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Day in the Life of an Idiot

The Journal of Lyda Morehouse


March 2nd, 2015

Shawn, MarsCON schedule, and more @ 10:36 am


Thanks to an unnamed pharmacist at Walgreen's, there is, shall we say, 'movement' in Shawn's recovery.

Last night, we were in desperate straights and Shawn said, "This isn't working; there's got to be some other medicine. Something gentle, but actually effective!" Her father was a small town pharmacist on the Iron Range, back in the corner drugstore days, when you could lean in over the counter and whisper symptoms to a sympathetic ear and get straight-forward advice. So, she sent me to Walgreen's to "talk to a pharmacist."

I really thought that in order to accomplish what she wanted, I'd need a time machine.

But, I must have hit the sweet spot in terms of timing, or, if I were a believer in such things, Pat Rounds looked down upon his daughter's plight and sent me his earthly avatar. It was quiet enough at the store that I didn't even have to wait long for the pharmacist's attention. He actually walked me over to the aisle and pointed out all the important things, taking the time to explain which did what. OH, he said, thoughtfully, you see, what you've been using only really did "x," what you need is "x *and* y." And, he said, if that won't work and she can stand some pressure on her stomach, take a bottle of "z."

We've not even had to resort to "z."

Shawn is still in some wretched pain, but I think, honestly, she'd been losing hope. Faith in recovery is now restored. I suspect that's going to be the real miracle worker.

Let's hope she's going to be well enough to be on her own this weekend, because I'd almost forgotten that it's MarsCON 2015. I hunted and pecked through the on-line programming list and I think I found everything I'm scheduled to be on:

How Come Nobody’s Heard Of Me, Dammit!!
Room 419 (Krushenko’s) -- Friday 04:00 pm
Let’s figure out all the things we did wrong!
With: Lyda Morehouse, Naomi Kritzer, mod.; Rachel Gold, Michael Merriam


Fiction Reading: Lyda Morehouse
III Eagle’s Nest (Re(a)d Mars) —Friday 08:00 pm
Come hear our Author Guest of Honor read her work.
With: Lyda Morehouse

FanFiction - Who, What, and Huh?
IV Hawk’s Ridge (Anime/YA) — Friday 09:00 pm
From the basics for the beginners to your favorite websites to share your own stories.
With: Lyda Morehouse, Rakhi Rajpal mod, Bailey Humphries-Graff, Susan Woehrle

Marvel Phase 2, on to Phase 3
Room 419 (Krushenko’s) — Saturday 12:00 pm
Catch up on all of Marvel films from phase 2: Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and X-man Days of Future Past. Marvel One-Shots: Agent Carter, All Hail the King, on TV with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter. (There will be spoilers for all listed above.) The end of phase 2 with Avengers: Age of Ultron and the start of phase 3: Ant-Man, Captain America 3, Doctor Strange, and the rest of phase 3.

With: Lyda Morehouse, Tony Artym, mod.; Aaron Grono, Bill Rod, Ruth Tjornhom

The Rise of Women Superheroes
Room 419 (Krushenko’s) — Saturday 01:00 pm
Let’s talk about some awesome female superheroes who have become breakout sensations in recent years! Why do we love them so much, and how can we get more?
With: Lyda Morehouse, Christopher Jones, mod.; Cynthia Booth, Catherine Lundoff, Chandra Reyer

What is Anime?
IV Hawk’s Ridge (Anime/YA) — Saturday 02:00 pm
What really is Anime? What’s the real difference between Anime and cartoons, and why do we classify them like that? Hear all the facts and argue it out yourself!
With: Lyda Morehouse, Bailey Humphries-Graff, Hojo Moriarty

Lyda Morehouse Interview
Room 419 (Krushenko’s) — Saturday 04:00 pm
Learn about the mind and works of our Author Guest of Honor.
With: Lyda Morehouse, Naomi Kritzer, Interviewer

Mass Autographing
Room 419 (Krushenko’s) — Saturday 05:00 pm
The Author Guest of Honor and other interested authors sign their work.
With: Lyda Morehouse, Sammi Kat, Rachel Gold, Michael Merriam, Kathryn Sullivan, et al.

The Wyrdsmiths: Twenty Years
III Eagle’s Nest (Re(a)d Mars) — Saturday 08:00 pm
GoH Lyda Morehouse is in a writers’ group that was founded in 1994. How does a critique group sustain itself for two decades?
With: Lyda Morehouse, Naomi Kritzer, mod.; Eleanor Arnason

Hero Support: Sidekicks and Minions
III Eagle’s Nest (Re(a)d Mars) — Saturday 09:00 pm
How does your hero go about getting a really good sidekick or a really good minion? Who are some of your favorites in literature and other kinds of storytelling? Who is the hero of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings?
With: Lyda Morehouse, Rick Gellman, mod.; P M F Johnson, Ozgur K. Sahin, Tyler Tork

Otaku Dilemma: Wait for Season Two or Read the Manga?
III Eagle’s Nest (Re(a)d Mars) — Sunday 11:00 am
Your friends just turned you on to a hot new anime (think: “Attack on Titan” or “Yowapeda”) and you burned through the first season in one sitting. Now you’re wondering that age old question, should you jump in and read the manga or sit back and wait for season two to air? What are the pros and cons to reading “ahead”? Is there a reason that waiting is better, is there a reason NOT to wait?
With: Lyda Morehouse, mod

No Country for Old Heroes / Happily Ever After
Room 419 (Krushenko’s) — Sunday 12:00 pm
Topic one, No country for old heroes…. Life after heroism. How do former heroes—real or imaginary—continue to have meaningful lives? Topic two, Happily Ever After. Consider act two of Sondheim’s Into the Woods. Many if not most stories end at the moment of maximum joy for their characters. But life is more complicated. How do two people—real or imaginary—go about staying reasonably happy together for a long time? What are some good examples of this in fantasy literature?
With: Lyda Morehouse, Rick Gellman, mod.; Rachel Gold, Ozgur K. Sahin

Convoluted Quests: The Modern Writing Career
III Eagle’s Nest (Re(a)d Mars) — Sunday 03:00 pm
Book contracts, self-publishing, short fiction, editing… writing careers these days are often made up of a patchwork of options. Join GoH Lyda Morehouse and other professional writers to talk about how they’ve dealt with current publishing realities.
With: Lyda Morehouse, Naomi Kritzer, mod.; Roy C. Booth, Michael Merriam, Kathryn Sullivan

I will, of course, also be at Opening Ceremonies and Closing Ceremonies as to be expected. I may be AWOL from the con for a brief period on Saturday morning in order to take my son to his swimming class, but otherwise he and I will be around the whole weekend. Maybe, with luck, Shawn, too.

The last thing I wanted to report is that I finished reading THE GIRL IN THE ROAD and am now on to what appears to be a contemporary fantasy novel called MEMORY GARDEN.

THE GIRL IN THE ROAD is a difficult book to describe or categorize. I was talking to a friend about it and, while there were a ton of things I really enjoyed in the book (future India, future Africa, the strange journey across the wave power generator), the main character(s) were problematic in that they were not only typically unreliable, they were also, at times, hallucinatory. I can't say that necessarily got in the way of my enjoyment of a book, but I'm usually a careful enough reader that I can get to the end and have a fair idea of what happened. I'm not nearly as sure as I normally am having finished THE GIRL IN THE ROAD. Again, I'm not entirely sure that detracted from my enjoyment of the book, honestly. It was well written, engaging, science fictional and many things like that that I normally enjoy but... I don't know that I could recommend it with out the caveat of, "Okay, but this one is seriously TRIPPY."

Between THE GIRL IN THE ROAD and ELYSIUM, OR, THE WORLD THAT CAME AFTER, I have to wonder if 'trippy' is the new black. From the looks of things (so far) MEMORY GARDEN is more traditional in its narrative tropes, but we'll see. THE BOOK OF THE UNNAMED MIDWIFE had some oddities in its storytelling practices, but I wouldn't have labelled it "trippy," per se. I will say, in light of the conversations I've been having about women's writings, all of the four books I'm mentioning here are very feminine in their approach to science fiction.

I think a lot about what my friend Richard had to say when trying Margaret Atwood's HANDMAID'S TALE for the first time. The books women write are often (though obviously not always), quite intentionally, infused with the feminine. It probably does seem somewhat alien and unsettling to someone who isn't used to ever thinking about pregnancy, periods, and sex (and its corollary: death). These things all showed up in the books I've been reading--sometimes just casually, but sometimes as the point. THE BOOK OF THE UNNAMED MIDWIFE is very much a female apocalypse, both literally and figuratively. ELYSIUM less so, because the gender of our pov character constantly shifts.

So, it's been an interesting ride so far. The library tells me that ANCILLARY SWORD is ready for me to pick up (speaking of oddities in gendering. I read a large part of ANCILLARY JUSTICE before I had to return it and the ship AIs, who are the pov characters, always identify any human they encounter as 'she' regardless. They will sometimes tell you 'she was male.' But it really f*cks with a person's perception of gender identity, gender stereotypes and other such things when everything is always female. Makes you think. Particularly when women are always told, "oh, 'he' includes you." I'm thinking, by this way this feels, that doesn't work the way we think it does.)

I'm looking forward to reading that one, too.

All this reading has also inspired me. I'm about 3,000 words into a short story that, I'm thinking, is ultimately about redemption. I saw an anthology call for "angel and demons" and so I started considering what I might write since, as you know Bob, this is directly in my areas of interest. So, fingers crossed.

I don't think I can really pull off 'trippy' though, so....
 

March 1st, 2015

Shawn Update and More Reading @ 07:52 am


Shawn had... a rough night. The rest of her organs, particularly the intestines, are not being cooperative with the recovery plan. There has been super-uncomfortable gas and all sorts of woes regarding that. We were up and down a bunch. On top of that, she's beginning to think that the really good, strong pain medicine might actually be making her nauseous. So today we're trying to be more active, use fewer drugs, sit up more, and keeping fingers crossed because the last thing we want to do is have to go back to the hospital.

I have never prayed more for someone to fart in my life.

If you're worried I'm not taking care of myself in all this, don't. When Mason first came home from the hospital, someone told me "sleep when the baby sleeps." Like you do when you have no idea, I totally thought that that was ridiculous advice. Within days, it proved itself invaluable. I've reverted to this methodology. So if Shawn is sleeping--or even if I've gotten her to the bathroom and she's spending quality time there, I take a micro nap.

We've got a friend coming to take Mason away for fun this afternoon. He'd never ever admit it, but he's been pretty terrified. Hospitals are scary places and seeing a parent in a bad way is never easy (no matter how old you are.) So, I'm super glad we have a friend willing to take him off for several rounds of cut-throat Munchkin. That should do Mason a world of good. I don't mind having him here; he's totally not under foot, but I think he needs a break too.

Meanwhile, even though I had a hardcopy of GOBLIN EMPEROR, I gave up on it. I read at least 50 pages, which I think is a reasonable attempt. There's nothing "wrong" with it, I'm just not in the mood for high fantasy with elves and goblins at the moment. Since none of the other Nebula nominees have come from the library system yet, I hunted around the internet and found another good list to try. The Locus Award is coming up (it's being voted on right now) and so I decided to see what might be interesting on the many books they have on their lists. I decided that there were far too many for me to tackle in the science fiction category, so I'm going to read the debut author list.

The Race, Nina Allan (NewCon)
Elysium, Jennifer Marie Brissett (Aqueduct) (Already Read)
The Girl in the Road, Monica Byrne (Crown; Blackfriars)
A Darkling Sea, James L. Cambias (Tor)
The Clockwork Dagger, Beth Cato (Harper Voyager)
Unwrapped Sky, Rjurik Davidson (Tor; Tor UK)
Otherbound, Corinne Duyvis (Amulet)
The Angel of Losses, Stephanie Feldman (Ecco)
The Memory Garden, Mary Rickert (Sourcebooks Landmark)
The Emperor’s Blades, Brian Staveley (Tor; Tor UK)
The Stone Boatmen, Sarah Tolmie (Aqueduct)

The St. Paul Public Library's e-book collection had The Girl in the Road so I started that. It's pretty interesting so far. Our heroine is a manic/depressive and unreliable narrator who is convinced she's being stalked by assassins (and may be to some extent, it's not clear yet--I'm only 20% into it) in a future India. The future India has been very cool, and the heroine is troubled, but fascinating. I decided she was sympathetic after she was nearly giddy with excitement during a trip to a museum (been there, done that). Things have taken an interesting turn, so I'm anxious to get back to the book soon to see how everything turns out.

But, as you can see, 9 out of 11 (approximately 80%) of these books would qualify for Tempest's challenge. That's not why I chose this list, however. I'm really trying to be better read in general and picking new authors with new speculative books out seems like a lovely way to do it.
 

February 27th, 2015

Shawn is Okay, but Her Gallbladder Freaked the Surgeon @ 01:16 pm


We got to the hospital on time and all that and everything went according to plan.... until Shawn's surgery kept going on and on. Mason and I struggled not to be worried. Finally, the monitor switched from "Procedure" to "Closing" and I could finally breathe. When the doctor came he said, "She's fine," but then had us go into a private room which had me nearly hyperventilating with worry. Turns out, half way through the procedure they had to switch from robot-assisted to laparoscopic.

The surgeon was clearly HORRIFIED by the state of Shawn's gallbladder. He could not believe, I think, that she could even walk around give the state of it. He said, "There were several large stones, but the whole organ was... filled with a gritty sludge." He kept saying, "I guess people experience pain differently." I said, yes, Shawn is an exception because of her migraines. She really doesn't know what pain-free is like, so probably this felt minor in comparison. He kept shaking his head. "She's the definition of stoic."

Yep.

For myself, I deal with panic by reading so I read the entirety of ELYSIUM, OR, THE WORLD AFTER by Jennifer Marie Brissett. Turns out, if I *were* doing Tempest's challenge this book would have counted in more than one criteria. The bio at the back of the book tells me that Jennifer Marie Brissett identifies as "Jamaican-British American" (born in London, now living here). The book itself was... very complex. The writing was smooth and beautiful, but you had to pay attention and think through the whole thing. I can very much understand why it might be that Aqueduct Press published it, as opposed to a traditional New York publisher. I explained it to a friend as the kind of book where you spend a lot of time thinking WTF, but you keep turning pages. It's 100% science fiction. It might not qualify to some as "hard science fiction" but there are (eventually) space ships and aliens and artificial intelligences. So, that's skiffy enough for me, thank you very much.

Now, I'm going to finish THE BOOK OF THE UNNAMED MIDWIFE by Meg Elison. I set it aside because I had to use Inter-Library Loan to get a hold of Brissett's book and so I knew I couldn't renew it, if I didn't read it fast enough. Elison's book will disappear soon too, but I got that one from a new Kindle loan feature which gives me much more time.

Also in my possession is the first of the Nebula Award nominees that I'll be reading a book called THE GOBLIN EMPEROR by Katherine Addison (who is actually Sarah Monette). All of the books up for the Nebula this year are available through Ramsey County Library, so I signed myself up on the waiting lists for the rest of those. I'm only going to try to read all the books up this year, so if you're curious what's going to be on my TBR list it will be:


Trial by Fire, Charles E. Gannon (Baen)

Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie (Orbit US; Orbit UK)

The Three-Body Problem, Cixin Liu ( ), translated by Ken Liu (Tor)

Coming Home, Jack McDevitt (Ace)

Annihilation, Jeff VanderMeer (FSG Originals; Fourth Estate; HarperCollins Canada)

So, you can see, if you were at all concerned, I will be reading plenty of (presumed) straight, white, (presumed) cis, men.
 

February 26th, 2015

Luckily My Career is Over or I Might Rage Quit @ 07:35 am


Wow, people, just wow.

So my friend and fellow science fiction writer, Eleanor Arnason, decided to re-post Tempest's challenge on her Facebook as a test, just to see what kind of response she'd get.

Third or fourth comment? So offensive I'm not even sure I can re-print it here (I'll paraphrase it under the cut). It may or may not be triggering, but I thought I should warn because I certainly read it as violent. Regardless he uses NSFW words. Trigger warning...Collapse ) Then the discussion honestly turned into a recommended list of straight, white, male, cis writers.

Similarly, yesterday I came across someone in my feed who I won't name because I don't believe in the "call out" culture, but who got very four-letter word-y about this challenge because he claimed "this sort of thing takes food off my plate."

Okay.

*takes deep breaths*

Seriously, folks, take a chill pill. Do you actually know a single person who has committed to doing this (besides, presumably, Tempest herself)? Secondly, even if twenty or a hundred people agreed to do it for a whole year, do you really think this is going to so negatively impact your sales that YOU WILL STARVE?

Seriously? Starve? HYPERBOLE MUCH?

Don't [bleeping] lie. Most published science fiction writers I know have a day job--because it's already so impossible to make a living writing. Everybody knows that. If you're one of the lucky ones who can actually afford to stay home and be a full-time writer, I am SO NOT CRYING ANY TEARS FOR YOU. Because if you're doing that well? 10 less people reading your book in the year is not going to impact your career that much.

Thus, I honestly don't understand being threatened by this. Most of us have a limited book budget. Many of us have any number of reasons why we choose to buy the books we do (leading one in our house? Nothing to do with the gender of the author. The biggest factor is: Is it on deep discount from Amazon.com??) Even though I've given myself a reading "task" this year, so far I've only BOUGHT one of the books on the list (because it randomly came up on one of those 99 cent deals on Amazon.com). All of the rest have come out of the library.

You [bleep]ers weren't getting my [bleeping] money, anyway.

I say this as someone whose career ended because of poor sales, okay? I'm not saying this out of spite. I know exactly how hard it is to make a living as a science fiction writer BECAUSE I'VE ALREADY FAILED SPECTACULARLY AT IT.

Yeah, the financial aspects of being a writer is enough to make anyone want to swear like a sailor. But this is a problem that affects ALL writers, regardless of age, race, creed, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or any other factor. I *do* tend to think that women, PoC, queer and other writers have a much harder time getting reviews and marketing budgets, but I have never seen actual figures proving this... so let's just leave that off the table for the moment. Let's just even leave off the table the fact that when a person screams about this, it's not Tempest that's making me not want to buy their books, it's they themselves. Let's also leave off the table that the most infuriating part of this is that I have to put up with sexualized abuse just because someone suggested that people consider reading outside of their comfort zone for a year.

There's a reason I don't normally get involved in these kinds of internet "discussions;" it's to protect my sanity.

And my faith in humanity.

I'm eternally grateful to *my* Facebook friends (and my friends here and elsewhere that I discussed this) that we managed, for the most part, to have reasoned discourse. We got passionate and fiery and strident, but it was all done with (apparently) a surprising amount of respect. Thank you. You all remind me that it's possible to be passionate, but remain civil.

I found out a few days ago that these call outs and fails have driven at least one promising writer from our ranks. I wouldn't be surprised if it breaks a few more. Many of those driven away by this hostility might be the women, queers, and PoC that we so desperately need in our ranks, too. But my friend was "just" a straight, white guy who got tired of being placed in the crossfire even as he was trying desperately to be an ally.

We've got to stop this.

There's something broken on the Internet. Something disgusting and horrible that we saw exploding into the light during things like #gamergate. It's something that's making people, like the one under the cut above, go from zero to sexualized abuse in sixty seconds. It's something that's threatening women's lives (so that it's no wonder there's a similarly ugly backlash towards less-marginalized people.)

But still.

C'mon. We're better than all this.

We're supposed to be imaginers of the future. Can't we imagine a place where there is room for everyone and that one person's success does not diminish another's?

Edited to add: Eleanor has deleted the comment, if you go looking for it, it's no longer there. "Can Haz" guy? Be thankful. Eleanor just spared you some backlash, I imagine, from those who would have hunted you down (who, while I felt free to respond to it here, publicly, do not condone. It's not cool to go after people, people. Full stop. This is not a one-way message.) Also, I posted this image:



to Tumblr and a woman felt the need to private e-mail me and share her disapproval. Did I really like that? She thought I was better than that. To which I was like... ..... .... NOPE. Not today, my friend, not today.

Sheesh.

Can we just not?
 

February 25th, 2015

(no subject) @ 11:07 am


I'm stuck at the clinic right now. Before you panic overly-much, it's not anything SUPER serious. Shawn's been having these horrible stomach pains and we've discovered that at least one of the problems is gallbladder. The docs say the gallbladder has to come out. Her surgery is scheduled for Friday.

I'm here at the moment, because Shawn is having her pre-surgery physical, like you do.

Shawn is not having an easy time of this. A lot of it, I think, is the severe amount of pain she's been in. She hasn't slept well in days and it oscillates from mild discomfort to doubled-over cramping pains. So everything that's going on around all this seems more MORE, if you know what I mean.

But we're coping. We've already had a ton of well wishes and offers of assistance from friends. I'm taking advantage of one offer, because it'd be nice for Mason to have a place to go this weekend while I work and a friend of mine has boys who play Munchkin. I can't imagine Mason would ever say no to Munchkin under any circumstances.

Meanwhile, both she and I are stocking up on books. It'll be a long wait for me in the waiting room on Friday, so I'm going to bring the Kindle which has THE BOOK OF THE UNNAMED MIDWIFE on it, as well as the book I finally got from Inter-Library Loan yesterday, Jennifer Marie Brissett's ELYSIUM. I actually set aside the UNNAMED MIDWIFE for the moment because I have that one for longer and started ELYSIUM yesterday. I can already tell that one is going to be a mind-bender.

In connection to conversation I've been having here and elsewhere, it's a very... shall we say, 'interesting' fact that two out of the six books up for the Philip K. Dick Award are from smaller presses.  I'd never heard of Sybaritic Press, who published BOOK OF THE UNNAMED MIDWIFE. I also could NOT get that book through any kind of library.  I ended up signing up for a Kindle deal in order to get my hands on it.  

Aqueduct Press published ELYSIUM and the Hennepin Library system had it, for which I wonder if I have fandom to thank.  I know there are a lot of us who are librarians and circulation staff, etc.  

At any rate, here are two women who are writing science fiction (not fantasy) and not being published by traditional big New York publishers up for one of the most prodigious science fiction awards.  To be fair, as a former judge of the PKD, I can tell you that we literally read EVERYTHING that met the criteria in that year.  I still have a ton of paperback books that are from very, very small presses thanks to that year as a judge. So, the PKD has always casts a wide net--though now I wonder if that then also contributes to the fact that its percentage of women nominees is significantly higher than, say, the Nebulas, which were just announced.

One of the things that eventually came out in the Facebook conversation is that many women who wrote science fiction when I was first publishing are now out of the writing business.  This is, it seems to me, one of those self-fulfilling prophecies.  People don't expect women to be writing SF, so they don't look for SF books by women, women's sales figures tank, women are pushed out of publishing SF.  A vicious, vicious circle and one of the many reasons, of course, we still need feminism.

 

February 24th, 2015

I Guess I Have More to Say.... @ 07:49 am


Okay, now I kind of get it.

Yesterday I reblogged/reposted Tempest's challenge on Facebook with a little comment by me, which was basically a condensed version of my blog here. My point being: is this hard? This shouldn't be hard.

I'm not sure I've ever gotten so much traffic on a FB feed in my life.

With the exception of one person who was a bit trollish (they used the dog whistle acronym SJW, for Social Justice Warrior, to describe Tempest in what was a clearly derogative way hoping, I suspect, to trigger a fight), it was a decent enough conversation. In fact, a dear friend of mine chimed in quite sincerely to beg for recommendations because he'd been under the impression that women wrote fantasy and men wrote hard science fiction. I happily flooded him with names of women who write SF and I linked to any of them who are my Facebook friends. This prompted Kristine Katherine Rusch (who writes, among many other things, the amazing Retrieval Artist series, of which I've read several of and ADORE) to hop on and discuss the other issue that's been floating around right now, which is the disappearance of women's history in science fiction. I'd noticed when I went searching for a comprehensive list of women writing hard SF for Richard, that the Wikipedia pages were pretty sparse. She said that's a problem she's noticed, too, that if you go searching even a semi-trusted (but certainly usually starting point) like Wikipedia doesn't even have a decent list of past and active SF writing women.

That, my friends, is an actual WTF.

I was able to find a fairly comprehensive list in the Science Fiction Encyclopedia, under the entry: Women SF Writers.

But, that someone hasn't gone to the trouble to add our names to Wikipedia is... downright weird. Kristine Katherine Rusch would like fandom's help. If anyone has the time and know how, this is really an excellent project to consider undertaking. I mean, we can keep publishing anthologies where women and queers destroy science fiction, but, in some ways, that only perpetuates this idea that we don't have a history of women writing SF AND that our writing it is somehow a shocking and brand-new thing.

We've always known we had a PR problem. This is why a bunch of us got together at WisCON in 2000 and formed BroadUniverse. But it's kind of amazing to think that we failed so profoundly at getting the word out that no one has heard of some of us... like we've been disappeared by some secret government agents and erased from the history books.

Because....

The only time I lost it in the FB discussion was, in fact, today. Some person came on with a very breezy, almost snotty, "Look, I read a lot. I'm not going to limit myself. Just give me a top 5."

And it was like they had unleashed the Kraken.

Seriously, I couldn't help but go all-caps, because, really? You read a LOT? How is it that you've never read a book by a woman?? I pointed out that if this person seriously could not think of a science fiction book written by a woman maybe they should consider starting with the woman who INVENTED science fiction: Mary Shelley. There's this book she wrote called FRANKENSTEIN? You've maybe heard of it? No?

I mean, I suspect what this person really wanted was a sense of who are the top 5 women writing today and I honestly couldn't tell you who they are because I'm simply not well-read enough. There are so many choices. As I keep pointing out, of the six books up for the Philip K. Dick, 4 of them are by women. You could honestly start there. How hard is that? The list is pre-made for you and you'd get 2/3rd more women writers than apparently (somehow?) you've ever had before...

Ugh.

I was just talking about this to a friend and I think the other thing that's frustrating is that sometimes when people get wound up about this stuff they use such inflammatory language that they make a person feel guilty about enjoying the things they do enjoy. As if somehow, because you DO LOVE a whole bunch of straight white male writers, their work is suddenly diminished and not wonderful and awesome and life-changing. That so not true. Not only, as I said yesterday, are there a ton of men who are allies, but, even if they never write about a single social justice issue or whatever, it doesn't mean we can't enjoy stories for what they are. I'm never going to stop being a Bleach fan, and I can honestly say that some of Kubo-sensei's stuff is problematic to trans* folks. His story still rocks my world. I will keep supporting him and other male writers, while reading women and GLBT and non-binary and trans* and PoC writers. I think we can HAVE BOTH.

This is not either or. I say, let's demand: ALL.

Because otherwise we end up divided and with NOTHING.


 

February 23rd, 2015

Challenge Yourself to Just Look Around @ 07:11 am


K. Tempest Bradford would like to challenge you to "Stop Reading White, Straight, Cis, Male Authors for a Year."

Let me first and foremost say, I support this idea.

Secondly, it will not be difficult.

You could easily read a book a day and only read women writers. I actually did this spontaneously when I was in my youth, probably somewhere in the mid-1980s (and continued well into the early-1990s), when it was also still very easy to find women writing SF/F. In fact, we were just coming off the great boom of the New Wave and I simply spontaneously and naturally drifted in the direction of books with women's names on the cover, This was when I read nearly everything by Anne McCaffery and Katherine Kurtz. I supplemented with Mercedes Lackey and Anne Rice and Joan Vinge and Pat Cadigan and Pat Wrede and Emma Bull and Ursula K. LeGuin and Marge Piercy and Elizabeth A. Lynn -- many of whom were also writing ABOUT gender and sexual orientation/fluidity back when most the mainstream had no idea what genderqueer was.

But, even if you limited yourself to books written in the last few years, this would also not be difficult. The largest percent of fiction written and bought in the United States published by New York publishing houses is by women for women. It's this genre you may have heard of called: Romance --which also has an ENTIRE SUB-GENRE DEVOTED TO STORIES BY AND ABOUT PoC. Yet, even if you limited yourself to science fiction and fantasy, this would not be hard.

As I've said previously, the challenge I've issued myself is to read all the books nominated for awards this year. So far I'm only just finishing the list for the PKD. Out of six nominees, 4 were by women. Just to make that clear, a THIRD of the books nominated for the 2015 Philip K. Dick award are by women (and one of the women is also in translation.) The Nebula Awards nominees, which were just announced this past week, didn't do as well. Of the six nominated novels, only 2 were obviously by women, but one of them is in translation (and, honestly, given my lack of understanding of Asian names could also be by a woman). By Tempest's criteria, that's still HALF of the nominees you could read.

So far we have seven books you could read right there. If you read a book a week, you're already deep into your second month.

That's without even really trying.

Tempest's list is a fine start and, if you've not heard of any of those writers, you really ought to go ahead and put them on your list ASAP. But, she's certainly not even scratched the surface. 

I'll say again, I think this is a fine challenge. If you've never done anything like this in your life, you really should.  Once you've done it, though, consider allies also.  If I limited myself to these criteria my whole life, I would be fine (and would never have lacked for books), but I would have missed out on a story that blew my small town mind back in the 70s (and even more so when I discovered it was written in 1953).  And that would be Theodore Sturgeon's short story, "A World Well Lost."  Which is basically about bigoted assumptions people make and how wrong homophobia is.  It was the first time I'd read a story where the protagonist was a gay man and it expertly played with my assumptions that everyone was straight. This is the kind of story that, even though it was written by an old (dead now) white guy who I presume is straight, EVERYONE SHOULD READ. I taught this story in class and I can say it doesn't entirely stand the test of time.  The prose is very 1950s, which reads somewhat clunky to a modern ear, but the idea is still mind-blowing.

So, you know, yes, but there are diverse books EVERYWHERE these days.  You just have to look around.

Do we need more diversity?  Yes, always. But could you do this without breaking a sweat (even just within SF/F?)?  YES.

Hell, I've got about 15 books by a queer woman just sitting here on my desktop (oh, because THEY WERE WRITTEN BY ME)... some of them are even award winners.  ;-)

Edited to add: You know what would be a more interesting challenge to me?  Read only comic books, graphic novels and manga written by woman/PoC (well, with manga, you'd have to close the loophole of PoC or you could read any manga you wanted.)
 

February 20th, 2015

MY GOD MY DAY HOLY CRAP @ 06:10 pm


Yes, that's right, I'm having an all-caps kind of day. First, Shawn woke up with a persistent stomach ache. She's had this pain so long, she started to worry that it was an ulcer and decided stay home from work and to go in to see the doctor. I, meanwhile, woke up feeling compelled to start a short story for an anthology notice I saw. They were looking for Angel & Demon erotic romances. An opening line hit me and I was off and writing.

Shawn, meanwhile, got an appointment at our clinic for 10 am. We got in and there was a lot of lab work, so I sat and worked on the story. I worked and worked quite happily, because it felt good to be world-building and such again, particularly in an area I have a lot of pre-research done. (Angel? Devils? Yeah, I think I know some stuff.) Shawn got lots of tests. The nurse practitioner fhought maybe gallstones, so she sent Shawn over to United Hospital to take the ultrasound there. I packed up and drove her there, found her and the right waiting room and started i writing again. Writing, writing, quite happily, except my battery was running low, so I saved everything and closed up shop. Still feeling petty...you know, productive. I waited for Shawn and played some games on her Kindle. The news? She's RIDDLED with gallstones. That might not be the issue still, but probably there is gallstone removal in her future.

We got home--Shawn feeling upset because no one fixed her pain and she did not want surgery at some future time. She wanted (and whocan blame her, the pain has kept her up nights) an easier fix.

I tucked her into bed and went to open my document... and it was GONE.

Like no trace of it anywhere. Finally, I tracked down a file, but I could NOT figure out how to get to it. At this point, given the day we'd just had, I will admit to throwing an A-Number #1 tantrum the likes of which I don't think I've done since I was, maybe, 10? It was epic. There was cursing, there was crying, there was a whole lot of "I SAVED IT, NOT FAIR, NOT FAIR!'

Finally, after being forced to give up trying to find the file with my feeble non-Mac skills, I went to pick up Mason and we took the laptop to the Genius Bar in Roseville.

Now I'm in love with a man named Chris, Apple Genius.

It's a beautiful romance in which he shows me that MAC FREAKING HIDES CERTAIN FOLDERS and showed me how to magically get inside these hidden folders. The file was not only found, but the very last version I worked on so I lost no words whatsoever.

(I still hate Macs though. Don't tell my Mac.)

Also, you can now buy Rachel & my book on Amazon (this is the book version, hopefully the e-book will be significantly cheaper): http://www.amazon.com/Song-Secrets-School-Wayward-Demons/dp/0986192503/
 

February 18th, 2015

Brain Drain @ 12:23 pm


 Sorry I've been a bit absent.  I've actually been generally absent-minded the last few days.  I worked at Maplewood Library yesterday and ten minutes from home (but too late to turn around) I realized I left my coffeemaker on....  Luckily, I knew there was enough coffee left in the pot that I wasn't actually worried it would burn the house down, but I knew we'd be coming home to that LOVELY smell of burnt coffee.  At work, things were so rushed, post-President's Day holiday, that I forgot to take my break (and, as it happens, left a tamale in the fridge.)

Today was very similar in that it started with Things Forgotten.  We had to turn around for this one, though, because it involved missing shoes for Mason.  I might have made him stomp through school in his boots, but it's gym today and sitting out for lack of proper footwear can mean a lower grade.  So....

But I treated myself to coffee at my favorite coffee shop (2 cups, thank you very much) and the day is turning around (even though it also involved briefly losing my cell phone and then finding it in the back of the car where the cold had sapped the battery.)  

I'm also feeling dopey today because last night was Japanese class.  With Mason's early start time, staying out to class until 9:30 PM feels weirdly grueling.  Plus, our instructor is insisting on teaching us hiragana and katakana.  We got all the letters in an hour and a half (one class each, but last night, when he was teaching katakana, you could actually see most eyes glassing over... including, I have to admit, my own.)  Thing is, while I WANT, eventually, to learn to read and write, I'm not keen to do it RIGHT NOW.  I'd be fine waiting until I knew a few more words. But I think we're good with written languages now, and I can practice hiragana at my own pace while he teaches us more useful phrases.

The only other thing I have for y'all is a new WattPad installment of the School of Wayward Demons story.  We're up to chapter 8, Kitty Brings a Knife and Memories.  If you've read all this only on the web site before, it might be worth you checking out the WattPad version.  I've been uploading directly from the novel, so there are some significant changes, particularly to Kitty's backstory.

I managed to not get UnJust Cause written this week, but I blame brain drain.  Next week for sure. 
 

February 13th, 2015

Things Are Getting Exciting!! @ 08:51 am


 I have some VERY AMAZING cover art design to share with you guys for the book that Rachel Calish/Gold and I have written.  This is the story that we've been publishing in serial form over at http://entertheunseen (and re-issuing, as it were, on WattPad as well).  The cover art was designed by Rachel's friend Kristin Smith, and I really love it:



 
 
This is, at the moment, a GIANT TEASE because we're still in the production phase.  The book, however, will (baring acts of god[s]) be available for purchase at MarCON (March 6 -8).  Kristin did an amazing job with the interior as well and there will be illustrations through out from our artists Alexis Cooke and Mandie Brasington.  There will be an ebook version, as well, but I have no idea when that will be available.  Of course, as soon as it is, I'll link it here.  I'm assuming we'll sell the print version via the usual e-bookstores, too.  (This is where, once again, I'm SUPER-GRATEFUL not to have to be the only one in charge of dealing with all this, because the dealing with Amazon.com, etc. is never fun.)

In other news, Happy Friday the 13th.

My day started out pretty crappy, but I think it's turning around (fingers crossed).  But, it was just that we had Wyrdsmiths last night, which is always great--though it's being made more awesome by the fact that we've successfully shifted the group so that it's working better for everyone involved (at least in my opinion). But, Wyrdsmiths keeps me out late.  I was out until after 10 pm, which isn't late for most people, but I have to get up and moving at 5:30 am in order to get everyone in the house off to where they need to be.  Honestly?  Shawn gets up at 5:30 and I lay there complaining about it until closer to 6:00 am, but it's still rough when you didn't manage to get to sleep until nearly midnight because you foolishly had a cup of coffee and thus needed a bath and a bit of reading to settle down.  

Speaking of reading, I finally got my hands on a copy of THE BOOK OF THE UNNAMED MIDWIFE by Meg Elison.  As I've said many times before, I'm trying to read my way through the books that were nominated for the Philip K. Dick award this year. This one will be number four, since I've already read MAPLECROFT: THE BORDEN DISPATCHES by Cherie Priest, THE BULLET-CATCHER'S DAUGHTER by Rod Duncan, and MEMORY OF WATER by Emmi Itäarnta.  The current book THE BOOK OF THE UNNAMED MIDWIFE is also science fiction (which MEMORY OF WATER was) and, like that book, is also an after-the-fall story, though BOOK OF THE UNNAMED MIDWIFE follows much closer on the fall of civilization.  It's also told in several "frames"--there's a bit at the beginning which is further in the future, where we see a school of scribes who's job it is to copy this book... and then we get the story that they're presumably copying, but both in journal entries and in storytelling, so that part is a bit odd, and takes some getting used to. But, despite the clunkiness of the device, I'm enjoying the story... in so much as one can "enjoy" a story that is basically every woman's worst nightmare for the end of the world ever--most of the women died of a mysterious plague and so what is left are roving bands of men who are basically looking to capture, rape, and own any woman they can find. Our hero is a cross dresser (another repeated theme---as the hero of THE BULLET-CATCHER'S DAUGHTER did the same, though for very different reasons.)  

So I don't know if that's affecting my mood, but it might be.  Because it's pretty intense.  

It probably doesn't help matters that I'm also watching a somewhat disturbing anime called Zenkyou no Terror, the "heroes" of which are actually terrorists bent on blowing things up.  

:-)

So, stay safe and well everyone!


 

Day in the Life of an Idiot

The Journal of Lyda Morehouse