Good morning, y'all. I'm going to do something a little different today. I'm going to link you to some wake up music. Because it's Monday. You can listen to it while you read. So, here you are, an oldie but a goodie...The Happy Mondays remixed by Paul Oakenfold and Andy Wetherall. It's one of my favorites from the '90s/'00s. And hey, Monday is in the name. ;)
Hang on. Put the soundtrack on pause a moment. This is something you need to see first. It touches on toxic masculinity and other revenant topics. This video does a brilliant job of analyzing why I feel like giving side-eye to anyone that insists that The Last Jedi is a piece of garbage, particularly if they're a CIS male. The film wasn't comfortable--even for me, but it did have quite a lot of important things to say.
Obviously, I saw To All The Boys I Loved Before. Two thumbs up. That was fun!
That was a gem of a movie. Totally fun. Sweet. And entirely not stressful. (Sometimes, I need that in my life.) Also, well-written and funny. Did I mention funny? I bet the book was great too.
What else? Things are going well with the rewrite. I got a haircut. My depressing mermaid story is still out there. Also, have a song from the music list for Persephone Station. :)
More later. I've got work to do. :) Have a great weekend, y'all!
I finally saw Crazy Rich Asians with my husband last night and wow! That was amazing. It also had a lot to say about the role of women in families and marriage. So, I'm going to discuss it behind a cut because, well, SPOILERS.
So, my story A Siren's Cry is a Song of Sorrow is out in the world. It's kind of a modern retelling of The Little Mermaid. Sort of. Maybe not. Maybe more of a reference to The Little Mermaid. You can access it (and the other stories in the September issue of Apex Magazine) for the price of $2.99. That's not very much, y'all. Please consider buying it. If you do, you'll be supporting a wonderful venue for short fiction as well as the authors whose stories are in the issue. You'll help Apex (an award-winning SF/F magazine) continue to pay authors professional rates for stories. And you know what? Writers have this nasty habit called 'eating' they have to support. They also require things like a roof over their heads, health insurance, clothing, transportation, utilities...you know, all that mundane stuff that keeps us alive while we create. Editors have these needs too. (And I've met Jason Sizemore. He's a nice guy.) So, go forth and spend that $2.99. It's worth it. Of course, you could buy the print edition for $10 and have something for me to sign the next time you see me. You know how I love scribbling on my novels. I honestly feel the same about shorter works.
Okay. I did my bit for self promotion. :)
Let's see. What else?
I still haven't seen Crazy Rich Asians or any other new movies yet. I've just been too busy with rewrites. Although, I will do it soon. I've been reading the non-fiction book Dodge City and it's been helpful. Although, I gotta say Earp and Masterson were definitely thugs with badges. It's also obvious that women didn't live long in that era. (I can't find any definitive data that doesn't merely assume that statistics for men are the same for women.) Most of the men in the story marry multiple times due to maternity deaths. (Remember there is no birth control and not a lot in the way of medical facilities in the Wild West.) I've done a lot of reading in between the lines on this one. I've had to. The author is more than a little sweet on Earp. I won't even get into detail about how indigenous Americans are written about--hardly at all unless it's about how they attacked a group of white people. So, I'm not recommending it. There's a lot of going back to give the history of this or that person who doesn't do much, but there have been a few useful details. [shrug] Hey, I've learned to read anything written about the Wild West from a straight white CIS perspective with a healthy dose of cynicism. (I've read Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. And I do recommend that one.)
Oh! I'll be giving this chicken recipe a try tonight. We'll see how it goes. It looks tasty. Will let you know how that goes. I'm looking forward to the cooler temperatures this weekend. Great writing weather. Fall is my favorite time of year, and I get extra energized. I hope you have a lovely weekend!
Happy Friday, y'all! So, here's something you might not know about me. I'm a big Joan Jett fan. She had a big influence on my life. (see that suitcase? i have one of those.) She made it okay to be a woman and be into Punk or Goth. She was the first person to tell me (via the radio, mind) that it was not only okay to be angry, but that I had a right to my emotions--whatever they were. When men told her she couldn't play rock, she did it anyway. I adore her so much. I'm so thankful for her work.
If you haven't seen The Runaways film, you should. It demonstrates the patriarchy's drive to shove women into either the 'innocent' or 'whore' role and how that is used against us. Anyway, Chrissie Hynde, Siouxsie Sioux, Heart, Kate Bush, and Stevie Nicks are other big influences for me. They inspire me when the whole Boys Club mentality of SF/F gets me down. I can listen and scream and jump up and down...and then I'm all right. I can get back to work. Mind you, there are many others whose work I enjoy, but these were my early influences.
I've been away from the blog for a bit. If you checked the dates along the right of your screen, you'll already know why. Sometimes it's just too hard to keep up with the blog and everything that's going on, travel wise. I'm only human, after all. That said, I'm back to my regularly scheduled schedule until the chaos of the holidays thrash my sense of time into nonexistence for a while. (I know myself pretty well at this point. Heh.)
There have been a number of new things crop up in my life of late--all of them good to great. I'm excited. I'm also swamped by multiple projects. This is excellent. I like to have more than one thing going on. It motivates me to move faster than I would if I didn't. That said, I've been thinking a lot lately about being a white writer who wants to incorporate inclusivity and marginalized representation in their work. That said, A Very Nice Person (Jen Zink of Skiffy and Fanty fame) gave me a cross-stitch piece of the Wiccan Rede. (She went to all the trouble of replicating the entire thing--not just the final eight words.) I don't think I've ever read the entire thing before. One line stands out: "Speak Ye Little, Listen Much". Pair this with the thought that even if one tries not to harm others, there is no knowing for sure that one's actions will never harm anyone. In fact, as flawed human beings, it is highly likely at one time or another we will harm others. The point is to make the effort to the best of your ability. Apologize. This is part of accepting responsibility. You can't learn from a mistake for which you don't accept responsibility. Listen. Remember that whatever has happened, it isn't about you. It's about the person harmed. Keep the focus on them. Don't make it about you. Learn from your mistakes. Change your behavior. Never repeat the same error. Lastly, there is no way one can remove the risks from writing marginalized characters. If there's one thing I learned from writing about Northern Ireland during the Troubles it's that there's always going to be someone who will object for whatever reason--no matter how careful you are. The point is: never give up trying. The work toward change (for inclusivity) within my chosen genre (SF and Fantasy) is far too important to not try at all.
Babies, we gotta be brave. Change is scary. Change is risky. But this is the right thing to do, and damn it, babies, we gotta be brave.
I also wanted to add that I've learned that as a white author, writing marginalized characters into stories is not the end of the work. It's also important to a) remember that there are some stories that are not mine to tell--particularly if those stories involve the trauma marginalized persons endure and b) make space at the table for marginalized writers. This can mean mentoring, paying for or creating a scholarship program to writing workshops, and recommending/reviewing works by writers who happen to be from marginalized groups.
That's what I've learned so far. I'm sure I've much more to learn. And that's all right. None of this work is about being Right™. It's about being a decent, loving, empathetic human being. It's about leaving this world in better shape than when you entered it--no matter how small that change is, because small changes build up into bigger ones. A beach is made of many small grains of sand, after all.
Anyway...let's get to those links you came here for, shall we?
I've survived the last three weeks. I also spent the last two days on the sofa, napping on and off. I needed it. On average, it appears I got about 3-4 hours of sleep per night. Yeah, I can't do that shit for long. Good thing that was only for a few days. In case I didn't say it, Armadillocon was wonderful. The agency retreat in LA was even more so. I got a lot out of it. Rooming with Colleen Venable was a blast. It's always great to see my agent, Barry Goldblatt. I got to have dinner with Ty Franck. (Half of the author duo who wrote The Expanse.) I met the actor who plays Amos and one of the show's producers too. That was an amazing dinner. All three were wonderful humans. After that, I got to meet my agency's movie dude. That was both good and bad. (The good: getting to understand how things work. The bad: merchandising makes everything more complicated and awful. Naturally, that's the bit Hollywood is interested in most.) Then there was WorldCon which, after all the glitches, programming problems, and unfortunate timing issues, turned out to be a good time. I missed all the readings this time, sadly. (All but Alex Renwick's.) But I did get to hang out with all kinds of wonderful people--including my good friend Thomas Wagner, my former mentor Sharon Shinn, and Kay Kenyon. Hugs were had from many folks I don't see that often too.
All in all, worth it, but that's the last time I travel during a Mercury Retrograde with seven planets in retrograde. Everything that could be messed up, was. And I mean everything. It was stressful. Good times were had, but...yeah. I'm glad that's over. I confess, I didn't like San Jose that much. It's too... techie white-bread suburban.
I did get to meet with my editor, Joe Monti. And that was lovely as always. The editors at Tacheon Press practically slapped me on the back of my head because they've been after me to write something for them, and I've never completely understood until now that they're serious. (I'm such a dork sometimes.) So, that's happening the instant I wrap up edits for Persephone Station. Also, I've a short story coming out in Apex Magazine next month titled A Siren's Cry is a Song of Sorrow. It's super dark--like the darkest story I've yet written--but it's also something I'm proud of. I can tell my writing skills are still improving, and that makes me feel wonderful.
So, travel happened. Some plants died. (aww.) My cat is now glomming onto me for fear I'll pack up and leave again. But hey, I'm settled for the rest of the year which is good because I've so much writing to do.
Holy shirtballs, that was one amazing weekend. Amazing! The Armadillocon convention was one of the best ever. I learned so much!!! A couple of important things happened. Two of the panels I was on: Writing the Other and the Black Panther discussion suffered from a lack of representation. (The Writing the Other panel was all white. The Black Panther discussion had a black moderator but no other representation.) So, here's what we did about it.
1) I spoke to the con chair/person in charge of programming. She was willing to discuss options, but more people of color on either panel wasn't one of them. (They clearly didn't have enough writers of color to spread around. Note to self: next item on Feminist SF Agenda.)
2) After consulting friends who happen to be black, I decided that maybe the panel did need to be all white. See, PoCs already got the memo. They live the freaking memo. They have a PhD in the memo. It's the white, straight, cis part of the classroom that needs to have the discussion. What inspired this thought was the following video.
Yayayayayayay! And I have a schedule! Here it is in all its glory. :)
Friday, August 3
Armadillocon Writer's Workshop 9am-4pm
Deadpool 2: What Worked & What Didn't?
Stina Leicht (moderator), Jessica Coyle, T. Eric Bakutis, Lauren C. Teffeau, Gloria OliverDo our panelists think Deadpool 2 was worth the wait? What did the film get right, and what got flubbed? Were they seduced into loving it, or left cold? How did it compare to the first? What do we hope for from a Deadpool 3?
Magic and Muskets
Marshall Ryan Maresca (moderator), Aaron de Orive, Thomas Wagner, Stina LeichtFlintlock fantasy is a relatively new subgenre of epic fantasy (or perhaps not; there was gunpowder, at least, in The Hobbit). What are the rules for this newish (?) area of fantasy? What are some favorite examples?
Mainstream Writers of Science Fiction and Fantasy
Jacob Weisman (moderator), Mark Falkin, Stina LeichtThe gap between the pulp ghetto and the literary mainstream seems to be narrowing (or perhaps we are just noticing?). Which writers and stories currently marketed as mainstream fall into this category? How is the distinction made? Are there ideas that genre writers and fans should steal and bring back to the SF shelf?
Patriarchy has a negative affect on the economy. Women pay a heavy toll for merely existing. This subject came up when my husband mentioned how much a friend of ours paid in child care costs: "He told me it was $3000 per month. How can it be that expensive?" I told him that care centers have to carry insurance. Care-givers are required to have emergency response training in addition to time/experience in educational and child development studies. "You're kidding." I told him I wasn't. Briefly, I had once considered babysitting in order to bring in some money. (We don't have children, by the way.) I told him that far too often, women are forced into the position of using their entire salaries just to pay for child care. When you add in that women are paid less than men--the percentage less varies, depending upon the woman's race and trans women have difficulties getting hired at all--and then the fact that everything is more expensive for women: dry cleaning, clothing, common medical and hygiene supplies, hair care products, hair cuts, cosmetics...it's a financial death of a thousand cuts. It's referred to as the Pink Tax and yes, it is a fucking thing.
Just watch John Oliver's reaction as he turns the interview toward a bit of self-examination. That's brave and powerful. He's showing some genuine vulnerability. Anita's response is magnificent too. And you know what else? "Men are afraid to work with women. Men are afraid to hire women." is merely a continuation of "Shut up about sexual harassment or your job will be threatened." That should demonstrate just how much Oppression is a system. The pattern is set and obvious once you look for it. We're all programmed with it. You don't have to be consciously aware that you're supporting Oppression. You're infected on a deep level. It happens unconsciously. It's time to wake up, recognize it, and do something about it.
is a Science Fiction and Fantasy author living in Texas.