Current novel in progress: Caudal Ballad

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shark-tail

Caudal Fin

I’ve settled on the novel project that most needs me right now, or at the least the one which won’t let me go. It’s Caudal Ballad, a title that might change later, but works for me at the moment.

I described the elevator pitch for it as “Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, if it was about ghosts and women, and was written by the Illuminati,” on Twitter and Facebook, and got several responses of, basically, “Take my money!” so I’m feeling pretty good about that.

Of course, an elevator pitch doesn’t tell much more than how marketing might sell it, so here’s the expanded version:

It’s the story of several people who find themselves in the same small NY college town when weird and bad things happen.

The story is told mostly chronologically, but not quite.

Interspersed with the tale are quotes and information about printing and typesetting in early America. These bits are relevant to the story. Eventually.

It’s about ghosts.

It’s about physics.

It’s about the astronomical theory of the multiverse.

It’s about what it’s like to be a woman trying to survive alone, at the margins of society, with no family or money or support.

It’s about the way we move through the world when we’re suffering from mental illness, or an excess of dead people, or both.

It’s about the relationship between townies who are stuck in place, and well-funded grad students who are in town to attend an Ivy, and aren’t limited by anything at all.

Some of the extra bits between chapters are architectural drawings, notes from town meetings a hundred years ago, or scribbles on the backs of postcards. Those bits are mostly relevant, too.

It’s about the invisible city on the other side of your town that, if you can get to, you’ll never come back from.

It’s about memories and self-destructive behavior and how “self-defense” doesn’t always look that way from the outside.

It’s about the monster under the bed.

It’s about sex and money and other kinds of power.

But mostly it’s about ghosts.

I’m going to post excerpts to my Patreon over the next few months as I finish up my current draft, and share thoughts about the process. If you want to follow along, and throw a few dollars my way so I can keep writing, please consider joining me there.

Follow Friday Five: The “Surviving A Trump Presidency” Edition

Last week, I recommended: LONTAR Journal, NatureFutures, Gamut, Reckoning, GlitterShip

This week?

This week, America elected Donald Trump as President, and the whole world shifted. Publishers, authors, editors, and other creatives and critics are still important (perhaps even more than before) and I’ll get back to sharing and promoting those folks next week. Today, I want to alert you to five groups that promise to stand with us in these trying times, and if necessary, stand between us and the Trump presidency.

Please share their information, and support them if you can.

From the ACLU website

From the ACLU website

The American Civil Liberties Union has worked to defend individual rights and the liberties guaranteed to us by the US Constitution, for almost 100 years.

Whether it’s achieving full equality for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people; establishing new privacy protections for our digital age of widespread government surveillance; ending mass incarceration; or preserving the right to vote or the right to have an abortion; the ACLU takes up the toughest civil liberties cases and issues to defend all people from government abuse and overreach.

With more than a million members, activists, and supporters, the ACLU is a nationwide organization that fights tirelessly in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C. to safeguard everyone’s rights.

Donate here.

Follow them on Twitter @ACLU

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was originally founded  in 1909 by Moorfield Storey, Mary White Ovington, and W. E. B. Du Bois, to protect and support African Americans, but their mission has expanded to “ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination.”

The NAACP’s goals are:

Economic Sustainability

A chance to live the American Dream for all: Every person will have equal opportunity to achieve economic success, sustainability, and financial security.

Education

A free, high-quality, public education for all: Every child will receive a free, high quality, equitably-funded, public pre-K and K-12 education followed by diverse opportunities for accessible, affordable vocational or university education.

Health

Health equality for all Americans including a healthy life and high-quality health care: Everyone will have equal access to affordable, high-quality health care, and racially disparate health outcomes will end.

Public Safety and Criminal Justice

Equitable dispensation of justice for all: Disproportionate incarceration, racially motivated policing strategies, and racially biased, discriminatory, and mandatory minimum sentencing will end. Incarceration will be greatly reduced and communities will be safer. The death penalty will be abolished at the state and federal level, as well as in the military. Learn more.

Voting Rights and Political Representation

Protect and enhance voting rights and fair representation: Every American will have free, open, equal, and protected access to the vote and fair representation at all levels of the political process.

Expanding Youth and Young Adult Engagement

Expanding the presence of youth consciousness in every aspect of the Association through significant attention to expanding engagement with key age demographic (1979 and after). Young adult engagement will be key in policy research, development and advocacy on all levels.

Donate here, and find your local chapter for more ways to get involved here.

Follow them on Twitter @NAACP

The National Immigration Law Center is dedicated to fighting for the rights of low-income immigrants through litigation, policy analysis and advocacy, and various other methods.

Established in 1979, the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) is one of the leading organizations in the U.S. exclusively dedicated to defending and advancing the rights of low-income immigrants.

At NILC, we believe that all people who live in the U.S.—regardless of their race, gender, immigration and/or economic status—should have the opportunity to achieve their full potential. Over the years, we’ve been at the forefront of many of the country’s greatest challenges when it comes to immigration issues, and play a major leadership role in addressing the real-life impact of polices that affect the ability of low-income immigrants to prosper and thrive.

Donate or learn how you can attend a local training here.

Follow them on Twitter @NILC_org

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From the Planned Parenthood website

Planned Parenthood is the country’s leading sexual and reproductive healthcare provider. They’re also one of the biggest targets of Republican/”religious right” politicians.

For over 100 years, Planned Parenthood has helped women to take control of their lives and health by giving us birth control, medical checkups, access to doctors… they’ve saved women from being forced to get pregnant against their will, they’ve saved women from breast cancer (through early detection and care), they’ve saved LBTQ+ people who were struggling with coming out, finding support, transitioning, and more. They’ve saved women and children by offering low- and no-cost prenatal and postnatal care.

But because one section of America believes they have a right to control female bodies through legislated morality, Planned Parenthood is in danger.

They’re committed to remaining open, and remaining a staunch defender of women — and immigrants, people of color, LGBTQ communities, and disabled people — regardless of what Trump’s government does:

We have made so much progress together in the past eight years — including emerging from the worst recession we’ve had in close to a century, expanding health care coverage to more than 20 million Americans, beginning to break down barriers of discrimination and racism, and upholding marriage equality.

It’s up to us to keep fighting to protect the communities we care about. It’s up to us to fight for Planned Parenthood health centers, so they can continue to serve the people who rely on them — people who come from communities that need our continued support in this new reality: immigrants, people of color, the LGBTQ community, people of faith, and more. It’s up to us to stand strong. It’s up to us to make sure that Planned Parenthood health centers will be there wherever and whenever they are needed, no matter what.

Their full statement is here.

Click here for nationwide volunteer opportunities (including as a clinic escort) and click here to donate. Local chapters also list more extensive volunteer opportunities, so take a look at your specific chapter (here’s New York’s page) for more.

Follow them on Twitter @PPFA

(Also, check out the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, a 501(c)(4) organization that provices education and advocacy to protect and advance women’s health and rights. Follow them on Twitter @PPact.)

The Southern Poverty Law Center:

The Southern Poverty Law Center is dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society. Using litigation, education, and other forms of advocacy, the SPLC works toward the day when the ideals of equal justice and equal opportunity will be a reality.

For more than four decades, we’ve won landmark cases that brought systemic reforms – toppling remnants of Jim Crow segregation and destroying violent white supremacist groups; shattering barriers to equality for women, vulnerable children, the LGBT community and the disabled; protecting migrant workers from abuse; ensuring the humane treatment of prisoners; reforming juvenile justice practices; and more. Today, with a staff of 75 lawyers and advocates, we’re focused on impact litigation in these practice areas:  Children’s Rights, Economic Justice, Immigrant Justice, LGBT Rights, and Mass Incarceration.

They monitor hate groups across the county, offer extensive resources (including online), and manage the interactive Hate Map. They identify and expose growing hate movements, including extremists in the American right. They also pursue legal action to bring justice to those who need help to get it.

Learn more here. Donate here.

Follow them on Twitter @splcenter (En español: )

The ACA saved my life, and we’re about to lose it.

There’s a lot to say about the election of Trump to be our next President, and I’m going to say it all, soon. The thing that hitting me the most though, right this minute, is that if he succeeds in taking away the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”), I’ll lose my current insurance.

Congress already has a plan in place (from 2015) which would use the budget reconciliation process to gut the ACA with only a simple majority, which the Republicans have. No filibuster allowed; it’s over in one vote. From healthaffairs.org:

Both houses of Congress passed reconciliation legislation that would have repealed the premium tax credits; the small business tax credit; the individual mandate, the employer mandate; the expansion of Medicaid coverage for adults up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, presumptive eligibility, maintenance of effort, and benchmark plans for Medicaid; and the ACA’s taxes—the medical device tax, insurer fee, “Cadillac” high cost plan tax, and tax increases imposed on the wealthy—most of the provisions that the public identifies as “Obamacare.”

Without the tax credits which would greatly reduce my payments for a different marketplace insurance — especially given my preexisting conditions — I can’t afford to buy a replacement. Trump’s proposals (Health Savings Accounts, insurers allowed to sell plans across state lines, imported medications from overseas, keeping your kids on it until 26) won’t help me at all.

As a freelancer — the only job I can hold while still caring for my son’s special needs — I don’t have employer coverage. I don’t make enough to put into an HSA. Buying from one insurance company vs another doesn’t mean the prices will be affordable; “affordable” for me is literally whatever I can avoid spending on food and heating gas for my apartment. I don’t have extra money for health insurance when the coverage I have is taken away.

I’ll be without.

Without the ACA-provided health insurance, I wouldn’t have been properly screened for my health issues this year. I wouldn’t have had surgery in June to remove part of my thyroid. They wouldn’t have discovered my cancer when it was still small and treatable.

If I hadn’t gotten health insurance through the marketplace this year, I wouldn’t be getting it next year under President Trump, and then maybe not for another 4 or 6 or 8 years after that.

I wouldn’t have survived that long with undetected cancer. The ACA saved my life. (And it was going to keep on saving my life by providing me with the health care I need to watch out for new cancer, the medication I need to manage my ADHD so I’m a more productive worker, and limiting the amount I spend out of pocket so I can still put a little food on the table.) That’s now in jeopardy.

I have to figure out how to pay for new insurance when the time comes because I need it. I have to survive this vile “leader” who doesn’t care if I live or die. So, I’m already planning and budgeting for a future under Trump.

If you want to, and can, help, please consider:

Thank you.

 

The Worst Sentence I Ever Tried To Write

A few years back, I discovered the Bulwer-Lytton fiction contest — a search for the fake opening line of the worst of all possible novels. Sponsored by the English Department at San Jose State University, the contest is an homage to the opening line from Paul Clifford (1830), which you probably know best from this:

snoopy

I wrote (and submitted) my own version of the worst opening line in the world, never heard anything about it, and forgot it, until I found it yesterday while searching for a different file entirely.

I present it here, for you…

I stood for hours under that street light waiting for him to get off work, wondering all the while if his lateness in achieving an exit from his wretched place of business was in fact because of stray, lingering customers, or if in his position as manager of a “gentleman’s club” he had finally succumbed to the lurid pleasures of the flesh his harlot employees offered to other less scrupulous men who (one would hope) did not have the kind of quality wife waiting for them that he did, a wife who would stand outside in the pouring rain even when he’d asked me to stay home on numerous occasions, on account of him being so concerned for the state of my health, though something could be said for the fact that a woman standing under a streetlight in the pouring rain in only her pink fuzzy bathrobe and bunny slippers might not be so good for business.

I didn’t win the Bulwer-Lytton the year I sent it in, which is to say that I failed at writing a sentence awkward enough to be truly terrible.

At least now, when I’m feeling low about my writing, thinking that it’s awful and shouldn’t see the light of day, I know: whatever I write could always be worse.

And that cheers me up.

Follow Friday Five: LONTAR Journal, NatureFutures, Gamut, Reckoning, GlitterShip

#SFWAPro

I realize that I’ve been lucky to know some incredibly talented people in publishing, at all stages of their careers. People that you should be familiar with, too. For at least the next few months, I’ve set up regular posts to go out on Fridays (coinciding the with the popular #FollowFriday movement on Twitter) to highlight people and projects I want you to know more about.

Last week, I recommended: Barbara Jane Reyes, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Dr. Adrienne Keene, Alice Wong,  and the Gay YA project.

This week? Magazines!

LONTAR Journal is a biannual literary journal produced in English by in Singapore. Their focus is entirely on Southeast Asian speculative fiction. They publish a mix of established and new authors, and they are open for submissions on a rolling basis:

The editors of LONTAR are looking for quality literary writing with elements of the fantastic, which is in some way connected with the cultures, traditions, mythologies, folk religions, and/or daily life in Southeast Asia*. While we are happy to look at works by writers outside of the region, we want to actively encourage Southeast Asian writers to submit your work.

They’ve had fiction from Geoff Ryman, Ken Liu, Paolo Bacigalupi, Sabrina Huang, E.C. Myers, Eka Kurniawan, Dean Francis Alfar, John Burdett, Nikki Alfar, Ng Yi-Sheng, Kate Osias, Zen Cho, and Eliza Victoria in their pages, along with poetry from Bryan Thao Worra, Chris Mooney-Singh, Ang Si Min, Jerrold Yam, Tse Hao Guang, Shelly Bryant, Anne Carly Abad, Arlene Ang, David Wong Hsien Ming, Daryl Yam, Michael Gray, Joses Ho, and Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé. They also publish non-fiction and the occasional comic.

Their print issues are hefty, lovely, tomes, and their editorial eye is locked onto a part of Asia that doesn’t get as much love from American SFF readers as, say, China. Read them to get a broader view of the world than you have now, and to support the idea that SFF really is a global community.

You can find them online at lontarjournal.com and on Twitter @lontarjournal

Nature magazine publishes flash science fiction under the collective title “Futures“. They accept unagented submissions, pay a pro rate, and have an interesting target word count: 850-950 firm. I love their focus on hard science, and they publish a wide range essays, interviews, and even podcasts as well. The editorial team is thinking globally now; recent offerings include interviews with Ken Liu and Liu Cixin, talking about Chinese translations, and an essay by Ben Peek talking about Australian SF.

Their fiction has been hit or miss for me in terms of originality — it’s all good, but sometimes I feel as if I’ve read the themes a hundred times before. When they do something novel, though, it’s wonderful. Check out “Mortar flowers” by Jessica May Lin, “The Plague” by Ken Liu, for example.

You can find them online at nature.com/futures and on Twitter @NatureFutures

Gamut is a digital magazine that bills itself at actively seeking diversity in neo-noir and speculative fiction. (You can read a sample here.) Their Editor-In-Chief, Richard Thomas, says:

I want to support the voices that aren’t getting enough recognition, and pay a great rate (at ten cents a word we are twice the going professional rate). I want to surround myself with talented authors and artists that inspire me. We need more markets like this, publishing edgy fiction that straddles the line between genre and literary fiction, and based on the four anthologies I’ve edited, the books I’ve published at Dark House Press, and my own writing—I feel like we’re in a golden age of dark fiction, and there is a demand for it.

They’re new, launching in January 2017 after a very successful kickstarter, and they’ve already got a staff of 15 people, which means they’ll either be ready for a long and well-organized run, or they’ve got too many cooks in the kitchen; time will tell. I think they’re worth keeping an eye on, though.

You can find them online at gamut.online and on Twitter @gamutmagazine

Reckoning is another new magazine, an annual journal of creative writing on environmental justice. According to editor Michael J. DeLuca, “environmental justice” is:

the notion that the people (and other living things) saddled with the consequences of humanity’s poor environmental choices and the imperative to remedy those choices are not the ones responsible for them.

He created the magazine after guest editing an issue of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet,

Reckoning is open for submissions (as long as you send in work that shows “your searingly personal, visceral, idiosyncratic understanding of the world and the people in it as it has been, as it is, as it will be, as it could be, as a consequence of humanity’s relationship with the earth”), and their first issue is out this winter.

I’ve know DeLuca for several years now, and he’s the kind of editor who doesn’t let his singular vision force him into accepting anything but the best work. I can’t wait to read this magazine.

You can find them online at reckoning.press and on Twitter @reckoningmag

GlitterShip is a podcast-only magazine creating audio versions of LGBTQ stories from authors of all backgrounds, twice a month. Edited by Keffy R. M. KehrliGlitterShip records (mostly) previously-printed genre fiction, so there’s a chance you may have read these stories before, but you won’t have heard them like this. Plus, all 29 of their episodes are available to read in text format on the website for anyone who can’t (or prefers not to) listen to the podcast.

If you’re looking for a new way to get your speculative fiction, podcasts are easy to access and great for listening during long commutes or your morning walk. I put them on when I’m cleaning the house, or driving, or when I’m too tired to read and I want to lie on the couch, eyes closed, absorbing fiction by the least amount of effort possible.

Try it. You’ll like it.

You can find GlitterShip online at glittership.com and on Twitter @GlitterShipSF

Who wants a holiday card? (2016 Edition)

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songbirds-1

A variety of non-denominationally winter stamps have been acquired.

Since last year’s attempt to send out a bunch of holiday* cards was successful, I’m doing it again this year — and starting earlier, so I have more time to do it right. I’ve also been trying to be less of a “reclusive writer”, reaching out to people I know well, and I realize this could be an opportunity not just to celebrate the friendships I have, but to expand the new friendships I’d like to build on. So… who wants a holiday card?

If you would like to receive mail from me, please click on the link below and fill out the form. Your answers will not be visible to anyone else.

Sign me up!

And… if you want to send mail to me, you can do so at:

address

 

Thank you, for enlarging my world.

* Whatever this means to you. Choose from a variety of holidays, non-denominational writing inspiration, recipes, or simply an acknowledgement that winter hasn’t killed you yet. Because that’s worth celebrating too!

Note: if you signed up last year, you’re already on my list, and you don’t need to do so again. But! If you moved, or want to change your preferences, please do take a second to update your information in my form. Thanks!

Happy Halloween! No tricks, all treat: “On the Methods of Preserving and Dissecting Icthyo Sapiens” (FREE PDF)

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Art by Shannon Legler, commissioned for my story when it appeared at Mad Scientist Journal (November 4, 2013)

Art by Shannon Legler, commissioned for my story when it appeared at Mad Scientist Journal (November 4, 2013)

I can’t hand out candy over the internet — but oh, my friends, I would if I could — so instead, I am handing out a short, sad, and creepy story I originally wrote for Mad Scientist Journal in 2013. Read the excerpt and download a free PDF below.

Lab Notes, April 23, 1931. The subject has four limbs, but while its skin appears crocodilian, the limbs are not fixed under the body. Instead they appear to be jointed much as a man’s are, with longer back legs and a wide range of motion in the shorter front legs.

Water is everywhere. It is, always, since the earliest memories of my life. I feel it as a warm pressure on every part of my skin. It is an ever-moving source of air for my lungs and food for my belly. When the currents are strong it becomes thick enough to sit on, to grab a hold of and ride. The water is never still because it is never empty. I can taste the time of day.

Though it has a mouth and front facing eyes, it does not appear to breathe air, and instead has several gills hidden under heavy scales on its neck which are easy to miss. Kudos to Johnson for noticing them, or the thing might have drowned before we got its head and neck into a bucket of water.

I was born there, where the river flows into the deep lake. I have traveled upriver to mate, have seen water muddied by great hippos and in places a river lowered by heat and summer sun. I have crawled along the nearly empty river bed, me, who was born in a place so deep no light can penetrate it! I have seen all manner of fish and monsters and men. Everything has a place in the world, everything fits into each other and makes sense, except the men.

Download a free PDF of the full story here.

For more information about Shannon Legler, visit her site at http://lendmeyourbones.tumblr.com.

“On the Methods of Preserving and Dissecting Icthyo Sapiens” by Carrie Cuinn  is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. (This means that you can share the story — including the PDF I’ve provided — freely, as long as you attribute it to me, do not charge any money for it, and don’t change it in any way. Please note this basic explanation is not a substitute for the license terms.)

Thank you for sharing, and reading!

Follow Friday Five: Barbara Jane Reyes, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Dr. Adrienne Keene, Alice Wong, Gay YA

#SFWAPro

I realize that I’ve been lucky to know some incredibly talented people in publishing, at all stages of their careers. People that you should be familiar with, too. For at least the next few months, I’ve set up regular posts to go out on Fridays (coinciding the with the popular #FollowFriday movement on Twitter) to highlight people and projects I want you to know more about.

Last week, I recommended: Fran Wilde, A.C. Wise, Jeff VanderMeer, Wes Chu, and Don Pizarro.

This week? Barbara Jane Reyes, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Dr. Adrienne Keene, Alice Wong,  and the Gay YA project.

It’s not enough to say we want more diversity in SFF, or genre fiction, or literature — we have to actually seek out and read authors and educators who write from a perspective that isn’t “middle-class white suburban America”. Today’s Follow Five can help you to do that.

Barbara Jane Reyes is an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellow, award-winning author of numerous poetry chapbooks, and professor of Filipina American Literature. She was born in Manila, and raised in the SF Bay Area, where she got a B.A. in Ethnic Studies (U.C. Berkeley) and a M.F.A. from San Francisco State.

Reyes is constantly working to increase readership of Filipino — particularly Filipina — authors. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Philippine American Writers and Artists (PAWA), is an adjunct professor at University of San Francisco’s Yuchengco Philippine Studies Program, and co-editor of Doveglion Press. She’s given numerous readings, lectures, and interviews (you can find some of them on her YouTube channel here), and she regularly writes comprehensive blog posts detailing authors, lit movements, and cultural history. For example, she’s recently shared several lists of Filipina American Lit Authors that should be required reading not just for students of Filipin@ authors, not just for literary students, but for readers in general.

Filipina American Literature Reading Recommendations: List 1 | List 2 | List 3 | List 4 | List 5

You can find her online at barbarajanereyes.com and on Twitter @bjanepr

Silvia Moreno-Garcia is a Mexican-Canadian author and editor whose creations include Innsmouth MagazineInnsmouth Free Press, and The Jewish Mexican Literary Review (with Lavie Tidhar). She also co-edits The Dark with Sean Wallace. She was also the original fiction editor for People of Colour Destroy Horror, a special issue of Nightmare Magazine. As editor, her anthology She Walks in Shadows — highlighting Lovecraft’s mostly-ignored female characters — was nominated for a World Fantasy Award this year. As an author, she’s published dozens of short stories since 2006, and has two collections out now. Her novels (Signal to Noise, 2015, and Certain Dark Things, 2016) focus on the supernatural from a Mexican perspective, and have been widely praised.

Moreno-Garcia has long been a fan, and scholar, of horror — including exploring and expanding on the work of HP Lovecraft. (In fact, her 2016 MA thesis is available online: “Magna Mater: Women and Eugenic Thought in the Work of H.P. Lovecraft” and has my vote for a “Best Related Work” Hugo next year.) Her Strange Horizons article on the history of Mexican Science Fiction is a must read — though I wish it were longer — and her Fantasy Magazine article on Pre-Columbian Cultures in Film recommends work you probably would never have heard of otherwise.

Start with those three pieces of nonfiction, move on to Moreno-Garcia’s stories and novels, and then keep an eye out for anything she publishes as as an editor.

You can find her online at silviamoreno-garcia.com and on Twitter @silviamg

Dr. Adrienne Keene is the writer behind “Native Appropriations“, professor of Native Studies, and member of the a Cherokee Nation. Hers is a tireless voice, active online (particularly Twitter), discussing and dissecting stereotypes of indigenous peoples. She frequently highlights cultural appropriation, and shares news stories you probably missed. On the Native Appropriations site, she writes long posts which thoughtfully and kindly — often, much more kindly than we deserve — explain in detail exactly what’s wrong with the lack of Native representation in Hamilton, or why polls claiming Native people don’t mind racist sports team names are probably very wrong.

In short, she educates the public. If you’re wondering whether she’s constantly the target of abuse and harassment for that effort, the answer is yes. Yes, racist white dudes flood her mentions on the regular, defending their team mascots, and entitled white women active insist on their right to dismiss critiques of their “native-inspired” Coachella headdresses. Keene educates us anyway.

You can find her online at Native Appropriations and on Twitter @NativeApprops

Alice Wong is a writer and activist, and founder of the  Project. She shares and discusses news to foster a greater understanding about the intersection of disability stories, culture, politics, public perception, and the individual people living with the experience of disability.

Wong is an organizer of , to encourage discussion of disability issues during the 2016 election season (which is still ongoing), writes curricula for home care providers and caregivers, and is a Staff Research Associate for the Community Living Policy Center. Her Twitter is full of insightful conversation about the variety of barriers faced by people living with disability, and their struggles against institutional ableism — and she contributes greatly to the discussion.

Wong also a contributor to The Nerds of Color and Model View Culture, so you know I’m following her for those things, too. (Geeks of the world, unite!)

You can find her online at disabilityvisibilityproject.com and on Twitter @SFdirewolf

The Gay YA project isn’t a person, but is an excellent source of news, information, and discussion about QUILTBAG+ characters in YA novels. They host a book club, share links, point writers at agents who are open to repping diverse authors, and moderate Twitter chats on various related topics. If you write YA, want to read YA, or are involved in any other aspect of publishing and want to stay on top of current trends in fiction, follow Gay YA. (So, basically, anyone who reads and/or writes. Yes, this means you.)

You can find them online at gayya.org and on Twitter at @thegayYA

Follow Friday Five: Fran Wilde, A.C. Wise, Jeff VanderMeer, Wes Chu, Don Pizarro

#SFWAPro

I realize that I’ve been lucky to know some incredibly talented people in publishing, at all stages of their careers. People that you should know about, too. For at least the next few months, I’ve set up regular posts to go out on Fridays (coinciding the with the popular #FollowFriday movement on Twitter) to highlight people and projects I want you to get to know.

The first five are some of my favorite people: Fran Wilde, A.C. Wise, Jeff VanderMeer, Wes Chu, and Don Pizarro.

Fran Wilde writes about invisible sky squid and bone cities and jewel girls, and she makes it all look effortless. There’s an ease about reading her work. I tear through it like a watching a movie. I’m never left, after reading Fran’s work, feeling as is there were things she left out, questions unanswered, worldbuilding she didn’t quite complete. She builds her stories from the basement up, figuring out history, society, cuisine, laws, fashion… all of the little bits of creating a culture which tell us it’s real, even when we don’t notice the effort. Her worlds and characters simply exist, fully formed, doing the things you’d expect for reasons that make sense and every part of it is so authentic that you don’t question it. You just believe it.

That talent didn’t come out of nowhere, and Fran — like everyone else on today’s list — has put in years to get where she is now. She has an MFA in poetry, has taught writing at high schools and colleges, worked in digital media, in communications for non-profits, wrote reviews and articles and blog posts and short stories and now, after all of that, novels. It’s no surprise, then, that her first novel, Updraft, won the Andre Norton and Compton Crook awards, and was nominated for a Nebula. (The sequel, Cloudbound, is out now.)

But on top of all of that, she’s a delightful person to be around. She loves adorable socks and good food and her family and friends. She’s enthusiastic about the projects we’ve done together. She’s always made me feel like she’s glad to see me. I’m genuinely happy that she’s my friend.

You can find her online at franwilde.net and on Twitter @fran_wilde

A.C. Wise was born in Canada, but we don’t hold that against her. She’s a short story writer with the range to pull off glittery and fun, or poignant, or emotionally powerful, depending on the story (and sometimes all of those things at once). Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies (including mine) plus Clarkesworld, The Dark, Lackington’s MagazineApex, Uncanny Magazine, and dozens more magazines. She has two collections so far: The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves the World Again, and The Kissing Booth Girl and Other Stories, which comes out this month.

Wise has been working on her craft for over a decade, publishing her first short story in 2005, and writing consistently every year since. She also co-edits Unlikely Story, and has spent the last few years actively encouraging women’s voices in fiction. She wrote the popular “Women to Read” column at SF Signal, starting in 2013, until it shut down this summer. (She’s now writing “Words for Thought” each month at Apex Magazine, but the “Women to Read” columns are all archived on her website.) She’s kind and helpful, and she’s always, always, supported me.

You can find her online at acwise.net and on Twitter @ac_wise

Jeff VanderMeer is world famous now, mostly as the author of his Southern Reach Trilogy (soon to be in theaters!), but I know him as one of the hardest-working people in genre fiction. He’s been devoted to writing, editing, and teaching, for decades. He’s been nominated for 14 World Fantasy Awards, has won 5, and a dozen or so other awards as well. He’s defined genres, introduced important translated work to a generation of English-speaking readers, taught at Clarion, Hobart-William Smith College, and Shared Worlds (a two-week residential workshop for teenagers). He writes non-fiction, including book reviews, and helped created Weird Fiction Review, as part of his ongoing contributions to the academic side of genre fiction.

If there’s anyone who’s career I’d like to have when I grow up, it’s Jeff’s.

He’s also continually inspiring as a person. He’s passionate about halting climate change and protecting endangered species. He works constantly, reads voraciously, and shares what he knows. If he reads a story he likes, he’ll tell you. If he discovers a new author, he promotes their book. He’s involved in the genre community, not just as a teacher and publisher, but appearing at events and on panels, serving on judging committees, and behind the scenes, too, quietly guiding and supporting.

On a personal note, he’s inspired me to write the weird little novel in my heart, even if no one else gets it but me.

You can find him online at jeffvanderrmeer.com and on Twitter @jeffvandermeer

Wesley Chu may be the most honest person I know in publishing. The first time I met him, just before The Lives of Tao debuted, he sat down and told me his plan. His goals, his motivations, the arc of his writing career — all laid out. He knew what he needed to accomplish in order to make a career of writing, and what he’d have to give up, too. In the years since, he’s done exactly what he set out to do, by believing in himself, focusing on one thing (writing his novels), and putting his butt in the chair every day. Over and over again.

He doesn’t pretend to be anyone other than he is, and he doesn’t need to. He’s unapologetically driven, but he’s kind. He loves his fans, appreciates his success, and has remained accessible to the people he came up with, even as he’s sold more, gotten movie deals, and could have easily forgotten everyone. But I’ve never seen him dismiss people, or be pretentious. And, he’s fun. He’s energetic. He likes good booze and fine food and will talk for hours. He wants to see the world and to be a part of it at the same time. If you like entertaining books and charming authors, you’ll want to know Wes.

You can find him online at wesleychu.com and on Twitter @wes_chu

Don Pizarro isn’t a household name, yet. He’s had a handful of sales, edited an anthology, voiced half a dozen podcasts, and written a few essays, but rarely promotes himself. He’s incredibly well-read, and has appeared on panels at Boskone, World Fantasy Convention, and given presentations at the Rod Serling Conference, several years in a row, sharing his insight. He’s always up for good conversation about writers and writing, and he listens at least as much as he talks.

Don doesn’t submit very often, though I hope that will change soon. He’s spent the last six years that I’ve known him studying. Reading. Practicing. Taking workshops, going to other author’s events. (He attended Viable Paradise this year, too.) He’s driven to work at his craft, week after week, and the stories he produces have a delicate blend of realism and folklore, personal history and a sense of place. He can write anything — even Lovecraft-inspired erotica — and give it a thoughtful, literary feel. (I’m not kidding. Felicia Day said his Cthulhurotica story was like “Innsmouth meets indie movie”.)

Read “Life After Wartime“, and then find him online at warmfuzzyfreudianslippers.com and on Twitter @DonP

The 4 jobs I have (Other than Writing)

#SFWAPro

As a freelancer, without a dayjob office to go to or set shifts, I end up working every day, and some days, weeks, blend together. To better organize my life, I track it — what I get done (and what I don’t), if I sleep, eat, take my medication, how I feel. With that data, I now know that my life is chronically overbooked, and most of jobs are unpaid. And, most of what I do isn’t what I wish I was: writing.

Freelancer: This is my dayjob (night job, weekend job). What I do for a living, the editing and content creation part, I love. The business side of it is hard, stressful, and I’m underpaid. (I don’t make enough enough month to pay my bills, putting me further into debt each month, and part of my job is to chase down more work, to remind clients to pay me… which doesn’t always happen.) I have some flexibility, though, which I badly need so I can do all of the other jobs I have, too.

Child care/advocate/special needs teacher: I’m the only parent and full-time caregiver for a very bright boy with a serious speech disorder, so I spend several hours a week being not only his mom, but his teacher, and the connection between him and the rest of the world. I have meetings with his school, his speech therapist, and the county agency that acts as the state intermediary. I interview and hire his staff, research therapies, take him to doctor’s appointments, manage his medication, and create different exercises to teach him new words in different contexts. Plus the parenting bit — feeding him and buying clothes when he grows and snuggling him when he’s sick. I’m happy to do it, no matter how much time it takes, but it does take time, every day, and I don’t have help to do it.

Housekeeper/Cook/Home and item repairs: All the things you need to do in order to keep your house clean? I do that. Cleaning up after a child? I do that. All the shopping, cooking, and figuring out how to feed us well on a small budget — which means lots of cooking from scratch — is on me, too. Because I can’t afford to replace anything, or hire anyone to fix things, I do all of that as well. On a given week this might be sewing up a ripped shirt, gluing a wooden chair back together, or  — this week — diagnosing a plumbing problem, ripping out a toilet (including cutting out rusted bolts) and replacing it with a new one, to save the labor cost my landlord would have charged. When you’re poor, you learn to fix a lot of things. I actually feel lucky that I’m capable of doing as much as I am.

Nutritionist/Trainer/Medical Care: There’s been a lot of this, the last couple of months. Surgery for the thyroid cancer, and then getting tested for everything my new insurance will cover, has meant changes to what I eat (anemic and lactose intolerant means more iron and less dairy, to start with). In the process of being sick, I put on almost 80 pounds I didn’t want, so now I have to get it back off, and learning to do that safely at this size has been a new challenge. I’ve had doctor’s appointments or blood tests almost every week for 3 months — this week alone I have four appointments and lab work. I have three daily medications (soon to be four) and a weekly one, that need to be taken at certain times, and a rescue inhaler for when I exercise. Like everything else, learning what’s causing me to be unhealthy so that I can work to be healthy takes a lot of time.

Between each of these “jobs”, I don’t leave the house as much as I’d like to. I don’t go out. I don’t watch much tv. I don’t read enough to make me happy, or sleep enough, or take a day off. Trying to find time to write fiction in the spaces these other tasks don’t occupy feels impossible, and my to do list is neverending. The stress over not being able to reliably pay my rent causes me a lot of worry, and honestly, I’m afraid on a regular basis.

But I love to write. I think it’s the thing that is going to matter the most, at the end of my life. It’s the way I can make a little bit of a difference in the world. Maybe a tiny difference, but I’ll take it if I can get it.

So, with every task and every worry I’ve got weighing me down, I still look for writing time every day. I’m not going to give up.

If you love writing too, you shouldn’t stop looking for time to write either. We can do it together.