Horse Camp

Oct. 18th, 2010 10:05 am
coraa: (me an' pandora)
So after Sirens, [livejournal.com profile] rachelmanija and [livejournal.com profile] sartorias and I got on the road and traveled to Camp Lipizzan.

This is our third collective trip to horse camp (and my fourth trip total; I came on my own in May when I really needed to get away), and it's been delightful every time. It's a peaceful and productive time during which we can sleep, write, eat well, and play with (as our host puts it) "hot and cold running Lipizzans." On an average day at horse camp, I roll out of bed between eight and ten AM, get some breakfast, write, get some lunch, write, go out intermittently and say hello to the horses, write, have dinner, and then have great conversation after dinner. [livejournal.com profile] dancinghorse is a wonderful host, providing delicious food, a comfortable bed, and wonderful surroundings, and letting us work in peaceful solitude—and then providing fascinating evening conversation about books, writing horses, you name it. On this trip I drafted one short story (in which I solved my usual problem with plotting by dropping a snowstorm on a protagonist) and half of another, planned a third, and created a strategy for revising the pigeon book.

And, of course, the horses.

In addition to the long, peaceful bouts of writing, we got plenty of time with the horses. On Tuesday, after I drafted most of the gryphon-and-snowstorm story, I got a chance to ride Pandora (one of the lovey white mares) in the arena. I've had several lessons on Pandora, but there's something very different about just getting on Pandora and noodling around together, enjoying the evening.

I don't have any pics of me riding Pandora this time, but here's one of her saying hello )

Then on Wednesday, we had yoga with horses (or possibly horses with yoga)! What happened was that we went out to do yoga among the horses, as the name would suggest. I am stiff and not very bendy at the best of times, and after a lot of car travel is far from "the best of times," but the movements were all things I could more or less do. But the best part was the way that the horses interacted with us while we were doing yoga.

And now, with pony illustrations! Note that the pics are all via [livejournal.com profile] tcastleb, aka ComposerLady on Flickr; they're on my picasa account for ease of posting, not because they're mine. All credit for the lovely pics goes to her!

Yoga with Horses )

After we were done with the yoga, the horses lost interest and wandered off... although some of the attention hogs (hi, Khepera!) stuck around for scritches and generalized worship!

The rest of Wednesday was writing and relaxing and talking and eating, and it was totally wonderful. Then on Thursday there was a lesson, and Friday a thunderstorm and dancing (muddy) horses—pictures later!

addendum

Oct. 7th, 2010 02:07 pm
coraa: (writer)
Really pretty surroundings are not necessary to writing...

...but they surely do help!
coraa: (seattle)
So when [livejournal.com profile] rachelmanija was here, one of the things she said was that I ought to write an urban fantasy about Seattle. (There has been only one that I know of, Megan Lindholm's Wizard of the Pigeons, and that was published back in the 80s. Seattle has changed a lot since then, in a lot of ways.) I think that's a great idea, actually, especially since Seattle is Seattle: green and silver, full of mists and rain, surrounded by water, divided into dozens and dozens of little neighborhoods each with their own culture, navigated by tangled and winding streets, fringed by moss and lichen, and chock full of eccentricities. It's a city that looks westward over the water, but sees, not the distant haze of the sea-horizon, but the long green tongue of a peninsula that is so thick with growth that it merits the name "rainforest." If you look another way, you can see a beautifully arched and snowcapped mountain that just might, someday, blow its top. If you look a third way, you can see the weird alien-landing spire of the Space Needle. At Pike Place Market you can buy fruit and greens and fireweed honey and handmade quilts and grains of paradise and amethyst beads and fish that fly through the air. In the International District you can go to the summer nightmarket and eat food on sticks and shop for nori and long beans and small plastic figures of Edward Elric. At Gas Works Park you can fly a kite on a hill that stands beside a huge rusty steampunk-esque gaswork. On Alki Beach once a year you can stand on the shore of the Sound and see the pirates come in.

(I am rather fond of Seattle, can you tell?)

It's also a city with its share of gloom and black coffee; it's the home of grunge music for a reason. It's not so much a city that rains every day as one that could rain every day, the clouds low and soft for weeks at a time. And these days it's a tech city, Microsoft and Amazon and an ever-changing fuzz of startups. It's a city infamous for the Seattle Chill, which is not its cold damp climate but its tendency for inhabitants to keep themselves to themselves. It's a beautifully imperfect city, and it's a city full of soft-edged boundaries: between day and night, rain and sun, cloud and sky, mist and clear, land and water, sea and shore, Wallingford and Fremont, Belltown and Downtown and First Hill and Capitol Hill. It's a city where the street goes one way and then another and you get lost and suddenly come around a corner and see the broad silver expanse of a lake.

In other words, I think it's a perfect setting for urban fantasy.

I don't want to do vampires-and-werewolves urban fantasy, mostly because it doesn't interest me. And though Bordertown and War for the Oaks are of the kind of urban fantasy that I love, I don't think I want to do hidden faeries, either.

Instead, what I'm thinking of doing is urban fantasy like the Mabinogion. (No, that doesn't mean faerie fantasy.) What I mean by that is: in the Mabinogion, as with a lot of medieval fiction, strange things happen. There are people and beings with odd powers and odder restrictions; there are secret rules and hidden things, and a world that's a half-step away from ours. There are things you can see if you know how to look—or are taught how to look—or are cursed with being unable to look away.

In other words: I don't want to copy the mythological and folkloric figures of medieval tales, I want to copy the feel and create my own figures. No faeries, but numinous creatures and unusual mortals that are all Seattle, not transplants. And strange mist-elusive magic.

I'm not sure how doable that is. But I want to try. Perhaps I'll start with some flash fiction or short fiction and work my way up.
coraa: (me an' pandora)
Yes, I'm back already—this time for a solo camp. I'm here for the horses and writing as always, but this time the other motive was to get me some quality quiet rejuvenation time so I can plunge back into wedding planning and other such things. [livejournal.com profile] dancinghorse is a terrific hostess: great food, a comfy bed, hot and cold running Lippizans, plenty of quiet writing time, and wonderful dinner conversation.

It's been beautiful—hot, but beautiful. I'll take some desert pictures today, but just to describe it, the air is hot but perfectly dry, which is fine by me. (I'm pretty tolerant of heat as long as it's dry heat, and as long as I remember to drink plenty of water.) The sky is bright clear blue (except at night, when it's absolutely black with a crescent moon and a hojillion stars) and seems somehow higher than it does in other places. Though the earth is the red-dusty of dry ground and stones, the trees and cactus make it surprisingly green—but a very different green than the dark lush wet-green of Seattle: it's a bright, pale, stubborn yellowy-green, like the plants are saying, "We're going to hang on here despite you, sun, so there!" And when I went out earlier to say good morning to the horses, I could smell the distinctive smell of a warm desert morning, when the slowly-rising heat wakes up the scents of all the plants. It's not the moist green smell of a more temperate forest or meadow, it's a light woodsy, fragrant scent, as though everything was dusted by the contents of a good spice shop.

Yesterday I had a riding lesson, which was a lot of fun. I rode Pandora again, who I love very much. The first time I rode her in October, she was very placid and gentle and did what I asked even when I didn't ask correctly. This time she was much more difficult. At first I was worried: had I somehow got suckier in between then and now? But the trainer, Stacey, told me that it was a sign that Pandora had decided that I didn't need babysitting anymore and that it was time for me to learn to do it properly, which was heartening! Humbling, but heartening. She's a good teacher, Pandora is. (And so is Stacey.)

Pictures beneath the cut, taken by the wonderful [livejournal.com profile] tcastleb!

Me on a horse! (image heavy) )

I also got to see [livejournal.com profile] tcastleb and [livejournal.com profile] dancinghorse's lessons. [livejournal.com profile] tcastleb was riding Khepera, aka the Evil Gelding, and the two just looked beautiful together, physically perfectly matched. I got to see Khepera walk, trot and canter a little, and he has the smoothest and most beautiful gaits. [livejournal.com profile] dancinghorse was working with Camilla, who is a world-class Lippizan who had developed some fear of trainers (for good reason), but they worked through it, and my goodness, she's a beautiful horse and a beautiful mover.

I can't wait till I get to tour Raflyn Farm in Seattle and sit in on a lesson. Hopefully they'll work out for me and I can start riding regularly up there!

Today we're going to visit a mission, which has a very old and well-preserved Spanish church. I'll also get to see, sometime this weekend, what it's like when [livejournal.com profile] dancinghorse works with Ephiny, a young horse who's getting ready to start under saddle. And tomorrow and the next day, lots and lots of writing.

And sleeping. And relaxing. And being peacefully hermity in beautiful surroundings.

Hurrah!
coraa: (in search of plot)
For a long time, I believed that I just wasn't good at dialogue. The fine line between dialogue that sounds fake and dialogue that sounds too real (if you, um, ah, kno—um, know what I m-mean?) was hard for me to navigate. And my characters veered sharply between talking in witty but totally not-in-character soundbites, and being very boring.

(Incidentally, this really gave me an appreciation for the temptation of adding a Marcus Cole or a Wash to your cast: someone who you can give all those witty soundbites to without it being out of character!)

Then I came up with a book idea (the Pigeon Book) that was, by its nature, absolutely full of dialogue in a way that I couldn't avoid. And while I'm still not great at it, I'd say I'm getting better just from sheer practice. Or at least I have a better idea where to start from.

Only this makes me be afraid that my next book idea will tackle my other major weak spot: plot. (With the Pigeon Book, I'm mostly jigsawing together Cool Bits and hoping it works.) If my next book idea is an intricate political plot or something, I will... probably have it coming, actually.

What about y'all? Have you had a similar experience, where circumstances forced you to shore up a weak spot in something you love to do, whether you wanted to or not?
coraa: (pocketwatch)
I got second place in the ninth Book View Cafe twitterfic contest! Hurrah. (You can see all the winning entries on their website. Congrats to several of my friends who also got honorable mentions!)

The theme was Monsters and Machines, in conjunction with the release of their steampunk anthology, The Shadow Conspiracy, including stories from Irene Radford, Brenda Clough, and Judith Tarr. I haven't read it yet, but I'm looking forward to it, and will review here.

I entered four twitterfics; one of them got an honorable mention and the other got second place. I thought I'd create a poll to see which of them you'd most like to see expanded into a full story. (I'm putting the info about which ones got honorable mention/second place below the poll, so if you want to vote first before you see that info, you can.)

A: Some black sheep could be hidden in the attic, but not Caroline. She leapt; her brass wings arced her upward across the moon.

B: "We offer spring-loaded claws in a variety of materials and -- " "Silver," Irina interrupted. "My brothers are werewolves."

C: The Beast's daughter had her father's fangs, her mother's eyes. Hidden in her workshop, she did not cry, lest her works rust.

D: "Do not call me monstrous," she said, "just because my heart is crystal and not flesh. My sharp edges are no fault of my own."

[Poll #1500684]

And thank you for indulging me. :)

The honorable mention was A, and the second-place runner-up was D.

Posted at Livejournal and Dreamwidth. Comment here or there. comment count unavailable comments currently at DW.
coraa: (pocketwatch)
I got second place in the ninth Book View Cafe twitterfic contest! Hurrah. (You can see all the winning entries on their website. Congrats to several of my friends who also got honorable mentions!)

The theme was Monsters and Machines, in conjunction with the release of their steampunk anthology, The Shadow Conspiracy, including stories from Irene Radford, Brenda Clough, and Judith Tarr. I haven't read it yet, but I'm looking forward to it, and will review here.

I entered four twitterfics; one of them got an honorable mention and the other got second place. I thought I'd create a poll to see which of them you'd most like to see expanded into a full story. (I'm putting the info about which ones got honorable mention/second place below the poll, so if you want to vote first before you see that info, you can.)

A: Some black sheep could be hidden in the attic, but not Caroline. She leapt; her brass wings arced her upward across the moon.

B: "We offer spring-loaded claws in a variety of materials and -- " "Silver," Irina interrupted. "My brothers are werewolves."

C: The Beast's daughter had her father's fangs, her mother's eyes. Hidden in her workshop, she did not cry, lest her works rust.

D: "Do not call me monstrous," she said, "just because my heart is crystal and not flesh. My sharp edges are no fault of my own."

Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 3


Which would you most like to see written as a full-length story?

View Answers

A
1 (33.3%)

B
1 (33.3%)

C
0 (0.0%)

D
1 (33.3%)



And thank you for indulging me. :)

The honorable mention was A, and the second-place runner-up was D.

awoooo

Aug. 27th, 2009 04:55 pm
coraa: (werewolfy)
According to this video -- Against the "Alpha Male" -- natural wolfpacks rarely fit the commonly-understood stereotype of an 'alpha male,' particularly not an 'alpha male' that gets that position by fighting. Apparently that concept is somewhat outdated and doesn't seem to hold true for natural wolfpacks around the world.

If this is true, it begs for a different take on werewolf romance. Granted, I say that in part because I love werewolf stories, and do not care for romances where the male is pushy and violent and dominates the hell out of everyone including his love interest -- which is depressingly common in urban fantasy/supernatural romance that features werewolves. (Even if the woman is a werewolf, the man is almost always a stronger and pushier werewolf -- or some other kind of dominant supernatural critter, sometimes.) So of course a paradigm other than that for wolves would interest me. But still, it seems like there's some cool potential there.
coraa: (pigeon)
So, [livejournal.com profile] dancambull asked me what I was writing about, and I figured I'd answer here in case the rest of you were interested. :) In short: it's a fantasy novel, probably aimed at a YA audience. (Which doesn't, for the record, mean that it has to be fluffy or 'soft' -- I just read The Hunger Games, which is a wonderful book and pretty well refutes that particular myth. But more about that in a later post.)

The slightly longer version is that it's basically a fantasy novel in which I throw together a whole bunch of elements that I think are cool. :D A werepigeon (well, shapeshifters in general, but in this case a werepigeon), an invented secondary world, an archipelago 'nation' of semi-independent citystates, steampunk-esque anachrotech (though not Victoriana), magic based on writing systems, colleges and libraries, cloak-and-dagger machinations, and language/linguistics. Plus female characters -- the aforementioned werepigeon scavenger, her engineer friend, a city militiawoman and a priestess-mage who get drawn into the conflict, and the antagonist. (There's also a romance subplot, because I'm a sucker for a good love story.)

I can't say a lot more -- my brain is such that if I talk too much about a story before I get a draft done, I'll feel like I've already written that and my mind will be bored and itching to get to the next thing. But once I get a draft done, I can say more. :)

Might also be helpful for me to start doing status updates, for self-encouragement purposes.
coraa: (etna <3)
I now have my hotel room booked for Sirens Con! Hooray.

Now I just need to arrange my flights for that and Camp Lipizzan and I'm golden. :D

ask lj

Jun. 15th, 2009 08:29 pm
coraa: (bookses)
I am searching for books on India -- history, religion, mythology, culture. General overviews would be great to start, since my background is woefully inadequate, but if you have any more specific books that you really love, I will not turn them down. (I realize that India is a big country with a long history, and I'm not being very specific, and that's mostly because I, er, don't know enough yet to be specific.)

I am looking primarily for nonfiction for these purposes, though if you have any great fiction to recommend, I will, again, not say no.

Books by Indian or Indian American authors are particularly desirable, but good books by non-Indians will work too.

Feel free to pass the request on.

Thanks!
coraa: (forward momentum)
1. Some of you may remember that I won a registration prize for pre-registering for Anime Expo early.

Well, it arrived today, and guess what it is?

The Naruto Collectible Card game!

*cough*

Since I don't watch Naruto... or play collectible card games for series I do watch (though occasionally I will collect the cards for teh pretty), if any of you would like this, I would be happy to send it to you. I haven't opened the sealed box, but it looks like it's probably one of those starter-deck deals with a bunch of cards and stuff that you need to start playing. Also, it advertises that it has Ninja Art! Who doesn't love that?

(Note: I am actually quite charmed by the idea of a pre-registration gift, so this is in no way mocking AX. And I got an adorable green lizard keychain that I am keeping, so!)

If none of you want it, I will widen my circle of offering to people I know in fandom, and then if none of them want it, I'll... I dunno! Make ironic pop art out of it, or something.

2. My Pioneer Organics box for this two-week period showed up. It has purple cauliflower. Purple! It's very pretty although I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do with it. But still. Purple! (It might look quite nice steamed and with a white cheese sauce, now I think of it....)

3. The box also contained my order of strawberry-flavored kefir. I put it on the order out of curiosity, and I have to say it's not bad. It's quite like yogurt, unsurprisingly, except more liquidy (as befits a beverage), and quite a bit more tangy. Like, way more tangy, with a faint undertone that reminds me of very good, very sharp cheddar cheese. It wouldn't appeal to people who prefer their yogurt to not taste too yougurty, but I like it a lot. It's supposed to be good for you, but I dunno if it's actually any better for you than, say, yogurt. But still!

(As a side note: [livejournal.com profile] triath asked me some time ago why I chose Pioneer Organics of all the CSA/organic food delivery-type options in the Northwest. The answer is twofold. One: Pioneer offered a lot of types of vegetables I want to eat, and a good variety. I didn't want to go with a purely-local-CSA project, because, to be frank, I want something other than apples, onions and potatoes between November and April. I also liked that I can exclude things I don't want, add recurring orders for things like garlic and ginger that I'm going to want every order, and throw on things like free-range beef and, well, kefir, if I feel like it. But more important was Two: you can sign up online, manage your account online, have people deliver it to your door, and never have to go anywhere or interact with anyone to do it. If I have to print out an order form, go to a pickup location, or talk to someone on the phone to manage my account, I just won't. So Pioneer handling everything online was a big bonus. At any rate, I've been happy with the cost and service, and very happy with the quality of the produce, after three deliveries.)

4. I am, uh. Working on three stories right now. "The Coppersmith's Salamander," "Feather in the Gears," and "The Bear Who Wards Against Drunkenness." There's also a piece that begins "Elves love freeways," but I can't get anything of that beyond the first sentence....

5. Tonight, [livejournal.com profile] 2gouda4u, [livejournal.com profile] thegreatgonz and [livejournal.com profile] marvinalone come over to watch more FMA. If memory serves me (I love saying that, it makes me feel like the Chairman), the next few episodes are Scar-heavy episodes. Wheeee. Tormented Scar is Tormented. And talks to his arm. I love that shit.
coraa: (smug)
1300 words tonight on Feather in the Gears, despite stomach cramps and general work-tiredness. Lai has just agreed to repair Evije's broken thing at a lower-than-usual price, with repercussions that neither of them are going to see until it's too late. I think. I hope.

Time. For. Bed. But: hooray.
coraa: (greenwild)
1. I stumbled upon Infusions of Grandeur, a site where a pair of Mad Scienticians (sic) make an exciting variety of vodka infusions. They start by quintuple-filtering the cheapest back-of-the-bottom-shelf vodka through a Pur water filter -- this removes a lot of the impurities that make cheap vodka unpleasant. (The vodka still isn't shooting-grade or anything, but it's smooth and neutral which makes it perfect for infusing, and anyway infusions would be kind of a waste of genuinely good vodka anyway.) They then steep a wide and exciting variety of things in the vodka for varying lengths of time, testing as they go.

This method has resulted in fruit vodkas (like apple, lime, orange, and pineapple), nut vodkas (almond and coconut), spice vodkas (cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, vanilla, etc.), infusions-that-are-actually-suspensions/solutions (caramel, honey and chocolate vodkas), and more... esoteric infusions (garlic -- which apparently makes a good marinade -- and chile pepper). I want to get a back-of-the-bottom-shelf vodka, a water filter pitcher and some spare filters, and some infusion materials, and make some. (Caramel and chocolate and cinnamon and vanilla and apple and coffee and strawberry sound good -- that is, individually, not in one big mix, of course -- and there are a couple of infusions that are perfect for filling holes in my gift list....)

2. This author promo written by a romance writer (video on YouTube, mild/humorous sexual references -- nothing explicit, but I probably wouldn't watch at work) is absolutely freaking hilarious. It's so good to see someone with a sense of humor about their own genre and writing!

3. I have settled on a name for my steampunk ball persona: Lady Cordelia Jameson Peabody. (I'm trying without much success to convince Pav that he wants to go as Doctor Justinian M. Pavastone, but he's not biting.) Cordelia is a Gentlewoman Scholar of diverse Interests and some Means, and a widow, who has an interest (an academic interest, she maintains) in studies natural, mechanical and occult.

4. More BPAL. Rather than try to pick out individual scents (which it turns out I kind of suck at, and also, if you want that there are a million people on the BPAL forums who can do it brilliantly), I'm just giving impressions.

Dragon's Eye; Bow and Crown of Conquest; Centzon Totochtin; Coyote )
coraa: (steampunk)
Thud.



It's not done -- the whole of it will probably be 90,000 to 120,000 -- but I'm happy with my start. Yay!

And an excerpt -- very, very rough:

Read more... )
coraa: (steampunk)
The boy and I should have been out the door and heading to his father's a while ago, but I can't really regret the delay for two reasons:

1) A few days ago, I bought a lot of watch parts on eBay, and they arrived. They're astonishingly beautiful -- tiny perfect brass and silver gears, frozen-in-time watchfaces, long coiling mainsprings, rounded glass watchfaces. I'll be able to make all kinds of interesting things for my steampunk costume, and probably for other art projects too.

2) I had a highly entertaining (and fairly plotty!) dream. It's beginning to fade, so I will preserve it for posterity )
coraa: (inspiration)
This week, something different. I wrote this poem two years ago, in response to [livejournal.com profile] nanowripo. I don't write poetry usually -- prose is more my thing -- but, well, I've always mourned the fact that my birthday month gets short shrift -- not quite the harvesty goodness of September or October, not quite the holiday cheer and winteryness of December. But it's my month, darn it. I make no claims that the poem is very good; as I said, I don't write poetry, and I didn't edit this one between then and now, so it's also my writing two years old. But enough apologizing

This is a poem about winter in Southern California, because that's where I was when I wrote it, though some of it applies to Seattle, too.

hinge

the colors of November are soft
mild mellow -- slipping quietly
from one shade to another:
sunlight like poured honey, morning mists
gold-touched brown and red-touched yellow
dusty bluegreen tree-needles

now, the world stands in its hinge-time
in the north, a pause from warm to cold
light to dark
lively to sleeping
here in the softening south, the season turns another way:
brown to green
dry to wet
death to life at the beginning of the cool-time, the raining-time
standing at the threshold of winter in the desert

imported trees die into winter as native ones go quietly
greening into the rainseason

sink into cool and quiet
into slanted sunlight, softening clouds
as on the opposite roof the mothercat lies
a well-deserved rest
finally having weaned the last of her rowdy summer kittens
coraa: (forward momentum)
AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

I've figured out what was wrong with my novel. And it's fixable. It doesn't even require many changes to what I have so far (and what changes it does need I'll make a note of, and do later). (It needs to be in multiple POV instead of single POV, and Devlet isn't a member of the Corps -- Thorkatla is the Corps member, which I knew, but I thought they were colleagues, and they aren't. All three POVs are female, which I suppose isn't too surprising from me. Well, apart form the bits of the POV from the genderless non-human.)

God, that's satisfying. Only problem is now I have to wait until work's over to actually implement.

NaNo, day 3

Nov. 4th, 2007 01:51 am
coraa: (pigeon)
Back in the saddle again!

Words Today: 2941
Total Words: 5371
Sentence of the Day: "Salih waited for her in a booth toward the back, along with Tsindhya, and she forced herself not to freeze and turn around when she saw Tsindhya's starved-predator shape, the irridescent scales on his-her body, the long glowing eyes and the face as carved and unreadable as a mask."
Creature Comforts: Tea.
Background Noise: The boy playing Phoenix Wright. (OBJECTION!)
Scent du Jour: Centzon Totochtin
Image of the Day: A Trap
Reason for Stopping: Drowsy.

Things have gone from Bad to Worse for our protagonist. Also, I need to work in soon that she's keeping secrets because keeping this particular secret is A Good Idea, not because she's an emo kid....

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