October 2006

I have been mollified. S’all good, everybody’s cool, and internet drama is averted for another day.

Apropros of such discussions, did any of you write Watership Down fan fiction when you were, like, a young kid? A friend–who shall remain nameless to protect the innocent–did, I did, and I’m starting to wonder if this is a more widespread shame than I realized.

Bonus points if you ever wrote a Watership Down/Star Trek crossover. No, I won’t tell you how mine went. (Okay, fine, the spunky Vulcan heroine was turned into a rabbit by a freak transporter accident. I WAS SEVEN, PEOPLE!)(So glad I didn’t grow up on the internet…)


Somebody–who shall remain nameless and unlinked because I really hate drama–appears to be writing about Gearworld–or, to be more specific, a travelog of someone descending into a mysterious clockwork labyrinth underground which is called Gearworld.

They leave a comment saying “Ah; I see someone else has stumbled across a Gearworld concept! I love what you do with it. I have to say that I felt slightly guilty in an innocent way (figure that…) when I saw that you too have a travel guide to Gearworld. *sigh* Oh collective unconscious how cruel you can be.”

Then an hour or two later they send a note saying that yes, they were inspired by one of my early paintings, they remember now.

Um. Sure, dude, whatever. I’ll let you say whatever you want to save face, because I’m really not confrontational about this sort of thing, and the cold sweat and whatnot is way worse than anything I’m likely to do to you.

Since I got these in backwards order, I thought it was just another you’ve-inspired-me thing, so I sent my standard boilerplate glad-I-could-inspire-someone kinda note, but after the comment I got weirded out and looked and they’re…err…well, I don’t think it’s suspicious-minded of me to call it Really Really Really Inspired, shall we say. I wish I’d known that before I sent the note. Still, people do thank me for inspiration, and I really am glad to inspire people, so it didn’t set off any warning bells.


I’ve never minded fan art. Fan writing makes me a little twitchy, but even that’s been flexible. I didn’t mind tributes or inspirations–lots of people had used it as a springboard, people have used it as campaign settings, have made nods to its direction on writing, have talked about writing RPGs based on it–and that’s all fine. It’s a helluva cool visual, and cool visuals were what inspired me to make my version–obviously mine’s a product of countless inspirations as well–the Cell and the art of Oscar Chichoni and WWII bunkers and my Mom’s art and everything else. And there’s more than one clockwork labyrinth in art. (I nearly had a geargasm over the one in the Hellboy movie.) And inspiration is where you find it, and there is nothing new under the sun.

And I still surprised myself by getting really rather pissed.

I suspect he’ll abandon it quickly, as is the fate of most art projects the world over and it’s so not worth getting my undies in a knot. It’s a minor thing. I know this. Internet drama is a dime a quadrillion, and I try to stay about a thousand miles from it. (And c’mon, any success would inevitably run into my fan base, and I would fear that with the fear of a thousand gibbering weasels. I have weathered such wars, I wish no truck with them.)

I am quite shocked at how visceral my reaction to this is. It’s not my standard “Ha! Art theft! How cute that you’d try such a thing!” response. My guts actually knotted up. Gearworld, however dormant it lays under the byways of my brain, is obviously still rather shockingly important to me. I got mad. A small screaming hamster ran up and down the roads of my intestines waving its arms and yelling “No! This is mine! This matters to me!”

It wasn’t that it was at all an unjustified feeling, but it certainly startled the hell out of me.

Edit: Have been contacted by intermediary. Hopefully this can be handled in a way that doesn’t involve anybody having to get yelled at or smote or eating any more antacids.

I hate internet drama, I hate it with the force of a thousand burning suns…but as Grandma used to say, “This, too, shall pass.”

Oh, yeah…I’m an artist…should really do the art thing…


A simple piece with rather complicated textures. I bought a dip pen. That thing does awesome stuff with white ink.

James has a habit of going out on the back porch for one last cigarette of the night, which I disapprove of, but he also has a habit of calling me out if anything interesting pops up–flying squirrels, interesting bugs, lovelorn mockingbirds–which I very much appreciate.

Last night he worked late, with the end result that the last cigarette of the night came around 1:30 am.

A few minutes later, he pounded into the house, yelling “Hon! Hon! OWL!”

Few things will get me out of bed at that hour, but that’s one of ’em.

I tore out of bed and found my shoes. As an afterthought, I grabbed a towel off the dryer. Birds are important, clothing less so, but in case any giant bugs were leaping around the porch light, some psychological armor was in order. (Mostly psychological…)

It was in the 40s in my area last night. James and I stood outside, heads cocked, him with his cigarette and me in my towel–and then we heard it, a faint hooting from the direction of the lake.

Ironically, it was yesterday afternoon that I dragged my Peterson’s bird call CDs out of the studio and played one, and with those sorts of coincidences you couldn’t write in a book, I had listened to the owl section. So there were three owls I could have ID’d by call last night, and one of them was the Great Horned Owl.

Once we’d listened for a few minutes–and I pestered James going “Does that sound like “Whooo’s awake? Me toooo!” to you?” I went in and actually played the relevant section of the CD to double check. And there it was, a perfect match. I was right–Great Horned Owl.

So that’s a lifer, and my second owl ever.

(Note for non-birders: So many birds are impossible to spot, but vocal singers, that you can add a bird “sighting” based on IDing the vocalization. Because audio memory is so fallible, however, there are stricter rules than with actually seeing the bird. One can ID a bird based on observed field marks after the fact, but you–or somebody with you–needs to ID the bird call at the time it occurs. I’m so bad with sounds that I generally stick to sightings, but with owls, you’re lucky to get what you can!)

I had a really odd dream last night. It’s stuck with me for most of the day, just because the visuals were so surreal. I remember waking up and thinking “Lord, that was like a Miyazaki film…”

There was a complicated, blurry bit at the beginning, which involved being a shapechanger, but only being able to change into a bull moose. The practical applications of this skill were limited.

When the dream proper started, I was walking beside a stream with my father (who, in the way of dreams, wasn’t quite my father as he exists in the real world) He did something to the stream, and it lifted up, as if the surface of the water were a blanket, and we peeled it back to look at what was underneath.

The stream was full of fish, most notably a huge bone-white pike, which was standing on end, and a giant turtle, bigger than a man. He started harassing the turtle, and I was yelling at him to stop, be careful, for god’s sake, that thing’s beak could crush your head like a melon, and then he reached out and plucked out the turtle’s left eye.*

At some point, we ate the eye. I can’t recall doing it, but I know we did. Things got rather blurry–I recall yelling at my family, including an aunt I don’t actually have, but really didn’t like, and telling my mother for god’s sake, get out and go to Rio and experience Carnivale or something before living with her sister killed her. (The person playing my mother in this dream was nothing like my mother in real life, and I haven’t a clue who the aunt was. Eh, go figure.)

Fast forward–I was living on the street of a bizarre mechanical Venice, and I was being pursued by a very strange villain, who wanted to haul me in for experiments because I had eaten the turtle’s eye. He had a round, balloon like body, with a fur muff and a Russian black fur hat, and he wore black gloves and thick round glasses. His henchman was a craggy metal golem that was chasing me through the markets of this questionable Venetian city.

It was one of those dreams where you can fly, but only if you breathe in a certain way. I acquired two rather strange friends–a boy about my age (I think I was fairly young in this dream) and a tall, lanky person who looked mostly human, but who was also an artificial construction like a golem. The boy could also fly, but fairly sporadically (same as me, since the breathing was pretty tricky. God only knows what I was really doing–snorfling and wheezing into the pillow or something.)

The round balloon man was chasing me–he could also fly, although not well–and he’d taken off his gloves. I knew that if he could touch me with his bare hands, I’d stop being able to fly, and I’d fall to the ground, where his golem would have no trouble catching me.

It was in the middle of a kind of bizarre slow-motion, madly huffing mid-air dogfight that I woke up and went “….whooooaah.”

Really, it was just like a Miyazaki film. Young heroine who can fly, young hero, wise-cracking flesh golem, cartoonish villain, magic with weird and arbitrary rules…generally dreams don’t stick with me for the whole day, but this one was really solid.


*My father loves animals dearly and I cannot imagine he would so molest an innocent chelonian, but y’know, dreams…

Signed copies of Digger 2 will be available for sale October 5th, this Thursday, at 9 AM central. (They were supposed to be up Sunday, but there was a family emergency delaying schtuff.) The books are all signed, at great personal cost to my right hand, and being shipped back as we speak.

Orders’ll be shipped out as quickly as possible, but since there’s a brief delay while the books wing their way north, delivery’ll be a coupla days longer than the usual. (The usual’s pretty speedy, though, so s’not a big deal.)


Got up this morning and found a set of notes in my in-box telling me that two of the three chunks of “Black Dogs” had been removed from Elfwood for profanity in the description.

Well, okay. I have no memory of having profanity in the description–and a distinct memory of the time somebody just ran a spell-check over one version and banned it for containing “rape” when it actually contained “scrape.” (Fear me. I am a serial scrapist!) But hey, I’m the last person to gripe about how galleries are run–it’s hard, thankless, miserable work, and these things happen, and god knows, they’re probably flooded with e-mails from prima donnas screaming “WHY ME?!!?!?” It’s entirely possible I did have profanity there, I swear like a sailor and I don’t hear myself do it.* Que sera, sera, it’s down. I sent a note checking to make sure it wasn’t the “scrape” thing again, but other than that, such is life.

Rather than get five hundred e-mails saying “WHERE’S THE REST!?” I pulled the whole thing off-line. It’s getting published in much better form here soon anyway. Unfortunately, that meant I was then below the gallery limit, so I had to dredge up something to upload–the mandrake girl, in this case–so that the explanation of where the story went and how you could hopefully buy “Black Dogs 1” in a few months time would go up, so that I wouldn’t spend the next few months getting e-mails saying “WHERE IS IT!?”

Eh, minor annoyances. I shall drown my sorrows by heaping more abuses on Sings-to-Trees.

*This is probably not a survival trait in a potential children’s author.

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