Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

Strong Female Characters Aren’t Always Armored

There’s been a lot of discussion in SF about strong female characters, clothing, and armor, and I agree with a lot of the points being made, BUT. There’s a big thing being missed. Armor seems to have become the cheap tack to portray a strong, independent person, much like a mouthy, rebellious woman is the only way to have a strong female character (see, for instance, the dismissal of Pacific Rim’s Mako Mori as a strong character).

Armor does not make a strong person. Lack of armor does not make a weak person. Defying authority does not make a strong, independent person. Being a mouthy ass does not make a strong person.

During the Crusades, the Crusaders, on their massive horses (the forerunners of today’s Shires, Clydesdales, and Percherons), in heavy chain armor, had their asses BEAT by mostly unarmored Arabic warriors on light, small, fast horses. It was the same logic that made Alexander’s cavalry so effective against elephants: maneuverability, speed, minimal reaction time.

In fact, MANY of the primarily horse-based nomadic cultures wore little to no armor–Native Americans, for instance, were deadly mounted warriors. Hell, the American cavalry didn’t wear armor. The warriors of the Middle Eastern steppes? Minimal to no armor. Some of them wore heavy felt coats as their main armor.

And no, this doesn’t excuse the chainmail bikinis, because those are still stupid, impractical, and beyond purposeless. (Sure, they’re iconic to some people, some people like looking at them, yay! Go for it. Just stop trying to pretend that there’s any damn use for them beyond ‘TITS! IN ARMOR!’.)

And all this boils down to a criticism about a piece of art, which shows a warrior woman based on thousands of years of rich, nomadic culture, riding a horse based on a breed the Chinese coveted and praised as ‘the horses of heaven’. But she’s not wearing armor, so clearly she’s just a helpless virgin waiting for the prince to save her.

Fantasy doesn’t mean ‘absolutely no reality gets to happen here’, or ‘we don’t have to actually think about multicultural things’. It isn’t all based on knights and maidens, on Joan of Arc and massive steeds with hooves the size of dinner plates.

Sometimes the warrior is dressed in silk. Sometimes her sword is sheathed. Sometimes strength isn’t in your face arrogance and violence. Sometimes it’s the quiet, respectful word of a girl harnessing her hatred for someone she respects, or the steel-jawed determination to ride through anything that comes without raising a hand in anger.

And that, honestly, is damn well something that we, as writers, should be paying attention to, and attempting to understand.

**Edit** As was pointed out to me on Twitter, Crusaders weren’t wearing full plate armor. However, they were still heavily armored and getting trounced by the lighter cavalry. Then again, they were doing a good job of trouncing themselves on a regular basis. But this post isn’t about how awesome Salah ad-Din and Richard the Lionheart were. At any rate, as a former hobbyist of all things Plantagenet/Crusades/Middle Ages, I am rather embarrassed. Too many movies/fantasy recently! BUT THE REST OF MY POINTS STILL STAND. :P

Status

Slowly clawing my way out of the debris of a summer of bouncing around the country, and getting back into operation.

I am currently available for consultations, and may have some room for a new client, as summer projects wind up. Query me at jaymgatespr (at) gmail.com for more details, or see my ‘Pricing’ page.

Also! The Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters anthology that I’m in has blown through all of its stretch goals on Kickstarter, so keep your eyes peeled for a new story from me. Alternate 1950s America, Nuclear Age Blood Pits monster fighting and revolution.

I should also have some big announcements here in the near future!

Panels and Prose

So, first, the publication news!

I’ve sold several pieces of work recently.

1.) An introspective nonfiction piece on how gaming taught me to take the reins of my life, which will appear in Mad Norwegian Press’s Chicks Dig Gaming, edited by Jean Rabe and Jennifer Brozek. That’s supposed to be out sometime in November, and the TOC is amazing and humbling, and a bit squee-inducing.

2.) Origins Game Fair produces a souvenir anthology featuring the panelists from the Writers Track. My story–a blend of weird, post-apocalyptic, mythological, epic American fantasy–will be appearing in that. Really excited to get this story into print, not least because it was written and edited in 6 days, and STILL turned out halfways decent!

3.) I can’t announce it yet, but I sold another epic fantasy story to a dark fantasy anthology. It’s the origin story for one of my favorite characters, and I’m really excited to finally see her debut. I first wrote about her almost five years ago.

4.) I’ll be contributing to another charity anthology, too. More details on that later. Right now, I have to figure out if I have a story I can send in! Suddenly, I’ve gone from an embarrassment of inventory to some pretty empty shelves.

Panels!

The Origins schedule! When I’m not in one of these places, I’ll probably be in the bar. I remember this convention center with great fondness, as I attended my first World Fantasy here. My, how things have changed.

The Cascade Writers Workshop list of speakers, which I am on. I don’t know if I can post my schedule yet though.

The Gen Con Writers Symposium schedule! I’ll be on at least one other panel as well, but those details are still up in the air.

Updates and Appearances

The publications page is finally loaded! With excerpts! And links!

Also, I’m waiting for permission to announce some things, but I will be making some form of professional appearance at the following conventions.

April

Purgatory: 10 Year Anniversary, April 13, Charlotte
NC Speculative Fiction Night, hosted by Bull Spec Magazine, April 23, Raleigh
East Coast Game Convention, April 24-25, Raleigh

May

Nebula Award Weekend, May 16-19, San Jose
BookExpoAmerica, May 30-June 1, New York

June

Origins Game Fair, June 12-16, Columbus

July

Cascade Writers Workshop, July 25-28, Portland

August

GenCon, August 15-18, Indianapolis
Dragon*Con, August 29-September 2, Atlanta

Resources for ConVolution Attendees

Below is a starter list of resources for writers wanting to educate themselves on publicity and other elements of the business.

EFF: Legal Guide for Bloggers

Grasping for the Wind’s Mega List of Reviewers!

M.K. Hobson’s excellent post on marketing and more

Lee Moyer breaks down Kickstarter campaigns.

The mighty Inkpunks!

The suave members of Booklife Now.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

Book Expo America

I’m off to New York for the beginning of a month of work away from home. I’ll be manning the table for Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Tuesday-Thursday, booth 3591. If you’re at the expo, come on by and see us! We’ll also have authors like Laura Anne Gilman, Myke Cole, Ellen Kushner and Holly Black, so check the SFWA site for a signing schedule.

Guest-Post: I Am One In More Than 2.7 Million

Editor’s Note: This post comes from a dear friend who has been wrestling with the problem of where to post such a personal thing. I offered my site as a safe, anonymous place to post.

Because it is a sensitive subject and on my personal site, I WILL be deleting any negative or harmful comments, so please consider your response carefully and keep it respectful. Above all, read with an open mind, please. I’d like to start seeing positive, accurate portrayals of alternative mind-structures and mental illness in my fiction, thank you.

I’m schizophrenic. Writing this is difficult for me. English is my native language, but disordered thoughts are part of my life now. The words don’t want to come out right, whether I’m talking or typing.
I don’t see anyone like me in fiction. Male or female. Usually, we’re cast as murderers, or savants. Soothsayers. Catatonics. People tell their writers to make things more schizoid, when they’re trying to say something else. Make it more erratic. Confused. Hallucinatory.

Schizoid, if you don’t want to look it up, is defined as “pertaining to a personality disorder marked by dissociation, passivity, withdrawal, inability to form warm social relationships, and indifference to praise or criticism.”

I don’t see it used accurately very often.

Because you’re writers, you might want to start here; it’s an Australian site for media professionals on reporting about suicide and mental illness. There’s also the NIMH site on schizophrenia, which is a cornucopia of info. When I see schizophrenia portrayed in expertly in fiction, I think that maybe you just don’t do your homework.

I don’t need you to care about me or my case in specific. I just need you to be mindful. If people can tell you to just write characters as people —not as women or disabled or children or whatever —you should be able to do that for the mentally ill, too. You never see characters before the psychotic break, you don’t ever show the struggle for recovery.

Some of us become schizophrenic as children, or in our teens. As happily married adults. Middle-aged. Elderly. Most of us were people with normal lives until this happened. And that’s all some of us want to go back to. We’re not monsters.

When I had my psychotic break, I lost everything. My job, my spouse, my grip on reality, my life. Under the disease is the person everybody thought would be a politician or a lawyer. A doctor. I was a socially adept person who could work a room, and loved every minute of it. I was the one everybody thought would go as far as they wanted.

I don’t feel like that person anymore. I’ve made a new life, sure, but it’s one with unsteady legs at times. It’s one where I try to keep quiet that I’m schizophrenic, because I’m afraid it’ll tank my career if I’m too public.

I probably could have said all of this in a sentence, but I have to fight for the words to figure out how to tell you what I’m thinking.

You’re writers. You can do better by your stories, and by people like me, than you have.

*edit* A friend linked me to her blog from a while back on this same subject, for those of you who want more insight. No Mental Conditions Allowed

BayCon 2012 Schedule!

I’m earning my keep at this one! I have 6 panels in 2 days. Haven’t heard if I’m moderating any of them yet, but since I seem to moderate about 50% of the panels I’m on, it’s quite likely. I’m also pleased to see that I know at least one person on every panel, except the two I’m most nervous about. Any port in a storm, although Marty and I are already conspiring.

1. How to Develop Your Marketing as an Author on Saturday from 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM in Winchester (with Tony N. Todaro, Laurel Anne Hill, Dave Trowbridge, Emerian Rich, Dani Kollin)

What every author needs to know or what to do to make their books and stories sell after they are published.

2. Self-Promotion and Publicity for Writers on Saturday from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM in Ballroom D (with Tony N. Todaro, Dave Trowbridge, Clare Bell, Marty Halpern)

So you’ve figured out this whole writing thing and your work is finally out there. Wouldn’t it be great if people actually bought it? Just because the publisher bought your book doesn’t mean they’re going to publicize it. Learn the whys and hows of self-promotion from the experts.

3. Editors, Agents, and other Endangered Species on Saturday from 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM in Camino Real (with Jay Hartlove, Tony N. Todaro, Marty Halpern, Dario Ciriello)
(I’ve never met Tony, but he’s going to be sick of me by the end of the weekend!)

Amazon, with its in-house eBook self-publishing and print-on-demand books, along with their own publishing deals for selected authors, is looking to completely supplant publishers, their editors, and the agents they work with. Will this be successful? Will it work? What dangers lurk behind the untrammeled masses of would-be writers?

4. Defining Alternative Lifestyles on Sunday from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM in Lawrence (with Franklin Veaux, Lon Sarver, D.M. Atkins, Ian Grey, Brad Nelson)
(Whoops, I don’t actually know anyone on this panel. Pretty nervous about this one, just on its own merits.)

It’s not just about who you sleep with. Panelists discuss alternative lifestyles that have worked for themselves and others, as well as how to avoid pitfalls.

5. Erotic Science Fiction and Fantasy on Sunday from 2:30 PM to 4:00 PM in Lawrence (with Lon Sarver, Veronica Belmont, D.M. Atkins)
(PERFECT timing! I wonder if I could sneak Lee in with me?)

Boy meets girl meets robot meets vampire: what makes for good erotica in worlds with different rules than ours?

6. Alternative Lifestyles and Sci-Fi/Fantasy on Sunday from 4:00 PM to 5:30 PM in Lafayette (with Kyle Aisteach, Chaz Brenchley, Lon Sarver, D.M. Atkins, Ian Grey, Andrew Clark, Brad Nelson)

From Heinlein’s line marriage to Ethan of Athos, a discussion of alternative lifestyles, chosen or otherwise.

So, there we have it. I’m talking about erotica, promotions and alternative lifestyles. Throw a panel on horses in there, and it’s me in a nutshell. Don’t necessarily expect coherence though: between traveling and event prep, I’m already forgetting English.

I’ll be holding down a spot in the bar on Saturday night, continuing last year’s excellent impromptu Barcon. Please come by and see me.

Wait Times

My client list has filled up for the moment. I have a budget due on March 15, the Nebula Awards to publicize for, several clients to wrap up, and one major client in the last stretch before the big day. I am also hard at work making the next Single Cell event the best one yet, and I will be doing a string of cross-country events that will have me in traveling mode from mid-May to the end of June.

Ergo, the soonest I can start on another big project is July 2. I can still do consultation calls, and will be happy to discuss how to help *you* promote your book. I will also schedule you for summer and fall publicity.

Please keep in mind: book promotions do not start the day the book is published, or even a week ahead. To properly promote your book, I need a 3 month lead-time. This reduces stress and increases results. Even if you just want a little extra notice around the release-time, I need a minimum of a month’s advance. So if you have a book publishing this summer, get in touch with me now and let me have that on my radar.

However, many authors can do the bulk of promotions themselves. This is why I stress a consultation call first. If money or time are an issue, by all means, set up a call with me and we’ll get you on your feet.

A rose by any other name…

The response to the harassment incident at WFC has been amazing. First off, I’d like to thank EVERYONE who has spoken up, contacted me, spread the word, or just read any one of the blog posts. EVERY bit counts.

The only problem, and it is a good problem to have, is that we have support and volunteers flowing in…and nowhere to direct them. I didn’t think there would be this much response, so I’m caught behind the game. We need to get things going while everyone is still thinking about it, still checking the hashtags.

But I don’t know what to call it. We’re going to be a grievance committee, promoting safe spaces, educating people, developing allies, raising voices. We have every shape, size, color and orientation.

I’m not sure how to label that.

Which is why I’m turning to you brilliant people! For the next week, I’ll be listening to name suggestions. I can’t promise I’ll take any, but I’m hoping there’s one in there that makes me go ‘omg perfect!’.

Things to remember:

Google it. I had a couple of ideas. One of them led me to a survivalist site. While this has interesting possibilities…

Keep it inclusive. Enough said.

If your idea happens to have a cool acronym, awesome. But, seriously, check and make sure it isn’t something that will haunt the group forever, please?

If I DO choose the name, I’ll ask for all rights to it. Eventually, I intend to get this thing incorporated and all that good stuff. Until then, I’ll be holding ALL rights, contracts and information. If you aren’t comfortable with it, please tell me ahead of time.

Final words? Ya’ll are amazing. Thank you, again.