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TBR Meme

I was tagged for this meme by [personal profile] renay over on [community profile] ladybusiness.

1. What book have you been unable to finish? - No god but God by Reza Aslan. I started this book a couple of years back, and as often happens for me with non-fiction, I stalled out about halfway through, most likely because I got a new fiction book that I wanted to read more. I've picked it up a couple of times since, but once I lose my momentum on non-fiction reading, it's difficult to get it back.

More questions and answers under the cut!Collapse )

10. Who do you tag? - As always, entirely optional, but this time I'll poke [personal profile] seimaisin, [personal profile] lassarina, and [personal profile] umadoshi.

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Finally got a chance to watch the season premiere of Supergirl. An intriguing start to the season, and Tyler Hoechlin made a great impression as both Superman and Clark Kent. But...

Cut for spoilers.Collapse )

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Watched the debate

It was... something. I'm very glad I watched with friends, both IRL and online, with Twitter almost continuously open. It was really validating to know that other people were WTFing at the exact same things as me.

Obviously I haven't been talking much about this presidential campaign. In a way, there's both too much and not enough to say. Right now it feels like there isn't much left to do besides continuously reload 538 and pray.

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Let's go Giants?

Another even year, another improbable San Francisco Giants playoff run? So it would seem.

I'm having a harder time getting excited about the post-season than usual. I suppose familiarity might be the culprit -- I've seen several great articles (here's my favorite, from Claire McNear at The Ringer) about why even Giants fans might be feeling a little sheepish about rooting for their guys to take it all yet again, especially when teams with long droughts are in the mix. Under any other circumstances, I'd be rooting for the Cubs to take it all the way, and hell, maybe a part of me still even is (shhhh no no baseball gods if you're listening i'm sorry i promise i didn't say it out loud).

But probably more importantly, this season has been a freaking roller coaster, and not in the fun and exciting way. I've wondered how I would feel about this playoff run if the first and second halves of the season had been flipped. Imagine a team that struggled to score runs and suffered a severe bullpen meltdown near the beginning of the season, putting up the worst record in the major leagues before the All-Star Break, and then came roaring back to have the best second-half record in baseball and eke out the last playoff spot in the final moments of the season by sweeping their oldest and most bitter rival. (Well, I say "imagine", but I don't have to imagine -- that scenario isn't too different from what actually happened in 2010.) Instead, it happened the other way around: the Giants contended with the Cubs to be the most unstoppable team, piling up a 10-game lead in the division at the break, with the collapse to follow. First team in history to have the best recording in baseball before the break, and the worst record in baseball after. It was frustrating, especially to see so many late inning leads pissed away by the relievers and not regained by batters who looked helpless at the plate. It got to the point where I avoided watching games, even if the Giants were leading late, because there was such a high chance of walking away frustrated.

And yet, somehow, in the end, it was just enough. The Giants got into the Wild Card game, and they set up the rotation such that Madison Bumgarner would be able to pitch, and he did his unstoppable playoff thing (the man has a 0.50 ERA in road playoff games, do I need to tell you how ridiculous this is), and a hitter that no one outside of San Francisco and barely anyone IN San Francisco has ever heard of got a home run, and the Giants beat the Mets, and here we go again, up against an unstoppable playoff juggernaut that no one expects them to beat (the Phillies, the Cardinals, the Nationals, now the Cubs), and if it's all feeling very familiar I have a hard time blaming anyone outside of San Francisco for rolling their eyes and saying "really?" But here's the thing about a sports dynasty: you never know when it's going to end, but someday it will end, and there's no guarantee it will ever come back. And so you have to grab on to it, enjoy it while it lasts.

So that's why I'm here, dressed in the orange and black, arranging my schedule to be home to watch the first game of the NLDS tonight, and once the boys are out there, I will get excited and ready for a win. Because you never know what's going to happen. I'm ready to enjoy the ride.

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Critical Role fic

Title: Opportunity
Fandom: Critical Role
Rating: PG-ish
Wordcount: 1309
Characters: Vex/Percy
Spoilers: Yes, MAJOR spoilers through Ep 69.
Notes: I rarely write my take on scenes that are probably going to happen soon in canon, but this bunny wouldn't leave me alone. Fully aware that this could be jossed as early as this Thursday. Cleaned up from an earlier version that I posted on Tumblr.

Summary: "Vex'ahlia felt a hand on her shoulder, and glanced up to see Vax'ildan staring down at her. Vax lifted his chin, flicked his eyes in Percy's direction, then back to her, followed by a nod so tiny that no one else would have seen it. But Vex knew her brother, and she knew exactly what that look meant. Talk to him. Don't let the opportunity slip away again." A quiet moment, a confession, a response.

On AO3

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September update; October goals

Days written: 21/30
Words written: 10,670
Words of fic written: 6,063
Stories worked on: Three
Stories posted: Two

Where do broken charts go?Collapse )

Specific goals:

1. Write at least 5 days per week, and schedule at least two per week as lengthy writing sessions. Yes on the first (barely), no to the second, although I was a little better about writing in defined chunks. I wish I could figure out a better way to motivate myself on how to schedule longer writing blocks, then actually do focused writing during them, because I think it's important.

2. Finish and post MCU exchange fic by deadline. Success!

3. Make progress on Wardens of Ivalice Part 2, in hopes of getting it published by the end of October. I guess? I made progress. Saying it will definitely be postable in October is probably a bit ambitious. But, well, see below.

4. WorldCon panel post and at least one book review for LB. No panel write-up; I started it, but it didn't come together at all. Maybe I waited too long, or maybe my notes weren't good enough. However, I did write two book reviews so I guess that's okay.

Also time for one last quarterly goals check-in for 2016:

1. Report monthly wordcounts to [community profile] getyourwordsout, and share WIP snippets with ushobwri at least once per month. Stretch goal: hit 150k pledge amount. Same as in March.

2. Participate in at least one Big Bang and one fic exchange that I've never done before. I signed up for a Critical Role reverse bang, which is coming up soon! I also did another new fic exchange (avengersfest) and am seriously contemplating doing Yuletide this year (yes really).

3. Set aside one month to work on Wardens of Ivalice as my main project for that month. Setting this goal was an excellent decision. I have continued to add more to the story every month and I have a good chance of getting it posted this year. Pretty exciting.

4. Participate in at least two journal-writing challenges/projects. Does anyone even do journal-writing challenges any more?

5. Archive all flashfic to DW/AO3 on a quarterly basis. Didn't manage this in the summer either. I should set it as a goal for next month. Speaking of...

Goals for October:

1. Write at least 6 days a week (except while traveling, and even then if I can manage it).

2. Finish draft of Critical Role Reverse Bang story (in prep for the November 2nd check-in).

3. Get draft of Wardens of Ivalice 2 complete enough to send to beta.

4. Post to either my journal or Lady Business at least twice per week.

5. Archive all outstanding flashfic to AO3.

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Not obsessed. Well, maybe a little.

I finished watching Critical Role last week (although I'm not technically caught up at this exact moment because I haven't finished this week's episode yet -- yes, I did give in and subscribe, not so much because I couldn't live with waiting until Monday and more because it's easier to find time to watch over the weekend), and after a little bit of poking around in the extras (so far the second Battle Royale is my favorite; haven't caught the first one yet), I decided that the withdrawal was too strong, so I started over at the beginning. The beginning, as in Episode 1, which I skipped in my eagerness to get current with the most recent episodes. I've now finished the first two, and although I enjoyed them, I feel like jumping ahead my first time through was the right choice -- both because it enables me to maybe get into the fandom community faster, and because the show does get stronger with time.

Some thoughts, with spoilers through Episode 65.Collapse )

I feel like I should have so much more to say about a media propery that's taking up so much of my time, but words are failing me a bit. So I throw the floor open to you, my other friends who have gotten sucked into this ridiculous and wonderful show. What do you love about it? What got you started? Why do you continue? Is there a prompt meme somewhere? I would love to exercise my creative muscles in this new world (and I did sign up for the upcoming mini-bang), but I'm not entirely sure where to start.

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Loose ends

I caught up on Critical Role (except for this week's episode, which I can't access until tomorrow afternoon) and finished my avengersfest assignment, and now I'm not quite sure what to do with myself.

Any suggestions? ;)

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Book review on LB

For our special celebration of Kate Elliott and her books, I wrote a review of her most recent, Poisoned Blade. It should be no surprise that I loved it.

[community profile] ladybusiness is also running a giveaway for this book as well as Court of Fives, the first book in the series, so make sure to check that out if you're interested!

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August update; September goals

Days written: 20/31
Words written: 8,982
Words of fic written: 6,774
Stories worked on: Two
Stories posted: None

C"mon baby, read my chart.Collapse )

Specific goals:

1. Write six days per week except while traveling (to WorldCon!). I probably came close, but except for two journal entries I totally failed to write during WorldCon itself -- just a little bit in the airport on my way back. Then again, I gave myself permission to take that time off, so I suppose I don't feel too bad about it?

2. Add at least 5k more words to Wardens of Ivalice. To my surprise, looking back, I got almost halfway on this (in retrospect overly-ambitious) goal. The difficulty is that I'm getting quite deeply into plot, and I came up with this plot many years before playing DA:I, and one bit has been pretty well jossed by now. I'm not going to change the idea -- too much depends on it, but recapturing my enthusiasm for it has been a bit complicated. It doesn't help that I've known forever where this part of the story ends, but not exactly what's going to happen in Part 3 (oh yes, there's a Part 3, did I not tell you?). So, uh, yeah. We'll see.

3. I signed up for an MCU fic exchange. The story is due on September 10th, so I'll want to write a first draft this month. I changed ideas completely after writing the first part and then realized that I wanted a much more complex story than I'd initially envisioned after I started writing it. So I didn't finish the draft but I made good progress.

4. Write and publish at least one, preferably two, articles for Lady Business. Fail. Very little journaling this month, too. There's at least one WorldCon panel I want to see about writing up, though, so I'll push that into next month.

Goals for September:

1. Write at least 5 days per week, and schedule at least two per week as lengthy writing sessions. I expect my day job to get a lot busier in September and October, so I both don't want to over commit, and I want to impose some structure on what time I will have.

2. Finish and post MCU exchange fic by deadline.

3. Make progress on Wardens of Ivalice Part 2, in hopes of getting it published by the end of October.

4. WorldCon panel post and at least one book review for LB.

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I joined yesterday, mostly to snap up my name and look around. Who else is there? How do you find people? Also I have invites, although I imagine that everyone who wants to be there has already joined by now. But if not, and you'd like one, let me know!

I gather it's based on Reddit structurally, which is an interesting idea for a community-based site, although I still think I like the DW-type platform better. Especially the ability to have an individual journal, instead of having to create a "community" for yourself (although I gather the personal journal aspect is coming?). Anyway, we'll see what happens. If it ends up being a viable replacement for Tumblr, I'm all for it.

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So about those WorldCon updates...

I ended up being too busy attending WorldCon (and staying up late hanging out in the evenings) to have much time to write about WorldCon. Now it's our last night and I'm full of so much to say that I don't know where to start. I attended so many great panels and readings (and a few duds), reconnected with a few people and met a ton more, and basically had the best time I have ever had at a con entirely because of the people. It seems clear that the way to fix the feelings of social isolation I sometimes deal with at cons is to know people. Talk to people, get introduced to people, and spend a good amount of time hanging out with people I already know. In this case, having [personal profile] renay, [personal profile] justira, and [personal profile] seimaisin as my social center gave me a comfort zone, and the opportunity to be introduced to more people helped me make more connections -- and hopefully lasting ones. I want to talk more about specific panels and events, but that will be better served by a fresher brain, so I'll leave it for now.

If you've followed the news at all, or follow me on Twitter, you already know that Lady Business did not win the Hugo award for Best Fanzine. File 770 is a deserving winner with an amazing community and a long history in fandom, and its editor, Mike Glyer (who also won Best Fanwriter), did amazing work last year to track and report on the developing Hugo controversy, among everything else that goes on. Really, it's an honor to have taken a strong second place (as borne out by the stats), especially in our first year on the ballot. The ceremony was excellent, both entertaining and well-run -- and fortunately Fanzine was pretty early in the program, so we were able to sit back, relax, and enjoy the rest of the show! And then we had an awesome night, making the rounds of the parties, including George R. R. Martin's legendary Hugo Losers Party. (After File 770's win was announced, we literally turned to each other and said "now we can go to the Losers Party!") Even if we're never nominated again (although I do hope we will be), the experiences we had last night will be with me always. If you were there to be a part of it, thank you. And to everyone who voted for us and supported us in so many ways, THANK YOU.

Although next year's Helsinki WorldCon is probably out of my reach, I am delighted that San Jose, CA won its bid to host in 2018. Barring some catastrophic event or schedule conflict, I will be there, and I hope to get the chance to form such wonderful community bonds again. Come if you can! I'd love to see you there.

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WorldCon Day One

My connecting flight yesterday was delayed, so I didn't get into the Kansas City airport until after midnight, and it was almost 1am by the time I got to the hotel. Fortunately, my roommates had already arrived and checked in, so all I needed to do was crash. Unfortunately, it was too early for me to try and sleep (given the two hour time difference), so I slept poorly. While I was in go mode at the con, things were fine, but I started fading around 10pm and decided to head back. So I'm now in my hotel room, kicking back and checking in.

There are a ton of interesting sounding panels and readings at this con, way more than I know I'll be able to attend. So I'm picking and choosing as I go, based partly on my own whims and partly on what other people are doing. This is the first time I've ever really come to a con with a group ([personal profile] renay, [personal profile] justira, and [profile] ecthroi), and it's a different experience than being mostly on my own. I think I prefer it, although it's also good that we generally each feel comfortable going off on my own -- and of course I know other people here, the most exciting being that I finally met [personal profile] seimaisin for the first time today!!

Some other highlights: a reading by Courtney Schaffer, whose work I wasn't familiar with before but will certainly be looking for now; a panel about the definition of fan writing, which ended up being mostly about fanfic; the "Bad Boy Woobie" panel, lead by Mark Oshiro, a fun and awesome conversation about who gets to be woobified and why; another fanfic panel, this one about the relationship between fanfiction and pro writers (which can be summed up as excellent panelists, wrong moderator); a live recording of the Ditch Diggers podcast, which is about the business of writing and today featured a panel of three agents answering questions with a hilarious Dungeons & Dragons framing (seriously, go look it up when it's available); and one last great panel, on LGBTQIA representation in media, with a focus on lesser discussed identities such as asexuality, non-binary genders, and polyamory.

Obviously none of this does any of these panels justice, so hopefully I'll be able to get back with more details later. But for now, time to crash. See you tomorrow, MidAmeriCon 2, hopefully with brighter eyes and a bushier tail.

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Is it can be WorldCon nao plz?

I'm basically all packed, except for things that will be sitting on chargers until it's time to leave, but don't need to head for the airport for over two hours.

I signed up for a free trial of YouTube Red so that I could download Critical Role episodes to watch on the plane. What even is my life?

So excited to see people soon! So ready to escape into con world for a few days. I've needed this getaway from the real world for awhile now, and I'm so happy it's finally almost here.

I'll be around on and off, probably mostly on Twitter, but watch this space for updates, too.

If you're not at the con, have a glorious week and weekend! If you are, see you there!!

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Hello hello

Sorry no post for so long. Work and Critical Role are eating my life in what feels like equal measures (although in terms of hours spent, it's been way more on the latter). On the latter, I'm up to episode 42 or so (a couple of episodes into the next major plotline after Whitestone, which I don't think I can even name without MASSIVE spoilers) and still very much enjoying, even if T shakes his head at all the time I'm spending on my iPad under headphones. I wonder if I can figure out some way to download a couple of episodes from YouTube so I can watch on the plane, on my way to WorldCon and back.

Speaking of: WorldCon! Two busy work days and then I'm on my way to Kansas City. Excited not just to get away but also to see all the people I know I'm going to see. Two of my [community profile] ladybusiness compatriots will also be there, and although we haven't planned any formal meet-up, we'll probably send out a "meet us at the bar at this time!" message at some point. Watch our Twitter ([twitter.com profile] feministponies) for details. If you're going to be there and we haven't already exchanged contact info, drop me a line! I'd love to see anyone and everyone. The panel schedule is chock full of things I'd like to see, and I also feel obligated to at least check out the business meeting, so I'll probably be running around a lot, but the only thing that's set in stone is the Hugo Awards Ceremony. Ping me! (Email or Twitter ([twitter.com profile] iamkj) is probably the best way to get in touch.)

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Down the rabbit hole: Critical Role

Thanks to the recommendations and enthusiasms of MANY PEOPLE (you know who you are), I took the plunge and started watching Critical Role, a Twitch show in which a group of American voice actors play an ongoing Dungeons & Dragons campaign. Chances are, the foregoing all you need to know. It's exactly what it says on the tin. If it's not your kind of thing, you'll know right away. If it is, you'll probably be like me and get sucked in, completely and immediately.

The downside: this is a deep, deep rabbit hole. It's an ongoing show, there are already over 60 episodes, and the episodes average three hours in length (a few are shorter, many are longer). There are skippable bits, outdated announcements at the beginning and non-game business at the end, but it's still a ton of content. Fortunately, thanks to a suggestion from [personal profile] seimaisin, I was able to skip a chunk of episodes at the beginning -- I started with episode 14, then jumped ahead to episode 18 and started watching from there. Normally, I have a hard time coming in on stories in the middle, but Ep.14 starts a breather period between the end of one arc and the start of another. The new arc starts in earnest with Ep.24, which I gather is the latest place you can really jump in. Although I normally hate coming in on the middle of a story, I've found it much less of a problem here. I think this is largely because the group had been playing these characters for a couple of years before the show started, so it's literally not possible to start at the beginning.

I'm about halfway in -- I most recently watched Ep.34, which I assume was the climatic battle of the Whitestone arc, although who knows what surprises are left in store -- and am thoroughly charmed by the cast, the characters, and especially the DM, and I can't wait to see where all this is going.

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July update; August goals

Days written: 23/31
Words written: 9,386
Words of fic written: 3,890
Stories worked on: Two, plus some flashfic
Stories posted: Just the flashfic

Ain"t no cure for the summertime charts.Collapse )

Specific goals:

1. Write an average of five days per week, including at least one long block of writing time. Yes on the first. I did a couple of days of long writing, but no sprints specifically, and that's two days total, not once a week.

2. Continue work on Wardens of Ivalice 2, with a goal of publishing it in September. A little bit of progress, not as much as I would have liked.

3. Do a fic prompt meme on Tumblr next week. Success! I did the 15 characters meme, and wrote and published three stories. I enjoyed them all and will crosspost them this month.

4. Write at least one book review and one other article for Lady Business. I wrote an article (on Star Trek, fandom, and copyright), but didn't write a full book review.

Could have been better, could have been worse. Onward to August.

1. Write six days per week except while traveling (to WorldCon!).

2. Add at least 5k more words to Wardens of Ivalice.

3. I signed up for an MCU fic exchange. The story is due on September 10th, so I'll want to write a first draft this month.

4. Write and publish at least one, preferably two, articles for Lady Business.

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Making history

You've probably noticed that I've written very little about this presidential primary season -- my last and so far only post on the subject was in November. That doesn't mean I don't have thoughts, of course. I've shared plenty on Twitter (by far my most active social media presence these days), and sometimes Tumblr posts as well, and it's all but taken over my Facebook feed (although I took a break from posting election-related content myself from about March through Clinton mathematically clinching the nomination). But my journal hasn't really seemed like the venue to share them. Until now.

Because there's no way I'm letting a milestone like this go by without marking it down for posterity. On Thursday night, July 28th, 2016, I had friends over to watch Hillary Clinton become the first woman to accept the presidential nomination of a major political party, giving her a very real shot to become the first female President of the United States of America. We cheered and we cried and we broke out a bottle of champagne. As I watched her speak, I thought about the generations of women who worked and fought and died for this moment. I watched women and men basking in the glory of a victory they may have never expected to see. I looked at the faces of girls in the audience, rapt with attention and brimming with possibility. I took it all in, and I relished it. Sure, it's not exactly a surprise -- this has been the anticipated outcome of the 2016 Democratic primary since at least 2008 -- and yet there's a part of me that couldn't believe it was happening, that still can't quite believe it's real.

I've always hoped to see a woman become president in my lifetime, but for many years I assumed that the first female president would be a Republican. My reasoning? It seemed more likely to me that a moderate Republican woman (think Elizabeth Dole, or Christine Todd Whitman) could attract support from moderate Democratic women than the other way around, and that such support would be necessary to offset the people who simply couldn't vote for any woman as president. Also, any viable female presidential candidate would need to project a tough image: in particular, be a strong supporter of the military. And until not so long ago, those were policy positions associated with the Republican Party. So I thought it made sense that a centrist Republican would be more likely to break through this particular glass ceiling.

And the truth is, I would have raised a glass to that theoretical Republican, too. Chances are I wouldn't have voted for her, but I still would've cheered her accomplishment. The fact of a woman, any woman, being poised to take the highest office in the land is a blow against sexism. A small one, to be sure, if the woman in question campaigned on a regressive platform. But a blow nonetheless. And whatever you think of Hillary Clinton, her policies, and the trajectory of her political career*, you cannot argue that she hasn't made promoting equal rights for women and girls a priority throughout her life.

This isn't the end of the battle, of course. Electing a female president wouldn't end sexism any more than Barack Obama's election ended racism. We need more women and people of color -- especially women of color -- at all levels of government, from local positions to the White House and beyond, before we can truly say that we've won anything. (I think of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her vision of an all-female Supreme Court.) But just as Obama's candidacy was an important step along that path, so is Clinton's, and I hope we can hold this progress going forward.

*Which is not something I intend to argue about here. I'm happy to have substantive debate about Clinton as a politician and a candidate on another day, but that's not the point of this post. This is a moment to celebrate, for me and millions of others, and I intend to make the most of it.

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Hugo Reading update

I haven't talked much about the Hugos this year, in part because there hasn't been as much conversation on the topic this year. Like Abigail, I blame fatigue -- this is the second or third year in a row of this particular drama, depending on what you count -- along with a whiff of despair that we're never going to escape it. Although I don't subscribe to that philosophy myself, I can certainly understand why people might feel that way. But with only a week to go until the deadline, I wanted to say a few words before voting closes.

Because two of the novels were already on my Hugo nomination ballot (and one only just missed making the cut), and I'd also already checked out some of the shorter fiction (notably Binti and Cat Pictures Please, both of which I adored), I didn't have all that much to read this year. Unlike last year, when I no-voted most of the slate on principle, this year I decided to give some of the works a shot (more details in my post on the short list), and overall I'd say the stories I chose to read were worth my time. I didn't like all of them -- some (like The Builders and And You Shall Know Her...) were Not For Me, and others (like Obits and Perfect State) had some aspects I enjoyed and others that annoyed me. But I'd rather dwell on the stories that I liked, so a few words on each of them:

SevenevesCollapse )

Penric"s DemonCollapse )

Slow BulletsCollapse )

Folding BeijingCollapse )

Still on my to-do list for the next few days: I want to check out the excerpt of the Jim Butcher book that was included in the Hugo packet. I've never read a Butcher novel, despite being curious about such a popular urban fantasy author, mostly because the Harry Dresden character did not appeal to me. But this is the first book of a new series, so I feel that I should at least give it a shot. Also I admit to wild curiosity about the Chuck Tingle story, although the odds of me actually voting for it seem vanishingly small. But otherwise, this is a good place to wrap up my Hugo reading for the year. Now I can (mostly) relax and look forward to WorldCon. If you'll be there, let me know!

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I need a vacation

A vacation that's just for fun, sightseeing, and relaxation, not tied to an event (such as a con, wedding, or reunion) or someone else's travel plans or visiting family or a staycation. A vacation with a completely open itinerary. I'm trying to remember the last time I did that, and I literally can't. Going back through my travel tag, I think it was when T and I went to New York in 2011. Five years. Wow.

I don't know when, or to where, or with whom. I can't really think about it until after WorldCon, anyway, but I want to put the thought out there, for myself as much as anything.

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