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24 August 2016 @ 12:16 am
There was a FORKNI-L digest today for the first time in a while; and it brought sad news of the death of Arletta Asbury.

This is Cousin Tok's post:
I have received word, from a mutual friend on Second Life,
of Arletta's passing.

"Hello all. I am sad to say that Arletta Martian/laneybell Martian
passed away Monday, August 22, 2016 at 12:15pm SLT. She went into
the hospital a few weeks ago to fix a surgery that was botched some
time ago. Complications arose and her body could not compensate for it."

The last time I spoke to Arletta, she'd mentioned the botched surgery
to me and said they were going to fix things. I'd just been thinking
of her recently and wondering how things had gone. I guess I have my
answer now. Arletta was my friend, my co-conspirator in times of
War, and she introduced me to Second Life. I'll miss you, my
friend. It won't be the same without you.

I've spent the last few hours working on the wiki—not just updating it with Arletta's death, but reading all her stories and making articles for them (or filling out stubs). Here's the article we have on Arletta herself; and it links to the other pages.

When the mailing list was more active, Arletta was a regular correspondent; so her name was familiar even before I took part in any of the wars. Although she wrote several stories (most particularly in her Fourth Season elaboration of an early LK fic), I think it's fair to say that her biggest contribution was as leader of the Light Cousins, and an indefatigable war scribe, often in concert with Cousin Shelley. The pair of them were the co-leaders for War 13, which was the first one in which I took part—and a very successful war it was, indeed: a very good introduction for someone new to the game.

Later, when I started refurbishing old websites taken from the Wayback Machine, one of the first ones I tackled was Forever Light Cousins, their old faction site which had disappeared when the fan hosting it gafiated. A couple of people helped locate missing material; and everything was run past Arletta, as faction leader.

Although the mailing list is much quieter now than it has ever been, that doesn't mean that the good times are forgotten. She will be missed.

This entry was originally posted at http://greerwatson.dreamwidth.org/87510.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
13 July 2016 @ 06:55 pm
For the [community profile] myoldfandom gift exchange, I wrote my sister "Jean at the Witching Hour", my third story based on Janet Sandison's series about a Scottish girl at the beginning of the twentieth century. It's a great favourite of Flo's, one that she requested more than once at Yuletide before she concluded that no one else would ever offer it.

This time, I thought I'd write about Doris, a tart with a heart of gold who appears prominently in the first book but recurs in later ones as well. However, when I reread the books (yet again!) in preparation, I found that the dates did not add up. Oh, the main portion of what I had planned still held up: i.e. her seduction when she was a fifteen-year-old scullery-maid at the Castle, leading to her father disowning her. However, in the fourth book it is strongly implied that her seducer is "Old Pillans", the villain of the series. As I scribbled down dates and did sums to work out people's ages, I realized that can't be true. I suppose it may be that readers are inferring something that the author didn't intend; but I suspect that it's more likely that Sandison was hit with belated inspiration, added the hint, and never really did her own sums.

So, in the end, I wrote Old Pillans' story.

This presents its own problems. Old Pillans is a pretty one-dimensional villain in the series—a boogey-man to young Jean in the first book, and an off-scene diabolus ex machina in the rest of the series. What little we are told of his past comes from brief snatches of Lochfoot history told to Jean by the elderly; and not only does the reader have to assemble the puzzle but also fill in a lot of missing pieces.

So I worked out how the history of the town seems to have gone during the last half of the nineteenth century, from its evolution as a farming community overlooked by the Duke's Castle to its growth as a commuter suburb of Glasgow with grungy tenements housing underpaid railway workers. In the latter era, Pillans is primarily known as the mysterious, loathsome owner of a secondhand/pawn shop, though he is actually the secret landlord of much of Lochfoot, with additional property in Glasgow. On the other hand, the scraps we know of his early days indicate that he was originally an incomer who worked as ploughman on a local farm, was the local milkman, and had a reputation as a seducer. "Jean at the Witching Hour" is, then, the story of how events turned Pillans-the-ploughman into The Loathsome Villain.

This is a long story: slightly longer than any I've written, in fact, barring the novel that I wrote for my first [community profile] fkficfest. I had Part One written by the upload deadline; and it could have ended there. However, rather than complete the story in sequels, I wrote two more chapters over the next week. Each chapter now has its own webpage, linked off a title page. However, as Flo was staying with me for a fortnight, I didn't manage to finish them until this week.

As with the previous two Jean stories, I selected a background to represent the setting: in this case, a stone wall suggestive of an old farmhouse. On the title page, I also inset a small panel with a grassy background and a picture of dairy cattle. This represents the most important business of Castleside Farm, where Pillans canonically worked when he came to Lochfoot and which he inherited in mysterious circumstances after the suicide of the owner's daughter.

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13 July 2016 @ 06:16 pm
The reveal for [community profile] myoldfandom took place a couple of weeks ago—and was, indeed, a couple of days late since a last-minute pinch hit was needed. That makes this post more than a little overdue. However, as I was assigned to write for [personal profile] fawatson, who is my sister, and she to write for me (and for the second time this year!), I dare say she'll forgive me. Certainly we both were working on our stories right up to the very deadline, and tweaking afterwards.

Flo wrote me "Big Feet Speak Louder Than Words": a crossover based on two of Janet Kagan's books, Hellspark (which was the one I requested) and Mirabile (which she knows I've also read). Both Tocohl and Maggy were featured, solving an intriguing mystery that took them to Mirabile. It's a delightful story, with spot-on characterization of both of them. In so far as I have a complaint, it's that there isn't more of it.

I wrote her "Jean at the Witching Hour", based on Janet Sandison's series about Jean Robertson.

This entry was originally posted at http://greerwatson.dreamwidth.org/86963.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
24 May 2016 @ 10:21 pm
The reveal for the Renault Exchange was this weekend; and I received two gifts. That I had been assigned to write for my sister (and vice versa) was no secret. She always does guess—I say "always" since it has happened before, twice in rarewomen and again in [community profile] fic_corner. She is rather better at lying to me than I am to her. However, I've been posting our ITOWverse stories to AO3, which means using her log-in for her stories; and there it was in black-and-white: her sign-up and recipient.

So I wrote a story for her. And she wrote two for me.

My official gift—one can tell from the posting date—is "Bicycle": a series of vignettes, of varying lengths, involving sundry characters from The Charioteer with bicycles, in one fashion or another. Of course, petrol-rationing being in full force, it was a common mode of transportation during the war. This is not a formal "Five Things" story; but it's a similar format.

My treat is "Coach", a charming short story focusing on Hugh Treviss—a minor character from The Charioteer whose fanon existence depends on putting together the "Treviss" who coached Laurie in fencing for the school play and the "Hugh" who was Ralph's best friend at school: canon, certainly; but the references in the book are minimal, though much can be developed from them, in the way fans so adore. Here we get Hugh's impression of Ralph, with intimations of what he may or may not guess.

Flo had prompts for several of Renault's modern novels; but, as I only offered one of them, I naturally wrote to that prompt. She therefore got "A Letter from Abroad", in which Alec writes Sandy about a letter that Ralph has received from Bim, who (uncanonically, but reasonably plausibly, I hope) survived being shot down and was sent to a P.O.W. camp in Germany.

This now also has a page on my website. In a vague sort of way, the background was picked to give an impression of the sea—or the English Channel, I suppose, to be more accurate. For this, unlike the AO3 edition, I was able to separate the two pages of the letter and actually leave a space at the bottom of the first, as Alec says he did. For all its good points (not least of which is that fact that so many exchanges are run through it), AO3 has its disadvantages, too; and formatting can sometimes be a nuisance. Still, your basic prose can usually be cross-posted in a reasonably straightforward way.

This entry was originally posted at http://greerwatson.dreamwidth.org/86747.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
25 March 2016 @ 10:31 pm
Dear Author, let me thank you right up front for the story you are going to write. Although you've seen the requests on my sign-up, I know that many people like a bit more to go on than just the prompt. If so, I hope this letter will prove helpful. These fandoms are all dear to my heart. Whatever you write, I'm sure I will love it!

And a bit about my requests....Collapse )

This entry was originally posted at http://greerwatson.dreamwidth.org/86194.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
25 March 2016 @ 08:47 pm
It's been a while since I posted a seasonal ficlet to FKFIC-L. However, I had an idea; so "Heat in the Kitchen" was posted in the wee hours, just before I went to bed. A good deal of the day was spent making it a page on my website; and I've just finished posting it to AO3 (so those whose ISP, for some reason, bars access to the webhost can read it there).

I decided to go with a thematic background for the webpage, and worked for a while with the tile I cropped from a screen capture of Natalie's office, doing it in different colours, before selecting a beige version (representing a backsplash). The frame around the story is done in wood tones (cupboards) and a sort of glossy white (formica countertop). I found a suitable wood-coloured divider to use under the title.

The picture after the story was, as usual, cropped from a photo on Wikimedia Commons. It looks delicious; and I'm sure Natalie's own baking was, too.

This entry was originally posted at http://greerwatson.dreamwidth.org/86000.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
16 March 2016 @ 11:54 pm
Dear Author, let me thank you right up front for the story you are going to write. I've put some suggestions below. However, if none of those prospects appeals, then I am certainly open to your writing me something different.

On the whole, I'd prefer a story that is more-or-less gen—though that depends, of course, on what characters are included during which period in their lives. I certainly don't want canon ignored; it's more a question of focus. Backstory, missing scene, an exploration of characters often overlooked....

I'd prefer something canon-compliant in terms of setting and characterization. However, as some of my suggestions indicate, futurefic would obviously be okay.

Read more...Collapse )

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07 February 2016 @ 09:40 pm
I began Yuletide eagerly last fall, with my usual list of potential treats and (seemingly) time to write several of them. Life decided otherwise. I did get my assignment started; but, as my mother's health worsened, I eventually had to admit that there would never be time to finish it, and defaulted.

However, when my mother died a week before Christmas, there was suddenly time to write. Or perhaps that's more accurately time to distract myself with writing. After the holidays were over, though, Real Life had to take precedence. It is only in the last couple of weeks, therefore, that I have finally found time to make webpages for them.

Trumpet St Peter's Angels

My assignment, "Trumpet St Peter's Angels", is a Last Knight story. (Yes: my third in the same year. Chance is odd that way.) My recipient had only one request, for LK fix-it fic.

The result is a story that I can only recommend to those who are trufen. It depends for its effect on your devoted knowledge of Forever Knight (in general) and the finale (in particular). Essentially, it deconstructs the events that lead to the denouement, and "fixes" them as requested. As such, the story is not an overwritten, underplotted melodrama an action-packed tragedy. Rather, it is a character piece with touches of humour.

Basically, if the last line resonates, you'll probably like the story.

The title, of course, comes from Lacroix's speech in the loft. To match it, I picked a ripply, vaguely feathery, gold variant of a background that I got from GRSites, matched with a bronze and silver border around the story. Those who can't access my website can find the story on AO3 in the Yuletide collection, along with comments.

Long is the way and hard

The first treat I wrote was "Long is the way and hard" (on AO3, with comments). This is actually the third in a series of divergent AU stories based on Mary Renault's novel, The Charioteer.

a bit of backgroundCollapse )
As it is part of a series, its webpage has the same design that I used on the earlier two stories.

Hobbiton Farm

The last treat, "Hobbiton Farm" (here on AO3, with comments), was written in a flash. Whereby hangs a tale.

Over the last decade or so, the BBC has made a series of series in which a group of historians and archaeologists re-enact life on a farm in an historical period: Victorian Farm, Edwardian Farm, Wartime Farm, and so on. One of [personal profile] halotolerant's requests was for a story based on this "Historical Farm series". What particularly caught my eye was the conclusion of the prompt:
“Feel free, also, to set a story in ‘AU History’ - if you want them to be farm workers in a pre-industrial setting, it doesn't have to be ‘literally historically accurate 1650’ or whatever, some counter-factual history or setting in a fantasy world like Westeros or Middle Earth or Pern could also be cool!”
A crack idea? Undoubtedly: but best done straight.

Because I'd had the idea early in the fall, back when people had been posting links to their Dear Author Letters, it had been germinating on some level for quite a while. So, when I sat down to write it on the afternoon of Christmas Eve, the words just poured out with hardly any revision required. I uploaded the story shortly before reveals.

For the webpage, I decided that "Hobbiton Farm" needed something subdued and very respectable looking. The rich tapestry-like background graphic comes from 321Clipart.com; and the border to the panel with the story combines stone and parchment textures. I also made the story a fancy title in a font that looked suitable, and added (at the end) a clip from a Wikimedia Commons photo of the New Zealand "Hobbiton" set.

This entry was originally posted at http://greerwatson.dreamwidth.org/84799.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
31 December 2015 @ 05:51 am
I was thrilled to get two gifts for Yuletide this year. One of them is for Janet Kagan's Hellspark, a very rare fandom. The other is for The Charioteer.

"Five Years Later" is a delightful story that pops into the Hellspark world to catch us up on what's been going on. It's the sort of sequel that warms the cockles of a fannish heart! Practically everyone is in it, with their own cameo, as Tocohl and Maggy return to Lassti to revisit the Survey Team and find out how much progress has been made in the intervening years. The story is clearly written by someone who knows the book and the speech patterns of the characters—all the more important, given the significance of language in Kagan's worldbuilding.

There are so few Hellspark fics: it's lovely to have another one. :)

In "Unbreakable Ties", Laurie's mother has unexpectedly died in childbirth, and he has to return to the village to attend her funeral. Although he meets relatives and in-laws he had hoped to avoid forever, he is a couple of years more mature than in The Charioteer, and startled by new insight into their feelings.

My immediate reaction was that the (still anonymous) author must be someone aware that my mother just died. Belatedly, I realized that this need not be so, for it is not a new idea that Lucy might, at her age, be endangered by pregnancy. I'm sure anyone might have chosen such a topic. However, the timing seems significant; and, if it was written by a friend, then it was a most sensitive and kind gift, indeed, and much appreciated.

Thank-you, both of you, whoever you may be! I hope your own gifts were equally satisfying.

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19 December 2015 @ 02:07 am
My mother died on 17 December shortly after 11 p.m., exactly one month after her 94th birthday.

My sister Flo and I were with her. For the last hours, we were moved into a separate room so that we would not be disturbed. The ICU at Toronto General is very sensitive to the needs of both family and patient; and we much appreciated it. They had a radio, which we tuned to a classical music station (for my mother generally had music on at home); and Flo and I simply sat and talked, sometimes about our mother's life and sometimes other things, but maintaining a pretty steady chat. As our mother drifted deeper, the sounds that she heard were those of familiar voices and background music, as close as possible to having a nap at home.

She died peacefully in her sleep.

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