Friday, May 8, 2020

A Interview And An Award Nomination

Boy howdy have I got news for you! (I keep forgetting that I was going to start saying boy howdy more often.)

First, the authors of Disabled Voices, yours truly included, answered some interview questions on All Lit Up. Check it out: https://alllitup.ca/Blog/2020/Reflections-on-disability-culture-and-identity-from-the-contributors-of-the-Disabled-Voices-Anthology

Second, and more excitingly… Nothing Without Us is nominated for an Aurora Award! The anthology is in the Best Related Work category.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Write Me A Soul

You are flipping through a book called Community Of Magic Pens when you chance upon a story by Jennifer Lee Rossman. Do you…

Read it? (turn to page 3)
Read it AND then go to the author's blog to read an essay about telepathy? (turn to page 27)

That's right, folks. I wrote a choose your own adventure story.

Community Of Magic Pens is a diverse book edited by Space Opera Libretti author EDE Bell, which features 40 stories and poems about the magic of pens and writing. The pens are not always literal pens, the magic is not always literal magic, but every story will touch your heart, make you cry good tears, and make you smile.

https://atthisarts.com/product/community-of-magic-pens/

(I absolutely love this book and the editor, and I feel extra proud that this collection is out in the world because I had the honor of doing some sensitivity reading and proofreading for it.)

My story, Write Me A Soul, was one of those stories I was frantically writing at the end of the submission window. I had interesting ideas, but none of them felt… right. So I thought back to Five Minutes At Hotel Stormcove, another anthology from Atthis Arts where each story took place over five minutes. My story in that collection, The Repatriation Heist, "broke the rules" in that my story took place over one minute… which got repeated five times because time travel!

That story stands out to me because it's different. Technically following the rules, but doing something I didn't think anyone else would think of. So what is the magic pen equivalent?

A choose your own adventure book, naturally.

Choose your own adventure books, man. I absolutely loved them as a kid. The Owl Tree is actually the first book ever remember reading by myself.

I'm not going to spoil too much of the story, but it's about someone who can write anything into existence – including multiple timelines – and the woman she writes about.

And the woman she writes into existence has fangs. Because I've always known I like women but Dark Rey from The Rise Of Skywalker made me realize I like women with pointy teeth. (this is true, but it's also a joke between me and my friend Corey who took me to see the movie and watched me cry my eyes out. I thought she was pretty when she had pointed teeth and he made fun of me so I made a point of writing it into the story.)

And then I didn't have an ending. So what do I do? Procrastinate and write an essay for my friend (the aforementioned Corey) about telepathy. And you know what? Part of my essay ended up inspiring the ending.

The essay is available below. Do I believe everything I claim in it? No, not even close, but I do believe it's not out of the realm of possibilities, and a small group of people I know (yes, Corey, or as he has been requested to be called, that blond headed kid, is one of them) have had enough creepy instances where it seems like we are reading each other's minds.

Also, I was never good at writing essays. I did not really proofread this, and all the jokes are just attempts to make Corey laugh. I don't even remember why I wrote an essay for him really. The best way I can explain it is i'm autistic and I wanted my friends to give me homework assignments. Anyway. Enjoy, and please consider picking up a copy of Community Of Magic Pens

https://atthisarts.com/product/community-of-magic-pens/

Hans Berger was a soldier with an interest in mathematics and astronomy. One day he was in the horse equivalent of a car accident, and nearly died. His sister sensed that he was in grave danger, and telegraphed him. This had such a profound effect on Hans that he switched his field of study so he could focus on the search for this strange psychic potential in the human brain.
He went on to invent electroencephalography.
Such events are not unheard of. People somehow knowing that their loved ones are in danger, have died, gave birth. More mundane, every day examples include the uncanny feeling that you are about to get a phone call from someone you have not talked to in years, or knowing what a close friend is about to say or do, seemingly beyond the scope of intuition and being able to read body language.
My mother and I had a lot of problems, but there is no denying our brains were in sync. One example that still mystifies me was when we were watching an episode of a TV show, for some reason I started thinking about a book series we both read, and my mother suddenly decided she had to mention how upset she still was, over a year later, that Katherine Heigl was cast in the movie adaptation of that book series.
Did one of us have the thought and the other person received it? Or had we just spent so much time together at our brain waves and thought patterns synced up in such a way that we both came to the thought, Independent of each other, at the same time?
In the words of that little girl from the taco commercial, why not both?
Research has shown that when people experience things together, their brain waves, As well as breathing and heart beat rhythm, can sync up. This is why live concerts are more enjoyable then watching music at home; our brains evolved to enjoy brain to brain coupling.
Let us assume telepathy exists, And is the result of a scientific, rather than magical, phenomenon. After all, magic is just science we haven't explained yet. So, how is telepathy possible?
One way it may be possible is a transmitter/receiver structure somewhere in the brain. Or perhaps there is some sort of psychic field existing all around us, like gravitational or magnetic fields. But transmissions weaken the further you get from the source, as do magnetic fields. And yet we have stories of people knowing their loved one was in danger halfway across the world, while we don't constantly hear the thoughts of people around us.
Here's where quantum entanglement comes in.
Quantum entanglement. Spooky action at a distance. When two particles become entangled, they can "communicate" instantaneously across vast distances of space. So what if our brains can become entangled?
Why do people only sense when their love ones are in distress? It could be argued that, if we sense a random stranger in distress somewhere across the world, we are less likely to acknowledge it because it could seem like a meaningless dream or feeling, rather than a telepathic moment regarding someone we care about. And even if we were truly connected in that moment to a stranger, we are very unlikely to ever hear about the real life occurrence, and therefore unlikely to even realize that it was a telepathic connection.
But enough of playing the devils advocate. I would make a devils advocate joke here, but I have never seen the movie.
Studies have shown that holding the hand of a loved one can decrease your perceptions of pain, because touching a loved one synchronizers your alpha-mu waves. Does this mean alpha-mu waves could have something to do with psychic phenomena? Let's look at what else those waves do.
The mu waves in particular are predominately found in a part of the brain that deals with motor control. The premotor cortex, the supplementary motor area, the primary somatosensory cortex, and the inferior parietal cortex show evidence in humans of mirror neurons, which fire both when you do an action and when you watch someone else to action. To date, there is no widely accepted explanation for why our brains need this feature. Does it help us learn how to move our bodies? Does it help us empathize with other people, Or better predict their intentions? The world may never know, to quote that annoying bird.
The more neurons are firing, the more your mu waves are suppressed. People with psychosis and schizophrenia have been found to have more suppressed mu waves, perhaps suggesting a connection between suppressing my waves and being slightly disconnected from reality. How are hallucinations that different than telepathic visions, After all?
My theory is this:
When we bond with people, our brains develop a sort of psychic quantum entanglement, making us far more likely to be able to telepathically connect then two random strangers. Our brains are in sync. If you were in great danger, every part of your brain would be in overdrive trying to save you, deciding what part of your body to move to dodge a bullet or stop a runaway car. With so many neurons firing, your mu waves will be suppressed. My brain, which is synchronized with yours, will notice that no matter how far the distance between us. And my mirror neurons will fire as if I am making the same motions you are. Maybe similar structures exist in other parts of the brain, to give me more information then just movement; sights, sounds, whatever. My brain interprets these firing neurons as visions or premonitions of what is happening to you.
Logically, this phenomenon would be more pronounced the deeper the bond between us, and certain people will naturally have a greater aptitude for this kind of communication, but that is the gist of my theory.
No, as to whether or not I believe telepathy exists? Read my mind, you tell me.

Friday, April 3, 2020

The Falling Marionette - re-printed

Boy howdy. The world is a mess and it's terrifying and we're all just doing what we can to survive. Personally, I have decided to start saying "Boy howdy" a lot more often, and boy howdy is it fun.

It might not be the ideal time to be promoting books, when money is tight and everything feels like the beginning of a Twilight Zone episode, but art is always important. Science will get us through physically, but art is what makes survival life. Art is what keeps us going.

Disabled Voices is a collection of fiction, memoirs, and poems about, by, and for disabled people. And it's probably out of print everywhere because *gestures vaguely at the world* but if you can, I would encourage you to order it. Disabled people are getting the worst treatment in this apocalypse. We are more susceptible to illness, usually, but we are also more susceptible to people being (excuse the cursing please; I try not to swear much on my blog because that's what Twitter is for, but sometimes you just have to) assholes. We are seen as less deserving of treatment and resources because we are a drain on society, or our lives have no purpose, or we are not productive.

Well look at this. This book is full of disabled people contributing to society, giving our lives purpose, producing art. We matter.

My contribution to this book is The Falling Marionette. It is a story about a girl with spinal muscular atrophy who finds out that a high tech "cure" doesn't solve all her problems.

This  is the third time this story has been published, and I don't link to the first two anymore. Not because of anything the publishers did, they were all lovely people, but because I am not proud of the way I wrote the story. Ableism and ableist ideas are so ingrained in our society, so internalized in the minds of disabled people, that we don't realize all the time when we are speaking about one person's disability in such a way that accidentally perpetuates another person's stereotypes. There wasn't anything very bad in my story, but it has been a few years since I wrote it, and part of it made me less than proud. I don't know if it is perfect now, I don't know if it can ever be perfect, but right now I am pretty damn proud of it.


https://books.google.com/books/about/Disabled_Voices_Anthology.html?id=ji5eyQEACAAJ


Monday, March 23, 2020

Chen D'Angelo and the Chinese-Italian Dragon

Still working through the backlog of stories that were published but never properly announced. Today's offering: Chen D'Angelo and the Chinese-Italian Dragon!

It's the future, and everyone and everything that mattered on earth is on a generation ship headed toward a new planet. There are forests, and sometimes plants and animals from different areas of the world get along and create new ecosystems, but sometimes they don't. The city is the same way. Everyone mixes and mingles, but there are still places like Little Italy and Chinatown. And where Little Italy and Chinatown meet, there is a Chinese-Italian pizzeria.

The pizzeria is going to be sold if they can't raise enough money, but the owners' daughter has other ideas. She just needs to find the one thing people forgot back on earth: belief. And maybe a dragon.

This story and many others is available in Dragon Bike. https://microcosmpublishing.com/catalog/books/10155

Thursday, March 12, 2020

The Doll In The Ripped Universe

Some of my characters are more like me than others. The ones that are the most like me tends to be the autistic ones. I don't know if there's more freedom to describe things the way I think, or if the struggles of autistic characters match the resonant frequency of my heart, or what. They just tend to be my favorite.

The Doll In The Ripped Universe is one of those stories.

The main character is not actually much like me. Autistic and likes dinosaurs. But the story itself is not my story and I'm being purposely vague because I don't want to spoil the ending but for some reason I just very much connected with the main character. Our thought processes run on the same wavelength, and that made writing this incredibly easy for once.

Well, one very small part of the story is mine. The specific, neurotic way I experienced fear and anxiety over the smallest and most insignificant things in my childhood.

The Doll In The Ripped Universe is a story about autism and gender and finding yourself. It is also about what happens when you pick at a hole in the universe.

It is available now in Spoon Knife 4
https://www.amazon.com/Spoon-Knife-Neurodivergent-Spacetime-Anthology-ebook/dp/B08263JH7M

Monday, March 9, 2020

Space Opera Libretti author interview: Dawn Vogel

Good evening, passengers of the good spaceship Space Opera Libretti! This is the part where I usually make an airplane joke, but surely I won't do that this time. Except I will, so don't call me Shirley. (and that, my dears, is what we call a joke for old people!)
We invite one of our authors up to the cockpit every Monday to discuss their story available now in Space Opera Libretti.

Today's guest is Dawn Vogel!

In 10 words or less, how would you describe your story?
Intergalactic pop group saves the day!

What was the inspiration for this story? Be as brief or detailed as you want.
Not quite a year ago now, my husband finally got me to watch some Korean pop videos. He had been interested in K-pop for a while, but he had to find just the right groups in order to get me hooked. K-pop videos are visual spectacles, and some of them are even more spectacular (and weird) than others. Specifically, one of the groups he really likes, Brown-Eyed Girls, has a song called "Brave New World," and the video for that was the first inspiration for "Earworm." I reluctantly moved my band out of a space-travelling car and into an actual spaceship, but I envision the opening sequence of the story as beginning similarly to how the video for "Brave New World" starts. One of my favorite groups, Twice, has a song called "BDZ" (it's short for bulldozer), which also has a sort of odd video, and that inspired the later scenes of the story.

If your story had a theme song, what would it be?
The obvious choices would be "Brave New World" and "BDZ," but I imagine Hafsa's sound as a bit more like "The Diva Dance" from The Fifth Element.

Tell me a little bit about yourself.
I'm an author and editor of short and long speculative fiction (and, recently, poetry). I have a background in history and work with historians and archaeologists as an editor and office manager. My husband and I live in Seattle, where we are owned by five very demanding cats. I also game, craft (mostly crochet and cross-stitch), and attend a lot of local conventions. I have a ridiculously large collection of Funko Pops that prevent me from using a real desk, and I love watching bad historical TV shows.

Do you have anything you want to promote? Other stories or books, your Etsy shop, a cool video you found online of dancing llamas that you think the world needs to see?
The third book in my steampunk trilogy, Brass and Glass 3: The Boiling Sea, came out in October of this year, and can be found on Amazon and through other online booksellers. I've sold a relatively large number of stories and poems in 2019, with some coming out later this year and some coming out next year. I blog weekdays at http://historythatneverwas.com. And you can find my crafty stuff at http://scarywhitegirl.etsy.com.



Every story in the paperback edition of Space Opera Libretti is accompanied by a title page. Earworm's features a mysterious soundwave beaming out into space.


Dawn Vogel’s academic background is in history, so it’s not surprising that much of her fiction is set in earlier times. By day, she edits reports for historians and archaeologists. In her alleged spare time, she runs a craft business, co-edits Mad Scientist Journal, and tries to find time for writing. Her steampunk series, Brass and Glass, is published by DefCon One Publishing. She is a member of Broad Universe, Codex Writers, and SFWA. She lives in Seattle with her
awesome husband (and fellow author), Jeremy Zimmerman, and their herd of cats. Visit her at     or on Twitter @historyneverwas.  


Tuesday, March 3, 2020

The House Of Lonely Vines

Good morning! Or. Afternoon. Whatever.

My story, The House Of Lonely Vines, is available in Cryptgnats, a horror anthology about graveyards and mausoleums and other places for the dead.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/1948899051/ref=ox_sc_act_image_4?smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER&psc=1

I have not read the rest of the anthology yet so I can't give specific content warnings, but here are the warnings for my story:
Fire, death, bad things happening to children.

My story is a flash fiction piece about a lonely little girl and a lonelier little house that grew itself from the ashes of tragedy.

It's based on a real house my mom and I used to drive past on the way to our friends'. As far as I know, there's no tragedy involved with the house, but it was built so fast. Every time we went past, it seemed to have grown without us ever seeing people working on it. One day an empty lot, the next day a house. Then, suddenly a family living in it.