Episodes 14 and 15 Out Now

Are you keeping up with our podcast? Episodes 14+15 are now out! In Episode 14, recorded during the early stages of the pandemic, Mary Anne and Benjamin delve into their family structures through a lens of domesticity. Ben introduces and explains his chore chart, which was created earlier in his life and has developed into a well running machine. And Mary Anne asks the question of whether or not you should get a cookie for doing the right thing.

In Episode 15 join Mary Anne as she interviews Farah Mendlesohn about international science fiction and her latest book, The Pleasant Profession of Robert A. Heinlein.

Listen here: https://speculativeliterature.org/episodes/

Here’s an Extra Special Fabulous Treat

Brilliant Sri Lankan American writers Nayomi Munaweera and Sugi Ganeshananthan very kindly agreed (on very short notice!) to record a podcast episode with me. In theory, we were going to talk about doing Sri Lankan research for our books, but in actuality, we mostly talked about other Sri Lankan writers we love, and food. Lots and lots about food. 🙂 ENJOY.

https://speculativeliterature.org/episodes/#ep-13

0:00: Mary Anne’s introducing topic and guests for the episode
1:27: Nayomi introduces herself
2:55: Sugi introduces herself
6:15: Contemporary Sri Lankan writers
12:00: On Yudhanjaya Wijeratne and his international success
15:05: Mary Anne on Sri Lanka and the civil war
20:10: Nayomi on writing for an international market
26:57: Intermission and SLF ad
27:35: Connecting to Vegan Serendib
34:17: On food writing and authenticity, and why milk rice wasn’t in A Feast of Serendib
38:47: On cooking Sri Lankan food for kids
42:08: To use, or not to use fresh coconut
46:46: On making idli and hoppers
49:47: Favorite Sri Lankan meals
1:02:30: Mary Anne on making fruit cake
1:05:30: On assimilation and bagels
1:08:54: On eating with your hands and the smell of curry

1:12:56: Where you can find Nayomi and Sugi on social media

Newest Episode of MRAH with Liz Gorinsky

I’m listening to the new episode of our podcast that just dropped, episode 11, where we interview the fabulous Liz Gorinsky, editor at Erewhon Books.

Writers, this particular episode of the podcast is chock-full of nitty-gritty details from someone who edited books for many years at Tor, and now runs a brand-new boutique small press that I, personally, would love to be published with someday. (Benjamin Rosenbaum‘s debut novel, _The Unraveling_ is launching from them tomorrow, and I am so happy for him, and only a tiny bit jealous. 🙂 )

We talk about a lot of the business of being an editor, and also about issues like wrestling with your own internal editor. Get a behind-the-scenes look at what goes on in publishing! I wish I’d known this stuff when I was starting out as a writer.

Podcast: Mohanraj and Rosenbaum Are Humans:

https://speculativeliterature.org/episodes/#ep-11

Congrats to the Nebula Award Winners!

BEST NOVEL

Network Effect, Martha Wells (Tordotcom)

BEST NOVELLA

Ring Shout, P. Djèlí Clark (Tordotcom)

BEST NOVELETTE

“Two Truths and a Lie”, Sarah Pinsker (Tor.com)

BEST SHORT STORY

“Open House on Haunted Hill”, John Wiswell (Diabolical Plots)

THE ANDRE NORTON NEBULA AWARD FOR MIDDLE GRADE AND YOUNG ADULT FICTION

A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking, T. Kingfisher (Argyll)

BEST GAME WRITING

Hades, Greg Kasavin (Supergiant)

THE RAY BRADBURY NEBULA AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING DRAMATIC PRESENTATION

The Good Place: “Whenever You’re Ready”, Michael Schur, NBC (Fremulon/3 Arts Entertainment/Universal)

Additional awards and honors presented:

THE SFWA DAMON KNIGHT MEMORIAL GRAND MASTER AWARD

Nalo Hopkinson

THE KATE WILHELM SOLSTICE AWARD
Jarvis Sheffield
Ben Bova (posthumous)

Rachel Caine (posthumous)

THE KEVIN J. O’DONNELL, JR. SERVICE TO SFWA AWARD

Connie Willis

Some Business Questions / Job Opportunities

. So far, my Serendib staff have all been part-time, and they all have healthcare through other avenues, so I haven’t had to think about putting in for their healthcare. But in 2022, one of them will be aging off his parents’ healthcare, and assuming we don’t have universal healthcare in America yet, I’ll want to start providing that as part of his compensation. I am honestly not even sure where to start with learning about this — can someone point me in the right direction?

Relatedly, I have two part-time business-related needs:

– our bookkeeper (for Serendib and the SLF) has gotten a full-time job, and is going to need to cycle off working for us — we’ll miss you, Cara Bogehegn! I’m not positive of the weekly time commitment for this gig, but I think it’s generally less than 3 hrs / week.

– I think we could use a part-time business manager? I’m honestly not so sure what the job would entail, and it’s probably just 2-3 hours / week for now, though possibly more down the line. What I’d like is someone who can look at all of our finances and give me a monthly report, and ideally someone who can help us decide what are good things to spend money on (Facebook ads, for example?) month to month. Right now, it’s all kind of seat-of-the-pants / instinct, and I’d like to be more strategic. We have a local accountant who we’ve consulted for legal advice on various things, but I’m picturing someone who’d be more involved with the business, I think.

Both gigs pay $25 / hr; if you’re interested, drop me a note at mohanraj@mamohanraj.com, with subject line BOOKKEEPER or BUSINESS MANAGER. I have a mild preference for someone local enough that they could come to an occasional in-person meeting, but that’s probably not such a big deal.

*****

Cara has kindly written up the bookkeeper job descriptions for me below — we’re looking for someone who can take care of both the Serendib and SLF accounts. The work is very similar.

*****

Serendib Bookkeeper Job Description

Job Responsibilities:
– Categorizing bank transactions monthly. Currently using QuickBooks Desktop and open to switching to QuickBooks Online or another software.
– Track Sales from Books, Writing Royalties, Handmade food and other items such as Scarves, Face Masks, Tea Towels, Candles, Soaps. Most sales come through our Shopify Site.
– Transfer Incoming funds in PayPal from Sales into the Bank Account.
– Complete Monthly Bank Reconciliations
– Provide basic monthly Financial Statements and summary written report.
– Monthly Financial Meeting over Zoom.
– Generate hours worked reports for four Independent Contractors (including yourself) Bi-Weekly in Clockify and Process Payments to Independent Contractors Bi-Weekly.
– Very Occasionally Process Payments to Vendors
– Process Annual Sales Tax Returns for the State of Illinois

Produce and File Annual 1099’s.

Experience Required:
– Ideal candidate will have at least two years Prior Bookkeeping experience for a small business and have experience with clients in both Service and Retail Sales. Experience tracking and processing Sales Tax Payments in MyTax Illinois.
– Proficient in Excel and QuickBooks.

– Must be able to work independently.

Other Details:
This is a part time position and an ideal role for an experienced bookkeeping professional looking to add another small client.
Work from home.
Must have your own computer and printer.

$25 / hr

*****

SLF Bookkeeper Job Description

Job Responsibilities:
– Categorizing bank transactions monthly. Currently using QuickBooks Desktop and open to switching to QuickBooks Online or another software.
– Track payments from Monthly Memberships to SLF as well as Donations received throughout the year from various donors.
– Track Grants awarded to SLF.
– Transfer Incoming funds in PayPal into the Bank Account.
– Complete Monthly Bank Reconciliations
– Provide Annual Financial Reports.
– Generate hours worked reports for five Independent Contractors (including yourself) Bi-Weekly in Clockify and Process Payments to Independent Contractors Bi-Weekly.
– Occasionally Process Payments to Vendors
– Process Payments to Grant Recipients, Grant Jurors and Administrators.
– Process Payments Quarterly to authors / artists of a non-profit literature magazine. Update Spreadsheet where these are tracked. Communicate via e-mail with administrator of these publications.

– Produce and File Annual 1099’s for Contractors and Qualifying Grant Recipients.

Experience Required:
– Ideal candidate will have at least two years Prior Bookkeeping experience. Experience with a small non-profit a plus.
– Proficient in Excel and QuickBooks.

– Must be able to work independently.

Other Details:
This is a part time position and an ideal role for an experienced bookkeeping professional looking to add another small client.
Work from home.

Must have your own computer and printer.

$25 / hr

Intellectually Stimulating

I’m re-listening to the episodes we’ve released of the podcast recently (great company for weeding & mulching!), and I have to say, it’s just so intellectually stimulating talking to Cory Doctorow.

I mean, his mind moves a mile-a-minute, and he’s deeply read in his areas of expertise, so I honestly was struggling a little to keep up, but nonetheless, it was just super-fun talking to him. (And luckily, if I got too overwhelmed, my co-host Benjamin Rosenbaum was usually keeping up just fine and could step in.)

In the first part of the episode, we start with his _Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom_ and talk about scarcity, utopia and dystopia, the problems inherent in reputation economies (like Kickstarter)…

…then transition to positive / negative reputation, what happens when someone gets cancelled and why, struggling to find integrity between an author’s public platform speech and what their work seems to be revealing (and navigating that complexity as writers ourselves)…

[touching on Harlan Ellison, Trumpists, Haman, truth and reconciliation, Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game, Starship Troopers, C.S. Lewis, the Problem of Susan, and virtuous pagans]

…and then transition to monopolistic large networks (like Facebook), the dangers inherent in those commercial structures, how we might combat those dangers by stopping criminalizing interoperability (and if you think I had to pause and look up words periodically while talking to Cory, you would not be wrong), how that relates to governance, like my service on the school board…

…and that’s just the first 45 minutes. Whew. This episode is recommended to those of you who enjoy a little meaty political discussion mixed in with your science fiction. 🙂

https://speculativeliterature.org/episodes/#ep-8

Conversational Cultures With Ben and Jed

Have you ever been frustrated by trying to get a word in edgewise in a conversation, with everyone else talking over you?

Have you ever been frustrated by people who expect you to read their minds, instead of just telling you what they want?

I’m listening to episode 6 of the podcast while gardening; this is the episode when we first bring Jed on as a guest, and we talk (often over each other) about conversational styles (surely of interest to anyone who hosts or listens to podcasts) and segue from there into gender dynamics, Ask vs. Guess culture, etc.

I admit, I find this topic sort of endlessly fascinating. How we communicate, how we make space for each other’s voices (or fail to), how we navigate complex and touchy social dynamics, how we learn to actually listen to each other…all of this seems essential to building a better world.

In these early episodes of the podcast, I think Benjamin Rosenbaum and I were still mostly feeling our way towards our main topics, and in not too much longer, we’ll mostly be talking about writing, editing, story. But that isn’t to say we’ll leave the cultural conversations behind — they’re interwoven with everything we do professionally and personally…

…and in fact, the second half of the podcast has quite a lot about constructing alien cultures in this context. 🙂

https://speculativeliterature.org/…/slf-podcast…/

Podcast Pandemic Processing

Are people tired of pandemic processing? I actually found it kind of fascinating listening to episode 5 of our podcast, recorded when we were two months into the pandemic (in May 2021).

On the one hand, as Benjamin Rosenbaum notes in his intro, he was way more optimistic about Switzerland’s response than ended up warranted, alas. I feel sort of validated that my estimate of how long it would likely be until America started heading back towards ‘normal’ — after vaccines, and probably at least a year, turned out to be fairly accurate.

But mostly, it’s just kind of fascinating listening to us talk, hearing just how stressed I still was, climbing out of a serious panic and bad mental health state, still trying to navigate risk with Kevin and the tensions of that, etc.

Also fascinating how different Ben’s experience was — he had much more personal / familial fear of disease, and found going out to the grocery store, for example, really stressful. Whereas for me, it was making myself stay inside that was incredibly difficult — I did it, but it chafed mightily. (Still does. Thank you science, for vaccines. THANK YOU.)

If you’re still processing your own thoughts about the pandemic, maybe this would be interesting, if only to see how different people’s experiences of this has been.

Mohanraj and Rosenbaum Are Humans: Episodes

When Good Podcasts Go Wrong

I kind of want to retitle episode 4 of our podcast: When Good Podcasts Go Wrong. Gah.

I spent a fair bit of time this weekend (while pruning trees) listening to the last few episodes of our podcast. It’s a little surreal, listening to myself argue with Benjamin Rosenbaum for an hour or two at a time. Part of it is the general self-consciousness of listening to yourself, but sometimes, it’s also realizing that you can be very stubborn, or thick-headed, or possibly anti-Semitic…

For example, in episode 4, we were supposed to talk about ‘What are humans?’ The podcast is titled “Mohanraj and Rosenbaum Are Humans,” after all. But listening, I’d say that the first 45 minutes or so of this really went kind of badly awry. 🙁

See, we were trying to talk about the term ‘secular humanist.’ I may or may not have referred to both of us as that; I can’t quite remember, but Ben thinks I did. And that troubled him, because he identifies as religious (specifically Jewish), *not* secular.

And so we went into a LONG discussion, where I spent quite a while kind of rigidly trying to explain that for me, ‘religion’ meant, among other things, belief in some kind of supernatural being. We had a long sequence in here about science fiction and fantasy and what counts as ‘supernatural,’ which honestly maybe just muddled things further.

I think I was so focused on trying to clarify that distinction (a distinction that Ben completely understood, by the way, it’s clear in retrospect), that what I was having trouble hearing at the time…

…was that for Ben, the big problem was that I was essentially erasing / denying the “religious” state of Judaism (which doesn’t necessarily require a belief in a supernatural being, if I’m understanding things right, which at this point, I have no confidence that I was, but anyway).

Additionally, this is the kind of erasure that tends to come out of a Christian viewpoint, and I was raised Catholic, and those views and values have colonized much of the world; it’s honestly hard for me to separate out which bits are Christian-thought-dominance.

So the point is, I was trying to have a kind of abstract definitional debate (and one that as an agnostic, I’m not even particularly invested in), and Ben was experiencing an attack on a fundamental and really important aspect of his identity — and further, an aspect that has a long and bloody history of being under attack.

Honestly, it’s super-embarrassing, listening to it all now. But maybe it’s worthwhile for others to hear, with this framing, seeing just how badly these conversations can go awry, even between two people who are very good friends and who are trying to have a calm and rational discussion.

In the second half, we mostly talk about ethics of causing pain to animals, about hierarchies of value (should humans be above others? why or why not?), why I’m not a vegetarian though I think I should be, why Ben goes to great lengths to try to reduce his carbon footprint, etc., why we might prioritize saving our own families over the greater good, etc. So that part is pretty interesting, I think.

You could just skip over the bit where I’m blithely ignoring Ben’s pain (and totally valid points) if you like. Sigh.

Mohanraj and Rosenbaum Are Humans: Episodes

Official SLF Cowriting Sessions

I’m delighted to announce that with Victor Raymond’s help, the SLF will now officially be hosting regular Saturday cowriting sessions from 11am to 2pm Central time. This is a session for writers who would like support for their writing, and is currently open to SLF members, staff, and my writing students. (We may open it up further once we work out the kinks. 🙂 )

There will be 10-15 minutes of introductions, followed by 45 minutes of SILENT writing; doing this three times, from beginning to end. People are welcome to show up on the hour; if you join at another time, Darius Vinesar will welcome you via chat.

These sessions will be a great time to catch up on the writing you’ve been meaning to write, while also being in the presence of others doing the same thing. Write whatever you would like to write – it’s completely up to you.

Our first session will take place tomorrow, Saturday 4/17 from 11-2pm. If you’re already a SLF member ($2/month), you’ll be getting an e-mail with the Zoom link.

In the near future, we will have a place for the cowriting sessions officially on the SLF site where all the info can be found for members and staff.

Hope to see some of you there!

Membership info: https://speculativeliterature.org/membership/