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Author: S.M. Carrière

When S.M. Carrière isn't brutally killing your favourite characters, she spends her time teaching martial arts, live streaming video games, and cuddling her cats. In other words, she spends her time teaching others to kill, streaming her digital kills, and cuddling furry murderers. Her most recent titles include 'Daughters of Britain' and 'Skylark.' https://www.smcarriere.com/
A Solstice Story

A Solstice Story

There’s just something magical about snow at Christmas time. Image by zanna-76 from Pixabay

It’s going to be a rough Christmas for many of us. Where I am, the government is considering an immediate, province-wide shutdown. Just a few days before Christmas. This means that I won’t be able to see my brother, who had been planning to come up and see us (he’s been very good about quarantining, so I feel safe hanging out with him). It is all for the best, though, as cases of our particular plague are spiking and hospitals are struggling to cope as it is. It’s looking increasingly like this Christmas I’ll have my cat, and Zoom. It’s a good thing my cat is a cuddle-monster. I’ll at least have some affection.

What I also have in these difficult times are stories. Stories, in fact, have gotten me, in particular, through so really tough times. Really tough. Since I have nothing else to offer today, I thought that I’d offer a story. I wrote this last year for my publisher’s Christmas season blog hop, so it’s not an original. I mean, it’s original to me, but it’s not new. Sorry. I’ve been a bit caught up making my Christmas gifts this year and I’ve run out of time.

In any case, here it is.

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Writing Advice: Get Spiteful

Writing Advice: Get Spiteful

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What a stunning walk this would be. Image by Tim Hill from Pixabay

Good afternoon, Readers!

I have a hot take:

Spite is as good a reason for creating as any.

Wait. Hear me out. Let me explain.

This past week, I was hit with two important rejections. They hit harder than rejections normally do. I’ve been at the writing game a long, long time. I’m used to rejections. Sure, I really wanted to succeed this time, but I always really want to succeed. Normally rejections just make me sad for a little bit. I drink a bit of whiskey – alright, a little bit more than a bit of whiskey – and I pick myself up and try again. This time… this time I went through the whole gamut of stages of grief. Except for denial. I’ve had too many rejections for denial to ever come up. It’s totally believable that it would happen.

Also, bargaining didn’t happen. What was I going to do? Whinge at them until their minds changed? Psht.

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Adding to My List of Obsessions: The Untamed

Adding to My List of Obsessions: The Untamed

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I have a new obsession. I seem to be switching obsessions a lot, but the truth is I’m not switching anything at all. I’m simply adding. This time around, I’m absolutely infatuated with a show on Netflix that I’m a little mad took me so long to check out. That show is The Untamed, a 2017 live-action adaptation of the Chinese fantasy novel Mo Dao Zu Shi (Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation is the English title) by author Mo Xiang Tong Xiu. The novel is not yet officially translated into English, but I’m desperate for it to be. I want this thing on my shelf. Like, yesterday. Granted, since it’s a web novel, it’s not likely to be on anyone’s actual shelf, but lordy do I want this book as a real thing in my hands.

Anyway, the show is wonderful. I understand that, from my very basic research from this post, that the live-action adaptation is quite divergent from the novel, so I’m content to watch the show while waiting for that official English translation (there are unofficial online translations, but I would like to put money into the hands of the author, you know?), knowing that the two are different enough that my enjoyment of the novel won’t be impacted by having watched the adaptation first. Also, apparently this adaptation is only one of many, and so I might have to go and find other adaptations.

The story itself is a multi-layered fantasy epic drama with grand themes of belonging, family, clan rivalry, justice and love. Centering around Wei Wuxian, also known as Wei Ying or the Yiling Patriarch, an orphaned child who was adopted by his father’s master’s family and is considered a sibling of the master’s two children Jiang Cheng and Jiang Yanli, the story is often funny, and terribly sweet, and also very, very dark.

It doesn’t pull punches, killing many folks, straining and breaking relationships, and turning heroes into villains. Everything is difficult, and you can understand why people act the way they do, calling into question what you might do if you were caught in these positions. Essentially, it’s my favorite kind of story. Give me the darkness. Give me unsure characters and well-meaning people who unwittingly make bad choices. Give me consequence and heartache and despair. Those alone, however, do not make this one of my recent favorites. What really makes it for me is the thread of a deep abiding love that moves like gossamer throughout the whole piece; a glittering filament of hope that grabs a hold of the heart and doesn’t let go.

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Fodder for the Imagination: Nothing is Canon

Fodder for the Imagination: Nothing is Canon

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Image by Drajt from Pixabay

Good morning, Readers!

There has been, shall we say, a vigorous discussion happening online about speculative fiction, and whose favourites ought to be considered canon and thusly paid homage for all eternity, regardless of either their fraught legacies or the brilliance of newer fiction. For myself, I find it particularly odd that speculative fiction, particularly science fiction, famous for writing about the future should have adherents that are so backwards-looking. These people insist that past fiction should be heralded as beacons of the genre, and all future writers should know everything about these works.

Except that they don’t. Not really.

I’m not the only one to feel this way. John Scalzi has written a couple of blog posts along these lines recently, and I find I agree with him. It isn’t necessary for up and coming writers to know everything about writers or stories of the past. They’re writing fiction, not a dissertation on the history and development of fiction.

And more, with a world that is privy now to a greater pool of stories; a great influx of them having little to do with the distinctly European roots and focus of fictions past. From primary sources, including archaeology and repositories of mythologies previously unknown to us, to modern writers drawing on their own cultural traditions and morays, what old white men wrote back in the day is decreasingly relevant.

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Fans Can Be Scary

Fans Can Be Scary

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They’re watching. Always watching. Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay

Good morning!

I hope you’re all well, given how everything is still, well, 2020. I’m writing this rather hesitantly, for many reasons (not least of all because I promised at the end of my last post that I would stop publicly obsessing about InuYahsa, and this is the only other topic I had on my list), but I do feel like this is something worth discussing.

I am an unknown author, I’m sure you’re sick of me saying so, and I bemoan the fact a little too often, if I’m honest with myself. Sorry about that. I would love to be widely read and have my books celebrated, hell, even discussed! I mean, obviously. That is the dream of every writer. Yet, I balk at the idea of becoming famous. I don’t ever want to be famous. My books? Sure! Me? Absolutely not. Fame is terrifying, and the thought of being recognized while I’m going about my business on any given day turns my stomach and cranks my anxiety up to eleven. When I hear stories from others about what their life is like after celebrity, the fear sharply intensifies. When I hear stories about what fandoms have done to creators for perceived miss-steps, I want to burn my entire ambition to the ground and retire to the country to embroider and milk cows.

Okay, I would retire to the country to embroider and milk cows… and ride horses… and open a martial arts school… if my books got big and I ever acquired any kind of wealth. That’s kinda my dream. Not the point!

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Let’s Talk Sesshomaru

Let’s Talk Sesshomaru

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I would happily watch a couple of seasons of this man and his odd companions.

It’s no good. I’m still obsessing about the anime adaptation of Inuysasha. Specifically, about Sesshomaru as a character. He’s just so interesting. I’ve had some time to think about why I find Lord Shesshomaru such an interesting character to me, and I think it comes down to one thing.

Lord Sesshomaru is full of contradictions.

The elder to two brothers, and the only full-blooded demon of the pair, Sesshomaru appears to despise his younger half-brother, Inuyasha. Throughout the show, he stands opposed to Inuyasha, competing against him to acquire his father’s heirloom sword; Tessaiga. In their first battle over the sword, they exchange serious blows. Sesshomaru doesn’t hold back. The fight ends when Inuyasha cleaves his left arm off. He is, strangely, not particularly peeved about that, and seems to accept the outcome of that fight (even going so far as to reject his arm when it’s offered to him to reattach). The brothers clash frequently throughout the series, mostly over the sword. Several times, he mentions he does not consider Inuyasha his brother. Yet, he will go on to save Inuyasha from harm more than once, as big brothers sometimes do. He even seems to be quietly rooting for Inuysasha to prove himself worthy, while simultaneously trying to stop his little brother from advancing. This is never quite so apparent than when Inuyasha’s sword absorbs the power Sesshomaru himself had spent considerable time honing. Sesshomaru’s internal desire seems to be a powerful will to see Inuyasha prove himself as the rightful master of their father’s sword, while his external actions are by all accounts, designed to stop him from doing so. This contradiction – the brother who both disdains but loves his young brother — makes him fascinating.

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It Has Everything I Hate. And Yet…

It Has Everything I Hate. And Yet…

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I find it delightful. Though so much about it means I shouldn’t.

Good afternoon, Readers!

I have been, for the past week and a bit, binge-watching InuYasha (English subs, as I much prefer the voice acting in Japanese). It is a series I began long ago, then just stopped watching. When I saw that Netflix had it, I decided to give it another go. After all, I had vaguely fond memories of it. Let me tell you, I am finding it absolutely delightful, even though it is choc-full of all the tropes that I generally despise. I’m struggling to figure out why I like the series so damned much. Make no mistake. I do. I have finished all the episodes in the original seasons, watched all of the movies, and am not far off finishing The Final Act, where the story is finally, after a long break to permit the manga to catch up, coming to a close.

There is so much about this show that I shouldn’t like. Yet somehow… well, I absolutely love it. To the point where I’m considering buying the whole lot on Blu Ray to binge whenever I please without fear of my streaming services dumping the series after a while (as they so often have with various shows).

First, let’s start with the trope I despise the most in any medium. The love triangle.

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That Short Story Thing

That Short Story Thing

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Image by Myriam Zilles from Pixabay

Good morning, Readers!

Remember a while ago when I asked for story prompts for a sort-of communal writing jam? Yeah, well, neither did I until recently. I had a month to work on this, and so naturally I completely forgot about until the week it was due. University essays all over again. Nevertheless, I figured I’d try my hand at it anyway.

This was the only prompt I received:

She impatiently checked her watch, sighing and rolling her eyes as burning debris rained onto the ground around her.

Many thanks again to Jaina for that prompt.

Short stories are not my strong suit, so it’s probably going to be stupidly rough and less than brilliant. I’ve not written a short story in a long, long time. So, if you’re reading it, feel free to have a good chuckle at my expense. I tried. Also, I’m terrible at titles.

If you can do better (and I don’t think that’d be difficult), link to your story in the comments!

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Inherent Evil is Lazy

Inherent Evil is Lazy

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Image by socialneuron from Pixabay

Surely it cannot be controversial to say that the idea of inherent evil is just terribly lazy writing, right? The broad strokes and decidedly absent nuance that the idea of inherent evil necessitates is just that – broad and without nuance. No one has to think too hard about it. Why did that person do that? Well, because they’re evil. That’s all the explanation and motivation required for a character. Why did the orc attack the elf? Well, because orcs are evil. That’s just what they are, and it’s behind everything they do.

Yawn.

It’s dull, overplayed, and it’s terribly lazy.

The idea of an entire people/culture/race being inherently evil is equally as lazy. Why did that character do something? Well, because they’re part of a race that is everything despicable. No other reason or motivation required. [Insert race] is just evil. End of. You can also see that this kind of narrative construction is exceptionally racist, too, right? World and cultures written in SFF might truly be made-up, but they do reflect real world ideas and modes of thinking. And the idea that an entire race is evil by virtue of their race is, well, racist.

And lazy.

And, happily, changing.

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