Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Several "Mighty" Announcements

 With great powerchair comes great responsibility…

Or something like that.

Anyway, announcement time!

This Friday at 5 PM eastern, I will be part of a panel with other authors, reading from and talking about our stories in the Pirating Pups anthology at When Worlds Collide! (it came out today, I will have another proper announcement after [gestures at the chaos] is over)

And then on Sunday at 1 PM eastern, please join me and some friends as we talk about disability in superhero media on a panel Tyche Books has graciously helped me put together.

For more information about the con, and to register for free for these and many more panels, click here!

Finally, and I will be talking about this a lot more during the submission window and editing process, but…

Along with my co-editor Emily Gillespie, I am going to be editing MIGHTY: AN ANTHOLOGY OF DISABLED SUPERHEROES for Renaissance Press! We will be opening for submissions in September, but you can check out our submission call here.

I'll be talking a lot more about the importance of disabled superheroes in particular in the coming months, but I wanted to talk a little bit about my connection to superheroes in general.

I didn't grow up a sci-fi nerd. Neither of my parents were really into it. I'd watch The Twilight Zone marathons on every holiday, and it was drilled into my head from a young age that Michael Keaton is the only Batman we recognize in my family, but that was about it.

The few superhero movies I watched when I was little, I couldn't really get into them.

But as I grew up, I realized that the world saw me as different no matter how much I tried to convince them I was just like them. I realized my parents, the only people I could trust, weren't people I could trust. And this coincided with a couple things that changed everything:

My mom randomly said "Hey, you've never seen Star Wars" while flipping through channels one day, and I was instantly in love with science fiction. And we started hanging out with her friends who had a ton of superhero movies on DVD and would let me watch whatever I wanted.

And suddenly, superheroes made sense. Because sometimes your mentor, the one person you think you can trust, is secretly trying to take control of the things that are important to you. And sometimes just being different is reason enough for people to want to take away your rights or even your life.

(Yeah, I started with the first Iron Man and the X-Men movies.)

My love for these movies has spiraled from there. More than half my T-shirts feature some super powered character (I'm wearing one of my Iron Man shirts as we speak), I've seen every MCU movie in theaters that has come out in the last three years, and the very first time I cried at a movie was at the end of Avengers Endgame because, as my friend teased me, they killed off my "first love."

So yeah. These movies bring me comfort. Inspiration. The last time I had to stay in the hospital overnight, I snuggled up under my blankets and watched Thor while I waited to hear if I would be OK.

Being able to be part of bringing disabled representation into the world of superhero media is just a dream come true for me. I can't wait to see what new heroes I’m going to be cheering for in this book.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Don't Cry For Me Argentinosaurus

 I am very happy to announce that my story "Don't Cry For Me Argentinosaurus" is now available in volume one of The Mesozoic Reader!

This story is part of what I am jokingly calling the Jennifer Lee Rossman Cinematic Universe, a shared universe where several of my stories take place in different time periods.

There are two other stories published in this universe: The Good, The Bad, And The Utahraptor, and Joan Of Archaeopteryx. And I am planning, in the very distant future, to put together these stories with a bunch of others to more completely tell the full story of this world.

Argentinosaurus is very loosely based on the musical Evita. Very very loosely. I want to stress that I have never seen Evita. Mostly I just based the story on the Madonna song and added dinosaurs.

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Set The Night To Music

 Set The Night To Music, also known as the reason Spotify keeps suggesting I listen to Starship, is now available in Triangulation: Energy!

This is a cyberpunk story based on the song "We Built This City," which I listened to over and over again while writing it, to the point that I totally messed up my Spotify algorithm. But it's also a story that made me realize some common themes in my work.

Music.

Reluctant heroes.

The little people rising up to defeat the big corporations.

And it's hard to know where these recurring ideas come from, why they’re so important to us that they keep showing up. A lot of my work is directly inspired by the lessons about life and science that I absorbed from Jurassic Park. But that last one, little people rising up to defeat big corporations?

Well… as I was writing this story, I found myself humming a little tune. No, not We Built This City. I couldn't identify it at first, I only remember the words "You can't fight corporate America."

So I looked it up, and it was this song from Rocko’s Modern Life, a cartoon I watched when I was little. I can't say for sure that that song is the only reason the idea of getting together a big unruly mob and fighting against corporations has become such a big part of who I am, but it's definitely one of them.

Saturday, July 9, 2022

Seven Things I Learned Traveling Through Space With A Genetically Engineered Lesbian Peahen

 I’m so honored to say that my story "Seven Things I Learned Traveling Through Space With A Genetically Engineered Lesbian Peahen" has been published alongside a shipload (wink wink) of other spaceship-set stories in Bridge To Elsewhere!

The story was inspired by Real Science! According to this article, peafowl can sense each other’s tail vibrations with the lil doodlebopper feathers on their heads.

So naturally, I'm using them as long range communication in space.

I do not understand how that would work, do not ask me.

Also do not ask my character.

I used one of my favorite literary techniques for this story: the main character who has no idea how the science works so I don't have to explain anything.

This character in particular is best imagined as Darcy Lewis, Kat Denning’s character from the Thor movies.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

The Twinkle Of A Fading Star

 My very short story The Twinkle Of A Fading Star is now available in the June 2022 issue of The Quiet Ones!

The theme of this issue (available for free on the website) was post-apocalyptic pride. The magazine also said in the submission guidelines that they like "Quiet horror." Somehow, the juxtaposition of those ideas led me to The Hollow Men by TS Eliot.

Even if you don't know the poem, you've probably heard the ending:

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

Not with a bang but a whimper

That kind of exemplified the idea of a quiet apocalypse to me, and while I enjoy the imagery and metaphors TS Eliot used to describe the bleak hopelessness of war (or his marriage, according to some people), I don't really interact with poetry on a metaphorical level. That isn't the way my brain works. I take things very literally.

So I… Took the poem very literally, and somehow I ended up with a world where people die and come back as destructive ghosts unless you build a scarecrow for them to inhabit, and a dying transgender woman trying to build gender affirming scarecrows before it's too late.

It's dark, and it touches on the terrifying idea of what happens when you're trans and your unsupportive family is left in charge of your funeral and remains. But I think it's hopeful, too. I hope it is.

Sunday, June 12, 2022

How Do You Do, Fellow Chosen Ones?

 Sometimes my stories are meaningful and deep and inspirational. Sometimes they are just delightful nonsense. "How Do You Do, Fellow Chosen Ones?" available in audio and text from Tall Tale TV, is definitely in the delightful nonsense category.

I don't remember exactly why I decided I needed to write a fantasy story based on the How do you do, fellow kids? meme in which Steve Buscemi spectacularly fails at pretending to be a young person. I just know I found a couple paragraphs of a story with the title "How Do You Do, Fellow Chosen Ones?" I had written a couple years before, and I decided I needed to finish it.

So there's this prophecy, right? And this modern day questing party has been tasked with finding the boy mentioned in the prophecy, triggering his innate Chosen One Powers, and defeating the bad guy. No problem, right?

Well, one problem. The witch who was supposed to trigger his powers… she kind of… gave herself the powers by mistake and decided that instead of admitting to this failure, she would just pretend to be the chosen one.

She is not convincing, as he is a teenage boy and she is a middle aged woman, and no one is fooled. But she's the only option they have right now, so they might as well try it.

Sunday, June 5, 2022

The Moon Rabbit

 The original file name of the story that became The Moon Rabbit—now available in Prismatic Dreams—was ET The Extra Transgender, so that should give you an idea of what you're in for with this story.

When I was watching ET for the first time in years, I noticed it could be seen as a transgender narrative. (Read my live tweet here.)

Somehow, that idea evolved into a story where magic is gendered and a young person on the cusp of puberty fears they’ll get the feminine magic because they were assigned female at birth. But then they meet the moon rabbit…

(I acknowledge that this is not my culture and I may have gotten some details wrong when talking about the myth. I am not claiming it is incredibly accurate, and neither is my character. The story is set a little ways into the future and they admit the details may have been changed in translation or amalgamated with other myths passed down from their Chinese and Vietnamese side of the family.)

I use some of the plot points from ET, but a lot of it is meant as a metaphor for gender dysphoria and being afraid of having to go through the wrong puberty.

I don't think I ever say whether the main character is a binary trans boy or nonbinary. They refer to themselves as a boy, but also express interest in having bits of magic from both sides.

Gender is weird and confusing, especially if you're just figuring it out. I don't think my main character really knows what they identity as quite yet, and that’s okay. They’re sure they aren’t a girl, at least not completely, but other than that, labels aren't as important to them as feeling comfortable in their body is.