Friday, October 20, 2017

Launch Week Recap

Well, Traitor's Hope is out in the world and doing its thing. The week leading up to and away from the launch were both interesting and I learned a lot from them....Because I don't want this post to sound whiny, I'll start with the good stuff, and move on from there. Honestly, I'm so wiped emotionally from the past two weeks I don't have much energy for this post, but I feel the need to get it down on "paper" while it's still fresh so here goes.

Good things that came out of the whole* launch process:
*Keep in mind that the launch process is ongoing, started long before October 9th and will continue far past today, but those are the two weeks we're going to focus on for the moment.

  • Two amazing reviews of both Traitor's Hope and Blade's Edge by book bloggers who not only loved the books but who are also very thorough and thoughtful reviewers. The reviews on Blushing Bibliophile are wonderful and thoughtful but contain mild spoilers. The reviews on Jena Brown Writes are spoilerless and perfect and so thoughtful they almost made me cry. You can find her review of Blade's Edge here, and of Traitor's Hope here. Honestly, these four reviews make up for everything else that went wrong on launch week. I write for myself, I publish for readers who want to read the same books that I wish there were more of, and it makes me SOOOO happy when readers find my books and it's just what they were looking for. 
  • Traitor's Hope also received a solid and thoughtful review from the talented Nick Bryan, author of the Hobson & Choi books (which I really do recommend, if you haven't read them already). 
  • Readership of Blade's Edge likely more than doubled in the past week. I ran a free promotion on Blade's Edge and over 4000 people downloaded it. Even if only 25% of those people ever read it, that's still a huge increase in audience. Yay! Hopefully, they'll love it and then read Traitor's Hope next! (One can dream.) 
  • Blade's Edge's ranking on Amazon skyrocketed during the free promotion! #67 was its highest in the WHOLE STORE and it was #1 in its top three categories! :-)
  • The Traitor's Hope launch party was in the black! In other words, enough books sold at the launch party to cover the costs of the party with a bit left over! Yay!
  • Traitor's Hope was the #3 bestseller in Winnipeg for its launch week! Yay! 
  • I gained lots of facebook and twitter followers thanks to the blog tour and giveaway, and had some fun interactions with folks on both platforms. Yay!
  • It was so lovely to see people at the book launch at McNally's and hang out with folks before during and after the event! The reading went well and the aikido demonstration was kick ass! Photos will be coming soon, once I get them from my photographer. SUPER YAY!
Less than good things that came out of the whole launch process:

  • Fake reviews. I was surprised and dismayed to find that a handful of the reviewers who signed up specifically to do a review for the blog tour didn't read the book and instead paraphrased existing reviews along with the book's description in order to fake a review. It was like grading high school papers all over again, except I didn't have the gumption to call anyone out on it. I didn't realize this was a thing that happens, but I have confirmed with other authors that it, sadly, is a thing. 
  • Not much sell through. So far, the thousands of downloads of Blade's Edge have not turned into more than a handful of sales of Traitor's Hope. Not that I expected many, but I was hoping for more than this. 
  • The blog tour has generated a lot of entries to win a free copy of the books, but not much in terms of people actually purchasing the books. I had an inkling this might be the case, but had thought at least a handful of people would actually buy the books. Apparently not.
  • Missed posts on the tour. There were a number of bloggers who missed their posts, or posted late, or didn't post what they said they would. The poor organizer had to prod them many times and it left me feeling like almost no one actually cared about the book at all (an overreaction I'm sure, but hey launch week is a touchy week for author feelings). 
That's all I can think of for now, and honestly, I need to go write a bit to put some balm on my soul (yep, I totally just massacred that metaphor, you're welcome). The whole launch process is surprisingly emotionally draining even the second time around, and even with adjusted expectations after everything I learned the first time around. Now I need a definite break from social media (even though that's probably a terrible idea in terms of marketing momentum). 

So, there you have it. A very brief launch week recap. I'll try to provide more details for those who are interested in a follow-up post. In the meantime, I'm off to start new projects and think about other things for a while. I leave you with visuals to some of the highlights I mentioned! 






Saturday, October 14, 2017

Traitor's Hope's book birthday is TODAY!

The day is finally here...

It's Traitor's Hope's Birthday!

Traitor's Hope officially joins the world today, and can now be purchased on Amazon in print or ebook formats, and from anywhere books are sold! If your local bookstore doesn't have it in stock (which is likely unless you live in Winnipeg) you can ask for it by name and they can order a copy for you from their regular distribution stream.

We're halfway through the blog tour and it has been a ton of fun, and there's still one week of interviews, reviews, and guest posts left! Don't forget to check out all of those tour stops (links gathered conveniently here).

Tonight is the actual launch party at McNally Robinson, and I am both excited and nervous. Much like last time, I'm not nervous about reading or speaking in front of people (both things I'm used to) but I'm nervous that no one will show up even though I have good reason to believe that plenty of people will be there. Oh well, fingers crossed!
A preview of Traitor's Hope
THE BACKHAND CAUGHT Kusuko by surprise and the sting alone brought tears to her eyes. She blinked, and the open, sparsely decorated room regained some of its focus. She wondered if the dizziness was more to do with the slap, or with the injuries she hadn't quite recovered from fully. 
She stared at the large wooden beams that spanned the ceiling above Mamushi-san's head, ignoring his sharp features, greying hair, and dark brown eyes, and tried to dismiss the tears before they could raise his ire.
“That,” Mamushi-san said, calmly folding his hands over his midsection so the sleeves of his kimono lay neatly atop one another, “is for drawing a sword against the first Rōjū without orders to do so.”
The second backhand wasn't a surprise, and Kusuko took it stoically.
“And that,” he continued, “is for almost getting yourself killed for your troubles. If that female Kisōshi had not saved you with her incredible display of power, you would be dead along with everyone else caught in that blast of wind. That is unacceptable.”
“I am sorry Mamushi-san,” Kusuko replied, keeping her chestnut eyes downcast. She would have to adjust her face paints after this meeting, but for now it was better not to remind Mamushi-san that he'd been “forced” to hit her. “I did not attack the first Rōjū. It was that hifu. She was drawn to the freedom offered by Kuma-sensei and his allies. She was drawn to their bravery as well.”
“That may be, but if the skins you adopt for your various assignments cannot follow orders then they have lost their usefulness.”
“Is it not useful to you now that the Rōjū are deposed?”
“Hmph... as if you could have known the outcome of that battle.”
“I did not. My hifu at that time seemed to think the outcome was inevitable, however.”
“Luckily for you she was right. I can still make use of you even though the Rōjū no longer trust you.”
“Do you still serve them?” Kusuko asked before she could stop herself. Luckily, Mamushi decided not to hit her again, he merely glared as he answered.
“They still see fit to pay me. They seem to think that they can regain power given enough time and information.”
“And what do you think?”
“I think that you would serve me best by serving your new allies.”
“They are not my allies, Mamushi-san. You are my only ally. They are the allies of my hifu and nothing more.”
“As you say. You will do well to remember that.” Kusuko didn't flinch the next time that Mamushi-san reached for her, but this time it was a light caress of her cheek. Kusuko glowed at the rare show of affection.
“You will be of great use to me still, little one, if you can continue your guise with Tsuku-san and her allies. Though the New Council purports to have no interest in dealing with spies and assassins, I believe Yasuhiko-san and his wife are more practical than that. They may even maintain my former contract.”
“What are my instructions, then?”
“For now, simply learn as much as you can and gain their trust.”
Kusuko nodded and Mamushi-san stood and crossed to the far side of the room.
“In time, depending on what the first Rōjū plans, and the information I receive, I will send along further instructions.” 
Kusuko rose to take her leave, sensing her dismissal. 
“And Kusuko-san,” Mamushi said, just as she reached for the shoji that would allow her egress into the hallway. “Take care.”
“Yes, father,” Kusuko whispered, as she opened the shoji and left the room. 

Buy Traitor's Hope
Blade's Edge FREE promotion

In celebration of the Traitor's Hope launch, for the next five days, you can get the Blade's Edge ebook for free. This makes a great opportunity to share the series with someone else, so feel free to share this linkaround the internet! 

Radio silence commences now...

While I will be promoting the book for a while yet, and thus may be poking things on Facebook and Twitter occasionally, I won't be sending any more announcements out for a while. The end of October will be spent getting ready for ComiCon and a few other in-person events, as well as prepping for NaNoWriMo, and just taking some time off to enjoy my family. I'll be back once November wraps up and I have a shiny new first draft that I can start polishing into my next book. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Book (Blog) Tour Underway!

Well, folks, the Traitor's Hope blog tour has officially started! As Monday was Canadian Thanksgiving, I wasn't around to shout it from the rafters, but the shouting starts now!



First up was an interview with Two Chicks on Books that you can read here! (Ever wondered if I have any phobias, or who my "book boyfriend" is? Neither had I until this interview, and my answers may surprise you!)

Following that was a fabulous review by the Blushing Bibliophile which you can read here! (Warning: contains minor spoilers.) I couldn't be more pleased with Chloe's reaction to Traitor's Hope and Blade's Edge.

And that was just Day 1 (Monday)! On Tuesday Traitor's Hope will be reviewed on Bibliobakes and also be featured in a spotlight on Arvenig.it

Every blog over this two-week tour will have links to the Rafflecopter giveaway that we're running featuring signed copies of Traitor's Hope and Blade's Edge as well as three chances to win ebook copies of both books.

Below is the full schedule for the two-week tour, as well as the giveaway! Please check back frequently for new posts on the tour. I had a lot of fun writing guest posts, selecting excerpts, and answering interview questions, and I'm really looking forward to seeing how all of the reviewers respond to Traitor's Hope.

In the meantime, I'm madly prepping for the physical book launch here in Winnipeg where I'll be reading an excerpt from the book, doing a brief Q&A, as well a book signing AND there will be an awesome martial arts demonstration to top the whole thing off. If you're anywhere nearby you should come. There'll be free wine and snacks too. :-) (7pm at McNally Robinson on the 14th of October)

Blog Tour Schedule:
Week One:

10/9/2017- Two Chicks on Books- Interview
10/9/2017- Blushing Bibliophile- Review

10/10/2017- Arvenig.it- Guest Post
10/10/2017- Bibliobakes- Review

10/11/2017- Kati's Bookaholic Rambling Reviews- Excerpt
10/11/2017- Ashley M. Delgado- Review

10/12/2017- A Dream Within A Dream- Excerpt
10/12/2017- Don't Judge, Read- Spotlight

10/13/2017- BookHounds YA- Guest Post
10/13/2017- Adventures Thru Wonderland- Review

Week Two:

10/16/2017- Novel Novice- Excerpt
10/16/2017- Nick Bryan Dot Com- Review

10/17/2017- Books at Dawn- Guest Post
10/17/2017- YA and Wine- Excerpt

10/18/2017- Fire and Ice- Spotlight
10/18/2017- A Gingerly Review- Review

10/19/2017- My Nook, Books & More- Excerpt
10/19/2017- Jena Brown Writes- Review

10/20/2017- Seeing Double In Neverland- Interview
10/20/2017- Ramblings From An Alternate Reality- Review
a Rafflecopter giveaway



Monday, October 2, 2017

We interrupt your regularly scheduled book promotion...

...to explain why racism is bad...

...no, wait to explain how gun control might actually help stop mass shootings...

...no, wait to mourn the loss of Tom Petty--No, wait, he's still alive--to send healing thoughts to--No, wait, he's dead...

Oh, f@&k it. Today (Monday) can take a long walk off a short pier.

But seriously, this week was supposed to be about getting psyched for my book launch, and my upcoming blog tour... And then, I realized that I really needed to say something about how important the #takeaknee movement was. Then, this morning happened and... well, it's kind of hard to know where to start.

My home country is going to hell in a handbasket and there is a small handed, toupeed, orangutan at the helm, shouting, "Look at me! Look at me!" all the while.

So, where do I begin? Something needs to be said because... well, I can't abide what's happening in silence. Many people are speaking up, and doing so more eloquently and insightfully than I will manage, but I can't keep quiet, lest anyone think that I don't think there's anything wrong. I don't have much of a platform, but what little platform I have I will use to try to help spread words of sanity. And some of you will say, "But, Virginia, you're a fantasy writer, stick to writing fiction, don't alienate potential readers by getting political." To which I say, "If you think that my fiction doesn't get political I think you must not have read it, and if you think that artists need to be quiet during political turmoil, then you don't know what art's true purpose is."

When I see the world around me turning into a dystopia of fantastical proportions, it is my duty to speak up and do all I can to steer us clear of the same fate as my fictional characters.

There's so much to cover though, that it's a bit overwhelming.

So here we go. Social justice bullet points. This is what the world has come to.


  • Racism: Let's be clear here, racism in the United States is pervasive and systemic and has been so for as long as people of European descent have been present there. But, ignoring the past six hundred years, let's just focus on now. If you don't believe that the United States is currently suffering from pervasive, systemic racism then you are either not paying attention, are willfully ignorant, or you don't understand the definition of racism. If you are being willfully ignorant then there isn't much hope for you, but if you simply haven't taken a good look around, or you don't understand what racism is then there is still hope.

    Let's talk about what racism is then. Because you may be one of the people who looks around and says, "What do you mean, Virginia? It's not like the KKK is lurking around every corner and lynching people left, right, and center. That kind of thing isn't allowed anymore. I don't even know any racists, so what can you possibly be talking about?" There are lots of people who wonder the same thing, so let me explain. Racism isn't just lynching, burning crosses, and using the n word. (Though sadly, that kind of thing is making a comeback, so keep an eye out for that bullshit too.) No, racism is also: not hiring someone because of the color of their skin, saying sentences that start with the words, "but black people...," dismissing violence against black people as being somehow deserved, defending cops who kill unarmed black people, saying "all lives matter" when someone tries to say "black lives matter," not listening/believing when numerous people of color share their experiences with you, and making any generalizations about an entire minority group whether they are positive or negative. (Yes, that's right, saying that Asians are good at math, or that black people have great rhythm is racist. Sorry.) This is just a tiny portion of the kinds of things that make up everyday racism, and we haven't even touched on how skewed the justice system is. Consider for a moment how many unarmed black people have been killed in the past few years by police officers, and then consider how many of those police officers have been prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. If you want to read up on it, I suggest checking out articles written by Shaun King.
  • #TakeaKnee -- For all the reasons listed above and far more, a number of athletes lately have been peacefully protesting the pervasive racism in the US, as well as the lack of justice, by kneeling during the national anthem. Ignoring the fact that kneeling is actually a sign of respect and that these athletes are all well within their constitutional rights to protest this way, a bunch of angry white folks (including the angry white folk in chief) have been outraged by this act. If you agree with the angry white folks, you might take a moment to consider the fact that thousands of veterans have taken to social media to side with the #takeaknee movement because:

    "As a combat vet, I fought Nazis of WWII. Today I #takeaknee, once more, in solidarity w/my brothers&sisters still fighting 4 equality&justice." (Quote from Norman Lear on Twitter.) In other words, plenty of people who fought for American freedom take offense at all the people trying to quash people's right to peacefully protest severe injustice.

    As Randi Mayem Singer wrote (also on twitter) "Rosa Parks was not protesting the bus. Gandhi was not protesting the food. Players are not protesting the anthem. It's the injustice, stupid."

    So, yeah, for football fans who are getting all up in arms, or sports fans in general now that the movement is spreading, no it's not about sports, and yes, this is the time and place to protest the injustice. It's about raising awareness and making people discuss and acknowledge what's happening. How many football fans were thinking about racial inequality before players started taking a knee during the anthem? A tiny fraction of the ones discussing it now I can assure you.
  • Gun control -- Just another mass shooting in the US, NBD. Wait, WTF? 58 people (and counting) dying at the hands of an American terrorist should not be something that people just shrug off. It is also a big fat reason to talk about gun control, no matter how much you hate that. Yes, it's a tragedy. Yes, it makes me unspeakably sad. I know people in Las Vegas. I know people who are into the music scene in Las Vegas. Luckily, all of the people that I know are safe. The whole thing is terrifying and awful, and I cannot fathom how terrible it must be for all of the survivors, and the families and friends of the fallen. That does not mean that we shouldn't talk about how we could possibly prevent it from happening again. In fact, it is a very good reason to talk about how we could possibly prevent it from happening again. That isn't politicizing a tragedy, that is trying to react to a tragedy with productive legislation that might stop it from ever happening again. I'm not saying "Get rid of all the guns!" Almost no one is saying that. Most people are just saying, "It's time to talk about how to keep assault rifles and automatic weapons out of the hands of people who might use them to mow down a crowd of people." That is an important conversation to have. I can't believe I have to say that to people.
  • Tom Petty: It makes me sad when humans die, including singers. However, I'm far more
    concerned with the 58 lives lost to an American terrorist than I am about the one famous guy.
I wanted to talk about Puerto Rico, and helping out, and not letting the buffoon in chief stand by while people die, but... but that's all the energy I have for the day. I spent today (and most of the past week, and let's face it every day since November) being horrified, shocked, sad, outraged... and I simply don't have much left. I apologize for all the things I've left out, and for however much of this is poorly written, and I imagine a lot of it is, but it's all I can do for now. 

No. Wait. I can do one more thing.

I'd like to ask a favor. Just a little one. As you go about your life this week, please, be kind to other people. Be kind to the people you love, and be kind to the people you don't even know. We need more kindess in the world, and small things matter. Smile at people. Say hi. Hug. Just, you know.... Be nice. Thank you. I appreciate you.

I'll be back later in the week to talk about my book and stuff.



Wednesday, September 20, 2017

New Book, New Blog!

Well, folks, we're less than one month away from Traitor's Hope's release date, and things are pretty exciting in my office (read: living room). Today, I took the liberty of revamping this blog's design, making the focus on the new art for Traitor's Hope rather than the Blade's Edge cover art. Why you ask? Well, because I like to switch things up, and something about the old look felt too cluttered somehow.

In even more exciting news, Traitor's Hope has gotten its first few reviews via NetGalley, and one of them is up on Goodreads for all the world to see. These reviews have been quite positive, and have made me incredibly happy for a number of reasons, not least of which is that they've referred to my writing as "excellent." Here, you can check out the Goodreads review for yourself:

Bonus gratification comes from the fact that the reviewer found the book to be a perfectly acceptable standalone, without having read Blade's Edge. This makes me enormously happy, because she's not going to be the only person who does that, and it's important that it holds up without the first book. I'm so happy to hear that it does.

Meanwhile, the MOST exciting news comes from the fact that the 75 copies of Traitor's Hope needed for this book launch (and also comicon) arrived today, and they are glorious. Here is video of me doing the "unboxing." (And yes, I cut the box open first, because cutting it open with one hand while holding my phone in the other didn't seem like a good idea, especially with a baby looking on.)



I'm so excited to deliver these to McNally Robinson tomorrow so that they can set up a display from now until the launch. YAY!

Oh, and one last thing. Blade's Edge now is only 2.99 over on amazon, in case you still haven't read it yet.

More soon!





Wednesday, September 13, 2017

On the magic of proof copies...

If you have ever read a book, you have experienced the closest thing we have to actual magic. Interestingly, and perhaps somewhat counterintuitively, book making today is a lot closer to magic than it used to be.

Allow me to explain.

Two years ago, a few months after I published Blade's Edge, the thoughts in my head started to coalesce around the story of "and then what happened?" This was partially due to the number of readers who got to the end of Blade's Edge and asked for more, and partially because my brain wanted to spend more time with the characters I had come to know and love during the process of writing Blade's Edge. 

Those thoughts, which started out vague and questioning, eventually solidified into notes, which transformed into an outline, which then spread into a first draft (fun fact--I created the file for Traitor's Hope on September 10th of 2015). The first draft was then chopped up and rearranged into a second draft, which was then refined into a third draft which was then chiseled and polished multiple times to emerge as a book.

In an interesting, 21st century twist, not a single word of Traitor's Hope or the notes that comprised its first stages existed anywhere outside of my head or a computer file until a week ago. Seriously. I wrote the first notes in my notes app between my phone and my laptop. I did the rough outline in my notes app as well (more phone, more laptop), and then a more detailed one in Scrivener. I did all the drafts in Scrivener right up until the very last bit of formatting, which I then did in Word. Not a word on paper. Just thoughts in my head and then words on a screen. So fleeting.

Furthermore, the artwork for Traitor's Hope--created by the wonderfully talented Juan Carlos Barquet--was similarly limited to a thoughts and binary existence. The artwork took form in Juan Carlos' mind and then was brought to life on a computer. I don't know if he sketched any of it on paper before he created the final product, but certainly the sketches he sent me, and the final results were all purely digital.

In addition, the graphic design applied to that artwork was purely digital.

In other words Traitor's Hope didn't exist in any physical sense, AT ALL, until the proof copies were printed. In a magical moment that I wish I could have been present for (though it probably seems less magical in a giant printing facility where hundreds of thousands of books are produced daily) Traitor's Hope went from being an idea, to being a thing. A book. Something one can hold in one's hands.

If the shipping docket it to be believed, this happened on September 4th.

It was in my hands on September 6th.

And the moment was fairly magical...





As clearly evidenced by the ridiculous faces I made.

Of course, not all books only begin existing on paper when they've been printed and bound. Indeed, the first draft of Blade's Edge was composed almost entirely by hand, and I still have the notebooks lying around somewhere to prove it. In truth, that made touching the physical book for the first time only slightly less magical. There is still, and I imagine there always will be, something thrilling about finally seeing years of work transition into book form, no matter how much of it was on paper beforehand.

Opening a proof copy and holding it is mind blowing no matter how you slice it. Here is this thing. Anyone could just pick it up and read it. It's there...just waiting to transfer my thoughts into someone else's head. And if that's not magic, I don't know what is.

Sadly, proof copies are not to be quietly revered from afar, and I soon was faced with the daunting task of marking mine up with a pen in order to make sure that the final copies would be pristine.

I have not intentionally marked up a printed book since grade school. Even when I was supposed to do annotated notes I used sticky notes. Writing in books feels like a small crime to me. But, it really is the best way to be sure you catch all the little things that try to sneak their way into print books.

Here's what Traitor's Hope looked like after I took a pen to it: 



video


And now, after making various corrections, resubmitting all the files a couple of times, and picking over it all with a fine toothed comb, it's ready. Or, is it's as ready as it's going to be. Blade's Edge went to print with 10 tiny mistakes spread out over 310 pages. I'm hopeful that Traitor's Hope will have even fewer mistakes in its 284 pages, preferably none. But, hey, I've found typos in all the Harry Potter books, and every other print book I've read, so I'm not going to beat myself up too much if I missed one or two. 

Alright, after a week full of late nights staying up to review files and clean copy, it's time to get to bed. There are currently 75 copies of Traitor's Hope heading my way for the book launch. Exciting times! You can pre-order the ebook from this link: http://a.co/4kp7Wbv and the paperback from this one: http://www.virginiamcclain.org/apps/webstore/products/show/7574337





Friday, September 1, 2017

Traitor's Hope is available for Pre-Order

Well folks, it's getting awfully real over here. Traitor's Hope is going through its final rounds of proofreading and I'm busy hammering out all the little pieces. Like turning Juan Carlos Barquet's amazing cover art into an actual cover, and formatting the interior, and distributing review copies, and scheduling marketing blitzes and... you know, making a book happen.

It's hard to believe that on October 14th Traitor's Hope will be ready for the public. In the meantime, did you know that you can pre-order the book? You can pre-order the kindle version here, and the paperback here!


I'm so excited that I barely know what to do with myself. Probably a sign that I should go to bed. More soon! 

Friday, June 9, 2017

Progress!

So, it has been far too long. There are reasons, quite a few of them really. I've been working on a few things; mostly raising an infant and rewriting the sequel to Blade's Edge.

I'm still raising the infant, but I'm done revising the sequel to Blade's Edge. Or at least, done with the major rewrite. It's off into the hands of my editor, and I'm sure much tweaking still needs to be done, but the big part is finished (I hope) and that means that the book really will be out this year. This is very exciting.

Here's a preview (subject to change) of the cover...



Meanwhile, I am going to get back into some of my other projects. First of all, I plan to dive back into my Victoria Marmot web serial, and in addition to that I am currently hatching a plan with the talented Katya Kolmakov to cowrite a new webserial. This will be an interesting adventure as the story will essentially be a romantic comedy and... well, if you know me at all you know romance isn't my strong suit. It's good practice to push one's comfort zones though, so I'm going to give it a whirl and if all else fails, Katya's practiced hand should keep us on track. At least I feel reasonably confident on the comedy portion of the romcom. I'll post links to that as soon as we get started so keep an eye out for that.

And last, but far from least, Katya will be running a Kickstarter in order to publish one of her other novels Hammer Up using Kickstarter and hiring yours truly to edit, format, and do the cover layout for the project. So, I'll post more about that when it starts as well.

I think that's about it for now, but I should have more news soon!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Now is not the time for silence

Something you may not know about me; I'm an immigrant. In fact I'm an immigrant times over.

First of all, I'm an American of European descent. A melange of Scottish, Irish, English, German, French and who knows what else. All immigrants to the United States at various stages of history. I am the product of that beautiful mix of cultures that can only come about in an immigration friendly society.

Beyond that, I have lived, studied, worked, and grown up in a number of countries outside of the US. The first was Germany; for 2.5 years when I was a child. My father got a job with PanAm and we all got visas, moved to Germany, and came and went as we pleased until another job took us back to the US. Germans were kind to us, supportive of our attempts to learn the language even when they spoke excellent English, and generally pleasant about our appearance in their country.

Next was Spain. For my second year of University, through a study abroad program, I applied for a student visa and lived and studied in Spain for a year. I arrived mere days after the September 11th attack on the Twin Towers and everyone I met was supportive, kind, and sympathetic. My host family was worried about my family back home, but I assured them that everyone was fine. Security was tight with a newfound apprehensiveness, but nonetheless I never received any hassle about my visa while coming or going.

More recently was Japan. Two years with a work visa to teach English came with full access to Japan's healthcare system, and the majority of the people I encountered were very welcoming, despite Japan's more xenophobic history and proclivities. I have many fellow expat friends who made families and lives for themselves there and are still living there today.

Currently, I reside in Canada with my husband and our new daughter, who was granted Canadian citizenship simply for being born on Canadian soil. I have my permanent resident card, the equivalent of a Green Card in the US, and now I can come and go easily between the two countries.

I am an immigrant. I am making a life outside of the country I was born in, as I have done on multiple occasions, for no better reason than a job offer, an interest in improving my language skills, a curiosity about the rest of the world, or, most recently, because I fell in love with a Canadian.

My husband has been an immigrant a few times in his life and he too comes from immigrant stock. If he hadn't been allowed to live in the US we never would have met. My life would be very different; my daughter would not exist.

Of course, people don't think of people like me when they think of immigrants, not in the US, and not in Canada either. Certainly the kind of people who voted for Trump because they thought he would change the nation back to a place they felt comfortable in don't think of me when they think of immigrants. They probably think of people who have a different skin tone than I do, or who wear different clothing. Maybe they picture head scarves or turbans, maybe they expect a detectable accent or a lack of facility with English. When I tell people here that I'm an immigrant they often chuckle and say, "well you don't count."

Really? I don't count? Why not?

Some of them actually mean that I haven't gone through the upheaval of leaving my own culture for a completely new one just to try to improve the life of my family. In those few cases, they are certainly right. Canada is very similar to the US, and I was prosperous and safe before I moved here. However, what most people mean is that I'm "just like them" so, I'm not what they're talking about when they say immigrant.

ALL IMMIGRANTS ARE JUST LIKE YOU.

They are just like me. They ARE ME. They are people making a life in a different country because of a job, or a chance to improve their language skills, or to study, or because they fell in love with someone, or, perhaps the most important reason, because they cannot safely live their lives in the country in which they were born.

I have never had to immigrate for that reason. I have never HAD to immigrate at all. For me, it has been a choice, every time. I have never been a refugee.

I have also had the unearned privilege of coming from a background that has meant that I have rarely encountered people who judge me based on my appearance, or my accent, or my choice of clothing. Just by dint of my birth and upbringing, people don't look twice at me in the street, but rather do a double take of disbelief if I happen to mention that I am an immigrant. I did nothing to earn this passive approval. It's no special trick that I've learned. It's simply based on the color of my skin, the cultural norms for clothing I was brought up to wear, and the fact that English is my first language, and a generic North American English at that. Canadians never suspect me of being American either.

I mention all of this not because I think I've earned a cookie. I mention this to illustrate a point. The people who are currently being detained as they try to return to their homes in the United States ARE EXACTLY LIKE ME. The fact that they may not look like me, or dress like me means NOTHING. They are people who have gone through the arduous process of acquiring a visa, or a green card. They are people who have spent countless hours waiting in line to file paperwork, who have submitted themselves to background check after background check, who have had their identity checked and rechecked over and over again, and have had to shell out money and more money in order to have people look over all that paperwork and finally say: "yes, you can come to America."

They have ALREADY DONE ALL OF THAT. They have lives in the US. Homes, friends, jobs, classes, lovers, husbands, wives, children, family, LIVES... and they are being kept from returning to those lives not because the best minds in the US have sat down and decided that the process which accepted them into the US was too lax. Not because the process has been assessed and deemed unworthy. Not because a democratic process has decided that they are a threat to the country. No.

They have been barred from returning home because the new president of the United States has thrown the constitution out the window and decided ON HIS OWN that he will bar them from returning.

I don't care which party you affiliate with, you should be horrified at what that means. It's such an egregious affront to the constitution that it only took the ACLU a day to get a federal judge to support an injunction on it. But it seems unlikely that that's the end of the story.

It is important that we all speak out against this. It's important that we all speak out against all of the injustice we see coming from the White House in coming days.

It took me a long time to write about Trump's election because I didn't know where to start, and I couldn't figure out how to put all I wanted to say into a single blog post. I can't. I won't. It will take many many posts for me to get it all out, but I will start trying to as often as I can because SILENCE IS NOT THE ANSWER.

Perhaps it's simply that I felt this was the first injustice that I could address with personal experience. I imagine what it would mean if I were to go to the United States to visit family (as I plan to do in coming months) and then if Canada tried to bar me from returning. How would it feel to be separated from my husband? Would they let me keep my daughter or would they send her back to her country of origin without me? These are questions that real people are forced to ask themselves right now, all because of the whim of a little man who is afraid of "other." Yet these people are not "other," they are us. They are you, they are ME.

I am an immigrant. I'll say it again so that you really understand. I'm not an immigrant "but," I am an immigrant. And, unless you are 100% Native American, SO ARE YOU. Your family once came here seeking refuge, seeking a better life, or maybe just to study, or to find a job, or because they fell in love. They came and were accepted. They made a life, and now you are an American. It is the backbone of our society (yes even with all the injustice it has pushed upon the people who were here before us, and the people who were brought here against their will--that too is part of our history). For better or worse it is how the United States has become what it is today.

This is only one of the many injustices that have come from the White House in the past eight days. I haven't written yet because it is difficult to find the time, with an infant to care for, and I have found myself repeatedly at a loss for words. Today I realized that I can't stay silent. We need every voice that can be raised to raise itself now.

I am an immigrant. Immigrants are us.  We are immigrants. It is not a question of US VS. THEM; they are us. THEY ARE US! And we cannot do this to ourselves. We simply can't. Do not sit by and allow your people to be persecuted this way. And make no mistake these are your people. I don't care what day of the week you deem holy, what you do with your hair, or how much melanin is in your skin, DO NOT make the mistake of thinking that the people this affects are somehow different than you. They are not. They are people who have families, who love people, who have friends, who want to study or work, and want to return to their lives. They are you. They are me. It's a question of us. And we should not allow this to be done to us. Not to any of us.

Now is not the time for silence. Speak up. Let everyone know how you feel about this. Let everyone know that we won't allow this to happen to us. We will not allow ourselves to be treated this way. We will shout, we will rally, we will donate to the ACLU, we will make our voices heard and we will demand justice.

If you want immigration reform, fine. That's a thing to work towards, using a democratic process, with research, assessment, oversight, and the protection of people's rights and freedoms at its heart. It is NOT the work of the stroke of a pen on a piece of paper alienating a huge portion of our population. It is not a ban that reminds historians all over the world of the beginning of Nazi Germany.

Speak up, and keep speaking up until the injustice is at an end.

Now is not the time for silence.

I beseech you, friends, speak for yourself, for those whose voices are being stifled, and for us all. This kind of oppression only spreads if it isn't stopped.

Sincerely,

An Immigrant





Friday, December 30, 2016

The Hold Up...

You might be wondering what happened to the whole Blade's Edge sequel coming out in December thing... Well, I got part of the way through my final revision when I realized that I could fix a number of problems that had been bothering me about the book with a couple of changes. Yay! I figured out how to make the book better and more cohesive and killed that small voice that was telling me that this book wasn't good enough to be the sequel to Blade's Edge.

However, those couple of changes actually require a complete rewrite of the middle 50% of the book. That's over 50,000 words completely from scratch, and that's not counting the other bits of rewrite that the rest of the book needs. In other words, I have a lot of work to do to get the book to be as high quality as my readers deserve, and though I considered (briefly) pushing through with things the way that they were and simply getting the book out on time, I decided against it.

I hope you'll forgive me.

So the book will be out sometime in 2017. I'm hoping for spring, but I make no promises as I really need to make sure that it's the best it can be. Meanwhile I'm still working on the Victoria Marmot webserial over on Patreon, snuggling my three month old baby and watching her grow, and trying to blog periodically as well, not to mention doing the occasional formatting and design jobs that come my way. Staying busy, in other words.

I will post here occasionally with updates, and I also hope to post about the election and a few other non book related topics in the near future. For now, however, the baby is crying and that's my cue. So, I leave you with this photo of Artemis enjoying our most recent blizzard.