Cover Reveal for Of Echoes Born

I don’t think I’m going to shock anyone here by admitting that short fiction is my first (and still strongest) writing love. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy reading and writing novels and novellas. I’m not going to stop, either (though I’ll admit part of that is knowing that I couldn’t make a writing career out of only writing queer short fiction).

Why do I bring this up, though?

Feast your freaking eyes on this:

OF ECHOES BORN - 4.jpg

This. Is. Perfect.

So, Of Echoes Born will be my very first short fiction collection. I have a due date for the stories, but I don’t have a release date yet. I do, however, have this cover, and I don’t think I can properly explain how perfect this cover is.

The guy on the cover is my character Ian Simon. If you’re not sure who that is, that’s not a surprise. He’s got a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo in my very first published short story, “Heart,” from Fool for Love. He is one of my first characters. I’ve been working on his stories since I began writing. I can’t wait to introduce him to you all.

And his eyes, his face, his goatee, the way the world around him is shattering..?

Perfect.

This cover’s magic is at the hands of Inkspiral Book & Cover Design.

Freedom, Chosen Families, and Queer Strength

triad-soulI’m over at the Bold Strokes Books author blog today, chatting about Triad Soul and the main themes of the Triad books. Where Triad Blood was much about tradition (and how tradition can be turned into a weapon of exclusion), Triad Soul is explores another piece of queerness: the chosen family.

Head on over and check it out here.

Also, Bold Strokes Books does a thing every month where they list off all the individual titles releasing on Facebook, and if you share/like any of those release notes, you get entered for a free e-book of your choice. Go here to check that out, and maybe like/share a title (or eleven). Free is always a great price!

 

Triad Soul is Officially Released (Everywhere)!

It’s officially June 20th, 2017, and that means my third novel, Triad Soul, is now available through any of your retailers of choice. Brick and mortar, e-tailer, or direct from the publisher, you can join Curtis the wizard, Luc the vampire, and Anders the demon try to stay brave in the face of a killer, a mystery, and Valentine’s Day.

Okay, maybe “brave” is too strong a word for how they feel about Valentine’s Day.

triad-soul

The law of three is everything: three vampires for a coterie, three demons for a pack, and three wizards for a coven. Those alone or in pairs are vulnerable to the rest. Luc, Anders, and Curtis—vampire, demon, and wizard—sidestepped tradition by binding themselves together.

When something starts brutally killing demons in Ottawa, the three find themselves once again moving among the powers who rule the city from the shadows—this time working with them to try to stop the killings before chaos and blood rule the streets.

Hunting a killer who seems to leave no trace behind, the triad are forced to work with allies they don’t dare trust, powers they barely understand, and for the good of those they already know to be corrupt.

They have the power of blood, soul, and magic. But they have to survive to keep it.

As always, a huge thank-you to anyone who pre-ordered or took advantage of the early release date from Bold Strokes Books (where, all month, by the way, you can get 15% off the June release titles in-print, including Triad Soul. Just click, or look here for all the titles this deal includes.) If you haven’t yet signed up for the Bold Strokes Books newsletter? It’s a great way to find out of about the daily deals, flash sales, and new releases from the most awesome LGBTQ publisher that ever there was (there may be some bias on my part). You can sign up right on the front page of the website.

Also, check out the nifty (updated) trailer from Inkspiral!

Early reviews have been really good, and I’m super-chuffed people are enjoying the guys. And yes, to answer the question I’ve been getting the most: Once I’ve got my next project completed, the book I’m pitching after that is absolutely Triad Magic.

Not Normal, Just Common

I’ve bumped into something a few times recently, so I thought it worth taking some time. And also, hey, it’s Pride Month, so what better time to remind folk about the difference between normal and common?

So, what is it I keep bumping into? Folk fighting the term “cisgender.” Or, as it’s often shortened, “cis.”

Now, before I start, I want to be clear that I’m speaking from a cisgender point of view, and I’m a cisgender male. I’m hopeful I’m not screwing up any of the basics here, and if I am, please let me know and I’ll amend.

But the sudden rapid increase in the whole reaction to “cis” among cisgender folk makes me think the discussion might be overdue.


Cis? Cisgender? What’s that?

For me, the prefix cis- was one I bumped into years ago back in the lovely world of organic chemistry. It meant that things had bonded on the same side (specifically isomers, I think, but chemistry was literally decades ago, so yeah… I remember “same side” and that’s about it). The prefix trans-, on the other hand, meant those things had bonded on an opposite side.

You probably see how this translated into discussions of gender.

Applying the latin prefixes to gender, we get cisgender and transgender. Now, if you’re on my blog, you likely get what transgender means (if not, as a quickie: transgender people have a gender identity or gender expression that differs from their assigned sex). But what does cisgender mean, then?

Well, cisgender people have a gender identity or gender expression that is the same as their assigned sex. Y’know, like me. At birth, the doctor said, “it’s a boy,” and nothing in my heart, soul, or thoughts thus far has come into conflict with that assignment. I’m queer, yes, but I’m a cisgender male, and that’s it.


Assigned what-now?

Yeah, okay. So that comes up, too. When I say the doctor assigned me male at birth? That’s on purpose. Because there’s a lot of crap transgender folk face on a regular basis, and one flavour of that crap is all about confusing bodies (and their various parts) with gender. “Assigned sex” takes that out of play. There’s an assumption there, on behalf of the folks who get to fill in birth information on official paperwork, but saying “assigned sex” reinforces that is indeed what’s happening: the official people have assigned a sex to the newly born individual.

Whether or not it’s correct? That remains to be seen.

(This may also be a good time to remind everyone that being trans and straight is a thing. Cisgender males can be gay; transgender males can be straight; both are still queer, for example.)


I don’t get why we need cisgender. I mean, isn’t not using transgender the same thing?

It’s not, though I can see where it might seem to be, at first glance. If discussions talk about, say, the male experience, and then make note of transgender male experience, there’s a kind of false dichotomy going on, and there’s also a problem of the weight of the word “male” vs. the weight of the word “transgender.”

Let me start with the false dichotomy thing.

Transgender males are male. Cisgender males are male. Both are male. But when someone speaks of “male” or “transgender male” the idea that transgender males are “qualified” males, or “kind-of” males, or “sort-of” males is reinforced, since the other group, “male” has no qualifying adjective.

In reality, those discussions have three facets: in discussing “male experiences,” one could be discussing something about the male experience (“As a man, buying clothes is generally cheaper for me”), something about the cisgender male experience (“I see myself represented as the hero all the time in movies”), or something about the transgender male experience (“Finding a trans-positive doctor was important to me.”) All those experiences are male. None of them is more male than any other. But some are cisgender male (but not transgender male) experiences, some are transgender male (but not cisgender male) experiences, and some are both.

If you divide discussion between “male” and “transgender male,” that false dichotomy of “there’s male, and then there’s transgender male” is unintentionally made.


Common, Not Normal.

The prefixes, cis and trans, also serve to do the same thing prefixes like hetero, bi, pan, a, demi, and homo do with sexual. I imagine if you’re on my blog, you’re probably not going to be too surprised when I say that heterosexuality isn’t normal, it’s common. The vast majority of people would probably describe themselves as heterosexual. That’s cool beans. No harm, no foul. Sexuality has a lot of variance, and most of the time, most of the people I speak to get that. Homosexuals are less common, but they’re just as valid as heterosexuals. Bisexuals have experiences that differ from them. They also have experiences that are in common. The same can be said of asexuals, demisexuals, pansexuals, and so on and so forth. Having the terms lets us discuss and explain ourselves, and find each other, especially for those of us who are outside the most common identities. Because the most common identity is almost ubiquitously explained, represented, discussed, demonstrated, and assumed.

The same is true of discussions around gender. Saying cisgender male and transgender male helps solidify that while, yes, cisgender is more common, it is not more male. It is not more normal, or natural, or correct.

It also works as much with trans as it does with male and female. Discussions can be all the more specific around nonbinary or agender individuals as well, as trans is inclusive of these identities as a larger term in the same way: trans includes nonbinary individuals, and agender individuals, and transgender men, and transgender women; all of whom can share trans experiences. Trans is not just an prefix of gender applied to men and women.

So, if someone refers to cisgender people (or cisgender men, or cisgender women) and you’re not sure what that means? Well, now you do. It’s meant to specifically denote those who were assigned a gender at birth whose identity and expression match said assignment. That’s it. That’s all.


It’s not a slur.

Now, I’ve also heard a few people say “people have been attacking me with the word cis,” or “it sounds a lot like sissy, I don’t like it.”

Okay, to the second part? For the “it sounds like sissy” thing, I’m not really sure what to say. Honestly, I think this’ll just have to be withstood. There are queer people who dislike (and don’t use) queer, but the reality is that’s the most inclusive term we’ve currently got, and it’s the one that’s used. Cisgender is a technical term, with latin roots that has nothing to do with the word sissy.

As for the first, I understand that sometimes people suck. As a queer guy, I get that, believe me. I’ve had all manner of words aimed at me in a hateful way, including one I use all the time: queer. Now, I’m honestly not sure how cis could be tossed around in quite the same way—I’m unclear how the power dynamic would work here—but it might be worth stopping and considering the source and the current temperature of the discussion at hand.

I know there have been times where I, as a queer guy, have said some uncharitable things about non-queer folk. Often that’s because I’m just coming off of something pretty wretched, or I’m having the same queer 101 talk and my blood sugar is low and someone has asked the same damn question I’ve answered a billion times, or says something well-meaning (but totally dismissive) like, “love is love, we don’t need labels.”

If that’s what’s going on, honestly? I’d ask you to consider being patient. Generally speaking, cisgender people have more power. The world is so incredibly designed for cisgender people (in relation to how the world is not designed for transgender people). That’s exhausting. Sometimes, even the nicest among the queer folk will lose their patience, and snap out a generalized “cis people are so freaking clueless!” when what they might mean is “I’m exhausted by bumping into yet another reminder that the world thinks I’m abnormal and less-than!”

Above all else? Resist the urge to drop some variation of “not all cisgender!” in response.

Able-Bodied People Speaking ABOUT Disabled People

Derek is on point here. I cannot tell you how many times I have been told to try “relaxing” “stretching” or “have you considered yoga?” for my freaking migraine-induced seizures.

Also, as a general rule? If you’ve going to have a panel on a group of people, getting the panel members to be of that group is kind of a basic, 101 consideration. I’ve totally been the only queer person on the “queer topic” panel, and it’s torture.

Dis(abled) Embodiment

By Derek Newman-Stille

Far too frequently, able-bodied people feel that they have a place to talk about disabled people. They use different justifications for this act of narrating our bodies to us, but the bottom line is always the same. There is an assumption that our bodies are open to public debate, that we are resigned to expertiseism about our bodies not only by medical practitioners, but anyone who feels that they have a stake in narrating us.
I see this most commonly when it comes to medical practitioners, whose power to narrate our bodies is so strong that we have to depend on their assessment of our bodies to get access to basic accommodations. Our own narration of our bodies is never considered enough to guarantee that we will acquire everything we need. In university I observed this with the accommodation letters that I was forced to bring to…

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An Acceptance, and the last day for Triad Blood at 40% off

It’s Sunday, and I’m about to head out to the gallery for the afternoon, but before I go, I wanted to mention some happy news: I got an acceptance for the holiday “chosen family” novella I’ve been working on for ages.

It’s current title is “Homemade Holidays” (though if the publisher wants a different title, I’m down with that, as we all know how confident I am in my own titles).

31050390070_e64d93fefe_zIt was picked up by NineStar Press, and I’ll obviously offer more details as they become available. I’m really chuffed, though, that Nicky and Haruto will get to tell their story over fifteen holidays. It’s based not-so-loosely on my own ornament tradition, which I talk about every year, and so this one is pretty darn close to my heart.

Anyway. More news as events warrant.

Of course, this week is still all about Triad Soul, and today is the last day for the Triad Blood deal. What’s that, you say? To celebrate the release of Triad Soul, right now, from June 1st to June 4th, Bold Strokes has Triad Blood, the first Triad novel, on 40% discount in all e-book formats for a “catch-up” sale. So if you missed Triad Blood, or are just bumping into me now, click here for that deal. It ends tonight, so take advantage.