14 Writers Who Rock

And who happen to be women.

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Huffington Post has an article about women who write scifi and fantasy and stand head and shoulders above all others. It’s not an exhaustive list, by any means, but it is a good place to start if you want to add to your list of great women writers.

I’m extremely pleased to see Nalo Hopkinson on the list. Her ‘Midnight Robber’ blew my mind when I first read it in school and I couldn’t understand, then or now, why it wasn’t required reading in our English classes. I haven’t been in a school in ages, so I’m hoping that has changed, but even if it hasn’t, here’s hoping it does eventually.

I have heard of Sophia Samatar, but my reading list is so far behind, it pains me to even look at it. At the moment, I’m reading Nnedi’s Who Fears Death and enjoying it, so at least there’s that.

Let me know who on the list is your favourite and why in the comment section.

Catch you on the flip-side!

We’re In The Army Now…

So last week, two women made history.

They graduated from the US Army’s Ranger School. Something that few men have ever accomplished.

These women did it. On their first try.

I’m excited about this mostly because of how they did it. They graduated with the top of their class, having endured every single thing the men around them did, and with glowing tributes from those who trained with them.

My favourite part of the article is when one of their fellow Rangers said ‘no more skepticism’. Sure, the men went in wondering how a woman would stand up to such brutal demands. But those ladies showed their true colours and all the heart in the world, and now they’re a proud part of a very big team. I mean, just look at this badassness:

<span class='image-component__caption' itemprop="caption"><span style="color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588); font-family: Georgia, Century, 'Times New Roman', serif; line-height: 27.6900005340576px; background-color: #ebeff2;">Capt. Kristen Griest (center) carrying a classmate during ranger school. </span></span>

And she’s not even sweating!

The world needs more of this. Men and women standing together, trusting in each other, respecting each other, without an unspoken ‘but’. We are the only species we know that we can relate to fully. Isn’t it time we came together and just let each other do what we want to do, without those boxes we came up with so long ago? Because it’s 2015, you know, and it’s about time the human race lived up to its full potential–for everyone.

Still, there’s a small part of me that selfishly enjoys this win as a woman who’s been told ‘you can’t’ an awful lot of times. So to 1st Lt. Haver and Capt. Griest (the badass in the photo), I just want to give you a high five and sing along…

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Now, let’s hope the army catches up to their astounding men and women and open up jobs and opportunities to women like these.

Up next…Navy Seals!

Go ahead. Doubt me. We love it when you say ‘can’t’.

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Stay thirsty, my friends!

201 And Counting…

I have discovered I now have 200 WordPress followers on my blog!

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Thank you, thank you. I appreciate the coloured paper.

I want to welcome the newbies–and those of you who have been here from the beginning–to the fun house and thank you all for including me in your day. I know I don’t usually address my followers, but you guys mean a lot to me. You keep me from talking to myself, after all.

I don’t want this to end up being too serious between us, but you should know…

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Oh, Benedict, so do I…

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Have a good weekend, see you Monday and remember to stay thirsty for life and good beer, my friends!

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The Tree Of 40 Fruits

This is amazing. An artist developed a tree that grows 40 different fruits.

The article talks about how he manages to do all this with a technique called chip grafting. And that’s not all. He plans to do it to many trees. He’s using resources that farmers think people don’t want to build something beautiful that provides food as well. I don’t know about you, but I’d love to try a yellow plum.

Here’s one of the many trees he’s planted:

And this is what he hopes they will look like when they’re all done growing:

Beautiful!

I hope Van Aken succeeds. We need new ways of thinking about nature, food and resources and this is a very clever way to address some very serious issues, using art.

Bravo, Van Aken! Bravo!

What Kind of Introvert Are You?

There’s a new paper out that discusses the possibility that there are really four types of introversion. Not only that, but people can have more than one kind of introversion. Not only is it an interesting take for understanding people, it might be relevant when it comes to building out characters past the cliches.

It’s something worth thinking about. And I took the quiz at the end and found that I’m almost evenly split among the various types, with a slight majority in ‘Thinking’.

I know there are people in my life who will be amazed it didn’t just spit out ‘Extrovert! Get thee gone!’

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Go ahead. Take the quiz. Let me know how it turned out in the comments.

The Best Human Being I Have Ever Known

Eight years ago this month, my grandmother passed away. She was the backbone of my family and an amazing, unapologetic, loving, straight-forward, maddeningly sharp-tongued, soft-hearted, funny, perceptive, hard-working, smart, self-assured, no-nonsense, contradiction of a woman. She was the strongest person I’ve ever known.

Lots of people think their grandmother was the best, but mine really was. I never called Lyris Aban Baptiste granny because I considered that too disrespectful for her stature. To me, she was always grandmother.

I miss the way she used to sing and hum to every new baby born to the family. The way she would blow raspberries on their stomach until they laughed. I miss the way she would ask for a beer, drink it quickly, and then pretend it had leaked away and ask for another. I miss how she always had food ready when her family visited, and if not, she would get up and make some. The way she would entrap her grandchildren to do household chores and then pay us with cake batter or soft drinks.

I miss how she would mock threaten any kids who were being sly or sassy by waving her cane at them. How she would blink owlishly sometimes until you announced yourself because she didn’t see so well in her last years. The stories she told about growing up in Grenada, raising kids in Trinidad and working as a domestic for a rich Chinese lady who taught her how to cook Chinese food.

Barely out of her teens, she got on a boat all alone to go be with the man that would become her husband. She grew up poor in a one bedroom shack with 10 younger brothers and sisters she had to help care for, and she had to leave school before she learned to read and write to do it. She was told there was no point to educating a girl that would only get pregnant anyway, and her eldest brother took her place in school. But by the time she left this world, she had taught herself to read and write, was the secretary of the national chapter of the Mother’s Union of the Anglican Church, the secretary of her Village Council and had helped build her house with her own two hands while pregnant.

Her children and grandchildren included teachers, nurses, public servants, artists, lawyers, writers, musicians and two generations of port workers, male and female. She educated her children in a time when you paid for that education yourself and she never tired of preaching the importance of God and ‘studying your book’. She saved more people from the sad twists and turns of life by offering them shelter and a chance to get on their own two feet than any charitable organisation. She stood by her word, no matter what. And she loved, loved, loved, her family.

But my best memories are the times we spent together. The time she pretended her cane was stuck in ‘reverse’ while standing in front of the television and blocking her children and grandchildren from watching a movie. The squeals of ‘Granny! Move!’ while she shook her cane and muttered in pretend frustration, ‘But how this thing wouldn’t go into drive at all?’ The laughter when she got it into drive and backed up against the screen even more.

The time we were playing cricket in the yard, and she came outside and we talked her into batting and then regretted it because no matter who bowled to her, she hit it for six every time and nobody could get her out.

Or the time she came out while I was watching ‘The Matrix’ on television and sat down and watched the entire thing with me. This woman born before electricity came to the poor of Grenada. This woman who rationed throughout World War II and never forgot the lessons of keeping enough food in the house in case of political upheaval. This woman who lived through the arrival of telephones in Trinidad, all the way to the installing of a computer in her house that she frequently called a ‘small TV’. She watched Neo gain his powers in a strange world created by ‘camera tricks’ as she called it and asked very few questions, so engrossed was she.

At the end of The Matrix, she said, ‘I like that. That was good.’ And then we went to bed, she to hers and I to mine.

Sleep well, grandmother. It really was good.

Excerpt: IACTA ALEA EST – Mr. Gae Is Expecting You

A little bit of Shalon from the sequel to LEX TALIONIS, to keep you company as you go into the weekend.

Framed in that archway, directly across from the lift, stood a hovercar, its dark blue curves iridescent as a beetle’s wing.  Shalon strolled over to it, careful to keep her body as relaxed as possible.  She was almost to it when the back door on her side faded, letting out the smell of fresh car polish on a breath of cool air.  She recognized the form seated next to the opposite door, and climbed in without hesitation. 

The seat beneath her felt butter soft.  When the door solidified again, complete silence descended. A yellow light came on, illuminating the beige interior and the tinted panel in front of her that extended from floor to ceiling.  Shalon noted the not unexpected fact that there was no way to open the doors from the inside. 

“I didn’t expect such luxury,” she said to Luc, leaning back and wondering why the car had not moved yet.  She shifted so that her right side was turned toward him and kept her hands within easy reach of her gun-belt.  Remember, he isn’t Orgalian any longer.   

“Mr. Gae wished you to be comfortable.”  In one easy movement, Luc’s hand dipped into his sleeve and reappeared holding a small dark gun that Shalon recognized as far more deadly than its size would indicate.  “Perhaps you could start by removing your gun-belt.”  

Did you really expect anything less?  Shalon sighed.  “I’m very attached to these.  What if I just promised not to shoot Mr. Gae?” 

“They will be safe in my possession until I return them, should that become necessary.” 

Shalon arched an eyebrow.  “Not a betting man?” 

Luc did not reply, he just held the tiny gun in a very steady hand.  Salon slid the belt off and handed it over.  “Anything else?” 

“No need.”  Luc tapped at the door and a compartment eased open next to him.  He dropped the gun-belt in.  “You were scanned as you entered the vehicle.” 

Of course.  She watched as Luc returned the gun to his robe.  “So now what do we do?” 

He leaned forward and knocked once at the panel.  Shalon felt the smooth tilt of the vehicle rising and turning. “Now,” he replied, “we go to see Mr. Gae.” 

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Stay thirsty, my friends!

Reunion Island Must Be Wondering What Gives

Poor little Reunion Island. Before last week, it was a place known mostly to surfers and scientists. Now it’s got an international spotlight on it since pieces of a plane that might be MH370 washed up on its beaches.

Oh, and its volcano decided to erupt again. That’s after sharks made it a new playground and scared off most of the surfers.

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Must be fun to have journalists descend on you while nature is having its way with you.

The article caught my attention because it mentions an outbreak of Chikungunya as well, a few years back, but in a strange way, pointing out that it causes heavy fever. As someone who’s had Chik V, I can tell you the fever is no big deal. It’s the insane body pain that lingers for months, even years, that really characterize this debilitating disease. There’s a reason some people compare it to the more severe Dengue fever–popularly known as ‘break-bone fever’.

Anyway, Reunion’s due a bit of luck now, especially since the residents mention in the article that they hope their discovery helps bring the families of those aboard the missing plane some kind of peace.

Here’s hoping tourism goes up and the volcano goes quiet, guys.

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Stay thirsty, my friends!

We Live In A Weird And Wonderful Universe

Once again, we’ve identified a new species of fish that seems to have been created just to give us nightmares.

Scary New Fish Discovered in Ocean Depths

This gorgeous George is apparently a ceratioid anglerfish. That funny looking glow-stick on its head is used to lure fish looking for nightclub to dance the night away into its jaws instead.

The diversity of life on this planet alone is just mind-boggling to me. It’s one of my favourite things about world-building in my novels, by the way. Using the explosion of life on Earth to inspire creatures and aliens in my stories. I figure, as weird as this world and its inhabitants are, you can never go to far in imagining worlds that are even stranger.

So the next time you’re thinking about where you want to set your story, challenge yourself. Look up the bacteria, flora and fauna that populate our world. Branch off of that and take it to the next level. Go crazy. Get inspired.

And then get to writing. ‘Cause that’s the best part.

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Stay thirsty, my friends!

Nine Worlds: The ‘Just Don’t’ list from Writing the Other workshop

RSAGARCIA:

Here’s acclaimed writer Stephanie Saulter with some great advice from a workshop on what to avoid when writing the other.

A nice baseline on how not to fall into clichéd perspectives and characterizations.

Originally posted on Talking back to the night:

One of the things I did at the Nine Worlds convention over the weekend was run a workshop, Writing the Other (well two of the things really, since there was a repeat session on Sunday morning for those who couldn’t get in on Saturday). Writing the Other is intended to help writers learn how to identify and avoid harmful tropes, stereotypes and associations when creating characters that depart from the dominant paradigm; and to write with greater accuracy, sensitivity and insight. Many thanks to all the attendees – you were engaged and interested and lovely, and I learned at least as much from you as I hope you learned from me.

The reference text is Writing the Other by Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward, which for the purposes of the workshop I summarised, Anglicised and crammed into just under ninety minutes. I ended with a checklist of some of the tired…

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