juliet: (waveform tree)

Mirrored from Juliet Kemp.

Eastercon was fabulous, and I may yet do a writeup post, but for now, I have many recs to extract from my scribbled notes. (NB I have not yet read any of these; things I had already read I didn’t generally write down.)


LGBT to QUILTBAG panel:



  • “Not Your Sidekick” — C. B. Lee

  • “A Rational Arrangement” — L. Rowyn

  • “Hunger Makes the Wolf” — Alex Wells (cyberpunk)

  • The Raven Cycle — Maggie Stiefvater (YA, queer relationships)

  • “The House of Shattered Wings” — Aliette de Bodard

  • General recs: Uncanny Magazine, Tor.com, Lethe Press


Women of Star Wars panel:



  • “The Things I Would Tell You” — Muslim women anthology


Hamilton lecture:



Romance, Mystery, and Fantasy panel


(plus some recs from the bar afterwards. Some of these are non-SFF romance.)



  • Obsidian and Blood series — think this may have meant “Ivory and Bone” and “Obsidian and Stars” — Julie Eshbough

  • “Daughter of Smoke and Bone” — Laini Taylor

  • “Behind Her Eyes” — Sarah Pinborough

  • “Hold Me” — Courtney Milan

  • "Hold" -- Rachel Davidson Lee

  • Cosy witch mysteries!

  • Heather Rose Jones (published by Bella Books)

  • “Don’t Feed The Trolls” — Erica Kudisch

  • “Rollergirl” — Vanessa North

  • “The Art Of Three” — Racheline Maltese & Erin McRae

  • “Storm Season” — Pene Henson

  • “The Ultra-Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves The World” — A. C. Wise

  • “Hurricane Heels” — Isabel Yap

  • Neville/Hermione/Luna fic generally (must check AO3 tag šŸ™‚ )


Fandom and Theatre panel



  • Team Starkid — on YouTube

  • Smash — TV show about backstage

  • Slings and Arrows — TV show about actors


Misc other recs



  • “At The End Of The Day” — Claire North

  • “The End of Days” — Jenny Erpenbeck

  • “Cities in Flight” — James Blish

  • “Meg and Linus” — Hanna Nowinski

  • “Every Heart A Doorway” — Seanan McGuire


So, uh, that should keep me going.

Ditching LJ

Apr. 5th, 2017 01:45 pm
juliet: (Default)
Like quite a few other people, I am treating LJ's new user agreement as a reason to stop crossposting on Dreamwidth. (If you're reading this on LJ, I am [personal profile] juliet on DW.)

I'm not sure yet whether I'm going to delete my old content or not; they have backups, I assume, after all. I probably won't delete the account altogether.

Cold feet

Mar. 17th, 2017 08:42 pm
juliet: (Default)
This winter I conducted an Experiment on my feet, specifically: how long into the winter and in what conditions can I (comfortably; this wasn't intended as an experiment in foot-related suffering) continue to wear sandals?

Now it's spring again (at least here: there are daffodils in full bloom and I was cycling in a T-shirt again yesterday) I can probably declare the experiment finished and draw appropriate conclusions. Which are:

  • Anything above 10oC and sandals are perfectly comfortable.

  • Anything below about 2-3oC mark is definitely too cold, even if dry. This only happened on a very small number of days this year, though it was an unusually mild winter.

  • 3-10oC depends largely on how wet it is; if it's wet underfoot or actively raining then it's likely to be chilly, although at the top end of that range might be OK anyway, depending on what sort of mood I'm in and how long I'm likely to be out.

  • There is a difference between 'walking the dog' (or other walking-around-outside activity), 'going somewhere indoors by public transport', and 'standing around in a playground'. If I'm mostly going to be on a bus/tube and then indoors, sandals are fine even getting down towards the zero mark. If I'm standing around in a playground (especially if wet), boots might be wiser even if it's closer to 10. Walking the dog I'm only out for 30 minutes at a time anyway so even if it's chilly I'll probably cope. (When it's freezing that's still long enough to be properly uncomfortable, though.)

  • If cycling rather than walking then your feet don't move enough to keep warm; toe-coverings required. But in fact I've been wearing bike sandals all year round for about 8 years now and just wear waterproof socks with them. This is obviously a fashion disaster but if I'm going somewhere where I can't just take my shoes off on arrival (which in general I prefer if at all possible[0]) I carry proper shoes with me.

  • Fewer people than I would have expected appeared to either notice or comment on my footwear choices, even in the middle of December.


So it has been very informative!

There was a purpose to this beyond scientific experiment; my knees are happier when I wear sandals than when I wear boots, so the less time I spend wearing boots the better. I am pleased to discover just how feasible it is to minimise boot-weeks.

[0] I just don't much like shoes! The RFH don't mind you wandering around without shoes on. I got told off in the British Museum once, also on a train when walking between carriages.
juliet: (waveform tree)

Mirrored from Juliet Kemp.

Tales of the Civil War, another City of the Saved anthology, is available to buy now and shipping in physical form now-or-very-shortly! It’s edited by Philip Purser-Hallard and contains stories by Kara Dennison, Kelly Hale, Louise Dennis, Helen Angove, Selina Lock, and me.

Book cover, text "The City of the Saved", "Tales of the Civil War", "Edited by Philip Purser-Hallard". Behind the text a comic-style drawing of various people supporting/grabbing/fighting over a flag.
Cover art by Blair Bidmead

For a taster, try Kara Dennison reading part of her story, ‘The Tale of Sir Hedwyn’.

My copy hasn’t come through yet but I am greatly looking forward to everyone’s stories.

juliet: (Default)
1. How do you like your coffee?
Black (due partly to influence of partners -- Pete in particular is heavily down on adulterating coffee -- and partly to the fact that soya milk doesn't generally work well in coffee). But I drink it at all only very rarely.

2. How do you like your tea?
Just normal tea (theft) with soya milk, and occasionally a smidge of honey.

3. What's your favourite late night beverage?
Water. Can't drink tea after about 7pm or coffee after about 3pm if I want to be able to sleep at bedtime. I like hot chocolate in theory but not that often in practice (and it's a faff to make properly, with a saucepan of milk, and less tasty made with water).

4. If you could only drink one thing for the next week, what would it be?
Water-with-a-splash-of-apple-juice. I would be sad to miss out on a week's worth of tea though.

5. If you were on vacation, what would be the first thing you'd drink to celebrate?
I would probably open a bottle of wine that evening, but often going on holiday happens in the morning when it seems a bit early to be drinking booze.
juliet: The towers at Canary Wharf seen from Staves Hill in Bermondsey (london wharf)
I've been thinking about air pollution a lot lately. Tower Bridge is shut for Not Falling Down Works, and the resultant tailbacks across South London seem to be making the air significantly worse than usual. Anecdotally, as I walk down to the Jamaica Road*, the air starts tasting weird and my throat starts feeling weird.** The onset of this (I've lived in this area nearly 15 years and I don't usually have problems) precisely matched up to when the bridge shut. It would be hard to argue that there's not going to be more pollution: same number of journeys, give or take, all taking longer so generating more airborne crap. Other S Londoners of my acquaintance have noticed the same; an asthmatic friend is particularly struggling.

But are there figures? Not really: annoyingly, there's no roadside monitoring station anywhere near here, although in 2015 most of the nearby stations to me exceeded the Air Quality Strategy objectives, and it's looking the same already for 2016 even before Exciting Tailback Autumn really got going. This street-by-street map looks more useful but is a "now-cast" only (right now, at nearly 7pm on a Saturday, which shouldn't be super busy, it's at the high end of 'low' on Jamaica Rd; the notes state that 'low' levels of pollution may in fact be higher than is good for your health). I will come back to it on Monday morning. Without a very close monitoring station I do wonder how accurate this is, but looking at the nearish ones would still be informative.

Hopefully this particular batch of badness will improve in December when the bridge reopens. But London's air quality is pretty horrible at the best of times. Checking my postcode on the 'annual levels of exposure' map (data from 2013) they give rates for four pollutants:
  • NO2: my house high end of 'passes' range (37 microgrammes/m3); Jamaica Road well into 'fails' (~67 mcg/m3).

  • Ozone: my house 40 mcg/m3; Jamaica Road a bit lower as apparently ozone reacts with other pollutants so is lower close to busy roads.

  • PM10: my house passes at 25 mcg/m3; Jamaica Road not quite up to the 'fails' range at 31 mcg/m3.

  • PM2.5: my house passes at 15 mcg/m3; Jamaica Road higher but also passes at 19 mcg/m3.


This does not fill me with confidence for my respiratory health (and all the other consequences of breathing in lots of pollution).

Short of moving***, I'm now wondering if there's much I can do about this on my own behalf. (I have already commented on the current London Clean Air study, and have contributed to various similar campaigns over the years to try to fix the actual problem.) Some years ago I tried a facemask for cycling but as the Guardian discovered more recently, these are basically very uncomfortable. It's also worth knowing that the health benefits of cycling outweigh the pollution risks. So whilst a mask might make the air less icky to breathe, it makes walking or cycling around the place more unpleasant in other ways.

In terms of long-term health consequences, the main suggestion from the London Air people is "avoid busy roads" as levels drop rapidly away from them (as seen with my house vs the Jamaica Rd). That's mostly doable. There's some evidence that consuming more antioxidants (e.g. lots of vitamin C) can help protect against the long-term health consequences; I've also seen "more omega-3 fatty acids" suggested (flax oil, hemp oil****). Won't actually stop me coughing, but as "more vitamin C, more omega-3" is a pretty risk-free dietary change, probably worth doing.

The best solution though is probably for Sadiq Khan to get on with making the air actually less vile. I believe the current plan has various aims for 2020. Here's hoping.

* One of the major east-west arteries south of the river; in particular it leads to the Rotherhithe Tunnel, which is dealing with a lot of the redirected Tower Bridge traffic. Three minutes walk from my house.
** I'm also getting headaches again and sleeping badly but these might be related to one another and not to the unpleasant air.
*** Though basically to get all that much better than here I would have to move right out of London, not just a bit further out.
**** Or fish oil for non-vegans.
juliet: (waveform tree)

Mirrored from Juliet Kemp.

Note: these are not books that I am recommending personally, because I haven’t read any of them yet. They are instead books that other people at the con talked about sufficiently enthusiastically that I now want to read them. Some of them are on my (now much larger) to-read pile, either in dead tree form or electronically; some aren’t yet.

First up: two people I know had book launch parties at the con! David L. Clements released his collection of short stories, ‘Disturbed Universes’ (from NewCon Press); and Siobhan McVeigh has a story in the collection ‘Existence is Elsewhere’ from Elsewhen Press (scroll right down for buying options). I heard various of the authors reading extracts from their stories in this book at the launch and they all sounded great.

The rest of my recs are from the Feminist Fantasy panel:

  • Jo Walton ‘Lifelode’ (annoyingly, it seems to be out of print, and expensive second-hand)
  • The Chinese myth series Dream of Red Mansions
  • Elizabeth Gouge (note that not all of her books are fantasy)
  • Octavia Butler ‘The Wild Sea’
  • Someone mentioned the Green Knowe series of children’s books, which are sort-of historical fantasy. I read them as a child (a long time ago now) but am now minded to have a look for them the next time I’m in the library and see how they’ve held up.
  • Tanith Lee
  • Lois McMaster Bujold ‘Paladin of Souls’ — I have read this one and it is GREAT. Very strongly recommended.
  • Kate Elliott — both fiction and non-fiction. (Just looked at her post about her own books/series and am now wondering how I missed all of this for this long. Looks great!)
  • Mary Stewart — Merlin trilogy
  • Andre Norton ‘Year of the Unicorn’. (I should probably have read this already…) (but I haven’t, so.)

To enlarge your (my) reading list further, E. G. Cosh (who was on a panel with me and is v cool) has a recs post too.

juliet: (waveform tree)

Mirrored from Twisting Vines.

I have a story in the current issue of Luna Station Quarterly! You can read online for free, or buy an issue in e- or paper form, and there’s lots of great stuff there.

(Direct link to my story.)

juliet: (waveform tree)

Mirrored from Twisting Vines.

Look what arrived in the post for me!

Furthest Tales of the City

Stories by some splendid writers including me:

Furthest Tales of the City contents

I haven’t read it yet as it only arrived yesterday, but am greatly looking forward to it. Some of the titles look especially interesting, but I may have to start with Helen Angove’s story.

(Buy it here from the publishers, Obverse Books, in paperback or ebook form.)

juliet: (waveform tree)

Mirrored from Twisting Vines.

I’ve finished my Permaculture Diploma (all the designs and so on are up here)! I’ll be doing my final presentation at the London Permaculture Festival this Sunday, from 11:30-1:30. There are three of us doing a bunch of mini-talks and chatting to people about urban permaculture and the diploma, so it’s not just 2 straight hours of being talked at.

Come along if you’re free; there’s loads of stuff going on at the festival as a whole, and if you’re at all interested in permaculture it’s well worth going.

juliet: (waveform tree)

Mirrored from Twisting Vines.

Now available for pre-order from Obverse Books: The Perennial Miss Wildthyme, featuring Iris Wildthyme, and a story from me. It’ll be out this autumn, and I’m thoroughly looking forward to reading the rest of the stories.

The cover, by Paul Hanley

The cover, by Paul Hanley

(Should you feel unable to wait for your Iris fix, Iris Wildthyme of Mars, in which I also have a story, is available right now.)

juliet: (Default)
We still do not have permission for our solar panels, although we have an official form planning letter which mostly doesn't apply to us. On Thursday it will have been 3 weeks and thus I can chase the planning officer to find out what the problem is with issuing a certificate stating that our lawful development is, in fact, lawful development. (Gah.) On the upside, Patio Dude has just sent an email saying he'll be round next week (which I sincerely hope means a week tomorrow and not tomorrow, for which I would not be prepared) to take up old patio and install new patio, new fence, and new pergola. In some glorious future year the pergola will, I hope, support GRAPES. (The grape vine already exists, but is quite small.)

Leon is now teaching himself to count in other languages (French, Russian, and Mandarin, so far). The internet has a lot to answer for. He is also keen on rainbows (from a colour perspective, rather than as a meteorological phenomenon), and the bin lorry. ("Taking the things to the recycling, to make them into new things!") In a slightly scary step we have taken away the stereo-pen (ie the baby pen that corralled stereo instead of child) without any incident resulting. I believe we are beginning to enter the "why" phase...

I have been GETTING RID OF THINGS in a middling dramatic fashion, and feeling very good for it. My room looks -- not empty, but the stuff that is there looks uncluttered. And I have now kept my desk actually clear for about 3 weeks now which is an all-time record.

And I have not one but two short story deadlines upcoming, which on the one hand is a good state to be in, and on the other hand, deadlines, writing, editing, etc. Yesterday I read through one of them and thought that it was pretty much OK which always makes me nervously wonder what I've missed or if I have lost my critical edge. (Did I ever have a critical edge? who knows.)

Now to finish sewing rainbow patchwork for Leon's upcoming birthday.
juliet: (waveform tree)

Mirrored from Twisting Vines.

I am pretty pleased with this.

Before (June 2011, a month before we moved in):

Eight months later (late Feb 2012, the week before I had Leon!):

One year on (July 2012):

Nearly three years on (May 2014):

Not bad going, really. More photos in the Flickr album.

(Currently it looks quite wintery but I might add a photo in a bit anyway.)

juliet: (waveform tree)

Mirrored from Twisting Vines.

Look what came through the letterbox yesterday!

Book cover: Faction Paradox, "Liberating Earth"

A brand new Faction Paradox collection, featuring a story by me, among eight others. I haven’t yet read the others, as it only arrived yesterday, but I am greatly looking forward to them; especially the frame story by Kate Orman.

Available now from Obverse Books (hardback) or on Kindle.

juliet: (Default)
Further to my previous posts musing on getting stuff done and the perils of the ticky-box approach, I have realised another interesting thing, which is that I can find researching and (in particular) Planning a Thing more satisfying than the actual Doing of the Thing.

The thing with planning is that you can research and consider and analyse and generally collate lots of information into a cohesive whole, and then make a considered decision based on appropriate factors. All of which is (I find) quite satisfying. And after that you can work out what needs to happen when[0], and whether you need to acquire anything, and generally, once again, consider and analyse and collate things into a Plan. A Plan is a beautiful thing.

But then comes the actual Doing, which involves hard work (physical or mental) and finding that you forgot to allow for this, that, or the next thing; and often the Doing does not entirely match up with the Planning in outcome either[1]. (Though sometimes it does, and sometimes it is better.)

And yet, Planning without any actual Doing is (probably) (right?) eventually going to be unsatisfying.

I could use getting better at Doing.

In other news, we are (hopefully) going to get solar panels! (They should be Permitted Development but due to the specifics of our covenant we have to get permission and it is proving a little more intricate than I expected. Which, really, I should have expected.) Planning the solar panels was fun, and also takes me one step closer to finishing my Permaculture Diploma which I am now aiming to finish by July. There is, inevitably, Another Plan.

[0] If you are very lucky, there may be a Gantt Chart.

[1] I often find it difficult to start writing something, for example, because in my head it exists in a whole and, it seems, perfect form, which is necessarily going to suffer when turned into cold hard words on paper. I am trying to get better at this. Also that is the point of editing, but it is still sometimes sorrow-making to read back something I've just written and realise just how clunky it is.
juliet: Avatar of me with blue hair & jeans (blue hair jeans avatar)
My investigation in November into "taking more time off" was positive in that I felt better for it, and have tentatively concluded I should do more of that. (Where "that" is "having at least some time where I am not staring down a to-do list".) Actually doing it, as ever, proves harder. I'm experimenting now with ways to fit more work achieved into work days and thus have more time off. As Leon gets bigger (and so doesn't demand me as often) in theory this should be easier as I can be less interrupted and therefore more efficient. I am also hoping that lovely new noise-cancelling headphones will help a bit with focus (rather than, say, listening to everything else that's happening in the house at the same time.)

Read more... )
juliet: (Default)
So last week (or the week before; whichever) I decided that I was going to REST in November. (Where "in November" is defined as "in the bits of November which are not Leon-days and when I do not already have commitments, i.e. only actually about 8 days in total.)

My observations so far:

  • I am not all that good at resting. I keep thinking "right, so what am I going to DO today? what is my GOAL? what do I want to ACHIEVE?" and then having to remind myself that what I am DOING today is nothing.

  • I am really not all that good at resting. My idea of 'doing nothing' is only spending an hour or so doing ticky-box useful things, and then the rest of the time knitting. And reading, which ought to count, except I keep finding myself reading things off the 'I really must read this' pile rather than just fun things. OK, sometimes the IRMRT pile contains unexpectedly fun things (if they were truly expectedly fun I would have read them already; they tend to be things that I might be pleased to have read but are not necessarily restful). But still. I mean, I do like knitting! But I find it curious that it is so difficult not to do something that I clock as 'vaguely useful'.

  • Having said all of that, I have had a couple of naps in the last fortnight, which were great! And I have done enjoyable reading and knitting rather than (mostly) hurtling around the place with the mile-long to-do list, so we will count this as a win.

  • When I have sat down for an hour with the to-do list, the enjoyment of crossing things off the list has been significantly higher than usual, which I found fascinating. Possibly partly because I was limiting the time I was going to spend doing it? Rather than having a whole day (and more...) of ticky-box tasks stretching ahead of me.

  • I do, overall, feel better than I did when I made the decision.

  • I do need to rethink what I'm trying to fit into my normal life at the moment. I have done some provisional thinking on this and will continue to contemplate it next week.

  • I have also done some writing just because I wanted to, which is an improvement on last month when it was all about ticking things off. This was pleasing. Long may it continue. (The interesting thing is finding the balance between the self-discipline of 'show up and write'; the feeling of 'I want to do this and am enjoying the process' (where 'enjoying' also covers 'this is hard work and exhausting but satisfying'); and the bit where you just need to keep on plugging.



Further updates at the end of the month, if I think of any.

Motivation

Nov. 9th, 2014 05:45 pm
juliet: Part of a Pollock artwork in the Tate (art - pollock)
Recently it feels a bit like I've lost my motivation to do things that I am usually intrinsically motivated to do (ie which I do for the fun of doing them). This is particularly true of "hard" things, but yesterday I sat in my room staring out of the window and occasionally checking Twitter for much of the day because I couldn't even see any likely enjoyment from even low-stress things like reading or watching something.

One possible reason for this is straightforward exhaustion, coupled with overwhelm (too much to do, too little time).

But I also found myself wondering if the process of getting better at extrinsic motivation and goal-setting has torpedoed my intrinsic motivation.

There's plenty of general evidence that extrinsic rewards can damage intrinsic motivation. But my own personal extrinsic rewards are of the "tick off an item on my to do list" variety (I get absurdly motivated by a tickybox, especially if it is a real box tickybox not just crossing an item off. I am ridiculous.). Is it reasonable that they might do the same thing as a tenner handed over by another person?

Tickybox motivation is of course just fine for things like doing chores or going to the post office or remembering to send invoices. But with things like writing or making something, the general productivity advice I read is always about setting long-term goals, then dividing them into short-term goals: write x hundred/thousand words a day, get this part of this project done by this deadline, that sort of thing. Sure, without some kind of goal or destination, you don't know where you're going at all. But I've done a lot of this sort of major/middle/micro goal-setting this year for important projects and I find myself feeling steadily less inspired. Which was not the aim.

I am not sure I have a solution. I'm not sure I'm even tackling the right problem. (See above re tiredness.)

My current thought is to come at it from another angle, by heavily limiting the number of genuinely ticky-box things I have on my list each week, according to my estimate of how long they'll take. So I only have x hrs of those things. Then all the rest of the time is for the important stuff, for which I have an overall goal but (in this new approach) no daily/weekly tickyboxes.

However, this is for next month. For this month I am ditching all the important projects (inc Nano, which I only started last week; oh well) in favour of a more important project of "not doing anything in an attempt to recuperate my brain a bit". See above re tiredness and lack of interest in things that previously engaged me. (Obviously this excludes child-care; and I have no paid-work deadlines this month due to doing them all last month.) Radical self-care. I find this a terrifying notion. I will report back.

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