MLM No X – Slightly Disturbing

Published December 11, 2017 by Iphis of Scyros

Or maybe more than slightly.  I’m not sure yet.

So, I get home today, get my mail, and start looking through it.

I find a postcard with a passcode on it, addressed to someone I’ve never heard of.  I think, “Oh, they sent me someone else’s mail again.”  (Right before the cold weather hit, I had to walk half a block to deliver someone’s package that got put on my porch by mistake!)

Then I check the address and see that it’s at the right address, just addressed to someone who doesn’t live here.

And the passcode, on looking at it more closely, claims to be a requested one, to grant access to the website of the neighborhood association of my subdivision.

W.

T.

F.

Seriously, what’s going on here?  The name it’s addressed to is a really, really weird one.  Like, I can’t even tell what linguistic tradition it hails from.

I want to say “yeah, it’s just some scam,” but it doesn’t make any sense if it is.  The login the passcode is supposed to grant requires a pre-inputted e-mail address and password, so it’s not like it’s a snail mail phishing scam.  And yet, what else could it be?

(Though the weirdest part, to me, is the fact that next to the passcode is written that it stops working after three days.  Um, yeah, the USPS is not that reliable that you could count on it arriving before it’s useless.  Especially not in December.)

I’m thinking my best bet here is to write “Return to Sender; Wrong Address” on it and drop it in the slot at the post office.

Anyone else have better ideas?

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IWSG – This year’s NaNo

Published December 6, 2017 by Iphis of Scyros

As I said last month, this year’s NaNo project started out as an AU (alternate universe, for those not acquainted with fanfic terms) fanfic of my favorite movie, Velvet Goldmine.  But this wasn’t going to be one of those “serial numbers just barely filed off” projects; I did so little planning before it became an original project that almost nothing about it ever had a connection to the movie.  (The movie’s main three male characters were imported, but none of them have much connection to the originals.  Cal is the most like his inspiration, Curt Wild, but even he has a lot of differences, given his knowledge of steam-powered airship design, affinity with giant birds of prey and his tragic first love, who is the person he loved most in the world, and who was always totally original.  Except that he kind of looks like Ichabod Crane.  (From the Disney animated version.)  I’m not sure why he looks like that.  It just sort of happened.)

So, my reflections on finishing the project:  first and foremost, it’s a mess.  The point of this first book (in a series of eight, as currently planned) was to get them to learn about the MacGuffin (it doesn’t have a name yet) and get their hands on the book of clues as to where to find the pieces of it.  Well, okay, that’s not the whole point, but that’s its role in the bigger story.  So part of the process of finding out about it was to find the journal of the dead fiance of one of the main characters.  He had been researching the MacGuffin (and was killed over it), and had in turn learned a lot of his information from the journal of a man who lived a thousand years earlier.  (Very sturdy paper!)  So I kind of had this huge info dump as one of the characters was reading the dead fiance’s journal.  I mean, I broke it up over a few days, with other things happening in between, but…not good storytelling.  I’m thinking that my first task in a re-write will be to write the entire journal of the man from a thousand years earlier, divide it up into neat little chunks, and stick them at the beginning of each chapter.

But that’s barely scratching the surface of what needs to be done.

Read the rest of this entry →

I’m back

Published December 1, 2017 by Iphis of Scyros

So, NaNo is over.  (I’ll post the details on Wednesday.)

The only thing this bodes for sure is the return of Missing Letter Mondays (hopefully with new content, but I don’t want to make promises) but I would like it if I could somehow get back in the swing of blogging again.  (Though, as I said, I’d rather not make promises than make ’em and break ’em.)

IWSG – NaNo Time Again!

Published November 1, 2017 by Iphis of Scyros

Convenient that the first Wednesday of the month is also the first of the month; I only have to do one post to say I’m gonna be gone for November to do NaNoWriMo again!

As to this month’s question, I’ve almost always finished my NaNo project, during NaNo, but I’ve never published anything.  (Though I went half-way twice.  My first NaNo project (2011) I briefly self-published through LeanPub, but I’ve since taken it down because it was just utter rubbish.  And then last year’s project was fanfic, which I’ve posted on AO3, which is as close to publishing as fanfic gets without having its serial numbers filed off.)  The one NaNo project I never finished was 2015’s.  I didn’t finish it during November (despite hitting 82k) and though I tried to limp along with it in December, I eventually realized that the leads, who originated in the previous year’s NaNo as dead backstory characters, just didn’t fit the novel, as I was setting the interesting displaced in time/sci-fi story aside in order to focus on a rather tepid and unrealistic romance.  Once I came to that realization, I decided the thing to do was to stop, to move the characters to (another) new work that would be focused on their love story and almost nothing else, and to re-write the sci-fi story with new leads who were already a couple.  I was doing pretty well on the almost-nothing-but-the-romance book, until I saw Velvet Goldmine, and descended into the fanfic pit from which I have not emerged until, well, today.  (Because my NaNo project this year is not fanfic.  Even if the story idea originally started out as a steampunk Velvet Goldmine alternate universe fanfic…)

So…yeah.

I’m gonna be gone for NaNo until December.  Like always.

I think I won’t even bother keeping up with the Missing Letter Monday posts.  They’ve been pretty lame lately, anyway.  Better to just set them aside until I have some time to work on them properly.

MLM No “V” – Another Author’s Oracle Tag

Published October 30, 2017 by Iphis of Scyros

So, in trying to decide what to post for my last Missing Letter Monday until December (yeah, it’s going away for NaNo), I looked through to see what I’d done in the past with this letter, and found this post with a series of questions for an author to answer about their current WIP.  And I decided that hey, I could just answer the questions again, only this time for the project I’m going to work on next month.  These questions were initially encountered on Sara Letourneau’s blog, in an open-ended “consider yourself tagged if you’re reading this” kind of thing.  So I guess that means I’m re-self-tagging?

Er….anyway…on to the questions, though (as before) I used some * in the questions when this week’s forbidden letter came up.


The Author’s Oracle Questions

The answers this time are going to be NaNo prep, for next month’s project, which I am planning as the first in a series.  (Who knows what I’ll actually end up writing, but…)  I keep putting off filling out the cool character sheet I found on the NaNo forums, so maybe this will help me with that.  It’s a genre-ignoring project with elements of the fantastic, elements of steampunk, and an LGBT romance.  And giant eagles.  Because all things are better with giant eagles.

0. The Fool: Which of your characters is the most intuiti*e?  The worst decision-maker?

The best decision-maker would be Ouden, the 12 year old girl on the crew of the airship.  She considers herself the one who keeps Cal, the captain, from dying all the time, and she’s pretty much right about that.  As to the worst…hmm.  That’s a tie between Cal and Elliot (the romantic leads), but for different reasons.  Cal is extremely passionate, and short-tempered.  He acts on impulse, but he’s also slow to trust, so he’ll do dumb things because he doesn’t trust someone yet, only then once he does trust them, he’d bend the fabric of reality if he could for someone important to him.  He was hurt horribly not too long before the book starts, so he’s become more slow to trust than before.  Elliot, on the other hand, is the ultimate naïf.  I mean, the guy took a madam’s word for it that she was just sheltering him out of the goodness of her heart, and had no idea she was charging the men who were also just taking shelter in the same room with him and who just happened to want to sleep with him.  (In his defense, he is quite young (about nineteen) and recently ran away from his sheltered home on the family farm.)

I. The Magician: What character, location, or object has the most positi*e influence in your story?

(OMG, I skipped this one last time!)  Probably Cal’s airship, the Audacity.  The cast would be utterly lost without it.  Although Cal wouldn’t be hunted without it, so maybe it’s not all good. Read the rest of this entry →

MLM No “U” – Ack

Published October 23, 2017 by Iphis of Scyros

I need to be reading instead of writing posts — or anything else, for that matter.

I’m reading Xenophon’s “On Tyranny” right now.

Like with everything else, Xenophon spoils the party.

Think ya know how the Ancient Greeks felt regarding same-sex love?  The ideal that was Patroclos and Achilles, all that?

Along comes Xenophon, with his near-homophobic views, insisting that they were only friends, and that proper men never do more than like other men.

Think ya know how the Athenians felt re: Sparta?

Don’t read Xenophon, then. (Spoiler:  he didn’t feel the same way.)

And now he’s got a tyrant — a real, historical tyrant of Syrac– a place I can’t say today — saying how terrible life is for tyrants and generally acting like a Platonic ideal character.

Will ya stop it, Xenophon?!

Please?

Yer totally spoiling my research here.

Honest.

I’m gonna hafta totally retool my whole thesis for the semester if ya keep the same tone for the whole dialog.

Please don’t make me do that, man.

Pretty please?

I’m too far behind on this project as it is.  I can’t stand the idea of having to retool now…


 

And this is why we study History, kids.

Published October 17, 2017 by Iphis of Scyros

This semester, my class is “directed research,” which (as I may have said before) largely means “self-directed research.”  I’m cool with that; if I can’t direct myself at 42, I have problems.  (Okay, admittedly, I do have problems, but they’re not academic in nature.)  The problem with it, of course, is that I’m getting no strong guidance as to how to focus my vague notion of a research topic into a proper thesis.

I started the semester with the plan to study ancient Greek and Roman gender role definitions and attitudes towards transgressions of their societal gender role definitions.  Way too broad, and can only give a literature review, so that was no good.  Narrowed it to just gender role transgressions, with the expectation of comparing Greece and Rome.

Only that’s no good, for several reasons:

  1. Many works of modern scholarship (especially when treating with a field as narrow as gender role transgression) treat the cultures as at least partially interchangeable.
  2. Some of the primary sources treat them as being basically the same culture.
  3. Some late Greek sources were written in the Roman Imperial period, and were partially or entirely tainted by Roman values, leaving it unclear what’s truly Greek and what’s actually Roman.
  4. Aside from a few fine points, on the subject of “proper” roles for men and women, the Greeks and Romans largely agreed.

But one of my modern sources gave me a lot of interesting ideas of different angles from which to approach the problem, and I decided to focus on the connection between (the perception of) tyranny, and gender role transgression, as it was not uncommon for those described as being tyrants to also be described as effeminate, or to be accused of intentionally trying to cross gender boundaries, particularly by cross-dressing.

So I decided that my paper for the semester would ask the question of why the ancient Greeks and Romans connected tyranny and gender role transgression (I really need to come up with a more succinct way to put that) and in general just what it was about men (and women) behaving outside the gender norms that upset and even frightened the ancients so.  And I figured that secondary sources weren’t going to cut it for that research question, and began my dive into primary sources.

But after reading through a few pertinent Plutarch Lives, I felt like I was still approaching it all wrong, and would never get any insight just by reading; I had to start applying the same level of critical thought that I did in reading the modern scholarship.  So I started just turning over the question in my head, thinking about the patterns I had already seen.

The Romans were much more unforgiving of these transgressions, more quick to apply the dreaded ‘effeminate’ label, and as the Empire wore on and it became more common for the Emperors to behave in non-standard ways, they got more upset by it, rather than less.   So something was changing as time went on.  And then it hit me, just like that.

The world was changing.  The narrow old definitions of proper and improper were being left behind.  And, whether consciously or not, some people simply could not handle the fact that times were different for them than they had been for their fathers, grandfathers, great-grandfathers, etc, and they retreated into a knee-jerk conservatism that barked insults at anyone it perceived as not fitting into its perfect world view.

Just like certain people in the modern world.

It’s not (just) that failing to learn from History dooms one to repeat it.  It’s (also) that History teaches us to understand our modern world more fully.

(I realize most people probably already know this.  But it only just crystallized for me, and I felt like posting about it.  And since I’ve been rather quiet of late, I thought it was best not to resist that urge.)

MLM No “T” – Impossible

Published October 16, 2017 by Iphis of Scyros

Impossible

So much in life feels impossible.

Making a difference.

Succeeding w/my novels.

Cleaning my house.

Doing a really good job in my class work.

Learning languages, life lessons, all of ’em.

I should focus on possible goals:

…um…

…like…

…uh…

….inhaling and exhaling.

Yeah….maybe a bad idea.

I should keep dreaming of impossible goals.


 

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