Tag Archives: foolish behavior

A to Z Challenge, Joyce Flavor

(So, when I said in my previous post that, later this week, I would explain the additional rules I would be following for the A to Z Challenge, I had not yet properly grasped that, uh, it’s Thursday. The lateness of the week is pretty severe at this point.)

Because I like making life difficult for myself, I have devised a complex process by which I will determine what I’m going to write about on each day of the challenge. Here’s the concept: each day of the challenge, I will be writing the opening scene of a novel that doesn’t really exist. To pick a topic, the first thing I will do is decide on the word to focus on, one which starts with the letter of the day. I’m going to be using sites like this one to get long list of words, then I’m going to feed those into Wordle, which can winnow the list down to a few words if I want it to. For additional inspiration, I’ll be incorporating random entries from TV Tropes.

This will not be properly random. I will still use my discretion in choosing words and I reserve the right to press the random button more than once before settling on something. But I will list both word and trope at the start of each entry, so you can see what my prompt was.

Oh, did I mention that I only have 24 hours in which to write each entry? One scene, roughly one thousand words, the start of something great. This will be a combination of loose and rigid, panicked and fun. I’ll write the entries the day before they’re due; that way, they’ll be available to read first thing on the day they correspond with.

That’s the plan. On the plus side, there’s no need to worry in advance about any given entry. On the other hand, I’m hoping I don’t accidentally get myself in a corner where I have to write about murderous girlfriends and the word “Xerox.” Wish me luck.

50k and JH in haiku

Yep, JH is now over 50k, halfway through my projected length. That is a little over where I would like it to be, only because the next scene is my midpoint, so I’m running a bit long. That’s okay. I have finally reached that point of zen acceptance of anything I write. It will all get fixed when I edit. So, scene that consists of nothing but dialogue and scene that is 500 words too long, I am unperturbed by you. You cannot defeat me. I am too cool to notice you.

On the NaNoWriMo forums, I’ve started watching the Suck Haiku thread, where we condense our fictional failings into seventeen syllables. I used to write haiku often, if poorly. I have even, when I studied Japanese in college, attempted, if very poorly, to write it in its native language. So, in the NaNoWriMo spirit of doing foolish things before an audience, I present:

Jackrabbit House Haiku

Hanite builds beasties,
morals make her work harder,
now I must as well.

The Jackrabbit House,
a story named for Rivem:
she needs to speak more.

Lonet hates being poor
but loves her city too much;
loyalty can kill.

What we do for love:
Oakshiver will marry up
for fame and parties.

Bear got tamed, brought home,
made a scene and won a war–
feral life was fine.

Ebrit and Tonlit:
love the way it should be done
meets its end too soon.

And finally, a little nonfiction:

Needed a new view:
three scenes written in a barn,
mice offer no help.

Fruits of my labor: Jackrabbit plush

Looking back over my list of posts, I realized that it had been a month (again) between posts. But I have good stuff to show for it! I present the Jackrabbit House prototype plush:

Jackrabbit side view

Rivem, the rabbit portion of the Jackrabbit House, is seen here from the side. She has movable front and back legs and her ears stand up on their own. She is constructed from a gray t-shirt, a cream wool sweater, a bit of pink felt to stiffen her ears, and some embroidery floss for eyes and nose. She is machine- and hand-stitched.

Jackrabbit head-on

Here you can see the details of her face, including the slightly crooked nose and visible machine stitches along the jaw, both of which come from using new techniques and untested materials. Note: wool sweaters stretch in unexpected, not necessarily helpful ways.

This was the first time I tried to create a plush with volume–as opposed to flat pillow plushes–without using the cheats of socks or gloves to create the elusive spheres and tubes. I also created a pattern ahead of time, cut out of old brown paper grocery bags and carefully labeled for future use. This was the only way I could properly work out for myself what pieces would be needed to get a round head, a sense of upper and lower jaws, and a substantial belly. Owning way too many stuffed animals was a great boon, as I have internalized a sense of where seams and extra pieces ought to be.

House front, looks out over rabbit's head

And here is the house itself. It is pictured separately because it is too heavy for Rivem to wear on her back without falling over and my resources for propping her up for photos were limited.

The house ended up so heavy because it is constructed from old cargo pants of a heavy canvas type material, cardboard cutouts to support most of the walls and roof pieces, and fiberfill in large quantities. This is also one of the reasons why I had to revise my ideas on reproducing this plush for sale: my quest for architectural accuracy and clean lines resulted in a plush almost impossible to make. Attaching the overhanging side compartments to the central piece was a nightmare. I had to breakout a curved needle meant for repairing pillows to squeeze between the two pieces and stitch them tight.

The center area is the main living space and includes the kitchen area, with rudimentary plumbing, and workshop. The windows look out over Rivem’s head and the windows open to let her hear instructions on where to go.

House right side, left side includes door

This is the right side of the house; I stupidly forgot to photograph the left side, which shows the door. This room is Hanite’s–the creator of the Jackrabbit House–bedroom. The windows are kept small to cope with the vibrations created when Rivem runs, as larger panes of glass would break more easily.

The door opens to allow a short flight of stairs to be pulled down and pushed up with a hooked tool, though Rivem can likely drop low enough on her belly to make getting into the house unaided possible, if not easy. This area is used for storage of nonperishable foodstuffs and firewood.

House back, looks over rabbit's tail

The back of the house looks out behind Rivem, which lets Hanite see what’s chasing them while Rivem runs helter-skelter from it. The three areas are linked by stairs and together allow for a modest but functional living arrangement.

The illusion of boards was created by machine-stitching straight lines in a lighter thread, using backtacking to create imperfections like knots in the wood. The windows are hand-stitched felt patches, outlined and barred with embroidery floss.

Detail of embroidered vine on back

A close-up of the vine on the back. Leaves are lazy-daisy stitches and flowers are French knots. The embroidery was another difficult process since the base fabric was so heavy. I spent a lot of time stabbing myself in the fingers while trying to jerk the needle through the fabric.

It had been my intention to include ribbon or twine to tie the house onto Rivem, until I stuffed it and stitched the three parts together, at which point I realized it was a) too heavy to make wearing it cute and b) too stiff and crunchy from the cardboard supporting it to make it cuddly. It was, however, pretty awesome to see the finished product, which really does look just like the Jackrabbit House of the story.

I’m in the process of revising the patterns for mass production. I’ve fed the rabbit pattern into the computer, where I retraced all the lines to make them smooth and, where needed, symmetrical. One modification was to make the head and body pieces connected, as my ability to attach separate heads attractively is sadly lacking. The new side and belly pieces, however, are…too big to print. Erk.

I haven’t done anything with the house yet, but the plan is to use long side flaps and a steeply pitched roof to fake the split-level appearance. Cutting down on the size of the house will, hopefully, make it stand on its own without cardboard supports. Finally, the rabbit pattern can, with slight alterations and different sets of legs, be used to produce other creatures, such as the Castle-Beast and the mycopigs that will show up in the story.

Too many projects, not enough magnification

Or, I’m getting too old for this shit. I have been unhappy about my blog theme (lime! tiny text! narrow column! LIME!) and casually poking around at alternatives when I can get my internet connection to cope with all those preview images. (Here I am compelled to add a whiny note about the four hours spent unable to connect to any website with any browser today.) And I have come to the following conclusion: WordPress themes were designed by ten-year-olds with the vision of gods and mighty eagles. I cannot buy text big enough for my eyes, it seems. I should be due for my annual eye exam in a couple of months and I’m curious, as the doctor may tell me that my eyes were secretly replaced with shiny, shiny marbles in the past year. But after much trial and error–mostly error–Small Wonders has a new theme, some new links, and other random housekeeping bits.

Figurehead is officially being moved to the back burner, to simmer for an unspecified amount of time until I can get it to work right. The more I think about it, the more miserable it makes me. It needs to go sit while I figure out, among other things, how to make a FTL drive I like and how to incorporate more animals.

In its place, I’m developing a new novel idea to be written over October and November. (Too many projects, you say? You’re not wrong…) The new novel is called The Jackrabbit House and it’s higher fantasy than I usually write. I am, I think, excited about it. And it, unlike just about everything else I’ve thought up lately, has the requisite high dose of talking animals. I hate to restrict my writing to little boxes of genre or topic, but, uh, I’m really shaping up to be “that talking animal author.” (There is also an emerging theme of “houses” in my work. Overcompensating for my own tiny abode?)

I’ve also still got a bunch of short stories floating around, more or less ready to be written. The top priority on that front is the Oct/Nov SS*BB. I am also–fingers crossed–planning a short story to submit to Holly Lisle’s Rebel Tales (background here) when it starts taking submissions. It is a Jackrabbit House prequel and even if JH ends up being too long to go into Rebel Tales (limit is 90k), it would still be a great way to generate attention for it.

Comic-Con => Zombie!Joyce

Five days, way too many lines, and one lost bracelet (dammit!) later and I’m home from San Diego Comic-Con 2010. Even after twelve hours of sleep last night, I’m still reeling, unsure if I had a good time and why. Friday, the day of suck, saw the lost bracelet (dammit!), a three and one half hour line to get into a room, and the resulting one and a half missed panels. I really, really didn’t like that day.

But on either side of the day of suck, I got to see: the cast of Castle, plus extra Nathan Fillion at another panel; some writers I’ve read and a lot I haven’t but now want to; previews of excellent-looking shows, including Nikita; James Marsters at a table in the exhibit hall; Anthony Stewart Head, who laughs like he’s dying ALL THE TIME, wiping tears from his eyes and giggling; and a panel on zombie fiction that actually makes me want to read it, despite my utter loathing and the not-fun kind of creeping horrors for zombies.

I got books signed by Naomi Novik, both the writer and artist of Leviathan, and a bunch more whom I’ve never read, but who were awesome to listen to on panels. I started reading a book I had never heard of but now LOVE (Blood and Ice, by Robert Masello). I stocked up on comic books. I chatted with vendors about books I like and authors and the whole con experience.

So even though I lost a bracelet (dammit!), got lost–rather a lot really, because my e-nav hates me–around San Diego, stood in so many lines my grandchildren will be having sore knees, and spent the days starving at the con until going out for dinner (oh, how I long for home-cooked food now), I think I had a good time. Whether or not I enjoyed it enough to attend for a third time next year remains a subject of some debate. But I’m pretty sure I’m happy I went this time.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have books to read, swag to sort, and joints to ice.