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[personal profile] labingi
Better late than never, happy Bilbo and Frodo's birthday!

I have been reading my son The Lord of the Rings. Alas, we are making very slow progress because I only read it once a week (the rest of the time his dad reads other books), and since school started, he's been so tired with his own evening reading to himself that he falls asleep after about one section.

"When will we reach the Black Riders again?" he asks.
"If we never reach the Prancing Pony, it will be a while," say I.

Other than that, my mind has not had much room for LotR this season. It is filled with many things, but the love is perpetual.

Bigotry and Pen Pals

Sep. 21st, 2017 07:48 am
lydamorehouse: (yaoi)
[personal profile] lydamorehouse
I have written here, in the past, about how I have suspected that some of my International Pen Friends, who have sent me "rejection" letters, after a few back-and-forths, might have done so because I chose to come out to them as a lesbian. I have no ACTUAL proof, of course.  No one has ever written to say, "I'm sorry I can't write to you any more; you are a disgusting queer."  Mostly, they say, "Oh, jeez, look at the time. I committed to writing to you, but suddenly I can't because.... uh, BUSY.  HONEST." Yet, these letters (I've gotten two) would IMMEDIATELY follow my telling them that, yeah, actually "Shawn" is a lady, and my wife.

Now, I should be clear, I've had a number of success stories. My pen pal in Netherlands who loves "F.R.I.E.N.D.S." has a lesbian daughter, so coming out to her was a no-brainer. Both of my Australians could care less. Another one of my German pen friends is clearly a LITTLE prickly about it, but my sense is she's kind of prickly about a LOT of things. :-)

But, here's a new piece in the puzzle of "What is up with the conservative streak in pen friends?"  

A couple of entries ago, I explained FBs (Friend Books).  Several days ago a random person in Maryland who found my name on a FB, sent me a pile of them.  Most of them were half-way full and this Maryland correspondent had included her name in all of them, like you do.  However.  One of them was from that someone I shall call "Cass," who started one for herself.  She had a long entry on her front cover about the various things she was interested in and things she'd be willing to swap, all very typical stuff.  Then she adds, "I am bi, open-minded pen pals only, please." 

No one had added their name.

Not one soul.

Not even the person who sent it to me, who had put her name in literally every other FB.

Despite a plea from Cass that the FB be "passed quickly." 

I know I live in the era of Trump, when people boldly and proudly wear their bigotry on their sleeves. Yet, pen palling, by its nature, seemed to me to be the sort of hobby that would naturally attract people who were interested in other people. It's a hobby that requires you to talk to strangers. The entire POINT of pen friends is to reach out, sometimes across international borders, with a hand out in friendship.  

Of course I wrote to Cass. I sent her a picture of my family, a short introductory note that suggested that we could be pals, and sent her a pile of FBs to "swap," hoping that somewhere in all of them, she would find someone else who would write back.  I added my name to the FB that she started and sent it on to a friend who I know is open-minded, even though she isn't part of the pen palling community.  

But, I don't entirely understand it.  I mean, yes, pen palling is an old-fashioned kind of hobby. I guess maybe that 'old-fashionedness' lends itself to certain stereotype of a stay-at-home mom, who is lonely... but I still don't see how that lends itself to "eew, gay!" Also what are these people worried about? That we're going to write long letters detailing our sex lives?  No, I'm just as boring a pen pal as anyone else. I talk about my failed garden projects and my cats.  Do you suppose other pen pals are worried about being hit on?  Even though I explain I am MARRIED with kids.

It's weird and baffling, and it makes me sad.

What are You Reading Wednesday?

Sep. 20th, 2017 08:44 am
lydamorehouse: (Default)
[personal profile] lydamorehouse
 Did I read anything this week?  I'm actually not sure. I _do_ have a pile of things that I'm planning on reading, however.  Does that count?

What did I do INSTEAD of reading? I wish I knew. Part of this, I think, is getting back into the "Back to School" mode.  Mason was sick with a cold late last week (he missed school on Friday), and then Shawn promptly caught it.  So I've been doing a lot of nursemaiding.  

Ugh. Work just called. They wanted me to go into New Brighton's' branch tonight and work 5 to 8.  I probably should have said yes, but I work both tomorrow and Friday.  

Also? It's MasterChef's finale tonight.

I know this sounds stupid, but ever since Mason was very small we have, as a family, been fans of MasterChef.  It's the one network TV show we actually tune in for.  All three of us gather in the TV room upstairs and adjust the rabbit ears so that we can watch the show.  It's not even all that great. Most people would probably prefer The Great British Baking Show or Iron Chef.  Not us. We're faithful to Gordon Ramsey and his disappointed looks and rants about things that are "rawr." 

For once, too, the contestants left standing at the end are all weirdos.  There's one white guy, but he's fully tattooed, bleach blond, and heroin-addict skinny... and a super-odd, with very Italian-American from Brooklyn accent.  Currently, I'm rooting for Jason, an Asian-American guy who comes with a male partner, kind of BECAUSE he's gay (though he is one of the most cheerful people they've had on).  The other contestant is Eboni, a black woman from Chicago.  We like them all.  This is one of the few times where we won't be disappointed with whoever wins.

Skipping work for TV, though?  Probably I'm going to hell.

The Secret Subculture of Pen Pals

Sep. 19th, 2017 05:46 pm
lydamorehouse: (crazy eyed Renji)
[personal profile] lydamorehouse
Today, in the mail, I got a thick envelope from someone I didn't know in Revere, MA. Most of my pen pals from the International Pen Friends (IPF) are, well, international... so I was curious what this thick envelope might contain. I opened it up and out came a veritable ton of what are called "Friendship Books" (FBs.)

I couldn't figure out how I'd been gifted with this "bounty," until I discovered that one of the FBs was started for me, by one of my German pen pals.

Friendship Books are hard to explain. Wikipedia has an article about them, but it doesn't entirely do them justice. The ones I've seen are small, a quarter of a sheet of paper in size. They're handmade, often very crudely--nothing more than colored paper, side-stapled together.  On the front is a person's name and address.  This little booklet is then sent on to pen pals, each of them writing their name and address in it, and passing it along to one of THEIR pen pals, almost like a chain letter, except the idea is to fill the booklet up with people interested in receiving new pen pals. Once the book is filled, it's sent back to the person whose name is on the front/top.

EXCEPT.

There's all these unspoken rules.  Sometimes people send FBs just to see how far they'll go around the world before they come back, so, if you're using the FB to find more pen pals, you have to examine each entry carefully. Some people will just sign their name and something like, "Waving from Cleveland Ohio, and passing on!" 

There are all these codes involved: SNNP (Sorry No New Pen Pals) or NPW (New Pen Pals Wanted) or LLW (Long Letter Writer) or AS (Answers Some), as opposed to AA (Answers All).  They will often include date of birth, because a lot of pen pal seekers want to converse only with people their age. They'll also list the languages they're comfortable writing in--which has been frustrating for me. I've been trying to land a Japanese pen pal, but the ONE I spotted in a FB only wanted pen pals in Korean.  (You may be scratching your head, but international pen pals often use correspondence as a way to practice/keep up on their English/foreign language skills.)  I also actually saw someone who listed, and I kid you not, Esperanto as one of the languages they'd correspond in.  People will include lists of interests: puppies! Unicorns! Heavy Metal music! (or, another one I saw from a different Japanese FBer "I love Jesus!")

But, so I got this huge pile and for the first time went through several of them looking for the words "FB and slam swappers needed" which meant that they were willing to accept FBs, because, honestly, I kind of hate the pressure of having a bunch laying around that I haven't sent out yet.  This is the other way in which these remind me of chain letters, honestly. I have this weird sense of "AH, I should do something with this immediately!"  Anyway, I managed to unload a bunch of them that way.

I have to admit to enjoying reading through these things, strange as they are.  When I was showing these to my friend Naomi today, I read one of the longer ones in which this person wanted to swap: "FBs, postcards, teabags, magnets, bookmarks, pocket letters, ATC, flip books, washi." And, suddenly we were like, "What are pocket letters??"

So we Googled it and found that pocket letters are a crafter's answer to pen palling. You thought this was about writing to people? NOPE. This is a f*cking art form!  Pocket letters are where you fill up a nine-pocket trading card protector with cute things, like stickers, tea bags, pictures, or whatever you like and then send them to someone who will send something similar to you. You collect them in a three-ring binder, kind of like scrapbooking for strangers.

It seems kind of cool.  I may have to try it.

I feel like if I go deep enough into this pen palling culture, I'll be ready to write an exposé for Vanity Fair or Teen Vogue.
labingi: (r2dvd)
[personal profile] labingi
I have finally put my old Blake/Avon fic "Mnemonics" on Ao3. It is an AU (i.e. the last episode was different) future fic and has the distinction of being my only B/A slash fic.

Trick or Treat Exchange

Sep. 15th, 2017 08:09 am
lydamorehouse: (Default)
[personal profile] lydamorehouse
I just found out that AO3 has a Trick or Treat Fic Exchange

Every year I participate in one way or another in Yuletide, which is an annual fan fic gift exchange that was, according to Fanlore, started in 2003.  I've only been doing it for, maybe two or three years, being, as always a latecomer to fandom.

I often forget to sign-up on time, so the past couple of years I've enjoyed being what they call a "pinch hitter." Yuletide is very strict about gifts. If you're supposed to be getting one, they do NOT want you to wake up on Christmas morning with an empty in-box.  But, life happens. Sometimes someone who promised a fic literally gets in a car accident or finals week crushes them.  So, there's a hoard of volunteers, myself included, who take up the slack. A gifter is supposed to default by a certain day and the pinch hit lists start showing up in my in-box. But, batches come all the way up to the night before.  It's kind of an amazing process. I also use the pinch hit list to write what are called "treats" where you can just go ahead an write something to someone's request as an extra.  I have done this in the past for very weird fandoms, like the person who really, really wanted a Munchkin Cthulu fic (although that may actually have been assigned).

Point is, I love pinch hitting. I often write fic fast enough that getting an assignment for 2,000+ words the night before is no big deal. 

The Trick or Treat Exchange also looks fun. The requirement is tiny, 300 word minimum?  The other thing that seems to be fun about the Trick or Treat Exchange is that, unlike Yuletide, there is no popularity restriction.  (Yuletide focuses on fandoms that have less than 1000 works of fic posted on Archive of Our Own.)  So, for instance, I saw that Bleach was listed for the Trick or Treat Exchange (thanks to me, Bleach has WAY TOO MANY fics otherwise... and, I'm kidding, of course. It wasn't just me, I'm sure Bleach had over a thousand fics years and years before I joined.).  The point is, for the Trick or Treat Exchange, I could potentially ask for or write a Bleach fic.

So I am tempted. The exchange i currently open and I am considering.  I'll have to read the rules carefully to see if it's something I'm really up for.

I'm pretty sure the fans of my never ending fic soap opera would be furious to find me off writing treats for other people, when they've been so patiently waiting for an update.  

Anyway.

Happy Friday everyone.  

I'm in the QSF Anthology!

Sep. 13th, 2017 03:58 pm
lydamorehouse: (Default)
[personal profile] lydamorehouse
QSF Renewal-Print

QSF has a new book out, the latest in our series of flash fiction anthologies:

Re.new.al (noun)

1) Resuming an activity after an interruption, or
2) Extending a contract, subscription or license, or
3) Replacing or repairing something that is worn out, run-down, or broken, or
4) Rebirth after death.

Four definitions to spark inspiration, a limitless number of stories to be conceived. Only 110 made the cut.

Thrilling to hopeful, Renewal features 300-word speculative fiction ficlets about sexual and gender minorities to entice readers.

Welcome to Renewal.

Mischief Corner Books (info only) | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads





Renewal Banner

Excerpt

Because these stories are only 300 words each, we’re not supplying long excerpts, but here are the first lines of several of the stories. Enjoy!

“Griselda pulled the weeds from between the rows of Valerianella locusta plants in the garden, careful not to disturb the buds that would grow into the babies that were her only real income-producing crop.” —The Witches’ Garden, by Rie Sheridan Rose

“I didn’t know how truly the world was in trouble until I went journeying to look for Anisette’s bluebonnets.” —Bluebonnets, by Emily Horner

“The ship’s drive malfunctioned at the worst possible time.” —The Return, by Andrea Speed

“Before we continue, there’s a rather macabre fact about me I should share.” —Rejuvenation, by Christine Wright

“When I died they buried me at the bottom of the garden and returned to the fields.” —Below the Hill, by Matthew Bright

“The world is ending and I can’t look away from your eyes.” —Sunrise, by Brigitte Winter

““Losing one’s superpowers to your arch nemesis sucks donkey nuts, I tell ya. And trust me when I say I suck a lot of them.” —Rainbow Powers, by Dustin Karpovich

“The day I was born again was damp, rainy—a good day for rebirth, all things considered.” —The Birthing Pod, by Michelle Browne

“Intwir's twelve eyes roved over the container, taking in the cracked outer lock and the elasticated fabric stretched tightly over its exterior.” —In a Bind, by S R Jones

“‘You’ve reached Androgyne HelpLine. Press one to start service. Press two to interrupt or cancel service. Press three—’” —Auto-Renew, by Ginger Streusel

“The doctor tells me that my wife is dying, but I already know.” —I Will Be Your Shelter, by Carey Ford Compton

“‘San Francisco was the first to go dark, followed by Los Angeles.’” —When Light Left, by Lex Chase

“My fingers lingered on the synthetic skin, trailing soft patterns across my work.” —Miss You, by Stephanie Shaffer




Included Authors

'Nathan Burgoine
A.M. Leibowitz
A.M. Soto
Abby Bartle
Aidee Ladnier
Alexis Woods
Andi Deacon
Andrea Felber Seligman
Andrea Speed
Andrea Stanet
Anne McPherson
Bey Deckard
Brigitte Winter
Carey Ford Compton
Carol Holland March
Carrie Pack
Catherine Lundoff
CB Lee
Christine Wright
Colton Aalto
Daniel Mitton
Dustin Blottenberger
Dustin Karpovich
E R Zhang
E.J. Russell
E.W. Murks
Ell Schulman
Ellery Jude
Eloreen Moon
Elsa M León
Emily Horner
Eric Alan Westfall
F.T. Lukens
Fenrir Cerebellion
Foster Bridget Cassidy
Ginger Streusel
Hannah Henry
Irene Preston
J. Alan Veerkamp
J. P. Egry
J. Summerset
J.S. Fields
Jaap Boekestein
Jackie Keswick
Jana Denardo
Jeff Baker
Jenn Burke
Joe Baumann
John Moralee
Jon Keys
Jude Dunn
K.C. Faelan
Kelly Haworth
Kiterie Aine
Kristen Lee
L M Somerton
L. Brian Carroll
L.M. Brown
L.V. Lloyd
Laurie Treacy
Leigh M. Lorien
Lex Chase
Lia Harding
Lin Kelly
Lloyd A. Meeker
Lyda Morehouse
M.D. Grimm
Martha J. Allard
Mary E. Lowd
Matt Doyle
Matthew Bright
Mia Koutras
Michelle Browne
Milo Owen
Mindy Leana Shuman
Naomi Tajedler
Natsuya Uesugi
Nephy Hart
Nicole Dennis
Ofelia Gränd
Patricia Scott
Paul Stevens
PW Covington
R R Angell
R.L. Merrill
Rebecca Cohen
Redfern Jon Barrett
Reni Kieffer
Richard Amos
RL Mosswood
Robyn Walker
Rory Ni Coileain
Rose Blackthorn
Ross Common
S R Jones
Sacchi Green
Sarah Einstein
Shilo Quetchenbach
Siri Paulson
Soren Summers
Stephanie Shaffer
Steve Fuson
Tam Ames
Terry Poole
Tray Ellis
Vivien Dean
Wendy Rathbone
Xenia Melzer
Zen DiPietro
Zev de Valera

Reading Wednesday

Sep. 13th, 2017 08:00 am
lydamorehouse: (Default)
[personal profile] lydamorehouse
 I'm beginning to realize why I previously never participated in these. Okay, the honest truth is that I didn't entirely realize they existed, but, the other part is that, because I hang out with science fiction/fantasy fans who tend to be voracious in their reading habits, I always feel woefully under read.  

Once again, which is, as I have noted in the past, very typical of me, I did read a graphic novel.  I read volume 5 of Ten Count

I have on my TBR pile a couple of manga that I have actually been dreading reading.  My beloved manga Gangsta. had a spin-off called Gangsta.: Cursed.  I read the first few chapters when they appeared online, but I gave up on them because the format they were being pirated in was hard to read and, more importantly, they were so, so violent and bloody.  The mangaka wrote them, but she did not illustrate them.  Since they don't follow a character I much cared for, I let them go. But the library had the complete two volume run, so I thought: "Okay, I should be a completist and finally read these."  

And yet there they sit.

I will probably bite the bullet and read them next however.

Mason also really wants me to read Scarlet, which is the sequel to Cinder, which I listened to the audio book of years ago and liked. He's a big fan of the series, so I agreed to try to pick it up.  That's probably the big book I'll be reading next.  Since I work at the library today, I will probably troll Locus Magazine for more recommendations.

How about you?

Life and Stuff

Sep. 12th, 2017 08:07 am
lydamorehouse: (crazy eyed Renji)
[personal profile] lydamorehouse
 Yesterday was a fun mail day.  

One of the very best parts of being a member of the International Pen Friends (IPF) is that, occasionally, the postal carrier delivers FIVE personal letters, all addressed to you.  Two of them were from my regular Canadian pen friend. She's an actual friend who became a pen pal, and her letters are always a delight. We didn't actually know each other terribly well when we started corresponding, but we knew each other from exchanges in Bleach fandom.  She's a lot like my friend in Seattle, who I knew passably before we started corresponding (she was a writing student of mine) and we've become closer thanks to years of letter writing.  I got my Seattle pen friend by asking Facebook for volunteers. 

Of the other letters that arrived were:

1.  A letter from Malta.  MALTA, you guys.  The other nifty thing about my Maltese correspondent is that she got my name not from IPF, but from one of the various FBs that I've participated in.  I had genuinely never HEARD of Friendship Books until one of my German pen pals, Petra, introduced me to them. I still think they're kind of weird. Just slips of paper or homemade booklets with people's addresses in them and odd codes. Seriously, SNNP (sorry no new pen pals) and NPW (new pen pals wanted) that are passed in the mail a little like a chain letter, without the pressure, because you can always return it to the original sender. 

But, Malta, that's cool. I hope my reply entices another from her.

2. I seem to have finally snagged a correspondent from the UK.  You would not think this would be SO hard.  English/UK addresses easily make up a third of what's on offer for an English-speaker like myself on any given IPF list.  Yet, despite faithfully writing to all of them, I have only ever gotten one previous reply from anyone in England and that was a "rejection." Somehow, I seem to have passed muster with someone there finally. Fingers crossed this winning streak continues. Interestingly, in my grand experiment of "should I come out right away or not?" in the introduction letter I sent this one (Kate) I decidedly did NOT. So, I should probably return to my strategy of, "wait until they know you pretty well before you reveal that you're a big, old butch lesbian." I already took a chance revealing to Kate that I'm an otaku.  Let's see if I can weather that storm!

3. The last one was also a new IPF member, this one from France. I have a couple of other French correspondents, but they seem to have slowed down.  The thing about IPF is that it's like any kind of blind matching site.  Even when you're willing to try anyone, some people click better than others.  This is why I sprang for a half-year renewal because I wanted another list so that I could keep throwing out feelers.  

Anyway, I know all of this stuff is likely only really fascinating to me.  I have always been interested in other people's lives and this is a fun way for me to explore that.  I was writing to my Maltese pen pal last night explaining how I got into pen palling.  I have discovered that many of the people who are in IPF have been members since they were teenagers. It's a hobby that they've kept all their lives, unlike me. I hunted up IPF because I remembered being assigned a pen pal in 4th grade or thereabouts. There was a time in the 1970s when pen palling was kind of the 'it' hobby, particularly among teenage girls. At least, that's how it seemed to me back then, at any rate.  I wasn't into it then, though the idea intrigued me. I was a fairly terrible correspondent, too, when I did have the opportunity, probably because I imagined that somehow I would have an instant foreign friend, with whom I could share the secrets of my soul, etc., etc.  In 1970, I would have killed for a French pen pal. Instead I got someone from Japan. Ironically, I found that annoying at the time. Japan? Who's even heard of it?  Why is this girl sending me all this crap with a weird kitty on it??

Ah, things that are wasted on the young, eh?

I wrote a lot of letters to friends and family when I was in college.  To be fair, that was how we communicated before the internet, but I have always liked the feel of pen on paper.  There is something, too, about sharing your thoughts with just one person at a time.  Obviously, you can still do that with private messaging and e-mail, but a letter is more sensual--in that it appeals to all the senses.  

Plus, shit shows up in the mail.  I love when shit shows up in the mail.  Did I mention I got 5 letters yesterday??? FIVE!

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