Winter Sunlight

Exchanges! (by me)

Thing 1: [community profile] ssrconfidential is back for Year 5! I've created the 2020 AO3 collection and updated the sticky post with this year's info. Schedule is the same as last year (signups in late March, assignments due in June). There are a couple of small rules changes this year, the most important of which is that I plan to experiment with keeping the tag nominations open through the signup period so people can make last-minute additions. Lowering the minimum word count to 500 last year seemed to work out well, so we'll keep that. If you'd like to weigh in on these or any other rules, you can comment at the announcement post (or comment here).

I can't believe I've been running this thing for five years.

Thing 2: I finally got my ducks in a row on a Defenders exchange! Defenders Relationship Exchange is a GO. It will be open to relationships of any kind (gen or ship) and also includes a workaround if you just want to request a character. It's for all six of the Netflix Marvel shows (including Punisher).

I don't have the AO3 collection or a nice link graphic yet, but it will use the same basic rules as SSR Confidential - fic, art, or vids; 500-word minimum on fic. Timeline: signups in late February (after Chocolate Box); assignments due in mid-May.

DW comm: [community profile] defenderships
Tumblr: [tumblr.com profile] defenderships

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Winter Sunlight

Reccing Thursday

I have some things to rec this week! A very mixed assortment, too.

Kinbaku by [personal profile] edenfalling (Daredevil, Elektra, AU, 750 wds)
I really enjoyed this look at an alternate Elektra who took Matt's path rather than Stick's.

Play To Your Strengths (Dark Matter, Three & Five, 1900 wds)
Cute surrogate-sibling-bonding post-ep for 1x11.

Also, I really enjoyed this article from Wired: The Mandalorian Is the Only Smart Soldier in the Star Wars Galaxy. (Written by someone with a grounding in military tactics - apparently the military strategy and tactics in the show is really good, an extreme rarity in Star Wars! Contains spoilers for the whole show.)

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Winter Sunlight

DNF because DNW

Continuing to try to write more about books ...

Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor is a cute, funny book about zany time-traveling historians, with an engaging heroine and ensemble cast and clever, fun narrative voice ... that I DNF'd halfway through last night because of a rape attempt on the heroine by a trusted male friend in a particularly squicky scenario. (Followed by even more squick. See below cut.)

In general, I'm not actually that offput by rape as a narrative or backstory device. I mean, it's not my favorite thing, I am totally fine if it's left off the table as an option even in circumstances when it would be likely, but like character death, it's something that (narratively speaking) works for me in some instances and I'm willing to read past in others. It's rarely an automatic DNF. But I guess it does depend on how it goes down, and I think in this case I ran headlong into a wall of NOPE because I really wasn't expecting it, and because the way it went down was both too real-worldish for a light, fun novel about time-traveling historians, and, well, intensely squicky.

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If this doesn't sound like that big of a turnoff, I really do recommend the book other than that - I mean, as of about 40% into it. The narrative voice is great, the heroine is great, and the premise is fun. Just ... I DNF'd hard at that point and don't really see myself going back to it.

ETA: About that qualified recommendation ... apparently the book just keeps getting worse. See a spoilery rundown of all the reasons why at [personal profile] musesfool's blog.

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Winter Sunlight

The Mandalorian

I never managed to make a proper post about this show, but I'm finding that this is one of those shows that I like more and more as it settles more deeply into my head. It may not have ended up being something I want to write a lot of fanfic about, but I truly enjoyed this show and I enjoy having it as part of my mental landscape.

Yes, my Star Wars tag continues to be inaccurate.

Fic rec:
Pressure Valve by [archiveofourown.org profile] seascribe. 4300 words, mature-rated, Mando/Cara fuckbuddies/friendship fic with sex and feels. This fic is a delicious combination of blowing-off-steam sex and gradual emotional intimacy and conflicting social norms; it is nothing like a typical romance arc and is very them.

A not-at-all comprehensive and fairly spoilery list of things I liked about this show:

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I am there for season two and I hope it doesn't break my heart. ♥

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Books

The Eighth Sister by Robert Dugoni

So, moving on to Kindle Unlimited books I actually enjoyed ... I finished reading this one tonight - The Eighth Sister by Robert Dugoni. It's a fairly straightforward Cold War spy plot (someone is killing undercover agents; the hero needs to find out whodunnit without giving himself away) transplanted to the modern era.

Despite really enjoying some of the tropes, I don't read that widely in spy fiction; it's the sort of thing (much like steampunk and Westerns) where I like some of the trappings and tropes a great deal, but often find the actual execution offputting. However, I found the first chapter enough of a hook to keep going, and ended up enjoying the book a lot, for the most part (see caveat below). The main character is a likable guy, a retired CIA agent with a wife and family who gets reactivated for one last mission, and the book never slipped over into the rah-rah patriotism that is one reason why I don't tend to read a lot of this kind of book; in fact, it's much more Le Carré-ish in the sense that our government and their government are both pretty terrible, and the agents on the ground have more in common with each other than with the guys giving them their marching orders.

My one big caveat is that the pacing is just weird. The author is very good at writing tense, engrossing, detail-rich action scenes, but a little too committed (for my tastes, anyway) to the kind of realism that results in these tense, exciting action scenes coming to an anticlimactic end and then being followed by several chapters of the characters dealing with the realistic-but-dull political fallout.

My favorite part of the book by far was the middle third, which is a tense cat-and-mouse chase between the hero (assisted by a Russian double agent), and a pursuing Russian agent who is clever and resourceful and not really a bad guy. This unfortunately peters out with no particular sense of climax and is followed by an endless court case that utterly failed to engage me. Also, none of the book's questions are really answered; the plot pingpongs around between different setpieces which feel like they belong to several different books.

However, the next book in the series (not out yet) looks -- from the description, at least -- like it's going to focus on the aspects I loved best about this book, this time with this book's hero and the Russian agent from the previous book teaming up, and also might feature the return of a supposedly-dead supporting character from this book who I really liked and didn't want to lose. I plan to check it out, and wish it was out so I could read it now, because now I have a yearning for more like this.

Along those lines ... does anyone have recommendations for good spy thrillers? It's okay if it's dark and violent and ends badly; in this genre, I'm fine with that, as long as the journey is compelling enough to make it worth it. Authors/series I've read and enjoyed in the past: Le Carré, Charles McCarry, the Mrs. Pollifax books (which are really more spy cozies, but do have some of the tropes), and, believe it or not, the James Bond books, which have not aged well IN THE SLIGHTEST, but I read all of them in college and actually still have a few (and an enduring fondness for Felix Lieter, James Bond's lighter and friendlier American counterpart). Movie recommendations are welcome too.

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Winter Sunlight

Kindle Unlimited adventures

I told [personal profile] rachelmanija I'd start writing more about books, soooo ...

I signed up for a Kindle Unlimited subscription last year. They give you 3 months free, which is diabolically clever; I doubt if a week would have done it, but after months of being able to click on the little "borrow for free!" icon and have a shiny new book on my Kindle, I think I'm going to keep the paid version for at least a couple of months. I also have to give them credit for being surprisingly non-evil with the free subscription. There is a very large button right on the KU homepage showing you when your free subscription converts to a paid one and giving you the option to unsubscribe.

I've found that, as well as inundating me with new reading material, the most useful thing about it is that it has been very helpful for studying a new genre by reading widely in it. Back in 2015, I did this with paranormal shifter romance when I first started writing Zoe, but I had to do it the hard way by downloading a bunch of free books as well as cherry-picking the 99-cent bestsellers. The KU subscription is great for this because I can just click on almost any book that looks interesting or useful, and have it show up for free on my Kindle. In fact, this is why I looked into the subscription originally, because I wanted to get an overview of mystery and thriller in the same way as I originally did PNR (I'd like to try out writing that for a moneymaking venture in a similar way to how I've been doing romance). So I've been enjoying that, as well as exploring a few interesting-looking romance subgenres.

To be fair, I've downloaded and started WAY more books than I've actually finished. Honestly, though, just being able to read the first few chapters of a ton of different books in a particular category is its own kind of useful. (I have, in fact, done this both at the library and in my own book collection in the past, especially while studying opening scenes, so this is a convenient way to achieve the same result.)

Reading a ton of selfpub, particularly in some of the more niche genres, is also an exciting adventure in "what you see is not necessarily what you get." I'm starting to get used to books with fairly genre-standard covers that turn out to be something totally different. Here's an example: Ghosts of Gotham, which has a nice cover and a hook-y opening with a reporter hero who makes a living out of debunking supernatural scams. I expected that there probably would be supernatural shenanigans (ghosts maybe?), but I was still completely unprepared for ANCIENT BABYLONIAN ZOMBIE DEATH CULT, demons, Near Eastern gods, an entire office tower full of people in New York City dropping dead and no one seeming to care, and a love interest who appears to be some sort of immortal goddess/sorceress who bleeds out her eyes when she does magic. This book is bonkers but not really in a good way, or at least not in a to-my-tastes kind of way, and I noped out about halfway through.

And then there's the general issue of "suddenly Jesus," wherein a book that does not appear to be set up that way from the first few chapters turns out to be inspirational fiction, which is frequently (for some reason) either not even hinted at in the blurbs, or couched in dog whistle euphemisms like finding meaning in life, which I am completely into as a trope, but not, generally, like this. (I mean, I'm fine with the characters in a book I'm reading being personally invested in Jesus as an aspect of their character, but there's a big difference between that and "Jesus is actively manipulating the ending of this book," I'm just saying.)

I also made the mistake of reading Dean Koontz again. He has a bestselling series of Kindle shorts (the Nameless series) and I also read them, or at least skimmed them. I generally find his endings disappointing (to the point that, for awhile, my husband and I used to jokingly use Koontz as a verb, as in, to Koontz an ending is to really fail to stick the landing), but even going in with low expectations I was still unprepared for how utterly and infuriatingly the ending of that series would fail to achieve ANY part of what I want from an ending, not in a "suddenly Jesus" way but rather in a "Fuck you, Koontz, that's the WORST payoff for all the hints about the core mystery of these books that you could possibly have come up with short of just not giving us any answers at all" kind of way.

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Winter Sunlight

Iron Fist ficlet collection updated

The Rand Dossiers (25215 words) by Sholio
Chapters: 31/?
Fandom: Iron Fist (TV), The Defenders (Marvel TV)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Ward Meachum & Danny Rand, Danny Rand/Colleen Wing
Characters: Danny Rand, Ward Meachum, Colleen Wing, Misty Knight
Additional Tags: Tumblr Prompt, Prompt Fic, Prompt Fill, Comment Fic, misc other pairings in some prompts, also the Defenders show up occasionally
Summary: Short promptfic and commentfic from Tumblr and elsewhere, collected here to have them all in one place, about the Iron Fist and Defenders characters. Updated Jan. 17, 2020 with Ch. 13-31.

I got the Iron Fist ficlet collection updated tonight, with assorted prompt fills from Tumblr and various commentfic fests over the last year. It should be up to date with everything not posted as an individual story to AO3. New chapters since the last update begin on Chapter 13.

I have to say that my favorite of all of these, at least while reposting, was this one in which Danny accidentally turns himself invisible, which I now want to write an entire fic about.

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Winter Sunlight

Wordpress, why are you like this

The hurt/comfort discussion is still cranking along! Feel free to join in!

I've spent the last couple of days updating my websites, trying to get my realname author-name mailing list updated/fully set up, and so forth - all those nitpicky bookkeeping details that go along with being an author and running a small business. Wordpress's new block editor is definitely ... a thing that exists. I think I'm figuring it out, and in fact I like some things about it now (it basically amounts to a slightly clunky WYSIWYG website builder) but I remain massively annoyed that it turns EVERY PARAGRAPH into a separate text block. At least I've figured out how to mass-delete them rather than having to delete one paragraph at a time whenever I need to wipe out a bunch of text.

.... It also turns out that the desktop install is, for a change, less buggy and slow than the Wordpress.com version. I have websites hosted both ways - Laurenesker.com (as well as a couple other sites I have, like the mostly-unused Mar Delaney one) is hosted on wordpress.com, but my realname website has a custom Wordpress install on server space I pay for. So I can compare. For a long time I've generally preferred the WP.com version, which is why I kept using it rather than doing multiple sites on the space I already pay for - it has more themes and better options, and was easier to keep updated (the auto-updates on the custom install kept either breaking things or not installing). But they seem to have FINALLY made the desktop version nice and not as much of a pain to use. Which, since I plan to start using my website and blog more, is a good thing.

/teal deer galloping over the horizon

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Winter Sunlight

(no subject)

Somehow it delights me to find out that S.E. Hinton (of The Outsiders) writes Outsiders fanfic (under a pen name), and also wrote to her favorite Outsiders fanfic author to tell them that she liked their work. ("It took her a while to believe that it was really me." I'll bet.) So in case you're in that fandom, the author is probably reading your fic, and some of the fic you're reading might be by her, too.

I finished a writing project today (a side story planned to be a mailing list extra ... though I might end up incorporating it in the main book; I'm not sure now) and I'm feeling somewhat at loose ends, so - you know what I love talking about and haven't talked about lately? Hurt/comfort. :D

If h/c is not your thing, no worries. If it is your thing ... or if aspects of it are ...

What are your favorite things in hurt/comfort? And is there a type of hurt/comfort you love that nobody ever seems to write?

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