RIP – Jay Lake

Posted by ON in Dear Diary

Jay Lake
When I first met Jay Lake, I thought he was a pain in the ass.

He was angry and driven. For whatever reason, I wrote him off as loud, obnoxious, full of himself. Maybe those were parts of Jay, but I didn’t bother to see what else was there. Maybe I just felt threatened by someone so big.

Jay and I clashed on a number topics in our writing group. We were on the opposite side of a hugely contentious group split about our group’s age cut-off.

The final straw came when he wrote an influential rebuttal to what to me was a cartoonish strawman version of my arguments, ignoring my real points in favor of winning. Regardless, it worked. I dropped the whole thing, mostly because I felt fed up with the group. I dropped out for a few years. After that I told myself that my life would be better without Jay in it. I assumed he felt the same about me.

Around the time I rejoined, I was accepted into the Clarion writing workshop. I was unemployed and almost completely out of money. After a hard look at the costs and my dwindling finances, even after receiving a scholarship it was obvious I couldn’t afford to go. I was heartbroken.

As a final effort to pull together enough money, I sent a donation request to my friends, family and, of course, my writing group. My request had been out less than an hour when I got my first response.

Jay, quietly and without fanfare, paypaled me two hundred dollars. He just gave me the money.

When I thanked him, he said, “I never got to go to Clarion. It’d be a tragedy if you couldn’t go just because of money.”

I realized then that the guy who I’d written off as loud, obnoxious, and full of himself, was an intensely complex and thoughtful person. I’d been strawmanning Jay easily as much as I thought he had been me.

I brought the whole thing up years later, and Jay didn’t remember the fight or giving me money. Jay had moved on. It was probably the strongest and simplest lesson anyone has given me.

Who the hell cares who was right? What good does it do to carry our resentments and good deeds around like prizes? I wish I had thought to thank Jay for the lesson.

From reading his incredibly vulnerable online writings, I knew Jay was almost always fatigued, in nearly constant pain and deeply afraid, but the Jay I saw in person over the last few years was kind, open, thoughtful and curious.

The last time I saw Jay, we were presenting ostensibly different views on science, politics & religion on a panel. Jay has always been very clear on his beliefs and very good at articulating them. I was struck by how the Jay, who years ago might have savaged other people’s beliefs, now made a point of saying that just because he disagreed with someone didn’t mean he didn’t need to be fair in presenting their side. At the end of the panel Jay gave me a hug before moving on to his thousand other important obligations.

Jay was good people. I’m honored to have known him.


Drawing the “female form,” the sexist way!

Posted by ON in Dear Diary

Apparently VectorTuts+ misses the good ole days of crappy sexist 50s art lessons.

This delightful little gem popped up on my RSS feed today.

I admit, I was irritated the second I read the title (Why is it always the “Female Form”? It seems we’re always invited to draw “Men” and “The Female Form,” cause we have to maintain objectification at all times.)

Lame title notwithstanding, I clicked the tutorial because my illustration skills are crap and I thought it’d have even a little information about the physiological differences between men and women. One of the first sentences warns us that:

“The most common mistake made by any student of art who wants to draw a female character is thinking about her as a male in high heels and long hair.”

Get it? Har har har.

Get it? Har har har.    (copyright: VectorTuts+)

He also philosophizes on our desires as artists:

“This is because, in most cases, we are surrounded by strong male characters and, regardless of the drawing style, the muscles arouse enormous interest in the artist. Everyone wants to learn how to draw those muscular arms and all those giant veins!”

Ooh la la, do we!

Ooh la la, do we!    (copyright: VectorTuts+)

I love how our author assumes everyone using it is male.

So, I thought he’d go on to give tips about center of gravity, muscle configuration, you know, anatomy, like you’d get in a figure illustration class.

*sigh* But no:

“…females have less muscle detail visible to our eyes, compared to males! Their curves are sweet and their expressions are smooth…”

The author starts with the same basic circle/cross-hair stuff everyone does, but it doesn’t take us long to get to:

“Female eyes have the characteristic of being very expressive, so we need to devote some effort to do something really appealing for our character:”


Dur!    (copyright: VectorTuts+)

“All done—a female character with a good dose of sex appeal!”

Cause that’s all that matters. I love that the author transitions immediately from drawing a “female form” to “Pin-up style.” Because of course, what other reason would you have to draw the 50% of the world that doesn’t have huge, veiny muscles?

“Pin-up style eyes have two basic emotions: “surprise” and “sexy”.”

OH MAH GAWD!  - NyQuil is a powerful drug.

OH MAH GAWD! – NyQuil is a powerful drug.    (copyright: VectorTuts+)

“Note that I just added a slight smile in the second image in order to enhance the seductive look.”

Anyway, it goes on, and on:

“…features that can be used to reinforce the masculinity of a character should be reversed when it comes to a feminine figure”

“Let’s explore the process of making an “average” female body…”

Because average women enjoy tightlacing!

Because average women enjoy tightlacing!    (copyright: VectorTuts+)

But my favorite section is “Flexibility and Sex Appeal

It’s like the author has never seen a single internet critique of stupid comic-book poses.

Crack! Thumbs up for sexism!

Crack! Thumbs up for sexism!    (copyright: VectorTuts+)

“It’s as if your character is wiggling all the time!”

Way to be classy, VectorTuts.

This totally makes me want to pay your exorbitant monthly fee.



Whew! Two weeks running around.

rainbow!I managed to consistently put out episodes of Miranda every Tuesday and Thursday every week since I started the project.

*Ahem* that is until two weeks ago.

Because, reasons. Lot’s of exciting stuff going on. A bunch of travel, then I hosted a week-long profession novel critique workshop on the coast. As far as I can tell, it went great!

I’ve also been slogging on this novel. I ended up needing to restructure the whole thing (thanks for the crits, Coastal Heaven!) which meant throwing away a ton of words, but I think it’ll be a much stronger book in the long run.

Also the usual, work, life, relationship, etc etc etc.

Anyway, this is all a long way of saying… Miranda is back! A new chunk is going up tonight, the exciting conclusion is coming within the next month. We should be back on track for every Tues/Thurs. Watch for new artwork and more!

How organizations get poisoned from within.

I’ve joined Amal El-Mohtar in calling for Theodore Beale‘s expulsion from the Science Fiction Writers Association.


The whole mess with Beale is well outlined by Jim Hines. The short version is that Beale is a racist, a misogynist, and seems to generally enjoy pissing people off. He’s launched a number of personal attacks on other SFWA members, most recently using SFWA’s official twitter stream.




I’ve seen people like Beale poison a number of groups and organizations. The only way I’ve seen groups survive this kind of behavior is to address it directly.


Anyway, here’s the letter I wrote to SFWA:


Hey all,

I want to add my voice to the folks who think the time has come to
take a hard look at Theodore Beale’s membership in SFWA. His recent
attack on N. K. Jemisin (and using the SFWA twitter feed, no less)
would seem to more than qualify as a violation of Article IV Section

I know this is a potentially divisive and sticky path, but I feel like
the long-term damage of having a member like Beale far outweighs the
trouble that will come from addressing this issue directly.

Along the same lines, I wonder if the board, or the membership in
general should be looking at SFWA’s policy on hate-speech. While I
appreciate Article IV, Section 10, we would be better served by more

I see from Section 10 that SFWA isn’t responsible for circulating a
petition for this type of decision. After looking through the forums,
I see some discussion circling the Beale incident, but nothing
directly discussing Amal El-Mohtar’s suggestion that Beale be removed.
I’m curious if such a petition has been started already?

Thanks for listening,
Grá Linnaea


I’m hoping that this ugly incident can inspire us to take a hard look at what kind of organization we want to be and how important inclusivity is to us.


And the discussion continues …