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.

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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. :-)

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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.

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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: colored line-art drawing of a three-scoop ice cream sundae (ice cream sundae)
We did not leave Sevilla until nearly 1pm, alas, due to complications of moving Vicky and getting up too late. We decided to go by way of Ronda anyway, partly because we´re crazy but mostly because Ronda is where Vicky stayed for a month on an exchange study program a few years ago, and it is a town with an absurdly scenic river gorge.

It was a bit of an adventure to get into the city, but we managed, we admired the gorge, and we ate lunch at a nearby hotel. Then we decided to take the mountain road south to San Pedro de Alacante on the Costa del Sol. That road is damn curvy and steep, though quite well-engineered.

We stopped at a service plaza just west of Marbella to get diesel and snacks, and then turned north on the A-92M toward Antequerra, which also leads indirectly to Sevilla, Cordoba, and Granada. It was fully dark by that point, which did not make Mom particularly happy.

We got thoroughly lost upon entering Granada, just as we´d gotten lost upon entering Seville. In the end we resorted to the equivalent of double-parking for fifteen minutes while Vicky walked around looking at street signs attempting to figure out where we were. But we reached our hotel in the end, Vicky and Mom successfully found the associated garage, and we found a nearby restaurant that served a decent dinner.

And now I am typing this on the unfamiliar Spanish keyboard of the hotel´s free internet station, which is why I haven´t put accent marks where they should appear on the city names above. Alas for technical limitations!

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While we were on the road, the Yuletide 2010 archive went live, which means I got a story! It is for Joan D. Vinge´s Psion trilogy, and more specifically, it´s sort of an alternate epilogue to Catspaw, the middle book, wherein Cat is hired by the taMing family ostensibly to use his telepathy to help prevent the assassination of a family member who´s a candidate for an important political position; the job is, of course, much more complicated than that, and Cat gets into all kinds of trouble trying to figure out what he´s been dumped into and how to get out while also helping the people he´s come to care about in the meantime.

My gift story works much better if you know the canon, but I think it´s a nice character and world-building piece on its own. So go read it! Close the Mind Out, by an author who shall remain anonymous for another week.
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
Dad, Mom, and Vicky took a huge load of stuff over to Vicky's new apartment around 8pm. Then we had a makeshift dinner consisting of sheep cheese, some kind of Spanish salami equivalent, green salad, leftover beef stew, leftover pasta, and a tiny frozen cheese pizza with the remnants of the salad makings as an extra topping. Quite tasty.

Then we did Christmas, which mostly consisted of gifts for Vicky and small, lightweight gifts for me. (Mom and Dad plan to do their own exchange around New Year's back in New Jersey.) We also drank champagne and had cheap grocery store petit fours for dessert. They were tasty enough, but no patch on the Wisconsin Cheeseman's products.

Today we are taking more stuff over to Vicky's new apartment, and then heading out for Granada via Ronda.

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In other news, while the other three were transporting Vicky's stuff, I wrote a Yuletide treat. It's in the same fandom I wrote my main story, mostly because all I had time to do was run a quick search on the giant spreadsheet of requests and say, oh, hey, I have the canon source right here with me and that's a prompt that plays right into my more general story type obsessions, so... I wrote it, and it wound up over a thousand words in under two hours. Sometimes things just click like that.

I also got my assigned story edited a touch.

The archive doesn't seem to be open yet, and I don't know what my internet access will be like for the next few days, so if I can't read it immediately, I apologize to my writer.
edenfalling: colored line-art drawing of a three-scoop ice cream sundae (ice cream sundae)
Dear Yuletide Writer,

[[ETA: FYI, I will be visiting my sister in Spain over Christmas, and I don't know if I will have internet access when the archive opens. I will be back in the USA on the 29th, and I will definitely comment as soon as I can read your story!]]

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 )

Lucifer )

The Psion Trilogy )

The Dispossessed )

And that is that.
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
You know, it occurs to me that there are a few days before Yuletide stories go live, and I will be at my sister's apartment the first few days in Spain (and I know she has internet access), so... would anyone be willing to do a quick beta look-through on my story?

I don't need a canon check. What I need is someone to tell me if the development of the relationship over time flows reasonably well, and whether I've successfully merged my silly gimmick into the story or whether it's sticking out like a sore thumb. Also a basic check on my spelling, grammar, and other mechanical issues wouldn't hurt.

I can email the file to you before 4:30pm Eastern Time today, or sometime later on the 21st after we get to Spain, drive to Seville, and settle in for the evening.

Anyone?
edenfalling: stained-glass butterfly in a purple frame (butterfly)
Yuletide story has been edited and is now posted! Victory is mine!! Mwahahahaha!!!

I may edit it a little more tomorrow afternoon, if I can think of ways to improve the thematic through-line, or a better summary (because the current summary is awful), but right now, I don't care.

It's done, it's up, it's not my problem anymore.

...

Also, I am packed, I am pretty much done shutting down my apartment for the next two weeks, and I am heading off to work in twenty minutes. Victory is most definitely mine.

And, of course, I am still sick. :-(

So, you know, you win some, you lose some. Whatever.

*flees to adjust curtains and thermostat*
edenfalling: colored line-art drawing of a three-scoop ice cream sundae (ice cream sundae)
Ha! Take that, Yuletide! My story is finished!

Okay, so it's only finished in rough draft, and I suspect the final section needs rather a lot of editing, but details schmetails. I have something to edit, which is the important part.

And now I am going to eat bread and butter and gooseberry jam while I wait for my latest NyQuil to kick in, after which I shall go directly to bed, neither passing Go nor collecting $200 en route.

I am sure things will look better in the morning. :-)

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On a completely different topic, Don't Ask Don't Tell is now officially struck down from being law. Sure, it'll take a year or so to actually implement the changes, but that all-important first step has been taken. So yay for that too!
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
Am 3/4 through my Yuletide story. Have kinda-sorta started packing. Gave up on wrapping presents and decided that can be done Monday in NJ. Still periodically trying to cough up a lung and/or blow my brains out through my nose. (Fucking colds.) Really ought to eat dinner soon and go to sleep.

Remind me again why I thought signing up for Yuletide and going to Spain sounded like good ideas???

(Incidentally, is anyone willing to beta my Yuletide story? I don't really need a canon check [I am obsessive enough about that myself], just a general mechanics, flow, and mood check. I can send it out tomorrow afternoon and would need it back by noon on Monday.)
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
I always forget how long it takes to recover from colds. Also, I may have pushed too hard on Thursday and thus set back my progress.

Anyway, I called in and got my Friday shift reduced, so I only worked 5-9pm instead of 12-9pm, and today I have emailed the rest of my teaching team to say that I should not be around children tomorrow morning (*sadface*) so that will buy me a bit of sleeping time as well.

I am about halfway done with my Yuletide story, having cleared up a few research points and fixed canon inconsistencies in the first section. I also have a list of what to pack for Spain, which I will begin pulling together and fitting into my suitcase this evening. The gifts that needed to be mailed have been mailed, and the ones that will be personally delivered will be wrapped tonight or tomorrow afternoon.

Now I am going to get back to writing and coughing up what feels like three quarters of my lungs. Blecch.

(You know what I especially hate? I hate when you cough so much you start to trigger your vomit reflex and have to hold your breath and be still and swallow down the reflux by sheer force of will. It always tastes like burning. And that is probably more than you wanted to know about my past few days.

Blame the NyQuil. I always do. *beams*)
edenfalling: golden flaming chalice in a double circle (gold chalice)
Finally made some progress on my Yuletide story -- hurrah! I've had the basic idea for over a week, so it was mostly a matter of figuring out precisely where to begin the scene, and then just sitting down and damn well writing. So. Not anywhere near done, but a decent start.

In completely unrelated news, today in Sunday school we made ornaments that the kids will take down to the sanctuary next week to hang on the tree amidst caroling by the adult congregation, which is an annual thing. Each class tends to make ornaments that have some thematic relation to the curriculum. Since I am teaching Moral Tales, and one of our gimmicks is the Moral Compass (which I am always hard pressed not to call the Wheel of Morality "turn, turn, turn; tell us the lesson that we should learn!"), we made teeny tiny moral compasses using glittery silver circles and those two-armed folding brass pin things you can stick through punched holes and use to hold reports together. (Damn if I can remember what they're properly called.)

It was a smallish class, only seven kids, so Helen Ann and I each also made ornaments in case next week's class is bigger -- it would be bad if we didn't have enough ornaments for each kid to carry one.

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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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