Gearing Up for the Write-A-Thon

Gearing Up for the Write-A-Thon

The 2009 Clarion West Write-A-Thon is about a month away, I think. Kate sent me an email about it and I talked to some people at WisCon about it and I’m excited all over again.  For those of you who don’t know about this event, I shall quote from previous years:

“…a write-a-thon is a lot like a marathon. Instead of sponsoring me per mile, you sponsor me per week. If I reach my writing goal for the week, you pledge to send a certain amount of money. There are six weeks of write-a-thoning to mirror the six weeks of workshopping at Clarion West.

Also for those who don’t know, Clarion West is a writing workshop in Seattle where 17 students have the opportunity to spend a week with 6 or 7 professional writers and editors to improve their craft.”

I will most likely again be raising money for both Clarion West and the Butler Scholarship.

This year I’ve decided my Write-A-Thon theme will be Finishing Things. I have more than 6 stories in need of minor to intermediate polishing/editing/whathaveyou in order to get them out to markets and selling like hotcakes. It’s disgraceful how long I’ve let some of these linger! No more. I will choose the 6 I like best and each week I will finish one and send it off to some market.

I’ve been thinking about ways to tempt people to pledge. My current idea is that for every story I complete, I will make a small piece of jewelry. Earrings or a bracelet or a necklace. Something I can complete in a day. For everyone who pledges $20/week or a flat $120, maybe I’ll hold a drawing for the jewelry.

Last year my goal was to get $1000 in pledges. Here’s what I wrote about that:

“It breaks down to about $170/week. If 17 people pledge $10/week, I’ll make my goal. If 8 people pledge $20/week, I’ll make my goal. You can also do a flat amount. $60 only if I reach all of my six week goals. Or $100. If 10 people pledge $100… you get the idea.

I’m looking for 8 – 17 people who can do $10 – $20/week or $60 – $100 overall.”

I’ll let that marinate for a bit.

You will hear a lot more about this as the time gets closer (and Clarion West gets their official Write-A-Thon pages up) so don’t worry yet. Right now I’m brainstorming other cool things I can offer people who pledge.

Make Story, Make Song

I know I’ve mentioned before that I’m sharing the Federations TOC with some amazing writers, including my friend Cat Valente. Cat is always doing really amazing stuff with her fiction (you’ve seen me go on and on about S. J. Tucker’s musical contributions before) including finding neat ways to add extra meta stuff to it. For Federations, she created an awesome, awesome mix of music and reading and techno and stuff and you should really listen. Then buy the book!

Merry Month of May

Merry Month of May

At WisCon I was able to quietly sneak away with a copy of the latest Electric Velocipede (issue 17/18!). I was super excited to see it because my story Enmity is contained within. There are also stories by many friends of mine, including two other Altered Fluidians: Mercurio D. Rivera and Matthew Kressel.

I saw John Klima during his brief appearance and got to hug him a lot. Then on Sunday I wore The Shirt. You know, this shirt:

I have it on good authority that The Shirt moved many copies of the zine. (Also, if you are a fan of EV or of shirts or of me, you can get The Shirt on Zazzle and support the zine in the process.)

This May has been especially awesome for me because I had stories in a book and two zines come out this month. Federations, Sybil’s Garage 6, and Electric Velocipede 17/18 — and all of them were available in the dealer’s room. There were also many copies of the Interfictions anthology and all three WisCon Chronicles! I’m in each, and the newest one is especially spiffy with a fantastic cover. Liz Herny is a goddess.

I was feeling very fancy having so many things in the room with my stories and essays in, so I took pictures:

WisCon 33 Dealer's Room of Me - Federations WisCon 33 Dealer's Room of Me - Sybil's Garage

WisCon 33 Dealer's Room of Me - Electric Velocipede

WisCon 33 Dealer's Room of Me - The WisCon Chronicles WisCon 33 Dealer's Room of Me - Interfictions

So I encourage you to order your copy of Sybil’s Garage if I didn’t force it ony ou at WisCon, to buy Federations and WisCon Chronicles vol. 3, to check the Electric Velocipede blog to see when the latest issue will be available for ordering (the copies at WisCon were special advance ones — contributors and subscribers should get theirs soon), and to read, read, read, not just my stories, but all the fabulous stuff in these offerings. May 2009 is a month of awesomeness.

As Promised, My SG-1 Fanfiction

As Promised, My SG-1 Fanfiction

I posted this a couple of years ago on my blog but some folks at the Authorial Intent panel expressed interest in seeing this, so I’m reposting it here. Caveat! It was a first draft, there are silly errors. It’ll most likely be the only draft. But it turned out how I wanted and that’s what mattered to me :)


DANIEL: Most Goa’uld that we’ve encountered that have enslaved ancient human populations have taken on the roles of those cultures’ deities. Ra, Apophis, Hathor from the Egyptian pantheon…

JACK: Yeah, yeah, yeah, we got it.

DANIEL: Well, if these people were already Christians when they were taken from Earth, that suggests this Goa’uld is…is playing…

JACK: God? As in God God? It’s a bit of a stretch, don’t you think?

From “Demons“, Season 3

2000 Years Ago

Joshua heard Simon’s footsteps long before he burst into the room. Through it all he kept eating, talking, smiling, acting as if anything and everything that happened was fine. Even foretold. He had a certain image to project, after all.

“Rocky, you look as if you’ve brought us bad news,” Joshua said while the man at the door caught his breath. Humans were so weak — and weak-willed. That’s what he loved about them. “It was no use running here if it’s going to take you all night to find the air to talk.”

The others’ laughter added the rose of embarrassment to Rocky’s problems, but he rallied tolerably. He always did.

“Master, the agents of the Hidden One decided to move against you. Tonight.”

“Tonight.” He didn’t express it in his voice, but the timing did surprise him. Joshua had figured on several more months, if not years, before they finally got themselves together to deal with him. Contingency plans were in place, but did he have time to set them in motion?

“Yes, Master. The one called Saul met with them. And now…”

Anger rose up in him so quickly he almost let slip a flash of the eyes. It wouldn’t be prudent to pull that little trick with the group so keyed up by this news. He didn’t need any more crap right now, especially with ‘Saul’ now in the mix. Damn that Set, he should have killed him when he had the chance.

“Now, Rocky? Now we eat. And then I will pray. And my Father’s will be done.” He gestured for Rocky to sit and resumed his calm demeanor. The rest of the group returned to eating, still on edge, yet mostly silent. They had learned long ago when to be quiet and do what they were told.

Slowly, the conversation returned to normal. They ate bread and drank wine. It was just like any other night.

After a long enough time, Joshua leaned close to Judas and whispered something to him. Then he leaned back and said loud enough for everyone to hear, “Now go and do what you need to do.”

Judas nodded and left with no hesitation. Not for the first time Joshua was grateful to his brother Thoth for devising the genetic manipulation that gave birth to the Jaffa race.
[Read more…]

My (Long Overdue) Thoughts on the Dollhouse Finale

Over at Fantasy Magazine:

Eliza Dushku has had the opportunity to dazzle us with the range of her acting over the course of this season. She did not. In this final episode she had one more chance to shine. She had a great example before her — Alan Tudyk as Alpha struggling with the different brains in his brain, switching smoothly between them without making it look hammy and overdone. Then he puts a ton of personalities into Echo’s head and Eliza gives us… well, the same vague “kick-ass chick” character she’s been playing for eleven previous episodes. It shouldn’t be a surprise that we never saw her switch between them. There was nothing to switch.

There’s… a lot more. It took me a whole week to write because every time I sat and thought about ti some more I was like, “Oh, and ALSO I hated this! And this!” Watch as I also compare the show to Family Guy and Heroes. Clicky for the fun!

Miss Mary Sue

Miss Mary Sue

I forgot to mention that my first post went up yesterday! All the foc_uing got in the way. This post is just a bit of fun about Mary Sues. I present my stunning thesis that the presence of a Mary Sue in a story does not render said story bad. Veronica and I have had Words over this. So come back me up. The more comments I get, the righter I am and I win the argument by default!

(More) WisCon POC Events

(More) WisCon POC Events

First one is something a lot of people asked for since it was pretty awesome last year.  Second one is something I’ve been wanting to do for months and months, especially since I didn’t follow up with the great ideas from last year. Third most of you know about already.

WisCon POC Meet & Greet

Come hang out with POC WisCon attendees Friday evening — at 5:30 (the dinner break) we’ll gather in the lobby of the Concourse and at 6:05 we’ll depart for a place to hang and talk or a place to eat and hang and talk. All POC are welcome to attend, whether this is your first WisCon (especially if so!) or your 30th or anywhere in-between.

Strategies for Talking Amongst Ourselves Both Online and Off

An informal POC discussion group. It’s no surprise to any person of color paying attention that there are plenty of us who love SF/F/H despite the problematic elements in both the community and the media. But not all of us are connected, even tangentially, to the larger/mainstream community or the satellite POC-specific groups that have formed online and off. How do we better facilitate the dialogue between SF-loving POC who aren’t on LiveJournal (or its clones) or Ning, or Facebook or online at all?

During this gathering I’d like to brainstorm ways to better connect with each other (jumping off of the excellent ideas put forward during last year’s discussion) and put the ideas into action before we quit the room. All POC attending WisCon are invited to attend. Bring your lunch and your laptop (if you’ve got one).

Time: Saturday, 11:30AM – 1PM
Place: Room 634

Meet (and Eat with) the Angry Black Women

All three contributors to will be at WisCon 33. Together for the first time!: K. Tempest Bradford, Nojojojo, and Karnythia. If you’ve ever wanted to meet one or all of us, talk about angry blackness, blogging, or anything else, then come have lunch with us.

When: Sunday, 11:30AM – 1PM

Where: Noodles & Company (short walk from the Concourse) — very top level. Lots of options for vegetarians and meat-eaters

Who: We’d like to keep this part of the unofficial POC-only gig at WisCon. If you identify as POC, bring yourself on over.

What: We’ll just be talkin’ about angry black stuff. Also about guest blogging opportunities in the future and our own personal projects which include new books, new publishing ventures, and new shoes.

Please pass this along to any POC WisCon-goers who may be interested. You can also post to various interested communities or your own blog. There will be flyers at the con.

Because I am fantastically sick of this crap

I’m letting you know now: the LJ crossposting plugins I’ve been using mysteriously are unable to crosspost scheduled posts from my blog. Why? No clue. Some kind of evil.  However, over the next week I will be preparing to go to WisCon, getting to WisCon, and enjoying WisCon. I’m scheduling a lot of posts. I will attempt to come along and force the posts to crosspost maybe, but really the best way to keep up with me for the next two weeks is to subscribe to my feed. (Those of you on FaceBook can see my notes, which are crossposts of the journal and don’t appear to be as full of fail.) The JournalPress developer is working on a scheduled posts fix and maybe that will be out soon. But, until then: feed. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Creative Endeavors in Honor of FOC_U

fen of color unitedSo here’s my thing: RaceFail is… tiresome and anger-making and I’m just as much ready to be done with it as you are. Instead, let’s try for some RaceWin (yes, Sharyn, I’m looking at you). Today we’re going to celebrate the creative efforts of Fen of Color. Fen being the plural of fan (specifically fan of the SF/F/H variety), of Color indicating a broad spectrum of people who mainly do not identify as white. You can have any opinion you like on whether that term is useful, valid, or dumb. For today, hush up, because it’s not about that. It’s about celebrating fans and fandom, writers and writing, vidders and vidding, musicians and musicing.

My contributions are thus: three print stories that live online, each featuring main characters that are of color, and each in some way dealing with issues of race, class, and culture. Sorry not to post them in their entirety in this entry (you wouldn’t want that, anyway, it would be a lot of scrolling!), but, as I said, they all live online.  You are free to comment on them, discuss, even tell me why they suck/I am wrong or whatever you like.

Also a special treat: my first full-length PodCastle story, Change of Life, is now up. Rachel Swirsky kindly posted it a day early to coincide with this event. Change of Life is a fun story that’s an homage to long-ago friendships and my love of animals.

Once you’re done here, check out FOC_U where there should be more links to more stories and poems and essays and creative efforts. If you’ve ever been inclined to think that just because you don’t see a lot of fans or writers of color at a convention that means they don’t exist, this is obviously the day you’re going to get schooled.

ETA: You might also want to spread the word on Twitter with #foc_u. I also just tagged this post foc_u in Delicious, another good way to keep track of links.

Élan Vital (@ Sybil’s Garage)

I helped her past the immaculately landscaped gardens and small orchards.  The scent of flowers, herbs, and fresh-cut grass wafting at us in turn.  I glanced at the garden entrances as we passed by, catching quick glimpses of other people in the middle of visits.  A young couple who’d been in the waiting room with me knelt by a small, bald girl as she splashed in the koi pond.  Two elderly women stood under a weeping willow, their heads close, lips barely moving.  A large group of people speaking Mandarin milled around the waterfall in the rock garden.  I could still hear faint traces of their melodic din all the way down by the lake.

I preferred this spot—the flora was less regimented and more natural.  And no walls.  Just an open space, water gently flicking the shoreline, a beautiful view down the hill, and the occasional cat wandering by.

“This hasn’t changed much,” my mom said as I helped her down on one of the small benches by the water.  “I thought they were going to get ducks or geese or something.”

I chose a nearby rock for my own perch.  “I think they’re having trouble with permits or whatever you need nowadays.”

The wind kicked up, sending freckles of reflected light across her face.  Her skin was still perfect, beautiful and dark brown, though stretched across her cheekbones a little too tight.  I hated that I never had enough to restore her round cheeks and full figure.  I have to look at pictures just to remember her that way.

Until Forgiveness Comes (@ Strange Horizons)

In the twelve years since Red Seteshday, the clerics have perfected the haitai ritual to the point where participants know the script by heart and no longer need much direction on where to go and when. Still, Sadana manages a rotating roster of family members and survivors, reminding them of the correct verses to chant while invoking the highlights of that tragic day. Every year she stands on the memorial dais at the center of the Main Concourse, marking the time for prayers and the time for reading the names of the dead. Even if she weren’t an officiant, Sadana says she would find some way to participate.

“Having something to do gets me through the day every year. It’s my way of honoring Beke.”

She lost her partner of four years that morning. Both seminary students at the time, they were planning to spend their lives serving Iset together. Bekeshe was on her way back to Nubia to spend time with family before her acolyteship began. Every year Sadana watches a faint trace of her stride across the concourse with her bags, searching for the train to the airport, just as the bombing began.

Though the day is painful, Sadana feels that her dual role as mourner and officiant has helped her minister to the families over the years.

“I know exactly how everyone feels. We all lost someone we loved. Had them ripped away by hate. We share a bond.”

The Seventh Reflection (From Thou Shalt Not…archived here)

Clia stood before the large, oval mirror in her room and stared at the reflection. Bone-straight hair–long, shiny and black–a heart-shaped face, perfect button nose, sensual mouth, and wide green eyes. The skin held no blemish and no imperfection–not too dark, but not too light. An elegant neck; firm, round breasts; smooth, flat stomach; curvy hips; long, muscular legs tapering toward the floor and ending at the bottom of the mirror.

“Yes, this is what I want,” Clia said. Her mouth moved. The reflection’s did not.

Are you ready to gather what I need?

“Yes. It’ll take a few days, though.”

I have nothing but time. The reflection shimmered away, replaced by an image of what Clia looked like in every other mirror.

She did not often look at mirrors.

Fen of Color United

Spreading the word about this, but apologies if you’ve seen it on your feedreader/f-list already. Repost as desired!

As RaceFail 09 continues, it has become clear that there are those who are hellbent on marginalizing and silencing people of color. In the past few months, minorities have been denigrated by bigoted authors and publishers who have also asserted that Fen of Color are rare and pratically non-existent. Despite numerous discussions and attempts to enlighten on the fact that POCs are fans, writers, artists and just as integral to this genre as our white counterparts, we are continuously dismissed.

On Monday May 18, 2009, we are asking anyone who identifies as a POC/non-white to post this banner, their speculative short stories, artwork, poetry or simply write a post on their favorite fandom on their blogs as an act of protest to show we will not be silent or invisible. The day of protest is entitled Fen Of Color United or more aptly, FOC_U.

White allies can also show solidarity for this event by posting this banner and expressing the need for diversity  and speaking out against the bigotry in the genre, through posts and/or their creative work as well.

In addition, a new community entitled FOC_U has been created. It’s designed to be  a safespace for POCs/non-whites and white allies to discuss the issues pertaining to RaceFail and a place to counteract its destructive effects. And it’s also a fun place for everyone to also discuss their favorite fandoms. While memberships and posts are under moderation for the time being (until the community gets more established and input is welcomed), everyone is encouraged to join and make this a home.

You can help out by spreading the word and reposting this banner on your personal blog or creating one of your own if you’d like.

The gauntlet’s been thrown and I for one think it’s past time for us to take a stand and let our voices be heard, whether some people want to hear them or not.

If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to contact me personally or stop by FOC_U.

Tor Books: A Perspective

Tor Books: A Perspective

That bit of RaceFail I pointed to the other day in my open letter to Bujold has led to some good things (discussion, increased visibility, less foolishness) but has also re-animated the notion of just boycotting Tor Books and having done with it. This latest thing got started on by a Tor author after all.  Just another in a long line of disappointment coming from that particular corner of the world.

But I’d like to point something out.

Before I do, I’m going to mention the following things which may have some bearing on how you feel about what I’m going to say.  First, my blogging gig for starts this week (tomorrow, maybe, still need to polish that post). Second, Patrick Nielsen Hayden was one of my Clarion instructors. Third, I’ve been friends or acquaintances with various Tor editors (current and former) for many years now, including some involved with RaceFail. Fourth, a lot of my good friends are Tor authors.

That all said, I also have a lot of friends who are published by Tor’s competition and I have plenty of friends who work for Tor’s competition. Other than my blogging gig, I have no personal stake in Tor — no book of my own coming out, no book deal on the horizon. So that’s out of the way.

Here’s my thing about boycotting Tor: I don’t think it’s  good idea. I understand and fully respect the reasons why people want to do it.  That anger you feel about this shit going on? I feel it, too. You know I do.  However, refusing to buy all Tor books all the time doesn’t take a few key things into account.

Mainly that the editors involved in RaceFail are not all of the editors at Tor. Many of them are senior, have been at the company a long time, etc. but are not the ultimate and final gatekeepers of anything. The reason you don’t know about or hear from a lot of the others is that they either don’t have huge online presences (or any) or they are online but wisely do not perpetrate fail on a massive scale.

Some of these editors you don’t hear about or from are long-time employees or senior editors. Many of them are around my age, some younger, and there are always assistant editors around, too. Their ideas and ideals are probably in line with yours — I know for a fact some of them are. These are the editors at Tor that I care about. Whether they stay on at Tor forever and eventually become the senior editors in charge of everything or move on to other publishing companies, they are the future (if you’ll pardon the corny sentiment).

And, like I said, they have more sense than to engage in RaceFail activities. They’re off looking for good books to publish, instead.

The Tor editors and authors whose names keep cropping up in RaceFail are already associated with each other in my mind since they all seem to be part of a similar grouping. (Most of them.)  A lot are old school, a lot are fen. Also, a lot of these folks have known each other a long time. There’s nothing wrong with any of those things.  It’s just a marker that may indicate some similarities of thought, experience, and behavior. It’s not a good idea to assume that all or even most of the editors at Tor are old school fen who only publish old school fen.

On the author side of things, boycotting Tor books means not buying a lot of great fiction by POC or by authors who not only stood on our side during RaceFail but try to and succeed in creating fiction that reflects what they feel about race and culture and the importance of not erasing us from SFnal or fantasy worlds. These books and authors may not be in the majority. There aren’t any major publishers where they are, I think. And what do we do in the wider world where that’s true? We support those authors we can get behind and tell other people to as well.

A little while ago I talked bout making lists and why it’s important to do so. I still think so. Make a list, if you need to, of authors and editors who’ve disappointed or angered you. But also make a list of authors you want to support and support so hard those editors–regardless of their shortcomings–cannot ignore.

So that’s my perspective. I won’t say do not boycott Tor because the reasons for doing so are valid. The reasons for not doing so are valid, too. I am going to continue to support the Tor authors I feel are worth supporting, I’m going to continue in my friendships with Tor editors I think are awesome. All while recognizing that there is a lot some people need to answer for. But that’s everywhere. At least in this instance I feel there is enough good to counterbalance and eventually erase the bad.

POC SF Fans Represent

POC SF Fans Represent

A rare open post on DeadBro:

Let’s make it really clear, people. If you identify as a POC/nonwhite person and you read or watch scifi or fantasy, give yourself a name check in this thread. I am particularly wanting shoutouts from people who do not live in the US and who have still managed to read genre fiction. 

I’m tired of people trying to render us invisible unless they have been given a memo about our existences.

The comments on this one are already 13 or more pages deep.  

It’s been amazing to see the diversity of people on that thread, not to mention the sheer numbers. Also great to see–as Delux mentioned–how many people are saying their parents or other family got them into SF and are/were geeks/fans themselves.

Go and be counted. Oh, also, go join the Carl Brandon Society. That would be a community and organization for SF/F/H fans of color (and their allies).

Dear Lois McMaster Bujold

Dear Lois McMaster Bujold

I have a lot of respect for you as a writer and as a person. Though we have only met a few times, we have many acquaintance in common, and those acquaintance value you as a friend and as a critical thinker. That all being said, perhaps it’s time for you to step back from the current conversation and just not say anything for a while. Listening would be good, but really just stop talking for a bit, because you are not helping anyone at this point in time.

Just some friendly advice.


All My Mothers

Last year on Mother’s Day I posted about how all of my mothers are now gone. My own mother, Marjorie T. Bradford, passed away ten years ago (it doesn’t feel that long ago), my maternal grandmother, Anna Ree Tidmore, passed away just before my birthday last year, my fraternal grandmother, Genevieve Bell, passed away when I was a little kid, and my mother’s mother’s mother, Katie Bell Rembert, passed away when I was just 3.

Ever since my mother died I’ve done my best to ignore Mother’s Day for my own sanity.  I can’t completely, though, because there are many mothers in my life. Many of whom I love and admire a lot for how awesome they are as mothers and how awesome they are in general. I’m especially partial to my friends who have daughters, because it makes me think of me and my mom — she was my favorite person in the world even when I didn’t always show it. It makes me so happy to see that in a lot of the mother/daughter relationships my friends have. I see all their beautiful girls growing up into strong, intelligent, independent young ladies and I am so jealous of them.  I want to tell them to cling to their moms as tightly as possible for as long as they can, because there’s no guarantee they’ll be there forever.

This year I decided to not ignore Mother’s Day and instead offer up one last gift to my mom: my story, Élan Vital, from Sybil’s Garage #6 is now live on the Senses Five website as a special preview for the zine (out by WisCon!). Matt Kressel and I thought it would make a nice Mother’s Day promotion. Go read and then go hug your mom for me :)

Tidmore Family Portrait