Swan Tower

Oct. 10th, 2014

10:00 am - two Kickstarters

These both came to my attention recently, and deserve a signal boost:

Daughters of Mercury — this is an art project, creating portraits of trans women “how they want to be represented, either complicating the conventional portraitist’s art of flattery with the dynamics of gender dysphoria, or celebrating features stigmatized as masculine as a woman’s features.” I know the woman behind the project, and I also know an increasing number of trans women (one of whom brought the campaign to my attention), so there’s a personal weight to this one: I’ve been thinking a lot lately about gender identity, passing or choosing not to pass, etc, and there aren’t any simple answers. But we can accept trans women for who and what they are, and I think projects like this one are part of how we can do that.

Not Our Kind — this is an anthology built around the theme of “outsiders.” Not only does a friend of mine (Marissa Lingen) have a story in it, along with several acquaintances of mine, but the topic sounds pretty dang appealing. I’m pretty sure I’m going to love the heck out of it . . . but first it needs to be funded, so.

Go forth! Support!

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

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Aug. 8th, 2014

12:06 pm - Hear ye, hear ye! (Also see, maybe buy)

For the Driftwood fans out there (I know there are more than a few of you), Wilson Fowlie has read “The Ascent of Unreason” for Podcastle. If you missed it when BCS podcasted it, or when they published the text version, head on over and give it a listen!

Also, in the “good causes” category of links: Pat Rothfuss, the brain behind the Worldbuilders fundraising charity for Heifer International, has decided he isn’t pouring enough time and effort into benefiting the world, so he’s expanded his enterprise into selling signed first editions from authors who wish to donate a few. I think I sent in ten copies of The Tropic of Serpents; no idea how many are left, but (as of me posting this) there’s at least one. The money goes to charity, so if you want a book and the warm glow of knowing you’ve done something good, this is a splendid chance to get both at once.

(I don’t have five things to make a post, but I do have this: another shout-out for A Natural History of Dragons over on io9, this time in the context of “10 Great Novels That Will Make You More Passionate About Science.” It’s a list that makes for some pretty interesting reading, I must say.)

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

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Jun. 4th, 2014

11:45 am - Under the Mango Tree

I’m slightly torn about posting this only because of Amazon’s recent bad behavior — if I could point you at a different retailer, I would. But this is a good cause in its own right, and I don’t want people to be reluctant to support it just because of Amazon.

Under the Mango Tree is a collection of folktales from Sierra Leone, assembled by a Peace Corps volunteer in the country. All profits from the book go to the students who wrote it, and to a scholarship fund for their education. Given the economic differences between the U.S. and Sierra Leone, roughly three book sales is enough to pay for a year of education for one child, meaning that every copy sold is rather more than just a drop in the bucket.

I’ve picked up a copy myself; in fact, I installed the Kindle app on my tablet just so I could do so. :-P I haven’t read it yet, but will certainly report in once that’s done.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

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May. 28th, 2014

05:24 pm - Official Member of the Insect Army

As of about ten minutes ago, I am (finally) a member of SFWA.

I’ve been eligible to join since 2004, when I sold my first novel. But back then I was a starving graduate student, for whom the membership fee was a non-trivial expense . . . and soon thereafter, SFWA began shooting itself very publicly and head-deskingly in the foot, not just once, but several times in a row. Its forums were legendary for their toxicity, the org as a whole was run by people who hadn’t been working professionals in the field for years, and while some may have had good intentions, SFWA was not doing a very effective job of coping with the realities of modern publishing. Why should I pay money I didn’t really have to call myself one of them? The answers people gave me basically fell into two categories: 1) “Griefcom and the EMF are good things and worth supporting!” and 2) “Join and be the change you want to see!” While I had no disagreement with #1 (the Grievance Committee advocates for authors in disputes with their publishers or agents, and the Emergency Medical Fund assists writers without health insurance), #2 got up my nose something fierce. Oh, yes, let me give you money for the privilege of trying to reform a group that shows no signs of wanting to reform. Where do I sign up?

But things got better. Actual working novelists and short story writers stepped up to run for election and, well, did what I wasn’t willing to do: dragged the org kicking and screaming toward a better future. Members who weren’t toxic layabouts raised their heads and went “oh, thank god, I’m not alone.” SFWA’s officers did yeoman work during the whole business with Night Shade’s ongoing implosion. Incidents that would have been allowed to slide ten years ago started to be called out.

It still isn’t perfect. SFWA has its share of dinosaurs and reactionaries, and they don’t always get rebuked as fast or as effectively as they should. But it’s improving, and then there was this thing, and I said to myself, “Self, I want to be one of those people Scalzi et al. brought in.” He isn’t president anymore, but the truth is that he and his cohort — people like Mary Robinette Kowal and Rachel Swirsky — are the ones who changed my thinking about SFWA. I actually meant to join after that happened . . . but I got busy, and I forgot. Fortunately (for suitably flexible values of “fortunately”), the sexist racist homophobic assholes of the speculative fiction field are the gift that keeps on giving. Two weeks ago, when John C. Wright was spreading his revisionist history around the web and various people were debunking him as he deserved, I got off my posterior and joined.

So there you have it: I am officially a member of the Insect Army — which is to say, SFWA, The 21st Century Edition. I will try to use my newfound powers for good.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

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Apr. 21st, 2014

10:00 am - post roundup

Things I’ve been saying in different places ’round the interwebz . . . .

“Seeing the Invisible” — this month’s post at SFNovelists is a review of Invisible, the ebook collection Jim Hines put together of guest posts and additional essays on the topic of representation. Proceeds from sales go to charity.

“The Gospel of Combat” — an excerpt from Writing Fight Scenes, which will be familiar to long-time readers of this blog. You can comment there for a chance to get a free copy of the ebook, though!

Interview at My Bookish Ways — in which I talk about a variety of things.

“The Dreaded Label ‘Mary Sue’” — guest post at Far Beyond Reality, talking about female characters who don’t apologize for their awesomeness.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

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Feb. 19th, 2014

01:02 am - Two reminders

1) You have until the end of the month to write a letter to Lady Trent (and get one back)!

2) You also have until next Sunday to bid on these ARCs for Con or Bust. We’re up to $70 for the pair; remember the money goes to a very good cause!

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

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Feb. 10th, 2014

02:12 pm - Month of Letters; Con or Bust

Just a reminder that the Month of Letters is ongoing. If you want to get a letter from Lady Trent, now’s your chance!

Also, my Con or Bust auction is now live. On offer: a signed pair of ARCs for A Natural History of Dragons and The Tropic of Serpents. Bidding currently stands at $45. Remember that this is a charity effort organized under the auspices of the Carl Brandon Society, “a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization whose mission is to increase racial and ethnic diversity in the production of and audience for speculative fiction.” Con or Bust helps fans of color attend cons they might not otherwise be able to afford.

If you need me for anything, I’ll be buried under this rock, revising the next book. :-P

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

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Feb. 5th, 2014

12:14 pm - Mad Maudlin goes on dirty toes / For to save her shoes from gravel

“Mad Maudlin” is live on Tor.com! And the artwork for it is as beautiful as it was the first time I saw it. :-)

You know what else is live? This audio excerpt from The Tropic of Serpents. There is also a sweepstakes, if you want to win a copy of the book.

Also live: a Con or Bust auction with a pair of ARCs up for grabs. It’s your chance to get signed copies of both A Natural History of Dragons and The Tropic of Serpents, while benefiting a good cause!

Not live yet: the Kirkus review. I think that goes up tomorrow.

Live and ongoing: Letters from Lady Trent. Write! Receive! Don’t make me walk aaaaaaaaall the way to the post office for nothing! (It’s a whole ten minutes away. I could die of exhaustion, y’all. But finding letters gives me the strength to soldier on.)

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

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Jan. 30th, 2014

12:01 pm - Jay Lake and a chance to fund SCIENCE!!!

(This failed to crosspost as it should, so you get a manual crosspost while I work it out.)

As a goodly percentage of you probably know, author Jay Lake has cancer. He's had cancer for years now, going through round after round of chemo and surgery in an attempt to halt it; they've managed to slow it, but he's pretty close to terminal decline at this point.


Read this post. It's about Jay participating in a cutting-edge NIH trial that holds great promise for improving our methods of cancer treatment in the future. It will likely extend his own life at least a bit; it will certainly extend a great many other people's lives, and possibly even save some of them, as doctors put together superior tools for the task.

As Jay points out, the reason they're able to take such a good shot at it with him is because of a fundraiser his friends ran before, which pulled together enough money for Whole Genome Sequencing. That data means the doctors in this trial are incredibly well-armed. But the mass of data also means it will take longer to sort through, which means Jay will be in Maryland longer than expected. Since Maryland is not where he lives, this is expensive.

There's another fundraiser. It has already met its goal, but the goal was to cover the length of time Jay expected to be in Maryland. Which means it is no longer enough. There will be some stretch goals added soon, but you don't need to know what those will be to donate, do you? You already know the ultimate cause is a good one. You aren't funding the NIH, but you are funding Jay's ability to participate in the trial, which will help both him and them. So if you can spare anything, please head on over and do so.

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Nov. 25th, 2013

11:43 pm - two copies left

In the course of contacting people who had bid in the Philippines disaster relief auction, I realized that most of the mad rush had been for the ARCs of The Tropic of Serpents (surprise!), with only some going toward A Natural History of Dragons. There are two copies of that left; the asking price is $10, but thus far people have been paying $20 and up. It's a good cause, so I have no compunctions about using peer pressure to encourage you to donate more than the baseline. ^_^ (Really, I should have had the good sense to list them at $20 to start with. I just plugged in my usual "I'm looking to get rid of some of this stock" prices without thinking it through.)

So yes: two copies left. Signed and personalized, if you wish! And good causes. So go forth and bid.

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