‘The word is ANACHRONISM…’

A funny thing happened when my sister-in-law had jury duty.

I’ve mentioned before that Grace is a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism. (Some of you reading this may already see the “punchline”…) Well, as it so happens, even people who have attended law school sometimes cannot read as well as they ought to: One of the attorneys involved in the case for which a jury was being selected felt that there was a big problem with allowing someone who’s a member of an “anarchism” group to serve on any jury at any time.

At least Grace was given the opportunity to explain: “We’re not anarchaists. The name of the organization is the Society for Creative Anachronism,” she said, carefully enunciating the word. “We’re a non-profit educational organization with a focus on the history and culture of the Renaissance.” (Yes, technically, the SCA is also focused on the history and culture of the Middle Ages, but it’s best not to mention that around people who may believe that medieval means evil.) The judge seemed amused by the error, Grace said, and even thanked her for “educating Mr. [Attorney].”

We’ve heard stories from “old-time SCAdians” (people who were in the SCA prior to 1990) about people mistaking anachronism for anarchism. (Seriously, if the mundanes — in this context, meaning anyone who’s not a SCAdian, so technically I’m a mundane, too — were going to make false assumptions about the political views of any member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, it would make more sense for them to assume SCAdians are monarchists. ‘Cause, y’know, all the make-believe about kings/queens and such. But they’re not monarchists, either.) Nevertheless, it was still a surprise for Grace to encounter such a mistake just this morning. At least it was funny, once the misunderstanding was cleared up, and at least Grace didn’t get into any trouble for being a SCAdian. (In this, once again, small-town New Mexico shows itself to be far better than small-town Kentucky.)

Now, let’s just hope that no one from “kingdom” (the local large-scale chapter) finds out about this, or Grace will be in trouble with them… again. (Long story, and one I hope I never need to tell.) 

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“It’s a book thing.”

Photo of white coffee mug with words ‘instant human – just add coffee’ in grey and dark green.

I got a coffee mug for my birthday.

It looks exactly like one that’s mentioned briefly but never described in a novel that has yet to be published.

The mug in the book was given to Jason by Brygida, who has a warped sense of humor.

My mug was given to me by my sister-in-law, who also has a warped sense of humor.


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And now for something more lighthearted…

[Originally posted as “Sometimes, he looks at fan art and has conniptions.”]

This art rant is brought to you by Too Much Caffeine and by the letters W, T, and F.   However, no actual conniptions were had.

I did something foolish the other day:  I looked at fan art on Pinterest.  Specifically, fan art for a series of fantasy novels I’m quite fond of.  (As I type this, I imagine both my clone-sibling and LR shaking their heads…)  Now, the reason this was a foolish thing to do was not because Pinterest is nearly as much of a time-devourer as the TV Tropes site.  I look at stuff on Pinterest all the time, and usually I don’t regret it in the slightest.


Sometimes, I am torn between wanting to apply my head to a wall or desk, repeatedly and with great force, and laughing so hard I start to cry.

Various reactions to pictures:

Wow — Disney Princes in Amber.  Prince Eric looks like… Prince Eric.  From Disney’s The Little Mermaid, I mean.  Which is unsettling, because that Eric sounds like Scott Hayden.

You’re a professional artist, and I respect that, but really, Frances, pastels?  That character wears black all the time, but yeah, sure, go ahead and paint a picture of him dressed in bright, cheerful pastels — I’m sure none of the people who ever read the novels will notice. [Technically, her art isn’t fan art, in the usual sense of the term. Whatever. She’s still wrong.]

Why do you kids all think it’s geometric like that?  Argh!  No, no, it’s much more… squiggly.  And blue, damnit!  ‘Cause, y’know, information overload equals Pattern recognition.  *weird fanboy grin*  It’s nice to make proper use of that bad pun for once without having to pretend it’s anything else.

What the hell is up with that moustache??  Any resemblance to rants about images of fictional people from other stories exists solely in your imagination.

Blond?  BLOND???  *outrage* No, this isn’t about Florimel — she is blonde.  Her author said so.

Oh, for cryin’ out loud, kids, there’s no excuse for not at least getting the colors right!

What is he, twelve?  Any person, real or otherwise, who can get away with claiming to be thirty-six years old should be drawn in such a way that he looks, y’know, like a grown-up.

Do you even know what dexter means?  White unicorn rampant, on a green field, facing to the dexter…  It’s a heraldic term, and it means the bearer’s right, not the viewer’s right.

On the other hand… There was a picture of the guy in modern clothes standing in front of a drawing of a lighthouse on a stone wall.  I want a print of that.  Specifically, I want a lithograph of that, and I’m willing to overlook the fact that most lithographs these days aren’t actually printed off slabs of rock. [I’m unsure whether it was originally intended as fan art. I don’t care. ‘Sides, the person who saved it to Pinterest interpreted it as a reference to the drawing of a lighthouse mentioned in the story, because otherwise they’d not have saved it to a board for Chronicles of Amber fan art, right?]

So maybe now you’re all reassured that I don’t only have conniptions over grammar and stuff; I also have conniptions over inaccurate illustrations.  Besides, I pretty much laughed the whole time I was looking at those pictures, even while I was shaking my head at the wrongness of many of them.  Whatever.

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Re-post: “Warning: Harsh Sarcasm Ahead” (plus additional tirading)

The original post dates back to August, 2014.

A comment I saw today (May 13, 2022) on a blog post about writing certain types of antagonists is what reminded me of this post, and it seems like the sort of thing that bears repeating. (Fuller explanation: One person who made a comment on that other post is the “original poster” from the forum discussion mentioned here. Perhaps ironically, that other blog post was about fictional antagonists who use gaslighting to make life miserable for a story’s MC. I think it’s gaslighting to insist to someone, ‘You say you dislike this kind of fiction, but I say you don’t, so you’re lying!’)

So there I was, looking for a specific quote out of a favorite novel, and the next thing I knew, I was reading the whole thing again.  I laughed, I cried… and then I remembered that I’m a guy and therefor don’t have feelings and don’t want to read anything about characters who have feelings because I’m a guy and guys who read sci-fi only want to read military science fiction about robots who blow shit up because robots don’t have feelings either and feelings are icky and only for girls — eeeeewwwww.

What can I say?  I was behind — way behind — on my sarcasm quota.  I’m caught up now.

An explanation of sorts:  A forum discussion turned ugly because the original poster claimed that all women want to read fiction full of explicit sex scenes and all men hate even the merest hint of a romantic subplot (and also claimed that without explicit sex, there’s no romance or any kind of emotion at all).  Whenever a woman commented that she didn’t like explicit sex in fiction, she was ignored or mocked.  Whenever a man commented that he didn’t mind or even liked romantic subplots as long as those didn’t take over the whole novel or get explicit — this was in a discussion about science fiction, by the way — he was ignored or mocked… and in one case, told that he was not welcome on that forum because he was not a woman and therefor had no right to an opinion about romance in science fiction.  WTF????  Also, since when has emotion become synonymous with explicit sex?  Last I checked, humans feel a lot of emotions that have nothing to do with sex, and even romance doesn’t require that the author describe every single action that occurs after the characters take off their clothes — or even that they do take off their clothes.


Ignore me — I’m just venting.  As has been made abundantly clear to me already, I don’t have a right to an opinion about whether or not any men ever like stories with a bit of romance in ’em, because I’m a man.  Nor do I have a right to an opinion about whether or not more women would be interested in science careers if more sci-fi novels were “Twilight or 50 Shades in space.”  (Wouldn’t that cause be better served by stories that show women doing science and being treated with respect?)  If a writer of paranormal romance says that all women everywhere all the time want to read about explicit (and violent and non-consensual) sex because there’s no real emotion without it and that space opera ought to have more explicit (and violent and non-consensual) sex in it because eighty percent of all readers are women and that’s what all women want to read, who am I (or any other space opera fan, regardless of sex/gender) to disagree with that?

Yeah.  Apparently I’m now getting a head start on meeting the sarcasm quota for next time.

My clone-sibling has openly admitted that he gets a bit teary-eyed when reading the end of David Drake’s The General (which is, by the way, military science fiction, so anyone who insists that readers of military sci-fi don’t have or want emotions can fuck off).  And I make no secret of the fact that my favorite stories are always ones that cause me to have a strong emotional reaction when I read them.  But what the hell do I know?

Today’s May 13, and I feel that I ought to add a comment relevant to both the topic of this post and to the date:

I still have a strong emotional response to that one scene in the middle of Sign of the Unicorn. (I liked the story and all, but I became a fan of The Chronicles of Amber in the moment Bill Roth when said to his friend, “It doesn’t make any real difference to me, but I thought it might to you — to know that someone knows you are different and doesn’t care.”) For anyone to insist that I don’t feel anything when I read fiction because I’m a man, and men don’t have emotions and don’t want to read fiction in which characters have and express emotions… It was wrong — both morally and factually — when “Anna” said that back in 2014, and it’s still wrong. She told many of the women on that forum that, even though they said they’d never want to read a “Fifty Shades in space” sort of story, she knew they were lying, because she knew that all women prefer “Fifty Shades” -type stories above all other fiction. Anyone who said otherwise was, according to “Anna,” unaware of their own opinions, because “Anna” knows what they think better than they ever could.

That sure looks like gaslighting to me.



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How the Writing Is Going: April 19, 2022

Current word count on the current WIP is exactly 47, 416. Also, the first eight chapters of The Dark Plaza (this could still be just a working title, so don’t get mad at me if it’s published as something else) were revised today to fit with what has been written of the prequel series so far.

We’re getting into the time of year when Paul is a lot busier at his day job, which means less time/energy for writing. He still hopes to finish this third book, at least, before storm season begins in late June, when he’ll have no time for writing. Ideally, he’d like to get the first drafts of all five books done this year.

And then… Paul said something a couple days ago about ‘starting on Fire Throne,’ but then he remembered (without me having to remind him) that he can’t write/publish Fire Throne until “that novel” is done, especially since he has expressed an intention to ‘get the band back together’ for Fire Throne, and some of the characters won’t be available until after “that novel” (and its immediate sequels, if there are any — it’s not as if Fire Throne is gonna be just one novel, either).

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The “kitten’s” birthday

Today is Logan’s birthday.

He’s three years old.

This is what he looked like when he first moved in with us:

Very small grey-and-white kitten sitting on a box next to a rock hammer (and probably planning some sort of kittenish mischief)


This is basically what he looks like now (except maybe even bigger):

Very large grey-and-white “kitten” with his normal-sized, black-and-white mom

There’s a reason why his nickname is Moose.

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How the Writing Is Going: April 8, 2022

Word count for the WIP is now forty thousand (40,000).

One of the main threads in the story is currently dealing with a lot of “normal life” stuff, exactly the sort of thing the author usually doesn’t write about. It’s important for the story, though, and not as “normal” as it looks on the surface.

This is what’s happening: Brygida had an extremely unpleasant experience a week ago, and her friends want to cheer her up, help take her mind of what happened, etc. So they want to take her out to dinner somewhere. Brygida thinks this is a good idea… and also thinks they ought to invite her friend Jason, whose social life is almost nonexistent these days. (Brygida knows why, even if the others don’t, and she wants to do something to help.) So they’re gonna trick Jason into going with them — he thinks it’ll just be Brigida, Geoffrey, and him, because he doesn’t know that Geoffrey’s new girlfriend Jen and her friend Elena will also be there.

Yes, that Elena: she appears briefly in The Madness Engine, one of Paul’s already-published novels. I’m delighted to finally have more story with her in it, but I’m also aware of all the difficulties the rest of the in-story year will bring. And then there will be the first several hours of the new year… So I guess it’s not all bad, right?

Meanwhile, Jon has gone back to the place where he grew up and run into problems of exactly the sort he’d been trying to avoid by staying away for so long. It is my understanding that in a few more chapters (of his story thread), he’s going to run into someone who mistakes him for someone else. (Minor spoiler, if you haven’t read Paul’s other novels: Lyra and Em are on Rhyddid, Jon’s home planet, and Lyra at first mistakes Jon for her colleague Brennen.) Then he’s going to get tangled up in whatever they’re doing… and thus set the stage for something that happens in the as-yet unpublished (but written, minus a few small revisions) fifth book of The Awakening, the series for which the current WIP is a prequel. Jon says something in that book about having met Em before, even though the author had no idea at the time how that happened. So now the author is writing about how that happened. (I could draw a parallel to someone else’s writing process, but I think Jon would object to the comparison, for multiple reasons.)



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How the Writing Is Going: April 3, 2022

The first thing my twin said to me on Friday: “I dreamed about the apocalypse.”

Fiction writers’ conversations must sound really weird to people who don’t know they’re talking about fiction.

I don’t know the word count on the WIP (third book in a five-book series) right now, other than that it’s above 25K.

Over the weekend, we talked a lot about timing of some of the events that must happen before the end of this series. Stuff that Paul thought needed to happen in book three… actually shouldn’t happen until book four, and then there’s stuff that has to happen in book four because of how much time passes in part of that other series, the one that has four of its five books already published. So Paul doesn’t need to try to fit a couple of years’ of other characters’ lives into twenty thousand words of this book.

On the other hand, it’s currently late August of 2012, in story, and it has been decided by the author and his twin that the upcoming New Year’s Eve is that New Year’s Eve. So the difficult conversation between Geoffrey and his housemate happens in October… 

Also, Marleah Carlisle’s grandmother has been introduced in the story. Not that she’s Marleah’s grandmother now, but still… (Marleah is a character in “that novel.”)

Other story things we discussed:

Even though it doesn’t happen until the next book, Paul has been working out some of the details of how Jon and Em meet. This time, Em won’t be by himself; Lyra will be there, too. Paul said something about ‘giving Lyra her own book some day.’ (He really, really wants to know what happened between Lyra and Morgen back before Morgen joined the Auroran Circle. He also wants to write about how the previous Circle broke. I had to remind him that the final straw in that conflict was Lyra bringing Ryan into the Circle — it had nothing to do with Morgen, except peripherally.) At least he didn’t say anything about Jon having his own novel some day. (It’s not actually a movie quote that comes to mind right now, but rather a recurring line in a small series of movie trailers: “Get your own movie!” various Disney characters say to Stitch when he shows up in what appear to be trailers for their movies. So of course, “I would never… make more than one,” also comes to mind.)

Because Marleah’s grandmother is in the story now (primary motivation: Paul wrote a minor character he really likes, and he doesn’t want this character to die horribly in a few years… so there needs to be a good in-story reason why she doesn’t), of course we talked some about “that novel” and books more closely connected to it. And about the ship folk in the much later stories — Paul mentioned “Wabe and later,” because so far the only fully written stories I have for that general era are “Finder’s Fee” and “Ice Is Also Great.”



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How the Writing Is Going: March 27, 2022

On Friday afternoon, word count for book three of this series was approximately 12, 200. The last scene the author read to us — cut short, alas, because he’d run out of time — was tremendously fun to hear, although I was surprised by one of the characters in it. I mean, I knew she’d be in this story — she has to be — but I didn’t expect to see her there, in the Intro to Physics class one of the main characters is taking at university. Sitting right next to that main character, no less.

Even during the other plot thread through this portion of the book, there was a funny moment. Or rather, Grace’s comment on something said by the viewpoint character in that scene made us laugh a lot, partly because of how unexpected her comment was.

It went something like this:

Paul read, “‘They still haven’t learned not to harm people under my protection,’ said Drake. ‘So I will teach them.'” [Not an exact quote — I don’t have access to the manuscript right now.]

…And then Grace said, “Drake’s gotta teach ’em stuff,” mimicking Yondu’s sidekick in the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie.

I think it took Paul more than two minutes to stop laughing.

The first order of business during tomorrow’s writing session(s) will be finishing the scene with Geoffrey in physics class: apparently the professor has something to say to him as soon as class is over. And the aftermath of the “daring rescue” sequence in the other thread. I don’t know what happens after that — I guess I’ll have to wait until Monday afternoon to find out.

Maybe he’ll let me share a small excerpt from the “physics class” scene. Dr. H is… Well, I don’t think you actually have to know anything about her to be entertained by her lecture style, at least. (Paul says he based much of that scene on his own experiences at university, by the way.)

A little bit off-topic but still somewhat relevant: Yesterday, we somehow found ourselves discussing how one could get cell phone reception, of all things, through the Andover Gate. It could be done. All that would be necessary is a relay right on this side of the Gate, another right on the other side, and then a fiber optic cable running from that relay to another relay at the cave entrance. We also talked about someone native to Haefenspoint but nevertheless familiar with technology such as cell phones making a snarky/sarcastic (yes, sarcastic — deal with it) comment at the expense of the anthropologists who will inevitably be traveling through the Gate to study the culture on the other side. It’s their own fault, though, for always declaring that objects they can’t identify must be “of religious/ritual significance.” 


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Peril, a Daring Rescue, and Something About a Coffee Mug

Word count for book three is now above five thousand.

(So much for Paul’s declaration, after finishing book two, that he was going to take a short break from writing. A few days ago, he commented that if he wrote nothing else this year, he’d still average five hundred words per day for all of 2022.)

He ran into a minor problem with scene sequence/pacing this morning, but that seems to have been resolved. At this point in the story, there are essentially two separate threads, with two of the major characters in one and three in the other. Paul has been alternating between the two, because it’s important to show that the characters not in the “daring rescue” thread haven’t stopped existing, he says, just because the author’s favorite character is elsewhere. The copyeditor has a favorite character or two in this story, as well. One of them probably doesn’t mind at all that he’s being “ignored” by the author, at least to the point of not being the one in a dangerous situation right now, …or so he thinks. *wicked author’s-twin laughter* 

The “something about a coffee mug” part is Grace’s doing. When Paul told us his plans for the next few chapters of this book, she replied with a laugh, “Oh, no, she’s gonna give him that coffee mug, isn’t she?” And yes, she is. Maybe not right away, but sooner or later — that was never in question. (She means Brygida, a character who entered the story near the end of the first book in this series.)

Possibly at this very moment, Paul is writing about his favorite character rescuing a friend from the clutches of an evil scientist. No, I mean actually evil, not insane but well-meaning — that scientist is in the other story thread now, and the worst thing she’s doing is going on a wild shopping spree. She has a good reason, though: two of her friends lost almost everything in their house while they were out of the country for a year, and they need help replacing at least the essentials. Sounds rather quotidian, doesn’t it? I sure hope so, anyway. I did say this was the “return to the normal world” part of the story for these characters… It won’t last, though; it never does, because the definition of normal keeps changing.



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