An idea for anyone interested …

I love to hear about new books as much as the next person.  And I’ve noticed that some of my readership is comprised of writers.  And a simple fact of life is that some have more and others less readership than I do.  Certainly it’s a given that we all have different readership.

I’ve heard of blog tours, guest bloggers, etc.  And this isn’t so different as that; but a little bit, yes. Continue reading

Gender Identity vs Expression

There’s been ever so much … this is typing in a very awesome font, I should send a thank you note to the devs as it’s quite dyslexia friendly 🥰 … sorry, back to our regularly scheduled sentence … “debate” about gender and it’s infuriating.

First, I wanna say, bollox to anyone who thinks my identity or that of any trans/cis/enby/etc. person on this planet is up for anything like debate or discussion. Piss off, die, and rot in Hell … I couldn’t care less in what order.

“Oh gods and saints preserve us, Jaye’s swearing 🤬 again”

Yeah, well, it got old … well … I’d reckon it musta already been pretty old a little while ag—hold up, nah … Stonewall was 51 bloody years ago! So over half a century ago we RIOTED over people trying to deny us things like rights, respect, recognition, all that fun stuff. This is getting ridiculous.

So there’s a thing the a lot of “gender critical” folk (henceforth called “idiots”) like to harp on that amounts to we’re telling butch lesbians and femme gays they’re trans.

Well … okay, for starters you’re denying the existence of non-binary folk (blanket non … agender, bigender, whatever … you’re not strict m/f), it sorta breaks down with trans bisexuals, trans pansexuals, tran asexuals … it’s almost as if this whole idiocy movement might be rooted in generalised anti-lgbtqia+ hatred or something.

But alright … we’ll play along for a second. Sometimes in an effort to find a Gotcha moment, the idiots will warp the whole “gender is a construct” notion (while in the same breath engaging in the most grotesque gender essentialism EVER and that kinda crap requires gender NOT be a construct), but they acknowledge the concept in a roundabout fashion.

So, thought experiment. Quinn Mallory has rather inadvertently taken yours truly here onto a parallel Earth where she meets her double that, in this case, is her exact duplicate right down the the sub-molecular arrangements. However, in this world, all genderedness is inverted. “Girl colours” are “boy colours”, men wear dresses, makeup is masculine … the whole 9 yards (one day I ought to look up what’s so gorram important about 27ft).

Is my counterpart on this Earth-2 a woman?

Those tuning in for the first time should know some stuff:

  • I’m a monosexual lesbian. I really have almost no interest in men whatsoever. I just can’t grok the aesthetics.
  • I’m as attracted to women as I am not attracted to men. Tall, short, thick, thin, femme, not-as-femme 😝, trans, cis … doesn’t matter.
  • I am extremely femme. Like I own only one bifurcated garment that isn’t a skort. And of the latter I own 🤔 3? 2? Few.
  • I am, myself, trans.

So is my molecular copy also these things?

Ah, nurture or nature!

Idiots actually tangle the two up into stuff and nonsense because it’s the only way they can pretend to be using logic or even a neuron.

Nature: I am a woman. Full stop. My double, therefore, I can say with no uncertainty would be as well.

Nurture: would she reject the trappings of masculinity the way I do? I was a bit of a tomboy, I did like Tonka toys and … all that … but I mostly didn’t. I never went for sport, I don’t particularly like “masculine” scents, I abhor masculine jewellery … etc. But just as I tried to convince myself I didn’t like femme stuff to try to distance myself from the undeniable fact that I was a girl and did – indeed – enjoy some of the girly stuff (look 80s … I didn’t like SOME “girl stuff” because it was just daft).

So there’s the possibility that me-beta would be very femme by her standards and thus quite butch by ours. I do doubt this somewhat. My personal feelings are that she would be very butch by Earth-2 standards. She is my exact double and I’ve come to grips with my tastes and interests.

What she MIGHT not be is out.

See … she likes “guy stuff” mostly and can probably do without or just accept as quirks some of the Earth—2 femme stuff she might dig. If she can come to grips with the bodily dysphoria she may happily present and identify as male.

This seems daft, doesn’t it?

No, not really. It’s why I’m actually glad I’m not only quite binary in my gender, but also in my presentation and stuff.

See … here’s the thing. She’s a woman. What growing up as one where the sorts of things she likes are masculine, and her birth certificate lists her as male … she MIGHT just manage to suppress herself. She’s not a man, but will accept society deciding she is. Basically, for her, it’s just not worth the effort to argue the point.

But some things to bear in mind: She is my MOLECULAR double. She still had utterly different experiences. She is absolutely a different person. How I know she’s a woman is that this is innate. I am a woman no matter how hard I tried not to be, and as far back as I can remember I knew this or knew that something was amiss in any case.

See … she might be femme … BY THEIR STANDARDS!! She would have been watching the world to understand how to be like those like her – the women – and ignoring the men. So while me-prime loves makeup, loves dresses, loves jewellery, etc she may very well NOT. She may find all of that as intrinsically distasteful as I do sport, and fart jokes, and stuff.

I decry gender essentialism then seem to embrace it. No. See, we imprint. Some more than others. Our society defines what is/isn’t one thing or another. In this same alternative Earth’s culture maybe 3-piece suits are Middle Eastern and Europeans are wearing thobes 🤷‍♀️. So what is impossible to separate when one is unable to stand outside of the parameters of the experience is what of our TASTES are nurture vs nature. My wife finds the colour green kind of blah, she’s also colour blind – this is probably nature. She hates femme colours – internalised misogyny coupled with a certain visceral rejection of gender (she’s enby), in a word, nurture.

So if I had to guess my counterpart might actually be quite into Earth-2 NASCAR 🤮.

Still, she would be trans. Out and butch, out and femme, closeted and contented enough to keep her head down and tough it out … any of these are equally possible but they none of them mean she isn’t a woman.

“But Jaye! Chromosomes!!!”

That’s sex. That is a whole other conversation that is also extremely complex. The very simplest answer is that “sex-chromosomes” were rejected almost immediately as A Thing by biologists at the time they were “discovered”. And still are. They do seem to play some mind of role, not even central, to what plumbing a person’s body will try to develop in utero. After that they don’t do much. What plumbing, and wiring, develops is chemically determined more than anything. Once the plumbing is installed they perpetuate whatever is going on (except when something else happens … biology is NEVER simple). The wiring is its own contractor. This, it seems, is coded for by maternal hormones somehow I don’t care to try to make sufficient sense of to explain, but appears to mean we are already gendering ourselves in the womb and getting ourselves revved up for that imprinting we’re thinking we might try to do.

That wiring can be incompatible with that plumbing. Trans doesn’t have to mean catastrophic systemic conflicts, but there’s a disconnect in any event. No one’s quite certain how non-binary comes along … either that’s due to the sociological aspect of gender or it’s a wiring version of what happens to the plumbing of some types of intersex anatomy 🤷‍♀️ I won’t pretend I know. Anyway, back to the simpler universe of strict binary for sake of discussion. The wiring for “female” comes with certain basic system requirements, as does “male”. So what happens is often a hormonal short out.

See … to compress a lot of stuff down into a few broad sentences: a female brain needs and wants oestrogen, a male one testosterone. Both need and want both, but the former can go almost entirely without T and the latter can almost do without Œ. In a trans woman, the oestrogen shortage causes psychiatric malfunction, in a trans man that lack of testosterone does the same. Just as it does in their cis woman/man counterparts … and with about the same percentage affected – for want of a word – strangely (women who are scrambled by oestrogen, men who really shouldn’t have T …).

This base wiring has built-in drivers. The brain literally has a map of the body in. Well … a woman has a map involving certain parts and a man certain different parts. Analogous tissues they may be, but they’re in different places and used differently (somewhat). When the diagnostic routines keep getting the wrong feedback from those tissues, and even more distressing feedback from the modules it … well … it gets bad.

This is how there’s no incongruity for cis folk, there is for trans folk, and I’ve never seen anyone articulate what is happening in non-binary-land so I have to say “ask them! I’m not the archduchess of queerdom.”

So, in true novelist fashion, I have expanded “trans women are women, trans men are men, and all them other folk exist too” into 1600 words. Go me.

This isn’t a debate. You come up in here trying to debate the reality and word of both my trans brothers/sisters/others AND the growing body of scientific data, I will mock you or block you. Ain’t nobody got time for that. And I don’t suggest coming at me to my face with that crap. I will absolutely be sarcastic, I will bless your heart, and damned if I might not break your punk ass face.


Further Adventures of The Silver Unicorns 🦄

The live tweet begins now (14:00) and will end around 22:00.

The Adventures of The Silver Unicorns!


Ugh, gross.

This thing is awful. Anyone who knows who I have to kill so this goes away please name them in the comments, thanks.

Anyway, Silver Unicorns. Adventures. D&D. Cormyr.

I live-twit the sessions on … well … on Twitter, obviously.
I’m going to try to compile the story to-date here, then I’ll make it a regular thing to post the threads here each time we do them.

Okay, got it. Most of these are threaded but I’ve no skill with these damn shortcodes so … figure it out. And if you know how to make them display better PLEASE TELL ME!! 😭😭

This next one mentions some pirates. At the time there was a somewhat concurrent D&D game of some practical Harpers. That game is on indefinite hiatus until the GM can find adventures suitable since they’re all either for level 1 or level 15 with almost 0 in-between.

Okay, I’m like 26.97% sure that’s all of them to date. That was WAY harder than it needed to be. Some stuff with WordPress has definitely taken a turn that makes me use this image:


Ta 👋, love 💕, and please don’t die of the COVID-19 plague 🦠

Neurology and the #WritingCommunity

So I wanted to do a post today RE Western Society & the Cult of mediocrity and it making people unable to understand spectrums or statistics. But I’ll save that for some other time (why, yes, I did just do that so I won’t forget. You may get a biscuit 🍪).

Instead a Twitter conversation led (is that the right one or do I mean lead? Bollox, migraine aura, English is hard enough without it!! 😱😭) to me wanting to speak my mind about the way the culture of writing is beyond ableist into a whole new realm of discrimination. Now, before we begin I want to make perfectly clear that the conversation in question simply put my brain down this path. Anyone who thinks for a moment I’m saying the person with whom the conversation was with was anything but marginally mistaken for a moment before gaining clarification, from me, and otherwise gave understandable encouragement can just piss right off into a volcano 🌋 or something. I’m sick of histrionic outrage and hypersensitive evangelical fundamentalist activism, too, but I can’t actually blog about that, and see no point vlogging it since it would just be me screaming until my voice or lungs give out. There’s sub-genres of metal if you wanna hear that.

Now that we’re clear I’ll put a link because it’s a good conversation & should be both shared and should be easy to find again should it be wished. Now … short codes … you’d think I’d know them by now …

Thing is, y’all, the whole “Just write! At least you’ll have written! You can just scrap it later!!” Besides my personal bias against the waste that is, there’s this: It really isn’t so simple.

I mean if you’re just a perky cheerleader type of personality putting that out there for someone who actually finds that motivational or whatever people who don’t have brief visions of violence flash through their minds when presented with perkiness feel when they see “motivational cheerfulness” or whatever the devil one calls it, it’s cool. You put anno—er helpful? vibes out there in the universe for people. Keep scrolling if it ain’t for you. I mean someone who says it a LOT maybe needs a little reminder that it’s not always that simple, and anytime it’s their go to answer to a person rather than the universe … now we have a problem.

And that’s the thing, it IS. Like seriously, these people just toss that around.

“😭😭 My cat has spleen cancer and has only a week left, I tried to write but I just start crying. Going to go watch Kurt Russell films with Fluffy for the rest of his week”

Someone is going to come along spitting this perky “just write!” attitude.

Thing is, depression is real and can be pretty draining. It can be debilitating. It can be a lot of things. It can be a source OR a detriment to creativity. I mean I can be creative when depression strikes, I guess, if you like the stupid 90s goth White Wolf Interview With a Vampire ennui crap (I’m not really a fan, myself).

Migraines. Those are neurological. “Just write through it!” Bitch! I can barely hold a pen. My eyeballs feel like they’re being used for atomic testing grounds. My head is throbbing. Thinking is, literally, painful. No! I will most certainly not write through it thank you! And that ignores the neurological aspects. Some migraine folks (moi included) do stuff like lose words. For me the only noun that exists is often ‘thingy’. There is no writing through that. What am I going to write, pray?!

Dyslexia. Dude, newsflash, it rarely works the way pop culture says. If it were just that we could just work it out and all would be swell. It don’t. A) for a fair chunk of us it isn’t always happening and when it is there’s just no way to tell. B) Many forms of it include random bouts of pure illiteracy. There’re times when, assuming I literally am capable of seeing that the text exists in the first place, that I simply cannot comprehend a single letter in front of me. For a mental picture, you don’t know one single kanji and the entire universe has just had the language settings switched to Japanese, and the UI moved the settings function.

Disability doesn’t even have to be drastic, or even permanent. The person whose cat has spleen cancer will probably feel better … eventually. Maybe you’ve got a nasty cold, or the neighbour’s dog has kept you up half the night three days running so you’re exhausted. Dude, it’s cool. Don’t write. What’s the point?! You’re not doing yourself any favours.

Go, hold Fluffy & enjoy Big Trouble in Little China one last time together. When the movies are over & you’re done crying the story will still be right where you left it. It’s not going anywhere.

Why write if what you’re saying is “Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?” but what you just wrote was “Banndrt houpl 8$&mop gerpl!” Especially if tomorrow, when you’re feeling better and are looking it over you can’t recall what that nonsense was supposed to be. Now you’re frustrated and angry and that’s not generally a good place for creativity, creates these blocks from frustration. There’s studies. I’m tired and feel ill so I’m not about to go looking for them. You’re on the Internet if you’re reading this. DuckDuckGo is a Thing That Exists.

If your fever is too high to recall by the end of a sentence what’d been the beginning of it, lie down, get fluids, play … Pokémon or something.

And y’all perky cheerleader sorts? Context matters. There’s a time & place for “Ra Ra! Go Team! You can do this!” And a time to say “Wow, here’s a hug and a cup of tea. I’ll just make sure your novel is put away neatly & safely while you go have a quiet lie down”. Relax a little bit with the “at least you’ve written” line. I mean … I didn’t even touch how that affects those with anxiety issues, that’s its own post all by its lonesome & I don’t even have anxiety. Assuming it isn’t just a catalogue of profanities, a person with anxiety could likely manage a series of posts.

So, let the watchword of 2020 be “chill”

Now & Forever: A literary analysis

You know, if you look closely at my Now & Forever series there’s some very interesting symbolism in there when you know what to look for*.

I mean take the girls, Sally & Lauren. They probably represent the world and America**!

Sally, obviously, is the world. Besides the obvious answers of being able to claim citizenship of three nations while growing up in a fourth, and being a polyglot, she’s the worldly one so experienced in foreign cultures and scenery. She’s also the utterly unconservative one with a sort of humanist approach, to say nothing of the more progressive mindset from being accepting of diverse religions as well as her trans family member, openness to polyamory, etc.

Lauren, on the other hand, represents America. She’s a strange mix of forward thinking and traditional, even conservative … dare we say ‘prudish’?! She’s little travelled, not especially well versed in foreign matters and language, white as rice, and about as Christian as Mary.

So by the twain meeting and having their influences on one another they represent America’s need fo embrace the rest of the world and step forward into a new, more global reality. But at the same time the world shouldn’t forget tradition and morality in its quest for progress.

It really sounds good, this stuff.

Sadly it’s all nonsense.

“But, Jaye! Death of the author! They just might!”

Listen … get lost with that or we’ll try a new concept called Missing and Presumed Dead of the Literary Analyst.

They could symbolise literally anything. They don’t symbolise a single bloody thing. I don’t have any truck with symbolism. Hate it. Drives me mad.

Look, I don’t build my characters. If you want to say I’m doing anything other that tuning into some parallel Otherwhere then my characters are a subconscious composite. They’re people I know, have known, have met, or characters from things I read, watched, or listened to. Some folks do this on purpose. Me? They’re in my imagination, how they came to be there I haven’t the slightest idea nor do I actually care. But if I thought about it I could probably work out where I got aspects of this out that person’s tastes, habits, personality, whatever.

I mean, fine, some work is garba—I mean symbolic. Analyse till you’re brains runnel out through your nostrils. Bet if you posted that to YouTube you’d get a million likes in 30seconds. That says horrible truths about humanity … anyway the point is that people see what they believe is there. They see what they need or want to see. Anything in any work of fiction can be symbolic of literally anything you can convincingly (or given a lot of “symbolism” in Little House you don’t even have to be convincing, just that particular sort of deranged lunatic that pronounces ‘nut case idiot’ as ‘feminist’).

I can make fun all I want but people are going go read my books and try to dig for depth that just isn’t there. I can’t stop it. I can just tell you, they’re full of it and not to let them get to you. It’s all perfectly face value. The people have depth (at least, I rather hope so), but not the … other business. I mean I make points but they’re obvious points that aren’t even points that ought to need making, like that sexuality is not itself sex. That homosexuality is nothing to do with fetish and perversion. That perfectly ordinary people with perfectly ordinary hopes and dreams can be attracted to someone the same gender. 🤷‍♀️ Truly radical and revolutionary stuff here.

Applicability. If you find meaning in anything I ever write, bully for ya. I doubt I put it there but if you can use my words to articulate a point or a thought? Go on with your mad self. It’s sincerely awesome. But that’s you. That’s your imagination, your creativity, your experiences putting it there, not me. I mean if it’s something absolutely beyond brilliant I’ll happily take credit for it (probably not really) but you know maybe just read stuff for fun. Bet ya over half the things they made you analyse in school didn’t actually mean anything beyond what was on the surface either.

* There’s not.
** Only, they don’t.

P.S. this new mocking of literature as a study is brought to you by my bored arsed mind suddenly pointing out how some nutter might perceive Sally & Pixie, and cemented by thinking up ‘Missing and Presumed Dead of the Analyst’. Thank you. Good day.

World building

I admit, Now & Forever doesn’t have a lot of actual world building … the beauty of setting it in a couple years back America. I even get the school calendar & course list (yes, including the yoga and the UWA math courses) from an actual Catholic high school from the region of WA the stories are set. When you can cheat, do it with enthusiasm.

That’s not to say I don’t have SF/F fiction that isn’t published yet.

Also, I’m a gamer.

World building checklists and worksheets are, as with characters, nothing to start from and maintain a facsimile of sanity.

One ought to approach world building from a narrow close focus. Have your notions then broaden your views and ask: what must be true for this to be true? Sometimes you have to scrap notions other times you give rise to a rich, organic world.

Take the Forgotten Realms. Ed Greenwood has been asked “do you have all this worked out, or do you make it up on the spot?” to which he answered “yes … and yes”. If you have a living, vibrant world thriving in your mind then you can seamlessly stitch the known and the spontaneous together and dare anyone, even your own clone, to spot which is which.

It helps to have very broad education. Not schooling. You can be a kindergarten drop out with a broad education so long as you’re literate. Concentrate on the soft sciences. Hard science is more malleable than it likes to admit. Focus too hard on what we “know” about biology and you’ll pass up an awesome creature as “impossible” only for us to find one in an ocean lava flow. History, sociology … these, so long as you follow their methodology more intimately than their actual “knowledge” you’ll be alright.

You don’t need to have every trade route mapped out to the gram of copper and the commodities rates for sugar, but it helps. Economics are a major driving force for wars and strife. Good to know where silks are easy or hard to get.

In my scifi stuff it’s hard to get good strawberries. Seriously. Earth has fewer and fewer farms, many of its colonies rely on a war-born artificial ration processor that sort of 3D prints things that let you not starve to death, and their FTL is not up to par. What strawberries are available off Earth are carried by alien traders who have better, but much smaller ships. It’s expensive. One day there may actually be an interstellar war over strawberries! Likely? No, but who knows?!

There’s one world where an entire galaxy’s goods can be, somewhat, easily found along with examples of its cultures. Off that world? No one’s ever heard of them.

This is: know your scale and perspectives. In the Realms, just because Drizzt is important in the far north, he’s virtually a rumour in Waterdeep, virtually unknown in Cormyr, and is unknown in parts beyond. Elminster has had a long and meddlesome life. His name is probably known to many. That he yet lives? Where? How old is he? No. Many of his exploits? Fictions, legends, exaggerations, truths, follies, falsifications, mistaken identity …

Look at out own world. Hard as it is for some to believe, there’s folks who don’t really know who Beyonce is. If they’re from certain countries/cultures they’re bound to know the name, but do they know the face? The music? The profession? Not necessarily.

Keep your places … humble and remember, someone important enough will be known in the next village (or star system, or galaxy) to be sure. But past it?

Also remember, you don’t have to actually know the bestseller list for a region, but you should have a concept what’s In so you could write one up in a trice without much thought.

I might write more on this soonish. But for now I’ve exhausted my thought, utterly forgot if I have or had a point whatsoever, and needs must get onward to the grocery store.

Today in stupid advice

I can’t even pretend to be polite about this. It’s ridiculous.

Yes, some of the greatest SF/F writers out there love to read SF/F, some don’t.

As a writer you should love to read. If you don’t read you … it’s hard to explain but consider it Furthering Education or whatever the devil that modern phrase for it is when teachers are required to go back to college every few years kinda thing.

But reading should be something you love.

This and it’s myriad copies (seriously, I find it both terrifyingly cult-like as well as exceedingly telling that these are always worded nigh identically) are phrased in a way that clearly implies “so you known what is selling right now and you can write that”.

I call bullshit.

Don’t believe me? Follow editors and they’re all wanting to see something new and different and lament all the agents who’re only accepting the tried and true.

Look at how many clones of Twilight failed to garner its numbers. The Harry Potter knockoffs. Too, look at the insane number of people of all ages who prefer YA because it’s where they can find something different … to say nothing of YA not actually needing a special genre tag for “this isn’t depressing, dark, etc”.

In short the people like Ms Dawson who say this are horribly out of touch.

You want advice on writing? Look to the successful writers: Ed Greenwood, Neil Gaimen, Terry Pratchett, Spider Robinson, J K Rowling, Saladin Ahmed, Jeph Jacques …

What do they all have in common? They didn’t look at their own genre for anything. Not really. Pratchett’s Discworld stuff started out parodying Dragon Riders of Pern which is a fantasy novel, but I’m pretty sure that is not what the Dawsons of the world mean.

In many cases they utterly defy genre. Ben Bova acknowledges that Spider’s stuff is not, strictly speaking (and doubly so back when Ben was editor of a major SF magazine!) SciFi, but where the hell else could Spider’s stuff find a home?! It definitely wasn’t Romance, Horror, Mystery, or Western. It could be called SF/F if you squinted and turned your head upside-down … so, what the hell! True, Spider reads SF/F … because he likes a good Heinlein, not because it has anything to do with his work.

Ed Greenwood is a librarian whose home is packed to the gills with tens of thousands of books, all of which he has read. So, okay, yeah he reads Fantasy … and cooking, and architecture, and biology, and mystery, and horror, and poetry, and … he just likes books. And that diversity of tastes influences his work.

The thing is, do your thing. Whatever that thing may be. Try to sell it to an agent if you like, but agents are … no one’s sure why … a bit obsessed with finding the next big clone of the current hot trend; like it costs them anything to accept something great and just actually do their flippin’ job! But publishers won’t let their editors accept unagented stuff anymore. But luckily traditional publishing is really just great for an advance which is pretty paltry and for being distributed by Ingram which I probably misspelled and don’t care but is also pretty much the distributor for All Things Book for US audiences (sad but true, Reagan & Bush’s dismantling of antitrust laws was a Bad Thing … not that publishing much got enforcement of them anyway).

Still, as truly awful as they are (and words can’t express how awful they are) it’s as effective or more so to be available on Amazon which is easy enough to do. Though I’ll be damned if I’ll engage in the modern day slavery of Kindle Unlimited (exclusivity to Amazon and I make a piece if an arbitrary sized pie made of pocket change that Amazon sets?! Fuck that.)

But read what you like, write what you like. And remember: Ursula Vernon doesn’t read SF/F. But she writes it and can’t seem to stay off the bestseller lists 🤷‍♀️.

Romantic Inclusivity

Now, I’ve said before that Romance is not a genre I’m well acquainted with. It mostly bores me and drives me up a wall.

To be fair I do watch good rom-coms like Imagine Me & You, But I’m a Cheerleader, For a Good Time Call …, Pretty Woman, etc.

But it isn’t something I read I’ve tried but I can’t get into it.

I realised today, thanks to @NeolithicSheep just what the problem I have is.

She decided to tweet-stream a book. And I mean zero criticism to the charming Comrade Shepherd herself; she’s merely a catalyst and her tweet-stream is quite entertaining … far more so than I find the story itself.

And I may have made a brief subtweet on the subject of today’s blogpost but there’s zero point linking to that because I’ll say the same thing here with LOTS more words.

In fairness to the authors of these stories, I do not have the faintest idea how monochromatic they are. For all I know the were-bears are Iroquois, and were-tigers are Nepalese, and … stuff. Which, I’m sure, Tumblr-folk (look, they haven’t settled on a new platform so the name can’t change yet) will complain “that’s so problematic!” but there’s a reason nobody takes the Tumblr crowd seriously: They’re the looking for reasons to be offended sort and I’ve no patience for that; won’t even argue with it, occasionally contemplate slapping the snot out of it but mostly I roll my eyes and move on, because there’s no discussion or debate with that sort. They’re basically the alt-left, the liberal-Nazi … you know, the opposition’s morons. But to return to my point, the cast may be if divers skin tone, accent, religion, and nationality 🤷‍♀️.

But, you know, despite my wife’s cruel sense of humour including reading about all these crazy subgenres of Romance she never hits a single lgbt+ example?!

Not among were-erotica romances, not among the 50 Shades knockoff garbage (I abhor 50 Shades as much or more than Twilight), none of it. The Romance shelves are barren of a Red Sonja-esque Fabia with a damsel draped in her arms. Of a Sean Connery kissing a Valentino. Of … gimme a break, Romance covers don’t get very creative.

I mean, if you’re diligent enough you will find a het-romance with a male POV character or a 3rd person that is either over his shoulder or includes his perspective in the omniscience. That bends the mould a little.

But where’s the shattering?!

I mean, literally – near as I could determine it after weeks (months?) of scouring both trad & self pub – Now & Forever is either first of its kind or damn-near-so as being gay fiction that’s happy. I wrote the Male POV Bodice Ripper of Gay Teen Romance (note: Both girls’ bodices remain intact in the only occasion any bodices are worn).

Now, I’m probably going to have were-things in Færie Patrol because why not. And they’re going to be anywhere on the gender spectrum and anywhere on the sexuality one as is my wont.

But where’s the cliché, formulaic nonsense about A Woman and a Were-Tigress? The Alpha-Bitch taming the New York Banker Man? The (oh gods, I can’t not go here) Were-Bear Bear Couple? (Sorry, not sorry) The Trans Marine Time-Traveller and The Viking Princess/Prince?

Nowhere to be seen! Even in the nightmarish dregs of Smashwords‘ strangest tags (not for the faint of heart, it’s safer to go have tea with a Lovecraftian Horror) I found nothing.

I’m sure it exists. Schrödinger’s Novella mandates it must; but then again, Law of Cliché Themodynamics may overrule and state that no one has actually tried to counter the cis-het momentum in any meaningful way! thus it actually does not yet exist! Which, of course is in keeping with Schrödinger’s Novella because quantum cheats by maintaining strict neutrality.

Why, my dears, must we all suffer at the hands of [Insert culturally stereotypically masculine animal] were-bro of muscles, machismo, misogyny, and let’s collectively vomit 🤮 now wins the vaginal canal (surely he wouldn’t know a clitoris if it bit him on the pecker … oh! An Akira twist! I love it!) of the Lovely Lady With Humdrum Life (or sometimes a bit Kardashianesque Life) which the author conflates with her heart and they all live abusively ever after, amen 🙏?!

I say bollox to all that. Go forth, my lovely minions! I say: Subvert, pervert, and anything else ending in -vert all the Romance Genres! Flood them with lesbians, Enbys, aces, bisexuals, transsexuals, transvestites, drag queens, bears, and twinks, a veritable Pride Parade of queery awesomeness 🏳️‍🌈! Drape the cover models in rainbow flags! Have the Naga Queen with the mostly nude virgin in her clutches from behind have her hand upon yon maid’a crotch and breats the embrace rapturous rather than terrible!

Why? Because it’s getting boring around the genre. I used to boggle at the “plot” crap my wife would torment me with from this stuff and now I just shake my head and finish washing the dishes.

Let’s shake things up like the megaquakes that broke Pangea!

P.S. I proofread this twice. Any typos have earned the right to live via natural selection.

Mental health, medication, and creativity

So, apparently (read: according to my wife), it’s a Thing (read: trending a bit on Twitter) to claim that untreated mental illness is a font for creativity.

Holy wow.

Okay. To be fair, sometimes it very well may be. There are those whose art IS their mental illness, or more precisely their illness is the inspiration for their art. For these folks, I suppose, it’s reasonable to assume treating the illness may hamper their art. Would Stephen King write the horrors he does if he were medicated to cope with his nightmares? (Is that even possible?!) I mean, obviously, until he ran out of the memory of any not-yet-written nightmares … but after?

A frequent example is Van Gogh … no idea why. For one, in some respects he WAS medicated. Not well, but he was. And even modern meds … well … in some ways there’s no difference between using opium and using Xanax besides the side-effects. But never mind that he blows the argument that way, which can be counter argued that booze and getting high aren’t medicating, how about the fact he painted such beauty and life in spite of his “tortured soul”? I’m pretty sure his depression didn’t create his work, it just cut it off at the age of 30.

My wife, is less creative unmedicated. Without meds she can not write. She’s also arguably not a functional adult or even a strictly function hominid lifeform, but she can’t write for her anxiety issues.

Me? I can’t actually say. I mean if my oestrogen levels sink below some threshold it triggers depression (this is a woman thing … cis/trans doesn’t matter … men suffer similarly for low testosterone … fun fact for the day) so I suppose my HRT is medication for depression, but my depression is far more complex than that. I don’t medicate, though. Not really because I l’m afraid I couldn’t write without depression. If I’m depressed I avoid writing, after all … partly because it goes in dark directions and I’m not into goth fic so generally hate what I write, but also because I can’t seem to get the motivation and focus to. But when depression isn’t dragging me down I quite enjoy writing. So, arguably, meds would be a Good Idea. I just look at the side effects of anti-depressants and figure I’d rather cope because they would make me depressed.

I’m not going to take a side in the argument. There shouldn’t be sides, nor should there be an argument. Mostly, I think, the ‘illness is art’ are quite mad and part of a group I wrote about before who feel Art Must Be Torture! (Load of bollox).

Thing is, we’re all different. Maureen in Ready or Not has very firm opinions on not taking meds for her depression. Because for her they are more torture than benefit. She knows her little sister enough to advise her against them as well because it’s a likely point in commont betwixt the siblings to hate the sensation of being confined to a certain parameter of mood; it’s too suffocating. Now, trial and error with other medicines, other doses, may have been good but she couldn’t tolerate the way they left her feeling until that magical cocktail is discovered. She does actually use medical marijuana for insomnia and her depression it’s later revealed (uh … spoiler alert?)

The flip side of the coin are people “meds are why I’m alive now! Meds are miraculous and everyone should medicate!”

No. As is my wont I’ll stay right here in the realm of reality and rationality. Each human is unique. That uniqueness is important. Nothing works universally. Some people should definitely medicate, some definitely oughtn’t, still others can take it or leave it. Let’s chill and let it go.

My single point of firm belief is that some drugs are over prescribed. Many psychiatrists and psychologists do feel too many GPs will see someone seems stressed or down and give them a psych drug with no further evaluation, no actual attempt at therapy. Some GPs and psychologists alike are a little too happy to give Timmy and Suzy a Ritalin script … even when they don’t need it and thus a creative child becomes a zombie. But this is not a mental illness thing, this is a modern western (especially the for-profit American) medical profession thing and pathologicalising and medicating everything & sundry. So, ultimately, I suppose it comes back to moderation.

It’s amazing. Nothing is good in extremes. Change for the sake of change can be as terrible as holding onto tradition too strongly. Even rights have an interesting point of moderation: your rights and mine should not impede each other. Thus laws against theft, murder, wanton discrimination … these are sensible. Your right to religion shouldn’t impede my right to service BUT my right to service shouldn’t impede the rights of a church or church affiliated service (but that service shouldn’t get anyone’s tax dollars either, it’s only fair after all).

I ramble. If you haven’t caught on to this you’ve not been paying attention. But really, this is one of the internet’s more colossally asinine arguments. Let artists medicate or not. And if an artist may be in danger for their mental illness, let’s recommend they may want to seek help … conversely those suffering for their treatment should be encouraged to cease or reevaluate said therapies. It’s balance, baby.


P.s. I can’t concentrate to go back over this for proofreading, so hopefully my recent bouts of extreme dyslexia this week won’t have impacted this too badly.