Thursday, March 10, 2016

Imaginary Friends in Paperback and Defiant in the Lammys

Those of you who have been reading Imaginary Friends as a blog serial might be starting to wonder why it is that the book has mostly disappeared today (3/10). This has always been part of the plan, and the reason is simple: My publisher owns the rights now. If you want to read the complete and fully polished Imaginary Friends, you'll have to order a copy, either here or through another major retailer.

In the meantime, there are some sample chapters that are staying up so that people can preview the book. If you'd like to read them as you decide whether or not to grab a copy, they are listed below:

This might seem like a lot of samples, but keep in mind that the book is over 50 chapters and 100,000 words in its final cut. Also, keep in mind that I like Marvel movies a lot, so there's bound to be something special at the end, just like there was at the end of my last novel, Defiant.

Speaking of Defiant, it is now a finalist in the Lambda Literary Awards, and I couldn't be happier about that. It's also on sale at AutPress until 3/17, after which it will still be a great deal, just not a discounted one.

Thank you for all your support.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

You've got to be better

This is a letter to when I was ten.

You've got to be better. You've got to.
You've got to be better than flipping on another sitcom from Chuck Lorre.
You've got to be better than getting lost inside the poetic mind of this generation's hottest MC.
You've got to be more interesting than anything happening inside style pages,
You've got to do better than Goop. You've got to be relevant,
You've got to avoid doing the unselfconsciously horrible stunts from ignorance.
You've got to know what it looks like when you are about to do those things.
You've got to know what it looks like when you are inside other viewpoints.
You've got to challenge yourself. You've got to be better you've got to.
If someone else was going to do it, it would have already happened.

You've got to understand your environment.
You've got to know what other people want, and you've got to give some of it to them.
You've got to show them what they get when they believe you are relevant.
You've got to understand that they aren't going to be interested in anything blaming them.
You've got to show what you mean by responsibility.
You've got to perceive that words mean different things depending on who's speaking.
You've got to be helpless, then you've got to decide that isn't happening again, but
You've got to understand that you don't control everything.
You've got to compete against everything, while participating in it.
If you want to be relevant, that is. You can't afford to be apart from your culture and claim relevance.

You've got to seek connections, and you've got to let yourself hurt when you make them.
You've got to see the way people are speaking about each other, and hear the real things.
You've got to understand what it means when people speak their dark fantasies.
You've got to understand why rhetorical flourishes flourish, and what powers them.
You've got to speak even if it's through fingertips. You've got to teach them.
You've got to compete against your own influences, to teach better than they did.
You've got to give up on being perfect because you were shaped by them.
You've got to be better than infinite regression and the grand return.
You've got to stop tolerating the same behavior you found intolerable as a kid.
This time you have to face the fact that you're the one who is doing it. No blame shifting.

You've got to be the reason people come together. You can't afford not to.
You've got to know what the responsibility for this means.
You've got to understand being mean, to avert it and to see when it is not the same as being angry.
You've got to master being angry if you want to be better, or even to accomplish anything.
You've got to master being angry, and reading it again will ensure you think about every meaning.
You've got to be better than to think authors write for single interpretations. Think in systems.
You've got to offer the audience a thing worth interacting with, and you have to present artifice.
You've got to contract for art and deliver, it's a role, you can't take over from a sub position.
You've got to empty the vessel of the self. You've got to be a reflection.
When you know the mirror project's essence you'll root the system for multitasking.

You've got to be willing to do the things to write them. You've got to accept this is terrifying.
You've got to wipe the tears from your eyes and assume the position.
You've got to admit you knew it would happen when you contracted for this.
You've got to be better. You've got to prove relevance. You've got to understand the secret.
You've got to prove that radical demonstrations of extreme competence are the most defiant thing.
You've got to be brighter than the best CCFL 4K HD LED tech upgrades.
You've got to bump louder than the best speakers. You've got to compete with all of them.
You've got to design artifacts for your artifice that reflect and interact with everything you've been.
You've got to embrace that language is a technology, and see it interacting with those other things.
No one can teach you to navigate wonders that no one has ever seen.

You've got to be better. You don't have a choice. You've got to.
You've got to reign in the excesses of the people you were born knowing were irrelevant.
You've got to take control from them without breaking the sub position.
You've got to understand power without wanting it to do any of these things.
You've got to understand that's impossible without being hurt so badly you can't handle touching.
You've got to come to terms with already being all these things. When they sing together listen.
You've got to be the lead and the chorus. You have to feel pride and degradation in both positions.
You've got to remember to maintain the integrity of each sub system.
You've got to give people something tantalizing but still puzzling to keep them interested.
It's exhibitionistic as hell to challenge them. You might lose out by doing it.

That's why you've got to be better. You've got to deliver.
You've got to find the discipline to take patterns seriously.
You've got to feel when there's better effect in letting a pattern sit there unraveling.

- Athena the Architect

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Something Wicked This Way Comes (#TDoR2015 / #Autistics Speaking Day)

UPDATE: This poem is now in The Spoon Knife Anthology, edited by yours truly and Barking Sycamores editor-in-chief N.I. Nicholson. Get it here.

Editor's Note: This poem by Puzzlebox Collective member Athena the Architect brings together the intentions of Autistics Speaking Day and the Transgender Day of Remembrance to make a statement about our commitment and mission moving forward. You will see more work from her in Autonomous Press's NeuroQueer Horizons, a chapbook series starting in late 2016.

My fourth year participating I have to come on strong,
so let’s start with the shit at least half of you will read wrong:
I’ve been working too diligently at speaking clearly
to hear you tell me which day is set aside for me speaking,
so fuck the first to the nineteenth.
I decided to speak when it’s time to count bodies.
It’s always been my role, the place I’m put is underneath,
either supporting or working to earn a basic recognition of my humanity.
I’m not doing chores no more,
and I’m done front faking an expected presence
when I would rather run screaming from being alone with you,
but that’s not expected decorum in a men’s locker room.

I learn to be a blur, finding space for myself in deception.
Clinical observers have always called our pace of learning manipulative,
and it’s a term they use for resistance, too, and when pain is expressed,
but apparently it’s not manipulative to tell a child
that the reason you hit her in the face after school
was because you lost your medication
and your diagnosis says “depressed.”
Luckily I have a brother who stands between me and the others,
a swift quickness, work horse harnessed and capable
of pulling my workload when the others aren’t observing,
and over time he becomes faster, until they can’t observe him.
He’s a blur of motion that they find unnerving,
and he uses it to keep me from being alone with anyone
who looks past my body, sees me, and decides I’m for them to play with.
My quicksilver bullet, my headmate,
my prolific novelist-cum-suicide Herman Hesse acolyte,
he’s eventually going to catch his end,
but until then, he’s the one who protects us when artillery shells hit.

I’m finally finding my body in the year my siblings mostly expect to be bodied,
transitioning at the life expectancy for those of us who come out in their teens,
and I see the faces around me when I go out presenting publicly,
wearing makeup without hormonal support, my face like
“Fuck you! Quit staring, I got shit to do and I’m walking!”
And that’s only possible because of what he did for me,
but one of us has to go this year, and he already put himself
between the shooter and another fighter in the family,
so I have to remember him, along with the sisters who had more courage than I did,
who came out when we were little, then got statisticked and became
part of the reason I can’t stay hidden. I’m sorry, kids.
I wish I’d been strong enough to fight when it would have made a difference,
but the moment of merit hadn’t happened,
and I was too busy protecting myself from the next blow to know
that there were people ready to help stop the next hit from landing.

I’m writing thirty novels to help him go, because people need to know
the process by which we became possible, so they can benefit
if the moment of merit is something they also need to accomplish.
I was professionalized by people who taught me to look deeply
into the way I supported other writers in my community,
but the support they seemed to need was nothing that fed them,
so there were always congratulatory dinners if they could be afforded,
long tales to regale the host, singing for supper until an invitation for a workshop could be extended.
The result was that their support for emerging artists lacked a certain focus to the tutelage,
because the business they were engaged with was old enough to be, by default, simple.
While they were wondering how it was that they worked at nothing but novels
and watched years pass between them,
I skipped the bistros where they lamented and spent nights going toe to toe onstage,
putting performance poetry out through clenched teeth,
trying to find a way in modern vocabulary
to lament the relationship between mathematics and medicine,
sharing sensory impressions of medallion necklaces
like a motherfucking golden chariot of the sun,
shooting arrows of flow like fire into everyone,
and defending my title from someone with big lungs and ninth grade educational formalities,
but a vocabulary with more grace than ten holy men
and a sense of rhythm that glossed over syntactical departures
with a scaffolding that bridged the audience’s differences in idiom.
And if I wanted to get half of what was in that hat for groceries,
I had to be on top of him with a ferocity that masked the fact that he would practice with me.
Every poet in the pack was a brother, but only one of us got to eat.
You’re surprised at how I work? This is how I had to be.
It made me. Fuck you if you think a novel in eight years is an accomplishment,
I had to do a fresh three minutes of perfection once a week to keep my car filled up with gasoline.

So getting the spit out in time is what he did for me,
moving quickly, Quicksilver slipping past teeth,
flow lightly like lightning moves until he’d punch you,
but in the end that was not for me.

You see, the truth is
his presentation isn’t the rhythm
of our movements,
so when he does his thing
it disrupts our control,
eventually collapsing
the somatic unity,
meaning he will work
until he’s melting me.

You see, he’s fast,
but she’s weird, and
though it looks like his anatomy,
he’s really just her beard.
Now that he’s departing,
I am finding transition completes me,
and that means I’m no longer standing
hidden, whispering over your shoulder
and teleporting away before you see me.
Instead I’m standing strong,
whipping your ass telekinetically
and spraying cover fire from fingertips
like a social-justice-positive Palpatine.
Don’t fuck with a Sith Slytherin witch bitch
who’s had a recent loss in the family,
because I will cut you with something
that isn’t even physical,
and you will realize alignment change
happened right before your eyes
and now the villain has a mission
and she’s out avenging.

I got lit up like this when I was without him
and a genderfae Katniss Everdeen
took cover from enemy fire where I was hiding,
and then that warrior said to me the things
I needed to hear to understand what I was meant to sing.
They said

“I’m using a fucking bow,
The city is flying,
None of this makes sense.

Parents try to kill me when I say please,
And contracts don’t matter,
Even when I have all the signatures,
Because I can’t speak for my experience
if I’m talking.

This is actually what they say.
So don’t try to make sense,
and if you are too wounded to come with,
that’s fine,
there’s no judgment,
but I have to go back out there and draw fire,
and I have to trust the others
to tell me where the snipers are
when I put arrows back into their armaments,
so I can’t stay here and coddle you through this.

If you lock the door, your brother will be sent,
or else someone from a rescue team,
but if you follow me, I’m not here to save you,
and you will be expected to be avenging.”

That was all it took to make me see,
I couldn’t leave K to do this knowing the Mockingjay
was just intentionally providing bait
with no cover fire, and no way
to recover ammunition, so,
knowing the enemy could now see me because
my brother wasn’t a distraction,
I sprang into action.
I didn’t go through that door,
I blew it into shrapnel shards to create environmental hazards
and then we went to war.
Now, when they see me I subvert their gaze
with my witchy ways,
turning their intentions in their heads
and making my fingertips provide the pyre
to burn their targeting sensors before they fire.

So now, it’s your moment,
as we prepare to say the names of the dead,
this makes no sense,
and I don’t expect you to magically have the strength,
but if you follow me, don’t expect rescuing,
I am out for avenging,
And what I need are recruits, not complications,
so I understand if you stay hidden.

For the rest of you,
it’s time we went to the Gaslight Village
to learn what we need to win this,
another site on my trail of origins.
Fuck a wack, narcissistic cyborg with religious visions,
this isn’t the age of Ultron,
it’s the age of the Heirophantess,
and this isn’t the fulfillment of an incredible wish,
it’s the coming of the Scarlet Witch.

Here’s this year’s dead list:

Papi Edwards, Lamia Beard,
Ty Underwood, Tasha DeJesus,
Yazmin Vash Payne,
Penny Proud & Bri Golec.
Don’t get up from your seat yet.

Kristina Reinwald, Sumaya Dalmar,
Keyshia Blige, Mya Hall,
I’m not even getting very far,
Vanessa Santillan, and
London Chanel,
Mercedes Williamson,
Jasmine Collins,
And I’m not sure I even know all of them,
Ashton O’Hara, India Clarke,
K.C. Haggard, Shade Shuler,
Amber Monroe and Elisha Walker.

Kandis Capri ended on August 11 in Phoenix,
And when the list is ended,
Remember that the year isn’t over yet.
Tamara Dominguez, Fernanda Olmos,
Sometimes called Coty,
Kiesha Jenkins, Zella Ziona,
And there are just a few more:
Marcela Estefania Chocobar,
Amancay Diana Sacayán,
And Yoshi Tsuchida brings us to
What I hope is the end.

I don’t blame you if you stay in here for your safety,
but if you come out, know what it means to follow me.
Now, I have to go,
I hear avengers assembling.

Athena the Architect,