Monthly Archives: March 2015

Why I Still Want to Vend in Indiana

Around the end of last year, I started researching sci-fi/geek cons outside of Ohio. There were a couple that appealed to me in surrounding states, and I finally settled on going to a new one in Indianapolis, the Midwest Toy Fest. It looked like it would be big enough to be worth going to but not overwhelming and not too far.

Last week, the state’s governor signed a “religious freedom bill” into law. In the days leading up to this event, groups as diverse as GenCon and Disciples of Christ protested. The day it was signed, George Takei called for a boycott of the entire state. Shortly afterwards, Angie’s List cancelled a planned expansion. Even the NCAA is getting in on the act. And I don’t disagree with any of these people. I support their responses and love that this measure is receiving the backlash it deserves. But I still plan on travelling to the state for several reasons.

First, not everyone in Indiana is a douchebag. Likely, many of the people attending such a con will be as opposed to the Governor and this bill as I am. This Bill isn’t their fault any more than some of the stupid stuff the lawmakers in Ohio is mine. So do they deserve to be punished by being denied my awesomeness? Of course not. Okay, so I’m being facetious, but I do have a good product. And a fun one that makes people smile. Why not spread a little chocolate love? As I commented on a Facebook post the other day, my religion is chocolate – dark, dark chocolate.

Second, I’m invested in this show already. I’ve paid my fee for a table. To be fair, I could make the opposite argument. It wasn’t an expensive table and I could cancel the hotel any time. Realistically, I wouldn’t be out that much if I backed out. But I’m also counting on some of the stuff I’m making now to last through this show. It’s part of the planning process and why I’m making so much – why I’ve already made so much of certain designs.

Further, I plan to minimize the amount I spend in taxes. I can’t do anything about the hotel but I will fill up with gas before exiting Ohio, and if I need more while I’m in Indiana, I will get as little as I can to get me back across the border. I can also take some of my own food and drinks.

Finally, staying away feels like running and hiding from the big, bad bigots. I refuse. While I’m not usually one to advertise my queerness or wave a rainbow flag, I will be there. Let the bigots run from me. If they want to refuse me business, fine. If they want to have a conversation, fine. But fellow queers will also know they are supported.

Until this law is repealed, I doubt I will go back. I don’t think I could make this decision again. But for now, I’m going, and I’m going to make a statement while spreading the sweet, sweet love.

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Anticipated FAQ

I officially have time set up with a friend who is going to help me self-publish. It’s this coming weekend and just about every possible emotion is running through me. So to lighten things up, I came up with the following little Q&A about some stuff I thought people might want to know.

Was your book a response to 50 Shades?

It didn’t start out that way, no. But the more I read about it and saw how kink was portrayed, it became something of a What-Not-To-Do guide. I will admit that most of what I know about it is from the blog Pervocracy. If you have not read this, do it now. Seriously, don’t even read me anymore until you finish reading Pervocracy, including the CosMocking (wherein they make fun of Cosmo covers). Cliff is brilliant.

But I also found myself writing a lot of things that I find lacking in erotica in general. There’s real communication between my leads, real negotiations, and a real, strong woman who knows how to give enthusiastic consent. There’s a diverse community around them too that I used to try to balance the heteronormativity of the dominant male/submissive female leads.

About that community, some of those characters look awfully familiar.

Yes, there are likely going to be people you will recognize. Many characters were at least inspired by a real person. And at some point, the whole thing became, in part, a tribute to the community that has been such a huge and vital part of my life. My intentions were to be complimentary.

But that negative thing about that one character, that’s me isn’t it?

No. No, it really isn’t. The only characters who are supposed to closely resemble real people are the female lead who has a lot in common with yours truly, and her best friend Christine who is a direct representation of my own best friend. Everyone else, regardless of how inspired they might have been by a real person, went off on their own at some point. Sometimes I used just a physical resemblance, sometimes a personality trait I liked. Other times, a character is an amalgam of several different people. Please try not to take anything too personally, and if you see something that bothers you, feel free to talk to me about it.

I don’t see myself in it. So what – I’m not good enough now?

I couldn’t possibly fit in everyone I wanted to. Again, it’s not personal. Further, this is only book one. Give it time – you may show up yet. Even my girlfriend didn’t make it into this one.

Is there any significance to characters’ names?

Sometimes. This depends very much on the character. The female lead’s name has significance to me. Seth is part of a name used online by one of the people who helped inspire him. Otherwise, I mostly looked up at the employee list at work and picked something at random that I thought suited the character. The exceptions are when a character is closely linked to a real person. To use the best friend as an example again, the name Christine is significant to my best friend and was a natural choice. Some of the stories are interesting, or I think they are, and some aren’t. Again, if you want to know where a name came from, feel free to ask.

These people are pretty cool – will there be a sequel?

Yes. A few of them in fact. I have drafts of four books in the works plus a collection of short stories. Some of these are scenes that have been cut from their original works. Others stand alone by themselves.

Okay, so you weren’t trying to be the safer, saner, more consensual 50 Shades. Who was your biggest influence?

Kink-wise, my favorite writer is Laura Antoniou. Again, read her before you read me and…well, you may never come back to me but that’s a chance I’m willing to take. Because I dare you to pry yourself away from either her Marketplace series or The Killer Wore Leather.

Otherwise, my biggest influence has been – and bear with me here because this isn’t going to make sense at first – Joss Whedon. If you read my series, you’ll notice that each one begins with a relevant Shakespeare quote. This started while watching Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing. I loved the line, “Thou and I are too wise to woo peaceably” and decided to make it the intro to book number one, Backed Into a Hand. It didn’t take long to decide to start each book similarly. References to his shows, especially Firefly are sprinkled throughout (seriously, there is a character in the second book who goes by the nickname Shiny. Need I say more?). And finally, a central character eventually dies (no I’m not telling you who or which book). He made it okay to do that and I’m glad.

Seems like you’ve been working on this for a while. What took so damn long?

You know, I was so proud when I finished the first draft in just about a month’s time. It was my own personal NanoWrimo and I was stunned to discover that I had completed a book in so little time. The problem with that draft, however, was that it was absolute crap. So I went through a bunch of drafts, took out stuff, added other stuff, and came out with a version I mostly liked. And then I started working with an editor. She’s great. But she has a life too, and this isn’t her only job. And then I had to make the necessary changes once I got it back from her. Some of those changes were pretty substantial so she wanted to look at it again. And I still want to skim through it one more time in a last-ditch effort to find typos and whatnot. Who knew writing was such an involved process?

Every writer ever.

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Maternal Instinct

“I have an unbelievable life. In some ways, I have the life that I have because I don’t have children.” Cameron Diaz

“Like every woman is dying to give birth. I don’t think so. Nobody asks a guy that.” Zooey Deschanel

“Childhood was heartbreaking enough for anybody. I don’t know that I could handle my own child…going through what I went through growing up.” Chelsea Handler

“When I see children, I feel nothing. I have no maternal instinct. I ovulate sand.” Margaret Cho

“I think they’re adorable and funny and sweet, and then I have a headache.” Kim Cattrall

“Everybody with a womb doesn’t have to have a child any more than everybody with vocal cords has to be an opera singer.” Gloria Steinam

I don’t think I have ever wanted children of my own. I think I knew this even as a young adult. But you know, I’m female. I’m supposed to want children. It’s the natural order of things – get married, move to the suburbs, go forth and multiply.

At some point, I decided that the instinct would kick in when I found the right man. Getting married would make me want to have children. So I found a man, one who already had a son from a previous relationship, and wanted more. I told him I would want kids when the time was right.

Of course, the time was never right. Just over three years later, we divorced. And one of his reasons was that I had never brought up wanting kids. I made the usual excuses – we couldn’t afford it, didn’t really have time, etc. But the truth was that it hadn’t actually occurred to me. That instinct had never kicked in the way I thought it would.

It would be years before I was in another serious relationship and by then I knew – I was never going to want children. I’ve joked that even I am not that much of a masochist. Besides, that cute baby eventually grows up to be a teenager and, well, I didn’t like teenagers when I was one. Why would I want one in my house? With their friends? I know, it’s supposed to be different when they’re yours. But what if it wasn’t? What if I still didn’t like them even when I had birthed them?

This, along with all the usual concerns that come with being a parent, is stuff I worry about.

And now I’m pretty sure the time has officially passed for me. Technically, I’m sure I could still bare children if I wanted to because science. But I don’t want to. Because me. And I have no regrets. This is one of the few areas of my life that doesn’t cause a flurry of couldas, wouldas, and shouldas. I know I’ve done the right thing here.

I don’t consider this to be a defect about myself. Nor do I blame anyone else for it. I don’t think it’s my mother’s fault or because of my strained relationship with her though I am curious about some of the psychology there (there is a history of strained mother/daughter relationships on that side of the family). I simply think there are some people who should not be parents and that I am one of them. I think it’s wonderful to know this about one’s self. Being a parent is too big a commitment to go into it lightly or because of societal/family/peer pressure.

The quotes above represent just a few I found recently that represent attitudes that are similar to mine. They’re a reminder that I’m not alone in this. That my friends who have made similar decisions are not alone in this.

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My mother just broke up with me

“We live with truth as a permanent blur in the corner of our eyes. When it is finally nudged into outline, it is like being ambushed by a grotesque.” Tom Stoppard – Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.

I find this line to be incredibly profound. But because Tim Roth talks so fast and it is buried in a sea of other, rapid dialogue, it’s easy to miss.  I don’t know how many times I watched this movie before I caught it. Now that I have though, I can never unhear it. And every now and then, exactly how true it is smacks me in the face.

Yesterday was one of those days. I don’t check my mail every day. I get mostly ads and credit card offers, rarely anything personal unless it’s a holiday. But I was actually running early for work for once and decided to take a look. There was a note from my mother. The envelope was small and thin, and I walked to my car wondering what she could have sent me and why.

Inside was a short, handwritten note. “I love you…I did my best…I’m sorry it hasn’t worked out…Sincerely…”

I drove to get coffee thinking, did my mother just break up with me? I wanted to be angry and then I thought, why? Haven’t I known this was true for years? How long have I been saying that we are simply incompatible? And yet, seeing the words, from her, made it true in a way that I hadn’t wanted to face before. We’d been going through a good period, talking occasionally about silly stuff, even getting together occasionally. I thought maybe we could build on that in time.

And now this. It feels so final, as if a door has not only been closed, but locked and barricaded. I don’t know what to do with this. I don’t know how I’m supposed to react or what the implications really are. I’m sure she thinks it will have no effect, that I don’t care. But I do. I do hate that things have gotten to this point. The truth is that we are two very different people, no matter how much I sometimes see her in the mirror.  But damn if that wasn’t just a little too much truth for 7 a.m. and no caffeine.

I cried off and on at work, both at her words and those received from dear friends. I am blessed in so many diverse ways with a support system I once only dreamed of. I’m very sorry my mother isn’t part of it.

For much of the day I also wondered how I could possibly respond. I’m planning on seeing her tomorrow – she’s having a very routine procedure so I will visit her in the hospital. The script in my head, the made-for-tv-movie if you will, has me going in and making small talk. Right before I leave, I want to bring up the note, say “I’m sorry too” and walk away. Maybe I’ll be walking away for good. Maybe not. I don’t know. But it’s the only thing that sounds appropriate right now.

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Why I Vend

So it’s been a while. I suppose I should get back to this. God knows I have thoughts on any number of subjects. Hell, I expect to self-publish a book in a few weeks and I really should get on publicizing that. The problem lately has been finding time to write thoughts down that don’t relate to the book. But this one has been persistent so I’m going to go with it.

When Wizard World recently came to my city, several people asked me if I was going. I wasn’t. I’ve looked into vending with them before and it was too expensive with far too many hoops to go through. That seemed to be understandable but I had a few people, my mother mostly, who were stunned – nay, shocked and appalled – that I wasn’t going to attend at all. I didn’t even know who the special guests were until the weekend of.

What my mother didn’t give me a chance to explain however, was that I don’t actually feel like a big enough geek to go to such things. Further, I know me and my introverted self. If I went as an attendee, I wouldn’t mingle. I wouldn’t meet people or talk to much of anyone. I’d stick with who I went with, look around some, and come home. And it would never be worth the price of admission.

If I’m standing behind a table, however, I have to interact with people. Vending gives me a reason to talk to other attendees, chat and laugh, and even make some money. Seriously, the money is a nice bonus. Because I enjoy the atmosphere. I love the costumes and all the ways people express their fandoms. I love expressing my fandoms, referencing Firefly and Star Wars and knowing people will get it. I love that my level of derpy fits right in. I’m not afraid of a few awkward moments because, at any given time, I can look around and find 10 other awkward moments that make me look good.

So that’s why I go. I go to share a fun, creative side of me that wouldn’t otherwise get expressed. I go to force myself to be a people person because it is not my natural state. I go to see the looks on people’s faces when they realize they can have a chocolate Millennium Falcon or Death Star. It’s kind of amazing how happy that makes some people. And I get to make that happen.

If I’m not vending, I don’t see those smiles. I’m just another face in the crowd.

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