More WorldCon Silliness: The Open Reading

Due to clerical error, I got not one, not two, but three WorldCon readings… One of them lasting ninety minutes.  I don’t need that many readings, but some people wanted readings and didn’t get them.
So I’m throwing open my longest reading, the 7:30 one tonight, to all comers.  Want to read a short story?  Come on down and read it.  (Please have it be actually short.)  If more people show up than we have time, we’ll vote on who gets to go.  Or draw straws.  Or fight over the pit of fire to Kirk vs. Spock-style exciting techno music.  Whatevs. But please.  Tell your friends. Let them know about this strange and unique opportunity, and then afterwards we will all head to Geek Prom as a single unit.
Also, don’t forget to attend my actual reading at 5:30, since I will be nervous and, as usual, looking for an audience.

My Reading At WorldCon

I’ll be doing a reading tomorrow at 5:30 at WorldCon.  I’ll be performing my short story “Shadow Transit,” which has been universally referred to as “pretty dang creepy, Steinmetz,” and is a fun thing to read since it features a small child stomping on Barbies.
However, if you download the official WorldCon app, it says that I am also doing a reading at 4:30 pm today.  Which I don’t think I am. Embarrassing.
I plan to head over to the room on the off chance that someone was looking for me, to tell them that I’m not actually here right now.  If you read my blog, and want to meet me, well, that’s probably not a bad place to say “hi,” and then I’ll frantically try to talk you into coming to my actual reading.
Anyway. Actual reading: 5:30 tomorrow, involving tiny acted tantrums.  Be there?

Porn Stars and Poor Grammar

I made the mistake of going to one of my favorite porn stars’ Twitter feed.  It was a mangled Sarlacc Pit of grammar where words were fed in as whole thoughts and spat out as fragmented dreck.  The “Hey Guys hanging out on here Your The Best” was, literally, the most coherent thought on the page – the rest read like a dyslexic man frantically transcribing a snake-handler’s talking in tongues.  I was deeply disappointed.
And I would have posted that thought on Twitter, except I knew what I’d get: “Ha ha, what’d you expect from a porn star?”
My answer: an intelligent woman.
Just because a girl fucks a lot, even for money, doesn’t make her stupid.  In fact, a lot of the interviews I’ve read with porn starlets are excruciatingly honest about the what porn is- they’re aware that they’re a commodity, and are using that to make money at something they enjoy.  They’re businesswomen, often more competent than given credit for, their considerable intellect hidden behind the cumshot. (Or, as is often more accurate, an intellect hidden behind a porn consumer base that doesn’t value verbal fireworks.  Though I could easily see a classic literature-inspired porno series where a beautiful women reads Dickens, then gets dickened.)
Which is not to say there aren’t dumb women, or lost women, in the porn industry: a reading of “The Other Hollywood: An Uncensored Oral History Of Porn” will give you many a tale of the overdosed, beaten, and lost.  But the same could be said of the entertainment industry in general, and most of the female voices describing their experiences in porn here are wise and insightful – not just about porn, but about life.
It’s safer to think of women in porn as stupid, easily guided.  After all, these are beautiful women who have sex freely, shamelessly, and in some cases exultantly.  It’d be kind of terrifying to a lot of men, and women, if there were beautiful, smart women who loved to fuck.  So it’s better if we can shovel those women off into the corner as airheads, and the rest are abused women; nobody would do this willingly, of course. That’s what porn is – full of living examples of How To Live Your Life Wrong.
Except man, we love to watch.
Then I thought, you know, maybe even that’s not the case.  Because if you compared this starlet’s feed to, say, Gordon Ramsay’s feed – a man who is highly intelligent on television, a master chef who can taste the difference between five kinds of tuna, and yet has yet to discover the proper use of the apostrophe.  Someone’s ability to communicate via the written word and their intellect is linked, but by no means is it an absolute link. Perhaps she’s just not good with words… and as I know all too well from getting ingrained in arguments with well-spoken stupid people, the ability to speak clearly is not equated with the ability to think clearly.
The truth is, I can assume little from what I see.  But I do know that if you think “porn star” automatically equals “dumb,” that probably says more about you than the starlet in question.  And it annoys me that if I’d said, “This porn star is dumb,” a bunch of people would have thought that the status quo.

The Clarion Blog-A-Thon New Prize: Ellen Kushner!

Privilege of the SwordEllen Kushner is one of those women who, quite frankly, astounds.  If it was just her vibrant personality, running amuck at cons, that would be enough – as she moderated one of the finest panels I’ve ever been on, and is no slouch at contributing herself.  If it was just her radio work for NPR, which has been called the best program on public radio, well, you’d be impressed.
But no.  The woman’s also a helluva writer.  Her books Swordspoint and The Privilege of the Sword have been some of my friends’ dearest books, to the point where I had a buddy who, when moving, placed Ellen’s books in a special box so she would be sure not to lose them.  They’re so beloved that no less a light than Neil Gaiman wanted to, you know, read them out loud.
And she’s also taught the Clarion Writers’ Workshop with her lovely wife Delia Sherman.  And as such, when I asked her for a prize to help my Clarion Write-A-Thon (which, due to personal circumstances, I’m still boldly forging ahead two weeks after its official end), she said this:

“My contribution?  A unique handwritten postcard from me to your raffle winner.”

That’s right – if you’re an Ellen Kushner fan (and you should be), then donating $5 to my Blog-A-Thon will get you a chance at something far, far better than an autograph: a personal note. And she’s not the sort to scribble something generic, no; I’m sure it’ll be as interesting as she is.
That $5 donation will not just help you with a shot at the prize – it’ll be helping a writers’ workshop that’s jump-started the careers of many talented writers, not the least of which is Yours Truly.  (Seriously.  I wrote for twenty years and had three sales, all to small markets.  Post-Clarion, in three years I had twenty sales, many to the toughest markets in the biz.)  What you learn there is amazing, and you can help train the next generation of great science fiction and fantasy writers.
That $5 donation will also get you a shot at all the other prizes in the blog-a-thon, which thus far are:


I'm Sure You've Always Wanted To Kick Me: A Kickstarter With Ferretts In It

My old friend Alex Shvartsman has made me proud.
See, I used to know him as Alex Shvartsman, Magic Master.  He’d fly around the world to various Grand Prixs in exotic countries, racking up wins, playing Magic: the Gathering with finesse and good humor.  He was always one of the pros I looked forward to hanging out with.
Unidentified Funny Objects!Then he started writing fiction.  And he was getting published a lot, but in little fiddly markets – the kind where you get paid $5, or two contributor’s copies, or even just a publication credit.  And I said to him, “Alex, man, you gotta level up.  You’re selling yourself short.  You’re playing in Friday Night Magic when you should be acing the Pro Tour!  Try for the top markets, and let them reject you first!”
Well, since then he’s been published in prestigious markets like Daily Science Fiction, and discovered what most Magic writers do when they cross over into fiction: we get paid a pittance for stories.  In Magic, if you’re a pro you can get paid good money for writing a 2,000 word article, and most major sites publish sixty articles a week.  In short stories, if you’re a pro, well…. some big short story markets don’t publish as many stories in a year as StarCityGames puts up in a week.
So because Alex likes to give back to the community, said, “This is ridiculous.  I bet I could make a market for short stories that paid well.”  And zing!  He put together Unidentified Funny Objects, a humor science fiction anthology, which he Kickstarted.  It’s within $900 of its goal, with four days left, and it needs a boost to get it right over the top! So the man needs your help.
As an added bonus, if you help kickstart it, Unidentified Funny Objects will contain a story by me.  The story’s called “One-Hand Tantra,” and it starts like this:

“The path of most wizards is solitary,” Loefwyn’s father had told him when his power had first manifested itself. “Your path, my dearest and only child, is more solitary still.”
To this day, Loefwyn wished he had never become a masturbatician.
As his father had promised, Loefwyn’s singular sex magic had given him a decent living. He’d just scraped up enough cash to build the obligatory wizard’s tower, a ribbed rock column jutting up to advertise his unique talents. Masturbaticians were rare, effective ones even more so . . . and both Loefwyn and his spells were potent indeed. Intrigued merchants dropped by to witness the town’s newest oddity–even as they hesitated to shake his hand.
Now, royalty–minor, vicious royalty, but royalty still–had hired him. Enspell Griselda the One-Eyed, and Loefwyn’s success was all but guaranteed…

Trust me, this is one of the oddest, sweetest stories you’ll ever see – and you can get a copy of it for a mere $10.  I’ve seen some of the other stories in there, and I have every faith you’ll find something to chuckle at.  So get in there!