Twilight: Selfish Love

Content Note: Nice Guyism

Twilight Recap: Edward has explained to Bella that he and his family are "vampire vegetarians" who don't want to be murdering monsters.  

Twilight, Chapter 9: Theory

Every so often, there are pieces of Twilight where I'm not quite sure if I like what's going on in text or not. (I know, blasphemy, but stick with me here.) Chapter 9 is one of those pieces because while Edward is being an utterly self-absorbed, selfish, oblivious jerkface, the narrative almost seems to accept that he's those things. And to maybe call him out as though those things aren't wonderful, romantic, delightful character traits in a lover.

Open Thread: Four Elements

What is your favorite element of the Traditional Four (water, earth, wind, fire), and why?

(I've always found this question to be incredibly tough. Multiple answers are allowed and encouraged, as well as the ability to fill in new elements as needed.)

OPEN THREAD BELOW!

Deals: Aeon Timeline

Alright, writers and writettes, for those of you who work on Apple products, this is to let you know that the super-cool-I-want-it-so-badly-I-can-taste-it Aeon Timeline program (which syncs with Scrivener, and which allows you to track ages and events in characters' lives, and which can even handle totally-made-up fantasy calendars) is on sale this week.

As a special offer for Scrivener users, enter the coupon code "SCRIV TIMELINE" for a 20% discount (sale price $US32) until July 15.

For those of you who are mired in Windows like me,we get to keep using cuneiform and stone tablets like the sad little worms we are. *sob* However! The Aeon FAQ says to email if you're interested in a Windows version, so they can gauge interest, so by all means, please do so! (You can tell 'em Ana sent ya.)

Disability: Proselytizing To Sick People

[Content Note: Surgery, Religion, Nazis, Swearing]

Ana's Note: If you are related to me, do not read this post. I'm serious.

Two days before my surgery, a member of my family wrote me asking if I was "right with God".

Surgery is a funny thing. My husband and I had spent the day before receiving this email at the hospital, meeting the doctors, finalizing the surgical approach plan, receiving last minute instructions, and being generally cleared for a procedure so invasive that my husband anxiously called it "rebooting the human body". And in the days between that one and my surgery, I fell into a truly uncharacteristic lull.

Author Interview: E. Ozols on "Holly, The Captain, and Handsome Jack"

Ana: Today we have E. Ozols introducing their book, Holly, The Captain, and Handsome Jack. I haven't read this book myself, but E. Ozols was kind enough to agree to guest blog about their book to any readers who might be interested in the subject. E. Ozols, how would you describe your book to your prospective readers? In broad terms, what is your book about?

E. Ozols: Thanks for giving me this opportunity, Ana! My book takes place in colonial Williamsburg and is about a young woman begins to fall for an older captain when a famous outlaw creates a stir in the town and winds up creating tension between the two.

Ana: What themes does your book explore and what do you hope the reader will take away from the experience? Is there a particular feeling or experience that you hope to evoke in the reader? Essentially, do you hope your book will mean to a reader?

E. Ozols: The basic story for Holly, The Captain, and Handsome Jack is pretty straightforward, but I would like to believe that the characters are not. They are each conflicted between their desires and abilities on the one hand, and societal constraints on the other hand. How each character winds up dealing with these conflicts, and how voluntary they are in these dealings, differs from person to person.

Ana: What prompted you to write this book and did you have a specific inspiration in mind? Were you influenced by a certain author or work that inspired you to add your voice to this genre? Besides the boatloads of money and rockstar fame, what motivated you to write this book? 

E. Ozols: I've come up with a million book ideas in the past, but had a hard time finishing any of them. Usually my pen couldn't keep pace with my imagination. To write this one, I decided to write out the entire plot as an outline, then I would write whichever chapter I felt like working on. This made getting through the writing process a lot less frustrating and more enjoyable. To give myself a real push, I decided to use this story for my National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) entry in 2009. It was my first year making it to the imaginary finish line.

Ana: If you could compare your book to any other existing works, which ones would it be and why? If the one thing you could say to a prospective reader was, "If you like X, you'll love my book!", which work would be invoked so that a reader could judge whether or not your book is their cup of tea?

E. Ozols: I would never claim to be as clever or talented as my hero, Jane Austen, but I would like to think that the beginning of my book somewhat resembles her novels. But while my heroine, Holly Burrows, has all the intelligence and feistiness of Elizabeth Bennet, she is willing to go one step further, outside the bounds of propriety and maybe even bordering on adventure. In this sense, I think my novel resembles my childhood favorite, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi.

Ana: Is this your first or only published work, or have you published other books? If you have published other books, how do they compare to this one? Do you have any more books planned, either as a follow-up to this one, or as a completely different book or genre?

E. Ozols: I have completed a couple other books, but this is the first one that I have chosen to publish. My other novels are more complicated in style and subject matter, and so I wanted to go through the experience of editing and publishing with a story that would lend itself well to the process. My first completed (yet unpublished) book was an autobiographical account of a hiking expedition gone awry, and was written as a wedding gift to one of my fellow hikers. I've also finished, but will likely never publish, a stream-of-consciousness autobiographical depiction of a very difficult and loss-filled period in my life. On the other end of the spectrum, my most likely next publication will be a nearly-complete fictional and humorous tale of various odd people at a Renaissance Festival.

Ana: Where can readers obtain a copy of your book for them to enjoy? How can they contact you with any thoughts or questions? And do you have a means by which they can "sign up" to be notified when your next book comes available?

E. Ozols: Hard copies are available from CreateSpace, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. The only place to currently buy an e-reader version is from Amazon. I have author pages on Facebook and Goodreads.

Ana: Thank you. I understand you have the first chapter of your book available as an excerpt for interested readers? Is there anything else you wish to add for our readers?

E. Ozols: Amazon's "Look Inside" feature allows readers to experience the first few chapters of my book. I hope everyone enjoys the story!

If you are an indie author interested in being interviewed, please read the interview policy here.

Open Thread: In The Middle Of The Week?!

Because we needed a completely open one.

depizan, all the prayers and happy thoughts sent your way as you deal with the fire in your city. I am so worried about you. Please take care.

Anything and everything below.

Deals: Audible $5 and Charlotte Doyle

Audible is having a sale where a huge heap of their audio books are $5 if you're a member.

One of the books on sale that caught my eye and has been mentioned as a childhood favorite here -- I certainly read and enjoyed it, but it's been years and I remember it being bittersweet -- is The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle.

Metapost: Disqus Hiccups

Usually, I receive an email for every comment that goes up on the blog. Today, I have receive zero, which makes it significantly harder to keep up with everything everyone says. (How do you all do it? That Current Comments widget is a life-saver, thank you Chris. Well, and there's the actual feed itself.)

Anyway, I've reported the error to Disqus and in the meantime if someone asks me something directly and I don't answer, there's a very good chance I just didn't see the comment. As always, the Gmail icon in the top left corner is open for anyone to use.

Narnia: Lashing Out At Little People

Content Note: Ableism

Narnia Recap: Trumpkin has been sent to the ruins of Cair Paravel in the hopes of collecting any help summoned by Queen Susan's horn.

Prince Caspian, Chapter 8: How They Left The Island

And now we're finally done with the backstory of Prince Caspian and we can come back to the Pevensies who we left behind so many chapters ago. Did you miss them? They missed you.

Open Thread: Well, There Went My Year

Content Note: Rape, Pedophilia

Apparently TVTropes -- which, as many of you know, is my personal utopia -- is going to be vastly less useful in the future:

Metapost: Index Clean-up

The deconstruction page is now less messy because it is divided into multiple index pieces. I think this will be more approachable, plus people can now add to the FAQ material as they feel is needed in the comments.

Please also note that the closed deconstructions -- like Claymore and Narnia, Book 1 -- have downloadable versions for you to read on your eReader. The downloads are free, but if the Mark Does Stuff store has accustomed you to paying for off-line content, there is a donations page that I put up by request way back forever ago. It's got one-time donations and Shakesville-style monthly subscriptions, but please do not feel obligated. I'm just letting people know what is where.

Metapost: An Honest Answer

Well, that was a lot of fun yesterday, wasn't it? Whew. I, uhmmm, apologize for the meltdown.

First, I want to thank everyone so much, so very very much, for all the kind things said in that thread. I'm planning to print that out and post it on all the wall space around my computer for the next time I'm feeling down. Thank you, a thousand times over.

Second, I feel that I owe everyone some background. I found out two weeks ago that Husband would have to travel for two days next week for work. I figured I'd be all better from spinal surgery by then and he didn't really have a choice so... yeah. Yesterday I found out that the two days next week (starting this Monday) will be four days, and I simultaneously noticed that I still can't get out of bed or go to the bathroom without help. So I'm a little on edge worrying about that. I also just found out from my Mom that four of the eight medications I've been on for almost three weeks are powerful depressants that have a cumulative affect over time. So apparently I'm very sad right now, and I apologize that got dumped on you.

Husband and I had a long talk about all this last night, and I had some topical dreams as well and I've come to the semi-following conclusions:

#1. I need to recognize my depression and deal with it. That means walking away from comments if they're too much for me to deal with and not fretting over "but the space safeness!" while I go gather spoons. I apologize in advance if this policy hurts the commenters with fewer spoons available -- I hope I can ask everyone to be extra vigilant and helpful about safe space moderating.

Recognizing depression also means walking away from the blog schedule for the moment and taking time to read and recharge and sleep. We're entirely pre-posted through to July 8th, and after that we might have some open threads while I catch up. I have a whole thread of you wonderful people reassuring me that that's okay so I'm going to go on a limb here and believe you. (That's hard for a workaholic like me!)

#2. And I really do mean that I'm going to have to shut down the computer today and stop pre-posting like lives are at stake here, and I need to go get some perspective. I have been amazingly (and unhealthily) wrapped up in this thing where I've not "missed" a Twilight day since I began in 2010 (except for that one week where I found out Dad had cancer) and I've got to recognize that this isn't some kind of contest against myself and that worlds won't end if I miss a post or two per month. Or if I post something different that day!

#3. With regards to schedule change-ups, that also means that some days there will be posts about other things instead of the regular things. There may be Disney posts on "Twilight days". There may be Hunger Games posts on "Narnia days". This hurts my schedule-loving soul, but it ensures (I hope) that I can't be burnt out by any one topic or any one fan base getting to me. (Speaking of fan bases, I am never mentioning ASOIAF again. No offense, ASOIAF fan base! It's not you, it's me. Husband is disappointed, but okay with that.)

#4. Twilight I do intend to change up so that one chapter is covered in a month-or-less, depending on richness of content. This is merely because I want to get to Breaking Dawn someday and some weeks it's hard pointing out the same flaws as the last week. (At least Left Behind has phones to mock!)

#5. I realized yesterday that I have needs that I've been neglecting in favor of the blog, specifically, reading and writing. Last night it hit me that these things are not an either/or with blogging. The reading results in reviews, which I've always just seen as "filler" posts, but which I now think can be conversations in their own right.

My fictional writing I have hesitated to share with the board because it feels very personal and what if I fail and who wants to read that anyway, but I have a whole thread of people saying they'd read what I wrote on freaking-potato-farming, so I'm going to take a risk here and fold some writing exercises into blog posts. This way, I can get some writing done, I can still feel good about marking off the days on my Blog Calendar and providing content, and maybe we can all still be happy. I hope so.

#6. I have revised the Comment Policy. Here are the relevant new bits:

This is a safe-space, single-person blog run by a woman with a full-time job and an all-the-time disability. My goal is to "cheerfully read too much into things" into order to have a jumping-off point for feminist discussions about modern society and privilege.

If you find that a piece of art you love is being discussed here as problematic, read this first. Know that I'm not judging you, nor am I condemning the author or the work. Recognize that I am only using this work as a starting place to discuss something deeper in our society. Please leave behind any baggage you may be holding from other discussions where someone else, somewhere else did unfairly judge you. Read this and think about how your post may affect others. And then, I encourage you to join the conversation, and thoughtfully discuss social issues.

Thank you all, again. I'm going to go take a break for the rest of the day, but I love you all. And I am sorry for the meltdown and changes and everything else. Thank you for sticking with me through all this. Thank you.

Recommends: Hufflepuff House

I love this post more than I love most things.

I like it for a lot of reasons, and very particularly for the Work Is Awesome And Is Undervalued In Comparison To Flashy Talent (because heck yes, this is a thing that should stop now), but I also quite frankly like it because it's a post about Choice.

I haven't read Harry Potter yet (I'm working on it!) but I've watched the movies. I've been distressed and disturbed by the direct family connections between who goes into what house and the almost predestined seeming system: go into the one house, you will be evil; go into another, you'll be a protagonist; go into the others, you'll be invisible. This made me sad, on a lot of levels, and whether the predestination was coming from Nature or Nurture, I didn't like it.

But if the children are sorted by choice, by their values, I like it more. It strips away that predestination and grants agency.

Though it makes me think, and I love that Will's post made me think this at all, and it's this: I'm not the person I was when I was a child. When I was a child, I was a very odd combination of personality impulses that I either inherited biologically or glommed off my parents through familiarity but (more to the point), my philosophy about life and work and the future and that which was important was totally different. And "totally different" in a "totally WRONG" way, by which I mean to say, I'm kind of ashamed of some of the things I thought and believed way back then.

I want the Harry Potter verse to grant agency to the children. I'm just curious as to how that insularity for those formative years works. It took me two decades to wake up one morning and realize the ultra-conservative Christian world I inhabited didn't fit me any more and never would again, and I didn't even have to deal with the trauma of tossing out all my clothes for a new color scheme.

So what I'm saying is: childhood is hard and Will deserves all the Tumblr fame ever. 

RECOMMENDS! What have you been thinking about these days? 

Metapost: eReading and Writing Polls

Some polls for my benefit when planning posts.

Do you read electronic books?
  
pollcode.com free polls 

Are you interested in writing and self-publishing?
  
pollcode.com free polls 

Metapost: An Open Question

Ramblites, I don't really know what to do right now, and maybe you can help me.

I started this site with every intention of talking about social issues via mainstream literature. My very first Twilight post -- the announcement one -- stated that my purpose wasn't about AUTHOR BAD or about FANBASE BAD but rather about looking at popular things in a new light and to see how they influence our thoughts and society around us. I have always been about "cheerfully reading too much into things" -- looking extra close and super hard at books and seeing the Fed Ex arrows there, but without blame on anyone. Not the authors. Not the fans. Cheerful. Happy. Fluffy bunnies.

I have tried, gods know I have tried, to never deviate from that message. I have stated practically once per post that "to each hir own" and that everyone can like their own thing without censure. I have written a whole post about this philosophy just to be clear. I have spent literally hours of my life tweaking posts that were largely "good enough" so that they will be absolutely perfect; agonizing over adding "could"s and "can"s and "in my opinion"s to make it absolutely, totally clear that I'm not trying to universalize my opinions and experiences.

And it's not working.

Oh, nobody -- astonishingly -- has gotten particularly hurt or angry over Twilight. This actually does surprise me; I thought for sure we'd get a swarm of angry Twilight fans at some point explaining why Edward is the dreamiest dreamboat ever. But I cannot talk about Narnia without someone telling me that I'm not respecting the author because of his cultural upbringing or that I'm making too much of an obvious fairytale or that I'm forgetting to factor in obscure religious beliefs. And I cannot make a point about life debts in literature ranging from Game of Thrones to Star Wars without feeling like I'm being accused of making people feel bad for liking what they like.

And all this when I'm not trying to criticize these books! I'm trying to talk about society through the books! The books are not on trial here! Society is the point of the discussion; the books are basically the flannel-graph that I use to make my points about society!

But no matter how hard I try to keep every post neutral and calm and thoughtful and "in my humble opinion only", I feel like I make one more person angry or sad or alienated every time I post, and I feel like I lose one more commenter, and I feel like I'm a shit human being at least once per piece.

And I don't know what to do about this.

I've tried tweaking the commenting rules to point out that I'm just one person, doing my best, and can everyone please be really nice and spend time thinking over their comment before posting and how it's going to sound to the person reading it on the other end. I've tried pointing out -- and gods do I feel like a whiner for doing so -- that I'm one person, undergoing major surgery, while my father has cancer, and I'm on a caseload of narcotics, and that it's really demoralizing spending 4+ hours writing a post only to have the whole thing eventually derail into how I'm a terrible person because I didn't take into consideration the fact that the author of whatever piece I'm dealing with had hir puppy die when zie was three and I've got to make allowances for that and therefore I'm not allowed to use their literature in order to point out modern social racism, sexism, ableism, whatever. Or that using said literature to point out same is hurtful to the readers here because it was their favorite book ever growing up and now I've made them feel bad for liking something that I used on the flannel-graph.

And there comes a point where I don't know what to do, or how to keep doing this. I don't know how to continue or start any discussion more controversial than Twilight, which is apparently either universally hated or has really laid-back fans. I cannot do a Song of Ice and Fire deconstruction, even though Husband would like me to, because I cannot handle years and years of people being hurt at me because of something someone else said to them about being a Martin fan. I am struggling to stick with the Narnia deconstruction, as much as I love it, because it feels like the last several posts have been long fights about what is and isn't fair game to analyze when it comes to Stuff Written By English Writers In The 1950s. I dare not do a Lord of the Rings deconstruction for similar reasons, even though I think there's a tremendous amount there to be said about race; I don't feel safe saying it. Because I know -- I know -- I'm going to hurt someone's feelings saying it and then I'm going to feel bad. Because that's what I do.

Tonight I hit complete full-throttle anxiety attack breakdown. I spent all day struggling to write a Twilight post while on heavy narcotics because otherwise there won't be one on 7/7/2012 and I will consider myself a personal failure. I've spent the last five months devoting every waking, non-working moment I have to being on the blog trying to keep up with my posting schedule, and I have spent that time feeling constantly behind schedule. I've given up casual reading, hobbyist reviewing, and professional writing to look after this blog and soothe everyone's feelings and get the posts out the door on time. And then I came home from a night out at On The Border -- a night out in incredible searing pain but I'll be damned if I'm going to be confined to the house forever, and I also have to deal with the fact that Husband is going out of town for FOUR DAYS next week and we literally do not know how I will get out of bed in the morning or feed myself while he is gone but he has to for work reason -- and I come home and there is a Bucket O' Hurt in my inbox.

And EVERY TIME someone posts a Bucket O' Hurt comment on my blog about how someone once yelled at them (except not really!) but that I remind them of the kind of person who COULD yell at them, that takes me at least -- at least -- an hour to politely respond, to apologize, and to nudge everyone back into safe space guidelines because it's pretty much impossible to spill a Bucket O' Hurt without spilling triggers all over the place too.

I don't know how to keep up with this. I don't know whether to recruit Shakesville-esque moderators, which I would hate because I would be inconveniencing others. I don't know whether to do a full Fred Clark-style withdrawal from the comments, which I would hate because then I lose the social interaction. I don't know whether to do a total Kate Harding-style shutdown-hiatus-archive and just embrace the burnout, which I would hate because I like blogging. I don't know whether to institute a Don't Fucking Get On My Tits comment policy and then whittle everyone down to a board of three commenters and maybe a dozen lurkers. I don't know whether to chuck the goddamn Tuesdays-Narnia-Thursdays-Random-Saturdays-Twilight schedule and just publish whatever I can whenever I can and deal with stuff when I have the spoons.

None of those options seem appealing to me.

And frankly I don't know what ya'll want either. I need you to tell me. For instance, I just wrote this today:

But since this is going to be kind of a "filler" day, it's as good a day to ask as any: How are you guys feeling about the Twilight deconstruction? We've been at this for well over a year now and we're averaging about two months per chapter, partly because I'm analyzing on such a microcosmic, line-by-line level. We're about to finish Chapter 9 in a book with 24 chapters; this means that we'll be done with this one book -- Twilight -- in approximately 2015. That seems kind of longish.

One possibility is to keep plowing forward at that snail's pace, but I'm not sure I have that level of endurance and to be quite frank, the comment numbers on the Twilight posts have been slipping, which tells me that you all aren't having as much fun anymore either. And I'm really not kidding when I say that it's the commenting that keeps me doing these deconstructions -- I'm here for the conversation and to know I'm entertaining and enriching people, not to metaphorically shout on the street corner that is the internet while people edge by and try not to make eye contact.


Another possibility is to ramp up the speed a little; it might not be possible to do one chapter a week, like with Narnia, but maybe we can cover one chapter in two weeks. The upside to this is that the material stays fresh, we keep moving at a good pace, and we might actually get to one of the other books in the series someday. The downside to this is that we're going to miss some stuff because I can't cover everything in the gargantuan posts, but ideally the stuff we miss will be little stuff. (Or you guys can help in the comments!)

The other downside to this compression is that (a) I come off as more negative overall (see: Narnia) since I don't have Nice Filler Days, and (b) the material takes me longer to write when it's covering a whole chapter of Fail rather than a few pages of Fail. Still, I think that would be better than handling Chapter 24 in 2015. But I need you guys to tell me what you think in the comments. (For all I know, you're all sick of Twilight and you want me to do something else. I won't know unless you tell me.)

Anyway, we'll go through this post as usual, and then I'll go see if I can't go do Chapter 10 in 1-2 posts as a comparison point (and since I pretty much have to pre-post all my material), and by THEN this post will have gone live and I can see what you all are thinking.

I'm losing commenters over this blog every time I talk about something other than Twilight. I'm losing online friends over it. I'm losing people because no matter how I try, I don't express my opinions carefully enough to not cause hurt and anger and pain. And that makes me feel like a colossal failure.

You tell me what you think I should do. Because I honestly don't know anymore and I'm at my wits' end. Do you want me to keep doing this or do you want me to quit? Do you want me to just stick to Twilight and leave everything else alone? Do you want me to just stay out or the comments and not read or respond to them? Honestly, openly, what do you want? I need to know. Because what I'm doing now... it's just not working and I've spent the last hour sobbing while writing this, which is not a good sign.

Disability: An Intersection of Privilege and Pain

[Content Note: Surgery, Pain, Infertility, Privilege]

Ana's Note: This would normally be a Twilight day, but I wanted to take some time to talk about my 5/29 surgery in a couple of rambly posts.

I am a disabled person. I have a worse-than-average spine, a great deal of pain as part of my daily lifestyle of walking-sitting-standing-breathing, and I go to hospitals for lengthy invasive surgical techniques every decade or two in order to glom some more metal bits on to my spine. I am sitting at my computer in a back brace as I write this post, hoping that I can get to the end of the post before my medication kicks in and renders me unconscious for another 4+ hours, as it has thrice daily since I came home from the hospital with a goody bag of pills. (I cannot tell you what a kink this has put in my productivity.)

Twilight: Open Thread (June 2012)

There will be a Twilight open thread today to allow some blog catching-up. Suggested topic:

How would the Twilight narrative change for you (if at all) if the author insisted that her motivation behind writing the story was to convey an explicitly unhealthy relationship that is magically redeemed by the power of love by the end? (As opposed to a perfect relationship from the get-go.)

Open Thread: Badges

As I keep banging on about it, you already know I've been reading a lot of Tudor history. I'm fascinated by the idea of having personal badges or crests -- of course, Anne Boleyn's badge was a falcon, and Katherine of Aragon had as her symbol a pomegranate.

If you had one animal, or one fruit, or one... anything really, to depict yourself as a sort of visual shorthand, what would you choose?

OPEN THREAD BELOW!

Feminism: Disproportionate Responses

[Content Note: Murder, Poison, Unwilling Abortion of a Pregnancy, Racism, Slavery]

We finished watching Game of Thrones last night, because I am determined to be a part of this social conversation even if it wrecks all my nice things, and plus because Husband really likes it. And I'm not going to talk about all the reasons I didn't like it! Because I've already tip-toed around THAT conversation before, and I am not looking for a repeat of:

  1. If you didn't like it, you're wrong because ART.
  2. If you didn't like it, you're wrong because BOOKS.
  3. If you didn't like it, you're wrong because FUTURE BOOKS.
  4. If you didn't like it, you shouldn't talk about it because SHUT UP.

Author Interview: Byron Wells on "Amalgam"

Ana: Today we have Byron Wells introducing their book, Amalgam, The Valaran Chronicles: Book 1. I haven't read this book myself, but Byron was kind enough to agree to guest blog about their book to any readers who might be interested in the subject. Byron, how would you describe your book to your prospective readers? In broad terms, what is your book about?

Byron: My book follows a young man named Hobs, who through a tragic accident meets Archon, a relic of the Valaran Empire. Everything he believes is challenged as a result of this encounter and he must rise above who he was to save his planet.

Ana: What themes does your book explore and what do you hope the reader will take away from the experience? Is there a particular feeling or experience that you hope to evoke in the reader? Essentially, do you hope your book will mean to a reader?

Byron: The book covers a wide range of conflicts, one of which is bullying - which every young adult can relate to in one form or another. Another theme is challenging who you are, and willingness to learn new things. Finally, we take a look at how Hobs manages anger in the face of critical challenges.

Ana: What prompted you to write this book and did you have a specific inspiration in mind? Were you influenced by a certain author or work that inspired you to add your voice to this genre? Besides the boatloads of money and rockstar fame, what motivated you to write this book? 

Byron: My favorite authors would include JRR Tolkien, Anne McCaffrey and Tom Clancey. While not directly an influence on my book, they fueled my love of reading. This book is the product of 8 years of reviewing over and over in my mind; it reached the point where I finally had to commit it to paper, and I am glad I did.

Ana: If you could compare your book to any other existing works, which ones would it be and why? If the one thing you could say to a prospective reader was, "If you like X, you'll love my book!", which work would be invoked so that a reader could judge whether or not your book is their cup of tea?

Byron: Wow, this is a tough question since I want my story to be unique and different...there could be flavors of matrix, and yes I know that is not a book, but is true. I love Ann McCaffrey, so the low-tech nature of my story may come from her writings.

Ana: Is this your first or only published work, or have you published other books? If you have published other books, how do they compare to this one? Do you have any more books planned, either as a follow-up to this one, or as a completely different book or genre?

Byron: This is my debut novel, and I have two more to follow.

Ana: Where can readers obtain a copy of your book for them to enjoy? How can they contact you with any thoughts or questions? And do you have a means by which they can "sign up" to be notified when your next book comes available?

Byron: My book is available in paperback and all major resellers (i.e., Barnes and Nobles, Chapters, Indigo, etc.). It is also available on Kindle and from Smashwords. Within the next few weeks you will also be able to get it from Kobo, Nook and iBooks. They can also purchase the eBook (pdf, epub or mobi) from me directly using my website.

As far as a "sign up" list, they can request that from the contact form of my Website (http://www.w3-innovations.com)

Ana: Thank you. I understand you have the first chapter of your book available as an excerpt for interested readers? Is there anything else you wish to add for our readers?

Byron: Just that I hope that they enjoy my book, and that they would be willing to write a review on Amazon or Smashwords. (They can also preview at either of the previous links.)

Thank you Ana.

If you are an indie author interested in being interviewed, please read the interview policy here.

Disability: First, Do No Harm; Second, Listen

[Content Note: Surgery, Pain, Depression, Infertility, Mental Disorders and Ableism Language, Graphic Descriptions of Medical Mis-Care]

Ana's Note: This would normally be a Narnia day, but I wanted to take some time to talk about my 5/29 surgery in a couple of rambly posts.

"The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them." -- Ralph Nichols

On May 29th, 2012, I took a major step forward in my lifelong career of being Not Listened To by medical personnel by trusting that a white, male, privileged, American surgeon might put his needs ahead of my own in order to help improve the quality of my life.

Narnia: Open Thread (June 2012)

There will be a Narnia open thread today to allow some blog catching-up. Suggested topic:

How would the Narnian narrative change for you (if at all) if the explicit in-text "rulership" of the Sons-of-Adam / Daughters-of-Eve Pevensies and Caspian lineage was meant to be SYMBOLIC RULERSHIP only, with the 'king' (or 'queen') acting as a sort of attractive-but-politically-powerless figurehead largely tasked with entertaining foreign dignitaries while a representative Animal + Tree + Whatever parliament explicitly wielded all real political power with Aslan's blessings to do so?

Open Thread: Awesome or Awful?

I requested this today: the "teen girl version of Game of Thrones". This is going to be either a very awesome or a very terrible move on my part:

Review: World Cruise Story

World Cruise Story
by Kairosoft

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I think I've already mentioned that my current method of dealing with stress is to find a cutesy spreadsheet game and then min-max the crap out of it. World Cruise Story was one of the first Kairosoft games I played, right after Game Dev Story as a matter of fact, so I was surprised to pick it up again recently and find it to be really, really hard. Either my brain has regressed in some way or... well, I'm not sure I want to finish that sentence.

@Eurodroid

So I've been starting over a new game every day for the past two weeks whilst grappling with pain pills and surgery and I've finally hit on a strategy that makes me warm and fuzzy: it's all in the initial floor planning, and the trick is to house the passengers in tiny cabins on the outside deck until you get more floors. Hahahahahahahahaha. (They actually like it out there, but that makes it no less amusing to me.) So! Another day, another Kairosoft spreadsheet shared out in Ana's Google documents. The floor plan stuff in Sheet 1 is all mine but I did rely on the official guide for some dimensional planning, and the stat bonuses in Sheet 2 are all credited to this wordpress blog.

So, er, um... enjoy! I'm not sure why I keep making these except that I have some kind of biological compulsion to write user guides that no one will ever read. Maybe someday they'll isolate that gene.

Deals: Scrivener

If you didn't pick up Scrivener at half-off as part of the NaNoWriMo prizes last year, it's currently being offered at 20% off with the coupon code FESTIVAL courtesy of the 2012 Writer's Festival. There are also other programs for sale that I have not used.

If you've not used Scrivener, I highly recommend it. I didn't think I would like it, but it grew on me and now I feel that it's indispensable. Features I really love:

1. Being able to break up chapters across "cards" that can be moved around at will. Sure, you can copy and paste stuff around in Word, but this is really so much more elegant and I loved it for when I was experimenting in what order to place all the Foreword / Copyright / Trigger Warning / Table of Contents / Note to the Reader / Dedication stuff.

2. Being able to jot chapter notes on the front of the "cards" in order to view the entire novel outline at a glance is just delightful. (Organizing the "cards" in folders to get deeper categorization, like for an epic trilogy that you want to keep all in the same binder is also very groovy.)

3. Having "character sheets" for storing character descriptions and character images is so handy, but what I like even more is being able to highlight text in the novel, right-click, and then hit "Send To --> Frodo Baggins" and then you've just placed a copy of "he was a tiny fellow, with absurdly blue eyes and hair so curly you wanted to run your fingers through it the moment you met him" right there in his character portfolio so you will always have it available to refer to and you won't have to later hunt for WHAT COLOR WERE HIS EYES AGAIN?

4. The "compile into an ePUB" option isn't 100% intuitive and the output can still do with some tweaking in Sigil if you're a perfectionist like me, but it's currently (in my opinion) the easiest way to get a home-written novel into ePUB format at this time. (The second "easiest" way being to copy and paste plain text from Word into Sigil and then hunt down all the rich text, like italics, in the Word source document and manually jam them back into Sigil. I have done this, thrice, and it's a pain.)

Metapost: Current Comments... again

The "Current Comments" widget is stuck again so while I sort things out with Blogger and Disqus, I've added a "Disqus Comments" widget which will at least tell you who commented last and where. It just doesn't do the "smart filtering" to only show the most recent per active thread. Apologies.

Recommends: Some HAES 101

Content Note: Insulting Epithets in the Comments (Misogyny, Homophobia)

So I do a lot of Fat Acceptance 202 on the blog, but I don't do a lot of 101 because it's one of the subjects for which I have fewer teaspoons. But! Here are some nice reading materials in case you missed them.

Stereotype Management Skills for HBO Viewers

Weight Watchers Works. For Two Out of a Thousand

Assvertising

Big Fat Love

These babies probably won't persuade the trolls who are still stuck in the moderation queue on my McDonald's post who helpfully inform me that I eat nothing but baby donuts (nom nom nom), but if you're still learning FA 101, these might help. And if you like the 202 posts, you may enjoy these too.

RECOMMENDS! What have you been feeding your mind? (Literary baby donuts!)

Metapost: Lucidity

Content Note: Medical Issues

I've been trying to avoid making an Official Post about this on the grounds that ignoring it might make it go away, but now I think it's only fair to let you guys know, especially since there's going to be some upcoming posts on this anyway.

Most of you already know I had surgery a few weeks ago. What you may not know is that they sent me home from the hospital with a bag full of narcotics, and because my incision has been flirting with the possibilities of an infection, some of my drug dosage has actually been increased. And I don't really have a choice to not take this stuff because the alternative is a pain level that I simply can't cope with.

I thought I was doing pretty good all things considered, despite sleeping about 6+ extra hours a day and having a hard time focusing my eyes and not being able to type very well, but Husband has informed me that I have recently entered the "slurred speech" stage and apparently -- based on what Mom read on WebMD yesterday -- it's a miracle I'm lucid at all right now.

I really, really do not want to shut down the blog until all this is over, so I'm trying to just power through the best I can. I have a follow-up appointment at the hospital in July and I hope at that point we can dial back some of the drugs a bit. Until then, if I radically misunderstand a comment on the board -- which I'm increasingly fearful that I'm doing and have done -- I ask your forgiveness and I hope you can bear with me.

I know I can cope with all this, I'm just really hoping that you all can cope with me through this. (And I'm especially worried about Mom and Husband, but that's another story.)

Thank you.

Metapost: A Very Gentle Reminder

Content Note: Mental Illness Terminology

Ramblites, as you know, this is a Safe Space and that means that certain words that are part of the common vernacular around us in Real Life are not appropriate here because they can be hurtful and triggering for a large number of the commentariat.

In the past month or so, I've noticed several comments using the terms "crazy" and "insane" in manners that are not appropriate with regards to the commenting guidelines. I have not wanted to single anyone out because I know -- believe me, I know -- how hard it is to excise these words from our vocabulary and how harmless they seem from behind the magical intent-shield.

However, I want to ask everyone again to please be super-vigilant about their phrasing while posting. "Crazy evil", "crazy in love", "crazy prepared", "driving me insane", and similar popular phrases are harmful and triggering to a good many wonderful people here, and I ask that everyone find better ways to express themselves without relying on those terms.

Thank you. 

Twilight: Vampire Cliques

Content Note: Insularity, Medical Issues, Blood-Drinking, Meat-Eating

Twilight Recap: Edward and Bella have concluded their dinner conversation and are heading back to Bella's house. 

Twilight, Chapter 9: Theory

It was pointed out waaaaaaaaaay back in the distant past of last year that one of the appealing aspects of Twilight is the fact that when you are dating a Super Secret Vampire Boy, you have a secret. And I think that's a very good point, actually.

Open Thread: 101 Questions

It was asked earlier in the year that we hold a "101" thread for people who have questions about feminism, racism, ableism, fat acceptance, etc. and who would like to genuinely learn without derailing a 202-level conversation. So here is an open thread for people to ask question. Please use the appropriate Trigger Warnings on your questions so that people may decide whether to read a comment or skip over. Anyone can leap in to answer, but no one needs to feel obligated to do so.

For the 202+ levelers, feel free to use this thread to talk about things that have been on your mind with regards to privilege and isms.

OPEN THREAD BELOW!

Metapost: Disqus 2012

Ya'll, Disqus sent me an email today saying they're rolling out the 2012 version of their commenting system and do I want to upgrade? (More details, including a demo, here.)

The bulk of the new features I can already tell you that we probably aren't going to use. Comments aren't threaded here, so all the threading improvements are moot. I've noticed that no one here really uses the up-vote features (i.e., the Like button), and that wouldn't change the comment order anyway, so piffle.

On the other hand, the "load 3 more comments" would potentially be nice rather than having to hit F5 and wait. And I know that Old Disqus doesn't work so well at some of ya'lls places of home/work and maybe New Disqus will. And that would be nice.

On the third hand, I assume the upgrade will eventually be pushed whether we want it or not. But if we do "early adopt", I have no idea if we'll be able to revert back later.

So. Disqus upgrade. What do you think? (Has anyone tried it on their site? Can we see it? Post a link if you don't mind!)

Deals: Weekly Free Audiobook

Audiobook Sync is doing that thing they did last year where they give away two audiobooks a week all summer to encourage young adults to like books and stuff. (The weekly haul is usually something Old and something relatively New.) And if you're thinking, hang on, I remember this, but that was only like a few months ago, not a whole year, then congratulations: you are officially old like me.

Permalink here. This week's offerings are something called "The Eleventh Plague" and "The Grapes of Wrath".

Feminism: The Power of Normalization

[Content Note: Body Image, Self-Acceptance]

Ana's Note: This was written prior to my back surgery (thus, the references to my 'upcoming' surgical stay), but is only now being posted. Apologies in advance for any confusion.

I nearly cried in the middle of the Disney store today.

Deals: Harlequin eBooks BDAY124

Spend $12 and save $4 off your purchase of any Harlequin eBooks at their store. Totally not stumbled on because I'm a Deathlands addict, no sirree.

Author Interview: Michaelbrent Collings on "The Haunted"

Content Note: Ghosts, Pregnancy, Infanticide

Ana: Today we have Michaelbrent introducing their book, The Haunted. I haven't read this book myself, but Michaelbrent was kind enough to agree to guest blog about their book to any readers who might be interested in the subject. Michaelbrent, how would you describe your book to your prospective readers? In broad terms, what is your book about?

Michaelbrent: In broad terms, THE HAUNTED is a haunted house story. It's intentionally something of an homage to Shirley Jackson's THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE, but it also diverges from the kind of tropes that she used in that work. I have noted that in a lot of haunted house stories, the ghosts stay confined to darkened basements or the corners of the protagonists' eyes. They wail and scream, but other than that no harm is really done. I wanted to do something different, so my ghosts are more than capable of doing violent harm to the newest owners of the home: a pregnant woman and her husband.

Ana: What themes does your book explore and what do you hope the reader will take away from the experience? Is there a particular feeling or experience that you hope to evoke in the reader? Essentially, do you hope your book will mean to a reader?

Michaelbrent: On some levels, this is a story that talks about who BELONGS. Is it the ghosts? The new owners? Some other force? The book also treats with issues of family and with how we as humans deal with tragedy.

Ana: What prompted you to write this book and did you have a specific inspiration in mind? Were you influenced by a certain author or work that inspired you to add your voice to this genre? Besides the boatloads of money and rockstar fame, what motivated you to write this book? 

Michaelbrent: It was inspired by the haunted house/supernatural genre in general. I have read many haunted house books, and seen just as many haunted house movies. I set out to write a book where the ghosts would be scarier, the location would be even more claustrophobic, and the characters actions would be utterly sensible... yet also have the possible effect of dooming them in a world that has stopped making sense. I wanted to make the first haunted house story that would scare ME. I don't know if I managed that, but I've certainly managed to scare quite a few other people, with the book becoming an amazon.com Horror Bestseller for over a month, and doing well in several overseas outlets as well. Reviewers have been almost uniformly thrilled with the story, the characters, the setting, and the surprises that ultimately come their way.

Ana: If you could compare your book to any other existing works, which ones would it be and why? If the one thing you could say to a prospective reader was, "If you like X, you'll love my book!", which work would be invoked so that a reader could judge whether or not your book is their cup of tea?

Michaelbrent: If you like... uhhh... this is a tough one, because I've literally never read a haunted house book like this one. Again, I wanted to do something different, something where people will finish reading it and realize that, though some of the elements may be familiar, they've never been put together in quite that way before. So the best I can do here is say that if you like truly scary paranormal fiction, THE HAUNTED is probably for you.

Ana: Is this your first or only published work, or have you published other books? If you have published other books, how do they compare to this one? Do you have any more books planned, either as a follow-up to this one, or as a completely different book or genre?

Michaelbrent: I've published numerous other books. My first book, RUN, was a sci-fi/horror/thriller and was a top 100 OVERALL seller on Kindle (meaning out of their millions of books, stories, blogs, magazines, etc., RUN was one of the top 100 sellers). It was the #1 horror and #1 sci-fi title for a while. Since then I've published numerous other bestsellers, including THE LOON, RISING FEARS, THE MERIDIANS, and my YA fantasy BILLY: MESSENGER OF POWERS. All of them are quite different, but certainly most of my books (with the exception of BILLY) tend toward the scary.

As for follow-ups, I'm hard at work right now on a book (tentatively) entitled APPARITION, which deals with why parents kill their children. It's a truly disturbing concept and it's shaping up to be a scary book.

Ana: Where can readers obtain a copy of your book for them to enjoy? How can they contact you with any thoughts or questions? And do you have a means by which they can "sign up" to be notified when your next book comes available?

Michaelbrent: My books are available on amazon.com and through my website. They can also contact me through my website, and if they view my blog (I ramble somethin' awful sometimes!), they can sign up to be notified of updates. They can also join my Facebook fanpage or follow @mbcollings on Twitter to get the most up-to-the-minute info.

Ana: Thank you. I understand you have the first chapter of your book available as an excerpt for interested readers? Is there anything else you wish to add for our readers?

Michaelbrent: The beginning of the book can be viewed here.

Just click the "Look Inside" button over the picture of the book and you'll be able to look at the opening pages. You can also send a free sample to try on your Kindle if you wish to do so.

As for final thoughts: I hope you enjoy THE HAUNTED. Tell your friends about it, and please drop me a line through my website. I answer all emails I receive (though it does take a while sometimes).

Happy reading!

If you are an indie author interested in being interviewed, please read the interview policy here.

Narnia: Essential Natures and the Narnian Hierarchy

Content Note: Genocide, Torture, War, Racism, Sexism, Essentialism

Narnia Recap: Prince Caspian has begun the process of gathering Old Narnians for war.

Prince Caspian, Chapter 7: Old Narnia In Danger

One of the frustrating things about not being a Straight White Male is that I tend to be treated as a member of some kind of hive mind of identically-shaped robots, each stamped out with the same personalities, opinions, and tendencies. I am a woman, so therefore I supposedly dream the same dreams, harbor the same desires, am motivated by the same factors, and behave in the same way as all other women. And if I don't fit that stereotype, well, then, I must just fit the exact opposite stereotype. It's all very confusing and frustrating and deeply tiring.

Open Thread: NaNo'ers

How do ya'll (those of you who are writers, I mean) do plotting? Do you outline? Do you Freytag? Do you Snowflake? I'm still trying to find the way that feels most natural to me.

OPEN THREAD ON WRITING!

Recommends: Scalzi's Video Game Analogies

This is a little old and I don't recommend reading the comments, but I love it nevertheless. Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is.

I love it because it explains "privilege" in an accessible way that conceptualizes why "but I was born (relatively) POOR and had to WORK HARD" isn't a rebuttal of the concept of privilege. And it does it by employing the term "dump stat" which is only one of the best terms ever. Seriously, I want to print this article out and hug it.

RECOMMENDS! What have you been percolating?

Twilight: Privilege Means Never Having To Say You're Sorry

Content Note: Vehicle Collision, Cultural Appropriation, Brain Damage, Abusive Relationships

Twilight Recap: Edward and Bella have concluded their dinner conversation and are heading back to Bella's house. 

Twilight, Chapter 9: Theory

   "CAN I ASK JUST ONE MORE?" I PLEADED AS EDWARD accelerated much too quickly down the quiet street. He didn't seem to be paying any attention to the road.

Edward is telepathic, so he doesn't actually have to look at the road while he drives. He can instead just piece together a conglomerate vision of the road based on what he pulls from the heads of those around him. In this case, his passenger has a mind-shield that blocks him from reading her thoughts, and it's late in the evening so that they're the only car on the road, so it makes perfect sense that he wouldn't need to look at the road and can instead be freed up for soulful eye-gazing with Bella.

Metapost: Beta Listeners Needed

I need some volunteers who would be willing to listen to the audio book version of "Pulchritude" and can report back to me any issues/problems/concerns they find. Terms and conditions apply:

1. All feedback needs to be in by 7/1/2012 at the latest so that I can give the narrator enough time to make final changes prior to the release date. If you don't think you can listen to a 20-chapter, unabridged book recording between then and now, please don't volunteer for beta listening (you'll still have a shot at the final version for free listening).

2, The narrator has a British accent which may not be immediately easy for everyone to parse. "I couldn't understand the narrator" is certainly valid criticism to relay as beta feedback, but it's not something that can be changed at this stage, so please keep that in mind.

3. I am hoping to identify words/passages/chapters/areas/voices where things are distinctly unclear or sound "off" to the listener. If 9 out of 10 listeners report back that (for example) the final sentence in Chapter 7 is completely unclear, then that's something that can be re-recorded and spliced in. I'm hoping for no more than 10-50 "issue areas" reported back for the entire book per listener, which will then be cross-examined against each other and fed back to the narrator as desired changes.

4. Unlike with the actual Pulchritude book, which had an "Acknowledgements" section, I have absolutely nothing to offer in compensation this time except of course that all beta listeners will receive free copies of the audio book when it's finished. (I may be able to work up something more in the future as a formal "thanks", but I can't swear to that yet because I need to do more research.) I intend also to put up a "beta readers / listeners" page on my Acacia Moon website, but that's not exactly high fame and everlasting glory, I'm afraid. I actually feel really bad asking for help on this one, but I figured it doesn't hurt to ask and I'm having a heck of a time trying to do all the listening myself, what with all the narcotics in my system at the moment.


Thank you in advance if you're willing to Beta Listen for me, and I look forward to hearing from any willing volunteers. Thank you.

    Open Thread: Scavenger Hunt!

    Content Note: Breastfeeding, Racism, Prison Rape, Unfortunate Implications in General

    Based largely on things that have been Bugging Ana Lately In Fiction!

    1. Find an example of a female character who engages in extended breastfeeding and isn't misguided and evil and/or totally ruining her child with her unhealthy obsession and over-indulgence of their whims! (Bonus points if they live in an area where Food Safety matters. Bonus-bonus points if the child is at high risk of being poisoned by rival factions.)
    2. Find an example of a white character who is absorbed into a non-white culture and isn't praised for their willingness to acclimate (i.e., it's treated as expected or normal in the same way most white people treat non-white acclimation to white culture) and adored for their superior beauty and/or intelligence!
    3. Find an example of a non-white culture which isn't characterized by simplistic speech patterns such that basic words are missing from their vocabulary and everything is a metaphor because high-level concepts are too hard for non-white people!
    4. Find an example of a prison situation where rape isn't treated as invisible and/or a source of humor or grim justice!
    5. Find an example of an older female character who strongly dislikes a younger female character for reasons that don't include the younger female character being younger, prettier, and/or more fertile than the older female character!

    OPEN THREAD BELOW! Answer the scavenge questions or make ones of your own!

    Film Corner: The Inevitable Avengers Thread

    Husband took me to see The Avengers on opening weekend.

    It was better than I expected, in that I ended up enjoying myself whereas I'd expected the movie to suck. I don't mean that in a "I don't like your toys" kind of way; I actually really like superheroes and superhero movies for the most part. I just don't really like superhero team-ups because I think balance is always going to be such an issue. I mean, who would win in a fight between a human-who-wields-a-bow-and-arrow and a freaking ancient Norse deity? I'm just saying.

    But the movie makers did a good job balancing everything and it all felt fairly natural. Thought I do think that "being able to take on a god and not lose horribly" should go on Stark/Iron Man's and Roger/Captain America's resumes because that's the sort of thing you want to highlight in the yearly performance reviews.

    Author Interview: Renee Duke on "Cocktails, Caviar and Diapers"

    Ana: Today we have Renee Duke introducing their book, Cocktails, Caviar and Diapers. I haven't read this book myself, but Renee was kind enough to agree to guest blog about their book to any readers who might be interested in the subject. Renee, how would you describe your book to your prospective readers? In broad terms, what is your book about?

    Renee: The book is a story of a woman's journey to find and free herself from a very difficult marriage back in the 1950s and 60s. It is set amidst the glamour of the rise of the jet-setting age.

    While it is fiction, it's a roman-a-clef -- a novel with a key. In other words, the names were changed to protect the innocent. It's autobiographical.

    The book was written by my mother, Renee Duke, prior to her passing away last year. I took on the job of editing it and publishing it.

    My mother was an amazing woman, who lived in many countries and raised six children. She was a fine artist, a poet, an author and, also was a newspaper reporter for the International Herald Tribune and Fairchild Publications.

    Ana: What themes does your book explore and what do you hope the reader will take away from the experience? Is there a particular feeling or experience that you hope to evoke in the reader? Essentially, do you hope your book will mean to a reader?

    Renee: I think all people, but women especially, will really feel the pain the main character goes through in a very difficult relationship, and ultimately the release toward the end. While it's not a "feminist" book, especially, my mother did have to disentangle herself from the "chattel-like" mindset of her time and that was not only an act of courage, but it is also inspirational even today.

    Ana: What prompted you to write this book and did you have a specific inspiration in mind? Were you influenced by a certain author or work that inspired you to add your voice to this genre? Besides the boatloads of money and rockstar fame, what motivated you to write this book? 

    Renee: We will never know all of her intentions in writing this book, but I know with certainty that Renee Duke loved to help others -- it was her driving passion in life. If this book can help someone, she would have felt very happy.

    Ana: If you could compare your book to any other existing works, which ones would it be and why? If the one thing you could say to a prospective reader was, "If you like X, you'll love my book!", which work would be invoked so that a reader could judge whether or not your book is their cup of tea?

    Renee: I don't have a book to compare this to; but if you like Madmen, or that era in general, this book may give you some additional desirable color of that time.

    Ana: Is this your first or only published work, or have you published other books? If you have published other books, how do they compare to this one? Do you have any more books planned, either as a follow-up to this one, or as a completely different book or genre?

    Renee: This is the only published book by Renee Duke. That's it.

    Ana: Where can readers obtain a copy of your book for them to enjoy? How can they contact you with any thoughts or questions? And do you have a means by which they can "sign up" to be notified when your next book comes available?

    Renee: It's on Amazon, priced at $.99 and free for lending.

    Ana: Thank you. I understand you have the first chapter of your book available as an excerpt for interested readers? Is there anything else you wish to add for our readers?

    Renee: Take a look at the sample and see if you like it!

    If you are an indie author interested in being interviewed, please read the interview policy here.

    Metapost: I'm Home

    Some of you have already noticed that I was randomly responding to comments at 3 am this morning, but for everyone else: I'm back home.

    And oh-my-gods is it good to be back hone,

    I've got a whole two-parter post planned about my hospital stay that will probably take the place of not-next-week, but-the-next-after-that's Narnia and Twilight posts. The practical highlights in advance are:

    1. My 3-5 day stay turned into a 7 day stay. 
    2. Related to #1, I learned that I have abnormally high tolerances to pain medication. Not to pain, to medication meant to relieve pain. The money quote is that my surgeon stabilized me by "putting [me] on a level of narcotics that would kill most grown men". 
    3. That means that I have a LOT of high impact drugs sloshing around in my system which means I am alternatively painfree-and-exhausted and awake-but-pained. 
    4. Related to #3, I got NOTHING done in the hospital. No blog posting. No reading. No books-on-tape listening. I'd been dreaming about this "vacation" for years (I'd write another book! Read all the Deathlands novels! Follow along the Harry Potter audio books! Finish off all the blog posts for the rest of the year!) and zilch. LOL.
    5. There is basically nothing I can do for myself at the moment, Sitting up? Call Husband. Laying down? Call Husband. Getting water for pills? Call Husband. (Dad and Mom are going through similar levels of neediness and we're seriously considering whether to combine households for a short time.) 
    6. Related to #6. I hit the mudder-fugging lottery when it comes to husbands. Enough nice things cannot be said about Husband. 

    I find all this largely amusing, but it does mean that posting isn't going to be as robust around here as I'd dreamed in my lazy happy dreams. We'll pull through regardless.

    In the meantime, I want to thank everyone for their behavior while I was away. I woke from the ICU with 170 comments to read and a good half of them were of the "my god, that's brilliant, I should let THEM do all the decons from here on out" variety that I love so. (Exporting Narnian ice to Calormen? And using the proceeds to shore up the herbivore levels of the food chain with British staple diet?. My goodness, it's so bizarre but it actually might just work.) And you were entirely self-moderated while I was gone and that is such a special and rare thing in a community. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    Loving you all and hoping you'll enjoy the next rocky weeks ahead blog-wise,

    ~ Ana

    Narnia: The Privilege of Omniscience

    Content Note: Genocide

    Narnia Recap: Caspian has been adopted by two dwarves and a badger.

    Prince Caspian, Chapter 6: The People That Lived In Hiding

    Religious allegories and metaphors are sometimes a bit tricky for me to handle because a lot of times they seem to depend on access to information that, in theory, many of us simply don't have. Or, on the flip side, to the obscuring of information that we sometimes tend to not notice.

    Review: The Six Wives of Henry VIII

    The Six Wives of Henry VIIIThe Six Wives of Henry VIII
    by Alison Weir

    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    The Six Wives of Henry VIII / 9780802136831

    I am really starting to enjoy Alison Weir's Tudor history -- I enjoyed "Mary Boleyn" and I loved "The Lady in the Tower", particularly the audio book version of the same. I picked up "The Children of Henry VIII", only to see in the foreword that the book continues on from THIS book, "The Six Wives of Henry VIII", so I put down "Children" and bought a copy of "Wives".

    And, really, this book is lovely. All the history you love to hear from Weir, all the careful sourcing and citing of who is biased and how and in what time period they were writing, and all combined in a really stream-lined, efficient narrative. There's a wealth of valuable information here and it's a joy to read; I'm really sorry there doesn't seem to be an audio book version of this because I think it would be delightful to listen to.

    I especially enjoy that this book really is about the wives and not about Henry. There's some introductory stuff about Henry woven deeply into the opening chapters about Katherine of Aragon, but once that's out of the way the focus returns closely to the wives. The historical narrative deals with the women chronologically (which flows nicely since there isn't too much overlap between the wives), and once Henry dies, Weir continues the stories of Katherine Parr and Anne of Cleves to their final conclusions. Everything about this portion of the narrative is superbly written and easy to follow.

    If I have a gentle criticism of this book, it is that much of the section on Anne and Mary Boleyn is later contradicted by Weir in her more recent books, "Mary Boleyn" and "The Lady in the Tower". There's nothing wrong with that -- I'm pleased that Weir is the kind of historian who is willing to refine her statements in the face of new evidence -- but I wanted to make a note of it for readers. If you're going to read this book (and I highly recommend it!), I suggest pairing it with "The Lady in the Tower" for a more complete look at the life of Anne Boleyn.

    ~ Ana Mardoll

    Recommends: Fat Ladies in Space

    This. Which you can buy here.

    That is all: seriously, all Recommends from here on out should really just be this post over and over again for eternity.

    At least until Fat Ladies Underwater and Fat Ladies in Medieval Fantasy come out. Oh please say they'll come out. I'll be good, I promise.

    RECOMMENDS! What have you been reading/writing/thinking/coloring lately?

    Twilight: Rape Narratives, Good and Bad

    Content Note: Rape, Victim Blaming, Profanity

    Twilight Recap: Bella and Edward are having dinner in Port Angeles.

    Twilight, Chapter 8: Port Angeles

    And so here we are. The last day of Chapter 8 and do you know what? I don't want to talk about it. No, don't look at me like that, not with the puppy eyes. You've no idea how dull and repetitive I feel over here. Oh, look, Edward is victim blaming Bella for her own near-rape. Oh, look, Bella is ignoring her own near-rape and Edward's crappy behavior to focus on her personal self-loathing and to slut-shame the waitress for doing her job. Oh, look, these are terrible people and they richly deserve each other and their dull, passive-aggressive romance. *YAWN*

    Open Thread: Video Game You Couldn't Get Into?

    Piggy-backing off of last week, what's a video game you wanted to get into but just couldn't?

    I have a few. Wild Arms I've tried to play several times, but I always lose my tenuous grip on the plot about halfway in when it seems like I never really accomplish anything. Legend of Legaia has a plot that I really enjoy, but the grindy nature of the game means I've only played to the end once. Disgaea I love, but the Item Dungeon sucks me in (I'm a completionist and heartily wish I were not) and won't let me go.

    Various other, non-turn based, non-strategy games are just not playable for me, including Silent Hill which is supposed to be very good.

    OPEN THREAD BELOW!