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 Wowza. LinkedIn informs me that I've been at this whole writing thing for 20 years now. I feel
like I should be getting a playing card or a Bobblehead or something! But since it doesn't work that way, here's this exciting list.
20 years of writing =
- 7 books published, edited or coedited
- 80 short stories under two names, with three more forthcoming 
- 30 published nonfiction articles
- 5 awards won, 4 award finalists (sundry works)
- 1 Editor GOH appearance at a con, 1 Special Guest apparance at a different con, more Attending Author appearances than I can count. A LOT of readings, panels and suchlike.
- 5 writing workshops taught
- 1 small press in soft launch stage (see Queen of Swords Press page for more details).
Not a bad run, so far. 😃

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Embryonic publisher is learning things! So many things! The IBook version of Out of This World is in limbo between Smashwords and Apple. I'm trying to figure out what the issue is so that I don't have to sign up as IBook vendor; they do not make that easy or painless. Sigh. Out of This World is also now on Overdrive for libraries to order in, but they have to be encouraged to do so. Please, please request it. It will make it easier for the other books and make it more likely that I can afford a print edition. Otherwise, we've successfully achieved Amazon (also Amazon in multiple countries including the U.K., Canada, Japan and India), Barnes & Noble and the aforementioned Smashwords. Anyone shop much on GooglePlay? Is it worth my while to attempt that one too?

1st new story of 2017 finished and submitted! It's an Emily L. Byrne story, an erotic retelling of "Beauty and the Beast." More news as I have it.

Today, Jana and I are celebrating our 23rd anniversary by going to a multimedia choral performance about the life of Civil Rights pioneer, Bayard Rustin. Really looking forward to this!
Speaking of civil rights, we're going to the Women's March on 1/21 in scenic St. Paul. Contact me if you'd like to join our group and head over on the light rail. D.C. looks like it will be amazing and there are so many local marches, it's going to be pretty epic. And that's not including all the events leading up to the inauguration of the Kremlin's Employee of the Month. Fight back however you can and hang in there - we're all going to need each other.

Speaking of which, I have some fannish signal boosting to do. Here's the thing: if we can't help each other out now, we're going to be seriously screwed in 6 months. Boost, kick in whatever you can and boost some more. A lot of little donations get to the same goal as one big one, just saying.

Bryan Thao Worra - famous award-winning Laotian-American poet, current President of the Science Fiction Poetry Society, former local pro and fan, erstwhile guest at Twin Cities  conventions, editor, publisher, writer and...currently homeless and couch-surfing. Please kick in what you can.

Lou Hoffman - founder/organizer/sustainer of the Bisexual Organizing Project and the BECAUSE Conference, coordinator of WisCon's Annual Sign Out autographing session for authors and fans and all around great gal is having health issues at the same time that one of her sons is dealing with some new serious health problems. Please donate here. Elise Matthesen, jeweler extraordinaire, is donating part of the proceeds from her jewelry sales this weekend too.

Jen Riehm - local fan and artist, participant at CONvergence and Anime Detour, is currently homeless with her mom and their cats. Both of the humans are disabled and need some cash ASAP to stay in interim housing while they figure out better options. If you won't donate for the people, do it for the adorable kitties. It's way too cold to be living in your car right now in Minnesota.


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The annual list, updated as new things arise:

January:
February:
March:
  • Quatrefoil Library, Minneapolis - March 26th, 1-4PM. Queer Author Series - readings and signings by a bunch of local authors, including yours truly.
April:
May:
  • WisCon, Madison, WI - May 26th-29th. Programming participant, presumably. Wandering about, being authorial and publisherial as well.
June:
July:
  • GCLS Conference, Chicago, IL - July 5th - 9th. Hopefully, teaching a writing workshop. Waiting to find out if my proposal got accepted.
  • Diversicon, St. Paul, MN - July 21-23rd. Panels.
August:
  • Worldcon 75, Helsinki, Finland - August 9-13. Hopefully, programming participant.
September:
October:November:December:

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My new book, Out of This World: Queer Speculative Fiction Stories, is out in the remaining ebook formats today! That translates to:
Amazon
Smashwords
Kobo
Barnes & Noble - link coming later on Friday
IBooks - link coming later on Friday
Overdrive for Libraries - coming soon

Queen of Swords Press info:
Website - still in progress
Twitter - @qospress
Facebook

Me:
Website
Twitter - @clundoff
Facebook (as me), also as Author/Editor Page
Goodreads
Google+

Me, as Emily L. Byrne, AKA erotica and erotic romance writing Me:
Facebook Author page
Twitter
Blog (sadly disused)

I still need to decide on a blogging platform for Queen of Swords. I might just start up one out here, since that would be path of least resistance. Currently under investigation.








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 Trust me, you need this Elisa Chavez poem today. Revenge 

And some signal boosting for local fans in crisis:
Lou Hoffman - family medical bills. You probably know Lou from cons and WisCon or BECAUSE and Bisexual Organizing Project or a host of other things. She's good people so please boost and share what you can.

Jen Riehm - transitional housing fund. This one's on a very tight timeline. Jen and her mom (both disabled) and their cats need to move into a residential hotel until their HUD housing opens up. Jen is an artist and fan and you may know her through CONvergence, Anime Detour and other local stuff. Regardless, it's Minnesota winter and they need a hand hanging in there so please boost and donate what you can.

Thanks for all that you're doing!

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New Year's was relatively low key. Jana stayed home to recover from a routine medical procedure while I went out with friends to hear Lizz Winstead at the Cedar Cultural Center. Lizz was pretty entertaining, which was a nice balance to the rest of the day which otherwise was not great. Yesterday, we had friends over and a couple of hours of pleasant chatting and so forth.

Today was an all Queen of Swords Press, all the time day. While migraine-wrangling.
So what did I achieve?

Well, I GOT A NEW BOOK OUT! I'm a tad excited about this because it has taken forever, at least by my standards. I've been working on the Press for nearly three years now - classes, legal and financial planning and set up, edits, more planning, more classes, cover art, edits, more edits, learning new software, meetings, more meetings, more stuff - so to finally unleash something upon the unsuspecting populace is glorious.

What's actually available right now:
  • Review copies in various ebook formats. If you review ebooks and would like one, let me know.
  • Amazon, bless its heart, decided to release the book early, so it's for sale now. I probably unchecked the preorder box on setup and didn't notice, so it won't go up on other sites and in other formats until later on in the week (official release is supposed to be 1/6/17). This is just as well because I ran into a snafu with Smashwords so I'd like to get that resolved before stuff appears.
  • Queen of Swords Press now exists on Twitter (@QoSPress), Facebook (www.facebook.com/queenofswordspress/) and has a mailing list signup on the website (www.queenofswordspress.com). Website is still getting updated and cleaned up so maybe give it a day or two for my web person to finish before signing up.
What's coming:
  • More formats and more availability (see above). I'll also look into an account on Weightless Books and see when they start adding new publishers again.
  • Finalized website with buy links, etc. See above.
  • Possibly sales direct off my website, but I need to doublecheck some things on that first.
  • Print edition of Out of This World, if all goes well. But likely another couple of ebooks first (two by Emily L. Byrne forthcoming) and plan a print edition for my first convention of next year, which will likely be WisCon in May.
  • More books! So much stuff in various stages of completion! I want to write all the things! And never sleep again! Oh wait, that won't work...
Anyway, more bulletins soon. I've got a big editing project and a story I want to finish this week so back to the grindstone on that. Leaving you with another picture of my pretty. Pets slowly as she switches screens...


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The list in progress!

January:

· Arisia, Boston, MA. Jan. 15-18th. I’m moderating a panel on the Founding Mothers of SFF and helping with the Outer Alliance gathering on Sunday. Otherwise, hanging out and enjoying myself.

· 2016 Lesbian Fiction Appreciation Event – Jan. 21. I’ll be doing a post on things I have pondered while serving as an awards judge for various writing awards.

February:

· DevFest MN 2016February 6th, Minneapolis. I’ll be doing a joint presentation on Accessibility and Aging in IT with Twin Cities Women in Tech founder Valerie Lockhart.

· Inflagranti Delicto: Writing Good Sex Scenes – Loft Literary Center, Minneapolis. February 13, 1-5PM. Class that I’m offering at the Loft; it will need to have 6 or more registrants to carry.

· Lavender Ink: Writing and Selling LGBTQ Fiction - Loft Literary Center, Minneapolis. February 27, 1-4PM. Class that I’m offering at the Loft; it will need to have 6 or more registrants to carry.

March:

Women Author's Event - Tretter Collection at the University of MN Libraries (joint event with Quatrefoil Library).March 26, 1-4PM. Featured authors include Jessie Chandler, Judith Katz, Pat Schmatz, MB Panichi, myself and possibly Rachel Gold.

April:

AlterConf Minneapolis - Lead Pages, Minneapolis, April 9, 11PM - 4PM. Tech conference focused on diversity issues in IT and gaming. Valerie Lockhart and I will be focusing on making IT-related workplaces more accessible on multiple levels.

May:

June:

· Au Contraire! 2016 – Wellington, New Zealand. June 3-5th. No idea if I’ll be on programming but hoping to get on a panel or two. Besides, New Zealand! Whee!

CONvergence 2016 – Minneapolis, MN. June 30th- July 3rd. Panels, perhaps a reading. Got sick and was unable to attend. :-(

 

July:

· Diversicon 24 – Minneapolis, MN (new hotel likely). July 29th-31st. Jessica Amanda Salmonson is GOH this year. Panels.


August:

· MidAmericanCon II – Kansas City, MN. August 17th-21st. Worldcon for 2016. Panels (see tag)

September:
Speculations Reading Series -

DreamHaven Books, Comics and Art, Minneapolis, MN. September 21st, 6:30PM. At which I will be reading stuff of my own composition and suchlike.


October:

· Gaylaxicon 2016Minneapolis, MN. October 7th-9th. Panels and perhaps a reading.

· Arcana 46 – St. Paul, MN. October 21st-23rd. Panels. Alas, no Arcana for me as I have a conflict. But Kathe Koja is GOH and the rest of you should go.

November:

· TeslaCon, hopefully. For the sheer joy of it. Madison, WI. November17th-20th


December:

 

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2016 actually started out pretty strong – I got to try lots of new things and life wasn't too bad, overall. The personalized part of the Festival of Death and Destruction didn’t really start for me until late October, for which I count myself and mine fortunate.

Some things I did in 2016, writing and otherwise:
  • 2 presentations on what it’s like to be an older woman working In IT, one at the Google DevFest MN and the other at AlterConf Minneapolis. First tech convention presentations ever!
  • Did a presentation on representation and aging in speculative fiction to a class at the University Of MN (first one of these too!)
  • Submitted and got accepted for a literary fiction magazine. First issue of Callisto: A Queer Fiction Journal from Sibling Rivalry Press.
  • Saw my first gaming-related fiction published - The Cainite Conspiracies: A Vampire the Masquerade 20th Anniversary Dark Ages Anthology
  • Went to New Zealand! And it was lovely and we hung out with fabulous people and went to Hobbiton and the Weta workshop and learned a bit about Maori culture and had a fabulous time.
  • Went to my first international science fiction convention and appeared on a panel that got recorded for the Wellington Access radio show Writers Island.
  • Started my first big freelance editing/mentoring project with a writer who was able to hire me on a grant
  • Learned the rudiments of a bunch of new software for the press as well as other stuff (current tally: WordPress, Tableau, QuickBooks, Vellum and Scrivener)
  • Got to be on and/or moderate some high profile panels at MidAmericon II (World Con 74), including one on cyberpunk with Pat Cadigan and other lovely folks and one on YA with Mark Oshiro and a talented and lively crew of other authors.
  • Got breast reduction surgery, which will be awesome in the long run, if still a bit ouchy and oozy.
  • Returned to teaching at the Loft Literary Center. I hadn’t stormed off in a huff or anything, but a previous accepted class proposal didn’t carry and I didn’t get around to submitting anything new for a while.
  • Got into my first Year’s Best Lesbian Erotica anthology as my alter ego, Emily Byrne
  • Had one of my books make it onto the Sirens: A Conference of Women and the Fantastic reading challenge list (so pleased!).
  • Did panels at 5 science fiction and fantasy conventions, presentations at 2 tech conferences and one university, taught 1 writing class, did 2 readings and 1 guest post.
  • Saw 3 new stories published, wrote a bunch of words and am about two day’s worth of work on book formatting and submissions from seeing a new collection out the door. Out of This World: Queer Speculative Fiction Stories, coming soon from Queen of Swords Press.

Less jolly things about my 2016:
  • 2 people dear to me died this year: my family of choice aunt Patricia Myers and poet John Calvin Rezmerski, our friend and our wedding officiant. I miss them both tremendously.
  • Saw a lot of other people die, including someone from my graduate program, several acquaintances and an enormous number of cultural figures that I admired.
  • Lots of family stress and job stress.  
  • Breast cancer scare, which fortunately turned out okay and prompted my decision to have reduction surgery, but made for an unpleasant 10 days.
  • Started out the year with the tail end of a dental infection, which did clear up after about 4 months, including the tail end of 2015. But nothing fatal or even life threatening.
  • The ramp up to the U.S. election, when I got a glorious front row seat on misogyny and how it continues to be a thing. This was not new information, mind you. Nor were the accompanying updates on racism, homophobia and other b.s., but I had occasionally hoped that things might get better.
  • The results of said election which are pretty much guaranteed to destroy a lot of life as we know it, many of our cultural institutions and the existing, already porous, social safety net, not to mention the environmental damage and so forth. Sorry, but there it is. Want to stop any or all of that? That requires fighting back, on any level you’ve got. Do what you can, support other folk’s efforts, focus on making the world better in big and small ways. Hang in there.
 
So what’s on tap for 2017?
  • Getting Queen of Swords Press off the ground with more new titles. Hopefully open up to submissions by other writers by the end of the year, depending on how things go. I want to make sure that I have a better understanding of distribution and monthly press income and marketing, amongst other things, before I bring in other folks. So we'll see how things go.
  • Planned conventions: WisCon, GCLS, Diversicon, Worldcon 75 in Helsinki, Sirens: A Conference on Women in the Fantastic and World Fantasy Convention in San Antonio.
  • Applied to volunteer at PFund, the foundation that funds most of the LGBTQ+ organizations and events in the upper Midwest
  • Job hunt kick off, since my job is slated for elimination by 2018
  • Rewrite novels, finish at least one of the ones in progress
  • Spend time with friends, do good and useful things and fight back.
   
Wishing all of you a better-than-any-of-us-fear 2017, health, love from loved ones and all good things!
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Reviving this because we need a long game as well as immediate responses. The stronger the organizations that support us are, the better our odds of surviving the next few years. Got something new? Add it in the comments and I'll check it out and add it.

This is a resource post compiling some research that I’m doing and wanted to share. The focus is intended to be on investing, small business loans, grants, etc. for businesses started/run by female-identified people and queer folk. As a rule, women, people of color and queer folks get fewer investments in their businesses, less money and less support across the globe; unsurprisingly, minority women and queer folks in just about any category get less than that. Please share, boost and reblog this list as desired. Some of these organizations subsist on investments, others on donations. Bear in mind that for a lot of these organizations, even investing $100 a year or less can make a sizeable difference so if you see something you’re interested in,  don’t let not being a 1%er slow you down (especially if you actually are a 1%er).

I’m starting at the high end and working my way down to microfinance. Some of these organizations I have contributed to and worked with, some I pulled off the Web or other folks’ lists so inclusion here is not necessarily an endorsement of any of the following.

Women in Venture Capital, Small Business Startups, etc.

Golden Seeds – early stage venture capital investment in women run companies. http://www.goldenseeds.com/

Women’s Venture Capital Fund – women-run tech firms start-up capital, etc. http://www.womensvcfund.com/

Makeda Capital, LLC – brand new hedge fund specializing in women-led companies - http://makedacapital.com/

Women’s Venture Fund – business loans, training for new entrepreneurs, NY and New Jersey area - http://www.womensventurefund.org/

Women Venture – MN-based, classes, scholarships, support, loans - http://www.womenventure.org/what-we-offer.html

She Owns It – networking site for women entrepreneurs, resource lists, etc. http://sheownsit.com/

Women 2.0 – women in technology, funding, networking - http://women2.com/2013/12/04/funding-loans-target-women-owned-businesses/

Small Business Association – Women-Owned Business – loans, mentoring, business plans, etc. http://www.sba.gov/content/women-owned-businesses

LGBTQ Folks:

Start OUT - Networking, mentoring, funding for LGBTQ entrepreneurs
https://startout.org/about-us/


Investment funds:

Pax World Funds Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Index Fund – mutual fund that invests in companies that are run by women, promote women and have women in senior level leadership ($1000 min investment, as low as $50 a month thereafter) - http://www.paxworld.com/advisors/investment-strategies/pax-world-mutual-funds/global-womens-index-fund

Calvert Foundation – Women Investing in Women Initiative (WIN-WIN) – microfinance and lending, min $20 investment - http://www.calvertfoundation.org/impact/issues

Equality Funds - investing in LGBTQ-friendly and LGBTQ-run businesses. http://www.equalityfunds.com

Micro-finance:

Kiva – nonprofit that makes loans for various projects, including women-focused ones. You pick the projects you want to support. $25 to start. - http://www.kiva.org/lend#/?perPage=20&countries[]=&gender=Female

Women’s Microfinance Initiative – loans to women building projects in East Africa - http://wmionline.org/

Women for Women International – working with women survivors or war to rebuild, loans, support. $30 to set up, $30 per month after. -http://www.womenforwomen.org/programs-supporting-women/programs-for-helping-women.php

 

Grants:

Women’s Environmental Institute – training women in sustainable farming, urban farming techniques, marketing produce, etc. CSA as well as membership options. $50 a year for
membership. http://w-e-i.org/

MN Women’s Foundation (there’s a foundation like this in most U.S. States; check to see if you have a local one if you don't live in MN) – grants to organizations that serve women and girls, donate in any amount - http://www.wfmn.org/

Third Wave Fund – activist fund for young queer activists focussing on gender and racial justice and diversity – scholarships, media, training, etc. $25 and up to be a sustainer. http://thirdwavefund.org/

Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice – LGBTQI inclusive, grants for activism, community
building, arts funding, etc. $10 and up - http://www.astraeafoundation.org/fuelingthefrontlines/

Ms. Foundation - Organizational grants for groups working on grassroots issues such as childcare, violence against women, reproductive rights, etc. - http://forwomen.org/content/121/en/What%20we%20do/Grant%20Making/Apply%20for%20a%20Grant.html

PFund Foundation - Organizational grants for groups in the Upper Midwest working on LGBTQ+ issues, scholarships for students, etc. http://www.pfundfoundation.org

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A number of you know [livejournal.com profile] queenoftheskies from LJ, Viable Paradise or conventions like Sirens. She's in a bit of a spot and needs some help. Please donate if you can and boost.
Fundraiser.


Most of you also know [personal profile] elisem. She needs to improve the accessibility of her home so she's hoping to sell enough of her spectacular shinies to make that a thing. Check out her Etsy here.

I'd also really like to see some movement on a convention making Elise their Artist Guest of Honor. She's does beautiful art, has been a World Fantasy Award finalist, inspires other artists and writers, filks and is an excellent panelist. What are you waiting for, con runners? Let's see those invitations get issued!

I know there's a ton of other folks out there needing a hand, so please help where you can, however you can. We're going to need to help each other a lot in the coming years.

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The first issue of Callisto: A Queer Fiction Journal is out from Sibling Rivalry Press! It includes my story "Faceless" and is edited by the very talented Raymond Luczak. "Faceless" is literary fiction and is about a blind date gone horribly awry at an art opening. The cover is glorious, the publication looks tasty and interesting and for those playing along at home, yes, I have a gaming tie-in story and my second-ever literary fiction piece out within 10 days of each other. :-)
Let no one say I am not eclectic.

Other projects continue apace and I'm trying to do some good in the world. Onward!

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 There'll be a memorial sfnal poetry reading tonight at DreamHaven Books to honor poet extraordinaire and friend John Calvin Rezmerski. It will start at 6:30 and run for about an hour. Please bring anecdotes and/or your favorite poems by him or just yourselves and help us remember him in style. I'm planning on a Grace Lord Stoke poem or two, myself.
Full bio here:  
https://www.facebook.com/groups/153809304687048/permalink/1206908039377164/
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The Cainite Conspiracies, the Vampire: The Masquerade Dark Ages anthology which includes my story "Incarnadine Seas," as well as stories by Maurice Broaddus and edited by Monica Valentinelli, is out today from Onyx Path Publishing! This is one of two anthologies celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the game Vampire: The Masquerade, which is pretty cool.

I should note that Monica had to format my story to gaming writer standards because I am without clue on this score and that I greatly appreciate her willingness to include writers new to gaming in the antho. I did read the entire Vampire: The Masquerade V20 Rule Book in its entirety, however, and in the next week or so, I will be playing the game with friends so we can all celebrate it together. :-)

More news on my new collection coming up soon too! Into the finalizing of details and formatting and getting sundry things set up stage.

V20 The Cainite Conspiracies Anthology
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As some of you know, I've been pulling together a new collection of my queer speculative fiction stories. This will be my first book for Queen of Swords Press, the small press venture I've been working on for the last couple of years. What's taken so long? Life, mostly. And so much of it. But I'm getting the website finalized, the first book is in final edits and formatting and I'm working hard to get a book out this year. What's next? I'm working on a collection of erotica, which will be an Emily L. Byrne book. Then, I have enough historical tales for another collection, enough erotica for a second collection, two novels in edits (including an updated version of Silver Moon), a collection of fairy tale retellings in embryo, 3 other novels in various stages of completion and...once I have a better idea of what I'm doing, I do want to open the Press to authors who are Not Me. When will that be? Guessing later on next year, depending on how things go. More updates as events warrant.

So, Out of This World: Queer Speculative Fiction Stories.



The cover is by KaNaXa, known for her fabulous book covers for many well known romance publishers and indie authors. And the stories themselves? This will be a mix of my fantasy, horror and science fiction with queer protagonists. Some of these were collected in my now out of print single author collection, A Day at the Inn, A Night at the Palace and Other Stories. It's worth noting that
A Day at the Inn is on the Sirens Conference of Women in the Fantastic Reading Challenge for 2017, so I'm going out on a limb and guessing that some folks liked it. It was never very widely read, however, so I'm hoping this one goes a bit further. Other stories in here are long out of print and/or never collected anywhere before. Several stories were award finalist or got honorable mentions in Best of lists and such so I like to think this is some of my best short fiction work. I hope you think so too. Stay tuned here or on my Facebook Author/Editor Page or on the email list that you will soon be able to sign up for on my shiny new Queen of Swords Press website (I'll link when we've got a few things set up).

Table of Contents:
Great Reckonings, Little Rooms
Medium Méchanique
The Egyptian Cat
At the Roots of the World Tree
A Scent of Roses
At Mother Laurie’s House of Bliss
Spell, Book and Candle
Beauty
Red Scare
A Day at the Inn, A Night at the Palace
Vadija

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 Not incidentally, people who become "Not People" can readily include: religious and cultural minorities, women, POC, queers, the disabled, intellectuals. "Not people" often include labor union leaders, activists, opposition politicians, refugees, immigrants and...reporters. Look at Turkey or Russia, The Philippines or any historical dictatorship for examples. Your category will come up, sooner or later. Who'll be left to speak for you then? 

What will you do when they find that line? Because they will. Capitulating is not an option. Quisling was not a role model. Choose wisely.
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 It has been, and continues to be a rough week.
  • Still having problems sleeping.
  • Still in some discomfort/pain (they did take the first round of staples out this week, which hurt a fair amount but does mean there's progress).
  • I'm working but haven't been able to drive to the office.

So what am I doing?
  • Gathering together my community and checking on people. Also, going and seeing people in person. I cannot emphasize this enough. Get offline and go see folks you know and trust. It helps them and you.
  • Planning small events and pulling in folks I don't see much.
  • Making some calls, sending emails, signing petitions, boosting signals. 
  • Focusing on spending my money at LGBTQ or women or POC  or immigrant-owned businesses and nonprofits that I know to be good for our communities, 
  • Working on my two latest short story collections.
  • Helping my wife create her new Etsy shop.
  • Seeing what I can clear off my plate so I can volunteer when I finish healing, feeding people, listening, talking, wishing I was doing more and recognizing that I will when I can.
  •  
  •  
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Since I posted last...
  • I went on a quick trip to my family-of-choice aunt's funeral in NYC. It was sad, but necessary, and I got to see many people I haven't seen in a long time and to give her a short tribute.
  • I came back in time for surgery prep and my presentation at the U. of MN on "Depictions of Aging in Speculative Fiction." This went well - engaged adult education class, interesting discussion and my presentation was well-received.
  • Then, surgery. This took longer than anyone originally thought it would, so immediate recovery was a bear. Amongst other things, I didn't get much sleep for about 8 nights. I'm doing better now, though still sore. I think I'll be pretty happy with the results when I heal, though. Guessing that's about 2 more weeks out.
  • Several days after my surgery, our friend, poet extraordinaire John Calvin Rezmerski, passed away. It wasn't a surprise like Pat was, as he'd been ill for awhile, but his is a loss that cannot easily be filled. Rez was the officiant at our wedding in Iowa in 2009. Insisted on it, in fact, and took his duties very seriously. We could not have asked for a better officiant or friend. He could be relied upon to be a fine dinner companion and discussion participant  at each WisCon and Diversicon, as well as sundry other events. His poetry ranged from the comic (his performances of the oeuvre of Grace Lord Stoke as a member of Lady Poetesses from Hell are to be treasured) to the deeply moving. There will be a memorial at DreamHaven Books in Minneapolis, December 7th at 6:30 PM. Bring your favorite Rez anecdotes and poems. We'll be reading excerpts of his work and celebrating his memory.
  • And then there was the fucking election...I'll comment about this separately. I have many thoughts. In the meantime, support queer and diverse and refugee and POC and environmental and prochoice and antidomestic violence and feminist groups, as well as anybody else likely to be immediate targets of the new regime. Donate. Volunteer. Recruit your friends. Go to or host benefits. Bring in speakers. Protest. Sign petitions. Talk to your representatives. Spend time with people you care about and take care of yourselves.
  • "If we do not hang together, we shall surely hang separately." Attributed to Benjamin Franklin, on the signing of the Declaration of Independence, subsequently printed by Mistress Mary Katherine Goddard (printer, publisher, postmistress, bookseller  - a woman who blazed some serious trails)
And on that, I have donations to deliver and a second collection of short fiction to edit and format and get out the door.
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Pat, or "Aunt Pat" as I dubbed her when I was a but a babe in arms, was a major part of my entire life. She and my mother, Alice, met in the Girl Scouts and became lifelong friends. She and Mom shared schools, an apartment at one point and a lifelong friendship. She set my mother up with my dad on their first date (she apologized to me for that years later, given that dear old Dad was not exactly a great human being). She was at their wedding and Mom was at hers when she married Bud Myers, AKA Uncle Bud. They eventually divorced, but stayed good friends. Bud bought me my first wok and showed me how to cook in it. Pat showed me how to do embroidery and needlework; I still have a pair of embroidery scissors that she gave me when I was 13 or so. I also hung out with her terrific kids, Tom and Suzi, both considerably younger than me.

And Pat and her family gave forever homes to several cats that we rescued from various things but couldn't keep. Basil St. John, the one-eyed cat, who had been previously rescued by one of my friends after being hit by a car went to live with them after my friend's uncle tried to poison him and our cat failed to take a shine to him when he moved in with us. Ragamuffin, who was cat straight out of a Kliban cartoon, was rescued from the Brooklyn streets by us, then given to a catless family friend, then to Pat and family after that friend died. They were two of the many rescued cats that Pat housed over the years. Daphne, the last one, is also blind in one eye, carrying on the Basil St. J. tradition.

Pat got me a summer job at the small photo archive where she worked in the early 1980s (Pat and Mom both did photo research for textbook companies and related entities for many years). I don't remember a bunch about that job, except that the owner was a challenging personality for an edgy 18 year old to get along with. Several years after I left NYC for the wilds of St. Louis, I heard that he had died from complications with AIDS/HIV. I remember Pat and Mom and some other folks organizing to help run the business when he got sick and helping his surviving partner wrap things up when he, too, got sick. Bear in mind that this was the late 1980s and AIDS was still the big scary bad thing, the "terrorism" of its time. But they went and braved the scariness to help a gay couple who needed them because it was the right thing to do.

Years later, Pat talked my mother into getting treatment for her alcoholism. Long after I'd given up, Pat kept trying until she found a way in. Mom got sober and stayed sober and we had about 15 good years as a result. And when Mom's dementia started to kick in, Pat was one of my support people in NY, always available when I needed someone to talk to. We kept talking and she kept calling and writing my mom, even after Mom stopped being able to call or write her back.

And my heart is just broken. I'm going to miss her so much. She was one of those folks who lit up a room when she came in. She loved bright colors and quilting and rescuing cats and going on walking tours and hot air ballooning. She also raised two amazing people, who do lots of terrific things to carry on her legacy. And she mentored and guided so many other people in addition to me that it feels a little odd to say that she had two kids because sometime it felt like she had so many more. She was the best of us and I can only hope that I can help carry on her legacy too.

I'm flying to New York on Friday morning and I'll be speaking at her funeral and memorial on Saturday afternoon. Her family is asking that people donate to the Himalayan Cataract Project in her memory, but after consulting with her daughter, I'm going to continue supporting a project that I donated to as a Christmas gift for her last year. We both loved Heifer international and this last December, I contributed to the launch of a women artisan's cooperative in Peru. It made her very happy so I'll be continuing my support in her honor (and a side note about the coop:  the women involved in this project are doing amazing work that includes sustainable farming and a new store for their crafts). May her memory stay green and may it continue to inspire good in the world.



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The weekend kicked off on Thursday late afternoon when, just before leaving work, I got the news that my beloved family-of-choice Aunt Pat had died suddenly. She was one of my mother’s best friends and a terrific lady. Post to follow shortly as I organize my thoughts for speaking at her funeral in NYC on Saturday, something I'd hoped to put off for many years to come. :-(((
 
This, needless to say, made the Duluth trip, our only purely vacation trip of the latter part of the year, a lot less fun than it might have been. This is no reflection on Duluth, which was pretty much best foot forward all weekend. The weather was gorgeous, the fall colors spectacular. We got in later than planned - it’s normally a 2.5 hour drive but construction and a late start got us there in the early afternoon. We went directly to Glensheen, which is a large and lovely historical estate/museum at the north end of town. It is known for its beauty and the quality of the restoration/confirmation on the home and grounds (and the murders that took place here in the 1970s, which are not to be discussed inside the house, according to some of the staff). At any rate, it is quite pretty  – I particularly like the green-tiled sun porch, which looked like it would be brutally cold in winter, but very nice to look at.
 
We stayed at Olcott House, which is a very pretty B&B in a historical building. Nice innkeeper, nice space, pleasant companions at breakfast, not so nice aging mattress. So we were light on sleep due to that and grieving, which also made things less fun than they might have been otherwise. But so it goes. Friday night was dinner at the fabulous Pickwick’s, a pub in operation since 1914 or thereabouts. Saturday morning, we stopped by Chester Creek Books and Antiques, which is a lovely store inside an old converted church. Reader, we bought books. I know, huge surprise. Best find: Easton Press edition of C.J. Cherryh’s Downbelow Station, which I have never read.  Then we were off to lunch and Duluth Trading, before moving on to the Tweed to meet our friend Matt and peruse Shakespeare’s First Folio. This was fun and they did a nice exhibit on costumes and art, as well as providing a copy of the tome that one could leaf through. We then braved the crowds at Canal Park to go to Duluth Pack, before heading back to the B&B to change for the ballet. After that, we were off to dinner at Va Bene, which was tasty and then on to DECC for Dracula. Minnesota Ballet put on a fine performance, with some great dancing, and some very Edward Goreyish sets, which I loved. Other than the hall being a tad cold, it was a swell time.

Sunday, we drove part of the Skyline Parkway, which circles the top of the city with a spectacular view of the harbor and the woods on the other side. it was very lovely, as was our stop at Enger Tower. From there, we managed to get lost for a while, which was unpleasant, but wound up At Sara's Table for lunch, which was very tasty. Then we started driving home and got stuck in traffic so we got home a lot later than planned. Overall, mixed bag on the vacation front. But will definitely check out Duluth again.

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Now that Sekrit Project has been approved and is due out next month (don't have release date yet, but guessing soon), I have carte blanche to talk about it. Amongst the many new things that I've been tackling this year (and there's been a lot), I tried my hand at a spot of gaming tie-in writing, specifically a short story for Onyx Path Publishing's Vampire the Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition (Dark Ages, as opposed to other parts of the gameverse) tie-in anthology, "The Cainite Conspiracies." "Incarnadine Seas" is set in the late 13th century and is about the unlikely alliance between a Jewish sorceress (exiled from England - an actual historical event, I might add) and a female Gangrel from France, both under attack by a Tremere thaumaturge. Gangrel and Tremere are vampire clans, for folks not familiar with the game. I did a lot of research for this, including 400 + pages of gaming manual, a bunch of V20 Wiki and game-related stuff as well as what I could find on Jewish medieval history. Hopefully, I did a good job! Cover and release date when I have them. :-)

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