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.

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ZOMG! She lives!?

Yeah, that’s becoming a rather popular post topic for me lately.

Sorry about that.  This has just been a year of hell for me.  Some ups, certainly.  Moving to Massachusetts has been pretty cool if not without its sour notes.  I’ve become addicted to Doctor Who which is bloody fantastic, but Netflix (henceforth referred to as ‘the meanie bad people’ for short) haven’t got series 9 yet, so I don’t get to find out what’s been going on.

I’ve been managing to write.  Not as much or as often as I’d like.  Some of it has been a lack of time.  Since 12 November I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of days and hours dealing with my jobs, but that’s starting to mellow out.  The time I have had that could be spent writing has been spent in the sorts of things one must do in order that stress does not eat her brain … and sufficient stress of the wrong sort is bad for people with chronic depression (and I are one such person), and if you’ve ever tried to write when having attacks of depression you know it tends to make the stories go in dark and unhappy directions.  Dark and unhappy can be fine, here and there, but we’re talking the kind of dark and unhappy that gets you the “the dog dies” award (sorry, forgot its name, lots of kids books I never liked at all have it – to the point I treat it the same as a skull and crossbones on a bottle in the cupboard).

So far, as of the same sorts of dates that 2015 had started looking down (early December 2014, no lie), 2016 is starting to look really up.  So, that said, I’m still keeping my fingers crossed for a summer 2016 release of the, still, unnamed Book 3.  I’ve gotten more than a page into the first Færie Patrol which is turning out interesting and teaching me fun things about the world and characters.  Can’t recall if I ever got any further in the story about that transgender girl I started one day on a whim (no link because I’m buggered if I recall where I mentioned that).

I’m going to try to be a little more active here soon.  Some of it is going to bend my guidelines RE talking politics (read:  I’m going to bloody well talk about a few things, and I may as well warn I use words I learnt from my wife when Donald Trump and the GOP get brought up these days), primarily US politics. I might not, though.  I also may talk about some of the quirkier trans* issues.  I shan’t be discussing the new Star Wars film because I don’t know when I’ll get a chance to see it due to being, currently, unable to afford a ticket (while I’m not saying this in hopes people will donate a ticket, this is the internet and I’ve seen it happen too many times to not point to the contact link above for anyone who takes this notion into their head.  This said because I may as well – if I explicitly said “please do not …” people would anyway, so screw trying).

As per usual, Happy Holidays.  I’m in a sufficiently high Jewish populated area to know that Hanukkah is over or nearly so, so happy belated that.  Merry Christmas coming up for those folks.  Solstice/Jül/etc is coming up later this week for my Pagan loves, so enjoy – no over indulging in the holy water for you ADF folks.  Turns out there’re almost as many Muslim holidays in December as there are days in the year (just kidding, but there are a lot) and I can’t spell any but Ramadan, but as especially fond happy/merry/blessed series of celebrations for you folks; sorry for all the crap people are giving you, please know some of us do wish you well and would love to punch certain people in the mouth on your behalf.

Back on track soon

Now & Forever‘s third book should be back in front of me to get back to work on by the end of April.  I’m still wanting to try to write a Færie Patrol short story for Queers Destroy Fantasy otherwise it’d be by the end of this week.

Things are looking up.  Including the possibility of living in a less hellish state before the end of summer.  If that happens my writing may pick up since I won’t have to drive for 30-45min to get to somewhere conducive to thought.

In any case I’m going to rough guess Book 3 for a Christmas 2015 release at the earliest, with an Easter 2016 release more likely, and June 2016 as an outside figure.

We’ll see what happens.

No horror

Well, I was, and in a manner of speaking still am, working on a vampire horror for Queers Destroy Horror but I ended up working on something else that’s proving far more fun and interesting, so I won’t have the horror finished before the submission deadline.

It’s not abandoned, I’ll finish it sooner or later and then I’ll decide what to do with it, but it won’t be going to QDH.

I still fully intend to get a Færie Patrol short worked out for Queers Destroy Fantasy, so there’s still that to look forward to.

Queers Destroy Horror/Fantasy!

So there’s nothing with my name on it for Queers Destroy Science Fiction.  C’est la vie.  I didn’t submit anything with my name on it, so that’s to be expected.

I’m actually trying to get a couple things together for Horror and Fantasy, though.  I’m writing some kind of thing involving some college students on spring break meeting vampires; I’ve a feeling that’ll be gory if I don’t get stuck and not manage to finish it on time.  The one for Fantasy is going to be a Færie Patrol short adventure.

If they get rejected I don’t know what I’ll do wit them.  Almost certainly post them somewhere here on the site, or maybe I’ll publish them as free stories on my retail channels.  Or both.  Similar for if I don’t finish them before the submissions deadlines, assuming I finish them at all.

Still next month or so should be pretty interesting.

Vulgarity, sex, and other offensive things

As always, my opinion regarding asking “should I …” when writing your story should always be answered with “yes, absolutely, if you want to”.  But as always there can be room to discuss the impact, and nuances of that answer.

Graphics violence, explicit sex, vulgar language, lewd behaviour … should these be in our fiction?

The answer to that isn’t so clear cut, honestly.  Then again, perhaps it is.  Tough decision.  On one hand, they’re a part of our reality, so of course they should be there for realism — and even fantasy shouldn’t shy away from them unless it’s trying to paint a rosier setting.  On the other … how detailed a picture do we wish to paint for the youths?

Frankly, in most regards, I see it like this:  language should be accurate.  If swearing isn’t common in your fantasy world, then don’t use any.  If you’re writing teenagers in modern America, then odds are some or many of them will swear (probably, rather a lot).  We were all teenagers once, or possibly still are, and we probably hear teenagers talking to one another at the mall — profanity is a way of life.  The key is to learn the forbidden words of the day.  30 or more years ago the scary word that you just didn’t use if you could help it, in conversation, in dialogue, anywhere, was fuck.  Now?  Fucking fucked the fucker; that’s a sentence someone might say in a crowded street at the top of their lungs.  You’ll shock few with it.  Nigger, however … that will get people’s attention in a hurry.  That’s not to say it shouldn’t be used in the interest of accurate dialogue, but you should — for the sake of social acceptability of your work — weigh your options on using it at all, and be sure your dialogue uses it accurately or you’ll simply piss a lot of people off either for using it, or using it wrong, or … simply put, it’s the new fuck.

Also, what age are you writing for?  If for children, that’s a tough one.  I mean, as I understand it, in French any age says zut, merde, pute, et al because there is no dang/darn, shoot, and fudge.  It makes me wonder if, just probably, you find those words in French childrens’ books, therefore (I can’t read French, and don’t much enjoy the language, so I’m speculating from what I know of it from people who do).  In English, however, we tend to frown upon using profanity in front of children, so it’s probably seen as best to keep such language out of your childrens’ books.  Just remember, legal age of majority is not the same as adulthood versus childhood.  Many people are not so much children any longer in their language, experience, attitudes, etc. once they’re somewhere between 10 and 14, certainly by the time they’re 15.  Still, it’s your story, if you want little Brother Bear saying “Fuck this shit” to Momma Bear in your kids’ story, it’s your kids’ story, just don’t be surprised when every protect the children organisation in the country is calling for your head on a spike.  Personally, I prefer to be true to the characters.  Some people swear like the only vocabulary they have is entirely vulgarities, others blush if they say ‘heck’.  As such there are swear words in my stories, but it’s dialogue and by people who speak that way, it’s not meant for impact (well, at one point, but that’s after you’ve got to know Lauren well enough to realise that, while nothing too shocking about ‘fuck’ or its presence in the story, its presence in her mouth is shocking), it’s just meant to characterise.

Violence.  Fun one that.  Certainly let’s leave that out of the little kids’ works.  I mean, come one, do you really want to give little Timmy nightmares?  Then again … ever read the old fairy tales as the brothers Grimm published them?  How about the older versions they worked from?  Maybe, if we don’t shelter little Suzy, she won’t be so bothered by a bit of visceral depiction and graphic violence.  After that … stand outside a cinema for 20 minutes some Friday night.  Believe me, by the time Jimmy is 10, Jimmy will watch Terminator and laugh at the cheesy special effects (ah, the expectations of the advanced CGI generation), you won’t shock him with some blood and gore.  After that it’s just a question of how disgustingly visceral you should be.  Do we give a highly detailed and graphic account of someone committing hari kari?  Do we do it in first person POV?  Mmmm … plenty of full grown adults, even a few who’ve been in war, might be squeamish to read that.  Doesn’t mean don’t do it, just remember — a reader who throws up, is a reader who may not read your next book — so you might ask yourself, do I need to be so graphic?  I base it entirely on tone of the story.  Now & Forever will never go into graphic detail of any violence that might be occurring; Færie Patrolon the other hand, might a bit — though we won’t be seeing anything as graphic as Kill Bill.  

Sex.  Funny thing, sex … what’s so wrong with it?  Sex is great, it makes kids, it doesn’t hurt anyone (certain very frightening fetishes aside — RP is one thing, doing that stuff for real!?  ~shudder~).  Still, it’s dirty, and something you should shield the children from.  Again, if you want to keep the PTA off your back, then leave it out of your Amelia Bedelia inspired fiction.  Stuff for the middle school/junior high crowd?  High school?  Frankly — if they’ve hit puberty, then odds are pretty good they know what sex is.  Unless I went to a very unusual school … they’ve got a fair notion by the time they’re a year or two away, I believe I was starting to get the clue around 3rd grade, myself.  So now the question is, fade to black or get explicit?  Explicit will almost certainly get people on your back if you write for a crowd under 25, but depending on details you probably won’t get much flak if you keep the target 16+.  So, again, is the exact detail of exactly who put what where and in what order so vital as to risk alienating readers?  It might be.  Certainly I could see a very clear argument for explicit sex scenes in a teen fiction work, I really can.  Point of note, even for the more puritanical crowd:  even the ones who graduate high school as virgins, because of those little “not until married pledges” … not personally, but some people I know quite well … they tend to be very technical on the whole virginity thing; put bluntly, an amazing number of ‘virgins’ are quite versed in oral and anal activities.  By being explicit you’re not providing these ‘kids’ with anything they haven’t already seen, done, or fantasised about unless you’re digging into the twisted depths of fetishist sites, then you might be providing a colourful piece of education.  Personally, I fade to black.  I always feel silly getting specific; but if it doesn’t violate the tone of the story then go for it, but if it would … well … for example, the sex scene in Ready or Not (uhm, spoiler alert?) is not so much fade to black as fade to the emotions rather than the bodies because the mechanical aspects of the event would have been discordant with the tone of the moment.

As always, you’ll write very little that’s safe enough not to offend someone.  I mean, have you ever mentioned that Jesus drank wine to a Temperance League member?  As with violating the rules of physics or the laws of grammar, do it with eyes wide open.  Remember, while in the end you’re writing for yourself, if you plan to publish then you are also writing for the public.  The public might be 7billion souls upon this globe alone, so there’ll always be someone who agrees with you, you ought to ask yourself “how many people are going to like reading about a toddler prostitute assassin” then ask “how many parents are likely to buy this storybook about said toddler for their sweet little toddler’s bedtime storybook” … no one says you can’t write and draw it and put it out there, just please don’t be surprised when you raise eyebrows and when your sales are low.

Taboos, those glorious taboos.  Society has expectations.  It’s our jobs to question, probe, exploit, reinforce, shatter, violate, uphold, and ignore those expectations, those mores, those taboos … but if you do it with eyes open you do it in a meaningful way.  When you are aware that most parents won’t like a storybook for little Timmy to be about a toddler assassin prostitute, then you will approach the narrative, the themes, the plot, etc. rather differently, one would assume, than if you take it for granted that no parent would ever take issue with a storybook about an assassin prostitute aged three.

The long silence

I’ve not had a lot to say, actually.

Nothing really new in the universe of writing, no new thoughts.  I’ve got ideas for Book 3, but I still haven’t managed to get it kicked off and may not be able to do so until I have the end of Ready or Not more solidified.

I could be working on Færie Patrol, I guess, but I’m feeling a bit uninspired in that department.  Mostly, I’ve been taking a break to read, watch movies, and refuel my inspirations.  

November is coming up.  National Novel Writing Month.  I will not be participating, nor any other WriMo events from now on.  While I do feel it might have helped force me to break my writer’s block with Ready or Not, I don’t believe that the quality of the writing it resulted in was up to my personal standards.  True, it wasn’t as bad as I imagined, but I really had to make more substantial edits to it than I do to things that I let come more naturally instead of forcing.  

As the holidays approach expect fewer posts as I will probably be rather busy between writing (the cooler weather tends to inspire me better), family, etc.  Though I will probably have some holiday sales and give aways of Love or Lust so watch out for those.  

Writer’s block of the ugliest sort

I’ve been a bit stuck in Ready or Not for awhile. Far longer than I even realised (I hate file date stamping; it’s depressing sometimes. Last time I edited the file for the book was near the beginning of September!).

Writer’s block is never fun, but it has different forms and I’ve got the one I hate the most. See, there’s the writer’s block where you’ve no idea what happens next, that’s the normal sort. The next sort is arguably not writer’s block, but I think of it as being so, and that’s where you have a brilliant idea in your mind but can’t get it to come out of your head and play nice with the written word; I’ll admit this one is pretty bad and can lead to tears and madness, but it’s still (for me) not as bad as the third and final sort. The sort to which I refer is when you know exactly what comes next, yessiree bob you do. You know lots of happening nexts. The problem is you’ve got to get the story there! Yeah, I’m stuck like that. I’m at the start of chapter nine. I need to get from the end of chapter 8 to the bits and pieces in my head. Either all of chapter 9 or its opening paragraphs need to fulfill this job. I can’t seem to manage.

In my own defense I’ve been a bit overworked at work – something that has been mercifully alleviated as of this week (and remember, buy lots of copies of my books when they’re out, and encourage your friends, family, acquaintances, enemies, and random people on the street to do the same and I could quit this silly job thing and write full time … just a thought). I’ve been ill, both actual illness and just a kind of recurring migraine I always get this time of year thanks to the horribly awful and hellish place I live (I am not a native of this place and my fondest wish is to one day be far removed from it and ne’er return again). It has all combined to leave me a bit too spaced and blah to write much of anything.

Still, things are improving so I hope to be back to work on book 2 shortly. As for Love or Lust it’s coming along well. My editor is happily devouring it and will be handing me back a copy that looks quite thoroughly bled upon in short order, at which point it should quickly find itself available for sale.

Færie Patrol still only exists as a couple of pages and a handful of concept.

Progress! In the wrong story :(

Wrote two whole pages recently! More than I’ve done in … probably more than a week.

Huzzah! Go me? If it were Ready or Not I’d consider treating myself to a spot of champaign or similar. A lovely Irish coffee, maybe.

It was Færie Patrol. You know, the story I was going to write after I finish Now & Forever?

I must say, it came out well, but that’s hardly the point. I know my mind. If I let it this story will take over and Ready or Not will be stuck as it is until I finish or hit a long enough dry spell. It has happened before. Now & Forever actually did that to some other ideas I’d been working on.

Well, it can’t interrupt Love or Lust; those of you looking forward to that can breathe easier. With luck that will keep Færie Patrol from eating my brain.

Prolificness transpires

So, I’ve been trying to decide on a series for when Now & Forever is over (it’s to be four books, by the way).

I knew I wanted to do a teen, high school super heroes thing. Hadn’t been able to work it out beyond that, though. Tonight the inspiration fairy paid me a visit and gave me a lovely idea in exchange for just a little more of my sanity (standard market rates, of course, she does have sales goals to meet after all).

I introduce you, therefore, to Færie Patrol, a working title for the series. It might stick around, I’m not sure. It has something of a ring to it, and conveys the fact that this series is anything but serious.

All I know for certain is the cast list, and some quirks to reality, and the gist of what they do.

There’s a page up there under Series for it.

To sum up what you’ll find there is a vampress dhampir stuck forever at a little over fifteen for the past three hundred years, and will be so for the rest of her unlife – not that she much minds. Then there’s the half-nymph who’d rather have a normal life, except for the whole easy access to fairy thing, since that’s where the best parties tend to be. A chivalrous ghost who hasn’t entirely caught up with the sixteenth century (and this is set in the twenty-first century). A mentalist teen male gayer than a tree full of monkeys on nitrous oxide (thank you Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett for that turn of phrase). The sex crazed, wine guzzling, swashbuckling sprite. And the Romani witch (or Æthyrial Engineer according to the business cards she got made up recently).

This is meant to be a completely irreverent romp through fighting monsters, finding romance, and remembering to do math homework. Legends and myths will be used, abused, twisted, and played with, but mostly used as is (fairytales are mostly fun enough as they are). Magic will abound. Irreverence to many things, and a three inch tall horny drunken sot with a penchant for the silver screen.

I can’t wait to see what happens, I hope you’ll think so too; though, admittedly, I do rather hope you can wait. I’ve kind of got enough in front of me and haven’t done more than jot down thoughts and character snapshots.