I’m stunned …

I imagine many of my readers are well aware of the critical lack of good sense and logic presented yesterday in the 6th circuit court decision (readers outside the US may be less aware, but you’ll get it soon).

I wanted to quote the meat of what one of the judges said on the matter which showed an acute misunderstanding of the purpose of the courts in this country.  It’s covered by the dissenting judge’s statement, but I wanted it for the contrast.  I can’t find it now, and while I can find the PDF of the decision, it’s very long and I got a headache trying to find what I wanted.

In any case the bans were upheld because the judge said that it is a matter of social change that the people seeking that change should find through conversation in the political sphere and therefore is none of the court’s business.

Because, of course, it’s none of the court’s business to uphold the constitution and overturn unjust or unconstitutional law!?  The main reason I wanted to quote the statement was because it was such complete bullshit that it was staggering.  I almost felt that the only way the two judges that upheld the ban could possibly have said anything so inherently stupid was just to force the issue to be handled by the US Supreme Court.

The dissenting opinion really covers the matter very well, so I present it here:

Thursday’s decision by the Sixth Circuit upholding four states’ ban on same-sex marriage humored many of conservatives’ favorite arguments, but the 2-1 decision included a fiery dissent by Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey, a Clinton appointee. While Daughtrey’s opinion challenged many of the majority’s arguments, she made an overall point that encapsulates what’s lacking — and harmful — about the most modern arguments against marriage equality.

“In the main, the majority treats both the issues and the litigants here as mere abstractions,” she wrote. “Instead of recognizing the plaintiffs as persons, suffering actual harm as a result of being denied the right to marry where they reside or the right to have their valid marriages recognized there, my colleagues view the plaintiffs as social activists who have somehow stumbled into federal court, inadvisably, when they should be out campaigning to win ‘the hearts and minds’ of Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee voters to their cause.”

That’s the biggest divide between the two sides on same-sex marriage: is it an issue, or is it about people?

She specifically talks in detail about the Michigan plaintiffs, April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, a lesbian couple who have been together for eight years and are raising three children, two of whom are now categorized as having “special needs.” Each of the children is only legally adopted by either DeBoer and Rowse, because Michigan prevents them from co-adopting as a same-sex couple. Daughtrey said she’d have no problem upholding the district court ruling in their favor, noting that “the State of Michigan allows heterosexual couples to marry even if the couple does not wish to have children, even if the couple does not have sufficient resources or education to care for children, even if the parents are pedophiles or child abusers, and even if the parents are drug addicts.”

Confirmation and related thoughts

English: Chris Hemsworth at a press conference...

English: Chris Hemsworth at a press conference for Thor in London in April 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, by now, I’m sure many of you have read this interview I gave.  In it I mention my wife.

It was no great secret, really, I just wasn’t going to shout it from the rooftops because it wasn’t an important detail.  It wasn’t until the context of the interview answer that there was some reason to say it, because I’ll be damned if I’m going to be as awkward as “significant other” or “spouse” or something else like that just to avoid saying if I’m a lesbian or not.

I am.  I’m not in the closet about it at all.  My wife and I happily hold hands in public, we kiss at the park, all the things any other couple does.

As I’ve said before I saw no point in announcing details, because it seemed to me it would detract from people appreciating my work on its own merits.  At this point, if it were to become wider knowledge that I’m gay, it would leave me wondering:  did someone buy the books because I’m a lesbian or because they wanted to read the books?

Still, in this day it is generally impossible to keep such things secret forever, and I’m not going to dance around a point if the conversation winds up moving in that direction.

I can’t say it’s very traumatic for me.  Much as the case with my characters, it was not anything earth shattering when I came out – my family accepted and supported it without reservation or any fuss.  My friends seemed rather unfazed by the fact.  Which, frankly, is as it should be.  I can’t even say I’ve been harassed by strangers about it; though in perfect honesty I’m left wondering a lot if the people likely to just didn’t work it out in time to say something; it’s really amazing when the couple in question is female how few people register ‘couple’ instead of ‘friends/sisters’.  Strangely enough, when the couple is male the opposite is true:  people think ‘couple’ before it occurs to them it could be friends or brothers.  It’s why I agree so much with the idea that there are times and ways it can be rough for men, and while I’m not very keen on “the mens’ rights movement” I am in favour of the sorts of ideas relating to the fact that there are male stereotypes and gender expectations that are just as hurtful (I’m willing to concede more so, if someone can present data, but we’ll go with equal measure for now, certainly I’m not going to agree to anything less without very clear metrics) to little boys and grown men alike as the ones so often decried as damaging our little girls and our grown women.

A lesbian couple married in San Francisco in 2004

A lesbian couple married in San Francisco in 2004 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes, I’m married to my wife.  No, it’s not legally binding where we live:  more’s the pity.

Still, I didn’t need to be lesbian to write Now & Forever.  Love, I feel, is love.  I could have written a classic boy-meets-girl, a heterosexual romance, just as easily by finding a man to put in Lauren or Salencia’s place.  Laurne or Sally could be transgender, either as in one of them truly feels she is hi, instead, or that one of them was once actually Lawrence or Salencio and have long since transitioned to the girls we know; they aren’t, but there’s no reason they couldn’t have been.

I say this because it is important to me that people realise that it’s stupid to support an author for who they are or are not, rather than for what they’ve done.  I can understand one who incensed you sufficiently not to wish to put money in her pocket; but buy the work used if you’re curious, otherwise give it a miss certainly.  The fact of the matter is that I don’t wish for anyone to feel that my gender or sexuality had anything whatsoever to do with any feelings of validity or reality in the characters.  I’ve written convincing males before, just not in anything I’ve bothered with publishing, just short little things I wrote for my own pleasure and amusement, some of them not even enough to call a vignette and the validity of these males is confirmed by males I know, QED.

So, yes, here, publicly, as this post will be right where Google and Bing can find it next time they crawl my page, I’m out in a big way.  Wow, Jaye Em Edgecliff is a [insert lesbian epitaph of your choice]!  Amazing.  And, I suppose, it is worth mentioning, yes I am actually gay – not bi, or pan, or any of that sort of thing, I’ve never seen the appeal in masculine bodies except for a few little tugs from an ingrained reproductive instinct that seems to feel Chris Hemsworth would be an awesome choice to have kids with.

I am not, however, going to start updating my biographical information anywhere to discuss that I’m female, nor that I like other females, that I’m married or to whom or what.  It will be a fact, those who care and are diligent in their research can find out, otherwise it will be left as a passing detail, a bit of data that has no more bearing on me professionally than the fact that my birthday is in July.

I encourage people who look to authors they follow and read:  be an ally.  I’m not talking Social Justice Warrior, most of them annoy … everyone as far as I can tell, certainly I’m inclined to not take them seriously … but just if you’re straight that doesn’t mean you can’t stand up for the civil rights of homosexuals even if you don’t know any (besides, odds are that you do and just don’t know it) or of transgender people, intersexed, bisexuals, etc.  I certainly don’t post the things I do on my Facebook page to be self serving, I do it to support and acknowledge the humanity of those around me whatever and whomever they are – unless you’re being cruel to animals or anyone else who is helpless, then I don’t tend to consider you human anymore and reckon you have every right to rot in as many hells as there might turn out to be.  Actually, blanket statement:  don’t be a dick.  There.

I’ve rambled more than usual.  It probably means I’ve not had hardly enough to eat today and my brain is shutting down.  But I just wanted to affirm:  yes the interview was legit, yes, I’m married to a woman, yes I’m gay; now let’s talk about something important.

Some people would turn off comments at for a post like this.  I won’t.  At least not unless people decide to get really stupid or ugly in them.  Odds are no one will partake of them anyway.  But they’re there if this has left anyone with an itch to speak her mind.

Love to all.

Reality versus intent OR Why #GamerGate IS evil

I’ve probably never mentioned it before, but I am a gamer.  I love games.  Board games of various shapes and sizes, card games, pen & paper RPG, computer games, video games (old school for Arcade/Console), all of that.

Now, for those in the know, there’s this thing going on that has dubbed itself #GamerGate thanks to a twit by the ever lovable (said with dripping sarcasm, though I do adore him as Jayne, I just hate that he didn’t have to act for the part) Adam Baldwin dubbing it so.

And right about then was when things really went to Hell in a handbasket, frankly.

Long story short there’s a not so great game out there about depression.  It’s around for a couple years, and due to not being all that exceptional it was a little surprising when it suddenly gets a lot of attention.  Whatever, it happens.  Well, an ex-boyfriend (“ex” being an old Latin prefix that means “do not to trust this person as an accurate primary source of information”) said it came from her shagging a game reviewer.  So, ostensibly, the whole thing is about journalistic integrity and ethics in journalism.

Except it really isn’t.  Not in practice.

Now, in it’s intent, I have no problem with #GamerGate.  Really, on paper, it’s fine.  I agree with it, even.  And not just gaming journalism, just journalism in general.  I mean, has anyone seen the statistic on the number of inaccuracies in Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, etc?  Appalling!

In practice and reality I loathe, oppose, and deride #GamerGate.

But, Jaye, WHY!?

Because of the reality.  The reality is that before it had a name it was, as far as the most active adherents, people personally attacking the person who wrote the game, publicising her private information (aka “doxxing” though I’ll be buggered to know why), and threatening violence.  Yeah, real mature, folks.

Then it gets a name, and it’s being used to lob horrible things at women involved in gaming in any fashion.  Even the sweet, quirky, Ms Felicia Day was not immune.

Here’s the thing, it’s kind of like feminism except this one has actually managed to go too far; most feminists aren’t really like the Womynists on PCU (though some are), and feminism is able to keep the strongest spotlights on the sane & rational people like Ms Emma Watson.  #GamerGate, on the other hand … no, you have the people who make Adam Baldwin and his character Jayne look sweet, thoughtful, empathic, and cuddly.

If you support the ethics in journalism part but not the misogyny, threats, etc.  You need to dissociate from #GamerGate.  The trolls have taken over and are entrenched.  Anything you say or do now in support of it is seen by those around you as being in support of the hate and psychotic behaviour.  It also doesn’t help that a lot of people trying to defend it do so in a very misogynist, racist, and/or hateful/trollish fashion.

My dear readers, I will not even repeat a sampling of what is being said by the GamerGaters, I won’t.  I’ve had precious little to eat this morning, and would like not to vomit it back up; also I am, ostensibly, a lady and … just … sick.  It’s sick.  Really, I give even a strong constitution 50/50 odds of becoming ill in the first 3minutes of exploring “GamerGate” on either Google or Twitter.

It’s the thing with causes.  An ideology can be usurped by the insane.  If the insane get enough attention, then your ideology is tainted by this.  This doesn’t mean abandon the cause, nor to abandon the ideology, it does mean you should distance yourself.  Some fights aren’t worth fighting, some fights are lost before they’re begun.  The first thing I’ll say is, with any cause and any ideology you’ll have a psychotic fringe element, fight to keep them off the Television (figuratively and literally – it’s like southerners and that woman in the mumu and sponge rollers Jeff Foxworthy mentions in his act); if you lose that fight … Well, the thing is, sometimes you need to fight to establish a new name after you assess where things went wrong to try to avoid the same in the future.  Your fight, too, is now harder, because now you do have to be careful how you defend yourself.

Take this image as a for example:

B0uRBtDCUAAfSbJAt first doesn’t seem too bad.  But some things that I know would be attacked:  First and most important is the extraordinary number of women, non-whites, and LGBT who are vehemently opposed to GamerGate and have VERY publicly said so (this woman, being among that list).  Secondly would be the fact that someone is going to point out that they chose six people who, at least by the photos selected, could pass for white, not to mention only two people aren’t.  Finally, “Disabled” is not a sexuality, a gender identity, nor a race.

It’s an almost decent effort, but it’d be picked apart (and has been, though I’m in no mood to look for the links).

While it may be true that you can win back a cause and a name through diligent fighting off of the trolls, and the rational clawing their way into the spotlight and refusing to relinquish it to the nutjobs, you’re not going to do that by being a troll yourself only with better spelling and grammar.  You’re also not going to do that when, while already being taken anything but seriously, you defend yourself with information that it would take less than a nanosecond to see was incorrect just by the person looking up or down from your post (given that this is largely happening on Twitter) and seeing all the NOT cisgender white men attacking it.  Also you need to not just say “it’s not about misogyny”, if that’s the case then you need to stop reacting to the ant-#GamerGaters exclusively, you need to also react to the misogynists and racists, you need to acknowledge that we have a point.  We’re willing to concede to you that ethical journalism is important; we might point out that it’s actually a very small statistical sampling of online game reviewers who seem guilty of any unethical behaviour, though it’s pretty true elsewhere, but we concede the ideology without reservation — how about, now, you acknowledge that manly men can say as they like about #GamerGate but not so manly men or any woman can’t say a damned thing without being attacked.  Hell, some didn’t even know #GamerGate existed before she was being attacked by #GamerGaters.

In the 60s’ civil rights movement there were many blacks who criticised the Black Panthers and Malcom X (In Malcom’s defense, he did come around to a more Dr King look at things, I refer to when he first came on the scene).  In the feminist movement there are many ladies who will tell off a rad-fem woman for her extremism.  Even the male rights activists have a point! except that they haven’t managed to chisel out from under the fact that the movement seems (and please, anyone better acquainted with the history correct me if I’m wrong) to have been founded by the grunting apeman sort of guys which doesn’t much help the point for the ones who do have something worthwhile to say.

In its current form #GamerGate is bad.  It’s a cesspool of hatred, misogyny, racism, homophobia, transphobia, anti-feminism, and a lot of other not-so-kosher things.  Is there Truth and sense in there?  Yes.  Is it the majority being drown out by a vocal minority or is it a trollish majority being defended by a rational minority?  Far as I can tell, the latter and all too often “rational” is being a little generous.

I’ve got rambly, I’m sorry.  Thing is, whatever you fight for, you cannot defend it blindly.  Blind patriotism, blind environmentalism, blind feminism, blind anything, is blind.  It’s handicapped, and it’s (pardon the pun) shortsighted.  If you wish for the reality of a thing and its intent to remain aligned you have to fight your extremist supporters, those who hurt you with their support.  I tend to applaud people, like the CEO of Starbucks, who tell people they disagree with to take their money elsewhere – they’re business people, but they feel that principals are more important than money, bravo!  Greenpeace, PETA, etc. they have good points, they do good work, that doesn’t mean they’re always right and every action done by them or in their name or in the name of a cause they support is right and good and noble.

#GamerGate is, in the end, just one more example of it not mattering one whit what you mean, if what people see and perceive is something else.  Reality is, in large part, perception.  Dr King is criticised for elevating Rosa Parks over an unwed, pregnant teen girl who’d done the same thing around the same time … because image matters, that unwed girl with a pregnant belly would have hurt his point because people would have got hung up on how horrible she was and missed the message.  Just as that graphic above doesn’t help, because it has too many flaws that people will be paying more attention to than the point it tries to make.  Our actions, our words, they define us.  We must balance Good Cause with Wise Action; we have to balance Good Idea with Reasoned Statements.

Remember, those journalists, those coders, they’re human beings.  First that means they have feelings.  This doesn’t mean don’t criticise them, but it does mean that you shouldn’t treat them as some practice dummy in a medieval training ground, there for you to hack and slash at with impunity.  We’re all people.  We all have lives, we all make mistakes, we all have feelings.  I’m sure the people doxxing Felicia Day and calling her such horrible things, wouldn’t be too happy to have the same medicine dosed on them; “Do unto others …” hast many a wise man said, after all.

About me Q & A #1

I have no idea how often or how regular I’m going to do this, but I’m bored to the point of whimsical right now and felt like doing this to amuse myself.

I’m going to interview myself about whatever happens to come to mind.

Future versions of this might feature favourite questions from comments, emails, Facebook, or Twitter.

Are you a vegetarian/vegan?

No.  Though I was until I got married to someone who I can’t seem to convince that humans aren’t carnivores – I didn’t grow up not eating meat so it was no hardship to give in to the fact that I was not going to win the argument against cooking steaks, chicken, pork, etc.

So you’re married?

Yes

To a man or woman?

Yes

Tea or Coffee?

Tea by preference, though if I’ve an empty stomach I have to keep it to specific herbals or just go with coffee.  Tea on an empty tummy makes me extremely sick for no reason I can understand.

You use a peculiar grammar and spelling, where are you from?

Books.  Seriously, I learned most of what I know of English from reading so much; I read a great many English authours and American authours from the days when the written languages between English and American weren’t as different, but I do read some newer American authours which causes some of the peculiarities.  Where I was formally educated really is irrelevant since I don’t actually remember a damned thing from my English lessons, and my family speaks with a rather eclectic mix of dialects and accents.

Your books seem a little mixed on the subject of feminism, but you admit that you’re a woman.  Are you a feminist or anti-feminist?

Neither.  My feelings on the matter of this stuff I think can be best stated by Ms Emma Watson in her amazing speech to the U.N.  I believe in equality.  A woman who wants to be June Cleaver and a woman who wants to be just this side of Teddy Roosevelt after male-to-female transition are both advancing the cause of feminism since the whole point comes down to having the freedom to choose, and I think that (as Ms Watson said) we too often forget the poor gents in the subject.  They have their own degrading stereotypes as well – what business is it of mine if Dennis Rodman wants to wear a dress?  I’m not going to tell him he’s any less a man for it.

Your “biography” page says you don’t speak Swahili.  Do you speak any other languages besides English?  Your books have French and Italian in them …

And I’m quite good at faking those languages with a little help from a dictionary and the Latin I studied in school.  I, sadly, no longer have any functional proficiency in Latin even though I adore the language (far too little opportunity to use and expand, the dangers of studying a dead language), but I remember enough of the core of the language to understand how to use what I look up when translating out of English and into the French and Italian used in my stories.  English is my only fluent language, though I’m conversant in American so long as the topic doesn’t stray too far.

You mention that your writing only pays your power bill, what do you do for a living?

Telephony switch engineering.  I work for an internet/cable/phone company fixing switch issues with customers’ phone features and phone services.  Before that, with the same company, I worked various permutations of technical support for either the customers themselves or the in-field technicians.  Mostly it’s a very boring job, and I’m not sure with what it pays “a living” is a strictly accurate term, but it pays the rent.

Mac or PC?

Amiga.  Sadly they’re getting more than a little dated, so I use Macs.  If I must use a PC I put Debian Linux (Testing) on it … or, by ultimate preference, DOS.  I’ve been using computers for a long time.  I’ve used a plethora of hardware, OS, software.  I’ve things I like and hate about most things, Windows and most Microsoft products are the sole exception:  I find nothing positive to say about their products that couldn’t be said about anything else like them and couldn’t have been said about those other things first … but could go on at length about all the things I hate.  The single positive thing is that MS Word does make putting different page numbering in one part of a document versus another easier than any other current word processor.

iOS or Android?

Neither, or iOS.  For a tablet I prefer iOS.  I have rather mixed feelings about smartphones.  Android, by-and-large doesn’t impress me, though I’ve nothing against it in theory, just in specific details of how it’s implemented.  Most reasoned arguments against Android generally echo my own feelings about it.

And I think that concludes for now.  I’ve run out of ideas, and probably should stop goofing off now anyway.

cheers! :)

[Reblog] Reasonably Unscrewed-Up Character ≠ Mary Sue

Jaye:

Once again, Scalzi says something beautifully that’s been bugging me.

No one’s said this about any of my characters, no, but that’s because of a lack of SF. Fantasy/SciFi is outrageous with this stuff. It’s almost perverse … correction, it IS perverse.

Seriously, I’m waiting for the day Bilbo Baggins is routinely accused of being a Mary Sue.

Originally posted on Whatever:

When Mary and I were doing the Q & A portion of our Borderlands Books appearance, I went off the ranch a bit and kvetched about one of my pet peeves concerning science fiction reviewers, which is the assumption that any main character who is not screwed-up is somehow automatically a Mary Sue wish fulfillment character for the writer… or perhaps more accurately that my main characters are Mary Sues for me. Rather than recreate the kvetch, let me transcribe it here, edited slightly so you don’t get every stutter and “uh”:

Forgive me father, for I have sinned, I have been reading my reviews. And there’s one thing that just always pisses me off, and that it is that when they mention characters, they say, well his main character is fine and blah blah blah but it’s really just a Mary Sue character. And it just drives…

View original 817 more words

Thoughts on piracy

The Pirate Bay logo

The Pirate Bay logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At what point is it okay to share the works of someone who is trying, or hoping to make a living at an artistic endeavour?  Is it once they’ve achieved a living by it?  When they’re rich by it?

With the internet, it’s certainly hard to fight it.  Fight too hard and, like Metallica, you just make it worse.  Don’t fight it hard enough and you’ll never get it to stop … assuming it’s even possible.  So there’s a certain futility to it all.

I know people who’ll pirate TV shows, movies, music, etc.  In some cases that’s the end of it; they have it and they’re not going to pay for it.  Some decide it was worthwhile and so buy the DVD, BluRay, CD, iTunes, whatever.  Some of the former would have bought it if a torrent didn’t exist, some refuse to ever pay for media.

Those who use piracy as a sort of library, I honestly have no issue with.  Or maybe you’re using it because you go to listen to your favourite tape, LP, or CD and discover it’s broken or ruined and it’ll be a few hundred dollars to replace because it’s out of print or something.  Seen more than a few people hunting down torrents of video games for that reason.

I don’t think file-sharing in itself is inherently bad.  As with most things, it’s intent.

Some people just share things because they can.  They don’t realise, or don’t care, that there are real people hurt by this.  Others do it as a sort of finger to capitalism and similar.  There are those who refuse to believe that data can, in some kind of sense, belong to someone.

I’ve recently found one of my books on several torrent sites.  And to get it down is very likely to require the help of a lawyer due to the rather convoluted policies on the part of both the DMCA and those sites’ interpretation of it.

On one hand, I almost feel happy:  someone liked my book well enough to share it?  And people want it badly enough to be downloading it this way?

On the other … I looked at the tracker statistics:  There’re twice as many people downloading that book as I type this than paid for it in the past two months.

I’m not so unrealistic as to believe that all of those are people who would have ever found my book to buy in the first place; there’re people whose personal Amazon is TorrentReactor.  I am not so unrealistic to believe that there are not some who see The Pirate Bay as a sort of lending library without due dates, or as a sort of free Netflix.

Still, it hurts.  It hurts personally that there are people out there who would enjoy someone’s hard work, but be unwilling to get it legally; unwilling to support that artist so that they might provide more work to enjoy.  I’ve seen musicians argue that, these days, don’t sell the music sell the merchandise – if they buy the shirt they get the MP3, according to an MC Lars song.  That’s fine and well for musicians.  What of authors?  What merchandise do we have?  That may work for some genres, but not all.  Too, I do have a bit of that; if you buy the print book from Amazon the e-book is free.

Thing is, with many arts, it’s a labour of love in the first place.  Many a musician, many a filmmaker, many a writer has to have a day job to pay the bills.  New York Times Bestselling authors who have to work to put food in the cupboards and pay the rent. Certainly those of us without that prestige … Now & Forever has two books out and both have hit the best seller charts in more than one country, not bad.  Amazon best sellers, at that!  Not sitewide, though.  Genre.  Yes, one of them did hit a point above one of the new big titles in YA romance.  Tally that against the statistics of how many people don’t read.  Best seller, in all but the most remarkable of cases; award winning, inall but the most remarkable of cases … these things do not mean well off, they don’t mean going through the dollars with a plow … they mean we make anything at all.  My writing pays my electric bill, sometimes.

The people who created the torrent of my book will probably never read this.  Even if they do, they’re as likely to troll in the comments as to take it down – the most likely is they’ll read it, shrug, and move on with no reaction at all.  I’ve no idea what I will or can do about the torrents; they exist, hundreds of people have downloaded them and the book (by-the-by, they used a terrible program to create the Kindle version put in there so it’s ugly … the ePub is one they got from one retailer or another) … I could get rid of the torrents today, and tomorrow, next week, next month … they’d be back.  With the sales lost, because some sales ARE lost, just no, not as many as the RIAA and MPAA try to claim, there’s no hope of ever affording the lawyer’s fees, to make it stop.  Maybe I’ll join the RWA, I think they offer legal services to members.

No I will not sue the people who want my book.  I’m not Metallica, I know a good portion of the downloaders are just kids, or the curious.  The torrent creators, they might get sued, but I know perfectly well how easy it can be for one to do these things without leaving any breadcrumbs … a little clever use of TOR or I2P and no one can find you unless you do something daft.  What?  Women can understand hacking and the internet, too.  Even those of us who prefer OSX and do our writing with ink and parchment; some of us just take an academic approach to it rather than a practical one.

I won’t ask you not to download the torrents; I will, however, beg you:  if you enjoy the book, consider buying a copy.  I have no magical power to know how many people possess a copy of my book, no magical power to know if and how much you enjoy it.  Reading a book does not support the author.  Tell your friends it exists, encourage them to read it?  That can, yes, though it helps if you do so in a way that at least some of them buy it; it certainly helps to nominate it for awards and to vote for it when it’s been nominated.  Leaving reviews, leaving ratings.  These things help.  That’s cheerleading, buying the product?  That supports the author herself; it’s money in her pocket.  If she’s with a big publisher, yes, it means you probably bought her the postage stamp she just put on her reply to a fan’s letter – sad, but true, though that’s no reason not to buy her book … if it doesn’t sell, and the publisher isn’t counting torrent tracker stats as sales by any measure, then they won’t renew her for another book.  If she’s self-publisher, you’ve probably bought her a cup of tea, a little nicer … but without a big marketing team, Ingram distribution, people whose job it is to ensure that the book is on Barnes & Nobles’ physical store shelves, etc … she gets precious few cups of tea as it is, don’t deny her another … she loves tea, it makes her happy, and a happy writer writes more books.

It’s all down to intent – don’t hurt the artists you love.  Like Boris Vallejo?  Buy a book of his art that has some of your favourites from that JPEG collection you downloaded.  Like Imagine Me & You?  It’s often only us$5 at Big Lots for the DVD (remember, used sales aren’t sales, you supported the store, not the artist(s)).  Love Arden Kaywin’s latest album?  Why not, at least, get your favourite tracks on iTunes?  Want to read Love or Lust all the way through, rather than just the sample, before you buy?  Fair enough, I completely understand that – too many books out there, big/small/self published where the editing and story telling are only good up to the end of the sample, everything from the next page on is a rough draft, and a bad one, at that; and of course you won’t take my word for it that I take more pride in myself and my work than to do that to people.  When you’re done, consider grabbing a copy from somewhere.  If you like having the ePub and the Kindle version, I recommend getting it from DriveThru Fiction or All Romance E-Books; I had no control over the Kindle file created by Smashwords and therefore cannot recommend it in good conscience, but all three will give you both formats in a single purchase and my lack of DRM means you can convert any retail source’s file to whatever format you wish, just don’t blame me if it doesn’t come out well.

Ask and ye shall be answered!

I’ve always had my contact form and page and I always will.  You are more than welcome to say anything you wish to me in private.  Do be warned that if you go too far in saying anything creepy or disturbing I am also welcome to contact the FBI or Interpol, just saying.

And I’ve got my FAQ where you’re welcome to ask me things, and I’ll gladly answer them – and I’ll gladly delete anything that is naught but trolling.

There’s a third option.  Given the nature of my FAQ I’m not sure why I enabled it, possibly I just thought it’d be interesting to see if it creates a different sort of interaction.  Maybe I’m merely curious.  Maybe I just like seeing what buttons do.  Maybe it’s some or all of the above in combination.  I really couldn’t say, but I did and it’s here.

[REBLOG]: Jake’s Last Mission, conflict, a defense of Kristark’s Coronation as a story, probably other stuff too because I’m writing this right before bed so my inner editor is already asleep

This was linked to via pingback on this other reblog I made and it was, I thought, a good if rambly and typo riddled take on the subject; in her defense, the author does indicate she was writing the the small hours of the morning – ah, the logics of 2AM.

My own work “lacks conflict” and according to one or two reviews “lacks plot” because 1) these two things, by many’s definition, are one and the same and 2) because some people really have a poor understanding of what those words mean

1) Plot is A happens, then B happens, then C happens.  That’s all plot is.  It’s “wha-happ’n’d”.  Nothing more, nothing less.  It’s very difficult to tell any story of any sort, even a vignette, without having, by strict definition, a plot.  Conflict is … well, it’s conflict.  It’s the characters’ internal struggles, it’s their struggles against their environment, it’s their struggles against others.

2) The very fact that time passes within Now & Forever is an indicator that there’s a plot.  A single thread of plot?  Yes, actually, though it’s only liable to be clearly visible once all four books are written — though I’ll say it now:  the plot is the girls’ growing love and them growing up, and how that impacts their love and relationship; put more succinctly the plot is two high school sweethearts getting through high school together.

Conflict abounds, though it is in no way the driving force of the story.  There’s minor conflict between Lauren and Sally – as any couple will, they have their disagreements, and we see them.  Maybe it’s not generally a flaming row, but not all couples have those.  There’s “[wo]man versus [her] environment”.  I’m sorry, but even in Washington, the US is not and in 2010 – 2014 was not a terribly wonderful place to be homosexual, this is not a major factor of the story, but it is a primary source of what conflict exists.  It also has “[wo]man versus [her]self” given that the girls are growing up and have their doubts and insecurities that come with such things and that come with being in love.

Honestly, though, I’m merely echoing … more or less, anyway … what this other post says with my own stories inserted in place of hers.

Jake’s Last Mission, conflict, a defense of Kristark’s Coronation as a story, probably other stuff too because I’m writing this right before bed so my inner editor is already asleep

Ursula K. Le Guin

Ursula K. Le Guin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First, I apologize in advance for, even for me, an unusual amount of rambly-ness in this post.  And typos.  And homonym errors.  If I had any sense, I’d probably wait until tomorrow . . . err, later today, I guess . . . to write this.  If I had any sense, however, I’d have gone into a much more lucrative career than writing space opera, so . . .

Second, this isn’t complaining about my reviews.  My reviewers are entitled to their opinions.  They just gave me something concrete to point at while I make a point about something that’s been bothering me for quite a long time.

Now, on to my actual post:

Ursula K. LeGuin said:

Modernist manuals of writing often conflate story with conflict. This reductionism reflects a culture that inflates aggression and competition while cultivating ignorance of other behavioral options. No narrative of any complexity can be built on or reduced to a single element. Conflict is one kind of behavior. There are others, equally important in any human life, such as relating, finding, losing, bearing, discovering, parting, changing.

Change is the universal aspect of all these sources of story. Story is something moving, something happening, something or somebody changing.

I just discovered this quote a few days ago, but it’s something I’ve thought of before.  Years ago, in fact, I argued this very point on a rpg forum when I was told, pretty much, by some people that my games couldn’t possibly be fun because conflict wasn’t the driving force.  And it wasn’t even a “rpgs are about killin’ things and gettin’ mad loot” or whatever thing.  Apparently if there’s a love story in your game or story, the drama and change that comes just from being in a relationship isn’t enough, you have to bring in soap opera elements like love triangles and kidnappings and such, for example.  Change wasn’t enough; there had to be conflict, according to these people. (continued)

Mind leakage

Calvin (Calvin and Hobbes)

Calvin (Calvin and Hobbes) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, very recently I posted this which contemplated the ‘obligation’ of those of us who have a voice in the public ear to be out about … ourselves, really.

After much thought and discussion I’ve decide that I agree with myself.  I’ve no obligation whatsoever to say if I’m straight or gay, bi- or pansexual.  If I’m married, single, dating, taken a vow of chastity (though in all sincerity I share Sally’s view of that) that’s my own business.  Hell the only validity to saying if I’m male or female is because English has gendered pronouns; what anatomy I currently posses or have previously possessed is certainly no business to anyone except one who intends to make any use of that anatomy.

Hobbes (Calvin and Hobbes)

Hobbes (Calvin and Hobbes) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It can be argued that, were I gay or were I trans, or were I a particularly gifted gibbon that I ought to say so in order to show other gay writers, other trans writers, other gibbons that they too can be a published author.  No.  I can see a certain validity in that for things like acting or other things that truly put you in the public eye.  Writing is nothing at all like that.  I cite as my reference and infallible proof:  Bill Watterson.  This is a man who wrote a comic beloved by millions (billions?) through a number of years (decades?) and who some believe to be mythical as there is exactly one photograph that most anyone has ever seen and it’s been joked/rumoured that even his agent has no idea where he lives or what his phone number is.  He could be a she under a pen name.  We certainly know nothing about him – does he like men?  Women?  Sheep?  Does he speak Welsh, Russian, or Portugese?  Does he have testicles?  No one knows … and few have any reason to care.

What Bill teaches us is that, when we are invisible creators, us writers, we are as much or more inspirational than when we are visible.  Visible I’m clearly a 6′ tall transsexual lesbian gibbon with a unicorn horn and seven breasts.  Invisible I’m whatever and whoever I need to be to make you feel better.  I prefer semi-visible.  I mean, we learn a little of Bill from his incomparable Calvin and Hobbes comics (if you have been under a rock and know not of what I speak I suggest you hie thee to the nearest place of obtainment and remedy this unspeakable deficiency with all available alacrity); just as we learn a little of any author by taking her collected works as a whole.  I’ll talk about whole work versus single character/works later.  We learn a little from his name and that one photograph.  And we learn one more thing from his reclusiveness:  clearly he is a shy or at least not terribly egotistical man.

Lucy Pevensie

Lucy Pevensie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These little clues tell us some things.  Okay, he’s probably not a woman, he’s not a self-centred loudmouth, etc. and his characters tell us he’s probably a pretty swell and thoughtful person with a keen and well-read wit.  Does this help you decide if a cisgender llamaphilic lesbian nanny goat can make it big in the comics world?  Sort of, yes, actually – as I said, he proves that we’re anonymous behind our pages.  People see us as our creations on the page, not as the people our families look at during dinner.  Stephen King is a slightly known geekish face, a few people know he writes from his nightmares, and some know about his alcoholism – most people know him as a byline that scares the living shit out of them.

Ian Holm as Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson's T...

Ian Holm as Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to authors who’ve discussed it, yes, in the publishing industry there are agents, editors, publishing overlords, etc. who will take one sex or another more seriously than the opposite.  SF tends to be dismissive of women is the biggest complaint, but men are sometimes given a little less attention in the romance universe, and people get funny ideas in mysteries and … stuff.  But look around.  There’re published women in SF (Elaine Cunningham, Andre Norton, etc.), men published under romance (Nicholas Sparks, lots of pseudonyms, etc.), Mary Shelly anyone?  Lord Byron?  No, in the end, the publishing world is wide open.  For one thing, if you must, just do it yourself.  Your work is what should matter.

My work shows that I’m sympathetic – be I an ally or member – of the LGBTQ community.  My blogposts affirm this.  I am colourblind (not in the disability sense, but in the racial sense) – to me a human is a human, their skin colour is nothing but melanin, I even spent formative years of my life somewhere that it was white people who were not the racial powerhouses and, in fact, were discriminated against and bullied – the people of Hawai’i haven’t forgot the whole annexed at gunpoint and the very dubious circumstances of the vote for statehood things.  My name is in the feminine form.

People can make of that data, as they can with what they know of Bill Watterson, what they will.  No, I’m not going to make an evangelical Christian fundamentalist with very strong anti-LGBT philosophies feel much of a connection with me or my characters, not unless they’re inclined to changing their minds or at least have an open mind for lesbian characters despite their Views against their ‘lifestyle choices’.

J. R. R. Tolkien, 1916

J. R. R. Tolkien, 1916 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Those looking for a rolemodel … in writing your role model should be the text on the page.  I’ve next to nothing whatsoever in common with Professor J R R Tolkien, the great man who brought us The Hobbit; I’ve little in common with C S Lewis, little in common with A A Milne or Ed Greenwood.  Spider Robinson, Arthur C Clarke, Robert Heinlein, Terry Pratchett, Lawrence Block, or William Shatner.  All of those are authors whose works I’ve enjoyed, authors who – along with many more – taught me to write by having themselves written and by my having read them and learned from those pages.  I do not know them, I do not feel I know them, I do not feel I must know them.  I do know Granny Weatherwax, Bilbo Baggins, Winnie the Pooh, Storm Silverhand, Lady Sally, HAL 9000, Bernie Rhodenbarr, Jake Cardigan, and Lucy Pevensiethey are the ones I met and the ones whose adventures I shared and share again & again.  They are the ones who taught me what is possible and how to dream and hope.  Those characters told me that it doesn’t matter that I’m a woman; they told me it doesn’t matter one way or the other who I love – just that I should love, and well; they taught me wonder, they taught me many things.

I think in most ways public figures only matter in what they do, not what they are.  Exceptions – always exceptions – would be those who rely on others to see their dreams through, like actors.  If, after coming out, Neil Patric Harris was never seen nor heard from again in Hollywood … well, that’s a pretty strong message.  Thing is, yeah, it makes sense that he should be out, and his career being so strong is inspirational – despite being a married gay father he is a beloved STAR, but actors have directors and producers who can decide to never give them a part because “I just can’t work with someone with green eyes, oh God no!  They’re really Satan come to Earth in disguise” and, necessarily, artistic pursuit is left open to some discrimination (hey, I’m sorry, if you’re not tall enough nor leggy enough you just can’t be a Radio City Rockette … the routines won’t work for it, learn ‘em and start a competing group of shorter folk, might work though) so stupid discrimination gets by far too often; sad but true.

But as writers we’re not selling ourselves – recently popular advice to the contrary exists, but it’s bull as the good Mr Watterson so fabulously illustrates (uhm … no pun intended).  We do not inspire with our selves, we inspire with our creations.  Writer is a, largely, crappy job – pay sucks, it’s sometimes (for some, rather often) thankless, it’s lonely … it’s a lot of things, none of them glamorous.  It is those who populate our pages they are our contributions to societal change and philosophical debate.  Professor Tolkien may have been a force to be reckoned with in the world of academia, but that inspired people studying philology and myths; Bilbo Baggins inspired people, lots of them.  Suddenly it didn’t matter how small or inexperienced you were, you could out riddle a voice in the dark, escape goblins, face down dragons, ride the skies with the eagles, meet elves, and live through the war of five armies – not bad for a timid little hobbit from The Shire.  Classics have few (no?) LGBTQ characters … at one time, including them would have actually got the authors worse than just shunned and boycotted, so give ‘em breaks.  Today … today we have Lauren & Sally, we have Dumbledore (I’m sorry, but I was not surprised when Ms Rowling said he’s gay).   We’re lacking, admittedly, in trans* representation.  I’ve only got Sally’s cousin Joe, and he’s pretty minor.  I’m sorry, I’ve just not met any trans characters in my head with a story to tell, just a few who exist as … decoration.  Maybe that’ll change one day, I certainly hope so, it’d be interesting to see what stories they tell.  I’m no expert, but I think it’s not unheard of in manga, for what it’s worth.

That doesn’t matter, though, today you write your story.  You tell of the heroism of your pansexual Japanese trans woman, then you put it out there.  The more who do this the more it becomes visible.  Sooner or later someone else has to rise to the ranks of Pratchett and Rowling, King and Meyer … sooner or later no one will notice that a character in a story is a lesbian because it won’t be that important a detail, or that he’s transgender, or that she’s black, or that he’s Asian or … already that’s starting to happen, and it’s a Good Thing.  The key isn’t to make the books about being black, or about being Asian, or about being a sentient dolphin – not that those books aren’t helpful too, but they’re not necessarily as generally accessible as books not about those things – it’s to make books about fighting dragons, about saving the princess, about climbing Everest, about life but with characters who aren’t status quo.  Few, if any, who read The Hobbit were, themselves, hobbits … and it wasn’t exactly about him being a hobbit, it was about him being on an adventure despite all the things that define a hobbit, and proving that Gandalf was right in suggesting that one, this one in particular, be brought along; and who has never, not once in their lives, had something they had to be overcome, especially something that was no handicap whatsoever but rather only perceived as so by the short-sighted?

That is the obligation of a writer, I think, if we wish to be inspiring and to Change The World – we need to all have more Bilbo Bagginses.  We all need more Tiggers, and more Aslans, more Prince Thorks, and more Tee Tuckers.  It’s them who spread the message.  If your book preaches to the choir, you do a service and your book is important – it tells those who may feel excluded and alone that they are not alone; please by all means do still write and keep on writing them.  But if you don’t want to write a book about someone being gay, but you want to have a gay character … well … that’s a damned fine idea too – that‘s leading by example.

I think I’ve wandered and meandered long enough.  I’m going to stop here and hit publish.  I’m tired and almost afraid to actually spellcheck or proofread this.

A discussion, I hope.

English: Ellen DeGeneres in 2009.

English: Ellen DeGeneres in 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There was an article I found on Facebook, shared it too as I recall.  The Best Way to Change Minds:  Come Out, Stay Out, and Speak Out.

Of particular note, for me, is the first paragraph:

Last week my friend, Professor Jenny Boylan of Barnard College, penned an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times entitled “Trans Community Can Change Minds by Changing Discourse.” I think it’s very important that our scholars are finally being provided with a platform to reach a far wider audience, and Jenny is one of our most articulate spokeswomen. It’s also important to note that — gasp!trans women are Ivy League college professors. I will even go so far as to say that what she said is less important than the fact that she is published in The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. That will have a great impact on accomplishing what she stressed as the goal of her piece: changing the nature of the public discourse around trans persons and the experience of being trans.

Now, of course, it’s about the transgender community.  Applicability, a word I learnt from the late Professor J R R Tolkien‘s lovely writings on the subject of storytelling, though means it says so very much more.  Amazing how much storytelling and life can have in common if you take a moment to look around and see it.

I’m rather torn on the subject myself.  This is why I hope this will be a discussion in the comments.  It’d be interesting to see the varied opinions and discourse on the matter.  I’m a private person.  I don’t like, as I’ve said before, giving details about myself.  I’ve no problem standing up for people.  Race, sexuality, gender expression, gender identity … we’re all people.  I stand up for people because first off, it just seems the right thing to do.  None of my business if someone is a woman, man, or other.  Doesn’t matter the slightest to me if they’re Buddhist, Pagan, Jew, Christian, Islamic, or pray before an old Pepsi can from 1973.  I certainly can’t imagine being too upset about anything that two or more consenting people might like to do with/to one another.  Above all else, I’m not going to say that someone doesn’t deserve the same rights as anyone else just because of who it is that they love and find attractive.

My point is; do people in the public eye – authors, actors, politicians, etc. – do we have some obligation to be out?  And out about any of it.  Out about being heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, omnisexual, pepsisexual, transgender, transvestite, transatlantic, or transmitted; anything.  Does it matter?

I do feel that we should certainly speak our minds if we’re willing and able.  I’m somewhat able and somewhat willing, so I do.  But that’s not because of our being public.  I think that’s just a very good and human thing to do.  If you want to be objectivist about it and find some self-serving reason for it then how about Martin Niemöller‘s words:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Should it matter if you are gay or trans*?  Should it matter if I am?  Your cousin?  Should it be enough that you don’t feel that anyone should ever be treated as less than human?

So I do, I ask:  am I right or wrong?  Is it enough to speak out, even if I will not come out cis/trans/queer, gay/straight/bi/other? I am out on one point:  I’m an out redhead and an out woman.  I’m also an out writer (exceedingly vague reference to The Notebooks of Lazarus Long).  Does it add some weight to what I say if I am Cis or if I’m trans?  If I’m gay or straight?

The article seems to think so.  At least taken in an extrapolated form.  To be fair, the article itself isn’t talking so much about the Laverne Coxes, the Ellen Pages, the George Takeis of the world.  It’s talking about the guy who bags your groceries, the woman who delivers your mail, etc.  It’s about advocating by simple example.  By not isolating yourself, as a trans person, estranged from anyone who ever knew you as your assigned gender to begin fresh and reborn as your true gender in another town all alone … It points out that, if no one can really identify with an issue, put a real face and person to it they’re not really going to feel much point in supporting the cause.  Little girls like Jazz, women like Laverne Cox; they may seem unreal to people, or isolated curiosities.  George Takei and Ellen DeGeneres; same thing.  They plant the seed, the curiosity, the vocabulary.  They shout the issues from the rooftops, but the ones who prove them right are the gay parents at the PTA conference for their’s daughters’ school; it’s the little boy struggling to be allowed to play for the boys’ team instead of the girls'; it’s your trans brother and your lesbian sister-in-law, your bi cousin.  That point I don’t argue with.  Those who know me I’m out about my sexuality with, my marital status, etc.  What I can’t seem to make up my mind about is this:  does it matter in either direction to the public?

Funny I should say this, given my post about representation, but I guess it comes down to this:  representation in my work exists.  I’d assume that my characters present far more valid role models than myself.  You get to know them, you see their thoughts, dreams, hopes, fears, all of that – you share a bond with them.  Me?  What am I?  A dyslexic typist who happens to occasionally take it into her head to string several English words together in something like a logical and coherent order.  Does this make me the kind of public figure whose personal details matters for representing anything or anyone?  I can paint landscapes populated by cis/trans/queer alike, homo/hetero/bi/pan/a whatever, but I can do that regardless my gender, race, height, weight, bust size, inseam, zodiac sign, sexuality, etc.

Still, perhaps I’m wrong.  I’d love to hear what others think:  does my sexuality, gender-status, marital status, etc. matter?  Never mind me specifically, I mean anyone.  Does J K Rowlings’?  Does Stephen King’s?  George R R Martin’s?  Neil Gaiman‘s?

Is it me or is that a long list of Caucasian, cisgender, heterosexual people?  Look, writing as a profession or even hobby doesn’t actually need representation, does it?!  I mean, the anonymity of the pen/keyboard?  How many authors use pseudonyms!  I mean … people know this right?  I mean were I gay or bi or whatever, that wouldn’t make a difference to whether or not some little girl who falls in love with my books decides to take up the quill and tell her own tales … would it?

Damn, now I can actually see arguments both ways.  Stupid blogpost … bad blogpost, no cookies!

Life would be so much easier if humanity weren’t so caught up on the idea of finding reasons to look down on one another.  I mean, aside from obvious ones like rape, murder, theft … people are starving, and there’re religious groups spending money and energy on fighting the legality of Portia and Ellen’s marriage.  Really?!

Still, these comments are no less moderated than any others.  Your comment won’t show up unless you have a previously approved comment or unless I hit the magical, mystical approval button.  But, you know, discuss away.  Between the comments and my own soul searching, maybe I’ll get around to writing up some kind of bio about myself.  Maybe I won’t.  I’m still leaning to “it doesn’t matter”, besides … could turn out I’m just as status quo as Ms Rowling; at least with the silence there’s a mystique.