On Chosen, Writing, and Doing What I Please

Kaine’s kickass mother Hema, pictured here instead of Kaine because she’s far easier to draw in doodle form. :P

Long-time visitors will recall that I’ve been working on an LGBTQ+ fantasy novel called Chosen for approximately the last 17,000 years. Its main character, Kaine Ikarra, is a fifteen-year-old transgender boy who is struggling with magic, identity, and the fact that most of the people around town want very much to kill him. It’s tough being fifteen, man.

As I’ve mentioned before, this story started out during my teen years as a cookie-cutter White Dudes Doing Cool Stuff In A Fantasy Setting book, but it’s since evolved into a series that features mostly LGBT people of color doing even cooler stuff in a fantasy setting. Since this is a fantasy world entirely of my imagining, I can do what I want with it, such as making the dominant religion a pantheon of gods and goddesses, many of whom are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, etc., and this thus makes LGBT folks entirely normal and unstigmatized in this world. Likewise, the inclusion of a female chief goddess (and various other awesome females in the pantheon) encourages more gender equality, which means that gender roles in this society are far more equal, and that gives me the opportunity to have kickass ladies all over the place and not have that be at all weird.

The latest I Can Do What I Want aspect of the story has involved my going through the book and subtly altering what everyone is eating so they subscribe to a more plant-based diet. It’s not something you see often in fantasy books, I’m willing to bet, but given my own commitment to avoiding meat and animal products, I figured…why not? WHY NOT HAVE THEM ALL BE VEGAN. MUWAHAHAHAHA I’m drunk with godly writing power.

So. Chosen now features a transgender, pansexual, vegan person-of-color as its main character, and I am quite pleased about that. :D

Conferences, food, and drowsy catnaps

I thought I was done waking up at 3:45 AM due to the time change, but alas, this morning marked another early wakeup and general refusal from my body and brain to return to sleep. As today was Parent/Teacher Conferences and my last day at work, I took advantage of the extra time to (a) write thank-you cards to parents,  (b) cook up some goodies to keep me alive and semi-coherent during conferences, and (c) stare into space for long periods of time while wondering what it must be like to sleep past 4 AM.

  

Donuts and coffee are always provided for conferences, so I brought along a chocolate mug cake so I could join in on the sugar intake and general glorious unhealthiness. I also brought  a non-dairy grilled “cheese” sandwich, which involved spreading my version of Cheap Lazy Vegan’s tofu cheese recipe over toast and pan-frying it, and that made for an excellent hobbity Second Breakfast.

Conferences went very well, incidentally – it seemed like a fitting way to end my tenure at this  school, getting to meet one-on-one with parents and rave about their kids (plus gently offering a few “things we’re working on” :P). Many of them took time out to say kind things about my contributions to their kids’ development, and overall, it was just a pleasant, positive, hopeful sort of day. (And let’s face it, chocolate cake tends to improve just about any experience.)

Upon returning home, burdened by a full-sized keyboard, giant backpack of stuff, and a gift bag packed with homemade cards and lovely little presents, I had some lunch and flopped onto the couch to drowse and watch HGTV. I spent much of the afternoon dozing with cats on either side of me, and I really can’t recommend that manner of spending an afternoon highly enough.

For dinner tonight, I tried my hand at a vegan mac and cheese, which I ate far too much of and which has led to a somewhat unhappy stomach and entirely unrepentant tastebuds.  (And it must’ve been good, because Darla is currently up on the stove licking up a little spill of “cheese” sauce from the countertop. Weird, weird cat.)

Anyway. It’s now nearly eight PM, and despite my drowsy afternoon, I’m more than ready for bed. With that in mind, I shall bid you adieu for now, and hopefully have more to report on – possibly in wacky video form – at a later time. :P

In which I am old and TAF gets a new release (probably, eventually)

Taking a brief vacation from the new vlogging obsession, I thought I’d compose a short post that actually pertains to writing – ho ho. I recently realized that my first novel, Talking About Fungus, passed its ten-year publication anniversary last year, and that is both impressive and deeply, deeply unsettling, for it further underscores the fact that I am old.

Old.

Old.

OLD.

So, yes, in sort-of honor of that milestone, I thought I would have another look at Fungus (I’ll take Weird-Sounding Sentences for 400, Alex), give it a little spiff-up, and then re-release it as Version 3. So, that is what I’m in the process of doing.

Unfortunately, Amazon Createspace, the platform I’d previously used to publish Fungus after its initial rights at Torquere Press reverted back to me, is now in the process of being swallowed up by the Amazon Kindle Store, and the Kindle Store – or KDP, as it jovially refers to itself – is giving me a great deal of grief in the republishing of said book. Rather than going into details about that (Cliff’s Notes Version: non-matching ISBNs, cover text, cover image, cover text again – DIDN’T I ALREADY FIX THE COVER TEXT??!!, etc.), I’ll just say that the whole situation is In Progress, and hopefully soon I’ll be able to link to the new and improved print version of Talking About Fungus.

The good news is that the Kindle version was far easier to create, and thus I can in fact share that:

Talking About Fungus, **NEW AND SPARKLY AND IMPROVED** Version

This updated version boasts a new and semi-attractive cover, which will end up being slightly different for the print version since…well, see above re: KDP giving me grief. :P

I fixed a few formatting errors from version 2, deleted some of Jamie’s monologuing (which, as a kind reviewer pointed out in his Amazon review, does tend to go on a bit), and just generally tidied things up.

Another sign of my advancing age, perhaps, is that I now look upon the sex scenes (which multiple reviewers have informed me are quite tame) with an excess of embarrassment, and in general I just feel as if this is 100% the book of a Young Person (TM), which I presumably am no longer. Regardless, it’s still a book I enjoy reading and which I think does some things quite well, so if you’re in the mood for a quick and youthful read, perhaps give it a go. (It’s only 0.99 cents, so hey, why not? WHY NOT INDEED.)

Evidence above re: why writers should not do their own marketing.

Anyway, more on the print edition when information becomes available, and/or when KDP decides to stop tormenting me and just publish the durned thing. And yes, I did just say “durned,” because…

In which there is a new cat, new digs, and general fawning over Jodie Whittaker

So…yeah. It’s been a while.

To all those impatiently tapping their feet, looking at their watches, and saying, “What kind of time do you call this, then?” I can only offer the excuse that I’ve been buried under piles of crazed and lovable children, struggling to complete my MFA, and spending the rest of the time sleeping.

The good news, however, is that I’ve actually managed to complete my MFA with a Hermione-worthy GPA (insert smugness and general academic fatigue here), and my tenure as a teacher of preschoolers is wrapping up in favor of shifting gears to writing, editing, teaching, and (hopefully) recovering somewhat from my eternal and unceasing state of exhaustion.

In any case, because so very much has happened since my last update sometime in the Mesozoic Era, I offer you updates now in the form of a handy list:
Continue reading

In which I return for a brief moment to share news of my continued survival

Greetings, friends and tumbleweeds. As it seems my last post was in the bygone days of September 2016 (a simpler time), I thought it might be a fine plan to make another post just to assert the fact that I am still among the living (just not among the living who have time for frequent blog updates).

So, yes. I LIVE!

gene wilder aliiiiiiive

Not much else can be said of the last year or so, except that I’ve been working hard imparting knowledge and sarcasm to the two-year-olds in my class, making my way bit by bit through an MFA program so I might one day aspire to my dream job of Cool College Professor With Old-Timey Blazer (or Roger Radcliffe-style vest), and fighting off various bouts of bronchitis and other ailments granted to me by my lovable but germy students.

kermit-typing

I’ve also, it must be said, been making incremental progress on my gay fantasy epic, Chosen, restructuring and rewriting and cramming as much glorious gay into the story as I possibly can. Lucas in Book Two, for example, now has two moms (both of the awesome variety), and his major love interest is a gangly, awkward guy from school instead of Random Pretty Girl #5. Lucas has always been bisexual in the land of subtext, but it’s nice to bring it firmly into the realm of the textual via a dorky/awkward school romance that simultaneously enriches his life and puts it in horrible danger. (That’s the way we do things in Chosen-land.)

And, of course, the main character in Book One is trans, which has been fascinating to explore from the perspective of a society where (a) being LGBTQ+ is no big deal due to the existence of queer gods and goddesses in their primary religion, and (b) magic exists, so it’s technically possible (though highly difficult/expensive) to alter one’s body to better align with gender identity.

So, yes. Life at present consists of work, school, and sporadic bursts of writing, hopefully culminating in eventual financial security + a finished and not-awful manuscript. And until then, I’ll try to check in here from time to time, hopefully with something interesting to say (though no guarantees on that front).

Until next time~~~~~!

tina-fey_YAY

Regarding Pima County and where I’ve been all this time (hint: not in Pima County)

So, I’ve just discovered that my second book, Following Grandpa Jess, is available to borrow from the Pima County Public Library in Pima County, Arizona:

pima-county-fgj

Pima County Library: Following Grandpa Jess

It’s not available in Chicago, sadly, or anywhere else that I’m aware of, but Pima County residents, enjoy!

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In other news, regarding my lengthy and unexplained absence from the interwebs, I’m afraid I’ve been somewhat distracted as of late due to (a) getting a new job, and (b) finally beginning to completely bankrupt myself pursue my MFA in Creative Writing. The good news is that both endeavors are going well (though the compensation received for one in no way makes up for the bottomless pit of debt the other is going to plunge me into), but the bad news is that I’m sadly left with very little time or brain for the composing of blog posts, hence my silence in recent months.

I’ll do my best to pop in from time to time and offer up rambling and borderline incoherent gif-filled posts, so you can at the very least look forward to that. I’ve also been doing a lot of work on Chosen as of late, and I remain confident that it may be ready for publication at some point between today and the end of time, space, life, the universe, and everything. So. More things to look forward to.

cm_jeff_clap-yay

Right. So. On that note, I must return to my teacherly duties. Wishing you all a pleasant first day of September, and I hope our paths will cross again~*~*~*~*~