brb, finals

Jun. 7th, 2010 02:06 pm
manifesta: (Default)

Not dead, just slogging through finals week and trying to nail down funding for Sirens Con. The downside of running a journal that's all about the meta is that when I don't have the mental energy to think, content tends to slow down. Parts 2 and 3 of the romance series are still forthcoming, and possibly some thoughts on books I've read recently. For now, links!

[personal profile] holyschist on Moonshine by Alaya Johnson, an intriguing 1920s urban fantasy with a feminist female protag.
[ profile] melissa_writing (Melissa Marr) on sex in YA books.
[personal profile] kaigou on the dynamics of fandom part 1. With colorful diagrams!
[ profile] kaz_mahoney  is hosting a summer writing camp. Sign-ups end tonight, so hurry!
[personal profile] wild_irises posting in [community profile] wiscon:  An Open Letter to People Who Didn't Feel Safe at WisCon 34.
[personal profile] megwrites on science fiction and ablism.

On the bright side, my experiment is DONE DONE DONE and I has coffee.
manifesta: (River)

I should really cease in promising which post will come next, because invariably that's the post I get stuck on, which then puts me off of writing any new content until I become unstuck.

I've been working on a proposal for Sirens Conference in between classes, salsa practice, and running pilot tests for experiment #1. 

"Inspired by the daring adventures of women characters and compelled by the brilliant works by women authors, Sirens is dedicated to women in fantasy literature. Our conference, part scholarly examination and part networking retreat, welcomes academics, authors, professionals, and readers—and encourages all attendees to provide their perspectives on fantasy books by women, female characters in fantasy works, the market for fantasy by and about women, and how to support women in fantasy literature."
The guests of honor this year are Holly Black, Marie Brennan, and Terri Windling. Anyone can propose a topic for a presentation and there are multiple mediums (papers, workshops, discussions, etc.) availiable. I think it's a great concept, but I wish it wasn't in Vail. 90 minutes from the nearest airport in Denver. At an expensive spa resort. I see the costs stacking up there, and while I recognize that the location was chosen specifically to create a private, welcoming atmosphere, it makes me question its accessibility for people who can't afford to drop several hundred dollars on a single con.


Recent book acquisitions include His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik, Carnal Innocence by Nora Roberts, Auralia's Choice by Jeffrey Overstreet, Elantris by Brandon Sanderson, and Vision in White by Nora Roberts. 3 fantasy, 2 romance. I've already finished Vision in White; while I found some of the characterization to be overdone and annoying, it was a charming story.

I reread Tamora Pierce's Protector of the Small quartet over Spring Break (Tamora Pierce has become my paragon of feminist high fantasy that I go running to, sometimes screaming, when the rest of the world seems to have gone utterly batshit) and it occurred to me how much more in-depth Pierce went/was allowed to go with Keladry in comparison to Alanna from her earlier books. Alanna certainly had her share of struggles, but because she was forced to pass as a boy, others treated her like a boy, and so she was not bombarded with others' judgments of her as incapable every day. Alanna's successes enabled her to believe in herself, because when she succeeded, others also saw her succeed; with Kel, when she succeeded, others saw her fail. Kel's successes weren't considered legitimate in the eyes of the men (and some women) who wanted her to fail, and so the rugged determination borne from success in Alanna's case actually had to come from somewhere deeper for Kel. While Alanna's story will probably always be my favorite of Tamora Pierce's, Keladry's contains a more nuanced look at gender relations, particularly at the emotional level, and illustrates Tamora Pierce's growth as a writer.
manifesta: (Coffee Shop)
I swear that post on the portrayal of women's strength and sexuality in paranormal romance and modern urban fantasy is forthcoming. I even have a decent chunk of it written. Unfortunately I have an exam and two papers due next week, and we're finalizing the script for the main experiment I'm working on. It's a design I've in been helping build from the ground up, so I'm super excited to see it go live by the end of March.

Salsa performance group also started last month. My partner and I have dreamed up some amazing moves for part of the choreography. This also means I hurt on a regular basis.

Black Widow's Walk is moving along. I adore the book but loathe writing middles. I'm pushing it forward out of sheer stubborness right now. I just finished a scene where some of the Spinners are busking on the street (stringed instruments + rain = bad) and in the next scene I return to the High Court, where one villian manipulates another villian. There will be deception involved, and someone is going to get Spun into oblivion.

This weekend I intend on studying, writing BWW, writing papers, studying, eating chocolate, seeing Valentine's Day, studying, making brownies, and celebrating a friend's birthday. Hopefully my next weekend will be more restful.

I recently reread Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith and Exiles: The Ruins of Ambrai by Melanie Rawn. I haven't reread Exiles in some years, so until recently I'd forgotten how utterly amazing it is. It's a complex, heartbreaking political fantasy that plays with gender roles. As always, I love love love Rawn's heroes and heroines.

Next quarter I'm going to host a giveaway contest for a book or two that I've read or reread recently that feature strong heroines. Why? Because I wish there were more books like Exiles and Skin Game and The Raven Prince, and I think the only way to change people's standards of what isn't acceptable characterization of women is to provide examples of what is.

Stay tuned.
manifesta: (Dangerous)
fiction theory has a lot of good stuff to say:

"It boiled down to me wanting to say that I think we as writers have an obligation to remember that when we write about things that they've actually happened and will happen to real people, and that our works may fall into the hands of someone unfortunate enough to have some experience, directly or indirectly, with them. But more than that, what people read shapes their attitudes and their attitudes shape their actions (or inactions) - and I think people who seek to make a profit should make sure that profit does not come at the cost of influencing bad attitudes and bad actions or harmful inactions on the part of our audiences. "
"Further, I don't like the implication that romance - being a female dominated field - is somehow the child of a lesser genre in the world of literature. I don't like the idea that when a man writes a romance under another genre, it's a sweeping literary classic. I do not like that men's reflections on women are given so much credibility but women's reflections on men and on themselves are devalued, relegated to genre ghettos. I do not like that somehow the women in male-written novels are seen as characters and symbols worthy of praise, but the women in women-written novels are Mary Sues. When women dare to express our desires and fantasies and dare not to stake our claim to sexuality, dare to reflect our side of the conversation when it comes sex, love, and relationships that it is automatically cheap, tawdry, infantile."

Some meandering thoughts.

I. One of the reasons why I can go on and on about the implications and ramifications that various types of romance novels present is because they're written by women for women and thus reflect women, even when written badly and have traditional gender roles strewn all over the place, more than books written by men. Romance novels are a series of conundrums that at once adhere to and defy social norms. Further, I think others' responses to them--that romances are "soft" or "guilty pleasures" or not nearly as "deep" or not "real books"--are even more telling. Why are romance novels disparaged so-- and what does the answer imply?

II. I'm attempting to pick a specific topic regarding romance novels for my big feminist theory paper. My current ideas are a toss up between analyzing (1) how a woman's strength is moderated by her sexuality in paranormal romance/modern UF and (2) how heterosexual privilege is perpetuated and justified through romance novels. I realize I've touched on the former periodically but never dissected it in-depth or outside the context of other issues; one of these days I'll drum up the energy to write out a case. In regardgs to the latter, I'm thinking the Lambda awards fail, the lack of non-hetero novels that are (a) shelved in the romance section, (b) are not erotica, and (c) are preferably written by non-hetero authors, as well as the mandatory HEA or happily-ever-after that defines the genre but often exists with the very narrow confines of engagement, marriage, and a baby (even when the last isn't logically feasible).

III. In writing academic papers like these, I've often found myself thinking, "Oh! Fiction-theory had something awesome to say about this!" but being unable to quote her because an online blog isn't considered a reputable source. Instead I must cite works that have been published and established as official "feminist theory" written by official "feminists." This is frustrating, because a large chunk of my education has come from the online realm. The majority of feminist experience has been from offline community work and Livejournal. 100% of what I've learning about publishing has been from five years of dedicated online research. There is so much more knowledge out there worth having that isn't taught, or is rarely taught, in the classroom.
manifesta: (Dangerous)

It is an unfortunate truth that I live in a wind tunnel. For some reason, Bellingham likes to show its worst side in the morning hours when I need to walk to class. The wind tunnel is a direct line from my apartment to campus. With little to no cover. My jeans are still hanging out to dry from the crazy wind and rain.

However, an hour after my last class, it became perfectly sunny out. I live in a city with a cheeky sense of humor.


Dry, warm, and armed with a caramel macchiato, I offer forth my analysis of The Raven Prince (with an introductory divergence into my reading habits).

I feel like I frequently purchase or choose to read books from specific subgenres (urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and historical romance in particular) in hopes of finding one that redeems the rest of the genre. Being a fantasy reader first and a romance reader second, urban fantasy and paranormal romance should be right up my alley. And in many ways, they are. Setting aside my dislike of repetitive tropes, I enjoy the fantasy aspects of most UF and PR. My main complaint tends to be the author's portrayal of women, using multiple boytoys or leather or guns to create the illusion of strength while still keeping them firmly tied down in the realm of acceptable femininity.  The most disturbing aspect of this is that the majority of these books are written by women for women.*

Historical romance is not only rife with strict gender roles and reduce women's worth to their sexuality, often times domestic violence is disguised as ecstacy, the laws of consent are bent until they're broken, and sexual assault is sugar-coated and justified. Given the fact that historically women are and have been oppressed by men and a system of male domination, I argue that it is inherent within any historical romance set prior to the 1970s that there will be rampant sexism.**

Which brings me back to every once in a while picking up another one of these types of books in hopes of finding something that isn't utterly appalling. I love history. To my chagrin, this is the first quarter that I've been able to take a history course since high school. And so it is a particularly awful quandry I've found myself in, wanting to immerse myself in a romance that takes place in a non-contemporary setting while also wanting the female characters to be written with respect.

There have been many women from history who we now describe as strong and empowered despite the times they lived in. These women persevered despite the oppression that surrounded them. Most didn't outright ignore their society's social norms but instead learned to adapt them. If they couldn't vote, they influenced their husbands'. If they could only wear skirts, they would wear trousers when in secret.  If they weren't allowed to fight in a war, hell, they disguised themselves as men and fought anyway.

It is because of this that I am convinced that historical romances can do better. I understand and respect the need for accuracy in historical romances, but accuracy is more than just correct fashions or dialogue--it is the little things, the details that differentiate a novel that depicts women in history as unknowing victims from a novel that illustrates women's strengths in the face of adversity.

Now. The Raven Prince

I picked it up on a whim over Christmas break and recently sat down to read it. It's a compelling, spicy tale of an impoverished widow who actively seeks a job (!!!) and becomes the resident Earl's secretary. Anna is snarky, inquisitive, and uncowed, even when dealing with Edward's temper. At one point, she questions the social construction of propriety:

"Had she ever met a prostitute? She thought not. such persons lived in a different world from poor country widows. A world that her community explicitly forbade from ever intersecting hers. She should do as John suggested and leave the poor woman. It was, after all, what everyone expected of her.

"John Coachman was offering his hand to help her up. Anna stared at the appendage. Had her life always been this constrained, her boundaries so narrow that at times it was like walking a tightrope? Was she nothing more than her position in society?

"No, she was not." (page 69)
Hoyt takes risks in writing The Raven Prince; Anna pushes more boundaries than I've ever seen in a historical. She toes the line between what is acceptable and what is not while still remaining, if somewhat precariously, on the side of societal respectability. She does not break so many rules that she becomes discredited as fringe or Other, but instead bends enough of them that she shines as a strong individual capable of asserting her opinion and taking care of herself.

This is what I mean when I say women in historical settings can and did adapt to their circumstances instead of merely conforming. This is what I mean when I say historical romances can do better.

There are flaws, of course. The constant reminder of how Anna is "feminine" and Edward "masculine" was overkill and unnecessary, explicit gender stereotyping. Edward himself was as decent a hero as I've seen, which the exception of an episode later in the book where he pinned her against a wall with his weight in a fit of rage. Believe it or not, this falls under the banner of domestic violence, and it is a prime example of how violence against women is frequently glorified as acceptable "because she deserved it" or passed off as sexual aggression in romance novels and our society at large. He didn't hurt her, but he damn well made sure she knew he could if he wanted to.

Additionally minor spoiler warning )

I also have a niggling feeling that Anna is only allowed to bend so many rules because she is a widow. I'd like to see a romance of a single, nonvirginal  single woman in a historical period that questions the structure of her society and then defies it. In many ways a single woman would have more to lose, and so I believe the risks taken would be greater and thus more compelling.

Overall The Raven Prince is my favorite historical romance that I've read by far, and I'm looking forward to the second book, The Leopard Prince.*** Hoyt did justice to Anna and wrote her as a strong, salient female character despite and within the confines of the era's social norms. 

*If history is any indication, romance novels tend to quite accurately reflect the reality of middle-class, heterosexual White women. Romances of the 50s-70s featured rape as the main form of initial intercourse between the hero and heroine; rape was used as a justification for the female character's sexual pleasure in a social climate where women were not supposed to want to have sex, let alone enjoy it. I would theorize that the sexualization of women in modern UF & PR is a reflection of an evolved but decidely insidious form of the same gender stereotypes from the 50s. Women are allowed to have sex and be sexual, but only if it takes place in the form of what men want; women are allowed to be strong, but only in ways men find acceptable. A woman is not allowed to stand strong on her own merit. This isn't to say, of course, that women shouldn't wear leather or pursue multiple sexual liasions--certainly. I am more concerned about the overall trend, and, no, I'm not convinced that the what-sells-is-replicated model is a good enough answer. I question why it sells.

**Not that there isn't sexism in contemporary romance, or any other genre for that matter. Our society was built on and perpetuates sexism, and until that system is revolutionized, even the most egalitarian novel will reflect that.

***The interspersion of the fairytale "The Raven Prince" was a charming detail, one I hope is repeated. 

manifesta: (Sailor Moon)
Justine Musk on Why You Need to Write Like a Bad Girl, Part 1 and Part 2.
"As girls we are taught that we do not belong to ourselves: our time, our sexuality, our ambition, must be channeled into fulfilling the needs of others while our own needs are dismissed as unimportant, trivial, ‘female’.

The need to write isn’t about the desire to find meaning in the world, but to make meaning. If you have it, you know it; it’s lived inside you from a young age and will never leave. It will continue to call and nag and eat away at your soul until you start to do something about it. To deny it, to allow others to deny it, is to kill off a part of your personhood."

As Veronica from Dangerous Beauty says, "A woman's greatest, and most hard-won asset... is an education."

I'm currently reading Califia's Daughters by Leigh Richards, a present-day post-apocalyptic  based on the Amazon women of Mexico/California from the 1500s. (Present-day California is rumored to be named after Queen Califia.) A plague has killed off most of the men, leaving women to take up what had once been men's roles.  It's not particularly fast-paced, but I sense that there's an epic plot twist coming that I'm hoping is worth the wait.

I recently won an ARC of Liz Maverick's Crimson & Steam, the first paranormal romance with steampunk elements that I've heard of. I'm hoping it arrives in the mail before I leave for home next weekend, otherwise I may not get to post a review until after it comes out later this month.

Also: I'm deeply saddened that The Hunger Games is not coming out in paperback until July 2010. That's nearly two years after it came out in hardback.

In psych news, Experiment #1 has been laid to rest. I turned in my final paper and gave a presentation on it last week (nothing was statistically significant, nada, nothing) and now all I have left for school is my final on Tuesday. Over break I'm going to be studying for the GRE, researching one of my pet theories for a possible experiment, reading books, and eating candy canes. And writing BWW... but let's not think about that right now.

Oh! And I forgot to mention: Congress was fabulous. I took class taught by Liz Lira, a 16-time national and 6-time world champion. One of my favorite of her performances is from the 2002 Mayan World Championships. No pictures yet, but hopefully soon.
manifesta: (Alex/Izzy)

My salsa friends and I made our monthly pilgrimmage down to Seattle last night to go salsa dancing. Sometime around 1AM on Capitol Hill while walking back to the cars, I spotted a pair of steampunks. One of them had a clock tattooed to the top of his hand with some kind of design trailing upward and under his sleeve. He wore a pair of small, black goggles on his forehead. She had larger, clear goggles, and her boots featured some kind of intricate lacing involving metal clips. Unfortunately, it was pouring rain, and so I didn't get to see the rest of their outfits. I haven't been jumping on the bandwagon with steampunk fic because... well... I don't like bandwagons. But the steampunk culture and lifestyle seems to have been gaining popularity around here, and I have to admit, I do love most of the clothes.

As someone who appreciates taking a more masculine style (the 'punk' in this example) with feminine elements, I adore the woman's outfit (see above picture). I have this thing for wearing really frilly or flowy dresses/skirts and combining them with badass boots. Had I known this back in high school, instead of those strappy sandal-heels, I would've worn leather boots with my floor-length gown to prom.

Also: THANK YOU Dreamwidth for upping the number of free-account avatars from 6 to 15! A few big reasons I decided to convert from LJ to DW is because of the diversity statement, the site's lack of ads, and the designers' committment to user-focused progress. Not to mention the detailed weekly updates.

I realize that my being on DW may make it more difficult for my LJ readers, but I do appreciate you taking the extra time and effort to read and comment! I loved LJ for a looong time, but it's been going downhill for quite a while, and I'm excited to see how DW will expand once it comes off beta. Thus, if anyone wants a DW invite code (even if it's just to create an account to cross-post from LJ to), I've got some.

EDIT: You totally don't have to be a regular commentor to ask for a code, either. Just leave your email in the comments!
manifesta: (Black Jeweled Queen)
So. I wake up at 6:30AM so that our group can meet at 7:30AM in the clinic. After arranging the room to our specifications, we went into the back where the hidden camera equipment is located... and discovered that no one had brought a DVD. No DVD, no tape of the room, no data, no experiment. We had less than 15 minutes before participants would be arriving. One of our group members booked it to the other side of campus, bought two DVDs, and got back in 14. We set up, we're awesome, we're waiting for participants to arrive... and waiting...

Turns out our experiment wasn't posted online. Which meant that no one could even sign-up let alone arrive.

After all the stress, one of our group members burst into tears and had to leave. The rest of us tried to pull it together and rescheduled the experiment, which is now online and hopefully being signed-up for. The graduate TA was very kind and didn't look at all pissed off that we had just wasted her time. She even tried to help us find DVDs when we realized we didn't have any. We're going to buy her coffee in thanks and apology.

In contrast to last week's racefail, I stumbled onto The Advantages of Being a White Writer on Justine Larbalestier's blog. Not only is the entry itself is good, the comments are either well moderated or the general community of her blog is thoughtful and articulate.

As someone who's sick of the bullshit, I really appreciated her beginning statement:
"I know that the title of this post is going to lead to some comments insisting that it’s not true that white writers have any advantages and that many white people are just as oppressed as people of colour. I don’t want to have that conversation. So I’m going to oppress the white people who make those comments by deleting them. I don’t do it with any malice. I do it because I want to have a conversation about white privilege in publishing. We can have the discussion about class privilege and regional privilege and other kinds of privilege some other time. Those other privileges are very real. But I don’t want this discussion to turn into some kind of oppression Olympics."
Go read it; it touches on some points regarding the intersection of race, white privilege, and publishing that I hadn't thought of. I only wish more blogs were moderated this way.

I also really liked Larbalestier's On Hating Female Characters entry:
"Yet still readers call Isabelle (of Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments trilogy) a “slut” and have crushes on Jace who’s much more slutty than Isabelle. What can we do to shift such sexist assumptions when they’re so deeply ingrained in so many of us? Because even when we write books that challenge such stereotypes, readers put them back into the text by reading Isabelle as a slut and Jace as Hotty McHott Hero."
And I think this comment said it well:
"Which is why no one has a problem with girls reading a book about a boy written by a girl (Harry Potter), but people think it’s cool and different if a boy reads a book about a girl written by a girl (Twilight). And why Nora Roberts is not the same household name as Stephen King."
manifesta: (Black Widow's Walk)
See title. I hope everyone had a wonderful Halloween and ate lots of chocolate (I had some pumpkin spice Hershey Kisses myself). I was with some friends who came from out of town for most of the day, then joined up with another group later that evening for general revelry and good times.

Still plugging along on BWW. Over the past two days I've begun compiling character bios, writing up a few paragraphs about the primary and secondary characters, as well as the two prominent Guilds. Yes, I'm doing this after having just passed the 1/3 mark. I don't typically write bios (I have a long list of characters and their basic characteristics so I can keep track of whose hair color is whose, but that's it) but right now it's helpful for fleshing out their motivations. Several characters have portrayed animosity toward each other for foggy reasons that I was able to finally figure out (at least in part) today.

When I first started writing BWW, it was like trying to write two books at once: the BWW-that-used-to-be (the first time I tried to write it at age 16, back then titled Discord) and the BWW-that-I-wanted-it-to-be. The book in its current incarnation is neither of those. I actually tossed out a lot of the worldbuilding and plot I had brainstormed throughout August in favor of my older stuff, albeit with a lot of editing, but more and more I've been able to incorporate the stuff I threw out into the Spinners' Guild history. Which is quite spiffy, in my opinion. I liked what I was trying to do, and though it didn't work for the book where it's at now, it does set the past up nicely to cause all sorts of trouble for the present.

My primary experiment goes live this week, and so I'm going to be getting up at 6:30AM every day for the next week to run labs at 8AM. Just the thought of getting up that early makes me wince.

To anyone participating in NaNoWriMo: How's that going for you?
manifesta: (Black Widow's Walk)
I'm 1/3 of the way done writing Black Widow's Walk! *dances* *snuggles book*

With the end of the last scene Deahnna realized something partly inaccurate, and in the current scene I switched to a POV I haven't written in before. She's a minor character, but an important one. I was also finally able to write in some nonheterosexual secondary characters that are adorable and make me squee with happiness. (It also helps that they're courtiers but not nearly so awful as the others.)

I'm not currently reading anything other than psych articles, though I did pick up Lynn Viehl's new Shadowlight in an attempt to keep it on the NYT list for a second week (which it did, and totally because of me). I also found Califa's Daughters by Leigh Richards a few weeks back in an indie store. It has the makings for a feminist fantasy, or in the very least a fantasy that plays with gender roles (ala Anne Bishop). 

It's been raining nonstop lately, which has been disheartening. I love autumn... but I love autumn more when it's sunny and chilly, not rainy and chilly. I just hope it doesn't pour on Halloween. I don't fancy walking down the street in a rather long dress (albeit with boots) and getting soaked.  (For those curious, I'm going as River from Serenity.)

The dress is actually longer than it should be for River's dress, but it's blue and layered like hers. As I was walking around in it the other day, I realized that it's an outfit Deahnna would approve of, if not wear.

I know. I'm weird.

Black Widow's Walk
30, 009 / 90,000
manifesta: (Rory/Logan)
# of shots of espresso in the past three days: Four.
# cups of tea: Four and a half.
# of experiments currently being worked on: Three.*
# of hours in the lab working with data: Numerous.

I had a huge midterm for stats/experimental design yesterday, among other things, which have had me running around trying to get everything ready. On the bright side, the exam wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.

Progress on BWW is touch-and-go. I think I've thrown the idea of writing every day out the window, and am settling for writing whenever possible. There are only so many sacrifices I can make before my schoolwork/physical self suffers for it. (I already managed to injure my left leg earlier this week at salsa while doing lifts with an inexperienced partner. Clearly, my sanity was lacking, because I never would have compensated so much for his lack of grip otherwise.**) 

On the bright side, in BWW Deahnna and Zephyr are no longer at a fete. Instead, they're in the library. As in, the library scene that I've been wanting to write for ages. I'm about 2k in and it's still got a little while to go.

I made double chocolate Andes mint brownies today. They're gooey and deliciously amazing.

*Coding the data for one, preparing to begin running labs for the second, and in the initial planning stages of the third.
**When coming down from the lift, I knew he wasn't holding on to me tightly enough and took the majority of my weight onto a single leg. Done multiple times, this can hurt.
manifesta: (Rory/Logan)

New pictures! This one featuring the cover of my new laptop and the German edition of Jacqueline Carey's amazing Kushiel's Dart. I'm still fighting with Dell to ressurect the old one-- it's been over three weeks, and I seem to be losing the battle to insanity (on their part, not mine).


Yes, the Germans decided to use the cover of Kushiel's Scion for Kushiel's Dart. I approve, because they spiffed it up a bit. I know you can't tell in the picture, but the border is intricate, and the spine features her rose. (Side note: Given that our hair is nearly identical, I would be Phedre for Halloween... if I wanted to sit still for several hours while someone drew a fake tattoo down my spine. And if people would even recognize who I was.)


Thank you, Jacqueline Carey!

On another note, Schneider wants to know: What's your writing process? And I swear I'm not linking just because I nagged him into to posting! ;)

Also: You know it's fall when you and the three people in line before you each order a tall pumpkin spice latte. In behalf of all coffee addicts, I'd like to apologize to Starbucks baristas everywhere for flooding your stands and coffee shops with pumpkin spice requests. I promise to continue ordering my iced caramel macchiato every once in a while, just so you can have something new to make that does not involve an orange vegetable.

manifesta: (Alex/Izzy)
First things first: I have a new laptop.

It's a mini Dell notebook and its an early Christmas gift from my parents to replace/substitute for my still broken one. In the past 2.5 weeks I've been on the phone with Dell customer service for over a dozen hours and have been told several times that my old laptop was "fixed," only for it to crash anywhere from hours to minutes later. I'm still in the process of fighting with customer service to get it fixed, but at least now I have a stable internet connection and access to word processing software.

Things have been speeding up in my life. I start running labs on stereotypes and prejudice this week, while also planning an experiment for a class. I went down to Seattle on Friday night to go salsa dancing with friends. This weekend I'm hoping to chill in town and catch up on the work I've been neglecting in favor of arguing with customer service.

Wednesday I'm going to resume working on BWW. Thankfully, I was able to retrieve all the files off my old laptop and transfer them to the new one. I now have multiple back-ups of everthing on my computer(s).

Oy. I feel like this has been a long time coming, this whole having-a-functioning-computer thing, but now I'm too tired and busy to enjoy it. I hope things calm down later this week.

More updates to come.
manifesta: (Black Widow's Walk)
After a variety of hold-ups, BWW is moving again. YAYAYAYAY. I've been feeling rather weary, so I've been trying to listen to my playlist for BWW more often, just to jazz myself up. I usually only listen to it (and always with earphones in for the illusion of surround sound) when writing Deahnna's scenes, which admittedly are probably a third to half of the novel. Most of it's neo-classical violin music (Vanessa Mae and Bond in particular), and many times what I'm listening to will impact what Deahnna's playing or someone's feeling at that given time. Today involved Bond's song Duel and an impromptu pizzicato (plucking of the strings with the fingers) bridge that morphed into a lullaby-waltz.

Also: I wanted to mention that I'm very, very saddened by the passing of Patrick Swayze. Coincidentally, not long before I found out about his death yesterday, someone asked me what my favorite movie was. I grew up watching the movie Dirty Dancing and it's a HUGE part of the reason I love dancing as much as I do. Yesterday I watched it again and rewound to each of the dance clips. I realize that Michael Jackson represented childhood for a lot of people, but Patrick Swayze represented mine. 

Still reading Palimpsest. I haven't had much time to myself that hasn't been dedicated to writing or sleeping since training began, but hopefully I'll finish it this weekend.

Black Widow's Walk
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manifesta: (Writer)

A while ago, SJMaas posted an entry with pictures of her desk. Since I'm ridiculously proud (probably more so than can be justified) of putting together mine, here's what's on it:


There's nothing on the walls at the moment because they were sprayed with mud and thus blue tape doesn't stick to them very well. I'm hoping to get a few tackboards for notes and a white board for novel plotting and/or psych experiment planning soon. I live pretty minimally and don't like a lot clutter, so my current set-up it really nice.


1-3 are usually carried around in my purse.

1. Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente. I usually keep a book or two around (though I have more on my bookcase).
2. Moleskine notebook containing various writerly ideas and a decent chunk of world-building for Black Widow's Walk.
3. The mandatory iPod. Complete with coconut gummy earphones. 
4. My beta fish, Magnolia. He's about a year and half old and named after a street in downtown Bellingham, WA.
5. Lavender and cedarwood oil and reeds. Its twin is in the living room and is currently spreading tendrils of vanilla-goodness everywhere. My goal is for our apartment to be the best-smelling place in the world.


6. Dell laptop where all the writing occurs. The wallpaper is a friend and I posing backstage before a salsa performance in June. (I'm the one with the sunglasses). I like it because my dance shoes are reflected in the mirror. Black Widow's Walk and its accompanying files (a tentative and vague scene list, the pitch, names, etc.) is contained in the folder by my shoulder.
7. Mandatory coffee cup. It was filled with 2% milk at the time, but usually it's tea.

Also: I've been contemplating the fact that since moving in, either my (totally awesome) roommate and/or her friends and/or my friends have randomly been wandering in and out of my room throughout the day. I've since considered hanging a tie on my doorknob when trying to write. Awkward connotations, but perhaps effective...?

Kidding. But still an amusing thought.
manifesta: (Alex/Izzy)
I'm all moved into my apartment! It's gorgeous, with a balcony looking over the street and large rooms. It took a while, but my cable was set up today, and I put together my desk yesterday with only minor injuries. Training starts tomorrow at 8:30AM.

I had hoped to write more tonight, but halfway through I realized the scene I had anticipated on writing next simply couldn't happen yet. The two leads don't trust each other enough, and it's going to take a little more time before they do. I shuffled some scenes around; hopefully this order will flow better.

I know I'm behind on commenting, but I will, soon! I hope your weeks have been wonderful.

Black Widow's Walk

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manifesta: (Writer)
I finished reading The Drowning City this morning while hunkered down against the rain. It's a refreshing new spin on the fantasy genre, one that I appreciate. I hadn't expected some aspects of the ending, and I definitely became attached to some of the characters, particularly Xinai. My only wish is that Adam had had a little more presence; for a bodyguard, he didn't do much bodyguarding.

I just finished writing two relatively head-hurting scenes in Black Widow's Walk. They're transitionary scenes, and so their main purpose (among others) was to get the story from point A to point B. Thus led to me pacing around my room trying to think up ways to make them more interesting to read and less boring to write. I finished chapter two and started chapter three in the head of a secondary character with malicious intentions. Oddly, her head's fun to be in. I'm not sure what that says about me. I also found a historical tidbit that fits in very nicely with what I imagined when I dreamt up a book based on the title Black Widow's Walk. (The title came first, the story came after.)

On Wednesday I'm going to be moving into my new apartment! College doesn't start back up again until later this month, but I'm returning early to attend a week and a half of training workshops related to survivor advocacy and violence prevention. It's a yearly thing to brush up on old knowledge, and I'll get to bond with the new team members.

My cable will hopefully be set up by Thursday night. Unfortunately, the summer's pretty much over, and it's going to get busy from here on out. I'll update as often as I can!

Black Widow's Walk

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