Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Canadian Giveaway of Signed EXILE - Today Only!

Someone just sent me this link to the Random House Canada website: They're having a "Reader's Gift" giveaway during November--a different book being given away each day--and TODAY (only) are giving away five signed copies of THE EXILE. (You do have to have a Canadian address to enter.)

Details are

here. Good luck!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Christmas is coming--

And the goose isn't the only thing getting fat. As Younger Daughter said a few minutes ago (with a beatific look on her face), "Chocolate truffles for breakfast, turkey with gravy for lunch, and did you say there's pie left? Do we have any whipped cream, or shall I go get some?"

We haven't even hit the marshmallow-walnut fudge season, yet, let alone tamales, enchiladas, machaca and green chile. (We're traditional; we eat Mexican for Christmas, in honor of our roots. Bar the fudge, which has no ethnic allegiance.) ("Gabaldon" is my own name, btw; my husband's' name is much easier to pronounce, but after spelling "Gabaldon" for twenty-five years, I was attached to it and didn't intend to give it up. Being a Hispanic name, that means that were we speaking Spanish, it would be pronounced


(probably originally had an accent mark over the "don," but that's been lost sometime over the last 500 years in the New World).

Since we are for the most part speaking English here, it's normally pronounced


(still with the long "o" sound at the end, right? Rhymes with stone? Amazing how hard it is for people to wrap their heads around that, no matter how often I tell them. No one in New York City, for instance, can make themselves not say "don" (as in mastodon) at the end. Just can't do it.)

But I digress...

Rather than join in the gluttony (well, rather than join in it right _then_), I drove up to the Rim country yesterday--about 90 miles north of Phoenix, 50 south of Flagstaff. That's where the Pinon (there's a tilde over the first "n" in Pinon, btw, but I haven't figured out how to insert one and am too lazy to go find out)/Juniper woodland begins, and thus the closest place in which to cut greenery for the family Advent wreath.

Beautiful day. Still, warm air--perfect for hot-air balloons, and I saw six of them floating over the Valley, just hanging in the air like slow-moving cherries. I could walk the woods in my shirt-sleeves, even that far north.

Now, one of the things I enjoy about wandering around in the wild is that you never know what you might see. I've come round a small tree and face-to-face with a surprised pronghorn antelope (I was pretty surprised, too), met mule deer and elk--once came upon a fresh elk carcass, sans head, neatly butchered, guts buried, backbone standing white like the keel of an overturned ship--with the hair on the lower legs all fresh and shining and the hooves black and still caked with dirt, as though those legs might spring up and the hooves carry off the ghostly skeleton. Eerie.

Met a porcupine once--but not as closely as the dog who came down the trail and thought that was One Strange Thing that ought to be barked at and closely inspected. Helped the owner pull quills out of the poor dog's nose; I have five of them in a dish on my mantelpiece in Flagstaff.

You also find a lot of broken glass in the woods, because people go a little way off the road to make a fire and drink beer (and stronger stuff). Most of the people I meet in the woods are hikers, occasionally hunters--I try _not_ to go into the woods in hunting season, but what qualifies as "woods" varies, and so does various people's notion of what constitutes hunting season--but by and large, nice folk. I do carry a gun, though, because I'm alone and nobody knows exactly where I am (that being part of the charm of woods-walking). Never needed it, never expect to need, HOPE never to need it--but I do have it (and the concealed-carry permit and sixteen hours of training that goes with it).

Anyway, yesterday I passed a small group of men and boys gathering firewood for sale, waved to them, drove on up a "primitive" road (one that's not maintained, so could be anything from drivable to morass--but the weather was dry), and found a promising looking stretch of land, so pulled off, parked, and went agathering, pruning shears in hand.

And I found toilets.

Three brand-new, pristine, white toilets, crouched under an alligator cypress. One standing (ready for some passing bear, I suppose), two fallen on their sides. And a big mess of heavy-equipment tire marks in the clearing where these were dumped.

Your guess is as good as mine. [g] My own guess would be--given the tire marks--that the toilets were dumped by someone working on a subdivision or building a house in the neighborhood (there were houses within a half-mile). Whether these were stolen toilets, and the dumper planned to come back and retrieve them under cover of darkness, or whether the general contractor suddenly shut down construction and they were dumped in disgust...who knows? Maybe the lady of the house saw them, insisted she'd chosen _green_ toilets, not white ones, and the plumber figured it was easier to dump them than return them to Home Depot.

Anyway, I got my Advent wreath cuttings: Pinon Pine, juniper (with big, blue, aromatic berries), Arizona holly, buckbrush, and saltbush (I'm sure that will prove to be a huge mistake--it has fluffy, airborne seeds, and they'll be _all_ over the house within hours--but it was beautiful, with the seeds shining in the sun), with a handful of tiny Pinon cones for decoration.

And what I started out to tell you--before I got sidetracked by toilets in the woods--was that Christmas is coming--and so is a brand-new, spectacular, completely redesigned website!

The designer finished work on it this week, and as soon as I can put in all the new content (kind of a massive job, but I'm on it), we'll unveil it--with luck, December 1st!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Ooookay....You sure you want to Know, now?

Hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving! We had a wonderful time with family and friends (to say nothing of the pleasant company of a twenty-pound fruit-stuffed, herb-rubbed turkey), after which the football fans sank into a contented stupor on the living-room couch and the dogs and I went off to enjoy a similar state of nirvana on the Taos bed in the lounge. (Dogs presently including Otis the pug and Charlie the corgi, as well as Homer and JJ, the two standard dachshunds. Charlie prefers to sleep -under- the bed, which is a good thing. Eighty pounds of assorted caninery generates a lot of heat.)

Anyway...I said that if nobody guessed the error I mentioned in THE EXILE, I'd tell you tonight, and as of last checking, nobody had. (I must say, y'all must be _terrible_ at those "find six things that are different between these two pictures" kind of puzzles...) But if you _do_ want to know....
Which of Jamie's shoulders is wounded? It's the left one, right? Until Claire starts doctoring it at Castle Leoch, when it's the right one. Then during the fracas in Hall (and after), it's the left one again.

Told ya it was a head-smacker. [g] Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Jamie's Butt Model

Two things:

1. The editor of THE EXILE tells me that the book has been on the NYT Bestseller list for seven weeks so far. This is Very Cool Indeed, and thank you very much!

2. As a secondary thank you [g], here is a link to the original French painting that supplied the model (literally) for page 5. (It took a -lot- of hunting to find the right butt, believe me. I kept sending the illustrator, Hoang, links to Rober Mapplethorpe sites and the like, but Random House's porn filters wouldn't let Betsy, the editor, look at them.)

I would post the image itself, but am really not sure about the copyright of an image of a painting held by a museum--I mean, the museum certainly owns the painting, but not sure about the image. Don't want to infringe inadvertently, though--and the web page has some interesting information about the painting, anyway.

(No, if you want to see Page 5, you'll have to borrow somebody's copy, or sneak into the graphic novels section at Barnes and Noble.)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"Leaf" is out today!

The new anthology, SONGS OF LOVE AND DEATH, is out as of today! It has a number of great stories, by wonderful authors from Neil Gaiman to Carrie Vaughn and Robin Hobb (all enthusiastically recommended)--and it does, of course, have one by me.

This story is titled "A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows," and tells the story of Roger MacKenzie's parents. It also fills in the interesting hole I opened in ECHO, wherein we learn that Jerry MacKenzie probably wasn't shot down in his Spitfire during the War, and there is Much Speculation as to what really did happen to him.

This story will tell you. (Though one rather perceptive--if cynical--commenter observed that while I may have filled in that particular hole, I undoubtedly did it with dirt dug from another one. How well you people know me....[g]). I think you'll enjoy Jerry MacKenzie, though, and his story.

The book is available in both hardcover and Kindle e-book formats, here.

Thanks to all those who've read the story already and written to tell me what you thought!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

St. Simon's Island writers conference

Someone asked for a repost of the information about the Scribbler's Retreat writers conference this weekend, on St. Simon's Island, GA. I haven't been to this conference before (basically, I said I'd go because I've heard about St. Simon's Island and wanted to see it [g], but I'm sure we'll have fun), so can't tell you a lot about it.

Here, though, is the link to the conference website, which has details and schedule.

See some of you there!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Days of the Dead and Ginger Rodents

Hope y’all had a happy All Saints Day! Here in New Mexico, today and tomorrow are Los Dias de los Muertos—the Days of the Dead. Today we celebrated the presence in our lives of those who’ve gone before and await us in heaven. Tomorrow (Nov. 2) is the Feast of All Souls, when we commune with our own beloved dead. May all your own families be with you in love today, no matter on which side of the veil.

And for a change of mood….

Got the following message yesterday from a British (and half-Scottish) friend [g]:

Light the Fiery Cross Diana,
An insult beyond bearing has been flung down at the feet of all things red and hairy!

At the Labour Party's annual Scottish Conference yesterday Harriet Harman MP (Dep. Leader of the ousted Labour Party) declared Scottish MP Danny Alexander a "ginger rodent", adding that while she was all for conservation she didn't want to see one in the Highlands again. And this from the former Equality Minister, who has previously been known for being so politically correct that she more usually goes under the name of Harriet Harperson.

Said rodent, Danny Alexander, came back fighting Tweeting "I am proud to be ginger and rodents do valuable work cleaning up the mess others leave behind."
I know, not exactly pistols at dawn is it?

So on behalf of our beloved gingers, I'm inviting you to lead the call to arms. (I would have asked Allan SD, but typically, where's the Big Yin when ye need him? Likely basting himself on a Madeiran beach, probably resembling a smoky bacon crisp by now if I know Scotsmen in the sun.)

Is it to be borne that the English seek to rubbish Scots Pride once more with impunity ... I think not (although it has to be said that Danny Alexander is more usually likened to Beaker from the Muppets and may therfore prefer this comparison)

Jamie wouldn't stand for it ... Claire would have her guts for garters

Light the Fiery Cross and gather the Clans!
Declare yourselves ...The McDowall's are here!


(Here's a link to the full story should anyone be interested http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-11658228)


Dear Sorcha--

As soon as I get up off the floor, I'll go dig through the woodpile for a couple of suitable sticks. [G] Though as it's Halloween, were I to march down San Antonio Street tonight with a fiery cross, people would likely just applaud and shout "EEEha!", rather than inquiring into the just cause of such an incitement to riot.

As for the Big Yin, he tweeted once to say he'd survived the flight, wasn't so sure about his job--and wouldn't have internet until next week. You're likely right about the beach, though I just went and looked, out of curiosity as to just how warm Madeira _is_ in almost-November. It's 68 degrees F. as of 6 PM today, so probably quite toasty enough for a basking Scot. (It's about that on my back patio in Santa Fe just now at noon; I'm wearing a sweatshirt and calf-high Uggs.)

May I have permission to quote your rallying call to arms on my blog, though? Would hate anyone to miss such eloquence.

Ginger rodents of the world, UNITE!!



And another friend, Ron Wodaski, helpfully supplied this Uncyclopedia page on the subject.