Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Hugos, Puppies and Glee. Oh My....

Just getting back from a weekend of family Easter-y things and bonus college visit so it's time to catch my breath and take in this weekend's announcement.  I'm finding it a little difficult to express how thrilled and honored I am that Verity! has been nominated for a Hugo Award in the Fancast category.  This is a project that has consumed massive quantities of time, all given willingly and (mostly) cheerfully. It is something I think about every day, and work on nearly as much.  Don't get me wrong, last year's nomination for Chicks Unravel Time was pretty amazing, but books are a different beast.  The lead time for a book is considerable so by the time it is actually published you've moved onto the next thing and its become a sort of "what I did on my summer vacation" memory. (Seriously, all of a sudden the hand wringing, deadline anxiety, copy edit wrangling is wrapped up in a hazy fondness. Much like childbirth, you tend to gloss over the pain!) But Verity! is very immediate. It's what I did last week, it's what I'm doing today, and what I'll be doing next month.   And I couldn't be more pleased. So hats off to Erika, Kat, Liz, Lynne and Tansy - we made a really cool thing.  Just as importably, hats off to all the Doctor Who Podcasts who supported us, offered assistance and set the bar amazingly high (I'm looking at you, Radio Free Skaro). We couldn't have done it without you.

What else is making me happy about this year is SO MANY of my nominations made the ballot.* I'm particularly pleased that Aliette de Bodard was nominated for her novelette The Waiting Stars. Her work just keeps getting better and better. Lee Harris of Angry Robots is another happy making nom. Angry Robots' range keeps surprising me so kudos to the team. The entire, incredibly diverse "Best Related Works" category is fantastic, with a special shout-out to book-cousin "Queers Dig Time Lords" edited by Michael Damien Thomas and Sigrid Ellis. And check out the Best Fan Writer nominees! I literally squeaked when they were announced. How can I choose the best out of THAT line-up?  Collectively they've put out hard-hitting, gut-wrenching and incredibly impactful pieces that not only examine SF/F but the SF/F fandom and gender politics. I'll also admit a soft spot for Paul Cornell's "The Girl Who Loved Doctor Who", nominated for Best Graphic Story. And not only because Verity! is vaguely referenced. It really is a charming love letter to all that is good in Doctor Who.

My Verity! cohorts  have also done very well for themselves.  Tansy Rayner Roberts has the distinction of competing against herself as her own podcast, Galactic Suburbia, has also been nominated for Best Fancast.  Lynne M. Thomas has once again been nominated for Apex Magazine. Well deserved nom to top off her final, triumphant year as editor. (I had an essay published in Apex in 2013 so I'm basking in a bit of reflected glory....)  All in all, 2014's ballot is diverse, representative and filled with things I love. (Five-ish Doctors! Vote Five(ish) Doctors!)

Then there's the Sad Puppy Campaign. Whatever. The downside of a democratic process is that someone, somewhere will find some way to the job the system. Is it illegal? No. Is it distasteful? Yes. For the record, I have NO problem whatsoever with a creator announcing their eligible works. A year is a long time to have things stick around in crowded brain spaces. I also don't have a problem with anyone (creator or fan) telling me who they're voting for or who they'd recommend. There have been more than one instance where I've discovered amazing works that hadn't hit my radar thanks to recommendations made by someone whose work I admire. What I do have a problem with is someone making the nomination a political "shove-it-up-their-arse" move.  But, perhaps naively, I have faith in the inherent decency of people. I hope that all of those who bought memberships simply for political reasons find something in the voting package that blows their socks off, expands their world-view and makes them rethink their life choices. They probably won't, but it's possible. I hope that the cream rises to the top, on its own merit. I hope that, this year more than ever, votes are cast thoughtfully and with great conviction. Yes, name recognition is often a deciding factor when someone has run out of time, or interest, in a category but I hope people give this year's votes more care.  The award, and ALL the nominees, deserve that consideration.

This year's ballot may be slightly tarnished, but I'm choosing to bask in the good. There is an awful lot to be happy about. So, congratulations to all the nominees! May the odds be ever in your favor. ;-)

*I'll save my ranting about the lack of a YA category for another day. Because...really? 

Friday, April 18, 2014

I was doing some housekeeping at the Verity! blog when I decided to pop in here for a dust and tidy as well...which is when I realized I hadn't updated since last summer. Crikey, how did THAT happen?! All I can say is thank you internet gods for The Twitters because some days 140 characters is just a about all I have time for.

Lots of things are happening, both personally and professionally but, to be honest, the personal is sucking all the air out of the room at the moment. The Eldest Child is down to the wire in making his choice for University. Having so many options is a *good* problem but it still is taking up a lot of brain space and family time as we do one last whip round of school visits.

On another personal note I have finally succumbed to the lure of the Mac. I'm writing this post on a shiny, new MacBook Air which I have fallen madly in love with. It's been a short, passionate affair that goes something like this:

Day 1:  Shiny!!!
Day 2:  Shiny, shiny toy!
Day 3:  Oh dear god, what have I done?
Day 4:  Okay, this isn't so bad...
Day 5:  I..think I'm getting the hang of this.
Day 6:  Okay, I know I still have things to learn, but I'm really liking this...
Day 7:  Forgive me Saint Jobs! All these years...wasted. Never leave me, you darling machine.

I know there are still frustrating days ahead but consider me a full-fledged consumer of the Apple Kool-Aid.

In a more serious note, Emma Vieceli recently wrote an excellent post on the limits of film production when it comes to female-driven properties. This topic has been nudging its way to the front of the brain queue as we're poised on the brink of the "summer blockbuster" season. Last summer Linda Holmes, of the NPR blog Monkeysee and Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast, wrote a fantastic article on finding women in the movies. (Hint: it wasn't easy.) I'll be looking at this more in the very near future. Will this summer see something different or will we be, as in 2013, looking at another "solid, impenetrable wall of movies about dudes"? Hmmmm....

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Comings and Goings

Just got back from a relaxing week on Hatteras Island which, other than Ocracoke Island, is my favorite spot on the Outer Banks. It was a fantastic relaxing vacation with lots of family time and more than one cut-throat game of Uno. ProTip: my children are vicious card players, do not trust their innocent faces.

As mad as summer was (swim team - I'm looking at you) school is right around the corner and we're getting ready to settle into a new rhythm. It also means I get to reclaim a bit more writing time in the day and finally focus on the projects that have, sadly, been feeling some neglect.

But first, I have done things and will be going places!

I had a blast guesting on a few podcasts: On Radio Free Skaro #380 I joined Steven, Warren and Chris for a commentary on THE CRIMSON HORROR, one of my favorite epiosdes of Season 7B.  Then I bumped into Sean and Steve at the The TARDIS Tavern where we chatted about Season Six's THE GOD COMPLEX, the brilliance of which is often overlooked in favor of the showier THE DOCTOR'S WIFE and THE GIRL WHO WAITED. We may have also touched on gender issues and the backlash against a female Doctor but hey, this is me - would you expect anything less? ;-)

This week is the biggie - The World Science Fiction Convention, aka WorldCon aka LoneStarCon in San Antonio. I'll be doing a few panels:

It's Time to Crowdsource a Firefly Movie
Friday 19:00 - 20:00
Crowdsourcing a cult movie like a Firefly sequel should be a given, right? So if Veronica Mars can raise 5 million, how much could be raised for Firefly? And why hasn't it been done yet?
Angela Standridge, (M), Jeanne Mealy, Joy Bragg-Staudt, Deborah Stanish

Geeks in Popular CultureSaturday 10:00 - 11:00
The changing portrayal of geeks in media, comics and pop culture in general.
Michael Underwood (M), Lynne M. Thomas, Jason M. Hough, Deborah Stanish

Oddly enough, I will NOT be chatting about Doctor Who at WorldCon but such are the vagaries of programming (and I don't envy them their job).  I will be talking about it a little at the Hugo Award Ceremony on Sunday where Chicks Unravel Time is up against four other fabulous books for the Best Related Work Award. I mean, I'm sure Doctor Who will come up in conversation a little. ;-)

This is my first WorldCon and I'm really looking forward to the experience. There are people I can't wait to see again, people I'm looking forward to meeting "in real space" for the first time and people that I didn't even know I've been missing my whole life. Such is the way of the con. 

In October I'll be at New York Comic Con for "50 Years of Doctor Who" held on Saturday, October 12 at 11:15. This will be a fun panel with Ken Deep, J.K. Woodward, Barnaby Edwards, Graeme Burk and Robert Smith?

And, of course, in November I'll be at Long Island Who with all sorts of fabulous people - but more on that as we get closer.  In the meantime, go buy tickets now before the prices go up at the end of this month!

There are a few other cool things in the works that haven't quite been formally announced yet so I'll hold off.  And of course, there is LOTS to talk about with Verity! but I think I'll save that for another post. 

Finally, it's almost September! I know it's only phantom crispness in the air (Summer never knows when to leave the party after all) but I can feel the changing seasons in my bones and it is good. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Currency, Words and the Power of a Collective: Why I Observed #twittersilence

Yesterday an awful lot of people chose to go silent on Twitter.  An awful lot of people chose not to.  I chose to be silent. 

#Twittersilence itself was complicated.  There was no real organization and no clear agenda. Were we being silent to protest the heinous and violent threats that women receive on Twitter? Were we being silent to send a message Twitter, and social media a large, that these threats need to be taken seriously as opposed to being the natural result of being part of the internet.  Was it a show of solidarity to the people, not just women, that they are not alone in their outrage?


I can't speak for others on why they chose to participate but for me, it was a numbers decision. While I like to think that common decency prevails at a corporate level that's not reality. The reality is that until mainstream media got their hooks into the story of Caroline Criado-Perez's ordeal after having the audacity to campaign for a woman to appear on a bank note, Twitter execs pretty much threw up their hands and said there was nothing they could do.  

But once the rumble became a roar and more women started coming forward and more people started talking about it Twitter decided that, whoops, you know what?  Maybe we can do something about it.  That is the power of a collective

But, dear readers, I'm a cynic. Social media sites don't exactly have the best track records when it comes to dealing with threats of violence- usually sexual – against women.  Facebook has tap danced around this issue saying these threats are simply "crude humor".  But do you know what stings? When the bottom line is threatened.  Or, in the case of Facebook, when activists went straight to the money – the advertisers.

Twitter is a little different.  Yes, there are "promoted' tweets but the real currency of Twitter is words.  Twitter is marketplace where users are both the consumers and producers. Twitter provides the infrastructure for this exchange but without the producers and consumer it is just an empty shell.   We ARE the content.

So, I removed my currency for a day.

Do I think some idiot hiding behind his laptop and anonymity saw I wasn't tweeting yesterday and rethought his life choices?  Please.  But you know what? #twittersilence was a trending topic and even if you disagreed with the delivery the message was the same – we (we the "humans", not we the "women", to paraphrase NPR's Linda Holmes) are not simply going to "deal with it".

I read a comment this morning that said if all the reasonable voices leave, Twitter will be no better than 4chan.  


I'm not going to debate how socially relevant you think 4Chan but, is the Library of Congress archiving 4Chan's forums?  Do you see 4Chan messages scrolling across the bottom of your television screen during key broadcast events? Twitter has power and we're the ones who give it that power. 

I don't expect the internet to be filled with puppies and rainbows.  I know people disagree with me, and that's good.  Discourse is what makes the internet a valuable tool.  Name calling?  Puerile but whatever, it happens.  Threats of physical and/or sexual violence?  Not acceptable.  

Yesterday, that was the message I sent.  I hope Twitter follows through on its promises.  I hope social media at-large recognizes that this is unacceptable and these threats should be treated as hate speech and given the same level of consideration.  I hope people look at the message of #twittersilence, whether participants were silent or chose instead to tweet positive messages, and realize that we, the collective, have power.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Books, Writers and Girls on Who

This has been a very Who-centric week.  It started off with a Doctor Who Book event at the infamous The Way Station in Brooklyn (preceded by a delightfully bellini-soaked brunch) where I got to spend the afternoon talking about Chicks Unravel Time in the company of Graeme Burk and Robert Smith? (Who is the Doctor, Outside In) Arnold T. Blumberg of ATB Publishing as well as Barnaby Edwards of Who New York and the fabulous group of fans who are part of the New York group.  Lots of good books and even better company.

 (Unexpected Bill Evenson, Graeme Burk, me, Robert Smith? at The Way Station March 24, 2013)

And, of course, this week marks the return of the Doctor Who on our television screens with "The Bells of Saint John" on BBC America on Saturday night.  It has been too long.  This means planning a frankly crazy Verity! recording schedule.  We're foregoing our bi-weekly format to record new episodes every week because, honestly, how can we not talk about it?

There have been a few things dimming the joy. I'm not going to talk about the furor surrounding the John Nathan-Turner bio because we are reviewing it for Verity! and we will have our say then. That was quickly followed on the heels by the SHOCKING claim that Doctor Who hasn't had a female writer in over 60 episodes.  The indignation was palpable. The claim that Doctor Who SHOULD have more female writers (and the very excellent reasons for this) were soon overshadowed by stats for both the show, tie-in novels and audios.  They are, frankly, appalling.

But it's not news.  At least not to most female fans.  The the backstage gender imbalance in Doctor Who has been talked about and debated for years. It was almost charming to see the scales fall from people's eyes as the discussion reverberated through social media.  Not that this conversation doesn't need to be had but it's not shocking and it's not new. And I don't believe it's particularly misogynistic.  I don't think there's a "no girls allowed" hammered onto the doors of Roath Lock, I think it's much more banal and insidious, the sort of institutional sexism that continues to dog the entertainment industry.

I'm not going to trot out more depressing statistics - you can do that for yourself by clicking on IMDB - but the fact is, it's a guy's world. Guys are commissioning, guys are writing and guys are buying the scripts.  That is, of course, a very broad statement and while there have been inroads, the numbers bear this out.  This is mainly, I think, a matter of comfort.  Entertainment is a business and corporate words like "networking" really do mean something.  When you are working with tight budgets and even tighter deadlines, having a writer you know and trust, or has been vetted by someone you know and trust is huge. I know this from personal experience and have been guilty of the same.

That being said, as I mentioned on Twitter yesterday, some of the most amazing things in my career have happened because I took a risk. Not everything, but enough for me to be willing to always look for that chance.

And that's the thing...while taking that chance can be risky, in the case of Doctor Who the risks are minimal. The pool of amazing, talented female genre writers is not, by any means, shallow.  All writers bring their life experiences and viewpoints to their work, whether overtly or covertly - this is one of main premises of Chicks Unravel Time - and, oh...how I'd love to see more of that female gaze turned toward Doctor Who.  For a show that has a huge female audience to not tap into that potential is really limiting.  We love this show deeply and madly which is why, at the end of the day, we just want to see it do it better.  As someone cleverly quipped, you're making the TARDIS smaller on the inside, not bigger. 

If you're going to trot out the argument that "it's not the gender, but the writing that matters" I want you to think very carefully at what you are implying. And then take a look at the world of published science fiction where women are writing, being nominated for and winning awards in ever increasing numbers.  The talent is there, it just needs to find a crack in the huddle. (Yes, I did just make sports analogy in a science fiction conversation!)

Yesterday on Twitter Farah Mendlesohn threw this on the table: "A challenge for my male writer allies at conventions this Easter; don't just check your panels for parity, check your drink & dinner parties."  As we said on a recent edition of Verity! - the club house is big enough for all us, we just need to make sure we don't lock the door behind us.

Monday, February 11, 2013


In just a few days I'll be on a plane at and ungodly hour in the morning to fly across the country to spend time with some of my favorite people in the world.  It's Gally time!  Or, for those not in the know (and if you're not: Hello, my name is Deb and I sort of love Doctor Who a lot) that would be the convention formally known as Gallifrey One.

If anyone listened to our latest Verity! Podcast knows that I love this particular convention for many reasons:  it is smart, informative, diverse and inclusive.  It is a fannish Morbius* Band where fans are creators and creators are fans and it goes on and on in a glorious, never-ending cycle.  But, most of all, this convention feels like home, a place where you see people that you love, share stories and forge new connections.  It is truly the best time of the year.

This year I'll not only be chatting about Chicks Unravel Time, I'll be hanging with my Verity! girls Erika, Kat and Liz.  We will be handing out the coolest ribbons ever and Erika will be talking about Verity! On the Twin Dilemma panel on Saturday at 4 p.m.

I'll be on a few panels as well:

Editing and Publishing Doctor Who Nonfiction — Saturday 11am, Program B.  This is where I get to talk about Chicks Unravel Time and our fabulous contributors. 

The Next Doctor — Sunday 11:30am, Program DI have opinions!  Also known as "why can't there be a female Doctor?" ;-)

The Shakespeare Code — Sunday 1:30pm Program D.  Really looking forward to this.  The other panelists are brilliant and who doesn't like talking about the Doctor fanboying his way through space and time? 

Please do say hello if you see me at a panel or in the Lobby.  I'd love to hear what you think about Verity! or Chicks Unravel Time or if Troughton really is the only canonical Doctor. (That one is for you Liz!) And don't be offended if I introduce myself to you more than once.  Despite every business trick known to mankind I am truly horrible at connecting faces and names until about the fifth time we've met.  I simply assume everyone else has the same problem so it's easier to start over.  (I've actually forgotten a long-time friend's name mid-conversation - it is bordering pathological.)  Mostly, I just want to be around my tribe again and if you're at Gally, that means you.

See you in a few days!

*Best Typo EVER!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


While there are tons of things I still want to say about Chicks Unravel Time I have to break the holiday-induced blog silence by introducing a brand new project:  Verity!  A Doctor Who Podcast where a rotating cast of six women, from across the globe, talk all things Doctor Who.

Anyone who has met me has heard me discuss (okay, RANT) about the lack of women in the Doctor Who podcast world. Not that they are completely absent, but they are definitely scattered thin on the ground and their numbers are definitely not representative of fandom as a whole. Thanks to a little twitter-instigating by Michael D. Thomas back in October, I took the plunge and got the band together:

Erika Ensign - All-around geek girl who is a favorite guest of many podcasts. She is also our technical guru who handles all the fiddly bits that make the rest of us cringe.
Katrina Griffiths - She of the late, lamented "Bridging the Rift" podcast and current co-host of the "Across the Planet" podcast.
L.M. Myles - My darling Chicks Unravel Time co-editor and contributor to the Big Finish Doctor Who anthologies.
Lynne M. Thomas - multi-Hugo award winner, co-editor of Chicks Dig Time Lords, Whedonistas and Chicks Dig Comics as well as moderator of the SF Squeecast, editor of Apex Magazine and Super Librarian during the day.
Tansy Raynor Roberts - co-host of the Hugo nominated Galactic Suburbia, author of the Creature Court Fantasy trilogy and Love and Romanpunk. She is also a contributor to the Doctor Her blog.

These are all very cool women who I not only respect for their intelligence, wit and accomplishments, but women that I genuinely like and would gladly miss any panel or guest at a con in order to hang out and share drinks and laughter. In fact, this is the vibe we are going for - that smart conversation about something you love that you wish could go on forever.

Not that this will be a podcast filled entirely with love and puppies. We have OPINIONS and very often they are at odds with each other. But don't you think that's more interesting?  I know I do.

We've put a lot of time and thought into the podcast, from our name - inspired by the fabulous Verity Lambert, founding producer of Doctor Who; to our logo - created by Canadian high school student Eleanor Davitt; to our website - while still a work in progress, will feature all sorts of interesting supplemental materials; to, finally, our format.  We are counting down to the 50th anniversary with a retrospective of every Doctor's era, featuring an episode that we feel is representative of that particular Doctor's run. This will certainly be the source of much debate and I can't wait.  We will also be discussing new eps as they air as well as touching on elements of Doctor Who that don't often see the spotlight - from fabulous women in Doctor Who and redeeming ill-used companions to discussing costuming, Doctor Who tat and Big Finish.  All with a feminist eye.

You can download our teaser ep which introduces Verity! or our "weekend waffle" (Episode 0) in which we discuss our introduction to Doctor Who and our goals for the podcast at iTunes or from our website.  There is also a fun Verity! interview with Erika, Liz, Lynne and myself on Episode 342 of Radio Free Skaro. Our first official episode, in which we discuss the Christmas episode drops today, January 2. 

I am so excited about this project.  We love podcasts and we particularly love Doctor Who podcasts.  Verity! will add another, long overdue, voice to the mix.  I think Ms. Lambert would approve.

You can subscribe to us at iTunes (Doctor Who: Verity Podcast), like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.  And of course, subscribe to our Website to keep up with all the cool, extra bits.