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

Books, books, books!

Because I apparently don’t have enough to do with all my other projects, I also recently started work on a vegan cookbook, this one designed to highlight (a) how very bad I am at vegan cooking and (b) how you can potentially avoid my mistakes. The idea hit me while I was in the shower, as many (sometimes questionable) ideas do, and I’ve been having a stupid amount of fun with it ever since. Thus far, the cookbook includes Sad and Soggy Sushi, Breaded Cauliflower of Awesomeness, and even a small cat interlude wherein Benny and Darla disclose their culinary favorites (Benny: cat food; Darla: shredded paper).

In other book-related news, the Amazon Kindle Store has finally decided to stop waging war against my ambitions, because the print version of Talking About Fungus has been approved and is up for sale! Hurrah~!

Now, if you’re going to read one of my novels, I highly recommend the second, Following Grandpa Jess, for its greater maturity, less embarrassing sex scenes, and just general better writing, but TAF definitely still holds a fond place in my heart. It’s a good young person’s book, in any case, which I am just not anymore, so…yeah. Keep that in mind, I suppose. :P

Click here to check it out on Amazon.

As a reminder, you can still buy the ebook of Talking About Fungus here for $0.99.

Annnnd now I’d better go get ready for work before I lose the opportunity to shower. Until next time, friends~~~!

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

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:

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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.

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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~*~*~*~*~

 

In which closeted Teen!Me finds Dragonlance

Rereading Margaret Weis’ The Soulforge for the first time since my impressionable teenage days. I first happened upon the Dragonlance series when my high school boyfriend (who had the severe misfortune of dating someone who had not yet realized her general lack of interest in the male species) innocently lent me Dragons of Autumn Twilight one day. I’m sure he regretted it immediately afterwards, as our interactions from that point forward involved me begging for the next book in the series with the fevered intensity of an addict, and then ignoring him completely until I was ready for the next one.

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I owe a lot to Dragonlance, really. Not only did it help me get through the angstiest of my angsty teen years, but it inspired me to start work on my own fantasy novel, starring a character who was initially and most creatively named “Raisius” and bore no uncertain resemblance to a certain bitter mage from the world of Krynn. Raisius later transformed into Kaine Ikarra of Chosen, and over the years grew into a character all his own, who – while retaining a certain amount of sarcasm and bitterness – is now about as far from Raistlin Majere as it’s possible to be. But without Dragonlance and The Soulforge, Kaine would never have had his start, and I might not have spent the last 65,000,000 years working on a story that is even now causing me daily struggles and occasional bursts of pride and satisfaction.

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And I owe it all to my teen self’s mistaken belief in her own heterosexuality. Thanks, oblivious Teen!Me. You had a knack for doing exactly the wrong thing in almost every situation, but in this one case, you dun good. <3

Regarding The Soulforge, I will say that I’m very much enjoying reading it again, though it’s probably not the shining example of human literary achievement I once considered it to be. Raistlin, too, is a right unpleasant bastard much of the time, and it’s hard to remember why I idolized him so desperately as a teen. (Though I suspect it was because I secretly wished I could be more of a bastard myself. Plus, you know, magic.)

Anyway. Lots to do today, and as it’s actually cool enough outside that my sandals won’t melt the moment they touch the sidewalk, I’m looking forward to venturing into the world for a walk and a visit to the library. Exciting times, exciting times. Wishing you all a pleasant Sunday~~<3