What’s been happening

I posted a number of things this weekend because I was weirdly productive, but you may have missed some of it since most of it was released on tumblr late at night. I recently updated my site with a number of links if you lose this page.

New mailing list/newsletter

I now have my own mailing list/newsletter to send information about things going on in my creative world. I just released the first edition yesterday, and I only just let people knwo about how to subscribe the day before. So it’s brand new.

SUBSCRIBE:  http://eepurl.com/cjdren
FIRST ARCHIVED ISSUE: http://eepurl.com/cjio09

YouTube video on Scrivener

I made a video and posted it on YouTube about how I use Scrivener, in case it’s of use. Find it here: https://youtu.be/EFl0xkyUUA0

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I feel like there was something else but right now I’m blanking on it so I’ll leave it at that.

A true story (maybe a series of them?)

When I was 14, I became Wiccan. I think that’s also the year I became vegetarian. There are a lot of stories that stem from those two turning points in my life, but this is the one I want to tell you now:

Maybe it was my willingness to believe in magick and foresight, or maybe it was something else. But I remember knowing with certainty after I became Wiccan for sure, but maybe even since before then, that I wasn’t going to live past 18.

I knew it deeper than I’ve ever known anything in my life. And I knew how I was going to die, too. A car accident. I didn’t know if I would cause it or if it would be out of my control, I only knew that was what would happen. I felt the vibrations of the violence of it in my dreams at night; not as nightmares but as a dread conviction.

I knew it so completely that I came to simply accept it. I woke up in the morning, I breathed, I knew my time was limited. It became something that was comforting, in a way.

And because I knew I would die by the time I was 18, I knew I had to write at least one of the stories that wouldn’t leave my mind. So I started what is now Incarnations, but back then was called Calling of the Onyx. I started it when I was around 12/13, around there, and wrote about 150 pages before I had to stop and start over because it wasn’t right. It wasn’t right. And this was my only chance, really, to write the right story before I would die.

Time passed, high school continued, my attempts to write my story marched on.

I don’t remember how old I was on that day. I was in high school still, definitely younger than 18. Was I 16? 17? I hadn’t yet had my 18th birthday, I’m sure.

Back then, my older brother drove us to and from school, and he also picked up or dropped off friends of mine along the way when it was convenient. This day would have been like any other day, except it wasn’t.

When school was out, my brother said he’d drop my friend Tara off at her house. The plan was to drop her off and then I’d go home with my brother. But for some reason that day, Tara asked me last minute as she was stepping out of the car if I wanted to come inside and hang out–study for a math test that was coming up the next day.

Was it a surprise test we’d only just learned of that day? I don’t remember.

What I remember is there was a moment where I hesitated, sitting in the passenger seat. I kind of didn’t want to go to her house, because I wanted to go home and watch TV and roleplay online and just chill. And in that hesitation she urged me to come inside, it’d be fun, and I said I wasn’t sure, and she said come on just come in, so I asked my brother if that’d be okay and he said he didn’t care.

I went inside and my brother drove off.

Tara and I spent the next hour half studying, half goofing off. Until her phone rang and she picked it up, and said it was for me. I answered the phone, heard my mom’s voice and figured she was about to ask when I wanted to be picked up, but that wasn’t at all what she was calling to say.

My brother had been in a really bad car accident, she told me. His car was totaled, she said.

Within blocks of Tara’s house, he had gone through an intersection properly but an SUV hadn’t paid attention to the stop sign and had sped through the intersection. It slammed into the passenger side of the car, T-boned it. Destroyed the car.

My brother was okay.

But if I had been in that passenger seat like I was supposed to be, I wouldn’t have been.

I felt that that was the car accident I had felt all these years. That was what had been weighing on me for years, knowing it was coming, thinking I had no choice. But at the same time I thought, surely that can’t be the accident I expected? Because I somehow missed it, by pure luck and Tara’s insistence.

I think that happened around the time I was 16, because I think I remember there being years after that where I still anticipated that vehicular death even as I no longer felt the certainty as I had before that day at Tara’s.

I wondered for a long time after that why I hadn’t died like I’d expected. When I turned 18, and then 19, and then beyond, I didn’t know what to do with this life I’d never expected to have. I didn’t understand why I had been spared something that had been written in stone for so long.

When I got into fanfic writing and saw the community that came from fandoms, when I had to come up with a reason for why I was alive, I thought that a dream for this unexpected time I had on Earth was for there to someday be something I could write that could be meaningful in whatever way possible to even just one other person. I thought that if I could have anything, if I could find meaning in a dream, then my dream was for something I was involved in writing to have a fandom, no matter how small it may be.

Just one fanfic, one fanart, one anything, would be incredible. Anything beyond that would be astounding, and would fulfill that dream I didn’t dare breathe aloud.

ICoS ended up accidentally fulfilling that dream of mine, which left me feeling free to go back to that story I started all those years ago. Back when I thought I’d have only a few years before I was gone. Now I named it Incarnations, and now I’m trying to finish writing it this year.

Because of ICoS, because of the amazing readers for that story, because at least one person found it meaningful, because at least one person made fanfic or fanart or anything else, because of that community, I’ve been able to dare to have another dream.

This one may never happen, and if it doesn’t I’m honestly completely okay with it. The fact that my first dream was met is more than enough for me. I hardly dare hope for more. But if I could have it, it would be this:

I would love, someday, to be able to quit my job and write a book that gets published. I would like to make just enough money to be able to scrape by as a writer (I don’t expect to ever be rich or well-known). But mostly, even if I can’t do those things, what I would really love is to even just change jobs so I could do what I’ve really wanted to do for years:

I would love to be able to meet people in person. I would love to be able to go to a convention. I would feel incredibly lucky if I could ever be on a panel in a convention, or be a main speaker or the only speaker in one of those panels. I would love to be able to do a book signing sometime in my life. I would love to be able to sit in an Artist’s Alley with books and draw little Ais’ Terrible Art cartoons for anyone who is interested and who was kind enough to stop by. And I would love, someday, to be able to somehow incorporate charities into what I do, like somehow make just a bit more than enough money to scrape by so that extra bit could go to one of my favorite charities, so the people who want to donate know it’s going to a good cause.

I would love any and all of these things, but I also know it’s entirely likely none of this will happen. And I know that even if I were lucky enough to be able to go to a convention as Ais, no one would probably know who I am or care. If I were ever on a panel, particularly if I were the only speaker, or if I ever did some book signing, I would worry that no one would care and no one would show up.

I would have to convince some friends to come so I wouldn’t be sitting there alone in silence. But at least with friends we could hang out and talk, so it’d still be great.

But as much as I would love for any or all of that to happen, I also know it doesn’t have to happen because I was lucky enough for one dream to already have been met, and that alone is more than enough. That alone is more than I’d ever hoped to have.

For every person who ever wrote to us about ICoS, who ever cared about the series or a character, who ever drew anything or made an edit or wrote anything or made music or anything else–to each and every one of you, I can never thank you enough because I don’t have the words to explain to you how incredible and important that is to me.

I wondered why it was that day after school Tara was so insistent, and why I went against my nature to unexpectedly stay at her house. I wondered why I lived when I was set to die.

A few years ago I realized, was it so ICoS could happen? That life-changing event that also wasn’t planned, that also happened accidentally, but that also had positive repercussions in my life going forward? Was ICoS important to someone who needed it at that moment in their life, for whatever reason? Was that why I was spared, so that accidental event could happen for them?

I don’t know, really. Maybe I was also spared so I could rescue my dog. Maybe there’s something I don’t know of yet. I don’t believe in fate, exactly, nor do I think everything has to happen for a reason. I think a lot of things just sort of happen and we roll with them and it’s our reactions to them that affects our options in the future.

That’s how I generally feel, but I can’t feel that way about that accident, because that accident was something I felt the repercussions of years before it happened. That accident was something I knew would happen. That accident is something that so very nearly did happen to me. So the fact that it didn’t is what makes me curious the reason why.

And most days, lately, I feel like the existence of ICoS maybe is that reason.

A series?

There are some true stories I’ve considered sharing, or things I struggle with sometimes, in the event they are helpful for anyone else or even just interesting to read.

In particular that’s been on my mind the most has been my struggles over the years with anorexia and ways I’ve dealt with it or tried to get over it, as much as can be done. For example, lately I’ve been struggling with how a person loses weight when they don’t know if they should be losing that weight and are afraid of triggering right back to where they started on anorexia.

Would that be useful and/or of interest for anyone? Let me know if so.

Tell us about your book(s) – belated QRM bonus

In October 2015 I contributed to Queer Romance Month with my post, The Equality of Differences, talking about how I’ve always felt like an alien on Earth because so much of who I am naturally is not “normal” for most people. At that time, QRM offered an option for “mini-interviews” that participating writers like me could do– they gave us 10 questions, told us to choose a few and answer them, then get them to QRM and they would share them on other blogs.

I ended up choosing some questions and answering them, but then not participating in actually sharing them. I had planned to post the Q&As on my blog but then I don’t think I ever did. I remembered it just now because of one of the questions and answers I did, and how it could pertain to a recent request for help from a friend.

I’m splitting this into different posts because they’re totally different topics.


 

Tell us about your book(s)

If anyone knows my name at all even vaguely, they probably know me because I’m half the writing duo behind the m/m series called In the Company of Shadows (first book is called Evenfall). You can find more information about it here, if you want: http://aisylum.com/project/icos/. It’s a long ass series, and you can download the whole thing for free.

But since ICoS has been around for years and I don’t want to spoil anyone on anything in it, what I’d rather talk about are stories I’m working on now, specifically a fantasy book I’m writing that I first started when I was around 13. I wrote 150 pages in it, decided it was crap, started over, didn’t like the direction I was going, and then shelved it. Over the years, I brought it out and worked on it for a bit, then set it aside for years, then started the cycle over.

By now, it’s much more complicated than it was in the original version. And there are some pretty funny things that happened along the way. For example, the girl who was the main character of the original version, who was basically the typical hero, is now a side character who is technically a bad guy. But her plot hasn’t changed at all; it’s simply all in the context used to tell her story.

For me, the world is filled with shades of grey. I think people use that term to sometimes imply some sort of lawless, faithless land; like the Wild West of morality. But to me, all the greatest beauties in the world are in that space where everything blends together and there is no hard and fast rule for what is good or bad. I don’t really believe in the idea of true good and true evil; I believe in the concept that people are people, and they do what seems right to them based on their life experiences and their motivations, and from one angle a person can be a saint and from another a devil. Because life is all about the POV you’re using to interpret reality.

That’s something that will come up, to an extent, in the book– simply in the process of telling the stories of the characters and the plot. As for how this is relevant to queer romance, when thinking of stories I go with what naturally happens when creating the characters and considering how they would react to different things or how they might naturally progress as a person. This includes helping me realize what their sexuality is. In the case of this book and the characters who populate it, it just so happens that there will be people who are straight, gay, lesbian, pansexual, possibly asexual, and one of the main characters is agender or trans. I’m looking forward to a lot of their stories and hope, when I finish the book and release it, others will like what they see. Until then, I don’t want to say too much.

If you’re interested in this book, I will definitely post more as I get closer to finishing. I’ve set myself the goal that I should finish the book by my next birthday, so it should hopefully be done by Spring 2016. I will post about it in various places online, so check out how to contact or follow me here: http://aisylum.com/about/contact/ 

Another Incarnations excerpt – Fawkes and Sloane, being goofs

I just released this on tumblr today as well, because I got all inspired by this:

fantasique reblogged your post and added: “fantasy story excerpt (f/f-ish)”

!!!! this seems so good *//* and is it healthy i’m already shipping sloane x fawkes like crazy? bc they sound all the right bells of my fangirlself tbh *runs* and the cover is so pretty too! can’t wait for april ❤

I wrote the below response on tumblr:

Aww! it actually would make me really happy if you do ship them! I like them 🙂 They already sort of have a joking ship name based on their first names, but it’s not really set in stone. They’re basically inseparable and get along super well and sometimes mess with others. I like them both so it would make me happy if anyone else liked them 🙂

You’re getting me excited about the story again! I tried to find another excerpt to share with them and it was a little difficult because so many of their scenes are too contextual or in spoiler country, but I did remember this scene so I’m sharing it! I changed a couple of names in it to Earthling/American equivalents so the specific terms I use aren’t taken.

Anyway in this scene they are joking around.

EXCERPT BELOW

Context on this scene: So, Fawkes and Sloane are both early 20s when the book starts. There’s this character Vikenti who’s late 40′s and really cranky and sort of a father figure to Sloane but also they’re kind of gruff with each other sometimes. Vikenti and Sloane are basically the cops in this fantasy world, and Fawkes is a friend. In this scene, they’re walking through the equivalent of the police headquarters in the main city. Sloane and Fawkes aren’t supposed to have anything to do with the murder mystery case but Sloane bitched at Vikenti until he grudgingly agreed to let them see the body.

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Incarnations excerpt – Fawkes and Sloane, night

I released this on tumblr recently but like a dweeb didn’t share it here so I am now 🙂


 

I randomly felt like sharing an excerpt from the fantasy book I’m working on (Incarnations). This is a sort of f/f-ish scene.

A short explanation of Incarnations if you haven’t heard me mention it before: this is the first book in a fantasy series I’m writing; I first conceived of this book when I was 13/14 and wrote 150 pages in it before I stopped and started over and I’ve been doing that since while also expanding the world and characters; and this book starts with a murder mystery that seems to possibly involve a serial killer. Find more excerpts here.

The book/series contains a number of LGBTQIA elements, with lesbian, gay, pansexual, asexual, heterosexual characters, and one is neutrois.

The “she” in the beginning of the excerpt is Sloane, one of the (many) main characters. I realize this excerpt probably seems bizarrely mundane/cliche(?) for a fantasy story starting with a murder mystery, but that’s why I’m okay with sharing it; it has minimal spoilers and shows one aspect of two female friends nearly attached at the hip from the start of the book.

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