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.
And welcome to another addition of "Things That Make Me Smile." Let's start with the obvious here: The Good Place.
My husband majored in philosophy at UT. There are a lot of philosophy jokes in this series. Ultimately, I rank it with Terry Pratchett when it comes to cheering me up and returning my faith in humanity. For the record, on of the things I adore most about the show is that just when you think you know exactly where its headed, it throws a curve ball. Serious props for the comedy writing on this one, folks. That shirt ain't easy.
This next one isn't quite so...let's say nice. [cough] Alex Jones and InfoWars (his conspiracy theory promoting YouTube channel) have been temporarily banned from YouTube. I actually did a little dance. He's caused so much harm, promotes blatant lies, and uses his show to sell overpriced, shitty products. I still don't understand why anyone believes anything he says. It's a scam. Anyway, I'm happy to see him get slapped. Let' hope he gets a permanent ban soon. I'm pretty sure he won't stop claiming shooting survivors are "crisis actors". So, it's a safe bet, if you ask me.
Filed under artwork, check out Cunene. Here's more. And more. (Thanks, Jess!) Also, have a look at Tomer Hanuka's work. I love the dynamic use of color and composition as well as the manga sensibility mixed with German Expressionism. Good stuff.
Sorry about last Friday. We've been having some issues with our internet connection. A service rep came by and replaced everything with new equipment, and now we're having a whole new set of problems. [eye roll] So much fun.
Oh! I've a reading this coming weekend at Malvern Books with several other wonderful local authors: Patrice Sarath, Christopher Brown, Marshall Ryan Maresca, Jessica Reisman, Robert Ashcroft, and Amanda Downum. The event starts at 2pm on Sunday the 29th. Please drop by, if you can!
A lot has been going on. Disney fired James Gunn for horrible, offensive comments he made in public (Twitter) in the past (2009-2012) about rape as well as gay and transgender individuals. My feelings on the matter are complex. And this article from NPR explains my position pretty well--basically, it's complicated. There are factors that affect the outcome, IMHO, like: how severe is the wrong done? Has the community/individual harmed forgiven the abuser? How dramatic is the change of behavior for the better? Does the abuser act like they remember their actions? Are they truly repentant? There's a lot going on. It's not simple. Most human problems aren't or they wouldn't be human problems.
Another issue that's sprung up is related to World Con. Once again, the programming is a hot mess. I'm not shocked. It seems there's an attitude among the programming team that new nominees (strangely, the new nominees from marginalized communities especially so) aren't considered well-known enough to be on panels. What the ever fuck? They're known enough to get nominations, but not enough to be on panels? What the hell do you think the convention is for? The awards ceremony is a big part of why the convention exists! For the record, my experience of my first Campbell nomination was not a totally positive one. I was also made to feel insignificant. (Although, not on the level of having my pronouns misused or being made to repeatedly ask for accommodations for my disabilities. Yes, that's happening too.)
The more fans adopt the attitude that somehow they are the arbiter of the community of which they are only a part, the more shitty things are going to continue to happen. Look, courtesy toward those from whom you are asking work at their own expense (and attending cons is work and it's expensive too) is not much to ask. Courtesy and kindness costs nothing, damn it. I really wish we could learn the lessons here and move on. But apparently that isn't going to happen until things get drastic. That sucks.
And now today's video.
So, yesterday I saw a dude on Twitter posit whether or not the residents of Themyscira would be able to survive a fight with the Dora Milaje. (He said he was betting on the Dora Milaje.) I get it. Boys love nothing more than to grab up their action figures (dolls) and smash them together, and I'm sure that was all there was to it--consciously. However, there is a vast amount of social pressure on women to dress, act, and be something pleasant for men. And one of those things that first popped to mind when I read that was "mud wrestling." These inclinations being so prevalent in American society, combined with the Patriarchy's need to keep women divided has been a big issue throughout the Feminist Movement's history. It's why I was so disappointed when American Horror Story ventured into the witchy part of the forest. They did the right thing, bringing in Stevie Nicks. Absolutely. They did the right thing when they mentioned America's history of slavery, racism, and the problems around White Feminism--at least that's what I chose to believe it was doing. (It didn't do it very well, I must say.) What they did absolutely wrong was to make those things impossible obstacles. They aren't. And, in fact, solidarity with all womb-having and non-womb having people who identify as women no matter their race, history, financial background, able-ness, or belief systems is absolutely vital for Feminism's future. I firmly believe this. And that's why my response was: "I strongly suspect they wouldn't fight at all. In fact, they'd group up and form a battle formation against the Patriarchy. #sisters" Here's the deal: both groups' homelands are Patriarchy free. Both groups are fully aware that Patriarchy exists outside their homes. Both of those countries are heavily protected too. There is no way they'd fight. Both groups are far too smart and aware for that. I have similar feels re: the new Mary Queen of Scots series. First, Mary was raised in France not Scotland. Second, Mary and Elizabeth were never friends. They were two powerful women who were manipulated (one more than the other) by the men around them. I hate that such a interesting story has been reduced to a cat fight. Because, you know mud wrestling.
Okay. Now, today's videos:
There wasn't a post yesterday due to a minor routine medical procedure, involving full on anesthesia. (The test results were perfectly normal. No worries.) I decided since driving, signing legal documents, and drinking were off the table--maybe blogging should be too? It seemed wise. So, I took the day off. Thus, NEW IDEAS happened. This is a good thing.
Just before the procedure in question, a nurse anesthetist showed up. As it turned out he was, ironically enough, a Libertarian. (Of course, he was a white cis/het dude.) He gave me the standard post-anesthesia restrictions which led to Dane and I immediately joking about going out on an all-day booze fest, flying lessons, and selling/buying a house. The nurse looked a little serious. So, I stopped and said, "That's a joke. We don't own a house." He then decided it was time to go off on how that was a good thing because TAXES. ZOMG! TAXES! "You don't get anything in return!" I blinked and thought, You've got to be fucking kidding me. Right? In an instant, I realized he wasn't. Therefore, I returned with, "Oh, sure. Nothing at all. Because paved roads, libraries, support systems, and everything else are nothing." He said that everything I was talking about re: civilization was based upon faith in the system. "Yes," I said. "The only way civilization works is that we all agree on certain principles." He nodded. "Like law." I said, "Not murdering people is good. I think we can agree on that." And then he went off on hippies and how free loaders happen, and leaving the work for a few, and "The Prize must exist" and blah fucking blah. He had to leave the room before he completed his Gospel Of Ayn Rand™. And, unfortunately, before I had time to gently rip huge holes in his religion. But I tucked that discussion away in plastic wrap for later like a piece of insufficiently chewed gum. And my brain unwrapped it this morning.
Good morning, y'all. I hope your weekend was wonderful and restful because we've got a lot of work to do, and you are much needed. Ready for some inspiration? Let's go!
While searching the internet this morning I came upon a chart that listed Wonder Woman as one of the most influential Feminist events of last year. Here's the thing. If you're listing films and use Wonder Woman and neglect to list Black Panther, then you're not as Feminist as all that. Because Black Panther is, hands down, the most Feminist film I've ever seen--and the women weren't even the center of the story. Watch those two films back to back and you'll see what I mean. In Wonder Woman, Diana is running up against the usual misogyny and blocks to her power. The film isn't telling us anything new. It's merely portraying the day to day struggle of women everywhere. There is no big revelation--no new lessons learned. It's just the usual: "Hang tough there, little lady. Eventually, men will come around if you show them you can perform twice as good as they do." There's a reason I adored the first part of the film set on the Amazon island while the rest of the film left me a little cold, up until the Dead Man's Land push. That was real. That demonstrated the day to day struggle in terms that were hard to argue with. It illustrated the vehemence of the attacks women endure online. That felt like progress. Still, toxic masculinity was everywhere. Sure, it was mocked, but here's the deal: humans often use humor to demonstrate the working power dynamics. This frequently underlines those power structures instead of destroying them.
It wasn't until I saw Black Panther that I understood what Feminism really looked like. The women in that film truly were equals. They didn't have to prove shit. They weren't struggling. Women were thriving. And the best part was the whole country was thriving with them. There was no toxic masculinity to push against--except that which existed outside of Wakanda. It wasn't assumed that women were lesser. Every character who happened to be female had their own life outside of their relationship with men. They had agency. And every plot point didn't rest upon a man's choices. I adored that. It was like a bomb went off in my head. I saw Wonder Woman for what it was: an attempt to show progress but only so much progress. It only allows women to go so far and no farther. It was as if women were being told "Dream of your fight against Patriarchy, but never imagine a world without it." I learned a lot that day.
We need more imaginings of a world without Patriarchy. We need less about the struggle of living with it. The same is true of all the bigotry. We cannot create in reality what we cannot imagine. And that's the truth.
Look, if your job is to listen to the majority of the citizens over which you have power, and you refuse to listen during office hours (I know my representatives often have full mailboxes and no one answering the phones.) then you're leaving the people with no other option than to confront your ass during off-hours. This is how Americans react to burgeoning dictatorships. Get used to it. Also, perhaps you should stop blowing off 70% of the population that disagrees with your policies. Otherwise, this is the least of your worries. It goes nowhere good from here.
And now, today's links.
Last week, I got some happy news. In case you didn't see it on FB, I sold a second story this year. That's pretty great since I've only completed two stories in the past six months. I'm a very slow writer when it comes to non-novel length stories. I find that I need to know where the thing is headed and what it's really all about, and well, a lot of fumbling around results before I can discover those things. Yeah, being an organic writer is a pain in the ass sometimes. Nonetheless, my bar story (technically a novella), Second Verse, Same as the First, has a home in the Genius Loci anthology, and my mermaid story (technically a novelette), A Siren's Cry is a Song of Sorrow, will be published in the September issue of Apex Magazine. I'm thrilled to death for both. It's hard to get stories in magazines. There's a great deal of competition. I've been trying (on and off) for my whole career. (Novels are my natural story-telling length, and that has something to do with it.) Five novels later, though, I finally did it. I am super happy about that.
Never give up. :)
And now, some things I like. First, there's this series of Fantasy travel posters by artist, Chet Phillips. I love them. I can't decide between the Scotland with dragon or the England Cthulhu poster. Oh, who am I kidding? I'm probably going with the Cthulhu poster--not because I like Lovecraft. (I really, really don't.) But because I love Cthulhu pastiches, and that image pretty much sums up my feelings of lurking horror these days. He also does a series featuring SF films. Under the music category...well...I haven't done much venturing into new territory since most of the writing I've done since the first draft of Persephone Station is complete has had a strong nostalgic bent to it. So, have some old favorites.
is a Science Fiction and Fantasy author living in Texas.