Stephanie Burgis
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Weekend Highlights
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Whew. It's been a busy couple of days, which means that I've been almost totally offline - a strange aberration for internet-addict me! The best news is that Patrick's short story "Crab Apple" was published on Friday as a podcast on Pseudopod! We listened to it in the car Friday morning while running errands, and although I personally prefer a more transparent style of reading, I really enjoyed the podcast anyway.

As well as all the non-writing-related stuff I had to do on Friday (attending my ME/CFS group, returning library books, etc.), I finished the first draft of my new SF comedy short story ("The Andrassii Agreement"??? "Love, Profit, and the Andrassii Agreement"???) (sigh) (I hate coming up with titles!) and sent off my review of Robin McKinley's Dragonhaven to Interzone, just in time. I've been reviewing for Interzone for a few years now, and usually, writing a review feels like a pretty straightforward process. This time, though, I changed my mind about Dragonhaven at least 6 times in the process of reading it, and it took a long time afterwards to figure out what I really thought about the book as a whole. I'm still turning over ideas in my head even now...but I'm pretty happy with how the review turned out. And this was a good example of why it can be really good for me to review books, because if I had picked up Dragonhaven as an ordinary reader, I would have given up on it at any of several points in the first half of the book where I got frustrated/impatient. I had to finish it, though, so I could write the review, and by the time I finished it, I'd completely changed my mind all over again. I won't go into too much more detail now because the review won't be published for at least a month, but I absolutely loved Dragonhaven by the end, and I'm very happy to have read the whole book after all.

This morning I did my first big rewrite (based on other people's crits) of Chapter One of Kat by Moonlight. Making the first real changes is always a scary process. It was great timing to do it, though, because yesterday we drove out for a research trip to spend the day at Bolton Abbey, in the Yorkshire Dales. In Kat by Moonlight, "Grantham Abbey" (where the girls go to meet the sinister Sir Neville at a summer houseparty) is very roughly based on Bolton Abbey, so it was fantastic to go back to Bolton Abbey, take pictures and figure out lots more small details to include in the scenes that I set in the abbey ruins.

Bolton Abbey - from the side

Bolton Abbey - the approach
Approaching Bolton Abbey...

Patrick & Maya at Bolton Abbey
Stepping into the ruins...

Bolton Abbey - inside
Inside the abbey, looking up...

Steph & Maya at Bolton abbey
Resisting the urge to climb on the ruins...

What isn't shown by any of those photos is just how dramatic the landscape is all around the ruins - the enormous, bare hills swooping down into green valleys with a massive river rushing's everything I love about the Dales, together with some fabulous history. I took about a zillion photos of different views and figured out where different scenes could take place (ooh, here's where Kat confronts (X) when she's magically disguised as (Y), and here...) It was really, really fun.

Afterwards, Patrick and Maya went off for a hike through the beautiful Strid Wood, next to the abbey and near the Valley of Desolation (I love Yorkshire names!). Before the CFS, I would have gone hiking with them, but for once I didn't feel too bad about it, because I had a gorgeous consolation prize: while they hiked, I visited the Tea Cottage, where I ate a lunch of cauliflower-and-stilton soup, served with warm, crusty bread, then had a pot of Earl Gray tea and the most delicious scone I've ever eaten, served with locally-made, fresh butter and homemade raspberry jam. it was just lovely. By the time Patrick & Maya finished their walk and came back for me, I was stuffed and very, very happy.

Now if only someone would give us about a million pounds, we could buy a cottage in the little village next to Bolton Abbey, which is my ideal: beautiful Yorkshire-stone houses, a small village feel, lovely footpaths that lead to open Yorkshire countryside, and organic delis, bookshops, and caf├ęs! Hmm, no wonder the houses are so expensive there...

You can see more photos on my Flickr account..

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