Deaf, Actually (An update on my hearing impairment, surgery dates, and options)

Officially, I have moderately-severe/severe bilateral conductive hearing loss*: the bilateral part means it’s in both ears, conductive meaning that my cochlea (the ear nerve) is good, but sound isn’t being conducted to it, and loss because I once had normal-range hearing and now I do not. The moderately-severe/severe part makes me functionally deaf, meaning that I can hear some sounds, and even sometimes pass as a hearing person without too much trouble, but most of the time I can’t do “functional” things (like have a conversation) without some accommodations. I have moderate-severe loss in one ear and severe in the other, and that means that I am audiologically deaf**.

How did I get here? In 2010, I was diagnosed with otosclerosis. At the time, I’d just started to notice a loss in hearing, mostly when I sat in the big auditorium classes at UPenn. I couldn’t hear the professors from the back of the room, or even the middle, but if I sat up front I was okay. I was struggling in a music class too, differentiating between certain notes, but otherwise, it didn’t seem to be a problem. An audiology exam showed that my right ear had moderate hearing loss, particularly in the lower pitch sounds, but my left ear was nearly normal. The doctor recommended surgery on the right ear only, and told me I had a couple of years to think about it. The side effects from the surgery were rare, but included Bell’s Palsy (paralysis of 1/2 your face) and total, irreversible, hearing loss. I opted to wait. (more…)

My Boskone Schedule (Food, Poetry, Fairy Tales, Jodorowski, Flash Fiction, Comics, and a Reading!)

In less than two weeks, I’ll be appearing at Boskone 52, along with a great number of friends and other wonderful people (who also happen to be writers). If you’re going to be in Boston Feb 13-15, please do come and see us. You can find me at:

Friday, 3:00 PM (free to public)

Room: Burroughs

Food in Fiction

Stories that make you go, “Yum!” How do you describe food to convey mood or set the scene? Join our panelists as they dish on the culinary delights that tantalize us in fiction, from regional teas to kingly feasts. What works? What doesn’t? And what should you know about a food-centric scene?

Carrie Cuinn (M), Steven Brust, James Cambias, Fran Wilde, Lawrence M. Schoen

Friday, 6:00 PM

Room: Lewis

Poets and Poetry within Science Fiction and Fantasy

There is a burgeoning market for science fiction and fantasy poetry. Panelists discuss speculative fiction poetry: where you can find it, whom you should be reading, and what markets you should be watching to get the best of what SF/F poetry has to offer.

Theodora Goss (M), Carrie Cuinn, Jo Walton, Jane Yolen, Darrell Schweitzer

Saturday, 12:00 NOON

Room: Griffin

Reading! 

Saturday, 2:00 PM

Room: Harbor III

Non-Western Folklore and Fairytales

Folklore and fairytales offer powerful short stories beloved by young and old. The mainstream princess movies tend to focus on Western stories, but what about the rest of the world? Let’s discuss the globe’s lesser-known folklore and fairytales and what they tell us about their cultures, plus their similarities and differences.

Carrie Cuinn (M), Elaine Isaak, Ken Liu, Max Gladstone

Saturday, 10:00 PM (trust me, you want to stay up for this one!)

Room: Marina 2

The Jodorowsky Effect

Alejandro Jodorowsky, a Chilean filmmaker, author, and surrealist, influenced some of the greatest cult SF/F works of the last 60 years. He directed the first midnight cult film (El Topo), his comic series The Incal inspired The Fifth Element, and he spearheaded a failed effort to film Dune — “the greatest SF movie never made.” Jodorowsky’s production art for Dune inspired Star Wars, Alien, Heavy Metal, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and others. His other work is also critically acclaimed and hugely influential. Panelists discuss Jodorowsky’s legacy, his “Psychomagical Realism, ” and his influence on contemporary work.

Paul Di Filippo (M), Carrie Cuinn, Daniel M. Kimmel, Don Pizarro, Steven Sawicki

Sunday, 9:30 AM

Room: Marina 4

Flash Fiction Slam

Join Boskone’s second Flash Fiction Slam. Be one of eleven (11) writers to compete for the title of The Flash, reading your own original fiction — which must tell a complete tale within a 3-minute period. Our expert panel of judges will score your work, and you automatically lose 10 percent for going over your 3-minute time. You may only read your own work. The reader with the top score wins! Sign up before the con for one of eight (8) reading slots on a first-come, first-served basis by e-mailing erin.m.underwood@gmail.com. Or sign up onsite at Program Ops in the Galleria for one of three (3) at-con openings. A waiting list will also be available.

Carrie Cuinn (M), James Patrick Kelly, Kenneth Schneyer, Fran Wilde, F. Brett Cox

Sunday, 12:00 NOON

Room: Marina 2

Women in Comics

Do women get the same opportunities as men in comics? Do female superheroes receive fair representation? Are female superheroes ‘over-sexualized’? Let’s examine trends in the comic book industry over the last decade regarding the ‘fairer sex’ in comics.

Carrie Cuinn (M), D. Lynn Smith, Marjorie Liu, Jane Yolen, Brenda Noiseux

Programming begins at 2:00 pm on Friday, February 13th and is free to the public from 2:00-6:00 pm. Memberships are required after 6:00 pm on Friday and throughout the duration of the convention. Please note: panel descriptions where I am moderating are somewhat subject to change. 

What’s An Introvert To Do?

I’ve been at my new day job for seven weeks now. In that time, I’ve posted on Twitter or Facebook only a handful of times; published three blog posts here; checked my email occasionally, but not nearly as often as before. In the past, I’ve gone quiet when I’ve been overwhelmed with life — gone into hiding, in a way, from everything that threatened to topple over and bury me under its weight.

This is  not that.

I work in a place that provides a wide range of services to members of our community, most of whom don’t have other options. (more…)

Where to Start When You Want to Start Reading My Work (Fiction)

If you’re new to me as a writer (hi there!) or you’ve read a story here or there and you’d like to read more in the same vein, this sorted list might help you choose what to read next…

If you like fiction with female main characters:

If you like fiction about love, sex, and relationships set in SFF worlds:

If you like HPL-inspired/Mythos fiction:

If you like horror:

If you like fiction about robots:

If you like fiction about zombies:

  • “Mitch’s Girl” Edge Publishing’s Rigor Amortis anthology. October 1, 2010. (TW: zombie sex!)
  • “Dear Mom, This is Serious” Livingdead Press’s Emails of the Dead anthology. September 2010.

If you like mad science:

If you like noir:

  • A Different LeagueMondays are Murder web series, Akashic Books. August 26, 2013.

If you like darkly humorous or otherwise happily-ending stories:

If you want to be sad when you’re finished:

If you like stories with fighting, hunting, or soldiers:

If you like stories about books and maps:

If you like flash fiction of any stripe:

If you like Twitter Fiction:

If you like poetry:

And, if you want to read a bunch of these stories all together, please check out my first collection, Women and Other Constructs (published June 2013). Get it from me (print, epub or mobi), or from Amazon (print or Kindle).

Note: This list is presented with the most recent sales/publications first. When the story name is hyperlinked, click to read it for free online; if the title of the publication is linked, you can buy it online as well.

#SFWAPro

Money and Me: 2014 Edition

At the beginning of 2014, I started a project that would turn out to be far more ambitious than I’d expected, and ultimately change my life in big ways and small. I made a budget. For most people, that’s a small thing itself. For me –

I grew up poor, and that never really got better. I can’t remember a time I felt as though I had enough money to pay my bills, month after month, for more than a couple of months in a row. Over the years I got into bad habits with money, the kind of habits that come from knowing, for a sure and certain fact, that you will never be able to afford everything you need to get by, and you’re going to have to choose which thing to pay, and which to incur late fees on, or lose completely. Tiny, insignificant, choices, become monumental. Deciding whether to take my son to McDonalds for an order of chicken nuggets becomes a choice between giving my child a treat he’s been begging for all week, when he is cold and not feeling well and we haven’t been able to afford toys or movies or treats of any other kind and I already feel terrible that I can never do for him what other parents do for their kids — or washing a load of laundry we’ll need to get him into clean clothes for the school week. After a while, any money that comes in is paying off what’s already behind, and there’s never any hope that you’ll be able to build up savings, and the things you need to be even remotely comfortable and fed and safe are added to a growing list of things you mean to buy, someday, when you can…

The last couple of years have been the hardest for me that I’ve been through in a long time, but while all of that was happening, I figured out that I had everything I’d need for a good life right in front of me. In pieces, anyway. I had my writing, my son, the ability to do well at an administrative day job, and someone who made me want to be a better/more successful person. I had drive and skills, but those bad habits and some obstacles that felt impossible to overcome (debt, a lack of stable childcare, a horrible living situation) fed into the lack of hope that kept me from thinking any plan I put into place would actually work. Eventually I decided the future I could have was worth trying for, even though I was certain that everything I reached for would eventually be taken away. (more…)