Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Book Review: Teen Titans: A Kid's Game

What's it about?
The Teen Titans are back, the team reforming with the newest 'sidekicks' of the DC Universe, in the aims of giving them a place to be kids and learn to be themselves without the Justice League looking over their shoulders.  But this isn't the first group of Titans and the team's past comes back to haunt the new members, forcing them to stand up and fight as the team they hope to become.

I have always been a fan of the DC Universe of comics, with a special love for Batman and Robin.  I also love the cartoon show for Teen Titans, enjoying the origin stories of teenagers coming of age as heroes and the pitfalls that come with it.  While this comic has, essentially, a completely new set of heroes and takes place in the DC universe after that show, it still does a good job of hitting the same notes I loved.  These characters aren't perfect heroes and I love the tension that many of them might become something else.  The climax of the book seemed a bit rushed, but it would have been amazing as an animated show where the action wouldn't be limited to about three pages.  All that said, I couldn't put this down.  I do hope, with all the DC animated movies doing so well, that they delve into the world of the Teen Titans once or twice.  Seeing these characters in a grittier and longer animated movie would be awesome and very welcome.

Purchase on Amazon

(Disclaimer: This book was purchased at Half Price books with my own money, no money was received for this review.)

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Dear Fatty - Letters to My Younger Self

Wanted to let you guys know about a project we were involved in.  

"Dear Fatty - Letters to My Younger Self" is a small zine of letters by fabulous fat women written to themselves at a younger age, telling all the things they will become.  The idea is a message of empowerment, that your awesomeness is not defined by your weight and shape.  It was a lot of fun to be part of this project and Briana and I have letters in this zine. 

If you're interested, you can pick up your own copy at the link below. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Anime Fusion this Weekend!

We're at another convention this weekend!

If you're in Bloomington Minnesota, come stop by!

Here's a map to where you can find us in the Dealer's Room/Artist Alley

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Costumes, Cosplay and Some Holiday Issues

It's Halloween and everyone likes to dress up in costume at this time of year.  There's usually an amount of fun behind it, but there becomes a problem when people either don't think or use the wrong sense of humor when choosing their costume.  So while you'll usually find me flying the flag that everyone can cosplay, this time - for this article - I'm going to fly the same flag with a caveat: everyone can cosplay: but don't cosplay these things.

Why am I writing this article?  Because Halloween and October is a month of fun with dressing up, parties, and candy.  It should not be a month that specific people fear and despise because they're waiting for their culture, race, religion, and very identity to be slaughtered across social media by insensitive, unknowing, or just plain stupid people.  So I'm writing this in honesty because of my love of the month and costuming, and my utter sadness that my partner and friends have to deal with this crap year after year.

Do Not Cosplay These Things!

1. Blackface, yellowface, etc - the darkening of one's skin to portray a character of a different race.  

But wait - you say - this isn't offensive!  I'm just being the character, it's just makeup, I'm just being accurate.  Nope, that's not a good excuse.  See, the problem is the history of it.  Whether you think that you're doing something awesome or totally in character, you have to acknowledge that there is a history of non-black people coloring their skin to mock and insult those with darker skin.  This isn't something that happens just to those with black skin either, it's also been used against Native Americans, Chinese, Japanese, Middle Eastern, and any number of people who aren't white.  So seriously, just don't do it, because like it not you are cracking into all of the emotions from those times and that history and you will offend and mock many people.

But wait, you still say, what if the character isn't human? (Insert Steven Universe, Star Trek or any other character here).  That's great, but still not an excuse.  YOU are a human.  This means you are still touching on all that sensitivity and insulting past.  So really, just don't do it.  Colors such as purple, green, grey and those not usually found in human skin - sure, go for it.  However, if you think your Storm or Garnet costume can't possibly work without changing your skin color, then either change your mind or don't do it.  It doesn't matter how accurate or well intentioned you are, you can not escape the past with this act.  So just don't do it.  You really really don't need to. I'm sure you'll be recognized as Storm, Garnet, or whoever without changing your skin tone.  

2. Cultures - taking elements from a living or dead culture and wearing them as a costume.

This includes, - but is not limited to - Native American feathered headdresses, religious figures, geisha, sexualities, cliches, and stereotypes.  All of these things are likely integral parts of people's lives and beliefs and really aren't something to be mocked or played at.  Whatever the reason behind your costume, these cultural items and dress are usually paired with a deeper meaning you may not be aware of.  Some of these things must be earned through years of work while others are 'won' through years of hatred, killing, and suppression.  And some are horribly offensive because they are not true depictions and mock the history of a culture.  

Much like the argument with blackface, you are dealing with years upon years of history.  Several times costumes like this are made to mock and poke fun at cultures or are horribly incorrect in their portrayal.  By wearing a costume like this you are cheapening the culture it claims to portray and showing them as a joke.  Your very act of wearing the costume is negating the real life requirements behind items that are earned and fought for, reducing them to knockoffs that can be bought at party stores and tossed away the next day.  Don't be a part of this, because even if you are trying to wear the costume to show you love this thing, it will likely not be read that way and you will hurt and offend people.

But wait, you say, the outfit I'm wearing is from a dead culture, it couldn't possibly offend anyone who is now alive!  Are you sure?  Are you really, really sure?  Because the fact that the costume exists means that someone has taken the time to learn about and research the culture, which means people know about it.  There is a very large chance that there's still someone out there who practices and/or highly respects that culture.  So really, just don't.  If you're grasping at straws that much, you already know it's offensive and just looking for a reason to not feel guilty.  You won't find that here in this article and you won't find it from me.

3. Offensive Current Events - wearing costumes that relate to current events and also mock those events.

This, I would have thought, would have been common sense, but apparently it is not.  Dressing up as current events, especially those wherein at least one person was treated unfairly, hurt, killed, or any number of things just shouldn't be done.  Seriously, don't dress as a tropical storm that killed dozens of people; don't dress as the young man in the hoodie who was shot; don't dress as the transexual lady who just came out to her family, and don't dress as the boy who had his clock confiscated because school officials thought it was a bomb.  This reaches out to any number of things and I could spend all day listing them.

The point is that all of these events were things that affected people's lives and are tied to memories and, often, deep emotions.  Sure, something might have happened in another state or country far from you, but you have no idea who is related to who and who has family or friends in that area.  You may think it's funny, but you're mocking the pain of others by wearing it as a costume.  Because to those people it isn't funny - it's a sad part of life and often is a cause of death.  So really, just don't.  Your joke shouldn't use their pain as a jumping platform.

4. Insulting - meant to be insulting to specific persons, cultures, etc.  

Look, let's be simple and honest.  I've heard it said that jokes aren't funny unless they offend someone, but I'm going to challenge that.  You can be funny and have fun without being offensive, you can be amusing without harassment.  It just takes a little more thought and creativity.  So really, if you wear an insulting costume, it really just comes off as lazy and uncreative.  And yes, I am judging you for this action.

Coming to the center of it, Halloween and wearing costumes is about having fun.  It's about enjoying yourself and being someone/something else for that small amount of time.  But your fun and escapism should never come at the cost of someone else.  Just because companies make the costumes and sell them isn't an excuse for poor taste on your part.  Go ahead and have fun dressing up.  Fun doesn't have to be insulting.  Instead fun can be fun for everyone, it just takes a little more effort.

So really, what I'm saying, is be the person who puts in that extra effort.  Don't insult, don't harass, and don't belittle.  Put on a costume that you can truly shine in and let those around you shine as well.  There's so many options out there for costumes during this holiday season and all year round.  You don't need to hurt people with your choices, because there's so many others out there that everyone can enjoy.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

WD Oct 2015 Challenge: Start a Writing Blog and Claim Your Domain

Start a Writing Blog
For today’s platform-building task, start a writing blog. You can use Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr, or another platform if you wish. To complete today’s task, do the following:
  • Create a blog. That is, sign up (if you don’t already have a blog), pick a design (these can usually be altered later if needed), and complete your profile.
  • Write a post for today. If you’re not sure what to cover, you can just introduce yourself and share a brief explanation of how your blog got started. Don’t make it too complicated.
  • Share your blog URL in the comments below. I’ll go through and create a list of blog URLs, so that we can easily find, follow, and friend each other in the blogosphere. It’ll be great!
  • Read more about this entry here at Writer's Digest

Claim Your Domain

For today’s platform-building task, claim your domain name. I’ve never made this a task in the past, because it costs money to register a domain name. Rather, I’ve strongly encouraged doing it. However, I think it’s so important to have a stable piece of online real estate–and the price is really so minimal–that it has to be a requirement for a writer platform.
Why is it so important? Let me share the story of my former boss and current friend Jane Friedman. You see, there are two Jane Friedmans in the publishing world (probably more), but my Jane Friedman is the one who claimed all of the sites with that name.  

As you can see, I combined two of the exercises into one day.  Why?  Well, because if you are here at this page, you know I already have a writing blog.  So it seemed really odd to me to make a blog post that says "Hey!  I have a blog."  
As for the second one, when I became an author, I quickly discovered that not only was my first name hella popular across the internet (part of the reason I call myself Snow in most fandoms is because there's so many Jessicas out there) but my last name is also popular!  Googling myself I am apparently a lawyer, a popular high school sports star, a design coordinator, an author and someone who made a crap ton of money off Neopets.  None of those were me,but they're all named Jessica Walsh.  So I may have to struggle now with differentiating myself from the other Jessica's out there, but I've already published books and changing the name on the covers is a bit hard.  So I'm still working on that. 
In the meantime, my website is actually under our company name: Sewn Together Reflections and a good portion of my social media is under the name most fans would know me as, be it Snow, Jessica or Destiny.  So I'm juggling a couple, but then I've never really been simple ^___^

Friday, October 2, 2015

WD Oct 2015 Challenge: Set Your Writing Goals

Set Your Writing Goals
For today’s platform-building task, set your writing goals. There are some people who believe in just charging blindly forward, but I believe in taking a moment to consider goals. And here’s why: It’s hard to know if you’re finding success if you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve. Or put another way: If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you’re there?
So put together a couple lists:
  • One list should be short-term goals. These are goals you can accomplish within the next year. It’s okay to get ambitious, but try to keep them semi-reasonable. For instance, if you’re an unpublished writer, winning the Nobel Prize in Literature is probably not a reasonable short-term goal. But maybe getting published in a literary journal is.
  • The other list should be long-term goals. Feel free to knock yourself out with ambitious goals here. Dream a little. But also include reasonable goals that you might accomplish eventually. As an example, I once set a goal of getting a full-length collection of poetry published, and it happened 18 months later!

Short Term Goals:
* Finish editing Hunters 2: Beneath the Chapter
* Submit a new story to Dreamspinner Press
* Participate in NaNoWriMo 2015
* Set up a Patreon
* Read more books

Long Term Goals:
* Learn more about marketing books
* Figure out how to sell ebooks at conventions
* Finish Hunters series
* Finish and Publish Horsewomen/Bringers/Aspects series
* Get into a habit of writing and publishing novellas every couple months
* Submit to more calls from Dreamspinner and other publishers
* Read and review more books

Current Story Work List:
This isn't included in the note above, but it's something I do to keep track of what I'm working on, since I tend to work on several stories at once, following the whims of my muses.  So a lot of these stories may not see the light of day for a long time, but writing this down reminds me that those ideas are patiently waiting their turn to be written. 

* ReWrite Horsewomen/Aspects
* Finish Feelings
* Edit Spiked and Feathered
* Write Shadow Play
* Write Blushing Apples 2
* Finish Devious Pies
* ReWrite Songbird
* Finish Little Creepers
* Write Hunters 3
* Write Light It Up
* Write STS comic idea
* Write Child's Dreams

Thursday, October 1, 2015

WD Oct 2015 Challenge: Define Yourself as a Writer

For the heck of it this month, I'm going to participate in the Writer's Digest 2015 October Platform Challenge (click on the link to read what it's about). 

So here's Day 1:

Define Yourself as a Writer

For the first day of this challenge, I want everyone to take a step back and define yourself as a writer. Don’t worry about where you want to be. Instead, focus on who you are, what you’ve done, what you’re currently doing, etc.
Name: Jessica Walsh 
Positions: Freelance author; currently published with Dreamspinner Press, Heatstroke Press and independently.  Previously published in Apex Magazine.  
Skills: Creative writing, editing, book promotion, blogging, idea generation, public speaking and teaching.
Accomplishments: Guest Author/Creator at No Brand Con 2015, Anime Iowa 2015, Gaylaxicon 2016, Anime Detour 2016.  Steal the Spotlight Winner: Apex Magazine #66
Interests: Writing (all genres), costuming/Cosplay, Anime, GLBT and representation issues, cats and fashion.
In one sentence who am I?  Jessica Walsh is a creative artist, channeling her muses in all mediums to reflect the variety in this world through her writing and art.