Star Lines
Saturday, September 13, 2003
  Uh-oh:  I went and got more chenille, and I think I'm obsessed now. :)

A chenille scarf, tote and the beginnings of a wrap

Scarf detail 
  Chenille!  People who crochet and knit will appreciate my delight in discovering for the first time how cool chenille yarn is.  I've always been slightly suspicious of it, remembering those nubbly, puff-ball shedding chenille bedspreads mom used to buy with the lame flowers or baskets in the center.  It also seemed more like a crafter fiber, not as serious as the traditional cottons, acrylics and wool blends I like to crochet, so I snubbed it.

Which was extremely stupid of me, because this stuff is fantastic.

As always on the hunt for a good bargain, I picked up some remnant skeins on sale last night [the Rag Shop, 6 for $7], intending to give them to Kath so she could use them for making Christmas projects.  Then I decided to use a little bit to make a teddy bear with the free pattern over at the Lion Brand Yarn website, mainly to see if the pattern was too hard for her.

I started chaining and noticed the texture, which is beautifully soft.  Like boucle, only much silky and lighter in weight.  I just played with a few rows, got into it, completely forgot about the pattern and a couple hours later I finished a four foot long scarf.  Because it's nubbly like boucle it works well with a bigger hook and loosely-stitched pattern -- I used an open V hdc stitch in straight rows.  My only complaint is why didn't someone tell me about this stuff before?  It's wonderful.  
  Not a Good Idea:  Publishers Weekly reports that has decided to digitize nonfiction titles in order to use keywords from the texts in searchable database, as well as provide its customers with access to about 20% of each book's content.

This new move, as well as the "Look Inside" excerpts has already created on many fiction titles (including mine) is being done without permission of the authors.  Publishers are "concerned" but not fighting the move, as Amazon is one of their biggest customers.  That places the ball in the authors' court now.  Someone will actually have to sue Amazon for violating fair use under copyright law before the legal aspect is decided.

This is just another in a long line of unethical business practices by  It's also rather ironic that while the music industry can sue twelve year olds for stealing music, Amazon continues to steal copyrighted material and no one does anything.  But then, it's good to be a major corporation in America, isn't it?  
Friday, September 12, 2003
  For Fun:  (rated PG-13 in the event some words are, um, misinterpreted.)  At one time or another, we've all pondered the answer to the eternal riddle "Why did the chicken cross the road?"  But how would some of today's genre authors answer this question of the ages?

Tom Clancy:  [The Red Rooster]  Yard Commander First Rank F. H. Leghorn was prepared for the arctic roadside conditions.  Two layers of oiled feathers enclosed him.  His father -- a true hero of the hen house, who had pecked to death those who had dared near the road -- had always made F.H. feel deeply ashamed.  Now he would make the crossing, and wreak his own vengeance on the other side, perhaps even enough to satisfy the thousands of roosters who had died before he was even born.

China Mieville:  An oily ribbon of filth, the road dribbled before him, odorous and puddlous, morbific and endless. I am debased. I am compelled to worship, oh, that I had never come to this extraordinary division of sides.  It was inevitable, a road like the purple-veined raddled length of an old whore's leg, stretched to pinch with her piggish toes the ancient coin purse from the sweat-stained trousers of her slumbering trick.  I must not do this. His arse itched, and he dug at it until something small burst against the tip of his beak.  He had to find his way across.

Laurell K. Hamilton:  I tucked my Glock into the snug harness concealed under my right armpit and adjusted the line of my leather jacket so that it flashed a few of my scars.  There were monsters on the other side of the road.  I knew it, they knew it.  Blood-sucking roosters in blue lace and black silk that should have made them look like hens (but didn't, damn him); lupo roosters that could turn into silvery wolves and devour a hen in a second (but wouldn't, damn him); and maybe something even worse that was slaughtering its way across the county (mine, mine, mine.)  All of them were waiting and gorgeous and hungry for me.  I shook back my long, glossy white feathers; aware of how I looked, confident as only I could be.  They don't call me the Cock Hunter for nothing.

John Grisham:  He'd be dead soon.  Forrest knew his granddaddy was going on nineteen years old, gravel choking his belly, his eyesight failing, his legs stiffer than his tail feathers.  Young pullets had tormented him for years, and were closing in for the final pecking, but it seemed the old strutter had outwitted them this time.  He'd sent word to Forrest, to come to the the road, to get to the other side.  He'd be waiting on the steps of the courthouse, his granddaddy had promised, waiting for him and the dawn that might never come.

(Use comments to add your favorite BSL author's answer, and while I'm not as famous, feel free to parody yours truly.) 
  Motherhood:  Interesting perspectives on pro writer mom parenting over at KCramer's weblog.  I can't imagine going through even one of the ordeals she's suffered just to attend some con, but to each her own.

I've never left my kids with a sitter.  As in ever, since the day they were born.  They've either been with me or their father their entire lives, with the exception of the time they spend at school (and I do count preschool as school; we did not dump them in some anonymous daycare.)   When Mike was hospitalized at age one, I was with him every moment, even when he was in ICU. 

Admittedly I'm hardcore about parenting, but my philosophy is, I gave birth to them, I'm taking care of them.  My kids come first, everyone and everything else comes second.  I don't apologize for that attitude, a hundred years ago no one would have blinked an eyelash over it.  It's the one thing I refuse to compromise on, because this is the only childhood my kids are ever going to have, and I'm going to be a daily part of it.

Now before anyone gets angry, I don't look down my nose at mothers who choose to use sitters, either.  We all have to raise our kids as best we can, and I'm very fortunate that my work allows me to care for my children the way I want.  Also, I've heard there are people who actually enjoy having a social life, whatever that is, in addition to being parents. :)  
  Another Bit of News:  Blade Dancer has nearly sold out the entire first print run (reserves included) and my publisher evidently has to go back to the printer and do a new run.  I am flattered and grateful, of course.  This sets up BD for paperback release in 2004.  Thanks to everyone who bought the book and made this happen. 
Thursday, September 11, 2003
  I wanted to write something meaningful for today.  I tried a couple of times last night, but the words came out angry and bitter and weary.  Everywhere I've looked, webloggers are attacking the president and our government and while most of what they say is probably correct, it doesn't help me with this day and these feelings.

This isn't a day for snappy commentary or political venting.  I think it's a day to pray for what we've lost, to appreciate what we have, and to work toward making a better future.  And if we're really to honor the memory of the people who died on September 11th, we should value the life we have.  We should create instead of destroy, love instead of hate, and help instead of hurt.

If you have a moment to do something like that today, I hope you will.  
Wednesday, September 10, 2003
  History for Sale:  If you've got $30 million dollars, you have a shot at owning Martin Luther King Jr.'s archives, according to Library Journal.  The article states that the Library of Congress got an earlier opportunity to buy, but refused to pay the King family's asking price of $20 million.  Makes me wonder what price Dr. King would have put on his work. 
  The Secret Handshake:  Yet another e-mail from a promising young published novelist (I have a collection now -- of e-mails, not novelists) wanting to know how I've gotten so many books published and why my books sell better than his.  This one insinuated that I must know someone in the industry who is helping me, because I couldn't be selling the way I am without it being rigged.  AKA the "secret handshake."

So, I've been found out.  I must confess all: my secret handshake is via an illicit romance; I've been flying up to New York every weekend and having a torrid love affair with a senior publishing executive who buys me expensive lingerie, feeds me on caviar and champagne, and fixes my sell-through.  As soon as his horrid wife dies, he's going to marry me, adopt our six illegitimate children and move us into his mansion, and I'll have servants and a Rolls and I'll never have to write again.


Anyway, I sent him my standard talk-to-your-agent response, because while my books are utter crap and I have no talent whatsoever, I try to be nice to people who are far superior writers and should be selling better than me.  You never know, someday they might be kind and put a quarter in my cup when I'm reduced to begging on the sidewalk outside Penguin Putnam.

The truth is, while cronyism is rampant, there really is no secret handshake in this business.  A few people get their foot in the door because of who they know, but that only gets them so far.  The writers who make it in this business do so because they're great storytellers, they work hard and they don't give up.  That's all. 
Tuesday, September 09, 2003
  Comments!  They're baaaaaaaaaaack, thanks YACCs. :) 
  Kids, Don't Try This at Home:  I put together the QIP last night, and discovered two things: 1) Never try to make satin and silk like each other, because they don't and 2) If you're going to make a six foot by five foot quilt back out of three separate silk panels, prepare to rip a few seams, 'cause they slither all over the damn place.

In my defense, I've never worked with a huge length of silk before (couldn't afford to.)  However, I recently nabbed about thirty yards of vintage silk for the price I'd pay for broadcloth, and decided it was high time to indulge in my fantasy of making one completely silk-backed quilt.  Silly me.  After six hours and much banging of brow into sewing machine, it's together (finally) but JM&J what a job.  I want to go over to Japan and personally apologize to every kimono maker in the country for thinking it would be easy to work with this stuff.

My next problem is the difference between satin, which is shiny and pretty but alot like a fabric version of cardboard, and the silk, which is snaky and alive and has the consistency of one-ply Kleenex.  One resists my needle, the other runs away from it.  Basting these two fabrics together was hard, quilting them together is going to be a nightmare.

Still, the lightness of the quilt is unbelievable, as the fabrics only weigh about a quarter of what cotton does.  It seems to float on the frame.  Sleeping with it will feel like you've snuggled up under a cloud.  And with the leftover yardage, I think I have enough to make a queen size quilt entirely out of silk -- if I survive making this one. :) 
Monday, September 08, 2003
  Learn From Your Betters:  Laura Miller has a provocative little op-ed over at (registration required, I think) about what reading books does or doesn't do for us book lovers.  Lots of speculation on superiority of mind through quality reading and such, which bores me to tears, although I thought her dismount was well done.

The Mortimer Adler quote ''we can learn only from our 'betters'" nearly made me spew tea, until I saw it had been unearthed from sixty years of literary mothballs.  Then it clicked.  This is the one thing you don't learn unless you go to college, I think, or obsess over some Sacred Cow writer to the point of emulation.  I admire a number of writers, not as many as I used to now that I've found out what they're like as human beings, but even as a struggling writer I never considered them my betters, just more experienced and/or different from me.

This might be one of the biggest stone walls to getting published.  Aspiring writers who measure themselves against their idols and perceive themselves as coming up short lack confidence to begin with, and quickly lose faith in themselves as they gaze up periscope (or, more precisely, up pedestal.)  They must go into the bookstores, see all those packed shelves and feel about two inches tall.

Before I got published, I used to go into bookstores, look at the shelves, and think, "Okay, my books will go there, and there, and there."  Conceited, perhaps, but now I go into bookstores and my books are there, there and there.

Admiration for someone else's efforts should be disconnected from your feelings toward your own, or you'll never be satisfied or happy.  You'll need constant reassurance and you'll always be suspicious of what praise you do get.  The only person who is your better is the future you. 
  Now that FTP is working:  Two things I accomplished this weekend --

Finished Sampler Quilt

Anthology Cover Art

The new quilt in progress (see sidebar) is a hand pieced Ohio star pattern in pretty pastel satins, which I will be batting, backing and basting tonight. 
Sunday, September 07, 2003
  A Bit of News:  My AH short story "A Matter of Consultation" will be part of Eric Flint's "Ring of Fire" 1632 anthology, due to be released in January 2004.  Eric tells me Web Subscriptions over at will have the first portion of the anthology, including my story, available in e-book form by October, for around $5.00.  That's a nice alternative for folks who can't afford the hardcover book price. 
  Kids Crack Me Up Department:  From my daughter Katherine, when I handed her a slice of turkey bacon to taste-test:

"I need a plate, Mom. I don't know where my hand has been." 
  Doing My Part:  AOL and a couple of other entities are broadcasting the controversy surrounding Mel Gibson's new film, "The Passion" which details the death of Christ.  Many Jewish religious leaders and groups are speaking out against the film, as it contains scenes that are evidently anti-Semitic, and they worry that it may create new rifts between traditional Catholics and Jews.

I was not planning to see the film, as I don't consider the subject matter appropriate as entertainment.  The death of Jesus Christ has enormous meaning to those who follow his teachings, and it's not something I want to see used to sell theater tickets.  As for the anti-Semitic aspects, they simply clinch it for me.  I don't give my money to bigots.

You all have to decide for yourselves, naturally, but I hope you'll think about it.  True people of faith -- any faith -- don't use tactics of hatred against another faith to promote their own beliefs.  Those are the tools of terrorists. 
  Still Awake:  E-mail has been on the heavy side lately, and to give Jessie (my unpaid, uncomplaining friend-assistant) a break I took reader mail back for the weekend.  Many nice things said about Blade, TKB and GTTC.  Hardly any hate mail and what there was wasn't very interesting; just the standard, badly spelled two liners.  It's been at least a month since some superior life form has written to tell me in excruciating detail how much better they personally could write my books.  I always like reading the six-page-long ones; they're just so damn cute when they explain why I will never be compared to Heinlein.  Why I would want to be no one's tackled yet, but hey, I live in hope.

I think I'll hit the sack and try to tackle the Sandman one more time.  The kids want to make breakfast tomorrow morning and I need to be bright of eye and bushy of tail for that.  Who came up with that saying, God, that's disgusting . . .  
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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