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June 18, 2009


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I guess Maghuin Dhonn's Unspecified Destiny doesn't quite have the same ring to it.

I for one would be strongly tempted to buy a book with the phrase "Unspecified Destiny" in the title, but I'm weird that way.

If she falls into bed with most of the other major characters, maybe she should have a doctor check her inner ear.
I guess I did ask for that frying pan.

You say that the book isn't a standalone, but is it necessary to know the previous trilogies to approach this one?

AJ... I for one would love reading a short story titled "Unspecified Destiny". It sounds like something that I'd find in "Realms of Fantasy" - which by the way resumes publication at the end of this month. But I digress. Why don't you write that story, AJ?

You say that the book isn't a standalone, but is it necessary to know the previous trilogies to approach this one?

Actually, I think you might not have to. The others center around the d'Angelines, but this one goes through plenty of explanations because for the first time the protagonist is not d'Angeline. So it all has to be explained to her, which I think will carry the reader along as well.

I'm not the best judge of this, since I've read the others and since I was reading it for pleasure more than with a critical eye.

Thanks, Susan. I'll keep that in mind when it comes out in paperback. It's not like I don't have plenty of stories that await my hungry eyes. Still, I'm interested in trying new stuff.

By the way, I've begun reading Sean Williams's The Grand Conjunction, 3rd in his Astropolis story, and I came across the following:

"Who was he, Grimes?" she asked in a low voice.

He moved in closer. "A thug by the name of Serge Maim. His friends call him the Crab."

It's not every day that I find my name in a superduper space opera, even if it's as a disreputable member of a futuristic society.

Maghuin Dhonn's Unspecified Destiny

I'd buy that book too.

I can't help thinking that the publisher would insist on making it a mysterious or strange destiny which would drain all the quirkiness out of it.


Maghuin Dhonn's Unspecified Destiny sounds like a movie by Neil Jordan, or like a sequel to Sayle's Secret of Roan Inish. Like you said though, if it happened, they'd drain the quirkiness out of it.

"You cannot escape your destiny. You must face Darth Vader again."
- Obi-wan Kenobi to Luke Skywalker in Return of the Jedi

"It is unavoidable. It is your destiny. You, like your father, are now mine."
- the Emperor to Luke Skywalker in Return of the Jedi

"You underestimate the power of the Dark Side. If you will not fight, then you will meet your destiny."
- Darth Vader to Luke Skywalker in Return of the Jedi

"But beware. Anger, fear, aggression. The dark side are they. Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny."
- Yoda to... well, you get the idea.

I believe the thing that looks like a stick is supposed to be understood as being wrapped around her bun - if you look closely at the left end, you can just see the bit continuing around the back (it's in shadow, and blends somewhat with the background).

About the musculature, I choose not to venture an opinion.

Paul A... Maybe the artist was told to add the stick/wraparound after the painting was done. Or maybe he/she just is no good at sticks or wraparounds.


Glad to hear that Realms of Fantasy is coming back. I might have to actually go out and buy it to help ensure that it sticks around.

I'm not great at short stories (I've only written one that I think is good, not counting RP character background stories), but once my new burst of enthusiasm for my novel has waned, I may tool around with some "Unspecified Destiny" ideas.

Go for it, AJ!

I don't read fantasy, but Julie E. Czerneda's SF has the female protagonists always doing things with their hair. It's very weird, reading a page and a half of a biologist fiddling with her hair every couple of chapters. It makes the protagonists in the different books seem very similar.

On the other hand, I'm almost done with Jo Walton's newest book, Lifelode which is very different and very intriguing.

Marilee... I don't read fantasy

I go for both myself, but I seem to prefer SF at the longer lengths, while fantasy works better at the shorter lengths - for me anyway.

Since I have long hair myself, I've experimented with all sorts of things in/on a bun, and let me say that twigs are not high on the list of practical decorations. Either the wood is green, in which case it is too springy to stay curved, or it is dried out, in which case it's going to be too hard and brittle to curve around. A straight twig with minimal rough spots (bark removed, perhaps) could be used as a standard hair-stick, but that's not what the artist is showing here. I'm sure it's meant to symbolize how, um, earthy and wild the character is, but I'm not buying it with that hairstyle and robe. Concept fail.

I'm actually not convinced it's a twig. I'm looking at a smaller-than-actual-size image on a computer screen, so I may be missing some detail, and of course I don't know what the character wears in the text, but to me it looks like it could just as easily be a twisty thing made out of gold.

Could it be a flimsy scarf on the bun?

Looking at the cover on Amazon, I think Paul's suggestion that it's made of gold seems plausible.

Based on what I can see of it, I don't think it's practical. I'd expect to see the top part clipping somehow to the bottom part on the right side, but there's no sign of anything there. Even with a clip there, the way it's positioned certainly wouldn't hold my hair up like that. There would need to be an awful lot of other bands and clips hidden in the hair to hold it up that way, and that wouldn't make sense for quick leaps into bed.

As I recall Phedre made great use of the poorly-explained "Lover's Haste Knot", although mostly when rising from bed in a hurry. So far as I remember it had the great advantage of being fast, easy and not requiring any pins, bands, clips, sticks or other accessories.

Presumably one needs angelic ancestry to get hair that does that.

Sidonie used that knot as well. That's the sort of thing that works if your hair is curly or coarse-textured, but not if (like mine) it's fine and slippery. But I can hold a bun in place with just one hairstick and put it up pretty quickly. With a scrunchy or band and a hairstick I can put up a bun that will last through vigorous dancing.

Also, looking at her back: maybe it's a giant "N" that is about to break through the skin? N for Naamah?

Susan... I can put up a bun that will last through vigorous dancing

...must... NOT... make joke... must resist!...

Chiming in as another long-haired lady, I will agree with Susan that it is very quick and easy to twist a bun that can be held in place with a single stick (my sticks of choice are fancy chopsticks purchased for $2-3 a pair in Chinatown). In fact, it was taught to me as the way all of the Indian ladies at Gem Show twist their hair up and have it stay in place without anything holding it, but I can rarely get the tension right for that -- and it would definitely not hold up to dancing or a long day at gem show without a stick.

AJ... Off topic, but I wanted to let you know that my steampunk-movie presentation at FiestaCon will be on July 4, at 2pm. Eek.

Did you ever get straightened out with the con whether you were doing a solo talk or a discussion panel?

Susan... Not yet. They're supposed to put panel participants in touch with each other, but I haven't heard back yet. And the con less than 2 weeks away... Not much time left to finish my talk's text, whether I wind up using it or not. I'll have many pretty pictures anyway.

Well, if you have a co-panelist it's probably meant to be just a discussion, not a one-person presentation. You really need to contact the head of programming or whoever your contact has been and straighten this out.

I think Indian women have thicker hair with a rougher texture, which probably makes it easier. Mine is so fine it just slithers when I try to knot it without any accessories. Drives me crazy. My friends with curly hair do not have this problem!

Susan... Good idea. I just wrote to the con.

Holding a bun in place with one stick can work, but I don't think it can the way that stick is placed on that cover (as I recall it, since I don't feel like opening that window again).

My hair is currently braided and twisted into a bun without accessories, but I don't expect it will last. I should put something in -- it got quite warm here with the start of summer!

When I had long hair, I could hold a braided bun up with a stick. I need to get the short hair off my forehead and neck now so I ordered a batch of cheap cotton bandannas from Oriental Trading that are due soon.

(We've had a massive commuter train collision just north of DC -- one train ran under the other -- two dead, more than 100 injured.)


Awesome. My husband's usual Saturday game is canceled for the 4th, so I'm going to try to convince him we should go up to FiestaCon that day. I just need to see if my folks are free to come let the dogs out and feed them their dinner, since I didn't arrange to have them boarded for the day.

The dogs. Not the parents.


Most of the Indian women I've seen seem to have thick but reasonably straight hair. I think the thickness is what helps. Mine is average thickness and a little wavy. It looks nice down, but if it's hot or windy, I just have to wear it up.

AJ... Let's hope you can make it. I've talked to Michael Contos and we've agreed that the first part of the steampunk-movie panel would be my talk about the past and that he'd then do the future and what the audience would like seeing made into a movie. The day before, he and I will be on a steampunk-literature panel, but he'll be in charge. (By the way, which room is the Capistrano? Not the biggest one, I hope. I'm not sure what would be worse, a big room filled with people, or a nearly empty one.)

Well, I have to call a plumber tomorrow. Hopefully that will not eat all of my con-going money o.o

PS: today sucks.

AJ... Curses!

Well, if the plumber's over-the-phone diagnosis is correct, it's only going to cost between $100-200. And Chris (the husband) seemed amenable to a convention and a steampunk movie panel as a way to destress from constant work. So all that's left is getting someone to stop in and check on my puppies :)

AJ... Hopefully you and 'the husband' will be my guest for dinner after that steampunk-movie panel.

Serge, that would be very nice! My Mom agreed to come let the pups out and feed them their dinner, so we should be able to stay in Phoenix a little into the evening.

I'll be dressing steampunk-y for the convention. I thought about wearing belly dance clothes, but I get lots of excuses to wear those and not many to wear my bustle skirt, so steampunk wins :D

AJ... Let's hear it for the bustle and its rustle.

I can't help thinking that the publisher would insist on making it a mysterious or strange destiny which would drain all the quirkiness out of it.

Yeah, but if it isn't mysterious or strange...would it be any fun to read?

it could just as easily be a twisty thing made out of gold

Yeah, it could be. I'm looking at the actual book in front of me now, and it is exceptionally shiny for a twig. On the other hand, it is textured rather like bark. And even if it's gold, it's still not clear exactly how it stays attached to her bun. Gold would make a rather heavy hair-ornament, wouldn't it?

It's not the actual mystery or strangeness, but the description. Assuming it's the same novel and destiny, is it more interesting or fun to call it:

Maghuin Dhonn's Unspecified Destiny; or
Maghuin Dhonn's Mysterious Destiny?

Both are good but I like Unspecified more.

I note in passing such titles as The Strange Case of Benjamin Button and Lord John and The Private Matter which tell us nothing of the case or matter, but make them sound fascinating.

Oh, I get it. They'd just change the title, not the nature of the destiny. I completely agree that the version with Unspecified is much more intriguing as a title.

Sorry, I'm a little slow after three very late nights reading Anathem.

Oh I don't care what she calls it. I'd buy it regardless. ;)

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