The lovely Sheila Deeth is hosting me over at her blog today, where we’re talking about my Twelve Kingdoms story, Negotiation. Come on over!
Month: September 2013
Writing About Real People – When Do You Disguise Who They Are?
My editor at Kensington, Peter Senftleben, asked me to draw a map of my world in the Twelve Kingdoms trilogy. This is what I plan to mail him tomorrow. In a poster tube, because it’s big! Though I hadn’t drawn anything in a really long time (20 years? More?), I enjoyed doing this more than I thought I would.
However, I also plan to tell him that, if they want to have a real illustrator redo it, my feelings won’t be at all hurt.
So, this week’s topic in the Word Whores bordello is – *rummages around in the purple pimp hat we store topics in* – Basing Characters on real-life people: the dangers and advantages. Hie on over yonder, to read more.
Another Reason I Love Starbucks
You all know I’m a Starbucks fan.
If you don’t, you just haven’t been reading. Which is fine! But, you know, it’s in the standard Facts About Jeffe.
And yeah, yeah, yeah – I’ve heard the whole song and dance about corporate coffee and how, eyew, Starbucks coffee tastes burnt and I should support local coffee shops. The thing is, I go to local coffee shops and 1) chances are it will take forever to get my beverage, 2) it’s a total crapshoot what it will taste like and what kind of caffeine impact it will have. These things are important to me. I like that roasted Starbucks flavor, because it tastes great in my lattes, which I can depend on being just the way I like them, because I order them that way. You might laugh on the caffeine impact, but I’m a sensitive flower – there’s a fine line for me between “rev-me-up” and “omfg-my-heart-is-going-to-burst.”
Beyond that, I can count on Starbucks – really any Starbucks – being fast, efficient and offering a friendly atmosphere. I like their corporate policies and that they treat their employees decently.
So, not long ago, David and I flew into Albuquerque early in the morning and were driving home up to Santa Fe. We wanted coffee! so I used my phone to find the nearest Starbucks, of course. We went to the one at 3400 Central Ave SE, which is in the “Nob Hill” part of town. The building looked kind of funky, but I couldn’t place it. That’s a pic of it above, from Google Street View, so it’s kind of sucky. I should have snapped a pic, but I didn’t think to at the time.
It’s even better inside, with that arched barn roof and a cozy fireplace. And that odd sense of childhood familiarity.
I asked – and the building is a refurbished Arby’s. Yeah – you can see it, right? That old Arby’s architecture.
I love that they did this.
See, for a long time (20+) years, I lived in a town in Wyoming plagued by the Abandoned Building Syndrome. They’re a true blight on any community. Our town had a Walmart – an enormous warehouse that was abandoned when Those Who Did Not Care About Our Community decided to build a SUPER Walmart a quarter-mile away. Because, for them, it was less expensive to purchase new land and construct the even huger warehouse. That parking lot became the brightest point in town, by far – the first light visible flying in at night. Meanwhile, the old building moldered, adding its sorrowful tale to the decrepit former Long John Silvers just up the road, which hosted various Chinese restaurants until it ungracefully fell completely to pieces.
So, this is one more reason for me to love Starbucks – that they repurpose these old buildings. I’m a big fan of reusing what we already have. I even contributed an essay to an anthology once, called “Home Recycling,” about why I like buying older houses.
Thus, if you’re ever in and around Albuquerque, stop by the Starbucks in Nob Hill and take in that rehabbed Arby’s ambience. It’s really quite awesome – both aesthetically and energetically.
~Toasts with Pumpkin Spice Latte~
Banned Books: The Authors
The lovely Lynda Ryba of the Fish with Sticks review blog interviewed me and some other wonderful authors about Banned Books Week. The post is over on the Wicked Little Pixie blog, so go check it out!
Ask the Readers: How Do You Feel About Interference with Reviews?
Here’s the cover for the sixth and final episode of my Master of the Opera e-Serial. The first one comes out January 2 and the series finishes with this one, on March 20. What’s cool to me about this cover is the opal ring. It’s EXACTLY how I described it in the story, which is just way cool to see. You can see about all of them here.
So, this is Ask the Readers week in the bordello – where we ask you all those questions we *really* wonder about. Imagine yourselves up on the panel at the front of the room and we’re sitting in those crowded-too-close conference chairs.
Drawing the Line at Mining Other Cultural Myths
Love this photo from Carien, Sullivan McPig and Voodoo Bride – all hugging on their copy of Rogue’s Pawn. I might not have visited The Netherlands, but my books have!
Many of you know I lived in Wyoming for a long time. I went there for graduate school, fell in love with David and ended up staying more than 20 years. Wyoming is an interesting place to live, landlocked in the middle of the country, with the smallest population of all the states. A lot of it is beautiful and a lot isn’t. But the people who live there have a fierce pride of place. There’s a certain mystique to being a resident, to combatting the ferocious winters and going without the luxuries other communities enjoy. It’s tied in with the Western Myth, the hero as a cowboy, the rugged loner and frontiersman.
When I met David – a Wyoming man, born and bred – he would sometimes comment contemptuously about the “Wyoming Wannabes,” the people who moved there wanting to be part of the mystique. There were people like this, who left the big cities and came to Wyoming thinking they’d become the Malboro Man. One writer friend pointed out that it was the only place she’d ever lived where people identified themselves by how long they’d lived there. She was right – everybody knew their length of residency and offered it up as their Wyoming cred, the longer, the better.
And, if you hadn’t been born there, it didn’t matter how long you’d lived there – you were never a “real” resident.
I think of this when I hear someone complain about another “mining a cultural tradition.” It’s this idea that a culture – or a place or a myth or mystique – is somehow the exclusive property of one group of people. On a panel I moderated at World Fantasy Con in 2012, the Australian author Sean Williams spoke at some length of being very aware of not inadvertently mining the aboriginal culture for stories or mythology in any way. I read much of this same criticism (among heaps of others) about Miley Cyrus’ performance at the Grammys this year, and how she was appropriating black culture.
It seems to be this sense that a minority or oppressed group has something precious, that should not be stolen by an imperialist culture.
What bothers me is, who decides what’s part of human culture or a place that anyone can enjoy and what belongs to only one group?
When I was a teen, I once told some family friends that I didn’t feel much patriotism for the United States as a whole, but that if my hometown of Denver was attacked, I’d fight to defend it. They were very interested in that and said they wondered if it was because I hadn’t lived much of anywhere else or traveled much. In many ways, they were right – as I’ve grown older and lived more places, my sense of the world has grown much broader. Many places are special to me now. I think about this in science fiction stories sometimes, that a day will come when we’ll identify as being “from Earth,” not just one city, state, or country, but the whole planet.
From that perspective, isn’t human culture all one culture?
I confess that it bothers me that, as a storyteller, I’m to keep my thoughts out of some mythologies. That they somehow belong to someone else, as their exclusive property. I suppose I believe that shared racial memory means among all human beings, not just the Irish/Scot/French/Dutch melange I can genetically lay claim to.
So, I’m curious to know what you all think. Is there a line that shouldn’t be crossed? And, if there is, how and where should it be drawn?
Five Golden Rings
On Living with the Results of Our Decisions
The covers for the final two acts of Master of the Opera are in the wild! Head over to The Bookpushers to see both!
You all know I’m online a lot. Some might say TOO Much. I’m looking at you, Mom. And Anne Lamott. Between my laptop and my SmartPhone, I’m pretty much connected to the internet in some way during my waking hours. A major exception is when I’m at the gym. The other is when I sit down to read.
I need the internet to do both of my jobs. As a writer, I start my day by writing blog posts, answering business and reader emails, posting links to new covers, corresponding with my website designer over new info, etc. I interact with people on Goodreads, Facebook and Twitter. For my day job, I work for a company based out of Boston, interacting with colleagues and clients across all the timezones. That’s necessary connectedness, too.
But, in order to do the core work of both my jobs – writing or thinking through data – I have to step away from the distractions of the internet. When I write, I use Freedom to shut off access, to remove all temptation. When I switch over to the day job, though I might dip in and out of Facebook and Twitter, I mostly don’t look. The less I look, the more productive I am. I save things that take longer than a quick look – like Tumblr – for the evenings, when we’re watching a movie.
Yesterday, I was very productive, as I needed to be. I made excellent progress on developmental edits for The Mark of the Tala. I’m trying to finish those out this week, to stay on schedule with all the writing work. And I delivered the two items on my list for the day job that had to be done yesterday.
I finished my day job just in time to do an online chat with Night Owl Reviews for an hour, finishing up at 7pm.
It was a good day.
Settling into my armchair for the evening, I scrolled through Tumblr. As is my habit, I scrolled back to where I stopped looking the night before and worked forward.
And I saw it.
Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer. HERE. In Santa Fe on September 29.
I clicked the clicky as fast as my fingers could fly.
They’d already sold out. The notice had gone up at some point yesterday and I had already missed the window.
You guys know how I feel about Neil and Amanda. I even dreamed about them coming to my house for dinner. I don’t identify as a fan for much, but I’m a total fangirl for them.
Clearly, I’m not fangirl enough, I thought, or I would have known about this sooner.
But then… I only have so much energy to spend. I had to make choices and I did. I have to live with all the results of my decisions.
I’ve always found it interesting that the word “decide” means “to cut away.” (Think of other words, like “excise” – to cut out.) Deciding on one course of action means that you cannot do another. Working from home for so many years means I’ve developed a fair amount of self-discipline. I decide to get my work done first, which means I’ve decided not to be a 24-7 Neil Gaiman/Amanda Palmer fangirl.
Thus, while I’m happy to reap the satisfaction of having completed my work, missing out on those tickets is as much a result of that decision.
And I wouldn’t sacrifice the one for the other, in the final analysis. I guess that means my decision was a good one.
Or, at least, I’d make the same decision again.
Which is the most important point.
Bordello Challenge- “Mirage”
This week on Word Whores, we’re posing the Bordello Challenge. Last week, we all asked our readers to post three words for us to riff off in a flash-fiction piece. Mine is called “Mirage.” Hie on over to check it out!