Vox Day’s involvement in the Sad Puppies slate

So if you normally read my blog for the local politics or because you’re one of my family members, that is the sort of subject line that should tell you immediately that you’ve stumbled into some sort of unfolding drama that you’re not in on. Fortunately, Arthur Chu wrote a fantastic article that should bring you up to speed, if for some reason you want to dive in: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/04/12/right-wing-trolls-hijack-scifi-oscars.html

(8 million words of SF fandom politics below the merciful-to-the-rest-of-you cut.)

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MarsCon schedule

Marscon is this weekend. If you live in the Twin Cities and find Convergence fun but have never been to Marscon, you should check it out. If you live in the Twin Cities and quit coming to Convergence because it’s too crowded, you should come to Marscon because it’s like a much smaller version of Convergence.

Here’s my schedule, if you want to find me:

Friday 04:00 pm
How Come Nobody’s Heard Of Me, Dammit!!
Room 419 (Krushenko’s)
Let’s figure out all the things we did wrong!
With: Lyda Morehouse, Naomi Kritzer, mod.; Bruce Bethke, Rachel Gold, Michael Merriam

Friday 09:00 pm
Costuming on a Budget
I Blue Heron (Masquerade Lounge)
Costuming has the potential of becoming an expensive hobby (or even career), but it doesn’t have break your budget. We will discuss where to get inexpensive (or free!) materials, DIY, and tips and tricks for taking advantage of the network, barter and trade strategy. Plus we’ll showcase our own thrifty costume creations.
With: Dorianne McCreary, Naomi Kritzer

Saturday 04:00 pm
Lyda Morehouse Interview
Room 419 (Krushenko’s)
Learn about the mind and works of our Author Guest of Honor.
With: Lyda Morehouse, Naomi Kritzer, Interviewer

Saturday 08:00 pm
The Wyrdsmiths: Twenty Years
III Eagle’s Nest (Re(a)d Mars)
GoH Lyda Morehouse is in a writers’ group that was founded in 1994. How does a critique group sustain itself for two decades?
With: Lyda Morehouse, Naomi Kritzer, mod.; Eleanor Arnason; other members if they show up. (Probably depends on how their weekend is going.)

Sunday 03:00 pm
Convoluted Quests: The Modern Writing Career
III Eagle’s Nest (Re(a)d Mars)
Book contracts, self-publishing, short fiction, editing… writing careers these days are often made up of a patchwork of options. Join GoH Lyda Morehouse and other professional writers to talk about how they’ve dealt with current publishing realities.
With: Lyda Morehouse, Naomi Kritzer, mod.; Bruce Bethke, Roy C. Booth, Michael Merriam, Kathryn Sullivan

Hey, just what are your qualifications, anyway?

Hi! I am Naomi Kritzer, SF and fantasy writer and election-season political blogger. I lived in Minneapolis from 1995 to 2012, and now live in St. Paul. Before that, I attended college in Northfield. I grew up mostly in Madison, Wisconsin.

This blogging thing evolved gradually, mostly on LiveJournal. I was doing research on the bottom-of-the-ballot candidates like the people running for Soil & Water, and I was taking notes anyway, and I figured that probably some of my LJ friends would appreciate the information, so I put it in a blog post. I have continued to do this partly because some people find it useful and partly because I find it entertaining. I frame it as endorsements because, well, that’s what you call it when you’re telling people who to vote for, right?

I have no special qualifications and I make no pretense of being unbiased here. I’m a Democrat. I am guessing that there are Republicans who read my blog to find out who NOT to vote for in those down-ballot races, and that’s totally fine. (I am happy that you are finding them useful! albeit in the opposite way from what I might have intended.) My primary research tool is Google.

If you don’t find my political blogging to be either useful or entertaining, then by all means do not read it. If you feel that I am describing candidates in completely unfair or woefully incomplete ways then for goodness’ sake start a blog and write about candidates in a way that fully reflects their complexity and your own viewpoint. If you send me a link, I may even link to you. (Or you can leave a link in a comment, though I’m still figuring out the WordPress comment moderation functions and it’s possible I will accidentally delete it because WordPress marked it as spam and I clicked the wrong thing — anyway, I hesitate to make promises here because I might break them out of sheer technical ineptitude. But my INTENTION would be to leave the links in place.)

If you want to get in touch with me for whatever reason, my e-mail address is exactly what you would expect based on my name and my fondness for using Google.

Every year now, I get asked whether I would be willing to do this for other areas. If someone were willing to pay me in actual money, I would probably do it, but here’s the basic problem: within my own stomping grounds, I have a pretty solid knowledge base. If someone in Minnesota is talking about LGA, NRP, or LRT, I don’t have to look those acronyms up to find out what they mean. (Local Government Aid, Neighborhood Revitalization Project, Light Rail Transit.) I know what issues everyone agrees on vs. what is highly controversial and I’ve lived here long enough that I’ve seen those change over time. I know the history of certain politicians, so that when someone mentions they have an endorsement from Jackie Cherryhomes or Tim Penny, that sends some very specific signals about who they are. I know which suburbs are fancy and expensive and which are not, I know where the various immigrant groups live, and I know the political reputations of the various Minneapolis neighborhoods. I will not claim to recognize every dog-whistle term but I will for sure catch some of them.

The minute I step outside even my specific part of Minnesota that knowledge base is gone. So if, say, I were to research a school board race in Pennsylvania, first I’d have to find out how they even do school funding in Pennsylvania. (Minnesota has a somewhat unusual system. It’s excellent, actually, you should all switch to it.) If it was all property-tax based I’d need to know if this was a town that was, in general, pretty open-handed or not. When I scanned the list of endorsements, I would have no idea whether I was seeing the names of the people who killed last year’s property tax increase or the people who campaigned for it. So it would be vastly more time consuming and there’s a really good chance I would miss something, though certainly I could still make fun of people. (There’s no way THAT could go wrong…) At the request of a friend I looked up a suburban race last year and even though I was reading about a race in either Richfield or Bloomington, which are just barely south of South Minneapolis, I felt shockingly out of my depth.

If you have any questions about me or my background, please feel free to ask them in the comments.

MarsCon Schedule

I’ll be at MarsCon this coming weekend, March 7th – 9th.  If you’re hoping to see me there, here’s my schedule:

Getting into the mind of a religious fanatic
Saturday 11:00 a.m., Exec Lounge (Krushenko’s)
Uber villain or bit player, what are they like? Are there any useful generalizations? Are they likely to be suicidal and does that depend on the religion or the person? How can they make for interesting novels and stories without being stereotyped and one dimensional? 
With: Naomi Kritzer, mod.; P M F Johnson, Lyda Morehouse, G. David Nordley, David E. Romm, Ozgur K. Sahin

The Press vs. Science
Saturday 1 p.m., Atrium 2 (Re(a)d Mars)
What are some of the greatest howlers in science coverage? What’s the most common kind of reportorial error? What happens when scientists try to write their own press releases? What happens when institutional PR departments do it?
With: Rob Callahan, mod.; Dr. Tom Gardner, Naomi Kritzer, G. David Nordley

Timing and Pacing
Sunday 11 a.m., Exec Lounge (Krushenko’s)
What does timing have to do with writing? How do you know where to put your action/dialogue/sex scene? How can you tell if you have it in the wrong place? How does this differ between novels and shorter works? What horrible things can go wrong? Why do writers’ groups have trouble gauging pacing in novels? Is there such a thing as too fast in pacing?
With: S.N. Arly, mod.; Naomi Kritzer, Lyda Morehouse

Finding the Key to Your Imagination
Sunday 1 p.m., Exec Lounge (Krushenko’s)
What is imagination? Where does it come from? Some of us are blessed (or cursed) with an excess, and others have very little. Most folks think it’s okay for kids to engage in imaginary play and exercise their imaginations, but a lot of folks think it’s odd of grownups to do the same. Does our culture hinder and damage creative impulses? How do you find your imagination if it’s gone missing? How do you keep it engaged and strong? Is it a use it or lose it proposition?
With: Esther Friesner, S.N. Arly, mod.; Haddayr Copley-Woods, Stryder Dancewolffe, Naomi Kritzer

I will also be around, possibly with kids in tow (I apologize in advance if someone wants to chat with me and I get dragged off by a demanding ten-year-old).

Ravenclaw Kiera, Gryffindor Molly

An old photo of the girls dressed in costumes.

Stories Published in 2013 (that you can nominate for awards, should you feel moved)

This is an Award Awareness Post, where I’m going to tell you, “Here’s what I published last year! In case you want to nominate it for shiny prizes!”)  I will note in my defense that when nominating stories, I appreciate being able to find out easily whether things I liked were Short Stories or Novelettes and precisely where they got published in which month (since you always have to write that stuff down).  So.  In case you think I’m awesome, are nominating for one of the genre awards (or non-genre! heck, feel free to nominate my penis story for the arty-est most thoroughly literary award out there, if you’re on the nominating committee) and want to know what all I published last year so you can nominate for me for ALL THE THINGS… here you go!

Novelette

“Solidarity,” The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, March/April 2013.  This is a seastead story, with the same setting and characters as “Liberty’s Daughter” and “High Stakes” (which were published in F&SF in May/June 2012 and Nov/Dec 2012.)

Short Story

“The Wall,” Asimov’s Science Fiction, April/May 2013. This is my time-travel-Berlin-Wall story, in which a college student in 1989 is approached by a woman claiming to be her, from the future, and trying to persuade her to go to Berlin to see the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Bits, Clarkesworld, October. This is the penis story. It’s online and it’s free, so you could go read it right now if you haven’t already. I realized the other week that if you look me up on the Internet, it’s currently the third hit. So this means that the lady I was chatting with at the parent coffee at school, who found out I was an author and wrote down my name: if she googled me, she’s probably now read it.  

Dramatic Presentation (Short Form)

BitsClarkesworld, October. There’s an audio version!  Read by Kate Baker.

Otherwise, perhaps I can interest you in a lovely picture of one of my cats:

Cat Picture
Blogs are for cat pictures.

 

Yuletide Fanfic

For years, I’ve enjoyed reading Yuletide stories.  Yuletide, for those who are not aware of it, is an annual fanfic exchange.  When you sign up, you request a story (you actually have to give multiple possible options) and you also offer to write one (ditto). You volunteer and request based on “fandoms,” which in the context of Yuletide can sometimes be as narrow as a single blog post or a TV commercial.  Yuletide does require that the fandoms be small, or at least smallish — you can’t request or offer Harry Potter-based stories, Avengers, anything that has a huge amount of fanfic already.

Stories have to be turned in by late Christmas Eve, and everyone gets their story on Christmas Day.  Authors remain secret until January 1st. All the stories are in an archive and can be sorted by fandom, so you can poke through and read all the stuff that appeals to you.  (A Little Princess?  Allstate’s “Mayhem” commercials? Georgette Heyer’s Venetia?  They’re all in there.)

This year I decided I wanted to play. I was assigned to write for someone who wanted Code Name Verity fanfic, and wrote a story called Damask Roses (it’s also Rose Under Fire fanfic) and I wrote a Treat (an unassigned story I wrote because I looked at a bunch of prompts and felt inspired) about Disney Princesses at a college called Four Things That Weren’t Adequately Covered in Mulan’s RA Training.

The story I received was Addams Family (the movie) fanfic called College First.  It’s perfect — filled with spot-on bits of deadpan dialog.

Lucifer Cast to Earth

Lucifer, as depicted in John Milton’s well-known derivative work, “Paradise Lost.”

I’ve written derivative work before — in fact, I’ve sold it, as you can totally do if you’re deriving from something in the public domain.  “In the Witch’s Garden” (published in Realms of Fantasy in October 2002, available now in Gift of the Winter King and Other Stories) is loosely based on “The Snow Queen” by Hans Christian Andersen.  “The Golem” (published in Realms of Fantasy in October 2000, available now in Comrade Grandmother and Other Stories) draws on the Jewish legend of the golem created by Rabbi Loew.

I’ve also written straight-up fanfic, but not on AO3 and not in Yuletide, so that was really a new experience.

“Four Things” … was really popular.  And here’s the thing about fanfic — no one’s writing it for money, obviously, so there’s this whole culture surrounding it where people are rewarded for their writing and encouraged to write more with compliments. You do get compliments with pro writing; I’ve gotten some really lovely e-mails over the year, and my most recent published story, Bits, has a comments section with eight comments. By contrast, “Four Things” has 353 kudos (basically like a Facebook “like,” only more specifically adulatory) and 40-some comments, all of them saying things like, “you are SO AWESOME.”

You just do not ever get that sort of feedback in pro writing normally. Unless you are so famous that you are also getting stalkers. It’s a funny thing.

And the weird flip side of this is that with pro writing I also always feel slightly embarrassed and awkward about compliments. (I avoid reviews, even good ones; they tend to paralyze me. The bad ones make me think, “oh my god, she’s totally right: I DO suck.” The good ones make me think, “oh my god, I’m totally going to let this person down.” This is totally neurotic, and yet I know a lot of other writers with this same problem — it’s not just me.) Whereas with the fanfic I read every comment and let everyone’s opinion of my brilliance buoy me up. It felt good.

Anyway. Yuletide was fun. Whether I do it next year will once again depend on whether I remember to sign up, though.