... chapter five finished. After mental Cirque de Soleil.

I finished my chapter. Would have done it sooner, but I wrote myself down a blind alley and had to delete and go in a different direction. It was very interesting to think my way through it, though ... I had to describe a horror scene, and I started out writing it as if it was modern horror, you know, where you start out with innocent expendable ordinary bystanders going about their ordinary business, and then splatter 'em all. I couldn't make it work. Then I realized it didn't work because my book isn't modern horror, and I couldn't make myself imagine it that way. It felt wrong. I shifted things so that all the splattering had already happened and my small band of knights rides up afterward to a still, dead scene of horror. But with everything silent and almost frozen, like a photograph. Already happened.

Once I'd got that in place, blamm, I sat down and the rest of the chapter just rolled out. It's fascinating to think about how that works.

I think it's because of genre. In modern horror, you're mostly dealing with scenes with just a small group of characters in a small setting, which simplifies things so you can focus on the horror special effects, whatever they are. It's about the personal fates - I mean, the gory deaths - of a handful of characters. I think.

A fantasy scene, though, has a big worldbuilding-y background that always needs description, and adventure fantasy means lots of characters and battle scenes and the fate of the world at stake. Jamming that all in as well makes it impossible to focus on the horror in the same way; there's just too much that has to be described and kept track of. Also the mood is completely different. That's probably even more important.

Two short books, one short story

It strikes me that I'm doing things right with my approach to publishing as a business. That is, last month I had a neat idea about marketing my book Sungoddess: I created an extra edition, splitting the book into two shorter books, with new (and beautiful, I have to say) covers. Matching covers, mirror images of each other. The book splits naturally in two with a cliffhanger in the middle, so it was easy. Nifty new titles, too.

I've just published them on Amazon, this morning. Also, earlier, I published a short story called Dragon, Bucket, Moon. But what's really good is that I can do it all casually, right after breakfast - and then sit back and think, "Whoa! This isn't a big thing anymore!"

Still apropos of naught

... finished now. Well, that went fast.

It's a classic sprint-read, all story movement and nothing in the way of reading speed. (Like, details, subtext, complexity.) I skimmed through a reread over supper. No, it has no complexity. Books one-three had all the added elements that make for enjoyment in rereading, but it's still very satisfying to have reached a conclusion ... mostly it's the pleasure of seeing favorite characters find a happy ending. And that's here in spades.

apropos of nothing

Today I have the satisfaction of my own copy of "A Memory of Light". Delivered to my door via the miracle of Amazon, twenty-odd years in the waiting ... at last, plot conclusion. Nine hundred pages of plot conclusion, with swordfights. Happiness.

Bizarre but great

And by "bizarre but great" I mean it's great that I won the fifty-fifty draw at work - whee! ninety-four dollars out of the blue! - but hey, it's the first time I've won anything since I was, uh, eight. When I was eight I won a lovely cake at an afternoon tea draw. How beautiful it was, with silver trimmettes all over, huge and fancy. How sad I was, eight years old, when my parents took one look at the thing and shoved it into the freezer untouched for a more appropriate occasion. I didn't even get a single bite ...

But now I've won again! How great is that? Actually at this moment I feel like buying a cake and eating a huge slice all by myself, perhaps at midnight in my jammies. Because I can. Life's sweet that way sometimes.

Absolutely unrelated to Thanksgiving!

I had a tooth pulled today. I'd been bracing myself for it, as who wouldn't; last night at this time I was telling myself, "Twenty-four hours and you'll be all through it, though with a sore jaw." Because nobody likes having work done at the dental surgeon's.

Anyway, my appointment was for 9 AM, and the roads were sloppy and snowy, so despite leaving an hour early for a half-hour drive across Calgary, I only got there about ten to 9, bearing with me the obligatory New Book To Read While Local Freezing takes hold (this is obligatory) - Lois Bujold's latest, Captain Vorpatril's Alliance, which I'd been looking forward to for, oh, three months. This dental surgeon is a breezy casual guy; during my preliminary checkup with him last month he glanced at my x-ray, said, "Oh, no problem, do you want me to do it right now? I can take it out right now if you like, say the word," and when I said, "Uh, no, I have work tomorrow," he just shrugged in unconcern. Reassuringly casual.

Today the nurse gave me antibiotics and had me lie down on a table, and the dental surgeon strode in, gave me a shot of local freezing, and then another shot, and a third. I was mourning for my book, out of reach across the room. The nurse had taken off my glasses, too. A split second passed. The surgeon asked if I could feel my jaw. He put pressure on my tooth, and then again. No pain. He said, "Okay, I'm going to waggle the tooth," and did so, and then again, a little harder, and then said, "Here, once more, a little harder again," and I heard three distinct tiny cracking noises. "There you go!" he said. "Finished."

The nurse rinsed my mouth and gave me a gauze pad to bite down on, and a little bag of extra pads, to keep biting on until the bleeding stopped. There was barely any bleeding. And NO PAIN.

I talked to the nurse about rinsing with salt water and painkillers and other routine things, thanked her and walked out into the waiting room, finished and ready to go. It was seven after nine.

The whole procedure had taken seven minutes by the waiting-room clock, and - I can't repeat this enough - NO PAIN. I love this. Who wouldn't? I've taken it easy all day, but the freezing wore off hours ago and the bleeding's stopped, and the spot is a little swollen but that's all, and I have a whole jar of Tylenol 4 painkiller I don't need, because nothing even hurts. I feel fine.

Also I just finished the Bujold book, and it's great. I'd recommend it to anyone who wants light Regency romance transposed into the key of Space Opera. Next up: Malcolm Gladwell's nonfiction book The Tipping Point.

Snow in Calgary

Winter weather arrived here yesterday; it snowed lightly all day, and now the view out of the window is stereotypical winter whiteness. White sky, white lawns, white rooftops and trees full of snow. It's not all that cold, and the streets are perfectly clear and dry today, but still: all white. Maybe a hundred minor accidents on the city streets, par for the course.

I put that down to people who've moved here from warmer climates over the course of the past year, out driving in mucky sleet for the first time. There must be at least a couple of hundred of those. Either that, or sheer carelessness, I suppose.

I have a week's holiday, so I don't have to drive if I don't want to.

Last week on my day off I went to an orchid greenhouse that happens to be on Signal Hill; I found out about it earlier this year. It's quite big and I never knew about it, and is in the process of closing its doors and moving to Vancouver Island. I'd been there a couple of times a few months ago and bought several orchids, because it turns out this house is a good one for orchids. They grow well here, and I can coax them into bloom. So I have some orchids, and they really look healthy and are growing nicely for me, and now I have even more because the orchid greenhouse is having a close-out sale. Wild impulse-buying time for me. It's great! These are smallish plants, and one is in bloom, and its name is Miltassia Dark Star "Darth Vader".

It's got big velvet-purple flowers, star-shaped, very pointy. I've been taking pictures of my orchids as they come into bloom, with my new phone. The next thing is to figure out how to download the photos into my PC. Eventually I can spam the world with flower jpgs.

Somewhat about books that are dogs

Caesar the Wonder Dog got his claws clipped. I mean, was subjected to the dreadful trauma of claw-clipping. I took him to a tiny dog-grooming business down by the Dairy Queen (I hadn't been there before) and it was great (except maybe from Caesar's viewpoint) - I picked him up and handed him to one of the girls who does the grooming, and she turned around and held him up for one of the other girls to clip. Clip clip clip and it was done. There were heart-rending squeals and wiggles, but that happens any time anyone tries to touch Caesar's claws, and it was very quick.

He's a total wimp.

I've been reading the later Dune books. There's about twelve of them now, and I checked them all out of the library but couldn't make myself go on reading them after about four. They're pretty bad. I could kick Frank Herbert's son whosis, and I could punch Kevin Anderson his cohort-in-writing ... they should never have continued the series. Never, never. Owww.

Yeah, those books are dogs.

Herbert and Anderson have an amazing ability to take what originally was important and epic, and make it small and petty. Alas. I guess that's mostly what I don't like about the books. They aren't epic. The characters are petty. Also, and this is the real pity, Frank Herbert's mastery of dialogue and setting within scene would make any lesser writer look bad. He was almost as good as Dorothy Dunnett, and that's the highest praise I know.

Oooh, self-indulgence

The problem with cooking experiments is that you have to eat them afterward, and in the case of chocolate souffle, you have to eat the whole thing because I hear it doesn't keep in the refrigerator. Next time I'm making a half-recipe. Chocolate souffle and fresh-baked fruit bread ... yum, but thank goodness I have a cast-iron digestion, that's all I can say.

Matiere et san li done et livre ...

Ki de bone matiere traite,
Mult le peise si bien n'est faire.
Oez, seignurs, ke dit Marie,
Ki en sum tens pas ne s'oblie.

Whoever has good material for a story is grieved
if the tale is not well told.
Hear, my lords, the words of Marie,
who in her own time does not squander her talents.
--Marie de France, prologue to Guigemar

Matiere et san li done et livre
La contesse et il s'antremet
De panser, que gueres n'i met
Fors sa painne et s'attancion.

The countess provides him with matter and meaning,
whereas he undertakes to think,
for he brings to the task nothing more than his effort and intention.
--Chretien de Troyes, Charrette (The Knight in the Cart)