graycardinal: Shadow on asphalt (Default)
And now the reveal has gone live, and it's time to talk about what I wrote for Yuletide this year:

The Secrets of Isis
Fandom: Amelia Peabody - Elizabeth Peters
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: None for triggers.  Spoilers for Peters' novel Guardians of the Horizon (the second Lost Oasis adventure).
Words: ~1400
Characters: Nefret Forth Emerson, Daria (Amelia Peabody)
Additional Tags: Misses Clause Challenge, Isis is a perfectly respectable goddess, Lost Oasis, Footnotes

As the Emersons prepare to leave the Holy Mountain for the second time, one Priestess of Isis passes her mantle to another.

This was an interesting project. The prompt specifically asked for a focus on Nefret, and although I initially considered looking at her time in Switzerland and/or medical school (and thus essentially on her own) I found I couldn't resist the call of the Lost Oasis.  That immediately made me think of Daria, who really doesn't get enough of the right kind of screen time in Guardians of the Horizon, and of using Daria's perspective to supply a different angle on Nefret's character.  In the end, the story is really pretty much evenly balanced between the two young women, which is not precisely what the prompt had called for, but the recipient seems to like the story and I'm reasonably satisfied with it.

I should mention that the bit of whimsy underlying the second footnote was a fortuitous happenstance.  I had typed in the title for the piece late in one writing session, and only realized what I'd done when I looked at it again on reopening the document the following day.  At which point I asked myself "Do I really want to go there?", to which the obvious answer was "Whyever not?"  (Mostly we should all be grateful that Sethos never got hold of the item in question.)

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An especially joyful Yuletide this year for me: I had been morally certain that the count showing two Yuletide stories for me was a system bug (the second showed up right after the restore of all those accidentally purged assignments), but lo and behold I discovered two stories under my virtual tree when the archive opened. And both of them are seriously nifty....

First we have Oz (well, technically, mostly Philadelphia with an eventual excursion ending up in Mo), featuring a really thoughtful and engaging look at two of my favorite characters, a very neat interpolation between several relatively obscure parts of Baum canon, and just exactly the right amount of emotional subtext between our protagonists.  I have certain suspicions about the authorship of this one....

Twin Properties
Written by: ??
Fandom: Oz - L. Frank Baum
Characters: Button-Bright, Polychrome
Rating: General Audiences
Words: ~4900
Warnings: none
Additional Tags: Reunions, Pre-ship, (if you want to read it like that)

When Polly gets lost in the US, she seeks out her only mortal (actually, only in general) friend.

AKA How Button-Bright ended up in that popcorn snowdrift.

 

 
 ////

And then we have an equally entertaining tale of my very favorite Forgotten Realms characters -- this one mostly sorcery rather than swordsmanship, with deviously complicated magic and a cleverly executed meeting between arch-wizard and arch-rogue that catches both characters very well indeed.  I have absolutely no idea who may have written this one, but I'm extremely happy to have gotten it.


The Amethyst Gate
Written by: ??
Fandom: Forgotten Realms, Songs & Swords - Elaine Cunningham
Rating: General Audiences
Words: ~4500
Warnings: none
Characters: Arilyn Moonblade, Danilo Thann, Elaith Craulnober, Khelben Arunsun

It's an ordinary-looking magical portal - but when Danilo steps through, it collapses in on itself, leaving Arilyn with a mystery that even the Archmage of Waterdeep and a guardian of Evermeet may not be able to fully unravel.
graycardinal: Yuletide warning flag (Yuletide Crossing)
Note: A good deal of this text has been ported straight from last year’s letter, including a couple of recurring requests.  Things have been kind of hectic around here in recent weeks – and also, I find I actually rather like this particular introductory paragraph.

Greetings, O YuleScrivener, and welcome!  And also, thank you!  Where Yuletide is concerned, I am nothing if not a Requester Of The Seriously Obscure.  Thus I am always amazed when the technomancy of the matching process succeeds in finding a writer who shares my appreciation for said obscurity, and delighted on Christmas morning when a wonderful and wondrous story from that writer's (metaphorical) pen lands in my AO3 gift-folder.  We may just be setting out on this year's journey, but I know there's a happy ending to come, and I am grateful for it already.  Your work is (and will be) appreciated and valued, and I look forward to seeing its fruits.

These letters aren't getting any shorter, so while I've got detailed material farther down, I think it's only fair to give you the list of fandom requests up front.  So, those would be:

* Forgotten Realms: Songs & Swords – Elaine Cunningham (Arilyn)
* Legend (TV 1995) (Janos Bartok)
* The Ice Ghosts Mystery - Jane Louise Curry (any)
* Oz - L. Frank Baum (any)
* Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego? (Ivy)
* Young Wizards - Diane Duane (Carmela, Dairine)

General likes and dislikes

Feel free to wander backward through this journal and my fic on AO3 (linked to your left) to get an idea of my interests; what I write is very much also what I like to read -- and has, over time, added up to rather a variety of fandoms. My past Yuletide letters (and those for other exchanges) are tagged "dear santa" herein; see the "Yuletide" tag too, if you like.

To summarize, though: text-driven pluses for me include effective use of wit (aka banter aka snark, etc.), as well as strong characterization & dialogue. I value both respect for and clever use of canon (including well-developed AUs -- the plot-driven kind, not the baristas/highschoolers/alt-species kind). I thrive on UST (heavy on both U and T), and am neutral where gen/het/slash is concerned; if the pairing is well-developed, I'll read with an open mind.

I am also a sucker for the well-executed crossover, whether via oblique allusion or head-on fandom collision. Yuletide being Yuletide and Optional Details Being Optional, I have absolutely no expectations along this line...but if your muse's musings should happen to run in such a direction on their own initiative, feel free to encourage them. Again: the key word here is Optional.

None of my requests call specifically for mature/explicit content.  This doesn't mean I don't appreciate sizzling erotica/smut/porn; it's just that my fanfic-reading interests and my e/s/p-reading interests mostly don't tend to intersect.  That said, if your muse happens to take you into explicit territory in the context of one of these requests, I'm totally willing to follow along for the ride.  I have few outright personal squicks save for noncon, incest, or adult/child kinks so long as a given relationship is age- and canon-appropriate.  [See the requests for canon-specific notes.]

Character matching and prompts

Most often in exchanges, I request single characters.  This is not because I'm opposed to relationship-fic or multi-character stories – far from it. My goal is to give you greater flexibility in introducing additional characters, whether from those nominated or from wider canon. Even where I supply relatively specific prompts in a request, I want you to be able to shape the story; my suggestions are meant as springboards, not outlines.

Where I've requested multiple characters, I've given a specific note in each request as to whether it's an "either/or" request or not (different fandoms, different answers to that question).  As above, you're absolutely encouraged to bring in any additional canon characters (or OCs) you feel should be involved given the demands of your plot.

In a couple of cases here, I've left the character selection blank (there being no "Any" button on the offer side of the signup).  Any is pretty much still Any, though, and I've framed the prompts accordingly.

#### SPECIFIC REQUESTS ####

A note first: in past years, I've added a few additional notes to the text pasted from "Optional Details" in the signup form.  This year, I've gone the other way: all of the Optional Detail notes are included in the signup form proper, and what's here exactly reprises that content.  (It seems safer that way, and ensures that my officially matched writer sees all those notes.)

* Forgotten Realms: Songs & Swords – Elaine Cunningham (Arilyn)

It’s been some time since I’ve reread these, but they remain among my very favorite Forgotten Realms novels (and I've read fairly widely in that canon).  Even when matters become emotionally or physically challenging, Cunningham imbues these books with a degree of underlying optimism that makes the books fun to read.  (I recently came across the term "noblebright", coined as a counter-category to "grimdark"; I think maybe that's applicable here.)  Along with the wonderfully drawn characters, one of the things I like about this series is the magic: Arilyn’s moonblade, Dan’s eccentric uses for illusion, and so forth.  I’d love to see a tale in which untangling a magical problem or puzzle is the focus.

Two observations here in addition to the commentary from the request proper.  First: While we've matched specifically on Arilyn, I absolutely encourage you to bring in additional characters, nominated and otherwise, to fill out and complement your story.  Although this is Very Optional, since he's not in the tag set, I'd be especially happy to see Khelben Arunsen onstage.  I find I've somehow missed the moment in the larger Realms continuity when his status...changed, and I always found his role in this series enjoyable and provocative.  Second: having made the above comment, I'll note that as much as I like Arilyn and Danilo as a couple, we get enough of that relationship in canon that what I'm hoping for here is a somewhat different focus.  I don't mean to discourage you from bring Dan onstage; I'm just looking for something other than romance in this request.


* Legend (TV 1995) (Janos Bartok)

On one hand, much of the fun of this series is watching Our Heroes fence with one another, and I don't want to lose sight of that.  But I think here I'd like to see the Professor spread his own wings a little, purely to prove that he *can*.   There are depths to Janos Bartok that we didn't have time to plumb onscreen; let's explore that here -- though please do keep the tone light enough that we don't lose the roguish charm that makes this series what it is.

For Extremely Optional Bonus Points: one just knows that Bartok and a certain Prof. Wickwire of a certain other alt!Western universe must have or have had a long-standing professional rivalry....

* The Ice Ghosts Mystery - Jane Louise Curry (any)

This book is such an ensemble piece that I've not tried to pick among the available characters.  Just give me a solid "further adventures" story -- whether of foiling another Evil Science Plot, coping with school/academic politics, or simply wreaking cheerful familial havoc on some unsuspecting foreign metropolis.  Romance between Oriole and Gabriel is definitely on the table, too.

For Extremely Optional Bonus Points
: I've always regarded the Birds as a deliberate homage to L'Engle's Austin and O'Keefe families, if in a slightly lighter vein.  What sort of conference and/or diabolical scheme might toss the two sets of characters into one another's orbit?


* Oz - L. Frank Baum (Button Bright, Polychrome)

[NOTE: I will be happy with a story featuring either *or* both of the selected characters.]

While I'm not at all opposed to revisionist or sideways looks at Ozian canon (I am, for instance, a huge admirer of Ryk Spoor's recent
Polychrome), in the present context I think I'm looking for more traditional Oziana.  Keep Baum and the Famous Forty (I've read many but not all of these) in mind and you'll make me a happy reader.  That said, while I wouldn't be opposed to a story in which the above two characters develop into a couple, that's not at *all* why I picked them, and I'd be just as happy with a story where romance is wholly absent.  I'm fascinated on one hand by Button Bright's general disregard for magic (even when he has access to it), and by Polychrome's status as a being of almost pure magic, who seems sometimes a physical being and sometimes a nearly intangible one.   Neither character flusters easily, and I think it would be fun to see them confront a magical challenge together purely as a study in contrasts.

* Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego? (Ivy)

I've picked Ivy this year not because I'm not fond of Carmen (quite the contrary), but because Carmen takes up so much space in the admittedly small body of fic in this fandom -- and I'd like to see a little more from the ACME side of things in general, as well as from Ivy's perspective in particular.  I've also remarked before that one of my great fascinations with this series is the bond that develops between Carmen and the detectives as the show progresses; at times there's what I'd call a slightly maternal quality to Carmen's interest in Our Heroes, and I'd enjoy seeing that idea considered from Ivy's point of view.  I also can't help thinking that it's interesting that canon gives us essentially no information about Ivy's and Zack's parents...which might be because they're utterly ordinary, but could also have to do with some tragic past event -- or that fact that technically, Ivy and Zack are computer-generated avatars.

OTOH, if deep familial musings aren't your cup of tea, I will also be greatly pleased with rapid-fire casefic (infoscans optional) or a straightforward snark-and-action encounter.  One thing, though: I'd prefer strongly *not* to see a Carmen/Ivy romantic pairing; that one pushes a button for me.

* Young Wizards - Diane Duane (Carmela, Dairine)

[NOTE: I would strongly prefer a story featuring both characters, but a story featuring either one will satisfy this request.]

I chose Carmela and Dairine both because I like them individually and because canon gives us so very little that puts them together with one another -- which I find surprising, even granting the age difference.  I would very much like to see how they interact given an excuse and/or opportunity.  Additional characters welcome; suitably brain-bending crossovers totally welcome but emphatically not required.

With WIZARDS IN PLAY out, we have many of the answers we've wanted relative to Dairine and Roshaun, so I'm no longer deeply worried about excessive angst arising from that quarter.  It does occur to me that Dairine might find it easier to talk to Carmela about Roshaun than to have the same conversations with Nita, perhaps especially now that his situation's been resolved.  (Or you could set such a tete-a-tete earlier in canon, while things are still unsettled....)


Other possible tacks: Dairine getting one up on Nita with Carmela’s help, or the girls and the Alien Study Group having an adventure (I’ve seen a fair bit of fic in this line set in the Crossings, not so much here on Earth).  I would also be very much on board for quality father-daughter bonding -- no matter which father/mentor figure(s) is/are involved.

[Canon notes: I'm equally at home in the original and New Millennium timelines, and have read all the shorter and e-only material up through WHEN WIZARDS PLAY (except for THE BIG MEOW and the latest post-PLAY ebook).]


graycardinal: snowy gateway: Yuletide, Enter Here (Yuletide)
I am behind by several acknowledgment posts (and indeed, one whole exchange), so don't be surprised if the order of the next few posts is a little odd as I attempt to catch up.

First up is the Yuletide story written for me:

This Soft World

Fandom: Tomorrowland (2015)
Written by: ???
Characters: Athena, Frank Walker, David Nix
Relationships: Athena & Frank Walker, Athena & David Nix
Rating: T / gen
Additional Tags: Friendship, Loyalty, Androids, Developing Autonomy
Warnings: none
Words: ~22,000 (!)

Athena has always been clear about her purpose in life and no amount of reprogramming will change that. It's what Frank likes most about her.

I am pretty much gobsmacked.  This is brilliantly-worked-out AI spec-fic, beautifully executed relationship fic, and a deep and intricate extrapolation of both movie canon and material from the prequel novel Before Tomorrowland (though you do not have to read the latter book to appreciate what's here).  I count Tomorrowland as the most underappreciated movie of the past year, and I think my mystery author must agree with me; this story is flat-out amazing.
graycardinal: snowy gateway: Yuletide, Enter Here (Yuletide)

Note: A good deal of this text has been ported straight from last year’s letter, including two out of the current six requests.  Things have been kind of hectic around here in recent weeks – and also, I find I actually rather like last year’s introductory paragraph.

Greetings, O YuleScrivener, and welcome!  And also, thank you!  Where Yuletide is concerned, I am nothing if not a Requester Of The Seriously Obscure.  Thus I am always amazed when the technomancy of the matching process succeeds in finding a writer who shares my appreciation for said obscurity, and delighted on Christmas morning when a wonderful and wondrous story from that writer's (metaphorical) pen lands in my AO3 gift-folder.  We may just be setting out on this year's journey, but I know there's a happy ending to come, and I am grateful for it already.  Your work is (and will be) appreciated and valued, and I look forward to seeing its fruits.

These letters aren't getting any shorter, so while I've got detailed material farther down, I think it's only fair to give you the list of fandom requests up front.  So, those would be:

Birds of Prey (TV) (Alfred, Barbara, Helena)
Forgotten Realms: Songs & Swords – Elaine Cunningham
(Arilyn, Danilo, Khelben)
Gargoyles
(Macbeth)
Jacqueline Kirby - Elizabeth Peters
(Jacqueline Kirby)
Tomorrowland
(Athena)
Young Wizards - Diane Duane
(Carmela, Dairine)

 

 

 

graycardinal: Yuletide warning flag (Yuletide Crossing)
Somehow we have arrived at the runup to Yuletide nominations -- and rather than the grand isolation in which I usually operate, I've found myself drawn into nomination horse-trading this year.  Which I might not ordinarily mention in this space, except that one of the fandoms that's popped up for consideration -- mentioned, I note, by someone other than me -- is one that might be familiar to certain of my eleven regular readers, namely the Circle of Magic series (no, not the one by Tamora Pierce, that other one by some folks named Doyle and Macdonald). 

Which is in equal parts a happy thing and a an eyebrow-raising thing, because a modicum of Googling establishes that Wikipedia remains under the delusion that that series is eight books long, and Goodreads seems to think that the entire series (including the notorious rogue books #7 and #8) have been translated into Japanese.

OTOH, the legitimate books are still readily findable online, and, there's clearly a good chance that the series will find its way into the tag set this year....



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My Yuletide match this year was on a particularly esoteric micro-fandom -- and in mystery, rather than SF/fantasy.  This is the story I wrote:

A Matter of Delicacy
Judge Dee mysteries - Robert van Gulik
G •  gen • ~3000 words
Dee Jen-djieh | Di Renjie, Miss Violet Liang, Tao Gan, First Lady, Second Lady, Third Lady, Original Characters

When a memorable figure from Judge Dee's past turns up on the doorstep of the Metropolitan Court, the Lord Chief Justice is confronted with a puzzle whose unraveling may call for a particularly subtle approach -- and whose solution may pose its own challenges for the judge's visitor.

The Judge Dee series takes place in seventh-century China; Robert van Gulik wrote a total of sixteen novels and one set of short stories that are a rather odd mix of historical fact and fiction.  There was a genuine historical "Judge Dee", on whom van Gulik's character is based, and there's a lot of legitimate period detail in the books.  But while the individual mystery scenarios are almost all taken from authentic Chinese sources, van Gulik creates a wholly fictional career for Judge Dee, and the novels' storylines have no basis in specific events.  Also, van Gulik incorporates a degree of deliberate anachronism into the texts, describing cultural elements from the much later Ming dynasty as opposed to those prevalent in seventh-century Tang China.

Yet anachronisms notwithstanding, the series -- originally published in the 1960s and '70s, but still in print today (!) -- makes for fascinating reading.  Van Gulik was a native Dutchman who served as his country's ambassador to China, and published a fair bit of (somewhat esoteric) scholarly writing on Chinese culture in addition to his fiction, but it's the Judge Dee stories for which he remains best known.

My own story, at its recipient's suggestion, picks up on the status of a character featured in one of the series' middle books -- a female wrestler and martial-arts tutor from Mongolia -- and looks in on that character again about a decade later.  In the course of developing the story, I reread the whole canon (some volumes more than once), and consulted a variety of printed and online reference material -- establishing, in the process, that most of what I knew about Chinese history I'd originally learned from reading the Judge Dee books.  (Heh.)

Not surprisingly, the story has picked up a fairly small number of hits and garnered little to no notice in the wider Yuletide gossip mill.  Which is just fine; that's why it's called a micro-fandom.  (I write in a lot of these....)  The important bit is that my recipient is happy -- which she is, judging by the comment in response -- and thus I am well satisfied.

graycardinal: Anya from "Anastasia"; "What was that title again?" (rec)
And now a quick run-through of recs from my early reading, in a variety of fandoms and culling from both the main collection and the Madness archive.

Fandoms are: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Austin & Murry-O'Keefe Family (L'Engle), Batman Beyond, Calvin & Hobbes, Justice League/JLU, Mageworlds (Doyle & Macdonald), The Muppet Show, The Scarlet Pimpernel (Orczy), The Sherwood Ring (Pope), Star Trek: Rihannsu (Duane), Young Wizards (Duane), Zorro (TV 1990).

Recs themselves are under the cut, for length: )
graycardinal: Anya from "Anastasia"; "What was that title again?" (rec)

It is, it is a glorious Yuletide, and I am just now coming up for air after a surprisingly busy Christmas-midweek.

So far my contribution to Yuletide has been admired by its recipient and a couple of other readers, with a tiny scattering of hits.  This is perfectly cool, as the fandom is way out on the seriously obscure end of obscurity.

My gift-fic, meanwhile, is a thing of great loveliness in a slightly less obscure fandom:

Artifacts
Stealing the Elf-King's Roses - Diane Duane
G • gen • ~1500 words
Lee Enfield; Gelert

Some of the qualities of matter have changed now, sure, but a lot of investigating remains the same.

Our Heroes are consulting crime-scene investigators in one of the next universes over from ours, who use technical sorcery the way CSIs in our world use traditional science.  Also, Gelert is essentially a very large shaggy dog. 

This is a snapshot of a case that comes up after the events of the novel, but it's sufficiently self-contained that you don't strictly need the novel to understand the world.  And reading this should not spoil you for any of the major twists and turns in the novel proper, which is a definite bonus.  The author nails Duane's narrative voice and shows an excellent understanding of the magical system; I am very, very pleased indeed to have had this written for me, and if the scene you see here draws you in, I highly recommend the book, which is available in an author's preferred e-book edition direct from Diane Duane's Web site.

graycardinal: Yuletide warning flag (Yuletide Crossing)
As if I didn't have enough on my plate (eyes deadlines for [community profile] intoabar and [community profile] yuletide), I've hung a stocking at [community profile] fandom_stocking again this year, and here it is.

Some notes, because I know at least one person will ask:

Although it's been hosted on LiveJournal in the past, this year's event is happening exclusively on Dreamwidth. Here are some useful links:

2013 Announcement Post (deadline for signups: 12/18)
Signup Post

Because of the volume of posts that the stocking signups generate, I've found it useful to create filters (one with all my friends-page/circle groups except [community profile] fandom_stocking, and one for just that community).

Note that unlike most other fanwork exchanges, there are no assignments and there is no matching; one simply trolls through the stockings (the fandom and interest tags are invaluable for this), finds stockings one can fill, and posts. Also unlike most such exchanges, contributions are not limited to fic, and may include non-fannish elements (recs, recipes, icons and art, general good wishes, etc.).
graycardinal: Yuletide warning flag (Yuletide Crossing)

Here we are, O fellow Yuletides, neither so early as I'd hoped, nor as late as I feared. Also, for any of the handful of folk who may have been reading my letters in years past, this one has been rather more heavily rewritten than usual -- up to and including changes to some of the Requests of Long Standing.

That said, one thing that hasn't changed, and won't, is the heartfelt annual Thank You. When I pick micro-fandoms, I tend to pick really microscopic ones, and even when I request less obscure material, I tend to put odd spins on the requests. Anyone with the knowledge and/or enthusiasm who's willing and able to write in any of these canons -- whether via assignment, treat-spawned Madness, or (dare I hope) NYR -- deserves all the thanks and virtual cookies I can supply. Nor will I rule out the possibility of real cookies in sufficiently extraordinary circumstances.

Seriously: where most of my requests are concerned, I am as Oliver Twist, and "More, please" will always be cheerfully welcomed and gratefully appreciated.

Now, as this will run unconscionably long if I don't, we start using cut tags....

ETA: I give up; the rich text editor wins.  You get one cut, and here it is:

Read on for the good stuff.... )

 

graycardinal: Yuletide warning flag (Yuletide Crossing)
It will likely be a day or two -- give or take a day, depending on when signups actually open -- but there will, before too long, be a fresh Dear Yulewriter letter forthcoming.  Note that this is not a placeholder for it -- I'll post separately when I get things properly pulled together.  (I am rewriting and rewiring more than usual this year, given recent evolution in the Yuletide substructure.)

Meanwhile, sleep sounds good....
graycardinal: snowy gateway: Yuletide, Enter Here (Yuletide)

Now that the author reveal is live, I can report my Yuletide 2012 contribution -- namely:

A Candle in the Fog (10228 words) by Gray Cardinal
Fandom: Candleshoe (1977)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warning: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Casey (Candleshoe), Priory (Candleshoe), Lady St. Edmund

A shoutout should go here to [archiveofourown.org profile] duckwhatduck, [archiveofourown.org profile] Starrrz, and [livejournal.com profile] maevebran, whom I consulted about British-peerage inheritance questions prior to wading into an actual story draft.  As written, the story went mostly in other directions, but their input was extremely helpful in the development process.

Now, you might or might not remember Candleshoe -- it was a Disney feature film featuring Jodie Foster, David Niven, Helen Hayes, and Leo McKern in which Foster's character (Casey Brown) may or may not be Hayes' long-lost granddaughter (and thereby, the fourth Marchioness of Candleshoe).  There's a very good synopsis/review linked above, so I'll omit more detail here -- except to note that Niven is in especially fine form, playing multiple personas in something of a Peter Sellers turn.

This was one of my favorite old-school Disney features when I was growing up, but I hadn't actually seen it in a long time -- so when my Yuletide assignment matched on the fandom, the very first thing I did was to order the DVD.  And watch it, twice (and a couple more times in the course of the writing).  I knew almost at once the broad shape of the story I wanted to write -- but while the character arcs were clear almost at once, the "action" side of the story remained stubbornly vague.  Until I happened to catch a particular set of Adam West Batman reruns on a classic-TV channel, featuring one Lord Marmaduke Ffogg.  I knew instantly that Ffogg would make an excellent villain, but it wasn't till I'd looked closely at the internal timelines of both canons that I realized I'd also -- totally by accident -- acquired several layers of extremely useful back story. 

At that point, it was more or less a race to finish by deadline (just barely).  My recipient and various other commenters -- bless their hearts -- have picked up on most of the asides and Easter eggs, save for one brief sideways movie reference that I actually didn't realize I'd made until I was rereading the relevant conversation.  I am very pleased with the way the story turned out, and very gratified by the enthusiastic response it's gotten from its readers.

graycardinal: Yuletide warning flag (Yuletide Crossing)
I have a completely unexpected Madness-collection treat to report -- a delightful sequel to one of my favorite stories from last year.  It appears I'm a co-recipient by virtue of having left inspirational feedback on the original piece.  (I only hope we don't have to wait another year for the next installment.)

Tangled (2010)/Valdemar Series - Mercedes Lackey
Inevitable (429 words) by Anonymous
Rating: General Audiences
Warning: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Maximus (Tangled), Rapunzel (Tangled)
Series: Part 2 of Companion!Maxverse

Some things just never go as planned.

And a further compilation of recs. A few of these have been mentioned by someone else, but I've tried to focus on lesser-noticed material.  Herewith the listings: )
graycardinal: Shadow on asphalt (Default)
Written for me:

The Madame Karitska Files (5636 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 5/5
Fandom: Clairvoyant Countess Series - Dorothy Gilman, Ellery Queen (TV)
Rating: General Audiences
Warning: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Madame Marina Karitska, Polonius Faber-Jones, Laurie Faber-Jones, Simon Brimmer, Lieutenant Pruden
Summary: More Tales of Madame Marina Karitska

A pitch-perfect recapturing of the Karitska books' tone and structure, plus a bonus guest star crossover appearance -- also pitch-perfect -- by the inimitable (but usually wrong) Simon Brimmer from EQ.  Which is to say, two prompts elegantly filled at once, and how often does that happen?  Definitely a win for me this Yule season -- and both these being straightforward cozy-mystery fandoms, the story stands pretty well on its own, so that even the un-initiated should find the story accessible.

And a couple of quick early recs:

Velveteen Presents Victory Anna vs. Love (Which Is, After All, A Many-Splendored Thing). (5525 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Velveteen - Seanan McGuire
Rating: General Audiences
Warning: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Polychrome/Victory Anna
Summary:  And now for something completely different! Join one Science Heroine in her Perilous Quest to find her way to Solid Ground through the power of Science, Steam, and Epona's Own Grace.
If you've followed Seanan McGuire's Velveteen superheroine saga on LJ (especially the very newest material), this supplies a nifty chunk of back story for Victoria "Victory Anna" Cogsworth -- and whoever wrote this has got the Velveteen narrative voice down perfectly.   And strangely enough, because of the way this fits into series continuity, it's actually a decent entry point for folks who have (for some strange reason) not yet encountered the Vel-verse.  Highly, highly recommended; funny and sweet in equal measures.


Submitted For Your Approval (3849 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: The Muppets - All Media Types, Twilight Zone
Rating: General Audiences
Warning: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Gonzo the Great, Rod Serling (Twilight Zone)
Summary: A freak accident turns Gonzo’s latest stunt into a one-way ticket into the unknown.

Like my own gift story, this one accomplishes the uncommon feat of meeting two of the recipient's prompts in one swell foop.   Except when you're crossing the Muppets and the Twilight Zone, the results are both absolutely and spectacularly cracktastic and -- at the same time -- eerie and troubling and scarily plausible.  Which is to say, the author has the tone of both fandoms down flat, and that in itself makes the crossover work amazingly well.  I predict this to be one of the breakout hits of the year.

graycardinal: snowy gateway: Yuletide, Enter Here (Yuletide)
Not that I actually have time to do this just now (I hear Yule-bears coming closer...) but at the same time, it seems a good moment for a retrospective, and the meme is showing up all over my f-lists.  So, herewith my Yuletide catalogue, as we sneak up on this year's deadline:

Yuletide 2006-2011 )
graycardinal: Yuletide warning flag (Yuletide Crossing)
The good news: I'm better than 2K words into my Yuletide assignment. The bad news: there's at least that much to go. OTOH, I know where it's going, right down to certain twists fitting much more closely than I originally thought they would (a decision I made largely for comic effect at the outset turns out to dovetail neatly into a key plot point). Excellent progress at yesterday's write-in (waves at [livejournal.com profile] maevebran and [personal profile] slr2moons ), and more today.

Have also put myself into the pool for this year's Fandom Stocking; my own stocking is here, should anyone have a spare moment between more formal challenges.  (Note to newcomers, especially [personal profile] twilight2000 : this one is not an exchange as such, and is not hooked to AO3.  However, if you choose to play, you may want to create a viewing filter or two for your journal so that the 200-plus stocking posts only show up on your reading page when you want them to....)

Also, much amused by the Sunday Doonesbury strip.  Been there, written that....

graycardinal: Yuletide warning flag (Yuletide Crossing)
Midway through signups, and herewith the annual Dear Yulewriter letter.

As always, the first order of business is the heartfelt Thank You.  I am definitely a picker of obscure fandoms (in some of these cases, really obscure), and anyone with the knowledge and/or enthusiasm who's willing and able to write in any of these canons deserves all the thanks and virtual cookies I can supply.  (Real cookies may also be negotiable in certain circumstances....)

Now, then. You want to know what I like.  So:

Pluses for me include strong characterization, well-written dialogue, wit/banter/snark, clever use of canon, well-developed AUs, UST (heavy on both the U and the T), and more.  I'm neutral when it comes to matters of gen, slash, or femslash -- if the pairing is well-developed, I'll read with an open mind.  I'm not into noncon, incest, or adult/child kinks, but have few other outright squicks as long as the relationship is age- and canon-appropriate; OTOH, I mostly don't read fanfic for sexual content.

I will note in particular this year that I am a sucker for the clever and well-executed crossover -- not because I expect one (Optional Details Being Optional, and such things being well beyond the call of either duty or necessity), but because in one or two of these cases, the potential amusement/entertainment value would be particularly high if your writerly imagination should happen to wander in that direction.

When it comes to Yuletide, I typically request single characters, but not because I'm uninterested in romantic pairings or the other characters in a given canon.  Rather, my take is that single characters are easier for the mods to match (I may be ornery, but I'm not that diabolically evil), and that it gives you, the writer, greater flexibility as you look around for other characters in the fandom for my chosen character to hang out with.

Now, as to my specific requests:

The Clairvoyant Countess • Dorothy Gilman )

The Lastborn of Elvinwood • Linda Haldeman )

Ellery Queen (tv) )

Planet Builders • Robyn Tallis )
graycardinal: Yuletide warning flag (Yuletide Crossing)
First very quick batch of Yuletide recommendations. There will doubtless be more later, but this will do for a start.

Dreamweaver's Lament - Windmaster's Bane series
The story written for me: Liz Hughes and David Sullivan are planning their wedding -- amid a series of strange and disturbing dreams.  Lovely, thoughtful postscript to the canon, very much in the spirit of the books.  Even if you haven't read the novels in question, this may work on its own as a change-of-life moment.  I am pleased and honored to have this gifted to me.

Not a Creature was Stirring (Except for Some Bats) - Batman Beyond
Christmas Eve futurefic, in which Terry and Dana are married, and Terry and Bruce are still partnered.  I liked this very much; it picks up in just the right measure on the scintilla of hope in this part of the animated DCUverse, and its author does Bruce in particular very well indeed.

The Muppet Show with Our Very Special Guest: Alton Brown Muppet Show / Alton Brown RPF
Spot-on execution of a Muppet Show that has clearly actually happened in the universe in which the series was never actually cancelled.  Hilarious in all the right ways, especially where Alton and the Swedish Chef are concerned.  (Also, Fozzie and Winnie-the-Pooh and waltzing with bears.  And hippopotamuses.  Of course there are hippopotamuses....)

Chess, Charades and the Body in the Next Room - Ship series (Anne McCaffrey) / Ship Who Searched (McCaffrey/Lackey)
A sequel to my favorite novel spun off from McCaffrey's brainship series.  Tia's and Alex's first assignment after the events of the book, complete with endearingly awkward romance.  Pitch-perfect, sweet and lightly funny in just the right way.

Precedent - Valdemar series (Mercedes Lackey) / Tangled (2010)
This?  Explains a lot.  A brilliantly conceived crossover that should make complete sense to anyone familiar with both canons -- and ends on a surprisingly powerful note.

Trixie Belden and the Mystery in the 12th Precinct - Trixie Belden series (Tatham & Kenny) / Castle
Another beautifully executed crossover, neatly extrapolating the Trixieverse into the present day and including a clever casefic plot.  Watch for nods in the direction of a certain other police canon as well.

Velveteen Wizards - Young Wizards series (Diane Duane)
A sequel to last year's ingenious and rightly popular Wizards in Winter (unusual for Yuletide, but well worth it here).  This time Robin and Batgirl are in Nita''s and Kit's New York, with a problem only Nita can solve.  Worthwhile especially for the scene with Tom and Carl -- which hints at further untold tales from this quarter.  Note that the title reference is to the Velveteen Rabbit, not to Seanan McGuire's online superhero character.
graycardinal: snowy gateway: Yuletide, Enter Here (Yuletide)
Last year, the letter went up very late; this year, I'm posting quite early.

First things first: Thank you, Yulewriter, under whatever avatar you choose to appear -- and thank you as well to prospective Yulewriters and others who may be cruising the spreadsheets and LiveJournals reading these letters out of pure curiosity.  You are noble and generous, not to mention helpful, friendly, courteous, kind...whoops, wrong script.  Now, then: your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to overthrow the government of....no, that's not the right script either. 

Then again -- this is going to be an interesting Yuletide.  I turned in requests in an unusually obscure and baroque group of canons (calling these "fandoms" is an act of optimism on my part, as I'm not sure there's any fic at all out there for any of these).  These are some of my longest-standing and most favorite literary worlds...but based on prior Yuletides, it's an open question as to whether any of them will draw offers from the wider Yuletide writing community.  This initial group of requests is very much intended as a test case -- I'm doing what we've been specifically encouraged to do during discussions of the nomination/request process, even though I have a strong hunch it's going to make the matching engine throw up its virtual hands in defeat.  If I'm wrong about that, and you've offered to write in one (or more) of these canons, you have my undying appreciation and gratitude, and we can discuss cookies after the reveal.  If I'm right -- well, we'll see what happens next. 

ETA: And there was much rejoicing, as it looks as if I have offers on two of these three requests!  Thank you to all of you who've offered, whether we matched or not.  And as for that third fandom, well, there's always next year. :-)  [Note to self: plan on baking cookies early in January....]

But enough with the Yule intrigue.  You want to know what I like.  So:

Pluses for me include strong characterization, well-written dialogue, wit/banter/snark, clever use of canon, well-developed AUs, UST (heavy on both the U and the T), crossovers, and more.  I'm neutral when it comes to matters of gen, slash, or femslash -- if the pairing is well-developed, I'll read with an open mind.  I'm not into noncon, incest, or adult/child kinks, but have few other outright squicks as long as the relationship is age- and canon-appropriate; OTOH, I mostly don't read fanfic for sexual content.

When it comes to Yuletide, I typically request single characters, but not because I'm uninterested in romantic pairings or the other characters in a given canon.  Rather, my take is that single characters are easier for the mods to match (I may be ornery, but I'm not that diabolically evil), and that it gives you, the writer, greater flexibility as you look around for other characters in the fandom for my chosen character to hang out with.

Now, as to my specific requests:

The Lastborn of Elvinwood • Linda Haldeman )

Planet Builders • Robyn Tallis ) Windmaster's Bane series • Tom Deitz  )

Charter

This is a fanfic journal. I'm interested in a wide variety of fandoms as well as in meta- and theoretical discussions; see my interests list for specific fandom categories. Comments, critiques, recs, reviews, and the like are always welcome.
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