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Dear Yuletide Author ...

Happy Yuletide, and thank you for writing a story for me! In this letter I have a boatload of of material: first, my general likes and dislikes, and then notes about the fandoms, including what I especially like about the fandoms and a bunch of story ideas ... which you are free to ignore if you have other ideas that suit you better!

Two final things: Please have fun with this! And please don't give me a really sad or tragic story! Poignant is OK, but this is the dark end of the year, and I wish for Yuletide to be bright.

Preferences

I Don't Like:

  • Characters acting OOC, especially if the purpose is to force them into a relationship (doubly bad if that relationship is romantic or sexual)
  • Romantic/sexual relationships between partners of very uneven levels of power (adult/child, master/servant) - only a couple of writers have ever managed this without squicking me out.
  • By-the-numbers, every-action-described explicit sex (first they do this, then they do that, then ...)
  • Mpreg
  • Fluffy girlish stuff
  • Extensive use of epithets, or epithets that don't match the character POV (no one should think of his or her long-time lover as "the green-eyed man," for example): these will throw me right out of a story

I Like:

  • Friendships - although I am a romantic sort of person, not every relationship has to be romantic (I do like the trope of friends becoming lovers, however)
  • Strong characterization (including character-appropriate dialog: no earthy, uneducated characters using $50 words)
  • Wry and even dark humor in the course of a more serious story
  • Positive emotional payoffs that are well-earned
  • Passions that are strong without being mushy/fluffy
  • Moments of realization - satori
  • And I like any of the following "cool bits":
    • hurt-comfort
    • being cozy indoors when it's rainy or snowing
    • senses of smell and touch and memories attached to them
    • warm and oversized bathrobes/dressing gowns or sweaters/jerseys
    • the little spots of light that sift through a thick canopy of trees onto the ground beneath
    • someone's profile silhouetted against the light
    • water running over pebbles or stones
    • an autumn leaf or item of clothing as the only bit of color in a bleak landscape
    • brushing long hair or riffling fingers through short hair
    • romantic partners who are both competent
    • whispered admissions of love or forgiveness
    • food porn
    • a study or library as a refuge against the outside world (canon for fandom Roller Skates Series!)
    • kissing the inside of the elbow or the base of the throat
    • drops of water clinging to hair and/or skin

I'm quite content with both straight and gay relationships. I do tend to ship the canon relationships, unless it's a character who has had no clear relationships shown in the story. I'm not comfortable with sexual relationships shown in children under the age of, say, 14 or so, and not even among older teens except with their age peers.

The Fandoms

Books of the Raksura - Martha Wells

How could I not like Moon? I love his prickly snark and the push-pull he feels with regard to his new people. I also like how badass Jade is, and how she's protective of Moon without wanting to completely control or smother him. I like Chime and his regrets about no longer being a mentor, and I like the little survivors (including Bitter) from Sky Copper and their relationship with Moon. I'm also intrigued by the complexity of Pearl's and Jade's relationship - Wells does a wonderful job of not making Pearl a one-dimensional Bad Queen. And I'm in love with Stone: he is so awesome.

I also just like the world-building in this: I love the discovery of the various parts of the new home mountain-tree, the merchants with their flying ships, and the multi-species, multi-level city in The Serpent Sea.

The third volume of this is due out December 9. If you're going to jump on it - I am - you could do a bit of future fic. Otherwise, a side story or a bit of pre-canon ... but really, I love the interaction of the current cast so much, I would prefer to see something with them. What you write could be a plotty adventure or a vignette with lots of interaction between some of the characters. Note that I take Wells' own short stories and omitted scenes (on her Website) as canon.

Some stray thoughts/plotlets, meant as inspirations, not orders: Moon and Stone have a man-to-man talk about the opposite sex; Moon and the Sky Copper fledglings (maybe with some mentors or hunters in tow) find a ruined structure of some kind and explore it (and maybe Moon finds a perfect gift for Jade - or for Frost ... or Bitter ... or Stone!); Jade has a big-sister talk with Frost (complete with rivalry over Moon); a vignette of Jade and Pearl in the past, and a moment of unexpected accord between them (possibly with repercussions into the current timeline); Moon and Chime explore that special, slightly tense chemistry between them (do Raksura go for threesomes? Chime is, after all, one of Jade's warriors); if the resolution of the third book involves Moon and Jade settling down, then some slightly warped Raksura-style domesticity about making the mountain-tree their very own (with Gold leading a redecoration effort, maybe?). And I don't know whether Wells has ever specified whether a Consort of Stone's age still has any interest in romance, but it would be awesome to see him with someone special who regards him as more than the almost mythological being he's become - it could just be a special friend too, you know?

Sex and romance are woven into the daily fabric of Raksura lives, so feel free to go wherever seems appropriate (per my likes/dislikes).

The Circus Is Coming/Circus Shoes - Noel Streatfeild

Interestingly enough, it was this book – not the much more widely read Ballet Shoes – that won the author her Carnegie Medal. I don't necessarily think it's a better book than Ballet Shoes – and I don't love Peter and Santa the way I love the Fossil sisters – but certainly Peter and Santa do some impressive character development throughout the course of the book. And I think that I sympathize with them a great deal. My upbringing was certainly not as bizarrely sheltered as their early life was, but I had some similar moments of Real Life smacking me in the face at various points. The point that Ted Kennet makes to Santa – that there is no reason that Uncle Gus has to do anything about the two of them, and that by taking them on, he has lost a lot of his own life (Ted says "his comfort," but an adult reader can recognize that Gus is also losing his privacy and independence) – hit me very hard the first time I read the book. Ted's points about Santa's unwillingness to work hard for what she wants was another wake-up call.

Tell me about Santa and Peter as they grow up. Will they follow the paths that have been set before them at the end of the book, becoming (respectively) an acrobat and an equestrian? How largely do Maxim Petoff and Ted Kenet figure in their lives? I would also love to have any of the other characters show up – from Uncle Gus to Rani the elephant, and including all the other kids. Finally, Circus Shoes is set in 1938. World War II is looming, and Streatfield didn't ignore war: Gus discusses the effects of WWI on Cobb's Circus in the book canon, and then Curtain Up / Theater Shoes is actually set during WWII. What happens to the cast during the war? Although the story shouldn't focus on the secondary characters, it's interesting to think of the issues that will be faced by the Schmidts, and what about Fifi, who is going to be staying in France to study with Mink? This could also be a chance for some crossovers with other Streatfield characters, if you're so inclined. (Sasha and Sorrel entertaining the troops together? Peter wanting to join up as soon as he is old enough - which would be a couple of years before the end of the war, I think - and running into Petrova, who is working transporting planes from Canada?)

Romance and sex? Up to you – but keep the characters' ages in mind. I think Peter and Fritzi could easily have a love-hate thing going on as they get older, for example, but don't feel that you have to pair everyone – or indeed anyone – up.

Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal

I love the realistically depicted growing relationship between TJ and Amal, and the many, many wordless scenes between them. (I especially love that E.K. Weaver doesn't feel the need to have them talk much when they're having sex.) I also like the piquant contrast between the various zany incidents that occur (I loved the world-weary non-homophobic southern cop in the recent arc, and Amal's quiet freaking out during that whole scene) and the tenderness – there's no other word for it – between them.

I'm hesitant to predict anything about what could be happening in the series by the time Yuletide hits (things don't look happy for the two of them at the moment ... ), so I think what I want out of this is one or more vignettes – scenes from the road that Weaver doesn't show us in the comic itself. More conversations about geeky movies and rock music? Amal finally noticing TJ's mugging for little kids – maybe joining in (which might be pretty bad, actually ... )? Another not-so-friendly encounter with nature? A stop at some bizarre roadside attraction or obscure National Monument (bonus points for figuring out their approximate route and picking something that actually exists – or should exist – along the way)? Anything amusing, poignant, and sexy – preferably all three – would make me happy.

Roller Skates - Ruth Sawyer

This is an old, old comfort read for me. I don't love the sequel, The Year of Jubilo, as much, but I am not interested in overturning that canon, either. If you haven't read it and/or can't find it, check out the summary and review given here.

One of the things I love about Lucinda Wyman as a character is that, like myself at that age, she has been undemonstrative with her relatives emotionally: they think of her as a cold, disagreeable child. I also like her relationships with her two new friends who are roughly her own age: Tony Coppino and Aleda Solomon. I appreciate that things are sometimes hesitant and awkward between them: there is no getting around the fact that Lucinda is the child of wealth (although that gets reversed, to a large extent, in the sequel) and they are not. I also identify with Lucinda's love of books and literature, which is fostered by her Uncle Earle and later on, by her older brothers, who tutor her (and each other) after their fortunes change.

I'm interested in future fiction. What becomes of Lucinda, Tony, Aleda, and Lucinda's prickly, proud next-oldest brother Carter? We know from an aside in The Year of Jubilo that Lucinda eventually goes to college – not necessarily a given even for a girl of the upper class in those days (perhaps Uncle Earle – who seems to have died when Lucinda was in her early 20s – had something to do with that). What does she do after that? Her story is mainly based on author Sawyer's own life, but I don't think that Lucinda needs to become a teacher, scholar of folklore, and author of children's books, as Sawyer did.

When Lucinda is a bridesmaid, the bride in question says that she thinks Lucinda will become "someone rather distinguished." Lucinda will enter adulthood at the brink of the 20th century; careers that I could easily see include journalist (Nellie Bly was getting her career started when Lucinda was a small child); playwright (as she herself proposes to Aleda), doctor (influenced by Trinket's death and a brush with death by Mrs. Wyman in the sequel), social change advocate/activist (cf. Jane Addams and Hull House); lawyer for the poor; and much more. Will Aleda actually become an actress? If so, the motion picture industry will be emerging while she is in her prime: does she stay with the stage, or make the leap to the screen? (Or does she kick it all over to become a Zionist and settle in Palestine? I'm convinced that her family are non-observant Jews ... .) Tony is depicted as being good with his hand and artistic to boot. The era of his early adulthood will include both great inventions (airplanes! cars! ) and the emergence of what became known as Modern Art. And Carter, who was the spoiled "golden boy" of his family: will he find more worthy subjects for his forceful personality than his own woes and losses? (If you haven't read The Year of Jubilo, I would suggest not addressing the issue of Carter very much at all, because he's fairly complex, and I'm not going to be able to summarize him fairly in a journal entry.) And of course, given that the characters are only 10 or 11 in Roller Skates (and Carter is about 4 years older), anything else might happen! (Just don't give me Lucinda or Aleda settling down into dreary domesticity ... although you could try to sell me on enthusiastic and eccentric domesticity, if that seems likely to you.)

So: tell me something of the future of these children of the end of the 19th century. Make it passionate and literate, like the heroine of the series. (Romance? If you like – but don't ignore the social issues. Surmount them? Fine – but don't pretend they don't exist.)

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