Jan. 19th, 2010 06:42 pm
rj_anderson: (Tintin - "What?")
I've started to see the term "USian" being used as a substitute for "American", and frankly it baffles me.

I am guessing that the reason some people choose to write "USian" instead of "American" is because they worry that if they don't specify the US, natives of other countries in North and South America might think they are being referred to as well? Or do they fear that if they use "American" to refer to US citizens only, other people in the western hemisphere will be offended by the implication that they are not American?

In either case, the distinction seems unnecessary to me. As a Canadian citizen raised in North America, I have never once thought of myself as "American" or resented not being included in that term, and I'm pretty sure most of my fellow Canadians feel the same. In fact, it seems to me that Not Being American is one of the three great Canadian national pastimes, right after hockey and going through the drive-thru at Tim Horton's. So there's no need to use "USian" to refer to the people of the United States, because when we hear "American" that's all we can or want to think of in any case.

But perhaps I'm mistaken about this. So I'm asking my readers who live in North or South American countries that are not the US to tell me how they feel about the matter:

What do you think of when you hear the term "American"? Does it seem like it refers to you? Do you think it should? And what do you think when you see writers using "USian" instead?
So now that my little faery book is widely available in bookstores, and a good number of you folks out there seem to have read it... are there any questions about the book that you'd like to ask? Leave a comment, and I will do my best to satisfy (unless the answer would totally spoil you for some important aspect of Rebel a.k.a. Wayfarer, that is).

Needless to say there will be MASSIVE SPOILERS in the comments, so people who still plan to read the book for themselves might want to skip this one.
I'm stuck home on a Sunday morning. I'm sick and I'm bored.

Ask me anything.

ETA: As my sick son watches Scooby Doo cartoons in the background -- did you know Shaggy's real first name is "Norville"? Like, I had no idea!
Well, you all know what gang aft agley. My toddler has a mild sinus infection, and was feverish and clingy this morning, which made me think farming him out was Not The Best Idea after all. So all that really happened on the writing front today was a nice update call from my agent (who is fantastic about keeping in touch, I must say!), some more editing, and ultimately a mere

289 words.

I know what major things have to happen in this chapter. I'm just finding myself uninspired when it comes to drawing the lines in between.

And this leads me to something I've been fretting about for a while, so I may as well come clean (gulp!).

Lately I keep hearing other authors talk about how they get carried away as they're working on a story, how particular scenes and characters get into their heads and won't let go. There's even a discussion on one of the writers' boards I frequent about how best to extract oneself from the emotional undertow after writing some particularly moving or harrowing scene.

I used to feel that way, when I was single and could write pretty much whenever I wanted. I would shut myself in my room, listen to favorite songs on my Walkman, and hammer out page after page, caught up in the urgency of the story. Sometimes I would giggle over what I was writing; sometimes I would get misty-eyed; sometimes I would feel my characters' frustration and be crabby for some time afterward. It didn't always happen, but it happened often enough.

Now it never happens.

I can't write with music on these days. I find it too distracting. There are two periods during the day of about 1.5 hours each when I'm free to write, and even those times tend to be full of interruptions. I used to read most books -- even long ones -- in one or two sittings; but now it takes me fifteen or twenty. When it comes to immersing myself in an invented world and being caught up in the lives of its characters, I can barely do justice to other people's books, let alone the ones I'm writing.

And yet I know I'm not alone in this, and I feel sure that powerful, emotionally resonant stories have been written by authors in much the same situation -- people who for one reason or another just couldn't do the Method Acting thing. Maybe because, like me, they have young children or other needy family members to look after; or maybe because their brains just aren't wired that way, and they find it more natural to cook up a story intellectually than live it vicariously.

I would like to hear about (or even better, from) those people. Please?
So in the last few days my DSL has just started fritzing out intermittently. No rhyme or reason, it's gone for a few minutes and then I click and it's back up again -- about fifty times a day. Rebooting the modem and router doesn't seem to make any difference. XP doesn't notify me when the connection is down, or admit that there's anything wrong with the network, but while it's on the blink, none of my internet-capable programs work (so it's not just a browser issue).

Does anybody have an idea what might be wrong here or where to start troubleshooting?
Could one of my brilliant librarian friends tell me what the Daily Telegraph (UK) headline was for October 7, 1983? I'm pretty sure it was the hijacking of the Achille Lauro, but I'm looking for the exact wording, and I can't seem to find the information online.

ETA: Never mind. I've just cut that paragraph from the final revision anyway.
Besides, it was such fun last time, and I learned all kinds of things about the characters I hadn't known before. So, gacked most recently from [ profile] yahtzee63 (whose answers nearly made the apple I was eating come out my nose):

Ask any of the characters in any of my stories a question, whatever question you want, and they'll answer.


Apr. 15th, 2004 08:41 am
rj_anderson: (Snape by Jereeza)
Gacked from, well, practically everybody on my flist. I was going to do [ profile] lizbee's, but then I couldn't find her version of the original meme post, just the answers she posted to it this morning. So here's my version, anyway:

Leave a comment to this post and ask me three questions -- no more, no less. They may be personal, philosophical, or just plain silly. As much as it is in my power to do so, I will answer them fully and truthfully.

Depending on the question, you might want to be sitting down for that "fully" part. :)

Apropos of nothing, he says his name is William I need to make some new icons. But I'm also supposed to do a commercial web page for a friend's business, write the outline for my Snape presentation, answer a bunch of backlogged e-mails, and mail out care packages of the latest three Alias episodes on CD to [ profile] avarill and my brother Pete.

And I have a nagging feeling there's some other Important Thing I've Forgotten. Possibly it involves cleaning the house...


Mar. 11th, 2004 07:43 am
rj_anderson: (Malcolm See)
Somebody new just paged me on IM, and I was in the middle of typing something in -- didn't even have a chance to see who it was or choose whether to accept the message or not before it disappeared. Whoever you were, I apologize for the inadvertent rudeness, and would you try again?
From [ profile] bookaholicgirl:

What was the starting point for the Darkness and Light trilogy? (In other words, why did you write it?)
It was really started out as a vehicle for my Grand Unified Snape Theory. I hadn't paid much attention to Snape in the first three books of canon, but as soon as I read that scene near the end of GoF -- where Snape rolls up his sleeve to show Fudge the Dark Mark and delivers that impassioned speech -- the penny dropped. Finding out that he'd turned spy against Voldemort "at great personal risk", and that he might be expected to act as a double agent again now that Voldemort had returned... it changed my whole perspective on his character. I remembered how JKR had practically dedicated the whole first book of the series to showing that Harry's interpretation of Snape's thoughts, motives and actions was not always reliable; and it made me wonder how different Snape might look through the eyes of someone who came prepared to believe the best about him, rather than the worst...

Also, Snape In Love seemed like an interesting challenge to try and tackle. There weren't very many romantic Snapefics out there at that point (indeed, there didn't seem to be that many Snapecentric fics at all), and the one or two I had read didn't strike me as very plausible. So I started wondering, what kind of woman would be a good match for Snape? What qualities would she need to a) win his respect, b) put up with him, and b) balance him out? It seemed to me that with his many and varied faults, some of them serious and not all of which can be explained away by him being "undercover", it would be difficult for anyone to just fall in love with him in the traditional romantic sense. So that got me thinking about agape love -- one of my favorite themes -- and the way JKR connects love and mercy and self-sacrifice, and, well, the rest of the trilogy sort of tumbled out of that.

If you could only listen to five songs for the rest of your life, which ones would you pick?
If I think too much about this one I can't answer it at all, so I'll just respond with songs that come to mind as ones I especially like:
  • "Without You" by Talk Talk
  • "Wanderlust" by David Sylvian
  • "Time and Again" by a-ha
  • "Then They Will Know" by Michael Card
  • "Walking on the Spot" by Crowded House
    ...and tomorrow I shall be annoyed with myself for not picking different answers. I would have included a favorite hymn or two, but I can sing those to myself, so I wouldn't need recordings of them. :)

    If you had a daughter, what would you name her?
    I like the name Taryn, but my husband thinks it's weird, alas. So that's out. We have a couple of names that we both like reasonably well (and it took us forever to find those), but you'll have to wait until we actually have a daughter (or give up on the idea of having one) to find out. :)

    Do you know anyone by the last name of Behrenwald in your home town?
    Not where I'm living right now, no; nor in any of the other places I've lived over the years (our family moved every 5-6 years on average while I was growing up, so I've been in quite a few).

    When was the last time you had eggs for breakfast?
    This morning. I eat a three-egg omelette with cheese and bacon for breakfast every second day. Mmm, eggs.

    From [ profile] rose_in_shadow:

    Who is your favorite Bible character and why? (besides Jesus)
    Daniel. Daniel is so amazingly cool. Courage, integrity, wisdom, intelligence, and total commitment to the Lord -- what's not to like?

    How did you become a Christian?
    I was bored one summer afternoon, and followed some other kids up the street to a neighbourhood church that was putting on a Vacation Bible School. The lesson that day was about sin, and how our guilt separates us from God. That was the first time it had ever really hit me that I was a sinner, that I'd deliberately done things I knew to be wrong, and that a perfect God could never accept a sinful person like me. I'm sure somewhere in the lesson they talked about hell, but it wasn't fear that overwhelmed me -- it was guilt, and shame. I knew Christ had died for those sins I committed -- I'd grown up hearing Bible stories and lessons at home -- but I'd never before recognized or acknowledged my personal need of Him. So as soon as the lesson was over, I ran home and begged my Mom to tell me what I should do. Then I hurried up the stairs to my room and prayed, telling God I knew I was a sinner, that I knew His Son had died and risen again to save me from those sins, and asking Him to forgive me and change me. I know now that I was saved before I even prayed those words, because God knew what was in my heart already; but it was a good way of making it official in my own mind, so to speak. That was more than twenty-five years ago... it seems hard to believe it's been that long.

    You have "Fanny Price" listed as an interest; why do you like her? (I don't care for Mansfield Park very much myself so I'm curious)
    Mansfield Park is probably my least favorite Jane Austen novel, and I've only read it once. But I was surprised when I discovered how many people strongly dislike Fanny and think she's a self-righteous little prude. I didn't get that impression from her at all myself, so that made me feel like defending her. And when I saw she was listed in somebody else's LJ interests I added her to my list as well. Mind you, I could never be bothered to get involved in any of the Austenite flamewars on the subject, so I'm not that much of a Fanny Defender. (Doesn't that sound like a kind of football padding? Hee.)

    What does your husband think of your online marauding?
    He is amazed that I actually enjoy spending time on the computer when I don't actually have to. He knows how to use one, and in fact uses one all the time for work, but he sure doesn't enjoy it. Other than telling me I'm nuts, though, he humours me. :)

    What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?
    I don't know.... aaaAAAAAAAARRRRGggggghhh!!!

    Thanks to all of you for your questions. I'll take more if anybody's got 'em.
  • What do you know? I'm on a roll!

    From [ profile] marinarusalka:

    If for some reason you couldn't write anymore, what would you do for a creative outlet?
    Draw, definitely. When I was in my teens I used to write at least one page and draw at least one sketch every day. Eventually the writing sort of took over, but every now and then I get the drawing bug back again.

    Okay, you have a time machine. You can travel to any period in the past or future and come back safely. Where do you go?
    I'd go to 12th century France just before the Third Crusade, and quiz the Albigensians about what their beliefs and practices really were. I'm still trying to sort that one out at the moment for an historical novel I've got on the back-back burner. So many of the witnesses are hostile, it's very hard to sift truth from slander...

    Would the answer to #2 be different if the trip was one-way?
    Erm, yes! Yikes, the thought of being stuck at the siege of Carcassonne... "Kill them all; God knows his own," are not words I would want to hear in person. Hmmm. One-way trip... nope, I don't think I'd go. The past is a lovely place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there. (That's a quote, I know, but I can't seem to find an attribution. Anyone? Bueller?)

    What's the most useful thing you ever learned as a writer?
    How to use the semicolon. *hugs semicolon*

    No, really, two things. I think it was a line from Kipling that Patricia C. Wrede quoted about a million times on the FidoNet WRITING group, "There are nine and sixty ways of constructing tribal lays / and every single one of them is right!" In other words, don't get your insides in a knot because you don't write or edit the same way as your favorite author X or bestselling novelist Y or the author of your favorite "how-to" book. Find out what works for you, and do it; and if something doesn't work for you, try something else until you find a method that does.

    Also, an ounce of constructive criticism (provided you actually take it and do something useful with it, instead of just sulking) is worth a pound of praise.

    Agh! That's three! I'll have to come in again. *bundles cardinals out the door*

    The Earth is going to blow up tomorrow. You can preserve one book, one painting or sculpture and one piece of music. What would they be?
    Book: The Bible.
    Painting: Albrecht Altdorfer's The Battle of Alexander at Issus, because I love the colours and there's so much going on in there that it would take me a long while to get bored of looking at it. (That's a really shallow reason, I know, but I have never been particularly philosophical when it comes to visual art.)
    Music: Can I count Handel's Messiah as one piece of music? I've got the whole score in one volume... *makes puppy-dog eyes*

    Farther up and farther in...
    I have about four of these to do, so it's going to take me a while... figured I might as well post them in installments.

    From [ profile] ambyr:

    Your children are very important to you. What would you have done to fill the (presumed) gap in your life if you'd been unable, for whatever reason, to bear children? How would it be different?
    I don't know that I would have felt it as a gap, since I never really dreamed of having kids, and was pretty sure it wouldn't bother me much if I couldn't have them. Even now, I'm good with my own kids but I can't get very enthusiastic about anybody else's, and I'm one of the few women at my church who hasn't signed up for nursery duty. Anyway, I think that without kids my husband and I would have done more travelling, and gone on working with the teenagers in our church youth group. I'd probably still be working part-time at the printing firm, and trying to finish another original novel. And I would be making much more exotic recipes for dinner. :)

    Barring your immediate family, who was the most important person to you in your childhood? Why?
    I have thought and thought about this, and you know, I have a hard time thinking of anybody outside my immediate family, because I was such an outcast at school. I guess... I guess it would have to be my first best friend who was really my friend, and not just hanging around with me temporarily because she was mad at her real best friend and had nothing better to do. Having an actual friend of my own age and gender who liked me for who I was, and preferred my company to anybody else's... that was staggering to me, because it had never happened before. I was ten years old at the time.

    What differences do you find between the processes of writing fan fiction and original fiction? Is one easier than the other? Why?
    Well, since even my fanfics tend to be OC-driven (my latest is almost entirely OCs), there isn't much difference in the writing process itself. The big difference for me is that fan fiction requires little or no research, whereas my original stuff demands it. And I am lousy at research, and I don't enjoy doing it. So right now when I'm too busy with the kids to slog through a bunch of background reading on diphtheria epidemics and the use of gunpowder and the terms of Victorian insurance policies, writing fic is the best way to scratch the imaginative itch and polish my writing skills.

    If you could change one choice you've made in your life, what would it be?
    There is a letter I wrote to a friend about fifteen years ago, which I would like to have written differently, or (probably better) never written at all.

    What first attracted you to your husband?
    When I first met him, I liked the way he looked. He had the tall, thin, bespectacled European-looking university student thing going and that has always appealed to me. But then I found out he was much younger than I'd thought he was, and since I was convinced I was meant to marry someone older he kind of dropped off my radar. When I finally got to know him, though, I was drawn by his integrity, his commitment to spiritual things, and his sense of humour. And when I finally got it through my thick head that the real issue wasn't age but maturity -- reader, I married him. :)

    On to Part Two...
    Anyone want to interview me? Five questions, leave 'em in the comments. And then I'll try and think of some interview questions for you to answer in return, if you like.
    ...while adding posts to my Memories section -- my apologies to [ profile] bluemoon02 for not having seen and answered it before.

    Q: Have you written any ficlets about Maud and Snape?

    I assume by this you mean "recently", as opposed to all the older stuff that's already archived at Sugar Quill and elsewhere? The answer would be no... although thanks to [ profile] lizbee's persistence my next scene for the Margot fic will probably feature the Snape family around the dinner table, and both Snape and Maud will certainly be present at that.

    A post-D&L Snape is also featured in my Alias/HP crossover fic, and he may even make an oblique reference to Maud somewhere along the line, but at the moment I can't get him to stop loitering about and chatting with Irina Derevko. *kicks Snape*
    Part I: The Sacred )

    Part II: The Trivial )

    If anybody has any more questions feel free to stick 'em in the Comments section; I'm game...
    [Poll #127650]

    ETA: Non-LJ users, please feel free to leave your questions in the Comments section, either anonymously or not, as it pleases you. I'll be posting the questions and answers for everyone to see at the end anyway...
    I already posted this on the blog, but I am desperate enough to put it up here as well in the hopes that somebody can tell me how to fix the problem...

    My beloved Photoshop 5.0 LE isn't behaving any more. I can't use either the Type or Type Mask tools -- the fonts are all there and the options box for setting the type comes up just fine, but as soon as I go to apply the text to the image, all I get is a rectangular marquee (with Type Mask) or a solid box in the foreground colour (with Type). This happens regardless of what font or font size I choose. I tried uninstalling and reinstalling the software, but it didn't help. Nor could I turn up anything on a Google search to help me with this problem.

    Does anybody out there have the foggiest notion of what I'm talking about or how to fix it?
    Digging through my archives of old posts to HP4GU, I found an interesting little tidbit:
    > If you could ask [J.K. Rowling] *one* question, what would it be?

    My first place question would be, "Have you ever read Dorothy Dunnett, and if so would you consider her an influence on your writing?"

    The second place question would be, "Did you have Alan Rickman in the back of your mind when you created Snape?"

    Of course, she would not be at all likely to answer either of those questions directly...

    I'd forgotten about the Dunnett angle. But now I recall that there were two distinct things in JKR's writing that made me think there might be a real influence: the "live" chess game the Trio plays in PS/SS, especially the part where Ron sacrifices himself so the others can win; and the way JKR uses unreliable narrators and informants to skew the reader's perception, particularly with regard to characters such as Sirius and Snape.

    Man, now I really want to ask JKR that question. [ profile] melissa_tlc, take a note of it, will you? Just in case you do get that opportunity a few months down the road... :)

    A bit of Dunnett/HP humour, slightly spoilerish... )


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