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Back To Work

Well, it’s Thursday. My con crud is still working its way through my system, primarily in the form of a cough that makes me sound like John Keats. Here Lies One Whose Name Was Writ In Phlegm…

And since there is no rest for the whimsical,* it’s back to the word mines for me. Working on Dragonbreath art. (Only 80 more illos to go!) Royalty statement for Horned Bunnies arrived over the weekend, and indicates that it sold 40K copies in the first five months and earned out faster than any of the others. This is very cheering. Also, I pretty much expect to be hit by a meteorite at any moment now. Hugo! Royalties! Flowers from agent! Kevin! At least the garden is in post-August wreckage, to provide some shreds of karmic balance, otherwise I wouldn’t dare get out of bed. *grin*

If I haven’t said it already, thank you to everybody who’s sent me congratulations. You guys are the best.

By way of gratitude–and also to prove that I’m working, really!–here’s two short tidbits from House With Bird Feet. Summer has met three odd sisters wearing animal skins and seen some very odd trees. (This story is really cookin’ for me. If my agent can’t place it, I’ll have to do something else with it, because it’s got hold of my brain in a big way…) The second chunk is a conversation that takes place as she walks across the desert by scorpion-light.


“Now then, Summer,” said Boarskin, pouring another cup of tea into Summer’s cup, and watching the steam curl up from it. “How did you get here? Did you ride in by fern-fish or step through a door in the hedge? Did you walk into a dragon’s shadow?”

“She doesn’t smell of dragon,” said Bearskin.

“Well…” said Summer, wrapping her fingers around her teacup to keep them warm. “Baba Yaga told me she was giving me my heart’s desire, and then I went out of her house and I was in the hallway with the stained glass windows.”

“Baba Yaga sent you?” asked Boarskin and Bearskin at once, and drew together on their rock.

Donkeyskin drew the hood of her cloak up over her head. Its long donkey ears were tattered and it had white stones sewn into the eyes.

“Um,” said Summer. “Yes?”

They looked at each other, then back at her.

“Baba Yaga, the cannibal?”

“Baba Yaga, the crone?”

“Baba Yaga, the witch, the wonder-worker, the teeth-that-bite-the-ground—“ Boarskin pressed a hand to her lips. “That Baba Yaga?”

“Don’t be a fool,” said Bearskin sharply to her sister, “do you think anyone else would dare claim that name? She’d feed them into her cauldron and take them out as a hundred spiny salamanders. She’d turn them into a drift of wildflowers and plant them in a sheep meadow. She’d make their bones into the root of a fig tree and sink them into their own children’s graves.”

Summer gulped.

“She—she didn’t do any of that. She said she’d eat me if she was in a bad mood, but I didn’t think she meant it. Well, she had a chair made of bones, so I wondered, but…” Summer twisted her fingers together. “Um. She gave me a weasel.”

The weasel stuck his head out of her pocket and gave her a dirty look.

“Very useful animals, weasels,” said Boarskin.


“Is it true what they said about Baba Yaga?” asked Summer.

“True?” asked the weasel. “True enough. They said less than they might have and a great deal less than they could have. It doesn’t pay to talk about Baba Yaga behind her back.”

“Oh.” Summer thought about that. “How did you wind up in her house? Did she offer you your heart’s desire?”

“Not hardly,” said the weasel, sounding very annoyed.

“Then how?”

“The witch’s house lays eggs sometimes,” said the weasel. “I tried to eat one.”

Summer wrinkled her forehead. “But it’s a house. Wouldn’t its eggs be—oh—enormous? Bigger than me?”

“So maybe I’m ambitious,” said the weasel. “Nothing wrong with ambition, is there? ‘Shoot for the moon,’ everybody says, ‘if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.’” He spat, a motion almost too tiny for Summer’s eyes to follow. “Feh! I suppose ‘if you miss, you’ll be captured by a great bloody hag out of legend and stuffed into a coat pocket for a week’ was too much of a mouthful.”

Summer had no idea what to say to that. “Um. I’m sorry?”

“Not your fault,” said the weasel. “Also, we’re being followed. No, don’t look!”


And with that, it’s back to the word mines. The next section involves an oracular cheese. Hard to go wrong with an oracular cheese.


*Even I don’t believe my claims to be wicked anymore. Also if I tried to go “MUAHAHAHAAH!” with this cough, I’d have to spend a few minutes in the bathroom with a glass of water.

Originally published at Tea with the Squash God. You can comment here or there.


Its long donkey ears were tattered and it had white stones sewn into the eyes.

Can't help visualizing Boneclaw Mother here!

Also, thirded on wondering what happens if an Oracular Slug encounters an Oracular Cheese.

YES!!! Definitely Boneclaw Mother!

I used to read your blog a few years ago. After a divorce and four moves in two years, I unfortunately got out of the habit. I started back up again a few weeks ago and I am so glad! No where else have I, nor will I, ever come across the phrase "oracular cheese," which is a damn shame! I love the way you write. The way you turn a phrase sounds exactly like the way I talk to myself in my head (if that makes any kind of sense!).

So where will you keep the Hugo? :D. I would imagine that object like this would attract cat like crazy and they will try to rub against it until it fell from the shelf or something.

There is a creaking, shuffling sound from across the room as a space opens up on my already overcrowded bookshelves for House with Bird Feet. Presumably one or two of the less favoured books have been forced into l-space to make room. But this is a book I have to have. Which means you have to finish and publish it, by hook or by crook. I hope it is by honest means, but if it takes magical means, so be it.

Vision of the Happiest Weasel EVER as he sights a giant house egg. Until, you know, Baba Yaga found him.

"She’d make their bones into the root of a fig tree and sink them into their own children’s graves.”

Wow. That's just.... I love how you write. That's a threat of power, right there.

Looking forward to this!

Yeah. That fig-tree line is the thing, and the whole of the thing.

-- Graydon

'drew together on their rock' made me flash to 'Phantom Tollbooth' for some reason.

Ursula art sighting!

This has nothing to do with anything on this thread, but I think I spotted some of your art on TV last night. I was watching the program You Live in What? on HGTV and one of the spots was about a couple in Wilmington NC who live in a refurbished fire station. As the camera was showing their living space I caught a brief glimpse of a painting on a far wall---it was a tall rectangular panel, a painting of what looked like a gecko.

It appeared on camera for less than a nanojiffy, but the style was so distinctive I sat up in the armchair and said, "Hey, that looks like Ursula's stuff!" Ring any bells with anyone?

It's something to have a style so instantly recognizable! 8-)


After reading those snippets... You know that Futurama macro that makes all the rounds, the one about "take my money"?

Just... yeah. Picture that, right here.

Well, this reads like Stardust, and that got filmed, so I'm betting it would sell.

Make a kickstarter project out of it if your agent doesn't want it. I'll bet it's bought out within the week(who am I kidding, probably the day).

So how much more of this are you going to write before you show it to the agent? I'm honestly curious...

I generally go at least 15K, and then to what feels like a good stopping point. That's usually a chapter end, not a bad cliff-hanger (I feel that's kinda cheap) but where there's definitely a sense of Where The Plot Is Going. Ideally the main conflict will have been introduced. I just sent off this one yesterday--comes in around 16K and some change, she's escaped a danger, and we've heard at least the villain's name. (There's more to it than that--sometimes it's "To the point where I don't know exactly what happens next," sometimes not.)

My agent, depending on her schedule, may get back to me in two days or two months (usually on the latter it's "Shit! I thought I e-mailed you already!") which doesn't bother me because I honestly produce a LOT of these starts, and some of them may go somewhere and some may not. In the meantime, I take a break from it if I can, but I will often start writing on it again. She'll sometimes write to say "I like this so far," which I take as an invite to keep writing on it, and now and again, it'll be "This is really something," (i.e. Bread Wizard, Hamster Princess.)

Some starts just sit there for months or years, and then I'll pick 'em up again and they will scream "WORK ON ME NOW." Some of them never get so far that I send it to my agent at all. Some of them get finished, bought, published. So, y'know. Lotta irons in the mental fire.

I look forward to an oracular cheese. Immensely.

I just realized, your weasel (well, Summer's weasel, I suppose) reminds me an awful lot of the weasel an old D&D character of mine had. Anklebane was also quite a bit more intelligent - or at least more pragmatic - than his sorceress. As I recall, the party tended to address him as his own, more useful person too. He didn't talk, though, which was probably just as well. He had the most sarcastic eye rolls... :)

I love your prose! Boarskin's description of Summer's possible modes of transportation and the sisters' discussion of Baba Yaga are written concisely but simultaneously the imagery is so extremely rich. We all know what that hedge-door looks like, we know the danger and mystery of the dragon's shadow, we know the cunning and appreciation for irony that makes up so much of Baba Yaga's personality....and the complete absence of forgiveness or compassion if she's really after you. We know how that fig tree would weep inside as its roots twine among its children's bones.