Yaaay, it’s finally here! It seems like ages ago that I was sitting at work and was randomly hit with the idea: “What if someone started dating what they thought was one person, but they didn’t realise that they were actually seeing twins?” Obviously I couldn’t pass that up! ^-^
I knew almost instantly that the main character was going to be genderqueer, but for a long time I couldn’t quite get the setting right. I kept imagining the characters at a British-style magical academy, and feeling like it just wasn’t quite right. Then I realised that I was viewing the story through my “white person default” glasses, and decided to try switching the setting, and the story immediately came into focus! (Hasani as a blonde white guy? Uh, no. What was I thinking??)
Anyway, here are some of the places where you can purchase Double Take online, either for your e-reader, or to read on your computer:
I had a ton of fun writing this story, and I hope readers will enjoy it! I also want to draw everyone’s attention to the other stories in Less Than Three’s fab Trans Geek Out collection, because I truly believe it had something for everyone! It’s a lovely example of the diversity in the trans community, and how trans people can and should exist in all different types of stories.
I’ll let the fantastic covers speak for themselves, but click through for more info:
Thanks for reading! As always, have a picture of my cat looking impressed. She’s super proud of me for publishing a book. You can tell.
(Trigger warning on this post for mention of rape and incest.)
I meant to write this blog post ages ago, but the release date for Double Take totally snuck (sneaked?) up on me, so here I am writing it now! I did want to talk about this before release day, because I think it’s a fairly important topic.
So I’m of the opinion that there’s no such thing as a “bad” kink. The way I see it, kinks are natural, and no one should have to feel bad about something they can’t control. In fact, I think kinks are a great way to explore your sexuality and make your life more exciting! The thing is, some people have kinks that are inappropriate, immoral and/or illegal to act on. That’s why things like erotica and roleplay are important. They exist as safe and consensual ways to act out out a kink without actually hurting anyone.
But there are some people who feel that erotica that includes those kinds of kinks shouldn’t be published. Some people feel that by encouraging people who say, get turned on by reading about or roleplaying rape scenes, you’re encouraging those people to actually go out and rape someone. I don’t personally agree with that opinion, but that’s not what I want to discuss here. I want to discuss the opinion that books about certain kinks shouldn’t be published because they might trigger or upset someone who has experienced something horrible in a similar situation to the one that the book presents as sexy.
Which is a legitimate concern. I would absolutely hate to accidentally trigger or upset someone who has had a negative experience in the past, because they read my book without realising that it had sensitive content in it. But the answer is not to never publish anything that might trigger someone.
The answer, my friends, is content warnings.
Some people really don’t like the idea of content warnings. They think they’re a form of censorship, or an insult to the reader, who should apparently be able to handle anything the book throws at them, without any prior warning of the fact. Obviously, I don’t agree with that, and I’m luckily enough to write for a publisher who has a similar stance (and even has a nifty option to toggle content notes on and off on their website, so people can choose whether or not they want to be warned about potentially triggering or upsetting content.) I see content warnings as a common courtesy, a way to help potential readers make an informed choice, and maybe even get some new potential buyers, who like that particular kink that I’m “warning” them about.
In my opinion, it is absolutely acceptable for me to write about whatever kinks I want, and publish it for whoever wants to read it. But it’s also my responsibility as an author to do everything I can to keep someone from accidentally reading and being triggered by something I wrote. And one of the best ways I can accomplish that is to offer content warnings for my books.
So anyway, the point of all this is that my short story Double Take includes incest in it. The way it’s written, from the POV of a character who doesn’t realise at first that the person they’re seeing is actually twins, you don’t find that out right away. But I’m absolutely willing to sacrifice the “twist” element to make sure that no one goes into it unawares. Because while twincest is something that I enjoy reading and writing, there are people out there who have experienced incestuous abuse, and have to live with that, and I do not, in any way, feel that it’s acceptable to let my kink cross over and interfere in their real life recovery and happiness.
Anyway, I know this is all a bit heavy, considering Double Take is a cute, 14K smut fest, but I did feel it had to be said, and it applies to other stuff I might write in the future too. I hope that if Double Take is your thing, you’ll check it out, and if not, I hope you’ll check out the other stories in the Geek Out collection, as they’re all very different. A lovely testament to the diversity in the trans community and the geek community, I think. Thanks for reading! Have a picture of my cat!
So, with the #weneeddiversebooks movement still going strong, and everyone tweeting about their hopes and desires for #Romance2015, I thought I’d take a minute to take stock of how I’m doing diversity-wise with my books.
I’m doing this both because I want to highlight and promote my books in the hopes of getting them to people who want to read them, but also because I talk a lot of talk about writing diverse fiction, but at this point I don’t feel like my books 100% back me up. I want to see where I’m lacking, and how I can improve going forward.
I also want to encourage my author friends and followers to do this as well, because I want to read and support all your diverse books as well! So, without further adieu, here are My Diverse Books 2015:
None! In fact, I don’t currently have any books published with a female main character. This is something I really hope to remedy in the future, and I currently have two books in the works with female main characters. I’m very excited!
None! But people fall in love later in life too, so I want to write about that as well.
So, most of these lists are pretty sadly short. I especially need to make more of an effort to write female main characters, and more trans characters! And the two can definitely intersect. I also want to write more characters with disabilities, and who aren’t traditionally attractive and/or young.
I’m a little worried about this list though, because I don’t want to make diversity in my stories into something that I can check off and then go back to writing perfect white cis dudes. I want to throw out the idea that those characters are the default, and that everyone else is a special alternative. Writing diverse characters means that every time I come up with a new character, I’m drawing from the complete well of human experiences, and getting a new, unique person every time. It’s not about creating a character and then arbitrarily assigning them a minority. It’s about allowing my characters to be that way in the first place. If I chose human beings at random, and asked them to tell me their stories, I know those lists up there would fill up pretty fast. So I hope that in my writing I can reflect that.
Please let me know in the comments if you think of any other categories to add, and let me know the stories that you would like to see in 2015. Thank you for reading, and I hope everyone has a wonderful new year!
What a question! So much happened this year, not all of it good. I struggled with depression and anxiety, and for a few months I didn’t do any writing or social media, and considered whether or not writing was actually something I wanted to do. In the end I came back to it, of course. Because I didn’t really wanted to quit. I just wasn’t sure if I could do it. I’m still not sure if I can. Being online, putting myself and my work out there, it’s incredibly stressful and hard on me. But it’s also incredibly rewarding and meaningful. So I’m keeping on.
Mental illness is so often invisible. You fight, sometimes every day, just to be at the level of normal that other people take for granted. But I know that I’m not alone in this either, since so many authors struggle with things like depression and social anxiety. For all the drama that goes on in the online publishing community, I still get to feel like I get to have a community of people who understand me and support me, and that’s pretty amazing for me.
Anyway, despite all the down moments, 2014 was still pretty awesome. I feel like I became more confident in myself, especially in my gender identity, and I continued to put myself first and try not to feel guilty for doing what I need to to make myself happy.
I had two books come out this year! Ink & Flowers in June and To Summon Nightmares in November. The positive critical reception to them has been wonderful! Both of them are on a level of quality that I don’t think I could have achieved in years past. I really feel like I’ve improved as an author, and to know that I’m constantly improving and becoming more and more able to tell the stories that I want to tell is really rewarding. I also did a lot of writing this year, and, as a “LGBT author”, I’m making an effort to write more novels that aren’t just cis m/m. I’ve been writing almost exclusively stories with trans characters this year, and I just finished writing my first f/f!
All in all, my life is pretty good. I have a wonderful partner, and a stable job, and a place to live with enough food to eat, and a little bit of money left over. I got to take a couple trips into Vancouver earlier this year, one to see Wicked live, which was totally on my bucket list, and one to go to the Pride Parade! I haven’t been able to make it the last few years, so it was absolutely lovely to be able to go and have that sense of community and support that you don’t really get in a small town.
So, plans for the new year:
Keep on writing! I’ve found that there’s real value in pushing myself to continue, even when I don’t feel like it, although I’m going to have to keep my mental health in mind and take a break if I really need one. I just started a m/m superhero story that I think is going to be fun to write. It insists on being about teenagers though, so when I do finish it, deciding what to do with is going to be a challenge. But I’ll deal with that when I come to it. After that is a blank slate, but I hope to be able to get Skylark Tower and Witch, Cat and Cobb published sometime next year. Double Takeis also coming out in January, which will be a lovely start to the year.
With luck, the bf and I will be able to get a mortgage in the new year and buy our own condo sometime next year! So that’s where the majority of our $$$ will probably be going, although I do want to get another tattoo, since I didn’t get one this year. Oh, and I’ll be travelling south to Seattle to attend the Gay Romance North West convention! My first author convention, and I’ll finally get to meet a bunch of people that I’ve known on the internet for years. I’m one part excited, and one part terrified, with a dash of absolute panic about the whole thing, but I do think it will go well. Which reminds me, I need to get a passport.
Anyway, if this post comes off as a little bit discombobulated, it’s because I’m still recovering from this!
Christmas fondue! It was lovely! See my tumblr for more photos. I also got some wonderful presents, including a freaking awesome Spider-man mug. (My love for Spider-man runs deeeep.)
So here’s hoping everyone had a very merry Christmas, and wishing everyone best of luck in the New Year! Love you all!
This is just a housekeeping blog post, since I’ve been busy lately, and have a bunch of little thoughts that I wanted to gather together into a post. It’s been a pretty crazy week, with To Summon Nightmares being released, and working lots, and dealing with a particularly severe, if short-lived, bout of depression. I think it may have partially been brought on by book release nerves, which is a pain. Something that will hopefully lessen the more books I release. Anyway, onward!
So, if you received an ARC copy of To Summon Nightmares from NetGalley, and were really confused by the ending, it’s probably because you received an early copy that had a glitch in which part of chapter one was pasted onto the end. A few people misunderstood and thought that I had pulled a Stephen King style eternal time loop ending on them, which – really, I’m not that evil! Although, interestingly at least one person said they liked it that way. So there’s an example of artistic value in interpretation for you or … something. Anyway, if you have the glitchy copy and would like the proper, final version, just let me know and I’ll send it to you.
Secondly, if you read To Summon Nightmares and liked Cohen, do your self a favour and listen to this excellent song. It’s Cohen’s favourite, and he can often be heard singing it in the early mornings when Niall is trying to sleep.
So, what’s next? Well, Christmas is coming, and I’m super pleased to have been able to write a short story for a Christmas anthology, especially since it meant getting into the Christmas spirit back in June. x) The Anthology is called A Touch of Mistletoe and … well, I haven’t read the whole thing yet, because I’m waiting to get the paperback so I can sit and read it in front of the Christmas tree with a mug of hot chocolate, but it includes some of LT3’s best authors (and me! <–good save) so I’m thinking it’s gonna be excellent. So that comes out December 16th.
Then on January 27th we have Double Take (this is what happens when you decide to write a few short stories in a row) which is part of LT3’s Trans Geek Out Collection. I’m going to share the cover again, because holy crap, I love it so much. If you’re not a fan of incest or menages, then this story is not for you. If you are a fan of misunderstandings, cute genderqueer characters with blue hair and smut, then this story is definitely for you.
As for upcoming projects, I am still knocking away at Skylark Tower. Still. I may die first, in which case, go ahead and publish the unedited draft posthumously, I’ll be dead, so I won’t care. That’s … pretty much how work on this story is going. No, honesty, I really love this story a lot, and I feel really strongly that it’s a story that needs to be told, which is why I’m working so hard on it. It’s sitting at about 53K right now, and I think I might have another 10K or more in me for it, which is good, because I have a problem with my stories being too short. I’m also eventually going to be looking for some more betas, particularly ones who are of Southeast Asian descent, identify as transgender, or who have some academic knowledge of class struggles and revolutions. Yeah, it’s that kind of story. Also, steampunk, if that interests you.
I do have ten days off work coming up (yay!), and I’m going to try to either finish Skylark, or else Witch, Cat and Cobb, which really only needs another 5K that I’ve just been putting off. It’s a fun, light f/f fairytale. I try to contrast my dark, longer works with shorter fluffier stories, to keep myself upbeat.
And after that, I’m not sure! I have quite a few ideas knocking around in my head, but nothing’s really grabbed me super hard yet. I’m thinking of another m/m contemporary because $.$ … ahem, because I’m trying to save up for a down payment, and I’d really appreciate another paycheck like the one I got for Ink & Flowers. But I also want to write more trans characters – I need to write more trans characters. I keep trying to come up with cis characters but they keep ending up trans. Sort of like when I try to think up a contemporary setting and my brain is like “wait, but have you considered vampires? OR they could be on a SPACE STATION. Yeah!” So we’ll see if I manage.
And I have rambled for long enough, I think. I will sign off with a picture of my cat, of course, and wish you all a very lovely week! Bye!
Edit: Oh, I almost forgot! I’m going to be doing some reading on my days off, so if you’ve read any particularly good books lately, please rec them in the comments! (I’m partial to queer romance, of course.)
The winner of the giveaway has been chosen, congrats Rebecca! If you didn’t win, there are still a couple of other giveaways open here and here.
I’ve received some lovely advanced reviews which are incredibly appreciated. Check them out here and here.
*cue heartwarming music, designer dress and gold statuette* I just want to thank everyone who helped make this book a reality, from my betas and early readers, to the editors and designers who worked so hard on it. Thank you to Less Than Three Press for their commitment to publishing diverse queer books, because to be able to read and write books about people like myself is still a dream come true. Thank you to everyone who follows me and shares my rambly blog posts (more where those came from) and to everyone who took the time to message me telling me how much the story meant to them. Holy crap, those are the best messages in the world!
Seriously though, it’s a really amazing thing to be a part of this awesome community and to get to do what I love. And know that my sarcastic, brittle heart is dying a little inside me from all this sappiness. But it’s true, goddamit!
Anyway, a writer’s work is never done! I’ve got more books and blog posts and smut to get to writing. Stay tuned, love you all!
And, of course, because what would my blog be without a million and five pictures of my cat, here she is in all her glory:
So today I want to talk a little bit about my Queer Origin Story. The whole story is long and sordid and probably quite boring, honestly, but I want to talk specifically about books.
Okay, first, go read this post by E.E. Ottoman on getting queer romances into local libraries, because it’s a great post, and their questions at the end got me thinking about my history with queer books, and how important they were to me.
Like a lot of authors, I was a voracious reader as a child. I started with the Magic Tree House books in grade three and basically never stopped. My mother took me to the public library in our town (which, looking back, was pretty damn huge and awesome, thought I didn’t realise it at the time) and I took out a stack of books every few weeks, and read through them in short order. My mom often joked that we were keeping the place in business with all the late fees we paid, but at least that didn’t stop her from taking me.
I continued reading all the way into high-school, when I made my way from the children’s section of the library over to the special “teen” section. And it was there, and in my high-school library, that I first encountered queer characters.
I wish I could remember the names of the books I read. Have this quote by Neil Gaiman instead:
“Stories you read when you’re the right age never quite leave you. You may forget who wrote them or what the story was called. Sometimes you’ll forget precisely what happened, but if a story touches you it will stay with you, haunting the places in your mind that you rarely ever visit.”
― Neil Gaiman
It’s pretty accurate. I remember the characters, the words, could even recite some of them probably. But I can’t remember the titles or the authors. Sometimes I’ll scour goodreads or amazon looking for them. But, like the quote says, they stayed with me, touched me, and left a very powerful nostalgia behind. In fact, most of the books I remember reading as a teenager had LGBT characters. I don’t know if it’s just because my libraries had a good selection of them, or because I was particularly drawn to LGBT stories, even though it often wasn’t hinted at in the blurb. I suspect though, that those are just the books I remember the strongest. The ones that really deeply affected me.
I grew up in a Christian household where homosexuals were people who made the choice to sin. I was taught to judge, to condemn, to pity. I grew up haughty, believing myself better than others because of my faith. But when I read these books, I saw the world through the characters’ eyes. I understood them, felt sympathy, even though in my mind I felt compelled to judge and condemn them. Maybe that conflict that happened in my mind every time I read a gay character is what caused them to be burnt into my subconscious. Without a doubt, it changed my opinions on homosexuality, which in turn made my own coming out just a little less painful. I didn’t actually believe I was evil, or that what I was doing and feeling was a sin. Why? Because I had read about characters like me. Characters who were good and normal and, every now and then, got to have their own happy end.
I absolutely believe that books can change people, and the world, for the better. I write queer characters not just because I enjoy them, but because I believe that through them, people might be able to gain sympathy for others, and understanding of themselves. And as a kid, libraries were my pathway to those books. I’ll be forever grateful to the authors of those books, and the librarians who made them available to me.
Promo time! My book, To Summon Nightmares, which features a bisexual transgender main character, a fairly evil demon, a really evil organisation, some bad-ass ladies, and quite a few more summoning rituals than is widely recommended, is out November 5th.
Three years ago, Cohen Brandwein was “Ireland’s Favorite Daughter”, a popular teenage author and internet celebrity. But ever since he came out publicly as trans, the media’s treatment of him has been less than golden, and these days, Cohen is desperate for escape.
When he inherits an old house in the country, Cohen sees it as a perfect opportunity to escape the press and work on his new book. What he doesn’t count on is becoming embroiled in a small town murder mystery and falling for the primary suspect, a man whose reality makes Cohen’s fantasy books seem like child’s play…
To Summon Nightmares comes out in just over a month, and I’m filled with both excitement and trepidation.
I’m excited because I honestly believe that it’s a great book, and I can’t wait to share it with the world. It’s probably the best book I’ve ever written, and at the time of writing it, it definitely was. There was a flow to the writing that hadn’t been there before. I knew what I was doing, and although I ended up having to scrap and rewrite quite a bit, I felt confident in my ability to make it better, and to really write something good. I believe that confidence is one of the best tools that an author can have. To make the audience believe that you know what you’re doing, to make the audience trust you, is invaluable.
On top of that I’ve had a couple of people who read early versions go out of their way to tell me how much they liked it, and that it was one of their favourites.
It’s also a subject that is very personal to me, and writing stories with transgender characters is something that I feel is incredibly important. In this story, the fact that Cohen is transgender isn’t just a medical condition from his past (although I think stories that have trans characters without revolving around that fact are important too.) He’s in the midst of the turbulence of transition, dealing with issues of self and self-image, and wrestling with dysphoria. I wanted to get up close and personal with Cohen’s dysphoria, and much of it is lifted directly from my experiences. It’s a story about a turning point, and writing it mirrored and became a turning point in my own life as well.
So the trepidation I’m feeling is because I suspect very strongly that it’s not going to sell well. I shouldn’t care so much, I know. I should be happy if it reaches a few readers who really love it. And it really isn’t about money (although money would be nice, haha.) My last book, Ink & Flowers, did phenomenally well. But hey, it was a contemporary romance with conventionally attractive gay cis boys. That’s what sells. Paranormal fantasy with a chubby trans lead? Probably not so much. I know I’m getting ahead of myself here, and it might end up selling very well. I’m mostly trying to prepare myself for disappointment. But I’ve read plenty of testimonials from authors who want to write more trans characters, but unfortunately they rely on writing for their income, and trans stories, they say, just don’t sell.
I want to become a successful author with a wide reach. But I don’t want to have to sacrifice writing stories that mean something to me. (Not that I&F didn’t mean something to me, because it did, but so does Nightmares.) So what do I do? And I know I’m not the first author to lament this. But I do want to be able to retire from my day job eventually. And I don’t want to stop writing trans characters either. The only solution I can think of is just to keep writing really, really good trans stories, and hope they catch on!
Anyway, after all that, I don’t want to be a huge douchewaffle and start pressuring you to buy my book. Instead I think I’ll link to a few romance books about trans characters by authors who I would love to see more trans stories from. If you would too, consider supporting these books!
If you know of more, please feel free to link in the comments! And of course, you can pre-order To Summon Nightmares here.
And this blog post is now over the recommended length of 500 words, and doesn’t contain anything close to the optimal quota of cat pictures. So I’ll leave you with a photo of my cat and no more words, and that’ll have to do! Cheers!
Hello, all! I’m coming off an absolutely lovely week of holidays from my day job. It’s been gorgeous and sunny out, and I’ve been relaxing, playing video games, eating, and of course, writing.
It’s a little bittersweet for me, having to go back to the wretched day job. It’s not a horrible job, by any means. It pays well (over minimum wage anyway) it’s relatively low stress, and it gives me medical benefits. But at the same time, for someone who is on good days, an introvert, and on bad days, an anxiety-ridden lump, going to work, pasting a smile on my face and interacting with people for eight hours a day takes it’s toll. This holiday was a little glimpse into what life on the other side is like.
I want to be able to one day quit my day job. I don’t think it’ll ever happen. Right now I’m able to only work 4 days a week and write the other three, and I consider that a blessing even. But I can dream.
Anyway, like I said, I got quite a bit of writing done. I’m about 8K into a new story called Witch, Cat and Cobb, a cute fantasy romance about a princess who runs away and falls in love with a witch. It’s my first lesbian romance, and I’m really enjoying it. I’ve been pushing myself to write more female characters, and confront my internalised misogyny that tells me I won’t enjoy writing/reading female characters as much. I really am enjoying writing this, and I hope others enjoy reading it too.
It’s also a nice break from the 50K story I’ve been working on SINCE THE DAWN OF TIME (since last year.) It’s tentatively titled Skylark Tower and is a steampunk romance with a transgender narrative and also a revolution. It’s very complex, emotional, and has taken it’s toll on me in terms of deciding how I feel about serious issues and how I want to portray them. Right now I’m in the process of completely re-typing the whole thing and editing it as I go, and it’s arduous. I think I’m seeing the end of the tunnel though, and like I said, WC&C is a very nice diversion.
I’ve got lots of publishing news too! We’ve got To Summon Nightmares finishing up it’s serial rotation and coming out on November 5th.
Then A Touch of Mistletoe, the Christmas Anthology I wrote a story for is coming out December 17th. My story is called Here For You, and it’s about a blind piano teacher who is convinced he’s going to be alone forever after the death of his wife, until he meets a man who makes him question that, along with his sexuality.
Ink & Flowers is also going to be released as an audiobook around that time! I’m excited, but also not sure I’m going to be able to make myself listen to the whole thing. Especially not the sex scenes. >.< Anyone else get super embarrassed hearing their work read out loud?
Then! (yeah, I’m not done) on January 28th, LT3’s Trans Geek Out collection will be released, which includes my genderqueer twincest menage story (say that three times fast) Double Take! You can buy all the stories individually, or get the bundle (tip: get the bundle) and read all of them!
And finally (at last, I wanted to get this typed up, but I really want to go watch the new episode of Doctor Who) Prince of the Forgotten Planet is in the works to be translated into Spanish and French. Which is brilliant, because I’m sure French and Spanish people really want to read about gay magical tentacle sex and have had a limited selection up until this point. Just hold out a little longer, French and Spanish people!
I think that’s it! Thanks for reading, and have a great week, everyone!
If you follow me on twitter, you may remember a while back me talking about how I wanted to write a story in which the MC accidentally falls in love with twins, while failing to realise that they have been seeing two different people. Well ladies and gentlemen (and variations thereupon, of course) it turns out that particular threat was not idle!
Presenting Double Take:
I am absolutely in love with this cover. ^o^ It’s by Aisha, who never ceases to amaze me. It fits the story in a million little ways, and it’s gorgeous to boot.
I don’t have a blurb or a release date yet, but I couldn’t wait to share the cover. This story was so much fun to write. It’s tropey, a little bit angsty, and a lot smutty (spoiler: the love triangle is resolved the in only acceptable way imho), and it has a genderqueer main character!
It’s part of LT3’s Trans Geek Out collection, so it’ll be available to purchase individually, as part of a bundle, or in a print anthology. I’m super excited!