Words and Dots

I was going to make some sort of complicated graphic to engage a discussion about gender identity and sexual orientation. Really. It was going to be a very nice graphic and I might do one in the future. But really what it all comes down to is this.

Gender Identity as perceived by society and personal physical sexual attraction currently defines us. This actually works better as a sphere with intersecting axis but like I said. I was lazy. It could have been a square… but I don’t like squares. Imagine it in three-dimensions. Trust me. It works. We’ll be good. Think arcs.

Slide1Now please keep in mind, this is a general statement and I’d LOVE to eliminate the whole gender identity from the equation but the truth is, right now as we are as a society, we’re slotted into these gender spots ranging from supposed norms.

Outmoded as it is, it’s our current climate.

What I believe is that none of this should matter. I think that’s what made me stop and think to say… what the fuck am I saying here. It doesn’t matter if I feel more “male” than “female” or that some people perceive me as more female than male. My mother thinks I’m extremely masculine so in her mind, this places me in a physical attraction to women.

Now I like women and all… as friends but dude, there is nothing about a woman that makes me go unf. A pretty boy is something else. But once that boy crosses over to an overtly feminine aspect, the appeal is lost to me. I am probably very masculine in my attraction towards men. In my sexual attitude in that attraction. According to society. I think. Norms. Et al.

So what AM I saying here?

I don’t feel womanly. I don’t feel masculine. I don’t feel androgynous. I guess I kind of feel girly in some ways but really, not all of the trappings. So perhaps the scale should read femme vs homme? I used male/female just as a norm but perhaps those are better terms?

Slide2Using this screwed up kind of circular trapeze, I’ve placed a dot on where I’d show up in the general populace… according to me.

Now the interesting part of this is where I’d be shown if others were placed that dot.

I think it all depends on who knows what about me. Some people have said they thought I was this meek and mild femme soft person. Now I’m probably soft-hearted and sensitive but meek has never been anything I’ve placed in my personality column. Maybe I’m wrong.

But see, that’s what it all comes down to. What is perceived and what is felt by the individual.

And does it really matter?

Truthfully, not really.

Where I show up on that circle shouldn’t matter. What should matter is if I’m an asshole or a nice person. If I have ethics and morals. If I reach out to my fellow human being. If I’m willing to water the soup and scramble the eggs to stretch food out to feed my hungry neighbor. Will I help a child who is crying? Will I stop and comfort someone who has had a shitty day while they’re working customer service.

More importantly, will I stand up and say “No!” when someone is being shitty to someone else.

Those are the things that make an individual someone you’d want to know. Someone to admire. Someone to strive to be.

The circle doesn’t define WHO we are but rather the people we need to reach out to—the people we need to inspire—the people we need to love, even when they are doing things that we might not love them for. That circle is everyone. No matter where they stand or the colour of their dot.

I’m not saying that it’s easy. God fucking knows I have my days where I’m all… T-Rex looking for meal! I misspeak. I hurt with words. I hurt with actions. I am not perfect. I can only apologize and go forward and hope I do better.

Because no matter where I place myself in that circle, I’m still IN that circle. Right next to everybody else.

It’s Hard Out There For A Pimp

104716239_140b56c2abI haven’t written a blog blog in a while and I thought I’d talk about a question someone just posed to me.

This was asked in a very non-judgmental way—it really came from curiosity so I thought I’d answer it here as well.

The question was: Why do I pimp out authors that are probably in direct competition with my own books?

Now on the surface of this question, it does seem like a self-defeating purpose. We as authors are always competing for someone’s dollar.

True. Very true.

But ah, as a reader… as a writer… NOT the author… I want to share the glory of another writer.

We have a small bucket here. There are a whole fuckton of us in this bucket and sometimes it’s hard to be heard over the chatter. And there are incredible books out there. Fantastic writers. And damn it, if I find one, I want you to read it.

Because when it all comes down to it, isn’t that why we all read? To glory in the extravagance of a writer’s imagination?

So yeah, I pimp first for that reason. Because these are books and experiences I want to share.

Secondly, I have met or interacted with a lot of these writers. They are lovely people. And we are one voice in the ONE thing that binds us together—no matter how we write or the style we write it in—that everyone should be able to love whom they want to.

So we present them in tears and giggles, in tantrums and blood and sometimes in small little whispers of I love you in the fiercest of wind storms or shouted from the highest mountains so even God is deafened by the raucous.

We shout with our words. As best we can. As in the way we feel can touch your heart. Or your soul. To make you say awww or even to curse at us in the fiercest of ways.

So yeah, that’s why I pimp other authors. That’s why I share the books I love. That’s why I cackle with glee or exhort someone to write faster.

Because damn it, I want to read it too.


Brain Vomit Thereof

I wanted to talk to everyone about depression. There’s a lot of terms for dealing with it. Battling. Struggling. Fighting. The list goes on. But really, that doesn’t capture the feeling for me.

toni_frissell_weeki-wachee_spring800x600See, I drown in it. That’s what it feels like. Not battling. A battle I could handle. It has a sword and teeth and fangs and we can go to town. No, it’s a drowning because you literally get tired of dogpaddling through it, and then you go under—and it fills you. Your only hope is to resurface and cough the water out of your lungs.

But it is an endless ocean and sometimes you can see land. But you’ll never reach it. Even as you see people on it living their lives happy and playing in the sand. You’ll never feel that grit between your toes.

Because for some people, the world is made of dark, dank water and we endlessly and tiredly swim for some kind of support…for some kind of surcease…anything really.

I was told once never to “break the fourth wall” as a professional writer, meaning never show anything personal to anyone reading about me. Oh sure, share some minor little things like cats and stance on social issues but never stray too far into the darkness or any hardcore passions.

That never felt right. Because let’s face it, we are all human. And yes, while I may not grumble to you all about how I feel about a bad review in particular, I’m definitely going to share the humanness of who I am.

Because I fought damned hard to get to that humanity.

Now all of you know I write. I keep saying that writers are a neurotic, egotistical mess. I am clearly talking about myself. I am constantly on the edge of hoping a book does well and that I’m writing solid enough stuff to keep people entertained. This can be crippling. I admit that. It’s easier if I let go of that anchor because it drags me down into the waters.

It’s so damned hard to let go of that because really, by doing so, I’m putting a value on brain vomit.

CreativeMind2At some point, I began to believe there had to be tangible things produced when something was worked on. Like a burrito or something. In my head, writing doesn’t produce anything like that. So it’s a hard concept to get my brain around writing. I feel odd even saying “I am creative”. It feels like I’m claiming something I’m not. But LOOK I have proof! I do! Or so I say to my brain.

Bear with me. I never said I wasn’t cracked in the head.

It’s taking a bit to put the “I did this” onto a book I’ve written. Dunno why. Lack of something in my soul, heart or mind. And out of the blue, my mother gave me some advice; she never gives me advice. Hell, I can’t tell you one bit of advice she’d ever given me in the past but suddenly, here she is dishing out a tidbit.

She told me to say I love myself ever day. Several times.

You cannot imagine how difficult it is to say that. It’s a lie! It’s nonsense! It’s brain vomit.

What did I have to lose? Why was I reluctant? Why was it so scary?

I can’t describe the oddness I feel when I say it in my head. It’s not a bad feeling. It’s an odd feeling. I distrust it. Much like I distrust anything complimentary. Because those are solid things to hold onto while paddling in the ocean and they can be swept away… and all sorts of nonsense.

But okay. I have tried it. It feels odd but there’s a change. Inside someplace. A buoyancy.

So maybe it’s okay.

il_570xN.200763089If you’re drowning, try it. Let me know how you feel. See if our oddnesses match up. I am going to pick up writing again after being out of it for a week. It’s been a rough week and I’ve been reeling and drowning like a mad drowning thing. But I’m still paddling and fuck it, that’s a damned good thing.

I love you all. Really. You’re like the air in those puffy water wing things they put on kids and I appreciate every single puff of breath you give me. But use some for yourself. Drowning or now. Say I Love Myself to that person you’re sitting inside. Make him or her smile.

Pondering the Genre

I’ve been kicking around a few thoughts for a while. Most of them have to do with the divide in the M/M genre amongst readers. Basically, what is a reader’s expectation for a book classified as M/M?

This has been an interesting discussion because there are definite undercurrents within the readership that require sex to be in any book marked M/M. I could go into historical reasons, most of them being the M/M genre appears to have risen up from the likes of John Preston and others who wrote erotica with a plot.

But there were others as well in that mix… like Joseph Hansen and Michael Nava who leaned more towards the story. If there was any sex at all.

The main question seems to be; is there room in the M/M genre for a story with no or little sex? And will a readership accept that?

Someone recently told me—and I’m still not sure if they were serious—that the current M/M offerings were like a bucket of Mill and Boons or Harlequin romances. Lacking in any true substance and pretty much written in a formula.

Now, I can’t disagree that is true about some books but I’d say the genre is a far cry from cookie-cutter boy meets boy then HEA, although it DOES appear as if that is the desire for some readers.

Does the perception lie with the reader or the genre? Truthfully, there’s kind of no divide in the genre. Anything written with a gay character is kinda tossed into the pot of M/M, regardless of the content or “heat level”. It does appear as if everything is judged on the basis of the romance in the work.

Is romance the only place a gay character is acceptable?

Stick with me here. *grins*

When I wrote Black Dog Blues back in the early 2000s, I was told by countless agents that it couldn’t be published as a sci-fi/fantasy because the main character was bisexual. It wouldn’t sell. Some hated my writing but the majority were of the opinion Kai wouldn’t take because well… he’s male and with alternative views on sexuality.

But see, that wasn’t the main part of the book. It never was meant to be. Especially in the first book but there it was… Kai would probably sell if I made him female. That would be acceptable.

I balked. Not because I felt like I’m this precious snowflake artiste but because it felt wrong to lop off his dick and femme him up to sell the book. So I shelved him. But I fully intended to wait out the wave of no-gay-bisexual-characters.

It’s an urban fantasy. Not a romance. I knew that going in. I knew that coming out. Pure. Urban. Fantasy. Will he get a relationship later in the series? Yep. Just not now. But I waited and as many of you know, I pubbed Black Dog Blues out and waited.

And got some pretty angry emails that there wasn’t any sex in the book and that it wasn’t a romance. That people were disappointed in the book because it wasn’t like the mystery-romances I’ve written. Others liked it because it was an urban fantasy and pretty much follows that formula. Low build up, world establishing and a bit of a broken-crazy main character.

I tried to be very upfront about the urban fantasy part of it. I didn’t want anyone to go into the book thinking there was going to be sex in it at some point during the first book. But then I realized about a week ago, we’ve kinda come to really expect sex in a book with a gay main character.

Hell, I do too. I admit it. So I had to stop and think about it.

This isn’t going to change Kai’s story. He’s still going to be going about his world but the separation of the genres in my mind is distinct. When I say M/M, am I meaning a gay romance element in the storyline or a gay main character with the potential to have a relationship?

The name of the genre pretty much spells it out… Male-Male. It’s a pairing. But can it be more? Should it always have sex in it? Is it expected? Is it warranted? How much is too much sex to the point where it becomes erotica?

So what do you all think? I’m interested in discussion on this. What’s your opinion? Mostly because I’m waffling and still stumbling about.

Do you think there should be a divide in all genres for “GLBT” characters or should the GLBT genre divide up to different categories of books besides romance?

And what ARE your expectations for a book with a GLBT main character?

Wandering Dog

No, the old man dog is wandering around the living room. He’s an odd duck.

Now… let’s talk other projects like Whiskey and Wry which I really have nothing to do on other than promoting. I think there’s a consensus it would be a continuation of Miki and Kane? I’ve tried to dissuade that idea because while there ARE four books in the series, they each will feature different couples. Miki and Kane however will have a novella. 😀 I promise you that.

Fish and Ghosts. I have a tentative blurb. It has been submitted and I’m hoping to hear back soon.

I am currently four chapters into Dirty Deeds. It’s going smoothly. I suspect something is wrong. No really whenever something goes smoothly I am very suspicious.

There is also something under my space bar that makes it skip adding spaces so I’m wondering if there is actual something or if I’ve broken another one.

I’ll have to grab a can of air and hope for the best.

After Dirty Deeds, I’m probably going to have a hack at Tequila Mockingbird or work on something else? I’m probably just scared the fuck out of TM 😀 Really, you’ll see why.

Oh…and a steampunk novel. What do you all think about that? Is there really an audience for  it? But oh, the shiny! I want to write it. Opinions?

Of Things That Go Bump In The Heart…

Someone once asked me, why do you sometimes include animals in your books? They don’t really serve a purpose to the plotline. And it’s a distraction.

This was someone I knew personally. Someone I don’t talk to anymore.

Because really, who wants someone around that doesn’t like animals?

I was an awkward child. I was told growing up that I was fat. In retrospect and in looking at pictures, I realize that I really wasn’t so much as I’m a very different build than the rest of the women in my family. The “fat” part came later but as a child, not so much. Not really. I was also told I was worthless in so many ways I can’t even count. Childhood was a brutal fucking wasteland of Hell I’d sooner bury back some place in someone else’s memories so I wouldn’t have to revisit it anymore.

But I would never do that to someone because that would be fucked.

There were good parts about it. Sadly, I lost the good parts within a span of about a year and a half.

You see, my grandfathers both passed away within a year of each other. They were my anchors to reality and the reason I knew what love was.

20130630_083320A few months later, I lost my dog Scottie to cancer. He’d been a gift to me from my paternal grandfather a few weeks after I’d been born. He’d been my companion and my safeguard. Someone I could tell my stories to and who listened to me. And licked away the tears from my face when the world got too fucking big for me to understand.

Because really the world was just too fucking big and confusion for me.

There are words and labels they’d put on me as I grew older. Ones I didn’t understand. Ones I disagreed with. Ones that infuriated me. I spent the rest of my life looking for the same kind of unconditional affection I’d found in my relationships with my grandfathers…and my dog.

It never came. I began to doubt it was ever a Truth.

I began to doubt myself. I began to doubt the why of me and the why the hell am I even here of me.

Then I found a small kitten about the size of a spitball with the head that was bigger than his body at a dump site and took him home. He held my faith for a long time. His name was Opala. It means trash in Hawaiian. He was surly and hated most people. He’d also steal the food from your plate while you were sitting right there. Hell, he’d take your fork if you weren’t watching close enough. But he loved me and would bring me his kills. Even if that kill was my sister’s hamburger he’d just stolen.

I had Opala with me for nearly twenty years. I broke when he needed to leave me.

2802215946_70b76219d4_oBut I also had Draven who told me Opala was having issues and came to get me. I’d lose Draven to his heart murmur a few years later but oh, the best fucking dog. Smart but he hated birds. Suave but a goofball. Lived with a tennis ball in his mouth and loved belly rubs. Listened when I told him not to chase the kangaroo rat that somehow got into the house and literally RAN over Tam’s sprawled body in the middle of the living room. The cairn was all.. Dude, do you NOT know I’m a terrier. The cat was all meh, whatever. Fuck that shit. Wake me when it’s got a “laser” on it. I don’t chase anything without a “laser”.

So why do I have animals in my stories? Because I have animals in my life. They’ve walked with me through the fucking heartbreaks and the brainbreaks and the doubts. They’ve given me nothing but pain in the ass situations and love. I’ve picked up shit, puke and unmentionable bits… namely mouse guts through my toes because Neko found one, ate its head off and left me the rest to step on and they squirt like one of the party popper favours when you hit their back end with the ball of your feet.

Wouldn’t trade one fucking minute of it. Which is a damned sight better than what I can say about my overall childhood.

Whiskey and Wry is dedicated to Scotty, my collie and Opala, my disgruntled savage Hawaiian black shorthair that meowed like a goat and to Draven, my bat eared black Cairn terrier.

I love you all. Miss you all. Carry you all. Thank you.

So if you have an animal in your life… past or present because really, they live on inside of you as much as the air you’ve breathed and the food you’ve consumed… hug their bodies… hug their memories.

Snookies. Which came from Opala really. If you would lean over and say Snookies to him, he would huff kisses at you over your face. But only if he REALLY liked you.

Food Starter Kit.

A couple of weeks ago…. I sent an Asian comfort food care package to a friend. It was like a starter kit.

I sent chili sauce, chocolate panda biscuits, sauce mixes, udon, rice of various kinds… black, calrose and a blend, noodles, kalbi sauce, haupi’a (coconut pudding) and a couple of other things.

What would be a starter kit of food for your culture? Or if you’re homogenized (which isn’t a bad way to be), what are your comfort foods you’d pack into a starter kit as an intro?

Problem #531 of Being a Writer.

The one thing you need to get used to when you’re a writer?

People telling you what you’re doing wrong.

Or how to write.

I think of all the things, that’s probably the most frustrating speed bump in being an author because no matter what you do, what you write, what you create… someone’s going to take issue with it. Either in a big way or a small way but there will be issues.

And they will tell you.

Imagine if you would, you’re doing your job and someone walks up behind you and say something about what you’re doing. Your first instinct is to say “fuck off”. Okay that’s my base instinct but honestly I’m very low-rent. Now in an author’s case, you really can’t do that and really, the opinion might have some merit. I usually say thank you for telling me then do some research until I can figure out how I feel about the matter.

Some people have guided me and others have derailed me. But I do always at least look.

Unless I dismiss them outright because I know they’re crazy but that’s another kind of letter altogether.

Now, the writing part. Ah, that’s stickier. There is the book the writer wrote and there is the book the reader would have liked written. I admit to doing this too. I’ve read a book and said… I wouldn’t have done that. *grins* Notice the keyword in that — “I”.

That’s a hard thing to remember when reading a book. I TOTALLY do this. I admit to doing it. I own up to doing this. I judge. I deconstruct the book and pick at its entrails when I read. Even if it’s mind-candy and I should just shut the fuck up and READ.

It is like a dog going through the cat box looking for poo-crunchies. I know better and I STILL do it.

So what do you do when someone reads your book and starts talking about the book they wanted to read instead?

Well, short of pointing out that particular boat has sailed, you’re kind of stuck in… thank you for your input. One, you really can’t go back and change the book. It’s published. And secondly, do you really want to?

I slog out 80,000 plus words for each novel. I feel like I need to produce that mark for the price of the book. It’s a thing of mine. I feel… responsible for your pay cheque and damn it, if you’re gonna spend more than 6 bucks on something I’ve vomited out of my brain, it should be worth it.

But that’s where the responsibility ends. Because a writer has spent months on this piece. It might be flawed in some ways. God knows, there are things I’ve written that I’ve said… I would have done this better but once it’s out there, it’s like your kid. Lumps and all, it’s yours and hey, it might not be the smartest in the class or the prettiest but damn it, it’s trying like fuck.

Now, I can take criticism. I can explain why I did something. I ask the readers have faith because I’m writing a series and well, I am writing them as entertainment. It’s not high-brow literature but at the same time, I’d like the reader to become invested in my waddling, ugly children as they run amok in the garden. But certainly, I’ll listen to someone tell me if they can be fed better or dressed better.

Not to say they will but I’ll listen. *grins*

This didn’t come up from something someone said to me. It actually was from reading a comment in another author’s blog by a reader. The comment’s contents doesn’t really matter but it touched on a subject the author obviously had an opinion about but the reader tossed in their two-cents worth. The subject obviously bothered the reader enough to say something. Whether the author changes that going forward or not isn’t important either. Because really, it’s their work. But is it a deal-breaker for the reader?

I hear the term pet-peeve a lot. Now really this means someone has actually done something on purpose to piss off the other person. I can tell you I do not write to piss off anyone. I don’t sit down and write a certain bit thinking… Oh I’m going to really get under Reader X’s skin. To my knowledge, no one writes that on purpose. Okay actually I can think of one instance but that was between two authors. Messy business that.

But if something triggers a dislike, don’t take it personally. I don’t. Because really, there’s stuff that tweaks me too. *laughs*

Definitely talk to the author. I welcome it. I will always listen. I may not change my waddling ugly children but yes, we can talk about what they’re wearing.

Because really, I have terrible taste in clothes. *grins*