Saturday, December 19, 2009

Snowed In! The blogpost

Because I have been snowed out today - even before the snow came down - with a gallon of hot assam black and sushi I walked ten blocks for, I thought I would update my blog.

Firstly, I am going to make a shirt that plays lip-service to the doomsayers of NYC:

Create your own banner at!

It is cold, though. And I've been warming up with Farscape - wondering what I was smoking in 1998 when I forsook that spectacular series for Lexx on Friday nights (outside of how incredibly good looking Michael McManus as Kai is) - and some more new musics. And my very first naughty phone call! When I figure out how to get it off my cell phone voice mail box and into a format I can share with the world, I will do so. This is even better than the three foot menorah car and the spaceship I thought I saw last night. And unlike either of the aforemention, far far more portable.

On Thursday and Friday, my associate in cataloging crime, Miss L and I were busy shifting books and recompiling databases and drinking earl grey tea while listening to Pandora. Miss L has, by means accessible to the world at large, created two really awesome playlists. But one of them based on Say Hello to Your Mother (who I thought was Bright Eyes for a while) spawned the song "Photograph" by Adam Payne. I love this song. I can't find it in any sort of shareable media. I finally found it on Reverbnation and highly, highly recommend listening to it.

I liked the lyrics (as in really feeling for the plight of Adam Payne's protagonist): I don't want to hear about the guy you met last night, how you believe this has got to be the one. You don't want to hear about the dream I had last night. About the two of us, you know I'll have another one.

Miss L and I discussed Kierkegaard (the philosopher) and how weird it is to be involved with people we like like (i.e. love, or some sort of thing we think is love) despite there being no reciprocal liking. It was very interesting as apparently Kierkegaard was a victim to this same complaint (loving someone who had married someone else - but continued to have a pseudo-relationship with) and created a whole philosophical system on it! I am not nearly that ambitious. Mostly 'cause if someone told me they didn't like me (by word or deed) I would move out of their lives posthaste (ironically, this is my theme of 2009!).

I am also pondering whether I can morally buy this shirt from Threadless despite my one person boycott until they print something by queenmob. I think if I just think about John Crichton, I should be ok, despite the fact that the shirt inspired this guy to wield a chainsaw!!!

And festively here is one of my favorite Xmas songs:

I like this version because she is the only one who sings the line, "until then, we'll have to muddle through somehow." I've always thought it was more true than other Christmas songs - if that means anything.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Harddrive Deaths & Other Mysteries of Life

Ever since finishing NaNo on November 30th, I have been having inspirational deliriums that are seriously waking me up from a sound sleep! Or keeping me from sleeping at all. Dreams about a Fae named Arsar and souls caught to bodies and Restoration astrologers and Rune-Earls – seriously, I have no idea where this shit comes from. Probably the same place where Vamperace, the Vampire Liberace, came from and some plans for a Dungeons & Dragons 4.0 0-Level series of games I hope to run early next year featuring Yuan-Ti and spice and Girth Bi'ttoms and his daughter, Maythee.

But mostly I keep dreaming about Arsar and his human foil, Rhys. For NaNoWriMo, the character of Anne sort of haunted me for a few months. Since my mind ticks and purrs all the time, I sort of have to trick it into letting me go to sleep, so I make up stories before going to bed. One night, a blonde woman in a black mid-Victorian dress (probably based on Irene Forsyth) turned around in a room lit by sunlight, only slowly revealing her face as I waited for her to turn. She was being introduced to someone – but I had no idea who it was. She turned into Anne Edwardes – who is currently lost until I can scare up a USB harddrive enclosure to rescue her.

I am officially an idiot. Seriously.

The harddrive on my newish (6 months old) laptop blew up on me Saturday morning – as in the blue screen of death and all that heart wrenching madness. As a measure of my insane priorities, all of my music is on my external harddrive and fine... but not my NaNo novel! Or my FanFix Chapter 16 – and seriously I don't know if I have the stamina to rewrite that. Or the notes I had made about my very slowly evolving zombie love story and a couple pages of notes I had taken after waking up from my dream about Arsar. I was sort of frantic – particularly as I don't think I can function as a human being without internet access (I think I was born to exist in the world of Shadowrun) – and after trying to boot XP off the disc and running diagnostics realized it was pretty much a lost cause. Thankfully, I spent a pleasant two hours on the phone with Dell, only fifteen of those minutes with a gentleman who kept calling me 'Mum,' who was extraordinarily impressed that I hadn't threatened to climb through the phone and rip his head off. So they're sending me a new harddrive and after scouring listservs and forums, realized that I might be able to rescue Anne Edwardes and other things. For now, she is doubling as the Lady of Shalott – behind some faulty electronic circuitry, plastic casing and a polyethelene bag.

Thankfully my older laptop – a Latitude 110L that had been taking up space in my dresser – had been completely reformatted after an unfortunate and lingering malady was able to serve in my newer computer's stead. Although the Latitude doesn't have a DVD drive and weighs at least four-hundred pounds. And didn't have a LAN driver or updates that took two days to complete. But with the aid of Lena, I was able to get that taken care of. I get a big golden star for solving my own networking problems almost completely on my own – although I may have ripped out some hair in the process.

Because I can't stop thinking about Arsar and apparently have completely lost the ability to write in longhand, I have started putting thoughts and thoughts and more thoughts down in bytes. That I am backing up in at least four places. Four places not on this computer.

I also started re-reading the Harry Potter series, although I'm currently obsessed with Kristin Cashore's Graceling. I want Kristin Cashore to write me 2,000 pages of just Po and Katsa together beating up people and living and doing things that they would do – there doesn't even have to be a plot, just lots of pages of the characters doing normal life things. Since I am in love with Po (of Graceling), I would give anything to be able to write a character that I actually lost myself to in reading it. When I write things, I have a hard time dropping into the prose without having to fix it or just seeing words and sentences. I think it's because I already know what is going to happen and I love to be completely surprised (although, understandably, in good ways rather than bad) when reading a story. Now if only Patrick Rothfuss would finish the sequel to The Name of the Wind. I also love Kvothe – and I am dying, literally dying to know more about Kvothe's life before becoming an “evil” magician.

That and getting my hands on a physical copy of Piers Anthony's On a Pale Horse without having to buy it. Simple things, really. But important to me.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

[New Music] The Republic Tigers & The Stereotypes & Rocky Votolato

Recuperating from NaNoWriMo (and having actually written 5K more words on a project I was on the fence about completing, *oh well*) and listening to lots of Pandora.

Because I'm inundated with new music all the time, I thought I would throw up three of my latest finds so I don't forget about them (and hope to get an iTunes gift card for Xmas although I don't deserve one).

Firstly, Toto-incarnate: The Republic Tigers. Like the Kooks, I'm not keen on all of their stuff, but I was listening to Buildings and Mountains and got this whole Toto Africa vibe from them. As Toto's Africa is my absolute favorite song in the history of songs, they didn't need to do much else to win me over. Listen for yourself:

And Toto:

Next is San Diego's The Stereotypes. Particularly the amazing, amazing song All My Life. I can't find it on YouTube, but their MySpace has the song. Apparently, they are singlehandedly fronting all the music for TV - if their page is to be believed. Ironically, however, when seeking it out, I found a song I used to listen to in Japan (Japanese MTV was a crazy and awesome thing - particularly as it was filtered via Australia to my ADSL box at the time):

And lastly Rocky Votolato - who I was pretty sure was going to end up being from New York with a surname like Votolato. Instead, a Seattle institute of sorts. A very nice voice. And apparently every song I end up liking on Pandora is his.

For example:

This is probably the most fragmented blog entry ever, but I'm a little typing-ed out. I promise to do better at an undefined point in the future.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

[NaNoWriMo] Day #27 (as written on Day #28)

50,716. I have officially put in my 50K words for the month of November - which, like sands through an hourglass, has almost completely evaporated...

As for the story itself, it's nowhere near finished. Captain Asing came back (I love Captain Asing) and Robin still doesn't have a personality. I figured out how to weave Harry deeper into the plot, so he's not just an amazingly hilarious interlude and Anne finally has some discernible flaws which please me greatly. I still have no idea about the sex-changed Achilles-Lucy, although since I've been secretly watching Farscape and think Claudia Black is gorgeous - Lucy will probably have her look. Madeline (who I think will have to be the more period Magdalen) is still locked up in Chrysanthemum House - although I've been leaning towards a secret marriage so the kids aren't actually illegitimate - just Papists, since the Company frowned on good Anglican employees marrying Catholics.

So if nothing else, I have a little over 50,000 words of a story that didn't really exist until November 1, a better understanding of my characters and working knowledge of 1820-30 Macao compliments of Harriett Low's Lights and Shadows of a Macao Life and my fevered imagination. I am also seriously creatively tapped out. Thankfully I have December to recover.

Excerpt from Day #27:

Despite Mrs. Healey’s belief that their attendance at Mrs. Phineas’ musicale would go mostly unnoticed save by the usual sober and Macao-anchored female set owning to it being trading Season in Macao, such was not the case.

It was becoming clear to Anne that nothing short of marriage to a suitable man would stave off the hordes of beaux who came out of the woodwork – in the case of Mrs. Phineas’ soiree, teak. Apparently the “small gathering” it had been touted as had swollen by request to something resembling a boxing match to the accompaniment of Mrs. Phineas-Hall’s selections from Mozart’s Piano Sonata. There weren’t enough chairs for all the guests and the throng of standing men who decorated the walls gave Anne a strong sense of claustrophobia that was not a product of her imagination. She was, after all, the only single woman in the room – Miss Howe having succumbed to a mysterious ailment that necessitated her inattendance.

“Don’t leave my line of sight, Anne. Not for a second,” Mr. Healey whispered after they’d been delivered by box and divested of their coats. “I don’t know what Mrs. Healey was thinking accepting an invitation to such a gathering. I thought this was a hen party – but there are far too many wolves in this hen house for my liking.”

“I am the only one wearing pink feathers,” Anne whispered back helpfully, Mr. Healey’s eyes drawn up to the curling tendrils of obviously dyed pink feathers Cassandra had tangled in Anne’s blond top knot. “Mrs. Healey assures me that I am – and I quote – just the thing. Of course, that is dependent on staying away from an open flame at all times.”

“Outside of Phoenicopterus, which I cannot believe available from Mackie’s, I don’t believe I have ever seen a bird with just such plumage as those.”

“Mr. Healey, your studies are remiss,” Anne chided as she came into the drawing room on his arm – Mrs. Healey on his other, pretending not to hear them. “It is obviously a very common specimen of the Vanitus d’Femme.”

“So it appears,” Mr. Healey returned as drolly as possible. “Not unlike the reason for this evening.” With an adroitness that most people overlooked in Mr. Healey, he managed to sandwich Anne between himself and the wall. This despite the handful of bucks who had attempted to wend their way through the tangle of chairs – borrowed or otherwise – so that they might claim Anne’s free hand. Grateful for the short reprieve, she relaxed enough to catch the stilted formalism of the evening’s performance. The only time Anne had enjoyed a musical evening had been an amateur opera where the women were all sung by men. Charles as an incredibly unconvincing Countess Almaviva had been the highlight of the year.

At intermission, however, Anne and Mr. Healey’s carefully laid plans went somewhat awry, culminating in Anne being waylaid by the particularly aggressive Mr. Greenwood of the American outfit Russell and Company. His particular brand of waylaying had much to do with the voluminous red velvet curtains and the exterior veranda. “Lady Anne,” the address was quite jarring, Anne blinking as she realized the information of her father’s posthumous raising to the Earldom was apparently common knowledge. “May I say that despite the wherefores of your ensemble, you are particularly handsome this evening.”

“Naturally, you may say what you wish,” Anne offered, noting that despite his machinations, they were not in fact alone on the veranda. An inevitable result of the enormous gathering. “Although one should take care in suggesting, however unthinkingly, that bereavement is a look to be aspired to owning to its cost.” Anne offered her sweetest look – something she had to study in front of the mirror as her frown was more native. There really wasn’t anything inherently wrong with Mr. Greenwood. He was considered handsome by Macao Society, always impeccably if severely dressed and the master of his own home, which was to say he was sufficiently in possession of capital to support a wife. But there was something about him that made her wonder whether he was considering dominion over not only Anne Edwardes but also her beau-companion, Cassandra. He would certainly not be the first to consider it.

“I apologize if such was your understanding,” he offered quickly, not at all turned off by her cool tones, unfortunately. “It is just that many, including myself, have wondered after your welfare since the untimely passing of your father.”

“That would explain the punctual attendance of your card without invitation,” Anne agitatedly tapped her fan – an ivory and silk confection that she had used to great effect in the music room – against her lower lip. She was at once sincerely grateful and equally regretful about the application of colored papers to her cheeks and mouth. While it gave her a liveliness that was not native to her mien, it also called to advantage the deep bow her of her lips which then called to Mr. Greenwood’s eyes. All at once Anne realized that tapping her fan at her mouth was an ill-advised action. But it was too late to retract it without calling further notice to it.

“One always hopes,” Mr. Greenwood responded simply, what exactly he hoped for laced in his tone and stance and the dark look he was giving her in the half-light of the veranda.

“In the absence of enthusiasm, one does what one must of course.”

“If the only reason is a lack of enthusiasm, Lady Anne…” Mr. Greenwood’s voice trailed off rather alarmingly. Anne, despite appearances, was no green girl when it came to the attentions of a man – and a man with that look was certainly just moments away from attempting a kiss. She had been kissed more often than Mr. Greenwood or his ilk would supposed and she was wondering how she would extricate herself from the scene without tearing her skirts – owning to the corner Mr. Greenwood had intentionally backed her into – when he kissed her.

On the whole, it was a remarkably unremarkable kiss as kisses go. Anne stood as still as stone, casually waiting for it to end, making no move on her part to signify collusion in the event itself. Stillness was a time honored acknowledgment of disinterest – or at least it had always been before. Mr. Greenwood, however, appeared to be quite enflamed by her less than sporting demeanor, clasping her face in his two hands (rather roughly, actually) and whispering against her mouth, “Kiss me back, dammit.” Having never been sworn at before – except once by Cassandra who had referred to her as a jade before Anne suggested that it wasn’t applicable as she wasn’t yet married – Anne was somewhat at a loss. While her instinct was to give Mr. Greenwood the what-for, that would require the opening of her mouth, which in the circumstance did not appear to be the best of all possible options.

Thankfully, the crisp scent of sandalwood – and a casual arpeggio in the music room calling to the guests – signaled her timely salvation. With a carefully enunciated Pardon, her savior easily tore Greenwood away from her by means of his circumspect cravat. There was an audible sound of rending fabric – thankfully none of it belonging to Anne herself – before she was facing a very nonchalant Captain Asing. Anne bestowed upon him one of her best smiles, this one very real, and took his offered arm. “As always, it is a pleasure,” she said rather louder than directly necessary, before whispering, “Your timing is impeccable, Captain Asing.”

“A good thing, too, Miss Edwardes,” Anne was inordinately pleased that Captain Asing – who was the best placed to know her elevation of status – was either unaware or disinterested. “As your technique for dispersing unwanted bussing seems to require the involvement of a second gentleman. A technique, I must admit, that does have significant flaws in execution.”

“Most gentlemen would have realized I was not an active participant,” Anne was quite sure Captain Asing actually swore under his breath – although she didn’t catch the word.

“Well, most gentlemen are idiots, which I can personally vouch for. If you don’t mind my suggesting,” Anne shook her head so that he could continue, “it would probably be advantageous for you to learn how to defend yourself in the singular. Owning to the occasional lack of a suitable second in a pinch.”

“Do you mean actual fisticuffs?” Anne’s voice was bright with excitement. She had read about just such a thing – although had never witnessed anything more than the occasional dirty scuffle in the streets outside Chrysanthemum House.

“Not… exactly,” Asing responded, bringing her into the music room – and steering towards a very grateful Mr. Healey who was looking, on the whole, rather agitated. “But despite the handicap of your sex, Miss Edwardes, gentlemen do have their Achilles heels.”

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

[NaNoWriMo] Day #25 (also, Thanksgiving Eve)

46,395. And I just wrote what I think is the best of all of it, culminating in the small, but personal verse one character wrote for another just before she marries the man she's been betrothed to since the age of seven:

No matter my wedded hoste,
I crave Gaverick's kisses the moste.

Mr. Torquay was sort of nebulous before this. I knew a few things about him. That he was murdered at 43 - although no one noticed due to the subterfuge of his wife and half-brother. That he had been having a long standing affair with Robin's (the main male character) aunt, the Lady Caroline (who apparently I had created as Catherine, but much preferred the sound of "Caro."). And that it wasn't until Anne (my main female character) stumbled upon his bones would he find justice.

So it took me 46,000 words to finally - finally - get to the murder part. But there were suddenly so many things I was finding out about Mr. Torquay (Gaverick). That he was the father of Lady Caroline's youngest son, that he was a fantastic storyteller, that he was essentially a kind man if somewhat emotionally distant from his wife like most of the people of his time. Most of all, I discovered that his most redeeming trait is his love for Lady Caroline. It was the only thing that saved him after the depredations of University and at heart the reason he died.

But how the hell - as I've been writing this thing in third person - was I going to get all this wealth of information across? I mean, until I started writing it (his voice is AWESOME, btw - very 18th century exposition), I didn't even care about Mr. Torquay except as a plot device that I couldn't quite fit into the narrative I was slowly cobbling together. But I want people (ok, probably no one is going to read this but me) to care about Mr. Torquay and want justice to be found for his sake.

So I stole the idea from ABC's The Forgotten of introducing the Jane/John Doe's voice into the story as the protagonists started to learn about them - explaining more fully what the hell was going on while all the protagonists had were pieces of someone's life without the benefit of extrapolation. I'm probably going to have to cut it down lots since Mr. Torquay loves to tell stories - even, I guess, from the grave. Although I'm not sure if he's talking from beyond or it's via journals/letters. But whatever I started last night at 3am (seriously woke up thinking about this), its really intense. I'd post some of it - but well, it's really - really - not for anything less than mature audiences and people who answer to the name "Mom."

So on this Thanksgiving Eve, I am quite pleased with myself. I have just over 3000 words to get done by next Monday and got invited today to Thanksgiving with one of my favorite people in the world ;) Thankfully, the florist around the corner is open tomorrow (I called). And I love my Mom and miss my Dad something fierce. But as I look back on the differences of this year from last - I am a thousand times happier even if I'm becoming a culinary expert with ramen varieties. Now if I can just buck the insomnia thing...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

[New Music] & [NaNoWriMo] Day #22

I'm taking a moment here - at 38,165 - to watch an episode of Murder She Wrote, ponder proto-Colt percussive flintlocks (my most valued possession is a book with pictures of how they work!) and listen to new music.

For some reason, my Imeem has been taken over by constipated sparkly vampires. I will take this moment to point out that while I have been occasionally guilty of writing Twilight FanFix, I cannot bear the movies. Strangely, I can overlook Emma Watson's stiff and overacted turn at Hermione Granger (HP 5 was particularly bad) - but I can't handle the steroid-softness of Taylor Lautner's voice as Jacob Black or fathom how a pack of hideous albinos aren't caught out in High School. I have patchy reminisces of high school and although I don't remember sparkling on purpose, I know it was never an institution of understanding. Which is to say, I found new music today purely on accident (although I suddenly realized that Lena is going to think I was looking for New Moon stuff on purpose! *laughs*)

Now I can add Sea Wolf to my Sufjan Stevens writing music. Although I've been listening to lots and lots of Romantic Era classical music lately, 'cause lyrics keep ending up in my narrative if I listen to anything with vox.

Anyway, back to writing. I want to clear 40K before I pass out tonight. Although I have a horrible feeling that even 50K of text isn't going to be enough to actually find some sort of suitable denouement of events. Particularly as I suddenly have five hot guys in the story and a hero who has probably said four words in 38,000 words (which has never happened before). I suck at this novel writing thing. But I'm having fun regardless - which I guess is the main idea.

Friday, November 20, 2009

[NaNoWriMo] Day #20

36,118. I keep on chugging along. I only have 500 words to write to finish my Sunday totals this week - so I can afford to game tomorrow. Yeah!

I finally started writing the scene where Anne and Jem are in the Moors and they are forced to spend the night under a makeshift tent from Anne's skirts (not quite a generous as the following decades would be) fending themselves from a pack of feral bear-baiting dogs with only a single bullet and a small fire. I felt really bad about breaking Jem's hip - owning to the lack of advances in medicine during the period, but it was necessary. Undoubtedly, he probably would have crawled home anyway, so Anne will have to dose him with the laudanum she's been carrying in her reticule since refreshing her sister's batch. Poor kid.

Otherwise, today was a great day. Lots of writing. Bubble tea with Michelle, water tortures with KaiBot3000 (who is obsessed with Zombie Fluxx) and two really interesting encounters with total strangers. I just wish KaiBot3000 would stop licking the internet cable... Well, you can't win everything.

What have I been listening to today?


Although I had no idea the still image for this clip was so orgasmic looking. If I wasn't so amused, I would be horrified ;)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

[New Music] Shirley Collins & Davy Graham

I'm not sure what twisted by-way landed me on Shirley Collins & Davy Graham's version of Hares on the Mountain from Folk Roots, New Routes (1964), but I'm fairly certain that the last hundred plays clocked on this song have been due to me alone.

The lyrics make me laugh - as I'm quite certain the "Sally" in question quite thwarted the male in the song:

Oh Sally, my dear, it's you I'd be kissing,
Oh Sally, my dear, it's you I'd be kissing.
She smiled and replied, you don't know what you're missing.

Oh Sally, my dear, I wish I could wed you,
Oh Sally, my dear, I wish I could bed you.
She smiled and replied, then you'd say I'd misled you.

If all you young men were hares on the mountain,
If all you young men were hares on the mountain,
How many young girls would take guns and go hunting?

If the young men could sing like blackbirds and thrushes,
If the young men could sing like blackbirds and thrushes,
How many young girls would go beating the bushes?

If all you young men were fish in the water,
If all you young men were fish in the water,
How many young girls would undress and dive after?

But the young men are given to frisking and fooling,
Oh, the young men are given to frisking and fooling,
So I'll leave them alone and attend to my schooling

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

[NaNoWriMo] Day #18

30,453. Had a writing jag of nearly 3,000 words in the past two hours - yes! Introducing Harry Breadon to the brew - although I had no intention of doing any such thing three hours ago. Apparently, the plot has begun to morph slightly - now necessitating Breadon and Anne's older brother, Charles, to show up. And causing Anne's brother Achilles to become a sister. Which is good, since I had no idea what to do with him. I will have to do some heavy revising in January.

I greatly enjoyed the verbal wrangling between Harry and his father, Sir Nigel. I even managed to make my Mom laugh over the phone as I read a few lines to her ;) Major victory there. This more than makes up for the last couple of days whereby I discovered I could, indeed, pull blood from a stone.

I also finished Heyer's Black Sheep. Miles Calverleigh is AMAZING. I might have stolen some of his irreverence for Harry - although nothing more. I wanted to get more Heyer from eNYPL, but apparently they only have the one book available - with a waiting list of 100s for the paper copies. *sigh*

[NaNoWriMo] Day #17

27,563 as of tonight. I am 1200 words up on tomorrow night. Wrote most of tonight's installment via longhand at the Laundromat. There are exceedingly creepy people at the Laundromat on Monday nights.

I also started reading Georgette Heyer's Black Sheep. Miles Calverleigh is absolutely hilarious. Particularly when the heroine, Abigail Wendover, accosts him (believing he is someone else) and he bemusedly goes along with her - all the while thinking she might be quite mad.

I continue to maintain it is patently ridiculous that I am writing a Regency (well, Late-Georgian, Early Victorian) novel when I hate Jane Austen. But it was the costumes that lured me in. The nipped belted waists and short skirts. The late 1830s sleeve is also very dramatic - after the leg o'mutton of the late 20s and early 30s.

Since my hold on English composition is quite tenuous at the moment, here is an excerpt from tonight:


“What do you keep looking at out my window?” Cassandra asked, deep in the feather mattress of the room she’d taken near Anne’s. It was just half eleven – close to a luncheon she had no desire to partake of – and her third visitor of the day was decidedly not paying attention to her.

The heavy curtains – parted to reveal the grayish light that constituted sunlight in the Western world – twitched as Anne’s guilty hand pulled back from them. It was apparent that she had thought Cassandra too far gone in her bottle to notice her. Cassandra humpfed, the movement of her head teasing out a feather fluff that danced around her head before drifting off to settle in the heavy curtains – also parted – that thronged the bed. She was clearly waiting for a response. One that seemed to take an inordinate amount of time in coming, which to Cassandra signified evasiveness. And by default that there was something to evade.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Anne said somewhere near the window – trying not to sound found out. “It’s not like watching you groan is terribly exciting fare.” Cassandra could have arched a brow in touché – if doing so didn’t require moving. She didn’t at all think she could move.

“I can purge in the bowl again if you’d like. All you have to do is sit on the bed.” The bed that was suspended on some sort of rope contraption and swung like a sea berth everytime she breathed. Not for the first time, Cassandra wished she’d been the Sebastian of the pair.

“I’m sorry.” Anne offered, noticeably more contrite than a moment ago. “I just seem to be poor sickbed company today.” Cassandra moved her head – slightly, tentatively – to allow herself to actually look at her half-sister and companion. There was something in her voice that Cassandra had never quite heard before. Something that verged on heartsickness. She was on intimate terms with the tone herself, owning to the sensation that still trembled on her heart, echoed in her eyes, whenever she thought of Lucimar, the mother she hadn’t quite mourned for yet.

In the gray light – generously, Cassandra could have termed it silver or watery blue – Anne’s hair had been picked through in whites and blondes. Somehow, she had managed to stand in a ribbon of light without being aware of the way it turned her skin lucent. If she didn’t know better – and Cassandra had had years to know better – she would have accused Anne of purposefully finding the only patch of sunlight in the room. But Anne was no more aware of herself than she was of Cassandra’s assessing look. She never felt the weight of eyes the way that Cassandra did – self-contained in a way that was strange and almost artless. As if standing in a puddle of sunshine rife with swimming dustmotes was the work of all flowers that sought out the sun. Even the hot house variety like the daughter of Ralph Edwardes. Cassandra decided to capture the moment in her head – the way Anne seemed to belong in just such a light, which revealed Cassandra’s skin as interloper. Of course then she’d have to label it Inattentive. “As I am quite sure I’ll not be able to eat anything that Nell is going to bring in at lunchtime, why don’t you do something more productive than listening to me groan?”

“But I’m taking a study of your groans,” Anne quipped, more focused on Cassandra and less involved on whatever was going on outside the window. Not much, by Cassandra’s unfortunately jaded eye. A lot of overgrown grasses, rocks and gray sky. And sometimes a horse. Cassandra hated horses.

“That sounds…lovely.” Cassandra said, turning ‘lovely’ into ‘wretched,’ her breath catching as the two sips of tea she’d bothered with earlier threatened to reintroduce themselves. “You know what I think?” Anne didn’t bother to answer as she knew Cassandra would continue on regardless. They were equally and in turns ill-mannered, but only in the privacy of their rooms. “I think you should go do some area studies for me.”

“Oh?” Anne said, slightly distracted as Cassandra was quite sure now that Bown must be running the horses outside.

“Yes. You should, in my esteemed estimation, get on the mare they borrowed from that Lodge and ride over there to properly thank them.” Cassandra had a leading way of talking that cued Anne into the plots brewing in her head. There was always a plot. “Oh and you can find me something out there to sketch. Like a very large rock or something.”

“I cannot comprehend that this is all you intend me to do. This is sounding positively all above board.” Cassandra had a tendre for schemes almost as strong as her desire to meet the man who had made Anne aware – if only for a moment.

“While you’re there, you will have to make your thanks to Permancie of course.”

“Of course.”

“And then ask after any extraordinarily well-formed gentlemen in his knowledge who might have visited Roseward summers ago.”

“So let me clarify this proposal,” Anne held up a hand to stop Cassandra from further clarification of her own. “I am to ride over to Roseward Lodge in my outdated tweed – and dusty to boot from grousing around after large rocks you wish to draw. Introduce myself to a Baron I met only once and ask him, ‘Do you happen to know of any extraordinarily well-formed gentlemen with a penchant for libraries?’” She had added an extra flourish to the word extraordinarily, imparting in sound the ridiculousness of the entire scenario.

Cassandra scowled. “If you say it like that of course it’s going to sound a little ridiculous.” But she had moved too much, the bed giving an ominous sway, and her face lost all of its color completely.

“That is probably on account of it being ridiculous,” Anne raised the porcelain basin near Cassandra’s bed, looking away in politeness as Cassandra emptied her stomach. When she was finished, Anne drew a scented cloth over her mouth and forehead. “But since my presence has riled you up entirely too much for your health – I will leave you in the capable hands of Nell,” who had appeared with the hot cloth as if out of the woodwork at the first sound of Cassandra’s distress. “And I will enjoin myself to locate the best outcropping of rock to be found in the area. Although the ruins may be more picturesque.” Cassandra scowled. “In the direction of Roseward Lodge.” Cassandra offered a weak smile.

“Expect me back before dinner however. I am not asking anyone after extraordinarily handsome men,” and with that promise, Anne was off.

“If you ask me,” Nell offered, ringing out the hot cloth and settling Cassandra in tighter in the bed, “I would say the most ‘andsome man in the area is Permancie ‘isself.”

“Is that so?” Cassandra asked, scheming. “His Christian name wouldn’t happen to be Robin or some derivative, would it?”

Monday, November 16, 2009

[NaNoWriMo] Day #16

26,388 words. I'm almost better than the postal service these days: writing through vomit, horrific cat maulings and three computer crashes (caused by Firefox, which was strange).

I think in the past few days I have put some of the worst prose known to man - of Bulwer-Lytton status - to the page. Although, despite this, I have decided to sally forth (and I really want to read Pelham). It is, after all, only a first draft. And I want to actually finish it - even if after some 56 pages of single line text I have only had the main female and male protagonists together ONE TIME and haven't gotten to the main mystery facet of the tale yet!

I liken it to the Stephen King phenomena. Whereby I pad my tale with lots of secondary characters who are interesting (to me) but not necessary absolutely pertinent to the story. Like Jeremy "Jem" Bown - although he's going to break his leg soon and instigate the "sashiburi" moment between my main PCs. Or Captain Asing, who is going to marry (in the very distant future) my main PCs youngest sister. Or Mr. Archibald Healey, Anatomist with the Royal Society, who is going to discover who the skeleton in the ground actually is.

I have two more weeks of this madness and I am starting to get a little tired. Mostly because I also spent most of the weekend reading Eloisa James novels and realizing that I actually need to put my protagonists together - sometimes in the biblical sense - if I'm actually writing more than a costume drama. I was up until 3am last night writing about Jem Bown and reading The Taming of the Duke because I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN. I want to write characters like that!

So I won't bore anyone with prose tonight. But I am going to sleep.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

[NaNoWriMo] Day #12

20,601 words. And a new job starting December 1, 2009. How sweet is that?

Listened to Jeff Buckley tunes all day wondering what "intensely personal" meant in terms of the relationship between Buckley and the Cocteau Twins' Elizabeth Fraser. This is probably why I need a serious hobby. Although I posted it on Facebook, here is one of my favorite Buckley tunes:

All flowers in time bend towards the sun. I know you say that there's no one for you. But here is one. Here is one.

Here is an excerpt - for Lena who specifically asked me if she could read the draft after I finished it. Robin really does get into some serious hijincks. I think it stems from being entirely too good looking and not nearly intelligent enough to compensate

* * *

“You’ve had a near-miss, Robin,” Harcourt had offered, by way of encouragement. “Surely you cannot think to marry a woman more phantom than flesh?”

“But that is the thing of it. It was her very flesh that I recall best. Where could she have gone? Who could she be that an entire household cannot recall her name?”

“Perhaps she was overlooked,” Harcourt had suggested – noticing that St. Maur had little to offer owning to the mass of platitudes he had cultivated and used in the years following the commencement of Robin’s odyssey. “A maid hired from the village to service Roseward during the party? I have seen accounts of such happenings and there are many new faces about when the Lord is in house.”

“She was not a servant. Her very demeanor gave her away as a woman of noble birth.”

“Then perhaps she was too young for an account. A girl just out of the schoolroom would possibly make no serious mark at a gathering the size of Permancie’s annual house party if there were enough debutantes about.”

“Thomas and Mrs. Goss did mention that a …” Robin drew a hand to the bridge of his nose as if massaging out the information, “a Miss Edwardes had also been in attendance. She was described as being quite fair-haired, although quite plain to the eye and no more than sixteen.”

“What do they mean by quite plain?” St. Maur asked. “Blond hair alone would have gone a long way to making Miss Edwardes more passable than not. The Edwardes are associated with Breadon, are they not? I remember hearing from Jackson that Sir William had made his farewells before I could inquire personally as to his health. He was once a noted scholar of Aquinas. Before he inherited the Tor and its title.”

“If she’d not yet made her come-out, quite plain could have referred to her mode of dress. I know that the younger set are somewhat more relaxed in their dress, not yet sacrificing to the altar of fashion as their elders.”

“I don’t suppose Breadon even leaves Darlington these days?”

“No. I’ve heard tell he hasn’t left Devon nigh on twenty years or more. If he’s been to the Capitol, it hasn’t been since the War.”

“What about Edwardes? Isn’t that the surname for Dowglass?” Robin asked suddenly, as his mind caught on seemingly unrelated information.

“Edwardes with an “e,” yes. I would have to roust out my Debrett’s to tell you anything further about them. Although I think – and you cannot hold me accountable for this – they have some ties to British Jamaica.”

“That would account for the lack of account. If, for instance, the girl was currently ex patria.”

“I think you can stop throwing in Latin, Seymour. We’re not nearly drunk enough to be over-awed by your schoolboy retention.”

“Would you be more impressed with my Brandy retention?” St. Maur signaled for the Club’s man, who filled their drinks. “And your Debrett’s, too, if you can find it.”

“Dowglass,” Robin rolled the name on his tongue. “I’m not acquainted. Where is their seat?”

“I will need far more than a sifter of brandy to pull that knowledge whole cloth if I don’t even know the current Earl,” St. Maur complained.

“No, the County.”

“Somewhere in the North, I should think. Dowglass is almost Celtic, no?”

Robin peered through the waning throng at Brooks through the copper lens of his half-filled tumbler of brandy. “Maybe Scottish?”

“As good a guess as any, I suppose.”

Robin stood suddenly, depositing the tumbler on the table in front of Harcourt and with a crooked smile and a false salute, cut through the crowd with all the native grace he possessed. It was considerable. Harcourt and St. Maur, equally stunned by his abrupt turn about, watched him tack through the room – passing a table of younger members and move directly towards a man of middle years reading a newspaper. His victim – Ramsay, if St. Maur wasn’t mistaken – seemed to feel the approach of so intent a stalker, looking up from his newssheet just before Robin reached him.

“Ramsay.” Robin addressed the man at the same time as St. Maur announced the man to Harcourt across the room.

“Trebick. To what do I owe this unique honor?” Ramsay was piqued, folding up the paper and dropping it on his lap.


“I assume you are referring to the Earls of?”

“You are familiar with them?”

Ramsay extended a well-worn hand, making a see-sawing movement that was interpreted as only marginally. “I was familiar with the late Earl. I have not made the acquaintance of the latest of his line though we are of an age – although I do know he has interests in Jamaica.”

“So I’ve heard. Where is their seat?”

“Thornwhat.” Ramsay laughed at Robin’s puzzlement. “Annandale,” he clarified, “It is the County northwest of Cumberland. Is there any particular reason you saw fit to obtain this information?”

“I was recently made known of a connection between Breadon and Dowglass.”

“Ah,” Ramsay said, grasping Robin’s meaning. “Breadon being a connection to Permancie, of course. You would be speaking of the Edwardes, then. With an “e.” Ralph, the old Earl’s youngest, is quite high up in the Company. A very good fellow. I made his acquaintance – and his son, Charles’ – between sessions about, oh… three years ago now? Charles was just up for Oxford.”


“Actually, no. I remember he explicitly said he was in China. Are you alright, Trebick?” Ramsay asked, reacting to Robin’s sudden loss of color.

“Actually… yes,” Robin offered, not entirely convincingly. “You have been most helpful.”

“As you will,” Ramsay returned to his paper as Robin made his leave.

Returning to his table, both St. Maur and Harcourt were digging through the Debrett’s the waiter had brought over. “They’re a cadet line of Buccleuch and Queensbury. That’s quite impressive.”

“I would amend that to very cadet if they’re associated with the Company,” Harcourt added dryly. “Did you know that—“

“Never mind all that. Who’s up for schoolyard reminisces?”

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

[NaNoWriMo] Day #11

18,401 for today's total. Still on schedule, but running a very lean word overage.

I blame 21 Jump Street. I remember it fondly from what apparently were re-runs post 1990. In the first episode(s) alone, I have grave misgivings about the American education system circa 1987. Particularly as one of the students was driving to school in a never-ending procession of drug-earned vehicles and was never under investigation by the cops. That might just be sloppy writing.

I have a second interview in NJ tomorrow morning and a mountain of laundry to clean tomorrow night. Only 6,664 words to write to free up for gaming this weekend. I already canceled for Saturday - but I have the last Gotham Gaming Guild (GGG) on Friday night and a RISUS game I put back three weeks on Sunday. I have to decide by tomorrow whether I can do it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

[NaNoWriMo] Day #10

17,115 words. 35 pages of prose. I am up by 500 words or so for the week already, which is a relief. I am a little typed out owning to a day where I clocked a million miles on foot, a doctor's appointment, food shopping, cat puke clean-up and cataloging, so I will offer up a little of today's writing:

For long moments, Robin laid on the deep couch of Roseward Lodge’s library, as intimate with every fiber of horsehair padding it as he was wont to be at a quarter past five in the morning.

The sun had not yet risen - it was, after all, a most unfashionable hour for anything – and the sound of the second floor maid cleaning the grate was the first thing to rouse him from half wakefulness. At the moment, she was unaware of the naked nobleman on the yellow silk monstrosity that had ended up at Roseward as a last resort. But it would only be a matter of time before she noticed the path of last night’s destruction: the sparkle of broken glass, the ink that had probably permanently stained the Turkish rug and the downy path of scattered parchment that had given Robin a paper cut he was only now aware of, rubbing his thumb against the growth at his jaw.

He didn’t have to look to know he had been abandoned by the negligible – but warm – weight of his Lady Unknown. The well of possessiveness that the ironic name stirred in him was both shocking and powerful. Last night, one of Permancie’s guests – a gently bred woman of noble birth suitable to the company of the Baron Permancie – had revealed herself to be a houri of the first water. Unabashed by her nudity, curious under his tutelage – for that was what it seemed to be for Robin – merely the beginning of her prospective education under his wing. Although he’d had no intention whatsoever of taking a wife, if Fate saw fit to throw before him a fallen angel, who was he to deny it’s dictates? Surely he would be counted lucky to have found an innocent with all the tricks of a Magdalen.

Robin’s slow smile facing the beamed ceiling had all the qualities of a cat with a canary. Could he have a ring on her finger by this evening? Her father had to be in attendance. He was, after all, the heir to Permancie: handsome and well-connected and £8000 per annum from his mother’s trust. He could have his valet cut a suitable bit of his hair for a ring – with any of the female servants to plait it into a round.

With his mind otherwise involved, Robin had quite forgotten the predicament of his brazen nudity in the Library – a fact brought home to him the moment the first floor maid saw him and shrieked her lungs out. Tearing up and searching for his discarded shirt – somehow finding its way beneath the desk – he threw it over his shoulders while the girl ran off for aid. What succor she thought to find, Robin was quite unsure of. The moment Thomas saw him, entering the room like an angry bull, his anger fled. “Master Robin. Rosie did say that one of Permancie’s gentleman had lain in wait for her, sir.” Thomas blushed as he qualified, “Unclothed.”

“Well, no need to call a search – I was the gentleman so adequately described. Although you can assure Rosie?” Thomas nodded as Robin tried the name, “that I had no designs on her nor did I intend to startle her. I simply lost account of the time.” Thomas undoubtedly took in the shattered tumblers, the contents of the desk now papering the rug, but said nothing.

“Very good, sir.”

“And Thomas?” Robin started, looking about for his pants.

“Yes, sir?”

“I would be ever so grateful if my father did not hear of this unfortunate incident. I so rarely come to the Lodge that I would hate to have my invitation rescinded until the time I inherit it.”

“Absolutely, sir.”

“And please let Rosie know I will be vacating the premises in a quarter hour. She can make free to sort the place therein.”

“Yes, sir.”

As soon as Thomas made his leave, understanding that he had been dismissed by Trebick, Robin darted towards his pants and the small object that had rolled off his body when he’d stood so suddenly. The pants were a lost cause. There was no way he would be able to get into them without the assistance of his valet. Not for the first time, Robin had wondered at the inconvenience of his own vanities. The object on the other hand was of keen interest. A small ring of milk white jade ran through with a vein of gold. It was far too slender for his hands, even his pinkie finger proved too wide to accommodate the jewelry. He could remember the exotic coolness of the stone on her right hand as her palm had touched his sex, quivering in sympathy with the memory.

Forsaking his pants – his shirt ran to mid thigh, sufficient to wade through the sleeping hallways before finding his own chamber if he was fleet of foot – he collected every stitch of clothing that he had so violently removed before quitting the Library. He had five hours to sleep, bathe and then fit himself for making the acquaintance of Lady Unknown – and then her father, who would undoubtedly be pleased with the match.

Monday, November 9, 2009

[NaNoWriMo] Day #9

I completely broke the law of NaNo and revised my first 2,808 words on Saturday night. I felt confident in my rules breaking in that I had preemptively written enough words to cover Saturday so I could game.

So technically, what I was doing wasn't NaNoing so much as an exercise in wasting time... yeah.

Completely revised the first haul - and after Sunday's 2-6pm typestravaganza am up to 13,960 words. I'm about 500 words up on what I should have on this time (a decline in buffer from the previous 1,500 or thereabouts) and am feeling pretty good about things. Despite a marathon RPG fest this weekend - Friday, Saturday, Sunday. I only have to write 9,364 to allow myself to game on Saturday. And 11,030 to game on Sunday. *sigh*

In other news, my right arm has started to develop far more in musculature than my left owning to the mouse flinging I have been performing for at least five hours everyday. Apparently, my aim is improving significantly as well. I can say with some conviction that I can nail a speeding cat in the head with a feather mouse with some amount of accuracy.

Back to writing....

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Taking a Break from NaNo

So I started watching ABC's refashioned V today - as soon as it was streaming on Hulu. I have some nebulous (as I was 6) but slightly fond memories of the 1984 version stemming from a particularly embarrassing incident featuring a sticker of Diana and my parent's front window. I'm fairly certain that that sticker was still on that window well into 1985.

30:14 minutes into it, I realize that humanity - at least the TV version of such - is really stupid. Have we learned nothing from a hundred years of speculative alien fiction? Hello! Does To Serve Man mean anything to anyone? War of the Worlds? Independence Day? A spaceship of supermodels come from another galaxy and you're not automatically suspicious?

In short -->

Aliens are evil. They want to eat or enslave humanity. They are not here to be our friends.

Otherwise, outside of Morris Chestnut, who might be the best actor in the series, V is just alright. I'm really getting tired of seeing FBI agents in skintight clothing and skinny jeans. Also, I question the female FBI agent's ability to turn against her partner so readily. She didn't even flinch in attacking him.

In closing, this word of warning:

Thursday, November 5, 2009

WTF Fort Hood?!?

As an addendum to my earlier post: what the fuck is going on at Fort Hood?

I am just disgusted. It's bad enough (in my estimation) that those poor families have to deal with the stress of deployment and wondering if their family members are going to die overseas without having to worry whether they're going to be killed on base!

Although now I am curious as to what aids a war-time army have historically received in alleviating psychological trauma, as I'm unfamiliar with whether the thrust of modern media on psychological ailments is a contemporary one or just now receiving mention.

I would say (and did tonight after talking to my Mom for nearly two uninterrupted hours) that I really wonder about psychological services in the military. From certain, unnamed, relations of mine, I really have doubts as to the quality. Seriously.

Hrm... this remind me that I really need to read Drew Gilpin Faust's The Republic of Suffering. But after NaNoWriMo. After.

[NaNoWriMo] Day #5

Alright. So somehow I have survived to Day #5.

At this point last year, I think I was vegging on the couch watching TV and thinking about how much of a loser I am.

I have attained 9, 503 words. In five days. And although I have to completely re-write the 2,808 words of completely shite I put down to bytes on Sunday and spontaneously changed the lead male's father's title, I'm still slightly ahead of schedule.

Tonight I finally started writing some 'better' stuff. Less boring. As I was discussing with Lena earlier today, I might be the only person to elucidate endlessly on the a-Peeling Reform Crisis*. I think I might be a little heavy handed with my 1830s proselytizing. I am slowly converting to the idea that subtle hints might be all that is necessary to give timeliness to a scene.

Am I the only one who wants to know what kind of toothpaste was used in newly industrialized England?

Here is an excerpt from today's mountain of chaos with the caveat that those stealing my prose will be met with a severe Georgian dressing and an attack cat down the pants:

“And how do you find this Author of Waverly?” For a moment, Anne had no idea how to answer. Was he familiar with the book or not? At her slow rejoinder, Robin laughed. “That well, eh?” His ejaculation was slurred with Devon and she realized that despite his clever façade of London airs he was local. “Yet such fervent devotions towards a volume you appear so apathetic about is almost heroic. Of a long sort.”

“On the contrary,” Anne had finally found her voice, “I find his prose to be quite readable.”

“Such high praise, indeed.” Anne cringed as he moved to open the book, realizing her game was just about up. “While others would bestow such gems as ‘romantic’ and ‘poignant.’ How big-headed the Author of Waverly would become to hear your acc –“ his sentence was cut off mid-sentence as the pamphlet she had secreted between pages 102 and 103 slipped from its mooring in his hands, tumbling unceremoniously to the floor of the library. “What is this?” Anne could answer that, for it was the tattoo of her heart as she realized she was caught.

“Goodness! How did that get in there?” The disassembling query would have been more convincing if her pale face had not suddenly flamed with guilty blood.

“With your ready wit, I would have thought you capable of greater subterfuge than that feeble attempt. You are a horrible liar.” For some moments, Robin looked at the somewhat innocuous pamphlet, still in its papers from the publisher. “I am to assume then that this is also yours?” He stared down at Anne waiting her response.

As she was already blushing, Anne simply nodded. She had quite probably been headed to Hell since the first time she had read the Song of Solomon. Fanny Hill and A Chinese Story were just tributaries on her downward spiral. To her horror, he peeled open the blue wrapper."

* And the only one to get that baaaad joke. Seriously.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

[NaNoWriMo] What am I listening to?

I started making a playlist for my story - not particularly of period specific music - after catching up on all the Spill podcasts this afternoon. I love 'Let's Do This' and 'A Couple of Cold Ones' the best - as the ladies of the 'League of Extremely Ordinary Gentleman' are incredibly shrill and give me a headache.

To give a hint of the impending plot, here's what I have so far:

Seth Lakeman's John Loman

Mostly for the lines: Willingly, I took his place. With my fair love. Willingly, I stole his face, soaked it in blood.

Sufjan Stevens' To Be Alone With You

For the lyrics: I'll never know the man who loved me.

Low vs. Diamond's I'll Be

For the lyrics:
My heart was pure
And I wanted more
So I wait for signs to feel
You offered me the chance to see what’s real
And I wanted all you had
So I’ll close my eyes and see things from the past

Sharon Van Etten's Same Dream

For the lyrics: Betcha don't remember how we met. That's okay, it hasn't happened yet. Although we had the same dream. Although we had the same dream.

Monday, November 2, 2009

[NaNoWriMo] Odds and Ends

Some excerpts from my fevered brain:

In an action so indicative of Anne after her return to Macao that her intimates would liken it to breathing, she brought a small, white fist to her torso just under the breast bone, holding it there a while before she could gather her wits about her. Beneath the layers of paramatta silk, crinoline, cotton sateen and linen the long links of a locket lay buried between the narrow valley of her breasts. Beneath the gold and glass lay a small likeness done in watercolor, sketched to the specifications of memory by Cassandra’s deft hands while Anne had critiqued and remarked on the progress. In the end, both girls had been satisfied with the disheveled man of remarkable beauty (which Cassandra thought greatly afflicted, but did not venture to say so aloud) that would spend his days between Anne’s skin and cotton shift. In her diary that evening, Anne had simply written: C. has caught the likeness of Robin’s physiognomy with such cleverness that I feel I will not ever lose the memories of the biblio. As per Shangyin: Never let your heart open with the spring flowers: One inch of love is an inch of ashes.

And tonight's:

Sir Gordon’s hospitality – save the addition of two prized deerhounds, Castor and Pollux, who had the run of the place – was both generous and unceremonious. Although everyone dressed for dinner, it was without the stiff formality Anne knew from Chrysanthemum House or London. Her white on white tambored muslin, though less full than that of the adult guests, was both appropriate and timely. Despite Breadon’s assertions to the draftiness of Roseward, the evening was quite warm as the evening storm necessitated closing the windows against the rain. To amuse themselves for the evening, Trebick had had a fire stoked and one of the gentleman guests – Anne thought he had been introduced as a Mr. Bere – had volunteered his services in the manufacture of jam tarts with iron forms native to the castle. She was sharing hers (somewhat unwillingly) with Pollux on the hopes that he was as resilient as his namesake, when Mr. Ramsay, a neighboring landowner, started in again on the tale of the Wish Hound.

[NaNoWriMo] Insanity? Obsession? Corsets?

Officially as of November 1, 2009, I am once again attempting NaNoWriMo. That would be National Novel Writing Month. The rather ambitious goal of which is to write 50,000 words - the length of a 170+ page novel - by the end of November.

Last year, I only made it to some nebulous area of 8-10K words and then burned out. I learned a valuable lesson: if you don't have an outline - or really, no plot even - you are not going to write a 50K novel in one month's time. The second lesson I learned was that Fantasy writing is very hard without some preemptive world building before the actual writing. In much the same way I have wondered a time or two how the use of magic in Dungeons and Dragons would impact human behavior, it is probably a good idea to have parameters.

So this time I have gone where I have only tentatively gone before: a sketchy outline that morphs daily (mostly I pull 8o% of my stories out of my ass while I'm writing it) and the boundary that I need so as not to go all over the place - and then overwhelm myself. The boundary this time is Britain and Portuguese/Chinese Macao of 1825-1831. A time period I enjoy very much and researched extensively while I was living in Japan - although the introduction of Google Books and my proximity to the NYPL make it much easier. As I enjoy the novels of Stephanie Laurens and Eloisa James, I thought I would try my hand at a somewhat gritty romance novel.

And by gritty, I mean somehow my main character, Anne Edwardes, has a half-sister who is half-Macanese (although I don't know if the nativized Portuguese who lived there referred to themselves as such at the time). Unlike her other half-siblings, Lucy has lost the genetic game of roulette and has the very (time-specific) unfavorable features of her distant Chinese antecedents. So she has to remain locked in the House - her only views of life beyond Chrysanthemum House the Spanish garden in the middle of the building and through a looking glass that Anne gives her. I find a lot of similarities to her plight and the Lady of Shallot - and have to work very hard to not become too interested in her story before writing out Anne's more generic one.

There's the whole issue of Anne's (non-practicing, but obviously) homosexual brother, Sebastian. Lucky for me, the period Earl of Devon - whose residence is ironically close to where the Edwardes' English house is - was actually a confirmed (and reputedly quite good looking) homosexual. Although he apparently lived most of his life in America. Yeah, I think gritty is the word.

Right now I just have to worry about murder, lost loves, mistaken identities and corsets. And it seems to be going alright... if I can divorce myself from the constant need for fact checking. If I could put footnotes ala Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell in my novel, I absolutely would.

But I am a nerd.

2808 words on Sunday. 1742 tonight. The goal is the seemingly nefarious total of 1666 words everyday to keep on schedule. And trying not to descend into archaic speak in an attempt to not break character. I asked my Mom if my niece was being "fractious" this evening and knew I was crossing some unspoken line of madness.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Strange Anniversaries

The first anniversary of my father's death has come and gone.

One of the most seminal and heartbreaking things I've ever experienced in my life still resonates. I haven't been able to write anything about my father not couched in pseudonyms and teenage vampiric fluff. Which probably doesn't count.

And I don't think tonight is going to break that strange spell.

So I sigh and offer this:

There's nothing I can say.
There's nothing we can do now.
There's nothing I can say.
There's nothing we can do now.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Dedicated to the One I Love: Jack the Plucky Hybrid

This is my ode to transportation - or lack thereof. Read to the accompaniment of the Shirelles (and not the Mamas and Papa's version in deference to the very squicky Mackenzie Phillips allegations of late):

My beloved hybrid, known colloquially as "Jack" (yes, my car is male), which I have been waivering between selling or keeping has been held hostage by Bay Ridge Honda now for 1.75 weeks.

This has been a mixed blessing.

On one hand, its a reprieve from the constant threat of the New York Parking Syndicate (something my tow-truck driver, Shawn, agreed with me about) and the strange passive aggressive notes that are occasionally pasted on my windows. But on the otherhand, there is the more sanitary issue of laundry (thankfully I own more pairs of pants than Imelda Marcos had shoes) and the need to transport el gato to her weekend sanctuary while I'm in Detroit this weekend.

Let me tell you that New York MTA does not make traveling 30 blocks in Brooklyn very easy. Although thankfully, it only took a little over an hour to get there and back. The plan was simple: a livery driver there (with the cat), a ten minute walk to the subway from Kensington and the X8 from 18th Avenue to the general vicinity of my pad.

The livery driver was a check - and drop dead gorgeous. I've never had that happen before as they're usually secreting nicotine and missing teeth (case in point, I once was in the backseat of a livery driver who admitted to being on Methadone mid-route. Yeah.) With Kai deposited, I walked to the F (which is now, apparently, also routing the G) where the simple act of buying a MetroCard (necessary for riding mass transit in the City) became a study in human folly.

You have the option in buying MetroCards of using either exact change or a debit/credit card. I tried my card first... and none of the unmanned card stations were accepting cards. I only had a $20 and there was no way of making change on that end of the station. Going to the manned end would not have been an issue - except they've been working on "improving" the throughway at Church Avenue for years with no end in sight. No admittance. So I return to the friendly junkies outside the station (who had tried to hit me up for a ciggarette or cash with a very bad rap) and walked down to the other end of the station, a block away where I discovered that none of the six card machines on that end were taking cards either and the station agent's computer was down, so she couldn't pretend to be facile in mathematics. No change. So out of the station again - this time for Walgreen's - where my change making was held up when two Indian women with strollers were accosted for shoplifting. Seriously people, when you're asked for a receipt if all you do is give a slow, stupid smile in response you should just give up criminal enterprises altogether.

Back to the station. This time with exact change. Missed the F by seconds - the conductor actually waved at me, but wouldn't open the doors. Thankfully the next F was express to 18th Avenue, where I caught the x8 with little issue (outside of the walking ciggarette who sat next to me after 50th - can you NOT smell yourself?) I did rediscover Newton's First Law, however, when I was catapulted past three rows of seats, across a metal bar and almost into the driver. Apparently my Docs need to be resoled, since they usually grip really well.

And then I was home.

I really miss Jack the Plucky Hybrid. Did I seriously think I could sell him to thwart the New York Parking Syndicate? After my strange, battery sucking alien flyover the Monday before last (my car and my cell phone completely lost power - thankfully I had thought to pull off the road when the steering suddenly went powerless), I am a little worried about him. The dealership is going to put in a new Hybrid battery (thankfully under warranty) to see if this third suggestion of woe is the culprit. So hopefully, we'll be reunited next week. When I'll have warrant to sing this:

In other news, I just finished Chapter 14 of my increasingly salacious remaking of Twilight. Which brought me just over 45k words. I KNOW I can do NaNoWriMo this year. If my upstairs neighbors stop having incredibly noisy bouts of sex interspersed with Gran Turismo, clearly subscribing to the "Life of International Luxury." (I have to add the caveat that I don't know any of the aforementioned for sure, but have extrapolated through repeated evenings worth of unwholesome goings-on drowned out only by Amaretto and Ryan Adams).

Fortunately, I'm off to Detroit tomorrow so they can subscribe to the old "Click and Dick" to their heart's content.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A blog, by definition requires actually... I don't know... blogging?

In honor of September - the gateway to my favorite month of October - I thought I would update on my social whirl of the roach-that-wasn't, the Bensonhurst street fair that never ends, midnight run-ins with the DEA, the lost virginity of my Cleric and other random things of note.

Firstly: today was an auspicious day. For the first time since I have been gaming (not counting my unrequited love for Gurth Bigbottom's daughter) I have finally had a character that fell in love with - and consummated that love - with an NPC. Apparently, I was just waiting for a Druid with a CHA 25 with thighs of adamanite. Thankfully, despite positing Orla's similarities with Solitaire, I am not losing my religious powers with the demise of my maidenhead. Which is a good thing since I'm the only PC in the group with a positive Strength modifier.

Secondly: a musical interlude from the former folk supergroup Cry, Cry, Cry (Richard Shindell, Dar Williams and Lucy Kaplansky) -->

Thirdly: a tale of shame. So... one evening while I was penning the increasingly salacious pulp fiction (apparently plot is irrelevant if there's lots of skin on skin action, *sigh*) I have been spending far too many brain cells on, I happened to notice an ENORMOUS bug in my light fixture. It was immune to incredibly high pitched screaming. It was immune to the amazingly high jumps of el gato - who lives here to kill sentient beings that enter the apartment that are not me. And it FLEW. I blasted it with Lysol Disenfectant (it was the only aerosol I have in the house), but while destroying the colony of paint bacteria on my Ikea bookshelves the damned bug was immune. (Bug=Bug?)

Suffice it to say, after a panel of witnesses were involved (my 70+ year old landlady and her crew of variously cancerated porch friends) - the consensus was that it was either a (1) waterbug, (2) moth or (3) a figment of my imagination. I tore the apartment down to its base components the following day and found nothing. There aren't even spiders in my apartment. I would like to add that saying: "How can you sleep knowing its there??" is not helpful in abating bug paranoia. But it did get me thinking. I need to hire someone to come over and kill bugs for me. Do you think there's a Craigslist category for that? The ten-thousand-limbed-pedes that occasionally amble through aren't an issue. But bugs that crunch... *shiver*

Fourthly: I am reading Elric of Melnibone. I hate him. I hate him and wish that Stormbringer would just behead him and get things over with. What a whiny, melodramatic, self-absorbed albino. Seriously. I hate that despite his frailty when not actively possessing Stormbringer (who for a demonic soul-drinking sword is pretty awesome, actually) he is apparently a sexual dynamo for whom whole plots are resolved by the sheathing of his other sword - the white one.

I think at heart, he is a proto-Elf archetype. My rancor for elves in general (seconded only by vampires) probably make me less than neutral. ET assures me that Elric is intended as a 1960s era foil to the Conan-type Hero. And apparently a hero to the Blue Oyster Cult. But I can't help but believe that if Moorcock had been a better writer (like Pat Rothfuss caliber) it would all come off less contrived. Anyway...

In closing: There is a street fair in Bensonhurst - a feast in honor of Saint Rosalia - that is the fair that never ends. It has been going on for nearly three weeks now. How much church sponsored elephant ears and merry-go-rounds can you have? Apparently more than three weeks worth in Brooklyn.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

[Not Quite New Music] Lanegan, Toadies and Wylde

I have such a voice crush on Mark Lanegan. That's just an FYI.

I can't embed this vid, but listen HERE.

In what sort of amazingly sweet world could I listen to the Toadies, be directed to the Screaming Trees "Sweet Oblivion" and from there Zakk Wylde's "Sweet Jesus" ??

There are people out in the world like me. It's kind of awe inspiring and makes me giddy.

Thwarted by copyright. Fuck. Well, here's the Toadies.

I stumble in the hallway
Outside her bedroom door.
I hear her call out to me.
I hear the fear in her voice.
She pulls the covers tighter.
I press against the door.

I will be with her tonight.

Monday, August 10, 2009

[New Music] Greg Laswell & Aqualung

In between the joyous news of Blitzen Trapper touring NYC in October - I am so there - and the triumphant return of the Great Lake Swimmers in September - I found two new solo acts that have won over my jaded ear.

Firstly, Aqualung. A British man and his piano venture (not to be confused with Jethro Tull's ode to pervs of the same name) - that for a moment during Strange and Beautiful was almost a solo version of the Postal Service or Air and channeling Radiohead on When I finally get my own place. From Strange and Beautiful:

I'll put a spell on you,
You'll fall asleep and I'll put a spell on you.
And when I wake you,
I'll be the first thing you see,
And you'll realize that you love me.

Some of the songs got a little too television background musicky for my tastes - but worth a listen. In all, my biggest amusement of the evening was a "friend" note from "Annie", querying Aqualung with whether he liked her - by checking Yes or No. This completely reminded me of something I read over at Daytrotter recently, liner notes from a live version of Shilpa Ray and her Happy Hookers' Erotolepsy / Hookers Of Myspace. Whether or not it was true, I could well imagine "Annie" agonizing over posting to Aqualung's site with such an audacious declaration at 11:03 on a Monday morning. Anyway,

Secondly, I stumbled upon Greg Laswell. Insomnia Radio's Daily dose for August 10. I really, really, really like The One I Love. In fact, Three flights from alta nido (2009) is in serious consideration for the purchase pile. One of the things about becoming a gold prospector out West is the potential for extra lucre to appear... allowing me to spend it on music without having to have long discourses with myself about spending money on non-essential items. Especially with third parties involving themselves in my savings.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

[Not Quite New Music] Keelaghan, Irvine, Brady

Because I hate cleaning with a passion I didn't know I was capable of until I moved out of my folk's pad - I cheated a little and spent a goodly portion of the day finding old folk vids on Youtube.

Yes, Mom, I did get my apt cleaned. It's always a treat chasing my cat around the place with the vacuum cleaner, of course...

It started with James Keelaghan, who while admittedly not technically old, has a surname that I deserve a ribbon for spelling right ;) Keelaghan is the author of one of the best Japanese-interment camp-based songs ever penned, the heartwrenching Kiri's Piano:

I remembered that I had once owned his A Recent Future (1995), prior to the Great CD Robbery of 2003 (orchestrated by a wily Canadian I was dating at the time) while listening to WUMB this morning and catching Cold Missouri Waters - another amazing, amazing song about the Mann Gulch fire (1949). Found RICHARD SHINDELL (swoon!) covering the song here:

This led - eventually - into the best find of the day. Vintage Andy Irvine vids circa 1977-79, featuring his collaboration with Paul Brady. Irvine and Brady (briefly) were members of the periodically defunct Planxty --> responsible for one of the greatest albums (in my opinion) of all time: 1980's The Woman I loved so well. The album that introduced me to Child's ballads #114 and #81. Johnny of Brady's Lea is the only song that is probably in my head 85% of every moment of every day:

For one small drop of your heart's blood they would ride to the gates of Hell...

As for Little Musgrave, well, love is never easy. And disregarding the sound of your lover's husband's ARMY arriving on the scene is not in one's best interest. But you live, you learn. And sometimes you get run through with a sword.

As for the Irvine/Brady sweetness, I leave off my random thoughts with the following:

The hair! The glasses! The bells! Fiona Ritchie's interview with Irvine at Perthshire (2005) can be found, archived, here.