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: (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: (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)
So. Psych Major Syndrome by Alicia Thompson. I wanted to love it, I really did. Unfortunately, it took maybe three pages, tops, before I whipped out my moleskine and started jotting down notes on things that seemed--to my psych major brain--straight up whack.

1. Freud is not the figurehead for psychology. The two are not nearly as mutually exclusive as people seem to think they are, and I'm tired of the cliches. I realize Freud's easy prey, but c'mon. 

2. An intro psych class is not going to give its students free association tests. On the off chance that they do, they will not, under any circumstance, actually take that shit seriously.

3. The vast majority of individuals in intro psych casses will not go on to become psych majors. Further, no one, and I mean no one, as an undeclared freshman, will know what field of research they want to go into. NO ONE. They won't even be THINKING about it. Especially since most psych majors (y'know, the people who are actually declared) don't ever go into research, if they strive for a career in psychology at all.

4. Intro psych students do not conduct meta-analyses. Really. I promise. They just don't. Why? Because they don't freaking know how.

5. You do not even start to think about your senior thesis as a freshman. Truly. I'm not kidding here. I realize that the college is supposed to be a really prestigious school, but I'm still not buying it.

My biggest peeve with the book is that someone who hasn't finished a single course of psychology simply doesn't know enough to be making these kinds of decisions, and I find it ridiculous that she's expected to. As someone drowning in research and experimental design this quarter (I'm running my first round of labs this Friday! Woo!), I simply wasn't impressed. If the character was older, and had taken a couple of stats/research design classes (not a single general AP Stats course in high school) and several psych courses, I think the book would have been a lot stronger and believable.

That said, her boyfriend is abusive. I'm not sure if the author intended for him to be, but he most definitely was. What carried the book was my love of Nathan, who isn't abusive, and who also happens to be chill, calm, and insightful. If I wasn't a psych major, I'm sure I'd be more charmed with the book, if only because of him.

On another note, I won a contest on Jacqueline Carey's facebook last week. Today I checked my mailbox and lo! I found a German edition of Kushiel's Dart, gorgeous, thick, and signed by Carey herself. It's huge--over 900 pages. I think the American version is only around 600. 

Last week was also my university's annual club fair, and I was out and dancing for Ritmo Latino, our salsa club. Several people came and took pictures of us. One guy was even kind enough to hand me a CD filled with professional-quality photos.

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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