Mar. 16th, 2016 10:32 pm
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On Monday I saw a pair of Hooded Orioles nesting in the palm in our front yard. We have orioles every year, though I have no way of knowing whether it's the same pair. There are many signs of nesting hereabouts: a pair of crows collecting twigs in our back yard, a mockingbird singing in the bottle brush tree, Mourning Doves cooing, hummingbirds quarreling (they are very territorial, especially the males).

The Hooded Orioles are my favorites, though. The male is a brilliant yellow-orange with black wings, tail, and mask. Very striking indeed! The female is a more sober pale yellow and gray, but also very pretty.

And yes, I know I other parts of the country it's still winter. We have barely had a winter in California this year; we've a reasonable amount of precipitation, for a change, but it's been extremely warm. Today our family had bread, salad, cold cuts for dinner (one of our standard summer meals) because I was too hot and sweaty to feel like cooking.
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I haven't been writing very much lately; just haven't felt like it. But I've been doing a lot of reading and I have a few things to say about some of what I've been reading. I've broken it into two posts. This post is about some very troubling criminal justice issues.

CW: Rape, rape culture, abuse of police authority. (But also: competent, dedicated police officers doing their jobs.)

More under the cut. )
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Here is a picture of a Pharaoh Cuttlefish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. If you look closely, you may be able to discern some eggs hanging from the underside of the rock above the cuttlefish. (Look just above the cuttlefish's eye; the eggs are whitish, translucent, and hang point-downward.)

The new year started off well, with a party, a friend's wedding, and a fun trip to Monterey. Filia and her friends were allowed to stay up until midnight. They toasted the new year and jumped on bubble wrap to celebrate. But by Sunday evening I was developing the cold, and so it's been hard to get going on some of my resolutions for the new year. I've got a lot of "to-do" to catch up with, and right now I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed by it. I hope the new year will seem a little more exciting in a few days.


Dec. 31st, 2015 06:48 pm
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I meant to post this earlier, but I've been a little draggy for the last week. However, I got my Costis fic, and it's a ton of fun! You should go read it, although if you haven't read the series it may not make a whole lot of sense.

The Most Convenient Natural Disaster (5320 words) by Prinzenhasserin
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: The Queen's Thief - Megan Whalen Turner
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Attolia/Eugenides (Queen's Thief)
Characters: Costis (Queen's Thief), Eugenides (Queen's Thief), Aristogiton, Attolia (Queen's Thief), Aulus, Legarus the Awesomely Beautiful, Heiro
Additional Tags: Pirates, Canon Compliant, Yuletide, Action/Adventure, Costis-centric, Mythology - Freeform

or 'Ships at a Distance'

"Costis," his King said, "I have never asked, but... How do you feel about boats?"
Between Attolia getting the King it deserves, and Sounis getting the King it needs; there is time for Eugenides to roam the sea. Costis, haunted by Mede and strange voices, regrets everything.

As for my own story, see the link below, but if you haven't read I Capture the Castle or seen the movie, there are major spoilers for the book in it, so I have left out some of the headers just in case you are spoiler averse. Also, if you haven't read I Capture the Castle, what is wrong with you? Go read it now. If you've seen the movie and not read the book, don't let the movie put you off.

Treed (2857 words) by Transposable_Element
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: I Capture the Castle - Dodie Smith
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply

Happy New Year to all!
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Filia's Christmas Cactus bloomed right on time!

I Survived

Dec. 19th, 2015 01:31 pm
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 ...a slumber party for six 8-10-year-olds, including two sets of twins. Filia's annual birthday/pizza/Minecraft/pancake breakfast sleepover party!


Unlike two years ago nobody threw up, and unlike last year nobody woke up in the middle of the night and decided to walk home (half a block).

Behavior was mostly acceptable, but I did finally lose my temper at one of the half-a-block-away twins as I was trying to get her packed up and out the door an hour after the party was supposed to end. She claimed to be unable to fold the air mattress that she had brought with her and sat there on the couch regally reading a Garfield book while I wrestled with the mattress. When I was finished, we had the following conversation:

Me: I really don't understand why you're behaving this way. [Repeat several times until she looks up from her book.]
Her: What way?
Me: Well, you expect me to do everything for you. You don't offer to help. You never say please or thank you. And you ignore me except when you want something.
Her: Oh. Well I'm reading right now.
Me: Pack up the rest of your things and go home now.

I managed not to raise my voice. Honestly, I've been wondering whether to say something to her parents for a while now. This child's sister isn't quite as bad, but they are both very demanding and ungrateful, as well as incredibly whiny and prone to bursting into tears when they don't get their way (earlier she had pitched a fit over the proper way to distribute the pinata spoils). Filia's behavior isn't perfect, but she is better about please and thank you, she rarely whines, and she is generally good-natured. She's more than a year older, but even at their age she was a lot less selfish and rude. The other set of twins, who are about the same age as the neighbor twins, behaved beautifully and were very polite.

Interesting statistics:

Among the six girls, there were a total of three birthdays. The only other singleton besides Filia has the same birthday but is a year younger.

There were also a total of three first initials: three R, two M, one A.

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Filia: One of my books is missing! Call the authorities!
Me: What authorities?


Me: Why are you tying my hair in knots?
Filia: I'm not tying your hair in knots. I'm tying your hair in knots around a kitten. [note: stuffed kitten]
Me: What?
Filia: Mean mommy. Won't even let a kitten dangle in her hair.
Me: Filia, get this kitten out of my hair...
Filia: It wants to bungie jump.
Me: What?
[kitten is detached]
Me: Uh oh, the cord broke.
Filia: Yeah, but I caught it in time.


Filia, upon discovering that I had put some of her artworks away in the garage: But those are some of my finest pieces!


Filia: I have a severe and deeply ingrained case of insomnia.
Filia's piano teacher: She has quite a way with words!


Filia: Moooom? [light turns on in hallway; sound of footsteps]
Maritus [sotto voce] Damn...
Me [pause]: Sweetie, go back to bed.
Filia: What's going on?
Me: Um, nothing sweetie. Don't come in here. Just go back to sleep.
Filia: But what's going on? Why were you making so much noise? You woke me up.
Me: Nothing's wrong, sweetie. We were just... having fun.
Filia: But what were you doing?
Me: Let's discuss it in the morning. I'm sorry we woke you up.
Maritus: Go to bed, Filia. And turn off the light....
Filia: Well...okay. [footsteps, hall light goes off]
Maritus: Whew!

found haiku

Dec. 9th, 2015 12:33 pm
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This morning my sister made a post on Facebook. A friend of hers commented "that's almost a haiku," so I removed six words and a punctuation mark to make it into one:

Six at the bus stop
Staring into their phones.
I make it seven.

I like it because it fulfills more of the haiku tradition than just the 5/7/5 syllable pattern: it captures a brief moment, and it has a nice pause/twist/change of mood between the second and third lines.To be really traditional it would have to refer to nature or the seasons, but you can't have everything. I suppose you could take the whole thing as a reference to flock or herd behavior.

It's also self-referential, if you assume that she was posting it right at that moment.
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Maritus took this about a week ago when we were returning from
bird-watching. The duck in the foreground is most likely a Northern
Shoveler, but there were also lots of Ruddy Ducks on the lake that day.
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 Filia is learning to play the recorder. She is practicing doggedly, which is good (she has a distressing tendency to give up too quickly when things get difficult). Still, the squeaks and squwaks are getting to me.
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Mostly just thinking "aloud." Originally I rot-13ed the rest of this message so as not to inadvertently give anything away to any of my many fans, but then I realized it was kinder to put most of it under a cut. So only the first little spoiler is in rot-13. :-)  Decrypt at rot13.com
V tbg n erdhrfg sbe n svp nobhg V Pncgher gur Pnfgyr, fb vs lbh unira'g ernq vg (be frra gur zbivr) naq jvfu sbe ab fcbvyref, tb ab shegure!
Read more... )
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Welp. This should be interesting....

I did say "any character," but I have to admit this wasn't what I was expecting!

*girds loins*


Oct. 27th, 2015 09:34 am
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Second degree burn on my wrist (dominant hand, of course) due to coffee-making accident. Ow!
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My practice talk for my thesis presentation was today, and it went well! Last night I was fretting over it, and now I am feeling miles better. Serious relief.

My advisor wants me to delete a few slides and rearrange a few more, but she was very happy with it overall and said the delivery was fine. And once I got going I felt very comfortable: oh yeah, I know this stuff really well, I wrote a whole thesis about it, I could talk about it all day! The "defense" is on November 2, so I have plenty of time to revise my presentation.

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I rarely (okay, never) post about politics, but I find this so fascinating that I have to mention it.

Currently the U.S. House of Representatives, where there is a clear Republican majority, is having trouble electing a new Speaker. (For those not familiar with our crazy system, the Speaker is essentially the head of the party within the House, sets the legislative agenda, and is next in line for the presidency after the Vice President.) Because of in-fighting within the party, Paul Ryan, who is already horrifyingly right wing, is struggling to obtain the support of the loony fringe of his own party.

It looks almost exactly like what happens in a parliamentary system when no party has a clear majority and the party with the most seats goes courting tiny extremist parties in order to be able to form a government.

I happen to think that the parliamentary system is overall superior to the system that we have in the U.S.; but now we've managed to incorporate one of the most serious drawbacks of the parliamentary system as well!!!!

And, as a friend pointed out, this illustrates that we don't actually have a two-party system in the U.S.; we have a multiparty system in which certain minor parties are semi-permanently attached to one of the two major parties, but not so firmly attached that they can't throw a major monkey wrench into the workings of the government if they care to. And the "Freedom Caucus" is overtly anti-government, so they are overjoyed by the opportunity to bring things to a halt if they can manage it.

Meanwhile, Ryan has a list of demands that must be met if he's to agree to run for Speaker. The whole thing looks more and more like a hostage negotiation.
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This evening Maritus and I discussed which words to use to describe our daughter's behavior. I suggested "contrary," he countered with "pedantic and willfully obtuse," and in the end we settled on "smart-alecky."

She takes after her dad.
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Well, I finally made a couple of long-overdue medical appointments (primary care physician, endocrinologist) for myself. Yay?

Still todo: schedule dilated eye exam, optometric exam, mammogram. Oy.
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First, thank you! I'm looking forward to this so much, and I hope you'll have fun writing.

As for what I like and don't like, mostly the answer is "it depends." There are very few things I would say a flat-out no to: graphic torture; prolonged graphic violence; incest; rape. But even these, if necessary for the story, character, or setting, might be okay. So some of the prompts include exceptions (e.g. to allow canon-typical levels of violence). What I really don't like to see is violence and cruelty normalized or justified. My attitude about explicit sex depends on the fandom, as noted in the prompts. In general, I prefer sex not to be the raison d'être of a story.  

Things I especially like:
  • backstory, for both characters and setting
  • underdogs
  • outsider perspectives
  • characters being in character
  • appealing but flawed protagonists
  • a setting that feels rich and real
  • unexpected or incongruous friendships
  • romance that goes against gender and/or sex stereotypes
  • actually, anything that goes against gender and/or sex stereotypes
  • non-sentimentalized parent-child relationships
  • people working through difficult problems together
  • respect for the original source (which can include being critical)
  • slice of life stories
  • endings with a sense of forward motion
  • good grammar and spelling
  • things I wouldn't think of myself (like what? I don't know!)
Most of all, I hope you write a story that you like and feel excited about.

As for me, I'm a middle-aged woman who likes to read children's fiction; I'm a scientist who likes to read about magic; I'm a physically inactive person who likes to read about adventures and derring-do. My interests are broad and the polite description of my education would be "eclectic." I started off writing Narnia fic, and that's still the setting for the bulk of my fics, but I am trying to branch out! All of my published fics are here. If you want a general idea of the kind of thing I write, I suggest The Little Sea (Narnia), Giddy (Swallows and Amazons) and/or Pensing (Green Sky).

Notes on specific prompts

I have written a lot more on some of the prompts than others. That is not because I am more interested in receiving a story based on those prompts! It's mainly just the difference between a) a standalone novel vs. a series, and b) newly published work vs. a work that's been around a while. 

Green Sky )

Queen's Thief )

Melendy Quartet )

The Lie Tree )

Cuckoo Song )
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I had no idea there were ever beavers here. And now, some people want to
bring them back!

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