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14 June 2016 @ 11:34 pm

I feel that that’s a provocative subject line, but it’s the root question being posed here, so…

I’m reading a book. It’s a decent book. Written by a guy, four or so main characters, one of whom is a woman, and she’s beautiful, which is fine. Viewpoint Bad Guy Character creeps on her, which is creepy but okay fine he’s the bad guy. He creeps on all the other (attractive) women he encounters too. It’s gross but certainly recognizeable.

Hero Viewpoint Character does not creep on her, which is good! What he does do, though, is constantly, *repeatedly*, every time he looks at her, thinks about her beauty, admires her beauty, says to himself, “Self, I would like to spend more time with this woman,” which okay fine whatever, I find it sort of nauseating, not quite as uncomfortable as the Viewpoint Bad Guy but still pretty much “ugh,” and so my question became:

Is this just bad writing (because it is bad writing, it makes me go “ugh” and I’d like to think if it was well done I wouldn’t go “ugh”) or is it actually decently representative of how men think?

Or I don’t know, maybe how *people* think, except, I mean, I know some very beautiful people, people I like to look at, but I do not actively think of their beauty every time I look at them. Literally the only time in my life I can remember thinking of someone’s beauty every time I saw them was Harry Cavill in The Man From UNCLE, because every time he came on screen I was just like “my GOD he’s beautiful, my GOD he is SO BEAUTIFUL,” and I thought it was *ridiculous* that I couldn’t think of anything except his beauty.

I mean like there’s the opening credits of Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid where there’s this sepia shot of Paul Newman and even in sepia his eyes are just so freaking blue, so clear and so incredible, that it’s a *moment* of sort of falling over sweet jesus what beauty, and there’s like that gif of Marlon Brando rolling his eyes that I could stare and giggle helplessly at for like a week straight, and okay possibly the entirety of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof with Newman and Taylor is pretty nearly like that, but those, to me, are pretty extreme cases. I mean, Ted wandered in the other day to see a picture of George Clooney on the screen and said, correctly, “My God, he’s beautiful,” which is absolutely true, but that’s a passing observation; one swiftly becomes *accustomed* to that beauty, and moves on. That was why Cavill in The Man From UNCLE was so absurd: I could not stop noticing how utterly beautiful he was, and that was completely outside my experience.

But that kind of writing from a male POV isn’t all that *unusual*, and so it leads me to wonder if that really *is* decently representative of the male experience (or indeed, the female experience outside my own).

(If it is in fact representative of the male experience but not, broadly speaking, the female experience, I have a lot of Opinions about society and expectation and objectifying and things like that on the matter, but it’s late here and we’ll leave the unpacking of that for another time. :))

ETA: I should note the Hero Character does not seem badly socialized or at all an ass; I have the impression that if the Female Lead said “nah, not interested” he’d be all “okay, cool” about it, not manboy-crushed-self-esteem or anything, which is actually I think why I’m asking: this isn’t the boy who can’t take a hint or doesn’t know how to talk to girls or whatever, it’s an apparently pretty average decent human being, just with this weird-to-me constant *active* awareness of/fixation on How Lovely This Woman Is, and do men really just do that all the time or is it really just bad writing?

ETA2: I mean I get being aware you’re attracted to someone and even noticing “god damn they’re hot” unexpectedly, perhaps even often, and perhaps it’s just that it’s compressed into a book and therefore really noticeable and stuff in which case it’s emphatically bad writing, but…yeah, I’m going to bed now.

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

13 June 2016 @ 09:41 am

I started a new playlist the other night, “Gospel Truth,” which currently contains the following songs:

Alison Krauss: Down By The River To Pray
Kansas: Wayward Son
Rufus Wainwright: Hallelujah
Zulu Tradition: Hallelujah
Cole Porter (Kevin Kline, De-Lovely): Blow Gabriel Blow
Bon Jovi: Keep The Faith, Captain Crash & the Beauty Queen From Mars
Jon Bon Jovi: Bang A Drum
Guys & Dolls: Siddown You’re Rockin The Boat, Luck Be A Lady
Taylor Swift: Wildest Dreams (this may go, not sure yet), Out Of The Woods

Queen: Who Wants To Live Forever, The Show Must Go On
Hozier: Take Me To Church
Guns N Roses: Knocking On Heaven’s Door
Heart: Stairway to Heaven
Amazing Grace (bagpipes)
Meat Loaf: For Crying Out Loud
Bon Jovi: Living On A Prayer
Leonard Cohen: Hallelujah
Take That: Rule The World

I’m looking for other recommendations for the playlist! Favourite covers of Amazing Grace and Hallelujah are particularly welcome, as it’s impossible to have too many versions of those songs (someone’s recommended John Cale’s Hallelujah but I haven’t downloaded it yet). Nor have I gone through the rest of Alison Krauss and/or Union Station to pick up what’s best from them, but as you can see, the vibe here isn’t meant to be so much actual gospel (although that’s obviously good too) as a certain vibe that I think the above songs generally encompass. So I’m looking for songs that speak a truth to your soul, basically. Hit me with your best shot. :)

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

10 June 2016 @ 03:01 pm

I’d brought my Big Camera (the DSLR) to Oxford because we’d been told 10 days for recovery for my dad’s brain surgery (he’s doing well, he goes back next week to get the power turned on), and I knew Oxford was beautiful and I wanted to spend a few mornings and afternoons taking pictures.

Then Dad did so brilliantly they were threatening to send him home after 3 days (!), so I got up Very Early and went out with my camera, because damned if I was gonna have lugged the camera and an extra lens all the way to Oxford and not use it!

And I do mean Very Early, because I wanted the sunrise light, so I was out on the streets before 6am. And then the light had changed by 7:15 or so and because EUROPE there weren’t any damn cafes or anything at all open yet and the Botanic Gardens, which I wanted to go to, didn’t open until 9, so I spent a great deal of time wandering around in an exhausted haze.

Eventually the gardens opened, and to my offense I had to pay a fiver to get in (Dublin’s are free, and better), but I got some pictures I loved, so it was all good. :)

This is the most Stock Photography photograph I’ve ever taken. That’s not a bad thing, but it’s so Stock Photography that I find it ridiculous. :) It needs a little bit of fill light on the foreground to really make it pop, and while it’s probably possible to do that with Photoshop, I didn’t know how any more than I had a fill flash with me, so it’s not quite as Perfectly Stock as it could be, but it’s Pretty Stock. :)

I should probably not love the intense saturation of colors as much as I do, but, well, I do, and so that’s my photography aesthetic. And to be fair, these tulips in the morning sunshine really were very strongly colored!

These tulips are METAL, folks. Look at those ragged edges!

I am deeply, deeply in love with this photo. My goal was a crisp close-up with the petals rising toward the lens in sharper (but inevitably blurred because focal point) focus, but lacking three hands, I couldn’t hold the camera properly and hold the flower *still* in the mild wind, so there was an even softer focus than I’d intended and I just love it.

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

09 June 2016 @ 01:17 pm

I’ve just gotten the counter-signed contract, so I can make a Big Announcement!

I’ve been in (slow, because of me, not them) talks with Markosia Enterprises, a comics-and-graphic-novels publisher in the UK, and I am SO EXCITED to tell you that my comic book series, “Take A Chance”, is FINALLY going to be available as a graphic novel!!!

I don’t have a release date for it yet, or a pre-order page, but it should be available late this year or early next, and HOO BOY am I gonna come begging you wonderful people to pre-order when the time comes, because (honestly) you’d be astounded at how few sales (in the grand scheme of things) can get graphic novels onto bestseller lists. There are enough of you to make it happen, let me put it that way. <3 <3 <3 OMG SO EXCITE *SO EXCITE*!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

07 June 2016 @ 08:30 pm

I’ve forgotten, in the interim between posting the last coloring pages and these ones, what exactly I did with the photoshop levels to make the whites so crisp and clean last time (Ellen, you posted a coloring how-to blog or something that was profoundly enlightening, but I can’t find it again!) so these colors aren’t so nice, but they’re pretty good. :)

I actually thought I’d long since posted the first of these, as it’s been done for ages, but apparently I hadn’t, so here’s two, but not the two I’d planned on posting. I’d been gonna do the two facing pages of the second page all at once so I’d be consistent with which colors I used. I did a bunch of skin tones (and kept missing entire, like, torsos, which, just, wut? I was looking SO CAREFULLY, and still missing them!) and hair (ditto missing them) but then got drawn into leaves and wolves and things and finished up one page without the other being more than a quarter done.

I believe Nightrunner (Cutter’s wolf) changes color in every single frame he’s in in these two pages. I’ve read enough comics in my life to know that’s a hallmark of professionalism. :) (Also I honestly don’t remember what color he’s supposed to be. Mostly I’m like, “Brown, wolves are grey or brown,” with the occasional moment of WAIT DEWSHINE’S WOLF IS NAMED LIONSKIN HE’S GOLD NOT BROWN that primarily goes to show just how many long-term memory brain cells I have dedicated to ElfQuest…)

Elfquest Graphic Novel &quot;Coloring Book&quot;, page 5


(x-posted from The Essential Kit)


A friend introduced me to Bullet Journaling, which I looked at with shining admiring eyes and said “Yes, but digital,” and then I went to look for something that I could do that with digitally.

I found Workflowy, which is a 100% ideal work-based Thinks To Do format for me. I’m going to use it for work stuff, because it’s cross-platform, it collapses the to-do lists which is awesome for ease of navigating, you can bullet-point your way in for increasingly minute aspects of the job to your heart’s content, it’s drag and drop so I can move completed projects to the bottom of the list easily, it uses tags in a comprehensible way, it lets you add notes and thoughts to any given bullet point without cluttering up the main view of it, it’s simple, basically it’s absolutely perfect for work stuff.

Sadly for my daily life to-do lists I want something more…agile.

This is what my phone homepage currently looks like. Observe the event, “June Bank Holiday”, which is demarcated by a little *, as opposed to the ✓ of the next item, which is a Thing To Do but comes up on this functional but unattractive calendar widget associated with Any.Do. I can switch to Google’s more attractive calendar widget, but then I lose the To Do list, which is about 90% of the whole goddamn point.


Any.do is exceptionally good for its rolling Daily Things To Do aspect, but I don’t find it particularly easy to add tasks, especially because I’m using their “Cal” calendar interface because their actual Any.do widget interface gives you a “today tomorrow upcoming” but doesn’t add calendar events in, whereas the Cal widget will show not only the to-do tasks but also the calendar events, and the point of this long sentence is that because it’s the Calendar widget, clicking the + in the top corner brings you to ADD EVENTS, not ADD TASKS, which is really frustrating when I just want one. goddamn. app. to do all the things, and 90% of what I add are things to do, not events.

Google Calendar doesn’t add *tasks* easily enough, and has no rolling daily things to do list aspect that I can locate, and that’s 90% of what I use a to-do list for, so that renders it pretty fecking useless to me.

What I want right now, clearly, is the following:

– Workflowy style easy-to-use heirarchical outline-style to-do task list (AnyDo’s interface, even the web one, just isn’t as slick to use for nested lists)
– with AnyDo style rolling today/tomorrow/upcoming/someday appearance task list (Workflowy’s tags could easily be used for this)
– and an easy-to-add appointments/events function that
– automatically integrates with (in my android-using case) Google calendar so if I’m doing a month-at-a-glance thing I see the appointments and so if I buy plane tickets & Google adds them to the calendar they appear as appointments/events on the app
– all with an attractive widget interface

I passionately want this. Not passionately enough to learn to code it all, though, god damn it. And honestly, I don’t know if my desires here are just REALLY DIFFICULT to code and that’s why it sees like nobody’s done what I’m looking for, or if I’m just the only person on earth who wants this.

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

03 June 2016 @ 01:14 pm

I’ve been nearing the halfway point on this scarf for a while now, but I have no ability at all to judge how much yarn I have left with regards to how many rows I can expect to knit with it. The last 14 rows went like this:

oh i probably have two rows worth of yarn left

okay so maybe it’s four


all right i’ve done ten there’s definitely…a dropped stitch there… *fails utterly to fix it, rips out 3 rows*

okay well so at least i know i have 3 rows +1 left, there’s definitely not more than 1 row’s worth after tha…

…okay two.


…i hope i have enough yarn to finish this 4th row…

I did, and added the next skein on. The scarf is halfway done now. My phone isn’t good enough to make the pictures turn out well, because the yarn is much prettier and sparklier than this, but I’m far too lazy to get out the big camera and do something about the lighting to show it off more nicely.


I might add a tier on Patreon where I’ll knit you a scarf, though. :)

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

02 June 2016 @ 07:23 pm

I haven’t been blogging much because life has been exceptionally chaotic lately, and not in a good way. (Dad and his bionic brain are doing fine, in case you leap to worrying about that.)

Among very many other things, we were informed about six weeks ago that the company my husband works for has lost its contract and the entire site was being made redundant, so Ted’s out of a job as of the end of next week.

We’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out what we’re going to do. We still don’t know for absolute sure.

One potential route is pursuing my career as the breadwinning one, and Ted becoming the House Spouse for a while, giving me 20ish hours a week in which I can write while he takes on full-time parenting duties and takes up some project management stuff for my independent publishing–things I need and want to do but just don’t have time to between parenting and trying every once in a while to get some writing done.

Obviously I would love this. I mean, do you *know* how much writing I can do in 20 hours a week? (Somewhere between 20 and 30,000 words, broadly speaking: about 25-30% of a Walker Papers novel, for reference, or an entire novella, or (theoretically) four or five short stories, although short stories don’t usually actually go that fast)). I have a theory, actually, that given an exhaustive synopsis and 2 solid weeks to write all day every day in, I could write the bulk of most any 100Kish book that I tried my hand at.

I would *dearly* love to test this theory. Ted, actually, would like me to be able to, because Ted is possibly even more confident in my abilities than I am.

Buuuuut of course relying on a writer’s income is an alarmingly deep pit of potential terror. Ted’s getting some severance that will keep the wolf from the door for a bit. I’ve just signed a contract for something that will hopefully bring in some money next year (as soon as I get the countersigned contract back I’ll tell you what it is and you’ll (hopefully) all go SQUEE!), and I’ve just applied for something amazing that I won’t hear back about for months, but–but argh!

The thing is that we’re both pretty damned sure that if I can get enough time to write, I can probably release an independent book QUARTERLY and that we can make this work. But there’s lead time in here, time where I’m writing and getting things edited and cover art and the whole production process where the stuff I’m doing RIGHT NOW obviously can’t make any money YET but if we can just make it far enough to GET to the point where I’m able to release books that frequently then WOW IT COULD WORK.

If we can get to that point.

So this is where I boost the Patreon again!

I’ve just fin…well, almost finished, the most recent Old Races collection, so those stories are there waiting to be read, and in the next couple days I’ll be talking about what I’m going to be doing with it for the next few months.

This is also an excellent time to buy my books! Not that there’s any bad time, but now is definitely good. :) (Actually, I tend to imagine people reading my blog probably have anyway, but it doesn’t hurt to mention it! :))

So, yeah. Potentially exciting things ahead, but a hell of a road to travel to get to them.

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

01 June 2016 @ 11:34 pm

…including but not limited to Esmerel, Silkblade, Novella, Chaz’s cousin, Morgan Freeman, Marilyn Monroe, and Superman!

Regular blogging might resume tomorrow, but don’t hold your breath. It’s been a hell of a month.

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

16 May 2016 @ 01:39 pm

I cast off on Indy’s scarf-not-a-scarf-way-too-short-totally-a-cowl-that’s-what-i-meant-it-to-be last week and today nerved myself up to try stitching it together to see if it would make a cowl or if I in fact had to tear the whole thing out and do it again. So I stopped halfway up the seam to see if it would fit over Indy’s head, and he loved it that way:


So I’ve declared it done. O.O :)

I started a scarf for me. (This will actually be a scarf, I have enough yarn.) The point of pride with this was successfully knitting a second color into the scarf so, woo woo, I’m very impressive!


I have big ambitious plans to make a matching scarf/hat/mittens set with this sparkly black and blue yarn. :)

My mother-in-law and a friend who knits came to visit for a couple of weeks, and the friend has left me a big pile of yarn that she brought with her but didn’t do anything with while she was here. I have thoughts for a couple of the yarns (at least a couple more scarves; look, I’m not wildly ambitious here right now, okay?) and I’m sorta chuffed to have the stuff to experiment with, so it’ll be fun over the next several months. Or more. :)

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)