Friday, March 30, 2012

Akata Witch (plus feminist Harry Potter too)

Because I really just needed to curl up with a book again, I chose Nnedi Okorafor's Akata Witch. I picked it because I like witches, I love Jillian Tamaki's art for the cover, and I hadn't read anything by Nnedi before. A delightful coming of age story about Sunny, a young albino African girl, Nigerian by ancestry, American by birth. It touched my longing for magic. It made me want to somehow obtain a juju knife. (It also made me want to make time for more reading in my life: there was this scene, where we see a witch absorbed in reading a very old dusty book, her hands are covered in the dust from the book, so is her beautiful expensive dress. She is deliciously covered in her book. Loved that image... yes. But I digress.)

Interestingly, I found Akata Witch to be a lot like a more female oriented, non-western Harry Potter. Which had me revisiting the Feminist Harry Potter tumbler, LOLing and pausing to think as I scrolled through the new content. Here's a few that struck me as applicable to issues Akata Witch addressed:


Now don't get me wrong: I LUV HARRY POTTER. But it's eye opening. yes? You should really go check out the rest of Feminist Harry Potter's content; it is awesome.

Anyhow.. here, are few things others have said about Akata Witch:

"Young-adult fiction is influential; women and men often act out stories they read as teens. But try finding feminism in popular fantasies such as Stephenie Meyer's Twilight, or communities of color in Rowling's best-selling Harry Potter series. Nnedi Okorafor's books are a welcome contrast."
~Ms Magazine review

"Akata Witch" is a much-needed addition to the many titles featuring Caucasian protagonists — one that will appeal to readers who are interested in foreign cultures, tradition and beliefs, or those who live between cultures themselves."
~LA times review

Aaaand... you can read an excerpt :)

(As an aside... I finally got around to picking up a copy of Hunger Games. Yeah, I'm a bit behind >.<)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Emotoinally Stable...

A friend sent me this.
Originally written by Nick Knox, put to music by Max .
(Both those links contain the lyrics/words.)

I put it on repeat and listened to over and over, all day.

"Don't be overwhelmed by the abundance: your life has only just begun, and you have all the time in the world."

Thank you, Wendy.

Monday, March 19, 2012


"Beauty" by David Barr Kirtley, is now up over at Lightspeed. Here's a taste:

“..."No!” he raged, pacing back and forth in front of the mirror. “No! This can’t be happening.”
Nicole watched from the bed. She said softly, “How?”
“I don’t know. The spell was gone, broken, it—” He turned on her suddenly. “You! You did this to me.”
“What? But I . . .”
He sat down beside her and took her by the hand. “Do you still love me?”
“Of course I do.”
“With all your heart? Like you used to?"...

Go read it, right Now. I'll wait :)

Good, isn't it? (I had the chance to do the illustration for it, which was intimidating, as the story just blew me away.)

It reminded me of a story I heard over at Pseudopod last year, Pieces, by M.C. Funk. You need to go listen to it RIGHT NOW. That episode has three stories, Pieces is the middle one, it starts at 8:20 minutes in. It's only about 4 minutes long, GO LISTEN NOW. I'll wait. :) "I knew your demon would be hungry the moment I found it...."

Probably my favorite thing about Pseudopod, is Alasdair Stuart's closing remarks after each story. He has a gift for reaching into the fiction, finding that hinge upon which everything turns, then nailing you to it. Here was his take away from Pieces (which I roughly transcribed from the audio, apologies for the errors):

"There’s a concept in a lot of martial arts I’m fascinated by of keeping your guard up. You keep your hands high and protect your head and if you protect your head then you don’t get hit as much and you’re still together enough to fight back. You need to guard your sense of self too. If you don’t, than sooner or later someone will stab inside your guard. If you are incredibly lucky that person will make you more by being there, as you will them. If you are not they will take pieces of your self and add them to themselves and give you you nothing whatsoever in return. Guard yourself. It belongs to no one but you. No. One. If you choose to give it away than do so, but if not, let your partner feed their own damn demon."

Nicole, from Kirtley's story, was able to guard her sense of self. She came through on the other end wiser, stronger. (Of course, also maligned). Our unnamed narrator from Funk's story didn't. She was taken to pieces by a sick sense of love that made her willing to sacrifice herself for another's comfort and safety.

One of the reasons I'm an illustrator in the spec fic field is my fascination with monsters. We all have a bit of monster in us. We all brush up against monsters in others. Life is the process of learning to love and connect, while protecting our own sense of self. And of keeping our own monsters under control. Anyhoo, just a few thoughts that came to mind, working on the illustration for Beauty.

Thank you, David Barr Kirtley and M.C.Funk for telling truth with fiction, Alasdair for being amazing, and Lightspeed for letting me work with Kirtley's story.

And now, because it feels fitting when discussing such matters, here is Rammstein's Du Hast.

Friday, March 9, 2012

losing my horcrux

"A Horcrux is a powerful object in which a Dark wizard or witch has hidden a fragment of his or her soul for the purpose of attaining immortality." ~wiki

It has been over three weeks since I last saw my book. I have no idea where it is. I'm still holding out hope, (small small hope).... but reality is setting in.

I feel like I made a horcrux. And then lost it.

I strung out my heart, multiple times through that book.
Performed open heart surgery.
Braced for literal surgery.
Processed the stuff that came to me as I sat in silence.
Gave flight to flocks of birds and released branches from their roots.

I had letters from dear friends in there. A note from Lessie on Wonder Woman stationary, the recipe for my signature drInkPunk Cocktail from Andy, a card FULL of tentacle-y doodles from Bear is in there. And so many more. The number bib from every race I've finished during this time is taped in there, becoming part of the art/life-documentation. Mementos from travels and conventions, midnight brain vomits, poems and quotes and song lyrics. Pain (seems the book got the most use during hard times) but happiness too. The book was almost full (almost two years full) only a small handful of pages left.

It feels like I've lost those two years of my life. Like I put my soul into something too easy to disappear. Yeah Yeah, okay, that's getting a bit melodramatic.

To be honest, the past two years have been rough. A part of me sees this as a message from the universe to just let all the toxic ink go. Some dear friends just sent me a care package, to help ease the loss of the book: the most amazing assortment of "things" (old postcards, foreign money, tiny illustrations on paper, photos of friends, a ribbon). The kind of stuff to lend good mojo to my new book. Which, incidentally, was also a gift from those friends.


So, yes. For your viewing pleasure, a few glimpses into the horcrux that got lost:

Thursday, March 1, 2012

(more birds)

It's not too late. Maybe this will be the year I get my bird tattoo.

(A friend linked to this Neko Case song on twitter, swooning now.)

Oh my sparrow, it's too late

Your body limp beneath my feet
Your dusty eyes cold as clay
You didn't hear my warning
Didn't hear my warning
~neko case, Maybe Sparrow.

Save the sparrows.

flock of birds_diptych