Resources mentioned at the SDCC Normalizing Publishing panel

First off, sharing a stage with Nilah Magruder, Nicola Yoon, Cindy Pon, and Greg van Eekhout for the Normalizing Publishing panel was absolutely a highlight of my time at the San Diego Comic-Con.

normalizing publishing panel

We managed to cover a lot in a short amount of time! Including but not limited to:

  • the importance of in-person as well as online communities for creators from marginalized groups
  • in framing the conversation about a book, comic, etc., how it’s equally important to highlight a work’s diverse qualities and to not relegate it to only being discussed in the context of those qualities
  • how alienating it is to grow up never seeing characters or creators who reflect your culture and experiences
  • how when you’re trying to create characters outside your own culture and experiences, research and respect are key

We also mentioned a lot of specific resources! Also including but not limited to:

We Need Diverse Books and its publishing internship program

The Publishing Diversity Baseline Survey spearheaded by Lee and Low Books, which also offers the New Voices and New Visions awards

The Carl Brandon Society and its Con Or Bust support for people of color to attend science fiction & fantasy conventions

Diversity in YA

Voices At VONA, a multigenre writing workshop for people of color

Lambda Literary Emerging LGBTQ Voices writers retreat

Writing The Other by Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward

Thanks to all who came to the panel, and I’m happy to update this post with more info & links I’ve forgotten in post-con exhaustion!

 

 

 

 

I am going to be a guest at San Diego Comic-Con

So, I do intend to write about my experience as the Genre Fiction instructor for the Lambda Literary Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ Voices, which was amazing, and not just because of this delightful coffee mug:

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But now I want to tell you what I’m doing at Comic-Con!

I’m a Featured Guest, I’ll be at II-10 in Artist’s Alley  and I’m on two panels:

Historical Comics and Graphic Novels: Thursday, July 9th, 1 PM

Not all comics are about superheroes. In fact, there are some amazing graphic novels, comics and web comics that deal with events from history. Some are personal stories, some are historical accounts and some are the creator’s own take, but they all bring history alive. Creators Peter Bagge (Hate, Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story), Ed Piskor (Hip-Hop Family Tree), Matt Phelan (The Storm in the Barn), Sara Ryan (Escape From Alcatraz), and Lora Innes (The Dreamer), discuss their historical works with moderator Douglas Wolk (Reading Comics).

Normalizing Publishing: Sunday, July 12th, noon

Shonda Rhimes famously said that she’s not “‘diversifying’ TV, she’s normalizing it: “Making it look like the world looks.” Join Sara Ryan (Bad Houses, Lambda Literary Emerging LGBTQ Writers Retreat instructor), Nilah Magruder (M.F.K., Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity recipient), Nicola Yoon (Everything Everything, We Need Diverse Books team member), Cindy Pon (Serpentine, We Need Diverse Books advisory committee, Diversity in YA co-founder), and Greg van Eekhout (California Bones, The Boy at the End of the World) discuss how this normalizing is, and isn’t, happening and what we can all do to promote inclusive storytelling.

 

I’m looking forward to both of them, but I’m particularly excited about the second one. See, as a guest, I get a “spotlight panel”, which means that basically I can do whatever I want for fifty minutes.

I decided what I wanted was to share the stage with smart interesting people and talk about stuff that matters.

See you in San Diego!

 

 

Why I Was Scared Shitless in June 1991

Journal excerpt, 1991:

I got into Clarion. It’s a highly intensive writing workshop for writers of sf and fantasy. 

Has me scared shitless.

Five Reasons I Was Scared Shitless (An Incomplete List)

1. Even though it was only an hour away from where I lived, it would be the longest I’d been away from home. I didn’t know how my absence would affect my relationships.

2. I didn’t know any of the other students. What if they didn’t like me?

3. I didn’t know what the instructors would expect. What if they didn’t like me?

4. I desperately, desperately wanted to be a writer. What if they didn’t think I could be a writer? What would happen to my identity?

5. And speaking of my identity: I’d only recently begun to understand that I was queer. How would others react if I came out? Should I come out? How would I feel if I didn’t? How would I feel if I did?

…I wanted to remind myself what it was like to be just about to be a student at an intensive writing workshop, because now I’m just about to be an instructor at one: the Genre workshop at the Lambda Literary Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ Voices.

Here are a few excerpts from the notes I took in 1991. (Yes, I still have the notebook.)

From a Tim Powers talk:

Writing is WORK and CONSTRUCTION don't confuse MOTION and MOVEMENT with action.

writing is WORK and CONSTRUCTION don’t confuse MOTION and MOVEMENT with action

What another student wanted to see in one of my stories:

more mayhem!! ever-increasing mayhem!!

more mayhem!! ever-increasing mayhem!!

From an Ellen Kushner talk:

SENSUALITY I CAN USE THIS -- especially pain, strong emotion, petty emotion

SENSUALITY: I CAN USE THIS — especially pain, strong emotion, petty emotion…

Note to myself with an idea for a story I did not end up writing for reasons that may rapidly become apparent:

story, what happens to your brain when you're fatigued

story, what happens to your brain when you’re fatigued

A reality check from Karen Joy Fowler:

Karen says: no agent til novel LEARN TO LIVE WITHOUT REASSURANCE

Karen says: no agent til novel LEARN TO LIVE WITHOUT REASSURANCE

And another one from Kate Wilhelm and Damon Knight. I think I can call myself a case in point:

SURVIVAL OF THE PERSISTENT

SURVIVAL OF THE PERSISTENT

 

 

Status update.

When you’re dealing with difficult things but they’re the same difficult things you’ve been dealing with for years, and you sort of want to talk about them but you’re also tired of hearing yourself talk about them, and you send a few messages, start and delete several others, and go to a movie alone and step out afterwards into a big Midwestern parking lot and the moment before the distraction provided by the film dissipates, you hold your phone up to the sky.

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Gone Home: what I loved and what I learned

I’m a compulsive reader. I’m less consistently engaged by movies and television, but there are certainly any number of films and shows I love.  Over the past several years, though, I’ve become increasingly aware that there’s an entire type of narrative with which I haven’t been able to connect.

I glean things from time to time — for instance I understand, vaguely, that many folks in my social circle play, love, critique, passionately discuss, create fan art for, and are otherwise engaged with games like Bioshock, Mass Effect, and Dragon Age.

But by and large, I’ve never found games fun.

Back in the dark ages, my fervent enjoyment of Ms. Pac-Man (as much for its name as for the gameplay) always coexisted with anxiety and frustration (whether due to inadequate hand-eye coordination or lack of quarters).

More recently, playing games, like reading some mainstream comics, has seemed more like work than entertainment, requiring Talmudic-level knowledge of creators, techniques and game mechanics. Or I’ve thought playing games would be like middle school gym class, where I knew I’d struggle with activities that others found simple, intuitive, enjoyable.

Turns out I hadn’t found the right game.

gonehome

I wouldn’t have found it, either, if it hadn’t been for Carmen Maria Machado‘s thoughtful appreciation in the L.A. Review of Books, “Why Alice Munro Should Play ‘Gone Home‘: The Video Game As Story And Experience.” I bought Gone Home immediately after reading Machado’s piece, and played Gone Home, with only a few pauses, for the next several hours.

Anyone with more of a connection to the world of indie games than I have is, no doubt, not surprised. The game has been out since 2013. It’s won a lot of awards.

And anyone who knows me IRL will also not be surprised that the game with which I connected so strongly:

  • is set in the Pacific Northwest
  •  involves exploring a big weird house and a family’s left-behind possessions & ephemera
  • includes multiple characters’ writing in various genres (postcards, letters, passed notes, genre fiction, zines) and
  • (spoiler alert) involves a queer girl romance.

I mean.

GoneHome2

But even more than my delight in all the elements that felt tailor-made to delight me, what I appreciate most about Gone Home is how it subverts ideas about what even constitutes a story.

Received ideas about narrative are hard to escape. Conflict is everything. Raise the stakes. What does your protagonist want? What’s in the way of her getting it? What’s the through-line? What’s her arc? Who’s the Big Bad? Make it hurt!

Gone Home’s storytelling doesn’t work like that. You extrapolate from fragments. Relationships reveal themselves to you gradually. You discover that the Greenbriar family home, the “Psycho House,” both is and is not what it seems. And if an antagonist even exists, it’s, perhaps, simply the emotional and physical distance between the characters.

The Alice Munro quote about stories considered as houses that Machado includes in her piece about Gone Home is certainly apt (go read it if you haven’t already). I thought of another, a favorite passage from Ursula Le Guin’s essay “The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction”:

So, when I came to writing science-fiction novels, I came lugging this great heavy bag of stuff, my carrier bag full of wimps and klutzes, and tiny grains of things smaller than a mustard seed, and intricately woven nets which when laboriously unknotted are seen to contain one blue pebble, an imperturbably functioning chronometer telling the time on another world, and a mouse’s skull; full of beginnings without ends, of initiations, of losses, of transformations and translations, and far more tricks than conflicts, far fewer triumphs than snares and delusions; full of space ships that get stuck, missions that fail, and people who don’t understand.

There are a lot of stories inside the carrier bag of Gone Home’s house. And like Le Guin’s essay, they remind me that the ‘narrative trajectory’ is only one way to think about what stories are, or can be.

IMG_4625

I don’t know the photographer to credit for this image. (If anyone reading this does, let me know.)

I saw it at, yes, an estate sale, and didn’t buy it, but wanted to remember it. Now you can too. Those handprints. Desperately grasping for purchase, or proudly leaving a mark?

 

 

 

back from Emerald City

image

I am incapable of taking the train without also taking photos out the window while it’s in motion.

Emerald City was terrific as usual. Highlights this year, aside from lovely interactions across the table, included the excellent meetup organized by Marissa Louise, various smaller-scale gatherings with old and new friends, and that curious con phenomenon where you manage to catch up with folks who live in the same city as you, yet whom you somehow never see while you’re at home.

Emerald City Comicon

I’ll be tabling at the always-lovely Emerald City Comicon, along with Periscope Studio comrades, in booth #1214.

Still figuring out exactly what all I’m bringing, but I’ll definitely have lots of copies of Bad HousesComic Book Tattoo or two, & assorted minicomics.

I will not have copies of Sensation Comics: Featuring Wonder Woman #29 & #30with parts one and two of my story “VIP,” because so far they exist only in the digital etherverse.

sensationcover

But I will have a tablet so folks can browse & see how a T-shirt with the slogan #problematic, dinosaur selfies, and the word mansplaining figure into the plot.

Also, here’s a panel that has already been modified and put into service in a college lab where a friend works:

 

PDX Cocoon

pdxcocoon

Is there anything more relevant to the interests of a YA author than an evening of hearing teenagers tell stories about risk?

PDX Cocoon: stories by Portland youth is brand new; last night was the first performance. Lead producer Nico Hamacher set the tone by warning the audience that there would be ‘profanity and questionable decisionmaking’ in the stories; that got a big laugh, and was an entirely accurate description.

What I appreciated most was the range of risks represented in the stories: from moving to a new country alone to sneaking out at night with friends, from near-death experiences to going in for a first kiss.

Definitely looking forward to future PDX Cocoon events.

 

Four things for February

1. Saw a friend recently, and he asked, “What’ve you been up to?” I paused, shrugged, and we both started laughing. He’s a writer too; we agreed that when you’re not necessarily wanting to talk in great detail about what you’re working on, you’re also not necessarily gonna be an outstanding conversationalist, because what you’re up to, basically, is writing.

2. But I’m also always reading and listening. I discovered the Nerdette podcast after seeing Tricia Bobeda on an excellent panel at ALA Midwinter and particularly enjoyed the recent episode featuring Scott McCloud.

3. In online reading, I’m very much appreciating Malinda Lo’s Perceptions of Diversity in Book Reviewing series; here’s Part 1: “Scarcely Plausible,” and Part 2: “So Many (Too Many?) Issues.”

4. I mentioned this elsewhere online but buried the lede, so let me try again: here is a picture of me at about age seven, dressed in a Wonder Woman costume that was homemade except for the mask.

wonder_woman_mask_web

The boots are rain boots, the gloves are dishwashing gloves, the belt buckle is made from a coffee can lid. I post this not just to demonstrate my mom’s cleverness at constructing this early cosplay, but as a way to announce that I wrote a story for Sensation Comics: Featuring Wonder WomanIt’s not out yet, but assuredly I’ll post about it again when it is. Christian Duce is doing the art. And I wish I could go back and tell my 90s Sandman-reading self that one day I’d have a story in a comic with a cover by Michael Zulli.