1. I wrote 10 pages of pure crack on RG (#3 in hexarchate trilogy, I'm like 3/4 done now, saving the partial for NaNoWriMo while my brain composts a little more). I have been writing in: Noodler's Black, Pilot Iroshizuku Kon-peki (blue), Pilot Iroshizuku Syo-ro (green), Papier Plume Burgundy, and J. Herbin 1670 Stormy Grey because I am determined that if I am going to go down in history as writing cracky space opera that no one will ever read, I WILL DO IT WITH MY LITTLE PONY BLOOD.
It is so much more of a relief to write PURE CRACK on this novel than worry about it being good. It's a rough draft! It's not going to be good whatever I do! Also, not like anyone cares whether #3 is good or not at this point! Problem for another time! GEKIGANGER ID ATTACK!
(Apologies to any Martian Successor Nadesico fans. We should rewatch that sometime. Sheesh, the memories...)
2. My local library continues to be excellent. I'm currently reading a fun and irreverent book on rhetoric, a topic that, formally anyway, I know nothing about. I also checked out a book on deception in warfare and another on wargaming. Look, if I don't do this kind of thing once in a while they'll take away my Yoon card!
3. I ordered fox ears and tail for the lizard for her Halloween costume, at her request. I briefly considered making them myself, then decided that nah, this is what Etsy is for. Someone else makes money, I get to be lazy, the lizard gets to be a fox. EVERYONE WINS.
4. My mother has been emailing me beautiful iPad photos of flowers and trees in Korea. I miss the foliage and wildflowers in Korea so much, and my mother has a lifelong interest in botany so she would always tell me what everything was (and of course I would always instantly forget all the names except for the really common ones like cosmos and gingko and so on). Also, I had no idea that Hangeul permitted so many cute little emoticons...or I don't know if those are Hangeul emoticons specifically, but hey.
5. I made probably not that authentic chicken adobo last night. (I use vinegar and soy sauce, but no spicy peppers of any kind because the lizard will not eat spicy food.) It was delicious and there are leftovers that I will probably avail myself of tomorrow.
6. Hellsing Ultimate is perfect crack for, uh, after the lizard has gone to bed. OMG so over-the-top lolarious splatter. To say nothing of a world apparently so dystopian that I honestly think that the only way you could save people is to torch the whole place and start over. Because, please, therapists are not going to save Sir Integra, Alucard, or Father Anderson. (Although someone should write me the crackfic where they try.) We've watched through ep. 7 so please don't spoil us!
...what are your happy things, if you want to share? =)
- recent readingAmulet
vols. 1-6 by Kazu Kibuishi. Not yet complete, and I seem to have not read vol. 5 earlier as well as just getting to read vol. 6. This is an excellent comic series about a girl, Emily, who becomes the keeper of an ambiguously helpful magical amulet and is drawn into a science fantasy world along with her younger brother Navin and her mother. It has vibrant, spectacular art depicting a lush and alien world with creatures both cute and creepy, fascinating plot twists, great action, and genuinely gray characters. Considering that the prologue features Emily and Navin's dad dying in a car accident, it is not afraid to go to scary and dark places, but overall it's probably PG or PG-13. Joe loves this, the lizard loves this, I love this. I cannot recommend this highly enough.Nabi: The Prototype
by Kim Yeon-joo. Collection of shorts. My impression is mostly, pretty art but pretty damn incoherent stories except the first one; I don't know whether this is an artifact of the translation or the manhwa artist is just not very good at communication. And what plot there is tends to be "blah blah blah feelings feelings feelings, FEELINGS, feelings feelings, because FEELINGS," which is...not my kind of thing. I have the complete manhwa in Korean as well; I may try muddling through that next, although I don't actually expect to understand
the Hangeul. But hey, pretty art, so worth keeping for that.
- recent viewingHellsing Ultimate
eps. 2-3. ( Read more... )
I first “met” Lesley Smith a year and a half ago, while looking for beta readers for a short story. Lesley is also an author herself. Her book The Changing of the Sun came out this month, and she’s currently working on a Kickstarter for the second book in the series, The Parting of the Waters.
Her guest post is about disability in fiction, and about her own choices along those lines as a writer.
One of the great maxims told to newbie writers is ‘write what you know’. I’m never sure if that’s true, but it’s a good a place to start as any. To understand my writing, you need to know that I was born with a visual impairment caused from wanting to get into the world at twenty four weeks, rather than the usual forty. Too much oxygen left me with brain damage, Asperger’s and, most obviously, a visual disability. I’m blind in one eye and so short sighted in my left that I’m functionally useless outside without a long cane or my beloved guide dog, Unis.
When I started writing The Changing of the Sun, I’d just finished Camp NaNoWriMo and was itching to write anything but the project I’d put aside at fifty thousand words: an urban scifi about an alien priestess trying to solve a murder while an engineered plague began decimating London’s alien community.
I realised I couldn’t write this story before I’d set up the one which forged my protagonist, or at least her past selves and her civilisation. I knew the basics: an alien world devastated by a solar storm, an order of blind seers who ruled in wisdom and passed the mantle down through centuries, and great adversity tempered by common sense and the desire to survive the impossible. I started writing and the short story became a novella, then a proper novel. Just over a year and a Kickstarter later, I’ve just unleashed that novel on the world.
Key to the universe in which the Changing trilogy is set is disabled characters being more than just set pieces. There might be miracles, but curing disabilities isn’t one of them. Yes, the oracles have lost their vision, but like Odin and Tiresias, they’ve gained something in exchange. However, this doesn’t mean an easy ride. Far from it. Having a disability doesn’t give you an instant pass and the people aren’t there to be inspirational … they’re just trying to get through the day.
For example, the stereotype of a blind person is that they are a) totally blind and b) have heightened senses. This is rubbish. All is means is that most blind people have some useful vision and that we pay more attention; I have better hearing than you simply because I don’t have as much visual noise that prevents me focusing.
Saiara, the POV character, is blinded as part of a ritual gone wrong. She finds herself banished to a shabby tower where the blind oracles are kept locked away, too close to the divine to be allowed near the populace except on the high holy days. The powers don’t want them to be self-reliant or capable of surviving without servants, guards and being beholden to the High Chamberlain’s ‘compassion’. There’s the elderly Eirian, the former ruler of the planet, who is coming to the end of her life, and is just trying to keep their collapsing ordering intact so someone is left to lead even as she goes to her grave. She tries to teach every woman in her care how to go beyond their blindness, to find their way, to use their other senses, to regain power in a place which would rather they be powerless.
Back when I was writing Changing, I read an excellent post on this very blog and it made me decide that if there was one rule I was going to stick to, it was that if you lost a limb, nothing could restore it to you. You might lose your vision and gain the grace of knowledge, but you’d still be blind, still be lost in a world not designed to help you or make allowances for your disability. This makes the idea of an exodus north, though the desert with limited supplies and the thinning ranks of a sacred order of blind women, much more complicated.
One of the biggest scenes involves Jeiana, one of these alien beings incarnated as a Kashinai woman, having her writing hand amputated after a tiny scratch turns septic. She’s borrowed the body of a woman who drowned at the beginning of the book and has been slowly losing her sense of self, almost like a kind of dementia. When she collapses, her lover, the healer Senara, has to make the decision between Jeiana’s life and the infected limb.
The problem is, because Jeiana is slowly forgetting who she is, a side-effect of her corporeal state, she has been trying to write down all the secrets she has brought with her from beyond their little world. Losing her hand means she can’t record the words for posterity, and there comes a point where the fate of an entire planet relies on Senna’s decision. While Jeiana eventually gains an amanuensis, she is never able to write, and the loss of her hand forces her to have to relearn how to walk, how to move and live with a limb which stops just above her elbow, suffering phantom pain from the amputated limb that she doesn’t really remember losing.
I wanted to have empowered characters who accurately reflected my own view of the world. Jeiana, Saiara, Eirian, Lyse and the others are not there to be pitied. They might not always know the answers or have an easy ride but they’re stronger for every trial. They are not there to be tokens or to make up the numbers but to reflect that just as the world is full of people with disabilities, so alien worlds should have their share of differently abled individuals.
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
In the order that they occur to me:
1) Michael R. Underwood’s The Younger Gods is out! Main character is a runaway from a family of evil cultists, has to try to stop them from kicking off the apocalypse. Mike is a friend, of course, but this one would sound good to me even if I weren’t biased.
2) I’m starting to rack up some foreign sales for the Memoirs. So far it looks like you’ll be getting at least the first book in Thai, French, and Polish. I’m on the verge of completely outgrowing my brag shelf, where I keep one copy of every edition of my books: there are worse problems to have.
3) Speaking of my brag shelf, the Mythic Delirium anthology is also out! This has “The Wives of Paris” in it, among other things. You may recall this anthology as the one that got the excellent starred review from Publishers Weekly; well, now you can own your very own copy.
4) Strange Horizons is currently holding its annual fund drive. There are prizes listed here, but it isn’t the full list yet; they’re adding stuff as the drive goes on. Two of the additions will be a signed pair of the UK trade paperbacks of A Natural History of Dragons and The Tropic of Serpents, and a signed ARC of the third book in the Memoirs of Lady Trent, Voyage of the Basilisk. If you want a crack at those, head on over and pledge some money!
5) I’ve got another ebook coming out next week, this one a collection of my dark fairy-tale retellings called Monstrous Beauty. You can pre-order it right now from Amazon or Kobo, or wait until next week and get it from Book View Cafe, Barnes and Noble, or iTunes. Just in time for Halloween!
Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.
The skin thing is shingles, and the antivirals make me incredibly sleepy. I've spent two days in bed with the children hanging around my room when they want to and refusing to come near when they don't. I feel rotten.
And of course I haven't posted my GP letter since because I haven't left the blasted house. Even though I both printed and signed it.
The good news is that Emer is listening to Stephen Fry's Harry Potter audiobooks and enjoying them hugely.
Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.
My home away from home, eh? I was feeling fancy so I heated up the soup in a pot on the stove instead of in the microwave. We sat at the counter on the island, eating it silently, each absorbed in our own thoughts for a while.
You know, it wasn’t just that Remo’s house was a home away from home for me: Remo was a safety net of all kinds. I felt pretty confident that if I ever needed a gig, I could get on Remo’s bandwagon. If I ever needed a place to live, I could move in here. I mean, I’d probably always be too proud to, but knowing that safety net was there… That gave me a kind of footing that a lot of creative people don’t have. For all I’d said to Ziggy that guitar was the one thing I had, I actually did have more options than some people we knew.
I was thinking of Christian.
( Read the rest of this entry » )
When asked Monday morning by CBC News if the person had been fired, Glenn-Graham initially replied, "Yes." He also confirmed the firing took place on Saturday.
However, subsequent media reports on Monday quoted Glenn-Graham as saying the individual responsible had resigned. When asked to clarify what exactly happened, Glenn-Graham replied by email, saying "the volunteer resigned on their own Friday night."
DGG told CBC the rogue staffer was fired. He told 570News the staffer resigned. I have an explanation: If DGG's dad, suspecting his son would run for office and knowing that office requires more than any one person could deliver, had him cloned several times over, this would explain why the different stories and perhaps even who sent the email.
spoiler for an old time sf novel: ( Read more... )
I should note, apropos my previous post, that I am aware I am in the minority when it comes to my unabashed love of potlucks. I love potlucks. I LOVE potlucks. I particularly love potlucks as a community-building activity. We share our food, we spend time together, we each learn a little bit about each other. I don't judge what people bring, as long as it's food they like or like sharing.
I know a lot of people find potlucks burdensome and/or anxiety-making. And I understand why. But nonetheless, I have a big soft spot for them. I mean, I have such a big soft spot for them I occasionally have wistful thoughts about church communities I've never belonged to. I miss office parties, too. And, yes, even the lesbian potlucks with their orthorexic vegetarian casseroles. I know that, particularly as a parent, I probably have many more potlucks in my future and no need to fear their disappearance from my life. I look forward to the next one.*
*Which is probably in November. "Commmunity Celebration," a.k.a. Thanksgiving-without-the-problematic-colonization-narrative-stuff.
<looks at subject line> Apparently I’m in a weird mood today.
Found out recently that a friend of mine is running an IndieGoGo campaign to fund the post-production for a documentary on the Rocky Horror Picture Show phenomenon. Why the post-production only? Because they ran a Kickstarter to raise the money for the whole project, but so many of their pledges defaulted that although they officially made their goal and then some, they didn’t actually collect all the money they needed to finish the task. They’ve been traveling the country to film and interview the various casts, and the result is likely to be awesome . . . but they do need the rest of their funding. Since it’s an IndieGoGo flexible funding campaign, every bit of money you pledge will help — it isn’t an all-or-nothing deal.
And while I’m at it, I should mention that both the Not Our Kind and Daughters of Mercury campaigns are still running, if you haven’t checked them out already.
Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.
- recent reading
I bailed on Wendy Thorpe Copley's Everyday Bento
because the title LIES. I should have realized it from the cover
[Amazon listing], which shows those cutesy bits of food done up in shapes and stuff. Let me tell you, I remember taking sandwiches cut out in the shape of hearts to school when I was in high school and it was embarrassing
. Oh, Mom. :) Anyway, while I have developed an interest in bento (the boxes! adorable geometrical compartments!), I still hate cooking and want to do easy food, not complicated decorative preparations that will be wasted on the audience anyway.
Ann Leckie. Ancillary Sword
. (This is the nonspoilery writeup; long, spoilery analysis here
.) This is the sequel to Leckie's Ancillary Justice
, and it is more complex, more ambitious, and aggressively more successful
than its (already pretty good) prequel. It's like everything suddenly pulled together. (Not that I am privy to Leckie's writing process!)Sword
follows up on the events of Justice
, but at heart it is an exploration of the foundational problems that plague the Radch. I can't say much more without additionally spoiling Justice
. But it's worth reading Justice
(which, again, was good, but not as
good) to get to Sword
- recent viewingHellsing Ultimate
ep. 1. So back in college Joe and I watched the first Hellsing
anime, which was both weirdly inappropriate, weirdly stylish, and gory as all get-out, and then later I got seven volumes into the manga before getting rid of it because I was afraid baby!lizard would stumble onto it (she was a climber) and be SCARRED FOR LIFE. Hellsing
features vampires, gore, at least one Nazi werewolf, gore, loving and improbable portrayals of blasphemous (or blessed, depending) guns, gore, big-breasted female characters, gore, evil vs. evil, a crapsack universe, fanservice, gore, a demented portrayal of Catholics vs. Anglicans, gore, airships, gore, and...well, you get the idea. What I'm trying to say is that while I enjoy this for what it is--and indeed, all the versions of animanga Hellsing
that I am familiar with advertise what they are up front, unrepentantly--it is not remotely
in good taste.
My memories of the original Hellsing
anime are hazy, but I seem to recall there being more filler and a rather unsatisfactory ending arc involving some kind of shaman making threats against Sir Integra Hellsing. (I believe it was londonkds
who informed me that they get all the peerage title things wrong; or it might have been someone else, sorry my memory is so bad! As an American, I can't, er, tell the difference  between nobility titles [end edit] without being explicitly reminded.) The manga was complete crack, but complete crack apparently building toward some kind of arc; unfortunately, since I bailed seven volumes in (there are apparently ten total?) I have no idea how that
Anyway, Joe and I decided we were curious about this, so we gave it a try. This appears to be following more along the lines of the manga--which makes me hopeful that I will get a glimpse of the manga's ending--and is just as gory, cracky, and inappropriate as I thought it would be. But again, the show doesn't try to hide what it is, so I can deal. There are no characters so far that achieve any better than dark gray and I don't expect that to change anytime soon. But hey, it's only ten episodes (one hour each) so we will probably continue watching.
One of the reasons I don't write here as much any more (not that I have any plans on leaving) is sheer exhaustion*. Ok, coupled with my aversion to narrative recaps. This is at odds with my desire to keep at least a sketchy record of my activities for posterity, but life is full of contradictions.
Thus, the return of the weekend update.
Friday night: I participated in Cat vs. Dog Haiku at Mission Critter. The format: three rounds, five haiku each reader. I was on Team Cat and I led off each round as first reader. Just so you know how fierce the competition was, postmaudlin
was the Team Dog anchor. The match-up ended in a tie, and more importantly, everyone was fantastic and had a great time.
We took the kids in with us because we figured (unlike many of my readings, cough) this would be the perfect opportunity for them to hear Mommy read aloud, plus the topic was of interest and the setting too. We arrived in SF early so we took a detour to Mission Pie for a snack. Mission Pie remains heavenly. I had pumpkin, and so did the kids; G. had walnut pie. So good. I want to make a walnut pie now the next time the freezer fills up with nuts from the farm share.
Saturday was the Walk-a-Thon for Mills College Children's School. This year, April walked 26 laps and Simone walked 15. We hung out with kids and parents and chatted. I miss the potluck "Fall Festival" that used to launch the school year; it was a nice way to get to know other families. But this was still a nice way to spend the day.
Sunday we went to Ardenwood to pick out pumpkins with Shayna and folks and have a picnic and visit some farm animals, too. It was hot. We were tired. But we had a good time anyway. And our trunk is now full of big pumpkins, little pumpkins, white "ghost" pumpkins and stolid orange pumpkins, variegated "goblin eggs" and supersaturated red pumpkins. Now all that's left is to carve them. Not to soon, or they'll rot and/or the squirrels will eat them. Not to late or we'll be all worn out again. * My exhaustion is compounded at the moment by the fact that, due to vagaries in scheduling, I have been on deadline a solid month. Done now! Hooray!
The 20th anniversary HD remake of Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers came out last week.
This is one of the few video game series I’ve ever really fallen in love with. It had drama! Character development! Random trivia about real-world history! My sister introduced me to it, and sat with me during my first playthrough, offering advice and possibly taking the controls from me when I couldn’t get past that one mummy in the mound. So, naturally, when I heard the HD remake was coming out, I a) bought her a copy as a gift and b) invited her over for a slumber party/playthrough evening.
First things first: the voices are different. Apparently they lost the original recordings in the intervening twenty years, and the result they got from stripping the audio out of the game files was not good enough. And I’m guessing they could no longer afford the services of Tim Curry and Mark Hamill. I was very apprehensive about this, because Tim Curry’s terrible Nawlins accent is such a memorable part of the game; what would it be like without him?
The answer is, much the same. They did an excellent job of casting voice actors who could match the sound of their predecessors. There were a few lines where I remembered the original intonation enough to cock my head at the difference, but the rest of the time, I forgot I was listening to a new voice. I’m sure that if I did a side-by-side comparison of the two, I would find places where the HD version is lacking, but it passes muster on its own — which is what really matters.
Things that are distinctly improved: the graphics! (Duh.) Holy crap, you can tell what things are. There are books in cases and bottles on shelves, rather than indistinct blobs on horizontal lines. Gram’s house has wallpaper! Rugs have patterns! It’s not the highest-quality graphics and animation — in particular, there’s the creepy thing where people’s mouths seem to be moving independently of their faces when they talk — but it’s a massive improvement over the old look. They’ve also changed up the gameplay a bit: the mime is still a pain in the ass, but getting past that one mummy just involves grasping the general principle of “you need to dodge,” rather than having to move to exactly the right spot, wait exactly the right amount of time, move again, wait again, and then finally break for the door. And the #@$@!!! beignet guy? IS GONE. Replaced by a much less Rube Goldberg-y solution to “how do I get into Mosely’s office?” (And a really creepy moment, too, which I don’t remember from the original.) There are a couple of new puzzles to balance out the simplification of the old ones: a lever puzzle in Magentia Moonbeam’s house that isn’t nearly as difficult as it might have been, a minor unlocking thing in the Gedde crypt.
Some of the changes are amusing. I opened the window in Schloss Ritter and was perplexed to see that the pile of snow had vanished, replaced by a puddle on the windowsill — until my sister pointed out that it’s late June and really, why was there ever snow there in the first place? Gerde no longer looks like she ought to be serving beer at Oktoberfest. Gabriel says “fuck” a few times, and I’m pretty damned sure that’s new. Other things I’m less sure of; weren’t you able to go to your grandmother’s house on Day One before? And you find the sketchbook there? I’m pretty sure the priest’s collar used to be in the vestry; possibly that got moved because the placement of hotspots would have made the door we think was the vestry too difficult to click on. And I wonder how much of the dialogue was changed, apart from Gabriel swearing. They’ve definitely altered the pronunciation of several of the voodoo-related terms (presumably to make them more accurate), and I think they may have added in some more context about things like the racial politics of Malia’s family being so influential in New Orleans.
Mostly it’s the same, though, with better graphics and a score that no longer sounds quite so MIDI. I’ll probably look at the original version again before I decide, but it’s entirely possible that this will become my preferred version to play. It’s nice to have the game look less primitive, and I will put up with a lot just to avoid that mummy and the stupid beignet guy.
The real question is this: what now? Apparently Sierra was revived recently; they have a shiny website and everything, complete with what looks like a teaser for a new King’s Quest game. Will there be remakes of The Beast Within and Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned? Redoing the former would be interesting, seeing as how they’d probably have to just scrap the FMV entirely and redo the entire thing as standard point-and-click, but you could probably rebuild the latter quite easily, with some off-the-shelf 3D engine that would blow the original one out of the water.
Or — dare I dream — might we finally get a fourth game?
I’m trying not to get my hopes up. But if this remake sells well . . . who knows?
Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.
Okay, I’m having full-on muppetflail about how beautiful this cover is! Seriously! I’m having trouble expressing how perfect it is because when I open my mouth all that comes out is a squeeing sound.
Fortunately, I can still type, though. So later this month we’ll be re-issuing the first of the new editions of the Magic University books! THE SIREN AND THE SWORD, book one, will be out before Halloween from Riverdale Avenue Books!
For those not familiar with them, this is my LGBT New Adult romance/urban fantasy series about the hidden magical university inside Harvard, and the queer goings on there. Like many people’s college years, Kyle’s adventures start out sort of het and “normal”… and they don’t stay that way at all. Kyle’s bisexuality (or maybe pansexuality, since his adventures go beyond gender-based orientation…) is not only a major theme in the later books, it’s might be a key plot point in saving the human race… (*cue epic John Williams soundtrack*)
See the full gorgeous cover in all its glory below the cut!
Read the rest of this entry »
Mirrored from blog.ceciliatan.com.
1. Today was the last MIT swapfest of the season (although I did not attend, due to the hacking cold I have developed over the last week), so, having been published in April, my poem "The Etruscan Prince" is now free to read online with the rest of the previous issue
of The Cascadia Subduction Zone
. It was directly inspired by the discovery in September 2013 of a seventh-century tomb in Tarquinia whose occupants were identified by their grave goods—a spear for the husband, a jewelry box for his wife—before further analysis of the remains revealed the objects should have been assigned the other way round
2. Two or three years ago, I caught the first ten minutes of a peculiar little movie called The Black Book
(1949) on TCM. I was exhausted and couldn't stay up for the rest; I remembered it ever since because it was a perfect film noir, just taking place during the French Revolution. I found it last night on YouTube
. The quality is shaky, but the film is just as weird and compulsively watchable as I remembered. The setting is a remixed version of events building to the Thermidorian Reaction, the last paranoid threshings of the Reign of Terror, but everything from its dark, dramatic lighting to its cynical outlook to its stylized, contemporary dialogue is noir, right down to the damaged hero and the ambiguously faithful old flame. Give him a century and a half and he might be a G-man in the company of gangsters, but on July 26, 1794, Charles D'Aubigny (Robert Cummings) is a Lafayette loyalist gone undercover as a notoriously bloodthirsty prosecutor in order to get close to Robespierre (Richard Basehart), who has just denounced Danton. Charged with recovering the "black book" of the title—Robespierre's private hit list, fatally incriminating if its contents were known—D'Aubigny hopes instead to turn it over to Robespierre's rivals, but his only contact with the underground is the scornfully patriotic Madeleine (Arlene Dahl), from whom he parted some years previously under mutually embittering circumstances, and nobody trusts anybody in the mercurial frenzy of the Terror.The Black Book
is one of the B-pictures that turn their lack of budget into an occasion for atmosphere; it has to create its revolutionary Paris mostly through small rooms and shadows and the results are appropriately claustrophobic. Someone is always looking over the characters' shoulders, even if it's just the audience. You never know who's listening and you never know what they'll do with what they hear. (handful_ofdust
, who watched the movie before me, likened it to "Stalinist Russia with hoop-skirts.") Cummings isn't a poor leading man, although I would have preferred an actor who could more convincingly embody the nuances of his impersonation; because he takes on the role of "the Butcher of Strasbourg" so early in the film, we never have as clear a sense as we might of D'Aubigny himself, the secret agent heartbroken into cynicism and recklessness, and I wish I believed it was a symbolic move on the part of the script. Dahl is very good in her early, mistrustful, provocative scenes, but she fades into the plot the more it aligns her romantically with D'Aubigny. Norman Lloyd has a nice small turn as Tallien, Madeleine's trigger-happy fellow-conspirator who almost shoots D'Aubigny just for talking to Saint-Just; Beulah Bondi is an indomitable grandmother. The film really belongs to its historical players. So they're the villains; they're still the ones everyone from Stanisława Przybyszewska to Hilary Mantel has a different angle on. Basehart's Robespierre is an icy fanatic with ambitions of despotism who styles himself the incarnation of the people's will and genuinely seems to believe it, which makes him scarier than Jess Parker's smoothly sinister (and unusually heterosexual) Saint-Just. Arnold Moss as Citizen Fouché enters the picture at the six-minute mark and steals every scene he's in, one of those reprehensible charmers whose eye for the main chance is as genial as it is ruthless. I love his deep, amused voice; it's as confiding and trustworthy as his character is not. You'd think he was a hero if you heard him in the dark. Instead, he sits in Robespierre's own chair with his feet on Directoire marble, a saturnine man with an ironic smile and contemptuous eyes, and ticks off his secret policeman's virtues on his fingertips with a dancing quill: "Where in all Paris would you find anybody as disloyal, unscrupulous, scheming, treacherous, cunning, or deceitful as I? Oh, you'd have to do some tall looking, Max." The ending is a deliberate historical stinger and much more ambiguous than the celebratory fireworks suggest.
Worth your ninety minutes, is what I'm saying here.
3. There were beautiful clouds over Boston this afternoon. Winter clouds, granite-banked against a milk-blue sky that flushed sea-rose over their edges and changed the skyline to somewhere strange. They flamed when the sun set. They looked like shadows on the sky.
I made a point of trying to give myself a day without huge amounts of stress. It was nice.
It's a very different kind of day today. Cool and crisp, with a sun washed late autumn sky. One of those scenic days that people think of when they think of fall. There's no cold rain, no wet roads, nor the flashing lights of the ambulance sitting in front of my house.
Yet somehow this is the second anniversary of Paula's death. My daughter Grace came over earlier and we had a late breakfast together. Then I drove out to the cemetery just as I have most days these last 103 weeks since her funeral. Now I'm sitting here, a tiny black dog asleep in my lap, typing out these words.
I miss her.
The Guardian recently published a piece called “Am I Being Catfished?” An Author Confronts Her Number One Online Critic. In the article, author Kathleen Hale describes her anxiety after her first book came out, how she obsessed over Amazon and Goodreads and other review sites. I can definitely relate to this part. Book #10 comes out in January for me, and I expect I’ll still be auto-refreshing the Amazon page every 15 minutes…
Hale asked Twitter for ideas about her next book, as a way to “connect with readers.” A woman named Blythe offered suggestions, which led to Hale checking to see if Blythe had read the book, and discovering not only that she had, but that she’d apparently given it a harsh one-star review and was warning other readers away from the book.
Yeah, that sucks. Especially if a reviewer is complaining about stuff that you don’t think was even in the book. (My favorite bad review of The Stepsister Scheme compares it to an S&M porno. WTF???) Hale’s mother pointed her to the Stop the Goodreads Bullies site, where Blythe was listed along with more than 150 other reviewers, for crimes ranging from participating in organizing attacks on authors to “derogatory shelving” to reviews considered to be “bullying.” One of the StGB founders talked to Hale about her reviewer, no doubt reinforcing Hale’s belief that she was the victim of a bully.
Foz Meadows has a blog post about why the StGB site is…problematic.
Blythe apparently began tweeting about Hale online. And Hale began to engage in what she describes as “light stalking.” She eventually pulled herself away, but then a few months later, when a book club wanted Hale to do an interview with a book blogger, Hale suggested Blythe. Because she “longed to engage with Blythe directly.” This also involved doing a book giveaway, which allowed Hale to get Blythe’s home address.
I’ve done giveaways myself, which involves readers trusting me with their home addresses. I’ve also sent books to reviewers’ home addresses. I consider this a matter of trust and privacy, which is one of many reasons I get very angry about what happened next.
Hale dug into Blythe’s identity, questioning whether “Blythe” was a pseudonym. She rented a car and, in what she describes as “a personal rock bottom,” drove to Blythe’s home. She called Blythe at
home work, pretending to be a fact-checker. She called again, this time identifying herself as Kathleen Hale and confronting her.
Blythe unfollowed her on Twitter, made her Instagram private, and blocked her on Facebook, essentially cutting off Hale’s options for online communication.
Dear authors: don’t do this. Just don’t.
When I tweeted about this, one woman told that Hale is the real victim here, and accused me of victim-blaming. She compared Blythe’s tactics to those of GamerGate (though I’m having a hard time finding where Blythe threatened to rape or murder Hale, or drove Hale out of her own home).
Online bullying is a thing. Trolling is a thing.
Bad reviews are also a thing. Hating someone’s book is not bullying. Sharing your opinion, suggesting others stay away from a book or an author, is not bullying. It might cost you some sales, and that sucks, but it’s not bullying, nor is it an organized campaign to destroy someone’s career.
Hale’s account does not convince me that she was a victim of online bullying. But even if she was, there comes a point where she crossed a line from victim to perpetrator. She admits to stalking Blythe online. She then began stalking her in real life. She showed up at Blythe’s home, called her on the phone.
Blythe criticized Hale’s book and probably cost her some sales. Hale stalked Blythe, presenting herself as a very real threat. She went to Blythe’s home. She called her to say, “I know who you are.”
Not okay. Even if someone said mean things about your book. Even if you’re anxious and depressed.
Which leads me to wonder why the Guardian published this piece in the first place. My friend Barbarienne sees it as a cautionary tale. She also sees it as a warning from the author: “Don’t do what I did.”
I disagree. While I see some recognition that maybe Hale made mistakes, and that she was personally in a bad emotional space, I don’t see any understanding or awareness of the lines and boundaries she crossed, or how serious those violations were. Nor does the Guardian provide any sort of context or acknowledgement of the same. Hale ends her post with the nostalgic admission that she still wishes from time to time for confirmation that Blythe has seen those old messages. There are people reading this article as if Hale is a hero standing up to the bullies of the internet.
She’s not. She’s someone who stalked and harassed a book blogger and reviewer. Someone who, to my reading, still doesn’t seem to recognize the lines she crossed. Someone who leveraged her harassment into an article for the Guardian.
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
I've been slowly going through the Headspace meditation pack on anxiety, and one of the things it emphasizes is not trying to get rid of anxiety but trying to change one's relationship with it.
Similarly, I think I need to change my relationship with social media. And that requires me to think about what that relationship has looked like and currently looks like, and what I would want it to look like in an ideal world.
-----Needs that social media currently meets really well:
1. Fun. I read a handful of comics through DW; I follow a number of really wonderful weird, funny, cute, and random Twitter accounts that brighten my day. Even if I stopped using social media for actual socializing, I'd still employ it as an aggregator of niftiness.
2. Chronicling my life. Most of this has been happening on Twitter of late, but I'm finding that increasingly unsatisfying, and drifting back toward more long-form (searchable, taggable) journaling. Either way, though, public online autobiographical narration works far far better for me than any private diary ever has.
Hilariously, neither of these things is actually social
. One is almost pure input, and the other is almost pure output (with occasional replies/comments on both sides). But social media coincidentally does them really well!Needs that social media meets but with some problems:
3. Keeping up with news and gossip. The news is almost always bad news, and there's a lot of it, and I'm finding bad news especially taxing right now--but I also don't want to be totally out of the loop, and if a close friend is personally having a hard time I want to know about it and be able to support them. I think I want a weekly newsletter/digest version of my social media feeds, where I can mostly not think about it and just check in occasionally to find out what's going on. Alas, no such thing exists.Needs that social media no longer meets well:
4. Building and maintaining connections with people I know. A lot of people have abandoned LJ/DW, despite periodic attempts to revive them. Twitter's signal-to-noise ratio is increasingly poor. And I've already, with no particular agenda in mind, started finding other ways to stay in touch with people. I have biweekly Skype dates with Miriam and karenbynight
sent me a random email a few weeks ago that's turned into a lovely leisurely back-and-forth chat about whatever's on our minds. grahamsleight
often IMs me. I hang out on IRC with J and X. Perhaps it's time to actively seek similar alternative routes of direct connection with the people I would miss most if I were to step away from social media altogether (which I don't plan to do, but it's a useful way of prioritizing).Needs I used to meet with social media but don't currently have:
5. Getting to know people I don't already know. I have very little room in my life for new people, and I'm okay with that.
6. Social activism, i.e., advocating for change within my communities (as opposed to local/regional/national/global politics). It frankly feels too scary to be a loudmouth right now. I know that drinking from the firehose of bad news is influencing that feeling, so once I'm no longer swimming in other people's misery I might be able to regroup and figure out new ways to be an activist, but at the moment I'm not inclined to try.
Looking at that list, I think the major clash is between items 3 and 4. Twitter's biggest problem by far is that news and personal chatter all happen in the same place, almost inextricably. And if I can't handle the news, I don't get the personal chatter. (LJ/DW doesn't have this problem because I don't hang out on it the way I do on Twitter. I used to, but no one updates that much anymore. Plus the balance on LJ/DW is tilted much more toward the personal than toward the news, and I find it much easier to scroll past things I don't want to read.)
Fortunately, there are some technological solutions to some of these problems. Here's my plan for getting social Twitter without newsy Twitter:
* Switching from Hootsuite to Tweetdeck so that I can mute keywords, combine columns, and mute RTs on entire columns.
* Creating a "people I read regularly" list on @rosefox. Right now I use my @rjfprivate follow list for this, but I think I want the option of expanding my reading without giving more people access to my locked account.
* Only following people who mostly tweet about their personal lives and chat with other people I follow.
I've made the switch to Tweetdeck, and turned off RTs and image previews on my @rjfprivate home feed. The rest I can do when looking at unfiltered Twitter (so as to pick out the people I want to move to the daily-read list) doesn't make my heart pound.
As for getting the news and gossip I'm now going to be missing out on... honestly, I think I'll be okay. Anything huge and can't-miss will be discussed by and among the people I follow, and I'll see it there. I have some friends who occasionally email or IM me with "Have you heard?", and I can encourage those friends to do so more often if there's something they think I'll really want to know. And otherwise I'll just be somewhat less wired in than I have been, and that's okay.
I have hit the stage of dizzy exhaustion where I have to keep telling myself that it's tiredness and anxiety, not vertigo, so I'm going to wrap this up, take taurine, and go to bed while it's still dark out for a change.
Ancillary Sword: The all-piercing gun
Thoughts on Ann Leckie's Ancillary Sword
, behind a cut because the whole thing is spoilery.
(The short version, not all that related to what's behind the cut, is that Sword
is a better novel than its prequel, I enjoyed the hell out of it, and I quite recommend it.)
(Note that I haven't reread Ancillary Justice
since last winter.)( warning, 7,000 words of essay behind cut and oh do my wrists hurt )
- thinking about:
I'm over 2,000 words into a blogmetapostthing on Ancillary Sword with parenthetical cites and I'm only on p.62. Someone send help. Or hot chocolate. Or lolcats!
Meanwhile, I crave Copic markers but they're $7 apiece at the local Hobby Lobby, no. I'll save up for a set of Ciaos or something. Or give up and go back to digital coloring, since I haven't had the chance to play much with Manga Studio.
- thinking about:
Camille Fournier tweeted
about the high-quality writing being produced, for free, by Kathy Sierra, who recently left Twitter because of renewed harassment
. One of her examples was "Your app makes me fat"
, an essay about how poor user interface design, whether through incompetence or exploitative user "engagement", is a drain on users' cognitive resources that has real effects on our lives. The title comes from a study showing evidence that people doing mental work choose to eat more calories: hence, your app makes me fat.
Which is fine as far as it goes, but also makes me think about the reverse. Whether or not your app makes me fat, I can guarantee you that my diet makes me dumb. Thinking about this recently because of this stupid antibiotic blocking me from eating for hours. Let me tell you, when I'm hungry and I'm not eating, my entire brain
is thinking about not eating. I'm supposed to be drawing up something, or coordinating different disciplines, or writing some thing up, but am I? Balls I am. I'm thinking about food, and how it's right there, and how I am not eating it. How long till I can eat? Wow, is that familiar. Wow, do I remember this from weight-loss diets I have been on. Wow, is it nice that most of the time in my life now I just notice "Hey, I'm hungry," get a snack, and then blissfully not think about food
for a while. That is mental energy that I can spend on my job, my kids, my training that I'm doing, whatever; maybe even an app that I'm trying to learn how to use. And I'll always be happy if that app UI is designed better, but honestly even trying to learn how to use an app is probably a more productive use of mental energy for me than just grimly using that energy to not eat.
N. K. Jemisin recently posted a pic of her brand new tattoo on Facebook. Naturally, I immediately asked if she’d be willing to talk about it for Writer’s Ink
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Jemisin … where exactly have you been? I’ve reviewed her books here and here. She’s a good writer, both in her fantasy novels and with her blog. Her next work is a novella called “The Awakened Kingdom,” coming out in December.
Here’s Jemisin talking about the inspiration behind her tattoo:
I’ve never really wanted a tattoo just to have a tattoo, even though I’ve liked and admired them on other people all my life. I’m a big believer in acknowledging life-milestones, however, whatever those might be — and on the day I sold my first novel (in 2007) and thus began my career as a professional writer, I decided that I wanted this tattoo. For those who’ve ready my Dreamblood duology, the inspiration for the tattoo is probably obvious. In the novel, Gatherers are symbols rather than people, and thus they’re known more by the unique tattoos they wear on their shoulders than by their faces. Nijiri, a young apprentice Gatherer, is “the blue lotus”. I chose his tattoo rather than that of Nijiri’s master Ehiru — “the black rose” — because even though I’ve achieved a lifelong dream, getting published was only the beginning of the next stage of my life; I have a lot to learn, still. It’s possible that at some point in the future, when I feel like I’ve achieved some major goal as a writer, I might add Ehiru’s tattoo to the other shoulder. For now, I haven’t earned that yet.
This was to be my first tattoo, and I’m picky, so I chose to wait several years to find the perfect design rather than go ahead and get something I might be less than happy with. After awhile I started to despair of ever finding a design I might like — and then, out of the blue, in preparation for Arisia (where we’ll both be Guests of Honor), I saw a blue lotus that artist Lee Moyer had created based on my descriptions of Nijiri’s tattoo. That was it! And hey, I had a birthday coming up on September 19th, which meant it was time to treat myself to a very special present. So with Lee’s gracious permission, I took the design to Willie, the tattoo artist I’d researched, and he modified it slightly to suit my skin tone, etc. (He’s awesome, BTW.) It took 3.5 hours in the chair, and it’s only now stopped peeling, etc. I’m super-happy with it. Been wearing sleeveless stuff more than usual, lately, to show it off all the damn time.
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
In the past two weeks:
* Still working overtime. Expect that to continue for at least a couple more weeks.
* Did a big, difficult, emotionally draining freelance project. Have another one due late November.
* Am in the process of making my picks for the Best Books issue, which is always agonizing.
and P. visited.
* SFWA Mill & Swill.
* Two publisher events.
* Had a cold for about 12 hours. I think I scared it off.
* As X's ragweed allergies wind down, my leaf mold allergies wind up.
* The days are getting shorter. I'm lightboxing and going outside as much as I can but it's still tough.
* Started going to the gym three times a week, to keep building strength now that I'm done with PT.
* Still trying to keep up with Wanikani, though it's been a struggle.
* Got aggressively hooked on Spacechem and stayed up until 6:30 a.m. playing it. More than once. That shit is dangerous. I'm glad I finally beat it and got through the two full days of twitchy withdrawal.
* Never enough sleep, in general. Fridays are supposed to be freelance days but they keep turning into "catch up on sleep" days. Today I slept until nearly 2 p.m., and by the time I ate and went to the gym and came home and showered, my workday was done. That's a problem.
* Still wrangling a Readercon safety committee thing that's been in process for months.
* Massive PMS that's amplifying all my emotions.
* Had a big scary talk with J and X about a money thing (everything's fine, I just got myself worked up over it).
* And the big one: my community is eating itself in horrible ways, with a lot of people I know feeling extremely distressed. I'm personally feeling pretty anxious and frightened even though I think the risk of anything actually doing something awful to me is very low. But when three people in three days tell me they're being stalked, and doxxing and threats are everywhere, it's very hard to stop myself from constantly looking over my shoulder. Plus I know lots of women in tech and gaming and comics and right now that feels like saying "I know lots of people who live in a war zone". It's just really scary out there right now. Even on my super-filtered private Twitter feed, it's constant.
So I'm going to hide with the family for the weekend--no public Twitter, turning off RTs for a lot of people on private Twitter, no LJ/DW/blogs, no IM, no guests or socializing--and try to recuperate a bit. I keep forgetting that I'm not a journalist anymore (in the sense of being a reporter of news) and I can do that. It's okay if I miss something. I'm not on call.
(I have spent zero days, zero minutes, and zero seconds missing being a journalist. Chronicling my own life is difficult enough.)
Expect my presence here to be pretty minimal through at least the end of October while I recover from the beginning of October.
EDIT: I cried on J a bit before I went to bed--at 8:30 in the morning because I was too anxious to sleep--and said I felt like if I don't go out there and Activist It Up because I'm scared of being targeted, then I'm a coward and the terrorists have won. He said that regardless of whether it was safe to be an activist right now, I'm exhausted and burnt out and he'd be telling me to focus on self-care. With 8-a.m.-haven't-slept logic, I said, "Oh, I see. I have activist laryngitis. Until I rest up and get my voice back, I don't need to worry about what other people would want or not want me to do with that voice." So I am clinging to this order of operations: rest and recuperate first, then decide what to do once I am capable of doing anything at all.
- thinking about:
behavior.volunteering, body.allergies, body.sleep, events.cons.readercon, experiences.disaster, experiences.seasons, experiences.seasons.autumn, experiences.socializing, experiences.work, experiences.work.freelance, mind.wiring, mind.wiring.anxiety, stuff.games
I said something to derspatchel
earlier tonight and he said it made a good philosophy:In an imperfect world, your first priority is to stay safe. You can't change anything if you're dead.
Like all philosophies, of course, it is immediately susceptible to amendment, exceptions, and debate. I stand by the core.