Monthly Archives: June 2013

Okay, so here’s what doing this can be like.

2012 was a little bit of a dry year for me, story sale-wise. There were a couple of very high points – I sold Line and Orbit and I finally got something into Clarkesworld – but the overall number wasn’t all that high and there were a few markets I tried for repeatedly and never quite made it.

In the last 72 hours I’ve gotten acceptances from both Clarkesworld and Lightspeed. Which is kind of huge.

Am I writing better now? Sure. I like to think I’m getting better all the time. But that’s not all of it. Being good doesn’t guarantee you anything except that at some point someone will buy your stuff. The stars just sort of have to align. I’ve gotten more than one rejection that said “Look, this is great, but it just doesn’t fit what we want right now.”

You have dry periods followed by heavy rain followed by dry periods again, and they don’t operate according to any particular logic, at least not any that’s easy to discern or make sense of.

This is why I say that doing this requires psychotic levels of persistence. Also healthy degrees of blind faith. That sooner or later the rain will come.

Some stuff about the Line and Orbit sequel

[NOTE FROM THE FUTURE (January 2014): Fall and Rising as it currently stands is being extensively rewritten and looks almost nothing like this now. If you Googled your way here looking for info, bear in mind that none of this applies anymore. Thank you and farewell from the future.]

I’m almost 50k words into this thing, which means we have – according to my calculations – reached the approximate halfway point. I know it’s slightly risky business to talk about a book in progress, especially given that it may look very different by the time it’s published, but I do think there are some things I can say about it with a particular degree of certainty. Which is… pretty certain.

So for those who care about such stuff, here – for your edification – are some things about the Line and Orbit sequel.

  • It’s called Fall and Rising. For now. Of the two novels I’ve sold so far, neither of them ended up with the title they had at the start, so I know by now not to be too sure about that side of the business. Still, this is what I’m calling it unless/until it changes.
  • Adam and Lochlan are not the focus. They had their book. What I wanted to do here was take the opportunity to explore some of the secondary characters of Line and Orbit, to tell their stories. That doesn’t mean that familiar characters won’t be making an appearance; they will, that’s rather the point. But the focus is different. (And given that the first book was – perhaps questionably – marketed as M/M romance, it’ll be interesting to see how that goes over.)
  • It’s much darker. The body count at the end of Line and Orbit was pretty high – we’re talking about something like a thousand people or so – and not as many people have died so far in Fall and Rising, but I think by the end Line and Orbit will have been beaten. It starts off in a bad place, with all the characters in desperate circumstances, and goes downhill from there. Which is a lot of what the title is suggesting. But of course, the title is also suggesting something else.I was watching Star Wars: Episode One the other day – yes, I realize that it was a very questionable decision, but hey, we had the Rifftrax – and I noticed something I hadn’t before. (By the way, Episode One is actually a great and massive lesson on how not to write a story. I learn new things every time I watch it. I strongly believe that every writer should.) Anyway, what I noticed was that, although this is a movie that ostensibly deals with some Very Serious Themes – themes like slavery and the privation of massive numbers of people and war and death – you see hardly any of the characters really suffering. Nothing truly bad happens to any of them, and you have fucking Jar Jar Binks running around being a racist clown in the middle of a battle where people are dying so when something like the death of Qui-Gon Jinn happens, it has no narrative weight. Nothing does. Everyone is basically safe. You never see anyone really suffer, so you never get the sense that anything meaningful is at stake.

    Of course, Lucas also can’t write suffering for shit. Watch the other two prequels if you don’t believe me. I’m telling you, they’re a giant storytelling master class.

    So people need to suffer. People you care about need to suffer. Otherwise there’s no point. And we’re working up to a pretty big climax in the third and final book. So people are going to be hurting.

  • If the primary theme of Line and Orbit was ecology (and how family kind of sucks sometimes) the primary theme of Fall and Rising appears to be terrorism. Specifically, under what circumstances terrorism might be, if not justified, then at least understandable. It’s been very interesting and increasingly troubling writing these parts; I’m very aware that readers may have problems with this aspect. I think I have some problems with it. But I also think that’s the point. I don’t want this book to be comfortable. I hope people will be willing to go there with me even if it’s uncomfortable for all of us.
  • It’s not romance. Neither was Line and Orbit, if it comes to that, though it was marketed that way, and that seems to have (understandably) confused some people and disappointed others. So getting this out there up front: Not romance. There are romantic elements, but they aren’t the focus. Relationships between characters, though – love, loyalty, hatred, sacrifice, the horrible choices we make to save people we care about, the meaning of survival – those things are a focus. So hopefully we all come out of this happy, one way or another.

As I said, the book is just about halfway done, and I’m aiming to have it finished by the end of the summer. After that there’s naturally a lengthy editing process and such, but I’m hoping to have it released in 2014.

I’m super excited about it, guys. I really hope you like it.

Theodore Beale and oh my effing God this again

Once again SFWA is going through a Thing, and once again I haven’t said much about it, at least not here. Some of it is that I’ve been busy with book-writing and dissertation but a lot of it is that I’ve just been too tired and dismayed by it all to do much more than type a few disgusted sentences on Facebook and Twitter.

Short version, for the few people who read this blog and don’t know what’s going on: Theodore Beale (AKA “Vox Day” which is really just like are you kidding me what I know my name is goofy but WHAT), SFWA member and previous candidate for president of same (got 10% of the vote WHAT), said some mind-blowingly racist/misogynist/utterly hateful and borderline threatening stuff about author N.K. Jemisin and, as if that wasn’t awful enough, used the SFWA twitter account to publicize it. Amal El-Mohtar wrote an impassioned, well-reasoned call for his expulsion. Further discussion and debate and offensive asshattery ensued.

And it just makes me so goddamn tired.

This is the awful thing about when this happens. This is the awful thing about fighting this fight – and I’m well aware that I’m fighting it on a lower difficulty setting than many; I’m queer and female-assigned (genderqueer but sort of okay with my body as-is) but I’m also white and married to a cis-dude – it just makes you so, so fucking tired. Tired enough to want to give up. Tired enough to do what these assholes want and just say and do nothing. Rage is an excellent motivator, but there’s also deep weariness and despair.

Just like the other recent SFWA debacle with Mike Resnick and Barry Malzberg, what was truly horrible about it – aside from the fact that it’s 2013 and WE ARE STILL FIGHTING THIS FIGHT ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME – was that all the work that women and QUILTBAG folk and People of Color have done in the genre and the organization and all the positive change they’ve brought about can feel like it was for nothing. That Straight White Men Being Horrible gets all the attention. It’s discouraging. People left SFWA over it and others are rethinking whether they want to join, and while that’s not me, oh my GOD do I get it. I’m eligible for active status now and my membership is up in November, and how this all gets handled will be a huge determining factor in whether I re-up/upgrade.

This is why tone arguments are so horrible, why they are so derailing. We’re exhausted. We’re angry. We are completely and utterly out of patience. If you’re part of the system that’s making us feel that way, we are under no obligation whatsoever to be nice to you about it.

“Vox Day” is a profoundly stupid pen name. By the way. While I’m Not Being Nice.

Some links from people who are, as usual, better at this than I am:

Foz Meadows – Reconciliation: A Response to Theodore Beale.

As members of the SFF community, there is only one acceptable response to Beale, and that is to shun him utterly; to excise him from our genre like the cancer that he is, from convention to blog to column, and to enforce that ban as thoroughly and determinedly as we are able.

Because if we don’t, our Reconciliation will mean nothing.

We will mean nothing.

Carrie Cuinn – Wishing Never Changed a Damn Thing

But we ignore trolls like him, right? That’s what I’ve been seeing all day. Ignore him. Ignore his post. Don’t read the comments. Stay off the Internet for an hour until the unpleasantness passes.

You know what? Fuck that. Go read his post (it’s linked above). Read the comments. See the vile things that get said out in the open in 2013. See what happens when we speak up about it. Don’t hide your head in the sand and pretend it’s happening to someone else and you don’t need to worry about it. Hey, I’m white, what do I care, right? No, it doesn’t work that way. Nothing gets better when we pretend everything is at acceptable levels of okay.

Reconciliation within the SFF genre, one writer at a time (or finally getting around to the SWFA kerfuffle)

Do you know what that post says to me?

“This is what happens if you try to make a difference. We like our organization just the way it is. And we define how women are portrayed in SFF. We like our bikinis. We like our women stupid and dependent on us. And we like them all white, because their prettier and sexier than you—well, okay, we’ll allow Asian girls, because they’re nice and quiet and subservient.. And if you try to say anything about it, we will tear you down, rip your head off, drag your name through shit, because that’s what you deserve, you monkey you. So go ahead and write your stories, little little girl. You can even join. But keep your head down, don’t make waves, and most of all, keep your fat lips shut.”

And a good overall roundup post: Radish Reviews – This Week in Racist Bullshit

I do wish more people had felt inclined to speak up when he attacked E. Catherine Tobler a couple of weeks ago instead of collectively deciding to ignore him in the hopes that he’d go away (with a few exceptions). I do understand that at that point he hadn’t done anything to warrant expulsion from SFWA–and as I was one of those keeping silent, I’m upset with myself here as well. Private support is one thing, speaking up publicly is another.

This doesn’t work with schoolyard bullies and it doesn’t work with racist misogynist fuckmuppets like Theodore Beale.

For what it’s worth, I’ve emailed the SFWA board in support of Amal’s call for his expulsion and have also called for the formation of an official Code of Conduct for SFWA members. Because apparently we can’t all be trusted to act like decent fucking human beings. Amal’s post contains contact info for the board. If you’re a member, or even thinking of becoming a member, and you find this whole business unacceptable, I urge you to get in touch with them and let them know your thoughts.

One final thing: It should not escape our attention that this whole string of incidents wasn’t racist or sexist in isolation but featured healthy doses of both.  These things always intersect. This is the nature of oppression and domination. We may have different arrangements of identity but we, the marginalized and minoritized, stand united. Or we should.

No matter how exhausting this gets.

OH MY GOD LOOK AT THIS REVIEW/OH MY GOD LOOK AT THESE BOOKS

Okay, ONE: Publisher’s Weekly has reviewed We See a Different Frontier and they really like it. They say:

This is not just an interesting and entertaining collection, but also a necessary, convincing critique of the colonialist tropes that mark many of speculative fiction’s genre conventions.

And they say my story “A Heap of Broken Images” is “haunting”. So that happened.

TWO: Today is my third wedding anniversary and my husband, by way of romantic gifts, has added to my collection of awful mid-20th century WOMEN TAKE OVER THE WORLD AND/OR OTHER WORLDS sf novels.

9031092508_9d4da87207_z

Good three years, good day.

“Memory, native to this valley”: Exploring Daniels, MD

Back at the end of 2011, my husband and I took a trip to the ghost town of Daniels, Maryland and turned the images we took there into a bit of a historical photo essay. Some unknown time ago, some of the links died; as a result, we went digging for replacements, and we found some cool stuff. The updated post can be found on my LJ/DW.

Some of the photos are quite large, FYI.

Linky hiatus

No Sunday Linkdump this week. I’m in Pennsylvania visiting family for a few days (and doing a buttload of work on both the Crowflight and Line and Orbit sequels).

Will be back to it next weekend unless I’m not.

Quick little taste of the Line and Orbit sequel.

The trees thinned out around her, the path widening, and then they fell away entirely and she came out into the fields, the grass whispering in the breeze and carrying the sweet smell of heather and the bracken that grew at the edge of the wood, mixed with the headier scent of honeysuckle. The light of the sunlamps was deepening into afternoon, and for a moment Nkiruka stood, breathing it in. She tilted her head back. Far above her, through the transparent ceiling, the stars shone in the night that went on forever.

She had not been born on Ashwina but on Suzaku, where the High Fields were drier and faded into patches of red desert, and the Arched Halls were–strangely–lusher and more humid, more like what people described as the equatorial jungles of Terra. She had grown up in those Fields and those Halls, had carried their dust and drifting pollen within her when she came to Ashwina to learn how to fight, to dance the death dances, to pilot an escort fighter. It had been an adjustment but she had made it. She would never love these lands the way she loved the lands that rested at the top of Suzaku’s great bulk, but she had grown to love them all the same.

Anything growing. Miracles in the black.

I am so, so happy to be back here again. And I love this character.