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Mar. 19th, 2017

I need help with content ratings on violence for fiction

I'm refining my content ratings at Archive of Our Own (AO3), and I'm also going to start posting at Wattpad.

Here's Wattpad's guide to content ratings. AO3 doesn't offer guidance on what its ratings mean; they simply say, "This is left to the creator's judgment."

Here's my problem: I watch virtually no television or movies, and what I watch isn't very violent. (I think the most violent movie I ever saw is the one that gave rise to the PG-13 rating.) Most of what I read is pre-1980 literature, mainly children's fiction. As a result, I don't have a good sense of what current violence ratings mean. (I think I have a decent handle on sex ratings.) In particular, I don't know the difference between these categories:

* Intense violence.

* Nongraphic violence.

* Graphic violence.

Since I write a lot of fiction on captivity or on war, I really need to understand the difference between these three categories. Can anyone help?

(If you know my stories, maybe you could give those as examples. If not, other examples of literary violence would help.)
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Nov. 9th, 2016

"Burn this into memory. Wake up tomorrow: the fight will await you." | #ElectionNight

[These words were posted tonight at Twitter by an account that usually devotes itself to parody of a scientist. Not tonight.]

The future is never gone, never hopeless. No one has ever lived in the best possible world. There has always been a fight to fight.

No jokes tonight. Do not laugh and look away. Watch this, stay here. Burn this into memory. Wake up tomorrow: the fight will await you.

Tonight is different. This election is different. We are here, in this place and time, through no special providence or destiny--

--But we are here. We find ourselves with a job to do, no matter how hard, no matter the pain in our hearts. Do not shrink away.

FIGHT. Donate time, money, expertise. Come out of this cloud of distractions, from those that mock you and those that want your love alike.

Retweets are not actions. Work in your cities, vote and advocate, teach yourself and give to others.

This is the end of nothing. This is the beginning of something new and solemn and so important. You must be part of what comes next.

My children will not believe what I tell them about this tomorrow morning. They will cry. They will be confused and hurt and angry.

My job as a father is to do more than to just soothe. My job is to show with my mind and heart, with word and action, that I am with them--

--That I am not disheartened. That I will stand up. That there is another day and another fight and I will never stop fighting for them.

I will, until my heart breaks and my body fails, fight to smooth and shape this world for my children. To make for them a better world.

I will not show them despair and anger. I will show them fierce, brave love and hope born of sure knowledge that history arcs upward.

There is sunlight ahead, there is victory and a gentle peace for all, a future of truth and concord. We will not all see it.

But we will - must - fight. Fight, for the truth that must burn undimmed in your heart. Fight, for the love that we must kindle in the world.

Tonight is the beginning. The last old day has set. Wake tomorrow, and remember. Tonight is the beginning.

I pledge, tonight, for my children and my own aching heart, to dedicate myself to a better world. I will fight. I will love.

I will not despair. I will not give in. I am not done. We are not done. I will. I will. I will.
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Oct. 20th, 2016

A word about the American presidential election

For various reasons, I don't normally comment on politics at this blog. However, as many commentators have observed, this isn't an ordinary election year in the USA. In light of recent concerns expressed that violence might break out in the nation after Election Day, I feel it would be unethical of me to refrain from giving my view on the election.

So I'm going to make two suggestions. One is to folks who are sick at heart about the election and need a little levity in their lives. If you haven't already done so, have a look at the Saturday Night Live sketches about the election.

The other suggestion is to anyone who is voting in the election. You may be Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green Party, some other party, or independent. Whatever your political affiliation (or lack thereof), I'd like you to read an article - to the end, to get its full effect:

This is what is at stake in this election.

(Comments to this post are left open, but keep in mind that I won't be able to moderate the blog after Thursday, so please take extra care to keep the discussion civil.)
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Oct. 2nd, 2016

Americans: Not sure whether you'll be able to make it to your polling place on voting day?

Jo/e and I usually aren't sure whether we'll be able to get to the polling place, what with our health issues. What we learned, to our delight, is that in Maryland, and in many other states, you don't need any particular excuse to use absentee ballots. You just ask for the absentee ballots, fill them out when they come, and drop your votes in the mail. I was never a very reliable voter, I'm sorry to say, but using absentee ballots has made voting super-easy.

Here's a multi-page list (in reverse order, for some odd reason) of state policies on absentee voting, which includes links to each state's form for requesting a ballot. And if you haven't already done so, don't forget to register to vote. You don't want this to happen again.

(Comments left enabled, but please keep any comments nonpartisan. I'd like this blog to remain a comfortable place for people of all political persuasions.)
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Jul. 7th, 2014

M/F and my writings, Part 2

I'm bumping to the top of the blog this interesting discussion between Tharyn and me about m/f in m/m fiction, in case anyone else wants to add their two cents. A warning that our earlier discussion, and my latest reply below, includes spoilers for the already-published stories in The Eternal Dungeon.

o--o--o


Starting out by disentangling a misunderstanding )
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Nov. 18th, 2013

Daily life: Getting old

"The old man . . . looked smaller and more shriveled . . . 'Getting old,' the engineer muttered. 'Can't take it. Sorry I conked out on you, kid.'"

--Philip St. John (aka Lester del Rey): Rocket Jockey (1952), the first science fiction novel I ever fell in love with, at age ten. Not until last week's reread did it penetrate my consciousness that the "old man" was in his fifties.


"Looking back, I think a lot of the time I was thinking, 'Yeah, this is great, but the next one'll be better. This is all a road upwards, and one day we'll get to that plateau.' But there isn't any plateau, folks. Happiness is the journey."

--Brian May, quoted in the September 1993 issue of RIP. From my late mother's enormous collection of metal music clippings.


Philosophical meanderings, plus prison songs )

Sep. 11th, 2013

Thoughts on #DiversityinSFF & pedestals & the Generic White

Cover for 'Coded Messages'

"Not sure why #DiversityInSFF is so hard? What makes writing a story about a creature that exists in myth only easier? #dontgetit"

--Libertad Tomas.


A conversation on diversity in science fiction and fantasy (using the #DiversityinSFF hash tag) is taking place at the moment at Twitter and other places. My first thought, when I saw the discussion, was one of incredulity.

This is 2013. Multiculturalism in SF/F dates back decades. Why are we still having debates over whether it's a good idea to have black characters on SF/F covers?

Personally, I slipped into multiculturalism long ago, without any special effort beyond saying, "I need some way to differentiate the people of these nations - oh heck, I'll give them different skin colors" and "I need a character who's supposed to be especially handsome - darn it, I am not going to create another good-looking white guy."

Though I don't normally think about whether I'm including minority characters in my stories - it's second nature by now - this particular Internet discussion caused me to mentally go through a checklist to see how I'm doing on the diversity front. Gender minorities? Check. Ethnic minorities? Check. Disabled people? Check and check for covering both physical and mental disabilities. Racial minorities? "Minorities" isn't quite the right word here, since non-whites form the majority in one of my universes. But yes, and they show up on my covers.

Sexual minorities? Don't make me laugh.

There are still areas where I could improve. I don't have nearly enough women in my stories - and no, it's not just because I write so many stories requiring male characters. Rather, I deliberately chose to write stories requiring male characters because I was avoiding female characters. I'm trying to correct that now. I've done a fairly good job of including middle-aged characters (while writing in a subgenre dominated by characters in their twenties), but there aren't as many seniors in my stories as there could be; I need to keep that in mind when it comes time for me create new characters. And because the Toughs universe came to me in bits and pieces - it originally started as a quasi-medieval setting, hence the dungeon - I didn't think nearly enough when I was creating it about how non-European influences would shape its various cultures. I'm having to backtrack there.

However, I've been writing multicultural fiction for a while now. Eighteen years, if you count only my published works. Over thirty years, if you count the disabled characters in the stories I wrote as a teen. Because of that, there are two particular multicultural issues I want to mention, because they often get overlooked in discussions of cultural diversity.


Issue #1: Positive portrayals of minorities )
Issue #2: The Generic White )

Thoughts on #DiversityinSFF & pedestals & the Generic White

Cover for 'Coded Messages'

"Not sure why #DiversityInSFF is so hard? What makes writing a story about a creature that exists in myth only easier? #dontgetit"

--Libertad Tomas.


A conversation on diversity in science fiction and fantasy (using the #DiversityinSFF hash tag) is taking place at the moment at Twitter and other places. My first thought, when I saw the discussion, was one of incredulity.

This is 2013. Multiculturalism in SF/F dates back decades. Why are we still having debates over whether it's a good idea to have black characters on SF/F covers?

Personally, I slipped into multiculturalism long ago, without any special effort beyond saying, "I need some way to differentiate the people of these nations - oh heck, I'll give them different skin colors" and "I need a character who's supposed to be especially handsome - darn it, I am not going to create another good-looking white guy."

Though I don't normally think about whether I'm including minority characters in my stories - it's second nature by now - this particular Internet discussion caused me to mentally go through a checklist to see how I'm doing on the diversity front. Gender minorities? Check. Ethnic minorities? Check. Disabled people? Check and check for covering both physical and mental disabilities. Racial minorities? "Minorities" isn't quite the right word here, since non-whites form the majority in one of my universes. But yes, and they show up on my covers.

Sexual minorities? Don't make me laugh.

There are still areas where I could improve. I don't have nearly enough women in my stories - and no, it's not just because I write so many stories requiring male characters. Rather, I deliberately chose to write stories requiring male characters because I was avoiding female characters. I'm trying to correct that now. I've done a fairly good job of including middle-aged characters (while writing in a subgenre dominated by characters in their twenties), but there aren't as many seniors in my stories as there could be; I need to keep that in mind when it comes time for me create new characters. And because the Toughs universe came to me in bits and pieces - it originally started as a quasi-medieval setting, hence the dungeon - I didn't think nearly enough when I was creating it about how non-European influences would shape its various cultures. I'm having to backtrack there.

However, I've been writing multicultural fiction for a while now. Eighteen years, if you count only my published works. Over thirty years, if you count the disabled characters in the stories I wrote as a teen. Because of that, there are two particular multicultural issues I want to mention, because they often get overlooked in discussions of cultural diversity.


Issue #1: Positive portrayals of minorities )
Issue #2: The Generic White )

May. 8th, 2013

Poll time! Ebook and website preferences

Apr. 15th, 2013

New gay romance category at the Kindle store

Good news, folks - at least for those who are looking for gay romance at Amazon. (Those who are trying to avoid it don't yet have a way to do so.) Amazon has added a gay romance category to the Kindle store, as a subcategory to romance. There doesn't yet seem to be any way for publishers and self-publishers to add books directly to it through Kindle Direct Publishing, but I just added an e-book to both the "gay fiction" and "romance > fantasy" categories, and Amazon automatically added the e-book to the gay romance category as well.

More details )
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Nov. 19th, 2011

On gender identities and lying

Jessewave has cut off the comments for this thread, as I discovered *after* I composed a reply. Since this is on a topic where I feel I have something to contribute, I'm posting my reply here (as an open letter to the m/m fiction community; I don't expect Wave to go bouncing around to various people's blogs, reading their posts on this subject).

Reply to 'Faking It' )

May. 20th, 2011

Amazon deletes gay titles from Kindle store

There's no way of knowing how many genres are affected, but Amazon has yanked some yaoi e-books from the Kindle store. Apparently it's not an underage-characters issue; see this Publishers Weekly article.

Full details are at The Yaoi Review, especially in the latest report, which links to other news articles and lists some of the titles that have been deleted.
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Oct. 20th, 2010

My "It Gets Better" Post

(Why I'm posting this on October 20.)

I've been wondering whether I should make my own contribution (in an unofficial, textual way) to the It Gets Better Project. I'd been thinking I shouldn't. My own coming out as a bisexual teen was amazingly painless; I didn't think I had much to offer teens who are undergoing agony because of their sexual feelings.

(And lest we forget, this includes same-sex-attracted youths who, for reason of personal conscience, prefer not to act on their feelings. We mustn't overlook their stories.)

Then I realized that my coming out does have an important lesson. So here's the chronology.

What it was like for me when I was an adolescent )
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Oct. 19th, 2010

In honor of the dead

"Will seeing a news report about a giant ocean of purple people going to make one person move away from that ledge? The answer is unknown. What we do know is that when someone feels less alone, for even a brief moment, life continues to be worth living. All we need is that moment to keep them going. A sea of purple people just might be that proof someone needs to show them that they are not alone. Even just one is worth it."

--Spirit Day: Why wearing purple on October 20 will help to end hate crimes.

I'll be wearing purple tomorrow in honor of the recent teen victims of suicide. So will the home page of my Website. Join us.

Other ways you can help, as suggested by The Trevor Project, an organization which tries to prevent suicides by LGBTQ youth. (Google cache of the same page.)

It Gets Better. Adults talk to gay teens about why it's worth hanging on. Here's my testimony.

o--o--o


"As a teacher, each year I asked my class if they would remember only one thing from me, to memorize that 'Suicide is a long term solution to a short term problem.'"

--From a comment posted here.

o--o--o


One more thought: This thread (on a definitely-not-work-safe site) took place in September. Five hours after the original poster posted his final message in it, Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi committed suicide. The forum's moderators later confirmed that the posts originated from Rutgers University.

Afterwards, many of the members of that forum said, "I read that thread. I wish I'd replied to him!" We should all keep that episode in mind the next time we meet
someone online who seems a bit down.

[Edited to add: jesse_the_k and I discuss this post at Dreamwidth.]
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Oct. 9th, 2010

Dreamwidth makes it onto the updated Map of Online Communities

Old and new maps are here. On the new map, Dreamwidth is just east of LiveJournal (which has unaccountably turned into an island). Fanfiction.net is just west, and if you go a little south you'll find the Fandom Blogs island. Don't miss the passing references to LJ down in the blogs closeup and just south of Twitter.

Hurrah to Randall Munroe. Someone buy the man a drink.
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Sep. 18th, 2010

Gender, m/m romance, and pro-slash

It occurred to me that some folks here might be interested in an e-mail I just sent to an m/m writer. He was talking about some gay men's opposition to female writers of m/m fiction, and he wondered how they reconciled that with the popularity of Mary Renault among gay male readers.

My response )
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NONFIC: Article on m/m writers of BDSM fiction

An article of mine on BDSM fiction by original slash writers and m/m writers appears in this month's issue of The Leather Times, published by the Leather Archives & Museum. The article summarizes the rise of slash and m/m, and it gives brief introductions to the writings of three authors: Maculategiraffe, Manna Francis, and Syd McGinley. (I was under space constraints; otherwise, the list would have been much longer.) There's also a brief quote from Nigel Puerasch.

I wrote and submitted this article last year, before the current kerfuffle over the genders of writers in the m/m community. Being of a nonstandard gender myself, I've naturally been interested in the gender issues that arise in the original slash and m/m communities. However, I'd like to think that my approach in this article to the subject of m/m writers' genders is a tad bit more sophisticated than some of the recent journalistic approaches.

HTML version of the article at my Website.

PDF version of the article within The Leather Times.
The Leather Times index.
Leather Archives & Museum warning page.

(The last page of the issue contains small pictures of hunks from the waist up; otherwise, all artwork in the issue is worksafe. As opposed to the text, which ain't.)

The remaining contents of this issue of The Leather Times are interesting: an article on queer BDSM in Ancient Greece, as well as an article on the controversy over a gay leather column in The Advocate in 1969. If you're not familiar with The Leather Times, it's worth a peruse if you're interested in BDSM history, especially gay BDSM history; every issue contains articles on that topic.

Aug. 22nd, 2010

So, it's another round of "Look at those weird girls writing gay stories"

M/M Fiction News has the round-up here. Have your antacid pills ready.

Gehayi has posted the best response that I've read.

My own thoughts )
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Jul. 21st, 2010

AO3 and original fiction

Archive Of Our Own is currently considering whether or not to let writers in the fan fiction community post their original fiction at the archive. (At the moment, that isn't permitted.) If you have any opinions for or against this, you might want to drop them a line, since they've asked for feedback.

I'm in favor of fan-written originalfic being permitted at the archive. I've been in fandom since 2002, and during that time, virtually every multifandom list and community that I've encountered has permitted the posting of originalfic. In particular, the darkfic/powerfic community has been almost completely integrated between fanfic and originalfic writers. Out of the dozens of darkfic/powerfic comms in fandom, I know of only one that does not permit the posting of originalfic.

I don't know of any case where a multifandom comm or list that permits originalfic has been overrun by originalfic writers. Archive Of Our Own clearly presents itself as an archive that's centered upon fan fiction; I think that's what it will continue to attract, no matter what its policy on original fiction.
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Jun. 20th, 2010

AUs in fan fiction and original fiction

The origins of AU fiction )
AUs in original fiction )
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