ALEXIS HALL'S FOR REAL
WON A RITA AWARD
AND THEN SARINA BOWEN AND ELLE KENNEDY'S HIM
WON ANOTHER ONE
AND I MAY NEVER TURN MY CAPS LOCK OFF
RWA approved the creation of the Rainbow Chapter in 2009. 2009.
It took them that long
to openly acknowledge that queer romance is romance. And now, in 2016, TWO male/male romances, one of them written by a queer author and published by a queer publisher for a queer audience
and one of them in a contemporary romance category
, are winners of the organization's highest award.
The contemporary romance thing is key because queer romance is often assumed to be erotic, or treated as though it's erotic just because it has queer content. So winning both within and outside of the erotic romance category is a big deal. And the Ritas are voted on by RWA members, most of whom are straight women who have probably never read anything remotely like the glorious queer kinkiness of For Real
Hall's editor, sarahf
, gave a particular shout-out to #ownvoices authors, "queer and trans, black and brown". (Was that the first time anyone's ever said "trans" onstage at RWA? It might well have been.) And Sarah is a cancer survivor and a good friend of mine and so passionate about her work, and has put an incredible amount of effort and energy into making her small queer romance press succeed, and this is their first Rita, so yeah, I was sobbing.
Robyn Carr, who won this year's lifetime achievement award, gave an amazing inspiring speech about keeping your head down and doing the work. And last night I picked up my writing notebook for the first time in nearly two months and read a bit in The Plot Whisperer
, and one particular bit in the section on story structure inspired me to fix the giant gaping hole in my novel outline. (I know what the characters' problems are and I know what the eventual solution is. So what makes that solution so incredibly difficult for the characters to accept and invest themselves in? What psychological cliff do they have to step over? OH HELLO EMOTIONAL CLIMAX scribble scribble scribble
) What with that and Readercon and seeing a book that looks a little like my book win an actual goddamn Rita motherfucking Award, I am pretty fired up.
We went to Readercon and we are home.( Things that went wrong (a partial list) )
And yet despite all this, we had a genuinely very good time. J's mother came to the con and was immensely helpful with Kit. J and I both did several panels that went well, and I got to have the baby on my lap for part of the "Writing While Parenting" panel. My "Story Hospital" experiment was largely successful, though there are definitely ways it could be improved. X remembered how much they like socializing (sometimes) (with the right people). I got to tell Tim Powers how much Last Call
means to me. We got to see old friends and meet internet friends, most especially the luminous mrissa
; it wasn't a year for making new friends, but that's fine, there will be other years for that. We finally introduced Kit to roddenberrypie
, who absolutely lit up. Lots and lots of people cooed over the baby, who smiled at everyone despite teething pain and crowds and loudness--I was especially charmed by ninocipri
's gasps and exclamations over Kit's cuteness ("How DARE that baby!"). Our usual little room party was a little subdued because we were so tired, but we still got to introduce some of our friends to one another and hear some tasty industry gossip. The drive back was very smooth. And on the way home, we went to the Mystic Diner again and Kit discovered that a plastic packet of oyster crackers makes an excellent rattle. I immediately sent photos to my New England–born mother. :)
Notes for future years:
* The drive can be done with two stops. One of them should be the Mystic Diner. It has a changing table and a kids' menu and food all of us can eat, everyone there is really nice, service is quick, there are lots of families with kids, and it's right off I-95. Not sure where the other stop should be, but it definitely should NOT be the Fairfield highway rest stop. Look for another diner somewhere around Stamford, maybe.
* The "take I-95 until the end of time" route works pretty well other than the twisty bit through Providence getting kind of hairy. Might be worth trying out I-84 and I-90 as alternatives.
* Pack two big ice packs for post-drive use when we get to the con. Leave the other two in the freezer for when we get home.
* Do a better job of packing the things we might need for the baby where we can get to them at rest stops.
* We never use the carrier or the car seat cover. We use the stroller and the bouncy seat a lot.
* The natural foods store in Quincy is A M A Z I N G and we should stock up on things from there for room snacks etc.
* X and I both really like driving the Prius.
* Sleep more. Eat more. Have more fun!
- thinking about:
body.digestion, body.sleep, events.cons, events.cons.readercon, experiences.disaster, experiences.driving, mind.wiring, mind.wiring.anxiety, people.josh, people.kit, people.xtina
My Readercon schedule fills me with GLEEEEEEE.
Friday July 08
2:00 PM BH Welcome to Readercon. Jonathan Crowe, Rose Fox, Emily Wagner. New to Readercon? Not new, but curious about what might be different this year? Our program chair and other Readercon regulars will give you some peeks behind the scenes and suggestions about all the cool not-to-miss stuff. We're nice. Come hang out.
Saturday July 09
2:00 PM C The Return of Writing While Parenting. Rose Fox, Nicole Kornher-Stace (leader), Ken Liu, Kate Maruyama, Kit Reed. This panel will discuss the difficulties of parenting while writing (as opposed to working a job while writing, which is for the most part a very different challenge) and how the panelists have managed to reconcile their parenting duties with their writing needs and responsibilities. Panelists may include parents of small children and older children, writers who parent full-time, parents who write full-time, and children and spouses of writers.
As the child of writers and as a writer and parent, I have lots and lots and lots of opinions and feelings about this. And I'm delighted that Kit and Kate will be providing the parent/child dynamic in real time!
3:00 PM BH Story Hospital. Jeanne Cavelos, Michael Cisco, John Crowley, Rose Fox (leader), Lila Garrott, Maria Dahvana Headley, Elaine Isaak, Keffy Kehrli, Robert Killheffer, Kate Nepveu, Terence Taylor. Story Hospital pairs up writers with editors and reviewers for 10-minute discussions of what's broken in their WIPs and how to start fixing it. Think of it like a pitch session where the editor's already on your side, or speed dating where you actually want the other person to tell you what you're doing wrong. Writers: come prepared to quickly and succinctly explain what you're working on and the problems you're facing. Our handpicked team of editors, reviewers, writing teachers, and enthusiastic readers will bring thinking caps and kind hearts. Leave your manuscripts and red pens at home--this is a 10-minute spoken conversation only--but bring cards with your contact info in case you both want to continue the conversation later. The discussions will be facilitated (and stopwatch will be wielded) by longtime editor and critic Rose Fox. Sign up in advance at the information desk. We have room for 30 writers and their brilliant ideas.
LOOK AT THAT STORY HOSPITAL DREAM TEAM. I am SO EXCITED for this. I hope I can matchmake a bit based on genre, but even if I just go strictly by sign-up order, I think any writer will benefit from a conversation with any of those brilliant people.
I think this is exactly the right amount of workload for my first Readercon with baby in tow. One hour on Friday, two consecutive hours Saturday, all done. With two other parents and a grandparent to keep an eye on Kit, I should be able to manage that. :)
Will you be at Readercon? If you are, find me and say hi!
It's apparently Clovember, so here, have photos of me on Saturday
Both days: Hat by Goorin Bros., shirt by Arrow (their boys' 16 and 18 fit me perfectly and are readily available on eBay), shiny captoe shoes by Hunter's Bay (men's 5.5, bought at Payless for $20!), barely visible reversible belt by Calvin Klein.
Saturday details: It's hard to tell in the hotel room light, but the hat is blue cotton, the pinstripes on the shirt are blue, and the sweater (a French Toast boys' school uniform piece, bought during last year's back-to-school sales) is navy. Jeans are Old Navy men's slim fit. I'm wearing a magnetic pin
(an Australian Aboriginal design) instead of a tie, my new favorite thing. My default earrings with hats are tiny opaque stone spheres that I got in various colors from desayunoencama
's father's jewelry warehouse; the ones I'm wearing there are a lovely cloudy swirly blue, agate or something similar.
Sunday details: The tie is a boys' zipper tie by Signature; tying ties is fun, but nothing beats zipper ties for a) convenience and b) being the right length for my torso. USB watch chain and antique pen nib fob by Wyrding Studios
(note that nearly any pendant in the store can be turned into a watch fob upon request). Charcoal vest (no label) and wool blazer (Talbot's) are from thrift stores. Trousers are Old Navy men's black khakis, heavy cotton because it was really too cold for my thin polyester dress pants. The lapel pin is my World Fantasy Award nominee pin, inverted as a distress call; it was the only way I could bear to wear Lovecraft's face. I made the earrings, which are simple stacks of five cubes of some sort of copper-colored opaque stone--jasper, maybe? I like the way they echo the copper hatband. This is basically as steampunk as I get.
I love having excuses to dress up. I should really do it more often even when I don't have an excuse. :)
Everyone is completely fine.( A fun trip to the ER )
I should probably eat something--I've barely eaten anything at all today--and then go try to sleep some more. If I'm lucky this whole thing will have reset my sleep schedule back to where it should be. Not the way I would have chosen to do that, but I'll take what I can get.
- thinking about:
behavior.love, behavior.parenting, body.body clock, body.sleep, events.cons, events.cons.world fantasy, experiences.disaster, experiences.kindness, people.josh, people.kit, people.xtina
World Fantasy update (following part one
and part two
of a discussion of the con's financial costs):
I decided to buy a membership. If I change my mind later I can always get a refund.
On August 3 I emailed the conchair and the registrar to say I would be buying my membership, and I sent the membership fee to the convention's PayPal address.
On August 10 I emailed the conchair and the registrar asking for confirmation that they had received my payment.
On August 14 (today) I emailed again:Hi Joseph,
I'm starting to get concerned. I sent you a significant amount of money, which was definitely taken from my bank account by PayPal. I haven't heard from you and my name doesn't appear on the WFC site list of members. Can you please confirm that you received my payment and that I'm getting a membership?
I'm glad I checked the site because I saw that banquet tickets had gone on sale. My primary reason for purchasing a membership was to have access to purchasing a banquet ticket. However, the ticket sale page doesn't say anything about being required to be a member in order to get a ticket for the banquet. I have purchased a banquet ticket. If a membership is not required for this, then please refund my membership.
In late July, I'd had a back-and-forth email convo with the conchair over several days; during that time, my emails were answered very promptly. Now that I've sent them $327 of my hard-earned dollars, they're incommunicado. This is... a bad look.
The membership list on the site hasn't been updated since July 30.
Has anyone else had similar issues with being offered a waitlist membership, buying it, and then not getting confirmation? Has anyone heard from the WFC chair or registrar in the past two weeks? Has Albany been suffering from a massive power and internet outage and I missed the news?
The next time I say I can do RWA in NYC without taking time off from my regular work, tell me I'm wrong. Tell me loudly and firmly.
This post brought to you by my very sore arms from doing a whooooole lot of catch-up work tonight, and more to do tomorrow.
Poor arms. I quit PT too soon, I think, or maybe it just didn't do enough good. I've upgraded my insurance so I'm going to try some fancier physical therapists and see whether they can help more. That means commuting into Manhattan but oh well, arms are worth it, and at least once a week I can do it on a day I'd be in Manhattan anyway.
RWA was mostly exhausting. I didn't get to any program items at all. I went to five cocktail parties in one night and two the following night. I skipped the award ceremony, though I watched from home until the livestream cut out (and cheered tiffanyreisz
). I felt lost and alone in the sea of people I didn't know. I saw a lot of people I probably know on Twitter but didn't recognize. A few people who knew me from Twitter said hello. I met a few people who were really nice. I hung out with a few people I already knew. I wore my pronoun button and it was consistently ignored, including by people I'd just finished explaining it to. Everything was very white and Christian and het and cis
and I felt very uncomfortably marginalized pretty much the whole time, all the more so because my experiences at Readercon were so totally different. Now I'm more wary of going to WFC, where I won't know as many people as I do at Readercon and where there hasn't been a massive cultural change toward treating people like me as human beings, but I don't know whether that's exhaustion anxiety talking.
I got no good sleep last night, and I only know that I slept at all because I had a really unpleasant dream about being sexually assaulted. My SleepBot motion tracker looks like a ventricular fibrillation ECG. I was so exhausted that I burst into tears midday for no reason at all. I pulled myself together to spend a little time with J before he left for a week-long business trip. Then I caffeinated, got work done, went to an absolutely stellar TMBG show
(one of the best I've ever seen, approaching the awesomeness of the 2007 Bowery Ballroom shows but with a totally different vibe; once that wiki page exists I'll put my full comments up there), and came home and got in a quick videochat with Josh and did more work and iced my sad sad arms (and my inexplicably sad left thumb--no idea what's up with that). Now it's nearly 6 a.m. and I don't even know what I'm feeling other than all the way through tired and out the other side. But I think I should sleep.
- thinking about:
body.arms, body.pain, body.sleep, body.tiredness, events.cons, events.cons.rwa, experiences.annoyances, experiences.music, experiences.music.live, experiences.music.tmbg, experiences.work, ideas.gender, mind.dreamtime, mind.feelings.loneliness
Okay, folks who've been to the World Fantasy Convention, talk me through why anyone does this.
* $270 for my half of a shared hotel room (Thursday/Friday/Saturday nights)
* $120 for Amtrak tickets if I buy them now, more if I buy them later
* $275 for convention membership (!)
some unknown amount
$55 for the awards banquet
, probably comparable to the Nebula Banquet price of $80
(and who knows whether the banquet food can be made safe for people with allergies)
* let's say $150 for food over the course of several days without access to a supermarket and a kitchen
$870. At a time when all costs are seen through the filter of impending babyness.
I can't remember who suggested to me that one's publisher is supposed to pick up the tab when one is award-nominated. I would not dream of asking Crossed Genres to do this thing; they have many better uses for that money. It's not the sort of event that PW
would cover, so even if WFC gives press passes (which I'm not sure they do), I couldn't justify requesting one. This is 100% out of pocket.
As far as I can tell, all the membership buys me is access to two tracks of panels and two more of readings, and first crack at banquet tickets (noting that if banquet tickets entirely sell out to members before the con, there's no way for a non-member to get one at the con). I don't really see why I should bother with either. I almost never go to programming at cons except for Readercon*; all cons are barcons to me. If the banquet were some incredibly important part of being a WFA nominee, presumably they'd comp it for the nominees, which they don't. So that cuts
$330 off the price right there. $540 looks somewhat more reasonable for a three-day convention. (
$595 if it turns out the banquet is worth going to, and if banquet tickets are made available to non-members at the convention.) If I need to drop it further I can go up Friday instead of Thursday, which reduces my costs to $400. As far as I can tell from looking at past programs, award nominees get their pins and are generally fêted on Thursdays, and the whole reason I'm going is to enjoy being a nominee... but is that worth an extra day of hotel and restaurant food? Maybe not.* I might make an exception for RWA this year, but that's because it's so refreshing to go to a professional conference; the programming is completely different from what we get at SF cons. Incidentally, to give you an idea of why I think $275 for WFC is so absurdly high, RWA's admission fee ranges from $450 to $675 (depending on whether you're an RWA member and how early you buy a ticket), but that gets you 10 full tracks of workshops specifically aimed at professional development plus access to pitch sessions, pro headshots, meals with keynote speakers who excel in their field, and the mass book-signing, in the company of 4000 writers and publishing professionals. That is a professional conference.
The next question is, would it be worth $400 to me to go to WFC at all, even if Long Hidden
weren't nominated for the WFA? Because if it's not worth $400 as a barconning attendee then it's not worth $900 as a nominee.
Everyone talks about WFC as a place where pros hang out with other pros. That's cool; I know and like a lot of pros. There are plenty of familiar names on the membership list. I'd be willing to pay $400 for a long weekend of socializing with my friends, and even to pay
$595 for that plus being celebrated as the co-editor of an award-worthy book; that sounds like a blast. But to be more specific, people talk about WFC as a place where pros hang out and network
with other pros. The only thing I hate more than networking is being networked at. I'm happy to meet people in the field and get to know them, but once networking-minded folks realize that chatting with me won't get them a more favorable PW
review, they tend to wander off and find someone more productive to network with. Even if I have lots of friends at WFC, I won't really see much of them if their priority is making connections with people they don't know. This sort of setup is not terribly conducive to me having a good time.
So if you've been to WFC, please do tell: is it possible to do it as a three-day barcon, with actual socializing rather than networking, if one already knows a great many of the people who are going? And if you've attended WFC as a WFA nominee, what was the experience like for you at the convention, especially if you'd never been before?
I'm told by a past attendee that one must purchase a membership in order to attend the awards ceremony at all. Even as a nominee. Wow. So that $275 really is not optional.
CORRECTION TO EDIT: The WFC chair (whom I'm happy to regard as an authority on this topic) says that no membership is required for the award ceremony; it's open to the public. And the banquet tickets will be $50 to $55, so I've updated my calculations above accordingly.
I have a second post here
looking at the cost of attending WFC vs. the cost of attending other conventions for award nominees who wouldn't otherwise go. It's not pretty.
Readercon is like my New Year's, in that I say "After Readercon I will totally go low-carb again/get to bed on time/start going to the gym/start meditating again/stick to my daily and weekly schedule". So far I've been doing pretty well on the sleep, and Wednesday and today I went to the gym (trying to get in the M/W/F habit), and yesterday I started Headspace over from day one. I'm still catching up on work but determined to really get and stay on track, and good sleep at good hours is helping with the scheduling. I also ate pasta for dinner and half a bar of chocolate for dessert, so I remain an imperfect human being. It was really tasty and I regret nothing.( Pumping iron, with numbers )
I'm doing Headspace as walking meditation, or on the exercise bike on gym days, so that gets me out of the house and moving around every day. The three of us are also going to try to get in the habit of post-dinner walks on family dinner nights. Yay, solidarity in fitness. :)
So far I think the exercise and meditation is making it a lot easier to calmly wind things down and go to bed when it's bedtime. I have not played a video game in over a week, which is pretty major. I've only had a couple instances of opening Twitter or leaving it open well after I'm supposed to be asleep. Setting up my new phone led to a couple of days of my alarm not waking me (my "sleep" profile in Profile Scheduler+ was blocking alarms, oops), so I've been very well rested if also somewhat late. :) I just need to stay on track.
- thinking about:
behavior.accomplishments, body, body.arms, body.body clock, body.exercise, body.legs, body.pain, body.sleep, body.strength, events.cons, events.cons.readercon, food, food.nutrition, food.nutrition.carbohydrates, stuff.games, stuff.games.video games
Readercon in bullet points.( Lots and lots of bullet points )
Last year I cut way back on my Readercon volunteering and left the concom, and I just now sent an email resigning from the program committee and safety committee. It feels really good to be done, and to go out on such a high note.
- thinking about:
behavior.accomplishments, behavior.hosting, behavior.planning, behavior.volunteering, body.arms, body.body clock, body.digestion, body.legs, body.pain, body.sleep, events.cons, events.cons.readercon, experiences.dancing, experiences.driving, experiences.fun, experiences.joy, experiences.socializing, experiences.transit, ideas.feminism, people.family, people.friends, people.josh, people.kit, people.xtina
A freelance check came in, so I bought men's pants! Men's Wearhouse was having a two-for-one sale and the 31–30 slim fit 100% cotton slacks fit me perfectly. Another gap in my wardrobe has been filled.
Tonight J and I made lentil soup and then I made mint chocolate chip ice. Both came out reasonably well but could have been better. ( Recipes behind the cut. )
Ever wonder whether something is really as awful as you remember? X and I watched Blues Brothers 2000
tonight. It is actually more
awful than we remember. Considerably more. That said, we're now very inspired to hunt down some good live music when we're in New Orleans for World Horror/Stokers Weekend next month. (Will you be there?) And it turned out she hadn't seen the video for "Q.U.E.E.N." so we rectified that as soon as the movie was done, and that made the world considerably better.
Last weekend I got both my inboxes down to zero, and I've kept them there all week. I have also been way WAY more productive at work and more relaxed at home. (I read a book--no, two books! I watched two episodes of DS9
!) I don't think this is coincidence. I really had no idea how much stress I felt looking at unanswered things in my inbox until they weren't there anymore. Now I tab to my inbox, smile, and feel like I really get to choose what I do next--no pressure, no stress. I recommend this highly. (I explain my process in the comments on the DW version of this entry
After consulting with my therp, I'm tentatively planning to go off the Zoloft once Readercon is done. (The timing is not coincidence.) I'll wait a month to make sure I'm doing okay without it, and then try very carefully drinking some flavored tea and see what happens.
Readercon stuff is not actually that stressful right now, because we're in the part I love best: collecting data and building the program. I'm also organizing a really exciting thing for Saturday night that I hope will be stupendously awesome. Yay for friends who know what they're doing and can reassure me that my plans are feasible and unlikely to become "a clusterwhentwopeopleloveeachotherverymuc
h". Yay for feeling much better about trying this new-to-me thing now that I've actually got the ball rolling.
I wonder what I will do with all my free time and energy once Readercon is done. I'll still be on the concom and progcom and safecom, but I'm stepping down as program chair, and that's a huge weight off my shoulders. I don't go dancing anymore, and even if I took it up again, I wouldn't volunteer to nearly the extent that I used to (if at all). I don't cook for Arisia anymore. I have Long Hidden
to co-edit, but that's a freelance project and I'll do it in freelance time. For the first time in a long long while, I will have no unpaid volunteer gigs to occupy me.
Maybe domesticity will be my next thing. It's what I most love doing right now: bustling around the house, talking with X and J about household projects, cooking, building and buying things, having people over, family time. More of that would be really nice.
Maybe I'll knit more, read more, do a better job of keeping up with the rewatch.
Or maybe I'll just improvise, be spontaneous, do whatever I feel like doing. I'm not very good at spontaneity, but the only way to get better at it is to make space for it.
Augh, is it really getting light out? I am not doing very well with sticking to anything resembling my sleep schedule. Having a week off from work isn't going to help with this. Oh well.
- thinking about:
behavior.accomplishments, behavior.organization, behavior.planning, behavior.volunteering, body.body clock, events.cons, events.cons.readercon, experiences.drugs, experiences.drugs.zoloft, experiences.movies, experiences.music, food, food.cooking, food.cooking.ice cream, food.cooking.soup, food.cooking.soup.lentil, food.recipes, stuff.clothes, stuff.tech
The third quadruple batch of vegan chocolate cakes is in the oven. I am AWESOME.( Vegan chocolate cakes, four at a time )
This cake has a nice crust on top, almost brownie-like, and is fairly fluffy and very chocolatey. To my taste it's quite sweet; cutting the sugar by a third would do it no harm. It goes brilliantly with raspberry jam or other tangy fruit.
I suppose I should have something other than cake for dinner.
Doing four pans at once makes this super-quick! Managing a dozen batches of brownies tomorrow should be no problem. I heart my lovely DeLonghi mixer, I do. Now off to write up an ingredient list.