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Women Scorned [Mar. 21st, 2015|08:20 pm]
I was playing an askbox game over on tumblr, about female characters screwed over by their narratives and how I would have fixed it. And as this is a subject I can talk about at, ahem, some length I thought I'd repost my answers here.

Morgana (Merlin)Collapse )

Gwen (Merlin)Collapse )

Shae (GoT)Collapse )

Ros (GoT)Collapse )

Sansa Stark (GoT)Collapse )

Donna Noble (Doctor Who)Collapse )

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You Have Betrayed My Tiny Trust [Mar. 17th, 2015|11:17 pm]
-"I really think having the dog is doing me the world of good, I've got bags more energy," I said, while playing keepie-uppie with a squeaky tennis ball by myself in the living room, and immediately before indulging in a ridiculous fantasy about me and the closing moments of a Champions League final that saw me hoofing the ball across the room and into the television.

I can't even blame the dog for this one, as I'd sent her to the vet to be neutered, and at the time she was lying in her crate, wearing a cone of shame, and staring at me with a look of abject betrayal and resentment.

-Speaking of betrayals of fledgling trust, I was a wee bit dismayed that the series finale of Call the Midwife was taken straight out of the Big Book of Tragic Lesbian Cliches (especially after Last Tango in Halifax; that's two otherwise stellar BBC shows that have pulled this same nonsense in however many months. Do they have a quota to meet?)

After Delia rode off on Patsy's bicycle I didn't even manage to get out the full sentence, "I bet she's about to be hit by a car", before she was hit by a car.

I go to my Mum and Dad's on Sundays for tea, too, and then spend the evening watching telly with them, so I found myself trying to explain the sad lesbian cliche to two people who mentally find and replace the word lesbian with the word goldfish in all conversation.

-Because I don't really go to the pictures anymore, and because I've been such a naysayer on the superhero genre, I'm only now really catching up on the MCU, horrifically out of order, and just as and when they happen to cross my path. I didn't think there would be a wrong way to watch comic book movies, but I think I've found it.

One of the reasons that even the big bombshell moment of Agents of SHIELD S1 did nothing for me was that I didn't know what Hydra was or why being part of it was bad. So I watched The Winter Soldier, and that explained that (although I now retroactively resent AoS for squandering the destruction of SHIELD plot) but I was going, "Hang on, the chap in all the eye makeup asks a good question: who the hell is Bucky?" So just last week I watched the first Captain America movie, but I think I missed the boat, because I'd already seen all of Agent Carter and I was mostly just confused as to why there wasn't more Peggy in Peggy Carter's origin story.

-I have thankfully aged out of strange men coming up to me on the bus and asking what I'm reading. I used to put them off by telling them, in great detail; nobody likes an evangelist. But I looked up from my much thumbed Guards! Guards! paperback at the weekend and found a lad grinning at me over a battered copy of Hogfather.

So we spent a nice commute talking about Pratchett's death, and Pratchett's Death, and our favourite Discworld books, and when I said, "I have to go, this is my stop," it was because it actually was my stop, and not because I was planning to get off and wait for the next bus.

So Terry Pratchett died, and that's terribly sad, but two strangers passed a pleasant half hour of human connection over their shared love of his work, which is not bad.

-The annual Scotland - England Calcutta Cup match was played this weekend gone. During the pre-match coverage the music the BBC chose to play over clips of previous clashes between the sides was The Rains of Castamere.

Fitting really; not just for the Calcutta Cup, but for Scotland's performance this entire Six Nations. Not so much The Lannisters Send Their Regards, as All Of Europe Sends Its Regards, Again.

-Because I am exactly the sort of weirdo that is fascinated by AO3 statistics, and likes to watch columns of numbers slowly climb upwards, I was sort of interesting to see that the Peggy/Angie fic I wrote a month ago is now my most kudosed fic, eclipsing The Care and Feeding of Tiny Humans which has been my most popular story (by several orders of magnitude) since I first joined the A03.

From this I am taking the following: 1) the MCU, even the femslash-y spin-off bit, is a freakish outlier in terms of kudos, 2) correctly predicting a series endgame will buy you a certain amount of attention due to sheer novelty value.

Also, I would not do well in a m/m juggernaut because I don't think I could cope with that amount of people looking at me (another reason, of course, is that I think people can tell when you are writing for kudos and not for joy).

-Speaking of writing for joy, I have become weirdly fascinated with the soulmate mark trope recently. Like, if I were going to write another Peggy/Angie fic right now it would be a soulmate AU (of the I'm your soulmate, and you're not mine, but if you can get over that I'd like to try and make this work variety). Or there's the Sansa/Margaery one where it's not your soulmate's name or first words that appear on your skin, but their house sigil, and both Sansa and Margaery have a lot of brothers.

I am a ridiculous person, I know.

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Who Says Only Cats Can Be Assholes [Mar. 4th, 2015|11:28 am]
Puppy, free to a good home
Puppy, free to a home
Puppy, free

I jest. But, man, my dog is growing up to be an asshole dog.

She has ridden in the car since she was tiny with no problems. This weekend she very quietly and industriously managed to chew her way through two seatbelts, pull the plastic moulding off from over the lights, and chew through the wires - shorting out my rear lights and giving herself an electric shock.

You would think this would have discouraged her from chewing. It did not. Sometimes of an evening, if I'm reading or watching telly, the puppy will lie sleeping under the side table. Except it turns out that she hasn't been sleeping. What she has been doing is very sneakily gnawing her way right through one of the table legs. Which I discovered one night when I'd put the dog in her crate and gone to bed myself, and was woken by a humungous crash which was the table giving out under the weight and crashing to the ground.

That was the closest she came to being given away since she was tiny and she bit right through my earlobe. That's something that they don't tell you about puppies - that you will spend your first few weeks with this adorable little ball of fuzz that you have acquired with the express intention of loving to bits, you will spend those first few weeks being eaten by inches and looking worriedly sideways at your new best friend going, this animal is evil, and clearly harbors ill-will towards me.

I have been and purchased her a tiny muzzle for car rides. It's ridiculous - I have this tiny, waggy tailed puppy with a muzzle and a metal chain lead (after she chewed straight through three fabric ones), the sort you would expect to see on, like, vicious guard dogs.

We were out for a walk the other week, and we met someone with a tiny little spaniel puppy. Tiny little thing it was, all wide eyed and frightened on its first day out - and Freya sat on it. Just plonked herself right down on top of it, wagged her tail, and looked up as if to say, only pay attention to me.

Proper little asshole she is. Ah, well, she's off to be fixed next week - it's that time; I think I've met every boy dog in a six mile radius - so she'll have a richly deserved cone of shame.

It's worth mentioning that, by and large, Freya is growing into a cracking little dog. Affectionate and (mostly) obedient and playful, and all that jazz. And sometimes asshole pets are the best pets, because you think that no one will ever love them and all their asshole ways the way you will.

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Haven't done one of these in ages [Mar. 2nd, 2015|08:47 pm]

If you could have me write a fic specifically for you, what would it be like? Fandom, characters/pairing, genre, plot elements, kinks (if applicable)... what's your ideal fic from me?

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February Booklog (plus bonus fic and podfic recs) [Mar. 1st, 2015|11:28 pm]
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Dead Girl Walking - Christopher Brookmyre
The Unquiet Dead - Ausma Zehanat Khan
Faithful Place - Tana French
Broken Harbor - Tana French

All thrillers this month, for a change of pace.

Dead Girl Walking I was really excited about, because the last Jack Parlabane book came out, like, five years ago, and it's one of my favourite series. It's not Brookmyre's best title; nothing will ever beat Attack of the Unsinkable Rubber Ducks in my book.

It wouldn't surprise me if this was the last Jack Parlabane book; the way a lot of characters from previous books made what seemed like a finale farewell appearance, and the way Brookmyre, who's always seemed to be a pretty socially conscious writer, seems to have accepted that in this day and age you can't have your protagonist be a journalist who uses, ahem, extra legal methods and still pretend he's the hero. I do kind of admire writers who know when to retire a series, though.

Anyway, it was good; I enjoyed the central mystery, involving an awesome lesbian rock star, her violinist sort of girfriend, and a sex trafficking ring. But it's probably not the best place to jump into the series, more a fond farewell to some long established characters.

The Unquiet Dead, on the other hand, is the first in a series; actually, I think it's the author's first book. You can sort of tell; the pacing's not great, and the conclusion is spoilerCollapse )

It's a Canadian set murder mystery where the victim very quickly turns out to be connected to the Bosnian war; and the narrative is split between the investigation and flashbacks to the genocide. The thing that really elevates this book and makes it worth reading is that the author is apparently an international human rights lawyer who was involved in the war crimes trials and really knows her stuff; the chapter headings are taken from the statements of survivors, which adds poignancy to the whole thing.

I'd almost given up on the Dublin Murder Squad books after The Likeness. My problem with that book was the idea of a murder victim who was so the spitting image of an undercover detective that the detective could move in with her housemates for weeks on end without raising any eyebrows completely shattered my suspension of disbelief.

Thankfully the next two books in the series hew a bit closer to reality. Faithful Place is about a twenty year old cold case and a dysfunctional family, and Broken Harbor is about a family massacre and the early days of the recession in Ireland.

As much as I'm enjoying Tana French's patented blend of ambiguous endings and strangely dislikable yet compelling protagonist, I'm taking a break from the thrillers for a while, and I'm halfway through Elizabeth Bear's Karen Memory, which so far contains a steampunk version of the American goldrush, a group of friendly prostitutes, a central f/f relationship, and an evil mind control machine, and I'm absolutely freakin' loving it!

Only four books this month, but February is a short month, plus I fell into an Agent Carter fanfic shaped whole. I couldn't help it... Peggy/Angie is like the friends-to-lovers sprinkled coffee shop AU x spy AU of my heart.

Anyway, here are some recs for fics I have especially enjoyed.

Griffith House Rules by [ profile] The-Stephanois Five times Angie heard noises coming from Peggy's apartment and the one time she caused them.

take a look at what i found by [ profile] likebrightness Peggy knocks before she can think better of it. Hopes Angie wakes up before Miss Fry does.

After the Applause by [ profile] tartanfics Angie doesn't have anyone waiting for her out in the audience. She didn't get to tell Peggy she finally got a part in a show; Peggy wasn't there to tell. She ran lines with Sarah from 4A. There's been not a word from Peggy, nothing, after Angie went to all the trouble of calling up her family and finding Peggy a way out of the city.

The Scheme of Things by [ profile] QuickYoke Angie manages to cross the pond to England during the last years of the War. But she soon finds that helping with the war effort isn't all that cracked up to be.

wake up where the clouds are far behind me by [ profile] ProfessorSpork Angie’s lips are half-cocked in a smirk but the eyebrows give her away, lifted in poorly-masked concern. “Still not sure what kinda errand needs doing on the Brooklyn Bridge alone at this hour. You sure you’re done, Pegs?” That’s the question, isn’t it?

Semi-related. I have a blanket permission to podfic statement tucked away somewhere on AO3, which I quite often forget all about until someone takes me up on it.

And [ profile] reena_jenkins took me up on it and podifcced Living Arrangements.

Now, I don't often listen to podfic of my own stuff all the way through. Not because I don't love that people record it, because I absolutely do, but because as soon as I'm listening to it all I can hear is my weird word choices and awkward sentence structures. But this I listened to all the way through. Twice. Reena's reading is so good that she managed to make me forget I'd written it.

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Peggy Carter is my Queen [Feb. 26th, 2015|02:34 am]
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I didn't get to watch the Agent Carter finale until just now. It's not being shown over here (boo, hiss!) and as the UK is turning into Big Brother on the internet censorship front, watching anything suspiciously foreign has become a total pain in the arse.

One upshot of this is that I have been watching a lot more UK telly. This should really be a whole other post, but in short: The Wolf Hall adaptation is wonderful; The The Casual Vacancy one less so; Broadchurch probably didn't need a second series, no, but it beat the hell out of yet another repeat of Midsomer Murders, and Call The Midwife is Sunday evening telly at its very finest.

The other upshot is that it turns out there were a lot of US shows I was only watching out of habit and didn't mind dropping (Once Upon a Time) and the ones I do want to keep up with (Elementary, The Good Wife) do get shown here, albeit weeks or months after their original airings, but they're not shows where I'm in the fandom, so I don't feel like I need to stay current to keep up with the conversation.

But Agent Carter, oh, Agent Carter. It had its flaws, and I'm not blind to them, but to me it was worth every second of swearing at my elderly macbook and wrangling VPNs.

I was actually slightly spoiled for the finale by opening my e-mail this morning to discover, like, six comments on my lone Agent Carter fic going HOW DID YOU KNOW?

Teeny spoilerCollapse )

Speaking of that fic, I'm actually kind of sorry that I can't get it together fannishly with the rest of the MCU, because not that I write fic for validation, and if I did, boy, would I be writing the wrong sort of fic, mostly, but damn, that there was some nice validation.

Agent Carter finaleCollapse )

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gee, that's a lot of kudos quickly... [Feb. 21st, 2015|12:49 pm]
[Tags|, ]

My one, and likely only, sidestep into anything Marvel related has probably ruined me forever for puttering about in more moderately sized fandoms.

Living Arrangements
Agent Carter; Peggy Carter/Angie Martinelli; PG; 3414 words

Angie almost says, I think Peggy and me are basically married, and I don't think she's noticed, just to see the look on Jarvis's face.

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Quickie [Feb. 14th, 2015|09:54 pm]
1. Spent half an hour this evening painting my nails blue, because I'm off to the Scotland - Wales Six Nations match tomorrow. This means that at half time when we're twenty points down and I start affecting a Welsh accent I can just shove my hands into my pockets.

Ain't optimism grand.

2. I saw the final Hobbit film, which I hadn't been planning to see, but it was a birthday thing. I... liked it, as much as it's possible to like a two hour CGI battle sequence the ending of which renders the previous seven hours of cinematic self-indulgence largely pointless.

In its defense, it was by far my favourite of the three.

3. Today my puppy brought me a dead mouse.

Dear puppy, if I had wanted murder presents I would have gotten a cat. Please stop this at once.

4. I have the urge to write fic for the first time in months. I blame Agent Carter. Okay, I know nothing about New York in 1946, the comics, or the rest of the MCU, and anything I start writing will most likely be jossed to high heaven in the last couple of episodes.

Still, it's nice to feel creative again.

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A Sin to Err [Feb. 11th, 2015|11:40 pm]
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I continue to be besotted with Agent Carter, a show I enjoy all the more for ignoring half of tumblr screaming at the other half about it. I don't know, I'm uncomfortable with anyone being told to watch something they're not interested in for great justice, or indeed any other reason (you do you, etc.) but I'm also a little uncomfortable with this being where the line in the sand is being drawn vis-a-vis diversity in the MCU.

Agent Carter 1x6Collapse )

Ah, well. If Agent Carter goes on past these eight episodes then that will be awesome; and if it doesn't, well, it'll be small and perfectly formed. And I'll have a better grounds for my half arsed grudge against the MCU than my extremely immature and mean spirited sulk that fandom is sobbing over this thing that I don't care about.

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January Booklog [Jan. 31st, 2015|10:22 pm]

Romancing the Duke - Tessa Dare
The World's Wife - Carol Ann Duffy
Carol - Patricia Highsmith
My Real Children - Jo Walton
In The Woods - Tana French
The Likeness - Tana French

Because I wanted to continue dipping my toe into historical romances this year, my first book of 2015 was Romancing the Duke, in which an impoverished young lady and secret author unexpectedly inherits a castle, only to find that the previous owner, a crotchety and recently blinded duke, is still in residence. It was light, and charming, and neatly managed to avoid the tropes (rape as love, dub-con stuff) that I am leery of encountering in historical romance. To be fair, I don't know how prevalent those tropes really are, and how much I'm just being a snob...

There was some good stuff in there about being a fan, too, which I thought was quite impressive to work into an historical romance.

So I'm going to read the next Castles Ever After book, and then I'm going to go back and see what else [personal profile] selenay has read and liked. Because in books, as in fanfic, if you find someone whose tastes overlaps with yours, then it's okay, I think, to stalk their recommendations.

The World's Wife is the first collection of poetry I've read since, gosh, secondary school. That's one reading resolution for the year ticked off! A collection of poems about the wives of historical, fictional, and mythological figures; all excellent. It's probably the only book of poetry I'll read this year, but at least I'm not scared of poetry any more!

Fun fact, I have to read poems aloud, or at least mouth along, or my brain just skips right over them. So, no reading on public transport.

Carol I'd been meaning to read for years and finally got around to it in anticipation of the upcoming film. I found it a bit slow in the beginning, but compelling and beautifully written. But because it was a book about lesbians written in the 50s (late 40s, maybe?) I was reading it braced for tragedy. And the fact that it didn't end in tears was such a huge relief and, like, a crushing weight that I didn't even know was there off my shoulders. This, by the way, is why diversity in fiction is as important now as it was in 1952. Anyway, I ended up really loving it.

Despite the fact that I want to read every word Jo Walton has ever set down in print (and also, kind of, poke around inside her brain to see how it works) I had put off reading My Real Children because the main character is an elderly woman with dementia - real life and my hobby getting a little too close, there - who remembers living two different lives. It was a lot like Kate Atkinson's Life After Life if more overtly science fiction-y. In the end I was glad I read it, I thought it was wonderful and swallowed it whole.

Then I read In The Woods and The Likeness, the first two books in The Dublin Murder Squad series, where a secondary character in the preceding book is the protagonist of the next one. They're good; a bit more literary than your average murder mystery series, which can be a good thing, but sometimes seems to come at the expense of pacing and narrative urgency.

I'll get back to the rest of the series, but there's a reason why my current read is Dead Girl Walking by Chris Brookmyre, which has no illusions at all about being literary, but is certainly exciting.

One of my new years resolutions vis-a-vis reading was to abandon books that weren't working for me. Now I often come back to, and ended up loving, books that I've abandoned, because it was a timing thing more than anything. But with the aim of fewer false starts in future I'm going to start recording books that I did not finish and why.

So in January I DNF Black Blade Blues by J.A. Pitts, which despite it featuring a lesbian main character and dragons, and thus being right up my alley, I abandoned at about the 1/3 mark for the following reasons, 1) the writing, which was a bit blunt and functional; nor necessarily a deal breaker, but not what I was in the mood for just then, 2) the main character having a lot of self loathing and internalized homophobia, including lashing out at the idea of a wider gay community, and I get enough of that in the privacy of my own skull, thank you very much.

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