2017: voice, self-silencing, and circumstances

I just posted this also on tumblr – 2017: Voice – thoughts about self-silencing and circumstances

So, my friend Ashley (aka @smokesinatra) did some vlogs this month and she mentioned in one that she has a really interesting way of doing New Year’s resolutions. Instead of the usual “I’ll do or not do this thing!”, she chooses a word that is something that represents that year or what she needs to work on for that year and then every day she tries, in big or small ways, to do something related to that word. The word she’s chosen for 2017 is brave/bravery.

I freaking love this idea and have been telling other people about it, and so far everyone has really liked it too. I thought about what I wanted to do for 2017 and my word, and I’ve decided on what it is:

My word for 2017 will be: Voice

Something you may or may not know about me is that I silence myself a lot. It’s the byproduct of simultaneously being so used to not being mainstream on just about anything that I know I almost never will agree with the majority of people on something, and literally having a personality which is called The Mediator. I don’t like confrontations, I don’t like hurting people or alienating people. I would rather silence myself to let other voices grow in my presence if that’s what it takes to make a harmonious interaction. I would rather let other people feel heard in my presence than have to always be heard, myself. (I mean, sometimes I’m sassy and don’t let them feel heard, especially if I’m worked up on something, but generally speaking I try to make sure people know their voices didn’t just fall into the chasms of silence)

I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing all the time, honestly. I get along with a lot of people who don’t really know each other because I try not to alienate people, and if I realize I did I try to make up for it if possible. I’ve been able to have really great conversations with people who believe the exact opposite than me, even convinced people to change their minds on controversial topics, because I respected their differences instead of alienating them from the start.

But at the same time, I’ve always been someone extremely unwilling to change myself to fit mainstream society because fuck that shit, I’d literally have to euthanize my entire personality and become a 100% different person for that to happen. Because there is so little about me that’s “normal” or fits together “normally.” Which means I struggle daily with not hurting others while still being true to myself. I’m outspoken on a lot of things but so many other things I silence myself on because I think it’s safer to hurt myself than others.

That’s not a good mindset to have and it feeds into a lot of the issues I have that I don’t know that I talk about often?

Continue reading

20 stories tag

coldsaturn tagged me on a 20 stories thing on tumblr, which looked fun 🙂 I did the more literal version of this on tumblr, doing just the first lines. FIND IT HERE. And then here I’m doing longer excerpts so you can get a feel for the story, and know where to read the whole thing online (where applicable).

I have a hard time knowing what my last 20 stories are because my shit is all over the place and most of it is unfinished, but I tried to get the major recent stories, the more memorable stories that I wrote a while ago, and some from back in the day. Most of what I found is actually not released online and/or not finished. ALL of the stories below are original works. Most (but not all) are LGBTQIA and/or female MC. No particular order on the below, except sort of vaguely newer toward the top.


Rules: List the first lines of your last 20 stories. See if there are any patterns. Then tag 10 of your favorite authors!


IMPORTANT NOTE: only one of the excerpts has a trigger warning on it and that’s the first one due to doing this chronologically. You’ll see the warning. Skip that one if that is an issue for you; the rest of them will be fine for you.

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Julian Files, Chapter 3

Julian Files is a book set in the past of In the Company of Shadows. DO NOT READ JULIAN FILES IF YOU HAVE NOT FINISHED THROUGH FADE!

MAJOR SPOILERS FOR ICOS!


Julian Files by Ais

Three

Friday, June 24, 2005
Lexington, PA

“Come on, come on,” Julian muttered under his breath. “Turn…”

The sandwich bag crinkled with every shift of his ass, which had fallen asleep long ago. He longed to step out of the car and stretch until every vertebra popped, but he couldn’t until Junko fucking turned already.

Just as she started to tilt her lovely little head, the jackass who’d been courting her from the bar finally won. Junko’s whole back shifted to Julian and she was soon out of his sight as the two of them headed upstairs.

Julian scoffed and tossed his camera to the empty passenger seat. Just great. The one time he wasn’t on cheater duty he got a perfect shot. He snagged the remnants of his sandwich out of the bag and moodily chewed it, glowering out the window.

He was about to consider sleeping when he heard his phone trill. He hardly glanced at the name on the screen before bringing it up to his ear.

“Hey Fin,” he said around a mouthful.

There was a distinctly displeased pause. “I told you not to call me that.”

“What? But everyone else calls you it. You’re saying I’m not blue enough for your brotherhood? You wound me.”

He could imagine the eye roll he got out of that one.

“Were you at your office Wednesday night about 2230?”

“Depends. Am I being accused of something?”

Another obvious eye roll without a sound. The man’s silences were impressive.

Continue reading

Julian Files, Chapter 2

Julian Files is a book set in the past of In the Company of Shadows. DO NOT READ JULIAN FILES IF YOU HAVE NOT FINISHED THROUGH FADE!

MAJOR SPOILERS FOR ICOS!


Julian Files by Ais

Two

Friday May 13, 2005
Carlisle Windsor School, All Saints neighborhood
Lexington, PA

“That child is there again.”

The man said it flatly, and Boyd got nervous. He ducked back into the hallway, wondering if he was in trouble now.

He hadn’t meant to see the man again, but the man and his friend always went to one of the back classrooms in the unused building on the corner of campus. Since Austin put Boyd’s backpacks in weird places like that, Boyd always had to go there before he left. He’d done his best to stay quiet and unseen like always but he must have done something wrong.

Boyd was just debating if it was worse to go home without his backpack and have his mother angry with him or to interrupt the man and his friend, when he realized a third, very tall man had come up behind him.

Boyd’s heart clenched. He looked up and up and up, into angry eyes.

“I’m sorry,” Boyd said, not knowing yet what he’d done wrong but thinking it was probably good to let them know right away he knew it was his fault.

“Bring her in,” said the man inside.

The tall man grabbed Boyd’s shoulder—it hurt—and pushed him ahead of him into the room. Once inside, Boyd saw the man’s friend was looking surprised.

And now that he was closer, Boyd realized he knew who the man was. It was Mr. Cole, Austin’s father. Boyd had seen him pick Austin up from school sometimes but it was always far away. Mr. Cole wore a hat and different kind of clothing here in the back room than he ever did in public, so Boyd hadn’t recognized him until he was close.

“Are you sure about this?” asked the friend, but Mr. Cole was peering at Boyd.

“Who is she?” he demanded.

“I don’t know.” The very tall man shook Boyd. “Who are you?”

Boyd twisted the hem of his shirt between his fingers, and shyly, guiltily, looked up at Mr. Cole through his eyebrows. “I’m Boyd Beaulieu, sir. I’m sorry to bother you. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

Mr. Cole’s eyebrows shot up in surprise. “Beaulieu? I know that name. As in that woman Vivienne?”

“That’s my mother, sir.”

Mr. Cole’s friend swore, which made Mr. Cole frown at him.

“It’s fine,” Mr. Cole said.

“No, it isn’t!” hissed the friend, and moved closer to Mr. Cole. He and Mr. Cole got into a quiet conversation but even though they may have thought Boyd couldn’t hear, he could.
“That bitch doesn’t know when to hold her tongue,” the friend growled under his breath. “And she’s too astute. For a damn spy, she reports everything. You know how much trouble she’s caused some of the parents already? If she finds out—”

“What will she do?” Mr. Cole watched his friend closely. “Whine about her inferiority?”

“But what if she—”

“You think I fear that harpy? You think she’s more powerful than I am?” Mr. Cole’s voice dropped dangerously. He leaned closer to the friend.

The friend leaned back. “Of course not.”

Mr. Cole relaxed a little. “That’s the right answer. She is nothing. She is no one.”

“But between her and the father—”

“I know of him. I research all the players and find their weak points. He’s a hack reporter no one listens to at a pathetic local rag in in Crandall Park. Crandall Park. They couldn’t afford an office in Financial, or at least Lincoln Square, and you’re worried about them? I have ways of suppressing the media. Their voice will be silenced, like the rest.”

“But his specialty—”

“If either of the Beaulieus try anything, they will learn their place.”

Continue reading

Julian Files, Chapter 1

Julian Files is a series set in the past for In the Company of Shadows. It contains MAJOR SPOILERS for Fade, so do not read until you have finished Fade!


Julian Files, by Ais

One

Thursday May 12, 2005
Lexington, PA

Even on the far end of Crandall Park’s sprawling playground, shrieking kids disrupted the otherwise calm morning. Julian’s fingers twitched and he resisted for the third time reaching for his pack of Winstons. He’d have gone for it anyway if the adulterating mom across the way didn’t give him the evil eye every time he touched his pocket.

Jennifer Groves, twenty-seven years old. Whitebread America mistressing it up with a certain Latino charmer named Joaquin Padilla. Julian doubted she knew he was the PI who had given her husband the racy photos of the two of them going at it like horny teenagers against a window of the White Oaks, but being as she recently stopped smoking she knew a fellow nicotine addict when she saw one. Not that her attempt to go clean living was liable to last long, once good ole Chris Groves was done raking her through the divorce proceedings.

It never ceased to amaze Julian how stupid so many people were. What made them think being in a mid-range hotel made the windows any less transparent when they decided to play out their little fantasies? And so many of them had the receiving partner facing the window, too. Made his job a whole hell of a lot easier to get the money shot.

He considered whipping out a smoke anyway just to fuck with her, when he noticed Cedrick approaching.

The man was a conundrum. He wasn’t bad looking by any stretch, but he easily could have been forgettable. Stocky build, average height, brown eyes, brown hair… Nothing stood out at a glance. In a photo, he would have been the guy in the background no one thought to look at twice.

The gift of anonymity.

Julian wished he had the same, at times.

But in motion, that was when all the little bits came together and made Cedrick recognizable. His easy, loping gait. The smile that seemed ever ready on the edges of his lips, and that goddamned infectious grin that popped up at the least expected moments. Made his whole face light up like a Christmas tree, and at times even made Julian fight a grin in return.

The trademark Beaulieu not-yet-smile was in place as Cedrick strode toward him slower than normal, and when all the trees and kidlets were out of the way Julian saw why.

He raised his eyebrows and flicked a glance down at Cedrick’s side.

“Brought the kid, huh?”

“Couldn’t get a babysitter.” Cedrick rested his hand around Boyd’s skinny little shoulders, pulling him against his thigh like some sort of tall dog. The fond smile aimed down at him probably wouldn’t have looked out of place in those circumstances, either. “Can’t say I’m sad about it, though. I don’t get enough time with him as it is.”

Cedrick dropped easily onto the park bench next to Julian, and soon it was the both of them who stared at Boyd.

Truth be told, the kid creeped Julian out. Like Cedrick, his photo op impression was different than his video. He was a cute kid by looks alone: fine blond hair, huge eyes an unusual amber; a skinny little thing with pouty lips. He hovered in that childlike androgynous zone of not seeming resigned to any gender entirely.

Maybe if he smiled once in a dinosaur’s age it’d be fine but he was like a little alien. He stared at people like he was dissecting their motivations, filing it away in some five-year-old version of Enemy vs Friend, or maybe he was just trying to figure out what the fuck was going on around him. Julian might have thought he was slow but he’d seen the kid write and draw well beyond his nephew who was four years older. And when the kid talked, which wasn’t often, there were times his sentence structure and astute observations were like he was twice his age.

Julian sometimes wondered if the kid was going to turn into a serial killer someday. If so, he should probably make sure he wasn’t on the kid’s hit list. Continue reading

That moment in the rubble, Lou/Boyd backstory from ICoS

Ok, I originally wrote this (IMO terribly embarrassing) story back in 2011 for The Slash Pile’s Anthology in the winter; it was called Presents and had to be holiday-themed in some way. You can still find the anthology nowadays but apparently  it’s a bit more difficult now. Some readers had found this old story and mentioned how difficult it was to find. Since some people may want to read this, I thought it was only fair to share it.

It’s not terrible, really. I don’t know why I’m so embarrassed by it uggghhh but I ammmmmm ugggggggghhhhhhh OTL

But I make it a point to share even things that embarrass because it’s true that I wrote it and it’s part of my progression as a writer so pretending it didn’t happen doesn’t make it not have happened. Also, lbr. I think everything I write sucks so, by my measure, I would never share anything and some people may find that problematic lol

So here you go. Below is what I sent them back then, in its entirety.

Welcome to a Lou and Boyd backstory for In the Company of Shadows. Have fun and happy reading! (?)


Title: That moment in the rubble
Author: Ais
Rating: R for swearing
Warnings: Swearing. Fluff? And light kissing-type scenes. Also, this is a Lou/Boyd back story for In the Company of Shadows. You don’t need to have read ICoS or know anything about it to read this.

That moment in the rubble

In the Company of Shadows back story by Ais

“You’re gonna fall in that water one day and I ain’t gonna do a thing to stop it,” Lou called up to Boyd. It was a lie, of course. He knew he’d end up jumping in the filthy water in some ridiculous and unnecessary rescue attempt but he figured he’d keep that part to himself. “Get your ass down here, man. It’s gettin’ cold.”

“You’re such a wuss,” Boyd said from atop his favorite pile of rubble. Crater Lake spread before him; stagnant water that filled a massive hole one of the bombs had created just off center of the city.

When he looked down at Lou, the sky silhouetted him. The sun was setting behind the clouds, turning the ever-present grey to deeper silver. The half-crumbled buildings lining the street framed him perfectly as he balanced on a looser chunk of concrete, one hand held out as counterweight.

It was that teasing grin Boyd gave him that had probably done Lou in all those months ago– the way it stretched Boyd’s full lips and made his golden brown eyes spark. Boyd’s blond hair swirled in a stirring of wind that Lou couldn’t feel down here on the ground, and with it Boyd tilted his head to look out at the water once again.

“I’m waiting until I can’t see the color anymore.”

Lou made a face at Boyd and kicked a rock into the water. Crater Lake was nothing but foul-smelling water that slowly killed the scavengers and Ferals, as far as he was concerned. They were the only ones stupid and desperate enough to drink and bathe in it. But Boyd loved the browns and greens of it; the way it stained a near-red at just the right moment of sunset and looked nearly black afterwards.

He wanted to be irritated with Boyd but he couldn’t be, not entirely. Not when he looked at Lou like that.

Continue reading

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.