About Jim Hines

http://www.jimchines.com

Posts by Jim Hines:

Five Days Left!

Terminal Alliance comes out in five days. This means life around here is 623% more hectic than usual.

I’ve got many things I’ve wanted to blog about — the wave of sexual harassment revelations and conversations, the state of politics in general, not to mention…well, the new book! But most of my energy right now is going into guest posts and interviews and other promotional stuff, along with trying to finish up the first draft of the sequel. (Only a few scenes left!)

I’ve also got events next week in Grand Rapids (Monday) and Lansing (Thursday). Hopefully some of you will be able to make it out to Schulers to celebrate and hang out a bit!

Basically, I’m still here, still alive, and trying not to lose my mind with pre-book chaos…

How’s your week going?

Book Q&A

13 days left until Terminal Alliance comes out!

I’m a little overwhelmed between prepping some promotional stuff and trying to wrap up the first draft of the sequel. So I figured I’d try something new.

Ask me any yes/no question about the new book or series. I’ll answer as honestly as I can without spoilers.

Have fun!

 

The Nice Guy Myth

There’s no such thing as a Nice Guy.

Not because all guys are monstrous, evil, puppy-kicking scum, but because we’re all human. We have moments of kindness and generosity, and we also have asshole moments. The ratio varies from one person to the next, but the mixture’s there in all of us.

What a bunch of a-holes

I bring this up because it’s relevant to the ongoing conversation about sexual harassment in Hollywood, in SF/F, and pretty much everywhere. More than a million people spoke up this week with the #MeToo hashtag, talking about their own experiences being harassed. According to a 2011 United Nations report:

  • Between 40 and 50 percent of women in European Union countries experience unwanted sexual advancements, physical contact or other forms of sexual harassment at their workplace.
  • In the United States, 83 percent of girls aged 12 to 16 experience some for of sexual harassment in public schools.

It would be a lot easier if the harassers were all mustache-twirling villains, heartless evildoers with zero redeeming qualities.

You know. Bad Guys.

Skeletor

The trouble is, most harassers and rapists and abusers are just…people. They’re friends and family members and coworkers and colleagues. A lot of the time, they’re perfectly pleasant. Maybe they have a great sense of humor. Maybe they always shovel their neighbor’s driveway after it snows. Maybe they donate money to animal rescue every month.

This is the first part of the Nice Guy problem. Because when someone speaks out and names their harasser, we look at them and think, How can he be a harasser? He’s such a nice guy. Nice guys don’t harass people. Ergo, this so-called victim must be lying or exaggerating or overreacting or misunderstanding or whatever. Because logic!

I remember the first time I sat in, learning how to facilitate a domestic violence intervention group. The man to my right had been sentenced to participate after a conviction for abusing his wife. He was friendly and charismatic. It would have been easy to like him. There was almost nothing to distinguish him from anyone else.*

Nice Guys can harass others. Nice Guys can be stalkers. Nice Guys can be rapists and abusers. Our belief in that false Nice Guy/Bad Guy dichotomy helps those abusers. It provides another shield against accusations, a first line of defense against any consequences for their actions.

Some of these guys know exactly how to play up that defense, using it to protect themselves and punish any accusers. Some abusers deliberately craft a Nice Guy persona in order to better harass their victims.

And we let them. We see someone crossing the line, but we rationalize it in our heads because we know they’re a Nice Guy. We hear the stories, but refuse to accept them. We allow the behavior to continue.

Just like the Myth of the Nice Guy makes us likely to excuse other people’s problematic behavior, it also gets in the way of us recognizing and being accountable for our own.

I believe harassers and abusers can learn to change their behavior. (Though many choose not to.) Better yet would be for them to have recognized the harm they were causing and learned to do better before it reached the point of chronic harassment or assault or abuse.

It’s hard to step back and realize you’ve done something abusive. It’s harder if you’ve built yourself up in your head as a Nice Guy. It’s called cognitive dissonance. Someone points out that you’ve been being creepy and inappropriate. That contradicts your self-image as a Nice Guy. So your mind searches for a way to safely resolve the contradiction: She’s wrong. She’s lying. She’s misremembering.

Even if you bring yourself to acknowledge you did something wrong, you recount the story in a way that preserves you as the Nice Guy. You minimize your actions. You obfuscate the details. You mention reasons the accuser might not be giving a fully truthful or reliable account. And you stress what a nice person you are, how you’d never intentionally hurt anyone, how the guilt is tearing you apart, and so on.

What you don’t do — what we don’t do — is own our shit. We don’t dig deep to look at where our own behaviors come from.

We grew up in a society that treats women as lesser. That teaches men to be “strong” and to take what we want. We learn about the “friend zone” and the idea that women owe us sex and companionship. We hear our peers boasting about groping a girl between classes. We see them passing around nude pics of their girlfriends, because girls are things to be shared and used.

You can’t grow up like that without some of it rubbing off.** It takes active, conscious work to change those attitudes, and to do better. And you can’t do better if you’re so fixated on being a Nice Guy that you won’t even acknowledge your shit.

And now, a few disclaimers…

  • I’ve referred to men as harassers and women as victims in this post, because that’s the most common dynamic. But it’s absolutely not the only dynamic. People of all genders can be victims, and people of all genders can be harassers.
  • “But what if she’s lying?” Why is that the first response from so many people — almost always guys? Yeah, false accusations are a thing. A rare thing. You know what’s a hell of a lot more common? Sexual harassment. Sexual assault.
  • I believe there are good people out there. I believe there are assholes out there. But nobody is 100% lawful good or chaotic evil.

We need to stop letting predators off the hook because they’re Nice Guys. We need to stop excusing ourselves, too. The goal isn’t to be a mythical Nice Guy. The goal is to be accountable for our behavior, and to strive to do better.

Ms. Marvel: Good is a thing you do.


*I say “almost” because I did pick up an undertone of attempted manipulation from him a few times. It was subtle, but it was there. That said, I don’t know if I would have caught it if I hadn’t been looking for it.

**Yes, I’m including myself here. I’ve spent decades trying to uproot the messed-up assumptions I grew up with. I’m still working on it. I suspect I always will be.

Continuum Schedule

Tomorrow morning, I’m off to Continuum in Romulus, Michigan, to do Guest of Honor stuff. I’ll be joining gaming GoH John Wick and Musical GoH Tom Smith.

This is the rebirth/rebranding of the old ConClave convention. I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes!

If you’re looking to find me, here’s the most current schedule I’ve seen:

Fri 1700, Grand River, Opening Ceremonies
Fri 1730, Grand River, Supporting Diversity
Fri 2000, Grand River, Unlikely Heroes
Fri 2100, Grand River, Why Be A Writer?
Fri 2200, De La III, Adventurers Club Party

Sat 1000, Grand River, GOH Reading, Signing, Q&A
Sat 1300, Grand River, First Impressions: Get Your Writing Noticed
Sat 1700, Grand River, World Building
Sat 1800, De La IV, The Power of Fandom
Sat 2400, Salon A, Secret Pirate Party

Sun 1000, Grand River, Raising Nerd Kids: War Stories & Triumphs
Sun 1400, Grand River, Lit That Blew My Mind
Sun 1500, Grand River, Closing Ceremonies

I’m not sure about the late-night parties. Midnight is definitely too late for me in my old age. We’ll see how tired I am tomorrow night for the Adventurers Club Party, though.

The First Impressions panel required pre-registration, so that’s not one folks can just drop in on.

So, who else is planning to attend?

A Plea to Conventions About Name Badges

I have a favor to ask of conventions: please design your badges so that names can be easily and clearly read.

I’ve never been good with names. It’s frustrating as hell, and it’s become a bigger problem as I travel to more conventions. I get introduced to so many people, and within 24 hours, a lot of those names escape my brain like Batman villains from Arkham Asylum.

Most of the time, it’s not that I forget the people — just the names. (Sorry, Darla!) Especially if it’s been a while (folks I see once a year at a given convention, for example) or the context is different. Even when my brain retains a tentative grasp on a name, I tend to not trust myself, and still try to check badges to make sure.

Compare these two badges. The one on the left is from Convergence. The one on the right I made up as an example, but it’s pretty close to some I’ve seen at various conventions.

Convergence Badge Fake Convention Badge

Convergence’s badge is relatively easy to read, with clear black text on white. Even my old eyes should be able to read that at a distance. Whereas the other example uses small type in a non-standard font, and is hard to distinguish from the background.

(This will also give me a better chance of spelling your name correctly if I’m signing a book!)

I know folks like cool artwork on the badges. I know a lot of people are better at remembering names than I am. But please take pity on those of us with older eyes and leaky brains.

Thank you,
Jim and the Society of People Who Suck at Remembering Names

Misc. Catching Up

ICON was, as always, a great deal of fun. Thanks to everyone who work so hard putting the convention together every year. For those who are interested, I’ve got some pictures from the event posted over on Facebook. (If my FB settings are set up right, these should be public for anyone to see.)

Here’s one of my favorite shots:

ICON TARDIS

Since getting home, I’ve been trying to catch up on writing, housework, processing photos, and everything else. Here are a few quick news items…

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UFO6 Cover ArtUnidentified Funny Objects 6 is now out! This anthology of humorous SF/F stories leads off with “A Game of Goblins,” my send-up of Game of Thrones, staring Golaka the goblin chef. Here’s the opening paragraph to whet your appetite:

Golaka never intended to marry. She certainly never intended to marry a human.

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Terminal Alliance comes out in one month. I am equal parts excited and anxious. Happily, my agent pointed me to a bit of good news. Namely, that the book will be getting a starred review in Library Journal.

I haven’t actually seen the review, mind you. But I do like stars 🙂

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Imprinted, the Magic ex Libris novelette set after the events of Revisionary, should be going up for pre-order in the next week or so. It comes out the second week in January.

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I…I think there’s more, but I can’t remember right now. And I need to get back to writing an escape scene. With bees.

ICON 42 Schedule

Assuming I got everything set up right, I should be on a plane, on my way to ICON 42, when this post goes live. I’m delighted to once again be serving as Toastmaster for the convention, introducing and interviewing guests of honor Wesley Chu, H. Russ Brown, Sheril Harper, and ICON Mama and Papa Gay and Joe Haldeman.

Here’s my full schedule, for anyone who wants to come by and say hello. You can also check the programming grid or download the program book on the ICON website.

Thursday

  • 6:30 – 8 p.m. Group booksigning at the Cedar Rapids Barnes & Noble (Northland Square).

Friday

  • 1 – 5 p.m. Student Writing Workshop. Every year, the convention does a workshop for local students. I’ll be doing a quick talk and a couple of panels.
  • 7 p.m. Opening Ceremonies.

Saturday

  • 10 a.m Writing Outside Your Comfort Zone. (Part of Paradise Icon)
  • 1 p.m. Blogging Roundtable.
  • 2 p.m. Author/Artist Meet and Greet.
  • 4 p.m. Guest of Honor Interviews.

Sunday

  • 9 a.m. Benefactors Brunch.
  • 1 p.m. Promoting Yourself on Social Media.

In addition, I’ll once again be doing headshots for folks who need or want them. It’s all free, with a tip jar that will go toward the Rusty Hevelin Collection at the University of Iowa Special Collections. There are still seven slots available. (Or there were when I wrote this.)

All in all, I expect it to be a very busy weekend, but also a great deal of fun!

Jim C. Hines