Cool Stuff Friday 02-13-15

Happy Friday the 13th! The only remaining holiday that Hallmark doesn’t have a card for (please don’t disabuse me if I am wrong)!

  • It’s Mary Robinette Kowal’s birthday and she’s giving us gifts! Read her novelette here.
  • Lifehacker found a tool called Twine that lets you create your own Choose Your Own Adventure stories.
  • And this gif, via user zombiederf on Tumblr:

Monday Quote 2-2-15

When friends are so close they’re blood, you don’t need anything but a request to walk into a sword with your head held high.

Spirit’s End by Rachel Aaron

In Solidarity with Deliliah: How Society Teaches Us to Hate Ourselves & Other Women

First, you should probably go and read Delilah Dawson’s post. I’ll give the same admonishment here: I’m not posting this for bravery accolades, or to be told I’m wrong, or that I’m right, so I’m asking you to refrain from those types of comments. I’m saying this because it needs to be said.


I first heard of Delilah Dawson at Jordancon two years ago. She was on some panels I attended, and I wondered who this gorgeous woman was with the long dark hair and the big expressive eyes. She was thinner than me, and pretty, and published, and my first honest instinct was to dislike and dismiss her.

I have a friend who’s a volunteer at JCon and she gave me some background: Delilah had had a baby, written a book, and gotten published on her first try. Yep, I was definitely ready at that point to write her off. She was too perfect, too lucky. Then I actually listened to her speak, and I found out that this woman was also smart, and sweet, and as nice as pie. She was literally one of those people who seemed too nice to hate.

After the con, I started following her on social media and read some of her stuff. This was an intelligent, geeky, feminist woman with some wonderful, whimsical work. In other words: completely in sync with my areas of interest. And I’d almost dismissed her because of some misguided notion that there was only so much beauty and success to go around.


 

Society teaches us to hate more than our bodies and ourselves. There is a slow mind-poison that whispers to us that if someone else is cuter, or richer, or more successful, that it diminishes our own value. And even though many of us know it’s a lie, it’s still hard to resist the whispers in our own minds.

Growing up, I was the “smart” one. I was thin, all angles, awkward and gawky and anxious around people. When I was in elementary school, my parents told me they didn’t know where I’d gotten my smart genes, they certainly weren’t from them. So I learned being smart wasn’t something you did, it was something you were. And the first time I ran into a class that was too hard, I gave up, believing I didn’t have what it takes.

When I hit puberty, and started developing, I was bullied for stuffing my bra. I didn’t, of course, and was bewildered that anyone might believe I’d want *more* attention. All I got for that “attention” was my straps snapped, giggles from behind hands, and laughing questions from the back of the bus as to whether I “had a tissue”. At twelve years old, I was called a slut just for being audacious enough to develop a chest.

My whole identity at home was in being the skinny one. My sister was heavier, more athletic, she rode her bike and ran with friends and tanned in the sun. I was the waif: thin and frail and pale, left indoors to moulder with my books. So I spent high school barely eating lunch and skipping dinner on the nights when my parents worked. I took too many caffeine pills on an empty stomach in an effort to be anywhere but inside my own body.

I didn’t know anything about makeup, wore Wal-Mart clothes, and had no idea what to do with my hair besides dye it into a rainbow of colors. I would sarcastically quip that I wore all black because my clothes were easier to match in the dark, but honestly it was from a lack of knowledge of what went well together, and an intense desire to fade into the background and disappear. The worst thing I could imagine was being noticed, because when I was, I was ridiculed, tripped, or lured into verbal traps so I could be laughed at some more.


 

My first boyfriend out of high school liked to eat fast food for every meal. I went with him, and I even footed most of the bills. It wasn’t long before he was admonishing me to finish my plate. When I inevitably started gaining weight because of it, he told me I was too fat for him and dumped me, which mostly meant he hit on every girl in sight while simultaneously telling me he still loved me so I’d have sex with him and pay for things.

I started recovering my self esteem over a decade ago, when I met my current group of friends, including my husband, who has always encouraged me to be healthy while never telling me I was too big to be loved. But between the extra “honeymoon” weight, being cooked real meals for the first time in my life, and hitting my thirties, I am also now nearly a hundred pounds over the BMI my height says I should weigh. Even taking into account that being that slim makes my collar bones stick out grotesquely and I feel healthier at a much more substantial 150, I am overweight.

As much as I tell myself that I don’t care what other people think, I do. I wonder if my friends think of me as the fat one. I wonder if my husband is embarrassed to be seen out with me. Not all the time. Not even most of the time. Mostly just when I’m confronted with a mirror.

Certain people like to make fun of Tumbler “Social Justice Warriors”, but it honestly wasn’t until I joined there that I really started to understand the constant barrage of not good enough that I’d been absorbing my entire life. Magazines that assured me that if I was just thin enough, hungry enough, empty enough, that I would be happy. Articles that said I had to give up everything in bed to be an empty vessel for a man’s fantasies while not even mentioning that I might want to be on the receiving end of pleasure myself.

The love and acceptance of the culture I’ve seen at Tumblr has been a wonderful boon to me. Delilah’s post has been the same. What age and wisdom has imparted to me is that no matter who we are or what we look like, we’ve all been poisoned to believe that we’re not enough. Knowing that even the woman I thought was beautiful doesn’t see herself that way, gives me hope that maybe, somewhere, someone thinks that about me. And maybe — just maybe — they could be right.

We have to be honest with ourselves before we can get better. We have to admit that we’re sick before we can heal. I don’t have all the answers, but I believe talking about it is the first step.

 

 

 

Monday Quote 1-19-15

A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words. (Donna Roberts)

Most Anticipated Books of 2015

A new year means a new round of “best of” and “most anticipated” lists. This year, there’s been some noise about those lists being (as usual) too large a percentage of the White and Male variety. So out of my own curiosity, I thought I’d look at my wishlist so far for the upcoming year and see how my stats fell out.

In no particular order:

  • Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear – Steampunk in the wild west. Release date: 2/3/15.
  • Liesmith by Alis Franklin – Norse god gets an IT job. Gay main couple. Out now.
  • The Diamond Conspiracy  by Tee Morris and Philippa Ballantine – More steampunk. Part of a series. 3/31/15
  • Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop – Alternate world fantasy. Part of a series. 3/3/15.
  •  The Eterna Files by Leanna Renee Hieber – Victorian fantasy. New series. 2/3/15.
  • Hunting the Dark by Karen Mahoney – Part of a series. Out now. (1/1/15)
  • The Hellsblood Bride by Chuck Wendig – NYC UF with demons and mobsters. Technically released 12/30/14.
  • Hit by Delilah Dawson – New series. Young adult. About a teenage indentured assassin trying to pay off her mother’s debt. Just in time for tax day in the US – 4/14/15.
  • Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff – I honestly have no idea what this one’s about, but I want to read it anyway. 8/4/15.
  • The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy by Sam Maggs  – Nonfiction. About feminism in geek spaces, written by and for geek girls. 5/15/15. 
  • The Skull Throne by Peter V Brett – Epic fantasy. Part of a series. 3/31/15.
  • Kin by Lili St.Crow – Young adult. Part of a series of retold fairy tales. 3/3/15.
  • Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch – Part of a series. Has a male PoC protagonist. 1/6/15.
  • Servants of the Storm by Delilah Dawson – YA horror. HC is already out but I’m including because I’m waiting for the paperback releasing 6/2/15.
  • Pocket Apocalypse by Seanan McGuire – Part of a series. Go read it. Read it now. 3/3/15.
  • Dark Heir by Faith Hunter – Part of a series about a Cherokee shapeshifter. 4/7/15.
  • Gemini Cell by Myke Cole – Militiary UF. It’s billed as military sci-fi, but there’s not that much science in it. I think the UF label is shied away from simply because that’s seen as a “female” genre. (Tell that to Jim Butcher. I dare you.) 1/27/15.
  • Prudence by Gail Carriger – Technically I’ve already read an ARC of this but I’m including because everyone else needs to read it. Victorian UF. 3/17/15.
  • Unbound by Jim C Hines – Part of a series. Librarian mages. 1/6/15.

I’m sure there’s more, but that’s what I have bookmarked right now. So there are 19 books on that list. 7 of them are written or co-authored by men. So my list is 58% female. That’s not bad, but I had honestly expected it to be overwhelmingly female, and it’s not. I see 2 authors that I’m aware of that aren’t heterosexual. That’s a little under 12% of the list. That’s kind of disappointing, honestly. And though there are 2 books about PoC, I only see 1 book where the author is a PoC (to my best knowledge). That part is… really disappointing, actually.

I have N.K. Jemisin and Nnedi Okorafor on my radar, but I don’t know of any upcoming releases from the former and the latter’s previous work is still on my TBR list. Somewhere, I have bookmarked a list of fantasy works by PoC and I am going to go now and put my hands on it because honestly this is just pitiful.

Sometimes we have to actively SEEK OUT diversity. Sadly, some aspects of our current system mean that great books by people Not White and/or Not Straight (and yes, Not Male also) aren’t put in front of us to see them. It is our own responsibility to find these books and to be widely read. I have, obviously, not been doing a very good job of that. I hadn’t been looking for this when picking up new books. And sometimes “not seeing” race, or sexuality, or gender identity is just another way of saying you’re ignoring those people different from yourself. (Often times. Most times. 99.99999% of the times.)

I will be sure and share the list when I find it. In the meantime, if you have an upcoming or recently released fantasy or sci-fi novel on your radar by someone Not Straight/White/Male**, please share it in the comments section so we can all be aware.

**Written by someone other than yourself, please. This is a space for awareness, not self-promotion. 

[P.S. – I am also looking for suggestions for authors with non-binary gender identities, but I have personally not seen anyone in the SF/F genres “advertising” this information. So if you know of any, please list them. Thanks.]

The 2015 Urban Fantasy Zodiac

So a couple of years back, I did a tongue-in-cheek Urban Fantasy Zodiac with a similar structure to the Chinese zodiac. All my respect to the original astrology, and if you’re not familiar with it, this is a good starter guide. I’m not really a believer in any version of the zodiac, honestly, but I’ve always appreciated what these beliefs teach us about mankind’s early attempts to explain astronomy, the world, and ourselves. In any case, for some reason that post has remained one of my most popular. So I thought this year I’d revisit that and give you your 2015 Urban Fantasy fortunes.

Come with me as I look into the stars and give you a little glimpse of what’s in store for you this year. [Don’t know your UF Zodiac sign? Check the original post.]

Created by Waiting for Fairies.com
Created by Waiting for Fairies.com

Sign of the…

Zombie

I won’t lie. This year is going to be challenging for you, especially throughout the summer months. But don’t fall apart! By October, you’ll be back in your groove.

Fairy/Fae

The year is going to start slow for you, but keep your wings busy by helping others. In springtime, you’ll be everyone’s favorite dinner guest. Party hardy, but drink responsibly!

Dragon

January and February are going to be big months for Dragons. You’ll be happiest at home with your horde for most of 2015, but try to get out and about periodically.

Ghost

This winter leaves you feeling pale and wan, so why not plan a summer vacation to somewhere tropical? All a Ghostie really needs is some palm trees and one of those little umbrella drinks.

Griffin

Griffins won’t hit their stride until late in the year, but keep on keeping on! Some people may try to bring you down, but you can soar above it all. Try helping out the less fortunate when you’re down or blue.

Demon

It’ll be a frantic year for demons, and it’s unclear yet whether that’s a good or a bad thing. Brace yourself, because there are mighty changes coming.

Dryad

2015 is going to be a quiet and peaceful one for Dryads. Friends of yours are going to have a hard year, though, so listen up! They may not be upfront about their needs, but you’ll be able to provide just what they need at the right time. By December, your patience and caring will blossom into a great event!

Shape-shifter

This year is going to be all ups and downs for you shifters, I’m sad to say. Just when you think you’ve gotten the hang of things, they’ll change again. Hang in there. Things always get better.

Selkie

Family will be big for selkies this year. Stay close to home and don’t get distracted with things beyond your control. Someone is going to need your advice in August.

Incubus/Succubus

2015 is all about variety for the incubus/succubus crowd. You’ll be happiest when you’re getting out there and trying new things. When the urge to travel hits in April, give in to it. You won’t regret it.

Druid

Springtime travel will be great for Druids. Don’t forget to bring your meds, because you’re really going to need them! Make an effort to be social — you’ll regret the things you didn’t do more than the things you did!

Vampire

Vamps will be having a great year when it comes to fashion. Take care of your appearance and everything else will fall into place. You’ll be looking cool in September when someone special finally takes notice of you.

[Disclaimer: We here at WFF make no pretense toward having any sort of psychic abilities. Remember, this is just for fun, so don’t take us (or yourself!) too seriously!]