Today’s Kickstarter update! We’ve passed the $2K mark! If you’ve been meaning to chip in, now would be the perfect time, click here: http://kck.st/R31kCx
Thank you to everyone who has been spreading the word and telling folks about Daron’s Guitar Chronicles and our effort to publish a second paperback omnibus!
The Bi Book Awards finalists have been announced! And Circlet Press has been nominated as a finalist for Bisexual Book Publisher of the Year! Plus, two of our titles are finalists:
House of Sable Locks by Elizabeth Schechter, a dark BDSM steampunk romance, is a finalist Bisexual Erotica
The Stars Change by Mary Anne Mohanraj, a multicultural erotic space opera, is a finalist in Bisexual Speculative Fiction!
See the full list of finalists here: http://biwriters.livejournal.com/95053.html
So who’s coming to the award ceremony in NYC on May 31st?
ICFA, Night Vale, creepypasta, and post-patriarchal consumption of stories
I am at ICFA (Int’t Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts), a longstanding conference of academic research and critique in science fiction and fantasy. I’ve wanted to come to this conference for a long time, ever since Bernadette Bosky talked my ear off about it around 1993. (I was in grad school myself at the time, getting a masters in writing and publishing, and Circlet Press was about a year old at that point.)
Here we are, 20+ years later, and I’m finally here. Why this time? I actually got invited as an author guest. So here I am. I’m reading on Friday (tomorrow) at 4:15. I still haven’t figured out what to read, but I might read an abridged version of a steampunk erotic story that has never been published. The theme of the conference is Fantastic Empires and, well, of course I want to read a story that critiques the British Empire and the patriarchy.
The panel of papers I attended this morning was on creepypasta and the Welcome to Night Vale podcast. I am only passingly familiar with either, which made it fascinating, as both Night Vale and the world of creepypasta are both media that can be enjoyed in passing.
Creepypasta, if you’re not familiar with it, is the art form of bite-size horror stories (kind of like urban legends) in text or maybe an image that can easily be copy-pasted and shared on the Internet. Line Henriksen from Linkoping University presented a very coherent paper that drew together concepts from Derrida and Donna Haraway, and I can’t even begin to summarize it, nor should I since you really should be here yourself if you want to get the good stuff… but the central idea I’m taking away from it, given that I’m a non-academic and I’m here as a writer who goes to see these kinds of papers because I love to have my intellect stimulated, is this:
The idea of a detached observer who can glean any kind of “objective” truth by observing from a distance without contaminating what is being studied or being contaminated by what is being studied is a false contruct and one based on the Western patriarchal idea that the ideal observer is a white able-bodied property-owning male. Whereas both feminist critical theory and postcolonial critical theory posit that it’s in fact impossible to study a subject without engaging with it and it’s impossible to understand a subject without becoming a part of it and it becoming a part of you.
This relates to creepypasta and to Night Vale in a couple of ways, including the fact that the audience for both are not mere passive receivers of the media but are necessarily a kind of participant in the experience. When you hear the Night Vale podcast, which is done as if it is a public radio program in Night Vale itself being broadcast to its citizens, you as a listener become one of those citizens. When you read a piece of creepypasta and pass it on (or don’t) – some of these take the form of cursed chain letters that you can only lift the curse by passing it on to others – you are part of the story and the life of the meme.
More later if I have time?
Nnedi Okorafor’s ICFA GOH speech
The wonderful guest of honor luncheon address was given at ICFA today by Nnedi Okorafor, the author of many books and the winner of many awards, including the World Fantasy Award, Carl Brandon Parallax Award, and others. She is Nigerian-American, is a graduated of the Clarion sf workshop, and got her PhD at U. of Illinois over 10 years ago—I missed the exact year in the introductions. The woman introducing Nnedi described her work as books which “blends magical fantasy and political realism.”
If you read my post earlier today about the Night Vale and creepypasta panel I went to, you know that the takeaway from it for me as a writer was the idea that the concept of the protagonist (or scholar ) as a passive observer who is untouched by events in a book (or by the subject being studied) is a highly colonial one, whereas both feminist and postcolonial modes of thought accept the necessity of both the subject and the environment being changed by their interaction.
Not too surprisingly (because synchronicity), this idea came up also in Nnedi Okorafor’s speech. What follows here is a partial transcript of her speech. I don’t actually type fast enough to get 100% — I can capture about 75%, and then I have edited this down to about 50% for clarity and relevance. Also, hey, if you want ALL the good stuff, you should be coming to the conference.
Everywhere you see words in square brackets [like this] it’s where I paraphrased something she said because I couldn’t type fast enough.
Excerpt from Nnedi Okorafor’s ICFA guest of honor speech:
I was in jail the night I became the first African American to win the World Fantasy Award.
I teach at Chicago State University, located on the South Side, the distressed area. You don’t have to walk far to get to the problematic sections. The crime that Chicago is known for is found very near the university. The university is a beacon of light in a dark area. Maybe I shouldn’t have used that problematic metaphor: “dark” and “light.” Many of my students are the first in their families to go to college. For me, growing up in a privileged upper-middle-class area, it’s [been eye-opening.]
One of my favorite students was Jermaine Reid, who grew up in one of the infamous projects. I remember when the Robert Taylor Homes were still standing. When I would drive past them I would roll up my windows and speed. The way Jermaine described life there reinforced the images I had in my head [of crime and gangs]. Unlike most of his age-mates, he had no police record. In his senior year he had been accepted into a masters program as a writer. He liked to debate gun control. He would take up my whole lunchtime with his persuasive arguments like the one that everyone in Chicago should carry a gun. Can you imagine that? His arguments were so well constructed that he had convinced the class and me that he was right!
He regularly went to the gun range and kept two guns in his home. He grew up in a place where reliance on the police [for protection] was laughable.
On the way home from the gun range one time he got into an altercation with an ex-friend. He was beaten bloody and not helped by a crowd who watched, nor by the police a few blocks away who refused to intervene. That’s the way it is in Chicago. Only after he tried to flee and was choked nearly to death did he take out his gun to resolve the conflict the only way he felt he could. The guy he shot was not killed and made a full recovery. But this was why Jermaine was in jail. And on the night of the World Fantasy Awards I was going to visit him. When I parked my car that evening I was terrified for Jermaine and for myself. I wasn’t thinking about any award ceremony, though I knew the awards ceremony was that night. I had assumed I hadn’t won.
[At the jail,] the waiting room was entirely black faces except for a few Latinos. We had to leave all our things in lockers outside and we were led into the room with the chairs and thick glass to separate us from the prisoners. They were led in, orange jumpsuits, jocular. What struck me most poignantly was that they were all young black men. Jermaine noticed me immediate and came over. He told me all about the gang inside he had allied himself with. Here was a [guy who had done everything right, stayed out of gangs, etc] had gotten his BA and was on his way to his masters and yet somehow the system had still gotten him. (She urges the crowd to read the book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander.)
There is nothing rehabilitative about the American jail system. It exists to destroy those inside. I was so angry, thinking that he would never be free of that system once it got its hands on him. I got back in my car [filled with anger and emotions] and turned on my phone and my phone went crazy, making bubble sounds, as text after text came in. The first one I read was from my editor Sharyn November and it was just two words: You Won.
I felt like my mind would break the way glass shatters when it is hit with hot and cold at the same time. All the conflicting emotions I felt became like the pressure that creates a diamond.
I began to imagine an American city, maybe 50 years from now. In the downtown area was a tower, like the Cook County jail that is so near the Sears Tower. It was full of genetically created people who did not know what freedom was because they had never been free. This story that brewed hotly in my mind began as a short story, evolved into a novella, and eventually became the novel The Book of Phoenix. (Read excerpt at Clarkesworld) This is how [my creative process works]. But a Nigerian man once warned me that you can’t write about something without it writing about you.
From last year (2013) I could tell you about things that you would think came right out of my novels, but they happened to me. I’m not kidding. I could tell you about the presence of Shango the Thunder God, prophecies that came true, and conversations I had with princes. There are things my stories call forth and there are consequences for my callings.
I am okay with this now. Now.
This semester when I asked my class what they thought of sf/fantasy, one said “fantasy is unrealistic fiction.” Another said “Science fiction was fiction that could never be true.” Oh man, so much work to do! (audience laughter) Another said “Fantasy is fiction where everything is made up.” This was all this semester! This would make me laugh if I weren’t so annoyed. Some fantasy may not be concerned with realism but mine sure is.
I had a very rosy, happy childhood. I went to a terribly racist school and had racist teachers and racist friends. My next door neighbor and I both loved insects and had a good time. At eight years old we had a fight over a donut. She got mad and called me a nigger. We never spoke again. The end.
But I had a very rosy, happy childhood. When I was 16 though, I got to Lagos and I was so terrified by the chaos around me that I was hiding scrunched down in the seat [of the car]. In my first 15 minutes in Lagos I had seen a dead body in an alley, my driver spat at 10 different people and cursed them “damn your mother!” When I wrote Lagoon (Lagos is Portuguese for lagoon) I returned to all that [in my mind]. Lagos may be one of the largest cities in the world very soon, so it’s the perfect place for an alien invasion. [Hence the book.] I am due to return to Lagos soon and given that what we write about [comes true and life imitates art], maybe we should all be worried? (nervous laughter from the audience)
I will end on a thoughtful hopeful note, quoting from Ben Okri’s book Birds of Heaven, “It’s easy to forget how mighty stories are. They work with all the internal materials of mind and self… They become part of you and change you.”
Nnedi Okorafor’s website: http://www.nnedi.com (info on all her books is there)
ICFA Conference: http://iafa.highpoint.edu/annual-conference/
Birds of Heaven by Ben Okri: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/301676.Birds_of_Heaven
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6792458-the-new-jim-crow
New Bi Korean Webzine
We just found out there is a new webiste hosting a Korean-language bisexual webzine. None of us read/speak Korean, but if one of our Korean-speaking followers wants to tell us a little more about it, we’d love to know.
Funding is done! The Best Bi Short Stories fundraising campaign is over, and with the help of the community we raised the pay rate for the authors to 4 cents a word AND we raised the bar on bisexual visibility in literature and publishing. With the amount raised we funded not only the authors and an editor stipend for Sheela, but enough left over to fund a NetGalley digital review copy campaign!
So, what happens next? The book is going through a proofreading pass right now. It is on schedule to be released in May both in ebook and paperback forms.
The official launch of the book will take place on May 31st in New York City at the Bi Book Awards ceremony and BiLines Celebration which Sheela is organizing. We also hope to have copies of the book for sale at Wiscon and we hope that every bookstore that does a Pride Month display picks our book to represent the “B” in “LGBT.” To that end, if you have a bookstore in your area that you think we should contact, please send me their name. Email Cecilia directly at ctan.circletpress @ gmail. Also, if you’re going to be attending Pride events in your area and you would like postcards promoting the book to hand out or spread around, let Cecilia know and she’ll send you some!
This poster will be available as a beautiful 16x20” print for only $20 (US + Canada shipping included)! Please inquire by emailing me at email@example.com or submitting an Ask.
The limited 16x20” posters are now sold out, but I still have 11x14” prints. Please inquire by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org or submitting an Ask.
AU!Fic + Art Recs:
- Greaser!lock: “You Give Me Fever"by Michi_thekiller
- Tuna!lock: Tuna!lock Plushie by stitchnik
- Ballet!lock: Balletlock lineart by anotherwellkeptsecret
- Otter!lock: Crafts by notfittodig
- Zombie!lock: “A London Blitz" by anon
- Fem!lock: “What Comes Undone" by songlin
- Stripper!lock: “Disco Stick" by Ishmael
- Wing!lock: “The Flight of John Watson" by JessamyGriffith
- Potter!lock: “Dragon Heartstring in Ebony, Nine Inches, Quite Stubborn" by what_alchemy
- Rocker!lock: “Pull the Stars from the Sky" by Roane
- Fawn!lock: “Whose Woods These Are I Think I Know" by mamishka
- Android!lock: “Software Malfunction" by tiger_in_the_flightdeck
We’re at the exciting part of the Kickstarter campaign for BEST BI SHORT STORIES where the countdown switches from “days to go” to “hours to go”! 68 hours left. We need $700 more in order to get the authors another pay raise. Hey, that’s like $10 needed per hour until the deadline. Please reblog and share this link! http://kck.st/1gKb0tm
Six Days Left in the Best Bi Short Stories Kickstarter!
Six days left…!
We’ve got only 6 days left in the Best Bi Short Stories Kickstarter, and as of today we’re at $4,924! Seems likely by the end of the day today we’ll hit $5K. That means if we can raise just $200 per day for the final five days we’ll hit that stretch goal to pay the authors 4 cents a word!
Even better, though, the more backers we have, the more I feel we’re doing to raise bisexual visibility. There are almost 200 of you right now, the tip of a glorious iceberg. It makes me feel good about our future in a GLBTQetc nation. Please keep sharing the link (http://kck.st/1gKb0tm) and telling people about the project. Tweet it to bi community groups you know. Post it on Facebook. Share it on Tumblr. Email it, share it on Yahoogroups, etc…!
It also makes me think about the future of Gressive Press. I started this imprint of Circlet Press specifically because the few important “LGBT” presses left in this country seem more and more “L” or “G” but at a loss for what to do with “B” or “T” or anything else that can’t be categorized in their marketing boxes. The fact that Best Bi Short Stories could not find a publisher is glaring evidence of the need for a press that will work specifically outside the binaries. That’s Gressive’s mission. To be transgressive, progressive, and aggressive in the approach that the space in the overlap and in the gap is where the action is: that’s where we live.
No, there’s not a ton of money in that space. But crowdfunding like this proves that at least there’s enough to get the projects out there!
That said, who wants to edit me an anthology of trans literary stories? Could Best Trans Short Stories be next…?
Cecilia Tan, Editorial Director
Circlet Press/Gressive Press
Final week! Only seven days to go in the Best Bi Short Stories book Kickstarter! Help us pay these authors and the editor, Sheela Lambert, the way a big publisher would! http://kck.st/1gKb0tm