media blackout

media blackout

I am…desperately behind on writing. This summer–since mid-April–has been…very bad, for writing, and the two projects I hoped to have completed by now are…not. :/ Which means that with 4 months left in the year I also have 4 major projects I want finished or significantly dented, which is…unlikely. I mean, like two of those books are half-written; two are not written at all. I also have three short stories and some copy edits to do, the sooner the better.

I am therefore declaring a media blackout in September. Unless I’ve written 2K that day I don’t get to watch any television (an intention made easier by the fact that we watched the last 2 episodes of Defiance on Saturday & have not started anything new in the interim). New movies, which are not serials, are permitted, so long as I have achieved my daily wordcount.

I have…a book. That I need to finish reading this week. Otherwise my reading is confined to re-reads if I can even bring myself to do that, because reading new books takes too much commitment. (I may permit myself the exception of Sarah Rees Brennan’s UNMADE, which is out in September and which may be the perfect between-projects quick-read option…)

I’m going to largely try to stay off of social media, save for using Twitter for #1k1h projects. I will be utilising my internet-blocker, Freedom, extensively. In theory this means if I sit down at a computer all I’ll have available to me to do is, y’know. Write.

If it goes well, I will binge-watch s9 Supernatural (if it’s out) or s3 Veronica Mars at the beginning of October, and then make all the fudge in the world. :)

Anyway, so yeah. I should hopefully be mostly offline for the next 30 days, although I have some hope of getting some blog posts scheduled so this isn’t a total barren wasteland.

Green Tea Cupcakes

Green Tea Cupcakes

So yesterday was the 200th birthday of Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, Irish author of such gothic classics as UNCLE SILAS and CARMILLA. Swan River Press, a small Irish press specializing in gothic horror and half-forgotten Irish authors, has done a rather splendid celebration of Le Fanu, including

- a track at last weekend’s Eurocon

- a walk through Dublin with Le Fanu’s life & career as the path

- a lecture last night by Le Fanu expert Jim Rockhill

- and the release of DREAMS OF SHADOW & SMOKE: Stories for JS Le Fanu, a collection of short stories written in homage to Le Fanu’s work

…all of which comes to me because one of Le Fanu’s most famous stories is Green Tea, and my friend Brian (proprietor of Swan River Press) asked me if I could make green tea cupcakes for the lecture last night.

So I did. :) I’d never made them before and they turned out very nicely, and Brian asked me to document the making of them, so there’s a bunch of pictures behind the cut. :)

ETA: Oh, recipes, on request: I used this green tea cake recipe (substituting buttermilk for the yogurt, because it’s what I had (plain yogurt, buttermilk & sour cream are all 1:1 exchangeable in baking)) & this green tea buttercream frosting recipe. :)

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Unforgiven: A Highlander fic

Unforgiven: A Highlander fic

So a few weeks ago, Medieval POC, the website I feel is the actual purpose of the Internet existing, posted this picture:

rock_howland

and requested immortal vampire fic. I was all like “VAMPIRE WUT NO HIGHLANDER OBVS!” and she said that would do too.

And then I, er, had an idea. And then…well, then this happened:

Unforgiven: A Highlander Fic
Etruria (today, Tuscany): ca 500 BC

The last thing he remembered was the lion killing him.

He didn’t expect to awaken in a field; he did not expect to awaken with a surge of pain that felt like his blood had been set on fire. That faded quickly, as if was no more than a warning of things to come, and he was left again with the strangeness of awakening at all, much less beneath the blazing sun and surrounded by wildflowers. His faith said the afterlife would put him in a home much like the one he’d left, domed and comfortable, and that he would be reunited with the family who had gone before.

It said nothing of a sharp-nosed man crouching over him, expression patient, as if he had been waiting for some time and was prepared to wait longer yet. “Ah,” he said. “There you are. What’s your name?”

The answer to that seemed a long time in coming; surely the dead knew who roamed their own realm, and the lion’s blows had rattled his own brains. “Alcaeus.” he finally replied. “Who are you?”

“Alcaeus. What on earth were you thinking, going after the lion?”

“A child was going to die.” That, he remembered more clearly than his own name. The boy had stood up and said it all very simply: today he would be fed to the lion, the Nemean Lion, the beast of the north. Alcaeus might go in his stead and slay the monster; if he failed, then in a month’s time this child of no more than ten years would be sacrificed to appease the gods and draw the beast away. There were three paths before him that day, and two led to the child’s death.

The third, of course, led to his own glory, and the survival of a child, besides. It was reason enough to have acted.

Still, it earned a derisive snort from the slender man. “Children die all the time. And if you didn’t notice, you died instead, accomplishing nothing.”

Alcaeus’ eyes closed in dismay. He had known, of course; he remembered the blows that killed him, but this was so unlike the afterlife he had been prepared for…. “You are not Leinth,” he said after a time, and opened his eyes again. “Laran?”

A softness came over the man’s face, an inward change that could not disguise the masculine lines of his nose and jaw but which somehow awakened all that was female within him. “Could I not be Leinth? Deity of death, god and goddess?” His female manner faded as quickly as it had come; Alcaeus could only stare in wordless astonishment at his shifting aspects as he spoke again. “But Laran…Laran is closer. God of war,” he said, and a depth of bitter irony shivered through his voice. It returned to its usual tenor with his next words, the change so swift it might have been imagined. “You can call me Laran. But as it happens, you’re not dead.”

“Thank the gods.” It was not that he minded dying, but waking in a field of flowers under sunshine and the sarcastic voice of a thin-faced man was not what he hoped for from the afterlife. “…why am I not dead?”

“Because you’re immortal. Get up and get out of here before anybody else realises it.” Laran stood and offered his hand, pulling Alcaeus to his feet. “You already know how to fight, so I’m not going to waste my time on you. The rules are simple: you can’t die unless your head leaves your shoulders. There are others like you who will try to kill you for your power. You’ll feel them coming. Kill them or talk your way out of it and you might just live forever. Good luck.” He strode away, leaving Alcaeus alone in a field of golden flowers.

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10 movies

10 movies

I’ve been working on this list for a while, and in the past few days an actual meme of it seems to have popped up on Facebook, so I don’t know, maybe it’s in the gestalt. It was surprisingly difficult to come up with the list.

Ten movies I will watch over and over again, in no particular order:

1. While You Were Sleeping
2. The Cutting Edge
3. The Replacement Killers
4. The Hunt for Red October
5. A Knight’s Tale
6. Sliding Doors
7. Maverick
8. Robin Hood (Disney)
9. The Princess Bride
10. Much Ado About Nothing (Branagh, tho possibly Whedon too)

Fantasy Fudge update!

Fantasy Fudge update!

Soooooooooooo the fudge fundraiser closed out on Saturday morning at a preposterous 615% funded and about 60 pounds of fudge promised to people all over the world.

The truth is that *making* the fudge isn’t nearly as big a task as packing it up will be. I’ll be sending out a Choose Your Package (1 type, 3 types, or Sampler Package) poll soon, and will make and ship the fudge in October. My expectation is that I’ll be spending weekends making and packing fudge to ship on Mondays, and I’ll probably be doing so in order of Sampler Packages, Three Fudges, and One True Love (because I reckon I’ll be knackered and doing the easiest ones last will be less awful than doing the complex one last :)).

The videos and recipe ‘book’ will be done along with the fudge in October and delivered in early November, with plenty of time for everybody to try making their own fudge for the holidays.

And speaking of which, while the project didn’t quite reach the $5K goal for the Joanne Makes Fudge short story, I’m going to write it anyway, because it’s going to be funny. :)

You guys. Really. OMG. Thank you, and I hope you all like the fudge. A lot. :)

(Yesterday on twitter I said “I have a…a thought. An #OldRaces thought. An #OldRaces crowdfund thought. It…it is not a wise thought…” and somebody said, “Did the crowdfudging teach you NOTHING, woman?!” I said it *had*, and that what it had taught me was that an Old Races crowdfund would probably work… :))

(no, don’t look at me like that, it would be a 2015 project if I did it, I can’t do it right away, I’ve got all this fudge to make…)

Shamrokon!

Shamrokon!

Shamrokon was a lovely, fun, totally exhausted weekend. Not so much exhaust*ing* as exhaust*ed*; for some of the attendees it was the 3rd con weekend in a row, and for lots of them it was the 2nd. It turns out that’s a lot. :)

I myself was on three panels (all of which went pretty well), helped judge the Golden Blasters, which are one of my very favourite parts of the current Irish fandom scene, and threw a Let Them Eat Cake party on Friday night.

The biggest mistake of the cake party was not limiting people to only two slices before they had to go to the back of the line, because although we started with this:

shell_beforeparty (From bottom to top, left to right: vegan/gluten-free peanut butter brownies & carrot cake; gluten-free chocolate hazelnut cake with chocolate ganache & lemon polenta cake (compliments of Susan Connolly); plates (the round white thing mid-table :)), diabetic-safe chocolate cake; Welsh cakes (compliments of Catherine Sharp), lemon cake; red devil’s food cake & more plates; baklava (compliments of Ted), German chocolate cupcakes & pecan sour cream cake.)

then this happened:

shell_qu

shell_queue

and then there was this:

shell_afterparty

while the line was, I’m afraid, still out the door. So I learned something, not, I said, that I was going to do this again, a statement which was not helped by Ted making lists about things he’d do differently next time and ultimately, as it turned out, not helped by people having met me and therefore apparently totally not believing that I would not do this again. :)

Despite running out of cake–oh, and there was fudge:

kit_fudge

–anyway, despite running out of cake (and fudge), it went well and was a lot of fun and watching people swoon was pretty great. :)

I also got Lawrence Watt-Evans to sign both THE MISENCHANTED SWORD and his latest book, A YOUNG MAN WITHOUT MAGIC, and got to hang out and talk with him (& he wants one of the cake recipes :)) and with Laura Anne Gilman, who was, most splendidly, over for the weekend and the source of a wonderful lunchtime conversation on Saturday (I still owe you five quid, Suri). I caught up with a few other people, but–in true con fashion–TOTALLY FAILED to catch up with many others, including Charlie Stross, for whom I had specifically made one of the cakes. I believe his slice of it was delivered this afternoon by Kate, though, so whew. :)

I also managed to catch–or more likely, finally succumb to–some degree of con crud. After a month of travel and conventions I thought maybe I was going to get away scot free, but it seems not. Late Saturday afternoon my throat began hurting badly, so instead of staying to watch Doctor Who with 300 of my closest friends, I cut out a little early and stopped for the god-awful Chinese herbal tea I usually take when I’ve got a cold coming on. A few cups of that seems to have wreaked havoc on the cold, and we watched Doctor Who at home, and enjoyed it quite considerably.

At the closing ceremonies, as co-chair Brian Nisbet said, “We’ve done Europe, next, THE WORLD!” Dublin 2019 rah rah rah!

(pictures mostly nabbed from my friend Shelly, but i don’t remember who took the fudge pic!)

Dublin 2019!

Dublin 2019!

Dublin 2019! That was the other thing I wanted to mention in yesterday’s Loncon blog!

As you know, Bob, Dublin is putting in a bid to host WorldCon in 2019. I got involved with the bid about 18 months ago, and I’m really excited about the prospect.

So, apparently, is everyone else: by Saturday night at Loncon there were apparently about 250 pre-supporters, people who have given 20 quid to help finance the bid itself as well as the convention. There were many others who asked if we would be at Shamrokon in Dublin *this* weekend, so they could place their pre-support payment then.

Furthermore, we had people asking who our guests of honour would be and what weekend we would be holding it. *laughs* Right now, at least, there sure seems to be a lot of positive buzz and enthusiasm, which is just terrific. Moreover, Loncon’s organiser this year, James Bacon, is also the man behind Dublin 2019, and he had the Convention Centre Dublin people over in London this weekend to show them what a Worldcon was. The venue is already secured, but they apparently came away pretty darn enthused about the prospect of having 8000 SFF fans descend upon them in 5 years’ time, which is wonderful. :)

Loncon!

Loncon!

Loncon was pretty amazing.

It was well-run, with the only really visible snafu being that they weren’t prepared for 3000 people to show up at 9am Thursday, imagining, instead, that they’d show up more gradually through the weekend. So Thursday there was a Very Long Line to pick up registration materials, but they handled it super well and kept it moving. A highlight was my friend Kate, after walking from one end of the very long convention centre concourse to the end where Loncon was taking place and then discovering the very long line to stand in, tweeting “Nobody told me I should bring a scooter to Loncon!”

Within seconds Loncon had responded with, “We have scooters. Do you need one? We can get one to you if you need one!”, leaving Kate to say, “No, no, I meant a kick scooter to vroom along with!” Indeed, I saw more than one person over the weekend who had one. :) But they were really on top of their social media and keeping good track of things like that. Kudos!

I will be here the rest of my life if I try to write out the con as I saw it in detail, so to keep it short, my panels all went pretty well (the moderator didn’t show up for one, causing me to take over, and it went–almost as if I’d prepared to be moderator. There were a couple things I failed to pursue that I hopefully would have if I’d actually prepared, but it went pretty well), and I got to meet a variety of people on them (Mur Lafferty! KELLEY FREAKING ARMSTRONG!!! Kate Nepveu!), which was lovely.

I got–perhaps because I was there 4 full days–to actually talk to *nearly* everyone I wanted to, often for a quite respectable amount of time. I caught up with a bunch of writers I’d met at previous Octocons (bless you, Irish fandom, for the access to and subsequent friendships with, so many absolutely fantastic and talented people). That was amazing, since most cons involve shouting, “We must have coffee!” at one another across a crowded room and then never seeing each other again.

I saw my former and current Del Rey editors (and also sat nearby and listened to Scott Lynch talk to said editor about the next Gentlemen Bastards books, all the while thinking, “There are hundreds of people at this con who would flay somebody to be sitting here listening to this,”), which was on both accounts absolutely lovely.

I also, *finally*, got to meet Ursula Vernon. I have known Ursula online for fifteen or more years (“We’ve known each other what, six or seven years?” she said, and I was like, “No, no, we’ve known each other this entire century, Urs,” and she was all WHERE DOES THE TIME GO!?!?!?!?!) and it was freaking. brilliant. to meet her. She’s just like herself. She was also barely inside the door when she saw someone in a Digger Kickstarter t-shirt and went up to the woman and said, “I like your t-shirt.” The woman said, “Oh thank youGLALGDLSIHSGHAGLHGFFFAAAAAH!”

It was awesome. *Lots* of people did things very similar upon realizing that That Was Ursula Vernon, and Ursula was bemused while I was amused. :)

(I did something like that myself, actually, to a woman two people ahead of me on the escalator. She turned to the lady between us and said something like “Are you CE Murphy?” (I have no idea why; I never saw the woman’s badge, so maybe she was a Murphy?) and the woman said, “No,” but happened to be glancing down at me as she said so, and finished, very smoothly, with, “But this is.” The first woman nearly fell off the escalator. :))

On a professional level I made a couple of contacts, one of which was a renewal of an acquaintance and which may prove very fruitful, so I’m so very, very glad I got to go.

On a personal level I GOT TO MEET KIM STANLEY ROBINSON OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG ahem and actually–didn’t quite hang out with him, per se, but on Saturday after a panel he remembered me (like, my actual name, not just CE, as it said on my badge) from his kaffeeklatch thing on Friday and invited me to walk downstairs with him for a brief chat and then Sunday I ran into him and happened to know where he wanted to go and he didn’t, so I walked him there and then let him go, but OMG, I actually got to like spend seven or twelve minutes really chatting with him, which was pretty well #diesofsquee.

Also Lawrence Watt-Evans recognized me (from Twitter) even after having just arrived at the con and being jet-lagged. #diesofsquee

Okay, who are we kidding, I had a lot of total fangirl moments this weekend. :) (Michelle Sagara introduced me to Tanya Huff. “Oh!” I said, delighted, “I love your books!” “And I love yours!” she said. They had to pick me up off the floor after that…)

Although actually I think the tip of the hat goes to Kate, who got to buy Brian Aldiss and his wife a cup of coffee and sit and have a chat with them on Sunday, and also had her picture in the Guardian. Twice! That’s pretty well out-of-this-world awesome. :) (She also said to me yesterday, “I was telling Cory Doctorow that my friend CE Murphy had gone to Kim Stanley Robinson’s climate change panel–” but I had to make her stop after the first ten words I had to make her stop and repeat that, because wut. I’m not sure I’d ever seen her quite so pleased with herself. :))

People I did not know came up to me and asked just how much fudge I was going to have to make. (The fundraiser is down to its last 5 days and 11 pounds of fudge now!) And, as it had been requested, I brought fudge, and was offering it to people. The best one of those (besides the marriage proposal) was when I offered Kate Elliott and my friend Camille a piece.

Kate said no thanks, she didn’t like fudge, and Camille (for whom I found & tweaked until satisfactory last year’s ginger-maple fudge) took one eagerly and said “She makes incredibly good fudge.” I said, “I do make incredibly good fudge,” very matter of factly, and Camille said, “See, she can’t even be modest about it because it’s so good,” and Kate said, “Okay, I have to at least try this,” and she took a piece and had a bite and said “Oh my GOD. That’s like a brownie and fudge mixed together. Oh my God. I don’t even like fudge and that’s good fudge.” So that was cool. :)

Um. There was one other really specific thing I wanted to mention and right now I can’t remember it at all, so I think I’ll go ahead and post this and call it good. (Especially as this is a 1200 word post, which, given it’s the *short* version of a con writeup, seems like possibly more than enough…)

things to say

things to say

I have a lot of political posts warring in my brain to be written and not much actual will to write them right now, it seems. I guess in another couple weeks I’ll see if I still want to say them.

In the meantime, this is a good body image campaign.

Ten days to go on the Fantasy Fudge Fundraiser and $1077 to make me write a story about Joanne attempting to make fudge. :)

After running out of ink and getting a new toner cartridge, my printer has started jamming on hideously wrinkled pages. After consulting the internet, I have taken its guts apart and discovered that the, uh, toner roller, or something, roller is, as the internet suspected, wrinkled. I have not yet concluded whether it can be unwrinkled or if it has to be replaced, but it’s putting a big, uh, wrinkle, in my plan to print up a 200 page manuscript for proofing. Argh, sez I; argh twice.

My MAGIC & MANNERS patrons have caught up to me and I honestly have no idea when I’m going to get ahead again. Not this month, unless a miracle occurs. Probably September, assuming all goes well. Which hardly ever happens. :)

Gabra Zackman starts to record the audio book of SHAMAN RISES today!

Ted and I are watching The 100. The worldbuilding in it is appalling. The story is apparently interesting enough, because we keep watching, but my *God* the worldbuilding is bad. I barely go an episode, HALF an episode, without wincing over it internally and frequently commenting externally. It makes me want to write my own post-apocalyptic dystopian young adult series with *good* worldbui–oh wait, I’m shopping that around right now, I remember. :)

Um. I guess that’s all for now. Except my thinks to do list so I remember the thinks to do on it.

- print up & proof STONE’S THROE
- catch up on M&M
- make many cakes
- go to shamrokon
- finish nephew’s book
- make green tea cupcakes
- go to la fanu birthday party
- type up & post MPOC’s fic

TBR shelf doom

TBR shelf doom

I’m afraid the TBR shelf has gotten totally out of control again, and I have two SFF conventions coming up. This cannot bode well. But it’s not my fault! We went to America, where there are thousands of different titles you can’t find here! I found Barbara HamblyHamilton’s Abigail Adams murder mystery series! I got Michelle Sagara’s CAST IN FLAME (which is my new favourite of the series, OMG, the action! OMG, the end!)! I got new Jack Campbell books (I love them. they do exactly what they say on the tin)! I got a new Lawrence Watt-Evans book, and then I learned he’ll be at Shamrokon so I can get him to SIGN it (and more importantly, also my 25 year old beat up copies of the Misenchanted books!!!!)! I got Carol Berg’s new book (which has a glowing cover quote from some CE Murphy person)! I got–

I got a whole bunch of cosy mysteries (in the name of research, NOT THAT I’M STARTING A COSY MYSTERY SERIES DARN IT) and I took pictures of literally dozens more because I couldn’t possibly buy them all or remember their titles but I might want to later! :)

Also, ever so slightly in my defence, Mom gave me several of her already-read mystery novels so those have been added to the stack too, even though I didn’t technically buy them myself. :)

Next year I really *am* going to have to limit myself to reading only books by people I know personally, just as a way to get through the backlist. The question then becomes whether people I’ve interacted with on Twitter count…

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