Author: Dora

Europa Moon “Facts!”

Europa Moon “Facts!”

I create a lot of artifacts of world-building, and a friend of mine suggested they could be of interest to readers. So here’s first of a series on “facts” about the moons of Jupiter that appear in Resonance. The moons are settings, but also characters, and I kinda love them. Words + (most) images = mine, plus a healthy dose of actual facts from NASA. Enjoy!

Europa “Facts” circa 2521 ce

If you’d prefer a graphic-story version instead of a video, I’ve put the pages on my web comic site and/or you can download them as a PDF.

Imaginary Worlds Podcast!

Eric Molinsky of the Imaginary Worlds Podcast, did a fabulous episode on Neurodivergent Futures in science fiction. The podcast includes interviews with Ada Hoffman, Nick Walker, Quinn Dexter, and me. Fun conversation about autistic representation and neurodiversity frames in science fiction fandom and content–plus an actor reading from Hoshi! Transcript available.


New Novel Resonance Released!

I’ve wanted to share the story that starts in Resonance for over 20 years, and here it is. I’m excited, and hopeful, and terrified–which is all weirdly in alignment with the book’s exploration of the edge of hope and fear. Perhaps I’ve summoned an élan of my own. I love these characters and their weird story of neurodivergent experience and alien influence, and I hope you do too. Many thanks to Autonomous Press for their support of neurodivergent/queer authors and stories.

Outrageous and acclaimed, 26th-century musician Caran Watts depends on two secrets to stay alive: a dangerous drug that hides his illegal neurodivergence and an alien species whose vulnerable existence he has sworn to protect. But when he arrives in the Galilean system to tour his latest work, those secrets are hijacked by a powerful force to advance a genocidal plot. As fear infects Jupiter’s moons, Caran must choose whether to keep hiding or risk both his own life and the aliens in hope of a better future.

Current ways to read:

Resonance Themes & Motivations

I have a new book coming out in March 2022 called Resonance. It’s a literary science fiction novel set in the same world as Hoshi. It’s about what lives on the edge of hope and fear and the transformative power of art.

The groundwork for this novel (and the one that follows it–indeed all the Liminal Universe world-building) began more than 20 years ago. The first appearance of the book’s central characters—the human Caran Watts and the alien Muse–is time-stamped 2002 in my exploratory writings. It’s not a stretch to say most of my motivation to hone my lit-craft has been to be able to tell this story.

The back-of-the-book text goes like so:

Outrageous and acclaimed, 26th-century musician Caran Watts depends on two secrets to stay alive: a dangerous drug that hides his illegal neurodivergence and an alien species whose vulnerable existence he has sworn to protect. But when he arrives in the Galilean system to tour his latest work, those secrets are hijacked by a powerful force to advance a genocidal plot. As fear infects Jupiter’s moons, Caran must choose whether to keep hiding or risk both his own life and the aliens in hope of a better future.

I created the Liminal Universe because I was interested in paradigm shifts and social change. What does it take to move large populations to more equitable behavior? What makes some individuals focal points of those shifts? And, what if the paradigms themselves–or the ideas that comprise them–were sentient and we could talk to them? Would they change if we asked them to? Or would they push back?

From these what-ifs, the living ideas that are the élan vitals–like Muse–and the Operator rights movement–fueled, in part, by Mx. Watts–tumbled out.

I also wrote this novel because I was interested in a science fiction story that centers art. It’s usually strategy, or science, or politics, or some clever scheme. I love all of that, but for those of us who might have been saved by a paintbrush or a song, art deserves some room.

And lastly, I wrote this story because all of us neurodivergent, queer, traumatized, beautiful, struggling and imperfect, perfectly perfect, marvelous and marginalized hero/ines deserve to see ourselves on the page. Not shiny and oversimplified, not as inspiration porn, not as objects of pity or sad stakes. But as the complex and real people we are, making the best choices we can and creating wonder in a world that doesn’t make it easy, or straight-forward, to survive.

I love this world, this story, and these characters, and I hope you do too.

Athletic male dancing, leaving trails of colors and shapes behind in his movement.

Why “Liminal Universe”

In the category of, “things that make perfect sense in my brain but no one else’s,” is likely why I call the world where Hoshi and many of my other stories are set the “Liminal Universe.” Here’s the missing info.

liminal | ‘limǝnl |
1. relating to a transitional or initial stage of a process
2. occupying a position at, or on both sides of, a boundary or threshold
from Latin limen ‘threshold’

-Oxford American Dictionary

I started developing this universe over 20 years ago. At the time I was extremely interested in the concept of liminality. Okay, so I’m still extremely interested in the concept of liminality. The first novel I wrote in the world was named Liminal. It takes place about 50 years before the upcoming Resonance (55ish years before Hoshi). I still haven’t managed a draft of it I’m happy with, but hope to eventually as it’s the start of the cycle that Resonance and its companion book Revolution complete.

So how does this ‘verse connect with liminality?

Subliminal vs. supraliminal and thresholds of sensation – This is all about the élans, the aliens, the sensation of someone “walking over your grave” and humanity’s fascination with ghosts on the radio. The world of the aliens and the human world are largely subliminal to each other–outside each others’ ability to perceive–but that does not mean unconnected.

Social liminality – The Operators / nauta occupy a liminal position in society, being both valuable and marginalized. As someone who has always existed in liminal spaces, I tend to write about sectors that don’t fit into social norms, that occupy intersectional positions, or that have large amounts of fluidity, such as communities of individuals who are artists, exiles, or illegal.

The liminality of the Mem – The metaverse-cyberspace-virtual world of the Mem is as inherently liminal as our internet. I mean, really, what the heck is this thing? Is it real? Is it a collective dream? A bunch of zeros and ones or the place where we meet and live?

Literal thresholds between dimensional spaces – Although my SF is grounded in real complexity science and social science, I am not a physicist. So my handwavy way of managing space travel is to throw in some thresholds LOL. The places where space farers transition between realspace and dimensionspace are called, officially, Liminalities. For example, “The Stella-Maru crossed the Saturn Liminality from dimspace into the Sol system.”

Paradigmatic transitions and initial stages of first contact – One of the main reasons why I invented this ‘verse was to explore the transitional stages of paradigm shifts. What makes an entire population change its mind about something or see things in a new way? Also, these stories take place in the initial stage of negotiation and understanding between the humans and élans when outcomes still could go in any direction.

New Song / New Post: It’s the End of the World

Wow the past year was hard; I’m guessing for you too. Even though that meant most of my social media falling by the wayside, I did keep working behind the screens, and have some exciting things to share in the new year.

So happy Solstice season! Here’s a new song. Many thanks to Mr. Alphabet for vocals and City of Troy for visualization. I hope you enjoy it!

I wrote this song accident a few years ago. I was struggling with a scene a novel that required it. After months of failing to get the poetry right from any narrative distance, I closed my eyes, and plunked myself inside of the character, inside of the scene, performing the song. Not only did the lyrics resolve but all of the music too. So technically it’s not my song, it’s my character’s song, but I wrote it, because I wrote my character. Wot!? IT IS WEIRD LOL

Here it is on SoundCloud / audio-only if you’re not keen on video.

Mac Carroll Multiverse Novel Notebook

This is a brief flip-through of the traveler’s notebook I keep for stories in the Mac Carroll multiverse.

Tools I use:

Inserts are for:

  1. Working things out which gets set aside when filled;
  2. Each novel as it develops that gives a longer-term reference for that particular book’s details;
  3. A world bible intended for permanent reference for things like maps, timelines, character details, technology, world-rules, etc.
  4. (Sometimes, but not pictured here, an insert for administrative and marketing type tasks related to stories or books in the world.)

You can read a story in this universe in the anthology Spoon Knife 4: A Neurodivergent Guide to Spacetime from Autonomous Press.

Writing an Original Research Article as a Story

Writing an Original Research Article as a Story

I approach the structure of an academic research article similarly to how I approach a piece of fiction. I shared this with a student the other day, and am elevating it from “Random Email I’ll Lose” to “Blog Post I Can Link Back To.”

I like to think of an original research report like a story: The first “chapter”—Background—sets up the characters, setting, and conflict—why was it urgent to do this research? What pressures are building, what gaps exist, what is troublesome about existing knowledge, who is yelling that problems are unaddressed and why? That chapter ends with, “therefore, because of these conflicts/tensions/gaps/needs, we decided to do a study to address them through these research aims.” Or, to go forth on a journey to resolve these conflicts through the objectives of the study.

The second “chapter”—Methods—is like equipping your heroes and sending them out to achieve those necessary objectives. We therefore took these bold actions to resolve the conflict! March forth and design, recruit, collect, analyze! Do the study thing! Here is how we did it.

The third “chapter”—Results—is the climax chapter. It says what actually happened in the study. What was the result of that journey?

The final “chapter”—Discussion—is the resolution chapter. It ties up all the loose ends. It summarizes what happened on the journey and then ties it back to why you had to go forth in the first place, which is introduced first in the Background. It’s where you conclude how the gaps were filled (or not), the troublesome ideas adjusted (or not), the problems addressed (or not). How did the result of the journey change the world? Or, at least, how did it change the current state of the science, literature, practice, policy, and community? 🙂 

Thinking of the research in this way may help provide some structure, and also make it more engaging to read. No, I am not recommending turning the paper into a literary work full of hyperbole and action sequences! But readers can more easily follow a narrative where the pieces relate to each other clearly. I have also found it easier to write when I consider the process of conducting original research as a narrative arc. HTH <3

Journals, Planners, & Pens – Daily Journal

I’ve always loved journals, planners, and pens but the past few years innovations (and rediscoveries) have uped my game. I’ve gotten a lot of inspiration from others, so here I start to pass along the love. Or maybe I just want an excuse to go on about leather, stationary, and pens.

This is my daily journal set-up. It’s a traveler’s notebook with two inserts, three fountain pens, and a pen case that I love to look at (it is a loved gift <3) containing markers.

I’m obsessed with traveler’s notebooks–leather cut to a standard paper size and fitted with elastics onto which anything of said standard size can be strung. My daily journal is a B6 size. The leather is Chic Sparrow‘s classic Mockingbird dark bluejay. The color and texture is relaxing to me and helps me wind down as I journal before bed.

My daily journal consists of two inserts. A plain paper insert by PaperPenguin (pictured on left and top) and a Staology 365 notebook (pictured on right and bottom). The plain insert is strung on the first string, and the Staology on he second and fourth strings around its front and back covers. The sticker on the Staology is a reminder of balance (it is a captured cochlea!) from Liv Rainey-Smith. I use one page of the Staology per day. I color-map my hours and write about my day to remember things and decompress. In the plain paper insert I make statistics and charts about my time management because I’m a science dork, and also because it helps keep me accountable to myself and my impulse control is often, uh, limited. I also keep lists like of books read, shows watched, etc. over the year.

Shall we talk about pens? Yes? Pens?

I’ve been obsessed with fountain pens since back when they were impossible to find. Now they are easy to find which makes my monthly allowance hard to manage. These three I use daily in my journal. (Note: the links are all to Goulet Pens because I think they do the best job of listing technical specifications on the pens and inks, but you can purchase them in a wide variety of places–none of these are rare pens or inks.)

The Pilot Falcon (the black one with gold trim on the left) is a soft gold flex nib, extra-fine, and my top pick for price and quality on flex nibs. The ink capacity is small but it makes an incredible range of marks based on pressure, and is easy to control. It’s filled with archival, waterproof DeAtramentis Document Black ink (yes, it is labeled wrong in the picture) which allows me to color over the lines it makes with the water-based markers. I use the Falcon extensively for drawing too.

The TWISBI ECO (the clear one with the squared-off ends in the middle) is a 1.1 mm steel stub nib. I have used this $30 fountain pen every day since I got it like two years ago. Every. Day. It has a huge ink capacity, a reliable smooth nib, is fun and easy to disassemble and clean, and is perfect for headings. I always put shimmer ink in it cuz the fun! The stub nib lets me pretend I actually have beautiful calligraphic handwriting LOL.

The Pilot Custom-74 (the translucent purple one on the right) is among my favorite daily work-horse pens, and my favorite 14k nib pens for under $200. I have these in many colors, but the purple may be my favorite. I use this to write all my journal entries. It is smooth and light and fits my hand perfectly, and has a good ink capacity with the Con-70 converter. It matches perfectly with Iroshizuko Juro-jin ink.

The markers are Tombow watercolor markers. They blend well and are relatively inexpensive for art markers.

Lastly, I’m kind of a crap craftsman for beadwork, but I love arranging beads, and make my own bookmarks for my notebooks. I bead both ends of a strip of string/ribbon/elastic and loop it through the traveler notebook strings or string holes, nothing complicated. The result is pleasing and the book marks are fun to touch and play with. Yay!

Theme: Overlay by Kaira 2020 Dora M Raymaker
Portland, Oregon