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The High Holidays: goofiness counts, too

DREYDL
I did end up going to Simchat Torah ("rejoicing in the Torah") services at Romemu yesterday - and enjoyed every minute of it! We danced and sang in the synagogue, holding each other, holding the torah scrolls, dressed in their silver and embroidery, like a child or a lover in our arms. All that joy and ritual over a TEXT - a collection of carefully-preserved and collected words . . . (made me think, only half-jokingly, that we should have a similar community ceremony at WFC for LOTR and a handful of other Ur Texts!).

But it also reminded me that singing and dancing are as much enjoined on us for the High Holidays as fasting is on Yom Kippur. It's all part of this 40-day continuum. It is a shame that most of us (myself included) usually only go for the painful one, and skip the joy and general goofiness. --Or the sensuality of carrying - and smelling - the etrog & lulav around the synagogue - and then eating outdoors in a Sukka smelling of autumn fruits and leaves - for Succoth…. Something to remember: take the Yom Kippur fast seriously, but remember that it is just part of a whole that includes these others, and give them equal measure.

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GREY SWEATER ALERT!!!

Madame J. (closeup)
Yes, my friends, the Grey Sweater is this year’s Fashion Must.

How do I know this?

Well, last night, after a delightful evening at the Cirque Alfonse, followed by dinner at L’A.O.C. in New York’s now fashionable Greenwich Village, Delia Sherman & I walked to the subway along the it-used-to-be-funky-and-weird but is now nauseatingly full of trendy and unaffordable big-name boutiques Bleecker Street … and what did we see in *every* window (on mannequins you wouldn’t bring home to meet your mother)? At least one - sometimes 2 or even 3 GREY SWEATERS!!!

Truth.

And what was I wearing? The dear little grey sweater that Delia knit me 2 years ago.

I leave you to draw your own conclusions.

My LonCon3 Schedule

medal

Imagining Fantasy Lands: The Status Quo Does Not Need Worldbuilding

Friday 16:30 – 18:00, Capital Suite 11 (ExCeL)
Mary Anne Mohanraj (M), Tobias Buckell, Kate Elliott, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, Ellen Kushner

Fantasy world-building sometimes comes under fire for its pedantic attention to detail at the expense of pacing or prose style. Do descriptive passages clog up the narrative needlessly, when reader imagination should be filling in the gaps? Where does that leave the landscapes and cultures that are less well represented in the Western genre: can world-building be a tool in subverting reader expectations that would otherwise default to pseudo-medieval Euro-esque? If fantasy is about defamiliarising the familiar, how important is material culture - buildings, furnishings, tools, the organisation of social and commercial space - in creating a fantasy world?
Note: the title of this panel is a reference to Kate Elliott's essay:
http://www.kateelliott.com/wordpress/index.php/2013/09/the-status-quo-does-not-need-world-building/

Reading: Ellen Kushner
Friday 18:00 - 18:30, London Suite 1 (ExCeL)

:25 - what shall I read??  Something old & well-loved . . . or the WIP?


Translation-Wish, Translation-Obstacles
Friday, Capital Suite 6 (Level 3), 8pm - 9pm

Many of us have read work in our own languages that we would love to propose to Anglophone publishers.  But how to fund a rough translation of such work?  The Interstitial Arts Foundation is looking to create a new initiative to bring translators together with national and international funders to create a way to make something happen!

- I'm not on this one, but I am its Faerie Godmother, so I'll be there! If you're interested in the Interstitial Arts Foundation, this will be a good time to meet some people & talk about it, too.


Autographing 2 - Ellen Kushner

Saturday 13:30 - 15:00, Autographing Space (ExCeL)
o god, please come and hang out with me!!!!  No one is going to want that many autographs, and I am honor bound to sit there for an hour and a half, feeling like an idiot and staring off into space or trying to look busy!  A great time to come say Hi, introduce yourself, offer me small but precious gifts, or just sit around talking about books and shoes. I will be a sitting duck.

Literary Beer

Saturday 17:00 - 18:00, The Bar (ExCeL)
All of the Above, but with Beer. YOU HAVE TO SIGN UP FOR THIS ONE IN ADVANCE (AT THE CON).

Imagining the City

Saturday 19:00 - 20:00, Capital Suite 7+12 (ExCeL)

Science fiction and fantasy are filled with memorable imaginary cities, from Minas Tirith to New Crobuzon, Trantor to Vorbarr Sultana. How do writers imagine their cities? What are the advantages and disadvantages of creating a city from scratch versus using one or more existing models? And are there differences in how SF and fantasy approach this task?
- Cannot wait for this one!!

You've Ruined It For Me

Sunday 19:00 - 20:00, Capital Suite 3 (ExCeL)

Screen adaptations of genre works are big business, and fan conversation about them often revolves around issues of accuracy and deviation. But what are the other discussions we could be having about the relationship between novel and film? How does our experience of an adaptation shape the way we read a particular book, whether for the first time or on a re-read? Is it possible, any more, to talk about The Lord of the Rings without reference to Peter Jackson? Are 'book purists' too defensive against what is, after all, simply someone else's reading of a work with a budget, or do blockbuster adaptations carry a popular cultural weight that makes them hard to escape?
 [MODERATOR! 'Cause what the hell do I know about movies?  But there is The SwordsmanWhose Name was Not Death….. Do you think the play just ruined the book?]

2 LonCon hotel rooms available

Madame de Jurjewicz
ETA:  ***BOTH ROOMS HAVE BEEN TAKEN (PENDING PAYMENT).  IF ANYTHING FALLS THROUGH, I'LL LET YOU KNOW.  MEANWHILE, THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO WROTE & SIGNAL-BOOSTED.  I AM SO RELIEVED - AND DELIGHTED THAT MY FOLLY IS BENEFITING OTHER LONCON ATTENDEES! ***

Due to my own stupidity, I am blessed (or cursed) with a spare set of rooms for LonCon3 which I do not need but cannot cancel and must therefore pay for:
2 rooms at the Ibis Styles London Excel-custom House Hotel, right across from the convention center & next to the tube stop for easy escape from ExCel-land.
I booked 5 nights each (August 13 - 18) for:

* 1 Standard double, GBP 540
* 1 Superior Double, GBP 590


All offers gratefully considered.
Please feel free to pass this on to any friends who might be wavering about attending, or who were not able to book at hotels close to ExCel, or who signed on for a super-crowded share and have since thought better of it....

I can be reached directly on gmail at KUSHNER (dot) ELLEN etc.

Delia & I WILL be attending the con - but I subsequently booked us at another hotel and then forgot to cancel this one. I do hope my carelessness will allow someone else to get a good room at a good rate!  All offers gratefully considered, however small.  I'll feel a whole lot better knowing someone will get the good of it!

ETA:  And, no, we do not sleep in separate hotel rooms - the second room is for a friend!

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KING LEAR in Central Park

*Simon van Alphen by Nicolaes Maes
We saw Lithgow & co's KING LEAR last night at Shakespeare in the Park. Well worth seeing.  Really really smart and interesting direction. Lear & Fool's relationship best I've ever seen:  Fool genuinely bitter about Cordelia's loss at first, all his jokes barbed - then he takes over as Lear's glue & caretaker:  "Keep me in temper" spoken to him and not the gods.  And Edmund a classic Shakespearean sociopath - dispassionate & charming & in cahoots with the audience - in a line with Richard III & Iago - he should always be played that way!  Because of miking, every word crystal clear & some vocal subtlety allowed.  Best Lear-Edgar-Kent-Fool ("I took you for a joint-stool") scene ever, because they were ALL PLAYING OFF EACH OTHER instead of fading into the background when it wasn't their turn.  Edgar's Mad Tom was utterly freaking out the Fool, who kept edging away from him.  Tom very physical, jumped on top of Kent at one point.  Everyone united in trying to protect the unraveling Lear.
Kent genuinely funny, Gloucester genuinely dignified - if a bit of a fool (and his eventual transformation less than satisfying).  Cornwall a true brute; Albany irresistibly reminiscent of a nice Jewish man who just wants everyone to be decent - til he sees it's hopeless.  Cordelia's opening scene terrific, as you can see she & Lear have a special bond, so she expects him to get what she's doing…. and everyone's dawning horror when they realize he means it and is not quite himself and nothing anyone can do about it.  How Kent tries! What a writer, that WS - the number of times Kent refuses to give up….
Best closing lines to a play ever ever ever:
The weight of these sad times we must obey;
Say what we feel, not what we ought to say.
The oldest have borne most; we that are young
Shall never see so much nor live so long.
*Simon van Alphen by Nicolaes Maes
Wonderful Samuel R. Delany posted his list of "Children of Dr. Thomas Browne" - that's Sir Thomas Browne to you, author of RELIGIO MEDICI ("A Doctor's Religion"), URN BURIAL, and like that - and invited people to discuss it.*

But one line of Delany's jumped out at me - and with his permission, I share it with you here (in context):

The Brontes? Emily, possibly. But not Charlotte. And not Anne. Writers who (as it were) fetishize straightforwardnes, yes--and see high style as a way to achieve it. That's Browne's legacy. But not clarity. And clarity is one of Charlottes virtues, which lets her out of the direct descendents of Browne. (IMHO.) And she's prior to Flaubert, by a hefty handful of years. Charlotte was a William Makepeace Thackeray freak,** and she did it better than he did. So today we read her more than we do him--good as he was. And he was very good, indeed.

I was introduced to Browne by my beloved Columbia U. Shakespeare professor, Edward Tayler.  That summer, I found an old cloth-bound copy of RELIGIO MEDICI, and read it over and over, trying to untangle the 17th century prose and the thoughts both alien with time, and immediate in humanity.  I'll put some of my favorite quotes in Comments when I have time - meanwhile, what are yours?

Anyhow, I'll take Delany's definition as mine own with pride - indeed, maybe you want to inscribe this on my Literary Monument? (You know, the one that has the life-sized carvings of all my characters mourning my passing - like that one we saw in Prague….?)

She fetishized straightforwardness, and saw high style as a way to achieve it.


*The discussion is Friends locked on Facebook, but I assure you it's well worth reading! As wide-ranging as Delany's considerable intellect - and sometimes as dense to those of us less gifted.  It ranges from Milton to Melville, and his list of "Children" includes Djuna Barnes, Virginia Wolfe, James Agee and D. H. Lawrence.

** Errrrh. I, too, am a Thackeray freak.  Indeed, my favorite Bad Review (of the Swordspoint audiobook) on Amazon is full of righteous indignation that Neil Gaiman compares me to dear Jane Austen, when I am so obviously devoid of all sensibility and am a mere Thackeray bacchante!  I wear the badge with pride.
2French Swordspoint (EK only)
When I sat down to write "Prise de Fer" for the new Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner anthology Games Creatures Play, I knew that I was going to have to go begging wide and far for information on not just fencing, but how modern fencing differs from 18th century sword-fighting.  This is, after all, what the plot hinges on - and no amount of Riverside flummery would serve me in a story set in France in 1963, about a young New Yorker with a terrifying French grand-mere, who goes to a snooty summer-school in Normandy just so she can learn fencing from a 1953 Olympic champion . . . . only to encounter an older inhabitant of the château who wants her to do things his way.

The Modern Fencing bit was easy:  remember what I could of my Basic Fencing college classes (where I triumphed - when I did - with my Glare rather than my Form) . . . and pick the very generous brain of competitive fencer and fellow-author Kat Howard, beginning with her Lightspeed Magazine article "The Pen and the Sword," and then making her answer many questions over the phone.

Then I went on FaceBook & Twitter, with this simple plea:
If anyone knows the fine points of the differences between 18c smallsword fighting and contemporary fencing, you'd better tell me now. #amwriting

Teel James Glenn, Ken Burnside and  many others were terrifically generous with their knowledge, and gave me their permission to share it with you here.  I hope it's as useful to you, someday.

WHAT THEY TOLD ME:Collapse )


[All boldface notes mine -- including this:

THIS IS PERFECT!!!! SHOULDA JUST CRIBBED FROM THIS!
http://www.salvatorfabris.org/UnderstandingSmallsword.shtml
- helpful any? ]


I also owe a great debt of gratitude to swordmaster and Broadway fight director J. Allen Suddeth (Aladdin!!!! yayyy! Newsies!! and and and!), who took me under his wing and invited me to demo bouts and sent me videos and notes . . . . It was such a joy getting to work with all these folks, to deepen friendships and relationships . . . .And to - oh yes - WRITE THE STORY AND PUBLISH IT!!!!!

Here is the BRITISH cover, which I just love:
Games_Creatures_Play_UK

GAMES CREATURES PLAY
appears in bookstores on
Tuesday, April 1, 2014 (no fooling)


. . . . with a pretty hot ToC that I am so pleased to be a part of!  I do think the anthology should be subtitled "Stories about Sports by People who really hated sports when they were kids . . . . " -- Take a look at the descriptions, and you'll see ;)
Bryn Mawr: Writing
I'm delighted to announce that Delia & I will be returning to Hollins University to teach again in Summer 2015 for their MA/MFA Program in Children's Literature - and that Terri Windling joins us there as 2015 Writer-in-Residence!

Now, here's the catch:  In order to study with me, you need to be at least a second year student.  Which means you must apply now for this year's program - deadline March 15th, 2014 ** EXTENDED NOW TO APRIL 15th!** - so that you can begin classes this summer. (Terri & Delia will be available to everyone in 2015. This is just for people who want to take my Advanced Seminar.  And there's nothing to stop you from applying now for 2015!)

Now, don't get your knickers in a twist. You probably are "good enough." The program encourages all levels of students. Seriously.  And there is Financial Aid.  It's a 6-week summer semester, a chance to find out just what you're capable of; and during the year, you can acquire credits through on-line courses.

If you wait to start classes in 2015, you'll get to take Delia Sherman's amazing "Introduction to Fantasy Writing" class, aka "How to read (and think) like a writer!" I didn't think such writing could be taught . . . until I inherited some of her students last year, in my Writing Seminar, and saw how far they'd come since studying with her. Delia works with Fairy Tale, MG fiction, and with the inside of your head and the outside of your pages.

As 2015 Writer-in-Residence, Terri Windling will be lecturing, meeting individually with students to read mss. and give feedback . . . and, of course, hanging out in the Writers' Livingroom (which I founded back in 2011) for the first 2 weeks of this 6-week semester.

I will be teaching a 4-6 person Advanced Seminar again in 2015:  Essentially, a 6-week workshop on how to get your thesis - i.e. your novel - to move forward and keep going.  I work hard to create a supportive atmosphere, with an emphasis students helping each other, not "critiquing" to show off. Both Delia & I keep office hours, and really enjoy meeting one-on-one outside of class.

You also get to take academic classes with the likes of the truly amazing Karen Coats, Brian Attebery, and more - in fact, if you want an M.A. instead of an M.F.A., your primary classes will be with them.  But you still do some Creative Writing for your degree - and if you're an MFA, you still get to take some Academic classes.

And this year, for the first time, Hollins is offering a combined MFA in Children's Book Writing and Illustrating! Artist faculty Ruth Sanderson, Ashley Wolff & Elizabeth Dulemba have become very dear friends; you'll love studying with them.  In fact, much as we love teaching, our other reasons for returning again & again to Hollins are (a) It's in the Blue Ridge Mountains, an area rich with folklore & traditional music (Friday nights! at the Floyd Country Store!!); (b) the chance to hang out all summer with the above-mentioned colleagues, also including Hillary Homzie, Lisa Fraustino, Chip Sullivan, and many more……all creative, funny, charming & supportive teachers who have become dear friends.

Come join us?

Here's how.

**And - because one does not enter grad school lightly or precipitously: Say "Ellen sent me," and our fabulous Program Director will accept applications through April 15th!

VALENTINE'S DAY LISTENING

Madame J. (closeup)
As we programmed my national public radio show Sound & Spirit every year, we tried to throw in something seasonally appropriate.  Valentine's Day was the best - our programming ranged from the affirming . . . .

MY BETTER HALF (written with Titilayo Ngwenya)
http://www.wgbh.org/programs/Sound--Spirit-226/episodes/My-Better-Half-5039
From Edvard and Nina Grieg to Gala and Salvador Dalí, Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears to Lotte Lenya and Kurt Weill, Sound & Spirit explores the intimate, extraordinary, sometimes unusual relationships crafted by two people in love. Hear words and music by and about significant others, and sample the sweet fruits of conjugal affection and creative partnership.

. . . . to the "Yeah, well, what about those of us who are NOT in a couple this year?" cranky . . . .

BREAKUPS (written with Justine Larbalestier)
http://www.wgbh.org/programs/Sound--Spirit-226/episodes/Breakups-5093
Like the beginning of a relationship, the breakup of a romance is a time brimming with possibilities and questions. Questions about the future: Who am I now? How can I live without you? What will I do with my freedom? Will I ever love again? Questions about the past: What was it that we had together? Is it gone now? Did I waste those years? In this award-winning program, Ellen Kushner looks for answers, with the help of poets and musicians from around the world.

. . . . to those wishing to slip the surly bonds of earth altogether:

LOVE DIVINE

What is the line between Carnal and Divine love? Over the centuries, music, poetry and mysticism have blurred it, and each one has fed the other - as we'll hear in this week's show! Ellen explores the way that American Gospel music provided the heat for Motown Soul, how the Sufis of Turkey and Pakistan sing of divine passion being found through earthly friendship, and how a modern rock singer, Joan Osborne, even turned to Sufi star Nusrat Fateh Ali Kahn to learn how to express her passion.

(Actually, I'm not sure we ever programmed "Love Divine" for Valentine's Day - but we should have! I'm doing it now.)

Click on each title to listen to the show.

Playlists are clickable on each show's page.

And if you can figure out a way to get rid of that irritating blue stuff above (without re-typing the whole thing) . . . just let me know!
"Suonare"
THE AUCTION IS NOW CLOSED.
CONGRATULATIONS TO THE WINNERS, AND THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO
HELPED US SAY FAREWELL TO ENDICOTT WEST in community.



Hey!  Look what else we've dug up while packing up our beloved arts retreat!  Even if you've never been here, this is a great chance for you to keep a piece of Endicott West history . . . or to acquire unique works of art by Terri Windling, the creator and presiding spirit of Endicott Studio, the Journal of Mythic Arts, and the original Boston Endicott Studio - which gave its name to Tucson's Endicott West.

Thanks to everyone who bid on our previous auctions this week.  Running concurrently with this one is the Pre-Raphaelite Blow-Out, which also includes boxes of Liberty Prints & Guatemalan Fabrics from the Endicott West retreat.

1) BOOKS BY AUTHORS
who have stayed at ENDICOTT WEST over the years
Signed & Personalized by them to Endicott West*:



Close-up of books

* exceptions to this: SARAH CANARY, OUR LADY OF THE HARBOUR (both first editions), signed (but not inscribed) by de Lint. Fowler not signed, but in pristine condition.  Everything else has some version of: "To Endicott West" plus a date, by authors & illustrators who stayed here 2002 - 2014.  All books are shown above . . .
. . .and we're also throwing into the book box:
"Eddie and the Fae" T-shirt (Emma Bull, Size M) and
"Green Man Press" Sweatshirt (Charles Vess, Size XL)

EWest Guest books

See some of the photos and comments by guests who've stayed at Endicott over the years.


2) BOX OF ORIGINAL SKETCHES BY TERRI WINDLING

brownline prints drawings 2drawings 1Set of prints


…and she's thrown in some extra prints from her Etsy shop, because she's such a nice person!


Also visit the Endicott Pre-Raphaelite Auction (last post) - bid here for Morris fabric, PLUS Guatemalan & Cowboy Quilting Fabric from Endicott West!


HOW TO BID:

1) LOOK below in Comments for the SUBJECT LINE for either #1 (BOOKS + t-shirt + sweatshirt) or #2 (SKETCHES).

2) Click REPLY UNDER the LAST (most recent) HIGH BID on the one you're interested in (NOT in the General Comments for this post! and NOT under the "Minimum Bid" Comment, either), being sure to bid higher than the person before you did. And say what you're bidding on, just to avoid confusion.

YOU DO NOT NEED TO BE A LIVEJOURNAL member to bid:  JUST COMMENT as a GUEST - but leave a name so we know who you are.

HIGHEST BID in each category at 11:59 p.m. EST on Wednesday, January 29th wins.

We will notify you HERE in Comments,
so check back to see if you won so we can contact you.  If we don't hear from you in 48 hours, the prize will go to the next highest bidder.  Nothing will be mailed out before we have received your PayPal payment of your pledged bid, which should be within 48 hours of our hearing from you.

FINE PRINT:
• U.S. only - no mailing abroad:  Sorry, but the extra work of figuring postage & filling in customs forms is just not something any of us can cope with as we close up the house.  If you've got a friend in the US who will accept the package for you, that would work for us!
• Books will be mailed by Feb. 8th, at Media Rate.  

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