Creating this five-minute video somehow took all freaking morning (and beyond), but I’m fairly satisfied with the result, so I suppose all is well. :P In any case! A look at my ongoing LGBTQ+ fantasy series, Chosen, and the general state of queer and powerful ladies in media, accompanied by a great many gifs because a video of just my voice + a black screen would probably be less than scintillating.
I’m currently celebrating my second day off of the year (which does in fact sound bad now that I type it out :P), so I actually have both the time and brain-power to write up a blog post. I shall offer you a moment to rejoice.
In any case, I wanted to share some awesome queer-related content I’ve run across over the past…however long it’s been since my last post. (Self to Self: You know you could just open up a new tab, open your blog, and see when the last post was, right? Self to Self: Ain’t nobody got time for that.)
I just discovered this excellent individual yesterday, and I’ve been zipping through her videos and very much enjoying them. She has a ton of interesting, thought-provoking content regarding queer representation (and the lack of it) in media, and there’s also a piece on homophobia in schools that is informative, uplifting, and of course also absolutely infuriating. It’s pretty incredible that we’re able, these days, to surround ourselves with like-minded people and become somewhat insulated to the ravages of homophobia, but videos like this remind me both how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go. In any case, Rowan Ellis is insightful and well-spoken, and her videos are definitely worth a watch.
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power
Much like Steven Universe, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is a show meant for kids that features a queer showrunner doing her absolute best to include as much representation as possible within the narrow realm of what kids shows are allowed to do. While I would love to see shows like this being more overt, She-Ra is probably one of the least subtle about its queerness of any show aimed at children that I’ve ever seen. It’s both a show about female power and a show that rejects any notion of traditional gender roles. While there are some suggestions of possible heterosexual relationships in it, nothing is overt on that side, either – the entire universe has a pansexual feel to it, existing outside the binary, and I really like that. Plus, the characters are awesome, the writing is fun and engaging, and it’s just a really freaking good show all around. Highly recommended.
This Is How It Always Is, by Laurie Frankel
I happened upon this book when I was at Target yesterday, and while the generic, YA-sounding title initially put me off, when I turned it over and read the back, I was pretty much hooked. It tells the story of a quirky, rather awesome family whose youngest child is transgender, and it follows them on their journey to try to both support and protect her. It takes the subject matter seriously but also finds joy and humor in it, and the characterizations, plot turns, and story crafting are all top notch. My only not-even-really-a-criticism is that the author takes a bit too much pleasure in inserting “BUT LITTLE DID THEY KNOW~*~*~” lines at the end of many of the chapters, and while this is effective to a certain extent, I do think it’s a bit overused throughout the story. But that’s the most minor of nitpicks, and as far as literary sins go, it isn’t even on the list. This is an excellent book, and it also has the distinction of being one that I finished, closed, stared at for a few seconds, and then flipped back to the beginning to start reading over again. Good, good stuff.
I’ve been a 99 fan for years (Noin Noin!), but the show has recently done me (and many others) the glorious service of revealing that fan-favorite Rosa Diaz is bisexual. I’ve always felt drawn to Rosa for her ability to exist in both stereotypical “masculine” and “feminine” spheres (plus, she’s just freaking hilarious), but this latest addition to her characters is great, particularly since they actually give her a coming out narrative, female romantic interests, and – at long last – a girlfriend we get to see and meet. And it’s Cameron Freaking Esposito! ‘Nuff said.
I also recently watched Netflix’s Voltron series (all eight seasons straight through, because I am insane and obsessive), and that show is an example of a very good series that nonetheless got the idea of LGBTQ+ representation somewhat wrong. They do a good job of having a lot of gender-nonconforming individuals, strong women, and hints of LGBTQ relationships throughout, but what they thought to be their crowning queer achievement, the revelation that Shiro is gay, was a bit of a flop.
On the one hand, I like that his gayness is something that just exists and doesn’t have to be a big deal, but on the other hand…it’s a big deal, and it would be nice if we got more than, “This scene implies he has a boyfriend. Now the boyfriend is gone. Also, he got married to a man after the show ended, KISSSSSS.” Is it nice to have a legit gay kiss concluding this series? Yes. But we don’t know this person Shiro is marrying, there was no lead-up to it at all, and the lack of romance or even meeting this character before makes it feel very tacked on, as if the showrunners are saying, “Look, see? GAY PEOPLE. Behold, we give you representation.”
I’m one of the fans who felt cheated by the ending of The Legend of Korra, because while I love the fact that the showrunners are implying a romantic relationship between two female characters, it’s one of those cases where there’s just Nothing for the entire series and then BAM, look, There Is Gay! No lead-up, then surprise gayness. Voltron’s handling of Shiro had the same sort of feel to it, though they at least took it a step further and spelled it out. Korra and Asami hold hands, look at each other in a way that could possibly be construed as romantic, and step off together into the future, but Shiro and his nameless man-love at least are shown getting married, are outright stated to be in love, and are given a kiss that the “camera” lingers on and which ultimately closes out the series.
There was definitely effort there, but it was ultimately lacking, I suppose is the point I’m going for.
Anyway, this got way longer and ramblier than I was anticipating. :P The point: There are many exciting queer-related developments in media, and I’m anxious to see what comes next. <3
Greetings and salutations, internet!
I opened this tab with the fervent intention of writing a brilliant blog entry that would live forever as an example of my scintillating wit and talent, but my body has reminded me that I’ve been up since 2 AM and attempting to create anything “brilliant” is just not likely to happen.
So! Here is a decidedly un-brilliant blog entry, for your possible (?) enjoyment.
Greetings, friends. Today I found myself faced with a truly monumental decision: Should I watch The Jeffersons marathon or the Supermarket Sweep marathon?
Sometimes life is hard.
In other news, I’ve been doing some work on Chosen (also knows as the LGBTQ fantasy epic I’ve been chipping away at since approximately the age of the dinosaurs), attempting to inject some more action and awesomeness into the book. It’s going pretty well so far, and I’ve also done another experimental gender-switch and transformed the main love interest, Nicholas, into a female character who is primarily attracted to women. This wasn’t something I planned, but it makes her romance with Kaine (biologically female but male by every other definition) all the more interesting and complex, and also ups the number of main female characters.
Today, I discuss such riveting topics as my failures at time management in online ESL lessons, what I ate for Thanksgiving, queer representation (or lack thereof) on “The Good Place,” and Darla’s new gnawing target, the Christmas tree. Also, I talk about grocery shopping, because I work from home now and grocery shopping is apparently a major highlight of any day.
Bonus (?): Photos of my Vegan Thanksgiving Dinner~~
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
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 cook stuff, Darla tries to burn down the house, and I get a new cookbook (and a shiny new proof copy of Talking About Fungus). Such good! Many excitement!1!
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.
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:
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…