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Just in time for the Decemberween season, Reflection's Edge asked me for some ramblings on the topic of fiction and research. I obliged, and Verisimilitude and the Competent Con: Research for Fiction is now live on their site for your reading enjoyment.

In other news, I continue to plow through revisions to the virginity book. It's been occupying a huge amount of time, primarily because I've been tasked with shortening the book as much as possible. No small task, given that the ms. I handed in was 1069 pages long. I keep track of the starting and ending wordcount and page count for the chapters as I go, so that I have some idea of how much I've managed to shorten things (it helps me gauge how much shorter I'm making it, since I'm looking at it on a screen and not as a pile of pieces of paper that gets smaller as I throw things out). When I sent off the revised first half of the book last week, I totaled my revisions statistics for that half of the book and discovered that in revising I managed to cut 21,338 words out of it, a fairly respectable sum. 313 pages to 242.

Since then, I've revised two chapters of the second half and yanked about 9500 words out of those, and the work of shortening it -- while not leaving out anything important, and making sure that everything I leave in the book still works the way it should, which is the time-consuming part -- continues apace. It's very hard, not so much because I'm cutting my own writing (every writer needs to be able to do that) but because I already feel like there is so much that I have left out of this book that I would've liked to have included, and every time I shorten it the heaps of info on the cutting-room floor just get deeper.

And on that note, I was deeply amused to note the following bit in my December monthly horoscope forecast on Susan Miller's AstrologyZone site, in regard to an opposition between Saturn and Neptune in the current Piscean chart:
A writing project that is artistic / literary, journalistic, or commercial (in research, sales, marketing, public relations) seems to be taking up an inordinate amount of your time. You seem to have fallen behind again over the past two months and are frantically working to catch up. Mars in your solar third house of communication has been retrograde since October 1, so you may have had to revise part of the document in October or November. Doing so probably seemed harder than it would have been if you had started from scratch!

No matter - that difficult phase will be over by December 10 and you can make much better progress from that point on. Your income seems to be tied to this endeavor, so keep pressing forward and don't lose morale, dear Pisces.

She couldn't be more right, including that I should be done with the revisions by December 10 if I continue at my current pace. Score one for the astrologers, eh? Let's just hope that she's right about the rest of the (rather sunny!) forecast as well.
Current Music:
Time & Space - Metronomes
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All queries, comments, etc. should go to the editors in question. I am not personally connected with this book, and am presenting the CFS as a courtesy to those of you who may be interested. -- HB


She's Such a Geek

An Anthology by and for Women Obsessed with Computers, Science, Comic Books, Gaming, Spaceships, and Revolution

Slated for Fall 2006

Geeks are taking over the world. They make the most popular movies and games, pioneer new ways to communicate using technology, and create new ideas that will change the future. But the stereotype is that only men can be geeks. So when are we going to hear from the triumphant female nerds whose stories of outer space battles will inspire generations, and whose inventions will change the future? Right now.

Female geeks are busting out of the labs and into the spotlight. They have the skills and knowledge that can inspire social progress, scientific breakthroughs, and change the world for the better, and they're making their
voices heard, some for the first time, in Annalee Newitz and Charlie Anders' book She's Such a Geek. This anthology will celebrate women who have flourished in the male-dominated realms of technical and cultural arcana.
We're looking for a wide range of personal essays about the meaning of female nerdhood by women who are in love with genomics, obsessed with blogging, learned about sex from Dungeons and Dragons, and aren't afraid to
match wits with men or computers. The essays in She's Such a Geek will explain what it means to be passionately engaged with technical or obscure topics ˜ and how to deal with it when people tell you that your interests
are weird, especially for a girl. This book aims to bust stereotypes of what it means to be a geek, as well as what it means to be female.

More than anything, She's Such a Geek is a celebration and call to arms: it's a hopeful book which looks forward to a day when women will pilot spaceships, invent molecular motors, design the next ultra-tiny supercomputer, write epics, and run the government.

We want introspective essays that explain what being a geek has meant to you. Describe how you've fought stereotypes to be accepted among nerds. Explore why you are obsessed with topics and ideas that are supposed to be
"for boys only." Tell us how you felt the day you realized that you would be devoting the rest of your life to discovering algorithms or collecting comic books. We want strong, personal writing that is also smart and critical. We don't mind if you use the word "fuck," and we don't mind if you use the word "telomerase." Be celebratory, polemical, wistful, angry, and just plain dorky.

Possible topics include:

· what turned you into a geek
· your career in science, technology, or engineering
· growing up geeky
· being a geek in high school today
· battling geek stereotypes (i.e racial stereotypes and geekdom, cultural analysis of geek chic and the truth about nerds, the idea that women have to choose between being sexually desirable and smart, stereotypes about geek
professions such as computer programmers)
· sex and dating among geeks
· science fiction fandom
· role-playing game or comic-book subcultures
· the joys of math
· blogging or videogames
· female geek bonding
· geek role models for women
· feminist commentary on geek culture
· women's involvement in DiY science and technology groups
· Stories from women involved in geek pop and underground cultures. These might include comic book writers, science fiction writers, electronic music
musicians, and women interested in the gaming world.
· women's web networks and web zine grrrl culture
· Issues of sexism in any or all of the above themes

Editors: Annalee Newitz and Charlie Anders are geeky women writers. Annalee is a contributing editor at Wired magazine and writes the syndicated column Techsploitation. Charlie is the author of Choir Boy (Soft Skull Press) and
publisher of other magazine.

Publisher: Seal Press, an imprint of Avalon Publishing Group, publishes groundbreaking books by and for women in a variety of topics.

Deadline: January 15, 2006

Length: 3,000-6,000 words

Format: Essays must be typed, double-spaced, andpaginated. Please include your address, phone number, email address, and a short bio on the last page.
Essays will not be returned.

Submitting: Send essay electronically as a Document or Rich Text Format file to Annalee Newitz and Charlie Anders at sheissuchageek@gmail.com.

Payment: $100 plus two books

Reply: Please allow until February 15 for a response. If you haven't received a response by then, please assume your essay has not been selected.
It is not possible to reply to every submission personally.
Current Music:
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Just a heads-up to any of my readers who are, or know, young Kansan women and/or their current or former sexual partners: a report in this morning's Kaiser Family Foundation newsletter states that the KS Attorney General Phill Kline (R) has been examining records of live births and subpoenaing medical records from clinics that provide abortion services and is apparently having all the records combed for any evidence of anyone under age 16 (age of consent in KS) having been impregnated by a legal adult (i.e., someone 18 years of age or older). It is being legitimized by the trotting-out of an (as yet not independently verified) statement on the part of the GA's office that approximately half of the cases the GA's office has subpoenaed involve a female between the ages of 10 and 13, which is a move to draw the public's attention to the idea that this investigation is related solely to nonconsensual, abusive sexual contact between pre-pubescent or pubescent children and adults.

Past experience in watching other stat-rape witch hunts in other states, like California's for example, tells me that this is not likely to be the case at all. Although there will probably be a small percentage of cases caught in the net that do constitute forcible rape/abuse, the bulk of cases that end up being brought as a result of these kinds of "law enforcement" efforts tend to involve people of lower socioeconomic brackets, frequently Latina/o, African-American, or poor (often rural) whites who were engaged in consensual relationships and consensual sex. One of the things you should be aware of here is that it looks like they're going after anyone who technically meets the conditions of violating the letter of the law. If a woman was under the age of 15 when she became pregnant -- even if she was over 16 at the time that she visited her gynecological provider or family planning clinic to either give birth or obtain an abortion -- and the AG's office believes that her partner was above the age of majority, there's going to be someone poking way into her business real soon now, and into the business of her partner(s) as well as soon as they can track them down, and I would not be at all surprised if the AG's office fully intends to bring statutory rape and/or child sexual abuse charges.

Please be aware that because Kansas law does not acknowledge the ability of women under age 16 to consent to sex, this means that these investigations may affect ANYONE who might fall under this category, even if their relationship and whatever sex took place inside it was fully consensual. This may include cases in which the partners are married. In some cases, statutory rape law is also applied to married couples (there are states in which a young person may legally marry with parental consent at an age younger than the state's age of consent); since minors can marry with parental consent in Kansas, this may apply to some of the Kansas cases in question.

If you are, or know someone who is, a young woman (or the current/former partner of a young woman) who might be affected by the current investigation and subpoena of records in Kansas, be advised that this is going down. You may wish to contact a lawyer if you consider yourself at high risk of being investigated, to find out what your rights and responsibilities are here according to Kansas state law.
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Those of you curious about the virgin book can get a small sample of it by going here and clicking on the PDF for "Consider the Eunuch."

This is a section that is unfortunately, for reasons of length, being cut from the final version of the book, but which is fairly demonstrative of the way I write history, the sorts of issues I work with in the book, and the kinds of content and historical information you will find in the book as a whole.

I'll leave the PDF up for a couple of weeks. Enjoy!

-- Hanne

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I'll be in New York next week to speak at this event. It's open to the public; all the info you could possibly need is right here. If you come, please feel free to come up and say howdy.


Dangerous Books
When Wal-Mart won’t stock it, and The New York Times won’t touch it,
how do editors, authors and publicists deal with avant-garde, cutting-edge and
politically-unpopular books?

A discussion and Q & A with:
Hanne Blank, Author, Virgin: The Untouched History (Bloomsbury, 2006) and
Unruly Appetites (Seal Press, 2003)
Kim Dower, Kim-from-L.A., Literary & Media Services and Coauthor,
Life Is a Series of Presentations (Fireside, 2005)
Barbara Nitke, President, Camera Club of New York and Author, Kiss of Fire (Kehrer, 2003); Lead Plaintiff, Nitke vs. Gonzalez
Jeremie Ruby-Strauss, Senior Editor, Kensington Books
Amy Scholder, General Manager, Verso Press

Organized by:
Janet Reid, JetReid Literary Agency

6 – 8 p.m.

Small Press Center
General Society for Mechanics and Tradesmen
20 West 44th Street

Admission: Free for WNBA members. $10 for nonmembers; $5 for students w/ID and Small Press Center members. No RSVP necessary.

General Information and media inquiries:
Janet Reid, 718-821-4996, wnba-events@earthlink.net
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I just realized tonight that part of what I'm feeling is grief and loss. Not depression, thank you very much all the same, but the "post-partum depression" diagnosis doesn't fit: depression is an entirely different critter. This is grief and loss, frequently mistaken for depression but not the same thing at all.

I'm grieving the loss of the book. Yes, I said loss. I'm done with the virginity book because I had to be done, it had to get done. But I'm not done in the elated "I'm finally finished, I conquered it!" way. I'm done in the "We have unfinished business but we had to part" way... the way when you know you can't solve everything so you just have to tie up as many loose ends as you can, say good bye, and make the best of it.

Cut for length & maundering, so click if you'd like to read the rest.Collapse )
Current Music:
Hey Jude
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Preaching to the choir time, folks. I do hope that those of you who read this who are USAian will take some sort of action... if not on your own behalf, on that of someone who isn't yet old enough to know how much this stuff matters.

http://www.scarleteen.com/blog/index.html has the rundown, but here's the skinny: the FDA is holding approval for "Plan B" emergency contraception (the "morning after pill") hostage to an unprecedented "public comment" period. No other drug has ever had its approval subjected to a "public comment" period and indeed, the FDA is under no mandate whatsoever -- as you might imagine, given that they're supposed to be a public health agency run on principles of sound medical science rather than public emotion -- to provide same. Also as you might imagine, the religious right is all over this "public comment" period like white on rice, and I don't think I have to tell you what their feelings about contraceptives access are.

So. Please, if reproductive freedoms matter to you (and they damn well should), please take a moment to write a letter to the FDA weighing in. If only to tell them why they have no business at all subjecting drug approval for ANY demographic to the weight of public opinion. Deputy Commissioner Lester Crawford's email is : deputy.commissioner@fda.gov or you can send snail mail to him at the Food and Drug Administration / 5600 Fishers Lane / Rockville, Maryland 20857

My letter is below. Feel free to borrow from it at will.

Dear Dr. Crawford,

I am alarmed by the current "public comment" period in regard to the issue of over-the-counter Emergency Contraceptive pill access for young women.

Contraceptives access for all women, including unmarried women, has been constitutionally protected since Griswold v. Connecticut in 1965. Since then, the Pill and its hormonal contraceptive offshoots, such as Depo-Provera, Norplant, NuvaRing, Mirena, and so on, have proven to be popular, effective, and low-risk means for managing the risk of unplanned pregnancy for married and unmarried women alike, very much including the younger, unmarried women about whom the FDA claims to be so powerfully concerned.

I find it condescending in the extreme that the FDA feels that it is in any way realistic to claim that younger women should be barred from using EC / Plan B because they are incapable of following the dosage instructions properly. This is inaccurate, misogynist, and medically unfounded.

First, there is no research that proves this to be true. The assertion that this is true is a red herring. Former FDA Women's Health Director Susan Wood -- a name I presume you know -- has made it clear that these and other, similar contentions are untrue.

Second, there is no research available in the present medical literature (at least according to the reference librarians at the National Library of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine's Welch Library) proving a risk of real and pertinent harm to patients who do not follow EC dosage instructions and instead double-dose themselves by taking both doses simultaneously.

Third, women are not stupid, even young women. If we assume for the sake of argument that the teenaged daughters of America are generally capable of such complex tasks as driving automobiles, and doing sufficiently well on the SATs to be admitted to college, it follows without exception that they are likewise generally capable of comprehending and following a simple one-sentence instruction on a pharmaceutical product.

This "public comment" period -- which I will note has never been enacted for any other drug, like, say, Viagra -- is an obstruction of the FDA's purpose and a perversion of the FDA's well-established role as an agency existing to protect the public health. The FDA does not have a mandate to have its drug regulations reflect public opinion, only public health and safety. The FDA is not a representative body but a scientific and research body.

Public opinion is irrelevant to the job the FDA is mandated to perform. Empirically tested and reproducible medical data are not only relevant to the job the FDA is mandated to perform, they are the ESSENCE of the job the FDA is mandated to perform. Flatly put, if there are no data that show that a particular drug protocol has an undue risk to a particular demographic of potential drug users, then there is no reason that such a drug protocol should be made inaccessible to that demographic.

The FDA has a mandate to promote and protect the health and safety of all Americans, not to promulgate a patently false misogynist theory about female incompetence as a way of removing access to a perfectly valid, multiply-tested, effective contraceptive protocol.

Hanne Blank
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You know, I just realized that a few entries ago there was a substantial typo. The book is not 101 pages long in typescript. It is 1001 pages long in typescript (12 point Courier, one inch margins, doublespaced -- standard format).

That's rather a difference. Sorry for any confusion.

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For those who would like to get some idea of exactly what I've been doing lo these last couple of years, I've just updated my website to add an overview of the book and a FAQ incorporating the kinds of questions I've been getting most frequently since I began working on it.

And now that that's done, I think I'm going to go back to nursing an end-of-summer head cold and figuring out how to jump-start myself through the post-book ennui.

Current Music:
Ellis Paul, "Sweet Mistakes"
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How it Works:
1. Minimum donation pledges for each book or item are given following the title and before the item description. This is the MINIMUM donation; if you can donate more, great, but if you can't, don't sweat it... it's a sliding scale sort of thing.

2. Those wishing to reserve a book or other item should email hanne at hanneblank dot com and identify which item(s) you wish to reserve. When I get your email I will send you a PDF form to fill out and mail to me along with your check or money order (no, I do not do PayPal).

3. I will inscribe, sign, and ship out your book or other item either to you or to the recipient of your choice upon cashing your check/money order. Lipstick kiss-prints available at no extra charge.

4. ALL PROCEEDS FROM THIS BENEFIT WILL GO TO THE AMERICAN RED CROSS FUND FOR HURRICANE KATRINA RELIEF. That's right, I'm donating the books, the postage, the packing, etc. All told, I'm putting up about $760 in merchandise here and probably another hundred bucks in postage... the rest is up to YOU.

On to the BOOKS!

17 copies of Zaftig: Well Rounded Erotica (2001, Cleis Press)
minimum donation $20
About the book: "Edited by Hanne Blank, Zaftig is a juicy romp of lusty stories celebrating big-bodied women. Voluptuous steamy tales of women and their male and female admirers spill over with sexual delight. Includes well-known erotica writers Heather Corinna and Lori Selke as well as Blank herself."
Get a taste of Zaftig in this excerpt published in Salon.

13 copies of Best Transgender Erotica, coedited with Raven Kaldera (2002, Circlet Press) Because this book is now out of print, the minimum donation is $25.
About the book: "Best Transgender Erotica is a profoundly moving and remarkable book. Born out of the trans community and co-edited by Raven Kaldera, an intergendered FtM transman and general mover-and-shaker in the trans world, it is the first book of erotica to address the myriad aspects of transgenderism. This collection of 23 stories features work from both trans activists and seasoned erotica authors (some of whom, it might be noted, hold claim to both titles). The stories range from side-splittingly funny lustful comedies to deeply poignant love stories -- but all with some of the hottest sex scenes I've ever encountered. And the characters are equally diverse and fascinating -- there are crossdressers, pre-ops, post-ops, non-ops, intersexed, genderqueers, androgynes, butches, femmes, and a few that simply defy definition." (from this review)

5 Copies of Shameless: Women's Intimate Erotica (2002, Seal Press)
Minimum donation $20
About the book: "A daring darling from the Live Girls series offers a collection of provocative, confessional stories sure to inspire one-handed reading. This isn’t dusty, for-ladies-only fiction, just high-quality erotica that doesn’t require a whips-and-chains appetite for thorough enjoyment of each sensual, sometimes wicked admission. Recalling the sweat and sizzle of an old affair, a woman wonders if her former lover can ever forgive her for having ended up with his wife. A Haitian couple reveals the passion born of desperation and the searing fires of loss and love. A young woman abroad loses her virginity to a sophisticated older man in a scorching-hot life lesson in sexual possibility. Ovulation brings sweet, slippery horniness--and volatile, supercharged impregnation fantasies--to a childless-by-choice bi-chick. And a pregnant bitch goddess recounts the night she took over her husband’s body the same way her growing baby took over her own: relentlessly and with delicious, paradoxical pleasure and pain. The memoir-like style of these stories allows the reader to devour private letters, peek into diaries, and listen to the most intimate confessions of women acting out in inspirational sexual abandon. Seasoned editor Blank has collected only the hottest, most “confidential” and scintillating erotic moments by expert eroticists including Dawn O’Hara, Adhara Law, Lisa Bland, and others." (Libido)

2 copies of Unruly Appetites (2003, Seal Press)
Minimum donation $20.
About the book: "This book is one of the more delicious erotic anthologies I've come across in a long time. Hanne Blank's writing is titlating, imaginative and will keep on the edge of your seat/sheets. There are so many stories with differing themes, combinations and moods that there is absolutely something for everyone. Finally, a writer who can combine hot sex and emotion together. I think my favorite story is Sauce for the Gander, a fun but unconventional look at a relationship with a woman who loves both her boyfriend and her girlfriend. Totally sexy, unexpected but not stupid cheesoid wacka wacka porn. Also The Princess and the Tiger will make the top of your head pop open with it's fantastically seductive story." -- a random Amazon.com reviewer (this is probably my favorite review of any of my books, just for the phrase "stupid cheesoid wacka wacka porn."


2 copies of Big Big Love used as demo copies during seminars/book tour events. They're marked "BROWSER COPY ONLY" and "NOT FOR SALE" and have been handled a bit... own a little slice of smutty history for a minimum donation of $25.

1 copy of Penthouse, February 2003 -- this issue contains a version of my short story "Lust, Debt, and a Practical Education." The issue was an advance-of-release copy and bears an "ADVANCE COPY" sticker on the front cover. Minimum donation $50.
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