Stephanie Burgis
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stories, scrubs, sisters
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Still sick. Blah.

(And starting to feel like General Franco in those old Saturday Night Live sketches...)

Lots of small nice things happening, though. After several really disappointing episodes at the beginning, the quality of Scrubs Season 3 suddenly shot up again on the second disc of the DVD set, and we're now really enjoying it. (If only they hadn't done product placement with SeaWorld in the first several episodes...when a comedy has to resort to pet tricks for humor, that's a bad sign. However, we seem to be past all that now, knock on wood...)

I now have a cute little writer profile on the Campbell site, which is fun. One of the best bits is that after checking that out, I ended up surfing around all the other profiles and discovering a lot of work I really like. I'm now planning to buy Alma Alexander's novel The Secrets of Jin-Shei next time I get to a bookstore--it looks like exactly my kind of book. I just feel silly for not finding it early enough that I could have snagged a review copy of her followup, The Embers of Heaven, through Interzone!

And I read my first Margo Lanagan story today, and it totally lived up to all the hype. Singing My Sister Down (which has been nominated for a Nebula) is currently online and free to read, at least until the Nebula votes happen, and it's definitely worth reading. (Although maybe not in public, if you're as soft as me--it made me cry. Luckily, Nika was still sleeping in her crate, and no one else is here, so I wasn't too embarrassed.) When you follow the link, just use "nebula" as the login name and "lanagan" as the password.

"Singing My Sister Down", which is a beautiful story about family loyalty in the worst possible situations, also reminded me of an interesting lesson I had to learn as I revised Masks & Shadows. As a writer, I am never aware of all my own preconceptions and how alien they might be to a reader. This really came to the fore in the characters of two sisters in M&S. Several intelligent and astute critiquers thought I needed to show why the older sister would be so loyal to her annoying younger sister. This totally threw me for a loop, because--coming from my own family background--I just can't imagine otherwise. Of course you're always loyal to your siblings, no matter what--and even if (as you might know in the back of your head) they're just wrong. So they robbed a bank? Or acted like a jerk? (Both of which, btw, are hypothetical examples that have never been true of either of my own siblings. Really.) Regardless, you still don't turn your back on them. That's always true--no explanation needed, it's a fact of life. Right???

Wrong, in plenty of family situations, as it turns out...although I needed to hear it about three different times before I finally believed it. The sister-dynamic and character arc worked decently well from the beginning for a few readers who had the same set of implicit and unquestioned core values that I do, but others genuinely needed a rationale for the women's behavior, or at least an explanation of how the sisters had become so close and why they'd developed so much loyalty to each other.

Sadly, I don't think that learning that lesson will keep me from making similar mistakes over and over again--part of the point about implicit assumptions is that you don't notice them yourself. But I'm hoping that it will keep me open to questioning even on issues that I absolutely take for granted. (Eg, Coffee is Delicious to Everyone, Dragons are Inherently Cool, and Who Could Not Love Jane Austen?????)

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