May 6, 2012

Happy happy happy. Happy. Happy. Grrrrrr.



            It has not been a brilliant day and furthermore Peter is in Cardamomlinghamshire visiting relatives so I don’t even have him around to blame.

            Gemma told me last night, cheerfully, on her way out the door after handbells** that she probably won’t be there for afternoon ringing at the abbey on Sunday.  She saw the stark panic flood my face and said hastily, you’ll be fine.  You’ll be fine.  I’ll be fine, eggs grow on trees, teabags make the best tea, and Charlemagne was a girl.  AAAAAAUGH.  Last Sunday it was five fabulous male ringers . . . and Gemma and me.  AAAAAAAAUGH.

            I’ll be fine.  Yes.  I’ll be fine.  I’ll take my knitting. . . .



            I had quite a nice time in the garden a couple of days ago—when it finally stopped raining long enough to make this practical—playing eenie meanie with all the racks and rows of little green mail-order things that arrived during the floods and are still waiting to be put somewhere they can settle down and grow.†  I planted the sweet peas, finally, some begonias, some (tender) fuchsias, most of the rest of the glads, some petunias.  Today . . . today I (furiously) planted the dahlia cuttings in pots two or three sizes smaller than I meant to—I don’t have TIME for endless potting-on:  stuff goes in an intermediate pot and then it goes into the ground or into its big permanent pot—so they’d all fit on a tray in case I’m bringing them indoors tomorrow night.  The stuff that is already in the ground is going to have to take its chances†† . . . but the sitting-room is going to be frelling impassable if I have to bring in all the unfrost-proof things in trays and pots or still in their mail-order plastic cells. . . .   

* * *

* You made my crown fall out!  You did!  You know you did! 

** Have I told you we seem to have morphed into Thursday and Friday handbells??  Wait, wait, I have a novel to finish and I do need to reserve some brain.  I think I’ve told you Gemma is a doctor, and she’s just changed clinics/surgeries which means her schedule has changed, and Thursday afternoon handbells are no longer possible.  So we had, I thought, moved handbells to Fridays right before New Arcadia bell practise^ . . . except that it turns out Colin can’t do Fridays but was too polite to say so.^^  I have this habit of not really paying attention to details and therefore found myself saying to Niall and Colin, well, okay, we’ll just have to keep on with Thursdays, and Niall and I can ring with Gemma on Fridays . . . WHAT AM I SAYING.  This week was the first of the new schedule and . . . two days in a row of handbells is . . . intense.  

^ Which means I will now stuff hellhounds into their harnesses and pelt out the door so as to be out of earshot by the time they start ringing up.  I’m getting better at sleeping through Sunday mornings though. 

^ The British.  ARRRRRRRGH. 

*** I’m having another of those ‘why do I DO this to myself??’ moments.  I moaned this to Peter tonight over the phone and he said, because you’d think less well of yourself if you didn’t^, which is true as far as it goes, but it still begs the question why do I have to choose activities where terror will be my natural environment?  Why couldn’t I collect stamps or go to more films?^^ 

^ And given my standard level of self-appreciation this could get dangerous.  

^^ No horror, of course.+ 

+ Avengers Assemble is playing semi-around here this weekend and I am half-tempted to go except for two things:  (a) it’s in frelling 3D, and my loathing for (frelling) 3D was renewed and reinforced by (multi-frelling) THOR and (b) I haven’t got time.  If I’m going to ring bells and sing and rescue all the little green things drowning in my garden(s) and finish a novel before the hellhounds and I have to stop eating, although the hellhounds wouldn’t mind, I haven’t got time.#  And, just by the way, Sunday morning ringing at New Arcadia is forty minutes plus a one-minute bolt from the cottage to the tower and a more leisurely several-minute stroll back.  Sunday afternoon ringing at the abbey is an hour, plus a half hour commute.  Also, terror is tiring.  

# And the blog is a not insignificant eater of time.~ 

~ And there are a lot of doodles waiting to be doodled.  Siiiigh.  I should draw you a Venn diagram of Available Energy Usage by Robin McKinley some time.  I don’t know if this is the frelling ME, or advancing age, or just that I’ve always been peculiar, but what I can and can’t do isn’t just about whether I feel (relatively) alert and intelligent or as if I have ham salad for brains and limbs made of half deflated inner tubes.  It’s more of a Chinese-menu situation where you want stuff from as many columns as possible.  And your fortune cookie is still going to tell you you’re frelled. 

*** Meanwhile friends in the Midwestern prairie are having temperatures pushing ninety (°F).  

† I’m still seeing disturbingly few little feathered things in the shrubbery.^  I wouldn’t have thought literal drowning was all that likely in my garden-on-a-hill, and there’s still the greenhouse to take shelter in.  Nor would I have thought I have many predators out there, although what is that unpleasing line about there always being a rat within five feet of you?  I’m sure my local rats would be more than happy to tuck into adolescent robin.  But dad robin is still hanging around for mealworms.  Robins are such fearless little critters^^ that you get a prime view of what’s going on with them.  There were still two adults^^^ when I started putting mealworms out but they were very chary of me—which served to reinforce my guilt about how little gardening I’ve been doing recently and it’s not all down to the weather—but robins don’t really do chary and dad, at this point, pretty well gets in my face and says, Mealworms?  Where are the mealworms?, if he’s dispatched the previous serving.  I put them out twice a day, and he must be feeding them to someone because if he ate all of them himself he’d explode.  The mealworm saucer normally lives on my potting table in the greenhouse but I put it out in the courtyard by the kitchen door when I want to use my table, on top of a tall pot that will have a dahlia in it eventually.  He knows this.  So first he sits in the apple tree next to the greenhouse and stares at me, and then he perches on that pot and looks at me meaningfully.  I may have to start buying more mealworms. 

^ I did get a couple of photos of the babies, but they’re not very good.  The nest is tucked back behind various jars and plastic boxes of plant food and it’s dark.  I didn’t want to blow a flash in their tiny fluffy faces and I haven’t been very lucky with the right angles of sunlight . . . or any angles of sunlight, lately.  They’re only in the nest about ten days, I think—maybe two weeks.  Not long at all.  And I didn’t notice they’d hatched immediately—they were already beginning to grow feathers by the time I saw them—since I’d been trying to leave mum alone so she’d go on sitting.  But I’m reasonably sure there were five of them to begin with.  Five’s a lot.  

^^ Unlike their human namesake  

^^^ If there’s only one parent left, it’s probably dad, because mum has sashayed off to start a new nest somewhere else. 

†† I may raise the odds a bit by throwing a bit of bubble wrap around.  After potting up the frelling sweet peas—usually I just slap them in the ground to begin with—and bringing them in and out for about a fortnight I am VERY RELUCTANT TO LOSE THEM NOW.

New Thing, New Thing, nanny-nanny-boo-boo, tra la la New Thing


::dandles New Thing:: 


::hums idly:: 

And, finally, bursts into loud roars of evil laughter.  MWA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA . . . . Sorry guys.  Ordinarily I loathe and despise people who tease* other people but . . . but . . . well I’m having a good time with the New Thing.  I think you will too** . . . or if you don’t I will crawl away into a corner and cry . . . but the thing thing is that the blog is such a lot of work.  I’m increasingly aware that I can’t do this forever, even if there were enough people who wanted me to, but that while the obvious answer is to change the wretched thing somehow, I am hideously constrained by what I can do . . . which includes the limitations of the peculiar personality that does it.  Just declaring ‘less often, fewer words and more other people’s books’ does not work.

            I think . . . I think . . . I’ve found something that will work.

            It’ll make better sense after I post the beggar.  And then I’ll tell you more about it too.  Meanwhile . . . 


            Tomorrow?  I might post it tomorrow.  I might.  Or maybe I’ll post it Wednesday.  Or Thursday . . . or . . . decisions, decisions . . . 



I have so far avoided getting a cell phone because the very idea that someone could call me at any time is so terrifying that I’d rather get stuck halfway home and have to walk my broken bicycle straight to the dentist than have the ability to call someone to come rescue me.

Um.  Not that I wish to damage the perfect bloom of your paranoia—having a number of healthy, well-nurtured paranoias of my own—but you do know you can turn it off, don’t you?  There are, so far as I’m aware, two options for the turning-off thing:  you can either merely make it not make noise by setting it to ‘vibrate’ which means it will undulate embarrassingly against your leg—GADFRELLINGZOOKS I HAVE A RAT IN MY POCKET—oh, wait, it’s the phone.   Or you can turn it off off, and then you’ll never know that you won that voucher for a free glass of champagne the next time you’re at Charlie’s, because of course you never check your messages.***  But this does at least mean that when you’re lying at the bottom of the muddy ravine you can ring someone with a rope ladder.† 


Your comment about the phone lines always being bad . . . unless you have had fibre installed then your broadband is sent over your copper phone lines . . .  if your standard phone line is crappy due to interference, then that has a direct affect on your broadband performance, it will likely manifest as random disconnects all over the place and sometimes trouble getting connected.

Also I recommend getting a powerfilter . . .  it may spike badly enough over time to damage your router or anything else electrical plugged into it. 

SIIIIIIIIIGH. . . . I thought I’d talked about this before.  Well, I probably have, but given the several gazillion words that have passed over this opening page in the last few years. . . . Anyway.  Yes, I know.   This entire area sucks for landline service, and the wiring in my little cul de sac makes linemen burst out laughing and have to grab hastily at their poles before they fall off.  This is probably sixty years old, one of them told me, wiping the tears of mirth off his face.  There is not a thing I or any other mere citizen can do about it.  It’s all owned by British Telecom and they don’t give a flying bugger.  BT, just by the way, and I know I’ve told this story, informed me, when I tried to get Third House plugged back in a few years ago††, that there was no phone line to that house and I would have to pay several hundred pounds to have it installed.  Pardon me.  This is a 1930’s cottage in the centre of town and there is a phone jack in the kitchen.  But that’s the kind of thoughtful, efficient mega-mono-incredible-o gigantic-o national corporation it is.  There are regular rumours that we’re going to have our broadband area-wide upgraded—although meanwhile it’s getting worse because of all the new build and new people and more of them wanting broadband—but I’ll frelling believe it when I frelling see it, and even when it happens it’s not going to happen to my cul-de-sac till the very, very, very, very, very, very end.  If they remember it at all.  Grrrrr.

            And I have a surge protector.  I have several surge protectors.  I even replace them. 

Diane in MN

who uses a landline any more?

Well, I do. 

Well . . . so do I.  But don’t tell anyone.  And my ways around my interference issues are of the tin-foil-hats-to-keep-the-alien-probes-out-of-my-brain level.  I don’t care. 

 Despite the presence of multiple towers in our area, our cell phones are mostly non-functional at the house because we don’t get a signal. I assume we are in a hollow or something. 

No.  It’s the alien probes.  (But don’t tell anyone.)  It sodblastingly amazes me how often the old ‘we can’t get a signal’ is trotted out.  Our horizons look like angry hedgehogs or secret military intelligence encampments with the numbers of phone masts and at this point most of the people I know—and I would include myself in this sad, misguided number—are addicted to their mobile phones and feel vulnerable and endangered (and cranky) when they can’t get a signal and check their Twitter feed regularly to see if @rhinestoneAllStars or @pinkcentifolia has answered their tweet yet.  And it is a monthly wonderment to me—which is to say when the chirpy message about the bill comes in—what I pay for the privilege of . . . sometimes being able to pick up a signal.  What is the deal here.  And whatever it is I want to upgrade my package.  

(We use Skype all the time at work, including holding 10-participant team meetings on it. Mostly, it’s fine.)

I CANNOT BEGIN TO IMAGINE A SKYPE MEETING INVOLVING TEN PEOPLE.  I think I have to sit down.  Oh, wait, I am sitting down.  Maybe I’d better lie down.

Looking forward to hearing about The New Idea. 



If having us feel tortured with your Mystery Fun was the goal, then yes, I feel tortured. Silent but intense screams of agony are even now wafting across the land between here and the Atlantic and will soon be wafting across the ways, you-ward, to give you the satisfaction of knowing your torture plan was successful. 

YAAAAAAAAY.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  You cheer me immeasurably.


::dies of curiosity::

::enters afterlife furious that premature death has prevented her from FINDING OUT WHAT ROBIN WAS TALKING ABOUT!!!:: 

There, there.  Send me a forwarding address.  In these digital, immaterial days I’m sure we can work something out. 

As for the surprise, I’m intensely interested. Because the reader forum is detached from the blog itself, I’m not sure if the blog exists to create conversation or just to hear from Robin. It has to be her style and humour in the writing seeing as it isn’t excerpts from the books or exclusively book related subjects. Hmmmm…. 

The blog exists because my agent told me, five years ago, that all authors have blogs these days and I had to have one too.  I am naïve.  I thought this was more or less the literal truth.  Feh.  But it was too late by the time I found out she was exaggerating for effect . . . and it is certainly too late now.  The blog is supposed to be a marketing tactic.  It’s supposed to be getting Robin McKinley, Author, out there as a concept.  It doesn’t (said my agent reassuringly) have to be literally marketing.  Which is the good part.  Unfortunately it—and you—are stuck with what I can do, as I keep saying.  Days in the Life are what I can do.

            However . . . 

* * *

* Ask any of my friends.  I Do Not Tease Well.  Peter spent years being startled at having his head ripped off and handed back to him.^  I was teasing, he’d say.  So?  Your point would be? I would respond.   Didn’t anyone ever teach you how to, you know, play? he’d say.  I’m American, I’d say.  Life is real!  Life is earnest!  Art is long, and Time is fleeting!  And our hearts, though stout and brave!  Still, like muffled drums, are beating!  Funeral marches to the grave!^^  No messing around! 

^ Remember we had spent exactly one weekend together when we decided to get married.  There were lots of surprises. 

^^   Maybe it’s just that I went to Bowdoin College.  But Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is like this great informing spirit in my life.  He’s not alone, mind you, but he’s sure as hell there.  Great thundering humourless New England patriarchal Puritan thug.  The Protestant frelling work ethic.  Get me the Katahdin out of here. 

            Mind you, I do have time for Longfellow, possibly because (last I knew, maybe he’s come back), he is Not Fashionable.  I am (almost) always willing to give a fellow unfashionable an extra break.  Maybe it’s just that I went to Bowdoin.  And am sort of from Maine.  But Paul Revere?  Hiawatha?  Totally.  I’m not at all sure that there’s much of Longfellow you can read for the first time as a grown-up without deciding you’d rather be weeding the cat or painting the dishwasher, but when I was a kid those stories with their fancy metrical shimmy were hot fudge sundaes with extra sprinkles.    

 **  ::trembles and looks around anxiously:: 

*** Ask me how I know the never-checking-messages part. 

† How I’m going to attach hellhounds to my body for the ascent I don’t know, but I’ll worry about that after the person with the rope ladder answers their phone.  

†† It had stood empty long enough that the phone got turned off.


Unexpected Valentine’s Day News


Okay.  People.  Listen to me please. 

If you google ‘del toro emma watson robin mckinley’ you will get a very long page of hits.    Here are two more or less at random: 

If you leave the ‘robin mckinley’ off your search there are a lot more hits.  Wherein lies my point.  My point further includes the ‘has evolved since’ quote in the clips that include me and the fact that (apparently, this is not a world I follow) del Toro has a habit of running too many projects at once to predict with any confidence when he might get around to one in particular.  EVEN IF THIS FILM IS MADE, WHICH IS IN FACT NOT VERY LIKELY, IT WILL NOT, REPEAT NOT BE THE SCREEN VERSION OF MY NOVEL.

            I had no idea that news of del Toro’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST project was about to be shot out there—or that there was news of del Toro’s B&B project.  Which is another part of my point.  Yes, Warner’s optioned BEAUTY* a while ago, but there are like 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 options bought for every ONE movie made, so while option money is lovely because you haven’t done anything extra for it except sign your name, I didn’t take it seriously.  I’ve been optioned before.  I did register the fact that it was del Toro and Emma Watson behind Warner’s interest, two filmy people whom I’ve even heard of**, an almost un-heard-of situation, and I therefore asked Merrilee about six months after signing if there’d been—by wild, unforeseen circumstance—any movement on the option, and she said there wasn’t.  At which point I forgot about it. 

            Till this morning when I received an email including a del-Toro-Watson-McKinley link from a friend saying, Oh, hey, I’m impressed!, followed by about forty more emails and a tweet from people who love BEAUTY and are under the erroneous impression that (a) this means it’s going to get made and (b) del Toro’s movie (supposing it gets made) will have ANYTHING to do with the book.

            So to reiterate:  I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT THIS.  I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS.  Except that I signed an option contract a while ago.  IT IS STILL VERY UNLIKELY THAT THE MOVIE WILL BE MADE.  And IF IT IS MADE IT PROBABLY WON’T HAVE ANYTHING IN COMMON WITH MY NOVEL EXCEPT THE PRESENCE OF A BEAUTY AND A BEAST.  Maybe.  With del Toro you never really know.  Which can be a good thing.  If disconcerting. 

            And as the author of the book in question . . . if they make the movie, I hope they DO render my novel TOTALLY UNRECOGNISABLE.  (Which that ‘has since evolved’ sounds like they will.  Yaaay.)  I’m not a fan of books into movies:  they’re entirely different media, and not only do I think the translation process rarely does the book any favours, the reading experience is . . . well, it’s to be treasured.  I don’t want it spoilt, for BEAUTY or any other good book, by even a dazzlingly first-rate film.   I hate it that GENERATIONS of film-goers are now going to forget that LORD OF THE RINGS was a book first . . . or even at all. 

            I don’t know anything about Watson*** but del Toro has made some brilliant movies.  His take on that very, very old and much retold tale of Beauty and the Beast could be fabulous.  And if my version(s) helped inspire him, great.  And the money I’d be paid for a film that was actually made would be very nice indeed.†

            But I’m not counting these chickens before they’re hatched.  And if they are hatched they won’t be chickens anyway.  They’ll be velociraptors or harpy eagles or dodos or something.

            And sure, I’d be glad of the rights money, if the movie is made.  But what I’d like most of all is that some trifle of the movie publicity rubs off on the unrecognisable book . . . and a few more people READ IT.  That is what makes a writer’s little heart beat faster.  Readers.  

* * *

Peter bought me a pink begonia in a pot for Valentine’s Day.  The funny thing is he used to hate Valentine’s Day.  But he’s gone all soppy with advancing age.  I’ve had Valentine’s Day presents regularly the last few years.  Not complaining.  Not complaining.  I said, I don’t have anything for you for Valentine’s Day†† and he said, no, no, this is one of those remaining genderist things, the bloke is supposed to produce a present.  Oh, I said, burying my feminist instincts under the desire to keep on with SHADOWS, well, if you’re really determined, never mind the dozen red roses, I’d much rather have a houseplant.

            Peter seems to think begonias lack fervour and ardency.  But I like begonias.  I can usually even keep them alive.  It’s not that I don’t love a vaseful of red roses, but they don’t last long.  Don’t you want your Valentine to last? 

            Also, there was champagne.  

* * *

* and ROSE DAUGHTER, because this is how Hollywood works:  they don’t want a rival B&B retelling if they can help it, so they block this one as a clause in the option for the other.^ 

^ Hollywood’s predilection for wanting control over EVERYTHING is a can of worms I’m not going to open here.  But my desire to control my own books’ fate is why I regularly refuse to entertain film option offers.  

** true confession:  I’ve only ever seen the first HARRY POTTER film and . . . ahem . . . wasn’t hugely riveted.  And while I loved the first HELLBOY I’m like, oh, there’s another one?, and I loved BLADE II but I didn’t know till I looked up del Toro’s filmography this minute that he directed it.  I’m a Wesley Snipes girl.  Although even Snipes couldn’t rescue BLADE III.  But del Toro has the fantasy chops, certainly.  They just don’t have a lot in common with mine.^ 

^ If his are chops, mine are sort of . . . pudding.  Chocolate pudding.  

*** Except that she had great hair when she was a little kid. 

† Although loose change by Hollywood standards.  

†† My day was further complicated by taking Wolfgang out to Warm Upford to the garage for his MOT.^  Or rather, driving him out there was not a problem, but it’s about five miles back to New Arcadia over hill and dale.  Peter, coming in to find us crashed out on the sofa, said, were the hellhounds tired?  No, I said, but I was.  We generally have our longer hurtle in the morning, and by evening hurtle time, even early evening so we were back to town streetlights by the time it was dark enough to need them, I’ve been at SHADOWS for several hours and adventures are not entirely welcome.

            Now, all fingers crossed that when I ring up the garage tomorrow he’s passed.  

^ Required yearly road test.



Both Darkness and I are feeling a trifle thin on the ground.  Darkness is monumentally better, I hasten to add, but he’s clearly not right yet and from the severity of this, er, outburst, I know it’s going to take a little while to calm down completely.  But I’m not sure what I should be expecting and I worry easily.*  I did not make it to service ring this morning and have pretty much felt like a flag at half mast all day.  This is exactly the sort of thing that makes the ME come back full bore—sudden crisis followed by clean-up and worry.  In theory I have a voice lesson tomorrow.  And tower practise at Glaciation.  Not to mention a novel to write in five months.  

Mrs Redboots wrote:  No, don’t tell us anything about the not-Pegasus novel you’re doing just now! Tease us by referring to it as NOT-PEGASUS and tell us absolutely nothing else until it is set in stone and the editors have given you the proof. We will all plead and beg – myself included – but it would be such fun not knowing what, or who, to expect!

 This really made me laugh.  I think the readers who want to know something about MYSTERY NOVEL outnumber those of you who don’t—and I had been planning on telling you enough to be annoying.  I’ve pretty much had this conversation with both Merrilee and my editor—how much is enough** for various audiences—blog readers as opposed to marketing departments, for example.  Because nobody knows anything at all about this book yet (except me) I had to write some copy for my editor’s presentation at her big autumn sales meeting.***  Aaaaaugh.  Writing any kind of advertising copy is a unique and exacting skill, and being able to write novels and semi-truthful blog entries is no indication of success in this demanding area.  And the short and snappy is not my forte.  You also do find yourself thinking, what is there new and original to say about pegasi-dragons-vampires-fairies-goddesses-magic in a paragraph or two?  Merrilee and I sweated over this for a while and I believe the ultimate outcome was something along the lines of:   New Robin McKinley fantasy novel!!!  No, not PEG II!  That’s later!  To be followed by PEG III even later yet!  New!

            . . . Tick the box and move on to the next item.†

            So here are a few random facts about MYSTERY NOVEL:

(a)    It is not a mystery novel.† 

(b)    It’s modern-alternate-this-world.  Contemporary fantasy.

(c)    There are no vampires.  Just to get that out of the way. ††

(d)   There is origami.  This is why I was trying to drag what little I used to know of it, dusty and creaking, out of the back cupboard.  Which is fine.

(e)    There may be trying to be some . . . maths.†††  I am resisting this.  This is also why I pulled ALEX IN NUMBERLAND off the shelf where it’s been sitting for over a year, and when I discovered  had it, bought,‡ downloaded and listened to it. ‡‡   I haven’t decided yet if this was a good idea or a bad one.  It doesn’t seem to have had any influence on the story, but then my futile attempts at research rarely do.  These attempts do, however, occasionally allow me to keep up.

(f)     I’m going to get this random fact over quickly:  If all goes as planned‡‡‡ this will come out the year I’m sixty.  It will also be my first official YA novel, with a heroine in her senior year in high school.  Feh.

(g)    Its working title is SHADOWS.  And I’d rather call it SHADOWS than NOT PEGASUS or MYSTERY NOVEL, if you don’t mind.  Well, even if you do mind.  Author’s prerogative.  I have to write the thing.

Audrey Falconer:  Mind you, I do also want that one that featured bells….


If I’d had any sense, I’d’ve got that one out and had a run at it;  there’s a lot of it already on paper.§  Although SHADOWS isn’t totally a bolt from the blue, just almost.  The initial idea drifted past about eighteen months ago, and I wrote a few pages of it to check the, um, storyness of it, but I had PEGASUS to be getting on with,§§ and put it (nameless at the time) in a folder and forgot about it.  But it’s SHADOWS that came boiling out of the . . . shadows . . . when I knew I had to put PEG II aside, and said meeeeeeeeeeee.  

                But THE BELLS OF MAZAHAN is still on the list.  It’s just ‘list’ in my language is probably not what it is in anyone else’s language. §§§  Like ‘sanity’ or ‘organisation’.   

* * *

*Yes, I’m going to ring the vet tomorrow and ask.      

** . . . to be annoying 

*** And I’m certainly not going to tell you that much. 

† Eeep, I said.  It’ll be fine, Merrilee said.  Eeep, I said.  But I’ve been reminded that she was right the last time. . . .

jmeadows:  See? Merrilee told you it [the announcement] wouldn’t be bad AND IT WASN’T. You should listen to your agent more. *g* (*may have just experienced something like this and should take her own advice*) 

††When I was younger, and also thought I would write ‘straight’ fiction some day, I also wanted to write at least one mystery.  Even then I knew I wasn’t going to be good at the plotting and the deviousness but I thought I might manage one. 

            You never know.  I wasn’t going to write a trilogy either.^  As several of you have pointed out, however, PEG is not really a trilogy, it’s a Novel in Three Volumes.^^  Like Tolkien’s LOTR, as one or two people further helpfully suggested.^^^  I appreciate your faith in me, but this is not a reassuring thought. 


PEGASUS is a trilogy.

Oddly – and I mean oddly as I have no idea why – I’m not surprised. It just feels like one of those things that, when you find out about them, had to be. 

Sigh.  Yes.  I should have known. . . . 

^ anef:  OMG you’re having triplets! Many congratulations! 

Snork.  Thank you. 

^^ Diane in MN:  Oh, Robin—not a trilogy, a three-volume novel, right? 

Right.   Think of all those Charles Dickens novels that were published serially in volumes.  

^^^ Whom I will not quote here, for fear of bursting into tears.  I can deal with Charles Dickens’ three-decker novels.  I can’t deal with even remote and superficial similarities to the author who probably made me a fantasy writer, even if a significant part of how he made me a fantasy writer is by inspiring a burning ambition to have some girls involved in the story. 

†† Although I think it is in SUNSHINE’s . . . continuum, as you might say.  It’s not the same world, but I think it’s the same universe.  I’m pretty sure all my ‘high’ fantasies join up somewhere;  it wouldn’t surprise me if all my alt-moderns do too. 

††† No, no, no, you maths phobics.  Stop screaming.  It’s not like that.  It’s like . . . if there’s going to be a desert, there’d better not be a pine forest and polar bears.  This is the writer’s problem.  You the reader are only going to see the desert.  Relax. 

Again.  As a study aid, this two-media thing is a very good deal.  From a financial standpoint . . . not so much. 

‡‡ Not without difficulty. 

‡‡‡ Erm.  Better to say hoped for. 

§ And on a floppy disc somewhere.  Although you probably need an Antique Tech Translating Device to extract it any more.  The floppy is not hugely crucial since when I go back to it I’ll start on page one of the hard copy and write a fresh draft. 

§§ Hollow laughter. 

§§§ “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master – – that’s all.” 


Frell and broad beans


Frell and damnation, it’s already the middle of the night and I still have a blog post to yank out of aetherwhere.   I’ve shipped off a lot of photos to Blogmom so that she can start creating the masterwork that will be this auction.  I was just saying to her that I take some comfort in the thought that my bells will not need serious restoration work again for another century or two.

            Meanwhile I’m very pleased that people on the forum are expressing interest and enthusiasm.  I feel my neck is sticking out pretty far.  I will be glad if this auction is a relative success not only for my bells’ sake but for mine, so I don’t look like an utter drooling prat.   So thank you all once already, and please keep those bid-button-pressing fingers limber.

Gonetotervs:  Another suggestion to raise money — if you still own the e-rights to any of your earliest short stories, put them individually on Amazon for $2.99 and see how many of us will buy them…..

Merrilee and I have a Cunning Plan—although probably not in time for the auction.  Watch this space.

Texturedknitter:  Lots of attractive things in your auction list. I’ve never cared about collecting autographs, but regret now that I didn’t get one at Balticon, lo those many *mumble* years ago.

Nothing to regret!  I’m still writing my name on things!  (I’ve still got the Balticon 1898 mug somewhere, holding pencils or paperclips or dragon baby teeth or rose petals or something.  The date on it is a little startling, I agree.) 

Also, maybe offer a little bat doodle thank you, alternate to the bells doodle thank you? I’m kind of unreasonably fond of the bats (distance helps with this, I expect).

I’m fond of the little frellers myself.  I like hearing them enjoying themselves in the accommodations provided . . . just not so much at 5 a.m.  I’m not quite sure how we’re going to arrange this, but doodle-buyers will be allowed some say in what the doodle will be.  Certainly anything that appeared in last night’s extravaganza is fair game.  Although doodles evolve, as anyone who doodles knows.  Last night’s Hermione or spider or running hellhound may not be next week’s Hermione or spider or running hellhound.  The map of Damar will probably stay fairly constant however.  

librarykat:  once things get going, I’ll see what I can bid on, or simply donate (depends on how crazy bidding gets)

Donations are good*—but you can at least buy a doodle!  (Or three!)  I’m hoping to offer both $5 and $10 doodles (there is also going to have to be some add-on for postage, but I haven’t faced this yet), but I’m dependent on what Blogmom tells me about the tactical technology of all this.  I’m also hoping that there is some clever way I can say/offer that if any biddable item is particularly hot, if it’s something I’ve still got spare copies of, I’ll make available extra copies at top bid price. 

Diane in MN:  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.
Oh gods. I spent four years in high school having to sell things as part of fund drives, and made a solemn vow that I would NEVER SELL ANYTHING AGAIN. Which has meant, on more than one occasion, buying a lot of raffle tickets that I wasn’t about to try to unload on my friends and acquaintances. You have my very sincere sympathy for this. Do you suppose Vicky would let you off if your auction brings in a pile of cash?

THIS IS EXACTLY THE PLAN.  THIS.  IS.  THE.  PLAN.   I am totally hoping to lay a startling cheque in Vicky’s lap and add ‘and I’m not selling any frelling tickets.’  So, listen, everyone, not only are you contributing to the bell fund, you’re contributing to GETTING ME A REPRIEVE FROM TICKET SELLING.   Going around confronting people with stuff you want them to buy is the worst.  You know all those studies that say that public speaking is the majority number one fear?  I can do public speaking.  But selling things?  The mere idea makes me feel slightly ill.   Brrrrrrr.  So, bid in the auction.  Buy doodles.  Please.  I’ll stay up late drawing portraits of your Aunt Fanny and setting Chesterton’s Lepanto to music.   Anything.  Just don’t make me sell tickets.    

CathyR:  Can’t wait for the auction! *so excited* !!

This is the right attitude.  We support and encourage this attitude. 

AJLR:    *sits poised on edge of computer chair, with finger flexed over the PayPal button*

Yes!  Yes! 

B_twin:  I’m eyeing off that copy of ROWAN and SUNSHINE…

AJLR:  OK, BIDDING WAR in prospect!  And if R and I have to live on bread and dripping for a week in aid of Robin’s bells, well, I’m sure he won’t mind…

Someone married to a bellringer has to understand.  (Please quote me.)

Glinda:  I’d go for a bell doodle. Or a bat doodle. Or how about both together, for a bit more money?

This is the idea behind the $5 and $10 options.  Or two doodles. 

Black Bear:  Hey all, eyes off that copy of Rowan!!!

AJLR:  Gonna make me, huh, huh?
*squares up to Black Bear* 

Umm . . . ROWAN is one of the ones I have extra copies of . . . ::whistles nonchalantly:: 

Amyrose:  What about just selling autographed copies of various books? I would gladly pay $10-$20 in addition to the price of the book, especially since it’s for such a good cause.

 I’d consider this.  Anyone else out there interested? 

Of course, then who would ship them out? And who would order the necessary books? I suppose that would be a logistics nightmare.

Well, me.  That’s who’s doing all the grunt work anyway.**  But I wouldn’t expect the demand to be all that overwhelming.  Famous last words, I suppose.

But – *wistfully* – it would be nice to get a copy of Spindle’s End with a signature. And maybe a doodle of a spider… or a fox..

I could do that.  Oh, fox!  I could do a fox.

PamAdams:  I would certainly buy a doodle or maybe two. (Plus I’m hoping for some Peter books–any chance for King and Joker or Skeleton-in-Waiting?)

Another thing about an auction list is you probably can’t let it get too long and overwhelming or people will take one look and go back to reruns of THE WEST WING.  Unless you’re Sotheby’s, which I am not.  And I think KING and SKELETON don’t appear because we haven’t got spare copies.  Peter had this appalling habit of giving ALL his copies away and neglecting to order more.  And then the book goes OP and that’s that.  

AnguaLupin:  …Now I really have to find money in the budget to bid on the Serious Doodle. 

Oh good.  Yes please. 

Mrs Redboots:  Is there anything the Hellgoddess can’t do????

Write books that sell millions of copies.  Knit like you can.  Ring a touch of Stedman Triples.  Ring even a plain frelling course of Cambridge minor in hand.  Stop my roses from getting blackspot.  Convince my hellhounds to eat every day.  Sing like Beverly Sills/Marilyn Horne/Janet Baker/Joyce DiDonato/Bryn Terfel.  Fly like a pegasus.  End world hunger. . . .

I love the doodles!

Oh good.  Thank you!  Thank all of you! 

Meanwhile . . . you won’t remember this, but a couple of months ago I made reference to a Secret Gardening Project.  Look. 

First fruits. Er, vegetables.

My very first edible crop . . . of anything but apples off my predecessor’s tree, and my little patio peach and nectarine trees (this year’s harvest are ripening nicely, thank you).   Peter used to grow our vegetables but his back has not been cooperating this year with the basic gardening concept of lots of bending over.  I saw a tray of six-inch broad-bean seedlings out in front of the florist’s and thought oh . . .  feh . . . nothing ventured.  And they take up a huge amount of room, demand to be watered all the time, and totally refuse to be staked in any way I understand staking*** . . . and then you get this weeny handful of pods after all that, which are mostly pod.† 

Mostly pod. Sigh.

            But then you bite into a broad bean that was still on the plant an hour ago and you say ‘oh.  Wow.  Yes.  This is why.’  So I probably will do it again next year.    Maybe I’ll try a few more plants.   Maybe . . . 

* * *

* I’m also thinking that after all of this I will have to figure out how to get a recording of us ringing our newly cleaned, pressed and mended bells.  I’m the one going CLANK. 

** And Fiona, of course. 

*** Note to self:  broad beans are not dahlias. 

† I should get about this much again, I think, unless the next lot of pods decide they’re not having a good time and decamp to the Bahamas.

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