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Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ [userpic]

Gonna Go Back In Time: Wisconsin's Legalized Sexism

April 10th, 2012 (11:51 am)

I have a lot of my own thoughts about all the ugliness raging in the U.S. around race and women and the economy, but this is a good place to start. (Spoiler: What the hell?!)

Originally posted by catvalenteat Gonna Go Back In Time: Wisconsin's Legalized Sexism

It’s ok. You guys can tell me.

We all secretly went back in time, right?

That’s the only way I can get my head around Wisconsin’s repeal of their Equal Pay Act on the argument that “Money is more important to men”, piled on top of the birth control “debate” and Georgia passing legislation based on the idea that women are anatomically and ethically identical to pigs and cows. We fell through a time vortex and it’s 1959 and half of the twentieth century didn’t happen.

That is, of course, what Scott Walker and the rest of the charming gentlemen who are signing these grotesque reversions into law without mandate or recourse want. Hey, if we take away their birth control and don’t pay them for work, everything will go back to the way it was when pwecious Scotty was a kid and women will just stay at home and back cookies for everyone. Yay! No one will be gay anymore and America will drink its milk and be big and strong and we won’t have to worry about recycling and breast cancer (ew breasts!) and unwhite people and that rock n’ roll music the kids listen to. We can law it all away.

Yeah. And fuck you, too. And fuck you to everyone who told me to stop swearing about this on Twitter last night. WE SHOULD ALL BE SWEARING. We should all be laying down so much shit that fucking roses grow on Twitter. WE SHOULD CARE ABOUT THIS AT LEAST AS MUCH AS WE CARED ABOUT SOPA. Funny how I don’t see anyone shutting down portions of the Internet in protest, though. I mean, it’s only women. The headline on Reddit about this is: “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has signed a bill that prohibits workers from collecting damages in employment discrimination cases.” No outrage, no commentary, just a link. No mention of Walker’s contention that women don’t work as hard, aren’t “go go go” like men, and shouldn’t be paid as much. Women not even mentioned, despite being the clear and stated target of the legislation. Why get upset? Should be fine!

After all, there’s no war on women. The Republicans promise there isn’t. Just because the massive portion of their efforts are bent toward reducing the rights and freedoms of a single group within the American population doesn’t mean it’s a war. Not like the War on Drugs is a war. After all, drugs are bad and need to be controlled or else society will fall apart. Just like the ladies. This is just Good, Small Government. Why, next week, they’ll be repealing the Equal Pay for Caterpillars Act.

The conservatives are at least partly right: birth control and equal pay (somewhat equal, anyway) were the great victories of first and second wave feminism. They are trying everything in their power to take those things away, in the hopes that it’ll activate a Time Turner that will erase the source of those changes as well as the changes themselves. They say we are pigs, they say we don’t need any silly pin money, they say these things and they should be embarrassed, they should be ashamed at what just came out of their mouths, but no one is shaming them. The news treats it like a simple partisan debate. Point for blue, point for red. But no matter what young folks might say, these men know we’re not in a post-sexist or post-racist culture, that they can rely on old, ugly misogyny and the reluctance to stand up for women’s rights that has tinted gender relations in this country for pretty much ever to lube their legislation up nice and slick. When women are outraged, you don’t have to listen, after all. Bitches be crazy.

I know Walker will almost certainly be recalled in November. Doesn’t really matter–he’s fiat’d this into law and there’s an inertia there. I’ve heard rumors that Walker is a top candidate for the GOP VP slot, so don’t get smug in the knowledge that he’s going away. I shouldn’t be surprised, you shouldn’t be surprised–but we should all be terrified. And angry.

I’ve seen a lot of people saying things like “only in the US” and “America is crazy” and “thank god I don’t live there” flitting around, both here and on my gendered online discourse post. (And I want to thank the BSFA for proving my point, that the sexist jackasses, they live everywhere.) And I want to say: knock it off. First of all, no matter how much we like to take credit for things, Americans did not invent sexism. I promise, it could not “only happen in the US.” Many countries, if not all of them, have huge gender problems and many of those are boiling over with regressive assholes in power. And since the UK, Canada, and Australia are all having trouble with conservatives in their government pissing in the punchbowl, I wouldn’t get too excited about your immunity to this kind of crap.

But more importantly–stop thinking you’re special and it can never happen in your country. That is how America got like this in the first place. By thinking we were special, specially liberated and enlightened and awesome and only those other lamer countries had problems. That arrogance allows us to continue to let everything circle the drain, because we’re the best and OBVIOUSLY we’re not really sexist and stuff, it’ll get fixed, don’t worry. Our system can’t have been redesigned to let a few people destroy our economy–we have the best economy! USA! Everything’s fine! GROWTH 4EVAH.

I hate that shit. I know you hate that shit. So stop telling me Americans are so weird and where you live this could never happen. It could. If you’re not vigilant, like we haven’t been, it will.

Doesn’t mean I know what vigilance looks like. I’ve been told not to call myself a feminist my whole life, well before the current skirmishes. I’ve seen vast swathes of young women grow up couching every sentence defending their right to exist in “I’m not a feminist, but…” Because feminists are bad and they hate men and they’re ugly. But I’ve also been told: well, obviously you’re not serious about marriage if you don’t take your husband’s name, if you must be pro-choice make sure you insist that you could never make that choice for yourself, don’t make the first move or boys will think you’re a slut (also you will be a slut), you can have a full time job but don’t think that means you get to slack off on cooking, cleaning, and childrearing, you lazy baby-hungry girl. Men work so hard. They shouldn’t have to worry about the home. After all, you’re just naturally better at cleaning–men just don’t see clutter like you do!

But everything’s fine in America now and all feminism should worry about are the poor ladies living in the Middle East so why are you complaining that you only get 80 cents to the male dollar? YOU GOT 80 CENTS, BITCH, AREN’T YOU HAPPY?

So yeah. I feel fucking miserable and helpless. The fact is that our system is only loosely democratic at this point. We vote nationally on a President and that’s it. We as citizens have no recourse when executive branches decide to get all War on Caterpillars on our asses, and it’s been made abundantly clear that not one fuck is given about organized protest at that level of government.

This is why Wikipedia shut down to protest SOPA. Because that’s all we have, really. Disrupt commerce and consumer culture. But I just can’t see that kind of concentrated action happening in defense of women, no matter how much what happens to us happens to the whole culture. Go ahead: take our birth control and our jobs and call us pigs, tell us to obey the Catholic Church’s most panicked and regressive ideas whether or not we are Catholic. Take our humanity and wipe Congress’s asses with it.

But don’t you dare take away smoothly torrenting Mad Men episodes. How else will we get new ideas for how the country should look?

Mirrored from cmv.com. Also appearing on @LJ and @DW. Read anywhere, comment anywhere.

Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ [userpic]

My heart is still breaking on this first day of spring.

March 20th, 2012 (02:55 pm)

It's been breaking, and I've been crying ever since I heard about Trayvon Martin's murder. I keep thinking, he was just a baby. Just a kid out for some snacks, enjoying life, and someone who could only see ugly stereotypes thought to destroy that with a gun.

I believe very much in love and compassion, and I also believe all beings deserve respect and empathy. That poor boy did not deserve to die. He was a light in the world, a world I want to see all babies grow up to enjoy equally, to be able to live in without fear. We're damn far away from that right now, but we can call a spade a spade and say it is never okay to go after someone with a gun for being "suspicious" (black). We can say that we are tired of watching ugliness happen in our world. It doesn't have to. It really doesn't.

We need to be lights in the world, too, to speak up when we know something is wrong, to help when others are in trouble. To be sympathetic and compassionate and kind and brave. Every one of us needs to do that. We need to see Zimmerman face justice and realize the enormity of what he's done--he killed a defenseless child.

But go read this. Mikki Kendall says it much better than I can.

"The mother in me worries, not just for my son, but also for all the sons of my friends. The idea that the fat babies I’ve rocked, the wild toddlers I’ve chased, the half grown boys I’ve nagged about chores could wind up dead on a slab hurts me in ways that I can’t explain fully to anyone but another black mother. We walk tight ropes with our children, wanting them to experience life to the fullest while also wishing we could wrap them in a bubble of protection for the rest of their lives. Our sons don’t have to commit actual crimes, or even face a judge and jury to be executed. All they have to do is be black men in America, and if the police response to George Zimmerman’s claims of self defense are any indication? Their killers won’t even face a cursory prosecution. Instead, they’ll be sent home without so much as a slap on the wrist."

That's not the world I want to live in, nor the one I think you do. Please, please, remember we all have to take Gandhiji's advice to heart and be the change we want to see in this world. We all have to speak up. We all have to act.

Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ [userpic]

Today is my lovely husband's birthday.

March 16th, 2012 (01:25 pm)
Tags: ,

Unfortunately, he's sick, so celebrating will have to wait until later this weekend, when we go out for dinner and drinks. We've also been meaning to see the new Studio Ghibli movie, Karigurashi no Arrietty (The Secret World of Arrietty in English). Has anyone seen it yet? If so, what did you think?

In other happy news, a dear friend asked me to be a bridesmaid in her rainbow wedding. I am thrilled. :D Her influence has helped to wake the artistic urge in me, and I couldn't be more grateful. Plus I love rainbows.

Happy Friday with love and sparkles!

Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ [userpic]

What I've been making lately, or, Glitter glue, where have you been all my life??

March 13th, 2012 (10:10 am)

current location: Not the Victorian Dollhouse
current mood: creative
current music: None

I've been pretty quiet on here because my energy's gone elsewhere, into living that creative, magical life I keep talking about. I'm trying to live my days as an act of conscious creativity, being aware of what I do and how it brings about what I want and don't want. And I'm making things!

I've spent the last couple months diving into paper crafts, and I am in love. (My friend skogkatt knows what I'm talking about!) So I thought I'd share my latest project with you, a mobile I made for my niece's birthday. I'm very proud of how it turned out and can't wait to try something else!

Aunt and niece paper dolls. The flowers and heart spell out "trust in magic." And you can't really tell in these pictures, but the dolls are wearing sparkly emerald and ruby slippers, respectively.

See the rest of the mobile objects beneath the cut.Collapse )

And best of all, aunt and niece celebrating together.

Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ [userpic]

Another quick post about other people's stories

February 13th, 2012 (09:57 pm)

current location: Not the Victorian Dollhouse
current mood: delighted
current music: None

. . . because this is too cool not to share.

The second issue of Demeter's Spicebox is now up, and it includes two new stories that track the progress of the chappals (sandals) from my story "Lavanya and Deepika" and the teapot from Mari Ness's "Sister and Bones." Both pieces are based on the fairy tale types 510 and 923, about salt.

I just finished reading "The Salt of Aksum" by Mae Empson and loved what she did with my chappals and my yaksha (nature spirit). :) I can't wait to read Joshua Gage's "Salt" tomorrow.

I hope you'll check both stories out, too!

Demeter's Spicebox, issue two

Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ [userpic]

"Jack, Jack, Jack, head in a sack..."

February 13th, 2012 (03:16 pm)

Eventually I'll have a post of my own again, I promise, but for now, an awesome deal. (I heard Claire read aloud from Jack in person . . . and whoa, you should rush out to download the audiobook. Seriously.

Originally posted by csecooney at "Jack, Jack, Jack, head in a sack..."

Oh, my gosh! I'm SO EXCITED to announce that the AUDIOBOOK of Jack o' the Hills "Part One: STONE SHOES" is available for purchase and download!!!

The audiobook includes an original song "Master Jack" with my lyrics and music by Jeremy Cooney. He performs it BEAUTIFULLY. It's very creepy and jolly.

The publisher Erzebet ANNOUNCES HERE:

Welcome to 2012! I return from an extended online hiatus to bring you tidings of Jack Yap, as promised in "You Don't Know Jack!, in which the author discusses the making of the audiobook itself.

Jack Yap is “his Marm’s good boy, maple-syrup mouth, toffee-tongue, such sweetness” — or is he? He’s a rascal, a rapscallion, a downright ragamuffin, and he’s one of the most memorable characters I’ve ever read. It is therefore with great delight that I announce the release of the audiobook of “Stone Shoes”, the first of the two tales that make up Jack o’ the Hills, read by author C.S.E. Cooney and arranged by Jeremy Cooney. Many thanks go out to Jeremy, who also helped with “this GarageBand mumbojumbo”.

The audiobook can be purchased exclusively from Papaveria for the outrageously low cost of £1.69 — that’s approximately $2.99 for our American friends. Visit Circle Six to get a copy of your own.



What folks are saying about Jack o' the Hills

“The best story from the online Summer issue is also dark fantasy, this time blackly humorous: ‘Stone Shoes’, by C. S. E. Cooney, about Jack Yap and his brother Pudding and their Marm and a skinchanger’s egg — linguistically inventive, and slyly vicious.”

–Rich Horton, from the January 2008 Locus

“Claire Cooney spins tales of Grimm horror with elvish gold gleaming in their darkness. They have the vivid colors of an extremely good nightmare, a fertile and vernal radiance all their own: funny and horrifying and moving by turns — and sometimes out of turn. If you’ve forgotten why you love fantasy, these stories of Jack Yap and Shapechanger Tam will remind you.”

–James Enge, author of Blood of Ambrose, nominated for the 2009 World Fantasy Award.

“Stunningly delicious! Cruel, beautiful and irresistible are C.S.E. Cooney’s characters and prose. Just when you thought fantasy had devolved into endless repetition, ’Jack o’ the Hills’ blows us all over the next hill and into the kingdom beyond. C.S.E. Cooney is a rare and exciting new talent. Whatever she offers us next, I’ll waiting in line to read.”

– Ellen Kushner, author of Thomas the Rhymer

- Francesca Forrest

- Charles Tan

- Alexandra Erin

- Amazon.com reviews


Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ [userpic]

Con or Bust! Auction is Open!

February 12th, 2012 (01:02 pm)

This wonderful post by Jaymee Goh says everything I want to say. Please read and then go bid (and maybe offer your own auctions!) to help fans and writers of color attend speculative fiction conventions. It's so important we all get to be part of the larger conversation.

Originally posted by fantasyecho at Con or Bust! Auction is Open!

Con or Bust, the fundraiser that helped me get to WisCon34 back in 2010, has now opened for bidding on its various items! I also has an item up for bidding!

You can find most general information about Con or Bust at its site but I would like to give my own perspective on why you should bid, or perhaps even donate, to Con or Bust.

I tend to see people ask, "what do we do to help racism go away?" Or "what can we do to encourage POC participation at events?" And sometimes infuriatingly, "yeah we know racism is bad: what are you doing about it?"

Racism being less just insults or individual prejudices and more a system of excluding people of colour from acts of self-empowerment and equal participation, requires a mass action on the parts of many individuals. It requires acknowledgement of exclusion and active movement to address this exclusion. It requires a communal effort of raising ourselves and each other and a pooling of our already-scarce resources.

When I asked for funding to go to WisCon, I indirectly also used that money to fund my trip to Steampunk World's Fair, 2010, because it was just two weeks before, and I didn't feel like traveling back into Canada and out again, when I could just stay in the States. After SPWF, I traveled from New Jersey to Wisconsin, and stayed with a friend of my father's, before checking into the Concourse for WisCon34.

I actually did not honestly expect to get as much money as I did for my trip down: I simply told kate_nepveu the breakdown of expected costs for my trip. And somehow, that is what I got. I've actually been feeling quite guilty about that since then, because I was expecting maybe half of the amount, or less. "Whatever you can spare," I told her.

But I can say that I remain immensely grateful for that money, even though it was some two years ago. I don't know if there's a way to really articulate how much it meant to me that I was given such a lump sum, no questions asked about my credentials or eligibility, to attend what was to me a really big convention, more importantly, a really important conversation. I know for some WisCon is just another fan convention, but for me, then and now, WisCon is THE convention to get some grounding in how feminist theory, intersectionality and speculative fiction are wound together and grounded in the realities of actual writers and fans of the genre, who then transfer these values we learn over into "real life".

Sara Ahmed's written about having a place at the family table and being the feminist killjoy who ruins the family dinner. Con or Bust essentially gives us the wherewithal to even secure a place at the table in the first place. For so many of us who are consistently excluded from the table, because we don't have the time or money or resources to get there, it becomes an invaluable opportunity to make sure we are counted, our voices are part of the discourse, and our perspectives count for something.

So this is what Con or Bust has been doing about racism: we have been addressing the glaringly empty gaps in POC convention attendees and taking steps to fill them. This is what Con or Bust does for a larger purpose of addressing racial disparity in geekdom. Many geeks consider themselves marginalized by mainstream without considering ways that their spaces just re-create and reinforce the problems of the mainstream. Con or Bust's existence is a reminder of how marginalization comes in many forms.

Fans of colour and non-white fans are not always well-represented at fan conventions. I've shared this joke with several people, which runs along these lines:

"I counter X [racialized] people at this con!"
"Wow! We're reaching our quota!"

It is sad and somewhat infuriating that part of our fandom reality is that we feel we have a quota to our presences as people of colour in a gathering that's supposed to be for all sorts of people. That there is a tipping point of how many people of colour can be at any given event before we start becoming threats. This is something that can only happen when it is so abnormal to see people of colour in large numbers, interacting as if we belong there.

And we do. Fundraisers like Con or Bust give us the wherewithal to prove that we have a place and that we belong. Because we as fans of colour are valuable to fan conventions. We bring a perspective that an all-white-with-tokens space cannot have, and the spaces to which we bring our stories to become all the fuller and richer for it.

So if you've ever asked, "what can I do about racism?" then supporting efforts like Con or Bust, run by and for people of colour, in a world where our exclusion is a matter of course without intention, is an action you can take to purposefully address and begin to help allay racial disparity.

Thanks for reading. Now go bid!

Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ [userpic]

My story "Lavanya and Deepika" is up at PodCastle!

February 7th, 2012 (02:39 pm)

current location: Not the Victorian Dollhouse
current mood: happy
current music: Loreena McKennitt's "Incantation"

Hi, everyone!

I have been super busy and also just craving more time away from the Internet, so I haven't been online much (doing crafty stuff and job-type stuff instead). But I do have some news to report: my fusion fairy tale retelling, "Lavanya and Deepika," is now up at PodCastle! If you like roses and strong women, go have a listen. :)

Hope you're well! *blows kisses at you all*

Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ [userpic]

announcing 2012 Con or Bust auction

January 17th, 2012 (11:37 am)

Originally posted by kate_nepveu at announcing 2012 Con or Bust auction

I am pleased to announce this year's auction to support Con or Bust, which helps fans of color/non-white fans attend SFF conventions. Bidding starts Saturday, February 11, 2012 at 12:01 a.m. EST (GMT -5) and ends Sunday, February 25, 2012 at 11:59 p.m. EST. You may post auction offers and make donations now.

For more details, please see these updated posts explaining how to:

As a reminder, Con or Bust is now helping fans attend all cons of their own choosing, not just WisCon as in the past. (Requests for assistance to attend cons in April, May, and June 2012 will be taken from February 15 through 25; see the "request assistance" link for more details.) Because the demand for assistance is greater than before, please spread the word widely!

More information about Con or Bust.

Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ [userpic]

Happy new (Gregorian) year--and cool end-of-the-year news!

January 1st, 2012 (05:41 pm)

current location: The Victorian Dollhouse
current mood: cheerful
current music: Ed typing

It doesn't feel like a new year to me, but aryasura and I went out last night for Thai food and then ended up stopping at babarnett's, where we rang in 2012 with wine and champagne. I had chocolate wine. Yum!

Also, earlier in the day, I had a productive writing session with starlady38, whom it was wonderful to see again (and who lent me anime!), and then I dropped off a book at blood_of_winter's house. I was so happy to see them both and get hugs. :)

The past couple of weeks were hard, in that the old ugly doubts and mental patterns reared their heads. But now that I have health insurance again, I will be seeking out a cognitive behavioral therapist this week to do something about it. I know I am loved, I know I am worth a lot, I know I'm fun and smart and talented--all the things the mental patterns try to say I'm not. So it's time to kick them to the curb.

And my cool news is this: as a last-minute gift from 2011, I learned I'd sold audio rights to PodCastle for my fairy tale retelling "Lavanya and Deepika," which originally came out in Demeter's Spicebox. Whee! I am so excited and will let you all know as soon as it's available.

Also wonderful: Ed surprised me with an LED cherry blossom tree! The picture below gives you an idea of the flowers, but the tree I have isn't a bonsai.

Now I just have to get this novel draft done. Really, I'm so close. . .

Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ [userpic]

*dusting off the old LJ*

December 20th, 2011 (09:25 am)

current location: The Victorian Dollhouse
current mood: content
current music: Dead Can Dance's "Black Sun"

Good morning! I had one of those nights where I was too keyed up to really sleep, so I'm tired now. And it's grey outside. Whee. But I think it'll be a good day.

Since I haven't posted in a while, I thought I might as well do that now. *stretches, cracks knuckles* Hi, LJ! Long time, no see. Actually, that's not true. I may not have been posting, but I have been reading. (Rambling post rambles!)

I think I'll break this up into a few sections, the different things I've been meaning to talk about. So here goes.

On being postdepression:

I made a post some time ago about having had clinical depression for a few years. While I'm glad to say I'm definitely not depressed anymore--in fact, I've been truly happy for the first time, what a former spiritual teacher called "unreasonable happiness" (happiness for no reason), these past couple of years--I do have holdover reactions. Depression changes the brain. It changed mine, so even though I am generally a positive person with a variety of dreams and ambitions (remember, I want to live a magical life full of creativity and joy), I have days where I'm overwhelmed by everything, and I feel too small to do anything beyond hide in my bed with a book--even though I know it's not true. Or I'll distract myself from the things I really want to accomplish that day. I'm pretty sure I'd be done with this draft of the novel already if it weren't for that. It's so frustrating, especially since I know I no longer need those reactions. They don't protect me.

Rather than being angry at myself, though, I've decided to act out of compassion. In the new Gregorian year, I plan to look around for a cognitive behavioral therapist to see about moving past these conditioned responses and retraining my neural pathways. Surely there're new practices I can put into play to get myself back to where I used to be--and where I want to be now.

On freelancing:

Now that the wedding's over (hopefully the photographer will get back to us with the pictures soon, so I can share them with you), I've been writing and cooking and baking. The novel is still slow going, but it's going, and I feel good about it.

I also am dipping my toes into the freelance waters. I'm not really sure how to break into proofreading and/or copyediting for trade publishing, particularly fiction, but I have done it full time in other industries, including medical publishing, and I'm very good at what I do. If anyone has any leads or ideas on how to get started, I'd be grateful. ♥

On friendship:

I've learned a lot about friendships, who I am in one, and what I want out of non-romantic relationships over this past year, and I'm really glad. Some of it was hard, but that's why they call them growing pains. I feel very blessed to have friends in my life I can really talk to, even if most of them don't live nearby. Seeing so many turn out for my wedding really warmed my heart and healed old pain from the past (School was not kind to me, and I get so annoyed when people insist traditional schooling is necessary for socialization. What, teaching someone it's okay to be bullied is "social"?). That was really wonderful.

(We still have to finish getting the thank-you cards out, but that's another topic!)

I'm also getting to know new people and letting those relationships slowly develop, and it's so interesting to observe myself and see how differently I interact now compared to the past. I like myself a lot more than I used to, so I believe I deserve better, and I'm finding it. It also means I don't feel needy and like I need others to complete me. It also means I've come to terms with and even embraced the fact that I am someone who thrives on real interaction and who does better in one-on-one, more intimate settings. I used to believe I needed a group to be happy. Now I know it's not true, and I'm happier for it.

On decluttering:

I'm feeling moved to look around my life and let go of things that don't really serve me anymore, so I'll be going through my books and CDs and clothes to see what I can cull. I also plan to trim my LiveJournal friends list a bit, cutting people I don't necessarily interact with or who don't comment. No hard feelings, of course; this is just to streamline my LJ reading.

Another way I've been decluttering is feeling this sudden need to cook with things I haven't used, a real clean-out-the-fridge impulse. For example, I have Himalayan pink sea salt I bought a couple years ago. It's just been sitting there. Now I will figure out what I can actually do with it. . .

On anime:

When I was at Sirens in October, I got inspired to learn more about this unknown (to me) world of manga and anime. Since then, I've watched most of Studio Ghibli's films and The Twelve Kingdoms, which I adored (kirin and beautiful art and great character arcs), and am in the third season of Avatar: The Last Airbender. With the exception of one pointless beach party episode, aryasura and I have really enjoyed the series. Such good storytelling, such great characters! And strong brown women, some with disabilities! Yeah! For a supposedly kids' show, it's not afraid to get sophisticated and even dark.

On esotaria's recommendation, I'm also three episodes into Natsume Yuujinchou. So far, I like the lucky cat.

On reading:

I'm always reading. I'm currently in the middle of Diana Wynne Jones's Fire and Hemlock, and I have a few other things out from the library. I also need to make a dent in the pile of my own books!

One YA book I bought that looks interesting (and uses Hindu lore) is The Third Eye, by Mahtab Narsimhan. It's the beginning of a trilogy. Have a look!

I think that's everything of note. If you've read this far, thank you! I send you all love.

Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ [userpic]

Steam-Powered 2 podcast with me!

December 11th, 2011 (11:03 am)

current location: The Victorian Dollhouse
current mood: cheerful
current music: Ah, blessed silence

In October, Julia Rios of the Outer Alliance asked if I'd like to be interviewed for her podcast on steampunk. I said sure!

And now the results of that initial conversation are up for your listening pleasure: Julia asked great questions of two fellow Steam-Powered 2 authors, qian (Zen Cho) and pattytempleton, and me at the Outer Alliance blog.

In my interview, I talk a bit about how "Not the Moon But the Stars" came to be, and also about Amar Chitra Katha, the really awesome comics based on South Asian myth and lore. And then I read a bit from "Not the Moon." Go check it out!

You can listen to the whole thing here:

Outcast Alliance Podcast #14: Steampunk December (1 of 2)

Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ [userpic]

Make some magick4terri!

November 28th, 2011 (08:32 pm)

current location: The Victorian Dollhouse
current mood: cheerful
current music: Some annoying commercial on the radio

Terri Windling, that is, lovely fairy godmother of the urban fantasy genre. I have loved Terri's work for some time--her writing, her art, and especially her editing. When she spoke at the 2010 Sirens Conference, she moved us to tears with her talk of folklore and being a child in desperate need of stories. Later, she and I had a great chat about the need for and move toward diversity in fantasy, and you know how that warmed my heart. (See evidence of this in her latest anthologies.)

Now Terri needs a bit of help, so a bunch of wonderful people have banded together to auction off items to raise funds for her. You can get your name in a book, try for art by masters such as Brian and Wendy Froud, nab beautiful bone art based on gorgeous writing, bid on faerie wing jewelry, order your choice of vegan caramels. . .I personally have a batch of homemade lavender cookies up for grabs.

Have a look! See if there's anything that calls to you.

(And yes, I did get married recently, and it was full of joy and beauty, and there will definitely be photos and a recap forthcoming. And lots of happiness. But for now, please do take a look at magick4terri.)

Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ [userpic]

We are all bursting with stars. We all deserve to live magical lives.

November 7th, 2011 (11:42 pm)

current location: The Victorian Dollhouse
current mood: creative
current music: Princess Mononoke

Thanks to talibusorabat, I have two new user pictures for a year! Thank you, Katie.

I had a nice birthday and a lovely dinner, and I got to spend that evening with a fox-tailed girl named alankria! So much fun, though we forgot completely to get any pictures. I took her to a park, where we admired the trees in their fiery autumn finery and marveled at the brilliant deep blue of the sky. Later, we wrote in a coffee shop and then met everyone else for fusion Indian food. Everyone included ecmyers, whom I hadn't seen in way too long, and blood_of_winter and babarnett and katranna, among others. Yay!

Eleven days to go to the wedding. I fly out Saturday for preparations. *stressed*

Things are difficult for a lot of us, especially where finances are concerned. But pursuing dreams and making art are still both really important, particularly in times of doubt and seeming lack. I'm still at work on chapter fourteen of my novel and feeling very inspired by various sources. I'd like to share them with you.

First, pattytempleton on not wasting time:

"Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it's just not that good. It's trying to be good, it has potential, but it's not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went thorugh years of this."

--Ira Glass

Then lainitaylor on creating your life.

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

I so clearly remember what it was like, being young and always in the grip of some big fat daydream. I wanted to be a writer always, but more than that, I wanted to have an extraordinary life. I’m sure I dreamed it a million different ways, and that plenty of them were ridiculous, but I think the daydreams were training for writing, and I also think they spurred me to pursue my dreams for real.

Next, doragoss_feed on enchantment:

I think we need more enchantment in our lives. It’s not unrealistic. Terri Windling and Rima Staines have Dartmoor and its environs to help them, but I think all of us can live in ways that are more magical. It just takes choosing the beautiful and the real. Surrounding ourselves with things we genuinely love.

And finally, a googly-eyed singing cupcake card, because honestly, who couldn't use that?

Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ [userpic]

Good morning, good morning!

November 1st, 2011 (11:12 am)

current location: The Victorian Dollhouse
current mood: happy
current music: The hum of the heater

It's a bit of a chilly morning. Brr!

That winter storm the East Coast just got was something else. At least the snow skipped us, for which I'm grateful. aryasura and I spent the day snuggled up, watching movies. He picked Sinbad pieces (totally his choice, not mine), and we alternated them with Studio Ghibli films. Thanks to coraa, rachelmanija, and starlady38, I've decided to dive into the world of anime and see what I can learn. To start, I checked out a bunch of Hayao Miyazaki's work from the library. Some I've liked better than others, but a couple really moved me. Fun!

Also, happy belated birthday, dear rachelmanija!

Let's see; what else? My birthday's on Thursday, and I get married in eighteen days. Eek! Eek, eek, eek! There are still last-minute details to resolve. And before that, alankria is coming to the States for a visit, so ecmyers and I will get her company at my birthday dinner on Friday. Yay!


Also, I promised to tell you about my day in NYC and then never did. I had sooo much fun with csecooney and skogkatt. Claire is a walking ball of fire and mischief and hilarious bawdy poetry. She'll link arms with you and just start quoting while strolling through Central Park. It's awesome. As for Julia, she sings songs in Spanish and wears gorgeous purple dresses that look like they belong in a fairy tale and is very thoughtful and funny.

So I arrived at ellen_kushner's and deliasherman's gorgeous apartment sometime in the morning, where I was immediately greeted with joy and made to sit and partake in a tea party. :D We ate cheese and crackers and chocolate and apples and drank lots of tea. Delia chatted with us about knitting and cat allergies and her new book that's about to release, The Freedom Maze. I got to see a copy. It's hardback, with a lovely cover, and I can't wait to read it.

Then Claire, Julia, and I went into the cozy, comfortable living room, and Julia wound a ball of yarn for Delia while Claire and I took turns reading from our novels in progress. I had a captive audience--because they didn't dare to leave, muahahaha!--and I really enjoyed Claire's. One day, Julia will have to read for us, too!

After that, Ellen returned home with delicious Thai food for all of us, so we had a great lunch before getting ready to head out to Central Park. Once among the trees and grass, Claire, Julia, and I cozied up to lampposts for pictures, skipped, and tried to ride a carousel, but the carousel closed just as we reached it. Boo! We also dodged lots of runners and wrote a poem about drowning New York City. (No darkness in our hearts, that's for sure!)

Once Claire had had her fill of the park, we made our way toward the theater where her play Selkie would be performed. We saw bits of the city and beautiful architecture and finally met up with her friend Cavan. We then found an Indian restaurant, where we ate and ate and met up with Cavan's and Julia's partners. When I wished the proprietor a happy Deepavali (as that day was the Hindu festival of lights), he brought us all gulab jamun on the house. A perfect finish to the meal!

So then we hopped, skipped, and jumped over to the theater. Claire's play was put on with four others, all ten minutes long, and hers opened the night. There was a beautiful tree adorned with medicine bottles, and I thought the main actress did a fantastic job. The other plays were interesting, too, and afterward, we parted ways with Cavan and headed back to Ellen's and Delia's while practicing our rusty French skills.

There, Ellen and Delia were thrilled to have me go through every room with a candle and chase out the shadows of the old year while lighting in the new one. This is something to be done with a diya, an oil lamp, but we didn't have one, so a candle had to do. It was lovely, walking through the space led only by a flame, with everyone following. Since I wan't home to perform the ceremony, I'm glad I could do it there. It turned out to be Ellen's and Delia's wedding anniversary, so we blessed them, too, and then worked on signing cards Julia had made.

Julia and Moss left, and while Delia and Ellen packed for World Fantasy Convention, Claire and I chatted a little. Then it was time for bed, but I couldn't resist the shelves and shelves of books, so I got about fifty pages into The Folk Keeper before falling asleep.

In the morning, I raced to get my things together, because Claire was leaving with Ellen and Delia for the airport. I met Julia at Penn Station, and we had a great breakfast together consisting of fluffy omelets, wonderful conversation (radishes and queens. Who needs cabbages and kings?), and coffee that our waitress gloried in telling us was Green Mountain brand. She was really, really proud of this. I mean, really proud. So Julia and I couldn't help giggling.

And finally, far too soon, I stood in the rain for my bus back to Philly. What a great twenty-four hours!

Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ [userpic]

Happy new year!

October 27th, 2011 (06:35 pm)

current location: The Victorian Dollhouse
current mood: grateful
current music: The rain outside

It was Deepavali yesterday, the Hindu festival of lights, and today is our new year. (Note my user picture!)

And boy, did I ever have a wonderful time in New York City with csecooney and skogkatt! And ellen_kushner and deliasherman! I'm still smiling. I'll tell you all about it tomorrow.

In the meantime, because I didn't have access to the Internet, happy birthday to Steam-Powered 2: More Lesbian Steampunk Stories, which released yesterday. Claire and I, along with many other awesome people from LJ, have stories in it. I'm so excited!

Here's the table of contents again, and if you're interested, editrix JoSelle Vanderhooft (upstart_crow) is currently taking orders. I believe it should be available on Amazon soon, too.

Or you can go directly to the publisher's site.

Introduction: Kevin Steil (of Airship Ambassador)

"Journey's End," by Elizabeth Porter Birdsall
"Amphitrite," by S.L. Knapp
"In the Heart of Yellow Mountain," by Jaymee Goh
"Playing Chess in New Persepolis," by Sean Holland
"A Thousand Mill Lofts Gray," by Jeannelle Ferreira
"Dark Horse," by A.M. Tuomala
"The Return of Cherie," by Nisi Shawl
"One Last Interruption before We Begin," by Stephanie Lai
"Selin That Has Grown in the Desert," by Alex Dally MacFarlane
"Granada's Library," by Rebecca Fraimow
"The Canary of Candletown," by C.S.E. Cooney
"Fruit Jar Drinkin', Cheatin' Heart Blues," by Patty Templeton
"Deal," by Nicole Kornher-Stace
"Not the Moon but the Stars," by Shveta Thakrar
"The Terracotta Bride," by Zen Cho

Article/Afterword: "Winding Down the House: Taking the Steam out of Steampunk," by Amal El-Mohtar

Finally, here're the first few paragraphs from my story, "Not the Moon But the Stars." Enjoy!

"The moon hung low and still in the clock of the indigo-black sky, a flat, heavy pendulum waiting to be set into motion.

Glancing through the window of the workshop, Padmaja set the hour by the moon's color as it rose: first bone, then ivory mixed with bone, followed by ivory, and finally silver-white and spilling its cool light over the marble palace at the edge of the forest. One day, she would clip its invisible chain with her wire cutters and claim it for her own.

For now, it had inspired her work here on the ground. The jeweled pieces she fashioned robbed her of the bulk of her days, whether a bracelet for this visiting noblewoman or a necklace for that royal cousin's wedding. Her precision and knack for intricate detail made her one of the most sought-after jewelers in all Kapilavastu. But at night, under the gaze of the moon, the familiar constellations, and a small, steaming lantern she wore on her forehead, Padmaja turned her attention to her own secret design: a water-powered moondial. Only then did she let herself imagine the machines King Siddhartha had brought home.

Everyone knew the prophecy of Siddhartha Gautama. Grandparents recounted it to eager children, sisters and brothers traded it like currency. At his naming ceremony, a great sage had proclaimed that the boy's destiny forked before him: one road led to his reign as a king of kings, while the other saw him become a saint of saints. In search of truth, a more mature Siddhartha ventured forth from Kapilavastu, and before long, he'd stumbled upon injustice, old age, death, all things that shattered his innocent heart, all things that kindled his compassion for his fellow beings.

Had he not also come across the miraculous self-sustaining machines fueled by heated water—the part of the story that made Padmaja's heart whisper dreams like the hissing of steam—likely Siddhartha would have stepped onto the path of sainthood, after all."

If you want to read the rest of what happens when Buddha doesn't become Buddha, go grab yourself a copy (either e-book or paper; both are tasty)! ;)

Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ [userpic]

Fall leaves, Friday, and Medusa finds some friends

October 14th, 2011 (12:32 pm)

current location: The Victorian Dollhouse
current mood: happy
current music: Dead Can Dance

So, Sirens!

Yeah, so that topic didn't really make sense. But it will. ;)

Anyway, I promised you a Sirens recap. I didn't get as many pictures as I would've liked, but I did get some, and my awesome presentation partner, rachelmanija, got some, too. So onward!

I got to Denver Airport on Thursday afternoon and found my Sirens folk gathering in a pub. I got to give and get lots of hugs as we lined up for the shuttle, and rachelmanija, starlady38, newsboyhat, and a few people I don't think have LJs and I chatted about books, writing, publishing, and other fun things. The two-hour ride went quickly, surrounding us with glowing aspens and snow-capped peaks, and we soon needed water. Lots of it.

(Vail, as you probably know, is very high up and also dry, so to keep from getting dehydrated, you have to drink wayyyy more than you would otherwise. I bought a liter bottle of water and would refill it two or three times a day. I'm not kidding.)

We arrived, were eagerly greeted by staff, and checked in. I shared a room with the amazing, smart, and hilarious swan_tower, starlady38, and ombriel, who was new to me but awesome. That was a great time.

The elegant ombriel

We registered, got sandwiches and cookies, and then settled in for the first Guest of Honor speech, this one given by Justine Larbalestier. I was so happy to see coraa and meet her husband, jmpava. Justine talked about Elvis and racism and growing up in Australia, and made us all laugh.

Sarah Rees Brennan and Justine discuss collaboration and waves

Then it was bedtime for us exhausted folk.

Friday morning, we got up bright and early, breakfasted, and headed out for various programming. I sat in on praetorianguard's wonderful and angering panel about how female and male characters are viewed in fiction for the exact same traits, then Casey Blair's spirited roundtable on obscure monsters, and finally a paper on L.E.L.'s "The Fairy of the Fountains."

At lunch, Laini Taylor gave her speech about writing and her seventeen-year-old self finding a place in the world, and dessert was apple pie. Laini had also brought her husband Jim and her adorable two-year-old daughter Clementine. What a cutie pie!


After lunch, it was time for Rachel's and my presentation, "Magical and Monstrous Female Beings in South Asian Myth and Folklore." There was enough interest that we had to move to a larger room (!), and I got a little nervous. But things went well. Our PowerPoint presentation worked fine, and after making our disclaimer about sacred stories and folklore being living and vital, Rachel and I alternated between stories and descriptions about the various beings. Rachel had even brought son paapdi, a kind of South Asian sweet, to hand out to the audience.

We'd done as much research as we could, and I learned new things for my novel, which was great. There are so many beings I didn't even know about (and I'm sure more that we missed along the way), and I'd just love to see them become more familiar in the West. They're so fascinating, with their lack of true black-and-white, evil/good dichotomy. They're mostly grey, with some "evil" creatures doing good things and vice versa.

Opening the presentation, we made it clear we are not experts, and we hoped people would go on to do their own research. A lot of people told us there inspired to do exactly that, and they also wanted more world mythology and folkore in fantasy literature. Hooray!

We had to rush to finish, but we did manage to talk at least a little about nagas/naginis, kinnaris, dakinis, and apsaras, among other things. Oh, and Lord Krishna and his penchant for stealing butter.

Me being all serious while talking

After that, we enjoyed afternoon tea, talk, and author signings, so I dragged down my stack of books I'd lugged from home and had the Guests of Honor sign them. I got to chat with them a little, and that was fun.

Then it was time for dinner, so the roomies and I trekked into Vail (okay, a van drove us) for Japanese food and good conversation. We oohed and aahed over the gorgeous golden and orange aspens and the cuteness of the town itself. Then we got very cold while waiting for our ride back. :P

That evening, the Guests of Honor read us wonderful stories they'd written, and we drank hot spiced cider while listening. Yum!

Saturday morning (I went to bed way too late, sigh), I had breakfast and then went off for more programming: metteharrison's roundtable on the celebration and erasure of women, a vibrant and inspiring discussion of female monsters in anime and manga (with coraa, starlady38, and rachelmanija), and a panel on destructive love myths.

During lunch, Nnedi Okorafor gave her speech, telling us about being a monstrous woman from a long line of monstrous women. It was fantastic. (I also ate tiramisù.)


More programming, including a small presentation on songs with female monsters by Bonnie, the guests of honor being interviewed about writing monsters, and a panel on the forthcoming Team Human by Justine and Sarah Rees Brennan. During the afternoon tea, bottles of colored hair spray were available, so of course I had to get pink and sparkles. I mean, come on.

Then a veryyyy long dinner at the hotel restaurant. After that, it was time for the Monster Mash! Just look at the amazing costumes. I was especially in awe of the Octopus Maiden; she made the costume herself. Talent, so much talent, I tell you!

Octopus Maiden [picture by Rachel]

Medusa (me), the Snow Queen (swan_tower), and the Crow (coraa) [picture by Rachel]

A postapocalyptic cyborg (rachelmanija) and her pink-tressed snaky friend [picture by Rachel]

Marionette Zuzana (newsboyhat) from Laini's Daughter of Smoke and Bone [picture by Rachel]

We danced and chatted before bed, and some people sneaked off to a hot tub in the snow. swan_tower also bought me a drink in celebration of the upcoming wedding!

Sunday morning, bleary-eyed roomies (or at least I was bleary-eyed!) headed for the buffet breakfast and auction. Some great prizes were being auctioned off, and coraa ended up winning an amazing monster bag (also made by Erynn, the Octopus Maiden). And because she already had some of the books that came with the bag, she gave me Karen Healey's The Shattering! (Thank you, Cora!) I devoured it on the flight home.

newsboyhat and rachelmanija saying smart things about fantasy novels

So all in all, another fantastic year. This conference is so well done, so smart and full of love and intelligence. I continue to be awed by how much thoughtful consideration and preparation goes into it. I'm wriggling with joy for next year, when the theme will be Tales Retold, and Rachel and I are already brainstorming panel ideas. . .

Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ [userpic]

Mississippi Personhood Amendment

October 12th, 2011 (01:27 pm)

Originally posted by gabrielleabelle at Mississippi Personhood Amendment

Okay, so I don't usually do this, but this is an issue near and dear to me and this is getting very little no attention in the mainstream media.

Mississippi is voting on November 8th on whether to pass Amendment 26, the "Personhood Amendment". This amendment would grant fertilized eggs and fetuses personhood status.

Putting aside the contentious issue of abortion, this would effectively outlaw birth control and criminalize women who have miscarriages. This is not a good thing.

Jackson Women's Health Organization is the only place women can get abortions in the entire state, and they are trying to launch a grassroots movement against this amendment. This doesn't just apply to Mississippi, though, as Personhood USA, the group that introduced this amendment, is trying to introduce identical amendments in all 50 states.

What's more, in Mississippi, this amendment is expected to pass. It even has Mississippi Democrats, including the Attorney General, Jim Hood, backing it.

The reason I'm posting this here is because I made a meager donation to the Jackson Women's Health Organization this morning, and I received a personal email back hours later - on a Sunday - thanking me and noting that I'm one of the first "outside" people to contribute.

So if you sometimes pass on political action because you figure that enough other people will do something to make a difference, make an exception on this one. My RSS reader is near silent on this amendment. I only found out about it through a feminist blog. The mainstream media is not reporting on it.

If there is ever a time to donate or send a letter in protest, this would be it.

What to do?

- Read up on it. Wake Up, Mississippi is the home of the grassroots effort to fight this amendment. Daily Kos also has a thorough story on it.

- If you can afford it, you can donate at the site's link.

- You can contact the Democratic National Committee to see why more of our representatives aren't speaking out against this.

- Like this Facebook page to help spread awareness.

Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ [userpic]

Sirens, interview, and pink hair!

October 10th, 2011 (10:25 am)

current location: The Victorian Dollhouse
current mood: giddy

Oh, my gods, Sirens 2011 was so fantastic! I got back last night around twelve-thirty, and I'm still exhausted, but it was absolutely worth it. So many wonderful people! So many smart things said! I didn't get many pictures, but I'll post the ones I did later and tell you more about it. For now, I just had to squeal a bit. :D

Thank you again, everyone who sponsored me. I'm so grateful (and I'll have lots to say about the presentation, I promise!).

Also, Jaymee Goh (fantasyecho) is running interviews with all the authors in Steam-Powered 2: More Lesbian Steampunk Stories. I can't believe that's out later this month (the twenty-sixth). Aughh! Anyway, my interview went up while I was at Sirens. Enjoy!


Pink hair to follow!

*bounces off*

Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ [userpic]

When stars collide and chaa is consumed

September 27th, 2011 (12:32 pm)

current location: The Victorian Dollhouse
current mood: happy
current music: The A/C

I've managed to contract a sore throat and cold. What wonderful timing, as I'm supposed to leave for a wedding on Thursday and then go to Sirens next Thursday, and of course, finish my presentation. I'll do more work on said presentation in a bit, but first I'm resting and drinking some tea, so I thought I'd make a post.

A couple people have pointed out that I've barely said anything about my own upcoming wedding. This is true, so I'll rectify that now. Honestly, it doesn't feel quite real yet, plus my thoughts have been taken up by events coming up before that, like Sirens and my friend csecooney's play and fall festivals. Not to mention I'm private in some ways, and this is one of them. But I am excited, and I'll share a little of the joy with you.

aryasura and I met back in 1999, and we have been officially dating since 2001, after I came back from my year in Germany. We've had our ups and downs, like anyone, but I can't imagine life without him. Just yesterday, we went to the park and discussed Vedic literature and the fey creatures from that period and later. (He's a scholar of Indian literature and history, which just amazes me.) Who else could I do that with? Not a lot of people, that's for sure.

And he brought me cough drops for this stupid sore throat last night. :) Which were really useful this morning, because I awoke with a fire in my throat. Guh.

So anyway, we're getting married on the nineteenth of November at a Hindu temple near my mother's house. It'll be a traditional Hindu ceremony, though truncated (no five-day celebration, sadly), with garlands and coconuts and a pujari. After a whirlwind shopping trip, we settled on a sari for me. See the picture below! For his part, Ed will wear a sherwani and a saafo (turban). We'll have the ceremony, the reception, and then a garba (Gujarati folk dance)! My cousins promised to sing, which is awesome.

South Asian weddings are known to be very large. Ours won't be. I'm sad some of our friends can't make it, but I'm also glad the size is more intimate, so I'll at least get to say hello to people!

I'll be dressed in this. Sparkly! And red, as is traditional. ;) What do you think?

The back of the choli (blouse) will have the crisscrossing strings pictured here in a different sari called a panetar (and yes, that's me, too):

And now I think it's time for more chaa.