hedda62: my cat asleep (Default)
Miscellany: writing, cats, TV, etc.

1) I wrote the first sentence in Book Five last night:

The muffled oars whispered secrets to the river as the boat slipped downstream, returning Major John André to the safety of the Vulture.

Which should alert those familiar with the incident that something weird is going on, but never fear, I will explain what and why and how very quickly. I haven't written any more yet, but perhaps I'll get time to do that today; I do know how it goes on. For a little while, at least. And am very glad to get started, and impressed that I've written something considering my mental state a couple of weeks ago.

Also got a laugh when I reviewed the history and saw what the name of the sloop was. Birds, I tell you: following me around.

(The next line in the "How to Suppress Women's Writing" litany goes: She wrote it, and then she wouldn't shut up about it. Sorry not sorry.)

2) Cats! I said I'd write about cats, and I haven't done an update in ages. We still have Lancelot and Hotspurr, and they are well. Hotspurr is now an indoor-outdoor cat - I swore this wasn't going to happen, after losing the last cat (plus others, previously) to outdoor threats, but he had other ideas, and as soon as spring arrived he began scratching and whining constantly (I mean, for hours at a time) and shooting out the door whenever we opened it, and we eventually gave in. (Tried the leash thing first - nope, not going for it.) He's five years old, so he had fully-developed habits before we adopted him, and clearly no one ever denied him anything, including access to the outdoors. He's also refused to wear a collar (he lost six of them outdoors before we stopped putting them on) but he does have a chip at least. And he's smart about what's out there, though I'm reconciled to the possibility that some of it will eventually kill him. He'd just be miserable inside all the time; some cats just are The Cat Who Walks By Himself, and that's how it is. He's done two all-nighters out so far, and been caught out in several thunderstorms, though he tends to curl up on a chair and sleep the whole next day.

Lancelot is still an indoor kitty, because I don't trust him to avoid danger outside, and because the only reason he seems to want to go out is because Hotspurr's there. They bonded nicely in the winter, but while Hotspurr is fond of Lancelot, Lancelot loves Hotspurr, and now he spends days waiting by doors and windows for his friend to come back. We are seriously thinking of getting a third cat, if we can find one guaranteed to prefer the indoors.

3) I'm kind of liking the break from TV in the summer (though the POI preview clip from ComicCon looked awesome), which we are filling desultorily with episodes of "Borgen" - it's a Danish political drama about a female prime minister in a coalition government, and it's intriguing and fun and poignant in a way that's more "West Wing" than "House of Cards" (or "Yes, Minister"), and blends the political and the personal in a balanced way. We're about halfway through the second season. In Danish with subtitles - which means I can't watch it if I'm sleepy, because my eyes will close and I'll have no idea what's going on, but it's been interesting. Neither of us speaks Danish, but I know a little German and J. used to be fluent, so some of the roots are familiar and occasionally we'll pick up a word here and there. We concluded pretty quickly that a lot of sounds get seriously elided, because when there's something you know they should be saying (because it's in the subtitle and not likely to be a mistranslation) you still don't hear it. And then occasionally there will be phrases in English - there are whole scenes in English, I mean, when they're talking to people from other countries, but also just little bits of jargon or idiom that apparently have been adopted into Danish parlance, which is kind of weirdly endearing and startling. Only available here on DVD - which, wow, when was the last time we watched one of those?

4) Subject line is one of my favorite bits of Vienna Teng, from "In Another Life":

In another life
I was married at thirteen
You were killed at twenty-one
On a minor battlefield


which I just think is genius in the "adding insult to injury" way. Minor battlefield, ha. It's the sort of thing Rinaldo would like, and since that's his POV up there in the first line of Book Five (which still has no title) I am particularly inclined to attach to it. (Last book used all female POVs; this one will be all male, which makes it the first book without Olivia's interior perspective, though possibly I'll give her the epilogue.)

5) I've been having shoulder panics. When you've had two frozen shoulders, any lasting pain or stiffness in those joints leads to worry (which probably doesn't help in terms of loosening up) about the possibility of losing most of your range of motion, plus any ability to exercise (because of extreme pain on jarring), for a year or so. I am just back in the swing of things where exercise is concerned, after the frustration of the knee problem, and having that go away again would be devastating. But I'm hoping it's just the temporary result of doing too-speedy hand-weight lifts in Jazzercise. Lots of stretching is in order.
hedda62: my cat asleep (Default)
[personal profile] yunitsa wanted to know: If you were in charge of the Vorkosigan books, what would the next one be about?

Piotr.

There, that was easy.

But to expand slightly: I would LOVE a tale of Piotr (and Olivia!) during the Cetagandan War, or any time before the action of the current books starts. Or, if we have to go forward chronologically, something about the coming-of-age of the next generation, after Miles's death. I realize this may sound like I hate Miles, and I don't, but I think we've had plenty of him, and I have next to no interest in filling in the gaps in his life. Though of course if Lois wrote that, I would read it. If she wrote the phone book, I would read it. There would be a lot of the letter V.

In other news, I have spent a fair amount of time in recent days writing more of the Ben-as-Henry-Gale story I started some months ago, and am really hoping to finish it soon so that I can start properly panicking over actual real life commitments.

Also, it has been ridiculously cold here, which is not news to many of you. We've had the water trickling in our bathroom sink for three days without stopping, so the pipe won't freeze, which we only do when temperatures are consistently below 15F (it's the north corner of the house). Mornings have been in the low single digits, with below zero wind chill. Today it might actually reach freezing, though, which will be like a heat wave. As xkcd said so brilliantly, this is the old normal.

Also, the cats are behaving like regular old cats who live in the same house now, not exactly playing together, but observing each other playing, and eating side by side, and all that. Lancelot has been doing Speed Personality Transformation, and now looks to possibly be headed for dominant feline status (Hotspurr is just too easygoing to object, I think). First we thought he'd never come downstairs, then we thought he'd never stop hiding when he saw Hotspurr, then we thought he'd had a deprived kittenhood and never learned to play, but now he is collecting ALL THE MICE and hoarding them in the chair that used to be Hotspurr's, and skittering around chasing them. He still doesn't really understand the point of the laser pointer, but he may yet catch on. It's been a long while since we had two cats at once, and - they actually learn from each other! They also (perhaps inadvertently) team up to make fixing dinner very difficult if they haven't had theirs yet. Twice the underfoot I am used to, half of it blending with the black and white rug.
hedda62: my cat asleep (Default)
I don't have an assigned topic for today, but I thought of two things to talk about anyway. :)

So we were watching "Breaking Bad" last night (up through 4x11 - !!!!) and it occurred to me that there must have been someone on the production staff whose assigned task it was to keep track of exactly how much money Walt possesses at any one point. This was extremely plot-relevant at that particular moment, but really all the time (I mean, "having enough" is his motivation from the beginning, and he never does). The show's good at continuity in general, so I'm sure they thought that part out very well.

I don't necessarily notice continuity errors while I'm watching a show for fun, but I think I could pick them out when more emotionally detached (being a continuity supervisor would be a great job). The Person of Interest Wikia lists errors of various types for each episode, and I happened to be looking at the "God Mode" entry the other day and saw a note about spoiler )

I think it would be fun to have a fandom fest in which people write wild and wacky rationalizations for continuity errors and other oddities. For the above one, I offer: and again, spoilers )

On another topic, I had an interesting conversation with an acquaintance at the MG meeting I mentioned where I was being showered with book praise. She took one of my cards, saying that her husband might be interested in reading my book, but that she wouldn't, because she has great trouble with suspension of disbelief and can't read anything that's "unlikely" - including, I guess, all fantasy, science fiction, other speculative fiction, spy novels, and works with too many coincidences in them. She says she enjoys Jonathan Franzen. I am all for people being upfront about what they like and don't like, and it's usually hard to change minds about that kind of thing, especially among older readers, though I always hold out a smidgen of hope.

Anyway, I personally have no trouble with suspension of disbelief within reason, meaning that as both a reader and a writer I allow for at least one major coincidence and/or seemingly impossible technology per book, as long as everything else falls into place logically. But it's interesting to think that some people just lack that ability, in the same way that they can't curl their tongues or deal with brussels sprouts. I've been thinking this as I watch my two cats, one of which adores chasing the little red light of the laser pointer, and clearly has a vendetta against it ("curse you, little red light! curse you forever!") while not suffering any apparent emotional distress over never ever being able to catch and eat it. While the other one watches the light for a moment, and then looks at your hand. If they were bookstore cats, you know which would end up in the mystery novels and which in the nonfiction section.
hedda62: my cat asleep (Default)
I'm starting this out with Adorable Cat Tricks: we have learned in recent days that Lancelot is not a morning kitty. He's been sleeping on our bed, and every morning now, when one of us gets up, he moves into a spot between the remaining person and the edge of the bed, as if to say no way, not you too, you are staying here. And he doesn't come downstairs until we're both up, and even then he's not very hungry (I won't go so far as to say he wants his coffee first, but a few bites of food is enough). And although Hotspurr is now sleeping in his favorite Ikea chair downstairs, I suspect so that he's closer to the food he worships, he doesn't come up and wake us just so we can feed him. As Gobi used to do the second either of us turned over or breathed loudly at any point past 4 a.m., with loud meowing and chewing on the bed and being thoroughly annoying.

I say this in affectionate reminiscence, of course. I plan to dedicate Time and Fevers to Gobi, because there are cats in it (my betas wince slightly here) and he helped me write it, and because the first answer to today's question from[personal profile] wendylove - when and how I write - is, I write with cats.

But, to be more specific. I've been lucky enough to have time to write, and a varying but flexible schedule, so "when" is usually "as it fits in" but with reasonable regularity. I don't usually have a problem with settling down to writing, though sometimes I have periods when I just can't, and then there is never any lack of something else to do. Among the many bits of writerly advice that make me growl is the paternalistic privileged nonsense of "writers write." Well, actually, writers want to write, but sometimes a writer has stuff people are asking her to do without regard to her set-aside writing time, or sick kids, or migraines that go on for days, or depressive spirals (oddly I can write through these unless they get really bad, but plenty of other people can't), or jobs with unpredictable hours, etc. etc. I have never been able to say "I will write every day from 7 to 11 am" or "Tuesdays and Thursdays" or anything like that, because nothing's that regular in my life. But I want to do it, and it gets done.

It would be interesting to track whether the stuff I produce at 3 a.m. (after waking up, not staying up) is different than at 3 p.m., and so forth, but it's not like I'd ever make a note of that. I do know that most of Not Time's Fool was written while I was having unpleasantly regular insomnia, which is probably why there are so many scenes in it set at night and "Nessun Dorma" figures prominently.

I'm assuming the "how" part of the question refers to physical things more than mental, so: on a laptop, at least for the last eight or nine years; I can't write longhand and produce anything worthwhile. I don't have a desk (so any *headdesk*s are to be taken figuratively) and these days I usually write while sitting on a loveseat in the living room with my feet up (plenty of room for cats). I should undertake some method to do more work while standing up (don't think a treadmill desk will fit either in the house or in the budget, but even a surface at the right height for being upright would be good for my back and my waistline) or on an exercise ball. I should also get up and stretch and walk around more often. (Sometimes I keep a suggestive yoga mat on the floor nearby.) I certainly don't require complete silence to write in (is there such a thing?) but any noise with words in it will distract me to the point where I can't think. This includes music, and I don't usually write to music without words either, though there have been exceptions (particular scenes that need the rhythm or harmony or counterpoint provided therein). I have written in coffee shops on occasion, and behind the desk of a yoga studio, and in hotel rooms (including in a large closet so as not to disturb others with light), and in parks (mostly editing in parks. Editing is a whole other subject). Et cetera. Flexibility is all.

I'm trying to snack less while I write. Tea is good, though I am terribly inclined to forget that it's steeping and end up with something lukewarm and bitter, which is probably not what I want the words on the page to be either. Sometimes booze is good too, in very small amounts. No Hemingways here.

Probably I have forgotten things I should add? But that's enough to be going on with.
hedda62: my cat asleep (Default)
1) The honeymoon phase of book release is here. When one's used to the quick turnaround of posting fic and getting feedback (like, minutes, sometimes *is amazed*), or even the slightly longer pause between sending book chapters to beta readers and getting thoughtful replies, the delay between publishing a book and people actually reading it (and telling you so) seems to last forever, but I had enough early adopters in there to keep me happy, and now it's Christmas (some weeks after actual Christmas, which has a lot to do with people not reading instantly right now what are you waiting for?). I was grateful to get a couple of DW/LJ signal boosts this week, but what's really surprising me is the response among my RL acquaintance, and it is so thrilling to go to a Master Gardener speaker's group preview meeting (which was really good on its own, actually) and not only have three separate people tell me how good my book was (one said she was up to 3:30 am finishing it, which - yeah, it's long, budget your time wisely), but watch two of them keep talking about it while I went out of the room. And then they followed me and kept saying nice stuff and wanting the next one now and asking questions and speculating on plot twists (and, huh. That particular misconception never once occurred to me. Wow). And I may have sold a couple more there, too; I'm glad I had business cards printed. Then home to get FB message from son's girlfriend's mother saying how much she was enjoying it. Harder times to come, I know, but for now, whee!

2) Both cats are sometimes now occupying the same room for periods of time, so progress. Boy, do they have different personalities, though. Should have named them Introvert and Extrovert.

3) Caught up on The Good Wife, and oh, do they keep hitting the gold. Perfect balance of comedy and dramatic tension, all the way through. My only complaint is that they don't quite know what to do with Kalinda this season, though I'm glad she and Cary are reigniting their whatever-it-is.

4) On a related note, I got a pedometer for Christmas, and am using Elsbeth Tascioni as a model for how to use it. 10,000 steps, here I come!

5) Watched the premiere of Intelligence (I like Josh Holloway; what can I say. Also Meghan Ory) but I doubt I'll keep watching, because it switches to its new time tonight - and okay, I will be watching Sleepy Hollow before, so who knows, but I doubt I can deal with another 10 pm show. And it was okay but didn't grab me in a big way. Also, that is so not Rock Creek Park.

6) I suspect this week's POI will be both a relief from the recent tension (in the crisis-of-the-week sense) and a gut-wrenching reminder of it (in the John-Reese-front-and-center sense). I still don't entirely trust the show, but maybe it can win me over again? Amy Acker and Sarah Shahi are so fantastic that I want everything to be written as well as Root and Shaw are, and there are lots of intriguing things going on, just… wish I had time to write fic to make Reese make sense, because I think that might do it. But this week, no. I don't think.

7) Rutabaga curling is a thing that exists. This makes me happy.

For the January posting meme, [personal profile] philomytha wanted to know what was the earliest fiction I'd ever written, and I'll try to answer to the best of my ability )
hedda62: my cat asleep (Default)
Still haven't managed to get more than a black blur in photographing Lancelot, but here is the other kitty:



who is now named Hotspurr. He is sociable to the point of being obnoxious, unafraid of new situations, very cuddly, and pretty much fills the Gobi-sized hole in the house - almost literally, being about the same size and weight, though of course of different coloring, less chatty (and in much higher-pitched tones when he is), and perhaps even pushier. His elusive companion is going to be a more subtle presence, I expect, but when he feels comfortable he's happy to be held and petted. He is not comfortable when Hotspurr is anywhere in sight, but I'm sure he'll come around eventually.

There will be a lot of cuddling in the next day or so, since temperatures are supposed to drop to near 0 F. tonight. I can't remember when it was last this cold here - and not too long after they put us into zone 7, oh well, so much for all those tender plants people put in. (And I'm thinking sad thoughts about Older Son's landlord's patio garden in Houston, where it's been in the 20s.) Welcome to climate change, people.

Another posting meme post coming sometime today.

ETA: Well, here we go, this is something. Black cats are hard to photograph.

hedda62: my cat asleep (Default)
Big news for the day: we went to a local shelter and adopted two cats. We've been thinking about doing this since getting over the initial grieving for our old cat, and the shelter opened again today after the holiday down-time, so we went, thinking "well, we'll just look," and "maybe kittens!" and of course ended up with two adult cats, who are settling in now - meaning that Kurtz (we named neither of them, but I think the names are sticking), the 5-year-old orange tabby, came out of his carrier and told us yes, this was home, didn't we know he'd always lived there, and he would like access to the entire house now, thank you. Whereas Lancelot, the almost-solid-black 2-year-old, is hiding under Younger Son's bed. But he was sociable enough at the shelter, so I think he'll come around. Photos when I haz them.

In other news, I finished and posted the Irrelevant Gift Exchange story yesterday; it's a Root and Shaw sorta-gen coda to 3.10 "The Devil's Share," with baked goods, called Advent Cookies. I'm glad my recipient liked it, and it turned out okay, but it was a painful slog to get through even 1460 words of it. There are just times that the writing muse deserts me entirely, and this is clearly one of them, so don't be expecting anything new in the fannish realm from me in the near future, and I hope I can get that Time and Fevers epilogue written without writhing and gnashing of teeth. But perhaps I'll be more in the mood for marketing plans and PowerPoints, so all is good.

I'm pretty sure I won't be watching the new Sherlock episodes before they start airing on PBS later this month; just can't be arsed to acquire them otherwise. I've managed to block Sherlock-tagged posts on tumblr, and people are being pretty good about tagging, so I shouldn't get too spoiled. Meanwhile (still fighting the cold, still tired in the evenings - hey, in the afternoons) I watched most of Doctor Who season 4 again - oh Donna, you are still wonderful, and I'm still angry at the end of the season, though I think it may be only in part because what happened didn't need to happen and in part because it just wasn't given enough time. This is a common problem, this "let's do a really big and horrible thing in the last five minutes because we had to spend way too much time earlier in the show blowing stuff up" issue. Or the equivalent for other distractions (like Norwegian scenery), or for simply Too Much Plot. I think I might have been okay with the Donna thing if it had been discussed more. Or reacted to more, or in other ways than the David Tennant Patented Determined and Sad Stare. Or if the show managed to meta-analyze the theme of forgetting better (since it turned up rather neatly in "The Day of the Doctor" as well as lots of other places). This is obviously too much to ask; I do realize that. And I do applaud them for ticking off as many boxes as they did in that whiz-bang double-parter (I am never not going to laugh at the opening credits whipping out triple the names they usually have time and space for).

I need to go play with a cat now.

June 2016

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