Monday, June 30, 2014

30-Week Writing Survey: Week 13: Cultures



Today's question:What's your favorite culture to write, fictional or not?

I had fun writing the fairy culture in my novel Bad Fairy. In many ways they are similar to the noble/upper classes of the society they live in, because they are rare and their powers are valuable, but their status seems to be understood in relation to humans, not as much within their own culture. Fairies work for humans, basically, even though humans have to pay them. They generally don't use their skills to make their own living; they peddle their skills to humans who tell them where to point their magick, and that's how they make money. They also get a lot of satisfaction from serving others, and it's actually not just a cultural thing. They are born with an intrinsic desire to support and provide for the people they help, which guides them to spend their lives in subordinate positions.

As a half-fairy, protagonist Delia is sort of awake to this dynamic a lot more than her peers are. Thing is, KNOWING it's happening doesn't mean she's immune; it's just that whatever part of her is human tends to think of this tendency as annoyingly subservient, and even though she has a (less compelling, but notable) drive to help humans too, she thinks it's sort of unnatural. Full-blood fairies think it's bizarre and selfish and unnatural to WANT to become successful on one's own, so they really can't understand HOW Delia could want to chase greatness on her own behalf. For her it's very hard because her heart wants one thing and her head wants another.

So it's an interesting balance of power there--without the safeguard whereby fairies voluntarily prevent themselves from "taking over," they could have been a ruling class. Instead, the monarchy is always human, and as Delia says when discussing how fairies strive to be successful enough to work in the castle one day, "the closest fairies get to dreaming about being princesses is growing up to work for one."

The fairies' schooling is almost exclusively magick-oriented as well, so they don't learn higher arts or maths, sciences, or literature. They're very uneducated by human standards. There's some math in spells (the complex stuff does get tangled enough that they plot their spells using conditional equations), and they do learn to read (though generally at home, not as a school thing), and they don't usually start their magickal education until age ten or eleven. All these things have an effect on how the population sees the world and how they fit into society.

Oh, and let's not forget religion. Fairies are pretty much nature worshipers, though they tend to have personal patron gods that are chosen during their adulthood rituals and don't necessarily "worship" anything at all. They have moon parties and celebrate the seasons a lot like modern Pagans do. (There's a lot of Pagan influence in this story. Surprise.) They believe in reincarnation (they refer to the afterlife as "Summer-Winterland") and they study the elemental influences of Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. I don't name names when I touch on the humans' religion, but I do contrast it with the fairies' beliefs by pointing out that humans generally believe a person goes to Heaven or Hell after being tested during life on Earth.

What else? Fairies usually have fewer children. (They can apply magickal birth control, heh.) Oh, and even though fairies can mate with humans and have mixed children, they're usually VERY different from humans. In general they tend to have light-colored, curly hair; wide-set, large eyes with long eyelashes; delicate bone structures, and fairly robust physiques. They're slightly different from humans in their skeletons as well; their joints are less flexible than those of humans, especially at the hips. (They physically can't rotate their legs outwards very far--they can't sit cross-legged, for instance.) Oh, and they are more sensitive to just about everything; they sunburn faster, get drunk quicker, get sick easier, and get irritated faster if there are pollutants or poisons in the environment. (They don't have enhanced senses, though; they see and hear about the same as humans do.) And they tend to have very high voices in comparison to humans; their voices change very little as they get older, so they tend to sound like children. (My protagonist Delia inherited a more human voice, and it deepens like a human's would when she reaches womanhood.)

Also, fairies are not born with wings in Bad Fairy. They do a transformation ritual during their studies, which is also when they choose a patron deity. Going through a transformation ritual and having wings afterwards is a fairy mark of maturity. Because all the adults have wings, fairies don't sit in chairs or booths or whatever that have backs; they all have various types of bench-like furniture instead of couches and armchairs. (Their wings aren't very bendy so they can't just sit on them or rearrange themselves to sit in regular chairs. It only becomes really inconvenient if they're in human spaces that don't accommodate them very well.)

I think every time I've created any kind of culture for my books, there was a larger society surrounding said culture which was "the standard." Seems to happen a lot in my books that I am writing about the less recognized populations.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Personal Digest Saturday: June 21 – June 27

Life news this week: 

  • I am in Canada! Leaving the country for the first time in ten years, I spent Friday flying to Toronto. (And dealing with a fair amount of frustrating events actually getting into the hotel, but I digress.)
  • Got my second advance check from the asexuality book. Hooray.
  • Participated in Dahlia Adler's blog hop for her book release. Her book is called Behind the Scenes so we were all posting "behind the scenes" blog posts about behind the scenes of something in our own lives. It was fun. :) 
  • Redecorated for midsummer over the weekend! Everything's summery now, with themes of shells and weddings, summer fruits, and full bloom.
  • Got to see my mom and hang out; we ate some GrillSmith food and just caught up on everything.

  • I wrote sort of a little short story on the plane. I didn't want to write it with my phone--tedious!--so I ended up taking the one piece of paper I had and covering it with scrawling. :)
  • I had to go to the doctor twice (once for the initial appointment to complain about my hip like an old person, and once for X-rays). And I'll get to have the pleasure of returning four more times for other procedures. Woo.
  • I ate at Burger 21 with Jeaux this week. Then we watched some America's Got Talent and silly YouTube videos.

Places featured: 

  • New review for The Invisible Orientation: A long review on Mark Carrigan's site.
  • The Pitch Wars mentor list is up for August's contest on Brenda Drake's blog, and I am on it.

Reading progress:

  • Finished Wood Nymph Seeks Centaur by Francesca Lia Block. ★★
  • Currently reading Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman.

New singing performances:

Recorded "Hotel California" by the Eagles.

New drawings:

Webcomic Negative One Issue 0476: "Making Splashes."

New videos:

Julie Sondra on Rejection

New photos:

"Practicing" my table setup for my event.
Glasses add to the studious look. Animaniacs shirt doesn't.

Part two of my advance for the asexuality book.
Jeaux found this in the vending machine.
He let the Coke machine order him around.

When I got to Canada I was hot for some reason!
So I turned on the A/C and was surprised at myself!

Look, Canadian currency! Got some of this so I would
be more likely to blend in with the natives, haha.
I was hungry and didn't want to buy candy bars from the hotel lobby,
so I took a risk and wandered outside and DIDN'T GET LOST while
buying sushi. If I look like I'm about to cry, it's because I'm actually
ridiculously proud of myself because I was brave about going out
in a foreign country and I didn't get lost!

Cute purse made for me by Kari goes on its maiden voyage.

Social Media Counts:

YouTube subscribers: 3,490 for swankivy (35 new this week), 352 for JulieSondra (2 new). Twitter followers: 511 for swankivy (7 new), 455 for JulieSondra (35 new). Facebook: 254 friends (2 new--both really old friends, Chris and Mark) and 125 followers (no change) for swankivy, 364 likes for JulieSondra (2 new), 48 likes for Negative One (no change), 73 likes for So You Write (2 new). Tumblr followers: 1,379 (13 new).

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Five Reasons Why It Sucks to Write Under Three Names

As an author who chose to use all three names to publish under, I will now share with you the issues I've run into while doing so.

I decided to be "Julie Sondra Decker" rather than "Julie Decker" in the book world for several reasons:
  • My middle name is sorta unusual and I like that it makes my name more memorable.
  • Using all three names makes it less likely that my work will be assumed to have been written by another Julie Decker.
  • Using all three names makes it less likely that another author's work will be assumed to have been written by me.
But having made that choice, I have come across several disadvantages. Specifically:
  1. Sometimes people think it is pretentious. I've seen this opinion all over the place--and once I was on an author panel with two guys who were loudly discussing in front of me how pointless and silly it is to use three names (and had somehow failed to notice they were in the presence of someone who resembled that remark). When I butted in and informed them that I am a three-name author, they wanted to know why, and concluded that it's okay as long as you're just trying to differentiate yourself from an existing author with your first and last name. But apparently it's not "okay" if it's just your choice--you have to justify it and it's clear some people feel this is an unpopular and distasteful choice.
  2. People often think it's hyphenated. I have been credited as Julie Sondra-Decker before, which annoys me and occasionally leads people to think I am married. People have also assumed my first name is Julie-Sondra.

  3. People somehow get distracted when there are two given names and think the second one is what they should call me. The last few times I've been interviewed, it never fails: Someone wants to talk about the article and e-mails me with a letter addressed to "Sondra." Sometimes I correct them and then they continue to call me Sondra. What. (It's getting almost as common as people thinking my name is Julia, but that's a completely different story. No, "Julie" is not short for "Julia" in my case.)
  4. People alphabetize you wrong. I've been put in lists in the wrong place--I belong under D, guys, not S--but this is a much bigger deal if clueless booksellers ignore their shelving labels and process your name as a hyphenated name or somesuch, which leads to your book being shelved where it does not belong and leads to consumers being unable to find it. (Goes both ways: Employee shelves it wrong but bookseller/consumer looks in the right place and can't find it; Employee shelves it correctly but bookseller/consumer looks in the wrong place and can't find it.)
  5. Sometimes there isn't a space for a middle name on a form you're filling out. I've come across many forms where I'm supposed to enter my name to submit a story, enter a profile, etc., and they only have first and last name. I want my whole name to be there, especially if it's writing-related. I usually end up putting "Julie Sondra" in the first name field, which exacerbates the issues associated with people thinking that is actually a first name, and sometimes the space gets deleted and I'm assumed to be "JulieSondra." I find myself wondering how people named Mary Beth or Lee Ann deal with having their space deleted--it must be obnoxious. (Of course, considering I use "JulieSondra" as a handle on YouTube and Twitter and several forums, I may be making it worse all by myself.)
Ultimately it's probably not worth whining this much about; people who want my book aren't going to shrug and say "oh well!" and give up on buying it if one bookstore can't find it on a shelf or if my name isn't in the list at the right spot. However, because I'm an annoying pedant and wish to destroy all typos, seeing them in my name is especially galling.

Anyone else have opinions on three-name authors or want to share experiences you've had writing as one?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Behind the Scenes Blog Hop with Dahlia Adler!

Hello, kidses! Today is very special because I'm participating in the BEHIND THE SCENES Blog Hop . . . to celebrate the release of Dahlia Adler's new book!

And for this special event, each of us participating in the Behind the Scenes hop is going to take you behind the scenes of something in our own lives. You get to see our mysteriousness! Our hidden stuff! Our closely guarded secrets!

Sort of.

For my peek into the unknown, I'm going to show you . . . dun dun dun . . . BEHIND THE SCENES of making my webcomic for writers, So You Write! But first . . . let's talk a little about Dahlia's book, since that's what we're celebrating today!

Releasing June 24, 2014, from Spencer Hill Contemporary:

High school senior Ally Duncan's best friend may be the Vanessa Park - star of TV's hottest new teen drama - but Ally's not interested in following in her BFF's Hollywood footsteps. In fact, the only thing Ally’s ever really wanted is to go to Columbia and study abroad in Paris. But when her father's mounting medical bills threaten to stop her dream in its tracks, Ally nabs a position as Van's on-set assistant to get the cash she needs.

Spending the extra time with Van turns out to be fun, and getting to know her sexy co-star Liam is an added bonus. But when the actors’ publicist arranges for Van and Liam to “date” for the tabloids just after he and Ally share their first kiss, Ally will have to decide exactly what role she's capable of playing in their world of make believe. If she can't play by Hollywood's rules, she may lose her best friend, her dream future, and her first shot at love.

I have yet to read this, but I think it sounds pretty intriguing and it's on my to-be-read list on Goodreads. However, based on what I know about Dahlia, I'd bet my sock collection that it's fantastic. This quirky author is always goofing around on Twitter, giving awesome writing advice and perspectives on her blog and elsewhere, providing/boosting resources for diverse books/authors (especially LGBTQ), and recommending her favorite books like there's no tomorrow. If I were you, I'd get busy putting this in a shopping cart or on a to-read list; you can do that at Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, the Book Depository, or IndieBound.


Now for my behind-the-scenes silliness. The VERY first thing you should know is that all of this comes with a disclaimer: I have had absolutely zero instruction on how to make comics or do Internet things with comics, have undergone exactly no formal art training, and have no illusion that I am "an artist." So take all of this with a grain of salt.

So You Write is a webcomic about the writing life. Authors tend to like it and recognize situations from their own lives in the often exaggerated, nearly always autobiographical content. The first thing I do when I'm trying to make a new issue of my webcomic is storyboarding; I try to think of something funny to make a comic about, and then I spell out what the dialogue will be for my four-panel strip. That way I can have some idea how much text I'm going to have to squeeze into each frame and know how big my drawings will be, which helps when you have to plan how much detail will be in your doodles. (It's frustrating when you spend a lot of time on a drawing and then you have to shrink it so small that most people can't see all your hard work! BLAH!)

So, in my latest issue of the comic, I decided to make it about why I have a non-writing day job. Sometimes people think it's really weird that I don't pursue some career in journalism or magazine article-writing or something, and seem to believe any writing-related career would be satisfying (or possible!) for me just because it involves words. Here's me being incredibly fancy (not): my storyboards are generally just typing into Notepad.

Next, I get on Google Images and look for models. I'm pretty awful at drawing cute anime characters without something to use as a reference, so I go searching around for chibi characters who are in the right positions or making the expressions I want and that way I can totally get away with not learning to draw properly myself.

Then the sketch begins and chibi manga characters mysteriously leak out of my pencil. I use a mechanical pencil, a kneaded rubber eraser, and marker paper.

I generally draw all of the frames' sketches at the same time, so when I'm done with this I'll have four sort of crappy-looking pencil sketch pictures. After that I start the inking, usually using an 0.5 thickness Copic Multiliner pen (which my first Pitch Wars mentee and critique partner Whitney got me, 'cause he is cool).

Once everybody is outlined, I erase the pencil marks and then it is time to choose colors for everyone. I use some really ridiculous markers for this. Oh yes. The Copic Markers.

These awesome refillable art markers are fantastic. My Sketch markers have a paintbrush end and a highlighter tip. I use the paintbrush, generally, and start filling in the lines.

You'll notice that even after it's all opaquely filled in (except for anything that needs to stay white for shines and accents!), it still looks . . . kind of unfinished.

What I do after that is use slightly darker colors along with the existing colors to create shading, giving the people I draw a more three-dimensional look. I'm not very good at it, but sometimes it looks decent.

I'm ready for the next part when all four sets of figures are colored in.

Next, I draw some extremely generic background images. If I'm feeling really adventurous or patient, sometimes snazzy backgrounds appear like in #17 or #11. But usually I'm pretty lazy and I'll just draw a vague background, or a pattern and colors, and sometimes I even digitally manipulate photos instead of drawing a background because I just hate backgrounds that much.

There. Backgrounds. You happy now?
Then it is time for the digital work to start. I have to scan the drawings and do all kinds of manipulations before it will be live, so I have to get ready to sit for a while. People watching me from afar have no idea if I'm working hard or screwing around on the Internet.

I could be doing either one. You don't know.
Scanning the documents in can yield disappointing results, honestly. This looks crappy.

So, after scanning, I pull the drawings apart and digitally darken them so it doesn't look as light as it usually scans. This can distort the color a little but I live with it. And I remove the white background digitally too.

Then I create a blank frame that's a certain standardized size.

I throw the background in first so it will be the back layer.

Then we paste our focal characters.

And then, if applicable, I'll paste a foreground. In these ladies' case, they are sitting at a table in a restaurant, so they have a counter in front of them.

And now, to make them talk, I type in Wurper Comic font, circle the words with an ellipse tool and delete anything in the circle besides the words, and give the talk bubbles little tails.

I do this with all four frames and paste them into a larger document so they're all part of one image.

Then it's time to share this with the Internet! I go to the website--which is a WordPress blog--and create a new post (giving it a title), and I upload this picture into the new post.

I usually have a bunch of rambling that I want to put under the comic to give context or clarify an issue that might have been exaggerated or not totally clear just by reading the comic. Usually it's just supplementary material.

And finally . . . it's time to publish it.

Hooray, it's up!

Then there's one more step; I like to have a gallery of all the comics on another page of this site, so you can see them all in a preview, so I have to edit its guts. The gallery never looks right to me using the ready-made image-adding tools on this WordPress site, and I know just enough HTML to get myself in major trouble, so I prefer to write the code for the gallery table in HTML mode.

What a nerd.

But it looks pretty!

And then . . . I tweet about it, show it to people on Facebook, update the comic's Facebook page, and put it on DeviantArt. And I try to do this about once a month.

I have another webcomic too--Negative One, an ongoing fantasy comic that's been running WEEKLY since May 2005--but I've already made a page about its creation process and I didn't feel like reinventing the wheel. Plus it's all black and white pencil sketches and not quite as interesting to look at (though it DOES have a story and a huge archive of close to 500 comics now).

And now you know what goes on behind the scenes of So You Write! Try the same process yourself if you want to make mediocre comics just like me! :D

So, the end. Make sure you check out all the Behind the Scenes posts and give Dahlia some lovin'! You can also follow her and all her macaron-festooned loveliness on Twitter.

Monday, June 23, 2014

30-Week Writing Survey: Week 12: Worldbuilding



Today's question: In what story did you feel you did the best job of worldbuilding? Any side-notes on it you'd like to share?

Eep. Well I guess I have two answers to this. Because honestly I've only had to DO any "real" worldbuilding in the traditional sense for two of my stories. I would like to note as an aside that I have done an awful lot of psychological and interpersonal worldbuilding for every story, but I didn't really have to do anything on purpose.

I'm weird when it comes to worldbuilding. Fantasy writers are known for being really into this stuff and happily filling notebooks with sketches, maps, hierarchies, family trees, magic laws, etc. I don't actually sit down and work out anything initially, but it usually just falls into place as I write, and sometimes I have to go back and look at what I'm doing and make sure it makes sense. (90% of the time it does it on its own like I must've been subconsciously fact-checking myself along the way, but there are times when it does not.)

Negative One and the novels I wrote that led to it required kind of has a lot of worldbuilding even though it is not technically a world I built (since it's, ya know, our world). I have gotten compliments on my worldbuilding for the comic, which surprised me until I realized how much I actually HAD done.

In the background of Negative One is a multi-universe theory and a series of connections between worlds that allow natives of various dimensions to meet each other. That's how the obvious non-humans Adele, Dax, and Weaver got to the human world. Before Adele crossed over, I outlined her experience in her original world (its name is Ailashuo, though it's usually abbreviated to Ailao), and a number of interesting cultural trivia bits popped up as I explored her living in her world. Their culture is pretty technologically primitive but they're rather socially advanced--probably due to comparative worldliness because of their "position" in the multiverse there. (Ailao is the hub world where crossovers happen all the time.) Ironically, the group of cultures sees another world as "center," though; that'd be neighboring Shio, whose dimension "settled" Ailao before written records were even kept. The two dimensions all speak the Shioan language.

The language was kind of part of the worldbuilding I did. Shioans have a rather odd physiology. They don't have an external nose, and that's kind of shaped their faces a lot differently so they actually have kind of what is the equivalent of a nose on the inside of their mouths at the backs of their throats, and that has affected their language of course. Their language has no "guttural" sounds at all; just about everything comes out of the front of the mouth, with mostly a LOT of vowels that run into each other and their consonants are fricative. But the Ailaoans have a facial physiology somewhat more similar to humans and could make all of the sounds that any human language makes. Shioans can't do that. So when I wrote little tidbits in the other language, I used certain rules in deciding what sounds I was allowed to form words with. That's just basic stuff.

The whole culture of the prophets, the family relationships, the social rules, and the general temperaments and attitudes of the aliens just kind of came out by themselves. I'd "discover" an aspect of their existence and I'd accept it as fact, and other things that made sense in relation to what I'd already decided would crop up around those things as needed. I don't create grand sweeping plots that need macrocosmic epic levels of detail, so mostly my worldbuilding goes only as far as how it affects someone's personal life. 

For example: My point-of-view character, who is Ailaoan, has heard that Shioans get ticked off if you step on their shadow. Nobody seems to know why. Then she witnesses a Shioan friend of hers getting her shadow stepped on deliberately, and instead of getting angry she just becomes extremely humble and excuses herself. Turns out it's some kind of statement of authority in their culture--adults do it to kids a lot--and the only reason it was misinterpreted as an insult is that someone who didn't know the custom accidentally did it to someone they were not the boss of.

I got an interesting opportunity to do more worldbuilding for the comic during the character interviews contest I did for my 200th episode. People asked very intriguing questions that made me ponder and cough up answers. I recommend letting people interview your characters--or filling out a fact sheet on them--if you want to dig into their personalities and figure out more about their world. You can answer questions in their voices and styles to get to know them better. I would definitely say "worldbuilding" isn't all about naming your mountain ranges and figuring out dragons' life cycles and making pretty maps. You have to figure out details to how things work in general. This comic includes a telekinetic baby. Figuring out the rules of how her superpowers work seems pretty important--what she can do, what are the limits, etc.--but figuring out how that affects her physically and mentally and socially is also important. That's the central question at the heart of this comic, actually.

I mentioned at the beginning of this ramble that I kind of had two answers to this, because even though there's a lot of more traditional worldbuilding in the backstory of Negative One, I did actually do a story with quite a lot of worldbuilding in it: That, of course, is Bad Fairy. Most of what I did was for the fairy culture. Magickal schooling, cultural attitudes toward being human vs. being a fairy (uh, or if you're mixed like protagonist Delia, what happens to you then), feudal society, politics, gender roles, religion and philosophy . . . I guess actually this is the most "epic" (and traditional) fantasy book I've written. The world itself was also rigorously examined by Delia because she challenged the status quo a LOT, so of course she had to intimately understand it before she could point out what parts of it were acceptable to her.

I think actually Bad Fairy is my work of greatest quality so far, and the worldbuilding in it is part of the reason for that. The only thing that's a little glitchy is that introducing the element of fairies (who have magickal powers) into pre-industrial society and making up a society that would have evolved naturally with these gifted people among them really leaves a lot of questions. Especially as to what would be very different about life in the middle ages. It really changes everything. I noticed that lifespans are generally accepted as longer and women aren't marrying/having children anywhere NEAR as early as they really did in medieval times. I think this is because the fairies can heal people. I also think this sets back medical science ridiculously. Everything the fairies have a shortcut to causes the humans to be less interested in investigating "mundane" ways to do it. But fairies being able to shortcut in the first place also makes science easier to understand in some ways. Fairies can explain what they feel and do when they make water evaporate faster than it naturally should, so any one of them could tell you how evaporation works. They can intimately understand natural processes and add to mundane understanding when they tap into such things with their abilities. But on top of that, fairies are just rare enough to be in demand, and their services aren't cheap, which adds at least some incentive for the poor to be innovative in getting mundane solutions to life's problems.

I loved figuring out how fairy society worked and investigating the laws of the afterlife with Delia through her peculiar associations with it, and I had a great time figuring out the in-depth magickal curriculum she took on during her younger years (you know, trying to figure out what's easy and what's hard and what's POSSIBLE with magick; I'll tell you right now it wasn't Harry Potter with the whole wand motion + correct magic words thing!). What are the rules for fairies' religious rituals? What do they believe? Do they fight with humans about it? What are their romantic relationships like? The traditional fairy family? 

How are they physically different from humans (other than the telltale wings, which they are NOT born with in the Bad Fairy world)? What are the disadvantages of being a fairy (oh yes, there are a bunch of them)? How does one define whether a person counts as a fairy in cases like Delia's where there is a human parent and a fairy parent? I decided for this story that they're considered fairies if they have controllable magick, but one side thing I did wonder was whether those mixed children with only "trace" magick have as hard a time as she did. Delia had a difficult life being so human-like in some ways in a society of fairies, but it would be interesting to write about a half-fairy who got dealt different cards and wasn't talented enough in magick to go to fairy school. The other side of that coin would be interesting.

There was a LITTLE worldbuilding in Finding Mulligan too but that was mostly dreamland and it didn't have to make sense and honestly it ultimately DIDN'T. Snot monsters live in the forest and you can make the clouds rain ice cream and the marketplace is guarded by invisible wizards and Dia runs around selling persimmons out of her basket while getting admired by everyone. Not much to that.

I did some minor worldbuilding in a couple of my short stories too. Kamber from "Bloom" belongs to a culture called Kinfolk and they're sort of like the Amish except they worship a Goddess and they actually have minor magical powers (but they don't think of it that way and a lot of their crap is misunderstood by larger society). I'm gonna write that one as a novel one day, totally redone, but I like the ideas in it. Zarry from "The Curse" lives in a fictional society of mountain-dwelling agrarians and they have a bunch of traditions which he loves learning about but thinks are kind of silly. Iris from "Her Mother's Child" lives in a tribal-type fertility cult type thing where parents send their daughters into strange mating rituals after they become women. George from "Just Like Stephen" lives in a society much like ours except that some people randomly have not-very-well-understood magical powers, and if you happen to be one of these "lucky" people then you automatically become tapped as a resource by the government and you don't have a choice (though they pretend it's an honor). I did some rather poor worldbuilding with Hendrix of "Mother's Day," where he and all his brothers are clones of each other and they're a resource for the space-age society, running all the, um, science while clinging to music-based identities for individuality purposes.

As you can see I'm much more focused on the personal aspects of worldbuilding than the broader, more traditional understanding of the word. :D 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Personal Digest Saturday: June 14 – June 20

Life news this week: 

  • I finished writing a new short story and I think I'll call it "Heels Over Head." It's not finalized yet. 
  • My latest newsletter went out this past week. If you aren't subscribed and you want to be, sign up here. If you just want to look at past newsletters, I made an option for that! Go to my newsletter's page on my author site and scroll down to read all four previous issues.
  • I got to see my sister Lindsay and my dad on Monday, and we ate at New York's Best Pizza and looked at her wedding photos.
  • My baby nephew Ash turned 6 months old on the 20th and I can't even deal with it. 
  • I ate at Chili's with Jeaux this week. Then we listened to Night Vale and watched some America's Got Talent.

Places featured: 

  • My book was excerpted in TIME Magazine--but I was very put off by the errors/misleading statements they attached to it, so I didn't really share it around. They listed writing credits I don't have (said I have "written for" magazines I've only been interviewed in), and said my book talks about how asexual people can "become sexual," which I thought was misleading. (Attempts to get it fixed did not work out.) I discussed what's wrong with the article in more detail on my author site where I link it. Other than that, yeah, it's awesome to get an excerpt in TIME. It was also linked on Facebook, where it was subjected to dozens of mocking and dismissive comments of course, and got negative Twitter attention from someone who was convinced asexuality in women is more likely to be a symptom of misogyny than a real sexual orientation. So, ho hum. The usual.
  • Short story "Your Terms" was published in Timeless Tales. (You probably knew that if you read the blog.) It's pretty cool, and only 2,000 words; look for it at the end of the magazine.

Reading progress:

  • Finished Captain Underpants #9 by Dav Pilkey. ★★★
  • Currently reading Wood Nymph Seeks Centaur by Francesca Lia Block.

New singing performances:

Recorded "You Don't Love Me Anymore" by Weird Al.

New drawings:

Webcomic Negative One Issue 0475: "Since the Moon."

Critique partner Whitney Fletcher's protagonist, Ingrid, in chibi style, angry about something and/or everything.

New videos:

Asexuality at WorldPride

New photos:

Nothing new this week except my monthly hair comparison photos:

February 2014, just after chop
Back view, June 2014
Front view, post-chop
Front view, June 2014

But my sister's professional wedding photos arrived this week and I have a few of the cutest ones arranged right here:

Social Media Counts:

YouTube subscribers: 3,455 for swankivy (25 new this week), 350 for JulieSondra (4 new). Twitter followers: 504 for swankivy (8 new), 420 for JulieSondra (2 new). Facebook: 252 friends (no change) and 125 followers (1 new) for swankivy, 362 likes for JulieSondra (11 new), 48 likes for Negative One (no change), 71 likes for So You Write (1 new). Tumblr followers: 1,366 (1 new).