Saturday, February 11, 2017

Where you at, funky cat?

Hi.

It's been a while, my friend.

It's been hard to think about blogging about writing when every day since November 9, 2016 has been another round of "holy hell, what now?" I haven't gone away from writing. No, my resolve to use writing as resistance has been strengthened by a world that's eased the way for white male supremacy to show it's true face to those too complacent (and complicit) to think this hasn't been on the cards for decades. I've been writing angry, I've been writing steadily.

I do admit I have been complacent in my understanding of where this would all go. I had thought the next decades of my life would be dedicated to extending, improving, negotiating the nuance of feminist/activist SFF, and progressivism as a whole. But here we are, clawing it back, holding on to what we thought was safe. And that was my privilege showing it's ass to me, and telling me GURL, you got some reading and self-examination to do.

There is still plenty of room for discussion of nuance in this though. It's wonderful to be surrounded by a support network of people who will not back down, or let you give up hope. We'll fight for decency and equity for everyone, and punch a few Nazis on the way. We've come too far to only come this far.

As for the writing bit, I've made changes to my routine and my mindset. Gaming was dragging my attention and time down - New Year's Resolution, it's gone. It's been hard going cold turkey, but it had to be done. It's also given me a lot more time for reading, and while resettling my concentration and focus has also been hard, it's doing wonders for my mental space. I don't and won't talk about exercise because of my body issues and fat activism, but I just want to say though there have been some terribly hard days mentally, I'm finding new ways to deal with it.

See, writing isn't just about putting the words down on the page. It's about making sure your mind and body can handle the journey too. Arting is hard, yo, especially in these troubled times.

The things coming up I can talk about:

  • I'm signed on for this year's New Zealand natcon, Lexicon. I'm already roped into a couple of panels, maybe more. I'll talk about those closer to the June con date. 
  • I'm going to Worldcon in Helsinki. Yooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! This trip is gonna be HUGE. Three weeks in Scandinavia, I'm going to see some of my Clarion buds, and wear a dashing suit to the Hugos. Look out puppies...
Things coming up I can't talk about:
  • I've sold a story, but I can't say where to yet, but soooooooon. It's one of my Bucket List venues so, progress!
  • I've been approached to contribute to an anthology, and I'm working on that story. Again, secret squirrel until it's all done and dusted. 
I'm pleased with my steady output of work since the year started. It'd be great for these angry (angrier than usual) and odd stories to find homes, so will be interesting to see what the year brings. It has been quieter on the sales front than previous years, but that's because I've been more discerning about where I'm sending my work, and truth be told I know my style isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea. I keep a certain mantra in mind: "Joanna and Tip wrote what they damn well felt like, and they got the recognition they deserve". Maybe it'll take longer than I anticipated to hit the sweet spot, years perhaps. But hell, if I'm not writing then I'm dead. 

Continuing on, dragons and unicorns.






Thursday, December 8, 2016

2016 Awards Eligibility

2016 has been a quieter year story quantity wise, but I feel my writing quality has taken a big step forward.

If you feel compelled to nominate any of my stories (thank you) for local (the SJVs) or international consideration (Tiptrees, Nebulas, Hugos, hey, a girl can dream), then here are what I believe are my best works of the 2016 calendar year:

"An Atlas in Sgraffito Style", Shimmer Magazine, May 2016. A lovely-strange piece about cities colliding, merging, and eating themselves, and the women who try to hold them together through paint and riot. Still immensely proud of this story.

"Splintr" At The Edge, edited by Lee Murray and Dan Rabarts, Paper Road Press, June 2016. Another weird piece, all sharp edges and strange prose. Aliens evacuate a doomed Earth, leaving one person behind. Are the multiple narratives part of a fracturing personality under pressure, or is the strange apocalypse doing something to time on the quantum level?

"Shadow Cat's Apprentice, and the Wanderer's Almanac to Biliousness in All Its Forms" Andromeda Spaceways, Issue 64 September 2016. A fun story, the prequel to "Long's Confandabulous Circus" in ASM last year. Cats, magic, sewers, sinister shadow assassins, oh my.

Thanks for coming along on the ride this year.

Bow Tie Kitteh Got Game






Thursday, November 10, 2016

I Will Stand With You

To my trans, non-binary, and genderqueer friends
To my LGBQ friends
To my African-American friends
To my Muslim friends
To my Latinx friends
To my disabled friends
To my poor friends
To women of colour
To women

To my friends.

I will stand with you. I will fight with you. I will fight for you. Even if my comfort and my words are the only revolution I have to offer, I will keep writing the stories that need to be told.

I will stand with you.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Andromeda Spaceways presents: "Shadow Cat's Apprentice, and the Wanderer's Almanac to Biliousness In All Its Forms"

Cover of Andromeda Spaceways Issue 64:
A white lady with long red hair and a fox tail
is framed by octopus tentacles
It's a return to my steampunky, airshippy, alt-universe River City this month in Andromeda Spaceways Magazine issue 64, with "Shadow Cat's Apprentice, and the Wanderer's Almanac to Biliousness In All Its Forms".

Yeah, that story title is just as long and ridiculous as "Long's Confandabulous Clockwork Carnival and Circus, and Cats of Many Persuasions", but part of the fun of River City is poking a stick at overwrought steampunk titles.

"Shadow Cat's Apprentice" steps back a decade or so to before Chifwe met Ba Luen and was deciding where best her talents lay. The Aito-wel house is famous in River City for their precise and mindful approach to waste reclamation, and after a few false starts Chifwe has decided she wants in on the family business. But it's not an easy apprenticeship - aside from the physicality of the job, she didn't reckon with the nausea that came with the everyday stench. Then there's the strange figure following her through the Shadow Highway of the city rooftops...

"Shadow Cat's Apprentice" is the third story in the River City universe. I have plans to do more, and possibly put together a collection of the linked stories.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Word Christchurch: Reading, Pecha Kucha, Inspiration, and Being Me in Public

"Feeeeemales" - From my Pecha Kucha speech
(Credit: Official Word Photographer)
This past weekend, the Word Christchurch Readers and Writer's Festival gripped the central city in a somewhat laid back fever.

Three and a bit days of events had people wandering between the beautiful new event centre The Piano on Armagh Street, The Isaac Theatre Royal on Gloucester, the Christchurch Art Gallery on Montreal, and various bars, restaurants, and cafes spread from New Regent Street down to High Street. The splintered effect of Christchurch's post-earthquake arts scene has meant an eclectic and creative approach to venues. For me, I felt like I was reconnecting with some parts of the city I hadn't touched base with in a very long time, and discovering the delights of newly made areas.

And that was just the outside of the event, the skin. The flesh and bones of Word was a meaty delight of diversity. Academia stood shoulder to shoulder with entertainment, slam poetry next to discussions of immigration, comedy side by side with the death industry, unscripted hilarity next to carefully considered documentations of the human condition. Programme co-ordinator Rachael King did a fabulous job of bringing together so many threads, so many different people and ideas, the central city was fair buzzing with electric ideas.

Channelling the Harold Finch look as I read "Gravity Well"
at the Pop Up Reading Festival
(Credit: Official Word Photographer)
My involvement with Word was slightly tangential, but wove into the fabric of the weekend beautifully. I did two short readings at the New Regent Street Pop Up Reading Festival early Thursday evening to small but appreciative audiences, so thanks to those who turned up to listen. And after much blood, sweat, and fears, I delivered my Pecha Kucha "Mary Sue vs The Strong Female Character" (audio set to the slides at link) to an appreciative and kind audience. My speech was made so worthwhile by the kind feedback I got all weekend, including comments on my rainbow bow tie, and one audience member who said he brought his 15 year old film-making aspiring kid to get an introduction to feminism in pop culture. Yeah, that's what it's about *fist pump*.

The whole Pecha Kucha evening was a strong line up of interests and talent following the thread of the literary weekend. I especially enjoyed Sophie Rea's PK on "The Links Between Poetry and Youth Work", and I was pleased to make Sophie's acquaintance. The weekend was super busy so we didn't get to talk as much as I would have liked, but a hilarious problem kept springing up - Sophie kept getting mistaken for me and Ivan Coyote, and I got mistaken for Sophie. The three of us eventually got a picture together to prove that three butches can exist in the same place and moment in time without the universe exploding. Well, the room did explode, but in a good way. Because Sophie and Ivan are awesome.

The Butch Trifecta: Ivan E. Coyote, me, local poet Sophie Rea
Ivan E. Coyote. What a performer. A storyteller, poet, author, incredible observer of the human condition, and someone I admire deeply. I attended three events where Ivan performed, and had the chance to talk to them briefly (next time you're in town I'm buying you a drink, Ivan). What was said remains between us, but nevertheless it's renewed my inspiration and filled a large place in my soul. I feel empowered to explore my skills of observation and leave everything I can upon the page. It's never too late, you're never too old, to explore identity and push back against your space in the world.

The rest of my Word experience included events on immigration, living across cultures, sexuality in YA fiction, feminism in pop culture, literary and slam poetry (a new experience for me), the state of new journalism and satire in New Zealand, New Zealand women's history, sex work, and a pop culture comedy panel. Phew! What a weekend. My brain is absolutely stuffed full.

All in all, an incredible weekend for the local and national literary scene. A big thanks to Rachael King for taking an interest in this local literary minnow when she was dealing with dozens of incredible people, recommending me to Netta Egoz of Pecha Kucha Christchurch, and Sionainn Byrnes who organized the Pop Up Reading Festival. Thanks again Netta and Sionainn, I had the best time at both events and would love to do something more with you.

Here's to a fab Word 2018!


Monday, August 8, 2016

Pecha Kucha and Pop Up Readings at Word Christchurch

Sooooo, word about my Au Contraire speech got around. That makes me feel pleased and weird.

While I was too late to be put into any panel/programming for Word Christchurch, August 24-28, I was asked if I'd like to be involved in the Pecha Kucha event and Pop Up Reading Festival. Sure thing! Sounds like fun!

Pecha Kucha is a modern format of short speeches, like teeny tiny TED talks. Each speaker has 6 minutes 40 seconds and 20 slides to deliver their topic, and gives the audience exposure to a wide variety of topics in one event.

The Word Christchurch Pecha Kucha night is on Thursday 25 August, from 8.20pm at the (newly built!) Piano. Tickets are $16 each. My topic is entitled "Mary Sue vs The Strong Female Character" and will be a version of my feminist SFF speech from this year's natcon.

Earlier in the evening, I'll be taking part in the New Regent Street Pop-Up Reading Festival. A variety of authors will be reading their work, and I'll be part of the SFF contingent doing two readings apiece. This is free to attend, just grab a drink and sit down at one of the cool New Regent streets bars or restaurants to enjoy. It'll be a very intimate atmosphere.

Aside from the events I'm taking part in, I'm really excited for the entire Word festival. There are some authors and events I'm really looking forward to, like storyteller Ivan E. Coyote, and "Herstory" with Barbara Brookes the author of the fabulous "A History of New Zealand Women" that came out this year.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Around and About

A few things going on around the Pickledverse which have come about on the heels of my well received GoH speech at Au Contraire.

First, I was invited to blog at the New Zealand Book Council website Booknotes Unbound. I chose "Ten Fab Modern Feminist Speculative Fiction Books", featuring Tina Makareti, Jim C. Hines, N.K. Jemisin, Catherynne M. Valente, Lethe Press' "Beyond Binary, Nnedi Okorafor, Karen Healey, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Ann Leckie, and AK Press' "Octavia's Brood".

Second, while I was too late to be integrated into any panels at Word Christchurch, I've been invited to do a version of my speech at the fringe Pecha Kucha night on Thursday August 26. Tickets are $16. I'm also looking forward to attending events at Word. It's a superb programme the team have put together for this year.

Third, a segment of the Gender Diversity and Sexuality panel I was part of at Au Contraire has been podcast through Access Radio Wellington. It is available on the second half of the June 19 Writer's Island 'cast.

Thanks to Steph Soper at NZ Book Council, Rachel King at Word Christchurch, and Netta Egoz at Pecha Kucha Christchurch for your support.