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Fics What I Have Written [Sep. 24th, 2018|12:37 am]
Remix Revival and AU Exchange were two exchanges that I signed up for, received assignments that stumped me, was 98.5% sure I was going to default on, and ended up writing fics that I feel good about at the eleventh hour. A lesson to take forward into Femslashex. Or, even better than that, I could start writing now.

There are lots of valid ways to write a remix. You can change the pov. You can background the pairing. Or you can do what I did, which was to go "Well, there's nothing in the original fic that definitively says that Sansa isn't a werewolf.

And I Fall (Call of the Wild Remix) (ASOIAF, Sansa Stark)

Once upon a time there was a very scared little girl, who grew up and discovered that the best way to stop being scared was to become scary.

I matched for AU Exchange with the same person I'd written for in Fandom5k, and having only just written them 8k of no boys allowed AU where the women of Westeros were all politicians and journalists I felt a bit guilty about writing them another 3k of no boys AU where the women of Westeros are all criminals. But I got over it. And I know that Dany/Yara is a pairing that other people cared about for five seconds two years ago. But I got over that too.

The Casterly Rock Job (GoT, Dany/Yara)

"You want me to take over the sex trafficking business?" Yara asked incredulously.

"Take it over." Dany stood on her toes and nipped Yara's bottom lip. "Burn it down."

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August Booklog [Aug. 31st, 2018|12:04 am]

Give Me Your Hand - Megan Abbott
Dear Madam President - Jennifer Palmieri
Leah on the Offbeat - Becky Albertalli
I'll Be Gone in the Dark - Michelle McNamara
Future Home of the Living God - Louise Erdrich
Unhinged - Omarosa Manigault Newman
A Study in Honor - Clair O'Dell

Give Me Your Hand revisits Abbott's favoured topics of female friendship and female rage, this time set in a research lab studying severe PMS. And if you've liked previous Megan Abbott books you'll probably like this one too. I must admit though, I keep picking up her books thinking I'm going to like them more than I do, and I can't put my finger on exactly why they don't entirely work for me, because they're all technically brilliantly written, and about subjects that should be right up my alley. I guess they're maybe that little bit too dark for me.

Jennifer Palmieri worked in both the Obama White House and on the Clinton campaign and her contribution to the ever growing "what that fuck is happening?" genre is a slim volume framed as a letter full of advice for America's eventual first female president. Dear Madam President is a quick read - I read it in a single sitting - and its biggest takeaway is that people hold women to different, and harsher standards than the do men. Not an original observation, to be sure, but a valid one, and one that a lot of people seem weirdly reluctant to accept.

I didn't read Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda but I did really love the move adaptation, and there was a bit (the bit where all the kids are meeting up in costume to go to Bram's party) where it seemed like they were hinting at Leah having a thing for Abby, so I jumped straight into the second book Leah on the Offbeat where that is indeed the case. God, if I'd read this book as a teenager teen me would have over-identified like whoa with nerdy, overweight but not bothered by it , never been kissed Leah Burke. And thirty-five year old me really loved the book too.

I don't read a lot of true crime. It's like Gillian Flynn says in her introduction to Michelle McNamara's I'll be Gone in the Dark, you have to accept that you're making yourself a voyeur to the worst thing that's ever happened to another person. And the fact that McNamara died suddenly while writing it added, for me, another layer of ick to it. But there had been a lot of buzz about this book looking the golden state killer, a serial rapist and murderer who terrorised Californians for a decade during the seventies and eighties, not least because not long after its publication he was finally caught. McNamara is a brilliant crime writer, a brilliant writer full stop, which is never more obvious than in the places that her collaborators have had to fill in the blanks to get the book ready for publication. And it is darkly fascinating. But, still, ick.

Future Home of the Living God is a reproductive dystopia (there's lot of them about lately) set in a world where evolution has stopped, and in some cases started running backwards. The scene where a sabre tooth tiger eats a chocolate lab while our protagonist watches out her kitchen window illustrates the premise well, but, darn, I could have lived without it. Pregnant, and later on fertile women, are expected to turn themselves into the government to see if they can produce quote normal unquote babies. It was brilliantly written; it was also meandering, bleak, and ultimately unsatisfactory.

Okay, I'll hold my hands up. As part of my continuing addiction to the soap opera/prelude to the end of the world that is US politics, I read Omarosa's book. I am not proud of myself. I also felt like I needed to shower after finishing it. If asked to summarise it I would do so thusly: Holy revisionist history, Omarosa!

A Study in Honor is a near future, pre-cyberpunk, political dystopia set in a US riven by a second civil war. Janet Watson is a PTSD riddled veteran with a malfunctioning cybernetic arm who through circumstances ends up sharing an apartment with undercover federal agent Sara Holmes. It is a perfectly acceptable pre-cyberpunk, political thriller. But the weakest thing about it, the very weakest thing, is pasting on the names Holmes and Watson. Look, just because Sherlock Holmes is in the public domain and you can use it, doesn't mean you should. Watson's PTSD was really well done, and making her black and a lesbian was an A+ choice. Although I did have some quibbles about the way the book leaned into its portrayal of race, which as the whitest person in the world second only to Benedict Cumberbatch I am utterly unqualified to comment on; I'll just say I was not surprised to discover that the author was white too, and leave it at that. But Sara had nothing in common with Sherlock beyond a last name; she was a spy not a detective, and her "deductions" were the result of cybernetic implants and high speed wifi. She was also a blank slate; the name Holmes obviously being meant to stand in for any depth, personality, or characterisation. It was really disappointing.

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You Can Never Go Back [Aug. 18th, 2018|12:27 am]
We all have those shows that we love that were cancelled before their time: one of mine was The Bletchley Circle about former Bletchley Park code breakers who get caught up in a murder investigation. It only had about half-a-dozen or so episodes all in; the first series was entirely, utterly perfect, the shine had come off the second somewhat, but it was still good and didn't deserve to be cancelled. So I was delighted when I heard it was getting revived for a semi-reboot with half the original cast: The Bletchley Circle: San Francisco.

They've aired four episodes of it, and guys, it is not good. It feels really thin and cheap, which I suppose shouldn't be a surprise as it was made by a US channel that barely exists yet. Not to mention that 1950s Britain was a very different world from '50s California, and that could have been fodder for a good fish out of water story. Instead it just felt like they'd taken characters from one genre and dumped them wholesale into another; like they've taken the characters from Game of Thrones and deposited them into, idk, Altered Carbon without explanation.

And the writing was -- okay, the original show hasn't been on any streaming service I have, so I haven't rewatched it in years, and I'm probably remembering it through rose-tinted glasses, but I remember it being better written than this. It wasn't even just that the mysteries weren't well plotted, though they aren't. There's an especially baffling scene scene where Jean exits the frame and the camera lingers on the walking stick she's left behind - because people often move to one of the hilliest cities in the world only to discover that they no longer need their mobility aids. And, like, the show aired a handful of episodes that hardly anyone watched six years ago - no one can remember whether Jean walked with a cane or not. If you don't want her to walk with a stick just don't give her a stick.

And, okay, the first iteration of the show never explicitly said that Millie wasn't straight, even though she'd obviously been in at least unrequited love with Susan during the war, and she was one of those female characters who fetch up on historical dramas (Patsy on Call the Midwife is the example that comes instantly to mind) where every lesbian watching immediately goes: one of us! one of us! one of us! So I was always going to side eye the choice to hook Millie up with the blandest tertiary male character in the history of bland tertiary male characters. But I took some comfort from the fact that they seemed to be dropping some hints that Jean might not be straight - there was a subtle as a brick through a window line about her being a confirmed spinster.

There was a weird-ass bit at the end of the last episode which intercut the canon married couple with Millie and her cardboard policeman date, and with Jean and Hailey having a fireside picnic on the beach and going skinny dipping in the pacific. Hailey is the youngest of our new code breakers, although she seems to be more of a mechanic because I don't even know what this show is trying to do or be. And, like, it was the most 'Harold, they're lesbians...' scene I have seen in ages. And yet I have seen television before; I know that the show's oldest and frumpiest styled character is not going to be written into a romantic subplot with a borderline teenager. So were they fucking with us, are they so painfully heterosexual that it didn't occur to them that other people might read it as romantic, or is it just holy bad editing, batman? Having seen the rest of the show I'm going to say a little of column b, a little of column c.

By the way, none of that is diminishing my desire to write fic where Hailey is actively pursuing Jean, and Jean is being baffled and Scottish and Presbyterian about it.

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A Very Average AO3 Meme [Aug. 15th, 2018|12:58 am]
I'm apparently not the only one who noticed that those other AO3 memes draw attention to outliers (Living Arrangements is an outlier and ought not to have been counted.) So here is a different meme that is meant to be a little more representative, a little more... average.

Average Word Count: 2285
Average Hits Count: 2741
Average No. of Kudos: 211
Average No. of Comment Threads: 10
Average No. of Bookmarks: 39 (I can only assume that most of these are private notes to self saying 'don't read anything by this author again, she's weird and doesn't know how to use semi-colons.)

Work(s) closest to the average word count:

So, the closest is The Trouble with Witches (at least the evil get to go home early on Fridays) at 2288 words. It's a Merlin fic featuring neither Merlin nor Arthur, where Morgana fucks off out of Camelot to undergo personality rehabilitation under the purview of a baby dragon and benevolent ruling queen.

Pretty fucking representative, I'd say.

Work(s) closest to the average hit count:

Abu el Banat at 2769 hits, an ASOIAF fic about Oberyn and his daughters. Not at all representative of me because it's about a dude, but simultaneously extremely representative of me because even when a fic is about a dude it's about the women around him.

And it's a little further out at 2684 hits, but How to Ruin Your Life and Disappoint Your Loved Ones is an ASOIAF fic where Lyanna lives and is the one to rebel against the mad king, Elia lives to be queen on the iron throne, and Sansa Stark is the heir to Winterfell, and it might be the most me fic I have ever written.

Work(s) closest to the average no. of kudos:

(If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To at 214 kudos. It's a Margaery/Brienne modern political bodyguard AU, where Margaery is pretty fucking gay, and Brienne is pretty fucking awkward.

Pretty fucking me, yes?

Work(s) closest to the average no. of comment threads:

I used to feel like 10 was on the unrealistic end of average comments, but ifYoung Hearts (the dangerous book for girls remix) a Merlin No Boys Allowed Hogwarts AU that sank like a stone when it was first posted can get to 10 comment threads over time then maybe it is accurate after all.

I think comment culture is the huge difference between fandom in the days of LJ and fandom now; back then you got all the comments you were going to get in the first 24 hours, now I'll only get a couple of comments the first day but they'll continue to trickle in forever.

Now things sit on AO3 long enough to find their audience. I've found my audience! That audience is ten people! And that's awesome!

Work(s) closest to the average no. of bookmarks:

Spot on at 39 bookmarks is Schrodinger's Simulation, a Root/Shaw fixit that continues to tread my well worn tracks of Hey, That Lady You Thought Was Dead, She's Not Dead, Don't Think About It Too Hard.

Well...those were certainly some representative fics.

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Telly [Aug. 2nd, 2018|11:05 pm]
I watched five episodes of the second season of Westworld, and then went: um, I'm not sure slogging through another five hours of this is going to clarify anything for me. I guess I shall let it live on in my mind forever as a one season wonder.

I hope the second season of Killing Eve is close to as good as the first, because the first was perfect in every way. I think I feel about Killing Eve the way my friends who liked Hannibal felt about that show - Hannibal was not a show I could ever watch; partly because of too many dudes on the dance floor, but mostly because I am far too squeamish for it. I was once walking the dog while listening to a podcast where they were talking about Hannibal and I had to stop and sit down on a park bench with my head between my knees. Killing Eve has the push-pull without the gross out stuff.

The second season of The Handmaid's Tale got off to kind of a rough start, not least because the first four episodes are just an exercise in holding your breath waiting for June to get dragged kicking and screaming back to the Waterford house. But after that it did have some standout episodes (the Canada one, jfc). It also did one significant thing right, I thought, which was making Serena Joy a sort of secondary protagonist, teasing her possible defection from Gilead, and allowing season three to go back into the Waterford house without having to have June there; I think if June does end up back at the house then that's it, suspension of disbelief has been well and truly killed. The season ending didn't entirely land with me, it didn't do really anything to convince me that June wouldn't escape Gilead if given the chance, or that there's anything she can do by staying.

The thing about Serena Joy is that Gilead is the wish she made on an evil monkey's paw, and she deserves every kicking it gives her, I know this, and yet... I think I understand a bit more about what people see in characters like Kylo Ren, not in the sense of thinking they're really the hero (nah) or enjoying their unabashed villainy (if that's what floats your boat) but in watching them through your finger's going: fuck's sake, just this once do the right thing, for once in your useless life, be a person.

Anyway, my complicated Serena Joy - end of S2 feelings in fic form:

Better Not Wake The Baby

Serena Joy fucking Waterford.

Yeah. June kind of judges herself for that one, too.


June and Serena escape Gilead together.

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Movies What I Have Seen Lately [Jul. 31st, 2018|11:35 pm]
I actually ended up going to the midnight opening of Solo in a half-empty cinema because my neighbour had a spare ticket. And for a movie that literally nobody wanted it was...fine. Quite obviously they should have swapped Woody Harrelson and Thandie Newton's roles around, because otherwise what even was the point of casting Thandie Newton? And they should have held it up for six months and released it at Christmas. Partly because it was too soon after The Last Jedi; I was sitting in the pictures when the yellow star wars logo popped up and I was like: Star Wars? I've just seen Star Wars. It's too soon. Plus, it means that the only big holiday movie this year is going to be the second Fantastic Beasts film; a movie with even more questionable casting choices than Solo, and Solo cast Emilia Clarke as a ninja crime boss. She was actually much better than I expected her to be, but you get my point. The thing I really don't understand about Crimes of Grindelwald is that you've got a character who can canonically change faces, and the knowledge that Johnny Depp is a cocksplat is unavoidable; it's not like anyone was going to ask questions if Grindelwald still looked like Colin Farrell.

Okay, I know I shouldn't apply any thoughts whatsoever to the new Tomb Raider movie but it did two things that really annoyed me. The first was that thing that a lot of movies and shows do, where they show what's clearly meant to be a fairly down at heel London flat, except it's got a roof terrace and a view of the gherkin. If you're a down on your luck Russian oligarch, maybe. Look, if Lara's making her living as a bike courier and refusing to touch her inheritance then she's living in a tower block and commuting in for three hours every morning. The second thing is, and I know it was just to get that sequel baiting shot of Lara with the two guns in, and maybe American movie producers have a skewed idea of how easy it is to procure firearms, but you cannot buy paramilitary weapons from the back room of a Ramsdens gold store. Good action sequences though.

I read Disobedience earlier in the year and thought this is going to be really hard to make into a movie, especially considering that the first trailer had made it look like a romance between the two women. In the book I never really got the sense that they really still had feelings about each other; Ronit was just a convenient vessel for Esti to pour her long repressed lesbianism into, and when Ronit finally did take her to bed it seemed to be less about Esti and more as a giant fuck you to the orthodox community that hadn't exactly welcomed her home with open arms. A hard setup to turn into a romance, yes? And as a result the changes the movie made to it seem like they were in love and might end up together someday felt pasted on, while leaving the ending ambiguous enough as to be unsatisfying. And if you've heard anything at all about this movie you probably heard about the bit in the sex scene where Rachel Weisz spits in Rachel McAdams' mouth, which doesn't make any more sense in context, and in fact the entire sex scene is a weird and uncomfortable watch. The movie is better as a study of an insular religious community than a relationship study, and the book does that better than the movie.

I didn't watch the new Jumanji film when it came out because I had thoughts about one of the only two female characters being played by Jack Black, and it seemed like they were doing a smurfette thing with Karen Gillan. Obviously, those were too many thoughts to be having about the frickin' Jumanji reboot, but they were also completely wrong, because it was the most delightful movie I'd seen all year, and it held that title until the next night when I watched Love, Simon.

I didn't see Love, Simon when it first came out, but I did read those opinion pieces about how we as a society are past needing sweet romantic comedies about two boys falling in love, and now that I have seen it I would like to join the chorus of people inviting the writers of those pieces to fuck the entire way off. Maybe we don't need Love, Simon but we don't need Jumanji either, and both of those movies made a terrible weekend at work (we had two residents, one of whom I adored, pass away) a little more bearable.

I entirely missed Wimbledon this year, as I was too busy biting my fingernails as England got perilously close to winning the World Cup. For the record, I unironically supported England up to the quarter-finals (by the standards of English footballers, Southgate and Kane seem like decent enough blokes who make it hard to work up a good head of nationalist steam) at which point I went cripes, they might actually win this and switched my allegiance to Croatia. Instead I watched Battle of the Sexes. Who would have thought Emma Stone would make such a convincing Billie Jean King? I think it was properly the best film I've seen since...gosh, Spotlight.

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That A03 Stats Meme [Jul. 31st, 2018|12:14 am]
Account Created: November 2009. Um.
Total Stories: 220. A nice round number, I feel.

Total Wordcount: 502,849
Average Wordcount: 2285
Longest Story: The Idiot's Guide to Foiling Alien Invasions at 20,198. That one time I squeaked over the finishing line of a big bang with a 20k thesis about how Mickey Smith is awesome.
Shortest Story: Message in a Bottle a DS9 ficlet I have no memory of having written clocking in at 155 words.

Total Kudos: 46,002
Average Kudos: 209. Feels legit.
Story With the Most Kudos: Living Arrangements with 3343 kudos. Listen, this fic is an outlier and should not be counted; it was, like the third Peggy/Angie fic written just when the pairing was about to have its fifteen minutes, and then it got another wee bump when I accidentally predicted that Peggy and Angie would end S1 cohabiting. We do not talk about S2.

Total Comments: 2149
Average Comments: 9.7. I don't feel like I get ten comments per story, but I guess over time...
Story With the Most Comments: Again, Living Arrangements with 112 comment threads. Again, it is an outlier and should not have been counted.

Total Author Subscriptions: 412. Who are you people?
Total Story Subscriptions: 554. I'm sorry, but I'm never going to go back to any of these. They're clearly labelled 1/1. I'm sorry.
Story With the Most Subscriptions: Okay, this is my bad. My Root/Shaw fixit When I Argue I See Shapes has 45 subscriptions, and was originally posted as a wip, before I realised that I was never going to go back to it, and that it worked okay as a oneshot, and went back and quietly relabelled it as complete. I was being facetious above, but I really am sorry about this one.

Total Bookmarks: 8560
Story With the Most Bookmarks: Living Arrangements. 700 bookmarks. Outlier. Not Counted. Etc.

Stories With No Kudos or Comments: Nothing with no kudos, but 10 with no comments. Thank goodness, because this was starting to feel a little braggy.

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Summer Reading (June and July Books) [Jul. 30th, 2018|12:33 am]

It's been prime reading outside with a beverage weather these last couple of months, so.

What You Want to See - Kristen Lepionka
The Unexpected Truth About Animals: a menagerie of the misunderstood - Lucy Cooke
You All Grow Up and Leave Me: a memoir of teenage obsession - Piper Weiss
The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza - Shaun David Hutchinson
The House on Half Moon Street - Alex Reeve
Provenance - Ann Leckie
Tell it to The Bees - Fiona Shaw
Force of Nature - Jane Harper
Feel Free - Zadie Smith
Difficult Women - Roxane Gay
Who is Vera Kelly? - Rosalie Knecht
The Photographer - Craig Robertson

Whee, I'd been looking forward to the second Roxane Weary book, about a hard-drinking, noirish, bisexual private eye and What You Want to See did not let me down.

If you have ever wanted to horrify the people down the pub with anecdotes about necrophiliac penguins then The Unexpected Truth About Animals is the book for you. It's also the book for you if you like Mary Roach, books where it's clear the author knows her stuff and is only too delighted to be telling you about, or gross out humour. I loved it a lot.

You all Grow Up and Leave Me featured two things I constitutionally have a hard time sympathising with: 1) poor little rich kids, and 2) people writing books about other people's tragedies to which they happen to have been adjacent. Piper Weiss was a teenager on the upper west side when her tennis couch was found to have sexually abused some of his students, although not her. It was not a badly written memoir and might be quite an interesting read if, unlike me, you could muster up a more nuanced opinion of the author than: you are a bad person and you should feel bad about having written this.

The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza is YA about a teenager who was the product of a virgin birth who discovers that she has the power to heal the sick, but with the side effect that every time she does other people get raptured to god knows where. I was loaned this ages ago and kept not reading it because that plot summary did nothing for me. But in the end it had loads of things I dug. A bisexual protagonist! And no love triangle! Teenager characters who behaved like teenagers and not mini 35 year olds! An ambiguous end!

Caution: if you dislike ambiguity in your resolutions the lack of explanations in this one will probably make you want to bite people, but it really worked for me, better than probably any more definite conclusion could have.

The House on Half Moon Street is Victorian set crime novel featuring a transgender man as its hero. Not a woman dressing as man to escape the restrictions placed on woman at the time (those are good too, its just not what this is...) but an actual trans guy, although poor Leo (formally Charlotte) doesn't have that language for it. And it is so good. It's apparently the first in a series and I for one cannot wait.

Content warning, because forewarned is forearmed: there is a very brief scene where our hero is raped, because I know that might be a deal breaker for a lot of people.

Provenance was... I guess it was nice to see what humanity is like outside the Radch, and maybe I liked the Imperial Radch trilogy a little less than everybody else (I actually remember very little about them, although it was only a couple of years ago that I read them) but this was just, kind of, fine.

Mostly I use tumblr as a way of getting notified as to whenever two female characters are going to make out in a movie or on tv, which was how I came to see the trailer for Tell it to the Bees staring Holliday Grainger and Anna Pacquin. And I immediately went and read the book, set in post-war Britain where a single mother falls in love with the local lady doctor; it has a happy ending and is de-frickin-lightful.

Zadie Smith is smarter than I am. I mean, I already knew that. But her essay collection Feel Free makes it clear that she's smarter than me by the same order of magnitude as I'm smarter than my dog. I was really impressed by her take on the brexit vote, and when she was talking about Get Out or Key & Peele it was almost like we shared a common language, but then she got onto modern art or experimental film... Zadie Smith is smarter than I am, and it makes for an impressive collection but not necessarily an enjoyable one.

I don't always remember that I like Roxane Gay's writing, because every time I finish one of her books I'm so raw that I need, like, a year to recover. But then I go back, because her writing is like...cauterising a wound.Dangerous Women, her collection of short stories is the same: beautifully written, deeply upsetting.

Content warning: sexual violence. whoa boy, sexual violence.

Who is Vera Kelly? is an understated, low-key spy novel about a lesbian (bisexual? Vera thinks of herself as a homosexual but sleeps with a guy more than once during the book, so) CIA operative in Buenos Aires on the eve of the Argentine revolution. It's good, but it's low low-key. If you go in expecting James Bond then you will be disappointed.

My favourite bit was the flashback to Vera's first time in a lesbian bar where no one will talk to her because they all think she's a cop. That's what I'm going to chose to believe from now on: everyone thinks I'm a cop.

The Photographer is a perfectly serviceable tartan noir. I mean that in the most neutral possible way.

(Graphic Novel:

Batwoman: The Many Arms of Death

Heh. Didn't love. It's been suggested to me that maybe I'd like the earlier run of Batwoman better. Or Batgirl.)

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Fic What I Have Written Lately [Jun. 30th, 2018|12:06 am]
I have been trying to be more selective in signing up for exchanges this year, only signing up for the ones I'm genuinely excited to do and where I have potentially good matches, rather than just doing them for the sake of doing them. And I was dead keen on doing both the Person of Interest exchange and Fandom5k, but they were both due on the same day. Yikes.

Because Fandom5k has a five thousand word minimum - and more and more my fics are creeping up to being around about that length, but having to write that many words is a different matter - I kept pushing writing my POI exchange fic back and back in favour of the longer fic.

And my POI exchange recipient had a bunch of different requests, none of which were for Root/Shaw - one of my gimme, could write them with my eyes closed pairings - which in retrospect I was grateful for because it made me actually consider their other requests: one of which was for a fic about female!Harold Finch.

I was so sure I could write a genderswapped Finch fic in about two days. Spoiler: I couldn't. The problem was that, although I love always-a-girl fics, I don't often write them because I don't actually think that deeply about the dudes in my canons. Harold is fine; he's there and he's necessary for the premise of the show to work, but I've never actually cared about him, and it's all the same to me whether he's a force ghost at the end of the finale or off to live happily ever after in Italy with Grace,

My fic was a mess come the deadline. I usually don't like that week after the deadline but before reveals - if I have written a thing I want people to scritch me behind the ears and tell me what a clever little fic writer I am right away - but, boy, was I grateful for it this time as I entirely rewrote my fic while doing some frantic rewatching and trying to come up with a unified theory of Harold Finch; trying to figure out the ways that Harriet Finch would be different and yet the same as Harold.

In the end the story I wrote could easily have been titled Harold Finch and the Unexamined Male Privilege. I did not title it that, instead I titled it:

Birds of the Eastern Seaboard (Person of Interest; female!Harold Finch; 1.4k)
Harriet Finch is an extremely private woman.

While I was procrastinating on that fic, I was plugging away (read: putting off and panicking) at my Fandom5k fic. See, my request had been for a GoT Modern AU, possibly including Sansa/Margaery or Dany/Yara; which was both entirely in my wheelhouse and paralysis inducingly vague. And because none of my recipient's more specific prompts spoke to me - if I've learned nothing else from this exchange it's that you can write one thousand and one words of something you're not feeling, but for upwards of five thousand you have to be into it - I started revisiting modern AUs that I'd started and abandoned for whatever reason.

And ages ago I'd started writing an all-female GoT West Wing!fusion, mostly because I wanted to use the title The Crackpots and These Women, and I could never make it work, mostly because there's only so far you can believably age characters up and those characters old enough to realistically slot into the world of the West Wing aren't ones I'm interested in writing about (*cough*Stannis*cough*).

But I dug it out and went: wait, what if instead of being president Dany's a mayor, and what if instead of being a straight up West Wing fusion, it's a weird AU smush up of Game of Thrones, The West Wing, Veep, and The Thick of It? And voila:

The Crackpots and These Women (Game of Thrones; Sansa/Margaery, background Dany/Yara; 8k)
"You're in charge of press relations," Yara told Margaery, gesturing to Sansa. "Relate."

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May Booklog; or, well, that was disappointing [May. 29th, 2018|12:32 pm]

The Queens of Innis Lear - Tessa Gratton
Down Girl: the logic of misogyny - Kate Manne
Only Human - Sylvain Neuvel
The Covert Captain - Jeannelle M. Ferreira

The Queens of Innis Lear is a female focused fantasy retelling of King Lear. Sounds right up my alley, right? Except whatever seed of promise it has quickly gets buried in tediously overwritten prose and at least three hundred unnecessary pages. Needed a good hack-and-slash editing.

Okay, reading Down Girl was my own fault. I'd seen something about the book somewhere and come away with the impression that it was for general audiences. It is not. And when I realised that instead of putting it down and seeking out something more my speed I ploughed on through hundreds of pages of moral philosophy. I don't disagree with anything Manne says about misogyny as the law enforcement arm of the patriarchy, but I also understand a lot better why Chidi Anagonye ended up in the Bad Place.

The law of diminishing returns is strong with The Themis Files. The first book in the series was outstanding, the second was fair-to-middling. By the time we get to Only Human... Oh, dear. The ending is unsatisfying, and the author has gotten locked into the format (which worked so well in book one!) of presenting everything in the form of interviews. Except by book three they're not interviews. They're just two characters who know each other well talking. Seriously, that's not an interview. It's a conversation. Stop it.

The Covert Captain is SO BAD, YOU GUYS. It's about a woman who's been disguised as a man in the army for years and when she returns to England she falls for her commanding officer's sister. And I am 100% the audience for a book with that plot, and if it were any good at all I would surely be reccing it to high heaven, but alas it is SO, SO BAD. It is bad on a technical word handling, sentence structure level. It is bad on a characterisation level; can we see how the fiancée got from freaking out that her intended is a woman to being totally cool with it? Does the character who spent 10+ years disguised as her dead brother have any thoughts about gender or identity? No, okay then. It is bad on a plot level; never mind dealing with the gender reveal because now here's a long lost brother! Never mind that! Now they've all got scarlet fever!

*insert obligatory whine about how shite f/f romances are here*

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