Category Archives: Random

The Worlds We Teach (a rant)

First up before I get into the rant part of this post – Hi! DFWCon ended just a few hours ago and was awesome as always. This was my fourth year attending the conference, and the first time I actually pitched.

I won’t lie, it was a little nerve-wracking – especially since I didn’t start working on my pitch until last Wednesday or so? Didn’t finalize my pitch until Saturday morning… like an hour before my actual time slot. But I did it and it went so much better than I expected, the rest of the conference felt so much less stressful than the prior years (even though I had no intention of pitching previously!). I’m so thankful to my writing tribe for helping critique my pitch drafts, and oozing confidence for me.

Special shout-out to my husband for listening to the pitch over breakfast and guessing questions the agent might ask me, and to Leah for skipping the first class session with me to practice. Funnily enough, the agent did ask the same or similar questions to what I practiced with them, so I didn’t stumble over answering nearly as much! ❤ you all!

Mmmm post-conference margarita.

NOW. Rant time.

*Dear white men teaching “How to Write” SF/F courses at writing conferences: if the only books you’re going to hold up as examples are “classics,” especially if every single one was written by a white man: you’re wasting the audience’s time.

Is it good to know some of the pillars on which the genres were founded? Sure. But if all you’re going to talk about is their accolades within the genre, and not break down their elements at a craft level before moving on to MORE RECENT EXAMPLES, you’re doing a disservice to those being taught.

(Unpopular opinion: Dune is not a great book. Nor was it edited well.)

If all you do is point to works in the past, how exactly will that foster growth in the genre? How does that challenge writers OR the reader? How is that inclusive?

Maybe this is just a *me* thing. I want to know who the movers and shakers are in genres now, or within the last five years. I want to know what they are doing differently, how they’re turning the genre on its head or the ways they’re challenging it.

But you know what, I don’t think this is just a *me* thing. If you’re going to use comp titles in your query, it’s suggested that the comps be pretty recent titles (anywhere from 2 to 5 years old). Obviously there’s an exception to everything, but “classic” SFF has historically been het-white-male-centric (and racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. in a number of cases). So age of the book aside, why would you want to point to such titles as objects for study? It’s just…backwards.

You mean to tell me you can’t find ONE SFF by a WOMAN to hold up? Ann Leckie, Kameron Hurley, Yoon Ha Lee, Rachel Aaron, Martha Wells, S.A. Chakraborty, Amal El-Mohtar, Seanen McGuire, etc.?

You mean to tell me you can’t find ONE SFF by a POC to hold up? N.K. Jemisin, Nnedi Okorafor, Justina Ireland, Aliette de Bodard, Daniel José Older, Jeanette NG, Fonda Lee, Tomi Adeyemi, Roshani Chokshi, Liu Cixin, etc.?

Those are just a small sample of authors currently publishing in SFF, but seriously…if you won’t even use a recent SFF by a dude, like James S.A. Corey, John Scalzi, Chuck Wendig, Andy Weir, etc… that gives me the impression you’re either incredibly lazy (at best) or you’re on the side of the fence clamoring to stay within the narrow-minded, racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. style boundaries of 20+ years ago.

It’s not a good look, and not only am I going to (internally) side-eye the hell out of you, but your credibility to me – be it as an instructor or an author – is going to crash pretttttty quick. I get wanting to look to and acknowledge the “roots” of a genre, but if those are the only examples you give to writers new to the genre(s) or those looking to improve, guess what? You’re not being inclusive. You’re not helping the genre to grow, or giving said writers resources that illustrate how SFF is growing, changing, becoming more inventive. You’re stifling it.

You have a platform, so use it wisely. /endrant

*I’ve witnessed this two times, and both speakers/instructors were white males…hence the rant.

 

That’s it for me on the subject. If you’ve had similar experiences and want to commiserate, feel free to leave a comment!

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Mission Report: September 16, 2016

So it’s been over…

*looks at last blog post and calendar*

*promptly burns the calendar*

Ahem, never mind. All that matters is the update I’m about to lay on you guys.

 

I’ve been heavy in the deep, dark, re-write cave since it feels like forever. Just to give a progress report, so to speak, let’s go over the goals I set several months back.

 

  • March thru April (…June): finish draft 2 of UF #1, send to betas; write query, synopsis, and pitches for Twitter  Nope
    • April 23 – 24 = DFWCon (not planning to pitch or consult w/ any agent)  Done, didn’t pitch/consult but I DID get a new CP/writer buddy and met several others! SUCCESS
  • June thru July: outline & flesh out DF idea  Nope
    • June 9 = Pitmad for UF  #1  Nope
    • June ?? = SFFPit for UF #1 Nope
  • July: Draft DF book for CampNaNo Noooooope
    • start prepping PitchWars submission Double nope
  • August thru September: complete draft 3 of UF #1; work on query, synopsis, blurb, etc. Nope
    • August 3 = PitchWars subs open (!)  Super nope

 

Seeing a theme, here?  Spoiler alert – rewrites take a long fucking time. I am making progress, it’s just a slow and steady race. Currently I’m sitting at 8 chapters re-written out of an expected 21; the first 5 have taken the lion’s share of the time to fix, and there’s still a couple in those that will still have to be reworked again for voice and plausibility before style and other proofreaderly edits.

In addition to grunt work, with the help of my fabulous CP, I’ve worked up three solid pitches for Twitter pitch parties. AND THE FIRST BOOK HAS A TITLE! Can’t describe to you how much of a weight is lifted off with finally having something to call this baby other than UF #1.

And no, not going to relay it here. Not until closer to the finished, query-ready manuscript draft, anyway. Just know that title includes a bird.  =)

 

Other goings on: I went to California for a week for work, and THEN went to Englannnnnd! FOR TWO WEEKS!

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My wonderful colleague/friend made the trip so much less stressful. Once her husband found out I wanted to go visit all the London touristy things, he planned a full route for me to see as much as possible in one day. The British Museum was the one place I actually went into, but we hit almost all of the other major sights: Buckingham Palace (as he called it, the Queen’s House), British Museum,  Hyde Park, St. James Park, Horse Guards Parade, Parliament/Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Tower of London, London Bridge, The Eye, the Shard. I rode the tube, and an above-ground rail/train to a station near their house.

They took me out to fish and chips. I tried gin and tonic (never again). Got to see the bad traffic on several of the M’s. Experienced the greatness that is Tesco, for lunch. And on and on… It was great, guys. Rural England reminds me very much of southwestern Virginia where I grew up, and although London/England was never on my top places to visit, it’s definitely on my list to return to.

 

The other, much less fun part of this update is about my absence from Twitter the last few days. You might be wondering why I chose to to title this post thusly. Two reasons:

#1 obviously, the Captain America: Civil War reference, which will make sense later
#2 Friday (Sept.16) was the last time I touched my WIP in terms of re-writing/revising

 

Warning: probably about to be some feels ensuing. Mine are a given.

 

If you’ve been following me on Twitter the last few months, you’ve probably seen posts about our cats. Cat pictures, volunteering, and the struggle with our “baby” Diamond.

 

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Diamond started having seizures in March. We went through medication, bloodwork, an MRI, consultation and testing with a neurologist, and more medication. They suspected her of having a metabolic disorder.

There’s no cure for metabolic disorders in cats. You basically just monitor their standard of living. If you’re lucky, you get to make the choice for them when they reach that point.

 

Diamond passed away Saturday morning. She had either one really big shitty seizure, or several small shitty seizures. Either way, her little 6lb body couldn’t handle it. As I held her on the way to the ER-Vet, I kept telling her to hang on even though I think I knew, deep down, she wasn’t going to come back from it. When the vet asked if we wanted them to try and stabilize her, I just nodded. I wanted to ask what the odds are of her having brain damage were, IF she stabilized, but I buried that down. And when she crashed, I nodded with H again to have them try CPR. It couldn’t hurt to hope, right?

I wish I would’ve just said my mind. I wish we could’ve just given her peace in those last few minutes.

 

I’ve experienced the death of close relatives, but I don’t think I grieved for them. Not like this, not like I’ve grieved for Commodore and Diamond. And that’s just two sides of what feels like a d20 in this whole situation: losing two pets, two members of our family in less than two years. We knew there would come a point of no return, we just thought we had another ~6 months with her. Even with Commodore it was about a 3 week downward turn. For Diamond, we had an hour, maybe.

 

I’m angry, because she didn’t deserve that kind of death. She didn’t deserve to have her brains scrambled to the point it wouldn’t function.

I’m lost, because how do I fill the time previously spent caring for her? What do I put on my schedule instead of “need to be back by x time to give her her medication” ?

I feel guilty. What if instead of feeling crabby that H missed her 3:30 AM dose Saturday morning, I’d just given it to her* when I saw he didn’t? Would that have made any difference?

I’m numb, because it’s the best way to get through the day without crying. Don’t think, don’t feel, just survive.

I hurt for her, for H, for us. The ER-Vet already sent a card, and I know it says “Sorry for your loss,” and I just can’t open it. I dread the next few days because I know there’s a call coming, at some point, to pick up her ashes. Then it will be real. Then she will truly be gone.

 

I hope you’ve found peace, little one. We miss you.

 

 

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading.

*I know this probably wouldn’t have helped. Anti-convulsants build up in the system, so one missed dose shouldn’t have triggered this. I feel guilty, regardless.

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Life Lessons – the dentist

If you have a bad experience with a dentist, don’t wait more than a year to find a new one. Especially don’t wait five.

Short story time!

My first root canal (~5 years ago) went poorly. I received no pain medicine ahead of time, and they had to numb me three times before I could no longer feel the drill digging through an old filling. After the roots were out, the dentist felt the need to marvel at them with the assistants while I sat patiently angrily waiting. When it came time for the permanent crown a few days or maybe a week later, they filed or drilled down a healthy tooth on the top to get the crown to fit.

Needless to say I never went back.

About five years and one checkup later and I now need:

-wisdom teeth out(granted, knew this was coming)
-two root canals

And that’s just what they’ve highlighted as the most pressing issues to take care of. Knowing my history with cavities, if I’d gone sooner they probably could’ve gotten by as just needing fillings.

I do brush and floss, I swear. Some people are just more prone to cavities, and other people more susceptible to gum issues.

If nothing else, the new dentist and hygienist we’re going to now seem to be wonderful. They explained everything, assuaged my worries about the wisdom teeth, and didn’t bombard us with every little thing wrong – just the most urgent issues. For tomorrow’s root canal, I’m optimistic that it’ll be a much smoother and less painful process.

 

So yeah, don’t put off dental healthcare, it’ll just come back to bite you in the ass later.

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