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Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Thanks to everyone who commented so I would donate to  Heifer.org, which I just did. I chose honeybees because they are not only a good business and a good-for-you product, but bees are so crucial to pollinating all the plants we need. I just may have to come up with an excuse to do this again — no need to wait til Christmas to give to others.

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Season’s blessings, peace and good will to all!

To make Christmas even brighter, hop over to Nathan Bransford’s blog where he is giving $1.00 per comment to Heifer International, a truly worthy organization. (They give people sheep, too) So I will also give a dollar to HI.org for every new comment here between now and midnight CST Christmas night. Up to $100, because he has generously offered to match participating blogger comments. That way HI gets a twofer.

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Unintentional Writing Tips

If your gift is crochet, better to make a great doily than a lousy parachute.

You know you are obsessed with the craft of writing when random quotes all seem to apply to your work-in-progress. Here’s a baker’s dozen from one crazed, revelatory evening with my thesaurus of quotations:

1. “By labor fire is got out of a stone” – Dutch proverb: Exactly describes the process of my novel revision.

2. “To really know someone is to have loved and hated him in turn” – Marcel Jouhandeau: = recipe for a believable character?

3. “The mind of man is more intuitive than logical, and comprehends more than it can coordinate.” – Vauvenargues: So THAT’S why my plot structure sucks!

4. “Pour not water on a drowning mouse.” – T. Fuller: Dear agent, I know you meant well with that query rejection, but…

5. “Little by little does the trick.” Aesop: 500 words/day WILL a novel make, given enough days.

6. “Alternatives, & particularly desirable alternatives, grow only on imaginary trees.” – S. Bellow: And thus, I write fantasy.

7. “It’s absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious.” O. Wilde: Substitute “books” for “people.”

8. “Men perish because they cannot join the beginning with the end.” – Alcmaeon: Substitute “books” for “men.”

9. “The man who suspects his own tediousness is yet to be born.” – T.B.Aldrich: I definitely need more beta readers.

10. “By the husk you may guess at the nut.” T. Fuller: Truly, let the pros do your cover.

11. “He that is everywhere is nowhere.” T. Fuller: FOCUS!

12. “Our nature consists in motion; complete rest is death.” – Pascal: Let the protagonist lounge, and the Story Mortician will come a-knocking.

13. “Never fall out with  your bread and butter.” – English Proverb: This either means don’t eat toast over your laptop, or take care switching genres. Equally useful!

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First, I must say that the Beast of Bray Rd. and his kin that are reported to me from around the country for the past 17 years regrettably bear no resemblance to the cute, sexy werewolves of the book and movie, New Moon. (Which are really Native American shapeshifters or Skinwalkers, not werewolves.) And they would make terrible boyfriends for the following reasons:

 

-The creatures I call Manwolves have no physically human aspect, other than bipedal stance and some behavioral traits, so while they may be good-looking for canines, they aren’t really movie star handsome unless you’re casting for Rin Tin Tin.

-Many who have encountered a Manwolf at close range have reported a horrible smell of wet dog and urine. I bet even love-struck Bella would not be enticed by that.

-Manwolves are snarly, aggressive and anti-social; less than optimal boyfriend material. They eat roadkill, deer and cats so you wouldn’t want one to take you to dinner.

-And worst of all, unknown bipedal canines leave the scene at the first opportunity. That smacks of major future commitment problems.

Second, I would just like to mention that the hunky werewolf lover has a long tradition in literature, despite the inherent problems. One is the story of Bisclaveret, which is Breton for werewolf. Like New Moon, it was penned by a popular female writer, in this case Marie de France, but it predates Stephenie Meyer by about 1800 years (the 1100s).

Bisclaveret was a rich and hunky lord of Brittany who naturally married a beautiful woman. His wife wanted to know where he went for three days of every week, however, and found out that he was spending the time running around, literally, as a werewolf. He transformed by shedding his clothing, and could only change back by putting the same outfit back on.

His wife decided she would prefer a former, entirely human lover who then stole Bisclaveret’s clothing and partied on the werewolf’s wealth with the lady for years. Eventually Bisclaveret was able to kill the knave — and his unfaithful wife — and get his clothing and estates back.

Werewolves are fun to put in fiction, I have done it myself. The possibilities are endless. But whatever it is that people are really seeing in the American woods and fields is something entirely different. And the real creatures, whatever they are, don’t appear ready for their close-up just yet.

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My Evening Adventuress costume

Me as "Evening Adventuress"

Steampunk costumes are glorious things. My own effort was not contest-worthy (though I still had fun wearing it), but I was blown-like-a-zeppelin-in-a-hurricane away by the grand prize winners; a wheelchair tricked out  with everything from a dangling faux gaslight to a metal-tubing cupholder, and a man with a wooden cabinet backpack that had moving gears, Tesla lights, and an array of other steamish objects too vast to describe here.

My quick take-aways from the weekend:

Victorian-era clothing looks great on every age group, with the possible exception of corsets worn as sole top. A corset-fail pictorial would have been horrendously easy to document.

Most SF/F fans believe Bigfoot is also SF/F, judging by the Mystery Animal Panel.

Autographing tables really should be located someplace near the attendees.

Girl Genius is a funny and top class comic.

Panelists in the know mentioned Tobias Buckell and Paolo Bacigalupi and Catherynne M. Valente  as some of their fave, upcoming novelists. My Amazon wishlist runneth over.

Concensus from the 2012 Apocalypse panel I sat on was that the big change will be a spiritual transformation rather than an all out Armageddon as in the movie. Whew! I can drive again without checking for yawning sinkholes to Hell every two minutes. And does this mean anyone can be Pope in 2012?

It is possible to go an entire weekend eating nothing but Con Suite and Green Room food. And those who do, really appreciate it.

With the exception of one argumentative dealer, SF/F people are the nicest and most mannerly of crowds. Maybe it’s because we have so much practice at keeping our monsters in our heads where they belong.

windycon 007

WindyCon36 attendees

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My Necravenomicon Wings

My Necravenomicon Wings

I’m not a costume person. I had a bad costume-fail for my second grade class Halloween party and never quite recovered. I have always blamed my mother.

She had this thrifty notion that my costume should also be able to double as pajamas, so she had my grandma whip up a baggy bodysuit out of tiger-print flannel, complete with an eared cap that tied under my chin. The really egregious part was that she had forgotten to buy a mask or costume makeup, so she drew jagged stripes all over my face with her bright red lipstick. Altogether, I looked like Freddie Krueger had gotten hold of the neighborhood cat.

My classmates were grossed out. Worse yet, my two best friends, Mary and Leslie, were dressed like little dolls as Little Bo Peep and a fairy princess, respectively. My boyfriend  of the week, Larry Vorba, said Leslie was pretty but I was not. And the lipstick smelled like my mother’s saliva. I pretty much swore off elaborate costumes forever.

Then came WindyCon’s Steampunk-themed con, happening this Nov. 13-15. I’m on two panels and have a book signing — how could I not wear a costume? Besides, Steampunk is Victorian+fantasy+cool, Neil-Gaimanesque imagery. Irresistible. I decided to forget the tiger suit debacle and bought a hat and corset. I then set about creating a fantasy gadget “jet-pack” and attached it to some post-Halloween sale wings from Walgreen’s. I’m aiming for a gothy Victorian Tinkerbell look.

Here is a shot of the wing ensemble, and I’m also rigging up a big pocketwatch/brooch combination and will be carrying a transformed old book. I also have a very short ruffled skirt and tall black boots. And the only lipstick on my face will be between  my nose and chin where it belongs.

Larry Vorba, whereever you are, this one’s for you.

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I must be one, then.

I’ve been called worse. So when an airline in-flight magazine gives me the title of monster hunter it strikes me only as a tad amusing, and perhaps even accurate. Midwest’s current fall issue chronicles the tour of southeast Wisconsin strangeness that I gave Chicago writer Rod O’Connor in July (read ONLINE). Using my books Strange Wisconsin and Weird Wisconsin, we covered Lake Geneva’s lake monster, Jennie, the Beast of Bray Road (natch), the Millard dinosaur store (which didn’t make it in but see my photo below), Whitewater’s famed witch’s triangle, and the weirdest legend in Wisconsin: Haunchyville, alleged domain of tiny men with miniature but lethal baseball bats.

 

O’Connor does a great job of contrasting SE Wisconsin’s pleasant, woods-and-cornfields landscape with the monsters and strangeness that lurk therein. He writes as fastidiously as he keeps his car — despite the fact that he often has a baby on board, the interior would put any dealer’s detailer to shame. “We never eat in the car,” he told me as I bit into the pita sandwich I had just acquired at the LaGrange General Store. His eyes followed a crumb that had dropped to the pristine passenger seat where I sat. I hastily retrieved it and made sure there were no more. You never want to tick off someone who is going to write a major magazine story about you. 

I did thoroughly enjoy the day, especially our side trip to Mystic Drive in Muskego where the Haunchies famously dwell. The tales tell of a forbidden lane at the end of the street that is guarded by a rifle-toting man in a black pickup truck, where you are sure to incur a whopping fine for trespassing. We did encounter a black truck with two men but no visible rifle. But the farm at the end of the street where the lane should have been is now busily subdividing itself like an amoeba, and the Haunchy habitat appears to have been obliterated.

I was amazed then when we discovered a weedy yard on Mystic Drive itself with three small, strange-looking buildings. From the looks of them, no humans of any size ever dwelled here, but I wondered whether their presence was enough to have started the Haunchy legend in the first place? Supposedly the Haunchies were a colony of little people retired from area-based circuses, but I had expected to find nothing at all from this popular urban legend. The tiny buildings were a fun bonus. They can be seen from the road, no need to trespass. Here is a picture of the oddest one:

 

It is obvious from the state of disrepair that this is no country for old, little men. 

The tour was fun, though, and we barely scratched the surface of weirdness in Wisconsin. I hope the Midwest passengers get a charge out of the article and a little crypto-education to boot. Perhaps more than one will be alert enough to glimpse that pterodactyl winging its way past their cabin window…. 

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