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Jul. 25th, 2017 09:30 pm
skygiants: Anthy from Revolutionary Girl Utena holding a red rose (i'm the witch)
[personal profile] skygiants
[personal profile] jothra went to a library sale last week and asked if I had any requests: "Weird 70s Gothics? Trixie, Belden?"

"WEIRD 70S GOTHICS PLEASE," I said, and Jo duly carried out her commission so well that I don't know if anybody's ever going to top it:



Portrait in Jig-Saw is apparently so obscure it doesn't even have a Goodreads page, which, having read it, I can honestly now say is kind of a shame.

Our Heroine's name is Alixander David Somerlaid MacDonald (I KNOW), otherwise known as Alisdair; she is a Strictly Sheltered Heiress who has been raised in a Freezing Castle in Complete Isolation and Solitude with only occasional visits from her father until she comes of age on her 21st birthday.

...for the record, the year is 1973.

My legit favorite part about these spoilers is that the entire plot relies on an alternate universe where the world's most famous postmodern novelist is a Thai princess, I want to live in THAT universe! )

old gods and archaeology

Jul. 25th, 2017 08:54 pm
thanate: (Default)
[personal profile] thanate
This article is mostly about addressing archaeology as a continuation of the cultures of native populations instead of ignoring the people who live there to "discover" things the locals already know. (Not an issue I ever dealt with, given that most of the sites I dug up were from displaced or otherwise no longer local people on a much shorter timescale.) But it took me weeks to read it because I kept having to stop and glory in this bit at the beginning:

As we were eating, Don Cipriano, the oldest of the Pech and an expert on the region’s archaeological sites and forests, asked if I had heard the lost city legend—the one about La Ciudad Blanca, or the White City. “I have heard the stories,” I said. Everyone in the region has heard them.

“It’s nearby,” he told me. “Just up this river, up on top of a hill.” I asked him if we should go see it. He told me we couldn’t. The site was sacred, he explained, and was the refuge of Indigenous gods who had fled when the Europeans had arrived nearly 500 years earlier. There were gods from all seven Indigenous groups, and if you went there and couldn’t speak to each one, they wouldn’t allow you to leave, he added. You needed to know all seven Indigenous languages, and nobody knew them all—not even him.


If that's not a writing prompt, I don't know what is.
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
[personal profile] hawkwing_lb
Books 2017: 109-129


109. V.M. Escalada, Halls of Law. DAW, 2017.

Read for review for Locus. Fun.


110. David D. Levine, Arabella and the Battle of Venus. Tor, 2017.

Read for review for Tor.com. What the hell sort of book is this?


111. Lee Kelly, A Criminal Magic. Saga, 2016.

Read for column. Good.


112-113. Sarah Kuhn, Heroine Complex and Heroine Worship. DAW, 2016 and 2017.

Read for column. Fun.


114. Spencer Ellsworth, Starfire: A Red Peace. Tor.com Publishing, 2017.

Read for review. Space opera debut. Fun.


115. Steven Brust and Skyler White, The Incrementalists. Tor, 2013.

Kind of a dude book. Not so great.


116. Claudia Gray, Defy the Stars. Little, Brown and Company, 2017.

YA. Space opera. Read for column. Ambitious, not necessarily all that successful.


117. E.K. Johnston, Exit, Pursued by a Bear. Speak, 2016.

YA. Really really good.


118. Elizabeth Wein, The Pearl Thief. Bloomsbury, 2017.

YA. Not as harrowing as many of Wein's other books. Really interesting. Girls kissing girls, too.


119. Ann Leckie, Provenance. Orbit, 2017.

Read for review for Tor.com. Really good. Different to Leckie's other novels.


120. Erica Abbott, Desert Places. Bella Books, 2015.

Lesbian romance between an attorney and a sheriff in small-town Colorado.


121. Stephanie Burgis, Snowspelled. Five Fathoms Press, 2017.

Read for column. Fun.


122. Cassandra Khaw, Bearly A Lady. Book Smugglers Publishing, 2017.

Read for column. Fun.


123. Cassandra Khaw, A Song for Quiet. Tor.com Publishing, 2017.

Read for review for Tor.com. Good.


124. Claire McNab, Lessons in Murder. Bella Books, ebook reprint.

Murder mystery with f/f elements. Solid, I think.


125. Claire McNab, Fatal Reunion. Bella Books, ebook reprint.

Murder mystery with f/f elements.


126. Jae, Falling Hard. Ylva Publishing, 2017.

F/F romance. Fun. Pretty good.


127. Erica Abbott, Taken In. Bella Books, 2017.

F/F mystery/suspense. Part of series. Fun enough.


128. Guy Gavriel Kay, Sailing to Sarantium. Roc, 2010. (1998.)

Well, Kay is certainly something, that's for sure.


129. Guy Gavriel Kay, Lord of Emperors. Roc, 2010. (2000.)

Second book in the Sarantine Mosaic duology. It's a pretty good duology.





And unless I'm forgetting something -- which is entirely possible -- that's the lot.

NIF: eps 15-16 Lanterns and Swords

Jul. 25th, 2017 08:57 am
sartorias: Mei Changs (MC)
[personal profile] sartorias
These are transitional scenes in that they flash to the past but are building toward a coming confrontation. But on repeated viewings, we can see deep groundwork being laid for even bigger stakes.

And oh, the emotional moments are riveting.
Read more... )

"You get nothing!"

Jul. 25th, 2017 02:26 am
rosefox: A cartoon figure slipping toward a gaping hole in the paper. (slipping)
[personal profile] rosefox
I'm having one of those "parenting is so hard, when does it stop being hard, oh right, never" days.

I was watching Kit play on their own and glumly thinking that happy Kit is independent and only wants parents when they're sad. Then they toddled over and handed me a stuffed fox, just because. So I know that what I'm feeling is just a feeling and has very little to do with reality. But it's still a big feeling.

Relatedly, having a tantruming toddler scream directly into your ear for several minutes is really quite challenging.

"Kit is so chill," I thought, once upon a time. "Maybe they won't really get toddler tantrums." I was so wrong. Soooo wrong. Tantrums aren't about personality. They're about cognitive and emotional overload. A scream into the void.

(My right ear is the void, apparently.)

(But was I going to stop cuddling my screaming child? Of course not. My ear can cope.)

And now I feel like the worst parent in the world because I couldn't really help my kid, even when they were bottomlessly miserable. There is no cure for the tantrum because it's an existential crisis. You just hold on and say "I'm here" like it means anything. And eventually they stop crying long enough for you to get some calories into them, which almost always helps. It turns out that kids are always basically one minute away from a massive hunger crash, and that rather exacerbates the existential angst.

You could not pay me enough to be a child again. No way. It's genuinely a wonder that kids are ever happy at all. Their bodies do weird things, the world is baffling, everything is too big, they have no control, safety is elusive and fleeting. It's like a fucking horror movie, 24/7. And yet my child comes over and smiles at me and puts their head on my knee for sheer love.

I guess maybe they wanted to say "I'm here" like it means anything.

I guess maybe it does.
[personal profile] alexbayleaf

Originally published at Spinster's Bayley. You can comment here or there.

As I mentioned recently, I’ve been wanting to talk about Agile software development methodologies and how they relate to permaculture – Agile permaculture for short – for yearsandyearsandyears, and it finally seems like time to do so. Over on Making Permaculture Stronger, Dan is making an inquiry into permaculture design processes, and how much design […]

a little red flag

Jul. 24th, 2017 02:08 pm
mrissa: (Default)
[personal profile] mrissa

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux. You can comment here or there.

I know a lot of writers. Really a lot. Really really. And we all have different process, and that’s great, that’s wonderful. In person I have been known to chirp “we are all a beautiful rainbow,” but it’s really hard to get my total lack of sarcasm on that point through on the internet. (We are, though! We are all a beautiful rainbow! Yay!) In this case, I have spotted what looks like a consistent red flag for burnout, and I’m having a hard time phrasing it so that it’s clear that I don’t mean to exclude some kinds of inspiration.

Here’s the red flag. Writers with a few novels or a ton of short stories under their belt who get into a place where they only want to talk about being sick of tropes and wanting to deconstruct them. I know that deconstruction is a major creative inspiration in some writers’ processes (all a beautiful rainbow!). But the larger percentage of conversation about other people’s work gets to be about deconstruction and frustration, the more I watch for other signs of burnout.

Because–squee is not just good publicity. Squee is important for your own work. If you’re not honestly feeling like squeeing about other work you’re encountering, that’s a bad sign. And it’s probably not a bad sign about what’s out there in the world, because there is a lot of stuff out there in the world. If none of it is pressing your buttons, really none? that’s a bad sign about your buttons and where you are in terms of energy levels, taking criticism, getting enough recharge, all those things.

This is not a red flag of you being (or a friend being!) a bad person, or a worthless artist, or someone who will never recover, or anything like that. I’ve seen many people come out of this kind of burnout. But just as it’s easier to talk about how to begin a story than how to deal with the middle and ending that grow out of it, it’s a lot easier to talk about early-career things than all the paths that can grow out of them. And yet it feels to me like there are a lot of mid-career/developing writer paths and pitfalls that it would be really useful to talk about more, so…I’m going to try to do some of that, and I appreciate the other people who are doing that too.

(One of my favorite roads out of this is to cast my net very, very wide and look at things that are way outside my usual so that badly handled tropes and obvious choices are less grating. But other solutions for jolting out of this kind of deconstruction/negativity trap welcome.)

sartorias: Mei Changs (MC)
[personal profile] sartorias
The next three episodes are a minor arc: the first two end mid-conversation. This is the arc that got me obsessed with the show—not only was the emotional dimension compelling, but I was catching Mei Changsu in the act of greatness, showing us how he does it. And the conversations about the past, about political expediency and loyalty and so forth resonated to the backs of my eyeballs, all the more considering the daily news here, focused on politicians from whom absolutely nothing can be believed or trusted, whatsoever. Nothing. It’s such a horrible, helpless feeling as we watch the limits of democracy tested, that watching a show in which people with good intentions slowly gain agency to the benefit of the innocent pretty much took over my life for the duration.

And it helps that the actors are all so gorgeous, the clothes jaw-droppingly beautiful, the sets all places I would dearly love to live in myself.

Anyway, Marquis Xie is shaping up for a major power play, thinking that he is maneuvering behind the scenes while his targets fumble in the light of day. But as yet he doesn’t know that he is quietly being outpaced, step by step . . .
Read more... )

buttonbush

Jul. 23rd, 2017 09:31 am
asakiyume: (glowing grass)
[personal profile] asakiyume
The Ashley reservoir is now one of my go-to places to take people when they visit. I took my old college friend and her husband there, and learned that the water-loving plant that I had thought looked very mangrove-y is buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), which grows up and down the Atlantic coast and as far inland as the Mississippi, and is indeed a species in the mangrove biome!

Buttonbush

button bush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)

Yesterday I took [personal profile] osprey_archer there (and we read aloud to each other--so much fun), and lo and behold, the buttonbush was in bloom! I didn't have a camera, so she obliged me with a photo:

Buttonbush in flower, by [personal profile] osprey_archer



The flowers look like how pollen looks under a scanning electron microscope:

Buttonbush flowers....

buttonbush flowers

Pollen, much magnified:



(source)

Or, um... like an influenza virus...



(source)

It smells nice, though, and bees and butterflies love it. AS DO I.


"Close enough for jazz"

Jul. 23rd, 2017 03:13 am
rosefox: Me snuggling a giant teddy bear, entirely contented. (sleeping)
[personal profile] rosefox
Vacation to-do list/wishlist summary: not too bad! Especially given that today was totally eaten by stressful unexpected circumstances. (Everyone is fine now.)

Things without deadlines (fun):

* Watch Voltron: Legendary Defender and do some knitting
* Stroll in the Botanic Gardens (I didn't do this but did go read in the park near our house)
* Maybe steal the baby from daycare early one day and get extra baby time
* Read (three books! in one week!)
* Cook
* Lunch with my mom
* Sleeeeeeeep

Things without deadlines (productive):

* Shower and dress in real clothes every day (mostly)
* Tidy room enough for vacuuming
* Unpack
* Vacuum (well, I swept, but it's pretty clean underfoot now)
* Catch up on laundry
* Celebrate the 1st anniversary of Story Hospital (!)
* Call insurance company about that bill
* Call doctor's office about that prior auth
* Finish setting up Tinybeans
* Remake OT appointment for next week
* Do a family Readercon debrief/postmortem

Attention tax

Jul. 22nd, 2017 09:32 pm
mrissa: (Default)
[personal profile] mrissa

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux. You can comment here or there.

One of the things that has been making me furious about sexual harassment lately–secondary to all the other things that make me furious about it–is the attention tax it imposes on women. The time spent figuring out whether there’s enough evidence for us to be taken seriously this time, whether the people who were in the “surely you misinterpreted” and “that doesn’t mean what it blatantly means” camp last time will finally take us seriously, the time spent recovering from someone shouting in our faces and someone else grabbing our asses, the time sharing stories and pooling information and cleaning up messes and figuring out what to do, what we can do, what we have the power to do. That is time not spent on other things that are frankly a whole hell of a lot more interesting.

When it’s in convention terms, the time spent discussing who did what and what to do and letting the adrenaline settle and coping is time not spent on ideas for books and stories and where to go with them. It is very directly a tax on attention that could and should be going toward work. And it makes me exhausted and resentful, and then I try to corral my attention back to my work, because that is a far, far better place for it to be. I have directly observed that when I am at a con where people are dealing with an ongoing situation of this type, I come back with far, far less in the way of inspired notes for new projects–not just coming away drained instead of energized, but the specifics of what business are we doing here, where is our attention going.

I’m lucky. I know a lot of good men. I know a lot of good straight, white men. One of the benefits of this is that when a straight, white dude is an asshole, I am clear that it is artisanal assholery that he is hand-crafting by choice, not a trait he can’t avoid by his demographics. And a lot of good straight, white men have been stepping up to share the work of dealing with sexual harassment on a community level. I appreciate it. I do. But that is a choice they are making. Statistically, on average, the nonconsensual part, the part where you have to cope with the fallout of being harassed again, the part where it happens several times in a row and then it’s on your mind and you go into the next professional situation having to have a plan for how to cope–that’s a drain on your time and attention that you cannot have back, that other people can help with structurally but not in the moment. They can donate their time but not hand you back yours, not give you back those hours and days of working on the situation and processing and coping. It can happen to men. It does happen to men. And as one woman I know never loses an opportunity to point out, it does not happen to every woman. But statistically, on average, it is an attention tax that falls much, much more heavily on women, for things that we did not ask for and cannot change.

It’s not just sexual harassment. This is not the only attention tax, and I don’t mean to talk as though it is. Racist bullshit and the people who visit it upon people of color? That is, among other worse things, an attention tax on those people of color. Having to cope with accessibility issues and prejudice against the disabled? Attention tax. Homophobia and other forms of anti-queer assholery? Attention tax. Navigating the world while neurodiverse, even in ways that do not feel like a disability internally, among people who are going to be utter jerks to any hint of non-neurotypicality? Attention tax. And while I’ve talked about men and women above, the amount of attention tax that falls on gender-nonconforming and non-binary people gets mind-bogglingly larger the more gender-policing the subculture they’re interacting with gets. One of the fundamental questions is: how much jerkitude are people going to blithely shovel on you for being you and then skip along with their day, and how much will that pull away from the focus you need to do your stuff that you do.

Do I imagine I’m the first to observe this? Hardly. But “show don’t tell” is hardly new advice, either, and writers get blog posts out of that several times a year. What I’m saying to you is: this is affecting the work of people you know and care about. All the time. It doesn’t have to. It is literally all entirely voluntary. The thing I said above about artisanal bullshit: last month I got very tired of people saying “so that’s a thing that happened” when they were describing a choice someone made. So let’s not do that. Let’s not ascribe to fundamental forces things that are actual bad choices people are making.

And also: people who are doing work through all these attention taxes, who are managing to push it aside and fight their way through to focusing on making something awesome: I see you. I appreciate you. I’m sorry it’s like this. I keep hoping that some of the draining work will gain us some ground and it will be long-term less necessary. But in the meantime, thanks for clawing back some of your own in the face of it. It’s so hard, and it matters so much.

Fox and dog, living together

Jul. 22nd, 2017 08:47 pm
[personal profile] 1crowdedhour
animalshugging.tumblr.com/post/163194881849

Many thanks to [personal profile] helenraven for the link. I feel sure there is more to their relationship than meets the eye, but the camera loves them.



sartorias: Mei Changs (MC)
[personal profile] sartorias
In this next arc, we see the powerful Marquis Xie moving toward securing more power through the oblivious Crown Prince. But he’s not merely the usual rug-chewing bad guy, which makes him so much more interesting. And also unpredictable.

Meanwhile, we are getting to know Xia Dong, Princess Nihuang’s bestie, who still refuses to speak to Prince Jing. She is loyal and honest and a fierce warrior. (And she has a very, very bumpy ride ahead of her.)

Finally, Princess Nihuang is confused and intrigued by this reclusive scholar who has the power to send military aid to a province on the other side of the continent, and yet who refuses to set foot in a falling-down house . . . and we see the building emotional cost to MC when spending more time with the princess and with Jing.

The next few eps are the midpoint of act one, and reach a climax I thought really intense on the first watch. I couldn’t believe that the intensity was going to scale upward exponentially—but it does. And by intensity I don’t mean climbing body counts, which enervate me fast. I mean real, personal stakes. Emotional cost. Political layers with real cost. So much intensity, so much beauty.
Read more... )

Summer brain

Jul. 22nd, 2017 06:29 am
sartorias: (desk)
[personal profile] sartorias
Another book seems to be trying to grab me, so while I veer between ongoing projects and escaping the unrelenting heat with tv watching (more NIF later today) and reading, I'm writing notes and watching the tetris pieces fall and interlock. If they fuse, well, then, that's what I'll be doing.

In the meantime, an interesting discussion, which I hope to wring another BVC blog post out of. (It's getting hard to figure out something to write, but I committed to it, so . . . besides, it's good for me to test my ideas against others. Too easy to get locked inside my head.)

Anyway, the discussion subject was words you don't use. I don't necessarily mean cuss words you avoid, but words that have too much freight for whatever reason. Like, the discussion got started when someone mentioned that when we were growing up, nobody ever said the word 'cancer' or wrote it. Sick, ill, other euphemisms, but she felt that there was this tremendous fear around the word because it was always a death sentence, especially as the constant cigarette atmosphere around us started catching up with people at not very old ages. Saying it was impolite, like saying pregnant (expecting was the word back then), but also there was a kind of superstition like mentioning it would invite it.

Another person said she refuses to use the word 'literally' because she hears it so much, usually used wrong, that is, as an emphasizer, which she sees as sloppy language.

A third person at that discussion said that that was weird, and why avoid any word?

Thoughts?
sartorias: Mei Changs (MC)
[personal profile] sartorias
In the next pair of episodes, as Mei Changsu begins his campaign to take down the corrupt court, we start getting to know a couple of very interesting women, both challenging.

And MC walks into another emotional gutting.
Read more... )

F&SF story interview

Jul. 21st, 2017 06:32 am
mrissa: (Default)
[personal profile] mrissa

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux. You can comment here or there.

I’m back from Boston! I had a lovely time going to Readercon and writing and seeing friends and riding back and forth on the T and wandering up and down Mass Ave. I am now convinced that wandering up and down Mass Ave is a substantial part of what you do in Boston. Things are there. Also, every time you come out of the Harvard T, there is Greer Gilman, so it is written and so it must be.

But other, less eternal things are written, and you can read them! Such as this interview about my story in the July/August issue of F&SF. Interview with me! Things you might want to know! or maybe not, but there it is anyway.

I answered these interview questions in the spring, and one of the things they’re showing me now is that life moves fast. Well. I knew that. And if it’s going to move fast and smell all right while it goes, I’d better get a load of laundry in. More, much more, soon, now that I’m home for awhile.

August 2015

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