I’ve got something better growing

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Walking through the neighborhood today I was delighted to see strong signs of Spring. There’s no turning back now: the flowers are going to bloom, leaves bud and unfurl. Before we know it, it’ll be all-get-out Spring!

crocuses

I have no crocuses growing in my yard. Along with snowdrops, they are the first flowers to bloom in this area. I was thinking I’d like to plant some so I can have color and life early in the season. Looking in my backyard to see what’s happening back there I saw something better.

I’m growing dragons!

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What’s showing  in your yard or neighborhood?

(You know I’m going to have to write about this in a story now, right?
Yeah, you knew that.)

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Poem,“From the Dictionary of Nonexistent Words, a Sampler”

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Happy New Year!

2017 has just begun and already I’ve seen a rejection (thank you Upper Rubber Boot “Women Up To No Good”) and a publication (thank you Kaleidotrope).

“From the Dictionary of Nonexistent Words, a Sampler” is up at Kaleidotrope!

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“Black Window Baby” by Cesar Valtierra

It gets better! Yes, it does. And this is the best part…I’m sharing this issue with two of my dear friends and writing family: Julie C. Day’s “One Thousand Paper Cranes” (Julie’s author website here), and Lisa Bergin’s “Scrapie’s Trap” (Lisa blogs with her writers’ group here). I’ve also had the honor of reading poetry with Gwynne Garfinkle before (Live & in person, at WisCon) and now I have the honor of our poetry appearing together–Gwynne’s “The Last Word” is in this same issue.

Life is good.

And with that, dear readers, I have some writing to do!

A Bit of Good News- Poetry!

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My poem, “From the Dictionary of Non-Existent Words, A Sampler”, is scheduled to appear in the Winter 2017 issue of Kaleidotrope!!! I will post the link when the poem and issue are live.

It has been a very difficult year. I probably don’t even need to write that, it seems to be true for far too many people, for the obvious societal and social reasons as well as personal ones. I might write a post about some of my own personal challenges later, but for now, let’s leave it at “a difficult year”. Therefore, this news from Fred Coppersmith at Kaleidotrope was a much needed positive, good-things-can-happen-too, don’t-give-up-! reminder for me to keep working, to not give up.

And there’s one other bit of good news that I can share in a couple days.

There is hope. What I work so hard for with my writing does not always get lost in oblivion, does not always fall short. And I will work to remember this, work to share it with you, and work to manifest it for the good of all. And if I forget, if anyone dear to you forgets, please remind them. Remind yourself. There is hope. We affect each other, in a thousand small but not insignificant ways. Let’s be there for each other.

WisCon!

I’ll be at WisCon again this year! My work schedule is hectic, but I am making time for a panel.

We’ve even got a hashtag so you can Tweet about it: #BabyWriters

The Baby Writer Panel
Type Program
Track(s) The Craft and Business of Writing
Description Ah, the joyful triumphs and crushing setbacks of having no idea WTF we’re doing. A panel of writers with 5 or fewer pro sales under our little baby belts discussing the vagaries of changing markets, and the twists and turns of learning the ropes.
Location Caucus
Schedule Fri, 9:00–10:15 pm
Panelists M: Becky Allen. Colleen Booker Halverson, Kathrin Kohler, Charles Payseur, Nicasio Reed

Daredevil, the Power of Story, & Comic Writing Workshop at Wiscon

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Because I’ve signed up for Mikki Kendall‘s Comics Writing Workshop at Wiscon (moment for squee-fest and happy-dance!! I believe this is the first year something like this has been offered) I came across this article, Writer Mikki Kendall Talks Dynamite’s Swords of Sorrow, which led me to Race and Romance in Daredevil Season 2 at Women Write about Comics. It got me to thinking about my own criticisms and disappointments with the show and in pop culture media in general.

While I have criticisms (both cultural and writing centered) of the story, I have enjoyed the Daredevil TV show: well produced, good styling, set and wardrobe; interesting cinematography; complex and intriguing story line. But the writing in the 2nd season felt more scattered (possibly because it was–we did follow three major characters: Daredevil/Murdoch, Elektra, and the Punisher). More noticeable this season, too, was Matt’s disregard for other people–he forces others to clean-up his messes despite their clear discomfort regarding his requests, thus placing those people in harmful and dangerous situations. I don’t know if this is intentional on the writers’ behalf, but Matt came off as a spoiled child thinking he’s acting like an adult. (The character that felt most like a hero was Foggy.) Matt’s callous disregard for the consequences of his own actions and for other’s feelings and needs is a point  makes about Murdoch’s treatment of two of his romantic interests, the two WoC–Claire and Elektra. Ignoring another person’s discomfort and safety is abusive behavior. This paragraph really hit home:

Karen is taken on dates and is formally courted by Matt. Claire and Elektra are the women he’s with only under the cover of darkness, where he’s rougher, less considerate, and embodies more masculine aggression. I can’t emphasize enough what kind of message this sends about what the writers and Matt think of women of color, and how harmful it is for WoC to see themselves as the girls who a white man will come to at night, but never take out during the light of day. We know that stories have a marked effect on self esteem, and the less a WoC sees herself portrayed positively in media, the less likely she is to feel like the society she’s in values her as a human being. 

What we see around us, we absorb into our psyche. We internalize everything. It’s how we learn and function as a species. So the stories we consume as well as the stories we tell ourselves shape our beliefs and what we feel is right and what we feel is possible. If I remember correctly, at a Wiscon panel, Daniel José Older said that happy endings are subversive. And in this excellent interview with Tor.com, Race, Publishing, and H.P. Lovecraft: A Conversation With Daniel José Older and Victor LaValle, I can actually quote him: “I believe in the revolutionary power of happy endings. Especially when you’re dealing with marginalized people… we need to see that there’s hope.”

Apparently even active female characters must be made more… appealing(?, because why else are the writers undermining her active role) by diminishing her agency and being her own competent character. Karen is filmed/styled as the damsel in distress. I’d like to know why her actions need to be glossed up/over with daintiness and a helpless sheen when she’s the one who killed ruthless Wesley, forged forward in her investigations despite real threats (that killed Ben Ulrich), and in general is not cowering or distressed, but active and getting things done. All this while still doing “feminine” things like taking care of the boys and not getting as beat up as the other romantic interests (who are WoC (who are either under-sexualized or over-sexualized…and how sexuality is related to femininity!)), or killed like Ben. As Clara Mae puts it so well, “I’m not at all arguing that violence should befall Karen, but the treatment of Karen stands in stark contrast with the treatment of Elektra and Claire. If Karen is the princess, protected from the brunt of Hell’s Kitchen by the men around her, then Elektra and Claire are the warriors on the front line.” The history of cultural depictions of women of color as not needing/worthy of protection is long. Related is the sexualization of women–either hyper or under sexualized depending on ethnicity, age (lets not forget age!), and whatever it is men were wanting to justify or fantasize about.

I’d like to see all the female characters given as much rounding and complexity, as much humanity and personality, as Karen is given–attractive (well, this is a difficult “idea” isn’t it? Attractive to whom and why? Usually to the male gaze) and worthy as well as active, inquisitive, resilient, and fallible and human, too. There’s some excellent articles out there on why the strong, black woman stereotype is damaging and not the positive praise it might at first glance seem to be (similarly, the “angry, black woman” and other such stereotypes: article by Sofia Samatar on the hyper visibility & invisibility of academics of color, this article by Stacey Patton at Dame Magazine, and “Amandla Stenberg And The Sad Reality Of The ‘Angry Black Girl’ Stereotype” at the Huffington Post).

“But in a society that finds little to praise in black women, other groups’ appreciation for perceived black female strength can feel like a reductive appreciation.”

In Tamara Winfrey Harris’s article linked to above, educator and social-justice advocate Deborah Latham-White is quoted: “I am unwilling to be the mule for the nation.” I cannot put it more eloquently or more succinctly than that.

To those who point out that the comic is different than the TV show–adaptations are their own entity and it is this entity/medium/iteration that is being critiqued. TV has a history and tropes and stereotypes all its own (related to the comics, of course, because it’s created by people in the same broader cultural context). Many consumers of the Daredevil TV show are unfamiliar with the comics, thus the story they are getting is the TV version, so if something different happened in the comic, that’s in the comic, not in the show.

(Clearly this is not meant to be an exhaustive post, nor is it a definitive post. These are discussions that have been on-going and better written than I’ve come up with. But it’s a discussion that is important and vital. Nothing new here, but hopefully a good reminder and stepping stone along the way.)

So, yeah, I’m very much looking forward to Mikki Kendall’s workshop and dipping my writing toes into the world of comics. I’ve got some ideas bouncing about my head I’d like to see out and about in our world. Here’s hoping they make their way to you all one way or another.

In other news, I received edits for “Backlash of the Rapunzel Incident” from Mad Scientist Review. Things are looking good, people! Very excited about this piece finding a good home.

Coming soon:
my Wiscon schedule,
writing updates,
maybe some photos of Spring!

Sale!

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MSJcoverAutumn2014My short story “Backlash of the Rapunzel Incident” will be published in August 2016 in the Mad Scientist Journal! Well, I can’t really take the credit since it is Frau Doktor J. G. Holzinger’s, Assistant Professor of Social Behavior and Antiquities, proposal for funding which I merely stumbled upon and forwarded to the Journal. I’m really looking forward to sharing her quirky, fun, alt-alt-historical political thriller of a tale with you later this year, which is to say this is a completely serious and academically fascinating project. I hope she gets her funding.

You’ve let your subscription falter or haven’t heard of this fine Journal? From their “About” page:

Though initially established in 1818, time travel has allowed The Mad Scientist Journal MSJ-spring-2015 coverto become the preeminent scientific journal for atypical scientific theories and journeys throughout all of space and time.

Or maybe that’s not actually true. Perhaps it is more accurate to describe this as a mad-scientist themed e-zine. If you are interested in writing for us, please check out our submissions page.

The Mad Scientist Journal is edited by Jeremy Zimmerman and Dawn Vogel.

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A new story or article is published every Monday. Every Monday.

MadScientist Summer 2015_EBook_cover

Will let you all know when publication is imminent!

In the mean time, happy cold and snow (for us Northern Hemispherers).

Make First Contact, Again

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It’s out! The Book Smugglers have released the “First Contact” anthology. Behold:First Contact cover

Tales of First Contact: Five Short Stories of First Encounters

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“An intergalactic negotiation commences between a husband and wife, and actual aliens from outer space. A romantic encounter kindles between the last human alive and a fallen star. A young woman discovers her ability to choose her fate for the first time. An experimental application questions what it means to be alive and to be self-aware. An overlooked and unheard antiheroine comes of age, and realizes her self-potential.

First Contact: Five Tales of First Encounters collects five short stories that examine the concept of “first contact” from diverse, feminist, and original perspectives.

The Merger by Sunil Patel
Luminous by A.E. Ash
The Vishakanya’s Choice by Roshani Chokshi
Application for the Delegation of First Contact: Questionnaire, Part B by Kathrin Kohler
The Bridegroom by Amelia Mangan

All stories originally published and edited by “The Book Smugglers.”

Purchase from:
The Book Smugglers! You will get the following files: MOBI (28MB), EPUB (13MB)
Smashwords
Kindle UK

Kindle US

First Contact purchase options