Description and the Other Sirens

I’m Teaching A Writing Intensive at Sirens Studio 2018

Four years ago I attended the Sirens conference for the first time and fell right in love with it. You can read a little about my experience here. The theme that year: Reunion. It was Siren’s 5th year and they were celebrating the fact that in those years a small but potent community had grown up around the conference.

I didn’t get to go to Sirens in 2014 or 2015 for financial reasons – it can be an expensive event – but in 2016 I got a scholarship to attend and this year I financed it in part via Patreon. I wanted to be there to celebrate my friends Kiini Ibura Salaam (one of last year’s guests of honor) and N. K. Jemisin (one of this year’s GoHs). And I missed that little but potent community of awesome people.

Next year, I get to go back! I’ve been invited to be a part of the Writing faculty for Sirens Studio, a workshop that takes place in the days right before the main conference starts. My workshop will be on description and writing inclusive fiction:

After characterization, the aspect of craft writers who aim to create inclusive, representational fiction are most anxious to get right is description. This can be particularly difficult for fantasy and science fiction authors, who must sometimes describe types of people who don’t yet exist. In this intensive we’ll use writing exercises to explore and practice the art of description, talk about bias language, and dismantle the idea of exposition as the enemy of good writing. There will be a mix of lecture, discussion, and exercises, and all participants will leave with a set of resources for further practice and deeper understanding.

I’m so pleased I get to go back, especially because next year’s theme is, once again, Reunion. This time it really will be a reunion for me. I’m also very excited about the guests of honor: Zen Cho, Kameron Hurley, Anna-Marie McLemore, and Leigh Bardugo. It’s going to be awesome.

If you are thinking about coming to Sirens, think harder! It’s still a small conference – this year they broke all previous records by having about 225 people all told – and it’s still more in the academic conference mold than the SF convention one. That’s what makes it great. There’s a concentrated amount of programming, there are panels and discussions and presentations, the attendees are all smart and love reading, and it isn’t primarily about writing and writers, it’s about reading and readers. If you love books, if you love fantasy, if you love fantasy books written by women, then then you will love Sirens. And you should come. Registration is open. See you there.

WX Cruise Caribbean boat

Why You Should Attend The Writing Excuses Cruise & Help Others Do So As Well

This week the fine folks at the Writing Excuses podcast announced the next cruise and retreat. In 2018 I’m joining the team as an instructor alongside Amal El-Mohtar, Maurice Broaddus, Piper J. Drake, Valynne E. Maetani & more. The workshop starts on 9/22 in Houston, and the cruise sails from Galveston, TX and goes to Roatan, Honduras, Belize City, Belize, and Cozumel, Mexico before docking again on 9/30. It’s going to be a fabulous trip and I’m very much looking forward to it.

Before I tell you why I’m so excited for this based on my experiences over the past couple of years, I want to ask for your help with something. Every year, alumni of the Writing Excuses retreats raise funds for a full ride scholarship to the cruise. This is in addition to a scholarship funded by supporters of the Writing Excuses Patreon (the $20/month level). The more money they raise, the more people who can’t afford this cruise get the opportunity to experience this. Please consider donating to the Alumni fund before December 15th, or giving ongoing support via Patreon. I’ll give details on how to do that at the bottom of this post.

But first, let me tell you why I think going on this cruise is an awesome opportunity for writers.

I first came on the cruise back in 2016 when I was invited to be a staff member. That year we sailed around the Caribbean, and it was my first time on a cruise ship. The nature of cruises like the one we took is that we only spent a few hours on each island, and so there wasn’t much time for seeing more than one thing and certainly not enough time to get a real sense of the place.

WX Cruise Caribbean zoo

That said, having one distinct experience in each place, getting some time in places I’d never been, being exposed to even the slightest hint of something outside of my life, was powerful. It made me want to have more time, to visit the places for real. But I also appreciated those few hours floating in clear, warm ocean water and allowing myself to just be and breathe and listen.

WX Cruise Caribbean beach

This year’s cruise was very different. We went to the Baltic sea with stops in Sweden and Denmark and Estonia and Russia. There were no beaches! But with each city there was time enough to again have a distinct, capsule experience.

WX Cruise St Petersberg

And it was on this trip that I discovered how even a small amount of time in a place can provide inspiration for my writing and fodder for my creativity. I talked about this in episode 13 of ORIGINality (skip to the 1 hour mark for the stuff on this trip in particular). I was able to turn experiences I had in Europe into useful reference points for the novel I’m writing set in Egypt. And I know down the line the places I’ve been will bubble up in some other way. Everything one does can benefit ones writing.

WX Cruise Stockholm

Beyond that, the cruise instructors all offer classes, there are critique groups and other workshops, the chances for one-on-one discussions with amazing authors, editors, agents. There’s networking and craft working and skill building and the opportunity to get to know some amazing people. I have felt so very lucky to be part of it the last two years and to get to be part of it going forward.

I want more people to have the opportunity to be part of it. And so I’m asking that if you have $5 to spare or $10 or $20, please donate to the alumni scholarship fund. You can donate via PayPal to wxralumscholar@gmail.com by December 15th. If you donate via credit card, please mark it as a gift and not as for a good or service, so they won’t be charged a fee. If you really hate PayPal, email that address and they’ll work something out with you.

If you have $20 a a month to spend, consider supporting the scholarship through the WX Patreon. You get cool extras if you do.

And if you’re a person who would love to come on the cruise and would benefit from it but cannot afford it, keep an eye out for when the scholarship applications open. It’ll be announced on the Writing Excuses website, social media, etc.

Finally, if you’re a writer and you can afford the time and price of the cruise, please join us! I have no doubt this year is going to be as wonderful as the last two. The ports we’re visiting have the potential to offer inspiration or relaxation, and the instructors are going to teach you amazing stuff.

Come on a boat!

Tempest in front of Surel's Place sign

My November Writing Residency Starts Now! (+ Events)

As previously mentioned, I am the writer-in-residence at Surel’s Place this month. My residency officially starts on the 6th, but I slipped in yesterday so I could get settled while the local artist pop-up shop event is happening. I’m already in love with this house and I know I’m going to get a bunch of work done while I’m here. And since I spent the last month researching, my creative well is super full. I’m ready for this.

While I’m here in Idaho I’m taking part in a few events.

Workshop: Crafting Characters Who Aren’t Like You

When: Saturday, November 18th 1:00pm–4:00pm

Where: Surel’s Place, Garden City, ID

$10 Registration Fee, click here for Full Description and Tickets (There are scholarships available, just email info@surelsplace.org)


Reading: Pyramids and Punk

When: Thursday, November 30th

Where: Surel’s Place, Garden City, ID

Free and open to the public

Doors at 6:30pm | 7pm reading, Q&A follows


On Friday, December 1 I’m reading as part of Garden City’s First Friday events, details to come.

I’m also working with the local NaNoWriMo community liaison to do a write-in here at the residency house. If you’re local and part of NaNo, that information will be posted on the local board.

Me with the steampunk scarab necklace I got for the con

My AnomalyCon Schedule

I’m one of the guests at AnomalyCon this year! If you’re in the greater Denver area, get on down to the con. If you’re already attending the con: hooray! Come find me.

The Source of Our Power | Fri 6pm in Mesa Verde A

Writing a story is one thing, but writing serial novels and then maintaining an audience and a relationship with that audience takes a lot of energy. Successful authors talk about the source of their (seemingly) endless reserves.

Panelists: Ken Liu, K. Tempest Bradford, Wesley Chu

Social Linguistics | Fri 7pm in Mesa Verde A

Words are created, coopted, morph in meaning, become empowering or divisive. A discussion on the evolution of the meaning of words through their social use, as well as the development of colloquiallism.

Panelists: S. Dunn, K. Tempest Bradford, Ekaterina Sedia

Defense Against the Dark Arts | Fri 9pm in Windstar

Being an activist, or sometimes just being a marginalized person who exists on the internet, or even writing a character the fans don’t expect, can result in a lot of harassment and online backlash that might even creep into your personal life. A discussion of how to protect yourself and your family as much as possible.

Panelists: A Milton Davis, K. Tempest Bradford, Tanya DePass, N. Lightfoot

Technology in Fiction | Sat 10am in Mesa Verde A

We’ve all seen those movies with implausible computers, old tech in a new age, etc. Join us as we discuss how to write believable technology, even if you’re not a techie yourself.

Panelists: K. Tempest Bradford, S. Dunn, K. Major, N. Lightfoot

The Best Science Fiction In The World | Sat 12pm in Mesa Verde A

Science Fiction is bigger than its founders ever imagined, and there’s so much out there. We talk about our favorites: the guilty pleasures, the big inspirations, and the things you should be reading or watching.

Panelists: K. Tempest Bradford, Ken Liu, Seanan McGuire, C. Kemp

Is it Possible to Like Problematic Things? | Sat 1pm in Wind River B

Tale as old as time. Something comes out in one of our favorite fandoms, but the author appropriated a culture or left out any diversity or filled the story with fridging tropes. Is it possible to enjoy but engage? A discussion that should be approached only after attendees have read K. Tempest Bradford’s 101 series.

Panelists: K. Tempest Bradford, S. Glassman

What’s So Funny? | Sat 2pm in Mesa Verde C

Humor is a coping mechanism, but it’s also a vital mechanic of fiction. Our authors talk about humor, and it’s sure to be a lark.

Panelists: K. Tempest Bradford, Milton Davis, S. Dunn

We Need Diverse Books | Sat 3pm in Mesa Verde C

You’ve been reading white authors all your life. Maybe you don’t even think about it. But you need to get your hands on these great and diverse stories.

Panelists: K. Tempest Bradford, Zetta Elliott, A. Howard

AnomalyCon Celebrity Tea Duel | Sat 5pm on the 12th Floor

The grandest excitement on stage! Our biggest guests battle each other for the best cuppa!

Hell Hath No Fury | Sat 7pm in Wind River A

Ways to impede, motivate, change and inspire female characters (that aren’t rape tropes).

Panelists: Seanan McGuire, K. Tempest Bradford, T.L. Morganfield

Queer Identities After the Apocalypse | Sat 8pm in Wind River B

Trans healthcare and queer reproductive choices in post-apocalyptic worlds, even if the topic is a little close to home.

Panelists: D. Edwards, S. Glassman, K. Tempest Bradford

The Messiah/Hero Complex | Sun 11am in Mesa Verde A

Many stories, video games, and legends revolve around the idea of a young “chosen one” who is going to progress through the hero’s journey regardless of what they do to get there. How much of that story is wrapped up in Christianity embedded in our Western storytelling? What storytelling goes beyond this timeless trope?

Panelists: Stant Litore, Tanya DePass, K. Tempest Bradford, A. Brooks

 

Tempest at the Ocean

Where to Find Tempest in 2017

My Tempest World Tour continues, and this time it actually includes more world, I promise!

I’m heading back to Portland, OR, in March to stay for several months. Though, as you’ll see, I won’t actually be there much in March. This summer I’ll likely then spend a few months in Seattle. Once fall rolls around I’ll be looking for a warm weather place t spend the rest of the year.

AnomalyCon March 17 – 19th, Denver, CO

I am going to be a guest at AnomalyCon in March! I’m very, very excited out this. My first time as a guest at a steampunk con.

I’ve had a peek at the program schedule and it is PACKED with good stuff. And the other guests? Soooooo many amazing people I really look forward to seeing: Milton Davis, Tanya DePass, Zetta Elliott, Stant Litore, Ken Liu, Seanan McGuire, Ekaterina Sedia, and a bunch of other folks I’m looking forward to meeting for the first time.

By the time the con comes around I may even be ready to offer the attendees a sneak peek of the steampunk novel I’m in the midst of writing. If you’re dying to get a glimpse of it now there will be a post coming up about that later this week.

International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts March 22 – 26th, Orlando, FL

Right after AnomalyCon I’m off to Florida for ICFA. I plan to be around town for about a week after ICFA, so if you Orlando peeps wanna get together, ping me now.

WisCon 41 May 26 – 29th, Madison, WI

This year I’m helping to coordinate the POC Dinner and POC Safer Space. More deets to come!

Writing Excuses Workshop and Retreat (& Cruise!) July 28 – August 5th, 2017  + WorldCon August 9 – 13th, Helsinki

I will once again take part in the Out of Excuses cruise. I had a fabulous time last year (I should have blogged about it… more blogs, my first Resolution) and anticipate an even better time this year.

This cruise is a European one and timed so that if you’re going to WorldCon in Helsinki you can go from the boat to the con with a few days in-between to catch your breath and take your time getting there. And yeah, I’ll be at WorldCon, too.

I am not one of the official instructors at the workshop, though I may do a breakout session and put in some one-on-one time. The real reason to go is the amazing lineup of authors and editors and agents, which includes Ken Liu and Aliette de Bodard and Desiree Burch and a bunch of other fancy people. The way the cruise is structured, there will be plenty of time for conversation and writing together and some fun offshore excursions.

You can check out all the details on the registration page. It does cost some money. There will be scholarships this year as there have been in the past. Details on that are coming, I believe. I’ll update y’all (I promise… I do!).

If you can’t do the cruise but are coming to WorldCon, let me know. I have no set plans at the moment, don’t even know if I’m going to be on programming. We have some time to work it out.

After WorldCon I could be persuaded to hang around in Europe if anyone is dying to have me as a houseguest. ;)

This is all the stuff that’s confirmed so far. I also really want to go to Sirens and am heavy planning on it, but that’s not set in stone yet.

How many of you will I get to see this year?

wiscon

Find A Tempest @ WisCon 40!

The WisCon Feminist Science Fiction Convention is coming up this week and I am all up in it. I’m on a ton of amazing panels, I’m organizing a bunch of things, and I aim ready to have a good time.

However, I do want to direct people to this blog post from a year ago about microaggressions and WisCon I feel like it’s important to bring up again ahead of the con.

I also want to send a signal flare up to the POC and Native folk coming to the con: Are you aware we have activites at WisCon just for us? If you aren’t, ping me. I’ll give you all the deets[1].

Okay so…. this year I’m one of the Program department deputies and so I put myself on too many panels. As always… Here’s my schedule:

AMA with GOHs (aka Ask Me Anything Live with the Guests of Honor) | moderator

Sat 10:00 – 11:15AM | Capitol A

Have a question for Guests of Honor Sofia Samatar, Justine Larbalestier, or Nalo Hopkinson about writing craft, writing life, or their fiction? Come to this Ask Me Anything session with your questions!

#KeepYAKind and Other Nice Tools of the Oppressor | moderator

Sat 1:00 – 2:15PM | Assembly

There is always a point in the midst of heated Internet discussions where someone lifts their voice to make a call for Kindness, Niceness, Civility, or any other adjacent concept. These calls often go up when the issue at hand concerns an individual with privilege being called out by folks with significantly less privilege or cultural power. And Kind, Nice, and Civil become synonyms for Keep Your Mouth Shut. When this happens again, what tools can we use to dismantle this toxic dynamic and get back to the core matter? Are there secret code words we can deploy to neutralize the terms?

Panelists: Becky Allen, Betsy Haibel, Justine Larbalestier, Mark Oshiro[2]

Podcasts for Beginners | moderator

Sat 4:00 – 5:15PM | Conference 1

So you want to start a podcast. You have a computer, a mic, and Skype. What else do you need? What does good editing software cost? Where’s the best place to host? How do you get your podcast listed in all the right places? A panel of seasoned podcasters is ready to answer your questions, give great advice, and probably pop their Ps.

Panelists: Tanya D., Keffy R. M. Kehrli, JP Fairfield

Analog and Digital Writing Tools[3] | moderator

Sun 8:30 – 9:45AM | Conference 1

Writers, bring your favorite writing tools—laptop, tablet, quill, or steam-fueled ideatron—and share the pros and cons of your favored method of writing with others! We’ll talk software, hardware, analogware, old-fashioned methods as well as new. If you’re willing to share your beloved your writing gear, others may be eager to give them a try.

Panelists: Dylan Moonfire, Kristine Smith

Afrofuturist Narratives Outside Of Literature | moderator

Sun 10:00 – 11:15AM | Capitol A

Janelle Monae’s albums tell the story of the android Cindi Mayweather, fugitive and freedom fighter. Sun-Ra explored the past and future of Africans and people of the diaspora through music, poetry, and film. Nick Cave’s Soundsuits evoke the strangeness of aliens while drawing on multiple cultural traditions around sound, dance, and design. Let’s explore the different mediums in which afrofuturist artists are expressing and engaging with the future, blackness, and art.

Panelists: Bill Campbell, Nalo Hopkinson[4]

SIX SEASON SERIES BASED ON THE THREE-PART TRILOGY BASED ON THE SINGLE BOOK OF THE NOT ANOTHER F*CKING RACE PANEL | Vanna White

Sun 4:00 – 5:15PM | Wisconsin

The eighth installment of this popular and amazing panel! Writers of color working in F/SF face unique challenges, it’s true. But, at the end of the day, being a “person of color” is only one aspect of what makes up our identities as writers. While it’s very flattering to be asked to be on panels, most of these panels never crack the ceiling of Race 101. With that in mind, wouldn’t it be nice for multiple writers and fans of color to sit on a panel that isn’t about race at all? Here’s our chance to do just that. So, what are we gonna talk about, instead? Practically anything! Presented in game show format, SIX SEASON SERIES BASED ON THE THREE-PART TRILOGY BASED ON THE SINGLE BOOK OF THE NOT ANOTHER F*CKING RACE PANEL brings together writers and fans of color to get their geek on about any number of pop culture topics—none of them race related.

Panelists: Jackie Gross (ladyjax), Sumana (brainwane) Harihareswara, Nalo Hopkinson, Emily Jiang, Michi Trota


I didn’t start out moderating all of these panels, then somehow I was moderating them all….

Come to my panels, go to the many other amazing panels on the schedule, go to the readings, come to the speeches. I’m telling you, it’s going to be fabulous this year.

 

Footnotes

  1. Not giving all the deets here because racist trolls sometimes comes by and have feelings about the stuff we do.[]
  2. Can we talk for a second about how stoked I am to be on a panel with these people? Because I so am.[]
  3. Or, as I like to call it: The Write Gear live[]
  4. Yaaaaaaaaaaaallllll these panelists[]