January 30, 2012

A little tangential Mongo and some Ask Robin


Note that I could die for Mongo Fangirl.*  But if I write another word of SHADOWS right now I will explode into messy little pieces.  And I am going to my singing lesson tomorrow.  And probably bell ringing tomorrow night.**  I’m starting to get all strange and lumpy from being bent over my computer so all-consumingly.*** 

               I have no brain to organise a blog post, but I might be able to blither along a little.  So let’s have a couple more Ask Robins for framework.  Which I may or may not manage to answer sensibly.

I realized during this readthrough that I had been taking for granted that the different ways to be a vampire meant Con is the vegetarian of vampires. Rarely killing, rarely human meals, etc. But this time through, I realized that he made no such statements. Am I reading too far into his beneficence?

Yes.  He’s a vampire.  He’s a proper vampire.  What he doesn’t do is torture people, the way Bo does.  The thing about Con is that he has a genuine sense of honour.  He accepts the obligation accepting help from Sunshine has put him under . . . and then later recognizes that an alliance is the best chance for each of them to survive Bo’s vengeance.   Despite the charge between them being allied with a human woman does not make him happy.  

            What I don’t know, and one of the (many) reasons I’d love to write that missing sequel to SUNSHINE if it ever came through the mail-slot and landed on the door-mat†, is what effect a long-term alliance with Sunshine would slowly wreak upon him.  Because it would.  I have a better idea of what would happen to Sunshine if she continued to hang out with him, although I’m sure there would be surprises in the telling because there always are.††

My question is: Was Pegasus intended from the outset to be a multi-volume story? 

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.  Here clearly speaks a reader who does not read the blog.  PEGASUS started life as a short story.  As a story for ELEMENTALS SPIRITS:  AIR.  Waaaaaaah.  

I ask because I have found you notable for avoiding the ubiquitous trilogies, sequels & series that have dominated the fantasy industry since Tolkien.

Nearly all your tales, even if set in Damar, are uniquely fresh, creative & different.  Esp. the new kinds of magic in each, like the weather control in “Water horse” and the honey-based magic in Chalice. 

Whimper.  You know I do hope this doesn’t mean that the second two gliggerfrandanging volumes of frelling PEGASUS are going to be stale, lacking in creativity and over-familiar.†††  And if I live long enough I’d like to write another story or two in both the Water Horse and the CHALICE worlds—among others.  On the one hand I like the way most of my stories have tended to burst out of new holes in the walls between the worlds, but on the other hand . . . I’d quite like to have a chance to consolidate a bit, get some decorating done, put down carpets and put up bookshelves in some of these worlds.  I’m a nest-builder (you should see my house(s)).  I’d like to do some nest-building in my stories.  

I have read Beauty and The Beast 3 times and I am going to read Rose Daughter soon! Since the story of Beauty and the Beast is such an old tale I was wondering where you got your information from, which you used to base your books off of. Reason being I always love to see where a story first came from. I would be thrilled if you could tell me the books or other sources where you got your ideas from. 

This is one of the questions that comes up over and over.§  Beauty and the Beast was my favourite fairy tale when I was a kid, partly because it was the only one readily available to a kid growing up in the 1950s, which was not generally a hotbed of fantasy literature anyway, where the heroine did something besides wring her hands and wait to be rescued by the hero.  If there is an original source for my Beauty and the Beast(s) it’s the Andrew Lang retelling which I read for the first time at about the age of six, and obsessively for years after that, even when I pretty well knew it off by heart.  Since then I’ve read every version of B&B I can lay hands on, but my Beauty and the Beast is a part of me, like an arm or a leg.  Or like the ground a rose-bush is planted in:  I can’t do without it, it nourishes me.  I used to say—truthfully—that I was jealous of readers who ‘went’ to BEAUTY as an escape from boring ordinary life, because by writing the story I’d exorcised the BEAUTY AND THE BEAST in my head.  It grew back.  Then I wrote ROSE DAUGHTER.  This time there wasn’t any nonsense about exorcism.  My Beauty and the Beast is still in the back of my mind or the bottom of my heart, full of roses and romance.  If I’m very, very, very, very, very lucky I may get to write it a third time.  Or a sixth or a sixtieth.  Most of my stories are more or less versions of Beauty and the Beast.  In the afterword to ROSE I say that someone has declared that each author has only one story, it’s how they retell it.  Yes.  Mine is Beauty and the Beast. 

* * *

* mockorange:

I am absolutely adoring all these Mongo snippets. Clearly he is going to steal the whole book.

Thank you.  Adoration is always welcome.  I kind of adore Mongo myself.  And he does keep getting in the way.  I told you the other night that he’d just party-crashed a scene he had been specifically ordered out of.  I am so glad he is not my dog.  But then I don’t need to save the universe, just write about it.

** Yes.  My bells woke me up this morning again.  Sunday mornings are just going to be hard for a while.

*** Stranger.  Lumpier.

† Although right at the moment I have a powerful desire to have a late-life career change to something easier and more suited to someone of my advanced years, like shark-wrestler or cat burglar. 

†† I am going to write ALBION^ one of these days—you know, the not-a-sequel to SUNSHINE, but in the same world—and I’m not quite sure of the timeline.  I’m not sure if the heroine might have heard of Sunshine and we might conceivably get some news of her that way—except it wouldn’t be reliable news, it would be myth and gossip.  But myth and gossip can be pretty cool.  And I’ll take what I can get.^^ 

^ It was next after the SINGLE VOLUME version of PEGASUS, you know.  And I was looking FORWARD to it.  ^%$++@}~#??£”&£”!!!!!!!!!!!!             

^^ If I could impeach the frelling Story Council I so would.

††† Us authors are mostly a pretty neurotic bunch.  Make a note.

§ Julia, wearing her OCD research-librarian hat, found where I’d answered the question about Aerin’s dream and Hetta from Pool in the Desert before:  http://robinmckinleysblog.com/2010/11/30/further-manifestations-of-creative-reader-baked-goods-ask-robin/

What interests me is (a) it’s exactly the same question (as Julia remarks).  So it has to have come from the same person.  But I delete Ask Robins as I answer them, and furthermore, the one I answered a few days ago is fairly recent—certainly not from 2010.  So, a mystery:  did the person who sent it (since I’ve deleted it this time too I can’t check for clues) miss the answer the first time and resend it, does he/she not read the blog^ or has sodding Outlook found a brilliant new way to persecute me by suddenly coughing up new copies of years-old emails?  Now there’s an awful thought.  (b)  I’ve got a lot crankier in the last year and a bit about Hetta and Aerin’s dream . . . because I’ve had several other people make the same assumption and can’t remember one who has said, erm, actually, that’s not Hetta in Aerin’s dream, is it?  There ought to be one.  As I said in my (cranky) answer the other night, I read stuff wrong in other people’s books all the time.  Life is short, and when you’re reading a story for escape you aren’t paying diamond-laser attention.  Which is as it should be.  But there still ought to be one person who is interested enough in the question also to notice that it’s not Hetta in Aerin’s dream.

            Or possibly I’m just losing my mind.  This is always the best guess concerning any lapses and/or mysteries during the arduous novel-finishing phase, and especially the super-arduous novel-finishing-against-a-ghastly-deadline phase which is the (arduous) novel-finishing phase to be avoided when possible.

^ Oh . . . gods . . . or does my little copy and paste ‘read the blog’ answering email not go out for some reason?



Major Rant Alert


I got a chirpy email from a friend in which she extols the virtues of a new ebook site she’s found that she’s sure I’ll want to check out as soon as I have my own ereader and mentions (chirpily) in passing that she downloaded a free copy of SUNSHINE.   

            The frelling gods frelling wept.

            I will tell you this for free:  if there’s a big bad nasty out there that is going to destroy the whole business of producing stuff for people to read—and the digital world is changing so fast, it seems to me even the word publishing is starting to sound a bit hoary—it’s piracy.  There’s masses and masses of stuff out there—in our digital universe—about piracy and its effects, and I’m not going to thrash it all out again here because among other reasons I’d burst a blood vessel.  This is the top link in a Google search for ‘author blogs piracy’:  http://www.the-digital-reader.com/forum/blog-posts/ebook-piracy-one-authors-opinion/ and if you need a quick brush-up you can find it here.  He doesn’t even froth at the mouth.  I’m proud of him.  I’m frothing at the mouth.

            How much worse is it—how much more hopeless is it, trying to keep a lid on it, since piracy will always be with us*—if the good guys are stealing from us too?  How many of you out there have done something similar to what my friend did?  No.  Don’t tell me.  I don’t want to know.

            My friend said, oh, I didn’t think, because it was one of your older books.  What?  How do you—any of you—think writers earn their living, supposing they’re among the lucky five or ten percent of published writers who can make a living by writing?  The money we receive from publishers is absolutely and strictly tied to sales.  The ‘advance’ we receive, usually on signing a contract, is against sales.  If, at the end of the day or the year or the print run or when they yank your book out of print, you haven’t earned back in sales as much as they paid you for your ‘advance’, you’re in deep trouble, because they’re losing money on you and unless they think you’re about to morph into J K Rowling with your next book, they probably won’t take your next book.  And there you are reading the want ads and wishing you’d learnt sheep-shearing when you had the chance.  Royalties?  Yes, a writer eventually receives royalties, if her book sells well enough to earn back her advance and keeps selling . . . but of that five or ten percent of writers, which includes me, who do manage to earn a living by writing, a vanishingly weeny sub-percentage ever builds up enough royalties to, you know, retire.  We live from advance to advance.  We can’t afford to retire.  I can’t.

            And we need those advances to earn out by sales.  Our future lives as writers depend on it.

            Yes, of course, lots of people who buy cheap or free pirate editions wouldn’t pay full price for the legitimate book.  But some would.  Who doesn’t like a bargain, if they don’t realise what it’s costing someone else?  And some of those that wouldn’t buy the book would go to the library.  Libraries buy books—and a book particularly popular with librarians will sell more copies, because they’ll talk it up to each other and to their clientele.  And there’s the whole model thing.  There’s now a model out there that says that everything on the internet is free, and everything on the internet should be free.**  We need to keep that model of money being paid for goods and services alive and healthy.  By paying for goods and services.  Because the providers of goods and services themselves need to pay mortgages and taxes and school fees and car insurance.

            So when you’re out there cruising for bargains, engage your brain.  And if, brain engaged, it looks too good to be true, it probably is.  None, repeat NONE, of my books is available for freeThat includes the out of print ones—I still own the rights.  What happens to used copies of paper books is out of my hands.  But you should pay the going rate for an ebook—which I realise is a very mutable concept—and you should buy it from someone who has the right to sell it—which will also give you some clue about that going rate.  And what I say about me is pretty universally true of all living and recently dead—copyright lasts for a while after you pop your clogs—authors.  There are a few loss-leader experiments with free books—but they’re the exception.  They are not the rule.  Be suspicious.  And if you find a pirate site—tell someone.  Publishers have entire departments to deal with piracy these days—they have to.  It’s their livelihood too.  They want to know about pirates.

            It was only an accident—an offhand, throwaway remark—that my friend even told me about her free download of SUNSHINE.  That’s the thing that completely haunts me.  And I almost didn’t even notice, because it would never have occurred to me that someone I know could be this, well, daft.  The purpose of her email was to remind me of something I’d promised to do . . . ahem . . . a while ago, and I went ‘aaaugh’ and rushed off to do it.  It wasn’t till I settled down to answer her email properly that I registered the ‘free’ and ‘download’.  Even then I thought she must have just left a sentence out about, I don’t know, for every eighty-seven ebooks you buy you get a free one or something, and she chose SUNSHINE.

            It has not been a great day.  I’m even shorter of sleep than usual for a getting-up-for-service-ring Sunday because the Bats in the Walls*** were unusually chatty last night†, it’s been doing TORRENTIAL RAIN all day with occasional apparent breaks which delude you into believing you could get hounds hurtled before the next downpour and, speaking of hellhounds, Chaos took two hours to eat lunch.  That tragic look of his would melt the hearts of entire audiences of bankers, newspaper-empire owners, and politicians, if I could figure out how to deploy it.  I think he’d have trouble learning his lines for an open audition of HAMLET. 

* * * 

* If there are goods, there are pirates of those goods.  There were book pirates back in paper-book-only days too. 

** Economics is one of the many things I don’t understand very well or very much of, but how anyone over the age of, say, twenty, can claim that we should shovel everything onto the internet that we possibly can and that all of it should be free, is absolutely beyond my comprehension.  

*** A little known H P Lovecraft sequel.  I hope it ends better than the original. 

† I was lying there listening to the flap-flap-flap cheep cheep cheep rustle-rustle-scritch cheep cheep CHIRRUP SQUEAK and thinking that if I were Melampus I’d know the secrets of the universe by now.  Or at least some really interesting details about the bug populations of my neighbours’ gardens.




So, about this auction.

            New Arcadia’s bells need £10,000* worth of restoration work.  We’ve raised about £1800** so far.

            We need money.  We need a lot more money.  We have a couple of small grants coming, and at least one more promised;  and a few ideas about how to squeeze some more change out of the locals;  and one promise of a splashy charity do.***  But we need money.  This is not polishing-up-the-brasswork restoration:  this is crucial, necessary keeping the bells ringing work.  We’re ringing on borrowed time now. 

            So Days in the Life is having an auction. 

            I’ve been meaning to get this auction off the ground for . . . um . . . months.  But it takes, you know, DECISIONS, as well as the sheer frelling nuisance of finding copies of books I want to have in it.†  As well as the courage to fess up to the sillier items.

            So here is a rough guide to most of what’s going to be in it—there will be a surprise or two in the finished list—so you can sharpen your expectations and your bank balances†† and then I have to get the photos and the list together to send to Blogmom, and she’s going to create the actual machinery to do the thing. 

 * * *

First a few of Peter’s books.  These are all OP in these editions and the sad truth is that most of them are OP generally, although you can (mostly) find them on Abebooks and so on.  All books—mine and Peter’s—will be signed.  Of course.

UK hardback of THE ROPEMAKER and its sequel ANGEL ISLE, as one item.  This is Peter’s, ahem, epic fantasy.  (ROPEMAKER is dedicated to MEEEEEEEEEE.)

American hardback of CHUCK AND DANIELLE, which is about a whippet who is scared of everything.  It’s based on our smallest whippet—AKA wimpet—of the previous generation of hellish sighthounds.  It’s adorable.  Trust me. 

UK hardback of TULKU, which might be my favourite of Peter’s books.  Might.  But it is the one I’d just read and been totally bowled over by when I met him for the first time.  ::Swoon:: 

THE KIN, the big gorgeous American hardback single-volume edition of the four short books.  The introduction begins:  ‘It is Africa, about two hundred thousand years ago.’  And the numbers of homo sapiens sapiens are increasing, and they need to find more places to live.  (And between chapters of the adventure there are the Oldtales, which are the stories the Kin tell each other about where they came from and why things happen the way they do.) 

The UK hardback of TIME AND THE CLOCKMICE ETCETERA.  Possibly Peter’s most criminally underknown, undersold and neglected book.  (Grrrrr.)  Illustrated by Emma Chichester-Clark and funny and clever and charming and very Peter, and Emma’s illustrations are perfect.   Lovelovelovelove.

 The UK Paper Tiger reprint of THE FLIGHT OF DRAGONS.  A cult book and, as is almost the definition of cult books, drifts frustratingly in and out of print.  Illustrated by Wayne Anderson.

 * * *

And now mine.  These are all American editions;  most of them didn’t have British eds: 

One hardback of THE DOOR IN THE HEDGE and one original paperback ed of the same.  That first paperback cover—black, with some of the Twelve Dancing Princesses’ boats visible on their way to the ominous-looking castle in the middle of the lake—is still my favourite of its incarnations. 

One hardback of IMAGINARY LANDS and again one paperback of the same.  (The paperback’s cover art is by Thomas Canty, for any collectors out there.)  This was the anthology I edited and I enjoyed the writing-letters-to-authors part but I am a rotten businesswoman.  It’s probably just as well it never earned out.  I’d’ve had to figure out how to pay everyone royalties.  (It contains a story by Peter Dickinson.  It also won the World Fantasy Award for best anthology that year, and I’m pretty sure James Blaylock won for best short story.) 

One each of my two picture books, MY FATHER IS IN THE NAVY and ROWAN.  While my father was in the Navy, the story is not autobiographical.  ROWAN, as I’m fond of saying, is the only true piece of autobiography I’ve ever written†††.  Except for the fact that it all happened when I was in my thirties and not when I was a little girl, it’s exactly how I bought my first whippet, Rowan.  

A pre-Newbery first edition, first printing of THE HERO AND THE CROWN.  (If you want an ordinary hardback reading copy of HERO, it’s still in print.)  

And a first edition, first printing of the original hardback of SUNSHINE.  With the dark-red background and the chandelier, and the embossed gold type.  Still my favourite art.  

* * *

A few non-auction, simply-for-sale items:  Peter will donate to the bell fund any money from sales of THE WEIR, his book of poetry, made during the course of the auction.  The limited edition hardback is £40 [US$63.33];  the paperback is £8 [US$12.66]. 

I have a small hoard of the original, long version of the ROSE DAUGHTER afterword;  Greenwillow printed them off as booklets with the hardback cover art.  The text is still on my website, but I’ll sell a few copies of the booklet if anyone would like them. 

I’m also thinking that for anyone who would like to contribute to my and New Arcadia’s continued campanological happiness but doesn’t really have the disposable cash to get into bidding for a book, I’ll offer a small cartoon of a bell, and best wishes from the bells and the signature of the famous author/hellgoddess/artist manqué Robin McKinley.  I’ll draw one of these and post a photo . . . when I get around to posting photos . . . so you can see what absurdity I’m talking about.  But I can draw/write as many of these as anyone wants.

* * * 

And, speaking of silly things . . . it gets sillier from here on.  If this were Peter, he’d be writing snippets of poetry.  But it’s not.  I can’t write poetry to order—except bad haiku, which is going to be a contest some day, but not today—but I can draw, if you’re not too exacting about the definition of draw.  I think I’ve told you that I thought the non-writing art form I’d get back into some day was drawing, not music.‡   So I’m thinking I might offer slightly—very slightly—illustrated copies of, say, one each DRAGONHAVEN, CHALICE and PEGASUS, which usefully feature a critter each suitable for mad rendering.  These would, I can assure you, be unique.  

Now we’re into the territory of stuff that I’m going to put discouraging bottom bid limits on because I’m half hoping no one will bid.  First:  a more elaborate sketch of a critter or critters, and while I will to a limited extent Take a Request from whoever pays the top bid, if you’re going to be too hard on me I’ll revert to the hellhounds.  So, offered for your bidding:  one cartoon of hellhounds/sundry critters. 

Second:  knitting.  One square/potholder/faceflannel/washcloth with a ROSE in bas relief.  What-you-call-it in knitting. 

One square/potholder/faceflannel/washcloth with a PAWPRINT in it as above.  I’ve downloaded patterns for both these from Ravelry, and I’ll post links when I put the photos up.  The only remaining question is if I can follow simple directions without stabbing myself to death with my own needles.

And. third, the ultimate silliness:  I’ll write you a piece of music.  Details somewhat negotiable.  I’ll write you a canon http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canon_(music) or fugue http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fugue starting with your name, for example—again, somewhat depending on how strict you are about your musical definitions—or I’ll set a couple of lines of poetry, or if you play an instrument I might conceivably have a teeny tiny clue about, I’ll write something for you and it.  The bottom bid limit on this one is going to be extreme, because it would be a lot of work—even though I’d enjoy the flapdoodle out of having the excuse.  But there’s nothing stopping several of you getting together and . . .

 * * *

* Call it $16,000 American. 

** About $2850 American. 

*** Which we are going to be expected to sell tickets to.  We’ve already had one pep talk, not to say exhortation, from Vicky about this.  Since I can think of few things I could be worse at than hustling ticket sales, I suspect that everybody on my Christmas list is going to get charity revue tickets.  You don’t want to know me this year. 

† You may remember that Fiona was a heroine in this arena last time she was here. 

†† We’re probably doing this by PayPal as the least harrowing for me.  

††† . . . as fiction.  The blog doesn’t count here.  

‡ Life’s a freller.  We knew that.

Aftermath, continued


Life is trying to slither back into its usual current.*  I had some out-of-schedule handbells yesterday which were unnecessarily exciting both because I haven’t handbelled properly in a fortnight or so and because Niall and I were ringing with Titus, who is the one who rings both his bells in one hand because a stroke crippled his other side.  This is horribly confusing to us other ringers anyway, plus that for reasons of size and weight** Titus usually rings the treble and the two—and one of your crucial clues in handbells is when the frelling treble leads, and by the time you’ve figured out if that ding was the treble or the two it’s too late.  Gah.  But it was fun in a kind of climbing-K2-without-ropes way.  And at today’s voice lesson, because I am mindless twit, I’d forgotten the accompanist’s copy of The Ash Grove and Nadia made me sing it without the piano.  With her sitting there looking at me and listening.   ARRRRGH.  Mostly at my voice lessons I’m so wound up with what Nadia says that I don’t have time for thoughts of my own—which is a good thing—but in this case, before I went into free form meltdown I laser-beamed at myself a reminder that one of the great things about my brush with the Muddlehamptons*** has been finding out that I’m not actually that fussed about singing with other people around, and surely then I can frelling translate this to singing unaccompanied for my very own voice teacher who has never said a mean thing yet (and is very good at keeping a straight face†)?!?  She kept me busy enough that I nearly wasn’t thinking about her just sitting there . . . and at the end she said, one of the things you came in here less than six months ago wanting to change was to make your singing less timid.  That is not a timid sound you’re making. 

            I think that was meant to be a compliment. . . .

 * * *

Angelia wrote in response to my:  I suppose I could have a separate category of Invisible Costumes. . . .

 This is a scary idea–invisible costumes would mean lots of naked pictures!

Nonsense.  You’re forgetting one of the basic rules of the competition—that this is a (more or less) family friendly blog and only costumes that would NOT get you arrested if you wore them on the street were acceptable.  Invisible costumes would either be worn over street clothes or draped tactfully over furniture.  Or compliant domestic fauna.  Or flora.  I’d quite like to see an aspidistra carrying a sword to go with the weightless invisible armour. 


You acquire Merit in all universes for not having ripped the throat from the “Sunshine sequel” questioner. And Ajlr has a crown of stars for coming up with the best way to intervene to save the situation.

Ajlr certainly has a crown of stars coming†† but . . . several of you have commented on the surprising lack of blood on the floor†††.  But I tend (reluctantly) to think that the rules are different for live gigs.‡  If you’re going to write to me—including posting a comment to the forum and, because I’m a rabid cow, I would include if you’re going to post to Facebook or Twitter too—then it FRELLING WELL BEHOVES YOU TO DO YOUR FRELLING HOMEWORK FIRST.  This means you have a cruise through the Q&A on my web site, and you do a search on the blog.  You could search ‘SUNSHINE sequel’ for example, and what you wanted to know would come up pretty quickly.  You’re sitting at your computer anyway, I don’t think you have much excuse.‡‡ 

            I think greater leeway may have to be allowed at live gigs.  Live gigs exist as little real-time and real-life windows to allow contact between an author and her readers—and also to sell books, although this is more the window-frame than the numbers on the balance sheet:  it’s a rare author appearance that genuinely pays its way.  But your passport is still your wallet—witness that Forbidden Planet asked that you also buy a book if you wanted me to sign other books you’d bought elsewhere—and the fact that you’ve made the effort to be there.  That’s your time and energy, you know?  And this counts, in great big letters of fire.  There is NOTHING WORSE than a live gig WHERE NO ONE COMES.  Don’t ask me how [well] I know this.  And the time and energy someone uses to go to a gig is (usually) a lot more than the average punter needs to use sitting in front of their computer hitting the ‘search’ button.  So I don’t think we can expect everyone who turns up at an author gig to have a clue.  The thing is they came

Vikki K

Oh goodness! I wish someone had told me my horns were crooked!  

I wish someone had told me the part in my hair was crooked.  Having said that, my hair parts itself.  Hannah has just been trying to tell me that I should part it farther over to one side or the other.  Yes, I daresay.  But it won’t stay there.  My hair is just curly enough to be ungovernable.  If I part it farther over I would have to wet it down and brush it flat for weeks, it would still stand up like an incipient Mohawk and it would flop back the way it wanted the moment I stopped.

            I’m afraid I thought the crookedness of the horns was deliberate.  All part of the, uh, atmosphere.


I LOVE the sparkly tights and shoes. You know, I have this Elvis jacket that would really go well with those… and I don’t think the shipping is TOO much from here to there… and I have a nice box it would fit in…

Wait a minute . . . Elvis?  I want the glitter jacket in the silly signing competition!

            I was doing laundry this morning and pulled the tights out of the laundry bag and threw them into the bathtub—I think they may be ex-tights anyway, they just don’t make glitter like they used to—but I’m going to try handwashing them, and this will force me to remember.  But I’d already forgotten the tights were there when I got back to the cottage this afternoon and when I went hastily into the bathroom—a known bat vector—and saw the huddle of black tights in the middle of the tub, I had a brief but dramatic nervous collapse.  They could have been another assemblage of lost frightened baby bats—about eight of them.  Or twelve . . . aaaugh.  


. . . a male friend to whom I mentioned the (unspeakable) question emailed this: “Well, next time you correspond with Ms. McKinley you may tell her at least one fan adores her work and hasn’t a single stupid question to ask… and if he did have a stupid question, he would be petrified to ask it, for fear of having karma bite his butt.” 

My bark is much worse than my bite (usually).  On the other hand, if he has sensitive eardrums. . . .

* * *

* Slop.  Splash.

** Niall’s handbells are little and light, but even so if you have weak hands or are trying to ring two in one hand, the difference between the front pair and the back end pair is considerable.

*** I had to miss the Muddlehamptons’ concert at the last minute for reasons beyond my control, and we’ve now broken up till September.  But the start date is now in my diary and I should be able to defend Thursday evenings better with a run at it this time.  

† Keeping a Straight Face Whatever Your Student Does is a required course in Singing Teacher College. 

†† It’s probably being sworn at by a celestial jeweller even as we speak.

††† I didn’t want to embarrass the Nice Man.

‡ Which may help explain my lack of enthusiasm for live gigs.

‡‡ I don’t get a lot of street mail any more.  I don’t know what I think about the occasional handwritten letter that says, Where do you get your ideas?  And, You should/have to write a sequel to SUNSHINE!, beyond arrrrrgh.  But the ‘do your homework’ reflex engages as soon as anyone (a) sends me a self addressed stamped envelope with an American stamp on it (b) writes/emails Hi!  I’m a teacher/librarian/random grownup at x school in Maine/New England, will you please come to our school since travel expenses will be CHEAP?

            And on the subject of unreasonable expectations:  I do not donate books to unknown and fortuitous charity auctions.  Bottom line?  I can’t afford it.  There’s the book itself, the postage, the packing, and the time all of this takes—several dozen times a year.  Or would, except I don’t.  I’ve said this a number of times on a number of occasions and in a number of places—including here and the web site.  The requests keep rolling in.  And most of them are so obviously written by the yard—Your Name Here at the top of the standard begging letter.  I daresay organising a charity auction is difficult and frustrating—but possibly one of the reasons it’s difficult and frustrating is because whoever is running it hasn’t thought through how they’re going to acquire the stuff to auction.  Maybe I’m the only author on the planet who deletes robot solicitations on sight.  But I kind of doubt it.

Photos. Lots of photos. AMAZING NUMBERS of photos.


These are all from CathyR.  Who has a hot trigger finger.  Thank you, CathyR!

They’re also (nearly) in the order she took them, so you are advancing through the evening.  Keep scrolling:  there are three separate posts, in the hope of preventing WordPress from going off in the screaming abdabs. *

Sparkly tights. The shoes are sparkly too but they don't show up as well. Take my word for it . . . the shoes are covered in tiny sparkly sequins.

Books. Also sparkly. In spirit anyway.

Pink and sparkly. Ajlr demonstrates she wasn't kidding.


Stunned. This may not have been the sequel-to-SUNSHINE moment, but it might have been.

Scheherazade. Or possibly The Last Stand.

Happy reader. I like happy readers.

Head down attending to business. Listen, I LIKE signing books. It means people have BOUGHT them.

Look! That rare sighting to the left is a BLOKE! (He's probably buying it for his mother/sister/sweetheart. Yes, I know, men do read my books. But not very many men.)

Continued in next window. . . .

* This was partially successful.

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