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various bits of news

1) Sure, I’ll be kind and put the big one first. I’ve sold a story to! “Mad Maudlin,” a novelette based on the folksong variously known as “Bedlam Boys” and “Tom o’Bedlam.” It won’t be published until late this year or early next, but I’m extremely pleased nonetheless.

2) One straggler from the ANHoD blog tour: an interview with me at LibraryThing, wherein (among other things) I divulge how [profile] kniedzw and I approached the most important question one must consider upon moving in together: whether to combine libraries or not.

3) Latest post at BVC is on superstitions.

Edited to add:
4) A Natural History of Dragons is #8 on the Locus bestseller list for May. Go, little book, go!

This entry was also posted at Comment here or there.

I guess this is better?

Season five of Eureka is up on Netflix now, so I’ve finally gotten to resolve that bloody cliffhanger from last season. Not before a detour through a random Christmas episode (who do they think they are, Doctor Who?) that I pretty much could have done without, but hey, one episode, then we’re back to actual continuity.

Spoiler-cut for my thoughts on a pair of tropes.


What we talk about when we talk about pockets

Originally posted by at What we talk about when we talk about pockets

This post is about pockets, feminism, design, autonomy and common sense. Please feel free to repost or link to it if you know people who’d benefit from the discussion.

A few weeks ago trillian_stars and I were out somewhere and she asked “Oooh, can I get a cup of coffee?” and I thought “why are you asking me? You don’t need permission.” But what I discovered was that her clothes had no pockets, so she had no money with her.

Mens clothes have pockets. My swimsuits have pockets. All of them do, and it’s not unusual, because, what if you’re swimming in the ocean and you find a fist full of pirate booty in the surf? You need somewhere to put it. Men are used to carrying stuff in their pockets, you put money there, you put car keys there. With money and car keys come power and independence. You can buy stuff, you can leave. The idea of some women’s clothes not having pockets is baffling, but it’s worse than that — it’s patriarchal because it makes the assumption that women will either carry a handbag, or they’ll rely on men around them for money and keys and such things. (I noticed this also when Neil & Amanda were figuring out where her stuff had to go because she had no pockets.) Where do women carry tampons? Amanda wondered, In their boyfriend’s pockets, Neil concluded.

I then noticed that none of trillian_stars‘ running clothes had pockets. Any pockets. Which is (as they always say on “Parking Wars”) ridikulus. Who leaves the house with nothing? (It’s not a rhetorical question, I actually can’t think of anybody).

We fixed some of this by getting this runners wrist wallet from Poutfits on Etsy — it holds money, ID, keys … the sort of stuff you’d need. Plus you can wipe your nose on it. It solves the running-wear problem, but not the bigger problem.

Clickenzee to Embiggen!

The bigger problem is that people who design women’s fashions are still designing pants and jackets that have no pockets. In fact, this jacket we got last December has … no pockets. It’s not a question of lines or shape, it’s a question of autonomy.

Clickenzee to Embiggen

So I’m asking my friends who design women’s clothes to consider putting pockets in them, they can be small, they can be out of the way, they can be inside the garment, but space enough to put ID, and cash and bus tokens. And maybe a phone. (And if you can design a surreptitious tampon stash, I’m sure Neil & Amanda & a lot of other people would appreciate it as well.)

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Books read, March 2013

I almost posted this yesterday, because really, as such posts go, this one is a joke. I did many things in March, but reading books? Not really one of them.

Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett. Returning to my leisurely saunter through [personal profile] swan_tower Finally Reads Discworld. I have now been properly introduced to Sam Vimes, previously encountered as a minor character in Monstrous Regiment (before I started reading things in order). I like him, though not as passionately as some people seem to — possibly I will grow more attached in time? I liked Sybil quite a lot, and the reflections on how her brand of confidence is both personal and class-based. I was mostly meh about the bad guy’s scheme, but on the whole, much fun.

the memoir that is still untitled Re-reading the second book of the series preparatory to revising it (which is what I’m in the middle of doing now). It still needs a title. I will have to fix this soon.

Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne, David Gaider. Read for research, as [profile] kniedzw and I have begun running a Dragon Age game. Not really worth your time, unless you are a rabid completist for that franchise. It offered little in the way of worldbuilding information I didn’t already know, and, well. This is David Gaider’s first novel, and boy howdy does it show. Hopefully he improves with the later ones, since I need to read those, too.

This entry was also posted at Comment here or there.

Books read, April 2013

Happy May Day!

I really, really want to list as one of the books I read this month, “the first third of Quicksilver.” Because really. I read and read and read, and and it was an entire book’s worth of reading. It just wasn’t the entirety of that book. Not by a long chalk. Stephenson, you are engaging, but also a very wordy bastard.


The DWJ Project: Reflections

A belated entry to this series, on account of it not being out yet when I finished my re-read of all of Diana Wynne Jones’ books.

Reflections: On the Magic of Writing is a collection of various essays and lectures she gave, on various subjects related to writing (her own and that of others). A couple of these I had read before; “The Origins of Changeover” was the foreword to the edition I read, and I tracked down scans of “The Heroic Ideal: A Personal Odyssey” after seeing it referenced by [personal profile] rushthatspeaks. (Very glad to now have a proper reprint, as the essay does wonders for my ability to understand certain parts of Fire and Hemlock.) Most of this, though, was new.

It makes for interesting reading, though certainly a few details get repetitive — these pieces span decades, and there are certain things, particularly biographical incidents, that she brought up more than once. The two things that fascinated me most were her knowledge of pre-modern English literature (much of which I haven’t personally read), and her comments on her own books. The former made me feel in places like I was reading [personal profile] pameladean‘s Tam Lin, because it threatened to leave me with a reading list of rather obscure works. The latter . . . I don’t know. Sometimes it strips the magic away to know how the magic got made, but I think that here it just turns into a different sort of magic for me, because I can think about her books as a writer as well as a fan. When she talks about similarities between her characters, I nod at some and blink at others, and wonder if she didn’t see the similarities elsewhere, or simply didn’t bring them up. (Upon reflection, I see what she means about the commonality of Torquil and Tacroy, and also, after much more reflection, Thomas Lynn and the Goon. But what about Tacroy and Thomas, and also Howl? Or for that matter, Mark and Herrel, who are a straight-up deployment of her habit of “splitting” a character type and using different facets?)

I wish we had more of that stuff. I would love to know what sparked the ideas for all of her books, because Diana Wynne Jones wrote books that are nothing like mine, and knowing where they came from helps me understand the result. I also, quite selfishly, want to read all the unrevised first drafts and unfinished beginnings she had stuffed into drawers, because I crave more, and I’m (probably) never going to get it. I know it wouldn’t be the same, and it very well might not be good, but I crave it anyway. This book made me sad all over again that Diana Wynne Jones is dead, and that I never had the chance to meet her. I would have liked to thank her in person, and having read this book, I feel certain she would have understood.

This entry was also posted at Comment here or there.


It took me substantially longer than expected (the last scene was an absolute bear to write), but I just finished “To Rise No More.”

Needs revision, of course, but right now, that doesn’t matter. What matters is that I’ve managed to write a short story! And not even one that was spoken for before I wrote it. The last seven things I wrote sold on their first trip out the door, because they were either solicited by editors or very nearly so, i.e. I knew that if I wrote them, then so-and-so was extremely likely to buy the result. Which isn’t a bad position to be in, of course — but it’s less good when you have to use that as a motivation to actually get the thing done. This one, I wrote because I wanted to.

Hopefully somebody will buy the result. 🙂

This entry was also posted at Comment here or there.

It’s a novel! Also a pasta sauce!

Okay, this is really nifty. The blog Paper/Plates bills itself as “exploring the world through food and literature” . . . and someone there just posted a review of A Natural History of Dragons, followed by a recipe for a vegan alfredo sauce inspired by the book. (On the grounds that Isabella’s lifestyle does not fit her culture’s expectations.)

I think fanworks in general are cool, but I never thought anybody would make a pasta sauce for one of my books!

This entry was also posted at Comment here or there.

Weather forecast: rain. LOTS of it.

Back in 2010, I decided that (as with the Wheel of Time before it), I was done reading A Song of Ice and Fire until the series was finished. I hadn’t read any of the books since A Feast for Crows came out in 2005, and knew I would need to re-read to refresh my memory whenever A Dance with Dragons finally emerged — and then would have to re-read again some years after that, when we got book six, etc. Better to just stop and wait, however long that took. I sold my copies of the first four (to free up shelf space) and washed my hands of it.

About a month later, Martin announced the Really No We Mean It publication date for Dance, but that was okay: I was at peace with my decision. It came out in 2011, and I didn’t read it, and I went on not reading it.

But in discussing the show with friends, I’ve grown tired of dodging spoilers (sometimes unsuccessfully). So I kind of wanted to read the book, just to fix that problem. On the other hand, it had now been more than seven years since I read the books, and I knew that without a refresher, I wouldn’t find Dance as satisfying as I otherwise might. And yet, I didn’t want to take the time to re-read that much stuff. On the other other hand, [personal profile] teleidoplex told me I wouldn’t find it satisfying whether I re-read or not.

Reader, she was right.

I am putting this behind a cut because a) it’s long and b) if your personal parade is a happy one, I don’t want to rain all over it. Because I was not impressed with this book. No, that falls short: there are things in here that decrease my enjoyment of previous books. If reading about that is going to make you sad, then click away now.