What is up with #Inktober?

Drawing a sword from the book, not stabbing the book. In case it was unclear.

Drawing a sword from the book, not stabbing the book. In case it was unclear.

If you follow my social media, you might have noticed that I’ve been posting ink drawings for #Inktober, and that they’re generally awful. You might have asked yourself why I would do that. Do I know how bad they are, or do I see my work through a blissfully ignorant filter? Is it some sort of prank?

So here’s what’s up with Inktober.

First, in case you aren’t familiar with it, #Inktober is a month for doing one drawing — in ink — and sharing it per day. You can find the brief background and this year’s optional prompt list from the creator Jake Parker. It’s something like National Novel Writing Month, but for visual artists.

Now, let’s recognize that I’m bad at drawing. No, I’m really bad at drawing. The local catchphrase for referring to truly hideous visual design is, “It looks like Laura drew it.” (Don’t feel bad. I’m often the one saying it. It’s not wrong to acknowledge my skills are in other sets.) So why on earth would I do Inktober, which unlike NaNoWriMo specifically requires publicly sharing one’s work?

I’m doing Inktober for several reasons: Continue reading

A Visit to CANDLES Holocaust Museum — and Today

Last Friday I had the privilege of briefly meeting a Holocaust survivor, hearing an extended recorded conversation with another Holocaust survivor, and hearing an hour-long talk from a German Jew who fled to the US shortly before war broke out.

It was, of course, sobering. And terrifying, when we consider where we are right now.

Eva Mozes and her twin Miriam were taken into Dr. Mengele’s experimental lab. Three thousand twins went in. Two hundred came out. Continue reading

Doctor Who, Writing Female Characters, and Equality.

Jodie Whittaker in 13th Doctor announcement photo

Jodie Whittaker in 13th Doctor announcement photo

On the one hand, I can’t believe we need to have this discussion of how to write female protagonists and balance. On the other, since clearly we do need it, let’s have it.

With the announcement of the 13th Doctor as a female regeneration, the internet slightly exploded. I was actually at a fandom convention during the announcement and heard not only discussion of the announcement itself, but of reactions to the announcement.

We’re going to ignore those who were horrified to discover their Doctor now has girl cooties. They’re easy to ignore — or just borrow for humor, where they’re most useful. Anyway, the haters are vocal but seem to be a minority, or maybe I just have a better-curated network, and I don’t intend to waste blog space on that sort of thing.

But one repeated protest I heard repeatedly in several less-hysterical discussions was, now that the Doctor is a female, the male companions will be written down to idiocy so that she looks clever, and so everything will be less cool and the storytelling will suffer. I found myself saying or typing the same thing repeatedly, so let me just save time and put it here.

This is indeed a huge problem, only the problem is not the Doctor’s personal plumbing. Continue reading

A Little Feminist Check Re Discrimination

I botched it tonight.

Someone asked our panel about writing in a traditionally male-dominated (both as authors and heroes) genre, as a woman. And several women writers were invited to answer, but with the clock ticking on the last moments of our chat time.

I was discombobulated by trying to formulate both a comprehensive and brief answer under the countdown, and even more so by another panelist’s previous assertion that white males were the cause of the downfall of society — a statement I found untrue as well as unfair to the white male panelists sitting on either side of me at the time, not freaking out about being outnumbered on the panel. Continue reading

Gross! Parents, Seriously.

I’ve had a few people think it was “dirty” that I have dogs in my house, or that I touch them regularly in my day job as an animal trainer, or that I would take an in-training service dog into a restaurant. Okay, not everyone likes dogs, that’s fine, and I guess if you’re seriously weirded out about them you can imagine airborne cooties flying through the room or something. (Though the service dog under the table is not a risk to your food and isn’t going away.) But the weird thing is, the people who voice such protests say nothing to or about parents doing actual gross stuff with their kids, also in eating areas.

I have long been disgusted by parents who change diapers on restaurant tables. SERIOUSLY PEOPLE, how is that okay, and it’s not like there aren’t legally-mandated changing tables in the restrooms just a few steps away. But I guess they figure they’re busy and special, and anyway no one should be stupid enough to eat off a restaurant table or have their eyes open while eating. If I didn’t want to see exactly how much nastier strained peas are post-processing, I shouldn’t have chosen a restaurant which serves families. And anyway, breast-fed babies’ diapers are so much better than formula-fed babies’ diapers, see the difference? so they don’t know how I could be upset. Continue reading

Writing Women.

Let’s talk about lady protagonists.

No, this isn’t another rant about needing more strong female characters, nor the problems with Strong Female Characters (TM). (That’s an easy problem to solve, really: you write good characters, and some of them are female. Done. Not every character needs to carry the impossible weight of universal representation.)

No, I’m going to talk about just the number of females, and my own part in the current state of affairs. Yes, this was partly prompted by Jo Eberhardt’s “The Problem With Female Protagonists,” but I think I’m going to add some additional data and personal takes.

First, let’s look at a statistical truth: There are more books and films with male protagonists than female. (The very fact that we call out but-look-a-female-lead! is proof of it being outside the norm. Nobody needs to point out gravity, because we’re all used to it.) But because we’re all neurologically programmed to notice the abnormal more than the normal, when we do start seeing “diversity,” it feels bigger than it is.

This is why research shows that if 17% of a given group is female, the men in the group report an equal number of men and women, and when the number of females reaches 33%, the men report a majority of women. The “excess” of women over the “norm” is what’s perceived, not an actual count. Continue reading

Lady Voices in Audiobooks

I listen to a fair number of audiobooks, mostly because I spend a ridiculous amount of time in the car and reading a paperback while driving is both illegal and stupid. Audiobooks keep me alert and entertained. I listen mostly to fiction, but I also enjoy audio non-fiction and some recorded lectures, especially if I’m researching for a story.

I have some favorite narrators, of course, but I don’t choose books just for the narrator. I have, however, quit books because I did not like the narrator. A reader can really set the tone and influence the flow of a story.

One pet peeve is when male readers indicate a female character primarily by going all breathy. It can make a political thriller or sci fi adventure sound more like a 1-900 sex line. Continue reading

News: I Have a Tesla

20151205_135738 It was roughly three years of observing and dreaming, before I had finally realized I’d saved enough. And lemme tell you, there’s no feeling like achieving a dream.

Word got out this weekend, when I picked up the car itself. I have become the very pleased owner of a Tesla Model S.

And the key point for this blog is, my books are buying it. (Thank you, thank you, thank you!) Continue reading

So, About Daylight Saving Time

Time change at the end of Daylight Saving Time...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think it’s time we were all honest with ourselves and just admitted that Daylight Saving Time is a failed idea.

It’s not a bad idea, in its original form. When early proponents (such as Benjamin Franklin) realized that we could take advantage of longer daylight hours by getting up earlier, that was a legitimate and factual observation. Ben satirically suggested cannons to rouse the populace earlier rather than changing the clocks, because changing the clocks was kind of a dumb idea, but the cannons didn’t exactly take off either.

Since then, Daylight Saving Time (it’s singular, despite popular mispronunciation) discussion has been full of good intentions with poor follow-through. Continue reading

“That Friend” and FOMO

Okay, I’ve seen a number of people post this now. Many are people who don’t know each other. And I’ve seen the sentiment echoed from all demographics, people getting student discounts and people getting senior discounts. It’s everywhere. Here’s the thing:

I'm that friend that has to walk behind the group when the path isn't big enough. I'm that friend that gets cut off in the conversation. I'm that friend that gets left behind when I asked for them to wait for me. I'm that friend that doesn't get invited to hang out a lot. I'm that friend that if I want to go tot he mall or some place with a friend I have to be the one to invite people to make sure I get included. I'll always be that friend.

 

And I’m going to step into the Old Ben mentor trope for a moment and pontificate, because it seems there’s something critical being missed.

Guys, this is not “that friend.” This is EVERYONE. Continue reading