The end times are upon us …

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on Februar...

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on February 10, 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s been two days and I still … well … I’d be lying if I say I can’t actually believe it, I don’t have the greatest opinion of the American populous with regards to sanity and intellect (sorry, but well, George Bush Jr was president for eight years and people actually voted for him; and let’s not get started on Nathan Deal‘s reelection to Georgia’s governorship in 2014) … but idiomatically speaking I can’t actually believe that Donald J Trump is president-elect of The United State of America.

I’ve never been so glad I live in New England; Massachusetts specifically.  I can’t imagine the terror that so many others in this country must feel right now.  Or more to the point I can’t imagine how they’re managing given the horror I feel and I’m relatively safe.

I can’t express how terrifying it is to know that a Republican lead congress is going to have that as their president and Mike Pence of Indiana for the vice presidency.  We just took a giant step back to the 1950s.  60+ years of progress are, largely, out the window.  If you’re not a heteronormative cisgender white male nor able to pass, you’re pretty frankly and thoroughly fucked.  heteronormative cisgender white women are slightly less bad off, especially if they’re both pretty and a decent housewife, but everyone else in this country are utterly fucked.

You say it can’t be that bad, he still has to contend with the constitution and blah, blah, blah.

  1. he gets to fill the missing slot on the supreme court
  2. who’s getting to make the laws next year, and who’s holding the pen to sign them?
  3. who’s going to be pulling the Department of Justice’s strings when hateful mobs are emboldened by his rhetoric and stances?

Yesterday I felt a level of depression I haven’t in ages.  It left me, for a large part of the day, feeling physically ill – like sick to my stomach.  Today I’m either in a better place, thankfully and slightly mysteriously, or I’m too emotionally exhausted and slipped into a sort of … neutrality … to recharge; I’m not actually sure which.

This planet is in too precarious a position with regards to the climate and pollution to survive four years with this setup selecting who’s running the EPA and deciding things like energy bills.

The economy isn’t ready for this.

We’re not touching what America calls a health care system – unfortunately congress and Trump are going to molest the hell out of it.

NOW I regret deleting my Twitter … though it hasn’t actually disappeared, I may log in.  I’ve a few choice quips to throw out there.

I mean, don’t come in with any more “protecting the women and children” crap when trying to ban transgender people from using the correct bathroom when we have a president-elect with how many rape accusations, who boasted about committing sexual assault, and who is going to trial soon for child rape.

No.  If I can I think I will leave the country.  I don’t think I’d be able to though; doubt I could talk any country into seeing a transgender lesbian in Trump’s USA as a refugee seeking asylum, at least not until after he’s rounding up people to wear little pink triangles …

If you follow me and you voted for him … why?  how?  What could he possibly have offered that was worth sacrificing the safety and rights of your neighbours, friends, and family?  Of the safety and rights, even simple human dignity of countless millions of this country’s people?  If you can answer that, with a straight face, and sincerely … please do.  Otherwise, please fucking piss off and go to Hell.

Yeah, normally I’m rather more inclined to be well spoken, polite, maybe a bit more … sweet?  I can’t.  I’m terrified, I’m depressed, I’m disgusted, I’m mortified, I’m not going to go find a thesaurus to continue this paragraph and I can’t think clearly enough to keep it going right now.

The world, and this country both need a lot of prayers … and a lot of outright protest, petitioning possibly open rebellion; you know, action, because the gods help us (please!) but I’m disinclined to reckon they’re going to do much good since they didn’t do anything to stop this in the first place.

Where’s Twitter?

English: George Takei at the 2011 Phoenix Comi...

English: George Takei at the 2011 Phoenix Comicon in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gone.

I don’t use it.  I find it even more useless than Facebook … which is saying something since Facebook’s psychotic algorithms for deciding what to actually show you in your feed (because the things that you’ve followed can’t possibly be the answer to such a nuanced and complicated question) drive me insane usually.

I’ve got a private, personal Facebook.  It’s for cat pictures and the like.  Twitter wasn’t even that useful.  I don’t have a personal Twitter, and as of this morning I’ve quit having a professional one.  That’s that much less SPAM in my email, that many fewer notifications for which I give less than no damns about showing up on my phone, and that many fewer potential security holes in my personal data.

I’m not sorry to have got rid of it.  I’m sure none of you were all that ardently following me on social media, and it seemed silly to “keep a social media presence” when I don’t use social media, do not follow social media … noticing a pattern here?  Seriously, if the iOS News app thingy had an option for “funny things George Takei has shared”, I’d have virtually no excuse to have a private Facebook; the remaining reasons being that’s where my high school reunion is usually planned and some family event things tend to get announced.

Tumblr may be next on the list, but as it’s sort of a blogging platform more than it’s a social media platform I am more inclined to keep it – makes a somewhat handy mirror of my blog … until I recall that it only posts excerpts with a link back to here … okay Tumblr may go some time soon too.  Who knows, I usually forget I have it and am not 100% sure I even know the password anymore so it’s obviously far less intrusive and obnoxious so can stay just because it’s forgettable.

Book signing

So the book signing in Hadley, MA took place on Sunday as per schedule.

First off, I must say a huge thank you to the Hadley Barnes & Noble folks.  They were very friendly, wonderful, and I feel did their best in the face of whatever is going on in B&N’s HQ these days.

Which brings me to the full detailed version.  Again:  local store awesome; corporate to blame.

  1. Is 1 week prior to Father’s Day a good date to have a Teen Fest thing?  I don’t know, maybe something closer to July or closer to Memorial Day or nearer to an approximation of Spring Break?  Suffice to say the teens that were there were shopping for Daddy, not for themselves.
  2. Advertisement.  You’re Barnes & Noble for crying out loud.  Did you leave all the promo up to the individual stores?  I hope not.  Especially for something you were doing across all your stores.  This is a good time to get maximum bang for your advertising dollars by running national ad campaigns to draw attention to this thing.  Sure, local stores do a little on their social media and in-store, maybe local papers to highlight just who is going to be this store’s guests, but … come on.  Then again, B&N doesn’t seem to have a firm grasp on marketing.  I mean, have you ever seen them advertise much?  Never mind their stores, how about the Nook?  Their stores are their primary POS for the thing, and their website, but how many B&N banner ads have you seen on websites, or radio/tv/billboard/newspaper adverts have you seen for the Nook, the B&N website, or the physical stores?  Sorry guys, but you’re second or lower to Amazon (who is an evil evil bunch of people whose downfall I shall cheer greatly) … follow Avis car rentals’ example “We’re number 2, but we try harder” philosophy!
  3. A clearer vision and communication of what the Teen Fest would be.  Looking around online at what other stores were doing, it was rather mixed methods and mixed thinking.  Some stores had workshops that … well … someone explaining how to write a long line description – you know the dreaded Twitter Blurb!  Okay, first off, that’s hard for a lot of writers to do.  Come on, for crying out loud, we just took 400 pages and 500 000 words to say “boy meets girl, girl falls in love with boy, they date and fall in love and get married and have 65 kids, 8000 grandkids, and 14 goats, and the kingdom was saved!” we really aren’t going to squeeze it all down with ease.  I mean, a writers’ panel with Q&A for geeky fannish teens to come to, certainly, but traditional writers’ workshop kind of stuff doesn’t tend to be a crowd draw for any age demographic, targeting it to teens is going to get you maybe 3 people.

Honestly, I rather expected something like this.  I mean B&N was virtually the only bookstore around in the part of Georgia I moved from so it was the place that got people like Steve Harvey … and few people showed up because few people knew about it.  I now know why Terry Brooks‘ appearance that same day in South Hadley, was at a little place called Odyssey Bookshop.  Big name authors often are very expressive about wanting to support the small mom & pop sort of stores.  Which, I believe, is definitely a big part of it.  But it’s also that I believe the smaller stores have a better means of reaching people and bringing folks in.

A small bookshop actually is more likely to have regulars engaged both in face-to-face conversations as well as social media interactions.  Your smaller bookshop is more likely to have the customer walk in for a copy of Wintersmith and wind up staying to chit chat for 3 hours while browsing around for 2.  Watch folks at a big chain store, they walk in, pause at the display of the latest from Stephen King, then make a beeline for what they’re there for, spend a few minutes finding it on the shelf, a couple more minutes looking around that same few feet to see if there’s anything else by that author they want to grab, then back to the cash register.  If they stay, it’s to drink coffee and use the free wifi.  The small shoppe is almost always in a location with a lot of passerby foot traffic and so puts out a chalkboard sign that is colourful and attention getting so all those window shoppers and bankers-off-to-lunch pass and see it.  B&N is starting to trend itself into malls, but there’s no chalkboard signs.  B&N isn’t likely to take out an ad in the paper.  Small shoppe knows that most subscriptions doesn’t equal most readers, they know the little (usually free, so ads cost a little more, but it’s worth it) local indie paper (i.e. The Metro Spirit in the CSRA) is the way to go and put in a good sized ad there.  The little shoppe also knows that an investment in a few minutes with a desktop publishing software, a printer, and a few dozen sheets of paper taken around to the local coffee shops and other places with a bulletin board … or adhered to a few strategic lampposts …

Really; never blame the local personification of the chain store.  They’re following corporate dictates which nearly never make the slightest sense and trying to run on a very restricted and controlled budget.  It’s the folks in HQ who deserve a great big “Are you one drugs?” response.

Sex Ed and Jazz Jennings

That title actually makes sense, just keep with me here.

I’ve just been watching the latest crap floating round this country, the UK, Northern Ireland, and other places and I’ve got to say something.

SHUT THE FUCK UP ALREADY!

That feels better.

For the more articulate point.

These people are supposedly all about protecting families, especially children.  Yet they are bound and determined to kill … untold hundreds, thousands, millions? of them.  And I wish it were hyperbole, but it’s not.  Literal death by violent attack, by suicide, or figurative death of spirit.

LGBTQIA… I think the Tumblr crowd has it up to 47 letters borrowing from Icelandic and Cyrillic these days, but these kids need to know what’s up.

Pre-school, kindergarden … as early as possible.  I Am Jazz needs to be part of elementary curriculums and in every library across the world.  There needs to be sexuality ones too, frankly.

Kids need to know that a transgender person isn’t this:

4402248-terrycrews-2015

But rather, is this: 

That the little boys don’t have to date/marry the little girls, and vice versa.

Kids are neither blank slates, nor do they exist and grow up in a vacuum, in a bubble, unless you force them into it (citation: look up the history of David Willis sometime … simple version:  Joyce is, basically, him).  They’ll have heard of homosexuality and transsexualism.  And some visions are more hurtful than others.

Imagine, if you will, a child who knows there are “men” who “want to be women” who “get it cut off” … but that’s it.  That’s all she knows of the medical advances of transgender treatment.  Now, when she’s 8 and the fact that she has testes is starting to withdraw her into clinical degrees of shyness and self-consciousness she doesn’t know that, really, yes, she could be the girl she is and isn’t forced to be a boy.  If she doesn’t know this, then she grows up, puberty has it’s horrible way, and … well this story can go one of two ways.  For me, not so badly.  I was blessed to look so feminine that even when I was trying so desperately to be male that I grew a big bloody Grizzly Freaking Adams beard people did double-takes when they’d see me in the men’s room but no one has ever given me a second glance in the ladies’.  Or there are those for whom a mix of financial woes and biological ones … look a bit more like Martin dressed up as Shanaynay (hey, I grew up in the 80s and 90s and haven’t really watched much TV since 2002, what did you expect for a reference?).

Lesbian and gay … life’s getting better.  Not great, no, but better for them.  It’s no longer Hollywood Montrose everywhere you look for gay and lesbians are nowhere to be seen.  Bi … somehow bi confuses some people, but all of the bi people I know seem to have a firm enough grasp on it I honestly don’t know if from their point of view it was bad and isn’t that people, in looking around for something to put down, haven’t started making it bad for them.  I’ll leave this one alone because I can’t make heads nor tails out of what the hell happened with bi, or if it’s just another place where I’ve always lived in remarkably accepting circles.

Seriously, kids need to know this is okay.  Because we’ve been doing the opposite for a long time and these kids suffer for it.  The transkids … let’s just think of those statistics.  Too many Leelah Alcorns.  Kids need to know that, if they’re not feeling anything whatsoever for the opposite sex and are noticing how attractive their own sex is … this is a Thing and it’s not a Bad Thing and that maybe they shouldn’t try to force themselves into a relationship or a life of loneliness over it.

Seriously.  Don’t come around talking about the sanctity of the family, and protecting children and all that other complete and total bullshit that every last one of these psychopathic, sociopathic, deranged assholes start spouting every time this matter comes up when you’re encouraging the kinds of environments that drive these kids to suicide, to madness, to self-hatred, and more.  Don’t talk that kind of idiocy while applauding parents who disown their children.  Don’t stick up for “morally righteous families” like the bloody Duggars.

These kids need to know about the world around them.  The real world around them.  They need protected, not … not whatever you call nearly a dozen US states suing President Obama and the Department of Education over their transgender guidance.  Of states that ban discussion of LGB+ matters even in secondary school.  Well, honestly, most of those states support “abstinence only sex ed” which has its own laundry list of stupidity.

In case it isn’t abundantly clear by this point, this is something I’m a bit passionate about.  It’s a place where I’m looking around at my country, and at the world, being complete twats about something that shouldn’t be any sort of issue or controversy except that some loud mouthed jerks seem to get their flippin’ jollies off by finding someone they can get away with making the lives of miserable, by oppression if preference is offered.

Would I feel this way if I were neither lesbian nor trans?  YES, I’m pretty well positive I would given that I felt this way even when I didn’t understand that I was … I mean when you spend the better part of three decades convinced you’re a straight man you maybe get a broader perspective on your own “what if” scenarios.  I was as impassioned about it then as now, just with less … insight … given my own determined efforts to avoid seeing it on a personal level.  But that too.  How common was, and all too often still is, the story of someone not realising their gender or sexuality until adulthood?  Until failed marriages and a life of serious depression?  Thankfully less and less.  The world is blessedly shifting toward a higher balance of Jazz Jennginses than Caitlyn Jenners.

Yeah, people are possibly going to want to say something harsh about “passing privilege”.  All I’ll say about it is:  yes it’s a matter now thanks to idiotic nonsense like HB2 in North Carolina, but by and large it’s something that just has to be considered moot.  If someone with a full face of beard, wearing jeans and a flannel, can stand in the gents’ and have guys walk in and double check the door to make sure they went into the right one … it’s no use.  Someone is going to mistake Barbie for a man and Thor for a woman because there’s just no telling what criterion people are going to use to decide a person’s gender visually.  There are cis women with beards, and cis men with breasts.  It happens.  Yeah, it definitely makes life easier when people are less inclined to get it wrong, believe me, I understand and know that.  But let’s stop talking about “passing privilege” and maybe focus on understanding and acceptance altogether from BOTH sides.  There are, after all, some gender non-conforming people who bend gender to a breaking point and while that’s fine, let’s try to remember that you’re going to confuse people – give them a break – just as they should at least be civil enough not to start beating the shit out of you and screaming just because there’s a person in the ladies’ with facial hair doing nothing more than washing her hands.

I’m going to be late for work if I don’t force myself to stop venting and get dressed.

Ta

An awesome I found on Twitter

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Protecting Faith or Legalising Discrimination?

IMG_7249Anyone keeping up with American news lately may have noticed the things going on here are a little … crazy.  Indiana, North Carolina, Mississippi … these ‘bathroom bills’ and ‘religious freedom bills’ and what have you, yes?

First, let me just chastise both sides a little bit:

LGBT • just because a business has the right to do something doesn’t mean they will.  There’re too many getting a little too carried away here.  Histrionics and hyperbole are fine in satire, like a SNL sketch, but it’s not good in an otherwise simply rhetorical article that’s trying to explain the problem unless you clearly indicate that you are following this to its extremity of possibility.

Anti-LGBT • I would like to mention that there has been protection for religious beliefs since the adoption of the US Constitution‘s first ten amendments, it reads thusly:

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

(via https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/first_amendment)

So, now, on to what I have to say.

It’s bullshit.  I’m sorry, but it is.  It’s all complete crap.

If this really had to do with people being upset about their sincerely held religious beliefs then where are the following:

  • People rallying behind a photographer who refuses to take a Buddhist wedding
  • The bakery that refuses the interracial couple
  • The clerk turning away the Jewish couple
  • The judge who won’t officiate the atheist couple
  • The restaurant that won’t serve a Mexican family
  • The auto repair shop that won’t accept black customers

I could go on.

Thing is this.  First to the photographer, clerk, and bakery:

You’re not part of my wedding.  You supplied a service.  You are not participating in the wedding itself, you are feeding it and you are taking pictures of it, and you are handing me a license that records that it took place.  End.  You are not, in the strictest sense, actually invited to the wedding.  You’re not participating.  Even if you were an actual guest asked to come watch the wedding take place, I’m not sure it counts as ‘participating’, more like watching myself and my wife engaging in a ceremony that is taking place between ourselves, the officiate, and (if we should have them) our maids of honour.

To the judge:

You’re a public official.  You are serving as the representative of your governing body.  You are not participating in the wedding, your position is.  You are filling it.  Swallow your pride, buttercup, or get off the bench.

To everyone else:

Your doors are open to the public.  You want your religion to guide your life, bravo, but you want to be able to pick and choose your customers based on that religion you need to stop being a public business and become a religious organisation, instead.  Then you can turn away to your religious heart’s content.

Thing is, people once did turn away religions, genders, races, nationalities, and such on everything from ‘I don’t want that kind around here’ (which is, at least, honest and therefore somewhat respectable) to ‘the Bible says so’ (which, if you twist things enough is probably true … or if it’s outright true it’s probably right next to a passage you violate sixteen times every day, so please just shut up while you’re already behind).

Look.  According to the IRS I’m a private business.  Even if I were through a traditional publisher … well, there’s a reason I’m a self-published author.  The difference between traditional and self publishing is traditional is smaller royalties and usually offers me a cover artist (who I usually have absolutely no input in the selection of nor the artwork finally chosen); beyond all that, I’m still a small business in business with a larger business.

So, that said, let’s look at the universe from my business’ point of view.  According to the new laws that keep wanting to be passed I could say I don’t want to sell my books to heterosexual or cisgender or to Scientologists.  Now the waters get really muddy when you point out that there’re state and federal level protections against my discriminating against Scientologists, because that’s a religion.  But, that’s where things get fun.  While these laws are in place, legal enforcement must decide whether to enforce the existing non-discrimination laws or the new law which says that, if I hold that it is my sincere religious belief, I can deny them services.  XHamster (link very NSFW) is apparently having fun with that one (should be SFW).  True, in those states I can discriminate against gender identity and sexuality – so, if I were this hypothetical bigot (yes, bigotry works both ways, folks!), I could merrily discriminate to my heart’s content even before these laws were enacted and now that they have been the state won’t hear a single word against me and the local government councils can’t enact ordinances to make me behave myself.

Now, here’s the thing.  A lot of folk wonder what the big deal is.  “Just get your cake somewhere else”, they say.  “Get a different photographer!” they cry.

Ah, but dearies, spoken like people in very large urban centres or like people in very very small countries.  Let me paint you a picture:

Let us begin with Atkins diet and several other fads that have long since put many bakeries out of business.  Even in your moderately urban locations there are few bakeries to select from.

Now we move on to a place that is not Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles, or San Francisco.  Let us move, instead, to Little Rock, Knoxville, Memphis, or Montpelier.  Or better yet, let us move down to Coon Rapids (yep, it’s a place, my daddy went to school there),  Moose Point, Crabapple Cove, Barrow …

Here’s the thing.  The smaller the place you live the further you may have to go just to find a bakery in the first place, let alone an alternative one.  Secondly, if there’re only two bakeries in town, odds are good that you chose the one you did for a good reason.  Maybe the other one is too expensive, or is really terrible.  Now you’ve been turned away by the one that you want to go with.  And, I’m sorry, but Kroger?  Big Y?  Publix?  Stop & Shop??  Seriously, who that can afford otherwise (and even those who can’t, sometimes) goes to the grocery store for their wedding cake?!  (Okay, once upon a time, my home town, but in fairness the bakery in the local grocery store was a local bakery – the store was an IGA not a big chain supermarket … kind of different, and it was tiny town in north Arkansas for crying out loud).

Photography offers a bit of choice, but still not always a lot.  And certainly one must still balance quality and price which will winnow some of the options away.

You see?  A couple who tries to go to “Mary Catherine’s Catholic Baked Goods” which is a convent bakery and affiliated with St Lucas’ Cathedral … if they’re refused service, the answer to the couple is to tell them to suck it up and move on, and to wonder what they were thinking.  “Billy Bob’s Olde Time Bake Shoppe” on the other hand, is Billy Bob’s store that is open to the public and affiliated only with Billy Bob and his whopping twelve and one half shares in King Arthur flour.  If Billy Bob wants to tell our fateful couple that he doesn’t approve of miscegenation he’s slapped with fines and things for discrimination based on race while being berated by most of the world … under a few new laws he gets embroiled in a long complicated legal battle as the courts get to decide if the non-discrimination law is unconstitutional or the religious freedom law is (one of them actually was clever enough to limit itself against existing non-discrimination laws, but I forget which that is … not Mississippi’s, I’m pretty sure, so this can take place in Oxford, MS).  But if he wants to say “no fags allowed!”, no problem.  Until recently he, technically, already had that right since sexuality wasn’t a protected status anyhow, but the couple could still have tried and, with luck, got somewhere despite this (maybe go with sex discrimination suit), now however Billy Bob is armed with a law and his ‘sincerely held religious beliefs’ (which, apparently, state that cake is a very sacred substance and may only be served to those deemed worthy) while Lawrence and Jeffery have absolutely no legal recourse whatsoever and must now make the long trek to Tupelo before they find Sue Anne’s Country Bakery which will happily make their cake for them, but will need to charge $75 more due to the very long drive to where the wedding will be taking place (back in Larry & Jeff’s childhood home of Oxford, of course!).

See?  Gets fun doesn’t it?

And it’s not just about LGBT.  These laws hurt a lot of people.  The ones that makes the government unable to act against ‘religious beliefs’ mean that there is very sticky and complicated legal turmoil when a restaurant refuses to seat a Sikh family; when miscegenation gets you refused service at the tire shop … laws should protect people.  It’s not protecting anyone.  A person’s religious beliefs aren’t being protected, there are existing ways they can be exempted from non-discrimination for religious reasons, and if that place doesn’t want to help an unwed mother, well that’s their business then.  But the place open to the general public shouldn’t have that kind of power.  An unruly unwed mother who is wont to not paying her bills, that’s another matter.  But to see a woman holding a child, not wearing a wedding band, and who says “I haven’t got a husband” when asked what sort of work he does and say “I’m sorry, but you’ll have to go elsewhere”.  Just, no.

Who cares?

I’ve reverted to generic non-biography bios.

This is because I realised something:  I can’t be representation.  I could be a perfect fiction.  Even if I had a picture of my face instead of that faerie, how’re you to know that’s my face?  Okay, see me at a convention?  Does romance fiction have conventions?!  See me at the market?  What’re the odds?  Too, what’re the odds you’d recognise me?

Authors, once they’re in the hands of a reader, are not people.  We’re a collection of letters following the word ‘by’, commonly referred to collectively as a by-line.

I have books I love I couldn’t tell you who wrote them.  If I can, I can’t tell you if that person is black, white, male, female, gay, straight, human, or other.  I also don’t care.  I have books I love, I can’t usually remember the titles of.  Because it doesn’t matter.

True, if I were to borrow the book from a library the author’s name, the series title, and/or the book title would be a big thing to remember for the finding of the book again or for the going to the bookstore to purchase myself a copy.  Once I’ve memorised its location and appearance in the library, I need never remember another detail about the book.  Once I own a copy, I only ever have to remember where I put the damned thing or what the cover image looks like in my iBooks library.

I strongly believe my life growing up would have been affected in important and positive ways by better representation of those demographics to which I belong.  Some far more so than others.  But that’s the job of the characters in the stories, in the movies, in the TV shows.  The only people who matter as people themselves are the faces of the advocacy.  Jazz Jennings matters because she isn’t a character, she’s a person who puts a name and a face to trans-youth rights.  Ms Cox is a couple of things, so who she is matters in myriad ways.

Do I care that the person playing the trans-woman in The Dutch Girl wasn’t trans?  Nope.  Would I care if I learnt the director refused to consider/audition trans-women? Probably.  Would I care if I learnt that trans-actresses auditioned, had better auditions, but didn’t get the role?  Absolutely.

The character matters, not the person playing it.  The actor is not the character and vice versa.  The actor may put some of themselves into the role; conversely they may take away part of the character when the final scene is finished, but they’re not the same person.  Exceptions exist.  An all male cast of A League of Their Own isn’t automatically horrible, but it’s automatically highly suspect and had better damned well come with a damned good explanation.  If the explanation is that every female actor who showed up stunk, genuinely sucked, and the only way the movie was going to exist was to take these male talented folks and put them in a whole lot of makeup … weird, very very very weird, but okay, whatever.

The average reader doesn’t follow the authors they like.  I’m not even an average reader and yet I follow authors I’ve never read a single book or short story by and never intend to; I don’t follow almost every author I do read … the majority the few I do I could count on the fingers of my left elbow how many blogposts/twits/FB posts by them I’ve ever once seen.

I’m going to keep the blog because it’s a good outlet for my thoughts and feelings.  It’s got links to my work, on the off chance someone finds it before they find me in iBooks/Amazon/etc.  But I don’t expect people to read my books as a result of reading my blog, nor do I expect people to read my blog because of my books.  And so far not only are those assumptions correct, but they hold true to the norm for other authors and their social media presences.

I’m on Tumblr, Twitter, and here.  The former two are almost entirely auto-posts of this blog, but if you like subscribing to things from those rather than separately subscribing through my blog I understand and it’s why they exist.  I do sometimes put other things I find interesting, or things I want to say on those that I don’t put here.  That’s because they’re a better media for saying something quick and offhand than an actual blogpost is; and they’re better equipped for sharing things I find interesting from other people’s shared content.

I’m not going to make any secret of anything about myself, I’m just not going to have bio sections that advertise anything about me because I do not want people to read my work based on my sexuality, gender, etc.  I want you to see the cover, notice the book, read the blurb, check out the sample, then (I pray) purchase it.

Rant over modern series writing

(Sarah is a cuckoo—a breed of human-looking cryptid that’s biologically more like a giant wasp than any sort of primate, and telepathic to boot. Evolution is funky sometimes.)

Excerpt From: Seanan McGuire. “Midnight Blue-Light Special.” iBooks. https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/midnight-blue-light-special/id592216584?mt=11

So, at the moment, I’m rereading Midnight Blue-Light Special.  And it made me have to say something about why I don’t read a lot of newer series.

There are 3 fundamental approaches to series.

The Discworld Model:

This is for series like Bernie Rhodenbarr, the Rita Mae Brown & Sneakie Pie Brown mysteries, Discworld, Mithgar, and similar.  In these (and Mithgar is, quite possibly, the most amazingly perfect example) the books stand alone.  There’s little reference to the prior events, or they’re referenced in off-hand manner if relevant to the moment in the same way you or I will make off-hand references to our own pasts.  Other than that the book of the moment is pretty thoroughly divorced from the books before and after.  You can literally pick up at any point in the series and not be missing anything besides the fun of the other books … which you can just pick up and enjoy as you go.

The Serial Model:

This is the classic Book 1, Book 2, etc model.  This is Now & Forever, this is Harry Potter, this is – frankly – most series.  This is “To Be Continued” through to “The End”.  Sometimes you can muddle through if you pick up part way in.  Harry PotterLittle House, and others aren’t nonsense if you pick up later than the beginning, but it helps.  Well … Little House might be more of a Discworld Model, now I think of it, but humour me.

The thing with these is that you write them assuming that the person reading book 2 read book 1.  If you write something that was explained in book 1 you don’t explain it again, you move on because you’re not worried about confusing anyone because they read book 1 or bloody well best have done.

The Modern Model:

This is one I really don’t like.  I’ve read things, namely InCryptid, that use it.  But it annoys the hell out of me and the stories have to be very good for me to let it slide and keep going … or you have to not do a very good job of it, thus begging the question of why the author bothered instead of sticking with the Serial Model (possibly the actual case with InCryptid … I’m not actually 100% certain).

In this you try to do the bastardisation of the Discworld Model and the Serial Model.  Your books are very “to be continued”, and rely heavily on what came before, but you try to accommodate the ones who are coming in a bit late.  Now, some series are a blending of these. Mithgar has Serials (duologies, trilogies, etc) tossed in amongst the larger tapestry of things.  Shannara too.  But series of Serials is a whole other kettle of popcorn.

I don’t like this one as a reader, nor as a writer.  It’s this philosophy that your Serial should be accessible to any and sundry who walk in 5min before the closing credits.  That really doesn’t work.  You have to insert little obnoxious infodumps that irritate those who have been there since the curtain went up, and unless you want to make your books exponentially thicker by basically reprinting the prior book into the following books –building them into an omnibus edition as you go – you’re going to annoy the mid-streamer who is like “well, she explained this, but why doesn’t she explain that?!”

There.  Was I going anywhere with this?

No, not especially.  Just saying that I don’t grok the modern method of serialising and it irritates me when I encounter it.  All the other crap about the other 2 methods was to illustrate what I meant.  Now, back to the book; it has Aeslin Mice in 😍

The Ultimate Mary Sue Test

I got to seriously thinking about some of the discussions around the internet about this movie character is or isn’t a Mary Sue, or this TV character, or this, or that, etc.

A pattern emerged quickly among the discussions that, according to these conversations, makes a Mary Sue test exceedingly short and simple.  So I present one.

The Test

Instructions:  keep 2 columns of tallies for answer a or answer b.

1) What is the character’s gender identity?

a) Male
b) Female

2) Is the character competent in more than 1 thing not traditionally a feminine role/activity/interest?

a) No
b) Yes

3) Is the character attractive?

a) No
b) Yes

Time to tally up!

Continue reading

ZOMG! She lives!?

Yeah, that’s becoming a rather popular post topic for me lately.

Sorry about that.  This has just been a year of hell for me.  Some ups, certainly.  Moving to Massachusetts has been pretty cool if not without its sour notes.  I’ve become addicted to Doctor Who which is bloody fantastic, but Netflix (henceforth referred to as ‘the meanie bad people’ for short) haven’t got series 9 yet, so I don’t get to find out what’s been going on.

I’ve been managing to write.  Not as much or as often as I’d like.  Some of it has been a lack of time.  Since 12 November I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of days and hours dealing with my jobs, but that’s starting to mellow out.  The time I have had that could be spent writing has been spent in the sorts of things one must do in order that stress does not eat her brain … and sufficient stress of the wrong sort is bad for people with chronic depression (and I are one such person), and if you’ve ever tried to write when having attacks of depression you know it tends to make the stories go in dark and unhappy directions.  Dark and unhappy can be fine, here and there, but we’re talking the kind of dark and unhappy that gets you the “the dog dies” award (sorry, forgot its name, lots of kids books I never liked at all have it – to the point I treat it the same as a skull and crossbones on a bottle in the cupboard).

So far, as of the same sorts of dates that 2015 had started looking down (early December 2014, no lie), 2016 is starting to look really up.  So, that said, I’m still keeping my fingers crossed for a summer 2016 release of the, still, unnamed Book 3.  I’ve gotten more than a page into the first Færie Patrol which is turning out interesting and teaching me fun things about the world and characters.  Can’t recall if I ever got any further in the story about that transgender girl I started one day on a whim (no link because I’m buggered if I recall where I mentioned that).

I’m going to try to be a little more active here soon.  Some of it is going to bend my guidelines RE talking politics (read:  I’m going to bloody well talk about a few things, and I may as well warn I use words I learnt from my wife when Donald Trump and the GOP get brought up these days), primarily US politics. I might not, though.  I also may talk about some of the quirkier trans* issues.  I shan’t be discussing the new Star Wars film because I don’t know when I’ll get a chance to see it due to being, currently, unable to afford a ticket (while I’m not saying this in hopes people will donate a ticket, this is the internet and I’ve seen it happen too many times to not point to the contact link above for anyone who takes this notion into their head.  This said because I may as well – if I explicitly said “please do not …” people would anyway, so screw trying).

As per usual, Happy Holidays.  I’m in a sufficiently high Jewish populated area to know that Hanukkah is over or nearly so, so happy belated that.  Merry Christmas coming up for those folks.  Solstice/Jül/etc is coming up later this week for my Pagan loves, so enjoy – no over indulging in the holy water for you ADF folks.  Turns out there’re almost as many Muslim holidays in December as there are days in the year (just kidding, but there are a lot) and I can’t spell any but Ramadan, but as especially fond happy/merry/blessed series of celebrations for you folks; sorry for all the crap people are giving you, please know some of us do wish you well and would love to punch certain people in the mouth on your behalf.