Art Progress, crosspost, Foxes and Felines!, Rook and Rose

Yuletide Treasures

The lack of job and annual Christmas trip with my mom meant that I had a LOT of spare time this year to dive into Yuletide. That ended up with me writing my assignment, two pinch-hits, and a treat. For one of my pinch hits, I decided to illustrate it, so there was also art.

It was a lot, and I’ve spent the last week antsy to share it with the world. Reveals have happened, so now I can!

But first, I MUST direct everyone to check out my main gift and my treat.

Dark Under the Lamp
Fandom: Sungkyunkwan Scandal
31000 words!!
Yes. You read that right. I got longfic for Yuletide. I got casefic for Yuletide. I got Gu Yong Ha is a gumiho and Moon Jae Shin is into that, and every trope I included in my letter, plus Korean fox folklore, incredible prose, delicious romantic banter, and very smart plotting… for Yuletide. Basically, I won Yuletide. Most years my attitude is ‘I’m really in it to write for other people rather than for anything I might get in return,’ but this year I feel like karma looked at all the writing I’d done and said, ‘Here you go, kid. You earned this.’

It’s so good. And it hasn’t gotten NEARLY the amount of love it deserves (see my comment below about the challenges longfics face in Yuletide). I don’t think you need to know the fandom to read this one (though of course knowing enhances the fic). If you want to read a great story about a fabulous half-gumiho and his kuudere best friend/romantic interest, go read this and then shower it with love.

Thought Experiments
Fandom: The Scumbag System (donghua)
1600 words
As if my main gift wasn’t reward enough, I also got a treat this year that was absolutely delightful. It’s just a short scene between Shen Qingqiu and Liu Qingge with them being excellently in character while they talk about philosophy and the nature of identity and change, that takes a turn at the end to dish out some unexpected feels. Which… how is that NOT catnip for me?

Other than my gifts, I haven’t had much (ANY) time to read this week because I’m working on revisions for Rook & Rose book 2 (Marie and I wrote several thousand words of new content for an entirely new plot thread that’s taking the place of one that didn’t quite work). I’m hoping to read more in January, though the new job might make that challenging. I’m going to try to do a rec post in the spring, because it looks like there is a lot of good fic this year. Seriously, I think Yuletide brings out the best of writing fandom. There’s just so much good stuff that it feels like everything is a gem that needs to have light shone on it.

As for the fics I wrote:

Records of the Land of Xiang
Fandom: Nirvana in Fire
19000 words
This was an idea spawned a few years ago when I wrote a different Nirvana in Fire fic for Yuletide. That one was a time-travel fixit fic. This one is an ‘Everyone thinks Jingyan died, but really he’s infiltrated the Jiangzuo Alliance to see if this Mei Changsu guy can help him get the Chiyan Conspiracy case re-opened and retried’ fixit fic.

I know. Absolutely ridiculous premise. But I think I made it work? I’ve got a LOT of experience writing identity shenanigans at this point!

Sunshot from the Shadows
Fandom: Mo Dao Zu Shi (donghua)
14000 words
This was my first pinch-hit, and I really thought it would be my breakaway fic for Yuletide because… let’s face it… Mo Dao Zu Shi only got in this year on a technicality. The fandom is huge, and the number of fics written for it this year made it one of the ‘big for Yuletide’ fandoms. So I wrote a fic that ended up being much longer than originally planned, made certain it was based on events that were specific to the donghua so I didn’t feel like a dirty cheater for writing it for Yuletide, and sent it out into the world expecting it to bring me Yuletide fame and glory.

What I forgot to take into account was that a) Yuletide is not kind to longfics, especially in the first week. They get shoved to the back of everyone’s TBR and often never make it to the front, and b) it doesn’t matter if you write for a big fandom if you’re writing one of the less popular ships.

This one is a 3-zun fixit, based on the brief bit of Venerated Triad action that the donghua shows us, where Lan Xichen and Nie Mingjue are the ones to go up against Wen Ruohan at the end of the Sunshot Campaign, and Meng Yao steps out at the last minute to stabbinate the enemy, save his sworn brothers, and win the war. Since we don’t get any of the lead-up to that, even in flashback, I decided to fill in my own version that is basically a ‘what if they all ended up in a brothel together’ trope-fest.

I’ll admit that I never boarded the sympathy-for-Meng-Yao train until I started reading Ariaste’s (frankly brilliant) Meng Yao vs. the Board of the Homeowner’s Association series. But I’ve been enjoying that, so when I saw the pinch hit go by, I was like, “yeah, I could wrap my head around figuring out how to save 3-zun.”

Honestly, what it really made me want to do is write a lot more Nie Mingjue. He’s so done with everyone’s bullshit. It’s delightful.

The Romance of Foxfire and the Dragon Pearl
Fandom: The Foxdragon Series – Naomi VanDoren
2000 words
I’ve had several Yuletides where I’ve written the first (and only, in many cases) fic in a fandom, so I was ready for the low traffic on this one. This is my second pinch hit, which I picked up mostly because I have a bunch of Naomi VanDoren’s prints, including several from her foxdragon series, and… it’s a request with foxes. And dragons! How hard can it be?

Turns out, it’s harder for me to come up with a story when there isn’t much material to work from. But the recipient requested worldbuilding, so I wrote a little foxdragon origin folktale about how the first fox met the first dragon (also included some lore about the site of the city of Ora, and the origins of the glowing power ball things).

But, compared to the other two fics, 2k words felt so… SHORT. So I decided to try my hand at illustrating my story with some fanart since arting is a thing I’ve been working on this year.

Even though it’s REALLY OBVIOUS that I have no idea how pineapples work/grow, and my tree clumps look like… clumps, I’m really happy with these (especially the pineapple and the clouds).

A Satisfying Hunger
Fandom: The Sleuth of the Ming Dynasty
3000 words
With about 4 hours to go before the opening of the collection, I was skimming letters and ran across a prompt that immediately caused words to start pouring through my brain. So I opened up my journal and splashed out 3000 words of ink, which I then managed to transcribe and post as a treat with about a half-hour to spare. So that was unexpected.

I haven’t even finished watching the Sleuth of the Ming Dynasty, but the request was something that I could set in the amorphous time I’m currently at in the series where everyone is kind of hanging out eating Sui Zhou’s cooking while Tang Fan makes ‘pay attention to me!’ faces at him and is as stealth swoony as all of the ladies who see Sui Zhou being all… competent and stoic.

I’m glad I did, because this one turned out to be my early breakout story and soothed my hunger for validation. Traffic has slowed down a bit (the story is fine, but it really feels like something I knocked out in a few hours. It has less heft than my other pieces), but overall I’m happy enough with it that I might attempt the follow-up that the ending hinted at.

So that was my Yuletide. Since I couldn’t do my annual trip with mom, I was really glad that this holiday tradition didn’t get impacted by quarantines and money woes. Yuletide helped me get through the death throes of this mess of a year.

Now I just have to make it to January 19th and the publication of The Mask of Mirrors. Let’s hope that the amazing fics I got were heralds of a good 2021 to come. Happy New Year!

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