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the good and the bad

The good: I have my Readercon schedule, and my programming items are super-exciting!

Friday July 12
2:00 PM
The Chair Became the Suit: Expressions of Disability in Speculative Fiction.
Gwendolyn Clare, Lisa Janice (LJ) Cohen (leader), Shira Lipkin.
Disabled characters have gradually become more common in SF/F, including entities as different as Batgirl/Oracle, Nahadoth, Toothless, and Hodor. In genres that offer the possibility of writing out or eliding disability using technology or magic, what do we see when authors choose to feature it prominently instead? How do authors and characters handle questions of access—to physical spaces, to assistive devices, to therapeutic treatment, or to participation in the community?

Sunday July 14
2:00 PM
Teen Violence, Teen Sex.
Steve Berman, Gwendolyn Clare, Jack M. Haringa (leader), Donald G. Keller, Phoebe North, Shveta Thakrar.
As seen in bestsellers like The Hunger Games and The Daughter of Smoke and Bone, today's literary teen heroes, and especially its heroines, are more likely to commit violence than to have sex. Coming of age and coming into your own is often marked in YA spec fic by survival and destruction rather than sexual awakening. How is the exploration of violence in books related to consensual sexual exploration, and cultural anxieties and mores around it, in real teens' lives?

9:00 AM
Enclaves and Conclaves: Subsocietal Safe Spaces.
Gwendolyn Clare, Shira Daemon, Resa Nelson (leader), John Shirley, Sabrina Vourvoulias.
People often form societies of commonality to act as safe spaces: LGBT community centers, religious social groups, Girl Scouts, D&D campaigns, speculative literature conventions. We rarely see this sort of sub-societal safe space in speculative fiction, finding instead more tangible safe spaces of domed cities, post-apocalyptic enclaves, or rails over a dangerous earth; and often, in fiction, the perimeter is breached. What does this say about our perceptions of safety and danger, our establishment and perpetuation of in-groups and out-groups, and our ambivalence toward purported utopias?

The bad: I do not yet have my schedule for Contemporal, which is this weekend. It'd be nice to know what's going on with that.


books! also, a story

I forgot to announce here that my story "Threads of Pearl, Writhing" is now available over at Buzzy Mag. Woot!

Also, I've been reading books but failing to blog about them. So here's the adult SFF I've read so far this year:

The Drowning Girl by Caitlin R. Kiernan
Both a magic-realist exploration of a schizophrenic's worldview, and a fascinating meta-analysis on the topic of artistic communication. Despite the lyrical first-person prose, this is an intense read--not for the mentally exhausted reader. (But then, few truly brilliant pieces of literature are.) Highly recommended, but come prepared with you college-lit-class brain.

Range of Ghosts by Elizabeth Bear
Secondary-world fantasy based on Central Asia! I love all the cultural nuances, especially the details the characters notice about each other. And while Bear's always been an attentive prose stylist, this book proves she continues to mature in that department--really gorgeous writing. Now I have to resist the urge to buy book two until I'm done with my Nebula reading.

Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal
The sequel to Shades of Milk and Honey, this book departs somewhat from the Jane-Austen-homage style of its predecessor. While Kowal's prose stays impeccably true to Regency English, her protagonist must now face gender issues, marital conflict, cross-cultural differences, and the political ramifications of magic. Very enjoyable and thematically substantive.

February progress report -- not bad

I pounded out a decent number of words last month, including a new short story and about 7.5k on the novel WIP. On the one hand, I'd really like to stay focused on the novel so it can actually be finished sometime this spring. But on the other, I think the new short story's pretty good, and I'm not sorry I got it out of my head when it was still a fresh and exciting idea. Maybe someone will buy it, and I can get a nice little ego boost to help me through the demoralizing process of writing yet another novel nobody's ever going to want.

I keep telling myself the old adage about how there's only three ways to stop being a n00b novelist: you quit, you get published, or you die. I'm determined not to give in to the allure of option #1, and I just hope I'm not going to end up with option #3.

Anyway, stats!

new words: 11,300
fail days: 10 of 28
words/day: 628

I tried to let it go...

I thought I could let it go, but nope, I'm still pissed.

The winter issue of the SFWA Bulletin has been taking a lot of flak for it's embarrassing softcore fantasy porn cover. But the part that's been bothering me even more is on the inside, from an article on female editors:

"She was competent, unpretentious, and beauty pageant gorgeous" -- [well-known male author]

I'm omitting names here because I have no bone to pick with this author in particular. It's just symptomatic of a general social trend that drives me crazy, and I was upset to see the trend so flagrantly displayed in the Bulletin -- and as a pull quote, nonetheless.

My question: what exactly does her bombshellness have to do with her being a notable editor? I realize it's an article about women, but I feel like the authors are rather missing the point if their thought process goes like this: article about women, women are for sex, must mention sexy editors. I'm guessing -- or perhaps naively hoping? -- that the original purpose of the "Literary Ladies" column was to counteract unconscious social bias against women by highlighting the accomplishments of notable ladies in the industry. Ladies who have been historically overlooked because of their gender. Ladies who now get to enjoy being objectified in print for all of SFWA to see. Yay? Progress?

How many times have you seen someone accepting an Oscar thank their "beautiful wife"? It's so common it's cliché, but really, if you have to reduce your spouse to one adjective, is that the best choice? Even if you are in a sexual relationship with someone, how hot they are is not necessarily their most important characteristic. And for the love of god, if you're in a business relationship with someone, there is NO NEED to mention their physical appearance when extolling their virtues.

To provide a gender-reversed example from SFF fandom, some folks around the intarwebs have noted that China Mieville is a good-looking dude. It's not necessary, however, to add "...and he's teh hott" whenever you want to say something positive about his books. The hotness, when remarked upon, is incidental. The vast majority of the time, we discuss the work done by men without ever referencing what they look like. Why? Because it is enough that they do good work.

Good work is never enough to make a woman good. To be the complete package, she must also be pleasing for her co-workers to look at. Because we are still objects.

I'm sorry, dudes of the world, but pleasing your aesthetic sense with my hotness is not on my top-ten list of life goals. I am not a fucking piece of décor in your workplace. And I am so sick of the automatic, unexamined need to add commentary about a woman's attractiveness when it should be sufficient to say she's "competent" and "unpretentious."


The first month of 2013 has gone by, and I've got 9000 words to show for it. Not fantastic, but it's better than I did any month of fall semester, so I'm calling it a win. Especially since I've got a lecture course and TWO labs on my plate this time around, instead of only one lab period. Now if only I could get some actual science done sometime, I'd be the perfect working machine.

Of course, of those 9k words, only 4k were on the novel WIP, and the rest were procrastinating by writing anything else except what I'm supposed to be working on. Being mired in the Horrible Middles does wonders for my desire to write short fiction. It doesn't, however, get the damn novel done. Sigh.

wrapping up and getting ready

Oh, hai -- LJ still exists. Who knew? It's been... all of fall semester since I posted. I guess it really was a stressful semester. Anyhow, I thought I'd do a little summarizing and goal-making.

I managed to write 97,600 words in 2012, which is up quite a bit from ~72K in 2011 and very close to my goal of exceeding 100K/year. But since I didn't quite make it -- and there is that whole dissertation thing that needs to happen this year -- I'm sticking with the same word-count goal going forward. I sold four short stories but only had two appear in print during 2012, which I guess is what I get for focusing on novel-length projects. Fingers crossed for more publications this year.

Reading-wise, I think this was my best year yet, with 31 books I can remember (and probably one or two I've forgotten about). So for 2013, I'll try to average three books per month.

2012 reading list behind the cutCollapse )

a week of pleasant surprises

My short story "A Thousand Stones for Hesek" has sold to Space and Time! I'm quite fond of this one, even if it's a bit odd, so I'm very happy to see it find a respectable home.

The audio version of "Ashes on the Water" is now live over at Escape Pod!

Not-so-pleasant surprises today included spending a half-hour stuck in traffic on Wade Ave thanks to an accident and slicing my finger open with a kitchen knife, but you know. Win some lose some.


holy crap it's September

If time could please slow down, that would be awesome. I have way too much to get done this semester -- I'm pretty sure there's literally not enough hours, even if I stopped sleeping.

I seem to have officially fallen off the wagon with regard to keeping track of my daily wordcounts. I did, at least, manage a little over 12k new words for the month of August, which keeps me on track for my yearly goal despite the epic fail that was July. I did not finish the short story I really wanted to get out the door by the end of August, though, so August wasn't exactly fail-free.

And now it's time to get off the internet, practice martial arts, write 500 words, and (eventually) sleep.

five things make a post, July edition

1. My SF short story "The Dying Season" sold to Daily Science Fiction. Yay!

2. My horror-ish SF short story "Threads of Pearl, Writhing" sold to Buzzy Mag. More yay!

3. I went to Readercon, which was yet again a positive experience (for me, at least). I did have one fellow panelist whose white privilege was showing, and one moderator who seemed to think it was appropriate to treat me like an undergrad in one of his classes, but most everyone else was awesome. Folks were super-appreciative of my science talk, which is so refreshing when you're accustomed to often-apathetic undergrads.

4. If you aren't aware of the Readercon sexual harassment fracas by now, you must live under a rock. I have my fingers crossed that the concom will overrule the Board's decision, and everyone can go back to feeling like Readercon is a safe professional environment instead of a con run by harassment apologists.

5. Writing-wise, July was a fail-month in terms of actual words-on-pages, but I did accomplish all the mental noodling around needed for a new short story. So I'm back composing sentences now, and I think this one might even turn out well.

soup, before I forget

I haven't posted any recipes in a while, but I better get this one down before I forget it. So without further ado, Cucumber Cantaloupe Gazpacho:

- half a cantaloupe, cubed
- 3 large cucumbers, skinned and de-seeded
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 10 spearmint leaves, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- enough milk to jump-start a blender
- dash of salt to taste
- dash of hot sauce to taste

Here's the real complicated part: put everything in blender and blend it. Best to prepare a few hours ahead of time and refrigerate to give the flavors a chance to mature. The color comes out a little funky, so I might try it with honeydew instead if I were planning to serve it to guests of the less-brave variety.