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And this is not a meme post, and it is still 1 AM and I should be in bed, but I have to write this anyway because I just finished Ancillary Justice today and if I do not publicly recommend it RIGHT AWAY then I am going to spend all my time for the next week buttonholing people and recommending it to them individually. To be fair I will probably do that anyway, but at least this way I can pretend that I'm lessening the impulse by getting it out here first. So the narrator and protagonist of Ancillary Justice is Justice of Toren, a warship of the Radchaai empire. Justice of Toren consists of a vast artifical intelligence deployed across hundreds of ancillary units. She's stationed at Ors, officially the last planet that will ever be annexed by the empire, which is changing A LOT of its policies lately - and Justice of Toren and Lieutenant Awn, one of her favorite officers, are about to get caught in the crossfire of that.Twenty years later, all that's left of Justice of Toren is the unit One Esk Nineteen. Instead of a vast linked consciousness, she has a single human body. Instead of her favorite lieutenant, she has a confused and unpleasant time-displaced drug addict she found dying in the snow, who coincidentally used to be one of her least favorite lieutenants before a wacky twist of fate sent said unpleasant lieutenant into a suspended animation pod for a thousand years. And instead of a calm sureness of purpose and commands to follow, she has a seething anger the size of -- well, a spaceship -- and a very strong need to make a choice, the kind of choice that will matter. If you've seen this book recced before, you have probably seen people talk about how it does things with gender and language and class and colonialism thoughtfully and well, and all of this is one hundred percent true. PLEASE READ IT FOR ALL THOSE THINGS. You may also have seen qian's post about the amazing id factor of SPACESHIP WITH FEELINGS. I agree, but I would like to add what is to me a really important extra id factor, which is that she is a REALLY JUDGY spaceship with JUDGY feelings. This delights my heart and soul! I love every single conversation along these lines:ONE ESK: *makes mild comment*OTHER PERSON: oh no u madONE ESK: ...I am very sure my face did not make an expression of any kindOTHER PERSON: no, but still, you're JUDGING ME! I can tell! Actually, this may seem like a strange comparison, but there are ways in which One Esk reminds me of Anthy Himemiya. Partly this is because of the way people treat her when she's a ship. Partly it is the passive aggression and the divided loyalties and the calm, simmering resentment. OF COURSE I LOVE HER. And I love, too, that is not striving for humanity, this is not that kind of story; there are many things she's striving for, but humanity is not one of them. Late in the book, various people try to convince her that she is human, and she's like "...no...you have a fundamental misunderstanding of me..." WHICH IS ALSO GREAT. It is not necessary to be human to have feelings or agency!( People who have read the book already, click here!Collapse )This entry is cross-posted at Livejournal from http://skygiants.dreamwidth.org/352931.html. Please feel free to comment here or there! There are currently comments on Dreamwidth.
So technically I am an hour late on rymenhild's December meme request to fanwank Kage Baker's Company novels in such a way as to preserve the awesome and jettison the OMGWTFBBQ, but given that I went straight from work to a six-hour car ride to DC I hope I will be forgiven!Okay, so the Company novels. What you need to understand about the Company books is that I discovered the first book, In the Garden of Iden, probably about a year after it was published in 1997. I was thirteen and fell head over heels for Mendoza, misanthropic teen cyborg botanist in Elizabeth England, and her doomed and tragic romance with a brilliant heretic, and her equally doomed and tragic semi-father-daughter-relationship with the cyborg who created her, and Kage Baker's dark and hilarious blend of incredibly well-researched historical fiction and deeply cynical science fiction dystopia populated with SO MANY SAD FASCINATING CYBORGS. I devoured each new book as it came out! I fell in love with every single side character introduced! I was more than happy to let Kage Baker spend forty pages describing a bunch of cyborgs MST3K-ing D.W. Griffith's Intolerance; that kind of thing was EXACTLY WHAT I WAS HERE FOR. In fact, it is not an exaggeration to say that Kage Baker and her massive nerdouts about film history are a significant part of the reason why I am right now a moving image archivist. I referenced these books in my entrance essay to grad school -- and to be clear, this was after the last couple books came out; I was at that point under no illusions. But there is no way for me to shake how important the Company books are to me and how many feelings I am ALWAYS GOING TO HAVE ABOUT THEM. But . . . the last couple books. Oh, the disappointing and quite frankly horrifying aspects of the last couple books. OH, MY OVERPOWERING DESIRE TO FEED EDWARD ALTON BELL-FAIRFAX, VICTORIAN DOUCHEBAG, TO THE CROCODILES. So how would I fanwank fix the series? Well, I could write out a detailed and thoughtful treatment that took into account all the threads of the plot, but that would probably require me to reread the last book, which to be honest I have mostly blocked out of my mind except for everything involving Lewis and Princess Tiana Parakeet and immortal cyborg William Randolph Hearst. So right now, at 1 AM after a very long car ride, my diagnosis is pretty simple:- MENDOZA FEEDS EDWARD ALTON BELL-FAIRFAX, VICTORIAN DOUCHEBAG, TO THE CROCODILES ROUND ABOUT THE MACHINE'S CHILD, AND EVERYTHING IS BETTER(And then think of all the things a Mendoza liberated from the awful warping factor of Edward Alton Bell-Fairfax could do! She could go rekindle her friendship with Nan! She could plot revolution with Latif and Suleyman! She could sort out her relationship with Joseph! Hell, she could go hang out and shoot the breeze with Juan Bautista and his thirty pet birds and THAT WOULD MAKE FOR AN INFINITELY BETTER AND MORE REWARDING STORY than any plotline she had in the last two books.)This entry is cross-posted at Livejournal from http://skygiants.dreamwidth.org/352632.html. Please feel free to comment here or there! There are currently comments on Dreamwidth.
Mount Arenal, Costa Rica.
I’m told that about 70% of Costa Rica’s tourists visit here.
Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.
So, St. Nicholas gave us the Triforce bundle Nintendo 3DS after we demonstrated how good we are at cooperation by all putting a third of the price into a pot. I've only played with it a little (through the first dungeon), but I'm really liking the Zelda game. A Link to the Past is in my top three favorite Zelda games. A Link Between Worlds isn't A Link to the Past, but it's familiar enough to be... well, familiar. So far, it does a really good job of including classic and easily recognizable Zelda elements like the Tektites and Octoroks while channeling some of the more freeform zaniness of the later games. The "item rental" mechanc is... interesting. I don't know how much I like it, but then, I also don't know how big a part of the game it is.I have to say, I've never been impressed with the 3D feature when I tried it in stores, but I guess either it's just hard to get a comfortable viewing distance when the device is tethered to a stand. Or maybe they've improved the hardware since the original 3DS... or maybe it just works better with a bigger screen, since this is one of the XL ones. Whatever the case, I was surprised at how easy it was to get and keep it at a comfortable viewing distance just sitting with the game in my lap. It really looks like I'm watching the action inside a magic box or something. Some people have reported headaches and/or eyestrain from playing it in 3D mode. I haven't exactly done a stress test yet, but I didn't notice any problem.I'll say this, too: it's certainly the prettiest gaming device we have.This entry automatically cross-posted from http://alexandraerin.dreamwidth.org/519242.html. Comment hither or thither. Void where yon.
http://www.monicaraqs.com/Amel2014.htmlAmel Tafsout WorkshopsStart off 2014 right with Amel Tafsout in Northern California!Saturday, January 25, 20141:30PM to 5PMSan Francisco, CaliforniaA Journey to Al AndalusTechnique, Costuming, Singing, and Rhythms to develop a deeper understanding of Andalusian Court Dance( More details behind the cutCollapse )
This past Sunday night, I spent a bit of time sobbing over Judy Schachner's Facebook status. You see, it featured a photo of a curiously seated but very direct-looking Siamese cat, and the following information: "Tink - We loved you to Bits & Pieces 1992 - 2013". Why was I so affected by the death of someone else's cat? It was because of Judy's wonderful new book, Bits & Pieces, which made me feel like I "knew" Tink.The book provides a pretty good summary sort of bio of Tink, a funny guy without much of a brain (or at least that's how he's described), with a curious way of sitting.As a young cat, Tink eats a lot of things he ought not (including, apparently, a slinky), buying himself a trip to the vet. During that trip, Tink became enthralled with the idea of being outdoors, and spent years trying to sneak his way out. Until one day, on his 20th birthday, he does just that.The book details Tink's outdoor adventure and eventual rescue. It is a simply told story with wonderful illustrations, and I fell in love with it on first reading at a local Barnes & Noble. But I held off buying it until the following weekend, when I made a special trip to Children's Book World in Haverford, PA to hear Judy read her book aloud and get myself a signed copy. I have since read the book several times, trying to figure out just what I love so much about this book. It's the simplicity of the story, I think, coupled with the realistic kitty details and affectionate telling. And my response to the news of Tink's death this past weekend is, I believe, a tribute to the power of picture books to create connections between readers and the characters therein. It's You can listen to Judy read her book too:
1. Busy times, my darlings! I spent the Thanksgiving week mostly muttering to myself, wearing various pairs of pajamas, eating low-fat red velvet-flavored ice cream sandwiches, and having weird story-related dreams. In other words: turning around the final revision pass on the circus book. And that revision has been slain, book delivered to super-wonderful editor and publisher, along with dedication and acknowledgements. That's right: GIRL ON A WIRE is in, and on to copy edits. I'm really excited (and only moderately terrified) for you guys to read this one next year. Then I polished up a proposal and sent it off to agent for a look. And and and I will start working in earnest anon on the TOP SECRET PROJECT, meaning very, very soon, and I'm really looking forward to that. No rest for the wicked.
2. That said, I am attempting to make space for more concentration on noveling and related activities, because, well, they require it, and that's where I need and want to be spending as much time as possible. Which means that while I'll still do other freelance stuff as it appeals and I can, I'm turning in my final reviews to Locus later this month. It's sad whenever you have to give up a gig that allows you to work with such genuinely lovely and awesome people as the Locus staff (who also gave me such freedom in choosing what books to write about). But, alas, I just don't have the time or, really, honestly, the inclination to do the job as it should be done any longer. It's been an absolute pleasure, though. And the good news for you, blog readers, is that this almost certainly means I'll talk more about books here again, since I can't quit that.
3. Want to buy some books for those who need them this holiday season? The Ballou Sr. High School has a wish list of holiday books for its library you can find out all about over at Guys Lit Wire (I did my shopping last night) and Oblong Books does a great Book Angel program every year, where they let people make a donation that goes directly to gifting a new book to a local kid who might not get one otherwise and I believe all you have to do is phone them up to participate. I'm sure there are many more such opportunities out there. I'll be making our annual donation of new books we don't have room for to a program that provides them to foster children this week.
4. The fabulous Colleen Mondor included a glow-inducing review of THE WOKEN GODS in her December column--her hundredth (*cue applause*)--at Bookslut. Congratulations on the achievement, Colleen, and for everything you do to bring attention to books and reading (like the aforementioned Ballou book fair!). Gratuitous review snippet: "The Woken Gods is a fast-paced tonic for curious readers who seek multi-layered mysteries and a salute to smart under-appreciated kids everywhere. ... Bond has her characters growing up in a strange new world, in a bold brave way. The Woken Gods is one mighty fun read, and thus a perfect respite from holiday madness. Smart equals good in any adventure, and this is a very good read."
5. I really will start posting here again with a bit more regularity. I promise. In fact, I'm just about to undertake a little site make-over in the near future and a shiny new design always encourages posting. Right? Right. Have a great weekend, and stay safe if you (like us) are in the path of Storm of Doom Cleon. I suspect it's just mad at being named Cleon instead of, say, Cleopatra.
Sort of. I still have a paper and a half left to write. And I won't officially graduate (and so have to continue paying fees) for another six months, during which I have to attend one hour every other week of case discussion, due to the traineeship situation.But in terms of classes, as of yesterday at 10:00 PM, I am officially DONE!Crossposted to http://rachelmanija.dreamwidth.org/1126700.html. Comment here or there.
A number of you probably know about this by now, but: NPR has included A Natural History of Dragons in their Best of Year . . . Venn diagaram . . . Oort cloud . . . not-actually-a-list . . . thingy.Basically, although it looks like a list, what they've done is go the tag route. That's the "science fiction and fantasy" tag, but if you click on ANHoD there, you'll find it's also tagged "love stories," "for history lovers," and "it's all geek to me." (You can also read Annalee Newitz' recommendation.) Anyway, this is pretty awesome -- like, "it has apparently had a measurable effect on sales" levels of awesome.Plus there's also this: A Natural History of Dragons was picked as one of the top 15 books of the year by Slate.com's book editor Dan Kois. Put that together with the Goodreads semifinalist thing, and the fact that there are still new reviews coming in at a steady pace, and, well, see the title of the post. Quite chuffed. Quite, quite chuffed. It's good encouragement to have as I tackle the dreaded Middle of the Book for #3.This entry was also posted at http://swan-tower.dreamwidth.org/604026.html. Comment here or there.
This is a big one: the typewriter on which I wrote LOST SOULS (and a bunch of other stuff), with certificate of authenticity. Winner also gets a signed/personalized hardcover first edition of Lost Souls. Reserve is $200.http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=121230673509
Tabitha at Writer Musings led me to this article on "Tough Love" for writers.And as usual with most writing advice, I agree in part and disagree in part. I do think that most of us overestimate the quality of our work when we first start out. I do think that rigorous revising is important, and that most writers have no idea when they embark upon a project just how much editing it will need. I've also found that it's often difficult for us to critique our own work at the level it needs.But maybe all that is nature's way of protecting us, of keeping us from curling up in the fetal position and giving up before we even begin.I've always needed that confidence--even if it qualifies as overconfidence--to write anything in the first place. The first draft is all about mental cheerleading for me.And then I let the inner critic out of the trunk where he hides out during drafting, and unleash him on my manuscript. And later still, I invite other critiquers in. Not with the ego-shattering force that the article describes, but with a willingness to delete anything that doesn't belong. I don't need people to come down on me "like a ton of bricks," "[tear] my stories to shreds and [throw] them back at me ... shatter[ing] my ego ..." The fact is, it's not about my ego at all. It's about the story. What makes it a better story? Where is the plot unbelievable or slow? Which scenes are contributing nothing? It's not personal. My book is not me.I do sometimes get upset over criticism, but that's mostly because it means I have a lot more work to do, and sometimes I don't see right away how on earth I'm going to fix everything. Critique is not a judgment of me; it's a to-do list. And whining over to-do lists is part of my process--not the most glamorous part, to be sure, but the part that clears out the sludge of my resistance so the words can flow again. Look, it's not fun to rewrite seven chapters that you thought you were done with, or switch the whole thing to a different POV, or cut the book in half and rewrite the ending. It's much more fun to hear that you're a literary genius and you don't have to rewrite a word.But praise is no good unless it's true, and praise alone doesn't help most writers grow. Rejecting all criticism usually doesn't help much either. On that, I agree with the article.I suppose where I come down in the end is that we need a balance of praise and criticism to keep us going and keep us writing well. That mix varies from writer to writer and even from day to day. Whatever works.
This week a lot of things happened on Reign in its very first bottle episode; don't worry, they still managed to squeeze in a party, some dresses, and Catherine's face. (I got to sub in at the AV Club for this episode as well, so if you want all the actual details, start there.) "Left Behind," not to be confused with the movie, had maybe the most Catherine of any episode so far (that's good!). There was absolutely no Nostradamus (that's bad! At the AV Club I reveal he was probably just playing hide and seek, but seriously, how am I supposed to watch Cathy and the Proph like this). Mary tried some high-pressure statecraft after everyone's taken hostage by the Italian Count (that's good!). Almost none of it worked (a brief flicker of historical accuracy). Instead, Catherine poisons everybody who gave her any trouble (also accurate). And it had two separate instances of rape threats at Mary, plus extra rape threats for all her ladies (that is not good, particularly since that is now like the third plot that has been entirely about sexually threatening Mary! Maybe we could just not, show!).Costumewise, there was a lot to work with, but it also brought home that my rubric for how things look on this show is probably permanently skewed. For instance, after a glimpse at Olivia's C-roll handmaiden cadre: I actually read them as a step down on the class ladder from Mary's handmaidens, which is maybe meant to be accurate but also seems such a bizarre thing to be internally consistent about. Particularly since the show's actual inability to parse anything ever continued with gusto, since Greer got caught in the kitchens when the castle was taken hostage and pretended to be a servant, except here she is next to handmaiden Madysyn: And she's wearing a chiffon chemise and an impeccably tailored bodice in what looks like silk dupioni, which means the essential difference between a servant and a noble is an updo and some earrings. So why would I think one bunch of handmaidens is more casually dressed for daytime than another group of handmaidens! I have NO EVIDENCE for this. WHAT'S HAPPENING TO ME. Here, have a shot of everyone in modern dresses, with Lola in the back wearing a dress that has both a bolero shrug jacket AND a belted skirt-drape: Whew, that feels better.And yet! ( We've only just begun.Collapse )
a very simple painting from last night.
when i was pregnant with sweet pea, i painted
many orchids, and found the flow and twist of the
brush necessary to paint the orchid leaves very calming.
the leaves were such an elegant subject, more beautiful to
me than the flowers themselves. this is not an orchid flower
but they are orchid leaves.
i had wanted to add a sparrow or a bug on the leaf and my
teacher forbade me. that is a rare thing!
Shadow Gate by Kate Elliott
Mirrored from Cindy Pon.
If I had peace to sit and sing, Then I could make a lovely thing; But I am stung with goads and whips, So I build songs like iron ships. Let it be something for my song,If it is sometimes swift and strong.- The Singer by Anna WickhamView all posts tagged as Poetry Friday at Bildungsroman.View the roundup schedule at A Year of Reading.Learn more about Poetry Friday.
The ongoing discussion about diversity in fiction is, well, ongoing; that's sort of what ongoing discussions do. (Also, I have been neck-deep in edits for the past month, so the fact that I used "ongoing" three times in the prior sentence feels deliciously naughty.) On the one side, you have people saying "representation matters." On the other side, you have people saying that the urge for diversity in fiction is "selfie culture" (and somehow that's bad?), and that fiction should show us new things, not just be "a representative of the self," and that it's "jarring" when they encounter "minority characters" who don't somehow fit a list of cultural and social ticky-boxes that would justify those characters existing as anything other than straight, white, male. "Cis" doesn't even need to be spoken. There's no way a trans* character could exist for any reason other than to talk about their genitals, and that would be the ultimate in jarring, thanks.And people wonder why I spend so much time wanting to set the world on fire.I think it's very telling that the people who say it's wrong to want representation in fiction are almost overwhelmingly white. If I want to read about white people having amazing adventures and doing incredible things, being heroes and villains, simple and complicated, handsome and hideous, loved and hated, all I need to do is pick up a book at random. There is a literally 90% chance that I will get all those things from whatever book I've chosen, especially if I'm going for the "classic literature" of the science fiction/fantasy/horror world. 90%! And that may honestly be low-balling the number! If I were a straight white man, of course I wouldn't see any issue with representation in fiction—I'd be on every page I turned! Even as a straight white woman, I'd be on a lot of pages, even if half those pages would have me either naked or screaming (or both, if I had happened to grab a Gor book). There's no problem with representation here!But I've never been a straight white man. I've never been a straight white girl, either. I was a bisexual kid with a lot of questions and not very many answers, and it wasn't until I encountered ElfQuest that I actually felt like I saw myself on a page. No, I didn't think I was an elf, although I sort of wished I was, because elves are awesome, but it was Cutter and Leetah and the rest who introduced me to the idea that I could love boys and girls, and not be a bad person. I wasn't indecisive or wicked. I just had a lot of love to give, and my set of criteria for who got it wasn't based on gender.Let me restate that: I was already bi. I had already been attracted to girls, guys, and a kid in my class who went by "Pup" and refused to be pinned down to either gender (and my second grade teacher never forced Pup to commit either way, which was pretty damn cool of her, given that this was the 1980s). Books did not make me choose my sexuality; books told me a) that my sexuality existed, and b) that it was okay, it was natural, it was not proof that there was something wrong with me. And especially in grade school/middle school, sexuality is invisible in a way that very little else is. No one knew I was queer until I came out. It wasn't even a matter of openly hiding it; sex wasn't on the table, I didn't feel like sharing, I didn't share. No one knew that I was different. Everyone thought that when they read their books about little white girls having adventures, they were reading about me, too.You know what's not invisible? Race. "I don't see race" is bull. When we read those books about little white kids having amazing adventures, we knew that it was white kids having adventures, because adventures are for white people. At the age of eight, we all understood that our non-white classmates were not represented in the books we read, and very few of us had the sophistication to jump to "this is a lack of representation." Instead, we jumped to "I guess Oz doesn't like black people." Because books shape your view of the world, books remake you in their image, and the books we had said little white kids go on adventures, little kids of any other race are nowhere to be seen.This is a problem.So some of us grew up, and for whatever reason—maybe it affected us directly, maybe it affected our friends, maybe it was just pointed out—we started trying to show a world that looked more like the world we actually lived in, where everything wasn't a monoculture. And for some reason, this is being taken as a threat. How dare you want little Asian kids to go on adventures. How dare you want queer teenagers to save the world. How dare you imply that transwomen can be perfectly ordinary, perfectly competent people who just want to not get eaten by the dinosaur that's been eating everyone else. That's selfie culture, that's diversity for the sake of diversity, that's wrong. And after a great deal of consideration, I have come to this conclusion:If that's what you think, you can go fuck yourself.That's not politic, and it's not nice, and it may cause a couple of people to go "what a bitch, I'm done," but I don't fucking care. Because I am tired of people needing to thank me for making an effort. I am tired of receiving email that says it was distracting when so-and-so turned out to be gay, or asking why I have Indian characters in three separate series (and the fact that having an Indian woman show up and never speak a line is apparently enough to put Indexing on the same level as Blackout for some people just makes me weep for humanity). I am tired of "oh you feel like you're so open-minded" because I write about gay people, bi people, poly people, people who are exactly like the people that I know. I want to be unremarkable for my casting choices, and only remarkable for my characters being awesome (because let's face it, my characters are awesome).A lack of representation in fiction leads to a lack of self-esteem, because selfie culture is important: we need to see ourselves, and the people who keep trying to dismiss that as somehow selfish or greedy or narcissistic are the ones who've had a mirror held up to them for so long that they don't even see it anymore. White becomes so generic, so default, that it's not mentioned when describing a character ("blonde hair, blue eyes" vs. "oh, she's black, of course, that's the biggest thing"). Humanity is huge and diverse and amazing, and saying that only a small, approved sliver of it belongs in fiction is a dick move. If diversity is distracting, it's because it's so rare.We can fix that.
There are books dog-eared, opened, marked with weird bits of paper and perhaps fluids you would not like to think too clearly about strewn about the house.
“Just one last page,” lasts for two hours at night, and the light never goes off. Buy yourself a face mask because otherwise you will never get any sleep.
The annual family budget for books exceeds the budget for gas, movies, and cable television combined.
There is a “books are to be read at the dinner table” policy firmly enforced.
Having three copies of a beloved book is not too much of a good thing.
A book signed by the author can never be given away, no matter how bad it actually turned out to be.
The library is the most common destination for date night events.
The world revolved around release dates for books rather than movies.
You have to sit through an extensive revision of every book, movie or TV show you've ever admitted to liking.
You have never chosen a book yourself, because you already have a TBR pile nearly as big as a writer's, and if you don't finish the books suggested, you get that pouty look.
Largely yanked from my Facebook page. Feel free to comment over there or right here. :)Jasmine Lunamadre asks the following: What mythological creature do you take the most inspiration from and why?Kettle's on. Make yourselves comfortable.We live in a world rich with stories. Magical or mythical creatures and folk have always fascinated me. It started with the Greek myths, when I was about eight years old. The women on my mother's side of the family, my elders, are all beautiful, brilliant, and I think just a little wicked.The foremost of these in my mind is my great aunt Jane in Louisiana. Jane has been my standard of beauty since I was small- she is redhaired and classy, quick to smile.It doesn't hurt that I'm named after her; she's the J in S. J.My fondest memories of Jane are wrapped around the fact that she made a point to bring me books whenever she was close enough to visit. The most treasured and oft revisited of these gifts was a collection of Greek myths called The Golden Fleece. I still have it. Yup. That was me at eight. Reading about Zeuss transforming into swans and being very naughty. What captured my young imagination most were the seemingly half-human folk in these stories, Medusa and the Minotaur in particular.I love that I've made so many friends in my adult life who love these stories too. When I think of all the creative people I know who strongly identify with Gorgons and Minotaurs...the list is long, and most everyone on it makes me smile.Imagine my joy when I found a spiritual community in the Northwest, filled with people who work with the Greek gods in the here and now! ATC peeps, you rock my world!Back to my childhood, and more half human folk. Mermaids. The Last Unicorn. And of course, dragons. Smaug, Puff, Pern, Custard, The Reluctant Dragon, and so many other grand stories and beasts. Nowadays, it's Temeraire who's my favorite. Look up Naomi Novik if you're interested. Also Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, which is a delightful, dragon-heavy novel that has a lot of social relevance to it.More than anything in my grown self, it's the shapeshifters who captivate me. Coyote and Anansi and Loki. My beloved Selkies. A Were-owl or two. Tattercoats and Tam Lin. Red Riding Hood and her shadowy lupine family history. I'll own that this is because I've been accused of being a shapeshifter myself- sometimes in fun, sometimes in all seriousness. It helps to be able to transform, at least from character to character, when you're up on a stage. And who doesn't want a moment to feel a little bit special, a little bit magical, a little bit dangerous, or a little bit different?So here's to those of us who prefer to see wonder in the world. Here's to those of us who love and devour the strangest, oldest stories. Here's to looking for the extraordinary in our daily lives.I'd love to know how YOU would answer this question. Fire away. Oh. And I forgot to mention, in my original post, the time when the wisest of my Minotaur sisters was inspired to write me into one of her beautiful stories- as the reflection of a girl who wanted nothing more than to be just like the Firebird who raised her. <3
I've always suspected that when people say that they hate the shaky cam in The Hunger Games, part of what they mean isn't shaky-cam shots, but the editing. Because the editing of The Hunger Games is weird. Cuts come a little sooner or a little later than you expect. You get wide landscape shots when you expect close-ups. The rhythm is odd, off-kilter. Things feel disjunctive, disorienting. It feels like Katniss's stride, long but careful; like her wary hunter's attention, her broad background awareness and abrupt microfocus. It feels like the entire movie is made to the rhythm of Katniss ducking through a rip in a chain-link fence. Arguably, movies are always made to the rhythm of human breath, but most movies are made to the breathing of a person at rest, or in conversation, or in a sprint. The Hunger Games is made to the rhythm of a cross-country runner, the finish line nowhere in sight; a runner breathing extra deep but not extra fast, clear-headed. It makes the movie feel odd. Isolated, internal, personal. I miss that in Catching Fire. This isn't to say that I dislike Catching Fire, because I like it a lot. But the editing is more standard, more commercial; invisible, because what you're used to is invisible. And it's not bad. (Clearly, a lot of people think it is, in fact, better.) But it's less weird, and I miss the weirdness.
The Daily ReportSo, I just made a post about scheduling. Originally it was going to be part of this post, but I realized it was going to get long. And also that I haven't been doing much blogging since the move beyond making my status posts, which is bad for maintaining the habits of both self-awareness and writing.I did get up at 8 this morning rather than 10. I spent about an hour thinking about the schedule thing and then making the preceding post, and now I'm making my status post and should be actually in the saddle (though it's not an actual saddle) by 10. So that's progress.I don't have much else to say in this space, having gotten my schedule-thoughts out already. I'm in good shape considering I had a chapter yesterday that I didn't feel I could do justice to in a single night. It's got almost 2,000 words. They're good words, they're just not a complete thought. And an amazing thing happened last night: I dreamed about the chapter. I both dreamed about writing it and dreamed about the things happening in it. It's been a while since I've dreamed about my work. Large parts of the dream don't actually mesh with the reality of the chapter, although they made sense in the dream. But even if there were no tidbits I could use in my waking life, I think it's an encouraging sign about the virtue of sleeping on it.The State of the MeDoing alright. The shift of getting up two hours earlier is actually pretty gentle, because it's more a shift in getting up than in waking up. I might be feeling it a little bit later in the day.Plans For TodayWell, having this posted up by 10 is my first plan, and that mission is looking pretty accomplished. My main thing for today is to finish up the next chapter. That's not an all-day job, but I've got some miscellaneous things relating to people's fundraiser perks to work on, too.This entry automatically cross-posted from http://alexandraerin.dreamwidth.org/518944.html. Comment hither or thither. Void where yon.
I don’t know about you, but I’m tired and ready for some things to smile about.
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
One of the worse habits I have is not talking about my problems until they reach critical mass. It's a habit I somehow acquired when I was young, then honed throughout an adulthood where I spent a lot of time quietly swallowing frustration in my personal life in order to maintain peace. Sometimes my more helpful habit of keeping a positive outlook and trying to radiate confidence (writing and sharing that writing takes a lot of confidence) interacts with this in a negative way, making me even less likely to talk about problems that have to do with writing.The three workday writing cycle thing I've been trying for the last few chapters? It isn't working. My thinking when I started it was that three days would be enough because it would average out to the same number of days I had with the four day cycle, accounting for the weekends... but when the four day cycle really worked was when I was in Nebraska and didn't have anything to do on the weekends, so I just worked through them. Turning it into a three-day cycle basically makes every chapter come out hurried and harried.It's kind of obvious in retrospect. As much as the four day cycle had worked and worked great with my life in Nebraska (where I had no life), doing it in Maryland inevitably resulted in wheel-spinning and frustration. And "3 days, no weekends" just gives me that kind of pace, all the time.I know I've only been doing it for a few chapters, but it has been a stressful and frustrating couple of weeks. Two work days out of three are very high pressure. Writing being brain work, being stressed out about it makes it harder, which compounds the time crunch. This time around I tried to fix it by spending less time thinking about the chapter on day 1 and more time writing, to spread out the labor... but stealing writing time from development time doesn't improve the writing.So last night I was looking at another late night (which this change was supposed to help prevent) and another chapter that even if I had finished yesterday I wouldn't have been happy with. And I've barely accomplished anything else this week, either. And I made a decision.I feel mixed about this decision. I wasn't mixed about the three day cycle idea when I launched it... I felt entirely pleased about it. But it has the drawback of not really working. The sailing for the first chapter was deceptively smooth, but I'd already tried writing that chapter once and so it had the benefit of a longer development time. I haven't been thrilled about any chapter I've written since then, though.Every time I shuffle the schedule around, I remind myself that quality should be the top priority and then consistency, with speed coming in third... but I still feel this pressure to try for speed, because it worked before (when I was younger, had more energy, and lower standards, I remind myself), and because my model for this was webcomics that update 3 or 5 times a week... but as much as MU is like a webcomic, it's not a comic. If only four panels' worth of stuff happened each time, I could update every day. It would take a huge amount of comic updates to cover the events of a single chapter.But still the pressure remains. In the years leading up to this move, I'd entertained the fantasy that the changes it would bring to my life would let me recapture the frenetic speed of writing and posting I'd maintained when I started... but I think that really is a fantasy, and one I need to let go of. I wasn't "maintaining" anything, I was burning myself out, and now I'm that much older and I honestly think I used something of myself up back in those days.So here's where I am... three things are undeniably true. One is that the best quality and consistency of chapters I've written were under the four day plan, during times when each chapter had a full four days (meaning, when I didn't have a life that came with weekends). Two is that quality is (or should be) my top priority, followed by consistency of schedule, followed by frequency of updates. Three is that I need my evenings and weekends. I moved here to be with my family, not to work in an office adjacent to them.The logical answer... the only answer... is to go back to the four day process, but four week days, not four calendar days. This is going to mean updates will come at most about once a week... maybe once a week period, in order to build in padding and make the update fall on the same day every week. But it will also mean they will be better quality on average, as well as longer on average, and the overarching story will be more coherent.So I'm taking another day to finish the chapter I'm working on (bringing it up to four days total), and then next week... well, I'm not sure. I'll either say forget the calendar and go to an every four week days schedule, or make it once a week. I think I'll start with every four work days and see how people like the update day jumping around... in terms of updates per week, it will be several weeks before there would be a difference.I was very happy with the four day schedule, during the times that I actually had four days per chapter. I was happy with my work both in the sense that I liked working and I liked what the work produced. I only abandoned it because I was spending as much time in Maryland (where it didn't make sense) as I was in Nebraska. I'll be making a more concise, less thought-process-y post about this for the MU blog later after the chapter goes up, but I wanted to work my way through this on my personal blog first.This entry automatically cross-posted from http://alexandraerin.dreamwidth.org/518684.html. Comment hither or thither. Void where yon.
Among the many good things Mandela did, he advocated for the release of Timorese freedom-fighter Xanana Gusmão from prison:
Mandela not only called for the release of Xanana Gusmao, but also insisted on meeting with the latter – and got his way […] Soeharto at first refused Mandela’s request to meet Xanana with the question ‘Why do you want to meet him? He is only a common criminal.’ When Mandela responded by saying ‘that is exactly what they said about me for 25 years,’ Soeharto promptly and magnanimously responded by arranging for Xanana to be brought from prison to the State Guest House for an intimate dinner with Mandela.--Jamsheed Marker, East Timor: A Memoir of the Negotiations for Independence, quoted in Aboeprijadi Santoso, “Mandela, Indonesia and the liberation of Timor Leste,” Jakarta Post, 22 July 2013
For the last four days, the Whatever Shopping Guide 2013 has been about helping you find the perfect gifts for friends and loved ones. But today I’d like to remind folks that the season is also about helping those in need. So this final day is for charities. If you’re looking for a place to make a donation — or know of a charitable organization that would gladly accept a donation — this is the place for it.
How to contribute to this thread:
1. Anyone can contribute. If you are associated with or work for a charity, tell us about the charity. If there’s a charity you regularly contribute to or like for philosophical reasons, share with the crowd. This is open to everyone.
2. Focus on non-political charities, please. Which is to say, charities whose primary mission is not political — so, for example, an advocacy group whose primary thrust is education but who also lobbies lawmakers would be fine, but a candidate or political party or political action committee is not. The idea here is charities that exist to help people and/or make the world a better place for all of us.
Also, informal charities and fundraisers are fine, but please do your part to make sure you’re pointing people to a legitimate fundraiser and not a scam.
3. One post per person. In that post, you can list whatever charities you like, and more than one charity. Note also that the majority of Whatever’s readership is in the US/Canada, so I suggest focusing on charities available in North America.
4. Keep your description of the charity brief (there will be a lot of posts, I’m guessing) and entertaining. Imagine the person is in front of you as you tell them about the charity and is interested but easily distracted.
5. You may include a link to a charity site if you like by using standard HTML link scripting. Be warned that if you include too many links (typically three or more) your post may get sent to the moderating queue. If this happens, don’t panic: I’ll be going in through the day to release moderated posts. Note that posts will occasionally go into the moderation queue semi-randomly; Don’t panic about that either.
6. Comment posts that are not about people promoting charities they like will be deleted, in order to keep the comment thread useful for people looking to find charities to contribute to.
All right, then: It’s the season of giving. Tell us where to give to make this a better place.
I listed a bunch of new artwork on PZBART last night, including this piece since folks seemed to like my other black cat:"Black Cat 2," acrylic on canvas, 8" x 10", $45https://www.etsy.com/listing/171980748/original-painting-by-poppy-z-brite-black?ref=shop_home_feat
Did my last presentation!! \o/ I even put together an intensely picture-overloaded PowerPoint. People seemed to like it. Most of it was me ranting about the lack of scholarship on Asian-American superhero characters. I didn't realize we were only going to talk 15 minutes so during the first presentation I was cutting out parts from my paper and had to riff, even. Afterwards some of my classmates and I went to the bar to hang out and it was just so nice to spend hours just chatting. I'm so tired now but it was worth it.I'm also now at page 14 of my paper. Doing the close reading bits now. Trying to formulate how to say things without belaboring anything.Tomorrow is the last day of instruction! Huzzah!Had lunch with one of my students today. It was a good lunch at the nearby Chinese cafe. Her dad knows the owner too, and she had to show a picture to the owner and it was fun. We talked Sleepy Hollow (she's writing her final paper on it).This entry was originally posted at http://jhameia.dreamwidth.org/105363.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
I keep writing about robots again. Mostly poems. We'll see what happens to any of them. One of them is actually somewhat long, but the other is about four lines of four words each.I've been reading up on math, particularly the connections between math and art, particularly the proceedings/papers from the Bridges conference. They are wonderful and interesting papers. I especially like any to do with using math and art to show people beauty (that of math, that of art, that of the connections.) Bridges discusses all forms of art/culture and the connections to math. I'd really love to attend someday.
Writing lets you have the one thing that society offers in theory and obliterates in practice: self-determination. When I write, I escape [hard-and-fast roles as wife, mother, teacher, writer, black woman, British citizen]. My solid self disperses. I can be everyone in fiction. Writing is a de-selfing activity.
Sometimes, you really, really can't make this stuff up.( Spoilers for NBC's Sound of Music Live with Carrie Underwood and tonight's episode of Scandal.Collapse )
Hi everyone! I finally created a pattern for my pit bull dog ornaments. I'm giving it away free for anyone to use as they please. Happy Holidays!( Link to full pattern/instructions and postCollapse )
For the 5th on the December meme, shati asked me to write about placentas. Here is what you need to know about placentas: one time three or four years ago Shati came to visit me. The plan was to spend the whole weekend watching Ugly Betty. Instead we spent about 20% of the weekend watching Ugly Betty, 30% of the weekend detailing elaborate and implausible crossovers between Angel and Ugly Betty (I can't remember how any of them went but THEY WERE GREAT and way better than Angel sans Ugly Betty crossover), 10% of the weekend drinking margaritas, and 40% of the weekend shrieking incomprehensible bad jokes about placentas. The reasons for this are lost in the sands of time. What are placentas? We just don't know. (We do, actually, know. But Shati refuses to believe that we do.)This entry is cross-posted at Livejournal from http://skygiants.dreamwidth.org/352499.html. Please feel free to comment here or there! There are currently comments on Dreamwidth.
The Saturday before Thanksgiving, my comic shop had a signing for Andy Price, the artist for the My Little Pony comic. It was a lot of fun, we had pony fans old and new alike, and even better, we collected a ton of toys for Toys for Tots. I also bought two prints from Andy myself: 1966 Batman and Robin and a cheeky group-shot of Big Barda, Wonder Woman, and Powergirl. (Big Barda is what made me choose that one. Mister Miracle was one of the first comics I was really fascinated by, partially because it upended how relationships were portrayed in all my other comics: Mister Miracle was small and lithe, depending on acrobatics to save the day. His wife, Barda, was the bruiser, at least a foot taller than her husband, who excelled at punishing people.) In finally got some time to frame and hang them, giving them a place of pride above my bookshelves.