Thursday, October 31, 2019

Three Interesting Things

1. Alexander Chee talked eloquently about how he now responds to the what should I do if I want to write about some not like me question that writers of color are pretty much constantly asked. 
2. In a story that fascinated me for learning about how things may work, an armed shoplifter broke into these people's house to evade police.  Their house was ruined.  The city and police argued that insurance should cover the damage the armed standoff caused to their house and not them because they were just doing their jobs.  I have mixed feelings about the utility of armed standoffs, since blasting rockets at a house seems like the risk to others outweighs the reward of catching a dude who shoplifted stuff from a big box store. But mostly, it had not occurred to me the collateral damage of aggressive policing if police destroy your property in pursuit of someone unrelated to you.  
3. Oh, and you may have heard, Washington has added another championship team.  (And belated kudos to both the Mystics and the Valor. The hockey team* knows I love them.)

*Sports superstitions must be observed.  Wait, does mentioning them cause problems?  Forget I said anything. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Seven Things Twice - A NaNoWrimo Season Approacheth Guide

Seven reasons NaNoWrimo is great fun! 

1.       Lots of writers writing all across the world.  If you are a person who works better with groups or with the social pressure of knowing other people are out there writing, NaNo provides that. 

2.       50000 words is a lot of words.  Depending on your genre, it may not be a whole book.  It may be half a book or a third of a book.  But it's 50000 more words than you started the month with. 

3.       There are charts!  Do you love charts and graphs of progress?  NaNo has these.  It recalculates based on your progress. 

4.       There are write ins and parties and other gatherings of writers.  If you've never done a write in before, I suggest trying one.  Often, once you've dragged your butt to the coffee shop or library or wherever, I feel motivated to have words written before I leave.  If it doesn't work, now you know more about your process. 

5.       There are sprints!  There's a sprinting tool on the website, and also sprints running on Twitter throughout the month. 

6.       You are encouraged to write without editing.  This means you can do silly things like bracket things you already know you're going to delete later, but still count them towards your total.

7.       NaNo attracts writers throughout the spectrum.  There are folks who literally decided yesterday they were going to do this, all the way up to published writers.  Remember the bright eyed enthusiasm you had when you first thought, "I'm going to write a book!"  NaNo can help you get back in touch with that. 


Seven reasons NaNoWrimo may not be for you:

1.       It's a really fast pace.  It is not everyone's ideal pace.  I will tell you, I almost always have one day where I get nothing done, and a few where I don't hit the target.  But aiming for that goal is helpful.  I once tried doubling the pace, and the book I wrote was a mess, and not in a good way.  If you've never tried this pace, I recommend giving it a shot. 

2.       If you are used to editing as you go, it may be really hard for you to not edit.  Again, I recommend trying. But there is also a thing called NaNo rebelling, and you can do whatever makes the most sense for your process.  Be open to not editing.  But if it's holding you back, then be a rebel.  They still let you come to the write ins. 

3.       November may be a crap month for you work wise, home wise, family wise.  NaNo also runs a Camp NaNo in April and July if those are better for you.  I do November even though it's a short month and there's a holiday stuck in the middle.  I usually find I do almost nothing writing wise in December, but Januaryish when things start to get back to normal, having a story ready for my fresh eyes is good.  Also, if you get say 25000 words in the first half, then that's still progress.

4.       You're a pantser who digs yourself into big plot holes.  I'm a pantser and I do often find I run out of plot in week two.  And the pressure of NaNo makes me invent something new to get me out of the hole and keep going.  But, you may be a writer who writes yourself into a hole and needs a week of TV to get yourself back out.  And then the pressure of the ticking clock may not be useful to you.  I've been told plotters don't have this problem.  Is this true plotters?

5.       You became a writer so you didn't have to talk to people.  And I keep talking about meetups and write ins and talking to strangers on the internet. If all these extra people sound like too much, you can avoid them, I promise.  I like people.  But you can do NaNo and tell no one. You can do NaNo, sign up and never go to a thing, never check the Twitter.  It's up to you. 

6.       You are a real writer who does not need a stated event to write books.  Cool!  Good for you.  I also like writing books in months other than November.  But – and I use this example a lot, runners can run on their own and they can enter marathons.  Both are valid ways to be runners.  You can still be a writer if you never NaNo.  You can also be a writer who NaNos. 

7.       You hate arbitrary numbers.  Look, I don't know why they picked 50000 words either.  But make your own goal.  Or write 50000 knowing you will need more or less to do it.  

Monday, October 28, 2019

A Suggested Playlist of Sorts

In light of a tweet by @NoTalentAC suggesting playing Disney music when recording sex tapes, to insure any leaked footage will be taken down, I present this list.
First, you do you, but long time readers know I've been banging (heh) the internet is not secret drum for some time now. Pictures on phones can't be relied on to stay there. Even snapchat can be screenshotted. So basically, regardless of the safeguards you think you have in place, assume anything can get out into the wider world. 
1. Poor Unfortunate Souls.
2. (I Won't Say) I'm in Love
3. Go the Distance
4. How Far I'll Go
5. A Whole New World
6. You're Welcome.
7. I'll Make a Man Out of You
8. Love is an Open Door
9. For The First Time in Forever
10. I See the Light.
11. Almost There
12. Can You Feel the Love Tonight
13. It's Going Down
14. Be Prepared

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Three Interesting Things

1. The story about post-menopausal whales is not only an interesting look at whale culture, but a basic biological premise.  The article states that theoretically after the reproductive years are over, these mammals no longer have a purpose, and then goes on to show how whales use the post-menopausal elders.  So maybe reproduction isn't everyone's only purpose? 
2. Users of Ravelry may have a more duh reaction to this, but this post looks at how having only a like button on parts of the internet encourages people to be quiet when in agreement and extremely verbal when in disagreement.  
3. DCist crunched the numbers on Datelab.  
Bonus:  My co-writer Sabrina Sol wrote a post about our love of second chance stories.  

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

"Let's Go Steal a Podcast"

I was back on "Let's Go Steal a Podcast" to chat about "The Ho Ho Ho Job", with Christina and Robin.  Parker believes in Santa and snow, and also, some delightful guest stars.  

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Books and Theater: The Right to Be Forgotten

These entries are me pairing books that match some of the themes from the plays I have seen.  
Ruby Lang's Clean Breaks looks at figuring out who you are, the the ripple effect of childhood revelations and reputation. It's also a argh, why is that guy hot now type romance.  
Sara Zarr's Story of a Girl is about how everyone treats you, including your family, when everyone decides they know who you are already.  
Tiffany D. Jackson's Allegedly is about a teen trying to change the record of what happened when she was convicted of murder at the age of nine.  

Monday, October 21, 2019

"The Right to Be Forgotten" at Arena Stage

Content warnings: parental death (off stage), an ableist joke, a joke about suicide, and a number of jokes about stalking. Also there is a huge lawyer breach that even my non-lawyer self caught.

As a wonderfully acted thought provoking piece of theater, "The Right to Be Forgotten" entirely succeeds. I'm not sure the case it chooses to focus on is the best choice, and given much of the show is about whether it should go forward, that ends up being a bit of a fundamental flaw.
When he was seventeen, Derril went to a fellow classmate's house because she was sick to check on her. Three times. On the same day. She went from touched to concerned. A blog post about this, and some subsequent lurking in hallways behavior was posted online and developed a large following. Posters began using Derril's name as code for their own stalkers. So now 28, he finds it hard to find jobs or teach or date when this info is out there. He wants the blog delisted, something Europeans have already fought for and won. He finds a lawyer who has been dying to go up against big tech and win. There's an attorney general with a tricky election who also cpnsoders taking this on. And of course the lobbyist for big tech who has her own reasons for thinking free speech is more important than forgetfulness. 
The plot is tightly woven, but oh gosh there were some buttons in there for me. Derril doesn't want to change his name because that's the name his parents called him, that's the name he used when he did all the good things. And I wanted to say, oh hi, imagine being a woman where the default expectation is still that you change your name partway through your life.
I certainly agree that seventeen year-olds make mistakes. But the AG says he will only take on the case if his victim agrees. So she has to relive the thing that happened to her. She has to grant forgiveness. She has to be willing to publicly relive being a victim so that her harasser can move on. 
I am in favor of restorative justice. I certainly think as a country and as a culture we have to better consider how people can move on from the mistakes that they make. But it is not asking for public forgiveness just to make the harassers life better. 
If you are a person who likes to go to plays and have a spirited discussion about the ins and outs of it with your friends, I think this play does that. I sat there wondering what if it had been reversed? What if the person trying to be forgotten was a girl who had been stalked or slut shamed or otherwise slandered on the internet. Or even if it was someone who had already apologized and made amends to the person harmed instead of waiting ten years? People even fictional people aren't perfect. But I feel our rush for closure often skips past the restoration part. And this play did too.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Book and Theater: Footloose

Alexis Daria's Dance with Me - Set on a dancing reality show, dancing and city life are both present, but the story is told with such a love and appreciation for dancing, that I think it has crossover appeal for folks who like "Footloose". 
Jaye Robin Brown's Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit - This book covers trying to fit in in a smaller more religious town than the big city you used to be in, and the good and bad of all that. 
Beverly Jenkins' Rebel - This recommendation may have a few of you scratching your head since it's a historical set in Louisiana, but the heroine has arrived in the hopes of establishing a life away from her strict father and finds herself tempted to do even more things her dad would definitely not approve of.  

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Three Interesting Things

1. Daniel Feinberg is often thoughtful about TV, and this roundup about the trends shown in Fall TV, particularly the dead ladies one, is just that. (I also agree about "Sunnyside" which I want to like more due to it's cast and subject matter.) 
2. Winning a book award should be a joyful moment, and gosh, there is a subtle but clear difference between people being proud of you for being the first pserson of your race/gender/ethnicity/combination therein to win it and people being proud of you for "checking boxes". Chitra Ramaswamy's piece covers this.
3. I was recently pointed to this colection of theories about the Denver airport that are odd and strange and yet not much odder than my limited experience with the airport. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Release Day for the Do It Again Anthology

When we first started chatting about the Do It Again Anthology, we had the idea to do an anthology where the books centered on a second chance or bouncing back theme.  I love second chance stories.  But as I thought about what to write, I thought about Raven.  Raven had shown up in Aloha to You as Adriana's fellow small business owner and purveyor of excellent brownies.  (And tea. Let's not forget that tea.)  I have plans for quite a few characters in the City Complications Series, but I didn't previously have a plan for Raven.  And then I thought about Marcus, who shows up in a story that isn't out yet, and suddenly I had an idea.   
And so Repeated Burn was born.  The idea of Raven, having been dumped by her boyfriend right as her business was starting and having to revisit all of that when said ex moves on again.  That his newest ex shows up because she doesn't know what to do.  That Raven would deliver the new ex to her brother Marcus and that she and Marcus would find themselves drawn together. Except, of course, when you've become used to people doubting your dreams, well, it's hard to trust that you can date someone who won't be a problem.  And on Marcus' side, when you've fallen into the role of helping your sister clean up her messes, it gets hard to step out of that role.
It was also important to me that there wasn't really rivalry between the ex's.  Sometimes that's warranted.  But just as often, no one understands the specific foibles you had been dealing with like your ex's other exes.  
My TL:DR promo: 
*Coffee shop and bakery owner
*Meets corporate hotel dude
*The older brother of her ex's new ex might be the hotness
*Contains brownies and so much coffee
Buy links

Monday, October 14, 2019

"Footloose" at the Kennedy Center

Content warning: physical abuse
I've written before about the inherent contradictions in "High School Musical 2"s "I Don't Dance" number. A musical obviously asks for some suspension of disbelief. But a musical in which you watch everyone on stage dance at regular intervals and yet most of the characters are theoretically requesting permission to dance as the signature plot point, well you have to keep thinking about how you're suspending your disbelief. But of course dancing is a metaphor.
The cast was wonderful. For fans on the movie (either version) the basic plot and music you loved are there with some additions. It is a testament to how carefully each song for the original movie was selected that they work so well when performed by the characters. It is a jukebox musical that doesn't feel like one.
The "Somebody's Eyes" number did some choreography with flashlights that worked so well for me.
J. Quinton Johnson and Judy Kuhn are both such talents that I could understand why anyone would cast them as mother and son given the chance. I will note that colorblind casting can sometimes lead to additional dynamics the show doesn't have space to explore. In this case, for me, having Ren be Black made his trouble fitting in almost make more sense, but your mileage may vary on that.
Minimal staging and short rehearsal time meant one gym period number had folks literally dropping balls. The ensemble handled it well, and it was funny to watch even if that hadn't been what the director or choreographer intended.
I continue to enjoy this Center Stage series.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Three Interesting Things

1. I deleted some of my initial Twitter thoughts about this, but found this response from fans regarding the NBA's handling of recent discussions about Hong Kong fascinating.  I've seen all sorts of signs at games, although admittedly I am usually there for hockey games.  I recognize that the arena has a no politics in signs rule, and of course the always present at the discretion of management stuff, which I have seen used against things like knitting.  Given there was a time when a water bottle cap was a precious commodity in the arena, I recognize sports arenas are one more place where varying rules are randomly applied.  No politics is the kind of vague rule that can be applied to anything.  Union contracts are politics after all.  And all the teams that play at that arena are unionized.  
2. There's been some talk about how some of the requests we see from folks for police to intervene where people are just being people is a result of folks from small towns or suburbs moving into places where we all live closer together, where you get to see, hear, and even smell neighbors, it changes how you operate.  Or, it doesn't.  This reflection on the now deceased Joshua Brown by Stacia L. Brown is not an easy read, but looks at what it means to consider your neighbors community.  
3. I've been fascinated with the interst in this DCist story about the proposed Disney America park.  Sure, I lived here then.  Sure, my dad had been a real estate consultant who had been involved in the site proposals for Disney France.  (No we did not get Disney tickets out of this.  I know.)  But I guess the combo of better faster social media means we rediscover such things all the time now.  

Monday, October 07, 2019

Books - a Third Quarter Round Up

Therese Beharrie's One Day to Fall - I loved this story of two somewhat cranky people who run into each other at the hospital and have to deal with altered family relationships and figuring out their new place and if they even have time to think smoochie thoughts at each other.  
Caitlin Crews' A Baby to Bind His Bride - For those familiar with the Presents line, this is bonkers in the way of Presents in that a woman shows up at a commune to discover her husband who was presumed dead in the hopes of being like, cool, cool, please take your awful family back and I'll be on my way.  And then of course she ends up pregnant and they have to figure basically everything out.  There is some imprisonment, because Presents dudes are terribly controlling.  I felt the groveling balance made up for it, but YMMV.  
Olivia Dade's Teach Me  - We read this for romance book group, and it was everything I had hoped for.  Full disclosure, I am friends with Dade.  This book about two teachers of a certain age navigating a shifting school year, divorce (more recent for him), and what it might mean if they fell in love was just delightful.  My angst meter is very broken.  But to me this felt low angst, there were career concerns, and of course, can I trust happy concerns, but this demonstration of mature people falling in love was a delight.  
Claire Kann's If it Makes You Happy - I loved this Gilmore Girls-esque story of a young Black woman going to visit her grandmother for the summer, and ending up in a summer royalty situation where her ungirlfriend and her possible crush compete for her attention.  Warning: Her grandmother and others do participate in some fatphobic behavior.  She handles it well, but it is tough.  
Aminah Mae Safi's Tell Me How You Really Feel - Breaking the alphabet because to me this paired so well with the Claire Kann book.  Also Gilmore Girls-esque, but if what you really wanted was Rory and Paris to be a enemies to girlfriends style couple.  Sana keeps firing the lead in her movie, so her film club advisor forces her to cast Rachel.  
Justin A. Reynolds' The Opposite of Always - I listened to this book on audio so it took me perhaps longer than it should've to figure out what was happening.  But it is essentially a longer term Groundhog Day, so he has longer to figure out if the tweaks to this run through have been more or less successful.  
Ruby Lang's Playing House - I adored this story of two New York urban planners finding each other at various open houses and then discovering that maybe there is something there.  Sure, come for the real estate nerdery, but stay for the moment where a mom tells her kid in front of the siblings that they were right.  
Tara Pammi's An Innocent to Tame the Italian - This is also a Presents, and also bonkers.  She hacks his system, he locates her and basically is like so now I need you to both patch my security and be my fake fiancee.  And off they go.  
Daniel H. Pink's When - A number of people recommended Pink to me.  This one looked at the way we've designed timing and how that does and doesn't work for many people.  I did the audio and found some useful tidbits.  
Becca Syme's Dear Writer You Need to Quit - Syme and I met when we both worked on a contest together, and I've admired her posts on how knowing yourself can lead you to better sort through the conflicting productivity advice out there.  She in this book, and in the Quitcast podcast focus on writers, but I think a lot of this advice works for other folks to.  
Olivia Waite's The Lady's Guide to Celestial Mechanics - This book did everything I had hoped for when Waite first announced a story with an embroiderer and an astonomer.  The ideas about who gets to be at the table, why it always looks like the women there are just listening, and what it means to face publicity.  

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Three Interesting Things

1.  My mom is having some health issues so coming across this poem by Ada Limon entitled The Raincoat was especially moving. 
2. I've talked before about the congregation (haha) of places of worship on 16th Street.  DCist/WAMU has the scoop.  
3. And I was this year year's old when I was pointed to the Snopes on tainted Halloween candy which basically says nope, never happened.  A few cases of murder that were blamed on Halloween candy at first, but that's it.