If you are into roleplaying or fantasy art it's very likely you have at least heard of Larry Elmore, he is the one who did the famous D&D red box and set the tone for D&D art for years.
He is also a very personable and approachable guy, bot T. and I were stunned by his friendliness and down-to-earth attitude a few years ago when we met him at GenCon.

The news is that he is planning to do a full-color art book including most of his pieces, and is crowdfunding it through Kickstarter.
(it's already a few times above the set sum), it's good to see more and more established creatives taking the crowdfunded route.

(Crossposted to [livejournal.com profile] crowdfunding )
I confess I'm very tempted by the new Kindle Paperwhite, but with two Kindles already a third one would be a bit of an overkill...

My two ones work like a dream, only thing is that both were bought from the US Amazon site and when my original Kindle 4 took a fall I had to pay VAT on the replacement since it came from outside the EU.

So, I'm offering both of them for sale, if they find new homes I'll upgrade to a European Paperwhite.

Here is my Kindle Keyboard, 'Zenodotus'

Photo under the cut )

It is WiFi only. This model is now out of production, it has audio capability, so if you are into audiobooks this model is for you. Available for 80 $ / 63 Euros (originally 129 dollars)

Here is my Kindle 4 (or 'baby' Kindle)

Click to see )

Smaller and lighter, no external keyboard, no audio, this one is perfect as a 'on the go' reader available for 50$ / 39 euros

I also have two leather cover for them:

Both under the cut )

Free shipping everywhere, payment via paypal, if interested either post here or PM me, please.

Signal-boosting is appreciated. :)

marina_bonomi: (book)
Yesterday's Poetry Fishbowl had a fascinating theme: 'Influential women'. A series of prompts combined in inspiring [livejournal.com profile] ysabetwordsmith to write Rarely Well Behaved .

While I like her work and I get her point, I must admit that I have trouble with the last verse, because, well one can be a good girl and sit at the loom because she doesn't know any better, but one can also choose freely to do it, not waiving any right in the process.

So, following the age-old tradition of answering a poem with a poem, here is mine

They say: “ It’s out of fashion”,
“ You are limiting yourself” they say,

“ You could be so much more”,
“you are throwing away our  efforts”.

They feel diminished somehow,
these proud women of progress

that one of us could, knowingly,
choose to be ‘just a housewife’.

But I’m not ‘just’ anything, sisters.
I choose the path I walk on, just like you;

With my eyes open, with my weapons ready.
I know my strenghts, my weaknesses.

I am here, building my home no matter what,
Guarding and preserving what I do love

With all my powers of mind and body
Just like you do, in your own way.

If you fight for the right to choose, sisters,
Then respect mine, just to begin.

Why is for some so hard to believe
That I know what I’m doing,

That home, and husband, and children
Are just what I want and need for myself.

Just as you fight your war outside
I fight for my cause right here

One thought at time, one word at time,
Raising my children to be decent people

Who think, who question, who love,
who can choose their own path

Being there as a mother, a teacher
An equal partner with a brain, a soul

And hands that are at ease in the kitchen
And on the looom, because there is where

My talents lie. Why should I pretend
Otherwise to make you happy, sister?

It was known once, long ago,
The old ones had it right:

“ The woman at the loom, one thread at time,
may weave the fate of nations”.

I'm working on getting some of my works published as e-books, if you like my writings and would like to show support tips are appreciated.
Hello everybody,

new blog, new site...I'm looking forward to taking my first steps here.
And would really appreciate help. :)

Is there an archaic English word for 'orange' (the fruit, not the color)? alternate names for other fruits of the citrus family are also appreciated.

Thanks! :)
marina_bonomi: (book)
Some time ago I was in the mood for some light, fun reading, I happened across White Tiger by Kylie Chan, the blurb intrigued me, I went with the book and was hooked right from the start.

Let it be said immediately, it isn't a 'perfect' book (if such things even exist) there are moments in which I wish the editing had been tighter, sometimes the romance is a bit schmaltzy and the action feels a bit repetitive, but nothing of this mattered overmuch to this reader, because a whole lot of things felt absolutely right, and one of these is the outsider gaze of the main female character, Emma.

Wave in front of me a book, any book, set in China (in the wider sense, including Taiwan and Hong Kong) and I'll bite, but most of the time when those books are written by non-Chinese authors (mrs. Chan is not an ethnic Chinese) I end up throwing  them against the wall out of frustration (sometimes outright fury, thankfully those are few and far between) due to mistakes, misunderstandings, poor research, exoticizing, 'I want to show you how much research went into this' or anything in between. Not so with White Tiger and the other books in the series.

Emma, the female protagonist is an Australian expat living in Hong Kong, she works as a teacher in a kindergarten and, in her free time, as a nanny. In the same day she leaves her job and gets an offer from one of her private clients, a mr. John Chen, to become a live-in nanny for his daughter. John Chen isn't exactly what he seems and Emma finds herself catapulted in a world she didn't have an inkling about.

When I surfaced for air, having zoomed through White Tiger, Red Phoenix, and Blue Dragon I tried to find out what had me so enthralled in what basically is fantasy light reading, I found a few things.

The setting: as one could hope for, the author having lived there, Hong Kong comes alive in the trilogy, and not as the magical exotic city where magical things happen, Hong Kong here is  alive and concrete (pardon the pun), pollution and maddening traffic very much included.

The cast of characters is wide, but not exaggerated and they are, by and at large, well rounded.

The supernaturals in Hong Kong are mono-cultural (a nice change from the usual) and part of a whole system that is internally consistent and get explained little by little. 

The main thing, though, is Emma's gaze. She is a foreigner and an outsider, her closest friends are also foreigners (an American and an ethnic Chinese from Australia), at the beginning her relationship with the local people is just about work-only, she is adjusted, reads and researches but a lot of things go above her head while she has very present some matters that can directly impact her life ( the 'trophy Western worker' for instance as a way for a company to gain face),and this doesn't change all of a sudden  when she finds herself working for a shen (I'm trying not to spoil too much).

Some of the supernaturals like her from the beginning, some are very standoffish because they don't like the idea of a foreign woman in their midst and, in either case, when they talk and joke among themselves a lot of it is lost to Emma because she doesn't share either their cultural milieu or their common history. It is very well done, half a sentence there, a literary allusion buried in dialogue here, a joke that has somebody reacting strongly for no apparent reason someplace else, definitely not enough to bore a reader with no previous knowledge of Chinese myths (and the tasty morsels are explained in the author's note), but at the same time enough to give cultural dephth  to the whole and to startle this reader into delighted laughter more than once either because I got it or because I didn't and wanted to find out.

So, my compliments to mrs. Chan for the whole and, specifically, for using the outsider gaze as it should be used but too rarely is.

It has, in many ways, but no matter what some Western businnessmen may think (I've read people complaining in earnest about 'Those troublemaking NGOs from Hong Kong badmouthing the PRC'), the one thing that hasn't changed is the absolute supremacy of the party.

And so, Monsignor Thaddeus Ma Daqing, the 44-year old auxiliary bishop of Shanghai has been held under house arrest for the last three months, even since he has had the courage ('the gall' according to Beijing) to distance himself in public, during the mass for his ordination, from the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association.

Bishop Ma, has been living in solitary confinement in the Shanghai seminary, the students have been forced by the governement to return home and, according to news agency Uca News, the bishop's closest helpers are undergoing a 12-hour a day re-education course.

The only remaining link between Bishop Ma and the outside world is his blog , his most recent post is dated 21st of September. Is he still there? If not, where is he?
marina_bonomi: (book)
A post by one of my LJ friends ( [livejournal.com profile] la_marquise_de_, this time ), provides a lot of food for thought and sparks a post of mine. I count myself fortunate in my friends.

La marquise ponders on many things, one I feel strongly about is the matter of principles, rules, duty and sacrifice as portrayed in fantasy literature.

If one reads recent productions, by and at large it feels that we are in the age of the anti-hero, the sheer number of books with vampire main characters, for instance, seems indicative to me. Not considering the popularity of the ultimate predator as hero, though, even normal human 'heroes' seem to be mostly loners who live by their own rules, disregarding those of the society around them as arbitrary or just irrelevant, 'I do what I like and I don't give a ****' people.

I understand the idea of cycles in history and literature, I understand growing tired of 'clichèes' and going for something else (even though at times I think some people don't get the difference between a clichè and an archetype), but when I read over and over again on authors' and readers' forums that 'evil characters are more fun' or that 'goody-two-shoes are boring' I start to worry.

Let me say it loud: if a good character is boring it is because it is written badly.

I see  this idea that being good is effortless and a good character is also perfect, we all should know enough, by simply living and dealing with people around us, to realise that it is an idiocy : being good, being decent, takes effort. The tentation of shortcuts, the tentation of 'but no one is looking, no one will know' is always there, should be always there. Rules chafe, even though one recognizes the need and embraces them willingly, doubts creep in, hard choices need to be made, the dark night of the soul can threaten even the most devout and committed of paladins (or rather particularly the most devout).

One of my favorite characters (non-fantasy, but the reasononig is the same) is Brother Cadfael, the benedictine sleuth created by Ellis Peters. None who is aquainted with him can doubt that Cadfael is a good man, but he is also a complex character.
Cadfael is a Welsh monk living in an English abbey on the border between the two countries, he has taken the cowl in his fifties after a rather adventurous life, with both eyes well open and loves the life he has chosen, warts and all. With all that, he often comes in contact with different grades and shades of evil and at times has to choose, as he puts it, between obeying the rules or The Rule, but in no case is this  a travesty for 'do whatever I like' .

In the last book of the Chronicles, Cadfael comes to know that his natural son is being held prisoner, and he leaves the abbey against the wishes of his abbot to do what he feels is his superior duty towards a son he didn't know he had, knowing fully well that he might have thrown away his chosen life  with that decision. The book closes with Cadfael prostrated in front of the altar of Saint Winifred, in the abbey's church. The reader is left hoping that the errant sheep will be welcomed back, but we don't know, and neither does Cadfael.

Here are the two themes that [livejournal.com profile] la_marquise_de_ (rightly, in my opinion), feels are lacking in most contemporary fantasy : duty and sacrifice, the idea that there are things worth doing, no matter the cost to oneself; the idea that my own convenience could and should take a distant second place to something else because that is the right thing, the idea that someone might choose to lay down their life, with no resurrection spell or last-minute rescue, because that is how it should be.

That is, I think, the main reason why I loved, and still love, The Wheel of Time saga (I haven't read the latest books yet), because, no matter how derivative the first book might be, or what the holes in the world-building are, or how in need of a tighter editing that huge beast was, the themes of sacrifice, choice, lesser evil, and duty, embraced, freely chosen or shouldered from what appears to be chance ('why me?') are constant threads giving meaning to the whole, that, for this reader, covers a moltitude of literary sins.

It goes without saying that I highly recommend [livejournal.com profile] la_marquise_de_ 's books to anyone wanting to read fantasy with brains and elegance, her most recent post mentions quite a few other writers of note.

Death is lighter than a feather,  duty is heavier than a mountain.

The Poetry Fishbowl  for October has just been opened. :-)
The theme for today is horror: demons

Join us, leave a prompt, read others' prompts and join a conversation or just read the poems that will be posted during the Fishbowl; the more, the merrier. 

Read Today

Oct. 1st, 2012 09:13 pm
marina_bonomi: (facepalm)
Because of sexual discrimination, women in ancient China seldom received education. Women were not expected to write so their work were usually lost to the time.

Really? Everywhere in China? Always in ancient China, never mind that (restricting it to imperial history) 'ancient' (or 'traditional') China goes from 221 BCE to 1644 CE (if you don't count the Manchus, 1911 CE if you do)?

And how come, then, that one of the most famous ancient Chinese historians is a woman, one who was  also a poet and  court librarian, taught the Empress and the ladies of the court and whose daughter-in-law was  a writer too?

How come that Stanford University Press has published Women Writers of Traditional China a 928-page anthology including works by about 130 female poets (and poets only) from the Han dinasty  to the end of the empire?

This kinds of extreme generalizations drive me crazy, they tend to pass from a divulgative book (or article) to the next without anyone bothering to check, much like the 'dirty and brutish' view of the European Middle Ages or the fable of the widespread hate of cats in said Middle Ages for being witches' familiars  (never mind that the animals most often quoted as diabolical were black dogs and that the height of the witch hunts was in early modern times).

It isn't the case of the OP, but often, when I see this kind of statement about women being oppressed in ancient China I can almost hear a congratulatory self-pat on the back, an unspoken 'here it was different'. Pray, tell: how many women writers can you mention for the Roman Empire? How many Greek female poets but for Sappho?
Today the postman brought me a little treasure, a paperback copy of The Assisi Underground by Alex Ramati, the book was published  originally in 1978 in the UK under the title Why the Pope Kept Silent, it is a non fiction work telling how a network of people in Assisi among which Father Rufino Niccacci hid and protected hundreds of Jews.

I was familiar with mr. Ramati through his And the Violins Stopped Playing an haunting, heart-breaking book on the Rom and Sinti genocide. I had seen the TV movie based on The Assisi Underground but didn't remember the book until I found it by chance, I ordered it on the spot.

This afternoon I was browsing the epilogue (more of an Author's Note, really), and found these words:

 The Yad Vashem  (...) had arranged a ceremony to honour the poor peasant monk (sic) who became the hero of a wartime rescue operation. A forgotten hero. His file was only number 876 and he was only the 300th person to be honored in Israel and only the twenty-fifth Italian. For, in spite of their love for the dramatic, the Italians showed great restraint in telling of their actions which had resulted in saving 80 per cent of Italian Jewry, the opposite of what happened in the rest of Europe, where, except for Denmark with its 8000 Jews spirited away to Sweden, 80 per cent of the Jews perished. All in all, 32000 Italian Jews and several thousands foreign Jews were hidden successfully by the Italian people, most of them in monasteries and religious institutions. Monsignore Montini, who headed the Holy See's Aid Service to Refugees during the war and who in 1955 was to become a Cardinal and later Pope Paul VI turned down the gold medal offered him by the Jewish Community of Italy. 'I acted in the line of duty' he answered, 'and for that I am not entitled to a medal'. 

And / or fans of Magic the Gathering.

Hubby's newest 'remake' of a Magic the Gathering card, this time it is Serra Angel

You can see it larger on DeviantArt

Another piece and we'll be ready to send that submission email to MtG's art director, then...rinse and repeat for how long it will take to open that door.
A Chinese cartoonist's opinion on the ongoing anti-Japanese demonstrations in China .

For obvious reasons the author of Hexie Farm is known only through his (her?) alias 'Crazy Crab'.

Patriotic turtles
marina_bonomi: (sad)
Yesterday I had a rather instructive experience.

I had driven to the mall for a quick run of grocery shopping, that done I went to the parking lot with my cart, I was moving between two cars to reach my own when I realized that the cart was too big to go through (I am very short sighted and I have trouble gauging distances, for that reason I always move slowly when pushing a cart or driving in a parking), as soon as I realized, I backed off and moved to go around the car, just then someone from the inside honked and started yelling someting I didn't catch.

A woman came out of the car and assaulted me verbally : " Where do you live, we are in Italy! If I hadn't caught you you'd have pushed through, scratched three or four cars and driven off!!"

I tried to calm her down: " Madam, there are no damages, as soon as I saw the space was too narrow I went the other way".

" Only because I caught you! but I'll write down the license plate, I'll call the police and we'll see what they say".

" Madam, there is no damage whatsoever"

" If I hadn't caught you there would have been, and you'd driven away, but I'll tell the owners of the other cars. And I've your license plate, I'll call the police, you'll hear from me again!"

" Madam, there is no damage and you can't say what I would have done if there had been some."

" Are you telling me that you'll have left a card? But it doesn't end here, I'll call the police, I have witnesses!".

It went on like this for about ten minutes, I trying to defuse this absurd situation staying calm and polite and she repeating over and over " I'll call the police, I have witnesses, this doesn't end here". At some point she and her cohorts entered the mall, I snapped a photo of her undamaged car with my cell-phone just in case and drove home. It took a while to stop shaking,

I couldn't understand her obsession with calling the police. Afterwards, thinking of some other things she had said, it dawned on me: she had classified me as  immigrant- likely paperless and was threathening to call the police to cower me.
I was breaking the pattern by not being intimidated, I was denying her her power trip and she went in a loop, trying the same approach over and over because it had to work.

A rather graphic demonstration of hidden privilege. I doubt she would have reacted in quite the same virulent way if she hadn't  mislabeled me.

marina_bonomi: (book)
Some of you may remember that I mentioned having an half-baked idea for a paranormal romance, I went so far as posting here a snippet of the beginning. I think I wrote about 400 words in all, the story didn't let me be but something was off and the words weren't right.

Last week I thought of some changes, and the pieces of the puzzle started coming together, my characters started talking to me and I find myself writing every night, linking together the scenes they show me during the day.

I realize that's nothing new or grand for the many writers I'm lucky to have in my friends list, but for me it is, since every time I have written fiction it has been in short form.
I'm used to writing fairy tales, not novels, Ming Li has been my longest work to date and it's just over 7000 words, so finding myself at 5200 words with a whole lot of story left to tell it's a new and very exciting sensation.

And if my male main character is determined to be something of a dissident in addtion to a composer and wants to use his music to bring some issues to the attention of the public in a book that was supposed to be pure escapism... ...well, if a character takes the bit between his teeth and runs that's a good sign, right?

*crosses fingers* 
A nice summary of the Pe'Sla situation in Q&A format

Both the petition and the fundraiser are still going on, the petition in particular seems to have slowed down a bit.

Although the auction has been cancelled, Pe'Sla isn't safe yet.
The auction has indeed been cancelled (my guess is that they didn't want to face an outcry, in particular after Professor Anaya's words), but Pe'Sla has not been taken off the market.

The effort to secure it as a sacred site open to all the tribes who want to pray there is still going on, the petition is still open (and above 45,000 signatures as of now) , so is the IndieGoGo campaign , steadily approaching the 300,000 $ mark.

The risk now is that people believe that the danger is past, letting Pe'Sla slip into the shadow of 'past news' and abandoning the Oceti Sakowin to fight alone.

If you have any way of bringing the plight of Pe'Sla to the attention of the media (national or local, it doesn't really matter), please do so. I've just written to 'my' newspaper, if enough of us do this, Pe'Sla and the Oceti Sakowin won't be the next victims of public forgetfulness. 
From the latest update on the IndieGoGo campaign page :

The auction scheduled on August 25, 2012 for the acreage called Reynold’s Prairie, also known as Pe’ Sla to the Oceti Sakowin (Great Sioux Nation), has been cancelled on direction of the owners representative, according to Brock Auction, Co., Inc: http://www.brockauction.com/upcoming.htm

The owners are not commenting as to why the auction has been cancelled. At this time, Lastrealindians, Inc. is consulting with Oceti Sakowin Tribes and attempting to find out more information. Updates forthcoming.

I'm almost afraid of believing it, and at the same time I feel like singing and dancing tonight.

The IndieGoGo campaign is still going, at the moment it has raised 211,168 US $.The promoters have decided to extend the fundraising deadline to try to reach their 1 million dollars target, but as of now the auction is STILL scheduled for this Saturday. If you have been thinking about contributing, now is the moment.

In other news the Rosebud Sioux tribe has allocated 1.3 million dollars to buy as much of Pe'Sla as possible (I'd like to point out that the Great Sioux Nation doesn't have a casino-based economy, setting apart that much is seriously going to hurt).

There might be some light in the distance: the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Professor James Anaya “urged today the United States Government and the local and state authorities in South Dakota to address concerns expressed by the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota peoples about an impending private land sale in the Black Hills region of the central-northern state, that will affect a site of great spiritual significance them” (quoted from the campaign updates), read more here

The auction, though, has neither been suspended nor delayed

If you can't do anything else, spread the word, please.

There is also this online petition I found today, asking that Pe'Sla be designated as historical landmark or nature preserve.
There are 61 hours left in the IndieGoGo campaign to save Pe'Sla from 'development', at the moment the funding is at 147,719 US $.

I found out that there is a petition on-line asking the present owners of the land to  allow the Great Sioux Nation more time to raise the money to buy Pe'Sla, it's a road worth trying in my opinion.

Sign here

My 'save Pe'Sla' auction is still open:

Lot 1   Customs of Old Shanghai

Lot 2  Splendid Slippers for Lotus Feet

Lot 3 Auspicious Patterns for the New Year

Lot 4 Auspicious Paper-cutting Patterns



March 2013

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