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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Novelist with an egg beater's LiveJournal:

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Friday, December 26th, 2014
12:15 pm
Thank you, Yulewriter!
I have the loveliest parable written for me, from the world of George MacDonald's "The Day Boy and the Night Girl," itself a beautiful story of gardens in the moonlight, fields in the sunlight and discovering courage. Here the hero and heroine, who have set out into the unknown at the end of MacDonald's story, come to Cordoba, to the city of libraries, and face fears of another kind …

Books on the one hand and meadow flowers on the other … Yulewiter, you couldn't have known me better. Thanks so much!
Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014
11:51 pm
Dear Yulewriter, thank you!
Dear Yulewriter,

Thank you for joining me in the warm fellowship that is Yuletide! Knowing you're writing a story to share with me while I'm playing with ideas for someone else warms me on fall evenings. Yuletide has become, for me, a way to explore new worlds. I've been known to offer (and end up writing in) fandoms I didn't know yet but wanted to. I've loved learning about sources I already love set in places I haven't been to, and finding new depths in people in sources I love. Open-mindedness turns me on, and curiosity, and people alive to what they see and hear and feel and touch. Courage and communication and the kind of love that can last through tough places. I've especially loved finding worlds and people new to me.Collapse )
Thursday, October 2nd, 2014
9:06 pm
Kass's warm and lovely post, which reminds me to reflect.

A purring fuzzy cat sharing my chair.

A weekend with family and my oldest friend and his fiancee. I got to talk more with her this time (we'd mostly met in large groups so far, and she's a medical fellow, so when she gets to a quiet place in the country she's usually sleepy, which I wholly understand. My sister's in the same crazy race.) I already knew I like her hugely and respect her, but we'd never had a chance before to watch bats at dusk and walk around the barns and sit on the back steps and talk. She's amazing. They cooked salmon for us for dinner, too, and my dad made corn pudding with corn we'd frozen and a salad out of the last of the garden. 

A day spent driving through the mountains from mist to sun, with the trees almost translucent in crimson and lemon and flame and ember-orange. This time of year, driving is almost dangerous — it's so hard to keep my eyes on the road.

An hour to explore a town I knew only in glimpses, and an Italian market with olive oil labelled entirely in Italian — and sandwiches with red peppers and artichokes.

Conversations with co-workers I value, and one who said he had learned a lot from working with me. (Man, I wish he wasn't leaving. But he'll do well where he's headed, and that's a gratitude too.)

An hour at a local arts center, mostly in a solo show of paintings versed in country things — Ayrshires and Holsteins in hazy midsummer pasture, a corn chopper, fields of half-melted snow in March glowing in late light, sun on the river. The curators knew and loved him, and the show is a retrospective in his memory, with letters from his friends. They say he used to live and work above a garage on a back road with his dog and a radio tuned to the BBC, bathe in the stream, quote Yates and Keats and French philosophers casually. I wish I'd known him.

Coffee with a former intern who has just moved back here from the city and is much happier.

Stretching myself to be social online in ways slightly beyond comfort (pat on the back).

Roast chicken in the oven. Upside down. Can you turn over a chicken like turning around the bread pans, so both sides cook evenly?

Saturday, August 30th, 2014
6:25 pm
Thank God for long weekends
Three days without travel — three days to read and clean house and knead bread and not have to be anywhere or think anything unless I choose to? Heaven. This is always the part of the year when I start to crash and don't really have time to yet. The busy season eases just a hair, I start watching the leaves and wondering how much of a fall we're going to have, and the leaves get that light-edged, faintly golden sense of dryness. I got to have lunch with Sanj today, and there are red peppers in my farm share. Life is good. Kass brought up a set of questions recently, and in the spirit of having time to think ...
Here are answersCollapse )
Sunday, December 1st, 2013
10:08 pm
Thanks and sorrows
It has been a hard week, and a quiet week, and a week full of people to hold onto and wood fires from the logs my dad split by hand this summer.

I'm thankful that I'm sitting at home on a Sunday night with time to write to you all. And I'm thankful that I'm feeling well enough to have just eaten a cookie (nothing like a persistent cold to make you realize what you take for granted.) And I'm overwhelmingly thankful to have spent this weekend with family and family friends, two of my oldest friends and their partners and a remarkably eloquent two-year-old who knows about volcanoes ... and for goats to rub on the forehead and horses to eat my parka and fancy chickens to parade around the pot-bellied pig.

I'm thankful to have talked with my sister on the phone on Thursday, and to know that she and her partner were hiking near Carmel with a friend of his, and warm and well-fed and comforted on the holiday.

I'm thankful to have seen my brother last weekend unexpectedly and listened to him playing Greensleeves and Fur Elise on the piano. I'm more thankful than I can tell you to have made it to the farm last weekend, to see Tante, my grandmother by bonds if not by blood, one last time.

I'm thankful beyond words for the kindness of people at work who took over for me on Tuesday, when my parents called to tell me that she was gone.

My editors sent me home early, and told me not even to come in the next day. So I reached the farm early, to comfort my parents and make pumpkin pies with my mother, out of pumpkin puree she had frozen. And on Tuesday night I wrote a column for Tante. As hard as this is, I am thankful too, inexpressibly thankful, that I've had her to love for 35 years.

How do you describe laughter?Collapse )
Wednesday, November 7th, 2012
1:13 am
I'm so relieved, I'm light-headed. I've spent election night in the newsroom ... collecting a holiday calendar for a special section, because we had extra hands on the night desk, and they didn't need me. I've been here since 11 a.m., because the best way to get through today, after voting, seemed to be to come in and chip away at something useful.

But in fact, at the exact moment the newsroom found out Obama had won the election, I was sitting on the first floor, looking through a glass window at the printing press and talking with a friend. Call it a dinner break; I paused to make a quick phone call and make sure my oldest friend, who lives in New York, isn't under water. And I learned the news first from him. When I walked into the newsroom, just as the official word was coming on screen, everyone was quiet.

I think, like me, the whole room was dizzy with relief and snapped tension. So they went quietly on pasting the right headlines into the spaces they had left open, and my intern-turned-man-of-all-work told me about a series of articles he wants to write about local immigration. And I'm still here, and so thankful. Now I can go home and sleep.
Friday, February 10th, 2012
12:54 pm
Thanks, however late
Some of you know this, because I told people delightedly about it at New Years — this story was so good, I had to share it at soon as I read it with whoever I ran into — but I'm very late in posting it here. Since I missed New Year's, here it is for Valentine's Day: Galaxysoup wrote me the loveliest Yuletide story, a Haroun and the Sea of Stories prequel about Mudra the shadow warrior as a child. It's called "Parable," and you don't need to know Haroun to love it.

What if librarians risked their lives?

Thank you!

And thanks, dizzy_fire, for giving me 14th century Pagan Lithuania as a world to play with! I wrote At the Spring.
Friday, January 7th, 2011
8:26 am
Yuletide thanks
I owe a lot of thanks, and I am late in offering it; things have gotten uexpectedly difficult this week, but I have been thinking the thanks I'm now writing since the holidays.

Sandpipersummer, Land of Light
— snow in the darkness, crossroads, lantern light, pastries hot out of the oven — holds all the grit and quiet going-out-into-the-storm and friendship and care that I think of as part of this time of the year. I read it just as I was finishing The Dark Is Rising again, and it has become part of the story for me. Thanks so much.

And [personal profile] nextian, thank you for requesting Deeba Resham and Un Lun Dun fic, and giving me a chance to play with it! I wrote Rasa, in which Deeba meets Haroun from the Sea of Stories in the fading city of Encordoba (and Abd al Rahman, named for the first Caliph of the Umayyads, and Dinah, Amram's missing daughter from Gentlemen of the Road, and a large, furry, damp and obstinate Quorum...)

Best of the new year to you all!
Monday, November 22nd, 2010
1:53 pm
Dear Yulewriter, continued
Thank you!

I've already written you to shake hands and turn sommersaults and say how glad I am that we're in this together, hundreds of us trekking into the corners of stories. Now that assignments have gone out, let me say it again. Thank you for setting off into worlds I also like to walk in.

About the story, write what moves you, and let the people taste and see and get muddy and know who and where they are. This time of year, for me, is about fire on cold nights, coming in tired and sweating after a long trip to see family, rubbing down your donkey before you go in to dinner... about risk and raw weather and stripped-down talk. It can have magic in it.

I hope my requests will give you ground to stand on and ideas to play with. Let me tell you a litte more about each one, if only for the fun of it.

12th CenturyCollapse )

DeborahCollapse )

All the Old OnesCollapse )

19th CenturyCollapse )

Be well!
Thursday, November 18th, 2010
12:24 pm
Dear Yulewriter
Thank you!

The idea of Yuletide continues to warm me, even on a clear, silver-grey November morning when I have a cold. Thank you for playing with my ideas and joining in this garrulous and open-hearted circle with me.

The more time I've spent in Yuletide, the more I'm drawn to stories less often told than I want them to be, parts of the world I want to know more about and characters I want to hear speak. My requests this year touch on some possibly unexpected corners of their fandoms.

In my first year of Yuletide, I wrote: "Write anything you're drawn to. I love the spirit of all this dazzling, paper rustling rushing about, and I care mostly that you get a lift from writing it. There's nothing like falling for a story while you're writing it. Beyond that, let people talk to each other, or just breathe alone together. Maybe you know Henlein's definition in Stranger in a Strange Land: "love is that condition wherein the happiness of another is integral to your own." If the people are enough themselves that when they hurt someone they care for, they know it, I'll be glad."

I say so now, too.

But if you are willing to follow me along some of the currents that draw me, I'll be thankful.
I'll talk some about my requests soon. And whatever you do, please, be absorbed and delighted. Fall in head first.

(P.S.: To save confusion, I'm Minyan on LJ and Taabe on DW and in the archive. My LJ has more in it, because I moved to DW more recently.)

Friday, April 2nd, 2010
2:00 pm
My heart's on the page
Kass writes: I challenge you to post something awesome in your LJ or DW.

* When I brought a chair outside to have breakfast on the lawn this morning, I found a tiny purple and yellow primrose in my front flower bed. It's a new generation of primroses from a pot my mom gave me more than a year ago for my birthday. I kept them alive all winter and planted them in the spring, and they bloomed all last summer.

* This weekend is Easter, and I will spend it at the farm with my family and friends who are skilled at scrabble and a barnyard full of kid goats.

* All three of my potential interns have accepted the job if their schools cooperate

* My sister has moved to a new apartment. My parents drove my grandfather's pickup truck through the city yesterday with her bedsprings strapped to the roof. I hear her new place has stained glass in the front door, wooden floors, and no appliances hooked up yet.

* My old boss invited me to dinner on Tuesday, for Seder leftovers and conversation with her partner, who has expert knowledge useful to my book. We shared wine and kugel and tsimmes by candlelight, and they kindly talked local history and let me ask questions.

* Draft 5 is done. As finished and polished as I know how to make it right now. I have no more words. I will, give it time — but not today.

Happy spring!

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010
11:29 pm
All the running you can do ...
At New Years, I was working on chapter 16 in the novel. Six weeks later, I'm finally up to ... chapter 16. The good news is, it's a different chapter 16. Chapters 14 and 15 are both new, and chapters 5 and 6 have expanded — now with heirloom tomatoes!

It feels as though now that I have a framework I can see connections and character movements so obvious I don't know how I've made it this far without them. And I keep running into places where I can't go forward without first going back. Hamlet and Laertes can't have the great big sword fight until they've made it really clear that they hate each other's guts. Or whatever you want to call that tangle of fury and adolescent desperation and grief over Ophelia. And whatever it is, it has to be blaring enough that they're ready to skewer each other right now on this hot, headachey afternoon and smear sticky poison on the blades first.

But once you have that in place, Hamlet and Ophelia can also take a walk in act one and go skinny dipping on the backside of the moat and end up smelling of wild rosemary. They can laugh in each other's arms about the nights when they used to sneak away from their parents on Hamlet's school holidays to drink illiciet 40s in a disused tower that smells of generations of pigeons and start bonfires that nearly set the stones on fire. And on the night his father dies, she can hold him when he's too raw to cry.

It's amazing how many things you can fit into one book. Even before the fan writers get a hold of it. :-)

Friday, November 20th, 2009
9:55 am
Yule thoughts
In response to dhobikikutti, my original prompts looked like this (wiht antecedants clarified in the first one.) If a hypothetical person would like to know anything else, ask and I'll be glad to try to answer.

Tom Stoppard - Indian Ink
Nirad Das has a son, after the play ends. What happens in Nirad's life; how does he feel about his home when he walks the streets alone, or cooks dinner? Who does he love? What does he paint for himself alone? I would love to know more about his life.

Martin Espada - Imagine the Angels of Bread
They're narrative poems, and he reads them with an actor's presence. They are all condensed stories, and they make me realize how little I know. If you followed any of his people off the page, into cold apartments or tropical jungle or memorial grounds or baseball diamonds, where would they go?

Mark Twain - The Diaries of Adam and Eve
Eve caught my heart, and Twain's too, I think. She is so curious and so fearless and so lonely. I could watch her discovering the river delta for years, or wandering through the Old Testament talking with the writers of th song of songs. I wonder how she and Adam really got through to one another.

Frances Hodgson Burnett - The Secret Garden
I have wondered for awhile what Mary Lennox would see if she returned to India after she learned how to see. And then this smmer I found Sylvia Townshend Warner's description of her mother, who grew up in India and came to England as a child -- with vivid memories she could not share, because in England she was too thin and too tan and always cold and not familiar with the English alphabet. And that contrast made me wonder still more. This story has another side, like 'Wide Sargasso Sea.' What grows in an Indian garden? Through any eyes you like, I'd like to feel that earth.
Thursday, November 19th, 2009
8:33 pm
Dear Yulewriter
Owing to work insanity, I'm a few days late in posting this — so here I am saying thank you. My Yule requests are scattered this year, but all I'm really asking is that you write a story you'll have fun with. If it makes you high, that's what Yuletide is for.

I've suggested some worlds I don't know well and would like to visit, and some I know better and have found smaller than I thought ... worth expanding. They have in common a kind of simplicity, bareness, skin shivering in the wind — an awakening curiosity — wonder in the face of grief.

Where I live, this season is candles in early darkness, family traveling long distances to hold each other when we're tired, a time that brings the people who matter close enough to touch. Last November, I went with friends to pick out their family Christmas tree. The kids ran from tree to tree, arguing amiably over the tallest and the roundest. They were getting one early, because their brother was coming back from basic training. Near the end, footsore and windblown, we had walked down to the lowest field in search of frazier fir trees, and a bluebird came skimming over the slumped grass. I'v never seen one before or since. That's the kind of mix I'm thinking of at the back of my mind.

One last thing; looking over my requests, I saw that my pronouns in the first are ambiguous. I meant to ask about Nirad Das, but write what turns you on. If you're glad, I will be.
Thank you and happy Thanksgiving!
Thursday, October 1st, 2009
7:53 pm
Skipped a season...
Hey guys, long time no see. Summer is receding; my magazine will settle into winter quarters in another week, and I'm sitting here, not at my office, with music playing and the heat lightly on, about to step into chapter one of draft five of the novel. This revision is more of a massage than a hatchet job, I think: filling out the new plot, slowing the pacing in a few places, letting people, here and there, bask.

In the last week, I've taken some time to get out of the house too. On a sunny Thursday, I drove over the mountains listening to The Scarlet Pimpernel and grinning at the first turning sugar maples. It feels so good to be outside — as good as it feels to spend two hours pulling up late season beets and piling them into feed bags with three apprentices at a local farm, while they talk about song books and typewriters whose turn to make dinner.

So a week ago I got to listen to Jonathan Coulton in concert with a pride of friends, and it was magnificent. Listening to a performer live makes me feel awake, a lot like talking comfortably in a field of arugula, but more immediately human. Music opens people, gets past self-consciousness to the place where you can walk straight up to someone and ask how they are and mean it.

On the night, my friends sang the choruses around me and stamped their feet and programmed flames on their iphones — I laughed and I was moved. And I thought afterward, it's funny how many of his songs talk about not reaching people, about something as close as the front door or the next floor up that is out of reach because the singer won't grasp it.

So, because I like arguing with Jonathan Coulton long-distance, I wrote a song in my head as I drove home and filled in the rest in a coffee shop later, before I pulled out my writing notebook. Thank God it's fall.


When no one else needs rescuing,
I like to fly at night.
From here, the hills fit in my hands
and all the city lights.
I'll hit the streets faster than rain
when I hear someone scream,
but when they chose the X-men
I didn't make the team

because I still ache when I land in the dirt
and I remember my name without reading my shirt:
I'll never be a sidekick — obviously —
but on a warm summer evening will you fly with me?

When lightening rods are humming,
I feel alive and whole,
and I want a living body
to expand my soul.
My walls may be stone
but the windows open wide —
why stay in a lab
when you can chase a storm outside?

When I give my heart, it'll come with my head,
and I can make a man without a needle and thread:
I'll never be an Igor — rapturously —
so on a warm summer evening will you fly with me?

When I don't know anyone in the room
I'll offer you a drink.
We'll hang out in the kitchen
blowing bubbles at the sink.
I'll put my feet up on the table
and my wine glass on the floor,
and if you pull the cork
maybe I won't spill when I pour.

So toast our bare feet and let's dance with the band.
I won't take your order, but I'll take your hand:
I'll never be a waiter — gloriously.
On a warm summer evening, will you fly with me?
Thursday, February 12th, 2009
1:09 pm
The oracle speaks
To cheer me up as I consult other experts this morning, getting on with research, I asked the my favorite Magic 8 Ball a few questions...

The itunes Guide to Finding a Literary AgentCollapse )

They're surprisingly coherent, when you think about it...
Thursday, January 29th, 2009
11:03 pm
I was passing by the bookstore this morning where I'd pre-ordered my copies of Spiral Hunt (one for me and one for everyone I promised one to at Christmas :-) and I stopped in just to see if by any chance... and there was a box just come from the publisher.

Yay! Yay! And again Yay!

Also shining points for my local independent bookstore for having the book in stock two days after it came out.

And Yay!
Tuesday, January 27th, 2009
10:09 pm
Once in a lifetime
A good friend has a book out today!

And it's incredible. I've read it. Have you ever read a book and wanted to pull aside everyone you like and say read this, read it soon? I was lucky enough to read this book in draft, and I have been waiting ever since to get copies and pass them out.

Pick it up and take a look. Please.
Saturday, January 17th, 2009
3:41 pm
Inauguration - the act of telling the future
I'm compiling a list of agents I've heard of or who have successfully gotten at least one book into print (meaning the novel I've read that thanks them on the acknowledgement page). So far, about one in five novels mention someone, and I've collected eight names. Now I just need to figure out what to do with 'em. On the upside, my advisor got in touch this week, and I've heard from one reader-of-the-book who didn't say she was terminally confused (yet). I walked on air for a whole day after that.

Meantime... ;-)


Book meme
from caitirin
1. Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
2. Turn to page 56.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post that sentence along with these instructions in your LiveJournal.
5. Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

With my right hand:

Later I found a menu
from the pizza shop
folded in my coat.
— Martin Espada, Imagine the Angels of Bread (which my aunt just gave me for my birthday, because she's that cool.)

With my left hand:

"That's right," said Nanny Ogg. "But only for the right religions, so you better watch your step!"
— Terry Pratchett, Carpe Jugulum.

(The preceding sentence is "It's all right ... as witches we believe in religious toleration...." The recipient is an unhappy evangelical priest who has always had too much intelligence to believe in fundamentalist interpretations and is not sure now just what word he should be spreading — but who will visit an old woman when he hears she is ill, while her neighbors leave alone to be getting on with fighting her own illnesses...)
Thursday, January 15th, 2009
12:23 pm
Handmade meme
Found from caitirin.

The first five people to respond to this post will get something made by me. It will be about or tailored to those five lucky "victims."

This offer does have some restrictions and limitations:
- I make no guarantees that you will like what I make!
- what I create will be just for you.
- it'll be done this year
- you have no clue what it's going to be. It may be a poem or story. I may make something all craft-y like. I may cook you something and mail it to you - though probably only if you live on this side of the globe. Who knows? Not you, that's for sure!
- I reserve the right to do something extremely strange.

The catch? Oh, the catch is that you have to put this in your journal as well, if you expect me to do something for you!

P.S. If I don't have your snail mail, you'll need to send it to me, so drop me an e-mail.
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