Open Thread: Reflections on a Backhoe


Ok, so technically it's actually reflections of a backhoe on an estuary, but "Reflections on a Backhoe" sounds more poetical, like I'm writing an ode that resulted from thinking about backhoes.

If accuracy is the goal then something with this title should be the result of me pointing the camera at the backhoe itself, probably one or more of its shiny surfaces (the windows seem promising) and then taking a picture of other objects as seen reflected off of the backhoe's surfaces.  But why be literal?

Pretty picture.  *points*

*kicks all logical and linguistic complications under the furniture while people look at the picture.*

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Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Political season reminder: please take any stuff on the election to the politics space on The Slacktiverse.

Repost: Endangering Girls For Fun And Profit!

[Ana's Note: By popular demand, this is a re-post of an old deconstruction, partly to have content while I struggle with my ongoing disability challenges and partly so that newcomers can comment on old conversations.

The original post is here. I have not edited the content.



[Content Note: Violence, Deadly Natural Disasters, Small Animals]

Narnia Recap: Peter, Susan, Lucy, and the Beavers are traveling to the place where they expect to find Aslan. Edmund has been taken captive by the White Witch, who is attempting to intercept the other children.

The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, Chapter 12: Peter's First Battle

   WHILE THE DWARF AND THE WHITE Witch were saying this, miles away the Beavers and the children were walking on hour after hour into what seemed a delicious dream. Long ago they had left the coats behind them. And by now they had even stopped saying to one another, "Look! there's a kingfisher," or "I say, bluebells!" or "What was that lovely smell?" or "Just listen to that thrush!" [...]
   And after the thaw had been going on for some time they all realized that the Witch would no longer be able to use her sledge. After that they didn't hurry so much and they allowed themselves more rests and longer ones.

Open Thread: Road


Just a picture of pavement.

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Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Political season reminder: please take any stuff on the election to the politics space on The Slacktiverse.

Promotion: Poison Kiss Audio Book Now Available

[Note: ACX doesn't let me know when my book will go "live", so I'm writing this in advance.]


Poison Kiss is now available as an audiobook from Audible and iTunes! The book is narrated by the magnificent S. Qiouyi Lu, who is a truly wonderful narrator and does an amazing job with all the voices in the book. I immensely enjoyed working with em, and I hope ei and I will be able to work together on future Earthside books.

I may be uploading the book to other outlets, based on reader need; please contact me if you have a preferred outlet you use where you would prefer to buy from. I will also (eventually) have a direct-from-author store up.

If you like Poison Kiss and can leave a review, that would be amazing and so very helpful to me and S. Thank you!



Online outlets carrying Poison Kiss are being updated with relevant links to the audiobook as we speak--as well as with a sneak look at the cover for the next book in the series! Amazon and Smashwords are already updated; I'm still working with B&N and other outlets. A reminder that Amazon does not automatically push updated material to your account; currently, you must send a specific request. Here are the steps to do so:

Step 1: Visit the Amazon Contact Form: https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/contact-us

Step 2: Pick "Contact by Email."

Step 3: Write the below text into the form and send.

Please push the ~latest updated version~ of this kindle book to my account, thank you.

Poison Kiss
by Ana Mardoll
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B018JOICT4

Metapost: Illness

[Content Note: Orlando]

I wanted to pop in to let everyone know I'm still alive. I've had an upper respiratory virus for over a week now and it's kicking my butt, but the doctor says I'll be fine with time.

I wanted to put up something about the Orlando event this weekend, but I don't have any words for how sad I am for us all. I wrote some stuff on twitter and some people said it helped, so I'll share here.

I love you all. Can everyone also give love to Chris, who puts up open threads for us? I do not know what I would do without her help. Thank you, Chris.

Open Thread: Light Pinkish Purple


The camera has always had some trouble with purple, so if it looks all pink and no purple to you . . . that's why.  Not that this and its cohorts were nearly so purple as some, hence the modifiers "light" and "pinkish".

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Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Political season reminder: please take any stuff on the election to the politics space on The Slacktiverse.

Writings: Super Cool Survey

Here is a survey I have made for taking: link. It is for a super secret project that is actually maybe not that secret given that I'm blasting out surveys.

Title of survey:

Beta Reading for Transgender Fantasy Collection.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Should I take this survey if I'm cisgender or think I might be?

Yes! Take my awesome survey. I spent time on it. It is pretty. You are pretty. We are all pretty together.

2. Can I make a suggestion about your gender options?

Yes! I can still edit the survey at this stage (I think) and also feedback is important.

3. Are you doing okay today, Ana?

Absolutely! I'm a little tired. I haven't slept recently. Everything is fine.

Open Thread: Twisty Leaves


It must have been five or six thousand degrees.  There on the side of the road was a plant and metal shop that said it had pie.  Or perhaps it was just a heat induced waking dream shared by Lonespark, myself, and my camera.

We stopped in and looked around.  They had everything.  Everything that included metal wings in various shapes and sizes, enough peacock stuff to make a shrine to Hera, flowers in all colors one could imagine and perhaps even a few colors one couldn't.  Plants with leaves as big as me.  Those glass reflective sphere things in multiple colors.  Pie.  Duck sculptures.  Dog sculptures.  Eagle sculptures.

Petrified bisected chambered nautiliplay.

At one point Lonespark asked if I'd seen the twisty leaves.  I hadn't.  Above you see the twisty leaves.

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Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Political season reminder: please take any stuff on the election to the politics space on The Slacktiverse.

Open Thread: Yellow and Red


I find I have nothing to say.

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Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Political season reminder: please take any stuff on the election to the politics space on The Slacktiverse.

Open Thread: Fallen Flowers


Rhododendron.  My grandparent's farm, where my sister lives now, has one that's nearly as big as the two story house it's next to.

In this pictures the light sky, fence, and driveway in the background screwed up the color balance something awful and I had to try to fix it on computer.  The point though, the mass of flowers that have fallen to the ground under the tree/bush/thing should be clear enough.

Sometimes there's a windless fall and you get a similar effect; wherever there's an isolated deciduous tree there's a vaguely circle shaped zone of brightly colored leaves around it.

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Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Political season reminder: please take any stuff on the election to the politics space on The Slacktiverse.

Repost: Good Kings, Bad Laws

[Ana's Note: By popular demand, this is a re-post of an old deconstruction, partly to have content while I struggle with my ongoing disability challenges and partly so that newcomers can comment on old conversations.

The original post is here. I have not edited the content.



[Content Note: Physical Abuse, Slavery]

Narnia Recap: Peter, Susan, Lucy, and the Beavers are traveling to the place where they expect to find Aslan. Along the way they have seen proof that the Witch's spell is weakening, in the form of Father Christmas who supplied them with food and presents.

The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, Chapter 11: Aslan Is Nearer

Edmund fans will be disappointed to note that this is the last chapter in the book where Child!Edmund will be allowed a voice. Say your fond farewells now.*

Metapost: Thank You

I want to thank everyone who has donated this year and particularly this month. Every donation is deeply appreciated and helps out. Thank you.

Narnia: What More Do You Want?

[Narnia Content Note: Racism, Violence, Forced Marriage, Misogyny]

Narnia Recap: Shasta spent a night among the tombs and now we get to see what Aravis has been doing with herself.

Obligatory note about racism, intent, and Lewis is here.

The Horse and His Boy, Chapter 7: Aravis in Tashbaan

Hey-o, everyone! I have been simultaneously looking forward to this chapter (because Aravis! and Lasaraleen!) while also dreading it. Because, and I want to make this very clear, I have white privilege--as do a lot of our readers, I think. So I want to move forward carefully here and it might be a good time for everyone to think about re-visiting the Obligatory Note about racism linked above. Right, let's jump in.

WHAT HAD REALLY HAPPENED WAS THIS. When Aravis saw Shasta hurried away by the Narnians and found herself alone with two horses who (very wisely) wouldn’t say a word, she never lost her head even for a moment. She grabbed Bree’s halter and stood still, holding both the horses; and though her heart was beating as hard as a hammer, she did nothing to show it. As soon as the Narnian lords had passed she tried to move on again. 

Okay, that's a fairly practical solution. It doesn't really address all the points that have already been brought up about how the horses shouldn't be nearly so easy to disguise as all this, but we have two horses and a girl and they're doing their best here.

But before she could take a step, another crier (“Bother all these people,” thought Aravis) was heard shouting out, “Way, way, way! Way for the Tarkheena Lasaraleen!” and immediately, following the crier, came four armed slaves and then four bearers carrying a litter which was all a-flutter with silken curtains and all a-jingle with silver bells and which scented the whole street with perfumes and flowers. After the litter, female slaves in beautiful clothes, and then a few grooms, runners, pages, and the like. And now Aravis made her first mistake.

I... I'm all about weird coincidences in novels, but we may have crossed a line at this point. Not only did Shasta end up in the right city on the right day at the right moment in the exact right spot to be mistaken for his long-lost twin brother, but now directly behind the Narnians is one of the few people Aravis knows well enough to be able to spot her out of a crowd. I would have put Lasaraleen a few more feet down the road and a paragraph or two later, but what do I know about dramatic pacing.

Open Thread: Orange


Flowers as my school.  Taken the last day I'll set foot on the campus as a student.

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Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Political season reminder: please take any stuff on the election to the politics space on The Slacktiverse.

Metapost: The Toast

Today I learned that The Toast is closing. I completely respect, understand, and honor their decision while also grieving deeply for a truly great feminist humor site. I know a lot of the readers here also read there, and there was tremendous overlap in interests between our sites. This is a space for folks to grieve if they need and want.

I have a lot of feelings about this, not least coupled with the guilt I feel about my own slower posting schedule. I actually am here--I read all the comments! and love them!--but I'm acutely aware that my "output" has drastically dropped. This is not due to burnout so much as lack of time in the day--I'm writing a lot, but it's "book" writing and therefore not blog-posts. Balancing the two has been very difficult for me; the mental "switching" between the two forms of writing is hard.

I've thought about posting fic on the site just to have content, but the few times I've posted fic I don't think it caught a lot of interest--the overlap between people looking to read nice shiny fic vs. people looking for bookish deconstruction may not actually be 1:1. Possibly I need to just practice switching until I'm better at it and go from there, I don't know. I will try, at any rate.

Anyway. This is a notice to let people know that I'm still here. *hugs* to everyone who wants them.

Open Thread: May shower on an April flower


One of many such pictures taken on May 3rd.

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Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Political season reminder: please take any stuff on the election to the politics space on The Slacktiverse.

Repost: Gender Essentialism and Female War Veterans

[Ana's Note: By popular demand, this is a re-post of an old deconstruction, partly to have content while I struggle with my ongoing disability challenges and partly so that newcomers can comment on old conversations.

The original post is here. I have not edited the content.



Narnia Recap: Edmund has slipped out of the Beavers house and has reported to the Witch's home. The other children and the Beavers have realized that they are in grave danger.

The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, Chapter 10: The Spell Begins to Break

Earlier this year, I read a wonderful book called "Cinderella Ate My Daughter" which is sort of a half-personal, half-serious account of one woman's struggles with gendered toys while trying to raise her daughter to be strong, independent, and happy. I enjoyed the book immensely, and I recommend it highly. Today's post is also about gender essentialism and gendered toys and gender assumptions and a lot of other gendery things in the Chronicles of Narnia. And so I want to make some disclaimers first.

Promotion: If I Was Your Girl

In case you missed it, Meredith Russo's If I Was Your Girl is available for purchase today. It's a YA novel with a trans girl protagonist, written by a trans author who is also my friend on Twitter and generally awesome.



I haven't read this book yet, but it's so high on my reading list it's basically #1 right now. Meredith is sweet and funny and clever, and we need so many more books written by trans authors. I'm really excited to see If I Was Your Girl published and I hope we see lots more from Meredith.

Open Thread: Snowgrass


[image] I live in New England; it was Tuesday.

I'm sure there are a plethora of places you could use to replace "New England" in that sentence and end up with similar Tuesdays.

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Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Political season reminder: please take any stuff on the election to the politics space on The Slacktiverse.

Narnia: Passing Time

[Narnia Content Note: Racism, Violence]

Narnia Recap: Shasta has run away from the Narnians.

Obligatory note about racism, intent, and Lewis is here.

The Horse and His Boy, Chapter 6: Shasta Among the Tombs

Haha, did you think we were going to see Aravis any time soon? I DID TOO, but we were wrong. It would seem that Lewis has a really hard time being crowbarred out from the white male point of view character he's imprinted on.

Okay, I will freely admit I am starting out snarky here. It is a valid writing choice to follow Shasta's path out all the way to the "dead-end" and then backtrack to take up Aravis' path. It's not a writing path I would use here, and it reminds me personally too much of video game mechanics where split-the-party mechanics end with everyone hanging out in a big waiting room, but it's a valid choice. However, I went to sleep last night thinking "well, at least I get to write about Aravis in the morning" and that isn't panning out, so y'all get snark.

  SHASTA RAN LIGHTLY ALONG THE ROOF on tiptoes. It felt hot to his bare feet. He was only a few seconds scrambling up the wall at the far end and when he got to the corner he found himself looking down into a narrow, smelly street, and there was a rubbish heap against the outside of the wall just as Corin had told him. Before jumping down he took a rapid glance round him to get his bearings. Apparently he had now come over the crown of the island-hill on which Tashbaan is built. Everything sloped away before him, flat roofs below flat roofs, down to the towers and battlements of the city’s Northern wall. Beyond that was the river and beyond the river a short slope covered with gardens. But beyond that again there was something he had never seen the like of—a great yellowish-gray thing, flat as a calm sea, and stretching for miles. On the far side of it were huge blue things, lumpy but with jagged edges, and some of them with white tops. “The desert! the mountains!” thought Shasta.

I said waaaaay back in a previous chapter that there are glimpses and pieces where I feel Shasta was channeling an earlier ideal of a City Street Rat. I don't know if there was an earlier draft (seems unlikely) or if Lewis got the idea from 1,001 Nights (along with much of the rest of the aesthetic) or if it's only there for me, but there's these glimpses of a Shasta that isn't our Shasta. He's good at stealing, and good at not being caught. Now he's running over roofs like a pro despite never before having left the ground.

He's also getting his bearing pretty quickly, given that this place really ought to feel impossibly big to him. I mean, he's lived his entire life among rural villages of maybe a few hundred people but now he's capable of taking in at a glance where he is and how to get to the meeting-point they've already agreed upon. I'm impressed, and I don't know whether to chalk this up to spotty characterization (Shasta is what the narrative needs him to be), racist characterization (Shasta is the best because he's white), or my pet theory that this is a glimpse of an older, earlier, more competent and morally-gray Shasta who was a proper "city pauper" in contrast to Corin's princeliness.

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