Single digits mean layers. Negative single digits mean the dog does not get walked. These are the rules.
Yesterday I saw a day-glo unicycling ninja. It was someone clearly dressed as a ninja, with the head wrap and everything, but over top of the ninjasuit he/she had put a large day-glo green fleece pullover, presumably so as not to die of cold and to avoid being hit by a car while out unicycling. Still and all. My wishes for camera phones are exceptionally rare, but rather vehement when they do occur. I thought of you people. I thought you might like to see the day-glo unicycling ninja. I know I did.
There is no actual death match in this post. I just put it in there because it seemed like that was how that title went. In a story I would squint at it and either take it out of the title or put it into the story, but I'm not going to take off half my clothes and go hunt down the ninja for some smackdown, and I'm sorry if you're disappointed by that.
If you have a subscription to Baen's Universe, or if you buy one now, you can salve your disappointment by reading "Singing Them Back." I am very pleased with the artwork. I think it evokes the story nicely, and that's what I'm going for in artwork. Direct illustration is, in my opinion, highly overrated. What I want is for the idea to be evoked. Neither character nor setting are directly representative, but I don't think they should be, because then you get into long discussions of, "Her jaw is wider, no, not quite so wide as that, and that's the wrong kind of lichen completely," and how is this important to the purpose of having artwork with a story in the first place? By which I mean that Karin doesn't look a thing like the woman in the illustrations -- she is a good deal fairer and sturdier and has more jaw and...um...well, the thing is, Karin is quite explicitly Norwegian, and the woman in the illustrations is quite definitely not. But when they asked me if I liked them, I said yes, and I was telling the truth. The girl in the pictures they drew looks like she feels like Karin feels in the story I wrote. Does this make sense? This is not a rhetorical question: am I making sense to you, on the subject of evoking vs. illustrating a story? We refer to them as "illustrations," but I think that way lies madness and the infinite mailing list arguments about whether the dragon on the cover has exactly the right pattern of scale pigment compared to the one in the book. Better to appreciate the way the arms and the head are held, to appreciate the visual piece for what it is instead of trying to make it a direct representation that it isn't. It's like...um. It's like trying to represent something from the surface of a sphere on the surface of a saddle: both are two dimensional, but the curvature of the geometry is quite different, so you're not going to have something exact, so what you want is something decently analogous, reasonably reminiscent, and that is what I have, and so I am happy.
And that is more than I meant to say on that subject, so now I will go do a million and one other things.