Whelp… I did it. I fired my agent.
Between that and invoking the rights reversion on my published novels, I guess that means I’m… no longer a “professional author”?
Five years with basically nothing to show for it. Great.
Oh no. It’s That Time of the Year again, the time when… (looks around nervously) … things happen.
I formatted a book! Wyrdverse: Tales of the Wyrd is an anthology of short stories from the, well. Wyrdverse. These aren’t new—you may have previously read them on my website—they’re just now… collated better.
Wyrdverse is currently available super-cheap from Amazon, although if you’d like to snag yourself a free copy you can do so from the princely sum of your email address, by signing up to my book news mailing list.
Oh, and because the whole purpose of this exercise was to practice using Indesign, a print version of the book (in all its extensive, 80-page glory) should be available sometime in the next few weeks. So… keep an eye out for that.
Speaking of awesome books you should buy (or, rather, back) right now, Crossed Genres’ Resist Fascism speculative fiction anthology is in the final days of its Kickstarter. From the official description:
RESIST. ANY WAY YOU CAN.
The world is in turmoil. The world is always in turmoil, but in recent years, people have seen violence and hatred become proud instead of ashamed. What meager rights we’ve fought for are being deliberately eroded. And the vulnerable have any help stripped away. All of this is happening openly and without fear of reprisal. And the worst perpetrators are some of the largest governments of the world.
Resisting the spread of fascism is as important now as it was 75 years ago. And there are many effective ways to resist.
For full disclosure, friend-and-all-round-awesome-person Rivqa has a story in this anthology, and I have read it and it is boss. So if you, too, would like to read a boss story about found family and Jewish jujitsu IN SPACE, then you should go smash that pledge button, as the kids on teh YouTubes say.
Knit robots, build spaceships, and shape the future.
Extraordinary short stories about gender, artificial intelligence and the art of building something new. Mother of Invention features the work of Seanan McGuire, Ambelin Kwaymullina, Nisi Shawl, John Chu, Justina Robson and more.
Awesome? Yes. So what are you waiting for? Buy like a hundred copies and you’re set for presents to give out to all your friends, enemies, and loved ones at every birthday, anniversary, and culturally appropriate religious celebration for the indefinite future. Let’s all knit a softer, warmer robotic future together.
Finally… Thing #5.
Conflux! It’s coming, and I will be there. You can even come hear me blather on about narrative in the panel Play to write: what tabletop and video games can teach writers of fiction. And by “me” I mean “Rivqa and Elizabeth“, and by “blather” I mean “make interesting and intelligent points while trying to ignore their drooling co-panellist (i.e. me).”
Sound great? Of course it does! See you there.
- … I know, I know. [↩]
Hot Takes on beta reading.
So it’s been almost exactly two years (with a break in the middle to write the DEMONS… IN SPACE!!!! book) but… it is done! At least, the draft is!
This turned out shorter than I was aiming for, i.e. 80k, but that seems to be a trend in my writing at the moment, particularly since both this and DEMONS have been single-POV.1 That kind of sucks in the adult market—a bunch of Big Name SFF publishers won’t even look at something if it’s under 100k—but DRAGON is YA, so… hopefully the ~70k mark is okay?
Guess we’ll find out soon!
Now the hard part: revising. Ugh.
- Well… mostly. DEMONS has four “cheat” chapters. [↩]
Apropos of all the piracy chat currently on Book Twitter: If for some reason you’ve ever wanted to read my books but can’t afford or access them, let me know and we’ll work something out.
Because, yeah. It’s literally better for me to buy you a copy of my book than it is for you to pirate it.
When we first start acting, brown actors tend to play “brown characters.” As casting directors and producers get to know us and trust our range, the roles we play tend to vary. And getting to play roles with white names feels like a victory. I know I felt that way when I first “graduated” from playing Khalids and Babirs to Patricks and Freds. […]
But to me, after over 13 years in the industry, these do not seem like victories anymore. Playing more interesting and larger roles is, but squeezing us unrealistically into a white box is a subtle form of ethnic erasure, and it is not a win. It is saying to the audience and to brown actors that people with white names are more interesting and relatable, and people with brown names are one-dimensional and obsessed with and/or defined by our brownness. Not only does this contribute to the continued stereotyping of brown people, it is false.
Amir Talai on brown actors playing white characters.
This reminds me that I first encountered Malek playing Brodude McBlandname #5, a.k.a. Josh Washington, in Until Dawn.1 So… yeah. About that “white names” thing.
Related: Steve Jobs has been portrayed at least four times in film and once on stage, and always by a white guy.2
For the record, in Liesmith, Sigmund was named Sigmund before this issue was something I’d really thought about. Ditto with Wayne, who’s Indigenous Australian, and Travis, who has his own set of issues.3 I’m not sure if I’d rename any of the characters now, except maybe for Travis, but I’ve certainly tried to give all new characters ethnically-appropriate names. (Which is why the protagonist in BAD MEME is Ngoc Bich Tran. Try casting Bich as a white girl. I double dare you.)
In other news: I need to watch Mr. Robot…
- To be fair to Until Dawn; the game has a more multi-ethnic cast than, like, 99.9% of all other games out there, which is particularly notable given its characters are modelled directly off their actors. Plus, it doesn’t do that thing of having whiter-than-white characters as Josh’s family members and just hoping no-one notices. Even still, the cast have the most laughably generic names, particularly for the guys; Josh is accompanied by Chris, Matt, Mike, and Jack, for example. But tl;dr, go play Until Dawn, ’cause it’s pretty great. [↩]
- For those of you who missed this memo: Jobs’ biological father is Syrian. Jobs’ relationship to both his biological parents and his ethnicity was, to put it mildly, complex, but even still. Dude’s the most famous Arab-American you never knew about. [↩]
- Though, on Travis, it always kind of makes me smirk ruefully when people tell me they imagine him looking like Tom Hiddleston. And it’s like, look. I get why. But the fact Travis doesn’t look white is an explicit plot point when Sigmund is trying to decide whether or not he’s the same person as the red-haired-pale-skinned Lain. FWIW, in the future reality where Liesmith is a massively popular TV series and/or film, I have physically left casting directors in a bloody pulp for trying to cast a white guy to play Lain/Loki/Travis. The whole point of the character is that he’s not Northern or Western European so… yeah. About that. And, yes, Travis’ ethnicity is both a Jobs reference and a reference to the 13th century headcanon that the world “aesir” comes from “Asia”–it doesn’t, but whatever–and that the Norse gods were the living descendants of the king of Troy, who migrated into Europe after the city fell. [↩]
Happy start-of-NaNoWriMo, to anyone who’s doing such a thing!
True story: I’ve never actually completed a NaNo, but the month still has a special place in my black little heart, given that Liesmith was a “failed” NaNo project from 2009. Why “failed” you ask? Well, because I did manage to write 50,000 words of it… in October ’09.
My wordcount for November ’09? Zero.
Whatever works, I guess.
Stephen King said: “If you write (or paint or dance or sculpt or sing…) someone will try to make you feel lousy about it.” With women, if you write or paint or dance or sculpt or sing, a lot of people will try to make you feel lousy about yourself.
I know a few women who had to stop writing because of this: because it exacerbated their depression or anxiety, because they could no longer get out of bed in the morning, because they had crying jags every day, because they were contemplating or attempting suicide, because constantly stressing about how they looked and acted was paralysing them, because they were throwing up every day. I know women paying for assistants, which puts a real financial burden on them, purely in order to make sure hate mail doesn’t reach them and destroy their peace. It’s absurd to pretend that getting letters detailing what a worthless person you are doesn’t exacerbate anxiety and depression. And it’s absurd to pretend this doesn’t come from an environment of internalised, sublimated, or simple overt misogyny. I have seen male authors, people who work in publishing, and readers make fun of women who talk about such feelings (yes, including suicide attempts). These women feel they had to give up creating what they love, in order to make their lives livable. I know many more who are persisting, but whose health and happiness and creative energy is being severely compromised. Neither I nor anyone else will ever know how many female creators will never share what they’ve made with the world, because they have been scared off.
I have heard often that it’s wrong for lady creators to talk about sexism or how sexism negatively affects their lives, and that we’re making it up. I don’t know why this always shocks me so much: this is very familiar stuff at its core. “Those crazy wimmins, complaining about their lady treatment when they actually get treated SO well” is something ladies get a lot from anti-women’s-rights conservatives. I guess that’s why it’s surprising to hear it from other quarters, sometimes from other women, but at least it makes things very clear: people actually concerned about sexism do not go around saying that women should shut their dumb faces about it.
–Sarah Rees Brennan on the female author tax.
If I could quote Brennan’s entire post I would. I’ve quoted this part because, ironically, it’s what made me get into publishing in the first place. I went through a period where I was getting a bunch of hatemail from various sources over things I’d created in my pre-pro life. If you’ve never been the target of this sort of thing, let me tell you; it fucks you up. Big time. I had it relatively “mildly”, for a given value of “mildly”, and yet it caused me so much stress that, in a period of about a week, I nearly lost my job, nearly lost my marriage, and did lose about five kilos.1 In a week.
It was not a good week.
The week ended when I thought, fuckit. If I’m going to get shat on, I might as well get shat on for something I’m being paid to do, and this is why I’m now a professionally published author.
Go figure, I guess.
- Again, if you’ve never experienced this: you can’t eat. You either can’t eat, or you can eat, but nothing stays down. Your stomach just roils all the time, hyped up in fight-or-flight. Remember, this was caused by, in essence, people being mean to me on the internet, which is why it’s taken me years to talk about it. You aren’t supposed to talk about it. It’s supposed to be “just the internet”. What were these people going to actually do, anyway? We’re not talking death threats here. Just constant gossiping and anonhate. And hadn’t I deserved it? Hadn’t I started it by Being Female And Having An Opinion On The Internet? How dare I. [↩]