Monday, September 20, 2021

The Pace Is Unrelenting

I remember looking up corporate policy at one job after a relative died and noting that they had codified how much time off each death earned. Like three days for a parent or child, two for a grandparent, one for aunts, uncles, and so on. Everything else counted as regular vacation time. 
I mention this not so much to fault the HR people who were tasked with figuring this out. But we are trained early and often to believe grief has a measurable timeframe, and after that, any failures to return to normal are a personal problem. 
Obviously as I count up the personal griefs I am working through, this is more noticeable. But with this many losses, you have to be just incredibly lucky to be untouched. And if you remain in that privileged place it feels odd. It felt odd for me to live through both September 11th in DC, and the Beltway Sniper shootings the following year and feel mostly untouched. (I was also grieving my dad, so my sense of okay was likely profoundly off kilter.) 
We are all experiencing pandemic related change, and yet we are now supposed to be experienced pandemic people, and therefore should need no more time for grief, worry, or concern. So what if literally nothing is back to normal yet, we are expected to carry on. And I recognize that no one reading this is surprised, but sometimes it feels important to keep mentioning, this is not normal. It is okay to feel sad, mad, tired or some variation thereof. 
And yes, I realize I say all this after wrapping a work week, followed by volunteering/attending a virtual convention, so if you even doubt these posts are me talking to myself as much as anyone else, it definitely is.  

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Three Interesting Things

1. In my apparent new role as person who reads thoughtful pieces about TV I have not watched, I enjoyed this piece with Meg Conley talking about some of the context of US Housewives, prosperity gospel, and capitalism, that didn't make it into the "LulaRich" documentary. 
2. This interview with Gabrielle Union looked at how she has found radical transparency to be a superpower
3. And yay for the local resident who won the Tiny Desk Contest.  

Monday, September 13, 2021

Questions I Have Not Seen White Writers Asked

And yes, every one if these is based on a real question I have seen an author asked. 

1. Do you always think you'll write about white people, or are you interested in other kinds of characters too?
2. I know you've said you write the stories you wish you'd had growing up, and that's great. Do you think non-white people can find something for themselves in your work?
3. I really enjoyed reading your work. If I wanted to learn more about white people, do you have any other recommendations?
4. There's another white writer that I know of, have you met them?
5. I've adopted a white child, do you have any recommendations for things I could do or not do in raising them?
6. My child is marrying someone who is white, do you think she will enjoy your work?
7. I teach a lot of white students, but they aren't sure they want to read your work. What should I tell them?
8. I didn't always understand all the references in your book. Do you know where I can go to learn more about white culture?
9. I was reading yesterday about these white bank robbers. Have you considered writing a story on that?

Thursday, September 09, 2021

Three Interesting Things

1. This is written about UU congregations, but I think the idea of creating workable communities in the face of one or more members holding back progress is applicable to other spaces as well. 
2. An artist created the Salon of the Refused, after not being selected for a collection, and talked about the project here. 
3. This piece on periods and sports was fascinating.  

Tuesday, September 07, 2021

Energy vs. Experience

I've been watching the US Open and well, feeling a bit tired and please join me as I turn this into an extended analogy. 
One of the things that is often true about younger players is that they have skill, of course, and so much energy, but less pro experience. Players who are ten years older have simply played more games than you. They have more experience to draw from. 
But younger players have a lot of energy. So if the game goes to extra sets, they eat extra sets for snacks. They bounce on their toes between points, not just to stay warm, but also because they are so jazzed to be playing. 
And so the lack of experience can push you through errors like trying a fancy shot that didn't work, or focusing more on returning the ball and not planning for the shot after that. They can get run all back and forth by a more experienced player and just keep going. 
And that works for a while. Sometimes four rounds of that catches up to you. 
As an experienced player you can be strategic with your shots. You are accustomed to thinking through returning serves, when to move in and when to hang back, planning lobs and other things to keep your opponent expending lots of energy while you conserve yours. So if your opponent in the energizer bunny that's fine because you have the skills to wear them out until they make a mistake. 
But of course some days the player with the energy wins, and some days the strategy and experience wins. And some days you thought you were the strategic player, but it looks like you're relying on energy and vibes today. 
And some days you do what you can to survive long enough to get a nap. 

Thursday, September 02, 2021

Three Interesting Things

1. I was pointed to this post about the death (perhaps) of five year plans
2. Continuing my theme of reading thoughtful articles about TV shows I have not watched, I found this piece on "The Chair" fascinating
3. Another Gulf is Possible is providing support to folks affected by Hurricane Ida.  Help Sierra Breathe is helping folks near some of the fire zones get masks. 

Monday, August 30, 2021

The Math of Adjustment

We've been talking the the Write Better Faster group about this Awkward Yeti cartoon:
I had one of those weeks. Or weekends. Essentially, for reasons, I currently cannot use my stove. I became aware of this when I tried to turn it on to make dinner Friday night. I decided this was a sign that I was meant to make the frozen pizza in my toaster oven instead. 
There are cascading things related to this. Building staff needed to enter my apartment Saturday which of course meant looking around and thinking maybe a quick scrub of the kitchen was in order. 
And of course it meant the plans I had made to consume pasta and soup over the next few days got scrapped. 
Now of course these are essentially minor inconveniences. I happened to have a frozen pizza, and other food that could be prepared using the toaster oven and/or microwave. My kettle is also electric. I did have to scan through the fridge and figure out what was not going to wait for the fix and needed to be roasted or consumed or frozen in the next few days. 
But I am fine. My loved ones are fine. This is mostly a logistics problem. 
And yet, life has been a large logistics problem for about a year and a half. Having to think through the logistics of this, revise yet another plan, because of something outside of my control is tiring. 
It's okay to be tired. It's okay to be bummed that I can't make soup right now. And it's okay to be sad about something that is not life threatening. We are all carrying a lot. Being tripped up sucks. Even when you know it will probably work out okay. 

Friday, August 27, 2021

On the Newsletter - My Own Ripped Bodice Summer Bingo Report

Over on the newsletter, I reported which boxes I did (and did not) read this summer.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Three Interesting Things

1. I really enjoy the 88 Cups of Tea podcast, so I appreciated this interview with Yin Chang where she talked about her return to "Gossip Girl" and what she's learned in her time building both a storyteller community and a food community. 
2. This older post about banking and prudery noted the impact on Patreon, former book purveyor AllRomance and others, which was context I saw missing from many others.  This Slate piece covers some of the more recent developments with OnlyFans. 
3. Given all the things lately, there are two charity auctions with a bookish bent coming up: Romance for Haiti and Romancelandia for Afghan Women

Monday, August 23, 2021

Hope Isn't Silly

I was telling someone I'm in a stint of books about hard things - dystopias, traumas, grief, cross cultural parents.  And they are each useful and good, and are mostly all lined with hope but sometimes it's hard to keep going even with the promise of hope.  
And well, it's hard when the world itself is as it is.  I thought I had kept my expectations realistic, but there are things I thought I could maybe do this fall that are clearly not possible right now.  And that's sad.  
And my worries do not include in person work right now.  I have friends who have already been back to in person work, who are being asked back because someone wants to try, or because there are financial stakes to being there in person.  
The project I'm working on right now I am dealing entirely with people who have lost someone so I am dealing with a lot of people in every phase of grief, including the I think everyone is lying to me and everything is terrible phase.  It is a really great project. It's using a lot of my skills in ways I hadn't flexed in quite this manner in a while.  But it's hard.  
Grief is hard. Trauma is hard.  One of the things I am reading rattled off the stats and between war, assault, intimate partner violence, and addiction, we are a society that is already carrying a lot of trauma and adding a pandemic just means another layer to that.  
Hope can often be placed alongside words like fluffy and sparkly, words that connote sillness and a lack of seriousness.  But hope is incredibly serious business.  Looking around at the cracks and issues in our society and being willing to roll up sleeves and work on making things better is serious stuff. Gathering enough food and cozy blankets to feed and snuggle everyone in your household is also serious stuff.  Survival, as this pandemic has reminded us, is not a given.  Doing the work to keep going requires a complete toolset and hope is an important part of it. 

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Three Interesting Things

1. As someone who used to rely on Snopes quite a bit, this article detailing both plagiarism and false sourcing was fairly disheartening. 
2. I was pointed to this post from last year that spoke of some ways to make sure you are avoiding racist tropes in your fiction. It focuses on SFF, but I think is widely applicable. 
3. Bookstore Romance Day is this weekend, and there's so many panels.  Also, there's Bookshop links on that page if there are no participating stores near you and/or shipped books are preferable to your life right now. 

Monday, August 16, 2021

Thinking Globally

In a couple of different capacities, I work with international teams. I received an email - sent by a USian,  a few weeks back that ended with the closing, "I hope you all are enjoying vaccinated life" and I cringed internally. 
I am vaccinated. I am lucky to live somewhere, and to have had a schedule at the time that meant I could just pick the best times for me and go. I had the ability to spend a day recovering. (My symptoms were neither unusual for me nor outside the usual reported ones. But for me, I was not much good for about 24 hours after.)
I am aware that there are those with conditions who have been advised to wait. That plenty of people live in households with people currently unable to be vaccinated. Oh, and that worldwide the vaccine is only available in abundance in a handful of countries. Such that the worldwide vaccination rates are under 25 percent. 
Someone got a lot of flack on Twitter earlier this year for pointing out that when working in international teams, it's worth considering that not everyone is in the same season. And sure, if someone wishes me a good morning, I don't yell at them to respect time zones. But I do often answer with, oh, good afternoon. 
And one of the easiest things that people with access to vaccination can do, is remember that there are tons, literal tons of people, who still don't have the option yet. 

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Three Interesting Things

1. I was alerted to two posts about Janet Dailey this week.  The first was here - from April. And then this one that delved a little more into it. 
I recognize that the posthumous author angle is clearly the most intriguing, but I feel it worth noting that Janet Dailey was found to have gone through a period of plagiarism mostly because for all the folks that pop up and say the internet is mean for cancelling people, this author's career has outlived both plagiarism and her.  
2. Linda Holmes at NPR dabbled in watching each sport for the Olympics.  
3. This story about the goings on at Scholastic in the wake of the CEO's death is a reminder that these things happen in real life too, and affect real employees. 

Monday, August 09, 2021

7 Things I (Re)Learned From the Olympics

1. Some days, no matter how hard you trained, no matter how many accolades you have already gotten, you cannot get all the things to work the way you want on the day you want. 
2. After you've done a very hard thing, it's normal to collapse in a heap for a bit.
3. Sometimes your very best day aligns with someone else's very best day. Sometimes that means incredible success. And sometimes that means people asking did you mind only getting the bronze even though you were faster than the world record that was on the books. 
4. People who are not you are very sure they know your future (This is probably her last Olympics...). You don't have to listen to them. 
5. There are only three medal winners but between personal bests, country, and continent records, there are lots of ways to measure excellence. 
6. Sometimes finishing really is achievement enough. 
7. Sometimes sharing the win is cooler than duking out who was the tiniest bit better. 

Friday, August 06, 2021

Three Interesting Things

1. I found this article about the various concerns wearing leotards can bring for young women interesting. 
2. This article really nailed the issue for me with food and cultural appropriation
3. And I put together a Bookshop list of native American writers.  I will add to it as I run across more names.

Monday, August 02, 2021

A Tangled Fan

I need to get a new fan. 
Growing up our house had AC, but my mother was very much an open the windows for a cross breeze person, where my dad was a modern technology means never being uncomfortable person which meant the thermostat was set to 78, and got turned off altogether if it was deemed a cool night. 
The building I live in has central air, but I find my individual apartment unit too cold if it runs all the time, so I rely on the main building cooling and a fan for much of the time. 
The current fan I have sits on the floor and tilts up, keeping the air in the apartment circulating. 
I was sitting near the fan knitting. Yes, it is predictable in retrospect that sitting near a fan with yarn would lead to yarn in the fan. Also, yes, I could, in theory, disassemble the fan. In practice the fan does not come apart easily, which is a shame because it is very gorgeous yarn. 
I also spent a good amount of time poking a plastic crochet hook into the unplugged fan, but not being able to get a good angle at the back meant I couldn't tell when I had crossed from unwrapping to rewrapping, so in the end scissors had to be employed. 
And also, now I need a new fan. This time I'm prioritizing ones that come apart easily. For cleaning of course. 

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Three Interesting Things

1. Njera Perkins looked at the expectations that Black women athletes face. 
2. David Perry talked about the dangers of trying to return to normal
3. This couple went with a DC metro theme for their wedding. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

What Sports Demonstrates About Athleticism and Consent

People much smarter than I have already talked about the importance of protecting one's body and soul, even if you are an athlete, and even or perhaps especially in a pandemic. 
I want to talk about two things: athleticism and consent. 
On the athleticism front I think there is a weird thing that sometimes happens in sports, where we assume the sporting is a prelude. Like obviously so-and-do will win and we're all just here to watch it. Except obviously not, or we could just hand out trophies. Those other folks - sure not all of them expect to win each day, but you don't have to travel across the world and sleep in a strange bed just to run, or swim, or do back flips. 
Sports is about the unexpected. This is why I am fascinated when the weather factors in. The story could and often should be about the folks who had a great day, not just who wasn't. 
On the consent front, one of the most challenging things about consent is that we tell everyone it is an ongoing conversation and yet we don't really mean it. Let me tell a story, I swear is related. 
I had a train ticket and the folks I was visiting said, oh, let's go to breakfast beforehand. In the discussion the night before the cafe at the train station had been mentioned, so I assumed it was an option being considered. That morning there was some texting with one party and some focus on other things. And then it was decided we should breakfast. I mentioned the cafe at the station and was vetoed. Three other options were mentioned, including one that the last time I ate at it took two hours to complete our meal and we were now just over an hour from my train. 
I picked the one closest to the station, when I expressed time concerns, I was told that everything was very close and it was a weekday, nowhere would be busy. 
Well, we got to said place, and there were people standing around near the entrance clearly waiting to be called for a table. 
At this point I rescinded my vote for said place because by the time we got on the list, got a table, it would be too much to expect a packed restaurant to turn over our food that quickly and it would mean eating in a rush. 
So then we (after another attempt at an order and pay first place) we ended up at the train station cafe where we all finished well before the train arrived. 
So, the thing with consent is, you agree to do (or not do) something based on the information and circumstances you are aware of at the time. Sometimes you sleep like crap, sometimes there's way more traffic than you planned for, sometimes once you get there, the things you were expecting aren't as you expected. And we have to be okay with people changing based on new information, even if that information exists inside their own body. 

Monday, July 26, 2021

Sports in Pandemic Times

Years ago, I visited Barcelona and one of the things you could go see was the Olympic Stadium and the hotel built for the Olympics.  I was there in June, and I hope there are things in normal times that the stadium is used for, but wandering through a huge empty stadium was off, and the hotel looked odd, taller and shinier than most buildings in Barcelona, it just looked plunked down there.  
A cousin got married near Lake Placid and we went to visit some of the things leftover from that that are still used for training.  
I went on a work trip to Salt Lake City, and we took a look at the bobsled tracks still there.  
I started to wonder how many leftover bits there were in various cities that had hosted the Olympics. The housing, the various equipment needs, it's probably not anything that any city needs to speed zillions of dollars building for two amazing weeks.  
I used to love the reading of the Olympic oath.  These days it is ever more clear to me how much the athlete's rules are bendable if you are the right kind of athlete.  If you're a privileged white guy, it's fine to vandalize things, harm other players, and so on.  Some folks have been able to appeal their positive drug tests, and others have not.  It's not fair, and like so many things, it in part has to do with who has the time, energy, and social capital to make an issue of something.  To move forward and survive headlines associating you with scandal.  
When runner Dutee Chand's gender was questioned, her mother talked about the shame of all of this happening in public.  Likely plenty more athletes have run afoul of the narrow gender definitions and simply not wished to press it.  
And then you add in a pandemic.  A pandemic where gathering in groups increases risk.  A pandemic where the virus causes long term lung damage, a particular problem for athletes.  A pandemic where travelling and unequal access to vaccination increases the risk of variants developing.  A pandemic where vaccinated folks are more likely to contract asymptomatic versions and not know to further limit contact.  
All of this is to say, my love for the Olympics is tarnished, and it is completely ridiculous that we are asking these athletes, the many volunteers and staff, to do this so we can watch safely from our TVs.  
And I still cried when I saw who lit the flame.  

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Three Interesting Things

1. This article noted that cross cultural casting has always existed, the current change in just in who is getting cast cross-culturally. 
2. I will possibly stop sharing every post about Fiyahcon at some point, but this piece with Vida and Iori talking about the costs and time accessibility for what will now be BonFiyah, was interesting. 
3. I caught up to this Lil Nas X profile.  (Content note: there are some passing mentions of suicidal ideation.)

Monday, July 19, 2021

Some of Your Uncertainty is Wisdom

I was talking to a friend a bit ago and she was saying that she was stuck in the decision cycle and it annoyed her to still be noodling over some things, but also she couldn't figure out the best way forward.  And I said to her, well, some of your uncertainty is wisdom.  
I wasn't trying to be super profound, but the reality is, certainty comes from being able to predict reliably, and this last year plus has shown that many things are not going the way anyone expected them to.  
Uncertainty sucks, and of course, we like to try to think our way out of it.  But sometimes you can't.  I have predictions for what the fall will look like as offices and schools resume more in person gathering, but they are guesses.  I think my guesses on this are better than some other people's but - much like that article about sporting events in the UK, we are going to try a bunch of things and see how they go.  
Obviously people can't stay inside forever, not even the ones who've been privileged to have some say about that.  And everyone who stays inside is relying on those who aren't or can't to some extent.  
We are all weighing risks and making the best choices we can based on the data and our own predictions, but we do still have a limited sample set to work with.  And even when I say I have predictions, I have predictions about infection spread.  I don't know how offices and schools and other businesses will respond.  I don't know how the government - local or federal will respond if infections tick back up.  
We are all trying and this would be less worrisome if real people's lives weren't at stake.  I remember a co-worker saying once, well, we're not brain surgeons, no one's dying today.  Except that we were dealing with prescription files, so like I could pretty easily get to the part where someone's health was at risk.  And the pandemic has been like that.  I know some people have narrowed their focus to themselves because the larger responsibility is too much to think about.  
So uncertainty sucks, but sometimes it is not a failing for you to be uncertain.  

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Three Interesting Things

1. This article looked at the complicated feelings surfing hitting the Olympics brings, as it has come to be known as a sport of white people, divorced from its Hawaiian roots. 
2. Nathan Burgoine pointed to this older post about why being viewed as a plot bunny by people is tiring, in light of some recent book world revelations. 
3. This piece looks at how the Merrie Monarch Festival (which was able to be held in a socially distant fashion this year) has brought hula to a wider audience

Monday, July 12, 2021

Stealing People's Stories

For those of you paying attention to the discourse out there, this both is and is not about the revelation that the short story "Cat Person" lifted some details from a real person's life. 
I had a conversation with a family friend who is an artist, who said when she paints people, she usually envisions someone she knows to start with, and kind of adds enough bits on top that it isn't really them, but she can always see who she used to start with underneath, and was writing like that.  
For me it both is and is not.  I always remember the bit in L. M. Montgomery's Emily series, where Emily gets published and various neighbors decide they are the such and such character and feel affronted about this bit. Because I think no matter what you do as an author, people who know you are going to decide you stole it from them.  
I have written stories based on real people, but also not.  Because I'm a pantser, if I know exactly what happened, I am bored, and no longer care.  But I did once write a story that combined a bunch of things my brain had been noodling on, and then when it was finished, realize one element of it bore enough similarity to something that had happened to a roommate of mine that there was no way she wasn't going to think it was inspired by that, even though I hadn't thought about them once when I was drafting.  That wasn't the only problem with that story, my main character changes personalities halfway through and that meant at least half of it needed to be re-written, probably more, and so I trunked it.  It wasn't just because it resembled a thing that had happened to someone, because let's face it there are a finite number of things that happen to people, especially when writing contemporary.  But once the similarity was clear to me, I couldn't see how I could fix the story and disentangle it enough from what had happened to my roommate to not seem like a trauma vampire and so trunked that story is.  
But yes, writers joke about plot bunnies, but for me, unless I'm doing a retelling, I'm taking a thing and throwing it into a blender and using it to power the story engine, not using it as the entire story template.  These differences may seem subtle but I do think it's important.  I want people to feel seen when they read a story I wrote because I got to some emotional truth of a thing.  Now, of course, I did use a viral date gone wrong story for Undercover Bridesmaid, but I felt to me like that was different because I was using a thing and the story wasn't really about that, that was just a way to move the beginning bit.  Could I have done it another way?  Yes.  
And certainly I am often inspired by stories that I read, both the viral date gone bad, and other news stories.  But mostly the thing I wonder is - what happens next?  Like sure, you go on a date and discover the guy has booked other dates, but what do you do next? 
And yes, I have overheard things in coffee shops, and thought hmm, and talked to people about funny things that happened to them and thought hmm, but writing a story about Bob in accounting is not appealing to me.  And while I can never guarantee I won't stumble onto a combination of things that happened to someone I know, I can of course try not to do it intentionally. And it feels like if anyone can say I think your whole story is based on me and Bob, then rather than there's a bit in chapter two that happened to me once, well, it feels like that's not fiction anymore.  

Thursday, July 08, 2021

Three Interesting Things

1. Eater had a piece about how restaurants could use these pandemic skills to also figure out how to better accommodate diners who are disabled.  
2. This teen has expanded her pandemic bakery into a growing business.  
 Pets of chefs - Washington City Paper interviewed some local chefs about their dogs.  

Monday, July 05, 2021

Holidays and Work

I have attended schools both private and public. I have worked for small businesses and large corporations. The one commonality is that there is no consistency in holidays. I had to become a freelancer to get Indigenous Peoples Day or Emancipation Day off (both city holidays in DC). 
When Y2K was a concern, the company I worked for took away New Years as a holiday for us. Like we all had to work January 1, even though if all the patches we had worked around the clock to implement failed, I personally was not in charge of fixing that. And all of that is totes legal in the US, because it was a company wide policy. 
I am not against holidays. I like them. I think the US has a lot to learn about letting people relax. But I think when we talk about things from Election Day to Juneteenth, the fact that holidays only exist for the privileged gets lost. 
Sure, most federal employees get federal holidays. But hospitals, nursing homes, electric companies, public transit, all of these things keep going. And what is it you think you're doing on this holiday? Are you going to a restaurant, stopping in a store? Of course you know those things are run by people. 
So, I like a good holiday. But holidays in the US are not equal. And they are not accessible to everyone. And not everyone gets holiday pay for working them. 
So holidays can be part of any movement towards making things better. But they are never the only response needed. 

Thursday, July 01, 2021

Three Interesting Things

1. Some European scientists want sports fans to know, this summer is all an experiment
2. Eddie Louise, who I worked on Fiyahcon with, had some thoughts about how awards could better accommodate teams.  
3. NPR's Joy Generator is a fun way to look at things that bring people joy and why, so you feel smart in your joy. Plus there are puppies and kittens. 

Monday, June 28, 2021

How I Became a Surprise President

I like phone games.  I play them only on my phone, even when they offer laptop versions because my phone is in theory where the fun things happen, although that's also where I do all my social media, so that's not always what's happening on my phone.  I am aware that since I constantly use the internet on my laptop, I am always about a click and a half away from a game, but this is knowledge I try to ignore.  
I've begun playing these two hidden object games that are both from the same creators.  As with other things, once I find a game I like, I often search for others like it.  My attention span for games is sort of variable.  I often love them a lot for a few days, drop down to a more reasonable amount of time, and then either complete them or fade out.  Not all games offer end points.  
At one point in these two hidden object games, I was offered the opportunity to join a club for more rewards.  I don't do everything the games always suggest to garner rewards.  I basically never go liek their social media, I will occasionally watch ads, I am a little variable.  But joining a club in the game seemed harmless.  So I searched for ones with easy breezy sounding names and joined one.  And then I reached a similar point in the other game and did the same.  
So, these two games are from the same creators, but there are some differences in operation.  One has much more regular little sidequests, and club membership lets you share energy and other rewards, as well as getting you access to a weekly challenge.  Basically, since I've joined the club I have so many coins I don't even know what to spend them on, and our team wins the weekly challenge really regularly.  I was welcomed on entry, and told that they liked to chat, liked to friend each other on Facebook, and liked to have each team member maintain a certain level of points each week, but if I had a week where something took me away and I let people know, that was fine.  
I confess at the start that seemed like a lot of data, but it was clear, and so far they have been fine with my regular but comparatively minimal contributions.  (Many of them appear to be insomniacs who play through the night.  I am a person who likes to have play breaks during the day, but does not play too late because I ended up dreaming the game.)  
The other group no one said anything.  Or at least not at first.  Now the other game the weekly challenges for teams have varied, and do not always require team participation.  You can share gifts that convert to energy or clues, and so we were doing that.  
And then we got a new person who was very chatty.  Not excessively so, but when there had been almost no chat before, there was now daily chat, so it was a shift.  And it was almost entirely this one person trying to encourage us to move up the leaderboard, play the challenge, rah, rah, rah! They started remarking that we had more players who hadn't played that week at all, than we did who were actively playing.  We made it past one leaderboard challenge, and the rest, we did okay but often got beat out by teams with more active players, or more willingness to spend money on extra energy.  
And so finally that person announced they were off to form their own team with celar requirements and leadership roles, and they left.  Several other players left with them.  We had a few new people join, ask a question and when it didn't immediately get answered they left too.  (In fairness, people are in all different time zones, but hey.)  
I kept playing.  I was playing a lot and noticed one week I was the only one who participated in the special challenge. I started checking the stats of other players to see if I was the only one still playing.  One player who had been active seemed to have stopped.  One other player was still making progress.  And that seemed to be it, out of eight theoretical people.
I was trying to decide if I cared.  There were a couple of bonus things that you can't really ever do without others, but beyond that, it wasn't holding me back from playing the game.  And then one day I got a game alert.  Usually they tell me my energy has renewed.  This one said I was President.  
I immediately logged back in to the game because how could that be right?  But as I poked around I was not listed as president, and it appeared that I could not eject people from our club and I also could just reassign the presidency.  
I have not yet done anything with this new power. But I might.     

Friday, June 25, 2021

Re-Release - Repeated Burn

As long time readers might recall, I had a story called Repeated Burn, that originally appeared in the Do It Again Anthology.  The anthology (which has now been sunsetted) worked around a theme of second chance or bouncing back.  As I thought through who to write about, 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.)  
As it developed I decided that it was essentially a spinoff of the City Complications Series, so I'm re-releasing it as the first in the City Entanglements series.  For those of you who like to adhere to reading order, I wrote Repeated Burn to take place in approximately the same time frame as Aloha to You, which is to say they can be read in either order and nothing will be spoiled. 
Raven is already having a bad Monday, and the appearance of her ex's new ex is not helping. She delivers Sienna to her brother Marcus, planning to wash her hands of the whole thing. But the universe seems determined to throw her and Marcus together. Marcus is used to cleaning up his little sister's messes. They usually don't involve attractive women. He is drawn to Raven's independence and her confidence. But Raven's been burned by those who claimed to love her time and again. Will she be able to trust that Marcus is ready for the long haul?
TL:DR version of the blurb
*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

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Three Interesting Things

1. Sarah Kuhn writes wonderfully about how anger isn't always the wrong response
2. Linda Holmes writes about how the Fast and Furious franchise's evolutions, are in some ways, a look at how Hollywood has changed. 
3. And with a warning that this is a WaPo link, there have been a lot of nut thefts lately.  Like trucks full of nuts.  

Monday, June 21, 2021

Juneteenth and Incremental Change

This is essentially a version of my window dressing post. 
As Juneteenth became a holiday for the limited number of employees who are privileged to celebrate federal holidays, I thought of a few things. People often assume everyone gets holidays off. When you mention things like utility employees, first responders, hospital employees, and restaurant employees, as a start, they say,  well sure not them. But at least they get holiday pay. I mean maybe. Holiday pay is not legally required anywhere in the US. 
And of course I had a similar conversation with someone about Emancipation Day, which is a DC city holiday. A holiday that no school or company I have so far ever worked for took off. Again, thrilled for the folks who get it. 
DC's Emancipation Day dates back to 1862. Civil War buffs might note that predates the US Civil War. The US was getting pressure to get rid of slavery and so as a compromise they banned slavery in the Capitol. So like you just had to buy and sell people in Alexandria. (Those of you who recall that Alexandria was part of DC and then got given back to Virginia might be having a bit of an aha moment.)
I don't presume to know what the feelings were of the 3000 enslaved persons who were freed by this, but I imagine it was odd to be like yay free, but now where can I go, what can I do, especially when on all sides slavery was still happening. Just not in this truncated square city. 
And it took a war and some time to make further progress on the I guess slavery is bad front. 
But it occurred to me that maybe that was a thing to hope for here. Not war. But that this additional holiday was a step in remembering and acknowledging the harmful policies our country enacted and continues to try to address. That the holiday is clearly not the end, but a step along the way towards more progress. 

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Three Interesting Things

1. I was pointed to this post from March, that includes a delightful chart (my heart!) about easy ways folks who have made a name for themselves with a culture not their own can make solidarity a part of their everyday.  Equally applicable to others looking for ways to be more than just a social media ally. 
2. If you heard about this story and thought, Tara is putting this in her ideas file, you are correct.  A woman discovered her boyfriend was cheating right before a planned trip.  Meeting the other woman, they decided why let a good trip go to waste.  Woman let boyfriend know at the airport about the plan change, leaving him to figure out where to stay and all that on his own.  (Also, I have mixed feelings about vaccinated folks engaging in tourism to places where vaccine access is low so I am choosing to believe that this trip happened in the before.  Your mileage on that may vary.) 
3. DC, in addition to having a Council, has ANC's that handle issues for a hyperlocal area.  The ANC that is primarily occupied by the city jail has been vacant, but thanks to a recent election, is now occupied.  

Monday, June 14, 2021

"In the Heights" - the movie

I have listened to the "In the Heights" Broadway cast album countless times over the years. It is part of a July tradition for me. 

When I finally got a chance to see it performed live, both times "Alabanza" made me cry. 

When they released the trailer for the movie, the "We are Claudia's Dream" sign got me. 

I saw one critic mention that they were still in the thick of grief and didn't think they could give the movie a fair shake. 

I knew going in, I was going to be emotional. In my case I worried that I would like it too much, because I needed it to be good. 

Well, I liked it. It's easy, when seeing a thing in a different form, to dwell on the changes. There are some, for sure. 

The themes of hope and home are still there. It is a love letter to a neighborhood, to a cross section of diasporan Latinx folks, with different dreams and plans, but all trying to support each other.  The essence is the same. There are songs, and dancing, and fireworks. Nina is back from a disappointing year at Stanford, her dad is worried about money, Usnavi is close to getting back to the Dominican Republic, but also could maybe see an eye to asking out Vanessa. Maybe.

Some new bits are layered in, references to a Carribean hurricane, to the DREAM Act, and to racial profiling. 

The trick with filmed musicals is taking advantage of the cinematic opportunities, but also not going so big you lose your characters. There is some amazing cinematography. Beautiful choreography. Enough of it was filmed on location that it feels like New York. And there are enough extras and ensemble members that it feels like New York. 

They use a lot of film tricks and even CGI and there was one point where I thought, was there any trick they didn't try? But it was also fun. So many moments where it looked fun and felt fun to watch. 

And yes, I cried. 

It's interesting. I love filmed musicals, because I know it's an embarrassment of riches in normal times with the access to theater I have here, and I also know some of the earliest theater I watched was filmed musicals. They make it more accessible to more people. But sometimes, like the "Rent" movie, I feel like it's more of an intro. Like, the "Rent" movie is a taster, and if you are into it, then you should go get the real thing. I think the "In the Heights" movie is a whole thing. And if you love it, you could also keep an eye out for local productions. 

Friday, June 11, 2021

Three Interesting Things

1, I found this article about how those who lost loved ones to COVID finding calls for normal troubling resonated.  (WaPo link so may be pay or registration walled for you.)
2. This Washingtonian post is about DC places that are named - um - not where they are.  This is likely true of other localities, but as someone who lives near one of these places, I am regularly amused by it. 
3. I've been thinking a lot about reality chef shows and found this article about the audition process interesting. 

Monday, June 07, 2021

The Ripped Bodice Bingo Suggestions for 2021

I enjoy the challenge The Ripped Bodice Bingo presents to my reading.  (Formal rules and bingo board at the link.)
If you choose to participate, here are some suggestions of books that I have already read that meet some of the categories.  (I will obviously have to find more for my own challenge.)
Educator:  The super easy answer on this is Teach Me by Olivia Dade.  Rebekah Weatherspoon's Xeni also qualifies. 
Construction: Meka James Being Neighborly and Beverly Jenkins Wild Rain both have folks involved in construction. 
Friends to Lovers: Jackie Lau's A Fake Girlfriend for Chinese New Year
Down on it's luck small town:  So, I think Tracey Livesay's Sweet Talkin Lover works here.  The town is not quite struggling, but they need the factory to survive and the corporate person has been sent there to evaluate and unbeknownst to them has been encouraged to find in favor of shutting it down.  
Reality TV:  Well, wel, well, *stretches*, Alexis Daria's Take the Lead series, Lyla Lee's I'll Be the One, Ryan La Sala's Be Dazzled.  There are more, but that should keep you busy.
Demigods: Bear with me because this is kind of a stretch. Olivia Dade's Spoiler Alert features an actor in a show based on The Aeneid. 
This Dating is Fake Isn't It:  Well since I already mentioned Jackie Lau and Tracey Livesay, let's add in Gloria Chao's Rent a Boyfriend, and Talia Hibbert's Take a Hint, Dani Brown
Cover has snow: Since I already mentioned Jackie Lau (who has several titles that meet this), let me mention Stacey Agdern's Miracles and Menorahs. 
Reporter:  Since I already mentioned Beverly Jenkins Wild Rain, let me also add Andie J. Christopher's Not the Girl You Marry, and also, I have Aloha to You that fits into this category.  
Holiday That is Not Christmas:  The Love All Year Anthology has got this covered.  
Scientific Pursuit:  Alyssa Cole's A Princess in Theory 
Protagonist smells like freshly baked bread: This requires a more thorough search, but I think baker romances are likely the best bet.  
Circus: Lucy Parker's Making Up
Graphic Novel: Tee Franklin's Bingo Love and S. W. Searle's Patience and Esther
Stable Romp: The Shadow Warrior by Ann Aguirre
Revenge Quest: Oh goodness, Beverly Jenkins' Wild Rain works here again too, but Emery Lee's Meet Cute Diary also has some internet stuff as the catalyst. 
Bodyguard: Piper J. Drake's Safeguard series is a great choice here.  
Tattoos:  Roan Parrish's Small Change and Alisha Rai's Wrong to Need You are great choices here. 
Wardrobe Malfunction: Sarah Morgan's Ripped works for this.  


Thursday, June 03, 2021

Three Interesting Things

1. Jemele Hill gave a good overview of both Osaka's recent tournament withdrawal in tennis, and other athletes that have tried to protect themselves so that they can play at their best.  
2. There is an auction running to raise money for the Middle East Children's Alliance and the Palestine Children's Relief fund. Some great items for both readers and writers.  
3. I honestly have so many questions about this invisible sculpture than an artist sold. Like are invisible sculpture's harder or easier to sculpt? Did you sometimes forget where it was and trip over it?  How hard is transporting an invisible sculpture without damaging it?  This piece answers none of these questions, but the wondering is fun.   

Tuesday, June 01, 2021

Setting Boundaries

I am at best a dabbler when it comes to paying attention to women's tennis. But I think whatever happens going forward with tennis, the current events with Naomi Osaka are worth talking about.
I want to say that while I'm about to share many, many thoughts and opinions, Osaka's choices are hers and hers alone. And the pro tennis circuit is of course balancing many competing priorities as well. 
So, for those who don't know, Naomi Osaka announced ahead of the upcoming tournament that post-game press was honestly not helpful to her mental health during a tournament and as such she had decided to pay the fine for not doing it.  Much hubbub ensued, including a now deleted tweet where the tournament itself implied she wasn't living up to her obligations.  And so now she has stated that hey, she was not trying to be a tournament distraction, and she was not trying to say all journalists suck, and she was not trying to trivialize mental health, and instead she was simply going to withdraw from the tournament. 
So, let's discuss. 
One could argue that press is just a natural part of the business of many things. I know that's an argument I have sometimes made myself. 
The thing is, it's honestly tiring. Not all of it of course. But I personally get bored of watching players who won demure over how lucky they were, players who lost try to explain that physics were not on their side, and so on. Sure, there are occasional moments of interest. But they are few and far between. And honestly this is why podcasts and other longform things that have the time and space to go deeper are often more interesting. 
So let's talk about another reality. These interviews are easier for men. They are easier for white men especially. And they are easier for folks with little to no mental health issues. And they are easier when it's not a pandemic, but that's true of almost anything. 
I'm not saying they are easy for anyone or even anyone male and white and without mental health issues. But any cursory look at sports press shows that male athletes get asked about technique and female athletes get asked about feelings. It's not the same. 
And if you are part of any group that is underrepresented in professional sports, you get asked about that too. And if you admit to mental health concerns, you get asked about that also. It's a lot. 
I haven't done the math on the fines to see if winning makes not doing press worth it. I suspect because the circuit requires a certain amount of tournament participation to maintain your ranking, it might be worth it if you have enough endorsements. 
And of course, I don't begrudge anyone who says it's worth it for my mental health. 
Osaka is coming into this choice with a lot of privilege. But I feel like some folks are focusing on that, and not on the idea that she, as a champion, is saying, hey here's a thing in place that makes this job exceedingly hard. Have we considered changing it? And honestly, that's what we want, right? For people to work their way up a ladder and say, okay, I have some thoughts on making things better. 
I hope the tennis circuit is able to really listen even if no press at all is not a stance they are willing to accept.
The world is changing. Athletes all have social media and are able to communicate with viewers and fans directly if they choose. Obviously that option is also not equally safe for everyone's mental health. But it exists. 
And I hope tennis and the press consider that. 
I think the best thing we can do when presented with a boundary someone is trying to set for their own welfare is consider how best it can be accommodated. I would rather watch Osaka play tennis than not. So I hope those aren't the only choices. 

Saturday, May 29, 2021

In the Public Eye - #RomBkLove

One of the things that fascinates me as the internet and other forms of social media create new ways for a person to be a public figure, is the many ways that fiction has begun to reflect that. There's a song about how everyone in a small town is famous. Right now we have celebrities, people who are famous on just one app, and well everything in between.

In thinking about this, it occurred to me my initial fascination with this was a book I read as a teen - Ellen Emerson White's White House Autumn. It was the sequel to The President's Daughter, the title of which is a spoiler. But we follow Meg as she has to move to DC and attend school where now her mom is president, and she has secret service agents, and how do you even date when you have a secret service agent?

Those books appear to be only available in kindle form these days. But there are still plenty of stories about falling in love and also navigating being a public persona.

Meow Or Never by Jazz Taylor - Bookshop link Now this is a middle grade and you might be like Tara, we are talking romance, but trust me, Avery has a huge crush and also some social anxiety which means she has barely been able to talk to Nic her crush. But Avery discovers a cat in the closet at school and sings to it, and now Nic wants Avery to audition for the school play. Exactly as cute and angsty as you might imagine.
Content notes: Depiction of panic attacks, references to off page child abuse.

Be Dazzled by Ryan La Sala - Bookshop link. Raffy has a streaming channel where he details his cosplay work. So now he's entered a huge cosplay competition, and it looks like his ex-boyfriend has teamed up with his main competition.
Content notes: Depiction of panic attacks, some parental biphobia, and manipulative parenting

I'll Be the One by Lyla Lee - Bookshop link - Skye is entering a K-Pop reality show taking place in the US. She's fat, and she knows she'll have to extra wow the judges (and her mom) to convince folks she should win and she will not be distracted by a very cute boy. Who is maybe also kinda famous.
Content notes: fatphobia directed at main character, some depiction of social media abuse.

Now That I've Found You by Kristina Forest - Bookshop link - Evie was set to break out and be the next big star in her family like her grandmother, until an ex-friend posts an embarrassing video on social media. Evie has a plan to get back into Hollywood's good graces, she just needs the help of her now reclusive grandmother. Except that not long after she arrives, her grandmother disappears. Now she needs the help of the very annoying even if he is maybe cute Milo. The Love Study by Kris Ripper - Bookshop link - Declan agrees to go on Sydney's You Tube advice show to get dating advice. Except that, eventually, it becomes pretty clear that Declan really wants to date Sydney.
Content notes: Depiction of panic attacks. (Yes, I am realizing I have a second theme here.)

Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner - Bookshop link - A showrunner and her assistant make a bit of a splash when pictures of them looking cozy on the red carpet make them look like a couple. They aren't of course. But maybe they wish they were?
Content notes: Depictions of workplace sexual harassment, discussions of racism in Hollywood.

Quick note, if musicians are your fave fictional public people (a totally valid choice) - you may want to go check out the Day 13 post for #RomBkLove Now I had to hold myself back from flooding this list with more. What are your favorite falling in love when everybody is looking at you stories?

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Three Interesting Things

1. This oral history of "A Different World" was a nice peek into their memories of being on the show. 
2. This piece on learning to ride a bike in Jerusalem was a look into life as a Palestinian.  
3.  My very biased note is that there is a scuba mystery being serialized over on this blog.  Biased because I am related to this person. Only one chapter up so far, but you can get a sense if this story mood is for you.  

Monday, May 24, 2021

Defend Yourself's Bystander Intervention Training

I took another bystander Intervention course.  I know, I get a little excited.  This one was through the Defend Yourself.  It was two hours and was designed to be very interactive with story sharing, breakout rooms, and such.  
As such, I feel like comparing it to the Hollaback ones (both the one with AAJC and others) is somewhat unfair.  While the Hollaback ones have some polls and chats, this was more interactive.  As such, the group dynamics are going to play in to your experience of the course a little bit more, ie it won't ever really be the same course twice.  
Because Hollaback focuses on street and bar harassment in their core mission, they are approaching a lot of this as what happens if you are out and see two strangers interacting.  
Defend Yourself works a lot on empowered self-defense, so there was an emphasis on using body language and stance, to think about the physicality of the situation.  
Overall the basics of bystander interventions remain the same, but in all cases, the opportunity to think through strategies, share past strategies, and to even practice saying things like, "Oh no, that's not acceptable" can help.  
The class was free, although donations were accepted.  

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Three Interesting Things

1. This piece on the echochamber of pandemic grief, spoke wonderfully about how both the changed rituals of grief in these times and and how for some there is the disconnection of differing ways to navigating a pandemic. 
2. This piece on breaking up with and re-examining childhood reads was thoughtful.  (WaPo link so, may be paywalled.) 
3. This piece on baseball as a lifeline for a former hostage was fascinating. 

Monday, May 17, 2021

What Hidden Object Games Have Taught Me

So I will go on a kick for video games.  I should clarify, that I play games on my phone, so they are all phone games.  I did collection games like Neko Atsume.  I did time management games like Sally's Salon.  I did - uh - chapter games like chapters.  My usual pattern is that I will get very obsessed and then one day I am done and I stop.  Or I finish it but like none of the sequels as much.  
My current kick is hidden objects games.  I started with Hidden Objects: Cat Detective Agency.  It is very clearly marked as in development, so yes, I have now found all the cats and just replay the levels waiting for them to make more.  
And then I found Pearl's Peril and June's Journey.  And I discovered several things.  At first, because I am stubborn and cheap, I waited for the energy to refresh and which is why I started playing two.  Except of course, eventually you have so many fake rooms in your head it takes longer to complete each level because wait, was the fan in this corner or that corner.  You have to decide if acing each level as you hit it makes more sense than the fun of progressing forward.  You have to decide if you are building a cute, well designed island or just plinking down building to get the points you need to get to other levels.  
I also discovered my scores were better at certain times of day.  Not just because eventually you get tired enough that thigns make very little sense.  But also because at peak sunshine streaming in the window time, I just can't see the screen well enough to be as thorough. You are encouraged to join teams, like the page on social media, and do various other things to get more energy, more points, and more chances.  I have chosen to do some and not other of these things.
As often happens to me deep in the throes of a new thing, I discovered I walked around and looked up, and in corners, at the edges of things, because my eyes were now trained to seek new things out.  I looked behind people in video chats, carefully scanning their background.  (Okay, technically I have always done this if people sat in front of a bookshelf.  
Right now I still love it, although my love has returned to normal levels where I also remember to read, and do other things with my eyes.  
But the other thing I learned or was reminded of was the learning process itself.  Now this differs for different people, but for me, going carefully works better than going fast.  These games have a time component and a hint option.  It's easier to go fast when stuck by getting a hint.  But getting a hint often meant I forgot where the thing was the next time I had to find it.  So I was better off finding it myself and sacrificing the short term time gain for the long term memory.  
This is something I have found true in real life too. I am terrible at asking for help with tasks.  But often when I did, I also didn't retain the process. I was better off getting someone who would lead me through than having them demo and me watch.  So what had seemed like an I have to do it myself flaw, was actually an innate understanding of my own learning process that I needed to figure out how to better communicate to others, so I could get the best kind of help for myself.  
Also, nothing will teach how weird the English language is than being asked to find a bat and not knowing if you are looking for a long skinny sports thing or a winged thing.  

Friday, May 14, 2021

LTAFS Wraps Up

In the last post for Let's Talk About Fictional Sex, we had the Question Box.  
And the ebook version of the series is now available.
If you found this newsletter entry before the others, here's the info: Let's Talk About Fictional Sex: Writing Sex Scenes That Deepen Character Sex scenes provide authors an opportunity to explore their characters more deeply. (Pun intended!) Fiction is not a how-to manual, but sex scenes are about more than how much description the author dedicates to the act. The choices characters make, from communication to contraception, are an often underutilized way to demonstrate your character's experiences and expectations of both the world and their relationship expectations. In this series, we'll take a look at some of the basics of how the choices characters make regarding reveal their character. Started as a newsletter series, but expanded into ebook form. Universal link here: 
Newsletter posts will return to every other week for a while.  It was a fun run though.  

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Three Interesting Things

1. #RomBlLove has started and today's theme of musicians is a particular reading fave of mine.  (Spoiler, I may be making my participation a little more official this year.) 
2. I read Carmen Maria Machado's In the Dream House, and found it at times lyrical, at times educational, but one thing it isn't is sexy.  It's a book that is honest about how the things we want and love are also sometimes not healthy for us, for sure. But it is unequivocally a book about an abusive relationship.  Machado writes about how the message that relationships that are great at times can also be awful is important for teens, and that keeping the book away from high schoolers won't save them from learning that dildos exist. 
3. As a fan of tricolor cats in all their variations, I was fascinated to discover that calico lobsters exist.  Spoiler: Freckles does not get eaten. 

Monday, May 10, 2021

The Celebrations and the Sadness

I've been holding off writing this post.  It is seemingly ridiculous for a thing I have had to convey by phone and text and email to feel any more or less real because it shows up on the blog, but somehow it does.  
My mother died last week.  It was also Mother's Day last week.  And also my great aunt's 100th birthday, which thanks to some access to vaccinations, meant her kids were able to travel to be with her safely.  
My mother did not want to be treated like a person who was sick, and so she carried on, happy to talk about books and other highly entertaining things that were not the boring details of being sick.  It did mean that convincing her there was a deadly pandemic was a bit of a challenge.  I was incredibly grateful that the state of Connecticut happened to be trying to engage in a decent number of sensible precautions, because it turns out being an adult child does not mean your parents have to listen to you the way they listen to other adults. (I know, this is a shocking turn of events.)  
But yes, I have been telling folks for about a year that grieving in a pandemic is a challenge, and that continues to be true.  I am lucky enough that I am considered fully vaccinated now, so travel is and will be possible for me, but not yet all the folks who loved her.  It is also fortunate that live streaming and other virtual methodologies have become more common, so that I get to video chat with friends and relatives near and far, centenarians, and other lovely people.  
I have been thinking a lot about this story of our trip to the wall.  Mostly because I think it encapsulates some of the work my mother put into creating great experiences for those around her, even when the experiences did not quite live up to her dreams, she still worked to make the best of it.  

Friday, May 07, 2021


The next two posts for Let's Talk About Fictional Sex are up: 
And for an entirely different topic, I was back on the Let's Go Steal a Podcast to talk about the pentultimate episode of the original run of "Leverage" - "The Toy Job".  

Thursday, May 06, 2021

Three Interesting Things

1. I confess I find this unravelling of the man behind the Catch Me If You Can book (later "Oprah" appearances, movie, musical, and so on) fascinating in part because I found the book so unbearably smug, and of course in retrospect should have suspected it was that thing when you are trapped at an event with the person who keeps trying to impress you with unbelievable stories.  I am so sorry to the folks he harmed. 
2. Jenn at Reapprorpiate wrote a thougthful piece about the continued value of AAPI Heritage Month - aka May - and also her changing relationship with it.  
3. Audie Cornish of NPR's Office Hours piece with Elle has many lovely tidbits, including thinking about negotiationg for more than just pay. 

Monday, May 03, 2021

Some Notes About Awards

I made the decision last year to renew my membership in RWA last March when it came up for renewal because I had made commitments to the two chapters I was a member of.  They would have survived if I had left, but I decided to see them through, although I did think long and hard about what it would take for me to leave.  
I had a couple of thoughts about what would happen after. 
completed the board service role I was in, and notified my other chapter that I was going to step down as contest chair.  And I confess, based on the proposed award schedule, I realized that if I stayed as a member, I would be up for renewal right around the time they announced the new award nominees and would be in a position to say something if something needed to be said.  
It's a fair assumption that the pandemic has meant the idea of not paying for three (one national and two chapter) memberships didn't hurt my decision.  Overall, while I haven't agreed with every step the board has taken over the past year, I think they are doing things to make sure that RWA is still around for folks for more than just the next year, and that requires decisions not everyone is going to like.  They have also worked to implement several programs that I think are useful and interesting to new and mid-career writers.  
So, lots of lead up to say, that the finalists were announced.  There are some great books on that list.  And there is at least one about a protagonist who participated in a genocide finding love.  
Full disclosure, I have already shared my thoughts, in far more detail, than I will here, with the RWA board.  I am aware that the way the RWA awards are set up means that the rules cannot be altered or changed until the award cycle completed.  So I sent my thoughts so that I could be on record ahead of my membership lapsing, but am aware that this is something they cannot discuss until July.  (Do I think that in and of itself creates problems for RWA? Yes, I do.)  
I am aware that racism and bigotry exist in our larger society and RWA cannot fix this.  It is not RWA's job to fix this.  However, it is my personal opinion that the current awards process requires an incredible amount of free labor from members and other volunteers.  I heard from participants this year that they got eight books to read.  I read eight books and have read eight books in a similar time period, but reading eight books for a deadline is different.  Reading eight books you didn't select for yourself is different.  It's a lot.  
The current setup has three rounds - and initial round where only a partial is read, and the second and third rounds where the full book is read.  
Having run a contest I can also tell you that there's a lot of work that goes into finding people to read for all your rounds, gathering up all the documents, figuring out how to assign them so that everyone gets read by people in the correct categories, to say nothing of the person who inevitably tells you after all the assignments are sent out that they don't want to read X, and now you have to find backup judges.  
Other organizations use either a small committee that commits to a ton of reading to create their initial finalist list, or a voting submission process.  These options are not equal amounts of work, but they allocate the work differently.  
Because let's be really honest here, the current process is a lot of work, and it is not providing RWA with a better quality of finalist than other methodologies.  We have basically proven that many, many, times now.  I love some books that have been nominated this year.  I love some books that were nominated under the prior but not distinctly different process and even some that won.  I am not saying that some of the finalists and winners over the years aren't great books.  
But here's what I also know to have finaled and in some cases have won: 
-A book with a Nazi protagonist
-A book where one protagonist dies at the end.  (Not to be confused with undead.)
-A book with a protagonist who helped slaughter native Americans
I'm sure there's more to it than that.  I certainly haven't read every nominee.  
I love awards ceremonies.  It's really fun to watch people dress up and take home shiny statues.  Writing is a hard and often solitary job, and finding a moment of recognition in it is amazing.  
But RWA cannot take credit for the good books that are nominated, and ignore the problematic books that are nominated.  I know it's easy to critique other's work.  I know the board won't get to really dive in on this until July and I don't envy them that task.  But right now this process requires a lot of labor, and isn't really getting us to better results. So I hope they take the opportunity to make bold change with it.  

Friday, April 30, 2021

LTAFS 16 and 17

This week in Let's Talk About Fictional Sex we have: Ableism and Sex Sex and Mood Altering Substances

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Three Interesting Things

1. I had very mixed feelings about the Oscars being held in person with no options for participants who felt unsafe traveling right now, but the City Paper reached out to the musicians behind "Da Butt" which Glenn Close brought to renewed attention during a movie trivia bit, and well, hyping up local music always makes me happy. 
2. It looks like the home where Harriet Tubman grew up has been unearthed on the Eastern Shore. 
3. You may have seen the story of Prancer a chihuahua with a special personality.  Well, he has found a home with an owner who understands how to work with such a special dog. 

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

A Note About Comments

He folks, my comment section has never been all that active, but laltely it's been beseiged by spam comments. (If we understand beseiged means one or two a week.) Moderation is on, so they are getting tagged as spam for me to delete, but it's seeming a silly use of my time at this point. If you are a real person, not a bot who wants to tell me I'm pretty and then link to your questionable sire, feel free to use the contact form or find me on social media or what have you.

Monday, April 26, 2021

When the Rep Sweats Get You

Code Switch talked about rep(resentation) sweats, the idea that you are so excited to see yourself reflected in media, when that doesn't happen enough, and how that can come with a feeling of please let it be good.  When your community is often overlooked by mainstream media, the parts that make it through have outsized importance - for the pitches by other people trying to tell stories like that get to make, the doors that open a little more easily for them, but also for people not from that culture.  If you are a part of an underrepresented culture, someone has likely told you a thing is true about your culture because of a book, movie, or TV show.  
I saw Disney was working on something about Hawaiians and went eek, I hope it's good because I still remember the Johnny Tsumani movie.  (Yes, I know - "Lilo and Stitch",  And well, I've shared how "Moana" is not really Hawaiian before, I love it, but it isn't intended to be Hawaiian.)  
This is a very long lead up to say I had been very excited for a YA book that was scheduled for 2022, because it was written by someone who is part Hawaiian, who grew up in Hawai'i, and I can still use very few fingers to count YA by or about Hawaiians.  I had put together a list of Hawaiian authors that I was excited to point to.  Because any time someone does something no one has seen a lot of, people try to dub them the first.  And while there are not enough, not yet, not for many books more, just like Black Panther wasn't the first Black superhero movie, this wasn't going to be the first Hawaiian YA.  But it was going to be another one.  And every one we get helps us build a tower so the people who need these books can find them.  
And then that author went on a social media rant.  They've deleted now.  I hope they are taking this time to reflect.  I hope they and their team make sure none of this biphobia and hatred made it into their book.  
But it made me sad.  Representation isn't the be all and and end all.  But I wish for more of us at the table, so that as any of us screw up or need to take more time to learn and grow, it wasn't such a percentage of the representation we have.  I'm sorry for all the people who have already decided that they definitely can't read this book now.  Sorry because there is something so sad about having something you were excited about turn into something you have to read with care for fear of the barbed wire traps within.