Swan Tower

Nov. 21st, 2014

08:00 am - A Year in Pictures – Delos Poppies

Delos Poppies
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Too many years have passed since my honeymoon for me to remember the significance of this bit of ruin on the Greek island of Delos. The bright contrast of the poppies, however, remains.

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Nov. 20th, 2014

08:00 am - A Year in Pictures – Tower Cannon

Tower Cannon
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I am much less sentimental for artillery than I am for swords and other such personal weapons . . . but I liked the lion chawing down on this cannon.

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Nov. 19th, 2014

08:00 am - A Year in Pictures – Signpost in the Middle of Nowhere

Signpost in the Middle of Nowhere
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I can’t tell if this picture is at all funny without the story behind it.

My husband and I spent a day and a half on Inis Mór, and the morning we woke up there, we decided to go to Dún Dúchathair — the less famous cousin of Dún Aengus. We were told to go along the coast road and then turn right at the sign — well, there was no sign at the coast, but we turned right at the first chance we had, and there was a sign a little ways in. So we follow the road . . .

. . . which turns into a track . . .

. . . which turns into a footpath . . .

. . . which dead-ends at a low stone wall. Which we go around, and at that point we’re lost in the wilds of Inis Mór (note: the island is only about a mile wide). We head on in more or less the same direction we were originally going, hoping to find the fort, and eventually we find this sign: Dún Dúchathair, thataway. Sitting all by its lonesome in the middle of a limestone moonscape.

As I said to my husband, “I hope the lads don’t get drunk of a Saturday night ane come out here to give that sign a spin around its post.”

We went thataway, and we did indeed find the Black Fort, so all was well. But the sign itself still amuses me.

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Nov. 18th, 2014

08:00 am - A Year in Pictures – The Moon at Kiyomizudera

The Moon at Kiyomizudera
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If I had planned this whole thing better, I would have saved this picture for today. It is the shot that sparked this post, and today is my father’s birthday, so it would have been a nice bit of timing! That post references the light-up at Kiyomizudera, though, and so that is what I give you today. with a cameo appearance by the moon.

Happy birthday, Dad. You are my favorite pusher of drugs expensive new hobbies. :-)

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Nov. 17th, 2014

08:00 am - A Year in Pictures – Not a Stave Church

Zakopane Church
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This isn’t actually a stave church, but the thing it reminded me of most was the churches in Norway that my mother has pictures of, so my brain insisted on tagging it “that stave church in Zakopane.” Probably because those are basically the only wooden churches I know, other than the New England white clapboard type. Regardless: autumn color, nice vertical framing between the trees, me likey, yes. :-)

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02:08 am - tonight's writing lesson

Do not end your day’s work with a line like this:

Lord Rossmere was not speaking to inform us, though; all that was prelude to his next statement.

Because when you come back to the text, you will not remember what that next statement was supposed to be. (Possibly I never knew, and that was just me reminding myself to justify the “as you know, Bob” dialogue that precedes it. I haven’t worked on this bit since before my NY/DC trip, so I really don’t recall.)

On the other hand, I am pleased with this line:

I did not say to him that I had kept the information secret precisely to avoid our current situation. First, because it was only true in part; and second, because Tom was stepping firmly on my foot.

Would you believe that Tom was originally a throwaway character invented solely because somebody like Lord Hilford wouldn’t travel alone? The stuff about his working-class origins came later, so that he and Isabella wouldn’t be nonentities to one another. And then I decided, almost on a whim, to have him become an actual colleague, at least to the extent of going to Bayembe with Isabella. Next thing I knew, he was a fixture of the story, and one of my favorite characters in the entire series.

It only looks like we plan this stuff. Half of it happens by accident.

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Nov. 14th, 2014

08:00 am - A Year in Pictures – Oxford From Above

Oxford From Above
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Some places, you can really only capture from a high vantage point. While we were climbing the tower of the University Church, we got this lovely view into the courtyard of (I think) All Souls College. I’m sure I could have taken some nice photos from within its bounds, but to get the whole thing, you really need to be outside and above.

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Nov. 13th, 2014

05:00 pm - Nerdiness at Kepler’s on Saturday

If you’re in the Bay Area and interested in SF/F, Kepler’s Books in Menlo Park is doing an event on Saturday the 15th, with items ranging from a class in how to speak Dothraki to a panel on the topic of which is better: fantasy or SF?

Now, the panelists for this are myself, Ellen Klages, Pat Murphy, and Chaz Brenchley. Ellen and I were talking this past weekend at World Fantasy, and she points out that she knows herself, she knows Pat, and she knows me. And I know Chaz.

This panel is not likely to go according to the description. :-P

I’m not sure whether the plan is for me to brandish a plastic sword at Ellen proclaiming that fantasy is better, while she brandishes a plastic raygun at me proclaiming the supremacy of SF, or whether I’m going to be waving the sword and championing SF while she waves the raygun and champions fantasy. Quite possibly we will do both. Either way, there are likely to be Shenanigans. And plastic weaponry. And a good deal of silliness. We will certainly do our best to be entertaining, regardless. 4 p.m., Menlo Park, be there or never learn the truth of which genre is supreme.

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12:18 pm - Say Yes to Telekinetic Squirrels!

A while back there was a furor over a YA novel with gay characters, whose authors faced pressure from a potential agent to make him straight (or at least not reveal his orientation until later in the series).

Now, at long last, Stranger (by Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith) is out in the world. Since this is fixed in everybody’s mind as the “Yes to Gay YA” book, I feel I should quote from Rachel’s post announcing the book’s release:

But you could just as easily call it “The one with the telekinetic squirrels,” or “The X-Men in the post-apocalyptic Wild West,” or “The one where the sheriff is super-strong, the doctor can speed up time, and the plant life is out to get you.”

{…}

Other points of possible interest: Psychic powers. Luscious food descriptions. Detailed world-building. Hurt-comfort- lots of hurt-comfort. Thrilling battle sequences. Cute animals. Killer crystal trees. Romance in every configuration: gay, straight, lesbian, and poly. Illusion-casting rabbits. Flying cats. And, of course, telekinetic squirrels.

If one or more of those things appeals to you, various buy links are here, and Sherwood discusses their writing process here. I’m going to be ordering it from my local B&N, to help keep it on the shelves — because quite apart from the aforementioned furor, things like this don’t get enough attention in book publishing.

And, y’know: who can pass up telekinetic squirrels?

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08:00 am - A Year in Pictures – Mossy Branch

Mossy Branch
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Mostly one goes to Filoli to look at the flowers (which are indeed stupendous in the right season). But there are other bits of beauty there — like this tree branch, utterly carpeted in thick moss.

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