Rumors, my ass

I’m not even sure how to start this post. I’m full of all the rage, and it burns hotter every time RJ Cavender opens his fucking trap. But here goes. I’ll try to be succinct.

First, why am I posting? Because yesterday I learned that another of my Seton Hill tribe was duped by RJ and paid for edits that have not been returned. Now, our SHU group is pretty open. Word tends to gets around, especially within a genre group, but most folks knew nothing about this bullshit until RJ publicly flounced on FB. And nobody’s going to know unless we go public. If I’m blacklisted, fine. I don’t want to be affiliated with anyone who’d side with an unethical fuckstick (and allegedly worse) like RJ.

I am one of the people who bought an edit package from RJ. Unlike most, I sat on my package, with his blessing, until I had something ready for his all-knowing eye*. But when that time came, I had already been hearing about the lengthy wait times for those who’d given him their work to edit. I knew two people personally who waited for fucking ever, and they knew of others. So I never turned in my stuff, choosing instead to pull a wait-and-see. I’d submit when his queue had dwindled, so I wouldn’t have to put that work on hold for a year or two (or more).

That time never came. I bought that package in November 2013 for the Stanley retreat in 2014. This past October, I heard of more sad stories about his inability to come through on an edit, and I entertained the idea of asking for a refund. But I felt I couldn’t–he was apparently a Mover and Shaker™ in the industry, being the editor of Stoker-nominated anthos, balls-deep in HWA, and a very vocal publicist for his own brand. Also, he’d accepted a story of mine for his next anthology, and his behavior on Facebook suggested he wasn’t above yanking that opportunity from me and then putting me on full blast in front of the world. I have the privilege of being married to my very own sugardaddy, so while losing that $200 sucked gigantic balls, it wasn’t a world-ender. To protect my seedling career, I kept quiet.

Until I heard about how bad this editing problem was. And how he’d taken money from people who couldn’t afford to lose it.

When I found out how many people I’d met at the Stanley Retreat and how many other people I didn’t even know had given him hundreds** to edit shit he apparently hadn’t even touched yet, I was furious. So I lodged a complaint with the HWA grievance committee, making it plain I’d never used my opportunity to edit (and thereby sparing myself the angst of waiting two years to see what incredible genius he’d deign to offer wee little me). Others who had given him their work also lodged complaints.

This? This is called a fact. Now go read this update–the first one, from April 30–from RJ about the retreat every one of the guests of honor backed out of and note every fucking word.

Here’s the graphic that was used to pimp the guests of honor, bee tee dubs:


And now, let’s begin.

Despite recent online rumors to the contrary, The Stanley Hotel Writers Retreat 2016 is still very much taking place this October. There has been a major change and drop-out with our Guest of Honor line-up, something that has always been subject to change (we had three Guest of Honor cancellations last year, no Guests of Honor at all in 2014) but that doesn’t mean that the hotel or myself are willing to cancel this event. We hope you’ll still join us in October.

Mm hmm. First, the 2014 retreat was never advertised with guests of honor, at least not that I ever saw in the year I was registered. Nobody was waiting for any to show. We expected to go, write, commune, hunt ghosts, enjoy the Colorado air, and go home. We got…mostly that. There was little writing, what with no space for such activity unless you found a table in the coffee shop, but we had fun. It was fun enough that several of us came back in 2015. And we didn’t pay egregiously more in 2015 for the joy of having guests of honor. As I recall, we had the same number as expected, except I think for one that wasn’t filled at the last minute.

This year is totally different. This year, no fewer than 13 guests of honor have been advertised, including Chuck Palahniuk. Y’know. The guy who wrote Fight Club, which became a movie starring Brad Pitt and Edward Fucking Norton. The whole reason people pay that kind of money is for the chance to meet and rub elbows with people like Chuck, Heather Graham, Michael Bailey, Lisa Morton, etc. The Stanley ’16 folk didn’t shell out $250 to show up to a weekend of The RJ Show.

With the stank Cavender has unleashed upon himself between the editing bullshit, the “non-refundable” retreats, his refusal to address the grievance, his diva-like flouncing from HWA, and the multiple allegations of sexual assault, he’d be lucky to get any guests of honor at all. He went from thirteen (not fourteen, though I do like how he put himself on the guests of honor list–classy move, for sure) to zip, almost overnight. Now that his behavior has gone public, there are no last-minute fills happening for him unless he cons or blackmails someone into it. And for this, his lucky retreaters got to shovel out $250. Mind you, that $250 doesn’t cover hotel, any meals, any events at all unless there are guests of honor to offer organized chat sessions.

PS, Cavender, your grammar skillz need some work. Maybe take a class on self-editing?

If you’ve cancelled your reservations at the hotel, call back and they’ll be glad to have you re-register. But know that these Guest of Honor cancellations were something wholly unexpected and out of my control. And registration for the event is non-refundable (as stated in the campaign information when you registered) though you can transfer registration to a different event, to a different guest for registration, or I’d be glad to trade-in for editing services of equal value.

Is this a fucking joke? A contract is thusly: you provide shit for money, but if the shit you provide isn’t the shit advertised or a suitable substitution, refunds are gonna fucking happen or else. What he sold was a retreat with thirteen awesome guests of honor, talented women and men we’d all love to meet. What he’s offering now is a retreat with no guests of honor. Oh, and if you shell out some more money, you can order up some edits that, based on his record, he probably won’t get around to.

Speaking of edits…

I think I blew a blood vessel in my head at that last comment. Editing services of equal value? OMG. I’m dying here of the lulz. Are these the same kind of edits he’s been stringing along for a year-and-a-half to two years now? Also, the one person I know of who’s seen edits returned recently felt they were so poorly done, a child could have offered better feedback.

It takes a giant sack to offer edits in exchange for the retreat fee. Giant, enormous sack.

If you have any projects still pending from me, contact me after May 15th if I haven’t sent it over to you by then. I’d be glad to square up with any authors who’d like to cash in their editing packets. If you’d like to have me edit a project for your 2016 editing packets, please have those sent to me by July 15th and I’ll have them finished by the time I see you in Colorado in October.

What is this fuckwittery? Let’s break it down, shall we?

  • He’s still soliciting business.
  • He hasn’t returned the edits he owes.
  • To my knowledge, he hasn’t addressed any of the grievances against him that led to his epic flounce from HWA.

Why the fuck the magical May 15 is a thing, I don’t know. It sure isn’t an editing deadline. There’s no way he’ll be able to finish all the work he owes in two weeks. I’m not saying he’s a lying pile of weasel shit, stuffed into a quilted-scrote sack and tossed in a bog. But I am saying he’s scored some magical fucking mushrooms if he believes this.

Any rumors you’ve read online are just that…rumors. What you’ve read about me isn’t true.

I’ll tell you what’s true: these aren’t rumors. His editing hijinks are NOT rumors. Not even close. We have proof. I can show you my own emails, including one from last summer when he solicited my business (apparently forgetting he already owed me 100 pages) and said he could make me a Stoker contender, a claim he apparently makes frequently. Nikki Hopeman can show you emails. Others can offer their own tales of woe with PayPal receipts and emails over an extended period as they tried to get their owed edits.

I’m making good on my promises to fulfill all editing projects I’ve taken on through my events. I’m also more than willing to take on projects you’ve been waiting to send me or ones rolled over from previous events. But you need to let me know what you’d like to do. So send me your requests/manuscripts after the specified dates, keep an eye on your inbox if I owe you an edit!

First, comma splice, my friend.

Second, fuck this bag of shriveled dicks. He is not making good on anything. If he were, there’d be friends in my group saying, “Wow! Awesome! I got my edits back after nineteen months.” Or maybe, “Was he sober when he did these? He keeps calling my main character Becky, but his name is Hans.” Or perhaps, “Wow! Best. Edits. Ever. Worth the wait!!!” Doubt that last one, but I guess miracles do happen.

Note also that he’s previously said (on FB, before he turned off all of his social media, tucked tail, and ran) he won’t offer refunds to anyone. He doesn’t have the money, he says, even as he’s been posting the ginormous haul of medical marijuana edibles and smokeables I’m preeetty sure his insurance doesn’t cover***. He had to hire a libel lawyer, he says, after posting a solicitation for editing work on the StokerCon FB group while active grievances regarding said editing work were still in play. These are all rumors, he says, and solicits more work via IndieGoGo while legal action has been taken against him.

In short, if you were a victim of RJ’s editorial antics, comment here anonymously or whatever. Raise your voice and make it clear these are not rumors and that the problem was egregious. I guarantee he never kept a record, or he’d be reaching out to all his victims now to ask if he can do right by them. He has no fucking clue who you are. He’ll know about me if he ever catches wind of this post, but I had a hole in my pocket, and all my fucks fell out. There might be one lodged in my sock, but I can’t be arsed to check.

Go public. Say something. We have resources. Writer Beware, Preditors and Editors, HWA’s Grievance Committee. Hell, after the last two The Horror Show podcasts with Briane Keene, it seems he and his apparently empty wallet of fucks might also lend a voice. There are people who can take information, consider your proof, and help bring bullshit like this to light. We don’t have to let scammers run off with hundreds or thousands from a dozen or more authors and then make announcements inviting more of the same to new victims. So let’s not, mkay?

Oh, and if you paid RJ online for services not rendered, you can make a complaint with the FBI here. It takes all of ten minutes unless you’re a wordy motherfucker like me.

And to close out, here’s HWA’s official response after the Cavender flounce, in case you didn’t see it:


* That’s a joke. He might have done some solid editing in the past, but…

** Since then, we’ve found a few who’ve paid over a thousand dollars.

*** I am absolutely not minimizing his illness, whatever that might be. I know chronic pain from RA, I know how exhausting it is, and I know I wouldn’t turn down some of that new engineered THC that doesn’t make you high but still helps pain. I’m also a fan of legalizing marijuana. That said, I’m still judging him after witnessing his use in Atlanta at WHC and at the Stanley. Fair or not, I’m totally judging.

Maybe horror should take a look at romance.

I’ve been around the writing block.

In 1994, after about five years of reading mostly romance (because the all-you-can-eat buffet of 80s horror bookshelves disappeared fast, but romance has maintained the buffet for years and years), I tried to write a romance novel. It didn’t go well, but I persisted. I found people online (back then, it was BBS and early forums, mostly), and they recommended I join RWA. So I did. And wow, what a fantastic place for writers of any genre. Their mission is, according to their website, “advancing the professional interests of career-focused romance writers through networking and advocacy.” Their tagline is “The Voice of Romance Writers.” And they mean it.

They offer a monthly journal with information for authors of any romance sub-genre, from beginner to multi-published. They have a huge network of chapters–both online special interest groups and IRL local chapters–where authors can network and learn about both the craft and the business of being a romance writer. Their national annual conference is ginormous. I want to say they cap registration at around 2,000, and I do mean cap it. Especially when it’s held in New York, it’s a hotbed of networking, industry information, craft work, meetings between editors and agents, meetings between industry pros and authors, pitch sessions (including the notorious slip-the-ms-under-the-bathroom-stall kind of pitch, unfortunately), and awards for both unpublished manuscripts and published novellas and novels. The unpublished manuscripts are the cream of the crop, and it’s typical for finalists and winners alike to get extra attention, and often a sale, due to the contest. The published novels and novellas are also the cream of the crop, and the awards ceremony has been likened to the Oscars of the romance genre–complete with red carpet entry.

But one of the biggest things RWA does is to advocate for romance authors. See, the entire organization is run by romance authors, and only romance authors can be members (published or not, doesn’t matter, but romance WRITING has to be your gig). If you’re an editor, too, well… Different bag of potatoes. You can still be a full member, unless you’re an acquiring editor. And then you’re relegated to an associate membership that has none of the major perks of membership. You can’t vote. You can’t run for office. You can’t be on the email loops and forums where writers go to network with each other and pass information and advice.

And that’s as it should be. Why? Well, when there’s an issue with a publisher (like this one or this one or this one), RWA has the weight and the right priorities to go after publishing companies and agencies that are fucking up writers’ chi.

I’ve been writing romance, mostly off but still lots of on, since ’94,  and I’ve got a release coming this year in that genre. But I’ve also been writing horror, and since joining HWA last year, I’ve seen stark differences in the ways each of these writing organizations is run. I hate to diss on HWA, but I think maybe it’s time they take a look at how RWA does it.

Now, before I go on, I do feel the need to say that not all is roses and chocolate at RWA. They do have their issues, and they do struggle to remain relevant in a marketplace that’s turning more and more to self-publishing and hybrids. Hell, they just recently apologized for the fucked up shit they were pulling a decade ago–basically, old dinosaurs flailing their tiny arms around because teh gayz–and like any field of dinosaurs, it takes a while to adjust to changes in the industry (see also: the unreasonable initial responses both to e-publishing and to self-publishing).

All this to say, there’s something really important buried in RWA that HWA could find useful: a focus on authors alone.

Don’t get me wrong. I love that horror as a whole is celebrated by HWA. Everything from poetry to flash fiction to movies and video games is given time and space, and I think that’s fantastic. But I also think that can still be done while closing down a safe space for horror writers. After all, it’s the Horror Writers Association, not the Horror Lovers Association, right?

What if membership were closed down, and acquiring editors couldn’t hold elected office or man committees? What if they were welcomed into the fold but separated from the writing membership? What if the focus of HWA became advocating for the professional interests of professional horror writers–those writers who are pursuing horror writing, whether that’s flash fiction or screenplays or video games?

Welp, maybe badly behaved long-time members within the non-writing industry (read: acquiring editors, agents, etc.) might not last long in the organization or in the industry. Maybe the writers of the organization–and some outside–might be protected from predatory practices. Why do they stick around now? Because fear.

When you’re a newblet writer, like me despite my laps around the block, or are still buzzing the lower end of the midlist, you feel the pressure of flying under the radar. If you rub an industry heavyweight the wrong way, and that heavyweight carries weight inside of your writing organization as well as outside of it, you could be squashed. Buh-bye career, right? Or that’s the fear, at least, and valid or not, it’s a real concern that stifles reporting and passively encourages bad behavior.

Obviously, there’s been a small brouhaha within HWA this past week, and reading all the posts, this issue has really struck me as important. Whether the allegations being made now are true or not doesn’t matter. The fact is, some of the allegations are old. Really old. Like, abysmally old. And the people who are speaking up often claim fear of reporting sooner, especially around the more egregious allegations, because if there had been retaliation for lodging formal complaints, it could potentially kill a career before it even got started. It seems like the only reason some are speaking up now is because of safety in the number of people voicing their concerns and complaints. Hell, some of the problems were reported back when they happened, but I have to wonder whether the reports were glossed over or ignored because of the same issue with industry clout even among more seasoned members of the industry.

Some have made a comment that’s some variation on “how has this person gotten away with this stuff for so long?” Well, either everyone is lying and backdating their sob stories by a decade to make it harder to disprove. Or the answer is fear. The answer is that HWA, for whatever reason, gives space to industry professionals that should–for the sake of the writers they ought to be advocating for–be reserved for other writers. Maybe this is because there aren’t enough willing volunteers. Maybe it’s a relic of an older incarnation of the organization, and it’s hard to find people as qualified for these positions as the relic folk. Maybe it’s a matter of the rather incestuous nature of horror–tons of authors also edit, whether that’s anthologies or periodicals, meaning a pure writer with no acquisition ability is hard to come by. Their status as pure author could change with a single idea, a call for submissions, and a contract from a publisher.

Whatever the case, and whatever actually happened around the current brouhaha, it might behoove HWA to consider the effects of allowing industry professionals a lot of sway inside of the organization. Maybe without that conflict of interest, fear won’t keep writers from speaking out when their professional efforts are being undermined or threatened. Maybe HWA would be a force to be reckoned with, like RWA is for its authors.


#ListifyLife I Need a Dictionary

This week’s list is words I always spell wrong.


So many. Let us narrow it down for the sake of not boring the piss out of everyone.

  1. Embarrass. I always think bare-ass and drop one of the r’s.
  2. Camaraderie. I try to do a little ditty in my head (like M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I or M-I crooked letter, crooked letter, I, crooked letter, crooked letter, I, humpback, humpback, I), but I fail.
  3. Sergeant. I want so bad for it to be sargeant. But it’s not. *sadface*
  4. Dickbiscuit. Is it one word or two???
  5. Like, all the Hawaiian name places here. Well, a lot of them. I do know how to spell Kauapaani Street now, though! *self-high five*

Audiobooks are My God

I. Love. Audiobooks.

You’d have to be crazy not to. I mean, I really enjoying kicking back on the beach or on the couch or in the bed or on the can with a good book-book that I can read with my eyeballs. But sometimes you can’t do that without, you know, possibly killing yourself. Like walking. Or lifting. Or driving. Or chopping veggies. Sometimes, it’s nice to pop some earbuds in and listen to someone else read that book to you. You still get the same experience–some brilliant author’s words creating lovely images in your head and quickening your heartbeat with crazy-ass tension–but able to do something that is otherwise braindead or boring tasking.

However. I can’t listen to every genre. Some genres, I float away and start thinking of other things. It doesn’t matter how good the book is.

Historical romance is one of these. I love the genre. Can’t listen to it.

I can’t listen to epic fantasy. Tried. Failed.

I can’t listen to literary stuff. OMG. No. I will snooze out and crash my damned car.

I couldn’t listen to Fifty Shades of Grey. I tried because I wanted to know what all the excitement was about. But holy shit. Maybe it was the narrator and her obnoxious whine. Maybe it was the book, and no narrator could have made it palatable. But no. And hell, when he was all “you will call me Mr. Grey even though I’m stalking you and we’re drinking coffee like we’re about to be at least friends,” I was done. Cannot take assholery with an obnoxious narrator.

What I can listen to, all day, every day? Thrillers. Horror. Contemporary romance in the vein of Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Mysteries. Sci fi. UF. Mainstream fic. Even some non-fiction will get my jimmies.

I listened to Stephen King’s Under the Dome while driving through some backwoods of California on my way from Monterey to San Diego (and back again and then some more, but I digress), and every time I passed a county sign, I found myself bracing for impact against an invisible dome or having my car chopped in half by said dome. It was awesome.

I’m always open to suggestions! Know a good audiobook with a solid voice actor? Gimme! Suggest in comments. My Audible subscription renews in four days, and I have purchases to make! Know a book I should avoid that I might accidentally trip over? Let me know.

#ListifyLife Books!

This week’s list is books I’d like to live in for a while.



I could pick almost any romance novel and be pretty safe as far as fun and full of spitfire and win. But to make this interesting, let’s go with speculative worlds, shall we?

  1. Watchers by Dean Koontz. I want a talking dog. That is all.
  2. The Stand by Stephen King. I want to be inoculated first, though. Just sayin’. But how fun would it be to live in Boulder with a bunch of awesome people and then go toe to toe with the debbil? AWESOME.
  3. Ancillary Justice by Anne Leckie. No way I’d be there long enough to see all the things, but holy cow the world Leckie builds in her series is unbelievable.
  4. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. Because what a beautiful story.
  5. Inventing Memory by Anne Harris. I can’t say why I want to visit this world because reasons.
  6. I know she’s crazy as a bag of clown wigs, but Anne Rice’s vampire and witch worlds are so lush and sensual, I can’t help but want to take a quick trip…even if I have to pass through Crazytown to get there.

Did I miss some awesome worlds? Suggest something–I’m particularly interested in reading underrepresented voices in spec fic, so if you know a fantastic world written by a POC, trans, queer, Latvian wee person, etc., holler in the comments.


I’m a member of a planning and publishing group, and one of the amazing members, Roni Loren Griffin, came up with a springtime list challenge. Why? Because lists are god. Bow to the lists. Here’s volley the first:


Spring is…

  • kittens
  • goddamn finally fucking defrosting from the winter
  • why am I still so fucking cold?
  • when did I get fat?
  • why do I have so much shit in my house?
  • Summer’s coming

Tropity Tropes

When I edited in romance, we focused heavily on tropes for our short contemporary lines. Why? Because that’s what series romance readers buy.

But a couple years ago, I was in the audience during a Carina/Harlequin panel discussion, and Harlequin was trying to define its new non-Carina digital lines. They kept stressing these stories were all about tropes. Now, don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Harlequin kinda knows WTF is up with tropes and stuff, so I definitely listened when they spoke. The big difference between Carina and the HQN digital line was that Carina was not trope-heavy, and the digital line was. This was a line of demarcation for them, something important enough that they felt the need to separate and brand specifically.

After, I really started to think about that emphasis, and I came to the conclusion that they’re onto something. Tropes are important, yet outside of series romance, we really don’t give them a whole lot of credit. But we should.

Tropes are shorthand. In romance, they’re powerful shorthand because, with the requirements of the genre (two (usually) people overcome obstacles to fall in love and live happily ever after (or so)), you know exactly what kind of story you’re getting as soon as you see the tropes involved. And yet a romance is elevated when those tropes are given a new, fresh twist. For example, boardroom romance. We know the main characters are likely on opposite sides of the business table, and that each one’s goal means disaster for the other’s goal. We also know they’re going to find a way to both be successful, and in working together to make that happen, they find their way around whatever romantic conflicts kept them apart. By itself, this could be a fun story, especially with engaging characters and goals/conflicts that are particularly compelling.

But what if we throw in a sekrit baby trope, too? What if she’s a single mom, and he’s her babydaddy? That brings in new reader expectations that flip the boardroom romance on its head, introducing new layers to the conflict. A secret baby is shorthand for “hero finds out he’s a father, and that secret is a betrayal that plays the key role in their romantic conflict.” In addition, a conflict is often that the mother doesn’t want the father in the baby’s life. Complications arise, obvs, when he finds out about the wee sprog… ta da! What happens when they’re doing precursor dances to a custody battle during a hostile takeover of her family’s business by his big company?

So tropes are powerful stuff in romance. But they’re powerful in every genre. They telegraph to the reader what kind of book to expect. They give hints about the experience the reader is going to have. And in horror, the experience is just as important to reader enjoyment as it is in romance–in both genres, playing up the emotions for the reader is key.

Horror has a bunch of really awesome tropes of its own, from haunted house to demonic possession and monstrous womb to serial killer. Each one tells the reader what kind of experience she’ll have, and often the conflicts and character types are included in that experience. So what if, as in romance, those tropes were balls-first, pressed all sweaty-like up against the glass for readers to see? What happens with the books on the market that have obvious tropes? In reviews of tropey horror, I’ve seen both “this is derivative” to “genre-bending.” Why? In the former, the author didn’t really twist that trope. It’s just the vanilla form, delivered with a new set of characters or with a groovy setting the author thought might work well. In the latter, it’s because the author merged tropes, twisted a known trope, or perhaps even involved a trope from another genre.

Like Josh Malerman’s Bird Box. This book won awards and got buzz because it took a classic monster horror story and twisted it–the monster is only dangerous if you see it…maybe…probably. And Malerman added post-apocalyptic world to the monster tale. What do you get in a post-apocalypse? Diverse casts where personalities form the basis of internal and sometimes external conflicts. And boy howdy, does Malerman’s community throw wrenches into the tale. This story resonates because of the characters and the conflicts, but it grabs the reader’s interest and sucks her in because of the shorthand delivered by the tropes. The familiarity of the story lulls while the author sneaks up behind the reader and readies the garrote.

So while much of Genreville turns up their noses at tropes–just a fancy word for cliche, wot wot–I’d like to see more writers embrace those tropes and twist them for the reader with more intention. Feed your audience a hook, tease them by telegraphing expectations, entice them with the kind of story they think they’re going to get. And then garrote them with the twist. Tropes are only cliche when they don’t set up reader expectations or when they’re so overused and underdeveloped, the reader’s expectation–and experience–is *yawn*. Tropes are powerful, but fresh, twisty tropes are game changers. So why not use them?

Making Space for Writing

I have found it really difficult over the years to get my writing schedule back on track after a move. And since I’m attached to the Navy by way of a sailor, we move pretty frequently.

The worst part is getting to your new home, waiting for your crap to arrive, unpacking (kitchen and beds first, fill in the rest by necessity and ease of access), arranging and rearranging to get your old stuff to fit a new home, and then settling in. Somewhere in there, you have to make a space for your writing, and that’s where I really struggle.

First, I need physical space. I don’t work well in the house when people can interrupt me or sneak up on me, so I have to find a corner where I can set up my computer and all the implements I use to plan and take notes while I work. Usually, I will spend a lot of time in a new city at the Starbucks (white noise is awesome for me) to get my sea legs again, and eventually, I’ll stay home more.

Second, I need intellectual space. I used to be a paper planner girl, and then I got electronic, and now I’ve gone hybrid. I’ve found in the last several years that if I don’t write down and track my goals and my deadline dates, I don’t do as well. And I’ve found that if I try to rely only on a paper planner, I’ll forget I had that appointment at 2pm because I’m a dumbass like that.

I use a Hobonichi so I have an overview of a month (which I rarely look at), a week spread to give myself weekly goals and show more specific daily requirements I have to work around–for example, I homeschool since the public schools here in Hawaii suck saggy old-man sack–and a daily page where I can take notes, write daily goals and a to do list based off those goals, and jot reminders. I also have sticky notes on my daily page, which move around if my schedule just can’t take that sticky that day.

Last, I need the emotional space. This is the hardest and really took a hit while I put writing aside to edit. I kinda lost my mojo for a while, and then I was terrified that I’d lost any talent I’d gathered up over the years. All those doubts made it hard for me to sit down at the keyboard and produce. They made for a pretty fucking loud chorus of voices in my head, all telling me just how much I sucked and that I should go back to programming…if the industry would even have me anymore. Thanks, equal opportunity voices.

When you add a move into the mix here, that emotional space can be so hard to cultivate, too. After all, you’ve left everything familiar, you’re losing pieces of your writing area that really worked so well in that last spot, and you no longer have whatever social or writing circle of friends/support you had before. You are, once again, on your own in a very solitary job. It’s enough to drive you to obsessive Candy Crush. *ahem*

But the thing is, this can happen to any writer. Bumps happen. Life happens. You can be chugging along one day, and the next, you’re dealing with a chronic illness or a tragic loss or a friend in dire need of your energy and time. And those things have a nasty habit of chipping away at the space you made for writing. It’s so important to draw boundaries and maintain them, even if your boundaries mean sacrificing other parts of your life in order to accommodate your writing and the other one or two priorities you have. Without those boundaries, you have no space for writing, and without a space for writing, you will not write. That, my friends, is cockadoodie.

Identify your space. Build your space. Respect your space. Demand others respect your space.

And goddamnit, write.

Your TOC is bullshit, and you have mush-mouth.

A conversation on the vast interwebs yesterday really got my back up, and though I reached out for clarification on a comment I found reprehensible (TL;DR: an editor whined about inclusive TOCs in anthologies and then made derogatory comments about POC, LGBTQ, and Latvian little people), I didn’t spew my rage publicly. Two reasons:

  1. I was so angry, I knew I’d be incoherent and would not add value to the conversation…not that there was much at that point
  2. The editor is an industry heavyweight who can crush careers

On the first issue, I also know that I’m as white as white can be. I’m a woman, so I know what it’s like to lack privilege, but I’m white AF and cis, and I’ve lived het and been middle-class my whole life. I carry a metric shit-ton of privilege, and I’m wary of swinging that dick into a convo just because I’m an ally and an intersectional feminist. There’s nothing worse in these situations than accidentally cockslapping the ones you’re trying to stand behind.

But I am an ally, and as such, it’s my obligation to swing in if I can at least point out when the straight, white cisboy emperor’s clothes ghosted on out of here. We can and should use our privilege to call bullshit and make space for those lacking privilege. So for the second issue, I have this to say: if ever there was a pyre worthy of my still-budding career, this is it. This is where I call bullshit and make space for those with less privilege.

When an editor mush-mouths about inclusiveness not being their job, I call bullshit. It’s their job if they want it to be their job. If they don’t give two tiny fucks about their TOC showing off the wide range of awesome available in that genre, bully for them. But they serious for real need to be straight up about it and quit acting like it’s not a decision they made. Frankly, the fact that they protest so fucking much about this just shows that maybe they realize it’s a bigger deal than they’d considered, and wonder if maybe they’re wrong.

They aren’t necessarily wrong. They made a decision about their TOC. That’s their TOC, it’s their decision, and they can do whatever the hell they want. But I have my opinion about them as an editor based on that decision, and they can’t whine when others in the industry question their decision. So, dear editors, gird your loins and tell the truth: you don’t give two tiny fucks about inclusivity and will not discuss it. Then we’ll all know what’s up, and we’ll make our purchasing decisions accordingly.

As I said in the huge thread yesterday, I understand it’s hard to get subs from underrepresented voices sometimes. There’s a lot going against us: we’re a minority in the genre, we aren’t given the impression of inclusivity, we bump up against outright bigotry, our networks might be smaller thanks to the lack of inclusivity, etc. There are roadblocks, and yet with the birth of the interwebs lo these many years ago, we kind of lost those excuses, didn’t we? We can find underrepresented voices if we want to.

That is, if we’ve decided a varied TOC is important to us, we’ll find the voices we’d like to consider for that TOC. Oh yes, we will.

The heavyweight who made the completely inappropriate remarks wasn’t the only person pulling out some pretty outrageous statements in that conversation. His wife weighed in with how boring she found the whole discussion and then, though she claimed she didn’t mean it snidely, totally snidely asked another commenter if he had experience editing an antho. He did not.

But guess what, buttercup? I do.

Once upon a time, I was given the task of putting together two different anthologies–open call, no invites.

And do you know what I managed to do? I managed to find some really fucking awesome novellas for these anthos, and in them I included white, Asian, Black, male, female, straight, and LGBTQ authors. You know what else? It wasn’t fucking hard. I ranked the best stories and then, when it was a toss-up, looked at the voices of the authors. Is the main character POC or disabled or gay or otherwise underrepresented in this genre? Or is the author part of an underrepresented demographic in the genre?

Here’s the weird fucking part. You ready? There was only one toss-up. The authors nailed it on quality and theme, and the underrepresented voices they brought were a happy bonus.

But you know why that happened? Because we explicitly stated in our call that we were open and inclusive. Any pairing in the romance. POC particularly of interest. Etc. We opened the doors, and the quality rushed in. WEIRD, RIGHT?

Totally fucking weird.

So this insistence that it’s <whine>too hard</whine> to make a TOC inclusive is bullshit. You take what you get, you go out and hunt for more if you can/want to/need to, and then you make decisions based on what you think are the most important factors in the final product. If all your subs are from cis white dudes, and you’re going to just go with it? Awesome. But it means you are not interested in boosting the overall quality of the genre by promoting new styles, stories, and perspectives. Or else it means you’re lazy and lost the two tiny fucks you already didn’t give. Or it means you only like one type of story/voice, which kinda says a lot right there, yeah?

If, however, you open the doors and show that you want variety, you might find that your TOC automagically has a veritable fucking rainbow of voices that in the end add incredible value to the genre and, especially, to your publication.

TL;DR at the end of the page: If you’re going to call inclusivity PC and imply minority voices are mutually exclusive of quality, you’re a bag of wiggly cocks. Go away, and take your good ol’ boys with you.