June 2020 Book Update

“How’s the writing going?” Well… About that…

Guys. A lot has changed in the month and a half since I wrote my May update.

Something I first really noticed in November of 2016 is that current events have a significant impact on my ability to write. It takes me a great deal of time to contemplate and process everything that’s going on in the world. The most recent wave of Black Lives Matter protests has been no different.

Imposter syndrome (or the fraud police, to use Amanda Palmer’s fitting term) has been a friend to me these last few weeks. Who am I? Who am I to write a book? Who am I to follow my dreams and smash my goals when so many people in our country are unable to do the same because of systemic racism? Because they are dying?

But recently, my friend Elisabeth reminded me via a blog post she wrote for the San Francisco Writers Conference blog that the world needs my story. Yes, the world also needs the stories of Black authors, especially Black women, but that doesn’t mean it does not need mine. Just like saying “Black Lives Matter” doesn’t mean white lives don’t matter, amplifying Black authors’ stories doesn’t silence my own.

That said, I took a good look at the novel I’m writing and knew something was wrong. I had tended to avoid describing any of my characters’ physical characteristics in a stupid attempt to avoid whitewashing. What I didn’t realize is that by doing so, I had given them what Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward call in their book Writing the Other: A Practical Approach, an “unmarked state.” True, they weren’t completely unmarked, but their lack of race was enough to trick my brain into picturing them all as white. Because in our culture, in fantasy and science fiction especially, the default is white.

So these last couple of weeks, I’ve taken a break from writing. I’ve been reading and listening and thinking and journalling. I’ve been working through my own biases, prejudices, and “reptile brain.” I’ve been working through Writing the Other, doing all the exercises, and thinking hard about how to include more varied characters and what that looks like in the fantasy world I’m creating for my novel.

This book will not be perfect. Not after the current draft, not after revisions, and not after it is published. I will not portray all of the “others” in my book perfectly. I will not have the perfect balance of white people to people of color. I am not a perfect ally, and I never will be. But damn it, I can do the best I can. I can make mistakes and learn from them.

Once I’m done with Writing the Other (I’m about a third of the way through), I will return to my novel. I considered taking a longer pause and reading more books, recommended by the multitude, but I know that would be a method of procrastination for me. I will never know it all. I will never be perfect. I will continue to learn and grow as I write.

July is Camp NaNoWriMo. Let’s tell our stories.

A Peek at My Desk

Come take a peek at my “organized chaotic” desk!

I love seeing other people’s writing spaces, so I thought I would share mine with you this week! Forgive the horrendous pictures, for I live in a cave of an apartment and have no professional lighting.

I write and work my day job at my desk in our dining room. Until last August, I had a tiny desk that was just big enough to hold my laptop and maybe a small notebook, but while my husband and I were on our honeymoon, my mom got me this secretary desk! Yeah, it’s supposed to fold up to save space, but I always have my keyboard and mouse out.

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Outdoor Play and Faceless Videos

I don’t know if you can tell, but I’ve been struggling recently with what to do with this blog.

One social media calendar says this week I should post a “day in the life of an author” blog or vlog. Another says that today I should share someone or something I’m grateful for. Could I write a blog post on either of these things? Of course. Those are actually pretty easy prompts to work with.

The problem is that it feels forced. It’s not like I would lie or anything. I wouldn’t say I’m grateful for the nice weather we’re having when it’s really reminding me that in a month or two it’ll be over 100ºF on a daily basis. I wouldn’t write that I had such a great day or week writing when really I struggled. I still doesn’t feel natural or like me, though.

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May 2020 Book Update

The answer to “So how’s the book coming?”

Since stay-at-home orders were issued in my state, I have been both more and less productive in every aspect of life. I thought I’d take this opportunity to update you all on what I’m doing and planning for my writing life and career at this point.

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Fantasy & SciFi Novels I’m Excited to Read in 2020

Because of quarantine, I’ve been using my Kindle a lot, and I’m so excited to get these downloaded as soon as I can!

I know, I know. Four months of 2020 have already passed us by. However, I didn’t get a chance to make this list earlier in the year, so I’m making it now. The list is short because I’m a slow reader, but what is here promises to be gold. Because of quarantine, I’ve been using my Kindle a lot, and I’m so excited to get these downloaded as soon as I can!

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Food, Revisited

I’ve always been confused about food. What is there to be confused about? You buy it, you cook it, you eat it, and your body is fueled. Do basically that process three times a day, and you’ll be healthy, right? Wrong.

I’m not sure if I can blame the melting pot of American culture for the loss of my ancestors’ European food traditions or if I should blame post-war food manufacturers and their marketing teams. Perhaps western diet culture and Hollywood are to blame for my confusion, not just directly, but indirectly through my mother and grandmother. Maybe I can blame Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network for allowing the emotionally manipulative advertisement of junk food when I was a child. Or perhaps it is all these things, muddled together with other aspects of my childhood and the white American culture in which I was raised.

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Resilience

Recently, I finished a class on soft skills, put on by New World of Work and taught by the fantastic Natasha Palumbo. We covered ten skills that can help in the workplace, skills they don’t teach you when you’re majoring in English or pretty much anything else in school. One of the things we covered in the last class was resilience.

Historically, I’ve had a hard time with resilience. I think most people with depression do. One small failure can keep us from trying again or trying something new because it’s a glaring example of our perceived incompetence. That, paired with a poor view of my own self-worth, has been what’s kept me from finishing a novel and having a successful career doing what I truly love.

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“Beautiful” Woman, “Ugly” Man

I have to admit, I’m a little apprehensive about the movie Long Shot. Don’t get me wrong. I have very high hopes for it. Based solely on the two trailers I’ve seen, it looks like it could be an enjoyable watch. (Please note that what follows is a discussion on a particular type of movie, which Long Shot may or may not be. I haven’t actually seen it yet. The movie’s trailer only sparked this discussion in me.)

Depending on how the actual movie plays out, it could be another in a long line of “unattractive”* guy meets “hot” woman and somehow woos/seduces/date rapes her movies (I’m thinking of Sixteen Candles and Hitch right now, but there are plenty of others). Who cares? What’s so bad about that? It’s cute and endearing and shows the power of love, right?

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On Wholeness

Feeling whole and feeling like nothing is missing are two different things to me. There’s that old metaphor that gets used about the Japanese bowls being repaired with gold and looking more fabulous than they were before, and yes, that’s a wonderful metaphor for healing. But even though those bowls are whole, they can still be empty.

I’ll just say this up front, I feel whole. There are a couple little cracks a way deep down inside that could maybe be filled, but I don’t feel broken. (What is broken? Sam Winchester in the current season of Supernatural; he’s fucking broken.)* What is wholeness? I guess to me wholeness is having everything you need to get through the day and then recharge at the end of the day. If I’m not able to do that, I am definitely not whole.

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Romancing the Stone Gender Bender Remake Cast

Excuse me while I have some fun. I’m watching Romancing the Stone right now, and I was thinking how cool it would be to see a (well-done) remake. Then I thought to myself, Self, what if the genders of all the characters were reversed? Well now, that would be something! So, without further ado, here is who I would cast:

Ira/Irene (orig. Zack Norman): Julianne Moore
Ralph/Ruby (orig. Danny Devito): Melissa McCarthy
Dr./Col. Zolo (orig. Manuel Ojeda): Salma Hayek
Elaine/Eddie (orig. Mary Ellen Trainor): Zac Efron
Gloria/Gabe (orig. Holland Taylor): Ben Affleck
Juan/Juanita (orig. Alfonso Arau): Elizabeth Rodriguez
Jack/Jackie (orig. Michael Douglas): Zoe Saldana
Joan/John (orig. Kathleen Turner): Ryan Reynolds

I mean, really, wouldn’t you just love to hear Julianne Moore say, “Look at those snappers, Ruby.” Elizabeth Rodriguez saying, “John Wilder? The John Wilder?” Can’t you just see Zoe Saldana shooting at Salma Hayek, mumbling about how she should have listened to her mother and become a cosmetic surgeon? Ryan Reynolds, crying over the ending of his new romance novel and saying, “Oh God, that’s good!”

Hollywood, I expect to be made an executive producer and receive a portion of the royalties on what is sure to be a blockbuster hit. kthnxbai