resonant: Brian from The Breakfast Club: Demented and sad, but social (Default)
[personal profile] mific asks: If you had to give up one of your 5 senses (you know, to save Atlantis or Benton Fraser's life, or suchlike), which would it be and why?

Oh, wow. This is a really tough one. I don't wanna!

Lose vision and I lose the ability to drive a car or read a book. I know there are lots of people who get along without their vision, but given the choice, I'm going to take an easier option.

I'm somewhat hard of hearing as it is, and it's incredibly frustrating. Give up hearing altogether and I lose music. There has to be an easier option.

I once knew a woman who had lost her sense of smell -- something about a severe disease when she was a toddler? She told me that when you lose smell, you also lose taste; she could enjoy spicy food and variations in temperature, but generally she found eating to be a chore. And think of the access to memory that you'd lose if you lost smell! This is not a loss that would interfere with work or hobbies, no, but it would take so much of the fun out of life.

Losing the sense of touch sounds dangerous. It would deprive me of everything from itching to pressure to heat and cold sensitivity to my sense of balance.

So I think we're down to taste. I'd hate to see it go -- I'd probably lose the pleasure of cooking as well as the pleasure of eating -- but it seems like the lesser of five evils.



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resonant: Brian from The Breakfast Club: Demented and sad, but social (Default)
[personal profile] james asks: Is there a tv show or movie that you would pay a billion dollars to get either a re-working of an episode or a sequel to? (It might not cost that much. Millions.) Because sometimes fanfic isn't enough, you just need to see it on-screen.

Wow. Where even to begin?

All respect to Maggie Smith and Alan Rickman, but I'd like to see the Harry Potter series done with the teachers cast at the correct ages. I believe we have canon that Snape, Lupin, and Black should all have been in their early thirties at the start of the series. The HP wikia gives McGonagall a birth date of 1935 and puts her leaving Hogwarts in 1957, making Maggie Smith about the right age, but I don't know where those numbers come from; she's described with dark hair, and I pictured her in her early fifties.

But if I only have enough for one thing, I'm not sure I'd squander it on that.

No, you know what I'd spend it on? A reboot of "The Breakfast Club," that's what! Update the stereotypes (in the 21st century you'd have to have at least one character gay, for one thing, and an all-white cast would not fly) ... the parenting issues and the school problems probably wouldn't need any changes ... if I have my preferences, the nerd character won't be stuck doing everybody's homework while everyone else pairs off ...

I would so watch that!





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resonant: Brian from The Breakfast Club: Demented and sad, but social (Default)
[personal profile] reginagiraffe asks: what was the best birthday present you ever got? (You can supply your own definition of "best".)

I never wanted to be a hard person to buy for, but apparently I am. One year the kidlet drew me a bookmark with a picture of our cat Alice (who died before the kidlet was born) being typically bossy and persnickety, and I've lost it the way readers always lose bookmarks, but I remember it very fondly.

However, the birthday that gained me the best haul of gifts was 2006, when fandom really outdid itself.





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resonant: Brian from The Breakfast Club: Demented and sad, but social (Default)
Before beginning, a story. The kidlet says to me, "I need help finding a fanfiction. I've been looking all day long. It was Harry/Draco, and it involved a snake that was a gift from Draco's father."

I said, "Well, I'll be surprised if my first guess turns out to be correct, but ... Lustre? Julad and Calico?"

Yep! That was the one!


[personal profile] julad asks: What was publishing Exog like for you? The good, the not so good, the unexpected.

I think the best thing was that Amanda Jean, my editor, turned out to be of the fannish persuasion! The editing process was great, partly because she found some small ways to make the story flow better, and partly because it was a validation of the whole beta process; it turned out that the manuscript was quite clean.

The fact that the story was written so long ago troubled me; I would love to have a lively writing life happening right now, but I so very much don't, and here's this publication sitting there ... it feels a little like getting invited to a masquerade and dressing up as something you could be and have been (and, lord willing, will be again) but currently are not.

I have to admit, I was hoping it would earn more than a week's groceries cost. But considering that it required almost no new labor, what little money I got from it feels like money for nearly nothing.



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resonant: Brian from The Breakfast Club: Demented and sad, but social (Default)
9. [personal profile] china_shop asks: Thoughts about writing original fic vs writing fanfic, whether it's different processes, different feelings (or the same process, and the same feelings), or whatever.

My writerly self-image is of a person who is bad at plot and conflict, good at smoothly flowing sentences, and better than decent at characterization.

But characterization in fanfiction is completely different from characterization in original fiction.

Once I've got a character who's fully real in my head, I can do the same thing I do when writing fanfiction: say, "This person refuses to say those words, and insists on saying these other words instead." But it's difficult to get there. Many of my characters come out flat; others refuse to coalesce, but remain a collection of traits that don't come together to form a real person.




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resonant: Brian from The Breakfast Club: Demented and sad, but social (Default)
[personal profile] monanotlisa asks: What's the hardest thing to write for you, and how do you get around it and yet write it?

Word by word, sentence by sentence, even paragraph by paragraph, I find writing very easy. On top of the usual ways that writers get educated, I was also a journalism major in college, which means I spent hours, literal hours, doing nothing but re-wording a page full of sentences to improve their parallel structure.

But I find it incredibly hard to make things happen.

Left to themselves, my characters want to sit in vaguely drawn rooms and have conversations. Or sometimes my narrators want to describe things. In depth.

This is especially a problem when the story in question involves any sort of worldbuilding. I've built a world; the most fun thing I can imagine is to let some characters just go wander around in it, picking things up and looking at them. You remember in "Groundhog Day" the montage where the Bill Murray character just experiments with the terms of his curse? Tries things that ought to kill him, and wakes up the next morning ... learns what everybody in town is doing so that he can catch people who fall? My writing wants to be nothing but that montage.

And I'm afraid that the only way I can write meaningful conflict is to make a great slog of it. It takes forever for it to come to life and flow -- while I'm waiting for that to happen, I have to write hundreds, thousands of words that are like walking in knee-deep mud, knowing that once the life finally comes into the thing I'm going to have to go back and rewrite all that sloggy stuff to make it sound good. (I think this paragraph contains several contradictory metaphors, but what the hell. It's a good example of what I'm talking about.)

I'm sure there's a point at which I will have had enough practice that it will get easier, but it hasn't happened yet.







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resonant: Brian from The Breakfast Club: Demented and sad, but social (Default)
[personal profile] jesse_the_k asks: What's a garment that's well-loved by fandom, to the point of fanonization, that you really don't care for. Examples might be Fraser's hat; Ronon's gun; Sherlock's coat...

This is surprisingly difficult! I find I'm full of affection for all the ones you listed, not to mention RayK's glasses, and Snape's hat with a vulture on it, and even Blair Sandburg's Schrodinger's nipple ring.

I did from time to time get tired of authors dressing BBC Sherlock in the purple shirt, but why should they be expected to have any more restraint than canon?


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resonant: Brian from The Breakfast Club: Demented and sad, but social (Default)
[personal profile] cesperanza asks: What three things do you find unexpectedly sexy?

1. Glasses. Pretty much anyone who's attractive to me without glasses is about four times as attractive with them.

2. Singing. I'm constantly getting choir crushes because people become more attractive when they're singing harmony with me.

3. Moving toward the center of the gender spectrum. To make a woman more attractive to me, give her a butch haircut or a wardrobe low in ornaments. To make a man more attractive to me, give him jewelry.



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[personal profile] grammarwoman asks: what's a go-to comfort meal for you?

When I'm looking for a comfort meal, I get breakfasty.

- When I was a kid, my mother used to make "fried" apples (actually sort of braised), and I'll still make them as part of breakfast-for-dinner -- unpeeled, cored and sliced, softened in butter and then cooked with brown sugar and a bit of water or cider until they're nice and soft.

- Another childhood favorite is the thing where you butter a slice of bread on both sides, cut a hole in the middle, and break an egg into it. We called it "egg in a nest."

- If I want the kind of meal where I'm going to cook all afternoon, I love the Cook's Illustrated chicken potpie, which is basically a thick chicken stew cooked in a pie shell. As I type this, I'm wondering what would happen if you used some other kind of stew for a potpie? I have a cauliflower-and-cheese soup recipe that I'm very fond of; if I left some of the vegetables chunky, instead of pureeing the whole thing, would that make a decent potpie? Or is meat required?



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[personal profile] armadillo1976 asks: Dec 4. From the perspective of a parent of a big(ish) kid, what do you remember most/best from the time your kid was 1-2? (Asking as a mom of a 1.5 year old, terrified that she is going to forget all the love and beauty and mess of these times...)

... yeah, I wish I had kept a journal, because my memories of that time are so sparse. And the photos are all prints, so they don't just come up when I'm scrolling through my phone.

I remember that the second Christmas, my brother-in-law sent the kidlet some electronic toy, and the kidlet touched it, and it sprang to life with a musical chord and a cartoonish voice saying, "Hi, there!", and the kidlet very firmly pushed it away and said, "Too noising."

I remember being up until the middle of the night putting the damned kitchen set together -- it was a gift from my parents, and I had assumed that it arrived all assembled (poor innocent that I was), so it hadn't occurred to me to open it up in advance. But I remember that kitchen set so fondly, and all the imaginary meals cooked on it, and all the conversations with "Mrs. Moldiwarp" had on the attached phone.

Mom remembers the kidlet climbing up to the back of the big chair (the one I'm sitting in now) with the Little Golden Book of Christmas Carols, singing some random words, climbing down, and saying, "Sing Si' Night book self!"

An older friend of mine used to tell me, "The hours are long but the years are short," and that is so true.




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resonant: Brian from The Breakfast Club: Demented and sad, but social (Default)
[personal profile] mific asks: Do you enjoy Christmas more, or less, now the kidlet's older?

I have mixed feelings. Every now and then I catch myself looking longingly at a toy catalog or a coloring book. Little kids actually like toys and play with them. Teenagers give you a sympathetic glance full of shared nostalgia, but really all they want is money.

On the other hand, when your kid is a high school senior:

- Yes, there are still kids' performances to go to this time of year, but they're well-done and genuinely entertaining.
- If something needs assembly, you can hand it to the kid and say, "Here. Your eyes are better than mine."
- You don't have that period right after a gift-giving holiday when your living room is so full of brightly colored plastic that you can't walk across it.
- Teenagers know their limits, so you don't have to be the one doing all the tantrum-prevention duty.

I got particularly lucky because the kidlet's new favorite thing to do on Christmas morning is cook a huge breakfast.

So I'd have to say that on the whole the balance is with the older kid.

On the other hand, my best friend, who got her spawning done much younger than I did, has been rewarded with a brand-new grandchild, and that's looking like it might be the best option of all.



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resonant: Brian from The Breakfast Club: Demented and sad, but social (Default)
Another day of making up my own question: A few excellent books I read this year.

  • Atul Gawande, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters In the End. A moving and fascinating study of old age, part journalism and part essay. The spouse lost his mother this year, and his father is in an assisted-living apartment now instead of in his own house in California, so this felt very relevant -- but of course it's always relevant. I'd recommend it to everyone.

  • Daryl Gregory, Raising Stony Mayhall. Don't expect me to recommend a zombie book ever again, because generally it's a field in which I have zero interest. But one way to get my attention is to write the book from the POV of the zombie.

  • Elisabeth Tova Bailey, The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating. Get this one on paper rather than in an e-book so you can enjoy the drawings. The author was bedridden with a mysterious illness, and someone brought her a snail. She didn't have the energy to do anything else, so she watched the snail. It's a great book.

  • Gail Carson Levine, Ella Enchanted. Everyone already knows what this one is about, but it was a good sharp look at a fairy tale trope.

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resonant: Brian from The Breakfast Club: Demented and sad, but social (Default)
Since nobody claimed today, I'm going to answer the question nobody asked, which was: "What's new in the Christmas music collection this year?"

For those who haven't known me long, I collect Christmas music, and if you hate Christmas music because it's all either shiny shiny plastic or an unseemly show of sentimental piety, I might have a pleasant surprise for you.

My Christmas car playlist is up to 579 songs -- that's with all the instrumentals taken out, and only including songs that either have three or more stars or are brand-new and thus unrated. Every time iTunes upgrades, I have to go looking for another workaround to do what apparently no one but me wants to do, namely: first shuffle a playlist randomly, and then hang onto that random order and play them in that order every time. (Apple's random shuffle is actually random, which isn't good, because when I have a playlist of 579 songs, I get really cranky if I hear the same song twice in one day.)

Download six songs here:

  • Jackie Oates, The Halsway Carol. Trad-folk. "Sing for the coming of the longest night."
  • Joel Mabus, The One-Horse Open Sleigh. Solo acoustic guitar, old-time country feel.
  • The Miserable Offenders, A Stable Lamp Is Lighted. Because how could I resist a band called the Miserable Offenders? Piano and voices; the music's OK but I chose this one for the words. "And every stone shall cry, and straw like gold shall shine."
  • Kate Rusby, The Christmas Goose. Trad-folk. Basically a slightly bawdy joke turned to a ballad. (I discovered when I did a search for this that I have six songs with "goose" in the title, and I'm pretty sure they're all different.)
  • Blast From the Past, Joy in the Morning. A capella choir.
  • Thea Gilmore, Sol Invictus. A capella voices. Not Christmas, strictly speaking, but don't we all need a song of rebirth this year?

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resonant: Three frogs in Santa hats (zenfen xmas)
Saw Fantastic Beasts almost a week ago, and I can't believe it just now occurred to me to wonder whether there was a weird branch of Ray Kowalski's family that ran a bakery in New York.
resonant: Three frogs in Santa hats (zenfen xmas)
[personal profile] muccamukk reminded me that it's time once again for the only time of year when I actually participate in DW life!

Here's how it works. Choose a date in December. Ask me a question. I'll make a post about your question on the date you choose.

Seems like these last few years I always introduce December with an explanation for how very disengaged I've been from fandom. My current theory is that starting a new life in a new city and a new job in a new field, while conducting a commuter marriage and getting ready to be kidlet-less when it's college time, is possible only by pretty much using my full supply of emotional energy with no reserve.

Not gonna lie: it sucks.

But I want to participate on the level that's doable for me. So bring on the questions! And let me know if you're participating so I can ask you things too.
resonant: Brian from The Breakfast Club: Demented and sad, but social (Default)
Me: So I stay up way, way too late.
Kidlet: Uh-huh.
Me: So late. Trying so hard to make myself get up and go to bed.
Kidlet: Uh-huh.
Me: So today I open my laptop, and what I've typed into my Google search field is: "How is John Legend so handsome?"
Kidlet: That late, huh?
resonant: It feels so good. (So good)


Back when LiveJournal roamed the earth, I first started working on a nonfannish human/alien novella which was described by one beta as “strangely sweet” and by another as “strangely sexy.”

Well, Evernight Publishing today released “Exog,” and you can find it on Evernight’s site here. (Also debuting Peale McDaniel as my name when I’m an erotic romance writer.)

If you’re one of the people who believed in it back then, then thank you!
resonant: Brian from The Breakfast Club: Demented and sad, but social (Default)
Apparently nowadays when you find a dead bat in your living space, the public health authorities really want you to bring it in immediately for rabies testing, or refrigerate it until you can do so.

And if, instead, you flung it out on the lawn to decay ... well, the public health authorities want everyone who slept in that house to have a series of rabies shots. On account of bat bites being painless and leaving nearly no visible marks.

At least they don't do the shots in the belly any more. Three on the arms, four on the butt, and three more emergency room visits to come. I don't even like to think about how much this is going to cost.

So fridge that bat, friends. You'll be glad you did.
resonant: Brian from The Breakfast Club: Demented and sad, but social (Default)
This morning I was late for church because I had to remove a dead bat from the den of the Spousehouse before the kittencake had a chance to get at it.

(We knew there were bats in the attic -- in the belfry, as it were -- but we have no idea how this one came to be in the main house.)

And last week we actually turned the car around so the spouse could go back and rescue a turtle (ok, I guess strictly speaking a tortoise?) who was crossing the street on a narrow causeway where there was noplace for cars to avoid it. I was sitting in the car watching, and that turtle was literally running to avoid being caught. But the spouse caught it and put it in the grass near the river. Grass near the river is exactly what's on both sides of the street; I have no idea what the critter thought it was going to find on the other side.

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