So I do. I yawn and throw my arm over my eyes and make fake snoring sounds, while she sneaks up on me with her hands poised like a tiny T-Rex on the prowl. When she jumps on me, I squeal in mock terror and tickle her. She falls over me in gales of toddler laughter.
It’s a rare moment I wish I could capture somehow and hold forever. Her laughter, our easy play. She’s not screaming at me and running away. Her face hasn’t crumpled, her little canines haven’t poked out of her mouth like they do when she’s ramping up for a major tantrum.
I actually have to remind myself of these things. To tell myself it’s OK. And at the same time to just stay gentle, to not press for more. That’s where we get into trouble.
“Sleep, Mama!” she yells again when she sees me thinking too much.
It’s been seven months since we came home from China with our daughter. I can faintly remember what the Before was like. ( And then there’s the After...Collapse )
It looks like this:
Obligatory jacket copy: Science and magic mean danger in this sequel to The Unnaturalists, which School Library Journal called “an entertaining mix of steampunk and fantasy.”
After Vespa, Syrus, and Bayne defeated the Grue and restored order to their world in The Unnaturalists, they thought their future was secure. Empress Olivia, committed to peace and equality for humans and Elementals alike, was a fair and just ruler. And the Creeping Waste had vanished, giving them hope for the first time.
But rebellion is brewing in the far-off city of Scientia, and dark Elementals are plotting war in the ruins of New London. Before they know what’s happening, Vespa, Syrus, and their friends are plunged into a new swamp of intrigue, deception and magic—and the cost of survival may be more than any of them are willing to pay.
And you can find it here, here, and here.
You will also be able to find it at MystiCon, where I will be next weekend (Feb. 21-23).
Here's my schedule:
Friday, Feb 21, 2014, 6pm – The Evolution of YA Literature, Board Room 1
Do the topics and settings for YA seem to be more adult than young? Are the backdrops of violence and cruelty becoming more pronounced? What is left to separate “young adult” from “adult” fiction? Is it merely the age of the protagonist or is there something more?
Saturday, Feb 22, 11 am – Whodunnit?, BallRoom C, 11am
How do you keep your reader from knowing whodunnit before you’re ready? What are the challenges of writing suspenseful mysteries.
12pm - Signing w/artist Brandy Strock, Dealers Rm
Books available for purchase!
3 pm - TINKER KING launch party, Hospitality Suite, 3 pm
Cupcakes courtesy of Bubblecake Bake Shop!! ;-)
Sunday, Feb 23, 1pm - Collaboration: Clash or Connection?, Board Rm 1
Ever wonder how creatives collaborate? Come learn some of the pitfalls and advantages as writers, artists and musicians discuss their collaborative efforts.
In mid-September, I was very fortunate to be a guest at Casper College's Literary Conference in Casper, Wyoming. I was quite flattered to receive the invitation, but I had no idea what kind of impact this conference was going to have on me. None whatsoever.
I hadn't really had time to research the other guests--Kelly Sue DeConnick and Layli Long Soldier. If I had, I'd probably have been too intimidated to go.
Kelly Sue writes comics for Marvel--comics like AVENGERS ASSEMBLE, CAPTAIN MARVEL, and a host of others. (Her project list made my jaw drop). She is also publishing her first creator-owned comic, PRETTY DEADLY, this month. Layli teaches and writes amazing poetry in Dineh land (aka the Navajo reservation in AZ). With our powers combined, we were...simply awesome.
I was very inspired by Kelly Sue's talk about women in comics and the true meaning of feminism. (I didn't get to hear Layli because she spoke opposite me both days). I had never realized how freaking hard it is for women to get into comics. But I also realized as she spoke that while I have always secretly been fascinated by comics, I have felt it was the province of men and adolescent boys--not a place where I would be welcome. (Much like gaming, incidentally).
And yet, I think comics are really, really cool. Back in the day, when we were teens, my then-boyfriend (now-husband) and I used to go to the comic book store together. We collected all the Jademan comics we could get in translation--Oriental Heroes, Iron Fist...a bunch of others I can't remember. We placed them carefully in protective sleeves and still have them to this day. I can remember being inspired by Tiger Wong and his friends into writing wuxia-esque stories. I remember the comic SHI that came out soon after--I think I got two issues before I stopped, already tired of the bizarrely proportioned, endlessly contorted (and mentally tortured) main character.
And the thing was--I didn't feel welcome in a comic book store by myself. It was as if I was alone in a porn store.
I stopped reading comics after Jademan ceased English publication. Briefly, I picked it back up again when my beloved Battle of the Planets was made into a comic by Top Cow, but when that stopped, so did I.
I just didn't realize that my avoidance of comics and comic book stores (and much of gamer culture that is attached to it) comes from feeling out of place, from feeling unwanted, from not being able to find anything that felt inviting reflected in the racks. (It also stems a lot from being forbidden it in early youth by well-meaning but overly strict parents who thought D&D was of the devil. It was the 80s, what can I say?)
When I got home from the conference, though, I marched into our local comic/gaming shop. I couldn't believe how nervous I felt. When I got there just after 5, the tables were swarmed with young men gaming. I spoke to a guy in a Punisher baseball cap who carefully took my order. As I was waiting on him to get everything set up in his computer, my gaze fell on a young woman--the only other female in the shop besides me--standing slightly off to the side of one of the gaming tables. She wore a long Doctor Who scarf, like armor or a talisman. She didn't say anything and no one spoke to her. No one invited her to sit down. No one asked if she wanted to be involved, though she was clearly interested. It was also clear that this was not an uncommon tableau--this girl watching these boys, standing silent and respectful like a kid in gym class hoping to be picked for the winning team. Except that she never is.
Her presence bothered me in ways I couldn't explain. I ordered PRETTY DEADLY by Kelly Sue DeConnick and COFFIN HILL by Caitlin Kittredge, trying not to let my voice tremble, trying to ignore the twisting in my gut. It is hard enough for me to say what I want. It's so much harder in a domain where women so often are adamantly not wanted. My gaze met the girl's before I left, and I wished I'd said...something. She gave me a faltering smile before I left, and I returned it as best I could.
I was even more troubled to learn the next day that my fears about that girl were correct. After I told the story to a coworker, he told me that she'd been standing there FOR YEARS waiting to join in, wanting to be involved, silently watching. Everyone treated her as a nuisance they ignored. No one even knew her name.
This? Needs to stop.
I don't know if my going into the shop helps anything. But I really hope that going into the shop and ordering comic books by women comics writers will somehow make room at the table. It is absolutely RIDICULOUS in this day and age that a young woman should be so shunned for wanting to be part of something. Comics belong to all of us. Books belong to all of us. No one should be shunned for wanting to be part of something awesome.
I had not yet learned to drink coffee. I was still getting over jetlag. I had just been called home a few weeks prior. I had given up my dream dayjob working for a wildlife conservation organization in Hong Kong. I was destitute and adrift and had no idea how I would make ends meet.
The reason was sitting on the couch under a blanket, unable to eat and barely able to drink.
Everything about my father had withered in the cruel pincers of cancer. Everything except his voice.
That morning, he was watching the news. I was ignoring everything as hard as I could, sunk in my own world, writing a novel as though it was my only salvation.
When he called for me, I ignored him the first few times. Finally, the urgency in his voice dragged me out of the kitchen chair I used at my makeshift desk.
“Some idiot just flew into the Twin Towers!” he said. They showed a picture of the burning, collapsing building. I couldn’t figure out what I was seeing at first.
Then, we heard about Pennsylvania.
Then, the Pentagon.
We watched the plane strike the Twin Towers over and over, and each time, the knife slid deeper into our hearts. I looked over at my father’s sunken face. His earlobes hung down like the Buddha’s almost to his shoulders. His neck and shoulders were so thin and frail, I couldn’t see how he held his head up.
But it was his eyes that seemed to stop my heart. The betrayal and hurt there was worse than any repeated image on the news. In that moment, the America he loved and had fought for during Vietnam vanished. Even though he survived three more years, I think a part of my father died that day. He never fully recovered from that blow.
We didn’t say anything to one another. I just went outside and stood under a flawless blue September sky, silent and empty for the first time in my entire life. There were no words.
However, I feel I would be remiss if I didn't mention our wonderful news. We were finally matched with our daughter on August 5th and have received the Letter of Acceptance from the Chinese government! (Usually the letter takes 2-3 months to arrive. It our case, it took a week. I'm still flabbergasted!)
It happened in pretty much the classic fairytale story of adoption. We got the call at 9:30 at night, just as our adoption agent was emailing us the file. I opened the file and the first thing I saw was her picture. I wish I could show it to you, but unfortunately I can't just yet. However, it was pretty much immediate love and recognition and a feeling of 'Yes, you. You are the one we've been waiting for.'
We are in the midst of a flurry of more paperwork, but it's quite possible we'll be traveling within the next 2-3 months if all goes well. At first, before the letter came so quickly, we were told it would be 4-6 months, so now I am frantically trying to Do All The Things. Despite having two years and the nursery mostly ready, there's still a lot to get done!
The last steps are to get approval from US immigration and then get her visa and our travel approval from China. We just sent off the US paperwork today, so fingers crossed that it will all go smoothly.
The good news is that we will in all likelihood have her home for the holidays, and I just can't tell you how exciting that is, after a decade of disappointment every holiday. I know it will probably be hard for her, but just having her here and exploring her new world with her is a better gift than any other I can imagine.
Despite this being the ultimate goal, I am still in shock that all this is really happening. It has been a long, painful road. But dulcius ex asperis. It is all the sweeter for so much difficulty.
After Vespa, Syrus and Bayne defeated the Grue and restored order to their world, they thought their future was secure. Empress Olivia, committed to peace and equality for humans and Elementals alike, was a fair and just ruler. And the Creeping Waste had vanished for good, giving them hope for the first time.
But rebellion is brewing in the far-off city of Scientia, and dark Elementals are plotting war in the ruins of New London. When a wave of unimaginable terror threatens to destroy everything in its path, Vespa, Syrus and their friends are plunged into a new swamp of intrigue, deception and magic---and the cost of survival may be more than any of them are willing to pay.
The book is available for pre-order and will release on Feb. 11, 2014.
All good things.
It sounds as though the Ministry Initiative Kickstarter has been fully funded, so you will also see a short story from me about the desolation of Yuanmingyuan in 1860 and wereleopards. And awesomeness from many other steampunk authors.
Next year, I look forward to sharing the e-novella about a certain Mr. Waddingly...
Lots to anticipate! Excelsior!
One of the things I love about steampunk is the chance to explore the Steam Age from a variety of angles and cultural viewpoints. The author team of Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris is definitely pushing the envelope with their Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series (PHOENIX RISING and THE JANUS AFFAIR), with missions from the Ministry taking place all around the world.
Ever since my last visit to Beijing in 2005, I’ve been fascinated by Yuanmingyuan, the Old Summer Palace. It was razed to the ground during the Anglo-French Invasion, and it’s still a very sore spot for Beijing natives. I have always wanted to write something about those ruins because they fascinated and hurt me with their ravished beauty, but I never knew what to write. When Pip & Tee invited me to write for the Ministry Initiative, the old wheels started turning and the destruction of Yuanmingyuan became the setting of my story. I’m very thankful Tee & Pip were on board with this!
Galileo Games and Imagine That! Studios have teamed up to bring you an ambitious steampunk project! The Ministry Initiative is a two-part creative endeavor that will not only premiere new fiction from the steampunk world of the Ministry but also present a brand new role playing game from the makers of Bulldogs! and the ENnie Award winning game Shelter in Place. Thrill to the tales in Ministry Protocol anthology, or join in as an Agent in The Ministry Initiative RPG.
To celebrate this endeavor, I'm offering up a free e-copy of my short story, "Chinoiserie," for your delectation when the anthology becomes available. To enter to win, all you have to do is comment on this post by midnight, May 29th. A winner will be chosen via random number generator. And of course I will happily e-ship internationally. Find out more about this endeavor and support the Kickstarter here: http://bit.ly/ministry-initiative
In a less than a week, I'll tell you about the short story just finished for the Ministry Initiative. As part of the blog hop to promote the Kickstarter, I'm giving away some steampunky goodness. Keep your eyes peeled!
Also, I am working on a novella set in the Unnaturalists universe, which should be available in e-edition only sometime this fall. No title yet, but it involves a certain Mr. Waddingly, for those of you who may wonder more about the nefarious Charles. ;-)
Lastly, you'll see me in Casper, WY this September for the Equality State Book Festival. More on that to come!