The Extrahuman Union

Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

I promised myself that this year, in November, I’d take a break from fiction. I had all kinds of excuses. I wrote two rough draft manuscripts this year, I assured myself, and even though I hadn’t done much of anything with them since that was clearly Good Enough. I’d also gone through two actual book releases, one in January and another in August, and I’d just finished the revisions on another book due out sometime next year. Seriously, I thought, these were excellent excuses.

Lastly, and this may be the most legitimate reason of all, when elections roll around life as a political columnist gets really hectic. Elections tend to burn me out, so I figured this year I was going to play it totally safe. While everyone else was busy with their NaNovels, posting word counts and cursing their characters, I was going to be slaying digital monsters and sipping tea. Ah yes.

Have I mentioned that I’ve gotten into tea in a big way? Ask me about my tea infuser and giant tins of loose leaf tea. Ask me about the tea leaves scattered all over the kitchen counter. Go ahead. You have time to kill.

So that was it, National Novel Avoidance Month had come to Susanland, and I was living large. I spent my after-work time covered in a layer of cats. I finished up all my political writing and started reading Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, which is a blast so far.

But then I kept having ideas. Conversations started playing out in my head. I started thinking about characters doing things. And, of course, everyone out there is writing stuff this month. It’s infectious.

Therefore, naturally, over the weekend I found myself arm-deep in a manuscript, starting the laborious process of revision. Argh! So much for vacation. All those monsters are just sitting there on my computer, waiting to be slain, and I’m figuring out how many members the Women’s Council in Müller-Darvan has. Bah!

*glowers at world*

Okay, so here’s what’s going on now!

  • I didn’t put up a post about it at the time, but THE COLLECTION from Topside Press came out in October! All new stories from the “transgender vanguard,” which sounds like a cool band name or maybe a football formation, and I’ve got a story in it. Check it out. So many good writers in there! The anthology’s been getting some rave reviews. My story, “Ramona’s Demons,” is mentioned in a few of them. One of them said, “This one had me laughing out loud and smiling and getting angry.” Excellent.
  • I finished up the latest round of revisions for THE DAUGHTER STAR, which will be out sometime next year.
  • Right now I’m working on revising the rough draft of THE SEEKER STAR, which is the follow-up to THE DAUGHTER STAR. Yes, this is the book that ruined my vacation.
  • I’m also making notes and writing a few scenes for the fourth Extrahumans book. I have no timetable for this one yet, folks, so bear with me.
  • I did a lot of political writing this election season, including this piece about quiet inside the voting booth, and this one about climate change. You can find my column over at ctnewsjunkie.com every week.

That’s it for now. I’m hoping to be able to make an announcement or two soon-ish, as there’s more cool stuff coming down the pike. Until next time!

Some people, when they post to their dormant-ish blog after a lengthy time of not posting, get apologetic and make all kinds of excuses. Not here. I’m just going to pretend it never happened and continue on as normal!

So.

What’s been happening? Well, next week (Nov. 22) BROKEN officially launches in print. Ha ha, I know! You bought your copy from Amazon like six weeks ago! This hasn’t been a release date that’s been paid a lot of heed. Oh well. Anyway, we had a launch party for the book at Modern Myths in Northampton on November 5th, and it was a blast! Candlemark & Gleam have the roundup, which includes a few pics. I did a reading from the book, which was amazing. I’ve never done anything quite like this before.

Lucky for me, in about two months we get to do it all again. 2011 has been the Year of Constantly Rolling Out BROKEN, because we did the initial launch in e-book format only back in January, then launched the print version this fall. For the next book in the Extrahumans series, FLY INTO FIRE, we’re launching everything at once–and it’s all happening in late January! I think we may even be having another party.

In other news, I’m hard at work on new projects! Here’s where things stand:

FLY INTO FIRE (EXTRAHUMANS #2): Done, ARCs are shipping out from publisher, launch set for January! I’m sure we’ll be doing pre-orders soon! Want to win a copy? There’s a contest up at Goodreads!

THE SPARK (EXTRAHUMANS #3): I’ve sent this into my editor, and am waiting to hear about it. If all goes well, we may end up releasing this one sometime in late 2012. Stay tuned!

THE DAUGHTER STAR (MARTA GRAYLINE #1): Also sent in to editor. But that’s all I know about it! I’m hoping this one sees the light of day, I think it’s a cool book with lots that readers will like.

THE DEMON GIRL’S SONG: Somehow this title has stuck. I’m at 40,000 words on my first draft of the adventures of Andín dal Rovi and Lynde Shevariat, and I’m shooting to finish the draft by the end of the year. We’ll see.

[NO TITLE YET] EXTRAHUMANS #4: I’ve made a start on this and have some very fun ideas. Haven’t cracked 10,000 words, so I’m still considering it to be in the very early stages.

RED DAUGHTER (MARTA GRAYLINE #2): Planning is sort of done, and about 5,000 words and some opening scenes written.

POLITICAL WRITING: Lots and lots and lots. Here’s the latest run of columns at CT News Junkie.

Also, a short story! Really! Frog F**kery, a Stacy and Jazz Story, is up at 30pov. Sad to say, 30pov has gone on hiatus for a while, and I don’t know if they’re coming back. I’m working on other Stacy and Jazz stories, though, so never you fear! One of them involves some really rotten, mean and insulting eggs.

That’s it for now. Check back in December, I’ll be doing guest posts in at least two places, so I’ll be sure to link to those!

OKAY, PANIC.

The meltdown following rejection of the labor deal has been bad; very bad. The whole thing is a tragedy, and the layoffs make it worse. Cities and towns are going to get whacked. Our bond rating just got lowered, too, so now everything’s in doubt. Many Democrats seem to be edging closer to open revolt, and even people like me who like and respect Gov. Malloy are wondering what, exactly, he thinks he’s doing.

The special session is going to be rough sailing, and I have no clue what’s going to come of it.

There’s no way to take back what happened, but maybe we can learn something from all of this chaos. Maybe we can learn how to do this better next time.

This op-ed I wrote for CT News Junkie is getting a fair amount of attention and generation decent discussion, both of which are satisfying things. I don’t have a lot more to say on the nuts-and-bolts, what-comes-next piece of this, that’s all in the article. But there’s a lot more to say about this piece:

The other thing to consider here is the continuing decline of the American middle class, the continuing stranglehold of the wealthy on the nation’s politics, and the utter failure of economic policy in the nation’s capital, all of which contributes to the siege mentality on display here. The historic and political context is not an excuse, but it is part of an explanation.

I’m mad at the unions who voted no. I’m even mad at organized labor in general; I think they’ve failed more often than they’ve succeeded over the last thirty years. I’m not sure if I have any clear idea of what they’re for.

But, that said, I tried to fix this particular event into a long, long chain of many events. Something one commenter either at CTNJ or somewhere else said stayed with me; it boiled down to: “We’re tired of being pushed around.”

Pushed around? The unions? Well, sure. Unions, especially public employee ones, have been shoved around by big business, both political parties, national pundits, business organizations, taxpayer groups, parent associations, voters and everyone else who wanted a scapegoat for the fiscal woes of their town, city, state or country. This has been going on for decades. If you look at Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, a man famous for his sneering tirades against public workers, you’ll get a flavor of the kind of bullying the public sector gets routinely from everyone.

But the ‘we’ here isn’t just unions, is it? The story of the last thirty years is a story of people being pushed around. I could talk about Ronald Reagan’s scapegoating of “welfare queens” and his gentle-but-brutal dismissal of liberals, or the incredible pressure to toe the conservative, “patriotic” line liberals and moderates came under during the Iraq War years. I could talk about the tea party and its bizarre attacks on President Obama, or I could talk about the Clinton Derangement Syndrome of the 1990s. I could mention the utter lie that tax cuts for the wealthy means prosperity for the rest of us (if it’s true, where are the jobs and prosperity?), or the belief that protecting business is far more important than protecting people. I could bring up about Scott Walker, sure, but he’s just the culmination of a decades-long war against labor unions which has in part led to the erosion of the middle class in this country.

There’s so much more, too. It’s personal, it’s emotional. It’s my mortgage is overwhelming, I’m drowning in debt, I have kids and a car and a house and everything costs more, the roads are awful, schools are failing, we’re stuck at war in three countries, the economy is lousy, our country is broken, my health care already sucks and now they want MORE? Are you KIDDING?

We’re tired of being pushed around.

I’m disappointed in the union members’ decision to reject the cuts. It’s shortsighted, and will lead to a weakening of both union and progressive positions (these have become different things). I think some people voted no for purely selfish or foolish reasons, but I think others voted no because, well, they were tired of being pushed around by everyone.

Why, they asked, couldn’t we tax the people who could afford it instead?

Good question. The answer had something to do with the economy, but if you believe that taxing the wealthy a bit more is worse for the economy than laying off 7,500 members of the middle class, then there is something wrong with your head.

And yet, in today’s political climate, it wasn’t possible. The Connecticut legislature wouldn’t do it, the governor pushed taxes as far as he dared. What happened with this vote is that the way the country does function and the way it should function crashed into one another.

Hence, the “no” vote, born out of frustration. It’s the same as when I see when I see liberals criticizing Obama for what are, in fact, practical positions aimed at keeping Democrats in power long enough to see more liberal polices enacted. Liberals have been waiting, and they have been bullied, and they have poured all their hopes and dreams and energy and money into campaigns and people who don’t deliver fast enough, if at all. They want action, they want to be heard. And so you get Dan Choi ripping up posters and (some) liberals at Netroots Nation turning their backs on the Obama ’12 campaign.

They don’t want to be pushed around anymore. By anyone.

Are these sorts of positions useful? Not in the least. They’re shortsighted and ultimately self-defeating. What good does opposing Obama do if all it gets liberals is President Romney or, God forbid, President Bachmann? What good does voting “no” to union concessions do if all it gets you is a pink slip?

So yes, this kind of thing is incredibly stupid. But I get why it happens. It happens because of everything else that’s happened for thirty long years, and because there’s only so much people can take.

Consider it a warning of things to come.

So much new stuff to check out:

Tastes Like Chicken. Sort Of

Do you like Chicken McNuggets? No? Well, check out my 30pov piece Chicken McLife anyway, as I examine my life through McNuggets:

I had a routine. I’d walk into town, a couple of miles from the college, and swing by the comic book store. I’d buy whatever was new. It might have been Battle Angel Alita, The Maxx, Strangers in Paradise or just the latest Batman, but I always picked up two or three issues. Then I’d hike over to the McDonald’s on Colman St., on the edge of the city, and sit for a while reading comic books and eating McNuggets.

For a while, all the chaos in my head stilled, and the world was nothing but a plastic seat, Batman, and some greasy food.

Politics!

I went to a Tea Party rally for no good reason, except to take pictures and write a report. Yes, the signs were amusing. Yes, they had foam pitchforks. The report is here: Tax Day Rally Fizzles.

It has to be a frustrating time for the Tea Party. In Washington, House Republicans are compromising with the hated Obama on the budget and may yet allow the debt limit to be raised. Here in Connecticut, Democrats likely have the votes to pass big tax increases as part of an effort to close the budget gap. The big wins of last year are already fading from memory, and no one seems all that excited about 2012. Unlike 2009 and 2010, there is no one single bill to rally against, no one unifying task.

Two other articles: The Myth of the Easy Answer, which has a lot of my political philosophy in it, and Budget Deal Winners and Losers, which has, um, those.

Etc.

I did a guest post at Reading With Tequila, about superheroes! It wasn’t part of the recent blog tour, so I’m linking to it from here.

In a lot of ways, superhero stories are about those who are different or special in one way or another. Here are people who either have inborn or contracted special abilities or powers, or who are in some other way extraordinary.

And that’s it for now! There’s some big big news to talk about soon, too!

The BROKEN Blog Tour is ongoing! You can click the above image for more information on what’s happening. So far this week, I’ve done an interview over at The Fiction Enthusiast, with a review coming tomorrow at Rex Robot Reviews.

Wednesday and Thursday are reviews at The Neverending Bookshelf and Novapsych, and the week ends back at The Fiction Enthusiast for a fun top ten list.

And that’s that!

In Other News

I’ve got a post up about the transgender anti-discrimination bill being considered in Connecticut at CT News Junkie. I don’t usually mix trans stuff and state politics, but in this case, I felt I had a lot I wanted to say.

Also: Shiny things have arrived at my publisher. Oh yes.

Before I began my current existence in this world of writers, reviewers and readers, I had no idea what a blog tour was. This came as something of a surprise to me, considering I’d been a political blogger for five years beforehand! However, I’ve learned that this is a way for writers to connect with new audiences by popping up on various book blogs for either a review, or a guest post/interview.

It’s actually been a lot of fun to pull diverse material together for the tour I’ve just begun. I’ll keep you posted about what’s going on with it as it progresses, but so far the tour has gone to two blogs this week:

Hobbitsies – I wrote a little biographical sketch for this site.

Bibliophile Brouhaha – There is a lovely, thorough review of the book up here today.

Planned stops for the rest of this week:

Wednesday: Alisia Leavitt
Thursday: Girls in the Stacks
Friday: Lost for Words

It was a ton of work to get everything put together for this tour, but I had a blast doing it, and I hope you all enjoy the stuff I came up with!

Other updates

Do YOU like early voting? Well, I do, and you can read about it at CT News Junkie. My favorite negative comment on the article asks, “Do you actually think before you make statements like this?” The answer, unsurprisingly, is no. I just make it up as I go along!

Sorry I haven’t posted here in a bit, I’ve been busy with all kinds of other work! A few updates:

  • I have a new piece up at 30Pov, “Sinners in the Hands of a Forgetful God.” The topic for the month is Saints and Sinners, so my mind gravitated for some reason to Jonathan Edwards’s famous “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” sermon, which was delivered in the town where I live some 270 years ago. I once had to teach this miserable thing as part of a literature course for high school kids when I was a student teacher. They loved it just about as much as you’d expect. Also: this piece is NOT about gender. I swear! I SWEAR IT TO YOU.
  • New at CT News Junkie is this cool piece with a map in it, all about using census data to make more sensible congressional districts. There is no way in hell my plan will happen, but hey.
  • Lastly, The Book Smugglers are reviewing BROKEN this Friday, so check that out. Update The review’s up! Here it is

There’s also all kinds of good stuff I’m working on, including new book(s), a short story in the BROKEN universe that will hopefully see release at some point, and an extended blog tour happening next month. I’m busy! It’s great.

The Connecticut General Assembly’s Judiciary Committee is holding hearings about the death penalty again today. I’ve said a lot about this in the past, and I think a lot of the arguments are so well-worn by this point that the testimony could really be a series of references to testimonies past: “I’d like to take a moment if I may to replay for you a montage I’ve made of the remarks I’ve given on this subject over the past ten years. It’s twenty minutes long. Can we get the lights?”

There’s a central question everyone’s trying to get at with death penalty debates, though I don’t think we ever quite get there. It seems to me like we’re all trying to figure out just who justice is for, and what it’s about. Is it for the victims or their families? The accused? Are we about revenge? Rehabilitation? Bettering society in some way? Keeping society safe? The death penalty debate crystalizes these issues in a way that few other policy discussions do. It holds a mirror up to our society, and forces us to very closely examine one of its foundations.

I personally believe that there’s little to be gained and much to lose when when the state takes a life, but many people believe that death is the ultimate justice for victims and their families. I respect that point of view, because both come from that place in the human soul that demands justice when someone is wronged.

There are a lot of pieces of our justice system which could do with a good, long and very public examination. Our casual acceptance of abuse in prisons, for one. What happens to ex-offenders when they leave the system is another. The death penalty is not a bad place to start, though, because the answers we find here could become a lens through which to see these other, larger and more entrenched problems.

I’ll have more to say about this on the weekend, I think, but this poll just out from the conservative Yankee Institute, if it’s accurate, shows us a lot about the “Can’t someone else do it?” mentality of the public when it comes to how to fix budget shortfalls. Here’s the major results, from the press release:

By 73-15%, voters oppose eliminating the $500 property tax credit (least popular)

By 68-21%, voters oppose creating a state earned income tax credit

By 67-31%, voters oppose increasing the gas tax

By 60-34%, voters oppose eliminating sales tax exemptions

By 54-38%, voters oppose increasing the income tax

By 53-43%, voters oppose increasing the sales tax

By 71-20%, voters support seeking concessions from state employees (most popular)

By 68-39%, voters support increasing tobacco and alcohol taxes

By 47-28%, voters support budget cuts in social services and higher education

58% of voters say they have considered moving out of Connecticut because of high taxes

This poll needs a much more thorough analysis, and I’d love to know the demographic breakdown. (There’s also some weird stuff in there–did you know that after the 65+ crowd, the people most interested in repealing health care are between the ages of 30-39? Yeah. Go see the crosstabs). Plus that question about the Earned Income Tax Credit is a huge, biased paragraph, really shifty–it’s the only question where they give a LOT of context. Hm.

Governor Malloy has proposed an Earned Income Tax Credit for low income households that earn less than about $21,000 a year from their jobs. Such households would be eligible for a tax refund of about $1,700 even though they did not pay any state income taxes because their income was too low. This credit would be in addition to an existing federal earned income tax credit of more than $5,000 such households are already eligible for. The new tax credit would cost Connecticut taxpayers more than $100 million a year in new spending. Do you support or oppose a STATE Earned Income Tax Credit for low income households?

So do you support FREE MONEY FOR LAYABOUTS? Well? Do you?

The one thing I can take away that I think is honest, though, is this: people want the sacrifice to be shared by others. As long as they don’t have to pay more taxes or see their own services cut, they’re fine. Since most people aren’t state workers, they’d prefer for them to shoulder the burden–or else they’ll move out of state!

I think this is pretty universal. The public likes to blame everyone but ourselves for the mess we’re in: state employees, unions, politicians, corporations–but our twin demands for more and better services and juicy tax cuts are a massive part of the problem, as well.


Susan Jane Bigelow’s Extrahuman Union

Hey! Welcome to the Extrahuman Union, home of Susan Jane Bigelow. Prepare to be stripped of all meaningful identity. While you're processing, check out more about me on the about page!

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BROKEN

Extrahuman Union #1

SKY RANGER

Extrahuman Union #2

THE SPARK

Extrahumans #3

THE DEMON GIRL’S SONG

YA LGBT epic fantasy!

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Check out my Amazon author page!

Follow @whateversusan on Twitter!

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