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Welcome to Dandelyon's Worlds!


Welcome to my blog
I'll share my creative life
I hope you share too!

I value friendship and good conversation.  I look forward to talking with you all. 

For the 2014 A-Z challenge, I'm doing ficlets in a new fantasy world, featuring catkin and other fantastic beings.  Here is the A-Z prompt list, with links to the posts as I write them. As I write this, I'm still hoping for prompts for many letters of the alphabet.  Thank you in advance for your questions, prompts, and comments!


You can find links to my flash fiction, to my serialized story, Fireborn, and to my poetry and songs over at my new (under construction) website, www.wyld-dandelyon.com.

You can also find some of my fiction, poetry, worldbuilding, and artwork over at www.tornworld.net, along with the fiction, poetry, world-building, and art of my talented co-creators there.


If you miss my old, long-winded landing page, you can find it and the landing pages for various projects by searching on the "landing" tag.


Thank You to everyone who's supported me
with your comments, nominations, and sponsorships!



I look forward to chatting with all of you!

Purple Silk, Blue Satin, and Green Brocade

A couple of days ago it was Mother’s Day, and—as is usual on my Facebook these days, because I have friends who care deeply and passionately about our world and the people in it—there was a lot of politics on my wall. One of the things on my wall was a friend (admittedly not a Clinton fan) who expressed horror that Hillary was willing to accept support from Republicans. In her mind, that was proof that Hillary doesn’t share any values with liberals.

And I cringed. This was, after all, Mother’s Day, a day when we all—liberals, conservatives, the apolitical, and people whose politics are best described on some other axis—celebrate our marvelous mothers or console our friends who had the misfortune to be born to mothers who aren’t so marvelous. We all value family, just as we all value warmth when it’s cold. Like today—cold and rainy, prompting me to reach for something warm. I tried a sweater, and it was too scratchy. With all the political uproar, I wanted more comfort than that.

There’s this old silk jacket I have. I bought it at the thrift store years ago even though it was a bit threadbare because the colors—purples and blues and greens—are marvelous and it fits gently around me and it’s so soft and sensual. It feels good, like a warm hug made of rose petals. It was old when I bought it, and now the outer silk is pulling apart in strips and shreds. Periodically, I pick this jacket up and give in to the illogical urge (why not just replace it?) to take satin scraps or shapes cut from old silk shirts and patch the areas that are the most tattered.

I pick it up today and put it on long enough to warm up a little, and rip it some more trying to put my phone into a place that, as it turns out, is not the pocket after all. I look again at my Facebook and see more vitriol against that other mother who hopes to help the world from the big white house in DC, and I take the jacket off again. I cut a bit of purple from a ripped silk sleeve I’ve been using to clean my glasses and start stitching it to the coat, and I feel comforted.

Our social fabric is tattered right now, pulled apart by low income and bigotry and fear. But we can’t just throw it away and buy a new one. Someone has shared a quote showing that Trump thinks he can get the nation through hard times by not paying our debt. I sigh. I so very much don't want to see more things like that, so I switch over to Live Journal on the computer and read a poem where a policeman tries to help a person with superpowers who has PTSD. Then I listen to an interview of Hillary, so I can close that tab on the web browser. I enjoy listening to Hillary when she can actually talk about her hopes for what she can accomplish if she’s President, and it’s easier to sew when I’m listening instead of reading. I reflect that our world is kind of like the poor super-kid in the poem, broken and traumatized and scared.

The bit of purple silk stitched firmly to the sleeve, I go looking to see what I can find that’s suitable to put next to it. Our youngest cat, Nebula, is sleeping in a box of material, and is quite bemused when I pull the box out and dig through things around and under her. She blinks at me, strange human, and I rub her under her chin. I find a scrap of white brocade not much more than an inch wide, and some blue satin and green brocade, and part of a tie whose off-white lining could work. And a hairball. Ugh. I brush the old dried mess into the trash and consign that bit of cloth to the laundry, along with some clothes that will probably be donated.

Then back to my old jacket with safety pins and material. I cut and lay down several more pieces and pin them in place. Some of them will doubtless get moved around as I stitch, but it’s a plan. I thread the needle again and continue. The lovely smooth texture of the silks and brocades calms me. It feels as if each stitch is sending healing energy out into the world, a gentle prayer or bit of kind sympathetic magic to help us all in our quest to make the world a little healthier, a little less ragged, and a little more beautiful.

I use up the thread on my needle and tie it off. Next is a spot where the original fabric is just gone, the rough lining showing through. It reminds me of the places where lies and hatred have hurt me and people I care about, but I smile, because here on this jacket I can fix things. More green, I think, to cover this spot. Green would look good. We could use more green in our politics too, and fewer lies. More kindness and less fear. I pin and I stitch, and I send my good wishes out into the world, and in my head is a line from science fiction that has, contrary to all expectations, become popular culture: “Make it so.”
So, I've been thinking about politics, which will be no surprise to anyone who's reading my Facebook. Lately, a number of friends have shared the post where Bernie talks about creating a grass-roots political movement to take back our government, which is, after all, supposed to be a government of the people, by the people, and for the people--all the people, not just people of one color or one religion (and certainly not a government of billionaires, by billionaires, and for billionaires).

So, first, to the Bernie supporters out there--Bernie is right about this thing.

Yes, as a woman who has liked Hillary for years, I am standing up publicly to say it.

Bernie is right. We need an influential, a humongous (I won't say "yuuuuuuge") grass-roots movement. I love it that Bernie is working to create a community of empowered voters. But--and it's an important but, for reasons I'll go into below--I have online friends who cringe when faced with Bernie supporters because in their experience, in recent days, any dissent (and especially any support of Hillary) has been met with such bad behavior that they felt they had to shut up to be safe. Think about that for a moment. That's no way to build the legacy that Bernie has asked you to build. Now, not all Bernie supporters are like that. But each one who is diminishes Bernie's legacy!

Bernie is right that we need a broad grass-roots movement. To get big money out of politics, we need a movement that is, at least for a few years, so big that no politician has any hope of getting elected without it. It takes time to build a community. That means that Bernie is absolutely right to stay in the race to the convention no matter what his numbers are, because that lets him keep the spotlight on building the political "capitol" to make the changes we need. (Or at least he's right so long as his supporters are engaging in community-building rather than deliberately alienating likely allies this grass-roots movement needs.)

To the other Bernie-lovers out there (and yes, I'm a Bernie lover even though I have admired and respected Hillary for a long time), I have to say, let's see what you can do to build a movement, to bring in women and minorities rather than telling us to shut up and know our place. Because without us, you are too few and your movement is too small to defeat the big money.

I'd say it's kind of like a union, except that the billionaires have managed to convince so many voters that "union" is a bad word. But the concept is sound--if you don't have the money, you need to have a way to negotiate with the people who do. In politics, that comes down to votes. Each and every vote counts, whether it's inspired by a slick, expensive commercial or a grass-roots community working together for the good of all.

To the Bernie-lovers out there, I point out his record of reaching across party lines and working with people who he mostly disagrees with, for the purpose of doing good for the American people, little bit by little bit. I suggest you take his example, and every time you're faced with someone who disagrees with you on something, treat them with respect and reach out to work with them. Bernie can't build a community all by himself. Even Jesus couldn't do that!

If you love Bernie, don't you think he deserves to have you build his movement and take back the government whether or not he wins this Presidential primary? If you love him and his plans for our country, then ask yourself how can you use your words to help build his legacy. Whether or not he wins this battle, it's possible to win in the long run. We can build Bernie's legacy one person at a time, and in the end enjoy Bernie's legacy for many years to come--but only if we reach out and build a coalition, only if we have sufficient numbers that money can't buy the votes that the rich dudes have come to count on.

And with each and every interaction you have with someone who doesn't think Bernie is the best candidate, you have a chance to make a person feel respected and listened to and valued and a part of a community of people that is devoted to getting big money out of politics, a community devoted to promoting human dignity and American opportunity.

Or you can make that one person feel disrespected and scared of the very movement Bernie has asked you to build.

Every single time you talk to someone who isn't already a Bernie supporter, you have a chance to build his legacy or harm it.

Your choice.

Tags:

Every January, the Rose and Bay awards are open for nominations. The Rose and Bay awards are for excellence in crowdfunding, and the categories are fiction, poetry, art, webcomics, other projects, and patron.

I know I've missed this chance to express appreciation for some of my favorite content providers in the past. Things were busy, I got sick, you know life happens, and sometimes it gets away from you. But today I'm adulting--paying bills (I've got the mortgage check written, but others still to write) and paying a bit of recognition forward for the people whose crowdfunded work I appreciated in 2015. I'm going to check what I bookmarked and see what I shared on Facebook and sit here in the quiet and think about whose work made me smile or think and who inspired me to set aside the computer games and write.

If you can read this, you can nominate too!

I know that often people don't have money to send to their favorite creators. We talk about signal boosts as a way to let creators know you appreciate their work--well, your nomination is kind of a super signal-boost. It tells people who've never heard of you that you think this creator is worthy of their attention.

When you're busking in cyberland, you don't know if anyone is listening. I can tell you, as a creator, I very much value every tip and comment I receive--it lets me know somebody is out there. And I've been very proud of the times I've been nominated for the Rose and Bay award. If you make a nomination, I know the people you nominate will feel the same way.

So, who do you think deserves more recognition than they're getting?

Snow Moon Card Draw

What with the blizzard in the news, and it being full moon tonight, it feels right to do another card draw. Come on in, have some tea or hot chocolate, and I'll draw a card for you. I hope you'll understand if you have to pour for yourself; I can only get so close to having you physically in my warm, friendly home. That does have some positive aspects--if you're allergic, the cats (always curious when magick is afoot) won't make you sneeze!

Today, for free one card readings, you can pick from the Brian Froud's Faeries Oracle, my combined Susan Seddon Boulet Animal Spirits and Goddesses cards, or the Shapeshifter Tarot. You can ask a question, ask for a Guide, for inspiration, or you can just ask for a card. You can also ask for a card or Guide for one of your characters or in some other way ask for advice or inspiration for a creative project.

The first card is free (though tips are always appreciated). Tips also let you ask me to use any of my other decks, to request a private reading, or to draw a clarifying card. If you want a longer reading, send a direct message so we can agree on the type of reading and rate.

I've written before about why I do readings and some of the decks I use here, feel free to hop over and check me out. I'll wait.

Please consider dropping something in the guitar case below. Readings take time and energy, and even though Milwaukee isn't enclosed in the blizzard, winter heat is pricey.

Signal boosts are very much appreciated, and earn you the right to ask for a clarifying card.

I understand all too well that sometimes people don't have cash or spoons, and it is generally during those times when people most need inspiration! Don't be afraid to ask for a card if you can't tip.

If you tip, it's helpful to me for you to mention it here so I can connect your paypal information with your request.

Tips should be at least $1 (Paypal charges fees). Alternatively, you can tip in Torn World/EMG credits. If neither of these work for you, drop me a message and we'll work something out.

I will reply to all requests. In the highly unlikely event that the number of requests nears my limits, I'll close this One Card Draw (by adding a clear note at the top of the post) rather than risk leaving anyone without a response.

Thank you, and Blessed Be!

As always, these readings are for entertainment and inspiration only. See my "Dandelyon's Readings" page if you have questions.

Heroism Is Not Gendered

It was at a fannish gathering--at my house, I think--that I first heard the term "Mary Sue". Some large person with a beard was using it to put down the work of a female writer. I protested. I didn't see anything wrong with the very competent female character he was taking exception to.

Oh no, he said, it's not because she's female, it's because the author has inserted an unrealistically idealized version of herself into the story. It's bad writing, he said. The character isn't interesting and is too perfect and that hurts the story.

Well, ok, I thought, reluctantly. It's kind of like a deus ex-machina critique, but about a character rather than the plot. But it didn't sit well that the critique was given a woman's name, instead of something descriptive of the alleged fault. Why make the critique inherently gendered? Oh, well, I thought, whatever. A name is just a name, and the definition isn't gendered at all.

But over and over, I've heard that particular critique aimed at a woman writer who created a competent woman character. The critic was nearly always male. And the critique was leveled at all very competent female characters, not just the ones with a demonstrable resemblance (beyond gender) to the writer. I have even heard that complaint when the writer wasn't female. The term came, more and more, to be just a generic complaint about very competent women being "unrealistic".

But wait--our genre has a long history of unusually competent protagonists. When the world is at risk and the odds are against you, you need a very competent protagonist. The stories we tell demand one. And we've loved many super-competent characters. No one ever, in my hearing, called Luke Skywalker a "Larry Stu". Or Valentine Michael Smith or Superman or Paul Atreides or Ender Wiggin or Gandalf or James Tiberius Kirk or Dr. Who. In fact, although I am aware of the alternate term to use when applying that critique to male characters, I can't remember ever hearing someone bring that complaint against a male character except in the context of having been asked why it's only women characters who are so labeled.

Now, I certainly have not been a party to all conversations about characters in speculative fiction! But I've been an active party to a lot of them and have overheard or read a lot of critiques of fiction as well. So I think it's safe to say that overwhelmingly the term "Mary Sue" is the term in active use, and that it is exclusively used to belittle and dismiss kick-ass female characters and the female writers who created them. (If the term truly applied to any character, why would someone coin a rhyming term to use when the character is not female?)

The more I think about it, the more I think this isn't due to a change in how the term is used. I believe the term arose out of the unconscious conviction that women are not exceptional. All of the big names in science and politics and engineering (and religion and literature and, well, everything) have been men, right? Certainly that's the impression my textbooks seemed designed to give. The rare woman mentioned was presented as the exception that proved the rule.

But I know better. A lot of women are exceptional. I find more and more of them when I look, both in history and in today's world. Periodically I share a story about one of them on Facebook. I could share a dozen a day and not run out of exceptional women to talk about, if I wanted to post that much. Many of them have had men take the credit for their work, crediting them only with the status of "assistant" and characterizing their work as merely "clerical" or "supportive". Other women were given credit at the time, but quietly and briefly, their presence glossed over as soon as practicable. Others, like Joan of Arc, were discredited or even punished for daring to surpass the roles approved for women. But one way or another, exceptional women have been--and are too often still being--consistently and systematically belittled and dismissed.

I look at all those male heroes in fiction and in history--men who are loved and admired and celebrated. Little boys are encouraged to take them as role models and to attempt to emulate them. Never mind that they are arguably aspiring to more than they will ever achieve, they are still encouraged to dream and to work hard and to excel. They and their heroes are not belittled and dismissed; instead they are praised.

The contrast is pretty obvious.

It's time for us to discard the term "Mary Sue". It carries with it a heavy baggage of sexism, regardless of what an individual critic means to convey by it. If there is a valid critique about authorial insertion or poor characterization, then let's use non-gendered terms for those things.

And above all, let's stop complaining every time a female character is exceptional in a genre which has always focused on heroes. Instead, let's embrace and celebrate all of our heroes, regardless of the gender of the author, the character, or the reader.

I'm doing a one-card draw for New Year's

It should cross-post, but in case it doesn't, here's a link: http://wyld-dandelyon.dreamwidth.org/247348.html

Happy New Year everybody!

More Random Art

I really enjoyed drawing that last dragon, so I went looking for another one to draw. For some reason, I couldn't resist this particular shiny dragon with glorious purple wings. Here, I have her juggling five pretty flames.



This one is for Speedemon.

Random Art

So, I picked a more-or-less random stranger over on Flight Rising and did a portrait of one of their dragons as a surprise holiday gift. Since FR posts don't make it easy to share art that's not posted somewhere, I'm posting it somewhere!



To PinkiePastel: Rynzin struck me as more of a lover than a fighter, and maybe a bit of a dancer. I hope you like the portrait!
The news, when I got up today, left me feeling pretty depressed about the human race, and about this country in particular. But I'm feeling better now.

You see, a friend of mine has a kid in grade school, and the school also has a small transgender child. To help the students understand that child's transition, the school planned to have a reading of I Am Jazz, a book by a transgender child, Jazz Jennings, and co-author Jessica Herthel. Then a Florida-based hate group threatened to sue the Wisconsin school district and the event was cancelled. So far, there's nothing in my story to speak of rekindled hope. But the local high school discussed the issue, and some of those students decided to hold a public reading of the book at their flagpole at 7:30 a.m. I heard that over two hundred people attended that reading, despite the dreadfully early hour and Wisconsin-in-December weather.

I wasn't there, of course. But in addition to that event, parents of students actually attending the school in question arranged for a public reading at the local library in the evening. My Angel and I decided to go. We really didn't know what to expect, but we've both dealt with protesters in the past and we figured if there was unpleasantness, a tall obviously transgender woman with practice dealing with that kind of stuff would be a better foil for protesters than small kids or the parents whose first job is to protect said kids.

We drove from Milwaukee to attend, a drive of about two hours, extended a bit by rush hour and by some traffic incidents. The library was totally packed by the time we arrived. The street leading up to the library was lined with cars parked bumper-to-bumper. A tall, gangly police woman gave us a startled look and then a smile as we walked in.

Jazz' co-author had flown in with only a single day's notice to do the reading herself, and both the reading and the brief talk afterward were well received. There was a community room for people to make "Jazz hands" and glue them to posters to voice their support for the child making the transition, and there were copies of the book to be given to anyone there who wanted to get a signed copy. There were cookies--though the organizers admitted they had underestimated how many people would attend. Based on the number of chairs and the additional number of people packed into the various areas around the seating, my friend guessed they had over 500 people in that little library.

There was not even a single protester inside or outside. There were no ugly chants, no one interrupted the presenters, everyone was polite, and there were a lot of smiles. There were people of all ages, and lots of little kids. There were smiles and people holding kids' homemade construction paper signs of support for the little transgender child in their community. And not a single person gave My Angel a judgmental look or word.

Not one.

Wow.

There's a lot in this world that needs to be changed. There's still a lot of prejudice and hatred. But we can make meaningful and substantive changes for the better. This evening was just a little bit of the proof of that.



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