A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

IMG_3043The years between 1861 and 1863 were not kind to the American poet, Henry Wadworth Longfellow. In 1861, his wife died after an accident when her dress caught fire. In 1863, his son Charles ran away to join the Civil War on the Union side. Charles was sent home after being horribly wounded in the back. Charles eventually recovered and went on to have a full and adventurous life, but during that year his future looked bleak.

Longfellow wrote “Christmas Bells” on christmas Day in 1863. It seems especially relevant as we celebrate this Christmas, undaunted despite a scary year behind us and a scary year ahead. Merry Christmas, dear readers!

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,

and wild and sweet
The words repeat

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom

Had rolled along
The unbroken song

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,

A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,

And with the sound
The carols drowned

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,

And made forlorn
The households born

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;

“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;

The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,

With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

Thanks to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Heard_the_Bells_on_Christmas_Day for lyrics and background

 

 

WWI and the Birth of a Genre

J.R.R. Tolkien in uniform

J.R.R. Tolkien

This Saturday (October 21, 2017) I’ll be giving a presentation on WWI, Science Fiction, and Fantasy at Folsom Public Library at 10AM. In this presentation I’ll be talking about how anxieties immediately before and after the war led to a wave of invasion literature, such as H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds, and utopian and dystopian literature, such as Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

I hope I can see some of my California friends at this event! I’ve given this presentation before in Sacramento and had a great time. Loved the audience Q and A!

Action Check In

Vot logoHello, my dear fellow geeks. As you all know, on November 8, 2016 I had a terrible dream that Trump was elected president. Any minute now I shall awake and we will be freed of this terrifying vision. Alas, it seems I’m still asleep so today is check in day. How is everyone doing? Y’all OK? Everyone keeping up with their phone calls? Remembering to be active with local politics as well as national? Are you staying hydrated and wearing comfortable shoes?

I made a New Year’s Resolution to do 365 actions on or before New Year’s Eve 2017. Here are my rules for myself:

  1. An action can be a single phone call or email, although I have stopped counting signing petitions. Sometimes I count “call your reps” as a single action. Sometimes I count each call separately. I live on the edge.
  2. A big action, like several hours at a march or bottle feeding a kitten (which is a think I did! You have to help them poop! It’s weird!) counts for more than one action. Acts of community service and kindness count as political actions. So does making a donation.
  3. Sometimes I do an action a day and sometimes I crank out a lot of them at once. Whatever.

By my wacky accounting system, I’ve done 235 actions as of August 3. I have noticed that when I keep up with them my levels of anxiety and depression are better. Today I’m emailing Trump to tell him to knock it off with the hate speech, so that should be all sorted out as soon as he reads my email. You’re welcome.

The happy trick to my system is that it is MY system. Make your own! It really doesn’t matter how you get your activism in. Maybe you help old ladies across the street. Maybe you share stuff on Facebook (fact check it first, please)! Maybe you focus on educating yourself by reading about political, social, economic, or environmental issues and about our crazy political history. Find something you care about and speak out about that thing.

By the way, this previous Friday (Aug 4) we had a visit from the amazing Bonnie Burton, author of Crafting With Feminism. Be sure to check the post out!

San Diego Comic-Con 2017

San Diego Comic Con logoThis year was my fourth year at San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) and while it was a good experience overall, I’m getting a little cranky about it. Here’s the highs and lows of my personal experience. For SDCC news, I recommend io9.com.

My experience this year was very much affected by my physical state on Saturday and Sunday, especially Saturday. SDCC is all about attitude and my attitude was grumpy. The lines seemed longer and the atmosphere more tense. Every time I tried to sit down or even stand still some staff person told me to move, which was infuriating (credit where due – when people did NOT keep moving the resulting bottlenecks were horrific). Having survived Saturday, when I was in rocky shape, I advise one and all to keep careful track of your energy levels and be kind to them. Have an exit plan ahead of time. Eat some fiber and protein. One thing SDCC does do well is provide a lot of free water. DRINK IT ALL.  This is your vacation, for God’s sake. You should enjoy it, even if that means that you miss some stuff because you are taking a nap.

 

me, looking fed up an exhausted, sitting under a "no sitting" sign

 

Even though I spent this year in an extremely cranky fibro fog, I still had some wonderful experiences. My daughter was able to get into an autograph session with the cast and creators of Steven Universe and later we went to a panel with Rebecca Sugar, the creator of Steven Universe, and the show’s co-developer, Ian Jones-Quarty. I loved hearing about the background of the show, but more than that as a parent was so grateful to cast and creators for being incredibly warm and kind towards my daughter. I am also grateful to the creators of the show for making something so incredibly positive, feminist, and inclusive.

I heard a lot of people give advice about succeeding at visual arts, at comics, at cartoons, at acting careers, and at writing, and all the advice was the same regardless of the medium. Keep going. Work every day. Practice. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Engage with your audience. Above all, remember that an idea is no good if you keep it in your head. Rebecca Sugar told us that she writes her doodles for new show concepts on scavenged paper scraps so she won’t have to feel bad about messing up a nice sketchbook with bad first drafts. Whatever it takes to give yourself permission to get those awful first drafts after you, do it and then finish your work!

the meeseeks from Rick and Morty!

Can Do! Pic is blurry because we couldn’t stop laughing long enough to hold the camera steady!

You’d think it would be hard to make friends in a crowd of 100,00+ people, but personally, over the years SDCC has become less about the panels and more about the friendships. I had so much fun hanging out with people know and love. I think the greatest benefit of conventions, whether large or small, is that they help people form smaller, intimate communities of support, understanding, and a lot of laughter.

The most mind-blowing aspect of my SDCC experience has been growing from an observer to a participant. I was honored to moderate the panel “Embracing the Romantic.” Rebecca Zanetti, Jessica Cluess, Stephanie Perkins, Anna Todd, Christina Hobbs, and Lauren Billings. We had so much fun talking about the importance of romance, our favorite couples, what makes a romance compelling, and how much science fiction and fantasy fans and romance fans have in common. Thank you, ladies, for a delightful experience!

It's Cosplay Repair Guy!

And thanks, Cosplay Repairman, for the bobby pins!

San Diego Comic-Con is what you make of it. It can overwhelm you unless you set up strict self-care rules for yourself. You can have a feminist, inclusive experience that celebrates people of color and LGBTQIA readers and creators. I come away from SDCC heart warmed and inspired and ready for battle every year, but I deliberately choose the panels that will foster those emotions. You can have a thrilling experience centered around big budget movies or you can have a slightly more calm, but still thrilling, experience centered around comics, authors, and artists.

I Made A Thing!

Cover of Invisible 3
I’m incredibly honored to have an essay included in Invisible 3: Personal Essays and Poems on Representation in SF/F, an anthology edited by Jim C. Hines and Mary Ann Mohanraj.

One reason I’m so pleased to be part of this project is that all proceeds go towards Con or Bust, a non-profit that helps people of color attend science fiction and fantasy conventions:

Con or Bust, Inc., is a tax-exempt not-for-profit organization (EIN: 81-2141738) that helps people of color/non-white people attend SFF conventions. Con or Bust isn’t a scholarship and isn’t limited to the United States, to particular types of con-goers, or to specific cons; its goal is simply to help fans of color go to SFF cons and be their own awesome selves. It is funded through donations and an online auction held annually.

Invisible 3 is available digitally from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Smashwords, and Google Play. Here’s the table of contents:

  • Introduction by K. Tempest Bradford
  • Heroes and Monsters, by T. S. Bazelli
  • Notes from the Meat Cage, by Fran Wilde
  • What Color Are My Heroes? by Mari Kurisato
  • The Zeroth Law Of Sex in Science Fiction, by Jennifer Cross
  • Our Hyperdimensional Mesh of Identities, by Alliah
  • Erasing Athena, Effacing Hestia, by Alex Conall
  • Not So Divergent After All, by Alyssa Hillary
  • Skins, by Chelsea Alejandro
  • The Doctor and I, by Benjamin Rosenbaum
  • My Family Isn’t Built By Blood, by Jaime O. Mayer
  • Lost in Space: A Messy Voyage Through Fictional Universes, by Carrie Sessarego
  • Decolonise The Future, by Brandon O’Brien
  • Natives in Space, by Rebecca Roanhorse
  • I Would Fly With Dragons, by Sean Robinson
  • Adventures in Online Dating, by Jeremy Sim
  • Of Asian-Americans and Bellydancing Wookiees, by Dawn Xiana Moon
  • Shard of a Mirage, by MT O’Shaughnessy
  • Unseen, Unheard, by Jo Gerrard

 

Enjoy!

Where have I been all month?

IMG_7154Good lord, I haven’t posted anything other than Between the Lines Book Club posts since mid-May. Here’s where I’ve been:

RT Convention, Atlanta, Georgia

What a wonderful event! I love seeing my friends and fellow Smart Bitches. Highlights: Yarn Shopping, Reader Recommendation Panel, Bollywood Panel, Center for Civil and Human Rights, and discovering that Georgia is beautiful and green.

We recorded a podcast about RT at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.

BayCon, San Mateo, California

One of my two home conventions where I get together with good friends and eat a lot and have a great time! This year my daughter and I were both guests and performers at the Variety Show. It’s been a wonderful place for my daughter to grow up and seeing her move into more adult roles (but not too adult) is incredibly moving. Meanwhile I got support from friends and inspiration from everyone. If you are interested in attending in 2018, here’s the BayCon link.

Home

Dear lord, what a month we had at home. School play, school talent show, end of year school projects, open house, the inevitable post RT fibro flare that segued straight into the inevitable BayCon fibro flare, Bike Month, Mother’s Day, hay fever. Much good stress, a little bad stress, all busy. Also I watched two seasons of The Expanse in preparation for BayCon. It was FOR WORK, OK? I googled those screencaps of Amos FOR RESEARCH.

So, now here we are, almost halfway through June, and I’m still catching up (this involves a lot of sleep, frankly). If you are one of the friends I saw at BayCon or RT, thank you for making it so special! If I missed you, let’s be sure to meet next time!

 

 

My Schedule at Baycon

itVe-C3sSo excited to be heading back to Baycon, or, as I call it, “My Family Reunion.” Baycon is happening in San Mateo, CA from May 26 to May 29, 2017. Here’s my schedule:

Girls will be Girls

Saturday 16:00 – 17:30, Inspire 1 (San Mateo Marriott)

Why are so many YA dystopias centered on young women? What about this particular genre is so appealing to (or inclusive of) young women and what does it say about our society?

Loren Rhoads (M), Teresa Edgerton, Margaret McGaffey Fisk, Linden Tarr, Carrie Sessarego

Science Fiction (and/or Fantasy) as a Tool for Social Change

Sunday 13:00 – 14:30, Synergy 5 (San Mateo Marriott)

Deborah J. Ross (M), A.E. Marling, Stephen “Dirk” Libbey, Carrie Sessarego

The Hunger Games

Sunday 14:30 – 16:00, Inspire 1 (San Mateo Marriott)

One of the quintessential dystopian works of our time, Suzanne Collins’ series prompts a deeper look at how we view dystopia, children and heroism.

Linden Tarr, Carrie Sessarego (M), John O’Halloran, Chris O’Halloran

Why’d You Steal That Baby?

Sunday 20:30 – 22:00, Connect 1 (San Mateo Marriott)

Evening merriment abounds at this one, folks! Our intrepid panelists have 2 minutes each to answer our moderator’s most scintillating questions!

Steven Mix (M), Carrie Sessarego, Susie Rodriguez, SallyRose Robinson, Cindi Somebody Cabal

 

My schedule at RT Booklovers Convention

2017-rt-convention-rtbr-homepage-adI’ll be hanging out with Smart Bitches, Trashy Books at RT in Atlanta, Georgia from May 1 – 7. So excited. If anyone is from Atlanta, what should I see? I’m hoping to play hooky a bit since I’ve never been to Atlanta (other than the airport) or, for that matter, anyplace in the South other than Texas (again, for an RT Convention, so I didn’t get out much). I’m vegetarian so BBQ is lost on me but I hear the pie is good.

Here’s my schedule:

Reader Recommendation Party!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017 2:45pm – 3:45pm

Location: LL2/Exhibit/Reader Level

Room: Hanover C

Join Amanda Deihl, Redheadedgirl, Elyse Discher, Sarah Wendell, and Carrie Sessarego as we discuss our favorite reads and be ready to share your own! Many giveaways! Warning: many people found this to be an expensive panel. The sound of people one-clicking on amazon on their phones could be heard for miles.

STBT Meet Up!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017 8:30PM – Whenever

A Casual Hangout. More info at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.

Hope to see you at RT!

March for Science

1*kwiNY-8vonJm3sIBdwogAwThis coming Saturday, April 22nd, will be the day of the March for Science. The march will be held in Washington, D.C., with sister marches being held around the world. For information about marches in your area, check the March for Science webpage under “Marches.”  I hope many of my readers will attend – you do not have to be a scientist to march, only someone who believes that science is important.

The Trump administration has taken unprecedented budget cuts in science funding as well as reversing policies based on science. From the March for Science webpage:

The March for Science is a celebration of science.  It’s not only about scientists and politicians; it is about the very real role that science plays in each of our lives and the need to respect and encourage research that gives us insight into the world.  Nevertheless, the march has generated a great deal of conversation around whether or not scientists should involve themselves in politics. In the face of an alarming trend toward discrediting scientific consensus and restricting scientific discovery, we might ask instead: can we afford not to speak out in its defense?

People who value science have remained silent for far too long in the face of policies that ignore scientific evidence and endanger both human life and the future of our world. New policies threaten to further restrict scientists’ ability to research and communicate their findings.  We face a possible future where people not only ignore scientific evidence, but seek to eliminate it entirely.  Staying silent is a luxury that we can no longer afford.  We must stand together and support science.

The application of science to policy is not a partisan issue. Anti-science agendas and policies have been advanced by politicians on both sides of the aisle, and they harm everyone — without exception. Science should neither serve special interests nor be rejected based on personal convictions. At its core, science is a tool for seeking answers.  It can and should influence policy and guide our long-term decision-making.

Need inspiration?

Pink Out the State Capitol!

static1-squarespace-1Sacramento readers, I hope you’ll join me at the California State Capitol (West Steps) from 11:30AM – 1PM tomorrow (January 17th!) Planned Parenthood supporters will be rallying to protect the funding that is so important to the health care of women. Dress in the warmest, pinkest clothes you have and stand with Planned Parenthood to send a message to California legislators. See you there!

2017-PinkOut-SavetheDate-full-width-02.png

What I Did on My Winter Vacation

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We took a month off from book club which meant I took a month off from blogging (on this site, anyway). I actually took a month and a week as there was no post last week. I regret nothing.

So Readers, what did you miss? Well, over break I got as far as page 475 in the biography of Hamilton that we are reading this month – check back on Friday for more about that! I also got the CD for Christmas and am now pretty throughly obsessed. It gives me some comfort to know that politics were messed up back in the day as well as now. The mind reels at the thought of Jefferson and Hamilton subtweeting about each other on Twitter, which you know they would have done.

I had a lot of doctor’s appointments and tests and things and as a result I have a Fitbit and a new exercise bike and a tendency to bitch about kale.

I started doing some form of activism every day. Sometimes I write a letter or make a call. Sometimes I sign a petition. I cannot tell a lie – my favorite days are petition days because I can knock out a week’s worth of actions in about 15 minutes. On days when I do something very time-consuming, like a rally or protest of march, I let that action count for several days. I’ve so far taken some kind of action about captive elephants, climate change, various political appointments, human rights, reproductive freedom, and our local mall. I knew I was getting a good head of steam when I put my senators’ phone numbers in my phone contacts so I could stop looking them up every week.

I watched a lot of Lost, a show I used to be obsessed with. Season One still holds up as fabulous. Sayid is still my sweetie-kins. Shannon is still The Worst.

Also, I slept a lot. My health issues being what they are, my rules are sleep, exercise, and eat healthy, in that order, and THEN write. The exception was, of course, the week of Christmas during which I ate piles and piles of cookies while sitting on my butt. It was great.

So Dear Readers – how was YOUR December? Ready for 2017? To the barricades!

 

Water as Muse: My Latest Gig With Sacramento Public Library

mcclatchy_library_500x323_img_0605Sacramento peeps, I will be speaking at McClatchy Library this Sunday (October 23, 2016) at 1PM on the topic of water and Californian Literature. I’m excited to be part of a series sponsored by the library: Sacramento 95H20. Here’s a full list of speakers and dates:

Sacramento 95H2O: 

A Series on Water and What it Means to Sacramentans

 

Water as Muse: 

 

Sunday, October 23 at 1:00 pm. Writer Carrie Sessarego presents “Flowing over Golden Pages: The Role of Water in California Literature.” McClatchy Library.

 

Water as Life:

 

Sunday, November 13 at 1:00 pm. Julian Fulton, PhD, Assistant Professor of Environmental Science at Sacramento State University presents “The Future of California Water: The Quest for Sustainability in an Age of Climate Change.” Central Library.

 

Water as Energy:

 

Sunday, November 20 at 1:00 pm. Environmental historian Scott Sault presents “Sacramento and Hydro-Electric Power: How the Lights went on in the River City.” Central Library.

 

Water as Dialogue:

 

Sunday, December 4 at 3:00 pm. Keith Coolidge of the Delta Stewardship Council presents “The Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta: Its History, its Problems, what’s Currently Going on and Why, and Ideas for Fixing it.” Central Library.

 

Water as History:

 

Sunday, December 11 at 1:00 at p.m. Social historian and geographer Andrew McLeod presents “Confluence: The Natural History of Where the Sacramento and American Rivers Meet.” McClatchy Library.

 

My Con-Volution Schedule!

cropped-2016ConvoAgeOfMonsters_withDates-100pxI’m so happy to be retruning to Con-Volution: Age of Monsters! I have so many friends at Con-Volution that I’ve come to think of it as a family reunion.

Con-Volution is happening at the Hyatt Regency SFO from Sept 30 – Oct 2. Here’s my schedule:

It’s Shirley Been 100 Years

Friday 17:00 – 18:30, Boardroom V (Hyatt Regency SFO)

In December of this year, Shirley Jackson turns 100. Best known for her story “The Lottery” (1948), Jackson has been read by teenagers across the world. But her novels The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle endure almost as strongly. What is Jackson’s legacy to modern horror? What women are carrying her torch in today’s horror market?

Carrie Sessarego, Lillian Csernica (M)

Our Favorite Fangs- Vampires and Werewolves

Friday 21:00 – 22:30, SandPebble D (Hyatt Regency SFO)

A look at our favorite toothy monsters in fiction and media.

Shael Hawman, Fred Wiehe, Horror Author (M), Carrie Sessarego, Zoë Moss, Lex Rudd

Making Monsters: For the Love of Frankenstein

Saturday 8PM – 9:30PM, Sandpebble C

Discussing Mary Shelley, and why her monster continues to have such a strong place in genre stories through the ages

Sacramento Public Library Presents: To Kill a Mockingbird

To_Kill_a_Mockingbird (1)I’m so excited to be part of Sacramento Public Library’s presentation on To Kill a Mockingbird. This presentation will include live music, performances, and a panel discussion with Sacramento Theater Company Director Buddy Butler. The presentation is happening at Central Library at 1PM on Sunday September 18.

You can find more information about the event here.

And for more information about Sacramento Theater Company’s adaptation of the novel, look here!