What a month! As you may have noticed, I haven’t posted in a while. There are two reasons for that.
The first is that I came down with a ferocious bug. I ran a high fever for a week or so, and then spent the last month coughing like mad. A lot of people in this area got it, and it seems that it takes most somewhere between a month and six weeks to recover.
I’m about finished with it now (I hope) but as you can imagine coughing until you are so short of air that you lose vision and your chest muscles cramp up doesn’t leave a whole lot of energy to do anything that’s not vital.
Since very few people actually read this blog, I’m afraid it fell into the “not vital” category. I’m sorry, if you are one who checks here regularly. Thank you so very much, and I didn’t mean to let you down.
The second reason is that I agreed to teach a series of four Photoshop tutorials at my local quilt shop, Bits ‘n Pieces, during the month of August. Of course, that meant that I needed to plan lessons, and I quickly realized that I needed to give the students a transcript and detailed illustrations with explanatory text and arrows on them. Which took more time than I expected to put together, although I did find an incredible tool to take screenshots on the Mac, called ScreenShot PSD, that lets me arrange all the windows, menus, and cursors however I need them after taking the shot! If you have a Mac, and need screenshots for tutorials, I highly recommend it. It’s even free!
At this point two of the lessons have been given, the third is in the can, and the fourth is written and (mostly) illustrated. Another day or two should take care of finishing it up.
Just in time to set up for The Arcade in Second Life! I knew I’d be short of time this round, so Marianne McCann offered to do textures, and I took her up on it. But I still need to do all the keys, promo, and set-up work, so that should keep me busy the rest of this week, since the first day of setup is less than a week away.
After which, I have Plans.
Which brings me to the stories. As far as I can tell, only a few people are reading them, and no one is interested in supporting them on Patreon. (Except Lauren and Michael. Thanks, you guys!) So my question is, do you want me to keep posting them here? If you do, I’ll be happy to. But it does take time, and seems kind of silly if no one cares. Please let me know in the comments if you want to read them here.
I think that’s everything. With any luck, my life will get back to normal soon!
I just put a new story up on my Patreon page, for those people who subscribe at $5 a month or more.
This could be you!
The story is from a collection that I’m tentatively calling The Dreamweaver’s Tales. Here’s the introduction for the collection.
Introduction to the Dreamweaver’s Stories
by Robin Wood
Long ago, in the Before Time, our arm of the galaxy twirled through a spoke of the Cosmos that was filled with Enchantment. In those days, all the world was thick with Magic, and fantastical creatures roamed land and sea, bringing joy or terror, according to their natures.
There were many kingdoms then that have since fallen to dust, and even the ever-so-very-great grandchildren of the ancient Kings and Queens no longer remember their names.
You might be one, all unknowing.
In one of those kingdoms there was a mighty city, with walls and towers of shining alabaster that blazed white in the sun. Many-hued banners snapped in the breeze at the tops of the towers, and the air was filled with the perfume of a thousand flowers.
There was a bustling marketplace there, where hundreds of merchants hawked their wares under colorful canopies. There were rows of booths filled with amazing fabrics, shimmering in the sunlight. There were hidden nooks where mysterious figures shrouded in robes stiff with mystical embroidery sold jeweled treasures glimmering with magic. There were pens and cages filled with animals from every corner of the globe, from small crested dragons no bigger than your thumb to towering, tusked creatures that were armored for war. There were sections filled with a thousand musical instruments, all inlaid woods and gleaming strings. There were whole squares given to selling foods from plain bread rolls to the most exotic spiced confections you can think of.
Imagine it, if you will.
Picture the rows of booths, each with its bright awning to shade the buyers and sellers. Picture the sunlight, dazzling as it reflects from polished wood, metal, and precious stones.
Picture the sounds with your mind’s ear; the sweet notes of women singing of perfumes and baubles to entice customers. The harsh bellows of men outshouting each other in their attempt to engage the crowd. The calls of the livestock, the peals of metal chimes, the snatches of song played by wandering minstrels, the calls of the street performers, all mixed into a cacophony that somehow blends into a busy, harmonious whole.
Picture the scents with your mind’s nose, perfume, and heat, the spicy musk of the wooly beasts, spices, rare woods, meltingly delicious desserts, and the cool fragrance of growing plants.
Picture the crowds, dressed in clothing from all the world, feathers nodding in an elaborate head dress here, long sleeves flowing there. Bare feet, scarlet slippers, and tooled leather boots with curled toes all vying for space on the red porphyry pavement. Children in splendid finery, and children in little more than rags laughing and playing as they slipped through the crowds together.
Let us follow two of them, a boy and a girl in plain homespun with just a touch of embroidery, as they race below the elbows of their elders.
Together, they weave their way past the booth where an old, old woman is selling sweets dripping with honey. Past the fat, bearded old man with ranks of toys. Past the young woman with bunches of bright ribbons. Not even pausing for the flute player, or the puppets, or the man with a basket of silky-furred puppies.
Down to the far corner of the market they run, to a nondescript tent of dusty brown, with a single silver star on a deep blue banner trailing down the side.
Here they pause, catching their breath and each other’s hands. And then they lift the flap and slip inside.
Inside, all the noise and light from the market are gone. Inside, it’s quiet and cool, and stars glimmer in the twilight. Inside, it’s outside, on a still hilltop, on a summer evening.
There are other children here, and grown-ups, too, all sitting in a circle, watching a still figure draped in white.
For a moment she remains motionless, as we settle in the circle with the others.
Then she lifts her head, and smiles gently.
“I spin you a dream,” her soft voice stirs her listeners. “a dream from the Borderlands between this world and the next.”
Then she lifts her hands, and starlight and dream-stuff pour between them. She gathers it up, spins it into shimmering strands, and from the strands she weaves a visible dream. A dream of shifting colors and flowing shapes, of light and substance. Of pale shadows and strong sparks.
A dream of Good and Evil. Of how our smallest choices can make huge differences. Of the warmth and courage of the human heart.
This is a Dreamweaver, and these are some of her Dreams.
The End – Or perhaps The Beginning
If you want to read the first one now, instead of waiting for a month for it, you can support me on Patreon.
There will be another story posted here tomorrow; it’s the next Kip Andrews. Those are written in a totally different style than the fairytales, like the Dreamweaver’s stories. You might like it better, or you might not. I’d love to hear one way or the other.
I still need to make all the textures, the LODs, bring it into SL, and assign animations and script it so the hammock will swing. So yeah, next week, at the earliest.
In the meantime, I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and I’ll see you tomorrow!
Picture – a shot I took in a glassblower’s booth at the Michigan Renaissance Festival in Holly, MI. I wish I knew whose work it was, but sadly I didn’t keep a note of it. (If you know, please tell me!)
Speaking about SL, there are only two weeks left of The Arcade. As always, when it’s over you’ll be able to keep playing my machine on Livingtree; but you won’t be able to get the special Rewards for playing the machine 50 times ever again. So if you want those, you only have a couple of weeks to get them!
There won’t be a new item out in Second Life this weekend, because the thing I’m working on right now is going to take me longer than that to finish. I think it’ll be worth the wait though.
It will come in three parts; the hammock itself (I still need to make the pillows but they’re coming,) the stand, and the shade canopy.
That’s so the hammock can swing. Swinging in the hammock is important! It also will mean that if you have trees, you don’t need to use the stand. And if you don’t want the canopy, you can save the LI and not have it.
It will probably wind up tweaked a bit from what you see in the picture, and it needs textures and things, of course. It is, after all, a work in progress. But I thought you might like to see what I’m cooking up.
On the writing front, I’m in the process of editing a book about Wicca that I wrote nearly 10 years ago now, but then Life happened and I forgot to do anything with it. Michael reminded me about it, so now it will see the light of day!
It’s for people who aren’t necessarily interested in joining the religion at all, but who want to know something about it because they have friends, neighbors, or clients that are Wiccan.
With any luck, that will be available in the next month or so.
The next Kip Andrews story will be published here on my blog on Saturday. I hope you like it.
If you liked the last one (Stormy Weather) I’d really appreciate it if you could review it on Amazon. If you want to read it again, you can read it for free if you happen to subscribe to KindleUnlimited. Otherwise, the book is only 99¢.
If you want to read my stories early, you can join my Patreon. I would really appreciate your support.
I’m also starting to work on the redesign of the site, in my copious free time. (Haha.) Since there’s not a whole lot of free time, it might be a while before you can see it, but I’m working on it.
So, that’s what I’m up to at the moment!
Thanks for reading, and if you have a question, comment or suggestion, please let me know.
This round, I have a pressed wood dollhouse, complete with all the furnishings!
The furniture all comes in at under 1LI per piece. The dollhouse itself is 2 LI (because it has a working door, and all those windows have real glass – or perhaps it’s plastic – in them.)
All the furniture is very detailed, and some of it, like the kitchen table and chairs, is designed to be easy to tint whatever color you like! There’s even a dollhouse to go inside the dollhouse.
The dollhouse itself is carefully textured to show all the parts of the rooms that aren’t removable furniture; things like posters on the walls, a kitty clock in the kitchen, fireplaces, and kitchen cabinets. The outside has a richly landscaped texture, like a real pressed wood or metal dollhouse.
The Arcade has a new “thing” this round; if you play the machine more than 50 times, you’ll get a special Reward. It’s only available for this one month. It’s no-transfer, so you won’t be able to buy them anywhere, and we have all agreed not ever to sell them anywhere else.
My Reward is a mailbox and lamppost for the dollhouse.
The lamppost lights up, of course, and you can also change the color of the light, make it auto (on at dusk, off at dawn) and all the other things you can do with my lights.
The mailbox has a toggle. The first time you touch it, the flag goes up. The next time, the flag goes down, and the door opens so you can see the tiny little pieces of mail. The third time, the door closes, and it’s back where you started.
I got Stormy Weather made into a Kindle book yesterday, and today it’s up for sale on Amazon!
I really should have researched the title before I used it. I had no idea how many other books were also called “Stormy Weather” although I certainly should have. It’s not like it would have been hard to do. Oh well, too late now! It’ll be easier when it’s just the name of the first story in the collected Kip Andrews book. (It’s a very short read – only 13 print pages, so it’s perfect for reading during break.)
If you’re a member of KindleUnlimited you can read it for free. If not, I’m afraid it’ll cost 99¢. Amazon won’t accept a lower price.
I’d like to thank everyone who read it here, and encouraged me. If you liked it, and you can leave a review, that would be great! Good reviews really help.
If you’d like to read any of the 3 stories that are still here, while they’re still free, you can find links to them below.
As planned, I’ve bitten the proverbial bullet, and posted a page on Patreon.
If you’re enjoying my stories, it would be great if you could help support me by becoming one of my Patrons.
In case you’re not familiar with Patreon, it allows people who enjoy the work of various artists to give them donations in support of that work. It’s one of the reasons why many creative people no longer have to have a “day job” and can, instead, use their time to make the wonderful things that people enjoy.
In my case, if you choose to support me, Patreon will bill you once a month, for whatever amount you have pledged.
You can pledge as little as a dollar, because every bit helps. If you do, you’ll be able to interact with me on the special Patreon member page, and you’ll also be able to read the stories the day before I post them here.
If you can pledge $3 or more, you’ll be able to read the story that will be posted on June 4 right now! (It’s another Grandnana one.) You’ll always get the stories 2 weeks early, as my thanks.
For $5 a month or more, you’ll get the Kip Andrews story scheduled for June 18 right away. You’ll always be able to read all the stories a month early.
If you can pledge $15 or more, I’ll be posting some of the backstory for longer stories that won’t ever be posted here. Things like the world building for Kip’s home, which is also the setting for the novel I’m working on. (world building, the way I do it is geography, currency, form or government, technology, fashion, and a whole lot more. The background that the stories are woven from.)
For $25 a month or more, you’ll also get to see what I’ve written each day. I’ll post it, as raw and terrible as it comes out, at the end of the day. (Most days. Some days I don’t write anything, because of Reasons.) Whatever it is will probably change some before it’s printed. It might change beyond recognition, and I might just dump the entire project. It’s also going to be short stories some days, and a couple thousand words from a novel other days. It’ll vary, and it’ll be raw, but that’s the fun of it! I usually don’t show that to anyone but my husband, but if you’re willing to support me at this level, I’m willing to let you look. (You don’t have to read it, if you’d rather not.) You’ll even be able to leave me comments on it!
For $50 a month or more, I’ll put your name in a special Acknowledgements section, on any finished novels or collections of short stories. You’ll also get all the things above, or course.
For $100 a month or more, first, are you sure? That’s a lot of money. I deeply appreciate it, though. So very much that I’ll use your name in one of the stories. If you’d rather not have your name in a book, I’ll use whatever name you like, as long as I like it too. (Sorry, you can’t name a character Evil McEvilface and have me use it. Unless I decide to write a piece of farce, and you never know!)
So that’s that. The stories are up, and ready to be read this minute. There’s not a video intro (yet) but all my prospective Patrons are readers, so you’re not afraid to read, right?
The rewards and goals are on the right side, when you go to the page. I really hope that you decide to become one of my Patrons; but if you don’t, I fully understand. The short stories will continue to be posted here, every other Saturday, as usual.
Unless you’ve been hiding under your bed clothes for the last couple of months – and I don’t blame you a bit if you have, we’re a fair way beyond “crazy” at this point – you know that we’re in the middle of a Bathroom War in the US just now.
It’s been framed as a conflict between the “common sense” rule of keeping men out of women’s private spaces, and the “dangerous” practice of allowing them free access.
I have a few things to say about that.
In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that I’m cis-gendered, which means the doctor happened to be right when he assigned the gender on my birth certificate. I also have a lot of trans friends. And no, I’m not going to tell you who, because all but one are deeply closeted. That one is Gwendolyn Ann Smith. I will tell you that I count 3 trans women, including Gwen, among my closest friends and I know dozens of others.
This whole thing, from where I stand, is actually about two separate issues.
One is safety in public restrooms. Let’s get that out of the way.
It’s a real problem, and it should have been addressed years and years ago. Women, girls, and little boys are at risk of assault when they use public facilities. It doesn’t happen a lot, but it does happen, and it happens because bathrooms are tucked away for privacy. There’s little chance an attacker will be caught. That’s the real reason that women go to the restroom in clumps; there is safety in numbers. The only thing this has to do with trans people is that they are at far higher risk than non-trans people. There are zero cases of trans people being the aggressor.
Note that none of these cases involved anyone who was trans.
Note that in none of the cases did the man don a wig and dress to commit his crime.
Note that laws that do, or do not, allow trans people to use a bathroom where they are comfortable – or at least, less uncomfortable – have no bearing at all here.
It’s not about trans people.
It’s easy to fix.
We need to put public bathrooms in high traffic areas. The toilets need to be in actual little rooms with lockable doors (not stalls that people can peep over, crawl under, or peer through the cracks of.) There should be a “panic button” on the wall for people who need help, because that happens; especially with senior citizens or people with disabilities. The sinks should be out in the open, where they can be seen by everyone.
If we did that, then it would be safe for everyone to take care of bodily functions.
Since the toilets would be completely private, there wouldn’t be any need to have any kind of gender anything. No one would be able to loiter unseen, because they would be clearly visible to everyone.
This is about the right of transgender and gender-non conforming people to exist at all.
The people screaming about the sanctity of their bathrooms are really fighting for a binary world. For a world in which things are black and white, male or female, yes or no. They are fighting for absolutes.
People like binaries. It makes choices clear and easy. It’s the lazy way to deal with differences. You are either one or the other. Us or them. Liberal or Conservative. Girl or Boy.
The problem is that nature doesn’t do binary at all. Not in anything. Between day and night, there’s always twilight. We only know when Winter becomes Spring because of the artificial conceit of a calendar; there’s no clear demarcation in the weather. Heck, we can’t even really draw a line between animal and vegetable!
In real life, all the lines blur. There are always liminal spaces that aren’t exactly one or the other, but have some characteristics of both.
This is true of everything, including human biological sex.
Trans people, far from being “unnatural” are proof positive that humans are part of the natural world.
So it’s not surprising that people can have outward sexual characteristics from one gender, while knowing that they really belong to the opposite one. Or people who are uncomfortable being assigned to either box.
So what it comes down to is this; do we accept people’s own reports of their lived experiences, or not?
If we do, then we have to agree that someone who knows to the bottom of her soul that she’s female is female, whether or not she has a penis. Someone who identifies as male, is male, even if he happens to have a vagina.
If not, of course, then you insist that you are omnipotent; you know what other people are feeling and thinking better than they do themselves. How that assumption of god-like powers can not be considered blasphemy is beyond me, but I digress.
Because here’s the thing.
Trans people are people.
Like everyone else, they should be treated with respect, kindness, and honor. Everyone should be, no matter what.
At the beginning of this post, I said I know a bunch of trans people. The most important thing about them?
Being trans isn’t the most important thing about them.
They are artists, writers, computer programmers, health workers, teachers. They have rich or complex relationships with their parents, siblings, children, and friends. They have different things they like or dislike. They are all avid science fiction readers, like nearly everyone else I know. They are all the things that everyone else is, and it’s those things that make us friends.
The only reason to care about someone’s gender is so you know how to treat them.
If you are treating people differently based on their gender, that’s a problem I think you should address.
In other words, let’s go for true gender equality, and stop worrying about the gender of other people.
The stuff that I’ve been doing for the June round of the Arcade in Second Life is all modeled, textured, and scripted (in some cases,) the instructions have been written, the Permissions have been checked, and all the Keys and sneak peeks are ready to go. In other words, it’s all done!
The only thing remaining is to put it out at the Venue, and I’m ready to do that as soon as it opens. Well, the next morning, anyway. I’m not staying up until 3:00 am my time to put things in the machine.
Which means that my time is my own again. Which, of course, means that I’ll be able to blog once more. Of course, you probably figured that out already, because you’re reading this!
I’m planning a fairly serious blog post tomorrow, about Transgender issues. It might take me longer to get it all written, but I’m hoping not.
On Saturday, of course, there’ll be a new story! Yay!
I’m not planning to post much more about the Arcade here, but I’ll have new sneak peeks up every day on my Flickr stream, if you’d like to see more.
On other fronts, I’m mostly doing a lot of clean-up and maintenance work. (Did you know that it is possible to fill a 3 TB hard drive?) I’m also trying to pull all the things together to start my Patreon page.
So that’s what I’m up to! How about you?
Picture Attribution; Sneak Peek from the Arcade June 2016 in Second Life. Marianne McCann plays with Robin Sojourner’s Arcade set.
I’m spending most of my time getting ready for The Arcade in Second Life at the moment, so I don’t have the time I’d like to work on other things. (I’ll have Sneak Peeks of the things I’m making soon!)
That’s why I haven’t posted in a few days, and probably won’t post again for a few more. In a way, it’s frustrating, because there’s a lot of other stuff I’d like to do, too. But for now, the Arcade has to be my main focus.
Once that’s out of the way, the first thing on the docket is to get Stormy Weather up on Kindle. That’s the short story that I posted on April 9, with the notice that it would only be there for a month. Since it’s been a month, it’s gone now. I had planned to have it up on Kindle before I took it down, but it didn’t quite work out that way. With any luck, it’ll be there in a couple of weeks.
After that, I’m planning to get my Patreon page off the ground. It’s really just waiting for the videos that are required. The script for them is written, but the recording hasn’t been done, mostly because I was sick for a few weeks there and my voice wasn’t… umm… shall we say “recording quality.” It’s fine now, but Arcade.
I also need to learn a bit more about some animation apps before I can have the film I want, so that might hold it up a little, but shouldn’t be too long.
The story that will be posted in two weeks is written, and so are the first few stories that I’m going to have as part of my Patreon Rewards, so at least that’s not going to have to wait. There will be a new story on May 21 for sure!
So that’s where I am right now! I thought I’d let you guys know, so you’re not wondering if I’ve given up on keeping a blog, or doing the other things.
For many, it’s a synonym for pure imagination. It isn’t enough to make things; they have to be things no one has thought of or made before. If it’s not brand new, then it’s not creative.
I think that sells people short.
As the old saying goes, there’s nothing new under the sun.
Everything we have is built from other ideas. We recombine. We build on the ideas of those who have gone before us, or on the ideas we had ourselves last week. We see what others have done, and we take those things farther, into unexplored territory.
Unexplored, not never-existed-until-now new. The seeds of the new idea were contained in the old one, back into the dawn of time.
Thinking of creation as the act of making something entirely new has the effect of making most people feel like they aren’t creative. It relegates “creativity” to the realm of the “gifted few” and not something most people can approach.
I think that nothing is farther from the truth.
Almost all of us are creators. We create things, every minute of every day. We create friendships. We create meals. We create safe spaces to live in. We create homes, and clothing, and gardens. We create jokes, and quilts, and music.
We create messes, and problems, and enemies, too. We create wars, and famines, and systems of government that oppress people.
We can’t help it. Wherever we go, we create things all around us. Very few of us manage to simply eat, sleep, and exist in places that others have created, never making anything of our own, not even relationships.
We create our own environment, and then we create stories about what we have created, and why.
It’s just the way we are.
Image attributions; my original art, sky photographed long ago, lightbulb made and rendered using MODO just this morning.