Star Lines
Saturday, February 08, 2003
  Pablo Quilts:  Since the digital is in the repair shop, I took a couple of still shots of the Picasso quilt top so you could see what I mean about how mind-blowing and beautiful it is (or will be, once I restore it and get rid of the wrinkles.)

100% silk

For those of you who asked, I paid under $10 for this. 
  Why Didn't Someone Tell Me?  Dave Barry, who is irrefutably one of the best writers and the funniest man in South Florida, has been keeping a weblog.  Next thing you know, George Clooney will start one.  
Friday, February 07, 2003
  Open Mouth, Reinsert Foot:  More Westfahlout over at Locus online.

**Update: I e-mailed Mark Kelly and told him what I thought of this.  Probably not wise, considering, but I've had enough. 
Thursday, February 06, 2003
  Picasso in Silk:  I invested a very small amount of money to bid on two crazy quilts that were listed as 1940's and in fairly dismal shape from the fuzzy pictures on eBay.  I had hoped to harvest some fabric for another restoration job, as a number of the patches looked pretty large.  I won the auction and the package arrived today, and I opened the box and nearly had a heart attack.  One of the quilts is covered with intricate hand embroidery and while 25% of the silks have shattered, the handwork is completely intact, as is the backing and the binding.  It'll need some work but no way am I cutting this baby up.

The other is a quilt top, not a finished quilt, but it's completely made of pure silk, and has only about 10% damage to be repaired.  Each crazy square is sashed in palest (almost white) pink, and all the patches with the exception of three are solid color, which is also pretty rare.  Aside from the monetary value, it's also the most beautiful abstract-art type crazy quilt I've ever seen -- it looks like what Picasso would have done if he had sewed instead of painted.  I'm going to have a friend date it for me.

I don't feel guilty for getting an unbelievable bargain; I bought these pretty much blind.  I just wish people on eBay would do a little research into what they're selling -- and take better pictures.  When these are restored, they'll be worth (roughly) sixty times what I paid for them. 
  A Good Move:  I liked hearing that Ingram plans to expand their Spanish-language titles in this article over at Publishers Weekly online.  I grew up with Cubans here in south Florida, have many hispanic friends now and I know many have been frustrated over the lack of titles available in their native language in stores and libraries.  With Hispanics now constituting the largest minority group in the United States, I see it as a positive step toward welcoming new readers to the ranks, versus keeping them out due to language barriers.  
Wednesday, February 05, 2003
  I'm a What?  Barnes & Noble has apparently given me a new job as "editor" of Blade Dancer instead of author.  Now, I admit, I did quite a bit of editing on that particularly novel, but I did the writing, too, all by my lonesome. . .  
  On a Happier Note:  My friend Robert, who knows what a pen junkie I am, recently introduced me to HisNibs, an online seller of fountain pens, inks and many other writing tools.  Since then I have been happily searching through the inventory of gorgeous pens and making some purchases, and can report that the service provided and quality of the products is outstanding.  Levengers, you have lost my ink business forever.

Norman Haase, the proprieter of the site, kindly invited me and some other writers to contribute some thoughts on our obsessions with fountain pens, which you can view here.  If you're in the market for fine writing instruments, inks, or just want a neat gift for the writer in your life, stop in and check it out. 
  Upsetting News:  A family member has elected to go into the hospital for ECT treatments as medication and conventional therapy have not helped with a bout of severe depression -- undergoing the first round of it now as I write this.  The news was probably held back from me because I am not an advocate of administering electrical current to someone's brain as a treatment for anything except felony homicide.  I thought of jumping in my car and rushing to the facility to do some shouting at whatever genius prescribed this but then I'd probably end up in the zapper with a bite retainer in my mouth.

Mental illness and handicaps have hit every generation in my family going back to the Civil War, and I've wrestled with clinical depression myself a few times.  I'm not dismissing the reality or the dangers involved with the condition.  I'm just, I don't know -- furious that ECT was even considered, much less prescribed.  I know it has a certain retro-trendy fascination for mental health care professionals who think they can cure what is basically incurable.  ECT does seem to work on most patients, and there are probably not as many abuses of the treatment as there were back in the One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest days.  Still, these eager beavers who use it never talk about the long term effects and very real prospect of brain damage, or the high incidents of resulting death (one in one thousand, last time I checked.)

So I get to sit here and seethe while one of my family is brain fried.  Neither of us are in a fun place. 
Tuesday, February 04, 2003
  Clan Kelly:  Someone (you know who you are) asked if I'm related to Mark R. Kelly, the editor of the online version of Locus mag -- sorry, to my knowledge, we're not family.  A shame, because if we were, I could smack him for publishing that wretched essay by Westfahl.  I'm pretty sure I'm also not related to actor/dancer Gene Kelly, actress/Princess Grace Kelly, Australian Ned Kelly, romance author Carla Kelly, rapper R. Kelly, Maryland Senator Francis X. Kelly or the bank robber Machine Gun Kelly either.

The name Kelly is the simplified form of O'Kelly (or Ó Ceallaigh/Ceallach in Irish) and dates back to the tenth century, when my ancestors first started getting into all kinds of trouble over in Ireland.  The "O" was usually dropped after immigrating to the U.S., which I imagine a bunch of them had to do in a hurry.  Some people believe all Kellys came from the same family, the O'Kelly sept of Ui Maine, but there were actually a bunch of different sources for the name, all spread far apart and non-related.  Today Kelly is the second most popular surname in Ireland (Murphy is #1) and according to the 1990 census, the #74 most popular surname in America. 
  Myopic Printers:  A couple of copies of The Deepest Edge arrived today via a friend, who pointed out an interesting cover blooper -- on one copy, the embossing of the title and my pseudonym is off about 1/2", which lends a rather jarring echo effect to the front of the book.  I'm told embossing is done to covers in sheets before the covers are cut apart and glued to the body of the book, so I assume there's at least a dozen more of these out there somewhere.  I count my lucky stars, however, that I didn't get a lady with three arms on the cover, as one publisher gave Christina Dodd -- my romance readers would swear I was trying to pass off an Omorr as a heroine. 
  Huitt:  I always get a kick out of writers who portray medical examiners as skinny, bald, myopic nerds or creepy lurking Igor-type ghouls (all inevitably male.)  The first forensic tech I ever worked with was a female who was gorgeous and had half the hospital staff panting after her.  She was a native Californian, loved to surf and read romance novels, and would always ask me if I'd read the latest Fern Michaels or Laurie McBain.  She adored Yul Brenner for some reason (she saw West World and Future World like a thousand times.)  She taught me how to clean up and pack a body for the funeral home and treated everyone that came into her exam room, living or dead, with cheerful compassion.

I was thinking about her last night as my medical examiner character had to make a first appearance in the WIP, and I decided to pay tribute to her via Gray Huitt, my surfer dude ME.  He's blond, he's cheerful, and utterly incapable of lurking, and I love him.  Although this puts a bit of a kink in my outline, he's also going to end up playing a bigger part in book two.  Can't be helped; the minute I put him in a scene with Terri, he got very interesting, and he's the perfect contrast for Cort.  Now if I could just stop planning book two long enough to finish writing book one, that would be good too...  
Monday, February 03, 2003
  Cross Thoughts:  Katherine spooked me first today when I read her post about Columbia, then Zette hit the send e-mail button almost at the exact same instant I did, and we crossed nearly identical thoughts in cyberspace from opposite ends of the country.  I know I'm not psychic ladies, should I dare fate and go to the new hairdresser next week, or should I stay home, hide under the bed and save myself from being dyed purple again?  
  Respect:  A national tragedy that involves the loss of life should bring out the best in us.  I saw that on September 11th, when good people risked their lives and died trying to save others and then others went in and spent all those months in hell to recover those who didn't make it out alive.  That made me proud of my country.

The loss of the crew of the Columbia is no less a national tragedy.  Good people risked their lives for something they believed in and died for it.  And while some pompous idiots see this as yet another opportunity to grab some spotlight, I can't.  I can't dance on fresh graves, either, but that's me.

I've worked hundreds of accident sites over the years.  When you recover a body from a burned-out vehicle, you don't run your mouth.  You do the work in silence and sometimes you weep when you do it.  You don't bitch about the cost, or the inconvenience, or wonder how many more accidents you'll have to deal with.  You don't tell their families how it could have been prevented or who is to blame.  You bring in the dead and take care of them with respect.  And if you believe in something, you pray.  That's all.  
Sunday, February 02, 2003
  Terri & Cort: (rated R for language, kids, go out and play)  As usual, my secondary characters in the WIP are igniting all kinds of sparks, so I'll probably have to get the hose out when I edit.  Like Raven and Kalen from the new trilogy, they're introduced in book one but I have to keep them away from each other until book two, when they'll have center stage.  Here's an excerpt of their first appearance together, so you can see what I mean:

Excerpt from Into the Fire by Jessica Hall
Uncorrected First Draft

Terri took the predicted chewing out from Pellerin alone and in silence, only speaking up when required to answer.  Like the press conference, it had not gone well, mainly because no one could get in touch with J.D., and the hospital still hadn’t called back with any prognosis on Sable.

“I don’t care if her brains are leaking out of her ears,” the Captain said toward the end of his rant.  “You get on over to Charity, have them slap on whatever bandaids she needs and bring her back here for booking.  We do this one strictly by the numbers, and no one talks to the press unless they clear it through me.  I want a full progress report typed on my desk in two hours.  Are you straight on this, Sergeant?”

She’d have to get J.D. to do the reports, if she could pry his hands off their suspect long enough for him to type them.  “Yes, sir.”

Pellerin’s phone rang for the fifth time since Terri had entered his office, and he gave it a disgusted look.  “Go.”

She escaped the station house and headed for her car, lighting a cigarette on the way.  She’d been meaning to try to quit again since the beginning of the year, but nicotine withdrawal turned her into a total bitch, and she figured she was doing the world a favor by waiting until she went on vacation.

Only now she wouldn’t get any down time until they cleared the LeClare case – which would be a three ring circus for the next six months, at the very least.  And then there was the very strong possibility that she might have to break in a new partner.

Goodbye, vacation.  She took a deep drag and then released the acrid smoke from her lungs on a sigh.  She really did need to quit, and soon.  I hope she’s worth it, J.D.


She swung around, expecting to see her partner.  “Where the fu—” she cut herself off as soon as she met green eyes instead of blue.  Every emotional wall inside her went into full lockdown.  “That was quick. ” As a couple of uniforms stopped to chat outside the main station entrance a few feet away, she took another drag from her cigarette.  “You appropriate a plane for yourself, Marshall?”

Chief Fire Marshall Cortland Gamble looked the way he usually did – pressed, polished, and pissed-off.  He was a few inches taller than J.D., and a little broader in the chest, and his hair was brown instead of black, but otherwise he could have been his brother’s twin.  All except the expression on his face, and his mouth.  The expression said he ate smartass female detectives for breakfast, but the mouth said he’d start at the toes and work his way up.

Stop thinking about his mouth.

“Come here.”  He took her arm and hauled her around the side of the building, out of hearing range.  “What's going on? Where is my brother?”

“Easy on the jacket.  It’s dry-clean only.”  She eased herself from his grip.  “J.D.’s over at the hospital, getting our suspect patched up.”  She glanced at her watch.  “Why don’t I have him call you when he gets back?”

“Why aren’t you with him?”

“Because we’re not joined at the hip.”  She’d taken a lot of official crap for J.D. on this case already, and she wasn’t going to take it from his big brother.  “But if you’ve got a problem with how we handle our cases, Chief, you can speak to Captain Pellerin.”  Unable to resist, she took another drag and exhaled a little smoke in his face.

“I intend to.”  Cort plucked the cigarette from her hand, dropped it, and ground it out under his shoe.  “This woman, Isabel Duchesne – did she do it?”

“She says no, and last time I checked, everyone was still innocent until proven guilty.”  She had an urge to light another one, but he’d probably rip up the entire pack.  “But yeah, it looks like she’s the killer.”

“Fuck.”  He looked around for a minute, as if an answer was hovering somewhere near.  “I want an update on everything you’ve got.”

“I want a Mazerati, myself.  Something in a nice cherry red, with lots of gold detailing.  See you around, Chief.”  Feeling stupid, she pushed past him, heading for the parking lot and the quickest means of escape.

He caught up to her.  “This isn’t funny, Terri.” 

“Hey, my boss is all over my ass like a bad tattoo, your brother is about to trash his career, and I’ve got a murder suspect to book and a case to solve.  Believe me, laughter is the farthest thing from my mind.”  She pulled her keys from her trouser pocket and fumbled with them until she got the driver’s side door of her car unlocked.  “And I’m sure you’ll understand that I’m a little too damn busy to hold your hand right now and tell you your little brother’s going to be all right.”

When she opened the door, he put out a hand and slammed it shut.  “My brother is not getting involved in this shit.”

She lifted her brows.  “Here’s a news flash for you: I tried to talk your brother into ditching this case.  He wouldn’t hear of it.  J.D. wants to be up to his ears in this shit, and that’s where he's staying.  But if you think you can pull him out, have at it.”

“I’ll have the case transferred to my arson task force; it’s our jurisdiction anyway.”

“You do that.”  The cell phone in her car rang, and she nudged him aside to open the door and answer it.  “Vincent.”  She listened as the dispatcher relayed the latest news from the hospital, and closed her eyes briefly, wishing she could slam her head into something.  Sorry, J.D., I did what I could.  “Got it.  Relay this to Captain Pellerin, tell him I recommend we issue an APB for Duchesne woman.  Right.  Keep me posted.”  She ended the call.

“Is it J.D.?”

“Sort of.  Our suspect, Sable Duchesne, has disappeared from Charity hospital.”  She met Cort’s gaze.  “And so has your brother.” 
  Creative Questions:  A few writing friends have mentioned that they're having trouble coming up with good ideas for new projects now that they're through with NaNoWriMo, so I'll throw out a couple of questions that should jump start some engines:

If you could be anyone, in any time period, and do anything anywhere you'd like, who/when/what/where would you be?

The dog just dug up a silver box with strange markings on it in the back yard -- what does it do (to you or the dog)?

If you could strand yourself with someone on a deserted island, who would it be and what would happen?

Someone leaves a large purple egg the size of a basketball at your front door, and now it's hatching -- what happens next?

You've just found out you're the only living being on this planet, and the rest of us are robots -- now what do you do?

Someone leaves this message on your answering machine: "The world ends tomorrow, call me as soon as you get in."

You open your car door and the body of an exotic dancer falls out.  In his/her hands are a gun and a gym bag filled with half a million dollars.

The person you secretly had a terrible crush on in high school comes to your door, with an arrest warrant charging you with first degree murder.

You inherit an ugly old ceramic statue from your dear departed Aunt Agnes, drop and break it, and find an old map rolled up inside.  The map is of the eastern United States (or country of your choice) and is marked with a series of red X's near the coast.

When you yell at the ants you've found invading the sugar bowl in your kitchen, they stop, listen to you, and leave.
Adventures at the KeyBoard

10/28/2001 - 11/04/2001 / 11/04/2001 - 11/11/2001 / 11/11/2001 - 11/18/2001 / 11/18/2001 - 11/25/2001 / 11/25/2001 - 12/02/2001 / 12/02/2001 - 12/09/2001 / 12/09/2001 - 12/16/2001 / 12/16/2001 - 12/23/2001 / 12/23/2001 - 12/30/2001 / 12/30/2001 - 01/06/2002 / 01/06/2002 - 01/13/2002 / 01/13/2002 - 01/20/2002 / 01/20/2002 - 01/27/2002 / 01/27/2002 - 02/03/2002 / 02/03/2002 - 02/10/2002 / 02/10/2002 - 02/17/2002 / 02/17/2002 - 02/24/2002 / 02/24/2002 - 03/03/2002 / 03/03/2002 - 03/10/2002 / 03/10/2002 - 03/17/2002 / 03/17/2002 - 03/24/2002 / 03/24/2002 - 03/31/2002 / 03/31/2002 - 04/07/2002 / 04/07/2002 - 04/14/2002 / 04/14/2002 - 04/21/2002 / 04/21/2002 - 04/28/2002 / 04/28/2002 - 05/05/2002 / 05/05/2002 - 05/12/2002 / 05/12/2002 - 05/19/2002 / 05/19/2002 - 05/26/2002 / 05/26/2002 - 06/02/2002 / 06/02/2002 - 06/09/2002 / 06/09/2002 - 06/16/2002 / 06/16/2002 - 06/23/2002 / 06/23/2002 - 06/30/2002 / 06/30/2002 - 07/07/2002 / 07/07/2002 - 07/14/2002 / 07/14/2002 - 07/21/2002 / 07/21/2002 - 07/28/2002 / 07/28/2002 - 08/04/2002 / 08/04/2002 - 08/11/2002 / 08/11/2002 - 08/18/2002 / 08/18/2002 - 08/25/2002 / 08/25/2002 - 09/01/2002 / 09/01/2002 - 09/08/2002 / 09/08/2002 - 09/15/2002 / 09/15/2002 - 09/22/2002 / 09/22/2002 - 09/29/2002 / 09/29/2002 - 10/06/2002 / 10/06/2002 - 10/13/2002 / 10/13/2002 - 10/20/2002 / 10/20/2002 - 10/27/2002 / 10/27/2002 - 11/03/2002 / 11/03/2002 - 11/10/2002 / 11/10/2002 - 11/17/2002 / 11/17/2002 - 11/24/2002 / 11/24/2002 - 12/01/2002 / 12/01/2002 - 12/08/2002 / 12/08/2002 - 12/15/2002 / 12/15/2002 - 12/22/2002 / 12/22/2002 - 12/29/2002 / 12/29/2002 - 01/05/2003 / 01/05/2003 - 01/12/2003 / 01/12/2003 - 01/19/2003 / 01/19/2003 - 01/26/2003 / 01/26/2003 - 02/02/2003 / 02/02/2003 - 02/09/2003 / 02/09/2003 - 02/16/2003 / 02/16/2003 - 02/23/2003 / 02/23/2003 - 03/02/2003 / 03/02/2003 - 03/09/2003 / 03/09/2003 - 03/16/2003 / 03/16/2003 - 03/23/2003 / 03/23/2003 - 03/30/2003 / 03/30/2003 - 04/06/2003 / 04/06/2003 - 04/13/2003 / 04/13/2003 - 04/20/2003 / 04/20/2003 - 04/27/2003 / 04/27/2003 - 05/04/2003 / 05/04/2003 - 05/11/2003 / 05/11/2003 - 05/18/2003 / 05/18/2003 - 05/25/2003 / 05/25/2003 - 06/01/2003 / 06/01/2003 - 06/08/2003 / 06/08/2003 - 06/15/2003 / 06/15/2003 - 06/22/2003 / 06/22/2003 - 06/29/2003 / 06/29/2003 - 07/06/2003 / 07/06/2003 - 07/13/2003 / 07/13/2003 - 07/20/2003 / 07/20/2003 - 07/27/2003 / 07/27/2003 - 08/03/2003 / 08/03/2003 - 08/10/2003 / 08/10/2003 - 08/17/2003 / 08/17/2003 - 08/24/2003 / 08/24/2003 - 08/31/2003 / 08/31/2003 - 09/07/2003 / 09/07/2003 - 09/14/2003 / 09/14/2003 - 09/21/2003 / 09/21/2003 - 09/28/2003 / 09/28/2003 - 10/05/2003 / 10/05/2003 - 10/12/2003 / 10/12/2003 - 10/19/2003 / 10/19/2003 - 10/26/2003 / 10/26/2003 - 11/02/2003 / 11/02/2003 - 11/09/2003 / 11/09/2003 - 11/16/2003 /

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