Category Archives: Thoughts from the Bench

I Do Love a Productive Monday

  • Got Crystal Blade Episode 17: Loose Lips Sink Ships up at Vella
  • Finished editing Blade Episodes 21 and 22
  • Got them saved on Vella so I have a full two weeks’ worth of episodes to post every M-W-F
  • Started working on Blade Episode 23 and got a goodly chunk of it done
  • Did a very necessary food shop
  • Swept and vacuumed the downstairs
  • Finished shaping a double gallery setting—next up is building V-shaped prongs and attaching those and a bail
  • Made dinner
  • Updated both blogs (sorry about the delay with this one’s posts)

All in all, I feel like I successfully adulted today.

Don’t Do This

Bench injury story—feel free to skip if injuries squick you.

So I was sawing some swirls out of a sterling silver spoon today (really ornate silver spoons are 1) surprisingly cheap and 2) great sources for decorative bits that I can use on jewelry) and the saw blade broke.

Now, this happens regularly—jeweler’s saw blades are very fine, less than a millimeter wide and a tiny fraction of that in depth. Unfortunately, this time the blade broke while I was bringing the saw down and I drove the upper blade fragment through the nail on my left middle finger, right next to the cuticle. Ow.

Since I’ve injured myself at the bench before I knew what to do. I squeezed the fingertip gently to get the wound bleeding freely (this helps flush out anything that might have been driven into the nail bed), washed it thoroughly, put on some of the good antibiotic ointment I got last year at the hospital, and bandaged it. It’s making typing a bit of a challenge but I think it should be okay—none of the saw blade got left in the wound. If it swells or turns funny colors I’ll head into the doctor and get them to look at it.

And yes, I had a tetanus shot five years ago so I’m good on that. I was talking about it with Lyndon later on and he said, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but to be honest I’m surprised you don’t have more injuries from making jewelry.” It helps that I’m careful and precise, but sometimes things slip and you wind up slicing open a thumb or stabbing a nail. *shrugs* It happens.

Ever Wonder What $650 Worth of Handmade Sterling Jewelry Looks Like?

Now you know. I already sold the amethyst earrings and fossilized coral pendant so I’ll list everything that’s still available on my Belaurient Arts page. Once I have PayPal buttons I’ll add them, but in the meantime if you see something you like drop me an email and I’ll send you a PayPal invoice.

Mind you, at least four of those pendants are at least three years old (why they didn’t sell, I have no idea) and I redid the larimar pendant because it just wasn’t selling in its old setting. But I have hopes that many of these will sell in the next month or so and help me defray the costs of the HVAC repair. Not that I’m hinting or anything.

I also blocked out Act III of Crystal Blade while I was in the garage tonight so I have that going for me. Yes, I have an outline but it’s bare bones, just an indication of what should happen in each chapter. But now I have some scenes hammered out in my head, as well as a bunch of dialogue, and it was fun working out the big duel scene that serves as the climax. Well, come on, with a title like Crystal Blade and my history with the SFWA Musketeers (oh, wait, you probably didn’t know about that. Yeah, I fence along with all of my other activities), I had to put a sword fighting scene in the book. I do love swashbuckling, after all.

The Writer At Work In the Garage

Crystal Blade Episode 15: A Ball Is an Excellent Way To Make New Friends is now available at Vella. Go check it out.

As you know, Bob, when I’m not slaving over a hot computer during the day I’m usually out in the garage making jewelry, and I’m currently working on an exceptionally fun custom order. It’s a sterling pendant setting that will hold a large marquise cut (oval with pointed ends) rutilated quartz that’s been faceted. I get to use prongs for it and make my own double gallery setting with V-shaped prongs on each end to hold the points securely. It’s complex but the result should be gorgeous, plus this is excellent practice for me in using prong settings.

Which leads me to say that I would cheerfully shank someone for a real jeweler’s bench right now with the cutout and catch drawer because man, I am tired of dropping teeny things on the floor (like, oh, the bur container that came apart while I was bringing it down from a shelf and scattered the burs all over the floor. I still can’t find two of them and my curses are still ringing in Plano). Dropping things, BTW, is a regular occurrence in every silversmith’s life, which is why the cutout and the catch drawer/sling were developed in the first place. But my bench is a regular workbench from Harbor Freight with a particleboard top screwed into a metal frame so I can’t even make a cutout myself.

Oh, well. I can dream. And keep an eye on local sales groups to see if I can pick up a used one. In case anyone wants to buy me an early birthday present, this bench would be ideal. And in the meantime I’ll keep plugging away on my Harbor Freight table (and keep looking for those last two burs, goddammit…).

The End of the Month Is Approaching

I didn’t mention yesterday but Crystal Blade Episode 9: An Intimate Family Dinner was released yesterday on Vella. At least I finally got it into my head to call them episodes and not chapters.

I have to admit, I was really hoping to have Blade finished by now, but between various stressors and a couple of bouts of Not Feeling Well I just wasn’t able to get it done this month. Which is annoying because I would really like to publish something every month and have Amazon keep promoting me, but I’m starting to think that this may not be realistic for me.

At least, not at the moment. I’m tired. My last vacation was January 2017 and it has been go go go ever since then. I would dearly like to have one week where I didn’t have to do anything, cook or clean anything, or take care of anything. Basically, I want to go on a cruise. But to do that we not only need enough money to pay for the cruise itself but also for the week of time Ramón would need to take off from work (not having PTO really sucks). Which means I need to sell a lot of books. Which means I need to write more new books to keep myself in Amazon’s sweet spot. But I’m tired. You see my dilemma.

At least the sterling silver jewelry I’ve been making recently has been selling, which is something. Frankly, I’ve made almost as much from that as I’ve made from writing this month. Part of me thinks that’s sad, and part of me is just damned grateful that I have another income stream. And all of me knows that things could be so, so much worse so I should just shut up and be grateful for what I have.

Okay, TODAY Is Officially Tax Day

And man, am I happy I got all of that done in February. Of course I have to send in the estimated taxes for Q1 and pay all the bills but that’s not a problem, I’m set up for that.

I’m also back at the jewelry bench, tra la. In addition to two other pendants I’m working on a rutilated quartz pendant that I’m going to use in a giveaway next week. Those of you who read A Theory of Crystal will remember that Yelena and her men were able to use rutilated crystal to save themselves from an unfriendly blast of magical evergy, and the cabochons are super pretty so I wanted to make one into a pendant. I’ll post pics once that’s done, and I’m giving some serious thought to creating a unique piece for each book from here on and using those as giveaways for promo.

Although I’m not giving away the carved labradorite flower bracelet from Shadow of the Swan that I’m going to make. That one is for me. Although I could be talked into making another one if there’s any interest…

Have I mentioned that I love antibiotics?

Because I do, especially after I’ve spent the last six weeks slowly sinking into sinus infection fatigue, to the point where I would get up in the morning and five minutes later wanted to go straight back to bed for the rest of the day.

So, yeah, doc’s visit, the nice nurse practitioner said, “Ooh, yeah, your eardrums are bulging, here’s a scrip for a Z-pack, you want a steroid shot, too? Oh, yeah, this is not your first time at the rodeo.” She also confirmed that I get one of these damn things every year around this time — two years ago I came in almost to the day with the same complaint. I don’t know if it’s the weather change or something around here puts out some serious shit in late September/early October, but it’s like freaking clockwork.

So, day two on the Z-pack/steroid shot, and it’s like night and day. I woke up at 4 AM this morning, cranked out 1500 words on King of Blades (holy God, I came up with a BRILLIANT subplot for Darius and Lars, so they’re about to have quite the rollercoaster event in their relationship), went back to sleep for a bit, woke up feeling like a million bucks, went to see Colette (gorgeous movie and man, it’s inspiring if you’re a female writer), and craved real food afterwards (I may have also watched Salt Fat Acid Heat last night and it kinda lit a fire under me). So dinner tonight is rosemary and garlic pork roast, oven-roasted green beans and carrots with olive oil, seasoned sweet potato fries, and cucumber salad. You want to be eating here tonight.

Another bennie of feeling better — I’m back in the mood to make jewelry. I’m finishing up some projects that are already on the bench, and then I get to start work on these, now that all the bits have finally arrived from Rio Grande and the stone sellers. The lower stones and blue and yellow topaz and will be set in sterling silver settings that I’ll solder together, and the top stones are citrine and will have tiny handmade sterling calla lilies dangling from them. I think they’re gonna be gorgeous when they’re done.

Thoughts from the Bench: What Happened to Mrs. Abernathy?

Welcome to a new feature of the blog where I talk about stuff that’s occurred to me while I’ve been out in the garage working on jewelry. Metalsmithing is actually part of my writing process because while my hands are busy, my brain is free to keep itself entertained any way it can, and it usually does that by coming up with stories.

Now and then, however, I find myself musing about anything from politics to why Zendaya clearly should be cast as Joan of Arc based on her Met Gala dress. Tonight, while I was working on the sterling settings for a pair of earrings, I started thinking about Westworld and some of the backstory involved (by the way, I was VERY pleased to have called it on Delos trying to transfer human consciousness into hosts and thereby becoming filthy rich from 1%ers who want to live forever, but I digress.)

Specifically, I was thinking about how in Season One, Dolores’s original loop was to be the daughter of a rancher and his wife. The family’s whole reason of existence was so that they could be killed (Mama and Daddy) and raped (Dolores) by guests who wanted to act out various black hat scenarios. Which is more than a little creepy (and I do wonder if Dolores was specifically put into that scenario as punishment by Dr. Ford for killing Arnold), but it set the viewer’s understanding about how the hosts are viciously abused by human guests on a regular basis.

Fast forward to that monumental scene at the end of “The Original” where Dr. Ford is questioning Dolores’s “father” Peter and asking him what his main drives are. Peter replies that he’s supposed to tend to his herd, look after his wife, and protect Delores. When it’s determined that he’s glitching too badly to be repaired, he’s lobotomized, stuck in cold storage, and is then grabbed by Charlotte Hale and turned into a walking thumb drive with 30+ years of Delos research shoehorned into his head. Needless to say, he no longer has the processor cycles necessary to worry about looking after his wife, much less his herd, although he does briefly remember Dolores in S2E3. And Dolores/Wyatt is hellbent on conquering mankind and making them pay for their sins, so she’s doesn’t seem to be all that concerned about Mama’s whereabouts, either.

But that doesn’t change the fact that Mrs. Abernathy is still somewhere in Westworld. Moreover, since Dolores was with Teddy right before that climactic party in the last ep of Season One, we can hypothesize that the Abernathy homestead wasn’t targeted for assault that night since a major part of the “entertainment” was gone. So Mrs. Abernathy should still be alive and with Peter Mark II.

But the hosts are slowly gaining sentience and access to their memories from previous builds. If that’s true, wouldn’t Mrs. A wonder where the hell her daughter is? Would she realize that this “husband” isn’t the one she’d spent so many years with? Mightn’t she then go off in search of her family?

I completely understand why the \W/ writers wouldn’t focus on her — Maeve would be undertaking the mother’s journey to find her daughter, so Mrs. Abernathy (I keep wanting to call her Anna and picture her as being played by Diane Lane) wasn’t necessary to the plot. That doesn’t change the fact that she’s still out there, most likely intact, and may in fact be in search of Dolores and Peter, assuming she hasn’t been killed by the Ghost Nation or the Delos recovery teams.

I doubt this would happen, but it would be cool if she pops up somewhere down the line. Granted, she’d probably be used by Delos as a way of luring Delores into a trap, but maybe she’d stumble into whatever armed camp Dolores had taken over at that point only to discover that her sweet, art-loving daughter had turned into a ruthless revolutionary. There are all kinds of fun things the writers could do with that.