Daily Archives: March 31, 2011

What I Read in March 2011

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
Locked Rooms by Laurie R. King (reread)
The Game by Laurie R. King (reread)
Unnatural Creatures by Sarah Monette
The Bone Key by Sarah Monette
Helping Parents Practice by Edmund Sprunger
The Sea Thy Mistress by Elizabeth Bear
Late Eclipses by Seanan McGuire
Grail by Elizabeth Bear

I am cranky. Nowhere in any of the advance store previews or ads that I read was A Discovery of Witches said to be anything other than a standalone novel. As I read it I kept thinking, “The pacing in this is odd. Decent story, but where is it going?” which became, “How on earth is this going to be wrapped up in twenty pages?” Turns out it’s to be a trilogy. I hold marketing to blame. Also, there’s not a smidge of mention anywhere in the book itself, not in front or back matter, that says it’s to be anything more than a single book. (I just dug out the book jacket and on the inside flap in pale letters it says it’s the first of a trilogy. Man, that rankles.) I will be reading the others in the trilogy, just so we’re clear; I find a lot of the central ideas very interesting (especially having just gone through a crash course in genetics).

Stopping By To Say Hi

I am swamped with work. I have a month to deadline, and hospitals and doctors have eaten up a lot of work days in the past couple of months. I have to add April to my list of Months In Which I Will Have No Time To Do Anything So Please Don’t Ask.

Here’s a scattershot report of the past week:

1. You know that whole “maybe now that I don’t have to visit so many hospitals for tests and consultations I can get work done?” Yeeeeeah. Guess where we spent Tuesday? That would be checking out the emergency ward of our local hospital, because HRH got ambushed by a wicked kidney stone. The hospital and staff seem very nice. HRH is bruised and recovering from medical trauma.

2. We went in to Le Melange Magique this morning to bid farewell to Debra, the owner, who after nineteen and a half years decided that she had other things to do in her life. From the moment she told me of her plan to sell the store in January I have been behind her one hundred percent. She’s pulled off some pretty amazing stuff in the past twenty years, and deserves her retirement from the metaphysical business and eventual refocusing on a new career. I admire her immensely, both for what she built, and for moving on when the time was right. And I am thrilled that a couple of my friends have bought the store; the administration team is going to be terrific. The store is in good hands.

3. The boy attended his first group cello class on Sunday, and it went very well indeed. He saw seven or eight other kids, ranging from his age to late teens, playing, and was thoroughly energized. He played open strings that fit into whatever the other kids were playing from the Suzuki repertoire, and I saw him imitating their bowing rhythms and pretending to move his left hand fingers on the fingerboard like they were doing, too, which is huge because he’s been resisting left hand work; he just hasn’t been ready yet. My teacher lent us a basic first cello performance book that uses the Twinkle Variation A rhythm for the young “soloist” along with a piano and second cello accompaniment, which sounds like “real music,” and we have played “Wintertime in Russia” and today we played “Carnival in Rio.” Sure, the young soloist in question is playing an open string over and over, but the piano and second cello move around and use different keys, and as a result different moods are created. “Wintertime in Russia” really sounded Russian; “Carnival in Rio” sounded like a gentle samba. He loves playing with me, and I think the fact that we’re playing “his” music makes a big difference to him. And he’s doing a good job maintaining the rhythm, and watching for cues to stop, too.

4. We’re in the last few days before the spring concert this Saturday. There are some things I still can’t get, mostly cues that feel sudden to me, and I can’t do any more work on them on my own because it’s about fitting in with what’s happening in the orchestra. I can play the stuff on my own. It’s understanding where to come in that’s throwing me. And as usual I feel awful, because I’m right in front of the conductor, and I feel like I’m personally letting him down when he suddenly turns and cues me and I miss it. I know it’s coming; I know, and I’m physically prepped, and then whoosh it’s gone. I am definitely proud of conquering some stuff I was struggling with up till last week, though.

5. The baby (whose code name is Owlet, dubbed thusly by the boy) is big enough to be visibly bumping my tummy around from the inside. It is amusing.

6. Yes, the baby has a name, or one so far, at least. No, no one’s getting to hear it until she’s born. Partly because, well, it’s ours right now, and partly because if it really doesn’t suit her when she’s born, we don’t want to have to explain that we’ve changed it. She has actually had a name since a couple of days before she was conceived, when the boy casually mentioned to us at the breakfast table that he was going to have a baby sister, and this is what her name was going to be. Two weeks later I showed HRH the pregnancy test, and when the boy asked what it was, we told him it was the baby he’d ordered. It’s an unusual name, too, one we’ve never heard before. We have no idea where the boy found it; we know no one with that name, there are no kids at school of that name, it hasn’t been in any books or films we’ve seen or read. We suspect he made it up, although HRH has since found it online as a variation or diminutive of another name. We really love the fact that he’s so voluntarily involved with this baby. He’s taken on the task of designing the nursery theme as well, and has proposed several crafts for us to do to create mobiles and blankets and so forth.

7. I got the mock-up of the cover for the bird book, and it is absolutely exquisite. It’s easily my favourite of all my book covers. It looks like an old botanical illustration, but with birds. The tentative release date for the book and the companion journal is January 2012. (If I ever get it finished, that is. I’m going to have to start adding another work day on weekends, probably Sundays, to hit my deadline. Stupid doctor appointments. At least I only have two scheduled this month.) (She said with great emphasis, glaring at the universe.)

8. I need a new laptop. The borrowed iBook is running Panther (2003, boys and girls!), Safari crashes on it repeatedly when I try to access half the research pages I need to access, and it is, alas, very slow. I can write a rough draft of one entry on the iBook in the time it would take me to write two polished entries on the desktop. My original plan to buy a secondhand iPad on which to write has been morphing into a less-exciting plan to buy a secondhand Macbook, which will serve me better in the long run for switching between documents and online research. Not that I can buy either until my delivery cheque is issued to me after I hand the bird book in. (The point that I will not need to switch back and forth so often once this research-heavy book has been handed in has not escaped me. I have three months to decide which to choose, in which I may be able to borrow an iPad for a day or so to test it out.) Yes, I do have an old Windows laptop, too, but it dates from about 2003 as well. I should see if I can update its browsers and such.

That’s all I’ve got right now. I have to go turn the oven on to bake today’s bread, and get at least one bird done today (this morning and early afternoon were errands and such). I got four birds done yesterday, which was heartening. I’m looking at the number of birds I have left, and at the remaining space within my allotted word count, and thinking that I need to stop going into so much detail. But I’m still stuck on the “can you flesh this part out more?” request that came back after I handed in a sample with my proposal, so I’m adding as much as I can. It can always come out later, but as time is beginning to be of the essence, I may have to dial back to basics.