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desperance

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Note to self [02 Jun 2015|04:07pm]
"Putting the kettle on" implies a complex sequence of actions, above and beyond the merely literal. It is not enough to set the kettle on the hob. Not only is there an obligation to fill it with water first; even Lambda Award winners will find it necessary also to turn the heat on underneath. We are insufficiently hot, in and of ourselves. Who knew?

Tea may be a little delayed this afternoon. Sigh.

[Also, my fumm huts. Why's my fumm hurt? Doesn't it know I won an award? *waits for celebrity to hit, and turn all ponies to unicorns*]
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Either this illumination goes, or I do [02 Jun 2015|03:50pm]
Flickery lightbulb is flickery.

I'm just stepping out of the study. I may be some time.
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Oscar Wilde. On Mars [02 Jun 2015|09:36am]
I forgot to mention, didn't I? My story in the special "Queers Destroy SF" issue of Lightspeed is the second story from my Mars Imperial sequence. Featuring Oscar Wilde, because if Mars were a province of the British Empire? Oscar would so very much have gone there. After gaol, after Paris. He would have got away from Paris, before the wallpaper could kill him.

My entire mind has been filled for two years now with "Y'know, if Mars were a province of the British Empire, then [x] would so very much have gone there..." I could people a planet with exiles. Hell, I am peopling a planet with exiles. Next up, T E Lawrence...

[EtA: the icon, of course, is the Martian flag: the Union flag with a red border. Red, red, white and blue...]
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Queers Destroy Science Fiction [02 Jun 2015|07:43am]
Why no, the subject line does not refer to my winning of the Lambda Award, tho' it probably should.

The "Queers Destroy SF" issue of Lightspeed is now available for purchase as an e-book, both from Lightspeed itself and other purveyors of fine electrofiction.

And this is what the pretty pretty cover looks like:

lightspeed_61_june_2015

(Oh, did I neglect to mention that my story "The Astrakhan, The Homburg and The Red Red Coal" is contained within its pretty, pretty covers?)
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Jesus fuckin' wept [01 Jun 2015|11:13pm]
I am playing a game of Scrabble, online; and I have just been told that "precision" is not a valid word. What the fuck?
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Lammy, redux (the more considered post) [01 Jun 2015|05:32pm]
I couldn't actually fly to New York for the Lambda ceremony, on the off-chance that I'd win*. (Actually, I was tolerably certain that Max Gladstone would win; he's the guy getting the buzz on my social media, and I did a gig with him in SF and his book is outstandingly good. Also, it was his tweet that alerted me that I had won instead, which is kinda cool.) Which being true, the Lammy admin is oddly restrictive: I couldn't ask someone else to accept the award for me, and I couldn't send in an acceptance note to be read in my absence.

Which-all being true, here is the speech I would've given if I'd been there, kept down to the one minute they ask for:

The real reasons I'm getting this award tonight are Steve Berman, my publisher at Lethe Press, who waited literally years for me to get around to sorting out the stories for this collection; and m'wife Karen, who finally sorted out the stories for this collection when it became abundantly clear that I was never ever going to get around to it; and our genius cover artist Elizabeth Leggett, who produced a piece more evocative than it is lovely, more lovely than it is powerful, more powerful than I had any right to hope. Properly, they each get a quarter of this; shamefully, I am keeping the whole thing for myself. (Well, except that I do live with one of the above, so she gets to keep the whole thing too.)

*bows, waltzes off to rapturous applause*

And in case you've forgotten, here is that cover:

new cover 2

and here's what the Lambda reviewer said about the book inside.


*I have long, long experience of coming second, never being quite good enough. Ian Rankin and I used to have an agreement, back when I was a crime writer, whereby whenever we were on a shortlist together, he'd win. We stuck to that for years.
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Lammy! [01 Jun 2015|04:40pm]
Hey, people, here's a thing. I just won a Lambda Award for my collection Bitter Waters. Ain't that cool?
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Sale! In translation! In Mexican! [01 Jun 2015|12:33pm]
Adriana says it was seven years ago; if you'd asked me, I'd have guessed it was longer, but my sense of time is irrevocably screwed*, so I depend on other people's.

Anyway: long and long ago, Adriana asked if she could translate my story "Going the Jerusalem Mile" into Spanish and include it in an anthology to be published in Mexico. Why yes, I said, that would be fine.

And time passed, and obstacles occurred, and funding vanished; but Adriana is nothing if not persistent, and now it's a done deal. Sombra del árbol de la noche: Nueva narrativa británica de fantasmas y portentos will be published by Secretaría de Cultura de la Ciudad de Mexico, and distributed for free at a book fair in Mexico City and through a government programme. And it will contain my story. I couldn't be more pleased.


*It is five years and seven months since my life changed; it seems much less than that. Conversely, everything that happened before that seems much, much further away.
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Well, who'da thunk it? [30 May 2015|06:03pm]
Turns out that if you feed roses, they burst into effulgeous bloom. Who knew? (I swear I'd taken a photo, but I cannot find it. And I can't go out to take another, because the yard guys have turned up - finally, at 6pm on a Saturday - and obviously I cannot exist in the same space as other people, brrr, I must hide up till they're gone.)

It may be that the same is true of cats, that they only thrive if fed adequately. Clearly the opposite is true, that if you starve & deprive them they turn so weak that their legs cannot support their frail bodies. As witness:

IMG_20150530_112248

and wait, there's more:

IMG_20150530_153812

That poor, poor boy. Starved and humiliated both, exhibited in his agony...
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Early to bread, early to rise [30 May 2015|10:07am]
I should just like it to be known and posted internationally, globally, world-wide, that I had two different kinds of dough mixed and rising before nine-thirty of a Saturday morning, and before coffee occurred. That is all.

(Our oven has been dead three days, and was fixed yesterday afternoon, too late to bake; so now I am catching up. Also I am going to start an Oven Fund, in the way of Decca Mitford's Running Away Account, so that the next time this one fails I may have enough for something splendid. If we've needed the money meanwhile for something else, so be it - but I may never have the option for a top-range range again, and it would be awfully nice.)
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DotD [28 May 2015|05:38pm]
Here, have today's rash darling:

Croft and I had been friends as two bulls are friends, always head to head; Rulf and I were friends as two cats are friends, always sidelong in the corner of each other’s eye.

Why, yes: I am writing about Vikings in Alexandria. Why do you ask?
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What is the trouble with slovenliness? [28 May 2015|03:51pm]
The trouble with being a sloven is that you never get the credit you deserve for cleaning up. No one coming tonight would ever imagine that corner of the kitchen table could have been so grubby, so none of them will see the effort I just put in to make it otherwise.

In this as in everything, I am doomed to be underappreciated. *sigh*

[EtA: why yes, I did just clean one corner of the kitchen table. The rest of the table has stuff on it. What's your point?]
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Awesom iz as Chazzie duz [27 May 2015|05:58pm]
I wouldn't (dare to) say I had it back, but I may at least have dug my mojo out from the dark tunnel where it's been lurking. I expect it'll bite me now, but hey. Mojo!

Monday, as you know, I wrote 2.5K and cut 1.5 of not-the-same-K.

Tuesday, I cut another K and submitted that story <12hrs past the deadline, and the sky fell not upon my head.

But I have another deadline, which is mechanically fixed at the end of this month and cannot be pleaded with, negotiated, wheedled; which would have proved impossible, except that I have an unfinished story from long and long ago, which may actually work. Except that the unfinished portion was almost 11K yesterday afternoon, and the limit for this new deadline is 7.5.

So yesterday I read what I had and scribbled all over, and then Jeannie and I went up to the city to see A Little Night Music. She gets to marry the miller's son, for I am married already.

And today I worked through that scribbled MS, and cut near 4.5K from it, so I have at least a little room to move; and I think I know where the story wants to go, which I didn't before (hence "unfinished", for years'n'years - but I do love how stories stay fresh in the deep-freeze of my mind, even though that means I have to keep it dark and bitter chill in there).

So yay me, and tomorrow I get to write more newstuff, and we see if I do actually have mojo.

Meanwhile it's mac-and-cheese for dinner, by particular request. Okey-doke, then.
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Unwriting [25 May 2015|05:13pm]
I will never do this; but it struck me as I walked back from Lucky's, I could totally write a trilogy about living in Silicon Valley. The books would be called Geek Street, Unreal City and Uncanny Valley, and they would be hailed as exemplary, and masterpieces of their kind.

(I do love planning books I'll never write. Among my nonfiction, you will also never find State of Grace, my slim volume about the Vatican. Which also had a sequel which was State of [Something Else], but tragically I don't remember that.)

And in other news, I have written 2400 words today, and when did I last do that?

Now I have to unwrite, almost exactly 2400 words. No, not the same words. Other ones. And that-all has to happen today, too.

Oh, and if you play Scrabble? Your challenge for today is to take six vowels and a blank tile, and make a seven-letter word with them. *smugs* (Actually, that's not fair; that isn't quite what I did. Take six vowels - your choice, for I am making this easy - and a blank, and build an eight-letter word on an extant G.)
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Let's go down, won't you come on down? [22 May 2015|06:10pm]
I have been earwormed by most of the soundtrack of Oh Brother Where Art Thou?, without even having watched it for ages; but it doesn't matter.

M'wife has gone off to BayCon, ostensibly to collect our badges and do her first panel and come straight home again; in fact, to nobody's surprise, she has been waylaid by a friend and will be staying for dinner and who knows what afterwards. Meanwhile I have stayed home to avoid the fun, but it really doesn't matter.

I have this story, see, that I really have to finish this weekend, I really do. And finally, after weeks'n'weeks, I think I have it figured out; and now I just have to write down the figurings. I just have to. So I have stayed home, and am writing.

Also I have opened the first bottle of wine, and am drinking; and am virtuously eating my way through a fridgeful of leftovers, in a tidying kind of way. Also a friend of ours has begun brewing beer rather seriously, and we hear about this quite a lot and get to sample the product not nearly enough, and I have my eye on a book and my thoughts on a space in the clubhouse, because why on earth do I not brew?

Mostly, though, I am writing. I am eating and drinking at my desk, and not internetting very much at all, while largely I lay down phosphors in a due and proper order. Almost a thousand words' worth so far today, and how long is it since I could say that?
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In which I am marginally smart, and friends are fabulous [21 May 2015|09:09am]
So remember yesterday that Ubuntu's auto-upgrade program stalled halfway through, and I was worried about whether I should ever turn the machine off, for fear of not getting back in again?

So of course I forgot about that at the end of yesterday, for there had been food and drink taken, and in company too, and you know how that goes. So I turned the machine off as I always do, and blithely went to bed.

And woke this morning, and zoomed off to coffee without even thinking about turning it on again first; and came home in good time for the boys' breakfast and a massage after, in good time to check my email even before the boys' breakfast - and remembered, and thought "Hey-ho, let's see, then..."

And booted up, and - nothing. Blank screen. Blank mind, panic, OMGwhatamIsupposedtodonow? With added IhaveastorythatIhavetofinishtodayontopofeverythingelse.

But! After a couple of minutes of that, I thought, "Oh, wait - glimmer of light! Blank screen on boot-up is a known issue with new installs of Ubuntu on my graphics card, and the machine usually fixes that on updates, but if that's what got interrupted - well, I know how to hack the boot loader to get around that..."

So I did my little bit of hackery, and waddayaknow? Instant access. Yay me.

And then I found this lovely message from brooksmoses, telling me how to run upgrades from a terminal; so I did that (after I fed the boys, aye), and the blessed thing even told me what had got interrupted yesterday and how to fix that manually, so I did that too, and it all worked, and now I have a settled happy machine again. And am reminded once again how much I used to love command-line computing, and how I really wish I'd learn(ed) Linux properly - way back when or even now, now would be good too - because this is like fumbling with a phrasebook as against speaking a language, and I resent myself for letting it happen this way.

Anyway, that's where we are: reconstituted. And thoroughly massaged (yay Ray!), and nothing to do now but IalreadytoldyouIhaveastorythatIhavetofinishtodayontopofeverythingelse.

Oh, and dealing with the detritus of last night. I should do that first. It's a mess out there.
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Where the day went: went it well? [20 May 2015|04:14pm]
There's a consolation in making retrospective lists, I find, as much as there is pressure in making lists to-do. More pressure is the last of everything I need; so today, I have:

Created a chilli out of braised beef ribs, along with the beans that I first soaked and then boiled in their stock, plus sizzled onions and carrots and celery and half a jar of vegetable juice in lieu of tinned tomatoes;

Broken down a duck carcass, salted and herbed its pieces rubbingly, rinsed them off and sealed them individually in vacuum bags, and set them to cook sous-vide for five hours;

Shopped heroically for wine and vegetables*;

Run two loads of laundry through the washer and the dryer to the bed;

Filled, run and emptied the dishwasher;

Watered the garden and angsted over half the plants thereof;

And written some. Not much, nowhere near enough, but some at least. I want to write more, I want to write more now; but it's important sometimes to stop and make lists that you can tick off in their entirety. Also, m'wife's come home, so.


*For the purpose of this discussion, bacon is a vegetable, 'k?
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Eek [20 May 2015|11:02am]
Ubuntu wanted to update itself this morning. This happens regularly, and it's easy; I say okay, give it the password, and it downloads a new iteration of itself and installs it all and there you go.

Except that this morning, the process froze halfway through for no reason that itself understands - and now I have no idea what will happen when I next try to turn the machine on. Whether it'll carry on running on the previous version, or choke itself on half-installed new software and grind to a crashing halt. And I don't know whether to keep this fully functional Deathstar PC running as is for as long as possible, or close everything down and reboot just to find out where we stand.

My professional self inclines to the former, because I have a story on dreadful-tight deadline and really I should be doing nothing else. I can keep the machine on a week if necessary, two weeks, however long I like; closing down is a courtesy, not an obligation. I could keep it on until the next update comes down the line, and avoid the potential problem by o'erleaping it, frogwise.

But some deeper sense of self is twitchy. If doom is squatting in the bowels of my computer, I kind of want to know about it. And panic, and scutter in circles muttering about my own stupidity, because of course there's nothing I can do, I'm not near techie enough to fix a bad install.

*twitch*

In other news, I've just broken down a duck. I'm going to vac-seal the pieces and sous-vide them, after they've sat in a salt rub for a while; then crisp 'em up in the oven, if the oven will cooperate. With potatoes also sous-vided, then bashed and oven-crisped, if if. Damn these doubts. I would've simply roasted the duck, because story etc, if I could've relied on the oven's being there when I wanted it. (Also there will be beef chilli, because I've been doing that for three days; the duck flew in unexpecctedly.)
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3 - 2 - 1 [19 May 2015|12:08pm]
There were three mousies by the back door this morning, when we got up. Three. And we still wouldn't let Mac outside.

During the morning, those three have been whittled down to two, and now to one. He is offering them, I guess, to some more worthy being. Or building an altar to some appalling god, who will come down to wreak terrible vengeance on us. One or the other.

One of the things Mac is missing, in his cruel incarceration? The World's Tiniest Rose(tm) has put forth two count 'em two blooms, weirdly out of scale. As witness, yesterday:

IMG_20150518_102854

Also yesterday, I put beans to soak not in water but in beef stock. This morning I am boiling 'em in same, thereby reducing the stock to dark gelatinous delight as well as cooking the beans. I have chilli in mind for tomorrow's dinner, and three days seems a fair amount of time to devote to it. I don't know how far the flavour of the stock will penetrate the beans, but I guess we'll find out...

In alternately other newses, I still don't feel great but am better; my Fitbit seems once again to have been dead for days (note to Fitbit: messages saying "Your Fitbit needs charging" are more useful when they arrive before it dies entirely, rather than immediately after I recharge it five days later); the oven died again last night but is alive again this morning. Memo to world: everything should work perfectly all the time, 'k?

[EtA: in honour of iZombie, I shall have brains on toast for lunch today. Possibly with hot sauce. I do not anticipate piggy-visions.]
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I am sure there is a solution, but I am sure it is not this [18 May 2015|11:04am]
I have written five words, and I may be done for the day. I may be done for this lifetime, but that's another issue. Right now, immediately, it's all about environment. Which - well, I do keep trying here, but it keeps not being right.

I'm in the library, in the Quiet Zone; and between the woman whose page-forward on her reading device makes an almost but not quite regular clicking, and the young man who mutters and laughs and occasionally cries out as he reads his phone, I am entirely atwitch and utterly unable to focus on anything except them.

Oh, and now he's singing.

Maybe I'll try the coffeeshop (which I continue as ever to type "coffeeship" first time of asking; which reminds me, I want a coffeeship). But I haven't been well all weekend, and although I did drink coffee this morning - first time in forty-eight hours, for lo, I was that sick yesterday; I drank white tea and forwent a dim sum brunch with friends, that sick - I'm not wholly certain that I'm ready for full-immersion protocols.

I am absolutely certain that I need some otherwhere to work.

OHG, he's tired. He's just announced it to the entire library. I'm sure we're all grateful to learn that.

Maybe I just need to rediscover the fine art of actually getting work done at home, the way I used to. But the Lit & Phil may have spoiled me for that. Indeed, the Lit & Phil may have spoiled me for everything. But I'm willing to try everything, before we finally settle for that.
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