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Bark Like A Fish, Damnit!


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Weather

It was seventy degrees today.

Last week we had a hard freeze. Thursday night we are forecast to have another one.

It's an interesting fact about climate change in this state--according to the state meterology sites, you can't actually prove it mathematically. It seems very very likely, they hasten to add, since the rest of the world is certainly warming and it would be very weird to think that North Carolina was exempt from this, but our weather is historically too weird and too variable to pull any statistically signifcant trends from the data, and there aren't any ice cores to dredge data out of, so we're left going "Uh...probably?"

Basically, climate change is happening everywhere, we just aren't noticing locally because we're so erratic to begin with. No matter how you chart it, our weather graphs look like the EKG of someone having a very, very bad day.

(Apparently the only thing that's got enough data to make a neat little line on a graph is that early morning low temperatures in cities are definitely rising. I don't understand the math so I won't presume to judge one way or the other, but the state climate office suggests that has probably more to do with urbanization and heat island effects, since the rural areas aren't affected.)

I saw a butterfly today--a Sleepy Orange--and cringed, because boy, is it out of luck. Hopefully it has already laid eggs or whatever Sleepy Oranges do in fall. If not, it's got about seventy-two hours to get busy.

Pretty much every place I've lived outside the Southwest had some version of the joke "Don't like the weather? Wait five minutes!" but in North Carolina, it may be closer to true than anywhere else.

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The Obligatory Award Eligibility Post 2014 Edition

Okay, so let's talk about happier stuff for awhile!

We're sliding into the end of the year and the award eligibility posts are going up, if any of you are voters in such beasts and so inclined. So, without further ado, here's the stuff I've written this year that might qualify for something!

Flash Fiction:

Godmother - self-published, approx 600 words (as T. Kingfisher)

Short Story:

Jackalope Wives - Apex Magazine (written as Ursula Vernon)
The Dryad’s Shoe - Women Destroy Fantasy, Fantasy Magazine (as T. Kingfisher)
Toad Words  - self published, (as T. Kingfisher)

Novella:

Boar & Apples - self-published as part of the Toad Words & Other Stories anthology, approx 25K (as T. Kingfisher)

Novel:

The Seventh Bride - self-published, approx 57K (as T. Kingfisher)

Podcast:

The Hidden Almanac (with Kevin Sonney)

I think that covers everything of significance I've been doing lately. If you are so inclined to vote for one of those, thank you!

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...and the bad news.

Unfortunately, our beloved Emily the Mad, carrier of stuffed animals, is not doing well.

She was diagnosed with kidney disease earlier this year, a regrettably common affliction among cats. They can go for many years without any notable ill-effects, but there is a sort of tipping point at which suddenly the kidneys fail. (It is likely, in fact, that she had it for quite awhile, but this year has begun to tip.)

She was somewhat distressed Thursday morning before we left, so we took her to the vet to spend the weekend there, in case things got worse while we were traveling. This was probably the best decision we could have made, as she rapidly declined. They pulled her through, somewhat miraculously--"Burning through the nine lives," said our vet--and she has improved dramatically, but she still requires a great deal of intervention--twice daily IV flushes with saline and a lot of tempting with food.

We are bringing her home this afternoon and will be trying to figure out with the vet what scenario we're looking at. We'd prefer she recover completely, of course, and we have many more years of her squonking around the house, but failing that, if her kidney function is gone past the point of no return, we hope she can pass away quietly at home surrounded by her stuffed monkeys. (Frankly, this is how I'd like to go, except maybe for the bit with the monkeys.)

Anyway, think good thoughts if you got 'em, and I'll update as we learn more.

Update: We've brought her home. The vet says that they're basically doing nursing care now, and we can do that easily enough ourselves. She needs a lot of IV fluids and is on an enormous cocktail of meds, but she's much more cheerful and Kevin managed to tempt her into eating a few treats. (A side-effect of the meds is nausea, so her appetite is very poor.)

Our best case scenario is that she pulls through this, continues to improve the way she has, and can taper down on some of the meds and the fluids. Unfortunately, her kidneys are in pretty bad shape. (Quoth the vet, "The bloodwork numbers were above what the test could actually measure--now at least we've gotten them down to "really really high."")

Absolute best case, she's probably got a few more months, maybe up to a year. Which sucks, but we knew once she was diagnosed that she was on borrowed time. We're in nurse mode now until next week, when we'll get more bloodwork done and see what it's looking like.

She is currently sacked out on the bed and purring when petted, so at least she's content with the world, and that's the important thing.

UPDATE: She's drinking on her own (even with the massive amounts of IV we're pumping into her) and is very interested in cat treats. I have to bring them to her and put them in front of her and then pet her, but she'll eat them as long as she doesn't have to do much of anything. So that's a great improvement!

She is also very energetic when fighting off the oral meds. So...err...yay.

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WIndycon!

I was the Toastmaster for WIndycon 41! It was awesome. I mastered a lot of toast. That toast didn't know what hit it.

Also, I was made to talk in public, but that seems to have gone pretty well. Nobody threw things at me. I will never be an improv actor or stand-up comic, but with a friendly crowd hoping that Opening Ceremonies will not run four hours long, I am generally capable of being funny without being malicious and keeping a running commentary going, which is 95% of the job. The other 5% is reading little scraps of paper that people keep handing you with desperately vital announcements on them, usually written in somewhat cramped cursive that you are puzzling out while trying to talk.

It was fun and I was fairly lightly scheduled and didn't do a dealer's table, so it all worked very well. Got to see many great friends, drink with some of them, hang out with lots of authors (many of whom are also friends), be on panels that were occasionally contentious and eat ghost pepper ice cream. I regretted one of those decisions very much.

Kevin was inducted as a member of Dorsai Irregulars, a con security group that he's been working with for a few years, so my booth babe is now lost to me forever and Taliabear will probably be stuck helping me man tables until we are old. (And if any of you from Security comes after HER, swear to god, I will cut you.)

If you are unfamiliar with any of these people or with how con security functions, just assume Kevin won a lifetime achievement award for "Most Likely To Run Toward The Sound Of Vomiting."* The award is shaped like a hat. Anyway, I'm proud.

As is usually the case after a weekend of extroversion, I slept for approximately fourteen hours today and plan to do so again tomorrow. Lotta fun, would do it again, need nap now.

*This is 20% of con security. 40% is giving directions, 20% is checking badges and managing signing lines, and the other 20% of classified.

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Seventh Bride Launch Day!

It's that time again! A brand-new novel, fresh off the presses, and by presses I mean my poor abused editor and my extremely gracious band of proofreaders.

Seventh Bride - T. Kingfisher

This will be up on Amazon momentarily and is already live on Smashwords. Kobo, Nook, and iBooks links will trickle in as Draft2Digital updates them. As always, if you'd like to buy a PDF, e-mail me directly at ursulav (at) gmail.com and we will make it happen!

You can check on the links and current statue here: t.kingfisher.com

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Thrush-Bob is back!

I was staring out the window, looking at a Tufted Titmouse and thinking "Man...I guess Thrush-Bob isn't gonna come back this year..." and literally at that moment he landed on the birdbath and began splashing around.

This is his third year here. Hermit Thrushes do often display site fidelity, but the northern forests are big and life is tough for birds, so I am never sure if he'll make it back here. And of course, since he showed up on the back deck three years ago and began demanding mealworms (a behavior he trained into us, not the other way around--Hermit Thrushes are supposed to be shy and retiring!) he is now one of the crew.

I think we're basically the winter spa--fairly regular water when it's freezing, hot and cold running mealworms, and a sheltered corner of the deck. I always worry because there are feral cats about, but making it three years (or more--we have no idea how long he was showing up in the area before he learned that monkeys were a good source of mealworms) means Thrush-Bob is a tough and canny thrush.

More broadly, Hermit Thrushes are one of the few migratory songbirds whose numbers are rising. We are told that they are rare in backyards and don't come to feeders, but apparently Bob didn't get the memo, or "feeders" did not include "Kevin shuffling out at six in the morning muttering "'Blood and Mealworms for my lord Thrush-Bob...'"

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Great Moments In Editing

Got the last draft of Seventh Bride back and am going through now. The comments my editor leaves in the sidebar are a thing of glory forever.

Case in point:

stuntpunctuation

ETA:
wherepants

Further ETA:

becauseenglish

Really I'm Just Preserving These For Posterity Now:

summonpedants

And then there was The Thing With The Stones.

Look, "stone" is kind of an invisible word, all right? It's not obtrusive, it describes a thing that isn't usually terribly obtrusive.

I used it a lot. I didn't even notice I was doing it. In my defense, neither did my editor until the second draft, when she was hunting for word echoes, because it's really an unobtrusive little word.

Her growing discovery of this problem is reflected in the sidebar.

stone1

stone2

stone3

stone4

stone5

stone6

stone7

stone8

stone9
(I realize that I have just doomed all my readers to notice every single use of the word "stone" in my book, but seriously, this is why we have editors. They make things better. I write a very clean draft as these things go, and I still need this kind of intervention on a regular basis.)

Eventually the madness culminates in her singing the song of her people (namely editors) at me:

colonsong

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Godmother

            You came to me in your cloak made of tatters, with the dog made of bone at your side.
            You came to me and demanded to know why—why hadn’t I been there? Why her, and not you?
What had she done to earn fairy gifts to smooth her way? What did she do to earn the golden dresses and the silver shoes, the care of old women and the kindness of princes?
           Why did she get to dance, when you had to carve your path of thorns, and bleed for every inch?
            I told you that fairy godmothers are a little less than angels. We are given only enough power to hold in our two hands. There is not enough to go around.
           I told you that we spend it very grudgingly, and only on those who cannot succeed without our help.
           The dancing princess would have died. She would have withered at the first harsh word. She could never have woven the rope from nettles, or built her own dog out of bones.
           So I helped her and not you.
            I told you that even in the cradle, I knew that you were strong.
            You swallowed that, even though the taste was bitter. You were already proud of your strength. (And why wouldn’t you be? You have done amazing things. I wish I had the right to be proud of what you’ve done.)
            You walked away, with your tattered cloak swinging, with the bone dog clattering at your side. You walked away, and all you left was the handprint on the doorframe, with your left hand stained with the prince’s blood.
            I watched you go, and picked the bits of lie out of my teeth with the tip of a worrying tongue.
            Truth is, there are too many broken people in the world.
            We bet on the ones we think will make it, like birds who feed the strongest chick. We pour love out on those who are already loved and magic on those who only need a little, since a little is all we have to give.
            There was nothing much to recommend you as a child. You squalled and whined and cried. You were timid and afraid of strangers.
            (And I have to tell you that your breathing was annoying, you made little “uhn! uhn!” noises in your throat at every breath, and certainly this is petty but also it is true.)
           Mostly, though, you were easy to forget, so I forgot you.
            I did not expect you to survive. You should have died a dozen times and yet you lived, for all you went a darker way.
            Well. Good for you. We don’t always get it right.
            I waited too long to clean the handprint off the doorframe. I left it there for days as a reminder. My eyes dragged over it every time I went out.
            I think I hoped that I would learn something.
            In the end I washed it off, or tried.
           The white paint underneath is stained. In sunlight I hardly notice.
       
          But sometimes now,
          before I light the candles,
          I see the shadow of your hand against the door.


(Permanently housed over at TKingfisher.com for easy future reference)

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ursulav

Blargh

Well, that was depressing but mostly expected. At least I went into the election with only the thinnest of hopes. (Thank you, Nate Silver, for keeping my expectations low!)

And the sun still comes up and the leaves turn and it's only a midterm, and gay marriage is still legal in my state and at least we voted a bunch of progressives into the county commissioners here who will hopefully put SOME brakes on the massive development about to eat Pittsboro, assuming there's any time left to do so. (Seriously, that was a clusterfuck. The developer claimed he'd accept input at every step and "we'd be in charge." These "input" conversations consisted of "This is bad." "Tough, we're not changing it." and "In the first draft, there was a buffer zone for the river here..." "Yeah, we changed that, because we wanted money." and "Your park is your septic field." "So?")

And Dragonbreath sales have been low this year because we had no new releases. Putting on my business hat, that was really not a good choice, and it happened entirely owing to poor planning on their part with the release schedule juggling. A year and a half is a very long time in kid's books, particularly when we were putting out two a year solidly beforehand. Plus a couple of books came out in paperback midway through the year, and that cannibalized the hardcover sales.

Regular releases are important for book sales, trade or self-pub. You have to keep people engaged in your world.

But we have four books out next year. Will that give it enough of a bump? We'll find out.

(I am not broke or anything, by the way, this isn't a "POVERTY COMETH!" moment, just a really uneven year in sales, as they sell hardbacks in the first half and the hardbacks get returned in the second half. Should you ever find yourself with a solid series, by the way, the first half makes the money, the second half gets nailed with returns, so stuff everything into savings before you go out and buy a car.)

On the bright side, Nurk! I actually got two hundred dollars from it this year! (Go, little shrew! You took awhile to find yourself, but I'm proud of you!)

One of these days I will do a big post about hybrid authordom and so forth, but probably not today. (Incidentally, if any of your are ever curious about sales numbers on self-pub and new book bumps and so forth, I've been keeping a self-pub thread going on the Absolute Write forums that details the business end there--it's mostly of interest for business types and math nerds (and perhaps those hoping to self-pub!) but since so much of publishing is still swamped in a mire of hopeful assumptions and lack of reliable data, it's my stab at providing a data point.)

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Nooooovember.

I refuse to acknowledge that it is November. That's just not plausible.

In the unlikely even that it does prove to be November, "Seventh Bride" should be out this month (either next week or the week after--don't have a hard and fast date yet, owing to copyediting and travel) and there is a new Pokemon game landing near the end of the month, so I am just barely okay with the existence of such, but not happy about it.)

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