Kelly Haworth

LGBT Scifi and Fantasy Author

June 25, 2015
by Kelly
0 comments

Y Negative up for Preorder!

Hi guys! Check this out!

Y-Negative_400x600

In the last surviving cities of a ruined world, the concept of “woman” has been forgotten to history. Those unfortunate enough to lack a Y chromosome live as second-class citizens in a world dominated by mascs.

Ember is Y negative. He is scorned, bullied, abused by every masc he encounters, at work and at the gym. Not even his Y negative roommate cuts him any slack. He wants so desperately to be accepted as a masc that he’d rather buy black market testosterone than food. Something’s gotta give—he needs a change in his life, but has no idea how to find it.

Jess is a masc with a passion for studying the recovery of their devastated world. His boyfriend is pressuring him for more commitment, and his father expects him to take over the family business. He can’t wait to get away from civilization for his seasonal research out in the wild.

When Jess offers Ember a job, their lives collide in the isolated wasteland, and their initial attraction turns into a relationship that horrifies those around them. Soon their struggle to stay together and to be who they are turns into a fight for their lives.

~~

Yeah that’s totally the cover and blurb for Y Negative!  This is completely legit stuff!  You can click the cover to go to riptide’s website and check out some more details.  The novel will be released November 16th!

This is totally a dream come true–but I’ll talk more about that another time.  Right now I’m gonna celebrate being done with editing!

<3 you all.

May 20, 2015
by Kelly
1 Comment

Nothing is Ever Wasted…

…but paper.

I had a good friend tell me this the other day, something he heard at a YA convention, and I really really needed these 6 words.

I’m in the trenches of editing hell, and it has been a very trying experience.  I’m watching scenes that I spent hours on get tossed aside like clippings out of a lawn mower.  And I am mourning.

But I probably don’t have to be.

They tell you to write every day.  They tell you to kill your darlings.  They tell you to let your first drafts be shit.  But they don’t tell you how much turnover this means a manuscript will have.  I’m at the point where I’ve probably written twice the words within the boundaries of this manuscript than are currently in it, maybe more. I’m reminded of what John Green once said: 90% of what he writes for a novel he throws out.  That was staggering and insane when I first heard it several years ago.  Now I’m seeing the truth in it.

We live in a world of “one-and-done”, a world of instant gratification and easy work-arounds.  Writing has none of these things, if you strive for excellence.  Writing is hard work and, above all else, experimentation, and if something is not getting your point across you have no choice but to scrub it and try again.  That is the only way anyone ever gets good at anything: by working and trying again.

There’s this saying that insanity means doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  It’s grossly oversimplified, and inaccurate, at least if you take “same thing” at face value.  Any ballet dancer can tell you they kept leaping and twirling and going on point, over and over again hoping to better their strength and muscle memory.  Any basketball player can tell you of the hours they spend standing in the same place, shooting the ball at the hoop, trying to perfect their swish.  And as it is with writing – except trying over and over again with words means throwing out those first attempts.  Writing a sentence, then deleting it.  Then writing a slightly different one.  And probably deleting that one too.

Each sentence is teaching you how to get your point across.  Each sentence is teaching you how to manipulate words so they can leap and twirl across someone’s page to swish into someone’s mind.

I can’t be afraid to delete what I have if it means I can write something better.  But even more important than this is the emotional attachment I had with those old words. I can’t be afraid to cut what I loved, if it makes the manuscript stronger.

And I think I’m finally getting to my main point – we write with passion because writing in any other way produces shit.  So how do we reconcile the pieces of our soul we have put onto the page, if the page no longer fits with the flow of the novel? How can we be okay with that piece never seeing public eye?

Well, I’d like to think that we can learn from the way emotions were captured, or from the way something was described, and use that knowledge in a later scene. Even if it’s in another manuscript altogether.

Nothing is ever wasted but (digital) paper. Your time is not wasted.  Your words are not wasted.  Every sentence gets you one step closer to being a better writer.  Every sentence teaches you how to share your soul.

Don’t be afraid.

Yes, I’m saying this to myself as much as I’m saying this to you all.  How do you tell yourself to keep going?

Thanks for reading.

May 8, 2015
by Kelly
6 Comments

Published!

Hey everyone!

Quick post for you today. I have a short story published today through Daily Science Fiction! You can read Strings here.

This piece is my first publication, and I’m very excited to start putting my name on the map. I’ve written a few more short stories that I’ll be shopping around this year, and I’m currently working through the final edits for my novel Y Negative. After writing as a hobby for so long, this feels amazing.

Thank you for reading and for any comments!

April 22, 2015
by Kelly
3 Comments

How Terminology Changes Identity

As my son and the children of my generation slowly reach the age of attending school, I’ve been starting to think back to some of the things I learned. Specifically what I want to talk about today is what, in hindsight, was an abysmal sex education class I attended in 5th grade, and the fact that I never had any additional formal education after that. I was essentially on my own. I hope that our generation will do better for our children in this regard, because I want my child and his friends to have the proper tools as they grow up.

Language is a tool. And if you don’t have a full toolbox, there’s certain things you won’t be able to do. Likewise, if you don’t have the language to express certain ideas, you’re going to have a nasty time trying to understand some things in your head.

Personal example time!

When I was growing up, my “sexuality and identity” toolbox was limited. I had a 2-session sex ed class of which all I can remember is the typical “here’s how babies are made” and maybe a bit about menstruation and pregnancy. Eventually, I learned about the concepts of “gay” and “lesbian”. There was an LGBT group in my high school, but I didn’t know what it was all about. Some stuff about the “day of silence” and kids who were in an even weirder social circle than mine. I was dreadfully introverted and was terrified to branch out of my small friend circle to find out. So when I started finding myself attracted to girls, I didn’t know what to do about it. Especially because I was still attracted to boys as well. I had no concept that one could be attracted to both and that such was a valid sexual identity. I felt like I had to choose one or the other, and stay that way forever, and I didn’t know what to do.

From as far back as about fifteen, I considered myself “a boy in a girl’s body”. But without any concept of “transgender” in my mind, I could do nothing with this feeling. I couldn’t even describe it in better terms than that. I thought I was just quirky, or crazy, and that it was just a fleeting fancy that I would grow out of. So I ignored it. In fact, I absorbed myself in academia for so long that I didn’t take the time to fully explore what “transgender” meant until I was in my early twenties. I had “cross-dressed” several times by that point, each time frustrated by my inability to describe how right I felt when I looked in the mirror and finally saw “me”. And I know I’m not alone in having such experiences, in locking up the real me in lieu of the one that fits in society’s nice little boxes.

Your reality changes when you have the language to express what you are feeling. When I learned what bisexuality and transgender meant, when I learned what nonbinary meant, I finally felt some validation for parts of me that I had long ago written off as “wrong”. There’s a possibility that if I would have known what these words meant in high school, I wouldn’t have felt so alienated, or weird. My concept of myself changed, it expanded, when I learned what these words meant. I could finally describe myself more accurately. (I’d like to talk more about my personal identity, but I’ll save that for a future post.)

I want our children to know what these words mean. I want them to have the freedom to decide who they are without feeling they’re a puzzle piece that doesn’t fit. And that starts with all of us, teaching our children. All of us, supporting the programs at their schools, if we can. It starts with all of us supporting and loving our children for who they are.

If, one day, my son decides he’s straight, I want it to be because he’s genuinely attracted to girls, not because he didn’t know he could pick something else.

If, one day, my cousin’s daughter decides she might actually be “a boy in a girl’s body,” I want her to have the resources to properly explore the possibility, so she can make an educated decision on what fits best with her internal image.

And the same goes for anything else they may decide about their identities and what defines them as unique human beings.

I think things are better now than they were when I was a kid. I think kids these days (hah, once you use that phrase you know you’re old) have a much better language toolbox. I hope things keep getting better, and that our push for equality continues to lead us toward harmony.

Thanks for reading.

April 8, 2015
by Kelly
3 Comments

Growing Up

I’ve finally reached the age where I can look back and see how far I’ve come.  Both in writing, and in the way I think.

I never understood when writers said they hated looking at old work.  My first stories were full of imaginative worlds, and intense characters, and great moments that I cherished reading again and again.  Why would I ever not enjoy these moments?  Well.  That day has finally come.  And It’s not that I don’t enjoy my old stories, it’s that everything I was naive or outright wrong about now jumps out at me.

I want to share a few embarrassing examples.  Why?  Because we all have room to grow, and here’s some proof.

A few weeks ago, I read through a novel I had written in my early 20’s. I hadn’t read any of this story in about 3 years.  I found lines of narrative and structures of plot suddenly leaping out in ways I had never intended.

For example, there were several moments when I had been unintentionally racist.  The narrative stereotyped a non-white race, both in a positive light and negative. I had added characters as “tropes” instead of “people” and I think I know better now.  I think recognizing what I did wrong is a huge step toward doing it right next time.  We should all strive to show everyone’s humanity first and foremost in characterization.

Another example from the same book is a plot line where a character coerces another to sleep with them.  It’s dubious consent at the least, and borderline rape if taken at face value, and I was seriously shocked by this scene and the subsequent reactions of other characters. I knew what I was writing six years ago and what it meant. But it comes across completely differently than I intended.  Because the reader never sees the victim’s POV, the reader only sees the perpetrator feeling victimized at all of the other characters blowing up at them.  I don’t even think I need to explain why this is all wrong.  You definitely will not find me making this sort of mistake today.

My last example is from my upcoming debut, Y Negative.  In the early versions of this novel, the main character’s injections gave him scars akin to something like a heroin addiction.  I did this scientific error intentionally, as I wanted his scars to be symbolic of his will to survive.  But early betas pointed out the error, and I realized very quickly that it wasn’t conveying what I wanted it to.  Wisely, I decided it wasn’t worth keeping.  That MC has lost the majority of the scars he had in draft one, but that’s okay.  He didn’t need those scars to show his weakness, or his strength.  His characterization shows the reader those things.

The moral of the story here is not to be wary of everything you write or anything like that – it’s to give your writing some space before you show it to other people, so you can look at it objectively.  It’s to show it to betas before you try to shop it.  And most importantly, strive every day to be better about the way you view the world and the people in it.  It’s really easy to be unintentionally racist, or unintentionally sexist, or to ignore facts for want of “artistic value”.  But we should always strive to be better than yesterday. Don’t feel bad if you’re wrong, or if your point didn’t get across.  We’re all learning together to be better people to each other.  I’m thankful that I can look back and see what I did wrong, because it tells me how far I’ve come.

And it hints at how far I still have to grow.

Thanks for reading.

March 17, 2015
by Kelly
0 comments

Moderation

There are sayings about the advantage of moderation in our lives, like being able to enjoy bad foods–only in moderation!  I’ve noticed over the past few months that there are other things that are better enjoyed in moderation as well.

About a month ago, I had to adjust my schedule, cutting my gym trips from 5 per week to 3.  I was worried that this would reduce my ability to achieve my health goals, but so far I can say that is not true.  I have actually felt more power during my on-days than I felt when I went every weekday, like the days of rest are allowing me to push harder on the days of work.  I had heard this before, that you should allow your body proper time to recover after workouts, but here it was in practice.  I’m almost ready to move up in weight on most of my exercises with what is almost half the amount of time spent in the gym.

I consider this a lesson in trusting my body to take care of what it needs to so that it’s ready the next time I challenge it.

And likewise, I can apply this principle to writing.

We all know the saying, write every day.  I don’t know about you guys but I find that very difficult.  I have a job, and a kid, and chores, and there’s some days where after all that I just don’t have it in me.  But like giving my body recharge time to be more powerful the next day, so too have my writing days been more prolific when I focus on it only a few nights a week.  A few months ago I tried to write every day, and it didn’t last long, and the days in a row were usually only accomplished with a few hundred words here and there.  Lately, I’ve been mostly editing, but again the same principle can be applied – let it all stew in the recesses of your brain for a day or two, and then when you sit down it’ll come out more easily than if you forced it to trickle out every day.  This has historically worked well for me.  I’ll never forget several years back when many Saturdays were spent writing from morning to evening while my hubby was at work, after a whole week of working and thinking and letting the characters and dialogue churn in the back of my head.  (what was taking up my time during the weekdays then?  Ugh, I’m so ashamed.  World of Warcraft.)

So that’s my advice for fellow writers who have a hard time writing every day. (or fellow gym goers feeling guilty for not lifting every day!)  Don’t force it, especially if life is too demanding to make it easy for you.  Allow your mind/body time to rest and focus on other things, and next time you’re able to work, hopefully the words/power will come to you without pain or frustration.

We all want that full page, or that lifted weight, or that chocolate cheesecake… hmm.  I could probably eat a whole chocolate cheesecake right now.

Heh… moderation.  I’m still working on it.

February 14, 2015
by Kelly
1 Comment

Stereotypes and Gender

I have always enjoyed those that push the boundaries of stereotypes. Now, stereotypes exist because they are a quick easy way to identify people in a person’s environment. Though notice I didn’t say a kind way, as some stereotypes can border on cruel and many are only accurate to a small subset of people in specific categories.  For example, the flamboyant gay man – this stereotype is used a lot in media but I don’t think it is as common in real life.  (A gay man doesn’t have to act that way, but guess what? He can if it makes him feel good.)

Bending and breaking stereotypes is awesome.  The great thing about living in this day and age is the freedom (in most places) to do, dress, be, live the way you want to.  Yes, not all people understand and definitely not all people approve, but not letting those societal rules dictate your life choices is going to set a precedent to those that experience you  – this is me, I don’t fit in any one box, and I am happy.  Now we can be talking about any number of stereotypes, be they race, class, age, gender, you name it.  But right now I’d like to talk a bit more about gender.

Not only do I love dressing both extremes – from dresses and mascara to boots and button-up shirts – but I love people who take what parts of the gender stereotypes work for them and make them their own, be it behavior, dress, hair, what have you. I completely believe in and support the spectrum and gray area between male and female, man and woman, as well as those that wish to transition across that gray area.

I really love androgyny, and on those occasions where I happen past a person whose gender is somewhere in that gray area it gives me a happy feeling.  Here’s someone who has taken their identity by their own rules.  And you know what?  They are beautiful.

I find beauty across the spectrum.  I love chiseled jaws and dainty noses and long curly hair and nicely trimmed beards.  I love full curves and those smexy hip lines that some people have.  I love butt dimples, and cleft chins, and eye freckles, and hairy legs.

I think beauty and humanity comes in all shapes and sizes and colors and forms.  I think beauty shines in those that are comfortable in their skin, just as much as it glimmers in those that maybe aren’t quite as confident, like golden light beneath their skin, waiting to break out, like the beast turning back into a man (though of course he was great as a beast as well, don’t you think?)

And it’s completely normal for a man to cry and a woman to be tough and for a boy to play with dolls and for a girl to wear gym shorts.  It’s totally awesome for a mom to work full time while the dad’s home with the kids, for a man to do the dishes and a woman to break out the power tools.  There’s no reason why gender should play any part in any of this, and I don’t really know why it ever did once we started having indoor plumbing and a supermarket down the street.  Again, that’s why there’s a lot of great things about living in today’s age.

And for those that make it not so great, for those that perpetuate intolerance?  It’s hard to say that we can change their minds, because I don’t think it’s always practical.  But we can move on without them, as we continue forward to be one people, with acceptance and support and love, teaching our children that respect and understanding and empathy trumps prejudice and ignorance.  That the differences between us, be they gender or race or creed or profession or what have you, are all beautiful and enrich our lives.

Well this went on a bit of a tangent.  Be who you are, and be it proud.  Thanks for reading.

February 7, 2015
by Kelly
0 comments

Burnt Toast B&B: A Review

So I read a fun book in January, and I want to share my thoughts with people.  Warning, there’s a few spoilers below, but I’ll try to be pretty vague.

A new release to Riptide Publishing, Burnt Toast B&B by Heidi Belleau and Rachel Haimowitz is about two guys trying to deal with their feelings for each other while one, Derrick, is intentionally running his B&B into the ground and the other, Ginsberg, is healing from a broken arm and has nowhere else to turn.

This lighthearted romance has themes that I am now recognizing from romance to romance, like Derrick spending way too long trying to decide whether or not he is going to move the plot forward, and both main characters agonizing over whether or not they should express their feelings for the other, and Derrick making a horribly bad decision and realizing the error of his ways.  I think all of these plot points are handled gracefully and well, letting me laugh at the silly parts and making my heart swell with joy when the characters do finally make a move on each other.  But I do feel like some of the internalizations of Derrick about his parent’s B&B pushed it too far and became repetitious, just a loop of “I should but I can’t, I should but I can’t” for a few pages every few chapters.

What really made this book stand out for me were the characters.  Ginsberg is amazing.  He’s quirky and funny and compassionate and I instantly wanted him to be my best friend.  I feel like I would get along with him.  I’d want him to just tell me about his day over tea and I would watch his animated talking and expressiveness and just be happy to know him.  I genuinely liked him. That does not usually happen to me regarding a book character, so I definitely give Heidi and Rachel mad props for doing such a fantastic job with making him come alive.  And of course, they handled the fact that he’s trans with precision and grace so that he was effortlessly normal.  I’ve heard that doesn’t always happen in fiction, so I wanted to point that out here.

Many of the other characters, from flamboyant Jimmy all the way to nonbinary Dean were all well rounded and real and fit into this world very well.  I’ll admit I haven’t read the other books of the Bluewater Bay series so I’m not sure which of these characters are showcased in other books, but I am at least pleased with how well they were portrayed in this one.

And because it’s a romance, I do want to touch briefly on the sex– insomuch to say that it read very well and was engaging.  Derrick ‘s doubt about the proper way (of course proper is going to differ from person to person) to have sex with a trans person was honest and just a little silly, which I thought was completely perfect for these characters.

Overall, I enjoyed this book, and will probably snoop around the authors’ backlogs to see what else catches my fancy.

Have a great weekend, all!

January 20, 2015
by Kelly
0 comments

News and a Question

I have some exciting news. I will officially become a published author! Daily Science Fiction has accepted a short story I wrote late last year called “Strings” and it should be out on their website some time in 2015. When I know more details, I’ll be sure to pass them on! Until then, check out DSF’s awesome flash fiction at http://dailysciencefiction.com.

Now on to my question. I posed this on twitter the other day and hope to reach more of my friends here.
I am in the process of converting part of a novel to a short story. It is a mostly-abandoned novel I started six years ago set in a completely alien landscape with completely alien protagonists. So careful word building is critical in this shorter context. But the main item I need advice on is how to convert the plot. Should I pick one story-arch and try to cut it to the appropriate size? Should I touch on many things and try to paint a bigger picture (this is the structure of “strings” so I am currently pretty fond of it)? Should I try something else entirely and cut a new plot out of the existing world and characters?

What would you do faced with the task of converting a novel to a short story? Have you done this before? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks so much all.

January 3, 2015
by Kelly
0 comments

Embracing a New Year

I will be brief today. With the holidays and family and travelling I have been busy, and I am sure you all have been as well.

But now it’s January, and come Monday the grind will resume its daily habit as we all get swept through another year.

I look back at 2014 and am so happy to say it has been an amazing year. My son is at the brink of speech, my family moved to a house, I have improved my health tremendously through exercise. I started a new novel, and completely revised an old one. I’ve had wonderful moments with friends and family all year long. There are some things that challenged us, especially when my husband broke his ankle. But we rose to the challenge and he has fully healed, and I now know what strength we both possess.

Some of you may recall last January I posted about starting a graphic novel. That project went on the backburner as I helped my husband heal and then as we moved, and then as I focused primarily on writing. I still would like to do a graphic novel one day, but for now I will continue to focus on my writing. I am anxious to keep working on my current project, the urban fantasy gay romance, and write more short stories on the side.

As I look to 2015, I am excited. I plan to keep moving my writing career forward. I plan to keep exercising and get stronger. But I don’t want to claim anything as a resolution, except for this: I want to continue to spend time with my friends and family, even through we have moved farther away. We will celebrate two weddings this year, and I can’t wait to be a part of them.

Happy New Year, all.