Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Political Climate, Going Viral and Coming Together

In case you didn't notice, there was an election in the US last week. And all hell has broken loose. And anything I can say will barely skirt all the issues, but I feel like it is important for the piece I really DO have something to say about, as background, if you will.

The candidate who won said a number of horrible things during the election about Mexican immigrants (and even about a few US born Mexican Americans—for instance a judge he said was not trustworthy on an issue because of his heritage). He said some horrible things about Muslim Americans and Muslim immigrants. He made some aspersions about Black Americans, unable to go to any subject from bringing up black people except “inner city problems”. As if black people are not more diverse and their problems and issues more varied than that. He made a lot of derogatory remarks about women, suggesting they were worthless unless they were pretty. He said some of the women accusing him of sexual assault “were not pretty enough” to sexually assault—as if if they were pretty he would have, but less attractive women were not worth even that. He bragged about sexually assaulting women, claimed he gets away with it because he's a celebrity.

So there have been protests about his winning from the people who did not want him. Some of them have included violence and vandalism, though I have also heard there have been some paid people in there committing the violence with a goal of de-legitimizing peaceful protests.

But on the other side there have been many many incidents of people emboldened by the hateful rhetoric doing hateful things. The Southern Poverty Law Center has documented hundreds of cases, some of them in elementary and middle schools, causing children to fear their parents would be deported, or direct hateful acts or speech to the kids. My own story falls in this category but is just one of HUNDREDS if not thousands.

If you have an incident to report, go here.

Last Thursday

A post about this went viral Thursday (more about that shortly) so you may have seen this previously, though I am giving a bit more detail here, as I know more than the brief text from my daughter which was the basis of my original Facebook post. Plus there has been followup.

On Thursday at noon, my daughter, age 21, was at her boyfriend's apartment (he was at class) and decided to walk the two blocks to the store to get something. On her way she passed a house with four men, just a little older than her on the porch. They called the typical “flirty” taunts to her and she ignored them. Then one came off the porch, came at her, grabbed her butt and said, “this will be mine. I've seen you around before. This is a free country now, bitch."

She ran. She was worried she would be dragged into that house with the four of them so she ran back to her boyfriend's apartment and when he got home from class they went to the police station. She was warned it would be her word against the four boys, so it was likely all that would happen was a warning, but it would be on record and they would be warned.

And I shared how traumatized she was, and me, by extension, on Facebook and proceeded to have the very bizarre experience of going viral.

Going Viral

When I shared I had a couple friends ask if they could share, and I said they could. I felt like hearing the story of a friend would be more real to some people, so I said they could... but it ended up shared and shared and shared... Almost 700 times.

At first people were very supportive. They sent love, and were compassionate. A few people were ruffled because I did call for conservative friends to try to police their own, and they said this was not conservative behavior... I get it. It isn't. But it IS behavior directly reflective of the conservative candidate saying “I just grab em by the pussy”. I was calling on people to make it clear that this behavior is not acceptable from that side and to ask their candidate to condemn it in sharp terms.

But anyway... Overnight strangers began to show up. And BOY HOWDY, do I now know what Internet trolls are about. The most common response was “this didn't happen”, but I even got accused of trying a ploy for my 15 minutes of fame. I was lectured about not going to the police (she did), told she needed to fight back (statistics show running is safer if it is a possibility). But it was frankly exhausting. Total life of its own

Coming Together

We are in desperate need of some unity... of supporting each other in spite of differences. Of making a stand to stand up for people being mistreated. Of defending peaceful processes and condemning violence. I don't believe I am alone here. I think we can disagree on politics and still commit to caring for each other—for ALL others.

In that vein, I think many of you have seen the safety pin movement... I know it has gotten a bit of scoffing and a bit of poo pooing. But I think it shows some promise if it is done right.

Here is some history on something similar done during World War II.
For the record, here is a really good link on what “doing it right” means.

By day I work in an office dedicated to inclusion, which by definition connects to “climate”. It is my goal that enough people wear these that people who fear victimization look around and feel a little safer, and that people who might victimize others look around and know they will not get away with it.

There are also unity rallies, all over.

Please commit to not letting hate stand. To defending our fellow human beings and to calming what could end up really ugly if it continues to escalate.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

An Interview with Lisa Koosis, Author of Resurrecting Sunshine

Hallo, fine peoples!!! Need a break from election shouting, crying, cheering, catastrophizing? I've got something more fun here... Remember when I announced Lisa's book release at the beginning of October? Well I read her book and then fired her some questions, so today I am going to share them with YOU!!!

Without further ado, Welcome Lisa!!!

1)  So just to give us some background, you allude in the acknowledgments to this being the book that wouldn't die. When was it first written and could you share a little about this topsy journey?

Absolutely! And thank you so much for having me.

I wrote the first draft of Resurrecting Sunshine in 2009, and the draft was so bad that I filed it away, never to be looked at again. And honestly, I didn’t think about it again for a very long time. I went on to other manuscripts, ones that I thought had a better chance of going the distance. But then maybe a year and a half after I’d put it aside, I woke up in the middle of the night one night, thinking about that godawful manuscript and how I might fix it.

It became something of an obsession after that. I rewrote it and rewrote it. Characters were added. Characters were deleted. Characters were added back in. The ending changed twice. Eventually, I called it done and started querying agents. Lots of agents. And I got back plenty of encouragement, some wonderful feedback, and rejections by the bucket-load.

A few times I quit, and I mean quit the whole thing; querying, writing. It wasn’t the first manuscript I’d queried. It wasn’t even the second. I’d watched other people fly by me, landing agents and book deals after having spent, by far, less time in the novel-writing world, and much less time querying. And after a while, it gets exhausting. But I kept coming back to it. And eventually, after yet another round of revisions, and a whole series of domino-like events, I signed with a fantastic agent, and less than a year later I had two offers on the book.

2) You managed a very difficult task. You include real time, memories, dreams, and simulations, all seamlessly. An impressive feat. Did you consciously do anything to keep these all so distinct? Did this create any challenges for you, or things you had to work at in editing?

That aspect actually came pretty naturally. I wanted the book to have a drifting, dreamlike feel, and to have places where dreams and memory and reality blurred a bit. Logistically though, it did present a few challenges in editing, the biggest being just keeping the timeline straight since I was essentially weaving together two stories: the story taking place in the present, and the story of the events leading up to Sunshine’s death.

3) So the major themes I saw here were identity, self-determination, grief, and fate. Did I miss any big ones? Can you speak a bit about how YA, speculative fiction, and "organic process" might have influenced how your themes developed?

I’ve always believed that speculative fiction provides the perfect backdrop for exploring very human themes, because it puts everyday people/characters in extraordinary circumstances and allows us, as writers, to examine them under this sort of literary microscope. To add to this, I think YA takes us to a particularly formative time in life, when everything is naturally intensified.

But that said, a lot of the themes in Sunshine came from a very personal place and definitely emerged through more of an organic process. I had just separated from my husband, and I think without even realizing it, I was exploring through writing the very themes I was experiencing in my own life right then: loss, identity (who do you become when you lose the person closest to you?), personal responsibility, and most of all, trying to understand how you move forward when it seems impossible to do so.

4) So about cloning... I feel like the story you've told is the very personal ramifications, but for the sake of blowing this wide open, if cloning, complete with memory upload were really possible, what do you see as the biggest danger?

If I’m honest, I think there’s no limit to the dangers, both practically and ethically. One of the ideas I’ve always enjoyed exploring in fiction is the idea that what science can do, science will do. Sometimes it feels as if we advance so quickly, that our laws and our morality can’t keep up. I think that’s a truly scary thing.

Follow up: how do you feel about inspiring other works that would like to use this technology? (I have a story idea I'd love to develop, probably novella length--I'd of course give credit)

To think my speculative technology might inspire someone else is incredibly flattering. I’m all for it!

5) If you could be cloned, would you?

Oh lord, no! One of me can get into enough trouble all alone! (Although there is something to be said for having someone else to do the laundry and take care of the day job so I could just write.)

6) If you could clone a deceased loved one, would you?

I feel like this should be an easy question to answer, and yet somehow, it isn’t. I’d like to be able to say no way, that it would be wrong, that I would never even consider such a thing, that it wouldn’t truly be that person anyway. But emotionally, thinking about seeing someone I’ve loved and lost even one more time—particularly if they’d had their memories restored—I’m not sure that the temptation would be as easy to say no to as I’d like it to be.

7) And since 7 is the most magical number, what can we expect from you next?

I’ve always been a little bit superstitious when it comes to talking about what I’m working on, for fear that I’ll rob the project of some of its energy. But I can say that I’m planning to stay in the realm of young adult science fiction, which has started to feel like home to me.

Thank you so much, Lisa!  It was great to have you here! And thank you for being so candid!

Author Bio: In high school, much to the dismay of her guidance counselor, Lisa Koosis traded AP English for a creative writing class and a class in speculative fiction. She never looked back. Lisa is a member of the SCBWI, an ambassador for National Novel Writing Month, and an active member of her local writing community. Her short stories have been published widely. When she isn’t writing, you’ll probably find her out walking her dog, or chilling with her cats.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

My Favorite (Writing) Thing

Hallo fine peoples! Another month gone already? Welcome to the Insecure Writer's Support Group's Monthly meeting! If you don't know what this is about, it is a LARGE group of writers dedicated to a bit of support for this process that we all do differently, yet all seem to experience many of the same things—most significantly, insecurity.

This month the question is: What is your favorite aspect of being a writer?

And let me tell you...

There is so much I love about writing. But really my FAVORITE thing is when I have a couple strands of story and a place I need to get to and I get this big swoopy moment of genius where the idea comes that will pull it all together. It doesn't happen OFTEN. Not even every book. Sometimes it happens in the planning. Or the writing. Or even the editing. But it is like this fireball to the gut—a good time—like a roller coaster almost—where this enormous weight lifts and this airy feeling of genius settles, however fleetingly.

It can't be forced, but I can give you a couple ways it might be triggered.

First: The problem needs to be sufficiently complicated or you are just not going to feel that clever solving it.

Or you could get one of these...
Second: Being naked helps. The shower is a good place for this, though it can strain memory to remember it until you are dry enough to write it down. Or likewise (also naked) that early morning not quite awake, but conscious time. (if you sleep in clothes this is never going to happen because you are too busy wrestling the strangling bindy pajama monsters that are trying to choke you)

If you can't be naked then this combo: Busy body, quiet mind. Like a swim or power walk with no music and minimal human interaction—something where your body is GOING but you don't really have to think too much.

So there. What is YOUR favorite aspect of writing?
And who is NaNo-ing?

Now go see what some of the others have to say...