Reading more women authors

In 2014 I am actively seeking out more queer, trans*, disabled, indigenous, mixed race, and women of colour authors, and shying away from my favored genre of SFF.

This is not actually something I need help with, in the most general of terms. I tend to read women authors by default, and often have to work to seek out male authors.

I consider myself lucky — in this one, small way, my brain has escaped patriarchal programming.

Well, perhaps. I think I still read a disproportionate amount of cisgender, white, able-bodied, women authors, and I often only read the speculative fiction/SFF genres. My defaulting to women authors still does not yield much diversity in what I read.

So I am taking a page from Lilit Marcus’ book, here in 2014, and actively seeking out more women authors — but more specifically, queer and trans* women (including genderqueer folk who are socially classed as women/assumed to be women), women of colour, indigenous women, mixed race women, and women with disabilities. Also, I’m going to attempt to branch away from SFF and read other genres.

I won’t be reading women exclusively — as I said, I already default to reading women authors, so I actually have to actively seek out male authors most of the time. However, if I read a book by a man, I will then read 2 by women.

And I’m not sure how many books I’ll get read. I don’t do much reading these days; I think university killed my joy in it. But I will try; I will work very hard to read several books this year, and to seek out different types of books by more queer, trans*, indigenous, mixed race, WOC, and disabled [women] authors.

Are you participating in #readwomen2014?

(Worth noting: the hashtag was created by Joanna Walsh, and most of the credit for the idea is given to her — but Lilit Marcus deserves credit for the idea, and I’m giving her her due.)

And if you have any recommendations for books by queer, trans*, indigenous, mixed race, disabled, and/or women of colour authors that are not SFF, please let me know in the comments!

 

My best friend today…

Victory in packing! Also exhaustion, that’s a thing.

fireplacewarmback

No, not my arm, the fireplace in front of which I am sitting. It is really cold outside right now and this thing is keeping my bacon from freezing.

I’m using bacon as a shorthand for butt, there. I’m not talking about actual food.

Anyway. I am sitting in front of this thing and it is keeping me warm and keeping my pain levels down, which is nice! Because my back does not like moving boxes of books around! At all!

I did finish cataloguing them today, though; I have just under 860. Not as much as my initial guess of 1,000 — but practically speaking, there is no difference. It’s still a lot to sort and catalogue and pack and move.

I just finished packing all the theatre and film ones. There were a lot — I was in theatre for 20 years, and film for about 5. The books tend to accumulate.

There is still a huge pile to go (history, fiction, languages, science, arts and crafts, children’s books, comics and cartoons miscellaneous), so I’m getting back to that now. Tomorrow morning the truck comes to grab the big furniture and the boxes of books (and likely the bookcases).

Oh gods I’m so not ready aaaaauuuugggghhhhhhhhhhh

-Katje

I might have too many books.

You know it’s bad when you think you have too many books.

I only say that because today was spent cataloguing and packing them. There are a lot.

The book situ when I started this morning.
The book situ when I started this morning.

That picture doesn’t show the coffee table and the couch, but they’ve also got books on them — the coffee table, a lot; the couch, not so much.

By midpoint it looked like this:

bookpacking2You can see my laptop open because of the ongoing cataloguing work. I’ve now got 717 books in my library on LibraryThing (796 in all collections, which includes books I’ve borrowed and still want to read and my wishlist).

The couch is covered in books that have been inputted into my LibraryThing catalogue, the coffee table in stacks of books yet to be put in.

You can’t see the piles I added to the coffee table today, because they’re balanced on the edge behind the four boxes of books.

Note: this does not include all the books that were not on the shelves because I’ve been reading them or they’ve been travelling with me — they will be packed, but not in boxes. Nor does this include my own books, of which I have several copies lying around — they will get their own box.

I just finished about 15 minutes ago, and now the living room looks like this:

bookpacking3

Yeah, I took down all those bookcases. Only one double-stack remains, just off camera. That bookcase contains my notebooks and journals and such on the top, and my late Oma’s books on the bottom. Oma’s books are going into storage — we’re keeping them, because they’re family heirlooms, but neither mom nor I have any room for them in our personal libraries right now.

I think the couch now has more books on it than the coffee table does, which means the more tedious part of my job has been lessened. Packing boxes of books is not, actually, tedious, but adding them to my catalogue is.

You can see my dinner in the last photo. I am eating it right now, at 11pm, because it’s been that sort of day. I’m exhausted and thinking I have too many books.

You know it’s bad when you think you have too many books. (Hint: the correct paradigm is never enough books!)

Tomorrow, up bright and early to pack up the couch-books and input the table-books and then take down the last bookcase.

The Last Bookcase. Sounds like it could be a fantasy/horror novel.

And that’s the sign I should go to bed.

Yeah, I’m going to do that now. See you all tomorrow.

BYOB(ookworm)

I am always in a rush in a hurry / to fill up my notebooks with blather –

Today’s daily prompt from the Daily Post:

Write the blurb for the book jacket of the book you’d write, if only you had the time and inclination.

I think responding to this would be cheating. I’m a published author; currently I have out two novels, a book of poetry, a self-published short story and a self-published collection of short fiction.

Time and inclination? Lots of the second; little of the first, but I still get the books done. So it’s not so much an imaginary blurb I’d have to come up with…as just copy and pasting the blurb from Bellica or Stranger Skies. (You can read Bellica online here, by the way, and the advance reading copy of Stranger Skies is being posted here.)

So today, I’m answering the second part of the prompt:

Photographers, artists, poets: show us BOOKS.

Here is a photo I took yesterday, of, yes, my own book — it just arrived in the mail a little while ago and I unpacked the box and put the books on the shelf.

Oh hey look at that, my books are here. Cover art by Autumn Skye Morrison; she's amazing.

And a poem, Water Cycle, which you can find in glasstown.

I am always in a rush in a hurry
to fill up my notebooks with blather –
and maybe
it is because so many empty ones sit
continually staring me in the face
that I feel guilty
for not feeding them –
we’re starving! they cry out
but so is the streambed of my thought
dry for so many years – I sit to write
to enjoy what flows but it’s only a trickle
and so when I can I write

 BIG

or

   l     e      n       g     t      h     y

so that I take up as much
of the page as possible
and I write on both sides
and sometimes I gush
but my hand can’t keep up with my thoughts
and I’ll get distracted and
—oh, fuck, I did it again,
the stream is dry once more;
I’ve thrown this poem on the floor
and resorted to crappy rhyme
to buy some more time
so that my words can spurt forth—
and shine.

But it’s grabbing me, this undercurrent
and I fear I can’t turn it to my will
and soon I’ll be dragged
underneath the weight of my creativity
spitting out the saltiness of tears unshed
choking on the wet juicy areas of my mind:
dark, locked up, till I find
explosives and blow the dam
and I write till my hand might fall off
with the pain
but I can’t stop until I do.

And begin again.

This is why I’m tired today

So many books….

I don’t have the spoons for a proper post. This is why:

This is why I'm tired today. Cataloging and packing books.

I’ve spent most of today cataloguing the books that were on that bookcase into my LibraryThing account and then packing them into boxes, in preparation of eventually moving out of this house. (Eventually = in the next few months.) Books take a long time to pack and they’re something I can pack earlier than other things, so it seemed like a good plan.

But that, combined with lack of sleep, means I’m exhausted. More awake Katje tomorrow, hopefully.

Fifty Shades of Drinking update

I am terrible at deadlines, especially self-imposed ones.

I know, I know, I promised another episode early in the new year and I have not delivered. I am terribly sorry about that. However, life has been pretty insane since coming up here to visit my mom, and a few days ago I was put on a run of antibiotics to clear out the infection my wisdom teeth — so I can’t have any alcohol till that’s over, which will be the 23rd or so.

I will get an episode up by the end of the month, I swear. (Or, like, a few minutes after midnight on the first of February.)

Thanks so much for your patience and understanding, y’all, and rest assured I have not abandoned the project. I want to continue to rip apart the books while getting sloshed as much as you want to watch me do it.

The Writer’s Journey, Chapter 1

The book is a look at the Hero’s Journey and how it can apply to writing and a writer’s life.

Cover image of The Writer's Journey, Third Edition, by Christopher VoglerI’ve started reading through The Writer’s Journey (Third Edition) by Christopher Vogler. I was given the book ages ago by mom and never really sat down to read it. (I have such a huge pile of books that are TBR.)

The book is a look at the Hero’s Journey and how it can apply to writing and a writer’s life. The Hero’s Journey is the idea that every story is, at core, the same. It’s a monomyth paradigm put forward by Joseph Campbell.

There are a lot of problems with this paradigm being touted as universal. The Hero’s Journey has a definite Western bias and trying to apply it to non-Western stories and myths is, to my mind, a form of literary colonization.

However, I still think the book will be useful to me. Not because the Hero’s Journey is universal, but because it is specifically biased to Western civilization, and I am a Western writer, with a Western audience.

The book also doesn’t push formula, which is unexpected, honestly. It puts forth the Hero’s Journey as a form, but says that to make it really work, one must internalize one’s understanding of it and then do one’s own thing. It’s form, not formula. It’s a map, with possible rest stops marked out, not an itinerary from which one may not stray.

The rest stops he marks out are as follows, with my own understanding of what each rest stop means.

Continue reading “The Writer’s Journey, Chapter 1”

Dreams Made Flesh

When I got home there was a box outside my door — it must be my Christmas gift from my best friend/sister!

I got home exceptionally late today. Or exceptionally early, depending on your point of view. I was supposed to arrive home on the 1st, and ended getting back at 5am on the 2nd. Not having slept, it’s technically still the 1st for me.

Anyway. When I got home there was a box outside my door. A box covered in Amazon Prime stickers.

That’s funny, I thought. I’m not a Prime member. Also I don’t remember ordering anything.

Then it clicked — it must be my Christmas gift from my best friend/sister! I knew she was getting me something via Amazon, and I’d totally forgotten about it during the week+ vacation/down time during the cold from hell at the Ogre’s place.

(By the way, that cold? Still sticking around. I am more than ready to be well, thanks, Universe.)

I hustled inside and put down all my things (I had a lot of things) and excitedly grabbed the box. It was addressed to “Babby van Loon” — definitely from my sister; that’s her special nickname for me.

As I brewed some coffee in my Keurig (mainly to test out if the cups I’d been given for Christmas would work in it — they’re the “we work in most coffee systems” kind, not Keurig-specific ones — and they do) I grabbed a knife and carefully cut the tape on the box. It was difficult, because I was as excited as a…um. Kid on Christmas. (There has to be a better analogy out there somewhere.)

When I pulled away the plastic packaging, what did I find?

Christmas gift from my bff/soul-sister arrived! She knows me so well. <3Only an omnibus edition of one of my most beloved book series — The Black Jewels Trilogy.

I’ve read this trilogy several times. I adored it so much in high school and college that I would constantly lend my copies out to people, just so they could see how amazing it was — then I’d buy a new copy, and the cycle would begin again. Hence why I didn’t have a copy till now, and it was on my wishlist on Amazon.

The Black Jewels Trilogy is one of my biggest inspirations as a writer. When I read The Black Jewels Trilogy, I learned that it was possible to write a matriarchal society in fantasy that wasn’t some anti-feminist screed. (I know there are probably other writers who have done this, and likely before Anne Bishop did. That doesn’t matter, here — what matters is The Black Jewels Trilogy was the first series I read where that was a thing.)

I’ve heard people call The Black Jewels Trilogy “fluffy”, and I’m sorry, but that’s bullshit. There’s romance, and some characters do get to live happily ever after — but this series is dark. There is sacrifice. There is loss. There is some seriously messed up crap going on. There are big stakes. The Black Jewels Trilogy is anything but fluffy.

If I read it again today would I love it as much as I did in high school? I don’t honestly know. I’ve changed a lot as a reader and a writer since the last time I read the books. I’m more critical now, especially of things I love. I’m sure there are lots of problems in The Black Jewels Trilogy.

But honestly, I’m just not interested in deconstructing it and picking it apart. I may do that with other things I’m a fan of, because it’s good to pick apart the things you love — to admit that nothing is perfect, that everything has its problems. That way when you trash the stuff you hate, no one can get on your back for only picking on things you have a loathe-on for. (Or, well, they can — they just won’t have much of a solid foundation on which to base their arguments.)

The Black Jewels Trilogy, however, remains one of my first fandom obsessions, and still one of my favourite book series ever. I read the continuation books as they came out, most recently The Shadow Queen, Shalador’s Lady, and Twilight’s Dawn. I loved them all as much as I remember loving The Black Jewels Trilogy — so perhaps, if I reread the Trilogy today, I would adore it as much as I always did.

I refuse to pick it apart. It’s a solace for me; it’s a comfy blanket. It reminds me that sometimes the broken and the beat down can repair themselves, can win against the forces that try to tear them apart. It reminds me that love prevails.

I’m not pulling at those threads. I’m not pulling that blanket apart.

I’m putting the book in a place of honor on my shelf, and when I have some time to read some fiction this year — I’m pulling it down and reading it again.

Thank you, sister. You knew exactly what I wanted, but more — you knew exactly what I needed. A reminder that the stories I write — the stories inspired so much by The Black Jewelsare important to other people, just as The Black Jewels are important to me.

Chapter Four has been filmed!

AnaDoge
Anastasia Rose Steele.

And halfway edited. There are some issues with audio; editing is going twice as slow as a result. I have to take a break now to play video games and eat sugar, but I’ll be up in the morning and soldier on then.

Expecting to post tomorrow afternoon. My liver suffers for you.

(Actually it wasn’t so bad this chapter. Definitely one of the better ones. That, or my brain has started editing in a desperate attempt to protect me from alcohol poisoning.)

Postponing the book launch for Stranger Skies

My book launch for Stranger Skies is supposed to be this Sunday, the 24th of November, at the Cottage Bistro in Vancouver. I’m having to postpone it. There were several delays in editing and formatting, which has led to printing delays. I won’t have books ready in time unless there’s an act of the gods. The good kind of act.

I talked with my publisher and we decided postponing the event would be the best for everyone’s stress levels. It will also give us more time to market the event and get people to show up.

Currently the date I’m hoping for is February 2nd. It’s Imbolc, which is a holiday of great importance to me; it’s right before Valentine’s Day, and the book has strong romantic elements; it’s far enough away that we can probably get the date and have enough time to get everything together.

In the meantime I will have print copies available locally. Starting December 5th you can speak to me or my publisher directly for copies. Starting early 2014 we’ll have them available online.

Currently the ebook is available and you can read the ARC online. There is a large difference between the ARC and the finished book; my editor is amazing. If you like the ARC enough to read the whole thing, consider purchasing the ebook.