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Mary Anne Mohanraj
Works at University of Illinois at Chicago
Attended University of Utah
Lived in Negombo, Sri Lanka
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Mary Anne Mohanraj

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Nebula schedule:
Saturday 3:00-4:00: Diversity in Short Fiction—One of the pieces of advice writers are given for avoiding tropes is to have more than one representative in a story, This gets challenging in a small cast. The panel will look at how to create a diverse world even within the confines of a short story. Panelists: Anatoly Belilovsky (M), Catherine Lundoff, Mary Anne Mohanraj, Neil Clarke, Alyssa Wong

Saturday 4:00-5:00: Editing Diversity–Editors talk about the importance of a balanced table of contents, both in terms of content creators and the protagonists of the story. Panelists: John Joseph Adams, Mary Anne Mohanraj, Joe Monti (M), Michael Thomas, Sheila Williams

Sunday 2:00-3:00: Colonialism, Cultural Appropriation and Fairy Tales–Before writing begins, a writer can find themselves already in trouble when the idea at the core of their story is problematic. This panel will discuss how to spot trouble before you even begin writing by looking at historical examples of colonialism, cultural appropriation, and fairy tales and the narrative challenges associated with them. Panelists: Matthew Johnson, Mary Anne Mohanraj, Rachel Swirsky
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DesiLit site redesign!  After a long, long time, we've finally done a redesign of the DesiLit site, which was desperately needed.  It should now be clean, informative, and mobile-friendly.  

If y'all notice any issues, please let me know ASAP.  We're still updating the chapter listings and the related sites, but the rest of the site should be good.  [fingers crossed]

Thanks to Jed​, Joan​, Kat​, Lillian​ and Neha​ for all your hard work!

http://desilit.org
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Sri Lankan recipe club! I’m planning to get out a seriously revised, expanded (I'm aiming for twice the size!), with photos, second edition of my cookbook, A Taste of Serendib. (http://www.mamohanraj.com/Taste/taste.html) It’ll be published by Lethe Press, in print and digital editions.

To motivate me to actually get this done, I have a plan: encourage people to join a $2 / month Sri Lankan recipe club through Patreon:

a) ten randomly-selected people who sign up this week (between Tues May 5 and Tues May 12, noon CST) will get a PDF copy of the first edition of my cookbook (available in print from Lethe Press) -- this includes a recipe for Sri Lankan curry powder you can make at home, and an introduction to cooking Sri Lankan food.

b) as long as you're in the club, you’ll get a new recipe every week, for roughly three months. I will try to send out new recipes every Sunday, though please be patient with me if I occasionally slip a little.

Note: If you're already a Patreon supporter of mine at the $1 level, you'll need to bump up to $2 / month for a bit to get access to the cookbook and new recipes. You can bump back down again when the book's done, if you like. :-)

If the recipes are non-vegetarian, I'll try to suggest substitutions to make them work as vegetarian dishes. Generally, if the dishes are vegetarian, most will also be vegan. Spice levels may be adjusted to your desire, from totally mild all the way up to super-hot -- it's mostly just a question of how much chili powder / green chilies you put in, though I'll try to indicate what is generally culturally appropriate.

Sign up here: https://www.patreon.com/mohanraj

Questions?
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"Genre fiction is really good at revealing things through contrast. For example, Mary Anne Mohanraj’s The Stars Change is about humans and aliens facing a terrorist attack on a distant university planet, but it’s actually about the range of reactions that humans have to crisis. She could have told a story about any one of a hundred real crisis situations on Earth, but telling a science fiction story allowed her to use what was different—distant planets, genetic modifications, aliens—as a foil to highlight what stays the same—the indomitable courage and altruism people can show in the face of disaster."
Annalee Flower Horne weighs in on The Intersection of SF/F Games and Genre Fiction.
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So, I said I wanted more Sri Lankan-flavored low-carb, high-protein food, so I decided to experiment. This is not that, but it is quite yummy, and now that I have a batch of green chili sambol made up, I'm going to try it in a wrap and/or salad tomorrow, I think. This is a great quick lunch at home, assuming you've grilled a bunch of shrimp in advance (I do a pound, and then throw it into things all week), and have a batch of green chili sambol in your fridge. Just take two minutes to toast your naan, assemble, and eat!

***

Green Chili Naan, Topped with Grilled Shrimp and Fresh Mango

(makes two light servings (200 calories each), or one hearty one (400 calories))
2 T (or to taste) green chili sambol (30 calories, see below)
2 oz. chopped mango (40 calories)
3 oz. grilled shrimp (100 calories, about a dozen shrimp)
1 slice naan (220 calories from Trader Joe’s)
cilantro to garnish

1. Toast naan, and assemble open-face sandwich. Would also make a cute appetizer in smaller portions, though a bit messy as mango bits fall off.

***

Green Chili Sambol

(makes roughly 2 cups, keeps for a long time in the fridge)
(200 calories / cup, about 15 calories / T)
1 c. grated coconut (unsweetened; if dry, reconstitute in a few T of hot milk)
2 medium onions
6 small green Thai chilies (more or less, to taste)
1 slice ginger
2 T lime juice
1 tsp. salt
dozen or so curry leaves
Chop coarsely, and then puree all ingredients in blender with about 1/8 c. water.

***

I was out of cilantro, so it's garnished here with a bit of kale, but that is just for the photo's sake. :-) The kale was unseasoned, so I took it off before eating! But you could probably do a layer of kale under the shrimp if you wanted. Or, if you want to make it richer, I am pretty sure some slices of avocado would taste great with this! May make it again soon, with avocado and cilantro, so I can photograph (and taste) it properly. :-)
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Mary Anne Mohanraj

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Nino Cipri Receives 2014 Working Class Grant from Speculative Literature Foundation
 
Chicago writer Nino Cipri has received the 2014 Working Class Grant from the Speculative Literature Foundation (SLF). The $750 award supports any purpose that the writer wishes to benefit their work.
 
The Speculative Literature Foundation created the Working Class Grant to support under-served and under-represented writers in speculative fiction, specifically those from working class, blue collar, low-income, or homeless backgrounds. While the award cannot provide all needs, it is intended to aid writers in overcoming financial barriers to writing speculative fiction.
 
Nino Cipri lives in Chicago, and is a speculative fiction writer and essayist. A 2014 graduate of the Clarion Science Fiction Writers Workshop, Nino's speculative fiction has been, or will shortly be, published by Tor.com, Fireside Fiction, Betwtixt, Daily Science Fiction, the Journal of Unlikely Entomology, and the Eunoia Review. Nino also reads submissions for Crossed Genres Magazine, and has authored book reviews for Strange Horizons and the Future Fire. They have written, staged, and worked on production for plays, short films and podcasts. 
 
Currently a part-time mechanic at Divvy, Chicago's public bicycle transit company, Nino grew up in a working class family that struggled with poverty. Making ends meet continues to be a challenge, combining part-time work with writing, even with impressive hard work and a rapidly-growing list of publications.
 
About Nino's story submitted for award consideration, "The Shape of My Name," jurors said, "This is a very original story, with an unusual take on time travel as well as gender and transgender issues . . . . pitch perfect. Very polished and potent."
 
About their family and storytelling, Nino wrote, "My family collects and distributes stories like heirlooms. Mostly small tales, funny ones with good punchlines. I grew up with these stories, and the ones I read or watched play out on TV, and it didn't take long before I was making up my own. Stories made sense of an otherwise incomprehensible world."
 
Jurors for the 2014 Working Class Grant include Linda Wight, Samuel Montgomery-Blinn, Rebecca Gibson, Andrea Hull, Jim Frenkel, Michael Lowrey, James Nicoll, Irene Nexica, Jake Casella, Fateh Singh, and Malon Edwards, Managing Director and Grants Administrator for the Foundation.
 
Founded in January, 2004 to promote literary quality in speculative fiction, the all-volunteer Foundation is led by Mary Anne Mohanraj and 30 other committed volunteers. The Foundation maintains a comprehensive website offering information for readers, writers, editors and publishers of speculative fiction, develops book lists and outreach materials for schools and libraries, and raises funds for redistribution to other organizations in the field, as well as four awards made annually to writers, of which the Working Class Grant is one. The others include the Gulliver Travel Research Grant, Diverse Writers/Worlds Grant, and the Older Writers Grant. For more information about the Speculative Literature Foundation, contact Malon Edwards at managing_dir@speclit.org or visit the website at http://www.speclit.org
 
The Mission of the Speculative Literature Foundation: To promote literary quality in speculative fiction, by encouraging promising new writers, assisting established writers, facilitating the work of quality magazines and small presses in the genre, and developing a greater public appreciation of speculative fiction.
The Speculative Literature Foundation'a mission is to promote literary quality in speculative fiction, by encouraging promising new writers, assisting established writers, facilitating the work of quality magazines and small presses in the genre, and developing a greater public appreciation of speculative fiction.
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Mary Anne Mohanraj

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Folks, some of you may not have heard that I was diagnosed with breast cancer a little over a month ago.  The prognosis is very positive, but it'll mean a year of procedures.  I've been blogging the whole thing, but haven't had time to post the entries here too, and probably won't.  So I just wanted to note where you could find them:

 - Facebook (mixed in with lots of other posts):  https://www.facebook.com/mary.a.mohanraj  - Patreon (if you subscribe, you can have them e-mailed to you): https://www.patreon.com/mohanraj  - my own blog, searching for "cancerlog" -- http://www.mamohanraj.com/journal/search-results.php?Search-Text=cancerlog&Search=Search
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So sorry to hear about the cancer. Please add me to your groups. I will follow, and I am just learning how to blog, and am writing a 2nd children's  book presently , and/or learning how to self publish, etc.  God bless you!
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I'd gotten a little behind on adding stories to my website (as they came out of exclusion periods with the print magazines / anthologies). Oops. Starting to catch up now -- here's "Sanctuary," which was published in George R.R. Martin's Wild Cards series. It was published in Fort Freak, as part of a mosaic novel, but I think it makes reasonable sense as a stand-alone story. There's a sequel, "Ties that Bind," that's just come out in the newly-published Lowball.

"Kavitha eased her way out of her daughter's room, closing the door quietly behind her. It had taken longer than usual to get her toddler down; Isai had insisted on telling her a long, incomprehensible story about Daddy and dragons. When Michael got home from the station, Kavitha would have to ask him if he'd said something to Isai. In Jokertown, it was entirely plausible that Michael had encountered real dragons in the course of his detective duties -- or at least something close enough to pass for real. He was going to have to stop reading his daughter police reports; Isai was getting old enough to understand them. And even though the child appeared to be fearless, some of the things Michael dealt with on a day-to-day basis terrified even Kavitha; Isai didn't need to hear all the gritty details of Daddy's job. Not yet. Isai might be an ace, with fearsome shapeshifting abilities, but she was also only two-and-a-half years old. Michael was just going to have to learn how to make stories up. Appropriate stories.

Kavitha was startled out of her newfound determination by a knocking on the door. Not loud, but somehow frantic. Who in the world…? They didn't get a lot of visitors. Kavitha took a few quick steps down the hall to the apartment door, and peered through the little circle of glass. Her eyes widened as she took in the brown-skinned woman on the other side of the door, her face covered in blood and darkening bruises, her arm bent at an angle that was just wrong. Kavitha hesitated a moment, mindful of the child sleeping in the other room -- but this woman was small and soft and broken. Kavitha couldn't just leave her standing in the hallway. It wasn't as if Kavitha weren't able to defend Isai, if the need arose -- in theory, anyway. Michael kept urging her to practice using her powers as a weapon, but she hated weapons. Ironic, considering her boyfriend carried one every day…."

http://www.mamohanraj.com/Stories/sanctuary.html
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Yeah, that was my plan.   Adding it to the top of my TBR pile.  If that thing ever falls over it'll register on the Richter scale...
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The New Lamp

Nightmares all night, the stupid kind,
where you are late for class, or naked, 
or chased by bears. The day drags.
The thought of working makes me
weep, but somehow, I manage. Children
are fed, rooms straightened, chaos
staved off for one more day. I had
such plans for today, but some days,
maintaining is the best you can do.

I accomplished one thing. A lamp, bought 
weeks ago, finally installed, and a beanbag,
stolen from the playroom, tucked 
underneath. It was meant for a reading
nook in my daughter’s room, but she
does not love to read. The child plays 
pretend with her dolls, for hours on end.
Stories one way or another are fine 
with me. Stories and light. What else 
do we have, to drive out the dark?
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I love this, and am in a state of soul tonight where it resonates...not precisely "happily" but profoundly satisfyingly.

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My preliminary schedule for AnomalyCon in Denver, 3/27 - 3/29:
Saturday 10: Overcoming Barriers
Brilliant authors talk about breaking out of the stereotypes to be successful in art and fiction.

Saturday 12: Writing Characters of Impact
Women. QUILTBAG. People of color. They all have a common trend throughout fiction: The person who gets rescued or killed at the whim of the hero or villain. We're here to change that. It's not just about strength.

Saturday 1: Author Free-For-All
Don't miss this wild answer to every question you never thought to ask your favorite authors! Twitter meets steroids.

Saturday 2: Women Are Ruining Science Fiction
Mary Shelly invented the Science Fiction genre. But we've heard that female writers are ruining science fiction. These amazing and wildly successful science fiction authors are here to put your suspicions where they belong--back in the middle ages.

Sunday 12: Social Linguistics
A discussion on the evolution of the meaning of words through their social use, as well as the development of colloquiallism.

Sunday 2: Becoming Uncomfortable
Difficult Conversations to expand our understanding of community. Being willing to ask--and answer--the hard questions.
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Another healthy (?) eating note.  Yesterday, when Kat was over for writing date, I asked her if she wanted salad or pasta for lunch.  It was a little chilly in the house, so I wasn't surprised when she opted for pasta -- it was what I really wanted too.  I had some rotini and meat sauce left over from dinner the previous night -- I'd made a fairly standard sauce by browning onions and garlic, adding ground beef, a can of chopped tomatoes, and a leftover half jar of brand tomato sauce.  Fine as far as it went, but I wanted something even yummier for lunch.

So I reheated the meat sauce, added crushed red pepper to amp up the spice level, a cup of wine, and a cup of alfredo sauce (I like the Rana brand, that come in little plastic cups).  Now that was luscious.  Let it simmer for a while, tasted, added some red wine vinegar for a bit of tang, and then it was pretty much perfect -- exactly what I wanted, anyway.  I stirred in the cooked pasta noodles and served.

Now, here's the healthy eating part.  I wouldn't normally have a meal that was that heavily weighted towards carbs and fat.  But as far as I can tell, I do best on an overall balanced diet.  I was planning on a salad + protein a few hours later, so I was okay with having this particular meal tilted in the other direction.  This is one of the guidelines doctors give us for feeding kids -- they don't have to eat a balanced diet at any given meal, but over the course of the day, you want to aim for that.  Maybe that means a mid-morning snack of blueberries and strawberries, a mid-afternoon snack of cucumber and bell pepper slices (with a little ranch dip or hummus), and a pre-dinner sliced apple.  You don't have to force vegetables directly onto the lunch and dinner plates, which can save a lot of anxiety and effort all around.

So I was okay with the balance of the meal -- which left the calories.  I did a quick count, and my best estimate was that this was roughly equivalent to a spaghetti bolognese, on the richer side.  About 550-600 calories / cup.  It might've been less, but better to estimate high, in case.  That's a ton, but here's the thing -- I had half a cup for lunch, and another half cup for dinner (with grilled shrimp caesar salad in between around 3), and I felt really full and satisfied.  All that yummy protein-carb-fat was very filling, esp. with a little parmesan on top.  

The only problem was that when I took my half cup of super-rich pasta, it didn't look like a lot of food, which meant I was really tempted to take more.  This is where measuring implements are your friend.  I wasn't in Weight Watchers for more than a month or two; it's not quite my thing.  But one thing I actually found helpful from them was a set of measuring implements they sell -- what look like large serving spoons, the sort you'd have out at a dinner table, even at a party, but which have cup measurements discreetly inscribed under the handle.  

I had allocated myself 300 calories, so I took the half cup of pasta, sprinkled it with cheese, went to go sit down with my work to eat, trying to eat it slowly and savor each bite, accompanying it with a cup of tea.  There was, of course, the temptation to go back for seconds -- but I was actually full -- it was just the taste in my mouth that was really making me want to keep eating.  So I put my bowl in the dishwasher, transferred the rest of the food into a Pyrex and put it in the fridge.  I could, of course, go in and heat some up again, but I made it a little more difficult.  And I peeled and ate a clementine -- the tart sweetness did a great job of refreshing my mouth and making it not crave the creamy spice flavors.  Then I went back to work, satisfied, and even though I ate this super-rich food for lunch and dinner, my scale is a little bit further down this morning.  (3 pounds down since I started this three weeks ago.)

I feel like I want to write a longer essay at some point about why people who lose weight tend to put it back on again.  A lot of people can be super-disciplined about almost anything for a restricted period of time, but if  you're not making changes that you can continue practicing long-term, in a somewhat less-restricted fashion, you'll probably gain weight again.  

And I want to link that idea to something about community support -- it's much harder to lose weight if you a) have to cook differently for your entire family on a daily basis, b) live in an area without access to fresh produce, c) can't afford to buy healthy, appealing food, d) can't afford to buy yourself a set of smaller plates (American plates are generally oversized), e) have social activities that are all centered around food, f) have a job that keeps you sedentary much of the day, etc. and so on.  

I mean, these aren't new observations, but I think about it in the context of welfare, actually -- it's one thing to have food pantries, or give people WIC money, so they can buy milk.  That's the bare minimum, that's what keeps them alive, and it's certainly better than nothing.  But if you can give them six months of basic income so they have time and energy to job hunt?  Or maybe give them free childcare so they can take those classes to finish up a college degree?  There are better ways to do this, ways that involve changing the system around us, in bigger and smaller ways, practices that make life so much easier and more manageable.  

The first time I was dieting (I'd gotten up to two sizes heavier than I am now), Kevin would cook in the middle of the night sometimes, and I'd wake up to find pizza or other tasties in the fridge -- but he'd portioned them out into reasonable sizes and labelled them with calorie counts.  It was so incredibly helpful.  I find requiring restaurants to post their calorie counts also helpful -- I've been more than a little shocked by how many calories are in things I like (like the Wendy's spicy chicken sandwich).  Now I know that if I want that food, I'd better split it with Kevin, or at least portion it off and save half for another meal.

Rather than blaming people for lack of willpower, we need to recognize that our society is currently geared heavily towards weight-gain, and consider what can systematically change, at least on the individual / family level, where you can control it.
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Writer and English Professor
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  • University of Illinois at Chicago
    Clinical Assistant Professor, 2008 - present
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Negombo, Sri Lanka - New Britain - Chicago - Philadelphia - Oakland - Salt Lake City - Oak Park
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Trying to fail better.
Introduction
Writer, professor, mother. http://www.maryannemohanraj.com

Mary Anne Mohanraj is the author of Bodies in Motion (HarperCollins) and nine other titles. Bodies in Motion was a finalist for the Asian American Book Awards, a USA Today Notable Book, and has been translated into six languages. 

Mohanraj founded the World Fantasy Award-winning and Hugo-nominated magazine, Strange Horizons and the erotica magazine Clean Sheets. She was Guest of Honor at WisCon 2010, received a Breaking Barriers Award from the Chicago Foundation for Women for her work in Asian American arts organizing, and won an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship. 

Mohanraj has taught at the Clarion SF/F workshop, and is now Clinical Assistant Professor of fiction and literature and Associate Coordinator of Asian and Asian American Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  She serves as Executive Director of both DesiLit and the Speculative Literature Foundation.

Recent publications include "Talking to Elephants" (Abyss & Apex) and "Jump Space" (Thoughtcrime Experiments).  She lives in a creaky old Victorian in Oak Park, just outside Chicago, with her partner, Kevin, two small children, and a sweet dog.
Bragging rights
Author of ten books; mother of Kavya and Anandan Whyte
Education
  • University of Utah
    Ph.D. in English Lit. and Creative Writing, 2000 - 2005
  • Mills College
    MFA in Creative Writing, 1995 - 1997
  • University of Chicago
    BA in English Literature, 1989 - 1993
  • Miss Porter's School
    High School, 1985 - 1989
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July 26
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In an open relationship
The Pabellon empanada is delicious -- chicken or beef with black beans, fried plantains, and cheese, wrapped in a tasty fried empanada and served with green salsa. I would have liked it a little spicier, but they do have Tabasco there to heat it up; next time, I might ask if they'd be willing to throw some green chili in too. I had the chorizo arepa another time -- good, but very rich (with all the fried chorizo), and the arepa was too big for my appetite. The empanada is a perfect size for lunch.
• • •
Food: ExcellentDecor: Very GoodService: Excellent
Public - 2 years ago
reviewed 2 years ago
1 review
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