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!
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.
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.... )
07 February 2016 @ 09:40 pm
I began Yuletide eagerly last fall, with my usual list of potential treats and (seemingly) time to write several of them. Life decided otherwise. I did get my assignment started; but, as my mother's health worsened, I eventually had to admit that there would never be time to finish it, and defaulted.

However, when my mother died a week before Christmas, there was suddenly time to write. Or perhaps that's more accurately time to distract myself with writing. After the holidays were over, though, Real Life had to take precedence. It is only in the last couple of weeks, therefore, that I have finally found time to make webpages for them.

Trumpet St Peter's Angels

My assignment, "Trumpet St Peter's Angels", is a Last Knight story. (Yes: my third in the same year. Chance is odd that way.) My recipient had only one request, for LK fix-it fic.

The result is a story that I can only recommend to those who are trufen. It depends for its effect on your devoted knowledge of Forever Knight (in general) and the finale (in particular). Essentially, it deconstructs the events that lead to the denouement, and "fixes" them as requested. As such, the story is not an overwritten, underplotted melodrama an action-packed tragedy. Rather, it is a character piece with touches of humour.

Basically, if the last line resonates, you'll probably like the story.

The title, of course, comes from Lacroix's speech in the loft. To match it, I picked a ripply, vaguely feathery, gold variant of a background that I got from GRSites, matched with a bronze and silver border around the story. Those who can't access my website can find the story on AO3 in the Yuletide collection, along with comments.

Long is the way and hard

The first treat I wrote was "Long is the way and hard" (on AO3, with comments). This is actually the third in a series of divergent AU stories based on Mary Renault's novel, The Charioteer.

a bit of background )
As it is part of a series, its webpage has the same design that I used on the earlier two stories.

Hobbiton Farm

The last treat, "Hobbiton Farm" (here on AO3, with comments), was written in a flash. Whereby hangs a tale.

Over the last decade or so, the BBC has made a series of series in which a group of historians and archaeologists re-enact life on a farm in an historical period: Victorian Farm, Edwardian Farm, Wartime Farm, and so on. One of [personal profile] halotolerant's requests was for a story based on this "Historical Farm series". What particularly caught my eye was the conclusion of the prompt:
“Feel free, also, to set a story in ‘AU History’ - if you want them to be farm workers in a pre-industrial setting, it doesn't have to be ‘literally historically accurate 1650’ or whatever, some counter-factual history or setting in a fantasy world like Westeros or Middle Earth or Pern could also be cool!”
A crack idea? Undoubtedly: but best done straight.

Because I'd had the idea early in the fall, back when people had been posting links to their Dear Author Letters, it had been germinating on some level for quite a while. So, when I sat down to write it on the afternoon of Christmas Eve, the words just poured out with hardly any revision required. I uploaded the story shortly before reveals.

For the webpage, I decided that "Hobbiton Farm" needed something subdued and very respectable looking. The rich tapestry-like background graphic comes from; and the border to the panel with the story combines stone and parchment textures. I also made the story a fancy title in a font that looked suitable, and added (at the end) a clip from a Wikimedia Commons photo of the New Zealand "Hobbiton" set.
31 December 2015 @ 05:51 am
I was thrilled to get two gifts for Yuletide this year. One of them is for Janet Kagan's Hellspark, a very rare fandom. The other is for The Charioteer.

"Five Years Later" is a delightful story that pops into the Hellspark world to catch us up on what's been going on. It's the sort of sequel that warms the cockles of a fannish heart! Practically everyone is in it, with their own cameo, as Tocohl and Maggy return to Lassti to revisit the Survey Team and find out how much progress has been made in the intervening years. The story is clearly written by someone who knows the book and the speech patterns of the characters—all the more important, given the significance of language in Kagan's worldbuilding.

There are so few Hellspark fics: it's lovely to have another one. :)

In "Unbreakable Ties", Laurie's mother has unexpectedly died in childbirth, and he has to return to the village to attend her funeral. Although he meets relatives and in-laws he had hoped to avoid forever, he is a couple of years more mature than in The Charioteer, and startled by new insight into their feelings.

My immediate reaction was that the (still anonymous) author must be someone aware that my mother just died. Belatedly, I realized that this need not be so, for it is not a new idea that Lucy might, at her age, be endangered by pregnancy. I'm sure anyone might have chosen such a topic. However, the timing seems significant; and, if it was written by a friend, then it was a most sensitive and kind gift, indeed, and much appreciated.

Thank-you, both of you, whoever you may be! I hope your own gifts were equally satisfying.
24 October 2015 @ 07:29 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!

And a bit about my requests.... )
25 September 2015 @ 02:24 am
It's that time of year again: Yuletide nominations are about to open. Is anyone else planning to nominate Forever Knight?

I hope so. With so many characters to pick from, but only four permitted per nominator, it would be good to have at least one other person (even two!), and coordinate our efforts so that we don't waste any slots through duplication.

As it is, I am bewildered which to pick. Nick must be nominated, obviously. Natalie? Lacroix? If I do all three, then I have only one more character I can list.

Some would say that it must be Janette. (Certainly, any Ravenette or Immortal Beloved would insist.) However, there is a good argument for including Schanke or Tracy: Nick is, after all, a detective. With only one slot, though ... which to choose?

Or should I drop either Natalie or Lacroix and put in both of Nick's partners?

(Certainly, I cannot nominate all six characters.)

And then there's Vachon—who has not been the focus of much recent fic, but certainly has his followers. As do Screed and Urs. The three captains. Grace, Divia, Fleur, and Miklos. (The list goes on.)

Perhaps I should go for Nick, Schanke, Screed, and ... Reese? Though whether anyone else would request a Yuletide fic from such nominations is another matter entirely.

If someone is thinking of maybe including Forever Knight in their slate of Yuletide nominations, please could we coordinate?
09 February 2015 @ 10:02 pm
Continuing with discussing the webpages for my Yuletide stories....

Oddly, the first one I wrote was not something that I had ever imagined writing. It was certainly inspired by the Yuletide tag set; but it never had a rightful recipient. In the end, in order that it might go in the main collection, I gave it to my sister. Well, she likes the books, though she'd never thought of asking for them. Another treat went to [personal profile] toujours_nigel in the same way. Very obliging people both of them: neither complained at getting the odd extra story.

I had known for about a year that Alan Garner had written a third volume in his Alderley Edge series; and last summer I finally succeeded in purchasing a copy. What with one thing and another (not least being a certain reluctance, for his style has radically altered over the years and I knew perfectly well the book would be very different from the first two), I had not got round to reading it until early October. At that point, I knew immediately that I had found the subject for my next paper for the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts. So I wrote a proposal and submitted it. In due course, it was accepted; and I'll be giving it next month.

Meanwhile, Yuletide nominations had proceeded in their usual fashion; and, for the first time (as far as I know), the "Weirdstone of Brisingamen series" was on the list. Both The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and The Moon of Gomrath have been favourites of mine for decades, and are eminently fanworthy. Nevertheless, as far as I know, no one has ever written for them. I was surprised, therefore, when I saw that the characters nominated were Cadellin Silverbrow, Grimnir, Nastrond, and Gowther Mossock. The wizard, certainly. But not the children, who are the protagonists? Nor Selina Place, who is the only villain common to both of the books? I could only assume that the nominator had in mind a very specific request: backstory for Cadellin and his brother in terms of the latter's turn to the dark side. (Where Gowther would come in such a story is a whole other question.) I duly put the fandom down as an offer; but I was careful to list only Cadellin and Gowther as characters.

Then I started to wonder what sort of story one would write that had the two of them in it. Read more... )
23 January 2015 @ 06:50 pm
Yes, yes: a bit late to be talking about my Yuletide stories, I know; however, there's been quite a bit going on in my tiny corner of fandom in the past few weeks. Despite this, I have finally managed to squeeze out time to put up webpages for the four stories that I wrote. In due course, one by one, I shall describe these in my usual (no doubt desperately boring) style. First, though, I'm going to ramble a bit about my assignment. Read more... )
27 December 2014 @ 03:31 am
This has been a curious Yuletide for me. First, I found myself writing a story without a recipient (though, in the end, I did find someone to gift it to), then I had an absurd amount of difficulty with my assignment (though I did finally manage to find the Missing Middle), and then—after successfully uploading one treat—I got hit by a tummy bug when I was working on a second. As a result, it was uploaded unpolished at 11:15 p.m. UTC on Christmas Eve, shortly before the deadline; and, when I then quickly spent an hour getting a bit more shine on it, I found when I had done that the recipient had already left a comment. (Eep.)

Leaving aside my embarrassing shortcomings....

I got three stories.

Two full length, and one in Madness. And all of them good'uns, too. May their authors be justly proud of themselves, for I am certainly delighted. Two of the stories, including my main gift, were written for Mary Renault's The Charioteer, and the third for Forever Knight.

It's clear from the upload dates that "The Thousandth Man" is my main gift. A lovely fat 6569 words, it needs all that to delve into the character of Hugh Treviss, a mere throwaway character in the book, here fleshed into a man with a new-fledged career in British India. Just when he thinks he's beginning to get the hang of the job, he is confounded when his old schoolfriend Ralph Lanyon turns up in Bombay. The author knows a hell of a lot about the country; and I have a suspicion who s/he is—though I shan't say so, of course. (Hey, I might be wrong.) The treatment of Treviss's reaction to Ralph's sudden reappearance in his life rings as true as the setting.

"Boy Blue" I'm discussing out of order, really, since full length stories ought to take precedence, and it's a mere 400 well-chosen words. However, it is not only another Charioteer story, it is also about Hugh Treviss. Well, I suppose when one takes pains to include an extremely minor character in the tag set, it is not unreasonable for a writer to conclude that one has an interest. This story is set much earlier, just after the appalling scandal that led to Ralph's expulsion. As he and Treviss were friends, it is not surprising that the latter took it badly. The result is short but sweet. (Though I doubt if their housemaster would agree.)

Last, but far from least, is "Chasing Prey", which, at 8392 words, is a monster of a treat (and was uploaded on Christmas Eve, having no doubt left its author sweating about deadlines). Many fans are terrified at the thought of being faced with a request for casefic; but clearly this is an author who knows how to handle the genre. "Chasing Prey" is long and plotty, just as I love it. There has been a series of disappearances in Toronto, ending with the discovery of the remains of one of the victims; Nick and his partner have caught the case: so far, so good. However, the autopsy makes it obvious that a vampire is to blame, which brings a whole new set of complications. Throughout, we get the feel we are seeing real policework, from chit-chat at the station between Nick and Schanke, through their examination of the crime scene, to interviews with witnesses and suspects. And, of course, there is a nicely exciting denouement.

All three stories are gratefully received and thoroughly recommended!
07 November 2014 @ 06:37 am
So here we are, a week after getting assignments; and have I started to write mine? No, I've been thoroughly sidetracked writing something else entirely.

I hasten to add that this is not because there's anything the matter with my match. If it's not the fandom I'd hoped for, that's only because I'd also offered a teeny tiny fandom-with-no-fic that I have always loved, which was also requested last year. At that time, I made the decision to focus on other treats first; and, when these turned out to be unexpectedly time-consuming, I never got back to it. Nor did I finish it as a New Year's Resolution. So I was delighted to find that the same person requested it again this year.

Still, that's a minor point. I still intend—fingers crossed—to write it as a treat this year. And, as for the fandom in which I did match, I was thinking of treating someone in it anyway; so matching simply means a longer story.

However, there is another book (which I shall not name) which is the latest/last in a series. I read it recently, and was immediately enthused with an idea for a paper, for which I wrote a proposal, which—if accepted—will be given at a conference next year. That, of course, has nothing to do with Yuletide. However, I was intrigued to see that the series turned up in the tagset; so I decided to include it among my offers.

I then found myself possessed of a plot bunny involving two of the characters in the tagset. (This might or might not have been suitable for a Yuletide story, of course, depending on the prompt.)

Then, as far as I can tell (and I've been through the summary closely), the fandom was never requested!

The plot bunny didn't care.

It simply kicked me with its long hind legs until I wrote it.

So ... there it is. A perfectly nice little story, of a shortish but adequate length.


Clearly, therefore, not anything to do with Yuletide. But try telling it that. It knows perfectly well that, if it hadn't been for the Yuletide tagset I'd never have come up with the plot, for which reason it is firmly convinced that it is a Yuletide treat.

Now, how do I explain to it that it's wrong?
22 October 2014 @ 12:45 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!

General Guidelines:

As far as general guidelines are concerned, I seem to say pretty much the same thing for every gift exchange. (Which makes sense, I guess.)

What I Like:
* Plot and/or character (both being the ideal, of course!)
* A sense of humour and being able to recognize the ridiculous when it pops up; also wit and wordplay, if the story calls for them. (Having said that, I totally leave it up to you whether you write a serious or comic story—or a serious story with comic interludes.)
* Stories that are true to canon (though I've certainly enjoyed some flat-out AUs)
* Background research, esp. for stories with an historical setting
* Rating: no higher than PG13, please.

What I Dislike:
* Poor spelling, bad grammar and punctuation, and blatant Americanisms uttered by British characters (unless they're aware of what they're doing, which is another matter entirely)
* Explicit sex, especially if long and detailed. No objection to hints, but I'm not into plumbing.

My Own Writing
If you want to have a look at some of my own stories, you can find them on my website.

And a bit about my requests.... )
25 September 2014 @ 06:46 am
Yuletide nominations are now open.

This year one is permitted to nominate three fandoms, and name up to four characters in each. Since my sister has now twice written me birthday presents in very dear, very rare fandoms (Time Team and Prehistoric Park), I decided not to request them this year. So that has made the fandom nominations fairly straightforward: I've decided on Forever Knight, Mary Renault's The Charioteer, and Janet Kagan's Hellspark. For the characters, though, things are still a bit up in the air.

Of the three fandoms, the one that's particularly frustrating me is Forever Knight. As far as I can tell (and I can't read the spreadsheet properly, so it's not possible for me to be sure), I think I'm the only person who has nominated it. However, I've not yet filled out my character slots. Who to pick? Nick's an obvious choice. However, does one then include LaCroix, Janette, and Natalie? I love casefic: should I nominate Schanke and Tracy, instead? Granted, for Yuletide (as opposed to [community profile] fkficfest), it makes sense to nominate only major characters. Still, four is just not enough!

The Mary Renault fans have, as in previous years, done a bit of organizing; and it looks as though three people will be nominating The Charioteer, allowing for all the main characters as well as a fair number from the supporting cast. If this turns out not to be true, then I will have to change my selection, for I promised Luzula that Laurie and Andrew would be nominated. As it stands, though, I've requested Straike, Aunt Olive, Hugh Treviss, and Mrs Timmings. (And yes, I do have ideas for prompts for all of them.)
Update: All the promised nominations have indeed been made!

Hellspark still has one open slot. I've nominated Tocohl, Maggy, and Buntec; but the other is up for grabs. I'll fill it before the nomination period is over; but, at the moment, I've posted it as open in case there's someone who plans to request it and has preferences. Hellspark is a very rare fandom indeed. So far, I've requested it twice in [profile] rarewomen as well as last year's Yuletide. Others also put in requests; and it was offered last year. However, I guess no one matched on it. At any rate, there are still no fics out there at all. So I've got my fingers crossed that this year someone will get Hellspark fic, whether it's me or not.
06 September 2014 @ 06:40 am
It's that time of year again. The brainstorming post is up at the Yuletide community; and people are starting to list things they're thinking of nominating.

Is anyone else planning to nominate Forever Knight? If so, I've started a thread so that we can coordinate. With so many characters to pick from, but only four permitted per nominator, it would be good to coordinate our efforts so that we don't waste any slots through duplication.
02 September 2014 @ 02:13 am
I've been back for a week now. You'd think, in that time, I could have posted something; but it's quite astonishing how the time fills up. Especially when I was so frantically busy just before I left that I got done almost none of the things I had planned to do. Including write the conference paper I was supposed to be going to England to give.

What did I do before I left? Far too much in the way of packing boxes, plus a story for [community profile] fkficfest. The final days—which I had thought would be filled with researching and writing the conference paper—were somehow conscripted by my mother, the contractor, and my doctor. (At least all the tests done for my latest physical turned out to be negative/normal, which is nice to know.)

While I was away, therefore, I did not rewrite the two FK stories I had thought I might revise. I did not write character interviews for the 10YO festivities on [community profile] maryrenaultfics. I did not write the Yuletide prompt that I started a treat for back last year, which very likely means that it will never turn up as a New Year's Resolution.

I did, on the other hand, get two wonderful stories as presents. )
31 December 2013 @ 06:39 pm
With the reveal tomorrow, I really feel I must get a post up about this year's Yuletide. I received one gift, "Liberty", a delightful story based on Mary Renault's The Charioteer. I asked for something a bit different; and the story focuses on Laurie's Aunt Olive, who is on one of her occasional trips to London—with activities unthought of back in the village. Lots of lovely period colour, and a brief glimpse of one of the major characters right at the end.

Renault did rather well this year. There were no fewer than nine Charioteer stories, though (as last year) some of them were crossovers. The most remarkable has to be "A brisk young sailor", a 40K novella that essays to fill a major lacuna in fan fiction: the period early in the war when Ralph commanded a small ship, sharing quarters with a most attractive (but indubitably straight) sub-lieutenant with whom he was half in love, but to whom he dared not reveal his feelings. The story's length means that the whole episode can be presented with sufficient detail to satisfy, as well as providing a thoroughly researched story about the naval war.

Although all the Charioteer stories are worth reading, the other one that I would especially mention is "First Do No Harm". Set a year after the events of the novel, it takes an unusual look at the future of two of the couples. Oh, there are those who do recognize the possibility that all may not be sweetness and light in the lives of Ralph and Laurie; but it is rare to posit the possibility of greater maturity and happiness for Alec and Sandy.

This year has also seen a bumper crop of Return to Night fic, no doubt because of the discussion earlier in the year. I think my favourite is "A Fortunate Woman", which takes Hilary into World War II, when she resumes her surgical career. (There's a fairly graphic description of an operation, for which I should probably warn the squeamish.)

Outside Renault, I would also particularly recommend the following:

"Pieces of the Whole" is a devastating Dragonriders of Pern story that looks at the first year or so after hatching from the perspective of the Weyrlingmaster. The author does not flinch from either the psychological problems of the new riders as they adjust to sharing their minds with another species, nor the high mortality rate implied by the large clutches of eggs reported in canon. A tough read in some ways, but well worth it.

"King and the Maiden" (one of my sister's gifts) is based on Rudyard Kipling's Stalky and Co., and remarkably like one of his own stories. As requested, a girl is added to the mix—most plausibly—and shenanigans ensue, to the distress of King, in particular.

"The Unknown Postulant" is a pleasant detective story based on Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael series. If the mystery is not precisely difficult to decipher, this is well compensated for by excellent characterization, and a charming partnership between Cadfael and Sister Magdalen from Godric's Ford.

"Prehistoric Park Series Two" is not precisely a story, per se. Rather, it is a summary of the plots of the second series of Prehistoric Park (a much lamented "mockumentary" that, alas, never canonically got beyond its first season). Appended to the description of each episode is a delightful series of highlight quotations. As with the original, there is a measure of continuity across the season, with an unexpected climax.

"Else the Puck a Liar Call" provides a thoroughly satisfying explanation for why, in Rudyard Kipling's Puck of Pook's Hill, the Oldest of Old Things should bother to reveal himself to two children and tell them stories. There is also a Dragon; but he has his part to play.
11 October 2013 @ 07:59 am
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!

General Guidelines:

As far as general guidelines are concerned, I seem to say pretty much the same thing for every gift exchange. (Which makes sense, I guess.)

What I Like:
* Plot and/or character (both being the ideal, of course!)
* A sense of humour and being able to recognize the ridiculous when it pops up; also wit and wordplay, if the story calls for them. (Having said that, I totally leave it up to you whether you write a serious or comic story—or a serious story with comic interludes.)
* Stories that are true to canon (though I've certainly enjoyed some flat-out AUs)

What I Dislike:
* Poor spelling, bad grammar and punctuation, and blatant Americanisms uttered by British characters (unless they're aware of what they're doing, which is another matter entirely)
* Explicit sex, especially if long and detailed. No objection to hints, but I'm not into plumbing.

My Own Writing
If you want to have a look at some of my own stories, you can find them on my website.

And a bit about my requests.... )
09 September 2013 @ 01:27 pm
This post is for coordinating Renaultverse nominations for Yuletide. The hope is to cover all the books that people are interested in requesting/offering without wasting slots by accidentally duplicating any of the characters.

(If anyone is curious, I'm putting it on my journal rather than [ profile] maryrenaultfics since it's a closed comm. I'd like it to be possible for people who are not members to be able to read and post.)
The List )
When I asked for Prehistoric Park last Yuletide (not to mention the Yuletide before), my hopes were not high. Although it's a marvellous series, the amount of fan fiction is slight—and basically on, with all that implies.

My birthday came, my birthday went. Last Friday, to be exact. I received, among other things, a bag of presents from my sister Flo (better known in these parts as [ profile] fawatson), who had left them with our mother when she came over here last Christmas. She did say in an e-mail that there was another present to come....

Well, I just received it! Officially, it is a New Year's Resolution (i.e., part of the small ancillary fanfic collection for stories written to Yuletide prompts during the following year). However, it is also my birthday present! I exult!

"Sea World" brings Prehistoric Park into the present, accounting nicely for the gap in time since the series was cancelled. Now under new management, having survived the recession (!), it is ready to expand its collection of prehistoric creatures with specimens from yet another era. This time, Nigel and his team go to the mid Jurassic in search of sea monsters. Meanwhile, back at the park, the head keeper, Bob, and the veterinarian, Suzanne, have to prepare for...who knows? (For as fans know, Nigel never brings back only what he set out to catch.)

For all that, when I first asked for Prehistoric Park two Yuletides ago, Flo had never heard of it, she has clearly done a lot of homework since. Not only does the story have a new Mesozoic menagerie, with all the adventures one could hope for, but the original cast is back for more, with all quirks intact.

Do check it out. It's a delightful sequel to the series.