Flash Floodland

So last night around midnight, we got a big storm. It came in two waves. I didn't know anything was wrong until I went to the kitchen for some water. I happened to look out the window and saw someone in a car backing all the way up the street. That alone was odd enough to catch my attention. Then I saw the other thing that was wrong: the car was leaving a wake like a boat on a lake. I called Dane into the kitchen, and he opened the back door. I was shocked to see the water was even with our back porch AND IT WAS STILL RAINING. We went to the front of the house. Sure enough, the water was up to the first step and was ready to cover it. I peeked over the railing to see if my container garden was being washed away.[1] Everything was in place, even the rose bush, but other things were being washed down the street. The water was definitely reaching the car doors. It was deep. A half hour later the water started to recede, but the power went out twice and then the second wave of water came through. I spent the night between hopping up to look through the windows, opening doors to check the water level and sleeping fitfully on the couch. The house was built in 1930, and we're on a pier and beam foundation. You could hear water rushing past, under the house.

Flash floods in Texas aren't unusual. I've heard about them my whole life. Austin is sort of famous for them. Texas often goes through these dry periods.[2] They're always broken with a massive flood or two. That's just Texas. Mind you, I've always lived outside the city when these things happened. This is the first time I saw it first hand. The amazing thing (to me) about this is my neighborhood is parked on top of the largest hill in the city. It's so huge you don't even know you're on it. I never expected to see water that close to coming into our house. In the four or five years we've lived here, it's never even come close. Well, last night showed that 'never' isn't the correct word.
[1] I don't know if the cucumbers are gonna make it. They were flattened by water coming off the roof.
[2] Nothing like a few years ago, however. You know, when practically the entire state was on fire, and you could see it from space.

Cold Iron Gets More Real

So, new novel series has a name. Like the cover, I can't share yet. (Sorry.) The nice thing is that it wasn't the struggle the first one was. I guess I'm getting better at this stuff? I hope so. Yesterday was all about dealing with series names, flap text, and some last minute workshop details. Also, furniture moving because Dane brought home a new cd organizer/shelf thingy[1] and a brand new standing desk. (I dearly love that 'treasure table'/work version of Craigslist. Ha!) These were things we really needed.  Although, the standing desk not as much since I have mom's printer stand. Still, it's good to have something I can roll out onto the porch when I want to write outside. On the downside, I had another blood test this morning. Hopefully, the "moar veggies" diet is working. It certainly feels better. We'll see.

Anyway... new series is becoming more real by the day. Gods, I love being a professional writer. It definitely has it's downside. (Crazy inconsistent income for one thing.) But this is, without a doubt, my favorite part of the process. The roller coaster is slowly chugging up that first huge incline. Novel is shiny and getting shinier because I'm polishing the sucker. Everyone working on the project is excited. The public hasn't seen it yet--so, no angst there. I've not seen its future. So, I'm all kinds of hopeful. And yet, there it is... becoming more real. With the cover art, I got to see Nels for the first time in all his grubby uniformly glory. I don't know why it tickles me so much but... he's wearing red wool stockings under his black leather boots. You can see the tops peeking out because, you know, the boots weren't custom made for him and are second hand. So, he's a touch taller than the former owner, and well, leggier. I dearly love that detail and am so adding the red stockings into the novel. I adore it when shit like that happens. Artists are awesome. I totally dig when they visualize things that have been haunting my brain for years. I learn all sorts of new shit about the story. Story is the intersection between the reader and the writer, after all.
[1] And it looks like it might just be big enough to handle my gi-normous music collection. OMG, I've a lot of cds--not as many as my ex-nightclub-DJ friends but far more than any non-DJ person I know. What can I say? I love music. No, everything I own hasn't been transferred to electronic. It probably won't be. Although, electronic music has slowed down my cd purchasing significantly. (But not the music purchases, see.)


So... yesterday, I got to see a draft of the shiny, new Cold Iron cover. I'm loving the direction it's gone. It fits in with the Sharpe's novels and with Brian McClellan's Powder Mage series. That's great! Makes me so happy. The only thing that bothered me about the Fey and the Fallen covers was that they were so soft and fuzzy and probably wouldn't have looked that way if a male name was going on the books. (Mind you, they're gorgeous. I love them. But still...) Alas, I can't show off the new cover yet because it's not final and that's how these things go. So, you'll have to trust me. It's bad ass. In the meantime, have a look at the cover artist's other works.

Today's post will have to be short. Deadlines approach-eth big time. YIKES.

Freedom, or Porcupinos Non Sodomy Est

I've been studying Sir Terry Pratchett's work pretty extensively for a while. Largely, I think he's a great writer, and he's an expert at exactly the kind of humor I adore. As a writer, I feel I've got the horror, drama, and heart-wrenching stuff down pretty well--at least for now, but I'm trying broaden my range. So... Sir Terry P is on heavy rotation. Of course, I'm still making my way through the Sharpe's series. (I just finished book five.) I'm studying Bernard Cornwell in order to feel more comfortable writing battle scenes. I read the first couple of Patrick O'Brien's Aubrey-Maturin series, and C.S. Forester's Hornblower series as well. I've also been in and out of Jane Austen's works.[1] Yes, none of that is the American Revolution, but it's successful pre-Victorian era literature (with the exception of Austen all are written by modern writers) that remains so to this day. And well, I'm not in any way following actual history this time. I'm allowing myself to be mushy with it. That said... back to Pratchett.

Going Postal has been the flavor of the month. Lord Havalock Vetinari is third my favorite character--first is Sir Samuel Vimes followed by Granny Weatherwax. Vetinari is based upon Machiavelli's The Prince, and Charles Dance is the world's perfect Vetinari, frankly.

One of the things I adore about Pratchett is that it[3] I notice something new and deeply meaningful every time. This morning was no different when I came upon this:

'Freedom may be mankind's natural state, but so is sitting in a tree eating your dinner while it is still wriggeling. On the other hand, Freidegger, in “Modal Contextities”, claims that all freedom is limited, artificial and therefore illusory, a shared hallucination at best. No sane mortal is truly free, because true freedom is so terrible that only the mad or the divine can face it with open eyes. It overwhelms the soul, very much like the state he elswhere describes as “Vonnallesvollkommenunverstaendlichdasdaskeit. What position would you take here, Drummknott?'
‘I’ve always thought, my lord, that what the world needs are filing boxes which are not so flimsy,’ said Drummknott, after a moment’s pause.
‘Hmm,’ said Lord Vetinari. ‘A point to think about, certainly.’


I've been thinking quite a bit about the American Tea Party (and Libertarian) relationship with the word 'freedom' and how they burp it up every time someone attempts to promote this thing called 'the social contract.' (Except, of course, when it comes to women's rights. In that case, let's restrict those freedoms all the way up the uterus, baby. Oh, yeah!) Anyway, it presented some food for thought with my coffee, particularly, since that's a theme I'm running willy-nilly with in Blackthorne--the book project after Cold Iron.
[1] Am on Northanger Abbey at the moment, but I'm still getting that "natter, natter, natter--first-world-problems--natter, natter" reaction that makes me want to punch a noble in the face. Repeatedly. With a mallet. I guess I'm just not cut out for it. And this is the funny part. I've read Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal[2], and although, I know for a fact she faithfully (and skillfully, I might add) mimics Austen's style... I don't have the same reaction. Go figure.
[2] Which you should read, if you haven't.
[3] Much like one of my favorite old TV shows (a fish out of water story set in Alaska) Northern Exposure

New Hair

Well, my friends. My hair has been black for 20 years, and well... it's time for a change. I've been coloring it different shades of blue to keep myself entertained while a big section of the black stuff grew out. Thus, my intent has been to go to something closer to my natural color (and yet not natural) for around four years or so. I've been twitchy lately. Ready for a change. And that's when things get dangerous as my husband knows. I tried cutting it shorter. That was okay. But... now...

Believe it or not, I was an ash blonde for the first four or five years of my life. Then my hair went mousey brown and kinda stayed there until I dumped black all over it. So, I'm going platinum. I've kind of always wanted to and was afraid to do it. (I worried it'd make me look old.) Turns out. The platinum is less harsh against my skin than the black by far. (Platinum is light ash blonde, after all.) So, goodbye, Morticia. Hello, Storm. I'm keeping the black underneath and letting it grow out. The blue will just get lighter and lighter until everything is blonde on top. (I may keep bright blue on the ends.) I call it Ice Selkie hair. It sort of broke Dane when he got home. He couldn't register three colors instead of two for some reason. So, he spent about an hour stammering. After that, he was fine. It totally made me think of the scene from Beetlejuice with the line "He likes it."

Him: "So, you're just going to let it fade out?"
Me: "Mostly. Yes. But you'd tell me if it looks hideous, right?"
Him: "Sure. I'll just wake you one morning by leaning over you and saying, [spooky voice] "It's hideous. The colorrrrrr. Soooo hideoussss.""
Me [rolls eyes]: "Boys are stupid."
Him: "Stupid but loving." [holds hand] [pause] [back to spooky voice] "Hideousssss."
Me [drops hand]: "So stupid. Boys."
Him: "Give us a kiss."
Me: "No way."
Him: [smoochie sounds]

Feminist Monday

Today's Feminist Monday links:

My new favorite makeup tutorial video

Entertainment/Literary--In a breath-taking "reasons why you don't really want to meet your heroes" moment, we have Nic Pizzolatto (creater of HBO's 'True Detective' series) in an interview with the Daily Beast. When asked about the gender issues contained in season one and whether or not he was planning on making changes "I think it affected me a little bit in my conception of Season 2, but then not at all. I realized I was listening to things I didn’t agree with and taking cues from the wrong places. I just put it out of my mind." You know, I don't think I'll be watching season two, HBO. It's one thing to say, "Gee, I'm writing a combination of crime, noir, and horror. And traditionally noir and horror, I admit, have a troubling (at best) relationship with female characters. I did give it thought, and I still am. But it's a difficult problem because that has always been a key element to crime and noir fiction." It's quite another to just blithely cram your hands over your ears and blow off justified criticism while singing "Lalalala I'm not listening." like an eight year old. I get it. When writing OB&H I tapped the noir and crime genres too. Weak-kneed female characters are dead easy to create in crime and noir. It's a heavy duty trope in those genres, and it's a trope that's tough to fight while maintaining the overall feel of noir. I know. I had a tough time too. But you know what? Talented writers rise to challenges. They make mistakes. Sure. But they don't just throw their hands in the air and say, "It's not important." when things get tough. Frankly, this response adds validity to the red flags that went up while I was watching season one. So much for that series. Next from Growing Fins, Stop treating non firstworlders as though they are frail, fragile, disabled, incomplete, because they have not had firstworldhood bestowed upon them by virtue of blood, “Forbidden Bookshelf” Series Acquaints Public with Books Vanished by Government or Powerful Interests, for fun here's The Oatmeal, the B-word, and Aliens,

News/Current Affairs/Historical--People of Color in European Art History, My Body is NOT a Democracy, 12 Anti-woman Myths (from the Dark Ages) Conservatives Still Believe, The heartbreaking duality of transgender issues in the US, According to Apple, “vagina” is inappropriate but “penis” is not (come on Apple, you can do better than that,) Why same-sex parents have healthier and happier kids, The Word I'd Rather You Not Use to Describe My Daughter, Men really need to stop calling women crazy, The Erasure of Black Womanhood: Why Anthony Cumia's Twitter Rant is About More Than Race, Women Have Been Talking About This Issue For Years. Finally, Some Celebrity Men Are Talking Too, Let's Stop Neutralizing Men, 10 Words Every Girl Should Learn, Reason #1 SCOTUS Will Regret Hobby Lobby

Trigger Warning Section--The term “classic rapist” shows that people still don’t understand what rape is

Snowpiercer and Other Films

Last night I watched Snowpiercer which is definitely ALL THAT.

It's everything that Elysium really, really wanted to be and was just... was too shallow and lazy to do right. (Although, Jodie Foster rocked. :P So, I still liked it okay, but wasn't 100% into it due to... issues.) Snowpiercer, on the other hand, is fantastic, fun, tense, and deep. It knows what it's after and does it without the simplistic good guy vs. bad guy and stereotypical The One Hero™ crap. (Although, I was all about Edgar and well... :() Anyway, I don't want to give too much away, but if you're deep into climate change denying and/or Ayn Rand, this probably isn't the film for you. Other than that, it's a great Science Fiction film, beautifully filmed and acted. The more I see of Chris Evans the more I like. And OMG, John Hurt and Ed Harris? YES.

Of course, now I want to watch Orlando again. It's been years. I saw it in the theater when it was released, like, a million years ago. (So, it seems.) Tilda Swinton is my hero. She's just amazing in everything. Angel? Vampire? KICK ASS EVERY TIME. Which makes me think... OMG, how great would a triple feature of Only Lovers Left Alive, Let the Right One In, and Byzantium be? That's sooo happening...

X-Men: First Class

Last night, Dane and I rewatched X-Men: First Class.

We've been going through the X-Men movies in sequence like we did with the Avengers films. To be honest, they've just not held up nearly as well. They aren't nearly as well written. Although, I've always had a soft spot for this one. (This, in spite of the eyerolling Emma "Look at me, I'm built like Barbie and will do nothing but act as the standard Bond Girl™" Frost bits.) I'm a big fan of taking big moments in history and weaving fiction through them. It takes a level of scholarship and skill to do well that I deeply appreciate. Plus, I love the whole 'learning factual information while being entertained' thing. It's a lot of fun. So, the bits with the Bay of Pigs and such just made the film for me. Plus, I also like the '60s and the '70s and Dane... well... not as much. :) The funny part was watching Dane admit that the film was far better than he gave it credit for. I loved how the relationship between Charles and Eric was handled, and there's a deleted scene between Charles and Moira that totally shouldn't have been cut. It was fantastic.

Charles: "Hey, baby. Let me show you how groovy it is to be a mutant. I love your hair--"
Moira [rolls eyes]: "Blah. Blah. Mutation. Top of food chain. Blah. I've heard it. Spy? Remember?"
Charles: "Oh, okay. Fine. And now I'll just skip to the part where I pop into your room--"
Moira: "How did you do that?"
Charles: "Mental super powers. Ta-da!"
Moira: "Charles, I'm working. This isn't professional."
Charles: "Oh, come on, baby. I know you dig me."
Moira [frowning]: "Yes, I do, but this isn't the time."
Charles [smarmy smile]: "Who cares?"
Moira [frowns some more]: "Charles, read my mind."
Charles: "Really?"
Moira: "Yes. Read my mind."
Smiling, Charles puts fingers to temple. Begins to read her mind. Smile slips. He coughs. "Er. Oh. I'll just be leaving then, shall I?"
Moira: "Good night, Charles."
Door slams.

Price of admission, that. I guess they cut it because it placed too much emphasis upon Charles being a horny pick-up artist? But honestly, he's a young man who can read minds in the early '60s. He needs to learn about boundaries. That so fits. To me, it makes Moira a stronger character AND demonstrates a point of change for Charles's character. We get to see where he understands how disrespectful and awful what he's doing is and where he chooses to change that behavior towards women. It rocks. It also shows an aspect of Charles's powers that affects the plot later. AND it's really funny. Anyway, the film was particularly shiny on Blue Ray--once more affirming my belief that if the film is heavy on FX then BlueRay is  the thing. If it's anything else, skip it. It's not worth the expense.

Ship Porn, BECAUSE

Got quite a bit of revising done yesterday. Am at the stage where, looking over the first third or so of the story, I feel really good about this novel. Of course, this will pass. It always does. It's the great circle of writer life, this passing from love to uncertainty to hate to uncertainty to love again. Still, things are snapping together in really nice ways they hadn't before. That's why I love this part of the process. I really get to know the story, what it means, where my subconcious was headed with it, and so on. The characters make more sense, and I get to know them better. Best of all, having an editor that truly understands my work and my goals makes everything more fun. (I'm one of those silly people who occasionally needs permission to do the risky things she's already doing anyway. Well, okay. More than occasionally.) I'm lucky--so very lucky, and I know it. I'm very much looking forward to today's round of revisions because it will be all about the Tall Ship Porn™. It'll be nice to get in touch with my childhood fascination. I was all about the pirate movies and Robert Louis Stevenson as a kid, you see. I wanted to be a ship's captain like Maureen O'Hara in Against All Flags. (Except for the mooning over silly boys part. Hey, I was seven.) So, I scurried around the top of swing sets[1] and played at stick-fighting. (All before I reached Texas when I quit and moved on to other adventures.) Anyway... tall ships. FUN.

So... more homework today. Am once more paging through Heart of Oak and Patrick O'Brian's Navy. And because I'm thorough there's the following video. How much do I love the internet? OMG, good stuff.

Hmmm. I was always taught to refer to any floating thing that carried other boats onboard as a ship. The video only refers to ships with square sails as ships. Barqs don't count. That's interesting. (Although, I might ignore that.)
[1] Which seems scary when I think about it now, but it was dead easy then--no worse than tree-climbing. Hurray for a youthful sense of immortality. And yes, I stopped when Mom caught me at it. At the time I thought she was being overly cautious. Now, I just think I was lucky not to have broken my neck. (We all know it wouldn't have been my skull. That sucker is made of adamantium.)


Got some good news in the form of no news on the punk rock bar short story I submitted to Jaym Gates this morning. (Only another writer can probably understand that one. Heh.) I'll keep my fingers crossed. Apparently, she's got a huge volume of really great stories to pick from. (Last report, she's got to narrow down fifty five really fantastic stories to fifteen.) We'll see.

Was deep into book mode yesterday. This was a very good thing as I'm finally getting a handle on a character that I've had some trouble identifying with/loving. She's just a bit unstable due to being slammed with too many visions of possible futures. Due to certain past experiencs, I've always been super uncomfortable around people who around terribly anchored in reality. The girl is ALL AIR as it were. We're opposites. And that's what makes writing her such a challenge. It's uncomfortable having her in my head space. Worse, women are too often accused of being crazy, and I'm not happy about that. Plus, she's a main character's love interest, AND she tap-dances on my "manic pixie dream girl" buttons as a result. Even in a colonial setting keeping her fun and yet squarely out of that box is tough. She was easier to write when she was younger--dead easy. None of my baggage was in the way.[1] But now she's older and more powerful (and thus, more dangerous) and well... uncomfortable. She makes mistakes. She needs to in order to be real. Anyway, I had to laugh at myself a bit when I was so deep into book mode that pulling myself out of it in order to be anchored and social and play D&D last night was tough. Now, I'm hoping to climb back up the imaginary ladder in order to jump into that head space and finish out this chapter. It's a tough transition for me. It's like huffing helium. She's all Cocteau Twins, Kate Bush, Cranes, An April March, Beats Antique, Curve, Enya, and E Muzeki.

I hope this all is as good for her as it is for me. ;)
[1] I suspect because she's one part Ivy from Zilpha Keatley Snyder's Changeling and thus, an old friend, but Ivy doesn't actually age. She's a changeling. :) So, yeah. I suspect this is me hitting that wall of things women are allowed to be versus the things girls are allowed to be. There's a freedom to being a little girl that goes away when you become a woman--and no, this isn't the same thing as Peter Pan. I'm not talking about freedom from responsibility. I'm talking about the freedom to be yourself. Everything about being a woman is heavily judged from your body to your choices in life.