Transformative Sex Panel

May 15, 2010

Just a heads up that I’m going to be a guest speaker at Coyote Con on Saturday, May 22nd at 1PM EST on the Transformative Sex panel, along with
Teresa Wymore, David Sklar, and Joely Sue Burkhart.

The idea for the panel came from a post that Joely did earlier this year about how sex can be used to further both the plot and your character’s journey through the story.

To attend any of the chats at Coytoe Con you have to be registered but registration is free and you can do that here

All the chat sessions are held over the weekends and I’ve attended a few and I’ve been impressed with the quality of the chats. I’m hoping this will become an annual event.

If you’ve missed chats, on this page you’ll find the transcripts. Some of the chats have been on artificial intelligence and sex, costumes in fiction, creating religions and worlds, etc. Check it out!

I’ve finally started draft of 4,500 word short story I want to submit at the end of the month. And I’m getting ready for Wiscon which is now only two weeks away! Creating worksheets for Tarot Workshop, mulling over structure and topics for panel I’m moderating, etc, etc, etc.

Again, where is the darn time going! May 15th!?! Really!?! Already!?!

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News and more news…

April 28, 2010

Wow, hadn’t realized it’s been over two week since my last crazy post. The one where I was screaming my head off.

I’ve got some news to share, so here goes.

First off, I received confirmation from editor D. L. King that my short story “Elementary, My Dear Sir”, will be in the upcoming anthology called Spank! It will be released sometime in the fall.

Next, I’m participating in the first annual Coyote Con. It’s a 31 day digital conference for writers of speculative fiction. I’ll be participating on May 22nd in a chat on Transformative Sex with Joely Sue Burkhart, Teresa Wymore and David Sklar under my other nom de plume, Anna Black.

Registration is free and you can sign up at the website.

In conjunction with Coyote Con, my friend Joely Sue Burkhart is hosting MayNoWriMo. What’s great about MayNoWriMo is that you can set ANY goal you want for the month of May.

So if all you want to do for May is finish a short story or write a synopsis or write 100 words a day, you set the goal. There will be prizes and the yahoo group is already becoming a very lively place to hang out at.

My MayNoWriMo goal is to finish and submit a 4,500 word short story.

Okay, next is Wiscon. (May 28 – May 31st). I’m all signed up for that and I’m going to be on three panels, do a reading from one of my vampire stories and put on my tarot and writing workshop. So I’ll be spending May getting ready for that.

And I’m still working on edits for Ellora’s Cave for the two novellas that will be coming out soon. Plus I’m working on other writing projects. And I’m starting a new job on Monday. So May is going to be a crazy but fun month. At least I hope it’s fun.

I’ve been watching quite a few movies I had hoped to blog about but I’m afraid I’ll have to save those for another time.

I’m planning on using my blog to keep track of my progress during May because not only am I doing MayNoWriMo, I’ve set myself a weight-loss goal for May.

Anyway, that’s the news and updates for now. May 1st is this coming Saturday so I need to get cracking.

Oh, yeah. Forgot to mention. I didn’t finish Script Frenzy. 😦 I had to work on edits all during April and that was not the month to be trying something new like writing a script. But there’s always next year. I learned a lot, however, and I don’t regret the time, albeit brief as it was, I spent in the world of scriptwriting. 🙂

Okay, gotta run!

Ciao for now!


Ooku

April 9, 2010

Last August, I put up a post about Ooku, which is a manga written by Fumi Yoshinaga. Briefly, Ooku is an alternate history set in 18th Century Japan. A plague called the Redface Pox has killed off 80% of the male population. As a result, women are now in positions of power. One is even Shogun. Men, who are now precious “seed providers”, are carefully protected. And the most beautiful men are chosen to sexually serve in the Ooku, the Shogun’s Inner Chambers.

This year at
Wiscon, which is a feminist science convention held every year in Madison, Wisconsin, the James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award will be presented to Ooku: The Inner Chambers Volumes 1 and 2, and to Greer Gilman’s, Cloud and Ashes: Three Winter Tales

For those who are not familiar with the TipTree award, it’s an annual literary prize for science fiction or fantasy that expands or explores the understanding of gender. The award is named for Alice B. Sheldon, who wrote under the pseudonym James Tiptree, Jr., at a time when it was not de rigueur for women to write science fiction.

I’ve not yet read Volume 1 of Ooku, but I have read Volume 2 and it’s an amazing story. In Volume 2, which takes place at the start of the plague, a young Buddhist monk named Arikoto is calling upon Lord Iemitsu. Arikoto has no idea that Lord Iemitsu is, in fact, a young woman named Chie, who is being forced to wear men’s clothes and pretend to be the catamite of Lord Iemitsu, her father, who died from the Redface Pox. She is, however, the true ruler. Arikoto, due to his stunning beauty, is forced (in a most horrific way, I must say) to give up being a monk and, essentially, become a concubine of Chie’s.

I’m looking forward to reading the other volumes in the series as I like the fact that it’s not one of those simplistic, hits-you-over-the-head with its feminist rhetoric that some novels, who attempt this kind of experimentation, sometimes employ as a way to get their message across regarding gender. There is a complexity and a subtlety to what’s happening to the relations between men and women in 18th century Japan as a result of this plague.

Here’s a quote from Wiscon’s newsletter regarding Ooku and it’s having been awarded the James Tiptree Jr. Award.

“Fumi Yoshinaga’s Ooku: The Inner Chambers (Volumes 1 & 2) explores an alternate version of feudal Japan, in which a plague has killed three out of every four boys. In this world, young men are protected and sheltered; women have secretly taken positions of authority and power. The Japanese ruler or shogun and the feudal lords are women and much of the story takes place among the men in the shogun’s harem.

The title of the work refers to the living quarters for the shogun’s harem, contained within Edo Castle. The selection of Ooku: The Inner Chambers marks the first time that manga has been chosen for the Tiptree Award. Though no one on the jury is an expert on manga or on Japanese history, the jurors fell in love with the detailed exploration of the world of these books, a world in which men are assumed to be weak and sickly, yet women still use symbolic masculinity to maintain power.

Throughout the two books, Yoshinaga explores how the deep gendering of this society is both maintained and challenged by the alteration in ratios. “The result,” juror Jude Feldman writes, “is a fascinating, subtle, and nuanced speculation with gender at its center. Ooku was awarded the Sense of Gender awards by the Japanese Association of Feminist Science Fiction and Fantasy (2005), the Excellence Award at Japan’s Media Arts Festival (2006), and the Grand Prize in Osamu Tezuka Cultural Prize (2009).”


Just Checking In

March 21, 2010

We actually got close to 3 inches of snow on Saturday. I was not happy to have to brush the heavy, thick stuff from off my car. But, fortunately, it only coated the grass and not the street.

A woman was walking her dog as I was cleaning my car of snow and greeted me with a “Happy First Day of Spring!” But, today, the sun is out, although still a bit chilly, and the snow is all gone and temps will be in the 50’s this week. Not too shabby.

Let’s see. What am I working on? Oh, yeah. I’m doing Script Frenzy, which starts in eleven days on April 1st. I have a bit more prepping to do before then so that’s my #1 priority. It’s a fantasy that’s dealing with both religion and science, one of my fave things to mull over.

I’m also going over a novel I wrote back in 2004 for NaNoWriMo. It’s a wild and wooly space opera which I’m thinking about rewriting. It really needs a LOT of work but there are some seeds inside it that I think just might sprout into something interesting.

I’m also writing a short erotic Western. A cowboy menage a trois (MMF). Why? I have no idea. It’s only going to be about 15,000 words but it’s like a burr under my saddle and I gotta write the darn thing or go crazy.

Oh, and my steampunk. *sigh* I haven’t given up on it but the world-building is proving to be very, very challenging. To me steampunk has to be about the world or it’s not steampunk. So I haven’t given up on it but I need to spend some time working on the world in order to feel comfortable writing it.

So, trying to stay busy in order to stay out of trouble. 🙂


CUT TO

February 21, 2010


I love this time of year because this is when Turner Classic Movies (TCM) does it 31 Days of Oscar as a prelude to the Oscars. It’s a veritable cornucopia of classic movies.

Honestly, I get so spoiled during this month that when TCM goes back to its regular programming schedule it takes a bit of an adjustment.

Saturday, TCM did a triple header of sci-fi movies: 2001, A Space Odyssey, 2010 and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

I have seen all three of those movies many times but they are also three movies I can pretty much watch again and again. My son came in while I was watching 2001. He’s never really seen it, except for clips here and there, but he happened to come in at the point in the movie where astronaut Dave Bowman, in orbit around Jupiter, has left his ship and is about to take the ultimate journey beyond the infinite.

He asked me some questions about what was going on. I did my best to answer them. 🙂

If you’ve never seen 2001: A Space Odyssey, warning, Will Robinson, it’s a definite head trip. And it’s definitely not everyone’s cup of tea. On the surface it’s frustrating, boring in some spots and downright incomprehensible in others. And I love it! And it’s a movie, shall I say, that’s not afraid to take some major risks.

One of the biggest risks it takes is near the beginning. Kubrick structured 2001 into what you can see as either a prologue and three acts or a four act movie.

The first act, or prologue, is called “Dawn of Man.” That’s right. The movie literally starts at the beginning, millions of years in our past, when man is nothing more than an ape-like creature struggling to survive. A strange black monolith suddenly appears among the man-apes. Kubrick does not explain where the monolith came from or who left it there. But there it is. Black, rectangular and somewhat ominous.

However, as a result of the monolith’s enigmatic appearance, one of the man-apes, while scrounging for food, picks up a bone and discovers that he can use it as a tool. And more than just a tool. He uses it as a weapon to kill one of the members of an encroaching band of other man-apes.

Now, what happens next is one of those penultimate moments in movie-making history. As the man ape, having defeated his foe, triumphantly tosses the bone into the air, Kubrick cuts to an orbiting nuclear weapon.

Yep, we make a leap of millions of years from a prehistoric African savanna to the far reaches of outer space. We have, in an instant, traversed millions of years of human evolution and civilization. Why does Kubrick do this?

Because all that happened in between doesn’t matter. At least not in the context of the movie. All the terrible wars, scientific advancements, horrible tragedies, literary and artistic achievements, etc, etc, etc, that humanity has experienced is reduced to a single jump cut.

What happens next is what’s important. Not what came before. Man has traveled into space although he still makes war upon his neighbor. He has moved beyond the primitive struggle for survival on earth and out into the stars. The final frontier, so to speak.

And what does humanity find? You got it. Another monolith. Just like the one the primitive man-apes encountered millions of years ago. But this one is on the Moon. Where it had been deliberately buried. And why was it buried deliberately on the Moon?

Because it was a test. The aliens, or whoever it was, who put that first monolith on the Earth buried this one on the Moon as a signal to them that humans had evolved far enough to be able to travel into space. And when that monolith on the Moon is discovered, it sends out a signal directing humans to Jupiter.

Now, as a writer, what I find fascinating about that famous jump cut (or match cut, if you want to get technical) is that writers have to ask themselves constantly what should or should not be included in a piece of writing. Writing is about making choices. Do I show this about the heroine? Do I include that about the hero?

The part of human history that Kubrick left out in his cut has been the subject of countless books, movies, operas, paintings, etc. But in the context of the movie, it didn’t matter. It wasn’t important.

What was important was what was coming next. Humans had found that monolith on the Moon and everything that had happened prior to that event, although important as backstory, was not important for the story itself.

So, when I write, I tend to ask myself, does the reader need to know such and such, especially in the context of what I’m writing about? If not, I cut it.

Now, it’s possible that I may have spent a considerable amount of time thinking about why it is that my heroine can’t stand the smell of spaghetti. But if it doesn’t have anything to do with the plot or her character arc, I don’t include it.

It’s like an iceberg, the majority of which lies below the water line.

Writing is a lot like that. So much lies beneath the surface, whether it’s subtext or backstory. The trick is knowing what to put in and what to leave out.

In the movie 2001, Kubrick made a bold choice to encapsulate the whole of human history into a single cut. It blew people’s mind when the movie came out in 1968 and it’s still, after over 40 years, an incredible cinematic moment.


Novellas

February 16, 2010

The last few months of 2009 I was working on two novellas. One was a vampire story and the other a fantasy. I submitted them to my editor at Ellora’s Cave. She accepted them both and I’m mailing out the contracts today.

I don’t know when they will be released but when I get more news I’ll share.

Currently, I’m working on an erotic contemporary fantasy that I actually wrote a couple of years ago and which I’m bound and determined to get done and submitted. And I’m finally, finally working on a steampunk.

I had initially envisioned the steampunk story as a novella, but when I started working on the characters and plot, the story got too big and now it’s turning into a novel.

I’m also working on a couple of short stories, both of which I had also written a few years back. I’m revising them for an anthology call and hope to submit them both by the end of the month.

So, all in all, I’m just keeping busy and trying to stay out of trouble. 🙂


Congrats to a Good Friend!

February 12, 2010

Yesterday, my good friend and writing pal, Joely Sue Burkhart, shared with me some very exciting news!

Now, I’ve known Joely since 2004 when I happened to answer a question she’d had on a Yahoo loop about a writing contest. And since then we’ve been traveling along what we like to think of as our journey to Mount Doom.

Kinda similar to Frodo and Sam’s journey in The Lord of the Rings. Except the object of our quest was not to destroy the One Ring but to get our hands on that brass ring of success.

And here we are, 2010, and we’re still trudging along. But stopping every now and then to raise a cup and sing a song. We’ve both had our ups and downs, disappointments and accomplishments. And through it all Joely has been a good, good friend and I honestly can say I wouldn’t have gotten very far regarding my writing or even have stayed on track with it without her support and friendship.

So, when she emailed me to tell me that the novel she has labored on for so long, a romance that incorporates Mayan mythology, had been accepted by Angela James at Carina Press, trust me, if I’d had a champagne bottle and if we didn’t happen to live miles away from each other, we’d have been toasting away.

So, major congratulations, Joely! And here’s to many more!

Joely was kind enough to provide me with a blurb of her novel. I know I’m looking forward to reading it.

Called “Ruin” because he destroyed his entire civilization, the Gatekeeper is sworn to kill anyone who tampers with the Bloodgates, which are portals to the mystical realms of the Maya gods. After countless centuries, he believes his curse will end with the current calendar cycle — until humans discover the ruins of his city on the shores of Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, and unbury the last copy of a codex detailing his magic.

When Dr. Jaid Merritt’s partial translation of the codex accidentally sends her father to Xibalba through one of these Bloodgates and releases demons from the Maya hell, the “Un-Indiana Jones” is forced to face her fears and travel to Guatemala on her first dig in twenty years.

To save her father, Jaid must survive the Gatekeeper’s wrath and help Ruin reclaim — and relock — the Bloodgates before the bowels of Xibalba empty into our world.