So, Summer is here. Officially. That time of year when it's 100+F outside, long walks are a misery, buildings are over air-conditioned, all the greenery is dead, and the nine million university students flee Austin only to return all at once for ACL Fest. Texas summers make me wish we had another place up north where we could escape. [sigh] Yeah. Buckle up, Buttercup. We've got five long ass months of this crap. Summer is my time to complain about Texas weather. Sometimes it's fun to complain.
I finished the mermaid story. Yay! That makes TWO short stories I've finished this year. Go me! It feels so good to be out of that slump. I've markets in mind for it already, and I'm in the midst of prepping it before it goes out. (My husband is my copyeditor/beta reader for short stories.) One more round of fixes and off it goes with a nice little bow. Here's hoping it sells. Now that would be amazing. Two short story sales in one year? Woah. (Yes. Established authors get rejections. Rejections are a fact of author life.) I feel really good about it--although, the story is a serious downer and should be presented with trigger warnings in tow. It was a tough one to write in much the same ways that Of Blood and Honey was difficult to write. I had to type out a few words, flee my desk, come back, type a few more words, run away...and so on. But again, I think it was worth it.
On to the Waterborne story that's been stewing in my back brain. I was stuck for a bit, but my subconscious coughed up the solution to the problem--which, as always, was right there in the story all along. I love when that happens. My story brain has to chew on things for a while. My best writing is in the rewriting, not necessarily in the initial draft. It's part of what makes me a slow writer. Plots don't come at me all at once. For me, they're like puzzle pieces I put together in fits and starts. Worse, every story is totally different. So, on a certain level it's like learning how to write a novel all over again.
I'm going to expand on a FB post today.
Remember when you were a teenager? Remember when your every emotion was one raw nerve, running from your heart and through your entire body like a searing hot wire? Remember when every social slight, every downturn seemed like The End? Remember not knowing how to cope? Remember when adults told you you were being melodramatic? Remember when hormones were blamed for behavior that pissed off your parents? Better yet, remember when your car insurance rates were through the roof because statistics indicated high accident rates and that if you were male those rates were even higher? Remember the trauma of your teen years. It wasn't an exaggeration. Being an adolescent isn't easy. Maybe it was easy for you. Regardless, we've proof that adolescence is a big stage in brain development. From the study: "In the midst of all the apparent tumult, intense emotion, and occasional reckless behavior characterizing the teenage years, the brain is, in fact, evolving and developing the neural circuits needed to keep emotions in check."
Now, add in gender specific cultural influences. Notice how males are constantly being told they are the exception to the rule, to pretty much all rules.
I couldn't help myself. That just cracked me up. What with all the things going on already today, I felt something more pleasant was in order. So, I'm going with it. Today, I'll be writing about positive things.
First--because it's fresh in my memory--my nephew came over for dinner last night and gave me a wonderful unbirthday present. It's a copy of This Bridge Called My Back: Writings By Radical Women Of Color. The best thing about it is, not only did he give it to me to help out with my current project, he's read it, AND he wrote a paper on it. (He's in college.) How amazingly cool is that? Best nephew ever. We then watched the newest Jumanji because it's great.
Instead of sitting around, waiting for notes from my editor, I've been working on short stories and for the first time I feel I'm making real progress on several fronts. Short stories are hard to write--particularly if your natural length for stories is Novel. (All writers have a natural story length. Few can write short stories AND novels well.) Short stories are tricky. Every word must count. Every word has to do double and even triple duty. It's a study in verbal efficiency. How much power can one pack into each sentence? It's a totally different set of literary muscles. Novelists have to practice on a larger canvas. It's like the difference between miniature painting and mural painting. At the same time, I think you can guess as to why short story writing is good for novelists. That said, I see progress on this front as a sign that I'm getting better as a writer. Improvement is always good.
ZOMG, Murphy Brown is coming back.
Good morning, y'all. It's Monday again. Are you ready for that rush of righteous anger? Need some energy to do the intersectionally correct thing this week? Let's do it!
First, the videos.
I agree with most of what he has to say. Although, I will say that his position on burkas is less than nuanced. IMHO, it's a complicated topic deserving of more delicate discussion.
And now those links.
I'm not terrible with a camera, provided the camera in question is a good one and I'm interested in my subject. (But then again, that can be said of a lot of people.) I learned I can, in fact, travel alone in a country where I don't speak the language and have fun. I learned I really do have a great ear for accents and speech patterns and that due to this I am capable of learning a second language. (Watch out, French. Here I come to butcher you mercilessly--particularly spelling. Oh, gods, the spelling.) I learned that Paris is every bit as wonderful as people say. Although, the Eiffel Tower is a bit dull in comparison to all the other wondrous things in the city. I no longer worry that I'll never return when I travel. Travel is, in fact, possible for me. (Now, if only I could manage to get Dane on the plane with me.) Castles are amazing. Flowers are fantastic. Visual art is my creative life's blood, and I need to remember to visit with it regularly. (This is why I've been feeling so creatively dead lately. How about that?) Just like tea is better in the UK, all wine is the best in France. Luxembourg has great wine too. Great food is heaven. Cooking really is its own art form.
ZOMG, European chocolate! And French pastries!
In Houston, I learned that I can, in fact, manage car issues without having it over-run my work. I also learned I'm now better with intermediate writing students than I am with beginners. (I'm working on that.) Also, Houston isn't horrible...sometimes--not that I'll ever live there again. The fact that there wasn't a terrible storm during my trip home for a change made the Houston venture slightly less stressful.
People are amazing, and communication is even more magical than I thought. You can glean a great deal of information from expression, tone, and body language. It's true. There were so many times I did that very thing, and it was like mind reading. All it takes is careful attention and focus. I have to say that Americans are really not ever taught that.
Anyway, April was incredible. I honestly didn't think I'd get another "trip of a lifetime" experience and well, I did. Many, many thanks to Ani and his family, Luxcon, Ellen Kushner, and Delia Sherman. It wouldn't have happened without y'all.
Good morning, y'all. Sorry about yesterday. I was still woogly from all the travel, and well, I got focused on revising a story that sold last week. This is a good thing. Writing fiction is my job, after all, and it takes priority over writing for free. That's just how it is. (More details once the contract is signed and the story is finalized with the editor.) Anyway... let's get busy with the Feminism, shall we? I've been effectively off the internet (and off TV too) for the past three weeks. I'm sorry if these links prove to be a little stale.
Yes. Feminism is about women having the right to opinions of their own--even ones that are anti-Feminist. However, anti-Feminist opinions are still anti-Feminist even if a woman espouses them. And there you are.
And now...those links.
Good morning, y'all. I hope your Monday is a good one so far. Me, I'm in the midst of packing for another week's stint of suitcase living. I'll be teaching at WriteFest 2018 in Houston, and I'm excited to meet my students for the first time tonight. That said, since I've been in Luxembourg and France for the past couple of weeks and not really paying attention to social media, today's link list will probably be short. (It's just as well. I don't have a lot of time before I need to head Houston-ward.) And now...today's video.
Sort of. Starting Monday, I'm teaching a writing workshop in Houston. (That would be WriteFest.) So, I'm only home for a couple of days and then I'm off again. All those years of dreaming I, too, could travel frequently and...now I can see how exhausting that can be. I'm not complaining--not even a little bit. Luxembourg was amazing. So was Belgium and France. The journey through the Ardenne and then Normandy with Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman was downright magical. I'm excited about teaching a group of students who are serious about writing and doing it for four days straight. (That's the longest anyone has yet paid me to ramble on about things I'm passionate about.) I'm lucky to have so many amazing friends. And even luckier to be recognized for doing what I love. I truly am.
But wow is my own bed super attractive right now.
It's always something. I'll definitely be posting on Monday. Friday is a maybe. It depends upon how exhausted I am after a week of teaching. Hang in there, dear reader. I'll get back on schedule soon. I promise.
Travel is an amazing privilege and an incredible learning opportunity. I feel blessed. That sounds sappy, but there's really no other word for it. This was the first time I'd ventured onto the European continent. It was also the first time I'd visited a foreign country on my own that I didn't speak the language. I highly recommend doing so if you're a genre writer. Nothing teaches you more about First Contact, being foreign, and exploration in general like wandering off on your own and not being able to ask for the simplest things. Having a smart phone made everything easier. (And I had a wonderful time imagining I was a member of the Federation with a com device connected to the starship--which, in a sense, I was.) I'll never be able to watch a film or tv show where people venture into space an not feel it in my gut. It's terrifying, exciting, and joyful all at once.
This morning I woke up with a song from the film Waitress running in my mind. I'm not sure what to make of that. I suspect it's because I caught the end of it yesterday while Dane and I were having a lazy Sunday. The movie is a bittersweet little thing, if you've never seen it before. I relate to it because I live in the south, love baking pie, and...well...when I was younger I had terrible taste in men. Well worth checking out.
So, I'm heading off for Luxembourg on Wednesday. Hard to believe it's only a couple days away. I'm very much looking forward to it. That said, entries here might get a bit spotty for the next three weeks. I'm traveling for a convention (LUXCON!!!), hanging out in Paris for a week, and then I'll be teaching at Writefest in Houston. This is one of the few times in my life where the writing life is what you see in the movies--minus the hordes of adoring fans. Oh, I have fans. They're just not a horde. ;) Anyway, I enjoy it to the hilt while I can as anyone with a lick of sense would.
That said, here are today's video clips. First, this one explains why, sometimes, it's best to let others have something just for them.
Apparently, a couple of white dudes got rejected by literary agents due to their inability to write characters who don't happen to be exactly like themselves. That alone isn't so bad. It's normal for starting writers to screw up complex aspects of professional fiction writing. It takes years to master the craft well enough to be professionally published, and even then there are vast aspects that still must be studied in order to improve. Writing as an art form isn't easy. I can't emphasize this enough. We all start somewhere, and that somewhere is usually bad. To make things even more difficult, 98% of the time the new writer can't see how bad. (And yes, you can be 'new' even if you've been writing for decades.) Worse, too often it's difficult to pinpoint exactly what is wrong. So, improving and critiquing isn't a simple process. Regardless, mistakes aren't the problem. Mistakes are a good thing. Making mistakes is how humans learn the most thoroughly. Whether or not you're a writer with a professional attitude is all in how you approach your mistakes. In this case, the white male writers in question decided that the agent rejections weren't due to any need for improvement on their part. They blamed a Feminist conspiracy and then, of course, Twitter blew up.
Or, as I call it, Thursday.
Luckily, there were plenty of reality-checkers present. I especially like how one YA author and Twitter-user (thank you so much, @KosokoJackson) described it, "me, trying to figure out how or why a (yt) MAN thought starting a hashtag like #Misandryinpublishing would in anything but a brutal (well-deserved) takedown by the Valkyries of Twitter." The thread did indeed totally get taken over by the Valkyries of Twitter™, and it was a beautiful thing. As for the originators of the thread, that shit is going to sting for the foreseeable future. Hot tip, babies: publishing is a very small community. You better believe word gets around. By making it public, this mistake is going to be mighty difficult to recover from.
Once again, I'm reminded how ridiculous it is that white dudes seem to think they have anonymity on the internet--you know, that place where privacy died. Yes, it's time to stop telling white boys they can do anything or say anything. It's a disservice to them. It builds up their expectations, and society at large programs them into thinking they don't have to work for any of it. This is why so many white males resort to violence, guns, and/or verbal abuse. It's the frustration of socialized expectation.
Meanwhile, the rest of the known universe has to work twice as hard. This shit has to stop. Yes. Yes, white men, you can write about women, POC, QLTBAG persons, and the differently abled. However, you must do your homework. You cannot bullshit your way through. You will be called out on it. Just like the rest of us. Hell, chances are that even after you do your homework you'll get it wrong and be called out. Diversity is a complex topic due to intersectionality. You must learn empathy. And the best way to do that is to read the works of authors who are not like you.
Times are changing. Get with it, or get out of the way.
is a Science Fiction and Fantasy author living in Texas.