Fiction n’ Things

Fiction: The Plagiarist by Alex Rose.  Very interesting piece this week.

Thing: In case you hadn’t noticed, we’re back to doing an author spotlight for every story that goes up.  The lovely Ellen B. Wright has been in charge of those and is doing an excellent job of taking them beyond the standard questions I’d been asking before.  Very interesting stuff, particularly from this week’s author.

Fiction: Nine Sundays in a Row by Kris Dikeman. Fellow Altered Fluidian Kris has a story up at Strange Horizons this week. Check it out.

Thing: I just said “oh noes” on national radio.

Some Friendly Advice

Some Friendly Advice

All you authors out there, we need to have a talk.  Sit down.

Tell me, if someone were to Google your name, or the name you write under, right now, would they be able to find you?  Would your website come up on the first page of hits?  Do you even have a website?  No, I am not talking about your LJ, I am talking about a website.  A place where people can find out where you’ve been published, what is coming up, maybe a little bit about you?  No?  No, no, no on all counts?

Then you FAIL, author.

Look, I understand that not everyone is all about being all up in the internet and revealing their whole lives all the time.  I really get that.  However, if you plan to sell some stories and make a name for yourself, you need to be out there a little bit.  You need to have some kind of web presence, even if it’s just a very simple group of pages that list your published works and maybe your favorite soup recipe.  There needs to be a way for people who enjoy your work to keep up with you and maybe read more of your stories.  You need to have a presence on the damn internet.

And no, LiveJournal is not enough.  Because LiveJournal or any other social networking site — Facebook, MySpace, whatever — is generally only useful to those already on it.  People who are just on the internet, or just looking for some casual information, or just looking to read more by you, are not interested in your LJ.  Not that they aren’t interested in journals or blogs, but they want something that feels open, inviting, and not like they have to have a password or be a part of a community.

So, I will say it again: Get a website.  Seriously.  If you have sold one story or five or however many, you need a website.

I just spent several minutes trying to track down the contact info for about 7 authors and 5 of them did not have a website or just had an LJ.  A lot of them had distinctive names, yet show up no where on Google.  No  No, no, a thousand times no.

Go get one now.  (Or find someone willing to make you one.  I know several people who charge reasonable rates.)

*stomps foot* I Still Want Scrivener… but I am willing to settle

*stomps foot* I Still Want Scrivener... but I am willing to settle

Seriously, my need for Scrivener is growing every day.  But as there is no hope on the horizon for those of us with PC or Linux, I am seeking other alternatives.  There isn’t much out there for Linux, which is the OS I really need it for.  I do most of my writing on the eeepc and prefer something that will work on that to something for windows.  I am also not interested in emulators.  Well, scratch that–if a Mac emulator for Linux that worked was available, I would consider it.  But emulators generally make me break out in hives.

I tried Writer’s Cafe for a while, but there is no atual word proessor within the program and that made it not as useful.  And then at one point it lost a bunch of my data–I was done.

It occurred to me that there might be creative ways to use OpenOffice to get what I need.  Essentially, I have a lot of information that I need to access quickly as I write — research notes and websites and names of things and some outline stuff.  I need it organized in a good way so it’s easy to enter and find.  I need it to me on my local disk cuz I can’t always get to the web and don’t always want to.  I think notecards are awesome.

So, I need some organization advice, I guess.  What is the best way to gather together all these disparate things in a computer environment that keeps the information I need handy so I don’t have to pause too long and get more writing done?

I’m melting, meltiiiiiinnnnnggggg

I'm melting, meltiiiiiinnnnnggggg

Working for a living is no fun.

Well, it is a little fun.  But my new job is very intense and takes up a lot of time.  It won’t always, but right now there are many Things To Do and I am doing many of them.

Why am I whining about this?  Mainly because, due to this, I have less time to do things for Fantasy that I want to, including doing interviews of authors, actors, producers, etcetc.  Yes, we are starting to do interviews of folks in the wider media now.  And as much as I would like to get on the phone with Robert Picardo and ask hm what Kate Mulgrew is really like, I just do not have the time.

So, if anyone out there is interested in doing some interviews for Fantasy, email me asap.  If you don’t have a lot of experience, don’t worry, I’ll assign you to the easier ones (author spotlights and artist profiles all start out with the same questions, then I’ll guide you through how I go about doing follow-ups based on them.  It’s not hard to learn, you just have to be interested).  If you have some or a lot of experience, then I’ll let you loose on authors and actors and such depending on your areas of interest and knowledge.

Gmail address: fantastictempest.  Subject: Interviewer Applicant.  In the body of the email just let me know if you have experience, if you’re more comfortable doing email, phone, or instant message interviews, and links to stuff you’ve done, if applicable.

We don’t pay interviewers (or anyone else) so I am indeed interested in folks who are looking to build up experience.  You have to start somewhere, and I do have time to give guidance and advice and editorial oversight so that you’re not just flailing in the wind.

Two Separate But Related Issues, Two Separate But Related Posts #2

Two Separate But Related Issues, Two Separate But Related Posts #2

The related post I promised.  (Also part of IBARW) To recap, Ashok Banker posted about problems of bigotry is SF/F field.  Said some very interesting and insightful things.  He also quoted me, Tobias Buckell, N K Jemisin, and Micole talking about the Sanders thing and bigotry in general.  He agrees with us, but has a quibble about our methodology:

Other American SF writers like K. Tempest Bradford have admitted that such bias exists, and have spoken out against it. Although their rants are invariably tempered with mention of the two or three SF editors they know and are working with who are definitely not racist or biased, because, how could they be, if they’re working with them? Punches are pulled, no doubt about it. And nobody seems to have the balls to really call a spade a spade–or, to use a less unfortunate turn of phrase, a white lily a white lily.

[…]

Writers like Bradford, Buckell, and others who have spoken out against racism are always cautious to do so in small measures, focussing their ire, often disproportionately, on individual cases like Sanders of Helix Magazine. This is understandable. These writers want to make a living in that field, and are undoubtedly afraid of antagonizing people they work with on a daily basis, or people they hope to work with someday.

No doubt, they also haven’t seen such bias openly exhibited by those fellow professionals and colleagues–not yet.

In a later response to me in comments (which I’ll post in full, below, as the first comment) Ashok went on to say:

I not only feel you pull your punches, I feel you don’t have the guts to name names and kick ass when it’s warranted, and the very fact that you’re still working within the field and associated with other professionals whom even you admit could be bigotted or racist or sexist in private, shows your naivete.

Just two weeks ago I had someone tell me that I go too far and write “crazy” things whenever I post about bigotry in the field. Also that if I would just moderate my tone a bit, people would listen to me.  The person in question was white, Ashok is a POC.  So essentially I’m too angry for one group and not angry enough for another.

I’m unsure how to feel about being the moderate here.  It’s so not me.

I have two reasons for bringing this up.  One is to record the exchange Ashok and I had on his blog, since the comments got shut down (yet were quoted from).  But the more important one pertains to the different ways people view what I and other anti-racist activists in SF do and how effective it is.

Most POC and women have experienced the phenomenon of pointing out some instance of racism or sexism and being dismissed, then having a white person or a man come along, say the exact same thing we just said, and receiving not only credit for pointing it out, but a positive reaction. Or, even more fun, being told that people would listen to us if only we were less shrill or angry (or other gendered or race-based adjectives) about it all. “Look at [white person and/or man]!” they say.  “He doesn’t go off the rails like you do!”

This is an oft-used tactic to dismiss what the POC or woman has to say, as Naamen educated us on in this post.  I mean, why be all angry about bigotry, particularly that’s directed at you?  Be sensible, polite, and reasonable about it so as to make the bigot comfortable, right?

If you buy that, stop reading right now.  In fact, let’s not talk to each other again until you’ve gotten rid of that notion, okay?  Because, seriously, the comfort of the bigot is not my concern, neither should it be yours.

I and other POC get this all the time from… well, I’ll let you guess.

As a friend recently had to point out to someone: yes, the word racist or sexist or bigot or related is very much a strong word that should not be tossed around lightly.  We know that.  Boy do we know it.  That does not mean we should hesitate to use it when that is what is going on.  No matter how twitchy that makes you, especially if the you is a person to whom a particular stripe of bigotry is not aimed. I’ve mentioned this before.

Even if you are a person who has experienced one kind of bigotry (for example: sexism but not racism) that does not mean you are completely immune to ignorance of how a particular bigotry works for other people. If you’re a white woman, even a feminist white woman who works hard for tolerance, you can still engage in or be blind to racism, unwittingly or not.   And one manifestation of that is by claiming you can’t listen to an aggrieved party because of their tone.

I’m used to that aspect of the discussion, but not so much used to the other side, wherein I am not being tough enough on the SF/F field. I’m not entirely sure what more I could say, what language I could use to make my issues with the racism and sexism of particular people and parts of the whole community clearer.  It’s certainly not easy for any author to say, “This editor and/or person in power is a bigot/engages in bigoted language or actions,” especially if the author is or hopes to work with that person. Because unless the author in question is a white man (and sometimes even if) there are repercussions.

Ashok points out in his post that he doesn’t care about or want to be published in any American markets or with American publishers, thus he can say what he wants.  That’s fine.  But I don’t think it’s at all fair to dismiss those of us who do as being too afraid to speak out.  I can’t speak for Tobias or anyone else, but I am certainly not afraid to call a spade a spade, just ask Gordon van Gelder or Ron Moore.  I suspect that Tobias isn’t, either, nor are other authors of color in this genre.  Major example right here.

What you think of this push and pull?  Do I and other authors who speak out about racism, sexism, and other bigotry in SF go too far or not far enough?  Am I the moderate here?  (scary…)

Table of contents for Two Separate Issues

  1. Two Separate But Related Issues, Two Separate But Related Posts #1
  2. Two Separate But Related Issues, Two Separate But Related Posts #2

Two Separate But Related Issues, Two Separate But Related Posts #1

In response to some of the discussion in the magazines that want more diversity post and the whole William Sanders thing, author Ashok Banker wrote a post about racism, sexism, and cultural insesnitivity in SF/F.  The post makes several good points:

Today’s Science Fiction and Fantasy field, while possibly bearing some strands of DNA from other countries and cultures intermingled in its genetic makeup, is undeniably dominated by American authors, particularly in America.

And a sizable majority of those American SFF authors are white. Virtually all of them are American. And I won’t even venture to guess how many are Christian.

[…]

Which itself begs the question: Why is a genre that’s always so proud of its ability to explore worlds unable to integrate the world into its fold? Why is American SFF publishing not representative of American society and culture as a whole? Why is this white enclave dominating the genre and the field?

[…]

If anything, the very imbalance in the racial and cultural composition of the field in America itself points to a deep malaise.

The recent attempts by some editors to claim that they’re open to multicultural writing, that they welcome submissions from women writers, that they look forward to international writer submitting work, is itself an admission that these were failings of the field until now.

[…]

So is American SFF racist? And sexist, bigotted, culturally insensitive, etc?

Well, I suspect a great number of professionals in the field might be.

Go to the post to read more.

There’s also some stuff in the post about how authors of color such as Tobias Buckell and myself “pull punches” and focus only on specific editors and not the community-wide problem.  I have a lot to say about that, but I think it’s a separate but related conversation.

Normally I would suggest we all go have a conversation about the race/gender/culture problems over on Ashok’s blog, but he shut down comments (the reason has to do with the stuff we’re not talking about here, which I will illuminate in a related post coming up in a bit).  Since we can’t talk about it there, let’s talk about it here.  It’s International Blog Against Racism Week, after all!

I’m particularly eager to have a discussion about how certain racist tendencies extend to non-American and non-European authors and the books they try to get published.  Justine, Ekaterina and I discussed the sad state of translated books in the US a while ago. I shudder to think how many of those few translated are from non-Western countries.  (my guess: not many)

It’s true that American SF is reluctant to embrace the whole world — why?  And what can be done to move toward fixing that?  Is Ashok correct that segregating international authors into just one issue of a magazine does nothing to help?

Table of contents for Two Separate Issues

  1. Two Separate But Related Issues, Two Separate But Related Posts #1
  2. Two Separate But Related Issues, Two Separate But Related Posts #2

Write-a-thon DONE omg

Write-a-thon DONE omg

Short post.  It was a photo finish but I finished off my sixth and most terrible chapter last night at 11:45.  Sorry for the lack of updates.  New job + ranting = no useful updates.  Plus, my writing habits changed a lot over these past few weeks because of said new job.  I wrote mostly on trains and late at night, eschewing the internet when possible to concentrate.  Then, of course, I was so tired I didn’t update my first draft LJ or email any sponsors with updates.  Bad me!

I did reach all of my goals, though :)  My chapters are all horrendous and terrible as I completely changed everything around between each one.  I guess I’ll have to start over again, but this time with a much better idea of what I’m doing (always helpful).  So it’s been a productive six weeks.

I will email all the sponsors sometime today.  Thanks for supporting me, everyone.  And look, $1010 for Clarion West and the Butler Scholarship!  WOO.

Adaptations

Adaptations

In case you don’t read Fantasy every day (and why not?!) I want to draw your attention to an announcement we just put up.  We’re going to start podcasting radio plays (or, more properly: audio dramas :as the plays won’t necessarily be on the radio) next year and so we’re accepting script submissions starting September 1.  I know at least one person who’ll be excited about this.  We’re looking for original scripts OR stuff adapted from existing stories.

I suspect a lot of writers will want to do adaptations but might wonder and worry if an author would mind having their story turned into a play.  They have to get permission, of course.  So I thought it would be a good idea to gather in one place a list of authors who would like to see their stories adapted.  If you are such an author, please comment.  Put the URL to your website in the URL field (which will be the click through on your name), a link to your bibliography, and a link to where folks can contact you.

Keep in mind that comments below are NOT the same as permission to adapt a story.  It’s merely an indication that the author is interested.  Any script writers who want to adapt a story should contact the author directly.

I should also note that the rights and permissions for audio plays are not the same as audio rights.  Thus, if you allow someone to adapt your story into a radio drama, it should not affect your ability to sell the audio/podcast rights.

ETA: Somehow in all of this I forgot to mention that I am open to people adapting my stories as well.  Bibliography link is at the top of the page, as is the Contact link.

Babbling About Doctor Who

For those of you who’ve seen the season finale of Doctor Who, I have a column up at Fantasy about the Doctor:

This year at WisCon, the feminist science fiction convention, I was on a panel called Martha Jones: Made of Awesome or Disappointing Stereotype? I had hoped we would explore the different fan reactions to the way the writers handled Martha’s character, story arcs, and race. The panel didn’t turn out as I expected, but something Chris Hill said sparked a thought. He mentioned feeling that the Doctor’s character was uneven–sometimes he’s incredibly cruel and judgmental and other times he’s compassionate and reluctant to do harm. My response was that I didn’t see this as unevenness, I saw it as purposeful part of his character. I truly feel… that the writers want us to think that the Doctor is a complicated and deeply flawed person. He is, to be blunt, a jerk.

Read the rest here (again, only if you’ve seen the final episodes).

I know a bunch of you are more active in Who fandom than I am and hang out in fan communities and such.  I’d appreciate it if you spread the link around, as I am anxious to get other people’s take on my theory.

Magazines That Want (More) Diversity

Magazines That Want (More) Diversity

I often talk about the need for markets and their editors/publishers to do more to up the diversity in their slush pile and, consequently, in the publication itself. And one of the steps toward doing so is making sure that people know about your intentions in that direction. It does help to make the statement outright, but you still must back that statement up with results. Editors sometimes ask me how they get the word out, and, as I said in my Mind Meld contribution the other week, one of the ways is writer to writer to writer. Since I’m a writer whose blog is read by other writers, I guess I should do my part. :)

I recently sent this list of magazines looking for more POC authors and stories with POC characters and non-standard cultures/settings/etc to the Carl Brandon mailing list. I know that the editors of these markets want more because they told me so (which is as good an indication as any).

Fantasy — Any magazine I’m involved with definitely cares about this issue. One would hope it goes without saying, but not everyone is aware of who works for what and the goings on behind the scenes.

Sybil’s Garage — Before the last reading period, Matt Kressel and I had several discussions about how to draw in more diverse submissions. We edited the guidelines to make that desire clearer and I encouraged authors I knew to apply. I believe the next submission period is in early August, so keep an eye out and, yes, send your stuff in. Matt also says not to make any pre-judgments on what a Sybil’s Garage-type story is.

PodCastle — Rachel Swirsky is definitely on the look out for great stories by POC authors. I gave her some names and stories to check out, but you increase your own chances by submitting. PodCastle, like EscapePod, takes reprints. And it doesn’t matter how long ago the story was published, just so long as it’s good (and fantasy — for SF stuff, submit to EscapePod).

Asimov’s — Sheila Williams has mentioned to me a couple of times that she’d like to see more women in her slush (particularly with SF stories) and I suspect that she could use more submissions from POC and/or with POC characters and under-represented cultures.

As always, none of these markets is likely to publish a story just because it’s written by a POC or has POC characters. But in order to have a chance, you need to send the story in!

There are probably markets that I’m missing or editors who want more diversity but haven’t mentioned it to me. If so, mention it in the comments. I’ll add it to the main post as we go along.

Other markets looking to increase diversity (as indicated in the comments):