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greerwatson
05 January 2017 @ 11:55 pm
This year, despite having extra time (since nominations/sign-ups started earlier), I still only got four stories written. My usual, in other words. I guess doing Trick or Treat for the first time is some sort of excuse. After all, I wrote four stories for that, too—but they did tend to be shorter, as one would expect. The truth is, in early December I came over to visit Flo for a long Christmas break, and I spent the first couple of weeks lounging around, watching TV and reading, getting over jetlag, and basically doing nothing about Yuletide except a bit of canon review.

Ah, well ... I clearly needed the time off.

My assignment, "A Correspondence between Gentlemen", was written for [personal profile] elsa, who wanted a Charioteer story about Laurie and Ralph. It took me a while to decide how to tackle this; and, in the end, I wrote epistolary fic (having got the okay through the Yulemods). The "gentlemen" of the correspondence are Mr Jepson and Mr Straike; and all Charioteer fans will appreciate the irony of applying that appellation to them. What starts as Jepson congratulating his old school friend on his recent engagement finishes up with revelations about Ralph's expulsion. Straike is not amused.

This was uploaded before I headed over to England; so the delays in getting back to writing only affected the treats. I had a little list....

Okay, like a lot of other people, each year I go through the requests and copy-paste intriguing prompts. I never do even as many as half of them. However, with all the extra time this year, I thought that I should be able to manage at least one or two more stories than usual. Certainly, I was determined to write a Forever story that I'd not had time to do last year, when so much of November and December had been taken up with caring for my mother (who had finally died a week before Christmas). I also wanted to write a Forever Knight treat, since I always do.

Of the other prompts on my list, I was less sure. However, I brought over to England my copy of Georgette Heyer's Venetia, being uncertain if Flo had a copy. (Just as well: she has several Heyers, but not that one.) I read it on the plane; arrived with it fresh in my mind; and ideas started to flow. It was therefore the first story I started: "The Rape of the Book", written for [personal profile] morganmuffle, who wanted a story about Venetia's younger brother Aubrey.

It seemed to take bloody ages to write. I mean, seriously, there was a point where I wondered if I'd even finish in time to write any other treats. First, I kept looking things up on line—Wikipedia, mostly; but also Google maps, and sites about Austen's Regency England. I spent several days investigating routes from York to Cambridge, and finding out the names of inns that are old enough to go back that far. That section of the story took about three days to write for fewer paragraphs! In the end, the story finished up about twice as long as I'd originally thought it would be.

As I'd failed to write the Forever story the previous year (and I'm terrible at doing NYRs, needing hard deadlines to get me to start writing), I had been really glad when [personal profile] argylepiratewd included the same prompt in this year's Dear Author Letter. So "Whisper" simply had to be written next: no way was I going to risk running out of time. The prompt was for a story in which Henry got ill, and had to cope like anyone else, since people knew how sick he was. For this, I had what seemed like the perfect plot. Back in the spring of 2015, I'd come down with a truly horrible cold that turned to laryngitis, bronchitis, and (according to the X-ray) pneumonia. None of which I wanted my mother to catch, of course, which had led to its own complications. Add a touch of humour, and voilà!

Fortunately, "Whisper" didn't need much in the way of research. (Or, to put it another way, I'd already done the research the hard way.) So, on the 23rd, I was free to tackle a third treat, "The Father, the Son, and the Unholy Ghost". For this, I did not have a definite recipient. In fact, I initially was quite uncertain what to write: I just knew that I always write FK for Yuletide, and had every intention of doing so again, if I could come up with something.

Now, I did have an idea that had been kicking around in my mind for a while: to write a story about LaCroix's daughter, Divia, who had been turned into a vampire back in Roman times and brought her own father across at the time of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. I think it's fair to say that she is far from my favourite guest star; however, I thought her motivation in that episode deserved a closer reading than it usually gets. She's his daughter and his master; and it seemed to me there was more to be said about this than had ever appeared in the script. However, Divia had not been nominated. Eventually, though, it occurred to me that all three of the other people requesting Forever Knight had asked for LaCroix; and recasting the story from his perspective might actually yield deeper insights.

I had then to decide which of the three potential recipients I'd give the story to. It proved very simple. One person DNWed character death: Divia dies in "Ashes to Ashes"; and I'd opened the story with the cremation of her body. A second person DNWed noncon and underage: Divia is only twelve and canonically tries to persuade LaCroix to commit incest. Fortunately, [personal profile] astolat seems to be fairly squick-free; so I gave it to her.

Each of the four stories got very nice comments from their recipients; and each has at least one comment from someone else, as well. Add the fact that the two gifts that I got were both wonderful, and I had a great Yuletide!

This entry was originally posted at http://greerwatson.dreamwidth.org/91256.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
 
 
greerwatson
02 January 2017 @ 04:50 pm
This has been a very lazy Christmas. Apart from writing (and reading), I've mostly spent it watching television. And nibbling, of course—no doubt far more than I should. However, I have been feeling noticeably little stress, which in turn makes it clear that this past year, living with my mother's empty chair in the living room, so to speak (and literally, too), has actually been far harder than I'd realized.

Since my sister works long hours and has to commute, she commandeered her computer over the Christmas weekend, pointing out that I'd have it later in the week when she had to go back to work. She also grabbed it for much of the evening most days. As a result, I'm still working my way through the Yuletide collection.

I did, however, manage to read my own gifts on the day. As I went out to pinch-hit and neither of them is tagged as a treat, I don't know which of them is my official gift. However, it doesn't matter. Both are thoroughly enjoyable; and I heartily recommend them.

"Serial" was written for me by [personal profile] fabrisse. It is a deliciously plotty Forever Knight casefic in which Nick and Schanke must solve a series of murders in which the victims were exsanguinated. Immediately, one's mind flies to vampires; but the injuries suggest otherwise. The question therefore is who and why—and discovering the truth drags LaCroix and Janette into the investigation, each of whom has insights to contribute. The result is a story that could easily have been an actual episode of the show.

"Serial" is, I fear, ill-served by its Author's Note. I am sure Fabrisse merely wished to warn people who might be triggered by the suggestion of blood; but the wording suggests a degree of gore that is not actually in the story. Be not warned, in other words; or, at least, be not warned off.

My other story, "Universally Challenged", is a Yes, Minister fic written for me by [profile] machiavellijr. My prompt said, "I'd like something similar to the series, whether it's a tale of mutual political intrigue or just a scene in Hacker's office involving all three of them. I particularly love the repartee...." Well, that's exactly what I got. In "Universally Challenged", the newspapers have got hold of statistics indicating that British universities have been frivolling public money away on such things as cleaning the silver and stocking the wine cellar. The Minister comes up with a marvellous scheme to counter bad publicity by establishing a new Institute of Technology (in a marginal riding, of course). Sir Humphrey and his civil service peers are rather more concerned to save the status quo. Wit ensues, as it always does.

So .... going out to pinch hit can, as rumour has it, yield much reading pleasure! I have, in fact, been lucky in Yuletide. (Knock wood.) Though I don't always get a treat, I've always received well-written, thoroughly enjoyable gifts. This year has proved no exception.

As for the writing department, I managed to complete four stories. Eventually, I'll do webpages for them; and I'll say more then. All my recipients wrote nice comments; so ... a good Yuletide all round!

This entry was originally posted at http://greerwatson.dreamwidth.org/90924.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
 
 
greerwatson
28 November 2016 @ 07:12 am
It's the most absurd thing to fret over but ... I'm a creature of habit, and I live alone and expect things to remain where they belong. Also, I have a tendency to get fond of things—even trivial things—and worry about them.

So I have a favourite dishtowel, i.e., the one I use most often. I always keep it hanging over the handle to the oven door. I don't often dry dishes with it. (I've a dishwasher, after all; or, if I wash a mug or spoon by hand, I just leave it in the rack.) However, I dry my hands on this dishtowel a lot; so, every week, it goes in the laundry.

It's of those terry-cloth ones, which I find are the most absorbent. White with orange stripes in a sort of loose plaid design. I've had it for quite a few years, and have to admit that it's got a bit on the shabby side. However, it's still quite serviceable: a bit thin, but no holes or ragged edges or the like.

For nearly two months, it's mysteriously been missing.

At the end of September, Flo came for a couple of weeks. Shortly before she left, she did laundry in preparation for packing. I went into the kitchen, couldn't see my dishtowel, and asked her if she'd washed it with the other things and put it away somewhere (thinking, of course, that it might have been put in the wrong place). However, she said no.

And I've not seen it since.

I've looked—God knows I've looked!—everywhere I can think of. Through the drawers in the kitchen, the cupboard under the sink, the shelves where cleaning supplies are stored ... and then round odd corners of the dining room, the living room (in case I'd used it to carry something hot) ... basically, everywhere that seemed likely and then those that seemed most unlikely.

I keep being reminded that I have still to find it because, each time I go in the kitchen, I immediately notice yet again that it isn't there. If I'm not in a rush, I'll at least try to find it. Okay, not daily at this point; but certainly I have another look round at least once or twice a week. It's got to be somewhere!

As my mother used to say, when I told her I couldn't find something, "It has to be in the house, Greer. It can't walk off on its own."

Let me tell you, when you're middle aged and live alone, the last thing you want is to have something mysteriously vanish with no memory of where you might have put it.

This entry was originally posted at http://greerwatson.dreamwidth.org/90138.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
 
 
greerwatson
13 November 2016 @ 05:46 pm
Considering how early the call for Yuletide nominations (and then sign-ups) came this year, it is dispiriting to think how little I've done so far. I have my assignment, of course. But not started it yet. I've copy-pasted a Word doc of potential treats, some of which I definitely want to do, others of which are maybes. Not started any of them.

Up till now, my excuse was Trick or Treat. However, author reveals were almost a week ago; and I've still not started anything for Yuletide.

On the other hand, I dusted the apartment several days ago, vacuumed on Friday, cleaned bathrooms today....

When it comes to traditional stalling tactics, I may be right on course.

This entry was originally posted at http://greerwatson.dreamwidth.org/89647.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
 
 
greerwatson
09 November 2016 @ 05:08 am
Besides my assignment, I wrote three treats. (Well, given the distinction made in this particular gift exchange, they were a mix of "treats" and "tricks".)


"The Children of Closti the Clam" was written for [personal profile] betony, who wanted a story based on Diana Wynne Jones's Dalemark Quartet.

Betony asked for something about the "fascinating internal mythology" of the series; and, among the suggestions, were "whatever becomes of Robin" and "dealing with the consequences of immortality". It is canon that only some of Tanaqui's family turn out to be Undying like their mother; so I wrote futurefic about the next few decades after The Spell-Coats, seen from Tanaqui's perspective as she slowly realizes that some of her siblings are aging while she is not.

I had already written one Dalemark story, though it was not purely in that fandom, being a Time Team fusion. I decided, therefore, to use a variant of that webpage design for "The Children of Closti the Clam". The background is a rather complicated basket weave in a muted tone; and the same graphic was used to make a decorative button. The panel for the story has a border that layers multiple textures in various shades of brown and beige.


"Command the Signs" was written for [personal profile] blueteak, who wanted Susan Cooper's Dark is Rising series.

I have always thought that Cooper could have done more with the incongruity of Will Stanton's position as an Old One who is eleven years old and the youngest of a large family, particularly when he is new come to his power. Blueteak's prompt began "I've always loved the way magic creeps into the ordinary in this series, or has lurked in it all along, i.e. the Christmas ornaments." It was, in fact, those Christmas ornaments that sparked the idea—what if Will's family got a good look at the Signs? They did see the first few, albeit only briefly; but, at that time, they were threaded on his belt. Later, though, they were linked together on a gold chain.

I spent quite a long time going through my collection of background tiles trying to find something that would pick up the main motif of the story, i.e. the Six Signs, which are shaped like crosses set in circles. I eventually found one among the graphics I collected from Ambographics Art: it is purple, picked out in gold, and twines these shapes together. The colour scheme is copied in the frame around the story; but, as the fancy background has a rather "flat" look, it was necessary to use graphics with a similar "flat" effect when putting it together.

I did not add any decorative buttons; but, as the story falls naturally into a main section and a coda, I needed some sort of divider. I therefore decided to make one with the Six Signs. Since they have to be capable of fitting on Will's belt, the crosses needed to be fairly slender, affording plenty of space for the leather to slide through. I have to say, the result isn't quite how I'd always envisaged them; but I don't see how else they'd look in practice, given the description in the story. Their order is more or less that described by Cooper in the scene where John Smith links them on the chain.


"Back in the Saddle" was written for [personal profile] serenade, who wanted a story based on Dick Francis's 10lb Penalty. This was distinctly the last story written, since it was not only finished after the collection opened but was uploaded just before author reveals a week later.

Although the prompt mentioned both "tricks" and "treats", Serenade's suggestions were more along spooky lines; so I wrote a sort of ghost story. It picks up both on the fact that Ben's father, once leader of his party (and hence prime minister), would be expected to call a general election to confirm his position; and on the injury that Ben receives at the end of the book, severe enough to prevent him continuing as an amateur jockey. "Back in the Saddle" sees him out of hospital, once again helping with his father's election campaign.

For the webpage, I picked yet another variant of a graphic that I've used several times before, this time in brown tones. For the frame, I also used brown, with touches of grey. I wanted something suggestive of old stables and riding; so the textures in the frame are mostly leather and stone. Then, rather than use a decorative button, I went trolling the net for clip-art of horses to top and tail the story.

This entry was originally posted at http://greerwatson.dreamwidth.org/89114.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
 
 
 
greerwatson
08 November 2016 @ 01:54 am
The author reveals for the Trick or Treat Exchange came today, a week after the archive was opened. I thus know officially that it was my sister who wrote my gifts.

Well, I already knew that she'd been assigned to write for me. I could see from the sign-up that there was only one possible match; so, unless I went out immediately as a pinch hit (which didn't happen), then my author had to be Flo. On the other hand, I couldn't be certain that it was she who wrote my treat, though I suspected as much. In fact, she wrote four stories altogether, the others being for two of Rosemary Sutcliff's historical novels.

I was assigned to write for her. This was not so certain: there were other people offering the fandoms she had requested (as, indeed, there were other fandoms that I had offered). At least this absurdity won't happen again: she has suggested, quite sensibly, that in future we make sure that we request and offer different things. Of course, it may still be that we choose to write for one another—as she, for example, has twice written me New Year's Resolutions timed to coincide with my birthday (and doing double duty, of course, as birthday presents) in very rare fandoms that I had asked for more than once in Yuletide without receiving them. As, for that matter, I have written her fan fiction based on Janet Sandison's Jean Robertson series.

At any rate, the first ToT story that I completed was a ficlet for Flo, "Star of the Waning Summer". I based it on The Mask of Apollo, though I did actually have a choice of fandoms, for our interests overlap a lot. Given the theme, I selected a background of stylized masks for the webpage, tweaking the colour to a bronze shade. All the other graphics I used were already on my website, though not in this combination. The ones I selected not only coordinated with one another and the background but made a fine frame around the story, glittering with golden shades.

Once "Star of the Waning Summer" was complete, I went on to write three treats. All of these also have webpages, and have been uploaded.

This entry was originally posted at http://greerwatson.dreamwidth.org/88908.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
 
 
greerwatson
04 November 2016 @ 08:41 pm
The Trick or Treat Exchange opened on Halloween. (Midday. It seems an odd time; but I suppose the mod wanted people to be able to read their stories on the holiday.) Author reveals aren't until Monday; but I've been feeling guilty not posting here about my gifts.

Yes, gifts. Two of them!

The dates make it clear which was my main present: "Rites of Passage", a Flashpoint story. For those unfamiliar with it, this is a Canadian/US cop show following a fictional SWAT team, the Strategic Response Unit, attached to the Toronto police. I got a really fine fat gift, nearly 5K in length (which would be a good size for Yuletide, and ToT is basically a ficlet exchange).

"Rites of Passage" is set some time after the end of the series; so a major pleasure is getting filled in on the characters' future. It is, as I asked, a Halloween story—starting with a series of petty seasonal calls, which afford a lot of humour, and then shifting to a much more serious case. Actually, the kidnapping of a young trick-or-treater is resolved fairly quickly, since this is more a character piece than an action story. However, there is a common theme of increased maturity (proven through various rites of passage) that ties the case to the cops' personal lives.

This gift is a real treat in so many ways, with many familiar faces (all in character) and shout-outs to a lot of events from canon.

"Rites of Passage" was posted well before the deadline; so for several days I could see that I had one gift waiting for me, and assumed that that was that. Then, unexpectedly at the last minute, someone wrote me a little treat, "Forte".

This is a Charioteer ficlet, focusing on Ralph. One quickly figures out that, sometime after the end of the book, he must have been posted to a ship that was subsequently sunk by the Germans. At any rate, he is in a prisoner-of-war camp. (Whoever wrote this did their homework: I knew naval prisoners were sent to Marlag, but had no idea that the merchant marine had a separate POW camp, abbreviated as Milag.)

Short, sweet, and spooky. Very suitable for Halloween.

(And yes: I wrote a story or so myself. However, that's another matter.)

This entry was originally posted at http://greerwatson.dreamwidth.org/88616.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
 
 
greerwatson
04 October 2016 @ 11:08 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. All these fandoms are dear to my heart. Whatever you write, I'm sure I will love it!


Continue for details....Collapse )

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greerwatson
15 September 2016 @ 02:56 am
First, let me thank you for writing me a story in one of the fandoms we share. I'm excited about all of them. (They're listed in alphabetical order, so as not to play favourites.) I should also say up front that I'm easy on getting either a trick or a treat.


GENERAL POINTS:

  • I love worldbuilding and character pieces—stories that explore more deeply—through backstory, or by elaborating the setting/history/culture or exploring people's motivations and personal interactions.

  • I prefer gen; but I'm not asking you to ignore canon relationships. However, I don't like anything more than PG-13: explicit sexual detail is definitely a DNW for me.

  • I love casefic; and, more generally, I like stories that are canon-compliant.

  • I'm okay with violence if necessary to the story; but not gore for the sake of gore. On the whole, I prefer not to have characters die in the story; but references to canonical deaths are okay.



REQUESTS:

The Charioteer - Mary Renault (any nominated characters)

I'd like a seasonal story for preference. Mind you, Halloween wasn't commonly celebrated in the south of England at the time this book is set. However, if you want to include Halloween, I'm sure you can contrive something plausible. Alternatively, "seasonal" can simply refer to the autumn; or you could write about Guy Fawkes Night (or the lack thereof, in war time).

Either tricks or treats could have a spooky element, such as ghosts, premonitions, bad dreams, or superstition; or, if you prefer something more realistic, there's the horror of an air raid.


Flashpoint (TV) (any nominated characters)

A Canadian cop show focusing on the Strategic Response Unit in Toronto, a (fictional) unit dealing with bomb threats, hostage-taking incidents, and the like.

Tricks might be case-related, or deal with PTSD. Treats might delve into Halloween in the squad room, or something with Ed or Wordy's kids.


Forever Knight (any nominated characters)

With vampires in the cast, this show is made for Halloween stories. However, you have centuries of history to play with, depending on the character(s) you write about, as well as Nick's current role as a detective on the Toronto force. If you want to play with treats rather than tricks, then there's Halloween in the squad room or at the Raven; or maybe something about Schanke and his young daughter.


Sime~Gen - Jacqueline Lichtenberg & Jean Lorrah (no characters were nominated)

Given the usual relationship between Simes and Gens (not to mention the tentacles that Simes have), there is an obvious horror element here that you might play with.

No characters were nominated: I'd like worldbuilding here, whether you write a trick or a treat. Any period in Sime~Gen history would be fine, from just after the time of the Ancients through to the Tecton; but I'd prefer that you not go into the space era.

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greerwatson
08 September 2016 @ 05:32 pm
More sad news has been posted to FORKNI-L. Sandi Ross, who played Grace Balthazar in the first two seasons of Forever Knight, died on 31 August.

There is an "in memoriam" here, with a precis of her career.

While I never met Ms Ross (unlike McLisa, who responded on list), I certainly recall Grace. Though the character appeared in only a handful of episodes, she had immediate appeal to FK fans, who loved seeing her scenes with Natalie at the morgue. Grace appears in many works of fan fiction, and must certainly be one of Ms Ross's most beloved roles.

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