New Story in “What Fates Impose” Anthology! Kickstarter Details and Prizes!

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m doing my part to bring more diversity to the SFF genre. And what better way to do that than a new story!

I am excited to announce my short story, “There Are No Wrong Answers”, will be appearing in the What Fates Impose anthology, edited by my fellow Madisonianite Nayad Monroe.

Fortune-telling is a tricky endeavor. It’s the domain of an assortment of characters with various motives: charlatans looking to make a buck, true believers who may or may not have the gift, and powerful oracles who might be inclined to spin the truth for their own reasons. Which prophecies are true? Which are false? The powers of belief and wishful thinking drive the quest for a glimpse of the future–but is it a true vision? Whether the message comes from Tarot cards, tea leaves, entrails, or in my case, personality assessment, how are lives changed when predictions are made?

Nayad has gathered some awesome storytellers to peer into nature of fate. Here’s the full list of contributors:

Introduction by Alasdair Stuart: “Singing from the Book of Holy Jagger”

David Boop: “Dipping into the Pocket of Destiny”

Maurice Broaddus: “Read Me Up”

Jennifer Brozek: “A Card Given”

Amanda C. Davis: “The Scry Mirror”

Damien Walters Grintalis: “When the Lady Speaks”

Sarah Hans: “Charms”

Erika Holt: “Murder of Crows”

Keffy R.M. Kehrli: “Gazing into the Carnauba Wax Eyes of the Future”

Jamie Lackey: “Another Will Open”

Rochita Loenen-Ruiz: “Body of Truth”

Remy Nakamura: “Pick a Card”

Cat Rambo: “To Read the Sea”

Andrew Penn Romine: “Ain’t Much Different’n Rabbits”

Ken Scholes: “All Our Tangled Dreams in Disarray”

Lucy A. Snyder: “Abandonment Option”

Ferrett Steinmetz: “Black Swan Oracle”

Eric James Stone: “A Crash Course in Fate” (new) and “A Great Destiny” (reprint)

Tim Waggoner: “The Goggen”

Wendy N. Wagner: “Power Steering”

LaShawn M. Wanak: “There Are No Wrong Answers”

Beth Wodzinski: “One Tiny Misstep (In Bed)”

This anthology is being crowd-funded through Kickstarter. If it gets funded, we’ll get paid pro rates, and if goes beyond the funded goal, there’ll be more stories and artwork.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

Check out the backer’s rewards. Look on down to the $40 level, which is the Palmistry and Calligraphy level. That’s right, you’ll get a little somethin’ somethin’ from me! Pledge $40 or more and I’ll write up a 4 X 6 card from with your Myers/Briggs personality trait and its description in calligraphy. A picture sample is forthcoming.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S EVEN MORE!!!

If you pre-order the anthology before this Thursday, June 20, you will be eligible for a drawing to win prizes: artwork of tarot cards done by Nayad, a signed print of the anthology’s cover, a copy of the book with all our signatures. And as the Kickstarter meets its milestones, there will be even more prizes!

So go check out the Kickstarter, reserve your copy,  and spread the word! Every bit helps. All the answers you seek can be found within this anthology. And if it’s not the answer you’re looking for, well, at least you get some darn good stories.

Tell people about What Fates Impose on Twitter
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Edit: WE HAVE MADE OUR GOAL! Thanks to everyone who contributed! More details on the book will be out soon.

Reconciliation within the SFF genre, one writer at a time (or finally getting around to the SWFA kerfuffle)

My name is LaShawn M. Wanak, and I am a black female writer.

I’ve been making up stories since I was four years old. I’ve been reading fantasy and science fiction when kids were still in their primers. I fell in love with the whole genre and knew exactly what I wanted to be. I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to be a black writer, telling black stories, with characters who looked just like me.

I have been writing professionally now for about 9 years. I’ve garnered some sales. My name’s getting a little known. And most importantly, people are reading my stories and are being touched through them. I’m also learning a lot about the industry I’ve chosen. I’ve seen its wonders, and I’ve seen its darker bits.

I’ve been following what’s been happening in SWFA (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America for my non-writer friends) and the hullaboo over an essay that was printed in its bulletin a couple of weeks ago. The internets exploded in reaction, most decrying the essay. I did not respond because a) I haven’t read the essay because b) I’m not a SWFA member. And because I’m not a member, I don’t feel that I have enough experience to adequately respond to the situation. Besides, there are many, many others who have done so, and done it very, very well.

One of those was Nora K. Jemisen, who referenced it in her GOH speech at a Continuum in Australia last week. If you haven’t read her speech, read it now. It’s brilliant. It’s honest. It’s hopeful. And best of all, it calls for reconciliation within the SFF community. Reconciliation. This is a word I would hug if I could. It’s a word I’m used to hearing since I work in a Christian ministry, but this is the first time I heard it used within the SFF community. To use Nora’s own words:

“I do not mean a simple removal of the barriers that currently exist within the genre and its fandom, though doing that’s certainly the first step. I mean we must now make an active, conscious effort to establish a literature of the imagination which truly belongs to everyone. – See more at: http://nkjemisin.com/2013/06/continuum-goh-speech/#sthash.XbLijUKw.dpuf

It got me fired up, because yeah, I can see it, writers using bridges of words to reach those who would never step foot in communities that don’t look like their own. Stories that stretch the imagination, that would represent all cultures, that would stretch minds, put them in other people’s shoes. This is totally what I would say is my calling as a writer.

And then this happened.

Sigh.

Right.

Common wisdom for such things is to ignore it, to let this guy spew his hate and not respond. But what this guy did was not only name Nora, but he then linked it to SFWAauthors Twitter feed. SWFA caught wind of it and took it down, but the damage is done.

This is more than just a troll. This is an attack. It goes completely against what Nora called for in her speech. It is used to tear down, to discount her as a writer, as a woman, as a black person, and as human.

And do you know what that post says to me?

This is what happens if you try to make a difference. We like our organization just the way it is. And we define how women are portrayed in SFF. We like our bikinis. We like our women stupid and dependent on us. And we like them all white, because their prettier and sexier than you—well, okay, we’ll allow Asian girls, because they’re nice and quiet and subservient.. And if you try to say anything about it, we will tear you down, rip your head off, drag your name through shit, because that’s what you deserve, you monkey you. So go ahead and write your stories, little little girl. You can even join. But keep your head down, don’t make waves, and most of all, keep your fat lips shut.

There are many writers, not just black writers, not just women writers, but all sorts of writers, who will not join because of this.

And this is why I am writing this post.

I’m writing this because I don’t know if I’m going to join SWFA. I don’t think I’m at the point of my writing career where it would be beneficial to me, at this point. (David Steffen wrote a post that sums up my feelings quite well.) But if I do decide to join in the future, it would be because there are writers like Nora and Mary Robinette Kowal and Jim C. Hines and Nisi Shawl and so many others who have paved the way before me, fighting to bring diversity to a genre that needs it so desperately. Because they refuse to be silent, because they call out bullshit when they see it. Sometimes they’re successful. Sometimes they’re not. And sometimes, people would viciously attack them.

I’m writing this not just to show my support to Nora (and did I tell you she’s going to be GOH at Wiscon in 2014?) but to support her vision of reconciliation that is so much bigger than any one of us. And the only way for that to happen is for us to write our stories, our own stories, and get them published, and write more stories and get those published.

I’m writing this because I am a black female writer, and this affects me deeply.

If you wish to show support for the vision of reconciliation in SFF as well, there are a couple of ways to do it.

1) If you are a member of SWFA, you can demand for the expulsion guy who wrote that damaging post. It’s true that he can say whatever he wants, but to use SWFA as a platform for such harmful threats is uncalled for.

2) If you’re an writer of color, or a woman writer, or genderqueer, keep writing. Don’t let this guy dissuade you from submitting. There are markets out there hungry for your stories. And if you’re an editor or publisher, please, make these voices heard.

3) If you’re a reader, expand your reading tastes. Don’t know where to start? The Carl Brandon Society Awards page has some good recommendations. This Tor post is also has an awesome list of POC and women authors in SFF.

It will take a while, but I do believe SFF can one day reflect true diversity. I’m doing my part, and tomorrow, you’ll see how. And if you can’t wait until tomorrow, here’s a sneak preview.

Book Review: Dune

Dune
Dune by Frank Herbert
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I first read Dune as a teenager. I could’ve sworn a lot more happened in the first book than I thought, like Duncan Idaho being cloned, a weird girl-woman running around, Paul turning into a gigantic worm; actually I’m not really sure about that last one. I think it was more of a book cover I saw than it happening in the story. But then again, I guess I read so many Dune books that they somewhat merged into one gigantic behemoth of a tale.

Rereading the book now in my 40s, I was glad to recognize most of what made Dune memorable: the Fremen culture. The worms. And lots of spice and sand, sand and spice. And now that I’m older, I was able to pick up on *why* there was so much intrigue over the spice. And I also saw that the whole plot was pretty much “Avatar”. Guy from privileged background enters lowers class world, where he is instantly deemed their prophesied Messiah, and what do you know, hey presto, he does become their Messiah. And once he does, he becomes…well…dull, because if you know everything and can do everything and can see everything, there’s really not much else you can do.

A couple of things disturbed me. The first was how we never see Paul’s son. Because his birth and death takes place offscreen, he is more of a concept. He doesn’t give any insight into Paul, and Paul doesn’t seem all that affected. The strongest time I connected to Paul was after he had learned his father was dead. We were tuned into his emotions, his shock, his fear as he and his mother ran for their lives. At that point, Paul felt real to me.

But towards the later part of the book, Paul does all this stuff, yada yada yada, and oh hey, he has a son. We don’t see Paul interacting with him. I don’t think we even learn his name. Paul has a son, and then he doesn’t. And he’s too far gone to grieve. But we never had a chance to connect with the kid, so we don’t grieve either. Maybe Herbert meant to do this to show how much of a god Paul was turning into, but to me, it made Paul less of a character, and I was disturbed at how we’re not allowed to get into Chani’s grief, because she was definitely affected.

And that’s the other thing. When Paul announces that he will marry Princess Irunlan, and Chani, who is deserving of someone far better than Paul, is reduced to a concubine. But Lady Jessica says, “No it’s okay. She has his name but you’ll have his heart.” And then, end scene. That was…surprisingly bleak.

You know…being a woman in Dune *sucks*.

Maybe that’s why I remember the other Dune books better than this one. There’s so much prophecy that there was no real tension in the book other than when Duke Leto dies. Paul is so busy fulfilling prophecy that towards the end, he’s more an idea than a person. So the character development is shifted to other characters: Lady Jessica, the Baron, Alia (who I found very, very intriguing). The other Bene Gesserits. Even Duncan Idaho stands out to me, and he’s dead for most of this book. But Paul? Sadly, he’s easily forgettable.

2 worms out of 5. And for some reason I’m thirsty. I’m going to get some water. Lots and lots of water.

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