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!

Latest News, events, travel, cons, etc

Sorry for the radio silence last week, folks. Got hit with some mild depression and did a lot of offline stuff. I’m back, and working, and recording, and writing. But some news in brief:

  • As of noon EST, the Storium Kickstarter is at nearly $22,000! That means it could possibly reach its goal of $25k in one day. And then we have 29 more days to work on stretch goals, and I know they’re pretty damn awesome.
  • I was surprised and thrilled to be written up in the Durham Bulls blog, Hit Bull Win Blog, as a Superfan. Last year I was playing around with the idea of Sansa from A Song of Ice and Fire attending a Durham Bulls game as if it were a jousting tourney. I called it #sansaball and had fun doing it. The Bulls, a geeky organization, noticed, and wrote about me yesterday.
  • Next Thursday April 17 – I will be at the Barnes and Noble at Brier Creek, Raleigh, for a book event. If you missed the Flyleaf event, I’d love it if you could come by the B&N!
  • April 23 – I will be appear at the East Coast Gaming Conference (ECGC) on a panel about writing compelling characters. It’s a 3:15 panel, so if you’re in town for the event, check it out.
  • Future events: May 13-18- I will be at the RT Booklover’s Convention in New Orleans. It’s my first romance convention, I’m really excited to check it out.
  • June 27-29 – ConTemporal, Raleigh. Not sure I will be on programming or not, but I’ll definitely attend. The child must cosplay, afterall.
  • August 14-18 – LonCon in London. Can’t WAIT for this. Haven’t been to London since 2001.
  • November 6-9 – World Fantasy Con in Washington DC.

I really wanted to hit NASFIC, but the timing just doesn’t work out for me with teaching this summer. It’s cutting it awfully close.

Anyway, that’s the news from me. Hope to see you at an event or three this year!

Back to writing and recording and stuff.

Boskone and professionalism

Yesterday afternoon I got home from Boskone. Had a stressful travel day, landed, and ran off to see Book of Mormon in Durham. It was awesome; I’ve been waiting nearly two years to see this show and it delivered.

Boskone was definitely worth the trip, despite the blizzard and the shortened con because I had to run home for the show. I got some good time with other authors, some editors, Stonecoast friends and mentors, and met some new fans. Panels were great, but one moment stood out: I had a “funny pose” panel (a-la Jim C. Hines) – which was amazingly fun – at 7pm on Saturday. At 730, Boskone held a big book launch party, and Orbit (my publisher) kindly sent in a box of Ghost Train to New Orleans. I was delighted and promised I’d get to the party right after the posing panel to push the books and sign them if people wanted me to. When I got there at 8pm they told me the very good and very bad news that my book had been one of the fastest moving titles (YAY) and thus they were all gone so there was nothing for me to sign, no fans to meet (BOO). Some people did find me later and have me sign their copy. (YAY)

But one thing came out of the con that has me thinking: I want to talk professionalism: When we talk about being a pro, it often means doing work even when we don’t want to, and being polite to others in your field so you’re not mocked as being a sexist asshat, but another aspect of being a pro hit me this weekend: no matter what level in your career that you are in, you go to cons to connect with people. Readers, writers, editors, agents, fans, dealers, what have you. Even if you’re a veteran there just to see old friends, the mere act of being in public reminds readers who you are, the panels increase your visibility, the signings and readings reconnect you with the fans and tell them I’m still writing.

But for the non veterans, for the new writers, or baby published writers like me, it can be hard. When I’ve talked about this in the past, I’ve always talked about approaching writers/editors/agents as getting over a shyness problem. But yesterday I realized it goes deeper than that. It’s our JOB to do this. Networking is part of the job, just like putting your butt in the chair is. And if you can’t do that part of your job, you might suffer.

Charlaine Harris was at the con. During a panel, my friend Kristabelle asked Harris a craft question and Harris jumped on it, delighted to talk about writing. Apparently not a lot of people ask her craft questions. “Well heck, maybe she’d like to be on ISBW,” I thought, and immediately got scared. Ask Charlaine Harris? That’s terrifying. She’s famous and important. I have little to no connection with her, I didn’t know anyone who could introduce us. I would have to essentially cold call (cold approach?) her in the middle of the con for an interview. Saturday night, I saw her having a drink with her agent at the bar, and thought, “when I finish this glass of wine I’ll be relaxed enough to ask her. And they might be done by then so I won’t have that “I’m interrupting” problem.” I forgot I was drinking on an empty stomach, and by the time the wine was gone, I was not in a professional space to approach an author I’ve never spoken to, and the next time I looked, she was gone anyway.

I could easily blame a number of things- the wine hit too hard, I should have eaten dinner, I didn’t want to interrupt her chat with her agent, blah blah. But the truth was, I was too scared to do my fucking job. And that can’t continue.

It’s not about being brave, it’s about doing the job. And I think (hope) if I approach networking and interviewing and the like with the mindset of “time make the donuts” then I might do this a little better.

(I’m sorry I didn’t score a Charlaine Harris interview for you.)

(15 days till Ghost Train to New Orleans!)

Goodreads giveaway, interviews, and more!

So much going on!

  • Goodreads is doing a giveaway of Ghost Train to New Orleans!
  • I was on the Serving Worlds podcast to discuss Stonecoast (along with author KT Bryski, who just joined the program).
  • I’m an advisor to the new storytelling game, Storium, and we’re rolling out a new version soon. Sign up and join the testing!
  • I’ve got a LOT of new Captain Spaulding recipes! I can’t wait to start testing! I’ll remind people two things:
    1. Please email the recipes to me, it makes it easier for me to keep track of things.
    2. I’d prefer your own recipes. You can modify an existing recipe, of course, but I don’t want to slap a new name on an unmodified old drink. I wanted to make this a new thing. And sometimes a new drink is as easy as taking an old drink and giving it a new garnish.
  • And you will have THREE new ISBW’s this week. An older episode + interview I did at the turn of the year but never got uploaded before January exploded, a rapid fire from this week, and another interview.
  • Don’t forget I will be at Boskone this coming weekend! I’ll be on panels and workshops and testing Captain Spaulding recipes at the bar!

Ghost Train to New Orleans – Out March 4

Events! Come visit! Make me not-lonely!

Not unlike Phil the groundhog, I am coming out of my hole in February and am ready to see people. Only I’m not looking for my shadow.

What the hell did that mean anyway? If it’s a sunny day, there are six more weeks of winter? And how can we tell what the groundhog sees, anyway? Is it like an elephant where it will be all startled if it sees it?

Anyway! Events!

  • This Saturday (Feb 8), I will have a Meet the Author event at the southeast branch of the Durham County Library.
  • Feb 14-16 – Next weekend I will attend Boskone and have a very full schedule on Friday and Saturday. I’m on the kid’s programming, and the readings, and the adult programming. So come see me at a panel, or I will likely be at whatever con bar is available during the evenings. I will also have giveaways and stuff. Find me!
  • March 4 - Ghost Train to New Orleans comes out! Preorder! Ask for it at your local book stores! Download the ebook! Listen to the audiobook! So many options!
  • March 6 - I will have a launch event at the utterly awesome indie bookstore Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill.
  • Future events- May has me attending RT in New Orleans, July has me teaching at Shared Worlds (Register now!), and in August I’m heading to London for WorldCon.

Tomorrow: The Return of ISBW!


Ghost Train to New Orleans – Out March 4

I’m back! January Report

Hi there! I’m finally back. January was more intense than I expected it to be, and that’s saying something.

I had my final Stonecoast residency this month, and this was both more and less intense than the others. It was more intense because this time I was an instructor, responsible for an hour-long lecture, also a live reading. It was less intense because I had no workshops to participate in, and although I could attend the lectures, I wasn’t required to write anything about them.

My reading went well, the room was packed for myself and two of my fellow students. People laughed in the right places, and even in places I didn’t expect. Jim Kelly gave a wonderful introduction to my work that made me want to cry, damn him.

My presentation was about if it’s possible to teach humor, learn how to write humorously, and if a joke can live once you take it apart to talk about why it works. (My answers are yes, yes, and yes. The lie of “you either have it or you don’t” lies in the problem of talking about humor isn’t funny, and therefore isn’t fun. Or, in short, it’s WORK.) It was well-attended and very well received. I was pleased.

I graduated with my MFA that Saturday and had my tearful good byes on Sunday. Now I’m Master Mur, and very happy with my experience.

When I came home, I jumped almost immediately into the recording of Ghost Train to New Orleans and that took a week. Recording for hours for the book didn’t make me really eager to come home and record a podcast. Sorry.

Now we are a month from book launch and I’m back, blogging and podcasting more regularly. Promise.

Tomorrow- what happens during the recording of an audiobook.

Ghost Train to New Orleans – Out March 4

Those pesky resolutions – 3 words

I’ve read several blog posts on resolutions, everything from how much they suck, to how to write them so they stick, to avoiding resolutions all together for three words (I was reminded of this by my friend Grant Baciocco). The concept is explained at the bottom by the brilliant CC Chapman.

I try not to make resolutions, because I’m very bad at follow through, and then feel like a failure. But I like the three words approach.

  • I’m dealing with the inevitable opinion that my body takes of I’m 40 now! I don’t have to be in shape to make babies, so I can slow metabolism and just take the next 40 years off! And this isn’t just “I’d like to lose weight,” it’s also my health, how my body seems to get hitches here and problems there. And when I’m not feeling well, or feeling too tired, I don’t have energy for my family, energy to go on adventures with my kid, hikes with my husband. I’d just rather stay in. So for a better, more exciting 2014, I’m trying to track my sleep and what I eat, wear the proper shoes (I’ve had weird foot pain lately and realize I have fancy orthodics that I’m not wearing), and start running soon. Yoga starts today. (It’s really hard to find one word that means “I’m going to take care of myself.” I blame the Puritans, as every “self” and “ego” word is considered negative. But dammit, egocentric can also mean self-concerned and self-loving and I don’t see anything wrong with that. It doesn’t mean “at the expense of all others.” As the airlines say, secure your own mask before helping others. And as we say in the South, ain’t nobody happy if Mama ain’t happy. So even though it has a negative connotation, I choose Egocentric.)
  • In 2013 I wrote close to 300,000 words. That included one book, some short stories, several chapters of another book, several rewrites of those chapters, etc. I’m proud of that, but that’s just the beginning. This coming year has got to be more productive. I have to start respecting the demands of the magic spreadsheet again, shooting for my daily wordcount of 500+ instead of 250. If I had kept to the spreadsheet’s guidelines, I might have closer to 400,000 words. I need a word better than “write” or “create” since those would be my words every year. I guess the key here is how I approach writing, a problem I’ve had in the past: Persistence.
  • I’m timid and afraid. See yesterday’s post. I walk the safest path, which is often the laziest path. It hits me when I worry I’m not supporting my kid enough when she wants to capture the moon in a butterfly net. I figure if I can be more risky, I can encourage her to do so. I have a lot of projects in my head that I feel are too risky, and that, obviously, is why I must try them. Risks.

So what about you? For you, my dear listeners, I wish for you persistence, a tough lizard-skin, kindness, an editor who stays in her box until the proper time, wine/chocolate/comfort when you fail, and cheers and tiaras when you succeed. Find your words, find your resolutions, keep writing, keep believing, and good luck.