The issue of character motivation weaves deeply through chapter 3 of Floodtide. Why did Dominique reach out to Jeanne to help Roz? Why did Jeanne agree to see what she could do? (These were covered in last week's teaser blog.) Why did Jeanne approach Margerit? (“Who did she know who kept a large enough staff that there would always be a place for one more? And who could not possibly object to the reason for the girl’s fall? The answer was obvious.” Mother of Souls ch. 12) Why did Margerit agree to give her a try? (In truth, Jeanne guilted her into it.) These are all questions that fall outside the reader's knowledge in Floodtide.
Rozild doesn't know that Maisetra Sovitre had to be guilted into offering her a position. But her initial reaction considers an entirely different motivation:
* * *
The lady’s voice was soft and kind but my mind started running over all the things a thaumaturgist might need a girl like me for. They did real magic with the mystery guilds, not just charms like the old women in the market did, or like Celeste had used to fix my leg. Mostly thaumaturgists were men. Men didn’t do charm-work, at least, you didn’t want to go to the ones that did. I’d never met a thaumaturgist before. But you knew about them from stories—the sort you told at mid-winter.
I must have looked afraid because when I managed to say, “Yes, Maisetra,” she laughed a little. A pleasant laugh that made me feel a little easier.
* * *
And Maisetra Sovitre can turn on the charm when she's not distracted.
* * *
She had a nice smile—the sort that made you think she didn’t know there were bad people in the world. Certainly that she didn’t think you could be one of them.
* * *
But in every good cop/bad cop scenario, there needs to be a bad cop. What does Margerit Sovitre's housekeeper, Charsintek, think of the new prospect?
* * *
She looked stern and sour like housekeepers always did. I wondered if the work did that to them or if you had to be that way to get hired for the position.
“So. What can you do, girl?” she asked. No questions about why I was looking. That would come later, I thought.
“I was a laundry maid,” I recited. “And helped out downstairs. I can do mending and fancy sewing. I’d like to learn dressmaking,” I added. “That’s why I came to Mefro Dominique.”
She harumphed and began quizzing me on the work, asking me how I’d deal with this stain or that kind of tear in a dress. I showed her the place on the sleeve of my chemise where I’d mended it so tiny you couldn’t even see it had been torn, except that the thread was a little darker.
I kept waiting for her to ask, Why were you let go? What did you do? Let me see your references. She never did, so I knew Mefro Dominique must have told them about all that. But then why would they consider me at all? A woman who dressed like Maisetra Sovitre could have her pick of maids. The housekeeper gave another harumph and left me standing there while she went out into the front of the shop.
* * *
For that matter, what does Charintek think of her employer's personal life in general? Charsintek was part of the Old Baron's staff. She watched Barbara grow up. Once things had sorted themselves out in Daughter of Mystery I suspect she was happy to integrate the almost motherly affection she'd always felt for Barbara with the respect she owed her new employer. As for their personal lives...
* * *
“I want you to be certain of one thing Rozild Pairmen,” she said softly, but I could tell from the way she used my whole name that there was nothing soft about what she was about to tell me. “Maisetra Sovitre has a kind heart. Nobody’s going to bother you about why you left your last place.”
I knew she didn’t mean at Mefro Dominique’s. I’d expected this warning since we first set out.
“But don’t you do anything, I mean anything to dirty the maisetra’s good name. If I hear you’ve been causing trouble in the household, you’re gone. Like that.” And she snapped her fingers in my face.
* * *
The essence of Charsintek's attitude is loyalty and protectiveness. Does she approve of same-sex relationships in general? No--or rather, the question is irrelevant. Margerit and Barbara's relationship isn't her business to approve or disapprove; but Roz's past is a potential source of discord and scandal. The two aren't the same at all. Charsintek is loyal to the family of Tiporsel House and that's what's important.
Roz isn't in that same place of loyalty yet--she doesn't know if she'll ever get there, but her brain has already recalibrated to her sudden good fortune...
* * *
The maisetra left in her little town-carriage—I’d already started thinking of Maisetra Sovitre as “the maisetra” —and Mefro Charsintek set a good pace from the shop up along the river [toward Tiporsel House].
Yay! Weki Meki, one of my favorite (if not my very favorite) K-pop groups, will be having a comeback in May! I can't wait to see and hear what they come up with this time! (I'd been thinking recently that they were due for a comeback soon, and apparently I was right on track.) Expect to see further updates on this here, as the agency teases us with photos and video clips to build up expectation before the big day.
The video is kind of unusual for K-pop videos, in that BabySoul doesn't appear in it at all. Usually the opposite is true - the videos are so performer-centric that no other people appear. It suited the song, though - I found myself wondering what the guy was waiting for. Did he know she was coming back, or was he just hoping? For that matter, is she coming back? Once the English subtitles are available, I'll probably have a better idea, but for now all I've got is questions.
Also, if the comments to the video are accurate, BabySoul also wrote the song herself, so hats off to her for that. (It could be my imagination, but K-pop idols writing their own songs seems to be becoming more common, particularly in solo and subgroup releases.)
(As for Lovelyz, their last comeback at "Lost N Found" on November 26 of last year, so they're due for a comeback but not overdue.)
* Subtle Forms of Racism to Avoid in SFF by Blackfemgeekery
This is a transcript of a talk given at EasterCon in the UK on April 20, 2019.
And here's some lovel fan art for the Fall of Ile-Rien trilogy by Worldsentwined:
I'm closing in on the end of Network Effect, about mid to 3/4 of the way through the climax, and deep in decision fatigue and stress.
That's about all I've got right now.
The paper tag stuff is the care instructions, which I'm leaving in place as a good-luck keep-it-alive talisman??
I apologize for the hideous tablecloth. We got it as an emergency tablecloth when we were in temporary housing after the flood, and never...got a tablecloth that isn't hideous. I have petitioned for a non-hideous tablecloth.
The origami crane art coaster is from a set that was a housewarming gift from my sister. :D
How should I handle a Korean color term in a fantasy setting?
use the Korean term paran and explain a couple times that it's blue and/or green
use blue-green in the text and explain what it means the first time
just say "blue"; only Korean readers will know what you mean, or care
something else I will explain in comments
talky the tacky ticky!
This is coming up because there are East Asian influences in Phoenix Extravagant and I'm wondering how to render 파란색 (paransaek), which can be translated variously as "blue" or "green" (more usually "blue") but can include some shades of green if my mother is to be believed. (There is are separate words for "green," 녹색 (noksaek) and 초록색 (choroksaek), but the former is "green" and the latter is more "grass green." To hear my mother tell it (since she's, uh, my source on this stuff), they're not really all synonyms.
Normally I would just approximate and move on, but because my protagonist is a painter and paint pigments are part of the magic system...anyway, opinions appreciated.
I have also desperately emailed my mother asking what she can find out about traditional Korean paint pigments because the more I can find out the better.
- Yoko Kawaguchi. Authentic Japanese Gardens.
I really have no way of verifying anything in here, but the lush, gorgeous, full-color photographs throughout of Japanese gardens either in Japan or Japanese-influenced/inspired gardens elsewhere were worth the price of admission (list price $19.99). This is mainly aimed toward people who want to understand the aesthetic before implementing it in their own landscaping/gardens.
Ch. 1: Traditional Japanese Gardens
Historical context, design, choice of plants.
- The hill-and-pond garden
- The dry-landscape garden
- The tea garden
- The courtyard garden
Ch. 2: The Elements of a Japanese Garden
How to choose, lay out and care for the components of a Japanese garden.
- Paths and stepping-stones
- Stone lanterns
- Borrowed vistas
Ch. 3: Plant Directory
- Grasses and bamboos
- Tropical specimen plants
- Foliage and flowers
- Aquatic plants
- Non-traditional alternatives
Resources (hardiness zones, gardens to visit, etc.)
I don't want to go full-out Japanese in my side garden nook with some of the really specifically Japanese elements because my ancestors would roll over in their graves, but I like the aesthetic. BTW, if you're wondering how Korean landscapes/gardens differ, this article discusses the basics, and I've ordered a book on Korean gardens that should arrive sometime this week and that I hope to read for more inspiration. I'm hoping it, too, will have homesickness-inspiring glorious full-color photographs. :3 I hope it will discuss 덕수궁 (Deoksugung, or Deoksu Palace), for instance; my mother used to take me and my sister there regularly to feed the pigeons and admire the gardens.
- Jane Portal. Korea: Art and Archaeology.
Research reading for Phoenix Extravagant. I read this not to memorize everything in it (impossible) but to get an overview of Korean art history, although since I acquired the book over a decade ago and it's ©2000, I expect it's dated. It also has some minor infuriating errors on related topics (I was complaining about the outdated assessment of Korea's naval victories in the Imjin War, and Portal states that the Korean alphabet is a syllabary, which, no). Anyway, I was so aggravated that I started leaving annoyed handwritten comments in the (thankfully wide) margins), like this one:
Can we kill the idea with fire that artists don't count as Real Artists (TM) unless they die of starvation and that artists who like money aren't Real Artists (TM)?! I mean, I'm not going to claim I'm a Real Artist, but I don't think liking money is germane to the question.
Besides my quibbles, though, this is an area of art history for which there are just not a lot of English-language resources, and since I am not fluent enough to read adult books in Korean, them's the breaks. I did appreciate the wide-ranging overview, which went more or less in chronological order and discussed formal as well as folk arts, and was thankfully frank about the difficulties of provenance between Korean/Chinese/Japanese artifacts, the vexed history of Japanese invasion and colonialism (a lot of Korean potters were simply kidnapped wholesale during the Imjin War), etc.
Anyway, I was driven to step it up in rereading this because my copy of Korean History in Maps, ed. Michael D. Shin, arrived today and I am eager to start reading this next. (I am in research-reading mode, can you tell? This means I am reading a lot of nonfiction, and fiction reading is basically stalled, because I am also a slow reader.) Even more pleasingly, the book is under 200 pages long so I might finish it in a reasonable amount of time.  :D And hey, it has a blurb from Bruce Cumings!
 A side-consequence of my being a slow reader is that the longer a book is, the less likely I am to bother reading it, especially if it's fiction. I almost never read things much over 400 pages. I am delighted when they're under 300. The result trend toward novellas-as-books makes me ambivalently happy.
I ended up getting a 2018 iPad Pro 11" with Pencil 2 and I love it to pieces. It is my shiny toy new best friend. Right now I'm doing value exercises in Procreate daily (Ara, staring in horror: "Why???" I have promised her that next I will draw 100 hands, and then create a Hand Monster), and slowly working on a digital piece, although I need to grab reference for the face, curse my luck. XD Ara is great for art feedback and tips! We actually exchange art feedback in this household, LOL, since we have both learned that Joe is useless for art critique.
I also bought Notability, because when my RSI was acting up I could handwrite notes into the iPad and it was fabulous. Also I may have drawn a goose.
And I'm addicted to I Love Hue, which Ara independently discovered and has been tearing through it on her phone (well, when she's allowed to have it, which is a separate issue). It is actually rather morale-boosting to play I Love Hue because I thought I would suck at it and actually I usually do around 1/2 the average # of moves to solve a given puzzle so I do not suck at it after all! And it's soothing and just so satisfying. This is my platonic ideal of a relaxation game so, uh, if iOS folks have any recs for other games (preferably buy-it-all-at-once) in this vein, I am all ears!
Poem: "By the People's Voices"
Poem: "The Consequences of Their Own Neglect"
Poem: "Faces in a Mosaic Mirror"
Poem: "The Blue Bird of Happiness"
Poem: "To Repair the Damage of the Lumberman"
Emotional Intimacy Question: Positives
A Bad Take on Going Nonverbal
Look on the sale page to find all the sponsored poems.
The April crowdfunding Creative Jam was this past weekend. See what I wrote.
I posted about the Notre Dame Cathedral fire and an update afterwards.
Poetry in Microfunding:
There are two open epics.
"Learning the Vocation" belongs to Path of the Paladins. Shahana and company play games in the common room.
"A Cave Swarming with Strange Forms of Life" belongs to Polychrome Heroics: Iron Horses and has 20 new verses. Kenzie tells Pretty Ears what is bothering him.
Weather here has been mild with occasional rain. Seen at the birdfeeders this week: a flock of grackles, a small flock of sparrows, a small flock of mourning doves, two pairs of house finches, a pair of cardinals, a pair of goldfinches in summer plumage, a brown thrasher, a robin, and a red-winged blackbird. Currently blooming: violas, daffodils, hyacinths, purple grape hyacinths, forsythia, violets, tulips, redbud tree, pear tree.
Kiddos expressing themselves.
Marginally good news about a friend who has been ill.
Plans for probably tomorrow.
Getting through the day with some functional ability to focus left.
Fuzzy plaid pajamas.
The book: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
In the kingdom of Goredd, dragons and humans live and work side by side – while below the surface, tensions and hostility simmer.
The newest member of the royal court, a uniquely gifted musician named Seraphina, holds a deep secret of her own. One that she guards with all of her being.
When a member of the royal family is brutally murdered, Seraphina is drawn into the investigation alongside the dangerously perceptive—and dashing—Prince Lucien. But as the two uncover a sinister plot to destroy the wavering peace of the kingdom, Seraphina’s struggle to protect her secret becomes increasingly difficult… while its discovery could mean her very life.
How I found it: I don't remember the exact circumstances leading to the purchase of this specific copy last year, but I've been aware of the book since it came out in 2012. From the mid-90s through the early 2000s, Rachel Hartman wrote a minicomic, set in Goredd some years earlier, called Amy Unbounded, which was a delightful coming-of-age story about a young girl having adventures and learning her place in the world. (Sadly, the series is out of print, but it's worth tracking them down if you're interested, especially if there's a young girl in your life who needs an introduction to the world of comics.) So Seraphina went on my mental TBR, but I'm sure you all know how that can go.
What inspired me to read it now: Hartman's latest book, Tess of the Road, is a finalist for the Lodestar (the Not-a-Hugo Award for Best YA Book), and although I gather that it's not a direct sequel, I still wanted to read the Seraphina duology first.
The verdict: I have no idea why I waited so long to read this book, because it's a delight, although I could wish that the main character had read the situation and not waited quite so long to have some key honest conversations. (I find this trope particularly irritating, which is why I rounded my Goodreads rating down to four stars instead of up to five.) I fell in love with Seraphina as a narrator immediately, and I also adored Princess Glisselda and her best friend Millie. And also the prickly scholar Orma and the dashing and dogged Prince Lucian Kiggs. I could sit here and name favorites all day -- this world is full of fascinating characters, almost all of whom are easy to like (or dislike, in the case of many of the antagonists). Hartman's worldbuilding is both deep and intriguing, especially in the cases where she only drops hints -- draconic society, Goreddi religion (especially the heretic St. Yirtrudis -- I'm dying to learn more about her), the details of Goredd's relationship with its other neighbors. I also like her take on dragons: they are humanized and alien at the same time, just as any sentient species living among us would be. There are dozens of stories left to tell in this universe, and I will read every single one of them.
( More thoughts, with spoilers. )
The primary goal of this Tales from the TBR series is to encourage me to read books that I already own. Although successful in this case, I have to call it a mixed success, because as soon as I finish this, I'm buying the sequel, because I have to know what happens next. Worth it, I'd say.