Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

been reading romance novels

Why is it that every hero and heroine fall in love in a matter of days or (in the most egregious cases) hours? Is that really how it works? I mean, it seems really fast and kind of stupid. I can count on my hands the number of times I've seen people take longer, and those books/movies are usually among my favorites (Devil in Winter, Savage Damsel and the Dwarf, Penelope). And Shards of Honor doesn't count, because... I say so, I guess. ZARTRAM WILLS IT.

Props to Anne Stuart for having a hero who realizes that no means no, incidentally. He was getting pretty hot and heavy with his heroine and cut for sex ) when she said "no." Most heroes that I can think of would've just kept right on going, but this guy stops. *pets him lots* I think that's when I was convinced he was good for this particular heroine.

And how sad is it that I feel like this is something that should be praised? Argh. Okay. Not getting into the rape discussion from a while ago.

No, actually, Shards of Honor doesn't count because we get to see a continuing love story for the people in question. It's not marriage and that's it, I'm not left wondering how these two are going to work out the rest of their lives. I get to see it. I get to see them manage and navigate intimacy and kids and in-laws and civil wars and all those other pesky problems you get with marriage, and they do quite a nice job, thank you very much. And that's not just me shipping it like FedEx.

Incidentally, when Frederick met Katherine she was engaged, and it wasn't to him either. I must figure out how this works. I suspect it's going to make me strongly dislike Katherine's poor mother, but what can you do.
(Leave a comment)

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

I feel the need to froth for a bit. Bear with me.

Okay, guys. I am so fucking sick and tired of "it's just a show" or "it's just a book" whenever somebody says "it changed my life." Guess what! ART CAN DO THAT. I would argue that the entire point of artistic endeavour is to affect someone, emotionally, mentally, sometimes even physically (porn, for example*). If something doesn't affect you, if it is, in effect, just a book, then it's not art, and I don't think I have ever read a book that didn't make me react in some way. Even if I hated it (Twilight), it still made me react.

Everyone who creates is trying to affect somebody out there. One of the greatest compliments I recieved on any piece of writing was "a tremendous gut-punch of a story." It was not a happy story, and I'm sure the feelings evoked were not happy ones, but I was not trying to create happy feelings, and I affected my audience, which is the real and original goal of creativity.

I'm sure this is why people beg for reviews so shamelessly, why authors and musicians and artists love to hear from people who've read/heard/seen their stuff, and I know it's why I don't like to write fic for certain people because I know they don't respond. Artists have to know they're creating an effect, any effect. Attention-whoring? Perhaps, but I don't think so. Without response, how do you know you're not screaming into the void? How do you know that there's any point and purpose to what you're doing at all?

In short, don't ever dismiss something as "just" a show or book or movie or whatever. Somebody, somewhere, has been affected powerfully by that show or book or movie. I guarantee it. Your dismissal trivializes their feelings and, if it gets back to the artist, makes them feel trivial. Because the worst thing you can ever say to an artist regarding their work or to a person who loves that work is "meh."

*If anyone leaves comments arguing about the artistic value of porn, I will hunt you down and murder you in your sleep for spectacularly missing the point.
(3 comments | Leave a comment)

Monday, April 27th, 2009

Women I Admire

I finished reading a biography today, about the same time as Miss Cam sparked a new meme here after this fandom secret and this long discussion bordering on wank (randomly, I love how everyone pulled out their favorite female character icons in that thread). It was fortuitous timing, so now I'm going to tell y'all about women I admire, who may or may not be fictional. I'd stick with fictional women, but again, the biography. I do hope you'll talk about women you admire, too. I think we can't talk enough about women we admire.

I've restrained myself, with great difficulty, to one per fandom. )

Looking back at these women, and at the ones who didn't make the list (Zoe Washburn, Inara Serra, Dana Scully, Virginia Wolff, my Doctor Who gals), I can see a couple of trends. I tend to admire smart women, who can maintain strong and loving relationships, but neither quality is a deal-breaker if it's lacking (Kaylee, Karrin Murphy). I admire women who are women, not men with breasts. I admire women who aren't afraid or ashamed of their sexuality. I admire women who are more than competant, women who hold their own and demand respect. I admire exceptional women who aren't afraid to be exceptional.

I feel like today, most women and girls are afraid to be exceptional. I don't know why this is so, or why women get boxed into subordinate roles that they aren't comfortable with or happy in. I feel like every girl should know that she can be exceptional, and I feel like these woman are a good start.

In short, I admire exceptional women, and I have every intention of being one.

What women do you respect? Why do you respect them?

ETA: Honorh talks about the same thing here, and so does selenay936.
(Leave a comment)

Monday, January 19th, 2009


WTF is it with me and the old-married-couple ships? First, a long-ass time ago, there was Talia/Dirk and Rosethorn/Crane, and then Mulder/Scully, Ian/Barbara, Aral/Cordelia, and now freakin' Adama/Roslin and Cazaril/Betriz. I may have problems.

Or maybe I just like military* men with problems and the badass women they love. Dunno.

*Mulder's FBI, he counts. Crane is the exception that proves the rule.
(2 comments | Leave a comment)

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

I just realized two things.

1) Spite is excellent motivation for writing.

2) I figured out why I ship Aral/Cordelia so much. There seems to be this trend lately in fiction and movies of marriages that don't work. That irritates me. I feel that there can be fully as much drama in a marriage that does work as in marriages that don't, and having lived through the implosion of a marriage in the past three years, I don't want to read about/see it. I want to see couples who fight and bicker and still love each other. It is possible, Hollywood-types.

I feel like more fiction depicting such couples might cut down on the number of divorces, if only by demonstrating that it is okay to fight with someone you love. Lois McMaster Bujold gets it dead to rights with Aral and Cordelia. They hurt each other all the time, but they forgive each other and move on. More positive depictions in fiction might help replace the Harlequin romance stereotype.

To explain 1: I got so sick of seeing all these stories in my Fiction Workshop II class about marriages that imploded or otherwise didn't work, so I wrote a story about one that did. Pretty much just because.
(3 comments | Leave a comment)

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

Dear Vorkosigan Saga Fandom:

Is it too damn much to ask for some Aral/Cordelia fanfiction?

Seriously! They've been quite happily married for thirty years, they've successfully parented lots of kids both belonging to them and not, they've survived God knows how much shite, and they're definitely still having sex. There is so much potential! Not to mention opportunities for porn![1]

So why is there no fic?


[1]On a related note, why is all the porn slash.
(4 comments | Leave a comment)

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

Couple of thinky things

1) Ursula Vernon is pissed, and with good reason.

My thoughts on the matter? I believe that no one should constrict or constrain an artist to produce something. This puts me at odds with the publishing industry, somewhat, in that they seem to believe they can contract people to produce a specific product, exactly to their outline (romance industry, I'm looking at you). This isn't completely constraining, though; a writer has to have a certain amount of enthusiasm for the project in order to contract to create it. Writing to prompts is also different, as a prompt will give you an opening, but will not tell you what to write.

On the other hand, I can sort of see where the email writer comes in. Not as regards Billy Collins, of course; he's one of my favorite poets and I find him very accessible. However, throughout my academic career, poetry has had to mean something, and it's usually a meaning completely opposite to what was given. This sort of analytic reading of poetry drives me batty. It implies that for a poem to be a "good" poem, it must be either entirely metaphorical or entirely inaccessible (T. S. Eliot, the Wasteland, I'm looking at you!). Now, most poets don't believe this. See, Billy Collins, Paul Zarzyski, even T. S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. Academics, though, certainly do.

Newsflash, academics: just because something's fun to read doesn't mean it's automatically trash.

So it seems to me that this is more a problem of how we read than of how we write. If we cannot enjoy something, we tend to say that it sucks and throw it away. Okay, fine, whatever, you're not constraining the author at all, you're simply exercising your right as the audience to ignore them. However, when you then say that because you don't like it, nobody else can because it's trash, and the author must immediately change their ways, then it becomes a problem.

2) Sherwood Smith, on writing and memory

For me, the books that bring back my childhood most clearly are The Neverending Story, the Hobbit, and Tamora Pierce, most especially her Alanna series. I can remember sitting on my bed, curled up around my teddy bear, reading with absolute amazement. The idea that somewhere there were people that dreamed just like me was such an irresistable one. I remember being absolutely stunned that people could dream like that, the same way I did. Up until then, I thought I was alone. I think that's when words became my friends. The Neverending Story in particular made me feel as if I could quite happily spend the rest of my life stuck in a book.

I've never lost that feeling, not really. You may have noticed. :D
(Leave a comment)

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

Ship meme! Comments are love.

1. List your top seven ships
2. Put all of them in order of your love for them; 7 to 1, 1 being your favorite.
3. Name their fandom.
4. Supply photos for said people.

These are really in no particular order: I ship them all about equally. AKA, like burning )
And, of course, the traditional Super Secret Really Really Really Embarrassing Slash Ship below the cut. )
(1 comment | Leave a comment)

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

Book Review: Mary Called Magdalene

So I just finished reading Mary Called Magdalene, by Margaret George. I chose to read it because I enjoyed George's other books (The Autobiography of Henry VIII and The Memoirs of Cleopatra) despite their length, and because I've always been interested in and curious about the Magdalene. However, I find myself curiously irritated by Mary Called Magdalene.

I think part of the reason is because it feels so much like "women's history." I use the term carefully here, not to suggest a derogatory attitude towards people who research the lives of ordinary and extraordinary women in the past (I come from an all-girl's school, people, that'd be stupid and hypocritical of me), but to express my irritation with the people who insist on shoehorning women into places they simply would not have occupied. In this novel, Mary Magdalene manages to be an ordinary Jewish woman who then becomes the center of the group of disciples, and, according to George, the only one who remained with Jesus throughout his trials and suffering. The apostle John gets a mention as does the Virgin Mary, but all the glory belongs to Mary Magdalene. She also falls in love with Jesus, though thankfully George does not go the Dan Brown route and claim it was returned. Beyond this specific objection, I have no reason to account for my annoyance with Mary's character.

Another issue I had with the novel is that it goes on too long. I ended up skimming the last hundred or so pages, since they did nothing for me and merely served as a chance for George to talk about the early Christian church. Had she written them in the same engaging style as she did the rest of the story, I might have read them; however, she chose to write them in a summary, formulaic voice, styling them "The Memoirs of Mary Magdalene." The lovely turns of language and knack for dialogue are all gone, and it was simply uninteresting.

I did enjoy the language prior to that little interlude. Margaret George has a way with words that make her seven- and eight-hundred-page books worth reading. For example (off a randomly-opened page in Mary Called Magdalene):

"Something seemed to slow her, and she turned and looked carefully at each face. She looked directly into each woman's eyes, although usually she felt it was impolite to do so. Dark-brown eyes, so deep they looked black; eyes fringed with such heavy lashes they threw shadows on the woman's cheeks; eyes the tawny yellow of the shells of tortosies; even one pair of startlingly blue eyes, as blue as any Macedonian's."

Gorgeous description. George specializes in these and usually delivers five or six a chapter.

I'm not sorry I read this book, but I am confused by my irritation with it. I quite liked the story up until Mary fell in love with Jesus, at which point I started skimming and skipping. Perhaps I'm too Christian at heart to quite like the idea of Jesus being in love, or maybe it's simply part of my own beliefs about what makes divinity. It could even have been my feeling of "I know this story, get on with it," though I don't think so, as I was enjoying the book up until then. Either way, I just stopped caring about Mary and her troubles.

If you like me are interested in Mary Magdalene but don't feel like investing the time in this brick of a book, I much preferred Donna Jo Napoli's Song of the Magdalene. It's elegant, concise, and much more emotionally affecting.
(Leave a comment)

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008

Writing Meme!

To pass the time for you while I reread His Majesty's Dragon and sequels and finish Victory of Eagles.

Post the first lines from your last twenty-five fics and see if there's a pattern (or something like that).

Here we go, in reverse order. )

Hmm. General patterns seem to be me playing with language more and more. I start out messing around with Space Between the Seconds and by the Dalek Invasion of Discworld I've nearly gone overboard. Thank you, darling beta! A few of these, namely all the Dresden Files fic and The Dalek Invasion of Discworld are me consciously trying to mimic the author in question. Interestingly, I've only started out with dialogue in three fics; I was under the impression that I did it a lot more. I also seem to start out right in the middle of the story and explain things later. Very Doctorlike of me, I think. So! What do you think?
(Leave a comment)

Saturday, January 19th, 2008


Intriguing thing I came up with while researching costumes for WW*:

The Operative and Book have a very similar costume theme, at least series!Book and movieopening!Operative. Compare this picture with this picture. They both wear a grey top: with the Operative, this appears to be some sort of jacket, with a collar that, while never closed, could echo Book's clerical-esque collar on his grey shirt. The Operative wears a black shirt beneath the jacket, while Book occasionally wears a black jacket. Both men have dark-colored trousers, both have similar color schemes. Coincidence?

*I know this shows signs of hopeless geekitude, but I did come up with some rather interesting factoids. Frex, Murphy has a lace-up leather vest and leather bracers that she always wears out in the field, since both are enchanted with the same spell that Harry's duster has in normal Dresdenverse to ward off cuts and magical blows. She also usually wears her hair in a crown braid, which means both it's at least shoulder-length and that Alex and Harry must've gotten good at braiding (presumably Nina Grey taught one or both of them). I'm working on standard uniforms, Jen, and Gabrielle now.**

**If you're as geeky as me and would like a costume design for a character, drop me a word and I'll see what I can do. Odds are you'll get a wordy description rather than a sketch, because my artistic skillz are nil.
(3 comments | Leave a comment)