Writing Wednesday – Gone Fishin’.

 

Have you ever had one of those moments in the middle of winter when you think, I need to get out of here?

Have you ever had one of those moments when you’ve read a story about someone just picking up a bag, grabbing their ID, and heading to an airport because they’re ready for an adventure, and who cares if they planned ahead and thought, me next, please?

Wonder why I’m bringing this up?

I’ll let you know in a week or so how it went. When this post goes live, husband and I will be in an airplane.


Exit Plans for Teenage Freaks

I’m on track, and had a couple of breakthroughs with the minor characters this week. One of the things about having a teen character in a queer YA these days is it’s possible for them to begin the story already out, and it’s possible for them to have a group of out queer friends, and a support network in their school.

That’s the route I’ve taken with Exit Plans, and I’m happy about that.

So the cast of characters around Cole include two queer teen girls (one bi, one lesbian), a teen genderqueer, a gay teen boy, Cole (my narrator and also a gay teen boy), and Cole’s best friend, who is ace. I’m still waffling over whether he’s ace/aro, or ace, and I’ve been reading like mad about the experiences ace folk have in common (or unique stories of ace individuals), as well as a tonne of “I hate it when non-Ace people do this,” posts, and I’ve already lined up a beta reader, and I’ve got my ace friends in the loop and…and…and…

Well, you get it. Doesn’t make me less nervous, but I want these characters—even if they’re “just” supporting characters—to be solid.

After all, it pisses me off when queer guys are written inauthentically, so the last thing I want to do is punch down.


Of Echoes Born / Short Pieces

 

Had another idea for another short fiction piece, which is good. I may try writing on the plane (we’ll see—often that makes me feel woogy and ill), but depending on how many hours on a plane this is, I’m likely to go bonkers if I don’t write, so.


Open Calls for Submission

On Writing Wednesday I try to include my list off all the various open calls for submission I’ve found and/or am trying to write for. If you know of any others, by all means do drop them in the comments and I’ll add them to the list. If this is helpful for people other than myself, it’s even better.

Totals: I have stalled out a bit this month. While in January I did well: 6 submissions (4 reprints, 2 new), 1 acceptance; in February I’m still only at: 1 submission (1 new).

  • Chicken Soup for the Soul – Various titles, various themes, various deadlines, 1,200 word count limit.
  • Clarkesworld – Currently open for art, non-fiction, and short story submissions.
  • Cast of Wonders – Young adult short fiction market, open to story submissions up to 6,000 words.
  • MM Superpowers anthology – This isn’t the only thing open at Totally Bound (you can click through for the full list), but this is the one I’m eyeing; deadline February 28th, 2017; 10k-15k word count limit, with erotic content.
  • Wet Summer Nights – White collar/blue collar, cross-town, wrong side of the tracks lovers theme; Mischief Corner Books; 10k-18k word count; deadline March 31st, 2017.
  • A Fool For You -Tales of Tricksters; Less than Three Press; 10k-20k word count; deadline March 31st, 2017.
  • Alice Unbound – Think Alice in Wonderland, only speculative and may embrace fabulist, weird, myth, SF, fantasy, steampunk, horror, etc. Exile Editions; Submission window: February 1st – May 31st, 2017; 2k – 5k word count limit; Canadians and ex-pat Canadians only.

“You Should Totally Hold Hands.”

Before I start, take a peek at this ad:

That ad was put together by a bank, ANZ, and you know, I get that it was intended to be supportive. I really, really do.

That said: fuck right off.

Let’s look at the slogan.

“When you feel like letting go, #holdtight.”

Are you shitting me?

Feel like? This isn’t “You know, today I feel like Earl Grey instead of Chamomile.” This is “Okay, those three people there are bigger than me, and before they see me holding hands with my husband, I’m going to let go.”

See the difference?

So, dear ad, I’m doing to disagree. Don’t hold tight in the face of a situation that makes you feel off. Instead, be safe. Trust your instincts.

Well meaning things like this are said to me all the time. “You should be able to hold your husband’s hand. You should be able to kiss him in public. It shouldn’t matter. It’s no big deal.”

In the same order, “Yep, I should. Yep, I should. Unfortunately, it does. And yes, it is.”

Crap like this gets me so freaking mad. Yes, when I’m somewhere safe, when I have backup or know I’m in the clear, I’ll go for that PDA. I do think it matters. Totally. But if a queer person feels off about holding hands somewhere, they’re the best judge.

Don’t tell them otherwise. Especially veiled in some sort of supportive “be courageous” crap.

Like I said, I’m sure the ad makers here intended this to be supportive. But the literal message here is “take the risk.” And for crying out loud, no. Don’t tell queer folk they have to risk it. We already fucking risk it enough. Trust me. If allies feel bad we don’t hold hands in public? That’s work for them. Not us.

Allies want us to feel safe? Go make it safer. Back us up. Until then, fuck off with your words of support and advice hinging on us risking it ourselves for you to feel better.

“Holding hands for some people is difficult,” the description says.

No.

It’s not difficult for us. It’s fucking dangerous.

Writing Wednesday – Better Writing Through Nitrous

 

My face is more-or-less fixed now, so that’s a good thing. And I have a few new experiences I can maybe use in fiction some day. Did you want a blow-by-blow of what it feels like to have a pin nudged back into place in your face and an infection drained around it while you’re high on nitrous and under the influence of six jabs of local?

No?

Maybe not then.

Suffice it to say, Monday I was pretty much wrecked, and Tuesday wasn’t much better. I’ll be back on track again soon.

In all seriousness, though, I did have some great ideas while I was buzzing. That’s not a suggestion people should buzz to get ideas, but rather if you’re having surgery and you’re buzzing, maybe bring a pencil and some paper.


Exit Plans for Teenage Freaks

Got nowhere this week. See above, re: face fixing.


Of Echoes Born / Short Pieces

 

I scribbled more for “Pentimento” this week (especially while under the influence of nitrous, so we’ll see how quality that turns out to be), and I have also almost finished putting in the other reprints into the file (I wasn’t good at keeping files way-back-when, and some of the stories I submitted earlier in my career I had to retype from the actual book).

Almost done that.


Open Calls for Submission

Lastly, Writing Wednesday updates include my list off all the various open calls for submission I’ve found and/or am trying to write for. If you know of any others, by all means do drop them in the comments and I’ll add them to the list. If this is helpful for people other than myself, it’s even better.

Totals: January: 6 submissions (4 reprints, 2 new), 1 acceptance; February: 1 submission (1 new).

  • Chicken Soup for the Soul – Various titles, various themes, various deadlines, 1,200 word count limit.
  • Clarkesworld – Currently open for art, non-fiction, and short story submissions.
  • Cast of Wonders – Young adult short fiction market, open to story submissions up to 6,000 words.
  • MM Superpowers anthology – This isn’t the only thing open at Totally Bound (you can click through for the full list), but this is the one I’m eyeing; deadline February 28th, 2017; 10k-15k word count limit, with erotic content.
  • Wet Summer Nights – White collar/blue collar, cross-town, wrong side of the tracks lovers theme; Mischief Corner Books; 10k-18k word count; deadline March 31st, 2017.
  • Alice Unbound – Think Alice in Wonderland, only speculative and may embrace fabulist, weird, myth, SF, fantasy, steampunk, horror, etc. Exile Editions; Submission window: February 1st – May 31st, 2017; 2k – 5k word count limit; Canadians and ex-pat Canadians only.

Sunday Shorts – “Equality,” edited by Paul Alan Fahey

equality-final-coverOne of the nice things about being in a collection or an anthology is the ability to discuss the other pieces in the book, and to rub elbows—if in a nonliteral but literary way—with authors both known and unknown to me.

Equality: What Do You Think About When You Think of Equality? is a collection of short nonfiction pieces by twenty five essayists, and I’m lucky enough to find myself among them. Equality has been my “coffee shop project” book for the last few weeks.

My what? Right. The coffee shop project is where my husband and I go to a coffee shop on Sundays and sit and read without any electronic devices on-hand, for at least half an hour. I have a tea or a white hot chocolate, he has a coffee, and we reconnect with physical reading, a skill that we’ve both realized can suffer when we’re both given easy access to the ‘net. I finished it this morning, having read a few essays each time.

In the tradition of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Stride Toward Freedomand Malala Yousafzai’s, I Am Malala, Equality: What Do You Think About When You Think of Equality? presents thought-provoking and compelling personal essays that probe a concept professed to be the very foundation of our democracy—a concept that may even be more vital today than in the past.
From international bestselling author, Anne Perry who asserts we must look within ourselves to our emotions, experiences, and beliefs before we attempt an honest and truthful answer, to Dennis Palumbo, psychotherapist and author, who claims diagnostic labels used in treating mental illness often stigmatize and dehumanize the patient causing clinicians to view their patients in terms of their diagnosis rather than people, and Barbara Abercrombie, writer and distinguished university professor, who explores ageism as yet another form of stereotyping and discrimination in the language we use to describe older adults. These award-winning and best-selling writers, and twenty-two more, tackle equality across multiple spectrums—racial, social, political, religious, marital, gender—and run with it in surprising directions.
What do you think about when you think of equality?

There are twenty five answers to this question, and although there’s some overlap, for the most part, each essayist took a different approach to the discussion, and left me with something new to consider and ponder.

It would take me ages to go through each of the twenty-five pieces (well, twenty-four, as I never talk about my own entry when discussing collections or anthologies) but a few echoed over the course of the last couple of months.

“The Last Acceptable Prejudice,” by Barbara Abercrombie gave me pause as I found myself nodding along with the words on the page, and Larry Duplechan’s “Have You Met My Husband?” was familiar one moment and then a completely different point of view the next. In fact, all the pieces that touched on marriage equality or queerness were ones that I found myself most captured by (for obvious reasons) and it was fascinating to see the same desires mirrored in other places, other times (Canada was about a decade ahead of the US with marriage equality), and some of the experiences.

Should it have surprised me so very much that Jeff Mann’s “Two Mountain Weddings,” had less impediments to them than my own wedding? Maybe not, but my own prejudices about what to expect from the Southern states certainly had me assuming the worst—and being surprised by the tale he told.

Many of the stories did that: delivered a tale I wasn’t expecting. The closing piece, “Body Language: The Naked Truth,” by Eldonna Edwards—a woman who donated a kidney and later learned the kidney was given to a man who has politics diametrically opposed to her own liberal, pro-queer ones—were full of such compassion for those to whom I will admit I struggle to be compassionate. My first thought in the face of someone spouting anti-queer rhetoric is rarely as polite as some of those who speak in the pages of Equality.

Other standouts? “Equality in High Def,” by Jewelle Gomez (though it has a painful bittersweetness to it now the election is over), “Ambiguously Ever After,” by Jeffrey Ricker (who I speak of often, and whose piece in this collection left me thoughtful and maudlin for days), and “On Equality,” by Rob Byrnes, who managed to level his wit at the topic and put such a wry smile on my face even as he painted so perfect a picture with his words.

As I said, I walked out of the coffee shop—and this collection—with a lot to ponder. And while the general consensus of all the pieces in the book was pretty clear: Equality is a goal, not a destination we’re likely ever to truly reach, like all goals, it’s often forward progress that’s more important.

We might never get there, but that’s the last reason not to get closer.

Writing Wednesday – Special Thursday Edition

chicken-soup-for-the-soul-random-acts-of-kindness

Speaking of super-kind, my neighbour took the dog for a trip to the pit today to spare me my headache doing so.

Yeah, so yesterday didn’t work out very well. I had a headache for most of the day and though I managed to power through a Twitter launch party for Chicken Soup for the Soul: Random Acts of Kindness, I was out of steam and ready to lie down when it was over. Worse? The headache is one of the rarer sorts I get: just rough enough that after ten or fifteen minutes of activity I feel a bit sick and want to lie down, but not so bad that I don’t feel good enough to try again a half hour later or so—and repeat. Ad nauseum (no pun intended).

I’m even less thrilled I woke up with the damn thing still in place. Likely this is due to my impending surgery next Monday, and hopefully once that’s done I’ll be free of the general ick.

So. That’s why I was gone yesterday. Today I’m taking it easy on myself and giving myself a quiet day with as little screen time as possible (this is my only exception).


Exit Plans for Teenage Freaks

 

I finished my edits for Triad Soul, and they are away, and I’m playing catch-up with EPfTF, word-count wise, for what I missed while I was doing so. That said, I was ahead beforehand, so I’m not actually behind.

Thus, taking a headache day isn’t so bad. Besides which, trying to do more with a headache just leads to more headache, and I don’t want scotoma or a migraine.

Self-care. Trying to practice what I preach.


Of Echoes Born / Short Pieces

 

I was struck by a word in a conversation with my editor a while back. He asked me if I knew what it meant (and I did, thanks to my eons-ago OAC Art class): Pentimento.

If you don’t know what it means, don’t worry, it’s not exactly commonly used in conversation. It’s a term in reference to painting, where an artist’s changes to a project are detectable through scanning, careful study, the passing of time or what-have-you, to find what they’d originally painted underneath. For example, the shoulder strap in Portrait of Madame X used to be in the process of slipping off her shoulder (the scandal!)

Anyway, why do I mention this? Because part of my decision to create the “Of Echoes Born” collection was to specifically include new content. I rarely write just for writing’s sake—I almost always write short fiction in an attempt to meet a call for submission—but the idea of pentimenti, alongside my usual “nudge the world just a little bit to the magical,” turned into a short fiction idea. I’ve been scribbling notes ever since.


Open Calls for Submission

Lastly, Writing Wednesday updates include my list off all the various open calls for submission I’ve found and/or am trying to write for. If you know of any others, by all means do drop them in the comments and I’ll add them to the list. If this is helpful for people other than myself, it’s even better.

Totals: January: 6 submissions (4 reprints, 2 new), 1 acceptance; February: 1 submission (1 new).

  • Chicken Soup for the Soul – Various titles, various themes, various deadlines, 1,200 word count limit.
  • Clarkesworld – Currently open for art, non-fiction, and short story submissions.
  • Cast of Wonders – Young adult short fiction market, open to story submissions up to 6,000 words.
  • 49th Parallels – Alternative Canadian Histories and Futures, Bundoran Press, deadline February 14th, 2017; 1,500-7k word count limit.
  • MM Superpowers anthology – This isn’t the only thing open at Totally Bound (you can click through for the full list), but this is the one I’m eyeing; deadline February 28th, 2017; 10k-15k word count limit, with erotic content.
  • Wet Summer Nights – White collar/blue collar, cross-town, wrong side of the tracks lovers theme; Mischief Corner Books; 10k-18k word count; deadline March 31st, 2017.
  • Alice Unbound – Think Alice in Wonderland, only speculative and may embrace fabulist, weird, myth, SF, fantasy, steampunk, horror, etc. Exile Editions; Submission window: February 1st – May 31st, 2017; 2k – 5k word count limit; Canadians and ex-pat Canadians only.

Sunday Shorts – “Teddy Bears,” by Brandon Witt

I’ve been a fan of holiday novellas since I first stumbled onto them. For queer folk, the holidays can really, really suck, and anything that manages to put a bit of cheer back into a time of year I find difficult is fine by me.

Unfortunately, a lot of the time, I have to really screen which holiday stories I’m reading. I seem to be mentioning this every five minutes lately, but if the main focus of a queer holiday tale is the reunion and reconciliation with an estranged family, it gets a pass from me. I want my queer stories to have chosen families, and to show queer folk finding their own way back to happy times.

Something a bit more, well, queer.

I’d never partaken in an Advent Calendar series before, and when I saw the theme of one was ‘Bah Humbug”?

I jumped on board.


Cover.jpgOther than working the front desk of a gay bathhouse in Denver, Brian McKay is a bit of a recluse. At the best of times, his social life consists of work, role-playing games at a local toyshop, and making YouTube videos with his Teddy Bear hamsters. The arrival of the holidays—with the annoying music, Christmas shopping, and all the reminders of how he disappointed his father—just reinforces his reclusive nature.

When James Olsen, a gorgeous daddy bear who frequents the bathhouse, notices him, Brian is at a loss. He’s not proud of his own bear status or his struggle with weight. The idea that James has interest in him beyond an easy hookup is more than Brian can fathom. But with a little bit of holiday magic, James might help Brian learn to accept Christmas again—and himself.


So Teddy Bears was a great little novella that explored a queer holiday from a bunch of fresh angles that I can’t recall seeing before:

One: both of the guys involved aren’t in their twenties/early thirties. (I love reading about guys my age or guys older than I am, frankly.)

Two: bears who aren’t just muscle bears! (And one who’s struggling to be cool with his body, which—hey—we’ve all been there, no?)

Three: nerd/geek who isn’t “secretly gorgeous super-lean model type once he gets new clothes and reveals his abs.” (Because no.)

Four: Buffy/Spike/Angel dwarf hamster YouTube stars. (No, like, really.)

Five: a bathhouse setting for a romance? (Yep.)

So, with that in mind, if you’re in the mood for a holiday story that lives up to its description, you’re well advised to nab this one for the next time you want something jolly, sweet, a little bit smexy, and funny to boot. This was a wonderful bit of warmth for a frigid winter day.

So, thanks, Brandon Witt.