syrena_of_the_lake: (Default)
Dear mystery author,

First and foremost, thank you! Please know I will be thrilled to receive your story. I'm excited to see what direction you've taken on whichever fandom strikes your fancy. I included a few prompt ideas in each of my requests, but pleade don't feel bound to them if inspiration takes you elsewhere. This will be my first year participating in Yuletide, and I hope this letter strikes a balance between giving you helpful information and the freedom to go where the story takes you.

Things I like:
- Witty banter
- Competent, complex, multi-dimensional characters 
- Friendship, found family, friends-to-lovers, 
- Plot, space duels, intrigue - I like the action!
- Thoughtful, complex, introspective - I like characters' inner lives, too!
- Gentle, compassionate storytelling - I like cozy, happy stories, too!
- Witty banter. Seriously, I love it so much.
- I ship canon pairings; gen is also great
- Drama, humor, adventure, intrigue, espionage, suspense, mystery, thriller... so many genres! I also like explorations of grief and healing, though in general I can only take so much angst. I do prefer happy endings to tragedy, but I also have a soft spot for ambiguity and bittersweet.
- A strong sense of place. The differences between places, the little things that set someplace apart or bind people together even across languages and cultures... Whether you want to delve into worldbuilding or just give me a glimpse, I'll love it.
- Language, linguistics, things lost in translation, the power of words
- I do enjoy AUs and crossovers that hold true to both the spirit and setting of the original. (I'm not a fan of coffeeshop, college AUs, etc.)


Things I don't like: 
- Dealbreaker: incest
- Gore, torture, noncon, PWP, explicit sex, explicit violence, frequent use of strong swearwords 
- Slash isn't my cup of tea, I'm afraid. I prefer het or gen.
- Character bashing; completely helpless, clueless, cruel or dark characterization of canon "good guys"
- Darkfic, unmitigated tragedy or excessive angst. I've experienced several tough losses over the past few years. If your story is sad, I'd request at least a ray of sunshine amid the clouds!

Again, this is truly meant for your information, and I hope you find it helpful. I look forward to seeing where the story takes you!
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I am shamefully behind on reviewing all the wonderful stories from this year's Narnia Fic Exchange. I've been out of town and away from the computer a lot, and have barely made a dent. Which means I have lots of fabulous reading material built up!

I wrote 2 stories this year:

Much Ado about Mutiny (14866 words) for nasimwrites

Summary: In which Lucy and Susan go sailing and negotiations go south. "Lucy," said Susan, valiantly striving to keep her face stern, "I don't think anyone will believe we are men no matter how loose the breeches are. We have breasts." With irrepressible cheer, Lucy strapped on her sword and adjusted her hat to a rakish angle."Bind them!" she said cheerfully. "I've already done mine. Not that I've much to bind, of course. But as you always say, it's best to be thorough."

Oddly enough, I'd had the idea for this story lurking in mind for a while. When I saw that nasimwrites ships Susan/Jack Sparrow, I knew I had to do it. And it was so much fun! I am indebted to Transposable_Element for a wonderfully thorough and helpful beta job, without which I would still be confused about who was on which ship.

I now want to write more in this odd little corner of the universe. Especially about the seagulls!

--

In Word and Deed (5510 words) for edenfalling

Summary: In a world lit by a blood-red sun, where two sisters battle for the throne and where a single word has the power to destroy life itself, the only thing worse than a summons from the Queen is a conflicting summons from the other Queen. It was no wonder that Nethyr had ill dreams.

I wanted to write a Madness story for Liz in much-belated thanks for her herculean beta-read of my mammoth NFE fic last year. I've never thought much about Charn backstory before, but Liz prompted something about the Deplorable Word and drew me in! I've always been fascinated by the idea of words imbued with power, and it seems that something is different about magic in Charn compared with Narnia, Earth or anywhere else... and things sort of took off from there.

--

En fin, I had a lot of fun again this year, and will continue to dive into and enjoy the rest of the Exchange! And if you haven't read the story I received yet, please go and do so!

revisionist history by underscored
This is a beautiful and exciting and immensely fulfilling re-imagining of The Last Battle, and I love it so much.
syrena_of_the_lake: (Default)
Please go with all haste to read this beautiful story, which I call The Last Battle that my heart always wanted! Susan truly shines, and this AU is my new head-canon for TLB.

revisionist history (11753 words) by underscored

Characters: Susan Pevensie, Peter Pevensie, Edmund Pevensie, Lucy Pevensie, Tirian, Jill Pole, Eustace Scrubb
Additional Tags: The Last Battle, Family, Alternate Universe - Canon Divergence, The Problem of Susan, Alternate Universe - Everyone Lives/Nobody Dies, Crisis of Faith

Summary: "What I you need to understand, Jill Pole, is that Narnia is and always has been a small land, surrounded by greater neighbors, and that when we first came here, the world was wilder. And now,” she adds, squeezing Jill’s hands gently, “all these ages later, the memories have faded and the stories have changed, but we have not." The lions come home.
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Fic: fixed! Holes: filled! Sleep: later!

It's time for Madness :-D
syrena_of_the_lake: (Default)
First sleep. Then editing. Then Madness!! ... Ideally, but not necessarily, in that order.

Uffda!
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Still filling in blanks and running right up to the deadline as always. I'll have an awful lot of proofreading and polishing to do, but I'll have a little time after the holiday weekend is over. Of course, I still need a beta -- more for plot holes and general storyline feedback than actual proofing. If anyone reads this and is interested and, you know, not horrifically swamped with other obligations... help?
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3 weeks in. I have 2 words: scope creep.

Gah.
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I have started my assignment, and (gasp) I have somewhat planned the plot. This is a great departure frommy normal procedure, which involved scribbling "maybe X happens? Before or after Y? Or not?" in the margins of a dozen different notebook pages, interspersed with doodles of horses and pine trees.

Non-spoilery spoilers:
- From what I know so far, I think this fic will be shorter than last year's (which was around 18k, so I feel fairly safe in that assertion!)
- I might include a cameo of a character from one of my unpublished WIPs. Not sure yet...
- Serendipity strikes again: immediately upon reading my assigned prompt(s), I knew the basic outline of what I wanted to do. Now it's just a question of getting there...
- Part of that flash of inspiration was a title that I am very attached to, but which no longer fits the tone of the story. I should ditch it, but... I'm torn.

Things I have learned:
- Writing things in order from start to finish is not my strong suit. I keep jumping around -- a line here, a page there, a bit of the middle, a bit of beginning, multiple endings... It's like reading a Choose Your Own Adventure book without following the directions.
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First, please know that I will be thrilled to read your story, and I'm excited to see what direction you've taken on whichever prompt strikes your fancy. Last year was my first time participating in the exchange, and it was a lovely experience with so many talented people! I've kept a few details from my letter last year that I hope you find helpful.

Things I like:
- Celebrations of the world and its wonders, whether Narnia or England or elsewhere. I'm not a subscriber to the cast-out-of-Eden interpretation. That said, I also know it's heart-wrenching to leave a place you call home knowing you may never see it again... and the culture shock of going from one home to another. Stories along those lines are always welcome! The differences between places, the little things that set someplace apart or bind people together even across languages and cultures... Whether you want to delve into worldbuilding or just give me a glimpse, I'll love it.
- Competent, multi-dimensional characters and compassionate, thoughtful storytelling
- Witty banter
- Stories with a strong sense of place
- Animals that behave like animals, not humans in furry suits (no matter how much I love the old BBC series, Beavers just shouldn't be over 5 ft tall)
- Friendship, family, romance, humor, adventure, intrigue, espionage, suspense, mystery, thriller... so many genres! I also like explorations of grief and healing, though in general I can only take so much angst. I do prefer happy endings to tragedy, but I also have a soft spot for ambiguity.
- I adore Rthverse, if you feel so inclined! Also Kangarooverse, AU Everybody Lives/Nobody Dies and AU Everybody Stays/Nobody Leaves.

Things I don't like:
- Dealbreaker: incest
- Gore, torture, noncon, PWP, explicit content
- Slash isn't my cup of tea, at least not as the main focus of the story
- Character bashing; completely helpless, clueless, cruel or dark characterization of the Four or Aslan
- Darkfic, unmitigated tragedy or excessive angst. I've experienced several tough losses over the past few years. If your story is sad, I'd request at least a ray of sunshine amid the clouds!

Again, this is truly meant for your information, and I hope you find it helpful. I look forward to seeing where the story takes you!
syrena_of_the_lake: (Default)
Well, on a lark, I just skimmed a few paragraphs of what may have been my first ever fanfic, before I even knew such a thing as fanfiction even existed. I thought to myself: hey, self, remember that thing? See all those old spreadsheets of characters and ships and planets? (Star Wars, of course.) Maybe there's something salvageable. At least a name, or a new species, or something. You spent enough hours on it way back when, self. There's got to be something, right?

Right?

... A few files later, I did indeed find a few decent character names, corny ship names, bizarre species descriptions and unpronounceable planets. And I skimmed a few lines of that old, old story.

I was enthusiastic, I'll give myself that. And not half bad at describing things. Trouble is, that's ALL that I did. Seriously. The plot was fuzzily sketched out in notes-to-self. The dialogue was stilted at best, cringe-worthy in spots, and even the original characters sound OOC. (Seriously, self: nobody talks that way. Not even me.) But I spent a whole paragraph describing how Wedge Antilles, Rogue Squadron leader and recently promoted to Colonel (psst, self: check rank) had just returned to Coruscant from vacation on unpronounceable-planet and so was operating on unpronounceable-planet time and had forgotten to reset his chronometer, and as a consequence (self: seriously? NOBODY talks that way) was half an hour early to an emergency Council meeting (which was apparently not all that much of an emergency).

Let me say it again: a WHOLE PARAGRAPH. Oh, self.

This is why I don't reread my oldest stories. The stuff I wrote at age 9 was cute. After that, criiiinge. Gee willikers, I hope I don't feel the same way about my current stuff 20 years from now...

Yes, I said 'gee willikers,' and I didn't even double-check the spelling. Future self: insert cringe here.
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So, I have been woefully lax on posting since NFE reveals! I've been traveling a lot and away from my computer even more, so this is probably old news. Nevertheless, here is my NFE recap:

I wrote 3 stories, and I have been stunned and overwhelmed at the incredibly positive response - especially to my main story (a crossover with a little-known fandom, no less). I am thrilled to have participated in such a wonderful exchange, and so thankful for all the support!

Overdue but without further ado, here they are! "Behind the scenes" stuff is behind the cuts.

What I wrote

My main story: The Rule of Threes Raid for Rthstewart: the Rat Patrol's mission is "to attack, harass and wreak havoc on Field Marshal Rommel's vaunted Afrika Korps." Susan's mission is a bit more complicated, as is her relationship with the desert. A story of daring and deception and of loyalties built on shifting sands.

"Raid" is a war story and a tale of espionage, and takes place following Rthstewart's "The Queen Susan in Tashbaan" but before "Rat and Sword Go to War." It is also a crossover with Rat Patrol, a 1960s show I discovered a year or so ago about a group of American and British soldiers operating behind enemy lines in North Africa. Every new episode I see, I find more little details that just fit with Susan-as-spy. The rule of threes itself pops up in an episode, as do bows and arrows (which I saw for the first time just this morning). For months I had been idly pondering a Narnia/Rat Patrol crossover starring Susan; when I drew Rth for NFE, I decided to go for it. I didn't quite know what I was getting myself into, as it turns out, but it all came together in the end! Truth be told, I'm quite proud of the result - but more than anything, I'm so happy that so many people have enjoyed it even without knowing the crossover fandom.

My labyrinthine writing process - for those who want to know how the sausage is made. )

Madness #1: Fit to be tied for Rthstewart: Susan does not like surprises. Tebbitt does not like spiders. Anansi does not care.

This was sheer fun. It was idea I'd had poking around since the 3-Sentence Ficathon, and frankly it was just too good an opportunity to pass up. I admit there was a moment when I thought I couldn't pull off Raid and would wind up expanding this into my main fic - but it all worked out. And in the end, Fit to be Tied is a bit of madness, so that fits! The biggest problem I had was not wanting to stop. There are so many more adventures that could be told! If anyone wants to write Susan and Tebbitt gallivanting around with a trickster spider, please be my guest - I'd love to read more!

Madness #2: Starboard for Starbrow: A storm, a star, and another page in Coriakin's Book of Incantations.

I fell in love with Starbrow's prompt for Voyage of the Dawn Treader fic reflecting "Lewis's love of the sea and the longing for adventure it inspires". I too love the strange adventures, the wild and magical islands, and the wondrous seas of VDT just as I have always loved the sea and atmospheric sea-faring tales, so this was a treat to write for me as well. Before writing this story, I revisited the Anglo-Saxon poem "The Seafarer" as well as "Rime of the Ancient Mariner."

What I received

I received a beautiful, light-filled NFE fic and a rollicking, swashbuckling Madness fic - I wrote about them in a previous post, but if you haven't read them yet, please go do so immediately! They are both awesome, in different senses of the word, and I love them each so much.

chain of pearls (anklets of light) by tungsten_illusionist

The Blue Door Cottage by Rthstewart

What's next

I am working on several projects right now: a much-belated crossover treat, a longer Narnia fic with original characters tentatively called "Song of the Stone Wolf and the Bumble Bear", a Forever/HP crossover for another ficathon, and an original historical fiction novel I've been working on for years. And, of course, the next chapter in my mad, mad Thin Man/Narnia/Jeeves & Wooster crossover "A Good Stiff Drink." It's not dead - just hungover.

So that's what's been keeping me busy! Hope all is well in your worlds.
syrena_of_the_lake: (Default)
I still haven't finished all the lovely, rollicking and thoughtful stories - but I have a few favorites that I encourage everyone to read!


I'll Take the High Road
Summary: Pattertwig's journey to the Lantern Waste.

Squirrel derring-do, dashed with detailed and realistic slice-of-life under Telmarine rule, the small animal viewpoint a la Watership Down, and a race to find the Four who surely must have been called when the Horn was blown... An exciting journey very well told!


The Mystery of Mount Pire
For Heliopause
Summary: Aravis joins Lucy and Susan on a winter exploration of Archenland.

And wheresoever two Queens of Narnia travel together, things strange and wondrous do befall them... So Aravis may as well go along, even if it is cold. The very wintery-ness of this tale is enchanting, like Lucy's first foray into the wardrobe before we knew there was any Witch. Not really a cliffhanger, but this story definitely leavese wanting more!


Flee from Memory
For Seldon
Summary: When the Queen takes a Knight (well, actually more like falling in love with a foot soldier), Ambassador Tumnus has to readjust his thinking. For Tumnus, being a diplomatic liar and a survivor does have its advantages.

Between dealing with the political ramifications of Rabadash's defeat and finding out that little Lucy has a suitor, Tumnus's horns are aching. Add to that a night of storytelling that stirs memories better left unstirred (or are they?), and the Faun is bound to need a cup of tea (no milk, no honey) before the night is through. This is a thoughtful, Narnia-as-real-country-with-real-problems story with touching moments, brilliant charactetization, and a heart-tugging finish.


Psmith Giantslayer
Summary: Or, how the glorious Affair of the Motor Car on the Senate House Roof became the rather more alarming Affair of the Enormous Giants.

P.G. Wodehouse meets the Pevensies. All of them, even though only four are actually Pevensies. In which Edmund is recruited for a madcap prank and recruits his siblings in turn, and then some. Magic, mechanics and mayhem, underscored with absolutely delicious, wickedly funny language - what more could one want?


to pluck up that which is planted
One word: ENTWIVES. A beautiful story about what it means to take root. Jill and Eustace stay in Narnia for a while longer, and this is the Silver Chair ending I never realized I wanted, but now I love it so much I'm adopting it as headcanon!!


A Butterfly with Its Wings
Calormen worldbuilding, a girl stretching her wings, a sly soldier, and a wonderful story about small actions with larger ramifications. Southern Calormen comes to life in this story!


How the Bet Was Won
Bickering gods and goddesses take sides in the aftermath of the Humiliation of Rabadash. Part chess, part Mount-Olympus-in-Greek-epic, part hilarity. Go read!


Windmills and Walls
The four Pevensies each deal with the Return to England in their own way, but are always thinking of the others. Spot-on characterization, very moving and very well done.
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What a way to start my participation in NFE - I received two wonderful, amazing gifts from talented mystery authors!! And all the stories I have read so far have been very, very good. Some laugh-out-loud funny, others eerie, thought-provoking or solemn. Some so beautiful they nearly bring tears to your eyes.

I whole-heartedly recommend you drop everything and read the two excellent stories I received:

Fic Exchange
chain of pearls (anklets of light)
Jill Pole/Eustace Scrubb (IMPLIED), Everybody Lives/Nobody Dies AU
Summary: Eustace had forgotten what it'd been like to be alone. The Pevensies are spread out through the continent on various...well he's not quite sure, they don't always explain what they're up to, and Jill was on a ship to Caribbean. When Professor Kirke mentions a friend who requires an assistant in India, he's more than happy to offer his services.

Eustace is one of my favorite characters, and this story is a gem. Eustace explores what it means to know Aslan in our world, with a respectful and beautiful look at the Hindi faith and Indian culture (and food!). It inspires equal parts thoughtfulness and wanderlust. And Jill's presence is felt everywhere, even when she's far away. Absolutely exquisite!

Madness
The Blue Door Cottage
Jill Pole/Eustace Scrubb, Alberta Scrubb, Harold Scrubb, Everyone Lives/Nobody Dies AU
Summary: Jill and Eustace take a holiday. It does not go as planned.

This is a brilliant, swashbuckling, hilarious romp that makes me giggle helplessly every time I read it. Some children find adventure hidden in a mysterious house; that may sound familiar, but it's never happened like this before! Not with Alberta checking the floorboards and Harold chasing a cat out of the garden. And Aslan's sense of humor is... different.


More recs to come! I haven't had nearly enough time to devote to all 39 wonderful stories in this year's collection, but I'm working on it - and it's an absolute pleasure to read so much quality fic by so many talented authors.

In the meantime, I have 3 stories hiding somewhere in the NFE and Madness collections. If you care to guess, I'll write you a ficlet of your choice for each right answer. Deleted scene, outtake, completely unrelated prompt - it's all up to you! Just drop me a note here on DW or at syrenaofthelake at gmail dot com.
syrena_of_the_lake: (Default)
So, I did post a pair of Madness stories... I have 2 more in the works that spiraled out of control and aren't finished yet, so I will be posting those as gifts somewhere down the line instead.

I'm very excited to read all the fruits of this year's labors! It's been a blast to participate in NFE for the first time - thanks to all of you for the support, help, and patience with my frantic questions :-p
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NFE draft: DONE. Commence the tweaking.

I am now at that awkward, anxious, all-over-but-the-panicking stage where I vacillate between pride and angst over how it turned out. In this case, I think deadlines are my friend - if I don't have time to do any drastic rewrites, then I can't do too much damage. Right? Right. 

On the other hand... I sound like a Fiddler on the Roof song. There is no other hand. I am putting down the pencil and stepping away from the keyboard. I swear.

Only... I had sternly told myself not to play around in Madness until the main fic was finished. Now that I'm so close, all the little plot bunnies want to come out to play. If I don't indulge them, they'll eat my poor excuse for a garden.

That's a good enough reason. Right? Right.
syrena_of_the_lake: (Default)
First, a huge thank you! This is my first time participating in the NFE, so I hope I've given you both enough info and enough freedom to work with. Please know that I will be thrilled to read your story, and I'm excited to see what direction you've taken on whichever prompt strikes your fancy!

Particularly because I'm new to this exhange, I wanted to tell you a little more than what the form provides, in case it's helpful.

What I like:
- Celebrations of the world and its wonders, whether Narnia or England or elsewhere. (I'm not a subscriber to the cast-out-of-Eden interpretation. That said, I also know it's heart-wrenching to leave a place you call home knowing you may never see it again.) The differences between places, the little things that set someplace apart or bind people together even across languages and cultures... Whether you want to delve into worldbuilding or just give me a glimpse, I'll love it.
- Competent, multi-dimensional main characters and compassionate storytelling (e.g. misunderstandings or other genuine conflicts rather than character bashing.)
- Witty banter
- Animals that behave like animals, not humans in furry suits (no matter how much I love the old BBC series, Beavers just shouldn't be over 5ft tall)
- Friendship, family, romance, humor, adventure, intrigue, espionage, mystery... so many genres! I also like explorations of grief and healing, though in general I can only take so much angst. I prefer happy endings, but sometimes a sad one can be just as satisfying.
- I adore Rthverse, if you feel so inclined! Also Kangarooverse, AU Everybody Lives/Nobody Dies and AU Everybody Stays/Nobody Leaves.

What I don't like:
- Gore, torture, noncon, PWP, slash, incest. (Pevensie incest is my only true dealbreaker, but the others are strong preferences.)
- Completely helpless, clueless, cruel or dark characterization of the Four or of Aslan
- Unmitigated tragedy or excessive angst. I've been through a fair amount of loss over the past couple years, and so if your story is sad, I'd just like to request at least a ray of sunshine amid the clouds!


Again, this is truly meant for your information, and I hope you find it helpful. Please go where the story takes you, and I can't wait to read the results!!
syrena_of_the_lake: (Default)
I should keep a collar on that darned thing.

So, a while back I posted about a crossover Narnia/Thin Man/Jeeves & Wooster crackfic that is morphing into an actual mystery of sorts. I jumped the gun and posted the first chapter of "A Good Stiff Drink." This is a WIP, but so far the plot is thin enough that I hope people will enjoy it anyway. Er, right?

I've clearly been spending too much time in Bertie Wooster's head.

Ch. 1 More of gravy than the grave: http://archiveofourown.org/works/4037260/chapters/9079606

"Nonsense," said Bertie cheerfully. "Nick and Nora are here, so some body or other is bound to turn up eventually, what? Shuffled off the mortal, and all that."

There was a pause as everyone digested this (except for Digory, who did not much feel like digesting anything). Then Nora chimed in brightly, "Oh, you mean a stiff!"
syrena_of_the_lake: (Default)
 I am finally getting more 3SF fills posted to AO3 - and with Rth's help, I started a collection for Kangarooverse! Please feel free to add your own or drop me a line!

In other news, I posted the last remaining bit of Last Test and Proof: outtakes from the interviews for a new cook. After writing so much about grief and loss, I needed to wrap it up with something light and funny... I'm not entirely satisfied with the Camel bit, but I hope it works all right - as a transition between chapters if nothing else.

I've posted another couple humor stories in other fandoms - I seem to be vacillating between heavy stuff and fluff! I am still working on the Thin Man/Narnia/Jeeves crack crossover, and it's taking on a life of it's own. Egad, a plot! I'm still working though the mystery, but I'm absurdly proud of some of the dialogue, and I can't wait to start posting it.

That's all for today, but I look forward to collecting more Kangaroo stories - and who knows, maybe expanding upon them!
syrena_of_the_lake: (River Rocks)
I have been working on this story for some time - and it is finally done. (Well, I do have a little more to add, but it will be more in the line of outtakes than a post-epilogue.) The Last Test and Proof, a story of Guards, grief and gastronomy, is now up on AO3! With many, many thanks to Rthstewart for letting her characters come over to play, for reading and giving so much valuable feedback and encouragement.

A little background: my family has suffered several heavy losses over the past year, and so I have been struggling my own way through grief. I don't really put much stock in the 5 stages, except as one more example of how people like to quantify and name things in order to better understand them. But it was a useful conceit for the story. And now, if I find myself stuck in one particular rut on a hard day, I think instead of these characters who are so dear to me. And if I need to channel my inner Jalur to get through the day - well, that's a little more tangible than abstract stages.

On a lighter note, if I can figure out how to post pictures to this thing, I will upload a drawing of Rth's Cook, because who doesn't love a Minotaur in a frilly apron?

Varmints

Apr. 14th, 2015 06:57 pm
syrena_of_the_lake: (Default)
Confound and confusticate those squirrels! (To quote Bilbo Baggins... well, sort of). The squirrels are eating our deck railing, and I don't know what to do about it. And my coworker had mice, er, all up in his grill - literally. But this rather puts it in perspective:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/mbvd/man-accidentally-shoots-mother-in-law-after-bullet-ricochets
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