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New Release – We Are Not This Charity Anthology

October 30, 2016 Leave a comment

51rxx8jz1xlI’m happy to announce that my story “Trapped” is included in the newest release from Falstaff Books, “We Are Not This: Carolina Writers for Equality Charity Anthology.” Proceeds for this anthology go to Time Out Youth, Equality NC, and Queen City Theater Company.

This book is important to me and not only because my story is in it. Sit back and I’ll tell you a little story.

Once upon a late March afternoon in 2016, the North Carolina legislature decided that Charlotte’s inclusive stance regarding trans people using bathrooms consistent with their gender expression was a step too far in the direction of progress and equality. In reaction, a bill was introduced to the house in a special session and pushed through in a shocking burst of activity otherwise unknown in government process. Before the sun set, Governor Pat McCrory signed the bill into law.

But why is everyone so up in arms about HB2? Isn’t it meant to protect? (Read it here)

It depends on who you ask. Advocates for the bill insist it is designed to protect “women and children” against specifically male sexual predators masquerading as women to invade the privacy of public bathrooms and victimize them in that space.

But, it really doesn’t, and the bill does more than that.

The bill is a reaction to the idea of inclusion and equality recognizing trans people as people of their expressed gender identity instead of biological sex. It codifies discrimination and inequality in a way that is harmful to our fellow human beings and citizens. But despite the focus of the media and the conversation about this bill, it doesn’t ONLY target the LGBTQ community. It touches EVERYONE by preventing cities and counties from setting a minimum wage and by establishing definitions of protected classes and changes the way charges of discrimination can be adjudicated when the discrimination claim is based on race, religion, color, national origin, biological sex or disability. Originally, the bill removed the ability for claimants to pursue the charges in state court, but was amended. Charges of discrimination can now be pursued in state courts, but changed the statute of limitations from 3 years to 1 year (source).

But why is this important? Is it really about the bathrooms?

No – this law makes it possible for someone to be fired simply for being gay or transgender and limits the recourse against discriminatory behaviors. (source)

Take that in. North Carolina businesses can legally fire someone for sexual orientation or gender identity.

Legal codification of discrimination is something I cannot ignore. I have spoken out about it, I have communicated with my representatives and senators, I have signed petitions and made donations. Contributing to this anthology is another way I can do something to help those who are affected by North Carolina’s reprehensible HB2 “Bathroom Bill.”

I commend John Hartness at Falstaff Books for driving the development of this anthology and for his outspoken stance against this bill. I’m honored to be included with so many awesome authors to show that We Are Not This, and that we will not tolerate hate.

Get your copy digitally now. Print editions coming soon.

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Fall is in the air

September 14, 2015 Leave a comment

I know, it’s been forever since I’ve posted anything. I’m not dead. At least in the traditional sense. I am up and walking around, and mostly aware of my surroundings which is enough to say that I am alive; spiritual and mental viability are still under review. (Such is the state of affairs when combining almost-full-time-student status with full-time-job-adulting-adult status. You have been warned.)

So why now? Because reasons. Things bug me and sometimes it helps to get them out of my head so I can focus. Because fall is the time of year when I start to feel alive again and emerge from my air-conditioned cocoon to see what’s happened to the sun-baked world outside. Because I’ve been reading wonderful things that make me want to talk about them. Because this course load is lighter than any I’ve had in a while. Because I’m procrastinating the fuck out of reading for my philosophy class. Like I said: reasons.

But this morning, I woke up to a cool morning that smelled like fall, and although I am not of the white girl clan of UGGs and pumpkin spice everything, I did have a butternut squash soup for lunch and a turkey sammich with apples in it, so I’m feeling a little jazzed from all the sugar. And now, you “benefit.”

I won’t make promises, because, let’s face it – I’m busy and, as it should be, what free writing time I have is reserved for writing fiction. I am going to use my platform here to say some things, and they are interesting enough that I think others might enjoy them, or at least want to start talking about them. I do know that you’ll see this post, and two more after it (since they’re already written). Beyond that, we’ll play by ear.

So, sit back with your pumpkin spice UGGs, or whatever fall-y type treat you enjoy most and let’s see where this takes us, ok?

Dun dun…dun dun…

It’s that time of the year. That time people are venturing out into the water, and the irrational lizard brain that lurks in my skull thinks of nothing but that damned movie. The one with the two note villain.

Now, I may have mentioned it before, but I have something close to a phobia when it comes to sharks. Though I lived in NE for much of my young life and knew that these toothsome predators were unlikely (though not impossible) in my ecological neck of the…ocean, I still never had much interest in swimming in the ocean. Frankly, even lakes with fish sometimes freak me out. I’m much more comfortable in pools, and even rivers feel a little less stressful (unless they’re coastal. Bull sharks, after all.) than the open water of the Big Blue. It is one of my goals that when I finish with school (hopefully another year or so) and after a little physical preparation, I’m going to go shark diving off Guadalupe Island and see the Great Whites up close.

Yikes, dude.

Talk about facing your fears head on.

But seriously, I’m going to do it. I believe myself a little more each time I say it, too. So the irrational fear has becomes something of a fascination. Instead of imagining the animatronic Bruce from the movie Jaws, I am just thinking “big predator with big teeth, massive appetite and dangerous curiosity.” The curiosity and big teeth being the problem for most people. If you don’t have hands, the way you feel your way through the world is with your chompers….ouch.

Sooo….. given my love of all things horror, I picked up the audiobook of Jaws by Peter Benchley and thought it appropriate for a summer “read.” What I found most interesting was how the story completely and profoundly changed from in the translation from book to movie. I’ve seen the movie plenty of times to note the differences almost immediately, but in the sake of fairness, before I start talking about them, I’m going to go re-watch the film. Look for an upcoming post about this odd couple – the book and the film, Jaws.

It’s the End of the World as We Know it…

July 6, 2014 1 comment

…and I feel fine…

(You’re welcome for the earworm, by the way.)

Ok, so maybe I just got back from a weekend of being spoiled, maybe I’m sporting a sparkly red mani/pedi, and maybe I have a glass of wine sitting right beside me. Maybe I ought to be doing homework, but instead, I’m watching Thor: The Dark World and drooling over Tom Hiddleston and the thought of him ruling me like a benevolent god, but hey, it’s Sunday, my weekly minimum scholastic requirements have been met, and I’m taking a bit of a break. Things are, in general, looking up, or I’ve gotten on balance enough to roll with the chaos around me. Either way, I have at least the beginning of a track built and enough gusto to get back on what’s there. It may be slow going, but a beginning is a beginning is a beginning.

To kick off a new beginning, let’s start at the end. The end of the world.

I love apocalyptic fiction, and to celebrate the upcoming release of World of Trouble: The Last Policeman Book III by Ben H. Winters on Tuesday, I’ll be doing Something Like a Review on the whole series. The first book will be reviewed on Tuesday, The Last Policeman, followed by Countdown City on Sunday, and a review of World of Trouble on release day!

That is enough for now. Please excuse me while I drool over Tom and Chris Hemsworth, who is “still all muscly and everything…” I’ll be back later with more. Until then…

 

 

I Get Knocked Down…

…and though I get up again, the really tough punches make that a real slow process.

I’m here. I’m alive (kind of), and though I should be used to the whole school thing, last semester was brutal. Especially the last two weeks, from about mid-April through the end of the first week of May, wherein I lost my “straight A’s since the beginning of school” status. I blew my toughest class yet in the last two weeks of the semester. Though for many this is just a FWP, to me, this was one of my badges of honor. There were other things, of course, but this was the proverbial straw. It was the final declaration that not only had Murphy implemented martial law, I was repaying some kind of karmic debt held over from an entire lifetime – in one two-week span. Suffice to say, it was less than pleasant.

Prior to the punch in the gut that the last two weeks of April became, I’d planned on using the inter-semester break writing glorious book reviews and flooding the intertubes with those wonderful words. Instead, I became something of a hermit crab. I hibernated (though it was 90 degrees out), played a disgusting amount of 2048 and Plague Inc., watched too much crappy TV (and some good), wrote when I could sit still for more than 5 minutes without falling asleep, and, well, sleeping.

Two weeks in adult time is very, very short. It doesn’t really give you time to heal from the bruises when you are unceremoniously kicked in the ass down a flight of stairs and land squarely on your head. It doesn’t make the bitter pill of frustration-unfairness any easier to swallow, and it certainly isn’t enough time to get over the desire to resign from this whole adult business. But it is enough time to haul your bruised ass off the floor and start dragging it to the next obstacle, in this case – another semester. Here’s to hoping that I’ll not accrue so many psychic scars this time.

I’d promise more blog posts coming soon, but since I don’t make promises I don’t keep, I won’t. I do have some planned, so I hope you’ll stick around. Until then, enjoy my current writing playlist….surely to be a topic of a blog post at some point.

Something Like a Review – Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

January 19, 2014 Leave a comment

It’s no surprise that when this book came out, I snapped it up at my local brick and mortar (albeit big chain) book store. I wanted it. Had to have it, but I was skeptical. I felt content that Danny Torrence got his deserved “happily ever after” when the smoke cleared and the therapy was concluded and perhaps after his hefty share of mood-altering drugs. I mean, it would be only fair after you lived through that kind of hell in the snowy Colorado mountains, right?

I bought it even though I was trepidatious, and I didn’t really have any concrete expectations of the book, which is probably a good thing. I’d read little bits and pieces of information about it, and it was enough that I thought I’d be able to engross myself in it while on vacation.

I’m glad I didn’t have any expectations; they probably would not have been met.

Doctor Sleep was not a bad book. It had some really interesting angles and elements, but it just didn’t…work for me as a sequel to the life of Danny Torrence. Even with his past, I feel like this could easily have been another character with the same “shining” he had and the story would not have suffered from the change.  The only thing I can think that might have changed my perception of the book was how long ago I read The Shining. While it wasn’t that far back that I don’t remember it, it’s far gone enough that I don’t vividly remember most scenes. Don’t get me wrong, the book left enough scars on my brain that they won’t ever be gone and I get chills thinking about spending a week in the Stanley Hotel (more about that later), but you readers will understand. I know, I remember, but they are the slightly sunbleached memories of paper decorations left too long in a window.

The True Knot’s pursuit of and acquisition of steam was great, and I liked precocious little Abra as much as I liked Danny when he was little. Danny seemed real, and genuinely a kid of a traumatic childhood, but in a sense, it felt like he was living the epilogue to his father’s life. The sins of the father, so to speak. His challenges were great, his guilt and his demons his own, but it just felt like something was missing from this book, though I don’t think *what* is something that can be defined. It was a pretty quick read for me, partly because the story is King’s typical ramp from the mundane into a crescendoing race for your life, and partly because I was invested in knowing what happened to Danny and how it all worked out in the end. I liked the book, but I didn’t love it and for a devout King fan-girl like me, that’s saying something.

Medium: Dead-tree version from brick-and-mortar store. 

Other: Available in various formats from Amazon.com

Overall rating: 3 stars

Potential re-read: Maybe. When I have time, I may re-read The Shining and then go right into this one to see if it changes my perception of the book.

Dead-tree worthy?: As a collector of Stephen King books, yes. As a reader, this is a hefty volume to house when one is not in love with it. It’s hard to say. “Maybe” is the best, most clear answer I can give. YMMV.

The 2014 Reading Non-Challenge

January 8, 2014 Leave a comment

Last year, I set a goal of reading a list of 30 books for my 2013 challenge. While I surpassed that number (I read something like 40 books – but I haven’t finished listing them to know for certain), I didn’t manage to get through my actual list. I think part of this is a.) I’m very easily distracted by shiny new books, b.) trying to fish through my TBR pile is a treacherous endeavor, and c.) as amazing and wonderful as Audible can be, I don’t always relish spending credits on an audiobook when I have the physical copy. Not to mention that I’m more likely to try something as an audiobook that I wouldn’t pick up as a physical book. Part of this latter bit is that I can listen to an audiobook ANYWHERE without requiring time spent devoted to the book. I can do dishes, clean the house, file Magic cards, fold laundry, drive or even grocery shop while listening to a book instead of sitting down with all of my attention and time focused on the pages before me. This is much easier to take, especially if I’m not sure if I’m going to love it or not. There have been books (like I am Malala) where the audiobook led to the purchase of the physical copy, and there are some books that as good as they were, I am glad I don’t have to find some way of liquidating the copy to free up shelf space for something more intellectually valuable for me.

Instead of saying that I’m going to read a specific list of books, as I have over the past few years, I am simply going to say that I will read 45 books in 2014. This is a slight stretch beyond where I was last year, but I think that it will be achievable. (Hell, by the time I’m done with all my reviewing, I may have read that many last year. Either way, keeping that pace while taking 9 credits of classes is an achievement, in my opinion.)

I will still keep track of the ones I want to read, because even though I didn’t read them, I still want to. Here’s last year’s amended list:

  1.     The Legend of Eli Monpress (omnibus) – Rachel Aaron
  2.     House of Leaves – Mark Z. Danielewski (in progress)
  3.     Lovecraft Unbound – edited by Ellen Datlow
  4.     Darkness – edited by Ellen Datlow
  5.     The Ghost Pirates -William Hope Hodgson
  6.     The Kingdom of the Gods – N. K. Jemisin (the remainder)
  7.     Book of the Supernatural – edited by Stephen Jones
  8.     Salem’s Lot – Stephen King
  9.     Conjure Wife – Fritz Leiber
  10.     Dreams of Terror and Death – HP Lovecraft
  11.     V Wars – Jonathan Mayberry
  12.     The Summoner – Gail Z. Martin
  13.     Mad Kestrel – Misty Massey
  14.     Richard Matheson: Collected stories 1
  15.     Richard Matheson: Collected stories 2
  16.     Richard Matheson: Collected stories 3
  17.     Burn, Witch, Burn – A. Merritt
  18.     Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell (in progress)
  19.     Thanks, But This Isn’t for Us – Jessica Page Morrell (the remainder)
  20.     The Trouble with Eating Clouds – Edmund Schubert
  21.     To Walk the Night – William Sloane
  22.     The Dream World of HP Lovecraft – Donald Tyson
  23.     Necronomicon – Donald Tyson
  24.     Alhazred – Donald Tyson
  25.     The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There – Catherynne M. Valente
  26.     Darker Than You Think – Jack Williamson
  27.     The Dark Descent – edited by David Hartwell (the remainder)
  28.     Scattered, Smothered, and Chunked – John Hartness
  29.     Luka and the Fire of Life – Salman Rushdie
  30.     Boneshaker – Cherie Priest

Some of the books I’m adding to my “To Read” shelf in Goodreads this year include some actual classics and others that are more modern classics. Many of these, I have already read, but want to revisit for various reasons. Some of them, I’ve never taken the time to read before.

  • Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury (re-read)
  • The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald (re-read)
  • Les Miserables – Victor Hugo
  • To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
  • The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
  • Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass – Lewis Carroll
  • 1984 – George Orwell (re-read)
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
  • American Gods – Neil Gaiman
  • Vathek – William Beckford
  • Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier
  • The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson (re-read)
  • The Turn of the Screw – Henry James
  • The Terror – Dan Simmons
  • Books of Blood – Clive Barker
  • The King in Yellow – Robert Chambers
  • A Song of Ice and Fire (The Game of Thrones series) – George R. R. Martin

Let’s see how far we shall get. I’m already one book down for 2014, so yay me! Let’s hope I can keep up this kind of pace and hit 45 this year!

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