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Starting with the NFE stories - they were great to read through (a stretch, though - I only just got through them all before the Reveal, and didn't get to the Madness) and all good in different ways.  Two that were standout for me were:

revisionist history, by underscored - terrifically full-on, powerful AU Last Battle story, with action galore - physical, moral, psychological, emotional and theological, as the Friends work through a lot, and achieve a lot as well.  Susan-focussed, but starring everybody (though the aged Polly and Digory heroically elected not to slow down the rescue mission). 

Stick In the Mud, by [personal profile] transposable_element  - wonderful story of the great hearts in the Marsh peoples, and how they respond to the coming of Jadis's Winter - utterly Marshwiggle!  (Can't say higher than that!)

And to round out the post - some good stories from round the internet.  (some of them good news stories, some of them just good stories as stories.)

1.  The steep road down from the Bao Loc pass, and truck driver Phan Văn Bắc glanced behind to the passenger coach coming down behind him - travelling far too fast he thought, and looked again into the rear vision mirror - and saw the driver struggling desperately, and the passengers waving, gesturing for help - the brakes had failed!  and..
here's the story, but to be brief - he manoeuvred to let the back of his truck take the crashing weight of the coach, and rode them both together, jammed together, down the pass, holding both heavy vehicles on his own screamingly stretched-to-the-limit brakes.  And saved the lives of everybody.  Phew!

2. Probably most of you have heard this story?  But I hadn't and I loved it.  Of an eighty-year-old UK man with Alzheimer's - to the extent that he was getting physically and emotionally abusive to his loved wife, and not recognising his son.  But his son found (I think he had advice from the local support group) that his father, a former not-terribly-successful singer and entertainer, was a hundred times more relaxed and better cognitively and everything when he drove him round in the car and encouraged him to sing all the old songs he knew.  And viral video, and record deal, and all followed, but what I really, really liked was the stunning and very moving obvious love between the son and his father captured in this in-the-car video.  Strenuously recommended, even if you don't like that kind of music - Quando, quando, quando - video about three minutes. :)

3.  A little while ago, I posted wondering if Sir Nigel Loring had been a model for Reepicheep (no, I decided).  Now I've stumbled across another possible.  This isn't a good news story, because war and battles are never good, and it's definitely not news, but it's certainly a story, though I only know the slightest scrap of it. 
In 1569 the north of England was ablaze with the Northern Rebellion (anti-Elizabeth, pro-Mary Stuart) and 22-year-old George Carey was part of the force fighting for Elizabeth.  The fight of course went into Scotland as well (which was in other turmoil for its own reasons at the time) and Dunbar Castle ended up besieged by the English forces, including reckless, gallant (clever?) George Carey , who challenged Lord Fleming , t he commander of the castle to single combat, and won!  (and was knighted for it, and it's a great way to get yourself noticed in a war, which is why I said maybe he was being clever, not being Reepicheep, but there you go.) 
One of these days, when life's not so busy, I'll look up the full story - I know he won the duel, but I'm afraid I don't know if Lord Fleming then said sportingly "All right, you can have the castle."

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Here it is Monday morning, and I'm feeling mildly cheerful about productivity, having put the finishing touches to the footnotes on a due-today report before breakfast, and after having gone to morning exercises. 

However, getting to that stage did mean that I missed large lumps of the weekend, and hence am late in linking, for anyone who missed it, this wonderfully detailed fossil of a winged-and-feathered dinosaur (you can see the feathers!).  The wings have been judged too small to be effective for actual flight, but I'm imagining it could go as far as wing-assisted hops up into trees, like peacocks.

and as a follow-up to the link about bird and languages last time, it seems birds can also learn other bird languages - though only at the most basic level.  :)

The cricket has been being watched live in this house, thanks to the Indian internet - and lo! there was scored the first double century at Lords by an australian batsman since Bradman!  :)  I know this won't mean much to lots of you out there, but it's significant to australians anyway, since Bradman is a name to conjure with.  (Who reading this does know the name?)

In reading, I have begun Les Miserables, which I have never yet read - so far, just book one of the first volume, and the only main character has been the bishop, the one with the candlesticks, though Jean Valjean has yet to appear.  I felt Hugo was laying it on a bit thick to start with - I get it, I get it - the Bishop is a Good Man.  But in the end, it really is a very winsome portrait of goodness (leaving aside his treatment of the women of the house) - which is causing me to mull over the whole matter of the depiction of goodness in fiction - both nineteenth century and fan-.  How often is it attempted, how is it shown as interesting - or even exciting?  I don't think Dickens ever succeeds, does he?  There's Joe and Biddy in Great Expectations, of course.  Good but ineffectual.
(Mildly relevant quote from Simone Weil, more or less: 
“Imaginary evil is romantic and varied; real evil is gloomy, monotonous, barren, boring.
Imaginary good is boring; real good is always new, marvellous, intoxicating.”
Hugo uses this section, though, to shoe-horn in several essays and reflections about the wrongs of the time (which are also wrongs of our own time).  I liked the essays and reflections, but they are very obviously primarily things he was determined to get into print somehow, whether it was part of the story or not - especially the long colloquy with the dying revolutionary.

as for my own writing:  I'm 500 words into an NFE possibility, without knowing if this is a story I really want to write or not, or if it's the one I'll end up writing, or if I'll end up throwing in the towel.  So far there's nobody particularly Good in it.
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I was blown away by so many of the stories in the NFE (I haven't yet read more than a few in the Madness Round).  I am just speechless at how brilliant some of the writers are -- it was a real feast of reading.  Thank you, Snacky, for running this! (And aurilly, too, for the tag-wrangling part.)

And I received a brilliant story, Concerning the Daily Maintenance of a Large Country House, written by the lovely, generous and clever-as-all-get-out writer, WingedFlight.  As I've said here previously, this story not only opens up the whole Narnia concept (why should these four children be so special? people ask.  Oh-ho, says WingedFlight.) but also gave two wonderful, and amazingly economical, character-sketches, including one of the best literary housekeepers of all time.  What none of us knew about Mrs Macready!  :D

In the Madness Round, I received a lovely story, Lost and Found, by Transposable_Element, a detailed and moving look at the Archenland royal family facing the loss - through miscarriage, illness and kidnapping - of their children, over years, and also working to use their grief to give to other children.

And also was one of five recipients for a sombre, reflective story by edenfalling, How the Skeleton Aches, which looked at the last stages before WW2, and how to respond to the times, through the eyes of Digory and Polly.

It was terrific to read all of these, and to feel somehow associated with them; thank you so much, wonderful writers!

And then there's the stories I wrote.  :)

I wrote two, an assigned one, and a pinch-hit.

My assignment was for metonomia, who asked for "a story from any viewpoint on the lady of the green kirtle, especially perhaps an au that could include more of the star's daughter/rilian's mother." 
  I thought, and leaped in to write "...the marks of that which once hath been", as a story about the relationship between them, which I imagined as beginning after an attempt (by persons unknown - in the story the attempt killed them) to summon up Jadis in the last years before the Telmarine incursions; I imagined the summoned-up Jadis as reincarnate, reborn, fresh, with another chance at life.  
My recipient hasn't been around to read or comment, which takes some of the fun out of it, but I'm not unhappy with the story in itself.  I think I maybe trimmed too much, trying to get under 10,000 words, and should have kept more words, and made some things clearer (for example, the importance of what happened offstage in the three days between the first and second meetings of the two) but overall it got most of the way to where I wanted it to go.  I wanted it to be very clear on the energy and passion in female friendships, and the potential for good, and the damage that can happen when they get on a wrong track.  And I wanted the ways that 'good' people can do harm to be as clear as the ways 'bad' people can do harm, and how they can tangle up.  Much as this paragraph is getting tangled, so I'll skip on to the pinch-hit.  :)

This was the first time I've done a pinch-hit, and it terrified me!   I was assigned aurilly who prompted that "Tirian's the best, and I would like Jill to have some fun. Her two adventures were both so depressing and then she died, wtf. I loved their dynamic in TLB. I ship them.... Anyone else you like can appear as long as the focus is on their relationship. Could be that he visits our world. Or maybe they succeeded in averting the apocalypse and she (and Eustace, if you want) stay in Narnia to help Tirian pull everything back together. Please assume Jill was 17/18 during TLB and Tirian 20/21 so it isn’t squicky." 
I spent possibly a day in a gibbering panic, wondering how to avert the apocalypse, and then found an idea, and wrote like the wind for about three days in a row on To hold back the night. (Thursday is my totally-free day. :D and long may it stay so!)  And tinkered as long as I possibly could, and squeaked in under deadline!  Thanks to WingedFlight the parts which scraped a bit were smoothed out, and my recipient was happy.  :)  I wish I could have written more, but time -- and respect for the readers' patience -- constrained me to stop where I did.  But I do know more of the story (including what Aslan said about it later), and maybe one of these days... (that's a joke -- the number of stories that are in the wunna-these-days bucket is legion).

Saying it again -- the stories in this collection were stunning.  Thanks all; it was an exhilarating experience.  And I still have most of the Madness Round to read!  (happy anticipation!)


Sep. 29th, 2014 09:22 pm
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The Narnia Fic Exchange of 2014 is up and open for reading and there are absolutely fabulous stories there!   Twenty-five stories by unknown (at the moment) writers, ranging right across all of Narnian history and beyond!  Highly recommended!

And the one I got is just brilliant, no kidding.  It's Concerning the Daily Maintenance of a Large Country House, and it's truly an absolute joy.  And light-hearted, and fun, and gorgeously characterised protagonists, and clever as all-get-out, and beautifully written... Oh, and canon-compliant, too!  I am smiling a lot right now, just thinking about it all over again.  :) 

And all the prompts are open now, too, for a Madness Round - open until... (looks at calendar)  Sunday,for anyone who feels like it to write a story,and post - no length requirements, no beta requirement.  :D   I am loving this -- fic-feast!!!
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The first episode of the new series unexpectedly came my way over the weekend, so I watched it, mostly to see what I thought of Peter Capaldi. (I abandoned Doctor Who at "The Girl Who Waited", in Season Six. Pah!) 
I thought he was what you'd expect -- a solid, experienced actor, able to work the script to good effect.  The script itself I didn't think much of -- button-pushing, script-by-numbers, for the most part, but I thought the android's see-through head was brilliant.  And the actor, too, of course.  :)   (And, speaking of aliens' appearances, Strax seemed, curiously enough, less visually convincing than I remember him, or any other Sontarans, being before.)

Apart from that, nothing that would draw me back into watching, though I did wonder... that garden at the end looked a lot like the garden in "The Girl Who Waited".  Can it be that they realise how totally abysmal the ending of that episode was, and plan to unpick it all and start again? 

In other news, trying to write the NFE story is like trying to wade through peanut butter.  Very, very bland peanut butter.  :(

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Arrrgggghhh!   I can't afford another late night, but here I am, gazing distractedly at all the wonderful prompts and wondering if I can (at this late stage)  write a fic for the Madness Round of the Narnia Fic Exchange!

The Exchange has been posting the most amazing and varied stories, and I've been enjoying it enormously.  Only a week to go of the main postings and then the Madness stories have to be in - if I can only pick a prompt tonight, maybe I have a shadow of a chance of being in it.

(There's thirty-nine prompts, very wide-ranging, no word limits, and it's open to all comers. :)  )

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Good news for Senegal.  :)   This woman has a long history of doing really good work! 

Apropos of recent talk about women being labelled as "strong" in fiction (to which I'll post a link as soon as I remember where I was reading it  done!  :D ), the article says:

"Touré is known as the Iron Lady. Every woman who rises to a certain level of government becomes an Iron Lady in the press. The men are, well, just guys."

I did manage my weekend goal of catching up with all the latest postings in the wonderful NFE... but now a new story is up, so I'm uncaught again.

And I also... well, to be frank, I don't know if I finished the new chapter of The Ivory Merchants, but I posted what I had, anyway.  I would have liked that day (in the chapter) to have got further than midday, but there it is, such as it is.

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It's been two months since I last posted a chapter of The Ivory Merchants, and I'm feeling horrendously out of touch with it, but I've got to post a chapter soon, or I'll end up losing the story altogether. 

I've got most of one roughed out, but to get to where I wanted the chapter to get is going to be thousands more words, and I just don't know that I can do that.  Also I just don't feel it humming; it's sitting there like a... I can't even think of a metaphor!  I'll give it one more try tomorrow, to see if I can get to the point where I wanted to stop.

But no matter what, I will post a chapter this weekend.  And I'll catch up with the latest NFEs as well. :)
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I'm not sure if the Dreamwidth community knows about the terrific Narnia Fic Exchange,which has been run annually on LiveJournal since 2008; it's a double-blind gift fiction exchange with anonymous prompts and anonymous stories, all assigned and managed backstage by the amazing snacky.

Every single year
it yields utterly knockout fiction, seriously.**  And this year, this year, (I can't help these italics; I am genuinely thrilled by this!) the story I got as a gift was the most brilliant story ever!

Mazy Rings,Troublesome Things

was my gift-story, and... well, no more words!   :)  It is blissfully good!

It's rated PG, and it has minorspoiler warnings for The Magician’s Nephew and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.  The summary reads: 
....Faerie is a perilous land, and in it are pitfalls for the unwary, and dungeons for the overbold. J.R.R. Tolkien

I tried to make a direct link, but failed.  This takes you to the exchange,and then scroll down to find the story (and added bonus is lots of other stories on the way!)  If I can find a direct link I'll put it in. :) ... and sorted!!!  thank you, lovely Autumnia!!  :D   )

** if you like, I'll offer some recommendations for previous years in another post. :D

heliopausa: (ID pic)
"It may be that the gulfs will wash us down
It may be we shall reach the happy isles..."

...were lines from Tennyson's Ulysses that were running in my head as I looked at the chaotic pile of words which may or may not be hammered into shape as an NFE fic.
And because I am a procrastinator and not at all disciplined in writing, I drifted away to look at the poem, to see if I remembered it right, and found myself on a website which said that Tennyson was riffing off Dante's view of Ulysses when he wrote that, and which quoted a translation of Dante, Ulysses speaking:
"'O brothers,' I said, 'who through a hundred thousand dangers have reached the West deny not to this the brief vigil of your senses that remain, experience of the unpeopled world beyond the sun. Consider your origin, ye were not formed to live like Brutes but to follow virtue and knowledge.... Night already saw the other pole with all its stars and ours so low that it rose not from the ocean floor'"


:)   What fun!  Because, from the thirteenth chapter of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader :
"But the third, who was a very masterful man, leaped up and said, `No, by heaven. We are men and Telmarines, not brutes. What should we do but seek adventure after adventure? We have not long to live in any event. Let us spend what is left in seeking the unpeopled world behind the sunrise.' "

I love this!  :)  (I'm sorry, runesnspoons, (who has gently reproved me before for the doubling-up italics and underlinings) Just one or the other is not enough right now, to convey how cheerful this makes me feel.)
That is, I really, really like C. S.Lewis giving to the imagined children reading his books tiny glimpses of the great literature which waits for them out there, and I like as well the chain of quotings and requotings of stories through centuries.  I can see (but am too lazy to draw!) a huge family-tree of the Ulysses story, thousands of years and dozens of languages long. Which all makes me feel very cheerful.
heliopausa: (ID pic)
Oh my! How do you people manage it all?  I know several of you work on multiple stories at once, but I'm finding it's extremely tricky just to juggle two.  :)

But there you go! NFE has started,and what can you do?  I have huge distractions coming up in mid-July, which will stop me writing anything at all, I expect, for a fortnight, so I'm trying to get a good start on the NFE story now.  'Ivory' though, is likely to go v-e-r-y slowly for the time being.  If I can just manage one more chapter this weekend, then I'll feel I can with honour declare an intermission.

In other news, the new work is going well. :)  And I opened a Dreamwidth account just now,  mostly because I so much didn't like the recent change on LJ.  Haven't set up the journal yet,though.  :)


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