Category Archives: Recs and Links

Fandom Love Lessons

If you’ll just indulge me for a moment, I promise I’ll have recs at the end.

Lately, Kait and I have been back and forth a bit on this thing called fun.

Kait tends to be all work. That’s…something of an understatement. But she has ever been the sort who has goals, plans to reach the goals, gets ticked at stuff that gets in the way of the plans and the goals, and thinks a lot about goal-related efficiency. If you got tired thinking through that sentence, welcome to my world. But lately she had a little bit of a freakout minipiphay that she was turning into a bit of a machine rather than an artist.

So we’ve been on that topic a bit lately. For me, I am so buried under the massive guilt of what I haven’t done, that I can’t get out of the rubble to reach the keyboard. And I’ve been here before. It’s not a pleasant place to be. Lots of stuff going on and reasons for this, but it’s not what the post is about.

What the post is about is that I need fun. And the problem with me is that I engage in things that interest me, but I’m so consumed with guilt about it that it doesn’t do what it should for me, and I can’t really throw myself into the fun or my work or anything because you can’t wholeheartedly approach anything when you’re buried in rubble. You follow?

And I need to find the fun in writing again. I need the drive and excitement back. I need that feeling that I can’t wait to tell you what happens next, that I can’t wait to see how it unfolds myself, when I can’t stand that I have to go buy groceries because it takes me away from my story for a whole hour.

You know where I’ve found that, lately? Fanfiction. Reading this or that at FanFiction.net lately has reminded what it was like to just sit down and write stuff. To just tell a story for the love of the characters and the love of just telling a story. I don’t know if I could ever write it myself. I think I’m so bound up in perfectionism that getting someone else’s character and world detail right would just be another layer of crazy for me.

Which leads me to a related note: Hmm…I really enjoyed that, I didn’t actually care when the wording got a little clumsy, or when the characters got swept away in the moment and their voices got a bit off, or if this or that detail wasn’t precisely the way I remembered it.

Some of that going on lately, times when I realize that my standards for everyone else on the planet are quite fair, while those for me are just hatefully, impossibly unreachable.

So, I don’t know, maybe I could take a baby step here. Give myself something I’m allowed to love obsessively and without guilt and see if owning a little actual joy would help lift some of the rubble rather than add to it.

Well, there was another bit of rabid self-involvement for you. To thank you for sticking with me, I have two recommendations for you to check out:

Fandom in Stitches is pretty awesome. Even if you’re not a quilter, it’s fun to look at. I mean, I get a kick just out of seeing how much people LOVE stuff.  You should bum around there until you find the Harry Potter and HP Project of Doom stuff. On this page you’ll even find a Serenity logo.

Which brings me to my second rec: Voices and Visions, a Firefly/Serenity fanfic. Post-Miranda, dealing with the Washlessness, some Simon x Kaylee, some nice Mal x Inara, but this one’s mostly Jayne x River, and oh, is it over 100k words of Rayne emo porn that I could not put down. *swoons*

I think I have to call my Reforming Rogues Anonymous sponsor and get to a meeting.

 

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Movie Rec!

So long story short (don’t look so shocked), I was talking with Kait about a story idea and she said, “You should watch The Adjustment Bureau.”

So I did.

And it was exquisite. I mean, this is the kind of thing that I really enjoy, but I just loved this thing. Half the time lately I find myself going–gee, that could have been really awesome if they had shifted a bit of that special effects budget and hired a WRITER. But this screenplay was excellent. Loved. And the acting was very good. And the directing! Just…I really liked this one.

Recommended for people who like…

  • Everything happens for a reason
  • I’ll fight the world/God/the Devil/etc to be with this person
  • movies where the guy runs at the end
  • Fringe’s September and those other Observer dudes

Doesn’t stream on Netflix–DVD only, but you can rent it for $2.99 on Amazon if you can’t wait. Which, after the seeing the trailer, I could not.

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Sheepdog Pimpin’

Seriously, you click a title like that?

Once upon a time, I thought Jay Donovan (formerly known as @techsurgeons, now @jaytechdad) was just another fun Twitter peep. He has a very sharp wit and, hey, he likes my work. What more can you ask?

One day he wrote to me and very kindly suggested that I should take care regarding my virtual security. First he explained to me how he was a “white-hat hacker” and “a sheepdog” and “not a creepy stalker,” then told me how the information I had out and available could get me into trouble, and made suggestions for what to change to make me safer.

During my privileged time as a friend of TechFamily,  between charming and amusing tidbits about the TechWife and TechKids, Jay has walked me through the writing of DMCA takedown notices to sites pirating my work, pointed me to the right information for rooting my NOOK Color, and helped me with other such points of tech note.

To sum up, Jay is a Friend To Authors, awesome, amusing, brilliant, (currently the owner of a big, swelled head, no doubt,) and the guy from whom YOU should learn more about your internet security.

What is with this outpouring of TechLove? No, it’s not just a Valentines Day warm-up, it’s to let you know that Jay is giving a class on Internet Privacy and Security that I think you should check out.

You’ll shudder in fear, laugh, and learn in a serious but fun class that teaches how to be safely social on the Internet while keeping your personal information private.

I’ll introduce some simple techniques for safer web surfing, keeping your address & phone number offline, reducing the chances of your accounts being hacked, better ways to hide behind a pen name, and much much more.

Jay has been a geek since before geeks were cool.  He’s done it all, from remotely debugging the Internet connection for a US aircraft carrier deployed to *REDACTED*, to being responsible for the servers and networks for one of the largest Internet sites in the world, and the most challenging job of them all – parenthood.  He’s trained as a Certified Ethical Hacker (yes, really!) and always uses his geeky powers for good.  When he’s not neck deep in wires and computer parts, you’ll find him hanging out on Twitter as @jaytechdad.

Now, I know you’re going to rush right over there and sign up. At the bottom of the form, you’ll see a box where you tell who sent you. Feel free to drop my name. I think my column of our friendish deeds balance sheet is looking a little bare by comparison and surely I will need another favor in the future.

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If Cinderella never had a ballgown…

Everyone loves a good Cinderella story, a rags to riches tale in which a young woman (or sometimes a young man), comes from nothing and finds true love and a new life with a someone who just happens to be royalty, terribly attractive, and loaded. Win!

One thing classic Cinderella lacks a bit is…well, a good relationship plot. I mean, if the story never existed and someone tried to put it out as a romance novel right now, reviewers would be lining up to make with the bashing. What is this? One night of dancing and he’s in love with her? And her state of poverty doesn’t even MATTER? Really? And is she really in love with him, or is it just about the money? The relationship happened too fast and there just wasn’t enough there…yadda yadda yadda.

They would then go on to complain that they didn’t really like the character of Cinderella because she doesn’t do anything. For the first part of the story she’s just sort of enduring stuff. And that’s all well and good. But then, when it comes time go out and get what she wants, she has to have an outside character–some Fairy Godmother– come in and make it happen. And THEN, when she meets with that whole ticking clock obstacle and has to run off, she then just waits around for the prince to find her. Really? I mean, she’s, like, this totally passive heroine who just waits for other people to come around and turn her into a vampire change her life and make her a princess.

So, while we love Cinderella, we usually need more in our Cinderella stories these days than pretty people and fancy clothes. Which brings me to the actual subject of today’s post, the Korean drama series, Coffee Prince.

O.

M.

G.

How much did I love this show.

Strong heroine?

Check. Seriously, you cannot help but be impressed by this girl. Now twenty-four years old, Eun-Chan’s been supporting her family since her father died when she was sixteen. Her younger sister is still in school, and her mother is not the sort to be very good at, you know, working. What the mom is really good at is buying shoes. Eun-Chan teaches Taekwondo, delivers milk, delivers take-out, hand sews the eyes on stuffed dolls at five cents per piece, and does pretty much any other odd job she can get her hands on. She’s a somewhat over-the-top character with boundless energy and good humor–and she’s really, really strong. The one way in which she really differs from Cinderella Classic: she’s often mistaken for a boy.

Impossible relationship?

Check. Okay, maybe you don’t know this, but I have a thing for impossible relationships–relationships that are set up such that it seems like it would be impossible for these two characters to get together, or that there’s some bit of information that, when it comes out, will make it impossible for them to stay together.

So you can kind of guess where this is going from what I said above, right? She’s often mistaken for a boy, and that’s just what happens with her prince charming, Han Kyul. When the show really starts to get going, it’s because his family is making him go on a series of blind dates hoping he’ll find a suitable bride, and he’s miserable. So Han Kyul hires Eun Chan to help break up these boring dates by showing up posing as his gay love interest. And yeah, that pretty much does the trick.

After the family gives up trying to set him up, Han Kyul is more or less forced–in a do this or lose your cushy lifestyle sort of way–into turning a failing coffee house into a money making machine. It would be great for Eun Chan, who has just lost one of her jobs, to be able to get a steady job at a coffee shop. When Han Kyul decides to cater to the young women from the nearby university, to call the shop Coffee Prince with an all-male staff of “princes,” Eun Chan has to continue her charade of playing the boy or lose the opportunity.

The growth of their relationship is exceptionally well portrayed. Eun Chan is attracted to Han Kyul, but knows nothing can come of it because she can’t admit she’s a girl. And, if she did, she figures nothingwouldcome of it because Han Kyul’s the kind of guy who can get any girl and why would he want one who can pass for a guy? As their friendship deepens, she decides that has to be enough.

It’s on Han Kyul’s side that it gets sort of fascinating, because, as the friendship deepens, he’s clearly falling for Eun Chan. For all the right reasons: her intelligence, humor, dedication, abilities, strength of character–all the awesome about her, and there’s plenty. How she fills out a ballgown is never part of the equation. I mean, how refreshing is that? He can’t actually fall for her because…she’s not a her. But she is, and he is falling for her. But he knows he’s not gay. But he feels this. And it’s really making him quite insane.

And then, when you’re so deep into a lie like that, how do you get out? And what’s going to happen when you do?

Oh the tension! Oh, the drama!

And the humor. And the secondary characters and their storylines.

I seriously loved this show. I’d say it lost a bit of steam in the last third of the series, but I thought it was worth watching the whole thing and I really enjoyed it. Now, it’s probably NOT for you if:

  • You don’t do well with a bit of exaggeration or suspending disbelief.
  • You don’t do subtitles.
  • You don’t enjoy stories from other cultures.

I mean, some people don’t, and you might not enjoy it like I did. Like Japanese stuff, there’s exaggeration here that’s different from what we usually see in American entertainment, so there are a number of things that might seem over-the-top, especially if you’re new to Asian fictions. But know that going in and then just sit back and enjoy it for what it is. It’ll grow on you.

So if you think Coffee Prince sounds awesome, lay in some supplies, set aside about seventeen hours of your weekend, get to Hulu and check it out.

If you don’t mind being spoiled just a smidge, I found this clip on YouTube. Still thinking she’s a boy, Han Kyul is trying to cope with his more than friends feelings for Eun Chan and thinks maybe if he just hugs “him,” just once, that will make things better.

If Han Kyul had ever read a romance novel, he would know this would not work. Just sayin’. [ETA: I just noticed that the video clip got nabbed by the copyright police. Don’t you love it when you’re trying to sell someone else’s shit and they make it harder? Again, just sayin’.]

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Superhero party! Pass the cupcakes. #ROW80

Just going to make it for ROW80 check-in today. Not a lot to report. After I made my words for the week on Tuesday, I basically took the rest of the week off. This and that going on, lack of time management skill, lack of inspiration, no lack of procrastination skillz, blah blah blah.

Well, yes, it’s sad that SIEGE didn’t write itself through in the second half of this week, so let’s cheer ourselves up with a virtual superhero party. Look, I’ve been shopping. Pass the cupcakes. And if you’re planning a real superhero themed birthday party in the future, Etsy’s got you covered with everything you need to make it special.


Superhero Super Hero Birthda…

$2.75

Superhero Birthday Invitatio…

$1.00

Superhero Candy Bar Labels &…

$10.00

Mix and Match Superhero Cupc…

$10.00

Comic Book Superhero Birthda…

$45.00

Superhero Party Favors Treat…

$13.99

Superhero Cupcake Wrappers

$8.00

Superhero Sound Effects Set …

$7.00

Avengers Thor Captain Americ…

$11.00

8 SUPERHERO MASKS printable …

$20.00

50 Superhero Mix Paper Straw…

$8.00

Printable Superhero Collecti…

$20.00

Batman Superhero Party Favor…

$15.00

Superhero Sayings Fondant Cu…

$30.00

Superhero BAM Action Cookies

$48.00

Superhero Cupcake Toppers

$20.00

Treasury tool by Red Row Studio

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Should have known better than to cheat a friend

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Jane Austen video game??

Matches and MatrimonyI’m so there.

Mass Effect 2Amazon’s got a lot of video games on sale this week. Like Mass Effect 2 (from Bioware, makers of Dragon Age) for $4.99 and BUNCH of casual games for $1.99 each (click link, scroll down). That’s how I found the Jane Austen based Matches and Matrimony.

A while back, I posted about what games I was playing and how I had really Surviving High Schoolenjoyed the text adventure, Surviving High School that I had found in the DSi Shop. It was in that post that commenter, Lisey, recommended Bioware games to me and got me started down that path, but still I really like the simplicity and choose your own adventure/romance of a game like Surviving High School.

Matches and Matrimony was fun. It’s not very complicated or active and if that’s what you need, look elsewhere. It’s mainly a fan game with a lot of reading. While it starts out very much in Pride and Prejudice, the story–at least the one I played through, was a combination of Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Persuasion. There are three Bennet sisters, Jane, Lydianne–a combination of P&P’s Lydia, S&S’s Marianne, and Persuasion’s Louisa, and your character, whom you may name yourself or will be named Lizzy by default.

Game play consists partly of choosing skill-building activities for your character each week, Regency appropriate activities that build the Recency period desired characteristics of Wit, Willpower, Talent, Sensibility, Kindness, and Propriety. These, and your character’s energy level, affect what actions will be available during gameplay. The other part of the gameplay is the choices your character makes about actions to take and responses to other characters.

Matches and Matrimony Screenshot

There are 8 suitors, one named Wickeby, who seems to be a combination of Wickham and Willoughby, as well as Bingley, Darcy and others you meet along the way in the game. There are 9 possible endings. In a feat of spectacular matriomonial fail, I managed to unlock the “Miss Bennet” ending when I played and married no one.

I totally felt like this was worth $2, and maybe even the regular price of $7 if you’re a big Jane Austen fan and know all the books/movies practically by heart. It’s fun to see how the game marries the various storylines. Good luck dissuading Mr. Collins, though.

I would totally support a Buffy game of this nature, just sayin’.

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Sunday Mashup and Mashup Tips

Recommended Reading

I’ve had these for a few weeks and keep forgetting to post them on Sunday. Oops.

Finding the Dream, Daring to Dream–no wait, that’s a Nora trilogy
But the dream can be yours! You guys know how much I believe a good critique relationship can help your writing. I really enjoyed this post on how to find your dream critique group. A lot of it is about knowing what you want and need and not being afraid to say so. (via @JamiGold on Twitter)

It’s not about the comments
I got really excited when I read this because the article focuses on a point I think is important: What is the purpose of your blog? Is it to get comments, is it anything to do with the blog itself? Or is it to sell your product? If you sell ad space on your site, then yeah, focusing on building a blog for the sake of building a blog, getting hung up on those metrics makes sense. If you don’t, then…are those stats really a measure of anything that relates to your actual business? (via @JamiGold on Twitter)

The Wheel: Been there, done that
Okay, yeah, I’m still on this blogging/social media thing here. I just got this newsletter in my inbox that supports the idea that everyone loves a good mashup. Sometimes people do write an excellent new take on some aspect of writing craft or social media or something, but it seems a lot of posts fall flat and turn out same old same old. Possibly that’s just a lack of time to devote to the blog and really get into your unique perspective. Know what’s cool? A simple post on 5 great articles about _____. Preferably, in which you write 2-3 sentences about why it’s a great post and why I should go read it. Mashups may not get tons of comments, but people learn to appreciate someone who’s able to find them good stuff to read. (newsletter sent to me by Kait Nolan who knows I think this is part of the solution to the repetition)

Mash-Up Tips
Here’s my recipe for a quick and easy mash-up feature:

1. Keep a Notepad .txt file on desktop called Recommended Reading.
2. Every time something interesting comes up, open the file.
3. Write a title and summary of the post you just read and include the link. If someone referred the post to you, it might be nice to credit them as well.
4. Save.
5. On mash-up day, open the file, select all, copy. Go to new post editor on the blog, click the tab for HTML, paste.

Note: I write in HTML with all my bold tags, hyperlink tags, etc. That’s saves me a LOT of time over copying and pasting the individual links into the link builder of the blog’s editor at the end of the week. If you don’t want to write in HTML, a Word .doc file, set to automatically make hyperlinks, might work better for you.

If you read a lot of blogs and really want to embrace the mash-up, you might keep a folder on your desktop with files for blogs on different topics. Then when you have a number of them you’ll have a practically instant post on 5 Great Blogs About _____.

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Movies: In Time

For our anniversary date last week, my husband and I went to see “In Time.”

From the first time we saw the preview, we were both struck by the concept of this movie, a world in which time actually IS money, and where, when you run out of currency, your time is up.

These people are born with a clock on their forearm, one which they consult all the time as we would a watch. Everyone’s clock has one year. Barring some kind of accident, everyone lives until 25, and then the clock starts ticking. That means that children are completely dependent on their families until that age because until their clock starts they have no access to currency. People borrow against their time. Workers are paid in time. People have the ability to transfer time into storage devices, but also directly to each other, allowing them to trade and share time, but also to steal it.

The movie didn’t disappoint at all. It’s the kind of thing you can just watch as a sci-fi action movie and really enjoy for it’s more surface aspects, but it’s also the kind of thing where you can reflect on the broader issues it raises, take home and play with the idea of people with power manipulating the economy to keep us all in our place, that as long as They have the power to create inflation, They have the power to limit our ability to better our lives and safeguard their own power and lifestyle.

The world-building was really exceptional. They did an excellent job setting the characters in this society, with tweaking the language with new phrases they would use, with getting into their heads and characterizing the differences between people who were racing to stay alive vs. people who, literally, had all the time in the world.

And the romance gets a thumbs up.

In the story, an honest young man who wants more but is just trying to survive, has his life changed forever when he assists a wealthy man and is given more time than he ever dreamed he’d have. Unfortunately, having that kind of currency causes problems, especially in the ghetto. He gets out, maybe with some vague idea of shaking things up amongst the wealthy, or at least just to see how the other half lives. But when his troubles follow him to the gilded district of New Greenwich, he takes a rich girl hostage to escape.

Forced together by circumstance, the two forge a relationship and engage in a crime spree motivated by Robin Hoodish ideals and a desire to effect the status quo.

I had no complaints about this movie, and I generally manage to come up with some kind of criticism. I’m calling it Logan’s Run meets Robin Hood meets Legend of Billie Jean and wholeheartedly recommend it.

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Sunday Mashup

Recommended Reading

Where the Women At?
This is a great post about Marvel’s upcoming Avengers movie and the lack of women in it. The Missing Women of the Avengers Movie talks about what characters could have been written in and who could have been cast in the roles. (via @slackerheroes on Twitter)

Why Indie Go Trad
This is an insightful post by Bob Mayer about the changes he sees coming, the threats to the indie’s current foothold in publishing, etc. Just–go read it. Important stuff to be aware of when picking baskets for your eggs. (via Kait Nolan)

Ultimate Skee-Ball Fighting Champion
In the style of a super-awesome MG author, super-awesome Claire Legrand gives us a lovely narrative about a childhood memory that reminds us all about some valuable writing stuff. If you feel like you’re not producing fast enough, please go read what she has to say. (via subscription)

Stickin’ it to those whippersnappers
This guide on how to dress–or how not to, just cracked me up. Nice visual aids, too. (via WordPress Freshly Pressed)

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