressing the trigger.

            . . . And what I should have added is that I hate having random flashes going off in my face, so thank you very much everyone who turned their flash OFF in deference to my maintaining my train of thought.***  Someone who brandishes a camera at me and says ‘May I?’, and particularly anyone buying a book for me to sign who wants to take a photo too, that’s perfectly fine, flash or no flash, because I’ve been warned.  But people hanging around taking photos of the proceedings generally, those flashes need to be off. 

Sally W

“A signed book is a sold book.” (as in, it can’t be returned).

This isn’t the hard and fast rule that it was when we were young.  My old publisher, Greenwillow, would take back signed books long before anyone else was doing this, and there are quite a few publishers now who will.  I’m pretty sure Penguin USA will.  It never did make much sense, you know?   How can the author signing the book count as defacing it?  But I know that was the industry-wide default for a long time. 


i’m jealous. massively jealous. i would have come to the signing if i was in london. but alas, i am in new york. perhaps there might be an upcoming signing in new york???

Black Bear replied:

Robin doesn’t generally travel overseas these days due to health reasons (see posts re: ME) but if she ever does plan a signing for NY I’m sure we’ll be first to know!! 

Sadly this is an aggrieved subject.  Most publishers do still think in terms of dragging the live bodies of their authors around to a variety of three-dimensional venues . . . and it’s come up with me for every book I’ve written since . . . er . . . well, more or less since I stopped touring and/or going to conventions.  First I moved to England and then I developed ME.  I’ve never been a good traveller—I’m an introvert, social stuff, including professional social stuff, wears me out, it doesn’t charge me up—but I used to enjoy seeing new bits of countryside, and, crucially, I used to bounce back a lot faster than I do now.  The ME means not only do they send me home in a soup tureen but it takes me several eons to re-evolve lungs and opposable thumbs. †   It’s just not worth it.  Which is not to say that we won’t have the same conversation over PEG II, nor that some day I probably will have a signing in NYC again.  Just don’t hold your breath.


Wow Robin!! That skirt looks AWESOME!! You look young enough to be my older sister. (I’m 30.) 

It is a good skirt.  I’d forgotten what a good skirt it is.  I’m glad I was having an attack of the Do Not Go Gentles.  But . . . I don’t, actually.  Look young enough to be your older sister.  (Unless your mother had us really far apart.)  Cameras lie.  As I’ve previously noted.  The thing that amuses the frellbangers out of me, the last few years, since the blog and comparatively regular photos of yours truly—yours truly who has hated being on the business end of cameras with a red-eyed sweat-drenched passion all her life—is that I take much better photos now than I did when I was younger, because I just don’t care that much any more.  One of the perks of getting old—as I’ve also said—I care a whole lot less about a lot of dumb stuff that used to wind me up something fierce—and for you regular readers who have some concept about how many things there still are that wind me up something fierce, well:  yes.  You don’t want to linger on this thought very long.  It’s also true that I still don’t like bad or misleading photos of me, and I’ll delete them if I can, but they don’t keep me awake nights the way they used to.

            But I don’t look 35, or even 40, whatever the photos say.  I maybe look 50 rather than sixteen months off 60.  But I don’t look young.  I look well preserved, that awful phrase.  I’m just robustly moving the goal posts about what constitutes acceptable behaviour in the almost-60.  ‘Wears black leather miniskirt’ is now inside the lines.


I’m sorry to hear that the local computer system went all wonky, you don’t need that kind of stress after a public appearance. Thank you for your heroic effort to get blog and pictures up, I enjoy them terribly much but feel guilty that you had to fight with your computer to make it all happen!

I did NOT need that kind of stress immediately after a public appearance.  But the blog is one of the things I now do:  Don’t feel guilty.  The blog and I are one of the infinity of re-enactments of the irresistable force and the immovable object.  It would be like feeling guilty for the hellhounds not eating.  Wait . . . that’s not you, is it?  I keep thinking there must be a reason. . . .

            More tomorrow.  I need more sleep. 

* * *

* Fortunately my author’s copies arrived on Friday.  It would be harder to give them away if I didn’t have them yet.  And I confess I would object to giving away my single advance copy if I had stayed within my own rules and only gave one away. 

** Which was pretty funny:  I’d said that if you were wearing your costume you’d go in the draw twice, and empty clothing laid over a chair would only count once.  Almost everyone was a twosie.  The final count therefore was like, wow!  What a great turnout! 

*** such as it is 

† See:  SUNSHINE tour.  Which I still survived massively better than I expected.

Signing Eve


Thanks to everyone who entered the Silly Signing Clothing Contest.  I’m afraid it’ll probably be Friday before I can cope with the counting and the random number generator, but . . . THANK YOU.   A copy of the UK PEGASUS will be coming toward one of you soon.

* * *



            I don’t think I can keep this up for long. . . .

            As I think I tweeted to someone recently, the only real attraction of public appearances for me is the excuse to wear silly clothing.  I’ve always loved dressing up, it’s just that having got dressed up and made my entrance I’m ready to go home again and put my jeans back on.  Parties.  Shudder.  One of the additional problems with parties is that generally speaking you’re trying to look your best at a party, rather than like a raging loony, and my idea of fun threads tends toward the raging loony end.†  At least with an author gig I know what I’m there for††, which is to Engage Directly with Some Small Portion of My Audience—aside from the nightmarish possibility that no one will come†††—and so long as whatever you’re wearing doesn’t restrict your mouth or your writing arm you can answer questions and sign books dressed as the Lambton Worm‡ or the Houses of Parliament as well as in a twinset and a modest tweed skirt.  I suppose you shouldn’t frighten your publicist.‡‡  In my experience your audience can usually swing with whatever is on offer, although that may be due to the flexibility of the fantasy-reading intellect.

            I’m at the never mind, it’ll be over soon stage.  As I was also tweeting to someone recently (I think), the vast VAST majority of my readers are lovely.  They are both polite and enthusiastic, they buy books, they form a queue to the right when someone tells them that’s where the queue forms and they are generally either articulate or have pleasant giggles. . . . But I, of course, remember the ones who have travelled five hundred miles to tell me how much they hate my books‡‡‡, the ones that feel that my feminism distorts my view of reality, the ones who think my books would be pretty good if I’d only had the benefit of their insight sooner, and that my next books could be better if I’d keep their advice in mind . . . and the ones that have brought a specially printed out copy of their 1000-page manuscript (the first of a series) so I can take it home with me and read it.§  I am short on people skills!  I can blow you off by email much more efficiently!  I also am a terrible wuss.  Unless you piss me off—which, granted, is perhaps not that hard to do—I hate hurting people’s feelings.  I’ve been wrong-footed so frelling many times simply by giving way when I should’ve grimly held my line like the Greeks at Thermopylae. 

            But tomorrow is going to be great, right?

            It’ll be over soon . . .

* * *

There were no bats last night.  At least I think there weren’t any.  I did turn my light out and promptly dive under a carefully prior-arranged rampart of pillows, having also spent what energy I had in telling myself they were only little bats, they were not a big deal even in the bedroom with me, and if it came to that I could just sleep through the beating of tiny wings and the ambling of tiny bodies over the hummock under the bedclothes that is me.  And if I believed that I had a nice bridge I could sell myself later.  I lay there under my pillows straining to pretend I wasn’t straining for any sound of tiny beating wings. . . . And there wasn’t any such sound.  I think.  Maybe I’m just deafer than I realise.§§  Eventually I fell asleep . . .  And Atlas has now spent two more days sealing up anything that REMOTELY resembles a hole§§§, and we wait upon events.

            Also, it’s raining.  Fiona mentioned this yesterday#, but I’d been thinking about it.  It’s already been put forward as a theory that one reason my bats may have broken through into the house this year is because of the drought.  A lot of their usual sources have dried up, and they can smell the water in my tank—and to a bat smaller than the palm of my hand, the splashes in the sink may count as a good drink.##   Atlas plugged a lot of the obvious holes . . . and it started raining.  I didn’t have bats for several weeks, and we had a fair amount of rain, off and on, for several weeks.  Then it stopped raining again.  I started having to water my garden again.  And the bats returned.  I still want TO FINISH BLOCKING ENTRY HOLES.  I DO NOT WANT BATS IN THE HOUSE EVEN IF IT’S A DESERT OUT THERE.  But it is a bit suggestive.  It rained yesterday and today too.  Not a lot—my monarda is still moaning that it’s thirsty, it’s always thirsty—but what I hope might be enough for bats no bigger than the palm of my hand.  Even four hundred and ten of them.

* * *

* Okay, the ‘lots’ would be good. 

** And possibly a few others

*** ::Whining noises::  —Who, me?  It’s the hellhounds.  Who are, for the moment, eating.

† An additional reason why I am loath to give up the black leather mini is because it’s such good theatre.  One of the major drawbacks of the SUNSHINE tour, aside from the simple fact of it being a tour, is that I did not want to get into the vampire chic thing—I am so not dangerous or Goth, you know?—so I regretfully left the sillier end of my leather collection at home.  But PEGASUS?  Totally the moment for a black leather mini.  Never mind my age. 

†† Unlike at a party.  What am I here for?  Is there champagne?  Is it properly cold? 

††† ::Suppressed rant on the subject of advertising::  Sometimes you’re just not J K Rowling and that’s all there is to it.  But the occasions that have left marks on my soul have been totally frelling frelled by the shop in question.  Grrrrr.  

‡ They deserved to be cursed to nine generations for killing the dog.  

‡‡ The Houses of Parliament may be over that line. 

‡‡‡ Or anyway have travelled 500 miles to attend the convention partly so they could come to my panel and tell me what a festering pustule on the face of literature I am.  Eeep. 

§ And the junior high track one English lit teachers who have assigned SUNSHINE to their seventh graders without having read it first. 

§§ Any of you other middle-aged and growing deaf out there, have you noticed the way you only go deaf for stuff you want to be able to hear?  The idiot conversation at the next table or the sound of tiny wings you hear as clearly as a twelve-year-old. 

§§§ And I bet the Bat Conservation Trust does not allocate grants to beleaguered householders paying for weeks of a professional carpenter’s time. 

# Possibly while we were in the car on our way to the yarn store.  I needed cheering up, okay? 

## And yes, I’m aware that my saucers of water strategy may not be in my own best interests, but if I must have bats I prefer live frisky bats rather than sad dehydrated dying bats.

The Crossword Competition – and The Winners (guest post by AJLR)


(Note:  keep scrolling.  –hellgoddess)

Judging by the speed of the first few submissions of completed answers after the puzzle was made available, and the fun that many of you said you had with the competition, we obviously have a lot of thorough and devoted readers of Robin’s books. Which we already knew, of course. :)  And the compilation of the crossword gave me an extra layer of respect for Robin’s world-building skills. All that background detail in each story, all hanging together and making sense, all coming from one person’s imagination and sense of logical progression!

All of the 37 entries were correct (with one late-but-just-in-time amendment that was allowed) and I hope that the entrants didn’t end up with little squinty eyes from going backwards and forwards through so much screen text. Several participants commented that they’d thought they would remember more of the answers from earlier readings of the books than they actually did, particularly spellings. All I can say to that is that there must be a lot of people around here who have encyclopaedic memories!

And so to the three winners. These were drawn using a nice little random number picker that Blogmom passed on to me (thanks, Blogmom) and are:

1. Sarah (scribblous)
2. Diane (dllreader)
3. Rodrigo

Would those three people please email (using the same email address you sent your entry from) the mods(at)robinmckinleysblog.com address, ie the same one that was used for entry submissions, and let us know  a) your full name and postal address so that your prize can be posted to you and b) the words you would like inscribed inside it. Please do this as soon as possible and in any case before midday (British time) this coming Saturday, 9th July, at the very latest. Any later than that and it’s entirely possible that Robin’s bats will by then have flown off with your copy and awarded it to someone else…

Silly, and bats


Only twenty-four hours left to enter the Silly Signing Clothing Competition for a signed copy of the UK edition of PEGASUS.   And just so you know how desirable this prize is:

The British are all about strap lines. I have no idea. But then I'm not British. I just live here.

 Here it is with the original American hardback, so you can see that it’s a very nice trade paper edition.

Aren't they PRETTY?

 There’s a thread in ‘Talk’ in the forum here to post either photos or links to photos of ravishing outfits which I have to say most of them are, and I hope it’s not putting off those of you who took the challenge the way I initially meant it, which is to say silly.  You do not have to be ravishing to enter.  You only have to be silly.  And for any of you anxious about appearing in public* . . . you could hang a photo of yourself in your standard garb of (say) t shirt and jeans** with a bag over your head.  This would count as an entry, because it’s silly, it would save your blushes, and it would put me in the interesting position of deciding whether it counted as a onesy or a twosy, I having said that if you’re wearing your silly signing clothing you get counted twice in the drawing . . . but it’s true that I was assuming that your face would be showing. 

            Anyway, rules, such as they are, are here:   http://robinmckinleysblog.com/2011/07/03/the-sscc/  And while at the moment all the entries are on the forum there are a FB thread and a Twitter hashtag #sillypeg*** available for your convenience and the fruits of your sartorial inspiration.

            And so as promised (several days ago) here’s the black leather mini that started it all.† 

Short. Yes. The books are there to provide scale.

And silly?  I’ll be sixty years old in sixteen months and I’m going to wear this thing?   It doesn’t get sillier.  And yes, as almost-sixty-year-old women go, I’m well preserved.  That doesn’t alter the fact that I’m sixteen months off sixty.  And you know the real reason I have essentially cornered myself into wearing it?  It’s a teeny, ridiculous, middle-aged-and-still-kicking version of Do not go gentle. ††  Feh.  I don’t do dignity, I’m still fond of it, it’s still in my drawer, so WTF.  Silly is good. 

            . . . I’m now going to bed early and may it be to some effect.  There was a slight outbreak of bats last night—and when your night begins with turning the light back on just to check that that faint whirr followed by a plop wasn’t a bat, and . . . finding a bat in your LAP†††, the adrenaline level gets a bit intense.  And she was but the first.  They’re now clearly getting through INTO MY BEDROOM somewhere—somewhere—Atlas has been here again today and pretty much everything that lives on a shelf in either my bedroom or the bathroom is all over the floor, the house smells of polyfilla, Atlas is coming back again tomorrow and I have a signing on Thursday. . . .

* * *

* With which I have total sympathy.  I’ve been violently allergic to cameras all my life and ironically have only got over it (sort of) because of the frelling blog.  The basic reason I hate cameras is that contrary to the mythology THEY LIE.  But enough photos in aggregate do build up toward something like a human being. 

** Extra points for All Stars 

*** I’ve mysteriously had two emails and a tweet from three (I’m assuming three different) people who say they’ve posted to #sillypeg on Twitter . . . but none of them has appeared.  The only tweets are mine and EMoon’s.  If any of you is reading this . . . you need to try again.  I won’t count anything I can’t see however politely you tell me you’ve entered.^

^ I suppose I could have a separate category of Invisible Costumes.  What a silly idea. 

† Although I’m still mourning, in a snarly sort of way, Ajlr’s pink catsuit.  

†† http://www.bigeye.com/donotgo.htm  We can discuss Thomas’ gender-exclusive world view some other time.  It’s still a great poem. 

††† Who meandered off down the duvet and flew a short hop to a picture frame to tuck herself behind.  You could see her thinking ‘turn that frelling light off, will you?’

Boomerang Day


Remember that the Silly Signing Clothing Contest for a signed copy of the UK edition of PEGASUS is in full, erm, swing.  You can post to the thread in the forum in Talk, to last night’s Facebook thread, and to Twitter #sillypeg any time till midnight Wednesday—and let me just add that I will be very sad if the Twitter hashtag doesn’t get used.  So far we’ve had a good handful of entries in the forum*, but most of the people who said they’d be willing to enter are still digging through their closets and scratching their heads, and there’s lots of room for everyone.  Please enter!  I’m enjoying all this vicarious toggery immensely! 

 * * *

Another day which began, as so many of my days do, last night.  I frittered way too much time on the blog—here I had a given brief, suitable-for-Saturday-night-before-Sunday-morning-service-ring blog waiting for me:  a couple of photos and a few rules of engagement and I’m outta here. 

            But there was the concert.  And I REALLY wasted some time trying to figure out how to talk about the actual music without sounding like an ignorant prat and/or boring to death those of you who would rather be shot at dawn than spend an evening listening to a herd of classically trained singers doing what they do.**  I failed.  So I told you about trolls and ticket anti-technology instead.***

            And then hellhounds refused to eat their supper.†  Refused.  Pointblank.   Again.  And I hung around wasting more time waiting. . . .

            I got about three and a half hours of sleep last night.  Not good.

            This morning Niall, who is an unspeakable fiend, called for Stedman.  This is appalling enough on a Sunday morning but it was additionally appalling in this case.  The rope on the six broke at Friday practise and wasn’t replaced till after service ring, which meant we had to ring around the absence of bell number six.  USUALLY when you’re ringing six of eight bells you ring either the front six or the back six.  For complex harmonic reasons Niall and Edward decided we’d ring . . . the one, three, four, five, seven and eight.  I was on the five.  Which is to say bell four of the method.  The fifth bell of our particular eight is getting on for being moderately big.  Not big big but big enough that you can’t yank it around with impunity—so if you gleep your dodges, well, they stay gleeped, because you can’t recover quickly enough:  the bell’s too heavy.††  I’ve only recently even begun to ring methods on the five—as opposed to baby things like call changes and plain hunt—and here I am on a Sunday morning on three and a half hours of sleep ringing it in Stedman and, furthermore, pretending to be the four.  And ringing over the three which is the two, the four which is the three, and the seven which is the five.  I cannot begin to tell you how confusing this was.

            But we did it.  Even in spite of the fact that frelling Edward called a touch.  So I reeled out of the tower††† thinking hey, maybe it’s going to be a good day after all.

            And then Darkness didn’t eat lunch having not eaten supper last night either.  Damn.  Frell.  Two in a row with these guys is yellow alert:  whoop whoop whoop.  DAMN. 

            AND THEN I FOUND A BAT IN THE BATHROOM.  NOOOOOOOOOOO  NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.  This is the first bat I’ve seen since Atlas—as we hoped—blocked up all the holes. 

            But both hellhounds ate dinner.  Okay, if this is one of fate’s clever-cute trade-offs, I’ll take the bat and the hellhounds eating.  Please the gods they eat supper.  And I get some sleep. . . .  Am I allowed to ask for sleep without the sound of wings. . . ?

 * * *

 * Several of them seriously fabulous.  ::Clothing lust:: 

** Somehow boring you to death with tales of, say, bell ringing isn’t in the same category.  The Seraphim are awesome.  Any bell ringing with me in it is not awesome. 

*** I missed out the waterlilies in the Crusaders’ Garden.  I kept thinking about them today.   There’s an enormous pond covered in waterlilies.  They were closed up for the night when we were there.  Speaking of awesome:  wouldn’t I love to see that pond at midday.  But I don’t think the garden is generally open to the hoi polloi.   

† I gave up on breakfast a long time ago.  But in the interests of both more opportunities to present them with food and the fact that sighthound digestion tends to be delicate even when there are no additional challenges involved, I added the third meal round at the back end.  So they get lunch, dinner and supper.  

†† Good ringers will tell you (endlessly) that it’s all about accuracy anyway, not brute strength.  I know.  But I’m not a good ringer. 

††† Having also survived a touch of Grandsire doubles when the conductor changed his mind about what he was calling halfway through a call, and I happened to be one of the affected bells.  I swear the bell did that one all by itself.  I can’t respond that fast even when I’ve had enough sleep.

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