mrissa: (Default)

Arkady Martine, Django Wexler, John Chu, and I had so much fun teaching the workshop at 4th St. Fantasy convention last year that we're doing it again this year...but with a twist! This year's theme is "Getting Unstuck." Participants in the workshop should submit pieces they're stuck on--not outlines but some prose written--and we'll use tactics both usual and zany to get through the block. We'll work on identifying patterns that contribute to getting stuck as well as ways out.





The deadline for signing up for the workshop is May 20, but it's first-come first-served--AND convention membership rates go up on March 1--so now is a great time to sign up!


time for a redo!

Feb. 21st, 2019 09:45 am[personal profile] dichroic
dichroic: (oar asterisk)

Here we go! We have a general contractor (GC) lined up to do the Big Scary Remodel we’ve been discussing for years. This is a two story house addition for the lake house, of the garage and the kitchen above it. The hardest parts of this have been lining up the GC — they’ve all been crazy busy the last few years — and just making the decision to spend this much money. Assuming we stick to budget (ha!) it will cost just under what we paid for the entire townhouse we live in, and more than either of the other two houses we’ve owned (both bought before housing prices skyrocketed in the 2000s, though).

We are expanding the garage (it’s a tandem one and we’re lengthening it) because we have a bunch of boats in it (kayaks and rowing shells) and would like to get a car in too. Also Ted does his woodworking in there and has been getting space limited. Above it we are likewise expanding the kitchen, because the one we have now is nice to look at and nice to cook in, but has no place to store food. Also, though we have a great deck, there’s nowhere to sit inside and enjoy the lake view when the weather is too crappy to sit outside, so the expanded kitchen will include a breakfast area by the big windows. I think we’ll mostly end up heating here, rather than in the dining room. Ted (and his parents, when they or we are visiting) tend to linger over meals until I get tired of sitting at a table, so my goal here will be to find the most comfortable chairs I can. I like hanging out and talking, just not sitting upright at a table. Once everything is back in place after the remodel, assuming we aren’t impoverished, I may also get club chairs and a lower table to put in the great room area, which currently holds only a library table, plus two low bookshelves flanking a china cabinet. That area may be more comfortable for me to sit and read and knit on rainy or cold afternoons … and maybe I can lure people from the table to there after dinner.

It has been difficult, deciding to do this. There were cheaper alternatives to reach some of our goals: we could turn the great room into a seating area by just buying furniture (which I will probably do anyway, as mentioned above), and turning a niche in the dining room into a small pantry. But this is the house we plan to move into as soon as we retire and live there until we can’t anymore, in addition to spending weekends there in the nearer term. I think we will get a lot of pleasure out of these additions. I’ll get a second oven for holiday meal cooking and a better stove. The current kitchen only allows either a cabinet-depth or a quite small fridge, so this will let us have a normal one. We’ll replace the formica counters with something prettier.

I am liking working with this contractor too; we wanted a carriage door into the garage, because an overhead door cuts into the boat storage space, but those are very expensive so we’d settled on a roll-up door. He’s found us a wood roll-up door, which should look a lot better than a metal one while still not taking up too much overhead space. He’s also found that it’s possible to match the beautiful wood flooring we currently have in the kitchen and great room – we hadn’t thought that was doable, so we were going to go with tile. I think the wood will feel better underfoot, be softer for when we drop things, and give a warmer look to the space, which is important on gray Oregon days.

I will try to get some good as-is photos when we’re there this weekend, so I can document the whole process. Now, off to draft the most tactful email I can to the contractor we didn’t pick.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

el_staplador: River Song (river)
I finally broke my Doctor Who fic dry spell and wrote this. Which will probably surprise nobody.

Educational Visit (2057 words) by El Staplador
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Doctor Who (2005)
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Thirteenth Doctor/River Song
Characters: Thirteenth Doctor, Ryan Sinclair, Yasmin Khan, Graham O'Brien, River Song
Additional Tags: School Trip, Handwavium, Sonic Screwdriver, Reference to Vomit, Alien Planet, date, Timey-Wimey
Summary:

A message encoded in the blinking of a pulsar can come from only person that the Doctor knows... but why is she summoning her to the visitor centre at Drewett's Nebula Falls?

mrissa: (Default)

This is the latest in a recurring series! For more about the series, please read the original post on Marta Randall, or subsequent posts on Dorothy Heydt, Barbara Hambly, Jane Yolen, Suzy McKee Charnas, Sherwood Smith, Nisi Shawl, and Pamela Dean.





The more I do of this series of posts, the more I discover that one of the commonalities of writers I want to feature here is that they write with great variety--both on a range of topics and for a range of audiences. The first Gwyneth Jones books I fell in love with were the series that starts with Bold As Love--all rock, all political, all relationships, all the time. Focused on the near future, the environment, and how people handle it as people--at basically every scale. Healthy dollop of weird science fiction mysticism.





But then I ran around trying to find as many others of her books as I could--a harder feat than it should be in the US, alas--there were very different things. Weird alien SF! Creepy kids' books! Riffs on classics with heart and humanity! There are authors of whom you can say, "Well, it's a one of those again, if you want that," and...Gwyneth Jones doesn't do that. Even the last book of the Bold As Love cycle departs strongly from the patterns and concerns of the rest of it. (The Grasshopper's Child, and I love that one too.) There's a lot of her back catalog for me to pore through bookstores to find, and I'm eager for it.


Parallel beauty

Feb. 20th, 2019 09:01 am[personal profile] mount_oregano
mount_oregano: Let me see (Default)
One reason to learn a foreign language is to find out about your own. Spanish — and French and Italian — avoid repetition by all means, frequently by employing what H.W. Fowler in Modern English Usage disparaged as the literary fault of “elegant variation.” But repeating words in English, except when done carelessly, is no fault: it adds clarity and even beauty. Repeated words sound especially beautiful to an English-language ear when they form part of a parallel structure, that is, a part of repeated grammatical structures.

Why is English like this? Because of the 1611 Authorized Version of the Bible, the “King James” Bible. As soon as it was published, its constant use as the major work of literature readily available to the ordinary person made it the standard and model of our language. Fortunately for us, the translators produced a direct, unornamented work meant for ordinary people, not scholars. They wrote when English was a new and fresh language and could be used without complication. They stuck close to the original languages, notably Hebrew.

Much of that Hebrew was poetic, using concrete and vivid language with simple phrases, easy to translate. Hebrew poetry does not rhyme; instead, it uses parallel, balanced structures of phrases or ideas, and of words or rhythms. The second half of a parallel may paraphrase the first half, it may give a consequence, it may contradict the first half, or it may add stronger and stronger clauses or sentences that lead to an apex. The rhythm can make the prose musical.

One example is from Ruth, 1:16-17:

And Ruth said, entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:

Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.


The power and beauty of Biblical language and poetic repetition at work in modern English can be seen in this excerpt from a speech delivered on August 28, 1963, by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:

Now, I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day in the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slave-owners and the sons of former slaves will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the people’s injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

This is our home. This is the faith that I will go back to the South with — with this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.

Books read, early February

Feb. 18th, 2019 04:25 pm[personal profile] mrissa
mrissa: (Default)

Ben Aaronovitch, Lies Sleeping. This is the latest in this long urban fantasy series, and it relies very heavily on both plot and character arcs from earlier in the series. Good news: there is plenty of movement on things that have been going on for several books. Bad news: if you want to start somewhere, this is not it. Peter and his friends, enemies, relations are all barreling forward at top speed, but a lot of it will make no sense without the rest of the series.





Jill Baguchinsky, Mammoth. This is a charming YA about a plus-sized teenage fashionista with a passion for paleontology. It has a lot of genre-YA themes about finding yourself and also maybe someone else, but at the top of the list of things the protag finds is BONES so that is pretty great. I want to put a CW on this for the protagonist starting the book fixating on guessing other women's weight. This is flagged as unhealthy but may still be difficult for some readers, so: choose when you read it accordingly.





Hans Bekker-Nielsen et al, eds., Mediaeval Scandinavia 1968. This is a hardbound annual journal for its field. A lot of the stuff therein has either become basic knowledge since then or gotten debunked, but there were still some interesting rune-deciphering passages. Not recommended unless you're constantly eager for new medieval Scand studies stuff, which...I am.





Blair Braverman, Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube: Chasing Fear and Finding Home in the Great White North. I read this author's twitter, and she writes about dogsledding there. YAY I LIKE DOGS. It was also a good time for me to read about dogsledding, as I revise a book with significant amounts of dogsledding in it. This book...was not really about dogsledding. Very much at all. It was mostly about recovering from sexual abuse, assault, and trauma. Braverman chose to do that in the far north of Norway, and there are interesting cultural things going on there, and I engaged with this narrative, but--if you're here for the dogsledding, not so much.





Roshani Chokshi, Aru Shah and the End of Time. This was a lovely, charming middle-grade adventure. I got a copy for a kid in my life for their birthday. Friendship and magic and figuring yourself out. Yay.





Linda Collister, The Great British Bake Off: Big Book of Baking and The Great British Bake Off: Perfect Cakes and Bakes to Make at Home. I flipped through these and wrote down exactly three recipes, but that's actually pretty good for library cookbooks--I mostly am not a big recipe cook anyway.





Philip Cushway and Michael Warr, eds., Of Poetry and Protest: From Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin. This was a harrowing book of protest poetry that was very much worth engaging with, a little at a time. I was a tiny bit frustrated that such a large percentage of the page count was dedicated to writing about each poet rather than showcasing their poems--for most poets there were more words dedicated to their bio than in their poems, which seems backwards to me. I feel like most of the poets showcased probably had more than one good protest poem. But the ones that were there were good to have.





Michael Eric Dyson, What Truth Sounds Like: RFK, James Baldwin, and Our Unfinished Conversation About Race in America. This traces the roots and results of a major meeting between American Black intelligentsia/artists and Robert F. Kennedy. Dyson has lots of ideas about the implications of this conversation and conversations like it, and this was fascinating--especially with the range of talent that Baldwin could get to show up on a moment's notice.





Lissa Evans, Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms. This is a fun MG about magic (the stage variety...or is it...) and puzzles and family.





Robert Frost, New Hampshire: A Poem with Notes and Grace Notes. Kindle. Several of the "Grace Notes" are familiar, much-anthologized poems, tacked on here as extras. The "Notes" tend to be longer, often dialect-laden local poems. And then there's the titular poem. It's massive and rambly and reminds me a bit of W.H. Auden's Letters from Iceland in form/style. I really like this geographical ramble poem thing. I would like a book of them. (But mostly I would like to reread Letters from Iceland because I love it unreasonably and Uncle Wys is the best.) (Ahem. Okay you can read Robert Frost too I guess, but really you probably already know that.) (AUDENNNN.)





Marlon James, Black Leopard, Red Wolf. All the other grimdark books are like teddy bears having their picnic compared to this. It is full of multiform rape, genital mutilation, excretion in its various types, cruelty...it is a lot. It is vividly imagined and beautifully written, and so, so very dark. It is doing things with worldbuilding that no one else has tried, and also it is so very dark.





Rosalie Knecht, Who Is Vera Kelly? This is both a spy novel and a young woman's coming of age story. It is the kind of spy novel I have wanted, light and fun and firmly placed in space and time. It has the short, zippy chapters of some earlier works in this genre while leaving out the sexism. Yay for this book.





Rose MacAulay, Crewe Train. In many ways this is a charming and eccentric narrative of a young woman who does not want what she is told to want and the mild chaos that ensues in her life because of that fact. I will read more Rose MacAulay for sure, because this was intriguing and mostly good in an early 20th century way. However, I do feel the need to flag that there's about a chapter of staggeringly racist content that is not only awful but completely unnecessary to the plot, the sort of thing that makes you repeat, "Rose, what are you doing, Rose, what are you doing," over and over as you read. Is one chapter of that too much? You get to decide.





Seanan McGuire, In an Absent Dream. This is the most recent of Seanan's portal fantasy novellas, which are my favorite thing she's doing right now. This one stands quite well alone and is very distinctive in setting and character from the others. I was mostly okay with which things were summarized and which shown (an interesting calculus of novellas), until the ending, which wasn't quite as satisfying because of that ratio. Still glad I read it.





John McPhee, Draft No. 4: On the Writing Process. This is the book equivalent of sitting at John McPhee's feet listening to him talk about his long and storied career and how it all has worked. I wouldn't start here if you haven't read McPhee before, I'd start with Annals of the Former World, because that is amazing. But if you already like McPhee this will probably be an interesting and fast read. (Note for people who are always on the lookout for writing books: this is about writing nonfiction, if that changes anything for you.)





Robert Muir-Wood, The Cure for Catastrophe: How We Can Stop Manufacturing Natural Disasters. Interesting stuff on structure and materials and their adaptations to place. I'd have liked more of the title and less of the background for the title, but I'm told there are storage and organization issues with having everything.





Dennis Romano, Markets and Marketplaces in Medieval Italy, c. 1100 to c. 1440. This goes into a lot of detail about the relationship of the sacred and secular in this context, and about how the different Italian city-states varied but had common elements in how they handled marketplace issues. One of the things that was interesting to me was how much focus there was on fraud--which makes sense, but...well, if you have friends and family who spend a lot of time on deregulation as a political hot button, direct them to the medieval Italians.





Rebecca Solnit, Call Them By Their True Names. This is a collection of Solnit's recent essays on the contemporary scene. I'd already read several of them in their original magazine publications, but it was still an interesting book--and I basically always reach for Rebecca Solnit first whenever I get one of her books.





Vanessa Tait, The Looking Glass House. I didn't see one of the marketing points of this book before I picked it up in a used bookstore--namely that Tait is the descendant of Alice Liddell of Alice in Wonderland fame. This is a novel about the Liddells' governess. Basically everyone in it is unhappy and unpleasant, parents, children, governesses, random family friends, all of them. This is a "sucked to be them" book, and while it's written reasonably well, all that did was make me keep reading until the end, with nothing but frustration and misery as far as the eye can see. Not recommended.





Sara Teasdale, Love Songs. Kindle. There are several things that Teasdale appears to think about love that make me want to rent her a cabin for a year so she can get some time to herself to think, and then introduce her to people who are kind and don't play power games, because wow, kiddo, wow. But then there are the moments where she is wrapped up in natural beauty, and I'm here for that.


Good Books Recently

Feb. 17th, 2019 01:56 pm[personal profile] okrablossom
okrablossom: jasmine tea blossom open in mug (tea blossom)
Books I've read recently that I've really really enjoyed: Django Wexler's Ship of Smoke and Steel [kinda creepy fantasy with intriguing magic and some nice relationships], Jim Hines' Terminal Uprising [made me laugh out loud but also touched some genuine deep emotions], Louise Penny's Bury Your Dead [for the reasons I love most of her books: language, love, the hard work of doing right], Yoon Ha Lee's Dragon Pearl [for an old story through new (to me) lenses]. Oh! And Terrance Hayes' American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin for seriousness and beauty and Huda Fahmy's Yes, I'm Hot in This for the puns and the perspective.

And thank goodness I've got more library books stacked up, as there's snow on the way!

Ficcish round-up

Feb. 16th, 2019 05:56 pm[personal profile] el_staplador
el_staplador: Tight crop of Mila holding Yuri Plisetsky over her head - from Yuri!!! on Ice (mila)
1. Chocolate Box! I received two delightful stories. Read more... )

2. As promised, I have attempted a Problem of Susan story. Read more... )

3. Four of my stories - one original and three YOI - were translated into Russian as part of WTF Women 2019. I do not know any Russian, beyond recognising a few letters of the Cyrillic alphabet, but have been enjoying looking for names etc. Read more... )

Gratitudes

Feb. 14th, 2019 08:55 pm[personal profile] kass
kass: kitten face (Default)
1. Today at lunch I tried cooking up some collard greens with olive oil and preserved lemon and red pepper flakes and a splash of vinho verde, and they were awesome.

2. My kid made me a card containing two whole sheets of stickers. Puppies with hearts. Kittens with hearts. Hearts with hearts. ♥

3. I got to see [personal profile] lomedet today (on my computer) and do some learning, and that was super-lovely and good for me.

4. I'm getting into a rhythm now -- I set out the bread flour and the sugar and my bread bowl on Thursday night, and Friday morning after I feed cat and boy I start my challah dough -- and this makes me happy.

5. Laundry is spinning and I am in cozy PJs sipping rosé, huzzah.

How are y'all?
mrissa: (Default)

Recently I was a guest on the Breaking the Glass Slipper podcast. BtGS is a feminist SFF podcast that wanted to do more episodes on intersectional issues, so we talked about disability representation in SFF. You can give it a listen here!





(I will confess that I am terrible at listening to podcasts myself, but it can be so much fun to be on them--one gets into good conversations. So we'll see if I can't get better at this.)


mount_oregano: Let me see (Default)

This weekend I’ll be at Capricon 39, a science fiction convention held February 14 to 17 in Wheeling, a suburb of Chicago. This year’s theme is “Strange Beasts Arise.”

If you’re there, say hi. In addition to wandering around and having fun, I’ll be on four panels:

Friday, 10 a.m. – Book Reviews vs. Literary Criticism: But Is it Good?
What is the role of a reviewer compared to that of a critic? What are the differences? What serves the genre more? How do we deal with fan reviews, especially those so-called reviews on Amazon and Goodreads?

Friday, 5:30 p.m. – Literary Economics
Most SF and fantasy assumes that there is an endless supply of money, spaceships, horses, swords, ray-guns and … Our panelists will discuss how and why to consider economics in world-building.

Sunday, 10 a.m. – The Business Side of Writing
Okay, so you’ve written your novel. Now what? Our pros guide you through what your next steps need to be and what your options as a writer are.

Sunday, noon – Resurrecting Strange Beasts
Modern genetic science may be able to recreate extinct life forms (such as mammoths). There is also the possibility of creating even stranger creatures (such as griffons, dragons, and even centaurs) by mixing genes from widely different animals. What are the pros and cons of playing with our new genetic toys in this manner?

— Sue Burke

Snow day gratitudes

Feb. 12th, 2019 07:18 pm[personal profile] kass
kass: kitten face (Default)
1. Being indoors and warm while the snow pours down outside.

2. Lamb shanks were on sale this morning, so they've been simmering all day in my slow cooker with broth seasoned with star anise, orange zest, some red wine vinegar, onions, and garlic. Just now I reduced some of the broth a bit, added medjool dates and za'atar, and ate lamb with all of the above over baked basmati rice. Oh man so good.

3. Kiddo has spent most of the day enjoying a Sword Art Online marathon, which has been fun for me too, because that's one of the anime options I enjoy as much as he does.

4. We bestirred ourselves to leave the house and attempted to go sledding down the block, and while the sledding was a mixed success (it is a gentle hill and still he fell off his sled a bunch) there was much giggling, which was really the point.

5. A friend sent me flowers yesterday, and they are brightening my dining room.

Readers choose *two*!

Feb. 12th, 2019 08:50 am[personal profile] mrissa
mrissa: (Default)

Analog magazine runs a reader's choice poll called AnLab every year. This year I had one story each place in the categories of Short Story and Novelette. You can see the full list here! Analog provides links to most of these stories (all the ones the authors consented to have on the internet), so you can read all sorts of my peers doing good things.





And! The novelette on the list was reprinted in Clarkesworld last month, but this is the first internet appearance of the short story! I hope you enjoy Finding Their Footing as much as the Analog readers did.


Sunday gratitudes

Feb. 10th, 2019 03:33 pm[personal profile] kass
kass: a latte in a teacup with a heart shape drawn in the foam (latte)
1. Coffee. Especially when Z has had a buddy over for a sleepover and I could hear them thumping about excitedly upstairs at the crack of six a.m.

2. I had a Cantonese breakfast this morning -- homemade turnip cakes (recipe adjusted slightly for kashrut reasons) and egg -- and it was delightful.

3. The sun is shining.

4. I took Z and playdate to see the Lego Movie 2 today, and it is charming.

5. Tonight's dinner will be pistachio-mint turkey kofte, crispy smashed potatoes with za'atar, and kale. I am already looking forward to it. That might also be because I had movie popcorn in lieu of actual lunch, which was maybe not my brightest move, though it was tasty at the time. :-D

Shabbes afternoon gratitudes

Feb. 9th, 2019 03:33 pm[personal profile] kass
kass: kitten face (Default)
1. Last night [personal profile] sanj came over and we had salmon and soba and greens alongside our Shabbes challah, and read some of A Wind in the Door aloud with Z, and once Z was in bed we watched the finale of S1 of the Great Family Cooking Showdown and the family I liked best won, which was charming.

2. I went for an afternoon walk with El Kid: across a swaying suspension bridge to a batch of twisty woodland paths, a wooden boardwalk where we stopped and listened to a gurgling stream and broke off pieces of ice to investigate and examine, and a sound sculpture made up of several tiers of dangling pipes and pieces of metal, like a small chapel made out of wind chimes. Sunshine and cold air and finding beauty in our backyard and my cheeks turned pink from the cold and it was good for me.

3. There's a new bookshelf in my "mudroom" hallway, holding shoes and cloth bins of hats and gloves and so on, and I think it will help keep the space tidier.

4. I have a pitcher of bright red tangy herbal "Passion" Tazo tea. It is bright in color and in flavor.

5. Now I am indoors and warm, and the sky is blue, and the willow twigs are golden, and even though we have a bunch of winter yet to go, I am beginning to imagine spring.

How are y'all?

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