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Part of the problem is that I'm sort of between fandom right now. Star Wars has pretty much dried up and while I've been reading everything Umbrella Academy I can, nothing is clicking on my head. Anyone else get like this? What do you do when your fields are fallow and your well runs dry?
After we all finished gorging ourselves, the imam have us a tour of the place. They began construction in 2017, moved in in 2018, and are still putting on the finishing touches. It's a very lovely building with an enormous dining hall in the basement and an elegantly understated sanctuary decorated with calligraphy of Koran quotes. One of the things a lot of the folks from our temple were struck by were the small rooms in both the men's and women's side where a parent could take a noisy child so as not to disturb everyone while still getting to pray with the congregation.
The imam was incredibly patient answering everyone's questions and made an impassioned speech about the importance of inter-faith get to togethers and understanding, especially in this day and age. They recently installed a new safety locks on their doors and had an extended debate on whether they should keep people from entering the sanctuary once prayers had begun. Our temple had a similar debate following Pittsburgh and even considered asking congregants with weapons permits and military experience to act as guards. We ultimately came down on the side of not doing that and the mosque opted to keep their doors open during services to welcome any stragglers. It breaks my heart that these are conversations congregations need to have.
Growing up, I was not a Star Wars fan. I'd seen the OT, we had a bootlegged copy of the Ewok Adventure my dad recorded off tv and the free Return of the Jedi glasses from Pizza Hut, but I wasn't a fan. I watched the movies when they were on, but they never captured my imagination. I didn't write fic or seek out any of the tie in material. I never got around to seeing the Prequels or cartoons. I just didn't care about the franchise.
Then I saw The Force Awakens and Star Wars devoured my brain. I started writing fic, I bought DVDs of everything, and a bunch of new EU tie-in stuff. I watched Rogue One in theaters twice! I'd never ever done that before. I was well and truly obsessed.
Then The Last Jedi happened and all that love just curdled. I've broken up with fandom before. Buffy and I slowly drifted apart after the show went off the air. I dumped Supernatural's dumb ass after it hurt me one too many times. I don't want TLJ to have ruined Star Wars for me. I want to keep loving it, I want to be excited. But I'm not and it breaks my heart.
Characters: John Winchester, Azazel, Dean Winchester, Sam Winchester
Notes/Warnings: Demonic possession, general unpleasantness
Summary: He and John have been playing cat and mice for a while now, but this is the first time they've ever gotten to really spend time together. Azazel's knows it's going to be fun...for him anyway. Tag to Devil's Trap.
This was written back in 2013 and, for some reason, I feel it may have been written in response to some challenge, although I have no idea which one. Re-reading it, it's clear I wasn't yet on board the John-Winchester-was-a-shitty-father train. The show laid the seeds for that early on, but it wasn't until after he died that the narrative made it pretty explicit.
Research is my jam and also my job. When writing fic, I re-watch, re-read, and check all the fandom wikis to make sure I've got the voices and details just right. For stuff set in the real(ish) world, I've researched everything from a particular Marine unit's timeline in Vietnam to the layout of a historic cemetery in Baltimore. Once, I spent a day at a university library reading an ethnography of an obscure cult in Benin for a story I never actually got around to writing. So, yeah, when it comes to pre-writing research, I go hard.
And that's why it bothers me so much when it's clear that other people just haven't bothered. I'm not talking obscure details here or HP fandom Brit-picking. Yesterday, I read a fic where the author was under the impression that London was on the ocean. The Umbrella Academy fandom has seemingly decided en mas that there was trench warfare in Vietnam. I just---why? WHY?! It's not like they have to hit the library to clear up these weird misconceptions when Wikipedia and the internet are right there!
Look, I get it. Not everyone has the time or inclination to do the same crazy levels of deep dives as me. I get that half of my obsession with researching the details is just another way of procrastinating. I get it, but that doesn't stop me from dying a little inside every time there's a bank open on a Sunday morning or someone is knitting with a crochet hook. Or trenches in Vietnam. God, I still can't get over that.
What bugs you the most fanfic-wise? Spot any try egregious research fails you want to taunt me with?
Some other highlights of the conference included:
- Presenting a session on genealogy tours and tourism
- Learning about an underground railroad which smuggled Chinese immigrants into the Northern Tier of New York from Canada at the turn of the last century
- Catching up with all my former co-workers and fellow alumnae
- Meeting a fellow ace museum worker
- Eating some really nice food and having my work pay for it all
Early Riser by Jasper Fforde. Despite already having started another book, I saw this one at the library and just had to check it out. I do love me some Jasper Fforde and his whimsical dystopias. Early Riser didn't disappoint on that front, taking place in a world plagued by global cooling where humans hibernate during the winter. Our protagonist, Charlie Worthing, is a Novice Winter Consul who has volunteered to spend the winter awake watching over the sleepers only to discover two competing conspiracies and a monster that's a lot less mythical than it should be. I breezed through it, mostly because it was really hard to put down. If you enjoy a good psychological thriller laced with weird British humor and Welsh cultural reference jokes, this may be the book for you.
A Grave's a Fine and Private Place by Allen Bradley. Thanks to picking up Early Riser, I'm not any further along than I was last week.
Last night I borrowed Mortal Instruments: City of Bones from the library when I returned my book as part of my on-going quest to see every Robert Sheehan film and I must say, it was aggressively terrible. I remember enjoying Cassie Claire's work back when she was doing Harry Potter fic, so I have to assume the books aren't that bad, but, my god, the dialog was so clunky and the relationship dynamics where cringe-y as hell. There's also a TV series based on the same books, right? Shadowhunters? Does it suck less since they have more time to develop the characters and world building and stuff?
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Characters: Xander Harris, various OCs
Summary: The newly empowered Slayers are like a thousand Coke bottles in the desert. Xander goes looking for one among the Bushmen of Botswana.
Notes: This was another one of the stories I wrote for ludditerobot 's Scatterlings and Orphanages," a Xander in Africa writing challenge back in 2006, except I didn't get it finished in time to make the cut. I did a crap ton of research for it, but couldn't make the story gel until I decided to go with an interview transcript format.
A Grave's a Fine and Private Place by Allen Bradley, the tenth book in his Flavia de Luce series. Generally speaking, I'm not a huge fan of murder mysteries, but there's just something so incredibly charming about this series. It's told from the POV of a 11/12-year-old chemistry-obsessed girl who is simultaneously whimsical, clueless, strangely insightful all at the same time. I love me some unreliable narration and this series has it in spades from a girl who reminds me a bit of myself at that age and is probably some stripe of neurodivergent, as is literally everyone else in her family.
I'm only two chapters into this latest book and so far all she's done is go on holiday with her sisters and find a body. The game, as they say, is afoot.
What I'm reading next
Probably not much. I'm going to a three-day professional conference at the start of next week which will probably slow me down reading-wise. I'm still on the hunt for some satisfying Umbrella Academy stuff. I swear, if I have to read one more fic whose author genuinely thinks there were trenches in Vietnam I will scream. It wasn't World War I, people. Do some freaking research!
Fandoms: Avatar/In Plain Sight
Characters: Mary Shannon, Marshall Mann, Zuko, Iroh, Brandi Shannon, Peter Alpert, Stan McQueen, Azula, Ozai
Summary: A car bombing in San Francisco lands Marshall Mary Shannon in a whole lot of hot tea or Zuko and Iroh hide out from the Flame Triad in witness protection.
I wrote this back in 2013, but I actually started it at least a year before that and struggled to find a satisfactory ending. Then I started fencing and Zuko's story line just clicked.
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold - I picked this up at the library used book sale and did not expect to enjoy it as much as I did. It's a fairly sad story about a family's struggle to recover following the murder of their oldest daughter and, while that's not normally the type of thing I read, I couldn't put it down. I think it was the narration. Having the story be told by the daughter's omniscient ghost made it just surreal enough to be haunting instead of just depressing. I'm still trying to decide whether or not to keep it. Will I read it again? Will it bring me joy?
Title: At the Crossroads Well Met
Summary: The Yorùbá god Eshu meets an interesting man in a market in Benin or, for sixteen palm nuts, Xander accidentally hires a divine tour guide.
And its sequel:
Title: Goddess in the Water
Summary: Xander and Eshu find romance, a mystery and car trouble on the road, just not necessarily in that order.
I did a crap ton of research for this series. Both are set in Benin and feature a lot of local religious and mythical figures from that region. I actually had several more stories planned for it. The next one would have been "The Masks We Wear" in which an evil mask turns its wearers into vampires and Xander teams up with some followers of the warrior god Ogun to help put a stop to it. In retrospect, it would've had some pretty serious white savior bullshit going on, so it's probably for the best that grad school ate my life at that point. The third one would have involved actually finding a Slayer and would have tied in somehow to Benin's long tradition of female warriors. I wish I still had my notes for that one, but they got lost somewhere along the way. Oh, well.
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie which tells the story of the unnamed narrator and his friend Lou as they are re-educated in rural China during the 1970s. It's apparently based off of the author's real life experiences of the same and it's alternately charmingly silly and deeply sad. The narrator and his friends are the sons of doctors and, therefore, class traitors, and have pretty much resigned themselves to a perpetual life of shit, at least until they discover a suitcase full of forbidden Western literature and a hot local girl. They're both a pair of teenage idiots and I found myself alternately charmed and frustrated by them. I kind of wish I'd gotten to see more from the Little Seamstress. Lou basically decides that she's hot, but uncultured and takes it upon himself to fashion her into his ideal woman using Western literature only for it to backfire spectacularly in a My Fair Lady sort of way. I would have loved to see how she felt about it, but since the story is told from her boyfriend's best friend's POV their whole romance feels weirdly distant and detached.
I liked it, but I probably wont be keeping it. I'm trying to get better about not hoarding every book I buy. Only the stuff that really sparks joy, as Marie Kondo would say.
?????? Probably some more unsatisfying Umbrella Academy fanfic before I find another one that really hits the spot. Anyone got any recs?
Characters: Sam Winchester, Dean Winchester
Summary: There's a whole five dollars in Daddy's wallet. Dean and Sammy use it to buy groceries.
Have I mentioned just how much I love unreliable narrators? Because I really, really do. This was me playing around in the Weechester pool while indulging in some unreliable narration about their shitty, shitty childhoods. Also, peanut butter and marmalade are really good.
On to actual books!
We Are Robin Vol. 2 - Breaking up is hard to do, but a crisis brings the band back together. I really need to see if there is a trade version of the Robin Wars because the jump between this volume and the previous one doesn't make much sense without it. Still, I enjoyed the core team and am pretty sad only Duke moved on to prime time.
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie - I picked this up at last years library book sale and am only a few chapters into it. It's about a pair of teenage boys sent into a rural village for re-education during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. The author has a real knack for setting and description
What's Next: Who knows?
Thank you for agreeing to write a story for me. I’m sure it will be great. Since you probably don’t know me, I guess I should tell you a little bit about my likes/dislikes.
Likes: I usually prefer gen, especially focusing on platonic and familial relationships. I’m interested in found families, biological families, younger siblings, sidekicks, clones with identity issues, friends who become lovers and friends who don’t. I like crossovers and aus which reveal interesting aspects of the characters. I enjoy outsider POVs, unreliable narrators, and women being well rounded human beings. I enjoy a good character study and have serious respect for stories with actual plot since that’s something I tend to struggle with. I'd prefer something heavier on the comfort than the hurt, but the story doesn't need a purely happy ending. The thing I am really looking for is a nice kick in the feels.
Dislikes: I am not into romantic plots and tropes, or graphic sex. I’m not a fan of alternate setting aus and I don’t really get a/b/o. I have a huge embarrassment/humiliation squick and have issues with infidelity, so please avoid those.
Do not want: Smut, graphic depictions of sex or bodily harm, sex 'fixing' a character, incest, mentor/student sexual relationships, character bashing
( fandom specifics: Dragon Prince, Spiderman, Umbrella Academy, Young Justice )
Characters: Sam Winchester, Dean Winchester, John Winchester
Summary: Dean is four years older than Sam. No matter what happens, Sam can never catch up.
I wrote this back in my LJ days in the mid-2000s. Anyone else remember the Weechesters community there? Those were the days, hanging out, reading and posting alternately heartwarming and heartbreaking stories about Sam and Dean's dysfunctional childhoods. Good times.
Anyhow, on to the stories!
Second Wind - Ahsoka Tano takes the wrong exit out of the world between worlds and ends up with a second chance at saving her master. (Ahsoka Tano, Shmi Skywalker) I wrote this for the Past Imperfect Future Unknown time travel exchange for LittleRaven
For Amidala - Her handmaidens had all poured so much of themselves into Amidala, it was like they were part of her now. Padmé didn't know if she had the strength to let one go. (Padmé Amidala, Sabé, Naboo Royal Handmaidens) I wrote this for AceQueenKing's prompt in the Bring Her Bleeding Heart To Me femslash ficathon.
After the Funeral - Han offers Luke some unexpected support after the funeral of the guy who tortured him. (Luke Skywalker, Han Solo). I wrote this for Sholio 's prompt in the Friends Will Be Friends ficathon.
A Modest Proposal - The mess with Vernon Masters has left Daniel's office short staffed, but he has some replacements in mind. (Daniel Sousa/Peggy Carter, Edwin Jarvis, Howard Stark) I wrote this for lillianmmalter in the Agent Carter Valentine's exchange.
Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree - Three people who thought Peggy Carter and Edwin Jarvis were having an affair and the one person who knew better. (Peggy Carter, Angie Martinelli, Jack Thompson, Daniel Sousa, Edwin Jarvis/Ana Jarvis) I wrote his for AgentMint in the Agent Carter Valentine's exchange.
Black Lightning (TV)
Comic Book Life - Comic book Thunder's boyfriend knew what his woman was up to, so why couldn't Anissa tell her girlfriend? (Anissa Pierce/Grace Choi).
For my next trick, I plan to finish out my ladies bingo card and sign up for the hurt-comfort exchange. Like I mentioned the other day, I have an idea for a Bei Fong ladies tribute vid. Unfortunately, when I went to rip the DVDs this morning, neither of the two programs I have for it would work. Do any of you know anything about MakeMVK or Handbreak? I could really use some advice.
Ms.Marvel vol. 8 - I had purchased vol. 9 in a pre-Christmas sale only to realize I'd somehow missed this. I had the guy at my local comic shop order it for me and I'm glad I did. This comic is not messing around when it comes to commentary on all types of extremism and current American politics. Jack Kirby would be proud.
Smithsonian magazine, January/February 2019 - This double issue was all about the war on terror. Portions of it, especially the article about a former Abu Grab interrogator were hard to read.
I recently purchased volumes 2 & 3 of Champions and volume 2 of We Are Robin. I should probably read them.