Catch you all later =)
August 28, 2016
August 7, 2016
If dreams are a window to the soul, why do my dreams not make any damn sense?
Recently, a family friend who read the blurb of Y Negative said to me, “your dreams must be fascinating.” I didn’t really know what to say. I’ve been told this before (and probably will again) but the truth is that my dreams are completely mundane or nonsensical, and this has always been a tiny source of consternation for me.
I’ve heard of authors who are inspired by their dreams, or figure out plot problems due to their dreams. I’ve heard of authors who have conversations with their characters in their dreams.
That’s not me.
I’ve heard of people who fulfill fantasies in their dreams. I’ve heard of people who live in TV show or movie worlds in their dreams. I’ve heard of people who have horrible nightmares.
That’s definitely not me.
My dreams are usually me bumbling through regular scenery trying to achieve a regular goal (like meeting someone somewhere, or slightly more interesting, put out a small fire) and almost always failing, usually to only mild annoyance.
I mean, like, what?
Where’s the alien worlds I spent countless hours daydreaming about when I was a teenager? The aliens I painstakingly designed? The dozens of people in my half dozen novels that mean the world to me? Where is the magic? Where is the excitement?
What is wrong with me?
Maybe there isn’t anything wrong with me. I’ve conjectured that my sleeping dreams are so mediocre because my waking dreams (my waking imagination) is extremely robust. Maybe I’ve spent so much time thinking about these things while I’m awake that my subconscious has nothing else to unpack while I sleep.
Or maybe my imagination isn’t as robust as I think it is.
Whatever the reason for my sleeping brain’s ineptitude, I cherish the rare interesting dreams. Like the one about time travel, where I had to keep trying to save a friend a la “Edge of Tomorrow” trying over and over again to get it right. Or any one where I’m a guy. Or the one, almost a decade ago, the one time I actually did get to talk to one of my main characters. I don’t remember what we talked about, but I remember his face, and I remember hugging him. That dream was in third person, my mind’s eye a camera floating at an appropriate angle.
One time. Just one time.
It’s okay, I’ll just have to keep daydreaming.
One thing I’ve noticed about my mundane dreams is that they’re always a few years behind my waking life. In the years after college, I still dreamed about going to class. In the years that followed, the settings of my dreams would be a few apartments behind. My first child didn’t appear in a dream until he was two, and when he did, he was a baby. Why have I never noticed that things aren’t quite right? Dream logic, I guess.
Are any of you in similar boats as me? Will my dreams always be boring and unmemorable? Obviously, it could be worse. But I hope it’s not a reflection of who I really am inside…
June 30, 2016
Sometimes you gotta know when to throw in the towel, and for Book-in-a-year, this is it. I’m officially stopping it after 5 months, because I’m too unsure what the future of my writing career holds, and I didn’t work on it at all in the month of June. I think it’s a great book that I WILL finish when the time properly comes to write it, but I just don’t think now is that time.
Right now, I need to focus on going back to my day job in just a little over a week, and what changes that will bring to my family and my life.
Right now, I need to help my son, who’s been having a hard time adjusting to the new baby.
Right now, I need to reevaluate my writing career and what the best next steps will be. I have lots of ideas, but no sense of direction. If I don’t commit, I’m going to sit here stagnating.
Or, you know, raising my family and working the day job. And that’s the crux of it. Since this writing stuff is still a “hobby”, it’s all too easy to put it on the back-burner and keep going with the rest of my life. Not that I WANT to do that, but, you know. And is that a bad thing? No. But every day that goes by where I don’t write or read one creative word feels like a failure. A step back. A wiggling in the quicksand of time that is slowly sucking me under into the mundane 8-to-5 and two-point-five-kids and white-picket-fence.
Sure, it’s the American dream. But god damn it I need to wake up or I’m going to blink my eyes and wonder where my life went.
Did I mention I’m turning 30 this year? A little early for a midlife crisis, don’t you think?
In other news, I recently finished reading the memoir She’s Not There, and want to talk about it a bit. She’s Not There is about the life and transition of Jennifer Boylan, an author and college professor. Boylan is an incredible writer, with wit for days and the unparalleled ability to pull at one’s heartstrings, and I bet it’s doubly strong for a person like me, who has dealt with trans feelings and talked long and hard about how said feelings affect my family.
This book both frustrated me and gave me hope.
Throughout most of my reading, I felt hopeless and useless as Boylan’s life unfolded. If only being trans was more accepted, she wouldn’t have had to hide her true self. If only her wife’s view on gender was more open, she wouldn’t have had to have so much anxiety. These thoughts and similar showed themselves to be pretty naive.
This book ripped off the rose-and-baby-blue-colored glasses, so to speak, as my belief in a world of trans acceptance is a fantasy for most people.
However, the 10-year-edition afterward shed hope that Boylan and her wife actually did remain together and found a happiness that worked for them. And their children appeared to be well adjusted and normal and no worse for the wear. Good. Very good.
I really do have hope that times are changing. Especially as each bigoted thing brought to light online and in the news brings more of us out of the woodworks to stand up for not just equality but some goddamn human decency.
I want my children to grow up in a world where the admittance of someone’s gender or orientation is as easygoing and accepted as mentioning food preferences or your favorite band.
“Cool!” now let’s get on with life.
June 9, 2016
Oh, Book-in-a-Year. You’re a great idea but just as difficult in practice as I was expecting.
So in the past month I managed to add about 1500 words to my WIP, bringing it to a bit under 5000 words. I enjoy what I’ve written so far, I’m having fun with it—but my brain is so shot from raising two young kids that summoning the focus to keep going has been very difficult.
Added to that is the possibility that I may change gears and work on a different book for the remainder of the year. It’s a book I’m equally excited about, but it was admittedly unexpected.
Until I figure out which book is going to be my main focus moving forward, I’ve been working on world building in the fantasy universe of Pick Her Up (the name of my BiaY project). It’s an alternate history and takes place in 2002, and features not only 6 different types of magic but also a complete polytheistic religion that intimately integrates with the magic. So I’ve been planning out gods and religious practices and how the different magics have influenced technology, politics and everything else. I mentioned some of these things in passing in the books I’ve already written in this universe (Chasing Fire and Claudia’s Gift) but now I’m working on adding all the details and intricacies that will make the religion and magic feel fully incorporated in the world.
This pre-writing world building is fun, but tedious. I’m reading about greek gods for inspiration, and I’ve been looking at etymologies of words for god names. My hubby has also been a major sounding board for ideas and a brainstorming partner for figuring out the impact of the magics on society. That’s a role he’s played for my entire writing career, and I’ll always be thankful for it.
It’s common advice to find out everything you can about the characters and society of your book and then only show bits and pieces of that as needed in your narrative. I’ve always had a really hard time with that, because when you figure something out, you are very inclined to share. I’m hoping that my efforts to become as well versed as possible in this fantasy world will allow me to bring up appropriate details easily as I write, and make everything feel organic without being “over-sharing”.
My goals for the next month is to continue to work on world building, and to work on Pick Her Up and this new book as I am inspired. Hopefully, I’ll be able to share more info about this new book soon.
Have a great day y’all!
May 19, 2016
This is going to be a more serious blog than usual. I want to talk about something that’s hard for many people to talk about, but I’m going to do my best.
Also, please note I’ll be calling people capable of getting pregnant “women” and use female pronouns just because it is a bit less cumbersome, but I fully acknowledge that not all people capable of getting pregnant call themselves women or use female pronouns. I personally hated being called a woman when I was pregnant (as weird as that may sound to some.), “pregnant person” felt better to me.
Okay, here goes.
As I’m sure you all know, there is tremendous pressure for women to stay thin. They diet, exercise, undergo surgery, fat shame themselves and others. And even though this problem is not exclusive to women, I think we could all agree that the pressure is much higher for women to be thin, in large part because thin = beautiful, and beautiful = value and self-worth, etc etc etc. I think we can all agree that’s a load of shit, but that’s what a lot of people internalize.
So, pregnancy. A time in a woman’s life where she needs to gain weight for her baby. She’s expected to gain weight, and there is a level of ridicule around the expectation that a woman is going to gain too much weight when she’s pregnant, heaven forbid.
The worst part, of course, is that for many, it is very easy to gain weight. I gained “too much weight” for both of my children. 40 lbs for my son that I had 6 weeks premature, and 53 lbs for my daughter who was born on her due date.
And something weird and humiliating happens when you gain too much weight when pregnant.
First of all, people ask if you’re having twins CONSTANTLY. And every time it happens is a stab in the gut, because who on earth would assume such a thing, and why does no one understand what a pregnant body looks like?
Second, and more importantly, people make little comments about your eating habits, and it’s not just the “eating for two” joke. It’s stuff like, “giving in to those cravings?” and it all points to this assumption that a pregnant woman who gains too much weight has no self control, is making poor choices, or more subtly, should feel bad about herself.
Now, I ate too much. I’ll admit it. I ate way way way too much. But that was in part due to the “fuck it” attitude I quickly adopted—this may be the only part of my life where people expect me to eat too much, so I may as well have fun doing it.
BUT. A large part of weight gain is probably genetics, and a large part of whether or not people ask if you are having twins (when you’re NOT) is body shape. Yes I ate too much, but I also kept weightlifting 3x a week until I was 36 weeks along. So yeah, I gained a lot, but I was STRONG. I had an easy delivery and a shockingly quick recovery when compared to my much more sedentary first pregnancy.
Though, thanks to that full term pregnancy, I now have a mom-belly. Yes, they are a thing, and I have one, and I’m trying really hard not to hate it. Because now, those questioning people are winning, as I look in the mirror and ask myself, would my belly look this bad if I had tried harder to not gain so much weight? And I’ll be honest—probably not. But that doesn’t mean what I did was wrong. I kept myself comfortable and happy throughout the pregnancy by eating what I wanted, and I honestly think that was more important. Being pregnant is stressful enough . . . being pregnant and also caring for a toddler is really damn hard (though easy in comparison to taking care of an infant and toddler, but that’s another story.) and adding the worry of calorie counting would have been awful.
And for the record, I’ve lost a huge amount of the weight already. I have 17 more pounds to go, and baby girl is not even two months old. Getting time to start weightlifting again is nigh impossible right now, but once I get back to work it’ll be a lot easier (hooray gym at work!). And I’m itching to get back to it, because I know that getting strong will make the mom-belly not as bad. Maybe not physically, but psychologically I won’t feel as bad about it.
So, yeah. Next time you see a pregnant person, don’t jokingly ask if she’s having twins. Don’t make comments about her eating habits. And of course don’t touch her belly without asking first!
Thanks for reading—have any of the moms out there experienced what I’m talking about? Or some other kind of pregnant-shaming? Remember, you’re beautiful, mom-belly and all.
May 12, 2016
Oh man, guys. Having two kids is hard. At least, it’s hard when one of them is a tiny infant who is still figuring out that nighttime is for sleep. The little girl is actually doing really well lately, and I’ve been getting around 5 hours of sleep each night—hooray! But I’m still trying to make up for a month of fatigue, and honestly not getting as much done as I’d like.
To update Book-In-A-Year, I haven’t done a thing in the past month. Whoops. But that’s okay. I actually spent the past month writing a short story, and I successfully finished it too. With that done, I’m ready to focus again on Alice and Kerry and their ongoing romance. I glanced through what I had written in March yesterday and was still really happy with it. That’s a good sign! So I’m hoping I’ll get some work done this month on the project and continue to move forward.
I’ve continued to get a lot of reading done this past month. I read How to Be a Normal Person by TJ Klune, and that book was just incredible. I’d suggest it to anyone who likes quirky, funny romances. I also picked up several titles from Riptide’s May the 4th sale and look forward to reading them over the next few weeks. I’m so glad I’ve had this time to catch up on my reading. Everyone always says that reading as much as you can enhances your writing and I don’t doubt that for a minute. Better get my reading in now, before I’m back to work and REALLY have no free time whatsoever.
That’s about it for now, I don’t know how much longer the little girlie is going to stay asleep. But I do have a couple of blog posts planned besides my Book-In-A-Year updates, and you can look forward to those over the next few weeks. Have a good one everyone!
April 4, 2016
Hey everyone! Yet another quiet month from me, but not for no reason. I got my whole house ready for the new baby over the past few weeks, in time for her to make her grand arrival last week. Mommy and baby are back home, happy and healthy. And big brother loves his new sister. Having two kids has indeed been harder than one, and we’re only just getting started. My hubby’s been an amazing help so far. With the almost ridiculous amount of time I’m stuck in a chair nursing the babe each day, he’s been keeping the house clean and cooking meals, not to mention wrangling the toddler. Parenting is absolutely a team endeavor, and I think we make quite the team. I’ve even managed a few hours of sleep!
In writing news, I’ve advanced in my Book-In-A-Year project by officially starting the first draft. Early in the month I did some research into the characters’ college majors, which I found a lot more fascinating than I was expecting. (geopolitics, anyone?) I managed to hit 3400 words before I had the baby, getting through the first chapter and starting the second chapter, allowing me to play a bit in both characters’ POVs. To my surprise, one of the characters came on strong to me in present tense, which is something that has never happened to me before. I usually detest present tense in fiction writing, and have a hard time reading it, let alone writing it. But this character is saying otherwise, so I figured I’d humor them. It wouldn’t be too hard to change if I decide that’s not the best route to go.
I’m really happy with how the draft is going so far. Having the whole outline from the beginning has allowed me to plant the seeds of character arc and plot from the very introduction of the characters instead of having to shoehorn that stuff in later once I figure it out. I’m confident this will lead to faster, higher quality drafting than I have ever done before. Looking forward to the next month, I can’t guarantee I’ll get much done with the new baby. If I work on the book even just once or twice a week, I will be happy.
On the reading front, I recently finished Turnskin by Nicole Kimberling, and I want to take a moment to talk about how awesome it was. This book is an alternative history fantasy where humans and shifters coexist in a roughly 20’s era technology level. Not only was the world building amazing, but the characters were varied and unique. But my favorite part about this book was the “biology” of the shifters. Unlike werewolves that have a wolf form and a human form, these shifters are able to shift at will and with extreme precision to any human or shifter form. (the shifter form is humanoid and vaguely canine, btw.) Their shifting has realistic tolls on their bodies (making them hungry and tired) and takes a lot of practice and looking in the mirror if one wants a precise appearance. As far as I’m concerned, this is what an actual shapeshifter species should look like. I’ve never been fond of were-stories, and was so inspired and pleased by this unique take on the shifter theme. And I’m not biased at all in the fact that my fantasy with shape shifters are a lot more similar to Turnskin’s shifters than anything I’ve ever heard of in were-stories, nope, not biased at all =)
Okay all, I’ll catch you later. Here’s to attempting to get adequate sleep over the next, oh, decade.
March 5, 2016
Hi everyone! I was pretty quiet last month. I’ve been busy though—getting everything ready for the baby (I’m still pregnant!) and working on editing Chasing Fire thanks to input from two amazing beta readers. So I honestly haven’t done a lot of work on my Book-In-A-Year project, but I still have some updates for you all.
Book-In-A-Year: Month Two, Refining the Outline
I didn’t do the research I had planned on doing for my characters’ majors in college, but instead focused on continuing to improve my outline. Thanks to the input of a good friend, I saw that I was going in the wrong direction with one of the characters, and that my overall plot mirrored one of my other books. Whoops! Fixing the plot to be more unique allowed for more growth opportunities for my main characters, and forced me to look more crucially at their arcs.
Making a strong character arc is definitely something I need to work on. I try to have good intentions, but sometimes fail to follow through. For example, in Y Negative, Ember never gets that moment on the page at the end where he says he’s okay with his body, even though I intended for those feelings to be there. I can think of other characters in various WIPs that also start wandering half way through their emotional growth paths.
So hopefully this experience has helped me be more aware of where my characters are going and what they want; how they are striving to be better people and how they can express that on the page.
Beta Readers Are Amazing.
It’s true! I don’t think it could be said enough.
I asked two good writer friends to look over the finished draft of Chasing Fire back in January, and then I spent most of February going through the issues they found. I’m just gonna be honest here . . . they found A LOT. And they also were in almost complete agreement about many points of contention, which made my editing path inescapably clear.
I ended up redesigning Devon’s whole character arc due to cutting his roommate from the story (because I had inadvertently made not only an offensive character, but one that had no purpose outside of what he did to the plot.). I also consolidated many other minor characters, which I’m pretty sure strengthened the minor characters who remained.
All told, I added almost 6000 words to the story, mostly in enhanced world building and adding scenes to complete Devon’s arc.
The story still needs some work, but thanks to my beta readers being unhesitant in their honesty, I know the story is stronger.
And I give them mad respect for being honest. Beta reading, especially if one is checking marginalized characters, is not easy, and is completely voluntary. I can’t thank these guys enough for the time they took to read my words.
And Now . . .
I’m looking at the next few months with excitement, and definitely a little bit of anxiety. I’ll have this baby any day this month, and then comes the grand adventure of getting used to life with two kids. Until that happens, I’ll keep working on Book-In-A-Year, and I’ll keep toward my reading goals.
Have a great weekend all!
January 29, 2016
It’s time for my first check in of my Book-In-A-Year project!
I started this project with only a paragraph of information. The names, genders and orientations of my main characters, and a very basic idea of what I wanted the plot to be. Since then I have done the following:
Yeah, you heard the second one right. I already knew the gist of what I wanted to do, but not the twists and turns. Usually I will just start writing and wait until I stumble upon plot points on accident. But really what was keeping me from letting my mind follow that same wandering process, just without the mess of trying to write thousands of words while it happens?
To my amazement and relief, it totally worked. I just sat at my computer, thought about the scenarios my characters were in in each bullet point of my outline, and kept asking myself, “what would this character do next?” until I reached “the end.” It took a couple days once I was ready to try it, and in the end I have a 3 page outline. I’m not sure if this means I have a really clear picture of these characters’ personalities and motivations in my head, if I totally lucked out, or if my outline is actually not that great. But it reads pretty well to me (albeit, it’s mostly a romance drama with only medium amounts of character driven external action) and I’m happy with it, and that’s gotta count for something.
My plan for month two is to do research on pertinent subjects so I can write about them well (in this case, poetry and political science for one of the character’s studies) and flesh out my outline a bit more – solidify it better on a scene by scene basis, and maybe make up my mind on how I’m handling the POV so I can actually start writing the novel in month three. That is, if my schedule lets me. I am almost 8 months pregnant after all.
Thanks for reading and I look forward to giving you more updates on this project!
January 5, 2016
Okay, guys. I’m going to be real with you for a minute—or to be more precise, unrealistic. I have very high hopes for 2016. I’m really hoping it could me “my year”, which given I signed with Riptide and published my first book in 2015, that’s some high hopes indeed for 2016.
There’s going to be some major changes in my personal life in the coming months, namely the wiggly thing in my uterus joining my family. The temperament of this little girl will probably determine hugely whether or not I succeed in my other lofty goals for this year. But that’s all the more reason, as far as I’m concerned, to see what I’m capable of.
First of all, I want to read more in 2016. I’m setting a goal that others may find conservative – 25 books – but for me is going to be quite a challenge with the new baby. On top of keeping up with the queer romance, I have some scifi, fantasy and contemporary books on my TBR.
Second, I want to finish editing and hopefully secure publication for Chasing Fire. Fingers crossed.
Third, I want to outline and fully draft my next book. Yes, you heard me. I want a complete first draft of Pick Her Up (another contemporary fantasy, though this one’s f/nb) by January 1st 2017. And I hope not only to fully outline it before starting, but also to document my progress in a series of blog posts throughout the year. This can serve a dual function of not only keeping me organized and on track with my outlining and writing, but to share what I will learn with fellow writers. You can look forward to those posts hopefully monthly throughout the year.
Fourth, and this one is tied very closely to #2 and #3, I hope to cement my plans for my next several books. I have a mini-universe in the making, with 9 book ideas floating around. If all goes well, these ideas will span the next several years of writing, not even including any other ideas I think up along the way. This is pretty monumental for me—if you would have asked me even 6 months ago if I would have been capable of writing a several-book series, I would have nervously laughed and said someday. Well, someday is now. And I very much want this to happen.
Fifth, I hope to attend two conventions this fall—Yaoicon and GRNW, both in September 2016. With the baby being about 6 months old by then, those will probably be my first trips away from her. I’ll definitely have to wait until later this year to decide if they’re feasible.
And that sums up my 2016 goals, at least regarding my reading and writing life.
End obligatory beginning of year post! Haha. Thanks for reading <3