Sunday, September 27, 2015


My next page view will be the 175,000th.

Thank you all!

Late Night Collection

This blog hasn't been getting its usual effort of late, but I've been watching others', and I'm behind on sharing them. So here we are, let's get to the links!

Arrant Pedantry has - you guessed it - a bit more deconstructing pedantry, this time a look at the usage of the word anxious.

I haven't shared a Gary Corby link in far too long. Here, he explains the origin of the term - and the original rite - of catharsis.

Mojourner Truth has done a series of wonderful photos recently, on archaeological work and features in Hawai'i. The sled run here is one of my favorite of these posts!

Also, Mojourner is really funny. Sir Mo's A Lot - heh.

American Duchess shows us a little something about the history of 1940s shoe fashion - and beyond!

AD also has Scandalous Tango Boots! (And, some time in December, so will I!)

Jessica Faust has a good story at Bookends' blog's new home, about how she got a certain client in Days of Yore - lo, fifteen years ago, when he space-age material "paper" was involved in querying.

And last, but without a doubt not least, Tom Williams looks at nomenclature and rather a lot more. "Freedom Struggle"? "War of Independence"? ... or "Mutiny"?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

My Stepfather Pronounces it Linka-DIN (*)

LinkedIn is like that friend with a pickup truck. You don't call them much, but when you have to move, suddenly you remember their number.

Worse ... maybe you kind of wish they wouldn't call YOU, either.

When I was worried about my job two years ago, I quietly updated my LinkedIn profile, reached out to a couple connections; managed to get an interview from one of them. That interview didn't pan out, but they called me back a couple months later - and here I am. (I met the woman who did get that first job, and she is made of solid OSUM gold, and no way should I have gotten that gig. I like mine best in any case.)

Every now and then, recruiters get frisky on LinkedIn, but that seems reasonable.

Over the last month or so, a salesman got silly and tried (a) to connect with me there and then (b) kept messaging me about "who is the right person to talk with about such-and-such" at my company. And (c) got himself DISconnected, because - ugh. No.

More recently, a restaurant reached out to me and at least two of the other Executive Admins at my employer, offering us free lunch. This sounds lovely - and I have it on excellent authority the purveyor sending these notes with connection invites makes great food - however, I work at a food distributor. And they are not clients.

How it looks to some folks when we bring in non-client food to our corporate HQ: not super.

So no free lunch for me, sad to say.

Every now and then I see the old "guess who's looking at your profile!" previews, and sigh quietly. Yes, Virginia, there ARE people I spent years losing touch with, and it was not easy.

Nobody really uses LinkedIn as a social network. It's a nicely distant quasi-tool to occasionally keep up with former coworkers, really. You can get their real contact info off 'em if need be, maybe send the odd bland "congrats" or holiday message or whatever.

Or you can let them know ... you might need that pickup truck. And maybe a spare pair of arms to carry a few boxes. And couches.

(*And I don't make fun of his way of reading the name. First time I ran across the website Plenty of Fish, I read it as Plenty Offish ... which strikes me as a hilarious name for a dating site.)

Well, SOMEBODY Wants It ...

My thanks to Tom Williams for pointing me to the one person in the world eagerly seeking a novel about Clovis I, King of the Franks.

Only tens of thousands more to go, and The Ax and the Vase is a product I can sell.

In the meantime: WIP. And sighing.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Pride and Prejudice and Privilege

Of all the literary scandals I've read in my day, holy heck is this a fascinating ethical exploration.

This cropped up in Janet's blog today, and for once the result was a comments section I did *not* find comfortable to read, so I am not linking it. It is only where I learned of this anyway, so go to the link above if you are curious about the deeper details. Skip over a LENGTHY intro all about rules, and most of a long series of paragraphs beginning with "I" and get to the one that begins with "I chose a strange and funny and rueful poem" and read from there.

The crux of the issue is a white male poet who submitted under an Asian (or Asian-sounding; I am not the one to verify other cultures' nomenclature) name, and whose poem was chosen for the Best American Poetry 2015 ... admittedly and partially because of this.

The examination of the man who made this choice, and both his culpability and the reasons for it, is devastatingly and honorably honest in the rarest way.

(T)here was no doubt that I would pull that fucking poem because of that deceitful pseudonym. But I realized that I would primarily be jettisoning the poem because of my own sense of embarrassment. I would have pulled it because I didn't want to hear people say, "Oh, look at the big Indian writer conned by the white guy." I would have dumped the poem because of my vanity. ...  I had to keep that pseudonymous poem in the anthology because it would have been dishonest to do otherwise.

That last sentence had to be an incredibly difficult conclusion to reach, and the conclusion of the post itself, Sherman Alexie's examination of his own identity, is a great example of integrity, whatever else the controversy may have borne for him.

It hasn't occurred to me to blog about this, but somehow it seems relevant in a sidelong way now.

At a very different point on an identity spectrum that spans not a line, but an entire plane and perhaps three dimensions, lies one Caitlyn Jenner. I've found myself watching a good deal of "I Am Cait", the reality show she launched along with the revolution in her own identity. It's the sort of thing I wanted to resist; frankly, it was unformed but in my mind to ignore the whole show attendant upon her transition, thereby proving my lack of prejudice (and maintaining a mile-wide perimeter against anything even Kardashian-adjacent). But, thanks to its ubiquity across many channels and many weeks, I caught the Diane Sawyer interview, and ended up reluctantly intrigued.

The theme of the reality show that has struck me far more than the splashy headline of "ooh, trans person" has by far and away been its examination of privilege.

Note that I do not say HER examination of privilege; because she went into the show with expectations that she would be exploring the process of gender transition, dealing with her family and her identity and the pain and the liberty she now has in her own skin, which has finally come to resemble the sense of self she's always harbored and hidden and lived with all her life.

But the fact is, Caitlyn's role - which she seems eager to adopt and live up to - has become that of an avatar for an entire "community" of transgender people ... and yet, "community" is a foolish term, because inherently the deepest problems with transgender individuals is that of isolation and even self-denial ... and yet, Caitlyn's experience is like NOTHING any other has ever experienced, or probably ever will.

For one, Caitlyn is transitioning at a time in her life which is not, perhaps (I am no judge here) typical of the experience.

She is also essentially chairing a public discourse and her own personal experience from a position of wealth and power pretty much nobody else in her position has ever possessed.

And the show is illustrating, in pretty clear detail, just how powerful Caitlyn's privilege is. The new trans friends with whom she is surrounding herself are keeping her pretty honest at every turn ("Why do you keep saying THEY when you talk about trans people? You are a trans person!" ... "You keep saying how normal we are. This is because you are aware of the freak factor." ... "YES, many trans women turn to sex work; not a lot of us have the privilege you do, and being trans can make it harder to keep a job, or lose you one if you have it." and so on). They are begging her to look at the power she wields, having been Bruce Jenner for as long as she felt she must or could hide - and to use it.

In a year when I've spent so much time examining my own privilege, to watch someone with this much of it trying to do the same, and doing so earnestly, if sometimes imperfectly, has been an unexpected lens through which to examine someone's transition into a physical body that aligns with their sense of self better than the one issued at birth.

Caitlyn has made a hell of an avatar. Statuesque and showing pride as well as vulnerability, gorgeously attired and constantly attended, the chrysalis has opened and someone unexpected and in some ways both spectacular and delicate seems to be emerging.

I don't essentially admire Jenner as a woman, any more than I did before we knew she was, particularly; but I respect her stepping up, acknowledging her power in a position which for most is the opposite of powerful, and trying to do good. Even for her, it cannot be easy; just as admitting his bias has hardly been easy for Alexie, in a situation he could have avoided if he chose to.

Caitlyn Jenner could have avoided this ... and yet, could not. Not while living with the fullest integrity.

Sherman Alexie could have avoided the controversy, too ... and yet, could not. He clearly placed honesty higher than comfort, and that is never simple, never easy.

Saturday, September 5, 2015


I'm beginning to wonder whether I ought to change the title of my links posts from "collection" - being an occasionally churchgoing girl, sometimes it has the sound of an offering plate ...

One of the strange things that comes from global warming, after heat waves and insane, snow-stormy winters, and flooding and drought, is the archaeology uncovered in the latter of these disasters. The changing course of water, and of late especially drought, has literally exposed our past; and this is not the first time I've heard of it. Here, a not-exacly-a-"dig" at Vistula in Poland (as so often, via The History Blog). Resident archaeology experts encouraged to comment, ahem.

The History Girls has a lovely collection of portraits of women reading; the Japanese one is a nice addition to note. I am aware my blog skews heavily Euro-centric, even more so than American, so please take a look at the Kuniyoshi print; I actually have a great love of Japanese art. Perhaps I need to showcase this (or African or Mongol or Polynesian ... suggestions always welcome!).

Not quite in that vein exactly, we can take a look at a repurposing of foreign-distribution a particular cover for Penguin Classics. As he always does, the Caustic Cover Critic treats us not just to fascinating cover art, but his own worthwhile commentary.

Speaking of archaeologists - if you've ever wondered "What comes with an archaeology action figure?" the answer is here. (Product update: photogenic archaeologist has a couple more years on 'im now.) OSUM.

Okay, and now I must away. I have already rebuilt my bed an flopped the mattress (many people like to flip theirs occasionally, but when it's queen size and you do it singlehanded, it's definitely flopping), it is time to begin laundry, clean the cat box, and dust a bit. Related note: vintage Melissa Ethridge makes absolutely excellent housecleaning music.

Happy 78th birthday, dad. I'm celebrating by getting a few things DONE. Miss you.

Friday, September 4, 2015

This Never Happens to Me ... Genre Question!

Being an author of historical fiction, I often breathe a sigh of relief when other authors must decide on the genre of a given piece.

For my non(professional)-writer readers, you would be absolutely astounded at how difficult this can be. For one, category and genre are often confused - "YA" (young adult) is not a genre, but it often manages to pass for one, right or not. For two, where does one draw the line between historical and time travel, when sci-fi is not the point nor even much featured in a story? Or between dystopian and science fiction? Literary and coming-of-age, women's fiction or commercial ... the difficulties are confounding, and I am frequently relieved my own work sits pretty clearly in its place.

Today, though ... I have issues! But it's kind of fun.

In contemplating submitting a first page for my upcoming conference, I'm looking pretty hard at a certain ghost story I've been toying with for a couple of years almost.

Is "ghost story" an acceptable genre choice? Should it be sci-fi (though there is no science whatever, only fiction)? It has a sensual strain running through it, but it is NOT erotica by a long shot. There is romantic tension, but no way is this thing a romance - to me, it actually is, but in marketing terms, what I've written would not be understandably shelved with what publishing calls "romance".

I'm looking at one of my Reider pals in particular and a certain deliciously intemperate friend of mine, who have read the thing themselves, but would love feedback from anyone.

Where should I "shelve" an eerie and slow-building ghost story in the vein of Chinese fox legends?

What genre would you suggest?

Wednesday, September 2, 2015


There have been some emotionally exhausting aspects to this week, and work was trying today (it is amazing to me how fatiguing it can be to be *unable* to get things done - and I was without my laptop all day long, for stressful tech reasons). So my link-tease comments aren't especially clever. But a few things I want to share ...

A Mojourner picture is worth a good 688 words, at least. This entry: fighting fire with - welp, firefighters. Trained ones & everything.

And here, Mojourner shares a really good tribal map.

Lauren at American Duchess sometimes makes me with I had a wee bit more costuming gumption. Today's special, reblocking old wool hats. I love the white recut; visually interesting and very chic!

Ann Turnbull at The History Girls shows us a hidden villa, then walks away on a summer day, to leave it perhaps for others to find again.

Tom Williams has a piece on writing book reviews; I am particularly poor about doing this. Do you remember to recognize and review?

And finally, Janet Reid in Klingonee (or something very like it - and for THAT rather in little inside joke, I want a little credit). Like she wasn't awesome enough.