Winter Sunlight


I feel like a late-night infomercial with this, but if you have an older dog who's starting to have hip and joint problems, see what your vet thinks about giving them Adequan injections.

It's a glucosamine-like drug that was developed for racehorses and then approved for dogs. It's not at all cheap, is the problem. You're looking at several hundred $$$ for a few months' supply.

But damn. The effects are amazing. Our dog is 14, and when we first started giving it to him last summer, he was starting to have a lot of trouble with stairs, and fell down a lot, and we were giving him the maximum dose of Rimadyl (doggie painkillers) and he still limped and was starting to have kidney damage from the painkillers besides. I had never heard of Adequan at that point and our vet didn't bring it up on their own, but I asked them if it's possible to give human glucosamine pills to a dog, and they suggested the injections instead.

It took awhile (a month, at least) to really start noticing improvement. But after a few months he was like a whole new dog. He's still clearly old; his hearing and vision are going, and I suspect he might be having some senility issues. But we've cut him back to half the dose of Rimadyl, he hardly limps at all, he doesn't struggle with stairs and loves going for walks with me again. He's not as energetic as he used to be, but he can still zip around when he wants to.

There's an initial series of 7 shots, one every few days, and then a maintenance injection once a month. You can either take them to the vet for the injections or do it yourself at home. We had them teach us how, and it's really easy and doesn't seem to bother the dog much at all.

There are also next to no side effects. It baffles me that they don't have a human version of this, because it's incredibly effective and the worst thing it can do, at least the worst thing I know about, is that it can lower their platelet count so they bleed and bruise more easily. I haven't noticed that with Lucky at all, but apparently stopping the drug is all it takes to resolve it. The internet tells me that it's not uncommon for veterinarians to self-medicate with it if they have arthritis. It just doesn't have FDA approval, and they're also still unsure if it's safe for cats.

But in dogs, it's a freaking miracle drug. At least it's given Lucky probably a good solid extra couple of years of good, active dog life. The vet told me they had another canine patient who was brought in to be euthanized, tried them on Adequan, and they're still around a couple of years later. It not only eases their pain, it literally helps their bodies rebuild damaged cartilage in the joints. I think it's well worth checking out, if you have an old dog with back end problems and can field the cost.

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Winter Sunlight

Read all the Cherryh: Rimrunners

So Cherryh continues to be obviously into the general theme of broken people finding a family and a home. I think Rimrunners might be the first book of hers exploring the theme that didn't quite work for me, because the situation is so profoundly fucked up that by the end I wasn't convinced that things were actually going to be better (much).

This is also an incredibly dark book. Cherryh's books are always somewhat dark, or at least deal with the darker side of human nature (though they're far too optimistic about people to be grimdark, usually) but this one ... I really enjoyed it and it kept me reading all the way through in part because I had no idea what was going to happen next (and Bet is a great protagonist) but good lord it's dark. In the first couple of chapters, the protagonist is homeless and living in a rest room, literally starving to death, and straight-up kills two different guys who try to rape her (one of whom actually does rape her). You'd think there would be nowhere down from there, but then her life gets WORSE. On the other hand, Cherryh has a general tendency to take incredibly fucked-up male characters and pair them with women who totally have their shit together, so it's a refreshing change, in a way, to have a female character who is an absolute mess - paired with a guy who is even more of a mess, but it wouldn't be a Cherryh book without a dude who is ostracized, crazy, and has people trying to kill him. (Also, one of the reasons why I liked Bet is because, despite being a total mess, she is a competent mess -- in general, she's doing the best she can in an incredibly awful situation that she got into through, mostly, no fault of her own.)

Another thing I like about Cherryh is that she tends to write from the principle that there are good and bad people on both sides of every conflict, and this book turns the tables on the rest of Alliance-Union - here we're asked to sympathize with someone on the side that's been, up to this point, set up as the obvious bad guys of the Alliance-Union-Fleet conflict (the space pirates who are going around killing merchanters), while the "good guy" (Alliance) side turn out to have their own share of savage killers and total dicks.

Major book spoilers continue under the cutCollapse )

One other minor thing - it was really fascinating to read another Alliance-Union book written from the viewpoint of a protagonist who uses the same set of slang and a lot of the same verbal quirks as the Hellburner characters do ... which of course is the Fleet/earth-system way of talking. The thing that it took me a few of these books to notice is that, while Cherryh has an incredibly distinctive style, she also modifies her style considerably depending on which culture in Alliance-Union she's writing about. There are parts of Rimrunners in which Bet's narrative voice sounds a lot like Ben in Hellburner -- which makes total sense, they're from basically the same subculture. But the merchanter-focused books don't sound like that.

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Winter Sunlight

FF Friday

Second Chance by HL Logan

This book is charming, sweet, well written, and fundamentally not for me, but it might be someone else's delightful comfort read.

Basically this book had everything I would want in a cute small-town romance except for the one missing element that I'll get to in a minute. Second Chance is about two single moms who went to high school together, a shy nerd and a cheerleader queen bee, who meet when their kids become friends and then kindle a romance. The characters are really charming, the kids are cute and believable as kids, and the writing is both technically skilled and funny. The narrative voice is great and in fact is what kept me reading as far into the book as I did.

What's missing is anything at all happening. There is absolutely no plot or tension whatsoever beyond "the two moms meet and talk and visit each other and fall in love." At least in the first third of the book, which is how far I read before my interest flagged, there is no tension, no mystery, no other characters aside from the kids (who are only seen interacting cutely with their moms), no backstory aside from occasional mentions of going to high school together, and generally a complete and total lack of ANYTHING AT ALL beyond repeated scenes of the two women going over to each other's houses and flirting cutely and charmingly with each other. Even their jobs are not interesting and are merely name-checked (one is an IT professional and the other is a fashion journalist). Nothing goes wrong, no one gets upset, and no complications ever intrude.

This is what I mean when I say that this could be someone else's delightful comfort read. There is nothing wrong with this book. It's very well written and sweet, and the narrative voice is great. I don't expect a romance to have a great deal to do with anything outside the romance. However, I'm not sure if I've ever read a romance that had this level of plot vacuum. It started getting to the point where I was turning pages wishing desperately for anything to happen other than repeated scenes of house-visiting and lightly charming flirting. A car crash! A secret from someone's past! Someone's mom showing up for an unexpected visit! A problem at work! A problem with the plumbing! A burnt pot roast!

... which means I am obviously not the audience for this book. However, if you would like to spend a pleasant couple of hours in a charming medium-sized town enjoying a low-drama romance between two likable characters who like each other, this is just the thing. It looks like that's basically the formula for most of this author's other books as well, and the quality of the writing is great (charming, funny, with good descriptions and a nicely developed sense of setting) so I can see why she's doing well -- this was #1 in lesbian romance on Amazon back when I went through and bought a bunch of books in early May. If you enjoy this book, there is lots more to enjoy.

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Winter Sunlight

(no subject)

Thank you again to everyone who weighed in on the title polls! At this point I'm almost certainly going with Rogue Myths (though I'm also kicking around Wayward Myths and Runaway Myths).

Meanwhile, I have now got a mailing list for my realname books:

I also created a Facebook group for discussion of my books; I haven't really done much of anything with it yet, but feel free to join:

I've got a "how did you find out about this group" question when you send a membership request. This is at least partly so I can figure out where I know people from, since I won't necessarily be able to associate your FB name with your DW name.

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Winter Sunlight

Runoff poll

Okay, at this point [personal profile] xparrot suggested a brilliant alternative to one of the titles I liked that wasn't quite there yet, and my other two favorites are heavily leading the poll, so it's time for a runoff poll!

Click the cut to see what the titles look like on the actual book.

Cut to spare your eyeballsCollapse )

(For comparison, the next two books are titled Echo City and Hollow Souls.)

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Winter Sunlight

While I'm at it ...

Social media brainstorming. Feel free to skip. That being said, input is welcome and useful. <3

By August, I'll have four active or semi-active pen names. I'm resuming writing things under my real name with GATEKEEPER or whatever it's going to be called (heh, I love that despite my attempts to mix them up so as not to bias people, 2 of the 3 options currently winning the poll are my personal top contenders, and the 3rd was a last-minute addition that *I* like but don't think is as commercial as the others). I'm writing paranormal romance as Lauren Esker, ultra-commercial PNR through the shared Zoe Chant pen name, and I'm also working on something for my new F/F Mar Delaney pen name.

I still need to create a mailing list for myself and some sort of Facebook social presence. I already have a page for my Icefall Studio business (the art business, currently not really a priority, but that's like craft stuff and art and such). I'm thinking about just using that for the books too. It's not super active on FB and doesn't have very many followers because I never did much with it, but I could start livening it up with some activity and book promo posts and whatnot.

But I also really want to get into doing Facebook groups for my books, because I've seen through the Zoe Chant group that people are (or can be) really active in those, and FB is currently downplaying pages and promoting groups. You really need a page too - especially for doing any advertising - but having most of the FB discussion in a group makes the most sense.

If I'm doing my realname writing under Icefall Studio on FB, I'm thinking maybe I should create an Icefall Studio group as well? It'll be for all of my art and comics and non-pseudonymous writing. So it won't just be books. You'd get discussion about the comics pages and photos of my art and that kind of thing.

I'm not sure if it'd be better for "branding" if I have a group that's exclusively for my books, but I think I'm a lot more likely to be active in it if it's for all of my different creative stuff and maybe a little about my life too. I'll probably also create a group just for Lauren's books and generally talking about romance stuff, because that's separate enough from the Layla stuff that it probably works well for dividing it up by interest, as it were. Whereas I think that people who read my webcomic would probably be interested in my realname books and vice versa. (I know there's also quite a bit of overlap with the romance, among people who know me, but as far as general audience goes, I don't think most of Lauren's audience are going to be an audience for the new series, or vice versa.)

So now I need to figure out what to call the group. Icefall Studio Chat? Something more esoteric like Fireside North? (like gathering in a group to talk by the fireplace, y'know ...) Should it have my name in it?

This definitely wouldn't replace talking about things here or anything. It's just an auxiliary, yet another place where people gather to talk about things that I probably won't be able to find time for.

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Winter Sunlight

One more round of cover questions

Haha, after spending hours last night brainstorming alternate titles, I went to bed thinking that I was just going to revert back to using GATEKEEPER ... and woke up to find that everyone agrees with me that it wouldn't work! Which, I think you're right. So. Once more, from the top ...

Here are 8 different possible titles (including the two I've already tested out on you). Rather than uploading individual covers, I just made a block of 'em. A couple are ones that I'm not super happy with myself (as much as I love the title "Feral Myths" in isolation, I really dislike the - ahem - unfortunate implications of pairing it with a POC cover model). However, I would really be interested to know which of these, if any, you like!

Expand the cut to see the coversCollapse )

Which titles do you like?

The names of the next two books in the series are Echo City and Hollow Souls. Ideally, I'd like something that works well with those. It doesn't necessarily have to be two words, but it would be nice if it conveyed a similar kind of ... idk, magic and urban fantasy, but maybe a little bit unusual or quirky.

The books deal with characters who are basically magical exterminators, though they're not necessarily the good guys, at least not in all cases. Rough draft of the cover blurb under the cut:

Cover blurbCollapse )

It's not that I'm necessarily going to use the winner of the poll, I just could really use some title product testing. Thank you for the comments you've already given - they're super helpful! <3

(Why didn't I do this a month ago, is what I'd like to know ...)

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Winter Sunlight

Fandom stuff

The Not Prime Time fics are revealed (still anonymous) and I got this absolutely lovely gift:

take a step that is new (Steve & Nancy & Jonathan, 1100 words, post-2x09)
A hospital waiting room isn't the best place to deal with emotional fallout, but you don't always get to choose your moment.

It's warm and wonderful and fun and very them. I loved it. ♥ Also, I have a fic somewhere in there.

[community profile] auexchange is still taking signups 'til Sunday. I keep adding things to my requests and offers as I spot new things in the tagset that look like fun. (I just added bookshop/library AU to my Punisher requests, for example, because who doesn't want Frank Castle: Librarian.)

And [community profile] bookfandomexchange is a new exchange that looks fun, currently taking tag nominations and also inviting people to promote their rare book fandoms.

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Winter Sunlight

*quiet screaming*

Why is it that I have months to work on this stuff and then I do everything at the last minute?

Case in point: retitling a book 2 weeks before I'm releasing it.

I'm finally going to get my urban fantasy novel GATEKEEPER self-pubbed; I want to release it on the 26th, my birthday, because I kinda have a habit of launching new creative ventures on my birthday. (I debuted my Lauren Esker pen name on my birthday too.) So I'm working on final edits on that, but I'm seriously thinking about retitling it, even though it's had the same title since I started writing it in 2009. My thought process went like this:

- Gatekeeper is also the name of the series, I can't come up with something that works better, and I don't like the way it looks having the title and series name the same on the first book.
- GATEKEEPER, as a title, is really too long to fit comfortably on a book.
- All the other books in the series have titles of at least two words and they all look better, especially in the curly font I'm using. The titles of the other books are bigger and easier to see.
- Gatekeeper, as a title, doesn't even fit the first book that well.

So I've been frantically brainstorming titles, things to do with swords, iron, shadows, magic ... and I've kind of settled on this?

woman with sword

Pros: I really love how it looks on the cover!

Cons: ... I don't know if I can start thinking of the book as IRON IN THE BLOOD after nine years of calling it something else. >_> I'm also not sure if the title implies that the series has way more to do with fae/fairies than it actually does. That definitely is a thing in the book, and it's a thing to do with the book's main Maguffin, which is a magic Celtic sword. But the book is not all fairies all the time.

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Winter Sunlight

I'm rereading the Death Gate Cycle

I started reading Dragon Wing (the first book of the Death Gate Cycle) yesterday because I adore that series, but I don't think I've done a complete reread for 10 or 15 years, and also because I wanted something to read that wasn't going to completely seize hold of my brain for a damn change (... this may in retrospect have been a bad idea). I was braced for the suck fairy, but actually I'm vastly relieved to discover that I still really love it. I mean, it's very early-90s-fantasy, but allowing for that, it's still a lot of fun and I want to drag more people into reading it so I have more people to talk to about it!

Death Gate Cycle, by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, is a 7-volume high fantasy series from the early 90s. I don't want to oversell it, because it IS kind of a mess in places. And very 90s. But it's also got some really fun worldbuilding (it takes place across six different worlds - four of which are based on elements, e.g. "air" is a world of floating islands and flying magical ships), characters I still really love a lot, and A+ hurt/comfort. Parts of this series are such a total idfest for me that I've more or less got them memorized.

I didn't intend to read the entire first book this weekend, but it just kinda happened. I think I'm really going to enjoy this, again.

Unfortunately I can't really think of any way to talk about the first book without spoiling the whole series, so if you're one of the people I'm trying to talk into reading it ... I'm sorry? >__> I do think this series is better read unspoiled for the character stuff, because some of it is especially neat if you don't know it's coming - at least if you're a spoiler-avoidant person. But really, everything I want to say about the first book spoils the whole series. So, uh, yeah. FUTURE BOOK SPOILERS AHEAD! Probably don't read if you're currently reading the series/planning on reading it in the near future!

(Also, if you might be thinking about reading it and want to ask me questions about it to find out whether it's your cup of tea, go right ahead! I should do a proper rec post for this series, but it's actually kind of difficult to do that at the moment because I really don't remember it very well.)

Spoilers for future booksCollapse )

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Winter Sunlight

Some places you can donate to help immigrants and refugees in the US

Today in the US is the Families Belong Together rallies nationwide. I decided to donate to some places that help refugees or immigrants. If you too would like some places to help with dollars, volunteering, etc, or signal-boost for others, here are the ones I gave to (obviously not a comprehensive list, just the ones that looked useful and reputable to me after some searching).

Northwest Immigrant Rights Project - Seattle-area nonprofit that provides legal assistance, education, and outreach.
Alaska Institute for Justice (formerly Alaska Immigrant Justice Project, renamed after they expanded their mandate to include Alaska Native communities as well) - provides legal assistance, translation services, assistance to human trafficking victims, and other services.
Fundraiser for Yeni Gonzales on Gofundme, one of the individual moms whose children were taken away from her and placed with a foster family in New York while she is held in Arizona. A group of NYC locals got together and started a fundraiser to bail her out and get her reunited with her children. Details at the link.

Other links to check out:
National Immigration Legal Services Network to find similar orgs in your area.
Pen pal program to connect volunteers with adults in immigrant detention centers that they can write to.
ACLU (which I already have an ongoing monthly donation to)

Added from comments:
Another fundraiser for an individual (Sonia Felix Castanon)

If you have more links, please provide them in the comments!

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Winter Sunlight

FF Friday - By Any Other Name by Natasha West

By Any Other Name by Natasha West

This is a lesbian Romeo & Juliet riff, it's funny and adorkable, and I loved it. :D

It has some grammar issues, especially in the early chapters, but I don't really mind them - it's the same as the way you can enjoy a fanfic that's full of sincere feelings but maybe not quite as polished as it could be. That is EXACTLY what this book feels like. It's funny, sincere, and full of vivid characters, and it feels very much as if it's written from the heart, poured out onto the page in the way of a fanfic that the author was really enjoying writing. It's light, breezy, and above all, fun. I loved spending time with these characters and would happily read other books involving other family members.

The protagonists, Casey and Lane, are two girls from feuding families in a small British town who meet without knowing the other's identity and then discover that their families are longtime enemies. The romance is sweet and convincing, with some hilarious yet plausible mishaps (in one of my favorite bits, while trying to wake Casey by throwing pebbles at her window, Lane first wakes up Casey's pesky younger sister and then, when Casey opens her window at exactly the wrong moment, pastes her in the face with a rock instead). Also, there are matchmaking sheep.

And the family feud is fantastic - it's hilarious and frustrating in equal measure, and the entire cast of both families are convincing as a bunch of hardheaded weirdos who have hated each other for as long as anyone can remember without any of them actually being bad or unlikable people.

I had a certain suspension-of-disbelief issue with the two protagonists not recognizing each other on sight, given how intimately their families appear to be tangled together, but I'm willing to forgive that because the rest of the book is just so much fun. I'll definitely be looking up other books by this author, because well-done lesbian romcom is not exactly a genre flowing over with options, and this was really delightful.

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Winter Sunlight

(no subject)

Good post about self-publishing at [personal profile] rachelmanija's journal (dropping this link on my way out the door; we're off for four days in the wilds of Canada). I added some details in the comments about my own self-pub experience. It's hard to find solid numbers because people in self-publishing really don't like talking about how much they're making or not making, which is fair, but it also means there's a lot of misinformation and misconceptions around.

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