Storyfox update!

Updates should be coming more regularly, now that I have a month-ish reprieve from grad school. Here are a couple of ready-at-hand additions to tide the curious over until my next update, which will probably be substantial.

A couple notes:

–I’d like to do a number of interviews to accompany this project, so if there’s anyone out there who you’d like to see interviewed (or if you want to be interviewed) about fox media, let me know and I’ll see what I can do.
–Thanks go to Sonya Taaffe and Sharon Goetz; both tipped me off to a number of works this time around.
–I renamed the ‘Interdisciplinary’ section to ‘Transmedia.’ The music section needed some categorical stretching room, so it is now called ‘Audio.’
–An addition of note: I’m especially looking forward to exploring Wuxia the Fox, which looks to have a beguiling story, pleasing art, and an engrossing, inventive cross-discipline narrative framework. You can find it in the aforementioned Transmedia section.

Check out all of STORYFOX: a Database of Vulpine Science Fiction and Fantasy here!

As always, if you have anything to add, you can contact me here and on twitter.

Audio

P.L. Travers
~”The Fox at the Manger” (BBC Radio 4, 1990)

~”The Fox” (traditional ballad)

Comics/Graphic Novels

Minna Sundberg
~”A Redtail’s Dream” (2011-2013)

Film/Television

Volodymyr Kmetyk
~”Mykyta the Fox” (Pershyi Natsionalnyi)

Thomas Funck and Jan Gissberg
~”Kalle Stropp och Grodan Boll på svindlande äventyr” (Charlie Strapp and Froggy Ball Flying High) (Cinemation Industries, 1941)

Räven Boll
~”Made By Räven Boll ” (Räven Boll, 2014)

Children’s Books

P.L. Travers
~”The Fox at the Manger” (Norton, 1962)

Games and Video Games

Alana Joli Abbott
~”The Choice of Kung Fu” (Choice of Games, 2012)

BioWare
~”Jade Empire” (Microsoft Game Studios, 2005)

Nintendo EAD
~”Starfox” (Nintendo, 1993)
~”Ocarina of Time” (Nintendo, 1998)
~”Majora’s Mask” (Nintendo, 2000)

Novels

Garry Kilworth
~The Lantern Fox (Mammoth, 1998)
~Hunter’s Moon (The Foxes of Firstdark) (Unwin Hyman, 1989)

Poems

Lizzy Huitson
~”Rey” (Goblin Fruit, 2014)

Transmedia

Jonathan Bélisle
~”Wuxia the Fox” (2014)

card-swiping for diversity

I’m going to talk about publishing–specifically, my publisher, Sparkler Monthly. But first, I’m going to talk about apologies.

The word sorry leaves my mouth a lot. And yet, never often enough. Sometimes, it’s fear that stops me. Or ego. Usually ego, especially because the fear is often there because my ego is a coward (clarification: I am). But I try to keep my ego in tight-check, so I’m usually able to get the apology out. Sorry.

I’ve also had apologies made to me, and in both instances (as the giver and receiver of remorse), apologies can be genuine or they can clog themselves with inaction. Because apologies are half-assed when all you do is say sorry. You can look at me all frowny and penitent, with contrition bleeding sweet as liquified lollipops from your eyesockets, but if action doesn’t accompany your words, sorry sounds like an insult. Same goes for me: if I ever apologize and neglect to follow up, I am (again) sorry, I have failed and you now have permission to stuff my socks full of meal worms and snap my drum sticks and poke holes in my rain pants. I will be better. Do better.

Here are a couple guides to apologizing: Getting Called Out: How to Apologize and Apologies: What, When, and How.

This framework of inaction = questionable sincerity, and action = sincerity that might actually mean something can be applied elsewhere, too. For my purposes, I’m using it to talk about writing and publishing—specifically, women and diversity in writing and publishing. Other people have discussed it (eg: Malinda Lo, Kameron Hurley, and nattosoup), with more eloquence and intelligence than I will, but this is an important conversation. And a conversation is only a conversation if there’s some conversing occurring.

A piece of the dialogue: you can talk all you want about diversity in publishing and narratives, but true support is action. I can say I support diverse authors all I want, but if I go out and spend all my (paltry) allotment for book purchases on Scott Lynch and George RR Martin, then I have failed. I mean, I fucking love Scott Lynch (GRRM I enjoy, but not to the same extent), but I love Aliette de Bodard and Ann Leckie just as much, so wouldn’t it make just a little sense for me to swipe my card just as often (if not more) for them?

I’m not saying don’t ever give a straight white cis male your money ever again, the end. I’m saying that if you believe in something, act on it. Give women your money, prove we have value, that we sell. Which, yeah, is objectifying as hel and a really terrible way to frame this, BUT. In many ways, this is how worth is established. With money. You want more diverse writers, stories, characters, settings? Buy it ALL. Everything you claim keeps you grinning and thrilling and screaming in biblioporno bliss? Let it feed upon the belly of your bank account. (This is, also and by the way, a reminder to myself.)

As I said earlier, I’m just pissing at the mouth, basically regurgitating what my betters have said, so here’s my personal spin on it:

I have a serialized novel running in Sparkler Monthly.   (It’s called Skyglass, and is about sex, cyber- elves, rock ‘n’ roll, and murderous firecats). Sparkler Monthly is a multimedia publisher of comics, prose and audio dramas written from the female gaze, with diverse, ensnaring casts: people of color, a wide breadth of sexualities, fluid genders. This is quirky and not normal, because what is normal, what is expected, is the male gaze, is lack of diversity, and to have someone out there giving us great stories that aren’t cemented into that default? It’s vital.

But Sparkler is only just entering their second year and if they want to see a third year (and beyond), they need the support of everyone who says they support this kind of thing. (That’s you, by the way.) To keep stable, they need 2000 subscribers. Right now they have 142. They’re still small, and relatively unknown, but they deserve to be known. Their stories deserve to be read, and listened to. They deserve, and need, your support.

I admit: I have a stake in this. Multiple stakes, actually:

    1. Sparkler Monthly gives me money, because I give them words. It’s a good arrangement, and worthwhile for us both, I like to think.
    2. They publish really addictive stories, really important stories because they feature strong, diverse, female characters (and male characters, as well as those who don’t strictly adhere to that binary). And let me be clear: when I say strong I don’t intend ‘strong’ to only mean brawny-but-still-beautiful, kick-ass women. When I say strong, I mean nuanced, and potent. And deep. Women who get to be full characters. Which leads me to my last stake (and look! I could almost raise a tent with all these stakes…)
    3. Me. The third stake is me, because I’m female, and I get to see myself in the stories they publish. I’m not wallpaper, or a bed-prop, or a convenient orifice. I am a necessary, narrative creature with lungs and teeth and heart and spine, and I want more. So much more.

I know I’m not the only who wants all this. I know I’m not the only one who wants to do something. So consider a membership to Sparkler Monthly. Read up on their membership drive, and all of its excellent tiers. If you’re lacking funds, try their sampler issue, which is free to download. Also, their submissions are currently open, so if you’re looking to get published (or if you’re a voice actor), go send them something. (Something good, preferably.)

There’s continuing the conversation–and then there’s engaging and leveling it up. Make art that matters, art that syncs with this necessary diversity, and keep talking. Do everything you can, keep on and keep on, and the storyworld will grow close and colossal.

the velocity of inwards

If you couldn’t tell from the exponential upspike in fanart production, I started rereading The Silmarillion last week. I’m participating in the Tolkienreadalong on tumblr (Team Angband ftw!), and it’s serving well to feed the fannish hunger I’ve had these past few months. But it’s also been a reminder: I like being wholehearted.  I consume consumption. I have this urge to find new obsessions or sustain old ones. But sometime I have to remember to hold back.

We’re only one week into The Silmarillion and won’t be finished till November, yet I’m already trying hard not to kick through the whole book this very instant. I want to pace myself, so I’m going slow.  What’s the point of participating in a readalong if you’re not actually going to read along? I’m in this for the neck-deep onslaught of intestinal Middle Earth  mayhem (and all the dark lords ever), but it’s the ‘along’ bit that I’m excited about. Being in the same ephemeral headspace as a couple thousand others, seeing the divergent and intersecting bookspawn people create via headcannons, meta, fanart/fic/vid (I mean hel, we already have a booty dancing Annatar–aka Sauron–video)–it’s a glorious leviathan overload of community, and I want to ride with it, not ahead of it.

I guess it’s as simple as I don’t want to be alone. Especially not with The Silmarillion. One, it’s vast, and sometimes silly and wonderful in its vastness, and these are not things that should be bibliomaniacally imbibed on one’s own. For example: it’s one thing to think to myself, Melkor is a metal god, and quite another to see a billion fanartists in pen-and-inked-accord with this thought. Also, it’s been years since I last read the book, but I have no doubt this reread will prove The Silmarillion to be problematic; I’ll catch some of the terribleness, but not all of it. In other words: bring on the meta-tons of destructive criticism. In the meantime, I’m going to teach myself how to slow down.

 

new poem up at strange horizons

new poem up at strange horizons

MY HAUNTING IS A LOAMY SKELETON…

or so begins my new poem, Ekphrastic 22/The Drowning Girl, now up at Strange Horizons, as part of their special speculative poetry issue.  It features a number of excellent poets, and poems (I recommend Jessy Randall’s Food Diary of Gark the Troll, and Rose Lemberg’s The Rotten Leaf Cantata).

When I first wrote Ekphrastic 22/The Drowning Girl, I said this about it:

…(an) ekphrasis made by the book I’m sharing my bed with now.  The Drowning Girl by Caitlín R. Kiernan.  It’s a haunting of a book; already it’s dredged up echoes in me.  I dreamt with the light on last night, and felt the resounding truths all day at work (two pieces of sausage in a cup of soup, a ribcage in what I wish were the wind, empty bowls, crab forks).  (Will write them down later.)

Anyway, many thanks to Sonya Taaffe for contacting me about this piece.  I’m glad it’s found a home outside my skull (both bloggish and bone).

Fandom’s OTP: fanfic/folklore

Is fanfic the new folklore?

That’s the thought that’s been pacing in my skull for seven days (and counting).  Ultimately, my answer is probably no.  But I can’t stop thinking about fic in relation to other things.  I’ve spent half a decade avoiding fan-communities/works, because as much as I love it all, getting involved is hugely invasive and hungry for attention–and then Mjolnir struck me in the ribcage, cracking it open for heart-access, and when I got up, it was with obsession.  The THOR/Norsk fandom wriggled in past my cracked ribs, crawled up my throat, and eventually settled in with my (very few) intellectual faculties.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a  lot about folklore, and literature, and the headstrong crossover between the  two, mythpunk*.  With the appearance of an old obsession (fanfic/art),  all these electrochemical signals naturally collided with all the force of mid-Ginnungagap (am I giving myself too much credit?  I am.),  and I began noting the similarities between fanfiction and folklore.

(Warning: most of this is brain-vomit.  I’m just letting my thoughts dance about unchecked.)

Obviously, there’s a lot of fic that spins around rewriting lore, replacing traditional characters with, say, Sirius Black and Remus Lupin; tweaking gender roles;  contorting tropes to better fit plotlines and character arcs; and, of course, the addition of lots (and LOTS) of sex (not that folklore shies from fucking–it just tends to be more graphic and long-winded in fanfic).  This use of lore is especially prevalent in the THOR fandom–which is only to be expected, given the source material, though in this case, replacing the characters isn’t always necessary.  However, the re-imaginings are frequently slant, are often re-imaginings of re-imaginings, as a lot of fic  is based on the movies, which are based on the comics–etc, etc, you know what I mean; stories are reincarnations of stories are reincarnations of stories; it’s just the nature of the beast…

Anyway, my point is folklore can be like fanfiction: a retelling.

Call them tropes, stereotypes, fanon, canon, tale-types, or motifs plucked from the Aarne-Thompson Index–fanfiction, like folklore, is full of repetition, darkened mirrors, and doppelgangers.  Think of the endless pairings, the descriptions (hurt/comfort, angst, AU, PWP, etc)–they’re all filters, methods for us to pick and choose how we like to feel.  To find a new iteration of the familiar.  I often read fanfic for the experience, to get that certain clutching of the upper-chest and throat, to find an emotion catharsis, to experience the characters I obsess over, until they’re more, deeper, than obsessions–until they become human.

Perhaps that’s elevating fanfic too high.  But maybe not.  What do we seek in fanfic?  Humanity–a potent, emotive dose of humanity.  And isn’t folklore for learning about humanity, for feeling it like a punch to the gut?  The stories aren’t always right, sometimes they say wrong things, and in this way, reveal the many, amazingly snarly, nasty truths about the nature of human creatures–but all the repetition that occurs in lore, all the circling, all the  characters with news faces, but familiar hearts?  Sometimes, it’s all just the human-beast’s collective voice speaking to us.

So maybe folklore and fanfic are just two different voices speaking to, and of, the same spinal things in us.  Folklore’s a primal, bone-fed voice; fanfic is a spitfire tale-spinner that feasts on and subverts our memetic hearts.

*For the record, I don’t think mythpunk has much to do with the bridge between fanfic and folklore, as I don’t feel that bridge is particularly anarchic in nature.  But mythpunk’s been on my brain, so I mentioned it.  I think the reason it came to mind is that there may be a parallel relationship between mythpunk and myth-driven fanfic (mythfic?)…

once, a short story killed me

once, a short story killed me

I recently read two books that gently removed my brain, fiddled with it as softly as a piranha eating breakfast, and put it back in all reconfigured, chewed upon, and terrible.  The first  was At the Mouth of the River of Bees, by Kij Johnson.  The other was Catherynne Valente’s The Melancholy of Mechagirl.  Both short story collections, both heart-eaters.

Before this year, I wasn’t sure what I thought of short stories.  I knew I couldn’t write them, and wasn’t sure I liked reading them.    I certainly hadn’t read many of them.  But because my attempts at making them always churned out glittery, half-masticated beasts with broken legs, I knew it was time to get better.  This meant reading, because as a writer, reading is possibly the second most important thing to do (the first involves going outside and letting life punch you in the gut—again and again and again).

So I went to Clarkesworld.  I read some E. Lily Yu (who I love, and please, Ms. Yu, won’t you finish your novel so I can eat it?) and then listened to some more E. Lily Yu, while I was working on this piece (which explains why the elk in the drawing looks a little tragic).  But as much as I inhaled those pieces, short stories still weren’t utterly my thing.  So I decided to trick my self.  I got a couple collections, which are like novels-in-disguise (because when you sardine a bunch of stories between two bread-like covers, you get something that looks pretty much like a book).  I began with Wonders of the Invisible World, because this review said it wasn’t going to be “like consuming a box of crackers.”  And it was right!  The stories in this book are not crackers.  Or at least, they aren’t saltines.  They’re more like pita chips–far more delicious, but still missing something (hummus, obviously).

The next collection I read was At the Mouth of the River of Bees.  It contains The Man who Bridged the Mist, which won the 2012 Hugo Award for best novella.  Whatever your thoughts on the Hugos, this probably means it may have been pretty good.   At the moment, I don’t feel like commenting on the Hugos (just don’t want to dive into that particular bag of slugs just this moment), but the story is most definitely good, and most definitely deserving.

What happened after Bees was an accident.  I never meant to buy Catherynne Valente’s The Melancholy of Mechagirl–though I desperately wanted to (after all, it in contains my favorite poem ever in print form).  But then I was writing this paper about myth and story and hearts and robots–and suddenly, this book became very necessary.  So I bought it, because I had a reasonable excuse (wanting something so badly I found a way to trick myself–again–into getting it).

At this point, you might want to know more about the piranhas and brain-eating I mentioned earlier.    It’s this: because of these two books, I love short stories so hard right now.  I’m learning so much about form, and what a short story can be, sometimes I can hear my brain clanking around in my skull it’s still so shock-frozen (the piranhas obviously have ice-picks for teeth).

Now for the funny thing: I just sold my first story, to Shimmer–a story I wrote months before reading these books.  So, while I’m not so confident I feel could free climb El Capitan, I’m feeling a bit better about my ability to write short pieces.  I have a number of new stories with sharper edges, that do stranger things with stronger grins, and soon they’ll be sent out–and if I’m lucky,  find homes.

The piranhas ate my brains, but they left a few scraps, a few loose teeth, and right now, I think I can feel it all regenerating.

Omphaloskepsis (on preparing a book for rejection)

I’ve written this quirky novel called Fable, and I’m going to submit it to this quirky publisher called Chromatic Press.  There.  I’ve found my beginning and end.  The middle, the spine connecting head to tail, is (as always) the hard part.  All those tricksy vertebrae…

Fable is the story of Moss, an anorexic, A-sexual drummer, who’s spinning  circles in the emotional wasteland left to him by his suicidal parents.  It’s also about Phoenix–half fire, half human pop artist extraordinaire–who’s come to earth to murder her father.  When she and Moss cross paths, they upend each others’ lives to the point of no return.

So, the spine: what comes between  writing a novel, and sending it out  for rejection.  This is what Chromatic requires, and thus, it’s what must be done before I press send.

    1. Edit the hel out of it.  (More than I already have, which must mean I’m dealing with Dante’s Hell.  I’ve got eight levels to go.)
    2. Write a pitch.  (See above.)
    3. Outline the novel chapter-by-chapter.
    4. Polish my resume.

But this is all grubfood (even if it’s a tiny bit contextual and specific to Chromatic Press), things you know (or should know) already, even if you’re a writer who knows nothing.  So why blog this?

Mostly, I’m just working my finger jaws, trying to get all the shiit out of my system, so it’s gone before I start editing.  Because I’d rather my manuscript be free of E coli and anything else that might scare off readers.

Only, I don’t want it to be clean.  Fable is quite dirty, actually: there’s sex, and you know, that stuff’s pretty nasty.  There’s also honesty (so much messier than lying), and people doing that stupid thing where they yell at each other over and over and over, because anger is the only way they can express their love for each other. (I say stupid, but there’s a certain logic to anger as an expression of love, the intensity and focus of it…)

Still, an E coli-free book is probably a better read than one that’s not.  Because no one likes fecal matter in their word-food.