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kylecassidy July 22 2014, 06:45

New Photo: Joan of Arc

A few weeks ago trillian_stars and I were sitting around in the living room and I thought aloud that there really wasn't anything that I could think of that I wanted that I didn't actually have and trillian_stars said something like "Well, I could use a suit of plate armor...." and I realized that was very true.

So ... I took to Twitter, as one does, and this was rapidly resolved.

Joan of Arc was a military general, she was a resistance fighter, she was a martyr, and so many other things. I realized as the armor showed up that if you're a boy and someone gives you plate armor, you're Brain Boru, or you're William the Conqueror, or you're Ivanhoe, or you're King Arthur and when you show up at Mr. Wilson's doorstep on Halloween they need to guess five times to figure it out, but when you're a girl in armor everybody says "Oh, you're Joan of Arc", or "You're Eowyn" but that's the extent of it ... and that's not really a good thing.

But if you're going to be Jeanne d'Arc ... we thought we needed to do it well.

Clickenzee to Embiggen!

Lighting is the giant Photoek Softlighter II and and a Pocket Wizard, triggered by a Nikon d800. The corpse is yagathai, of course.

I think it's important to note that Joan of Arc was executed not for sedition, or for war crimes, or anything like that, but rather she was sentenced to death for wearing mens clothes ... and when people make vague complaints about The Patriarchy part of that is the idea that it's OK to kill someone because you think their gender is confused, not that they've done something horrible.

There are lots of great pieces of art inspired by Joan of Arc. Mark Twain wrote a novel about her which he later said was the most important thing he'd ever written -- more important than Huckleberry Finn, more important than The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, more important than anything else.

I really admire Theodore Dreyser's film "The Passion of Joan of Arc", but I also love Neil Gaiman's song as part of 8in8 "the problem with saints".

So, Joan, and everybody who's put on a skirt or pants when people thought they shouldn't have, or who are fighting an occupying army -- this one's for you.

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leyosura posted to little_details July 21 2014, 22:20

Poisoning - toxic paint pigments

Thank you in advance for your help with this one.

My story is set in the late 18th century in Europe, and I have been trying to research poisoning by the ingestion of highly toxic paint pigments.

The best candidates for this seem to be vermillion (which contains cinnabar, a compound of mercury) or orpiment (which contains an arsenic compound). I have researched poisoning by both arsenic and mercuric compounds, but most of the data I come across seems to be about the effects of long-term, gradual poisoning.

My question is, would it be possible to for someone to be killed relatively quickly by ingesting one of these pigments? By quickly, I mean over a few hours or at most a couple of days. If so, what sort of quantity of the pigment would be required? How would the symptoms of ingesting a large quantity quickly differ from the effects of long-term poisoning?

Is there any other paint pigment used in the 18th century that would kill somebody this quickly? If so, what quantity would someone need to ingest and what would be the symptoms of poisoning?

I have searched for toxicity of paint pigments, cinnabar poisoning, mercury poisoning, orpiment poisoning, ingestion of cinnabar, etc, but I can't seem to find anything on the quantities that would be required.

Many thanks for your help.

cmpriest July 21 2014, 21:07

They tell me I was born there, but I really don't remember

Here's recent progress on my witchy art-deco horror novel about Lizzie Borden thirty years after her parents' deaths - now featuring ghosts and non-ghosts alike, anti-Catholic conspiracy nuts, supernatural political shenanigans, the mafia, and a Bonus! space-worshiping murder cult hiding behind the KKK:

    Project: Chapelwood
    Deadline: October 1, 2014
    New words written: 3040 (pretty good)
    Present total word count: 104,598

    Things accomplished in fiction: This castle sucks ass, y'all.

    Things accomplished in real life: Neighborhood jaunts with dog; dog play-date over at a friend/neighbor's place; housework; yardwork; naps.

    Yardwork Other: I got the new growth from those old roses lifted off the ground and affixed to trellises, yay! I also edged most of the yard with the trimmer, and did some weeding. Weeding is never glamorous, but I do love the finished result.

    (The middle rose is heavily shaded by the dogwood in the front yard. Thus it hasn't quite matched the progress of the other two. Still, it's going strong! Those are 5-ft. trellises, for scale. [Minus the "feet" planted in the ground.])

    Four-footed Other: Greyson's play-date with the wildly misnamed "Cujo" went well, except for how he totally got put in his place by an 18-year-old kitty who was NOT HAVING ANY OF HIS CRAP. Or his friendship. I keep telling him he'd have more feline company if he could keep his cool upon meeting them, but, yanno. He's still young and enthusiastic, and big and clumsy. AND FULL OF LOVE, I assure you - but it's hard to assure a 5-pound geriatric kitty of any such thing.

    Other than that (well deserved, frankly) cat paw upside the nose, he and The Kooj (as I've come to think of him) had a most excellent time. They received nibbles of cinnamon rolls, and got to root around under an old garage. For dog funsies :)

    Number of fiction words so far this year: 137,991
redheadedfemme July 21 2014, 19:04

My tweets

aprilhenry July 21 2014, 18:08

How the writing process REALLY works

I used to write books just for me. No publisher was waiting for them (although I certainly had the fantasy that once publishers saw the finished book they would fight each other to publish it). And the books were done when they were done.

Now most of my books - I’ve had 17 published in 15 years - are written under contract, which means they have a fixed due date. (Although I still sneak off to work on a “spec” book now and then, like a married woman making out with some hot guy from her Body Pump class in the parking lot of the gym.)

My current writing process is:

  • One year before the book is due: I have plenty of time. And I deserve to relax after how hard I worked to get the last book done. I might make some notes and brainstorm a little. After I clean out the basement.

  • Nine months before: This plot idea is intriguing. The characters are starting to seem like real people. Maybe I should create a thorough outline instead of just plunking away at it.

  • Six months before: The outline is finished. This is going to be so easy. I should outline all the time! I’ll just take it step by step, like paint by numbers. The book is practically going to write itself now that I have all the hard work done. I think I’ll call my friend and go out for ice-cream to celebrate.

  • Three months before: Holy crap! This outline doesn’t work at all. And why do my characters keep doing things I never planned on them doing? This one guy was meant to be a secondary character, but for some reason he thinks he’s the real love interest. And my main character refuses to do this one dangerous thing the outline says she should do. She says it’s a bad idea.

  • Two months before: I will never be done in time. Never. The only way I can do it is to write two thousand words a day, every single day. Didn’t manage more than three hundred today? No problem, I’ll make it up tomorrow.

  • Two weeks before: There’s too much blood in my caffeine stream. I’m writing like a mad woman. But I can do it. If I just give up on this sleeping thing.

  • Due date: There. Finished. Is it any good? I’ve read it over, but to be honest, I have no idea. I hit the send key. I really should celebrate. Or work on that other book that’s due. But how long has it been since I swept behind the couch?

scatterheart posted to mourning_souls July 21 2014, 18:06

Olšanské hřbitovy, Czech Republic

I went on a weekend trip to Prague last week, and of course cemeteries are always the first places I choose to visit. This one is absolutely beautiful and was well worth the long walk out of the more touristy districts. (You can take the tram, but walking several kilometers in the midday heat seemed like a good idea at the time...) It's also huge, and I'm sure I missed at least half of it. Next time!

This cemetery has some of the most beautiful grave markers I've seen.Collapse )I also got to visit Sedlec Ossuary, but I'm not sure if that falls under the theme for this community. If it does and there's interest in pictures, I'll add them later!
domynoe July 21 2014, 16:07

My tweets

ys_melmoth posted to rural_ruin July 21 2014, 15:28

Abandoned tide mill - Logonna-Daoulas (Britanny, France)

A tide mill existed here since the early 16th century, but the actual building was erected in 1852 - 1853. Sold in 1885, it alternately became a reception centre for refugiees, a German military hospital, a (French) military school for officers, a danse hall and eventually a restaurant, before it was abandoned in 2002.
I would have loved to enter the place, but there was too many people around to try to get over the railings.

Click for moreCollapse )

♠ ♠ ♠
ys_melmoth posted to abandonedplaces July 21 2014, 15:19

Abandoned tide mill - Logonna Daoulas (Britanny, France)

A tide mill existed here since the early 16th century, but the actual building was erected in 1852 - 1853. Sold in 1885, it alternately became a reception centre for refugiees, a German military hospital, a (French) military school for officers, a danse hall and eventually a restaurant, before it was abandoned in 2002.
I would have loved to enter the place, but there was too many people around to try to get over the railings.

Click for moreCollapse )

♠ ♠ ♠
kylecassidy July 21 2014, 15:13

In which I photograph Weird Al

Congrats to Al & his band (& Amanda Palmer) on their fight to the top of the Billboard charts.

I was happy to be able to photograph Al with the kind assistance of shadowcaptain who acted here as the Voice Activated Light Stand. I'm very happy with the way it came out.

Lighting was a single strobe in the small Photek Softlighter II (the 30 inch one), Nikon d700.

Al was awesome.

Weird Al. Clickenzee to EmWeirden!

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swan_tower July 21 2014, 14:59

A Year in Pictures – Iron Rail in Ivy

Iron Rail in Ivy
Creative Commons License
This work by http://www.swantower.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

I’m saving most of my Highgate Cemetery pictures for October, but here’s one that isn’t so much of a grave as a piece of a grave that fell off and landed in the ivy. (This is not difficult to achieve at Highgate. Missing the ivy when it fell would have been a remarkable achievement.)

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

This entry was also posted at http://swan-tower.dreamwidth.org/669695.html. Comment here or there.
jimhines July 21 2014, 13:31

Detcon1 Pics

Detcon1 was tremendous fun. The volunteers who spent the past two years working to make this happen have a lot to be proud of.

I hope to have some thoughts and write-up once my brain wakes up, but in the meantime, I’ve posted some of my photos from the weekend. I was lugging the camera around pretty much everywhere, and while not all of my shots turned out, I’m rather happy with some of them.

Folks who were on the other end of my lens — that sounds odd — might note that I haven’t posted a certain set of pics yet. I’m hoping to do something a little different with those.

Detcon 1 Photos on Flickr

Here are a few of my favorites:

I took a selfie at opening ceremonies. Author GoH Steven Barnes YA Author GoH Nnedi Okorafor Tobias Buckell and I were having a moment. Detroit at night, viewed from my hotel room.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

jbknowles July 21 2014, 13:05

Maybe I was wrong...

Hello and welcome to Week #3 of Teachers Write! I hope you're all having a wonderful time writing and creating and thinking and learning. I know I have!

Today I want to talk about moments of clarity. Moments of realization. In real life, these can come like a slap to the forehead, or sometimes more deeply, like a fist to the heart. I'm going to give an example.

Last week, my son and I spent five days volunteering for Habitat for Humanity. We got up early, met with an incredibly inspiring group of people, received our goals for the day, and got to work. By the end of the day we'd be tired and sweaty, and extremely grimy. My job for most of the week was putting up vinyl siding which had been stored in a wet spot of ground that received little sun. Each strip was covered in mud, leaves, pine needles and a fair amount of slugs which I continuously stuck my fingers in. We'd sweep the siding off (there was no electricity or running water for a hose) cut it with what we lovingly called "snips" which had my hands bruised by the end of the week, and cross our fingers that we'd measured correctly and hung them true. Most of the time, our fearless leader would come around the corner, inspect our work, and have us start over. It was difficult, and frustrating, but we kept our sense of humor.

As you can imagine, coming home to electricity, water, soap and (honestly) a toilet, was pretty nice. On one day, I went out to check our blueberry bushes and discovered several were ripe and ready to eat! Plus, they were HUGE. Beautiful, plump and oh so sweet. I took a photo of one and posted it on Facebook. Then, since I'd been away from electronics all day, I started to read headlines from the BBC, and catch up with friends' posts. And I realized that while I was off feeling so good about building this home and then celebrating the glory of a blueberry, horrifying events were happening. In that moment, I thought of that stupid blueberry photo and how insensitive and lost in my world I'd been. It was my punch to the heart moment.

Here's what I wrote on my Facebook wall:

"After I posted my blueberry photo, I realized how crazy and selfish it is to post a photo of an especially large blueberry when there is so much horrific violence going on around the world. And close to home, learning of the tragic death of a woman who babysat for us when we were kids. I am thinking about all the people who are touched by grief every day. Every day there are horrors and tragedies. And every day there are things like the wonder of a blueberry you picked from a bush you've been nurturing for ten and a half years. And every day there are cats doing cute things. And baby photos posted by a proud new grandparent. Every day there is sadness. And every day there is joy. And every day there is love. And who gets what every day seems to be a cruel crapshoot. And I don't know what to do about that except try to remember it. And try to be more kind. So I am sorry about the blueberry. But I am also grateful for it. Maybe more so because it grows despite the sorrow."

After that initial punch of guilt over the blueberry I realized that the world continues to spin no matter what happens on it. I have had my share of grief and I know what it feels like to not understand how this is so. There have been days in deep sorrow when I couldn't understand how people could keep going on with their daily lives, oblivious to the pain next door. But they do. We all do, eventually. And this, too, is another type of moment of clarity, or realization: That when faced with despair, we have a choice. We can feel the despair, and carry on trying to make the world a better place, or we can feel the despair and let it win.

The day after the blueberry incident, after feeling that despair and anger over all that senseless killing, I was filled with more determination than ever. I wasn't changing the world, but small acts of good work add up, and they do make the world a little better. I really believe that. I went back to that frustrating siding with a vengeance. I was determined to work harder. To make that house more beautiful. Liveable. Loveable. It fueled me. On the last day, we nailed the final piece of siding up. But the walls were still dirty-looking and it was hard to feel 100% proud. So another woman and I (she is a teacher!) filled a bucket with water from a nearby stream, got some rags, and washed every last strip until it looked new. We had to refill that darn bucket over and over because the water got muddy so fast. I fell in the stream up to my knee and had to spend half the day with one wet foot. It was gross and stinky but I didn't care. Because in the end, the siding did look just like new.

So what does all of this have to do with fiction? I would argue that this is how stories work. The protagonist makes a big realization, usually early on in the story, and it's what sets the story in motion. It's how quests begin. They hinge on a choice: give up or carry on and try to fix the problem. Fixing the problem, solving the mystery, trying to survive, whatever the situation, that's your story. And whatever it is that fuels your character to try, that's your characterization.

So what, specifically, is your character's big realization and what fuels him or her to try to make things better, or survive?

I started this entry talking about my work with that gross siding. And it seemed like kind of a drawn out story to get to my point. But I told it because of all the parallels I see in writing, and in particular revision. We almost never get it right the first time. We think we've measured correctly, or at least well enough, but when we step back and look, we can see it's a little off balance. So we take things down. We get help. We get feedback. we remeasure. We try again. We get dirty. We get frustrated. (Luckily there are no slugs!) But something in us doesn't let us give up. Something fuels us to keep going. And eventually, we get it right. Then we clean it up. And hopefully we feel good about it. Hopefully we feel proud. :-)

Today, I want you to think about your story, your protagonist, and what he or she is facing. Why is his or her story important to you? Why is this story worth telling? Try filling in the blanks:

This is a story about a _________________ who realizes/learns that _____________________________________________________ . So, he/she __________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________ .

This story is important to me because ______________________________________________ .


If you aren't working on a particular story, try writing to the prompt, "Maybe I was wrong..."

I hope you'll share what you come up with!

And as always, have fun. :-)


My son and I, working for Habitat for Humanity
beth_bernobich July 21 2014, 13:02

Guest Post: D. B. Jackson and The Women in Thieftaker's Chronicles

I'm delighted to present a guest blog post from D.B. Jackson (aka, David B. Coe) about the women in his urban fantasy series, The Thieftaker's Chronicles...

I am something of an oddity in today’s urban fantasy market: I am a man writing books that center on a male protagonist. I’m not the only one, of course. I hear that some guy named Butcher is doing pretty well with this formula, and Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim books are also receiving well-earned critical and commercial attention. But the fact is that right now urban fantasy is being written predominantly by women, about women. And women are writing some pretty incredible books: the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs, the Jane Yellowrock books by Faith Hunter, the Walker Papers by C.E. Murphy, the Rachel Morgan books by Kim Harrison, the Greywalker series from Kat Richardson…I could go on, but you get the picture.

What sets my Thieftaker Chronicles (Thieftaker, Thieves’ Quarry, and A Plunder of Souls) apart somewhat from these others is that it’s actually historical urban fantasy set in pre-Revolutionary Boston. Writing in that time period would seem to make incorporating strong female characters into my story lines next to impossible, but you might be surprised. Colonial Era social norms and economic realities actually allowed women greater freedom than many assume, and that has allowed me to surround my male protagonist with strong, dynamic, and entertaining female characters.

I don’t want to give the mistaken impression that the second half of the eighteenth century was some sort of golden age for women’s rights. It wasn’t. This is the era, after all, that brought us “universal” white male suffrage. But by the same token, the strict circumscription of women’s freedoms that many of us have spent the better part of a century trying to undo, is more a product of nineteenth and early twentieth century society. The fact is that life in the pre-Revolutionary era was difficult and North American Colonial communities could hardly afford to restrict half of their populations to the parlor room. Women in 1760s Boston were shop owners, innkeepers, and craftswomen; many enjoyed economic independence that would have been unheard of one hundred years later. True, a good number of these women were widows, who gained some economic advantage from their husbands’ estates. But their freedoms were hard-won, and they held fast to them after dealing with the tragedy of their spouses’ deaths.

Perhaps it’s not surprising, therefore, that one of the key female characters in the Thieftaker books is Kannice Lester, the widowed owner of a tavern called the Dowsing Rod. She is young for a widow, having lost her husband to the smallpox epidemic that struck Boston in 1761. But she is a savvy business woman and a strict disciplinarian who does not permit fighting, smuggling, or any discussion of religion or politics in her establishment. Unless she happens to be the one holding forth on the villainy of the Crown and the virtues of Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty. She can go drink for drink with any man and has been known to tell stories that would make a sailor blush. She’s fiercely independent, but also is in love with Ethan Kaille, the thieftaking, conjuring hero of the series.

Theirs has been a fun romance to write, in large part because their love affair is already well-established. I didn’t write about the heady early days when they first fell in love, but rather have focused on the later years of their relationship, when as a couple they sometimes have to work at overcoming their political disagreements (Ethan is a loyalist, at least early on in the series), and at dealing with his selfishness or her stubbornness. She is in the wrong as often as he, which, I believe, makes their relationship that much more interesting and realistic for my readers. And I will admit that I’m a little bit in love with her myself.

The second key female character in the Thieftaker books is Tarijanna Windcatcher. Janna is an older woman who claims to be of West Indian descent, although some have claimed that she is an escaped slave. She was orphaned at sea and rescued by a wealthy sea merchant from Newport. Janna never knew her family name and so took Windcatcher simply because she liked the sound of it. When she grew into adulthood, her wealthy benefactor fell in love with her, and though they could not marry because of her race, they remained together for many years. When he died, he left her with enough money to ensure her freedom for the rest of her days. She moved to Boston, where she opened a tavern of her own: the Fat Spider. Like Ethan, Janna is a conjurer, perhaps the most accomplished and knowledgeable conjurer in all of Boston. She calls herself a “marriage smith,” and she makes most of her coin selling love magick in the form of spells, potions, and collections of herbs. She is cantankerous, often to the point of rudeness, and she does not suffer fools. She’s often hostile to Ethan when he comes to her with questions about spells because, as she puts it, “there’s no coin in that for me.” But she is a true friend when he needs one.

Perhaps the most important female character in the Thieftaker Chronicles is Sephira Pryce, Ethan’s lovely and deadly rival in thieftaking. Sephira is based loosely on a true historical figure—Jonathan Wild, London’s most infamous thieftaker, who built a lucrative criminal empire for himself by hiring men to steal goods and then later returning them for a finder’s fee. In other words, he was responsible for nearly all the crimes he “solved.” Sephira is similarly corrupt, and so is a natural nemesis for my honest thieftaking hero. She is brilliant, beautiful, canny, skilled with both fist and blade, and utterly ruthless. And yet, she is also funny and at times a deeply sympathetic character. She has a wonderful, full-throated laugh that Ethan likes despite himself, even though it’s too often directed at him.

Ethan’s rivalry with Sephira forms the dramatic core of every Thieftaker novel. They are Yin and Yang—she is attractive, influential, wealthy. She has a coterie of toughs in her employ, and hobnobs with some of Boston’s most famous and powerful people. Ethan is older than she and bears the scars of a hard life. He is a loner, an ex-convict who lives day-to-day, job-to-job, shilling-to-shilling; he works alone and has few friends, though those he has he trusts. He has access to magick, which is how he is able to compete with her in the streets of Boston. Yet, on occasion—as in A Plunder of Souls, the newest Thieftaker novel, which has just been released by Tor Books—they are forced to work together, or at least to cooperate. And though neither would admit it, they have as many attributes in common as not: tenacity, intellect, resourcefulness. They are natural enemies, but if they weren’t they would be fast friends, if that makes sense. It’s a complicated relationship and tremendous fun to write. I will admit that of all the female characters in the books, Sephira is probably the one whose station in life is the least realistic from a historical point of view. But I don’t really care, because she’s my favorite character.

I chose to have Ethan as my protagonist because I wanted my lead character to come to the books with a certain life history—Ethan was a sailor in the British navy, a mutineer, a prisoner at hard labor on a sugar plantation. I could not have given that history to a female character without stretching my historical accuracy to the breaking point. But the strong, intelligent, challenging female characters with whom he interacts are what make the series work. And as the father of strong, intelligent, at times challenging daughters, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

D.B. Jackson is also David B. Coe, the award-winning author of more than a dozen fantasy novels. His first two books as D.B. Jackson, the Revolutionary War era urban fantasies, Thieftaker and Thieves’ Quarry, volumes I and II of the Thieftaker Chronicles, are both available from Tor Books in hardcover and paperback. The third volume, A Plunder of Souls, has recently been released in hardcover. The fourth Thieftaker novel, Dead Man’s Reach, is in production and will be out in the summer of 2015. D.B. lives on the Cumberland Plateau with his wife and two teenaged daughters. They’re all smarter and prettier than he is, but they keep him around because he makes a mean vegetarian fajita. When he’s not writing he likes to hike, play guitar, and stalk the perfect image with his camera.


Here's where you can read more about David and his series:

stephanieburgis July 21 2014, 12:39

The return of an old friend, chocolate bribes and reading recs

It's just over 3 weeks until "Courting Magic" will come out, so here's the second teaser! The return of an old friend... :)


Did you guys guess that Lucy (from Renegade Magic/A Tangle of Magicks) would return? I hope that at least some readers will be happy to have her back - I loved getting to write her all grown up!

I am SO looking forward to sharing this story with you guys! And in perfect timing, we're busy packing for our American trip, so I'm afraid all of my American family members will be forced to scour the manuscript for typos over the next couple of weeks...hmm, maybe I should pack some chocolate bribes, now that I come to think of it! ;)

I'm also packing a few pieces of Kat-themed jewelry to bring along to my event at the East Lansing library next Wednesday. I'll have to think of a good way to give them away there!

Now it's time for a last local library visit with my kids - and then maybe a sneak-writing session later on. Nearly finished with another chapter of Family Magic!

I hope you guys are all having a good week. And I'd love to hear about any American books you've read recently and LOVED, so that I can look for them myself while I'm there!

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