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Steampunk Jewelry

My super cool ancient friend lisby (ancient in the sense that we have known each other for a mule's age, not in the sense that we are both ancient although we might be that too--happy to be crone-like and wise) has been making jewelry for also a mule's age, and very pretty lovely jewelry it is.

Now she and her jewelry making cohorts have branched out and are making pretty lovely super fantastically cool steampunk jewelry which you can drool over at her etsy shop Big Circle Designs and Steampunk Emporium.

I quoth from her own words, for she has said it better than I can: "Big Circle designs are diverse, encompassing the funky, the tribal, the mystical, the spiritual, the powerful, the serene, and the steampunk. Perfect for both the Venus of Willendorf and Romanadvratrelundar--and everyone in between!"

The pieces are lovely meldings of delicate chains and jewels with bits of the mechanical past. They would be sure to make any member of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen drool. Also, each piece has a very cool name, such as Chrononaut Badge of Meritorius Service; Time Machine Key; and Weeping Angels.

And she is currently offering a discount to LJ members, so if you do decide you can't live without one of her cool pieces make you sure you mention you are from LJ.

Yr. obt. svt.,

Y.S. Wilce


Oh yeah and...

The Science Fiction book club is doing an omnibus edition of FLORA SEGUNDA and FLORA'S DARE. I've seen the preliminary cover-art and it's super cool.

More info as it arrives.


Excuses Excuses

Is it April already? How did that happen? The long long winter is suddenly over, and now, from this side, it don't seem so long. Although, I have to admit that the Captain and I spent six weeks of it in warmer climes (Arizona and Tejas), so we can hardly complain about the winter being so darn long.

And now the little spring buds are budding, and the flowers are flowering, and all will be green again soon.

In other news, once again I am honoured to be on the ballot for the Andre Norton Award, this time for FLORA'S DARE. I guess that's the good thing about publishing a book a year, three years running. If you lose one year, there's always next year. As always, the rest of the ballot is mighty tasty so who knows what my chances are, but at least I ain't up against the JK Rowling juggernaut this time. So there's hope.

Which reminds me, if you haven't read D.M. Cornish's books, you should. LAMPLIGHTER is up for the Norton too, and while I haven't read it, MONSTER BLOOD TATTOO was delicious and contained some of the best world building I've come across in a mule's age. (That's longer than a donkey's age, twice as mean and will wait for years for the chance to kill you.) Also, I'm jealous of the website. It's full of super cool flash, and D.M. Cornish can actually draw so he can do his VERY OWN COVERS. She sighs with jealousy.

In yet other news, I am pleased to say that FLORA'S FURY is finally moving at a steady clip. Now that I've said that no doubt I'll get stymied again, just for spite, but for the moment I am making progress. I had to cut almost 30K words--OUCH--but I have managed to replace almost all of them with better longer and more descriptive words, so it's all copacetic now. I might be over 1/3 of the way done. Woo! 

King Baby continues to hold the entire household in thrall. Only Bothwell is immune to his charms. Bothwell knows full well that *he* is the cutest thing in the house. The Captain is merely an upstart.

But I haven't gotten around to watching the final season of BSG. I think I am afraid.

Yr. obt. svt.,

Y.S. Wilce

Words and War

I am fascinated with words and their origins, and how their meanings can shift over time. I'm currently reading "Sticklers, Sideburns and Bikinis: The Military Origins of Everyday Words and Phrases" by Graeme Donald.

Of course the military origins of words/phrases such as Catch-22, point blank, close quarters, jeep, grenade and, of course, bikini are well-known and obvious.

But what about words like magenta, immolate, magazine, laconic, and random

  • The colour magenta, a brilliant red aniline die, was named after the Siege of Magenta, which occurred in 1859, and in which over 9000 soldiers died.
  • Magazine comes from the Arabic word makhzin: storehouse. The generic term quickly came to more specifically refer to a place where gunpowder was stored. In 1731, a newspaper calling itself The Gentleman's Magazine began to publish, its editor explaining the title with the hope that readers would save the issues as "though in a magazine." The term quickly took upon the alternate meaning of periodical.
  • Immolate comes from a Latin term meaning to consecrate an offering with a sprinkle of meal or cereal prior to burning it. The meaning didn't specifically refer to destruction by fire until the Vietnam War, when newspapers described Buddhist monks' protests as "self-immolation." 
I'll let you look up laconic and random yourself--the book is worth reading in its full. It's a sobering reminder of how deeply war and violence  permeate human interaction and culture, even if we don't always realize it.

Yr. obt. svt.,

Y.S. Wilce




Andre Norton Award...

I second [info]ellen_datlow's disappointment re: the lack of nominations for the Andre Norton Award.

I'm not surprised that membership didn't manage to nominate any YA spec fic., but I am still disappointed. And not just because I had a dog in the fight either. Spec fic is both thriving and respected in Kidlit, and it would have been nice if the SFWA membership had managed to acknowledge that fact, embrace it, even.

I'm sure the Norton judges will pick up the slack, but if the SFWA membership can't be bothered to nominate anything for that category, the votes can hardly be meaningful. And it will be hard for the Andre Norton Award to get much traction, reputation-wise, in the wider world, if it remains such an afterthought to the vast majority of the organization.

Which is too darn bad as it's the only award out there that spotlights the fantasy and science fiction genre.

Yr. obt. svt.,

Y.S. Wilce

Web Design/Blog Design...

Calling all members of the Hive Mind--may I please ask for your help?

I need a new web-designer. My website needs some updating, plus I want to do redo my blog, and my previous web-designer is currently AWOL. I know that many of you have super cool websites/blogs, and if you are willing to share and/or recommend your designer, I would be most grateful.

Yr. obt. svt.,

Y.S. Wilce


Mother's Milk

I'm a bit behind in my newspaper reading, so I only just got to the NYT end of year obituary round-up...and so I only just realized that Edwina Froehlich, one of the founding mothers of La Leche League, just died.

For those not familiar with La Leche League, it is a non-profit organization devoted to supporting breastfeeding. This is important on several levels--firstly, tho' it might seem obvious that "breast is best"...for years formula was considered much safer and nutritious, and breastfeeding an indulgence. It is thanks in part to La Leche League that this attitude has changed and most American women now nurse--or at least attempt to.

Which brings me to secondly: you'd think something so natural (and necessary--kid's gotta eat) as breastfeeding would be easy, but it's not. Both baby and mamma must work at it initially and lots of things can go wrong, making nursing problematic, and causing mamma to eventually give up. La Leche League provides lactation support and guidence and helps mamma and baby get it right.

All this has particular resonance with me right now, because I personally benefited from La Leche League's support last fall, when Captain Jenks made his entrance. I'll spare readers the tedious details, but suffice it to say that even tho' I had taken a class in nursing, read many books, talked to friends, and watched videos, when it came time to put to practice, I utterly failed. My midwife and various nurses helped some, but not enough to get us going. So after three weeks of despair--because not only is breast best, but really, bottles are a HUGE HASSLE and have you read the ingredient list on formula? (it's basically sugar water with fat, vitamins and milk powder added)--I finally called a La Leche League certified lactation consultant.  Fifteen minutes after she walked into my house, the Captain and I were successful at last!

Now, I know that the whole nursing thing can be quite contentious--some women can't (they say) or they have to go back to work, or they give up from pain, or whatever, and it's not my point to go into the debate here. I've heard lots of negative things about La Leche League and their LCs--that they are too stringent and mean, judgemental, etc. but all the LCs I've ever met were kind, generous, helpful, and encouraging. And I couldn't have done it without them.

And all thanks to Mrs. Froehlich, who decided, way back when to ignore the "experts" and become an expert herself. The Captain and I are glad she did!

Yr. obt. svt.,

Y.S. Wilce


Thanks to the Wall Street Journal (of all venues), I have discovered Amanda Palmer, one half of the Dresden Dolls,* who has just struck out on her own with a solo effort. Somehow I had not really noticed the Dresden Dolls before, tho', of course, any band that bills itself as "Brechtian Punk Cabaret" seems exactly up my alley.** So I'm not sure how they remained off my radar for so long. I guess I've been too immersed in sea shanties and the 97th Regimental String Band these last few years.

Anyway, so I've been listening to Madama Palmer's album, Who Killed Amanda Palmer, and enjoying it tremendously. She has a very large range--both in vocal quality, subject matter, and tone.  But I haven't listened much recently to contemporary music, and so I'm really enjoying it. Several of the songs have operatic qualities to them that are quite appealing. There were videos, but they got caught in the Warner's youtube malarky and are no longer available. However, here's a video of her song "What's the Use of Wondering." 

You can see why I like her! Apparently, Madama Palmer's label has not been particularly supportive of her album--something I can quite relate to--so I urge you to check it out. She's also working on a book in conjunction with Neil Gaiman, also called "Who Killed Amanda Palmer" which consists of photographs of Madama Palmer posing as a glamourous corpse.  I love the album. And I wish I had Madama Palmer's fashion sense.

In other news, my lovely and talented agent sent me a box of Rivera pears for the holiday. At first I was slightly skeptical, as pears can be so hard and grainy...but these pears are soft and delicious and I have gobbled my way through almost the entire box already. In fact, I ordered another box.

In other other news, Devilman, Captain Jenks and I just finished watching "The Golden Compass" on telly. I hated hated hated HATED the books (don't get me started!), and while the movie looked stunning, we were underwhelmed at the plot. At least they managed to cut out most of the stuff I hated about the book, so that was a positive.

And it rained here today.

Yr. obt. svt.,

Y.S. Wilce

*: Caution, website NSFW and easily shocked minors

**: Note to self: what happened to my David Bowie recording of BAAL

Goodbye Richard Stark

Alas, Donald E. Westlake has died. I just read the first Parker book, The Hunter, (which was published under the name Richard Stark), over the summer and it was terrific. Hard boiled enough to make egg salad with, but with that wonderful noir style--terse, tense and utterly stripped to the bone. The main character, Parker, is a true anti-hero, tough and unsympathetic, but the people in his sights are so much worse than he is that its easy to cheer him on. Plus, there is something intriguing about such single-mindedness. Parker has been wronged--he's going to set that wrong right and nothing will stop him. There is a bit of a cultural artifact about The Hunter, because it so clearly takes place in the early 1960s, but that context only makes the book more intriguing, I think. It's always interesting to read books that were contemporary when they came out, but today are pretty much historical. There is a lack of artifice in such books that you just don't find in historical novels.

Of course Mr. Westlake wrote many many other mysteries, under his own name and others. He was the kind of writer the market just doesn't support anymore, and he was prolific without being a hack. We should all be so lucky.

Yr. obt. svt.,

Y.S. Wilce

Happy New Year!

So once again it is that time to consider old bad habits and try to discard them for new (good) habits. Resolutions rarely end up lasting much past February, but still, if you don't resolve to do anything then you'll do nothing.

Hence, my resolutions for this year:
  • Get back into the bloggy habit--at least twice a week
  • Learn military time
  • Finish Flora's Fury
  • Write at least two short stories
  • Clean out my closet
  • Go to Sweden to visit my darling friend Lilla My
  • Take my vitamins every day
  • Get my website cleaned up
Not particularly lofty goals, but sometimes it is better to strive small with hopes of achieving than to reach for the stars and end up flaming out. I'm already working on goal number 2, by switching most of my clocks to military time, thus forcing me to work a conversion before I know what time it is.  And this blog post is also a start.

Of such small steps are mighty journeys made.

What about you?

Yr. obt. svt.,

Y. S. Wilce