Urban Fantasy Seattle

So,'s still the 13th in Seattle...I went to lunch with Laura Anne Gilman in a wonderful little diner in Pike's Market. Then we wandered around a bit and visited my favorite magic store (in the market) and we window shopped in some vintage places. Afterward, I was taking her back to her place when I looked out the window and saw a bus advertisement for a production of The Sound of Music. That would be this one:

Now, the thing you aren't seeing (because the photo doesn't have enough pixels) is that the actress's photo has been tampered with. Someone very skillfully altered the eyes and the teeth so that she looks like a vampire. We laughed our asses off.

And then I got back to Melissa's place--after a ridiculous wait in traffic...and promptly went out for dinner with Melissa, Brian, and Melissa's mom. That's when I looked out the window at the marina and saw a sailbot with the name Bewitched on it. No joke.

Oh, Seattle. I love you.


I've officially visited Seattle enough times that it feels like a second home. Mind you, a second home where my husband isn't...but a second home, nonetheless. I'm not sure what would happen if Dane were to be here at the same time. I think I'd never leave. Have you ever been in a place and felt the bones of the earth there under your feet and knew you belonged there? I've done it a couple of times--once on the east coast and then here. This is different, though. Before, that generally went with a feeling I'd been there before. Not here. I'm clear that Seattle is new to me. Still, it's right. At the same time, I wonder if the magic wears off once you do make a move like that? I'm not entirely sure I'd want the sparkle gone. I don't know. I guess Texas being awful serves a function.

Whatever. Seattle isn't an option. Not now. It may not ever be. And that's okay. Seattle is very far away from my east coast people. Very.

In other news, I'm making all sorts of headway on my research while I'm here. I'm also understanding and appreciating (on a new level) Melissa's deeply amazing social skills--as well as my husband's. There's something to be said for being able to make people fit just so in to the overall puzzle-set of relationships, even the broken people. I've never had that skill. I wish I did. I just don't. I've tried. That requires a level of patience that I can't fake.[1] What this comes down to is... I made Melissa watch The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood last night. She hadn't seen it before, and as much as she and I talk about the Family You Make(tm)[2] and how much we want that, I knew that couldn't stand. Ya-Ya is all about Family You Make.

Oh, hell. That trailer doesn't do it justice. I cry every time I watch Sidda rediscover what family and love truly is. I laugh every time I see things in Conner that remind me of Dane. (Because, holy crap, that is so there.) I watch Vivi's true family kick into gear when she needs them with envy, and I wonder at how she was able to create that family in spite of being so very broken. I've talked with my mother about this. (We watched it together at least once.) And she says friends like that don't exist in adulthood. It's a fantasy. I think she's wrong. I think they do, but I also think now that such a family requires that skillset that I lack--the one where you make people fit into a relationship that works for everyone, even if they're broken. Of course, there's a distinction between broken-and-sometimes-annoying and broken-and-downright-abusive. There's no reason to make room for abuse, but there's plenty reason to make room for broken but functional within certain parameters. Human beings are flawed, after all. Cutting out all the people who are not perfect doesn't work. Everyone has a certain set of circumstances under which they are not safe. (Mind you, some are more extreme and/or rare circumstances than others.) People are people. Trust requires risk and faith. The trick is, learning the boundaries of the safe areas and operating optimally within those. All relationships are unique. All have their quirks. I get that now. I feel stupid that it's taken me this long to understand, but at least I've finally gotten it. The concept is a level of safety I can take with me, wherever I go in life. That's a valuable lesson. I plan on nurturing it. I just hope it's not too late to implement. I suspect it isn't.
[1] Persistance can look like patience, if you squint.
[2] Those friends who are your family by choice.

I Still Love Seattle

I've been talking long walks in the woods, listening to streams, and such in the morning. (My internal clock hasn't adjusted yet. So, I've been getting up at 7:15 am instead of 9:15 am.) The other day I saw an Icelandic pony/horse. Today, I saw a couple of beautiful Australian shepards--one had the gorgeous light blue eye and brown eye thing going. I still can't get over the trees here. They're just so...gorgeous. I bought a pair of rubber boots for dog walking. Dog walking is kind of how I pay the rent as it were. (I love Melissa's dog, Remo. We have fun together.) The air smells so wonderful. Yeah, yeah. It rains. I know. Still, I could so live here. I know it.

The SFWA event yesterday went very well, I thought. I had a great time. I wish I'd had more time to talk with folks but that was my fault. I had to go around the place a couple of times to find parking. Thus, it took me about an hour to settle down. I really need to get better at that. Really. And yes...I still get stage fright. Silly me. I truly wish we had something like that in Austin. We should. There are certainly enough SF writers around, but no. :-/

Anyway, I adore Seattle. I just do. I hope all is well with you and yours...

Feminist...Tuesday Afternoon/Evening

So, it's Tuesday and I'm in Seattle. OMG, I love Seattle. Anyway...a quick announcement from our sponsers...I'm here for the SFWA Reading Series which takes place tonight at 7pm at the Wilde Rover in Kirkland. I'm to give a very quick chat about my work along with a super fast reading. Drop by, if you're in the area. It'll be nice to see friendly faces.

And now...your weekly dose of Feminist Links of Rage. :)

Entertainment/Literary: 100 Women Directors Hollywood Should Be Hiring. Why Are Old Women Often The Face Of Evil In Fairy Tales And Folklore?

General: This 81-Year-Old Wrote a Dictionary to Save Her Tribe’s Dying Language. Maryland family faces harsh criticism after daughter is featured in ‘American Girl’ magazine. [sigh] Sometimes I don't understand people. Feminism Needs More Thinkers Who Aren’t Right 100 Percent of the Time. I'm of two minds on this. On one hand, there's nothing wrong with correction. No one is perfect and feedback is a good thing. We all make mistakes, learn, and change, and grow over time. (I know I have.) Women need some space for that. The demand for perfection from women/Feminists is one of the many ways women are policed by those in power, no matter their gender.[1] On the other hand, Feminists should try to be more inclusive, you know? And if you're unwilling to should be called on it. (I'm squinting at you 2nd Wave Feminism.) But there is a distinction. If the big idea of Feminism is that Women Are People...then women should allowed flaws because people have them. Women should not have to agree 100% in their politics. It should be okay to be a Christian Feminist or a Muslim Feminist or [fill in the blank] Feminist. I honestly think more work needs done in that arena. MICROAGGRESSIONS AND ERASURE OF DISABILITY IN DIVERSITY DISCUSSIONS. This Teen Girl Takes On Her School's Dress Code In Viral Facebook Post. Grrrrr. Dress codes. Why do they always end up being about telling girls what to wear? Women Who Show Emotional Restraint Are Seen As Less Intelligent Fakers. Women are often caught up in 'there's no winning' space. That's just one example. Canadian leader Justin Trudeau's cabinet is 50% female 'because it's 2015.' Dear Canada, I love you. Thanks for stopping the US conservative crap. I love you so much! I said that already? Oh, okay. :) The Crusade Against Planned Parenthood Is Getting Nonsensical. The Thin Line Between Love And Hate. Why we all need more women who can code: An open discussion on closing the gender gap.

Trigger Warning Section: I should've changed this to the I CAN'T EVEN section. Because...I CAN'T EVEN. This really pisses me off. Missouri townspeople shun sex abuse victim as a liar — even after ‘good man’ admits to raping her.
[1] Yes. Women can be misogynists. Women soak in everyday misogyny too, you know. It's one of the many things that makes sexism so tough to fight.

And Other Thoughts

The San Antonio event was amazing. It was really nice being able to get together with other authors who also weren't going to WFC this year. (I hate missing out, but the funds just weren't there this time.) Anyway, Joe McDermott and The Twig Book Store did a great job of putting on the event, and much fun was had. The staff were marvelous. People even arrived in costume! So much fun. Many thanks to one and all.

And now for something completely different. This morning, a reader sent in a question via Good Reads, and because it was a great one I'm going to repost it (and my answer) here.

"Hi Stina It is apparent to me that you've done quite a bit of research on the Troubles. Any books you've read that you found particularly informative? Or, for that matter, unbiased? 2nd question might be a tall order though."

The Troubles is an emotional, complex topic, and there are very good reasons for that. Actual history isn't clean or tidy. War isn't how the Epic Fantasy novels and movies portray it. There is no 100% good protagonist versus a 100% evil. We're talking about human beings, and history is built up of a multitude of human experiences. Some of them are conflicting. The important thing to remember is that all are valid. (There is a reason the police prefer only one witness to a crime. Again, there's a reason for that. Look into the science of perception.) Therefore, there is no 'one and only' true story/experience of The Troubles. The best one can do as an outsider is to pull from multiple points of view and form one's guess--and don't kid yourself, it is a guess. This is why I included an extensive bibliography with those novels. However, I'd recommend starting with Tim Pat Coogan's books and then work outward from there. That said, I consider the most informative to be the memoirs. They report valuable details that historians leave out, but always remember the authors have an emotional stake in their stories. And sometimes individuals don't have the whole picture. They are, after all, human beings. We all are.

And that's why I get grumpy when people declare that their experience of anything--not just The Troubles--is THE ONLY VALID EXPERIENCE. I don't care if you lived through said event. If the event in question involves other human beings, yours is not the ONE AND ONLY EXPERIENCE. It's the same problem I have with people determined to scream that theirs is the only opinion that matters and that their opinion trumps facts. It's perfectly valid to disagree. It's also perfectly valid to criticise works of fiction. [shrug] There's a distinction, however.

And now...a link about this year's WFC fails. It didn't stop with the idiotic response to harrassment issues. The biggest problem was, once again, accessibility. Mary Robinette Kowal has an extremely valid point. It's long past time for WFC and other SF conventions to do the job right. I, too, understand that conventions are volunteer run. However, there's no reason they can't learn from the larger pool of experience. In fact, I understand there's a specific convention run for SF convention organizers designed for that very thing. So really, there's no excuse for this crap. Mistakes are great because from mistakes come experience and from experience comes wisdom.

But not if you repeat the same stupid mistake over and over.

One Last Reminder

I'll be in San Antonio today at The Twig Book Store for the Fancy Tea and Fancy Authors event. All the important information is available at the link. Hope to see some of y'all there!

In other news, am still reading Heather Stur's book. It's bringing up some things I'd forgotten. (I was a little kid at the time.) For instance, I remember hearing about Vietnamese women who--desperate for an edge over other women working in the sex industry--filled their breasts with some sort of industrial fluid normally used on cars (my memory says brake fluid but it was probably something else) when they couldn't afford breast implants. (The photos were horrific.) In fact, the first time I ever heard of breast implants was because of these sorts of news stories coming out of Vietnam. Stur's book only mentions the silicone implants. That first chapter (joined with my scattered memories) makes Saigon in the late '60s seem like an awful place to be female and Vietnamese--if you weren't rich. The middle class was wiped out. Mind you, I haven't gotten very far in my reading. War seriously sucks ass. I don't understand why certain corners of the US political world keep talking about starting wars as if it's no big deal. "Diplomacy?! What's that?! Pffft!" [1] Oh, right. Those in power don't have to wade hip deep in it every damned day.

Again, I'm reminded that without a healthy middle class a nation has a great deal of trouble being stable. File that under lessons the US is re-learning. Also, holy crap is imperialism not good for anyone--not long term.

For the record, I voted on November 3rd. I make a point of voting in every election. I'm one of the very few liberals who does, apparently.
[1] Diplomacy, like not using negative reinforcement as a panacea, requires actual hard work, maturity, and thought. It's fucking difficult. I can't wait until USians get out of the "Shouting lies and being stupid is GREAT!" phase. I have hope for an end to it. I do see light at the end of the tunnel. I do. 


This morning, I'll be signing a stack of books and sending them back to the publisher. This is the first time I've done this. It feels all...real author-y. Maybe even a little like a dream as so many things have felt during this journey--as if it's happening to someone else. Ah, Imposter Syndrome. You're so much fun...not. I hear good things are happening at WFC. Once again, I'm sad that I can't make it to a big convention. I hate missing those, but I'm a full time writer and husband and I have only just gotten to where we can pay all the bills and still afford to see movies. (Book money goes to travel. And I've spent this year's earnings on the NYC/UK/Ireland trip.) So, there's that. Still, I feel so happy for those who get to go, and maybe next year will be better. I suspect it will.

This morning's round of links led me to this article on torture. Repeat after me: torture doesn't work. The science of psychology has long proven that negative reinforcement is sketchy in producing desired results, period. We've known this since at least the early days of psychology.[1] Why in the hell do we, humanity, keep insisting on using negative reinforcement in everything from crime reduction to women's sexuality? The article pins it exactly. It's because of punishment/revenge, and this makes those who perceive themselves to be in power feel better. It doesn't solve anything, and in fact, I'd venture to say that it doesn't even make those in power feel better in the long run--yet still it's done. It's stupid. When are we ever going to learn this lesson? When will we learn that revenge and punishment are not luxuries in which humanity can afford to mindlessly indulge? It is not weakness to change behaviors which do not work. It is not weakness to strive against negative emotions and actually do something about our problems. That is strength.
[1] See B.F. Skinner, the Behavioralistsm and Operant Conditioning.

November Events and Other Thoughts

Here we are in Novement already. And I find myself running behind on updating the Events listing on my blog. (Sorry.) That said, there are Things Happening this month. First, there's the Fancy Tea and Fancy Authors event at The Twig Book Shop in San Antonio on the 7th of November. (This coming Saturday at 5pm.) I'm not sure what sorts of fancy dress are encouraged, but I'm fairly certain that anything fun will work. There will be tea. And books. And readings. And well...tea. Martha Wells, myself, Amanda Downum and Joe McDermott will be there. Come have some fun and hear wonderful stories!

Next, I've been invited to read in Seattle at the SFWA Pacific Northwest Reading Series on Tuesday, the 10th of November at 7pm. I'll be at the Wilde Rover Irish Pub and Restaurant along with Jason Hough and Adam Rakunas. The venue looks amazing and I almost wish I were reading from Of Blood and Honey or And Blue Skies from Pain...but I'm not. It'll be Cold Iron or maybe Blackthorne. We'll see. ;)

Meanwhile, in a completely different part of the forest...I've been reading about Madam Nhu. She's an...interesting character and  I'm not entirely sure how I feel about her. On one hand, I can't help feeling that a great deal of negativity was laid upon her by the simple fact that she was a woman in a seat of power. Sure, it didn't help it was the early 1960s, and 2nd Wave Feminism was letting out its first angry roars. Thus, I can't help but feel that a lot of the negativity in the US press was a result of conservative backlash, and America's own issues around gender. At the same time, there are the horrible things she said and did re: Buddhists. [shudder] (Ah, Christianity, thanks so much for your bigotry.) That's something I have a huge, huge issue with. In any's interesting reading.

Which makes me wonder...women probably won't be taken seriously as long as our first and formost association in culture is with sex. As long as we're continually reduced to a sex object/marriage acquisition, we're not going to be permitted our power. Don't get me wrong. I like sex. But as long as the first question that crops up in society at large is "Is she available?" and not "Is she a good doctor/lawyer/writer/artist?" we've got problems.

Things I'm Reading

So, I'm reading Privilege of the Sword by Ellen Kushner and am enjoying it quite a bit. Lady Katherine is a lot of fun. She actually reminds me of myself when I was younger. I really did want to be the knight in the stories. :) I love it. I wish I'd read it a long time ago, frankly, but hey, better late than never.

In the non-fiction section of my reading pile, I'm making my way through Beyond Combat by Heather Marie Stur. It's posing some interesting questions about America and its relationship with Japan and Vietnam. It's interesting seeing the similarities between what was said about the women in both those countries and what is being said today about the women in the Middle East--that the women in question have need of being rescued from their homeland, their men, and even their culture or religious beliefs. That America via the American military needs to charge in like John Wayne with guns a-blazing. It worries me when I discover scripts like that.[1] For me, it's a warning signal. It says that those words are probably being fueled by a system--whether that be oppression or colonialism. Anyway, I've not gotten that far into the book, but it's looking pretty great so far. After I finish Beyond Combat, I planned to read The Girl in the Picture by Denise Chong. Sadly, I didn't notice that it's about Vietnam after the withdrawl. So, that one may wait until after I've done more groundwork reading. That said, I need to find more works from the point of view of Vietnamese people. So far, my research list is centered on the American military aspect of things. Researching The Troubles has made me leary of depending too much upon one point of view. Does anyone have any recommendations?
[1] I call them scripts because that is what they are: pre-written words that have been rehearsed many times before.

Feminist Monday

Sadly, today's link collection isn't all that long. I was focused elsewhere last week. :)

Entertainment/Literary: Filed under the Thing That Would Not Die, GG. SXSW And Gamergate: There Are Not ‘Two Sides’ To Violent Intimidation. ORGANIZER OF CANCELED SXSW PANEL: WE WERE TOLD OUR SECURITY CONCERNS WERE MISPLACED [UPDATED] Frankly, I'm sick to death of the "two sides" argument on bigotry of whatever kind. Supporting oppression is just that. Stop trying to pretend it's anything else. I Dressed Like Cookie for a Week to Get Over My Imposter Syndrome. That article made me smile. When you lack confidence, sometimes it's important to fake it until you make it. Why Are Old Women Often The Face Of Evil In Fairy Tales And Folklore? I <3 Daniel Craig, and this next article illustrates why. Daniel Craig Just Perfectly Slammed Hollywood's Sexist Aging Double Standard.

General: Why the class divide is growing in Northern Ireland’s abortion debate. And now for my favorite holiday's not so wonderful side: Halloween, Racism’s Biggest Party. Here's Why Libertarians Are Mostly Men is kind of a cheat. It doesn't actually state a theory with authority so much as toss out a possibility and then ask the question. I know why. And the possibility stated is why. A majority of women do not have the privilege of pretending that fantasy is a good thing. Me, I figure a lot of white males are into it not only for the reasons stated but because they more than likely have a punk/anarchist streak. Much as I love punk, that's an aspect I do not love and never have.