Childish Fantasies

When I was quite young—about seven or eight, say—my mother would take me to church, or as I knew it, The Most Boring Two Hours That Anyone Has Ever Experienced Ever In The History Of The Universe With Extra Boring Sauce.

Needless to say, I was not a fan.

It’d be church for an hour and then Sunday school. Mostly what I gleaned from all this was that A) one should begin faking illness Saturday afternoon at the latest if one had a hope of evading church Sunday morning, B) curling irons suck and C) Sunday school teachers who think they like children had not met eight-year-old me. And also D) attempts to write relevant Christian fiction for children was uniformly awful.

Anyway. That’s all more or less to one side. What I remember is sitting in the sanctuary of the church, usually on the upper level, and staring out across the balcony at the light fixtures and the stained glass. I was allowed to read the Bible to keep from sighing and fidgeting, which meant that I had a better than average grasp of Old Testament prophets for an eight-year-old. (I did not actually like the New Testament. It was dull. Except for Revelations, which was fantastic. Still, the Old Testament was where the action was.)

When I had exhausted the entertainment value of Hezekiah, I would stare at the light fixtures and I would daydream about wild animals overrunning the church.

I remember this very vividly. This was a favorite fantasy of eight-year-old me, as I recall. The doors would burst open—there were two on either side of the altar, where the priest and choir and sundry functionaries would file in*—and I would picture in great detail the doors slamming open and a wave of wild animals pouring in and stampeding through the pews. There’d be cattle and badgers and wild boars and foxes and pretty much every species depicted in the book The Living Forest by Rien Poortvliet, which I loved with a deep and undying passion. Chipmunks with scurry up and down the backs of pews, hares would scramble under people’s feet, and the boars would go stomping and snorting and overturning the various tables and small bits of furniture that had accumulated around the altar.

Because I had a large imagination coupled with very little understanding of human nature, I rarely pictured people screaming or running away. I suppose I thought everyone would sit there, white-faced and silent, while animals tore up the nave and crashed into the ushers—or more likely, the humans were the least important part of this daydream and so were just mentally whisked out of the way. (I suspect I occasionally thought that some of them were being trampled. Meh. Collateral damage. Not important to eight-year-old me..)

At the pinnacle of this particular daydream, a black panther would jump into the light fixtures and leap from one to another until it reached the railing at the edge of the balcony. And then it would speak to me. (Yes, of course it could talk. I was an eight-year-old girl. It was a freakin’ black panther. C’mon, what other option was there?)

I can remember this fantasy quite clearly—it was lovingly drawn on and embellished as the Sundays piled up—and yet I can’t remember what the panther said. I can extrapolate that probably I was supposed to ride off on it to a distant land compiled of equal parts Narnia, Earthsea, Pern, Krynn and the United Federation of Planets*** but I don’t remember any of those bits. Possibly I never got that far. Maybe there would be singing. It was hard to daydream during hymns. Hymns tended to whomp that sort of thing, and you had to at least pretend to look at the book that your mother was holding open, even if the kindest thing you could do for any god is NOT sing.

There was no meaning to any of it—I never worried about where the animals came from, or where they went to, or why they decided to stampede through this particular church. Backstory was nonexistant. The parts I polished in my head were the visceral bits, the way the chandelier would sway when the panther’s paws hit it and the way its fur would change color in the light through the stained glass. Why it existed or where it came from was immaterial. It did not exist until it appeared, it would cease to exist when it left.

This is the problem with writing for children, I think. The things that children actually think about—or at least that I thought about as a kid!—is largely devoid of cause and effect. Things happen because they happen. The world is the way it is because that is the way the world is, unless it’s something else. Everything is taken on faith because there is no way to prove any of it true or false until much later. The narrator has total authority as long as they stay out of the way (and then, like a Sunday school teacher, they may be subjected to the gimlet eye of a small child who suspects that you have no idea what you’re talking about.)

Childhood fantasies are about scenes. They’re like kung fu movies. The point is not what gets you from A to B, it’s that at A is a knife fight on stilts and B is a fight in the marketplace with maximum smashing of vegetables. I remember lovingly polishing scenes in my daydreams, but what happened before or after wasn’t really important, except that it led to the next scene.

I don’t know that there’s any moral to this story. It’s just something I remembered at random the other night while I was trying to fall asleep.

Except perhaps that the good child sitting quietly and politely with an expression of vague interest on their face is quite possibly imagining a herd of animals breaking into the building and trampling innocent bystanders to death. Which is probably an important thing to keep in mind.

ETA:

KEVIN: Long blog post, I see. I’ll have to read it later.

ME: Oh, don’t worry. It’s just about how I used to fantasize about wild animals overrunning the church when I was bored.

KEVIN: ….

ME: Like you never did that!

KEVIN: …ah…um….*pained expression* I…no comment.

ME: No comment like “Yes, of course I did!” or No comment like “No, you freak, nobody else did that”?

KEVIN: No comment like “If I say yes, it’s a lie and it might lead to yet another revelation about your bizarre childhood, and if I say no, you might feel bad.” So no comment.

ME: …fair.

 

*and which I myself would use as part of the eventual Christmas pageant, which was always called “Angels Aware”** and was basically a narrative about angels watching Christmas. I was a singer, because if you were in Sunday school, you didn’t really get other options. We had to stand in the bottom rows of the giant green “Living Christmas Tree” that they built to hold the choir at Christmas. Basically a pair of round green bleachers with lights strung on it.

**I have yet to meet anyone who has GOOD memories of Christmas pageants, although the Mormon tabernacle near us had an elephant at theirs. And camels. We unbent our theological restraint long enough to go see the elephant. It was only on stage for a few seconds and dressed as a member of the Nutcracker Suite ensemble. Yes, that is just as messed up as it sounds.

***I had eclectic tastes in reading material.

Thyroid Excitement #1

So as some of you may recall, a few months ago my mother called up to say “Hey! Hypothyroidism! All the women in your family have it! Get that looked at.”

I got the blood test last week, which may or may not have been the comprehensive panel—I don’t understand all the gory details, but this one measured the level of TSH(?) or whatever the pituitary gland spits out demanding that the body make more thyroid hormones.

Anyway, it was borderline. Given the family history, my doctor shrugged and said “Well, if you’ve got symptoms, we could put you on meds. You’ve been borderline on and off for awhile. We check this every year…yeah, in 2009 you were borderline…2010 was fine…2011 was borderline…”

I explained that my feet were cold, I owned the largest handwarmer collection in North America, and I slept twelve hours a day. She was rather more concerned about whether my hair was falling out, (Iit isn’t. Got more oily, though.) but said “Sure, given the family history, we can put you on the lowest dose and see what happens.”

(And now I am torn between “Yay! Thank you for making it no big deal!” and “This was borderline FOUR YEARS AGO and no one ever mentioned that there were meds? Or even asked me about symptoms? And you’re a generally GREAT doctor! You saved my bacon when I was depressed! How the hell does anyone ever get this crap diagnosed?”)

So I’m now on Synthroid, 50 micrograms. (And again, great doctor, because she had a long thing about generics and how the doses are so damn fiddly with this that if I go on a generic, she needs to titrate it just to make sure the dose is consistent—apparently the FDA allows +/- 20 micrograms in a generic, and with something this small a dose, that’s most of the way to the next dose up. And pharmacies will switch your generics willy-nilly, so if I go on one, it has to be the SAME generic all along.)

So we’ll see what happens. My mother has been singing the praises of this stuff, because she suddenly can get out of bed in the morning without a struggle and weight loss became feasible instead of Sisyphean, so hopefully I will have similar luck.

Me, I figured after I spent all spring moving multiple tons of stone and mulch and gained eight pounds that weight loss was just never going to happen again, but god, I’d kill for more energy. Just in the last few years I’ve been getting more and more tired all the damn time, and while I figured that part of that was the fact that I put out two heavily illustrated books a year, plus sundry other projects, it would be nice not to need a two hour nap to recover from going out for coffee and a trip to the farmers market.¬† I tell myself “Yeah, but you’re really really productive” which is true, but still…imagine what I could accomplish if I could stay away for more than six hours at a go without feeling like I’ve been pounded with hammers! I used to be able to paint rooms on a whim! I wanted to make art even when I didn’t HAVE to! What would that be like?

I’ll keep y’all posted. I’m avoiding reading too much about this because you can scare yourself stupid reading medical crap on the internet, but it does seem that the thyroid more or less rules the body, so maybe I’ll be lucky. They say it takes a minimum of two weeks to notice any effect (more like six to eight for real help) and that you have to be madly consistent when you take it and not put it opposite calcium or vitamins, so I guess I get to wait half an hour for coffee in the morning…

NOTE: This is not the place to comment and tell me how modern medicine will kill me and this is poison and I need to be taking homeopathic bee penis supplements or how you switched to an all-raw-cucumber diet and everything was better. Because there is no world where I will do either of those things, so it would be a shame to waste the effort of typing all that out. I am also not equipped to diagnose anyone with anything and cannot offer medical advice, consult a professional, etc.

And also, if your cousin’s roommate’s uncle’s babysitter went on this stuff and THEN THEIR EYEBALLS EXPLODED AND THEY GAINED NINE HUNDRED POUNDS AND WERE EATEN BY THYROID BUTTERFLIES…err…okay, that might be a good story, but please, keep less fascinating horror stories to a minimum.

(As for why I do these—it’s because other people who are less prone to oversharing sometimes find themselves in these situations too and it’s less scary if you can go “Oh! That’s that thing that one blogger has! And she hasn’t been eaten by thyroid butterflies hardly at all!” Public service and all that. Also, dude, thyroid butterflies.)

Auditioning a Dictator

I wasn’t planning on getting another cat. I really wasn’t. The house does not lack for felines, as everyone knows, and the last thing we need is another one.

And you can’t replace a cat like Ben. You shouldn’t even try.

However.

Since Ben’s passing, there’s been a void. Not an emotional void so much as…well…a power vacuum.

Ben ruled with an iron fist. Without him, the house is like a small, backward country who has lost its dictator. The cats are confused, the second-in-command has taken over and is a bit stressed out by it, and the police are running roughshod over the populace.

(And by “police” I mean the beagle, who is slowly learning that there are no cats who will stand up to him now, and so is getting increasingly likely to chase a cat down the hall or to shove his face in when two cats are having a friendly tussle.)

And then I was at PetSmart, buying dog food, which is located next to the cat adoption center, and I saw him.

Sergioright
Photo by Carol H. from Calvin’s Paws Rescue.

He was looking regal and villainous. His name—I kid you not—was “Prince Sergio.” His description said “I’m very nice, as long as I am in charge. I have to be the dominant cat.” (It repeated in this fashion for about another paragraph.)

I thought “Well….it can’t hurt to ask.”

So after several phone calls with his foster, and a meeting where he proved inquisitive and affectionate…well, there’s a one-eyed Russian in my master bathroom. (His name has already been shortened down to “Sergei” because it’s easier.) “Welcome to the Island of Misfit Toys” muttered Kevin, lugging his carrier up the stairs.

(The one concern is that he’s not terribly fond of dogs. When I asked about this, they explained that cats who are on the bottom row of cages at the pet store get people who think it’s cute to let their dogs lunge at the cages. There is not a hell deep enough, obviously, but while most cats are either frightened or ignore it completely, Sergei would beat on the glass and demand they come into the cage and say that, which frankly seems like a perfectly valid response. His other experience with dogs is that he ignores them unless they attempt to get up in his face, in which case they will be smacked. This was Ben’s opinion as well.)

What we know about him is that he’s 3 years old and was found at a small travel hotel in Virginia. The family who ran the hotel had been feeding him, and he had taken to breaking into the rooms while the maids were cleaning so that he could sleep on the beds.

Obviously we can’t know for sure, but I’d say it’s pretty obvious he was dumped by somebody—Kevin thinks it’s probably because of his eye.

As you can see in the photo, he’s got a bad eye. I’m gonna take him into my vet for a second opinion, but the vet who examined him said that he probably had an infection as a kitten and the eye didn’t develop properly. It’s blind, rather underdeveloped, and recessed, with a film over it, so mostly what you see is a blank pink space.

Because of this, he was practically unadoptable. He’s gorgeous and friendly and got some interest, but apparently small children would burst into tears and so forth. (It’s ugly, I won’t lie, but odds are good we won’t even notice in a week.) He had been in foster care for over a year and they had given up putting him on display at the stores, except that his foster was moving apartments and several of her cats had to get relocated for the duration.

When we came to pick him up, half the staff of the PetSmart came up to find out who was adopting Sergio—long-term cats like that tend to develop fans. They were grabbing people from the back and dragging them up to meet the people who were taking Sergio home, telling me what a great cat he was. His cat bed and stuffed rat were comped by the manager. I heard several anecdotes. “He’s sensitive about his eye,” one told me. “He won’t even look at you if he thinks you’re talking about his eye.” (Oooo…kay….)

The descriptions say he’s part Russian Blue—joking aside, I’m somewhat skeptical, as his good eye is gold and his coat isn’t as short and dense as that sort of breed. He does have the classic lavender paw pads, however, as opposed to gray, so I can’t rule out that there’s a Russian Blue somewhere in his background. Most likely, however, he’s a plain ‘ol American domestic shorthair with a blue coat…but when he’s looking regal, there is a definite “I am the Tsar of All Russias! Bow before me, peasant!” air about him.

He and Angus are currently glaring at one another through the crack in the bathroom door. They’ve had two smack-fests already, and Angus’s body language has changed from “INTERLOPER!” to “I think I’ll go over here for a bit.” While Sergei is not in Ben’s weight class and does not have that worthy’s indomitable “I WILL DESTROY YOU!” tendencies, I rather suspect that he will be in charge of the house before the week is out.

And if all goes well, perhaps things will finally get back to normal in our small nation, and the trains will again run on time.

Charming Stupidities

So I was thinking today about good stupid characters, and it struck me that y’know…there’s just not that many.

Now, I don’t mean characters who do really stupid things, when they are supposed to be perfectly intelligent human beings but they insist on doing Every Single Ill-Advised Thing Ever and you really want to hit them with a brick. If you get the impression that the author thinks their character is smart and they’re just sending them off on a plot that is Fueled By Idiocy, then no, not what I mean.

And I don’t mean stupid villains, because those are a dime a dozen. Why is he evil? ‘Cos he’s dumb. Why is he doing this awful thing? Ignorant malice, no need to look any farther. Why is she awful? Because she’s airheaded and shallow, no need to look any farther.

And again, I don’t mean characters with actual learning disabilities or mental impairments, ala Rain Man—that’s a whole ‘nother kettle of fish.

I mean characters who are…well…dumb. But you like them anyway, or if you hate them, it’s not necessarily because they are Dumb Villains.

(Think Bertie Wooster.)

And y’know…this is a rare, rare thing in a hero. You get Dumb Well-Meaning Sidekicks relatively often, mostly for comic relief, but how often do you get a main character like that?

I’m thinking…err…Freddy from Cotillion. And Bertie. Maybe Number Ten Ox, although he is not so much stupid as ignorant of the wider world and he’s quite aware of it. And, in the book version, Buttercup from Princess Bride.

Buttercup is actually what kicked the whole thought off—-a friend remarked on Twitter that you could pretty much replace Buttercup with the rug from The Big Lebowski, since all she does is tie the room together. There is a certain justice to this, much as I love Princess Bride—Buttercup, in the movie at least, is a woman-shaped MacGuffin.

In the book, however, I’d argue that she’s a viewpoint character for large chunks and she arguably displays the most emotional growth of any of the characters, except maybe Inigo. We get to spend more time with her inner life than we do with Westley’s, for sure. She moves from MacGuffin to character. And this all occurs with the book being pretty clear on the fact that yeah, Buttercup is dumb as a post, but she’s working with what she’s got here.

(I am being sympathetic to make a point, mind you, and there are certainly alternate interpretations that are equally valid.)

So I was thinking about this, and about why we have so few genuinely acknowledged-as-dumb-by-the-author-and-that’s-okay characters.

I think part of it is the audience. We all like to think we’re smart. It can be hard to get people to sympathize with a dumb character. We could wallpaper a battleship with novels where the hero is The Bookish Girl Shunned By Peers. (This is not me slamming the genre—my first novel was about her, there’s two on my hard drive right now, and one of those is already sold. She works because she works and because we never really abandon those chunks of our childhoods.)

How many fantasy novels have a heroine who is mysteriously literate, despite the rarity of the skill, and who has obsessively read every book available to her?

Don’t bother to tally them up past a point—we’re burning daylight here.

Now, how many fantasy novels have a hero or heroine who’s not smart, but who manages through stubbornness, charm, and/or unexpected but plausible flashes of brilliance, to plow through anyway? And you don’t hate them for not being smart?

Hell, forget fantasy novels, novels at all? Media in general?

Think hard. I’ll wait. *grin*

I got as far as Bertie Wooster, Freddy, Number Ten Ox, and a couple of the incarnations of Blackadder where he is Not As Smart As He Thinks He Is. And even Blackadder is a stretch, because often he IS the smartest person in the room. And Invader Zim, which is reaching, and the knights in Monty Python, which is British and Monty Python and so is in a genre kind of by itself.

And the Tick. Oh lord, so very much the Tick.

Luthe, the mysterious wizard in Robin Mckinley’s Damar books, says at one point that he was never the brightest of pupils, he was just stubborn enough to stick it out when everybody else became sheep farmers because being a wizard is a hard and thankless task. He’s still very serious and much more knowledgeable than anyone else, so it’s kind of a wash, though. Radagast? Sure, I can go Radagast.

Now, let’s be clear—this is a seriously fraught issue when you get to heroines, because of the simple reason that women get treated as dumb all the damn time in genre, and it’s not always easy to separate a character who is getting the short end of the misogyny stick from one who took INT as a dump stat. And I expect a lot of us don’t want to write a stupid female character because she is always, always an object of contempt, or we figure people won’t get it, or we have a hard time figuring out how to be dumb and still have agency (which Buttercup, god love her, utterly lacks.) And we’re bristly and prickly about it, and damn it, we have every right to be, because Bertie Wooster is a charmingly useless fellow and a female version would be near universally loathed. Because we have to be twice as competent to be considered half as good, and in some circles, we could be Dr-goddamn-Manhattan and all people would talk about, as New York burned, would be how slutty we were for not wearing pants.

Because everybody hates Sansa Stark. (Maybe she’s more awful in the shows, haven’t watched them. I hated Sansa Stark. Then I just felt sorry for her, and then I stopped reading the books because I get tired of seeing people die.)

Because I am wracking my brain for a female character who isn’t bright (and not because Teh Wimmenz R Dumb) and who still does proper heroic stuff and is still loved, and all I’m getting is Dory the fish. (I’d swear for emphasis here, but I don’t want it to look like I’m slamming Dory, because she’s awesome.)

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think it’s dead easy with a male character either. Georgette Heyer wrote enough Regency novels to fill a Suburban with the seats taken out, and there’s one genuinely delightful stupid hero (plus a couple who merely act dumb occasionally and I want to kick them in the head.) And I will give her credit for a few not terribly bright heroines who are nevertheless not loathsome, but there aren’t many and they tend to be caught up in madcap capers and whatnot.

I begin to suspect that dumb but interesting/loveable/relatable is hard—at least if you’re doing it deliberately.

Maybe it’s next to impossible. It’s a pretty short list up there.

But damnit, now that I have pretty much laid out all the reasons why I can’t write this character, I sort of want to. And I sort of want other people to, but I think you might have to be very very good at it. Because doing it wrong would leave that character flat at best and horribly embarrassing at worst.

(Now, I play a paladin in D&D, and he’s supposed to be dumb and charismatic, but let’s face it, it’s me playing it, so there’s only so much I can do. I suspect he’s not nearly as dumb as he pretends to be. I suspect our druid would disagree strongly with this sentiment.)

And that’s as far as I’ve gotten down this train of thought. But this is the sort of thing I think about while I am eating an enormous breakfast after getting blood drawn.

 

 

 

Poisonous Tripe

Normally I’d just let this go as another case of bad advice on the internet, but then I saw a comment by somebody that said they read it and felt bad.

So, let’s just get this out of the way…

This is a quiz posted on the blog of the Horror Writers of America, purporting to tell you whether or not you are a professional writer or just a “hobbyist.” It has incited some comment among various authors, few of those comments kind.

The author was apparently inspired to write this after the author—I quote—“recently stumbled into a discussion group of people who I thought had called themselves professionals, but their conversations revealed them to be hobbyists. They chatted about health and told jokes and moaned about personal problems‚Ķanything, in other words, but writing careers.”

(One shudders to think what would be revealed if other authors knew that I am on a discussion group that talks about bugs and native plant gardening! Shhh! Don’t tell anyone!)

The quiz has ten questions. I answered nine of them “No” and the other one (number 4) is an “I suppose I’ll say yes in an eat-your-vegetables sort of way.”

Apparently I am a hobbyist. Incidentally, according to the latest statement, book one of Dragonbreath sold 131,000 copies. (I could go on in this vein, but I’d really rather not, because…err…bragging, raised Catholic, will be hit by a bus and deserve it, etc.) I am even, at this brief, trembling moment in time, reasonably confident of achieving my goals, because my goals are the relatively simple ones of “make neat books people like to read and make enough money doing it to live comfortably and then go out in the garden and possibly travel occasionally.”

And also I would kind of like a bulldog after the beagle finally dies of old age. May not achieve that one. I’ve come to terms with it. But I love their smooshy faces and they’re low energy and considered just as stupid as beagles according to the AKC, and I don’t think I can handle another smart dog. The border collie judges me. A lot. A lot more than someone who eats cat poop has a right to judge.

What was I talking about?

Ah, yes.

Anyway, if you read that quiz and thought “Oh god! I have to do this/not do this/never talk to my friends about anything but writing careers/not go on vacations for fun/not live in a nice house/not leave background TV on”—please, don’t.

This is pernicious and poisonous tripe. This serves no purpose but to make people who aren’t grimly self-confident feel bad, and make people who are grimly self-confident feel tired. If you read this and suffered a moment of angst, don’t.

You write, you’re a writer. You get paid to write, you’re a professional writer. If you aren’t a professional writer and you think of yourself as one anyway, the damage to me is surprisingly minimal.

And all I want to know is—do professional accountants get this kind of crap?

 

Small Excitements

So I started poking at the Thing With The Goblins yesterday, and realized a couple of important facts.

I’m proud of it.

People who liked Digger may like it.

It’s a novella at best.

It’s never gonna be middle grade or YA or anything like that, which is the only way that 40+K novella gets to be a normal book.

This makes it about as marketable as ringworm in the usual markets. Novellas are just not a great length to work with.

My agent loves it. She’s tried to sell it a couple of times to all kinds of different places, and there is just plain no home for it (barring that moment when I am so wildly famous that people will fight to publish anything I write, which is likely a fictional boundary.)

So, with her blessing, gonna try to self-publish it.

As I’ve said before, self-publishing is awesome at the stuff that self-publishing is awesome at. A small weird story with a small weird audience strikes me as the sort of thing that it’s likely to be awesome at…and while I grit my teeth and whimper at the work involved in Actually Doing All That Pre-Press Crap Myself…at least at the end of it, I’ll be able to talk more sensibly about the process than I do from the “Well, I had this webcomic…” front.

A few notes, before you ask!

1. No release date as yet. Believe me, you’ll know. *grin*

2. Please hold all “Does this mean we’ll see X now?!” questions until the end. I am thrilled that y’all have stories you want to see finished. That’s enormously gratifying as an author. But I have a very very very good career in trade publishing, and it’s the market I default to. And also I may get to the end of the goblin thing and go “Oh god! No! Never again!” We’ll see how hard it is to do right.

3. No, there will not be a Kickstarter. We just took a lot of money in for the Digger omnibus. I’m not asking anybody for money for anything until every single one of those books gets delivered, and that includes Santa Claus.

4. Probably 2.99, maybe 3.99. It’s a novella, after all.

5. Smashwords and Amazon.

6. It will be under a pseudonym. This is purely because “Ursula Vernon” is now known, to over a hundred thousand kids, as a children’s book author, and there’s a real tendency to just buy anything that comes out and assume it will be children’s book stuff. I’ll start censoring myself just in case, and that’s the road to a crappy book.

Plus it’s no bad thing to have a secondary name out there. It’ll be easy to find out that it’s me, it’ll be all over my various sites, it’s not a JK Rowling thing, but it’ll hopefully be a handy genre separation thing. I’m leaning toward something like “T. Kingfisher” that is so obviously a pseudonym that nobody thinks twice about it. (My buddy Mur suggests “T. Supervolcano.” The T stands for “The.” We may have been drunk.)

7. This will be e-book only. Mucking around with print volumes is more trouble than I personally can bear.

8. It will not be illustrated. I illustrate a LOT of books, and I’ll be honest, the joy is harder and harder to find. Given the chance to not illustrate something, I’m inclined to go “Oh god, yes!”

Anyway! So that’s what’s going on here. I’m excited, with a healthy dose of “Oh god, now I finally have to figure out layouts…”

 

(If anyone has any links to good tutorials on manuscript layout for e-book format, let me know!