Open Thread: Rhododendron


Picture taken on the side of a road in Portland, Maine in June.

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We have special open threads set aside for discussing various movies, said discussions including plain text spoilers.  These are they:
   ● Ant-Man and The Wasp
   ● Solo (A Star Wars Story)

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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!

Open Thread: Branches, Bird, and Snow


This is from early February 2017.  The bird was in a tree in a driveway (I think) in a town north of Boston, Mass.

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We have special open threads set aside for discussing various movies, said discussions including plain text spoilers.  These are they:
   ● Ant-Man and The Wasp
   ● Solo (A Star Wars Story)

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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!

Transcending Flesh: Gender and Stereotypes

Note: This was previously published on my Patreon.

a pink and blue sky with a radio tower

This essay is one in a series which focuses on writing gender in science fiction and fantasy settings that provide body modification options beyond our current level of technology. Note that you can download this collection of essays from my website here.

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Transcending Flesh:
Gender and Body Diversity in Futuristic and Fantastical Settings


Essay #4: Gender and Stereotypes

Let's talk about Alice the Author.

Alice has built an exciting fictional world where magitech can give anyone the body they want and where trans people don't face stigma for being transgender. Anyone who wants to inform the world that they're a girl can just do so and be a girl without facing contradiction or bigotry or gender policing. Excellent! Now Alice is going to populate that world with some trans girl characters who live and move and exist.

...oh no, Alice draped all of them in pink and frills and lace and froth and pearls. What happened?

There is a thing some cis people do where they assume that trans people base our gender on a list of things we like and enjoy, then check that list against gender stereotypes. As though trans boys wrote a list one day that said "cars, leather, hair grease, and Elvis" and went "I guess I'm a boy now!" while the trans girls' lists all said "pink, poodle skirts, lace, and lollipops" and then realized "oh, wow, I'm a girl, better go transition!"

While each of us is unique, that's generally not how trans people find our gender. The thinking here by cis authors like Alice seems to be that since there are so many barriers between one's assigned gender at birth and coming out as trans, then the people who come out as trans are the ones who are the girliest of girls or the boyishest of boys: the "extreme ends" of the gender spectrum who can't closet themselves and so they come out to drape their bodies in pink and blue respectively.

There are problems with that portrayal of trans people.

First, a world-building problem: Alice has established that trans people aren't stigmatized in her fictional setting. That should make it easy for people to come out as trans, or to question their gender, without needing to be a stereotypical representation of a gender in order to justify themselves. Who is demanding trans people adhere to stereotypes in order to "prove" their gender is valid to a judgmental and hostile society? If someone is sending the message that a trans girl who isn't "girly" is invalid, that's social stigma.

Second, a realism problem: In our world which does have stigma, we still have lots of visible trans people who aren't stereotypically girly-girl or boyish-boy. Even in a world with more stigma than in Alice's fictional world, many people still come out and rock their unique, valid, individual personal aesthetic. Where do those real people exist in Alice's world? Why can't we see them?

Third, a bigotry problem: Many bigoted cis people view trans people as embracing and entrenching gender stereotypes, rather than simply navigating them alongside their cis siblings. If the only trans people in Alice's novel are "extreme" examples of gender presentation, does that mean Alice buys into that bigoted idea that trans people are just "acting" their gender? The reader won't know Alice's meaning; all they have to understand Alice's view of trans people is what she writes on the page.

Alice's novel envisions a world with BodyMod magitech where everyone on earth suddenly rushed to one of two "sides" of gender and gender presentation. All her butch women and boyish girls ran to go outfit themselves with a penis so they could be manly men, while all her soft boys and feminine men rushed to install a fancy new vagina so they could be girly women. But that doesn't make any sense! People don't do that now, so why should the ability to easily and painlessly sprout a penis or dig a vagina change that?

There are femme trans women in our world, yes! There are also androgynous trans women and butch trans women. There are trans women who shave their hair off, wear motorcycle leathers, and ride around the world on a sexy bike shooting werewolves with a sawed-off shotgun and kissing ladies on the mouth. Every possible aesthetic of trans woman exists, just as every possible aesthetic of cis woman exists! There is no reason to assume that trans women as a group are more stereotypically "girly" than cis women.

Similarly, there are trans men who love plaid and rock amazing lumberjack beards. There are trans men who look like James Bond and are dressed to kill and know how to toss back a cocktail with just the right amount of smirk. There are trans men who wear gorgeous makeup and skirts and heels. There are trans men who wear pajamas all day and write novels on their couch with Mister Whiskers the cat. Our trans journeys are almost never "well, I like boy clothes and boy hair, so I guess I'm a boy". Exploring our gender presentation can be an important part of our journey, but the styles we each individually end up favoring aren't all aligned to a gender stereotype. Trans characters should have the same variety as cis characters.

Moreover, in Alice's world there shouldn't be just two options. It defies human nature to imagine that, in a world with BodyMod magitech capabilities, everyone would meekly align to one of two gender stereotypes. Alice has written a world in which everyone either signs up for breasts, a uterus, a bag of pink clothes, and a "girl job" or they checked the box for a flat chest, a scrotum, an entire box of blue socket wrenches, and a "boy job". The reader will almost certainly not recognize themselves in this world. Why are there "girl jobs" at all in a world where people can be any gender or body configuration they could ever want? What are "boy jobs" and what would that mean in a world without barriers to transition?

Body modification isn't going to jam our existing beautiful chaos into one of two types: girly-girl and manly-man. It is worth considering what gender looks like in this new fictional world--how many genders are recognized by society? what does it mean to be one gender or another? what sorts of gender stereotypes, if any, exist?--but there will be the same wonderful chaos of people mixing and matching their aesthetics, their interests, their hobbies, and their careers as there is now in our world.

If exploration and variety are disallowed in Alice's world, the setting is a dystopia and both the author and the narrative need to realize that. "You can be any gender you wish, as long as you conform to the rigid gender expectations therein" is a very bad place in which to live! Characters should be unhappy under those strictures, if we are to recognize them as human.

In short: Include trans people in your world with the same variety as cis people. Not all trans girls will be hyper-girly. Not all trans boys will be super-manly. Not all nonbinary people will be perfectly androgynous. Trans people don't fit into perfect neat stereotype boxes any more than cis people do!

Writings: The Lost Last Princess of Ravelin (Part 1)

Previously posted on my Patreon.


It started with an Amazon Prime movie.

Mythica was a fantasy movie with a disabled girl wizard as a protagonist. It wasn't good--the effects were cheesy, the characters were stock, and the writing wasn't always stellar--but it was the closest thing to representation I've ever seen in a fantasy setting. I became obsessed with the damn movie, and its sequels. (#2 is good. #3 is adequate. #4 and #5 made me want to burn my television in the fireplace.)

I began drabbling with my best friend in the whole world, wanting a disabled wizard of my own. Maybe an enby who didn't know yet she was an enby. Polyamorous without shame. ("Well, maybe some initial shame she could work through," I thought, writing myself deeper onto the page.) Maybe an orphan who deals with my own feelings of abandonment after being disowned and homeless at various points in my life. Maybe exactly like me in way too many ways for anyone else to enjoy.

Fun drabbles happened and she met a nice man who was an earl and a bard. He asked about her disability and she lied happily, feeling in a jokey mood. And then it struck me: what if he wrote a song about her but got the details wrong? What if he thrust her onto the public stage in a way she had to straddle, exploiting the attention in order to make enough money to survive but quietly ambivalent about being pushed into a celebrity role?

Maybe, too, I'd done a lot of thinking about Twitter and how high follower counts come with harassment but are necessary if we want to sell our words to a large enough audience to survive. Anyway. This is the story that came out of all those feelings. It's a three-part story that I'd like to someday expand into a full book, but we'll see.

Thank you.


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PART 1: THE GIRL

October Newsletter (2018)

October has been a month for us all, I think. How is everyone doing? Hanging in there, staying alive? I'm trying too. I know we're all trying. Let's talk about some things I created this month that you might have missed or might want to read again.

Free stuff everyone can enjoy:

My Twitter account @DivorceKittens with stories and pictures is here.

My Magician's Nephew Deconstruction: Latest post here. Index to older posts here.

My Wrinkle in Time Deconstruction: Latest post here. Index to older posts here.

My YouTube series on Laura Bow 1, The Colonel's Bequest is here.

My YouTube series on Not Tonight (a Brexit game) is here.

Patreon stuff for subscribers:

$2+ The Lost Last Princess of Ravelin. Some (not all) of Part 3 is going up today. I wanted to finish the story but the month just was not cooperating. Soon, though!

$5+ Transcending Flesh, another essay for discussion and questions!

Lastly and again, thank you. I'm still in such deep mourning for my spouse and it's difficult because I thought I would be "over" this by now. But I am coming to realize this grief will take more time than I imagined. Thank you for sticking with me through this. I am more grateful than words can convey. ♥

Index: Time Quintet


Time Quintet


Source: The Time Quintet
Label: Deconstruction (Time Quintet)

Book 1: A Wrinkle in Time
11-03-2016 - Chapter 1: A Wrinkle in Time
11-04-2016 - Chapter 2: The Unloveable
11-05-2016 - Chapter 2: Different and New
11-15-2016 - Chapter 3: Waiting To Be Contradicted
11-18-2016 - Chapter 4: Give Glory Unto The Lord
11-29-2016 - Chapter 5: Lights For Us To See By
01-01-2017 - Chapter 6: Death of a Star
03-14-2017 - Chapter 6: Fond of Children
03-28-2017 - Chapter 6: Planet Death Bat
04-20-2017 - Chapter 7: Grammar Nazis
05-25-2017 - Chapter 7: Turkey Dinners and Light Promises
03-20-2018 - Chapter 8: Holding Charles Tight
03-22-2018 - Chapter 8: Nobody Suffers Here
04-01-2018 - Chapter 9: Cloven Pines
05-24-2018 - Chapter 9: She Wouldn't Be Able To Hold Out
08-07-2018 - Chapter 9: Equal and Same
09-29-2018 - Chapter 10: Thousands of Centuries

Note: Last updated 09/30/2018.

Time Quintet: Thousands of Centuries

[Wrinkle Content Note: Fascism, Hypnotism, Captivity]

Wrinkle Recap: After their confrontation with IT went badly, Mr Murry teleported himself, Meg, and Calvin away. Charles Wallace was left behind (but we don't know that yet).

A Wrinkle in Time, Chapter 10: Absolute Zero

When we last left our heroes, they were doing badly in the presence of IT and Calvin yelled for Murry to tesser them out of there as an escape. Murry was able to perform under intense pressure, probably because of the boost given by the magical glasses he was still wearing. Which, now that I type that seems odd to me; did Charles/IT just lose interest in those glasses once the plot moved on? I remember Charles lunging for the glasses, and Meg breaking through the prison wall with them and giving them to Murry, and Murry using them to escape with Meg but then... Charles/IT just lost interest?

*double checks* Yeah, that's... strange. I guess Charles/IT only wanted the glasses to keep Meg from Murry and once that ship had sailed IT didn't feel the need to close the barn door? But since the glasses are still infused with divine magic and since they (probably) helped Murry tesser the group off the planet, that was a major tactical error on IT's part. "Oh well, I guess you can keep the magic angel glasses, despite the fact that you're completely at my mercy in a building full of guards I own and it would be trivially easy to remove them from your possession." Chalk that up to villain hubris, I suppose.

Open Thread: Turtle Riding A Triceratops


This weeks open thread is brought to you by second hand toys, three legged dinosaurs, and the fact that my camera doesn't need a working shutter when it's in video mode.

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We have special open threads set aside for discussing various movies, said discussions including plain text spoilers.  These are they:
   ● Ant-Man and The Wasp
   ● Solo (A Star Wars Story)

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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!

Open Thread: Egrets


I can't be sure, but I think the middle one is up to something.  This is actually across the path from where the goats were.  Across the path, a bit to the side, and over a year earlier.  Picture from mid August 2017.

Apparently I used a different photo of this same group for an open thread a few days after I took the pictures.  I didn't realize that until I discovered I already had a picture named "Egrets" in my upload directory, but I'm not surprised.

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We have special open threads set aside for discussing various movies, said discussions including plain text spoilers.  These are they:
   ● Ant-Man and The Wasp
   ● Solo (A Star Wars Story)
   ● Avengers: Infinity War

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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!

Open Thread: Washed Out Goats


Short version:

I know it's a terrible picture, but it might be the last time that the camera that's been getting all of the pictures for these open threads manages to do anything that's not a total white-out, so have some goats.  I think there are three four in picture, but even I can't tell for sure.

For the long version, story time:

It's been death-hot for a long time, which has prevented me from walking to my appointments the way that I usually would.  By Monday the temperature dropped to normal-hot.  While various factors conspired to prevent me from having the time to walk to my appointment, I was able to walk back.

I was surprised by goats.

I have no idea how long they've been there because it's been so long since it was actually safe for me to walk (heat and I don't mix) but there were goats.  Apparently there's a problem with some invasive plant or other in that part of the South Portland near-coast and someone finally decided to reach for the logical solution: goats.

It being late in the day, overcast (I think), and under the shade of trees allowed my camera to take a picture.  Two, actually.  (The other one was worse.)  While one might think that pictures of swans would serve as a more appropriate swan song for the camera, I remind you that swans don't actually have swan songs.  As such, it kind of fits.  (Also there were no swans available.)

This is not the picture the camera took.  This is the digitally-edited less washed out version.

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We have special open threads set aside for discussing various movies, said discussions including plain text spoilers.  These are they:
   ● Ant-Man and The Wasp
   ● Solo (A Star Wars Story)
   ● Avengers: Infinity War

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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!

Index: Handbook for Mortals


Handbook for Mortals


Source: Jenny's Trout Nation
Label: Handbook for Mortals

» Handbook for Mortals Intro and Chapter 0, “The Fool” or “There Must Be Something More Than This Technicolor Dream Hair Life”
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 1, “The Magician” or “That’s not how any of this works.”
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 2, The Hermit or “Cifnaf annataz””
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 3, The Hierophant or “Nothing Happened.”
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 4, The Empress or “Star Trek Season 1 Episode 14 ‘Court Martial'”
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 5, The Emperor or “Dive And Blush And Blush And Dive And Blush And Blush And Blush.”
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 6, The Moon or “Total Drama High School”
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 7, Strength (part 1) or “Rebel Without A Clue”
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 7, Strength (part 2) or “Circus Of The Stars”
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 8, The Star (part 1) or “If you’re in love, show me! Show me!”
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 8, The Star (part 2) or “Have you ever noticed how much I say ‘um’? YOU WILL TODAY.”
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 8, The Star (part three) or “Carrie, but with lemonade”
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 9, Temperance or “I’m sorry that people are jealous of me…but I can’t help it that I’m popular.”
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 10, The Hanged Man or “Internalized Misogyny, Rinse, Repeat”
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 11, “The Devil” or “Readers’ Digest Condensed Boring Parts”
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 12, “The Sun” or “Art Imitates Life.”
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 13, The High Priestess or “The Big Skew”
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 14, Wheel of Fortune or “Fifty Shades of Mac”
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 15, The Tower (part 1) or “The first time the card in the chapter title was actually applicable to what happens in the plot”
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 15, The Tower (part 2) or “This is the part where adapting the screenplay into a book got hard”
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 16, Justice or “Girlfriend in a coma/I know it’s serious”
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 17, The Lovers or “Shot through the heart/and you’re to blame/darlin’ you give love a bad name”
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 18, The Chariot (part 1) or “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 18, The Chariot (part 2) or “No One Is Responsible For Their Actions”
» Interlude: I read the Handbook For Mortals screenplay. It is worse than you could possibly imagine.
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 19, Death (part one) or “Super easy, barely an inconvenience.”
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 19, Death (part two) or “THAT’S IT I’M SETTING THIS BLOG AND THEN MYSELF ON FIRE.”
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 20, Judgement or “Aptly named, considering what I’m about to do to it.”
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 21, The World or “You’re never going to guess where the plot finally shows up.”

Note: Last updated 09/12/2018.

Narnia: Maximum Villainy for Minimum Efficiency

[Narnia Content Note: Child Abuse, Animal Abuse, Ableism, Mental Illness]

Narnia Recap: Polly and Digory have broken into Uncle Andrew's study. Uncle Andrew gave Polly a ring and she disappeared.

The Magician's Nephew, Chapter 2: Digory and His Uncle

The response to my Chapter 1 post was fascinating because I spent much of the piece outlining how Polly ought to be the protagonist instead of Digory, then named the post "The Magician's Neighbor" (Polly) rather than "The Magician's Nephew" (Digory) in order to drive the point home. I thought it was a nice alliterative bit of wordplay but what felt like the entire internet (but was really probably only three people) poured in to inform me that I'd typed the wrong word in the post title.

This may have been just reflexive "correcting people on the internet" but it struck me as painfully fascinating just how much we aren't accustomed to seeing girls centered as protagonists--it apparently seemed more likely that I confused "nephew" and "neighbor" than that Polly should have a book named for her. And I got to thinking about how the books in this series could have centered girls in the titles but just... didn't. Even The Silver Chair is named for a macguffin that exists for maybe ten pages before being sworded into splinters, rather than being named for the girl protagonist.

Anyway, Polly picks up a ring from Uncle Andrew and disappears in a blink.

Open Thread: White and Pink


I think this is South Portland in mid May.

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We have special open threads set aside for discussing various movies, said discussions including plain text spoilers.  These are they:
   ● Ant-Man and The Wasp
   ● Solo (A Star Wars Story)
   ● Avengers: Infinity War
   ● A Wrinkle in Time (2018)

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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!

Writings: Fantasy Realtor

Note: This was previously published on my Patreon.


This happened this month on my Twitter: 

You gotta feel like violent incels aren't a problem in fantasy worlds because they all probably try to summon a succubus, fail horribly, and get dragged to the nine hells as punishment.

Me, showing an apartment to prospective clients: "and the neighborhood is quiet, lots of high elves who keep to themselves. Oh, that right there is the summoning circle that got burned into the floor when the previous occupant summoned Lolth and mis-scribed one of his ruins..."

I'm delighted by how many of you want a D&D Realtor book. That may need to be a Patreon post.

The below post was scribbled shortly after. While giggling. I hope you enjoy.

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"It's a quiet neighborhood, as you can see. Mostly elves and fey creatures who keep to themselves. The upstairs occupants are pixies so I mean, A, they weigh thirty pounds tops, and B, they have wings and fly. None of those stompy walking-around noises you usually get with upstairs neighbors. The last time I showed an apartment, the upstairs neighbors were orcs and you can just imagine.

"I should mention--it's really just the tiniest thing, but--the neighborhood folks tend to worship the Moon Goddess, so there's a wild hunt run every full moon. But honestly, as long as you keep your doors and windows closed and don't open them for anyone you should be fine. Personally always I've found moon followers to be easier to deal with than those elves who worship the Nature God; you never know when those antler wearing assholes are gonna break out a knife and a sacrificial stone. With the Moon Goddess, you're on a schedule. Put a calendar on the fridge, maybe get some stickers, and you're set for life.

"Oh, that brings me to the kitchen. Now you two are humans and this kitchen was originally fitted for dwarves. Well, that's why it's on the market, and not snapped up by one of the elf locals; they run pretty statuesque and tall around here, so the kitchen has been a bit of a sticking point with prospective clients looking to move in. But, if you don't mind me saying so ma'am, a lot of human women find they actually prefer the counters set for dwarven men's height over the ones set for human men's. Just try that out like you're chopping onions or something. Easier on your shoulders, isn't it? I thought it would be.

"Through here is the living room and-- yes, yeah, ha. I knew we'd need to talk about that. Well, the previous occupant was a single human man who kept to himself a lot. Lovely as a resident, always on time with the rent, but turns out he had some, uh, interesting hobbies. The burn mark is a summoning circle, obviously, but we weren't able to tell which kind. He must not have gotten the runes all correct when he scribed them and when they set ablaze due to the error all the detailing was lost and we were left with this indecipherable circular smear. On genuine hardwood floors, no less! Should be a crime, I tell you.

"Anyway, it's safe to say the summon was infernal-related; the clerics could tell the remains had been, uh, 'created'? Is that the way to describe someone's remains, as 'created'? Well, regardless: a demon did it. Or a devil; I can never keep the two clear in my head. Probably a succubus, based on the-- well, it doesn't really matter now, does it? Anyway, the cleaners have been over the burn marks twice and they say it's not coming up any more than it has, but you can hardly notice the actual blood anymore. A throw rug over the area would cover things just fine, and who doesn't like a cheerful throw rug to bring a room together?

"The master bedroom is in here and you're going to love how spacious it is, and all the natural light it gets. The bath is through that door, but before we-- hmm? Oh. Haha, well I mean. One of the previous occupants had a bit of a shapeshifter problem? I can't remember if it was full moons or new moons, but it was one of those. She didn't want to go on a rampage and damage the living room furniture, so she paid to install the shackles. They're really strong and fixed right into the foundations! When she moved, it would've been so expensive to take them out, plus they're kind of a feature? We do pride ourselves on accessibility for our cursed- and differently-bodied clients! There's no extra charge for them; you're free to ignore them or, you know. I can think of at least a couple uses for wall shackles, a young newlywed couple like yourselves.

"Oh! Speaking of, the master bath has a tub that fits most trolls. We went ahead and made that a standard feature for all our apartments, so you two practically have your own cozy little hot tub. Roomy for a human couple like yourselves; the pixies upstairs use it as a swimming pool for their kids. Isn't that darling?

"Water is included in the rent, yes. You do have to pay the city for trash pickup and disposal, but the monthly surcharge is cheap and paying it is easier than dragging everything out to the worm pens yourself. Plus if you pay the trash collection fee, the city sorts your recycling for you; you know those glass potion bottles aren't really good for the giant worms, and the wizards are always looking for bottles to reuse.

"Pets are allowed but there is a deposit in case of damage. No, I know, cat familiars don't exactly wreck the place, but we've had incidents you wouldn't believe. Three words: acid-breathing parakeets. Yeah. You can't imagine how long it took to clean that up. And, I mean, they were nice parakeets, but they were not house-trained at all. Dogs? There's one dog park up the road within walking distance, but I should warn you that it's membership-only after the hellhound incident. That was a rough day, let me tell you, but fortunately the clerics were able to fix everyone up. That's why we give a 10% clerical discount, by the way; it's just smart having healers live in you community, don't you think? I know it helps me sleep better at night.

"So what do you think? You don't have to decide today but I really should tell you I have a pair of gnome roommates who want to look at the room tomorrow, so-- You do? Oh, excellent! Let me walk you back to the office and we can fill out the paperwork to apply. Oh, the oracles run a credit check right there on the spot, so there's almost no waiting. Couple hours, tops, and we'll have a key in your hand. You won't regret this!"

September Newsletter (2018)

August is my birthday month--I'm a Leo, or so they tell me. I've never been very good with astrology. I don't seem to have the head for it. This year, August was also the month my husband left me. We'd been together for 8 years of marriage and 10 years total and he... just left. Moved out on my birthday. I haven't seen him since except to give him some papers he needed and a pair of socks which had fallen behind the hamper.

Most of you know this already because I've been bewailing on Twitter. I'm doing better, I think. I've stopped crying and have gone into a kind of numbness which I think is probably my body's way of coping. I've been picking up more hours at work than I can physically handle, but the money is helping right now. And my parents have come over every night this week to help me clean and empty litter boxes and stuff like that. They understand that being disabled is not easy right now.

I haven't done a lot of writing since he left. For awhile I was afraid he took the words with him, but then I wrote 64 words and I felt better. 64 words isn't a lot but it's proof that I haven't lost all of them. You can do a lot with 64 words if they're the right words, right? I tell myself that.

For those of you who joined Patreon or upped your pledges in order to support me through this: I cannot thank you enough. You are helping me more than I can say--I depend on Patreon so much for medical bills, for utility bills, for everything. Thank you. Please remember to claim your rewards (you deserve them!) and I am going to keep writing for you. I am. Please don't worry about that. The words will come for you. Because you deserve that too. Bless you all. ♡

If you're a Patron in the $25 paperback level, I have to beg your patience as I pull together everyone's addresses and the books they want. I ran out of physical books this week (thank you, Etsy customers!) and went to order more only to find that the at-cost prices for my books have either gone up or I made a maths error during the last order. Long story short: I'll be asking $25+ patrons which of my 4 paper books they would like, and I'll send one out each month until you've collected them all! It'll be like a book-of-the-month club and I hope very fun for everyone.

Now some links.

$2+ The Lost Last Princess of Ravelin. This is a three-part story which will be going up over August, September, and October. I really like this one and I hope you will too. It started with an idea from a D&D campaign about a disabled wizard and plays with myths, legends, and being propelled into the limelight by others.

$5+ Transcending Flesh, another essay for discussion and questions!

Lastly and again, thank you. When my spouse left, I felt so lonely. I had convinced myself that I had no worth as a person and that only he would ever care enough to keep me alive. When he left, I thought that was my last hope at life--but instead, I was lifted up by hundreds of friends and strangers. I have never known love like this and I am grateful beyond words. Thank you. ♥

Open Thread: End of Line


Picture taken in Thomas Knight Park in June.  The park is located where the old Casco Bay Bridge made landfall in South Portland.

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We have special open threads set aside for discussing various movies, said discussions including plain text spoilers.  These are they:
   ● Ant-Man and The Wasp
   ● Solo (A Star Wars Story)
   ● Avengers: Infinity War
   ● A Wrinkle in Time (2018)

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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!

Open Thread: Clockwork Duck/Goose Thing


My camera is still busted.  Ish.  (I can go into detail in the comments, that doesn't belong here.)  As a result I've been going through old pictures to find things that will make good open thread images.  This picture is from a year and a third ago.

I don't know the history behind this wind up toy beyond the fact that it's old and, at one point, it would lay metal eggs.  The eggs have long since been lost.  For all I know they were lost before I was born.

To me it's always been a duck, because I like ducks.  I have a suspicion it might actually be a goose.

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Just a random note: I do check that the comments are still open on the linked movie discussion posts when I make a weekend post (and remove the link if they are not.)  So, if you should have something to say about any of those four films, know that --as of me posting this-- the relevant threads are still open for fresh comments.

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We have special open threads set aside for discussing various movies, said discussions including plain text spoilers.  These are they:

-

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!

Open Thread: Random Light


My camera no longer functions properly, so have a picture from June taken in a Burger King.

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We have special open threads set aside for discussing various movies, said discussions including plain text spoilers.  These are they:
   ● Ant-Man and The Wasp
   ● Solo (A Star Wars Story)
   ● Avengers: Infinity War
   ● A Wrinkle in Time (2018)

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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!

Open Thread: Covered Sidewalk


Portland, Maine, a year and two months and three days ago.

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We have special open threads set aside for discussing various movies, said discussions including plain text spoilers.  These are they:
   ● Ant-Man and The Wasp
   ● Solo (A Star Wars Story)
   ● Avengers: Infinity War
   ● A Wrinkle in Time (2018)

-

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!

Time Quintet: Equal and Same

[Wrinkle Content Note: Fascism, Hypnotism, Captivity]

Wrinkle Recap: Alex Murry leads his children (and Calvin) to see IT.

A Wrinkle in Time, Chapter 9: IT

When we last left off, Alex Murry was helping "Charles Wallace" (whose brain is currently occupied and being controlled by IT) lead Meg and Calvin to IT whilst negging on about how Meg isn't prepared to meet with IT. Murry doesn't give her any pointers to resist because he's saving those for later when it will be mostly too late.

On the one hand, as an author I understand this. It's more scary for the reader when they don't know what is going on and are just thrust into a situation without introduction. On the other hand, this tactic can come across as forced and heavy-handed when it's not carefully justified--and moreso here, when it's been the entire book so far. The angels didn't stop to explain anything to Meg et. al. because after years and years of leaving Murry in captivity, apparently it was so urgent to get him right now that there was no time to explain anything or give directions which weren't uselessly cryptic.

Now we're continuing in that vein and it makes me want to pull my hair out: Alex Murry could tell his daughter what they're about to face and how he's been able to resist it for so long, but instead he's chatting with IT-in-Charles about how Meg totally isn't prepared, she won't be able to resist, et cetera ominous scary wooo. This is contrived to keep Meg and the reader in the dark for the Big Reveal, but it looks contrived, like a stage magician shouting "LOOK OVER THERE A PUPPY" because he can't think of a more natural way to distract the audience for his trick.

Open Thread: Thing on my hat


When I first noticed it was on my hat, my hat was on my head and it was hanging upside down so we could look at each other face to face.  Also, my camera was a ways away in my purse in my sister's car.

So I took off my hat, went for my camera, and took some pictures when I got back.

This was taken yesterday.

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We have special open threads set aside for discussing various movies, said discussions including plain text spoilers.  These are they:
   ● Ant-Man and The Wasp
   ● Solo (A Star Wars Story)
   ● Avengers: Infinity War
   ● A Wrinkle in Time (2018)
   ● Black Panther

-

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!

August Newsletter (2018)

Welcome to August! I wasn't sure I'd make it but here I am!

July was an amazing rush for me and flew by. Some of that was bad (my hand still isn't at full mobility since the surgery, and my fallopian tube surgical scars still haven't healed up and keep weeping) and some of it was good (I wrote a whole book from scratch!).

Which, uh, did I mention I wrote a whole book from scratch? It's nonfiction and available for download now, but it'll be going up here in pieces so folks can comment and ask questions. Interactive!

♡ ♡ ♡

So let's talk about rewards this month!

LET'S TALK PATREON REWARDS.

$2+ The Lost Last Princess of Ravelin. This is a three-part story which will be going up over August, September, and (I hope!) October. I really like this one and I hope you will too. It started with an idea from a D&D campaign about a disabled wizard (Mythica fans will recognize the inspiration) and plays with myths, legends, and being propelled into the limelight by others.

$5+ Transcending Flesh, another essay for discussion and questions!

♡ ♡ ♡

And now let's talk projects.

TRANS PROPHECY PROJECT: Don't forget this is out as No Man of Woman Born and available to buy or download! I also have an Etsy store for people who want to buy extra signed copies!

EARTHSIDE #3 PARANORMAL ROMANCE: This is coming along! Slower than I'd like, but definite progress is being made.

FIRE MAGE FANTASY: Still in work, though I didn't get as much done on this as I wanted this month. I have high hopes for August!

HARKEN THE ACCIDENTAL HERO: I haven't forgotten Harken! My hope is to get more of his story out before the year is up.

TRANSCENDING FLESH: Remember that new book I mentioned? You can get it here! For free, or on a pay-what-you-want model at GumRoad! Some of you have already seen the first three essays up here, but I rushed to turn out the other 12 (for a total of 15) because I had someone else's deadline to meet in order to help them with a thing. Let me tell you that writing an entire book in a week was intense and I will never do that again! But it was rewarding and I'm very happy that this book exists now. I hope you enjoy!

Before I sign off, I just want to say THANK YOU. Every single one of you contributing to this blog and/or Patreon is helping me so much, and I can't thank you all enough. Thank you for comments, thank you for support, thank you for the reviews out there on book sites, thank you for everything. My brain weasels were pretty jerky this month, but knowing I had y'all at my back was amazingly good. Thank you. ♥

Writings: Prince Hyacinth (Blue Fairy Book)

Note: This was previously published on my Patreon.


I knew when I decided to rewrite fairy tales from Andrew Lang's "color fairy books" what I was getting into. How did I put in in my first post? Oh, right: He 'collected' fairy tales the way Doctor Frankenstein collected body parts: stealing them in the dead of night and sewing them together in grotesque defiance of natural order. The 'fairy tales' in the color fairy tale books contain pieces of tales you've heard before in more sensible stories, now recombined in absolutely batshit ways. There's no way I'm going to be able to do a read-along-with-me deconstruction of these stories, so we'll have to settle for summaries in each case.

Today's story is "Prince Hyacinth and the Dear Little Princess", and it's really two incomplete stories smushed together in the hopes that you'll be fooled into thinking you read a full one. In the first half-story, a king is deeply in love with a princess but she can't marry anyone Because Reasons. The actual reason is "because she was under an enchantment". What kind of an enchantment? No details are given! We're just supposed to go along, come now, mustn't dwell on little details! The king seeks out a fairy for advice (he just happens to be friends with a fairy, and no, you don't get to know more about that either) and she tells him that the only way to break the enchantment is to step on the tail of the princess' cat. The king is all 'consider it done' and goes home to dig out his best stomping boots.

Open Thread: Red and Yellow


I remember none of the details surrounding this picture.

Sorry for being so late.  (Even later than I was last week.)

-

We have special open threads set aside for discussing various movies, said discussions including plain text spoilers.  These are they:
   ● Ant-Man and The Wasp
-

Friday Sunday 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 almost over, 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!

Open Thread: Ant-Man and The Wasp



This is a place to discuss the movie Ant-Man and The Wasp, including spoilers (without need for ROT 13 Cthulhu summoning.)

Unfortunately the "Current Comments" feature removes whitespace so, to avoid spoilers appearing there, please use some space for non-spoiler comments or just start your comment with some nonsense.

Example nonsense:
[nonsense] Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, id soleat doctus sit, cum te erant omnium. Invidunt periculis at cum, eos diam vivendum no, ea qui vivendum legendos. Verterem similique ut pri, iisque prodesset voluptaria no nam. Eos esse mollis et, mei no putent utamur praesent, nec ex solum saperet. No has soluta molestie.[/nonsense]
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!

Open Thread: Sea Crow


First of all, sorry that this is so late.

Second, have a crow.  My nephew and I were watching bathing seagulls from the parking lot of a supermarket, then in flew a crow.  It had something in its beak and seemed to find the estuary . . . bed?  I'm going to go with "bed", "floor" makes me think of the underwater parts.

Anyway, it seemed to find the estuary bed an inviting place to have it's meal.  Or attempted meal.  I was too far away to see what it was trying to eat, so I have no idea if whatever it was was actually edible.

-

We have special open threads set aside for discussing various movies, said discussions including plain text spoilers.  These are they:
   ● Solo (A Star Wars Story)
   ● Avengers: Infinity War
   ● A Wrinkle in Time (2018)
   ● Black Panther

-

Friday Saturday 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 here, 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!

Self-Promotion: No Man of Woman Born and Other Updates

The Writings page has been updated with my latest book and 800 links to places where it (and my other books!) can be acquired. 💕

Open Thread: Purple Lines and Curves


I think my camera is losing the ability to good close ups (i.e. macro mode isn't working properly) but that's for the resolution it takes pictures at.  I think, scaled down to the resolution we use here, this looks good.

-

We have special open threads set aside for discussing various movies, said discussions including plain text spoilers.  These are they:
   ● Solo (A Star Wars Story)
   ● Avengers: Infinity War
   ● A Wrinkle in Time (2018)
   ● Black Panther

-

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!

Open Thread: Today, with its cloudy sky.


Like all great art, this was taken through a car window.

In spite of it being taken only 23 minutes ago, I don't remember which window in particular, but it was, most definitely, not the near window.  The one on the opposite side of the car would have been the closest possible window, with some possibility that the window was opposite not just left to right but also front to back.

Anyway, it is well recorded (by the ancients and then "rediscovered" in the Renaissance, in spite of certain Medieval art clearly having made use of the allegedly lost knowledge ) that it is important --nay,  vital-- that there be a stretch of open air between the observer and the car window though which the subject matter is observed, if the resultant art is to be great.

In other words:

I got nothing.

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We have special open threads set aside for discussing various movies, said discussions including plain text spoilers.  These are they:
   ● Solo (A Star Wars Story)
   ● Avengers: Infinity War
   ● A Wrinkle in Time (2018)
   ● Black Panther

-

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!

Narnia: The Magician's Neighbor

[Narnia Content Note: Child Abuse, Animal Abuse, Ableism, Mental Illness]

Narnia Recap: Welcome to the start of a fresh new day!

The Magician's Nephew, Chapter 1: The Wrong Door

The ending to The Horse and His Boy was so abrupt that I actually had to go back through the archives to check to see if I'd actually finished the book. Apparently I have! And as there is not yet a THAHB movie of any sort (at least that I know of), we have no intermission. On to the next book!

The Magician's Nephew is one reason why I tackled the books in publishing order rather than canonical order: I remember not being a fan. We'll see if time and distance have mellowed me, but as a kid this was one of the books in the series that I didn't much care for. When I grew up and saw that Harper-Collins was actually packaging and marketing the series with TMN as "book one", I had a hearty bitter laugh and predicted that the kids they were marketing to would never read past the "first" book. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe may have problems, but you can see what Lewis was going for and can fill in the gaps, often without even noticing that you're doing so. The Magician's Nephew is often just... surreal and not nearly so easy to aid with imagination-spackle.

And, if I recall correctly, the women get the short end of all the sticks. But now I'm jumping ahead.

   THIS IS A STORY ABOUT SOMETHING that happened long ago when your grandfather was a child. It is a very important story because it shows how all the comings and goings between our own world and the land of Narnia first began.

I mean! This is the first paragraph of the book, and what is Harper-Collins even thinking? The narrative clearly supposes the reader knows and cares about Narnia, enough so that they'd be interested in a backstory about the place. When you package this as "book one" in a series, you're completely misunderstanding how a reader--

No. Okay. I'm calm.

July Newsletter (2018)

Apparently it's July?????? When? How?

I'm afraid I don't have a lot to report today and I'm honestly really sorry. June saw me go out on my second surgical leave of the year, this time to cut out a cyst which kept expanding on my ovary. The surgery was supposed to be routine and no big deal, but they ended up having to take one of my fallopian tubes. I'm still recovering from all that (my incisions are very ouch) and my emotions have been all haywire.

What's most frustrating is that this was meant to help with a pain I've been having--and which sent me to the Emergency Room last month--and the pain... hasn't stopped. So apparently the cyst was an unrelated thing that needed to come out but we still haven't gotten the culprit. Bodies!

All this has meant my writing has been in a downward spiral of nope because I've spent most of the month sleeping off the anesthetic. But I'm hopeful that July will be better. It can't be worse, which means it will be better, right? ♥ ♥ ♥

LET'S TALK PATREON REWARDS.

♡ $2+ Fantasy Realtor. This was a fun drabble I wrote after thinking about realtors in D&D settings where they need to explain things like the failed summoning circle burned into the living room floor. I love this one, even if it's a short one.

♡ $5+ Fire Mage Chapter 6, the next chapter in my Fire Mage wip!

♡ $25+ Early Access: No Man of Woman Born Signed Paperbacks! I actually made deadline on this, which feels like a miracle! I got these to the post office earlier in the week and some of them have already reached their new homes! This is a huge big happy feeling!

---

TRANS PROPHECY PROJECT: In case you missed it: The book is finished! I'm so excited I could pop! eBooks exist and are going out to you today, and have been put up for pre-order at Amazon and elsewhere. There is a GoodReads page! There is a cover reveal at LGBTQ Reads which is a life-long goal of mine!! This month has been amazing.

DON'T FORGET: Stay safe and take care. I'll be back next month with more. ♥

Open Thread: More Geese


So far as I know there's no suffix one can attach to "gos" that means "Smaller than adult but not so little as the 'little gos' that one thinks about when hearing 'gosling'" but if there were, the middle geese here would be exemplars of the resulting word.

They're clearly still young enough that the two adults feel the need to flank them, and they don't yet have black feathers, but they're definitely nearly full-grown geese.

Taken at Clark's Pond in South Portland.  Not pictured here is the little dam that keeps the pond at its current level.  Where the water runs over the dam is actually right in front of the foreground adult goose.

-

We have special open threads set aside for discussing various movies, said discussions including plain text spoilers.  These are they:
   ● Solo (A Star Wars Story)
   ● Avengers: Infinity War
   ● A Wrinkle in Time (2018)
   ● Black Panther

-

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!

Open Thread: Solo (A Star Wars Story)


This is a place to discuss the movie Solo: A Star Wars Story, including spoilers (without need for ROT 13 Cthulhu summoning.)

Unfortunately the "Current Comments" feature removes whitespace so, to avoid spoilers appearing there, please use some space for non-spoiler comments or just start your comment with some nonsense.

Example nonsense:
[nonsense] Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, id soleat doctus sit, cum te erant omnium. Invidunt periculis at cum, eos diam vivendum no, ea qui vivendum legendos. Verterem similique ut pri, iisque prodesset voluptaria no nam. Eos esse mollis et, mei no putent utamur praesent, nec ex solum saperet. No has soluta molestie.[/nonsense]
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!

Time Quintet: She Wouldn't Be Able To Hold Out

[Wrinkle Content Note: Fascism, Hypnotism, Captivity]

Wrinkle Recap: Charles Wallace has "allowed" himself to be hypnotized and is now being piloted by IT. Meg and Calvin have been led to see her father.

A Wrinkle in Time, Chapter 9: IT

A lot has happened since the last post, and I'm sorry it's been so long. First there were all the Storify threads to get through and then, well, I've been having a lot of surgeries and I'm in pain. But let's do this.

When we last left off, Father was wearing Meg's borrowed magical glasses.

   “Please try them, Father. Please!” She waited while she felt him fumbling in the dark. “Can you see now?” she asked. “Can you see now, Father?”
   “Yes,” he said. “Yes. The wall is transparent, now. How extraordinary! I could almost see the atoms rearranging!” His voice had its old, familiar sound of excitement and discovery. It was the way he sounded sometimes when he came home from his laboratory after a good day and began to tell his wife about his work. Then he cried out, “Charles! Charles Wallace!” And then, “Meg, what’s happened to him? What’s wrong? That is Charles, isn’t it?”