Friday, October 23, 2015

Pinteresty #UnCommonBodies Goodness!

This is so much fun! The other authors from #UnCommonBodies and I have all designed images from our stories. And my friend Daniel made a Pinterest board for us. It looks so neat to see the different ideas represented all in one place like this. It's a very quirky anthology, and it's gonna be really fun.

Step right up to the modern freakshow — We have mermaids, monsters, and more. You won’t be disappointed, but you may not get out alive.

#UnCommon Bodies presents a collection of 21 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.

#UnCommon Bodies Includes

Phantom Pain by Philip Harris
The Zealot by Chris Godsoe
Undead Cyborg Girl by Kim Wells
Made for This by Sessha Batto
Rudy and Deidre by Robb Grindstaff
Skin by Brent Meske
The Well-Rounded Head by Sally Basmajian
Mermaids by Robert Pope
All the Devils by Keira Michelle Telford
Scars: The First Session by Jordanne Fuller
We is We by Michael Harris Cohen
Poetry by Deanne Charlton
Reserved by SM Johnson
Ruby by Bob Williams
Daedalus’ Daughter by PK Tyler
Don’t Touch Me by Bey Deckard
In Her Image by Vasil Tuchkov
UnTamed by Laxmi Hariharan
From the Inside by Daniel Arthur Smith
Saltwater Assassin by Samantha Warren
Unbreakable Heart by Rebecca Poole

Check out the full sized versions of the promo images here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

UnCommon Bodies

Coming November 24, my story for the #UnCommonBodies anthology!!  

When she wakes up undead after receiving a cyborg assassin upgrade surgical procedure, Undead Girl's life is forever changed. Is it for the better? She has all the skills, but she needs a job, she needs some friends, and she needs to remember who she is. Part 1 of the Cyborg Story trilogy.

“Though both are bound in the spiral dance, I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess.” ~Donna Haraway

“Why not both?” ~Sean Wells

Monday, October 19, 2015

Roller Coaster Indie Life

Do you remember that late 80s movie Parenthood? There's a scene where Grandma has mentioned how much she loves roller coasters-- the slow buildup, the excitement at reaching the top, the thrill and throwing your hands up of the race through the scary bits? Then right after, they show the characters reacting as though they are on an actual roller coaster.

That roller coaster is simply life sometimes. 

Personally, I've always been a fan of the more horizontal rides. The ones that spin and whirl (like the Scrambler, or the Tilt A Whirl) but don't have quite the range of the highs and lows the roller coaster features. Ferris Wheels are good, too-- they get up pretty high, and you can feel that thrill of something that looks risky but really isn't.

The last few weeks have been roller coaster-ish. Lots of build up and some steep turns. Thinking of moving, applying for jobs, finding a narrator for Mariposa. But also just trying to live the day-to-day grind of exercise, family responsibilities, friends.

My online community includes a lot of people who, on a daily basis, make me smile, make me laugh, and make me read thoughtful, interesting articles. I am informed on politics, science, and social stuff that truly makes me feel smarter than average.

And I know some online folks are being constantly bombarded by that roller coaster, too. Demands made on them, deadlines to meet, scary reviews, the uncertainty of the indie world where you have to do it all yourself. The thrill of the indie world where you GET TO DO IT ALL YOURSELF.

Anyway. I just wanted to remind you all that I truly appreciate you. We've got this.

We're gonna indie the sh*t out of this. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

UnCommon Bodies

I'm going to be in a most amazing anthology. It's called #UnCommon Bodies, and it's due out November 24th. Seriously: I have talked with the other authors in this anthology, and Pavarti, who is the curator, is one amazing editor/beta reader/story picker. (Her story in the anthology is also really cool). Check out this cover!! And go follow more info on the GoodReads page here. Someone said it was like Meghan Trainor met Clive Barker. I love the eye in the eggshell. It looks nicely poached.

My story is going to be the Undead Cyborg Girl story I've already talked about a little bit. The plot synopsis is here:

When she wakes up undead after receiving a cyborg assassin upgrade surgical procedure, Undead Girl's life is forever changed. Is it for the better? She has all the skills, but she needs a job, she needs some friends, and she needs to remember who she is. Part 1 of the Cyborg Story trilogy.
It's  part one of the trilogy, and I want to release parts 2 & 3 when the anthology comes out. I need to get rocking on it. Part 2 is about 2/3 done, but Part 3 is still all in my head. Let me say this about it: it's an unusual story about Cyborgs. And the Undead. There's a little bit of romance, a lot of supernatural characters, more cyborgs than you can shake a stick at. And lots of great coffee.

Someone shared this picture, below, to our group about the stories. And I think it's apt, and a great summary of what we're going to be sharing with y'all. The other authors are slap damn bangerific, and I seriously can't even wait til this book is out.

Oh, and ARCs will be available to people who promise a fair review, so if you're interested in getting an ARC for that purpose, go follow me on Facebook and see when that gets announced. 

Scaling the (Ivory) Tower, Storming the Skyscrapers

I have never worked in Corporate Culture.

I have always worked in Corporate Culture.

Let me explain the contradiction.  When I was fifteen years old, I got my first job—a busperson at a very nice restaurant in Destin, Florida. Bussers were considered the entry level to the service industry, with the waiters that could sometimes make up to five hundred dollars a night as the coveted levels of skill. The restaurant served live Maine lobster, and I remember my shock as a poor kid that people would order that expensive dish and leave half a lobster, completely uneaten, on the plate to throw away.

After the shock of realizing the differences b/w people who could order lobster & throw it away and those who served it, I strove to climb out of the service-industry poverty that my family had lived in my whole life. I did pretty well in school, joined clubs, took the standardized tests. I scored in the 98% on those tests, but for some reason, slipped through the cracks when guidance counselors saw the scores, and I didn’t receive the scholarships and grant offers that I now know I should have qualified for. I worked a few more years in the service industry before discovering the Pell Grant, and then I started college. I met my husband to be, who was a beginner in the Navy, and we married. I kept attending college, having found a dream of being a college professor.

College is a fantasy of ivy covered walls and lofty philosophical thoughts. 

Good jobs are the carrot at the end of a varying length stick, and my four year in Washington State was beautiful. It had the ivy covered old buildings, a gorgeous lawn and a fountain that co-eds spread out around on warm summer days, reading Whitman and arguing about poetic meter. It seemed I was on that track.

Graduate school began the corporate style education model. I received assistantships that trained me to work as a professor and paid for my education. It was great! I was learning how to be a good teacher, and I loved it! The first time I left a classroom that I had been solely in charge of planning the curriculum for, a lesson on Carl Jung and archetypes, I remember grinning like an love-struck paramour for the full forty minute drive home. I smiled so hard my face hurt.

Graduate school trained me well to be a teacher, and I studied side careers (Tech Writing) that I hoped would make me “more marketable” as a professor. Marketing myself was my goal, and I learned every skill I could to make that happen. HTML, Powerpoint, Adobe products—all of these were my favorite hobbies in addition to studying the lofty literary pursuits of a college professor. Practical skills were to supplement my teaching of Emily Dickenson poetry one day.

Then I finally received my PhD and tried to get jobs on the greater Ivory Tower circuit. I was also what they call “Geographically Limited”—because of the family job that paid the bills, I could not go on the “wider market” that Academic PhDs (especially in the humanities) must go on. Applying for a tenure-track position in Alaska just to get my foot in the door was an impossibility.

So I went on the “Adjunct Track.” Working for small liberal arts colleges in the area where I lived, I got to teach a subject that I love and met some amazing students. I received teaching awards, tried to turn my Adjunct Track into something that was sort of parallel to the Tenure Track, just with my enthusiasm and having fun. Would hosting a Black Literature Read-In that got media coverage and hundreds of students to spend a day reading poems and short fiction from authors they had never read before get me extra points towards a “Real” position in Academia? Maybe. Probably not. But it was fun. And I was trying to have fun while being an Adjunct, which is likely beneath “Substitute Teacher” on the pay and prestige scale of the Teaching Tower.

Then budget cuts hit. Louisiana trimmed the “extra” pay of people like me (who frankly was making so little that it seems ridiculous that I was considered a significant cost, but it happened.) The University where I worked cut back on course offerings and I decided, instead, to devote my time to growing my own business.

My husband and I had purchased a rental property, fixed it up, and were growing that business, looking to expand it with more cool little historic houses to fix up and rent to young people (especially) who weren’t ready to buy their own home. I learned a lot of new skills there—how to manage a team of contractors (some of whom were trying to milk us for as much money with as little work as possible—some of whom I learned how to fire). How to touch every surface of a beautiful custom 1930s home and restore it to something gorgeous that people clamor to live in. How to manage the the sticky paint stripper that I called “Alien Blood” after the acidic Queen in the sci-fi movies, that burnt your skin and made your head spin if you were in a confined space (they’re always confined spaces). I learned to Manage Projects.

I also learned that I knew business. I still know business. 

The business of Academia, the Ivory Tower, is to educate, yes, and to talk about beautiful ideas and art and how to write a chemical equation for soap. But it’s also about marketing a product for the future job world. And in that, Academia today is a corporate power larger than you can imagine. There are wheels within wheels and tiny cogs that support those wheels, and it’s all a Corporate Culture, with the great Corpus of the College lumbering through the world, slouching towards perfection and/or Jerusalem.

So these days, I’m looking at other ways of using the ridiculous amount of skills that I have acquired over the years. Yes, I can dissect a poem in a matter of minutes and teach you the history of Women’s Literature since women first started trying to pick up that pen and fight with the mighty. But I can also build online curriculums with intricate web platforms to reach students (of all kinds) around the world, teach them with multi-media that will amaze you, balance a budget, fire people who can’t figure out how to stay in that budget, stay on schedule and adjust the schedule when it’s not working, give a HELL of a presentation/speech. I can be a team player or I can be a self-motivated sole-worker on a project that can dream the big dreams of achievement.

I learned it all in a Corporate Culture, a Service Industry, and a world where the dreaming spires of the Ivory Tower are just that for most people: dreams. Nowadays, I’d like to actually use all of that knowledge to excel at a new kind of job. I just hope someone gives me chance, and looks beyond that fantasy of the rumpled college professor dreaming of poems and following her red pen across campuses of rhetorical arguments to see the savvy businessperson who has pulled herself out of poverty to have a weird skill set that seems oddly targeted. I can adapt to ANY culture. I’ve done it before.

I’ve worked for Corporate Culture my whole life. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Facing Change. Transforming Fear.

Yesterday, my daughter & I talked about change. She has moved into a new type of schooling this year, and her dad is retiring from his 20+ year position. All of this means we are facing huge changes in the next year. Everything my 10 year old kiddos has ever known is about to be different. 
For her dad and I, this has been a blip. We have missed our family and dear friends in San Antonio, but that city has always been HOME. It's been a sweet dive into cool green water on the hottest day in the year every time we come home. It's been lying on cool, white sheets to take that needed rest after a long day, not missing out on any tasks because there's nothing you needed to do otherwise. Comfort, and rest. 
We've been even looking at buying a house in the same basic neighborhood where we lived when the twins were born. We will slide back into the routine of visiting with friends, going to hear the same acoustic musicians on the weekend, heading to the zoo or the Japanese Tea Gardens (my favorite) when we need a little Civic Appreciation time. All the things we do when we come home, we can do every weekend. 
I've missed the flavor of San Antonio-- the way people standing in a line to grab groceries feel like friends on the same path as you. Yeah, maybe if you pushed it they'd give you a funny look but there is a congeniality that I don't find the same in other places. Don't get me wrong-- almost anywhere you go in the South has a generally friendly vibe but San Antonio is the friendliest, kindest, most gentle big City I've ever seen. 
But all of this is still Change to my kiddos. They will leave behind friends (if you can leave behind anyone in this day of Skype and IM). They'll have to shop in different places, and the allure of "weekend vacation" hot spots like the Riverwalk and the Tower will fall into the common, everyday sights. Change is scary. 
Even for the grown ups-- thinking about a new routine, new things and people to learn-- can feel pretty scary. Lying awake and contemplating all the potential new faces to meet in the next year or so, the adventure of packing up our things and driving that long day back to home... it can feel a little scary. But FEAR is a four letter word. We will face that feeling and then come back to another four letter word: LOVE. 
And let me tell you MY secret: I can't wait