Deirdre Saoirse Moen

Sounds Like Weird

You Get One Shot To Fix Things

20 June 2013

Trigger warning.
I’ve been on the Internet a long time. I’ve seen everything from the first spam onward.
I entered my first internet controversy in 1993. I’m sure you’re all shocked. This resulted in attempted (but failed) personal harassment in 1995. That feud is still ongoing and has its own Wikipedia page.
So you might say that I’m no stranger to the long-term consequences of Internet tiffs.
My observation is that there are two basic rules for companies who are primarily Internet-based:

  1. You get one business day for a response. Two at most.
  2. Your first response is critical.

So, about Kickstarter.
Specifically, about the Kickstarter for Above the Game: A Guide to Getting Awesome With Women. (Update: now archived here)
Nothing in the Kickstarter copy specifically says that the guy is promoting rape tips. This is an important point.
However, Casey Malone did more research. He came up with the following quote from his reddits:

Pull out your cock and put her hand on it. Remember, she is letting you do this because you have established yourself as a LEADER. Don’t ask for permission, GRAB HER HAND, and put it right on your dick.

That? Is assault. It is also disgusting. It was also, per his implication on the Kickstarter page, part of the content of the book.
So here’s Kickstarter’s official response:

Update, 6:51 p.m. EST: Kickstarter emailed a statement to The Raw Story regarding both the project and the public response:
Kickstarter reviews projects based on our guidelines and the information creators share on their project pages. It’s a process we’ve refined over four years and continue to refine daily. We strive for fair and thoughtful policies that maintain the health of the Kickstarter ecosystem.
This morning, material that a project creator posted on Reddit earlier this year was brought to our and the public’s attention just hours before the project’s deadline. Some of this material is abhorrent and inconsistent with our values as people and as an organization. Based on our current guidelines, however, the material on Reddit did not warrant the irreversible action of canceling the project.
As stewards of Kickstarter we sometimes have to make difficult decisions. We followed the discussion around the web today very closely. It led to a lot of internal discussion and will lead to a further review of our policies.

I’m sure you’re all sobbing about this decision. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it all that much more when you’re in the unemployment line kicking yourself for not standing up for the women and men who have been raped. Or cosmic irony, which I do not wish for in this case.
But if you have a company that thinks men forcing women’s hands onto men’s dicks isn’t against company policy, I pity the women, if any, you have at your workplace. (Update: link to list of Kickstarter employees.) And I think your workplace needs to cease to exist.
About rape. I have been raped. I don’t generally make a big deal out of it. In fact, I tend to minimize it in the way women pull that bullshit for reasons listed in the post I’m about to link to.
Therefore, I’m going to end this with what I think is the most useful post I’ve ever read about rape culture and how women respond during and after rape: Harriet’s Another Post About Rape.
Brilliant.

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Clarion Write-a-Thon

19 June 2013

Every year, the Clarion workshop at UCSD has a fundraiser where they encourage alumni (and, well, anyone) to participate in the annual write-a-thon as a fundraiser. The dates of the write-a-thon overlap the workshop itself, reminding us how crazy we were to do nothing but write, edit, and critique for six weeks.
I’ll be participating, thought it’s going to be interesting to see how much writing I’ll actually get done given that I’ll have an epic case of jetlag most of the time the workshop is running. In other words, it’ll be just like 2002 all over again!
Because the write-a-thon formally ends before my return, it won’t literally be an around-the-world write-a-thon trip.
You can sponsor me here.
Keffy also has a great post and is totally worth sponsoring too.
Of this year’s faculty, I went to grad school with Nalo Hopkinson, and she taught a couple of workshops I was in. Karen Joy Fowler was one of my Clarion instructors.
Write-a-Thon

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How Will They Know?

13 June 2013

Some years ago, Rick and I sat listening to a panel of some TV writers talking about their experiences in Hollywood. Neither of us remember the writer in question or the name of the proposed show, but we both remembered the punch line, and I think it’s an important one.
It’s one of those that’ll stick with you.
Before Buffy, the proposed TV show (never produced) about vampires was going to feature a major character who was a Moor, centuries old, educated at Oxford. Or maybe Cambridge.
One of the network execs giving notes said, “He doesn’t sound black.”
Writer explains character’s background and education.
Network exec says, “How will they know he’s black?”

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On Lady Professionals

08 June 2013

Once upon a time, when I was talking casually with a guy about bringing me in for an interview, he asked, me, “So how do you feel about working in a group that’s almost all men?”

Until that point, I hadn’t really thought about it. The reality of my job as a software engineer has been that I’ve been surrounded by men in my professional life. Fortunately, I like men. Bunches.

What I very rarely say, though, is how male dominated it has been. For the first sixteen years I worked as a software engineer, I worked with no female software engineer peers.

Zero.

Just imagine what it would be like to work in your field, whatever it happens to be, with every one of your same-sex peers erased. For sixteen years.

What’s perhaps odder in retrospect was that it didn’t seem the least bit strange until this guy lampshaded it quite a few years later. I wrote down everyone I’d worked with at every company and what they did. Surely I’d missed some woman somewhere.

Nope.

Part of this was the type of programming I was doing: I started out in scientific programming. I didn’t work (as I do now) for a large company in a large team that has a large percentage of women (less than half, but the highest percentage of women I’ve ever worked with). Even when I previously worked as a consultant for a large company on a team of almost 40 people, there were two other women, but neither were software engineers. Thirty-odd of us software engineers, and I was the odd.

So I guess part of how I feel in the whole SF/F thing is: I feel no less welcome than I have in my day job career. Which is: it basically hasn’t been an issue for me.

Oh sure, there was the one boss who was trying to overthrow all women of power. He, uh, Got Resigned. And there was his replacement, who was worse. I could tell you stories, but they’re frankly the kind of thing you wouldn’t believe in a novel, much less in reality. But I can say that he didn’t act sexist toward me. Flying his “admin” back and forth every week, though, that was another story. That’s two bad apples, and there were many good ones.

I was never treated as though I was there simply because I was female. Nor was I treated like I was unique because I was female. I was just another person, there to do a job.

I’ve worked with quite a few non-white software engineers (and managers) over the years, but in my entire career, I’ve only worked with two who were black: one was an African immigrant, and the other was an African-American man who was just beginning the transition from support staff to engineering. I’ve also worked with a number of LGBT* folks, too, though I suspect I’ve worked with more than I’ve known about.

So, coming from my professional background, the field of SF/F has felt to me like it’s stuffed to the rafters with talented and diverse people, except for the relative paucity of Indian SF/F writers relative to the numbers I’ve known professionally.

No one ever called me a “lady software engineer,” nor would they have been able to do so twice. So I sure as hell am not a “lady writer ”or “lady editor,” either.

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Hotel Program Points Expiration

07 June 2013

I logged into Award Wallet the other day and noticed my Hyatt points were about to expire. Because I’ve been pushing to re-qualify for Hilton Diamond, my hotel stays have lacked diversity.

This post from Million Mile Secrets has links to a bunch of hotel affinity program expiration policies and how to keep your hard-earned points from expiring.

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The Outrage Machine Is on Vacation

04 June 2013

I was hoping to make some salient points on the whole SFWA matter, especially given that (as with many of us) Resnick’s been one of my editors.
However, I’ve spent the last few days in the Second World, and I’m rather overwhelmed by some of the following:
1. Crossing the battlefields of Balaclava, Ukraine (of The Thin Red Line and Charge of the Light Brigade fame).
2. Visiting Novorossiysk, a city with a population of 24,000, bombed so severely that the only surviving residents were a mother, her two children, and their grandmother.
3. Seeing the famed Potemkin steps in Odessa.
4. Spending time in Romania, where Rick last was during the time of Ceausescu (he visited many of the same sites in 1978), and hearing about then vs. now.
5. What may have hit me the hardest: going to a long-secret Soviet submarine base in Balaclava and walking behind several layers of super-thick blast doors where 1000 people regularly lived — all developed because they were afraid of us. (The USA)
Additionally, we just landed in Istanbul (where there’s been a lot of rioting), a person I know has been raped and another person I respect has died, and I just can’t work up the energy on an issue that doesn’t involve issues as severe as any of the above.
However, I can insert my generic short form internet blow-up thoughts here:
1. There’s a reason my license plate is XKCD 386.
2. People are complex, and too often on this issue, I see parties from both/several sides reducing the other to one dimension that is unjust. This doesn’t mean there aren’t real issues, mind, just that I’m tired of rhetorical bullshit.
3. People feel obligated to be on the “right” side when the cards land, sometimes pressuring other people to shun someone. This is evil. I’ve been in a cult with shunning and I don’t do that. Sure, I may choose not to speak to someone, but it may just be I’m tired of completely different shit. Maybe they talk too much about Ohio. Or Cancun.
4. I’m not the kind of person who holds a grudge. I do think people need to be called on their bullshit, and if you call me on mine respectfully, I will appreciate you more for doing so. Some people will refuse to learn, and some will try to learn but fail. What matters more to me than one blow-up is how people deal with issues in the longer term.
5. I love the Internet and all the weird places it has, even the ones that make me shudder. Maybe even especially those. See #1.

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Romance Covers

03 June 2013

As a side note to the whole SFWA bulletin issue, I wanted to specifically comment on the assertions that romance novel covers are all about beefcake covers. (I’m traveling, so really can’t get into the larger issue without context I currently lack due to poor Internet at sea.)
Here are the covers of the last 25 erotic romance novels I’ve read, in order (most recent to least). As an interesting point, the Maya Banks series has been re-covered since I read the first book in the series 3 or 4 years ago. Then, they had a woman in lingerie on the cover, but now have a black cover with inoffensive fruit. Which, really, is a WTF? for me, but I’m guessing it sells better. Yay for e-readers not showing the cover on the back of the device.
image

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Pounding Abalone

24 May 2013

When I was in college, I took a memoir writing class, and one of the in-class writing exercises we were to do was to write about “our mother’s cooking.” Or, if not our mother, who did the substantive cooking (which turned out to be a non-mother for a couple of people in the class).
There was a sameness to the stories: long, white kitchens, large meals of poultry, rather a blandness of cuisine that my family never shared.
Me? I wrote about the trimaran we built when I was a kid and the smell of the butane stove, the fun when people would go diving and bring back abalone. Then I got into an extended description of cutting abalone into pieces and having it still crawl across the cutting board, even while I was whaling on it with a meat tenderizer.
Abalone’s tough, you know. Really have to pound the everloving crap out of it for it to be tender enough.
Oh, and the island we were at (San Clemente) was being shelled by the military in training exercises at the time. From five miles out. Whoosh, boom!
Bonus.
Naturally, we had to read our little pieces aloud. As I read mine, I pounded the conference room table at the appropriate points.
At the end, everyone was a bit stunned, and the teacher said, “Okay then.”
It was not until that moment that I realized there was anything the least bit unusual about my upbringing. Truly.

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Best Practices

24 May 2013

A letter I have to send far too often….
Dear people who add folks to email lists without confirmation.
Someone thinks it’s hilarious to use my email address to sign me up for things I am far from interested in. This was not requested by me. You should, as a best practice, require confirmation for ANY subscribe request for this kind of reason. Please ensure my address is removed from all your databases promptly.
If any reservations have been made in my name, cancel those as well.

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The Culling

19 May 2013

We’ve accumulated a ton of books through various conventions and have run out of shelf space. So here’s what a quick read of page 1 and page 119 helped cull.
For books with prologues, I use the first page of the first chapter as my page 1. If page 119 isn’t a full page, I use the closest full page.
You shouldn’t assume that a book is bad or good because of my answers. This was merely a “do I think I’d enjoy spending the time with this book?” test. I read almost exclusively in e-book these days anyway, so I’d probably get the samples of the e-books to see if I wanted to finish reading the book.

Yes to both

Gabaldon, Diana: Outlander, but print’s too small, so I’d read it in an e-book
Scholes, Ken: Lamentation
Lima, Maria: Matters of the Blood
Hanover, M.L.N: Unclean Spirits
Lindskold, Jane: The Buried Pyramid (good thing since my copy is signed)
Gross, Dave: Prince of Wolves. However, the title implies wolves, and I don’t like wolves, so I’m passing anyway.
Evans, Chris: A Darkness Forged in Fire
Marquardt, Michelle: Blue Silence
Cadnum, Michael: Can’t Catch Me
Higgins, Peter: Wolfhound Century
Knight, Francis: Fade to Black
Kadrey, Richard: Sandman Slim (Her voice is like honey and heroin.)
Devoti, Lori: Amazon Ink
Habel, Lia: Dearly, Departed (but: it’s a zombie novel, and I don’t like it enough to overcome my dislike of zombie novels)
Shea, Michael: The Extra
Lackey, Mercedes and Mallory, James: The Phoenix Endangered
Cooper, Brenda: Mayan December
McKinley, Robin: The Door in the Hedge
Williams, Sean: Cenotaxis
Kimberling, Nicole: Turnskin
Ogawa, Issui: The Lord of the Sands of Time

Yes to page 1 but not 119

Abraham, Daniel: A Betrayal in Winter
Goodman, Alison: Eon
Myklusch, Matt: The Accidental Hero (lots of leading, but why not larger type and less leading?)
Parker, K.J.: The Hammer
Bennett, Robert Jackson: Mr. Shivers
Greenwood, Ed: Falconfar
Tryon, Thomas: The Other
Hill, Laurel Ann: Heroes Arise

No to page 1

Cunningham, Elaine: Winter Witch. Paragraph 1 was a non-starter for me
Abraham, Daniel: An Autumn War
Teppo, Mark: Lightbreaker
Sutter, James L: Death’s Heretic
Adrian, Lara: Kiss of Midnight
Downum, Amanda: The Drowning City
Weis & Hickman: Secret of the Dragon
Farland, David: Chaosbound
Williams, Tad: Shadowmarch
Pierce, Meredith Ann: Birth of the Firebringer
Langan, Sarah: Audrey’s Door (partly the annoying typography)
Destefano, Merrie: Feast
China, Cinda Williams: The Gray Wolf Throne
Duncan, Hal: Escape from Hell! (annoying layout doesn’t help)
Saunders, Charles: Imaro
Anderson, James G. and Sebanc, Mark: The Stoneholding
Keck, David: In the Eye of Heaven
Hodgell, P.C.: The God Stalker Chronicles

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