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2017-09-19 10:29 am

Thoughts on Severus Snape (I blame Keira Marcos) :)

 I was listening to Keira Marcos' radio show the other day--as I often do after the toddlers are in bed and I have some peace and quiet for a bit--and she was talking with Jilly James about common tropes in Harry Potter fanfiction. Both authors were hard pressed to explain the popularity of fiction that pairs Severus Snape with Harry Potter in some way. Neither likes that pairing, because Severus Snape, to them, is virtually irredeemable in many ways. One thought that emerged in speculative fashion is the idea that fans who watch the movies, as opposed to read the books, have an easier time with a redeemable Snape. Keira pointed out an anecdote from J.K. Rowling, who herself said people don't love Snape; they love actor Alan Rickman, who played Snape.
Having read the books and watched the movies (and played in Diagon Alley at Universal Studios, and bored my students with HP anecdotes), I think Keira and Jilly are on to something there. I also think it relates to something else Keira alluded to in an earlier show, which is how fandom and fanon can take over meaning and original source material. Keira was referencing the Sentinel fandom at the time, but I think Snarry has a toehold in Harry Potter fandom because of this issue, too. Writers of Snarry normalized the pairing.
It made me think about my own work. One of my first stories upon my return to writing fan fiction was an adult Harry paired with an adult, redeemed Snape. I had been reading a LOT of HP fan fiction--glutting myself, actually--and I wanted to write a story where they came together as adults after Harry had some life experience. The result turned out pretty well. It's got some minor issues. If you want to read it, you can find it on AO3 or It was my first experience writing slash, and dealing with readers who had issues with slash. My give-a-darn about what readers think broke years ago (I started my professional life as a reporter), but it gave me some interesting insight into the fandom that I didn't have at that point.
Keira's points about Snape, however, made me think about why I wrote that story, (see the normalization of Snarry when one gluts on HP fan fiction) and how on earth I could make it work. She's utterly right: In order to redeem Snape, I had to completely rewrite his back story and add information in that the reader (Harry) didn't have as he was growing up. I also had to ascribe a level of insight to Harry that the character, in canon interpretations, really doesn't have and perhaps is incapable of having, given his age and life experiences. I also had to add a soul bond trope in order to make the pair take a second look at each other, because neither would do it with out some sort of dramatic reason to. I had to give Snape an ugly, tragic past as a Death Eater, too. 
Wow. The sheer amount of effort that takes.
So, yeah. I agree. Book canon Snape is virtually irredeemable.
Some things, though, I accepted as my personal head canon when I wrote that story. First, Ginny and Harry were not meant to be together. Screw the epilogue. Seriously. In that first story, they married too quickly, then realized they had a mess on their hands. Later stories I've written don't even go there, though I'm not into Ginny-bashing, per se. It's fun to read, though.
Second, the Malfoys could be redeemed. It's not hard to see that most of their motivation in the later books was the survival of their family, and that can be sympathetic. I'm not always convinced that Draco is the best romantic pairing for Harry, either; I've never written that pairing. However, I do know writers who can make it work beautifully without a lot of canon tweaking (cough, Keira, cough). 
And finally, I don't think Harry Potter had time as a teen to figure himself out beyond his role as "Savior"--and what an terrible title to have following you around--and in my stories, I like to think he gets that time before he commits himself to a romance that will work. My exception to that, Unexpected Help, follows the Sentinel trope, and Guide Harry meets his Sentinel Tony DiNozzo at 17, but later installments will explore how Harry finds himself in the wake of the war with his Sentinel's support. We are, none of us, exactly who are going to be at 17. We all need to do that exploring and soul-searching.
Anyway, Keira's radio shows have been inspirational and entertaining. Go, listen. I'll be here when you get back.


proffrankly: (Default)
2017-08-21 09:22 am

They're mine! Well, ours. ;)

My babies are my babies now! Adoption day was August 8 and we rocked it. 

When I notified my boss that it was finally, finally official, he gave me parental leave! I'd forgotten I was even eligible. I could have used it two years ago, when they first showed up. 

But I'm gladly taking it now.
This morning, I brought elder child to her new "school"--the three-year-old room at my accredited campus day care center--left my younger child with my husband, who had a full day of play planned, and hit the coffee house to write and drink coffee.
I did not know how much and how badly I needed this leave.
Yes, I've got some paperwork to do. New socials for the girls, for example. Applying for MA for them to supplement their new insurance.
But otherwise?
Deep breaths, Prof. Deep breaths.


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2017-07-18 11:16 am

Adoption Day Approaches!

I'm very excited that we actually have a date on a calendar to finalize the adoption of our toddlers, in three weeks. It can't come fast enough, as far as I'm concerned.
We had a great trip as a family this past weekend to visit family, attend a wedding, do some stamping, and generally play. If you've never been to Green Bay, Wisconsin, I recommend it--even if you don't like football. The National Railway Museum, in particular, was a lot of fun, and our girls enjoyed climbing all over the big trains and riding on one.
Posted some new fiction on the Wild Hare Project, including a second episode of Last One Out. I'll have to sit down and really plot out more for that work. It's a rich world to play in that I've created, and I want to create episodes that make sense. 
Enjoy the summer sun!
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2017-06-20 11:30 am

Shut up and Write Tuesdays

I've joined a writing group that's affiliated with a national movement called "Shut up and Write." And it's Tuesday. So I'm writing. I'd really like to finish a second episode of "Last One Out" for Wild Hare Project this month if I can. I'm 6,000 words in. I'd also kind of like to revisit the HP Sentinel verse I started with Tony DiNozzo as Harry's Sentinel. I wrapped the initial work up in a hurry and there's a lot of room for exploration in that piece that I'd like to go through. I'd like to write the "Luna Comes Online" part of the prequel, for example, and really expand that story.

I've got competent help with the toddlers this month, so I might be able to work something out!

I'm not working on Rough Trade in July because I just don't have a concept I like well enough to commit to for the Battle of the Five Fandoms. I look forward to reading all the contributions, though!

I'm finally inches from finalizing the adoption of the babies, though. We're waiting on one piece of correspondence. When it arrives, we can put our petitions through and get a court date to finalize. Even the judge who has been following this case is looking forward to it. My girls are all blooming this summer. Eldest is managing her new baby, and she's staying sober. I'm proud of her. New baby is thriving! I love being a grandma.

My two toddlers are growing so much that we're going to have go on a clothing shopping spree again soon. They're very into the newest Disney princess, Elena of Avalor. I like her, too; she's absolutely in charge, and that's a refreshing change from the traditional Disney princess.

I've got two nonfiction papers to write in July, too, so I'm hoping to make things work in such a way that I can get a lot of writing done over the course of the month.

Have a lovely summer!

proffrankly: (Default)
2017-04-20 12:57 pm

Of irrational anger ... and entitlement?

So, I applied for a spot on a site visit to Alnwick Castle in Scotland last week, and it never occurred to me that I wouldn't get to go. (Hence the entitlement portion of today's title.) So when it was announced that a less senior colleague in my own department was going instead today? I kinda flipped out internally.

I'm not a throwing-things type, but I was tempted.

So It makes me wonder why I was so pissed that I don't get to go?

Frankly, it's the end of term, I'm tired, and I'm stressed. Fantasizing about going to "Hogwarts" (the movies were filmed at Alnwick) was doing a lot for my mental health.

Oh, well. I'm told there may be future opportunities to go. I'll cross my fingers for that.

And maybe write a little more HP fan fiction.

proffrankly: (Default)
2017-04-10 09:47 am

Updates on children and other such stuff

I have a new grand baby! She's a gorgeous and tiny bundle of energy, at 5 lbs, 10 oz, and 19 inches long. She has a full head of dark hair, just like each of her big sisters did at birth.

I'm feeling challenged by our new circumstances. Her older two sisters are mine to raise--my husband and I are adopting them--and this little peanut will be staying with her bio mom, my oldest adopted kid, as long as bio mom stays in her sober, safe and sane space. She's been doing great, and I have high hopes.

All babies are blessings, but the timing on this could have been better.

Still, with spring comes optimism, and sunshine, and growth.


On the writing front: The battle to produce continues. I really need to write another non-fiction piece by a June 1 deadline, and I still don't have a clue what that will be about. And I'd much rather be working on my "Harry Potter and the Apocolypse" (PATENT PENDING) ;) piece--I'd like to get another episode done this month. The entire series is called "Last One Out", and the first episode has been posted on the Wild Hare Project site:

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2017-04-05 09:13 am

On the role of media in a democracy

I was tasked in my professional life to discuss the role of media in a democracy as part of a panel discussion. This is what I came up with and presented yesterday:

I think it’s important, amidst our discussion of fake news, cultural capital, and politics, to also discuss the role of the free press in U.S. history from an historical perspective. Thomas Jefferson, in written discussion about the U.S. Constitution as it was being debated and written, said:

“The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.” TJ to Edward Carrington, 1787.

There’s a lot of ideas packed into that couple of sentences, but essentially, Jefferson places a a free press above a working governing body. He also, in the same space, advocates for education and literacy as cornerstones for government.

The point, it seems, that a free people should be able to freely share information about those who would prefer power for themselves, that is, those who would govern.

Governance ought to be a public service. The free sharing of information about those who would govern is meant to keep it so. The will of the people can only be enacted when the people act on good information. And the press’s role is to provide that.

I grant you, in 1787, the free press meant, literally, the freedom to print information on a press and distribute it. And, as the old adage goes, speech was only free to those who could afford a press.

But the concept here relies on the bedrock principle that free information remains a critical component in a functional democracy. Media free from censorship or external influence provides people with information they need to make good decisions at the polls.

The media landscape today includes more than just news media, but professional news media, in my opinion, have been doing an excellent job of reporting on those who would govern. I’m tickled every time I read or see a piece that outlines evidence of lying and other falsehoods on the part of the governed. But then again, as a reporter almost twenty years ago, I considered that my duty as a journalist. It was literally my job to call out those in power. When Wisconsin’s then-Governor Tommy Thompson yelled at me during a press conference for asking questions he didn’t want answered, I reported it.

Why just say someone’s a jerk when you can show evidence of it?

Jefferson’s position relied on a couple of things: The Lockeian ideal of the information marketplace, and the assumption that an educated people would read as many sources of information as possible. The end goal in that scenario was that all news -- the hoaxes and the gossip as well as the verified -- would circulate, and the people would be smart enough to see “truth” rise to the top. It also could not imagine an era when everyone, potentially, could publish their views. The sheer volume of information and misinformation projected to the people today requires that we limit our reading and information-gathering.

And the bigger problem today is that, with that limitation, consumers tend to consult media sources that agree with their perspectives, ideals, or points of view. There’s media theory to suggest that embedded ideology, in particular, is difficult to challenge. Individuals who have firm political beliefs rarely change their minds, even faced with evidence that their perspectives are wrong. And today’s media consumers don’t have to consult a media source that might provide contrary evidence to their ideological belief structure. They feel comfortable with their same sources, which often build, back, and reinforce their ideologies. They see no reason to consult other sources, and become entrenched in their points of view.

In a society that relies on the free exchange of information, such entrenchment is dangerous. Democracy relies on free exchange, critique, and discussion, and such must cross ideological borders in order to be effective.

Achieving that is the challenge.

In my research, I’ve examined ideological discourse in farming and in mainstream magazines between 1910 and 1960, looking for commonalities and divergences. During that fifty year period in the United States, the population shifted from 90 percent rural to 90 percent urban. By 1960, I found that a significant disconnect existed between discourse in rural America and discourse in urban America. The two populations were using the same language, but they often did not mean the same thing.

I believe that gap in ideological discourse has only widened with time, and that might be the root of our current problem. By focusing only on media that agrees with our personal points of view, we miss the point of engaged and critical discussion with those who have differing points of view.
proffrankly: (Default)
2017-03-15 09:42 am

Life and Other Such Interesting Things

Shall I rant on my new page?

This isn't really related to writing. My life has gotten enormously complicated--I'm in the process of adopting my two granddaughters, ages 2 and 1, after having cared for them since they were 11 months and four weeks old, respectively. The process is taking an inordinate amount of time and driving me crazy.

We adopted their mother when she was 16, along with her fraternal twin, and that was several years ago. My kid keeps struggling to straighten her life out, and some days are wins, and some days are not. The push-pull of mothering her and the babies, especially when the kid struggles with her mental health issues, is enough to make me want to run and hide.

Well, I'll likely bury that impulse, but writing and reading have always been my key way to dissociate from life stress, so I need to make time for it.

I'm going to keep working on my fiction that I've started, but I won't post anything on public archives until it's complete. I think I've learned that lesson.

This has been a free-writing, free rant, from PF.
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2017-01-30 09:23 am

Unexpected Help Redux

So, I've been toying with rewriting and adding to one of my Rough Trade stories, a Sentinel fusion with Tony Dinozzo as Sentinel and Harry Potter as Guide. I just reread it, and I feel like there's a lot more story between the lines, as if the story told there in 11,000 words or so is the outline of a larger piece.

I've written two other S/G stories, one of which fits into that universe, with Merlin and Arthur. How would the Battle of Hogwarts gone with that legendary pair on the side of the light?

At minimum, I think I need to expand that part of the story.


The original is here:
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2017-01-18 09:58 am

A Little Bit of Everything

So, I'm starting this for no other reason than to have an alternate site for posting some of my ongoing projects. I have a live journal that I sorta use, and a lot of my material is posted on AO3. Especially the fan fiction.
However, I've got a lot more to say. I don't know how often I'll use this, but it feels kind of good to have a public journal. So much of my life has to be kept under wraps for legal reasons (and no, not the nefarious kind), that I kind of need a venting space.
So here it is. Spouse has the toddlers this morning at the mall; I'm at work trying to prep, and having no luck. Wish someone would send me flowers because winter is truly abysmal. Looking for some sunshine. It's the time of year that I always start browsing job posting in warm places. But do I really want to move to Australia?