SFWA

Author Resources

73939_577048382318763_336731172_nHi! So I just got home from my first stint at a con as a guest! Thank you to CopperCon and all those who attended. Very special thanks to T.M. Williams and Michelle M Welch for sharing panels with me. And to Sharon Skinner for hanging out and talking. I've posted previously about using the internet/social media to promote yourself and extend your network. Well, I did that at CopperCon, too. If you were at my two panels today--Writers and Social Media and Author Resources in the Digital Age--I promised that I would post the links I talked about. Here, my loves, is that post.  Other authors, please feel free to add your own resources to this list in the comments.

Also, if we met at CopperCon, say hi!

-j.

Social Networks:

Twitter Facebook Google Plus (G+)

Media/Image:

Pinterest - image sharing site Spotify - music sharing, playlists Instagram - image sharing site Flickr - image sharing site

Writer-centric websites:

Book Country - a workshopping website for authors to share work, find crit partners, talk about the industry on forums. Now has self-publishing options Absolute Write Water Cooler - forums that are a HUGE help! Preditors And Editors - watchdog site Writer Beware - watchdog site/blog Query Tracker - good info on what agents to query, forums, organizational tools Goodreads - book reviews Publisher's Marketplace - profiles on editors, agents; lists of book deals; good info on current events in the industry Hey Publisher - database of markets for short fiction

Some Twitter Chats: #askagent #yalitchat #writerchat #pubtip

Blog Hosting Websites:

Wordpress Blogger/Blogspot Tumblr

Some Authors/Professionals I Follow*: Chuck Wendig - author Paul Cornell - author Karina Cooper - author Cherie Priest - author Sam Sykes - author Peter Orullian - author Jim C Hines - author John Scalzi - author Delilah S Dawson - author Kerry Schafer - author Allison Pang - author Lou Anders - editor at Pyr books, author Lee Harris - editor at Angry Robot books Sara Megibow - agent Laura Bradford - agent Colleen Lindsay - former agent, professionally Random Penguin.

Podcasts:

Writing Excuses 

 

*If I didn't mention you here, I'm sorry. This list of people I follow is in the hundreds. If you want a comprehensive list, visit my Twitter page and check out all the cool people on my "following" list. <3

They Just Don't Get It

imagesSo, I finally had the chance to read the entirety of Mike Resnick and Barry Malzberg's 6-page defense of their sexist article about "lady writers". Aside from feeling incredibly stabby, I oscillated between horrified confusion and disappointment. (You can read their article here thanks to Radish Reviews. Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4, Page 5, Page 6.)  I thought I'd said all I had to say on the matter in a previous post--ha ha! silly Jamie!--but as it turns out, I've got a lot more to express on the matter. (And I wish that wasn't the case. I wish I didn't have to explain this, especially to two men older than my father.)  Then I saw Russell Davis's defense of the article and fell further into despair. Nope, I can't just sit on my hands and hope that someone else educates these guys. I can't just hope that inspiration whacks them in the head with a Harley Quinn-style Clue Hammer. I really do have to explain this. Resnick and Malzberg would have you thinking that they are being censored, that the backlash they're getting is some sort of "thought policing". In stead of considering the possibility that what they said might have been truly offensive, they wave it off and further demean the readers by stooping to name calling. ("Liberal fascists"? Seriously, guys?) They spin the anger and nitpick at the words. To them, we're pissed off that they called an editor "beautiful". I paraphrase, but it's as if they're saying, "What? Can't a guy call a woman beautiful? What's wrong with that? Everyone wants to be called beautiful, right?"

What makes it even more appallingly thick-headed is that both men point out when they're talking about a woman. It's as if they need to prove they aren't sexist because look how many women they know. (No, really, I'm not a homophobe. I know tons of queers.)

They don't get it.

Russell Davis defends them by saying this:

In fact, pretty much everyone is sexist from time to time, where the definition of sexist is behavior, conditions, or attitudes that foster stereotypes based on gender. The reason for this is simple: we're human and we sort both our interactions and our memory by sense, type, preference/non-preference, etc.

Davis spends the majority of the time looking at the issue as one pertaining to physiological differences between men and women. He goes on at length about how the sexes are different and studies show that our sensory perceptions vary based on gender. He dances all around the point but never hits on it. He spends all this time making excuses for his opinions and those of others without actually taking the time to understand the anger being displayed.

My favorite part of his article, though, is this.

And when we describe someone else, these physical and gender traits are part and parcel of that description. It's interesting, isn't it, that we insist on the use of adjectives in our fiction and the non-use of adjectives in our lives? Imagine if someone wrote, "I once met a writer at a convention." There's nothing there, is there? It’s gender neutral and lacks detail. Any reply to that would be a host of detail-seeking questions.

On the other hand, if someone wrote, "I once met this beautiful woman, Jane Doe, a really amazing fantasy writer at the World Science Fiction Convention," that’s a much more clear statement of memory. Is the use of the word “beautiful” sexist, an attempt to impart an observable fact, or simply the writer attempting to accurately describe someone from memory – a process which begins with sense perception and judgment?

First of all, I am amazed that there is a sci-fi/fantasy author who finds it a problem to entertain a "host of detail-seeking questions". Isn't that what we live for? Being asked (and asking) questions rather than shutting down all dialogue?

But I digress.

He goes on to say that he would find nothing wrong with saying "I once met this beautiful woman, Jane Doe, a really amazing fantasy writer."  This sentence is very telling, though. We--as writers--know that the rhythm and order of our words, the emphasis we place on them, can completely change the intent of a sentence. When I see that statement, what I understand from it is this:

I met a person and the most memorable thing about that person was their physical appearance. Also? They have this skill that I appreciate. 

There are certain connotations with that statement that come from our societal narrative. Beauty and brains rarely walk hand in hand, we're taught. A woman's worth is in her appearance, we're told. So when you put these words in this order, you're saying way more than you might think. As a writer, I expect you to know that.

The problem represented by Resnick, Malzberg, Davis and many others is not one about censorship. It's not about something we all do, these guys are just being called out on it. It's not a witch hunt. No, the problem is best demonstrated by the fact that they don't get what the problem is. They are oblivious to it. As I wrote in my comment to Mr. Davis, the problem is that when discussing one's professional merits, their appearance (or race, or religion, or sexuality or or or) has nothing to do with the matter. These men chose to highlight her looks rather than discuss what she offered to the industry. Doing so demeans her (and others) and removes humanity.

 

It means you've stopped seeing me as an equal. 

To make it more disappointing...all three men I've mentioned in this post lean on the "But this is the way it's always been" line. Yeah. It has been this way. There is a rich heritage in any industry of sexism and yes, it does go both ways. Having a discussion with a friend of mine yesterday, she was appalled that men  in her profession are treated like pieces of meat. She's a teacher.

So, yes, I see that these men think they are making valid points. But they're completely missing the epicenter of the argument.

Author Delilah S. Dawson asked for other writers on Twitter to repost if they'd experienced gender discrimination. Honestly, I can't say that I have. (If I have been, I wouldn't know it. Much of what I do is via email and I have no way of knowing if I've been looked over due to my gender.) Is that because I'm new? I haven't had time to get on the radar? Is it because I have a gender neutral name? Is it pure dumb luck? Who knows. I do know that in this situation I feel devalued. I feel like Malzberg, Resnick and Davis and others like them don't see me as an equal, therefore, I have to fight twice as hard for that validation. I've been there before in other careers. I've been the object of harassment and vilification because I have breasts.

Sexism isn't always as blatant as a smack on the ass or a lewd comment. Most often it is subtle. It speaks to us every day in advertising, television, books, memes...it is a societal issues. This SFWA thing? It's a symptom. It's a demonstration of the larger issue.

And I'm sad that such creative people with so many years of experience at life, so many years writing accounts of the human experience, wouldn't understand that.

But they don't.

They really don't get it.

 

Edited 6/5/13 to add: Mr. Davis has posted this in regards to the responses to his earlier blog. Interesting read.

An Open Letter to John Scalzi, President of the SFWA

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The past few days have been interesting if you're a science-fiction/fantasy author on the internet. One of the author organizations, the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, has found itself in a controversy. Their quarterly publication The Bulletin is under scrutiny for its choice of cover art and two particular articles regarding the role of women in science-fiction and fantasy.
In one dialogue between authors Mike Resnick and Barry N. Malzberg, the two men are asked to discuss women in the field. This soon dissolves into water cooler conversation about how "lady writers" look in swim suits. In another opinion piece, C.J. Henderson recommends that women seek the "quiet dignity" of Barbie.
Seriously?
There have been many good responses to these articles, and John Scalzi--the current president of the SFWA--has jumped right in. He publicly apologized on his Twitter feed for anything that happened "under his watch" and has formed a task force to discuss the future direction of the SFWA. John has called for any and all complaints or comments on the matter to be directed to him (president@sfwa.org). Not to be a lemming (or a llama), but I need to say something. And I feel the need to not just share it with the SFWA, but with you as well. Below is my letter to John Scalzi in his role as President of the SFWA.
Dear Mr. Scalzi,
My name is Jamie Wyman and I was gifted with a unisex name. It's true that any amount of Googling will bring you to my site or Twitter and immediately out me as a woman, but the first impression of my name is ambiguous. This is sometimes helpful as we still live in a world where women are treated as second-class citizens, where having a vagina makes a person somehow inferior. You see, I can send letters and manuscripts with my name on them and generally not worry that I am immediately shunted into one mental bin or another.
I shouldn't have to think about these things, but I do. It's The Way Things Are, and I'm no stranger to professional sexism. I was a drummer from age 12 up. If you're not familiar, allow me to tell you that there are very few places where testosterone flows more wildly than in a drumline. I heard the jokes. I grinned and kept my mouth shut while my bandmates talked about this "piece of ass" or those "tits" or made blowjob jokes. I kept my eyes forward and my jaw set as someone asked me if my "pussy hurt" because I'd taken off my drum rig for a break. I dealt with all of that silently because that's The Way Things Are.
What's exciting about this day and age, though, is that Things are changing. Men and women alike are being enlightened that the 1950's are long gone and there are different ways to live. One way that our society is shown such alternatives? Media. Television. Movies. Stories. And what better place to look for a bright future or a warning to be better than in the realm of Science Fiction and Fantasy? Women can be captains, mechanics, warriors, presidents and no one bats an eyelash because Things can be different.I've been writing all my life and actively seeking publication for more than 5 years now. That whole time I've used a membership in the SFWA as a personal carrot, a reward dangling in front of me to keep me running. And this year I made my first two sales! While neither market is currently on a list that will grant me that coveted SFWA sticker on my Con badge, the organization is still one I aspire to belong to.Right now, though, I'm wondering if this is still a worthy goal. The past few issues of the SFWA's publication The Bulletin have been loaded with sexist gaffes. These articles are not just offensive, they are disappointing. The cover...eh, I've got no gripe. It's stereotypical fantasy art. Does the cover play into a trope? Yes. But, I'm not one who usually judges books by covers. The sideboob is annoying and gratuitous, and we both know that. The real damage is in the articles. When I saw the comments about "lady writers" I felt transported to Don Draper's office.  Then the opinion piece that says women should strive for Barbie's "quiet dignity"? Seriously, the previous cover and these article combine to form one grossly unfortunate juxtaposition.What it comes down to is this, Mr. Scalzi: I'm a writer. My stories have merit. I work hard at my craft. I love what I do. At no time does my gender have anything to do with the quality of my work. You know that and I know you know that. Seeing such archaic ideas put forth in multiple SFWA publications, however, leaves me wondering if I want to be part of yet another organization that trivializes me based on my chromosomes. If I want to be objectified and put down for being a woman in a boys club, I could go right back to the drumline and take all the sexual harassment that entails. Why should I pay to be part of the SFWA if my merit is just going to be reduced to a discussion on how I look in a swimsuit?
It's not okay. And the reactions--these men saying that they are being bullied or censored because they are being called out as sexist bigots--is not okay.
I need you to do better, Mr. Scalzi. When writing a story about women in the publishing industry, perhaps it should be told by other women. Or better yet, why make that distinction at all? My looks, my gender, my skin color, my tattoos, my hair color, my dress size, my sexual preference, my religion.... none of this matters. None of these things are reflections on my worth as a human being nor should they be used to validate my career or the quality of my writing."She's good....for a girl. And she's cute, too." I heard that enough in the drumline. Then, I let my percussive skills prove to them that I was someone to deal with, that I was a force to be reckoned with and not dismissed. I will do no less here, Mr. Scalzi. I'll continue to pour my heart, soul and blood into my words and get better at storycraft. I'll make more sales and qualify for SFWA membership.
At this point, though, I don't know that I'll join. I don't know that I want that particular feather in my cap if it's just going to be pink in deference to my lady nature.
Do better. Do better by all of us. Prove that science fiction and fantasy aren't wrong when they tell stories of a better place where no one gives a damn about someone's gender, skin color or pointed ears. The SFWA is no more a utopia than Star Fleet, but we still look to it for guidance and validation. If the SFWA doesn't respect the role women play in all the worlds of science fiction and fantasy, why should people respect women in this world?
The place of women in sci-fi is the same place as a man; on panels, in the captain's chair, leading the charge, slaying demons and changing the worlds. Because that's the way Things Can Be.
Regards,
Jamie Wyman, author.
I hate this. I respect Mr. Scalzi immensely. I just enjoyed seeing him at Phoenix Comic Con last week! And I know that he sees the ridiculous way women are portrayed on covers or in art. I know that Scalzi does not agree with these articles and he's a good man who just wants to spend his last month or two in office with churros. But I had to say this. And like the man said, it happened under his watch, so he has to take the flack.
Guh.Quiet dignity, indeed.
**Edited 6/3 to add: I've written a follow up post directly addressing comments made by Malzberg, Resnick and Russell Davis. Please read that as well as it further explains my feelings on this issue.