rachelmanija: (Buffy: I kind of love you)
( Oct. 21st, 2017 05:18 pm)
I had tons of fun with FemslashEx, and highly recommend browsing the archive.

My recipient was [personal profile] iknowcommawrite aka Scioscribe, who wrote me two lovely Treats last Yuletide! FemslashEx allows prompts for original fiction, and this is the prompt I wrote for:

Female Revolutionary/Princess

Class issues, identity porn, loyalty kink, and compromised principles: hell yeah. I think ideally I would like this one in a fantasy world, but I’m open to other possibilities. I’d love to see about any variation on this I could think of. Is the revolutionary undercover in the palace, getting ready to overthrow the monarchy while falling for the princess? Is the princess on the run from the revolution, disguising herself, and falling in amongst the rebels? Do either of them begin to rethink their principles or their policies? Is the revolutionary agitating in the open, and the princess is intrigued by her radical ideas? Other things I’m totally here for: wearing a crown while being thoroughly debauched by a revolutionary, hurt/comfort, kneeling, undressing from gowns and corsets, and virgin princess/experienced revolutionary.

Isn't that great? I found it very inspiring.

I wrote Burn, an epistolatory exercise in Ultimate Identity Porn. The revolutionary hides her face to conceal her identity. The princess silences her voice to preserve her purity. They know each other. And they don't...
rachelmanija: (Nick)
( Jun. 8th, 2017 01:17 pm)
I wrote a treat story for an unusual fic and art exchange, Jukebox. The stories are based on or inspired by songs, so they're closer to original fiction than to fanfic in the usual sense.

The whole collection is worth checking out; in most cases knowledge of the songs adds to the enjoyment of the stories but you can enjoy them without it. But songs are easy to pick up. Here's a playlist. I found some great new songs on it, from hiphop (This Is The Opposite Of A Suicide Note) to French traditional songs (J'ai Vu Le Loup, Le Renard Danser.)

Some of the highlights of the collection include a Tarot card for Leonard Cohen's The Stranger Song and a beautiful moonlit scene for Loreena McKennitt's Courtyard Lullabye.. Of the stories, I especially enjoyed the post-apocalyptic fantasy Midnight, like a lost Stephen King story written between The Gunslinger and The Stand, and the excellent sf story Trajectory with cool aliens and immense sense of wonder. But there were really a lot of excellent stories in the collection. If you have time, it definitely rewards browsing. If you do, comment with your favorites!

My story, i swear by all flowers, was inspired by Simon & Garfunkel's wistful April Come She Will. Spoilery story notes below cut. Read more... )
rachelmanija: (Default)
( Feb. 22nd, 2017 12:26 pm)
For the Chocolate Box exchange, which focuses on romantic or friendship pairings, I wrote The Gift for [personal profile] aurilly's request for Emeth/Tirian from The Last Battle. If you don't remember him, Emeth was the honorable young Calormene officer, who made a disproportionate impression in a very brief appearance, at least on those of us who like noble warriors.
rachelmanija: Fucking new guy hates my favorite rabbit book (FNG Hates My Rabbit Book)
( Jan. 16th, 2017 12:38 pm)
I participated in the [community profile] fandom_stocking gift exchange, and got a slew of lovely gifts, from icons to book reviews to links to beautiful things. Thank you again to everyone who gave me things! If any of that sounds nice, go check out the comments to my stocking and enjoy the pretty and the recs.

I also wrote two gift stories.

For Nenya Kanadka, I wrote a 2000 word original FF short story, The Pirate's Blessing. A space pirate seeks a very special blessing from the Goddess, and a priestess gets an unexpected blessing of her own. It is tagged
Space Pirates, Ritual Sex, and Holy Space Aikido, which should give you an idea of the tone. I hope it's as much fun to read as it was to write.

For Monanotlisa, I wrote a 400 word short based on Sarah Waters' Victorian lesbian Gothic Fingersmith. It's post-book and so spoilery, and I'm not sure if it makes sense if you haven't read the book, but if you have a thing for hands and gloves, and I know I do, you might like it anyway. Every now and then something just comes to me in a flash, whole, and this was one of them. It's also FF, but a totally different tone. First Page.
Despite difficult circumstances (the same thing that made me default last year, yes it’s still going on), I wrote five stories this Yuletide. The post where you can link to your own reveal post is here at the LJ comm. Please link if you made one, I for one love reading them and they're otherwise hard to find.

If you want to read my stories now, I'd suggest clicking the links first (or just reading my quickie "this is what you need to know about the canon" and then reading before you read my notes on them, because those may be spoilery. Spoilers for all stories are fine in comments here.

Feed Your Head. For Janie-tangerine. Wild Cards, a superhero anthology series edited by George R. R. Martin.

Summary: Times had changed. Paisley was out and polyester was in. Janis and Jimi and Tom Marion Douglas were dead. Country Joe had left the Fish and moved to a remote part of Canada, emerging from his shack only to issue strange broadsides advocating spelling reform. It seemed like everyone was tuning out, turning off, and dropping in. Or dropping dead.

But not here. Not now. Dylan was still singing, the Band was still playing, and the hippies had come for their counterculture communion.

Author’s notes: My assignment! Sort of. I actually matched on Dark Tower. But it's a pretty hard canon to write and since I coincidentally also knew Wild Cards, I did that instead after banging my head against a Dark Tower story for weeks without making much progress. I also really liked my recipient’s Wild Cards prompt.

Wild Cards is an alternate history where aliens released a virus that makes some people drop dead, some get hideously mutated ("jokers"), and some get superpowers ("aces.") The canon characters in my story are Jay Ackroyd, a cynical private eye who can teleport anything but himself, and Mark Meadows, a hippie with a really unusual ace power, which is that if he takes the right drugs, he turns into an alter ego with superpowers for one hour.

Several years previously to my story, Mark, then a brilliant young chemist, accidentally turned into "the Radical" while tripping balls at a "Tom Marion Douglas" concert (alt!Jim Morrison who is a totally literal Lizard King— he can turn into a reptile-headed ace). Ever since, Mark’s been trying to find the right drug combination to do it again, so far with no results other than becoming a total burnout.

My recipient said she liked the 70s-era setting and the music scene of Mark’s origin story. Snooping in her LJ revealed that she’s a huge music fan and we have a lot of favorite musicians in common, including Bruce Springsteen (not appearing in this story) and Bob Dylan, whose hilariously in-character reaction to his Nobel inspired me to give him the power to transport people into his songs. I had so much fun working in musical references and writing characters being stoned and characters annoyed at everyone else being stoned.

I knew writing this that it was pretty much a one-person fandom, so I was very happy that Janie-tangerine clearly enjoyed it and appreciated all the stalking I did to put in stuff I thought she’d like, from a stealth cameo by Croyd Crenson (her third requested character – it was a “any of these” request and I couldn’t work in her fourth) to a lot of riffs on '70s-with-superpowers and 60s/70s musical jokes (Country Joe's "Gimme an F! What's that spell?", Bob Dylan's possibly only funny to me inability to rhyme "You were always there when I need your help" with anything better than "the beach was deserted except for some kelp," etc.

Lovely In Her Fall. For Calenlily. Kushiel’s Dart, an alt!Renaissance France fantasy series by Jacqueline Carey.

Summary: A life told in visits to the Houses of the Night Court.

Author’s notes: All the characters in this are original. All you need to know to read this story is that in this world, sex work is consensual, respected, and sacred. The Night Court consists of thirteen very classy brothels, each with their own specialty, from the obvious (sadism, masochism, sexual healing) to the less so (mysticism, laughter, fragility (the last is really mono no aware). Naamah is the angel of sexual love, who had sex with strangers and the King of Persis in a myth emblematic to the Night Court; the epigraphs are from each House’s interpretation of what that was like for her.

Since the books explore the sadism and masochism Houses a lot, I skipped those to focus on what we see less or none of in canon. So there’s no painplay or hardcore BDSM, which the protagonist isn’t into. There’s some power games but they’re light.

Calenlily and I had written for each other for Yuletide before, so it was nice to do it again. I had a lot of fun with this story, though like all stories which inherently require a set number of scenes I had some “WILL THIS EVER END” moments. She had a very thought-provoking prompt, which was essentially that there had to be more to the House concepts than we saw in canon.

So I tried to both capture what would be sexy about the House concepts, and to go beyond the obvious (though I did that with some more than others.) The sexual healing the protagonist gets at Balm isn’t due to sexual trauma and the healing mostly involves something other than sex; at Bryony, the financial House, he does something that involves gambling but he’s actually getting off on something else entirely. I interpreted Gentian’s “mysticism” to mean “sacred” and “dealing directly with deep mysterious stuff like life and death.” And so forth.

The Heliotrope adept’s conversation about love was inspired by the issue in therapy (if you came here from the Yuletide comm: I’m a therapist) of having emotionally real relationships that often do involve very real but non-exclusive (NON-SEXUAL) love, but are time-and-place limited, for a specific purpose, and transactional. It’s obviously a totally different context and that is not literally what I’d ever say to a client. However, some of the points she makes, particularly the one about how certain types of intimacy inherently create love if you’re inclined that way, are true in my experience.

Structurally, the story is eleven sex scenes (or sex-related scenes) which tell the story of a man’s life in a specific context. But it’s also about why his life story can be told that way, why sex is so central to the Kushiel-verse, and why sex matters in ways that have nothing to do with reproduction.

To quote Madeleine L’Engle in a context that would probably make her hair curl, sex is part of “the joy without which the universe will fall apart and collapse.” A life without joy is no life at all, but most joy doesn’t derive from dramatic stuff like the birth of a child or falling in love. It comes from ordinary pleasures like eating and writing and reading and meeting friends and watching the sun set and doing Yuletide, or whatever it is that floats your boat.

And sex, of course. Not just having it, but fantasizing about it, reading about it, writing it, watching hot actors doing hot things onscreen, and sharing any of your pleasure in that with others. I don’t necessarily mean with others with whom you have any sort of sexual relationship, but simply as a shared enjoyment, if that makes sense. Sexuality is fun, from dick jokes to laughing in bed to writing kinks you never even thought of before because you know a specific person wants to read about them. Fandom has its issues with sexuality, but it also has a hell of a lot of fun with it.

While I was in grad school, a classmate friend mentioned that she was writing a paper about for our Jung class about the implications of women who may or may not identify as queer but who are definitely not in relationships with each other that they consider to be of a sexual nature, writing porn for each other.

“It definitely challenges how we usually define sexual activities and sexual orientation,” she said. “Maybe I should get more involved in fandom. I’d definitely like to get more in touch with my lesbian eros.” [Meaning women’s attraction to women, regardless of sexual behavior or how they label their sexual orientation.]

I said, “I don’t know if fandom is why, but I feel extremely in touch with my lesbian eros.”

She laughed. “We all know, Rachel!”

Which brings me to…

Delle Seyah’s Slave. For RunnerFive. Killjoys, a space opera TV show along the lines of Firefly.

Summary: Delle Seyah has information Dutch needs. The price? Being her slave for a night at the kinkiest lesbian sex party in the Quad.

Author’s Note: So, yeah. Porn, porn, nothing but porn. It’s dubcon, but of the “I hate this woman, why the fuck is she so hot, I should not be enjoying this, GODDAMMIT STOP ENJOYING IT RIGHT NOW” variety. (And also clearly could get out of it if she really wanted to.) All you need to know is that Dutch is a space bounty hunter and Delle Seyah is an amoral aristocrat, and canon interactions consist of stuff like Delle Seyah manipulating Dutch into lacing up her corset and Dutch saying, “I missed our hate-flirting.”

Infinite thanks to Egelantier, who not only screened me the entire series this story is based on, but literally stood over me and made me write the story. I was recovering from surgery at the time, among other things, and it was a lot more fun to contemplate Delle Seyah spanking Dutch than anything going on in my actual life. Sometimes when you write because you need it to survive you get the Federalist Papers, and sometimes you get a lesbian sex party.

I also want to thank my recipient, RunnerFive, whose letter was an absolute delight and inspiration. I got immense glee just from reading it, let alone writing for it. And she clearly enjoyed the hell out of it, so that was great too.

His Father’s Hall. For Joy_shines. The classic brother-sister incest ballad Sheath and Knife. Link goes to a great stark version by Ellie Bryan; the instrument is an Appalachian Mountain Dulcimer.

Summary: And they'll never go down to the broom any more.

Author’s notes: A short (400 word) riff on a song I love a lot.

Savage Lovecast Episode 69: Pounded in the Butt by Savage Lovecast Episode 69 [Transcript]


Dan Savage:
So you’re getting pounded in the butt by your own concept of linear time.

Caller: Right.

Dan Savage: What is that like?

Caller: Well, Dan, it’s kind of confusing. On the one hand, it’s fucking amazing hardcore gay action. On the other hand, last month I was double-teamed by the sociopolitical implications of Putin influencing the American Presidential election in order to install a tiny-handed fascist Cheeto in the White House, and by the historical precedents of Trump’s demagogic takeover of America for the purposes of personal profit and destroying all the best ideals of our nation.

Author’s Notes: Ha. Ha ha ha hahaha. Savage Love is a hilariously frank sex-and-relationship advice show hosted by Dan “DUMP THAT MOTHERFUCKER” Savage, who I was a fan of from when he just had a newspaper advice column, way before he got famous.

NaomiK, a friend of mine, requested Dan Savage advising people on sf/fantasy issues, like vampires or aliens exist and you kink on them. She also likes his top of the show political rants. And she likes crossovers. So I wrote her Dan Savage getting a call from a Chuck Tingle character, who needless to say has a problem that involves being pounded in the butt. Or maybe that’s not actually his problem…

I literally sat down and wrote this in an afternoon once I got the idea, taking breaks only to laugh hysterically. I only hope that it brought even a tenth as much hilarity to its readers as it did to me.
Five Times Burr Shot Hamilton (And One Time…)

Burr knew, suddenly and inexplicably but with absolute certainty, that he had done this before. He’d killed Alexander Hamilton, but he’d paid for it. Burr watched his bullet fly through the future and shatter his political career, blast him into a trial for treason, leave him penniless and paralyzed, and finally lodge him in a future where he was forever forgotten as anything but the man who had killed the great Hamilton.
Overviw here and specific rules here,but basically it's like Yuletide, but for genre romance novels written within the last 50 years (so Heyer, etc, is out.) They're taking nominations for characters and books now.

I'd really like to do this, but it will need lots of participants to make it work. I'm still thinking of what to nominate, but I need to think fast as nominations close on the 14th. It's open to any gender combinations, but my favorite MM and FF couples are all from books that contain romance, but are not in the romance genre, and this is specifically for genre romance. (I can't tell if Captive Prince published as genre romance or historical fantasy or what.)

I'm thinking of nominating Tracy Shapiro and Decker from Suzanne Brockmann's Troubleshooters, and… hmm… maybe Ruck and Melanthe from Laura Kinsale's For My Lady's Heart? Matt and Willa from T. S. Joyce's Gray Back Bad Bears? You get to nominate three fandoms of six characters each.

Anyone else interested? Who and what are you thinking of nominating?
rachelmanija: (Autumn: small leaves)
( Dec. 31st, 2015 05:42 pm)
I defaulted on Yuletide due to illness, which was hugely depressing for me, but got somewhat better after that and ended up writing three treats! So between that and my FOUR wonderful gifts, I had a happy Yuletide after all.

Where Nightmares Live is based on a famously traumatizing novel by Stephen King, Pet Sematary. It's not only quite scary in terms of horror tropes, but is an extremely visceral evocation of a number of real-life nightmare scenarios. King was inspired to write it when he barely managed to save his toddler son from being hit by a speeding truck, and then was haunted by thoughts like, "What if I'd been a second too slow? What would I feel if my son died? Is anything worse than losing your child?"

The essay in which he explains that and other real-life inspirations for the book is in the beginning of the Kindle version, and can be read for free by clicking on "Look Inside." It's a powerful essay that was particularly intense for me to read recently, because it's about what happens when you're the kind of writer who naturally integrates autobiography into your fiction, as King is and I am as well, and you're going through an extraordinarily dark time or at least have something extraordinarily dark on your mind. You write from your heart, as you always do, but what you come up with may not be what anyone wants to read. Stephen King nearly shelved Pet Sematary because he thought it was too disturbing to release, but his wife Tabatha persuaded him that it was too good to hide away and made him send it to his editor.

Pet Sematary is a book that lots of people seem to read once and then wish they hadn't. This has nothing to do with its artistic quality, which is quite high. It sears itself into your brain and leaves you deeply unsettled in a way that few horror novels do. I have read it exactly twice, once when I was about fourteen and once this year, and found that I recalled it extremely well despite the nearly thirty-year gap between readings. I re-read it after seeing the prompts for it, which were excellent prompts and for a book which asks the question that was on my mind at the time, which is "Is there anything worse than death?"

The prompts, by Raedbard and Maharetr, asked what happens to Ellie Creed, the protagonist's daughter, who is a child when the book ends. All the disturbing stuff in the book is also in my story, which is extremely spoilery for the book. Content warning for literally everything upsetting that involves death and dying.

Read more... )

The Story of the Doe Who Hid Her Kittens is my third Watership Down story. It's a story-within-a-story, a tale told in secret by a doe in Efrafa. I don't think the story works if you haven't read the book. The prompt was by Astrokath, who wrote my single favorite Yuletide letter. We share a number of fandoms and she had great prompts for all of them. I would have written for all her prompts if I'd had time.

Read more... )

To Heal A World was written for Vonda N. McIntyre's Dreamsnake, for Eisoj5, who has requested this fandom multiple times. Every year I want to write it for her, and every year I keep not having a chance. I was so happy to finally write it this year.

It's a fandom I've requested myself (and received lovely stories in, including one this year!) It's one of my favorite sf novels, a post-apocalyptic picaresque about Snake, a healer who keeps genetically engineered snakes for their healing venom. The book is about doing good in a troubled world. I think all you need to know to read my story (which is quite short) is that in the course of the book, Snake adopts an abused child, Melissa. Both the story I wrote and the story I received are about what happens to Melissa after the book ends. My story has a spoiler for something that happens about a third of the way into the book, and I'm not sure if it makes sense if you haven't read the book.

"What does it take to heal a world?" was one of the prompts, and that question is very much at the heart of the book. The novel implies that Melissa apprentices herself to Snake more because she idolizes her than because she has a calling to be a healer, and that she will probably end up doing something else, though perhaps something related. I thought about how one might heal a world without literally being a doctor. I also wanted to have snakes feature prominently, because Eisoj5 mentioned having pet snakes. My solution is probably not that scientifically likely, but hopefully emotionally satisfying.
I wrote Narnia fanfic! It was a treat for Snacky, who mods the Narnia Fanfic Exchange. Her prompt was “Rilian wanted to explore Bism in The Silver Chair. I'd love a story about him going back to the Underworld, after he's King, and looking for a way to Bism.”

If you don’t recall that bit, which obviously she and I found extremely memorable, it’s after Prince Rilian has been disenchanted. All the Earthmen, who had also been enchanted by the witch, are fleeing back down to their home at the center of the Earth. One of them invites Rilian to visit his home:

“I have heard of those little scratches in the crust that you Topdwellers call mines. But that’s where you get dead gold, dead silver, dead gems. Down in Bism we have them alive and growing. There I’ll pick you bunches of rubies that you can eat and squeeze you a cupful of diamond juice. You won’t care much about fingering the cold, dead treasures of your shallow mines after you have tasted the live ones in Bism.”

“My father went to the world’s end,” said Rilian thoughtfully. “It would be a marvelous thing if his son went to the bottom of the world.”

However, Rilian is not able to go. He says, “But I have left half of my heart in the land of Bism.”

I’ll Squeeze You A Cup Full of Diamond Juice.
rachelmanija: (Books: old)
( Jan. 1st, 2014 02:57 pm)
I wrote three stories this year, in Scott Lynch’s “Gentleman Bastards” series, C. L. Moore’s Northwest Smith, and Stephen King’s The Stand.

My assignment was in the fandom I had most hoped to be matched on, Scott Lynch’s “Gentleman Bastards,” which I’d recently re-read. It’s about con men in fantasyland, full of lovely worldbuilding details and dialogue straight out of The Sopranos. The gang consists of Locke Lamora, the brains of the outfit with a penchant for over-complicated melodrama; Jean Tannen, previously a soft merchant’s son, who discovers a gift for fighting; and Calo and Galdo Sanza, sidekick twins.

My recipient, Labellementeuse, requested the time period where they’re all teenagers under the mostly-benevolent mentorship of Father Chains, a real priest masquerading as a fake one. She also requested Jean’s POV, a focus on the Locke-Jean relationship, and to see what Jean sees in Locke. I thought that was a great prompt: not too detailed, not too vague.

I wrote The Goddess of Suffering Scam. No canon knowledge needed beyond what I just told you, and it’s not spoilery for the books. The self-flagellating apparatus was Sherwood Smith’s suggestion, and in my opinion it completely makes the story.

Northwest Smith is lush, vivid space opera from the 1930s, featuring Northwest Smith, a tall Earthman with colorless eyes whose stoic exterior conceals some interesting psychological vulnerabilities, and his partner, Yarol the Venusian, a cheerfully amoral young man who looks like an angel and is constantly rescuing Smith from soul-sucking space vampires.

Last year I requested it, and got an amazing story, Ithaka, or, the Moons of Jupiter from Quillori. This year she requested it herself. Her letter was so charming that it ought to be read in full. (One note here about slash - I know Smith/Yarol is a popular reading, if anything can be said to be popular in such a tiny, almost non-existent fandom. And it's not as though I have any objection in theory - Smith does spend an awful lot of time noticing how gorgeous Venusians are in general and Yarol in particular - but I have a hard time reading Smith as anything other than straight, or perhaps not straight exactly - I can imagine him having friendly, casual sex with Yarol on a regular basis - but we spend enough time in his viewpoint that it really does seem to me his type, or what he genuinely believes is his type, is women (women, or possibly eldritch abominations and dark gods - with whom, frankly, he appears to have more success). )

Quillori wanted a story starring Yarol and focusing on worldbuilding, saying that often her favorite part of the story was when they were wandering around alien worlds and the plot hadn’t actually started yet. I thought that was a wonderful prompt, and wrote Strangler’s Veil. No canon knowledge needed beyond what I just told you.

Finally, [personal profile] kore and I co-wrote West, for Stephen King’s The Stand.

The novel is post-apocalyptic, a huge, sprawling, vivid narrative with a memorable ensemble cast. Toward the end, four of the characters— all men— go on a quest to save the world. Maidenjedi’s prompt was, “What if the women went instead?”

Cut for length and spoilers for both our story and The Stand. If you’re thinking of reading our story, please do so before reading the author notes. If you haven’t read The Stand, I don’t think our story will be comprehensible.

Read more... )
rachelmanija: (Naruto: Super-energized!)
( Jan. 1st, 2013 10:30 am)
I wrote three stories this year. Given all the other stuff that was going on, I’m amazed that I could even manage one.

If you want to read the stories before you read my notes, they are Queen of Berries (J. R. R. Tolkien’s “Smith of Wootton Major”), The Derelict (C. L. Moore’s Northwest Smith), and Kushiel’s Fall (Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel novels). They’re all more or less “don’t need to know canon.”

My assignment was Queen of Berries, for Tolkien’s little-known novella, “Smith of Wootton Major.” It’s a perfect little story about an English village on the outskirts of Faery, their unusual tradition of the Twenty-Four Feast, and a boy named Smith who gets the ability to travel into Faery. He marries Nell, who knows about his journeys but cannot accompany him. My challenge here was writing anything that could even begin to live up to the original. Eeek!

My recipient, Amyfortuna, suggested a number of possible paths for my story to take. Of those, the ones I picked up were “more about Smith in Faery,” “more about Nell and Smith’s marriage,” and “something from Nell’s POV.” This suggested to me a story with dual POVs, Nell in Wootton Major and Smith in Faery; that in turn suggested a story about how there are major parts of their lives which they don’t and can’t share, and how they do their best to share them anyway. Since English foods and festivals are such a crucial part of the original, I invented a tradition to play a key role in mine.

You probably don’t need to have read Tolkien’s story to read mine… but you should read Tolkien’s story. FYI, the first comment to my story includes a major spoiler for the original.

This is my second Yuletide story to garner comments about craving pudding after reading.

I also wrote a Treat for one of my own request fandoms. Someone else had also requested Northwest Smith and there was nothing in the archive for it by the 23rd, so I hastily wrote a story. To my surprise and delight, apparently someone else had the same thought, because a Northwest Smith fic appeared on Christmas Eve for me!

C. L. Moore’s Northwest Smith stories are classic pulp sf from the 1930s, of the lush, romantic, space opera variety. She was notable for taking emotion, psychology, and sexuality as real forces that drove her stories; the best ones turn on some distinctly bittersweet revelation of character. Smith is a hardbitten space gunslinger who is constantly running into aliens who exploit his psychological vulnerabilities; Yarol the Venusian, his partner, is sweet and charming and amoral, and spends a lot of time dragging a reluctant Smith away from alien succubuses and ineffable visions of beauty that fry men’s minds.

You don’t need to know the originals to read The Derelict, and it’s not spoilery. My recipient really liked the Moore story “Shambleau,” so I gave “The Derelict” a similar emotional arc, though in a quite different setting. I threw in two of my favorite pulp sf tropes, the spooky derelict spaceship (complete with note of DOOM clutched in a dead man’s hand) and the idea that hyperspace is ineffably wonderful/ineffably horrifying/addictive/drives you insane/kills you/all of the above. The end sequence was inspired by Odysseus and the sirens, though Yarol’s solution is slightly more drastic than Odysseus’. The other NW Smith writer was also inspired by the Odyssey, oddly enough. Possibly so was Moore, and that transmitted to both of us.

My third story was Kushiel’s Fall, for Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel series. Irascible clothing designer meets silver-tongued disabled diplomat; banter, clothing porn, and emotional healing ensues. You don’t need to know the fandom to read my story. (Just so you know: there’s no BDSM. Sorry.)

In canon, beauty and physical perfection are a cultural obsession, and prostitution (the Night Court) is both a business and a sacred calling. Favrielle, an adept of the Night Court, was kicked out when her face was scarred in a mysterious accident which was widely rumored to have been no such thing. She later became a successful clothing designer, but remained understandably bitter.

My recipient said she was rooting for Favrielle to find some kind of emotional healing, she wanted to know what was up with that supposed accident, and she loved reading descriptions of Favrielle’s gorgeous designs. I read that prompt, thought that Favrielle needed to meet someone else with scars of their own, and the idea of the costume she ends up designing for her client popped into my head. The rest of the story practically wrote itself.

It is definitely the creature from Rachel’s id, even without any actual sex. I assume this is how Swan Tower guessed that it was mine – congratulations, you were correct! My original character, Julien de Somerville, was particularly fun to write. I was amused by how many commenters were particularly taken with his costume. Maybe someone will do fan art for it. ;)

Spoiler for “Kushiel’s Fall.”

Read more... )

I didn’t realize this till all three stories were posted, but in a bizarre coincidence, of my three stories, two have a protagonist named Smith and the third involves a smith!
rachelmanija: (Princess Bride: Let me sum up)
( Jul. 24th, 2012 11:21 am)
1. I am on Goodreads here, and am happily procrastinating by importing reviews originally written here, and writing 2-3 line reviews of books I didn't review here. Also uploaded a more flattering (I hope) photo.

2. Yesterday I made home-made chicharrones (pork rinds) despite not having a deep fryer, and they came out perfect. I cut pork belly into small slices and chunks, salted and peppered it, then laid it on a tin foil-lined baking sheet and roasted it in the oven at 450 until it smelled delicious and the skin got bubbly. If you've never had the real thing, is it so much more delicious than the packaged stuff. If I hadn't been hitting the gym regularly, I might feel vaguely guilty or concerned about eating about a quarter pound of the least healthy food ever, but I have been, so I don't.

3. [personal profile] staranise has created Clinical Documentation, an A03 collection of fanfic in the form of psychological reports on fictional characters. If you have one, put it up!
I'm thinking of putting together a collection of my short stories, plus some poetry and maybe an essay or two, on Kindle.

I was inspired by Mike Allen publishing his SteamPowered, Steampunk Lesbian Stories story Sleepless, Burning Life as a stand-alone Kindle novellette.

I do not expect to become a millionaire (step one: obscure author best known for memoir self-publishes publishes obscure fantasy stories; step two: ???, step three: PROFIT), but I think it might be fun, and there are a handful of people out there who would probably enjoy such a thing.

I have two question:

1. Whether or not you would actually purchase such a thing, is there anything in particular or in general that you'd want to have in it?

Already decided upon: all three of my published short stories, plus all poems nominated for the Rhysling.

Most fanfic is out due to copyright issues, but I do have one story which was inspired by a Carter & Grammar song, and works as original fantasy. I have a couple other stories which I like but couldn't sell, plus poems ditto.

2. O Kindle self-publishers, please advise and tell tales from the trenches! How did you get your cover art? Was it profitable (at all?) What price points worked best for you? Did you advertise?
Some of you have found this already. (Good God! So this is what it's like to write in a currently popular fandom, even if not for the juggernaut pairing. I can only imagine how many people would read this by now if it was about Steve and Tony.) For those of you who haven't, I wrote a short story about Clint and Natasha (Hawkeye and Black Widow.)

Shortly after the end of the end of the movie, Nick Fury sends the two of them on a very easy mission, just to make sure everything's all right between them and Clint is fit for duty. The mission is a cakewalk. Some other things aren't. Rated PG; nothing more disturbing or explicit than is seen or implied in the movie. Cakewalk.

ETA: Oh, and if you've already read it, I have a theory about Natasha's greatest fear which was impossible to get into the story itself due to it being from Clint's POV. Ask if you're curious.
I wrote four Yuletide stories that weren’t “No Reservations: Narnia.”

I had a ton of fun writing I Wait For You, for [personal profile] springgreen. You don’t need to know either of the fandoms to read this story, which should stand on its own as a post-apocalyptic love story between a bubble boy and a feral mutant girl. It’s a mash-up between The Bride With White Hair and the Jay Chou music video "Qing Hua Ci."

I saw this on the pinch-hit list, but failed to snag it, and decided to write a Treat anyway. I started vaguely tossing about ideas, and thought “reincarnation story in the far-future – that would work for either of the canons I know – HEY!” As you can probably tell, I had enormous fun writing this, translating wuxia conventions into mutant powers and letting my id run amok.

Thanks to Dusty Asymptote for providing Lieqi’s name.

The Devil and Dayna Jurgens (a play on “The Devil and Daniel Webster,” in case the title sounds vaguely familiar,) was a Treat for [personal profile] kimbari, from Stephen King’s The Stand.

She wanted an original character interacting with one or more of the book characters, post-Captain Trips. I thought that was a great prompt, and immediately wanted to write about Dayna Jurgens, who is the most bad-ass character in the novel and possibly ever, a bisexual jock who tries to kill Satan with a switchblade. She has a small role in the book but makes a disproportionate impression, at least on me.

The songs are all real folk songs, and I too learned “Barnacle Bill the Sailor” at summer camp. When I was twelve. That probably explains a lot. I put them in because folk songs are so much a part of what I think of as Americana, even if they’re not actually American, and I wanted to get some of that into the story as it’s so essential in the book.

The other element I wanted to write about was that there clearly had to be a third faction in addition to the two we see in the book, but we never meet any of those people. Here, we do.

The Two Queens, for [profile] bjeweled, is yet another Pern story! Maybe this will become a Yuletide tradition for me. I was inspired by a request off the Treat list for a story about what happens to Kylara after her dragon dies, along with a plea not to make her an evil caricature. I had never thought of writing a story about that, as in canon, she goes insane and is never heard from again.

Obviously, she had to recover from her madness, or the story would be 1000 words of raving. There was a limit to how much I could do as I only saw this request a couple hours before the deadline, but I tried to write a plausible story that humanizes her without changing her out of all recognition. I was also taken with the chance to tag a story “masturbation, redemption.”

My original assignment was Unbreakable, for [personal profile] sheila_snow. The source is Dick Francis’s Sid Halley series, a series which I love very much. I highly recommend the first book, Odds Against, in which a depressed and disabled ex-jockey lackadaisically collecting a paycheck as an advisor to a detective agency finds a new interest in life after getting shot on the job.

Despite my love of the fandom, I struggled with the plot, I struggled with the voice, and then the Death Cold of Doom provided the coup de grace. I wanted to write some hurt-comfort with character development and role reversal, but I kept getting entangled in an uncooperative plot, which started off with espionage and Soviet defectors and ended up with murder and Ponzi schemes. [profile] etothey, [personal profile] ione, [personal profile] springgreen, [personal profile] sister_coyote all valiantly helped me with brainstorming, and [personal profile] rushthatspeaks provided an excellent beta. Many hands did not spoil the broth, for the recipient and several others liked it! Thank goodness.
"The Doors Into Otherwheres: Five Women Segnbora Didn’t Sleep With (And Three She Did)"
A multi-fandom femmeslash extravaganza
starring Segnbora of Diane Duane’s “The Door Into…” series
co-starring Kylara of Pern, Karen Kasumi of X/1999, and Storm of the X-Men
and featuring several mystery cameos

Fandoms: Diane Duane’s “Door” books, Anne McCaffrey’s Pern, The X-Men (Chris Claremont-era comicverse), and X/1999
Word Count: 6600
Rating: R
Warnings: Consensual sex including mild BDSM; adventure-style mild violence.
Synopsis: Segnbora travels to other universes via the worldgate doors, meeting women, saving lives, having adventures, and getting new perspectives on herself.

This story is for [personal profile] cmattg, who won it in the [profile] helphaiti auction.

If you haven’t read the Door books, Segnbora is a failed wizard who is canonically bisexual and polyamorous. The Fire or Flame is the magic she can’t access, though she does have other magical abilities. The story takes place during the first book, The Door Into Fire, when she and her friends are hanging out in the ruin with the doors into otherworlds.

It’s not significantly spoilery for anything in any canon. But if you want to know what was up with the dragons, you will have to read the second book, The Door Into Shadow.

This story contains several additional bonus surprise crossovers. The person who correctly identifies the highest number of them in comments can make an original or fic prompt request, and I will attempt to fill it.

The trailing ends of Storm’s hair fell across Segnbora’s shoulders, caressing them like a breath of wind. )
Title: A Light in Dark Places
Fandom: Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain
Words: 550
Rated: G
Spoilers: None as such, but it takes place after The Castle of Llyr.
Synopsis: Eilonwy does more than just learn to be a lady while she’s away at Mona.

For [personal profile] rilina, who resembles the title.

“Newts,” explained Eilonwy. )
rachelmanija: (Staring at laptop)
( Jan. 24th, 2010 02:06 pm)
[livejournal.com profile] darius won my offer of an original story or poem in the [livejournal.com profile] care_faith_hope auction, and challenged me to write a sestina or story about the Tines, the pack-mind wolf-creatures from Vernor Vinge's A Fire Upon The Deep (Zones of Thought), who share one mind in packs of four to six (they can be bigger, but they lose a lot of intelligence), and can switch out members but alter their personalities and names accordingly.

Behold! A sestina! Damn, that is a tough form. No, I don't know what possessed me to make it even harder by adding on an additional rule.

Better to be one-in-many, to be ever-shifting pack )
rachelmanija: (Staring at laptop)
( Jan. 24th, 2010 02:06 pm)
[livejournal.com profile] darius won my offer of an original story or poem in the [livejournal.com profile] care_faith_hope auction, and challenged me to write a sestina or story about the Tines, the pack-mind wolf-creatures from Vernor Vinge's A Fire Upon The Deep (Zones of Thought), who share one mind in packs of four to six (they can be bigger, but they lose a lot of intelligence), and can switch out members but alter their personalities and names accordingly.

Behold! A sestina! Damn, that is a tough form. No, I don't know what possessed me to make it even harder by adding on an additional rule.

Better to be one-in-many, to be ever-shifting pack )
My Yuletide assignment, for Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern novels, was The Ballad of Mirrim and Menolly's Ride, for [livejournal.com profile] calenlily. Rated PG for non-graphic violence; gen.

Menolly, Mirrim, and Mirrim's dragon Path travel through times that were, will be, and might have been to warn Pern of a deadly new threat.

If you're not familiar with Anne McCaffrey's Pern books but want to read this anyway (I'm flattered if that's the case), click on the link below for background information. If you are familiar with the books but haven't re-read them in ages, I incorporated reminders of the necessary background into the story, so you should be good to go. (The story ignores all canon written after Dragondrums.)

This is the first time I've ever written my own request for Yuletide. I don't mean that I ignored my recipient's notes, but that I incorporated them into a story which also fulfills one of my requests. Duels, female friendship, female heroism, dragon companions, alternate universes, the bittersweet knowledge of paths not taken, and having the world recognize your awesomeness exactly as you are, flaws and all: this epic gen adventure is the creature from Rachel's id.

Background info on Pern )

I only offered Mirrim and Menolly, but was matched on "any" with a recipient who had requested Pern twice, once for "any" and once for her OTP, Lessa and F'lar. Luckily, poking through my recipient's LJ revealed that she did like both Mirrim and Menolly, though sadly she requested no non-canonical relationships so there could be no femmeslash. On the other hand, I'm not sure when they would have had time to have sex in my story anyway.

Here's her Yuletide letter. Note how I did manage a variant on her suggestion of "Weyrleaders through the ages."

This story was enormously assisted by [livejournal.com profile] yhlee, by brainstorming, beta, and the invaluable loan of The Atlas of Pern. She also terrorized me by informing me, quite correctly, that my story (then clocking in at 13,000 words) was rushed and too short. After agonizing, I made it longer. At 18,000 words, this is the longest short piece I've ever written in my life.

By the way, Pern has the most inconsistent canon of anything I've ever written. Characters' names are spelled differently in different books. Object names are spelled differently. Dueling between dragonriders is a) absolutely forbidden, b) something dragonriders are specifically trained to do, c) met with general approval, d) causes a summit meeting. The apparent ages of characters are inconsistent with the timeline, which itself is confusing due to time travel.

Incidentally, I ended up writing a Treat story, "The Marvels We Have Seen," for a different recipient which could conceivably work as a prequel. Don't read the Treat unless you're OK with the idea that Mirrim and Menolly's friendship occasionally involves sex.

Here be enormous spoilers for my story, and also dragons. Read the story first. )


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