My return to Escape Artists

If you don’t listen reguarly to Escape Pod, you may not know that I have recently returned to Escape Artist’s staff as Editor at Large. What that means will become more clear in months ahead, I’m working on some behind the scenes stuff, and will take on some hosting duties on all of the EA shows (Escape Pod, Podcastle, Pseudopod).

I had to leave because when I was in grad school, something had to give, and it broke my heart to leave my editorial position at Escape Pod, so I’m absolutely thrilled to be back with the awesome Escape Artists!

ISBW #328 – Taking Care of Yourself // Gail Carriger interview

This week we welcome Gail Carriger back to the show, and talk about taking care of yourself. Hint- it’s not romantic to treat yourself like crap in order to brag that you’re not sleeping or drinking too much in order to feel like a “real” writer.

Don’t forget to check out the Patreon and support the podcast!

Finding the time – Hannibal

Prince Humperdinck: [sincerely] Tyrone, you know how much I love watching you work, but I’ve got my country’s 500th anniversary to plan, my wedding to arrange, my wife to murder and Guilder to frame for it; I’m swamped. 
Count Rugen: Get some rest. If you haven’t got your health, then you haven’t got anything.
~The Princess Bride

Spoilers for Hannibal Season Two below the cut.

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What I’ve learned from 20,000 30,000! steps

I hate my brain sometimes.

I can go months feeling guilty and in a rut, sure that I SHOULD start exercising and knowing that I COULD start exercising and just … not doing it.

But then Jim reminded me that two summers ago he was doing a 10k step a day challenge at work, and how it made him feel that summer, and I thought, well, hell, there’s proof right there that it’s possible. So I started doing it. I’d already been running for two weeks so I was getting around 5-7k steps a day, so if I run in the morning, do my normal movement throughout the day, and then do a walk at night, there’s my 10k. *

And holy shit, it worked.

I’ve been running two days on, and one day rest, so I’m a little worried about how I’m going to manage the 10k steps on a rest day,** but I have discovered some things:

  • It’s about 500 steps to my friends Richard and Melinda’s house. So I could walk to and from their house during writing breaks 10x and be done. Don’t worry guys, it’s not stalking; it’s exercise!
  • I can wear flipflops all day, but if I do a concentrated 1,000-step walk in them, I will get blisters between my toes. Don’t do that again.
  • I’m an even bigger slave to my fitbit now than before, as I REALLY want all the steps to count. I tried to explain to Jim and the dogs this morning that I couldn’t feed them (the dogs) until the fitbit charged, else those steps would be wasted. None of them thought this was a good excuse…
  • I’ve joined fi.tt for daily step challenges. I think the site is somewhat new, because there aren’t a lot of challenges, but it’s an interesting place because some of the challenges are a flat number (1 million steps this summer!) but others challenge you based on your own level, just saying to walk 20% more steps than usual, for example.
  • I’m really, really getting a lot of Zombies, Run! and The Walk episodes down. This pleases me so very much.
  • Rest days are difficult. Very difficult. I was in a car for 3 hours today, going to fetch the kid, and in the middle of the trip we stopped for lunch where there were no treadmills. Whole Foods really should install treadmill tables. So I came home and went for a 3 mile walk to the grocery store, and still had to walk 1.5 miles tonight to make the 10k. But I made it, dammit. Tomorrow I run again.
  • I am feeling better and feeling very accomplished. This is what exercise is supposed to do. But I’m also focusing on this a lot and when I am done exercising I feel a little too accomplished – ie, I’ve done the one big thing I am supposed to do, so then it’s naptime and Hannibal marathon, and those chores and writing and family time be damned. So I have to figure out how to make sure I don’t wear myself out at the expense of everything else in my life. I hear this exercise thing will make me have more energy after my body stops being OMG SO FREAKING TIRED after walking and running all the places.

* I work from home, so things like “just park further away from work and take the stairs!” pieces of advice don’t work that well for me. Although I am parking further away when I do errands.
** I started this post this morning, and finished it tonight, so I can say that rest days are hard, but doable.

Jay Lake

Jay Lake passed this morning. When I think about him, I remember him as strong, kind, and welcoming. And those seem like mild words, but Jay was the epitome of all three, unlike anyone I’ve ever met.

Jay wouldn’t say he was strong against his cancer, he was the first to say he was angry and frightened. But he was strong in the way that he didn’t hide it, he didn’t deny it, and he was open about what it did to him. He blogged about his cancer, he revealed much of the mystery behind it, and the treatments, and he was totally honest. He never put hope into miracles; he had hope, of course, but when the science told him he was terminal, he accepted it and put his affairs in order making sure his daughter was taken care of. (I had a relative who denied cancer for months and the family scrambled to get things done when the end was obvious. This was difficult.) He even threw his own wake to say good bye to friends last summer.

He also fiercely protected his daughter’s privacy, wanting her life online to be hers, not an extension of him. He blogged about his politics and his atheism with equal strength, never getting shouty and personal, but always presenting his arguments clearly.

Jay was always kind to me, he gave me an interview at my first WorldCon, and always said hello. He always welcomed people into SFF; I heard twice today on Twitter that new(ish) writers said they had met Jay, and he had remembered them the next time they met, even though they didn’t expect him to. Writers meet a lot of people at cons, after all, but Jay would likely remember you.

The day after the Hugo awards last year, he made a point to talk to me and tell me that he was in charge of caring for/keeping track of the Campbell tiara. He told me that, in addition to me winning the award, he was passing that responsibility to me, since he thought I was passionate enough about the award to make sure the tiara tradition continued. I nearly cried right there.

One of the biggest thrills of my life was receiving the Campbell Award from Jay and his daughter, and then getting a picture with them afterward. Jay is well loved and will be missed.

lake_campbell

Jay Lake, me, and Jay’s daughter after the Hugo ceremony – Photo © 2013 James J. Seals, all rights reserved. Reproduced with permission.

Weathering the bizarre post-RT shitstorm

At 6:15 yesterday morning, I boarded an airport shuttle with my friend Ursula. I was tired. Worn out from the RT Booklover’s Convention and lots of walking in NOLA. I was surprised and pleased to see my local friend Nan on the shuttle. As I sat down, she said, “How was your RT?”

I said, “It was Ursula.”

Now, see, I had the following thought in my tired head, I should introduce Nan to Ursula. I’m not sure if they know each other. That’s polite. It’s good to be polite pre-dawn, otherwise we become barbarians. Wait. Nan asked me a question. I should answer that first. I’ll say, “It was fine, thanks. By the way, do you know Ursula?” But the brain got short-circuited and I mixed my messages because I was thinking one thing while trying to address something else. So I said, “It was Ursula.”

Common, forgivable mistake, right?

There’s a shitstorm going on now in the wake of the Romantic Times Booklover’s Convention.* As an attendee and as someone who was at the Giant Book Fair on Saturday, I’m very confused about this storm.

Facts:

  1. The Book Fair had two rooms. One for authors published by publishing houses and one for indie (self-pub) authors. The indie author room was called “The Indie Author Room.” I think our room was called the “Published Author” room, or something more descriptive and less offensive. Ursula even mentioned how diplomatic it was.**
  2. The books were sold with two different business plans. Publishers give bookstores a returns program, so if they don’t sell books, they can return them. Indie authors can’t offer the same perk. So RT purchased their pub house books from distributors and told indie authors they could sell on consignment. I wasn’t in the indie author room, so I don’t know too many details about this, but it’s broken down here in this post by Courney Milan.
  3. The fact no one is talking about- RT gave away several identifying badge ribbons. I received one that said “Published Author.” Another one I saw several people wearing was “Aspiring Author.” People weren’t forced to wear these. Aspiring wasn’t a derogatory term. Aspiring also didn’t mean indie.

My theory: A harried volunteer – RT is a HUGE convention, and the volunteers often seemed frustrated or confused – saw someone’s “Aspiring Author” ribbon, got that phrase stuck in their head, and instead of directing someone to the “indie author room” instead said, “aspiring author” room.

This is just a theory. But I was there, and I never once heard about this “aspiring author” room although the indie room was mentioned many times over the loudspeaker. Still, word has gotten out, and the rumor mill is going strong (fueled in part by Hugh Howey) about how horrible RT is for treating indie self-pub authors as “aspiring.” Civil rights terms are coming up in boggling misappropriation, even.

SHOULD the pub authors and the indie authors have been placed together? Probably. We certainly weren’t separated based on popularity or books sold; I would bet cash money that a lot of the indie authors sold more books than I did. They had their fans, their books were in demand.

COULD the authors have been placed together? Frankly, with the very confusing setup and the nightmare lines that were already there, I think mixing the two groups would have made everything so much worse.

So the real question here is, was there a way to keep both authors in the same room? Honestly, no, our room was full to “Oh god I hope there isn’t a fire” with 200 authors and more fans. Could the group have been separated by A-L authors in one room and M-Z in the other? That might make sense. But there’s still the problem of the consignment vs bookstore-provided books. The “let the cashier figure it out” isn’t an option, trust me when I say these lines were hellishly long. It took hours for some people to get through.

(Course I did wonder why they just didn’t have it like an SF convention with one big dealer room open the whole con instead of four intense hours, where the author drops by the booth when she can, but that’s another story.)

There is something to talk about here, but focusing on a slip of one volunteer’s tongue and stirring a shitstorm of WE ARE NOT RESPECTED11!!11!!!! is not the way to do it. I’m not saying this is a tone argument, I’m saying this is misinformation that is getting a hell of a lot more attention than the truth is. It’s heavily distracting from the real issue of “is there a way to mix the two groups in an efficient way that’s good to the authors AND the poor fans already so patient to wait in hell-lines?”

*Tiny, shameful aside – is anyone else glad it’s not SFF that’s the genre-of-shitstorm-focus this week?

**Ursula and I are both hybrid publishers.

 

I’m small, but still sorry

Regarding the Hugos and the mess behind certain folks gaming the system, my stance was pretty much John Scalzi’s stance, that we can just read the works and vote as we see fit. Lately there have been several rebuttals to it, and they contain very good points.

His response was classy, as the guy tends to be. I am much smaller, and pretty sure I didn’t get blogged about (at least, no one emailed me) but I’m freely admitting my misstep here, just in case someone reads me but does not read Scalzi. All two of you.

Scalzi’s post today, listing the rebuttals here.

I wanted to quote one longtime ISBW supporter, Arachne Jericho, with this bit that really spoke to me (slur trigger warnings):

What struck me about statements like [that we can just read the works and vote as we see fit] is that they are made from a very privileged position: the position of someone who knows they will not be harmed by reading the works in question.

Why should words hurt? Because words are powerful; because words create the world we live in; because words have been used in the past to disenfranchise, discriminate, disempower. Here are just a few of those words: Slut. Nigger. Chink. Gypsy. Tranny. They have horrible power over those to whom they apply—and, conversely, little to no power over those who are outside of their definitions.

If single words can hurt, then ideas, which are expressed in multiple words, indeed, are expressed through essay and story, exactly what is being judged on the ballot—ideas can be downright harmful to a person even if they aren’t true. “Blacks commit crime and are thugs.” “Homosexuals are pedophiles.” “Asians are the enemy among us.” “Transwomen are crazy men.” “Autistics never lead fulfilling lives.” Again, terrible power over those to whom they apply, little to none over those outside of it all.

(Rape trigger warning)
I apologize for not thinking of this, because I have had this reaction: I can’t read some of the classic works of SFF (Thomas the Unbeliever, Stars My Destination, etc) because the protagonist is a rapist. Boom, book over for me. Protag could die in a fire, don’t care. No sympathy anymore, it’s gone. I blogged about this a while back and got considerable shit from some men – even a comment about “why do women get so upset about reading about rape instead of, say, murder?” which just fucking boggled my mind to the point where I didn’t even answer, because I figured anything I said would just be more “bitches be whining” to his sexist ears.

(One answer, in case you don’t know — and there are many more than one — is that you can be pretty sure your readers haven’t been murdered, but statistics say that some – probably many – of your readers have been raped.)

So I didn’t take the same heat Scalzi did, actually no heat at all, but I read the rebuttals and wanted to apologize anyway, because I said something super dumb. And I’m sorry.

Again, from Arachne Jericho:

This ballot is here, and it’s not going away; this much is true. But the marginalized don’t have to read those works. Both the marginalized and those who aren’t can all choose to not read those works.

It’s the great opt-out; when the world turns its back on you and ignores you, even when you manage to get on the ballot of one of the most prestigious—or at least, one of the most infamous—awards in the field….

I gotta say, that’s gonna leave a mark.

My open tabs

Been doing a lot of thinking. Had a light week with Jim out of town and taking the kiddo to an amusement park, the Hugo/Campbell nominees announced, Easter, gardening, etc. So I am looking at a great deal of stuff in my browser and thought, heck, I’d write about my open tabs.

  1. Email. Duh. But! Someone said that if you write /ponies in G-chat that you would get, well, ponies. Like Twilight Sparkle and Pinkie Pie and all that. This was exciting. Tried it out with my friend Andrea. Fail.Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 10.15.46 PMThere’s like email stuff in the email tab, too, but ponies.
  2. Fitbit spring clean blog: I joke that my walks/runs are really “feeding the fitbit” and, let’s face it, hitting 40 has not been good for my ass and waist. (It’s like my body has said, “We have done our genetic duty. It’s time for sweatpants.”) But this particular fitbit post coincides with a discussion I had with Jim today about walking outside affecting creativity, and I expressed some disbelief that my creativity is better served by a walk outside than with an hour with an ipad game.(Come on. I was kidding. I may be addicted to my iPad but I do acknowledge it.)So more walks. Fewer games of FTL. Which I have yet to beat. On easy. BUT THAT IS NOT THE POINT.
  3. Become A Cosmo Fiction Blogger: I admit, I’m intrigued. Upon reading this, a character sprang to mind, fully formed.I will call her Athena in the spirit of the goddess’ birth. So Athena has lived the rom-com, a city girl who vacationed in the country and discovered love there, a kind country veterinarian. Her wheeling and dealing Wall St. boyfriend showed up to make Act II end poorly, but it all turned out OK by Act III, love story happy ending. BUT that is backstory. At the start of my story she is discovering that having a partner who has a job that forces your evening sexy time to be interrupted by horse births, well, isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. There are other issues, obviously, but the hammer falls on the night where she is trying to salvage their relationship with some lingerie purchased at a recent trip to the city, and a bottle of wine, and Farmer Fran Murphy down the road has a cow with a complicated birth, and Handsome Vet Dude must attend. When HVD comes home (the calf died, very sad), Athena is gone, back to the city and the life she knows. Thus starts our sex/dating blog.

    Solid gold, I am telling you. Although it’s possible they don’t want humor…

  4. Send Nicole to Clarion! – There are two blog posts such as these going around, two people who had the talent and luck to get accepted into Clarion, but, let’s face it, it’s expensive, not to mention the wages most people will lose during a 6-week-residential course. So I’ll be supporting Nicole and Haralambi Markov because dammit, ISBW supports fledgling writers. (OK, I’ll support Nicole once I find my wallet. I’m downstairs. It is upstairs. See problem 2 above with the fat ass and the lazy. NICOLE I WILL GET TO YOU AND YOUR CLARION AND YOUR NON-PAYPAL CAMPAIGN. AS SOON AS I GET MY WALLET.)
    EDIT- SUPPORTED!

  5. SFF180 Special- a Hugo Finalist discussion (video)- I have many, as the kids say these days, “feels” about the 2014 Hugo ballot.First the Campbell- I couldn’t be happier. It’s full of so many damn SMART PEOPLE: Max Gladstone, who I bonded with last WorldCon, is on the ballot again. I’m working through his series now and am just blown away. Speaking of blown away, Angry Robot authors Wesley Chu and Ramez Naam are on the ballot, and they are SO talented. Mez is one of those people who makes me feel kinda humble and dumb to talk to. Dude is just so smart. Read his books. Feel his smart. The other two authors I’m not familiar with, but will definitely be, as Sofia Samatar and Benjanun Sriduangkaew are widely published in amazing short story publications, and Samatar is also nominated for the Hugo for short story. (We’ve seen this before, haven’t we, E. Lily Yu, who is awesome?)

    Campbell ballot: two women, three men. FOUR people of color. FOUR. Pardon me while I run around in glee. This is the future of SF, people. It’s so goddamn exciting.

    As for the rest of the ballot, there’s too much going on to be specific -that needs its own post- but I’m very glad that Mira Grant and Mary Robinette Kowall got nominations, as Grant put out another thought-provoking SF book this year (Parasite) and Mary Robinette was robbed last year from a nomination. I haven’t read Ancillary Justice yet, but I hear nothing but OMG BEST BOOK EVAR about it, so I’m looking forward to it. Also looking forward to Charlie Stross’ book.

    I will be honest. I won’t be reading the whole of Wheel of Time this summer. That’s just not going to happen. Physically impossible.

    As I just listened to The Human Division again with the family (the kiddo loved it), I am surprised Scalzi didn’t get a nomination, esp since he could have been nominated for the whole book, or one of the many separately published parts. (I love The Human Division for a lot, but it’s a particularly feminist book with all starship captains being women, the main woman being a) not a love interest, and b) a diplomatic, no-nonsense hardass with the word “bitch” being uttered – near as I can recall – not once? I think Hart Schmidt’s sister calls her an “asshole” at some point, but that’s not feminine-specific bile and as I said, the ambassador isn’t cuddly, nor a woman to be “tamed” by love and/or sex, and the bridge of the Clarke having all women and one man, gender-swapping Star Trek.) And I’m downright shocked that Neil Gaiman didn’t get a nomination for Ocean at the End of the Lane – it wasn’t my favorite of his books, but it’s all anyone talked about last summer. And it has a Nebula nomination. He could have turned down the Hugo nomination, naturally. Who knows?

    Feminist bloggers Kameron Hurley and Foz Meadows are nominated for best fan writer, and I nominated both of them. So thrilled their voices are heard and acknowledged.

    The full lineup is here.

    The tab that’s open is talking about nominations, and some other things going on with the ballot that have some people upset. Some people who most find reprehensible racist homophobic sexist dipshits (hint, I’m among those of that opinion) have made the ballot, and people Are Angry, assuming those nominated have made the ballot by gaming the system instead of by writing good stuff.

    But they’re on the ballot. All I’m going to do is read the nominated works and vote as I see fit. Reprehensible people have a right to be heard in this country, which is good because I’m sure someone else thinks I’m reprehensible with my fallopian tube-ness and my equal-rights-wanting-ness. Of course, I have the right to not listen to their bile, and vote for their works as I see fit. Which I will do. It’s all I can do, really. I’m sure they’re enjoying seeing the liberals freak about this – but I don’t know for sure, because I don’t read their blogs. I’ve read enough bile and hatred on their blogs to suit me for life.

    Lastly – full disclosure, I’m an Orbit author- I don’t understand the Best Editor category. I know many of the people nominated, and I think they are amazing editors. I’m not trying to take away their thunder.  I’m not angry about who was nominated, I’m just confused about those left out. Riddle me this- why does the Best Novel category so often have Orbit books (Mira Grant’s books, NK Jemisin’s books, and this year three of the five nominated spring to mind) listed, but they don’t honor the editors at Orbit? During the Oscars, there’s always fuss if a picture gets Best Pic nomination but NOT Best Director, or vice versa, because how can a picture be Best without an amazing director at the helm, but you don’t hear that at the Hugos, with best editor not always correlating with best novel. And yeah, the editor of the books aren’t always obvious, but that’s not much of an excuse.

    ANYWAY. Video about the Hugos. Watch it. It’s good.

Bought rose bushes today. Weeded. Cooked lamb. It was a good day. Now I’m going to go to sleep and try to feet the fitbit something hardcore tomorrow.

Also record.

Update on recording

I recorded a show this week, and discovered the audio file got corrupted. i have to record again, which is sad-making. I’ll try to get it done this weekend and struggle back into a regular schedule.

This week I went to Busch Gardens with the kiddo, where we discovered that people do not want to go to an amusement park when there is the threat of rain, even if it’s lovely and mild, but if it’s 40 degrees and sunny, they will go in droves. We preferred the sort of rainy day. That is, until it started raining really hard.

We stayed at a nice hotel in Colonial Williamsburg, but that part of the state is strange, with few restaurants that aren’t attached to the historical area (and therefore packed.) The hotel restaurant was in a separate building (not a big deal unless it’s raining like crazy and 40 degrees.) and didn’t do room service.

The amusement park was fun, but the unexpected fun we had was at Colonial Williamsburg where we heard about this spy game they had for kids. Codes and cyphers and secret meetings with actors in town! We got all the information and went on our merry way. The letter you get starts with how revolution is starting, only Williamsburg is full of British sympathizers and they need to find people who are loyal the the rebels’ cause.

We got a blue bandana to wear, which would let the other couriers and people know who we were. Excited to play, we started out. Then we realized that Williamsburg was packed, completely packed with people playing this game. How were we going to have a secret meeting with the courier when hundreds of people around us were waiting for the same thing?

When the kiddo spotted a dog with the blue bandana on, that was it. We knew we were done. So, dejected, we wandered Williamsburg and tried to decide what to do. That’s when I came up with the idea that the town was fine, I couldn’t find any British sympathizers at all. The rebellion was downright healthy here. It seems what was needed was British double agents. So we walked around secretly collecting information for the British in order to report back about these Colonials who were getting uppity. It was amusing to us at least.

At night I tried to do work, but then I discovered my audio was corrupted. So, no editing for me. :( But I’ll get some work done this weekend, and will have all sorts of awesome stuff for you next week!