Friday, July 26, 2013

Reward in Daily Science Fiction's Kickstarter! Also, Newsletters.

Daily Science Fiction is hosting a Kickstarter Campaign to pay authors for their short fiction published for the next six months, September 2013-March 2014.

Among rewards including omnibus anthologies, gourmet chocolate, and a crocheted Cthulhu, you can also sign up for a critique from Yours Truly of a short story (they say up to 5,000 words, but I wouldn't complain about longer, either)! See the details for Daily Science Fiction's Fall 2013 campaign here.

On the topic of Kickstarter campaigns and critiques, the campaign for the Starter Guide for Professional Writers has breezed past its original goal--made it more than 4x over, in fact--and is just $130 shy of the Stretch Goal. If the campaign raises $1,000, I'll have enough financial leeway to offer a half-off deal on any manuscript critiques to all my Kickstarter funders. There's a little less than a week yet to get it on that.

A last piece of news: if you check out my 'Contact' page on the right sidebar, you'll now see an embedded MailChimp form allowing you to sign up for email alerts on the publication of my short stories, books, or just life in general.

Plans for the weekend: Well, I've spent the past week touring subleases in DC, and there are one or two I really like and am following up on. Fingers crossed! And then it's on to the job search in August and September!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Fair Trade Blogger Bragging

As a college sophomore, I first realized I was interested in international advocacy. A great goal but initially hard to accomplish in a small, friendly town smack dab in the middle of the North American continent.

Except I was lucky, because I went to school in Waukesha, home of the Plowshare Center--an organization that hosts educational forums on social, economic, and environmental justice issues globally, and also runs Wisconsin's first Fair Trade store. They welcomed me on board and for my last year in Wisconsin I helped set up events, staff the booth of Fair Trade products that popped up at Fair Trade Fairs (say that ten times fast) and the Waukesha Farmer's market on weekends, and spent three memorable days repainting the inside of the store the most gorgeous shade of blue.

I was also entrusted to help stock the books for sale in the Learning Center, at last achieving my dream of running a tiny bookstore (after a fashion).

The Plowshare  ladies, as I called them to my friends and family (despite the men who are very much a part of  the center, too) were wildly supportive of my writing (they probably knocked Aqua Vitae up several thousand Amazon ranks the day they discovered I wrote a book ;D) and asked me to write some articles for the biannual newsletter. Those articles now have their own page on Plowshare's newly redesigned website!

This summer, I'm now working with another Fair Trade and peacebuilding organization--Amani, which has five centers run by women throughout Eastern Africa and a retail storefront in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood of Washington, D.C. There I've been helping at pop-up shops, scheduling more offsites at DC festivals (we're especially excited about the Green Festival in September), and writing some of the posts on the Amani DC blog.

So even if you're not always hearing from me on this blog, I reassure you I am still blogging! And now you know where else to find me (and if you're looking for a place to pick up gifts, jewelry, or some adorable kid's toys, you now know 2 places to look--Amani even has an online store for anyone not currently near its stores in Washington, Kenya, Rwanda, Liberia, Uganda, or Burundi).

Thursday, July 11, 2013

We didn't choose the Folklife, the Folklife chose us--and other updates

So I'll start with the sad news, because the past two weeks have been tough: I got to visit Las Vegas for the first time, but under some of the worst possible circumstances. My uncle living there passed away and I went to attend the funeral and visit with my cousins (and also some immediate family members--we welcomed the chance to offer face-to-face support after certain recent events, which I might add are completely unrelated to this funeral. Troubles never come one at a time).

Sad as the reason for our visit might be, it was amusing to drive down the Strip with my mom and aunt, who tried to remember the place as it had been decades ago when they visited their sister--I only know the place from TV and felt like I recognized more than they did!

A forest fire is currently raging in the mountains, so we got treated (if that's the word) to the most appalling skies gone yellow with smoke. In the Midwest that would be the sign for a tornado. I'm not sure forest fires are much better--there can't be many trees to burn out there. Plus my last semester of college taught me just enough to know that trees are carbon storage devices and thus burning them is bad for multiple reasons. Although compared to the city of Las Vegas, the carbon released by burning forests can't be that impressive.

Las Vegas reminded me half of Hollywood (there's a certain sort of atmosphere, 'touristy' doesn't even come close to describing it--I live in DC, I get touristy, but this is aggressively, loudly, capitalistically touristy) and a surprising bit of Ghana, with the tropical architecture and the heat. If anything Vegas felt hotter, and also drier than any atmosphere I've ever stood in. I'm used to humidity, so that the lack of it felt unsettling.

Speaking of heat, I enjoyed (again, if that's the word) the experience of nearly blacking out this past weekend while waiting in line for water at the DC Folklife Festival. Scary and embarrassing. Despite that, I'm very glad I went and got to hear Kalmyk music and see the Hungarian fashion show. It reminds me though, to keep hydrated in urban environments as much as in the desert.

Blogging will hopefully be less interrupted in the future, as I have plans for, if nothing else, some more book reviews. I've had the chance to work on my reading list while waiting in airports. I got to gamble a bit in the Las Vegas airport but neither won nor lost any impressive amount. Although I did have my Swiss Army Knife confiscated when I forgot to put it in my checked luggage, and now I have to wait for it to be mailed to me. Nor was the TSA through with me--when I opened my suitcase I found their calling card. Well, I hope they took a peek at the copy of Aqua Vitae lying among my undies and consider buying a copy ;D.

Speaking of books, the Kickstarter for my Starter Guide for Professional Writers has met its funding goal, although the campaign continues to run until the end of July. I'm on track to have the revisions of the book complete by then, although if I've learned anything these past weeks it's that nothing is actually predictable. It will certainly get done, though. And even when editing my own manuscript becomes a drag, I'm looking forward to the chance to read and offer feedback on the manuscripts I'll be reviewing as a reward for my funders! They'll provide some escapism from my own preoccupations, plus I'll have the chance to live vicariously through talented new writers. So double escapism. Better than a weekend in Vegas.

Monday, July 1, 2013


It seems disingenuous to continue blogging as if life is going well when something horrible has happened. Yet sharing too many details in a public place seems disrepectful of the privacy of those involved, not to mention it forces casual readers to become witnesses to a situation they may prefer not to be involved in.

This is a balance I always walk when a certain sort of family crisis recurs.

It helps, perhaps, that I am not actually capable of writing about it in a fluent, pleasant, or even readable way. This is not the sort of experience I can use as fodder for future stories. It would be disrespectful, and it would be beyond me. One of the friends I emailed last night told me I was being quite poetic with my words, but that was the poeticism of someone trying to turn a disaster into an aesthetic event, and still being in enough shock to do it.

In brief: something has happened. I was not directly involved. No one has died or been permanently injured. The shock of this will continue for some time, and when it wears off I cannot predict what my emotional state will be. I hope to keep this from interfering with my work--and in fact professional work provides some structure, and I feel driven to dive back into my fiction writing, to both escape and process this.

With that in mind, I'll link to a previous post in this blog, on art and tragedy. And it is very fitting that I choose to represent my hypothetical heroine dancing memorials, not writing them--for a writer, especially one who cannot dance, this must be the ultimate confession of impotence.