cathschaffstump: (Default)


Honest to God, I intend to talk about Taichi Keaton, but like many people, I was sidelined last week by the US voting Donald Trump as president. So, instead of moving forward with our first female president, we now have a president who in past political time frames would have been asked to step down. Sixteen women came forward about being molested, and he was elected. So, a bit of shock here, of course. White America, even white women, didn't care enough. Well. Well, indeed.

Once the final analysis came in, Clinton won the popular vote. The Electoral college gave voice to parts of the country that wanted something different than the diverse America that is naturally emerging. They sent the message, loud and clear, that they wanted to be in charge because...well, white people should be in charge. Should I have been surprised? No. Was I surprised? Yes.

Hate crime has gone up. It's like opening Pandora's box, giving the KKK and extremists a voice and a license to move forward. If only it were them, because Trump's election has seemed to give people I assumed didn't possess these -isms a chance to be MUCH more public about the -isms.

In my real life, I am a teacher of immigrants and refugees. Most of these folks are followers of Islam. They are real people, like you and me who also have hopes and dreams. They don't want to blow up your city hall or take your jobs. These people are my students and my responsibility. I have been busy trying to explain this turn of events to them. I have been busy trying to understand this turn of events myself.

Alternatingly, I have been distraught, angry, disgusted, and grief-stricken. I have a political list of to-dos each week. Make phone calls. Protest. Get some real news. Stay off Facebook and the silos there. Work hard and stand up for those who are now considered less than, more so than it has seemed for the last several years. This problem has always been there. I thought there were fewer of you than there were, racists. Misogynists. Homophobes. Forgive me if I don't celebrate you coming out of the closet.

And those of you who are getting back to "the new normal." Nice invocation of white privilege there. I can't do that. My responsibility as an American is to defend all of us. I like the constitution. I dig religious freedom. I like liberty and justice for all. Sorry you can't be bothered.

I know many of you feel the same as I do, and I know there is nothing we can do to change these results. But we can hold this new American accountable every inch of the way. I know we are not alone. I know conscientious legislators have our backs. Let's let them know we have theirs.

And for those of you who think I might be engaging in histrionics, that's really sexist, but hey, check back with me next year. I would be very happy to be wrong. I did, however, grow up abused by my family and bullied in a small town. I recognize this feeling. Only this time, I'm not a kid and I have people to protect. I'm going to leave you with my favorite bit of advice from that guy a lot of you pretend to worship. Jesus advises, "Love your neighbor as you would yourself." Would you like a swastika pinned to your door? Or a balloon full of pee thrown on you even though you are indigenous and were here first? Maybe you'd like a cross burned in your yard?

I am deeply, deeply disturbed. Next time, I'm gonna talk about why doing art in the new America Trumpland is more important than ever. See you in a couple of weeks.

Mirrored from Writer Tamago.

cathschaffstump: (Default)

Fewer links for Unreliable Narrators? It's NaNoWriMo, and we're all diligently writing, so...we'll be back in a couple with some more stuff and NaNo updates.

Paradise Icon and NaNoWriMo

Revenant Harvest III: Lobbying 101 by Stephanie Vance

The Unreliable Narrators Watch...Chinese Ghost Story

Mirrored from Writer Tamago.

cathschaffstump: (Default)

This year, Bryon built a Day of the Dead display. The costume is the design for La Muerta from the Book of Life, which, if you haven't seen it, is a very good film, and it proves that Mexico is the center of the universe.








Mirrored from Writer Tamago.

cathschaffstump: (Default)

You might remember J. Kathleen Cheney from several reviews on this blog, and a podcast over at Unreliable Narrators. Recently, she has decided to begin self-publishing on her own. She made an interesting decision to mostly self-publish, and I believe as a reader it's paying off.

I've been lucky enough to receive two of Cheney's recent publications. Whatever Else explores the boundaries of trust in a relationship. It is lyrical and beautiful rendered, typical of Cheney's romantic prose.

The revelation for me was Cheney's interconnected series of short stories collected in The Dragon's Child. An interesting mix of Russian and Chinese culture, the story is different in mood and tone from anything I've read of Cheney's yet, but it is still very good. I would recommend it if you would like your fantasy to be a bit more off the beaten path.

One of the benefits of writing novellas is that the writer can create faster, and Cheney's fans must be pleased with more available stories. I of course look forward to future novels, but encourage you to visit her website to check out her new offerings.

Mirrored from Writer Tamago.

cathschaffstump: (Default)

I didn't come across Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens until later in my life, I liked to read more Dickens than the average teen, but this was not a book I ran across until I saw the film that featured Derek Jacobi in the 1990s. Then I went and hunted down the book. The BBC recently did an adaption of the book that was more accurate, with excellent leads.

There are so many ways in which I identify with Amy Dorrit that I was bound to pick her as a character I felt was alive. I could also write a similar post about Arthur Clennam, the male lead in the book, as I grow older, but Amy's particular circumstances, while not an exact mirror of my own, bore enough similarities that I was riveted by her.

Amy grew up in a debtor's prison with an extremely dysfunctional family, one so rich that it had no idea how to be poor. Amy was born in the Marshallsea Prison and took care of them all, until, through the ouevres of a large Dickensian support cast, the family fortune was reacquired. Then Amy becomes an embarrassment to them all. Of course, in true Dickensian fashion, Amy is almost saintly as she takes care of her family, but there are these glimpses underneath of anger, exasperation, and confusion as she deals with a family who suddenly sees her many virtues as flaws. Unrequited love echoes through the novel as well, and Amy is made more interesting by the complex emotions she feels for the hero of the novel that she cannot realize, at first because she is in the lowest class, and then in the highest.

I would love to talk about Little Dorrit deep into the night with anyone. Such a good protrayal of some of the issues of its time is worth my time. That said, there are flaws. There's some deeply Dickensian...coincidence that dates the novel, so you want to watch out.

Full disclosure: Octavia and Lucia Klaereon are the mirror universe versions of Fanny and Amy Dorrit. The best work you read influences your writing.

Next up: Taichi Keaton

Mirrored from Writer Tamago.

cathschaffstump: (Default)

Happy October, everyone! This week has been fraught with peril. Okay, not really fraught, mind, but I had a sick day and a thing that lasted for about four days, and I am beginning to have trouble with my eyes from working all day with the computer, and then working a great deal at night on the computer. Mostly, I blame my cell phone, which has tiny characters, and upon which I will be spending LESS time.

Interesting trivia fact about me. I have brain damage. When I was young, my left eye developed the wrong focal point. Back in the 70s, we didn't prevent this from happening by putting the pirate patch over the weaker eye until it straightened itself out. So I have one good, full time eye that does all the work, and one part time eye, which does what it damn well feels like. The freeloader. Both eyes are pretty and look healthy, but my right eye is really feeling the strain of an office career AND a writer career. Add in the stress of focus shift as we age, and it's not too hard to understand why my eyes hurt.

Liberal amounts of eye drops aside, I've been doing some research. Every year in the spring, my vision insurance allows me basic new lenses. This year I will be looking into blue light reduction lenses. Meanwhile, I'm dimming the lights, the computer screens, and trying to spend less time on computers, and the time I do spend with bigger print. I am going to try to more or less abandon my cellphone back to once a day checks. Because ouch.


But here's why you are here today. Let's talk about Enola Holmes from the Enola Holmes mysteries by Nancy Springers. Many of you may not have read about Enola, because she is a middle-grade character. Her books are delightful. The basic story of Enola is that she is Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes' little sister. Lest that turn you off as too derivative, let me assure you that your middle grade child (or you) will find her genuine and sincere. There are also many puzzles and codes in the books to maintain the air of mystery.

Enola runs away from home early in the series, due to a very peculiar circumstance, in order to save herself from the fate of young Victorian women. She has been raised by an unconventional mother and decides she would be better to strike off on her own after her mother leaves her. No points for Mom, mind, but it is the catalyst for the story. Enola proves as successful as her brothers at deduction and daring-do, but she does not fall into many of the adventure cliches. She disguises herself as an adult, but does not decide to masquerade as a boy. She hides behind many disguises and invents people to legitimize the businesses she runs. Of course, as the books progress, we discover that she hasn't fooled as many people as she thinks she has, but she develops a loyal cadre of friends, and in the end proves herself.

Like many books with living characters, Enola narrates her own story, so we see the insides of her, her doubts and feelings about her situation. She is very genuine and multi-faceted. The books are short, and I would recommend you read the whole series if you can, but the first and the last are good bookends to capture the breadth of the character. So, go read them.

Next up in a couple of weeks: Little Dorrit

Mirrored from Writer Tamago.

cathschaffstump: (Default)

I don't know if you've heard me say this before, but just in case, this is my number one ambition as a writer: to have a character who lives. One who lives so well that you know the character, even if you don't know me. You know what I'm talking about. Those books where you talk about the character like they are a person and the author seldom comes up. The essence of being a fan.

I've read a lot of very worthy books over the years by many excellent writers. Having a character who lives (to me) beyond the scope of the book is not the only hallmark of excellent work, but since this is my ultimate goal creatively, I thought I would talk about some of the characters (and the people who have written them) who have made me want this goal. These characters will span 51 years of reading. Some of them are new to me, and some have been with me a very long time.

Currently, I am reading another of Ben Aaronovitch's Peter Grant mysteries: Whispers Underground. Peter Grant is a living character. Living characters do not have to be written in first person, but Peter is. He has a good sense of humor. I know about his family, what he thinks about his job, how he feels about his friends, and I have some pretty good guesses on how he spends his spare time. I've seen him cool under pressure, quick to investigate, and heartbroken about love gone wrong. He feels real to me.

Of course, all that depth to Peter is supported by good story. The initial book of Peter's series Midnight Riot is uniquely British, which appeals to me as a half-British kid. Peter is protagonist of color, a white jazzman from England for a dad and a black cleaning woman from Sierra Leone for a mom. The hybridization of these cultures, as well as his familial legacy, resounds in almost every decision Peter makes. While Midnight Riot depends on plot and introduces Peter, in Moon Over Soho Peter becomes resoundingly a character who breathes, as we see him deal with the aftermath of something terrible that happens to his friend Leslie in the first book, we see him work with his new abilities, and we see him fall in love. And now, as I read Whispers Underground I see Peter grow and become even more.

The best part of a series sometimes is that a writer does have the opportunity to make a character familiar and alive, and while it can also be done in a single book, still that leisure to explore is, I think, one of the best ways to create a memorable character.

In two weeks: Enola Holmes.

Mirrored from Writer Tamago.

cathschaffstump: (Default)

And here's the Unreliable Posts from the last time we talked.

Attack of the Kaiju: We talk about all things giant monster, and some things not.

Book Review--The Phantom Killer: Unlocking the Mystery of the Texarkana Serial Murders. George reviews a book!

Mirrored from Writer Tamago.

cathschaffstump: (Default)

Some friends asked me to do these two authory things on Facebook. Better late than never!

I won't be tagging anyone, because I don't tag, but if you like these, and you want to participate, be my guest. (Cue dancing candlelabras, etc)

The first one is 7/7/7. From the short piece I am drafting for Paradise Icon, here are seven lines of text (ish) from page seven of Everywhere Girl, a near future novel I will get back to some day.

"You know she's going to," Sango said. Gina's anthem about not being anyone's toy, anyone's plaything. A provocative set of lyrics for an Utaumaton who was literally everyone's play thing, as long as they could shell out the yen for her latest incarnation.

The crowd listened politely as Gina continued her speech. "Well, then, everyone, let's have fun tonight, okay? I am so happy to be in Osaka!"


And 15 in 15. Name 15 authors who have influenced your writing. Do it in 15 minutes. Okay...

1. Mervyn Peake
2. Peter Beagle
3. J.R.R. Tolkien
4. C.S. Lewis
5. Charles Dickens
6. Jane Austen
7. Ai Yazawa
8. Mikhail Bulgakov
9. Christopher Kastensmidt
10. Terry Pratchett
11. Alexandre Dumas
12. Caroline Stevermer
13. Pamela Dean
14. Mary Stewart
15. Edward Gorey

That's my list and I'm sticking to it.

Mirrored from Writer Tamago.

cathschaffstump: (Default)

I am back from Worldcon, also known as Midamericon 2.

First of all, I want to say that I had a great time at the convention. I managed to get together with a lot of people I know and enjoy. Most of my time was spent being social and I really, really enjoyed that, although it really wore me out as well. There was simply a lot going on. Too much, I think. I overplanned.

The panels I attended were good. I particularly liked World Building in Five Questions, which the panelists decided was not possible, but in a very humorous way. I participated on two panels: one about voice in audiobooks and podcasts, where I learned a bit, and another about NonAnglophone writers, which was a real highlight because the other presenters were pretty impressive. The Tor party was loud, raucous, and excellent. I felt like a real writer among real writers. All to the good.

We did line up 7 interviews for the podcast. That's terrific.

But you know, there were two really salient revelations.

Ken Liu amazed me this con. I went to his reading. I was very appreciative of his versatility, his professionalism, and his talent. Could I have what Ken Liu has? Well, I don't know about the talent, but yes, I can write more and goof off less. I could be more prolific. The trick, the real trick is to be excited to write, to realize that writing and creating is the reward, is the activity done preferentially. I have a lot to write, and I'm not getting any younger, and there are stories that would give me joy just to write them. Writing gives me joy. So let's get down to brass tacks and not only Ken Liu's example, but the example of all the wonderful, prolific, busy writers I had the opportunity to hear and talk to at the convention.

I love the podcast. I love interviewing writers. I will keep doing that. The focus becomes creating.

And the next part, kinda emo, so you need not go there. I cannot seem to get the cut to work, so please avert your eyes if you don't want to see that kind of thing.

I think I need to back away from all but the closest of my connections. Because frankly I'm not good at the social thing, when you get down to it. I'm good at a certain, superficial level, but I've made some hard choices in my life and I am warped by them. There's a reason why my dearest and closest are few, and it probably has something to do with kindness toward me in spite of me. These people are kind enough to understand what I really can't explain adequately because I am from a very different planet.

I realize I'm out of my league in the convention-verse. I was raised by horrible people wolves and am broken in some very fundamental ways. The cons I attend primarily to spend time with my dearest and closest will continue. Other venues? No. I don't think I can be trusted to dance the convention tango. The tenuous peace I have established with myself and my own integrity may be problematic, but it is how I stay anchored to self and sanity. And that's pretty important to me, obviously.

I am sorry for any consternation I caused concerned friends.

Mirrored from Writer Tamago.

cathschaffstump: (Default)

Yes, I will be there. You knew that.

Here are the two panels Dr. Catherine Schaff-Stump will be on. Oh, the hubris!

Saturday, August 20, 10 am - 11 am. Finding a Voice in Podcasts and Audiobooks. 2502B Kansas City Convention Center. Both of these media-types are well established, but what really makes 'voice' in both podcasts and audiobook narration? The panel discuss ways of representing and discussing the author, their characters and other types of media through sound.

Just stepped up to moderate this one, so I have a little planning left to do.


Sunday, August 21, 11 am - 12pm. Non-Anglophone Writers You Must Know. 2208 Kansas City Convention Center. Most of the world is not English speaking, so as the minority, what should English-language users start to pay attention to so that we can start to read outside of our own communities - even if that will be in translation most of the time?

Come here me talk about (mostly) some excellent Japanese SF/F. Also, come here me talk about how English is the Esperanto of the new century!


I'll be all over this con from about 2 pm on Thursday until about 3 pm on Sunday, give or take. I'm gonna hit Thursday's swing dance super hard.I've made arrangements to catch up with some folks, but please let me know if you're there, so I can say hello!

Mirrored from Writer Tamago.

cathschaffstump: (Default)

Before I list recent posts, I just want to let you know that we'll be releasing this week's interview with Ann Leckie early because of World Con, AND we will be broadcasting from World Con each day we are there. So, you can live vicariously through us. Oh yeah!

New posts? Here we go!

Romancing the Show

Tech Spotlight: Dan Novy

Author Spotlight: Thomas Olde Heuvelt

Mirrored from Writer Tamago.

cathschaffstump: (Default)

Hello, cats and kitties!

I returned to work on July 27th and immediately plunged into the world of beginning my year as faculty association president at Kirkwood (round 2--I did this 2002-2003, a lifetime ago) and then began to prepare to be gone over the two Fall Kick-Off days. You would be surprised at how much paperwork it takes to create a virtual me. Well, I did all that and as of today have completed my World Con prep for panels as well. So, that's all as it should be, and I'm looking forward to connecting with people and being on panels at World Con. I'll post my schedule a little later in the week.


Meanwhile, in the rest of my life, there has been a confluence of strangeness all hitting at the same time. Some of it was well-meant strangeness, but when you have a lot planned, sometimes, the early isn't ideal.

The above work preparation I knew about. Also, we knew Bryon's mom was going to get a tumor removed from her bladder. It is a slow growing cancer, and after the lab results, they're going to give her one more chemo treatment to reduce the chances of it coming back. She's 90, so we're thinking that will be the end of it for her and the cancer will trouble her no more. It's a good diagnosis.

What I didn't expect? People doing things faster than I expected, which is usually good. Like the geothermal guys starting outside about two days after we gave them the green light to transform our 160-year-old house into Environmentally Friendly Manor. Our backyard has had four giant wells drilled into it, and a couple of giant mole men furrows leading to our house. Who knew our yard was full of limestone chunks my husband took it upon himself to carry out of our yard so we could get it to become a yard again? Also, who knew, like when a grave settles, you have to leave giant channels of earth on top of the ground, letting them naturally settle until you can take the backyard to "rough" grade again?

Yes, I know that now. There were also indoor hijinx.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from Writer Tamago.

cathschaffstump: (Default)

My comparative online silence has been me doing the pre-edits for The Vessel of Ra for Curiosity Quills. I've been pretty open about my writing journey throughout these last several years, and I thought you might enjoy a little conversation about the process.

For those of you who don't know me, I teach writing, mostly to students whose first language is not English, but occasionally to native speakers of English as well. We writing teachers are all about the multiple drafts. Take time to revise, polish, proof, fix. This is vital for someone who is writing in a language not their own, and important for students who might be less than perfect in their grammar and writing.

Well. I don't know whether it's the 30 years (if you start counting from my first TAship) that I've been reading student papers, or if it's that I am a person who likes to cross things off my list, BUT I am the worst proofreader of my own stuff. Hey, there are theories that everyone is, but I do know I expect more of myself because I work with other people's writing mistakes for a living. I have never had the happy ability to be someone who can spot a typo across a crowded room (I'm looking at you, Lisa Martincik!). Honestly, with my own work, I think I have cleared all the mistakes out to find that they have magically crept back in when I look at it two weeks later. Hmmm. Sounds like someone needs an editor.

Well, thanks to the fine folks at Curiosity Quills, I have an editor. I had my first round of edit suggestions with pre-edit notes which were mostly grammatical and formatical (is that a word? It is now!) And I was astounded at how poorly edited the last half of the novel was. Because surely I had been more careful than that! And there it was! Imposter syndrome! I'd just gotten lucky to have my book accepted, because you know, that last half was soooo unworthy!

As I worked my way through my embarrassment and self-disappointment, I realized what I tell my students is true. Revise, revise, revise. Give yourself time and distance between drafts. I am a perfectionist, but drafting is a process. Words will not fall from my mouth in all of their golden splendor, perfect the first time. I have to revise and revise and revise and I will get to a bright and shiny draft. And I'll get that opportunity a lot. And each time the book will shine more.

So. There are a couple of myths about writing that experience is teaching me are myths. Writing is solitary. Not so much. Support from people around you, good feedback at every level, and people to even help you with the psychology of it, these are invaluable. Myth the second? The book is a product. Nope, guys, it looks like the book is also a process, and just like a term paper, we eventually abandon it because we run out of time, but there will always be ways to make it better.

Mirrored from Writer Tamago.


cathschaffstump: (Default)

March 2017

5678 91011
2627 28293031 


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags