I got in a very old, thick quilt from a fellow conservationist as a belated holiday gift, and the thing weighs about twenty pounds (pictures will have to wait, my digital camera is acting up.) She tagged it with a note saying she thought it was a batted with a wool blanket but that she would leave the fun of dissecting it to me.
I really don't have time right now for quilt detecting, but the unusual weight made me decide to take a peek today. The quilt was exceptionally well sewn with tiny handstitches and what I think is old fashioned button cording instead of thread, so it took about thirty minutes to open a seam wide enough to have a preview look inside.
The top cover is made of feedsacks, which the quilter appears to have placed over a full-sized woven cotten thermal sheet, but that's not all. Under the thermal sheet is another, fully intact white work quilt (no patchwork, just two sheets of bleached muslin quilted together over natural cotton batting, on top of the final bottom layer of unbleached muslin -- six layers in all. This baby isn't just warm, it's nuclear-blast proof. If I separate it, I'll have two fully intact quilts, one already batted and finished, plus a blanket.
What I can't figure out is why the quilter chose to pack so much inside this quilt. None of the layers are worn enough to merit recovering, so all I can think is she made it because she didn't have any wool blankets, and perhaps lived in an extremely cold part of the country. Because it's such an unusual specimen, I may only separate a corner of it and leave the rest intact. I think it's the kind of oddity that would be interesting to a lot of conservationists, and one of these days I may get to a quilters' convention.
Idiot Quote of the Day:
As per request:
"...I have strong female characters, and in almost all situations and books it is the girls who save the day after the golden heroes have tripped up miserably over their pointy-toed shoes and don't know what to do next."
-- fantasy author Sara Douglass
I read this as all men are clumsy blondes with bad taste in shoes. Uh-huh. You really need to get out of the house more, babe.
WV Surgeons Strike:
The media is referring to the surgeons involved in this story
as being on "a leave of absence" or "walkout" but let's call it what it really is: a strike. And while I am sympathetic to the high cost of praticing medicine in certain states, the fact remains that patients don't go on strike. They do, however, die without proper treatment.
Becoming a surgeon costs a huge amount of time, money, and committment. I know because minus the kids, the writing, and my arthritis, that's what I'd be doing with my life. Unlike most other professions, I think the medical field is as much a calling as it is a job. I doubt anyone who specializes in cardio-thoracic surgery does it out of the goodness of their hearts -- surgeons make fantastic money -- but when it comes down to a choice between income and people's lives, the patients absolutely must come first.
It's all involved with the oath medical practitioners are sworn to uphold: Do No Harm.
A strike draws media attention, and doubtless the doctors involved in this one thought that would help their cause. Perhaps it will. There are other ways to handle this problem, though, ways that don't put patients at risk. Maybe they're not as fast, or as satisfying as getting all this TV and newspaper coverage, but they're not lethal.
I got a notebook of mine from the medical shelf to refresh my memory about clinical psychosis (hard to fake) and found a page where I'd written a list of insults -- some I recognized as my own. For the life of me, I can't remember why I wrote these down, but my best guess would be that I was studying the various insults for their wording and rhythm.
Funny, pigs don't turn into men when they drink.
What happened to your face? Did you step on a rake?
I'm not playing hard to get. I am hard to get. (mine)
Q: Do you come here often?
A: Not if you do.
Q: How dare you call me stupid?
A: I'm sorry, I didn't know it was a secret.
What's your problem? I mean, besides your face, your personality, and the way you smell? (mine)
Success hasn't gone to his head, just his mouth.
Your brain waves aren't making it all the way to the beach.
Did someone leave your cage open?
I worship the ground that awaits you.
I'd rather pass a kidney stone. (not sure, but I think that one's mine too)
Perhaps your whole purpose in life is to serve as a warning to others.
Please breathe the other way. You're bleaching my hair.
The going got weird and you turned pro.
Oh, God, look at you. Was anyone else hurt in the accident?
The Annual Nonsense:
If I could change anything in the past, I'd go back and never, never join SFWA for the thirty-odd days I was a member before I hastily resigned and got away from those people. Why, you ask? Because it's Nebula [kissing butt sound] nominations time, and certain people [the kissers] use old membership lists and directories [of the kissees] to beg for votes.
And Yours Truly [swallowing the ibuprofen] is still listed somewhere.
Happily I don't get many "read this and vote for me" book copies sent to me via snail mail anymore, but the e-mails, sweet Jesus. I used to read them for the entertainment value -- I mean, the various schmooze techniques can be truly hilarious -- and I never failed to get one from some crass idiot who tried to say something nice about romance writers while choking over the "r" word. Like I need the validation. Please. Watch me dry my tears with my next advance check from Onyx.
Just to give RWA equal boot in the backside time, I'm letting my membership run out this month. The organization and the huge machine that it's become doesn't work for me and really never has, to be honest. I know I don't fit in with them, and I'm done with trying. I'd rather take the $85 I pay for RWA dues every year and donate it to Forward Motion or another charity. Will do more good that way.
So as of January 30th, I will belong to zero pro writer organizations. All my time will be divided among raising my children, helping my clan, and writing. After all the career-related stress from last year, 2003 will be like an extended picnic in the park. Works for me.
Hasta La Vista, Deadline:
Corrected copy-edit on TKB is done and winging its way overnight back to New York, under deadline, and I am going to be unbearably smug about it for the rest of the day. Hey, you
try revising a full novel and
correcting a copy-edit and
proofing a galley while writing two new books with both kids at home during Christmas and New Year's, and see how much fun it is. Could the publishers have possibly flung any more work at me? Never fails.
Two more deadlines to go, then I get a week off for being a good writer. I hope.
And Now, for Something Completely Different:
I pulled a real golf ball out of the engine of my new car today. This is odd because 1) I don't play golf; 2) I'm pretty sure the car doesn't moonlight as a caddy and 3) judging by the blackened condition, the ball has been in there for some time. Ford doing something new with the exhaust system? Search me.
(Jessica Hall Semi-Spoiler)China announced their plans
to launch a manned vehicle into space sometime in the near future. This is eerie because it's very close to a running plot thread I invented for the new romance novels being released this year. I think we should keep an eye on this whole deal, as I can pretty much guarantee that the Chinese aren't going into space just to show off their shiny new rockets. That and I'm starting to wonder if I should apply for Ms. Cleo's job.
Just to Be Fair:
My own idiot moment of the day -- everyone who doesn't like the President has been calling him "Dubya" on the web, and I swear to God, I had no idea what that meant. I didn't ask because I figured it was some new trendy slang or something and I didn't want to sound like an idiot (hint, hint, Mr. Chouinard.) The lightbulb finally crackled on today: Dubya is for W., the President's middle initial. Okay, now I get it. Can I keep pronouncing W. as "double-you", though?
Idiot Quote of the Day:
I'm getting quite a collection of silly SF and romance quotes, so I thought I would share -- why should I have all the chuckles, right?
"So why is SFF as a literary genre doomed to failure? Quite simply, it’s the Fans." -- Minor Futurism: Where SFF is Headed
by Gabe Chouinard
Sure, naturally it can't be the writers. (shaking head)
Along with writing two books under deadline, I'm working on revising the third novel in my new trilogy for Onyx. Revisions are part of every pro writer's job, and no matter how much you hate to change your work, you're going to have to deal with them. I actually like revisions -- it's interesting to see what doesn't work for the editor/copyeditor, and I always want the book to be the best it can be before it hits print. I think it's funny when a writer spouts off about how we don't need the publishing underlings to tell us how to write. Geez, the day I get that big a cabeza, somebody smack me in it.
I never went to school or workshops or anything to learn how to be a writer, so my methods are pretty basic:
1. I write straight through and finish the novel, then I give myself a break from it (a week if possible, 24 hours if not.)
2. I do a spell check/correction, then print out and read the finished novel once, straight through, and make notes on the pages.
3. I hit the computer, make the noted changes, and print out the novel.
4. I read the manuscript a second time (I usually miss some stupid typo the spell checker doesn't pick up), print out whatever corrected pages are needed and mail it off.
The only problem is when I linger over making the first notes on the pages -- sometimes I have scenes that bug me, or that don't work, and I get snagged on them, reading them over and over. I'm getting better at not doing this, though, and have been able to shove myself out the pits of doubt when I do stumble.
For those of you working on revising a story or novel, here are some articles on the subject:
How to Revise a Novel
by Holly Lisle -- Holly has the most logical and method I've seen so far. She goes step by step and gets you to ask yourself really good questions during the process.
My Top Secret Editing Method
by Lee Zion -- I thought Lee's method of word-search-and-destroy was pretty helpful. God knows I need a hit list like that.
Fear and Loathing...and Revisions
by Karen Troxel -- Fairly general, but it seems I'm not the only one doing revisions this way. One comment -- I write my manuscripts in submission format. Just a personal preference.
Oh Bloody Hell:
Besides obsessing over whether my daughter was going to get thrown by a horse today while trail riding for her birthday with the ex (she didn't, she's fine, I'm still a wreck), I went to put my rings away and discovered the cats found my jewelry box. They found it and decided to knock it off the shelf I didn't think they could reach. The impact broke the box lid in half and shattered two glass bead bracelets, and tangled every single necklace I own. Also, one of my grandmother's rings has vanished (would one of them actually eat
a ring?) and I'm still picking earring backs out of the rug. I know, on the scale of things it's really a minor pet-owner annoyance, and it's not like I own the Crown Jewels or anything, but I loved that box, and it was one of a kind, can't be replaced.
I love my felines, too, but honestly, sometimes I think they plan this stuff just to test me. They definitely know they're in the doghouse -- all three of them have been hiding in Mike's room since this afternoon.
Another Story Bites the Dust:
(rated PG-13 for language) I had to scrap the web site story for January; the spider lady isn't quite right yet. But as soon as I tossed out the old, this scene popped into my head:
Excerpt from Back to Back by S.L. Viehl
I woke up when they threw the big guy in my crawl.
He was in pretty bad shape – gashed, bleeding, his right arm at a funny angle – but he landed on his knees and was back up in two seconds. He went for the door first, took a heavy jolt, then staggered back toward me.
“Don’t do that again,” I said, and sat up as he whipped around to face me. “Two stuns will set off an alarm, and then the guards will come in and kick your ass until you’re unconscious.”
He stepped out of the shadows, but they stuck to him. No, he was naturally dark – blue-skinned, a really pretty shade of sapphire. His eyes were completely white.
“Locega Jorenhai?” He had a low, deep voice, and used both of his six-fingered hands in a fluid motion.
“Sorry, no.” I plucked a piece of my bedding from the hair hanging in my eyes and palmed a chunk of stone in my other hand. “You speak stanTerran?”
His spooky eyes studied me, from my bare soles to the little scar on my nose. “Te-her-hran?”
“That’s right.” I spit on the floor of the crawl in emphasis. “Terran.”
He looked up at the crawl roof and muttered something under his breath. Something that sounded mean.
“I’m thrilled to meet you, too.” I scooted back down into my mound of dead grass and pointed to the one Gfrra had occupied until yesterday, when he’d taken one blow too many on the sands. I didn’t thinking I’d miss his snoring, but I did. “That pile is yours.”
Big Blue started pacing the length of the crawl, studying every crack in the stones. I curled up and tried to ignore him, but after an hour I sighed. He’d be at it all night if I didn’t do something. I got up and planted myself in his path.
He stopped and looked down at me. “Junia’arral tobereno?”
“Time for bed.” I pointed to his mound, then closed my eyes and tilted my head for a second. “Sleep.”
He made another quick gesture with his hands and went around me. I waited a beat, turned, and hit him at the base of the skull with my rock. He went down like a shuttle over Akkabarr, hit the dirt, and didn’t move again.
I checked for a pulse – if I’d killed him, the guards would be pissed, so I’d have to make it look like he’d done himself – but he was still alive. Strong pulse, strong body.
The guards especially loved breaking the strong ones, poor bastard.
I tucked my rock back in the little niche I’d dug out in the dirt floor, dropped onto my grass bed and slept.
Public Service Announcement:
Since some idiot is on yet another hate campaign:
1. I am not DAW author S.L. Farrell. Yes, I can prove it.
2. I am not a man. Yes, I can prove it.
3. I do not post reviews at all -- not on Amazon.com or any other bookseller, using mine or any other name. In fact, anonymous reviews are some of the reasons I boycott Amazon.com. You can try verifying that through Amazon.com, but they'll probably tell you to kiss off because they protect the little morons who actually do this.
4. I don't know Robert Stanek, and I don't read his books. If someone is trashing him or his work, he has my sympathies. Had that done to me more times than I can count.
5. When you send threatening or hate e-mails to me, I'm going to report you to your ISP provider and, if necessary, the authorities. My advice is to stop doing it before you get your ass bounced off the internet or thrown in jail.