Angela Korra'ti's Blog
March 20, 2017
(This post is a little overdue, as all of this went down a couple of weekends ago, and I didn’t really have the chance to sit down and write this out in full until now! Plus, there was a session to go to as well as questionable mammogram results that, thank all the universe’s powers, turned out to not be a problem after all. So let’s return to this post in progress and get this written up, shall we?)
Y’all may remember that last year in February, I had the distinct pleasure of getting to attend a workshop in Qualicum Beach, at which André Brunet spent a glorious weekend teaching a bunch of us how to play several tunes. Well, we all had such fun doing that last year that our hosts, the Beatons–not to mention André himself–decided we had to do it again.
And when I learned from Joyce Beaton that this was happening, I leapt RIGHT ALL OVER THAT. Because last year’s workshop was a huge influence on my decision to start taking official fiddle lessons! Plus it’s just such great glorious fun to hang out with a house full of musicians for a weekend, learning things and jamming.
Better yet: this year I brought Dara.
March 18, 2017
I owe Elizabeth Harmon a big ol’ public apology–because I had her booked on Boosting the Signal LAST WEEK, not THIS WEEK, and I completely flipped her date with Ruth Casie. So I missed the window to tell you all about the giveaway Elizabeth was running for her latest novella release! AUGH! Sorry Elizabeth! Also apologies to Ruth, since I posted her too early as well.
Heating It Up
It’s great to be back on Boosting The Signal, to talk about Heating It Up: A Red Hot Russians Novella, the newest release in my Red Hot Russians series.
Heating It Up began with its setting, Amity Bay, a soon to be shuttered research station in Antarctica. I’ve always found the icy continent fascinating, but I’d never read a romance set there. I wanted to contrast the harsh, isolated surroundings, with the cozy warmth of a small town romance, and also add an off-beat vibe, similar to one of my favorite 1990s TV series, Northern Exposure.
Heating It Up’s Red Hot Russian hero is rugged Alexei Zaikov, Amity Bay’s station manager. Heroine Nora Bradford is a sophisticated American fish out of water who wants to spend the long dark Antarctic winter alone and grieve the devastating losses of her fiance, and career.
But Nora has a secret, one that could devastate Alexei and doom their romance. Read on, as Nora tells her story.
Everyone has that little thing that makes them crazy. For my mother, it was swearing. All I had to do to set her off was drop the f-word into a conversation. Not that went looking for ways to antagonize her. I’ve always been a peaceful person. Miss Go Along to Get Along, who rarely make waves.
Except for that once time when I did. But more about that later.
My name is Nora Bradford and I’m 26. Most people would consider that young, but not me. The last two years have felt like ten. That’s what happens when you have a perfect, beautiful life all planned out, and then one day, everything changes.
That one day was a Friday, and I was at work, at the San Francisco offices of Quinn & Associates, one of the worlds’ top firms specializing in sustainable architecture. After finishing my master’s in architecture at Stanford, I was an associate working on a plum project. I was engaged to Blake, the love of my life, who’d gone down to Belize with friends for a weekend diving trip. Life was perfect until that phone call, telling me Blake had drowned.
Just like that, my perfect, beautiful life was gone.
All that was left was my work, designing a sustainable luxury guesthouse to replace an obsolete Antarctic research station. Blake had been especially excited about this project and pouring everything I had into Glacier Ridge Lodge was a way to hold onto him. My boss Herbert Quinn, raved about my work, and told me that when the project was finished, he’d promote me to partner.
Near the end of construction, our firm traveled down to Antarctica. The beautiful building was everything I’d imagined. Antarctica, utterly breathtaking. There was even a hunky, rugged station manager, who asked me out. And though I still couldn’t picture myself with anyone besides Blake, there was something about Alexei Zaikov that drew me.
But I kept my distance. After all, I was the lead designer on the building that was going to put him, and everyone else living at the broken-down Amity Bay station, out of work. Not a good foundation for a relationship.
And within my firm, I had a growing sense something wasn’t right. My colleague Mark Jenkins, whose contributions to the project had been minimal, suddenly became the go-to guy, while I was relegated to making coffee. I’d also become too emotionally attached to the lodge, which had become my memorial for Blake and the beautiful life we would have shared. But no matter how much you want to hang onto the past, it’s gone.
Which brings me back to that thing which sets me off everytime, and any woman working in a male-dominated field knows exactly what I mean: mansplaining.
Three nights before we were to leave Antarctica, Herbert announced that Quinn & Associates’ newest partner was Mark Jenkins, not me. When I confronted Herbert, he told me that because I was young and lacked “professional authority,” it was somehow okay to take what he’d promised me, and give it to someone else who’d done less, but deserved it more, thanks to his all-important “professional authority.”
Profound grief and too much New Zealand Shiraz can really mess with your judgement. Herbert’s mansplain triggered an ugly tirade that would have horrified my poor mother. He survived it, but my career didn’t. Unemployed and alone, there was only one place I wanted to be. It took some devious finagling, but I found a way to stay behind at the now-deserted Glacier Ridge Lodge, the only place where life still makes sense.
Spending the winter alone in Antarctica…what could possibly go wrong?
March 10, 2017
It’s been a while since I had a Boosting the Signal post to share with y’all! But my Here Be Magic compatriot Ruth A. Casie approached me about sending me a piece, and my door’s always open for my HBM crowd. Ruth’s been here before, y’all may recall, with The Guardian’s Witch. Now she’s back with another historical romance in the same series, and another character interview! And I’ll say about this one what I did about the previous: I do rather like that cover! Also, I do really rather like the NPR-ish flavor of this piece. Check it out.
The Highlander’s English Woman
The Inside Scoop
Interview with Lord Bryce Mitchell
Welcome to The Inside Scoop, Radio Transcripts of Guest Interviews. My name is Justin Case, host and executive producer of The Inside Scoop, where we interview the characters in the stories created by author Ruth A. Casie.
This was the fourth interview of characters in The Stelton Legacy series and took place in front of a live audience. I ask everyone to sit back and imagine sitting in a comfortable chair and talking with my guests. I hope my interview is informative and thought provoking and that you enjoy reading them as much as I had conducting them.
If these interviews spur questions of your own, contact me via Ms. Casie at Ruth@RuthACasie.com. She and I will work together to get you answers.
Justin Case: Thank you for joining me today at The Inside Scoop. I’m your host and moderator, Justin Case. We’re about to interview Lord Bryce Mitchell of Ravencroft, the neighboring estate to the Reynolds family of Glen Kirk Castle. To clarify, both domains are on the English side of the Scottish border. Through Lord Bryce’s service to the king, he is also a close friend of Lord Alex Stelton, the guardian of Glen Kirk Castle.
Lord Bryce makes appearances in The Guardian’s Witch, The Maxwell Ghost and The Highlander’s English Woman. You can see he’s an integral part of the Stelton Legacy story. Ah, I see him approaching now.
You can’t miss the man, always dressed in black, holding his signature black leather gloves. He has a shot of black hair and a well-trimmed beard. He walks with a commanding air that I suspect has served him well in court. He certainly looks the part of the black knight. Intimidation has served him well. He’s been battled trained through his youth alongside his neighbor and close friend, Richard Reynolds and cheered on by Richard’s sister, Laura.
(Sound of footsteps approaching)
Justin Case: Good afternoon, my Lord. I’m so glad you could join us today.
Lord Bryce: Case. (A slight nod of acceptance as he sits) Many thanks for the invitation. (He looks at the tankard by his chair)
Justin Case: I secured it from Glen Kirk Castle. (He motions toward the tankard) I understand it’s your favorite brew.
Lord Bryce: (A smile breaks his set expression) Glen Kirk is renowned for its fine ale. It’s even prized by the king.
Justin Case: I understand the Mitchell and Reynolds families have been neighbors for quite some time.
Lord Bryce: My family has held Ravencroft and the Reynolds have held Glen Kirk Castle for centuries.
Justin Case: (Flipping through notes) My sources tell me you have been fond of Lady Laura Reynolds for some time.
Lord Bryce: (His steely eyes take on a dangerous glint. Justin Case mops his brow.) It was a political strategy, I assure you. It’s the thirteenth century. Combining our houses would have ensured the safety and longevity of the castle, besides I’m sure it would please the king to have an Englishman hold the castle and not a Scottish sympathizer.
Justin Case: I understand Laura was called away to Scotland before her parents discussed your proposal with her.
Lord Bryce: Laura went with the Scottish bastard Jamie Maxwell Collins to Caerlaverock Castle to visit with her distant relations. Lord Maxwell saw an opportunity to secure Glen Kirk Castle for his family. If his nephew Jamie married Laura it would further tighten the Maxwell stronghold on both sides of the border.
Justin Case: You grew up and trained with Jamie. He was fostered to the Lord at Glen Kirk. He was—
Lord Bryce: (Bending menacingly forward toward Justin Case) I wouldn’t go there if I were you. Jamie was a filthy Scot who didn’t deserve the air he breathed.
Justin Case: I understand m’lord. That doesn’t change the fact that he married Lady Laura and that their marriage was sanctioned by the King of England himself. Not an easy thing for a Scot in the thirteenth century.
Lord Bryce: Not marrying into the family was a relief. You know the women are all witches—every last one of them. (Bryce glares at Justin Case) And you know what they do to witches.
Justin Case: Lord Bryce, surely you don’t mean—
Lord Bryce: I certainly do. As well as everyone who harbors and supports them no matter who they are or what position they hold. Do you support the arcane arts? (Bryce rhythmically slaps his gloves against his thigh)
Justin Case: I mean no disrespect, m’lord. But the healing arts which the Reynolds’ women are known for is not witchcraft.
Lord Bryce: (Stands up) You think that’s all they do? You have a lot to learn. Read the stories. It is all there, and then you tell me they’re not witches.
Justin Case: (Stands up) I will read the stories, sir. And we will meet again to discuss them. Thank you for your time.
(Retreating footsteps are heard as Lord Bryce leaves the studio)
Justin Case: (Turning toward the audience) Thank you for joining me today. I hope you enjoyed learning about Lord Bryce Mitchell and the part he plays in The Stelton Legacy.
Before you leave, I’d like to acknowledge our station and staff at WRAC for their commitment and fortitude to see this project to fruition. Many technologies had to be developed to make this happen and credit must be given where credit is deserved.
General Manager — Norma Leigh Lucid
Studio Manager — Helen Back
Maintenance Supervisors — Earl E. Bird and Ella Vada
Musical Supervisor — Kerry Oki
Electrical Engineers — Flint Sparks and Les Volt
Sound Crew — Mike Rafone and Constance Hum
Traffic Manager — Joy Rider
Legal Advisor — Sara Bellum
Researchers — Paige Turner and Rita Booke
Commissary Director — Jasmine Rice
Security Directors — Barry Cade and Anna Conda
Funded by donors Hy Price and his wonderful wife Lois Price
March 9, 2017
This past Monday I had my annual mammogram.
This afternoon, Dara alerted me that Evergreen had left me a message on our home answering machine asking me to call them. This is not normal procedure when a mammogram goes well. I got through to them after a couple of tries, and was informed by their staffer that their radiologists want me to come in for an ultrasound of my left side.
Doublechecking my January 2013 posts, I am reminded that this is not the first time I’ve had a questionable mammogram. In 2013, they told me they saw teeny calcifications on the left side, and after they did a biopsy, they told me it was fine.
I am nervous now, four years later, to be informed that they want an ultrasound of that same side. So now I am scheduled to go back in for an ultrasound, on Wednesday of next week, and I get to be nervous about this until then.
I will now be doggedly focusing on trying to be the least amount of nervous I can manage, because goddammit, cancer, I do not have time for your shit. I have writing to do. I have tunes to learn. And I have a fiddle to learn how to play better.
Especially because goddammit I am going to Quebec this summer, for Camp Violon Trad, as I’ve been wanting to do for ages now. Dara and I are beginning a plan for her to meet up with me after the camp is done, for Memoire et Racines, which I’ve been wanting to go back to ever since the brief and awesome time we had there in 2012. We’re discussing the possibility of meeting up with Vicka there, even.
And I have a lot riding on this, you guys. Because not only is Violon Trad run by two of my favorite Quebec musicians–André Brunet and Éric Beaudry, along with their colleague Stéphanie Lépine–this is going to be the 10th anniversary of the camp, which is sure to make it extra epic this year.
Pretty much guaranteeing that it will be epic: ALL FOUR MEMBERS OF LE VENT DU NORD WILL BE GUEST TEACHERS.
Which means, Internets, that I’m going to be at a music camp that will contain André Brunet (from whom I have already had the pleasure of a couple of excellent workshops, now), Éric Beaudry (because BOY HOWDY do I want to spend multiple days learning guitar from this man, YES PLEASE), AND Olivier Demers (who, as y’all may recall, I dubbed the Best Fiddle Player Ever).
I am not remotely ready to tackle playing the fiddle in a full-bore week-long camp like Violon Trad–I’ll be going for the guitar classes, mostly. But I will also be bringing at least some flutes. And now that I actually do own the fiddle I’ve been renting (I bought it because woo! promotion and bonus!), along with a bow that doesn’t suck, I will ALSO be taking that fiddle to try to at least learn SOMETHING.
Because why yes an opportunity to learn tunes from Olivier Demers will make up for how I haven’t seen Le Vent perform in over a year, and I haven’t seen them perform with Olivier for over two years.
I AM DOING THIS AND NO OTHER OUTCOME IS ACCEPTABLE.
Han says NO.
TAKE THAT, questionable mammogram results. >:|
February 28, 2017
The big story in Seattle yesterday was the rollover of a butane tanker, which hit four cars and caused a 7-hour shutdown of I-5. Area natives and long-time residents know: if I-5 gets shut down, traffic around here is completely fucked. And that’s exactly what happened. The Washington State DOT started warning mid-afternoon that drivers should avoid downtown Seattle if at all possible, which of course meant that all the drivers who couldn’t get on the highway were clogging up the side streets.
And a lot of folks were stuck on the highway for multiple hours, too. Long enough that an enterprising taco truck opened for business, which I think is my favorite part of the entire story. ;D
Complicating the matter was that we also got hit with some freakish weather: a brief snowstorm that rolled in just after 3pm. We’re talking thundersnow here, people. There’s even video (see the link) of lightning striking the Space Needle.
Remembering my epic saga of the Worst Commute Ever, which I VERY MUCH DID NOT WANT TO DO AGAIN, I bailed on work around a quarter after 3 and headed home. I hung out at the bus stop at Elliott and Western for about five or ten minutes, thinking that I’d catch a bus to the bus tunnels–and see then whether I should a) try to catch one of my usual busses, a 522 or a 312, or b) get on the light rail to get to the U-district instead.
When I got to the bus stop was about when the thundersnow hit. And while I was waiting, chatting with a couple other folks, we all were VERY startled by thunder and lightning interspersed with the increasingly vigorous mix of snow and ice pellets coming down. Icy slush started building up very quickly on the road.
My phone’s OneBusAway app claimed that the next busses were due in a couple of minutes. The app was mistaken. Elliott very quickly turned into a parking long, with a long line of vehicles in the southbound lanes stretching well past Big Fish and the buildings beyond. It became very obvious very quickly that busses were NOT going to reach us in a timely fashion.
So while I wasn’t exactly happy about walking in these conditions, I punted to plan B: hoofing it to the bus tunnels. (I had flirted with the idea of catching a 32 to the U district instead, but given the condition the roads were in, that seemed ill-advised. Also much slower, given that the 32 takes a meandering path through Fremont before it finally reaches the U-district.) Fortunately I had on my Yaktrax, so walking wasn’t really a problem. And I had on my scarf to protect my face, and a heat pack in my pocket. I had my work laptop in the backpack, which meant a heavier than usual load to carry, but eh, could have been worse.
On my way up Denny I passed a #2 bus which was having a very hard time with the slush, and which got stuck for multiple minutes as I watched it. It wasn’t the only bus I saw without snow chains, either. All along 3rd, I saw a long line of busses trying to head north–very slowly. Lots of cars on that street and all the intersecting ones, too. I was frankly stunned that nobody actually ran into anybody else, given how slushy the roads were.
I made it to the bus tunnels just in time to miss an outbound train. (Also, walking through the bus tunnels while wearing Yaktrax? Kinda hard. But I didn’t really want to take them off, given that I wasn’t sure what kind of conditions I’d find on the way home.)
The next train was very crowded, and the driver even told folks trying to get on that he had two more trains queued up behind him. But by then I was already on board and wasn’t about to go anywhere. And really, once I made it onto the train, I was fine. Downtown->U-district by light rail is very fast, only two stops. And once I got off at the U-district station, I found that the thundersnow had not impacted the roads there at all. I walked over to Campus Parkway, and got to the bus stop there pretty much exactly as a 372 was pulling up. SCORE.
I pinged Dara to ask her to pick me up at the bottom of our hill, since our neighborhood roads were also clear, and walking with Yaktrax on and a heavier than usual backpack was tiring and I didn’t want to go up our hill. And the 372 zipped along at a nice steady typical pace, so all in all, it only took me a little longer than usual to get home. I was home well before 6pm.
Other folks–not so much. When I got into work this morning, several coworkers were commiserating on our Slack channels about how long it took them to get home. A couple folks said it took them over four hours. And given that I-5 was closed until around 7pm, Metro and Sound Transit were still absolutely impacted–I saw a tweet that indicated a bunch of busses that normally traveled along I-5 were running over 90 minutes late. So yeah, if I’d had to take the usual 522 or 312, my commute home would have taken a lot longer.
The moral of this story: ALL HAIL LIGHT RAIL.
Any Seattle-area locals want to chime in on how well the commute did or did not treat you?
February 27, 2017
I’ve mostly been talking about this on Facebook as of late, but for those of you who don’t follow me there, I wanted to do a post to get caught up on where I am with the fiddle lessons!
The biggest news here is that since I got promoted at work and got a lovely bonus to go with that, I went ahead and bought the 3/4-sized fiddle I’ve been renting for the past several months. Which of course means that I now need to update the official list of the Murkworks Household Instruments! And this fiddle also needs a name. I’ve been half-jokingly calling it “Rental” for a while, but now that I actually own it, not so much? I dunno yet. Unless I can come up with an amusing pseudo-French word for “Rental”. ;D
I also invested in a much better bow, a process which took rather less time than I anticipated–in no small part because Kenmore Violins had only four 3/4-sized bows immediately handy. (The rest of the ones they had in stock needed to be rehaired.) And the first one I picked up just sounded so very delightful, so I went YES PLEASE and bought that one.
Brought the new bow home and the jump in sound quality was immediately apparent to Dara–who, although she has hardly any fiddle experience either, does have an excellent ear. I am still very much a fiddle newbie myself, but oh my yes having a much better bow makes the experience of playing so much nicer.
Materials-wise, the new bow is a wooden one, vs. the carbon fiber one I’d been using. And I would not be surprised if it had better hair on it. Sound-wise, it produces a tone that’s much richer, smoother and… creamier, I guess. I don’t know if that’d make sense to people with more fiddle experience than me, but that’s what it sounds like to me!
I’m also much more able to just hold this bow. I’d expressed frustration to Lisa, and also to the owner of Kenmore Violins, that one of the issues I had with the CF bow was that when I tried to hold it properly, my pinky kept slipping out of place. So far this hasn’t happened with the new one.
I’ve used the new bow only a couple of times so far, but so far it seems like I don’t have to flail so much to find the proper amount to tighten it, either. Which I daresay will help with my consistency of general sound. The other frustration I’d had with the CF bow is that I was having a hard time determining exactly how much it should be tightened for play–because I was trying to go by what Lisa had advised during our lessons, except that it seemed like that bow wanted more tightening than that. I kept getting a scratchy, airy, overtone-laden sound, and I couldn’t tell whether this was because the bow was sub-par, my technique was sub-par, or a little bit of both.
But now I have a new lovely bow! So I can work more on my technique!
February 8, 2017
Just a few minutes after Bleeding Cool originally broke the story yesterday, I saw it showing up on my Twitter feed that Richard Hatch had passed away. And for me, it was an immediate punch to the gut.
I’ve posted a lot about my Star Wars fandom, and in particular about my long-abiding love of Han Solo. I have not, however, posted nearly as much about my affection for the original Battlestar Galactica–or how in particular, Apollo as played by Richard Hatch totally was duking it out with Han as to who I was fangirling over harder, back in the early 80’s when I was a tiny young tween.
But it’s true. I like to put into my author bio that I was writing fanfic before I even knew the word. Some of that fanfic was Raiders of the Lost Ark fic–but some of it was Battlestar Galactica. Thinly veiled BSG fic, as I was trying to make up a setting with my own names, but it was totally BSG with the serial numbers scraped off. I no longer retain a copy of that fic, but to this day I have a very clear memory of writing about my own versions of Starbuck and Apollo.
Especially Apollo. Because while Starbuck was the flamboyant one, I always found Apollo more appealing. He was the one who had more of his shit together–or his felgercarb, as the case may be. I was at the exact right age for the romantic angst of his losing his first love interest Serena, and later getting close to Sheba, to send me into flurries of teenaged swooning. Dark-haired soulful brooding romantic pilot hero? Hell yeah, said teenage me, sign me up.
Let us also talk about how my affection for Apollo also led me, in those days, to watch Richard Hatch in the movie Deadman’s Curve, a made-for-TV movie about the history of the singing duo Jan and Dean. It has been ages since I saw that film, but I have a lingering memory of the impact of watching Hatch, as Jan Berry, portraying the man’s struggle to recover from a horrifically debilitating accident.
Later on, though, Hatch came back around to impact my affection for the reboot Battlestar. I’ve written a lot about that in the past, and to be sure, Hatch’s turn as Tom Zarek was amazing. But a great deal can be said as well for how his Apollo influenced Jamie Bamber’s in the reboot–and, in fact, Tor.com has an excellent post up today about that very thing, calling Apollo the moral compass of Battlestar Galactica. Teenage me really only understood that Apollo was dreamy. Grownup me very, very much appreciates Hatch’s pivotal role, so excellently described in that Tor.com post.
The Mary Sue has a lovely tribute post up as well.
I’ve been having the strains of the Battlestar theme echoing in my head off and on ever since the news broke. And really, the entire opening credits.
Not to mention the excellent “Colonial Anthem” version of that theme, from the reboot. I can think of no better tribute music for Captain Apollo’s passing.
Viper squadrons, form up. Present arms. Fire in salute.
So say we all.
February 4, 2017
A bit delayed on this, but it’s taken a while to get enough titles queued up as acquisitions to actually make it worth doing a post! I’ve been focusing lately on reading the books I actually own versus buying a whole lot of new ones–and as a result, I’ve actually built up a sizable credit balance on Barnes and Noble’s website. Which is kinda funny, given that I’ve stopped using them as my major source of ebooks!
But ANYWAY, here’s some recent titles I’ve picked up.
Acquired in print:
Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel, by James Luceno. This is exactly what it says on the tin. More specifically, it’s the prequel story to the events of the movie Rogue One, getting into the backstory of the Erso family, and how Galen became involved in building the Death Star. I felt this sounded like fun, and to my pleasure, Dara gave me a hardback copy for my birthday.
Acquired in digital from B&N.com:
Binti: Home, by Nnedi Okorafor. SF. Grabbed this because it’s the sequel to Binti, which I enjoyed quite a bit.
Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day, by Seanan McGuire. Grabbed on general “because it’s Seanan McGuire, duh” grounds, but also because a) I’ve been enjoying reading novellas lately, and b) I liked the base concept of this, a ghost who’s working on a suicide hotline.
Passing Strange, by Ellen Klages. Another Tor.com novella (see previous commentary re: enjoying these lately), which I have grabbed because why yes, a story about queer women in San Francisco in 1940 has my attention.
The City, Not Long After, by Pat Murphy. SF. Got this on the strength of James Nicoll’s review of it. It sounds like a surprisingly pacifistic post-apocalyptic scenario, and given the times we live in, that feels strangely reassuring. This’ll be the second thing of Murphy’s I’ll have read and while I was ambivalent about her Hobbit pastiche, I liked it well enough that I’m willing to try another book of hers.
This’ll make five so far for the year.
February 1, 2017
YOU GUYS. YOU GUYS.
Dara and I are deep in working with artist Nicole Cardiff on the cover for the forthcoming Warder Soul. And as of tonight, I am delighted to report that BEHOLD! We have a color rough!
This is going to be developed as Nicole adds a lot more depth and nuance to the coloration. But this is now a real good rough idea of what y’all can expect on the cover of this book. Book’s not remotely close to done yet, but having a cover being developed in conjunction with the actual story is exciting, y’all!
And now I give you Christopher MacSimidh!
Warder Soul Cover Rough
I may not be the only fantasy novelist in the world with a bouzouki player in an urban fantasy series, but I think I can now make a solid case for being the first one with a bouzouki player on a cover.