Thursday, April 21, 2016

One Day left

All contributions will be credited at the next higher perk Level.

Ebooks $1

$25 gets you a paperback, an audiobook, an ebook AND a tarot reading.

Become a character in the Eight Thrones Saga, just $100 instead of $150.

$150 gets you a custom paddle ($80), the character, a box ($25), a hat ($25), the tarot reading ($20), a paperback ($15), an audiobook ($10) and an ebook ($5). A $180 value, for $150, plus, you become a part of the story. Priceless.

Ren Fests, Pagan events and SCA

At first glance these things all look very similar. A bunch of weirdos all dressed up, doing something strange in a wooded area. While an ordinary person might go to a renaissance faire, they would never dream of joining the SCA or becoming pagan.

And there are reasons for this.

Paganism is a lifestyle. It is a religion and something you do every day. It changes your world-view and alters how you act. It brings magic home on a daily basis. There is little room for magic in Joe Ordinary's Life.

The SCA can range from hobby to lifestyle (FIJAGDH or FIAWOL). It can be something fun you do on weekends, a chance to wear pretty dresses, learn a new craft, eat new and exciting food. Or it can devour every non-working hour until you're rushing from Baronial meeting, to guild meeting to fighter practice to event planning session to household craft night with never a chance at any other sort of life. Again, Joe Ordinary, with a job and mortgage and kids, isn't interested in living like that.

But the Ren fest, that's a little bit of magic, one or two or six weekends a year. That requires no great time commitment from Joe, just a day of pleasure. He gets outside. He watches some really bad comedy shows ( While I was on holiday, I shot two enormous grizzly bears! And I had them stuffed./Mounted?/No, just shaking hands), some pretty decent music shows, the belly dancers, and maybe some artisans making things: a blacksmith, a basketweaver. He has a bit of cider from an ancient style press. He eats a turkey leg while watching the jousting and pretends he is lord of all he surveys for the afternoon. And then he goes home to his ordinary life, satisfied he's normal, feeling virtuous for having donated to the arts, either directly to performers or indirectly (the RenFest was, for years, a fundraiser for the KC Art Institute) .

As a merchant, and I have sold to all three, these are HUGE differences.

Pagans may or may not have money. They don't tend to be the most financially prosperous, much like the SF convention community, with whom there is some overlap.

When they buy, they buy something that fits into their whole life. They buy shawls, and scarves and hand-warmers. They buy boxes and jewelry that speaks to them, and wands. Ritual clothing is also a good bet.

In short, they buy things they don't know how to make, and kind of need. Something they will use frequently.


SCA folk seldom have money. It all goes to play the game. If they buy, they are buying something they cannot make. They shop for their persona first and then their ordinary life. And SCA folk are all crafters. Most sew, most do several other things. Wood, leather and armor are the best bets here. And under $20 or over $200 was the rule I heard years ago.

They are buying game upgrades.


Ren Fest shoppers fall into two categories.

The first wants something a little unusual to have after the fest, a reminder of the fun they had, that isn't too intrusive. A tiny bottle with glitter that glows in the dark (a bottled fairy), a flower crown or hat to hang on the side of the mirror and smile when they see, a plaque with a witty saying, or a CD by a musician they enjoyed. These things fit their lives. make them smile and bring them back the next year.

They want souvenirs.

The second kind wants to be a part of the show. They will buy clothing, pouches and other items to fit their idea of themselves. This is the corset, sword and chain-mail bikini crowd. They tend to be teens or college students and often end up in the Faire or in the SCA.

They want, like the SCA folk, game upgrades.

I have opted for the Fest crowd because it goes with my painful lesson: You can't sell things to broke people. People come to the Faire to spend money. People go to pagan events for the rituals and their friends and classes, and to SCA events for the fighting or classes or competition or feast. Shopping is extraneous in these venues.

So, we go where the money is,.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Three days left

Donate during these last days and I'll boost your perks to the next level. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Death again

I am a servant of Hermes Psychopompous, Hermes the Soul Guide. I am the Crone. Death is a part of life and it is the part I am responsible for. That doesn't make things any easier when I am called to work.

Death leaves holes. Holes where people used to be, in physical space, in mental space and in our hearts. Places where they should be. Laughter or words you listen for that never comes. Empty spaces, where someone no longer is.

Those holes aren't neat and cauterized. They're raw and bleeding, and they hurt all the time, and more often if you think about them or poke them.

Some people leave great gaping wounds, whose raw edges seem to fade very little. Some people leave smaller holes, easily healed, like a new piercing. But they all hurt and the holes never go away.

And someday, when our hearts are nothing but lace, all holes held together with thread, we go and leave the same holes in another.

Today I got word that a new hole has formed in my life, the third in sixteen months.

An online friend, from the con circuit, opted out of this life, his pain and burdens too large for him.
His family is medically fragile and his name is being held until the family can be told.

We only met once, but we had talked many times online. He was smart, funny and very similar to me in many ways.

We were on a panel and talking about the big drama in any zombie movie, when someone has to put down a zombified loved one.

Everyone blinked when I said it was a very real moment and many of us have to do it in reality. I gave the example of Mom, when we opted to end the minimal treatment she was getting and stop letting her be "alive," so she could move on into death. Millions of people "pull the plug" on their loved ones every day.

My voice cracked as I spoke. And his hand was on my back, steadying me until I could finish my thought.

My friend, may you pass softly.
May you find healing in Mother's Cauldron of Rebirth.
May the burdens you could not carry here vanish in the light of the Summerlands.
May your family and friends be comforted.
May you return to us swiftly, for your work is incomplete.

But dammit. Not a large hole, still a raw one.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Crowdfunding Special: offering a little boost

Today only, Monday the 28th, I will bump the first $100 in donations. 

That means, if you contribute at the $5 level, I will match your donation and bump you to the secret $10 perk. If you contribute $30, I bump you to $50 and make you a hat.

$100 of my own money, 12 hours at Michael's, 10 secret shops. 7.5 hours training Sears associates. That;s on top of the money and time and sweat already in the shop.

The link to the secret $10 perk level.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Crowd funding

We need all the help we can get. Please check out the perks we offer.

We're achieving some of our goals on our own. Don't let this dissuade you. We need more help.

Why mock Donald Trump?

There comes a time in any politician's career when they need their ego punctured.

Trump is appealing to the lowest common denominator, the cuttlefish, Harlan Ellison calls them.
He is doing this, and promising things he cannot deliver, in a parody of fascism that is violating Poe's Law left, right and center. (Poe's Law; It is impossible to parody the religious right because they have already published a serious article that is a step beyond your satire)

Trump is not the next Hitler. He is using the same tactics, but once in place will focus on getting his name gilded across the White House and getting 16 points on the margin for the Eiffel Tower Deal (and possibly throwing in the Washington Monument)  Read Dave Neiwert's piece on this. He's right on the money.

Even his supporters know he's a buffoon and egotist. They like him because he throws raw meat to the slavering beasts that lurk on the underbelly of our psyches.

What he is doing is paving the way for some earnest young man, a nice Christian kid with a deep love of God an country, an Eagle Scout, to step up in 2020 and lead us STRAIGHT into fascism.  We missed the last exit about 12-15 years ago.

And with his decree that he will punish newspapers, it becomes imperative and patriotic to mock him in every possible forum.

Why? Let Spike Jones explain

By showing this man for what he is, we are resisting. By holding his ideas up to ridicule and obloquy, we show how bankrupt they are.

My own resistance: If Trump is elected, I'm wearing nothing but red lipstick. every day.  Hitler hated red lipstick which is why it was so popular in the 40s.

I will write rude books about dubious sexual escapades: Taken by Trump Tower.. The Boss and my Apprenticed Ass. Der Donald mit die Piche. Maybe some badly disguised Gremlins 2 fanfic. No, wait, I actually like that movie.

But I will stand up and say "I am an American and a woman, and I PEE whether you like it or not. And I took an oath when I was eight years old to serve God, My Country and Mankind. I took it over and over for fifteen more years, and I am standing here saying I am for the gods, all the gods, and those who worship them, all worshipers, I am for America. I love her and want to make her better than she is. I see her potential. I feel the anger that she is not what she was for my parents and grandparents I want to harness that anger into something useful, not into a firestorm to burn away all who are not like me. Serving mankind does not discriminate against color or boundary."

I stand against him, and will mock him with virulent satire at every turn. Should he be elected, I will do my best to make him a laughingstock. I am only one person. But don't quarrel with a woman who buys ink by the barrel.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

So you want to end abortion?

Then let's figure out how.

First you must accept that completely ending abortion is a pipe dream. As long as women get pregnant, as long as pregnancies go bad, it will be a medical necessity.

Second, it is a truism that ending legal abortion doesn't end the practice, it just makes women resort to home methods, including douching with drain cleaner, taking herbs where the effective dose is the same as the lethal and inserting sharp objects into their bodies. Criminalizing abortion only causes dead women.

Third, the abortion rate hit its lowest point ever in 2014, with fewer than 17 pregnancies out of 1000 ending this way.

For the record, the infant mortality rate in Mississippi is 8 per 1000 (which is the same as the rate for white women having abortions nationally)

So, what can be done?

Simply saying "Everyone must stop having non-procreative sex" does not work. We have proven this over ten thousand years of human civilization. Where rules are placed on human behavior, humans work to get around them. Witness places that punished adultery by execution, and people still had affairs.

Abstinence has a 100% user failure rate.

The sane way to approach this is "Why do women have abortions?" A better question is "Why do 40% of women, regardless of religion, class, color or lifestyle find themselves in the position where they need to not be pregnant?'

The answer is not, as some would have you believe "because they are stupid, evil baby-eating ogresses."  Maybe one or two are, but not 40% of the population.

The primary answer is finances. This is borne out by numerous studies.
The second most common is school/job interruption.
(there's a 1% variation in the placement of these reasons in the Guttmacher study)

Abortions decline when the economy improves. Notice the sharp drop in the graph around 1996. (the earliest Baby Boomers hitting 50 may have had something to do with it as well.) It mostly leveled with slight decline and then spiked again in the mid-2000s, during the recession. Since 2008, the decline has been steady. (and the early Baby Busters/GenX started turning 40 about then and hitting menopause)

Improved birth control: IUDs and implants are responsible for some of this. People tend to be more diligent about birth control in harder times, because they can't afford another mouth.

And that's what it comes down to. When I was driving, I came to the conclusion that if I got pregnant, tubal be damned, I would have to end the pregnancy. It would end my career and I carried the insurance on the kids, including two chronically ill ones. And if I did get pregnant, it would likely be an ectopic pregnancy, which would be fatal.

Job interruption at that point would have been damaging. And it was when it happened a few years later. We're still recovering 4 years down the road.

Now, multiply that by ending school, or by killing a career at the beginning, when the woman has no resources. That is the why.


So what can be done?

The answers are relatively simple, but very unpalatable for most of the Pro-Life movement.

1) Accurate sex education, with talk of birth control, not just failure rates, beginning at age 11 and up. I know, they're still kids. But they are developing, even at that age. My daughters were making college age men walk into walls and street signs at 12. At 11, middle-aged men were attempting to follow them off elevators.

2) Access to birth control, including long term forms. This means insurance and medicaid need to pay for it and employers need to butt out. Over the counter pills are just one more way for insurance to get out of paying.

3) Education and empowerment. Girls must be taught to say no if they don't want something and everyone must be taught to listen. Educated women are less likely to get pregnant when they don't want to, and have fewer children as a rule.

4) Economic changes. I favor a Guaranteed Minimum Income. Unplanned pregnancies are more likely to be continued in good economic times, when the woman feels secure in her ability to take care of the child. Living wages, good jobs, and day care that doesn't cost as much as an Ivy League education are all part of this.

 It's not a hard concept. It is very hard to change people's minds when they look at that list and see "Teach Immorality, Encourage Immorality, Teach Immorality, Socialism" and not actual ideas that will help real people.

Then again, these are people who think women get third trimester abortions out of carelessness and evil and not out of wanted pregnancies going heartbreakingly wrong.

Can we end abortion? No. Not completely. Not even if we made pregnancy an opt-in decision instead of an opt-out. If everyone was on the IUD or implant, and had to make a conscious effort to get pregnant, not even then. Those wanted planned pregnancies would still go bad.

Can we reduce abortion still further, make actual infant mortality higher? possibly. The above 4 ideas would be a start.

A brief illustration on the opt-in/opt-out: I was in a high school role-playing game and the sex ed class was discussing pregnancy. The kids from space milieus (Star Trek, Star Wars, Farscape, Etc) treated pregnancy as an opt-in event, something one had to make a decision to have happen. The kids from contemporary milieus treated it as opt-out, something to be actively avoided. The kids from fantasy milieus were pretty much agog at the idea of sex without reproduction and wanted to be part of this shiny future.

So, do we want to move into the future, stay where we are, or regress to a place where sex and childbirth are inextricably linked? I know where some groups want to take us. And don't think it can't happen. Bear in mind, we lost indoor plumbing for nearly 1400 years.

Roe is the first target. Griswold is the next. And that has been the game-plan since the 1980s. Strange how the stated goal is directly at odds with the most-effective practices for achieving it.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Writers Write

This is the advice I give in every blog post on writing.

Put your butt in the chair.
Open the word processor.
Turn on some hard driving music
hit keys until you produce a manuscript. If an infinite number of monkeys can do it...

Because Writers Write.

Stephan King, Neil Gaiman, Brian Keene, Elizabeth Donald and Me. We all do the same thing.
But in chair.
Fingers on keyboard.

Or sometimes not.

I've hit massive burnout after sixteen novels and 100+ short stories and two deaths in the space of nine months. Losing Mom last December is still biting me around every corner. Losing Darren... My Constant Reader is gone. I'm tap-dancing for myself again. I'm working two part time jobs and sometimes the juggling act means a 15 hour day.

So I gave myself permission.

I'm actively NOT writing.  Deliberately, mindfully NOT opening my word processor for the month of January.

Instead, I'm coloring. I'm drawing (including taking a class). I'm working the day jobs. I'm knitting, I'm reading and reading and reading some more, and watching movies and TV. I'm editing audiobooks. I'm playing with kittens.

I am, in short, refilling my tank and doing some self-care. And that can be as much of a necessity as the words themselves.

But yes, writers write. Maybe not every day or even every month. But they do put the words on paper.  This is the advice I always give when asked to blog about writing. The advice I will always give.

"Mood? Bah! Mood is a thing for cattle or lovemaking."

In a couple weeks, I'll plug Dragonforce back into the speakers and plunge back into the Roaring 20s with my adventurers and Rock the Casbah. (I have a short due for a rock-and-roll themed pulp anthology)  But for now, no guilt over not writing.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Let's talk politics

It comes as no surprise to anyone who has read this blog that I am liberal. I am the queer pagan feminist Pat Robertson warned you about. And I don't vote for people who want to harm me.

As I see it, this election is a three way race.

(links provided only in the most egregious cases, rest of this is out there for anyone with Google)

On the Republican side, no matter who gets nominated, he will be a theocrat attempting to run us full tilt bogie into fascism. I don't say that lightly.

They are all "pro-life" because that is their base. Unfortunately some of them missed the memo that abortion is the big fund raiser, because they are seriously trying to roll back Roe, and taking aim at Griswold. They also have no idea that criminalizing abortion kills women. And if they did, they would consider it a feature, not a problem.

They're all for more surveillance.

They're all for school vouchers over public school.

They all support Fracking and drilling for more oil and call other energy sources "pie in the sky."

They're all about breaking down the Federal government and dumping all the burdens on the states.

They're all against the ACA, without fielding an actual plan to replace it.

They are all on record as being against Same-sex marriage

They all voted against re-authorizing the Violence Against Women Act.

Jeb Bush. Who wants to end SNAP and replace it with "state level block grants" He express-laned the Florida electric chair and opposed treatment programs for drug offenders. He support For-Profit colleges and wants to abolish the Department of Education. Has described the Gay, Black and Women's movements as "victim movements" designed to get people thinking of themselves as deserving something. He's mainstream, not scary and might just clinch it, despite the name

Ben Carson: Possibly just a token, but might be a contender. he has said nothing that distinguished him from the pack, except the gaffe about God building the Pyramids as grain storage, which shows he has apparently confused the videogame Civilization with history.

Chris Christie. Knowingly killed much-needed transportation projects to undermine union labor

Ted Cruz. Some question about his citizenship and eligibility.  His father believes he's anointed. And apparently he thinks so too. Here is the happy smiling face of Christian Dominionism, which the Right has been flirting with for years. He flat out told the American Family Association that the only way to save the US is to turn it into a theocracy.
His economic and social policies are outlined here, and basically boil down to "if it helps anyone, we're cutting it."

Carly Fiorina. Failed president of Hewlett-Packard, and like all high level Republican women, a ladder-pulling token.

Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum have made themselves so odious, neither will get the nomination/

John Kasich. The dark horse, he's kept his mouth shut and avoided any gaffes. This will look attractive

Rand Paul, son of the Tea Party founder. Another who wants to destroy the government if elected to run it

Marco Rubio is for lowering property tax and raising sales tax (regressive taxation) and Grover Norquist likes him. He's here primarily to offset Cruz and appeal to Hispanic voters. He also rates 98.67% from the American Conservative Union.

Donald Trump has proposed American Muslims carry special ID and be included in a special terrorist database. He has had Muslims and blacks thrown out of his rallies. he comes across as over the top and ridiculous, but people who lived through the 30s are scared of him. He has the potential to run on his own and garner enough votes.

Any one of these is going to return us to a recession quagmire with money evaporating out the top. Any one of them is going to impose a Christian version of Sharia Law while railing against trhe Muslim one.

There are two main Democratic choices,.

Hilary Clinton is a Status Quo democrat. She'll continue the Business as Usual  position we've had from Obama, probably with some more window dressing to make us think there is progress happening. But in the end, she is another corporate shill. We've known this since 92. She may have to get us into a war to prove she's tough enough to play in the all-boys' clubhouse. The tiptoeing toward fascism and corporate feudalism will continue. She is being funded by private prisons. She is for raising the minimum wage.Strongly opposed to privatizing Social security.

100% from NARAL, CAF, APHA
96% from NAACP
89% from HRC
85% from AFL-CIO
82% from NEA
60% from ACLU
0% from Christian Coaltion

Bernie Sanders is a progressive democratic socialist. His positions are that the US is a first country and should be acting like it: universal health care, universal higher education. His trade policies are protectionist, in the interest of bringing American manufacturing jobs back. His trade voting record is mixed. I've heard him say it's a bad thing that we aren't innovating. All the innovation is being done in other countries, with better educated populations, the building is being done in countries with slave labor and we're just being end-users of the tech. He's for raising the minimum wage and seems to understand that the dollar is a fiat currency. He's against private prisons. Strongly opposed privatizing Social Security.

100% rating from NARAL, CAF (Council for Alternative Fuel), APHA (American public health Association), AFL-CIO and HRC,
97% from NAACP,
93% from ACLU
83% from the NEA
And 7% from the Christian Coalition. (probably for supporting Israel)

And for those of us who are queer, who have queer kids and have daughters, keeping our rights is important, Not one Republican thinks I have the right to be myself. They want to destroy education, the safety net, and any hope of not living on canned catfood in my Golden Years.  Some of them are using the same language: Don't Sell to Gays, Identify the Muslims, as has always been used when a falling democracy starts looking for scapegoats,

It's a bad time, friends and neighbors and things will be ugly this next 11 months,.