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Creating Diverse Literature

  • Posted on August 6, 2014 at 1:17 pm

Today, I’ve had a guest post published over at Writerology. A wonderful site, they offer lots of resources for up and coming authors. Please, do take a look. The article I wrote can be found here. It’s a two-thousand word essay on how to create a more diverse cast of characters in your novels, and why. Please do take a look! <3

Finding Your Niche in 3 Easy Steps

  • Posted on July 15, 2014 at 10:45 pm

For some of us, the word Niche ends up being a scary sort of thing. Something to fear and worry over. It becomes something akin to the word ‘cage’ or ‘trap’. We feel as though it is meant to hem in what we want to accomplish with the world. It isn’t something that comes easy or is to be taken lightly, and that, in and of itself, brings about a form of terror. Niche writing tends to end up very personal, and some don’t wish to be subjected to the backlash that writing a blog on ‘personal care after BDSM‘ or ‘how to trim your pubic hairs‘, but that is what they know, and love.
When it came to my attention that perhaps finding that one little niche market that meant something to me would be a good idea, I legitimately had a panic attack for several days. I didn’t want to be hemmed into something that didn’t fit. But how could I find something that did? What if it was too much for my readers to ever want to read? What if what I liked was something too obscure, and no one would want to read it?
So, I sat down, in front of my Zenwriter, and thought to myself, what are some steps I can take to make this less terrifying. What are some things I can ask myself about writing in a niche, to find out what exactly my niche was. Now, I already had a niggling thought in the back of my head of what that might be, but I didn’t necessarily want to force myself into it.
The first question in my list was: What do I want to share with the world?
This was easy. I want to share fantasy with everyone. I want to share it in a way that makes everyone feel included. Women, men, transgender, genderqueer, gay, straight, bisexual, asexual, aromantic, everyone, everywhere should be able to read a fantasy book and think, “oh wow, I wish that I could experience that.”
The second question was: Okay, but what do you want to share with the world ON YOUR BLOG?
This wasn’t so easy. In fact, it’s what caused the several day panic attack. I want to share myself with the world. I want to let everyone know who I am and where I come from and why I’m the way I am. But I also want to share with the world the things that are wrong, and the things that are right and the things that are beautiful. I want to teach the world to accept not only itself but everyone else, and to see that we are all the same in that we dream beautiful dreams.
That lead to the question: But how can I share this with the world?
A friend of mine, Chris Votey, brought up the idea of interviews with other LGBTQA writers, Reviews of other writer’s work, and offering myself as a representative of Asexual culture. Which, honestly, I wouldn’t find too bad. It would take a lot of time, and energy however. But, I find the more I think about it, the less I mind. Because really, isn’t it about what I give, not what it takes from me? Then, I thought about what else I could do to share my dream of representation with the world.
Resources. I could provide resources for things that most people don’t think of. I could try to provide a unique look into certain subcultures. I could write about the things that interest me, and hopefully, provide enough information that others would like it. But that won’t get me any closer to being like those I admire. That won’t bring me the same sort of love that Misha Collins, Andrew Hussie, or Neil Gaiman have. That won’t help others to see my words.
Then, I thought that perhaps I could start with lists. With things that I find out, over the course of my journey to become a full-fledged author. Such as this list that you’re reading right now. That definitely helped to ease my panic a little. Because lists, lists are small, and easy, and quickly done, so I can definitely work with them. Another thing I could have tried is perhaps snippets of information found throughout the internet. Or perhaps little anecdotes from my life that help me to focus on what it is I am working on.
But that’s all very abstract and not very well thought out. So, I rewrote it.

 

1) What is it that I want to share with the world?
– Representation for all, and fantasy that everyone can enjoy.

2) What is it that I want to share with those reading my blog?
-Ways to spread Representation, My thoughts on LGBTQA representation, and my progress in my quest for more.

3) How am I to share this?
– Lists
– Personal anecdotes
– Resources found throughout my internet trawling
– Interviews with other LGBTQA writers
– Reviews of websites, blogs and books written for/by other LGBTQA writers
– Snippets of my writing and writing styles

And there you have it. My path to finding my niche, and settling into it. I hope this helps you, because it certainly helped me. If you need any more information, please, leave a comment, or email me, and I’ll be happy to help you find your niche too. And please, don’t hesitate to speak up.

Rumpelstiltskin

  • Posted on April 21, 2014 at 12:52 pm

I’ve developped this idea for Rumpelstiltskin, that I intend to make a full-length novel out of, and possibly a series. So here’s a snippet of that, since I wanted to write something from it anyway. To explain, since one of the main characters doesn’t HAVE a gender, and is as such genderqueer, That character uses pronouns Xie/Xir In place of His/Hers or He/She. The book will also have this sort of preface, to avoid those whom might find confusion in such a thing.

As the Stillskin, Xie had always been obedient. The Stillskin had never been allowed to move without the Summer Lady’s absolute permission. But this new Lady, this Sweet Rumpel, she was never giving orders. She would ask. She asked if the Stillskin would be alright left home alone, and when the Stillskin had shook xir head, she had listened. She brought the Stillskin things to do, cloth to sew, new books to read, patient teaching to impart upon the faerie-lost one.

The Stillskin knew that Rumpel need not do these things, not after the trouble that Stillskin had caused. For some reason, Rumpel cared. She brushed the Stillskin’s hair, and helped xir bathe, and all of it as gentle as can be. None of the trickery. Xie still hadn’t gained xir words back, and Stillskin still wasn’t able to hide behind a glamour, like the pretty faeries who sometimes stole kisses from the maids in the market. Xie wished xie could.

Stillskin loved her. In a way the Summer Lady had occupied the Stillskin’s heart, now Rumpel did. If she asked, xie would give xir life for her. Like the Dullahan, Stillskin would serve Rumpel until the end of days. Perhaps this was enticed when Rumpel gave xir a spinning wheel, and enough hay to begin again. Xie always felt safer, happier, when spinning the straw. Spinning it to gold, like the Summer Lady had asked xir to. But now, xie spun for Rumpel.

Spinning was perfection, the hay passing xir fingers, calming and cool, and turning to gold. It was one of the only things that xie could still do. Xie thanked whatever powers let xir keep that gift. It was the only way xie could be useful to Rumpel now.

Greener Pastures (for Goats)

  • Posted on April 8, 2014 at 12:36 pm

“Goats? You brought me here-” The pale sorcerer swept hands out and used them to indicate the expanse of green grass and hills, “To show me goats.”

Dirk gave a bit of a sigh, and smiled, ruefully. Even on good days, Yumil was still judgemental and easily annoyed. It surely didn’t help that one of the little bastards had decided to chew on that long black hair either. The Knight rescued the lock from it’s unwelcome attendant, and settled his arm around Yumil’s shoulder. It seemed to settle his partner, and that was always welcome. Yumil had a firey temper, and a love of elemental magic powerful enough to blow up small mountains. Dirk would be lucky to escape if this turned south.

“No. I brought you here to give you a gift, and to get away from the capital for a bit. We’ve been working hard, and…” Dirk swallowed, unsure if he should really give this bit away, knowing how Yumil was with this sort of thing. “And I wanted to spend some time with you.”

The stare he got was incredulous. Golden eyes searched him over for any sign that he was lying, any  indicator that he was setting up some cruel trick. He wished he could take that sort of fear away from Yumil, but after so many long years in servitude, the mage was too long used to it. Yumil was born into torment, and everyone thereafter just let the sorcerer down, one way or another. It was tragic, and Dirk ached to fix it. So, instead of letting Yumil stew in such feelings, he pulled out the package. He’d had to ask several of his acquaintances for help, including the Priest-Queen herself, and while Lishtair had been busy, she had offered invaluable advice to this end. He was hopeful that it would suit Yumil’s tastes.

Slender hands took the package, and unwrapped the linen inside from it’s soft yellow paper. The ribbon, a bright crimson, disappeared, and Dirk had no doubt he would see it in Jorgan’s hair, at some point soon. Dark eyebrows quirked, and fingers unfolded the cloth. The sharp gasp of breath felt like a treat to the knight, as Yumil realised what it was.

“This… This is beautiful…” The sorcerer held the dress up against the thin body, and smiled a small, wibbly smile. “Why would you…”

“Because I saw it, and thought you’d look amazing in it.” Dirk answered, giving an unaffected shrug. It was easy to get out, considering how many times he’d practiced it in the mirror. Truthfully, he’d hunted for that dress for weeks, along with Eamon and her partner, Anelace helping. Those girls were a lifesaver. The ruffles at the chest and sleeves would look perfect, and lend femininity to what little masculinity was clinging to Yumil. The long flowing skirt would help add to the mage’s hips. It was perfect, and in a shade of light lavender that would look beautiful on his skin. Dirk was proud of himself for this.

At least, he was, until Yumil teared up, sniffling. He watched as the darkest mage of the century held a dress to a thin, sobbing chest, and cried. Unsure what he’d done wrong, he swallowed, and wrapped his arm around Yumil once again. “Come now, look, you’re scaring away the goats.”

Indeed, the goats were wandering off, towards somewhere else, some other greener pasture, and when Yumil looked up, and smiled at Dirk, the thosfigian man thought perhaps, they were too.

The Gender Binary – A Myth

  • Posted on March 21, 2014 at 2:59 am
In Northern Colorado, a *transgirl was refused access to the girl’s bathroom, because the school board did not understand that she was in fact female, despite what genitalia her body was born with. This is a sad state of affairs, and also the current norm for our societies functioning. Those who do not fit into the Gender Binary are often shoved to the wayside, and told to conform. Instead of being allowed to determine their own autonomy, they are told what to be, male or female. This is not only damaging to the individual, but to our society as a whole. And while there are those who view these people as dangers to society, as deviants and people to be ‘fixed’, this is sincerely not true. One can no more fix those who choose to live outside the gender binary, than one can fix those who have different shades of skin.
Now, to explain what the Gender Binary is. This is the belief, however mistaken, that there are in fact only two genders. These two genders being Male and Female. However, studies have proven that many times, a person, usually between the ages of 12-25 find that they do not, mentally, fit into this gender binary. Often, someone born with male organs will wish to indulge in feminine ideas, such as wearing pretty skirts or painting their nails. Sometimes, someone born female will feel more at home with shorn hair and pants than the traditional female garb.
These are of course, not anything to actually be afraid of, although often the idea is met with revulsion, or violence. The rates of violence against transgender or gender queer individuals is almost equal to that of the violence against gay individuals, or even African American individuals. Often this idea confuses people, and for those raised in heavily traditional homes, this often means that they feel threatened by this lack of traditionalism. There are those who even believe that there is something inherently wrong with those who feel this way, and that in order to correct this behavior, one must strictly adhere to one’s gender roles.
There is a mistaken belief that gender roles exist for a reason. That women are inherently better at caring for children, cooking, housecleaning, and various other homey activities. Men are often touted for strength, and logic, and various trough qualities as well. The problem with this is, it is too general. Too narrowed. In this day and age, there are women who have proven to be just as adept at logic as men, scientists, doctors, lawyers. There are men who have proven to be more capable of caring for children than the women who birth the children. There are kindergarten teachers who are male, and their children love them. So holding to these mistaken gender roles does nothing but refute that people are in fact people and capable of being good at things not because of their gender, but because they work hard at it and try.
This ties in, just as much, to the scientific studies that children without male and female gender role models will grow up somehow lacking. Even in most human sexualities classes, we are taught that without a female role model, women will somehow be unable to relate to other women. Without a male role model, men will become weak willed and unable to stand up for themselves. This is just simply not true. There are numerous single-parent households where the children come out with healthy outlooks on life, and the ability to decide for themselves whether they wish to adhere to these roles society places upon them. Even more so, there are children who grow up in households with two mothers, or two fathers, and they too are quite capable of providing good role models for their children.
In fact, by denying that these individuals, these gender fluid people exist, we are setting a very bad example for our children. By saying, no, it is not alright for boys to wear dresses, we are saying that boys cannot be free to choose their own clothing. By telling girls that they are not allowed to be rough and loud, we are telling them that their opinions, and beliefs should not be upheld however they need to be upheld. A long time ago, there was such a thing as segregation. At this point, we have segregated the genders. They are so separated that boys playing with girls toys are made fun of, and girls playing with boys toys are called ‘tomboys’, as if it is better to be a boy than a girl.
This is saying to our children that to feel other than what WE feel, is in fact, unnatural. That if you do not conform to what society tells you to conform to, you are wrong, and need to be ‘fixed’. This is not a healthy outlook for children. In fact, this sort of parenting has lead to massive suicide rates in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and gender queer teens. Instead of embracing, and allowing our children to change as they need to, to learn about the world, we lock them down, force them to conform to our ideas of the norm. This is no better than locking a bird in a cage. Safe that bird might be, but never happy.
The most radical views upon our gender-non-conforming populace say that they are unnatural, that ‘God does not make mistakes’. These are the same sort of people who will refuse a transwoman her hormone treatments and force her to dress as a man. These are the sorts of people who will say that prayer and bible camp can fix a child of his homosexuality. These people have been proven wrong, time and time again. Hiding away someone under false clothes will only lead to depression, to pain and possibly to suicide. And the camps they send homosexuals to, to cure them, have been proven dysfunctional, and often cruel. There is no reason to consider these people deviants or unnatural. Those who do not fit into the gender binary are in fact to be celebrated. They add new life to the world around us, new perspectives to enjoy it from. It is one of the most natural things in the world, and diversity is required for a species to thrive and live.
Often, the final question is “How are we supposed to act around them?” or, “How are we supposed to treat them?” These questions can be answered with an old idiom. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If the one asking wishes to be treated with respect, treat the gender fluid individuals with the same respect. If one wishes to be allowed to be accepted for who one is, others have the right to expect the same acceptance of who they are. If it’s confusing to know what pronouns to use with someone, ask. If something said might be offensive, bite the tongue. Just treat them with all the respect that they, as a person, deserve.
It really comes down to basic decency. Just because someone has chosen to live outside what is the norm for society doesn’t mean that we must shun them, or that they are wrong. It simply means that they are different, and we must accept them. The gender binary is something we as a society created in order to feel more comfortable with ourselves. It is a construct that is outdated, and tired. No longer are there only two genders, but a whole spectrum. Those that feel male some days and female others, those that choose to be female when born with male genitalia, those that choose to be no gender at all, and those who do not choose, but instead know; they are, all of them, beautiful people, just as those whose genders match their genitalia are beautiful people too. Be kind, be respectful, and care for those around you, no matter how different from yourself they may be. That’s the simplest rule one can follow, and the oldest commandment in any religion. It is time Society accepted it, and began to live by it.

Thinking About His Companions – A deleted scene from The Sorcerer and the Swordsman

  • Posted on March 21, 2014 at 2:51 am

((This scene was deleted due to it’s repetitive nature when combined with other scenes in the book. However, it was a unique perspective and look at the characters from Yumil, the Sorcerer’s, point of view. Have a look!))

That night, Yumil did not join the large group for dinner, sitting apart instead, and eating a summoned apple. The silver haired princess clearly disliked his separating himself, as she stormed over to him pretty quickly. Looking up, he realized she had a bowl of food in her hand. Raising an eyebrow, he muttered a quick spell, freezing the food solid. She made an indescribable sound, glowered at him, and huffed her way back to the group.

Good riddance. Yumil didn’t exactly want to deal with her anyway. The smell of the sausage and hastily cooked rice was making his stomach queasy. He wasn’t sure if it was hunger or sickness, and he wasn’t taking a chance. His summoned food was more than enough for him.

Watches were established, and luckily, they had enough people for three per watch, two if Dirk excluded Jorgan, Lette and Yumil. Nights were dangerous on the plains, if one was unaware. Usually, dangerous beasts avoided fires and the sounds people made. But at night, when the fire is banked, and no one is moving about too much, some get curious at the smell of food, and come closer.

They never did have that problem. Yumil knew it was because of the creatures sleeping inside him. No self respecting animal would attack something more dangerous than itself unless it had to. And in this case, everything under the sun could tell that he was far more powerful than he appeared.

For his part, Yumil was attempting to avoid as many of the group as possible. Large groups made his skin crawl, almost as much as being alone with someone. He much preferred solitude, and this was not the place to get it. Luckily, few of the warriors they’d brought wanted to speak to him, his atrocities too near in their memories. That didn’t stop the child from staring at him, during the long trudging walk the horses took them on. Yumil raised a raven eyebrow at the male, and the child ducked his head. He couldn’t be more than twelve. Perhaps younger, even. His eyes though…. Something about them was familiar.

Taking another deep breath, Yumil turned away from the green eyed child, and towards his book. He had taken up reading again. During his apprenticeship, his master had instilled in him a love of books and all things to be read. Yumil had always had a natural sort of curiosity, something that made his horrid existence worse and better at the same time. Knowledge truly was power.

He couldn’t help but notice the princesses looking at him as well. The priestess obviously shared her mother’s view on his personality, since she kept sending him pitiful looks, and attempting to feed him of all things. Princess Lette was beginning to become a sore in his side, and he was attempting to think up ways to make her life hell without actually harming her. A bit of honey on her skin was good for her, and it would also attract ants like nothing else. Perhaps a few layers applied to her skin while she slept. Yes, that would work.

Princess Eamon was a whole different story. She was dangerous. Warrior through and through, Eamon would not hesitate to kill him. The only reason she had not killed him yet was because he was useful. God how he hated that word. But for now, it was his armor, his shield. They would not kill him, and that would give him time to break this damnable binding. He would foil that God one way or another, and have his revenge.

The voices in his blood spoke whispers of tearing him from his throne and rending his godly limbs into dust. Another hissed that he should do the same with these pitiful mortals. A third reminded him that he was immortal, infallible. He would be doing them justice.

He quieted the voices, the demons he’d taken into his heart, and settled them with whispered promises for the end of the world, the destruction of all those wicked souls they craved so much. He remembered his master whispering so to the darkness that was darker than his skin, the shadow shapes that swirled across his thin limbs like wraiths. Yumil was too vain for that, so he kept them in his heart, his blood, instead of his skin. Master hadn’t liked that. But he was dead, so what did his opinion matter?

Catching Dirk looking at him however, that was unsettling. The large man held his fate in his hands, and honestly, Yumil wasn’t sure whether he should cozy up to the man, or if he should make him more of an enemy. One way, he could end up worse even than he was as a child. The other, he might end up losing every ounce of freedom he currently claimed. Either option was enough to send chills down his spine and make him retreat into books rather than think on it any more.

The only point in Dirk’s favor was that he was clearly still the innocent that Yumil remembered. He sighed, letting the breath out with a long sigh. He didn’t care that the man had grown up. He didn’t care that Dirk might have had bad experiences because of what he’d done. The male was an innocent, the same as the children that Yumil had spared. Yumil would never regret sparing him. Although for a moment, on the battlefield, he’d felt a sting of betrayal that Dirk would turn against him so.

He remembered the look of abject hatred that had lived in Dirk’s eyes, and realized that perhaps that wasn’t the case any longer. How could he feel betrayed when it was clear that Yumil hadn’t wanted to save HIM, but rather, had simply wanted something or someone to champion. He felt that realization become a heavy weight on his heart, and pushed it away as firmly as he pushed away memories and thoughts of anything but his future revenge.

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