Saturday, April 5, 2014

SOMEBODY BRING SEXY BACK!

QUICK!  THIS IS AN EMERGENCY!


Ah.  Thank you.
At some point, I'm going to have to write about Hannibal, the bizarro reboot of the Thomas Harris's Silence of the Lambs-verse (or what-have-you).  It is some thrilling horror.

But for now, I am just completely stoked that my crush on Mads Mikkeleon is finally able to manifest in a serial way.  Pun not actually intended, but, there ya go.


Friday, March 21, 2014

So. About that.

I'm working on some stuff.  Writing, ugh, what can I say--I just can't seem to quit.  Even when I swear I will.

Ugh.  La vie d'artiste.  Or something.


I wish I looked that elegant when I'm complaining, but my life is not actually a jersey-swathed pile of pearlescent swoonage.  I look a little bit more like this:

There.  Much more accurate.

Anyway.  I hope everyone in Internet has been feeling good and being bad.  It's a funky time of year.  I always think of February as the Dream Quest season, for better or worse; I'm always visited by my best and worst intentions in that rainy, dreary month.  It's a month full of personal wonders for me, too, but it always has a couple dark moments.

Anyway again.  I'm going to crawl back to Internet more regularly, which I cannot quit any more than I can quit writing.  Not permanently, anyway.

Aloha, imaginary friends--


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Another head's up: Military Justice Improvement Act

 

Please forward far and wide

The Gillibrand bill is slated to be on the Senate floor next week.  Please contact your senators and remind them to support Gillibrand's Military Justice Improvement Act and join in the twitter storm tomorrow.

On Thursday, February 6 from 12:30-1 pm ET, Senator Gillibrand will be hosting a Twitter storm to raise awareness about military sexual violence and why we need to #PassMJIA. More information is listed below: 

WHAT: Military Justice Improvement Act Twitter Storm

WHEN: Thursday, February 6, 12:30pm-1pm ET

WHO: Senator Gillibrand, allied organizations, survivors, Senate supporters, others who support the bill

Sample tweet:
Survivors of military sexual assault deserve specialized prosecutors & protection from retaliation! #PassMJIA

Additional tweet messages can be found in this media toolkit - focusing on the Gillibrand bill - from NOW's One Billion Rising action kit: http://www.now.org/issues/violence/NOWOBRsocialmediakit.pdf

Baucus, Max - (D - MT)
511 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510


530 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
www.whitehouse.Senate.gov/contact/Twitter: @SenWhitehouse


Barrasso, John - (R - WY)                 
307 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510


Coburn, Tom - (R - OK)    
172 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510


Cochran, Thad - (R - MS)                   
113 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510


Hatch, Orrin G. - (R - UT)                    
104 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510


Johnson, Ron - (R - WI)                                                
328 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510


Lee, Mike - (R - UT)                             
316 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

McConnell, Mitch - (R - KY)              
317 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510


Moran, Jerry - (R - KS)                        
361A Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510


Rubio, Marco - (R - FL)                   
284 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510


Toomey, Patrick J. - (R - PA)        
248 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510


Warner, Mark - (D-VA)
457 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

I am not one of the Cool Kids.

After looking back on 2013 (and 2012, and even 2011), I think it's safe to just make peace with the fact that I am not an easy sell.

It was a rough year, personally, and that judgment doesn't include any elements from the insane year previous when a) my crazy move was initiated and b) I almost died again (so lame) and c) Family Problems occurred.  It doesn't include 2011, which was another mega-hit that also included both some of the aforementioned Family Problems--now that I think about it, strangely enough, every year contains some Family Problems--while wrapping up grad school, taking a national board exam on which my entire career relied, and living somewhere I hated with no end in sight (this culminated, of course, with 2013, The Year of Moving).

My primary distraction from actual life these last couple years--as much as was possible to indulge it--was writing and publishing my books.  And looking back on them, I'm definitely proud of that accomplishment.  I feel good about several parts of several of my books, which time has shown is as happy as I can be with anything I've made.  But... I don't know.  It's a bit lonely out there in the world.

<Whine>: I'm kind of tired of reaching out to other writers at the moment, with some very poignant and important exceptions (hi guys!).  I understand the resistance to connect; I'm not suited right, I don't care about the things I probably should in order to be Successful, I'm weird.  This is all true in real life, of course, but that hasn't stopped me from being able to connect with people.  At all.  It usually ensures it--I'm not intimidating in any way, shape or form, and chances are good I will like you.  Whoever you are.  I get along.  Yanno.

But the world of indie romance writers... Or is it indie writers?  Or is it MC romance writers, or indie MC romance writers or romance or... Fuck it.  I don't know.  Whatever the club is, I haven't been invited.

All this to say that I am officially taking a break from a couple things as of right now:

  •  writing romance novels for a while.  It is a fun, beautiful genre, and I want to continue exploring the feminist possibilities within it but... Not right now.  
  • participating in online forums of any kind.  I don't do a lot of that, but as of right now I'm pau.
  • commenting (doesn't mean I'm not reading!  I am, just in the odd burst here and there instead of regularly)
  • blogging regularly
  • and trying regularly.  Over it.
There are some amazing people I met online in 2013/2012 that I definitely want to stay in touch with, but yeah... If this was high school, and my tentative attempts to meet people felt this generally stone cold in return, things would have sucked hard.  So fuck it.  2014 is a new year, and I'm going to try and live most of it offline and surrounded by the interesting, positive people already present in my life.

</whine>

So.  2014.  I will be writing about whatever whenever and publishing some of it this year.  Got some house-cleaning to do.

And also, I want to chill.  Seriously, deeply, devotedly chill.  Even though I am apparently not palatable as a marketing asset to other writers (and who knows why, because I am like, amazing at marketing myself) (jk) (/sarcasm) and I have a massive fan base that will be sorely disappointed (I'm truly sorry to the three russians who read this blog, truly, truly sorry), I think things will largely continue as status quo.

Okay.... Except not at all.  Because of that last bit, about wanting to chill: a new status quo of chilling out will be in effect, instead of stressing the fuck out all the time about everything ever.  I love you, Internet, and I am still a rabid fan of all the writers who are cooler than me, but considering your contributions to the latter, I will be chilling without you.  For at least a little while.

It's good to understand who you are and where you stand in the scheme of things, even if it stings a little to learn who/where that is.  Humility doesn't feel good in the short term.  I'm hoping I have more to be proud of at the end of 2014 and fewer memories of feeling like crap.  Somehow, I suspect the correlation between the two to be statistically significant.

I hope everyone out there has a completely amazing year, full of dangerously sexy adventures and powerful revelations and whimsical bursts of empowerment.  Here's to us!  We can totally do this.

Good luck.


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Survey on Violence and Abuse in Juvenile Immigrants ~PLEASE FORWARD~

SURVEY: Transitional and Public/Assisted Housing Experiences of Immigrants

DEADLINE:  Thursday, December 12th at midnight.  Please forward widely!
Super late with this, as I have been pretending to forget about Internet.  But if this applies to you or if you know anyone to whom it would, please forward.



Dear Ally:

In your work with immigrant survivors of violence, we know you have first-hand knowledge of the importance of access to transitional and public/assisted housing. We are seeking your assistance in learning more about the problems immigrant victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking and abused, abandoned and run away children have in accessing transitional housing and public and assisted housing by completing a two-part survey by Thursday, December 12th.

Since 2001, undocumented immigrants who are homeless, victims of domestic violence, or runaway, abused or abandoned children have been eligible as a matter of law to access transitional housing. The first goal of this survey is to learn the extent to which immigrant crime victims have been successful or have encountered barriers that impede their access to transitional housing. This survey, available at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/immigrants-and-transitional-housing, should take less than 30 minutes to complete.

Our second goal is to learn the extent to which battered immigrant VAWA self-petitioners and their children have been able to access public and assisted housing.  In 1996 immigration and benefits laws made VAWA self-petitioners who received prima facie determinations "qualified immigrants," eligible to live in public and assisted housing units and to receive subsidies on their own behalf in addition to what their citizen children may qualify for. To qualify the victim must remove the perpetrator from the public or assisted housing unit and have the unit transferred to their or their child's name. This survey is designed to learn the extent to which battered immigrant VAWA self-petitioners have been able to access these important benefits and how not having access to public or assisted housing for themselves in addition to their children affects the lives and safety of battered immigrants and their children. It is available at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/immigrants-and-public-assisted-housing and is about half as long as the first part.

We thank you in advance for taking the time to participate in this survey and forwarding it to other service providers. We will distribute the results widely: to you, your organization, and to government agencies. The knowledge we gain from this survey, regarding how delays in access to work authorization affect immigrant victims and their children, will assist police, prosecutors, attorneys, and advocates working with immigrant victims to improve safety, legal protections and case planning.

Sincerely,
Leslye Orloff, Director
National Immigrant Women's Advocacy Project (NIWAP, pronounced new-app)  
American University Washington College of Law
4801 Massachusetts Avenue NW · Room 465 · Washington, DC 20016-8181

For technical assistance, call NIWAP at 202-274-4457 or email niwap@wcl.american.edu.
Training: www.niwap.org/training; Directory of Service Providers: www.niwap.org/directory

Friday, November 29, 2013

November POP! Justice Blog Carnival Presents: Indigenous Peoples in Genre Fiction

Actual adventuring photo of DP's; Image credit goes to Duc at 14shadesofgrey.wordpress.com


Aloha, imaginary friends!

November is Native American Heritage Month.  In the spirit of things, let me present a couple blog posts discussing Indigenous Peoples in Genre Fiction.  Thank you again to Deborah Pless for arranging the POP! Justice Blog Carnival, which takes a moment each month to examine social justice issues in the pop culture world.

  • The intrepid Deborah Pless wrote a piece on the Apache Tracker from the podcast Welcome to Night Vale, a surreal place where the narrator slyly comments on cultural appropriation (and how it blows) using the afore-mentioned as a perfect example of Don't Be This Guy.  This post also doubles as a great Cultural Appropriation 101 course, if you need one, and is available for your viewing pleasure here:
http://www.kissmywonderwoman.com/2013/11/dont-be-that-guy-wtnvs-apache-tracker.html

  • Patrick Bohan over at Pieceofcape.blogspot.com recreated an essay about stereotypes in Native American representation within the comic book world, naming a few repeat offenders (he's looking at you, Marvel) and the ways they exploit or modify the cultures of their characters accordingly, with the same canned result (who knew that 3/5ths of all Native American super-mutants were also shamans?):

  • Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar submitted "a book trailer and also a post about Hinduism, related to my latest book, AN UNLIKELY GODDESS."
  • And I wrote about Sherman Alexie, as I am want to do.  I tried to slap my longer essays on his work into shape, then gave up, so instead this is a post about how, in the YA novel 'The Absolutely True Adventures of a Part-Time Indian,' he inverts the 'typical' writing process to examine modern (particularly his own) Native American identity:

To check out next month's theme and call for submissions check www.kissmywonderwoman.blogspot.com.

Aloha, and good reading!  

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Sherman Alexie, the Magician

In all the world, of all the books, of all the book-makers... There is one I love best.

His name is Sherman Alexie.

You might have heard of 'The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,' the young adult novel he wrote about growing up as a member of the Spokane tribe in Washington state, largely based on his own experiences.  There's been some controversy over the darker tone of the books--many people die, there is a lot of really rough bullying, poverty, systemic isolation... Lots of sad things.  Like, so many tragedies that people objected to sad things, you see what I mean?

But the off-set is, of course, that these are also true things.  The events are all part of the actual trajectory of Sherman Alexie's actual life.  Arnold Spirit Jr. is his reflection on the death of his sister, his grandmother, the change in his friends and his community, and the development of his identity as a story-teller.

Which leads me to my own personal point of fascination with Mr. Alexie.

There are many writers who reflect on their own experiences and lives in their writing--that's kinda what writers do.  Audre Lorde coined the term biomythography to describe the meta-process of examining the true events of one's life while knowing they can never be exactly 'true.'  Our memories don't allow it.  Reality is subjective.  But the object of a lot of writing--particularly, I think, literary fiction and poetry--is to look back on one's real life, trying to parse what is true and focusing on that.

Alexie's writing takes this experience and reverses it.  He has never written an autobiography, or even attempted it.  Instead, he consistently fictionalizes true events from his life, and he does so deliberately and openly.  Instead of dancing with the truth of his memory, he embraces the opposite--the obscured, the wash of his own vision over the events as they happened, the veil of himself--and creates stories.  Its a subtle difference.  For many writers, the goal is to uncover the meaning of what actually happened.  Alexie seems less concerned, over all, with what actually happened.  He seems to be saying: we all know what happened, and we know why.  Let's not dwell.  Instead, he focuses on the personal mythology he grew around the event.

This is important.  

In fiction, Native Americans are often presented as magical in some way.  It might be that they're oddly psychic, or supernaturally bent towards turning into animals, or almost impossible to kill.  For mash-ups of all these themes, please see:
They fare a bit better--or more even-handed--in the world of books, Twilight excepting,** but many times, even in instances that don't have open-ended supernatural circumstances, Native Americans are shown as exceptionally sensitive to nature (oddly psychic) or almost impossible to kill (hello, Tonto).  Which is not great, when you look at the expanse of roles provided to whites in fiction, and also leads me to my next point.

Invariably, these characters are the supernatural force that shapes the primary character, who is always white.  Even in adverse instances, like Wolfen, they force the protagonist to recognize something fundamental about the world they live in and the person they are.  Usually, they're a bit more blatant; Nobody, my favorite portrait of the Magical Indian because of his surrealist, self-referential bent, literally exists in the film to guide Johnny Depp, much to Nobody's chagrin (and to the viewer's delight, especially once aware of this trope).  Jacob Black is part of Bella's tragically self-defining love triangle.  Longshadow brings Sookie and the vampire world closer in an abrupt, blood-soaked burst.  I'm sure, if you're reading this, imaginary friend, you can think of several thousand variants on the theme; I cobbled the above list off the top of my head in less than five minutes, and my memory is terrible.

The Magic Indian, through opposition or just a single well-placed tear, guides the white protagonist toward their destiny.

Sherman Alexie's work looks at this trope and strait up says Fuck That.  He has a particular dislike for Tonto's image, the Lone Ranger's accessory, if it weren't obvious from the title of The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist-Fight in Heaven.  But really, I think its just the idea of the accessory Magical Indian that pisses him off.

There is a lot of magic in Sherman Alexie's stories; the trick is, sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't.  Sometimes an ordinary instance turns out to have far-reaching, somewhat magical repercussions (the reunion in The Business of Fancy-Dancing), or a ritual psuedo-magical practice yields nothing (the hair-eating in Ten Little Indians).  The real magic in Sherman Alexie's stories is always linked to vision--the ability to see the actual selves of the people involved in the event being examined.  The Magical Indian in Sherman Alexie's story is always the person who knows himself: Zits, Arnold Spirit, Jr. and Thomas Builds-The-Fire, in particular.  Awkward, socially disparate, and bursting with vision, they always look at the event in question and see themselves--the obscured, the wash of their own vision over the events as they happened, the veil of themselves--and then create stories.

This moves the Magical Indian into the role of Magician, a semantic dance meant to imply they are now the Protagonist.  They are no longer accessories to someone else's journey.  They are Native American--definitely, inescapably--with a life and a purpose of their own.  The true magic these characters possess, each of them, is borne of their own vision and self-examination, and its fruit is simple: hope.  The most magical of Sherman Alexie's characters have the ability to see themselves, truly, and have hope.


Which completely differentiates them from virtually all other depictions of Native Americans in popular media.

Something to think about during our annual greed-and-ambivalence festival.







*Generic Indogenes is the satirical title my partner gives the anonymous hordes of magical indigenous people that occasionally appear in movies.  To do this right, you have to use the worst whisper you've got, lean over to whomever you're watching the movie with, raise your eyebrows, and exclaim it at the right moment.  Think of that bizarre scene in Apocalypto when the little girl starts hissing psychic drivel, or maybe the marauding murder-happy dude-squad that corner Gus McCrae for good, or perhaps like 90% of the cast in The Piano.  Go ahead, get creative with your sarcasm.


**I believe the main reason Native Americans--and other First Nations people--are better represented (and by better I really just mean they get to be normal humans, doing normal human things) in literature rather than film is because they are able to represent themselves.  There are many (I mean, we could always do with more, but) brilliant and well-respected Native American authors.  But how many Native American directors can you name off the top of your head?

Hint: for me, the answer is one.