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August 2008:
Day 5: End of Driveway
Posted by Biggie @ 8:10 am
August 29th : 2008
Long Lake, High Drama
Posted by JVJ @ 6:44 am
August 28th : 2008
Our final photo from last weekend features Long Lake which, at fourteen miles long, is technically a widening of the Raquette River. Mount Marcy, whose lower slopes can be glimpsed in the distance, was the site of the great presidential drama of 1901. While camping close to Marcy's 5,534 feet peak, Theodore Roosevelt learned that William McKinley, who had been shot a week earlier, had taken a turn for the worst. By the time Roosevelt made it to the nearest train station, McKinley was dead.
Day 3: End of Driveway
Posted by Biggie @ 6:51 am
August 27th : 2008
I grew this
Posted by JVJ @ 9:35 am
August 26th : 2008
Feast your eyes on this beauty, product of our Advanced Tomato Systems Laboratory. At the lab, our goal is to reposition the tomato in the fruit-vegetable continuum with an eye to broadening its relevance to society. Careful research has shown that the pumpkin has tied up a considerable area of the market known as "Halloween". At the lab we theorized that if we could introduce pumpkin-positive attributes to the tomato we could favorably reposition the tomato in this high-purchase arena. Chief scientist J.V.Jones summarized the problem. "You canít carve a tomato. We gave a bunch of beefsteaks to a control group of six-year-olds and the result was...marinara. Weíre currently working on a C.P.U (Carvable Pumkin-mimicking Unit), but itís problematic. Our lab laundry bill alone has tripled in the past six months."
Day 1: The Driveway
Posted by Biggie @ 6:01 am
August 25th : 2008
So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen
Posted by Biggie @ 4:32 pm
August 23rd : 2008
Email Question
Posted by JVJ @ 8:07 pm
August 22nd : 2008
What are your favorite fantasy novels? -Edgar P
The reason I started writing fantasy novels is because I was a voracious reader of fantasy novels. There's something about starting a big, thick fantasy--that moment when hope is met with the expectation of being transported to another world--that is unique to the genre. It's the secrets and wonder, the slow unfurling of an imagined place. The possibilities. And the chance to glimpse that elusive truth that shimmers on the horizon--always disappearing as we attempt to move toward it.

Some of the books that allowed me a closer glimpse of that horizon are, in no particular order:
The Deed of Paksenarrion by Elizabeth Moon. Paks, as she is known throughout the trilogy, is one of the best female protagonist in all of fantasy. She's tough, skilled, naive, vulnerable. Her journey from farm girl to mercenary to paladin is believable and moving. Through Paks we are allowed a glimpse of the place where exceptional goodness and endurance can take mankind.

The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan. What a great book this is. Full of wonder and excitement and likable characters. Mysterious strangers ride into town, a journey starts, lives are upturned, danger is everywhere. This is what epic fantasy is all about.

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin. I'd like to know how she does it, create a beautifully-crafted, fully-realized world with so few words.

Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb. This book is all about character, and what a great and unforgettable one Hobb created in Fitz. We feel his pain and isolation. Through Fitz we get a glimpse of a world where personal choices are irrevocable. Here is a place where forbearance and sacrifice matters.
From the Archives
Posted by JVJ @ 7:46 pm
August 22nd : 2008

Here's Sue and me, back in the day. This photo was taken in an after hours club in downtown Liverpool called the Night Owl. This venerable (and quite possibly illegal) institution shut down many years ago. My sister Susan and I had just come off working in the pub (7-11pm) and headed to the Night Owl with the usual crew.
Get Your Own Shake
Posted by JVJ @ 8:16 pm
August 21st : 2008

After a long, hot day on the trail, shin-deep in mud, irradiated with DEET, hair plastered with sweat, leg muscles singing in pain, sunscreen burning my eyeballs, I have only one thing to say: This is my chocolate milkshake. Any approach will be deemed a threat.
Trusted Boots
Posted by JVJ @ 8:05 pm
August 20th : 2008
My trusty hikers deliver me safely to yet another wilderness lake. Across quagmires, over slippery rocks and through cold mountain streams, they never fail. Foolproof, waterproof and darn-near-comfy as slippers, the Asolos keep on trekking. Few think they're pretty, but I do. Here they are at the weekend, on the south shore of Lake Eaton, taking a well-deserved break before hitting the trail home.

*Pasty shins awaiting message from bugs
Forked Lake
Posted by JVJ @ 8:55 pm
August 19th : 2008
Here I am on Sunday on Forked Lake, paddling my canoe against the wind in the heart of the Adirondacks. Water levels are so high this year throughout the region that old lakeshore has been replaced with new lakeshore. Trees, boulders, beaches and landmarks have all disappeared.
Supernova Early Warning
Posted by JVJ @ 4:45 pm
August 15th : 2008

Having communicated the position of their homeworld (located equidistance between the constellations of Ursa Minor and Cassiopeia), bugs are now issuing a warning. Take a gander at my puny and inflamed left forearm. What do you see? A shockwave through the interstellar medium, radiating out from a super-dense core? I thought so. That says only one thing to me: Supernova.
The missive was received last night in the yard during a routine eggplant inspection. Straightaway I knew this was different. More urgent. Burning, even. I'm off primitive camping at the weekend. This should afford the bugs plenty of opportunity to communicate the location and E.T.A of the unhappy event. As soon as I receive their next bites...er bytes...I intend to contact the folks at the Supernova Early Warning System. Looks like their neutrino detectors missed this one entirely.

Frankly, I'm afraid. And very, very itchy. Send antihistamines.
Foot prep underway, departure imminent
Posted by Biggie @ 7:37 pm
August 14th : 2008
Email Question
Posted by JVJ @ 3:26 pm
August 13th : 2008
Will there be a sequel to The Barbed Coil? -Trent C
Barbed Coil was written as a standalone. I'd just finished work on the Book of Words trilogy and decided to take a break from 500,000 word stories so wrote a 200,000 word one instead. As it was planned as a single volume, Barbed Coil emphatically ends on the final page. I have no plans to revisit Tessa and Ravis.
The idea of ephemera (objects that slip in-and-out of time at pivotal moments in history--like the Holy Grail and the Spear of Destiny) still interests me, and I think there's another story there waiting to be written.
Leaving home, dry run
Posted by Biggie @ 1:27 pm
August 13th : 2008
Sunset of the month
Posted by JVJ @ 5:52 pm
August 12th : 2008

This monthís "Sunset of the Month" comes to us courtesy of Blue Mountain Lake, NY. A Blue Mountain Sunset spokesman spoke off-the-record about sunset strategy. "Last monthís win by Ontario, Canada, changed everything. They pushed the limits of what a sunset could be." Forced back to the drawing board, Blue Mountain rethought their entire concept. "Teal," continued the spokesman with quiet reverence. "It was a masterstroke. Right away we knew we couldnít outcolor them--Ontario practically invented the tone-on-tone sunset--so we had to outfox them instead."

The breakthrough came when Blue Mountain Sunset chairman asked the board in frustration, "Whatís Canada got that we havenít?" The answer was unanimous: Canada geese. "Letís go get some then," cried the chairman, grabbing his car keys and passport. The rest, as they say, is sunset history.
The Blue Mountain sunset spokesman refused to comment on rumors that the nine geese featured in the sunset had been smuggled across the border. "Letís just say no oneís officially cried fowl."
Departure delayed today due to:
Posted by Biggie @ 4:03 pm
August 11th : 2008
And now for something completely different...
Posted by JVJ @ 2:41 pm
August 10th : 2008
Departure delayed due to...
Posted by Biggie @ 2:33 pm
August 8th : 2008
Email Question
Posted by JVJ @ 4:12 pm
August 7th : 2008

Will Ash and Raif ever get back together? -Lucy T

As a reader I understand this question, I really do. I spent the first four books of the Wheel of Time series hoping that Rand and Egwene would get back together. And I bet I wasnít the only one. Letís admit it: weíre romantics at heart. We want the boy and the girl to be reunited at the end and live happily ever after.

I may write in a "fantasy" setting but I want to tell the truth about how we live and love and act. We all know that not every romantic relationship works out. Character is revealed over time. People change. Grow apart. Raif cares deeply for Ash; I know that. I also know heís not the kind of person who stops caring. Drey, Effie and Ash are his world. They are the sole reason he carries on. By becoming Watcher of the Dead he protects them....or hopes to. Will he and Ash get back together? Hereís where the story must write itself. In life nothing is certain: love and loss walk hand-in-hand.
Climb Every Mountain
Posted by JVJ @ 3:44 pm
August 6th : 2008
Well just one of them really. At the weekend I climbed Mt Goodnow which bills itself (apparently mountains have PR departments these days) as "the biggest bang for the buck in the Adirondacks". What this means is that for a relatively small mountain (2690 feet) it delivers a big view. I climbed Goodnow in the rain at dusk. This is what I saw when I reached the top. Click the link to your right to view what I should have seen.

Now, onto our mystery item. Dave posted a match on the messageboard so it looks as if we have an ID: Monotropa Uniflora. I was wrong in thinking it was a fungus. Itís a plant thatís lost its chlorophyl. Monotropa Uniflora (or Indian pipe or ghost plant) taps into mycorrhizal fungi for its nutrients and thatís why itís found in dark forested areas, just like mushrooms.
That's it. I'm outta here!
Posted by Biggie @ 3:08 pm
August 6th : 2008
Mystery Item of the Month
Posted by JVJ @ 12:45 pm
August 5th : 2008

I photographed these on Saturday morning in the Adirondacks. I've never seen anything quite like them before. They look like the ghosts of bluebells past so until we find out their official name I'm calling them ghostbells. Anyone with any information on these beauties, please advise.
Unusually high rainfall in the Adirondacks means that it's a bumper year for fungi. Everywhere you step they're there: odd asymmetrical growths that look like the beginning of alien colonization.
Perfect Product Placement
Posted by JVJ @ 12:25 pm
August 5th : 2008
Waterfall of the Week
Posted by JVJ @ 1:02 pm
August 4th : 2008
This week's waterfall comes to us courtesy of Long Lake, NY. The Raquette River flows through a series of lakes in the Adirondacks before draining into the St. Lawrence. Here I am on Saturday standing by Raquette's Buttermilk Falls which empty into Long Lake. About 5 miles northeast of here is the St. Lawrence/Hudson divide: the point at which water flows either north to the St. Lawrence or south to the Hudson.
3D
Posted by JVJ @ 3:00 pm
August 3rd : 2008

Last Friday I went to see Journey to the Center of the Earth in 3D. These are the glasses the cinema gave me to wear. As you can see theyíre not the old style blue-and-red filtered lenses. Instead they use circular polarization to create the sensation of depth. Thereís only ever one image projected on the screen. The image alternates between "right eye" frames and "left eye" frames at such a high rate weíre unaware itís happening. Right eye and left eye are fooled into thinking that theyíre seeing the same image at the same time. The spatial distance created by this illusion creates the 3D effect.
The technology looks pretty good. Certain images in the movie, including shots of a compass, were beautiful. What looks even better though are the animated movies that are in production. I felt as if I could reach out and touch the crystal-clear images that were projected right in front of my face.
Eggplant Update
Posted by JVJ @ 2:24 pm
August 2nd : 2008

For those who are following the continuing adventures of the eggplants, I offer this update. Itís alive! And itís small, perfect and purple. Like Prince.

Watching it grow is so much more satisfying than watching the tomatoes hang around stubbornly staying green. Already Iím dreaming of eggplant dishes. Eggplant parmesan, baba ghanoush..I donít know any more. Send recipes. There's a big crop coming.
Email Question
Posted by JVJ @ 8:20 am
August 1st : 2008
How many books will there be in the Sword of Shadows series? -Jen M
I get asked this question a lot. I addressed it in the FAQ, but not everyone makes it over there so here goes. First off: Sword of Shadows was never a trilogy.
I had always planned for 5-6 books. Right from the start I knew this was a big story, with many P.O.V. characters to write for. Looking at the current state-of-the-series I'd say we're looking at six books, not five. Bram's partly to blame for this--his story keeps expanding. Also I have to accommodate a couple of new P.O.V. characters (no, I'm not telling you who--that's top secret. Though I will say the characters aren't new. They're currently on the periphery of the story: in other words, you already know them. Or think you know them).

The other consideration is that the story itself continues to evolve. In the beginning I had a plan. During Book II I had a plan. After I finished Book III I had a plan. You get the idea. There's always a plan. These plans aren't incredibly detailed turn-by-turn roadmaps, more a compass heading--North--and a final destination. I know where I want the series to end. However, as I just have a compass heading I go off road a lot. Sometimes I bushwhack. Sometimes I float without a paddle and end up heading West, not North. Rarely do I hitch a ride on the highspeed train and end up farther North in record speed.
What this means is the series, like the Universe, is expanding. My job is to provide gravitational pull so the story doesn't fly off in all directions. Will it be five or six books? As soon as I know the answer I'll pass it along.
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