Signal Boost of the Week goes to Nisi Shawl, who has not one but two brand-new stories online: Black Betty at Crossed Genres Magazine, and Honorary Earthling in the December edition of Expanded Horizons. If you've never read Nisi's stuff before, do yourself a favor and check her out! Once you've read these stories for free, consider picking up SteamPowered II: More Lesbian Steampunk Stories, in which she has another short story that's an excerpt from Everfair, her upcoming novel, or her Tiptree-award winning collection of short stories, Filter House, which was also named one of the Best Books of 2008 by Publishers Weekly.
Signal Boost of the Week goes to Rachel Hartman, who a while back made a wonderful, Xeric-winning graphic novel called Amy Unbounded, but who is now eagerly awaiting her debut prose novel, Seraphina, which will be released on July 10th, 2012! It's already getting great blurbs, so you don't have to take my word for it, and here's the British Cover to whet your appetite even more. Congratulations, Rachel! Can't wait to hold Seraphina in my hot little hands.
I took a few days off of work and locked myself in the studio to get some long-overdue comics work. I got four pages digitally corrected, ten pages added to the website queue, one page finish-pencilled and inked, seven pages thumbnailed, four and a half pages pencilled. Not too shabby, but there's oh so much left to do. Yikes.
Your books got me through so much. You were one of the most influential writers in my life, right up there with Vonnegut and Bradbury and Dahl. I was obsessive about your writing: I didn't care if your characters changed names between books or your dragons gained or lost ears, and I was way too young to understand the creepy way that F'lar treated Lessa or know that a tent peg can't turn anyone gay. I only knew that I had three of my own imaginary fire lizards and an imaginary green dragon that I rode to fight thread just like Mirrim. I wanted to sing crystal and take a ride in Helva, to have psychic powers, to leave behind my claustrophobic home planet and live with dinosaurs or giant cat people. I owned all the spinoff books. I took painting lessons with Robin Wood, and stole jealous looks at her originals of Moreta and Leri, with their gorgeous sparkling jewel-toned oils.
You wrote me back. I was thirteen, and wrote to you with the earnest heart of a lost middleschooler, and that same heart nearly exploded when I got your handwritten postcard in my rural mailbox, five thousand miles away from Dragonhold-Underhill in County Wicklow. I vowed that I would always write my own fans back, if I ever got them, and I've tried, as best I could. You made me want to be a writer more than any other author.
Thank you, Anne, for everything. Especially Menolly.
Who tries, does.
Who wills, can.
Who loves, lives.
Signal Boost of the Week goes to The Metropolitan Opera, for their Live-in-HD broadcasts. I'd never seen an opera before (unless you count the light opera that is Gilbert and Sullivan!) so it was a real treat to finally get to see a performance of Don Giovanni. I don't know if I'm ready for the Ring Cycle just yet, but the presentation was excellent, so I'm looking forward to trying more in the future. If you're interested, you can check out the participating theatres in the US and Canada.
Signal Boost of the Week goes to Alex de Campi & Jimmy Broxton, who are trying to Kickstart Ashes, the sequel to the Eisner-nominated book Smoke. Give the video pitch a look -- They're trying some rather innovative stuff with both the medium itself and how they'll be sending it out to participants.
So I kinda went berserk for Hallowe'en this year. It was a lot of fun. I got to live out a lifelong dream and go as Éowyn, Shieldmaiden of Rohan.
I took these photos this Saturday at the Nature center:
Today, at the company Halloween party (yes, I wore 25 pounds of real steel chainmail, along with a mix of real leather, pleather, and cardboard armor for a full twelve hours at the office) I killed the Witch King. There was a soundtrack. And a smoke machine. I love my job.
And then me and the Witch King made up over drinks.
And then I went out and found something I'd always been searching for:
Went skating on Sunday, to try out my new outdoor wheels. Twenty feet from the parking lot, I wiped out on the pavement, took all the skin off my knee. Two little boys on bikes rode by and audibly gasped at the blood. The older one said, "Man, if that were me, I'd DEFINITELY be crying." Jumped right up, looked at them and said, "You gotta be brave and just keep skating!" And then went and got my kneepads like a smart person.
Also: Dang, you guys, skating for distance in quads is *nothing* like skating in rollerblades. Also also: Ow, my thighs.
And that's the end of the Napoleon scene. These pages were some real fun to draw! I also went back and added a few more notes to the earlier pages, so if you were confused by some of the banter between Napoleon and Maelzel, those might help clear it up a bit. There've also been recent updates to the cast and Historical Reference pages.
Signal Boost of the Week goes to my old college buddy Mike Zawacki, whose new movie The Wars of Other Men is really starting to gain speed prior to its release. Last week they released a trailer to critical praisearound the web. Mike's been working on this movie for years now, pulling shoots together with no budget and an all-volunteer cast and crew -- and the results are nothing short of amazing. They're finishing up the last few special effects shots now, and if you want to follow the progress up until the release date, you can friend them on Facebook. I'm so excited about this movie I can hardly stand it.
On Sunday, Paul took the dog to the park across the street, and noticed a huge patch of mushrooms that had sprung up overnight. He thought they looked like an edible kind, so he called me over. I was 95% sure I was looking at shaggy manes, but being that I really like my liver and want to keep it in good working order, I hesitated until I could check them with a practiced mushroom hunter.
Unfortunately, shaggymanes have about a one-day window in which you can pick them, and by the time I got a solid confirmation it was three days later. Most of the patch had turned to black goo (hence their other nickname, "Inky caps"), but there were a few brand-new mushrooms that'd popped up in the interim. Those I picked tonight, and fried in butter for dinner. So good! They would make an absolutely outstanding cream-of-mushroom soup, and I know the taste would compliment chicken really well in a casserole. Seriously, they were fantastic; I like the taste better than oysters or hen-of-the-woods. Best of all, now that I know we've got a good patch of them growing, we've got many years of delicious harvests ahead of us.
Coworker J came over tonight and he and Paul and I made pasties. J's a Yooper by birth, and was lamenting the lack of pasties hereabouts, and so last year I told him we'd make them together. The autumn got away from me, and so we had to wait until this year to make the pasties. They were worth the wait! We even made some with "afters": a little crust divider with dessert on the other side -- in our case, apple pie, with some fresh Northern Spy apples -- so as you eat your way through from right to left you get two meals in one crust. So tasty! I highly approve of this innovation.
In the middle of the day, I got the weekly newsletter from the Food CoOp, which announced that they had pawpaws in stock. This made me ridiculously happy: I've heard about, read about, and even sung songs about pawpaws, but had never tried one. We didn't have pawpaw trees on the farm, and thanks to their short shelf life -- a day or two at the most, once they're ripe -- I'd never seen one for sale at a store or farmer's market. I jumped at the chance to finally see what all the fuss was about.
The verdict: like many good things to eat, pawpaws are a lot of work, but the taste is completely worth it. All the descriptors I'd read, "custardy," "like an overripe banana," "tasting of mango or pineapple" were completely accurate. I wasn't prepared for how messy they are, though: soft and sticky and sweet, with plentiful black seeds to navigate, each bigger than a lima bean, each of which clings tenaciously to the sweetest bits of pulp. And that pulp -- oh, my. What an unexpected surprise! You can smell it coming through its skin, rich and sweet and amazing, and it tastes so different from any other fruit that grows around here. I can't imagine why more people don't make more of a fuss over them. These would be fantastic in pudding, or quickbreads. Or jam! If only I had a place to plant pawpaws.