Adventures with Words, June 2023

Adventures with Words, June 2023

Happy Pride Month!  

Yesterday, Mol and I were in downtown Olympia at the corner of 5h and Washington for the dedication of two crosswalks painted in trans flag colors. I was part of the speaker line up and though the mood was celebratory, I felt it necessary to bring some #realtalk to the event. You can see what I wrote at the end of this newsletter.

June Writers Chat – June 6th.  The rest of summer – July 18th, August 1st.

It’s also Manuscript Review Month

On May 30th, I sent my manuscript to Jenny Bartoy and she is underway with evaluating it. Mol completed their read through in early May which allowed me to use their feedback to improve the book before anyone else saw it. Now, in addition to Jenny, I’ve also got multiple non-editor people reading If Elephant Ears Could Talk and I’ll get their feedback by the end of the month. I’m really happy with this version of the story, though I already know some areas that can be strengthened. I think the work going forward is creating more depth and veracity with the character arcs, motivations and revelations. Thank you in advance to Jenny and my readers: Cal, Haze, Lisa, Burl, Isabel and Blake. And endless thanks to Mol, my muse and cheerleader.

In the Meantime…

I’m working on a short story examining the influence of algorithms on day to day life. Judging by the reactions of my writing partners, I’ve got a good start. Having side projects while the manuscript is in review helps me keep the creative juices flowing and gives me a little distance from the Elephant Ears story. My goal is to submit this short story for publication. 

I’ve started my research on the  ‘comps’ – comparative titles –  that will be part of my query letters when I seek an agent for the novel. I feel very wobbly about this process, though I do have some great suggestions on resources to utilize – like Librarians, and book shop employees, who are plugged into current book happenings. I’m also looking at yearly lists like ‘top YA fiction’, ‘top LGBTQ fiction’, etc. If you read a book that you enjoyed that is YA fiction, with LGBTQ characters, or is a mystery, or both, please send titles my way. 

As for my agent search, I’ve barely started. I have a list of agents who represent authors I admire, some of whom are in the same genre or have related content. Most of them are not taking new clients. 

Gardening in June is Mostly Watering and Waiting

The corn is about a foot tall, the tomatoes are taller and the beans and peas are up. We’re concerned about the tomatoes as they are not thriving as expected but we’re going to give them some time and see what happens. I completely failed with potatoes because I didn’t get seed potatoes before they ran out at the Eastside Farm and Garden store and got some at Spuds instead. The ones from Spuds must have been treated because they didn’t sprout. Fortunately, there are some volunteers from last year’s potatoes. Because there’s space not being taken up with potatoes, we’ve transplanted our cosmo seedlings into that area. 

I’m waiting to see carrots coming up from seeds I put in a couple of weeks ago. Some of the kale seeds have sprouted and I’ll put another round of seeds in soon. Because the garden isn’t taking much of our time right now, we’ve been doing clean-up work, and also taking time to sit and enjoy what we’ve accomplished. 

Chewelah Farm News

We are hoping to get to Chewelah in July. Mol and I are both craving time on the land and hanging out with Mom. We also want to visit with our neighbors. Not long ago we received the sad news that one of the neighbors we met during our last visit died. Richard Mittie was a character and someone we were both looking forward to knowing better. We are hoping to visit with Carol and offer our condolences. The neighborhood rallied around her, as they do, and we wish we could be there to lend a hand. 

Hopefully we’ll also be able to see our ridiculously cute grand nephew, Josheb – if his parents haven’t got him jet setting off somewhere else in the country. 

Recent Reading

I finished the amazing space opera trilogy The Unstoppable by Charlie Jane Anders. Ya’ll know by now that I’m a total fanboy for Charlie Jane, and also, this trilogy is really, really good. It really delivers as a space opera and as a page turner. The characters are really well rendered, given depth and internal conflicts, given motivations and goals that are sometimes at odds with everything and everyone else. The interplay between characters is complex and realistic. And the universe Charlie Jane created is mind-blowingly unique. The characters confront bigotry, colonialism, genocide. And, not least, the way gender and pronoun variations are worked into the story is realistic and not sensationalized. The third book is Promises Greater than Darkness and you should put all three on your TBR list.

I also read A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow, Fractured Fables #1. Splintered is a new take on the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale that throws out the tired misogyny of the Disney version and gives us a Sleeper who saves herself, and inspires others to do the same. 

I’m looking forward to resuming my reading of Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir and I’ve got some holds with the library in the YA Fic genre to read as well. 

As promised, here is the speech I gave during yesterday’s dedication of Trans flag crosswalks in Olympia. I hope you all have a great month of June and I’ll be back in July with more updates. 

June 3rd 2023 Trans Crosswalk Dedication

I love it when the pride flags go up all over town and now there’s even more to smile about. These are all indicators of how far we’ve come. When I first became an activist, in the 90s, I didn’t even fantasize about the city supporting and celebrating Pride Month – or even acknowledging it. That was back when I realized that the fight for equity was never ending. There’s no such thing as ‘finished’ as long as there are people who hate us and want us gone. This is a marathon, and fortunately it’s also a relay, because there are always younger generations coming into their own as LGBTQ+ activists. Thank goodness for youthful energy.

In the grand scheme of advancing civil rights for all, colored paint on pavement is a small thing. And also, huge because it sends a message that the people running the city want to be supportive of us. 

June is our month to celebrate and while we welcome family and allies to celebrate with us, that’s not the whole assignment, we’re going to need more from you, because even during a month set aside for joy, we can’t relax. Cis folks, straight folks – I invite you to step into discomfort and make space for our rage, our fear, our disappointment and our exhaustion at having to fight the same battles over and over again. Recognize that we are fighting for our lives and right to exist in this country. I looked at a map recently showing the states in relation to safety for trans and nonbinary people. 10 states out of 50 were colored green, meaning safer for trans people. Washington is one of those states, but before you pat yourself on the back, I want to be clear about something – it is not 100% safe to be gender variant anywhere in this country – transphobes do not wait for laws sanctioning their hatred and violence. 

putting rainbows on products, raising flags, painting crosswalks – these are all nice gestures and we welcome them. And also, these gestures and signals of support are only meaningful if they’re accompanied by action that addresses the inequities and violence our community faces. 

I want to acknowledge that what I am sharing about rage, exhaustion and skepticism are being experienced by all marginalized communities. Everyone deserves to be seen and advocated for all the time, not just one month or one day out of the year. 

So yes, we will celebrate being alive and still able to fight and create and love. And if you’ll all step up and take action, we might be able to relax our vigilance a little. Can you imagine what we could accomplish with our talent, vision and strength if we weren’t fighting for our lives constantly?

As exhausted as I am, that’s why I haven’t given up. I sincerely hope that support of trans and nonbinary people is not just a month on your calendar because we need you in this fight every day with us. 

Making Contact

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