The perspective of intelligence

Several years ago, during Mister’s 6th grade year one of the reasons a Lit teacher gave for him being incapable of functioning at a “normal” level was that they read a book about a boy being bullied and in the book the bully “left something in his locker to get him in big trouble.” When asked to write a short essay on what might have been in the locker Mister wrote that it was a watermelon and it was bad because it was messy and sticky and brought ants. The teacher insisted that this was a completely wrong answer because clearly the obvious answer was a weapon of some kind, and Mister’s inability to reach this conclusion was typical of how he was unable to understand things. Personally I thought a watermelon was a fantastic answer, with some really rational reasoning behind it. It also reflected Mister’s complete lack of knowledge of school violence and showed that he was completely unable to imagine anyone would do something as horrible as take a gun to school. But this teacher was pretty upset that Mister didn’t “get it”. I couldn’t stop thinking of that conversation with the teacher as I watched this:

http://www.upworthy.com/heres-why-simply-going-to-school-makes-some-brilliant-kids-think-theyre-not-at-all-smart?c=ufb1

I mean, what does it say when the autistic kid you are trying to say is incapable of being a “real human” is more moral, more creative, more compassionate, and in at least one way MORE INTELLIGENT than you?

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The Burka Avenger

is now available with English subtitles! I am ridiculously excited about this!

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Why I don’t blog so much anymore

This is exactly why. This stupid, mean, blind rant about this blog wondering why we (authors) have to pick sides in the Hatchett-Amazon, or in a larger view in the self-published vs not-self-published wars. Why the hell do we even need to make anything a war? What exactly does it bring to the table in the flavor of bettering publishing to behave in such nasty, close-minded cultish ways.

Yeah, I have some stuff published on Amazon. They pay me regularly and enable my publisher to sell my books to a wider audience. They still do a lot of things I don’t agree with. They still play some nasty games trying to strong arm publishers out of every cent, right and hair they have.

And yeah, all the big publishers certainly have their dirty tricks skewing the numbers in their favor which made a hole Amazon exploited that became profitable self publishing. The big publishers are not innocent and instead of doing the logical thing (which I said they should have done years and years ago, before Kindle and self publishing hit big, or in the case of the Kindle were even out, which is come together and make their own site for the purpose of selling books and ebooks) they tried to out dirty Amazon with setting ebook prices etc.

These stupid games are why you have to diversify as an author. Don’t let all your products get caught up in one side. You can only trust any corporate entity to a certain extent and that can change as any moment, so have a damn back up plan or be prepared to deal with some damage. (Dorchester, anyone?)

And on the writer side there’s the increasing pressure to pick a side. To become a nauseating sycophant for “small press” or “ebooks” or “indie” or “legacy” or what the fuck ever.

I don’t care anymore. I don’t care about what blogs you read or comment on, or even what genre you write. I want good books. I want to make good books. I want to read good books. I want to be able to afford the books and find them when I want them. I want them to be mine once I pay for them, to give away, keep, throw away, whatever. I want to be respected as a reader and offered the best possible story and presentation that the publisher/author partnership is capable of. I want to make sure you, my reader, get the same from me and I only pursue publishers I think will offer us both that.

Anything else is distraction. And I have more than enough already taking me away from writing. I already have to face everything from heartworm positive dogs dumped on my doorstep, and kids, a partner who is laid off, a house that is over 100 years old and needs help to the day to day grind of working in a medical field with a fairly high burn out rate.

I don’t need these little bits of drama. I need words.

So instead of being on here ranting or “fisking” I sit down to console my dogs that are still shivering from fireworks still going off (yes, at 1:30 am.) I read. I struggle to get my words in by the week, or get those submissions out when rejections roll in. It’s not easy. Sometimes I don’t have enough spoons to get it done. I almost never get everything I want to do in a day done.

But if I’m going to waste time, it’s going to be playing Pokemon, or a stupid little Facebook game, or napping, not screaming on the internet about how someone is wrong.

Except for this post, because it’s 1:30 in the morning and the dogs are keeping me up by being scared of the fireworks.

P.S. Happy 4th, y’all!

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Butch Update

Butch’s treatment is paid for! You guys are so great! This week we started Butch on antibiotics to kill off the circulating worms in his blood stream. He will be on these meds for a month, near the end of which we’ll give him the meds to kill the adult worms in his body.

I found this pretty informative link about heartworm treatment. And I’d like to take this opportunity to encourage everyone to keep their dogs on year round heartworm treatment. Your monthly Heartworm pill might be pricier than you’d like, but it is nowhere near as expensive as heartworms. And Butch shows no signs, no coughing, nothing is visibly wrong with him.

Please, please protect your pets!

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Butch take two

I have finalized my agreement with a local rescue who is paying for part of Butch’s heartworm treatment, but I will still need to raise about $150 to cover my side of things. So I am relaunching my begging for donations to save this handsome boy’s life.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

I will take donations of any amount sent directly to leatherzebra@gmail.com through paypal.

Additionally any one who donates at least $5 can elect to receive a free ebook copy of any of the following books (these are the ones I hold the rights to):

The List

Private Lessons (Deepdale Acres #1)

Running Free (Deepdale Acres #2)

Pleasure Horse (Deepdale Acres #3)

And anyone who donates at least $15 can elect to receive any NECKLACE from my etsy store (Some of them are one of a kind, so first come first serve. I will attempt to remove necklaces as soon as they are gone.)

Anyone who donates at least $50 can elect to receive an 8″ x 10″ hand painted portrait of a pet of their choice. Examples below.

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Thank you so much in advance!

(The short version of who Butch is: He was dumped in our back yard about two months ago by persons unknown. He is a boxer mix, intact male who is heartworm positive, but also one of the sweetest, laid back dogs I’ve ever met. After contacting almost every rescue in my area only one answered, much less offered help, and the general consensus is given his pitt bull appearance, his heartworm positive state and most likely genetically-bred weak hips area metro animal services would simply euthanize him. My partner is currently laid off and my job is, honestly not enough to support us, much less pay for treatment, however there is no other home available and we cannot choose certain death for this sweet, handsome boy.)

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Downswing

I haven’t blogged lately. Primarily because the things I want to talk about are way, way too personal/confidential to make public or because I’ve been on a downswing most nights and don’t want to just whine or complain about things. Even if they are valid complaints.

I don’t think I can go very in depth without getting morose, but here’s a sampling.

When I first started writing urban fantasy was a new thing and a lot fewer people were doing it so lots of agents were not sure how to market it. Now it’s glutted and really hard to sell in. I feel like I missed my chance by not being a faster writer.

Likewise around the time of my first real agent hunt I was 50/50 on requests for sample pages and fulls versus form rejects. And non responses? Very low. Now it seems like most places can’t even be bothered to send a no thanks. I really, do understand it, having been on the editor side of things. But it’s disheartening.

Also frustrating is some of the people I know are agent hunting right now too. I’ve been a pre-reader for several amazing authors. I mean absolutely amazing. They make me dream of one day owning a publisher so I can run up to people with their books in hand and make them buy it. And to think that those people are struggling too…it sucks. If these fabulous writers can’t make it, how can I hope to?

Sometimes I have a hard time even sending out submissions.  I mean, what’s the point? I could just self publish right now if getting my work out there was that important. I just worked on my numbers for my self pubbed works, and while not amazing they are better than that book sitting on my hard drive is getting.

And with that, I think I have the makings of a long term series, with like, role playing tie in and such. I’ve sent it around and got a ton of close calls. So do I keep aiming high with it? Or do I start looking into smaller presses?

What’s the hardest is that there is no right answer. This whole writing business is so damned subjective, you know. So it’s really easy to bury myself in a book (or Pokemon Silver) or the day job where I see a direct change by my actions.

I’ve been doing this for like 12 years now, and it hasn’t gotten any easier.

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#YesAllWomen

My friend and inspiration Michelle Pendergrass posted a status on Facebook today lining out just a few of the times she was discriminated against or belittled for being female. With the news buzzing lately about killer Elliot Rodger it’s hard not to find yourself in these kinds of discussions in the flesh-to-flesh world as well.

It’s really important to talk about all this, I think, to share our experiences with this mortal coil. So taking her lead I want to pass on a few experiences, no expectations or pity, please. And feel free to share your own experiences in the comments.

-I was given two life roles that were acceptable choices by my mother growing up: pastor’s wife or missionary’s wife. Nothing else was an option.

-Until fifth grade I was privately educated in Christian schools (there were three people in my 3rd grade class and it was taught by my mother), the kind that only used A Beka books (if you don’t click the link, they’re a Young Earth creationist, bible literalist company. If you’ve seen a WTF picture on the net of a completely anti-science science textbook it was probably an A Beka book.) The kind that only thought it was acceptable for female to wear pants if it was under their dress on the way to school in below freezing weather. Removing the pants was the first thing we had to do daily. As in, we could not leave the church foyer until we’d done so.

-Furthermore not only did I go to school in such and environment, my mom worked in the daycare and summer care as well, AND it was our church. So from about 6:30 to 4pm or at late as 6pm five days a week I was there. And for 2-3 hours at least every Sunday. Plus some Sunday nights. And Wednesdays were Awana, so I was there until at least 8pm those nights. And some Saturdays if there was a special event or something.

-My mom kicked my dad out and divorced him when she caught him with another woman for the third time. She told me multiple times that divorcing him was the biggest mistake of her life.

-My mom was diagnosed with cancer not long after that. One day some of her sisters came down for a surprise visit and discovered me, at six years old, trying to feed my two younger siblings (one was an infant) and get the house clean and take care of her because she was too sick to get out of bed. Because if she was incapable it was my job to take care of everyone.

-A day after she died an aunt pulled me aside and told me that I was the woman of the family now and it was my job to take care of my siblings. I was nine.

-My dad continued the trend, leaving the responsibility for cleaning and parenting my siblings up to me. At one point I was told to “take care of the situation” when my sister was having a screaming tantrum in a Kroger. So I dragged her, literally, out to the car and tried to restrain her. She was five, I was eleven. She hit me multiple times and kicked me. She ended up kicking the windshield of the car and breaking it. We both got screamed at.

-My dad never said a nice word about my mom, not even after she died. She was always “a bitch”. Even when I tried to talk about her as part of my grieving only a few days, weeks and months after she’d died.

-Every time a girlfriend broke up with my dad he would tell us, very clearly, that she’d gone back to her abusive ex and if that was what she wanted in a man over a nice guy like him she deserved to be hit. Every. Time. Every. Woman.

-He had a girlfriend for almost two years before we moved to Kentucky. About six months after we moved here they broke up. He one night told me that he had proposed to her twice, and she turned him down both times because of us kids. She didn’t want us. Then the bit about her being a bitch and going back to her ex who hit her.

-The highest compliment I ever received from my dad was the night when I found him drunk and passed out on the toilet and got him back to bed (and cleaned up after him). He told me I was going to make someone a great wife someday.

-Simple things, like providing my sister and I with correct sized clothes, underwear, shoes and tooth brushes was a massive hassle. But my dad took my brother to skate shops and the mall multiple times a week, blowing hundreds of dollars on skateboards and Nikes. One school year my brother and my dad bought a $200 pair of shoes at the mall. That same trip my sister and I were given $200 to split for the entirety of our school supplies, from backpacks to clothes and shoes and pencils.

-Things deteriorate. He drank more. I fell in with a group of people who started out as my friends, but then began a long cycle of making fun of me, bullying me, stealing from me etc. I was not allowed to turn on the heat in my own home. Notes denying me the right to eat the food in my own kitchen appeared on the fridge. If I stayed in a room with any of them they would begin going on about what a fat, pimply, ugly bitch I was. That “they couldn’t get out of bed in the morning because my rolls covered the floor and they were afraid of getting trapped”. My belongings were stolen so many times, to the point where I bought a door handle with a lock for my room. It was broken before it was even put in the door.

-I was told multiple times, in a day, that the state of the house was my fault for not cleaning it.

-My dad had multiple drunken conversations with me (he was drunk, not me) about how much he loved women and how great of a lover he could be to my brother’s female friends. He liked to talk about their anatomy too. They were all 2-4 years younger than me.

-I once confronted him on how I was being treated by the “friends” that he let live with us. He was sympathetic and said he would make it stop. Later that I night I heard him talking about it with them. He was laughing at how angry I had been and agreeing that I was just a fat lazy slob and they were contributing to the house so they mattered and I didn’t.

-My mom left us a small inheritance. Once I got close to 18 he started talking about “how much of it should be his”. When I finally moved out he outright demanded $14000 from me “for raising you”. He pushed us for this money a lot. To the point where Jason got mad and confronted him over the phone over it. Jason said that there was no way I could have borrowed that kind of money from him and he wouldn’t have noticed. My dad said “She’s a lying whore. You shouldn’t trust her.” I know this for a fact because I was on another extension when he said it.

-Apparently he also had loose lips because a few months after I moved out a woman confronted me at a restaurant to tell me what a horrible child I was for lying about my dad in all those ways and treating him so terribly. He “told her all those things I’d been saying about him and they were terrible lies.” I had never met that woman before in my life.

-Remember that bit about all women leaving him for abusive exes? I received calls from two family members wanting to know if I need to “be rescued”. Apparently he told my whole family that Jason (who was the first person who I ever remember defending me against my dad) was beating me. To this day most of my family still believes it. For a while they refused to have any contact with him, or listen to me talk about him at all, even the happy stuff (because the happy stuff was just my desperate way to try to convince them that he isn’t abusive). We’ve both stopped trying to maintain a relationship with them.

-When I told my grandmother that I was pregnant with Mister her exact response was “Why do you girls keep doing this to me?”

-There are multiple acquaintances that I see 3-4 times a year each who I have to dress for. I have to wear loose t-Shirts and pants because if I wear even a V-neck they are incapable of speaking to my face.

-I was hired at Burger King because I was “a nice responsible girl”, like the other nice responsible girls who were all hired as well. We were all big bossomed and given shirts several times too small to wear as uniform shirts, with management refusing to order correct-sized ones.

-At Borders one of my coworkers would always make crude sexual comments, including asking me to blow him and also calling me a “fat bitch” whenever we worked directly together. When he stole on camera in front of me and I reported him because I feared for my job (that whole ON CAMERA thing) he got a bunch of my coworker riled up on facebook and they refused to speak to me at work, including a manager who refused to come help with customers and register issues. They bragged on their facebook page about “punishing” me.

-At Petsmart I was called a bitch by customers a few times. Once it was an associate and I, who were both cursed at and called “stupid bitches” by a client. We called in a manager for help and the manager forced us to perform the services for free. (And the coworker was on commission, so it was a double blow to her.)

-After my dad had a stroke my brother told me it was my fault for not “taking care of him the way you should be.” He expected me to let my dad move into my house and support him after the stroke. He hasn’t spoken to me since I told him no and he said I was just making excuses to not “do my job”. (That excuse is that I refuse to have a sexually abusive man around my children.)

-I to this day cannot call most members of my family without getting a guilt trip over no longer speaking to my dad. They say I should forgive him, that he feels bad for his actions.

-Which is why he told my sister she had to choose between speaking to me and speaking to him. My sister is one of my best friends these days and doesn’t regret her choice at all.

I know that it’s completely possible I just know a lot of assholes. But my life has been large swaths of belittling and emotional abuse. So much so that I don’t have a lot of the “bully called me a bitch” “group of guys catcalled me” stories. I’m sure some stuff like that happened, but it pales to the other things that were happening.

Furthermore the constant second guessing, disbelief and accusations of abuse I get from my family is doubly abusive. Saying these things are hurtful enough, but most of my interactions with them as an adult have been passive aggressive attempts to shame me for “choosing” Jason over them.

I don’t know what is harder for them to believe, that I am an adult who is capable of making good decisions; or that I am worthy of being loved.

#YesAllWomen is important to me, because it is not at all how I was raised.

 

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Miss Michele, how does your garden grow?

Sorta like this.

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Number 5

I talk about my dogs a lot. Part of it is because I work with dogs in my day job, so pets of all kinds are pretty important in my life. Most of it, though, is because I can blatantly share tons and tons about the furballs because even Nicky P. doesn’t send me emails and comments threatening to hurt or rape them. It’s safer to share things about the dogs than it is about the kids.

We have three, Dizzy, Astrid and Georgie. Earlier this year one of my coworkers got into something of a mess and had to rehome her dogs. A second coworker adopted one of them, then got into a car accident and lost her ability to take the pup back and forth, and thus avoid the 2 dog limit on her apartment. With only 3 months left in her lease it wasn’t really worth it to have the dog (and older dachshund) end up in a shelter. So, having a big yard and two kids with plenty of energy I volunteered to hold onto her for a bit so she could stay out of the shelter system.

Macie made 4.

Well, last week someone dumped another dog over our back fence. Keep in mind I don’t live out in the country or anything. I’m in the middle of a older suburban area. Magically we ended up with a very sweet, gentle, intact male happily playing with our little pack.

Butch is number 5.

 butch

We can’t really afford another dog. Jason was laid off from his job in April and I have a good job that I love, but it won’t support us. But he is soooo sweet, so gentle, so good natured!

Butch had a check up at the vet today. We thought he was around 6-8. The vet says he’s only around 3. He got all his shots, was treated for intestinal worms and had a heartworm test done (results tomorrow.) We would very much like to get him neutered.

Because we can’t keep him. We really can’t. The only reason we’ve been able to do so well with him this last week is because Jason has been home all day and because he is a very relaxed, easy going dog. And we have a nice big yard.

So we are asking for donations for his medical care so we can rehome him. Our local humane society allows people to list pets they need to rehome online and search for a new place through their shelter. But they have to be fixed and up to date on shots. We can continue to handle the daily care and food. I do get a discount for working at a vet clinic for shots and such. And we have a local program that neuters pit bull mixes for free that we’re asking for help as well.

We’ve done neighborhood searches for his owner, put up flyers, listed him on every area lost & found site we can find and tried to make his face as visible as possible. But it looks like he was dumped and he deserves a lot better.

The only flaws he has is that he still has his testicles (an easy fix), doesn’t do well in a kennel and is very likely part pitt bull. The latter two make it really hard on a dog to exist in a shelter.

I am soliciting direct donations to my paypal account at leatherzebra@gmail.com to avoid the fees that crowdfunding sites charge. If anyone wants to contribute but is nervous about the money going directly to Butch’s medical bills feel free to email me and I’ll send you a copy of the bills if it helps.

Right now Butch’s medical bills are $60.28 after the donations I’ve already received. (Most of this is the medicine for the intestinal worms.) Every little bit helps, helps a lot actually since our finances are so tight. We appreciate any tiny bit of help because it really adds up.

There are a lot of dogs without homes out there, and I know I can’t save them all. But I can save this one.

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Passing on some links.

I only recently blogged about my concerns with crowdfunding, and lo and behold, we find out that the government takes fraud via crowdfunding seriously. Good.

Brian Keene posted a nice blog about rape, its use in fiction and people threatening rape on the internet. It’s a good read as well.

Finally there’s a thread going around Twitter. It started with #WeNeedDiverseBooks and has morphed to #DiversifyYourShelves. I humbly offer the following books (other than my own Last Brother, Last Sister. And yes, damn right I’d like to give my publisher a cookie for putting a lovely Black Woman on the cover.)

My recommendations:

Seressia Glass- Romance, UF

Ann Aguirre- Particularly the Corine Solomon series (UF)

Aliette de Bodard- Obsidian & Blood (Aztec UF)

Jim Hines- Princess series (F)

B.M. Hodges- Zombie Fever: Malaysia Outbreak (H)

Lee Thomas- In the Closet, Under the Bed (H)

Wrath James White- damn near anything by the man (H)

Andre Duza- Hollow-Eyed Mary (Graphic Novel)

Marvel Comics (Various)- Runaways (Graphic Novel)

Chesya Burke- Pretty much anything (SF/F/H)

Sara M. Harvey- Blood of the Angels series (F)

K.H. Koehler- Raiju (F)

Naomi Clark- Urban wolf series (UF)

I’m sure there are a ton more too, that I just haven’t gotten to or can’t remember.

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