Got to my desk at the day job this morning to discover that my reaction post yesterday to recent Elfquest issues got linked to on Elfquest.com! And gosh, there are a lot of you coming in to check out what I had to say. Hi there, fellow fans!
If you’re wondering who the heck I am and what my background in Elfquest might be, I’ve got a long history of being in active EQ fandom. I was one of the administrators (a.k.a. “wizards”) of Two Moons MUSH, an online, real-time, Elfquest-themed RPG. On Two Moons, my primary character was Rillwhisper, chieftess of the Willowholt, and I also have a history of having played both Mender and Rayek there. I’ve still got a very large archive of roleplay logs from the days of Two Moons, and you can find them over on my other site, annathepiper.org, here. Look for the section on this page involving “Two Moons MUSH Logs”, since they’re all broken down by various characters I played and various tribes I participated in.
As a writer, I’ve also frequently posted about how Elfquest has been a huge formative influence on me. If you look at my homepage or the pages for Faerie Blood and Bone Walker, you may well be able to see EQ influences there. This is because EQ has been a huge influence on my concepts of what elves should look like. And when I commissioned the covers for those books from artist Kiri Moth, particularly the cover for Faerie Blood, I told her all about that. In particular, for the Faerie Blood cover, I told her, “Here is a picture of Leetah from Elfquest. Here is a picture of Rayek from Elfquest. I want you to make my character Kendis look like the child these two characters never actually had.”
Please feel free to say hi and tell me about your own history with Elfquest! And I hope you’ll stick around and check out my books!
I’m pleased to report that Dara and I have gotten the web server stabilized again, and after quite a few days of work recovering assorted webpages, I can resume proper posting here. Be on the lookout for several Boosting the Signal posts I was going to share with you that I hadn’t been able to thanks to the server going down.
This whole server recovery effort has been particularly enlightening for me, since we discovered that the probable entry point onto our server was via one of the WordPress blogs we host. So I’ve been learning how to tighten up certain aspects of Apache in general and of WordPress in particular. And I’ve pulled a couple of the blogs we host into a general network with my OWN blogs, so that they share space and I can keep a closer eye on all of them. Plus, I’ve been working on porting the website for LexFA (the Lexington SF and Fantasy Association, a fandom group in Kentucky that Dara and I were in while we lived there) into WordPress. It hadn’t been before, and the site was sorely out of date as a result.
I’m glad though that the bulk of this work is over and I can get back to my usual business. Which means actually getting some writing and editing done! Currently on tap: a copyedit pass through Queen of Souls, which is coming off the queue and is very, VERY likely to be released this summer or fall. When I finish that edit pass, I’ll be swinging back to tightening up the now-complete novella currently called “A Power in the Blood”, AND proceeding with the next novella owed to Kickstarter backers. More bulletins on this as events warrant!
Next week there WILL also be a Le Vent du Nord concert report, because I’m going to go see mes gars in Vancouver again at the Rogue, and it will be awesome.
And right on the heels of that, Dara and I are going to Conflikt! This will be particularly exciting this year as Dara is the official Toastmaster Toastmuppet for the convention, marking her first time as a guest of honor at a con. HUGELY exciting. She’ll be performing, of course. And I’ll be contributing by manning a table for her in the convention’s little dealers’ room. Conflikt is a music convention, but since the Bone Walker soundtrack is related to my books, I’ll have copies of Faerie Blood and Bone Walker to sell along with Dara’s music. So if you’re going to Conflikt, come say hi to me at the table! And look for Dara being in charge of proceedings as only she can. (Be sure to duck if you see her going for the heat ray!)
And then in February I will be going back up to Canada AGAIN, this time for a music workshop. Because I got invited to attend a special small workshop being held by none other than Andre Brunet, fiddler for De Temps Antan, and second place contender for the title of Anna’s Favorite Fiddle Player from Quebec. This will be huge, huge fun. Particularly since I have also been informed that these shenanigans will involve a participants concert for anybody attending the workshop who wants to get up and make musical noises.
Which means: I will actually have a chance break out the guitar and sing something, from my years of experience whipping through the Great Big Sea songs I know. Which gives me reason to actually bring the General with me on this trip, as well as various flutes and whistles.
Which further means: I’d be singing Great Big Sea ditties within earshot of someone who has actually performed with Great Big Sea.
(Because as I’ve often liked to relate, both my love of Great Big Sea and my love of Quebec trad can be traced right back to the very same concert, the first time I saw both GBS and La Bottine Souriante, way back in 2000 at Chateau Ste. Michelle. Andre was in La Bottine at the time, though I didn’t know that then!)
And this really kinda blows my mind a bit. *^_^*;; Singing Great Big Sea ditties in earshot of someone who has actually shared a stage with them is only slightly less scary than singing Great Big Sea ditties within earshot of actual Great Big Sea members.
But am I gonna do it? HELL YEAH. I will in fact be whipping out my very best GBS songs for this occasion. I’m thinking “Jack Hinks” and “Trois Navires de Ble”. Hell, this workshop’s featuring a Francophone fiddler, I feel almost obligated to sing something in French, and my options for “things GBS has recorded in French” are pretty minimal! But “Trois Navires de Ble” IS special to me regardless as the very first thing I learned how to play and sing at the same time, the very first thing I learned how to play on an instrument with strings, and the very first thing I learned to sing in French. :D
The next few weeks are going to ROCK, you guys. I look forward to sharing them with you all!
As y’all know I’m a Mac user. My primary computer is Aroree, a mid-2012 Macbook Pro. Aroree currently has 16 gigs of RAM in it just because, while not officially supported by Apple, RAM was available to let me actually upgrade to that. And I did that upgrade because it got rid of a lot of performance issues I was seeing with Yosemite. (That I actually had to upgrade to 16 gigs to do that was vexing, but well hey.) And now that I’m on El Capitan, it certainly hasn’t done any harm to have that much RAM to play with with that iteration of the OS, either.
With all this RAM to play with, though, I decided to move forward with setting up a new Windows partition to have available for work-related purposes. I don’t normally need to deal with Windows as a private user, but I do need it for work, since I have to test against assorted Windows-based browsers.
And my prior laptop, Winnowill, has gotten too old and creaky to be useful anymore as a workhorse box. Its OS X side is permanently stuck on Lion, since it’s too old to upgrade past there. And while I was able to install Windows 10 on it, it’s still only got 4 gigs of RAM to play with, and that’s not enough to effectively run a VM and have any cycles free to do anything else on the box.
If I were just manually loading browsers, it wouldn’t be as much of a problem. But what I’m actually doing is spending a lot of my time writing Python automation scripts to load browsers for me, way more quickly than I could do it manually, and test the things that need testing. So I need a Windows installation that can sit there and be my automation target, while I run the actual automation from a Linux install. Ideally, I need Windows available while I can do other things on the same box.
Hence, making a new VM on Aroree. I can report with satisfaction that I now have Windows 10 set up as a Bootcamp partition on this machine, doing double duty as a VM using Parallels 11. (I’d considered trying VirtualBox as well, since I’ve been using VirtualBox at work on my Mac mini there, but Parallels is what I’m familiar with at home.) With the VM running in full screen mode, I can switch back and forth between it and the desktop spaces in OS X, and that’s neat.
Within Windows, I’m running Selenium to do the actual automation. I’ve got Chrome and Firefox installed, along with the IE 11 and Edge that came with Windows 10. (There are drivers for IE and one in development for Edge, which’ll be interesting to play with later.) And over on my work laptop, in Linux, I can work on my Python scripts and run them across my home network without having to worry about VPN performance issues. Fun. :)
BUT. Installing Windows 10 on this machine was more annoying than it should have been. Bootcamp was prepared to deal with it, in theory. In actual practice, it wanted me to make a USB installer for Windows 10 which it could then use to run setup. Only it then completely failed to register the USB drive as bootable. A bit of Googling indicated that apparently Bootcamp was expecting that USB drive to be in a USB 2 port. Which I do not have on my Macbook. Its USB ports are USB 3. And Windows 10 wasn’t prepared to talk to those ports prior to installation. AUGH.
Which meant I had to punt to plan B: creating an install DVD from the ISO and using that instead. That actually let me install Windows on the Bootcamp partition. Only I had no networking, because the install DVD didn’t have the actual drivers needed for making Windows talk to Mac hardware. So I had to run the Windows setup a second time, this time off the USB drive, from within Windows. And this time I actually got the drivers I needed to make sure that Windows could talk to our wifi, if I was booted straight into it from Bootcamp.
ETA 11:17am: Am reminded via Twitter that I left out another problem I ran into, at this point. Once I got Bootcamp trying to install drivers within Windows, it hung for no apparent reason while trying to install RealTek audio. Googling for that problem led me to a bunch of other folks on the Apple forums talking about that, and I wound up having to get into the Windows Task Manager to kill the RealTek setup so that the main Bootcamp setup could continue. Once I did that, I was FINALLY able to finish the install.
That took most of the day yesterday. And once THAT was finally accomplished, I was able to install Parallels and get it talking to the Bootcamp partition so that I could run Windows as a VM as well.
Only then I discovered, wait a minute, Windows wasn’t activated. AUGH. Googling about that showed me that apparently that Windows ISO I downloaded–off of Microsoft’s own site, mind you–was not part of the usual activation path they’re expecting. I.e., previous Windows users upgrading already activated copies of Windows.
So I got on the phone to Microsoft’s tech support to try to see what I could do. Which was also more annoying than it should have been. First tech I talked to basically said “whelp you need to buy an activation key” and tried to redirect me to the store. Only I got disconnected, and had to call back and re-explain the problem to a second tech, who then finally connected me to the store. The store person however was not able to answer my question of “okay, so is it accurate that I need to actually buy an activation key?” Because if her answer had been yes, I was going to terminate that conversation and send Dara to the Microsoft employee store to buy us a licensed copy that way.
(Note: I would also have been rather irritated if that had happened, because it would have been disingenuous of Microsoft to provide a free ISO and then expect people to pay for activation keys for it. And by ‘disingenuous’ I mean really fucking annoying.)
To my surprise, however, her answer was “let me connect you with our Windows experts”. So I finally got punted over to a third tech who, after I explained that I had done an install off of microsoft.com’s own ISO and was now having activation problems, asked me for permission to remotely access the machine. When I let him do that, he did a few sanity checks and then finally actually activated it. Which was kind of fun to watch. End result: YAY, fully activated copy of Windows.
Took me all damn day to do it, but at least now it’s done and I can return to working on the actual automation.
Noting all of this for general posterity, and also for any other techie Mac users who might need to do the same thing I’ve just done. Learn from my example, y’all!
One of the oddest little details about my medical history is a childhood injury I had to my left ankle that never healed right, and which left me, throughout my adolescence and into my adulthood, with this weird-looking lump on my ankle. I no longer have a clear memory of when exactly I injured it, date-wise. But I do still have a memory of a bad fall about six blocks away from my house, on one of those long walks when I was heading either to the little convenience store where I liked to get candy when I was a kid, or to the shopping center that required me to cross Preston Highway. (I did a lot of walking as a kid, yeah. Which contributes a lot to why I’m used to doing it as an adult.)
That fall, as I recall, either badly sprained my ankle or maybe even broke it. I had to limp home. And since my family was poor, we couldn’t really afford to get it properly treated. So it healed up weird and has had this lump on it ever since. I have a band picture of me holding a flute from sixth grade, and the ankle bump was showing in that. And that’s been why I’ve always been a little self-conscious about wearing sandals and pantyhose, because it makes my weird-looking ankle really obvious. This has been the main reason as well that I wear hiking boots, aside from how I do a lot of walking on my daily commutes–high-topped hiking boots give good protection to my ankles.
Over the years I’ve had to explain the ankle to various doctors, chiropractors, and massage therapists. It’s been x-rayed repeatedly, and the overall verdict was that I’d developed a bone spur in there. But it’s never interfered with my walking, so I haven’t bothered to get it seriously treated. It’s never really hurt either, though historically, it has bugged me if it takes a direct impact.
Which brings me to why I bring all this up in the first place. At Thanksgiving this year, I happened to slip on the floor heading into the kitchen, since there was a slick spot right in front of the oven. I let out quite the yell when I hit the floor, startling our various guests–particularly when it became apparent that I had a nasty bruise right on the bump on my ankle. And I had to explain to said guests that actually, the lump had already been there. I wasn’t as badly injured as I looked.
The bruise faded away after a few days. And in general it didn’t even hurt much at any point–again because of those hiking boots I wear providing the ankle good support and protection when I’m out about my daily business.
But here’s the thing. I’ve noticed in the last couple of days that the lump has been shrinking. Significantly. It’s not entirely gone, but the shape of my ankle has distinctly changed. I can also feel much smaller bumps in the greater bump, which I don’t recall having had there before.
In other words, an injury I’ve had since childhood has shown some signs of actually maybe finally healing. This is weirding me right out, though in a good way. And it hasn’t been hurting either, though I can feel periodic weird pulses in there–something akin to how I felt nerve pulses when my hand was healing, the summer when I broke my arm.
I’m not expecting the bump to go away, though it’d be really neat if it did. It’d be nice to have symmetrical ankles for once. In the meantime though it’s kind of a neat mystery, trying to figure out exactly what’s happening. I’ve been wondering whether the bone spur in there happened to take enough of a hit that it broke up some. Dara is wondering whether the new medication I started taking in September, Singulair, is contributing to reducing lifelong inflammation in the surrounding tissue.
(I got put on the Singulair to reduce some of the chronic rhinitus problems I’ve been having, and it’s been helping with that considerably. But it’s also been addressing various other dermagraphia-type problems I seem to have, so I apparently have issues with inflammation all over the place? So it wouldn’t be entirely out of left field if the Singulair’s having an effect on the ankle, too.)
Theory has it that it’s a good idea to have an Amazon Author Page. So since I write under two different names, I have two different Amazon Author Pages! I went ahead and claimed “Angela Highland” as my pen name, which necessitated the following chain of communication:
Me to Amazon: Hey Amazon, I’m Angela Highland too!
Amazon to Me: Okay, we’ll have to clear this with your publisher.
Amazon to Carina: Hey, is this her?
Carina to Me: Amazon pinged us, is this your email address?
Me to Carina: Yep, that’s me!
Carina to Amazon: Yep, that’s her!
Amazon to Me: Fabulous. Here, have an Author page.
There’s my original Author Page for Angela Korra’ti, and the new one for Angela Highland. Those are both easy ways to look up my work if you want to buy any title for the Kindle, or the audio edition of Valor of the Healer. Feel free to bookmark these for your own reference, or if you know Kindle people who might like my stuff, point ’em at the links, mmkay?
Those of you who follow me on the social networks know this already, but for those of you who missed it: Dara and I bought a new car!
We’ve been planning this for some time, with some scouting expeditions to local dealerships to do test drives and such. We were going to take a little longer and save up a bit more to add to our down payment–but our credit union wound up running a special Autos event this past weekend, which involved a bunch of tasty low interest rates. So we jumped on that this past Friday, and brought home a brand spankin’ new Honda Fit.
It’s silver–or, as the paperwork claims, “Alabaster Silver Metallic”. La-de-la. ;) It’s also a four-door and a hatchback and manual transmission, six speeds, which’ll take a little bit of getting used to after having a five-speed stick in the Accord for so long. We decided to go with the Fit since it’s got VERY impressive cargo space as well as good mileage and Honda’s generally decent track record of reliability.
We were at the Honda dealer for almost all day Friday, and once we got far enough along that we were clear that yeah, this is going to happen, they advised me to warn our credit union that we were about to make a large transaction via our debit card. So I called up BECU and did that thing, which turned out to be the correct thing to do, because they had to temporarily adjust our daily debit transaction limits so we could actually make our down payment. Fun!
And it was very lollertastic to bring home a car that, at least as of when we signed the paperwork, said “9” on the odometer. By the time we got it home it said “10”. Dara took a picture, but was a little sulky that we weren’t able to get a single-digit snap of the odometer in time!
Saturday, we took it to the nearby Park-n-Ride so we could practice getting used to its controls. It’s significantly more maneuverable than the Accord, with a tighter turn radius–it doesn’t quite turn on a dime, but it does turn on a quarter, maybe. You can do a U-turn in three lanes in this thing. And yowza, the controls. Lots of fiddly bits on the dash, including all the various options on the touch screen that let you link up phones to talk to via Bluetooth. We figured out how to get it to talk to both of our phones, although at least for my purposes, this’ll mostly be useful for playing stuff over my playlists. We are NOT likely to use it to try to actually make calls or anything, although the capability for hands-free calls is apparently there. There are controls on the steering wheel to manipulate audio and calls, too, and to activate voice commands as well.
It’s also pretty nifty to have a car with modern safety features, too. Not only the airbags, but also things like the system that helps you out when you’re on a hill by holding the brake for you for a couple of seconds while you’re switching over to the accelerator. VERY handy for driving in Seattle. There’s also a system that kicks in if it senses the car is out of control, and slams on the brakes for you with better force than you can do all by yourself.
This car is complicated enough that I spent a good chunk of yesterday just reading the manual, so that I can have a general idea of everything it can do. Because yeah, all these fiddly bits? Let’s read the manual for once, shall we?
We’ve been asked if we’re going to name this vehicle. Historically Dara and I have not named our cars, although this is really only the fourth one we’ve owned together; we don’t go through cars very quickly at all. That said, we’ve decided it does rather look like a shuttle, particularly since it’s silver. Specifically, a Raptor-class shuttle from Battlestar Galactica. The Raptors don’t have names in the series, but they do have numeric designations. We’ll have to see whether this thing winds up being Raptor 1 or what.
And since it’s shorter than the Accord, we’ll have to get used to different parking clearances in our garage landing bay. Dara’s taken helpful steps to let us be able to measure where we need to stop when coming in for a landing!
So yeah. This is all exciting and a bit nervous-making and HOLY CRAP WE HAVE A NEW CAR. Now that this is a done deal, too, we need to sell the old car too. So if you’re local and think you might be interested in our Accord, go take a look at the Craigslist ad that Dara put up. Dara’s done a lot of work this past weekend to get the car cleaned up and ready for handoff, and we’re pretty happy to report that it’s in very good condition for its age. If you know any local-to-us people who might be interested, spread the word, too!
YOU GUYS. Remember this blog post, in which I described how I had this picture in my head of all of my various fandoms over the years having a kitchen party in my head?
My friend Yngvar in Norway, crafty devil that he is, commissioned no less an august personage than Sonny Strait to sketch it for me, as a combination Christmas/birthday present! Sonny Strait, comma, who’s best known to me with his background in Elfquest! Behold!
And that’ll be Battlestar Galactica, Doctor Who, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer referenced in this sketch for my TV fandoms, as well as Great Big Sea and Elvis being the most obvious musical fandoms–but with the baby!me babbling in French being a callout to my Quebec trad fandom, not to mention my rampageous affection for learning French in general. :D I particularly like how baby!me looks a lot like the pic of baby!me I’ve posted before! Somebody was clearly given a reference source!
All hail Yngvar and Sonny Strait for making this happen! Thank you, gentlemen!
I’ve been bitching about this on the social networks, so a lot of you know this already–but here’s a post on the general theme of It’s Official, Surgically Enforced Early Menopause Sucks. By which I mean, the vicious hot flashes that’ve been swamping me for the last few weeks. My sleep’s been shot to hell, and I’ve been waking up at least three or four times a night.
Which has meant I’ve been pretty much thrashed, physically and mentally. I’ve been just functional enough to keep making it to work, but not much besides that, including getting any decent progress done on the writing or music. It’s very hard to write a book when you have an inner dragon doing this.
So what have I been doing about this? A few things.
One, I’ve been horribly snorky lately as well, so at Dara’s recommendation I’ve been hitting some first-generation antihistamines before going to bed. Specifically, the stuff in Benadryl, diphenhydramine.
Two, at the recommendation of my massage therapist, I’ve been taking an adrenal supplement to get my system to stand down out of crisis mode (due to having to recover from surgery), and decrease the amount of cortisol running through me.
Three, most significantly, reading around on the Internets (and in particular, skimming the forums on hystersisters.com) pointed me to references about how it’s common for Asian women to not have hot flashes nearly so badly, due to high-soy diets. I deemed this as requiring immediate investigation–and discovered, after ordering a tofu dish from the Chinese place near our house, that two nights’ worth of using that dish as dinner tamped down the hot flashes HARD.
I have since been able to replicate this with another tofu dish, and am therefore now deploying an emergency soy surge to my diet for the next few weeks until my scheduled physical with my primary care doc, and my followup with my oncologist as well. We’ll be discussing a proper game plan for dealing with these symptoms, as well as whether dietary changes are a feasible plan long-term.
For now though I’ve got some soymilk for putting on cereal and into my tea, as well as some soy-based yogurt. And I’ve been having miso in the morning AND in the evening. It’s helping. It scales down my inner dragon to this.
Either way, Internets, this is where YOU all come in. Tell me about your favorite tofu recipes! What are interesting things to do to tofu?
Also tell me about your favorite soy-based snacks as well! And thank you all in advance for any pointers!
Some good reading on the Intarwebz today! First up, I bring you today’s Big Idea column over at the Whatever, where Mr. Scalzi brings word of Brad Meltzer’s new children’s books about Amelia Earhart and Abraham Lincoln. Parents of small children, especially daughters, go check this out. Especially if you’re fans of Calvin and Hobbes. The art for the Amelia book looks adorable.
Meanwhile, Jim Hines has put up a good post today going over a writing advice question I hear time and again: i.e., whether you should try to write to the market. I said over there, and I’ll say here too, that even though “don’t try to write to the market” and “be aware of the market” seem contradictory on the surface, for me they’re actually kind of not. You want to be aware of what people who aren’t you are writing, so you aren’t writing in a complete and utter vacuum, and accidentally writing stuff that people lost interest in reading five or ten or even more years ago. Plus, you never know what awesome ideas you may have spark for your next book.
Fellow Carina fantasy author Shawna Thomas is talking up her work over at Eleri Stone’s place, and in particular about coming-of-age fantasy. Go give her a look, ’cause fantasy by Carina is love!
I’ve been following the news posts on TheOneRing.net for a while now, because hi, yeah, Tolkien geek, yo. But this post of theirs made me up and join their message forums for the express purpose of voicing my appreciation to their forums member who wrote some nice fanfic about Dís, the mother of the dwarves Kíli and Fíli, the only female dwarf Tolkien ever named. Looks like Cirashala’s getting her epic on with further fanfic about the character, too, based on what she’s saying in the thread that the news post links to. I approve!
Whoa hey, a sudden flurry of hits from the site transformativeworks.org has alerted me to having gotten linked to right over here! It’s a roundup of reactions to the story I posted about last month, when a Sherlock fanfic writer’s saucy fic got unexpectedly thrust into the faces of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman when interviewer Caitlin Moran asked them to read it out loud.
So um hi, people coming over from transformativeworks.org! Say hi if you see this post. As I said in the post that got linked to, I’m fanfic-friendly, and have been both a reader and a writer of fanfic in my day!
And to the rest of you, if you’re also fanfic-friendly and don’t already know about transformativeworks.org, you might go check ’em out.