edenfalling: colored line-art drawing of a three-scoop ice cream sundae (ice cream sundae)
When I checked my email tonight after getting home from work, I wondered why I suddenly had three kudos and a comment on Loving Bonds, the Dark Is Rising fic I wrote for Yuletide 2009. (It's about Blodwen and John Rowlands, and how Bran came to stay at Clwyd despite Owen Davies being clearly unfit as a father after Gwen disappeared.) It is not, after all, a story in a large fandom, nor is it about the woobies of said fandom, nor was it ever really cross-posted or advertised.

It's usually impossible to track the source of a sudden spike of interest in an old story -- my standard explanation is that one person stumbled over it randomly and told a couple friends, which, unlike a rec post, will leave no publicly accessible trace on the internet -- but this time I got lucky.

Today "Loving Bonds" was the featured random story of the day on [livejournal.com profile] yuletide. All is explained. :-)

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In other news, "Guardian" ch. 15 is at 525 words as of last night. Now I am off to write some more.

ETA: 1,525 words now, and scene one is finished. I think the end needs a bit of fixing and I will probably have to trim some stuff on account of repetition, but whatever. Tomorrow I switch to Naga-tachi and the Volcano Country border! (I don't think Volcano Country exists/has been named in canon, but I figure I am AU enough by this point -- both by choice and just because I started writing before various revelations and plot twists -- that I don't particularly care.)
edenfalling: headshot of a raccoon, looking left (raccoon)
Yuletide reveal day! I got a little carried away and wrote six stories this year. I have listed them in the order I wrote them.

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1 ) Loving Bonds -- The Dark Is Rising, 2,800 words. There is a fierce long age between Arthur's reign and the final Rising. Any number of things could have broken a chain of descent and prevented the Light from having a Pendragon on their side. Why, then, did the Dark allow Bran to remain in the twentieth century? Contains discussion of premature birth and the death of a premature child, and a threat to a living child. (Written for rizny.)

Thoughts: This was my assignment story. I had offered to write The Dark Is Rising not because I had any particular drive to write for it, nor any ideas, but because it is a canon I am familiar with, and it has enough gaps and loose ends that I figured I could find something to hang a story on. Rizny's optional details said, among other things, "I would really love a story with Will or Merry or Arthur or John Rowlands as one of the main characters, doing with fierce determination what must be done to save the world, whether it's a scene left out of the book or the Dark returning somehow or whatever," which seemed promising.

The trouble is that when I started rereading canon (focusing on The Grey King and Silver on the Tree, because they are the only books containing John Rowlands), I discovered that what I desperately wanted to do was explore and explain Blodwen Rowlands. *headdesk* So I beat my head against a metaphorical wall for a while until my subconscious coughed up the idea of John convincing Blodwen to let Bran stay at Clwyd with Owen Davies.

The bit about the premature birth of the Rowlands' child came out of freaking nowhere as I was typing up the opening section (which I had written longhand at work). On reflection, I think it snuck in mostly because one of my real life friends is pregnant right now. Her pregnancy is going swimmingly, but apparently I am still worrying in the back of my head. *shrug*

Initially I called this story "Guardian Angels." I swapped that out for "The Fate of Men," and then "While Shepherds Watch Are Keeping," but I didn't like any of those titles. (The first is stolen from 'All Through the Night,' the second from Silver on the Tree, and the third from 'What Child Is This?') So I went with "Loving Bonds," as did two other people this year -- it is the most obvious title for any story about love and families in this fandom -- but whatever, it works, and I'm not sorry.

I am fairly sure I lifted the line about a 'fierce long age between X and Y' from one of Andre Norton's Time Traders books, but I cannot remember which one offhand, and I like the phrase too much to change it. *sheepish*

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2 ) The Geographic Cure -- American Gods, 2,100 words. Artemis and Apollo go to America. (Written for Minnow.)

Thoughts: I got my assigned story up before the last minute this year, and then had a few days with nothing much to do and a lot of real life stuff I didn't want to think about. So when the list of people who still needed pinch hits went up, I scrolled through it and [livejournal.com profile] minnow1212's prompt jumped out at me. American Gods didn't really work for me as a novel -- I could never connect with it properly -- but the idea behind it is genius, as I think the number of responses to Minnow's prompt shows. *grin*

I have very little to say about this story as a story; it kind of happened through me as I typed, without much conscious direction on my part. So no, I don't know why the twins were in England, nor how long they'd been there, nor where they'd traveled and what they'd done since Rome went Christian. I do know why they went to Charleston, though -- Charleston was apparently quite the melting pot in colonial times (they had a notable Jewish population, among other things), and I also wanted more of a stratified society (and closer social connections to upper-class England) than New England would have provided. I also did some actual (though glancing) research on women's saddles and foxhunting and consequently inserted a little one-sentence handwave about how and why Artemis is out hunting with the men.

(Not research-related, but possibly relevant: I think that when the Romans adopted the Greek pantheon, Apollo had no troubles whatsoever, not having a Roman counterpart, but Artemis and Diana fought a vicious battle that ended with Diana dead and Artemis taking on her name as a new title and absorbing the worship and power that had previously gone to Diana. *nods firmly* Furthermore, the little bit about Jesus that ended up in my story? That is there very deliberately, because one of my main issues with American Gods was the way Gaiman left out Christianity and Judaism and Islam. I am not sure if he was setting those religions on a higher plane -- true gods, rather than human-created gods -- or was just trying to avoid religious backlash, but it annoyed me. What I did not manage to make Artemis say is that in my view, this world's Jesus is a god like any other god, but he is currently vastly more powerful and so he can and does completely ignore the old pagan gods and the new technology gods.)

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3 ) And Both Shall Row -- Seaward, 900 words. Cally and West meet again after several years. (Written for Lesserstorm.)

Thoughts: I saw [livejournal.com profile] lesserstorm's 'Dear Yuletide Writer' post in November, and tucked away the idea of writing Seaward fic as a treat. I promptly forgot about it, because my mind is a sieve, but when all the requests went up for Yuletide Madness the memory rushed back and so this was the first thing I wrote off that list, before I began scrolling down alphabetically.

I had a file somewhere in which I explained my reasons for deciding Westerly is from Pakistan, but I seem to have misplaced it. Basically, it comes down to his physical appearance (black hair, dark eyes, dusky skin); to the book in his fantasy room (written in a language and script that Cally, who is pretty obviously from England, cannot recognize -- possibly Arabic or Urdu); and to the idea that his country is in political turmoil in the late 1970s (since the book was published in the early 1980s), has a seacoast, and probably (by implication) has a mostly temperate climate. Also, given the scene at the harbor near the end of the book, his name does genuinely seem to be 'Westerly,' not a word that translates that way, so his country must have had heavy British or American influence in the not-too-distant past -- and Pakistan is a country that would be familiar to a British writer like Cooper.

The title is a line from the song "The Water Is Wide," though I assure you the later verses have no connection whatsoever to this story. *grin*

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4 ) thy daughter in law, which loveth thee -- the Bible: Old Testament (Book of Ruth), 1,100 words. Naomi loves Ruth, but not quite as Ruth would wish. (Written for Summercloud.)

Thoughts: This one is kind of WTF for me, because while I do spend a lot of time thinking about religion and while I have played textual games with Judeo-Christian religious traditions in an original novelette (Finding Marea: Truth and Change in the Circle of Kemar, if you are interested), I had never thought of writing straight-up Biblical fanfic. But the prompt jumped out at me when I was scrolling down the Yuletide Madness page, and it's really easy to reread the Book of Ruth and spend half an hour doing a little internet research on what redemption means in that context. So I thought, why not?

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5 ) whatever a sun will always sing is you -- The Darkangel, 150 words exactly. Erin is always at Aeriel's side as they build their world and their lives. (Written for fresne.)

Thoughts: I wrote a Darkangel fic for [livejournal.com profile] aishuu earlier this year, and discovered that while I enjoy reading post-series Aeriel/Irrylath, I do not believe in it strongly enough to write it myself... at least not without an awful lot of space to work up to it convincingly. And yet I had never thought about Aeriel/Erin, which is odd because I love how female-centric the series is, and I always liked how Aeriel and Erin's friendship and loyalty to each other was made much of. So it was interesting to step sideways and look at canon again and say, "Oh, right, femslash!"

The story is still pretty gen, but that's partly because I fail at sex scenes, partly because I was trying to stay within the bounds of Pierce's own treatment of sex and sexual desire, and partly because, well, the story's only 150 words long. Where was I going to put any sex? *wry*

The title is a line from an e.e. cummings poem.

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6 ) Princess no Go -- Enchanted Forest Chronicles/Hikaru no Go, 350 words. Cimorene and Mendanbar play Go. AU. (Written for pentapus.)

Thoughts: The prompt for this story was "Cimorene and Mendanbar, AU. Go." The entire story is therefore an elaboration of a play on words. If it had not been ten minutes to midnight and if I had not been so tired, I think my better mind would have self-censored this into non-existence rather than post it, but what the hell, it's kind of cute and I never claimed my sense of humor was any good, so what do I know. *sheepish grin*
edenfalling: circular blue mosaic depicting stylized waves (ocean mosaic)
1. We did not do inventory after all -- PM decided we just did not have enough staff on such short notice, so she put it off until next week. That was okay; we used the extra staff we did have (because she extended ET's and MS's hours) to get stuff done that often is put off until Tuesday.

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2. Today was bitterly cold with gusts of wind up to 40mph. I was awakened several times last night by the windows in my living room rattling in their frames, so this evening I stuck some folded paper around their edges to help pin them in place, and stuffed rolled up paper towels into the cracks where the upper frame meets the lower frame, because those gaps were leaking frigid air into my apartment.

Tomorrow I am going to buy cling wrap and seal the windows up properly until spring. I would have done that today, but the only cling wrap I have to hand is translucent rather than transparent, and has tacky red-and-green line art all over it. I suspect I bought it on sale two or three Christmases ago.

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3. All six of my Yuletide stories have been commented on, which is nice. So far, one of them seems to be the clear winner in terms of recs and comments... and I am not surprised, really, because it's in probably the most 'popular' fandom, insofar as Yuletide fandoms are popular in the first place. (Well, one of the others is also in a popular small fandom, but it does not focus on the beloved woobie characters, so I am not surprised that it's a bit less noticed. And I have nothing against said beloved woobie characters -- they are my woobies too! -- but yeah, in any canon source, there will always be some characters who will get more attention than others.)

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4. I really must put together a recs post tomorrow, since I have some stories that I really like, and also I want a more public forum in which to proclaim the virtues of my own gifts, because so far I am the only person who has commented on Ankhanan Justice, and that is a crying shame. (To Play the Picochet has been noticed by four people besides me, which is still not nearly enough, but is at least something.)

Seriously, I don't care if you have never read Heroes Die, The Blade of Tyshalle, and Caine Black Knife. Go read Ankhanan Justice. It works as a standalone fantasy adventure (though admittedly, some of Caine's side thoughts make more sense if you know the canon background), and it is a lot of fun! Also violent and bloody, but I think that just makes it more fun!
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
I am back in Ithaca. My mom and I drove up yesterday morning/afternoon, having left slightly earlier than we otherwise might have for fear of freezing rain and icy roads. But it turned out that other than a 6-10 mile stretch right where I-380 splits off from I-80 (where all the trees were coated in a quarter inch of ice, and bowed down under the weight), there was no ice at all, and even in the part with scary trees, the road itself was fine.

So I arrived safely and then went to work and closed the store.

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Yuletide Madness (the < 1000 word stories part of Yuletide) is now open, so all six of my stories are anonymously public. Yay! I have been browsing idly through the archive and doing my best to comment on most of the stories I've been reading, but it is mentally exhausting to come up with a comment longer than "This is cool; I enjoyed reading it." I may end up just leaving variations of that comment in a lot of places, though I am trying to add at least one further sentence saying something more specifically related to each story in question.

I will probably do a recs post in a few days.

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In work-related news, we usually do the first semi-annual inventory on the first Monday of January (assuming that is not New Year's Day itself), but this year our owner wants everything counter a little sooner, so we seem to be scheduled to do inventory tomorrow, on December 28th. Nobody is thrilled about this.

I have made up little gifts for my coworkers, which are basically a card-with-note, four cookies, and two rolls of Smarties. It is not much, but it is the thought that counts, right? And the cookies are tasty; I know this because my family does not reuse bad cookie recipes. *grin*

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We had champagne cocktails (of the Maharajah's Burra-Peg variety) in Ardis's honor on Christmas Eve. Also, on the way down Dad told me more details about what had happened as the angiogram went wrong, what the autopsy had revealed, and what the doctors speculated might have caused the problem. I am not a doctor, so my details are fuzzy at best, but this is what I understand of the situation.

What happened, it seems, is that they went in and found an arterial blockage... )

So. At least Ardis was not conscious through this; she was under anesthesia for the angiogram, and then in a coma because they had her on a respirator, so she was not in pain and just never woke up. And she never had to leave her house, or give up her car, or anything like that. So for her, it was probably a decent way to die, as these things go. It's just the rest of us who are finding it hard to process.

...

When I got home yesterday, I found my Christmas gift from Ardis waiting on the porch; it had arrived in my absence. She gave me a gift basket of instant soups, plus two very nice bowls to eat the soup in. (And, of course, the nice basket to hold the soup and the bowls.)

The auto-printed card from the retailer said, "Form Ardis," instead of "From Ardis."

She would have laughed about that.

She'll never know, now.
edenfalling: stained-glass butterfly in a purple frame (butterfly)
I wrote six stories for Yuletide this year. If you guess any of them before the author reveal, I will write you a ficlet of your choice.

Here are three hints:

1. Four stories are in fandoms that I have never written in before. (In two cases, they were not even fandoms I offered to write in.)

2. Two stories are femslash, two are het, and two include background het but are classed as gen because sex and/or romance is not the point. (This being me, even the stories that are about romance are not particularly romantic -- and there is no sex whatsoever -- but I did try.)

3. One story is complete and utter crack.
edenfalling: colored line-art drawing of a three-scoop ice cream sundae (ice cream sundae)
MERRY CHRISTMAS! (and/or winter solstice holiday of your choice *grin*)

We had breakfast at 10am rather than 9am, since Vicky didn't want to get up at 8 to make scones. Fine by me -- I can always use an extra hour of sleep. We tried out some very nice jams made by a member of the Summit UU church -- one was blackberry with Calvados, while the other (which I liked better, honestly) was a nice, sharp gooseberry -- and then I took a shower while Mom and Vicky cleaned up the kitchen.

We opened presents at noonish. I got some things I was expecting (the framed version of the Cascadilla Creek picture I commissioned from Susan in August), some things I was not (an encyclopedia of symbols! Diana Wynne Jones's House of Many Ways! oolong tea!), and one gift that turned out to not quite work (a new winter coat), so it will be returned and I will get the cash equivalent instead on condition that I use said cash to buy clothes or other useful household products rather than entertainment, which is fair enough!

We will have turkey for dinner, probably around 5pm. Later, Susan and I plan to see The Princess and the Frog at the East Hannover theater (which, nearly a decade after it changed hands, I still call 'Sony' unless I am paying attention), while Dad, Mom, and Vicky go see A Single Man in Montclair.

Okay. That is everyday life stuff. On to Yuletide!

This year, I asked for The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay, The Acts of Caine series by Matthew Stover, Song for the Basilisk by Patricia McKillip, and Lucifer by Mike Carey, Peter Gross, et al.

I got TWO of those requests filled!

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First we have Ankhanan Justice: Caine's second Adventure isn't the sort of thing he expected.

The story is violent and brutal and I love it to itty bitty pieces. Also, you can tell that Caine is still new at the whole Acting thing; he keeps forgetting his Soliloquy, he meets Majesty for the first time, he is still nominally working for the Monastics, and so on. But despite his inexperience, he takes no more shit than he absolutely has to, and he pays back what he is forced to swallow, with interest. In the end, justice is served, more or less, and it is wonderful.

The story contains graphic depictions of violence and a fair amount of cursing (which is true to canon and to Caine), so keep that in mind when you read it.
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Second we have To Play the Picochet: While Sirina waits, she discovers that a disdained instrument has its own story to tell her.

The writer put Sirina back in the story. That alone would be worth reading. But ze also gets McKillip's tone -- the use of ashes in the opening lines is just gorgeous -- and the feel of strangeness always lurking behind and beneath and around everyday life. And! And there is music and magic and a really nifty OC -- the duchess in whose court Sirina serves as bard. There is serious discussion of how one would go about playing a picochet and the ways it differs from more conventional stringed instruments, which is absolutely wonderful. But mostly I am just squeeful over Sirina being a mother, and a former lover, and a musician, and still caring about Caladrius and Hollis while having her own rich and interesting life.

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The archive is very slow and overloaded at the moment, so I have not read any other stories yet. I will presumably get to that within the next few days, but right now I am giddy enough over these two that I am not in a huge hurry to go exploring.
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
Dear Yuletide Writer,

I'm pretty easy to please -- so long as you write a grammatically correct story that isn't simply a long sex scene, I'll be thrilled just to get a fic in one of the fandoms I asked for. *grin* But I realize that's not terribly helpful, so here's the (very!) long version.

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General Information )

Okay. On to specific fandoms.

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The Lions of Al-Rassan )

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The Acts of Caine )

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Song for the Basilisk )

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Lucifer )

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And that is that.
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
This is just a brief note to say that while I have been up late enough to see the archive open, I recognize that I am not quite in a sane state of mind, and I would like to approach my (two!!!) gift stories with the benefit of at least some sleep. So I will review and point them out to people tomorrow morning, probably between breakfast and the family gathering to open physical presents.

And now I am off to bed.
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
Wrote two more Yuletide treats. That makes six stories total. Granted, they are not all full-length (i.e., at least 1,000 words), but still. That is a lot of writing in very little time!

I also made notes for another potential New Year's Resolution fic, because again, the prompt is very interesting but I do not have the canon at hand.

Anyway, I think I will continue searching the prompts list for ideas, but I am done writing for tonight. The archive may be open soon anyway. I hope it's soon!

*crosses fingers, anticipates*

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edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
Elizabeth Culmer

October 2017

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