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Hi! ¡Hola, y bienvenidos! My name is Lisa Bradley. I write speculative fiction and poetry. My work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Cicada, and Stone Telling. My collection of poetry and short fiction, The Haunted Girl (Fall 2014, Aqueduct Press), can be purchased from the publisher or Amazon. My agent is Rebecca Strauss at DeFiore and Company. For more information, including a list of my publications, please refer to my author website.

I'm originally from South Texas, but I've lived in Iowa for ~20 years. In addition to being a writer, I'm a wife and mother. I have chronic depression, but it's under control and I don't need medical/lifestyle advice, thankyouverymuch. (Some more labels: Latina! atheist! anarchist! bisexual!) I love horror movies, cars, gothic country, jigsaw puzzles, gin, NBC's Hannibal, whisky, dark chocolate, art journals...

I have written a series of posts, "Writing Latin@ Characters Well." I've provided links to each post below and will update this master list as necessary.
What are you?
Where are you from?
No, really. Where are you from?
But you don't *look* Latin@.
Say something in Spanish!
I LOVE Mexican food!
Putting out those fiery stereotypes
Banging down more stereotypes
Ingroup versus Outgroup conversations

Thanks for visiting. I hope we can be friends. :)

Poetry News

In case you missed the announcements on Twitter and FB, a new poem of mine is now online: "Coffee Shop Painting" appears in Issue 16 of Devilfish Review. This poem is about painting with coffee as a magical art form. I suspect it's partially influenced by viewing my mother's sketchwork when I was a child. She used charcoal instead of coffee, but it still seemed like conjuration to me.

And since the deadline for nominating works for the Rhysling Award is coming up (February 15!), I'd like to point out that I had three poems published last year. "Levity" and "Aboard the Transport Tesoro" are eligible in the short poem category, and "glass womb" is eligible in the long poem category.

Thanks for reading!

New Year's Resolutions, One Month Later

I started the new year with a completely new daily routine, embarrassing in its simplicity: sleep as late as I fucking need, get up and get fully dressed (down to shoes & earrings), have a small meal, start knocking items off my week's to-do list. I'm still trying to understand how much I can reasonably expect to get done in a week, especially given the unpredictability of depression. But my recurring items every week are to revise a chapter of Border Blaster, sub a poem, and sub a short story.

I'm up-to-date on chapters, I've made 4 poetry subs, and I've subbed 3 stories. (I suppose technically, I could also count the 3 stories I contributed to an anthology project as "subs," but it's not like I'll get a rejection, since I was invited to participate.) I've got this week's story sub lined up, but I'm running out of poetry inventory.

I also resolved to focus my activism efforts on prison reform this year, with one signficant action every month. In January, I wrote letters, which was easy enough. This month I'll read and review a book, which has had a spin-off action: I ended up requesting that the local library buy some more books on the issue.

I still fret that I'm not doing enough. "I could do so much more if I just tried," I say when infected with brain weasels. But now I also have the agendas from previous weeks in my day planner, with all those neat lines run through the accomplished items. So I know I'm doing *something*.

Sometimes I think we get too focused on whether or not we did the Thing we said we'd do, rather than remembering the impulse behind the resolution. Eventually, I may run out of poems to send out, and failure to sub isn't something to feel bad about, not if my motivation was "be better about getting my work out there" or "stop self-rejecting." Likewise, I am not wearing real shoes today (opted for socks and house shoes) or earrings, but I have butt in chair and I'm working. It's a routine, not a requirement. And sometimes that's enough.

For those of you who made resolutions, what's your progress been like? What have you learned?

Sleep Rituals

The other night I was having bad dreams, and the second time I woke, I knew I had to do something to keep from slipping back into those dreams. My usual superstition of turning over my pillow wasn't going to cut it. I was soooo drowsy, I knew I wasn't really really awake. So I lay there trying to list herbs/spices alphabetically.

But I'd just finished reading Sofia Samatar's A Stranger in Olondria, and in the midst of allspice and anise, bay leaf and basil, imaginary spices started popping into the queue. Sadly I can't remember most of them now--perhaps they are not imaginary, only the culinary secrets of my dream space!--but I know there was "eritrea." Yes, Eritrea is the name of a real country in Africa, but that's not what it meant when I thought of it. I knew it was a roasted kind of root, darker and "rockier" than chicory.

In A Stranger in Olondria, a child wakes a man who's having bad dreams, then instructs him on how to lose them. She explains you're supposed to do it outside, near a certain kind of plant, but she's not allowed to go outside at night. As she makes him stand and follow her movements, I remembered My Neighbor Totoro and the ritual the girls learn to help their plants grow. If nothing else, by the time you've hauled yourself out of bed and gone through the motions, you're actually awake. You've "rebooted" and if you do choose to go back to sleep, you've probably interrupted the dream sequence enough to feel safe. (Interrupted the "train of thought"? Or purposely missed the nightmare train?)

Lately, I have a hard time falling asleep. Sometimes I need a hard reboot. So I get up, use the bathroom even if I don't need to, check my phone, drink some water, and then return to bed to try again. I'm curious about what other folks do. If you can't sleep, what do you do for yourself? If you have a bad dream, how do you avoid falling back into it?

On Chronic Pain and the Alchemy of Poetry

Poetry Notes for "Aboard the Transport Tesoro"

In November, my poem "Aboard the Transport Tesoro" appeared in Issue 7 of Uncanny Magazine. Now it's available to read for free online or listen to in a podcast.

The idea for the poem came to me on one of the many nights I lay awake in bed, in pain. I'd tried ignoring it, then meditating through it. I'd taken various medicines. I had my heating pad. I'd tried stretching out, scrunching up, lying on my back, belly, side. Nothing helped. To think of something other than hurting, I racked my brain trying to figure out what I could've done that day to trigger the pain. Nothing stood out. Eventually, I started to wonder what I had done, ever, in my life, to bring on this pain. Had emotion metastasized into physical ailment? Had I committed some sin or transgression? Was I being punished?

Pain makes me weird and illogical. (Or maybe that's my Catholic upbringing?)

These addled thoughts intersected with a conversation I'd seen on Twitter, about the difficulty of venerating elders (or ancestor worship) when your family is problematic. How do you overcome (or maybe just put aside) a history of conflict, or even abuse, for a continued relationship with the deceased? Can you ever trust them, let alone honor or respect them?

I wondered which of my ancestors might be inducing my suffering, and what they were trying to convey through the punishment. Only my grandmother seemed vindictive enough, but what had I done to piss her off this time? She held a grudge like a tick with lockjaw, so I supposed it could've been something I'd done in the past. But surely she knew my heart had changed over the years. I actually felt closer and more sympathetic to her than ever before. Maybe she was only acting out? Maybe she was hurting too?

And if I was so adrift, I wondered, how much more complicated could ancestor worship get in the future? With life-extending medicines and procedures, we might know our great-greats much more intimately, for better or worse. I imagined what it'd be like to have a wonderful, nurturing relationship with a great-great, and what I'd be willing to do for her when she finally passed.

Though I was still in excruciating pain, the poem came together very quickly after that. I got out of bed and wrote it down. I don't know how long it was before the pain subsided enough that I could sleep. When I woke up the next morning, I moved a couple of lines and typed it up, and it was done.

I don't see anything romantic about pain or suffering. If it were up to me, I'd have slept pain-free and never written the poem. But I do feel a grudging awe for the alchemy of poetry, which can take something as stupid and pointless as my pain and transfigure a bit of it. From lead to gold seems too self-congratulatory. So...shit to Shinola, maybe.

Uncanny Poetry

This week I had two poems published!

The first, "Aboard the Transport Tesoro," appears in Uncanny Magazine, Issue 7, alongside work by fellow poets mariness and sovay. Also, I'm pretty tickled to share a ToC with Yoon Ha Lee, a Sirens guest of honor. By chance I was invited to join him and two other Sirens for a last, con-lagged lunch at the airport. (Hope I didn't get him sick.)

"Aboard the Transport Tesoro" grew from my sickbed thoughts about chronic illness and ancestor worship. I got up and wrote it in the middle of the night, cleaned it up, and sent it out. Quickest turnaround between composition and publication I've ever had!

The second poem, "glass womb," is online at Interfictions. This poem has perhaps my longest turnaround between first draft and publication. It took me a really long time to find the poem's final form. I can't say why exactly, why it never clicked, why I never abandoned it. I think I had to wait for tumblr to be born and show me pictures from the Mütter Museum and the specimen still lifes of Frederik Ruysch.

And that's my good news for the week!

Thinky Double Features for Halloween

This isn't exactly a Friday Faves installment. I wanted to do something Halloweenie, but there's no way I can list my favorite horror movies, books, stories, or anything. I love too many things. I didn't want to randomly recommend "movies to watch on Halloween," either, since everyone's tastes are different and our moods affect what we want to watch when.

I can't remember the last time a horror movie actually scared me. Revolted, yes. Saddened, yes. Lately I've been thinking, Even if a movie were to scare me, it wouldn't be enough. I want art that makes me think. With that in mind, I've paired up horror movies into double features that excite my "compare 'n' contrast" tendencies. Maybe you'll find something in this list to satisfy your itch, whatever that may be.

1. Carnival of Souls (1962) and Donnie Darko (2001 but set in the '80s) -- Carnival of Souls is a black-and-white, low-budget, minimally-cast thriller starring the absolutely luminous Candace Hilligoss. Donnie Darko is a full-color, big (enough) budget spec film, with a star-studded ensemble cast and Jake Gyllenhaal in the title role. Both movies focus on a person out of synch with the rest of the world, but in Carnival the consequences are individual, insular; in Donnie Darko, everyone is affected. Both films are spookier than they are graphic, although there are some brief moments of gore in the R-rated Donnie.

2. Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975, set in 1900) and Here Comes the Devil (2013) -- In both of these films, children on a holiday outing explore a mountain and something goes wrong. The PG-rated Picnic is less forthcoming about what exactly happened, obscuring with ethereal atmospherics apropos for late-Victorian repression, whereas the unrated Here Comes the Devil graphically depicts sex and violence. And yet, neither really explains why the tragedy unfolds. Perhaps the characters offend the genius loci? Maybe some places are just bad? Either way, both films are unsettling in their ambiguity.

3. The Descent (2005) and The Babadook (2014) -- On the surface, these are very different movies. The Descent follows women on a spelunking adventure who get lost in an unexplored series of tunnels. The tunnels are inhabited by humanoid cryptids and as the women fight to get back to the surface, they die in various brutal, bloody ways. The Babadook is about a grieving woman trying to survive daily life with her acutely sensitive child, who finds a book about a bogeyman-type monster that he thereafter insists is threatening their tiny, broken family. The Descent is a hard-R, with monsters and gore, while The Babadook works up to its R rating with psychological, real-world horror. But both movies are woman-centered explorations of grief in a world where bad things happen to good people, and they keep on happening.

4. Somos Lo Que Hay (2010) and We Are What We Are (2013) -- The connection between these two flicks is clear: The latter is an American remake of the former, which is Mexican. And I'm going to have to spoil it for you, because I don't think it's fair to send you into a movie and not warn you that it depicts [Spoiler (click to open)]  cannibalism. What's interesting about this pair is how very different the movies are, despite the shared premise. Somos takes place in a city; We Are has a rural setting. The family is complicated in Somos; in We Are, it seems a pretty straight-forward, misogynist patriarchy. I think Somos is about a lot of things (economics, power dynamics, ritual and modernity, homosexuality, nature versus nurture, etc) but We Are opts for a narrower, easier to understand focus. For extra "food for thought," maybe watch Jug Face (2013), about a young woman who tries to escape her rural community when she falls afoul of its peculiar customs.

5. Pontypool (2008) and Berberian Sound Studio (2012) -- I love both these stories because they are obsessed with sound in a highly-visual medium. Former radio shock jock Grant Mazzy hates his new assignment in Pontypool, a small rural Canadian community. A mild-mannered sound engineer, Gilderoy hates his new job creating the sound effects for The Equestrian Vortex, which is not a movie about horses, as he imagined, but a gruesome giallo flick. In Pontypool, a bizarre virus infects the town and Mazzy and the other employees of the local radio station must piece together the truth from conflicting reports, incoherent witnesses, and mysterious military injunctions. In Berberian Sound Studio, Gilderoy is an innocent adrift, desperately trying to hold together his reality even as it merges with the grisly fantasy he's forced to help create. Both films interrogate the gaps between sounds and meaning, facsimiles and reality, consensus/objectivity and dissent/subjectivity.

So there you have it: some brain candy to accompany your Halloween candy. I wish you a pleasant mix of tricks and treats. Happy Halloween!

Friday Faves: Sirens Edition

I missed an installment of Friday Faves because I was at the Sirens convention in Denver, too nervous about my presentation, then too relieved when it was over, to focus on blogging. Thus it seems logical to devote a FF to the happiest bits of my first Sirens experience.*

One-on-one whiskey-fueled chat with blairmacg. Although we'd met in passing at a previous WisCon and had some exchanges online, this was my first opportunity to sit down and talk at length with Blair. I'd tell you what we talked about, but then I'd have to kill you. And, thanks to Blair, I know how! Oops. I've said too much.

A slightly rebellious walk with asakiyume. In what may be our tradition, after two ReaderCons and now Sirens, Francesca and I had a walk-n-talk. And when the path didn't go where we wanted it to, we scuttled down an embankment and infiltrated a golf course. Given that the theme of this year's Sirens was "rebels and revolutionaries", it seemed the natural course of action.

An audience for my presentation. Seriously, I was braced for the possibility that no one would show for a paper on an obscure Mexican poet. To see more than a handful of folks take their seats and look to me expectantly was a HUGE relief. I think the presentation went well--I may have read too quickly, but my timekeeper never gave me the signal to slow down, and I was a little awkward deploying the Prezi, but I didn't feel like I fumbled my words too often or lost the emotional thread of the talk. I plan to submit my paper to the Sirens compendium. I'm also looking into Hispanic Lit journals, to see if I can get it published without much revision.

Rae Carson talking about Elisa, her fat heroine, getting skinny. After Carson's keynote speech, an audience member asked if Carson had experienced backlash for presenting a fat heroine in The Girl of Fire and Thorns. Now, one of the very few complaints I saw in reviews of Carson's first book was that the thrill of seeing a fat heroine in its opening pages was vanquished when said heroine lost weight and became conventionally attractive to the more-shallow characters, something I call the weight-loss "redemption" arc. Carson explained that in her original vision, the rapid weight loss was very much Not a Good Thing and Elisa gained back the weight. In very diplomatic terms, Carson noted that publishing was in a different place just four years ago, pre-Dumplin'. I was very relieved to hear her explanation, and I admired how she refrained from casting blame or aspersions.

The wedding singer. A totally sappy moment for me. The hotel's main restaurant is beside a banquet hall where wedding receptions and other special events are held. One night I slipped away from a rousing, writerly dinner party to use the bathroom and I heard the John Legend song "All of Me" being sung next door for a wedding party. Is that not the most perfect song for a first dance? I instantly teared up, so I didn't stick around for the whole performance, lest I return to my table and have to explain my cryface.


*I missed another installment because I got so damn sick at Sirens. This seems to be my MO: Look forward to an outing for months, then get so sick before during or after that I swear I'll never travel again. Having a hard time figuring out how to organize a Friday Faves post based on that.

Friday Faves: TV Party

Friday Faves is late today but I didn't forget. I was just busy! I outlined my third story in three days, and then it was Movie Night at Tweetie's school. They were showing HOME, which I like very much, so I actually voluntarily attended a school function. Imagine that.

This week's faves are television shows. Since Hannibal ended (*ugly cries*), there hasn't been much must-see-tv for me. I watch stuff on Netflix or Hulu that's the entertainment equivalent of junk food. But sometimes junk food makes me happy, y'know? And this week, these were the highlights:

1. Sleepy Hollow -- It's back! I "missed" the first few minutes, but only in the scare-quote sense, since I saw promo tweets and then folks were live-tweeting. I was VERY happy to see our power trio--Abbie, Crane, and Jenny--were all integral to the plot and got some emotional development. That alone has me cautiously optimistic that this season will repudiate the huge mistakes of season 2, but the introduction of Betsy Ross worries me. Not that I expect colonial-era Crane to have "saved himself" for Abbie, but why do the writers keep force-'shipping Crane with (white) Women Who Are NOT Abbie? Why must they fight the obvious, ridiculously powerful chemistry of Crane and Abbie? Even if there's not a romantic relationship between the two, shouldn't their relationship--their partnership--be at the forefront of this show? (The answer is YES.)

2. Elementary -- I resisted this show for a long time, thinking I preferred the BBC Sherlock. I appreciate "sociopathic" characters like Moffat's Sherlock because they're basically me on a bad day, impatient with everyone else's bullshit, furious that they don't grok the social contract everyone else seems to intuitively operate by. But sociopath is different from asshole, and I'm really tired of assholes. JJ started watching Elementary, and I watched some with him, quickly warming up to Jonny Lee Miller's nuanced portrayal of Sherlock. This Sherlock is still socially inept, brusque, often insensitive, but his tenderness toward Joan Watson is touching. You can tell he really does value and admire her--and fuck, it's Lucy Liu so hell yeah, he'd better! But then I hit episode 16 of season 1, where he proposes in all earnestness that she become his apprentice, and it was so sweet I cried. I'll definitely be watching more.

3. American Horror Story, Coven -- Definitely the weakest of the first three seasons storywise, but more enjoyable for the simple reason that it's all about women. Women of different eras, ages, shapes, sizes, abilities, temperament, race...hmmm, I don't recall any queer characters but I can't say for sure. The women were the plot-movers, the men were peripheral. Every episode--almost every scene, in fact--passed the Bechdel-Wallace test. I was reluctant to watch this season because I didn't think the show would handle the race aspects well. I'm still not sure it did, I have many reservations, but setting those aside, the acerbic wit of these witches made for a diverting binge-watch.

I haven't been watching Empire, but I'll definitely catch up later in the season. I want to test drive Scream Queens also (though I'm not sure how much of Emma Roberts' bitch persona I can take; it looks like the American Horror Story folks just told her "hold that pose while we shift you to this comedy."). My dalliance with Revenge is pretty much over. Any recommendations for more tv to rot my brain?

Friday Faves: New Words!

I like to learn new words. Not from word-a-day websites or calendars, but from my own reading, where context is more likely to make the new word stick. This week, three words impressed themselves upon me, three lovely little morsels of brain candy.

1. Jerboa -- I encountered this noun while reading Rae Carson's The Girl of Fire and Thorns (a somewhat misleading title, btw). The jerboa is described as a desert rodent with a long tail, and the jerboa is caught and cooked in a (much maligned) stew by folks traversing the desert. I assumed the jerboa was a mythical "smeerp" type critter that resembled a squirrel or chinchilla. Then I saw a picture of a real-life jerboa online. And was instantly, retroactively revolted at every mention of the stew. I think it's the tail. And the long skinny legs. And the skin on its bat-like ears. Considering how many of the online mentions of jerboas emphasize their cute-itude, I suspect I am in the minority with my revulsion, much like snowy_owlet and her feelings toward sloths.

2. Caudillismo -- I've seen (and looked up) this word many times before, from my general interest in Mexican history and the polysci copyediting I did years ago. But it never really stuck until this week, when I came across it again in Shadows of Tender Fury: The Letters and Communiques of Subcomandante Marcos and the Zapatista Army of National Liberation. A caudillo is defined in the book's glossary as "a charismatic political leader who derives his power from his military experience, prowess, and bearing." So caudillismo is that form of leadership. Why should the term stick now, when it never did before? For one thing, you're familiar with the idea of "my TV (or book) boyfriend"? Well, Subcomandante Marcos is my Rebel Boyfriend. Any word I learn from him has instant cachet. Also, the fact that the book has a glossary means I can flip back and refresh my memory, and the memory is further solidified by the look of the formatted text.

3. Sankofa -- This is an Akan word from Ghana that I learned from reading "lifestream," Sofia Samatar's account of the Princeton symposium "Ferguson Is The Future." I see from several online sources that, roughly translated, sankofa means "reach back and get it" and is associated with a proverb along the lines of "there's no shame in going back for what you forgot." Most often sankofa is symbolized by a bird flying forward while twisting its head back to take an egg in its beak. There's a picture of the symposium poster in Sofia's post, and it includes a different sankofa symbol near the center: the twisty, twirly heart-shape. The concept of sankofa, of retrieving precious things from the past, resonates with me partly because of the research I've been doing on Sara Estela Ramirez, a nearly forgotten rebel poet of the Mexican Revolution. Much of her poetry was published in newspapers, which are so ephemeral, and even more so when they are of and for a marginalized population, as was Ramirez's writing for Mexican exiles living in South Texas around the turn of the 20th century. I can't even find a surviving photo of the woman, though I've seen several of her contemporaries. I would very much like to reach back and retrieve ALL the work of this amazing antepasada.

Have you learned any new words this week? What made them stand out for you? Maybe you made up a new word? Please share in the comments!

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