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It was a very full-on week, followed by a surprisingly quiet weekend, which had the great benefit that I could at last find time to begin to think about the Narnia Fic Exchange.  And there was some little struggle involved,wrestling with the form, but finally I can say that
I've managed to sign up for the NFE 2015!

and am feeling tentatively hopeful about the prospect. The freeform tags alone looked like there was a lot of fun to be had.  :)
(If anyone's reading this and wondering if they'd like to play, I assure you it's a most exhilarating way to leap into the Narnia fanfic game!  Here's how!)

Does anyone remember, by the way, that in last year's NFE I wrote about Tirian remembering being taken as a child to "float in darkness where waters lapped and glow-stars spread across the cavern-roofs..." 
That was based on my remembering a visit ages ago to these caves in beautiful New Zealand - truly, almost magically beautiful.

This is the week designated to celebrate indigenous peoples and culture in Australia, called for historical reasons NAIDOC Week; this year's theme is "We all stand on sacred ground: learn, respect and celebrate".  (Yes!)
Of course there's an absolute plethora of things in Australian media I could be linking to, but this is something from the Guardian - about an Aboriginal activist I'd never even heard of, but whose story I won't be forgetting. 
(The business about the search for a photograph puzzled me - surely if you're arrested, there's going to be a photograph somewhere? and then I remembered the Blitz...)

This weekend also is Greece's referendum on its future, and today, fittingly, the psalm-of-the-day was 123, ending: "... we have had more than enough of contempt, too much of the scorn of the indolent rich, and of the derision of the proud."  Yes, for sure - feeling for you, Greece! 
Oh, and here's Joseph Stiglitz on that situation.

and... this weekend's not quite finished, so I still have time to tackle the Great Mango Glut.  For the first time in my life: fruit leather!  Wish me luck!  :)



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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." 
Done!
  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!)

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:)  Third and last.  Well, I trust not the last happy day I'll have -- grave misgivings!! -- but the last of the three days when I undertook to write out three happy things that happened.  So, today:

1.  I discovered a new way through back lanes to the Post Office!  which takes me for part of the way alongside a quiet canal, with trees growing and leaning over the water.  And also in the same happiness, I posted two letters which needed to be posted!  :)

2.  I had a part-share in a NFE Madness Round story - How the Skeleton Aches, by Elizabeth Culmer (edenfalling), which was adroitly addressed to the prompts of five recipients!  And tells of Polly and Digory, once again facing the problem of evil loose in the world.

3.  And as well, I had a whole story linked to a prompt I'd posted!  Lost and Found, by Transposable_Element (who has another linked story in the same collection: The Little Sea).  Both of these deal with King Lune's Queen, especially in terms of her motherhood - prospective, actual, grieving, relinquishing.

So... that's three wonderful and happy things for me today, and thank you redsnake for the inspiration.  (Well, the stories themselves aren't all happy, of course, because they deal with some tough stuff.  But getting them was happy.)

:)

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So redsnake05 said she was planning to post three happy things for three days in a row, and I leaped in to do the same, and here I am at Day Two, and:

1. Last in the day, but I've just finished eating it and it was very pleasant: thin (No.11) spaghetti with homemade tomato/olive sauce  :)

2. Psalm-of-the-day was 19 ("the heavens declare...") which is a hot favourite.

3. I looked, and there's a Madness Round fic out there for one of my prompts!!  (to be opened for reading tomorrow, my time.)

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And more about why I got such a kick out of the terrific story I received in the NFE 2014. :) 

I'm rereading Bleak House in bits and pieces at the moment, and just the other day came across a passage describing tourists going over a stately home, exactly as they do (offstage) in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and as referenced in the NFE story.  I loved the synchronicity!  And was much amused at Dickens' depiction of how bored the Bleak House tourists were:

"As is usually the case with people who go over houses, Mr. Guppy and his friend are dead beat before they have well begun. They straggle about in wrong places, look at wrong things, don't care for the right things, gape when more rooms are opened, exhibit profound depression of spirits, and are clearly knocked up. In each successive chamber that they enter, Mrs. Rouncewell, who is as upright as the house itself, rests apart in a window-seat or other such nook and listens with stately approval to Rosa's exposition."

Oh, very clever, Dickens!  :D

But who is Mrs Rouncewell?  Why, she's the stately housekeeper! )

And putting that together with the story made for another wonderful dimension to the NFE story - that it woke me to the realisation that Mrs Macready is one of a long line of literary Stately Housekeepers, who showed respectable visitors, preferably with a note of introduction, over the great country houses of Britain (before it all went commercial, after WW2, when anyone who could buy a ticket could get in).

To be honest, I can't actually name others in the long line, though of course there's  
the housekeeper at Pemberley. )

But I'm sure they're out there.  And I am delighted that, thanks to the NFE story, I now see Mrs Macready in a whole new light.

(Meanwhile, for those who want the real, non-fictional ancestry of Mrs Macready, Stately Housekeeper,there's this. )


Fic-feast!

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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NFE! :D I love the fun and the wonderful run of amazing stories, and the anticipation, including right now, the gleeful anticipation of the story you're thinking of writing for me! Thank you!

One of the things I like about NFE is how people's imaginations go rocketing off in all directions, making totally unexpected turns and leaps; one of the things I like about Narnia is how open it is to hugely various possibilities, way beyond my imagining.  So I won't be too detailed in this letter about what I like and what I don't, because your story could be a thousand different yet-undreamt-of things.  :)

But still, just briefly:

I like book-verse rather than movie-verse.

I like stories that stretch canon, push at the edges and explore the unexplained. (And Lewis wonderfully left lots unexplained!)  That could be (as I've hinted in one of my prompts) exploring the stories of "minor" characters.  (But who is minor in their own story?)  But it could as easily be the unexplored lands, known or unknown, or worlds, or ideas, or eras, or friendships - up to you!   

I like gen stories, world-building, character-driven stories, plotty stories, stories for grown-ups (ie where life has more complexities than how to organise breathless sex), fairytales, stories that make me smile (or laugh!), culture exploration... 

I mentioned several characters in the prompts, but don't feel confined to those at all.  I like women-centred stories, and would like to hear more of Polly, or Jill, say, though I'd be interested in exploration of what lies behind Peter's (as it seems to me) almost impenetrable control. 
In rthstewart's TSG-verse, I would very much like to hear more about Asim, or what Asim and Lucy encounter together. 
Also OCs are great in pushing the edges (though I'm not keen on OCs brought in primarily for romance, generally speaking - nor especially on shipping as the sole point of the story, or explicit sex.) 

I'd rather not have incest or abusive sex, including dubcon.  Or gratuitous abuse of any kind, come to that - nothing that dwells on cruelty for the sake of it.

Ummm... a quote to end on:  “Imaginary evil is romantic and varied; real evil is gloomy, monotonous, barren, boring. Imaginary good is boring; real good is always new, marvellous, intoxicating.”  (Simone Weil, more or less.)  

There!  Thank you for reading all that, and thanks again for being in NFE, and for writing your story!  :)

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