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Yes, You Can Say No to Your Editor(s)

So there’s been much hand-wringing lately in internet writing circles about getting experts in a particular lived experience to read your novel looking for ways you may have gotten said lived experience wrong. When we’re talking about someone checking your science fiction novel for math and physics mistakes, we call this an “expert” reader, but for lived experience, the term “sensitivity reader” is being bandied about, and receiving a lot of eye-rolling and generating a lot of (w) writer tears. No one did this when I said I had a doctor friend look over all the guts and gore in my God’s War series. Weirdly enough!

Listen. I’m going to tell you a secret, which you should already know if you’re a pro writer, but is especially useful for new writers to hear. Nobody tells you what to write in this business. They may say, “Hey, I’d like to see a space opera from you,” or “Hey, you know, the gay guy dies here and that’s not a great trope. Sure you want to do that?” but no one will make you change anything. I mean, if you really can’t come to an agreement, you can publish that shit up on Amazon tomorrow, easy peasy. I know writers who actually argue with their copyeditors in the manuscript comments, and this always makes me roll my eyes. Why are you arguing? You’re the author. It will say in your contract, if you and your agent are diligent, that no changes can me made to the manuscript which you don’t approve of. That’s a pretty standard clause that has been in all of my contracts. Now, if you’re like, “I totally want to load a bunch of typos in this book!” you could also, even, do that for stylistic reasons! I know, it’s amazing. One of the reasons I prefer writing novels to writing ad copy (tho the ad copy pays way better) is that I’m in charge of the novel writing. Nearly any other type of writing you do is subject to a million other people’s opinions. Everyone has to have their 2 cents. Screenwriters are often at the very bottom of the H-wood hierarchy. In ad writing, there are times I’ll see the copy exactly once – in my first draft – and by the time I see the final it’s been touched by so many different folks that it’s barely recognizable. Novel writing isn’t like that. You will get suggestions from editors, but it’s only that – suggestions. If you want to write cliched, shitty characters that make people upset because they perpetrate the sorts of dangerous stereotypes that can get them killed, you go right ahead! You own that. Have fun. Sleep well.

But don’t fucking complain when you get called out on it like you’re a clueless fuck when a bunch of people offered to help you.

There are times when I’ve chosen not to take editorial suggestions. I had an editor want to cut a consensual sex scene, and, in fact, a whole chapter that was my favorite chapter in the book. I just ignored those comments. My agent once told me “Empire Ascendant” was not a great title for the second book in my Worldbreaker Saga, and we should do something related to “Mirror” for all three books. I didn’t listen, and I regretted it as soon as the book came out, because no one can spell “Ascendant” and she was right: there were way too many other books with “Empire” in the title. But I made that choice and I owned it. Most recently, my editor for The Stars Are Legion suggested that I tone down some of the gore during a scene with a recycler monster in the belly of the world. I giggled and just deleted the comment. And lo: yes, I’ve had multiple people already who are like, “HOLY SHIT THAT IS GORY WTF IS THIS?” And I giggle similarly. He was right that it’s super gory, but that’s the way I wanted it. My agent and I sit down and plot out books all the time. Most of the time I take her suggestions. Sometimes I don’t! Because I’m the author, I write the worlds! Ultimately, I’m the one who is responsible for those words. I will get the praise and the heat. It’s like being the director of a big budget movie. Everything that’s brilliant and everything that’s fucked up will be attributed to you, so you better fight for what you want.

I have been called out for all sorts of problematic shit in my books, like this. I’ve had readers point out that I’m not doing a whole lot with gender in The Stars are Legion. That’s a fair thing to point out! While I had Plans, I ran up against a deadline wall, and I chose to kick the book out the door to keep the publication date instead of going back in to do more world building layering That was my choice, and I have to live with it.

Nobody can make you do anything in this business, really. I mean, the worst I’ve ever heard is an author yanking back his book because his editor was like, “This is not publishable” and yeah, you have to really have turned in shit to have that happen, or your editor has to be unhinged (which happens!) and even then, you usually get to keep some of the advance and… post it on Amazon! The only time I ever felt compelled to make any changes was when I was doing legal review for Geek Feminist Revolution with a lawyer who was like, “If we phrase it this way, we’re less likely to get sued for libel,” which sounded super reasonable to me! But even then: these were phrased, always, as suggestions.

The truth is you are never going to write the Perfect Book that will be Universally Loved by All. What you can do is work with experts and editors to get as close to writing the book you want to write as possible. That’s it. If your editor recommends a “sensitivity reader” you can be like, “HELL NO FUCK THAT I WILL WRITE THE UGLIEST RACIST TROPES I WANT” and they’ll be like… uhhhhh OK? Because hey, if you want to die on that hill, you go for it. And yes, sure, an early reader may be like, “Hey! I told this writer there were problems and they didn’t listen!” and share that with the world, the same way you shared your book with the world! That could also happen! And you know what? That isn’t censorship either. That’s people saying true things on the internet. Which happens rarely enough these days that we should just celebrate any sort of truth telling at all.

So, hey, is your book offensive? If you don’t care, don’t ask. But if you want to write a book that is as true to life as you can make it, why wouldn’t you call on experts to help you make it that way? This sounds like a gift to me, not a curse.

But maybe that’s just because I’m dedicated to being the very best writer I can be, writing the clearest and most deliberate prose possible. If I’m going to write something awful, I want to have done so deliberately, and I will own it (I have written awful things! I own them, for better or worse).

What are you trying to achieve?

 

Book Launch: THE STARS ARE LEGION

Hey hey it’s the standalone space opera with gooey organic worldships and warring matriarchies you’ve all been waiting! The Stars are Legion is out today in the US and UK/Commonwealth.

But don’t take my word for all this awesome!

Here’s what people are saying:

“Grabs you like a gravity well and won’t let go. This is a dark, haunting, recursive tale, unlike any other space opera with which you’re familiar. Discovering Kameron Hurley’s work is like finding a whole new galaxy, and she is the star at its center.”

Chuck Wendig, New York Times bestselling author of Star Wars: Aftermath

“With mind-bending betrayals, heart-wrenching loves, souls and bodies driven to frenetic motion by war and hope, The Stars are Legion is a profoundly moving tale of self-discovery and self-construction in a world as wondrously layered as its unforgettable protagonist.”

Ken Liu, author of The Grace of Kings

“Badass.”

John Scalzi

“The Stars Are Legion is poised to be Kameron Hurley’s mainstream breakthrough, but apparently no one told her. It’s unlike any space opera you’ve ever read—a bizarro blend of New Weird adventure, political thriller, and body horror; and an intimate examination of two deeply damaged women. It’s as visceral and violently angry as anything she’s ever written, a ragged scream from the heart of a broken world—but one not past mending, if there are people brave enough to build a better one.”

Joel Cunningham, Barnes and Noble SFF Review

“A visceral, optimistic mashup of new weird and grimdark science fiction that is a cracking good read. Hurley has really leveled up.”

—- MaryJo Schimelpfenig, Powell’s Books

And the media!

Washington Post “Best SF/F to read in February”

“Hurley’s take is one-of-a-kind: equal parts love story and revenge tale, mixed with adventure science fiction and body horror.”

Chicago Tribune “Kameron Hurley’s all-woman space opera leads our science-fiction roundup”

“the most unusual and powerfully disturbing space operas we’re likely to see this year.”

–Publishers Weekly STARRED review 
http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-4814-4793-5
“In a universe where the word for spaceship is the same as for world, two women struggle to escape a perpetual war in this dystopic yet hopeful space opera. Zan works to regain her memory of being the only survivor from a raid on a mystery ship, while stuck in a royal-court setting where she trusts no one but Jayd, her adoptive sister. Jayd, daughter and aide to the Lord Katazyrna, keeps her own secrets, including one that could turn Zan against her. Both are removed from their positions when the Katazyrna are ambushed by rivals, with Zan dropped down a recycler and Jayd taken as consort by the rival lord. Don’t be led astray by the gendered titles; this universe is populated entirely by women. Hugo-winner Hurley (Empire Ascendant) gives the reader little, with both protagonists unable or unwilling to explain much. As they encounter the surprising practices (including blood sacrifice, experimentation on live subjects, and hunting of genetic mutants) among the different layers of the world-ships, the reader shares their astonishment and anxiety. Hurley places herself squarely on the side of love and trust over hate and fear, even as she details how trust can be abused and love can be manipulated. She excels at keeping the reader involved and supportive of Zan and Jayd when they seem most lost, and even when they are most opposed to each other. This gripping book is both hard to read and easy to appreciate. 

–Kirkus  “February’s Must Reads in Science Fiction and Fantasy.”

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/features/februarys-must-read-science-fiction-and-fantasy/

“This is a space opera that makes readers rethink their default expectations.”

–Publishers Weekly RAN mention of “The Most Anticipated Novels of Spring 2017,” in Tipsheet Newsletter on 1/27

http://us1.campaign-archive2.com/?u=d684790bedf89afe76e7b9156&id=e8238b8f82&e=32def2663a

–Publishers Weekly “The Most Anticipated Novels of Spring 2017.” 1/25

“Hurley, who’s earned increasing acclaim for both her fiction and her essays, sets this intricate and morally complex novel in a universe of warring world ships populated entirely by women.”

–Kirkus
https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/kameron-hurley/the-stars-are-legion/

Publishers Weekly RAN “Spring 2017 Announcements: SF, Fantasy & Horror”also featuring cover photo 12/9 (S&S/FB)
http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/new-titles/adult-announcements/article/72243-spring-2017-announcements-sf-fantasy-horror.html
“Hurley, who’s earned increasing acclaim for both her fiction and her essays, sets this intricate and morally complex novel in a universe of warring world ships populated entirely by women.”

AND THE ONLINES!

–Barnes and Noble Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog  “Booksellers Picks,”

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/sci-fi-fantasy/bn-booksellers-picks-the-best-science-fiction-and-fantasy-books-of-february-2017/

“This is space opera like you’ve never seem it—angry, feminist, furiously inventive, and not a little frightening.”

–Barnes and Noble Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/sci-fi-fantasy/stars-legion-kameron-hurley-transforms-space-opera-scream-rage/

“This book is unlike any space opera I’ve ever read. I had no idea what to expect, page by page. It is a sweeping epic, monstrous in its intent, naked in its hopes, and devastating in its reveals.”

–Omnivoracious  “Weekend Reading”
http://www.omnivoracious.com/2017/01/weekend-reading-amazon-book-review-1.html
Adrian Liang: “The second book with a what-the-heck-is-going-on? vibe is Kameron Hurley’s The Stars Are Legion, an SF novel told mostly from the point of view of Zan, a warrior whose memory disappears every time she enters a worldship in an attempt to overthrow it. Zan wakes after her most recent attack in the middle of a space war, and the person who tells her to trust her is the one person she yearns to trust the most but knows she must not. Zan’s amnesia, worldships and space-faring vehicles that are organic rather than metal, and secrets layered upon secrets make this a mesmerizing read.”
–Barnes and Noble Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Blog  “The Science Fiction and Fantasy Books We Loved in October,’
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/sci-fi-fantasy/science-fiction-fantasy-books-loved-october/
Joel: “The Stars Are Legion is poised to be Kameron Hurley’s mainstream breakthrough, but apparently no one told her. It is unlike any space opera you’ve ever read—its story of two warring families seeking to control a galaxy patrolled by grotesque organic worldships is a bizarro blend of New Weird adventure, political thriller, and body horror; and an intimate examination of two deeply damaged women. It’s as visceral and violently angry as anything she’s ever written, a ragged scream from the heart of a broken world—but one not past mending, if there are people brave enough to build a better one. This book isn’t out until February; best start preparing yourself for it now.”
 
–Michael Patrick Hicks 
http://www.michaelpatrickhicks.com/blog/2017/1/6/review-the-stars-are-legion-by-kameron-hurley
“The world-building, though, is where The Stars Are Legion really shines. Hurley takes the literary technique of world-building up a notch by making actual world building a strong element of the plot itself.”

–Ann Leckie 
http://www.annleckie.com/2016/11/19/things-ive-read-lately/
“So, this is chock full of action and fights and battles and betrayals and political intrigue. And those world-ships? They are all biological. Nothing in this fleet is built, it’s all birthed, and there are tentacles and blood and mucous and body fluids everywhere. It’s kind of awesome fun. You should totally read it when it comes out. In, um, February of next year.”

–Mur Lafferty 
http://murverse.com/2016-reading/

–Helen Lowe
http://helenlowe.info/blog/2016/12/28/an-avid-reader-special-paul-weimers-five-most-anticipated-books-of-2017/

 —Tor.com

http://www.tor.com/sweepstakes/the-stars-are-legion-sweepstakes/

–Bustle  “The 17 Best Fiction Books Coming in February 2017.”

https://www.bustle.com/p/the-17-best-fiction-books-coming-in-february-2017-34006

“Violent and imaginative, The Stars Are Legion is exactly the book you’ve been craving.”

–i09 “Plan a Great Escape With All of the New Scifi and Fantasy Books in February,” o

http://io9.gizmodo.com/plan-a-great-escape-with-all-of-the-new-scifi-and-fanta-1791842017

–The Verge “There are more new science fiction and fantasy novels than you can handle this February,”

http://www.theverge.com/2017/2/1/14146360/sci-fi-fantasy-books-recommendations-february-2017

Tor.com “Fiction Affliction,”

http://www.tor.com/2017/01/31/fiction-affliction-february-releases-in-science-fiction-5/comment-page-1/
–AutoStradde  45 Queer and Feminist Books You Need to Read in Early 2017
https://www.autostraddle.com/winter-spring-2017-queer-feminist-books-365236/

–io9  “The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Books Coming in 2017”
http://io9.gizmodo.com/the-best-science-fiction-and-fantasy-books-coming-in-20-1790828758

–The Verge“33 Science Fiction and Fantasy Books That Everyone Will Be Talking About in 2017.” 
http://www.theverge.com/2017/1/5/13811144/sci-fi-fantasy-book-recommendations-2017

–Bookriot  “New Books for Winter 2017” list on 12/16
http://bookriot.com/2016/12/16/12-new-books-for-winter-2017/
“What makes epic space operas better? When they feature two kick-ass sisters determined to save their war-torn worlds in a universe populated entirely by women. While not for sensitive readers, this brutal story really packs a punch.”

–Girls In Capes 

http://girlsincapes.com/2017/02/03/starslegion-hurley/

Legion is a wonderful book, and I did enjoy it for the way it made me think about the world, but it’s not a book to read if you’re looking specifically for better and more diverse types of romances. If you’re not super interested in happy romances, this would be a perfectly fine book for you, but if any book epitomizes our Toxic Romance theme for this month, this one is it.

While I truly enjoyed The Stars Are Legion, it’s definitely not perfect for all readers. It’s a great science fiction read for fantasy-lovers and perfect for people who aren’t precisely squeamish. And, of course, avid Hurley fans will truly enjoy this book. 

Pop Culture Universe

http://pop-verse.com/2017/02/01/the-stars-are-legion-by-kameron-hurley/

“The Stars are Legion presents an epic war of families, generations, and worlds amongst an intriguingly unique fictional setting.”

Best Science Fiction Books to Read in February “Books to look out for in February”

http://bestsciencefictionbooks.com/blog/8-books-to-look-out-for-in-february/

–Grimdark 

https://grimdarkmagazine.com/blogs/news/review-of-the-stars-are-legion-by-kameron-hurley

“The story quickly takes off on a fast pace with plenty of action, conflict, fighting, gore, tension, deceit, revenge, political intrigue, monsters, moral ambiguity, and brilliantly vivid and original world-building that will excite even the most diehard grimdark sci-fi fan.”

–Bibliosanctum 

https://bibliosanctum.com/2017/01/30/excerpt-and-giveaway-the-stars-are-legion-by-kameron-hurley/
Notes: TS wrote to Stephenie about interest in an excerpt

–Fantasy Faction “Most Anticipated Fantasy Novels of 2017: Publisher’s Choice” http://fantasy-faction.com/2017/most-anticipated-fantasy-novels-of-2017-publishers-choice

 –The Illustrated Page 
https://theillustratedpage.wordpress.com/2017/01/24/review-of-the-stars-are-legion-by-kameron-hurley/
“The Stars Are Legion is quintessentially Kameron Hurley: violent and feminist. This stand alone science fiction novel is as dark as I’ve come to expect from Hurley, but it has an optimistic heart…The Stars Are Legion has one of the most creative science fiction settings I’ve ever read. ”

–S and F Reviews 
http://sfandfreviews.blogspot.com/2017/01/kameron-hurley-stars-are-legion.html
The Stars Are Legion is weird, strange, and horrifyingly wondrous. It asks a lot of big questions, and lets us try and find our own answers. Read this one – it’s smart, innovative and compelling in equal measure.”

–BlackGate 
https://www.blackgate.com/2017/01/18/future-treasures-the-stars-are-legion-by-kameron-hurley/

–Unbound Worlds “Top 10 Science Fiction Novels I Want Now.”
http://www.unboundworlds.com/2017/01/top-10-2017-science-fiction-novels-want-now/

–Nerds of A Feather  “New Books Spotlight,”
http://www.nerds-feather.com/2017/01/new-books-spotlight.html
Anything from Hurley is an insta-buy for me, and when I read the first chapter on Tor.com, I was hooked.I have been looking forward to this book since they first announced it. Saga Press is on fire with their line-ups.

–LGBTQ Reads “New releases February 2017,”

https://lgbtqreads.com/2017/02/02/new-releases-february-2017/
–Rinn Reads  “A Guide to 2017 releases,”

https://rinnreads.co.uk/2017/01/28/guide-2017-releases/
–Ageless Pages Reviews 

http://agelesspagesreviews.blogspot.com/2017/01/review-stars-are-legion-by-kameron.html

A unique and strange, fun book, I can say that The Stars Are Legion is definitely one I won’t forget.

–All About Books 
http://itsallaboutbooks.de/2017/01/review-the-stars-are-legion-by-kameron-hurley/
“Kameron Hurley’s The Stars Are Legion is a space opera like never seen before, putting weird on a whole new level, and featuring a fantastic cast of brutal, amazing women.”

–Dreaming About Other Worlds 
http://dreamingaboutotherworlds.blogspot.com/2017/01/follow-friday-287-is-shorthand-for.html

–Book Scrolling  The Most Anticipated Book Releases of 2017
http://www.bookscrolling.com/anticipated-book-releases-2017-aggregated-list/

–The Little Book Owl  Most Anticipated Books of 2017,”
https://thelittlebookowl.wordpress.com/2017/01/09/most-anticipated-books-2017/

–Virginia’s Bookblr  “LGBTQIA+ Books Coming Out This Year.”
http://virginiareads.tumblr.com/post/155490203407/lgbtqia-books-coming-out-in-2017

–Stories from the Shelf “January TBR”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=268&v=itSYvn8GNy0

–James Davis Nicoll
http://jamesdavisnicoll.com/review/seven-times-i-pierce-my-heart
“Very fast paced and impossible to put down.”

–Kalandi“Anticipated 2017 releases,”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=peb0jZdMNFw

–Shelf Inflicted 
http://www.shelfinflicted.com/2016/12/the-stars-are-legion-by-kameron-hurley.html
“.now….you hear that boom? thats Kameron Hurley, she just dropped the mic on scifi for 2017. No spoilers but this story is beautiful, brutal as fuck, giant space opera. Weird, with just touchstones to the world we know and massive in scope. It is how Science fiction SHOULD BE DONE. Show me new worlds and things I never seen, put the bizarre in my face and make me beg you for more.The bar has been raised, 2017…………you have been warned.Don’t request this ARC, come the release date, go throw money at your book seller, THIS is a winner.

–Bibliotropic  “Top Ten Books I’m looking foward to in 2017.”
https://bibliotropic.net/2016/12/22/top-10-books-im-looking-forward-to-in-2017/

–Bookstr “Best Books to Read This Winter Break.”
https://www.bookstr.com/article/best-books-to-read-this-winter-break/2911

–Little Book Owl RAN “TTT: Books I’m looking forward to For the first half of 2017.” on 12/13 (S&S/FB)
https://thelittlebookowl.wordpress.com/2016/12/13/ttt-books-im-looking-forward-to-for-the-first-half-of-2017/

–Lynn’s Book Blog  “Waiting on Wednesday: The Stars are Legion by Kameron Hurley #RRSciFiMonth”
https://lynns-books.com/2016/11/30/waiting-on-wednesday-the-stars-are-legion-by-kameron-hurley-rrscifimonth/
“ I haven’t read this author yet but this book sounds amazing and could be the perfect starting place!”

–All About Books “Sci-Fi Month 2016: Upcoming Releases”
http://itsallaboutbooks.de/2016/11/sci-fi-month-2016-upcoming-releases/
“Space opera + stunning cover = sold. Main character is a woman = much excitement. The wait for this one has already been so long (it was announced at the end of 2014!), I have a mighty need”

–Book Escapism  youtube video “Add to TBR”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=85&v=sRUuQ1RHCjE

–Books Bones and Buffy RAN “Tammy’s Top Ten Sci-Fi Books For 2017 – #RRSciFiMonth”
http://booksbonesbuffy.com/2016/11/10/tammys-top-ten-sci-fi-books-for-2017-rrscifimonth/
“[Hurley] is an amazing writer and I’d love to read her again. And this blurb from the publisher has hooked me: “In the tradition of The Fall of Hyperion and Dune.”

–Tenacious Reader RAN “Waiting on Wednesday – The Stars are Legion”
http://www.tenaciousreader.com/2016/05/18/waiting-on-wednesday-the-stars-are-legion/
“Because I enjoyed Mirror Empire and Dune, I figure I should give this one a shot as well!”

–New Dehli TV “Gadgets”  “Six Exciting SF Books Releasing in February 2017,” on 1/30

http://gadgets.ndtv.com/culture/features/six-exciting-science-fiction-books-releasing-in-february-2017-1653346

 

GO BUYS IT! YOU’LL LOVES IT! And even if you don’t… it sure will give you something to talk to folks about!

Now I’m off to go… uh, write another book. 

Books I’ve Pre-Ordered (& You Should Too)

The world is a shitshow, my friends, and we have lots of work to do (5calls.org can get you started). But all work and no escape will burn us out, and we’re on a long road. So let’s talk books. Pre-ordering books is always great, but now it’s even better, as when you pre-order you get little escapist surprises in the mail, regularly. And we all need those.

So here’s a look at the books that have intrigued me so much here in 2017 that I’ve already hit the buy button:

Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty (January 31)

A space adventure set on a lone ship where the clones of a murdered crew must uncover which of them is the murderer — before they kill again.

I mean, I’ve been waiting for this one since Lafferty sold it and told me the pitch. How can you put that down? I mean, you gotta know what happens next. And if you pre-order today, you wont’ have to wait long, because it’s out TOMORROW!~

Grab it, folks.

 

Amberlough By Lara Elena Donnelly  (Feb 7th)

Covert agent Cyril DePaul thinks he’s good at keeping secrets, especially from Aristide Makricosta. They suit each other: Aristide turns a blind eye to Cyril’s clandestine affairs, and Cyril keeps his lover’s moonlighting job as a smuggler under wraps. A debut spy thriller as a gay double-agent schemes to protect his smuggler lover during the rise of a fascist government coup. Trust no one with anything – especially in Amberlough City.

Been hearing a LOT about this one, and it looks simply luscious. It comes out the same day at The Stars are Legion which is… in one week. DEAR LORD. HOW WILL WE LIVE.

 

Kings of the Wyld by Nicolas Eames (Feb 21)

Clay Cooper and his band were once the best of the best, the most feared and renowned crew of mercenaries this side of the Heartwyld. Their glory days long past, the mercs have grown apart and grown old, fat, drunk, or a combination of the three. Then an ex-bandmate turns up at Clay’s door with a plea for help–the kind of mission that only the very brave or the very stupid would sign up for.  It’s time to get the band back together.

Something that looks a little light and fun, in an epic sword-slinging way. Now I need to write a gender flipped version.

 

American War: A Novel by Omar El Akkad (April 4)

Sarat Chestnut, born in Louisiana, is only six when the Second American Civil War breaks out in 2074. But even she knows that oil is outlawed, that Louisiana is half underwater, and that unmanned drones fill the sky. When her father is killed and her family is forced into Camp Patience for displaced persons, she begins to grow up shaped by her particular time and place. But not everyone at Camp Patience is who they claim to be. Eventually Sarat is befriended by a mysterious functionary, under whose influence she is turned into a deadly instrument of war.

How could I not pre-order this with a description like that? Even if “second American Civil War” is likely closer to 2020 on this timeline that 2074. I’m glad they got this out.

 

Borne: A Novel (April 25)

In Borne, a young woman named Rachel survives as a scavenger in a ruined city half destroyed by drought and conflict. The city is dangerous, littered with discarded experiments from the Company?a biotech firm now derelict?and punished by the unpredictable predations of a giant bear. Rachel ekes out an existence in the shelter of a run-down sanctuary she shares with her partner, Wick, who deals his own homegrown psychoactive biotech.

 

 

All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries) by [Wells, Martha]All Systems Red by March Wells (May 5th)

On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid ? a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is. But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.

Martha Wells is one of the most masterful and under-read worldspinners in the genre, and pretty much everything she writes is an auto-buy for me.

 

City of Miracles by Robert J. Bennett (May 7th)

There are some maybe spoilers in the copy of this one (read it just now and legit put my hand over my heart), so suffice to say: this is the third and final book in Bennett’s excellent Divine Cities trilogy. Having loved the other two, this was an easy pre-order decision.

 

 

 

The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden (June 13)

In South Africa, the future looks promising. Personal robots are making life easier for the working class. The government is harnessing renewable energy to provide infrastructure for the poor. And in the bustling coastal town of Port Elizabeth, the economy is booming thanks to the genetic engineering industry which has found a welcome home there. Yes—the days to come are looking very good for South Africans. That is, if they can survive the present challenges: A new hallucinogenic drug sweeping the country . . .An emerging AI uprising . . .

I bought this on the strength of the cover and blurb, but then also went and bought a collection of Drayden’s stories to make sure I liked her style. And lo, it was good, and I’m seriously looking forward to this one.

 

 

Spoonbenders by Daryl Gregory (June 27th)

A generations-spanning family of psychics–both blessed and burdened by their abilities–must use their powers to save themselves from the CIA, the local mafia, and a skeptic hell-bent on discrediting them in this hilarious, tender, magical novel about the invisible forces that bind us.

I got addicted to a show on Hulu called Shut Eye, which is about families of warring fortune tellers and psychics, one of whom actually gets real psychic powers. Really interested to check out this book from Gregory, which inspired a heated bidding war at publishing houses.

 

P.S. I’ve also read River of Teeth, and if I didn’t already own it, I’d be pre-ordering it. It’s a great read, which I blurbed, even!

Writing Income: What I Made in 2016

Hello, folks! It’s that time of year again, when I say: don’t quit your day job!

Below is a breakdown of how much money I made writing in 2016. This is a very ROUGH estimation (take note, IRS!) which I’ll be finalizing here soon, but this is fairly comprehensive.

Note that this does NOT include the income from my day job. If you wonder how I afford health insurance and convention traveling expenses and rent, it’s because I have a decent-paying day job. And this is why:

 

  $25,400 Royalties, foreign sales, advances, audio
  $11,100 Patreon      
  $1275 Magazine articles and columns 
  $630.51 Story sales and reprints   
  $196.62 Self-pub sales     
TOTAL

     $38,602

 

And here’s how that looks visually:

 

If we had no debt and some other way to get reliable health insurance, I could probably go full time. That was the hope before the government started to repeal the ACA, that I was about 3 years out from being able to become a full time writer and just live nimbly instead of traveling all the time. Realistically, though, this isn’t going to happen anymore. So I consider my writing a big part of my retirement income.

This is also a good reminder that your favorite writers are not rich celebrities. We’re just people who are hustling like you are. So do please remember that. And keep on hustling.

Also: don’t quit that day job, because this varies incredibly from year to year. It wasn’t that long ago when I cleared a whopping $7,000 as a writer. You just can’t rely on income that’s this variable.

Let’s Talk About Writing and Disappointment

There was a huge amount of buzz around the release of The Geek Feminist Revolution last year. More buzz than I’d seen for any book I’d ever written. People were telling me on Twitter that they’d bought three or four copies and were making all their friends read it. I heard from booksellers that the books were flying off the shelves. We went into a second printing almost immediately. I did a book signing in Chicago that sold a bunch of books. The reader response at BEA was surreal. It was magical.

This, I thought, is what it must feel like to have a book that’s about to hit it big. This was it. This was going to be the big one. It was going to take off. I gnawed on my nails and watched as big magazines picked up articles from it and it got reviewed favorably in The New York Times, and I waited for first week sales numbers.

I expected to see at least twice the number of first week sales for this book as I had for any previous book. The buzz alone was two or three times what I was used to. This had to be it….

But when the numbers came in, they weren’t twice what I usually did in week one. They were about the same as the first week numbers for The Mirror Empire.  And… that was…. fine. I mean, it would keep me getting book contracts.

But… it wasn’t a breakout. It was a good book, but It wasn’t a book that would change my life, financially.

Reader, I cried.

It’s been strange since then, because everywhere I go, people come up to me and congratulate me on the release of the book. It has the best reviews of any book I’ve ever written. People come up to me and burst into tears at the head of the signing line and thank me for writing it. It’s a transformative book for people. It’s a manifesto. It’s a book that’s even more relevant now after the election. It changes people’s lives. I’m very glad I wrote it, though it nearly broke me to do it.

But it’s not making money hand over fist, I’m not quitting my day job, and while yes, it’s selling steadily and well, this is not the breakout book I was tentatively expecting it to be (not this year, anyway). It will likely earn out by the end of this year, based on what I know (though we’ll see. I’ll get royalty statements soon). But it’s hard to say this out loud to people when they congratulate me about the book. Lots of people would love to have a book that’s sold as well as it has. But that’s the sixth book I’ve had in print, and you know, you get tired of the emotional rollercoaster in this business after so many years of it (only five years! But egads, I feel that I’ve lived a lifetime of publishing bullshit in that time).

I was thinking about this again because my agent noted that it was in June last year when I started to have trouble writing my next book, and needed to push out the deadline not long after. And you know: June was when I got my first week numbers for GFR. These things, I realized, were not coincidental. I took a lot of time off at the end of last year to regroup, physically and emotionally, after the letdown. Then the election happened, and we all lost a month to readjusting to the new reality.

It’s difficult to say these things out loud to new writers, that most of the books you write will mean a lot to some people, but that they won’t make you rich. They won’t even pay enough for food and health insurance. You will have to work two jobs, novels and day job, until you retire. And maybe even still then. We want to talk about the six or seven figure book deals, the breakout hits, the fairytale stories. But the majority of writers face only this: writing the next book and the next book and the next book, building an audience from scratch, from the ground up, hustling out a living just like everyone else does, cobbling together novel contracts, Patreon money, day jobs, and freelancing gigs.

Life is pain, princess, and publishing is just another part of life. There’s no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. No reward but the emotional squee of fans and the passionate fan letters. Those rewards will need to be enough, for me, for many of us, for a very long time.

I will not give up hope for the breakout. I mean, you just can’t. I’m barreling into my launch party month for The Stars are Legion gearing up like it’s going to be the next space thriller hit. You have to. I’m reminded of something a colleague once told me about creative work, which is that you must care intensely and personally about a thing and then somehow be able to let it go, and then do it again and again. Writing novels is like that. Believing every book is your best book, the book that will be read by millions (or at least hundreds of thousands!). You can’t give that up. It’s what drives you forward. And it’s how I plan all of my book launches.

Certainly, any of my backlist books could still breakout at any time, but I need to acknowledge the emotional cost of that rollercoaster of hope and despair. We are all of us just working to put food on the table and revolution in the mind, working, and working, until death or the apocalypse or both.

There’s nothing I’d rather be doing.

But sometimes it’s painful, princess.

2016: Awards Eligibility AKA What I Wrote This Year

Like many of you, I opened up my awards ballots for this year and promptly forget everything I’d read in 2016, and everything I’d written.

To assist you all (and me) in remembering what I wrote in 2016, here’s the roundup:

Best Series

In a shocking twist, File 770 says the Bel Dame Apocrypha/God’s War series is actually eligible in this weird category because a novella in the series, The Heart is Eaten Last, was published in 2016. It’s for reasons like this that I think the Best Series category is flawed, and I’m not sure it would be a good addition to the Hugo list. But hey, the Bel Dame Apocrypha/God’s War series is eligible. So if you loved it, put a ring on it, etc.

 

 

Best Novelette Eligible

Both of these were published on Patreon in 2016 as well as in their respective reprint markets, where you can read them free:

These other four are patron-only works that were published this year, but haven’t yet been reprinted, alas. If you’re a patron and you’ve read them, they’re eligible this year in the novelette category. If you haven’t read them, access is $1.

 

Best Novella Eligible

Again, this was published first last year on Patreon, and later in the year reprinted in Forever Magazine, so it’s eligible in the novella category:

 

 

 

Best Related Work Eligible

Due to a push in dates for The Stars are Legion from fall 2016 to February 7th, 2017, GFR is my only eligible book-length work this year. While some of these essays were published prior, there are 9 new essays included exclusive to the collection, which I think makes its eligible for this year.

 

Best Fancast Eligible

I have somehow become a regular guest on Ditch Diggers hosted by Mur Lafferty and Matt Wallace. I love this show to pieces, as it’s of great help not just to newer writers, but to intermediate and pro writers as well. We need more like it. Check it out if you haven’t already!

—————–

Now I am off to go and look at other people’s awards-eligibility posts so I can fill out all these ballots…

 

 

Christmas 2016 & Ruminations on the Future

I love Christmas. It’s my favorite holiday. I start listening to Christmas music in October. I decorate the house, whenever possible, the day after Thanksgiving (and only that late because my spouse insisted many years ago: No Decorations Until After Thanksgiving, which is fair). We like to get the tree the first week of December, so we can enjoy it through New Year’s week. It’s a lot of work to put up a tree that’s only up for a week.

But this year has been a tough one, as it has been for a lot of people. We both got sick just before Thanksgiving, and though we had a great trip out to see family and friends in Albuquerque, it meant it took us even longer to recover from being sick. Since this summer, my spouse has also been being treated for some health issues, which culminated in a lot of tests and doctor’s appointments and hospital visits in December (he is OK). Last week I realized I was just too tired to get a tree and decorate it this year, and neither of us had the energy to put up the Christmas lights. I managed to get up the Christmas village and hang some bulbs on the trees outside, but that was it.

We burned through all of our savings and too much credit earlier this year trying to save our dog, Drake, who finally died in July of an antibiotic-resistant staph infection. We had some checks we anticipated getting this month (including reimbursements from pet insurance) that haven’t arrived, so things are tight here, and it’s not the usual blow-out extravaganza of presents I like to do, but we do have cash flow, so it’s not like we’re poor, just… not the usual holiday. We cashed in our Chipotle Chiptopia reward of catering for 20 and ate that all last week because we were both too tired to cook and hey, it would save us on groceries! So that gives you an idea of our energy levels.

The exhaustion and political horror of the last couple of months can sometimes mask the fact that good things happened this year, too. The Geek Feminist Revolution came out in May (May! Feels like a lifetime ago, and a whole other world ago) and is selling OK. Reader reactions to that one have been amazing; it’s got the highest rating of any of my books on Goodreads. I also finished writing The Stars are Legion back in… March? And now that review copies have gone out, reader reactions are coming in, and it’s blowing people’s minds in just the right way (a lot of people didn’t believe it could possibly be a book with ALL WOMEN in it. Ha ha it’s a sci-fi world! There’s even a sci-fi reason! See, writers can do anything! Your own worldbuilding excuses are invalid!).

I continue to have a stable job that doesn’t eat my soul, provides health insurance for me and my spouse, and gives me the flexibility I need to stay sane. In 2016 and the years to come, this is pretty rare, and something to celebrate. Before the election my goal was to move to writing full time by the time I was forty. Now, without access to affordable health insurance through the ACA in the next few years, that’s not going to happen (“access” to health insurance is not “affordable” health insurance. I’m sure the new admin would be happy to let me pay $50k a year to get covered and call that “insurance access for everyone!”). The ACA was a cool dream. The dream is most likely over, so I’m adjusting my future goals accordingly.

As for my own health, a series of poor test results (increasing blood pressure, increased A1C, another weight jump) led my doctor to try a few different drugs this year to see if they could help. We seem to have hit on one that both helps my body process the insulin I have to inject for the rest of my life and reduces appetite dramatically. I no longer think about food all the time and I admit I keep wondering, “Is this how skinny people feel all the time?” After I dieted back in 2012 to drop the 30 lbs I gained after God’s War came out, my hunger came back with a raging vengeance, and it’s been nigh impossible to stop the uptick, to the point where I thought there was something seriously wrong with me, metabolically. Don’t crash diet, people. Seeing the scale number jump significantly backwards for the first time in many years, I find it ironic, once again, that weight gain or loss is still considered a moral matter in this country, like you’re somehow better if you can be thinner, when there are in fact all sorts of hidden bodily reasons that people stay thin or fat. Our Puritan idea that we must suffer hunger and toil, and that a slender body is the outward manifestation of this, is just bizarre. Let me tell you, with the raging hunger I’ve had for the last four years, it took some suffer and toil to be only this size. If this side effect to my meds continues, don’t think I’ve got some secret later this year when you see me and I’ve lost weight. There’s no secret. There’s no magic. It’s just that bodies are weird. I’m the same person at every weight. The dissonance I’ve felt inside my weirdly messed up body does bleed over into my fiction a lot. I am very aware of being a gooey sack of meat.

In other news, I’ve also joined the local YMCA, which is just $30 a month and which is just down the street from my day job, so I can swing by there a few times a week for some quick cardio (not suffering and toil. Quick cardio!). I’ve been writing a shitbrick of articles this year for the day job about health and wellness, and there are two things that all of the research agrees on: people who exercise 20 minutes a day and eat green leafy vegetables tend to live longer and in better health. Oh, and smoking is bad. But that should be a given, these days. That’s it. So I am getting back to moving again, for actual health as opposed to toil, and that should help solve the blood pressure issue, too. 2017 is no time to die of a heart attack. I mean, the Resistance will just be getting started…

As I look ahead to the next year, I see a lot of uncertainly, like many people. I have the final book due in my Worldbreaker Saga, The Broken Heavens, in April (wait until you see the cover! Squee!). I also have another stand-alone SF book due to Saga Press at the end of next year as well. Those are the last of my contracted books, so I’ll be working with my agent this year on a few other projects. We also have many other irons in the fire, some with the God’s War books/possible spin-offs, a possible story collection, and one pilot script project that’s spinning its wheels. We’ll see what happens.

My motto for this year and perhaps the next few is going to be “Survive.” That is my goal, really, to dig ourselves back out of dog medical debt, to write some great projects, to persevere, to survive. Thriving would be great! But sometimes you have to be OK with survival, and this year, of all years, I’m OK with survival. I admit this means I have no pithy hopeful statements about the future (though I find the idea that I’ll survive into the future pretty hopeful!). Instead, I have only the guarantee that I will do what I can to survive, and that I will stick it in here beside you as I always have.

As I’ve told some people, one of the tricks I’ve manufactured to get myself through the relenting badness that is the news these days (besides reducing time on Twitter) is to imagine myself looking back at this time from a point far in the future when things are much better. I had this striking dream of myself as an old woman on this timeline, living in an adobe house in the desert, opening the door to some young kids who’d brought copies of Geek Feminist Revolution and who thought I was some kind of ancient seer. They had come to talk about the past, about the world I lived in that spawned that book, and all the books that came before and after it.

That sort of dream may not seem very powerful to you, but to me it was. With my shitty health the last few years and all the political turmoil, I was honestly worried about my chances of making it to old age. That dream gave me the vision of some other timeline, a vision I could use to plot my way forward through the coming years, which may be rough in order to get me to wonderful. We all need a story to see us through the darkest times. Do you need a story of that hopeful future? Write yours, too, and cling to it tightly. We’ll need them.

Apocalypse Nation: Nowhere to Run

I once watched an episode of Doomsday Preppers in which the Preppers included two women who had type 1 diabetes. They talked about how they would keep their insulin cool in bags in streams. They never once addressed the fact that if society collapsed, even a stockpile of insulin wouldn’t be good for more than a year, maybe 18 months if you stretched it by using the less reliable expired stuff as long as possible.

Heading for the hills during violent political upheavals only works if you’re in good health and have someone with mad medical skills with you, and it means leaving everyone else down in the valley to die. Something as simple as an infected scratch can kill you. How long are your iodine pills and antibiotics going to last? The truth is that millions will die during the long collapse.

One of the things that always bothered me about the apocalypse scenarios is how they focused so hard on surviving. I mean, is all of society really gone, or just yours? And with 6 billion other people in the world, do you have a species imperative to survive, because really – life goes on. Ya’ll wonder why I like Russ’s We Who Are About To so much, and it’s this honest acknowledgement that becoming a broodmare to “save humanity” is a con. Survival isn’t everything.

I’ve been trying to figure out my options since Wednesday morning. Heading out into hill country is a great idea if you don’t actually need access to modern medecine. Canada may seem like a good option for now, but when fascism comes, it tends to swallow and swallow and swallow. Remember that we’re handing over the nuclear codes to a vindictive narcissist with sympathetic ties to Russia. I’ve been watching the media headspinning, telling us we should hope this guy is “successful” and I’m like – successful for who? Did you all forget the stuff he promised to do? Have you read his plan for his first 100 days? The willful way Americans are looking away from what somebody actually said he’d do, the things he campaigned and ran on, is bizarre. Ok, not bizarre, I admit, because I’ve seen it before in a lot of countries that find themselves with a crazy guy in power. “Maybe it won’t be so bad,” they all say, because they want life to go on as usual. But the changes are going to start happening very quickly now. The Obama years postponed our 80’s apocalypse future, but it’s here. Willfully trying to unsee it is just living in a fantasy novel. Now I’m watching a lot of fellow lefty folks eat each other over safety pins and whether or not Bernie would have won while a conman gives his children and business allies cabinet positions and is celebrated by the KKK – a guy who told people throughout his campaign that he was keeping an enemies list and who threatened to jail his opponent. Folks are talking about organizing for elections in two years and four years and I’m like, “You are very confident there will be elections.” You can try rewriting the story, folks, but it doesn’t change the fact that we’ve seen this road before. If we avoid it, great! I will happily be wrong. But I have made my peace with what’s coming. Spare us your “wait and see” and “maybe it’s not that bad.” Those empty platitudes help no one prepare. They lull them back to sleep.

Anyway, as I’ve said elsewhere, I’m done trying to convince people that yes, what you see is what you’re going to get. Smarter people than me, those who have studied fascist regimes in far greater depth, are giving the same warnings. In fact, have been giving the same warnings for a year. Like many, I didn’t listen, because I believed in America. And while it’s true that most Americans are still good – Hillary is set to win the popular vote by a million votes, millions of voters were suppressed by the dissolution of the Voting Rights Act, decades of Republican gerrymandering came home to roost, and there’s been interference from Russia related to this election the whole cycle – I’ve also studied South African history, and I know how brutally a white minority can rule over a majority.

And after examining all the options, I’ve come to realize that there is no running away from this. There is no “better place” in this global economy. Countries are shifting far-right faster than we can keep up, and with the US and Russia both moving together now, we’re looking at powers with huge numbers of nuclear weapons who will be spreading this agenda outward. There is no where to run that they cannot reach.

I stayed up watching the last two Hunger Games movies and realized the point at which things turn is when people realize the capital is going to kill them anyway. This is why I have reiterated and accepted early that this is the new normal, and that it’s following a typical fascist rise to power narrative. Because once you accept that you are among those on the chopping block, you realize you have nothing to lose. And it becomes easier to throw yourself into the fray as willing cannon fodder so the folks with the battering rams can come in behind you if you know you are going to die anyway.

And if you can’t run, and if, like me, you’re likely to die under this regime anyway…. you might as well stay and fight.

I have nothing to lose that isn’t already in jeopardy.

I Rebel

My grandmother was born and raised in Nancy, France. Germany invaded parts of northern and western France in May of 1940. This included my grandmother’s hometown of Nancy. Over the next four years, she would live under a nationalistic and antisemitic puppet government, the Vichy regime, which openly collaborated with the Germans. My great-grandfather, her father, was a member of the French Resistance, the Maquis, and spent a good chunk of time tortured by Gestapo. She remembers the Gestapo coming to her house, and I have used stories of those events to flesh out a lot of the war stories I write, including “The Women of Our Occupation.” I also relate a story here about her and her friends finding a severed foot in a Nazi boot, and note what the consequences could have been for that. My grandparents met during the war. He was an American GI of German descent. He spent a good chunk of his post-war time trucking out bodies from concentration camps.

I grew up knowing all about the very worst that people could do to other people, and also how it came about: in incremental shifts, in normalization of the outrageous, and then suddenly, all at once. I became fascinated by history, especially the history of resistance and revolution. I know too much about tyrants and dictators and the fear that fuels the minority who bolster their ascent to power.

Rebellion is in my blood.

I saw the distinct possibility of this regime change coming, but honestly believed we could preserve the path we’ve been on, the path toward that more hopeful future. Instead, we got close enough to see the glimmer of the light and then watch the darkness fall again. If you ever thought, “What does it look like when fascism comes home to roost?” Like, this is it.

The fascinating part has been watching all of the rationalizations and “Maybe it’s not that bad” and normalization of what is happening now in the wake of a self-identified rapist, racist, and narcissistic demagogue with confirmed ties to a Russian dictator being elected president of a country with more nuclear weapons than any other. I expect it was that way for France, too. “It’s not like we’re REALLY invaded by Germany! I mean, we have a government! It’s not THAT bad. I mean, we just need to give them the Jews and they’ll leave us alone. Ok, and the Roma. And the disabled. And the rebels. And our grandmothers who immigrated here and…. oh shit.”

Oh shit indeed.

We are going to hear a lot of rationalization over the coming days, months, years. The normalization of the things done and said by this regime is going to be fast and furious, because things are going to move so quickly that we won’t be able to keep up with everything. And you are going to hear, as things escalate, a lot of rationalizations. “Yes Muslims need to register but it’s not like they’re going to camps!” and “Yes all immigrants need to go to camps but at least they aren’t being murdered outright!” and “Yes they got rid of ACA but they will totally fix healthcare some other way” and “Yes abortion rights are gone but you can just go to Canada.”

You will hear this a lot.

It’s the same in every country. We rationalize because if we didn’t then we’d have to admit that we need to do something, and that we’ve made a mistake. A lot of voters for this regime, just like those who voted for Brexit, are working furiously to tell us things aren’t that bad and we aren’t giving it a chance when in fact from the very beginning this candidate has told us exactly what he is going to do and exactly what his vision for this country is. There will be no surprises or reversals. This is it. They have stated very clearly what they plan to do, and it will dismantle decades of progressive policy and human rights initiatives. It could also very well lead to the economic breakdown of this country.

I have a chronic illness, and I can tell you right now that as you are all bunkering down preparing for apocalypse, I simply don’t have that “Run away and live in the woods” option anymore. If inflation hits, healthcare regulations are lifted, and trade tariffs destroy access to my meds, I will die. There’s no “Maybe I can wait it out” or “This will be just like Fallout!”

A lot of us are going to die if this goes down the way they have stated they want it to go down.

I am one of them.

So this is very real for me.

Folks have been asking what to do besides despair. I have a solid narrative of rebellion to look back at. It helped me rally and get up Wednesday morning. I imagined my grandmother standing in the streets of France while the tanks rolled in. I imagined my great-grandfather risking torture and death because he knew what was right despite all the people around him saying it was going to be fine, that it would work out and there would totally be checks and balances and hey just give them the Jews or the Muslims or the immigrants…

You get up. You move. You rebel.

So start calling other people out on this. Yes, this means your families, too. Like many, I have demurred during family political squabbles, but we’re no longer talking about tax rates, we’re talking about people’s lives. The repeal of ACA will kill tens of thousands of people a year, and it’s already been stated as high on the list for repeal in January. It’s coming. Conversion therapy for LGBT folks is going to cause suicide rates to skyrocket. And the hate groups have legitimacy now. They will feel emboldened, and they will be attacking and killing people on the streets. This is not alarmist. It’s already happening. When you see members of the KKK out in their full hooded regalia celebrating the election of the new regime, well, you know what? It’s alarming. It’s fucking time to be alarmist. All you need to do to see what they want to do is to go to the regime’s website and look at their stated platform. Watch the recordings of what this guy has said. He told you exactly what he’s going to do. There are no surprises, and this is not hyperbole. This is me stating that they now have the power to act out all the things they intend to do, and as they know, it will be devastating for millions of Americans.

So here’s some stuff you can do:

  • First, protect yourself online and off. If you’re targeted by the actual government, this is moot, but my biggest concern on a day to day basis is the regime’s supporters. And all those hate groups and trolls are going to hit and hit hard in the coming months and years. Lock your shit down.
  • Second, if you see someone being harassed – especially if you’re white and male – step in and shut it down. Make it clear this is not OK. I have a healthy sense of “fuck you” and have been doing this myself for a decade now, but I know not everyone feels comfortable doing it. But the alternative is your silence, and silence says, “What I see happening is OK with me.” And it will embolden more attacks.
  • Third, if he wants to register Muslims? Then let’s ALL register as Muslims. They will have to take all of us.
  • Fourth, don’t become despondent. I promise, other countries have gone through things like this and survived. I have been thinking about my grandmother a lot. That said, yes, the danger here is real. Not just from the regime but from all the hate carried by the people who his win have legitimized. This is not a joke, it’s not funny, and it’s very real. Take it seriously. That’s not being alarmist: this shit IS alarming, and it’s going to get worse. So prepare yourself and your loved ones and look out for each other.
  • If you are someone who needs help, reach out now and connect with your allies immediately. Have an escape plan and know who to turn to if you are in trouble. If you are someone who can offer a bed to sleep in or a place to go for someone who’s likely to be targeted, raise your hand. We need to take care of each other.
  • Finally, if you choose to be loud, accept that bad things may happen to you. I’m well aware that depending on how bad this goes, I am toast. I also know that I can’t sleep at night just running away to Canada or hiding in my house and not speaking up in defense of others and myself. It’s safer to stay head down while other people suffer, and some of you may need to do that, and no one judges you for that. But understand the risks.

There’s going to be lots of people saying everything is fine, including, enragingly, the very Democrats who saw this for what it was too. They keep trying to treat this like a normal election. This is not normal.

Folks. It’s not fine. And you are not crazy for thinking it’s not fine.

This. Is. Not. Fine. 

Hold onto that, and get ready.

Epilogue: My Wish for You

This is excerpted from the epilogue to The Geek Feminist Revolution

My gift to you today:

——

My goal is to change the world. Change it into what, though? Into a better place, I’d hope. Into a place where we don’t have to fight as hard to be heard. Into a place where we have not equal opportunities, but true equality that lets us all start out our lives on the same footing. I want the world to be a demonstrably better place when I leave it than it was when I came into it. Not just for me, or for people like me, but for every one.

The truth is, though, that I don’t know how to do that. All I know how to do is write (and drink, to the limit my illness allows). I know how to persevere in the face of bullshit. I know how to not be afraid. I know how to live. Sometimes living, and speaking aloud, is the most subversive act one can manage.
That, perhaps, is enough for me. But is it enough for you?

I am getting older, and though some may scoff at that, the fact is that death and I have danced before, and though she did not win that time, each day I can hear her breathing in my ear, with every shot of medication I take and every low sugar reading I get while hiking out in the woods alone, and I am reminded that she will get me eventually, as she gets us all, because her dance card is long, and she is more persistent even than I.

I have no children, and no legacy but my work— and you.

I have the power to reach back to you long after I am dead, through these spidery marks on paper or pixels, and remind you that you have a voice, you have agency, and your voice is stronger and more powerful than you could ever imagine, and long after I am gone, you can pick up this beer beside me and carry on the work we are doing now, the work we have always been doing, the work we will always do, until the world looks the way we imagine it can be.

I am a grim optimist, and this is my hope for you: that you will be louder than me, and stronger than me, and more powerful than me, and that you will look back at me as a relic, a dinosaur, as the minor villain in your own story, the rock you pushed against in your own flight to fame, to notoriety, to revolution.

That is my wish for you.