March 20, 2015

Shadows is here!

Footnote meltdown* and bell ringing


Crabbiton, for better or worse, is becoming a fixture of my Thursday nights.**  And I was thinking tonight, as I made a complete squishy overdone dog’s dinner of a touch of St Simons doubles***, that I’m beginning to remember how much fun bell ringing is, even when you’re being hopeless.†  I’m also beginning to brandish a tiny amount of autonomy.  I have a habit of staying off the bigger bells in any tower however light the ring is overall, where even the big bells aren’t very, because I’m such a jerky ringer.  Bells are a lot bigger than you are, even the little ones, and you have to ring with grace and discretion or they will get the better of you.  You can recover from ringing idiocy by violent yanking to some extent on the littler bells.  The heavier the bell, however, the faster it will embarrass a tactless ringer, and genuinely big bells are only rung by good ringers.  I am not a good ringer.  Crabbiton is a light six but I’ve still been cringing around front.††  Last week I decided it was time to stop being quite such a little old lady.  Okay, so I made another mess of ringing up the six tonight†††, I made a dive for it anyway when Wild Robert called for plain hunt on six.  I’d successfully rung a few touches on the five, and plain hunt does require you to move your bell down to the front and back up again but there’s none of that dreadful dodging business, I should be able to do this for pity’s sake.  And while there was a good deal of Wild Robert saying things like ‘keep the six moving along’, ie go faster, which is hard when you over-pull, which I do, because that’s a bigger bell you’re wrestling with the inertia of, I did stay in place.  And it was weirdly exhilarating, tackling another aspect of my less than fabulous ringing skill,‡ and it made me think about handling, which is a good thing to do.‡‡

So I was chirping cheerfully about this at the pub, about what is essentially relearning stuff I used to know, but in my case, possibly because I’m such a slow learner about most things, relearning is usually a good thing because I learn more the second, or third or fourth or seventeenth, time through.

On the learning of bell ringing however there is only one focus of interest for Niall, and I found myself discussing learning frelling handbells again.  He referred to some pronouncement by one of the stars in the handbell-ringing firmament and I made Rude Noises.  He is a nasty man, I said, after you and Colin dragged me through a couple of quarters of bob minor he kept asking when I was going to ring a peal.  I AM NOT GOING TO RING A PEAL.

There was a silence.

You could ring a peal of bob minor dead easy now, said Niall insinuatingly.  Now you’ve rung a couple of quarters of bob major.


To be continued.  I fear.

* * *

* It’s because I’m ringing too many handbells.  TOO MANY HANDBELLS.  MY BRAIN CAN’T TAKE THE STRAIN.  AAAAAAAAUGH.

** I drive.  Niall buys the beer at the pub after.  HE FORGOT HIS MONEY TONIGHT.  I HAD TO DRIVE AND BUY THE BEER. ^

^ As I told him however, having first exercised my inner cow by doing shock-horror-flounce, given the amount of driving he’s done in support of my ringing progress+ I probably owe him a few beers.  1,000,000 or so.

+ A few weeks ago, for example, handbells at Gillian’s house, I didn’t know Hampshire had that much back of beyond, and little twisty confusingly-mapped# roads that always have tractors coming at you around blind, one-car-wide corners.  Of course this was for handbells.  If it weren’t for the whips and chains## I could have stayed home.###

# It would almost be worth finally making up my tiny mind~ and buying a satnav~~ to take it out there and watch it weep.  I could be wrong, but I bet it would say TURN AROUND!  TURN AROUND!  GIVE ME STREET LIGHTS AND MOBILE PHONE MASTS!  AAAAAAAAAUGH! 

~ The money Peter gave me to buy one is long gone on books/music/yarn/All Stars/chocolate

~~Niall doesn’t need satnav in pursuit of handbells.  He can smell a handbell ringer two counties over.

## Don’t let that mild-mannered exterior fool you.  Niall is FIERCE in pursuit of handbells.  FIERCE.  Tigers have nothing on Niall when he has his handbell bag out.  And it’s always out.~  I have an American friend coming through next week and I’m going to take her tower ringing.  It’s so, you know, exotic, and she reads the blog.  I told Niall about her since I’m hoping to, ahem, rope him into this adventure and his immediate reaction was, is there time to start her on handbells?

~ There are rumours of mysterious disappearances in his part of town and the sound of handbells and moaning at strange hours.=

= Of course in my part of town there are stories of an elderly woman with wild hair and All Stars carrying a series of large lumpy pink knapsacks and accompanied by a series of furry four-legged creatures of the night whom she cajoles with such phrases as, I don’t care if you are a stomach on four short little legs you may not eat that . . . ewwww . . . whatever it is, and, I don’t care if you’re entire males you do not have to pee every five feet I want to get home before dawn.%

% Preferably.  This doesn’t always happen.  Especially lately with, you know, spring looming and longer days and everything.  Street Pastors and Sams£ are really ruining my ability to get back out of bed in the morning.

£ Although no one’s holding a gun to my head and making me sign up for late shifts.  I have a Dr Strangelove hand.  It . . . must . . . press . . . late shift buttons.

###  Gillian must have a private helicopter pad~.  I can’t believe she drives everywhere.

~ And one doodah of a private income

*** The frelling bobs are the same simple-minded bobs as for plain bob doubles, the frelling method you frelling started with!!  What is my FRELLING PROBLEM!!!!^

^ My frelling problem is that it’s a different basic method, so the bobs are stuck into the course line slightly differently.  Just enough to derail someone like me who doesn’t actually count to five+ very reliably.

+ ‘Doubles’ means five working bells.  ONLY FIVE.  Amazing the amount of mayhem a mere five bells can get up to.  Apparently there are a lot of us numerically challenged ringers who can’t count to five.

† Mind you I’d just successfully called my baby touch of Grandsire doubles and for the second week in a row like I actually knew it or something.^  There are drawbacks to success with Wild Robert around.  Hmm, he said, we’ll have to teach you another touch.

^ Last week everyone just tied up their ropes and wandered away which is what usually happens at the end of a touch.  I WANTED PRAISE.  I WANTED PEOPLE TO TELL ME HOW CLEVER I AM.  I said this to Niall over our beer afterward.  This week there was applause.  Led by Niall.

†† Although I don’t much like Crabbiton’s treble—the littlest bell—either because it’s so little I tend inadvertently to try and spring it out of the tower.  See:  jerky ringer.

††† I GOT MY HAND THROUGH A LOOP OF THE ROPE AND COULDN’T GET IT OUT AGAIN.  You can’t finish ringing up unless you let all your loops out.  So I either had to sort it or undergo the utter humiliation of ringing back down again, extricating myself, and ringing up in Grisly Solitude.  I did get my hand out without ringing down, but I was still late getting up with the other bells.  Arrrrrgh.  Wasn’t I saying something about fun?  What was I saying about fun?

‡ I survived two plain courses of Stedman doubles with two of the other bells going adrift.  This may count more than calling a touch of Grandsire.

‡‡ I was also feeling a little self-conscious because one of the Forza ringers was there and gazed at me as you might say inquiringly, because in theory I belong to the Forza band and haven’t been there I think by now over a year.  Erm, I squeaked, I’ve been ringing here lately because it’s, you know, casual, and, um, low key.  Lots of Grandsire doubles.  Only six bells.  Rather than forty-seven.  Aglovale nodded gravely.  Arrrgh.  Eeep.  I suppose I could turn up at Forza practise some week. . . .

Maybe I should just go bell ringing more often


Wasn’t I saying something not all that long ago about having been sort of half-planning without thinking about it, because thinking about it would make me sad, to slip unofficially out of bell ringing?  It’s not like I’m good at it or, even if I practised eight hours a day every day as if I were in training for the Olympics or Norma for the Metropolitan Opera, would I get good at it.*  Nobody is going to miss me beyond method bell ringing’s chronic shortage of hands on ropes.**

Okay.  That was then.  Now has gone rogue and bolted in another direction.  I seem to have rung some kind of frelling bells five days out of the last eight.  If you wanted to be cruel you could say I’ve rung bells nine days out of the last twelve.  I wonder if heroin addicts feel like this after they’ve been clean for a while?  The old buzz?  That fluttering feeling*** behind the eyes† or in the base of the throat?††  The sense of being helplessly ensnared by a grinning, many-clawed obsession.  Going har har har har har GOTCHA.  Look on the bright side.  I don’t have to worry about finding a reliable source of clean needles.

I can’t even (entirely) blame Niall†††.  I went to South Desuetude entirely on my own recognisance.  Sonar Fweep was my idea.‡  And I’m sure Old Eden was good for my character as well as my muscular redevelopment, tonight‡‡, after tinkling carelessly on the little light well-mannered bells at Crabbiton for . . . ahem . . . several weeks in a row now.  Ringing at Old Eden is ploughing rough tussocky ground.  Ah yes, plain bearings.  Joy.  Creak.‡‡‡

I’M NOT RINGING ANY BELLS TOMORROW.  OR WEDNESDAY.  Er.  I think I will maintain a tactful silence about Thursday.  And Friday.  And I forget if I’m ringing on Saturday. . . .

* * *

* Any more than singing eight hours a day would make me a Norma.  Sigh.  At the moment I would probably settle for NOT being late for my voice lesson every frinkblasted week.  I was supposed to predict that everyone on my end of Main Street was going to be getting their bathrooms replaced today and there would be epic numbers of OPULENT PERSONAL CARE SPACE REFIT lorries casually half-parked on the margins on BOTH sides of the road so unless you were a very thin bicycle you COULDN’T GET THROUGH?

I am also finally beginning to realise that I have a new(ish) tactical problem.  I think I told you^ that as this horrible winter started dragging itself toward spring I let Aloysius^^ put me back on the singing rota at St Margaret’s.  This means that on my service-singing weeks I’ll have spent the last two or three days of that week frantically cramming for service singing, since that week’s music director won’t have sent out the playlist till Thursday if we’re lucky.  As it happens I was down to sing this week—that is last night—which was a special service and there were going to be LOTS OF PEOPLE THERE^^^ so I was a tiny bit more anxious than usual that I should have SOME clue about the stuff^^^^ we were performing.

This means however that by late Sunday night, when, even on a non-special-service singing Sunday, I’m exhausted and my mind is full of the detritus that results from classical training coming in explosive contact with Jesus Is My Boyfriend, and I’m trying to reengage with the former the results can be a bit bizarre.  Even aberrant.  And my voice lesson is on MONDAY.  I was singing Panis Angelicus^^^^^ better on Wednesday than I was today.  Sigh.

^ ?? One of the things about blogging every day was that I probably had told you things and therefore didn’t have to try to remember if I had.  Remembering comes under the ‘Norma’ and ‘bell ringing’ category of personal excellence, ie Not Going to Happen.

^^ Aloysius is LEAVINGWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH.  . . . Okay, pulling myself together now.  I know this happens with curates and I even knew it was due to happen to Aloysius soon but . . . WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH.  I may be a grown up as a human being+ but I’m a baby as a Christian and Aloysius has been First Contact++ about a lot of stuff.+++

+ And a grown-up twice Aloysius’ age, as I may have mentioned before because it haunts me.~  At least I’m only seven years older than Alfrick.

~ I told him not long ago that it was hard sometimes learning stuff from children.#  He took this in good part.  I’m trying not to believe that he took this in good part because he’s a priest, and priests are obliged to take cranky remarks from elderly parishioners kindly and tolerantly.  It’s in the small print in the Priest Contract:  Be nice to the grouches God has blessed you with.  You can afford to be nice because you’re a priest and you know God will sort them out later.##

# I suspect it’s even worse for those of us who were precocious in our own youth.  Don’t be precocious.  It will just make you crankier later on.

## ::ducks::

++ You can’t have a father figure half your age, right?

+++ My monks, for example, speaking of Alfrick.  I could still be going ‘oooooh . . . monks . . . . scary’ and driving hastily past the monks’ gate, which has a large sign by the turn-in that says WELCOME, if it weren’t for Aloysius.

^^^ MAJOR EEEK.  Till it occurred to me, hey, the more of them there are the less likely any of them can hear me. +

+ Also we had a drummer last night.  Our usual drummer is actually a good drummer which might be considered regrettable in our usual raggedy-andy line up.  But any drummer will be wildly over-miked so the rest of us can pretty much do anything we like and no one will know.  Maybe I should try singing Bellini.

^^^^ Sic.  I am still not a fan of Modern Christian Worship Music.

^^^^^ Corny?  Sure.  The good kind of corny.

** Or on short leather straps if you happen to ring handbells.  I don’t know anyone who rings methods on handbells, do you?  Especially no one who rings frelling quarter peals on frelling handbells.  Which I may have done for a second time recently.  On one of those nine days out of twelve.  But then I don’t know me.  I don’t want to know me.  Crazy obsessed people make me nervous.

*** Which is not about getting your out-of-practise hands tangled in a bell rope.

† No, that’s your brain going NOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

†† Which is a matching AAAAAAAAAAAUGH trying to get out.

††† I may try.

‡ It was one of Wild Robert’s erratic seminars.  And I needed Niall to drive that far.  There was a motorway involved.

‡‡ Fortunately in terms of mental integrity it was mostly plain hunt for beginners.  Nadia just about killed me today.^  In the nicest possible way of course.  But Monday is not usually my best evening for an optimum bell ringing experience.  And story-in-progress tonight?  After, furthermore, last night’s heroic service sing?  Not a hope.  Might as well write another blog post.

^ Niall is not the ONLY Master of Mwa hahahahaha in my life.

‡‡‡ My shoulders.  Not the bell frames.

Crazy Singing Lady


. . . NO NO NO NO I CAN’T POSSIBLY START WITH THAT FIRST LINE, SOMETHING MIGHT BE LISTENING. . . .  ::DANCES THE FANDANGO IN A DISTRACTING MANNER::* . . . It’s been a pretty crappy almost everything lately, you can hardly blame me for being paranoid.  So, what I was risking saying was, I’ve had two surprisingly okay, engaged, useful, whatever, voice lessons in a row . . . just in time however for a three-week holiday break during which I will doubtless go to flat, unrhythmic little splinters again.  So the powers of entropy don’t have to be paying attention.  The gremlins can just lie back and giggle.  Throw the occasional brickbat if they feel inspired.  Although I may dare to hope for metaphorical brickbats.**

My attitude = not great.

I managed to whomp the whatsit out of myself with a not-very-metaphorical brickbat just before last week’s voice lesson and I mean whomp.  The gremlins would have been proud of me.  You may recall that this is A New Computer.***  I was rummaging a fortnight ago, in the scary dark interstices of the EVERYTHING folder, where files you haven’t seen since before you had a computer may lurk undetected for centuries, or at least till they make the next gazillion storage media redundant.†   And, lo and behold, I unearthed a couple of the recordings I’d made of voice lessons YEARS ago, or at least I hope it was years.  And I made the very nearly fatal mistake of listening to one of them.††

DEAR GOD IN HEAVEN I KNEW I WAS BAD BUT I HAD NO IDEA I WAS THAT BAD.†††  I also remember that when I played them back at the time I was a little discouraged‡—also I had some other great emotional drama playing out in my life at the time and I’m learning that this always has a Florence-Foster-Jenkins-izing‡‡ effect on my singing—but I don’t think I wanted to find a bridge to jump off of.  I should have wanted to find a bridge to jump off of, or at least to stop singing forever and let Nadia fill my slot with someone she can teach to SING.  AAAAAAAAAAAAUGH.

About the only thing to say for this utterly demoralising experience is that I didn’t consider giving up singing forever.  It’s too late.  I sing for sanity.‡‡‡  But I pretty much went in for my lesson on my hands and knees last week and Nadia, bless her, said I FORBID YOU TO LISTEN TO THAT RECORDING.  EITHER BURY IT IN THE BACK GARDEN OR—RECOMMENDEDDELETE IT.  YOU’RE JUST HURTING YOURSELF LISTENING TO IT NOW.  . . . The real point being she did NOT say, actually, I’ve been meaning to discuss giving your slot to someone I can teach to sing. . . .  She did say that I’ve improved.  WELL I COULD HARDLY HAVE GOT WORSE.

I came out of this at last week’s lesson like a bull terrier going for her supper Kong and SANG.§  It may not have been pretty but it was energetic.  And this is the time of year when you can probably even sing (audibly) on the street without people thinking you’re the Crazy Singing Lady§§ and I’m having my annual frenzy of learning all the rest of the verses to my top favourite 1,000,000 Christmas carols§§§—which I admit is cutting into proper practise time but it does mean I’m singing.#

And . . . (re)learning Christmas carols## this year, I came to In the Bleak Midwinter and . . . hmmm.   It hadn’t really registered with me till I moved over here, but it’s (perhaps) Peter’s favourite and has become one of mine.  But this year, singing it, I thought, this isn’t a carol, this is a song that happens to be about Christmas.  So I’m going to learn it properly—I took it in to Nadia today—and sing it all year.  And become the Crazy Singing Lady who sings carols in midsummer.   If I’m going to become the Florence Foster Jenkins of the 21st century I might as well do it with some flourish and swagger.

* * *

* And me dancing the fandango would be very distracting.^  Not in a good way.

^  Eh.  You need a partner for the fandango.  ::Eyes the hellmob+::  Hellhounds get that ‘oh help and glory she’s not going to shove FOOD at us again is she???  But we just ate last week’ look on their faces, delicately rearrange themselves to face the wall and appear to be deeply preoccupied with going to sleep.  Hellterror throws herself up on her hind legs and starts demonstrating her idea of a fandango, shouting, ME, COACH!  PUT ME IN!  I CAN FANDANGO!  ALL I NEED IS A CARMEN MIRANDA HAT!

+ Or hellhorde, as some enterprising forum poster suggested.

** You probably think gremlins are metaphorical.  NOT IN MY LIFE.

*** The old one is still in a box under Raphael’s desk because he’s going to find time to resuscitate it any minute.^  You know, like maybe March.  2016.  Not that I feel that I’m not getting my contract support hours out of him however:  it’s a good day when I have texted/emailed/screamed-so-they-could-hear-me-in-Dorset him about the ultrabook’s^^ latest little ways fewer than 4,612 times.

^ Yes, since you ask.  There’s still stuff on it that I’m missing.+  And you’re totally up to date with your back ups, your files are flawlessly labelled and you’re all ready for Christmas, right?  GOAWAY.

+ Besides the remnants of my sanity.  Sanity, computers and I are really not an integrated whole.  We’re kind of this universe, the anti-universe, and a third thing nobody’s discovered yet but it makes an even bigger bang. 

^^ I’ve already complained to you about how you can’t say LAPTOP any more?  That’s just so turn of the century.  No, it’s ULTRABOOKS now.  Ewww.  I thought ‘laptops’ was naff, but ultrabooks has that Marketing Genius pong about it.  Go away.+  Go shed your fuzzy, asthma-inducing fashionability on someone else’s carpets.  I just want a computer that will fit in my knapsack.

+ I probably shouldn’t be repeating ‘Go away’ so often three days before Christmas, right?  . . . GO AWAY.~

~ I know.  You saw that coming.  Sorry.  It’s been a hard year.

† So, how about all those cassette tapes and floppy discs?

†† Well, I had a row of knitting to finish.  And then about a skein and a half of rows after that.

††† May I grovel in apology here to the two or three people I’ve taken along to my voice lessons.  In my pathetic defense I took them because I wanted them to meet Nadia and see/hear how totally cool and interesting and exact and responsive she is, and the way she can adjust what she says to what the student can take on.^  It’s true that part of the experience is that they have to hear me sing, but . . . well, I knew I wasn’t good, but . . . GROVELS EXTENSIVELY.  I’LL NEVER DO IT AGAIN.  NEVER EVER.  I PROMISE.

^ I get a lot of horse riding metaphors.

‡ I also remember I blogged about it, but I don’t want to go back and read what I said.

‡‡ One of the things I might have found interesting if I hadn’t been having a nervous breakdown is what Nadia has been telling me for years about what she tactfully calls my ‘tuning’ issues which is to say that I spend most of my time going flat, not because I have no ear^ but from nerves.  No no I can’t possibly do that whatever it is!  FLAT!!!!  And she’s right.  It’s the exposed notes that go flat;  it’s got pretty much nothing to do with pitch.  I’ll go flat on a frelling C if it’s the top note of the bar;  in the next bar I’ll sing an F on pitch if there’s a G above it I can go flat on instead.  Why don’t I stick to knitting?^^

^ I haven’t got much ear but I generally recognise flat when I hear it.  Except when I’m deaf from the throbbing in both ears.

^^ Because I’m also a lousy knitter?  Sigh.  Although until my life placids out a little I’m not even interested in doing anything more exciting than stocking or garter stitch with maybe the odd bit of ribbing for variety.  I knit for tranquillity+.  But then I sing for sanity.++


++ Um.  Yes.  And I’d be even less tranquil without my error-liable knitting.  SIGH.

‡‡‡ Yes.  As previous footnote.  Also, for some inexplicable reason, my church likes my singing.  They are even more desperate and/or tone deaf than I realised.

§ Any of you know Brother James’ Air? It is so pretty.

§§ Which they think the rest of the year. Crazy Singing Lady with a Variety of Dogs.

§§§ Every year they come back a little quicker. How long have I been taking voice lessons, and singing increasingly shamelessly on the street?^ By the time I die of extreme old age I’ll probably be quavering my way through all sixteen verses of everything at Christmas.

^ It’s done me serious good the last few months, I think, despite what the neighbours think, because of the adjusting-to-new-sitting-room-with-new-acoustics thing which was a much bigger issue than I’d expected.  Silly me.  Of course it was going to be an issue.  In a little tiny sitting room I can—and do—make the blasted lamps rattle, because I have so little frelling control.  I’m either loud or shut down to a faint creak.  Sigh.

# Singing for sanity.  As I keep saying.  Thank God for singing (if badly) and knitting (if badly).

## There’s also the ever-interesting topic of the way the British keep jerking the tunes around.  An exploration for some other evening.

Ask me anything*


I’m doing one of reddit fantasy’s Ask Me Anything, AMA, sessions this Thursday, the day after tomorrow [as I write during what is to me still Tuesday night]. The poor suck—the nice man who originally invited me and is attempting to shepherd me through the technical aspects of this gig** says that if you go here:

. . . while you’re waiting you can poke around*** and when the AMA session goes ‘live’ at approximately noon (American) Central Time on Thursday the link will go up on that page. The game plan seems to be that I (or rather the Nice Man, which means I have to have written it in advance for him to deal with) post(s) a brief introductory doodah at noon as part of the going-live process, and people post questions then if they feel like it.  Perhaps I drift in during reddit’s idea of afternoon (my idea of evening) and answer any of these there are and maybe I don’t, but I do show up for live-ish keyboard interaction around 6 pm Central time which I think is midnight mine, and respond—I do not say answer—any and all questions then.  I admit midnight is not particularly late by my standards [hey it’s past 4 am where I’m sitting] but it is late to be articulate to/with a bunch of strangers.†  If I were living in the same part of the galaxy as the reddit fantasy admin the AMAs usually go live at about 8 pm—as some of you, who’ve been to talk to other authors, already know—but it’s going to be early with me.  If the conversation suddenly heats up at 2 am I’ll stay on, but the alternative, if people are absent-mindedly expecting it to have begun at 8 pm reddit time and show up after I’ve left to give the hellmob its final hurtle††, is to post questions anyway and I’ll come back on the far side of sleep and caffeine and answer them then.

One or two guidelines: I can’t tell you when PEG II or III will be out because I don’t know.  I said pretty much all I have to say on that burdensome topic in the ebook-announcement post: I’m working on the rest of the PEGASUS story, sure, and believe me I’d finish it yesterday if I could. But I can’t.  I am finding the writing experience lately like cleaning the Houses of Parliament with a toothbrush or watering the Sahara with a teacup.  I’d rather prune Souvenir de la Malmaison††† without full body armour and a face mask than face the PEG II file.  I’m getting calluses and tendonitis from clutching my forehead/chair/nearest hellcritter.  So you can ask when PEG II and III will be out, but don’t expect a useful answer.

And, speaking of useful answers, there’s still no sequel to SUNSHINE. And there are at last count approximately three hundred and twelve Third Damar Novels, but I haven’t written any of them.‡

Some authors are more perverse than others. You might want to embroider that on a sampler.  But do come round on Thursday at whatever o’clock and ask me about roses or dogs or bell ringing or life as an American expat in England or knitting (badly) or singing (worse) or even about suddenly and involuntarily converting to Christianity two years ago and coming all over social-welfare volunteering like a bad case of measles.‡‡  I’m still cranky though.

* * *

* . . . answers not guaranteed. But then you blog readers know that already.


*** It’s frelling HUGE. I keep getting lost.

† So, you know, please come hang out so it’s not all strangers.

†† And wave at passing patrol cars

††† Which in my tiny garden is presently about twenty feet by twenty feet and putting on a rather amazing autumn show for a rose known for not repeating in this climate. She is also implicated in the disappearance of several annoying small children and neighbourhood cats which insist on crapping in Third House’s flowerbeds, but we don’t know anything about that, except to say that a rose responds well to generous feeding and I’m delighted she has settled in so happily.

‡ Please try to remember that I can only write what I am given to write.   The Damar stories are there—like PEG II and III are there—like the frelling sequel to SUNSHINE is there—but I can’t write them because they haven’t come to me in writable form.  It’s like one of those scenes out of Dickens—or Frances Hodgson Burnett—when the main character is standing on the wrong side of a window watching other people having a good time.  You can see what everybody is wearing and eating, you can see the champagne sparkling in the glasses, you can see who’s flirting with whom, you can maybe even hear a faint echo of the live music.  But you can’t go in because you weren’t invited.  And besides there doesn’t seem to be a door.

‡‡ Which also makes a change occasionally from staring at the frelling blank page . The eleventh commandment:  Do what you can.

Oh, cool/hot/awesome/slang of the moment!

This is a really interesting article anyway full of stuff I need to check out but don’t miss the last paragraph.*

And thanks for all the happy chirping noises about last night’s news.**


Is it a bad thing that I already own The Blue Sword as an e-book? I would NEVER knowingly get a pirated copy of anyone’s book. That would be BAD! The e-book that I have looks very professionally done. I’m confused! I’ll have to get another copy (a legit? copy) of the e-book when it comes out.

You’ve probably got one of the ones that were briefly and in the publisher’s mind legitimately available a while ago. When said publisher had it politely pointed out to them that in fact what they were doing wasn’t totally pure and square and holy they were very embarrassed.  They were so embarrassed it’s taking a while to winkle them out from under the bed, convince them that All Is Forgiven, and persuade them that we really want to do it again, just the right way this time, okay?


Well, I’m conflicted. Congratulations for the e-books. But I’ve already bought them in old fashioned, space gobbling, real book style. What excuse do I have to buy an e-reader?

Good heavens. Have you never found yourself standing in an endless queue and wished you’d brought with you that really good book you were reading but it’s large and heavy and you were only going to be gone ten minutes because there are never any queues this time of day?  Or equivalent?  E-editions are pretty much a scam that I’m allowing myself to be gorgleblorged by because of the Library in Your Knapsack thing.  I wouldn’t dream of having keeper books only in e-format.  I just have more editions of stuff I’ll want to read again.

And as Lenni says you don’t have to have a dedicated ereader. I have the Kindle app on my iPad.  If you’re portable-tech-free you have a slightly more epic struggle with your conscience ahead of you but . . . well, I’ve told this story many times before, but I only bought my first computer because the office shop could no longer get parts for my IBM Selectric I typewriter.  I forget why I let myself get gorgleblorged*** by the idea of an iPad† but I use her constantly, however often I want to throw her against the wall for her tantrums about Microsoft.


I can’t wait to be rescued from a long wait somewhere by pulling up a comforting favorite story on my phone.

Yes, exactly. But I am fascinated by you people who read on your phones. My eyes can do it but, dunno, my brain can’t.  It’s like people with little tiny writing.  My hand can do it BUT MY BRAIN CAN’T.  I have big sprawly handwriting.  I guess I must have big sprawly eyes†† too.  I was actually going to buy the next size down of tablet for portability reasons next time but then I thought about the pleasantness of reading double page spreads like a REAL book on the iPad . . . and then I read about the iPad Air which weighs about two butterflies and a feather and I thought, fine, I wasn’t seriously planning to downsize my knapsack anyway.

* * *

* Thank you, Gomoto^, although why one of my American readers was faster off the mark than any of my English ones . . . is one of those little mysteries of the modern global-internet world.

^ Also Rachel on the forum, but her post went up later, and I also don’t know which side of the pond she’s on. Or even which pond.

** One person out in public on Facebook and a few people more privately on email have said that they aren’t buying anything of mine till I produce the second/third/ninety-seventh/final volume of PEGASUS.  It’s not always easy to tell tone of voice from a stranger in print, but I have the impression that these declarations are typed in some dudgeon, possibly high.  What people choose to do with their disposable income is up to them, of course, including whether or not they buy books and if they do buy books whose books they buy.  But just in case this has slipped anyone’s mind . . . I’m not not producing PEG II, III and LXXXIX out of any disturbingly perverse desire to alienate readers.  Um, why would I?  I need to keep eating.^ Also I’m a storyteller by blood and bone;  I don’t exist in my own mind let alone anyone else’s if I’m not telling stories.  I would love to have PEG II already out and PEG III being wept over by final-stage copyeditors^^ and myself be contemplating writing that story about the bottle of sentient champagne.  But I’m not.^^^ I’m not because PEG II is moving approximately as quickly as it’s going to take all those plate tectonics to bring Africa back to West Quoddy Head.  I’m not happy about this.#  But it’s not up to me—rather like producing my books in e-format isn’t up to me.  You can, of course, nag me, about ebooks## or PEG II or LXXXIX, but it won’t produce any results except making me miserable.###  Control freaks seriously don’t like things to be out of their control.  And storytellers hate not telling stories.

^ And buying other people’s books.

^^ Tears of joy, mind you.  Supposing it ends with III, which is to say it better had or I may become a full-time professional practising homeopath after all, not everybody is going to be spectacularly happy in all ways after the climax but this is still a McKinley story and there will be some kind of a big shiny hurrah somewhere near the end.

^^^ Except at my 3 am equivalent which is about when most people are heading off to work, or the local builders are arriving and turning their frelling radios on to the Maudlin Pop Drivel station.+

+ I keep forgetting to check if U2 are trying to break into my iPhone.

# In fact I am wildly, frantically frustrated and crazy over it.  Just by the way.

## Including, inevitably, what goes wrong, because things will go wrong.

### You can’t make a horse win a race even if you’ve bred, fed and trained her perfectly. You can’t make a rosebush cover herself in huge fabulous flowers+ ditto.  And horses are horribly expensive to keep and rose-free rosebushes are mostly pretty ugly.  It goes like that sometimes.

+ Unless you’re a character out of ROSE DAUGHTER

*** Or ‘sandbagged’ if you prefer


^ Yes of course I play several. I might not be so outraged if I played them a little better.

†† And a big sprawly brain. If it were tidier I might be getting on with PEG II quicker.  Sigh.

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