Browsing Tag



On the matter of Southern pride

I’ve seen a lot of reaction in the news to the events in Charleston, and in particular to the growing outcry to take down the Confederate flag from various places–South Carolina and Alabama being the ones I immediately noticed. I’ve also seen reports that Amazon and Walmart are removing merchandise with the flag on it from sale, and I’ve even heard that merch involving the General Lee from The Dukes of Hazzard is taking the flag off the car’s hood.

But, this being the contentious issue that it is, of course there are people shaking canes and yelling about this. I saw one particular report going around Facebook of an individual loudly pontificating about how removal of the Confederate flag from public display is tantamount to “cultural genocide”.

For the record: speaking as a Southerner born and bred, cultural genocide my ass. I mean honestly. Have you met the South?

I am for the removal of this flag. There are a whole host of reasons to be proud of being from the South, and that flag ain’t one of ’em. I posted about this on the social networks yesterday about several of my favorites, and got a flood of responses from others as well.


Elvis freggin’ Presley. That man right there is singlehandedly responsible for most of my pride in being a Kentuckian, thanks to his “Blue Moon of Kentucky” and “Kentucky Rain”. And I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: he’s also responsible for the vast majority of my lifelong tastes in music. So damn straight I’m proud of that.

But it would be remiss of me to not mention the rest of the awesome musicians that hail from the South–white and black. Here’s a roundup of the names that came up in my Facebook thread! Johnny Cash. Loretta Lynn. Dolly Parton. The Oak Ridge Boys. Jerry Lee Lewis. Ray Charles. Aretha Franklin. Nat King Cole. Fats Domino. Charlie Daniels. The Big Bopper. Little Richard. Hank Williams. Buddy Holly. The Everly Brothers. Asleep at the Wheel. Austin City Limits.

There are many, many more I’m sure a lot of you out there could name, thanks to bluegrass and country music in general, not to mention rockabilly and the early days of rock and roll and zydeco (special shoutout for zydeco because hell yeah, Cajun and French \m/).

Also honorable and noble mention to the entire O Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack.

Mmmmmm Key Lime Pie

Mmmmmm Key Lime Pie


The South: land of food that is very, VERY bad for you but OMG SO TASTY. Kentucky Fried Chicken. Chicken fried steak. Okra. Key lime pie. Pecan pie. Sweet tea. Popeye’s Chicken. Cornbread. Crawdads. Catfish. Grits. Peaches. Sweet tater casseroles. Gator tails. Gumbo. BBQ. Tex-Mex food.

‘Cause yeah basically, if it looks like food, the South deep fries the hell out of it.


There’s a lot of Southern literature. Being, well, me, I’m specifically interested in the science fiction. Cherie Priest and Alex Bledsoe come immediately to mind as awesome SF writers from the South whose works I have deeply enjoyed–Cherie Priest’s Eden Moore books in particular, and I’ve rhapsodized in depth about Bledsoe’s The Hum and the Shiver.

Shoutout to Rachel Caine as well, hailing from Texas! ‘Cause y’all should know I love me some Rachel Caine, too.

And my aunt Teresa brought up Fannie Flagg who wrote Fried Green Tomatoes! (See below re: frying things being a critical part of Southern cuisine!)


It was pointed out QUITE CORRECTLY that New Orleans has Mardi Gras. And while we’re on the topic, let us note that the Kentucky Derby was brought up repeatedly on my Facebook thread.

Also, while I historically have favored going to Worldcon, it is important to note that the South DOES have DragonCon–and a lot of other science fiction conventions as well. We DO represent in geekdom!

Places to Visit

Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. Fort Boonesborough State Park in Kentucky. Bernheim Forest, also in Kentucky. Dollywood (see previous section on Music!). Busch Gardens in Virginia. Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia. Myrtle Beach in South Carolina. DISNEY WORLD, f’r chrissakes. What cultural heritage wouldn’t be proud of Disney World, I ask you!


Kennedy Space Center. Astronaut training and mission control in Houston. Because SPAAAAAAAACE.


Y’all know I’m a language nerd. This includes Southern-isms! “Criminitly”. Describing large quantities of anything as “a big ol’ mess o’ <whatever>”. If you’re in a reasonably good state, being “fair to middlin'”. Just off the top of my head–there are, of course, countless more examples.

And more…

Dogwood trees. Thunderstorms (because I do miss good and proper Kentucky thunderstorms, though I do NOT miss Kentucky tornadoes). Fireflies–or, as we called ’em when I was a kid, lightning bugs. Pussy willows. The chirp of crickets.

In other words…

All of this is just barely scratching the surface of the rich culture of the South–none of which will be threatened in the slightest if states stop flying the Confederate flag. If anything, hopefully it’ll help Southern culture take stock of itself and realize that it wouldn’t be what it is today without both white and black Southerners–because yeah, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr.? SOUTHERNERS.

Go back and look at that list of names under Music further up the post, too. Lots of black artists there–and I wouldn’t be a truly conscientious Elvis fan if I didn’t acknowledge how he was influenced by the black artists who came before him.

Fellow white Southerners, I put to you that we should not be this guy:



Because let’s get this straight: racism has stained the honor of the South for long enough.

And pulling that flag down from being publicly displayed is a good first step to fixing that. Let’s keep it up.

News, Publishing

Thoughts on current events, racism and sexism in SF/F, and #YesAllWomen

I’m not a well-known writer by any stretch of the imagination. In any given month I’m lucky if my sales numbers crack two digits. This means, Internets, that every time a reader reaches out to me, it’s a rare and special occurrence.

I mention this because I was contacted on Goodreads by a reader who thanked me profusely for Faerie Blood, specifically because she’s a reader of color, and it meant a lot to her to see Kendis, a heroine of color. She told me that she talked the book up to her friends as well, because she was so excited to find a book with a heroine like her.

Now, y’all, I’m a white woman. And I’ll say straight up that I was a bit nervous about making Kendis a heroine of color–because since I am a white woman, by definition, I’m not going to be able to write about a PoC with the same perspective and experience that writers of color can. It’s very likely that as I continue to write Kendis (because Bone Walker IS on the way, I swear!), I’ll probably screw something up in that regard.

But on the other hand, I felt like it was important to make Kendis non-white. As with a lot of aspects of my writing, this grew out of my love for Elfquest and the simple fact that I saw the Sun Folk–elves of color!–so vividly portrayed on the pages of that series. I’m also very aware, after a lifetime of reading SF/F, that protagonists of color are still pretty damned thin on the ground. The ones that do get written about run the risk of being whitewashed on their covers if they’re written by white authors–or of being exiled to non-SF/F sections of the bookstore if they’re written by authors of color.

And I’m aware that as a white author, I have a certain level of privilege that may get my book looked at twice when an author of color’s book might not be. The same applies to Valor of the Healer, where I also have a distinctly non-white heroine (and I’m grateful to Carina for making sure that’s clear!). At the same time, I acknowledge that yeah, I might screw something up, and that I need to listen if a reader of color comes and tells me “hey, you wrote this wrong”.

I hope I have the grace and sense to listen when that happens, to learn, and to do better next time.

But for now, I want to send a public shout-out to Colette on Goodreads. Thank you, Colette!

* * *

Along the same lines as above, some links y’all should be aware of if you haven’t seen them already.

N.K. Jemisin gave an excellent GoH speech at Wiscon this past weekend, and posted the transcript of it on her site here. Jemisin is calling it like she sees it in re: racism in SF/F, and she’s not wrong. It’s ongoing, it’s horrible, and it needs to stop.

Likewise, I’d like to call out Hiromi Goto’s GoH speech from the same convention. Pretty much her entire speech resonates with me, especially the closing where she talks about the Japanese word kotodama. We are, in SF/F, writers and readers. Words are powerful to all of us. They can effect change, and as both Jemisin and Goto so passionately proclaim, there’s much our words can do if we let their spirit move us.

Just before Wiscon, too, Mary Robinette Kowal put up an excellent post on the need for diversity in SF/F over here. I’d particularly like to point out the discussion in the comments, wherein the question is raised by a straight white male writer about what he can do to promote diversity. It is very, very important to note that in the replies he got, one of the big points made was that diversity does not mean that straight white men have to shut up or stop writing. Or that they even have to stop writing about characters like them, i.e., straight white men. Diversity includes SWMs too.

Diversity isn’t a zero-sum game. It doesn’t mean that just because minority writers are getting more of a voice, majority writers have to stand down. It does mean that those of us who enjoy majority privilege–whether because of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or whatever–need to have the grace to let others have their say too.

* * *

And this also applies to sexism. Like many of you, I’ve seen the horrible news going around about the shooting in California, and the virulently misogynist motives of the shooter. I’ve seen the response of #YesAllWomen springing up on Twitter, and roundup posts like this one on The Mary Sue, featuring some of the most powerful tweets with that hashtag.

I have seen men I know posting their bemusement about what “rape culture” means, and what on earth they can do in the face of such vicious hatred. I’ve seen other men I know, however, posting their sentiments that they need to stand up and say enough and this is not okay. They’re right. Because women keep screaming this–and mind you, we’re not going to stop–but the simple bitter truth is that there are a lot of men out there who aren’t going to hear us simply because we’re women. Men need to say it too–and turn their gender privilege into a force for good.

I’ll close this post with a pointer over to this post of Vixy’s, in which she lays down a lot of words of wisdom on this very topic. Go listen to her.

Then go speak, too–because we’re all stronger when we’re speaking together.

ETA: Adding this link because thank you, Arthur Chu. Who uses his aforementioned gender privilege as a force for good.

Movies, The Internet

Post-vacation link roundup

Here’s a fun thing I apparently missed while I was on vacation: some nimrod made a “SFWA Fascists” Twitter account attacking the various notable SF/F authors who have been speaking out against racism and sexism–in other words, the people who are speaking up for treating everybody like people. Names like Scalzi and Kowal and Hines and Jemisin are on the list, and others have started calling this the roundup of People You Should Be Following On Twitter. Props to them!

And the maddest of mad props to Mr. Hines, who, being awesome, has responded beautifully.


In other news, The Mary Sue has reported that Lionsgate is scrambling to distance themselves from Orson Scott Card. They’re even going to host a LGBT benefit premiere for the movie.

How nice for them. I’m still not going to see the movie.

I’ve seen quite a few people opining that to specifically avoid seeing this movie because of Card is ill-advised, on the grounds that Card probably wasn’t even involved once his rights were optioned, and also because boycotting it would hurt the pro-LGBT people at Lionsgate and who have worked on the film. I don’t buy it, and I remain pretty damned sure that not one person, from Harrison Ford clear down to the catering staff, is going to be financially harmed by my failure to buy a ticket. They’ve gotten paychecks. They’re not going to starve.

I’ve also seen people opining that there are way better ways to assert one’s support of LGBT causes than by inaction–i.e., not seeing a movie. I don’t buy that either. For one thing, speaking up publicly about why you choose to not do a thing is itself an action. For another thing, it is inappropriate to assume that people avoiding the movie aren’t doing other, more active things in support of LGBT rights. Like, say, donating money, which Dara and I have done on a rather regular basis.


Meanwhile, in other news of Movies I Am Specifically Avoiding This Summer, I’d also like to call out this excellent little commentary as to why exactly Benedict Cumberbatch playing Khan in the current Trek flick is problematic.

(Yes, I’ve heard the criticism pointing out that casting Montalban to play a Sikh in the original series wasn’t exactly ethnically appropriate either. But moving from that to casting a white guy was not, in my humble opinion, a step in the right direction.)


However, to shift over to news of Movies I’m Feeling a Lot More Hopeful About, I’m very much looking forward to seeing Despicable Me 2 and Pacific Rim as soon as possible. And I shall direct you post-haste over to who provides this helpful guide to Knowing Your Kaiju.

Because it is critical, CRITICAL I SAY, to know which monster is about to stomp your city into rubble.