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Eyes, Blood, and Ashes - Complete Fanfic [Mar. 14th, 2018|06:40 am]
...and the stains drip between fingers...
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I've finished posting a long fanfic, complete at 49,000 words. It's a ghost hunting alternate universe written for Heathers (1988).

Eyes, Blood, and Ashes
by Blueinkedfrost

Veronica Sawyer can see ghosts but cannot fight them. Jason Dean has hunted the ghosts he cannot see since he was a child. When they meet at Westerburg High and dead bodies start piling up around them, they need to rely on each other’s abilities to fight a particularly ambitious and deadly ghost who’s out for their blood.


I'm still proud of how passively and innocently I phrased 'dead bodies start piling up around them', as if these dead bodies are just randomly turning up with no agency from the protagonists whatsoever. For these two characters, homicide is their idea of a fun Friday date night. They're like the Murder Twins, only they're not twins.
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THE DUKE'S CHILDREN by Anthony Trollope [Mar. 9th, 2018|11:28 pm]
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Trollope kills off one of his most beloved characters ever in the first sentence. Dreamwidth cut follows.

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Yuletide Fics [Jan. 8th, 2018|06:43 am]
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These three amazing stories were written for me at Yuletide.

Be as blest as thou can bear
by harborshore (Mansfield Park)

Five times Fanny Price said no.

This fic combines Fanny Price with magic - magic that's utterly Fanny's, gentle and quiet and under-the-surface magic that's incredibly powerful when it's needed. Fanny Price shows secret heroism in the magical world. It's a beautifully written story.

The Sky Through The Secret Door by Estirose (Defender's Quest)

Everybody is in danger because of Bakal's mistake, but his heart feels heaviest when he looks at Azra Livbar.

Defender's Quest is a fabulous browser game - it's tower defence crossed with RPG and it's got a fun storyline starring a librarian.

This story takes on one of the best characters in the game (although I kind of think they're all the best) - Bakal, the old monk seeking redemption for unintentionally helping to cause the current apocalypse while he sought to win a war. Once royalty, now a humble monk researching the past and striving to make things right again while struggling with his own death wish, he mentors protagonist Azra on her journey. This fic captures Bakal and his meditations so very on-point. It's the first fic for this fandom and it's such a good one!

Unto the Restless by FireEye (Baldur's Gate)

Irenicus is dead but his evil lives on.

This is a gorgeous dark story with a great premise. The ongoing effects of Irenicus' torture on the Bhaalspawn were chilling and beautifully written here.
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Yuletide Ficcing [Jan. 8th, 2018|06:29 am]
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This year for Yuletide, I wrote four stories.

When Minsc fears that his beloved miniature giant space hamster Boo has been stolen, he instead discovers Boo’s true destiny. With their witch Aerie, as well as their friends Jan Jansen the illusionist and Tiax the insane Cyricist, Minsc and Boo must save a galaxy in another time and space from evil space medusae!

I had a good deal of fun writing this, as is hopefully apparent in the summary.

Fortune and Folk Tales for Liethe (Baldur's Gate)

Tiny Minsc tells a story in return for a hamster, and a gnome fortune teller reads both his and Dynaheir’s palms.

This one told stories within stories; I read a lot of Russian folk tales to research for it.

So far, I've received one review complaining about: my use of the terminology 'sound of limb'; existence of glass mountains in fairy tale without due attention paid to process of erosion; over reliance on golden apples; existence of lady blacksmith and giant magical boarhound who both possess impressive trapeze-related abilities; and unrealistic economic exchange of olives for highly crafted magical net. Therefore, all these warnings apply. :)

Smile, Sunflower for Anthusiasm (Heathers: The Musical - Murphy & O'Keefe; Heathers (1988))

When Heather McNamara leaves boarding school and starts at Westerburg Elementary, she meets Heather Chandler.

Heathers musical backstory. Cute little kids who turn out to be somewhat sinister social engineering geniuses.

A Thousand Kisses for [personal profile] damzel (The Doctor's Wife - Mary Elizabeth Braddon)

Lady Gwendoline Pomphrey takes it upon herself to educate the widow Isabel Gilbert in Latin poetry. Femslash ensues. (Explicit, no plot)

As part of my research for this story, I purchased The Collector’s Edition of Victorian Lesbian Erotica by Major LaCaritilie on Kindle and did various trawlings through Project Gutenberg to read sexy Victorian writing. I love how Kindle enables one to be discreet.

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Fanfic writing - With Trains of Fire and Dews of Blood [Nov. 1st, 2017|11:13 pm]
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I wrote some fanfic.

With Trains of Fire and Dews of Blood by Blueinkedfrost

Carrie White is regularly attacked and tormented by her cruel classmates. Fortunately, Carrie at last finds a friend at school who wants to help her fight her bullies and sees her special powers as unique and wonderful. Unfortunately, his name is Jason Dean.


It’s a Heathers (1989) crossover with Stephen King’s Carrie. Two misfit teenagers manage to bond, but the results aren’t pretty. One shot, complete.
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THE PRIME MINISTER by Anthony Trollope [Oct. 25th, 2017|06:46 am]
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Plantagenet Palliser becomes Prime Minister, Lady Glencora has ambitions, and an English woman, Emily Wharton, marries a half-foreign businessman, Ferdinand Lopez, against her family's wishes.

In the business plot of the book, Trollope returns to familiar territory from THE WAY WE LIVE NOW - inveighing against financial con artists and conscienceless scammers. The message hasn't lost a contemporary sting.

In the political half of the book, Lady Glencora intends to rise so high as to put the Queen down - not in the treasonous sense, but in the social sense, and make Buckingham Palace parties second-rate. Her ambition is exuberant but doesn't quite match her abilities or her husband's tastes. Palliser becomes Prime Minster, only it's at the head of a narrowly raised coalition with little power to achieve anything, and he has to ignore some of his scruples if he wants to succeed. Glencora and Plantagenet Palliser both get exactly what they thought they wanted, and discover it to be flawed. Their characterisation continues to develop.

"I sometimes think, Plantagenet, that I should have been the man, my skin is so thick; and that you should have been the woman, yours is so tender."

Ferdinand Lopez' narrative barely intersects with the Pallisers. Lopez makes an ill-starred run at Parliament thanks to some impetuous promises from Glencora, and shames the Pallisers and himself as a result. Lopez is a suspicious, non-English character, and eventually proves the English right about his untrustworthy nature.

I think Trollope manages to navigate Ferdinand Lopez' narrative. The English Whartons and Fletchers are bigoted against Lopez because he is Portugese and possibly Jewish; Lopez is a bad man; but he is not bad because his father was Portugese and possibly Jewish. The narrative recounts the English prejudices with irony, although the Lopez plot doesn't serve as a shining denunciation of bigotry. Mrs Marie Finn, formerly Madame Max Goesler, cameos in this novel; she is also Jewish or ambiguously Jewish, and much beloved by the author and other characters.

Was the man necessarily unworthy because his name was Lopez, and because he had not come of English blood?

I think the novel answers this question 'no'.

The novel asks another central question: should a parent choose a lover for their children, and to what extent are the children to blame if they make a bad choice? According to Emily Lopez, her bad fate is her fault that she married without her father's approval (but with his consent).

But Mrs. Lopez never for a moment forgot that she had done the mischief,—and that the black enduring cloud had been created solely by her own perversity and self-will. Though she would still defend her late husband if any attack were made upon his memory, not the less did she feel that hers had been the fault, though the punishment had come upon them all.

Trollope has examples of wrongfully stern parents in his other works; his books do not preach that it's always right to conform to your father. Mr Wharton isn't even a particularly sagacious judge of character. Good judgement is not linked to gender either. Mrs Sexty Parker, the only character who sees Lopez' actual flaw (being a con artist), is a woman, a lower-class woman no less. This novel is probably the other half to Trollope's marriage equation: both love and financial stability are preconditions to a good marriage, and Emily as well as everyone around her failed to make inquiries as to the latter.

In this novel, parental control about marriage is no longer a social norm; parents can't force their children to marry or not marry, and this is basically a good thing; and yet sometimes the children make poor choices. The conclusion I'm drawing from this novel is 'abolish patriarchy'. Emily, ignorant of finance, couldn't grasp that Lopez was a con artist (no one else did either, except Mrs Sexty Parker, and no one listened to her), and because Emily is a woman there was no recourse when her husband turned out bad. The grim realism of this story shows some of the social ills.

One of the things I love about Trollope is that his attention to detail can't help showing the issues of his day, even when the official narrative solution to them is very different to the actual societal changes we've seen in the years since then. Lady Glencora has incredible abilities, a strong mind, and a thick skin; the narrative owns that women like her exist; and from there it's a small step to go that the feminist solution is better than patriarchy.

Emily Wharton, unfortunately, isn't one of Trollope's interesting female characters. Her situation is sympathetic, and I would've liked her to be the strong-principled interesting character that I think the narrative intends, but she comes across as a flat prig.

There are a few noteworthy minor characters and cameos. John Fletcher is sarcastic but sympathetic, and pulls more than his weight in lightening the mood - something cheery always comes in handy in a ponderous Trollope novel. Quintus Slide is Anthony Trollope writing Rita Skeeter ... again. Lady Carbury from THE WAY WE LIVE NOW is briefly mentioned and implied to be happy with her husband. John Grey from CAN YOU FORGIVE HER is going to Persia and resigning his House of Commons seat. I wonder what his wife Alice thinks about that? I am going to assume that Alice gloriously enjoyed the Persian adventure.

Lady Eustace cameos with exciting character development - at the critical moment of the novel, she shows self-preservation and intelligence. She's become less ignorant than in THE EUSTACE DIAMONDS, perhaps mostly through her disastrous second marriage, and this is a piece of intriguing advancement.

Lizzie Eustace, will you go with me, to that land of the sun,

Where the rage of the vulture, the love of the turtle,
Now melt into sorrow, now madden to crime?

Will you dare to escape with me from the cold conventionalities, from the miserable thraldom of this country bound in swaddling cloths? Lizzie Eustace, if you will say the word, I will take you to that land of glorious happiness."

But Lizzie Eustace had £4000 a year and a balance at her banker's. "Mr. Lopez," she said.

"What answer have you to make me?"

"Mr. Lopez, I think you must be a fool."

Brava, Lizzie.

Lady Eustace has also made a friend in this novel.

Mrs. Leslie came in gorgeous clothes, which, as she was known to be very poor, and to have attached herself lately with almost more than feminine affection to Lady Eustace, were at any rate open to suspicious cavil.

I don't think this passage is meant to show lesbian subtext between pretty widowed Mrs Leslie and her patron Lady Eustace, but I'm all in favour of anything that can be read for femslash.

This novel doesn't bring the Palliser story to the forefront as much as it should, but it holds together and contributes an important part to the Pallisers' history. The Lopez arc can certainly be interpreted in a cringeworthy manner. But it's by no means a bad Trollope, and it's required reading for fans of Lady Glencora and Plantagenet.
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PHINEAS REDUX by Anthony Trollope [Oct. 2nd, 2017|09:25 pm]
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"A drunkard or a gambler may be weaned from his ways, but not a politician." - Anthony Trollope

Trollope's editor didn't want him to use the title, as the public would probably take Redux for the gentleman's surname, but he insisted. In this novel, the sequel to PHINEAS FINN, an older, wiser, and widowed Phineas is given the same temptation toward a public life as before. But when he gets accused of murdering a fellow MP, is this the end for him?

Phineas and his character development are centred in this volume. His varying mental states are very well written, and Trollope is too good a writer to allow him to bounce back without a qualm from traumatising experiences. Phineas' scruples over the right way to form a parliamentary career after troubles have beset him are also worth reading. There's a brief moment of wish fulfilment when people abase themselves before Phineas' feet after his troubles are over, but other than that Phineas' path is interesting.

Lady Laura Kennedy returns from PHINEAS FINN, but is no longer an interesting character. Lady Laura was originally a fascinating and politically active woman, who refused Phineas at a time when she had given all her money away to her brother. Instead she married the wealthy Mr Kennedy, and chafed under his rule while he became abusive and mentally ill. Marital troubles and widowhood have aged and uglified Lady Laura, and so she's no longer a viable interest for Phineas. The double standard between Lady Laura and Madame Max Goesler doesn't make much sense: both had a first marriage to a wealthy man they didn't love, but Madame Goesler is the only one who's still able to marry a man her age.

Madame Max Goesler replaces Lady Laura's role, being a similarly sparkling and intelligent and determined woman. What interested me in her was the complex friendship between Madame Max and the old Duke of Omnium: Trollope allowed the elderly Duke to have an emotionally complicated relationship, and the characterisation is fascinating. Madame Max's network of relationships with Lady Glencora, Plantagenet Palliser, Phineas Finn, and the tensions around her place in society are interestingly complex. She's also a Jewish character, shown in a positive light (or at least said to be Jewish by Lady Laura). Trollope seems to enjoy writing her.

Lady Glencora is now the Duchess of Omnium, and her character has not changed: as delightful, impulsive, and kind as ever. Nothing will ever change the Duchess, the narrative says. Plantagenet Palliser also hasn't changed much after becoming a Duke. There is a good piece of dialogue about his character, between Phineas Finn and the Duke's cousin Adelaide Palliser:

"He is such a gentleman;—and, at the same time, the most abstract and the most concrete man that I know."

"Abstract and concrete!"

"You are bound to use adjectives of that sort now, Miss Palliser, if you mean to be anybody in conversation."

"But how is my cousin concrete? He is always abstracted when I speak to him, I know."

"No Englishman whom I have met is so broadly and intuitively and unceremoniously imbued with the simplicity of the character of a gentleman. He could no more lie than he could eat grass."

"Is that abstract or concrete?"

"That's abstract. And I know no one who is so capable of throwing himself into one matter for the sake of accomplishing that one thing at a time. That's concrete."

Adelaide Palliser's role in the plot could and should have been excised, unfortunately. She shows that even Dukes can have impoverished relations; she has a boring love story with a lazy man who doesn't deserve her; she receives an alternative marriage offer from a persistent boor with a red nose who isn't as hilarious as Trollope might have intended. None of this has anything to do with the other subplots in the novel.

Lady Eustace and Lord Fawn's appearances in the novel are more interesting cameos. Lady Eustace married the dubious preacher Emilius at the end of THE EUSTACE DIAMONDS, and lived to regret it - they separated and she is trying to prove bigamy on his part in order to escape. Since the murdered man was coming close to the truth of Emilius' bigamy, Emilius is the other main suspect. Lady Eustace's character has some interesting light shed on it in her cameo, which highlights her as a compulsive liar. She doesn't just lie because she is a selfish person; it comes across as an obsessive-compulsive disorder. An interesting character trait. In his cameo, Lord Fawn receives a comeuppance for his weakness and hesitation, for which sympathy is felt by very few.

This novel takes on some territory outside Trollope's normal areas (the detail of a murder case), and resolves Phineas Finn's character development and maturity. Scraps of the politically oriented plot also advance the Pallisers on their journey. Another Palliser novel - a fairly good one.
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Yuletide Letter - blueinkedfrost on AO3 [Sep. 28th, 2017|08:15 pm]
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Dear Yuletide Writer,

Thank you for writing for me! I hope you have a wonderful Yuletide. Our shared rare fandom is joy, optional details are optional, and please don't get eaten by bears.

Things I like to read include: adventure, ghost stories, humour, horror, slice-of-life, alternative universes, tragedy, suffering, irony, drama, mystery, complicated characters, complicated relationships, character development, underexplored parts of canon universes, plot twists, banter, capable/competent characters, female characters having adventures or being central to the story, femslash, gen, het, slash, rare characters in the spotlight, unusual stories, being surprised, and many other things that hopefully cover what you enjoy writing. I'd love to read a story you want to write.

If there're any questions about this letter, feel free to go through the Yuletide Mods, or simply write the story you want to write - I'd much rather read fic that went in a direction you liked writing than a story that stuck to a prompt that wasn't working for you.

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THE EUSTACE DIAMONDS by Anthony Trollope [Sep. 25th, 2017|08:13 pm]
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Trollope writes Becky Sharp, aka Lady Eustace. The results are definitely entertaining. Like most writers, Trollope takes great relish depicting a character with no moral restraints whatsoever.

The Lord Fawn family, Madame Max Goesler, Lady Chiltern nee Violet Effingham, Lady Glencora, and various others sweep onto the stage at various times in this continuation of the Palliser political saga.

Impoverished but cunning and beautiful Lizzie Greystock captured the heart of Sir Florian Eustace, baronet - who was heartbroken when he discovered her lie about previous debts incurred to a jeweller, and shortly afterward died. Lady Eustace is now a wealthy titled widow and the mother of the next baronet. But there is one additional bone of contention: the famous Eustace diamonds, worth ten thousand pounds. Lady Eustace lies again to keep them, and refuses the family lawyers when they want to place them in trust. But when the diamonds are stolen, will Lady Eustace's lies expose her in society?

There's a touch of Trollope's commentary on the patriarchy through Lady Eustace's character: she's both ethically bankrupt *and* ignorant of many things, mostly because of the limits of female education in her era. Lizzie's ignorance is an aspect of her character that makes her very different to worldly-wise Becky Sharp; she's led the life of a well-bred woman, and she's been harmed by the ignorance forced on her. Certainly a twenty-first-century, Oxbridge-educated, ethically lacking CEO version of Lizzie Eustace would be able to do a lot more damage, but it's very easy to use the narrative to argue that the ignorance is an injustice done to women in general.

Lady Eustace's ignorance is only highlighted by her intelligence. She is undoubtedly clever and cunning, with a high social position, and even she is hamstrung by a man's world. This encomium may or may not be intended seriously, but here it is from a reasonably reliable character, her brother-in-law:

"She is a very great woman," said John Eustace,—"a very great woman; and, if the sex could have its rights, would make an excellent lawyer."

Lizzie Eustace's ignorance becomes a crucial theme in the plot, and is one of the main reasons why the reader feels sorry for her. She's an awful, unscrupulous, and selfish liar, but she suffers a good deal during the novel. A large part of her suffering is due to her ignorance - which is not her fault.

On the other side of the question, there's not much sympathy available for the lawyers. Their intense dispute about a piece of property seems petty, and it's also more motivated by simple dislike of Lady Eustace than the lawyers want to admit. The Eustace diamonds dispute is between two unsympathetic factions, one of which has an unfair social advantage.

The suspense, mostly as to whether Lizzie Eustace will face any legal penalty for lying to police officers in relation to the robberies or social penalty for trying to steal her cousin from his fiancee, is expertly maintained. I found it a harrowing, exciting read, with plenty of page-turning demanded by the miseries of the characters. The plot and Lady Eustace make the story.

Other than Lizzie Eustace, the characters are fairly limited. Trollope wrote some of them before under other names, such as determined ingenue Lucy Morris and weakly indecisive Frank Greystock. Lucinda Roanoke's part in the story is fascinating and dramatic but deeply restrained: she's a young poor woman with no choice but to marry a man she doesn't love to support herself. Lucinda is reluctant to marry, and her lover, Sir Griffin Tewett, seems very excited about forcing her to submit to him. The subtext here is deeply disturbing, and though it's melodramatic it's also believable. The plot thread suffers from Trollope not allowing himself to go into detail, and/or my inability to interpret the subtext with the full context of the times.

As a minor part of the story, Trollope inserts an interesting self-reference:

The three ladies had a box at the Haymarket taken for this very evening, at which a new piece, "The Noble Jilt," from the hand of a very eminent author, was to be produced. Mrs. Carbuncle had talked a great deal about "The Noble Jilt," and could boast that she had discussed the merits of the two chief characters with the actor and actress who were to undertake them. Miss Talbot had assured her that the Margaret was altogether impracticable, and Mrs. Carbuncle was quite of the same opinion. And as for the hero, Steinmark,—it was a part that no man could play so as to obtain the sympathy of an audience. There was a second hero,—a Flemish Count,—tame as rain-water, Mrs. Carbuncle said.

NOBLE JILT was the precursor to CAN YOU FORGIVE HER, and was probably never put on.

Another fun piece of trivia about the novel is that the legal letter in the novel on the law of heirlooms was requested by Trollope from a friend, Charles Merewether, and became the ruling authority on the subject.

THE EUSTACE DIAMONDS is a strong Trollope. His autobiography favourably records it. His epitaph on the novel is "a series of adventures, unpleasant enough in themselves, but pleasant to the reader" - certainly a fine summation.
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Moved to dreamwidth [Sep. 10th, 2017|10:18 pm]
...and the stains drip between fingers...

I've finally switched over to dreamwidth. Not that I've been a very active journaller at the best of times!

I'm looking forward to participating in Yuletide 2017, where fandom nominations are open until Saturday 16 September.

Hope that anyone reading this is going well.
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