Monthly Archives: May 2014

Yes All Women….my experiences, good and bad

Warning: can be triggery for incidents of sexual harassment and angst–no gory details. If such things bother you, best not read. I’ll cut this in LJ.

There’s a reason I have my friendly but assertive/aggressive persona in public settings. It’s called growing up female, blond, and big-busted while being a smart, nerdy girl with a lot of self-confidence issues.

The first incident I recall happened in third grade. I had been transferred from my regular school to a nearby school due to overcrowding, and my parents had thought it would be kinder to put me in a different school where a godmother could watch over me. It wasn’t the best choice, in part because it put me in a place where I had to deal with daily bullying by a boy on my walk home. The bullying escalated to physical attack. He routinely slugged me in the gut. Every afternoon. Every walk home. For a week and a half.

One day, I had my umbrella. The boy in question came after me. He was pleasant at school, well-liked, and I really did want to be friendly with him. He led with an innocuous  comment, then followed up with–yes–a punch in the gut. I reacted with a smack/poke in his gut with my umbrella.

I had no further problems with that boy. I learned.

Fast forward through several years of bullying based on being an outsider in yet another school. I developed early, was set up with boys as part of teasing by other girls, dealt with the routine that happened at my junior high of boys snapping my bra, stepping on the back of my shoes, and otherwise being obnoxious jerks. At the same time, I watched Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In and enjoyed Ruth Buzzi’s treatment of Arte Johnson as the Dirty Old Man (hitting him over the head with her purse or her umbrella when his propositions got to be too much). I emulated Ruth Buzzi when I got bugged, and things got better.

I learned.

At the same time, my growing breasts also subjected me to a lot of scary harassment in situations outside of school. This was the late 60s-early 70s, and a young girl like me with big breasts and long blond hair really had problems walking the street alone without enduring catcalls, whistles, and other letching behaviors. I learned to ignore being yelled at, because anything further escalated the behaviors into unsafe areas, and I wasn’t at the point where I felt comfortable flipping groups of men off.

Then the really scary thing happened. My parents and I were out fishing in a big reservoir, something we did on a regular basis. I was wearing a peasant blouse my mother had made for me, one I really loved. But it revealed my cleavage and my breasts. Some drunken fishermen saw us. They started driving their boat around ours, letching, hollering, and leering, tossing out beer cans as they circled us. My father yelled at them. They didn’t stop for the longest time, and their wake threatened to swamp our boat. Other fishermen came by, and they went away.

I learned. I also didn’t wear that blouse very much after that. I don’t like wearing peasant blouses any more.

High school was better. I wore short skirts, practiced falling off of 50s-era platform shoes that I’d inherited from my mother, and hung out with a nerdy crowd.

I went to college. More exposure to catcalls and letching. I dated a Libyan guy for a few months, and became known and respected amongst the Libyan men for a.) respecting their faith while being clear about sticking to my faith and b.) not going to bed with any of them. We teased each other, but it was on the level of joking, and we all knew it. In return, I could hang out with the guys and no one, repeat, NO ONE, bothered me on campus. The guys were in the student union at odd hours when some really scary folks would hang out there, and I could sit with them and be safe.

I moved on from the Libyan group. I went through a sequence of boyfriends who all wanted me to mend their pants. I went on a date with one guy, pleasant person, excellent date–who then went out and tried to commit suicide afterwards. I was told I needed to talk to him as part of his rehabilitation. He told me he did it because he didn’t feel worthy. Now I wonder what happened to him. Meanwhile, I felt awful because I had done something to him–what, I wasn’t sure, but for some reason it was felt to be my fault.

I dated a man who moved away. He was still young and immature, and his father warned me off of him. It was my first time being seen as a predatory female, and I was confused by it. This same guy came up $1.50 short of having the funds to get a bus ticket to come see me. He didn’t call. He didn’t take my calls. I got an apologetic letter a week later, where he said he’d gone to see a movie instead.

I hooked up with a man who seemed pleasant at first. We shared a living situation called a “quad,” where each of us had separate sleeping and living quarters but shared a kitchen and bathroom. We went to bed. Then the red flags started flying. He got possessive. He got angry when he was told no. He showed me explicitly how he could break into my room using a foot-long Bowie knife.

I learned. I didn’t say no again until I had moved out. He stalked me and my family for two-three years after that, frightening my elderly parents (and Dad had been in WWII in the Italian theater). He moved into an apartment complex behind the coed cooperative house I lived in, got drunk at night, and bellowed my name across the alleyway. He came by the house once, and was chased away by the bigger and more aggressive men of that coop (I had to love the drunken redneck resident guy who, when alerted to the danger by another woman, came staggering up from the basement, bellowing and hollering like Thor). None of the men who chased him off were ever involved with me–they were offended by his harassment of me. He only stopped a couple of years later when he showed up on my doorstep and I informed him that my boyfriend at the time and our attorney were in the apartment behind me. My parents moved to a gated community. I lived in mixed households where the men were people I could trust as allies.

I learned.

There was a rapist in my college neighborhood. I had to go out at night, but I tried to call my boyfriend at the time when I’d leave where I was at (much more difficult in the pre-cell phone era). I didn’t let my boyfriend’s interests defer me from going out independently to do different things. He was working, I was going to school. One night a male fitting the MO of that rapist came out from behind a dumpster and moved toward me. I ran as hard as I could as he chased me. Luckily, I was close to my apartment and made it without a problem.

I learned.

Eventually, I married. I had a son. I learned that sometimes the presence of a child and a spouse didn’t defer the harassment, but the combined outrage of my husband and myself would. My son started going to the same sf conventions I did. We developed a code where I’d let him know if I needed backup.

There are other incidents, other times, but that’s a pretty good summary for what I went through and how I managed it. I’m one of the lucky ones. I learned to be aggressive in the face of harassment, mouthy, and developed a good offense. I also learned to partner up, first with men, and then other women, to keep harassers at bay. Additionally, I developed a radar for the difference between jokey flirtation and creepy stalking, and created my own personal line in the sand for when that happens. My line might not work for other people, either one way or another. I just developed what works for me.

My story really isn’t that different from any other woman’s. Talk to anyone my age, and unless they’ve had an extremely sheltered life, my guess is that they’ve had similar experiences.

I just figured that maybe it is my turn to share.

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Another great MisCon

As always, going to Missoula for MisCon was an excellent experience. Not everything involved science fiction and writing. We  found the new Preston Wine Cellars store (and purchased some wine, though the port is no more, alas).

Because of the clear, sunny weather on the way over, I got some incredible pictures. Here’s a short sampler:


(Hubby playing around with a sculpture)

Kootenai Falls.


We ran up to Whitefish Lake when we got into town rather than check in, and I got some really nice shots of the lake, as well as a couple of folks flyboarding. I’d never heard of it before, so watching it was pretty fascinating.


And because it was a clear, sunny, warm day, we actually were able to use the outdoor hotel pool.

On the way to the con from Whitefish, we spotted a buffalo bull who’d just gotten up from a wallow, still coated in dirt. It was right on the edge of the bison reserve, and there was no good place to pull over to take a picture. This is a theme which will be repeated.

At the con, I observed part of a plotting session using the Tarot, but had to bug out due to packing for leaving the next morning. I had fun in my panels, and I think my fellow panelists did too. I had to recruit help when it turned out that everyone else on one panel was out sick, and the audience was too big for one panelist. At least if that panelist is me. But I had amazing friends who popped in to join me, and we had a vigorous discussion.

The writing critiques went as well as critique sessions go. Relatively uneventful and interesting concepts. Hopefully, the critiqued writers go on to do something with their work.

The hosting hotel for MisCon, Ruby’s, doesn’t have a bar, but just up the street is an Irish sports bar, The Stone of Accord, that has a decent menu and a rather nice selection of single malts, both Scotch and Irish. I finally got up the nerve to fork out for the Macallen Cask Strength shot, and a rather nice choice it was. That ended up being the choice libation as a bunch of us sipped from our glasses (one savors the Cask Strength, not chugs it) and discussed writing topics from figuring out plots to marketing to archeology to this and that and other things.

Since I was staying in a neighboring hotel, I hiked over to the con every day and got to inhale the glorious scent from this lilac hedge along the parking lot:


Of course, I swooned over pink and light lavender and dark lavender lilacs. There weren’t any dark purples or whites, alas. But the warm weather brought out the strong sweet perfume of the lilac blossoms, and I loved it every time I walked by.

Because hubby had to go back to work today, we left early on Monday to come back, missing the last day of the con. However, about thirty miles west of Spokane, right next to I-90, near a little snowmelt pond, we spotted a big moose circling round at a trot to catch a glimpse of something that had startled it. We giggled about “moose in the Palouse” the rest of the drive home.

I had this day off so I had time to rest and recover from driving all the way back. Sixteen more days.

Sixteen more days until I’m freelance again. Yay?

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It’s almost Memorial Day, which means it’s time for one of my favorite cons…Miscon, in Missoula, Montana.

Here’s my schedule:

Joyce Reynolds-Ward
  • Fri 4:00 – 4:50 PM, Writers’ Workshop Meet and Greet, Containment Room (Upstairs)
  • Fri 5:00 – 5:50 PM, The Importance of Beta Readers, Upstairs 3 (Upstairs Programming 3)
  • Break Fri 5:50 – Sat 11:00
  • Sat 11:00 – 12:50 PM, Writers’ Workshop Great Hall, Great Hall (Upstairs)
  • Break Sat 12:50 – Sat 2:00
  • Sat 2:00 – 2:50 PM, Reading: Joyce Reynolds Ward, Upstairs 3 (Upstairs Programming 3)
  • Sat 3:00 – 3:50 PM, Realistically Surviving the Fall of Society, Upstairs 1 (Upstairs Programming 1)
  • Break Sat 3:50 – Sat 6:00
  • Sat 6:00 – 6:50 PM, Creating Conflict, Great Hall (Upstairs)
  • Break Sat 6:50 – Sun 10:00
  • Sun 10:00 – 10:50 AM, Author Book Signing, Containment Room (Upstairs)
  • Break Sun 10:50 – Sun 1:00
  • Sun 1:00 – 1:50 PM, Writing What You Don’t Know, Upstairs 3 (Upstairs Programming 3)
  • Break Sun 1:50 – Sun 4:00
  • Sun 4:00 – 4:50 PM, Brave New World?, Upstairs 1 (Upstairs Programming 1)

Hope to see some of you there!

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Miss Mocha wakes up

Besides skiing this Mother’s Day, I also went to the barn and did a light ride on Miss Mocha. She nickered and was eager to get out this morning. I think she’s getting tired of the stall restriction; it sure seems like she’s a bit lower in mood when I throw on the bareback pad and we just repeat the schooling exercises and walk, walk, walk. But with that bar shoe, there’s just not a lot she can do yet.

However, on the way to the barn, we spotted an estate sale just down the road. It was right next to the tree farm with a long (about 200 yard) driveway. I figured it was a good schooling opportunity and a chance to expose Mocha to something new. She has to get used to life beyond the arena at some point and it looked pretty mellow to handle.

So after the usual schooling of circles and railroad tie walkovers and two-tracks and backing, we headed out for Estate Sale Training. About halfway down the road, a diesel truck with a rather loud muffler set-up accelerated and startled Mocha. She started to bolt, but we stopped after two strides of trot. But her head was UP, and she was on her toes with a lot of energy because she’d begun to notice the cars and foot traffic.

At the corner where we turned to go down the driveway, she was unsure about the bright white signs. Reaction to white signs and other times when she’s been like this told me that yep, that’s something to work her with. She got over her nervousness about bright white stuff but it took some time. I think I see an impending future of leftover lawn signs, especially bright white ones.

Then she whirled once to refuse to go down the driveway, because she’d never gone down it before. And there were cars. And noise. And things That Just Didn’t Belong, Mom, So Can We Leave?

However, hubby (also known as Treat Boy) was on foot with us, and he walked down with us. There was a lot of the Quarter Horse Giraffe Mode but I didn’t push her. Keep in mind I’m doing this with a bareback pad and Pelham curb. I had brakes but I didn’t want to call them in. When she wanted to stop and look, the rule was she could stop and look. But she couldn’t back up, and she couldn’t spin and bolt. If she spun, we kept on going right around to face where we started. Being the well-trained reiner she is, she listened to that cue.

It was about twenty minutes worth of schooling, a little bit of drama and anxiety, but nothing scary on my part. I never felt like she was out of control, just being a Drama Queen about a lot of strange activity in a place she’s semi-familiar with. I’m sure part of the reason for some of the drama was the fact that she’s spent five months with a bar shoe on her left fore and as a result she’s had no turnout and only light exercise at a walk. There are many, many more horses out there who would have reacted much more intensely than Mocha in such circumstances. I’ve owned one of those in the past. That horse would have ripped down the barn long before now.

At the end, she felt sufficiently energetic to try to jig and trot back to the barn. Good to feel that energy again, and know it hasn’t gone away–just suppressed at the moment.

One more month left…I hope.

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Real spring skiing for once

This Mother’s Day, I got up at 5:30 am, had some yogurt and almonds and an energy bar, hopped into the car with DH, and went skiing.


Yeah. Lifts opened at 8. But the temps had dipped into the high 20s and stuff had iced up weirdly. By the time we went through our usual prep (plus me getting a coffee and! bacon!), the snow was just right. A little soft with hardpack underneath.

The catch was that the Magic Mile wasn’t open yet. Still in storm recovery mode (and one does not diss the gifts of Ullr and Skadi  at this point in the season; yea, even though it may cause Perfect Run Issues). So we went for Stormin’ Norman. Whereupon we discovered this:


at the top of Norman. Essentially, there’d been a freestyle ski movie conference at Timberline, and that is what they made for it.  Then, when I saw where the takeoff hill for that set of jumps was, um, yeah. Pretty intense. It’s about halfway up the Kruser line on the Magic Mile, which means that it’s built for speed. Given the airs I saw on Facebook links from that conference…yeah. Fast and high. That’s what you need to get those big multi-revolution tricks. It’s as much of a science as a ballet pirouette. Trickers spot their turns just like dancers do. Eyes-shoulders-hips-feet. It’s a graceful sequence to watch on video, but in slow-mo you don’t always get a sense for how fast the freestyler is going in real life.

Anyway. Enough ski geekery.

I got up to my old pre-packed out boots, pre-fall speed. One of the beauties of Norman when it is relatively quiet is that you can have a nice side-by-side run, and for once this season I dang near passed the hubby. Mmm. I think I like my boots, at last. It’s taken a year to break them in, but now I’ve found their potential.

Back in the groove again. Feeling the flow of the fall line. Finally, damn it, after struggling with boots and injuries and stubborn aging body.

About time.

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Noodling on writing plans–writing process post

I am using the period where I’m letting Andrews Ranch rest before the rewrite to take care of some writing organizational work. No, not the bookkeeping and organizational paperwork. Rather, I’m fiddling around with outline notes, organizing research, making research plans, and reviewing short stories.

I don’t know how many other writers review what they have currently in circulation on a periodic basis. It’s something I like to do every couple of years, when I have most of my stories in hand and I’m not working on a bigger project.

Like now. At this point in time, I have eleven short stories that are making the rounds, aged anywhere from eight years to one year old. Ten of them have come back since I last sat down and sent out stories, about three months ago. These stories were out this last go-round anywhere from two days to a year, so it was a matter of timing rather than any big flurry of submission and rejection. A perfect time to review stories.

Age of the story isn’t particularly relevant to whether I circulate the piece or not; I’ve sold some work that I wrote a few years back and I think it’s an issue of either anticipating a market or else the type of story I wrote has come back in favor. Most of these stories are good in and of themselves and just haven’t found their home market yet. If they aren’t very good, they get trunked during these review periods. Some stories get put aside to be expanded into larger works. Now that I’m self-publishing some work, taking the time to expand some stories into novelette or novella form is a viable alternative. Generally, I let my mental notes about rejection feedback guide whether I do that rewrite or not. I’ve only done it with a couple of stories. Most of the time, I shorten a story. Sometimes I cut a secondary plot line. Rarely do I need to do huge edits–mostly, it’s just looking at the story and refreshing it for the current marketplace.

I also use this process time to clean up the circulating MS and do quick and dirty continuing copyedits (even when other eyes have gone over a MS I can still find a blooper or two!). But there are other, closer copyedits to do. For example, an older MS might have gone through a couple of word processor iterations and have some right margin issues. I still have some MSs with two spaces between sentences instead of one. I’m cleaning out tabs in favor of auto-indents. Occasionally there’s a space between the period and the hard return. All nit-picky little stuff, but they’re all things that can hang up the readability of a MS across different platforms.

Also, because I tend to use short stories as a means of exploring other secondary worlds, this review gives me a fresh chance to look at the world that a particular story is set in. Do I want to do other stories in that universe? A novel? If I do have ongoing worldbuilding in that universe, what insight does this particular story provide for character motivation? A lot of the work which has gone into writing the Will and Diana relationship for Andrews Ranch has illuminated the factors that come into play later on in the Netwalk Sequence with their granddaughter Bess. Understandable because I’m explicitly writing a generational saga in that universe. But they are revelations that might not have come to me if I hadn’t written Andrews Ranch.

I’m also laying out the research plans for the rest of this year. I have some big non-Netwalk Sequence projects that I want to get going, including a Weird West novella/novel (Bearing Witness) and a contemporary alternate world fantasy (Becoming Solo) centered around my experiences in 4-H as member, parent, and leader (think of 4-H competition as magical competition. Whole new perspective on Style Revue, Showmanship, and cooking contests). I want to write five new short stories to add to the circulation list, with a goal of getting the circulation list back up to twenty stories. I have two nonfiction self-published books planned. I have an urban fantasy novel that needs to have significant worldbuilding done. I’ve taken a run at it in four different stories and it’s still not quite right.

I also want to start using Scrivener for features other than layout and Compile for ebook publishing. It’s a matter of taking the time to learn the features and play with them, but that means being able to take an hour or so out of multiple days to do that, rather than begrudge the learning curve time because learning the skill takes away from valuable writing time. I need to start thinking about a post-day job writing schedule, where I have a regular pattern set up for household, horse, writing, and research time.

So there’s a number of things to do in this time that I’m letting Andrews Ranch simmer (including thinking about a new title, how to market the dang novella, and just what the cover is going to be). But this down time isn’t just me getting ready to collapse at the end of the school year only to recharge for yet another year; it’s a time for me to prepare for a new way of doing things.

Quite the challenge.

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Andrews Ranch is done

I swear, this story has been one of the hardest damn things I’ve ever written.

It doesn’t help that it started changing character from being a bog-standard futuristic SF tale to a futuristic SF western. The ending is a very traditional Western ending, in its way.

44k for the words, and the back half of it is completely rewritten and totally different. But a lot of that rewrite needs to be embellished and rewritten and made to coincide with Dahlia and Winter Shadows. It’s not going to be a May release; more likely a September release with the combined volume to include all three stories and an appropriate omnibus title.

And now for something completely different. Methinks I have a novelette that could be dusted off, rewritten, and published. I think that’s what will happen in May.

Netwalk’s Children also needs to be written but, damn it, given the depths of this series, I think it’s time I got away from the Netwalk Sequence writing for a while. Well, there’s the nonfiction project. I think it’s time to work on that. And perhaps there’s some anthology short story stuff in the works I need to think about….


But damn am I glad that’s done.

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