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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)
happy

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)
cheerful

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)
content

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)
cheerful

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)
cheerful
Tags:

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)
creative

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)
happy

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!

Eek!

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)
grateful

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)
happy

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!



Laini!


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.)



Nnedi!


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)
giddy

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!

http://silver-goggles.blogspot.com/2011/10/steam-powered-ii-roundtable-shveta.html

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)
happy

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.

Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ [userpic]

Author Interview: Beth Bernobich on her YA novel Fox and Phoenix

September 26th, 2011 (09:04 am)
tired

current location: The Victorian Dollhouse
current mood: tired
current music: None

Hello, dear readers! Today I surface from the land of trying desperately to meet various deadlines (including Sirens, eep!) long enough to bring you an interview with Beth Bernobich (beth_bernobich), author of the upcoming YA novel Fox and Phoenix. I got to read an early draft of this, and I loved it! It's releasing on 13 October.

Beth in her own words:

"I am a writer. I am also a person who likes to reinvent herself, sometimes in several directions at once. Some of these directions include a year of studying German at Heidelberg Universität, writing speculative fiction, learning karate, and battling the intricacies of software engineering. My obsessions include coffee, curry, and writing about men (and women) without shirts."



1. Fox and Phoenix started out life as a short story in an anthology (Magic in the Mirrorstone: Tales of Fantasy). Could you tell us a bit about the story and how you came to expand its universe into a novel?

"Pig, Crane, Fox" is structured around the old fairy tale about the prince who must perform three impossible tasks in order to win the hand of the princess. In this story, however, the main character isn't a prince. He's a street rat named Kai, and he's more interested in the money than any snobby princess. He and his street gang friends figure out how to crash the contest and get past the first two tasks. Then the princess gives Kai the third task--to fulfill her heart's desire. Kai wins the contest and the money, but in ways he most definitely didn't expect.

After I wrote the short story, several readers told me they wanted to hear more about Kai and his friends. When I thought about it, I realized they were right. Here is a kid who wins his heart's desire, and a princess who wins hers. What comes next after the fairy-tale ending? What if their heart's desire is a dangerous thing?

So I sat down to noodle about what happened next. A couple of things were already in place. Lóng City, where Kai lives, is a small mountain kingdom. More were mentioned in the short story, so I named the region the Seventy Kingdoms. And the Phoenix Empire was already large and wealthy. It was an easy step from there to making the empire hungry to expand its borders. Once the plot fell into place, I knew how to fill in the details.


2. You also write adult novels. What's it like, switching between tones and registers--and juggling so many projects at once?

It helps that each series is very different in tone and register, actually. The difference has nothing to do with YA vs. adult, but the characters themselves.

See, before I can write a story, I have to know the voice and tone for that story. Getting it just right takes some time and maybe a few false starts, but once I'm anchored in the world and the characters, I can slip into the tone without a lot of trouble. So when I write about Kai, I know how he thinks and talks. He cares about his friends and his mother. He also likes to snark. All that determines what he thinks about and how he expresses himself. Ilse from Passion Play is almost the same age as Kai, but her background is so very different, there's no mistaking her story for his. Even when I add in more viewpoints to Ilse's story, the theme of the books, and the characters themselves, are so different from Kai and his friends, that I have no trouble going between the two. It's almost like switching radio channels.

At some point, I'd like to write a YA book that riffs off Mansfield Park, but with polyamory and folk magic. The tone there would be closer to my River of Souls books, but definitely YA in focus. That's when I'll likely have more trouble switching between projects, but we'll see how it goes. *g*


3. Like me, you spent a year studying in Germany when you were an undergraduate student. Mir fehlt Deutschland! What's your favorite memory from that time?

I have so many wonderful memories of that year, but here's one that always comes back to me. My friend Diane and I decided to take a weekend away from our studies to travel. It was December and the day before my birthday. We landed in a small town we had picked out and spent some time wandering through the Christkindlmarkt (Christmas Market) and eating grilled wurst we bought from a street vendor. Eventually we headed toward the youth hostel.

Except the directions we had didn't quite match the streets. After a while, it started to snow, and we hurried, thinking that we would never make it to the hostel before the 7PM curfew. We were still shy with our German, and everyone we passed seemed in too much of a hurry to ask for directions. Finally, with the sky darkening and our backpacks getting heavier and heavier, we paused to review our useless map. A couple fresh-faced boys came by, walking slowly. "Excuse me," we said in our slow, careful German. "Could you tell us where the youth hostel is?"

They all looked at each other. One of them grinned and pointed down the street. "Right there."

We blinked. Indeed, there it was, a miniature fairy-tale castle, all luminous white and turreted, with snow swirling all about it in the falling dusk. It really did look magical.

(Postscript: we had the girls' room to ourselves. Dinner was delivered by dumbwaiter, and when the innkeeper saw our passports, and that my birthday was the next day, she cooked us an extra large breakfast on the house.)


4. Do you have any recommendations for multicultural novels that don't get a lot of press (or that most people haven't heard of)?

Nnedi Okorafor is getting attention, but I think we can't mention her name often enough. I just finished her adult novel Who Fears Death, which is simply amazing. Right away, I plunged into her YA novel, Akata Witch, which is equally amazing in its own way, and I'm sure I will end up buying all her other books. Everyone else should too.


5. What can readers expect from you in the future? Will you be writing more books in the world of Fox and Phoenix?

My next few books are from my River of Souls fantasy series from Tor Books. Queen's Hunt comes out next year in July. Allegiance, which comes out the following year, ends the trilogy, but there's a fourth stand-alone book, The Edge of the Empire, which tells the story of Ilse and Raul in a previous lifetime.

Once those are done, yes, I want to write more books about Kai and the Seventy Kingdoms. I have detailed notes for a possible sequel to Fox and Phoenix, which I'm calling The Phoenix War. And just recently, I had the glimmer of an idea for a story told from Kai's son's point of view.


6. Do you have a favorite recipe you'd like to share?

Yes! I love all kinds of food, but one recipe that I love for chilly autumn days is Chicken and Sausage Cassoulet. It's easy to make, it tastes great, and the leftovers are also delicious. I discovered it when I was teaching my son how to cook.

CHICKEN AND SAUSAGE CASSOULET

5 chicken drumsticks
1 pound turkey sausage
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cans cannellini beans (white kidney beans), drained
2 teaspoons basil
2 teaspoons oregano
2 tablespoons parsley
olive oil
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine
2 bay leaves

Brown the drumsticks in a large skillet with olive oil, then set them aside in a large bowl.
Brown the sausage and add that to the same bowl.
Add the chicken broth and wine to the skillet and simmer until the liquid reduces to half.
Pour the liquid over the chicken and sausage.
Add beans, onion, garlic, carrots, celery, and spices into your crockpot and stir thoroughly.
Layer the drumsticks and sausage on top of this mixture.
Pour the liquid on top of all this.
Cook on *high* for 3 hours or *low* for 6 hours.


7. Pick a question you would like to be asked and answer it.

Okay, I have one. What's the hardest part about writing for me?

Getting it right. I love research, and I love exploring new-to-me worlds and languages and cultures, whether those are based strictly on the real world or entirely new worlds that Fred-the-Plot-Guy (my muse) dropped on my head.

But fantasy doesn't mean you just make stuff up. You have to make it plausible, which means research. And if you're writing alternate history (which I do), you need to research what did happen, deep enough that you can convince readers about what might have happened. And if you do draw inspiration from real-world history and languages and cultures, you need to be thorough. Get the names right. Get the allusions right. Get everything right, or as right as you can. Double-check your sources. Then check again.

What often keeps me awake at night is the nagging suspicion that I didn't check my research enough, or that I missed something vital. Once, when I was proofreading my Middle High German magic language for Passion Play, and cursing diacriticals, I wondered if I should stick to the so-called easy stuff. (Whatever that is.) But then I thought, no, I write--and read--fantasy because I want to discover the new. So no matter how often I stress about getting things wrong, I keep on with the new and the different. I do more research. I try to learn from my mistakes, and aim to write a better book. Because that's what makes it all worthwhile.




You can learn more about Beth and her books at her website. I also highly recommend checking out her free short story, "Pig, Crane, Fox," to get a taste of Kai and his world.

Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ [userpic]

Say Yes to Gay YA and Main Characters of Color!

September 12th, 2011 (05:29 pm)
determined

current location: The Victorian Dollhouse
current mood: determined
current music: 2002's "Child of the Sun"

rachelmanija, my awesome friend and Sirens partner, and sartorias, also amazing and inspiring, have just gone public on Publishers Weekly with their experience of trying to get an agent with a novel featuring characters who were both people of color and gay. It. . .was not good.

Say Yes To Gay YA

By Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith

We are published authors who co-wrote a post-apocalyptic young adult novel. When we set out to find an agent for it, we expected to get some rejections. But we never expected to be offered representation… on the condition that we make a gay character straight, or cut him out altogether.

Our novel Stranger has five viewpoint characters; one, Yuki Nakamura, is gay and has a boyfriend. Yuki's romance, like the heterosexual ones in the novel, involves nothing more explicit than kissing.

An agent from a major agency, one which represents a bestselling YA novel in the same genre as ours, called us.

The agent offered to sign us on the condition that we make the gay character straight, or else remove his viewpoint and all references to his sexual orientation.


Go read, and please consider reposting the article. And if you tweet the link, use the hash tag #YesGayYA.

One day, things will change. We just have to keep working toward it.

Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ [userpic]

Blowing kisses in the wind

September 3rd, 2011 (05:20 pm)
contemplative

current location: A coffee shop
current mood: contemplative
current music: The coffee machine

This is more a post for me than for anyone else. I'm sure people are off enjoying the weekend. I'm currently in a coffee shop, working on my novel rewrite.

Writing's been taking up a lot of my time, but another reason I haven't been posting is the sheer amount of depressing things I've been seeing happen. I'm not just talking about the hurricane the East Coast of the U.S. just got slapped with but rather the things human beings do. I'm a big believer in all of us blossoming like lotuses (think Buddhism), but it's hard not to get discouraged sometimes. Lately, there've been so many reminders of the ugliness in the world, so many instances of the egoic pastime of attacking others and refusing to show to empathy.

It makes me sick. I mean that physically. I am a friendly person, but I also suffer from a degree of social anxiety, and recently, I've been wanting to pull away from the strangers I see on the street instead of being open in love. Seeing all these things, seeing how long we still have to go on so many fronts, just exhausts me and makes me shut down. I'm so tired. I hate that people have to worry about how they are perceived purely on the color of their skin. I hate that many people of color I know have been stalked and threatened for daring to speak up. I hate that my gay friends receive hate mail for wanting to marry. I hate that my writer friends are told they need to make their characters white, straight, and able-bodied if they want agent representation, if they want to sell their novels. I hate that so many people think a woman's role is to be seen and not heard. I see how white and straight and able-bodied the output of the publishing industry tends to be, the way so many people refuse to question any kind of privilege, and I wonder why I'm even bothering.

I see so many inequalities in the world, and I am sad. I am so tired, I don't want to try anymore. I just want to unplug and disappear. I feel like the weight of all of this is so huge, and it squeezes my heart into a pulp, and I can't really do anything to change any of it. Who the hell am I?

But something inside nudges me to keep opening, to keep loving. To keep going. There are no guarantees with any of this. I may never sell this novel, and if I do, it might disappear into the great ocean of books with nary a splash, but I have to try, anyway. I have to keep talking about diversity and standing up for it, even when people say stupid things in response. I have to do it because someone has to do it, and the more of us who do, the greater chance we have of transforming the world.

As Mohandas K. Gandhi said, you have to be the change you want to see in the world. If we don't do it, who will?

I'm trying, and I'm so grateful for all of you who are trying, too. Thank you.

Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ [userpic]

What happens after happily ever after? Interview with Samantha Sotto

August 29th, 2011 (10:13 am)
chipper

current location: The Victorian Dollhouse
current mood: chipper
current music: The Thompson Twins' "If You Were Here"

Well, this past week was. . .interesting. First we had an earthquake (at least it didn't do more in our area than shake my chair and then our house), and this past weekend, we enjoyed a hurricane. Again, it wasn't too bad in our area, except for knocking out power for a day. We just got it back about twenty minutes ago, which means I can post this. :)

I know people elsewhere in the state had terrible flooding and damage, and I send love to them. May September be a kinder month to the East Coast.

For now, I've got an interview for you with Samantha Sotto, author of the debut novel Before Ever After!

About Before Ever After: Three years after her husband Max's death, Shelley feels no more adjusted to being a widow than she did that first terrible day. That is, until the doorbell rings. Standing on her front step is a young man who looks so much like Max--same smile, same eyes, same age, same adorable bump in his nose--he could be Max's long-lost relation. He introduces himself as Paolo, an Italian editor of American coffee table books, and shows Shelley some childhood photos. Paolo tells her that the man in the photos, the bearded man who Paolo says is his grandfather though he never seems to age, is Max. Her Max. And he is alive and well.

As outrageous as Paolo's claims seem--how could her husband be alive? And if he is, why hasn't he looked her up?

Sam in her own words:

"In an alternate universe, I am Dr. Who’s faithful companion, traveling through time with him and constantly rearranging furniture on the TARDIS. I am also Oprah’s best friend and Ellen’s favorite Friday night poker buddy. And did I mention that I have legs that would make Giselle Bundchen hang her head down in shame? In this one, I am a five foot two rabid Dr. Who fan (I miss you David Tennant) who still can’t imagine her life without the Oprah show, but is consoling herself with large doses of Ellen and bread pudding."





1. Before Ever After straddles genres: mystery, magical realism, romance--even a tour through time. Could you tell us a bit about how this novel came to be?

The Doctor Who marathon I emerged from may have had something to do with it ;-) Having said that, I'd like to clarify that while Before Ever After does span several historical periods, it is not a book about time travel. It does, however, have different narrative timelines.

The idea for the book popped into my head when I was stuck in traffic. Max, my main character, hitched a ride with me and introduced himself. I learned five things about him: he had a penchant for not dying, he was a tour guide, he believed he could get through anything if he had a chicken, he had a grandson who was as "old" as him, and he had a widow named Shelley.


2. As a debut author, what's the publishing process been like for you? Any surprises along the way?

The entire process has been a surprise. The biggest shock has been how my sense of time has changed. The agent hunt and the submission period to publishers felt excruciatingly slow. Lately though, things are moving so fast that it's all a blur. If you find the pause button, let me know.


3. So you like poker, Dr. Who, and bread pudding, but what’s something your readers might not know about you?

(Confession: I cannot play poker to save my life. I just threw it in there is case Ellen popped by my blog and needed to fill a seat. :D)

I got engaged after jumping out of an airplane.


4. Do you have any recommendations for multicultural novels that don't get a lot of press (or that most people haven't heard of)?

Lime Tree Can't Bear Orange by Amanda Smyth. It's a lush, absorbing, and textured story set against the backdrop of the Caribbean.


5. What can readers expect from you in the future?

If I manage to survive writing the chapter-that-is-trying-to-slurp-my-brain-out-with-a-straw, a second (standalone) book could be on the horizon.


6. Do you have a favorite recipe you'd like to share--like, oh, the super delicious-sounding baked eggs recipe Max makes with eggs from his beloved chickens?

I still can't divulge Max's secret recipe, but I did share some of the fave baked eggs recipes that we like to cook at home on the The Recipe Club.

http://www.therecipeclub.net/2011/08/02/egg-recipes-from-author-samantha-sotto/


7. Pick a question you would like to be asked and answer it.

What is the meaning of life?

*shakes Magic Eight Ball* "YES."




Thanks so much, Sam! Readers, you can learn more about Sam and her upcoming projects at her website.

Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ [userpic]

Reaching for all the diamonds in the sky, she came away with a fistful of stars

August 23rd, 2011 (09:14 am)
happy

current location: The Victorian Dollhouse
current mood: happy
current music: Dead Can Dance's "Fortune Presents Gifts Not According to the Book"

Good morning, everyone! I haven't posted in a few weeks, and I'm startled to find out it's nearing the end of August. Where did the summer go?

But in some ways, I'm glad and eager for the coming of autumn, with its fiery foliage and pumpkins and deep, bright blue skies. For now, though, it's still summer, and there's work to be done.

First of all, I have some seriously wonderful news. Thank you, everyone, who boosted my signal and/or donated to help get me to Sirens. My goal had been--well, let me show you.




I can't put change in there, but the total after PayPal fees is $534.64. I am so touched and amazed, I could hug you all. Thank you so very, very much! ♥ rachelmanija and I have an awesome presentation to put together now.

(And to think that certain lovelies in my life had a backup plan in case this didn't work. . .it brings tears of joy to my eyes.)


♥♥♥


I've been craving beauty and whimsy and inspiration lately, so I bought myself this bookmark from Etsy (I do love tea and should endeavor to drink it more!) and joined an intentional swap community, starblessedswap, started by my friend songtoisis. I'm super excited about both these things.



Handmade teapot bookmark!


In other sparkly news, aryasura and I went shopping for my wedding sari and bought it this past weekend. The choli and petticoat are being sewn this week. Wow. Just a couple months to go (the date of the wedding is 19 November). We also need to find a saafo for him and get our plane tickets.

On the writing front, I love that I've been gaining pen pals lately, and I owe two of them letters (and thanks for terrific mix CDs and perfect tiny seashells), which I hope to get to this week. First, though, I'm working on my novel. I'm up to chapter six, and I love those moments when writing is actually fun, and I'm excited to see what happens next. Even though this is the fourth draft, it's turning out to be a rewrite--and that's for the best. My writing's improved a lot since I started the novel, and when I'm ready to query (hopefully later this year), I want to send out the best manuscript I can.

So that's that. :)

I'm just really happy and full right now, feeling love on all sides and from within. It's pretty fantastic.

I have to pay a water bill and then get to work on the aforementioned chapter six, so off I go! Love to you all.

Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ [userpic]

Internet hiatus

August 8th, 2011 (02:00 pm)
drained

current location: The library (where there's A/C!)
current mood: drained
current music: None

I'm feeling a bit emotionally and physically run down--thank you, neverending heat wave--and I think a chance to ground myself a bit would be a good thing. So I'm taking this week and maybe next off from the Internet (not e-mail; I'm not that brave). I don't know how all of you manage LiveJournal, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc., and get anything else done! Color me mystified. (That's a light shade of lavender-grey, in case you were wondering.)

But before I go, a couple notes. First, thank you again, all who donated and boosted the signal to help get me to Sirens. I'm just a hundred dollars short of the goal, which is amazing. You are all so wonderful. ♥

Also, one of my family members is currently in the intensive care unit of the hospital. I know that's a bit vague, but to protect her privacy, I'd rather not give details. If you feel moved to, please send love/good energy/prayers her way. Thank you so much, and be well.