yule log

Dear Yuletide Author 2014

Dear Yuletide author,

I am so excited that you share one of these fandoms with me! I am really looking forward to reading whatever you write for me in whichever of them it is!

I enjoy a wide range of things—short, punchy stories and longer plottier stories, explicitly porny and/or kinky stories and coy stories that are all about the teasing and the implications, stories with some kind of meta angle to them and stories that engage with the source material 100% on their own level. One thing I always enjoy is stories that are written in a very particular style or manner, like a set of letters or a faux-academic paper or something; if that sort of thing appeals to you, go wild!

I apologize in advance if my gen prompts are not very detailed, varied, or inspiring. This in no way reflects a desire not to receive gen (or canon relationships only, as applicable), which is something that I would absolutely be interested in reading for any of these sets of characters. It is purely a function of me being terrible at writing gen prompts.

The Bugle
Andy Zaltzman, John Oliver

It's not that The Bugle doesn't have a fandom—The Bugle fandom is pretty amazing!—but it does not, for the most part, write fic. One of my favorite things about The Bugle is the 'bullshit', i.e. the wildly counterfactual world that John and Andy (but let's be realistic, mostly Andy) narrate and/or act out in skits. I would totally love what is basically Bugle worldbuilding fic, based on anything that's ever been referenced on the show, a combination of multiple Bugle references, or completely original things in the Bugle house style. My other favorite thing about The Bugle is John and Andy's working relationship, especially when one of them manages to make the other start laughing uncontrollably during the podcast, and if you would rather write something that is set in something more closely approximating the real world, I would love to read gen or shippy fic about John and Andy working together and doing Bugle-y things. If you want to use the Bugle house style to do fandom or Yuletide meta somehow, those are things I always enjoy and think the Bugle format would lend itself to, or you could do any of many things that I haven't even thought of.

Dialogues — Plato
Socrates, Alcibiades

If Plato didn't want me to ship Socrates carnally, he shouldn't have given him such sizzling sexual tension with Alcibiades! Also with pretty much everyone present at the symposium, but especially with Alcibiades. I love the teasing and the reversal of the expected roles for the pursued and the pursuing. Although I desperately crave a physical consummation of their relationship, no matter how much it runs contrary to everything Plato stood for, you could absolutely also write something that continues the dynamic of Alcibiades pursuing and Socrates making him frantic with his refusal to reciprocate. Since Plato's dialogues are essentially Real Person Fiction, I feel like you can just as easily incorporate known biographical details or take only what is on the page as a complete work in itself to draw upon, as you prefer.

Frog and Toad
Frog, Toad

I loved these books when I was a kid and only realized later that they were my first exposure to a type of relationship that I always love (and tend to ship). I read an interesting interview with Arnold Lobel where he talked about not wanting to continue the series because he felt like the relationship between Frog and Toad was getting unhealthy, which frankly puts it even more in line with my shipping tendencies, although I was very surprised that he saw it as Frog controlling Toad when I tend more towards seeing Frog as the put-upon one in their relationship. I would also love a gen Frog & Toad story, or set of shorter stories in keeping with the original—and if you're inclined towards meta, I think a story where either or both of them do Yuletide would be hilarious. The one thing I ask is that if you do write explicit Frog/Toad—and I hasten again to reassure you that gen or far tamer shippy fic is also great—I would want it to involve realistic frog anatomy, i.e., cloacas instead of penes. (Incidentally, it turns out that there is no scientific distinction between frogs and toads, which are just another kind of frog. The more you know!) I promise you that I would in no way feel that this injured my childhood, although I completely understand if you would feel diferently.

The Once and Future King — T. H. White
Arthur Pendragon, Guenever, Lancelot du Lac

Each of three loves the other two and doesn't want to hurt them but finds themselves constrained to do so anyway. I'm not saying that a threesome would necessarily solve everything here, but I do believe that it could solve a lot of the things. Whether the inevitable ending is the same, but at least the three of them are able to share another kind of happiness with each other while it lasts, or in fact them being together and not lying to each other allows them to somehow overcome Mordred's scheming, I would be interested in exploring any possibility, sweet or bittersweet or angsty. I'm really interested in Lancelot's thing with sadism, where other people's pain interests him and he can't conceive of any ethical way to deal with this interest, and incline to the theory that he is in many ways White's self-insert character. If no version of the threesome and the timeline is gelling for you, I would also love any story about the three of them interacting in some way that shows them all caring about each other in spite of the underlying tension/guilt.

Trixie Belden series — Julie Campbell Tatham & Kathleen Kenny
Trixie Belden, Honey Wheeler

I absolutely adore Trixie and Honey's friendship and think they would make an incredibly adorable couple as well. I love how loyal and supportive they are of each other, especially when it comes to the ways in which they are opposites. I think the setting is really important in these books and would prefer that everyone doesn't suddenly have a computer and a cell phone—unless it is actually far futurefic, in which case, that is totally awesome and I would love to see what the Bob-Whites are doing in their seventies. I'd be cool with background or past Jim/Trixie in a romantic or friendship fic, but would prefer that it not be the focus of the story, and would also prefer no Honey/Brian or Mart/Di.

For stalking purposes, I am [personal profile] mayhap on Dreamwidth, crossposted to mayhap on Livejournal, and [archiveofourown.org profile] mayhap on AO3; on tumblr I am [tumblr.com profile] pinchofnutmeg, because mayhap was taken. Feel free to take a gander at these tags ("dear author" and "yuletide") for stuff from Yuletides past if you so desire. Happy Yuletide!

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frog and toad are friends

Wednesday reading — tricks and treats

What I've been reading

I read Trickster: Native American Tales: A Graphic Collection. It was…really, really uneven in its execution. A lot of the art I didn't care for, and some of it seemed just straight-up bad to me. Also, there was at least one story that was lettered in Comic Sans and another that was lettered in Papyrus, which was horrifying to me. I never really know how to give star ratings to something like that—there were a few stories that I thought were really enjoyable, but the collection as a whole shows poor judgment.

I read Freaky Monday, which I was also disappointed with, as it turned out to be co-written with the screenwriter of the 2004 Freaky Friday movie and wasn't really in the vein that I was looking for. It's even set in California instead of New York.

I reread all four Frog and Toad books ahead of my Yuletide signups this year. (I'm still working on my letter.) Unsurprisingly I still really love them.

I reread Sixth Grade Secrets, not for any particular reason, just because it was close at hand and I was feeling unwell and it was one of my favorite kids books. I still remember all of the Pig City and Monkey Town songs.

I read number9dream, which I think I actually started listening to as an audiobook a while ago but never finished because it wasn't working for me in that format. It constantly veers off into shitthatdidnthappen.txt before backtracking and resuming the actual narrative in a way that that was just impossible for me to follow aurally, whereas by contrast I loved Cloud Atlas as an audiobook.

I reread Tombs, Temples & Hieroglyphs: A Popular History of Ancient Egypt, Barbara Mertz/Elizabeth Peters's other nonfiction book about Egypt. I love the personality of these books; they're like a class with a professor that you adore.

What I'm reading next

More Egypt stuff! I just got a batch of interesting-looking interlibrary loans in, so I'm excited. Nine more days until November!

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curiouser and curiouser

Wednesday reading — body-swapping and other thefts

What I've been reading

I read The City of Akhenaten and Nefertiti: Amarna and its People, which is a pretty thorough but still accessible read with lovely illustrations by an archaeologist who's worked at the Amarna site for 30 years. I was sort of offput by his brief but completely WTF aside about how great it is that slum-dwellers are able to build their dwellings without unnecessary government regulations. Like, wow, dude, if you love slums so much why don't you go live in one? But the Amarna stuff is really fascinating, since aside from the valuables that were removed everything was left in situ and you get a fuller picture of everyday life, albeit under some very anomalous circumstances.

I read Pharoah's Workers: The Villagers of Deir El Medina, which is a collection of essays more focused on my particular area of research interest. Also really interesting.

I read Vengeance, the six-issue Marvel miniseries that introduced Miss America Chavez, who later turned up in Kieron Gillen's Young Avengers. I remember I started trying to read this around when Young Avengers was coming out and getting lost around the beginning of issue two. The really unnecessary amount of plot convolution was retroactively explained in an editor's note at the end where they said that the whole idea for the mini was to use these six pieces of art depicting classic Marvel villians, which were admittedly lovely, but resulted in some potentially interesting if overwrought ideas getting pretty lost in the execution. I'm not totally sure why I continued reading it this time except I was sort of determined not to let myself be confused by comic books.

I read Shoplifter, a short graphic novel about a twentysomething woman with an unsatisfying and often grindingly-sexist job in advertising who rediscovers her original intent to become a writer and quits her job so she can write. It's a little like the sort of semi-fictionalized memoir that a lot of graphic novelists produce that sits a little awkwardly with the fact that the author is a man, but not to the point where it's horribly unconvincing.

I reread Freaky Friday, not really for any particular reason, except maybe that it was fairly close to the Zilpha Keatley Snyder books on my shelf and I felt like it. I also reread the two sequels (that I knew about), A Billion for Boris/ESP TV and Summer Switch. Unlike the original book, which I read as a kid, I found the second two books at thrift stores when I was in college, so definitely when an adult but also quite a while ago. I like A Billion for Boris better, even though the premise is sort of random—there's no particular reason why the ability of mothers to switch bodies with their daughters to teach them a lesson exactly makes it more plausible that old televisions should suddenly gain the ability to show tomorrow's broadcasts. Summer Switch, on the other hand, does the classic Freaky Friday premise but less successfully, I think. The movie studio executive and summer camp plots for Ape Face and his father respectively seem a little overdone compared with the (relatively! only relatively!) normal days their female counterparts had when they switched. Also it's set fairly far in the future from the first two and Annabel and Boris are broken up for no good reason and it turns out that I totally shipped them okay. Still, I mean, there are plenty of funny bits.

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Matilda

deaths in the children's section

I just saw that Zilpha Keatley Snyder has died, coincidentally two days after I was moved to reread The Egypt Game. (I checked because it could have been the same day and it wasn't, but it was close.)

I also just learned that Mary Rodgers died back in June and that she published a book called Freaky Monday in 2009. I loved Freaky Friday when I was a kid and the 1970s New York it describes was far more fantastic to me than the idea of body-switching.

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grip tape is love

trollmance

I started following the Kansas City Royals when they made it into the post-season for the first time in 29 years, and as they haven't lost a game since then, I haven't been able to stop watching them. It's actually very time-consuming! Without an electronic device to divert me during the copious amount of commercials and other downtime, I don't think I would be able to cope.

It is because of this that I have learned about the epic trollmance between Royals catcher Salvador Perez and outfielder Lorenzo Cain as depicted in a series of Instagram videos. Salvador stealthily films his hermanito at all times, sometimes while simultaneously pestering him other ways. Lorenzo pretends to be annoyed whenever he catches Salvador at it. Salvador promptly cuts him off mid-sentence and then uploads it to his Instagram.

As Salvador says, "The people like that."

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hairdressers

Wednesday reading — kids, Kindar and Kemet

What I've been reading

I read The Daily Life of the Ancient Egyptians, although once I realized that one of the authors is a strong believer that Tutankhamen was very definitely murdered I started reading with a heavy dose of natron.

I read Reading Egyptian Art: A Hieroglyphic Guide to Ancient Egyptian Painting and Sculpture, which is really cool. It illustrates a selection of important/commonly-used hieroglyphs with examples of that object or pose being referenced in art, little visual puns that you would miss if you, like most people, do not read ancient Egyptian.

I reread The Egypt Game, which was one of the things that I was thinking about when I originally had the idea that I thought I might take up this year of writing a children's book actually set in Egypt. It held up about as well as I remembered as a really realistic depiction of what it's like to play pretend.

I read The Islands of Chaldea, Diana Wynne Jones's last book, which was left unfinished and completed by her sister with nary a single note to guide her. Although I did have a vague feeling that the ending was not as satisfying as it could be, I do find, as apparently the other readers that Ursula Jones tested it on did, that I couldn't really say exactly where the unfinished manuscript ends and the invented ending begins.

I reread the Green Sky trilogy, Below the Root, And All Between, and Until the Celebration, which were my other favorites by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. I think, in retrospect, they may have been the first really science fiction books I read, because at the time I parsed them as fantasy, but of course in the 1970s "psi" elements were often included in science fiction, and otherwise they pretty clearly belong to that genre. These books come up a lot in whatwasthatbook-type questions from people who remember the part about a girl who doesn't have a word for "to kill" and so talks about wanting to "dead" something.

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Liv Tyler

Wednesday reading — museums and other displays

What I've been reading

I read Ashes to Ashes, the third book in Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian's trilogy. major, major spoilers for the previous book and this oneCollapse )

I read the first volume of What Did You Eat Yesterday?, which I thought was really adorable. I enjoyed it more than Antique Bakery, which I read two or three volumes of, I think. My library only has the first volume though so I'll have to look for scanlations.

I read Tutankhamen: The Search for an Egyptian King, because I went to the exhibit of replica artifacts from Tut's tomb when it was in my area and it reawakened my interest in all things Egyptological. It is a solid and readable popular account of both the discovery and excavation of the tomb and what subsequent conclusions can be drawn about Tutankhamen's life.

I reread The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More, which is a mix of fiction and nonfiction by Roald Dahl, pitched at his juvenile audience rather than his adult one. I particularly like his account of how he came to be a writer and what his writing process was like. Also, incidentally, Dahl writes some of the best, squirmiest, most scathing accounts of being caned in British boarding schools.

I read The Willful Princess and the Piebald Prince, which is the "true" version of a story that's referenced in the Farseer books as having happened in the past. medium spoilersCollapse )

I read Glacial Period, which is part of a series of comics commissioned by the Louvre, who set various comics creators loose in the museum for inspiration. Nicolas de Crécy set his story in the far future, when Europe is covered in glaciers and archaeologists accompanied by genetically enhanced talking pig-dogs discover the ruins of the Louvre. There's a very funny bit where the archaeologists describe what they think our lives were like based on the paintings they're looking at, and then it switches gears (and genres) rather abruptly as thousands of years worth of sculptures come to life through some unspecified mechanism and give their side of the story to Hulk, one of the pig-dogs (he is, of course, like the other pig-dogs on the expedition, named for one of the ancient gods). In spite of its inability to decide whether it's going to be science fiction or fantasy, it is pretty fun if you enjoy art history.

What I'm reading now

The Literature of Ancient Egypt: An Anthology of Stories, Instructions, Stelae, Autobiographies and Poetry

What I'm reading next

A lot of ancient Egypt stuff. Clearly having learned nothing from last year, I think I'm going to attempt another historical setting for NaNoWriMo…

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ehwaz

Wednesday reading — sinners, assassins and authors

What I've been reading

I went back and caught up on the Marvel event Original Sin, which I had hopelessly lost track of somewhere around the release of Original Sin #0. The main event storyline started out promisingly enough but lost me a bit by the end, to be honest. The Young Avengers had the main sidestory in the Original Sins sidestory title, which was nice, although it had some of the ugliest art that I have ever seen. I was a bit pleasantly surprised by the Original Sin: Hulk vs. Iron Man, and amused that they're openly riding the Science Bros love from the MCU. spoilerCollapse ) My favorite part, and the reason I felt like I needed to catch up with the event in the first place, was Original Sin: Thor & Loki: The Tenth Realm, although ultimately I'm more looking forward to getting back to Loki's solo book.

I reread Royal Assassin, the middle book of the Farseer trilogy. I definitely feel that I was able to enjoy it more on reread, because I'm more aware of Robin Hobb's narrative kinks and less likely to get frustrated when her characters feel honorbound to do the stupidest possible thing in any given circumstance over and over and over again. I think it's so funny that she made Fitz be an assassin at all, since I don't think she really kinks on that kind of pragmatic, ends-justify-the-means thing at all and kind of falls down at writing it on occasion, but at least it comes out more interesting than her Soldier Son trilogy, which is basically the unfiltered product of her loyalty and duty kink and almost unreadable.

I reread Black Swan Green, which I also appreciated more on reread when I was able to be resigned to the fact that it wasn't going to involve multiple point of view characters or any speculative fiction elements, unless you count the fact that it takes place in the universe in which the Cloud Atlas Sextet was composed. I mean, it is really good. But I love the ridiculousness in David Mitchell's books best.

I read Afterworlds, Scott Westerfeld's new book, which I had been anticipating greatly and which frankly disappointed me in a lot of ways. Its schtick, which I do appreciate, is that it alternates chapters about Darcy Patel, an eighteen-year-old who managed to land a massive contract for her first novel, a YA paranormal romance, with chapters of Darcy's novel. This is a very effective solution to the problem of how you make the book within a book feel real: actually write it. You have a point of reference when characters in the "real" storyline talk about reading Darcy's book, because it is an actual book and you are actually reading it. The problem is that neither of these two books are actually that great, as though the level of quality of Scott Westerfeld's usual books had to be divided among the two of them. Unlike most negative Goodreads reviewers, I actually liked Darcy's novel better than the novel about Darcy. Sure, it was often a bit cheesy and wouldn't stand very well on its own, but I thought Darcy's story was even thinner and more ridiculous and mostly a bunch of in-jokes about the New York YA scene that would stand even less well on its own, although together the two of them make up something interesting, albeit flawed.

What I'm reading now

I started rereading Assassin's Quest, but it's really long and I'm definitely going to need to read something else at the same time. At this rate it's going to be ages before I get to the new book.

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put Smarties tubes on cats legs

Wednesday reading — schemes and impostors

What I've been reading

I finished Big Money, although it was in a park and not in an automobile. It is pretty much a classic Wodehousian tale of money-making schemes, farcical misunderstandings, and people who get engaged to more than one person at a time, and so was everything that I could have asked of such a book.

I read The Iron Trial, which is the first book in a new series that Holly Black and Cassie Cla[i]re are collaborating on. Since I love all of Holly's books and read them immediately when they come out and put down Cassie's first (not fanfic) book about seventy pages in as being utterly unreadable, I had decidedly mixed feelings when the series was announced. My feelings about the book itself also ended up being a bit mixed—I felt like the characters were a bit shallowly-drawn sometimes, which seemed more Cassie's style but not ragequittingly so, and I thought the world and the story were fun, even though every now and then it felt like they had brainstormed by thinking of something that Harry Potter does and intentionally doing it the exact opposite way because. (My favorite instance was when very mild spoilerCollapse ).) I will totally keep reading the series.

I read The Quest for Corvo: an Experiment in Biography, a very odd book that I picked up from the dollar shelves at the Strand because it was published by the New York Review of Books imprint, which never puts out anything that is not at least potentially interesting, and its preface was written by A.S. Byatt. It's the story of a man who is recommended an odd novel by a friend and goes on to obsessively research its author, narrating his understanding of the man and his rather tragic life as he uncovers it in letters, interviews and manuscripts. It all seems too good to be true—so many people who knew Corvo recount their experiences with him in vividly-written letters, and all of his fiction proves to be so baldly autobiographical that with slight glosses it can be used to illuminate the portrait drawn from the other sources—but evidently he just was the sort of person who made deep impressions as he careened through life (and admittedly the art of letter-writing is not what it once was) and was incapable of writing or indeed understanding anything that was not centered on himself. Compared with this entirely true account, A.S. Byatt's novel The Biographer's Tale where she could make up anything she liked seems pretty dull in my recollection, although it's been some time since I read it and perhaps I should give it another chance some time.

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Vico

Wednesday reading — sash weight tie pins

What I've been reading

I actually only finished one book this week, since I was mostly busy doing other things, which included reading and/or retelling various stories from One Summer: America, 1927. Everyone I have come in contact with has learned all about the Sash Weight Murder and subsequent trial and that one time that Calvin Coolidge issued a statement saying that he wouldn't make Herbert Hoover his secretary of state even if the present officeholder quit, although he had demonstrated no more intention of doing this than Hoover had expressed interest in replacing him.

What I'm reading now

Thanks to its convenient Penguin paperback format, I started reading Big Money on planes and I have continued reading it on trains. Perhaps I will also read it in automobiles for the trifecta.

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