Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Belated Jingle Bells

ProtestKid and I joined with several other Occupy Astoria friends a couple of weekends ago to serenade workers at our local McDonalds, Taco Bell and other fast food restaurant chains on Steinway. It was organized at the last minute but we still had enough people turn up that we were able to fill the establishments with our rousing songs.

The only place we got grief was at the McDonalds, where someone (a shift manager? He clearly believed himself to be an authority figure) told us to leave... but we still finished our song and left under our own volition.

Some people just stared at us, and some people smiled. I got one very quiet, "Good job" muttered at me by a passing customer and nobody heckled us.

I enjoyed caroling to the staff and patrons, but my favorite part was caroling on the street corner, and singing, "Deck the jails with Wall Street bankers! We know you're all crooks and wankers!" outside an HSBC branch.

My least favorite part was when ProtestKid asked me what a wanker was. (For the record, I said it was a really rude word for a jerk, and he shouldn't say it at school.)

Afterwards, I asked ProtestKid a couple of questions.

Me: Why did you want to go caroling (for the 99%)?

ProtestKid: Because I care about people! And I don't want anyone to suffer because of the 1% not noticing them and not giving them human rights. Caroling is a good way to convince the 1% to actually realize, 'Oh, my workers are underpaid. Better make up for that!'

Me: How did caroling make you feel?

PK: I felt really really good. I only got a little nervous when we found the cop in the bank.

Me: How did you think people around you felt?

PK: A lot of them smiled. The cop looked a little scared and tense, ready to pull off an arrest.

Me: Anything else you want to say about it?

PK: I also liked singing the songs. ... I want to be a man of many talents; I enjoy singing when there's a chance and it doesn't embarrass me. And singing with the rest of Occupy Astoria, I didn't feel embarrassed, I felt special.

I have to say, I really like the idea of singing truth to power.

Happy New Year
from the Protest Family

Monday, December 30, 2013

Official announcement: Ta-Da!

A little over four and a half years ago, I got totally freaked out about climate change, swine flu, corporate control of everything, and the fact that my babies were being held hostage by this really scary future.

Then I found a book that claimed to be a "third wave feminist steampunk novel" and I was so excited! Because this! This was what I wanted to read! Adventure, romance, a little steam! But also alive to intersectionality and nuance and not ignoring privilege and colonialism!

...only it wasn't. It wasn't any of that at all. I was so pissed off (and, if you will recall, frightened by this daunting future two years before Occupy was a glint in anyone's eye) I wrote a 456 page book. ("I write big books and I cannot lie, all you other readers can't deny...")

I wrote a book (Original title: Whiskey and Sympathy) about a world affected by pandemic, peak oil, and privatization... But populated it with a wide range of people who still managed to have joy and create beautiful lives... and then I threatened their solar-powered, consensus-driven airship community with pirates.

Because that's what authors do!

So if you, too, want to read a cheerful dystopic story that loves intersectionality and passes the Bechdel test in the very first scene… Have I got a novel for you! Really, right here at Booklocker.com...

**The publisher’s website includes the first 9 chapters, so you can really get a sense of whether you (or someone you know) might like to read it**

Or here at Barnes & Noble who have it cheaper and eligible for free shipping if you spend more than $25...

Or even here at Amazon who have it cheapest and eligible for Prime.

Honestly, I don’t really care from which place (or even if) you order Suncatcher: Seven Days in the Sky, but it would be wonderful if you could check it out (as Amazon tracks who looks at it and what else they like) and maybe let your friends who are into speculative fiction know about it.



I'll update the Red Button Press site soon, but in the meantime:

Suncatcher: Seven Days in the Sky is now available for purchase direct from the publisher:

At that link, you can read the first 9 chapters for free.

Barnes & Noble:
(eligible for free shipping offers)

(Prime eligible)

...and you can order it from your local bricks and mortar bookstore, too. (If you order it from *my* local bookstore, The Astoria Bookshop, and let them know you'd like an autographed copy we can make that happen!)

...and electronic versions for Kobo, Nook, Kindle, and all your favorite electronic reading platforms should be coming very soon.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

So if we flash the cover of Suncatcher it counts as Marketing, right? Because this NEEDS to happen. On youtube.

I like big books and I cannot lie
You other readers can't deny
That when a book opens up with an itty bitty font
And a round type (in your) face
You get hooked, wanna pull out your card
Cause you notice that book was stuffed
Deep with symbolic meaning
I’m hooked and I can’t stop reading
Oh volumes, I wanna digest with you
And your illustrations
My librarian tried to warn me
But that series you got makes me book-wormy
Ooh, Dump-o’-info
Let’s burn the candle at both ends
Well read it, so epic,
Cause you ain’t the average blog post
I’ve seen them typing
Heck with Skyping
It’s purple prose
Got it goin’ like Romance de la Rose
I’m tired of webzines
Tweeting the novel is dead
Take the average reader and ask her what
She gonna fit in her backpack…

So, readers! (Yeah!) writers! (Yeah!)
Has your novel got the volume? (Hell yeah!)
Tell 'em to read it! (Read it!) Read it! (Read it!)
Read that heavy book!
Baby got back issues!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A brief word from our sponsor

Hey there. Still alive. Still protesting... we were out on September 17th, in fact, and Little Man skipped Kindergarten to join me and ProtestKid. He came for the McDonalds, but he stayed for the balloons and photo ops.

Besides regular life, I also finally did something more proactive with my novel than wait to hear back from the slush pile... *sniffle*...

So now it's going to booklocker, and should have a life outside this blog in the next 6 weeks.

This blog may start to have more about revolutions in writing than writing about revolutions, but... eh, maybe not. Anyway, I wanted to add this post and remind myself it existed. (Sorry I forgot. I've been busy.)

Will try to post more often; I can claim it's marketing. Yeah. That.

Love to all,

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Molly Crabapple Part Two



I  mean, Molly Crabapple's The Shell Game installation is a lovely confection of....


Look, if you want a review of her show (bubbles! fat cats! whimsy and devilish details!) I'm sure there will be a dozen artful reviews of them... soon. Probably already, and the opening night won't be over for another 20 minutes as I'm typing this sentence.

But I don't know the craft well enough to judge hers, and I'm a terrible judge of characters anyway, so I'm just going to tell you what I saw: Large winking women, representing everything from the American Dream (painted like a delicate clown, fat cats tempted mice to climb her ladder and step off her hand... and drop to their deaths to make more gold for the machine) to Liberty Square (wooo!)... I saw the People's Library and the food tent in her skirts...

From a distance, it's easy to see the rhythms as repetitive... but standing there it reminded me of tarot cards, actually, because sure there's the big obvious image but there were enough references and in-jokes to make you stare for a while, trying to suss out the symbols and their meanings... if not for your own life, then for the past two years which became history much faster than I can articulate, or one of her images can express.

So anyway, what I came away with was a glass of lemon ginger gin and tonic (yum!) and glee because not only did I see a fellow Occupier there (I raise my plastic glass to you, A!) but it felt like I made a new friend--

See, mostly it was images of arch ladies, but there was also a wheel of (mis?)fortune (I so wanted to see if it could turn, but I clasped my hands behind my back and was a good little consumer of art) and also a mostly-naked woman in a bathtub.

It turns out the mostly naked lady's name was/is Stoya, and we shook hands because I can't very carefully not stare at a mostly naked lady in a bathtub, after staring at a bunch of images, without feeling uncomfortably hypocritical. If she was art, I should experience it, but I also don't feel right consuming a person as objectively as a brush stroke.

So I sat down next to her bathtub and made sure she wasn't cold (she wasn't) and we asked about her wig-- I knew going in that she was styled as Marie Antoinette, and my covert glances indicated that she was lounging in a bathtub filled with fake money--but the wig was fantastic and slightly pink, with tiny protest signs in it.

What caught my attention was the red, chopstick-like things stabbed into it, but as soon as I asked I realized that it was The Big Red Thing at Liberty Square/Zuccotti Park, and that made me so happy that I suddenly felt quite comfortable chatting with a beautiful mostly naked lady in a bathtub, and I told her about taking food to the protestors and she laughed with me as I told her stories about ProtestKid.

Maybe she was a consummate actress, and she didn't find him totally enchanting (though, all motherly modesty aside, how could a person *not* find stories about ProtestKid delightful?), but I'd like to think I didn't totally bore her and that we *did* make a connection of sorts. (I didn't do quite all of the talking, but I also don't feel right revealing what she said-- it was a conversation and it was nice and that's all.)

See, not only did she sign a copy of Molly Crabapple's book for us (woot), but as I got up to leave her to her soak, she grinned and gave me one of the crumpled bills she was surrounded by.

Later, !ProtestDaddy and I giggled as we read it-- as you may have guessed, it too had lots of details (it had printed very clearly on it "not for legal tender, you dope" and it was signed by "Rob Anybody" not the current head of the US Dept of Treasury)-- but mostly we were delighted then and now because on this special night, a professional naked lady gave *me* a tip.

I shall be dining out on this story for weeks. The other professional moms are going to be sick of it... tee hee hee...

Dear Stoya, may you never be cold and may you always have something to smile about. You certainly made me happy tonight.

Molly Crabapple Part One

So !ProtestDaddy and I are going to the opening night of Molly Crabapple's show tonight, and I'm really nervous. In my head, she's one of the cool kids (I'm pretty sure her 6 degrees of separation are higher quality than mine...), and I've become middle aged and tired... so while I want to be part of the art and the glitter, it's not for the likes of me, etc etc...

But then the fantasy of art and glitter is just a fantasy. Glitter and paint create an illusion, and I think that the whole point of Shell Game is that it is an illustration of the Wall Street illusion.

Like the quote I just read attributed to George Box, “all models are wrong, but some are useful.”

Maybe if I go in with the understanding that all art is wrong, but some is useful, I will be ok.

Because here's the other thing: for all that my art is inferior to hers (and certainly my artistic connections are), the thing about Liberty Square was that the experience was intensely personal. I will not say that any other person's lived experience was wrong, and their portrayal might be useful...

But I was there. I fed and was filled and I listened and was heard and I fear that attending an art show will somehow change my own experience, privilege the artful muse over the angry voice. And yet I think that she loved/loves Occupy and its manifestation(s) as much as I do.

I fear that, surrounded by beautiful images, I will not be seen. And I suppose we are going to look, not to be seen... but that wasn't what Occupy was to me, so I'm not sure if I will find Occupy there.

I guess I just need to see, and then we'll see what it is that I saw?

Yeah. That.

...Did I mention I want to be a writer when I grow up? Doo dee doo dee doo.

More later, after I have seen the show.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

We're Ba-ack

Occupy Astoria LIC walked and stood with the locked out butchers of Trade Fair, today. We easily doubled their numbers, and added fresh voices to the fight. I handed out 7 flyers to passersby, give or take. ProtestKid, in his persistent way, handed out over 100. (He even successfully pursued the grocery guy who was hand-trucking produce through our picket line.)

But, my sore throat will attest, no one-- whether or not they took a flyer-- could be in shouting distance and not hear us shout, "Trade Fair, Unfair!"

R composed a new chant, in honor of Local 342: "Hey Hey!" "What what?" "342 deserves a cut!"

The butchers and meat carvers can't even claim to be on strike-- after getting their hours slashed from 34 to 24 hours, they were locked out of negotiations. Scabs have been hired to replace them, and I've heard an unsubstantiated but plausible report that these unqualified replacements are putting "halal" stickers on meat that isn't.

That's a problem.

Besides being all solidarityish, just increasing the numbers of the group really did help them-- people in cars rolled down their windows and asked what was going on and took flyers.When I mentioned this to K, a union organizer who has been there several days, she said it was the first day that had happened. Because we were such a big group, more people were paying attention. Success!

I was cold, and my throat hurt-- but helping people get their story heard... that was awesome.

Some people were curious, some didn't stop-- several people said they had stopped shopping at TradeFair because of the way they were treating their workers. One passerby approached in her walker: she grinned at me and started shaking her booty in time to our chant. That was even more awesome.

I took up the challenge and danced up and down the picket line for a couple of rounds. The folks standing still grinned and pumped their fists in the air. (Moral of the story: Next time you want to show solidarity with an action-- I highly recommend shaking your booty.)

As ProtestKid and I waited for our train home, we could still hear the lilting call and response of the folks down on the street. They have one shift that stands out there from 7 am to 7 pm, and then another twelve hour shift that covers the quiet evening hours. Despite their exhaustion, they didn't stop making noise, making their presence known and their grievances aired.

As the union guy with the bullhorn called as loudly as his abused voice could, "Trade Fair!" ProtestKid and I grinned at each other and shouted to our confused fellow travelers,  "Unfair!"