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ursulav

[sticky post]Forwarding Address

If you're looking for me over on Dreamwidth, I'm TKingfisher over there, or you can always find me at www.redwombatstudio.com

I'm on Twitter as @ursulav and Tumblr as tkingfisher, my Amazon author pages are here and here and I guess that's pretty much everything. If you need me, you can't throw a rock without hitting me online these days.

I've loved my time here and I'll be grateful forever for what it used to be. It kept me alive a few times. I love you all.

breeden
ursulav

One Book Two Book, Long Book New Book

So I have been working on this doorstop of a novel for...well, I started it in 2006. It gets abandoned, rediscovered, re-poked, re-jiggered every so often. In the last couple years, it's finally turning into a coherent readable mass of words and now I'm just cruising through trying to finish the damn thing. (For those following along at home, it's the one with the possessed paladin and the ninja accountant.)

The problem was that it was 130K and I still had a good chunk left to go.

Now, I write fairly short books, as you guys know. 65K is about my perfect length. This thing was monstrous. I plan to self-pub the ebook but the idea of a print version was...well, you guys remember how I threw my back out lugging copies of Digger?

My buddy Mur, queen of podcasting, listened to my woes at coffee and said "Make it two books."

I gaped at her. "I can DO that?"

"Do we have to have the economics talk? Have you on Ditch Diggers (that's her podcast, go listen to it) so we can yell at you?" 

This blew my mind.

It also solved a lot of problems for an author who prefers to keep their ebooks cheap and their books not requiring death cement to keep the bindings together. 

So! Clockwork Boys, Book One of the Clocktaur War, has been sent to my editor and will be out hopefully this year. (Patrons, you get the ebook for free, of course!)

None of this is the point. The point is that, having split it into two books, suddenly I am working on Book Two (tentatively titled The Wonder Engine) and I am having to do all the stuff that you do at the beginning of a second book, where you re-describe all the characters and do very brief info dumps about how your heroine got that tattoo and why she's still pissed at the paladin after rescuing his armored ass from a bunch of murderous deer people. And re-foreshadow stuff and re-establish that your thief sneezes constantly and the assassin smokes cigarettes and the paladin takes hot baths at every opportunity and all the stuff that you do when you're writing a second book. 

Which honestly, is sort of useful for the writer as well as the reader, gives me a chance to re-center myself in the story, but it adds even more words.

The second book is already longer than the first one, and there's still so much more to get through. How do epic fantasy people DO this!?

Anyway. Clockwork Boys, hopefully this year, Wonder Engine hopefully early next year. My brain hurts.


breeden
ursulav

Rain, Rain, And Also More Rain

Five inches in forty-eight hours, by the home weather station in the garden. (I love this thing SO MUCH. I cannot even tell you how much I love it.)



The rivers are all flooding, of course, but I'm on high ground, so it's just soggy. The thing of interest to me is how my growbag + water reservoir systems are holding up. All of them are as saturated as it is possible to be now and the tubs of water are overflowing. So far, they've done fine staying consistently moist during sunny days--now we see if they drown in the rain!

So far, most of them are holding up apparently fine. One bag, which is too shallow for the tub it's in, is definitely waterlogged (but that's one out of over a dozen, so not too shabby!) The two big chiapas-inspired growbag + barrel tubs are hard to tell, because the rain also pummeled a bunch of stuff flat, so I can't tell if the tomato starts are dying from drowning or just hammered down by hard rain. The peppers in the same tubs are okay. I guess we'll know in a day or two.

We close on Dogskull Patch next week. I am trying not to think about it for fear of jinxing everything and becoming a whimpering wreck.

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ursulav

Travel Sketches Day Two!



Two lifers today--Stilt Sandpiper and Eastern Screech Owl!

breeden
ursulav

Birding the Rio Grande!

Can't do good sketchbook pages from the road, so here's my crappy travel version...


breeden
ursulav

Productive Day!

Today we did a burn on the weeds in the garden, I weeded a bunch more by hand, planted some stuff I'd been meaning to get in the ground, dug up some ground covers and transplanted them to ground that needs covering. Then I made more pendants for Texas Furry Fiesta next weekend, prepped some bags-and-boards for prints, wrote a Hidden Almanac, and did a podcast interview with New Moon Girls in Minnesota.

It was very productive. I am trying to be glad of that and not to feel guilty when tomorrow and yesterday prove not to be nearly as productive. Still, I'm going out birding in Texas last week of March, and I'll probably have some evenings free to get some writing done, finish the latest kid's book worth of edits, maybe work on a novella that's been lurking for nearly a year, or even doodle on my iPad. I am feeling that itchy art brain of "MUST DO ART!" but it's slamming into the wall of having to finish the latest hamster book's worth of illustrations. Still, only a few more weeks of hamsters, and then I can draw any weird thing I want!

Really looking forward to that bit. I am very proud of the Hamster books, but they're a serious mental investment. It's worth it, and I'll do as many as they buy, but I want to draw other things for a bit and remember who I am when I'm not a respectable children's book author...

breeden
ursulav

Not dead!

It appears the last cross post didn't crosspost. Doh!

Well, nothing of interest is happening except that I am pacing the floor waiting for someone to tell me Dogskull Patch will never be mine. And I have six more weeks of this! Arrghhbleghhhh....!

Wintersowing technique worked great for everything but peppers and tomatoes. Those died in our recent cold snap. Fortunately I have back ups!

Dogs continue to dog. Cats continue to cat. Kevin continues to Kevin. I continue to me. That's all.

breeden
ursulav

Real Estate, Part 2

They accepted the offer on Dogskull Patch. (Twitter named it.) I've been crawling the walls for a couple days wondering if they would hate me for haggling. They came down a lot on the price, and it's had septic and well permits done and oh my god why would anyone let me own a property Kevin has to fill my pill cases for the week I wear shirts backwards on accident sometimes I'm not qualified to own an actual place and who can sell a place anyway this place has trees that are older than me and rocks that are older than my species and how can you own a place but maybe it'll be okay if I promise the place that I'm just gonna keep other people from messing with it and also I can, like, dig fifty frog ponds and put up a geodesic dome and no one can stop me.*

I babbled all this out to my mother, who has had more experience than anyone else in deciphering my panicked babbling. She immediately began looking up geodesic domes and telling me about how she'd planned to move to Alaska and build one before I was born. This tells you that A) my mother is an enabler and B) apparently I come by the geodesic dome thing honestly.

It was different when I bought a house with my ex. I wasn't even on the loan paperwork as a real contributor. I was a freelancer and my income was too crappy, they thought I'd bring it down. And he wouldn't let me change hardly anything and thought about the resale value a lot. This feels like the sort of deranged freedom where you look up and think "I could just get in the car and drive and no one would miss me for days."

Tomorrow I go talk to the realtor and she tells me what to say to an attorney who can hold money (I think this is important?) and we enter the due diligence period and we get another survey done and apparently I have to go buy POSTED signs so that people don't hunt on the property in deer season, although for all I know, *I* will hunt on the property in deer season.

I was terrified they wouldn't sell it to me and now I'm terrified that they have because I am not a grown-up. But apparently they are willing to. And no one is stopping me.

Dude.




*These do not counter one another, as I assume nearly any place would be thrilled to have both frogs and a geodesic dome.


breeden
ursulav

Real Estate And Other Madness



So as some of you know, recently I got a movie option on one of my books. And, after rather a long wrangling, they paid me.

This was not a life-changing sum of money, sad to say (although if they actually made the movie, it would be!) but it was money that I hadn't already earmarked to go somewhere. I hadn't ever counted on getting it because Hollywood is fickle. It was kind of like getting a tax return, except that as a freelancer, I haven't seen a tax return since approximately 2004, so I'm not actually sure what that's like.

So they paid me and I paid off my credit card and gave some money to charity and paid the taxes on it and then I stared at what was left for awhile, and thought "I should do something with this. If I just sit on it, I'll eventually fritter it away on car repairs and vet bills and whatnot. I should do...something."

The problem here is that I have basically everything I want. I have cheap needs. Two hundred bucks for a ton of fieldstone will keep me occupied for weeks. I have video games I haven't beat and books I haven't read. The truck is in good shape. Now that Gir has passed this mortal coil, my monthly vet bills have plummeted. (The vet claims that now that his records are out of the system, their computer runs faster, too.)

I am a nervous soul when it comes to money. My financial advisor at the bank had to forbid me from putting all my money in my sock and shoving it under the bed. Stocks are Right Out. But oh god, what if there's hyper inflation and suddenly my money is worth nothing? THE SOCK CANNOT SAVE ME THEN. What can I do that won't just go away if there's a recession? 

And very, very belatedly, it occurred to me that I could maybe buy a piece of land. Not a house! I don't want a house! Houses mean renters and other people and foolishness. But I live in the country. And I live in a county where dirt is, frankly, dirt cheap. And people sell chunks of it sometimes. And then you have dirt with an address.

I thought "Can I do this? Am I allowed? Can I just buy a piece of land and it just...sits there? And maybe someday twenty years from now when I can't handle stairs and a big house anymore, I put a doublewide on it? Is that a thing real people do?"

I asked Kevin. He confirmed this was a thing that real people did and was not a completely batshit use of a windfall. He added that I could also potentially sell that land in twenty years and make a profit. I had to go lay down for a few minutes with a cold cloth over my eyes.

I selected a realtor by virtue of driving down the street and finding one with an open sign and went in. The pleasant older woman there, who looked more like a children's author than I ever will, listened to me blurt out my thoughts.

"Is this a thing people do?" I asked her at the end. "Is this nuts?"

"No," she said. "I mean, it's not nuts. Yes, people do this."

I stared at her, probably much like Ernie the hound when he is faced with something outside his experience.

"It's fine," she added. "Let's look at some listings."

And that is how we wound up tromping through the woods this morning, looking at a multi-acre lot so cheap that I assumed it would be on fire while I was looking at it. There is a house from 1900 that will require the services of a man with a bulldozer and perhaps a priest. The lot would need a well dug, and if I wanted to actually live there, it would need various other things done, but none of them are urgent. It could just...sit there.

"Why is it so cheap?" I said, baffled. "And why has it been on the market so long?" I was assuming that the house was probably made of asbestos held together with lead paint, with a meth lab in the basement, but up close, no self-respecting meth maker would have set up shop there. There was a toilet and a privet tree on the front deck. Nevertheless, even with having to save for house demolition and lead paint disposal, I could probably make it work without breaking the bank. The bank might even help.

The realtor explained that it was not the best neighborhood. I looked at the neighborhood somewhat blankly. There was an abandoned house on one side, a couple of ramshackle farmhouses on the others, and a pasture full of goats. Was it the goats?

The realtor said it was not the goats.

It occurred to me, after some delicate hinting, followed by indelicate hinting, followed by pointing, that perhaps my notion of what a low-income rural area looks like has been colored by living, in the past, in low-income rural areas. People paying top dollar for lots in my county are usually going into a subdivision. We're a bedroom community for the Research Triangle. These people don't go out to a goat pasture with a ruined trailer on its side and say "AHHH, COUNTRY LIFE!"

"But once the trees leaf out, you can't even see the goats," I said. "Or the trailer."

The realtor gazed briefly at the sky.

"And I could--Oooohh! A dog skull!"

"You see," said the realtor, as I flicked pine needles of my new skull, "the things you want are...unusual."

"I shall name you Skull-Bob," I said to the skull.

"Annnnnway," said the realtor, "I'll talk to the selling agent and see if I can find anything more out about it. But I think this might actually be a good fit for you, since you're looking long-term and not to move right away."

"And this isn't nuts? I'm not missing huge red flags?"

"No, for the price and the neighborhood and the fact somebody probably subdivided out a family plot, this is actually all pretty normal."

"...Do I get to keep the skull?"

"You get to keep the skull," she said.

"Woo!"

And now of course I am seized with doubt and wondering if this is all utterly mad and a horrible waste of unexpected money, but our area is on course to gentrify with the new development that went in and I have no illusions about saving the house or anything and...still, I'm thinking, am I allowed to do this? Do real people buy land? Real people who aren't, like, rich people?

Is this okay?

breeden
ursulav

(no subject)



Built a proof-of-concept today. I don’t even know what this is–a mini-chinampas-inspired tub concept? Or is this something everybody already knows about and I just can’t get the right search terms to spit it out? Or has everybody tried this already and failed and now we all know better except me?

Well, I had pond liner and a whiskey barrel planter and Azolla caroliniana and I’ve been making grow bags, so let’s see what happens.


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