Thursday, May 31, 2012

BSG, A Concluding Review

Like my brother, I'm a Procrastacritic.  Hey, it is fun.  Today's special:  Battlestar Galactica, and how it ended.  (Pretty much spoiler-free I'd say, in case there's actually anyone is left who hasn't seen it ...)

I did finally finish the reboot of Battlestar Galactica.  A lot of people seemed to reject the way it ended, but I have to confess I don't understand what there might have been to protest.

BSG is addictive TV, and I found it maddening and compelling at the same time.  Sexist, racist, frankly disturbing in a WIDE array of its philosophical particulars - some of these things were actually improving by the end of the series, and some of the really intriguing possibilities were coming into focus.

Certainly this shouldn't be the basis of protest ...  Please?  Please.

As to the plot ...

The ultimate conclusion seemed to me the only possible choice the series could have made and actually COME to a "conclusion" by any definition I understand the term.  I had expected exactly the denouement they provided before I ever even watched the show.  So, if the way they did that was the matter of protest ... I'd simply be bewildered.  Maybe the "it's been done before" was too much for some ... but I'm not convinced that makes the choice incorrect.

What were people hoping for instead?

The only available alternatives would absolutely have necessitated further wars for our crew.  With no end to hostilities:  there can be no conclusion, no ending.  And this series was promising an ENDING from its first seconds onscreen.  This was all but a money shot - and, regardless of The Onion's hilarious (NSFW) take, those are not exactly, ahm, trick endings.  Er.

Maybe only the very final epilogue was a problem.  Eh, I don't really see why.

My only issue with the series' wind-up was the pointlessness of the hyper-drama regarding Thrace, but overall I had never been quite as in love with Starbuck as a character as it was plain I was meant to be.  I didn't dislike her, not one bit - loved the casting of a woman (one of few who didn't as much suffer the "Wimmin = dirty old sex = EVIL" formulation pretty much ALL the rest of the female characters, except for the president [*old* women are not allowed to be sexual], were saddled with in this series).  But I found her "chemistry" with Appollo to be incredibly tedious, not to say outright forced-pointlessness, the entire way along after the first fifteen second burst of, "Oh - they're turning homoerotic buddy-characters on their heads - hah" amusement.  That fifteen second amusement was insufficient justification for imprisoning two lead characters (not actually quite as interesting as ... almost any of the other characters, at that - their being pretty is also insufficient for me) in a completely unnecessary, trope-bound arc of urge-and-resistance.  Meh.

My guess is that this disinterest in the hot twenty-something blonde supposedly at the heart of this series was NOT shared by those who howled in anger at the series' finale.

Historical Fiction in the World

Things are looking up all genre over.  And congratulations Donroc!

Researching Clotilde

Like her husband, Queen Saint Clotilde's name is rooted on the term hludo, a root which also gave us the word loud, and which means famed.  It is often translated as "bright" or "shining" - but, for modern ease of understanding, I think "famed" makes more sense for precision and the intellectual transfer we must make for mental translation.  The cognate term loud explains the resonance - fame can come from a great noise.  But brightness, though I can understand why it is sometimes used, doesn't link to that cognate word (loud) and so doesn't create the chain of meaning quite the same way.

Clotilde, though ... maybe "bright" is a feminine term in my mind, maybe "shining" just captures some aspect of this woman in the same terms as the character I came to know, writing her ... I like the flash of light this translation represents.

Clovis - hludo and wiga - famed warrior.

Clotilde - hludo and tild - bright battle.

Each of their names carries a deep resonance for me as the author of characters inspired by these real people.    Battle might not seem an apt name for the Catholic saint who brought the first king in Gaul, the first king in Europe, to her Church.  Yet she did mount a campaign, and Clovis' conversion in the end has been marked as her victory.

In many ways, too ... relationships - marriages - are a battle.  I don't say that in some pejorative sense, nor the shallow-brained manner people affect, making unfunny jokes about opposite genders, or reducing lifetime commitments to battles of will.  Clotilde, as I encountered her, is more than capable of pitting our king to just such a battle.

But marriage is work.  Is now, was then, always has been, between people who want more of it - from each other - than exactly those shallow stereotypes I deny employing just above.  And if a couple are required to work together, at times it will engender clashes inward and outward as well.  Clovis and Clotilde come against one another from time to time (even as their relationship is durably powerful emotionally and physically), but also find themselves called to stand together and face challenges as well.

Bright battle.  Shining saint.  Remarkable woman.  This is my Queen ... Saint Clotilde.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tudor Tutor

It seems that no less a twit than an Oxford history don thinks that calling an era after the name of its rulers is twaddle - because they didn't do that in real time.

Tune in next time, when we whinge about the term The Dark Ages, because the ignoramii living in that period didn't call it that.

(Bonus time:  what did the people born Before the Common Era call their years ... ?)

Holy smokes.

Monday, May 28, 2012


I got stood up three times this weekend, I've taken over seven months and am not halfway complete in my revisions, because I just can't get any feedback, and the man I love is 4000 miles away.

Oh, hey look:  HORMONES.  Who'd have guessed.



At 152,200 even, I am calling it a weekend and closing the MSS.  *Zonk*

Revision Work

Working on dialogue today, rather than slash-and-burn deletion - but the word count is still going down slightly, as I am able to nip off bits here and there.

Perhaps the lager cuts should feel better, but this seems somehow more "important" work in a way.  In this, I am affecting tone, not merely removing bulk and weight, and even so I'm still keeping things moving in the right direction.

The bit-by-bit can be more fulfilling than the wide-swath cuts, because it requires so much more attention.

In Honor of Beer

Beer has NEVER been my drink, and never will be - yet I admit a certain fascination with its history.  If you want to hear something about the stuff before it was canned and cold, take a spin and give it 43 minutes or so.  "How Beer Saved the World."

Beer even gave us writing ... so it says.  So I can be grateful for that.  (Feel free to assume my indulgently skeptical *eyebrow* here.)

Horror is: A Writer!

The people I know seem overall not to get to know Clovis well enough to spend much time judging me for writing about him.  A lot of writers have to deal with others' preconceptions, though, all the time.  "Ooh, you write horror? (Something must be wrong with you ...)"  Or maybe the author of Young Adult must be emotionally stunted, immature.  Romance, she must be desperate - who knows.

Finding out I write battles and beheadings, it would seem impossible, from my perspective, for anyone who knows me - middle-aged, suburban, secretarial me - to conflate me with my work in any way.  There doesn't, to me, seem any correlation between my self and my characters.  I don't nurture them as avatars for my desires and dreams.

The major part of what fascinates me about story - any story; my own, or others; fiction or history (or ... both) - is separating from my little niche within the world.  Women like me disinterest me supremely, in writing.  The world I occupy doesn't draw me in:  I *am* in it.  For entertainment, I want to be removed, I want to experience something *else*, I want to LEARN something - and, chauvinistically, I don't feel the experience I already have has as much to teach me as that I may not understand or know.

Writing - and reading - are, for me, an exercise in "Calgon, take me away!" ... not a means by which to explore the familiar.  And so, for me, the idea that I must be equated with my story is somewhat puzzling.  Even knowing perfectly well my level of investment is unique, and outright strange (even sad, I think, to some who feel such passion in their involvement with their characters - though I don't think Leila feels this way about me!), it's hard for me to imagine even the most self-projecting reader or writer looking at me and thinking, "She wants to sink an ax in somebody's skull" ...

Heh.  Then again, certain afternoons at work - maybe it seems possible.

Sunday, May 27, 2012


My supposed plans for Friday never materialized, when I could not reach, and never heard back from, my supposed date for the evening.

The neighborly cookout has evaporated.

The call I was going to get today, about a movie tomorrow ... not so far.

Considering I'm the only variable here, I have to assume it's me.  But dang.  I thought I at least brushed my teeth enough SOMEBODY might materialize if I weren't too offensive just to be in a room with.  (Clearly, I'm a bit big for my britches.)

It's not that I mind getting a lot done on a long weekend.  It wouldn't matter a poo if people didn't say they *wanted* to make plans.

But this many blowoffs in such a short space is a little bit much.


Hulu Plus appears to have some of the most egregiously awful recommendation algorithms I've EVER seen, and that's saying quite a lot.

Apparently ... ?  I'm supposed to be very interested indeed in rom-coms ... from Korea ... starring very very pretty people ... significantly less than half my age.


What, now ... ???


From 155,199 to 152,534 in one swell foop.  Not bad.

For BroMo

This made me think of you.  BOO!

"We Are Talking to You, Shirtless Matthew McConaghey."

This is wonderful.  And I don't just say it because that one guy not-smiling is Tony Todd.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Challenging Scenes

Clovis' death scene was the one I had a hard time approaching, and which actually makes me cry.  What are the scenes that stop you cold?


It's past eight o'clock and very light outside.  Hot and humid outside, too.  It must be summertime.

Hard to believe that in a month we'll be in for the longest day of the year ... and from there it'll be just a short trip to winter.

Wonder whether we'll actually hold winter this year, or it'll be canceled again for never-ending warm weather.

Have You Seen "The White Rajah" ... ?

Be sure to say where!

Start Writing

There may be some readers who will see the name Collins and roll their eyes, but there are reasons some authors people might get snobby about are as successful as they are.  I've never actually read Jackie, but the fact is I've heard enough about her and even seen scraps of adaptations of her work, and she knows how to grab people.  "Strong women" is one of those phrases with a LOT interpretations - but her strong women have been bestsellers for some decades now.

So take a look at this great little vid Day Al Mohamed posted, and think about what is said, even if you do go a bit twee at the source.  It's solid advice, and some interesting observation, too.

For that matter, take a spin around all the vids she's put up (the link with her name).  It's a remarkable variety, and some of it is refreshing and pithy.

The Emperor's New, Unpublishable Clothes

Thanks to PDR from the Absolute Write histfic fora, for this very good piece.

For those of us who think we've educated ourselves - but still haven't finished revisions and gotten that magical agent/first publishing deal ... where do we stand these days on the various publishing models now available ... ?

Hey, for those who ARE published - where do you stand?

Eats Shoots and Leaves

I love you, Leila!

Who else is a comma lover ... ?

Another Place in French History

The Necklace has always had its fascinations - take a look into a character in that story you might not have seen before ...

Ben Kane

Keep an eye out, everyone - Spartacus is coming!


There is a phrase, "hero of the story" which, in literature classes, is generally replaced with the term protagonist.  Of course, not all main characters are heroes - nor even likeable - and so we have to find a better option.

Clovis has many of the makings of a hero, and I did not write him as a villain - but he's hardly Dudley Do-Right.

Around Clovis cluster certain legends - there are those which cast him as a rapacious Barbarian (oh good lord, the whole BARBARIAN slur and bigotry ...), and at least as much hagiography, in memory of a practically legendary king, in memory of the Christian king, in honor of the father of France.

Then, of course, there are the howlers about the Merovingian Dynasty, which he founded.  The less said the better, there - if you look at the link, it's been done.

I don't know how many authors sit down with an ax to grind (for those who even get that pun ... my apologies), but I don't have the ability to write with any sort of didactic point in mind.  I'm not that convinced of my rectitude, for one, but mostly I don't care to get into arguments - and didactic writing begs for that dang guitarist to get noisy.

I also don't concentrate well on whitewashing a character.  The ones who approach me aren't necessarily nice people - but they do seem to be endowed with much that's worthwhile.  I can't make a hero out of a bad guy - I don't have any urge to - but to invite a character into my brain, there's got to be an attraction.

We know that Clovis was capable of spectacular violence.

Regardless of the sainted memory of Clotilde's conversion of her spouse and king to Catholicism, history appears open to the idea that his spiritual choices were at least partially politically motivated.

He appears to have been a continent husband, but family history is sometimes considered to be wildly bloody.  Even the saint herself is said to have incited her sons to hideous revenge on an uncle said to have murdered her own family.

History is, as it always is, loaded with contradiction and the fascination of pretty spectacular wickedness.  This is a part of what makes parts of it, and players within it, so interesting - and which also feeds the modern sense of superiority we so enjoy when looking down on things like Barbarians, the Dark Ages, medieval violence, even the learning of the past.

It's also loaded with protagonists we sometimes apologize for.

I don't apologize for Clovis.  I do present some of those familial crimes without the prejudice of a middle-aged, middle-class white broad with excesses of privilege, looking backward at a man whose power - whatever his personality - is without question.  I hope I provide a view of him without the mask of either violent legend or glowing sycophancy.  I hope he's as compelling outside my head as he has been for me for so long now - for good and ill, for feeling and wit, for what he did, and for even his failings.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

I Remember ...

... when this blog used to actually get comments.

Now all I ever see 'round here is Russian spambots.  Apparently, I have become painfully boring.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Last Dance

Donna Summer ... Robin Gibb ...

It's like my brother was saying in 1982:  disco is dead.


What people seem loath to believe is that punk's been dead at least 25 years too.  That was rather the point, kiddies.

Seriously - am I too awful ... ?

How Good Does A Whore Have to Be?

... or ... "Yet Another Pop-Culture Critique/Rant/Hypocrisy" ...

When we were together a few weeks ago, I was admitting one of my worst guilty pleasures and we got to talking about reality TV.  He asked me, quite sincerely, because he believes there has to be a reason for things, "What is it that makes these people worth a TV show?"  He wanted to know who reality TV "stars" are - or what they do - that people would want to watch.

The thing about it is that he misunderstands the concept of content in this context.  He and I come from a mindset in which "entertainment" is defined by a certain set of expectations, and "content" is a commodity with demands upon it.  We grew up in a world where television (for instance) was more often written than not.  Entertainment was expected to be about something, involve a plot, make a point, cause some sort of emotional reaction.  It wasn't necessarily sophisticated; it was just the mechanism of "the entertainment industry" in a different time.

Human beings, though, are natural voyeurs, and happy to find lazy ways to make money too.  When we learned (a) how wide an audience there is for "reality" - for peering into other people's supposedly "real" lives - we made fortunes for, at first, the Sally Jessy Raphaels of the world, the Maurys, even the Robin Leaches.  Over the years, one hour of "reality" ceased to be enough, and we began to see The Real World and its ilk, and the genius move was made.

All it takes to make a mint, for anyone who can stomach participating, is to find ostensibly pretty people (the idea of what constitutes "telegenic" is another post I may indeed never have the stomach - nor even the hypocrisy - to write) willing to go on camera for "life".

When I was in my mid-to-late twenties, I can tell you pointblank that watching the Sally Jessy's and the like had an effect on my expectations of myself.  My being a lycra-wearing eighties girl obsessed with whether every man in the world found me attractive in that limited and specific way which seems important to some people (particularly at a certain age) was NOT born of the man who loved and married me back then, nor of my family and lessons I learned from anything resembling life.  It was born of those things I chose to expose myself to, even those things I still pretend to be a snob about and think I am superior to.  It was born of shouty talk shows and Kelly Bundy and commercials glorifying screeching "femininity" and brashness of the sort centered entirely on getting attention, regardless of its type or ramifications.

The diet available today frankly makes me blanche.  I'm daily given reason to be glad I am as old as I am - because if the girl I was then happened to be a girl NOW, I would unquestionably be first in line (in, likely, multiple lines) attempting to sell my "life" so I could be famous, could prove myself interesting, could prove myself "hot", could make money doing so.

The irony, of course, is that my very lack of substance, perhaps to some extent my very lack of certain appeals - that would have been exactly what would have made me what passes now for a wild success.  The tawdriness and emptiness is "what makes these people worthy of a TV show."

Rather than expecting a plot or a point, huge swaths of entertainment now are based on the goal to elicit that glow of schadenfreude which tells viewers they are superior to what they're watching.  Laughs or shocks are always good - and, of curse, there's always that genre of shows pitched at women telling us we are supposed to consider highly saturated magenta and blue lighting on tatty LA mansions as "fairy tale" settings for vicarious love and romance (and, indeed, certainly conditioning younger women and girls in the lessons of hideously distorted gender roles, body image, and social behavior) - but, at the end of the day, SENSATION has come to replace the content middle aged folks like me and X once expected.

It doesn't matter so much who the whore is, willing to be pimped to unseen watchers for the release of sensation their televised experiences will engender.  It doesn't matter which whore you get out of the phone book, if that's a call you want to make, as long as they fit the general description you request.  Willing to abdicate privacy and a personal life, or willing to perform certain unspeakable services - as long as they are, it doesn't matter who it is.  Success is measured not by talent, nor charisma - but only by the reaching of that sensation, the release, the short-term goal of a disinterested consumer.

It doesn't matter who provides their personal exposure - there is really no "who are these people" factored into this transaction, nor the financial rewards of the industry it has given gargantuan birth to.  As long as a fairly minimal interview with casting agents and a perhaps even more minimal background check is perfunctorily satisfied - the human fodder need not be particular nor honestly individual (*peculiar* is not the same thing ...) in order to satisfy the demands of reality TV.

"What is it that makes these people worth a TV show?"

Worth is the wrong choice of words, perhaps.  "Willing to do it" might be more to the point.  And it's a heartbreaking, dispiriting point, really.

I think of the number of women of my generation who wore stripper shoes and tiny dresses on talk shows for one hour of fame back in the eighties, and whose doing so was essentially ephemeral, is now over, and probably forgotten ...  Then I think of the number of women just in a single day, now, whose self-abasement for others' entertainment is likely to live on in a way those talk shows could not have made possible.  I think about how many of them parlay their appearances on The Bachelor or any one of those "Wives" shows or any one of a thousand competitive quasi-beauty or quasi-talent or quasi-game shows into *careers* of selling off further parts of themselves, and it makes me so sad.

And, of course, so superior - about "those kids today" and every possible other middle-aged (having lost my own twentysomething physical appeals) cliche'.  Superior because I escaped the opportunity to sell my entire life like that, and thank G-d I am old enough to have escaped it.  Superior over even the middle-aged, telegenic barbies of my own age, staging hyper dramatic middle school cat fights for a living.  Superior to those who think game shows yield love and commitment worth the name.  Superior to the entertainment itself.

I respond EXACTLY, in short, as I am supposed to.

And it still makes me so sad.  Kicking the whore out of the room when you're done must feel like that.

Why Write?

It can be exhaustingly frequent that you see writers and writing-associated types asking the question "Why Write?" so they can write about why we write.

Why is it exhaustingly seldom anyone says, simply:  "to tell a story" ... ?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

What Is It?

Without this ... life is less ...

What is your sine qua non?

Other Things Suck Too

If you don't know the history of Glass-Steagall:  LEARN IT.

The six largest banks (in the U.S.) control assets equal to sixty-two percent of the ... gross national product.

Be afraid.  And educate yourself about our economy.

Here is a Frontline selection worth perusing.


Some time sucks on the internet are better than others!

It's the Total Perspective Vortex.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Ack - My Back

Okay, I definitely settled too soon/too low with that other driver's insurance company.

Good news is, Brookstone sells these for sixty bucks.  I can afford sixty bucks.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


155,199 tonight.  Only down by 1,784 words.  But down!

Mmm - Fratricide!!

Mother's Day afternoon drew out a long and lovely, pleasant afternoon into the first little dab of evening, and I was much later getting to revisions than I had thought I might be, but have been killing off one shoddy bastard-younger-brother subplot.  Woo!

So far, less of a cut than killing off the sister and her traitorous husband, but still the word count is on the way down, which is the right direction after all.

A good weekend this weekend - Friday was productive, yesterday I got the house clean, today was really nice with mom and stepfather, and he seemed well, which is good to see these days.  He also got in a NICE burn on mom as she and I got ready to run off on our own (as she was taking off her heels from lunch, I hopped in the back seat of their recently purchased vehicle and said "still smells like new car" - he looked at mom changing shoes and said, "That's not what I smelled!" - heh).  Silly, but it's nice when he's silly, and reassuring too.

Finishing off my weekend with a bit of *meh* earlier-seasons SG1 and the aforementioned revisions.  Not at all bad, and ready for a new week.

Friday, May 11, 2012


Work has been fine lately, but a certain intensity of the fire in my belly seems to have been wanting lately, for no particularly good or bad reason; sometimes, you just feel more motivated than others.  I haven't been exceptionally bad, but I do notice in myself that the sense of satisfaction I sometimes get in ticking off a day's accomplishments gives way at other times to a more baseline practicality, which isn't such a bad thing really.  Today, though - maybe it was the fact I allowed myself caffeine (I've given it up almost entirely, which I don't think has hurt a bit in the "I'd have guessed twenty" department when I see a good friend for the first time in a while and she's guessing how much weight I have lost) - maybe it is just because Fridays are my half days, nobody was around (this can be so good for getting a lot of administrivia done), and it's bloody beautiful and not hot outside - maybe I just got sick of myself and threw off self-indulgence for a more constructive indulgence.  I always DO like the way it feels when I can cross off a lot of to-do's in a day, and Fridays are hardly exempt from this spirit and attitude, short though they may be.

At home I'm having a similar outlook.  This weekend's expected plans - since I still haven't found the correct Briggs & Stratton oil cap for my mower online, I'm going to otherwise cover that aperture, and frankly quite enjoy mowing the grass on what is after all a really beautiful, golden, crisp, and breezy day out.  If I can find a utility knife, I will cut the rug Siddy has peed into ruin in half, deposit it in my giant trash thingo, and thumb my nose at the mean sanitation collectors who seem to have a personal grudge against my garbage and its containers, who left the rug this week, and threw the can halfway into traffic, on its nose.  I may even contact the county to report the incessant occurrence of this, which I never see at my neighbors' homes, which is a danger for traffic frankly, and which has given me a complex that somehow these guys actually have it in for me for reasons I cannot begin to fathom.

Also, I'm going to finally make The Call to Verizon, about their craptacularly idiotic billing practices, regarding my FIOS, which may by the end of such call be canceled outright.  They set up a $79.99 package deal which has yet to come in anywhere near $79.99, their customer service is for sh**, and I am sick of the silliness for the sake of cable I didn't especially want in the first place, and can joyously live without in the second place, if they can't get their package deal billing together.  /*grump*

Also on tap this weekend:  deleting that bastard brother (heh) and perhaps some work on Tetrada's subplot, to be sure the continuity maintains.  It would be joy to delete at least 2K more words!  Maybe more than that!  (... readers ... ?  Bueller?)

I am ready, I am caffeinated, and it is the weekend.  Woot and more woot!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Royal Me

Since starting on The Ax and the Vase, I've thought a lot about the point of view and asked myself about it more than once.  First-person is an essentially modern way of telling a story - though it's unquestionably valid, there's a vanity inherent in "I" which is in a way disingenuous to the period.  (It's also something I've been working for years to scrub in my personal life - an ironic observation to make in the ultimate form of *self*-indulgence, a blog, I know.)

First person limits the omniscience of storytelling - but, in Clovis' case, the limitation serves the character in unexpected way.  The limitation provides those blinders a monarchical ruler almost necessarily wears, whether by their own donning or not.  "Must is not a word to be used with princes" Elizabeth I said - and yet, must may be imposed upon them.  Through direct action of those surrounding them, or through the simple working of power - there are those things a prince cannot see.  Will never know, either simply because even the life of a sovereign is subject to mortal capacity - or because not all knowledge may be shared.

There is a plot thread, in Ax, in which a young girl is raped.  Clovis never speaks of her before this event, we don't know her, we scarcely know her existence even provides her a name.  Then, one day, she becomes the crux upon which relationships central in the king's life are forever changed.

We don't really see this girl (her name is Tetrada).  The crime takes place "offstage" and she has not one iota of dialogue.  Before it occurs, she is unimportant to the plot, and afterward she sets in motion things which do not answer to her nor even, after a point, affect her existence.

Tetrada is a catalyst, not a character.  Clovis speaks of her not one bit, and I have wrestled with whether to increase her presence in the novel.  Over time, I have come to the conclusion this should not be done.  (My readers are invited to disagree, of course.)

But here is why I have not developed her.

Clovis is king.  While she is a kinswoman, she is not a living *presence* in his life.  He does not observe her thoughtfully at table, nor consider her relationship to him.  Even in her victimhood (which is in fact itself indeterminate - from the POV of Clovis, she must be the recipient of a rape ... yet it is possible that, objectively, Tetrada participated willingly), the outrage is that anyone WOULD touch the relative of the king.  The law of wergeld sets a high value on her as a childbearing family and community member - but it is her position within the family of *the king* which gives rise to the umbrage and dissolution set in motion by the crime.

First person POV allows me the freedom to leave Tetrada's individuality in doubt.  It doesn't matter - to *the king* - whether she was seduced, lascivious, or raped.  First person provides - even demands, perhaps - the arrogance of egocentricity.  It removes objectivity, and clarifies brightly just how compromised - and biased - the position of a monarch is.

When I first started writing Ax, I questioned whether using first person was a good idea more than once, and never did quite "justify" it in my mind as I completed the manuscript.  The only conclusion I came to about it was that it did not *fail* to work, and after a certain point I considered myself committed to the choice.  Now, looking back, I can reverse engineer all sorts of excuses onto the decision.

At the end of the day, though, it comes down to an author all to familiar with arrogance and vanity - writing a character whose position positively demands a certain level of personally pre-eminent thinking.  A monarch, outside the niceties and protocols of The Royal We, is in the end entirely about "I".  I think it worked, both to bring Clovis to immediate presence - and to provide some of the bias, limitations, distortions, and self importance necessary to the character of a reigning (and, indeed, acquisitively *conquering*) monarch.

Monday, May 7, 2012

My Friend

My beautiful-heart V is sick again - and still.  Three chronic, incurable auto-immune diseases.  She's been on oxygen for almost a month now, and pneumonia struck her today so bizarrely fast and in such a strange way, for a while they thought she might have had a stroke.  This seems to have been ruled out, but I fear for this beloved woman.  X said this - "It seems like she and her husband met, and they had no time before all this started happening."

Her husband, to be sure, has been a hero among men, devoted to her, fierce for her, tender with her, and always behind her, always loyal to her, always so in love with his wife.

He got a crap deal.  She got a crap deal.  Just at that part where it's supposed to say "happily ever after."

If you do this sort of thing, pray for a woman who is herself devoted, fierce, tender, loyal, and loving.  She has been one of the best of my friends, and I am blessed with the most amazing friends.

"I came that they might have life, and life in abundance."

V deserves abundant life.  She has some of the pieces.  Now she needs the health to enjoy, indulge.

She needs to breathe.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Why Is It ...

... the people who care about us most make us feel worst?




Despondent Puppy Face across the room.  Grey, warm, humid.  The scent of banks and banks of honeysuckle outside.


I remember deflowering so many honeysuckle as a kid, stealing the nectar, leaving the beautiful, denuded mounds of the dark green weed without a thought.  Summer smell - like mimosa, like the chlorine at the pool.  Scent of standing poolwater inside the clubhouse.  A different smell - the water under the sun.

"Let's go take a dip" dad would say some evening, after supper.  It would be un-crowded, quiet.  Just long enough to feel cool.  Just long enough to be there together.

Walking in our neighborhood.  Scents everywhere.  Grills, food.  Voices - over the water - over the suburban asphalt streets.

Towels over our shoulders.  Hair solidifying, drying, on the tee shirt, between my shoulder blades.

I'm a kid, my dad will never die.

Neither will my mom.  My brother is just another kid.  It is summer.


It is Sunday.

I Must Be a Virginian ...

... I'm very much against the compulsory change to Blogger's interface.

(Though my reasoning may not be traditionally Southern:  it is just too dang white for me.)

Music ... Critique

Last week on the way to see X, the day overcast and still cool, damp, I listened to a lot of things, not least of which was Symphony X (har - and definitely connected with "us", too). The real tone of the day, though, was Bowie - specifically, the cracked funk space glam of "Aladdin Sane".

Like so many things, it took me something like 20 years to actually look at the title Aladdin Sane and (a) think to myself, there had to be some sort of reason for this title and then (b) figure it out.  (To be fair, B did only take a moment, once I finally got to A.  Ahem.)  I am an uncritical recipient, with a lot of things.  This has obviously changed as I've grown older (see also - my desire for a t-shirt that says "can we please stop raping Deanna?" and my general response to the Battlestar reboot - disturbing (not in a good way) entertainment presented rivetingly well), but the point at which I engage my willing suspension of disbelief is the point at which I become a full participant.

This makes it possible for me to enjoy a lot of things very much - some of it gleefully crappy - but the tendency, also as I get older, and have this crackpot idea in my head that I am getting wiser, makes me wary of myself.  Even as I indulge in ANTM (well, that has finally come to an end - but I did stick it out for 17 "cycles" apparently ... eesh) and the occasional dram of "Mob Wives", I indulge the pop-cultural equivalent of White Liberal Guilt, and indulge the luxury of overacted embarrassment about my viewing.

Ahh, thank goodness for cable.  Or not.  Of course, I'm no worse with it than I was without.

But Big Ang is a gas, even with the quasi guilt.  Enough to drive a lad insane (talk about cracked funk space glam ...).

Like This

Things like this get to me lately.  It *isn't* just the dinosaurs, who'll be retiring/dying off soon.  "Shut up and take it" is alive and well and always has been.  And there is always someone to tell you to stop talking about it.

Historical FICTION Some More

There's a fascinating thread at the Absolute Write fora right now, considering the question of how icky "historical mindsets" were.  There's a focus at this point on the specifics of women's position(s- because, kids, there have been more than one sets of context women had to live within!) in society, and I thought I'd share my bit.


I have to say, speaking as a feminist, I don't see how pretending-away the more difficult aspects of life for women (or ANYone) during a difficult period in history does me any favors today.  I find anachronistic female characters jarring and irritating precisely because ignoring the problems of any society (whether gender-based or otherwise) too apologistic and flip.

I'd agree with everyone who has pointed out that history isn't some sort of homogenized place where everyone held exactly the same viewpoints to exactly the same degree, in every station and every place across the board.  Women are enough a part of the population that even the most misogynistic systems were forced to accommodate at least some aspect of their participation in the world.  It's often been speculated, too, that in so-called "lower classes" there was less room for systematized chauvinism, as women had to contribute in order for all the work to be properly done.  I think there are limits to this theory, too, but it *has* given enough room for some authors to have created some excellent historicals based on this "wiggle room".

My own approach to female characters has varied somewhat.  Very early Frankish society was still in some flux, and my main female character happens to be a queen known almost entirely for her influence with her husband - but I depict a relationship between them fraught with its *own* difficulties, some of which do present in the context of a historical woman's actual position.  One woman is banished from society (the worst punishment possible) for sexual indiscretion, and another, as the victim of rape, witnesses her tormenter seriously punished (by the laws of [I]wergeld[/I], a woman in childbearing years was high in the heirarchy of human life value).  The second novel will deal with a woman of even higher noble station, in a much more ritualized society, who infracts against her system pretty spectacularly (she marries a slave at one point) and witnesses the consequences to others, of her actions.  This woman happens to be educated (letters of hers survive) and powerful, but in many ways has a much harder go of things as a woman precisely because of her attainment of power.  The price she'll pay is definitely owing to her gender, too.

In order to explore these things, to get down into their implications, for me as an author to ignore them would leave me writing a fairy tale, not a real story.  I can't and won't do that, and have a very hard time understanding why it would interest anybody to cleave away these things from a work of fiction.  Whatever their reasoning may be, they're asking for compromised storytelling - and fiction is compromised in enough ways just subjectively, I can't fathom good reasons to compromise it knowingly.  I don't understand the attraction to history, if one wants bits of it redacted or edited away.


Friday, May 4, 2012

I Try Not to Say Things Like This ...

... but heck, I earned the prerogative, what with being a barren old maid and all.

One of the nice things about having kids is that, right now, I am contemplating going to bed within half an hour or so, and just staying in bed until noon tomorrow.  The commitments on my weekend are all mine, deliverable and answerable only to me - and I can change them any time I want.

Oh sure, fifteen or so hours snuggled with a pillow is not *really* going to happen.  I'm not a total degenerate.  (Just mostly.)

But still, I can sleep in pretty prodigiously without interruption.  Lolly likes her sleep, too!  She makes an awfully good housemate sometimes ...

Historical FICTION

"In a world ... where fiction is taken for reality ..."

This is a perfectly hilarious situation - but one I happily admit I kind of envy!

Thursday, May 3, 2012


This week has been a stunner.  Good and bad and almost impossible to comprehend.  Four days later, I still can't even believe I saw X again.  Nothing is like laughter with him.  Nothing like a day in springtime.

Work has been almost beyond a challenge.

This morning I needed a coat, but it's been 90 degrees when I leave the office at the end of the day.  Outside right now:  thunder.

My head would be spinning anyway, but the throbbing is only one more thin peel in an endless onion's worth of layers.  It is Thursday night, 9:48.  One week ago right now, I was contemplating the possibility of seeing X again, and it'll be another hour perhaps before I can say it's been a week exactly.  Since I knew it would happen.  Since I began packing.  Since those hours which were the last ones in the almost three years since the last iteration of "the last time I saw him."

Four days since I actually saw him.  Four days ago, we laughed in the same room.  He left.  I got a good night's sleep, got on a grey and misty road, sped away ... from the last time I saw X.

I have hardly stopped moving in two months or so now.  Family visit, RavenCon events, heavy work schedule, always a demand.  Weekend before last, the first "normal" (boring) one I have had in a long time.  If the life of a single, middle-aged woman is supposed to be dull with routine, I have been doing it all wrong.

Lots of writing (and de-writing), but little of it these past seven days.  The truth - none this week.

There'll be bastard-brother subplots to gut next.  The bit with the fever and trichinosis.  I still don't know how to rework the rape of the kinswoman and estrangement between comrades.  At least I know how just to approach the work at all now, though.  More than I had for all too long there.

This weekend, I want to spend time with a friend.  Be steward of my hearth and home.  Get outside on a warm night, for loud music.  Come home, rest, and spend Sunday working on Ax.

Then time for the headaches again.

But, I suspect ... it'll be a long time again before another week peels away so many onion layers.


I still can't believe I saw Mr. X this week.  And now I can't believe I don't see him anymore.  Mmmmmm.  Hm.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Today at work we had an event which in the past took three of us to plan, pull off, and wrangle.  This time, I did it all, coordinating ten locations and a remote option for a team of people across the country, and seeing the thing run smoothly with several major executives - our own, as well as even higher management.

It went well, but I did take a couple notes on minor details for myself.  If it ever has to go off again, this is a process we'll do even better.

The outcome of all this is that my neck is so stiff right now I can't move it forward (haven't been able to since yesterday, but who's counting? heh).  Tonight, I look forward to several NSAIDs, a good night's rest, and a day tomorrow more like my normal job.

Off Monday, it's only Wednesday, and I swear it feels like a full week.  And not a bad one at that.

Lightning Bug Time

It never seems like seasons take as long as they used to.  Spring moved so slowly (back when we used to have spring; you young people might have liked it, it was a beautiful time, following this quaint thing we used to call "winter"), you could ache just waiting for the days to get a little longer.

A few minutes ago, it was February.  Today, it was 90 again, and it is May - and the daylight stayed until eight o'clock.  In a few minutes, it will be June - we'll have our longest day - it will be time to notice nights getting longer again.

Three years it's been, since I saw X the last time, and it hardly feels like time's moved at all.  It did its job with the sense of loss, when he did not come home that December.  But seeing him this past weekend - it didn't feel like all that much time had passed, and it didn't seem to *take* that long between, to me.  I don't invite more years to pass before I ever see his face again.  But I can do them, at this point, standing on my head.  It seems nothing anymore.

It may have been a hallucination; but yesterday I thought I saw a lightning bug.  Would have sworn - but no other glimmers appeared.  In my experience, you don't usually see one without seeing others.

Reassuring, that - that it may still be too early in the year, for anything - that time isn't simply blurring and homogenizing completely.  We didn't have winter, and aren't getting spring.  But the lightning bugs will not betray me.

Even so - once they do come (the bats have, though the missed a few other bugs who didn't miss *me*), they'll be gone again so soon.  Every year I can't wait to see the first one - and moments later I realize the last one has come and gone and I missed it.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Back to Work

Having been out of my office for two days, I was of course duly punished by my inbox, but though it put me to an hour and a half OT today, the smack on my hands was not too dire.  At least, in terms of consequences for my *team*.  There was a pretty spectacular fire drill late in the morning, which thank heavens (a) came up 24 hours in advance of a point where it would simply have been a disaster, and (b) worked out (did I mention thank heavens?).  Shew.  But for the most part, surprisingly, I  dug through a lot of work in decent time during the first half of the day.

I caught up some dropped travel which fell through the cracks of my being gone and our Travel Goddess being gone, but without ugliness.  Caught calendars up, had a pointless meeting, responded, responded, resolved, got on top, and got ready.  For that fire drill-inducing event (coming tomorrow), I got some final prep in good shape, not least of which was that (b) part mentioned above.  Never took lunch, but I was savvy enough to order pizza yesterday, so I had leftovers, and had a piece for breakfast, a piece a few hours after that, a piece for a later lunch/snack as well.

Parceling the slices out between parceling out the accomplishments, I parceled in some of my little at-the-desk calesthenics, and managed to both clear my inbox VERY nicely, but even the outbox as well, and (astoundingly) my hard copy "work in progress" file.  For a while there, the remainder was just filing, which is almost endearingly quaint of me to even indulge in 2012 - but I like being endearingly quaint, of course.

Speaking of which, one of my bosses sent me a package last week (a good admin would have had it in my hands on-the-day, hah) for Admin's day.  Being a good sort, he worked hard to find a card that said something about a wonderful SECRETARY instead of an admin, and I grinned, because I knew he'd done that on purpose.  Per my suspicions on that point, he did mention finding one that said "secretary" on it wasn't easy.  Heh.  Stupid Hallmark.

By early afternoon, realizing I wasn't so much fighting uphill as really just having a decent day's work of it.  AND enjoying some nice cold pizza (and laughing because my dad would just cringe - he always winced and said "don't you want to heat that up?" when we were kids ...).

Of course, it did not last - though my afternoon did, until about quarter after six.  Ah well.  In at seven a.m., worked through lunch - shoot, it was a 12-hour day.  And tomorrow, I expect will be a bear, with a major event I am pretty much singlehandedly responsible for cruise directing.

If I can get through tomorrow, things will look good for the rest of this week ...