Starveling Cat


Listening to: Castle – Halsey


City dark was nothing like country dark. In the country, night fell gently, an old boy slipping in the back door after sharing a few drinks with the guys. Cities fought back the night with billboards, street lamps, and every window blazing with rebellion against bedtime. Cities were St. George against the dragon with swords of light.

A nice analogy, but the dragons it refers to are not the darkness. Not the literal darkness, anyway.

I lay stretched out on a park bench, one arm hovering over my eyes. Blocking out the light of the nearest lamp post without obscuring my vision completely. A girl had to sleep with both eyes open in this city.

“Please, don’t hurt me…!”

That sounded like the rest of my analogy. The dragons. I let my eyes roll back as if drawn by gravity. The scene settled into my vision like a card slotting into place in a viewfinder. It was even upside-down.

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another false start

I kind of like false starts. They make it easier to see what it is I want to do, even if I didn’t manage it on the first go. In this case, I need a better handle on the character, and quicker establishment. She comes off as whiny because she doesn’t take action right away.

There was nothing quite like a rejuvenating cruise. On the flip side, there was nothing less like it than returning from said cruise to find that one’s apartment building had been paved over.

Iona stumbled back a step. Luckily, she had closed the cab door. Otherwise, she might have fallen right back into the backseat. Her bag thumped against the window.

It had been old and crumbling, like moldy cake. Her apartment had been on the third of five stories. Now all she saw was a flat lot of concrete, and an alien vista that redefined the horizon so that she didn’t recognised the neighborhood for a full ten seconds.

“Are you sure this is the right address, lady?”

The driver’s voice was not without sympathy. But she noticed that the meter was still running. With something like the reverse of a shudder, she regained her composure. “Of course it is,” she said. “I’m meeting someone here.”

She reached into her bag and took out a wad of cash. She’d planned on handing over a nice tip if the driver had offered to help with her suitcase. She’d also planned on a bubble bath and a long nap, but without a tub, bed, or the rooms she had once retained to keep them in, those weren’t going to happen either.

As soon as the cab had disappeared from sight at reckless speed, Iona sat down hard on her suitcase. It wobbled.

“I was only gone for two weeks,” she said aloud. She stomped both feet on the ground, nearly sending herself toppling off the suitcase. “Where’s my stuff?!”

There was no one about to hear her. That had been one of the place’s charms. No one lived in this ramshackle part of town. She looked around at the other, still standing buildings. They were all abandoned or housing offices. Warehouses. No one lived here. Not even her.

She ran both hands through her hair, framing her face in her freckled arms. That rat, the landlord. He’d been trying to buy people out of the place for a year. And then she had been stupid enough to go on vacation.

“Ooh, I’ll kill him…!”

She plucked a single blonde hair and twirled it in between her fingers. It curled and twisted, slowly beginning to singe. Smoke rose and gathered, rising from the strand of hair and collecting far beyond what such small amount of material should have produced.

The smoke formed a circle and spread out in front of her. Iona dropped her hand to her knee and drummed her fingers there.

At last, most of the smoke cleared, leaving only a thin, ringed border. A round, pretty face appeared in it, flushed with recent activity. “Geez, Iona, what do you want?”

Even this truncated sight of her sister set Iona’s lip trembling. “My apartment is gone!”


Aithníonn ciaróg ciaróg eile

Duolingo recently opened up its Irish course. I’ve been waiting for it for a long time, but just one look at the first lesson reminded me that Duolingo is… not a great way to learn a language. It’s a good way to pretend to learn a language, or to supplement real study. I’ve used it for Spanish, and it has not escaped my attention that prior knowledge has protected me the entire way.

BUT! With Irish on the brain, I started writing this thing. It’s kind of funny. Don’t know what I’ll do with it. But it is really, really long, so for the sake of my page, here is a neat illustration and a more tag.


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My shower is a torture device. Never mind that the water either comes out snow or boiling. Or that my backpack is more spacious. It’s the noise.

That only sounds stupid if you don’t know what I mean. But I guess if you knew what I meant, then it would be pointless to even talk about the shower because we both know already.

It isn’t any particular noise. It’s the accumulation. The water lays a mild, deafening foundation, cut through by the rattle of the pipes that whispers of lead lining. The usual white noise of traffic is built up into a menacing echo. Every bang of a neighbor’s door or eagerly shut cupboard becomes the sound of the bathroom door opening.

And in that microscopic space where you’re already dodging hot and cold mini-missiles, your nerves get so raw that the noise becomes a second person in the room.

There, I did it twice. I am afraid of someone walking in on me in the shower.

And isn’t that pathetic?

…I thought that was pretty funny, but the weird first person present tense is kind of precluding.


Why more female characters should be more like Eleret

I forget just how old I was when I first read it, but The Raven Ring was particularly formative for me as a kid. To this day, I prefer characters who do not get in anybody’s way, characters who are multilingual, and competent female characters who do not have something to prove.

A(n awesome) Goodreads reviewer pointed out Eleret (the main character) and her perfectness. Ostensibly, she saw it as a flaw, and I have to amiably disagree. If a reader is a girl who must or wants to resonate with a lead female character, the range is not actually limited. But it does come down to these two major points, a lot of the time.

The first is the one most prevalent in YA (and other) fiction these days: the imperfect girl who is very aware of and/or limited by her flaws. I added the word “very” before aware, because this type is a bit like an anvil anxious to assure you that it is indeed heavy. Personal description in first person is rife with lists of flaws and “Good feature tempered by bad one.”

This may come from authors who are afraid of being perceived as Suethors (or ones recovering from that identity). Heaven knows we can’t have a heroine who is beautiful and knows it. She can’t be slender, she must be skinny–and if she’s slender, then she has to be clumsy or too outspoken, or some other flaw that is getting really boring.

I can’t remember the last time I read about a character who was confident in her looks without it having to be to a purpose. Jennifer in Runaway Mistress is gorgeous, but she has a reason (her looks are her livelihood) and they are also plot-relevant. She also throws them to the wind as soon as survival demands it. She is awesome, but that is besides the point. She’s also over twenty, so YA girls are stuck with the same growing pains over and over and over and over… you get the picture. Women get to vary, but under-twenties have to be of a type?

The heroines rife with flaws are a good thing. Really. But we have so much of it. The Raven Ring is a pretty old book, and it still stands out as having a female protagonist who isn’t awkward and limited or a cynical and lacking. She is wholly positive. Not perfect. Wholly positive. She is attractive, but her looks are unimportant. She is a skilled at fighting, sneaking, tactics, and being polite. She has a good memory and she’s practical. She has strong family ties and respect for her culture and traditions. In fact, her culture is the reason for all of her good traits. Do you know what that implies? It implies that she is not a super special snowflake. She is Cilhar, and Cilhar are these things. She does not stand out among her people, she stands out in a different culture. As anyone would.

For me, it really comes down to this: It is better to inspire confidence or admiration than sympathy or pity.

You can have too much of a good thing, and we have that in our sympathetic, flawed protagonists. Positive heroines like Eleret are pretty rare on the ground. Maybe it’s just because it’s taken my until 23:32 to get to post this, but the only other ones I can think of came from Tamora Pierce. (i’m thinking Alanna and Daine) Those books are pretty old. I read them first about fifteen years ago, and I doubt they were new then.


Another month at camp!

It’s not completely official yet, since I forgot my password and don’t want to deal with login stuff yet, but I’m doing the July Camp NaNo. I have an idea, and I even made a mock cover. Which I usually like doing, but this time it was hard, since I need a new Wacom tablet and I have no graphics software on this computer. Maybe I’ll make those a reward if I do well.


Imogene is a cute cloud cuckoo-lander who does not have a fandom following. She lives with her dad and the cat. The cat has no name, because Imogene believes that there is no point in naming a cat. Neither she nor her thoughts are terribly welcome with her peers. In fact, they get her into a fight with one of them. Imogene weighs ninety pounds soaking wet. But something comes over her, and she wins the fight with a devastating margin. A margin that makes everyone think she started the fight.

Imogene isn’t from around here. And now that she’s coming into her power, she has to go back and learn how to handle them.



I would have written more, but Owen woke up.


Free-Writing Voice practise

My room was the smallest one in the whole house. Which is saying something, since the house itself was frickin’ tiny. Technically, there was less measureable space in the bathroom, but that place was like a T.A.R.D.I.S., so it didn’t count. With all the lotion bottles and makeup I had lost in there, it had to be at least the size of the living room.

Nothing ever got lost in my room. Just like nothing can get lost in a matchbox. This was why I should have kept my backpack in my room. There was a desk squeezed in there, gathering laundry and dust. I could have done my homework there. Theoretically. But noooo, I’d just had to retreat to a place where I wouldn’t get my elbows in my own eyes.

And yet, I had searched the rest of the house top to bottom. Those places I was allowed in. Not even desperation would send me into my brother’s gross hole of a room.

That left me with my gross hole of a room. I leaned against the wall and held a hand over my eyes, as if that would improve my eyesight. It would have to give me x-ray vision to help.

“Oh backpack, where are you?” It was Sunday afternoon. I had mere hours to find the dang thing before another dreadful Monday.

My cowering carpet usually peeked in small, coin-sized holes. I unearthed it in great sweeps of my noodly arms as I tore through my miniature jungle. Old workbooks that I should have thrown out but didn’t because of doodles and secret journal entries in the margins, bent photographs, and even half-finished Lego models flew through the air.

“Why do I have so much crap?” I wailed, then stopped mid-distress to set aside a skirt that I had been looking for over the past month. Then I turned back to survey the mess I lived in.

It was much worse than before. I couldn’t even see my bed, let alone my backpack. I gripped my hair in my fists and groaned. “Where is it?” When this agonised cry produced nothing, I tried swaying back and forth, fingers still tangled in my hair. Not quite meditation. Sure, I was a good Jewish girl, but when it came to more New Age-y stuff, I was about as spiritual as a badger.

“Dafna! Get down here and set the table!”

If it had been Mom shouting, I would have hopped the heck to. But it was just dumb Ziva. We were only one year apart. She could tell me what to do when she learned hypnotism and bought a fob watch.

However, while she couldn’t even order around the dog, Ziva did have a voice that could shatter car windows. I gave up my fruitless search and thundered down the stairs.