Jun. 17th, 2017 07:18 am
sartorias: (desk)
I am in lovely Minneapolis, second day of Fourth Street, which got off to an excellent start yesterday. So many Viable Paradise alums here! The writers of each year have been bonding into tight networks of mutual support and inside info. It's great to see.

I have two panels today, Theory of Mind (I have pages and pages of notes to boil down to a few remarks before two o'clock, so I don't turn into one of those horrible panelists who hogs the mic for 45 minutes, but I have at least that much material) and The Worst Mistake I Have Ever Made as a writer. That, I claim Queen of the Universe on: I still don't know which mistake. Because I have made pretty much all of the stupid mistakes there are, I guess I shall see what others say, and choose one of the legion that isn't covered.

Over at BVC, it's my turn to blog, and actually, it is tangential to Theory of Mind. One of the fundamentals of storytelling is gossip.
sartorias: Lady Pirate (Lady Pirate)
. . . is the subject of today's riff at BVC, the focus being that such things go farther back than many assume.
sartorias: (Default)
Today's riff is about the power, and the problems of word of mouth.

Especially for Indie writers, who have zero budget for publicity. And I talk about current reads, and why I'm reading them.
sartorias: (handwritten books)
Sent me cackling madly . . .

Originally posted by [ profile] davesmusictank at A Politician Dies ..
This was too good not to share but read it in full. Makes you think of the current situation.

sartorias: (handwritten books)
Over here, writer Sara Stamey, author of the terrific fantasy thriller The Ariadne Connection, recounts her rambles on the Greek isles, here specifically the remarkably well-preserved sacred site at Epidauros.

This seems an appropriate time to be reminded of places of peace and healing, and of the striving for the best in the human spirit. We're hearing so very much on the news about the worst.
sartorias: (purple rose)
I'm taking advantage of a brief connectivity to post. First, Happy New Year to all who celebrate!

Also, Deborah Ross posts today on her latest Darkover book, which was inspired by the sister relationships in Jane Austen. I think I said either here or somewhere online that I really like where she's going with Darkover. These books were immense comfort reads during the seventies. I kind of fell away from them later, but now that Deborah has taken over Darkover, sinking back into that world is like returning to a favorite outfit, which still mostly fits. I think Deborah's writing is stronger than Marion's (which was one of the reasons why I fell out of reading them).

Well, on to Illinois . . . will lose connection soon, so better post.
sartorias: (purple rose)
Originally posted by [ profile] deborahjross at Surviving A Murder: A #HoldOnToTheLight Post
In 1986, my 70-year-old mother was asleep in her own bed when a teenaged neighbor broke into her home, raped her, and then beat her to near death and left her face down in a partially filled bathtub. It was a spectacularly brutal, banner headline crime, called by the District Attorney one of the most heinous in the history of the county. On hearing this story, many people ask me, “How did you survive?”

I don't think survival is the question. Although numb with shock and drenched in grief, we get up in the morning. We brush our teeth. In my case, I had two daughters, one almost seven and the other 3 months old, to care for. We cry. We scream. We comfort one another. We go back to work. We take on the trappings of an ordinary life, carrying on in the blind faith that our insides will someday match the artificial normality of our outsides. Or we find our days transformed by what we have lost, not only our loved ones but our belief in the decency of our fellow humans and our sense of safety in the world. Some families dedicate themselves to finding the killer or to participating in punishment. Others become radicalized in other ways.

In other words, we do what seems best to us in order to survive. We do everything except tend to the grievously wounded parts of ourselves.

We know today that post-traumatic illness is not limited to soldiers in battle or the surviving loved ones of murder victims. We know that for most of us, it does not go away simply because we ignore it. Some people live reasonably functional lives by walling off their pain like an abscess, refusing to talk about it and “acting as if” everything is fine. I make no judgment about them; I am the last person to advise anyone else about how to live with something only they can understand. I know only that I was not among them.

I tried my hardest to be strong. Instead, I broke.

The man who killed my mother had pled guilty to a lesser charge, thus sparing my family the ordeal of a trial but leaving many questions unanswered. In 1995, he became eligible for his first parole hearing. There was no question in my mind about attending and speaking against his release. I poured myself into writing a speech, I marched into San Quentin Prison, I stood up in the presence of the perpetrator, I addressed the Parole Commissioners in the strongest possible language, and then I went home.

I thought it was over when parole was denied. I was wrong.

A year later, I went into a psychological and spiritual crisis. A series of increasingly troubling symptoms should have alerted me to my own emotional deterioration, but I clung too tightly to the appearance of normality to pay attention. When the break came, I folded like a house of cards: I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep, I couldn't stop crying. I would look in the mirror and not recognize the person who looked back at me. It seemed to me that nobody was home behind those glassy, deer-in-the-headlight eyes. I've heard almost those same words from other murder victim family members. I call us “murder survivors.” This time, there was no question of “carrying on.” Slowly and painful, with many missteps and amazing, often unexpected, kindness from those around me, I began to heal from the inside out.

Because I am a writer, much of what I experienced — not the external circumstances but the emotions and insights — made its way into my stories. Why fiction? Stories keep our intellects busy while the deeper parts of our psyches grapple with things that are not easily put into words.

I am not a psychotherapist or an expert on recovery from trauma. Nor am I a military veteran or law enforcement officer, or war refugee, or family member of someone who has been executed, so I cannot speak from my own experience about the horrendous stresses those people face. However, I have found that I have much in common with folks who suffer from post-traumatic illness from other causes. I have exchanged support and become an ally of family members of offenders, as well. Their grief and pain is no less overwhelming than my own.

We are all survivors, and all of us are wounded in ways we sometimes cannot name. And there is hope for all of us. One of the most powerful ways we can help one another is by telling stories and listening to each other with open hearts.

You are not what happened to you, and you are not alone.

About the campaign:
#HoldOnToTheLight is a blog campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness around treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiatives, bullying prevention and other mental health-related issues. We believe fandom should be supportive, welcoming and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment.

Please consider donating to or volunteering for organizations dedicated to treatment and prevention such as: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Home for the Warriors (PTSD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Canadian Mental Health Association, MIND (UK), SANE (UK), BeyondBlue (Australia), To Write Love On Her Arms and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

To find out more about #HoldOnToTheLight, find a list of participating authors and blog posts, or reach a media contact, go to
sartorias: (purple rose)
Still meditating some questions that came up in the writing openings discussion the other day, but today over lunch I read the last episode of Serial Box's Whitehall, which I hope will open into a second season.

SerialBox is another publishing experiment to which one can read the first episode of various series for free, then either purchase succeeding episodes one at a time, or subscribe to the whole. Each week a notice is sent when the next episode you paid for goes live. It's expensive if you tot up the price of the subscription and compare it to the price of an actual book, so at least for me, it's not something I'm going to do a lot of.

Also, I don't like cliff-hangers, and I hate waiting for resolution. But with Whitehall, the stories mostly were shaped in arcs that didn't drop you off a cliff at the end, and then I know the history of the time well enough that there are no large surprises waiting. Instead, I look forward each week to seeing what the writers do with the familiar history.

I don't know how popular it is; the subject is the Charles' court early in his reign, and though he is onstage a great deal of the time, the focus is his wife, Catherine of Braganza, who has largely been ignored by historians, and when she is mentioned, too often is reviled or dismissed for her foreign, Catholic ways.

The cast extends to the exuberant Barbara Villiers, Charles's longest-running of his many mistresses, the Earl of Rochester, and down to the servants, specifically Jenny, whose half-Spanish origins earns her kicks and spite from the kitchen staff, who don't like outsiders.

It could so easily have gone wrong for me. Of the six writers--Liz Duffy Adams, Delia Sherman, Barbara Samuel, Madeleine Robins, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Sarah Smith--the only one whose episodes veered a bit too much into a contemporary American voice were those by Mary Robinette Kowal, and that was only noticeable in comparison to the others. I found Sarah Smith's single episode incandescently brilliant, and those written by Madeleine Robins subtle with all kinds of period detail and outlook, but really, I enjoyed them all.

There is no spec fiction elements here--no supernatural or magical. It's historical fiction that gives the women of the time equal voice with the men, and without disdaining them for their seventeenth century paradigm, which was another pitfall I dreaded.

I'm really hoping that they do a second season.
sartorias: ("Butler sneaks a read" (Der Buecherwurm)
As the summer wanes for everybody else in the northern Hemisphere except for us (it will only get hotter and dryer over the next months), there is a lot of new reading out.

On the indie front, A new story bundle featuring Wild West and magic novels. This includes Judith Tarr's new series, based in Arizona and New Mexico. I haven't read it yet--looking forward to it.

Then there is the Noblebright bundle, a deal at 99 cents for twelve books, including one of my own, and Francesca Forrest's wonderful Pen Pal. C.J. Brightley explains the Noblebright concept here. Note: this is preorder, for an October release.

Yesterday, Mary Robinette Kowal released Ghost Talkers, which I reviewed here. Basically, loved it.

An equal pleasure was Kate Elliott's second book in her YA series Court of Fives, Poisoned Blade. I reviewed it at Goodreads, basically: loved it.

And my longtime writing friend has a new horror short story out, "The Other Side of Midnight", in which the great terror under Stalin opens to an even greater terror.

There, that's enough to keep anyone busy and out of the heat!
sartorias: (style)
Friendships seem to be okay in books, film, and TV, but heaven forbid anyone is committed, except in these favorites.

What are yours?
sartorias: (1554 S)
So I've been doing a great deal of (escapist) reading of late for various reasons that no one can fix, and had a thought about how sf has evolved during some recent reading.

I don't think Bujold's latest could have been published thirty, forty years ago. Granted, I doubt that any publisher would have given it a go now without her big name, but since the story rides on the reason why she earned the name, there it is. Anyway, it's not just the content but the variety out there that I appreciate. I've mentioned a few of my latest reads, and with the thought of a really remarkable one coming up in May (to be discussed closer to its pub date, when others can also weigh in), thought it might be interesting to see if anyone agrees.

Always up for discussion of any type, and getting more recommendations.
sartorias: (1554 S)
Six writers offered their top three mistakes at a Loscon in Los Angeles a few years back.

I took these notes, and thought that posting their lists might kick off some discussion.
sartorias: (desk)
Over here, a short, tightly written story set in Kerr's urban fantasy version of San Francisco. She's written four books about Nola O'Grady, her noir detective with license to ensorcell. This, I think, serves as a splendid introduction to those.
sartorias: (desk)
It's so quiet and peaceful on the island, it's strange to think that tomorrow I'm off to the intensity of New York City. However, that's not to say that intensity is missing--the workshop this week has been intense with its focus on all aspects of writing, sparking some excellent side conversations.

I've also gotten in some good bike riding, though a couple mornings it was far too cold for my California wardrobe. It was ninety plus degrees when I packed entirely on faith, putting in winter clothes but leaving behind the heavy sweatpants I wear maybe once a year, if that, because they take up so much space in the suitcase, ditto my two sweater tops. Well, I wished they were here, because autumn back here is far colder than the deepest "winter" day in SoCal. However, even when my body is shivering, my mind is rejoicing.

Anyway, in regular life, it's my turn to blog at BVC, a writerly ramble about downloadable memory. Memory sharing is a thing I've thought about ever since I was a kid. Maybe that's why I delighted in reading journals and memoirs and letters from a young age? Anywhere, it's there, and here are a few morning ride snaps I took with numb fingers, including one of the "Munchkinland" houses in Oak bluffs. How I would love to stay in one!





sartorias: (desk)
[ profile] rachelmanija and I talk about"specialness" in our reading and subsequently our approach in writing.
sartorias: (desk)
Want to share some heat and stress escapes? Today [ profile] egalantier posted this dueling violins at the OK Corral that I thought was pretty nifty.

When I can get some brain back again, time for a reading roundup.

But if anyone wants to share a) great reading discoveries and/or 2) awesome sites with music or art or whatever, most welcome!
sartorias: (desk)
Recently Ursula K. Le Guin has opened a forum over at Book View Cafe for questions about writing. She gets so many it closes again fast, but she seems to be willing to keep doing it. Reading through these show interesting patterns in both questions and answers, especially about point of view.
sartorias: (desk)
Deborah J. Ross talks about it over at BVC in what I thought was a thought-provoking post.
sartorias: (desk)
I thought this post by [ profile] mrissa spot on in so many ways.

Not just the wrongness of so many would-be helpful posts about "the care and feeding of" introverts (actually, that care and feeding of bit has always irked me with its sly condescension with a veneer of being wise), but about the different types of extroverts.

Also about acquiring skills. Though social interaction is a skill learned at different axes, like skating or math, say. All three I have tried to work at all my life, with an abysmal success rate.

And about the work involved. For the following social gathering givers in my immediate circle:

*My extrovert sister, whose gatherings are pretty much always successful, largely because of her natural charm but also she puts together people who have something in common, as well as organizes the details beautifully. (So when the gathering cross-sections with family, like a baby shower, and I find I am the only one there with utterly nothing in common with anyone else I can fade into the kitchen and be helpful behind the scenes, and she will permit that rather than chivvy me out exhorting me to "be social!") Afterward she can collapse and say, well that went well, and be right.

*My extrovert late grandmother, who loved gatherings, but who put together people who frequently had nothing whatsoever in common, and so would expend great energy going around trying to force people into groups with the exhortation that you should be more outgoing!--the most painful of all being "You are single, and so is X!" [It was such a relief when we all were un-single!] Afterward she could collapse and say, that went well, and be oblivious. But well-meaning. Obligation having been the glue that brought everyone, not things in common.

*A largely self-proclaimed introvert relative who obligates others to do the cook/clean/serve work, and who puts together a gathering in order to be the center of attention. If the group is not circled around X, will go to little groups and obligate them back into the bigger group with a wistful, martyred air of "well, I guess little me is too dull," and continue to hold forth. And afterward collapse with "Well that was exhausting, but I did my duty," having talked Xself out.

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