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Everett: Okay, Danika, first let me thank you for serving as the editor on my own novel which shall not be named—you did a great job, despite what reader Debbie said on Goodreads about there not being enough “pauses” in the story, which I suppose I should just be accountable and own as my personal failure, I mean honestly there was only so much you could do with that manuscript. I really appreciate your work!
Danika: It was a pleasure to work creatively with you, Ev. I really do enjoy story editing and wish I had more time for it. And to all possible future story editors of Ev’s out there – you would be lucky to work with someone as eager and amenable as he is. (The mutual admiration society now adjourns.)
E: So as a writer I on occasion have a story idea or a character or a scenario wander into my mind, and then an urge to explore it and write about it grows from there. Can you tell me how you came up with the idea for the faeries, or Narine, or the world they’re in?
D: Characters definitely wander, pop, float, push, tickle, and cajole their way in. I like to fall in love with characters, especially if I’m going to spend any amount of time with them. To fall in love with them they have to feel real, which to me means complex.
About 13 years ago (previous to the MG/YA fantasy explosion), I was assisting in a lovely shop full of things like incense, divination tools, Renaissance wear, dragon statues, crystal balls… At one point I realized I was surrounded by faeries. I blame it all on them, because I suddenly had the urge to write a quest story featuring faeries. But I didn’t want a Tinkerbell story. I wanted the faeries to be as complex as humans are. I wanted them to be believable.
I admit it, I don’t really care for testosterone. Oh, I like the secondary sex characteristics and all, though my beard twelve years into this whole exploration of identity is still sparse and a bit laughable. But I don’t care for the skittishness that comes with taking T on a regular basis, even if it is preferable to the monthly bouts of increasingly despondent depression that I had on estrogen. I can get okay with a stable mood, especially if I’m no longer paying for a Lexapro prescription, but in all honesty I’d prefer to need neither of the sex hormone alternatives. At 45 my ovaries are still cranking out a little bit of estrogren and progesterone, and I can tell when I’ve missed a T shot the same way I can tell between shades of blue on a topology map…because that’s how gradients work to show a shift from one degree to another.
It’s been an intense few months—the final gear up for Susanne’s tenure file to be delivered to the provost was drama-filled with the kind of pettiness people often ascribe to academics. Emile and Lucas adjusted to a half-day schedule at a local preschool after only knowing life with a part-time nanny in their own home (or hers). I waded full Monty into the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid Expansion at work, trying to tie down new revenue streams for my nonprofit, even as I made slow headway on two book projects for which I supposedly dedicate ten hours a week. We made the hugely intelligent decision to stay home for the holidays so that gave us something of a breather, since holiday air travel is excruciating and expensive. Then this winter an old friend, a genuine, snarky, brilliant, generous, curmudgeon with emotional walls thicker than whatever Trump wants to put between us and Mexico, killed herself. I thought I would be better at handling her death, but I’ve been more on an emotional edge than I’d like to be. And whether I stay on top of my T shots or not, I keep thinking about her and all of the emotions that an unexpected, intentional death bring up. Thanks a lot, sex hormones, for not giving me any relief. Read More…
Let’s say it occurs to you that you can’t make it in this world living as the sex you were born with. It could be a big revelation, or a series of small ones, or something else entirely, like a haunting doubt, for a few examples. And let’s presume that you need some degree of connection to other people (YMMV, I know), so at some point, if you decide to transition to somewhere else on the gender spectrum, you’ll probably come into contact with another human being who notices you look/sound/etc different than you were before, even though (and this is not always a given for people observing someone’s transition) you’re still the same you in like 97% of other aspects of your identity and corporealness.
Now you have to tell some stranger–either through the health care system, mental health system, or gray market drug retail system–that you want hormones.
And you have to consider how to deal with the following:
• changing your name(s)–which means getting a judge in a court to authorize this change, and running your name change in a newspaper so you can ensure people you’re not trying to get out of a debt
• changing your gender marker and name on your birth certificate–which means petitioning the vital statistics group in the state where you were born, which all have their own rules around when/how/if they’ll make such a change, and if you’ll get a “clean” new birth certificate or one that says “amended” (or if you’re from Ohio, for example, not getting a new BC at all for ANY reason, forever and ever amen) Read More…
“These towns are just gone, burned down,” said Nigerian Ahmed Zanna, a senator for Borno state where a Boku Haram attack killed more than 2,000 people “The whole area is covered in bodies.”
I wonder why Facebook didn’t make a feel-good support tint for people’s profile pictures around this torched Nigerian village. Read More…
We must protect our security, we rail as we launch wars on foreign soil, radicalizing people into creating whole new terrorist regimes bent on attacking us.
We must protect our families, we scream as we deport hundreds of thousands of parents, orphaning their kids by legal means or sending people to so-called home countries where they’ve never lived.
Our religious freedom is sacrosanct, we yell as we declare 1.5 billion human beings barbarians and terrorists simply for having a faith tradition we do not share.
We must build walls to shut them out, we shout with raised fists, all the while not noticing that it is us who have locked ourselves into our own awful contradictions and fear.
We were on day four of traveling south to Mobile, Eleanor’s hometown, and we weren’t making much progress with the horses. I knew Pie by herself would be faster than this, but Holiday was a bit older and we had a wagon full of our provisions to boot. And it seemed like every new mile was hotter and stickier. I was driving this portion, not a cloud in the sky to get between us and the sun, and the reins were tacky in my hands, leaving some of the tanning dye on my palms.
“This is gross,” I said to Lucas, who kept nodding off. How dare he try to get out of any of this.
“Mm? What’s gross?”
“This,” I said, waving one arm around in a big circle to mean: everything, dude.
“I think it’s pretty,” he said, and he closed his eyes and hunched himself up against the corner of the seat. As a final screw off to my comment, he pushed his black cowboy hat over his face.
I tried to appreciate the surroundings. Even though there was only one state between Eleanor’s state and ours, the landscape was pretty different. Here the trees were covered in thick green moss on one side, many of them tangled up in some kind of vine. The bird calls were different, too—I didn’t hear any morning doves, but I did spot a few woodpeckers. I was pretty sure we wouldn’t have any run-ins with wolves or coyotes, because all of the big predators seemed to have fled a while ago.
Pie suddenly went lame and stopped walking, snorting instead in a way that made me think he was in real pain. I tapped Lucas on his knee and hopped down to look at the horse. Read More…
People kill with guns they’ve stolen. People kill with guns they legally bought at a show with no background check. People kill with their parent’s legally purchased gun. People kill with guns after they went through a background check. People kill with guns given to them as presents. People kill with guns they’ve modified to shoot more and faster. People kill with guns using illegally large ammo clips. People kill with guns whether they are mentally ill or not, whether they have predetermined targets or not, whether they are familiar with the terrain or not, whether they have planned it for years or are shooting out of a temporary rage of emotion. People kill mothers with guns, they kill children in school, they kill elected officials, they kill people attending the movies, they kill people they believe have slighted them, they kill their classmates and their former workmates and they kill old women in their church basement. We pretend that policy can’t save us, but the truth is that policy has saved lives in other countries, and it would here, too.
There is no one safe from the muzzle of a gun in America, there is no good time to talk about the dead, because as soon as the NRA holds its mourning period for one shooting, another is just beginning. There are fifty-two weeks in a year on Earth, and we have just hosted our forty-fifth mass school shooting of 2015 (and 294th if you count all shootings involving four or more people). Please. If you want to see gun control, call your Congressperson today. And tomorrow. And Monday. Call them more than once. Call your Senators, both of them. Tell them: enough.
Here’s how to call your representative: http://www.house.gov/representatives/
Here’s how to call your senators: http://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/
Remember, to own a dog you have to register the animal, telling the public health department where the dog resides, and ensuring you give your pet an annual rabies vaccination (there are no personal belief exemptions with this one). When we think about cars, which also account for more than 30,000 deaths a year in the US, we have collectively taken steps to reduce those deaths:
- We regulate how cars are built, especially regarding safety design (seat belts, crash cages, placement of the gas tank, etc.)
- We regulate how cars are driven (speed limits, road curve design, right of way laws, traffic lights, etc.)
- We regulate how cars are maintained (inspection stations, emissions rules)
- We regulate liability and insurance in case of an accident
- We regulate who can drive cars (vision exams, age limits, license point systems, etc.)
- We register every car to an owner and an address. The DMV databases are commonly used in police investigations and by crediting agencies.
And consider that deaths are something that sometimes happens with vehicle use. Killing is not the primary purpose of a car. Killing is the primary purpose of a gun. Do guns seem over-regulated with regard to other human activity that the government is compelled to oversee? Your answer should be “no.” Guns are not regulated as much as driving is, or educating our children is, or how our food is grown, or how our health care system is managed/delivered, or how our corporations’s finances are managed. All of these regulations are put in place in order to minimize harm to people and the world we live in, but for some reason the NRA would have us believe that regulating guns—and only guns—is a danger to America itself.
I dream of a day when we don’t buy that lie anymore. Please, give your elected officials a call and tell them to stand up to the NRA.
Two toddlers, one with limbs like Plasticman, the other in the throes of potty training uncertainty, one partner with a busy academic career, the other attempting to navigate the policy morass that is post-Affordable Care Act implementation, a year into a house purchase that has seen no fewer than half a dozen small renovation/replacement projects, and it’s no wonder I am struggling to stay on top of my writing schedule. Even my weekday schedule itself is upside-down: now that both children are in preschool in the mornings, my late afternoon writing time has evaporated.
But here’s the thing about being a writer—I still find time to make words appear on the screen. I might not meet my goals in a given week, but writing is something of a flexible career. That story I wrote last year finally found a home over at Expanded Horizons. The back burner project left languishing in the recesses of my brain suddenly jumps forward and then I have an essay ready for a market. The followup to my memoir, a mess of incorrect chronology and meant-for-journal-only prose at long last feels emotionally available to me, so I can restructure it and add to the 44,000-word count. If I’m lucky my editor will tell me it’s not total trash when I eventually email it to her. And then I can get back into the sequel to my YA novel and finish the first draft (I’m at 52,000 words on that one so far).
If this looks like my work is all over the place, it is. I haven’t even mentioned the speculative piece I’m working on for an anthology submission, the pitch I’m trying to write to get a column in a market for the 2016 election, or the adult novel I’ve been working on for three years that needs a research grant so I can delve into an archive on the east coast. (Please, NEA, please.) I’ve missed a couple of deadlines in all of this chaos, but that’s okay—if I can’t make the submission date, I must not have been that interested.
Call it all Writing While Gemini.
It’s two days later since I started this blog post, and here I am at a desk with a vanilla latte inches away from my thirsty self, and a computer under my fingerprints that is beaming its 99% battery charge at me with something like glee. My four-hour writing window is here, so toodaloo, friends. My process is messy, encumbered with all kinds of nonsense and scatterbrainedness, but it works for me … mostly. Would that we all find our productive processes wherever they may be.
I started this blog, lovingly named Trans/Plant/Portation to refer to my gender identity, my then-imminent relocation to the other side of the continent, and the travelogue that I’d be writing about as we drove across country (and through part of Canada). I was volunteering to give up my day job, figuring that after fifteen pretty successful years in the workplace I’d land something new and interesting shortly after unpacking my last box in our new house. Instead I blew out my left ACL three weeks prior to our trip, watched the global credit economy implode, and didn’t find work for another two years.
Somehow, the blog that was supposed to be my fun-filled journal for friends turned into my stop gap, my virtual solace-finder—one of my only outlets for my extroverted personality. Susanne was worried for me, I could tell, but she had her own anxiety regarding acclimating to her new college environment. She had to start her faculty career and sort out the myriad characters at work. All of a sudden everyone we knew was Susanne’s coworker—fine, insofar as coworkers go, but not a group to whom one can express their concerns about their Very Recent Moving Experience.
Also, the new house reeked of cat urine, the walls bulged, and the upstairs tub occasionally leaked into the kitchen, via the spotted ceiling. Read More…
I think this is a cute story (as zombie stories go), but it’s never going to sell to a market, so I’m publishing it as part of a brand-spankin’ new, occasional series of Friday fiction pieces. I hope you enjoy reading it.
RUNNING FROM ZOMBIES
Ezra walks like a drunk sailor, or how I think a drunk sailor would walk, because like I have never seen one but I’ve heard that sailors drink a lot and drinking makes people stagger around the way my little brother does, but whatever, Ezra stumbles around the house all the time. Mostly he clings on to furniture if it’s near enough to cling to, but some of the stuff that Mom Two buys on her antiques shopping sprees is really tippy, so then I have to rush up to Ez and make sure that he doesn’t bonk his head or break some fancy Louis XIV chair in the process. It gets tiring, but the extra allowance is worth it. Plus he’s cute, and so when we’re out somewhere like the arcade or the hipster park where everyone beautiful plays lawn Frisbee or whatever the hell it is, people come up to us all agog and shit because Ezra is teetering around, saying “arararar gagagaga Amuhwee” which is some apparently adorable pronunciation of my name, Emily.
Yes, our parents gave their two children E names. It is so awesome being us, let me just say. Actually my original name was not Emily. I had to convince my parents that I was really a girl. It wasn’t easy to get them to believe me, but they’re more or less okay with it now, and I have learned all kinds of ways to be a more patient person. The universe gave me my parents so I would learn how to get what I need, and then it gave me Ezra so I would continue to work out my core muscles. Thanks, universe, for looking out for me.
The phone rings. It’s my friend Iggy who is also trans and a year younger than me. He left his extremely crappy high school because of constant bullying. Iggy is funny as hell lately because he finally started hormones after years on the blockers and now he texts me every time a new chin hair appears. Seriously. I have like 126 texts from him, all about freaking chin hair. Guys are so weird. Read More…