Who thought this was a good idea?
(Never in my life have I so fervently hoped that a cake was chocolate.)
Or, Aunt Flo help us, this?
"So, when's the party?"
"At the end of the month."
Amy M., Jenna B., & Kim W., URQTs. At least, I like to think that you are. Not in a creepy way, of course, or like I know firsthand because I secretly stalk you or anything...that would just be weird. I mean, look, I'm just trying to give you a friendly compliment, in a completely platonic, non-stalker-esque kind of way, Ok? Ok. As you were.
Computers for Everybody
Willis and Miller
Computers aren’t just for geeks, they are for everybody. The cover art cracks me up as the giant computer (or maybe tiny people) sits outside as a big jungle gym. This cover art looks way older than 1981 as well. (I am also annoyed by the poor processing. Just how many labels did this library need?)
I was in grad school in the late 80s and a personal computer was just starting to be commonplace in offices. Typewriters and keypunch were still the mainstream Anyone still remember how to use a keypunch?
Back in the day, I was a whiz with DOS and I had some mad skills with Lotus123. Ah, the good old days, when I was just so cutting edge…
We’ve added a few more signings for Salt Lake Comic Con, at the Writing Excuses Booth #1611. Come say hi!
Thursday, September 21
Writing Excuses Booth #1611
Puppetry 101: Bringing Inanimate Objects to Life
Friday, September 22
Writing Excuses: SLCC Edition
Shadow Mountain Booth #1807
Creating Characters with Character: A Guide for Creators
Okay, but How?! Turning Ideas Into Novels
Saturday, September 23
Writing Excuses Booth #1611
The Brandon and Dan and Brandon and Mary and Howard Show
Shadow Mountain Booth #1807
Plot and Character and Scene and Setting: A Guide to Story
Submitter: From a large public library that recently weeded the 800s/authorship how to’s. This had circed in the last 5 years, which is surprising considering that these “true confessions” magazines don’t really exist as a phenomenon anymore (though at least one of them is still around, although in a less lurid version: http://www.truerenditionsllc.com)
Here’s a great collection of covers of confessional magazines from their heyday, for those readers who don’t recall the genre:
Holly: This book is basically “how to write click bait” for the 80s.
Imani wanted this cake for her wedding, only with bright lime green flowers instead of pink:
She got this:
And Meredith asked for this design with little pumpkins instead of apples:
... but she got this:
And finally, as a baker herself, Zoey decided to keep her wedding cake design SUPER simple to avoid potential wreckage:
No piping required! Just plain frosted tiers and colored sugar crystals!
Say it with me, now:
What could possibly go wrong?
Oooh, Sherlock, you so bad.
Thanks to Imani R., Meredith R., & Zoey K., who want to know if I seriously just turned this post into a SuperWhoLock love fest. And the answer is yes, YES I DID.
Catherine Schaff-Stump is joining us today with her novel The Vessel of Ra. Here’s the publisher’s description:
While traveling in Venice in 1837, Lucy Klaereon, in order to save her family’s honor and her immortal soul, decides to commit suicide by drowning herself in the Grand Canal. Unfortunately for Lucy, she is rescued. Her rescuers believe they can separate her from the demon Ra, whom she is destined to fight because of an ancient family pact.
What Lucy does not know is that her rescuers have their own agenda. Paolo Borgia, head of a deposed magical family, wants to use Ra for his own purposes. Lucy is given an alternative, to separate herself from her demon and family, which she gladly welcomes. When she finds out the truth about Ra, Lucy’s purpose changes from not only freedom, but to righting an ancient wrong.
Octavia, Lucy’s older sister, is in pursuit. She has been trained since birth to kill Lucy when Lucy loses her battle with Ra. At the ritual to free Ra, the two sisters clash with surprising results. Octavia is possessed by Ra and Lucy is determined to free her sister and keep Ra from reshaping the world in his image.
There is one small problem. Lucy has been murdered. However, she’s not about to let a small detail like that keep her from correcting her mistakes. Lucy will save Octavia, even if it kills her again.
What’s Cath’s favorite bit?
The Klaereon family has haunted me since 2002. Inspired by another author’s work, in search of an explanation for one character’s machinations, a voice in my head told me that he would tell me a story. Tell me a story he did. The Vessel of Ra is the beginning a 90-year ascent from Gothic darkness, spanning four generations.
The Vessel of Ra begins in 1837 Venice, a decaying city that has been buffeted back and forth between the French and the Austrians a couple of times. In this setting, Lucy Klaereon decides she will kill herself to avoid her family’s dark fate. For good and for ill, she is rescued by alchemist Carlo Borgia, and sets about changing her destiny. The odds are against her because she is in a Gothic novel.
Gothic tales are multi-faceted. The Klaereon ancestral home, Mistraldol, has been merged with the Abyss, so you never know what you will find in its rooms. Like the characters in Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, Octavia Klaereon and her father Caius typify the Gothic at its worst—broken people who spiral into their own insecurities and excess. Like Jane Eyre in her titular novel, Lucy Klaereon takes it upon herself to be the salvation of the morally ambiguous. All of these characters, including the settings, have light and dark in them. I loved writing this book, discovering gradations of morality as characters are presented with increasingly complicated elements of the supernatural and increasingly complicated relationships among themselves. All of these people are broken, but they’re doing the best they can.
Because The Vessel of Ra is Gothic, gloom coats this novel like a rainy November day, and yet there are elements of hope and heroism. Drusus Claudian, Octavia’s newlywed husband, shines like a Noblebright hero who got off the plot bus at the wrong novel stop. Carlo Borgia assumes responsibility for his family’s crimes and becomes a man who jury-rigs his way out of magical situation after magical situation with virtually no magic at all. Lucy will stop at nothing to save her sister. The dark curse itself came about for the best of reasons. Can these characters overcome their baser natures, or will their efforts be thwarted by manipulative Egyptian gods, whispering shadows, and the specter of life on the outside of conventional morality? Will the sinister nature of the Gothic win?
For me, the answers to these questions are not clear, even though The Vessel of Ra is finished. I hope you’ll read this book and discuss what you think these answers are with me. Morality is complicated in the landscape of the Gothic.
Catherine Schaff-Stump writes speculative fiction for children and adults, everything from humor to horror. Her young adult Gothic historical fantasy The Vessel of Ra is available from Curiosity Quills. Cath lives and works in Iowa with her husband. During the day, she teaches English to non-native speakers at a local community college. Her most recent fiction has been published by Paper Golem Press, Daydreams Dandelion Press, and in The Mammoth Book of Dieselpunk. Cath is a co-host on the writing and geek-life fan podcast Unreliable Narrators.
The post My Favorite Bit: Catherine Schaff-Stump talks about THE VESSEL OF RA appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal.
Ever wonder what could possibly go wrong with a simple inscription on a basic cake? Well, WONDER NO MORE.
Below I've listed the inscriptions some of my trusty Wreckporters ordered from professional bakeries, followed by the cakes they actually received:
"God Bless Neal"
I hear it's His middle name.
"Welcome Baby Arnold"
The spacing is what really sells it.
"Happy Birthday Mom"
Now that's a cake only a mother named Bob could love.
[Btw, I'm starting to wonder if a baker named Bob is doing these on purpose. And if so, I want to shake Bob's hand.]
"Congrats British Lit"
I hope this starts a trend; I want to see all the ways bakers butcher "Kyrgyzstanian."
"Happy Bandwidth Upgrade Day"
"Band With Upgrade" is the name of my retro Steam Powered Giraffe cover band.
(I realize only about 3 people will get that joke... and I'm ok with that.)
"Grats to Dad"
I like to think this is the baker's revenge on everyone who shortens "congratulations" to "grats." "CONGRATS" IS SHORT ENOUGH, PEOPLE.
"Old Dirty Thirty"
At some point you stop being surprised. Or so I'm told.
"When I'm 64"
That's actually how John says it when he's singing in his "drunk McCartney" voice, so maybe Kit sang her order over the phone. Drunk. While imitating Paul McCartney.
(Don't keep us in suspense, now, Kit: did you?)
Thanks to Colleen C., Suzanne R., Morgan & Eric, Katie D., Ethan D., Leslie C., Becky L., & Kit K. for really phoning it in today. ;)
The Book of Table Tennis – How to Play the Game
Submitter: Recently weeded from a Public Library. An entire black and white book dedicated to how to play table tennis. There are pictures to demonstrate every type of grip, service, return, and defensive move. Simple warm up stretches (including the ever important finger pull and palm press) are also demonstrated by Glenn Cowan and his beautiful long and flowy hair. This book got a laugh from both our youngest librarian, who was born 18 years after publication, and the rest of the staff who remember the 70s well.
Holly: The finger pull! Ha ha ha! Seriously, though, that guy looks like he is seriously in pain (see images below).
Where is the moment we needed the most?
You kick up the leaves and the Volvo is lost...
You tell me your blue skies fade to grey
Your baker still hates you, too, they say
But I don't need no carryin' on!
You fall in the line just to hit a new low
You pretend that you meant to, but everyone knows
You tell me it's hard working here offline
Your coworkers mock you all the time
But I don't need no carryin' on!
So you had a bad day
You're itching downtown,
You sing a sad song just to drown out the sound!
You say you must know,
You tell me don't lie,
Then you work on a smile and you opt for the pie.
You had a bad day!
Now that's a bad day.
Thanks to wreckporters Connie L., Deborah P., Melissa F., Fribby, Monique R., Anony M., & Rachel B. for inspiring a new CW policy: from now on, we want any and all apologies handwritten. ON CAKE.
For Those Who Care
Hamster care book for a public library? Of course we need materials on hamster care, both in youth and adult collections. This particular book is presented because I think the sub title “For Those Who Care” is weird. Question: does balance in the collection mean we also cater to those who don’t care?
The author comments that the popularity of hamsters is because they have a short tail. Moms, evidently, are spooked by rodents with tails. I guess dads are okay with any kind of rodent.
Aside from the age and the weird title, the content looks okay. I am concerned about the cat in the 3rd picture below that seems to be assessing the vulnerabilities in the current hamster housing. Poor hamster doesn’t even know he is probably that cat’s next meal.
Whether you're a kid or just feel like one, nothing beats seeing one of your favorite characters in cake, am I right?
And if you've already seen Guardians of the Galaxy 2, I bet this is one of your new favorites:
(By Tattooed Bakers)
HE IS GROOT!
And just look at all that fabulous detail & airbrushing!
Here's another favorite no one's ready to "let go" just yet:
(By The Hobby Baker, photo by Alison Greenwood)
Olaf! Let's just pretend he's singing our version of his summer song.
(Those waves are fantastic, btw; love how the number 5 is floating off to the side.)
Groot and Olaf may be the new characters in town, but some classics never get old:
(By Sonata Torte)
Winnie-the-Pooh, and the whole gang, too!
I'll admit it: I still love cartoons, and I still really love the Ninja Turtles:
(By You've Been Cupcaked)
Look how cute! And lookit Mikey on his back! D'awww.
This next one is for my fellow writer Sharyn, because "it's so fluffy I'm gonna die!!"
(By The Bunny Baker)
That's Agnes from Despicable Me, and I want her stuffed unicorn.
Ever see a character you grew up with and instantly get the show's theme song stuck in your head?
(By Richards' Cakes)
"Down in Fraggle Rock!"
Time for another favorite, this time from The Lego Movie:
(By April Heather)
Would you believe April is just a hobby baker? She made this for her daughter, so I think I speak for us all when I say, "JEALOUS."
How about an old arcade classic?
(By Sculpted Sweets)
It's Pac-Man, now in 3D! Great design, great colors.
And everyone's favorite Pixar robot:
Wall-E! Look closely; that "dirt" is actually chocolate sprinkles.
And another universally loved 'bot - though I think he prefers "droid":
(By Mira que Tarta)
Like Wall-E, there are a TON of great R2 cakes out there, but I love the extra details here: the themed number 7, the Tatooine landscape, and those bitty yellow wires on R2's "feet."
And finally, from droids to dragons:
(By Richards' Cakes)
This How To Train Your Dragon masterpiece needs a closer look, so here are a few detail shots:
He's even wearing a saddle!
I'm amazed bakers this talented don't also go into the clay figurine business. I'd buy some of these dragons for my desk in a heartbeat!
Hope you enjoyed your Sweets today, everyone! Happy Sunday!
Just when you thought Fridays couldn't get any better, along comes...
Molly S. ordered this lovely ombré design for her wedding cake:
But instead, she got this:
Molly paid $500 for it.
It was still frozen solid in the middle.
And it left a giant puddle on the tablecloth.
Stephanie R. tells us the bride wanted a combo of these two cakes:
So, a blue ombré fade on a smooth tiered cake with a monogram?
ROGER, KILL THAT.
And finally, not a wedding cake, but Michelle tells me they wanted this for Madisyn's birthday:
I guess the baker didn't feel like making all those strands of fondant, though - which would probably be ok, provided the aforementioned baker can pipe even lines of oh who are we kidding.
Thanks to Molly, Stephanie, & Michelle for reminding us maybe it's time for a new trend. I'm thinking... chevrons. Eh? What could go wrong?
Hospital Across The Bridge
We have a romance with a nurse trying to shape up a surgery department. Rosemary, our featured nurse, is appalled at the lack of standards and procedures. The autoclave is broken and sterilization is haphazard at best. (My inner germaphobe was screaming!) Naturally, there is a dynamic with an obnoxious doctor that doesn’t appreciate a bossy nurse talking to him about safe procedures.
However, just like every other romance of the time, Rosemary falls for Nicaise, our obnoxious surgeon. She has even seen him with a girlfriend. Spoiler alert! In the last chapter, Nicaise comes to appreciate Rosemary and stands up with other surgeons to endorse her procedures. Nicaise makes the moves on her and she hesitates because of the girlfriend issue, but come to find out the “girlfriend” is really his sister! So, instead of being a two-timing asshat, he is just an asshat. Ain’t love grand!