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My drug of choice is writing--writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Best Young Adult Book Or Series not by a Cishet White Guy (2000-Present)

What is the young adult book (or series) written by a woman or POC or member of the LGBTQIA+ community?  

Please follow this link if you're wondering why this poll has some particular limitations.

From your nominations has come our current poll. Everyone gets three [3] votes, but as there is no way to "rank" votes, you should use as few as you can stand.

The poll itself is in the lower left at the bottom of the side menus.

If you're on mobile you can scroll ALLLLLL the way to the bottom and click on"webpage view" to see the side menus and get to the polls.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Changing landscape -- again (By Claire Youmans)


Changing landscape -- again

(By Claire Youmans)

When I first started publishing, you had to have a publisher.   The publisher would prepare, issue and sell hard copies of books to brick and mortar stores. I had three books published back then, one by a major, and two by small presses. You were very lucky to get an advance at all, and over the moon if your royalty checks exceeded your dinner checks. Basically, you got a place in a catalog and maybe somebody who bought books would see your entry. 

Words failed me for a number of years, for irrelevant personal reasons. During that time, things changed.

In late 2013, I returned to book publishing.  I had a very good manuscript. But there were only something like six publishers left. Now it’s down to five. I looked for agents. There were perhaps seven who were interested in the kind of thing I’d written. Everybody wanted things exactly like the LAST bestseller. They thought, it seemed, imitation was the path to success.  Books for kids have become almost exclusively “message” books, therapy lectures wrapped in tiny, barely there, stories. 

That’s not what I was writing or ever planned to. I write historical fantasy set in Meiji-era Japan. I planned a series that would start with kids and grow up with the kids, until ultimately they were adult books. No, they wouldn’t be part of a recognizable genre. Historical fantasy? Nobody even knows what that is!

“Self-published” was a death knell.  Anything “self-published” was bound to be awful, an unedited, thrown up mess.  Many outlets, reviewers and contests wouldn’t even accept anything “self-published.”  So I formed a publishing company and gave myself an imprint.  I did what a real publisher does: I got editors, copy editors, publicists, cover art — all the things a publisher would have provided.

I just published Noriko’s Journey, Book 5 in the Toki-Girl and Sparrow-Boy series.  We are quite clearly into YA, even NA, territory, closing in on adult. I still write historical fantasy, and I still don’t write romance, sex or much explicit violence.  What I have are damned good books that get excellent reviews, but the market is changing again.

All I hear now is how “indie” publishers are making millions, MILLIONS, I tell you, by taking this course, reading this book, following this plan. For just $750 YOU CAN DO IT TOO. We’re back to my early days, when I was flooded with “contests” and “agents” that charged entry or reading fees, for services that cost a lot but promised little. Reviews?  You have to pay for those now. Want Amazon or Facebook to even notice your existence?  You have to pay through the nose for ads.  All these outfits do what they say they will, but they do not promise that your book, no matter how good it is, will ever reach its intended audience, and they quite cynically do not care.  That isn’t their goal.  The only guarantee is that THEY will make money.  We’re back to a “fleece the writer” industry again, this time in the context of independent publishing.

Let’s say you do everything RIGHT, take the course, buy the book, follow the formula, buy the ads — will it help?  Probably not. Unless you’re in a recognizable genre and can somehow hitch your wagon to a star, it’s not going to help anything but make the people you’re paying better off.

It’s time to figure out a way to stop supporting this latest iteration of an industry that feeds off writers’ hopes and dreams.  It’s facile to say the material would sell if it was good. There’s simply too much out there. We need to shut down the exploitive industry and bring back gatekeepers.  Real gatekeepers, not “fleece the indie” divisions of formerly prestigious gatekeepers shamelessly profiting off of their former reputations.

How about a return of the magazine, the Mystery Magazine, the Science Fiction Magazine, and others for difference genres and non-genres?  There’s a movement towards the “novella” again.  That was formerly a staple of SF, and that and the short story were what the magazines published.  I discovered many SF and Mystery writers I liked, whose work I followed thereafter, through the magazines. 

We don’t need what I’ve seen happening: writers who use the shotgun approach, who think publishing reams of material will get them to their readers, putting up novellas and other shorter material up on Amazon at lower than novel prices, and hoping that one of their pellets hits the mark. They’re trying, but they’re missing the target. We need curation, we need gatekeepers.  Magazines are one way to achieve that now. 

So — anybody want to start a 'zine?  I have a 9,000 word historical fantasy story ready for you.  I’ll have another in a month or so, before I start book 6.  I’m game if you are.


Also check out Claire's blog and FB page and available books here:

http://claireyoumansauthor.blogspot.com

www.tokigirlandsparrowboy.com


Facebook:  The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/The-Toki-Girl-Sparrow-Boy-Claire-Youmans/dp/0990323404/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top?ie=UTF8


If you would like to guest blog for Writing About Writing we would love to have an excuse to take a day off a wonderful diaspora of voices. Take a look at our guest post guidelines, and drop me a line at chris.brecheen@gmail.com.


Tuesday, August 28, 2018

10 Addendums to "Write Every Day" (The Article Some of You Have Been Waiting Your Whole Lives For)

I know how badly some of you want this. I know because I hear it every single time I offer up the advice to write every day, and I am descended upon by the locusts of comments and PMs by the teeming millions who insist that I am single-handedly destroying their will to do anything creative.

Well, here it is. Finally. After all these years.

Yes, "write every day" might be the single most useful nugget of distilled wisdom for a writer with the ambition to make money smithing words, and yes, it is shockingly ubiquitous––bordering on universal––among the household names of authors whose careers most want to emulate. (Unsurprisingly it is aggressively denounced most and loudest by a scrum of writers you're far less likely to have ever heard of or read.) It is as close to panacea as writing advice gets for the frustrated careerist who can't seem join the fhqwhgads in taking it to the limit.

But there is nuance, there are caveats, and addendums exist. So here are a few, particularly for those of you who have been salivating for years trying to come up with any reason you can imagine to NOT write every day.

1) Most writers don't actually mean EVERY day. 

Rare is the day I write nothing at all, but almost every weekend I limit myself to a couple of hours. We all need time off to recharge our neurotransmitters. Even Stephen King, who put out his latest novel in toto during the time I was writing this article's introduction, suggests that a "Very Serious Writer™" could do six days a week.

"Every day" is metonymy. It's a shorthand for saying "six days a week and maybe an hour on the seventh" or "every day unless you're working 12 hours at the restaurant because that's ridonkulous." Or whatever.

Most writers are talking about the expectation of achieving career caliber results with career caliber effort. You wouldn't expect to be a world famous surgeon if you came in to work a couple of days a month when the spirit moved you. You wouldn't expect to be a professional athlete if you only came to practice twice a week and didn't like being harangued about the days you missed. You wouldn't expect to be in a professional orchestra if you didn't come to rehearsal when you weren't feeling it because it "made it feel like work." But no one expects you to work 70-hour weeks or never ever take a day off. Most writers probably mean a five day work week. Or maybe they mean six days. Or they might mean seven days a week, but not eight hour days. But almost all of them know that humans need to rest to achieve peak performance.

Except Stephen King. That guy's off the hook.

2) Writing every day isn't necessary for most writing bellwethers.

Want to be a writer? Write. Earn your er. There is no set amount of time you have to be writing every day and no one is the arbiter of who gets to be a writer. No one will tap your shoulders with a sword and knight you with legitimacy.

Want to make money? Start small. Write some short stories and start flinging them out at paid venues. Listen to the crit you get back with rejections and don't be too good to make those changes. Might take a few years and it might only be your cell phone bill worth of payment, but eventually something will probably stick.

Want to be published? Easy peasy. Finish your shit. Edit it. (Please for the love of God, edit it.) Publish it through any number of self publishing routes. Hold it up in triumph. You might even sell a few copies if you are willing to market.

Want readers? Start a blog. Do fanfiction. Write thoughtful posts on Facebook or Tumblr about topics that excite you or answer questions on Quora. Gain global readership, probably in only a few months.

Want a book deal? You're in murkier water, but it can still be done, especially if you're not expecting a big five contract for your first novel. There are a lot of traditionally-published authors out there who don't write every day. Maybe they have a day job, only one or two titles on the shelf, and have to promote almost every weekend at local conventions as part of their contract, but they get to sit on panels and hold up their books for the world to see. You'll probably need a few more drafts and some heavier editing, and you might need to break down and work at least a part-time schedule. But it can be done.

Now, if you want to quit your day job or be famous or rich...you might have to think about writing every day (or at least most days), but most things writers say they want out of their writing (readers, money, to make a difference in just ONE reader's life) don't actually require daily writing to achieve.

3) You have to consider your limitations.

Not everyone has the ability to write every day. And it is straight up ableist to fail to recognize those factors, and can be detrimental to one's own health to try to ignore them. Don't make your life worse because some writing advice is trying to be Mickey Goldmill/catch-the-chicken about telling you the One True Way™ to "make it." You've got better things to do with your time....like rearrange your sock drawer.

While the writer so harried that they can't yield up fifteen minutes for a dab at some writing might be rare, not only does it exist, but other limitations do as well. Physical and mental health can prevent the would-be-everyday writer from getting their prose on. That's okay as long as a writer is devastatingly honest about not letting their limitations become their excuses. They may have to manage their expectations and work smarter, but it can be done.

4) Writing every day doesn't necessarily mean writing a lot.

If you want to get a novel published in fewer than thirty years, you probably need to put in some solid hours pumping those words out, but every day doesn't have to 2500 words or ten pages or eight hours or some other Herculean bellwether that would daunt all but the King (the STEPHEN King). The primary reason I don't like Nanowrimo isn't because it encourages daily writing; it's because 1667 words a day for a month is fucking bananapants outrageous. (And don't think my irony lobe didn't notice that it's some of the exact same people so pissed off that I don't like Nano who are so pissed off I want them to write every day.)

The purpose of writing every day (especially at the same time every day) is to establish a habit of creativity and a routine of writing. There are a lot of imperfect metaphors (inspiration is a habit, a muscle, a Fox who likes roses...), but the brass tacks of this shit is that if you write every day for a while, you'll start generating ideas more easily when it's writing time. The writers beleaguered by writing blocks and inspiration exoduses are most often allowing their "muse" (if you'll permit the conceit) to control them instead of learning how to work the other way around. The reason so much advice is about simply sitting down and getting to work is because when your brain (the slippery jerk it is) knows it can get out of legitimate hard work simply by telling you "Yeah...I'm just not feeling it today, boss," it's shockingly going to not feel like it MOST of the time. When it knows work time is when it gets to work whether it likes it or not, it starts to play nice and work well with...well, YOU.

As little as twenty minutes a day can achieve this routine of creativity. And if you're doing a few hours five or six days a week, you  can easily have "placeholder" sessions on the weekend that are only a few minutes of work, just to keep the habit strong.

Tomorrow we just do a few sit ups, kay?
Say five hundred?
4) Not every day has to be a grueling session on your work in progress.

Write a letter or an email and take an extra minute to think about your word choice. Do a post for Tumblr and give it the ol' razzle-dazzle. Spend an extra ten minutes punching up the language on that thing for work. ("Dearest boss. Forsooth has thy wont of a performance review gained favor in thine heart?"  Okay, maybe not that much.) Compose a poignant thought in so few words that you still get to use a Facebook background even though it's hella deep. Write your grocery list as a sex poem to your partner. (Hint: eggs rhymes with legs...just sayin.) Drop a page or two into your journal that no one will ever read. Reply to a comment on another blog with a truly thoughtful reply. Options are limitless for how to do some writing in a given day without necessarily opening up your WIP and pounding out five pages like you are Sasquatch from Animal Mechanicals*.

*Look, I watch TV with a 4-year-old, okay? 

You probably don't want to leave something you're working on for too long or it will start to get stale inside your head, but a little bit of time away won't hurt, and may even make the heart grow fonder.

5) Some days are like a jog to stay sharp.

See, that's a simile since it uses "like" or "as"...

In a lot of ways, I was probably fortunate to have been in band for middle school and high school (and later, choir as well). I learned a lot about how to achieve the artistic results one desires and the effort it takes to get from here to there in terms of hours, days, weeks, months, and years of dedicated effort.

Sure, you don't practice every single day. But if you want to be the first chair (which let's face it, the published authors are totally the first chairs of the writing world) you better plan on practicing for most of them. And if you don't practice a little over summer vacation, you actually kind of suck when you get back--you spend all of September just getting your mad skillz to where you were before you left. You can't stop honing the pragmatic skill of writing or you'll actually get worse. You'll go backwards. Your edge will blunt. Your skills will atrophy. Your prose will funktify.

And if you want to be Yo-Yo Ma or play with the (Insert Big City) Philharmonic, you bet your ass you practice a LOT most days, and a little almost every single day of your life. Fortify and stay thirsty, my friends.

However, just like the athlete who does some jogging and cardio during that off-season month when they're not practicing six hours a day, or the musician who plays scales and arpeggios to hang onto their muscle memory when they've got a few days off before the rehearsals kick off for the next show, the day may come where you might not work on some major thing. Maybe you just want to not lose your edge. So maybe you do a half an hour of writing instead of four hours or you just write a few paragraphs instead of five pages.

You're just trying to keep fit. (See, it's a metaphor there since there's no "like" or "as"....)

You're about to pay serious money to see us because we practice even on the days if feels like work.

6) There's no reason to do any of this more than you want to.

Doing art should fulfil you. It should bring you, if not overarching joy, at least a sense of catharsis.

If you don't want to write, put down your pen or computer and STOP WRITING. Seriously. That's all you have to do. No one is going to judge you. (If anything, they judge you for trying TO write most of the time.) No one will be disappointed. The rest of this is just you getting defensive that the world will not deem you A Really Real Writer™, and that's fucking crap anyway. Write exactly as much (or as little) as you want to––as brings you joy and fulfillment in this life.

I wrote a whole series of articles about how you really don't have to write. You don't have to BE a writer. You don't have to write for money. And you don't have to write for your day job. You decide your own level of involvement. And if that isn't daily writing, more power to you.

There are more reliable ways to get rich. Faster ways to get famous. Easier ways to have fans. The only reason you should be writing is because you love writing. If you're working hard to find reasons not to write, then just don't worry about it. Go have a great life playing first-person shooters and binge-watching Marvel shows on Netflix. If that's what brings you the real joy why are you mucking around with something that makes you miserable and you'd rather avoid? Most of the working writers around you are treating writing like the highest priority of any given day. One of my partners calls writing my "primary relationship." These writers are looking for the ways to work some wordsmithing in. They're trying to find excuses TO write.

The reason you hear the daily writing advice so often is because it comes immediately after someone, usually in a Q&A, speaks with purple prose about their deep and abiding love for writing and asks "But HOW do I get all these things you have?" of a writer with a career. And these authors they demand the secrets from answer honestly, in the only way they know how. Writers who want to "make it" (usually without having a real sense of what that is for them) want to have writing careers, and then expend an extraordinary amount of effort attempting not to treat writing as if it were a career. If that's not what you want, find your own path and do it just exactly as much as brings you bliss*.

(*Just know that you'll probably be right back in the same place if you get pissed off that you're not a famous novelist in five or ten years.)

7) The "Be a writer" trick.

Okay, here's a trick you can use, but you have to use it sparingly. It's like trying to get in shape but doing a handful of pushups instead of your whole exercise routine. If you do this every day for two months, your triceps might be swol, but the rest of you is going to function about the same. Similarly if you try to "be a writer" instead of actually writing more days than you don't, eventually you're just going to be really good at thinking about writing and not at actually doing it.

But every once in a while...you don't actually have to put ink to paper. You can think about a character or how you would convert a scene into language (consider the specific words you would employ). You can think deeply about your story and ponder. You can BE a writer.

This is not the kind of thinking you do in the movie theater between the trailers. This is deep and profound introspection, and while it isn't as good as a writing session, sometimes that'll do, Donkey. That'll do.

9) Hang the advice, be brutally honest, but always do what works

Imagine if you showed up at the track and everyone who could run as fast and long as you wanted to be able to run gave you the same advice about how to warm up and how to train and that you wanted to do some resistance training. But then there was this group of out-of-shape people who got winded walking half a mile at even a brisk pace, but who had no end of things to say about the THEORY of running versus strolling that went against those runners who were already doing what you wanted to be doing, and happened to be exactly the advice that kept them from ever really working up a sweat (or improving).

Are you following my fantastically-difficult-to-decode metaphor so far?

You should always do whatever works, even if that has you ignoring the can't-fucking-fail advice like Write Every Day™.  But you should also be brutally honest with yourself about whether advice doesn't work or you don't WANT it to work.

You're a human. One of your design features is to be able to talk yourself into pretty much anything if you want it badly enough. You WILL lie to yourself to rationalize playing more Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus instead of sitting down to work. And if you aren't ready to deal with your lying little liar self, you'll be totally fooled.

People who don't want to write every day come up with a shitton of reasons that "Write Every Day" is not good or practical advice, but when you check back in on them ten years later, most are still still on that same novel (maybe even the same chapter) and telling you that the published authors don't know what they're talking about.

But, seriously, you do you.

If you work better doing 16-hour weekends, sally forth and tally ho.

If you work better writing every other day, kick ass and take names.

If you work better in sporadic fits and starts, rock out with your....well whatever you have, out.

The only real rule here is can you get away with it?

Though for the sake of that writing career, which perhaps you are frustrated isn't further along, you might try checking to see if those ideas (of how much better you work) are accurate. Because most people who say "I work better when I blah blah blah blah" have not ever really tried anything different. What they are telling you isn't what makes them most productive. What they are telling you is what makes them most comfortable.

Which leads me to my last point.

10) And when you're done with all that shit, try giving it a try.

Here's a suggestion.

Try.

Give it a year. Shit, give it six months.

Write every day (or six days a week). See what happens. Set aside a time and unless blood is fountaining out of your body, sit down and write for an hour.

Or a half-hour.

Or do one of the things on this list but with conscious deliberate mindfulness of writing. But mostly try to do some writing every day. Don't make it too easy.

And see how that changes the landscape in just a few months.

Maybe you notice that you're getting better. That your creativity is flowing more naturally. Maybe you notice the quality of your prose improve. That slow days when you used to be unable to craft a single word start turning into merely disappointing low-word-count days of not great but some productivity, and the rare gushes that come bursting out of you from time to time, you are better able to harness, yoke, and channel for a week or more. Maybe you notice that you are better able to metabolize your thoughts into language and writing is just becoming easier for you. Maybe people stop taking your work with a resigned sigh and say "When's your next chapter going to be done?" Maybe you notice that you are accumulating a whole lot of work and some of it isn't half bad. Maybe you notice that novel....well, you kind of finally made some progress on it.

Chances are you work like every other creative. Chances are you get better at things by doing them (not by NOT doing them).  Chances are that routine and habit will work on you the way they do most other writers and artists. Chances are you are not the special snowflake who works so differently that you must be an anomaly of nature. Chances are if you do what every other artist has since the dawn of time when they get to work, you're probably going to get pretty similar results.

But hey....maybe you were right all along and you just work better when you don't write every day. Maybe the writing world with its sodding advice owes you a coke. Still, how will you EVER know, if you don't give it an authentic, legitimate, sincere try?

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Hi all. Point of order.

For those following close, I'll be taking Monday completely off.

I'm struggling against my inner desire to at least post something, but I will be watching The Contrarian until late in the afternoon, and I really need to start aiming for quality over quantity, so I'm going to focus any energy I have today or tomorrow on getting something spectacular cooking for Tue-Sat.

Follow Us on Social Media

I'm on a heck of a journey. I'd love to have you along.

If you're interested in following Writing About Writing, it might actually be confusing to navigate all the different ways to do so. We're on several social media, but not every social medium is updated in the same way. Some follow the blog, but others follow me as a writer. Some get every post I make, no matter how major or minor. (Many days there are two posts but one of them is relatively minor or a menu or some sort of revision of an older article.) Some media are privy to a cycle of "reruns" where (once a day) I cycle through the popular posts of the past so that new folks can see some of the things they missed (and old fans can be reminded of treasured classics).

I also occasionally write for other venues (Ace of Geeks for example), and those who are following me as a writer, rather than JUST Writing About Writing, may prefer the media where I can share those other articles. Some social media have other signal to noise. For example, twitter gets ALL of these updates I post anywhere, including the reruns, which is great for people who don't want to miss anything but may feel too spammy for many followers.

Writing About Writing is no longer on Twitter in any capacity. The harassment and abuse (and harassers and abusers) that Twitter allow make it a place I would rather lose some readers than support in any way.

I'm not really present on any of these social media (except for Facebook). I cross post articles and very occasionally put something else up.

So what's the final word on how you should be following W.A.W.?

The real "Join this site" button is at the
bottom of this (and every) page.
Follow Writing About Writing through Google (Blogger, Google Friend Connect). Google's Blogger allows you to assemble a collection of blogs you follow. Most people following the blog this way have their own blog through Blogger, but it's not necessary. (You only actually need a Google account, which many people have through gmail.)

Pros- Shows all new updates (minor and major). Updates in a timely manner. Helps me with my "membership numbers," which are a bellwether of how cooly cool daddy-O the blog is.
Cons- No reruns. No posts from other venues. Blogger usually takes a few hours to get the latest post up. Wordpress is considered by your techie sibling to be the chic, happening blog place; Blogger is like the high school kids who eat lunch in the quad.


It's going to burn your FEED!!!
Wait...what?
R.S.S. Feed (Feedly, Feedburner) If you have an RSS reader, you may like to simply be updated by having your RSS feed updated with the text of my latest post. If you click on the Feedburner button at the bottom of the page, you can subscribe to Writing About Writing through a number of RSS readers including FeedDemon, Netvibes, My Yahoo, Shrook, Newsfire, RSSOwl and more.

Pros- Shows all new updates (major and minor). Updates instantly.
Cons-Updates instantly! (Normally that wouldn't be a problem, but I am not a good writer. Usually I post before I've managed to find and fix the biggest typos and dingfab errors I missed before I hit "Publish".) R.S.S. feed do not include reruns–even the really good reruns. No posts from other venues. Many RSS readers are JUST text, so you won't see the fabulously hilarious images. Also, if you get a little behind on your feed, it feels like the sword of Damocles.

In retrospect, I probably shouldn't punch in
the addys of all those Nigerian Princes.
E-Mail Notification At the bottom of the page there is an option to put your e-mail into a text field and subscribe to W.A.W. through e-mail notifications.  Every time I post an update, you will be sent an e-mail notification containing a link to the post. I've been told that there's even some preview text (the first 200 words or something).

Pros- Shows all new updates (minor and major). Updates right away.
Cons- No reruns. No posts from other venues. You already get ten billion emails a day.

G+ for the W.A.W. Page (The text there is also the link) This G+ page for Writing About Writing. This is JUST for blog updates and reruns. If you want to get updates through G+, you should probably pick this page OR the one below, but not both. If you do both, it will appear in your feed as if every single link is being posted twice, which I know is annoying.

Pros- Show all new updates (minor and major).
Cons- No posts from other venues. Does not include reruns. It's G+, so people will accuse you of working for Google or being woefully out of touch. They will give you tin foil hats and serve you Kool-aid.

G+ for Chris Brecheen (The text is also the link.) This is my personal Google account which I don't really use much other than to post about my blog. Above is if you want to follow the Writing About Writing page; this is if you want to follow ME as an author. If I get added by a name I don't recognize in life, I put the name in a circle called "Author Updates." I post all my reruns and posts to other venues in this circle. I don't often use G+ otherwise, though occasionally I will have a public update that would also be seen by anyone in that circle.

Pros- Major posts, but not minor ones. Does include reruns. Posts from other venues. Posts right away. Not much other "noise."
Cons- Occasionally you'll see a public G+ post I write. Since I post all articles, reruns, and posts from other venues here, this can seem very "spammy." People will accuse you of being a Google shill because you're on G+.

Facebook Page for Writing About Writing (Text is also the link) W.A.W.'s Facebook page is a whole different kettle of fish. It is, in fact, a thermo-kettle full of piranha. On my Facebook page, I actually post memes, macros, quotes, inspirational messages, videos, and believe it or not, I try NOT TO POST TOO MUCH FROM MY BLOG. Most of the FB audience is there for the shenanigans, not the blog cross posting. Sometimes I skip posting "less popular" updates in favor of a "best of" rerun that will attract more of my FB audience.  FB's algorithm blacks out posts, even to people who want to see it in order to encourage content providers to spend money promoting themselves.
Bitter.
So very bitter.

Pros- Lots of other fun stuff going on. Most posts from other venues.
Cons- Lots of other stuff going on. (Not a good place if you just want the updates or if you want all the updates.) Major posts. Not minor ones. FB algorithm prevents page followers from seeing every post so some W.A.W. posts will get lost. Skips less popular posts in favor of popular reruns. Not a good place to get all the updates. Enjoying anything on FB requires a shower with steel wool and industrial cleanser. Facebook is the antichrist.

Tumblr (Text is also the link) I joined Tumblr after Facebook's latest round of content throttling that basically ensures that about one quarter of one percent of my Facebook followers see any given post unless it is "engaged." Then Tumblr started doing it too and well.....it's really hard to keep more than one social media at a rolling boil at a time unless you want to be a social media person and not actually ever write. (I don't.) When I have time, I'd like to start reintroducing full X-post with some of the "best of" of my FB page's content. (Like that's one of my next major goals.)

Close but........no.


Pros- Mostly just blog crossposts. (Reruns and current.) Some funny macros. I reblog a lot of social justice stuff that I like.
Cons- Social justice crap (if you don't like that kind of stuff). Very sporadic posting. Basically I suck at sticking with more than one social medium.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Best Young Adult Novel (or Series) Not Written by a Cis Het White Man

What is the very best young adult book (or series) written by a woman or POC or member of the LGBTQ+ community? 

Our latest poll is live!  Come vote!

This poll is from our Year of Diverse Polls. If you have any questions about the limitations of the poll, just follow the link.

The magic number was at least three seconds for a nomination to go on to the poll. We got dozens of nominations, lots with one or two "seconds"but in order to keep from having unwieldy numbers of run-off rounds, I had to limit it. And booooy howdy are there a lot of good titles on this poll.

The actual poll is on the left hand side at the bottom, beneath the "About The Author" section. Mobile viewers will have to go aaaaaaall to the very bottom of their page and switch to "Webview" in order to access the poll.

Everyone will get three (3) votes.

There is no way to rank votes, so please consider that every vote beyond the first "dilutes" the power of your initial vote and use as few as you can stand to use.

This poll will be up for a couple of weeks. You can vote once a week. Since I can't stop shenanigans, I encourage as much of it as possible. Vote early, vote often.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Worldcon (Wrap Up, Review, Ruminations)


Prologue

Day 4

It was an amazing four days even for this stone-cold introvert. The panels were informative and interesting even if I hadn't been attending many with the intent of mining them for future blog posts.

My philosophy about these events hasn't changed. If they don't sound like your cup of tea, you aren't missing out on the writing opportunity of a lifetime or anything to skip them and stay home and work on your novel. I don't think I emerged a better writer or that a convention (or camp or literary event or whatever) is a necessary thing for a writer to attain success, or provides networking they can't find through more-their-cup-of-tea means. Most of the useful information is online and accessible to an even mildly determined researcher.

Worldcon is an all-volunteer convention with no paid staff so in this case, the organizers aren't making money, but even so the convention center, the local hotels and restaurants, and a whole lot of vendors made money. It's worth it for a writer to remember what direction the money flows in these events, that they are not a vital part of being a writer, and really only attend such things if they WANT to attend such things. I was staying with a friend of a friend (and coming in on the light rail every morning), brought my own food, and got the ticket as a gift and I still walked out with a much lighter wallet.

There's still a palpable Sad/Rabid puppies vibe. The white guys who are annoyed at all this "diversity stuff" don't outnumber EVERYONE else, but they are the largest single demographic and they sure do take up a lot of space and suck up a lot of oxygen wherever they go. A few of them wound up on panels and a lot of them dived into the Q&A sections with "more of a comment really." You could really feel that schism and their resentment at losing hegemonic control of the narrative. But everyone else was also pretty cheerfully ignoring their bullshit, so that was kind of awesome in a way.

I also noticed something else when I was there and I'm going to try to blog about it and even bring in some paid help to get it as right as I can. I definitely have the topics I'm interested in and gravitated towards those panels, and so I spent about 14 hours doing panels of some flavor or another of representation, appropriation, social awareness, or inclusivity. Over and over and over again in these panels, sincere white writers (as in not the ones outside in the red hats) would ask how to get their characters right, how to thread the needle between representation and appropriation, and how they could do right by other voices.

Last thought, and it's just a tiny bit catty: every time I asked a sincere question, I ended up getting a clever joke as an answer instead of an answer. Not a clever joke and THEN an answer, but a flip quip and then the panel moved on. And it wasn't just me––my questions aren't just extraordinarily esoteric or weird. It was about half the questions I saw asked during the entire convention. Yet every panel and panelist and even folks in the audience say they are annoyed by the ubiquitous plague of audience members who don't ask questions but instead offer up their own insights or anecdotes.  I can't imagine those two things aren't related, to be honest. Panelists trying to make a clever joke instead of actually answering a question create an ecosystem in which a sincere person with a question who is maybe feeling a little unsure of themselves isn't going to bother if they're essentially going to be blown off. Guess which overconfident hands are left raised high and proud?

Still the whole thing was breathtaking and I had a wonderful time, shunting off every day to a new line-up of interesting panels. I only wish during a few hours I could have had a time turner to catch two or three panels that all looked just as good. It's a shame there's basically no chance I'll be able to go to Dublin or New Zealand for 2019 or 2020 respectively and very little chance of getting to one in the US unless I am making considerably more than I am now.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Worldcon Report (Day 4)


Prologue (Back to the Beginning)

Day 3


A couple of Sunday's panels had a LOT of overlap with previous ones— in some cases right down to the multiple panelists who shared some of the same anecdotes as they tackled the same questions. I definitely aim for particular topics, and they’re issues I hope more folks can access, but a lot of times I picked between two panels, and I wish this had been a little more telegraphed.

I started by skipping a panel. The "Late Bloomers" panel sounded interesting, but even though I'm no spring chicken, I think I was going mostly to get some fodder for a blog post. However the room was ungodly crowded, seats were all gone when I showed up, and I was getting some strange looks. (I’m guessing the median age was around 65-ish, compounded by the fact that I look a fair bit younger than I am.) I don't think any one person meant anything, and they probably would have strenuously objected to the thought that they'd made me uncomfortable, but when 100 or so people give you the "Why are YOU here?" look, you can decide pretty quickly that the lack of seats is a dealbreaker.

The Shape of Horror

This panel spent much of its time just trying to define where the borders were between horror and other genres. We talked about the idea of horror in broad philosophical terms like the Greek idea that if you know what you're terrified of, it's "terror," but if you don't know what you're terrified of, it's "horror."

There was some time spent discussing the borderlands of dystopia, thriller, and dark fantasy and why each fails to be horror in some way. The exuberance and upbeat endings of most were what the panelists came up with.

Largely they came to a consensus that was not very concrete. Horror has downbeat endings, but mostly it leaves the reader with a sense of unease that stays there. It involves some level of unresolved tension––a lack of catharsis.

We Will Survive
This panel was very similar to the "Stop Killing Us" panel from yesterday, but was specifically about how sci-fi and dystopian fiction (also utopias) regularly have no people of color. They pointed out how very often the slate being wiped clean leads to SUPERPATRARICAL societies (The Walking Dead was brought up several times) and how, in general, the authors of these sorts of stories need to interrogate their narratives about which humans have value.

The Coming Plague

My last panel was much more technical than anything I'd done the rest of the weekend. It was about how we're basically overdue for something really, really bad. Spanish flu killed 50 million, and we're packed in closer, move around more, have more vectors, and enough people refusing to vaccinate that herd immunity is breaking down in a lot of places.

The panel spent a good chunk of time on how climate change would affect communicability. (Generally it would go up. Mosquitos are pretty much the most dangerous animal in existence and the further north they go, the more it's going to suck to be humans.)  And there were some pretty sobering (by which I mean terrifying) statistics about how the rise of sea level would create some prime real estate for some of the worst kinds of infectious bugs.

One thing that struck me was how simple the first "tier" of disease prevention was. Sanitation, clean water, and accurate information was really the first line of defense and we still don't have that in a lot of parts of the world. (In one question they were each given ten billion dollars and what would they do with it and the idea of vaccines or cures didn't really come up. Ten billion dollars would save a lot of people in the developed world but the place where it would save the most would be working on plumbing and water to the places most likely to be devastated.

And that was it. I had to get back to Oakland to start watching a client's cats, so I didn't get to stick around and watch the Hugos or go to all the awesome post-Hugos parties. It was a blast and a half and other than being so tired that I'm kicking myself for trying to keep up with a daily posting instead of giving myself a day or two off, I was thrilled to have the opportunity of a lifetime.

Reflections and ruminations

(Welp, I totally lied. Our poll is going up tomorrow––along with the "final thoughts" version of this running series about Worldcon––and I may even have some juicy gossip type drama about why it didn't go up tonight when we get there. Stay tuned!)

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Very Last Chance to Nominate or Second (Best YA by a non cishet white man 2000-Present)

What is the very best YA book or series written by a woman or POC or member of the LGBTQ+ community from 2000-the present?   

This poll is from our Year of Diverse Polls. Please check this page out if you have questions about the narrowed focus.

I'm watching The Contrarian today (plus had some overdue freelance work) and a weird morning of pass-out caliber sleep (body actually catching up from the convention, I think). That means tomorrow is going to be a twofer.  You'll get the last day of my Worldcon write ups as well as this poll going live. That means you have ONE more day to get up nominations and seconds. So you get a tiny extension on getting this poll your nominations and seconds, but this is absolutely the very last chance.

And this poll is absolutely going to need seconds. **Keanu Reeves voice: "Lots of seconds."** (And thirds...and fourths.) Remember, I no longer run quarterfinals and elimination rounds. I will at most run ONE semifinal round. So I will pick between 8-22 of the titles with the most "seconds." 

Please go to the original post for rules, to check out what's there for seconding, and to drop your nomination. The poll will go live on Monday.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Worldcon Report (Day 3)


Back to the beginning

Day 1

Day 2

Saturday was a little less busy than Friday, and it got a lot less busy after I screwed up my schedule a bit. There was a panel on "epic stories" that I chose to skip. It sounds neat, but I don’t have any grand designs to write an "epic" anytime soon. There is one creeping around in my head for the "someday" pile, but if I'm being super honest, as great as the panels are, they can only broad brushstroke a subject in 50 minutes, and I kind of trust my craft instincts to that degree. Plus this epic I am thinking of is very I-thought-this-was-awesome-when-I-was-in-high-school-and-brimming-with-unchecked-privilege-and-too-many-80s-movies, and would need a lot lot lot lot of work to even be back on the drawing board.)

Anyway, I there were some chairs and outlets waaaaaay down the hall, so I took the time to get a little writing done. And it had actually been so long since I'd had a good writing session that I got distracted and carried away and ended up missing the NEXT panel too (on Space Operas).  Fortunately after that I was back on track.

Mental Health and Craft: Creating with Depression and Anxiety 

This was a great panel with a lot of wonderful ideas and insights that will definitely show up in future blog posts. But just right off the cuff I can tell you that you're not alone. It was standing room only and packed to the gills. You are not alone.

Alien Minds: What is Possible and What Can We Do with Them?

This was a really cool panel, but possibly an example of why you want your panelists to have slightly differing views instead of opposing ones. The panelists even rejected the central conceit of the panel's description (that our brain, as an evolved organ, evolved to be able to deceive and detect deception in groups of primates.

There was a surprising amount of philosophy in a panel about alien brains. We spent a huge amount of time trying to define consciousness and coming to the conclusion that we can detect it more easily than we can define it.

However once we got to the "Would be be able to talk to them?" the panel kind of went to war. One panelist made a series of assumptions about collectivism and mathematics that presumed the fundamentals of communications with what would probably be technological beings. The other panelists had a real problem with these underlying assumptions. They pointed out that communication is difficult with other HUMANS and that we might only really be able to realize that their method of communication (involving something like releasing pheromones or waving their phygellus) was perhaps not an involuntary act, to say nothing of how they communicated.

I think there's something to the idea that the lone panelist was a white guy. Like I didn't get the feeling he was a racist or sexist or anything but just that white dudes tend to find communication direct and easier and it is other folks who learn all kinds of code-switching, subtleties, nuances, and double meanings.

Two of the panelists really disagreed on basically every issue and though they were still joking when our time was up, the jokes had taken on an edge and were starting to feel uncomfortable. I think if it had been a 90 minute panel, we'd have had to watch them fight.

Stop Killing Us

This 10/10 panel was probably the highlight of my day. It was all about how there are identifiable patterns of marginalized groups whose sole representation in modern media frequently get killed.

I've written about fridging before (even its plasticity as a term that goes beyond just women), and how across media it time and again creates a "triage of human worth" but there were more dynamics drawn into this panel that are worth further exploration, so clearly I may need to cook up another article.

In particular one charming and outspoken member of the panel brought in a lot about disability intersections and pointed out how insidious and ubiquitous the trope of the disabled person who WANTS to die can be and how disabled folks are completely erased rather than AUGMENTED in most utopian fiction.

There's a lot to dig into, and I can only poke at it here, but one thing I had begun to notice at this point was an intense anxiety among the white writers who genuinely cared about getting representation right that they didn't know how to do avoid all the pitfalls between appropriation, representation, and bad representation. So I'm definitely going to be trying to write a bit on that in the coming weeks.

Geek Identity, Policing, and Gatekeeping

This panel started with a good foundation and the introductions talked a lot about folks who experienced gatekeeping in the geek world along their marginalized identities (race, sexuality, gender), but like a lot of panels (actually a LOT of them, I noticed) it quickly delved into questions of representation within geek MEDIA and drifted away from it's actual description. The questions kind of kept trying to pull the panelists back to the issue of how to fight gatekeeping and what damage rather than good the elitism did to a fandom, even just for its own sake (to say nothing of being clearly expressed along lines of bigotry), but the panelists wanted to go where they wanted to go, so we talked about representation again.

And as I've said over and over again, that is clearly something that needs more written about it.

Author vs. Fan Ownership

I picked the panels by topic, but it was cool to end up finding out that John Scalzi was the moderator.  Also, I don't think I've ever heard the word "liminal"used so often during the entire rest of my life combined.

This panel touched on ethics and legality of fanfiction and it was spectacular. We talked about how writers have created room for fan fiction in recent years and how the fan fiction has existed in some form basically forever. Even most published work is some sort of fan fiction, perhaps with the serial numbers filed off.

The fanfic authors themselves often have deep philosophical debates about where their responsibility to characters starts and ends and what sorts of things are acceptable to do with the IP they are using for their story.

The thing I noticed, which I have mentioned before, is that the point kept coming up that there was some purity in fanfic. Folks who write fanfic do so knowing they won't ever get paid. And it is actually the idea of OWNING a story (in a capitalistic way) that is the more unusual idea for pretty much all of our history as a storytelling species. And of course the feedback is almost immediate and deep and often more engaging than solicited reviews. In a way fanfic is a more pure expression of art and artistry for its own sake and and who we are as humans.

More coming tomorrow.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Worldcon Report (Day 2)


I'm going to Worldcon!

Day 1

So this post is actually about Day 2 (Friday), which was filled to the brim with panels and bereft of even time to grab a sandwich, but I crammed them in anyway because I didn't want to miss a minute and just tanked up on breakfast and brought power bars to get me through.

I also just went and went and went and went and got home and fell over. Unless I start making WAY more money from writing, this was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I didn't want to miss a thing, so apologies for being a day behind.


Representation in Geek Media- 

This was a great panel for "examples." The panelists really wanted to tell us the shows and books that they really liked.

The point that came up again and again and again was how vitaly, critically, desperately important it is for people to see folks like themselves in media. It just....changes so much about their relationship to that media. They become fans. They imagine their possibilities.

A couple of the points they made they circled back to a couple of times. Ultimately diversity injects new life into fandom and struggling against it hurts fandoms. For purely selfish reasons, creators don't want to listen to the very vocal minority of people objecting to diversity.

The second point is that came through was that people would prefer no representation to bad representation and simply seeing people like them (but not bad representation) to no representation. It was subtle, but they drew clear distinctions between problematic representation (like queer baiting or Apu) and the kind of representation that would ENDANGER them via the cultural perception of created after a constant stream of shitty stereotypes.

The hopeful takeaway is that getting representation right wasn't seen as an impossible needle to thread by anyone. Asking for some people's sensitivity reads (and either paying for, otherwise compensating for, or at minimum gushingly acknowledging their labor), usually brings up the level of representation to the point that it will work well.


Pronouns Matter––Gender Courtesy for Fans

I got a bit of a wonderful surprise when it turned out that Ann Leckie (of the Ancillary Trilogy) was the moderator for this panel. I don't fan out too hard––I think that's a side effect of seeing writing as hard work instead of ineffable––but that was pretty cool.

We hit a lot of nuance in this panel and one thing that kept becoming clear is that there wasn't always a single answer. When and where and WHY to use someone's pronouns (or possibly not) were all very personal. Outing someone, even just by asking their pronouns, could conceivably put them in a pickle. Learning to read a room is important. English is an aggressively gendered language, and that is baked into the linguistics, often even more than other power dynamics.

But everyone agreed on a couple of things. 1) If you misgender someone (assuming it is unintentional and not malicious) just apologize, fix it, and move on. The out of control, obsequious, gushing centers the person who did the misgendering as the party that feels "so bad." 2) Moving towards gender neutral language (folks instead of guys, for example) is probably nothing that's going to change the world by 2020, but it's a step in the right direction and greatly appreciated.


Geek's Guide to Literary Theory

This was a fun lecture (it wasn't a panel), but it was little bit like having a 1 hour review of my entire 12 week Literary Theory course in college. I've discussed literary theory here when it comes up (though it should never really be something consciously in one's mind while writing), but we didn't really get into the GEEK part. More just a one hour review of various schools of thought. Fun, but likely because it was not new info for me, and I'm a total nerd.

I also think deconstruction is quite a bit more involved than linguistic pedantry. [Time (n) flies(v) like an arrow (A.P.). Time(v) flies(n) like an arrow (A.P.) Time-flies (compound n) like (v) an arrow (object).] But maybe that was second hour stuff.


New Ancestral Myths

I actually left this panel after only 25 minutes or so.

It was standing room only and I hadn't had lunch, and frankly I might have been more charitable if I were sitting and fed. The beginning was really interesting––the super diverse panel pointed out the way "religion" is given to Judeo/Christian traditions and everything else is called "mythology" whether it is a living religious practice or not, and there was also a really neat point about how the "ancient mythologies" well known in the English speaking world (Greek and Roman) traced a path through what was often considered to be whiteness. And the religious beliefs (even dead religions) of people of color are almost never as well known.

Unfortunately the moderator was having some trouble keeping the panel reigned in on the topic and as we drifted further afield I found the thread of motif more and more confusing and eventually just left.


Tapping our Mythic Past

The interesting thing I saw here was what was agreed and disagreed on. The panelists disagreed furiously about bringing myth into fiction (but were incredibly civil about it). One called appropriation the "third rail" of writing and made the point that writing backgrounds they weren't from and who talked about their backgrounds meant doing one's due diligence through research and sensitivity readings, never being a stranger, avoiding stereotypes, and always treating your characters as authentic and genuine people. Another panelist was very uncomfortable with that idea, even really eschewing doing much writing about their own cultural myths. Everyone on the panel related the experience of  being called out regarding their own culture. The demographics of who came down in which camp are probably not what you might have expected either.

There was also a problem with one panelist who seemed like maybe they were a bit anxious and had some trouble with repeating themselves. Of course they also did a lot of jumping in on the questions. So we had a lot of redundancy.

However, the thing they agreed on was also interesting––that trying to find the "decoder ring" of myth ultimately undoes the myth, and the central idea they walked away with was this idea of personalizing mythic past. That is you tell a story that portrays people and tells a story, and you maybe show how that myth influences them, but you don't appropriate the myth itself as true or not. That contradictions are essential. That there is truth without facts. (Much like fiction itself, I noted.) That being okay with not knowing is an important part of indigenous myth and antithetical to colonialists and Judeo/Christian myths where everything needs to be codified, classified, turned into binaries and some truthy truth rooted out. Myth had a power that danced outside of their ability to touch it even if it wasn't "true" in the desperately objective sense of the word.

"Mythology is," one panelist said to the delight of the entire panel, "the human mind trying desperately to understand itself.


Stress Management for Creatives

Got some great ideas from this panel that will definitely show up in an upcoming post.


Afrofutureism: From Octavia to T'Challa

This was an incredible lecture with an A/V presentation and I will cover some of the points in time, but 1) it is too much to go into in a post like this and needs its own space and 2) I heard that Steve Barns might be putting up an online version and I wouldn't want to steal his thunder at all because he put a shit-ton of effort into an incredible presentation.


Imposter Syndrome: You DO Deserve To Be Here

This is another panel that will definitely transform into a future post. Good advice. Good insight, but too much to write it all out in an encapsulation.

On to day 3

Friday, August 17, 2018

Worldcon Report (Day 2––but not day 2)

Unfortunately today was my busiest day––longest day and with the smallest number of breaks (only one hour out of 9) and I'm falling asleep trying to write today's shenanigans up.

So I'm going to get some sleep, and tomorrow I will get up today's write up and probably be a day behind.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Worldcon 76 Report (Day 1)


A series of miracles means I get to go to Worldcon 76!

We had to drive today and get set up in the house where we'll be staying, but it was a pretty low-key day at the convention. Tomorrow is going to be the outrageous schedule. The only time I have open from nine to seven is the hour from five to six. Sunday and Monday are a little easier, but I sure did find a lot of panels I wanted to see.

My first panel was about Utopias and Dystopias and was probably the best of the day. We spent some time taking a moment defining the difference between the two (and anti-utopia) as well as why one seems to be harder than the other, and I can, and will, go into that in a future post but really the interesting conversation happened because of one panelist named Libia Brenda who had been added at the last minute as part of a con-wide effort to bring in more Latinx/Mexicanx perspectives. She hip checked some of the white guys on the panel (particularly one older dude) who wanted to say things like dystopias were where individuality was being stripped or that politically things maybe weren't great, but we were essentially––big picture––living in a utopia because of cell phones and technology.

No, Brenda said. First of all the US-centric idea of losing individuality wasn't necessarily so dystopic for everyone, and widening out a dystopia to incorporate other perspectives of what would be terrible could lead to superior storytelling and it might be that the utopic individuality of one culture created a dystopia for others. No, Brenda said. The cell phone is wildly powerful, but it gives you access to information, not necessarily knowledge. No, Brenda said. The white male experience in the US might be pretty cool, but the cost of even a cell phone in exploitation, conflict minerals (the warzones where a lot of minerals essential to modern cell phones are mined), and environmental damage had a dystopic dynamic to it. No, Brenda said. If we were in The Hunger Games, most of the people in the room of a convention would be the people in the CAPITAL, and writing to learn to empathize with the folks in district 12 is a vital perspective.

I was so fucking glad they added her. The moderator was doing great, but sometimes that sometimes there needs to be a stronger push back on white guys not quite realizing they are seeing things only from their perspective and she really brought the well articulated and erudite thunder. It was spectacular.

My second panel was about Reboots, Reimaginings, and Retellings, and it kind of fell apart as a panel into a bit of a free for all. (I heard lots of "I don't have a question. More of a comment really..." from the audience, and we spent a big chunk of time on whether Doctor Who's first woman Doctor was brilliant trailblazing or lazy writing. 

To his credit, I think the moderator did try to bring the audience in on some of the central questions he'd identified, like whether a retelling of a story (rather than telling a new story) had any sort of obligation to the old version. Sadly, I think the effort to have a conversation broke down too much into whether or not various people liked the all-women Ghostbusters, the reboot Star Trek movies, or the new Battlestar Galactica, and once the panel opens up to the audience, everyone wants to get their two cents in.

I wanted (and tried) to ask a question to the whole panel about whether or not humans simply retell stories shaped and framed into their own cultural value system and their own styles, and I thought the panel really gave some interesting answers about the artist vs. the profit motive, but we quickly went from profit motive into another "And you know another remake they shouldn't have remade?" and that was that. We ended with about four people in the audience kind of showing off how smart they were more than enjoying the conversation, and even though the moderator was doing the best with what he had, I think the audience was just too big for the format he really wanted.

Last I did a 101 panel on self-publishing. It was a LITTLE too 101. (Mostly stuff I've already written about and already knew.)  Also, the whole panel consisted of hybrid authors who STARTED in traditional publishing and then went to self-publishing, so I'm not sure that their "six figure" bragging and tepid interest in crowdfunding sources like Patreon were entirely realistic for a new writer.  They tossed out some more specific information (which I will try to get to in a future post) including a really good "What would the first step be" question, but I've covered most of their gestalt in previous posts––ideas like how to promote oneself, find beta readers and editors, and keep authentic content that connects them to fans.

Most of these panels will eventually end up being a post of some shape or form down the road, but for now I can only do broad brushstrokes. It's time to get some sleep now!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Worldcon 76 Report- Prologue

Our regularly scheduled programming around here (such as it is) is going to take a few days off while I bring you reports from Worldcon 76.

I'm going to Worldcon this year!

For those who don't know, Worldcon is a convention for writers. And while it has some overlap with costuming, and a lot of other general nerdery going on, it is specifically for writers. Topics of events run from how to self publish to including diverse voices in one's writing.

I never really expected to be going to Worldcon. Maybe in some halfway pipe dream future where I've got way more income going on than I do today. I like gaming conventions even though they're usually a bit more peopling than I am able to handle. I've heard stories about Worldcon that made me envious of the panels and stuff, but it is really outside my budget. It moves around the world and even when it's in the USA the travel expenses, ticket price for the con itself, and hotel booking for multiple days pushes it up to easily over a thousand dollars. That's big bucks for a little fifth rate blogger like me. And while Worldcon definitely sounded cool, I probably wasn't going to drop a thousand bucks on ANY vacation until I'd been to Disney World.

Then the perfect storm happened. The perfect storm....of awesome.

Worldcon is in San Jose this year which is only about an hour drive south from where I live. Cap is going there to do some work making the world a better place, and has a friend with crash space for the both of us. And she bought me the ticket for an early birthday present. I'm one of those people who sees what's possible and carefully manages my expectations. Cap is one of those people who says "Let's go get what you want––we'll find a way!"

And she did.

Thus, instead of our regular fare, I'm going to try to write a report every night. I'll do this like I'm a serious writer/blogger type, and pack a notebook and pencil and everything. I'll take notes and shit to write up in the evenings about the events I attended and what they were like. I'm not sure exactly how much time I'll have at the end of each evening, but I'll get as much up as I can and if there are lingering thoughts I'll put them in some subsequent write ups.

Sound good?  Okay, I need to pack. See you at Worldcon.

Day 1

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

REMINDER: Seconds Needed (Best YA not by a Cishet White Man 2000-Present)

What is the very best YA book or series written by a woman or POC or member of the LGBTQ+ community from 2000-the present?   

This poll is from our Year of Diverse Polls. Please check this page out if you have questions about the narrowed focus.

So we're headed into a bit of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants spot here. Starting tomorrow I'm going to be talking a lot about Worldcon 76 since a perfect storm of factors means I actually get to go. I plan to go, and write a little about what I see each day. Then on Monday this poll is going live.

And it's absolutely going to need seconds. (And thirds...and fourths.) Remember, I no longer run quarterfinals and elimination rounds. I will at most run ONE semifinal round. So I will pick between 8-22 of the titles with the most "seconds." 

Please go to the original post for rules, to check out what's there for seconding, and to drop your nomination. The poll will go live on Monday.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Best of 2018 by Month


[Note: Everything in Brackets will disappear in a few weeks.  We now have enough months of 2018 to set up the newest part of our Best of W.A.W. menu––always along those tab menus at the top. It's been a tough year, but we've still managed to do some good writing.]

January

Ursula K. LeGuin (in Memoriam) 
2018 Update Schedule (Buckle up Broflakes and SQiD's) Letting out the throttle on those social justice posts.
A Dozen Ways to Help You Not Write Every Day (If That's Your Jam) "Write every day" is excellent advice, but if you can't....

February

Actual Protip: Don't Do This Terry Goodkind demonstrates what not to do.
J.A.Q.ing Off in the Comments (Social Justice Bard) But I'm just asking questions.
Writing About Writing Needs Your Help We could use your help.

March

Duck Shaped Bigotry Something about ducks and water and....bigots.
15(?) Things Dungeons and Dragons Taught Me About How to Write (Part 1) And not just what the word proficiency means.
Why are Movie Adaptations so Iffy (Mailbox) Book nerds are seldom happy.

April

A Baker's Dozen Random Bits of Writing Advice I Wish Someone Had told ME (And two that someone did) Sometimes the advice doesn't fit neatly into a single topic.
Writing About Writing Staff Meeting Oh those wacky guys.
Writing Prompt: Short Term Goals Where do you want to be this time next year?

May

Words Fucking Matter Calling immigrants "animals" has a long and sordid history.
Fortune Cookie XV Bite sized nuggets of something kind of like wisdom.
Can You get up One More Time (Success in the World of Art) Resilience trumps talent every time.

June

Inspiration: The Little Things (Also Some Little Things) Have you heard the news?
Leela Bruce fights ALL the Dialogue Attribution Advice A Yojimbo style tale of two warring factions.
Twenty Questions (Personal/Meta) Did you just ask me if I got involved with my fans?

July

That Moment We Knew Was Coming I blew up at 5 weeks into summer school. Right on schedule.
We Regret to Inform You Appeals posts shouldn't be this popular, but.....
Twenty Questions (Publishing/Blogging/FB and Social Media) What the hell was I thinking? This post is almost 20 full mailboxes.

August

Hospitalized
Won't Someone Think of the Straight White Males? (Mailbox)
10 Addendums to Write Every Day (The Article Some of You Have Been Waiting Your Whole Lives For)

Sunday, August 12, 2018

If You're Supporting Writing About Writing Financially


We interrupt your regularly scheduled admin post for an important announcement.

If you've set up some kind of recurring payment to WAW, I sure could use your help.

If you are currently financially supporting Writing About Writing through a monthly contribution to Paypal or through Patreon, first of all, thank you so much. We literally couldn't do it without you. Budgeting is the HARDEST part of the whole "working writer" part right now since my income can fluctuate as much as $500 dollars from month to month. A steady amount I can count on is the reason I've been able to phase out day jobs and side gigs to bring you more writing. Also having food is just....lovely.

However, if you set up your support as an ongoing monthly payment and then forgot about it, you could do me a solid by checking to make sure your credit card information is up to date? Part of Patreon is that a certain number of cards get declined each month, but the number has been aggregating, and it was a couple hundred dollars in August, including a couple of Paypal cards. That's over 15% of my current count-on-able income.

If this payment-fail matches a good time in your life to take a break, then I hate to see you go, but I totally understand. However, for those of you who intended to make the contribution, a quick check would do me a world of favor. Especially if recently you got a replacement card or something.