Happy 2014!

Jan. 3rd, 2014 09:32 pm
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Good Things I Did in 2013:

* Spent lots of quality time with good friends
* Lots of writing
* Lots of reading
* Sold a short story, saw another one in print after selling it in late 2012
* Saw Bonnie Langford perform again
* Visited Rome for the first time
* Went to Vidukon, one of my favourite cons ever
* Attended not one but two folk festivals
* Went to Nine Worlds, one of my other favourite cons ever
* GOT MARRIED!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Seriously you guys it was wicked awesome)
* Pitched to two different literary agents
* Visited the delightful city of Bristol for the first time
* Saw Vienna Teng live
* Went to Bletchley Park
* Sang in my third big concert with my choir

Good Things I Plan/Hope to Do in 2014:

* Spend lots of quality time with good friends, both the ones happily nearby and the ones harder to reach
* Lots of writing
* Lots of reading
* Get a novel published - I've hoped for this at the beginning of every year since I can remember, and I haven't achieved it yet but every year it doesn't happen teaches me more about how I might eventually get there
* Get a new job - my job was ideal until it wasn't. Regardless of how convenient it is in some ways, I need something more interesting and challenging
* Visit Iceland and Japan - the first is coming up in a couple of weeks, the second's in April! We are very spoiled this year
* Attend Vidukon and Nine Worlds, and probably at least one folk festival
* See more live music - Taylor Swift and Dar Williams are already locked in, I'm looking out for more, and I'm also hoping to catch up on some musical theatre soon
* Generally have epic adventures

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 I'm pleased with how Yuletide went this year! I got the most awesome fic - it's Swallows and Amazons fic set during WWII, about Nancy and Dot, and Titty and Peggy, and it's wonderful and sweet and perfect. <3 I don't want to say any more for fear of spoiling it, but it's worth reading if you like wartime stories (and, ahem, lesbians) but don't know the canon well.

I wrote two stories, one M*A*S*H Hawkeye/Charles story and one Liveships/Rain Wilds story about Alise and Amber.

Hope everyone else had a good Yuletide! 
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Hello awesome Galentine's Day person! Thank you in advance for writing something for me!

Details aplenty inside! )

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[personal profile] carawj said: Talk about a book of your choice that I made you read. ;D

This is an interesting question, and to be fair over the years Cara has made me read some individual books, but she's more likely to make me read epic sagas spanning thousands of pages and dozens of books... ;)

One of these was the Robin Hobb series that starts with Assassin's Apprentice and is still going on some thirteen (?) books later. All of the books are massively thick and hugely complicated, with multiple slow-moving interweaving plots, various different forms of magic that can be performed by different people, court intrigue, gossip and scandal, long passages of introspection, and surprising revelations.

It took me a while to get into them - Fitz, the narrator for the first trilogy, is a really interesting character, but at first it was tricky to plough through his pages and pages of grumping around being miserable about how hard his life is. (It IS pretty hard, to be fair, poor Fitz. <3) The world-building and the awesome side characters got me through, and now I adore Fitz, although I still find myself rolling my eyes at him a bit.

What I really love about Robin Hobb is the depth and thoughtfulness of her characterisation. She's created some of my favourite female characters of all time, and some of my favourite male characters too - and I know a writer is good when they actually make me care about dudes. ;) Every Robin Hobb character has layers and layers that gradually peel away over the course of the books until you - and usually they - discover who they really are. Almost every character you hate when you first meet them, you end up loving them at the end because you understand so perfectly what brought them to where they are. Characters who start out afraid, weak, childish and annoying learn and suffer (often horribly) and endure to become brave, strong, mature and loveable. And their paths are never predictable - Robin Hobb sets up a situation and then flips everything sideways so nothing happens the way you expect.

Basically they're awesome!

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[personal profile] beccatoria said: I still remember, the very first time I met you, you told me about this ~amazing~ sounding low budget S4C X-Files rip-off called Arachnid? And I spent a good forty-five minutes on google trying to find clips from it and failing, therefore, please regale me again with tales of its glory...

(For those not [personal profile] beccatoria - S4C is a Welsh-language TV channel.)

I remember that! I'm just going to burble out everything I can remember about it...

Yes, it was called Arachnid, it was a six-episode miniseries that went out in, I think, early 2001, and it starred Grug Maria (I think?) as a woman who ran an internet cafe, back when the internet was still new and cool. As far as I know the internet cafe itself was called Arachnid, hence the name of the show. It was set in South Wales somewhere, on the coast. She ran the internet cafe with a male friend, and I think they had a sort of will-they-won't-they romance going on. 

The spooky goings-on kicked off when a young man washed ashore on the beach, unaware of who he was or where he had come from. The main character, whose name I sadly cannot remember, was in some way involved - possibly she found him - and got to know him a bit as he slowly recovered from his ordeal over the course of the six episodes.

There was a big mystery around the young man, and possibly-played-by-Grug-Maria-lady was trying to solve it. I think there were also weird side things going on but I can't remember how or why she got involved in any of it. In one episode there was some sort of spooky wood where people kept dying, or something. Another episode involved her running around some sort of creepy abandoned building - a hospital, maybe? Or some sort of dockside storage facility? I remember the sea playing a part. There was also a cult who were evil and scary and trying to prevent her solving the mystery for some reason - at some point they captured her, I think. I think they were trying to find the young man and kill him? Because he had some sort of destiny?

I remember a spoiler about the ending, and who it turned out the young man was. It was a very sci-fi twist. I'm tempted not to tell you in case we ever get hold of it. Surely S4C must still have it in an archive somewhere?

From what I remember it was really cool - spooky and atmospheric and genuinely scary, relateable characters, kind of gory in places, good mystery, slightly more on the sci-fi side than the X-Files... but then I was like fourteen when I watched it, so it might not be as good as I remember - I really wish I could watch it again to find out but there's barely a trace of it even on Google...

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[personal profile] parcequelle said: Your relationship to inspiration and ~the writing process~. :D

Ooh, good question! And one that I'm really still figuring out. At the moment I'm in the middle of writing a second novel, having finished a first one and been told by more than one agent that they like it but it's not marketable in its current form. I'm also generally juggling at least a few fics. 

When I'm writing something big, I try to do it in a linear fashion, so that when I get to the most exciting bits it's like a reward. Also it just makes more sense to me that way. I tend to write through a first draft comparatively fast, and then go back and leave notes all over everything, and then tackle them in reverse order of difficulty.

Wow, this got long... )
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[personal profile] tellitslant said: Places you would like to travel and why.

Good question! And there's a long, long list that boils down to 1) places I've never been before; 2) places I've been to and loved; 3) places where people I love are.

Starting with number three and working out from nearest to furthest - I'm grateful that my immediate family live on the same small island I do, but it makes me sad that even so the prices of trains make it difficult for me to get back to North Wales more than a handful of times a year. I would love to be able to go there more often, and to Nottingham where a couple of my best friends still are.

I used to go to Russia every year, but it sucked me dry financially every time. I'm not sure when I'm going back, especially given recent developments there.

Most other people I wish I could visit more/ever are in Australia or the USA or Canada.  *waves at you all*

Number two, places I've been to and loved - again, Russia. The things going on there at the moment are so troubling, but I did a lot of growing up while I was living there and St Petersburg especially is one of my cities, y'know? Also, knowing [personal profile] carawj has given me a taste for Italy - I've been to Amalfi, Naples, Pompeii and Rome, and I could stand to see more. I've also been fortunate enough to have [personal profile] silly_cleo show me Athens, and as much as I liked it just as a place, what I really bonded with was the food. If I could eat Greek all the time I would be perfectly happy. So much yummy cheese and veg! (To be fair, the part of London I live in should make this easier!)

Places I've never been - where do I start? Well, the US, I suppose - I'd love to go to Boston, and New York, and San Francisco, and Dollywood and Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I'd love to go to Canada and make a pilgrimage to Prince Edward Island. I studied German for years and never got around to going to Germany, and I'd really love to. Basically, though, anywhere I haven't been yet, I'd really like to because I like new places! And I was going to say Japan and then I realised that I am going there, in a few months! Also I'm going to Iceland in like a matter of weeks! And I've been out of the country at least once most years for the last several, which is really damn lucky and an awesome position to be in.
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For anyone wanting to know, my [community profile] fandom_stocking is HERE!

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[personal profile] amaresu said: Vidding!

Quite a broad topic there! :D 

Like so many people, I started vidding because there was a vid I had to make. When I was living in St Petersburg as part of my year abroad, when I got homesick I  would watch Sarah Jane episodes of Doctor Who. At around the same time I discovered a Cerys Matthews song called Open Roads (Never Said Goodbye). I  realised that it would make an awesome vid, but from previous failed experiments I knew my computer was too slow to handle it. (Someday I will remake that epic Scully sciencing vid that just refused point-blank to render.) So I played the song over and over and thought about what clips would go where, for months, until finally I  got a new computer that could just about run Windows Movie Maker ok.

My next stint in Russia was in a rural community with basically non-existent internet access, and I made some of my next few vids there as a way to amuse myself and make myself feel less lonely. For the first couple of years that I vidded I only made Sarah Jane/Doctor vids - when The Sarah Jane Adventures started I branched out into that, but at first for me vidding was very connected to Sarah Jane and the community at sarahjane_fic on LJ, where I spent most of my fannish time. It wasn't until I dived head-first back into my first fannish love, Star Trek, that I started to branch out a bit, and now I vid mostly Star Trek but also other things now and then.

That was when I realised that vidding, as well as being a fannish activity in many fandoms, was also a fandom in and of itself. It was an interesting change - I went from being basically the only big vidder in a very small pond to discovering that actually there was way more to vidding than I'd thought and that some vidders were hugely popular across fandoms, and some vidders were doing amazing things with special effects that I hadn't even imagined, and some vidders were using vids to make their own narratives, and some vidders were having conventions that were all about vidding! 

Sometimes now when I watch my early vids I cringe a bit, but when I watch that very first vid, it still says exactly what I want it to say, albeit possibly in a different way than I  would choose to say it now. I'm still on a very steep learning curve, vidding-wise, and I don't think I'm naturally talented at it, especially the whooshy, make-it-pretty side, but I do have a lot of fun doing it!
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[personal profile] thirdblindmouse said: Tell us about a DS9 character you don't normally talk about.

Ooh, this is tricky. I talk about so many DS9 characters on a regular basis... Looking at a list of the main cast, I've definitely had conversations IRL and on Tumblr about all of them fairly recently, and even the recurring characters, I've talked about some of them at length... I pointed this out to [personal profile] carawj and she was like "Well, you're going to have to talk about one of the boys then". Sadly this is true. ;) 

So I think I'm going to go with Weyoun (although I'll try to avoid spoilers for [personal profile] silly_cleo's sake.)

What I find interesting about Weyoun is that he seems to honestly think that he's quite a nice person? And not in a Dukat way - Dukat has built his whole self on this illusion of being a benevolent father figure to people he casually destroys, he can't bear to be thought of as evil, he believes all his own hype - but with Weyoun it's subtly different. He doesn't need to maintain this kindly self-image, he just genuinely doesn't see what all the fuss is about. Why wouldn't anyone want to be part of the Dominion?

He can be totally merciless and manipulative in spite of that, though, and I think in quite a conscious way. I mean, he was basically designed to get more people into the Dominion in whatever way he could, and if that involves lying, manipulation and coercion, that's fine, but he doesn't get why it has to mean people still can't be his friend?

Which is all interesting in light of how ruthlessly bred to purpose he is - having no appreciation for aesthetics, for example - and it's fascinating to see the times when he tests the boundaries - is he what he was designed for, or does he have free will? Hmm.
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[personal profile] raven said: If you don't mind talking about it, how's married life?

I don't mind talking about it! (And actually, yesterday was our three-month-iversary, so it seems like a nice time to talk about it.) So far it's, in some ways, exactly what I expected - that is, just the same as it was before. We were already living together and we already knew we wanted to spend our lives together, so getting married was more an affirmation of where we already were than a step into something new.

And yet, it is a tiny bit different. Just in small ways. Like, I like the word 'wife' better than any of the other words we've used to describe our relationship. I do like 'partner' for its simplicity but it's just ambiguous enough to lead to awkward misinterpretations, and you'd think 'girlfriend' would be fairly obvious but the amount of times I've talked about 'my girlfriend' and had people go 'oh, so what does your... friend do?' etc. And 'fiancée' always led to: 'what's his name?' 'her name is Cara...' and then the OTT gushing about how wonderful that is and isn't it nice that you can do that now, which I don't mind because it's well-intentioned but it does get a bit embarrassing. As a word, 'wife' is unambiguous and implies permanence, both of which, for our relationship, I like. And it's just kind of fun to say.

Changing my name has been an interesting experience too. I took Cara's surname for a variety of reasons, and although it's weird to get used to, I'm quite enjoying it. I'm less enjoying the hassle changing it caused with my work email address/log-ins being messed up, and I'm quite put out by the people noticing the change and asking "oh, did you marry someone Welsh?" when I was Welsh all along and Cara, in spite of having a very Welsh-sounding surname, is barely even a tiny bit Welsh. But I like the balance it gives my name - my first name is Welsh to the point of being unpronounceable for some people, and I mostly use my middle name for simplicity, but having a more Welsh last name makes me feel better about that in a weird way. (I'm keeping my original full name for writing, though.)

In terms of how day-to-day married life has been, like I said, pretty much the same as it was before. Although with added work stress for both of us for various reasons, but minus wedding planning and nerves. I miss the wedding planning a little bit, but mostly I'm relieved that it's done. I miss the actual wedding more - it was such a wonderful day full of people we love and who love us, and it felt really special. Some people who follow me on here know that I haven't had the best track record with family members accepting my relationship/identity, and although I don't need anyone's approval to be with Cara, it felt wonderful to know how much support and love surrounds us. The thing that's made married life noticeably different so far is I'm still feeling the ripples from that day, remembering how happy it was and how kind everyone was to us.

And of course Cara herself is as perfect as ever, and a constant delight, and I'm so excited to see where we go next.
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[personal profile] such_heights said: I know you've had awesome fantasy Star Trek crews before - if you were in charge of bringing back the show for a new 7 year series, what would you like to do with it?

Oooooh, good question! Yup, my dream Star Trek crew is here and I still think it would rock! But more generally... hmm... top of my wishlist are things to do with casting - any Trek series worthy of bearing the name at this point really ought to have at least as many women as men in the cast (and possibly at least one character who was neither male nor female, especially since there's a canonical basis for it, and even more so in the extended canon), wide racial diversity, and at least one queer character whose name is in the main titles - as a bare minimum. Also I'd put more aliens than humans in the main cast, and a less Earth-centric view of Starfleet and the Federation. A non-human captain would be a good place to start with that, I think.

It'd be set on a ship. DS9 is incredible but I'm not sure you could do it again. Things I would borrow from DS9, though - the excellent character development and arc-based plots. I think people expect that much more from sci-fi now than they used to, anyway. I'd like to dig deeper into what it's like to live on a small ship with the same group of people for several years. I'd like things to have consequences, I'd like characters to take their time recovering from things they went through.

I'd also like to steal the epic Bechdel-passiness of Voyager, and the sense of adventure in the unknown. I love love LOVE TNG but sometimes it did feel a little like they were boldly running little errands for the admiralty. The ship in my Trek series would probably not be totally out of reach of the rest of Starfleet, but they also wouldn't often be in a position to get help quickly or come home a lot. Maybe some sort of long-term exploration mission, which could bring them into contact with new allies and adversaries whose issues would lead to interesting storylines.

I'd set it a comfortable amount of time after the end of Voyager (perhaps roughly 15 years or so, so that characters from earlier shows could cameo now and then and be around the right age.) and I'd try to make it not outright contradict at least the more sensible extended universe canon - a lot of people are invested in the continuation books as the story and I'd like for it to fit in, within reason.

Above all, I'd try to keep Star Trek's optimism and hope for the future. I think DS9 did a great job of walking that fine line, telling sometimes quite dark stories but still keeping the overall tone hopeful. A lot of stuff these days seems so grimdark, cynical and pessimistic - Star Trek shouldn't be about that, it should be about imagining a better society, even if it's one that's still far from perfect. So the show would acknowledge the flaws of its characters, of Starfleet and the Federation, but also it should be about trying to figure out how to make the universe a better place.
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 Everyone's doing it! Including me, now!

I am doing the lazy version without specific days, though. ;) Give me a topic in the comments and I'll talk about it at some point in December!
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Song: Copenhagen (Let Me Go), by Vienna Teng
Fandom: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Length: 2.59
Size: 65.5 Mb
Download: HERE and subtitles HERE
Summary: Begin again, don't let me go. Dax adjusts to her new circumstances.
Content Notes (highlight to read): major character death onscreen, brief shot of a character cutting their own hand and drawing blood in a ritual setting
Spoilers: Big ones for Dax's season seven arc.
Vidder's Notes: This was made as part of the Aims Vid Album, a project to vid all the songs on Vienna Teng's new album. Check out the masterpost for more information. This is also my first time making my own subtitles, so any comments or concrit on that front are welcome. Thanks to [personal profile] shinyjenni  [personal profile] raven and [personal profile] carawj for betaing!

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 Hello Festividder!

Thanks in advance for making me a vid, I'm really excited about it! Really I'd love absolutely anything for the fandoms I've requested, so feel free to do your own thing, but here are some ideas to help you out if you want!

Stuff in here! )
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Greetings, awesome writer person!

Clickety! )

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Hello lovely Femslashex writer person!

Thanks in advance for writing something for me, and sorry I'm doing this post so late! I'd love anything in any of the fandoms I requested, so whichever one you want to write is awesome.

Cuuuuuut! )
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An update!

1) The wedding! It was lovely! A really fun, informal, loving day, full of friends and family and niceness. A few pics here on my Tumblr for anyone curious. [personal profile] carawj looked beautiful, everyone else looked really cool too (seriously we have some well-dressed friends), my dress was floofy, everyone was nice, there was cake and dancing, and I'm still getting warm fuzzies thinking about it. Plus the three days in the Lake District afterwards were lovely. Couldn't be happier about the whole thing. :)

2) In other real-life news, I'm job hunting again, for really serious this time. I'm pretty happy with most aspects of my life but work-wise I'm going nowhere and I think it's time to do something about it. Mostly looking at editorial stuff, still, although as always I'm toying with the idea of teaching because I love doing it, but put off by all the crap I know comes with it.

3) Yuletide is getting into gear again - I've nominated Tenko, Seraphina, Swallows and Amazons and Moondreamers!

4) I'm pondering a potential vid and I'm looking for ideas - folks, tell me some of your favourite examples of the following in visual media:

* women supporting each other during tough times
* women encouraging each other to be brave
* women being brave in all sorts of ways, with or without help
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 Because why the heck not?

One prompt per comment, you can reply to a prompt or do something without a prompt, more than one fic per prompt is allowed.

Fanworks of any sort are fair game, as are just rambles about how much you love that character.

Post fanworks here, or if you prefer tumblr use the "trek women fest" tag.

Play nice and have fun!

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 Had the most amazing weekend at Nine Worlds! Here's a rundown:

Clicky for Many Words )
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