How Feminism Has Changed My Brain

My baby, 18 months old, has started saying NO. Actually, he says “Uh-uh-uh,” and he shakes his head. Sometimes, if he doesn’t feel like shaking his head, he shakes his butt instead. It’s adorable. And also a little infuriating because he says it to almost everything, and if you ignore his stated preference, he wails like you just dropped him off the roof. (That’s hyperbole. I’ve never dropped him off the roof, honest. But I’ve seen how he wails when he falls on his face and I can extrapolate!)

And you know, it’s hard. Harder than it used to be, when I was young and innocent, because I want very much to bring up people who know how to listen when somebody else says, “No, stop.” And who believe it’s worth saying, “No!” when it needs to be said. And that starts with listening to them, as often as I can, and respecting them, as often as I can. Which is, let me tell you, damn hard. Because no, you CAN NOT run into traffic. No matter how hilarious you think it is. And yes, because you think it’s hilarious to run into traffic, sometimes you have to hold my hand. Or your brother’s hand. But fine, no, you don’t have to wear a shirt.

I can’t help but think that tomorrow’s change starts today, you know?


I was exploring Google Image Search without Safe Search turned on yesterday, for Reasons. (And if discussion of naughty pictures bothers you, perhaps you will want to skim to the next topic.) I wandered into sexy anime art. And I noticed something I’ve vaguely noticed before: You get two girls on the screen and they’re posing sexily, sort of making out, and they’re looking at the camera. They’re touching each other, but they’re posing for you.

When you get two boys on the screen, they’re touching each other (or sometimes not quite) and often they’re looking at each other. There’s emotion there. A relationship is implied.

Unless you’re searching for named couples, good luck finding a heterosexual pair. It’s even rarer luck finding one that’s interacting as equals.

I’ve never been much interested in yaoi or slash. But if you want sexy imagery between equals with emotion behind it, there’s not much else out there. I used to find sexy pictures of women just as hot as sexy pictures of men. I usually don’t, anymore


I grew up being told that we had Now Achieved Equality. Women had the vote, guys! Women could hold any job they wanted, nobody could stop them. And women weren’t drafted but that was good– the draft was terrible! And there weren’t a lot of women in many professions but there was always one or two (except for men’s professional sports, of course. But y’know, there are differences between males and females. We just want to be fair.) The opportunities were there now.

And I had trouble finding fantasy novels where the girls equaled the boys in role or number. Which bothered me a little, and I’ve written about before.

But equal, guys! And comments on your looks as you walked down the street was a compliment.  I was the kind of girl who would totally tell the boys I was with that I didn’t care if they objectified women because, you know, compliments. Flattery. Right? (Alas, I didn’t get much objectification that I noticed, even then.)

And it took me years and years and lots of native, confused frustration and even some identity confusion to start getting past that. To start even noticing that boys and girls were still being treated differently in hugely fundamental ways and it wasn’t fair or right to claim it was just ‘nature’ because I was, actually, a girl. I counted. I mattered. Or at least I should.

Here’s the weird thing I discovered: I think sexy pictures about girls making out are pretty hot, too. When the girls are interested in each other. When more is going on than posing for a man.  I notice how girls and boys are treated differently in naughty pictures.

I think a second badass girl on the movie poster really adds to the overall appeal. I notice when it’s just one.

I think I’ve always had good women friends, and I wonder why so few women in the books I read seem to. I notice.

I notice, and I can’t unsee it.  I notice and I know it doesn’t have to be that way and that it’s better when it’s not that way. It’s better in every way but the most shallow, most unthinking, habituated-response gut-reaction way.  Think enough with your brain and you start to see it.  And that’s what feminism did to my brain. It helped it learn new ways of seeing and new ways of thinking. And it’s not always comfortable, it’s not always convenient. But neither is letting my baby run around without a shirt, spilling juice all over himself.

Gotta start somewhere.


Rainbow Brite > Today’s Fantasy

Apropos of a Twitter conversation spawned by Kameron Hurley's post on MLP Fandom and what's happening to it. ( I wish to reveal my secret shrine to Rainbow Brite. I know the name she had before she was Rainbow Brite, and the story of how she became Rainbow Brite is some straight-up epic stuff. I know about Moonglow and Stormy and their legit flying horses. I definitely wrote fanfiction.

(BTW, Google 'Rainbow Noir' someday. Not mine, still cool.)

We can talk about Care Bears, too. I'm pretty sure that the second Care Bear movie introduced me to the power of a redemption story and just how attractive a redeemed bad guy could be. And it did it well, guys. It didn't do the 'redeemed through death' bullshit, where the bad guy no longer has to deal with the consequences of what he did because hey he died heroically.

I went on a binge of refreshing my experiences with childhood entertainment some time ago and, yeah, some of it was schlock. But the stuff that has endured through reboot after reboot, through nostalgia toys, through transformation? It has great bones. And people? The girls' stuff was fantasy. It probably isn't a stretch to say that a childhood of Rainbow Brite and MLP and Care Bears contributed heavily to the generation of active women fantasy authors you have now. So if you like the accessible, powerful fantasy you can easily find now, thank MLP and Rainbow Brite and Care Bears.

(That's kind of like saying 'thank Mary Shelley for scifi', right? Who listens?)

Oh, and the original Transformers movie? That was kinda good, too. But everybody knows that. And of course, it had an all-star cast.


Ponies for Everyone: Scrubbing Women from My Little Pony Fandom

So I’ve been wanting to address the entrance of dudes into My Little Pony (MLP) fandom for awhile now. I’m a fan of lots more fans in a fandom, especially a traditionally female one. It’s awesome t…

About Autism and Intelligence

I have a little boy. He’s six years old and he’s autistic. But he’s maybe not what you think of when I say ‘autistic’. Or ‘six years old’, maybe not that either.

Autism is a funny thing, it’s something that isn’t very well understood and there are a lot of problems that are often comorbid with it to the extent that they’re considered part and parcel of autism by most people with limited experience with the disorder. For example, take sensory processing disorder. From what I understand, this makes sensory input problematic for kids. It can make a shirt actively painful. It can make it hard to look at faces, or sit in a loud classroom, or deal with bright lights.

I don’t have much experience with SPD, because Robin doesn’t have it. Robin doesn’t have fine motor problems, he can move around just fine (although he’s not very athletic), he rarely has massive meltdowns and he’s more insensitive than sensitive to sensory input. And he doesn’t have any intellectual delays, either. More about that later.

What Robin does have is a fundamental disinterest in other people as a concept.

Most people notice when other people around them do something as a group. If the crowd is moving one direction, they notice, they wonder what’s going on, maybe they go find out.  My 18 month old baby does this, but Robin never has. If somebody tells a person what they’re doing is having an impact on other people, they understand what that means. They may not care, but they understand.

Most people, when they’re babies, like to look at human faces. Robin liked to look at lights. Living things have never interested him very much. He loves his family, he loves to be around us, he loves our attention, but he’s only started noticing strangers exist in the last year or so. They’re interesting oddities to interrogate. And we’re people to help him manage his life.

So the challenges with Robin center around teaching him how to manage his own life, about teaching him to communicate (because he does have some verbal problems) and around teaching him about other people. About how to deal with them, talk to them, get along with them. But first– and this is where there’s the difference that contributed to a diagnosis– we have to teach him to care. We can’t explain that it hurts people to hit them so he shouldn’t do it. We can’t explain that other people don’t like it, so he shouldn’t do it.  Any explanation that ends at ‘other people’ doesn’t actually end there.

It’s quite a lot of work, really. But he’s delayed, not disabled. He’s learning, he’s developing some of this stuff that his brother has at 18 months. His brother actually helps in a way; sibling rivalry is a wonderful thing. I’m pretty sure he’s going to grow up to be as kind and aware as I can teach him to be.

Now, look and see. Look how easily I talk about Robin’s autism. He has problems, we work on them, I think they’re beatable with enough time and patience and attention.

But look back up at where I say that Robin doesn’t have an intellectual delay. I’ll show off art and programs he does but it’s not something I’m ever comfortable talking about directly. Kevin is much better than I am at talking about it. You see, Robin is very, very bright. I often downplay it in face to face conversations, because what’s the point of talking about it? They never hear what I’m trying to say. He is both extremely bright, and autistic. Not an Aspy, that diagnosis is for highly verbal kids with no language delay. He talks, but not easily. He’s never been verbose.

It’s hard to talk about Robin’s intelligence because… let me see how to put this…. Intelligence is a virtue in our society. To many people, intelligence is the virtue. And there’s a bit of oneupsmanship that goes on there, especially among parents. Everybody says their kids are smart, and nobody believes anybody else’s kid is as smart as their parents think they are. I don’t want to engage in that. There’s no point.  I’m not comfortable enough with the subject. Or rather, I’m too aware, from too many angles, of the drawbacks of being so sharp you cut yourself.

Intelligence: it’s a two edged weapon. And it’s particularly vicious when wielded by somebody who is totally free of the spiderweb strands of social awareness that entangle most humans. He sees the loopholes in any instruction he dislikes, immediately, naturally. He works out the most direct path between “I want” and “I have” without any regard for other people. Sure, he can read big words and do multiplication and draw detailed world maps and shade spheres and name the capitals of all the states and draw fonts and… and… and… so what? The real issue here is that he’s going to be bored in school and because he’s autistic, he’s way behind on the ‘sit still and quiet because it’s what’s done socially’ front. Because he’s autistic, when a teacher talks to the class, he doesn’t realize she’s also talking to him.

I’m rambling. I’m thinking about his first grade and about how hard it is to convince people a kid is smart enough to be a problem, because as soon as a parent suggests their kid is smart, everybody else hears ‘brag brag brag’. About how good-intentioned people hear ‘autistic’ and think a quiet room and meltdown avoidance is the order of the day. How if he’s smart enough to read like a fourth grader, he’s smart enough to follow general instructions. Right? Right? Wrong… Because these things aren’t actually linked for him. He needs somebody to explain it, over and over again.

We’ve talked repeatedly with him about how he isn’t going to school to learn academics. He’s there to learn about people. And he understands… intellectually. He’s still learning about why it’s actually valuable, because he doesn’t feel it. And it’s slow going in for him, just like some kids can’t make letters into words, or numbers add up. (The joy many people feel in a social exchange, he feels with PATTERNS. Patterns! Wonderful patterns! And lights! And REALLY BIG THINGS! And patterns that mean things!) And of course the school has to be on board with the idea that a student may not need reading riting rithmatic but may very much need lots of guided practice and philosophical explanations about the value of kindness and social awareness. It’ll be exciting seeing how this year goes…

I’m intensely proud of my son. He’s learning the value of hard work despite his gifts. He tries very, very hard when he wants to. Sometimes he does astonishing things, and sometimes he takes the lazy way out and wants to be praised for it. He’s a kid. He’s not any more mischievous than any other six year old. He’s stubborn and inquisitive and sees no point in doing things he doesn’t understand. He’s not bad. He’s bright, and he’s autistic. Maybe they’re two halves of the same coin, for him, or maybe the intelligence gives him a flexibility that makes his autism less of a burden for him than it is for some other children. We’ll never know. It doesn’t really matter. In the end, he’s just Robin.


Annnd it’s official enough for Harlequin’s SOLD! blog:

Annnd it's official enough for Harlequin's SOLD! blog:

🙂 🙂 🙂

Second world fantasy primarily, with a romantic arc. More news as I move into revisions! (Right now I'm still focused on finishing Senyaza 3.)


Friday’s Acquisition Round-up for Harlequin Series in July 2013 | So You Think You Can Write Acquisitions

So in July 2013, the Harlequin series group made 92 acquisitions over 19 lines. Of course, our fabulous Marie Ferrarella was responsible for almost 15% of that! Yep, we went to contract for thirteen titles for the next year and a half (3 American Romance titles, 5 Romantic Suspense titles, …

“Pastoral, slice of life gaming,” you may be thinking. “Sounds dull!”

"Pastoral, slice of life gaming," you may be thinking. "Sounds dull!"

And you know, if all you want out of your gaming is tactical combat scenes, perhaps you're right.

But I went into Chuubo's a doubter. I, personally, like a touch of the epic and the tragic and the dramatic. I would never want to role-play My Neighbor Totoro.

And yet… And yet. Chuubo's is centered on slices of life in a setting where most of the universe has drowned and in response great powers have risen up to say, 'Not here!' and those great powers are people and you can be one of them. If desired, the slice of life can be slices of a life filled with terror and awe and yearning and passion. Your simple honest labor can be along the lines of redeeming a cosmic horror– and that can work! (Although at what price?)

You play myths and gods and children, almost entirely successfully holding the last bastion of reality against the tide of abstract chaos– but that bastion does have to be held. As Rook said once, "Things don't last forever on their own. They last if we fight." It's just the rules of engagement are less about being badass and more about simply being, as hard as you can. Less tactical fireballs, more tactical kisses.

(There are plenty of badasses.)

There's also, incidentally, a really strong narrative design system.

Anyhow, three days left. The campaign is plenty dramatic.

#blog   #rpg  

The Chuubo’s Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine RPG

The Chuubo’s Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine RPG is a progressive, warm-hearted diceless game for both adventure and slice-of-life play.

Fantastrix Coloring Book

Fantastrix Coloring Book

18 hours to go on my current favorite Kickstarter (sorry, Jenna!).
It's now up to 3 coloring books at the $12 and up level. That's 59 pieces of sophisticated colorable  line art. With a push in the next 18 hours, it could end up being 4 coloring books. So I am being a little pushy. 🙂

By the way, you can see a lot of the existing artwork that is hinted at in the excerpts by going to Ellen's gallery at, so if you've been hesitant due to not seeing enough of the art, there's that.

copying to my blog!


Fantastrix, A Coloring Book For (So-Called) Grown-ups

A gorgeous, complex coloring book… for grown-ups! The intricate pen and ink artwork of Ellen Million. Color at your own risk.

Here is a thing.

Here is a thing.

The other day, I read  a story making the rounds. British actress pretended to be the Queen to comfort a boy with Down's Syndrome who was dying of cancer. Much of the commentary was along the lines of how awesome Helen Mirren was for doing this.

I thought:
The world is evil.

But we have the ability to make it less so.

Go out, fight evil. You know how to do it. It's built into almost all of us. It doesn't take a sword, or a cape, just a heart. Just a moment.

Well, no, I lie, in the name of being encouraging. The world is evil. It is twisted. As Terry Pratchett said, it runs on suffering and it does not care. Iit is overwhelmingly large and we are very small.

But we care. We can make it less so. And there are so very many of us. A moment is a good place to start. And every moment is a victory.

(Thinking anything else is the evil speaking.)

And you've already given so many, maybe without even noticing. Well done, you. Keep up the good work. You make the world less evil.

#blog   #evil  

Sexism, Novels and Me

Sexism, Novels and Me

My thoughts are all jumbled up. And my old friends are going to think I have a chip on my shoulder (and maybe I do).

There's been a lot going around SFF blog communities about the ingrained sexism. I guess it's SFF's year for it. In the past it's been racism; it's been sexism in games (it's always sexism in games), it's rape culture, it's an election year.

This year: Publishing and sexism, extraspecial focus on SFF.

Yeah, it's a thing. So is racism. Blame the business, if you want. Blame the need to appeal to the most people to get the best profit margin, if you want.

And people are talking about it. They're talking about it and that's good.

But I hate that whenever a white man talks about racism or sexism or both, the conversation stops being about the problems and starts being about how awesome  that man is. Even if the post is perfectly fine, the comments– oh, the comments.  Thank you, thank you, great job, we need more men like you, oh thank you. This, this, I would have said this if I'd thought about it, this, thank you. You've nailed it. Congratulations.

(And I think: It's thanking somebody for announcing that it's bad to trip people.)

And my thoughts are all jumbled up. Because sexism is a thing. Sexism influences what people take seriously and what people dismiss. It influences what they think other people will want to read. It influences how they describe something. It influences how they interpret something.

And I'm happy anytime anybody exhorts others to rise above their biases.


But there's always a way out, you know? When readers, inspired by one of these conversations, swap the names of favorite women authors, I wonder about the authors who never get into the mainstream because they don't even make it past the agents. Because anywhere, any conversation, people will casually throw out the idea that anything actually good enough will be published (and published by the publishers they approve of).

After all, there are plenty of books published that buck the sexism status quo and they're all really good .

(But everybody knows that when the ladies make it past sexism they're the best of the best, right?)

I would like each of these bloggers who go post about Sexism! It's a Thing and We Should Stop It– I'd like them to find an author none of their readers have ever heard of, and I'd like them to fight sexism (or racism or whatever) by promoting an author who might have been overlooked by the mainstream of SFF publishers because of her gender (or her name or her race) or because her book doesn't conform to institutionalized genre gender standards. Yeah, there are women authors out there whose books pass the Bechdel Test. Find a new one, because there aren't enough.

And yeah, it might take a little more time and energy than an exhortation to the masses upon the 'ol blog platform. It's going to be putting their most precious commodity where their mouth is.

But they all seem so very genuine. I really think they can do this.