edenfalling: headshot of a raccoon, looking left (raccoon)
Here are six fills from the current Three Sentence Ficathon. (I am quite aware that only four of them actually meet the structural requirements. Shush. I do what I want.)


1. For [profile] samparker: Star Trek AOS, Uhura/author's choice, someone playing with her hair, written 2/8/15.


Sisterhood )


2. For [personal profile] betony: King Lear, Goneril, Regan, (&Cordelia), they loved their sister once, written 2/9/15.

Loving-kindness )


3. For [livejournal.com profile] saoirse7: Narnia, Lucy & Susan, adventures of their own, written 2/9/15.

Interesting Times )


4. For [personal profile] minutia_r: Homeward Bounders, Joris (/ & author's choice), be prepared, written 2/9/15.

Be Prepared )


5. For [livejournal.com profile] ruanchunxian0: Any, any, I would follow you to the ends of the earth with only mild complaining, written 2/10/15.

[Homestuck, alpha timeline, Dave/Jade/Rose]

Gladly Beyond )


6. For [personal profile] betony: Howl's Moving Castle, Sophie Hatter, the path of pins or the path of needles, written 2/10/15.

The Grandmother's Tale )


Yay for writing stuff!
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
December 1: Christopher Chant (for [livejournal.com profile] hungrytiger11) [Tumblr crosspost]

As I've said before, I did not discover Diana Wynne Jones until I was in middle school -- so, twelve or thirteen years old. This is because my local public library didn't own any of her books, and they didn't finish computerizing their catalogue and thus making interlibrary loan useful to me -- you can't ask for what you don't know exists, after all -- until around the same time. (Yes, I am old enough to have used an actual card catalogue. I kind of miss them, horrifically limited and unwieldy though they were.) But my middle school had at least two of her books, and around that time I discovered that the county library also had a few.

I believe the first two of Jones's books I ever read were A Tale of Time City, which I only vaguely remember, having not reread it for over fifteen years, and The Lives of Christopher Chant. So Christopher and I go back a ways. I didn't get hold of Charmed Life until much later, which created an interesting situation where I read Witch Week and The Magicians of Caprona without being aware that the Chrestomanci in those stories was, in fact, Christopher as an adult.

I highly recommend reading The Lives of Christopher Chant before reading Charmed Life, since the latter gives away some significant things about the former. I don't think knowing Christopher as an adult would ruin the story of his early life, but it's more fun to discover things along with him rather than to anticipate certain set-piece scenes you know are coming, or to know in advance more or less what must become of a major secondary character. But Jones is pretty good at constructing a plot that has no bearing on Cat's later adventures, so all the stuff with Tacroy and the Anywheres should work regardless, though I do think the ending with the Dright and the Wraith and the Arm of Asheth is a bit rushed.

But enough background. Let me talk about Christopher Chant.

Christopher is, to be blunt, kind of a jerk. *wry* He is very certain that he knows what's best and that he should get his way, and has little compunction about sweeping into other people's lives and bossing them around... though as an adult he does try to be more subtle about that -- more maneuvering people into fixing their own problems than shoving them aside and fixing things for them. He somehow manages to make that habit equally annoying, though, which is not helped by his carefully cultivated vague expression, ridiculously gaudy clothing, and general air of "I know better than you and you are taking far too long to catch up."

Some of that, I think, just comes naturally to him. But other parts are clearly the product of his childhood. Christopher is, in many ways, the classic 'poor little rich boy,' who had every material thing he could possibly want but no friends and hardly any familial love. It's not remotely surprising he was such a sucker for his Uncle Ralph's schemes -- readers can tell from quite early on that Ralph is up to no good, but while I sometimes wanted to scream at Christopher to open his eyes, I could see exactly why he stuck to his allegiances. I am honestly more surprised that he could see genuine affection underneath his parents' arguments and repeated separations, and that his attempt to get them back together was successful (at least temporarily, since we never hear from them again). His interactions with people are based on authority, bribes, and the casual entitlement he picked up from dealing with servants and the affection of people in the Anywheres. He does realize that he needs to fix that, but the surface doesn't change much even if the motives underneath get better.

As an adult, he has a high opinion of children's competence, based on the things he managed to pull off and hide from the adults around him. (This is probably part of why he mishandles the situation with Cat -- he expects Cat to be a more proactive person. The other part, of course, is that he remembers the pain of being disillusioned in a favorite relative and wants to spare Cat from that at least for a while.) He treats his position as Chrestomanci seriously, because he's seen the things that happen if somebody isn't keeping order among the magical community and policing trade between worlds. (I think the thing with the mermaids stuck with him a lot more than he would ever admit out loud.)

It's been three and a half years since I read Conrad's Fate, but I seem to recall it striking a pretty good balance between Christopher's personality and actions as a child and his personality and actions as an adult. He sweeps Conrad into his schemes, bosses him around, and gets him into all kinds of trouble, but he does simultaneously help Conrad deal with his own problems, he's trying to help Millie, and he seems to be on better terms with Gabriel, though they still disagree on how to approach complicated problems.

I would have loved a book about Christopher and Millie set shortly after Christopher officially took over as Chrestomanci, because I think their early marriage would be fascinating to read about and could have made a hilarious B-plot to some nefarious magical scheme -- but alas, that is never to be. :-(


December Talking Meme: All Days

(I still have several days open if anyone wants to suggest a topic!)
edenfalling: headshot of a raccoon, looking left (raccoon)
This had a very minimal effect on me, since I only had one story on the old Yuletide Treasure site, from the 2008 exchange. I didn't participate in Yuletide Madness that year, and by 2009 stories were posted to AO3 though signups were still on the old site. (That was an, um, interesting year. Yeah.)

I'd been holding off on manually posting the story in question to AO3, since I figured that would cause complications with the eventual wholesale archive import. It took a LOT LONGER for the import to happen than I think anyone was expecting, but lo and behold, my story is now up on AO3 with no difficulties.

Here it is: To Be of Use: When Joris was seven his family sold him to the Sarkoy Agency, which was a reputable trading house affiliated with the Cardsburg municipal slave mart. He expected to become entertainment for the wealthy. He did not expect Konstam Khan. (4,150 words, written for [archiveofourown.org profile] qwerty)

And, now that it won't cause weird complications, I have hand-uploaded the accompanying fic that used to be the opening scenes of what I'd planned as the much, much, much longer version of "To Be of Use," namely:

Cut Clean: There weren't many labor slaves in Cardsburg, but Joris knew how the world worked. He just never expected the knowledge to become personal. (2,375 words)

These are both fanfiction for Diana Wynne Jones's The Homeward Bounders, a wonderful YA fantasy whose conceit is that a group of demon-like beings called Them run the multiverse as a bunch of real-life war games. People who discover the truth are exiled to walk the Boundaries, traveling from world to world until they get Home.

Jamie Hamilton, a boy from a version of England circa 1880, is our narrator. In his wanderings he meets other Homeward Bounders, most notably Helen Haras-Uquara, whose world is like a real-life version of Dungeons and Dragons (she's a cleric equivalent), and Joris, an apprentice demon hunter who is also a slave. They realize they can direct their travels instead of waiting for Them to fling them about, and begin to fight back.

It's a great book with a very powerful ending and you should read it.

You should also go read my fanfiction, which, though sadly not nearly as sublime as DWJ's own work, still isn't half bad... if I do say so myself. *wry*
edenfalling: headshot of a raccoon, looking left (raccoon)
Happy New Year! Also, it is Yuletide reveal day! I wrote six fics in six different fandoms, for a total of ~10,000 words. I have listed them in the order I wrote them.


1 ) A Woman with Silver Eyes: Kate Welker, the Rolling Stone Interview -- The Girl with the Silver Eyes - Willo Davis Roberts, 3,750 words. Twenty-five years after the Institute of Psychic Phenomena went public, Rolling Stone interviews Kate Welker, one of the Curtis Pharmaceuticals quartet and a long-time activist for both animal rights and the acceptance of the psychically gifted. Background Katie/OFC. (Written for [archiveofourown.org profile] Macadamanaity.)

Thoughts: This is not the fandom I was matched on... )


2 ) Loopholes -- The Homeward Bounders - Diana Wynne Jones, 2,650 words. There's no rule saying you can't have more than one anchor. (Written for [archiveofourown.org profile] anait.)

Thoughts: Anait asked for a way to make Jamie happy, which is the next best thing to impossible... )


3 ) Self Made -- Lucifer, 250 words. How Mazikeen chose her face. (Written for nextian, aka [archiveofourown.org profile] cosmogyral.)

Thoughts: When the list of all prompts went up, I looked at the pinch hitters' requests first... )


4 ) Healing -- Black Jewels - Anne Bishop, 1,400 words. Wilhelmina Benedict visits her sister after Queen of the Darkness. Background Daemon/Jaenelle. (Written for [archiveofourown.org profile] random_chick.)

Thoughts: This is another pinch hitter request... )


5 ) Dum vivimus, vivamus -- Seaward - Susan Cooper, 800 words. Caught between grief for her parents and longing for Westerly, Cally dreams of Snake. Mild Cally/Snake. (Written for [archiveofourown.org profile] pikkugen.)

Thoughts: I wrote a Seaward fic for lesserstorm two years ago. When pikkugen commented on it earlier this year... )


6 ) As You Wish -- The Dark Is Rising - Susan Cooper, 1,125 words. Will was the one who kept them all together. Bran was the one who thought to ask why he bothered. Mild Will/Bran. (Written for [archiveofourown.org profile] Aishuu.)

Thoughts: This is basically an interest payment for taking so long to finish 'Friends and Neighbors'... )


Yuletide statistics

This is the fourth year I have participated in Yuletide. The first year (on the old archive) I wrote one story at 4,200 words. The second year I wrote six stories for a total of 7,400 words; the longest was 2,800 words and the shortest 150. The third year I only wrote two stories (on account of being in Seville), one at 7,200 words and the other at 1,600, for a total of 8,800. This year I was back up to six stories, for a combined total of 10,000 words; the longest was 3,750 words and the shortest 250.

So my total word count has gone up each year, though the number of fics is all over the place.

I seem to write a lot of Diana Wynne Jones and Susan Cooper stories for Yuletide -- two for The Homeward Bounders, two for Hexwood, two for Seaward, and two for The Dark Is Rising. That is 8 of 15 stories, or half my total output. The other stories are a scattershot mix: one for American Gods, one for the Book of Ruth, one for Meredith Pierce's The Darkangel trilogy, one Enchanted Forest Chronicles/Hikaru no Go crossover fusion, one for The Girl with the Silver Eyes, one for Lucifer, and one for the Black Jewels series.

The thing to note about these is that they are all text-based canons rather than audiovisual, and the majority of them are YA fantasy novels. Clearly I have a Yuletide type -- or, more accurately, these are the fandoms I know well enough to write something pretty much off the top of my head, or am just so ridiculously in love with that I carry the books to my parents' house with plans to write treats.
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
I was reading a post on [community profile] asexual_fandom about writing asexuals in sexual situations and whether this was too prevalent in fandom (or not prevalent enough?) and in any case, was it often badly handled and so on and so forth, which had the interesting effect of making me go and write several hundred words of "The Body Politic," my Astrin-Ymris-is-asexual Riddle-Master fic. Said words are mostly a very long riddle about a woman who gets raped and is terrified her husband will blame her, rather than anything actually related to asexuality or, you know, the damn plot, but whatever. I needed to get the riddle out of the way at some point.

I think it is helpful to be slightly tipsy when writing McKillip-style riddles. At least, it's helpful for me. I don't think in riddles naturally, so I need to be able to bend my mind into someone else's thought patterns, and sleep deprivation or alcohol are the cheap and easy ways to do that. *wry*


I do have an actual plot for that story now. I'd always known where it was heading -- well, okay, once I'd decided which outline sketch to use, I knew where it was heading -- but I had only the vaguest idea how to get there. Now I have the middle to go with the beginning and the end.


In other news, Diana Wynne Jones did indeed stick the landing on the Dalemark Quartet. I may write a more detailed (and spoiler-filled) post about that later. I have read all the Yuletide Dalemark fic there is, and would really like to know if any more exists, because that series has so many wonderful characters and countless potential stories.

Also, and unrelatedly, I watched Inception a couple weeks ago and have been having far too much fun reading through all the fic I can get my hands on. I love stories about competent people being awesome. :-)
edenfalling: golden flaming chalice in a double circle (gold chalice)
1. I have been on a bit of a Diana Wynne Jones kick recently -- her death reminded me that there are too many of her books that, for one reason or another (limited library stocks and/or lack of time, mostly), I had not yet read. So.

Last week I read Conrad's Fate and Mixed Magics, which are, respectively, a story about one thing Christopher Chant did between the end of The Lives of Christopher Chant and becoming Chrestomanci, and a collection of four stories in the Chrestomanci series. Three of the stories weren't especially memorable, though amusing, but I did quite like the one where Cat Chant meets Tonino from The Magicians of Caprona and they wind up in a pickle.

As for Conrad's Fate, while I enjoyed it exceedingly, I think I might have liked it even more if it had been more Christopher's story with Conrad's part told as the B plot instead of the other way around, because while Christopher Chant is kind of a jerk, he is my jerk -- his story being one of the first DWJ books I read back in middle school, when I hadn't yet developed a critical sense -- and in fact one of my main issues with the rest of the Chrestomanci series is that I don't care half as much about Cat as I do about Christopher. :-/

This week I am working through the Dalemark quartet. Thus far, I have read Cart and Cwidder and Drowned Ammet, and am about fifty pages in to The Spellcoats -- like most DWJ books, they read fast and easily. Mostly the first two make me think of Lloyd Alexander's Westmark trilogy, only with actual magic mixed into the political oppression and people traveling about in hiding, and rather less horribly realistic portrayal of battles, though the portrayal of the oppression, and the randomness of the occasional deaths, are still suitably horrific. And now that I write the preceding sentence, I suppose the effect is actually rather different, overall, but still. I love Westmark passionately, so the comparison is mostly by way of explaining that I think Jones did a bang up job with the first two books in this series. I will reserve full judgment until I finish the last two, however.

(For the record, I found Diana Wynne Jones via my middle school library, and then made the happy discovery that while my local library didn't have her books -- and I cannot think why, since they had an excellent collection of Andre Norton, plus lots of Patricia McKillip and Meredith Pierce, who I think are normally more obscure -- the county library had several. The first DWJ books I read are, IIRC, A Tale of Time City, The Lives of Christopher Chant, Dogsbody, The Homeward Bounders, Archer's Goon, Witch Week, The Magicians of Caprona, and Howl's Moving Castle. Possibly also The Power of Three, though I remember very little of it. Everything else waited until at least high school.)


2. My parents and I have set a firm date for when I return their car, which I have had since returning from Spain just before New Year's. I will be driving down to New Jersey on Thursday the 28th, whereupon I will have dinner with my parents that night, attend a dinner party with some family friends on Friday, and drive back early Saturday morning with my parents and their dog, probably visit a couple wineries or do some other touristy thing, and wave goodbye as they drive south alone that afternoon, leaving me carless once again.

Theoretically, at some point in there Susan and I will do brunch or otherwise hang out. We will see each other at the Friday dinner party, but that's more of a group thing, so it doesn't precisely count.


3. I taught Moral Tales again today -- I hadn't for over a month, both because of rearranging schedules so I could visit Cat, and getting sick one week. Today's lesson was about balance in the environment, illustrated by way of a story about how spraying DDT to kill mosquitoes in Borneo led, through a chain of knock-on effects, to the British Royal Air Force helicoptering over the island in 1959, dropping cats in parachutes as they went. (This is apparently a true story, though the number of parachuting cats varies with the teller.)

Then we went outside and looked at trees, as one does. *shrug* I really do think our lesson plans have gotten sillier over the course of the year, but maybe that's just sample bias, given how many lessons I haven't been there for.
edenfalling: headshot of a raccoon, looking left (raccoon)
Yuletide reveal day!

I wrote two stories this year, both for Hexwood, a standalone science fiction/fantasy novel by Diana Wynne Jones. The book is something of a head trip, and I will therefore not attempt to summarize it, except to say that pretty much any back cover or dust jacket summary you will find for it will be misleading in one way or another. But it's a lovely book and I recommend it almost without reservations.

The reservations have nothing to do with the writing. They are simply my way of warning you about a quirk of Jones's stories. Her books are always lovely fun on the surface, but if you look more closely there's often a darker, more disquieting undercurrent to some of the world-building or the backstories of various characters. Hexwood is no different -- the lurking horror here is the backstory between Mordion and Reigner One, which starts with child abuse, slavery, torture, brainwashing, and murder, and could, depending on how you read the things Jones leaves unsaid, go to even worse places -- which is why my two stories have such different tones.


1 ) Childish Things (ff.net crosspost), 7,200 words, Dec. 2010. Three games Vierran played with Mordion over the years. Contains mention of slavery and child abuse.

This was my assigned story, written for Elspeth Vimes, whose request read as follows: This is one of those canons where I'm equally for gen and het fic. I admit I'm a fan of Mordion/Vierran and would love to see more of them interacting like a happy, normal couple. But I also just love each of those characters in their own right and would love to get a deeper look at their lives. Forest hijinks with Ann, Mordion, Hume, and Yam are also fun.

Something with Ann's real childhood would be particularly interesting.

I turned that over in my head for a while, wondering if there were a way to fit more than one of those ideas into a single story, and eventually hit on a gimmick that would let me tick off every single one of them. So. Vierran/Mordion? Check. Vierran's childhood? Check. A deeper look into their lives? Check. Forest hijinks with Ann, Mordion, Hume, and Yam? Check. I even squeezed in a bit of Siri, Arthur, and Fitela for good measure.

Basically, this story builds from a distressing beginning toward what I hope is a crowning moment of heartwarming. :-)


2 ) Served Cold (ff.net crosspost), 1,600 words, Dec. 2010. Orm Pender bred Martellian's descendants into Servants for a thousand years. He was quite practiced by the end. Contains sociopathy, slavery, child abuse, sexual abuse, implied rape, implied torture, murder, etc.

My second story was written as a treat for shewhoguards (aka [livejournal.com profile] googlebrat), whose request said: I asked for Mordion fic, because Mordion makes my heart hurt, but what I really want here is backstory. Where did these babies come from? Who were their mothers? Were they related? Were they killed afterwards or did they try to get their babies back? Was it all an attempt by Reigner 1 to keep their houses under control? You don't even have to include him as more than a baby if the story doesn't turn that way, and he certainly doesn't have to be a main character. I just want to know how we got here.

I wrote this story because I ran a search on the giant request spreadsheet, noticed that someone besides Elspeth Vimes had requested Hexwood, and since I had the book in Seville with me so I could edit my other story... well, why not at least look? Shewhoguards's request hit a lot of my writing kinks, so I dashed it off in under two hours.

What can I say? Backstory is my addiction, OCs are my bread and butter, and sociopaths are disturbingly easy to write.


Rereading Hexwood was interesting. I remembered the gist of the story, but the details had blurred -- partly because I hadn't read it for a few years, and partly because the story's presentation is so convoluted. The first time I read it, I got horribly confused the second time Ann went into Banners Wood, and thought there must have been a terrible editing mishap. But then I remembered that I trust Diana Wynne Jones, so I continued reading and my trust was more than repaid in the end. This time I knew the trick and wasn't so utterly thrown, but it still takes a bit of work to keep all the threads straight and figure out what events actually happen, and in which order.

Some other random observations: Hexwood makes me think that Jones must have been reading Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea series shortly before she started writing. I mean, this book has a character named Orm Pender who turns into a dragon! You cannot tell me that's a coincidence.

Also, Arthur Pendragon is a real mythological figure, so it occured to me this time round that Fitela Wolfson might be drawn from European mythology as well, and it turns out he is! Fitela is the Old English name for Sinfjötli, the son of Sigmund and his sister Signy, who avenged his family (the Völsungs) against Signy's evil husband. His half-brother Sigurd is notable for slaying the dragon Fafnir, so it's likely that Jones is suggesting that her Fitela Wolfson was the inspiration for both stories -- after all, she says that Martellian was trying to breed pureblood Reigners to avenge him against Orm Pender (which suggests he might have encouraged incest), and Fitela fought the dragons the Reigners sent to kill Martellian.

Those observations made it into Childish Things by way of the focus on dragons in the middle section and Fitela's brief mention of his parents in the third section, but mostly I bring them up because they amuse me. :-)
edenfalling: headshot of a raccoon, looking left (raccoon)
About two-thirds of this story began its existence as the introductory section of To Be of Use, my Yuletide story. But I ran out of time to get past Joris and Konstam's first meeting, which meant all this stuff didn't have any training sessions in Khan Valley, or demon-hunting missions, or post-book interviews and strategy meetings, or Joris's eventual emancipation, to balance it out. So I cut the introduction and turned it into a separate story.

Of course, that meant I had to add a section and elaborate on others, but I think it worked out reasonably well.

Summary: There weren't many labor slaves in Cardsburg, but Joris knew how the world worked. He just didn't think that knowledge would become personal. (The ff.net version is here.)

Cut Clean )


I do still want to get the rest of my original outline into words somehow, but I don't have time right now and I suspect that when I do have time, I'll have run out of motivation. I hate when that happens. *sigh*
edenfalling: headshot of a raccoon, looking left (raccoon)
Yuletide reveal day!

I wrote To Be of Use for [archiveofourown.org profile] qwerty, aka [livejournal.com profile] xsmoonshine. The fandom is Diana Wynne Jones's The Homeward Bounders, a YA fantasy book. (The slightly revised ff.net version is here; basically, I killed a typo and smoothed some minor narrative flow and clarity issues.)

I shall summarize the book for those of you (which is probably most of you, sadly) who have not read it: There are many, many worlds, and there is a group of demon-like beings called Them who run all the worlds as a set of giant war games, like Risk. Now and then people discover the truth and are exiled to walk the Boundaries, which means they travel from world to world trying to get Home.

Jamie Hamilton, a boy from a version of England circa 1880, is our narrator. In the course of his wanderings he meets other Homeward Bounders, most notably Helen Haras-Uquara, whose world is rather like a real-life version of Dungeons and Dragons (she's kind of a cleric equivalent), and Joris, an apprentice demon hunter who is also a slave. They realize they can direct their own travels instead of waiting for Them to fling them about, and begin to fight back.

The brilliant thing about The Homeward Bounders as a fanfiction source is that it has so many possibilities -- infinite worlds to choose as settings and a lot of interesting characters who clearly had lives before they were rudely yanked out of them and will most likely continue to have interesting lives after the end of the book. But my story deals only with Joris and his master, Konstam Khan.

Joris thinks Konstam is the most amazing person in the world (and to be fair, he's mostly right), but he hates being a slave. Fortunately, Konstam reveals during the course of the book that he plans to manumit Joris as soon as he turns eighteen; he'd do it sooner but that would be illegal. (I think Konstam thought his intentions were obvious, which, clearly, they were not to Joris; they seem to have a slight culture clash over the issue of slavery.)

To Be of Use is an explanation of how Konstam and Joris first met, and why Konstam bought a slave when he doesn't seem enamored of slavery as an institution. It's also a small demon hunting adventure, because this is Joris and Konstam. (One is a rich scion of a world-famous family! The other is his slave! Together, They Fight Demons! *grin*)


Nov. 15th, 2008 06:25 pm
edenfalling: stained-glass butterfly in a purple frame (butterfly)
Apropos of nothing in particular:

You know, I never understood the whole thing about Spike's use of 'effulgence' in BtVS -- why people both in and out of canon mocked that particular word. See, to me, it's not peculiar or obscure at all. And I've just realized why.

It's because I'd read Diana Wynne Jones's Dogsbody several times as a child. :-)


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Elizabeth Culmer

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