Blog Without A Name

In which Rolanni’s mind skips town

Oh, it’ll be back, likely spinning some unbelievable-but-amusing vignette of the plot-line that got away. It’s done this before.

In the meantime, I have two loaves of bread in the oven — I must say that the cold-rise bread is tasty. And so easy! Well. Except for the part where Hexapuma tries to leap into the oven to help me set in (or take out) the pans. Blackened Coon Cat is so not on the menu.

It was snowing today when I came home from the day-job. Big, sloppy, wet flakes that splattered on the windscreen when they struck. How big were those snowflakes, you wonder? They were each the size of a chickadee. Six of them were a white-out.

Once home, I paid bills, and did a bit of overdue bookkeeping. And now? I’m beat, and foresee an early bedtime.

However, before I go, I did want to tell those who may not have seen it elsewhere that the SFSite has posted the results of its readers’ poll for Best Ten Books of 2010. I love this list, which, by the time you count the Honourable Mentions becomes the Twenty-Six Best Books of 2010. And! Not only is it generous in measure, it’s a really good list of books you might want to check into, if you, like me, are constantly behind the year in your reading.

Anyhow, on that list, over at the SFSite, we have Saltation by Lee and Miller tied at Number 10 with Changes, the 12th Harry Dresden novel by Jim Butcher.

But wait, I’m not finished yet!

Down in the Honourable Mentions, Mouse and Dragon by Lee and Miller is tied with Horns by Joe Hill for the Number 15 slot, while Carousel Tides by Sharon Lee is tied with Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord for Number 18.

Three books in a Top 26 list? Not too shabby, says I.

And, now — the bread is done. Gotta race Hex to the oven.

First line meme

. . .shamelessly stolen from matociquala — first lines from “my” works in progress.  I’ll note that my list is much shorter than hers, so if you want more tasty nuggets, hie yourself over to her LJ.

“Intelligent Design”
It was, Er Thom yos’Galan Clan Korval thought, an entirely unsubtle letter.

The book currently known as George:
Inside the duct, it was hot and wet — nothing new there, thought Kezzi, shifting her weight carefully.

Untitled Kate Archer short story:
When I was a kid, my grandmother had a dog.

Books read in 2011

The Bull God, Roberta Gellis (e)
Sin in the Second City, Karen Abbott
Of Blood and Honey, Stina Leicht (e)
The God Engines, John Scalzi (e)
Or Else My Lady Keeps the Key, Kage Baker (e)
Unseen, Rachel Caine
Total Eclipse, Rachel Caine
Weight of Stone, Laura Anne Gilman
The Story of Chicago May, Nuala O’Faolain

She calls me Baby; she calls everybody Baby

Tonight, Steve and I are going to see “The King’s Speech,” possibly the last people on the planet to do so.  We will, I believe, be home before the snow — I believe it’s to start as snow — begins, around midnight, heralding the arrival of what I make to be three solid days of various sorts of precipitation.  This?  Will be fun, considering that the driveway is already a quagmire.

The first year we were in this house, we had a sudden and exceptionally sodden Mud Season.  In fact, we lost a UPS truck in the driveway, when the driver inadvertently backed onto the supersaturated service.  He was able to leap to the safety of the tarmac, but there was no saving the truck.  It’s still under there; occasionally a mud-smeared box or plastic envelope will rise to the surface.  And I must say that the driveway is much more stable in that section.

While I’m here, I want to remind the procrastinators among us — you know who you are — that there’s still time to vote in the Locus Poll for your favorite work of science fiction and fantasy from 2010.  Drop-down boxes helpfully give the titles of those works which appear on the Locus Recommended Reading List; write-in spaces are also provided.

The Locus Poll is a reader poll. Anyone can vote. Please only vote once. Mr. Kelly takes a dim, dim view of “ballot box stuffing.” As he should. If you participate, please also be truthful about your gender. Mr. Kelly has in the past had a difficult time believing that women read SF in numbers.



Back on your heads

Did Saturday chores and finally got back with the revisioning of “Intelligent Design.” The back-brain, which has been busily feeding me Cool! Stuff! for George is not appreciative. I have carefully explained that, if we finish the story now, we won’t have to stop working on George until it’s done, but since when does logic weigh with the Boys in the Basement?

I’d meant to get a nap today, but, what with one thing and another, that never happened. Feeling a little loopy, perhaps as a consequence, or as a side-effect of actually doing some work for the first time in more than a week.

Mozart is on my his rocking chair, emitting sleep rays. Hah! I shall foil him by retreating to the kitchen for lunch.

Hope everybody had a fine day and a relaxing evening.

Progress on “Intelligent Design”
8,178 out of 10,000 words OR 81.78% complete

Writer Brain

A reader asked what my interest in Sin in the Second City — the history of the Everleigh brothel in Chicago — was. The short answer is that I’m interested in the demimonde. We do work with certain types of. . .unsavory. . .individuals in our books and stories. Audrey Breckstone, for instance, runs a whorehouse in Boss Conrad’s territory on Surebleak, so reading about Chicago May and the Everleigh sisters could be annointed as “research.” But, yanno, everything’s research when you write fiction — see “grist for the mill.”

What also interested me about the Everleigh’s story was the fabric of Chicago at the turn of the century (frequent auditors of this journal will recall that I’m also guilty of reading The Devil in the White City), of which the club, and the Levee and the First Ward were all vibrant strands, the larger fabric of the nation at the time, and the. . .ease with which sexual hysteria gave birth to what became the FBI.

I must say that Sin in the Second City is miles above The Story of Chicago May in terms of author competence and, therefore, this reader’s enjoyment. Nuala O’Faolain seemed, at best, baffled by her subject, frustrated with actions that made no sense to a memoirist trying to get into another woman’s head. Ultimately, her attempt left me unsatisfied, and a little annoyed at her whispered conclusion that such women as May, really, don’t deserve the scrutiny of history.

Karen Abbott, on the other hand, is a reporter. She writes a clean hand, and brings a firm, largely non-judgmental voice to her narrative. Her book was a pleasure to read, and I came away from it with a nice headful of thoughts and ideas. Ms. Abbott learned that very valuable lesson — News (and History) is People.

Granted, part of the difference in the richness of the narration is the available records. May left a book, written after she was “reformed” and apparently none too factual. There were some police and prison records, a few newspaper reports. She was a part of the scenery of her time, only briefly elevated to newswothiness by her membership in a particularly inept criminal enterprise.

The Everleigh sisters, on the other hand, strove to be seen, to make a mark, to be favorably reviewed. Their club was patronized by Chicago’s wealthiest and best-placed men. They were firm pillars of the First Ward, if only for the staggering amount of protection money they paid.

They were also interesting to me because of their enlightened business model. They ran a whorehouse in Chicago in the early 1900s. At a time when their nearest competitor was charging $10 (in 1900-bucks, now) a trick, the Everleigh “butterflies” charged a whopping $50 per client. The girls were seen by a real doctor retained by the house, who, among other benefits, advised them to adopt what the Chicago Vice Commission some years later characterized as “perversion” in order to avoid disease and “other problems.” An Everleigh harlot could expect to earn (“take-home pay,” if you will) between $50 and $400 a week (in 1900-bucks). The “butterflies” were the healthiest, best-paid sex workers in the city of Chicago. It was a business model that succeeded brilliantly, and by its success ought to have inspired others to take up their methods.

Politics and people being what they are, of course that didn’t happen.

. . .This is all aside the “morality” of the business, of course, “morality” being a slippery stair at best. And certainly even high-class whores were subject to the various environmental dangers of living in the Levee, the quintessential Bad Neighborhood.

. . .which reminds me — notice the Writer Brain at work — of an article I read not too long ago about the uranium mines in. . .Colorado? There was “proved” a connection between working the mines to a high incidence of cancers among the mine workers, and so the mines were shut. No other business came to replace it, which is, if Maine is any measure, About Par, leaving the people out of pocket and wanting to work.

Every single person the reporter investigating this place spoke to bemoaned the loss of the “good jobs.” Yes, lots of people in town died of cancer, but the jobs in the mines were “good jobs” they were glad to have them, and they would return to the mine in a heartbeat if it were opened again. Life, the interviewees said, though not in so many words, is dangerous; people die here. It’s how we live and provide for our families that’s important.

. . .and — last diversion, I promise — a few years ago, I was reading histories of Indian abductions. At that time, a reader asked me why on earth I was reading that stuff. And I answered that I supposed the back-brain wanted it for something, and I had learned not to inquire too closely into these matters.

Years later, I now know why the back-brain wanted abduction stories, so — research. It’s all around you.

Books read in 2011

Sin in the Second City, Karen Abbott
Of Blood and Honey, Stina Leicht (e)
The God Engines, John Scalzi (e)
Or Else My Lady Keeps the Key, Kage Baker (e)
Unseen, Rachel Caine
Total Eclipse, Rachel Caine
Weight of Stone, Laura Anne Gilman
The Story of Chicago May, Nuala O’Faolain

Saturday in Review

The drive to Bridgton was pleasant in a bright and sunny, but very blustery, day. We did the interview for “What are you reading?” in two segments, and are promised a copy of the final show.

Out again into the day and home by an alternate route, battling the wind the while. Stopped at Best Buys in Augusta to try out the Nook and the Kindle, but was defeated by the two-inch anchor cords and the lack of any sales associate sufficiently interested in selling ebook readers this afternoon. One thing that I did determine during our messing about and self-tutoring was that I was Really Not Happy with the whole Kindle keyboard thing and the navigation ring (discovered by Steve — I could’ve looked at it all day and never recognized it as an Important Manipulative Component) made me buggy.

While we were in that part the world, we took the core-board-mounted cover art for Mouse and Dragon to A.C. Moore, hoping to be able to find the frame segments that snap around odd-sized art. Alas, A.C. Moore was not able to accommodate us, but the young lady who waited on us took one look at David Mattingly’s wonderful art and said, “Where can I buy a copy of that book? Can I download it to my Kindle?” And so we had a lively conversation about B&N, if she wanted hardcopy, and Webscriptions if she wanted it on her Kindle above all else, and she recommended Michaels for the segmented frames.

As it happens, Michaels is right next to Barnes and Noble up on the other side of Augusta, and BN was our next stop. We arrived to find that, indeed, the very segmented frames that we were looking for were to be had at Michaels, and have them we did. We then repaired to BN where, after a demo of the NookColor and the eInk Nook by a patient and capable Kate, Sharon committed eInk Nook, which is charging even now on the kitchen counter. I also purchased the easel Nookcover, though I have yet to purchase a book. Tomorrow, surely, is soon enough for that adventure.

I want to thank everyone for their input on electronic reading devices. The discussion helped clarify what was most important for me in a Device of My Own, and also gave me very useful pointers.

I’m very excited about my new toy, and hope that we’ll have lots of time together and share many good reads.

Now, I guess I better go download Calibre.

What did you do today that was exciting?

Knights in armor, bent on chivalry

That?  Was a staggeringly unpleasant week.  Let us speak of it no more.

Instead, let us speak of what Steve and I will be doing tomorrow, which is driving out to Bridgton to record an interview on “What Are You Reading?”, which airs on Lake District Cable. Bridgton’s a pretty place, a couple hours away from the location of the Cat Farm, and we anticipate a pleasant, relaxing drive and a good time at the interview itself.

In other news, the taxes have been dropped off with the accountant, so Sunday I’ll start revising “Intelligent Design.” That done, I’ll be clear to reread and get back with George, which still hasn’t forked over with a Title. Though, yanno, if there can be a movie called Harvey why not a book called George?

A question for all you ebook readers out there. I’ve actually been enjoying reading with the Nook app on my Android, which I never thought I’d say. But I really like that I can make the text bigger and read without my glasses, and I like how crisp the resolution is, and the page-turn — which was slllloooooowwwwwww in the One Real Nook I’ve ever held in my hands — is snappy. So, I’m thinking…maybe an ebook reader. But! There’s the brand-new iteration of the Kindle, of which I’ve heard lovely things, including the fact that they’ve got the hand-feel down to mass market weight, and, well — weight counts. I could never hold one of your whomping great Ipads and read on a book on it.

So, those of you with ’em — how’s the refresh rate on the actual Nook and Kindle? Comparable weights? Glad you have one? Wish you hadn’t bothered? What do I need to know? What should I think about before I plunge my next bit of crazy money into one of these things? Tell all.

In the meantime, I’m going to go vacuum the house and terrify the cats. Double the fun!