a garden in riotous bloom
Beautiful. Damn hard. Increasingly useful.
other gardeners 
yhlee: snowflake (StoryNexus: snowflake)
Good: 300 words on Yuletide fic! Notes taken on first half of source. (I have to hit the library to get the other half, although I have a pretty good idea of it; but there are a couple details to look up already.)

Hmm: Yuletide fic looks like it wants to be more than 1,000 words long, so I'm actually not 30% done...

Bad: Goddammit, it's HALLOWEEN and the weather is still warm. Whyyyyyyyy. (Because I'm in Louisiana, that's why.) Well, it's not as warm as it could be, but I hear in some places north of us there's snow.

How is your Yuletide progress?

I have this notion that next Gencon I would like to cosplay, but I don't know how to begin and it would have to be a bought costume because I can't sew worth mentioning. Does anyone have pointers? Links to sites for beginners?

(God knows, I am so uncreative I don't even know what I would want to cosplay as, but I presume there are options.)
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)

Virgin Galactic's suborbital space plane SpaceShipTwo suffered a serious malfunction during a rocket-powered test flight over Mojave, California, today (Oct. 31) resulting in the loss of the spacecraft. The fate of the vehicle's pilot crew is unknown.
31 October 2014 10:24 - Yuletide!
rachelmanija: (Default)
Yuletide assignments have gone out! Without revealing your fandom, how do you feel about yours?

I am very excited about writing for my fandom! But if you are participating in Yuletide and have not yet written a "Dear Yuletide Writer" letter, please write a letter and link it in the link post below. You don't have to get into tons of detail, but a little about what you like about the fandom and maybe a few areas you'd be interested in seeing explored in a story would be nice. Also, if you requested two characters who have an ambiguous relationship in canon, it would be great to know whether you see them as lovers, friends, friends with unresolved sexual tension, etc.

Here's a link to my Dear Yuletide writer letter. Here's a link to the page where you can link to your letters.
31 October 2014 11:31 - November's Theme
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
All sponsored reviews and no two week digressions! The list of to-dos isn't super-long but long enough. I mean, anyone wants to commission more reviews, go ahead but

Phoenix Guard (own)
500 Years After (own)
Fire Logic (own)
Ancillary Sword (own)
Rivers of London (sigh)
Something Norton (part of the 50Ni50W, if that is OK, so beginning the week after Podkayne)
"The Reunion At The Mile-High" (atomigeddon coda) (own)

Did I miss any?

Also, to give my editor reasonable lead time, no review tomorrow so that I can reset to a one-day lead.
swan_tower: (Default)

Bones in the Parisian Catacombs
Creative Commons License
This work by http://www.swantower.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

In the late eighteenth century, health concerns led the city of Paris to empty all the cemeteries within city bounds and move the remains to a series of catacombs outside the walls. There are an estimated six million people down there — you see only a fraction of the remains on your tour — and most of it is very difficult to photograph, as they don’t allow tripods or flash (so as to protect the bones). This picture, however, came out splendidly.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)

I’ve been traveling since Thursday morning, and didn’t get the chance to round up some links for today. But that’s okay! Because with today being Halloween, I figured this was a good chance for folks to share their favorite Halloween-themed pictures and link. Awesome costumes, your favorite jack o’lantern, whatever makes you smile. Post a link in the comments and pass the smiles along.

(If you’re on LiveJournal, comments are sometimes flagged as spam if they contain links. Sorry about that, and I’ll try to despam as I can.)

See you next week!

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

ceciliatan: (default)

MU1_new_cover_100x150It’s Halloween time, and Day of the Dead, and the time when magic is strongest, at least that’s what I wrote in the Magic University books! In honor of the brand new edition of The Siren and the Sword (book one) coming out, I thought I would treat you all to a sweet excerpt!

Kyle has arrived at Harvard to discover he’s magical and belongs in the hidden magical university on the campus. Thrust suddenly into a curriculum he’s never studied before, Kyle finds some subjects more challenging than others. But here’s his girlfriend Jess to help him study…

(Scene after the cut! I did say NSFW, right?)

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from blog.ceciliatan.com.

sovay: (PJ Harvey: crow)
I have figured out why Autolycus has so many claws and little batwings of extra skin under his arms and why Hestia can sit upright and so easily open doors and why both of them enjoy human desserts. Our cats obviously descend from Behemoth, the black demon-cat that accompanied the Devil to Moscow in the spring of 1936. The liaisons by which he left children among the strays and pets of Moscow, Bulgakov must have omitted for modesty, and some of these demon-kittens must have emigrated over the years in order for our cats' mother to have ended up in Cambridge by this March. But I really think this explains it. Autolycus understands how to twist off seltzer caps. Hestia picks up bugs. They made multiple trips up a refrigerator to get at a macaron. We should not keep vodka in the house. They will drink it and we won't be able to figure out where the pickled mushrooms came from.
30 October 2014 23:01 - T-Shirt Tales
pantryslut: (Default)
Lori is wearing her Melville House t-shirt with "I Would Prefer Not To" emblazoned upon it. She enters the schoolyard.

C's Mom: I like your t-shirt.

Lori: Thanks!

C's Mom: Bartleby the Scrivener. Nice.

Lori: Extra points for knowing the source.

C's Mom: Of course I know it! It's my favorite story ever. Like, ever. It's so good. I love it. I love Melville.

Lori: [suddenly has a parent-crush on C's Mom][insert heart-eyed emoticon here]


Lori has taken the children to the Tea Shop on the Mills College campus.

Random Older Guy: I like your t-shirt.

Lori: Thanks!

ROG: Bartleby the Scrivener. Great story.

Lori: It's one of my favorites.

ROG: Some people say it's the greatest American short story ever written.

Lori: [sincerely] Really? I didn't know that.

ROG: Yes. I had an instructor once who said that choosing the Great American Novel is contentious, but choosing the Great American Short Story, no contest.


Seriously, folks, I didn't know there was quite such a Bartleby fan club out there. Huh.
30 October 2014 11:59 - inktober 27
jinian: (Collomia grandiflora)
 photo 2014-10-30-inktober27_zps250c780a.jpg

Somehow when inked this little brown bat has an underbite which was not evident in the pencil stage, but he's still pretty rad. I had a little brown bat friend once -- he showed up in my parents' cabin and I guess we had no concerns about rabies (in retrospect: what) because he seemed kinda under the weather but nonaggressive and so we kept him. He was called Aloysius, I think mostly thanks to my friend S who was living with us at the time. Eventually he declined and died (without biting anyone, so we were right about no rabies, but still).
yhlee: Drop Ships from Race for the Galaxy (RTFG)
By way of Soren Roberts on Twitter, origami sheep. So cute! I am the world's worst at origami, but I can appreciate it when other people do it!

- recent reading
Michael A. Stackpole. Malicious Intent. Battletech tie-in novel, which I took a ridiculous amount of time to read because I have no attention span. I wasn't at first sure that all the strands would come together--Stackpole's BT novels tend to be aggressively multi-POV--but they did at the end, in a very satisfying manner. I really grew to like Doc a lot. And to my great surprise, I think I have become a Vlad Ward/Katrina Steiner-Davion shipper--they don't have a lot of time on-page together but the chemistry is astonishing.

Reginald Bretnor, ed. The Craft of Science Fiction, ©1976. A collection of essays. I have to confess I've never heard of Bretnor, or if I have encountered him before (possible), I have completely forgotten about him.

Essays: Read more... )

[personal profile] daidoji_gisei, if you can find this through your library, or a used copy, I think you'd enjoy some of the essays. I recommend in particular: Clement, Spinrad, Williamson; but have a look for yourself. (I got this out of the library myself.) Alternately, if you just want a couple of essays, I can photocopy them for you.
sovay: (Claude Rains)
Night before last, I had nightmares so bad I had to wake myself from them by screaming. I tried twice and made no sound: sleep paralysis. The third time I think I was awake enough to be shouting into a darkened room for real, but [livejournal.com profile] derspatchel and I were on different sleep schedules and he didn't hear me. Brick-walled alleys and twisting drainpipes. In a warehouse, a room with a safe, a room full of file cabinets, a room with a bare wooden desk, a few pencils and a swing-arm lamp, all empty and cavernous with electric light. A portfolio of charcoal sketches and a series of illustrated adventures in a style that looked like Chris Van Allsburg, but the name on them was Millar. A rapist of children and a killer of women: nothing about him looked wrong except that he never listened. He didn't even have to make the effort not to. No one that I valued was human to him.

Last night's dreams were reassuringly novelistic and therefore useless to me at the present time: the annual get-together of an association something like the Camp Fire Girls, the permeable boundaries between here and elsewhere, and a cross-generational story that only occurred to me as I was waking as a variant on Tam Lin. A father has lost his daughter in the otherworld; she was forfeit for some decision he made decades ago, when he was a film producer with a coke habit and a trick of seeing into places he shouldn't, although he mostly chalked it up to the drugs at the time. He's been looking for her since, along with the demon lover she disappeared with, with a few ideas of how and where and a fragmentary knowledge of what he'll have to endure if he wants to free her—not knowing, as always, if even free she'll want to return. I wasn't sure he was so human himself; he should have been older than he looked, if his career started in the '70's. He was played more or less by Denholm Elliott, though, who did look younger than he was for years. He wore a very crumpled suit and more than one tie. He said it was a talisman. I couldn't tell if he was right; it wouldn't have been visible to me if it was.

My body is not treating me well at all. We had dinner tonight at Taipei Tokyo. Sushi is a form of self-care. I still haven't had onigiri, but with all the recent talk about foxes, inarizushi really seemed like a good idea. I scored a windfall DVD of From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) at Goodwill while unsuccessfully looking for a new corduroy jacket. I may watch it to cheer up with.
30 October 2014 18:38 - NaNoWriMo letters of encouragement
yhlee: wax seal (hxx Deuce of Gears)
If you want a snail letter of NaNoWriMo commiseration/encouragement/whatever-would-help-you, complete with wax seal (the one pictured in the icon), leave a comment with your address! All comments are screened.

I'm sort of panicking over the fact that I have a much better idea of who my antagonist is than my protagonist.

Meanwhile, I have my Yuletide assignment and am mostly through source review. Am going to attempt to start writing tomorrow despite PANICKING. Wish me luck! And good luck to fellow Yuletiders.
omnia_mutantur: (Default)
Day six.   Listening to this song on repeat.

Either my heart is willing to sacrifice almost everything to keep this ship afloat, or maybe it's unable to tell worth from worthless anymore.  But this still feels worth so very, very much.

I've tried to explain, over and over again, that the reason I can't have nice things is because what if I like them and then they go away and I'm just left bleeding again?  And then what if that's the thing I can't heal from. the tipping point I'm so afraid of where I start crying and never stop.   And my therapist tries to explain that if I'm the one doing the nice things, I don't have to worry about them going away and I laugh, of course, and then I cry, because I am certainly not a reliable source of anything for myself.   

I keep telling myself "no, don't think that.  think some other thing instead" but I can't find any sufficiently interesting other thing.  I keep poking at the puzzle, trying to understand, trying to find new ways to think about things, trying to find some interpretation that doesn't trigger me, some way that I feel chosen and special and cherished.

I suspect I'm going to break my streak over the weekend, Abundance's presence changes all of my routines, but I'm going to try. 
30 October 2014 10:30 - why I hate the dress shoe industry
swan_tower: (Default)

A while ago I posted about needing new dress shoes. A lot of you gave helpful feedback, whether on LJ, on DW, or by email, and I was optimistic for the future.

Then I actually tried to get some shoes.

Really, I should have started this hunt way sooner — and with that in mind, I’m going to continue the hunt, because the shoes I bought for my immediate purpose meet basically none of my initial criteria. The heels are too high, they have no padding, they have no arch support. They’re just the best I was able to obtain on short notice. The shoes I found that might have worked weren’t available in my size, or couldn’t be obtained in time (one site has no shipping option faster than 10 business days — wtf). But this rant is about something bigger.

This rant is about the dress shoe industry basically telling me to go to hell.

ME: I would like a pair of heels that are not an ergonomic disaster.
INDUSTRY: I suppose I can help you. Here, have a small selection of shoes with padding and arch support and heels of less than two inches. They are very suitable to wear to work.
ME: No, I need something dressy. Evening wear shoes, not business shoes.
INDUSTRY: Oooh! We have those! You can enjoy a wide selection of beautifully designed platforms and wedges and stilettos, with heels ranging from three inches up.
ME: Did you forget my first criteria? I want dressy shoes without insanely high heels.
INDUSTRY: Three inches isn’t insane.
ME: Yes, it is. Look, I don’t want to argue; just give me the kind of shoe I’m looking for.
INDUSTRY: They don’t exist.
ME: What? Why not?
INDUSTRY: Because fuck you, that’s why. If you want to look fancy, then you have to pay the price. You have to be unstable, incapable of walking quickly, and in pain by the end of the evening. Those are the rules.

There are exceptions — a very, very, very small number of them, in the grand scheme of things. But on the whole, the dress shoe industry is flat-out uninterested in letting women look nice and take care of their feet. The shoes that are comfortable are also sensible, in the aesthetic meaning of that word. Even though there’s no reason you can’t design an attractively strappy shoe with a heel of, say, an inch and a half. Even though there’s no reason you can’t build a small amount of padding into the sole of something other than a sedate pump. We live in a world where anything less than two and a half inches is a “low heel,” and the three-inch mark is treated as the median. Never mind the detrimental health effects of wearing shoes like that on a regular basis: as a woman, you can wear good shoes, or you can look nice, but you can’t do both at once. (And god help you if you decide to flip the bird to the notion of “looking nice.”)

Ten minutes at DSW and I wanted to light the entire dress shoe section on fire. I ended up walking out with a pair of not-too-expensive heels that have no padding or arch support, but do unexpectedly offer ankle support — not by intent, I imagine, but simply because they have a decorative bit that laces up. These are not the shoes I want; they are not the dressy black heels I can wear with many outfits for the next ten years. I’m going to have to keep searching for those. But I can’t say I’m very enthusiastic about the hunt, because the industry has zero interest in providing me with what I want.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

swan_tower: (Default)

A Mausoleum in Brompton
Creative Commons License
This work by http://www.swantower.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Closing out our tour of the three great cemeteries I’ve visited, we have this mausoleum in Brompton, which makes me think inescapably of New Orleans — probably because that’s one of the few places in the U.S. where you’re liable to find this kind of mausoleum, weathered and stained and picturesque.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

30 October 2014 09:51 - The wit and wisdom of Stephen Jones
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
There are no conflicts an experienced editor and writer cannot alter with carefully selected words:

[Lovecraft's] detractors are pygmies [...]

When you consider some of the phrases Jones could have borrowed from his idol - "a loathsome, gorilla-like thing" leaps to mind - what Jones' actually wrote seems almost harmless.
30 October 2014 09:00 - Crystal Clear
ceciliatan: (darons guitar)

Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

When Sarah went to the ladies room, I wasn’t entirely surprised when the next person who sat down next to me was Jordan Travers, who I gathered was also something of a regular at this hangout.

“Trav, awesome to see you.” We exchanged a complicated handshake I had almost forgotten about.

Read the rest of this entry » )
29 October 2014 23:25 - Steel City, Oct 29
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
As Dragoneye floats over the rooftops of Steel City's China Town, he sees an older man beckoning him from the ground. The amiable old fellow hands a kid named Jasper Thompson to return to Mr. and Mrs. Thompson. Assuming little Jasper is lost, Dragoneye accepts, picks up Jasper and floats back into the sky.

Instead of giving Dragoneye directions, Jasper begins to explain how his parents were murdered, which is brutally. This is off-putting but somehow Dragoneye cannot stop listening, which is how the wolf manages to get into a position where it can leap up and latch onto Dragoneye's leg.

The good news is, Hexenwolf didn't manage to actually hurt Dragoneye; Dragoneye's defenses are very good. The bad news is, now Dragoneye has a psychopathic boy in his arms and a wolf clamped onto his leg. And things are going to get worse.
Read more... )
omnia_mutantur: (Default)
Day five, full of fail.

I did not get to have lunch with Delight and completely failed to leave my couch in order to go over to Amazing's.  Really, today I've mostly managed to do some laundry, go to the dentist, and sob a lot.  I'm now eating oatmeal and pumpkin flavored tortilla chips for dinner.     I'm trying to do some comfort reading, it's not really working, I can't focus enough to do code homework, I'm instead playing KoL, and staring into space trying to talk myself out of imagining ever more spectacular disasters, all the bangs or the whimpers things could end with.

I mostly don't want to tell the whole sordid story yet here on the internet, a thing happened, I'm trying to work it out, I don't know how, I don't know what resources to use, I don't know who to talk to (if anyone) I only understand half of the things I'm feeling.    (my therapist is almost unseemingly interested in how much deep deep trauma this is all accessing, so I get to talk a lot about wanting to be good enough, wanting to be worth something and feeling like I'm not, and like I'm an idiot for wanting anything in the first place.)   I have this sick tight feeling in my chest almost all the time, I cry all the time (I was going to say at the drop of a hat, but it's not hats we're dropping here, it's kettlebells and grand pianos).

I had a really lovely skype breakfast date with Abundance.  We talked about tarot, watched an episode of adventure time together, I ate pumpkin-cranberry-apple bread from when pigs fly with apple butter on it, and drank my magical limited edition coffee cake tea from David's Tea.   Light's present came in the mail, I watched Pontypool.    I remember Bespoke telling me it was never the lyric I posted, but the line it implied, and I smile because it's more than half-true.   My dogwalker asked if Moppet could be in a photoshoot for her revised dogwalking website.

I have to find a nursery rhyme to make a booklet out of for letterpress class. I'm tempted to find something dark, or go for the "monday's child is fair of face" because it's always entertained me that I am a Sunday's child.  but I keep coming back to counting rhymes about crows.

One for sadness, two for mirth
Three for a wedding, four for a birth
Five for laughing, six for crying
Seven for sickness, eight for dying
Nine for silver, ten for gold
Eleven a secret that will never be told.
29 October 2014 19:31 - my opinions about Marvel movie stuff
kate_nepveu: Captain America's shield (Captain America)
The additional Ultron footage officially released last night: only about this, not future movies )

The Phase-whatever title reveals: spoilers if you've managed to avoid pop-culture headlines in the last day )

The leaked Ultron footage with Steve and Tony talking: further discussion of title reveals, speculation on footage )

Also, there was an announcement trailer for one of the way-down-the-road movies, which I can't bring myself to care about, but if you do, there are you.

Did I miss anything?
29 October 2014 14:28 - Blame TV Tropes
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
I have to wonder if perhaps the behavior of the protagonist in Underwood's Before He Cheats is misguided [1]. Although given that the music video lifts imagery from King's CARRIE, I guess the BF and everyone within a mile of him got off easy.

1: It does not help that I heard "I took a Louisville slugger to both headlights," as "I took a Louisville slugger to both her thighs". Although, hmmm, the protagonist of the song does not lash out at people, just objects.
29 October 2014 09:47 - Reading Wednesday
pantryslut: (Default)
I finished "Almanac of the Dead" late last week.

I liked it. I did feel like some of the sections in the latter quarter of the book -- "The Americas" specifically -- were a little rushed and lumpy, but I persevered. I liked its scope and its ambition and really, I would have read 300 more pages of letting the story air out a bit more.

There are also some oddities about reading a book with apocalyptic undertones ~25 years after it was written. Things changed, and then they changed back again, and so there's a weird sense in which the book was both wrong and still might be right. Like, drought, no drought, drought again. Weird, but appropriate.

And while I'm here, let's address the charges of homophobia I've seen leveled at the book. Yeah, I see what critics mean. Yeah, it didn't bother me overall, but then again I am not a white gay man. Yeah, I see Silko try to balance it out later with the AIDS references in the last section of the book, and I think that is not entirely successful. So, I am going to mark it up as "problematic" but in the non-euphemistic sense: there are problems with the way Silko goes about doing what she's doing with the homosexuality in the book (or, in some cases, the don't-touch-me asexuality), but I see why she is doing them, too, and so it's a problem that may have no solution.

As an aside, a lot of the landscape where "Almanac of the Dead" takes place has a tiny sliver of my own history embedded in it. My mother was born in Tucson and spent much of her childhood in Guatemala. My mother's family were border-crossers; my grandfather was born in Sinaloa and held dual citizenship; he met my grandmother in Arizona. I read a lot about cactuses in the Sonoran desert when I was a kid. etc.


I've been thinking about what [livejournal.com profile] seyewailo said in the comments of a previous entry, that someone had told her that reading "Almanac of the Dead" was "devastating" for white people and she wasn't sure why.

I'm not sure why, either, alas. Maybe it's devastating for the kind of white people who are able to forget that 500 years or so worth of fully justified resentment is a real thing that must be reckoned with? That it comes complete with a documented history that hasn't been forgotten so much as suppressed? That said history is really, really brutal, blood-soaked and death-filled? That there are indigenous people who haven't just said "well, might as well just accept the status quo"? That being personally sincere and pretending to be "mostly harmless" might not be enough?

...that the book doesn't spend enough time telling white people what they should do about it?

I am speculating.

But hey, it gives a shout-out to Marx (but not Marxism), so I'm good.

P.S. Silko's humor is wicked.
29 October 2014 10:00 - links for the fighty types
swan_tower: (Default)

These have been piling up for a while, so I might as well put them all in one post:

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

29 October 2014 11:37 - Antares cargo rocket CATOs
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)

Antares rocket on ISS resupply mission explodes seconds after launch

Question: what's the puff of vapour we see coming out of the left side maybe halfway up at the 13s mark?
29 October 2014 08:00 - A Year in Pictures – Highgate Urn
swan_tower: (Default)

Highgate Urn
Creative Commons License
This work by http://www.swantower.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

One final shot from Highgate: another funerary urn, this one beneath a tree whose clusters of berries were catching the sunlight beautifully.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

29 October 2014 09:22 - inktober 25 and 26
jinian: (bachelor's button bud)
October 25
My elephant jack-o'-lantern from [personal profile] sovay's party. He remains adorable and on the porch. (And wow, brush pen and pumpkin are a great combination.)

 photo 2014-10-28-inktober25_zpsb46a0227.jpg

October 26
Black Forest cake made by me and [personal profile] rushthatspeaks. Fun with representational shading!

 photo 2014-10-28-inktober26_zps70f9fc7e.jpg
29 October 2014 08:55 - ICON Schedule
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)

Tomorrow, I’m off to the wilds of Iowa to play Toastmaster at ICON 39. ICON is always fun, and this year I get to pick on guests of honor Elizabeth Bear, Scott Lynch, Lar deSouza, and Megan Lara. I’m told that I should get Scott up on stage at opening ceremonies to read erotica in his gnome voice…

I’ll probably be reading my story from the next Chicks in Chainmail anthology on Saturday, for anyone who might want to swing by for that. My full schedule is below.

Looking forward to seeing folks! And for the rest of you, I’ll catch up next week when I get back.


Thursday, October 30

  • 6:30 pm, B&N Booksigning

Friday, October 31

  • 1:00 pm, Dreamcon
  • 7:00 pm, Opening Ceremonies
  • 9:00 pm, How SF/F Challenges Your Mind

Saturday, November 1

  • 9:00 am, Getting Through Your First Draft (Preregistered Paradise ICON participants only)
  • 10:00 am, Author Meet & Greet
  • 1:00 pm, Blogging Do’s and Don’ts
  • 3:00 pm, Reading by Jim C. Hines
  • 4:00 pm, GoH Interview
  • 6:30 pm, Art and Charity Auction
  • 8:00 pm, Getting Published
  • 9:00 pm, Things I wish I’d known before I started writing

Sunday, November 2

  • 12:00 pm, Beyond SF 101

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

28 October 2014 22:43 - "A well-oiled machine"
rosefox: A man's head with a panel open to show gears, and another man looking inside. (examined head)
I got plenty of sleep and felt just as wretched when I woke up as I had when I went to bed. Usually taurine is a bedtime thing; today I took it within an hour of waking up.

Once it had kicked in a bit, I took public Twitter off my Tweetdeck screen, reconsidered and closed Tweetdeck altogether, opened up [twitter.com profile] tiny_oasis* in its own window, and threw myself into getting work done. I blasted through my to-do list and thoroughly cleaned out my inbox. I got up and showered and dressed, and realized I hadn't eaten, and ate in front of the big window in X's room so I'd get a bit of sun, and went out to the store because five minutes outside is better than no time outside.

* [twitter.com profile] tiny_oasis is a Twitter account run with a little script I stole put together over the weekend. It tweets periodic reminders to breathe, drink water, stretch, think about pleasant things, etc. It makes me happy.

When X got home, they congratulated me on engaging my coping mechanisms. I blinked a bit. I hadn't even realized that was what I was doing. I didn't want to be anywhere near my emotions, which were a roiling sinkhole of awfulness, so I shut them away and did my best to live on a purely intellectual plane. That's not really sustainable long-term, but it got me through the day. That said, I was rather surprised that I got a lot done rather than just huddling under the blankets and playing Transport Empire until my arm fell off.

When I fell into misery at the end of 2012/beginning of 2013, there was a terrible tipping point night where I said, "Okay, this isn't just something I can bootstrap through. I need help." And as soon as I made that leap, I was researching therapists and going to my doctor and getting on Zoloft and self-caring to the max. I just had to recognize that it was time to run the mental health care programs. Today wasn't anything like on that scale, but more importantly, today I didn't need to consciously make the leap. I just started doing all the right things.

In mid-2013 I wrote up a depression symptom checklist (thanks again to X being perceptive and connecting a whole bunch of different things that I was, once again, thinking of as one-off things I could handle as they come up) and a list of self-care protocols. I'm doing just about everything on that self-care list already; things like working out and only working when it's work time have become daily habits. That's pretty awesome.

I'm feeling a lot better than I was this morning, and last night. I hope it lasts. If it doesn't, at least I have a good idea of what to do.
28 October 2014 17:38 - "Know the time, know the light"
omnia_mutantur: (Default)
Day four,

Oh, therapy.  You destroy me almost every week.   

Today was all about how I believe I must figure out what I did wrong to end up here,  because if I can figure out what I did wrong, how it was my fault, then there's the outside chance that I can change myself enough to keep it from happening again and then I won't hurt like this again.  With the parallel track of if I just didn't expect so much from the world, I wouldn't be hurt when people treated me badly, so obviously the thing that brings about despair is an excess of self-esteem.

My therapist actually snorted when I said "excess of self-esteem".   My therapist is the best.

Abundance and I are challenging each other to do one social, one education and one nice for ourselves thing every day, and then check in weekly about our progress.   I've been stumped by what it means to be nice to myself, but am trying to use things I think of as unnecessary indulgences and regloss them as nice.

Right now, I'm on a study date with Light at PSB, scooping the foam out of my almond steamer with a piece of taza chocolate peppermint stick chocolate bar.  It's as messy as it sounds, and possibly even more delightful.   I may need a bath.
rachelmanija: (Books: old)
The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo is a charming novella about Geok Huay (Jade Yeo), a young writer living in London in the 20s. When she writes a scathing review of a prominent novelist's latest book, he responds by inviting her to a party and flirting. A writer needs life experience, so how can she decline the opportunity for the learning experience of an affair?

The book has elements of romance, but it's more of a coming-of-age story; the affair is not particularly romantic, and includes a hilarious, deliberately non-erotic sex scene in which Geok Huay earnestly tries to mentally describe a penis for future use in her writing. The actual romance is plausible but sketchily developed.

There's not much real conflict and it seems implausible that Read more... ), but the book isn't really about the plot. It's about Geok Huay's voice. And her voice is a complete delight. I really, really enjoyed reading this book. It's the sort of book where you keep wanting to read funny bits aloud to any companion you might have on hand while you're reading it. The humor and meta-commentary on story and writing reminded me a bit of Cold Comfort Farm.

I reproduce an excerpt below, so you can get a sense of the writing style. If you like the excerpt, you will almost certainly like the book. (If you don't, you probably won't.) It's only $2.99 - well worth the price.

Saturday, 7th August 1920

I had tea with the intolerable aunt today. Aunt Iris, the one who is so rich she has a new fur every year, and so mean she has installed a tip box by the door of every WC in her house, so you have to pay a charge every time you need to go. And so sinfully vainglorious I remember she came to visit us at home once and wore a wonderful glossy black mink fur. She sat on the sofa with a fixed grin on her face, sweating gallons in the heat. Ma had to send Koko out to get the doctor. It was just before New Year and Ma was terrified Aunt Iris would go into an apoplexy in our drawing room–which would have been such bad luck.

I had my angle of attack all planned out today, though. On Wednesday I’d found out how much a piece of chocolate cake cost at the restaurant, and I went in with the exact change in my purse. When the waiter asked me what I wanted, I said: “Chocolate cake, please”, and I counted out my coins and paid him right then and there.

“I haven’t got any more money than that,” I explained.

Aunt Iris was furious: she looked like an aunt and she was wearing her furs, of course. Even the English must have thought it peculiar. But even so she didn’t offer to pay. She ordered two different kinds of cake and a pot of their most expensive tea, just to show me. But I profited in the end because she couldn’t finish even half of one of her slices of cake. I whipped out my notebook and tore out a page and wrapped the other slice in that.

“I’ll save you the hassle of eating it, auntie,” I said. “You must be so full now! I don’t know how you stay so slim at your age.”

I hadn’t meant the reference to her age as a jibe. My mother is a very modern woman in most ways, but she would still be offended to be accounted any younger than she is. Her opinion is that she did not struggle her way to the august age of forty-three only to have the dignity accorded to her years snatched away from her.

But Aunt Iris has become quite Western from living here so long. She has a passionate hunger for youth. It is especially hard on her to be thwarted in it because the British can never tell an Oriental’s age, so she’s been accustomed to being told she looks ten years younger than she is.

“My dear Jade,” she said in her plushest voice–her voice gets the more velvety the crosser she is–“I know you don’t mean to be impolite. Not that I’m saying anything against your dear mother at all–your grandmother wouldn’t have known to teach her these things, of course, considering her circumstances. But as an aunt I do feel I have the right to give you–oh, not a scolding, dearest, but advice, meant in the most affectionate way, you know–given for your sake.”

The swipe at my grandmother’s “circumstances” made me unwise. Aunt Iris is not really an aunt, but a cousin of Ma’s. Her mother was rich and Ma’s mother was poor. But my grandmother was as sharp as a tack even if she couldn’t read and Aunt Iris’s mother never had two thoughts to rub together, even though she had three servants just to look after her house.

“You should call me Geok Huay, Auntie, please,” I said. “With family, there’s no need for all this ‘Jade’.”

I spoke in an especially Chinese accent just to annoy her. Aunt Iris’s face went prune-like.

“Oh, but Jade is such a pretty name,” she said. “And ‘Geok Huay’, you know!” She looked as if my name were a toad that had dropped into her cup of tea. “‘Geok Huay’ in the most glamorous city in the world, in the twentieth century! It has rather an absurd sound to it, doesn’t it?”

“No more absurd than Bee Hoon,” I said. “I’ve always wished I could name a daughter of mine Bee Hoon.”

A vein in Aunt Iris’s temples twitched.

“It means ‘beautiful cloud’,” I said dreamily. “Why doesn’t Uncle Gerald ever call you Bee Hoon, Auntie?”

Aunt Iris said hastily:

“Well, never mind–you’d best take the cake, my dear. Are you sure you don’t want sandwiches as well?”

I was not at all sure I did not want sandwiches. I said I would order some just in case, and ordered a whole stack of them: ham and salmon and cheese and cucumber. Aunt Iris watched me deplete the stack in smiling discontent.

“Greedy little creature!” she tittered. “I would rap your knuckles for stuffing yourself, but you rather need feeding. You are a starveling little slip of a thing, aren’t you? Rose and Clarissa, now, have lovely figures. They are just what real women should look like, don’t you think?”

“You mean they have bosoms and I don’t,” I thought, but did not say. It didn’t seem worth trying to enunciate through a mouthful of sandwich.

The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
Aside from the fact they turned up in the same neighborhood and look similar, I mean. Neither one appears able to master sleeping on laps.

Not 100% keen on the current experiment of standing with a hind paw on either shoulder and trying to drape across my head.
28 October 2014 11:30 - In the line of fire
swan_tower: (Default)

On Friday I hit a tipping point and posted about #GamerGate.

I spent a while thinking about it before I wrote that post: not so much what I was going to say (I’d had that taking shape in my head for a while), but whether I should say it. The internal conversation went something like this:

OUTRAGED BRAIN: Aaaaaaaugh must rant.
NERVOUS BRAIN: . . . do we really want to jump into that pit?
OUTRAGED BRAIN: But if we don’t, we’re part of the problem!
NERVOUS BRAIN: Yeah, but we might get trolls coming after us.
OUTRAGED BRAIN: Honey, our microphone ain’t that big. Nobody will notice.
NERVOUS BRAIN: They will if we use the hashtag.
OUTRAGED BRAIN: So? We’re still nobodies in the grand scheme of things. How bad could it get?
NERVOUS BRAIN: The answer to that question is exactly what I’m afraid of.
OUTRAGED BRAIN: What, you think somebody’s going to bother doxxing us?
NERVOUS BRAIN: No. But what if they do.
OUTRAGED BRAIN: You realize this is exactly what they want — to frighten us into silence.

And lo, I posed, and lo, I attracted some Twitter trolls. I responded to a few of them, not because I thought it would do any good with that specific person — at least a couple were almost certainly sockpuppets — but because it might do some good with people reading the conversation. Even then, though, I set some ground rules for myself: I’d give people maybe three or five chances to say anything of use, and if they didn’t (or if they set me off faster than that), I’d mute them.

Some of them didn’t even really merit that much consideration. But like I said, having the conversation in public might do some good, and since I haven’t been involved in this (or any major internet altercation) very much, I have the emotional resources to engage, at least for now. I can see, though, how that would change very fast: even dealing with the limited response I got ate most of my morning, and had things gotten scarier than they did, it would have drained me in no time flat.

Which is to say: the tactics work. Unfortunately. Even while I’m laughing at their transparency, they’re still eating away at me. And this is when I’m wandering around in the shallow end. I don’t know how people do it, the Anita Sarkeesians of the world, the ones who are on the front lines of this crap for an extended period of time. I hope I never find out firsthand — and yet, it’s possible that someday I will, because see the conversation above. I do not want to let fear for what might happen stop me from saying what I need to.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

swan_tower: (Default)

Berries on a Brompton Grave
Creative Commons License
This work by http://www.swantower.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

I am not enough of a botanist to know what these berries are, but I liked the bright scatter they made across a grave slab in Brompton.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

28 October 2014 09:00 - Golden Blunders
ceciliatan: (darons guitar)

Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

(Notice to Kickstarter backers! Surveys are out! Please respond ASAP: look for email from Kickstarter asking to confirm your address and other info! More below… -ctan)

Since I’d last visited Sarah her career had taken a couple of leaps and turns. (I forgot to say: we did go out to dinner once or twice when she came to LA but nothing of consequence to report there.) She’d moved into a new apartment: this one on Central Park East, and not a sublet, so it had a lot less stuff in it and felt a lot less homey, but she hadn’t been there very long. She assured me she’d fill it up with things soon enough. She was going out on tour that coming summer, North America and Western Europe, and she had this plan she was going to come back with souvenirs from everywhere she’d been.

“You seem skeptical of the idea,” she had said.

Read the rest of this entry » )
28 October 2014 09:15 - GamerGate and Diversity
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)

A week or two back, some GamerGate folks put together the following graphic to try to prove … something. I think this was meant to go along with #NotYourShield, and to show that GamerGate is inclusive and diverse and so on, whereas four of the people who have spoken out against GamerGate are white men. So there!


There are a few problems here, one of which is that whoever put this thing together doesn’t seem to know what “Check your privilege” means. More significantly, if you’re trying to demonstrate that your movement is so diverse and inclusive and welcoming, you’ve got to pay attention to who you put on that pedestal. Otherwise, someone like me might decide to post a modified version of your graphic…

That ended up getting retweeted more than 500 times, and drew a bit of heat from folks associated with GamerGate.

One critique was that Brennan’s quote about coming up with the idea for 8chan while tripping on mushrooms didn’t really fit in with the rest. That’s a fair point, and I agree. Brennan didn’t seem to have the same habit of saying nasty and/or hateful stuff as the others. I included the mushrooms quote because it made me laugh, but I probably shouldn’t have. My bad.

A number of folks claimed that I had taken quotes out of context. Which makes me wonder what context would make things like calling Zoe Quinn a whore acceptable. Of course, while GamerGate folks were busy saying these quotes were out of context, Mr. Villena jumped in to reply to me, saying, “For the record, I STAND BY EVERY WORD.” But I’m sure I’m taking that out of context as well, eh?

One GG supporter wanted to know, “What the f*** does #GamerGate have to do with diversity?” A question which might better be directed at the people who created and are promoting that original graphic.

I was amused to note that these tireless defenders of ethics in journalism also tried (and failed) to get places to cancel author events with me on the basis of my “hate speech” and harassment of minorities, the disabled, immigrants, etc. I’m not sure when pointing out hateful things someone has said became character assassination and hate speech. But I guess the assumption is that being disabled or transgender or gay should somehow shield you from criticism, or from being called on things you’ve said.

The thing is, as certain folks have demonstrated, it’s possible to be both a minority and a bigoted asshat. Weird, huh?

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

28 October 2014 09:07 - inktober 23 and 24
Running a little behind, still getting some drawing done so mission generally accomplished. :)

October 23
Squirrel with an acorn in its mouth! This is so cute and I've seen it several times this year. I tried to go for a minimal line in this one but my natural inclination is so not that...

 photo 2014-10-27-inktober23_zps794daf82.jpg

October 24
Inky cap mushrooms really do deliquesce this picturesquely. Sometimes.

 photo 2014-10-27-inktober24_zpsf58de142.jpg
28 October 2014 03:36 - "Fleeeee"
rosefox: Two cartoon characters banging on the paper trying to get out. (desperate)
I went on vacation, ostensibly. It was a very low-key trip. I took the train to Boston on Friday. I spent all day Saturday with four people (plus a brief cameo by a fifth), and then spent all day Sunday with two of the same people and two other people. I like all those people a great deal and we had a lot of fun together. There was strolling, and buying used books, and cooking and eating tasty foods, and soaking up October sunshine, and snuggling on a comfy couch. I took the train home today. All very relaxing.

I am so tightly wound you could run a watch off me at triple speed.

All I can think about is getting out of town again somehow. The three of us were planning to go upstate this coming weekend, but the person who was going to catsit needs to rescue other cats from an unhappy situation (which is totally understandable—cats in need of rescue always come first) and no one else we know can do it, and J and X weren't nearly as enthusiastic about the going-upstate idea as I was. So we're going to take a day trip back to our old stomping grounds in Inwood and walk in Inwood Hill Park. And that will be lovely, absolutely. And I'll still get a quiet weekend with my spouses. And Sam-the-cat won't hate me for abandoning her two weekends in a row. And maybe it's for the best if I don't drive while my shoulder tendons feel like steel cables. But I want to be somewhere that isn't here in a really fundamental way and I suspect a day trip to Inwood isn't going to do much for that.

Everything this weekend reminded me of another place. The train came out of a tunnel and I simultaneously expected to see the suburbs outside of Melbourne and the countryside between Tokyo and Osaka. The golden autumn light felt like our last trip to London. I wanted to be anywhere, anywhere, anywhere else. I'm homesick in reverse.

I suspect this is one part tiredness (it was not the sort of vacation where I got to sleep in, though at least I mostly got to bed at reasonable-for-me hours) and one part community/social media stress (Tweetdeck with retweets turned off has made public Twitter usable for me again, which is wonderful, but the anxiety has not entirely gone away) and one part still working overtime and one additional part tiredness because I really am very tired.

Also I got allergy-triggered by fucking incompetent restaurateurs on Sunday, and I sailed through it with the sort of carefully constructed serenity that means I'm just putting off the panic attack until later when it's more convenient. So perhaps that would explain the pounding heart and wobbly feeling I'm having right now. It's not vertigo. I checked by looking at a fixed point, and there was no spinning or other visual disturbance. But I feel like I'm on a moored boat that's bobbing up and down on the tide.

X and I are going to Long Island for our elopeaversary in a few weeks. Maybe that will help. No socializing, no couch-surfing. Just us and a motel suite with a kitchenette. And a car, if we want, but we could get by without one if driving feels like more than I can handle.

Maybe I should have gone to London this summer. But when the might-have-been-in-London weeks happened I was so happy to be here! Also London doesn't feel far away enough at the moment. Japan and Australia hold more appeal. Especially Japan, because I wouldn't have to try to pay attention to what anyone is saying. It would be nearly as good as being somewhere entirely remote and disconnected from everything with no people around at all. Except X and J. I'm safe with them.

I do not like this feeling.

Well, taurine and sleep can only help, right? So I'll go do that, I guess, and see whether I feel any better tomorrow.
swan_tower: (Default)

Some years ago, my brain got stuck in a certain gear and cranked out seven rather dark fairy-tale retellings. In this brave new world of ebooks, it is quite easy for me to put them together for your Halloween delectation:


It may be purchased from one (or more!) of the following fine retailers:

(I do hope to get it up in iTunes before long, but the roadblocks they put in the way make that difficult.)

Edited to add: Sorry, this was meant to go up at 1 p.m. rather than 1 a.m., which would have given Barnes and Noble time to fix whatever is currently borked about their system — they’re not listing Monstrous Beauty for sale yet, and their back end is down so I can’t attempt to figure out why (which possibly is why). The Amazon links were broken just because of a c&p error; sorry about that. They should be okay now.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

28 October 2014 00:49 - Punk is way overused
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
From now on I am appending "glam" to everything. Cyberglam. Steamglam. Rocketglam.
27 October 2014 22:48 - out of random curiosity
yhlee: Sandman raven with eyeball (Sandman raven (credit: rilina))
Poll #16087 for the paid-publication writer-submitters out there
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 9

On cover letters:

View Answers

I always include one (unless the guidelines forbid it)
4 (44.4%)

I never include one (unless the guidelines require it)
3 (33.3%)

I mention organizations (HWA, SFWA, etc.)
1 (11.1%)

I mention workshops (Clarion, Viable Paradise, Odyssey, etc.)
0 (0.0%)

I mention MFA programs or degrees
0 (0.0%)

I mention publication credits
4 (44.4%)

I mention awards or award nominations
0 (0.0%)

something else that I will mention in comments
1 (11.1%)

ticky box has no ticks
4 (44.4%)

So I never do cover letters unless required to, and then my basic cover letter (again, unless the guidelines specify something otherwise) looks like this:

Dear [Editors, however they wish to be addressed]:

Enclosed [attached, whatever] is my [n]-word [science fiction/fantasy/other] story, "[Title]."

My work has previously appeared in [X publication], [Y publication], and [Z publication].

Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Yoon Ha Lee

Personally, my philosophy is that if the story doesn't speak for itself then no amount of gilding with workshops, Year's Best reprints, etc. is going to make a difference, but judging from what I saw in the Apex Magazine slushpile I seem to be a minority opinion. Granted, Apex required a cover letter. But may I suggest that telling the slush reader that "I have no publication credentials you would find interesting" (I saw some cover letters with various paraphrases of that, swear to God) is--I mean, it doesn't matter, in the sense that I ignored cover letters for the purposes of making a decision on a story, but why would you say it that way? There's no need to apologize for not yet being published. It is a condition shared by many aspiring writers, and no one holds it against you.
jinian: (bold bananas)
Bat Boy: The Musical
Farkas Hall at Harvard University
$6 (my Harvard privilege gets you half off!)

Fri Nov 21 2014 - 7:30 PM
Sun Nov 23 2014 - 2:30 PM

I actually might be busy that weekend myself, but if anyone wants to go I am happy to use my powers for good (and will totally join if not busy).
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