Coven Writing/Writing Workshops

021015Yesterday was the Inaugural Gathering of my Writing Coven (not to be confused with my general coven, which yes, I am part of a general coven), and it was so successful and great that I’m going to tell you all about it!

First of all, it was group of seven of us, all women, and it was probably the best workshop I’ve ever been a part of.

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Books I’ve Read So Far in 2015

SPOILERS AHEAD.

This is kind of a freebie, since I read most of it in 2014. My dad has been on my case about Outlander every since he started reading it a few years ago, which I think is a little funny, considering it’s pretty romance-y. BUT HEY. Shame on me for buying into gender norms. My dad can read romance novels if he damn well pleases.

Part of the reason why it took me so long to read is because my dad and I were sharing a copy. He bought it at Amazing Cheap Books in Astoria one balmy summer night. I bought about five books about vampires and ghosts and serial killers (all for fifteen bucks!) and then treated the family to gelato. But it also took me forever to read because Gabaldon is verbose. The font was TINY and the pages were thin, and there were many of them. And I’m a pretty voracious reader, so that’s sayin’ somethin’.

It wasn’t my favorite. Claire isn’t really my cuppa, to be honest — I am all about Geillis the witch, though (is she really dead? She can’t really be dead!) and Jenny Fraser (girlfriend gave birth, then went tramping about the forest to rescue her nincompoop brother. She actually, literally sat on a log and PUMPED HER OWN BREAST MILK [sans breast pump of course because its the 1700s], not to mention the fact that she was riding around on horseback DAYS after pushing out a bairn!).

One of the things that my dad said that got me to finally agree to read the book (aside from forcing me to watch the show, which is really a thing of beauty) was: “You’ll like it! There are gay characters and everything!” My dad knows me well. This was kind of a tone deaf Dad Moment on his part, though. Why? Because the only gay character in Outlander was Captain Jack Randall, sadist extraordinaire.

DAD. Daaaaaaad. That is so far from what I meant! So, yeah, my dad and I are probably going to have little chat about what representation in fiction really means. (Hint: It’s not that your gay characters are all sick and twisty, and their sick and twisty-ness is directly tied to their sexuality!)

So the first book I actually read, in its entirety, in 2015 was this memoir by Angelica Harris. I read it because my godmother brought up Angelica and her work on Christmas Day; they’ve been friends for years. Angelica, who I met last Saturday!, is also the author of a King Arthur YA series and the founder of the Excalibur Reading Program, a local tutoring organization. I visited their office in Glendale last Saturday to meet with Angelica, and I’m going to be tutoring there starting next week. I’m also working with Angelica to get a writing workshop for adults, as well as teen & young adult workshop, up and running by March!

Angelica is also the founder of the Unicorn Project/Raven’s Hope, a non-profit designed to help families in crisis because of domestic violence and sexual assault. I’ll be working with her in this capacity as well.

Far and away my favorite book I’ve read so far this year is The Girl in The Road by Monica Byrne. This book is what Firefly should have looked like if Joss Whedon hadn’t so insistently whitewashed his cast. It takes place in India and Ethiopia, and on a bridge called the Trail that crosses the Arabian Sea (and gathers wave energy.)

Things that are great about this book:

  • EVERYONE is a POC.
  • There are two protagonists, both women, both queer. Meena, one of the protagonists, is bisexual in a way that sent my whole body humming with recognition, and that has never happened to me before. I’ve always been pretty dedicated to diversity in fiction, but for the first time I’ve really felt it in my bones and it was powerful.
  • Pretty much everyone else is queer too.
  • The world is beautifully crafted. It’s set several decades in the future, and it has this sense of strangeness yet believability about it. Like, this is what the world could look like in sixty years. Also, Byrne has a BA in Biochemistry and and MA in Geochemistry, and this, I think, really shows in the extent of her worldbuilding.
  • Byrne is pretty insistently in media res the whole time (the book literally opens with Meena waking up fleeing her house in a manic state, because a terrorist organization has just attempted to assassinate her), so the story unfolds slowly, as does your understanding of the characters. Which I find pretty delicious, honestly.

HAVE YOU MET ALLISON MOON? No? Well, you should.

Allison Moon is the author of one of my favorite books I read this summer, Lunatic Fringe. It is about lesbian werewolves. That’s all you need to know. Go read it.

Bad Dyke was a joy to read. I read it in a day. It’s a short collection of personal essays about Moon’s sexual experiences, and the ways in which she has identified over the course of her life. It’s just a really joyful, celebratory account of sexuality and sex in all its forms. (And she knows Jiz Lee, which is SO COOL.) Moon is a sex educator; she’s in an awesome, healthy poly relationship; she’s a great writer…She’s basically inspiration for my entire life.

So, there you have it! Four books in two weeks! Goal is to read another four by the end of the month, because my Goodreads goal for 2015 is 63 books (up three from last year, because I was short three in 2014.)

HAPPY READING, everyone!

CHECK IN: WriMo Week 1

Hello, WriMos! How has everyone’s first week been?

I’m still about 4000 words behind — it’s been a rough week — but I’m not worried! I wrote close to six thousand words today in an attempt to catch up, and I may still have another thousand or so in me. We’ll see. I’m holding fast to Hemingway’s “write drunk, edit sober” rule and I’ve had about half a bottle of red wine, which I’ll probably regret in the morning. Oh well.

Today I’ve written about:

  • two girls in Brooklyn intent on doing a horrible spell on their friend (partial draft)
  • the beginnings of a personal essay about the summer my grandmother passed away (shittiest of shitty first drafts)
  • the first draft of a fairy tale about an asexual princess (first draft; flash fiction)

I usually try to commit to a single NaNoWriMo project, but this year I’ve decided instead to go with short stories and essays and try to generate as many first drafts as possible.

What’s everyone else working on?

Books On My Bookshelf I Have Not Yet Read (Part One)

  1. Swanson on Swanson, by Gloria Swanson
  2. The Feminine Mystique, by Betty Friedan (unfinished)
  3. Vamp: The Rise and Fall of Theda Bara, by Eve Golden (unfinished)
  4. Fun Home, Alison Bechdel
  5. Paris, by Andrew Hussey
  6. Girls to the Front, by Sara Marcus
  7. Gut Feelingsby Gerd Gigerenzer
  8. Why Does He Do That: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men, by Lundy Bancroft (unfinished)
  9. The Selected Poems of Anne Sexton
  10. The Selected Poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay
  11. The Everything Tarot Book, by M.J. Abadie (unfinished)
  12. The Girl With All The Gifts, by M.R. Carey
  13. Fifty Plants That Changed the Course of History, by Bill Laws
  14. The Vampire Book, by J. Gordon Melton
  15. Ghosts, by Hans Holzer
  16. The Penguin Book of Vampire Stories, edited by Alan Ryan
  17. Witchcraze, by Anne Llewellyn Barrow
  18. Vampires, Burial, and Death, by Paul Barber
  19. A Witches Guide to Faery Folk, by Edain McCoy
  20. Wyrd Sisters, by Terry Pratchett
  21. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, by Michael Chabon
  22. Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte
  23. Speak, Memory, by Vladimir Nabokov
  24. The Magic of Believing: The Science of Setting Your Goal and then Reaching It, by Claude M. Bristol
  25. The Tudors: The Kings and Queens of England’s Golden Age, by Jane Bingham
  26. Titanic, by Charles Pellegrino