[ROYALTY AND NOBLE BLOOD] is a writing mix about feudal dynasties, bad blood, and royal turmoil. This playlist contains 15 of my favorite tracks for writing in a feudal/medieval setting. Unlike my other mixes, though, this one evolves like a story— at first it is calm, a new day, and little by little the mood heads into darker places. Threats of war. A nimble hand poisons a cup of wine. Moonlight reflected on the point of a dagger. Watch your back, your Majesty…

Your heir is plotting against you.

♪ Listen to this mix on 8tracks ♪

Looking for more writing playlists? Check out my other mixes:

Oh, and if you want more writerly content, then follow my blog for your daily dose of prompts, advice, and writer positivity: maxkirin.tumblr.com!

SoundCloud to allow ads, pay artists and record labels royalties

New York TimesAs part of a new licensing deal with entertainment companies, SoundCloud will begin incorporating advertising and for the first time let artists and record labels collect royalties.

Eventually, it plans to introduce a paid subscription that will let listeners skip those ads, as they can with Spotify and other licensed services.

Photo: Lorde, who gained fame after posting her hit song ‘Royals’ on SoundCloud. (via NBCNews.com)


1946 LIFE magazine profile of Margaret Wise Brown

My kid really loves Little Fur Family and Goodnight, Moon, both of which are actually really strange books, so I wanted to learn a little bit more about the author. Turns out she was pretty wild herself:

She was a lovely green-eyed blonde, extravagant and a little eccentric; with her first royalty check, she bought a street vendor’s entire cart full of flowers, and then threw a party at her Upper East Side apartment to show off her purchase. She was a prolific author, writing nearly a hundred picture books under several pen names and sometimes keeping six different publishers busy at once with her projects. She was known to produce a book just so she could buy a plane ticket to Europe.

She was also a real student of children and their responses to literature:

Brown wanted to become a writer as a young woman, and she once took a creative writing class from Gertrude Stein. But she had a hard time coming up with story ideas, so she went into education. She got a job at an organization called the Bureau of Educational Experiments, researching the way that children learn to use language. What she found was that children in the earliest stage of linguistic development relish language with patterns of sound and fixed rhythms. She also found that young children have a special attachment to words for objects they can see and touch, like shoes and socks and bowls and bathtubs.

Goodnight, Moon, btw, was not an instant bestseller:

The influential New York Public Library gave it a terrible review, and it didn’t sell as well as some of Brown’s other books in its first year. But parents were amazed at the book’s almost hypnotic effect on children, its ability to calm them down before bed. Brown thought the book was successful because it helped children let go of the world around them piece by piece, just before turning out the light and falling asleep.

Parents recommended the book to each other, and it slowly became a word-of-mouth best-seller. It sold about 1,500 copies in 1953, 4,000 in 1955, 8,000 in 1960, 20,000 in 1970; and by 1990 the total number of copies sold had reached more than four million.

Aimee Bender recently wrote a piece on what writers can learn from Goodnight, Moon:

"Goodnight Moon" does two things right away: It sets up a world and then it subverts its own rules even as it follows them. It works like a sonata of sorts, but, like a good version of the form, it does not follow a wholly predictable structure. Many children’s books do, particularly for this age, as kids love repetition and the books supply it. They often end as we expect, with a circling back to the start, and a fun twist. This is satisfying but it can be forgettable. Kids - people - also love depth and surprise, and "Goodnight Moon" offers both.

Though she was so prolific, the story of her death at 42 is extremely sad: a nurse asked her how she was feeling post-surgery — to show her how good she felt, Brown kicked her leg up like a can-can dancer, dislodged a blood clot in her brain, and died.

Russla's Lost Princesses Part 1 (on the BBC) - Quick Review

For those who don’t know this is a 2-part documentary on OTMA, mostly it seems from material from Helen Rappaport’s “Four Sisters” book.

More here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04fljy7


Some nice (and CLEAR) footage and photos.

Nice views of the present day Alexander Palace and interiors.

Kudos to BBC for actually doing a doc on the Grand Duchesses.

That’s it.


Alexandra is blamed for everything - including at one point as being the main force behind the death of the family (and here I thought that was Yurovsky and Lenin). For the commentators, either she’s too much of a (smothering) mother or not enough of one.

Nicholas, like him or hate or anywhere in between, was a very hard working man. He DID believe in the autocracy (a negative) to the point where he personally looked at every single law/letter to the Tsar/petition that was put on his desk. He worked HOURS. This has been known for decades going back to Massie’s “Nicholas and Alexandra”. Yet the documentary would have us believe he (a man who spoke half a dozen languages fluently and was frequently his father’s ambassor/envoy to different parts of the world) spent all his time as Tsarevich goofing around and then spent all his time as Tsar holed up in Tsarskoe Selo.

Hated, HATED the insinuations about Olga and Tatiana and Rasputin. The show says “there is no evidence” anything untoward takes place AFTER they discuss the rumors. Pure gossip mongering just like the the gossips in N&A’s time.

The voice-overs for the Imperial Family! WTF! After telling us right in the documentary that Alix was more English than German and was practically raised by Queen Victoria, they have an actress reading her letters in a vague German accent (not as bad as how she was treated in “The Lost Prince” also by the BBC but close…) Nicholas II, a man well-known in his time, for having an English accent so perfect that even Englishmen couldn’t tell where he was from is given a very bad Russian accent. OTMA (well Olga, Tatiana and Maria) are given cutesy Russian little girl accents. Remember these are the same girls that Edward VII complained about (in the English visit mentioned in the documentary) for speaking English with an IRISH accent (a hold over from their Irish nanny Eager) to the point that Alix had to employ Sidney Gibbes to correct them and who spoke English with their mother (and members of their extended royal family since it was the one language they had in common) and who grew up with it as their second language and were STILL using it in exile when there were no English people around and in letters. Gleb Botkin actually said OTMA’s accent was neither entirely Russian nor English but a strange combination of the two that he had never heard before or since. One would think BBC would love an excuse to actually play up the English-part of the girls given its an English language documentary (and British broadcaster) but no….

Overall verdict:

I think maybe 1/5 of the show was about the girls. It was mostly about Nicholas, Alexei’s illness and especially Alexandra. So to that extent its basically another rehash of the girls being in the shadow of their parents and brother’s story. Sad.

Part 2 is about “romance” during the war years (and the hard-to-overlook mass murder at the end). Oy vey.

I’ll probably still watch it though. Just to see if there’s any new footage,

Popular streaming service SoundCloud has announced that starting today, it will begin incorporating advertising and facilitating royalty collection from artists and labels. SoundCloud has always been a free platform, with an estimated 175 million monthly users, but according to the New York Times, the company has signed a new licensing deal with music publishers Sony/ATV and BMG, and is in talks with leading record companies Sony, Warner, and Universal. Red Bull, Jaguar, and Comedy Central are among the first advertisers whose content will run alongside licensed media on the site. Plans are also in the works to offer a paid subscription service, which would allow premium account users to skip ads in the same model currently offered bySpotify.

According to the NYT, the move is partially a “reaction to industry pressure to license content and produce revenue. It also reflects SoundCloud’s complex relationship with record labels, which use the service to promote new releases and even hunt for new talent but have been irritated by their inability to make money from SoundCloud’s millions of listeners.” Further information on the transition is available here.

Buhhhhhhhhhhhh getting mooooooooooooooore uncomfortable with this new turn in soundcloud’s business model

some of these horoscope things are so unabashedly based on homestuck. it’s like

  • aries: creepy, into archeology, dead
  • taurus: awkward, kind of a pushover, likes larping, can’t walk
  • gemini: good with computers, has a lisp, red and blue motif, crazy psychic powers
  • cancer: types in caps, hates themself, is embarrassed of their blood color
  • leo: rps as a cat, has one best friend, has a literal shipping wall
  • virgo: motherly, good at breaking up fights, uses a chainsaw as a weapon, lesbian
  • libra: has a weird thing for dragons, pretends to be a lawyer, is blind
  • scorpio: giant bitch, uses spider themed emojis, missing an arm
  • sagittarius: strong, sweaty, likes milk,
  • capricorn: face-painting faygo-loving juggalo, also murderer
  • aquarius: vengeful genocidal hipster, lives under the ocean
  • pisces: fish chick with a cool trident, wears goggles, royalty

Franz Xaver Winterhalter (20 April 1805 – 8 July 1873) was a German painter and lithographer, known for his portraits of royalty in the mid-nineteenth century. His name has become associated with fashionable court portraiture. Among his best known works are Empress Eugénie Surrounded by her Ladies in Waiting (1855 - original) and the portraits he made of Empress Elisabeth of Austria (1865). Winterhalter came into his own as a portrait painter during the second Empire and he painted his best work during the last two decades of his life. He matched his style to the luxury and relaxed atmosphere of the age, its hedonism and gaiety. His female sitters of the 1850s and 1860s inhabit a different physiological climate from those he painted earlier; they are not reticent and reserved. His male sitters inspired few original or memorable compositions. Read More

Good news everyone! You can now snag yourself some nifty Confused Cats Against Feminism swag, and help out a couple of charities at the same time The Confused Cat Store on Zazzle is now open for business, offering everything from key chains and coffee mugs to 126 different styles of shirts and other tops for adult humans of all shapes and sizes, not to mention babies, dogs, and pretty much anything and anyone that can wear a shirt. (Sorry, squids, you have too many arms, or legs, or whatever those things are.)

There are two awesome designs to choose from, both featuring my very own Sweetie the cat, who has no idea that she’s on a shirt, or what exactly a shirt is.

All my royalties from the Confused Cat store will go to two charities, the Global Fund for Women, a well-respected organization working for the rights of women and girls worldwide, and No-Kill Los Angeles, an initiative to “end the killing of healthy and treatable pets in city shelters in Los Angeles, California, by the year 2017” by providing spay/neuter services and working to increase pet adoptions.

Oh, and today there’s even a 10% off SALE going on!

Dreamspinner Press Needs M/M Romance Stories for New Anthology - Paying Market


Dreamspinner Press (est. 2007), an established anthology and book publisher of gay romantic fiction, has begun accepting submissions for a new anthology called Random Acts of Kindness.

Guest edited by Tricia Kristufek and Shannon Shell, this anthology will contain standalone romantic short stories of random feats of generosity. Each story will conclude with a happy or promising ending.

Read More