News! The Fairy Gift Re-release – New Cover – #Trans wins Best LGBT Memoir/Biography at Rainbow Awards!

Hello everyone! Long time, no blog! I hope everyone who celebrates had a wonderful holiday season! I was actually down with a bad cold for most of the holidays, so I didn’t get much celebrating done. I did go and see The Shape of Water, which was excellent and filled the fishman-romance-shaped hole in my heart.

This blog post is just to share a couple different pieces of exciting news! First up, The Fairy Gift has been picked up for re-release by Less Than Three Press! A new, lightly polished second edition will be available for purchase on January 24th, and is has a new cover!

thefairygift400

It’s so pretty! @.@ If you haven’t read The Fairy Gift, it was my first published book, and it’s a fun, sexy fairy tale about a plain young man who receives seductive powers from a fairy and is dragged into a world of magic and romance. And brothels. If you’re up for a light, tropey read, check it out! Pre-order here.

The other exciting news is that the trans memoir anthology I contributed to, #Trans did really well at this year’s Rainbow Awards! It tied for first place in the LGBT Memoir/Anthology category, and got second place in Best Transgender Book. Here’s what they had to say about it:

1) Trans was somewhat painful to read – not by any fault of the author but as a collection of difficult and heartfelt stories it was heart wrenching, but I felt it was a book that needed to be written and will be loved by many.
2) I rather like that each piece was allowed to create it’s own setting. The diversity of the pieces was part of the power of the book. The voice of each essay allowed me to glimpse into different worlds and gave me a clearer understanding of many things.
3) #Trans brings use collection of genuine stories from transgender and non-binary writers who share their heartfelt experiences and insightful thoughts on identity formation and how it has been impacted by technology, film, literature, social media, and music. Well written and edited, this is a must read for youth and adults.
4) #Trans is by turns academic, thoughtful, and provocative, providing insights and deconstruction of what it means to occupy a body in space and time… and how the internet has made it more possible than ever to find the others asking those same questions.
5) Thought provoking and informative, well written and edited, I really loved this book. It sparked quite a few family discussions! 
This was a total departure for me, but I’m really happy with how the anthology came out, and super proud of how well-received it’s been. Evelyn did an amazing job with it!
Well, I think that’s everything. I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year, and gets to read lots of excellent books. As usual, here is a picture of my cat being cute this Christmas:
IMG_2165
Thanks for reading, and Happy New Year!
Advertisements

Visualizing Self: Gender Identity in a Vacuum

Imagine your ideal self. How does it differ from how you look now? Are you more attractive? More masculine, more feminine? Skinnier, fatter? How does your voice sound? How do you have sex?

Now imagine your ideal self again, but in a social vacuum. Are you attractive in the way our society defines attractiveness? Are you masculine or feminine without the societal stereotypes attached to those things? Is the way you want to have sex the way society wants you to have sex?

How much of your ideal self is based on what other people think of you?

For a long time I didn’t want to medically transition. “I don’t want to go on hormones. I don’t want my voice to be lower, or to have more facial hair. I don’t want to have to explain the changes to people.” “My breasts are attractive, I don’t want to get rid of them. How would I explain it to my family?

Anxiety is a bitch. But I’ve been on anti-depressants that help with anxiety for a couple of years now. And I’ve started to realize that my reasons for not transitioning weren’t so much to do with what I wanted, but with what other people expected.

I’ve spent so much time trying to visualize my “ideal self.” Not having a societal representation of non-binary existence doesn’t help. But then again, the societal representation of “masculine” is not what I want to be either. I have to create that vacuum. I have to visualize myself in that space where “masculine” and “feminine” are not personality traits, but simply the body’s response to different hormones.

And more importantly, I’ve had to create a vacuum where who I want to be isn’t influenced by the anxiety I feel about coming out, explaining my androgyny to people, dealing with the response from my family. It’s just… who I want to be.

I do want to have a lower voice. I don’t want breasts. Maybe I do want to be a man,  but I want to be a radically different kind of man than what our current society says a man is.

Coming out sucks. Having to explain myself to people sucks. But it is what it is. And I can’t let those things affect my gender identity. As cliche as it sounds, I’m on the path to being the truest version of myself, and I don’t want to be stuck in traffic anymore.


Life updates!

In January I visited Dr Melady Preece in Vancouver, BC. I sat with her for an hour and talked about my experiences with dysphoria, and my desire for top surgery. At that time she suggested to me the possibility of going on a low dose of androgel to help ease the other symptoms of dysphoria. I didn’t like the idea at the time, but a few weeks later, I emailed her and asked if she could include a recommendation for HRT in her letter to my physician.

A couple months later, my physician received my diagnosis of gender dysphoria and letter of recommendation for top surgery from Dr Preece. He forwarded it to Dr. Bowman in Vancouver, and I’m now on the waitlist for top surgery.

I also asked my physician about my options regarding HRT, and he recommended me to Dr. Tregoning in Abbotsford, who is an endocrinologist who specializes in providing HRT to transgender patients. I made an appointment to see him, and we talked about my options. I stressed that my period was giving me a lot of dysphoria and I wanted a way to stop it without taking a lot of testosterone. I suggested the idea of estrogen blockers, and we decided to try that out.

So as of today I’m three weeks into a month-dose of estrogen blockers, and three weeks on testosterone! And the longer I’m on it, the more impatient I am for the results because, a few days before I started, I posted this picture on facebook:

IMG_0407

…and basically told everyone that I was starting HRT. And now that that’s out of the way, suddenly I do feel like I want the effects of testosterone after all. Hence what this post is about.

I posted about it so publicly because (besides wanting to get coming out out of the way) one of the main reasons I decided to transition medically is because I finally started to see other non-binary people doing it. Visibility and representation are so, so important for trans people. It’s where we look once we’ve finally managed to find ourselves in that vacuum. It can be lonely in there. And I want to be visible to others.


Promo time! I haven’t been working on anything much lately, but here are my three latest projects:

Junior Hero Blues is a gay superhero YA novel I published last year with Riptide Press’s YA Imprint Triton. Sea Lover is a m/m trans romance novella about a fisherman and a selkie that I published with Less Than Three Press also last year, and #TRANS is an independent collection of essays by trans people about their experiences online that I contributed to.

If any of these three interest you at all, please check them out!

And finally, no blog post would be complete without this beauty: IMG_0280

FEAST YOUR EYES!

Thanks for reading, everyone! I know I haven’t been active lately, but this blog still exists, and I really wanted to take the time to talk about my transition. Hope you enjoyed!

All The News! Cover Reveal, Tattoo, Print Copies etc….

Hello, everyone! Long time, no blog! I’ve been taking it easy, enjoying my new place, intermittently battling the great depression beast, as you do. I haven’t been writing at all, something I hope will change soon, but I have been editing and preparing for a couple of new releases, as well as preparing for GRNW in September! So, to that end, I have a bunch of stuff to share with you guys! Hold on, lemme get my camera.

Okay, so first off, these babies arrived:

IMG_5404IMG_5406

They are gorgeous, and I wish I could bring them with me to GRNW, but they don’t come out until November! *pout* But I think I’m going to see about maybe doing an advance giveaway possibly maybe. We’ll see. Anyway, next up is these!

IMG_5409

Please ignore the typo on the back. Oh great, now you can’t because I drew attention to it. Go me. I seriously can’t believe I didn’t notice that but… ah well, what can you do? Nobody’s perfect. They are still glorious and rainbow, and I’ll probably be handing them out at GRNW (with candy bribes attached!)

ALSO, I’m going to be on a panel at GRNW! It’ll be Trans Authors on Characters, Stories and Industry. We have an amazing line-up of trans authors, and it should be a pretty great panel! I’ll also be at the book fair selling books and just hanging out, if you want to come and talk to me!

So JUNIOR HERO BLUES is coming out November 7th (go pre-order!) but I also have another romance novella coming out sometime after that! No blurb or release date yet, but I just got the cover, so I have to show it off! It’s by the wonderful Aisha Akeju who like, takes images directly out of my brain and turns them into covers (she is obviously a witch) and this one is no different!

SeaLover

Perfect, right? Sea Lover is a fairly low-key, sweet romance between a seal-merman and a reclusive fisherman who finds him on the beach. I had a lot of fun writing it, and I can’t wait to share more!

And finally, in personal matters, I finally got a new tattoo!

IMG_5412

Taking pictures of your right arm with your left hand: surprisingly difficult. Anyway, it’s based off of the designs at Newgrange, and I couldn’t be more in love with how it came out. The placement, the size, even the fact that it looks like it was drawn by a human, and not a machine, are all exactly what I wanted. I actually didn’t know the exact placement I wanted going in, so I let the artist (Deborah at Unicus Studios) decide how it would look best, and she came up with this kind of off-centre position that I think looks so great and organic.

This one hurt like a mother-fucker too. Inside arm, and she had to start with a thin line and then go over it multiple times to thicken them. Ouch. It’s still quite tender and sore today, but it seems to be healing well. You can tell in the picture it’s still at that awkward healing, slightly swollen stage, but I’ll post photo updates on my twitter  to show how it comes out!

Thanks everyone for reading! 2016 has been an awesome year so far, and I hope it continues that way. Stay tuned for more info about Sea Lover, and a Junior Hero Blues giveaway.

Oh, and one more thing. No blog post is complete without this face:

tumblr_oabpblgw0m1qie2v3o1_540

She loves the camera.

Who I Write For: Trans Books for Trans Readers

Yesterday I came home to a lovely surprise: an email from a reader telling me how much they enjoyed Double Take. Getting personal messages from readers is one of the most rewarding and special parts of being an author, but this message was particularly special. It was from a reader who identified themself as agender, and they wanted to let me know how much they appreciated me writing a story with a non-binary protagonist.

The reason this message really floored me is because it made me remember who I wrote Double Take for. The thing is, when I wrote To Summon Nightmares, I wrote it at least partially for cis readers. I tried to explain Cohen’s dysphoria in the narrative, and show him as a sympathetic trans character that cis readers could relate to, in the hopes that it would help them gain some empathy for trans people.

But Double Take wasn’t written for cis readers. It was written for trans readers, particularly non-binary ones. I didn’t linger on describing the details of Teka’s dysphoria or transition, just stated them as facts. Understanding how and why Teka feels the way xe does about xemself is probably going to be a lot easier for non-binary readers who feel that way also. Not that cis readers won’t be able to relate to Teka – they just have to use their imagination a bit more. And since almost every single book out there features a cis main character, this really flips the tables.

Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

This is why it’s so important to write books not just with diverse characters, but with diverse main characters. Because the main character is who the reader identifies with, who they see the story through the eyes of. If a privileged person only ever has to relate to other main characters like themself, that limits their ability to empathise and understand the experiences of people who aren’t like them. And, even more importantly, it’s such a fantastic experience to be a person in a minority reading about a character who is like you for the first time. You don’t have to stretch your imagination to understand what this character’s life is like; it’s your life. It’s relieving and affirming, and really really special, and that’s what I want to do for trans and non-binary readers.

So that email reminded me not to worry so much about whether cis people like Double Take or not, because it wasn’t written for them. I do hope that cis people can read an enjoy as well, but at the end of the day, if other non-binary people are getting a story where they can identify with the main character, and they’re really enjoying it, that’s the most important thing.


Thanks for reading! If you’re interested, you can pick up Double Take here and To Summon Nightmares here.

Have a cat picture!

IMG_3344

Non-Consent, Shame and Female Sexuality

(Trigger warning for discussion of rape and dysphoria in this post.)

I’m completely ridiculous and can’t figure out how to embed a storify on here, so I’m just going to link to it. Go ahead and read: https://storify.com/7sigma/noelle-on-50-shades-of-grey

I wanted to talk about this. The truth is, while we all seem to get a kick out of bashing Fifty Shades of Grey for its abuse and lack of consent, we never seem to want to talk about the fact that it is far from the only romance novel to contain these themes. The romance genre has a long history of “bodice rippers” (I know, I said it.) Stories about women being manipulated or forced into marrying and/or having sex with a man they harbour secret desires for but don’t initially consent to. It’s problematic as fuck. But far more useful than bashing women for what they like, I think, would be to examine why exactly they do like it. In this case, I think Noelle and Christina hit the nail on the head. Fantasies about being forced into sex are common in large part because they allow women to fantasize about sex without having the feel guilty about their sexuality.

And I want to state here that I’m coming at this from a partial outsiders perspective, because I’m not a woman. I’m a genderqueer individual, so I’m not a man or a woman. But I was raised and socialized female, and so I grew up experiencing the shame and demonization of my anatomy and sexuality in ways that almost all women do. Did you know that it’s incredibly common for women to experience intense feelings of shame and guilt after masturbating? It’s embedded in our culture for women to feel bad for everything, for speaking up, for taking up space, for having sex, and yes, for enjoying it. “Sorry” is one of the words I say most often while having sex, and I know I’m not alone in that.

“By fantasizing about non-consent women can relinquish responsibility, and guilt, for their sexual desires.”

Women are taught to feel bad for wanting sex. It’s hard to enjoy yourself when you’re feeling guilty. In reality, being raped is a horrible experience, but in a fantasy where you secretly want it, but don’t have to deal with the guilt of admitting that you do, it can be an escape.

That makes me uncomfortable. I think it makes a lot of people uncomfortable. I’s easier to bash the surface aspects of 50SOG like the bad writing, the cases of the author behaving badly, and the way it’s been lauded as a how-to manual for sex, rather than talk about the fact that it, and a lot of other erotica out there are catering to a demand. A demand that our society has created by telling women that they are not allowed to initiate or want sex without feeling guilty about it.

And this actually crosses directly into the M/M romance genre as well. M/M romance and fan-fiction are much more popular than their F/F counterparts, and a lot of their appeal is, again, an escape for women. Reading about sex without having to associate with the body parts that we’ve been socialized to be terrified of and disgusted with is a huge relief. That’s why I’m also kind of wary when people bash women and call them misogynistic for not wanting to read stories with female sexuality in them.

Yes, it’s a problem when women are so disgusted by their own anatomy that they can’t even get off reading about it. It’s a problem when women can only get off to stories about them being forced into sex. It’s misogyny plain and simple. But it’s not women’s fault that they’ve been socialized like this. And I don’t want to stand around and bash women for wanting to use fiction to escape their oppression for a short while. That’s one of the reasons we have fiction. To escape reality.

But fiction also helps us view our reality more critically when we look back at it. It’s a long road, unlearning that disgust for female sexuality that we’ve grown up with. I’m not there yet. And it certainly doesn’t help that I feel guilty for preferring to read and write stories about men. But I do want to change it. I don’t like that I’m a bisexual person who can’t properly appreciate female sexuality. I want to push myself to appreciate women. I want to learn to stop saying sorry.

I’m also angry that society has done this to me. I’m angry that I can’t even tell how bad my dysphoria is, because I don’t know how much of the disconnect I feel to my body is intrinsic to me, and how much of it I’ve been taught. I’m angry that I feel guilty. And that I feel guilty for being guilty. It’s a never ending cycle.

So what do we do? I’m making an effort to read and write more F/F, even if it makes me feel uncomfortable. I’m forcing myself to give female characters a chance, to give them the same attention and love that I do male characters. But I’m also going to keep letting myself escape into male sexuality, and I’m not going to judge women who escape into non-consent fantasies. I just think it’s important to be critical, and understand why we’re feeling this way. Because that’s the first step to changing it.

In closing, here’s a fantastic, older post by E.E. Ottoman that delves into the topic of female sexuality and lesbian romance in more depth. Required reading IMO, as it put me on the path to being critical of the internalized shame I feel about female sexuality.

As always, thanks for reading! I’d love to hear opinions in the comments.

Being Happy in the Moment

I spent all last week in a blissful high that I call “not anxious or depressed”. I felt confident, sure of myself, and blissfully, freely happy. I try to savour those times as much as possible when I have them, and remember and document everything I’m feeling as rigorously as possible so that when I fall back into depression (as I have over the last few days- it seems to happen around the same time every month, like clockwork) I can remember everything I felt before, and remind myself that that’s what I really feel, and who I really am, not what my brain is currently trying to tell me.

One of the symptoms of depression that I struggle with a lot is a deep feeling of dissatisfaction. When I fall into a particularly bad bout, the things I normally like and take pleasure in suddenly no longer interest me. I try to be excited about the things that I normally am, but I just can’t feel it. And despite the fact that I know it’s my brain playing tricks on me, I can’t help but feel like everything about my life right now is not as good as it could be. When this happens, I start getting obsessed with and worrying about the future.

For instance, the bf and I are planning on buying a condo sometime this year. I habitually look at places for sale online, and think about design and decor ideas that I’ll be able to realise once I have my own place. It’s a nice pastime, but I’m okay about being patient, and I’m still quite happy in our current rental apartment. At least… most of the time.

When the dissatisfaction sets in, my brain tries to convince me that the reason I’m feeling this way is not because I’m lacking chemicals in my brain, but because I must be deeply unhappy and satisfied with my current living arrangements. I become obsessed with finding a new place to live, pining after the happiness that I’ve convinced myself I’ll be able to access once I have a better place.

This is bullshit, of course. It’s playing right into the “grass is greener” fallacy, and I know it. But my brain is nothing if not insidious.

The other problem I have a lot is with my writing. A lot of authors talk about how they have more ideas than they’ll ever be able to write down. That’s not exactly true for me. I mean, I’ve never gotten to the end of a project and had no inspiration for what to write next. But I often don’t get that inspiration until about two weeks before I finish my current project. Which means that right now I’m only 20K into what’s probably going to be a 60-80K project, but I’m already worried that when I finish this story, I won’t have anything to write next. I should be focusing on my current project, not worrying about the future.

And I know better. I know that if I try to come up with an idea for my next story now, I won’t be inspired to write it by the time I get around to it. And I know that buying a new condo isn’t going to magically make me happy if I’m not happy right now, especially since the unhappiness is so obviously to do with my brain, and not my environment.

I don’t know what to do except keep telling myself that this will pass. That there’s no reason for me to be feeling unhappy, and thinking up magical solutions for the future is only going to make me more frustrated and unhappy. I try my hardest to live in the moment, to be happy with what I have, and with the wonderful life that I’ve carved for myself. It frustrates me when my brain switches off, and tries to tell me that I’m not happy, when I know, I know that I am.

The Hyperbole and a Half comic on depression really sums it up the best I’ve ever seen. Read the rest here: http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.ca/2013/05/depression-part-two.html

Ah, I don’t know what to do about it besides ride it out. I was gonna try to make the end of this blog post all uplifting and cheerful, but … really, all I can do is try to keep myself comfortable and calm and wait this damn thing out.

I’m gonna write anyway, by the way. Because damnit, I’m a professional.


J.K. Pendragon writes stories, even when dealing with crippling cases of the sads. A lot of the time they’re super cute and fluffy, to make up for it. Like this one, which is coming out January 28th:

Double Take
Wordcount: 14,500
Price: $2.99
Genre: Fantasy, Genderqueer, Poly

Studying magical science at the prestigious Kemet Academy is a privilege and dream come true for Teka, a poor student from D’mt. But focusing on school doesn’t mean xe can’t also admire Hasani, the handsome graduate student overseeing Teka’s work.

Then late one night at the school library, Teka runs Hasani and is completely astonished when the stern, quiet man xe knows by day acts so flirty and casual, it’s like he’s a different person. When the late night encounter leads to dating, Teka can scarcely believe xyr luck.

But the luck plays out when xe discovers why Hasani seems so different between night and day, a discovery that seems to have no resolution except heartache…

Warning: This story features a poly relationship that includes twin brothers.

Excerpt
Pre-order (save 15%)

IMG_3159

Real talk: cats are a fabulous treatment for depression.

On Free Speech

How does one protect freedom of speech without condoning the actions of those who’s speech you’re protecting? I like to think it’s possible. The very notion of “free speech” says that people are allowed to say things that others agree or disagree with without fear of being legally or physically attacked. But there’s a line where freedom of speech and “hate speech” intersect. Where the hateful, racist, sexist or homophobic words of people cause harm and pain to others. Free speech is necessary because it allows people to speak out against their governments and their superiors without being silenced. But because of this, it also allows people to speak out against those who are vulnerable, and cause tremendous hurt while being protected from any legal repercussions. Because of this, I think of free speech as a sort of necessary evil.

When free speech is threatened by outside forces it is, obviously deplorable. Attacking or threatening to attack people who say things you disagree with is evil and unacceptable.  But I find it interesting the way the internet responds differently to similar situations. When terrorists threatened to bomb screenings of “The Interview”, many people responded with an outcry that this was an attack on free speech. However, many more people responded to this with derision, saying that the threat was in no way an attack on free speech, and that the movie The Interview was deeply racist and hurtful anyway. But now, with the similar (and incredibly tragic) attack on the French satire publisher Charlie Hebdo, people are again responding to this by rallying to protect the paper’s right to free speech, despite the fact that the paper has been known to publish plenty of racist content.

And I’ll be honest, seeing all these protests and the “Je Suis Charlie” hashtag has me really, really uncomfortable. And not because I don’t think free speech is important. But because, honestly, I’m much more worried about how the French Muslim community are going to be affected by this, than I am about the French people being unable to safely express their opinions.

Islamophobia runs rampant in America and Canada, but also in European countries. When a white Christian person is responsible for a mass murder or a bombing, he is considered an outlier, or a lone gunman. But when it’s a person of middle-eastern descent, the entire Muslim religion is considered responsible. Following these kinds of attacks, many Muslim people are afraid to leave their homes. They endure horrific abuse at the hands of racists who feel completely justified in their behavior because a very small group of religious extremists’ behavior is applied to the entire religion. Earlier today, the hashtag “KillAllMuslims” was trending.

And I’m honestly more worried about this than I am about the free speech of people in western countries. I imagine being a Muslim person seeing those crowds gathered in France and wondering how many of those people are there not because of the tragic deaths that occurred, but because of the vitriol of their hatred towards Islam. Vitriol that right now they feel completely supported and justified in. I wonder what it’s like to be a person of colour seeing Charlie Hebdo praised and revered as the paragon of free speech, and knowing the the fact that they published cartoons like this doesn’t factor into anyone’s opinion of them. Because for so many people, “free speech” doesn’t mean being able to stand up to an oppressive government, or live their lives free of persecution. It just means being able to say whatever hateful, racist things they want, and get away with it.

My heart goes out to the people and families of people who died today. I condemn the actions of the shooters whole-heartedly. I think it’s important that people and papers be allowed to say and print what they want without legal repercussions. But I’m extremely critical of the fact that this is what the media and the public have chosen to latch on to and focus on.

The whole thing just makes me very uncomfortable.

So How Was My 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.Ink & Flowers

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 To Summon Nightmareswrite 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 Take is 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!

IMG_3249


IMG_3257

IMG_3258

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!

IMG_3032

IMG_3065

Wouldn’t be complete without a kitty photo, of course!

Rethinking the Default

I’ve got a lot to say about this. How to organize my thoughts…

So a while ago, a fairly large review site posted a review of a book that was mostly positive. However, at the end of the review, they lamented the fact that the main characters were in an interracial relationship, but that fact wasn’t addressed and explored fully in the book. The reviewer felt that it was impossible for people in an interracial relationship not to receive backlash for it, and that the book should have addressed and included that backlash.

Similarly, another author I follow recently received a review for a short story they wrote in which both of the characters ID as trans. The story is a fairly short, cute romance, but the reviewer thought it was odd that the author didn’t delve deeper into the characters’ past, and their trans identities.

Noticing a trend?

Both reviewers assumed that if the characters belong to a minority, then that fact has to be addressed in the story. For them, the characters identities/race were just sitting there like a big elephant in the room waiting to be addressed, and they felt let down when it never was. Now, if the characters in the books had been white and cis, would they have reacted similarly? Felt let down if the white characters didn’t at some point contemplate their privilege over any non-white characters? Or if the cis characters never stopped to think about when they really realised that they were cis, and all the ways they perform their gender to make sure people know what it is? Probably not.

For most readers, characters who are white, cis and (for readers outside of m/m and f/f) straight, are the default. The invisible norm. They assume that characters are going to be this way unless they have a specific reason to be otherwise. Something that serves the story. The reason for this bias is our culture, and our culture’s stories. Mainstream movies, books, television shows. The vast majority of these stories have main characters who are white, cis and straight. And if they aren’t, you’d better believe that the story revolves around that fact. I read a post a while back that talked about famous, award winning roles by African American actors. The vast majority of them are roles that are based on real people, and real events. Black actors are very rarely allowed to step outside of specifically “black” roles and play characters who’s race isn’t the main point of the movie. (Unless, for some reason, they’re Will Smith.)

So, because of all this, we start to see white, cis, straight people as the “default” and everyone else as the “other”. Which is incredibly faulty logic, but it forms the basis for a lot of discrimination. And this default is no more present than in movies and books with straight, white, cis characters, and in the criticism of stories that feature the “other” without devoting the story to that fact. But when minorities hear criticism like this, what we’re hearing is “there is nothing interesting or important about you besides your struggle and your pain. You are not a full human being, with a life and interests and dreams beyond your struggle. No one wants to hear about you falling in love, or saving the world, or achieving your dreams, unless it is secondary to hearing about your subjugation.” And right now, it kind of feels like no one does.

That’s why it’s so important that stories exist with minority characters that don’t make that fact the main point of the story. And I’m not saying that stories about minorities’ struggles aren’t important. I’ve written them, and they can be incredibly useful in educating the public and changing people’s minds. But so can the stories that just have minority characters in them, for no reason except that those kinds of people exist in real life. We need these stories, and lots of them, so that maybe one day, the “default” will just be human.

I should note, also, that it seems to be much more common for authors to receive backlash for writing a minority character if they belong to that minority. There seems to be this very shitty universal assumption right now that if a white person writes a book about a POC, they’re being forward and brave and breaking stereotypes etc. but when a POC writes a book about someone like themselves, they have an “agenda” and the book needs to be more harshly critiqued. Which is bullshit, but there you go. I sometimes wonder if my decision to make Luke in Ink & Flowers of Chinese descent would have been more harshly criticized if I was Asian-Canadian myself, and I think that yes, it probably would have been. And that’s a problem, and something white authors have to keep in mind.

Getting off track a little here, but this topic is a whole can of worms that I could probably write a million more blog posts about. I’d love to hear people’s opinions in the comments. Have you ever read a book with a minority and felt that it was missing something by not being about their race/gender identity? Do you think “coming out” and “racism” narratives are still important, or that they should be retired for the time being in favour of more books and movies about “incidental minorities”? What are some defaults that you’ve had to unlearn, as a writer or as a reader? Let me know! And thanks for reading!


I’m excited to announce that Ink & Flowers will be available as an audiobook from Less Than Three Press on December 28th! LT3 now has a collection of audiobooks available for download on their website, and from Audible, Amazon and iTunes. Check it out!

Ink & Flowers [Audio]

About to lose his apartment, and desperate to avoid having to move in with his horrendous relatives, shy art student Luke impulsively agrees to a deal from hell: sex with a man he doesn’t know in exchange for a couch to sleep on.

His new “roommate” Cooper is everything that Luke hates: crude, uncouth, and covered in tattoos, not to mention openly gay. Luke has all but resigned himself to a miserable fate when it turns out Cooper might want something a little different than he expected.

Ebook
Print

Tips for Writers: Beating Self-Doubt

Every writer gets it sometimes. That feeling of crippling self-doubt. You’re writing away, minding your own business, and suddenly you decide that you might possibly be the worst author who ever lived. Maybe you got a bad review, or you’re staring down a recently finished manuscript and realising how badly you missed the mark. Your writing is awful, childish, lacking in subtlety. You’re a joke, no one will ever want to read your work. You tell yourself that this feeling is normal, and irrational. That every author feels this way sometimes. But what if in your case, it’s true? What if everyone who’s read your book and said they liked it was lying? What if those reviewers were just being nice? You’re so embarrassed, you just want to crawl into a hole and never let anyone read another word you’ve written.

Okay, stop it. Slap yourself firmly in the face, and snap out of it.

It’s harder than it sounds, and there’s really no way to escape that nagging self-doubt. The only thing you can really do is ignore it and keep writing. The less attention you pay to it, the less you wallow in self-doubt, the easier it gets to ignore it. So what if you’re a bad writer? (Hint: you’re not. No, not even you.) The only way to improve is to keep writing. So, below are some tips on how to shut that little voice in your head up, and keep on writing.

1. Remind yourself that while you’re definitely not the best author out there, you’re not the worst either. The end goal isn’t to convince yourself that you’re the best author who ever lived. People who genuinely think that are almost always terrible writers. You should never be completely satisfied with your work, or you won’t keep striving to improve. But it’s also important to remind yourself that you are not the worst author in the world, by far. Look around the internet, find some examples of truly horrendous published writing. Don’t spend more than a few hours looking, and don’t be cruel about it, but get a sense of the range of writing quality that’s out there. Allow yourself to accept that you fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum of bad authors to good authors. You’ll probably never be right at the top, but neither are you right at the bottom. And you can always be working yourself up the spectrum.

2. Remember that everyone likes something different. The thing is, even the most critically condemned books, the ones with godawful writing, or horrible plots, or ridiculous, cliche characters- plenty of them are still very popular. There’s no real, tried-and-true quality indicator for books. What one person finds tedious and boring, others will revere as a classic. What another person finds highly entertaining and emotionally impacting, others will write off as trite and overwrought. Those books that everyone on the internet loves to complain about? At least as many people bought and enjoyed them, or they wouldn’t be so popular. Everyone likes something different, and even if you find your own writing absolutely horrendous, there is someone out there who is going to love it. Maybe even a lot of people.

3. Focus on your strengths. No one’s good at everything. Every author has strengths and weaknesses. Some authors write such amazing characters that there could be no plot to speak of, and you’d still be happy reading 100,000 words of them just hanging around talking. Some authors are so good at world-building that the characters and plot fade into the background in comparison. Some authors have literally one character that they write a hundred different books about, but their plots are so good that people keep coming back to read them. And some authors (hint: not me) have such beautiful prose that you’ll keep reading well past the point where you have any idea what’s going on anymore, because you just love the sound of the words so much. The point is, while you may be lacking in some places, (and you should definitely work on that, because the best authors are good at everything) you probably have at least a few aspects of your writing that you’re absolutely fantastic at. And even if you’re just passable in some areas (*cough*myprose*cough*) readers who really like the stuff you’re good at will still enjoy it.

4. If you’re published, read your good reviews. If you’re not, save the nice comments your betas or friends have left on your writing. Hoard your good reviews. Keep them easily accessible and whenever you’re feeling down about yourself, go read them, and remind yourself that people like your writing, because you are awesome.

5. Write something just for you. Forget your readers, or the reviewers who didn’t like your book. Remind yourself what it is that you like about writing. Write something that you don’t intend for anyone to read. Write the kind of stories that you like, that you want to read. Actually, you should be doing that anyway. If there’s a particular author you really like and want to emulate, go read something by them, and take mental notes of their technique. Keep writing, keep improving, and enjoy yourself.

6. Write a list of tips for authors on beating self-doubt. 😉


Coming January 27th, 2015: Double Take
Wordcount: 14,500
Pre-order now for only $1.91 (save 36%!)

Studying magical science at the prestigious Kemet Academy is a privilege and dream come true for Teka, a poor student from D’mt. But focusing on school doesn’t mean xe can’t also admire Hasani, the handsome graduate student overseeing Teka’s work.

Then late one night at the school library, Teka runs Hasani and is completely astonished when the stern, quiet man xe knows by day acts so flirty and casual, it’s like he’s a different person. When the late night encounter leads to dating, Teka can scarcely believe xyr luck.

But the luck plays out when xe discovers why Hasani seems so different between night and day, a discovery that seems to have no resolution except heartache… (Warning: This story contains incest)


I’m running low on cat pictures! I recently received my print copies of A Touch of Mistletoe, so I’ll have to take some pictures of her modelling with them. For now, here’s this one:

IMG_2973

Thanks for reading!