How Writing Fantasy Prepared Me for Dementia Care

I have an essay up at Tor.com about dementia care and the suspension of disbelief.

I also highly recommend reading the comments section, where people have been sharing their stories and making really beautiful and valid points.

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Book day!

Today’s the day! A BREACH IN THE HEAVENS, the final book of the Godserfs Trilogy, is out today! You can buy it at your local bookstore or at any of these fine retailers (my favorite is IndieBound, at the bottom, which supports independent bookstores).

In celebration of the end of the trilogy, DJ at MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape has posted an interview I did with him a couple weeks ago. Check it out!

I’m Not Woke, and I’m Not Your Ally. Yet.

I’ve been uncomfortable for sometime with the left’s two most common terms for the “good kind” of privileged people: Woke (usually used for white people who aren’t shitty), and Ally (used in all sort of contexts, but my first exposure to the term was in high school in reference to “straight allies” who supported gay rights). It has taken me some time to really put my finger on why I don’t like the way these terms are used.

After all, the language of alliance is deep and descriptive, and the metaphor of wokeness is evocative and powerful. Who can argue that mainstream white culture’s inability to perceive black humanity and all but the most stylized black pain isn’t in some ways like being asleep, and that those who break free from that slumber don’t come out shocked and disoriented? Who would disagree that if we’re on the same team, we’re therefore allies?

Well, first let’s talk about “woke.” To my mind, the term implies that those of us who are woke see what’s going on, but how can anyone ever really see and understand what’s up without being there? Hell, some people aren’t “woke,” don’t get it, even though they ARE there. To accept the term “woke” feels like accepting the idea that a white person can truly, deeply understand all the ins and outs of white supremacy and oppression without having experienced them on the receiving end.

Okay then, but what’s my problem with the language of “allyhood?” I think again it’s the notion that you can be an ally as a noun and retain it as part of your identity, as opposed to the more accurate notion that alliances are things we construct that frequently fall apart. The US and USSR were allies. Then they weren’t. Alliance is something you do toward some shared goal. If your goals aren’t shared, you’re not an ally anymore. I’ve seen white people claim to be allies of people of color in the same breath that they demand that members of that community abandon their goals. That is, frankly, not an alliance by any means.

I like ally better as a verb. White liberals can ally with people of color to elect certain officials, pass certain legislation, effect certain cultural changes etc. Jews have in the past allied with black Christian church leaders and Muslim leaders  to combat white supremacy (hopefully we can keep that going). When you and I ally with each other, that relationship is inherently one of action, and is assumed to be temporary unless proven otherwise. Sometimes such an alliance can also lead to friendships. Great! But you’re only an ally to my cause, and I’m only an ally in yours, if we’re working TOGETHER. If I go ignoring your needs or prioritizing my wants over them, I can no longer consider myself your ally. Our alliance is over.

Readercon!

*UPDATE: The panel Rethinking the Dangerous Victim, originally scheduled for Friday at 10am, has been moved to Saturday night at 8pm. I will still be there, and I hope you will too!

ORIGINAL POST:

Hey, are you going to Readercon this year? What if I told you that the first night is free?

Yes, indeed! This lovely con runs from Thursday, July 12 through Sunday the 15th in Quincy, MA, and if you’re interested but unable to spend the whole weekend/registration fee, you can check it out for free on the evening of the 12th! You can even (gasp) come hear me read from my books!

I’ve been scheduled for a half-hour solo reading at 9pm on the free night, Thursday the 12th, and for two absolutely fascinating panels later in the con:

On Friday the 13th at 10am, I have Rethinking the Dangerous Victim 
Panel Description:
“Many SF stories hinge on distress calls that turn out to be scams. In the real world, under 10% of felony reports are false; the number is even lower for false reports of general distress. Why do we return to the dangerous victim story—the story in which the person who claims to need help is not only lying but actively malicious—again and again? What exciting adventure stories can we tell about helping those who are genuinely in need?”

Then on Sunday the 15th at 1pm, there’s Our Bodies, Our Elves: Sexual Awakenings in Epic Fantasy
Description:
Starting in the later 20th century, the bildungsromans of epic fantasy began to include sexual awakenings. Some are raunchy, some are awkward, and almost all are self-directed; the wise elders of the genre are mysteriously silent on this crucial topic. When authors can imagine elves and dragons, why is it so hard to also imagine decent fantastical sex ed? How do today’s writers and readers approach this aspect of adolescent self-discovery stories?

These panels are going to be great, and so is the whole convention. We’ve been going to Readercon ever since our daughter was born, as our weekend off for child-free intellectual conversation. It’s a great, thoughtful convention full of great, thoughtful people, no costumes required (or even expected). Come check it out!

Note: If you’re looking for me on the program and can’t find me, it’s because they have me listed under my real last name, Beit-Aharon.

Reviews are good. Even “bad” ones.

I have been completely blown away by the response to a recent $1.99 Bookbub promo for Silent Hall. If you are one of the many people who picked up my first book for just a couple of bucks, thank you! If I may request just one more favor, would you please consider leaving me a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads? Reviews really matter.

They matter because they make authors’ work more visible, and they help readers tell which books are worth the time and which might not be their bag. For every reader who leaves a review, there are dozens who have similar tastes and are looking to find their next great read. So please, do them a favor. Tell them what you loved about the books you read, what squicked you out, what disturbed you. It’s all appreciated. Whether you think my books are excellent, lousy, or just okay, voicing that opinion in the form of a review helps everybody in the system.

I want to be clear here: I love sales. I want sales. I love great reviews that help drive more sales. But I appreciate the negative ones too, and the mixed bags, because I want my books to reach the right audience. A well elucidated criticism isn’t a bad review, it’s a great way to make sure a book will reach only people who will appreciate it despite (or because of) its flaws.

When you say “hey this book was mostly enjoyable, but CW: there is the threat of harm to children, and also icky sex stuff,” that doesn’t cause me harm, and you know, it may save some readers from trauma. I’d rather miss those readers and the $0.47 in royalties than hurt them. My books do not have content warnings. I didn’t even think to suggest it before publication, and in any case it would be up to the publisher and not me to weigh whether CWs would be good for business and decide whether or not to include them. But you know what can help fill the gaps? Reviews!

I’ve had reviews that complained about the way my first book included menstruation. You know what, that’s not for everyone! If you’re a person who can’t handle reading an awkward scene where an awkward and isolated teenage boy learns about menstruation for the first time, that’s totally okay! I’d rather not put you through that scene if it’ll just bother you. That’s the kind of stuff we rely on our reviewers to bring to light.

So please, all it takes is a minute or two. If you love a book, write a review. If you hate a book, write a review. If your feelings about a book are mixed, write a review.