I haven't actually made an art post in awhile in large part because I hit a rather frustrating plateau. For two reasons, really.
The first is that the initial flurry of dramatic improvement as I was getting into it came down to finally understanding and being able to utilize concepts I just did not get before. These things rocked my world and allowed me to do things with a pencil I never thought I'd be capable of ever. It was awesome. Only now we have moved beyond that initially flurry comes the harder and slower work of building on that. Which I am! And still find incredibly satisfying rewarding. Just, it isn't the kind of progress that is quite as cool or dramatic from the outside.
And on top of that, the ability to obsessively sit and practice, practice, practice is not something I can physically actually do. Because between the lymphedema and shoulder issues on that side as a result of surgery, sustained repetitive motion with my dominant arm is a no go. I ignored the warnings when I was in the initial flurry referenced above and it resulted in very bad things that included painkillers and an inability to draw at all while taking care of flareups. I'm much more careful now about limiting the time I spend and enforcing breaks while I do. Good for my physical health, but not so fantastic for momentum. :)
So basically, I am still enamored with and pursuing learning to draw, I just don't have anything to show for it as of late. But my favorite thing to draw, the thing that keeps me going back to my sketchpad because I want it, and I want it bad. People. I'm downright fascinated at the way human beings are put together and desperately chasing the ability to capture that. The endless nuance in the emotions facial expressions can convey and the way the tiniest details can distinguish that face from a face. The way the human body is so fucking beautiful in the way it stretches and twists and bends and the endless configurations of same. I don't just want to be just be able to get the technical details of an arm or whatever (and still working on that bit too, heh), what I want...what I really, really want is to find the space that captures the feeling of a body or face in motion and emotion. I don't know if I'll ever get there, because that is far more elusive than being able to accurately draw the anatomy of an eye. But that, that is what I love and what I want when I say I am learning to draw.
She wanted to help Charlie Francis. She just wasn't sure if she could.
Words: 2525, Chapters: 1/1, Language: English
Title: Smoke Alarms, Tea Towels and Guns
Fandom: BBC Sherlock
Rating: Teen and Up Audiences
Genre: Angst, Hurt/Comfort, Case Fic, The Adventure of the Three Garridebs
Summary: There's smoke in the flat, Sherlock is sulking and there's a suicide that might be murder. All in all, John isn't sure if it's a good day. It's about to get worse.
Pre/Post music - Instrumental
I woke up this morning with "Flyweight Love" from the album in my head, which goes with the lightweight fluttering snow we're still having (though it looks to be slowing down, at far less than the five inches predicted). Teng's "The Last Snowfall" (from an earlier album) worked perfectly in the Winter playlist I use for walking in snow (Simon and Garfunkel, Mumford and Sons, Rod Stewart, the Moody Blues, the Staves, etc.). Second snowfall in three days, this one nicely coordinated with Older Son flying home from Texas, though I think the weather should have settled by the evening. I see, looking ahead, that they're predicting more snow for Saturday, which is drive-back-from-Allentown day (I'm not going up this time, so I get to worry about the others - but hopefully it won't amount to much). In any case, it's beautiful outside, that fleeting moment when an inch of pure white snow is clinging to every branch and looks shiny and edible.
Right now playing "A Chanticleer Christmas" which I hope is the right music for creating a PowerPoint about root vegetables...
Yes. Yes they do.
As a kid, I had this book called Perfect the Pig, written by Susan Jeschke. I couldn't remember much about it—not even if Perfect actually had wings or if he could just fly—other than it was really long and difficult to read (but I still liked it.)
Thank goodness for the Internet. And Reading Rainbow. Here's the episode, which I also remember, now that I've seen it.
(Such a deep analysis, I know.)
By Lauren Dane, author of Blade to the Keep (Carina Press)
I love to write books that blur those divisions between genres. In the case of the Rowan Summerwaite books, they walk a line between urban fantasy and paranormal romance.
I absolutely loved building the world for this series. A world a lot like the one we live in now, but just beneath the surface there’s a whole different layer. A supernatural layer with mages and hunters, Vampires and sages. This world is wild and chaotic even as it’s ruled with an iron fist via hunters and treaties.
One of the best things about writing a genre straddling book is that I can take risks with characters that may not fly so much otherwise. Rowan is jagged. She’s hard and defensive and suspicious. She knows how to protect and defend but she’s not so great at being defended and protected.
She’s a risky character because while she’s strong, she pushes people away and sometimes it’s the reader too. But I didn’t believe that softening her would be true to her at all. It had to happen over time.
So my challenge with Rowan was to reveal her bit by bit. She’s Other. Utterly. She’s alone in so many ways. She was raised by Vampires and yet she’s not a Vampire. She was then trained by Hunters and she is one, but she’s not human.
She’s alone in what she is. She’s the human vessel for a powerful goddess and yet, she’s scared. Not of the beings she has to battle, but of the risks she must take to let people in. She uses pride to hold people away, but she’s got to let that go, knowing she could be devastated by the people she lets get close.
I love that tension with Rowan. I love that she’s got a smart mouth and is awesome with her fists and her blade. I love that she takes no bull but would—and does—lay her life on the line over and over because of what she believes.
But she’s afraid of the love she’s beginning to develop for Scion of North America, Clive Stewart. She’s conflicted by the complicated relationship she has with her foster father. She’s totally off balance in Blade to the Keep but though she’s uncomfortable and freaked out at times, she does it. She faces things and rises above because it’s who she is.
As with Goddess with a Blade, there are moments in Blade to the Keep that are revelatory to her and those around her. And they were to me as I wrote as well! The book just had its own mind and I had to figure out when to fight and when to let it go where it wanted. In the end, I am thrilled with the results and the Rowan she is on the last page. I hope you are as well!
What about you all? Any favorite, really flawed characters you really love?
About the Book
Blade to the Keep by Lauren Dane
Canny and ferocious, with the power of an ancient Goddess in her belly, Rowan Summerwaite is the only person who can renegotiate the fragile Treaty between the Vampire Nation and the Hunter Corporation, the last line of defense for humanity. A meeting of this Joint Tribunal, as well as her new status as Liaison, sends Rowan straight to the last place on earth she wants to be, the childhood home she’d escaped so many years before–The First’s Keep.
Raised at the knee of The First–the oldest Vampire and leader of the Vampire Nation–honed into a weapon by the Hunter Corporation, wielding ancient knowledge from the Goddess within, Rowan must navigate bloodthirsty Vampires and Hunters alike. And she’s got to do it while managing a politically awkward but undeniably deepened romance with Scion Clive Stewart. Failure in her role as Liaison could mean all-out war, with humankind in the crosshairs. No pressure.
Walking the path between her two lives has already made Rowan a pariah. The choices she’ll have to make will mean she becomes something even more Other and as a result she may lose those last shreds of home she has left.
Title: A Cry Answered
Readers: kalakirya, such_heights, bitterlotus, kdheart
Fandom: Pacific Rim
Rating: general audiences
Summary: Fuyumi can read between the lines of Mako’s file. The justification for having Mako on the base is paper thin -- strings have been pulled and favours have been bartered, and somewhere along the line someone decided Fuyumi was the perfect combination of talent and expendability to be brought into this mess. It’s only slightly closer to a compliment than an insult -- the balance tipped by the child at the centre of this, nine years old and heart-breakingly brave.
-- Scenes from the year after Stacker and Mako first meet.
Warnings: grief, mourning
Length: 36 minutes 52 seconds
Text: at AO3
download & cover art
1. Rick Warren tries to revive the garbled “ham sandwich” argument against health insurance for women, so Mark Silk revisits his earlier smackdown from back when Catholic bishop William Lori was peddling this pigslop last year.
Note to Warren: It’s probably not a good idea to use Judaism as an analogy for arguing against health insurance for Jewish women. And also, if you’re going to use Jewish dietary laws as an analogy, you should probably first try to understand Jewish dietary laws. Thanks.
2. Republican South Carolina state Sen. Lee Bright supports child labor and the abolition of retirement. He also hates stay-at-home moms. The man is depraved.
3. Since 2000, the state of Oklahoma has diverted $70 million in welfare funds into programs designed to “strengthen marriage” by discouraging divorce, offering couples counseling and workshops. In 2000, the divorce rate in Oklahoma was 11.6 percent. In 2013, the divorce rate in Oklahoma was 13.5 percent.
It might have been more effective to take that $5 million a year and just used it to write checks to couples experiencing marital strain due to financial hardship. It surely couldn’t have been less effective.
4. “Behind every great fortune lies a great crime,” Balzac said. That’s another problem with the “let private charity handle it” nonsense. The Gates Foundation does some really terrific, effective work all over the world. But the billions that fund that great work are invested in companies that are making all those problems worse. Charity is great but, without structural change and without just laws preventing such corporate harm, it can become a kind of perpetual motion machine. When great wealth is used to mitigate the suffering and injustices caused by the creation of that great wealth, then charity doesn’t change the world, it prevents the world from ever changing.
5. Some of the biblical “Satans” seem more like tricksters than like devils. This is true of most real-world “Satanists” as well.
6. Paul Crouch, “Death of a Salesman“:
7. Mallory Ortberg shares my fondness for melancholy holiday music. “Almost every song that is set at Christmastime but is not cheerful is guaranteed to break my heart,” she writes, rightly praising Merle Haggard’s “If We Make It Through December” as a classic example. “Anything that starts with ‘If’ is almost certainly going to be good.” (Here’s Lucinda Williams’ sound-check rendition.)
That’s what Randy Stonehill seems to have been shooting for with his maudlin “Christmas at Denny’s.” But where Ortberg notes that Haggard’s song is “quietly rather than melodramatically sad,” Stonehill’s slides headlong into melodrama. Through the first verse you can overlook some of the precious details and get swept up in the “If only, if only, if only” of the song’s chorus. But the heavy-handed lines keep piling up and the turn to melodrama is sealed when the narrator reveals the random tragedy that caused his brokenness. Melodrama takes away the narrator’s agency, which circumscribes the impact of that “if only, if only, if only” bit.
So this is a flawed song, and yet I’m still fond of it, and was pleased to see that someone has posted it to YouTube along with one of those slide-show things that, like Stonehill’s lyrics, thud down a bit too on-the-nose:
Also this: “If only, if only, if only” kind of works as a six-word summary of Advent.
The first was Be Our Guest in the expanded section of fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom. It's a inexpensive counter service restaurant, and you have to wait in line for at least half an hour or so to get in if you don't have reservations, but it was completely worth it.
It's in a new Beauty and the Beast area. There's a square with a fountain, a little shop, and another small counter service place called Gaston's Tavern (which serves pork shank and cinnamon rolls as big as your head -- Disney does food well), and all of it looks like real-life versions from the movie. Then to the left of that is a castle wall, with a long bridge across a moat that looks like it's cut through a forested hillside, with a waterfall. Then at the end of the bridge is a mountain, and on top of the mountain is a castle. It's all forced perspective, so it looks like it's full size, just further away than it actually is. You walk through the mountain entrance to get into the castle, which has three large dining rooms, one the castle hall, one the castle ballroom, and one the scary West Wing that Belle wasn't supposed to go into. (It was almost too dark to eat in there.) One end of the hall has frosted glass windows looking "outside" and because it was December it occasionally snowed behind them. (It was 80 degrees in the real outside.) In the West Wing there is the portrait of the beast, and the rose in a glass jar, both of which periodically do all the things they did in the movie. (The rose in the jar was particularly impressive. It wasn't animated -- it looked like a three dimensional hovering magical rose that was magically losing petals due to a curse, and it was only a few feet away from you. They do really, really cool things with projections onto objects.)
They cut off the line at a certain point and don't allow anyone else to line up for a certain period (I think it was an hour and forty-five minutes) so the restaurant was full, but not chaotic or crowded, and there was plenty of room for everyone to find a table, and also lots of room between the tables for people to walk around and see everything in all the rooms, like the portraits, statues, intermittent snow, moving rose, etc. (One of my friends accidentally walked into the kitchen at one point, because it's not labeled.) You order on touch screens as you come in, then go sit down, and they bring you the food in rolling glass and wood carts that look like something from a fancy la belle epoque Paris restaurant. (To find you, they either give you a rose token (a small electronic device shaped like a rose) or you use the Disney "magic band" that comes with the meal plan, and they actually track that to your table. (Fortunately, we realized we needed to leave our bands on the table while we got our drinks.) The food was not expensive and very delicious. I got a roast beef sandwich with green beans. The deserts were these various wonderful cupcake-size things of different kinds with beautiful decorations, and were also delicious.
Even though you have to get there early and stand in line, it was totally worth it. I'll try to post som pictures as soon as I get copies.
* I'm on the the Coffee with Kenobi podcast: http://www.coffeewithkenobi.com/cof
* My co-writer on Blade Singer, Aaron de Orive, has a post on SF Signal about the kickstarter: http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2013/1
* Athena's Daughters has a Kickstarter - http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/103
* The Book Fair for Ballou SR high school library has started: http://guyslitwire.blogspot.com/201
ETA: and here are the photos: http://marthawells.livejournal.com/5775