Links? Lynx?

I’ve an accumulation of things from…the beginning in April? I think I’ll do these in a couple of posts, to keep things organized.

First, links on writing:

Fundamentals of Writing the Other Basically, Writing Beyond the Default 101. This is good. Also, lots of Julie Dillon‘s stunning art. (On a side note, she recently won the 2014 Hugo for Best Professional Artist, and is utterly deserving.)

Should White People Write About People of Color Listen to Malinda Lo. JUST LISTEN:

When white writers come to me and ask if it’s OK for them to write about people of color, it seems as if they’re asking for my blessing. I can’t give them my blessing because I don’t speak for other people of color. I only speak for myself, and I have personal stakes in specific kinds of narratives.

It also feels as if they’re asking for a simple answer, and frankly, there is no simple answer. Writing outside your culture is a complicated endeavor that requires extensive research, being aware of your own biases and limitations, and a commitment to delving deeply into the story. However, writing any fiction requires this. There are no shortcuts to writing fiction truthfully and well.

Cultural appropriation (from Aliette de Bodard)

When a writer is perpetuating horrible clichés in the course of their writing, when they’re propagating transparently false ideas of what it means to live in a place and/or a time period… This is cultural appropriation, and it’s bad–and whether said writer meant it or not doesn’t change the fact that they’ve egregiously mangled someone’s culture through lack of care.

Five Common Problems I See in Your Stories Chuck Wendig has smart things to say about doom and dream-teats and eating things made out of paper. And maybe some stuff about writing, too. I don’t know. I read this months ago, so why don’t you go and find out.

now i’m looking in the mirror all the time wondering what she don’t see in me (from Elizabeth Bear) “Everybody deserves stories. ”

And some resources:

Writing with Color What the URL says. Lots of questions, accompanied by good answers.

Diversity Crosscheck Tumlr “This Tumblr is intended as a platform for writers to interact with the very marginalized people they want to write into their stories, in order to minimize stereotyping. Nothing will ever be a 100% perfect portrayal, but this will hopefully open conversations and take us a step in the right direction. Diversify your writing. Don’t be afraid.”


card-swiping for diversity

I’m going to talk about publishing–specifically, my publisher, Sparkler Monthly. But first, I’m going to talk about apologies.

The word sorry leaves my mouth a lot. And yet, never often enough. Sometimes, it’s fear that stops me. Or ego. Usually ego, especially because the fear is often there because my ego is a coward (clarification: I am). But I try to keep my ego in tight-check, so I’m usually able to get the apology out. Sorry.

I’ve also had apologies made to me, and in both instances (as the giver and receiver of remorse), apologies can be genuine or they can clog themselves with inaction. Because apologies are half-assed when all you do is say sorry. You can look at me all frowny and penitent, with contrition bleeding sweet as liquified lollipops from your eyesockets, but if action doesn’t accompany your words, sorry sounds like an insult. Same goes for me: if I ever apologize and neglect to follow up, I am (again) sorry, I have failed and you now have permission to stuff my socks full of meal worms and snap my drum sticks and poke holes in my rain pants. I will be better. Do better.

Here are a couple guides to apologizing: Getting Called Out: How to Apologize and Apologies: What, When, and How.

This framework of inaction = questionable sincerity, and action = sincerity that might actually mean something can be applied elsewhere, too. For my purposes, I’m using it to talk about writing and publishing—specifically, women and diversity in writing and publishing. Other people have discussed it (eg: Malinda Lo, Kameron Hurley, and nattosoup), with more eloquence and intelligence than I will, but this is an important conversation. And a conversation is only a conversation if there’s some conversing occurring.

A piece of the dialogue: you can talk all you want about diversity in publishing and narratives, but true support is action. I can say I support diverse authors all I want, but if I go out and spend all my (paltry) allotment for book purchases on Scott Lynch and George RR Martin, then I have failed. I mean, I fucking love Scott Lynch (GRRM I enjoy, but not to the same extent), but I love Aliette de Bodard and Ann Leckie just as much, so wouldn’t it make just a little sense for me to swipe my card just as often (if not more) for them?

I’m not saying don’t ever give a straight white cis male your money ever again, the end. I’m saying that if you believe in something, act on it. Give women your money, prove we have value, that we sell. Which, yeah, is objectifying as hel and a really terrible way to frame this, BUT. In many ways, this is how worth is established. With money. You want more diverse writers, stories, characters, settings? Buy it ALL. Everything you claim keeps you grinning and thrilling and screaming in biblioporno bliss? Let it feed upon the belly of your bank account. (This is, also and by the way, a reminder to myself.)

As I said earlier, I’m just pissing at the mouth, basically regurgitating what my betters have said, so here’s my personal spin on it:

I have a serialized novel running in Sparkler Monthly.   (It’s called Skyglass, and is about sex, cyber- elves, rock ‘n’ roll, and murderous firecats). Sparkler Monthly is a multimedia publisher of comics, prose and audio dramas written from the female gaze, with diverse, ensnaring casts: people of color, a wide breadth of sexualities, fluid genders. This is quirky and not normal, because what is normal, what is expected, is the male gaze, is lack of diversity, and to have someone out there giving us great stories that aren’t cemented into that default? It’s vital.

But Sparkler is only just entering their second year and if they want to see a third year (and beyond), they need the support of everyone who says they support this kind of thing. (That’s you, by the way.) To keep stable, they need 2000 subscribers. Right now they have 142. They’re still small, and relatively unknown, but they deserve to be known. Their stories deserve to be read, and listened to. They deserve, and need, your support.

I admit: I have a stake in this. Multiple stakes, actually:

    1. Sparkler Monthly gives me money, because I give them words. It’s a good arrangement, and worthwhile for us both, I like to think.
    2. They publish really addictive stories, really important stories because they feature strong, diverse, female characters (and male characters, as well as those who don’t strictly adhere to that binary). And let me be clear: when I say strong I don’t intend ‘strong’ to only mean brawny-but-still-beautiful, kick-ass women. When I say strong, I mean nuanced, and potent. And deep. Women who get to be full characters. Which leads me to my last stake (and look! I could almost raise a tent with all these stakes…)
    3. Me. The third stake is me, because I’m female, and I get to see myself in the stories they publish. I’m not wallpaper, or a bed-prop, or a convenient orifice. I am a necessary, narrative creature with lungs and teeth and heart and spine, and I want more. So much more.

I know I’m not the only who wants all this. I know I’m not the only one who wants to do something. So consider a membership to Sparkler Monthly. Read up on their membership drive, and all of its excellent tiers. If you’re lacking funds, try their sampler issue, which is free to download. Also, their submissions are currently open, so if you’re looking to get published (or if you’re a voice actor), go send them something. (Something good, preferably.)

There’s continuing the conversation–and then there’s engaging and leveling it up. Make art that matters, art that syncs with this necessary diversity, and keep talking. Do everything you can, keep on and keep on, and the storyworld will grow close and colossal.

A Statement of Trans-Inclusive Feminism and Womanism (reblog)

Read; spread awareness.

There has been a noticeable increase in transphobic feminist activity this summer: the forthcoming book by Sheila Jeffreys from Routledge; the hostile and threatening anonymous letter sent to Dallas Denny after she and Dr. Jamison Green wrote to Routledge regarding their concerns about that book; and the recent widely circulated statement entitled “Forbidden Discourse: The Silencing of Feminist Critique of ‘Gender,’” signed by a number of prominent, and we regret to say, misguided, feminists have been particularly noticeable. And all this is taking place in the climate of virulent mainstream transphobia that has emerged following the coverage of Chelsea Manning’s trial and subsequent statement regarding her gender identity, and the recent murders of young trans women of color, including Islan Nettles and Domonique Newburn, the latest targets in a long history of violence against trans women of color. Given these events, it is important that we speak out in support of feminism and womanism that support trans* people….Read more….

the self-destructing neckbeard

Grit vs. Grim.  Learning to cope with annihilation (a.k.a. book writing).  On realizing that ‘half-breed’ is never a good descriptor for a human being.  Baby animal gifs.  More on all this below:

That Crafty Feeling (Zadie Smith on making a book, and why novel writing is a terrible-wonderful thing.  Self-destruction in action–this is good.  I know.  I write to take myself apart and put me back together again.)

Coverage of Women on SF/F Blogs (2012) (A project about “about the visibility of women in science fiction and fantasy reviews” with a preface that discusses the difficulty of trying to have “a conversation about gender in SF/F fandom involving people outside your social group.” Bascially, “it’s like inviting six angry poltergeists into your home filled with handcrafted family heirlooms passed down for multiple generations: everything gets broken, including your capacity to discuss anything more mentally taxing than adorable gifs of baby animals for weeks.”)

I love a Good Tragedy as Much as the Next Guy (Elizabeth Bear on grittiness verses grimdark.  “…the best of the current wave of gritty fantasy…embraces a balance closer to reality:…the world is arbitrary and unfair, and that sometimes even well-meaning people do awful things: desperate, vicious things.”)

Revising “Weaving Dreams” (In which an author screws up and attempts to rectify the disaster.  First read about this short story over at Requires Hate.  It’s good to see writers who are open and sensitive to the world.  Also, a nice unfurling of the editing process.)


the man-factory

Mosh-pit disaster-preparedness, phallic stuff, a garden of books.  Also, why I love doing dishes.  And enough links to feast upon:

The SF Signal Podcast (Episode 174): Inteview with Seanan McGuire (So.  I listen to anything that involves Seanan talking.  Because she gives the best interviews.  Really.  And has quirky loves like I do (disease! zombie-preparedness!).  Also, check out the SF Squeecast, of which she’s a part of.  Just saw they posted an new episode, and thought something along the lines of–Hel yes!  Dishes!  because I like to keep my hands busy with mindless tasks while I listen to podcasts.  S0: SF Squeecast means the only time I scrub things with verve.)

Why I don’t Own a Firearm (Disseminating pointless writing advice.  This article explains one–of many reasons–I stopped reading Writer’s Digest.  Also, there’s brainsplatter, which I always enjoy.)

Ephemeral Garden of Decomposing Books (Books and decay, two of my favorite things.)

Mosh pits could aid could aid disaster planning (Need I say more?  No.)

Is this bestselling fantasy author sexist? (So, I was thinking of reading Rothfuss.  But had this…suspicion, probably inserted into my brain due to all the reading I do concerning sf/f and sexism…after investigating this suspicion, I think–instead–I’ll start on a piece that’s been called the best book of 2012 by numerous parties.  Also: if you ever doubted straight white men are basically churned out of a fucking factory–more on sexism and brainless writing.)

Ekphrastic 17/Basilisk

Ekphrastic 17/Basilisk

Chrysalis eyes:
your womb chews you up, your
only power is lashing your lashes

you have no eyes, your sockets echo
from your gums
hang visions like shriveled baby teeth.

This story has nothing to do with either of you, your
single flute song, your
one-thrust dance.

Previous ekphrastic: Ekphrastic 16/Remedy Lane

[Ekphrasis is, more or less, art about art.  As an eater of a lot of art, I like using ekphrastic poetry to digest some of it.]

Ekphrastic Poetry Archive  (For poems about A Game of Thrones, anime, music, The Hunger Games, Blood Meridian, etc–basically, everything your brain desires.)

Starvation and Books that like to Steal: Hunger Games, Game of Thrones, sex, and another thing…

Starvation and Books that like to Steal: Hunger Games, Game of Thrones, sex, and another thing…

Because I just went for a twelve mile run and refuse to eat until my dear lover wakes up, my empty stomach is too distracting to get any book-editing done till after I’ve eaten.  In the meantime, articles on The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones, and other book-related posts I’ve been reading.

I worry a lot about appropriation, because I write.  And I try to write deep and complex and specific.  I write about aliens, I write about earth goddess; I have characters who kill people, characters who are men who love other men and–naturally–have sex with other men, characters androgynous and aquatic with blue-silver skin, characters who are more swamp than human.

Keeping all this in mind, I obviously don’t just ‘write what I know.’  Strictly following that rule is an act of stupidity.  I’m a writer, I’m a liar.  I’m going to write what I like.  But.  I’m going to do it with care.  And that means authenticity.  It means specifics.  It means research and heart, a lucid mind and sensitivity.  Which is why I worry about appropriation.  Taking someone else’s beloved, or painful or–or just heartclose experiences and basically raping them is not okay.  And needless to say, I don’t want to do that.  But, also needless to say, no matter how hard I try, I probably will.

So what to do?  Write.  Write.  Write.  Research.  Talk, interact.  Absorb.  Observe.  BE.  Be human.

Yes, I’ll screw up.  But hel, I was born, I exist.  Screwing up is a way of life.

One way I try to minimize the screw-ups is by reading.  By understanding the art I enjoy and, simultaneously opening my eyes to its flaws:

[Take note: I don’t strictly agree with everything said in the following.  Accord is not my purpose.]

What’s Wrong With The Hunger Games Is What No One Noticed and The Hunger Games Is A Sexist Fairy-Tale.  Sorry.

These articles are about Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games.  About how she’s basically emptiness shelled in badass.  I like The Hunger Games.  I grew up reading Hatchet (and the million books that followed thereafter) and Far North, My Side of the Mountain, Hungry for Home, Julie of the Wolves and essentially any book that involved trees and killing/wildcrafting to fill your belly.  Add in wolves and I was a very happy, feral child indeed.  The Hunger Games is all this (minus the wolves–no, the mutts don’t count), plus dystopia, another favorite thing of mine.  But it still has its problems.

White Until Proven Black: Imaging Race In The Hunger Games

Another good article about The Hunger Games.  This one, though, discusses not how screwed-up its characters are, but rather, its fans.

Next, Enter Ye Myne Mystic World of Gayng-Raype: What the “R” Stands for in “George R.R. Martin”

I like A Song of Ice and Fire, but we have our troubles, that series and I.  This article touches upon some of them.

Also, an article about writing sex and what you DON’T know–Queering SFF: Writing Sex–To Do or Not To Do?

Along the same lines (but with a focus on place and people): Euro-Fantastic.  And the list that, in part, sparked the just-mentioned post: Recommendations: Non-European Fantasy by Women.

And, finally, just how much is Smaug’s treasure-hoard REALLY worth?

Below, you’ll find two of my favorite comments (by the same guy):