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

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

On summer, Andy Griffith, and my emphatic availability

arthur-fingerdrummingGreetings, friends. As I have by now run out of ways to describe how very long it’s been since I last updated, I’ll just say that seasons have passed, babies have been born, aged, and turned into cranky old wrinkled people, and still this blog has been left to gather dust in its sad little corner of the interwebs. But never fear, for I am here now to update you on all the many, many fascinating things that have occurred since my last post.

Fascinating Things That Have Occurred Since My Last Post:

  1. I started watching The Andy Griffith Show on Netflix, then almost immediately stopped watching it as the sheer amount of quaint ole southern charm threatened to drown me in a syrupy, Yankee-eating river. Boredom led me back to Mayberry shortly thereafter, however, and I ended up watching five seasons in about as many days. No regrets, though I now find myself with the strangest urge to sit out on the porch I don’t have and sip sweet tea while strumming a gee-tar and sangin’.
  2. Work on Book I of Chosen (AKA, my frequently mentioned and inexplicably still unfinished gay fantasy epic) has been coming along decently well. I had a particularly impressive spurt of writing a little while back and was finally able to finish up a section I’ve been struggling with for months, which was nice. Of course, I’m now struggling with the next section, but at least the story’s moved forward a bit. I’ve also added another LGBTQ character of color, and my quest to diversify and gay-ify the Chosen world is progressing most satisfactorily. I hope to actually finish the bloody thing at some point in the nearish future, though it would probably be easier to do that if I’d stop binge-watching Andy Griffith and get down to work.
  3. Summer has come~~~~! And with it, unfortunately, has come the realization that my little shoebox apartment heats up to approximately 9,000 degrees when the sun hits it in the morning. Benny’s taken to napping in the bathtub to keep cool, and I myself have been doing a lot of lying on the floor with the fan trained on me and my pant legs rolled up high enough to scandalize all of Mayberry.

I’ve also, as it happens, resigned from my job and returned to the glamorous life of a poverty-stricken ESL Teacher and freelance editor. Nine months of a 4:30 AM wake-up time and four hour daily commute turned out to be too much for my fragile human frame, and I decided to choose life and health over the allure of sitting at a desk all day earning just barely enough to scrape by.  It’s been exactly one week since my last day at my previous job, and I’m pleased to say that I no longer feel like death warmed over, and I’ve actually even experienced some positive emotions here and there instead of being in a constant state of exhaustion and misery.

Of course, I’m also shopping at The Dollar Store and washing clothes in the bathtub instead of going to the laundromat, but that seems a small price to pay for feeling vaguely human again. And allow me to mention, also, that if anyone needs any editing or proofreading work done, I am extremely available.

Extremely.

adventuretime_finn_determined-run

Here I come, ready to edit the crap out of anything you might have.

Anyway, my brain’s turned to early evening mush, so I think I’ll get back to the business of lying on the floor and watching the people of Mayberry chuckle good-naturedly as Barney Fife miraculously neglects to murder anyone in his immediate vicinity.

Laterz~<3