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Baycon: Monday report

Skipped a workout Monday morning because I wanted to get packed up and checked out before panels started. Went to a panel on "Bay Area's Separated Fandoms - Why?" which ended up being more of a "what" than a "why". We got something of a survey of the history of Bay Area fandom, and then a discussion of what the current significant thematic conventions are, and how various interests have moved and shifted. There was an acknowledgment that Bay Con, as an old-style "gen con" has tended to lose various segments of fandom to more focused events (especially ones also scheduled for Memorial Day Weekend!), in some cases leaving awkward gaps in the con experience, but in other cases simply acknowledging that those interests had been something of a separate con-within-a-con to begin with.

Next up, I was a panelist for a costuming discussion "make it accurate or make it pretty?" I thought it was a lively and nuanced discussion of how to balance the various possible costuming goals, with an understanding of venue, purpose, one's own role in the costumed function (e.g., staff vs. guest). Jean Martin was a fabulous moderator and my fellow panelists were all thoughtful, eloquent, and well-prepared.

Following that, I attended a panel on disability representation in genre that katerit was on (though I was planning to go anyway). Very good discussion, despite being set up as something of a standard "Disability 101" topic. (And despite the occasional obliviously derailing efforts of an audience member who was nursing some grudge from the '70s about feminism and kept trying to find some equivalence between disability marginalization and misandry...it was a bit hard to tell, given the level of incoherence. The panelists kept trying to politely re-direct. At one point I bluntly told him his question was way outside the scope of the panel.)

Finished up by having a leisurely lunch with katerit and a friend from File 770. It was a good thing we had lots to chat about, because the coffee shop staff were scaled way back and in the end I had to go hunting for someone to get us our check. And then it was back home to check on the riotous growth of the tomatoes and cucumbers (Yay! Cucumber!), to check out the two book deliveries that had arrived while I was gone, and to actually manage to unpack fully and put the suitcase away (something I hadn't managed after the Kalamazoo trip).

It was a good con for book promotion: the bookseller in the dealers' room who carried the Alpennia books sold out of what he'd brought, and all sorts of people came up to me randomly to tell me how much they'd loved them. (Including some totally unscripted and unpaid shills in panel audiences who saved me from having to promote my own work. It's so much easier to focus on promoting the books by other people that I love when I can relax about my own books.)

The next convention this year will be Worldcon, and I need to get working on the swag I plan to bring for it. I have some ideas I think people will enjoy.
The beta-reader comments for Mother of Souls have been coming in, and tomorrow I poke the remaining readers (except the ones I've already talked to about an extension) and start working on revisions.

But there's an even stronger sign that we have a real live book here: Mother of Souls now has a Goodreads listing where you can join the dozen people already proclaiming their plans to read it. (OK, there are also a couple of beta-readers there boasting that they're already doing so.) And you can pre-order Mother of Souls on Amazon now (the hard-copy, Amazon Kindle release is always a while after regular release to drive e-book sales to the Bella website).

And because I always seem to do these things in non-standard order, here's the cover not-really-a-reveal-because-people-have-already-seen-it. I really like how the design echoes the series theme (with the fabric drape) while being clearly distinct in color scheme. There are enough different things going on in the story that brainstorming for cover images was hard, but given the importance of music, I think this should represent it well.

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Baycon: Sunday report

Started the day off with a workout again. The elliptical in the hotel gym is just different enough in action from my usual machine that my calf muscles are sore! Obviously I need to change up my routine more often.

I was audience for a panel on "Truth in History" which discussed the importance of basing fiction on the multiplicity of historic truths (and not just oversimplified "official history" written by winners and conquerors)--not simply for ethical reasons, but because it makes for more varied and more interesting fiction. Also noted was the tendency of readers to learn their history from fictionalized versions, perhaps even more than from history texts. So the choices we make in writing versions of history can shape public understanding of that history, for good or ill.

I was a panelist for "Does that come in vanilla?" for which the panel description was: There is an inherent assumption that polyamory or homosexuality come paired with kink. Why is that and is it a stereotype worth debunking? Having dispensed with the simplistic question in the title, we had a spirited discussion of why people's images of marginalized sexualities tend to get bundled with specific communities, behaviors, or tastes, and how (or whether) outsiders' understandings can be broadened. But we also discussed bundled assumptions about sexuality within marginalized communities, and the purposes that these assumptions serve, but within the community and in negotiating the external image of the community. (If I recall correctly, I started my introduction by apologizing for all the academese I was going to use reflexively.)

I had a lovely spot of late lunch with ritaxis getting beta-reader feedback from her, to supplement the written notes I'll be getting. Later had off-site dinner at a small, crowded but fabulous Thai place with Karen, Chaz, Brad Lyau, and Kitt Kerr.

After getting back to the hotel, I poked my head into the concert of a Snow White musical but I'm afraid I found it didn't catch my interest, so I fulfilled the pledge I'd made to myself to actually use the hotel pool and jacuzzi. It was hard to find congenial socializing after that -- a handful of room parties, but nothing really conducive to in-depth conversation. I hung out with lurkertype (from File770) the San Jose worldcon bid party for a while, then we swung by the My Little Pony party, who were said to have amusing thematic mixed drinks (which alas were WAY TOO SWEET). And so to bed, as Pepys would say.
The holiday today almost made me lose track of it being LHMP day!

* * *

(I explain the LHMP here and provide a cumulative index.)

Ingrassia, Catherine. 2003. “Eliza Haywood, Sapphic Desire, and the Practice of Reading” in: Kittredge, Katharine (ed). Lewd & Notorious: Female Transgression in the Eighteenth Century. The University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor. ISBN 0-472-11090-X

Prolific 18th century writer Eliza Haywood was known for treating themes of love and passion in her fiction and plays. Although her public life included several long-term relationships with men and at least one “unfortunate” marriage, this article examines the treatment of passions between women in six of her texts. Ingrassia notes that views of female relationships in her work have tended to overlook the same-sex aspects, despite the narratives regularly offering alteratives to the standard “marraige plot”. In these, the women are portrayed not simply as withdrawing from a system in which they had failed to succeed, but as creating new alternatives to that system, even when potentially successful.

Unlike later texts such as Millenium Hall with its Utopian bent, Haywood’s women create pragmatic alternatives that exist within the real world, rather than “nowhere”. All of Haywood’s texts treat what might be viewed as homosocial bonds, and communities of women supporting each other. Beyond this, her relationships between women are clearly eroticized. Even when the narrative line eventually falls in with a normative paradigm, it may examine and challenge that paradigm in ways that undermine it.

The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless (1751) portrays erotic attraction between women, though it is not acted on. In The History of Jemmy and Jenny Jessamy (1753) the character of Lady Fisk goes on a cross-dressed adventure in Covent Garden that ends in picking up a (female) prostitute (but also ends in Fisk being attacked when her sex is discovered).

The British Recluse (1722) begins with a “failed heterosexuality” motif, when the two protagonists are rejected by the same man. But this results in them resolving to retire from the world together, and part of the motivation is the strong attraction they feel for each other. Eventually they are divided when one accepts a marriage offer, however the narrative itself concludes at the point when they have decided to live together, allowing the reader to imagine a different path. A similar retreat from an overt depiction of women’s lives together occurs in The City Jilt (1726) in which a jilted woman enlists her female friend’s help for revenge against her former lover. After the success of this revenge, she “gave over all Designs on the Men, publickly avowing her Aversion to that Sex” and planning to live with her female companion. Unfortunately the companion had a prior (heterosexual) commitment, leaving their time together only a “pleasurable interlude”.

In The Rash Resolve (1724) and The Tea-Table (1725) the women create supportive, emotionally-connected relationships apart from marriage structures (and often in direct contrast to them). The first involves a complex adventure of love, betrayal, abandonment, and the struggle to survive, in which the heroine is alternately betrayed and supported by the women in her life. Passion between women is introduced in both negative and positive contexts, with the betraying woman encouraging the protagonist’s passionate response on behalf of a seducer, and later a patroness who “had taken a fancy to her and was resolv’d to have her” taking the protagonist into her household and creating a domestic parnership that more resembles a supportive marriage than any of the heterosexual relationships in the work. The eventual need to choose between this loving partnership and a return to the now-contrite seducer is avoided by the protagonist’s convenient death. (A great deal of the article consists of a detailed plot summary of The Rash Resolve.)

The Tea-Table is, in effect, a literary club or salon, with women sharing and discussing texts. The table of the name is a gathering place where the fictitous women create a supportive literary community. The members include a woman depicted as explicitly rejecting marriage who has “a long intimacy” with another woman of the circle. Although men are not entirely absent from the portrayed circle, there are no positive models of heterosexual relationships within it, only a variety of alternatives. This includes a poem they discuss that was written by one woman on the death of her female companion. Toward the conclusion of the work, the hostess of the tea-table receives a letter from a long-absent female friend and experiences a strong emotional reaction. She expresses joy that their long separation (seven years) is over and eagerly anticipates their reunion. The other guests recognize “by the writing of the one, and the Look and Manner of the other, that nothing could be more sincere and tender than the Friendship between them.”

The desire between women in Haywood’s works is never directly depicted as sexual, but is described through coded words of love, passion, and emotional connection. Within these limitations, the possibility for women to create and prefer strong emotional bonds and partnerships with other women is normalized, even when narrative conventions fail to allow for those partnerships to prevail.

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Baycon: Saturday report

There's still something about the physical layout of the hotel that is just throwing me off balance. And whether it really is drifting cigarette smoke in the lobby and cafe areas or simply the ordinary dry hotel air, my lungs and sinuses have been vaguely unhappy all day. This contributed to just throwing in the towel after dinner and retreating to my room.

But I had a lovely long chat with Setzu over morning coffee. And the panels were enjoyable. I was audience for a "favorite villains" panel which included some interesting ways of looking at different flavors of "bad guy" and how they contribute to the story. After lunch I was on a panel on how to dress your characters (we turned it into a combination of issues with clothing authenticity in historic settings, and the narrative functions of clothing, as well as descriptive pitfalls). It suffered a bit from disorganization and lack of direction by the moderator, but I think the audience (who participated quite a bit) had a good time. Then I was on a rather small panel (with similarly small audience) on "genre ghettos". We talked a lot about niche marketing, how to find audiences for books that fall between cracks and how those audiences can help spread the word. Plus the ways in which reader and bookseller preconceptions about genre can hamper getting books in the hands of their intended audience.

After that I was feeling a bit peckish and after trying unsuccessfully to linger in places where I might pick up dinner partners (see previous comments about unsatisfactory layout & traffic issues), I settled for a lonely burger and then called it a day.

Baycon: Friday report

I have decided that this weekend will also serve as being a relaxing holiday as well as a convention. My programming is nicely spread out across all four days, and none of it particularly early in the morning.

The one minor annoyance about the hotel layout for my intended plans is that there's really no good "casual hanging out space". The bar is a small space off the coffee shop with high-perch chairs. There's an open seating area with tables out in front of the coffee shop that is sometimes used for table service spill-over but other times is available for casual sitting, but it's very much tables-and-chairs, not lounge space. There's a cozy little lounge area with a fireplace on the other side of the lobby, but it's included in the space being used for registration and so isn't available for general use. The middle of the lobby has a central fixture with upholstered benches on four sides, which I suppose could serve the purpose, but it's right in the middle of the coming-and-going for hotel check-in. And there's also a minor annoyance in that all these lobby-adjacent spaces (the cafe spill-over, the lobby benches, etc.) seem to me to be getting a lot of air-drift from the smoking areas outside the front of the building. The hotel itself is smoke-free, but the designated smoking areas are in locations that seem to cause bleed-over into all the natural hanging out spaces. (I may be noticing it more than usual because my lungs are still recovering from the bug I brought back from Chicago.)

But enough about annoyances. My first panel, "Connections from the past and how we deal with them" was sparsely attended, partly from being the first time-slot of the event, partly because there were evidently some snafus at con reg that were backing people up. We started with just us four panelists talking to each other and ended with three audience members (one, a husband of a panelist). But we explored the stated topic and had a good time.

After that I explored the dealers room and art show and spend a fair amount of time wandering around figuring out where things were. But eventually what I wanted was to sit in some comfortable public space where I could watch people go by and spot people I wanted to talk to or meet. And I simply couldn't find any space that worked for it. In late afternoon, right after I'd tweeted something to that effect, I bumped into Kitt Kerr and Theresa Edgerton and joined them for another wander through the dealers room. And then they were similarly looking for a place to sit and chat so we found something reasonable in the corridor leading to the cafe, where there were comfy chairs but it wasn't quite so much in the smoke-drift patterns. Being in a traffic flow area did what it was supposed to, and we picked up Deborah J. Ross and Juliette Wade, and a passing visit from Setzu Uzume (one of the Tweeps I'd made a note to make sure to meet up with), and that led into having dinner with Deborah and Juliette+family, who are people I'd never really gotten to know previously so I felt quite socially successful.

The "meet the guests" social was quite low-key with a chairs-around-tables set-up and I first spent a bit of time standing looking around for some group I felt comfortable connecting with. Eventually I gave up and used my fall-back technique of picking a table at random and saying, "Hi, I don't know any of you, can I join you?" and since I ended up being the only person with a "guest" ribbon at that table, I also felt virtuous about fulfilling the "mixer" function.

A little later I as accosted by someone I know through File770 but who uses a different name face-to-face and so had to make the connection for me. She dragged me off to the San Jose worldcon bid party (for which I'm already a pre-supporter) to chat which rounded out the evening.

Too often when I have a leisurely schedule on weekends, it means I have trouble sleeping, but so far I seem to be getting plenty. My body doesn't quite understand the whole bit about not getting up on a work-day schedule, but I lazed a bit then went down to the hotel gym for some elliptical time. I swear that I will also take advantage of the pool and jacuzzi at some point. I brought a suit and dammit I'm going to use it.

Book Intake Post: Chicago & Kalamazoo

Being sick right after getting back from my trip, in combination with the respiratory aspect meaning I’ve skipped the gym this week, has meant I haven’t completed reading anything new to review. (My current gym read is the lesbian historical romance anthology Through the Hourglass that my Margaret & Laudomia story is in. For professional reasons I won’t be doing a formal review of it--and nothing I’d post on Amazon or Goodreads--but I’ll probably say something about it when I’m done.)

So how about a “book intake post” covering both Chicago and Kalamazoo? I've added Amazon links when available for those who might want to look further.

Lauri and I went to the Art Institute of Chicago, which has a permanent display of a set of miniature period rooms, designed and commissioned by Chicago socialite Mrs. James Ward Thorne. There was a lovely catalog covering all the displays and it felt like a useful visual reference for historic room settings. (It also got me thinking about making miniature models of some Alpennian locations, but I was easily able to deflect that into “projects I will never do in this lifetime.”)

Weingartner, Fannia and Bruce Hatton Boyer. 2004. Miniature Rooms: The Thorne Rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago. Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago. ISBN 978-0300141597

The bookstore had a number of tempting sale items, but the only one I succumbed to was a thick volume of alchemical symbolism in art. I’m investing so much in alchemy books, it’s clear that a future novel will need to come back to the subject in a major way.

Roob, Alexander. 2014. Alchemy and Mysticism. Taschen, Köln. ISBN 978-3836549363

In the book rooms at Kalamazoo I’ve discovered the convenience of simply having the publishers ship rather than stuffing my suitcase for the trip home. So I only brought three purchases back with me. One is a gift, the other two are just for general background reference and inspiration.

McIver, Katherine A. 2014. Cooking and Eating in Renaissance Italy: From Kitchen to Table (Rowman & Littlefield Studies in Food and Gastronomy). Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Lanham. ISBN 978-1442227187

It looks like a serious but general-audience survey of the topic of Renaisance Italian food. This isn’t deeply technical or detailed. You could probably read it through in a single evening (which I have yet to do).

Jackson, Deirdre. 2015. Medieval Women. British Library Publishing, London. ISBN 978-0-7123-5865-1

I’m a sucker for glossy collections of visual references on particular themes, especially women's lives. This is a selection of illustrations from medieval manuscripts showing a wide variety of aspects of women’s lives. Generally I use this sort of work to research details of material culture that often are incidental to the overt subject of the scenes. For example, one depiction of a woman being beaten shows her headdress having fallen off and therefore shows aspects of its construction that wouldn't be visible in place.

The fun part of having books shipped is that it means you get a series of packages in the mail over the next month or two. Like having an extended birthday party. I got the first one yesterday -- part of my Penn State University Press purchase, once more on the theme of alchemy, this time looking at the social, philosophical, and religious context in which serious thinkers such as Roger Bacon turned their thoughts and pens to the topic. Penn State's Magic in History series is a great resource in general.

Janacek, Bruce. 2015. Alchemical Belief: Occultism in the Religious Culture of Early Modern England (Magic in History). Penn State University Press, Pennsylvania. ISBN 978-0271050140

For some reason, although they were shipped at the same time, the second book I bought from this press was sent separately. This book analyzes the inventory taken of Il Magnifico’s posessions at the time of his death. Just in case one wanted to know how to outfit at opulent Italian villa or two...

Stapleford, Richard. 2014. Lorenzo de' Medici at Home: The Inventory of the Palazzo Medici in 1492. Penn State University Press, Pennsylvania. ISBN 978-0271056425

Yet to be shipped are the following books from Boydell & Brewer. They’re usually good for a variety of topics, especially including textiles, clothing, food and cookery, and the occasional other topic of interest. (And, as always, the annual Medieval Clothing and Textiles volume.)

Medieval Clothing and Textiles #12 (advance purchase, as it wasn’t released yet at the conference)

The Medieval Clothing and Textiles volumes have the same broad mix of topics as the DISTAFF sessions at Kalamazoo and Leeds, although only an occasional paper specifically comes from those sessions. Like a box of mixed chocolates, you never know what you're going to get, but overall it will be delicious.

Hyer, Maren Clegg & Jill Frederick (eds.). 2016. Textiles, Text, Intertext: Essays in Honour of Gale R. Owen-Crocker. Boydell Press. ISBN 9781783270736

I haven't looked at the contents list of this yet, but bought it for sentimental reasons. Gale is such a lovely gracious presence within the DISTAFF group, and so very supportive of researchers of all types.

Chapman, Adam. 2015. Welsh Soldiers in the Later Middle Ages, 1282-1422. Boydell Press. ISBN 9781783270316

Despite the new and interesting places my writing-related research interests have drifted to, I haven't entirely abandoned medieval Wales. I have a specific future writing project that this might be useful for...

I bought something at the University of Chicago Press booth, now where did I put that slip? I have the credit card receipt, but not a copy of the order form, so I guess I’ll just have to wait until they show up to remember what I bought!

And then here are a variety of books on culinary topics that looked interesting enough to snap pix of, but that I didn’t buy. In some cases, the contents looked either too elementary or too literary-oriented to be of specific interest to me. In other cases I may decide to order them on further consideration.

Nadeau, Carolyn A. 2016. Food Matters: Alonso Quijano's Diet and the Discourse of Food in Early Modern Spain. University of Toronto Press, Toronto. ISBN 978-1442637306

This one was on the "a bit too literary-oriented" side, exploring food references in Don Quixote, but for those who specialize in Iberian cuisine, it's worth a further look.

Salloum, Habeeb. 2013. Scheherazade's Feasts: Foods of the Medieval Arab World. University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 978-0812244779

I left this one on the shelf when I saw the line in the description, "The recipes are translated from medieval sources and adapted for the modern cook." But for those who are completists in historic Arabic culinary books (or who want to keep track of the pop culture versions that other people may be using for historic purposes), it's a beautiful little book and is probably useful for general background.

Wall, Wendy. 2015. Recipes for Thought: Knowledge and Taste in the Early Modern English Kitchen. University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 978-0812247589

A study, not of cookery, but of culinary literature as a genre. The blurb suggests that this may focus more on philosophical analysis than some may be interested in. Sample quote: Recipe exchange, we discover, invited early modern housewives to contemplate the complex components of being a Renaissance "maker" and thus to reflect on lofty concepts such as figuration, natural philosophy, national identity, status, mortality, memory, epistemology, truth-telling, and matter itself. Kitchen work, recipes tell us, engaged vital creative and intellectual labors.

Marty-Dufaut, Josy. 2015. La Cuisine Normande au XIIIe Siècle. Bayeux: Heimdal. ISBN 978-2-84048-422-6

In French. I may be sorry for not picking this up when it was in front of me, as it looks like it might be difficult to order in the US. (It doesn't have an Amazon listing.) My recollection is that it looked like a glossy "some history and some adapted recipes" work. Here's the catalog description from the above link.

La cuisine du XIIIe siècle a été longtemps méconnue, occultée par les ouvrages emblématiques, Le Viandier de Taillevent et Le Mesnagier de Paris, parus au XIVe siècle. Le XIIIe siècle est une époque d’extension, de commerce intense, d’échanges culturels. C’est l’âge d’or pour les Normands qui s’implantent dans de nombreux pays. L’Europe occidentale présente une unité et une communauté jamais connues jusque-là. La cuisine est un témoignage de cette cohésion européenne. Cet ouvrage s’intéresse aux recettes présentées dans les manuscrits anglo-normands et scandinaves. Ils sont la copie de textes antérieurs issus de la France, de la Sicile, eux-mêmes copiés à partir d’autres textes ou trouvant leurs sources d’inspiration dans la culture gréco-latine et la cuisine de l’Orient. Les plats emblématiques qui feront la réputation de la cuisine de Taillevent y apparaissent déjà. Les bases de la cuisine médiévale y sont données. L’art culinaire est en constante évolution.

Woolgar, C. M. 2016. The Culture of Food in England, 1200-1500. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0300181913

A general social history of food in England. Probably very like all the general social histories of food in England that have been published before.

Montanari, Massimo. 2015. A Cultural History of Food in the Medieval Age. Bloomsbury Academic. ISBN 978-1474269919

And, similarly to the preceding, a general survey work, aimed at non-specialists. It looks like this series is intended for college survey classes and the like. Books of this sort may or may not be written by specialists in the field, with all the potential weaknesses that can bring. (Based on my own experience, it's not uncommon for publishers with this sort of series to approach a potential author on the basis of hearing a single paper in the field. I got approached about writing a survey of medieval clothing volume for a similar series once and was a bit flabbergasted that that was all it took. I declined, noting that the project would be of more professional benefit to an academic who needed material for their cv.)

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Random Thursday: Trying not to teach

My department has been participating in a little "internal audit" this week. It might sound scary, but it's really a combination of a sort of friendly "readiness assessment" to identify issues we might want to address or prepare for in respect of upcoming external inspection visits, and also to provide an opportunity for practicing interacting with auditors for people like me.

Now, I have a peculiar problem when it comes to interacting with auditors, because the appropriate behavior is supposed to be something resembling a trial witness facing hostile cross-examination. Answer only the questions asked, be clear and concise and avoid volunteering information, especially if it might inspire further questions.

Clear, I can manage. Concise...not so easy. Avoid volunteering information? Might as well ask me to hold my breath until I turn blue. When someone asks me about an investigation, my impulse is to begin, "Well, it's complicated...let me give you some background."

I love to teach. I love to explain. I love to talk about how complex and inter-related everything is. I love nuance and ambiguity. None of these things are appropriate when talking to an auditor. So I practice with the internal reviewers and watch my boss wince at the other end of the table every time I offer one more word than the prescribed answers.
It was pointed out in comments last week that one thing that may be behind the very uneven time-flow of the story is its origins in a much shorter work. So now I'm curious to what extent that shorter work focused primarily on the two time-periods that take up such a disproportionate amount of the page: the day of Sara's 11th birthday party, and the day of Mr. Carmichael's return from Russia. In any event, today's discussion continues with the fateful birthday party with Chapter 7 "The Diamond Mines Again".

We begin with a detailed re-emphasis of Sara's wealth, in reviewing the presents her father has arranged for her. His lack of sense with regard to spending is only emphasized by her reception of those gifts: she seems most delighted with the books, and while she philosophizes over "the last doll", it's clear that dolls themselves--with all their opulent accessories--aren't particularly important to her. The doll Emily is important as a story-telling locus and an emotional focus (as sort of an object-diary to whom she tells her inmost thoughts), but not quite so much as an object for play-manipulation. So the "last doll" with its elaborate clothing and accessories serves as the ideal symbol of excess and waste: important to Captain Crewe to represent wealth, unimportant emotionally to Sara (witness how little regret is involved when she eventually disclaims ownership of the doll, compared to how she clings to Emily), and a thorn in the side of Miss Minchin who has had to front the money for the gifts and will be left holding the bag.

But the beginning of the birthday part also has two key emotional scenes. Sara's request that Becky be allowed to stay to witness the opening of the presents is both a kindness and an imposition. A kindness, in that she publicly acknowledges not only Becky's basic humanity, but her right to "be a little girl" and enjoy girlish pleasures like dolls. Mind you, at the age of 16, a working class girl like Becky is the farthest thing from "a little girl" in this sense. And Sara's inclusion of her in the party is, in some ways, the farthest thing from a "kindness", as it brings her to the disapproving attention of Miss Minchin and--as we will see--ends up trapping her in a location where her accidental eavesdropping could have severe consequences. It's one thing to feed Becky stories and meat pies in the privacy of Sara's rooms, and another to single her out on a public setting. But Sara isn't always wise when her sense of justice is riled up, as we see on other occasions. And I don't see this as a flaw in her, but rather a consistent aspect of her realistic complexity.

The other key emotional scene is the foreshadowing when Lavinia asks how easy it would be for Sara to pretend to be a princess if she were a beggar and lived in a garret. The scene is a bit clumsy only for the fact that it occurs immediately before the announcement of the arrival of Captain Crewe's solicitor who (as it happens) is bringing news of his death and ruin. But it gives us a chance to glimpse how Sara thinks her imaginings would function if she were destitute, before she has to deal with the reality. (And, as we'll see, the reality is that using imagination to fight immediate physical and emotional hardship is not quite as easy as one might think.)

So we will leave this week's discussion in the same way that Sara leaves the schoolroom with the presents: with "the Last Doll sitting upon a chair with the glories of her wardrobe scattered about her; dresses and coats hung upon chair backs, piles of lace-frilled petticoats lying upon their seats." And, like Becky, we will linger just long enough to need to duck into hiding when Miss Minchin returns with the solicitor, so that we can listen in on their conversation...

My BayCon Schedule

I'll be enjoying hanging out with friends and fellow writers at BayCon this weekend. It's at a new venue this year (the San Mateo Marriott) and I'll be trying to add a bit of relaxing down-time by checking in Thursday after work. If you're going to be there, by all means find me to say "Hi!" and if you're there Thursday evening as well, by all means ping me for a meet-up. But even moreso, if you think I might have entertaining things to say on any of the following topics, check out the panels listed below.

I don't typically volunteer for costume-related panels because my costuming activities tend to be in other venues, but there was an interesting one on dealing with clothing in world-building, and another that was on a topic I've enjoyed discussing before (in SCA contexts) that revolves around compromise trade-offs depending on what your costuming goals are.

The panel on "marketing ghettos" is certainly likely to be lively, given how much work I do to climb over the walls of the various marketing categories I fall into. And I've ventured a little out of my comfort zone to plunge into the debate over why/whether non-normative sexualities have a knee-jerk association with "kink" (however one interprets that) in SFF contexts. (Hint: I can see both sides of the thesis and will cheerfully talk about both, although one can probably guess which side I fall on personally.)

And if you spot me sitting alone in the lobby of the coffee shop with my laptop, don't hesitate to introduce yourself! If I didn't want to talk to people, I'd be hiding in my room.

Friday

Connections From The Past and How We Deal With Them
Friday 13:00 - 14:30, Synergy 5

Hey, that creepy ex-boyfriend just found me on facebook. Wow! That beloved, long lost buddy is at an SCA event. Oh... you're THAT Sally! The good, the bad and the chew-your-own-leg off aspects of people from your past and how they shape your present. Is it good or bad that Facebook puts us back in contact with people we'd never have seen again?

Panelists: Colin Fisk (M), ElizaBeth Gilligan, Heather Rose Jones, Ja Shia

Saturday

Costume in Fiction - Creating the total package
Saturday 14:30 - 16:00, Synergy 5

Your hero from another world isn't going to be wearing blue jeans and a t-shirt (most likely), nor will your altermate history ... come discuss the bare bones of costuming challenges as they are found by writers.

Panelists: ElizaBeth Gilligan (M), Heather Rose Jones, Denise Tanaka, Debbie Bretschneider

Marketing Ghettos
Saturday 16:00 - 17:30, Collaborate 2

Just what is the difference between Dark Fantasy and Horror Thriller? Modern Fantasy vs. Alternate History?

Panelists: Jay Hartlove (M), Heather Rose Jones, Kyle Aisteach

Sunday

Does That Come In Vanilla?
Sunday 13:00 - 14:30, Synergy 4

18 AND OVER ONLY, PLEASE!

There's an inherent assumption that polyamory or homosexuality come paired with kink. Why is that and is it a sterotype worth debunking?

Panelists: Lance Moore Mr. (M), Heather Rose Jones, Tory Parker, Jean Batt

Monday

Historical Costuming- Make it Perfect or Make it Pretty
Monday 11:30 - 13:00, Convene

Historical costuming frequently runs into a choice between modern aesthetics and precise historical accuracy. Panelists will cover a variety of views on finding the balance.

Panelists: Jean Martin (M), Ms Sandra Durbin, Stacy Ferguson, Heather Rose Jones, Jim Partridge, Fr John Blaker

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