01 July 2017 @ 04:39 pm
“Oh, boy! ‘Man and his World’, yeah!”

The other two looked at Schanke, wondering what he meant. The phrase “man and his world” had cropped up in their own conversation; but, as he’d been typing up the day’s report, his focus had been on the form in front of him. Whatever he thought he’d overheard, his enthusiasm was contextually incomprehensible.

“Man and his World!” he repeated, looking at them. “You know—the Expo ’67 site, only the next year.” He looked a bit glum. “We never did go to Expo ’67, would’ve been great. But we did go to Man and his World. Drove all the way … ROAD TRIP!!!” He grinned broadly, and pumped the air.
Read more... )
26 June 2017 @ 05:30 am
Let me thank you right up front for whatever you are going to write, be it fic or meta. Although you've seen the tags on my sign-up, I know that most people like more than that to go on. I hope this letter will prove helpful. All these fandoms are dear to my heart: I've listed them alphabetically.

DNW: explicit sex, on-screen death of canonical protagonists.

Likes & Dislikes:

I prefer gen. However, I'm not asking you to ignore canon relationships (i.e. in the background) if you want to work them in. (Not sure that's relevant here, though.) For original characters, any romance should be subordinate to plot. No more than PG13, please.

I'm okay with violence if necessary to the story; but not gore for the sake of gore.

I enjoy stories with a sense of humour: being able to recognize the ridiculous when it pops up; also wit and wordplay. (Having said that, I totally leave it up to you whether what you write is serious or comic. I like both.)


Choir School series - William Mayne
Characters: Charles Unwin Sutton, Dr Sunderland (Choir School), Mr Ardent (Choir School), Trevithic (Choir School)
I'd like you to write about some incident at the school, similar to the sort of thing that Mayne used to flesh out his books. Preferably seen from the point of view of one of the boys (since that's how he wrote), but not leaving out the adults, who are so much part of the series. Which boys to include is up to you: Trevithic is the only one nominated; but feel free to use any of the others Mayne mentioned, or an O.C.

DNW any rating higher than PG13.
Although each of the four choir school books has a plot, it's the incidents that really make up the story. Through them we get to know the characters; and, when I say "characters", I refer less to the protagonists (though Mayne does distinguish them) than I do to the many and varied people in the supporting cast, references to any of whom would be welcome, though I think I nominated the most obvious ones. Don't feel you need to work all of them into one short story. Still, the more the merrier.

Suggestions.... Well, the setting is a school (with the inevitable lessons in various academic subjects); but, more specifically, it is a choir school. Music lessons and practice, as well as cathedral services, are a major part of the boys' lives. As well, it's a boarding school: you might perhaps write of personal rivalries, interactions between boys and staff outside school hours, hobbies, or holidays.

As these are boys whose voices have not yet broken, the oldest Choristers cannot be more than 13 or 14 (and the youngest Probationer is only about 7 or 8); so please keep to a PG rating.

The Dalemark Quartet - Diana Wynne Jones:Characters: Tanaqui (Dalemark Quartet), Duck (Dalemark Quartet)
I'd love a story about one of Duck's alter egos, or Tanaqui's future as Cennoreth. (You don't need to put both in the story if you don't want to.)

DNW any rating higher than PG13.
There seem to be quite a few untold tales about the characters from The Spell-coats. I'd love a story about one of Duck's alter egos, or Tanaqui's future as Cennoreth.

Alternatively, there's so much we don't know about the Undying in the Dalemark Quartet. Where do they come from? How is Undyingness inherited? What are the differences, if any, between the status of the One, the other Undying who are actually worshipped (such as Libby Beer), and those who present more as folk heroes (such as Duck, in his various guises)? How do the "lesser" Undying relate to the older/stronger/? ones?

If you prefer to write about the Riverlands era: perhaps something about Tanaqui and Duck's family before the invasion, or the other villagers' perspective on their family.

Paddington Bear - Michael Bond
Characters: Paddington Bear
I'd like "another" Paddington story please, similar in subject and style to canon.

Aside from P. Bear himself, I'm not requesting any specific characters: not all would fit in the same story necessarily, anyway; so I'd prefer to leave that part of it open. However, I would like to see other familiar faces in the story, whether nominated or not.

DNW any rating higher than PG.
I met Paddington as an adult; but immediately realized that, if I'd known the books as a child, I would have been delighted. He's a real charmer—though the havoc he leaves in his wake would be the despair of anyone in real life. Still, young bears from Darkest Peru are hardly the stuff of real life; so one can simply strip away the decades and enjoy his antics for the entertainment.

The Witch's Brat - Rosemary Sutcliff
Characters: Lovel (The Witch's Brat)
I'd like a story set during the period when Lovel was still at the monastery, before he followed Rahere to London. I'm fond of gardens; so I'd appreciate it if you could work that in.

Aside from Lovel himself, I'm not requesting any specific characters: not all would fit in the same story necessarily, anyway; so I'd prefer to leave that part of it open. However, I would like to see other familiar faces in the story, whether nominated or not.

DNW any rating higher than PG.
06 May 2017 @ 03:23 am
Nominations for the Everywoman Exchange ([community profile] everywoman) are currently open. This is a fanfic and fanart exchange for works involving women; and, with the demise of the late lamented Rarewomen Exchange, could provide a substitute for anyone looking to write stories focusing particularly on female characters.

Yes, I know that [community profile] fkficfest is ongoing. However, Everywoman's due date is June 23 (i.e. a month later). If you think you won't be utterly written out by then, you might fancy signing up. The minimum length is only 500 words.

The current tag set is on AO3. Nominations continue until May 8th.
26 January 2017 @ 05:12 am
Let me thank you right up front for whatever you are going to write, be it fic or meta. Although you've seen the tags on my sign-up, I know that most people like more than that to go on. I hope this letter will prove helpful. All these fandoms are dear to my heart: I've listed them alphabetically.

DNW: explicit sex, on-screen death of canonical protagonists

Likes & Dislikes:

I prefer gen. However, I'm not asking you to ignore canon relationships (i.e. in the background) if you want to work them in. (Not sure that's relevant here, though.) For original characters, any romance should be subordinate to plot. No more than PG13, please.

I'm okay with violence if necessary to the story; but not gore for the sake of gore.

I enjoy stories with a sense of humour: being able to recognize the ridiculous when it pops up; also wit and wordplay. (Having said that, I totally leave it up to you whether what you write is serious or comic. I like both.)


Alderley Edge series a/k/a Tales of Alderley Series - Alan Garner:
Characters: Atlendor (Alderley Edge series), Cadellin Silverbrow (Alderley Edge series), Colin Whisterfield (Alderley Edge series), Fenodyree (Alderley Edge series), No Characters (Alderley Edge series), Original Character(s) (Alderley Edge series), Susan Whisterfield (Alderley Edge series)

Worldbuilding: elves (Alderley Edge series), Worldbuilding: dwarfs (Alderley Edge series), Worldbuilding: events after The Moon of Gomrath (Alderley Edge series), Worldbuilding: Old Magic (Alderley Edge series), Worldbuilding: the sleeping knights in Fundindelve (Alderley Edge series)

fan fiction
I'd love to know more about the culture and history of (either or both) the two main supernatural species in the series, elves and dwarfs. There are hints, especially in the first book when Fenodyree and Durathror talk together; but Garner goes frustratingly little into the background of his world.

Then, of course, there's the question of what exactly happens after the conclusion of The Moon of Gomrath. Although nominally a sequel, Boneland is so allusive as to provide the merest sketch, and leaves out most of the worldbuilding of the earlier two books. What happened from that perspective (regardless of how Colin dimly remembers it sans elves, dwarfs, and overt magic).

If you prefer to go back in time, I'd also be curious to know more about any of the following:
  • the first battle against evil that led to the knights being ensorcelled
  • the decision and means taken by the wizards to imprison the Old Magic
  • someone in the modern era encountering both Colin (as he is now) and the supernatural (in the style of the earlier books)
  • Susan's perspective on her disappearance and transformation

The Dalemark Quartet - Diana Wynne Jones:
Characters: No Characters (Dalemark Quartet), Original Character(s) (Dalemark Quartet), Tanaqui | Cennoreth (Dalemark Quartet), Duck (Dalemark Quartet)

Worldbuilding: Riverlands prehistoric era (Dalemark Quartet), Worldbuilding: the Undying (Dalemark Quartet)

fan fiction, meta
There's so much we don't know about the Undying in the Dalemark Quartet. Where do they come from? How is Undyingness inherited? What are the differences, if any, between the status of the One, the other Undying who are actually worshipped (such as Libby Beer), and those who present more as folk heroes (such as Duck, in his various guises)? DWJ gave us endnotes to The Spell-coats: it would be great to see a scholarly article, encyclopedia entry, school text (or what have you) about Dalemark religion/folklore.

Alternatively, there seem to be quite a few untold tales about the characters from The Spell-coats. I'd love a story about one of Duck's alter egos, or Tanaqui's future as Cennoreth.

Or how about a closer look at the Riverlands era? Why did the Haliglanders invade? What was life like for the other villagers pre-invasion? How did losing the River affect daily life (which it must have done in a major way)? This could be fanfic set in that era; but you could also tackle it from an archaeological perspective, either as meta or using original characters.

Forever Knight:
Characters: Nick Knight (Forever Knight), Natalie Lambert (Forever Knight), No Characters (Forever Knight)

Worldbuilding: vampire physiology

Fan fiction, meta.
Although the series often references Natalie's attempts to find an acceptable blood substitute for Nick, we don't actually see much of her research into his condition except in "The Fix". I'd love to see more of this—either a story about her research into some aspect of vampirism, or perhaps a look at her notes. Alternatively, maybe meta from a future when vampires are common knowledge, an article from the Encyclopedia Galactica or the like.

Possible topics: vision, fangs, immortality, rapid healing, the process of becoming a vampire, allergy to religious objects (or anything else that appeals).

Forever Knight:
Characters: Amanda Cohen (Forever Knight), Joe Reese (Forever Knight), Joe Stonetree (Forever Knight), Natalie Lambert (Forever Knight), Tracy Vetter (Forever Knight), Feliks Twist (Forever Knight), Javier Vachon (Forever Knight), Screed (Forever Knight)

Worldbuilding: backgrounds and backstory (Forever Knight), Worldbuilding: Vachon's crew (Forever Knight), Worldbuilding: Carouches (Forever Knight)

fan fiction
Given the focus on Nick as protagonist, secondary characters in FK tend to get short-changed. I'd like to know more about the background of the various human characters in the series: the families/careers of the police captains; Natalie's childhood and medical training; Tracy's family, decision to become a police officer, and time in uniform.

Alternatively, tell me more about Feliks Twist. A vampire who likes to garden (albeit under grow lights) sounds fascinating; but we only saw him once.

Although Season 3 did include a few flashbacks focusing on Vachon and his friends, there are centuries of their history that were never touched on. How did the "crew" get together? Why did they stick together—and why did they eventually break up shortly before "Black Buddha"? If you want, feel free to create new members of the group, or include characters who were mentioned in the Season 3 bible but never appeared on screen. If you prefer not to deal with the crew together, it's okay to focus only on the backstory of a specific member of the crew.

For Screed, in particular, I'd be interested in seeing more about carouches—how they differ from regular vampires and/or more about vampire prejudice towards them (and why).

Hellspark - Janet Kagan:
Characters: Geremy Kantyka (Hellspark), Maggy | Margaret Lord Lynn (Hellspark,) No Characters (Hellspark), Original Character(s) (Hellspark), Tinling Alfvaen (Hellspark), Tochohl Susumo (Hellspark), Buntec (Hellspark)

Worldbuilding: Worldbuilding: linguistics (Hellspark), Worldbuilding: planetary societies (Hellspark), Worldbuilding: sentient computers (Hellspark), Worldbuilding: Ste Veschke (Hellspark)

fan fiction
There are so few Hellspark stories that practically anything would be gratefully received. However, if a few prompts would be helpful:
  • Maggy is now the only legally sentient computer: what if someone challenged this, or simply found it impossible to believe? Is she mentoring Garbo? How is Geremy dealing with Garbo?
  • I'd be fascinated to see more of the planetary societies alluded to in the book, whether the homeworld of one of the survey team, a new world, or Hellspark itself.
  • The pin of high change is significant, whether symbolically or in actual power, in terms of Tocohl's maturity. What is Veschke's story?
  • More of Lassti? Bayd is now acting as the survey team's translator: does she run into any further problems dealing with the sprookjes' language? Or perhaps Tocohl (or some other Hellspark) has to cope with language-related complications elsewhere in the galaxy.

Sime~Gen - Jacqueline Lichtenberg & Jean Lorrah:
Characters: No Characters (Sime~Gen), Original Character(s) (Sime~Gen)

Worldbuilding: linguistics (Sime~Gen), Worldbuilding: pre-Channel era (Sime~Gen), Worldbuilding: Transition Era (Sime~Gen)

fan fiction, meta
What happened in the very earliest days as the Sime and Gen mutations spread? How did Sime and Gen Territories become separate? What was life like for the early Simes and Gens, long before the appearance of the channel mutation? I'm assuming, if you write fanfic, that you'll use original characters. On the other hand, from the perspective of people in later ages, this is history (if not archaeology): an excavation of ruins? School history, academic article, encyclopedia entry?

I'd also be interested in something on the evolution of Simelan and Genlan. Given the thousand-year history of the series (and comparing to the history of English over the same period!), neither would be comprehensible to anyone today. Do the Gens in Sime Territory speak the same language/dialect as those in Gen Territory; and, if not, what are the implications? Furthermore, given the spread of Gen and Sime Territories across the continent in the Dark Ages, one would expect the emergence of distinct languages in different parts of North America. How does this impact trade and diplomacy in the Householding and Tecton eras? Either meta or fanfic would suit me fine.
22 January 2017 @ 02:44 am
So ... Forever Knight is now in the tag set for the new [community profile] worldbuildingex gift exchange.

The characters nominated are Nick, Natalie, Cohen, Reese, and Vachon. Plus "No Characters" and "Original Character(s)", which are mandatory. Given that this is a worldbuilding exchange, the mod wants people to be able to request/offer/write things that don't necessarily involve the canon characters. Also in-world meta is a specific option; and that need not include any named characters at all. (Think futuristic encyclopedia articles on vampires, for instance.)

The worldbuilding nominations for FK are:

- backgrounds and backstory (Forever Knight)
- ethics (Forever Knight)
- Vachon's crew (Forever Knight)
- vampire physiology (Forever Knight)

If any FK fans out there are intrigued, nominations are open until 8 a.m. Tuesday UTC (which is midnight Monday in Pacific Time). So you can still add more characters and worldbuilding ideas if you want.

I hope someone out there is interested in signing up, since if no one else requests/offers FK, there won't have been any point in my nominating it.   :(
20 January 2017 @ 06:53 am
I've never done this before; but each year I see friends do it and think I should too, so....
  • "Heat in the Kitchen" (website, AO3)
    • Forever Knight, 744 words, 25 March
    Not written as a gift for anyone, just a seasonal idea that occurred to me. Posted first to FKFIC-L, which needs more love from all FK fans.

  • "A Letter from Abroad" (website, AO3)
    • The Charioteer, 1197 words, 14 May, written for [personal profile] fawatson in the Renault Exchange ([community profile] renaultx)

  • "Jean at the Witching Hour" (website, AO3)
    • Janet Sandison's Jean Robertson series, 13,886 words, 18 June, written for [personal profile] fawatson in [community profile] myoldfandom

  • "Festival of Festivals" (website, AO3)

  • "To , or Not to ," (website, AO3)
    • Oxford Comma Example Sentences, 176 words, 7 October, written for [personal profile] baniszew as a New Year's Resolution, i.e. a belated gift to a prompt from the 2015 Yuletide exchange.

  • "Star of the Waning Summer" (website, AO3)
    • Mary Renault's The Mask of Apollo, words, 724 words, 17 October, written for [personal profile] fawatson in the Trick or Treat Exchange ([community profile] trickortreatex)

  • "The Children of Closti the Clam" (website, AO3)
    • Diana Wynne Jones's Dalemark Quartet, 2446 words, 25 October, written for [personal profile] betony in Trick or Treat

  • "Command the Signs" (website, AO3)
    • Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising, 1528 words, 31 October, written for [personal profile] blueteak in Trick or Treat

  • "Back in the Saddle" (website, AO3)
    • Dick Francis's 10lb Penalty, 1865 words, 7 November, written for [personal profile] serenade in Trick or Treat

  • "A Correspondence between Gentlemen" (website, AO3)
    • The Charioteer, 3072 words, 2 December, written for [personal profile] elsa in Yuletide

  • "The Rape of the Book" (website, AO3)
    • Georgette Heyer's Venetia, 6350 words, 20 December, written for [personal profile] morganmuffle in Yuletide

  • "Whisper" (website, AO3)
    • Forever, 3510 words, 23 December, written for [personal profile] argylepiratewd in Yuletide

  • "The Father, the Son, and the Unholy Ghost" (website, AO3)
    • Forever Knight, 3561 words, 24 December, written for [personal profile] astolat in Yuletide

Thirteen stories. I've no idea what it all adds up to in terms of word count. What's clear is that, early in the year, I wrote relatively little compared to the fall/winter. Not surprising, I suppose. In both Trick or Treat and Yuletide I wrote treats in fandoms that are new to me (as far as writing is concerned, that is). Very enticing prompts!
19 January 2017 @ 08:14 pm
There's a new exchange that looks quite interesting, [community profile] worldbuildingex. The description says:
For the purposes of this exchange, "worldbuilding" will be defined as any exploration of how a fictional world works beyond the information presented in canon. This includes (but is not limited to) more detailed extrapolation of information presented in canon, filling in gaps in the canon backstory, attempts to reconcile apparent contradictions in canon information, exploring the perspectives on canon events of characters implied to exist but not considered within the canon, etc.

Please note that it is absolutely fine for the gift you create to be an action-adventure story/shippy fanart/etc. (provided your recipient hasn't expressed a desire for you to avoid such things), so long as there are also worldbuilding elements present in a significant way.
I'm thinking of nominating Forever Knight, and possibly also the Sime~Gen series and Hellspark, and maybe even some Diana Wynne Jones.

If any other FK fans want to participate, nominations close on Tuesday the 24th of January at 07:59 UTC. That's 8 a.m. British time, midnight Monday in Pacific time.

More character nominations would be handy, whether you plan to participate or not. :)
05 January 2017 @ 11:55 pm
This year, despite having extra time (since nominations/sign-ups started earlier), I still only got four stories written. My usual, in other words. I guess doing Trick or Treat for the first time is some sort of excuse. After all, I wrote four stories for that, too—but they did tend to be shorter, as one would expect. The truth is, in early December I came over to visit Flo for a long Christmas break, and I spent the first couple of weeks lounging around, watching TV and reading, getting over jetlag, and basically doing nothing about Yuletide except a bit of canon review.

Ah, well ... I clearly needed the time off.

My assignment, "A Correspondence between Gentlemen", was written for [personal profile] elsa, who wanted a Charioteer story about Laurie and Ralph. It took me a while to decide how to tackle this; and, in the end, I wrote epistolary fic (having got the okay through the Yulemods). The "gentlemen" of the correspondence are Mr Jepson and Mr Straike; and all Charioteer fans will appreciate the irony of applying that appellation to them. What starts as Jepson congratulating his old school friend on his recent engagement finishes up with revelations about Ralph's expulsion. Straike is not amused.

This was uploaded before I headed over to England; so the delays in getting back to writing only affected the treats. I had a little list....

Okay, like a lot of other people, each year I go through the requests and copy-paste intriguing prompts. I never do even as many as half of them. However, with all the extra time this year, I thought that I should be able to manage at least one or two more stories than usual. Certainly, I was determined to write a Forever story that I'd not had time to do last year, when so much of November and December had been taken up with caring for my mother (who had finally died a week before Christmas). I also wanted to write a Forever Knight treat, since I always do.

Of the other prompts on my list, I was less sure. However, I brought over to England my copy of Georgette Heyer's Venetia, being uncertain if Flo had a copy. (Just as well: she has several Heyers, but not that one.) I read it on the plane; arrived with it fresh in my mind; and ideas started to flow. It was therefore the first story I started: "The Rape of the Book", written for [personal profile] morganmuffle, who wanted a story about Venetia's younger brother Aubrey.

It seemed to take bloody ages to write. I mean, seriously, there was a point where I wondered if I'd even finish in time to write any other treats. First, I kept looking things up on line—Wikipedia, mostly; but also Google maps, and sites about Austen's Regency England. I spent several days investigating routes from York to Cambridge, and finding out the names of inns that are old enough to go back that far. That section of the story took about three days to write for fewer paragraphs! In the end, the story finished up about twice as long as I'd originally thought it would be.

As I'd failed to write the Forever story the previous year (and I'm terrible at doing NYRs, needing hard deadlines to get me to start writing), I had been really glad when [personal profile] argylepiratewd included the same prompt in this year's Dear Author Letter. So "Whisper" simply had to be written next: no way was I going to risk running out of time. The prompt was for a story in which Henry got ill, and had to cope like anyone else, since people knew how sick he was. For this, I had what seemed like the perfect plot. Back in the spring of 2015, I'd come down with a truly horrible cold that turned to laryngitis, bronchitis, and (according to the X-ray) pneumonia. None of which I wanted my mother to catch, of course, which had led to its own complications. Add a touch of humour, and voilà!

Fortunately, "Whisper" didn't need much in the way of research. (Or, to put it another way, I'd already done the research the hard way.) So, on the 23rd, I was free to tackle a third treat, "The Father, the Son, and the Unholy Ghost". For this, I did not have a definite recipient. In fact, I initially was quite uncertain what to write: I just knew that I always write FK for Yuletide, and had every intention of doing so again, if I could come up with something.

Now, I did have an idea that had been kicking around in my mind for a while: to write a story about LaCroix's daughter, Divia, who had been turned into a vampire back in Roman times and brought her own father across at the time of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. I think it's fair to say that she is far from my favourite guest star; however, I thought her motivation in that episode deserved a closer reading than it usually gets. She's his daughter and his master; and it seemed to me there was more to be said about this than had ever appeared in the script. However, Divia had not been nominated. Eventually, though, it occurred to me that all three of the other people requesting Forever Knight had asked for LaCroix; and recasting the story from his perspective might actually yield deeper insights.

I had then to decide which of the three potential recipients I'd give the story to. It proved very simple. One person DNWed character death: Divia dies in "Ashes to Ashes"; and I'd opened the story with the cremation of her body. A second person DNWed noncon and underage: Divia is only twelve and canonically tries to persuade LaCroix to commit incest. Fortunately, [personal profile] astolat seems to be fairly squick-free; so I gave it to her.

Each of the four stories got very nice comments from their recipients; and each has at least one comment from someone else, as well. Add the fact that the two gifts that I got were both wonderful, and I had a great Yuletide!
02 January 2017 @ 04:50 pm
This has been a very lazy Christmas. Apart from writing (and reading), I've mostly spent it watching television. And nibbling, of course—no doubt far more than I should. However, I have been feeling noticeably little stress, which in turn makes it clear that this past year, living with my mother's empty chair in the living room, so to speak (and literally, too), has actually been far harder than I'd realized.

Since my sister works long hours and has to commute, she commandeered her computer over the Christmas weekend, pointing out that I'd have it later in the week when she had to go back to work. She also grabbed it for much of the evening most days. As a result, I'm still working my way through the Yuletide collection.

I did, however, manage to read my own gifts on the day. As I went out to pinch-hit and neither of them is tagged as a treat, I don't know which of them is my official gift. However, it doesn't matter. Both are thoroughly enjoyable; and I heartily recommend them.

"Serial" was written for me by [personal profile] fabrisse. It is a deliciously plotty Forever Knight casefic in which Nick and Schanke must solve a series of murders in which the victims were exsanguinated. Immediately, one's mind flies to vampires; but the injuries suggest otherwise. The question therefore is who and why—and discovering the truth drags LaCroix and Janette into the investigation, each of whom has insights to contribute. The result is a story that could easily have been an actual episode of the show.

"Serial" is, I fear, ill-served by its Author's Note. I am sure Fabrisse merely wished to warn people who might be triggered by the suggestion of blood; but the wording suggests a degree of gore that is not actually in the story. Be not warned, in other words; or, at least, be not warned off.

My other story, "Universally Challenged", is a Yes, Minister fic written for me by [profile] machiavellijr. My prompt said, "I'd like something similar to the series, whether it's a tale of mutual political intrigue or just a scene in Hacker's office involving all three of them. I particularly love the repartee...." Well, that's exactly what I got. In "Universally Challenged", the newspapers have got hold of statistics indicating that British universities have been frivolling public money away on such things as cleaning the silver and stocking the wine cellar. The Minister comes up with a marvellous scheme to counter bad publicity by establishing a new Institute of Technology (in a marginal riding, of course). Sir Humphrey and his civil service peers are rather more concerned to save the status quo. Wit ensues, as it always does.

So .... going out to pinch hit can, as rumour has it, yield much reading pleasure! I have, in fact, been lucky in Yuletide. (Knock wood.) Though I don't always get a treat, I've always received well-written, thoroughly enjoyable gifts. This year has proved no exception.

As for the writing department, I managed to complete four stories. Eventually, I'll do webpages for them; and I'll say more then. All my recipients wrote nice comments; so ... a good Yuletide all round!
28 November 2016 @ 07:12 am
It's the most absurd thing to fret over but ... I'm a creature of habit, and I live alone and expect things to remain where they belong. Also, I have a tendency to get fond of things—even trivial things—and worry about them.

So I have a favourite dishtowel, i.e., the one I use most often. I always keep it hanging over the handle to the oven door. I don't often dry dishes with it. (I've a dishwasher, after all; or, if I wash a mug or spoon by hand, I just leave it in the rack.) However, I dry my hands on this dishtowel a lot; so, every week, it goes in the laundry.

It's of those terry-cloth ones, which I find are the most absorbent. White with orange stripes in a sort of loose plaid design. I've had it for quite a few years, and have to admit that it's got a bit on the shabby side. However, it's still quite serviceable: a bit thin, but no holes or ragged edges or the like.

For nearly two months, it's mysteriously been missing.

At the end of September, Flo came for a couple of weeks. Shortly before she left, she did laundry in preparation for packing. I went into the kitchen, couldn't see my dishtowel, and asked her if she'd washed it with the other things and put it away somewhere (thinking, of course, that it might have been put in the wrong place). However, she said no.

And I've not seen it since.

I've looked—God knows I've looked!—everywhere I can think of. Through the drawers in the kitchen, the cupboard under the sink, the shelves where cleaning supplies are stored ... and then round odd corners of the dining room, the living room (in case I'd used it to carry something hot) ... basically, everywhere that seemed likely and then those that seemed most unlikely.

I keep being reminded that I have still to find it because, each time I go in the kitchen, I immediately notice yet again that it isn't there. If I'm not in a rush, I'll at least try to find it. Okay, not daily at this point; but certainly I have another look round at least once or twice a week. It's got to be somewhere!

As my mother used to say, when I told her I couldn't find something, "It has to be in the house, Greer. It can't walk off on its own."

Let me tell you, when you're middle aged and live alone, the last thing you want is to have something mysteriously vanish with no memory of where you might have put it.
13 November 2016 @ 05:46 pm
Considering how early the call for Yuletide nominations (and then sign-ups) came this year, it is dispiriting to think how little I've done so far. I have my assignment, of course. But not started it yet. I've copy-pasted a Word doc of potential treats, some of which I definitely want to do, others of which are maybes. Not started any of them.

Up till now, my excuse was Trick or Treat. However, author reveals were almost a week ago; and I've still not started anything for Yuletide.

On the other hand, I dusted the apartment several days ago, vacuumed on Friday, cleaned bathrooms today....

When it comes to traditional stalling tactics, I may be right on course.
09 November 2016 @ 06:33 am
It looks as though the Americans have decided to elect President Trumpet—who'll be blatting away south of the border for the next four years, more's the pity.

Just watch out, any pretty little Republicans interning at the White House. When you're President, you can get away with things like that.
09 November 2016 @ 05:08 am
Besides my assignment, I wrote three treats. (Well, given the distinction made in this particular gift exchange, they were a mix of "treats" and "tricks".)

"The Children of Closti the Clam" was written for [personal profile] betony, who wanted a story based on Diana Wynne Jones's Dalemark Quartet.

Betony asked for something about the "fascinating internal mythology" of the series; and, among the suggestions, were "whatever becomes of Robin" and "dealing with the consequences of immortality". It is canon that only some of Tanaqui's family turn out to be Undying like their mother; so I wrote futurefic about the next few decades after The Spell-Coats, seen from Tanaqui's perspective as she slowly realizes that some of her siblings are aging while she is not.

I had already written one Dalemark story, though it was not purely in that fandom, being a Time Team fusion. I decided, therefore, to use a variant of that webpage design for "The Children of Closti the Clam". The background is a rather complicated basket weave in a muted tone; and the same graphic was used to make a decorative button. The panel for the story has a border that layers multiple textures in various shades of brown and beige.

"Command the Signs" was written for [personal profile] blueteak, who wanted Susan Cooper's Dark is Rising series.

I have always thought that Cooper could have done more with the incongruity of Will Stanton's position as an Old One who is eleven years old and the youngest of a large family, particularly when he is new come to his power. Blueteak's prompt began "I've always loved the way magic creeps into the ordinary in this series, or has lurked in it all along, i.e. the Christmas ornaments." It was, in fact, those Christmas ornaments that sparked the idea—what if Will's family got a good look at the Signs? They did see the first few, albeit only briefly; but, at that time, they were threaded on his belt. Later, though, they were linked together on a gold chain.

I spent quite a long time going through my collection of background tiles trying to find something that would pick up the main motif of the story, i.e. the Six Signs, which are shaped like crosses set in circles. I eventually found one among the graphics I collected from Ambographics Art: it is purple, picked out in gold, and twines these shapes together. The colour scheme is copied in the frame around the story; but, as the fancy background has a rather "flat" look, it was necessary to use graphics with a similar "flat" effect when putting it together.

I did not add any decorative buttons; but, as the story falls naturally into a main section and a coda, I needed some sort of divider. I therefore decided to make one with the Six Signs. Since they have to be capable of fitting on Will's belt, the crosses needed to be fairly slender, affording plenty of space for the leather to slide through. I have to say, the result isn't quite how I'd always envisaged them; but I don't see how else they'd look in practice, given the description in the story. Their order is more or less that described by Cooper in the scene where John Smith links them on the chain.

"Back in the Saddle" was written for [personal profile] serenade, who wanted a story based on Dick Francis's 10lb Penalty. This was distinctly the last story written, since it was not only finished after the collection opened but was uploaded just before author reveals a week later.

Although the prompt mentioned both "tricks" and "treats", Serenade's suggestions were more along spooky lines; so I wrote a sort of ghost story. It picks up both on the fact that Ben's father, once leader of his party (and hence prime minister), would be expected to call a general election to confirm his position; and on the injury that Ben receives at the end of the book, severe enough to prevent him continuing as an amateur jockey. "Back in the Saddle" sees him out of hospital, once again helping with his father's election campaign.

For the webpage, I picked yet another variant of a graphic that I've used several times before, this time in brown tones. For the frame, I also used brown, with touches of grey. I wanted something suggestive of old stables and riding; so the textures in the frame are mostly leather and stone. Then, rather than use a decorative button, I went trolling the net for clip-art of horses to top and tail the story.
08 November 2016 @ 01:54 am
The author reveals for the Trick or Treat Exchange came today, a week after the archive was opened. I thus know officially that it was my sister who wrote my gifts.

Well, I already knew that she'd been assigned to write for me. I could see from the sign-up that there was only one possible match; so, unless I went out immediately as a pinch hit (which didn't happen), then my author had to be Flo. On the other hand, I couldn't be certain that it was she who wrote my treat, though I suspected as much. In fact, she wrote four stories altogether, the others being for two of Rosemary Sutcliff's historical novels.

I was assigned to write for her. This was not so certain: there were other people offering the fandoms she had requested (as, indeed, there were other fandoms that I had offered). At least this absurdity won't happen again: she has suggested, quite sensibly, that in future we make sure that we request and offer different things. Of course, it may still be that we choose to write for one another—as she, for example, has twice written me New Year's Resolutions timed to coincide with my birthday (and doing double duty, of course, as birthday presents) in very rare fandoms that I had asked for more than once in Yuletide without receiving them. As, for that matter, I have written her fan fiction based on Janet Sandison's Jean Robertson series.

At any rate, the first ToT story that I completed was a ficlet for Flo, "Star of the Waning Summer". I based it on The Mask of Apollo, though I did actually have a choice of fandoms, for our interests overlap a lot. Given the theme, I selected a background of stylized masks for the webpage, tweaking the colour to a bronze shade. All the other graphics I used were already on my website, though not in this combination. The ones I selected not only coordinated with one another and the background but made a fine frame around the story, glittering with golden shades.

Once "Star of the Waning Summer" was complete, I went on to write three treats. All of these also have webpages, and have been uploaded.
04 November 2016 @ 08:41 pm
The Trick or Treat Exchange opened on Halloween. (Midday. It seems an odd time; but I suppose the mod wanted people to be able to read their stories on the holiday.) Author reveals aren't until Monday; but I've been feeling guilty not posting here about my gifts.

Yes, gifts. Two of them!

The dates make it clear which was my main present: "Rites of Passage", a Flashpoint story. For those unfamiliar with it, this is a Canadian/US cop show following a fictional SWAT team, the Strategic Response Unit, attached to the Toronto police. I got a really fine fat gift, nearly 5K in length (which would be a good size for Yuletide, and ToT is basically a ficlet exchange).

"Rites of Passage" is set some time after the end of the series; so a major pleasure is getting filled in on the characters' future. It is, as I asked, a Halloween story—starting with a series of petty seasonal calls, which afford a lot of humour, and then shifting to a much more serious case. Actually, the kidnapping of a young trick-or-treater is resolved fairly quickly, since this is more a character piece than an action story. However, there is a common theme of increased maturity (proven through various rites of passage) that ties the case to the cops' personal lives.

This gift is a real treat in so many ways, with many familiar faces (all in character) and shout-outs to a lot of events from canon.

"Rites of Passage" was posted well before the deadline; so for several days I could see that I had one gift waiting for me, and assumed that that was that. Then, unexpectedly at the last minute, someone wrote me a little treat, "Forte".

This is a Charioteer ficlet, focusing on Ralph. One quickly figures out that, sometime after the end of the book, he must have been posted to a ship that was subsequently sunk by the Germans. At any rate, he is in a prisoner-of-war camp. (Whoever wrote this did their homework: I knew naval prisoners were sent to Marlag, but had no idea that the merchant marine had a separate POW camp, abbreviated as Milag.)

Short, sweet, and spooky. Very suitable for Halloween.

(And yes: I wrote a story or so myself. However, that's another matter.)
04 October 2016 @ 11:08 pm
Dear Author, let me thank you right up front for the story you are going to write. Although you've seen the requests on my sign-up, I know that many people like a bit more to go on than just the prompt. If so, I hope this letter will prove helpful. All these fandoms are dear to my heart. Whatever you write, I'm sure I will love it!

Continue for details.... )
15 September 2016 @ 02:56 am
First, let me thank you for writing me a story in one of the fandoms we share. I'm excited about all of them. (They're listed in alphabetical order, so as not to play favourites.) I should also say up front that I'm easy on getting either a trick or a treat.


  • I love worldbuilding and character pieces—stories that explore more deeply—through backstory, or by elaborating the setting/history/culture or exploring people's motivations and personal interactions.

  • I prefer gen; but I'm not asking you to ignore canon relationships. However, I don't like anything more than PG-13: explicit sexual detail is definitely a DNW for me.

  • I love casefic; and, more generally, I like stories that are canon-compliant.

  • I'm okay with violence if necessary to the story; but not gore for the sake of gore. On the whole, I prefer not to have characters die in the story; but references to canonical deaths are okay.


The Charioteer - Mary Renault (any nominated characters)

I'd like a seasonal story for preference. Mind you, Halloween wasn't commonly celebrated in the south of England at the time this book is set. However, if you want to include Halloween, I'm sure you can contrive something plausible. Alternatively, "seasonal" can simply refer to the autumn; or you could write about Guy Fawkes Night (or the lack thereof, in war time).

Either tricks or treats could have a spooky element, such as ghosts, premonitions, bad dreams, or superstition; or, if you prefer something more realistic, there's the horror of an air raid.

Flashpoint (TV) (any nominated characters)

A Canadian cop show focusing on the Strategic Response Unit in Toronto, a (fictional) unit dealing with bomb threats, hostage-taking incidents, and the like.

Tricks might be case-related, or deal with PTSD. Treats might delve into Halloween in the squad room, or something with Ed or Wordy's kids.

Forever Knight (any nominated characters)

With vampires in the cast, this show is made for Halloween stories. However, you have centuries of history to play with, depending on the character(s) you write about, as well as Nick's current role as a detective on the Toronto force. If you want to play with treats rather than tricks, then there's Halloween in the squad room or at the Raven; or maybe something about Schanke and his young daughter.

Sime~Gen - Jacqueline Lichtenberg & Jean Lorrah (no characters were nominated)

Given the usual relationship between Simes and Gens (not to mention the tentacles that Simes have), there is an obvious horror element here that you might play with.

No characters were nominated: I'd like worldbuilding here, whether you write a trick or a treat. Any period in Sime~Gen history would be fine, from just after the time of the Ancients through to the Tecton; but I'd prefer that you not go into the space era.
08 September 2016 @ 05:32 pm
More sad news has been posted to FORKNI-L. Sandi Ross, who played Grace Balthazar in the first two seasons of Forever Knight, died on 31 August.

There is an "in memoriam" here, with a precis of her career.

While I never met Ms Ross (unlike McLisa, who responded on list), I certainly recall Grace. Though the character appeared in only a handful of episodes, she had immediate appeal to FK fans, who loved seeing her scenes with Natalie at the morgue. Grace appears in many works of fan fiction, and must certainly be one of Ms Ross's most beloved roles.
24 August 2016 @ 12:16 am
There was a FORKNI-L digest today for the first time in a while; and it brought sad news of the death of Arletta Asbury.

This is Cousin Tok's post:
I have received word, from a mutual friend on Second Life,
of Arletta's passing.

"Hello all. I am sad to say that Arletta Martian/laneybell Martian
passed away Monday, August 22, 2016 at 12:15pm SLT. She went into
the hospital a few weeks ago to fix a surgery that was botched some
time ago. Complications arose and her body could not compensate for it."

The last time I spoke to Arletta, she'd mentioned the botched surgery
to me and said they were going to fix things. I'd just been thinking
of her recently and wondering how things had gone. I guess I have my
answer now. Arletta was my friend, my co-conspirator in times of
War, and she introduced me to Second Life. I'll miss you, my
friend. It won't be the same without you.

I've spent the last few hours working on the wiki—not just updating it with Arletta's death, but reading all her stories and making articles for them (or filling out stubs). Here's the article we have on Arletta herself; and it links to the other pages.

When the mailing list was more active, Arletta was a regular correspondent; so her name was familiar even before I took part in any of the wars. Although she wrote several stories (most particularly in her Fourth Season elaboration of an early LK fic), I think it's fair to say that her biggest contribution was as leader of the Light Cousins, and an indefatigable war scribe, often in concert with Cousin Shelley. The pair of them were the co-leaders for War 13, which was the first one in which I took part—and a very successful war it was, indeed: a very good introduction for someone new to the game.

Later, when I started refurbishing old websites taken from the Wayback Machine, one of the first ones I tackled was Forever Light Cousins, their old faction site which had disappeared when the fan hosting it gafiated. A couple of people helped locate missing material; and everything was run past Arletta, as faction leader.

Although the mailing list is much quieter now than it has ever been, that doesn't mean that the good times are forgotten. She will be missed.
13 July 2016 @ 06:55 pm
For the [community profile] myoldfandom gift exchange, I wrote my sister "Jean at the Witching Hour", my third story based on Janet Sandison's series about a Scottish girl at the beginning of the twentieth century. It's a great favourite of Flo's, one that she requested more than once at Yuletide before she concluded that no one else would ever offer it.

This time, I thought I'd write about Doris, a tart with a heart of gold who appears prominently in the first book but recurs in later ones as well. However, when I reread the books (yet again!) in preparation, I found that the dates did not add up. Oh, the main portion of what I had planned still held up: i.e. her seduction when she was a fifteen-year-old scullery-maid at the Castle, leading to her father disowning her. However, in the fourth book it is strongly implied that her seducer is "Old Pillans", the villain of the series. As I scribbled down dates and did sums to work out people's ages, I realized that can't be true. I suppose it may be that readers are inferring something that the author didn't intend; but I suspect that it's more likely that Sandison was hit with belated inspiration, added the hint, and never really did her own sums.

So, in the end, I wrote Old Pillans' story.

This presents its own problems. Old Pillans is a pretty one-dimensional villain in the series—a boogey-man to young Jean in the first book, and an off-scene diabolus ex machina in the rest of the series. What little we are told of his past comes from brief snatches of Lochfoot history told to Jean by the elderly; and not only does the reader have to assemble the puzzle but also fill in a lot of missing pieces.

So I worked out how the history of the town seems to have gone during the last half of the nineteenth century, from its evolution as a farming community overlooked by the Duke's Castle to its growth as a commuter suburb of Glasgow with grungy tenements housing underpaid railway workers. In the latter era, Pillans is primarily known as the mysterious, loathsome owner of a secondhand/pawn shop, though he is actually the secret landlord of much of Lochfoot, with additional property in Glasgow. On the other hand, the scraps we know of his early days indicate that he was originally an incomer who worked as ploughman on a local farm, was the local milkman, and had a reputation as a seducer. "Jean at the Witching Hour" is, then, the story of how events turned Pillans-the-ploughman into The Loathsome Villain.

This is a long story: slightly longer than any I've written, in fact, barring the novel that I wrote for my first [community profile] fkficfest. I had Part One written by the upload deadline; and it could have ended there. However, rather than complete the story in sequels, I wrote two more chapters over the next week. Each chapter now has its own webpage, linked off a title page. However, as Flo was staying with me for a fortnight, I didn't manage to finish them until this week.

As with the previous two Jean stories, I selected a background to represent the setting: in this case, a stone wall suggestive of an old farmhouse. On the title page, I also inset a small panel with a grassy background and a picture of dairy cattle. This represents the most important business of Castleside Farm, where Pillans canonically worked when he came to Lochfoot and which he inherited in mysterious circumstances after the suicide of the owner's daughter.