A wednesday

Aug. 23rd, 2017 09:55 pm
archangelbeth: Bleary-eyed young woman peers up, pillow obscuring the lower half of her face. Text reads: SO not a morning person. (So Not A Morning Person)
[personal profile] archangelbeth
Kid had a dental-cleaning appointment. We worked on pronouns with the dentist. Whee?

Plotting to get a Final Crown (or at least a 20-year one) for the shorter tooth. The longer one has a better situation with the resin and can probably be left until x-rays show deterioration of the tooth underneath.

Still need to deal with wisdom teeth sometime, but that will take sedation, which is ugh.

Havva Quote
When we first moved to a suburb of Minneapolis back in the 90s, my teen daughter came home from school with a joke:
   Q: What does the Edina housewife make for dinner? A: Reservations.
To which I cried, "Yeesss! We've come to the right place!" She was quite taken aback, protesting, "Mom...!"
--Bujold, at https://www.reddit.com/r/Fantasy/comments/6rciwd/hi_there_i_am_novelist_lois_mcmaster_bujold_ama/dl4e9vq/

INwatch+Bookwatch )

Dragons under fold )

Final Days in Helsinki after Worldcon

Aug. 23rd, 2017 04:11 pm
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Posted by Jeffrey A. Carver

This will be told mainly in pictures. We took a ferry across the Baltic to Tallinn, in Estonia, on Monday and walked around the old medieval town there. That was fun, though I got awfully tired of walking on cobblestone.

Tuesday we mostly crashed, but then rode around the city on the tram and checked out the market square and a nearby brew pub—very nice. There are a lot of small breweries in Helsinki, as it turns out. The American-style IPA has made definite inroads. Chatted a bit with the brewmaster of this pub, who turns out to be a lover of hard SF and space opera.

Wednesday we visited Church of the Rock—a church partially carved into solid bedrock. They seemed to have an ongoing service (they were speaking German when we were there), while catering to a steady flow of tourists. Then on to the Ateneum, a big art museum in the city center. Allysen went on to a modern art museum, while Jayce and I took a city ferry to the island fortress Suomenlinna, and spent several hours walking around. Among other things, Suomenlinna has a church that doubles as a lighthouse, a restored Finnish submarine from WW2, various fortifications and cannons, and a tomb that looks as though it marks the grave of a man from Numenor. All the roads and paths were cobblestone. I have developed an extreme dislike of walking on cobblestone! But I loved the views.

Today we leave for Reykjavik and two days in Iceland.


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Posted by Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff

Shaman, by Maya Kaathryn BohnhoffWhen I was a newbie—I wrote a the first of a series of stories for Analog about a Scottish/Welsh xenoarchaeologist named Rhys Llewelyn. (Now in a BVC collection entitled SHAMAN.) Naturally, I gave him a bit of olde Scotland in his voice. Having no idea about too much of a good thing, I liberally spiked his dialogue with ”dinnae”s and ”noo”s and other speech patterns that I had heard in people who spoke with Scots accents. (I readily admit I’d cheerfully pay David Tenant to read a shopping list aloud to me.)

Stan Schmidt bought the story, but gave me a lesson on writing dialect. Dialect, he told me, in essence is like ’um’ and ’er’ and other speech affectations. Yes, people really sound like that, but reading it can undermine your story because the reader will be forced to slow down and sometimes sound things out. That can cause them to lose the thread of your story. He gave me a number of helpful hints, which I pass along whenever I see a new writer struggling with dialect.

One of his points had to do with the dialect, itself:

  1. Establish the accent or dialect. So, the first time Rhys speaks, he maybe says, in response to a question, ”I dinnae see that.” Or maybe my New Orleans belle says, ”Ahm from Nawleans, Sugah.” Early in the game.
  2. Sprinkle the rest of that character’s dialogue with rare, brief reminders that they have an accent. So, in subsequent dialogues, Rhys would say, ”I did not…” or ”I didn’t…” with only the occasional visual reminder of his accent and Lucette calls people ”Sugar”.

Those were Stan’s two key points, to which I add a few of my own. First, listen to people who speak in a dialect or are English Second Language speakers. Listen carefully to the particular form their language idiosyncrasies take.

Language is rhythmic and tonal. So, find your subject’s lingual rhythms and tones. Swedish, Norwegian and Italian accents have such pronounced rhythmic components that they’re often parodied. Ditto people who grew up speaking English, but live in areas of the world heavily settled by Scandinavian peoples. Minnesota, for example. Or Minne-sooo-ta, if you will.

You can often help a reader hear a particular accent by arranging the words so that they evoke a tell tale rhythm and /or cadence—a lilt. But you can only do that if you listen carefully to real people whose speech carries that lilt enough to understand what they’re doing that is unique.

For example, people whose first language is not English frequently speak English using the conventions of their own tongue. They may leave out parts of speech that their native language does not contain because they are not used to having to consider them. I have a number of Persian friends who confuse gender pronouns (him and her, he and she) because Persian does not have genders. Russian English speakers will drop articles because Russian doesn’t have that part of speech. So your Russian character, if plopped into the middle of an episode of Rocky and Bullwinkle might say, ”Yesterday, I saw moose and squirrel.” Chinese ESL speakers will often have problems with both articles and tenses because Chinese dialects contain neither. Tense is implied through context and word meaning is often tonal. So, a Chinese ESL speaker in that same peculiar situation might say, ”Yesterday, I see moose and squirrel.”

Contractions can also be difficult for people whose native language doesn’t require them. Hence, a Chinese person might say, ”I no go there” instead of ”I won’t go there.”

My best advice is listen and do a little looking into the conventions of the language your character grew up speaking so that you understand why they speak the way they do.

As a science fiction writer, of course, I’m sometimes dealing with characters whose first language isn’t even a human one. Stan Schmidt had some advice about that, too. Specifically, he talked about the use of apostrophes in names and ”alien” words. I sent him a story in which I had created a name with an apostrophe: M’sutu. His first question to me was, ”What does the apostrophe do? What does it sound like? If it doesn’t do something in the word or name then don’t use it. You’ll only confuse the reader. He’ll wonder how he’s supposed to pronounce it every time he sees that word. Only use odd spelling conventions like that if they can be shown to make a sound.”

2" diameter goatskin Native American drum with Kokopelli black ink drawing upon it.

That prodded me to do some research on human languages that used apostrophes. I remembered Miriam Makeba, of course, whom I’d heard as a child singing songs with audible tongue clicks in them. In written lyrics, those clicks are apostrophes. In some First Nations languages, the apostrophe is used to cue a complete stop in the flow of the word. So, in the Navajo word ”Yoo’?”, the apostrophe signals a cutting off of sound—a silent beat. The last character is a nasal, short ’i’ as a French speaker might pronounce it.

So, to sum up: Don’t be afraid to use dialects and accents, but don’t overdo it. Establish it, then move on. Use rhythm and cadence to indicate accent with infrequent reminders of a more obvious sort. If you decide your character will speak with an accent or dialect or a charming lack of fluency, try to understand what it is about their native tongue that causes a particular effect. That way, you’ll be more consistent, stand a better chance of your reader hearing the accent you mean for her to hear, and will not pull her out of the story.


calling all Latinists

Aug. 23rd, 2017 03:53 pm
swan_tower: The Long Room library at Trinity College, Dublin (Long Room)
[personal profile] swan_tower

I seem to remember, back in high school, translating a poem by Horace where the first word (?) of the poem was a verb . . . but the subject of that verb was buried down in the second stanza. I don’t recall anything about its subject matter; it only stuck with me because it was the most egregious example I had personally encountered of how Latin can make an utter jigsaw of its word order.

But that poem doesn’t appear to be in our little booklet of Catullus and Horace, which means it was one of the ones the teacher gave us in a handout. And although I thought I still had those handouts, I can’t find them. So I turn to you, o Latinists of the internet: does this ring a bell? Can anybody point me at the poem in question?

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

Quick Update

Aug. 23rd, 2017 03:19 pm
sartorias: (Default)
[personal profile] sartorias
Leaving in an hour for Albuquerque. Back Tuesday. In between, a con!

I hope this is still cross-posting to LiveJournal. Anyone from LJ reading this, for the past 48 hours, LJ has not let me comment on anyone's journal. I will try again on my laptop on route, but might not be able to catch up.

Will talk more about a really good ballet I watched recently on YouTube.

Also, reading.

Five Best Selling Novels

Aug. 23rd, 2017 02:59 pm
al_zorra: (Default)
[personal profile] al_zorra
      . . . . It must be summer all right.  I've read 5 novels already, and August still has 8 more days to go!

The historical fictions first . . . .

Martha Conway. (2017) The Underground River. Touchstone, New York.

Set on the Ohio, 1838, in a Floating Theater, featuring a seamstress, who finds herself by helping enslaved people escape from Kentucky to Ohio. The problem, however, is this is 1838, deep into the Panic of 1837. Van Buren is POTUS, inheriting  the consequences of Andrew Jackson’s ignorant, thus destructive economic policies, which the concentrically related conditions he created plunged the USA into the deepest and longest economic depression in the constant cycle of boom and bust economy of the country until the Great Depression of 1930’s. By 1837 - 38, businesses of all kinds, great and small, in the US and abroad, particularly England, from banks to leather shops are failing and have failed everywhere.  There is no, none, nada, credit to be had by anyone, except the very few richest individuals in the country. 

So then this reader cannot help wondering how these poor people along the Ohio River between Kentucky and Ohio find the bit of coin to pay admission to the Floating Theater, which isn't even a steamboat, but a barge? How in the world does the Floating Theater on such margins already, keep going? 

From the Ohio History Connection -- 

. . . .  In Ohio, many people lost their entire life savings as banks closed. Stores refused to accept currency in payment of debts, as numerous banks printed unsecured (backed by neither gold nor silver) money. Some Ohioans printed their own money, hoping business owners would accept it. Thousands of workers lost their jobs, and many businesses reduced other workers' wages. It took until 1843 before the United States' economy truly began to recover. . . .

IOW, the author did a lot of research into many areas, which show up delightfully in her pages, but missing are the economic milieu of the period, which should be crucial to the story she wants to tell -- slavery is always about economics.

This is too bad for this reader, let me emphasize, as everyone else who has read and reviewed this novel appear to have never even heard of the Panic of 1837. But for this reader, this knowledge flowed constantly into the story, creating a great deal of interrogation of character and storylines. The book's characters are for the most part are interesting and vivid.  But this lack of inclusion in the story of this crucial event of the 1830's and 1840's showed equally vividly the author's contrivances, which resulted in a sense of the plot becoming almost glib and as nearly as flimsy as the scenery of the plays presented by the Floating Theater.

It also got this reader recollecting Edna Ferber's Showboat (1926). which was anything but flimsy.  It is set during in the post-bellum era of the Gilded Age.  Every shiver in the economy, every part of racism,  affects the people working on the floating theater steam boat, The Cottonblossom, over the three generations of the characters in this substantial work of historical fiction. 

Linnea Hartsuyker. (2017) The Half-Drowned King. HarperCollins, NY.

Cold climate fiction 9th century Norway, which this reader looked forward to, as the perfect book for that very hot, polluted and humid first week of August.  

Enthusiastically positive review in the historical fiction sections.  Multiple foreign rights sales.

This is first of a trilogy set in the same sort of chronotype as Nicola Griffith’s Hild.  This is the author's first novel since retiring from tech and achieving an MFA from NYU, thus the author isn't yet as skilled as Griffith.  The first sections are somewhat muddy slogging, as the reader attempts to locate where, when and why.  This is made more confusing by sudden switches in protagonists and their limited 3rd person point of view.  The novel  improves about half way through, just about where this reader was going to jettison it. 

The novel's titles are different in different countries.  Seeing the title for the Dutch version perhaps explains some of my initial difficulties with the novel, trying to figure out who and what it was about.  We open with the brother, Ragnvald, so one tends to think he’s the ‘real’ protagonist (and nothing changes one’s mind about that as the book progresses).  But the sister, Svanhilde, gets pov as well --  except when they are in scenes together we get them from his pov.  But the title in Dutch is De Legende Van Swanhilde -- so is Svanhilde the actual protagonist?

I’m guessing at least one of these two siblings will be in Iceland in the second volume.

Sarah Perry. (2016) The Essex Serpent. Serpents Tail – UK / HarperCollins, NY.

Set between January through November in a single year of the late Victorian era, this is a 'literary' historical fiction, which received glowing reviews in all the venues that review such fiction. For this reader though, the various parts do not connect thematically, and did not meld via the laborious and labored metaphor of the serpent of the title.  This serpent writhes throughout the text in the guise of several visions: prehistoric, i.e. scientific of the real, material world, superstition of the infernal, mystical vision of the divine, creative impetus of the imagine. These and more meanings of the serpent cycles into the consciousness periodically of the people who live in a village upon the Blackwater River in Essex, close to the sea. 

For someone who has read enormously in the great century of Victorian fiction, the characters felt as lesser shadows of all the Victorian characters we already know -- particularly those out of historical fiction -- rather than original figures in their own right.  Except they are given to thinking as if they are no different from thos who in the 21st century, which is how the author has taken pains to tell her readers they are not.  There is an exception of one of the peripherals, Naomi Banks, a motherless child with a hard drinking fisherman father.  It's her story that is the interesting one, but we don't get much.

This reader got very impatient before the end arrived.  The book felt about 60 pages too long, and it felt as though nothing amounted to much at all -- which is perhaps where it is like so many people alive today?

Contemporary fiction . . . 

Don Winslow. (2017) The Force. HarperCollins, New York.

Police thriller suspense in New York City, glowing reviews, hailed frequently as "the perfect beach read." This reader naturally then expected it to be perfect for hot humid summer nights, of which this month there have been many (with respites, thank goodness!) 

But what it did it feel like was one of those grey and dreary, interspersed with violence of weenie-wag over testosteroned New York City types from the later part of the second decade of the 21st century. However, the protag keeps telling us we're on the mean streets of  present day NYC, though, naturally, mostly we're in the supposedly still Fort Apache neighborhoods of uptown baby and the 'jects and kingpin drug dealers of heroin . . . . 

Narrated from the strictly limited point of view of the leader of the narcotics special forces protagonist, it sounds like something written no later than the last decades of the 20th century, with that hardboiled consciousness and narrative tone that was common for such fictions.  Never fear, however, the pages are well laced with whinings about how unfairly the cops are regarded and treated by those they keep safe -- while they, particularly the protag -- committing one hideous crime after another from stealing and dealing and getting big moola by selling the drugs they take from the criminals -- not to mention spending sprees with the most expensive hookers going, and other infidelities to wives and families who are too protected and selfish to understand their special pressures. 

This reader did not like this book, so skimmed from the middle to the end.  At least protag dies. He dies, moaning, "All he ever wanted to be was a good cop."

Julia Glass. (2017) A House Among the Trees. Pantheon – Penguin USA / Random House. New York.

Ta -Dah!

This one is by far the winner of  this reader's August's fiction reading. Despite the NY Times's snarky review by David Levitt, this reader gobbled Glass's novel down in two long nights of reading, from first word to the last word.  Levitt does concede that though he despised the novel yet it was pleasing enough that one reads happily to the end -- and yes, not only does this novel provide a happy ending, but it provides several happy endings, all skillfully and plausibly wrapped together, rising out of who the multiple characters are. 

Other reviewers have observed that if one likes Australian novelist, Liane Moriarty's books, and I do (the recent HBO series, Big Little Lies, was adapted to Malibu from one of her books) one might well like this novel too.  But ultimately this reader doesn't see that they have much in common. For one thing, it's about the world of children's publishing.  But Glass gets in so many threads of our current entertainment media, including computer games, movies and television, biking, and even museums. 

It was almost like having another of Sue Miller’s splendid novels from the 90’s, (her first novel, The Good Mother, was published in 1986) when she was at the top of her form. Miller's the more graceful writer by several percentage points, but Glass's novel moves even more effortlessly than Miller's, which means I shall look out for Glass's previous novels.

Will I get in another novel before August melts into September and the fall's crazy schedule, including traveling to Cuba and to Mexico, kicks in? These last few weeks, as hot and unpleasant in some ways as they've been, have been the most relaxing I've experienced in years. It's kind of like being on vacation.  Books are good for that too.


Aug. 23rd, 2017 11:16 am
pjthompson: quotes (quotei)
[personal profile] pjthompson

Random quote of the day:

“Science emerged from the Copernican revolution as the winner, the new paradigm, to use Thomas Kuhn’s famous term. But science is wrong if it believes it is the last paradigm or the only one that deserves credence. The nature of new paradigms, as Kuhn wrote, is that they explain more than the previous paradigm.”

—Deepak Chopra, The Huffington Post, October 10, 2005

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Lucy and Ethel, Justin Bieber, or the Kardashian Klan. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Mirrored from Better Than Dead.

(no subject)

Aug. 23rd, 2017 09:23 am
baranduin: (Reading from sallymn)
[personal profile] baranduin
Books finished:
A Boy in Winter by Rachel Seiffert. Early on a grey November morning in 1941, only weeks after the German invasion, a small Ukrainian town is overrun by the SS. This new novel ... tells of the three days that follow and the lives that are overturned in the process.

I read this novel over the last two nights, much of the time with my heart in my throat and my breath held. It's tightly constructed around the following characters--Nazis, Jewish children separated from their family and on their own, German engineer building roads for the SS (that the Wehrmacht and the Einsatzgruppen will use as they roll over the USSR), Ukrainian gentiles (including a deserter from the Soviet army who turns around and becomes a policeman for the SS), Ukrainian Jews (most of whom have been herded into a large brick factory). We learn about what is happening to people through what the other characters are experiencing. Early in the book, there are some very disturbing passages from the German engineer's point of view that is so relevant to today's United States. Highly recommend.


Aug. 22nd, 2017 11:16 pm
archangelbeth: An anthropomorphic feline face, with feathered wing ears, and glasses, in shades of gray. (Default)
[personal profile] archangelbeth
Am convincing child to try eating straw wrappers as a mood-improvement thing. (Look, the stuff probably still has hormones from the trees in it, and/or it might provide an interesting roughage for gut bacteria. LET ME HAVE MY PLACEBO OKAY.)

Spent about an hour poking at Copper Leaf Bargains and re-reading stuff and fixing a single small inconsistency, but otherwise not getting any noticeable wordcount, blah.

Trash night.

(Oh, hey, back to December 2016 for the GURPS stuff!)

Havva Quote
arcangel says, "Oh, look, we get A: Jordi (YAY!), and B: the Dominion is getting snarky again... https://www.youtube.com/embed/Zhnd5h1CyqE"
arcangel cannot spell LaForge's first name anymore because In Nomine. Hush.
arcangel then goes to one of the random videos near that and NO. BISHONEN VOLDEMORT IS NO. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-xREZXkDpg
arcangel says, "JUST NO."
--Seriously, I'm traumatized here.

INwatch+Bookwatch )

Dragons under fold )
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Posted by Deborah J. Ross

Nevertheless, She Persisted, ed. Mindy KlaskyBack in the 1990s, when themed anthologies were all the rage, I heard about one that was right up my alley and open to submission: Ancient Enchantresses, to be edited by Kathleen M. Massie-Ferch and Martin H. Greenberg for DAW. The editors wanted historical fantasy featuring strong women characters and magic, as is clear from the title. As I cast about for a subject, I found myself more and more – excuse the pun – disenchanted with Western European historical characters. It seemed to me that the women of interest had been portrayed more than frequently enough, and I had little interest in Celtic mythology. When I lamented my lack of inspiration to a friend – not a fantasy writer, but the director of a pre-school at a Jewish community center – she suggested I take a look at Written Out of History: Our Jewish Foremothers, by Sondra Henry and Emily Taitz (3rd ed, Biblio Press, 1988). Posthaste, I ordered a copy of the book and then pored through it. The chapters were short, more summations than in-depth histories. Although quite a few of them piqued my interest, only one suggested a story, that of Dona Gracia Nasi. The section began:


Unlike Benvenida Abrabanel, Beatrice de Luna belonged to a family that had chosen to become Marranos [unwilling converts to Catholicism – also known as conversos] so that they could remain in their home in Portugal. They had a successful business and a rich life. Beatrice was born in 1510, thirteen years after the expulsion of all practicing Portuguese Jews. Those remaining in Portugal worked hard to hide any Jewish allegiance from the world…

I devoured the section, all four pages of it, from Beatrice inheriting her husband’s share of an immense international commodities business to her flight from one country after another, the Inquisition hot on her heels, to her imprisonment in Venice, her transformation into Dona Gracia Nasi (her childhood Jewish name), to her eventually settling in Turkey at the invitation of the Sultan. But all this was so abbreviated as to be tantalizing without deep substance.

In the footnotes, however, I discovered that historian Cecil Roth had written an entire book about Gracia, The House of Nasi: Dona Gracia (Jewish Publication Society of America, 1947). Although the book was out of print, I was able to borrow a copy from a local university library. Within those scholarly pages, I discovered a story as dramatic, tragic, and inspiring as anything out of Hollywood or New York.

I could have tried to tell Gracia’s entire story, but that would have meant either another abridged version or an extensive tome. I decided, therefore, to focus on a shorter period of her life: the flight from Antwerp (when Queen Marie of Burgundy, Regent of the Low Countries and sister to Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire, schemed to marry off Gracia’s young daughter to one of her courtiers) to Venice. I’d visited Venice briefly during the time I lived in France (1991) and had vivid memories of the shadows under the bridges over the canals, the ancient plazas and towers, and the omnipresence of the sea. I wandered through the original ghetto, Il Ghetto, the old foundry district. I cut out an image from a tourist brochure of a person in the traditional Mardi Gras costume called bauta (including a white mask, tricorne hat, and a black tabarro, a short cloak) and pinned it on my bulletin board, hoping to find a story that would capture the sense of brooding menace. (As an aside, I’m not comfortable with clowns, either.) Armed with image, memory, and scholarly text, I embarked upon the tale.

“Unmasking the Ancient Light” is a tribute to the perseverance of a woman under extraordinary reversals and dangers. Life was perilous for European Jews in the Renaissance, as it had been in centuries earlier. Jews had been expelled from (among others) England (1290), France (1182, 1306, 1321, 1394), Spain (1492), and Portugal (1497). The series of expulsions forced Jewish communities to find safe (or safer) havens, in the Netherlands, Venice, and Islamic countries, such as the Ottoman Empire. They developed international systems of commerce and banking, as well as close familial and communities ties. Gracia’s family was no exception. From Spain (“convert, leave, or die!”) they relocated to Portugal, then to Antwerp, and so forth. While in Italy, Gracia dropped the pretense of a converso and began finding ways to support her fellow exiles, whether lending material aid to individuals to becoming a patron of the arts to creating a printing house to publish Jewish texts in Hebrew and also Spanish (the Ferrera Bible) for those unable to read the ancient languages.

The list of Gracia’s accomplishments could easily fill the word count of a piece of short fiction, but I wanted her story to be more than a list of the amazing things she had done. I wanted to capture the spirit of the woman – if not historically accurate, as is always the challenge with fantasy – but one that would speak to the hearts of readers as Gracia had spoken across the centuries to me. I focused, then, on her struggle to survive the political intrigues and animosities of her time while preserving and nourishing the spirit of her people. The magic, as it were. Here I found a second inspiration in various treatments of the feminine aspect of the divine and the equivalence of the Shekhinah, sometime called the Indwelling Spirit, with light, without getting too dogmatic or theological.

As a final note, since I dutifully returned Cecil Roth’s book to the university library, my husband presented me with a copy of The Woman Who Defied Kings: The Life and Times of Dona Gracia Nasi, A Jewish Leader During the Renaissance (Andree Aelion Brooks, Paragon House, 2002). If you want to know more about her, I recommend this highly accessible book (which has a ton of footnotes, for the historians among you).


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Posted by News Editor

The Way You Look Tonight coverThe Way You Look Tonight
Harmony Springs 3
by Mindy Klasky

A May-December romance fans flames in a small town…

At the ripe old age of twenty-six, Anne Barton is content to live with her mother in her cozy childhood home, surrounded by stuffed animals and girlish dreams. But the owner of the Orchard Diner has a secret: when she was twelve she caused a horrific fire that brutally scarred her best friend.

Forty-four-year-old firefighter Will O’Hara knows he should campaign for the job of Harmony Springs Fire Chief. Doing so, though, would force him to overcome his blinding fear of public speaking.

When a charity stunt pits Anne against Will in the small town’s Mayor for a Day election, both candidates are pushed far outside their comfort zones. Anne must confront the crush she’s had on Will since the fireman rescued her from her nightmare inferno. And Will battles his own burning attraction, knowing Anne is young enough to be his daughter. If they keep playing with fire, someone is sure to get burned.

Read a sample online

Buy The Way You Look Tonight at BVC Ebookstore


(no subject)

Aug. 22nd, 2017 01:54 pm
baranduin: (Default)
[personal profile] baranduin
Five Things meme swiped from [personal profile] ysilme:

5 things you’ll find in my bag: keys, work badge, wallet, iPad, glucose tablets

5 things you’ll find in my bedroom: kitty treats, glucose tablets on bedside table, zabuton/zafu cushions, stairs to the bed so kitties can jump up more easily (Harry is starting to need that), personal altar

5 things I’ve always wanted to do: go to China(done), go to Russia (nope), see an eclipse (done), do a huge USA and Canada road trip to see fannish friends (not yet!), watch a Lord of the Rings movie (done)

5 things that make me happy: kitties, talking to [personal profile] hanarobi, dancing, the smell of the ocean, meditating

5 things I’m currently into: Bahubali which is leading to other Indian movies and TV shows, going through my house and labeling stuff to start preparing for my move, Project Runway season 16, Indian soundtrack music, capri leggings

5 things on my to-do list: binge watch Game of Thrones for this season (it's getting harder to remain unspoiled lol), get a new Social Security card with my actual name on it rather than my married name from the 1970s, get the car a brake job, take books to the book drop-off location so I can continue culling, trim the shrubbery by the sidewalk or the homeowners association will be vexed with me (I actually like them to be vexed with me on account of they're assholes).

(no subject)

Aug. 22nd, 2017 02:04 pm
shirebound: (Default)
[personal profile] shirebound
I'm reading your wonderful posts every day, but don't have time (or energy) yet to post or write. Every day is full, morning to night, of things I need to accomplish to get this move complete. It will take a few more weeks before the world stops spinning, but I'm *starting* to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Just have to keep reeaaaching for it....

Love to you all.

calendars and Ninefox Gambit

Aug. 22nd, 2017 01:29 pm
asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
[personal profile] asakiyume
Something you notice very quickly when you start reading Ninefox Gambit is the importance of the calendar. It’s the foundation stone of empire: things that subvert empire cause “calendrical rot,” and, conversely, things that cause calendrical rot are subversion, or, as the story terms it, heresy—like rebellion but even more rebellious.

This focus on calendars is a stroke of genius. Calendars **are** powerful mechanisms of cultural control. Think about how the international standard calendar for business and commerce is the Gregorian calendar, which ties its start date to Christianity. (People do use other calendars in various places and for various purposes, but the Gregorian calendar dominates for international exchange.) Less so now than in the past, but Sunday is designated a no-work day in accordance with that tradition. And think how the rest day figures for other calendars, too—the Jewish calendar or the Islamic calendar. If you don’t know the proper rest day, you can be in trouble—and this is even if you’re an outsider: things stop. And if you don’t stop—depending on the degree of observance—you might be punished. And if the community gradually moves away from this, it can be perceived by the more-faithful as cultural weakening. Calendrical rot is threatening!

The traditional Chinese calendar is a lunisolar calendar that has complicated, intersecting base 10 and base 12 recurring features and indicates certain days as auspicious or inauspicious for various activities. When you combine it with geomantic principles (powers or traits related to compass directions—feng shui), which happens naturally, as feng shui is tied to the solstices and equinoxes, which are calendrical as well as astronomical occurrences, boom, that’s a whole lot of Chinese folk culture you’ve got—and, like the Chinese writing system, it spread to Korea, Vietnam, and Japan.

In Japan (and probably in other East Asian countries, but Japan’s the one I know about), magical powers were attributed to people who could advise on and manipulate the calendar—something that required some good math skills, what with those mixed number bases and various repeating units. If you’ve ever seen the film Onmyōji, you’ve seen the story of one famous example of such a person, Abe no Seimei. In Ninefox Gambit, this magic translates to the “exotic effects” that can be generated in war, relying on the calendar. These same effects don’t work if the calendar is subverted—beware calendrical rot!

There’s one notable instance in Ninefox Gambit in which the protagonist manipulates the heretics’ calendar to gain a tactical advantage—Buuuuuut I can’t spoil it.

This isn’t a review of the book—I have one of those at Goodreads, covering some of the same territory, but in less detail—it’s more of an appreciation of this one aspect of the book. It’s me saying “I SEE WHAT YOU DID HERE, YOON HA LEE! VERY CLEVER!”

Hoping for hope

Aug. 22nd, 2017 09:52 am
pjthompson: quotes (quotei)
[personal profile] pjthompson

Random quote of the day:

“Sometimes hope is expensive. But it is the currency of the realm, what we’re here to fight for, and to help others hold onto, and recover.

—Anne Lamott, Twitterfeed, April 3, 2013

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Lucy and Ethel, Justin Bieber, or the Kardashian Klan. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Mirrored from Better Than Dead.


Aug. 22nd, 2017 08:24 am
sartorias: (white rose)
[personal profile] sartorias
I have been using up my birthday treasures so fast that I've changed my strategy. Yesterday's eclipse was so lovely not just in itself but the relief from the news, that when I woke up to the prospect of the orange horror playing video games with people's lives in Afghanistan I made a conscious decision to look for moments of beauty every day--moments of other human beings making art.

I found this wonderful dancer with a hoop--and this young man doing same..

(no subject)

Aug. 22nd, 2017 08:03 am
baranduin: (Default)
[personal profile] baranduin
Thinking of a story where all the gods/demons/etc. exist but no one is interested any more. I remember Star Trek had the Apollo episode that I used to watch obsessively. Any book or film recs for that kind of story? How do gods deal with rejection? Maybe some like it, gets them away from all that smiting and stuff. I bet the AO3 has some from the Yuletide collections. Probably a bunch of coffee shop AUs lol.

Good morning.


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