BE CAREFUL: Self-Promo When Writing Outside Your Lane

I witnessed a conversation on Twitter recently that raised my hackles a little bit. (I AM NOT NAMING NAMES. DO NOT ASK ME TO.) A reader was asking about bi rep in books and a non-bisexual author responded to mention they had written bisexual characters. Seems harmless enough. What’s the problem with that?

The thing is? I’ve read one of the books they mentioned and I had a severe problem with the way bisexuality was treated. Unchallenged bimisia* from the protagonist, and a supporting character who was potentially bi had that potential completely erased even though he hadn’t actually accepted “gay” as a label. Ugh.

*-misia is a suffix meaning hatred or dislike. Because -phobia’s use to describe bigoted hate can hurt people with actual phobias, I prefer to use -misia in its place.

If the author had been bi, we would be having an entirely different conversation because there is more nuance required when critiquing ownvoices narratives. The author is marginalised in other ways so I don’t want to put them on blast over a short tweet, but I do want to talk about the issue in general.

Self-Promo When Writing Outside Your Lane

This post is bouncing off a thread I wrote on Twitter (this tweet is a good jumping-off point for the thread since I’ve already mentioned the context in this post):

I don’t have a problem with authors writing about identities they don’t share if they do it respectfully. I believe all authors should aim to diversify their manuscripts because having all white allocishet people is completely unrealistic, even in historical fiction.

Image result for black people weren t invented yet

If you’re writing outside your lane, you are at a disadvantage. I’ve spoken about this before in my How Not to Be a Dick to Bisexuals series (1, 2, 3) so I’m not going to rehash that. In short, you’re probably going to screw it up somewhere along the line and you need to be cognizant of that.

Part of that awareness should inform how you choose to promote yourself and your work. You cannot simply say you’ve written a character with a marginalisation you don’t share and expect people to fall over in their haste to worship you. Get off that mountain, Zeus-wannabe, and listen up.

I would strongly advise against self-promoting your work to people looking for rep. It comes off as kinda like you’re cashing in on someone’s else’s identity. Uplift ownvoices authors instead. You should be reading their work anyway, otherwise there is no goddamn way what you write is going to be anywhere near decent.

If you really must mention you’ve written the identity, too, then, after preferably sharing some ownvoices recs, you need to make it very clear that 1) you do not share the identity, 2) you’ve made every effort to make sure the rep is good, but 3) you are not the authority on the subject. Don’t half-ass it. I don’t care how many times you’ve talked about your writing; you will have new eyes on your words every single time.

And you better not be lying on that second point. We can tell. Get yourself a sensitivity reader, preferably more than one. I can’t find out whether the author I mentioned had a bi sensitivity reader, but it definitely appeared that they didn’t.

It frustrates me to no end when marginalised folk trample over each other. And, look, I don’t want to hold marginalised authors to higher standards. However, while white allocishet authors are often obnoxious as hell, the pain cuts deeper when it’s someone adjacent to our own community. This goes double when the author is active on social media, where we talk about issues of rep all the time. In this information age, there really is no excuse.

Ownvoices should take priority when you’re offering recs, because we should be permitted to control our own narratives. It’s cool if you want to write outside your lane, but you need to respect writers and readers who share the identity you’re writing. Being adjacent to an identity (e.g. a queer author writing about another queer identity they don’t share) does not make you an expert. You’ve got to do the hard work as much as a white allocishet author does.

So, promo ownvoices. Don’t be so hasty to grab the spotlight for yourself when people are asking for rep about an identity you don’t share. Be humble, or you’re gonna look like a dick if a reader with that identity has an issue with the way you’ve written it. And there’s a very good chance someone will. Keep that in mind.

This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, but apparently it is.

Do better.

Review: Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator

ddrkmvnuaaa_yfs

I know, I know. I’m a book reviewer, not a video game reviewer. But the fucking narrative in this thing, friends… I’m floored.

I played this thing almost non-stop from start to finish. It took me roughly ten hours, though there were breaks in between where I left it running while I got food or pestered my dogs and so on.

There’s so much cool shit in this game, okay? Starting right with the character creator, where you can make your character a trans dude who wears a binder (Damien, one of the romanceable dads, is trans too!). You can also be fat if you want to be. On top of that, there’s a huge variety of skin tones available.

And man buns, if that’s what you’re into.

The basics of this game are: you’re a single dad who has just moved to a new neighbourhood with your eighteen-year-old daughter, Amanda. The neighbourhood welcomes you with open arms and you are given seven dads to choose from. You can date all of them to a point, but can only go on the third and final date with one. There are multiple endings per dad (not all of which are romantic), and two endings for Amanda.

The biggest marketing draw for me before playing, and for most people, was the promise of a veritable fountain of dad jokes. I live for that shit. I was expecting a light-hearted, silly little game. And you know what? That was definitely there. I laughed A LOT. Screaming laughter that had my parents worried I was being murdered. I probably scared the family pets and possibly even deafened every dog in the neighbourhood. The game is uproariously funny at times. I love my puns, okay?

So, yeah. There’s a lot of silliness in this game, but there’s also something else that is absolutely central to this game…

Feels. The game is full of them. They will smack you in the face.

I am not fucking around here, okay?

YOU. WILL. PROBABLY. CRY.

I almost did, and I rarely cry over fictional characters. Ever. So take it from me: keep some tissues on hand because shit gets EMOTIONAL. The potency of feels will vary depending on the dad, but HOO BOY I PICKED THE CAPTAIN OF THE FEELS STARSHIP. I’ll talk about him in a sec.

There are two huge reasons why I loved this game so much. First of all, your character’s daughter, Amanda. She’s such a witty little shit. And a sweetheart. And occasionally a demon in human form. She is partially responsible for the emotional rollercoaster that is this game:

Amanda 1

Second of all, and also partially responsible for my emotions, is my favourite dad and captain of my feels trip: Mat.

Mat 1

I mean, honestly. He’s perfect. Funny as anything, for starts. But he’s also awkward as fuck and so much of the shit that comes out of his mouth feels like it describes my capabilities when it comes to dealing with people. That is to say, I’m bad at people. He has a great deal of social anxiety, which will be endlessly relatable to so many people, including me.

I came to really, really like the other dads as well (Robert, or as the achievements call him, Knife Dad, is probably my second fave), but Mat was the first one I met and he wormed his way into my heart from the outset. He lives there now. I absolutely adored his story arc. I ended up getting the friend ending for him, so I guess I’ll just have to play with him as my chosen Daddy again. What a hardship that is not. (I played my first playthrough without a guide, but I’m thinking I’ll have to use one the next time around. Apparently there’s an ending with one of the dads where you can die? I don’t know, but I’m not taking chances next time. Update: I used a guide and romanced everyone. I love them all. Except Joseph.)

In short: I came for the dad jokes, stayed for the feels trip. Join me. It’s rad.

DREAM DADDY: A DAD DATING SIMULATOR is available on Steam.

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PS: Check out my livetweet below. I had to limit what I tweeted because I didn’t want to get too spoilerific. There was an image of Mat near the end of his arc that I was dying to share but I could not, in good conscience, take the surprise away from the good folk who read my tweets.

Continue reading

#CampNaNoWriMo Day 20: 54.8k, draft finished and win!

So, a few things happened today. I finally got off my butt and validated my win, which was about as annoying as I expected since I can’t just copy-paste the whole thing from Scrivener in one bite. I also finished the first draft. YEAH! I still hate the epilogue but there are some cool parts that I might try to salvage when I revise. I have the winner’s certificate, which I’m gonna post with the tweets.

Interesting tidbit: Scrivener is about 100 words too generous compared to LibreOffice and the Camp NaNoWriMo wordcount validator. Huh.

The final draft is 23 chapters long, including the epilogue, and comes in at a bit over 87k, so my estimates about how much I had left to write were fairly accurate. Given I’m usually a bad judge of wordcount, that’s not too shabby.

draft finished

Another nice thing about this month: with the exception of day 1 when I was busy performing, I have written every single day. That’s huge for me. I don’t usually write every day even when I’m on top of things. I didn’t always write much, but I got something down every day. That’s not something I can maintain for long, but it was nice to have done it.

camp july wrote every day

Also, it’s a pretty cool day for me on this blog. It’s my eight-year anniversary of this blog being a thing WOO! This blog started out as primarily a writing blog when I was sixteen years old. Please don’t go looking for my old posts *shifty eyes*. I have changed a lot since then.

wordpress anniversary

Time for Twitter!

#WIPjoy day 18:

#WIPjoy day 19:

#WIPjoy day 20:

Edit: Here’s day 21 of #WIPjoy, since it’s the last day anyway.

The winner’s certificate:

I’ve managed to wrangle an excerpt from the epilogue that isn’t too spoilery, but it’s very short in order to manage that. I’m not gonna give context because the context is a big-ass spoiler in itself. So, enjoy what’s probably my favourite part of the epilogue: Eira and Tesana being girlfriends. Also, for anyone who read earlier stuff about Tesana, you might notice that I’ve finally decided on what she looks like:

Tesana and I slip away after a dessert of sweetened fruit yogurt—Huntsman has a pomegranate instead—and climb onto the roof. There are supposed to be fireworks tonight. We just missed them this time last year and neither of us have seen them before.

We cuddle under a blanket, watching the clear night sky. The others are heading out to the town square to watch the festivities close-up, but there’s something to be said for having a quiet night with the girl I love. It’s not often we get the whole neighbourhood to ourselves.

Tesana rests her chin on top of my head; I sometimes forget how tall she is. “I missed you.”

“I missed you.”

Her chest rumbles with a laugh. “Let’s not turn this into a game.”

“I could’ve said I missed you more.”

Do not.”

We wait. The night sky close to the town centre is washed out from the lights, but the stars are visible right above us. Little diamonds sparkling against the velvety black of night.

Then, a light shoots into the sky and shatters into a thousand golden sparkles, the air crackling and popping and hissing. More lights break the sky to pieces, in a rainbow of colours. Blue, red, green, the brightest purple I have ever seen.

My favourite remains the gold, though. The colour catches Tesana’s blonde hair and she glows like magic, her dark eyes glinting with delight. It’s hard to keep my focus on the fireworks when the girl beside me is a beacon of joy, a golden topaz of happiness.

I did have an extra paragraph but then I realised it was… you guessed it: a spoiler. Lucky I caught that.

I’m going to attempt to set this novel aside for a bit and let the objectivity sink in. I already have some revision ideas, so hopefully I can whip this thing into shape. There’s a lot I love about this story and I’d love to have this one published if it all works out.

Review: Ascension by Jacqueline Koyanagi

17751274Alana Quick is the best damned sky surgeon in Heliodor City, but repairing starship engines barely pays the bills. When the desperate crew of a cargo vessel stops by her shipyard looking for her spiritually advanced sister Nova, Alana stows away. Maybe her boldness will land her a long-term gig on the crew. But the Tangled Axon proves to be more than star-watching and plasma coils. The chief engineer thinks he’s a wolf. The pilot fades in and out of existence. The captain is all blond hair, boots, and ego . . . and Alana can’t keep her eyes off her. But there’s little time for romance: Nova’s in danger and someone will do anything–even destroying planets–to get their hands on her.

I was really excited to find this while I was looking for a book that had a protagonist with chronic pain for 2017’s Diversity Bingo. As a YA reader, I’m sometimes wary of reading books aimed at adults because they can often drag or have unnecessary sex scenes. This was not the case here. ASCENSION by Jacqueline Koyanagi is a tightly-paced read that somehow manages to balance lush descriptions, deep character relationships and an exciting plot.

I’m adding a new “details at a glance” component to my reviews. It’s unlikely I will apply this retroactively to preexisting reviews because I am a lazy person.

Details at a glance:

Title: Ascension

Series/Standalone: Seems like it’s supposed to be a series, but there are no other books

Author: Jacqueline Koyanagi

Genre: Science Fiction, Space Opera

First published: 2013

Format: ebook

Pairings: F/F, barely-there side M/F

Sexual content: One sex scene, others are implied

Rep: Impoverished, lesbian, disabled, black woman with locs and chronic illness & pain (fictional degenerative disorder); queer polyamorous LI with a prosthetic limb; queer polyamorous LI of LI, possibly Latina but unconfirmed; black supporting character with same chronic illness & pain as MC; supporting characters with science fiction disabilities; supporting black characters. There are also hints of unlabelled PTSD.

Ownvoices: No for black rep (author is Japanese-American), yes for polyamory, yes for PTSD, yes for chronic pain (author has fibromyalgia), possibly for queer rep as the author IDs as queer.

Unrelated to direct character rep, but worth noting: author is on the autism spectrum, in case anyone is looking for that.

Content warnings: Ableist language, suicidal ideation, dangerous weight loss and rhetoric (the word “anorexic” is used once but I don’t believe it’s a correct description), mass murder (deaths not directly witnessed), death of family members, body horror, detailed descriptions of chronic pain, apparent-but-not-real infidelity, trauma reactions that could be akin to PTSD.


Now, a lot of readers have complained that the plot gets shunted to the side in favour of developing character relationships. I didn’t find this to be a problem, personally, as the plot is neatly tied up anyway. It also seems this book may have been intended to be part of a series that hasn’t eventuated.

I really loved the detailed descriptions Koyanagi writes into this book, but I will admit I found some of them tiresome late in the book where the sentence structure started to feel a little same-y. It wasn’t a dealbreaker, but I did find myself skimming a little bit. The descriptions were definitely better-executed earlier in the story.

The protagonist, Alana Quick, is really a compelling character and her complicated relationships with family and starship crew are at the heart of this story. Two of her most important relationships are those with her spirit guide sister, Nova, and her love interest, Tev. Alana is stubborn and at times impatient, but she is a brilliant engineer with a spiritual connection to starships that she has been chasing her entire life. I wanted to shake her sometimes when she made downright terrible decisions, but just as often I admired her tenacity.

She and Nova are often at odds because of the different ways the two of their use their spiritual talents and their different approaches to life itself. Alana evidently feels that she has been set up as the lesser sibling, fed by her belief that her sister looks down on her for making different choices in life. Alana isn’t less talented than her sister because she chose to use her latent abilities for something else, and part of her journey throughout this novel is realising that. Being a sky surgeon is as much of a spiritual experience for Alana and being a spirit guide is for Nova.

TW for dangerous weight loss and what could be eating disorder rhetoric. Also, a little spoilery:

Part of the tension between the sisters comes from Nova’s spirit guide attitude towards her own flesh. I wanted to call it an eating disorder but I don’t think that’s quite the right word for it. Basically, Nova, like most spirit guides, believes in starving away her body so she can ascend to a higher plane of existence, leaving the trappings of her perfectly healthy mortal flesh behind. Obviously, Alana has several issues with this, in part because she doesn’t want to lose her sister and also in part because Alana herself has a degenerative physical illness and is therefore incredibly frustrated her sister is doing this to her own healthy body while Alana wants nothing more than to keep living.

I can’t really comment on how well this is all executed because I don’t have an eating disorder myself.

TW ends here.

I wanted to discuss the above in some detail so people with these triggers can decide whether they want to read this book or not. It’s extremely important to the plot so there’s no avoiding it entirely.

As I mentioned in the content warnings, there is also a smattering of casual ableist language, especially of the sanity-based variety. I’ve read worse, but still. It’s frustrating.

This book, however, is also a prime example of the great work that happens when authors are given a platform to write about themselves. Alana’s chronic pain is woven into the plot and absolutely influences her capacity to deal with problems that arise. She is beholden to medication to remain functional, but it’s not a magic cure that stops her from feeling any pain at all. The cause of Alana’s chronic pain is a fictional disease called Mel’s Disorder, but it’s clearly rooted in real experiences with pain. She is not cured through the process of this story, and the concept of a Magical Fantasy Cure, a trope that pops up in SFF sometimes, is thoroughly deconstructed as much of the plot revolves around taking down the story world’s equivalent of Big Pharma.

There is a lot to like about this book. The writing, the relationships, the unabashed queerness, the chronic pain rep. There are triggering elements, but if you’re okay reading them, this really is a good book.

#CampNaNoWriMo Day 17: 52.5k

Today was dedicated to writing Tesana’s section of the epilogue. I’ll probably have to write several versions, but I think I’m getting a better handle on what’s bothering me about it. I’m writing this original version anyway because there might be some things I can use in the improved versions.

I am dragging my feet a little bit on writing the end for two reasons: I don’t want it to end yet, and also winning doesn’t start for Camp for two more days. I normally update my wordcount the whole way through by validating, but Scrivener makes this impossible unless I copy-paste everything into a single scene or compile the damn thing into a document. If I’d known it was going to be this annoying, I probably would’ve been copy-pasting into a single extra scene from day one. But I didn’t and I can’t be bothered doing that yet. So, dawdling. Well, dawdling for my standards anyway.

My usual Twitter behaviour:

#WIPjoy day 17:

On the epilogue:

On how I’m slowly queering up every single character in this story:

So, again, everything is spoilers so I’m going to post part of Tesana’s first scene in the novel instead of something I wrote today. I think I’ve posted this before in the previous Camp NaNoWriMo in April, but I do what I want. Also, it’s in past tense because Tesana is originally living in a separate time period to Eira before they meet while both under a sleeping curse:

I never focused well on my last lesson of the day, knowing I would soon be holding court with my parents in the throne room. The imperial man trying to teach me his language usually gave up and set me free early on such days. It wasn’t that I didn’t care about learning the language of the people who might one day rule us, but sitting in a classroom conjugating verbs could not compare to speaking with the people who would one day be my subjects. I was the king’s only child, though I could never understand why my parents hadn’t tried for more. A male heir would likely be taken more seriously by the patriarchal empire than I would be.

“Something has angered the king,” a servant whispered to another, soft enough that I was evidently not expected to overhear as I passed them.

“Again?” whispered the other.

Father’s temper was famous throughout the kingdom. It would be easier to list what did not make him angry than what did. Poor harvest? Anger. Another black market uncovered in our trading port? Rage. The empire demanding our precious metals again?Private tirade before rolling over to their demands. They were bigger than us and could destroy us in a war if they so desired. Watching my ill-tempered father bite his tongue in front of their emissaries was both gratifying and worrying. If he was controlling himself, you knew the circumstances had to be dire. I didn’t want to inherit a pile of ashes for a kingdom.

True to form, Father was pacing the floor of the throne room. Our subjects were likely waiting in the receiving chamber just outside, so for now only my parents were present. The door I had used to enter was situated behind our tall thrones, hiding my presence. So I listened, just for a moment. If I had to rely only what people told me, I wouldn’t know anything at all.

“They have the gall to approach us publicly?” Father was ranting. “After what their queen did?”

“These fae tried to stop her,” Mother replied evenly, sitting calmly on her throne. Most of my features came from her—my dark brown curls, warm brown skin, round button nose. She was the daughter of a provincial governor from the empire, one of the first governors to have actually hailed from the province he oversaw.

“And failed. Were they my subjects, I would banish them from the realm.”

“We have learned not to anger the fae,” Mother kept arguing.

“Your father would be spinning in his grave if he heard you speaking like that, Lia.”

“Firstly, my father was cremated. Secondly, the empire has never faced the reality of the fae like we have. Treat them like the empire if it helps. They certainly have the same power to ruin us.”

Father sighed. “Very well. I will let them speak. But if they try anything…” I cleared my throat and he jerked to a stop, cheeks reddening. “Tesana, my child. How much did you overhear?”

#CampNaNoWriMo Day 16: 50.5k

So. That happened. Winning starts in three days so I haven’t bothered validating yet.

The main story is finished now. I just have the epilogue left, which will likely be a beast in length since both protagonists have a section when they typically have entire chapters to themselves. We’ll see what happens. I’m not completely sold on the epilogue I have planned but hopefully writing it out will give me some idea of what to do with it in revisions.

Time for Twitter:

#WIPjoy Day 16:

Another option for music is obviously Disney songs, given this is a retelling, but they don’t actually fit the mood of the story all that much.

I was actually at 50.5k at this point but wanted to finish the chapter before updating my wordcount.

Scrivener’s being an asshole and not letting me copy-paste the whole section I wanted to validate, so I guess I’ll wait until I actually have to validate when winning starts in like three days.

The excerpt situation is still tricky because, again, everything is spoilers this far into the novel. In celebration for hitting 50k, though, I’m going to share the first scene from the first chapter, back when everyone was still relatively happy without any idea what horrors I was about to inflict upon them.

It’s interesting to read over it now, since I still had no idea about certain plot twists I was going to use. It’s almost like reading something written by a younger, more innocent version of me.

This scene is from Eira’s perspective. It’s long so I’m sticking it under a readmore cut:

Continue reading

#CampNaNoWriMo Day 15

Edit: Forgot word count. It’s 47.5k today.
Today was a slow day on account of having a sick dog and yesterday’s tiredness but words happened anyway. I don’t mind too much that I’m slowing down at the moment since I don’t have much left of the story to write. It’s nice to savour it, at least a little, because I put it aside in preparation for the hellbeast that is revision.

I’m going to avoid posting an excerpt today because everything is spoilers and I’m having trouble finding bits from earlier in the story that I like enough to share, given I’ve shared a lot of the good parts already.

I have twittered:

#WIPjoy Day 15

And on some of my numerous plotholes:

I might have a better writing day tomorrow. We’ll see. In any case, I’m so close to winning anyway that as long as I write about 150 words a day for the rest of the month, I’ll make 50k. I generally write more than that even on my worst days. If I’m writing, I’m writing at least 500, generally speaking.

 

 

 

#CampNaNoWriMo Day 14: 45.9k

Today was a slower writing day for a few reasons. I didn’t get as much sleep as I would’ve liked and I had to get up in the morning. So I was pretty darn tired today, which always shoots my focus right into the seventh circle of hell.

But, hey, I got something written. I’ve been a lot better about writing every day for this writing even than I usually am. Burst writing sessions are great but they do wear me out sometimes.

I went overboard on Twitter today and am testing the limits of WordPress’s tolerance for my behaviour:

#WIPjoy day 14: Describe your protagonist’s personality using a gif.

#Fri1st: 1st line of your first chapter

Gem on Twitter started a thread of positive WIP questions so I responded:

1. What do you call your WIP here on the Twitters? How did it get that name? (If you don’t have a name, come up w one now. Or don’t)

2. When did you first get the idea for your WIP? Does it still look how you first imagined it?

3. Tell me about your MC(s). Visual art/aesthetics welcome.

4. Tell me about where your WIP takes place. Visual art/aesthetics welcome here too.

5. Where do you find inspiration for this WIP?

6. If you have any so far, tell me about the themes in this WIP. What issues does the story explore?

7. Has this story been fun? Painful? Both? Or something else?

8. Just for fun, imagine this WIP becoming a bestseller (if you want to publish it) and being adapted (if you want it to be).

9. If you’ve already written some of the actual story, post or describe one or more of your favorite lines

10. Describe your WIP in one tweet.

I’m going to pick an excerpt from earlier in the novel again because I’m near the end of writing it so everything is spoilers. So, this excerpt is set during the time Eira hides out at Argyle and Farlan’s cottage before Queen shows up to curse her:

Spending time in the cottage with these two men is actually quite pleasant. Argyle always has interesting stories to tell and Farlan has warmed to me considerably since our first meeting. Farlan is actually the one teaching me about the quirks of this particular cottage, how the well out back gets finicky in the cold and requires extra force to turn the wheel, which of the steps up to the two-bedroom second storey squeak louder than others, which cups are a moment of rough handling away from shattering to pieces.

Argyle, for his part, tells stories. They have a few days off before they have to return to the mines for their next shift, so he’s filling my head with as many tales as he can tell between bites of stew and fresh bread. Farlan nudges him every time he tries to talk with his mouth full.

“They used to make young children children work in the mines, you know,” Argyle tells me, swiping a chunk of bread through his bowl. “Horrible business. Not sure when it ended. Perhaps it died out when the monarchy did. Or maybe before. Who knows?” He rips off a chunk of bread with his teeth, chewing pointedly as Farlan threatens him with his elbow again. “My father worked the mines in his younger years. My brother didn’t inherit our dwarfism so he has to work in a different, larger set of tunnels. Less stable. Hence his recent injury. But he’s right as rain now.”

Farlan rolls his eyes. “This has ceased to be a story, Argyle.”

Argyle swats his shoulder. “I’m getting there. You see, now that children are no longer allowed in the mines, folk of a smaller stature are much sought-after to fill that void. I met Farlan, on the job, you know. A perfect match. Where else would we find men who work the same hours and understand the demands of the job?”

“I married once before,” Farlan says. “We lived in town on the other side of the mines, across the state border. He was some kind of administrator, you know the kind of work with regular weekly hours and a reasonable bedtime. It did not work out.”

“I imagine it would be like a thief marrying a town guard.” Argyle chuckles. “Though I suppose the fear there would be if they ended up arresting you.”

The thought of marrying a guard definitely doesn’t sound all that appealing. “I’m fond of serving girls myself, and the occasional errand boy who’s close to my age. They laugh at my bad jokes, at least.”

Argyle lifts his cup of strong-smelling liquor above his head. “What more could you need?”

“I don’t laugh at your jokes,” Farlan says.

“Oh, you chuckle a little.”

“Only at the funny ones.”

“Which is most of them.”

Farlan’s lips twitch but he heroically keeps his laughter from escaping.

#CampNaNoWriMo Day 13: 43.5k

So, I wrote a metric fuckton today. In fact, I’m writing this paragraph at a bit after four in the morning because I wrote 4.5k between the hours of midnight at 4:15 am. Why? Because I have no self control and do my best writing at weird-ass hours. Woo. Now I’m just dancing to my writing music while sitting in my chair because I am completely delirious omg why am I like this

Don’t answer that.

Anyway, what follows should be a little more normal. As normal as I ever am.

So, obviously that first 4.5k kind of steamrolled out of nowhere and all was fine. The rest of what I wrote today was a little harder to achieve, but me being a stubborn ass pays off once again.

I’ve set my Camp wordcount goal at 50k now, which is where it will be staying for the rest of the month. I’m estimating my total wordcount will be somewhere between 50k and 60k, judging from the amount I have left to write in this draft. I’m notoriously bad at consistent chapter lengths while outlining, though, so that is absolutely subject to change. Maybe one of the chapters I have left will end up being a monster in length or way shorter than expected. Time will tell.

I’m at the true pointy end of the plot now, partway through chapter 20 out of 23, including the epilogue. I’m having to make a lot of notes in the Scrivener notes section for things I’m going to have to work on foreshadowing when I get to the revision stage. I have made up a lot of things on the fly that need to be better seeded into the narrative. Oops.

Still, first drafts generally suck anyway. I still like what I’m doing even if it’s more of a lump of a coal than a diamond at this point.

Twitterness:

#WIPjoy:

Wordcount stuff:

IT’S SUCH A GAY MASTERPIECE OF A MUSIC VIDEO OKAY

Because I don’t know when to quit at bullshit o’clock in the morning:

#Thurds: theme is “pick”

I’m not religious but I think Satan is on my case:

In this excerpt, Eira is about to attempt something extremely dangerous. The next section is a little spoilery for stuff so I had to end it before it got to my favourite line in the scene so I’m just gonna write it here because it is just so Eira: “When I die, it will not be by drowning. That’s just embarrassing.”

Anyway, scene:

I skirt along the forest’s edge as far as it can go before the ground gets too unstable so close to the sea. There is a tunnel set just below the level of the wall against the sea, constructed to look like a sewer with metal bars covering the entrance. But it’s actually a gate.

The problem is, at this time of night, that gate will be completely underwater and won’t drain out until late tomorrow morning. There’s no time. I’ll have to swim out to the tunnel, swim inside, open the gate and then swim to the stairs that will lead me out of the water.

I kick off my boots and shuck off my long-sleeved leather vest. I left enough knives behind that I can stash the remainders in the holsters on my legs and a pair strapped underneath my shirt.

This better pay off. If I end up on the run from my father and don’t have time to change into dry clothes, this is going to be a long, freezing night. I’m already shivering.

I peer out from the tree cover. I can barely see one of the guards around the curve of the city walls, looming over us like a hungry beast. If I run for the water, he shouldn’t see me.

I rub my arms and take in a deep breath. Okay. Let’s do this.

I break cover, racing for the coast, measuring my breaths best I can. I’ll need as much air as I can get once I’m underwater and the last thing I need is to be gasping before I’m even swimming. The rocky sand bites the soles of my feet but I keep running. Pain is temporary and the salt water will clean any cuts I might get from this.

The salt water licks my feet and I plunge in, picking up my legs best I can to avoid getting bogged down and exposed before I reach water deep enough for swimming. The rock-stand falls away from my feet and I pitch forward, kicking my legs and flailing my arms a little less gracefully than I would’ve liked. But my head stays mostly above water and I’m swimming.

I stroke towards the wall. There’s no real reason to post guards out this side, even if the tops of the wall weren’t too degraded for someone without supreme balance, so I should be in the clear. I hope I am. It’s not like I can defend myself all that well while I’m floating in the brine like this.

The section of wall I’m looking for is damaged, a long vertical scar cutting into the brick. The moon is just bright enough to spot it. I swim slowly towards it, one hand below the surface of the water to feel for the top lip of the fake sewer entrance. The top should be just below the surface, not that it will be any comfort once I’m in there and cloaked in complete darkness.

My hand meets stone. Here we are. I climb on top and sit on the edge, teeth chattering in the cold as I try to catch my breath. I will have to be completely calm once I’m in the tunnel. The dark underwater tunnel. Fuck.

I’ve done my share of dangerous jobs. Feared for my life many times. I tip my head up to the moonlit sky, close my eyes and just… breathe.

#CampNaNoWriMo Day 12: 37k

This is probably the best writing day I’ve had since those first couple days of the month. I was actually thinking about squeezing another thousand words in before midnight, considering I managed the last 500 in roughly ten minutes, but decided to save those words for after midnight ticks over so I’ve got some momentum in the scene I’m currently writing.

I’m in a tiny lull between massive plot points, but I do think it’s an important section even if it’s not as exciting as what comes before and after. The scene I’m currently writing is important for character relationships and tying up some dangling plot threads. I actually like these kinds of lull periods the best while writing, I think. Fewer expectations and more room to let things breathe. I don’t know what I’m talking about, but it sounds smart.

My usual Twitter behaviour:

#WIPjoy

Tweeted this in the early hours of this morning, right after I finished chapter 18. Because sleeping at normal times is for chumps:

#1LineWed: Theme is “stubborn”

The excerpt I’ve chosen is part of a conversation between Tesana and her mother late in the novel, which I’m still in the middle of writing:

Mother takes my hand. “Shall we talk, Tesana? We have much to discuss.”

We leave Father to whatever worrying thoughts he has and head to Eira’s room. She’s gone out for a walk with Huntsman for a bit, so it’s the best place to speak privately for the moment.

“You have yet to tell us the story of how we all woke up,” Mother says, sitting on Eira’s bed.

“Everything has been hectic,” I reply. Which is true—I feel like I haven’t stopped moving since I woke up from my hundred-year sleep—but I haven’t exactly looked forward to telling my parents about Eira. That is, if they haven’t figured it out already. They have enough evidence, but there was a lot happening at the time.

“Was it that Eira girl?”

I should’ve known better than to think anything would escape my mother’s notice for long. I nod.

“She seems nice… for a thief.”

And yet another thing I am not excited to discuss: the fact my girlfriend is a criminal. I don’t know how to make that palatable to my mother, given that I mostly try not to think about it, which is perhaps not the best way to handle our circumstances.

“It’s all she’s ever known,” I say. “Her father had few opportunities as a child and the thieves guild was one of the few places that could help him survive. It seems many of our less fortunate must resort to extreme methods just to stay alive, even back in the days when we held the power.”

“You have thought about this.”

“Daily.”

“You do have a point. I don’t like it, but I understand not everyone has the same opportunities we have. Had.” Mother sighs, gazing around the little room. “You said this is Eira’s room?”

“She’s been gone a year,” I remind her. The tiny room has been hastily wiped down with a damp cloth—apparently dusting is particularly unpleasant this far underground—and the sheets were replaced with fresh ones, but the clothes in her drawers have remained untouched. Eira took one look at them last night, declared she was too tired to even think about washing them and fell into bed instead.

Mother is in a nosy mood. She sticks her head in the skinny closet and sorts through the few gowns hanging there.

“Some of these are quite fine,” she says.

“They’re mostly gifts,” I reply. “Apparently the guild maintains relationships with a few of the merchant princes well enough that they know the guildmaster has a daughter.” Eira hasn’t told me too much about the guild, but she did drop bits and pieces during our time in the dream together.

“The merchant princes have better taste than I expected.” She winces at a shocking pink gown right in the corner, too pink even for me… and I love pink. “Except for whoever sent that one.” She crosses to the dressing table.

“Mother,” I complain.

“What? I’d like to learn everything I can about the girl who stole my daughter’s heart.” She grins at me. “Was that a good joke? She’s a thief, and she stole your… never mind. You clearly inherited your father’s sense of humour.”