Posts Tagged ‘draft’

Ready for readers: The Deacon of Dark River

I finished this story tonight. It’s 1800 words of Icelandic ghost story.

It’s in a password protected post, but it’s the usual password. Don’t know what that is? Drop me a line and I’ll tell ya.

And here’s the teaser.

In the lee of the Bægisa farm house, Guðrun watched the wind blowing through the horses’ manes without feeling the harsh cold herself. Faxi had huddled in among them, her gray mane dancing like a shroud on the breeze. All the horses stood with their backs to the wind and Hákon’s horse looked like she belonged here.

Her fiancé took one of her mittened hands in his and squeezed. “I have to go.”

She leaned against him. “Must you really? The sun has barely moved.”

He pulled her close and wrapped his arms around her. His breath was warm in her ear. “If I could stay with you forever, I would, but I need to be back to conduct services tomorrow and I don’t want to ask Faxi to cross Dark River after the sun sets.”

Protected: Scenting the Dark

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Toast Cover

ToastI just got the final art for Charles Stross’s book, Toast, coming out from Wyrm. I’d already done a preliminary layout using the rough draft of the art, so it was easy to drop the final art in place, make a few tweaks and send it over to Neil.

The art is by the talented and very easy to work with Steve Montiglio. I have no understanding of how he works as fast as he does with as much intricate detail. He just delivered the final art weeks before his due date. It makes a girl very happy.

Besides– Giant octopus ships in space! What more could you ask for?

Doggone it all

When I do a bid on a puppet, mechanisms are the most expensive part. They are fiddly things and no matter how many times you’ve built something similar, each puppet is radically different. This dog puppet, which I’m creating ears for, technically has four mechs in it since each ear is capable of two movements. The ears pull back for angry dog, and droop for sad dog.

As I was explaining to someone, I always quadruple the amount of time I think it will take to do a mech because it never goes right the first time. I’ve installed ear mechanisms on masks before. This was a thing I was familiar with. And yet…

I did a rough draft of the ears on Tuesday. On Thursday, I came back to install the final ears, but we weren’t sure where the puppeteer’s hand needed to be for the control. Saturday, I went in at three o’clock to install the triggers. I left at three a.m. Here’s what I did during those twelve hours.

Prepping the headWhile I had installed the ears on the exterior of the head, I wasn’t sure until I went in on Saturday where I would need to run the cables to control them. (Normally, you figure all of this out in advance, but there were some staging issues that needed to be resolved first, in this case.) The cable for the ears needed to move three inches in order to trigger the angry dog pullback. Unfortunately, where we needed to put the trigger, there wasn’t enough room for a lever to move that far. So, I needed to reduce the amount of distance that the cable had to move.

It’s sort of like a reverse block and tackle, because I was willing to increase the amount of resistance, to decrease the distance moved. But to do that, I needed to allow a length of line pass through the skull in a “v.” Another line would attach to that and pull it. So, I needed to cut a slot in the skull. I started by drilling four holes.

The coping saw inserted

I then inserted a coping saw blade into one of the holes to cut out my opening.

The slot cutOnce the slot was cut, I tested the ear. Which resolutely failed to work.

After a bit of cursing, some internet time and a conversation with my dad, who is a very clever man, I realized that I had attached the pull line with a fixed point, and it needed to be a fluid point. Such a silly thing to do. After that, it worked exactly as it was supposed to. Whew.

Cables inside the dog's headSorry this is a blurry photo. All the cables have to come together to a fairly tight point where they run down the length of the dog’s spine. I’m using goldenrod cable (a flexible push-pull cable for model airplanes) to get from the head down to the handle where the trigger will be. That’s the thin yellowish cable, with the brass fittings on it. I have to use cable in a housing, otherwise the movement of the dog’s head would trigger the ears as the distance between the head and the trigger changed. A housing keeps that distance fairly consistent.

Closeup on trigger
For the trigger, I opted to go with a wheel rather than a lever. The cable exits the housing and wraps around the wheel as it rotates. Rather than centering it, I put the pivot point off-center to give the puppeteer some mechanical advantage. We tested it and it worked well. Happiness.

I installed the other mechanism, which was comparatively simple. Again, running it back to a wheel. Suddenly the first mech acquired a lot of friction. I couldn’t figure out where it had come from since the new one didn’t touch it. In desperation, I pulled the second one out, thinking that its mounting might be binding the first one somehow. Nothing. I tried activating the mech from within the head without using the cable. It seemed like it was within normal limits there, which meant that the friction was occurring somewhere along the length back to the trigger. I undid the mounting on the first one, checked it for crimps and reinstalled it. Still, it had that awful friction. It was unworkable. I was baffled.

I pulled the trigger from the other mech completely off the handle and–the first mech got easier again. It was still tight, but it wasn’t unworkable. What we were facing turned out to be a combination of factors. The trigger for second mechanism put the puppeteer’s hand in a weaker position. It also activated a mechanism that naturally had less resistance, so the first mech’s trigger hadn’t actually acquired more friction, but it felt significantly harder compared to the second one. At the same time, the monofilament that I’d used had stretched out. I normally avoid the stuff, but because the dog was so pale I used that instead of the braided dacron (which is black) that I prefer. It was a bad combo all around.

The triggersUnfortunately there wasn’t anywhere else to install a trigger. It was also two o’clock in the morning. Emily had to get on a plane with the puppet later on Sunday, to Ireland. I was tearing my hair out in frustration.

What you see here is a mockup of what I wanted to install. I used the connector on the end of the cable and a ziptie to create a thumbgrip. Elastic held it in place. One slides the thumbgrip back and the ears droop. You can still hold the dog’s handle and operate the trigger for the first mech in a reasonably comfortable position. It is far, far from ideal, but it works.

Here’s the proof.

This should have been a five or six hour job. My quadruple estimate was closer to being accurate. When Emily comes back with the dog, we’ll be able to fix it for the NYC shows in January.

Edging out of the computer woes.

Whew. Already I feel better. I just dropped my computer off with Karl Swan, who not only promised to have it back to me within 48 hours, but also pulled some files off for me right then. Though I’d done a backup on the 27th, I’d also done a significant amount of work between then and when the computer imploded on the 29th.

So, I now have the current draft of my novel, current drafts of the two short stories I had been working on, and the logo design that had just been approved when things went pfffht. Everything else, I have on the backup.

Such relief.

We decided to go with a system wipe and restore. He made me feel like I was not an idiot, which was nice. When I get my computer back, it will be clean and with my documents already loaded on. So, I will not have to continue going crazy trying to fix it.

Novel Progress report

View my progress report for Shades of Milk and Honey. As of this posting I have to write 8,953 words in two days to “win” NaNo. I think I have another 20,000 words after that to finish this draft of the novel.

Gmail error

Gmail has this wonderful feature which shows the first line of an email next to the subject line. This evening I was checking my email and saw something from CICADA (a highly prestigious, professional magazine) which said:

Dear Ms. Kowal: I’m drafting an acceptance letter for “This Little Pig” and w

In a state of excitement I clicked on it to see what came after the “w” but gmail gave me an error message and said it couldn’t perform that function and to try again in a few seconds. I did. It gave me the same error message. By this point I am about ready to gnaw on the keyboard, but still can’t see more than that tantalizing first line. I wait.

I refresh.

I wait some more.

Finally, I realize that there’s a chance that the email went to my Other Hand Productions email address, which forwards to gmail, so I go to that mail box. Behold! There is the email.

Dear Ms. Kowal:

I’m drafting an acceptance letter for “This Little Pig” and want to verify your address. Your ms shows Portland, Oregon, while your SASE has Chattanooga, Tennessee. Which one is your current mailing address?

I’ll look forward to hearing from you!


Deborah Vetter
Executive Editor, CRICKET and CICADA

While this isn’t an actual official acceptance, it’s close enough for me to do all kinds of happy dances. I told her that both addresses forward to Reykjavik.


I can’t believe it.

Cover art for Apex

Apex Digest issue 6The cover art for Apex Digest’s Issue six has just been unveiled. This is the issue which I will be in. Neat.

The artist who’s illustrating my story also sent me a rough draft because he thought I’d be interested. It turns out he’s a fan of the show. Small world or what?

Rob has a job!

Rob has just been hired as the Script Coordinator. Which means that he’ll be making sure that everyone has the latest draft and doing lots of color-coordinated photo-copying. It also means that we get to eat lunch together every day.

Day One of Summer Camp

I teach Stagecraft at this summer camp every year. This year will be challenging because our enrollment is way down. Instead of two classes with fifteen students. I have one class with seven students–no wait, that’s four students. No. Ten students.

I don’t know how many I have because they keep pulling students out to rehearse and then send new ones back. This has never happened before.

Meanwhile, I fought with my computer to get it to send the final drafts of the Lessons Learned project to the printer.