Category Archives: Personal

My Hugo Eligibility Post

Hugo Awards nominations are open until March 17th, which means it’s time to write an eligibility post! I didn’t publish any fiction or art or podcasts in 2016, myself, but I did do a lot of fan writing on various platforms, so I am eligible to be nominated as a Fan Writer. I’d be honored and privileged to be considered for your nomination.

Looking back on 2016, there are many things I wrote for and about fandom, but particular things I’d like to highlight are:

This Twitter thread (later turned into a longer essay) on bias in Worldcon bidding.

This post on international SFF reading.

This frank (Facebook) post on the financial cost of bidding for Worldcon, and subsequent discussions on North American and British privileges in bidding.

This compilation of gender inclusive forms of address, which I posted to Facebook & Twitter last year and participated in several SoMe (Social Media) discussions about. The goal was to encourage panelists, moderators, and public speakers in general to be more gender inclusive when addressing groups of people. I can report some concrete success, in that a couple of convention staffers contacted me to say they were updating their panelist & moderator info sheet to include this issue. Yay!

I co-authored the original Worldcon 75 accessibility statement at the beginning of 2016, and took a significant role on this topic within the committee and when engaging with the membership. W75 has since updated their accessibility page to reflect the goals and process of the new leadership, so I’m linking to the Wayback Machine for this.

I wrote parts of the Worldcon 75 website and publications, although I don’t know what parts of what I wrote are still being used at this point. You can see the Progress Reports (PRs) for Worldcon 75 here. I contributed to PRs 0, 1, and 2.

Relatedly, I was also interviewed for several podcasts last year. The most fandom-relevant of them was the Mad Writers Union podcast episode on community building, where we nattered for a couple of hours on conventions, speculative fiction, and communities. In particular, I talked about how Readercon staff, as a community, addressed the incident of sexual harassment that occurred at Readercon 23.

 

Crystal hugging Major Ursa, the stuffed polar bear.

I’m just amused by this photo shoot Worldcon 75 asked me to do with a stuffed polar bear.

I usually don’t write an eligibility post for any awards, and have some trepidation about doing so now. Historically speaking, women are punished for doing self-promotion. Heck, there are several think pieces about how Hilary Clinton’s popularity plummeted any time she asked for a promotion. It was really disheartening. Women and other marginalized people are penalized for promoting diversity of any kind, which is something we’re inherently doing when we’re doing self-promotion and are of a less-privileged identity.

In terms of being the change I wish to see in the world, though, I’ve decided to post this and see how it goes. I  support all the women, People of Color, trans folks, and others who are debating doing similarly. Having been on the receiving end of death threats for my feminist work in fandom, I recognize that everyone should make their own threat assessments and decisions on this topic. Here’s hoping it goes well.

There’s a crowdsourced compilation of Hugo-eligible works available in this spreadsheet, btw, for those who are interested — you may have forgotten some work you wanted to nominate, but maybe someone else can remind you!

PS: If you aren’t sure how Hugo nominations work or whether you are able to nominate, I covered that in a more recent blog post on Worldcon membership benefits. I’m also happy to answer questions, if you have any.

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Filed under Fandom, Helsinki, Hugo Awards, Personal, Readercon, Worldcon

Arisia 2016 Schedule

I am quite active at Arisia this year (even in comparison with previous years)!

B&w photo of Crystal wearing goggles in Finland

Crystal can wear a pair of goggles like a pro, yo!

Friday at 5:30 pm in Marina 1
SUPERGIRL!

Friday at 7 pm in Faneuil
GENRE FICTION IN TRANSLATION

Saturday at 4 pm in Marina 4
MY FRIEND WROTE A BOOK; DO I HAVE TO BUY IT?

Saturday at 5:30 pm in Burroughs
CULTURAL ASSUMPTIONS IN SFF

Saturday at 9 pm in Room 666
WORLDCON 75 PARTY!!! (open to all Arisia attendees)

Sunday at 4 pm & Monday at 11:30 am in Independence Room (both sessions)
WORKSHOP TO COMBAT IMPOSTOR SYNDROME

 

Friday at 5:30 pm in Marina 1
SUPERGIRL!
“Although not (as of yet) connected to the rest of the TV DC Universe, the new Supergirl show is both a hit, and a blast to watch. We’ll talk about the first half-season of the show, what it means to have a positive female hero on the small screen as a headliner, and how the creators are reinterpreting a familiar mythos through an amazing new lens. We’ll also discuss the verve Melissa Benoist brings to the title role, and the dual roles played so well by Laura Benanti.”
My co-panelists are Adam LipkinSharon Sbarsky, Gordon Linzner, and Cassandra Lease.
I have already warned them about how much prep I’ve done for this panel. It may be EPIC. I may pull out various feelings about feminism and liking imperfect things. I imprinted heavily on the 80s Supergirl movie when I was a child. Seriously.

Friday at 7 pm in Faneuil
GENRE FICTION IN TRANSLATION
“Cixin Liu’s _The Three-Body Problem_, translated by Ken Liu, won the Hugo for Best Novel. Clarkesworld’s recent foray into translating Chinese SF has brought some well deserved attention to the vibrant body of stories in that country. Haikasoru has made a name for itself translating works from Japanese, and Tor.com has recently published SF stories translated from Spanish. What possibilities do we see in translation of other cultures’ SF? How might this change the landscape of the genre?”
I’m moderating this panel, with Ken LiuJohn Chu, Sarah Weintraub, and Morgan Crooks.
I plan to bring in plenty of stories the Finns have been telling me about SFF translation work, and we shall plumb the depths of what’s out there and what’s coming up in translation. Likely this conversation will include some structural racism of the genre. Good times, I promise you!

Saturday at 4 pm in Marina 4
MY FRIEND WROTE A BOOK; DO I HAVE TO BUY IT?
“This panel will discuss etiquette for friends of authors and other creators. How do we support their endeavors without going broke or feeling obligated to attend every signing. What do we do when we don’t like their creations and are asked (or feel it’s expected) to give a reaction?”
I’m moderating this panel, with participants Timothy Goyette, Kourtney Heintz, Deborah Kaminski, and Archangel Beth.
This is a panel where I will confess all of my sins that are on-topic, so I half hope none of my friends show up … but actually, I promise to give practical as well as funny advice on this topic, as well as address some of the more sensitive aspects of the question. What is friendship, when money becomes involved? This is another aspect of that question.

Saturday at 5:30 pm in Burroughs
CULTURAL ASSUMPTIONS IN SFF
“Recent novels such as *The Three Body Problem*, *The Grace of Kings*, and *Throne of the Crescent Moon* join other works that challenge the cultural assumptions behind mainstream (American and English) science fiction and fantasy. How are these genres being reimagined beyond just making the space cowboys swear in Mandarin?”
John Chu is moderating this one, with Max Gladstone, Kiini Ibura Salaam, and John Scalzi on the panel.
This panel is going to be amazing, and you should come to all of my panels, but this one especially. I love Firefly, and we’re totally going to address Firefly’s racism. Also, I have some book recommendations you all want to get in on! I know where to find all the cool books doing the awesome shit.

Saturday at 9 pm in Room 666
WORLDCON 75 PARTY!!! (open to all Arisia attendees)
We shall offer some Finnish delights (which are totally different from Turkish delight), and some prizes! Some books! Some music! It’ll be great. Come visit us in Room 666, where apparently we still can’t get past the impression that we’ll nickname the Helsinki Worldcon something evil. 😉


I’m also going to be offering TWO FREE WORKSHOPS to address Impostor Syndrome at Arisia.

Sunday at 4 pm & Monday at 11:30 am
Location: Independence Room (both sessions)

“Impostor Syndrome: the feeling that you aren’t really qualified for the work you are doing and will be discovered as a fraud. Many women, People of Color, QUILTBAG persons, and others from marginalized groups deal with this feeling, especially when they’ve been socialized to value other’s opinions of their work above their own. This workshop includes practical methods of addressing one’s own Impostor Syndrome as well as suggestions for how to improve one’s community. Limit 15 (due to room size).”

This workshop is usually given at a cost of $200 per person (or a company pays for their employees to take the workshop). In 2016, I’ve pledged to offer 12 workshops for free to nonprofits, and these sessions are toward that pledge. I care about the Arisia, Inc. community and want to help make fandom a better place. This is one way I’m working toward those goals.

After taking my workshop, participants have reported higher productivity on projects, improved self-esteem, and better capacity to deal with the negative messages society sends so many of us. I love giving this workshop, and want as many people as possible to take it. I hope to see many of you there this weekend!

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Filed under Fandom, Personal, Professional Life, Worldcon

My Finnish Adoption (Into Fandom)

Why are you with Helsinki in 2017?

While working on the bid for Helsinki to get Worldcon for the first time ever (which is being voted on RIGHT NOW, in case you didn’t know! and you can find out how you can still vote here!) … I’m often asked why I’m with the Finns. Now that there’s a competing bid for Washington, DC, why wouldn’t I join the other Americans? I really should’ve written this post ages ago, but love letters take me time to write and are often embarrassing.  This is most definitely a love letter to Helsinki.

Helsinki harbor is beautiful. With bonus sailboat.

Helsinki is freaking gorgeous. Seriously.

What’s great about Finland?

There are many reasons why one might join the Finns. They’re efficient and get shit done. They’re hilarious once you get to know them. They’re respectful of your space and need for silence. They’re an amazing group of people. Their country is also really damn beautiful, has incredible sights to see, and makes gorgeous and strange art. You’ve got to love a country where reindeer sleigh is a legitimate form of travel.

That’s not why I’m with the Finns, though.

Getting personal

My connection with the Finns is a personal one, but not familial. So far as I’m aware, I don’t have a drop of Nordic blood in my family tree. I’d love to be wrong! But there’s nothing to indicate that I’m biologically related to a Finn.

The first time I’m aware of meeting anyone from Finland was in December of 2011. I attended an international convention on convention-running, Smofcon, and it was actually in Europe for a change. Hells yes, I wanted to go. With some frequent flyer miles donated from a friend, it was actually possible to get there, so hells yes, I went!

I don’t remember much about the Finns from that visit. I definitely met Jukka Halme and Eemeli Aro there, amongst other international fans. Later on, what was more important was that the Finns remembered meeting ME.

Readercon impacted everything, for me

A year later, I chaired my first Readercon. I was nervous because I’d been to only one day of Readercon prior to chairing the convention.

At con, it seemed to go well. I had a good time. Everyone else seemed to, as well. After the con was over, however, an incident of harassment was reported to us. The Readercon board failed to handle it at all well, initially. You can read more about that on the Geek Feminism Wiki (and other, related issues on the Timeline of Incidents). Rose Fox and I organized a reversal of the board’s decision and (in a loooong committee meeting) finished hammering out a public apology and statement of actions we would take as a convention committee (“concom”) to start to address the issue of harassment within Readercon’s community.

That was an incredibly intense time for me. Among other things, I received a metric ton of email, before and after the reversal of the board’s ruling. My inbox could be easily divided into categories:

  • What Readercon (or I) did that we shouldn’t have
  • What Readercon (or I) didn’t do that we should have
  • What Readercon (or I) should do now
  • What Readercon (or I) shouldn’t do now
  • Hatemail in general (lots of it…)
  • Death threats

There were only two emails that fit into that last category, but they were … memorable. I did not appreciate them, shall we say. Who sends death threats to a stranger on the internet? Horrible people, so far as I can tell. To receive death threats over a science fiction convention seemed particularly absurd. By and large, however, my email’s tone was incredibly shouty. Everyone was angry with me, it seemed.

One singular email from Finland

I received one incredible email in that deluge that fit into a category of “other.” Eemeli Aro emailed with a much simpler message. He said that he saw on the internet that something was going down with Readercon. He asked if I was okay. He expressed appreciation for me as a person, and hoped to see me again at a Worldcon in the future.

When I go back and read Eemeli’s email now, it’s a pretty normal-sounding email from one semi-stranger to another on a sensitive subject. At the time, though? He didn’t yell at me or threaten me. He didn’t treat me as someone whose “fannish reputation” was ruined (in fact, he argued it wasn’t). He sent kindness my way.

So when people ask me why I’m with the Finns, that’s the first reason. The Finns reached out and treated me like a real person when it felt like the rest of fandom was screaming at me and might never stop.

Visiting Finland, myself!

After such kindness from the Finns, I figured I wouldn’t be able to afford to visit their country, but I could help the (sadly unsuccessful) bid for Worldcon in 2015. I joined up and threw a few rather popular parties at conventions in the US. Then, due to an incredible salary raise (50%!) in 2013, I suddenly had extra money in my budget. I decided to go to a Finnish SFF convention myself so I could tell people about it from personal experience!

One of the highlights of my year in 2013 was therefore my first Finnish SFF convention, Åcon6.  This was exciting not just because I got to go to a Finnish con for the first time.  It was fantastic in particular because at the end of the convention, I was part of something particularly special and unique as far as I’m aware.

I was officially adopted into Finnish fandom.

My Finnish fannish adoption certificate, signed by Eemeli Aro and Karo Leikomaa. Finnish SFF characters around the border and an alien baby wrapped in a Finnish flag feature prominently in the art.

My Finnish fannish adoption certificate, signed by Eemeli Aro and Karo Leikomaa.

No, really! That happened!

I and a couple of others were called into the bar (the major social space of the con after the function rooms were closed down). There was some laughter, and then, along with three others, I was declared officially an adopted Finnish fan. I have framed the adoption certificate they presented to me, which was drawn by my friend Petri Hiltunen and features several Finnish SFF characters around the border.

I am apparently the alien baby at the top, wrapped in a Finnish flag. I adore this piece of paper. It hangs proudly in my dining room.

I didn’t have to learn any Finnish in order to be accepted into this group, although I have tried to retain basic greetings and courtesies such as “kiitos” and “ole hyvää” (aka “thank you” and “you’re welcome”). I am having great difficulty learning how to roll my R’s, I must say.

Pic of me with Johan and Johan, my new siblings!

Johan and Johan became my new siblings at Åcon6! I make much hay of calling them my siblings. As is my right.

Now I have Finnish siblings!

I wasn’t the only one that Finnish fandom decided to publicly claim that evening. Johan Jönsson, Johan Anglemark, Linnéa Anglemark, and Cheryl Morgan all joined me as siblings. I’m honored to be in such great company! (Cheryl and Linnea weren’t available at the time we took this photo, unfortunately.)

So here’s something I know now about the Finns — they can easily be inspired to do amazing things! They took an offhand remark someone made months prior and from it created this most treasured memory of mine. There was a kind of semi-official ceremony, and they presented us with a very remarkable and unique piece of art. It was fantastic.

(Just saying, Åcon was awesome in 2014, as well. I met Karen Lord! Who is fabulous! I didn’t get adopted there, though.)

Inasmuch as I can sum up …

So, yes. Why am I with the Finns for Worldcon?  I have a great love of the Finns, at this point. I’ve now been to several events with them (in Finland, the US, Canada, the UK, as well as other countries).  I would love to share Finnish fans with Worldcon (and vice versa). The Finns are, frankly, amazing.

If nothing else, a group that gathers for scifi-themed summer picnicking and sings songs to Cthulhu is a group we should all embrace! (Or possibly fear …?)

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Filed under Fandom, Helsinki, Personal, Readercon, Worldcon

Thoughts on Hiring Processes (aka Starting/Building a Team)

I’ve long been fascinated by team dynamics, on paid and volunteer teams.  This week, I read an article that made me think more about the hiring pipeline and methods I utilized at a previous position, and I decided to brush it up a bit, while I’m at it.  A couple of people have asked me about hiring and team building recently.  Seems like it’d be good to have a blog post to point them at.  😉

I was reading a NY Times article titled “Why Some Teams are Smarter Than Others.”  I take issue with the title, a little — what we think of as “smart” differs dramatically around the world, and is highly context-dependent.  The author of the article pulls the term from the referenced studies, though, basically.  They wrote, “On average, the groups that did well on one task did well on the others, too. In other words, some teams were simply smarter than others.”  Doing well on a task is not the same thing as having higher intelligence, in my opinion.

At any rate, this NYT article discussed two study findings that were of interest to me about group dynamics and what makes for a productive, effective team.  The first study referenced found that there were 3 characteristics of a more productive team: higher collaboration (teams not being dominated by one or two louder voices), higher scores on a test that essentially measures empathy, and higher number of women (a group of people who tend to score higher on aforementioned empathy scales).  The second study referenced in the NYT article followed up with analysis of online versus face-to-face “group effectiveness” (aka team cohesion), and found that “the most important ingredients for a smart team remained constant regardless of its mode of interaction: members who communicated a lot, participated equally and possessed good emotion-reading skills.”  The obvious question then becomes, how do you build a team that functions this way?

CLEVER, COMPETENT, AND KIND

Well, I know what that reminds me of!  A few years ago, I sat down to chat with my friend Dan, and he gave me the three best employment requirements I’ve ever heard: CLEVER, COMPETENT, and KIND.  These are required characteristics of anyone I’d like to call a colleague, whether it’s a paid position or volunteer work.  I’ve used these requirements ever since that conversation, and I’m profoundly grateful to Dan for laying it all out for me so simply.

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Filed under Organizational Health, Personal, Professional Life