We Need More “Yes AND” and less “Yes BUT”

In writing, you are told to say, “Yes, BUT”. In improv, you are told to say, “Yes, AND.” I think we all need a bit more of the latter in our real lives right now.
~~
“Yes, the character gained invisibility, BUT now she is blind and begins to freeze to death because the sun’s light passes through her.” This is MEANT to create more problems for the character to solve in a way that impedes their progress, to present opportunities for conflict and setbacks that create tension and drama.
 
VS
 
“Yes, your character is invisible, AND they work in a funeral home.” Or “Yes your character is invisible, AND they cannot speak.” This presents opportunities by combining the elements.
~~
 
In the real world, Yes AND leads to growth, and progress. Yes, BUT leads to feeling shot down, patronized, or to conflict and argument.
~~
“Yes, that is one idea, BUT you didn’t consider X and Z so your idea is flawed/bad.” “Yes, that is one idea, BUT I think this other idea should be considered instead.”
 
VS
 
“Yes, I like X aspect of your idea, great job, AND we should also consider these other ideas, so we can build on your idea together to create something even better.”
~~
 
I feel like the Left has been sabotaged by too much Yes BUT. Yes, black lives matter, BUT. Yes, that women’s march was huge, BUT. Yes, that is a great way to fight Trump, BUT you ignored that this group over here cannot fight that way so your way is bad.
 
I hope we can do more Yes, AND.
 
Not ignore the instances where privilege and blindspots and omissions may be hurtful or harmful, but say Yes you are fighting a good fight, AND we also have this group/ concern over here, AND here’s how we can build on each other’s efforts and lift each other up rather than beat each other down while the real problem goes unaddressed.
 
“Yes, Randy, BUT …”

Share

Occupy Marching Forward

Seeing the millions of people marching yesterday was inspirational, and the perfect counterbalance to the events of the previous day.

Thank you!

Women's March

But when I woke up this morning, my brain couldn’t help but wonder, what’s next?

It is the day after the march.  Although millions marched, they weren’t even mentioned on Fox News today (how odd!).  And Trump will surely be as delusional and in denial about them as he was about the “millions” who attended his inauguration.

But the marches were not just “preaching to the choir.”  Those in power surely took notice.  Millions of people of all genders, ages, colors, ability and orientation have become actively engaged, and that is no small thing, and not easily ignored — if it continues. If it leads to something.

If I have any concern at this point, it is that this surge of activism will go the way of Occupy Wall Street.

When that movement began, I was hopeful that it would rise up to be the Progressive counter to the Tea Party.  But while the Tea Party was generally united toward specific goals, organized, well-funded, and effectively took over the government from the bottom up, Occupy Wall Street never overcame its beginnings as a sit-in with split focus, unclear demands, little leverage and no real plan to actually effect change.

When I heard one reporter saying how the marchers had struggled with messaging in some cases because, of course, different marchers had different motives and goals and priorities, I felt a brief cloud pass over the bright sun that was the march.

And it seems like other attempts to forge a “Left” movement with equal influence (but more reason and reality-based policy) than the Tea Party also fell away with little effect due (based on my admittedly limited and non-expert understanding) to a lack of cohesion, a lack of strategy and organization, or fell victim to the distractions of infighting and self-policing.

So my personal hope today is that the spirit of activism and participation that swept the country, and the world, yesterday will resolve itself into sustained and effective action.

Here are just a couple of resources that may be helpful with that:

Indivisible Guide is “A practical guide for resisting the Trump agenda where former congressional staffers reveal best practices for making Congress listen.”  It outlines how you can invest your time to best effect, what doesn’t actually work; and, importantly, there is a lookup for finding a local group of fellow Indivisible participants to join: https://www.indivisibleguide.com/

 

Jezebel’s list of pro-women, pro-immigrant, pro-earth and anti-bigotry organizations we can donate money and time to: http://jezebel.com/a-list-of-pro-women-pro-immigrant-pro-earth-anti-big-1788752078

 

VolunteerMatch is a website where you can search for local, and virtual, volunteer opportunities.  I am very happy with my current volunteer positions I found through this site: http://www.volunteermatch.org/

 

And of course, we must act locally so that we have the strength to prevent voter disenfranchisement and to push back at Federal power when it is abused.

 

I am cautiously hopeful for the future.  Not because I hope that Trump and the GOP will suddenly do anything different than the self-serving and destructive actions they’ve promised to do, but because you all have given me hope, you who marched and shouted and stood up to be heard, that together we will push back and prevent, or undo, their damage with time, with hard work, with love for one another.

 

Thank you.

 

And now, I’m going to continue looking at all those amazing photos of marches around the world and grinning ear to ear.

 

Good luck!  And may the Force be with you.

Princess Leia Join the Resistance


Share

Rise Up – they are coming for our art and history

When you close your eyes and think of ancient Egypt, ancient Rome, feudal Japan, what do you see? What symbolizes “Vikings” to you? If you had to make a person walk into a room and have an “experience” (without food or drink) that is French, or Irish, or Mexican, what would you do? How do you know what life as a musketeer might have been like? How do you know what gods the ancient Greeks worshiped, and how they acted?
 
Indiana Jones

I hate Nazis, snakes, and rich people who think art is only meant for rich people.

How many people knew who Alexander Hamilton was before 2015?
 
What is the book “The Crucible” about, and what inspired it?
 
How many lives did Dorothea Lange’s photographs save, how much hidden history did they preserve?
 
Art (writing, painting, theater, dance, music, et al) is important not only as entertainment, but also as expression, history, education, and provocation. Art is also one of the most defining and enduring attributes of a culture.
 
What defines American culture to the world beyond McDonalds and Starbucks in every town? In 100 years when someone is making a holovid about the period, how will they evoke “Early 21st century America”? How will they learn about experiences not captured in mainstream media, or the increasingly constrained press?
 
We need the arts. They may not seem important in the day-to-day life of many, but those lives have in fact been touched and shaped by the arts in a thousand invisible, and visible, ways.
The Electric Company
And that doesn’t even touch on the fact that many rural and low-income areas rely on PBS and on arts program funding to have any access to the arts, free educational experiences, and the opening of options and opportunities. When coupled with an Education Secretary who’s made it her life’s work to shift funding and support away from public schools to private and charter schools, this aspect is even more important.
 
There was a recent WWII movie called The Monuments Men about Allied art experts fighting to save art from Nazi theft and destruction. A new fight to preserve a nation’s cultural heritage may be upon us, and that culture is our own.
 
The Monuments Men

The Republicans are closing in!

The Republicans have tried many times to undermine and defund the National Endowment for the Arts, usually because it supported something that dared challenge what they have deemed is appropriate for us to experience. And now supposedly Trump has said he wants to defund the NEA.  He wants to defund a program that coincidentally supports non-dominant, non-mainstream voices and experiences from being expressed and preserved.
 
Don’t let it happen.
Rise up and let your voice be heard.
Hamilton the Musical

Share

Bigfootloose Paperback Release Day, and Finn Fancy Giveaway!

Bigfootloose and Finn Fancy Free is now out in Trade Paperback! (links below)

Now is the perfect time to jump into the series if you have not already, with book 3 coming out in March to complete the trilogy arc.

In fact, Tor has re-posted the first three chapters to book 1 on the Fantastic Firsts online series if you want to check it out, and is also sponsoring a Goodreads Giveaway for book 1.

Bigfootloose and Finn Fancy Free

About Bigfootloose: In this sequel to Randy Henderson’s acclaimed debut novel, Finn Fancy Necromancy, Finn Gramaraye is settling back into the real world after his twenty-five-year-long imprisonment in the otherworld of the Fey. He’s fallen in love with a woman from his past, though he worries she may love a version of him that no longer exists. He’s proved his innocence of the original crime of Dark Necromancy, and he’s finding a place in the family business–operating a mortuary for the Arcane, managing the magical energies left behind when an Arcane being dies to prevent it from harming the mundane world.

But Finn wants more. Or different. Or something. He’s figured out how to use the Kinfinder device created by his half-mad father to find people’s True Love, and he’d like to convert that into an Arcane Dating Service. It’s a great idea. Everyone wants True Love! Unfortunately, trouble always seems to find Finn, and when he agrees to help his friend, the Bigfoot named Sal, they walk right into a Feyblood rebellion against the Arcane Ruling Council, a rebellion being fomented by unknown forces and fueled by the drug created by Finn’s own grandfather.

 

 

Links for Book 2: Bigfootloose and Finn Fancy Free:

Bigfootloose Trade PB on Amazon

Bigfootloose Trade PB at University Bookstore (Seattle)

Bigfootloose Trade PB at Powell’s (Portland)

Bigfootloose Trade PB at Mysterious Galaxy (CA)

Bigfootloose Trade PB at Tattered Cover (CO)

Bigfootloose Trade PB at Barnes & Noble

 

For UK readers, it remains available in paperback from Titan UK at:

Bigfootloose at Amazon UK

Bigfootloose at Waterstones (UK)

 

 

Links for Book 3: Smells Like Finn Spirit:

Smells Like Finn Spirit (Tor US) on Amazon

Smells Like Finn Spirit (Tor US) at University Bookstore (Seattle)

Smells Like Finn Spirit (Tor US) at Powell’s (Portland)

Smells Like Finn Spirit (Tor US) at Mysterious Galaxy (CA)

Smells Like Finn Spirit (Tor US) at Tattered Cover (CO)

Smells Like Finn Spirit (Tor US) at Barnes & Noble

 

And for UK readers, it is available at (among other booksellers):

Smells Like Finn Spirit at Amazon UK

Smells Like Finn Spirit at Waterstones (UK)


Share

Where Are the Interactive Books We Were Promised?

CYOA and Adventure Gamebooks

One of my big nerdjoy moments recently was when I found a virtual Choose your Own Adventure book while adventuring in Skyrim, titled Kolb and the Dragon.

And that got me remembering all the big predictions and promises at the dawn of ebooks and tablet computing about living, interactive books.

And that made me think of all the awesome IF games I used to enjoy, such as Zork and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

And then I ran downstairs to our library and grabbed a handful of my “interactive” books, pictured above.

There are, of course, the classic CYOA books, like Space Vampire, and the awesome new breed of CYOA books, like the Choose-o-matic series from Matt Youngmark.  

In fact, he did create one specifically intended to be easily played on your tablet or phone: U, Robot.

U, Robot by Matt Youngmark

Some CYOA books, such as Wizards, Warriors and You, present an option in the story itself to choose between a set of characters, and then continue the adventure as the chosen character, increasing the variety of readings.

But there were also books that tried to take it even further, incorporating character stats and other RPG elements. 

Read more


Share

Bigfootloose Paperback plus UK Cover for SLFS!

I am pretty terrible about updating folks on Finn Fancy world, so here’s two quick exciting updates:

First, UK Cover for Smells Like Finn Spirit (from Titan UK), where they continue the fun 8-bit art theme!

Smells Like Finn Spirit UK Cover

And here’s the US cover from TOR again just for fun:

Smells Like Finn Spirit

 

Read more


Share

Setting your Goals for 2017

Happy New Year!

I thought I’d once again offer a bit of new year’s encouragement and advice to help with the coming year.  While this is aimed primarily at my fellow writers, the same advice can also, I think, be applied to most any goal or creative pursuit, and to life in general, so just replace “writer” or “write” with whatever your passion is.

This weekend, I encourage you to sit down and do three things:

1) Create a calendar/schedule for your goals and tasks.

2) Create, or update, your list of goals and tasks.

3) BELIEVE, and do what makes you happy.

2017 will also certainly be a particularly important year to be active in supporting and fighting for what is important to you, without giving in to despair or in to anger that harms yourself. Here is a starting point for that: http://www.randy-henderson.com/2016/11/what-now/

Read more


Share

What Now? One Possible Option

The future remains in our hands.

Whether you woke up today feeling gutted, or terrified, or victorious, and regardless of who wins an election, the things that you can do to be happy and healthy remain much the same.  Except now I feel one of those things takes on even more importance.

Before I offer it, I want to say of course, please take care of yourself.  I’ve written before about the four areas that can impact your happiness – physical, mental, emotional and social.   That article is aimed at writers, but the basic points apply to everyone.  Always put on your own oxygen mask before helping others.

And I hope you all are safe, and remain so.

Now let me ask: what were your concerns in the election, or for the coming four years?

Advocacy & Human Rights, Environment, Immigrants & Refugees, Women, LGBT, Crisis Support, Education & Literacy, Employment, Homeless & Housing, Justice & Legal, People with Disabilities, Politics, Race & Ethnicity, Veterans & Military Families?

This list of categories (and others) is found on http://www.volunteermatch.org/, a site that lets you search for local volunteer opportunities.

This is what I wanted to suggest to help get us through the days ahead: volunteering.  It has been shown to add greatly to a person’s happiness and health.  In fact, “community involvement” was one of the measurements used to determine my total health when I filled out a recent health questionnaire.

EDIT: Adding a link to an excellent list of organizations that you can also donate money to either in addition to, or instead of (if time/ ability does not allow) volunteering: Jezebel’s list of pro-women, pro-immigrant, pro-Earth, anti-bigotry organizations

You can search sites like volunteermatch, or can search Google for specific organizations that support the causes you care about.

These organizations needed our help yesterday, but they will need our help even more perhaps tomorrow.

I myself have volunteered in the past, but admit I have fallen away from it in recent years, giving only money, always feeling it “wasn’t a good time” to commit some of my time just now.  I am recommitting to it now, making it a priority to protect some time each week to help others.  It is something concrete and positive I am able to do, that I have the privilege to be able to do.

I recognize volunteering does not easily erase the scope of damage that the US government can do with trickle-down economic policies, or ignoring global climate change, or hardline immigration policies, or rolling back decades of progress on civil and personal rights, or, you know, nuclear weapons.

But we can help offset much of that damage I hope, help those hurt by such outcomes, and perhaps even pressure change in the right direction.

And I certainly do not wish to diminish the real fears and concerns of those who have been targeted these past months with hateful speech and threats by suggesting volunteering will make those dangers magically disappear.  Again, I hope you are safe, and my thoughts are with you.

I also recognize that there are some people who are genuinely unable to volunteer due to the burden of time, or access to the transportation or resources needed, or due to age or physical or health or legal limitations or other considerations.

Regardless of whether or not community involvement is an option for you, again I hope you take care of your own health and happiness in the coming days and years, and reach out for help if you are in need.

Share love with your family and friends.  Perform a random act of kindness today for a stranger to help lift your heart and theirs — then do it again the next day, and the next.

And know that we can get through whatever comes, together.

 

UPDATE: I have begun one regular volunteer job, and added several regular donations to my budget.  I hope to do even more as time and funds allow.


Share

The Real 2016 Election Map

I created this handy election map in case folks were trying to understand where we stand.
Polls show that much of the blue areas are due to Hobbit, High Elvish and Good Wizard influence, thus the movement to #unmakethe3rings that gave the elves and Gandalf power to influence the vote, and the push to send all Hobbits back to the Shire and build a wall around them.
Per Sauron, “It would be great. It wouldn’t even have to be a tall wall. Have you seen the Hobbits? Even smaller than those fat ugly dwarves. But believe me folks, there’s nothing small about me.”
Middle Earth Election 2016

Share

Why I Talked to Word Sluts at WorldCon

I found myself in a number of conversations at WorldCon where persons were seeking my advice or thoughts on their writing, or seeking advice of a group in which I sat, and would say some variation on:

“People seem to have a problem with me calling it Warrior Wanda the Space Slut.  But I mean slut in a positive or ironic way, because she is a powerful woman so she can have sex with whoever she likes.”

Or

“I have a pretty graphic rape scene in my novel, but if I didn’t have it she wouldn’t have that motivation to get stronger from it and learn to fight that is so important in my story.”

These persons were clearly seeking someone to say, yes, that is okay.

And I engaged in these conversations in a calm, friendly, positive way.

Why?

Because I have the privilege to do so.

By this, I do not mean the honor, though really it is an honor to be asked my opinion on anything.  Rather, I mean that had such questions been asked of someone who identifies as female, for example, such questions would have been understandably offensive and anger-inducing, and made the person feel unsafe, along with a host of other reactions.

I’m not saying I found the questions pleasant and encouraging, but I recognize that my con experience as a cis white male who presents as het is entirely different from that of anyone who is other than that.

So while I cringed internally, I did not walk away, or mock these persons then, or later with my friends.   I gave them a clear but disgust-free expression of “Oooooo, I wouldn’t do that,” and proceeded to lay out in positive terms how they could improve their stories, and their chances of reaching a broader audience.

Here is an example of the types of thing I try to say in these cases, with the goal not being to score points or put him in his place, but to help guide the writer in the right direction where they will hopefully learn for themselves in time what cannot be forced into their understanding in a single argument (And to be clear, I am not in any way saying there are not other approaches, or that outright anger is in any way not a valid response for others to have):

Read more


Share