Random Update

The weather is going to be very bad tonight--like 80% chance of snow and road icing, bad. Austinites are preparing for the End of Days. ;) Still not sure how that's going to factor in on D&D date night. We'll see. The writing is progressing in good ways. I suspect one of the plot threads is going to require my revisiting it in a big way, but that doesn't matter right this moment. This is the first draft. I can fix it later. Writing is in the re-writing. At this moment, I have to have the main structure down before I can mess with that other plot thread. (Heh. This is what happens when you weave multiple plotlines together. It doesn't just pop out whole and fully formed. You have to muck with it after the first draft. At least, I do.) Per usual, the universe is merrily attempting to supply Drama that One Can Choose to Use to Ignore Deadline. (Yes, that's a thing.) I've been pretty good at avoiding it so far. Still, Dane's car sucked up two days. It happens. That's writing life. I honestly don't begrudge him those two days one bit. He's my husband. Plus, he's perfectly okay with my wandering off to the UK for a while. Did I mention he's the best? Speaking of the UK, I dreamed this morning that my flight dumped me in Ireland rather than in England--a whole week early. The good news was that my luggage arrived with me. Ultimately, I was fine, just skittish. It was a funny dream filled with anxiety and my determination to take what I was given and go with the flow. Yeah. I'm worried things will get screwed up. In fact, I'm more worried than I am excited at this point. I assume it's my guilt regarding using all my book money for this trip (and not on Dane or the house or a specific convention) combined with the deadline pressure, and the taxes that need doing. (Oh, taxes.) Still, this is something I've always wanted. I'm sure it'll be great. Seriously. I just need to relax. (I always get a little twitchy before leaving the US to visit a country that I've never been before on top of everything else. Yep. I'm silly.)

I finished Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon,[1] by the way, and it was wonderful--not in the same way Patti Smith's book was, mind you. It was wonderful in its own way. For me, it was more relatable. I suppose because I identified with her background. We're both "not really cool enough" art students pulled into a different media than our original training. I love punk music so much. Actually, not all of punk music, if I'm honest. I love the punk music that do I love so very deeply and completely.[2] I love punk style with every fiber of my being. I've always been drawn to it. OMG, Francesca Lia Block... just... Francesca Lia Block. I know it's because punk filled with combativeness, and I grew up in a household where girls were not permitted rage--let alone combat, even for self protection. Kim, I feel, is pushing the envelope for women like me. She's older than I am and she doesn't care what others think that means. She's a Feminist. She's sticking with who she is, regardless of age. I admire that so much. Women are so pressured to give up their identity and be invisible once they hit "a certain age." Because "It's just too embarrassing for you to be a real person. Just fade away into frumpy clothing and short hair already. Someone male might mistake you for someone who matters--that is, a sweet young thing with ovaries for WSM consumption." It's total bullshit, and they can pry the weird ass hair dye from my cold dead fingers. Just fuck all that. The fact that Kim's brother is a lot like mine? Well... that fits too. It also kills me that Thurston did what he did to Kim, to his child, and to himself--because he proved himself to be so stupidly shallow and weak. I've zero patience for that crap. Zero. Growing old isn't for babyheads, bats and ghouls. It's a minefield of broken glass you have to cross while your body betrays you in every way possible. Yes, I understand that those with disablities start there, and that sucks even worse because it only gets worse. I think that's why when one is born with all the advantage, all the support, and all the assets to be strong throughout aging, it pisses me off when that individual cowers and breaks. Of course, it doesn't help that youth culture will stab you in the back just when you have a lifetime's worth of solid, useful information to give back.[3] Mind you, I don't mean to paint only in black. There's some pretty wonderful scattered in there. There is. It's worth toughing out. Really. I'm happier now than I've been in my whole life. Still, I often wonder why aging seems to be so much harder on white men.[4] I suspect it's due to a lifetime of having the world cater to your every whim in an invisible way until one day that privilege is just gone. No warning. No prep. Just rug yanked from under you by a younger dude with no self awareness. And when you have no self awareness to begin with? Yeah. Women and other minorities don't process this in the same way. In fact, the older women get, the more powerful they tend to become. I used to think it was entirely due to Running Out of Fucks to Give(tm). However, my new thought is that we're used to not having the world bend over for us. By the time we're older, we've got the system down. We know when to zig instead of zag. I don't know. I don't mean to give the impression that Kim dwells on what happened with her ex. She doesn't. The book isn't a Courtney Love train wreck.[5] It's a genuine map of an artist's life. In any case, thanks, Kim for this book. It's charged up my creative energy so much that I think I'll listen to it again.
[1] Holy fuck, what is with that "I checked out when she mentioned Feminism." bullshit? Wake up, gf.
[2] The Clash, The Sexpistols, Billy Idol, Dead Kennedys, The Ramones, Sonic Youth... you know the old skool shit. I'm sure there's some newer punk that I like, but it isn't as raw. It doesn't bleed. It's the corporate idea of punk, and that's something very different.
[3] Particularly now. Agism is alive and well in America's job market. This, in spite of the fact that they don't even pay out the benefits that they used to use as an excuse for not hiring older people.
[4] Or is it really? Can it be that more is made of the older white male's problems? You know, just like in every other aspect of white straight male life?
[5] Although, I admit I own a copy of Dirty Blonde, and I love it for its David Carson-esque visuals. I don't read the text. It's just too much for me. I chalk it up to growing up with crazy. I just can't, not anymore. I'm used up. I know where that leads, and it's nowhere good. I know it sounds cold, and it is. But once you've spent a life dealing with the collateral damage without professional help of any kind... well... I choose survival. There are those who can give the support needed, and I bless them. Society desperately needs them. Bless them. I only know I am not that person. Again, I say fuck Ronald Reagan for closing down mental health care options for the families of those suffering from mental illness. Seriously. Fuck Ronald Reagan. A lot.

Art Tuesday?

Today, I thought I'd do my own version of "Women Rejecting Men in Fine Art." I thought it'd be fun.

"Mother, this isn't what I had in mind when I said I'd rather move out of the house and join the circus."

"Let's see. He's grabbed my hand, and I've grabbed his shoulder. The appropriate form in the martial arts kata is Ude Osae Dori. Right, Sensei?"

"Let me consider your proposal. I have financial independance, self actualization, and advanced fabric weaving. You have... hotness, tiny furs, and patriarchy. Let me ask you a question. Can you hammer a six-inch spike through a board with your penis?"

"Look, Mister, I don't think you know this, but Chasing Amy wasn't a documentary. Kevin Smith was wrong. What's the matter with you? I'm eight, and I know that."

"What part of 'Fuck off. I'm reading Fledgling.' was unclear? Really? You don't know who Octavia Butler is? And explain to me again why I should think that's attractive?"

"We're just about to start our Bikini Kill covers set. Look up 'Riot Grrls' on your iPhone, and then I'll get right back to you about that date."

"Look, I've a PhD in astrophysics. I don't think I need you to show me how to use a TV remote."

Feminist Monday

“I’ve always believed, that the radical is far more interesting when it looks benign and ordinary from the outside.”

“Am I ‘empowered’? If you have to hide your hypersensitivity, are you really a ‘strong woman’?”
--Kim Gordon

I'm listening to an audio book of Kim Gordon's Girl in a Band. I'm really loving it. Her attitutes about being a female performer remind me so much of the phases I've been going through as a writer who does public appearances. This struggle to find myself in the things that seem to be expected. This idea that a woman is used for marketing, and that's about it. That somehow what we have to say isn't as important or viseral. This fear of women being destructive in our art when men are permitted to do so all the time. It's an excellent mashup with The Feminine Mystique when I think about it. I love it when nonfiction just sort of melts together into a facinating mush in my skull. Kim's feelings about playing music match my own. That whole wanting to be a part of it--be in the middle of it--rather than focusing on soloing or whatever. I'm not a musician. In my heart, I never was, and I always saw that to be the reason why. Musicians are about their art, the instrument they play--their part. They aren't about the whole. At least, that's been my impression all these years. Anyway, it's a great book. You should read it even if you aren't into Sonic Youth. While you're at it, get your hands on Patti Smith's Just Kids too while you're at it. You won't be sorry.

I'm in this strange head-space. It's a good place to be, I think. I splurged on a copy of the latest Interview yesterday. It a magazine I've always had a facination for because I associated it with the New York creative scene. I had so many art friends who used its pages for collage. I loved it and love it. At the same time, it was always too expensive for me to indulge in. Kirsten Stewart is on the cover this month, and she's in full on Joan Jett mode. (Patti Smith did her makeover for the interview.) Of all the films she's done, Runaways is the only one I adore. My inner punk girl had to have it. So, I indulged. I'm not sorry.

I guess you can tell who my music heros are.

And now... links. Videos first.
If Buying Condoms Was Like Buying Birth Control
I laughed my ass off at the end. I have an ex who used to love to use that stupid excuse.

And... because...

Entertainment/Literary: Catwoman Just Came Out Of The Closet As Bisexual Part of me is like, "Yay! That's awesome!" and the other part of me is thinking, "Yeah. Whatever. Like that isn't the Straight White Male wet dream, like every other fucking comic book about women." Thus, I'm not sure how I feel about it. Conflicted? I mean, Yay, bisexual! Yay, more QLTBG representation in comics! But... representation of bisexuality for men isn't the same as bisexuality for women. [sigh] I immediately thought of The Runaways and how female sexuality is used against women. It all starts off as freeing and going against the restrictions of the patriarchy and then almost at once goes right back to serving the Male Gaze. [bangs head] I guess I had too many experiences with women playing at being bisexual to be daring and more attractive to straight men, rather than just being truly who they are. There's a distinction. I honestly believe that bisexuality is real. Human sexuality is a spectrum, not a binary. I don't believe bisexual = hypersexual either. I do think a lot of bad bullshit has been dumped on bisexuals. Anyway, next subject. NOTES ON WATCHING "ALIENS" FOR THE FIRST TIME AGAIN, WITH A BUNCH OF KIDS I get pissy when a generic term ("kids") is used to specifically mean male. He's watching the film with young boys. That's cool. I like how Aliens has interfaced with their changing experience of what it means to be female. That's significant. It'll vaporize the instant they hit High School in a couple of years, but hey, it's nice to pretend. Uncovering Hidden Black History, On Screen And On The Page I, for one, am hoping that the folks who created Agent Carter listen to the criticism and make the changes. It needs a second season. Absolutely. It needs to change. Absolutely. Sometimes I feel that when white feminists bitch about having to be inclusive, it's just SWM envy. Hey, SWMs don't have to be inclusive. Why should we? This Month (And Every Month), Black Sci-Fi Writers Look To The Future, Digital Feminism: Righting the Gender Divide for Authors on Wikipedia Yeah. I'm fucking done with wikipedia. I don't even go there to look stuff up anymore. The time for them to have done something about that site is long gone as far as I'm concerned. But hey, much luck to them for creating change. Too Niche – Lauren Jankowski, I Read Only Books by Women For a Year: Here’s What Happened, On the tempest around the Tempest challenge, No Boys Allowed: School visits as a woman writer (That one makes me want to scream. Forever.) Bootlegging the Matrix: In Which Bootleg Girl Explains the Matrix Sequels, Why women love 'Jupiter Ascending', Jem and the Holograms Creative Team Say Kimber and Stormer are a Couple, Guy in Your MFA tweeter gets literary attention that should rightfully go to guys in MFAs, Oh No, She Didn’t: The Strong Female Character, Deconstructed

General: Why the boys club in parliament can't handle smart women, Revenge Pornographer Demands Google Erase His Past; Is Human Embodiment of Tiny Violin He not only made money off of the photos, he extorted money from women who asked him to remove them. What goes around, comes around, baby. Pardon me while I don't cry. A lot. Meet the Middle School Girls Changing TX Dating Violence Legislation, 23 Hairstyles That Are Physically Impossible To Do To Your Own Head, 'Female Husbands' In The 19th Century, FUCKING WITH FEMINISTING: SEX POSITIVITY, Transgender Elders Show Us the Meaning of Survival, New York's Bravest Is Trans FDNY Firefighter Brooke Guinan

Trigger Warning: I’m Not Broken – Annalee Flower Horne I have to say, one of the reasons I wrote about rape the way I did in Of Blood and Honey was because I wanted to demonstrate the recovery process--or rather, a recovery process. (Not everyone recovers in exactly the same way.) Not only is rape a taboo subject when it comes to its happening to men, we never see the recovery process either. That's why I spent so much time on that aspect of Liam's character. The next book in that series was always intended to be more about how he moves on with his life and heals himself. Of course, the NSB mess happened and I was unable to move on. But hey, I'll come back to that later.

Hello, March!

And here we are, my favorite month of the year. Oh, wait. My favorite month is October! Okay, my second favorite because, you know, birthday month. ;) And this year, I'm heading to the UK and Ireland. (Although, I don't leave NYC for the UK until the day after my birthday.) This makes me super happy. Although, I've not traveled out of the US since 1996. So, I'm feeling a little bit anxious. (I'm sure it'll be fine.) It's going to be a long trip. I leave on St. Patrick's Day and don't get back until near the end of April. I've always wanted to travel this way at least once in my life. It makes me so happy. But on the other hand, I'm going to miss my husband. A lot. Also, I'm going to miss Hakkoryu training--particularly since I feel I'm just now getting the hang of it. It's okay. It's going to be worth it. And the dojo will be here when I get back. Am now thinking about what clothing I'll pack. March in the UK is still cold by Texas standards. I found this amazing designer trench coat for cheap at Secret Oktober. It's that perfect weight for spring, and hey, it's designed for rain.

Of course, Texas being Texas, it'll be blazing hot by the time I get home.

I've been getting back in touch with my inner hippie goth chick and that makes me happy too. I don't know why I ever packed her up. (Actually, I kind of do.) I missed her. I feel more myself than I have in years. Layering clothes and dressing in vintage has always been one of my favorite things to do. It's very nice being able to indulge in that again. I actually dug out my old felt cowboy hat the other day. I've been reshaping it into something more resembling a floppy hat. I think it's going to make the trip with me along with the fishnets, slips, skirts, scarves, shawls, and boots. I need to leave room for things I'm sure to acquire. The last time I went to the UK, my BFF and I packed an empty army laundry bag. We filled that sucker to bursting.[1] You see, we made a couple of shopping trips to Camden Town. I don't know if it's anything like it used to be. It probably isn't. Still, I'm sure Rachel will take me shopping somewhere, and I'm sure there'll be perfect finds. There generally are when I'm with Rachel. She has that special vintage shopping magic. I'm so looking forward to that.

And hello deadline for Blackthorne. Yeah. Deadline. We're getting there. But this series feels so much bigger--so much more sprawling. It makes sense. This is an Epic Fantasy, after all. The thing that's fun is watching it grow into its own place inside my head. This series, these characters have been with me since long before Liam existed. Blackthorne in particular has been with me for almost twenty years. (Nels and Suvi for less than that.) I don't know. It makes me happy to see the growth. Some people want things to forever be the same. For me, that feels limiting. Everything living must grow and/or change. It's the definition of life, really. So, seeing the differences is pleasing. And the characters are still throwing spanners into the gears. If nothing else, this tells me the story is working.
[1] Mind you, there were two of us filling that bag. Still, when we got to Customs the agent took one look at us and said, "This is for you two only, isn't it?" Yes. "Go on." He didn't even blink. You see, unlike Texas at that time, they knew what the fuck a goth was. The funniest part for me was being mistaken for a native during the whole trip. I can only assume that at that time they didn't understand that they'd actually exported goth to the US. 

Filed Under Things You Should Be Talking About

So yesterday, the internet continued to get in a bind over whether or not a blue and black dress was actually blue and black... meanwhile an actual positive first step toward Internet Neutrality was made. "...the nature of broadband Internet access service has not only changed since that initial classification decision, but that broadband providers have even more incentives to interfere with Internet openness today." And then the FCC declared broadband internet service to be a utility service in the U.S.A.. Thus, we can now have free municipal internet (like they do in Chattanooga, TN) without the interference of cable companies. That's a huge win. The American portion of the internet should be celebrating that fact. Instead, we're talking about dresses. [shrug] Oh, internet. Mind you, there's a reason cable news isn't covering the story. They still want you to believe that your vote doesn't count and that petitions are for chumps.[1] [rolls eyes] Repeat after me: there's a reason why certain GOP representatives keep trying to limit voting rights. It's because voting works.[2]

In other news, I was listening to NPR and came across a story about the memior of a current Guantanamo Bay prisoner. In it, he names a Chicago cop as the one person who inflicts the worst torture. This cop was serving as a Chicago cop at the same time he was torturing the Guantanamo prisoner. If that doesn't bother you, think again. Because The Guardian (a British newspaper) has come out with a story about The Disappeared. No, they don't mean people who've been kidnapped by the IRA. They mean United States citizens who were taken by Chicago Police to an "evidence locker" and tortured. The "evidence locker" is so well known that when a Defence Attorney in Chicago cannot find their client they know exactly where to show up. Mind you, they aren't permitted inside and their client is not freed which breaks every related American law on the books. To say that this is an illegal operation is an understatement. It's unconstitutional and an abuse of power. Illinois is not that far from Ferguson/St.Louis, MO, people. Add to this the fact that Ferguson, MO has instituted what amounts to debtors' prisons. Then add the use of military hardware. Does this give you a better picture of why people might have been rioting? We've got a real problem with police and abuse of power in the United States, and we need to do something about it. Now.
[1] This, in spite of the fact that the reason we got that ruling was due to the overwhelming--literally overwhelming, in that the responses overwhelmed the FCC's site and they had to get the responders organized in order to track all the comments--response from American citizens. Yes, those petitions worked.
[2] I can't help thinking the "nothing I do matters" mindset of my generation (GenX) is due to being so heavily out voted by the Baby Boomers. But it's time to wake up. The Boomers are soon to be (if not already) out numbered by GenX AND the Millenials. Time to get busy, people. If not, we really won't have a say because the vote will have been stripped from us.

My Friend

This morning, we lost one of the greats in the world of SF. We lost Leonard Nimoy. He was a creative person who played a number of roles and even wrote poetry, but for me, his portrayal of Spock affected me the most. Mind you, I understand that he didn't always have a positive relationship with that role. I imagine it was frustrating and limiting for someone with a broad range of talents to be persistantly defined by that one role. Over time, it seems he changed his attitude. Still, I can't help getting the sense that it was a sacrifice. His career was both made and destroyed by Spock. That had to be hard-at least I imagine it was. But I was a shy, sensitive, bookish kid, and Spock was the first example I had of an adult who didn't fit in and was okay with not doing so. In fact, he made me see that being different could be a blessing, not a curse. He showed me that you could take an insult and turn it into something other than that. He showed me that being sensitive didn't have to be a weakness, if you learned how to channel it. He showed me that being smart wasn't a bad thing either, and it was okay if others didn't approve of my intelligence. He demonstrated that often being in an inbetween place was, while painful, a fruitful place, a learning place, a place were we most often find out who we are. Mind you, I met people who took the lessons of Spock in other, more harmful directions.[1] But that's okay. That's part of what makes art Art--this ability to interpret it in different ways. Anyway, this was what drew me to Star Trek. Not only that it was about venturing boldly into the unknown and possibly terrifying reaches of space.[2] Star Trek is just so much more than Star Wars.[3] It covers diplomacy, adventure, science, and friendship. I'm thankful that those involved in Star Trek have generally picked up its banner and did things with it that were important.

Anyway, I'd like to say goodbye. He was one of the people who meant so much to me, even though I never met him. I want to thank him for making that sacrifice. I feel he helped so many more than just me in doing so. He became a childhood friend, an adult who understood my fears. He showed me that men, however alien, could be mindful. Thank you, Leonard Nimoy. Thanks for being my friend.

"We are assembled here today to pay final respects to our honored dead. And yet it should be noted that in the midst of our sorrow, this death takes place in the shadow of new life, the sunrise of a new world; a world that our beloved comrade gave his life to protect and nourish. He did not feel this sacrifice a vain or empty one, and we will not debate his profound wisdom at these proceedings. Of my friend, I can only say this: of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most... human."

Wherever you've gone, Mr. Nimoy, I hope it is somewhere wonderful and peaceful and a place where you can do all the things you didn't get to do because you were Spock. We owe you that much and more. Thank you.
[1] The rejection of emotion altogether. I don't honestly believe in that version of Spock. Why? Because I feel emotion, while sometimes the cause of great harm, is also the source of our humanity. Spock constantly struggles with what it means to be human. Humanity is what Spock is all about. In the reboot, his father sits with him and explains why he married Amanda Grayson, a human. Remember that scene? Yeah, I knew then J.J. Abrams had it down. I knew he understood. I knew he was a fan.
[2] As a very small animal (in a Winnie the Pooh's Piglet sense) this spoke to me. A lot.
[3] Star Wars is nice, and I liked it too, but let's be honest. It's just people shooting shit or hitting shit in space. 

Geek Love

Let's start with the fact that my last High School Reunion felt like a combination of Romy and Michele's High School Reunion and Grosse Point Blank. Yeah. (Thanks, Dane. You kept me sane.)

So now we come to last night. My writing ground to a halt while I stepped back to think over a big decision: whether or not to kill off a character. Mind you, it's not the potential dead-ee that's the problem. It's the character making the dead-ee dead. In any case, I asked Dane what he thought. We talked a bit about it. Now, the first thing to understand is that I'm known for being tough on my characters. In fact, Scott "I stuff characters in a barrel full of horse piss and kick them down hills" Lynch says I'm rough on characters. Yeah. I kind of dig that. [buffs nails on shirt] Soooo.... last night went like this:

Me: "I'm not sure. See, this character already killed a lot of people. This may not be a good decision for her. But it's a great scene. Super creepy."
Dane [chanelling Alan Arkin without losing a beat]: "Don't kill anybody for a few days. See what it feels like."

The Breakup Song

Because I also enjoy music, and I'm on a deadline... it's music video day. The following songs are dead perfect for the scene I'm writing--you know, the action scene that the characters hijacked with some brutal, messy emotional shit. (In truth, I dearly love when that happens. Because I do like loading up on the number of things going wrong at any point in time in a story. It boosts the stakes.) First up: wow, that Dire Straights guitar. The older I get, the more I'm drawn to blues.

And listed under Best Covers EVAR:

And from my own personal soundtrack of "yeah. that so didn't go like i'd planned.":

What's your favorite break up song?

Art Tuesday?

I think I'll leave the question mark in the title. I like it. Questions are so much more important than answers--particularly in the creative process.

So, a friend of mine posted a funny art-related link to her wall on FB. I wanted to share it, but unfortunately the misogyny in its humor was entirely off-putting. PSA: It's really time to stop using the word "pussy" as a put down. Also? Calling men a "little bitch" can stop now too. It's no longer funny, guys. Therefore, I found a non-misogynist link filled with the humorous use of classical paintings. Yeah, yeah. It's BuzzFeed. But I think it's okay in this case because it didn't have some stupid "click-bait" title. I'd like to encourage that as a trend, frankly. Moving along.

For those who think that SF&F shouldn't contain a trace of politics, and since literature is an art form, and art has always had its political content... I give you an art plus politics link. Politics and social commentary are a big part of what makes art ART. It's always been a thing. Always. A great deal of the classic paintings you might remember seeing have context which, through the passing of time, has been stripped away. That doesn't mean it was never there to begin with.

And here's a link about the intersection between music, literature, and art from the perspective of artist, Theodora Allen.