Amber Unmasked & The Clockwork Heart

•May 29, 2014 • Leave a Comment

OMG & Amber LoveAt the 2014 Steampunk World’s Fair, I had the great pleasure of meeting the amazing Amber Love.

She recorded a portion of my Reading and Q&A there, so you can hear me read “The Clockwork Heart” here, as well as hear Amber’s coverage of the incredible Steampunk World’s Fair. She even covered the excellent panel with Bunny Bennett of Steam Powered Giraffe on Gender Bias in Steampunk.

“The Clockwork Heart” will be appearing in the next issue of Steampunk Trails. Discover this short story and more of my work on my published works page, under free or for purchase stories, and through my Amazon Author Page.

Community Boundaries Keep Out Predators

•May 24, 2014 • 3 Comments

Last weekend, I had the absolute pleasure of presenting at the Steampunk World’s Fair both as an author and a speaker. I reconnected with many old colleagues and fans, and I daresay made some new ones as well. It was brilliant to be back out there again. I was able to do this because of their anti-harassment policy, and because they take sexual assault seriously (not just pay lip service to it). Their anti-harassment policy and responsibility to the community kept predators out, making the event safer for the rest of us.

Now, I’m not saying that the 2014 Steampunk World’s Fair (SPWF) was completely devoid of predators, but I know for a fact that several known aggressors were either banned or chose not to attend/participate because of the conventions strict anti-harassment policy.

That’s right.

Some self-selected out because they felt uncomfortable about the new policy, and that’s great news for the rest of us. It was a safer event because of the SAFER track.

As one of the central speakers on the SAFER track, I can tell you first hand numerous people approached me to thank me for the SAFER track and the work of The Order of the White Feather. Several. Survivors and supporters of survivors spoke up on how they felt safer. I felt safer, too.

A particular Steampunk Musician has been banned from the event because of his actions after this event in 2011 and his subsequent failure to take responsibility, apologize, and make amends. The Steampunk World’s Fair message is clear: unrepentant offenders aren’t welcome here. Continue reading ‘Community Boundaries Keep Out Predators’

Facing the Past; Turning to the Future

•May 15, 2014 • 2 Comments

20140515-114151.jpgThis weekend, I’ll be appearing as an author and speaker at the Steampunk World’s Fair. It’s a huge step for me, as it was the assault after this very convention in 2011 that sent me into the tailspin of trauma and recovery that has been my life ever since.

Well, that’s not quite true. The Writer, my best friend at the time, assaulted and betrayed me about seven months before SPWF 2011. That’s what really started that horrific time. After several months of barely functioning, and not understanding why I was so upset (as it would be years before I called The Writer’s choice to sexually assault me what it actually was), I was finally seeing the light of the future again.

Then, I met The Musician at the Steampunk World’s Fair 2011. Full of renewed hope and trust, I told him what The Writer did as a deterrent to his continuous sexual pressure, and he assured me that he would never, ever do such horrible things or treat me thus. He asserted: “I’m a gentleman!” Continue reading ‘Facing the Past; Turning to the Future’

OWF & SPWF

•April 28, 2014 • 4 Comments

Because of my busy schedule of late, I haven’t had the time to post about my official participation in the Steampunk World’s Fair this year! They’ve invited me to be a part of their Safety & Consent Track as a presenter as well as a Steampunk author. I was beyond thrilled they asked me to participate. The organizers of SPWF have shown me great kindness and support, and they’re one of the very few who take sexual assault/rape very seriously in actions, not just in words. I’m very impressed with they harassment policy and their SAFETY Track, so I’m quite disheartened that the community response has been so hostile towards them for doing so. Disheartened, but not surprised, since this isn’t my first community response fallout regarding the way we, as a society, respond to sexual violence and the attempts to reduce said violence.

Over at The Order of the White Feather, I’ve posted about something happening on FB the last day or so. I’ve reposted here, but please make any comments about this on the OWF blog.

-_Q

Over the past day or so, there has been a maelstrom over on a Steampunk World’s Fair FB Group regarding their harassment policy. As is the case in so many of these online interactions, the discussion is dominated by about a dozen people who are spouting The Great Derailers, grossly exaggerating the myriad of remote possibilities of abusing the policy while undermining the important intention behind it, and spreading general fear mongering. Some are even using bully techniques of mocking well-intentioned statements meant to make the victimized feel safer in cases of sexual violence and nitpicking minor semantic issues by using straw man and slippery slope rhetoric.

In the middle of these comments about the wording of the SPWF’s Harassment Policy (which the organizers have said repeatedly is a living document, and they are open to revising it for further clarification) are accusations that The Order of the White Feather is guilty of vigilantism. These handful of people claim the OWF is a vigilante group because of these two things:

  1. We believe the victim. We question the accused.
  2. The language around social ostracism for unrepentant rapists and perpetrators of other sexual violence

Some of the comments read as if they think the OWF will have a group of people goose-stepping and waving white feathers who corner and interrogate someone accused of flirting inappropriately under a swinging light bulb in a darkened room, so please allow me to explain further what’s meant by the phrase “We Question the Accused” to clarify this obvious misconception. Continue reading ‘OWF & SPWF’

Just a Few More Hours to Fill

•April 1, 2014 • 8 Comments

20140401-193932.jpgThis piece is darkly existential. It was written as thoughts meant to become a short story, but that won’t happen anytime soon. After my crappy day, I decided just to post it as-is.

May you find peace in the hours you fill.

-_Q

Let’s not pretend we’re here for any other reason than to pass the hours until we die. I pass the hours by writing. You pass the hours by reading.

There are few certainties in life. Love is not one of them. Feigned love isn’t either, but it’s more likely. Peace and safety, not guaranteed. Death. Yep. That’s about the only thing that is inevitable, except for maybe betrayal. Lies and deception, that’s rather inevitable, too.

So. Death. That big scary country from whose borne no traveler returns, unless you believe in ghosts or reincarnation or some such thing. Both of those things scare me even more than death. Honestly. To be trapped here for all eternity! Imprisoned on this plane watching everyone around you make the same stupid mistakes.

Lie. Cheat. Steal.

Selfishly run from death at such a high velocity they don’t notice they’re living. Horrifying. Perhaps reincarnation is the only thing even more frightening than haunting the living. Having to do this bullshit over and over again. Caught up in the hell of samsara, doomed to suffer again and again without memory of the time before. Without any conscious realization of perspective. Maddening.

Death is not the worst thing than can happen to a person. No. Continue reading ‘Just a Few More Hours to Fill’

Crossroads

•March 30, 2014 • 11 Comments

I’m feeling a mixture of resignation and sadness tonight, vacillating between the desire to be completely invisible and renewed inspiration with hope for the future.

Hope. Such a dangerous thing.

I’m on the cusp, really. For awhile now I’ve been thinking that I really had no more stories to tell, especially at the moment.

Since the rape, I can no longer write romance or erotica without the stories being tinged with assault or exploitation, as my world-view has been forever altered. Sex, even over two years later, is not something I can think about, let alone write or do.

I read “The Handy Man” tonight, and I find that I’m no longer comfortable even reading my old erotic stories, especially in public. I was nervous, and I’m rarely nervous at a reading. Although I frequently have the problem of wondering if the audience is enjoying it or if they’d rather be doing something else…or wondering if the story is too long or at all interesting. This time, especially.

I found myself truncating the sex scenes, skipping over parts that were too explicit and descriptive…wanting just to get through it. Get it over with.

On one hand, I’ve met fans and readers who were excited to see me and buy the new titles, I’ve sold out of three of my five titles already, but on the other hand, I think I’m done with this part of my life. I certainly won’t be writing erotica/steamy romance anymore. After writing three novels last year and another six short stories, my creative energy is spent.

I’m thrilled to be at AnomalyCon, and I’m ever so grateful that Kronda wanted to bring me back. I’ve had a wonderful time here, and it feels really good to be working again. Similarly, the wonderful, supportive people who do Steampunk World’s Fair are trying to bring me out to be part of their Consent and Safety Track, and I would be beyond honored to be a part of that.

All this gives me renewed confidence in my work, both fiction and nonfiction. It gives me the (dangerous) hope of a possible renewal of my writing career, too, after its trajectory was halted by assault and recovery.

But, I’m a different person now. I will either find a new voice, new stories to tell and ways to tell them, or my writing days are over. Perhaps I’m just at a place where my creative energy is sapped and I need time to recover.

After all, it’s been a rough few years. I’ve written eleven books and two-dozen short stories in the past six years. We also lost our three beloved dogs and adopted a new treasured canine family member. I’ve survived several assaults at the hand of my (former) best friend, (former) trusted colleague, and (former) beloved boyfriend. I quit my job and moved across the country to feel safe again after my communities shunned me and embraced the assailants. I’ve struggled with dissociative episodes and chronic illness through the trauma recovery. My husband had a near-fatal accident that kept him from walking for a few months and robbed him of nearly an entire year of work, not to mention our entire savings.

Maybe I just need time to recover…but it feels like I’m standing at a crossroad. I’m not sure which road to take, so I’ll just listen to Bach, meditate, and try to sleep tonight.

It will be interesting to see how this year unfolds.

AnomalyCon 2014: Time’s Running Out!!

•March 8, 2014 • Leave a Comment

20140307-200136.jpgLater this month, I’ll be appearing at AnomalyCon in Denver, CO. This will be my first convention appearance in nearly two years! I’m so excited to return to AnomalyCon this year…and with TWO new titles!

Not only will I be on some great panels (see the programming guide here), but I will also be hosting the Tea Party on Sunday afternoon. I’ll be reading a new short story and running a game of charades. All this, AND you get to hear a special performance by the fabulous Unwoman.

Saturday, March 8th (TODAY!!) is the last day to pre-register. A pre-registration ticket is only $30, and you get a lot for that price. From their website:

Preregistration for AnomalyCon 4, March 28-30, 2014. Preregistration is for ALL activities for the entire weekend except for The Afternoon Tea, which must be purchased separately. Preregistration includes BOTH the Friday and Saturday concerts. Preregistered attendees will receive a reusable swag bag and lots of cool goodies.

The last day to preregistrer for AnomalyCon will be March 8th, 2014. Day passes will be available for purchase during the convention itself.

They have contests, like best moustache, most creative balcony, best hovercraft, and LEGO building. They also have a super cool science fair for kids. Top all that off with amazing musical guests, talented artists, distinguished authors, AND a Murder Mystery and Killer Breakfast, and you have a pretty remarkable convention.

Extra special for this year, each attendee will get a stack of cards in their goodie bag. These cards will have original artwork (like the one shown above) on one side and a piece of flash fiction on the other. All the cards will be the same artist/author pair, so you have to socialize to collect the others!

And, yes, I contributed a flash fiction piece called “The Last Revolution” for this great game.

Go pre-register today! Quickly! Before it’s too late.

See you soon!

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