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January 2017

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Jan. 17th, 2017

bear by san

how i learned to stop worrying and ignore the internet.

You there.

New writer.

Freshly-published debut author.

Get off tumblr, stop worrying about what people think, and go write your next book.

Okay look, I'm not saying that one should not consider thoughtful criticism of one's work, or that one should isolate one's self from the community. I'm not saying that criticism has no value. I'm not saying be an inconsiderate asshole.

Don't be an inconsiderate asshole. Or try not to: we all fail that one sometimes, too. And not just to our mothers.

I'm saying that there are people out there who want to make you write their book for them, and that's impossible, because nobody can write their book except for them. So when they start reading as if they are measuring every single book against the perfect book in their head, well--they will never find it.

Because as all writers know, the only way to get that book--the book that speaks with your own voice--is to write it.

And then fail, because every book is a failure in some way, even if only its author knows it.

They're never quite perfect, our creations, because writing is too hard to do well. Fail better next time. Let those other people write their own books.

If you haven't written a book yet, but nobody else is writing the books that say what you want said, well, you have exactly one option. And it's the same place every single published author started out, at one time or another.

There are no shortcuts. Use your voice.

So stop kicking yourself. Stop catering to someone else's ideal, and set your own. It'll probably still be unattainable, but it will be yours.

Stop trying to speak with somebody else's voice because that somebody told you your own voice was inadequate or uncommercial or wrong. Stop telling yourself that your work is garbage. Stop telling yourself that nobody else wants to hear what you have to say. Accept that there are people who will hear you wrong, and that that's not your problem, and you get to have boundaries as an artist.

You get to have boundaries, even as an artist on the internet.

You have a voice. One voice.

It's your voice.

Your voice is important.

Use it.

Jan. 16th, 2017

bear by san

the boys want to be her

Kitten weigh in!

Molly: 7.5 pounds
Duncan: 8.7 pounds
Gurney: 8 pounds even
Tags:

Jan. 13th, 2017

bear by san

no matter how far you roam, i will always love you.

INT: BEDROOM: 7:40 am

Monkey: Mrrph?

The Smart One: *patter patter patter DWOP!*

Monkey: Oh, hi, Mousie.

The Smart One: *runs down monkey's spine*

The Smart One: *patter patter patter rattle rattle thump rattle thump slide rattle patter thump*

The Smart One: *patter patter patter DWOP!*

Monkey: Oh, hi, Mousie.

The Smart One: *runs down monkey's spine*

The Smart One: *patter patter patter rattle rattle thump rattle thump slide rattle patter thump*

The Smart One: *patter patter patter DWOP!*

Monkey: Oh, hi, Mousie.

The Smart One: *runs down monkey's spine*

The Smart One: *patter patter patter rattle rattle thump rattle thump slide rattle patter THUMP.*

The Smart One: ...

Monkey: ...

The Smart One: ...

Monkey: ...

Action Dork Cat: CUDDLES TIME!

Monkey: *cuddles*

The Smart One: Cuddles?

Action Dork Cat: MOAR CUDDLES TIME!

Monkey: *cuddles*

The Smart One: This is no good.

The Smart One: *jumps to shelf by bed*

Action Dork Cat: MOAR CUDDLES TIME!!!!!!!!!!11!1eleventy!

The Smart One: *pushes pill bottles around*

Monkey: Cat.

The Smart One: *pushes pill bottles off shelf*

Monkey: You little shit.

Monkey: *evicts cat*

Monkey: *Well, I guess I'm up anyway."

Monkey: *Fetches a flashlight and a stick, and retrieves Mousie from where she has been lost THIS time.*

The Smart One: MOUSIE! *scamper patter rattlepounce*

SEMI-FERAL NINJA PRINCESS QUEEN EXILED FROM BEYOND THE MIRROR DIMENSION: You guys are weird.

***

Mousie has been returned to her family and is resting comfortably:



SEMI-FERAL NINJA PRINCESS QUEEN EXILED FROM BEYOND THE MIRROR DIMENSION is still trying to figure out how to get home:



Cuddles time:

Jan. 12th, 2017

criminal minds bad shirt brigade

my girlfriend's cat is smarter than me

https://www.patreon.com/posts/7748412

(reposted from Patreon)

ON ANXIETY

Above, a photo of three adolescent kittens. Please ignore the background clutter: it's an actual picture of my actual bedroom 30 seconds ago, unretouched except for a little color correction, complete with the clean sheets I didn't manage to get on the bed yesterday.

The goofy tuxedo cleaning his toes is Duncan; the elegant blue blending into my robe is Gurney. They're littermates.

I want to talk about the vigilant little tortoiseshell on the footboard.

Her name is Molly, and she's a little over a month older than the boys, but two pounds smaller. She came home with them because when she came into rescue, she was housed with them as a near-agemate, and the three of them have bonded like true sibs; there is washing, and chasing, and spatting.

The difference is, while the boys somehow wound up in a shelter and from there eventually a rescue, they obviously had good mothering and good human socialization. They know how to play without using their claws; they have a number of vocalizations that they use liberally with humans; their favorite game is fetch.

Molly is a semi-feral who was netted on a street in New Jersey and got very, very lucky to find her way into the same crate with her foster brothers and eventually on to my nice warm bed--rather than being euthanized.

She's almost always vigilant; her head is on a swivel, and even when she's napping she almost never completely relaxes. She's difficult to approach and will only sometimes tolerate human contact, and she needs to be in control of the interaction.

In human terms, she's anxious and on the defensive all the time.

Some of this is genetic, of course; she's pretty obviously got at least one feral parent, and she'll never be the sack of comfortable snores her brothers can be.

Some of it is the kitty equivalent of PTSD. She's been traumatized, and she knows that everything can vanish under her in seconds, and she might have no control about where she lands.

The boys are rambunctious, bold, and while they're both very athletic, one of them--Duncan--has a real tendency toward getting himself into scrapes he needs to be rescued from. He doesn't follow the rules of parkour very well, and he doesn't always know how to get out of what he's gotten himself into. (Gurney generally has a plan. Duncan is like KOWABUNGA IT'LL WORK OUT SOMEHOW.)

Molly always has a plan. Molly has three plans. In addition to her plans, Molly has two escape routes, and she's prepared to fight for her life if they don't work out.

The boys crash and bang and stampede all over the house. Molly moves on little ghost feet, in doorways and around the edges of rooms.

Molly acts like she works in the publishing industry.

Specifically, she acts like a writer (or any artist, probably) who's forced to confront the realities of making a living in a field with wildly inconsistent rewards and quite a few punishments, and doing it through the means of stripping out all her fears and vulnerabilities and waving them around for people to be entertained by (or not) and to judge (and quite possibly publicly disdain.)

I know so many anxious writers.

Hell, I'm an anxious writer. Coming back from a really messy, crippling bout with it right now, actually, and currently have the upper hand, but let's not talk about the latter half of 2015, and almost all of last year.

I have so many brilliant friends who are anxious about what they are writing about, or the quality of what they are writing, or showing their writing to other people, or whether the internet will fall on their heads no matter what they do, or even being able to write at all... and it pisses me off, this anxiety (and my anxiety, which manifests in I HAVE NOTHING USEFUL TO SAY AND I AM SAYING IT POORLY SO WHY BOTHER) because it robs the world--and selfish me--of so much good art I could be enjoying otherwise.

I wish I could take all of their anxiety and roll it up in a ball and ship it to those guys who spend a lot of time stomping around the internet fussing about how the world doesn't understand their genius and plotting ways to game award processes. Except I know that that's anxiety, too.

It's a way some people deal with it--by seeking validation any way they can, and blustering if their self-image isn't constantly reinforced. Just a some people deal with it by internalizing and eating themselves away, or being paralyzed into being unable to write or unable to submit, or withdrawing, or--my favorite, and the most subtle of all!--pulling themselves back from their art, no longer being honest and making themselves vulnerable through it, and creating something more facile than true.

What's the answer?

I don't know.

I suspect everybody has to find their own solution, because everybody's anxiety manifests in a different way.

I've dealt with it recently by getting angry and sad enough that I feel like I have something to say that's worth saying, and reminding myself that it's better said poorly than not said at all. I've dealt with it by (with the help of my spouse [hello, spouse!]) making space to work early in the day, when I am relaxed and not yet feeling the press of worries and duties of the day.

I've dealt with it by bulling through, but that doesn't work in the long run. I've dealt with it through medication, which does, sort of, but you still have to use the respite to get to the underlying issues. I've dealt with it by figuring out what I was afraid of, and remembering that--like Molly (remember Molly? This is a post about Molly)--I have lived through worse.

Also, you know, this is my job. And I love it. And I'm doing it to the best of my ability, which is pretty damned well, actually, because I am good at my job.

And I am entitled to my voice, and to the space to speak out with that voice. My falling silent will not, in fact, in any way improve the commons or its diversity. It will rather diminish that.

People don't have to choose to listen to me, but they have no right to tell me not to speak.

And if people are unhappy with my books, they can write their own damn books.

I'm sure as hell not stopping them. They shouldn't let their anxieties stop them, either.

Molly doesn't need anybody. She, unlike her brothers, can take care of most things herself.

But here's the thing: they're noisy little guys. They talk to me, their toys, birbs, bugs on the ceiling, each other.

I've only heard Molly vocalize (other than a defensive hiss) on two types of occasions, and until this morning, it was only one. If she is somewhere else in the house and doesn't know where her brothers and Scott and I are, she will pause in her explorations sometimes and emit a perfect little "Meow?" or two until somebody says--in cat or human--"Molly, we're over here."

And this morning, she was sleeping on my feet, and was startled awake by a boy-noise in the hall. She sat bolt upright like a little meercat, front legs dangling, the better to survey the situation.

And while she was sitting there on my feet, she emitted a little, muttering growl, as if to say, "This is my spot, and I will fuck you up if you come for me here."

Molly may be anxious, but she also has something to say, and she apparently has a platform to say it from.

If a six pound semiferal kitten with PTSD can manage it, so can we.

Jan. 11th, 2017

bear by san

Dear Senator Warren and Senator Markey;

Here is the text of the emails I just sent to my U.S. Senators, Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey,

I grant the right under Creative Commons for anyone who wishes to repurpose this text for their own use when contacting their elected representative.

***
Dear Senator Warren,
In light of recent allegations and ongoing concern about foreign meddling in the U.S. Electoral process, and in light of concerns that President-Elect Trump may, in effect, be influenced by a foreign power--and in light of ongoing problems with the incoming administration regarding Hatch and anti-nepotism law violations--I strongly support your efforts to use every legal means to vet such appointees of the incoming administration as are subject to Senate confirmation, and oppose those who are unfit for duty.
You're a fighter, Betsy, and you're our voice. Please speak loud and clear.
Best,

***
Dear Senator Markey,

In light of recent allegations and ongoing concern about foreign meddling in the U.S. Electoral process, and in light of concerns that President-Elect Trump may, in effect, be influenced by a foreign power--and in light of ongoing problems with the incoming administration regarding Hatch and anti-nepotism law violations--I strongly support your efforts to use every legal means to vet such appointees of the incoming administration as are subject to Senate confirmation, and oppose those who are unfit for duty.

We believe in you, Ed. You have our voice. Be loud with it.

Best,

muppetology need bears fozzie & kermit

see the city's backside

INT: BEDROOM: 8:00 AM
MONKEY rolls over and yawns, hugging a pillow.

ENTER SEMI-FERAL NINJA PRINCESS QUEEN EXILED FROM BEYOND THE MIRROR DIMENSION, slowly sidling up the bed toward the visible hand. She flops down about 18 inches away from the monkey, back to her for plausible deniability, and headbutts the monkey's hand. 

SFNPQEfBtMD: Pet me, Horrible Ape.

Monkey: Whifrlequiddlers?

SFNPQEfBtMD: I said, pet me.

Monkey: Oh, good morning, Molly.

SFNPQEfBtMD: I didn't say you could look at me.

Monkey: *scritches*

SFNPQEfBtMD: *purrs*

ENTER THE SMART ONE, with self-possession and confidence. He flops down between the current petter and pettee.

At the bottom of the bed, ACTION DORK CAT snores.

The Smart One: Pet me too.

MONKEY resignedly frees other hand, pets both cats simultaneously.

ALL PURR

SFNPQEfBtMD: Oh my god, Gurney, your butt is so dirty.

The Smart One: I DO NOT CONSENT! I DO NOT CONSENT!

A Flurry Of Activity Ensues. SFNPQEfBtMD vacates the premises. The Smart One flops down facing away from the monkey for more pets.

Monkey: Oh, my god, Gurney, she wasn't kidding about your butt.

The Smart One: *Harrumphs and gets up to leave.*

The Smart One: Oh my god, my butt.

SFNPQEfBtMD: *Wanders back over, notices that the monkey's hands are free.*

SFNPQEfBtMD: Pet me.

Monkey: Don't you lick my fingers. I just saw where your tongue has been.

SFNPQEfBtMD: [Primly] Brothers are always dirty. 

Action Dork: [Waking up, blearily] Whifrlequiddlers? Oh, hey, petting. All right, then.



 

Jan. 6th, 2017

muppetology animal deadlines

that's me in the spotlight

Karen woke me up at 5:45 this morning in order to write down two pages of draft introducing a villain and including the sentence, "Managing a person as needs managed is like managing a horse with no manners."

So I wrote 500 good words before dawn this morning, and feel like Hemingway. Of course, it was 500 words of a book that's not under contract, when I have four unfinished books that are.

A thin, dry snow is falling, and it's time to wake up now, and cuddle kittens, and to do the work I am actually supposed to be doing.

Jan. 5th, 2017

bear by san

and these memories lose their meaning

My muse is apparently back from a long vacation and feeling a little manic and eager to get back to work.

And it's really nice to have my creativity suddenly flooding back, and be so full of ideas and bits of dialogue and stuff just being handed to me, after literally years of having to go out, as Jack London said, and get it with a club.

But I do kind of wish she'd stop being quite so "LOOK IMMA LET YOU FINISH THE ACTUAL WORK YOU NEED TO DO TO PAY THE MORTGAGE BEAR BUT HEY FIRST STOP A MINUTE AND WRITE DOWN THESE TWO BITS OF DIALOGUE FOR TWO DIFFERENT KAREN STORIES AND ALSO THIS IDEA AND HEALTH DEPARTMENTS AND DRAGONS PLEASE."

I've actually been working on reorganizing my notebook-keeping tactics in order to deal with the sudden flood.

I guess I'm back.
bear by san

(no subject)

I'm trying an experiment with Ancestral Night and its voice.

Usually, when I write a novel, what I do a lot of in the early chapters is work out, integrate, and assume a voice. It could be a character voice--Karen Memery, Jenny Casey--or it might be a genre/setting voice: The Stratford Man's Nature Identical Elizabethan Flavoring, for example, or the high fantasy tone of the Eternal Sky.

This book is just me. Basically, the same narrative voice I use in my blog. Just, you know, a couple hundred years from now.

It's interesting, actually, because it gives me access to the full range of the narrative tricks. And in Haimey, I'm writing a character who is closer to me in what she cares about and how she thinks than anybody since Matthew Szczgielniak.

Weird to kind of take the puppets off and do the story with bare hands.

And now, a little bit of administrivia, and then back for another thousand words.
bear by san

i see a love that money just can't buy...

Patrons-only post over on the patreon includes the poem draft that I wrote at 2 am this morning, when I should have been sleeping.

Also, some notes on my Christmas cactus, which is blooming now, so tanaise says it's an Epiphany cactus, and hey, every once in a while, we all need an epiphany.

Jan. 4th, 2017

bear by san

sequence of events:


  1. Discover burned out microwave light

  2. Fuck around for two months

  3. Get screwdriver, remove light cover

  4. Remove burnt out light

  5. Discover no appropriate lightbulbs in house

  6. Order lightbulbs

  7. Leave light cover and screw on counter for four days

  8. Open package of ordered lights

  9. Install light

  10. Discover cover is greasy.

  11. Set screw down on gray and black granite counter

  12. Wash cover

  13. Put cover on light

  14. Cannot find screw

  15. Cannot find screw

  16. Cannot find screw

  17. Cannot find screw

  18. Go to toolshed, get thing of random screws

  19. Try similar size screws

  20. Find one that nearly fits

  21. Install light cover

  22. Take care of other household tasks

  23. Tell scott_lynch funny screw story when he gets up

  24. Sit down to tell internet funny screw story on laptop at kitchen counter

  25. Spot missing screw ten inches away on countertop



Yes, my counter needed cleaning. It was on the list. 

Jan. 2nd, 2017

criminal minds fate

don't don't don't let's start. i've got a weak heart.

Holy shit, how did I forget to listen to TMBG for so damned long? That was a terrible idea.

It's amazing how having kittens gives me something to blog about again. The giant ridiculous dog is wonderful and adorable and my best friend and walking buddy now that he's too old to run*, but he is a creature of steady habits, especially at the age of 11, and doesn't give me much to comment on: "Today we went for a walk and played kickball for ten minutes and pooped twice and had breakfast AND dinner AND cookies AND a piece of cheese, were teased by the cats, had a series of profoundly satisfying naps and were interested in a squirrel, briefly."

It's a dog's life. One day is pretty much like the next and they're not always noteworthy. Except when the ice hurts his poor feet, or I expect him to go outside and pee in the wet like some kind of barbarian, or he has the best day of his life and gets within six inches of actually catching that damned fat squirrel.

Six inches, Zack! I would have had him!

Kittens are still having adventures.

This morning's adventures started at 6:30 (roughly) with me getting up and realizing that there were no kitten noises in the usual places and no kittens on the bed, or in the guest bedroom where they sometimes hang out, depending on the availability of local sunbeams and the phase of the moon and other Important Kitten Reasons.

I walk down the hall to the bathroom. The bathroom is also where we feed kittens, and as soon as I entered its sacred precincts, I had two boy kittens on my heels. 6:30 am is not, however, the time of the feeding. We're not naive about what the result would be.

The boy kittens stayed in the bathroom. I walked back toward the bedroom, and saw that a door that should not be open was open. A door that leads to the downstairs, and several non-kitten-proofed rooms full of potentially hazardous and/or breakable objects and furniture that one could hide under indefinitely. Not to mention house plants, great for chewing on and excavating around and peeing in.

I saw that beyond that door, there was a stairs. And on that stairs was a Molly, looking freaked out as only a feral kitten that is outside her comfort zone can look.

I went back, and shut the bathroom door with the boy kittens inside. And said to Scott, who was in the office typing, which is, after all, what we do for a living, "Houston, we have a problem."

We found her under a futon in the front room, which was fine, and which has a door that opens onto the front hallway, which the kittens DO have access to generally speaking and which has a second stair to the upstairs, which is designated kitten territory. We opened the door to the front hall and closed the door to the rest of the downstairs, and Scott went upstairs to make sure the door that had been left open accidentally was closed so there wouldn't be a second escape.

I lay down on my stomach and stuck my head under the futon.

"Hello, Molly," says I. "Surely you want to go upstairs?"

The freaked out look intensifies.

I offer her a Magic Finger. You know the one.

She looks at it like it's a snake.

"THAT'S A SNEK!" says her.

I make sure I am physically between her and the hiding places it would be harder to retrieve her from. Slowly, I reach out, with the Molly Approved (occasionally, maybe) back-of-hand petting gesture. (Sometimes you're allowed to use the grabby side of the hand, but not always. Because Apes are horrible, and also Grabby.)

Molly says, "YOU WANT TO GRAB ME!" and skitters away. (Her primary form of movement is still skittering, though there has been a certain amount of sauntering and scampering recently. She really is coming around.)

Fortunately, she skitters through the open door into the front hall.

And freezes. And looks around, stunned. SHE IS NOT LOST FOREVER. THIS IS HER HALL. SHE BOUNCES GLITTER BALLS DOWN THE STAIRS. She relaxes. Her ears perk up. She looks around some more.

"I KNOW WHERE I AM!" says her.

And then Scott said, from upstairs, "The light is green," and I had to close the hall door really quick to keep her from running away back into the room I was in in a panic because a Horrible Ape said something in a moderately loud conversational tone three rooms away.

But now she's on the bed ignoring me, though there were no Morning Cuddles today. Horrible Ape. This Was All Your Fault Somehow.

Such is life with a semiferal.

Gurney, meanwhile, is a toddler. A very sweet toddler, not a tyranty one (that's Duncan), but a toddler nonetheless.

Gurney has a best toy, which is Mousie. Now, there are many mousies in this house. There are three different KINDS of sisal mousies. There are five other sisal mousies that are identical in every way to Mousie, except for being less battered and chewed on, and still having feather tails. Also Mousie is bright pink and hardly rattles anymore, and the other ones are yellow, green, blue, grey, etc.

Mousie is the toy Gurney plays fetch with. It is the toy he carries around and talks to in low tones and crouches over and won't let the other kittens play with. Mousie is his Friend.

He likes to take Mousie up to the broad, flat surface of the credenza in the bedroom, and bat Mousie around.

Today, Mousie fell behind the dresser. This was at 7:20, when I had just gotten back into bed after the Molly Experience, and was planning a little more rest before work started.

TRAGEDY! YODELING! PAWS FORLORNLY REACHING INTO THE GAP BEHIND THE DRESSER!

Gurney is NOT a semiferal, and you can tell this because when something goes TERRIBLY WRONG, he looks around, finds the nearest monkey, and demands we fix it. Well, NOTHING would do except I go get a yardstick and a flashlight and retrieve Mousie. At 7:30 am.
And then, once retrieved, he had to take it and jump up on the credenza again and start playing with it right where he lost it before
Now, "But mousie wants to be here" is the excuse I'm getting for him and mousie being loud on the bookshelf that serves as my night stand.
Mousie is very inconsiderate.

Here, in the aftermath of the morning's great trauma, is a picture of Gurney and Mousie, and Molly and Duncan too:



Here, Duncan has liberated Mousie, and is teasing Gurney with it. The offending credenza is in the background:


Mousie is a very important member of our household, as you can probably imagine.




*(and I've had to quit, at least for a while, because of a really stubborn tendon problem in my right foot. So I'm giving it a year to fix itself and then I either decide I'm not a runner anymore, or I look into surgery. La.)

Jan. 1st, 2017

bear by san

there's a power in that division, in that hour of revision



How a professional do.

Except now I gotta write the damned thing.
writing gorey earbrass unspeakable horro

tell 'em that it's human nature.

It's Patrons only, but the rough draft of the first scene of Rook and Ruin is up at my Patreon here.

You guys, I'm so excited about this story.

Dec. 31st, 2016

bear by san

stories break like branches in the cold

Well, that's sort of a draft, ish, of Rook and Ruin.

If it keeps that title. Who knows?

32,000 words, and the denouement is a bunch of pieces on the floor, two of the characters need to grow a real relationship, and there's one scene left to write, but it's done enough for now.

Now I'm going to take a shower and put my pjs on.

Dec. 30th, 2016

comics invisibles king mob

torturous waves. whisper from the grave.

Usually, my post-kitten morning routine goes like this:

Sometime between 6:45 and 7:20 am, I start to make moaning noises and twitch under the covers, as sunlight intrudes on the bedroom and I start to assume consciousness.

At this time, Gurney realizes that I am awake, and jumps up onto my shoulder or chest for cuddles. His brother Duncan soon follows, and eventually Molly turns up as well.

Today, when I rolled over, Duncan was on the foot of the bed, but the only kitten who wasn't too musy doing Important Kitten Things to come be petted was... the semiferal, Molly, who we have been working on for two months now to get her to accept being touched.

She settled cheerfully into the warm spot between Scott and me and started purring like a mad thing, poking my fingers with her paws, headbutting, and generally demanding to be cuddled and fussed over.

She was getting a bit pushier about getting her share of time and petting when the boys were climbing all over me, but this is the first time I've really been independently Molly-cuddled.

The boys showed up eventually, and then I had to spend about twenty minutes playing fetch with them (the boys play fetch, but only with specific toys. Duncan likes the plastic springs. Gurney has a particular sisal mousie that is HIS. It is the Best Mousie. Other mousies are mere shadows of the One True Mousie.)

Photo evidence of the amount of kitten fetch my life contains now:











Molly is not amused:



Or maybe she is. She has resting WE ARE NOT AMUSED FACE, so it's hard to tell.

Here are some cuddly boys:



I weighed the kjittens yesterday. With the boys, this just meant putting new batteries in the scale (they had worn out the old ones playing with the pretty lights), weighing myself, and then weighing myself plus each kitten. Molly, being semiferal, was a little more challenging.

I put the scale next to the food bowls and rattled the cat food bag. Once everybody was safely in the bathroom where the cats get fed, I closed the...

Molly, seeing the door close, MADE A BREAK FOR IT and ESCAPED. (I am a vile and perfidous Ape!) She slid through like MacGyver diving under a closing blast door, and I was left with two already-weighed boy kittens and their chorous of demand for crunchies. (Because our cats are mostly fed wet food, crunchies are a hardcore treat and in high demand around here.)

So I opened the door again and put food IN THE BOWLS this time.

Molly came trotting back and settled down by her bowl. (She has chosen the one closest to the door, natch, for fastest escapes.) I SHUT THE DOOR.

She was busy enough with the crunchies that she only glanced over.

She will allow herself to be petted while eating at this point, after long practice, as long as you make yourself small and don't loom over her (VILE TIPPY APE). So I crouched down on the scale, reached over, petted her, and very carefully lifted her six inches off the floor. Before she started to squirm, I managed to read the scale!

WIJKTORY!

Molly is 8 months, one week old (roughly) and 6.9 lbs. The boys are 6 months, 3 weeks old, and both are exactly 8 pounds. This keeps surprising me, because Gurney looks bigger--but he's long and rangy and very skinny, whereas Duncan is more compact.

And now, I need to go work on my novella. 
Tags:

Dec. 29th, 2016

bear by san

what I need, I just don't have...

Well, today was supposed to be a hugely productive day, which was largely derailed by an absolutely killer and pointless anxiety attack that I finally managed to get the better of about an hour ago. So now I feel less like I'm harboring a chestburster, but much more like I want to collapse in an exhausted heap--but I have not written nearly as much as I wanted to, so I'm going to go back and try to get some more. Because I really, really want a draft of this story by the end of the year, because god damn it, 2016, I will beat you.

I've got almost 27,000 words of it, though, and I don't think it will go to much more than 35, so that's still doable if I really dig in.

I've been writing first thing in the morning, mostly, which is nice and involves co-authors, but does involve eventually having to get out of bed and let the dog attend to his biological needs. Here are my coauthors helping this morning, however:



I moved to the living room after that so I could watch it snow more conveniently. The snow, alas, was a bit of a disappointment on the nor'easter front--our predicted 8-12 inches turned into about a wet inch and a half overnight. Well, at least we probably won't have to shovel much.

And we did get a fuzzy-tailed visitor. (Scott saw rabbits last night.)


Dec. 25th, 2016

bear by san

Happy Hollydog!

writing karen memory

KAREN MEMORY Book Club group read!

Karen Memory is the January 2017 selection for the Goodreads SciFi and Fantasy Book Club, so if you've been waiting to read it with friends, here's your big chance!

Here's a bonus photto of me and Ace, and a bonus kitten. Because I know what you guys are really here for.




And now I have to get up and put a goose in the oven and walk a dog, when I really want to stay in bed and write for a while longer.

Dec. 24th, 2016

ascii frog by Jean Seok

snow can wait. i forgot my mittens.

(Reposted from Patreon)

The caper in this caper story I'm writing kind of vanished.

I had too many genre savvy characters who went, oh it's a caper, and got on with their lives.  So now it's more of a character-driven adventure, without all the who's-zooming-who.

I got stuck three times writing the first thirty pages of it, went back and started over, and you know, it just didn't want to go into the shape I had planned. Eventually, I decided I would rather have a finished story than the story I had planned on it being, and got with the program. Now I'm averaging six pages a day and expect a draft before the New Year.

Stories are kind of like relationships. You can try to force them to be a thing, and break them, and make everybody wind up unhappy.

Or you can let them be what they are, and enjoy them, and realize that sometimes you have to let go of your control issues and let things just be.

Dec. 23rd, 2016

bear by san

the mouse police never sleeps

Time for more kitten pictures. It's a wonder I ever get anything done, what with kittens being so adorable.












This morning's wrestlewashing session pleased everyone.
Tags:

Dec. 21st, 2016

bear by san

i don't like hellfire and you get seasick

Current state of the work is: efforts to combat distractions. Because life is full of things that need doing, and it's easy to get distracted from the actual job of putting stories into pixels, I've been writing in the morning before I get out of bed. This involves a certain amount of typing around the kitten swarm, but has the double benefit of Actually Getting The Words Done, and also making me feel good about myself for the rest of the day.

So there's that. I did the first round of revisions on the short story yesterday, and I'm increasingly happy with it. It's called "What Someone Else Does Not Want Printed," which is, as you might know, the second half of an Orwell quote.

More on its disposition when I can.

Also, I just posted two links to podcast interviews (both of them with Scott Lynch as well as me) over on my Patreon.

Next project is seeing if I can get a few more words on Rook and Ruin, which is the possibly final title of the Karen Memory novella I'm working on. I think it's finally coming together--I have to figure out a bit of social engineering to make the caper work.

Capers are hard.

But with a little luck I'll get myself back into the discipline of working and creating every day.

When it feels like the world is burning, sing. 

Dec. 18th, 2016

bear by san

the holy and the broken hallelujah



Now, you may ask yourself, what exactly is this bottle of Devil's Tongue habanero-infused olive oil doing tucked beside the radiator?

Well, friends, it's cold enough in this ancient house that the olive oil had solidified, making it difficult to decant for holiday gifts.

Radiators, however, are warm.
Tags:

Dec. 17th, 2016

always winter

brown paper packages tied up with strings

Let's talk about cats, baby.

So scott_lynch and I have adopted three kittens: Molly, Duncan, and Gurney, variously known as The Swarm, the Breakfast Mafia, and Mayken, Inc. They've been with us for a little over a month now, and they're pretty great, frankly. They have a twitter feed at @kjittens if that's your sort of thing.

Duncan and Gurney are littermates, about six months now. They're cuddly purrbeasts who like to supervise everything. Duncan is black with some messy white splashes that make him look like he's been in his tuxedo on a long night out drinking with Cole Porter as played by Kevin Kline. He's a tidy little beast with an anime nose. Gurney is rangier and seems to be a solid gray until the light hits him and you realize that he's actually a broken-stripe mackerel tabby whose markings are in two almost similar shades of gray, except one is more silvery and one is more matte.

Molly is a stocky dilute tortie, and a semiferal. She's about a month older than the boys--seven months now--and we're working very hard to warm her up to humans. Slowly, slowly: she will occasionally allow petting now. If you are lying down under a blanket and don't make eye contact. Or if she's busy eating and you scrunch down and make yourself small.

This is a major victory, because she's basically a slightly less angry version of Shadow Unit's Angry Kitteh come to life. She's more of a Skittery Kitteh.

She came into rescue after being netted on a street in New Jersey, and somehow was lucky enough to make it from a city animal control shelter there to the cat rescue in Connecticut that we contacted when looking for kittens. They housed her with the two boys, and the three bonded firmly enough that it would have been kind of monstrous to break them up. So we have three cats.

The GRD is still not, and never will be, catsafe, so we have a divided house again. Containment protocols! Fortunately, it's an old house with a lot of doors.

So many doors.

Here are some pictures of kittens!Collapse )
bear by san

(no subject)

The adventure of a lifetime! ...now with squirrels.

(reposted from Patreon)



This is Ace. Ace is a dog, fondly known on the internets as the Giant Ridiculous Dog.

He's a Briard, which is a French shepherd breed.

Ace loves a few things in life: walks, cheese, car rides, carrying stuffies around the house, herding sheep, his soccer ball, and chasing squirrels. He's had a vendetta against all squirreldom since one bounced an acorn off his head back in 2009.

He has not forgotten.

Today, as we were going outside to play some kickball in the fresh snow, Ace ran over to the large lilac bush that dominates our dooryard. He had located a miscreant squirrel lurking in the bush--no doubt calculating how to get to the bird feeder on the porch roof, which is what squirrels spend 95% of their processing power on.

The squirrel, who was safely high in the rather large bush, made an extremely poor life choice. It decided to jump down and run for it.

The reason this was such a poor life choice is that, as you can see, there is approximately one squerrel's depth of snow on the ground currently.

The pursuit was on! My own little patch of BBC, with the David Attenborough replaced by me yelling at the dog to "Leave it!" at the top of my lungs while lunging after him, the squirrel floundering through five inch drifts, and the dog--soccer ball still in his mouth!--in hot if slidy pursuit.

Spoiler, the squirrel lived to pass its poor judgment on to its offspring.

The fluffy little rodent made it to the driveway that our semi-feral plow guy (more on him later) had plowed not five minutes before, and finally got some acceleration as it headed for the pine trees on the other side. The dog tripped on the berm the semi-feral plow guy had left at the edge of the asphalt, and tripped... soccer ball still in his mouth.

And I caught up with him a half-second later.

Then we had to play a game where he checked EVERY SINGLE BUSH on the property for rodents before he'd agree to come play kickball, which was the original purpose of the exercise.

So about that plow guy. He sort of came with the house, you see. The previous owners opined that he was somewhat erratic, but they weren't sure how to make him stop. Or even get him to reliably cash checks for his services.

Sometimes he does a great job. Sometimes he plows about half the driveway and wanders off. He's nice, though, and when you basically live in an episode of Newhart, you kind of have to roll with the punches and accept the hand you're dealt.

Dec. 5th, 2016

sf sapphire and steel winning

Happy Holly Dog!

Nov. 17th, 2016

bad girls firefighters

how can the angels get to sleep when the devil leaves his porch light on?

So let's talk a little bit about the long con, and about the career of Real Estate Mogul Donald Trump (tm). Let's talk about how he actually makes his money.

Hint: It's not by developing successful properties and making a long-term killing off rents, fees, and providing services.

It's not by creating wealth. It's not even by running successful casinos and getting suckers to forget that the house always wins.

Nope.

It's by getting other people to invest money in a project, slapping his name on it, making a huge fuss about how great it is using his (to me inexplicable) charisma and salesmanship, siphoning off as much cash as he quickly can, allowing the project to fail, writing it off at a loss, and allowing his creditors to take the bath on it--including small businesses that could ill-aford such a loss.

(Fun fact: the Mob put that hit out on Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel because he didn't prevent contractors from siphoning money and materials out of the Flamingo Hotel project, did you know that?)

Long story short: his business partners take a bath, and he walks away with his pockets jingling (though they don't jingle as much as he claims. That roll of hundreds is fluffed out with newspaper cut to size, metaphorically speaking.) There's a reason he can't get a loan from a U.S. bank anymore; as a result, there's pretty good reason to think a bunch of his projects are funded by members of the Russian kleptocracy.*

So some people can learn how to avoid a con artist after he's hit them once. But apparently, 46% of U.S. voters can't spot a scam even when the evidence is right there.

...well, it is really hard to break up with a gaslighting abuser. You really start not knowing what is real, and you start to feel like it's all your fault. And this is how con artists work, too. You need them! They're going to give you the break you really deserve, that you somehow never got before!

He's a great businessman, right? He's going to build the U.S. economy. It's going to be HUGE, because this time will be different or something?

Did you know that Trump has already charged U.S. taxpayers $1.6 million for his Secret Service detail to fly on his plane with him? Or that his campaign paid his own businesses close to ten million dollars?

Guess who the business partner is who's getting their pocket picked this time?

Based on the rule that whatever Trump claims his enemies are doing, it's what he's up to himself, I'd say his businesses were failing again ("failing New York Times") and this time he had nowhere left to turn, because he'd bilked his way around the globe. I'd say that the election was rigged--rigged in the sense that it was influenced by a Russian-backed hacking and disinformation campaign. And I'd say that this man who ran, laughably, against "insider corruption" is about to depose the Grant administration as the most corrupt in U.S. history.

My only question at this point is whether sometime between Dec 19th (when the electoral college confirms the vote) and Jan 20th (Inauguration day), the Russian intelligence apparatus releases information to delegitimize the election and with the goal of making the U.S. completely ineffectual in containing their adventurism due to internal strife, or if Putin tries to run Trump like a hand puppet for the next four years.

They must have something really juicy on him, too, because he's stuck by his oligarchic allies so far, and this is a man who has never once hesitated to throw an ally under the bus the instant it suited him.

Yep. This is gonna get ugly, and not just because we're staring down the barrel of a bunch of freshly empowered homophobic, misogynistic white supremacists.

Hold onto your hats. 
sf sapphire and steel winning

(no subject)

Here is the text of the letter I just sent to Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, because I thought people might like to see it, in case they want to write their own.


17 November 2016

Governor Charlie Baker
Massachusetts State House
Office of the Governor
Room 280
Boston, MA 02133


Dear Governor Baker,

I am a resident of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and a registered voter therein. I am writing to inform you that I, along with many of your constituents, am extremely concerned about your call to wait and see, to give President-Elect Trump a chance to prove himself.

Meanwhile, the President-Elect's surrogates, such as Carl Higbie, begin the work of arguing the case that one of America's greatest modern shames, the detention of Japanese-Americans in internment camps during World War II, constitutes a legal precedent for the forced registration of Muslims in the United States.

Sir, Massachusetts takes great pride in its history of being at the forefront in the struggle for liberty and civil rights. We were the second state in the Union to abolish slavery; we were the home of President John Quincy Adams, who argued for the freedom of the Amistad rebels before the Supreme Court; we were the home of his mother, Abigail Adams, who argued for the right of women to vote from the inception of the Union. We were the first state to offer the full protection of the law to same-sex marriage.

Boston is home to the Freedom Trail; it is here that the first shot of the American Revolution was fired. It is the city that responded to a gross act of terrorism, the Boston Marathon bombing, with strength, courage, and the rule of law.

Our Constitution, written chiefly by President John Adams (there's that family again) is the oldest functioning written constitution still in effect in the world. It served as a model for the United States Constitution, and the Declaration of Rights it contains serves as a model for the first ten Amendments to that United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights, which most Americans hold sacred.

That Declaration of Rights contains the following words:

Article I. All men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness.

Article II. It is the right as well as the duty of all men in society, publicly and at stated seasons, to worship the Supreme Being, the great Creator and Preserver of the universe. And no subject shall be hurt, molested, or restrained, in his person, liberty, or estate, for worshipping God in the manner and season most agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience, or for his religious profession or sentiments, provided he doth not disturb the public peace or obstruct others in their religious worship.

Governor Baker, I call upon you to adhere to the founding principles of our Commonwealth. I call upon you to follow the basic dictates of human beings of good conscience. I call upon you for a display of character and valiance in keeping with the better history of Massachusetts, and the legacy we must strive to preserve.

I call upon you to join in leadership with the Legislature of the State of California and the Governor of the State of New York, and to publicly disavow any such attempt to shamefully and illegally detain American citizens and legal immigrants on the basis of their religion and culture alone.

That cowardice, sir, is beneath us. Do not shame us before the world. Let us again be a model for the nation, as we unequivocally say no to racism, to fascism, to bigotry, and to fear.

Nov. 14th, 2016

sf sapphire and steel winning

there is a crack in everything. that's how the light gets in.

It's been a while, livejournal, but I think I have something to say again, so I'm back.

On fear:

A lot of you are really scared right now.

I get that. I'm scared too. I'm scared in the way that tells me that there is no safe space in the world for somebody like me. That my civil rights, my freedom of speech, my very personal safety are under assault.

We feel homeless, hypervigilant, and downright panicky.

Some of you have never felt scared in this particular way before, and don't know how to manage it. It's new, because of the way the kyriarchal system we live under has previously insulated you from this kind of existential terror.

For some of us, though, it's old hat. We have coping strategies. We have the knowledge that we've been through this kind of existential terror before, and we made it, and the world got better after a while.

(This is how it works. Remember when you feel that despair that we are fighting from a foundation now. We have to defend the hill, for certain. Our forbears in the quest for civil rights for all had to build the damned hill, often out of their own bodies, and then fight their way up it.)

So here's what's important. We who know this feeling of terror and despair, who know how to live iwth it, work through it, dig in and hold the door--we need to be as kind as we can manage to our allies who have not experienced it before. We need to remember that in the long run that experience will increase their empathy. It will make them better allies for us as well.

We need to understand that it's going to take them a little longer to process their despair and grief and fear than those of us who feel the anxiety spike and go "Well, this again."

We need to, because we need them right now. We need all hands on deck, every last one from ship's cook to cabin girl.

We need compassion for each other, and we need to set aside our differences and work together against a greater threat--to our civil liberties, our freedom of speech, our very personal safety. We cannot afford to be cut out of the herd group by group, set against one another on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, religion, skin color, ethnic affiliation, moral purity, or anything else.

These guys have been feeling that same existential fear, you know, and they're not used to it either: the fear that their way of life is vanishing, that they are losing power and influence and control. It's an existential battle to them, and they think they have to destroy us or drive us underground again in order to continue to exist.

These guys hate us all. And if we do not hang together, we shall surely all hang separately.

Apr. 5th, 2016

superhuman

i got a pocket full of can't-be-wrong...

I am in the weird situation of being pleased to have been awakened by the phone this morning, because it popped me out in the middle of a really awesome superhero dream (a rare one, with narrative and a through line) and I'm so happy that I remember it now.

In the dream, I'm Jennifer Walters (otherwise known as the Savage/Sensational She-Hulk, esq.), and I'm standing in a big open room in a government office type building with Wonder Woman and another female super hero. (I don't remember who the other one was. Yes, it must be a Marvel/DC crossover) It must be the '80s, because I'm complaining about how NATO gets all the good superheroes (Captain America, Superman) and the Eastern Bloc nations are stuck with losers like The Red Scare. (Who was a very tongue-in-cheek Tick villain, so it must be a Marvel/DC/NEC crossover, come to think of it.)

A ruckus starts up outside. Sounds of combat, car alarms. I Hulk out, and try to run and jump through the window to get down to the fight. (We're several stories up, but hey, that's just an opportunity in the dream for an iconic superhero action crouch landing!) But for some reason, when I hit the window, instead of shattering, it stretches around me elastically and sort of snaps me back. Wonder Woman grouses about the "goddamn superhero-proof glass" on these new government buildings. (NB, I don't think Diana would actually say "goddamn.")

I say, "No problem," and run through the cement support instead. It's like running through thick yogurt: it just kind of pushes out of the way. It's good being a Hulk.

I jump and land. As I look up, I see a sprawling superhero battle. I also see workers engaged in wrapping the building I just exited in another layer of superhero-proof glass, which looks like a giant roll of that shipping cling film they use to palletize stuff.

That's when the phone woke me, alas.

When I related this dream to Scott, he said, "I am picturing the building after this fight is done as an enormous pile of concrete rubble held together by 'goddamn superhero-proof glass.'"  

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