Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Enough

image of two thoughtful silhouette heads



















Fighting back tears, again,

for the thousandth time in this pandemic world--
I think of all the mental health ads I see on a daily basis.
Mostly for meds that have a long list of insidious side effects.
But I’ve cried more this year than in the ten years prior.
The void is still there.

And how hard it was to find someone last year for
my 15-year-old who thought
her being gone forever might be less of a burden
than simply asking for help.
How many weeks and weeks of unreturned phone calls
and searching just to find a doctor, and finally the one we found
sees every conversation through a lens that doesn’t quite fit her…
who seems poised to cause the very problem he strives to fight…
I tell him he has a hammer,
and all of his problems are body-image nails,
but how many won’t argue?
How often does he shove someone into HIS narrow box?

I can say that I’m
really okay. But
everything is balanced on this sharp edge
and some days it cuts and I have to take a moment to collect myself…
maybe more than a moment,
and I think of others who always walk that razor,
who have a darkness inside of them that they fight,
long, exhausted battles that end in a draw, most days.

And I think of 290,000 families in the US alone
who now have an empty place where love should be.
How many more will there be before the year is over?
It is already enough.

How many deep, cleansing breaths can we really take?
How many times do I have to watch a strong woman
be berated for her honest admissions of sorrow, of weariness,
by someone who barely knows her but feels entitled to scold?
Yes, she’s capable of defending herself but why should she have to?
Enough.

We are all of us breathing, pausing,
in this world, this place that tries to
shove us into the darkness with every hand
and we are holding that breath and fighting back sharp tears.
Always walking that razor edge.  

I want to yell: “stop” and
hold out my hands to pull you up.
But there is no time. No place.
And my heart just hurts.

The poet once wrote “ah love, let us be true to one another!
And yet we still falter, still lie, still reach out to find no help.

When will it be really enough?

KAW Dec 2020

*Image by Benjavisa Ruangvaree, licensed by Adobe Stock, Standard License. Do not reuse. 


Tuesday, August 25, 2020

What Rough Beast....

I'm slowly dragging myself towards creative writing again... one small slouch at a time. It's gonna take a while, I think, so bear with me. 

I've been thinking about feminist sexytime romance... so much of what we see is humorless, as though feminists are truly not interested in romance. This is letting others define it for us. Which is not good, nope. A lot of the time if you look up "romance" it either shows stereotypical images of woman's likes and dislikes as though we still only dig housework (the idea that feminist love stories are men washing dishes, because sure, that's the only frame of reference we have). I was thinking also about how many women flooded the theaters when Magic Mike (both 1 & 2) came out-- and the types of imagery those very sexy guys used to appeal to women. In the 70s, there was the great debate about sexuality and feminism where a lot of folks argued that heteronormative sexuality and romance was inherently oppressive to women. 

And I disagree. It is if only men write it for us. It is if we write it using the old tropes that were defined hundreds of years ago, only. It doesn't have to be, though. 

I think there's a place for romantic stories that have feminist protagonists-- both male and female. There have been some strides made in popular culture, but it's still the same old romcom tropes of the "ugly girl" who takes off her glasses and suddenly is hot, suddenly loves the difficult guy that she kind of hates, too. (I see you, all Sandra Bullock and Katherine Heigel movies). 

What does feminist romance of a sexy sort look like to you? It's definitely not poorly researched 50 Shades style work, but might include elements that appealed to the people who ate that series up with a spoon. 

I dunno. But I'm thinking a lot about this issue right now, and want to get back to my undead cyborg story. It's just hard shifting from academic teacher-y stuff back to the fun, "for me" stuff.  

Monday, June 29, 2020

Coming Soon

Well the bad news is that the gig I've been doing for the last four years (teaching at a high school in Texas) is over. I loved teaching there and I learned SO MUCH about a lot of things. It was very much a growth opportunity and I am not at all sad to have done it and to have moved on. 

The good news is: this means I have freed up a ton of time to try to get back to the CREATIVE writing. I looked here today at my sad little creative countdown tickers on the right over there and abandoned so many baby stories because my teaching load was just too heavy to keep up the writing. So I'm going to be revisiting the stories that were in-progress, especially Orpheus and the Butterfly, very, very soon. Now that I figured out my passwords and user names for all my old blogs, here we go. :) 

In the meantime, hope if you're still following along you're having a great summer! I realize that the current 2020 lockdown is not great for most people, but I'm trying optimism. At least we have a lot of time to contemplate great plot twists in our fictional worlds. I'm not sure how they can out-pace reality, but I can try. 


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Mosaics is Live!

The print paperback (trade paperback size) for the Mosaics Anthology is live now! We worked really hard to get the formatting all perfect by Monday because we had understood that we must have it submitted to the printer by the 1st or it wouldn't be ready by our target March 8 date.

And we did such a good job, the printer cleared it already!! So even though the Kindle pre-orders aren't ready yet, the paperback is! Yay!!

We already have our first review. Author Shebat Legion called it "Disturbingly Inspirational." Which I"ll totally take. 

I'm thrilled. Seriously. 


Go grab a print copy here. 

And you can see the book trailer here:



Friday, February 12, 2016

Racism & Privilege and the "Drive By" Racist Meangirl

In crafting the intersectional feminist anthology that I'm working on, my writing partners & I are committed to finding writers from communities not always well represented in indie publishing, or anthologies, or just about any literary scene. So we wrote a call for submissions that stated exactly what we were hoping for, being specific about welcoming womanist and racially intersectional feminism in addition to GLBT and disabled stories.

A lot has happened during the process, including getting somewhere near 500+ submissions from all over the world. The anthology we're putting out (anthologies, actually, since we committed to doing two after I saw how many we had gotten) is amazing. Potentially award winning. And I say that not as a result of my writing but as a result of the response we got.

But what also happened was that yesterday, a now former Facebook friend decided to attack me. It was kind of out of the blue, and surprised me because said former friend would likely, if you asked her, consider herself pretty progressive. Certainly not a racist.

But she said my acknowledgement of my own personal privilege (because of which I can afford to front the money on an indie publishing venture and pay the writers with actual cash, not "exposure," which we all know is BS) was me being desperate to "hang out at the rap kids table." That I was trying too hard. That if I wanted to really help "them" I should donate money or something (to a nebulous "them" and not the people I actually do help in several ways every single day.)

I won't write a long bit about how I grew up really underprivileged, how I score every time on that "how privileged are you" quiz that goes around in a range you wouldn't believe. With a single mom, a deadbeat dad, and times being homeless, I get to check a lot of boxes. But I've grown up, and through my husband & my business ventures, done pretty well. And so I've reached a place where I can, as Kevin Spacey said, send the elevator back down.


I also spent more than 10 years studying women's & minority literature and social culture in college, received a PhD and read countless hours of theory on race and privilege in our society. Including the Marxism from which my former friend was throwing darts at me. In that study, I hoped to teach at a college level and help expose students to amazing literature and history that they might not have heard. I am not teaching at college, but I'm still trying to use those studies, and that's where all of my experience, training, and love of writers like Zora Neale Hurston and Ralph Ellison have sent me.

The racism implicit in the former friend's assumption that people of color equate to "kids at the rap table" and that I was trying to fit in with my coolness by talking about things better left to them... it just blew me away. It is not just people of color who should be addressing the race problems in this country. We ALL need to be talking about it. All the time. Because people are dying on the street and in jail cells. Indigenous women are disappearing at an alarming rate and people don't talk about it. Trans women and men are murdered and there has been a defense used of "I was worried because they were trans" that has been considered a fair defense!

It's not just the communities who are being oppressed who should do this work. And to imply that I am just trying to be cooler by doing so, or that I'm somehow desperate for attention.... I've thought about it all day and night, how to respond to that. I want people to know this: it's not okay to write a check to some "them" organization and get your feel goods because you're doing some kind of "social justice" by sending an occasional tax deduction towards charity. Stop turning it into an us and "Them." Because when YOU, yes you, nameless former friend, do that, you're continuing the hatred and vile rhetoric that let people like some of our current presidential candidates thrive.

So yes. I will continue the work I'm doing. It's not just being aware of a somewhat troubling trend on Facebook to only show me white "suggested friends" and all that the realization implies about how algorithms are set up for how we are "similar." Social networking might not be changing the world (although I would argue with that, a lot, but just not here). But doing things like sponsoring a charity that is out to end Violence Against Women world wide? And PAYING writers for their work? Writers who don't have a ton of venues already directed at them? All of that is social justice.


And I would rather sit at that table than with the Mean Girls every. single. day. 

Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 in review

I was busy the last couple of weeks & didn't post on my "book birthday" (Dec 24) that Mariposa has been published now for a year. That was the official start, last year, of my 2015.



We felt out of it last year on New Year's Eve and went home early to watch the Brad Pitt movie Fury. While the neighbors blasted fireworks, we watched a movie with all kinds of explosions. It was a bit odd, to be honest. That's been another sort of theme of this year-- not fury, but feeling a little out of touch, socially. Not on purpose or for any reason other than just-- well, our couch is comfy. Our TV set up a little too awesome. Luckily, my kids & my spouse & I all like hanging out with each other, and we have two snuggly cats who prefer us to stay home, too. If I am making a resolution, one of them is to be better about doing things out of the house. Meeting up with old friends over the holidays reminded me that I do love being social. I just have to do it my way....

The early part of last year found me writing Hoodoopocalypse. It was the fastest I've ever written a novel, and I enjoyed it very much. The group of writers who "felt weird" was having a blast, and I would easily crank out 1,000 or more words a day. I thought that was the way you did it now after having written your first novel-- you just could flow that easily. After that one was done, I found that it's not as easy every single time. I'm doing my best to keep up a reasonable pace, but two novels circulating in the space of a year still "a'int bad."

One of the best things this year has been meeting a lot of new imagina-- online friends. As part of my drive to get to know more writers, I followed a few of my favorites online. Then I met more. Now I have some new, dear friends and a few loyal fans who keep me on my toes and remind me that I should be writing. Yes, yes. I know.

Upcoming in 2016: I have two job prospects, and I dearly hope I get one of them. If I don't, I'll survive, but it would be very nice to be back in the classroom again. I miss it-- I miss students, even on their "do I really have to write a paper" days. The next few weeks will be big as far as that goes, or they will fizzle out if I don't get a nibble on one of the two for interviews. Antici-


--pation is the word, then.



We're prepping our house for the move back to San Antonio, and will miss the friends we have here, but are looking forward to purging all the build up of the last 10 years. Getting rid of the toys the kiddos never play with. Me getting rid of something, I'm sure, that I never bother with, too. I'm going to try the Japanese method of "tidying up." Purge purge purge.

I'm also in the process of reading stories, poems, etc, for the Indie Women Anthology that my friend Pavarti & I are putting together. We have gotten a lot of great submissions already, and we still have a whole month 'til the last date of the submission period. It's a project close to my heart in that we're donating the proceeds to the Pixel Project to End Violence Against Women. I've already seen an amazing community forming around the Facebook group for it, and I'm so psyched at the potential to really fill a niche that seems to be there. Women's writing that provides a market and a place for people to actually make something happen for charity. Social activism through social networking, FTW!

The year ahead: big change. Good things, I hope. Starting tonight when we're going to a friend's house for our last "Redneck New Year's" which will entail a LOT of fireworks, black eyed peas, and socializing.

2016: Let's Do This Thing! 


Saturday, December 12, 2015

Lee Lee’s Cajun Eggs Benedict Sunday Brunch Recipe

Lee Lee’s Cajun Eggs Benedict Sunday Brunch Recipe


Ingredients
1 pound andouille sausage, diced in ½ inch cubes
1 dozen fresh eggs (if you can get the ones from the Farmer’s Market, everyone is always impressed by that)
6 English Muffins, toasted and split and buttered
1 pound of butter, salted
1 package of the really good Hollandaise sauce mix (because honestly, you don’t have all day to be making sauces. Just follow the directions on the packet, even that woman from carpool line can figure it out).

2-3 vine ripe tomatoes (have your housekeeper dice these and remove all the seeds while you have a mimosa. Have her make the mimosa too. Heavy on the Prosecco, please, we have another bottle in the liquor refrigerator out in the garage. Use the fancy crystal champagne glasses Maw Maw gave me for Christmas last year because we are not trashy around here).

Send the kids to their rooms to play the Nintendo-Box so they will get out from underfoot. Seriously, I do not need y’all in the kitchen while I am trying to cook! Send your husband back to the living room when he tries to steal one of your English muffins.  Surely there is an LSU football game on or golf or something! I will call you when it’s ready!

Have the housekeeper pour you another mimosa while you find the special French iron skillet you saw on that Paula Deen cooking show last year and just had to have. The one you haven’t used yet.

One more mimosa won’t hurt while you wash the pan out because you have to do everything around here.


Put two sticks of butter in your frying pan. Melt those right up. Keep the heat high and toss all that yummy andouille sausage in there until it browns. If you live somewhere sad that doesn’t have andouille, just use Polish sausage or whatever you can find. 

(Bless your heart).

Once the meat is cooking, prepare to poach the eggs. Your housekeeper should do this because you need to take a break from all this effort. Have a seat at the counter while she poaches the 12 eggs perfectly. You’ve already made the hollandaise sauce (which of course is why you’re so exhausted already you need to put your feet up). The sauce should be waiting while your housekeeper grabs the pretty China plates out of the China Cabinet in the dining room. You’ll have her hand wash these later because we don’t put those in the dishwasher; I don’t care what that lady at Dillard’s says; these are hand wash only. Use the good silver, too. This is Sunday Brunch and we celebrate.

The andouille sausage should be perfectly browned now. Remove from heat and toss the diced tomatoes into the mix. Toss gently so you don’t squish the tomatoes. (It doesn’t matter if your kids don’t like tomatoes because the little bas—angels— aren’t going to eat this anyway and are going to beg for cereal after you put forth all this effort).

Place two buttered English muffins on each plate, scatter the sausage & tomato mixture on top. Have the housekeeper put a poached egg on top or to the side so it looks pretty on each half of the muffins. Pour a lot of hollandaise on top of the entire mixture, then sprinkle Slap Ya Mama seasoning on top, for pretty. Not too much, just enough.

If you have any fresh (not freeze dried, don’t even think about pulling that mess out with me) green onions or scallions chopped up, put a couple of those on top too.

Have another mimosa and share your delicious Cajun Eggs Benedict with someone who deserves a great brunch. This recipe serves between 6-12, depending on how you split up the meat & tomato mixture.  Maybe invite a few ladies from the book club. If you do that, be sure to have more than one extra bottle of Prosecco, too.

Go take a nap because Lord knows in a few hours the house is gonna be a mess and you gotta supervise the kids and take them to school tomorrow.  Have the housekeeper clean up the kitchen while you nap. Sure it’s Sunday and she was planning to go home to her family but she can still get there after brunch. Have her stay longer to watch the kids and keep them quiet because all that cooking gave you a headache.


Friday, December 11, 2015

Mariposa Audio Book


I have totally forgotten to post this offer on the blog.

 My Mariposa audio book, narrated by the amazing Renata Friedman, is available on Audible, right now

And if you get a brand new membership to Audible, and use your first free credit to buy Mariposa, and then you send me a copy of the receipt showing your purchase along with your address, I'll send you a FREE print copy of both Mariposa and (when the publisher gets it to me) Hoodoopocalypse!!  I'll also throw in a free copy of the Mariposa prequel Lady in Blue.

So go check it out, get a membership to Audible today, and listen to Mariposa on your long holiday drives. You can get the app free on your phones, and it's an amazing way to pass the time instead of listening to "Baby it's Cold Outside" YET AGAIN.

If you're an I-Tunes person, you can find it there, too. The Audible offer above doesn't apply, but you still get an amazingly performed book. And my eternal gratitude.....

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Book Blab Today: Slipstream!

A few writers & I are doing a new thing where we are talking about different types of writing, the challenge of indie publishing, etc. It's on a new platform Twitter is creating called Blab. If you have a Twitter account already, it's easy to sign in and watch us. It's not so much about sales or promotion, but the nitty gritty of the craft-- it's writing talk, mostly.

Today's chat will be about defining "Slipstream" fiction, persistence in spite of or because of negatives in publishing, and anything else we can come up with. It's pretty fun, and if you come during the live stream, you can chat with us, too, ask questions, etc. Come hang out if you have an hour free today! Come check it out!

Our "old" blabs are here on  YouTube where you can see what we've talked about before, if you're interested in that, too. 

Oh, and just for fun, here's last week's blab:


Come Play With Us!! 


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Blog Tour!

For December's release of the Mariposa Audiobook, and in honor of Mariposa's ONE YEAR book birthday, I'm going on a blog tour! I'll be doing interviews, having reviews, etc, on various awesome blogs all over the Internet. The first one, today, is on Mythical Books, and they'll be talking about my sources for Pinspiration for Mariposa. You can see the Pins I made for the locations.

You can also sign up to win one of five free downloads on Audible of the amazing audio version of Mariposa, narrated by the brilliant Renata Friedman.

Finally, check out the banner links above where there's a Rafflecopter to win the FREE KINDLE FIRE! That I'm giving away as part of the big December promos!



Let's Do This!!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Kosa Press Interview with Yours Truly

Pavarti Tyler is a force of nature. She just about always has about forty oars in the water, and is a bundle of energy and fun. When she asked me to be interviewed in the Kosa Press series on Women in Sci-Fi, I was like "HECK YEAH."

Then I got the questions, and they were awesome. Sometimes the typical "blog interview" can get kind of the same, and even when both interviewer & interviewee are trying their hardest, it's just bleh. But I loved the rapport and the funny vibe we managed to pull off. It all started with Pavarti imagining that I have my very own Gimp in the basement to take out my frustrations on-- and I told her nah, he's in the kitchen doing dishes.

Seriously. Go check this interview out and laugh with me, then think about why we HAVEN'T had 9 women on the Supreme Court yet and let's DO THIS!!


Sunday, November 22, 2015

BookBlab!


And now for something completely different. 

I never thought I'd be a video person. Vlogs, or video on the Internet, just didn't seem like a "me" thing. I don't love my voice, and I always think I'm ridiculously unphotogenic. But my writer-friend Laxmi Hariharan told me about this new platform that Twitter has created called Blab. I was intrigued, and we've done two of them now, talking about books with other writer friends.



I'm hooked. Laxmi & I are planning to do more, as long as it stays fun. Right now we have future video-cast Blabs scheduled for a couple of weeks. You can find the subscription schedule here at our Twitter page, and a video playlist on YouTube, too. It's really fun-- like having a chat in a hip coffee shop with smart people that just happens to also be intercontinental. Digital. Cyborgian. Brilliant.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Reincarnation & Alternate Universes: A Theory

These are the very words she uses to describe her life...

She said a good day
Ain't got no rain
She said a bad day's when I lie in bed
And think of things that might have been...
"Slip Sliding Away" Paul Simon, 1975



Sometimes, you'll hear a song or see a face that reminds you of another life you might have lived. If you had taken that one path differently, that life lies shimmering just beyond your reach.

This isn't melancholy or regret, just thoughts about alternate timelines. 

Each step we take causes a quantum state of "might have been" to slide right past us. We hardly notice them, these alternate lives. This is actual scientific theory, but you know, I think it's also the root of a lot of world religious beliefs.  Not only are we reincarnated in many lives but we're living many lives right this second. And a new one this next second.

That smiling beauty at the bookstore, looking at you with longing in their eyes? A different word, another path, and you would be with them, instead of who you are now. Would it have been better? Worse? Somewhere, some WHEN, it is. Somewhere, you took that step and you live an alternate life. 

Isn't that interesting? The thought that there are multiple copies of you out there? Some of them aren't that different. They chose to eat scrambled eggs this morning instead of corn cereal. Big deal. Some of them live in entirely different cities, have entirely different careers. That fleeting thought of change you had once? Some other you took it. They went skydiving, they joined the Peace Corps, they got married young, they pursued their PhD, they are a waitress in a dive bar and they go to the beach during the day, sun-kissed and smelling like coconut sunscreen.

Honestly, this life I have right now I'm 99.9% happy with. There are choices I could have made that would have been a little different, a little better. There are some that could have been a lot worse. I would have liked to finish a few things a bit faster. It would have been (would still be) nice for my career path to have gone a bit differently. More winter beach time would be, would have been, amazing. I would not have dated that one guy. You know the one-- the one that rubbed all the innocence off, that broke pieces of your heart into tiny bits. You put them back together, but never quite the same.

But sometimes I catch a sliding door, a crack in the timeline, and I see a vision of the me I would be, could be, if that other step had been taken. This one I'm on now is amazing, and it's entirely possible that other one would have been sadder, lonelier. But it's still over there, hovering out of my consciousness.

Other lives. Live all of them to your fullest. Every single one.

*********
Ah! somehow life is bigger after all
Than any painted angel, could we see.
Oscar Wilde, Humanitad

*********

Friday, November 13, 2015

Dystopian Authors Collide Today!


If I didn't have my head screwed on tight, I'd forget where it was. Is that how that saying goes? I feel like I'm messing it up.

Today is a big launch party for a fellow author and a bunch of us are getting together and having fun. The party even includes the giveaway of an actual KINDLE. Seriously. There are a lot of other prizes happening, including books, and whatever else someone wants to toss your way. There will even be incredibly witty discussions of THINGS. Unimaginable things. Dark things. Things that will eat away at your soul and....

Wait. What happened there?

I shouldn't listen to those horror podcasts at night.

Anyway. Go sign up for the party, and enter to win, and all that jazz. 



Tuesday, November 10, 2015

#UnCommonBodies Trailer and Book Party


Celebrate the release of this collection of 20 beautifully irreverent stories which blend the surreal and the mundane. Together, the authors explore the lives of the odd, the unbelievable, and the impossible. Imagine a world where magic exists, where the physical form has the power to heal or repulse, where a deal with the devil means losing so much more than your soul.

Featuring Authors: Philip Harris, Sessha Batto, Robb Grindstaff , Brent Meske, Sally Basmajian, Robert Pope, Keira Michelle Telford, Jordanne Fuller, Michael Harris Cohen, Deanne Charlton, P.K. Tyler, Bey Deckard, Vasil Tuchkov, Laxmi Hariharan, Samantha Warren, Rebecca Poole, Daniel Arthur Smith, S.M. Johnson, Kim Wells, Christopher Godsoe, and Bob Williams.



I can't believe I haven't shared this here!! Where has my brain been? Here's the book trailer promo video for the #UnCommonBodies anthology, which you can actually pre-order now!!

I did a couple of other promos for some of the individual stories. Mine is first, for my UndeadGirl story. I love this one so much.
'

Then there's the promo for a story by author Jordanne Fuller, which looks amazing, and I can't wait to read. 

I've offered to do promos for all the stories, so there may be more eventually. These are so much fun to do. I told them in a way, doing a promo video is just my form of relaxing, the way people knit while they're watching TV.

Here. I made you a sweater. I mean, a video. 

The launch party is shaping up, too.

Go RSVP to it here on Facebook.

There will be some amaaaaaazing prizes, as well as cool hanging out with friends.