#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.”

Thoughts on Being Grey Ace

Do you ever have those thoughts when you’re lying in bed late at night that are far more coherent than anything you can think up during the day? This is me trying to recall some of that, and probably failing a bit.

I was nearly twenty when I figured out the whole ‘being bisexual’ thing, but it’s only this year, at twenty-four years of age, that I’m starting to get the hang of the fact I might also be somewhere on the asexual spectrum. And probably the aromantic spectrum, too. It’s not all that easy for me to discern the difference when it comes to my own attraction. I think I’ve made some progress, but it’s shaky at best.

I’ve been wondering about being grey ace and grey aro for a while now, but descriptions from asexual organisations have never quite matched up to my reality because I don’t know if “rarely” is the correct word for how often I experience attraction because it’s not strictly a one in a blue moon occurrence the way it’s sometimes made out to be and I have had crushes on multiple people at once before.

The way it works for me is that I tend to only develop attraction under specific circumstances. I struggled even more so while looking up demisexuality and demiromanticism, because I don’t strictly need to have formed a close connection with a person to develop attraction.

I did ponder possibly being demi for a bit, since I don’t tend to be outright attracted to strangers, however the point where it all falls down is the close part. Because I don’t strictly need to be close to a person to experience attraction, but I do need to have been around them a fair bit and gotten to know their personality. This is how I’ve developed crushes on classmates. I tend to really really want to hang out with someone first and possibly appreciate the way they look in a more abstract manner (i.e. aesthetic attraction), but not be strictly interested in romance or sex with them. Then, when I’ve been around them long enough, I start developing romantic attraction and then, sometimes, sexual attraction.

So, for me, it seems to go: aesthetic attraction -> romantic attraction -> sexual attraction.

I am so extremely new to this and kind of still in the ‘what if I’m faking’ stage. I already went through that with my bisexuality so it’s pretty fucking annoying that I have to deal with this again, but here we are. [TMI HERE: It probably doesn’t help that I do sometimes get aroused by sexual situations regardless of attraction, which just muddled my brain further on all this. But aces and aros can experience arousal anyway, so… fuck that confusion, mate. END TMI]

Being grey aroace does explain a lot, though. Such as the good old-fashioned “who’s your celebrity crush” question. I always struggle to answer it because people just do not accept “I don’t think I have a celebrity crush” as a real answer. I once answered Martin Freeman because, I don’t know, he as his character in Sherlock at the time seemed kinda cuddly with all the knitted jumpers he wore. But I don’t think I was ever actually crushing on him?? Anyway, he called Lucy Liu a dog, among other shit, so I don’t even like him in any way at this point.

Sidenote: Lucy Liu is definitely someone whose face I like and I wouldn’t say no to hanging out with, but I wouldn’t even strictly call her a crush either. Aesthetic attraction is definitely a thing when I look at her, though. Her face makes me smile, so that’s probably as close to a celebrity crush as I tend to get.

That’s a thing that happens to me a lot. I like seeing good-looking people because they make me happy, not really because I’m romantically or sexually attracted to them per se. My favourite photos of people tend to be ones where they’re smiling rather than just posing. I can appreciate those photos as well; I just connect to smiles better on a personal level. My favourites are probably photosets that have both kinds of photos in them, because I tend to appreciate each type more when it’s in opposition to the other type. But that contrast thing probably isn’t even an ace thing. It’s more likely just a me thing.

I also really struggle to feign interest when people show me pictures of people they’re attracted to. I just… don’t really care and probably accidentally offend people sometimes. Given I’ve been training in live theatre since I was a kid, you’d think I’d be better at pretending in order to conserve people’s feelings, but I’m actually a shit liar.

I’ve also mistaken aesthetic attraction for sexual and romantic attraction on so many occasions because, up until recently, I didn’t even know there was a difference. I also have a lot of fun joining in raunchy banter, which definitely didn’t help me come to terms with this shit. It’s only recently that I’ve realised that just looking at random people doesn’t strictly tickle my ivories in the same way it does for allosexuals. And, yes, I constructed that sentence purely because I wanted to say “tickle my ivories.” I played piano for over a decade. Let me live.

There’s an interesting parallel between me realising my bisexuality and me realising my grey aroaceness. I realised I was bi because a friend who I thought was straight said she was, and that lit a lightbulb in my brain. Similarly, I’ve had a lot of online friends come out as grey ace and aro, and sometimes they’ve spoken about it and that’s helped me get my brain around this whole thing.

So, it would seem I’m both bisexual (and biromantic) and grey aroace. Grey aroace still feels weird to say for me and I feel closer to the term grey ace, but I do think grey aroace is technically correct for the way my attractions work. So I might use the terms interchangeably and possibly confuse people. Sorry!

Furthermore, my sexual attraction does tend to be dependent on experiencing romantic attraction first. It’s starting to sink in and it’s given me a whole new understanding of how my brain has been working over the course of my life, i.e. a generally small number of crushes on people but not so few that it was obvious to me. I’m somewhat adjacent to demisexuality but not quite on that level as I understand it. Possibly incorrectly. I don’t know.

Honestly, most of my life I’ve just thought I was weird or, as a kid, a late bloomer. Nah. I’m just on the asexual and aromantic spectrums. It’s going to take a while for it to sink in, but at least some shit has started to make sense.

And now I need to shut up before I tie myself up in knots trying to write out my thoughts when I’ve more or less said what I wanted to say. I’ve already written more than 1000 words so… now’s the time to stop. I have a novel to write anyway.

#CampNaNoWriMo Day 11: 33k

Today started off slow and I ended up procrastinating for the early-morning writing period by creating my review index and updating my “about me” page. Oops.

It ended up being a decent day of writing, even though I’m not totally impressed with the way things have turned out. I definitely need to describe things more and probably draw myself some (really bad) maps so I can get my head on straight next time I look at those parts.

I’ve reached one of the final confrontations, but there are more to come. I’m not very good at only having one climax. Oops again.

Twitter nonsense:

#WIPjoy day 11:

And for shits and gigs I did a WIP aesthetic. Here’s a bigger version than the one you’ll see on Twitter:

Snow White Sleeping Beauty Aesthetic

I just really wanted to use this word:

#TuesTropes. I’ll let the person who chose the theme explain in their tweet:

My response for it is the Fairy Queen:

All my writing for today is spoilery as heck, so I’m going to pick something from earlier in the story. While what I’m sharing is a turning point, it’s not really a plot twist since we all know it was going to happen anyway.

This is back when Princess Tesana was still narrating in past tense. She has been staying at a cottage with the three good fairies who are protecting her from the Fairy Queen’s curse. Anyway, watch me struggle to describe a spinning wheel and how it works:

I slipped out the door and stepped onto the grass, lifting my skirts until I could be sure the grass wasn’t overly dewy. It wouldn’t do to ruin the lovely dress the fairies had made for me.

A tiny point of light glimmered between the trees and I found myself drawn to it, moving before I had even decided whether I would. A strange sort of calm washed over me. Nothing that pretty could be dangerous, surely.

I followed the light into the woods and along a narrow path, oddly devoid of twigs and mud or even animals, until it opened up into another clearing.

A woman in a tattered brown cloak sat on a little wooden stool before some kind of wheeled contraption. I had never seen such a thing before. The woman’s hand turned the wheel, which pulled some kind of string from a clump of hair-like material tied onto a long vertical staff. The string collected on some kind of horizontal spike, or stick, and the woman pulled her arm horizontally to draw it out from the staff and then vertically to wrap it around the stick.

The woman paused in her work, smiling up at me. Her face, barely visible beneath her hood despite the warmth of the day, was lined and pale. But her eyes were a bright green.

“Hello, young lady,” she said. “What brings you to my part of the woods?”

The light that had led me here was long gone and I was left with the distinct impression that I had been the only person who had seen it. I had no good explanation for my presence, especially given I was not dressed as the sort of girl who would willingly walk into a forest by herself. I wasn’t entirely sure I had come here willingly at all.

“Um, well…”

“Oh, never mind that,” said the old woman. “Come. Sit with me a while.”

Well, I was here anyway. The old woman shifted on her stool until I could just squeeze on. She continued turning the wheel and pulling the thread.

“What are you doing?” I asked. “I have never seen such a thing before.”

“I am spinning flax into linen to take to market, my child. Would you like to try?”

“Well, I suppose…”

The woman stopped her turning and passed the string to my hand. “We will take it slow. Pull the fibers until your arm is extended. Then lift your arm and allow the thread to wrap around the spindle. I’ll turn the wheel for you.”

I pulled my arm back, but I think I pulled too hard, because the string on the spindle and the fibers on the tall staff separated. The old woman stopped turning, but the string had unravelled from the spindle a little bit.

“Nothing to worry about,” she said. “Best you pick that up. My back isn’t the way it used to be.”

I leaned down, searching for the end of the thread. The old woman shifted her weight and I lost my balance, reaching out for the first thing to grab hold of. The very sharp, very metal spindle.

The sharp end jabbed my thumb and blood dripped from the wound. I wasn’t—I had never been—blood wasn’t something that upset me… but I felt oddly dizzy.

The old woman caught me before I fell off the stool, her hood falling back and robes turning to leaves. The woman’s features sharpened and her hair sucked the brightness out of the air around her.

The Fairy Queen lowered me to the ground. “Ah, Princess Tesana. Such a naive little thing.”

“What—what is this?” My limbs were heavy. I couldn’t lift my head. Air would not enter my body.

“Listen well, Princess. You have little time left.” The Fairy Queen knelt beside me. “When you were a baby, your parents neglected to invite me to your Naming Day, while the other fairies of the land were. Such a slight could not be ignored. I laid a curse upon you. On the day of your sixteenth birthday, you would prick your finger on a spindle and die.”

My heart beat harder in response, as if it could outrun the magic. I would never see Rhian again. The world already sounded as distant as it had that day I fell into the water in the port city. I was dimly aware of pain shooting from my finger, throughout the rest of my body, but it was muted somehow. Is this what dying felt like?

“I believe your smallest fairy friend altered my curse so you would fall into a deep sleep instead,” said the Fairy Queen. I had to strain to hear her. She leaned down, her breath brushing my ear. “Regardless, I think my point has been made. I do not abide disrespect. And you, innocent child, would not have been nearly as easy to lure if your parents had thought to tell you all this.” She stroked my cheek. “Now sleep, little girl. The world will be much changed if you ever wake again.”

My eyelids were too heavy. I let them fall.

 

#CampNaNoWriMo Day 10: 30.5k

Today was a better day for writing so I hit my new 30k goal without too much trouble, so up the goal goes again. We’re starting to get into the really serious endgame plot stuff and I’ve passed the 60k mark in the draft as a whole.

I need to come up with a name for a certain character’s father but I can’t be bothered doing it right now, so I’m just gonna keep calling him “the jeweller.” I probably would’ve named him early on if I’d realised he’d show up again while drafting originally, but I only had a partial outline at that point and finished outlining after I’d written a whole chunk of stuff. So *shrugs*

#WIPjoy day 10: Dish about a favourite side character! What role do they play? Why do you love them?

Here’s today’s excerpt. The character Inira is one of Eira’s friends and informants. She’s a serving girl in an out-of-the-way tavern Eira, Huntsman, Tesana, Argyle and Farlan are hiding in for the night.

Inira returns to populate the table with heavenly-smelling dishes. I’m already mentally tasting the smoked salmon dish and the spiced mushroom and leek broth. There’s an onion and egg pie that I wouldn’t mind eating, too—I find eggs less weird to eat than chickens themselves. There’s also a venison dish, but I’m not going to touch that. From the look on Tesana’s face, she’s of the same mind.

We crowd around the table while Inira sets out plates and bowls and cutlery, the full covert rich person treatment. We start ladling and cutting out our portions.

“We have a new shipment of wine, just in from our friends across the brine,” she says, deliberately setting my knife askew. “I’m sure the boss won’t notice if a bottle or two goes missing.”

“No, thank you,” Huntsman answers.

“Ooh, you’re all business tonight.” She bumps my shoulder with her hip. “I’m not used to that coming from this fine lady right here.”

“I’ll be back to my old tricks soon enough,” I reply. “Being serious all the time is so boring.”

“Well, the next time you feel like having a bit of fun, you know where to find me. Hah!” She pinches my cheek. “Don’t tire yourself out on all this seriousness, gorgeous.”

I grin up at her. “No promises. Give your brother my best.”

“Your best what?” She snickers behind her hand. “You never did give him that good time you promised him.”

“I believe my exact words were fuck you, I’m not stealing anything else until you pay your fee from the last time,” I reply. “Not my fault he took it as an invitation. Now that I think of it, he still owes me money. Don’t send him my best. Send him Huntsman.”

“I’m not getting involved in this,” Huntsman says, already halfway through his slice of pie.

“Smart man,” says Inira. “I best get back to work. Don’t have too much fun without—oh wait, you’re not having any fun at all.”

“While we’re being serious, could you get your brother to bring the black market jeweller here?” I ask. “We need to have a word with him, but no one can know he’s coming here.”

“We have a codeword,” Argyle says. “If he tells my father he prefers pearls over diamonds, he’ll know it’s me.”

“Good thinking,” I say. “Pretty please, Irina?”

“I’ve got you covered.” She blows me a kiss and heads out.

Tesana takes a prim little sip of broth from her spoon, before she sets it down and angles her body towards me. “So.”

“So?”

“What the fae was all that about?”

“What do you—oh, right. The flirting.”

“Yes. The flirting.”

“For the record, I don’t want to be involved in this conversation, either,” Huntsman says. “Before you get any ideas.”

“She’s just a friend,” I promise Tesana. “The serving girls and errand boys of the city respond well to a bit of bawdiness that isn’t about to go anywhere out of their control. Makes a nice change from all the creepy sailors and self-important administrators they deal with on a daily basis. I’m not going to run off with anyone. I just like the wordplay. I promise.”

Tesana picks up her spoon and goes back to her meal, but she’s still upset. I can feel it coming off her in waves.

“I’ll tone it down in the future,” I tell her. “I love you.”

“I know,” she mutters, swirling her spoon through the broth.

#CampNaNoWriMo Day 9: 27k

Ta da. My first kinda shitty day. I was waiting for this to happen. The words I did get down came from sheer force of will. Huzzah. It’s still a decent wordcount, but I had to make that happen and I feel kinda gross.

I kinda want to play more Mass Effect Andromeda or Saints Row: the Third instead of writing, but I had to get something down first. I think I left my motivation in my other pyjamas…

Twitter nonsense:

#WIPjoy:

#SunWIP: Theme is “clarity”

Excerpt:

I head towards the city wall. There’s a tunnel drilled into it, hidden behind some rotting tree stumps. I planted some seedlings a few years back to keep concealing it in the event those stumps finally rot away into nothingness.

Those seedlings are as tall as I am now. There’s something invigorating about seeing something you planted grow. I pat the trunks as I slip past them.

The hole in the wall is a tight squeeze at first. Very few members of the guild know about it and even fewer can fit into it comfortably. Dad and Huntsman used to sneak through it as children and passed it onto me. Huntsman can technically get through but it’s not pleasant. He’ll just have to suck it up for today.

The hole widens after the initial squeeze into a crawling-sized tunnel. I come here every so often and clear out the moss and other gross shit that collects in here, but I haven’t been here in over a year. My hands are already covered in slime. Ugh.

I make it out to the other side and onto the sparse grass that has been drowned in saltwater during the various city floods. I scurry down the slope and rinse my hands off in the water before following the shard of land to the one building that sits on it.

I wipe my feet best I can on the coarse mat set beside the wooden door and then step inside. The warmth nearly knocks the breath clean out of my body. There are only a few patrons seated at the wooden tables crammed into the tight space. This tavern is a little out of the way for most people, hence its popularity among those whose reputations can’t take the hit from admitting their vices publicly.

“Haven’t seen you in a while, sugar.” The dark-eyed girl cleaning a table throws me a wink. “Looking for something specific?”

I lean into her ear. “I have a few friends who need somewhere to stay for the night. Are the private suites free?”

“You’re in luck, hon. Our previous tenants cleared out last night.”

I slip her a few coins, forever thankful that Huntsman thought to grab some before he fled the city. “Perfect. I’ll be back in a few minutes. Don’t breathe a word of this to anyone.”

“I am the very model of discretion… in more ways than one.”

“The fine people of the city appreciate your many services, my lady.” I give her an exaggerated bow and hurry back out the way I came. The town guard shouldn’t be patrolling the area I left everyone for another hour or so, but it never hurts to be cautious.

I race back there in record time. “We have a place.”

“That was fast,” Tesana says.

“It’s not far, and the serving girl on duty knows me.”

I don’t miss the way Tesana raises an eyebrow at that, but there’s no time to address it right now. We need to get out of the open.

I takes a little longer than I would’ve liked to get everyone through the tunnel. It’s an uncomfortable fit for both Huntsman and Tesana and I’m left waiting ahead of everyone with no real cover. If this area were any more populated, one of Queen’s agents probably would’ve seen me.

Just as well she doesn’t care about this area.

The Mid-Year Book Freakout Tag

I saw this thing making its way around the blogosphere and decided to give it a try. I mean, Taryn did technically tag me in hers. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2017

I’m going to cheat and pick two books that I really enjoyed, one of which is a new release and another which has been around for a little while.

26626118HOW TO MAKE A WISH by Ashley Herring-Blake is absolutely wonderful. I was fortunate enough to read an ARC before it came out.

I mean, a bisexual protagonist with a biracial lesbian LI? A pianist and ballet dancer falling in love? Complicated family relationships? Strong friendships? What the heck isn’t there to love in this book?

My review is literally just me gushing about it for a few hundred words and I have zero regrets. I want everyone to read this book.29975820

The other favourite book this year (and that doesn’t mean there weren’t others I really loved too), is SIX OF CROWS. I jumped on the bandwagon extremely late and I won’t get to read CROOKED KINGDOM for a while yet so please don’t spoil me!!

I think this book is best described by a line I wrote in my review:

Most of us know SIX OF CROWS is a fantasy heist novel populated by lovable assholes.

Also, you know a book is good when the m/f pairings don’t annoy the piss out of me.

2. Your favourite sequel of 2017

I don’t think I’ve read any sequels yet this year, but I have NOW I RISE by Kiersten White sitting on my bedside table waiting for me to pick it up. I’m going to talk about it later on in this post so I won’t bless your eyes with the glory of the UK cover yet.

3. A new release you haven’t read but want to

29283884I’ve been looking forward to THE GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE for most of the year, but sadly I won’t get to read it for a while because I have to prioritise getting my hands on books for the Diversity Bingo, and my local library doesn’t have very many diverse books that are written after, like 2008 or so, especially if they’re not by Australian authors.

I’ve read the excerpts posted in advance and really enjoyed them so hopefully I’ll be able to get my hands on it later in the year.

Why is money a thing? Honestly. It ruins everything and yet we can’t function in this society without it. Boo, capitalism.

(I have more issues with capitalism than merely the fact it prevents me from getting my hands on books I want. That just happens to be a side-effect. Please buy books or get them from the library. Authors need to survive in this capitalist hellhole of a society as much as we do.)

4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

I’m going to cheat again and pick two, because I want both of them already, dammit.

28526192Everything about 27 HOURS sounds freaking amazing. A super diverse queer cast set in a science fiction universe is, honestly, what draws me to it far more readily than the blurb. But the blurb’s also pretty exciting in and of itself.

Queer kids fighting monsters is what I need in my life, like right now.

I also really love Tristina as a person and follow her on Twitter. She’s a sweetheart.

The other book I’m really anticipating is WILD BEAUTY. I33158561 mean, that cover alone should make you excited. It’s a thing of… well, beauty.

While the blurb doesn’t really give this away, I have also been informed that the book is extremely gay. And… I’m sold.

I’m looking forward to the bi rep, and I always love seeing Latinx ownvoices books. Some readers whose opinions I trust have already read ARCs of this and are raving about it.

I’m hoping to get e-ARCs of these two at some point. WILD BEAUTY is a “wish for” entry on Netgalley at the moment, so hopefully it’ll be available properly in due time.

5. Your biggest disappointment

28003097GEORGIA PEACHES AND OTHER FORBIDDEN FRUIT was a book I was really looking forward to reading. And then I did… and it was a bigoted mess.

I actually get angry every time I think of it or see someone recommending it on social media. Like… have you even read it?

How am I, a white Australian, one of the few people who noticed how downright racist it is? Not to mention the ableist treatment thrown at an intellectually disabled character. And the casual bimisia/biphobia.

It’s just such a mess and a real waste of a pretty cover. My copy is still lying around the house because I don’t know what to do with it. I don’t want to donate it to the library and expose more people to it.

Just… read my review. I don’t want to talk about it anymore.

Dishonourable mention goes to Meg & Linus for being a bi-erasurey mess.

6. Biggest surprise of the year

the epic crush of genie loA lot of my friends were gushing about THE EPIC CRUSH OF GENIE LO so I requested it on Netgalley. I was initially underwhelmed and kinda wanted to DNF, but I don’t like DNF-ing especially when it’s an arc, so I kept reading.

And I was pleasantly surprised. After a rocky start, Genie’s hilarious voice really took over and I came to care a great deal about the characters. I still wanted Quentin to get punched a little bit, but I think that’s just a natural reaction he inspires in people. I also didn’t see the plot twist coming at all, though in hindsight I probably should have.

I am not very observant.

7. Fave new to you or debut author

How the heck can I pick this? Most of the authors I’ve read this year are new to me and I typically pick my favourite books rather than favourite authors, because I vastly prefer to read m/m and f/f rather than m/f and most of the authors who are candidates for a favourite tend to write a variety of pairings.

So I’ll just narrow it down to a few authors:

  • Ashley Herring-Blake
  • Austin Chant (whose first solo work released this year)
  • Leigh Bardugo
  • Zoraida Córdova
  • Angie Thomas

8. Your new fictional crush

32146161I don’t really get fictional crushes these days *laughs in grey-ace/grey-aro/whatever the heck I am* but I do find myself mentally adopting characters as my children. It doesn’t matter if they’re older than me. They’re my children now.

That’s what has happened to both Kieran and Seth in COFFEE BOY. What do you mean Seth is roughly a decade older than me? I don’t care. He and Kieran are both my children now.

Anyway, here’s Wonderwall–I mean, here’s my review of COFFEE BOY.

Honourable mentions go to the vast majority of the SIX OF CROWS cast, and Grace and Eva from HOW TO MAKE A WISH.

9. New favourite character

There were a lot of candidates. Starr from THE HATE U GIVE. Alex and Rishi from LABYRINTH LOST. Grace and Eva from HOW TO MAKE A WISH.

But, I had to go with Kaz Brekker from SIX OF CROWS. What a douchebag he is. And yet, what a compelling character he is to read. I’d call him a jerk with a heart of gold but he’d probably just find a way to get the gold extracted to make some extra cash. He’s also really bad at dealing with caring about people. That’s relatable, man, even if it’s a little more extreme in his case.

I also admire his determination and, like pretty much everyone who reads SIX OF CROWS, am remarkably sad about what happened in his past and wonder what kind of person he would’ve been if he hadn’t had everything ripped away from him in such a horrible fashion.

I also really love Nina, Jesper and Inej from that book as well.

10. A book that made you cry

32613366I’m not really a huge crier when it comes to reading. The last time I had a huge cry over a book was 12 years ago when I was a twelve-year-old reading Dumbledore’s funeral. So, for this question, I’ll just pick a book that had a huge emotional impact on me instead.

It’s been a while since I read THE HATE U GIVE, but I remember having a huge “oh shit” moment when I realised the moment described in the blurb was about to happen.

This book is heartbreakingly real because everything that happens within it is something that happens in real life to real people.

This book was sorely needed and I’m so glad it’s still on the NYT bestseller list because it deserves to be there. People need to keep reading and talking about this book. Racialised police brutality is still ongoing and we cannot sweep it under the rug while black children are being murdered in the streets.

I did write a review, though I would recommend seeking out ownvoices reviewers as well.

11. A book that made you happy

27969081I read LABYRINTH LOST early in the year and was really into it for a variety of reasons. I was excited to read a fantasy based on Latin-American traditions and for there to be some bi rep.

While Zoraida Córdova herself is heterosexual, I was really impressed with the way she treated Alex’s bisexuality. As in, she didn’t pull the same stereotypical bullshit I’ve seen from other authors… even other queer authors. Now, the word bisexual isn’t used because Alex is still figuring stuff out, but I’m fairly optimistic for future books in the series.

I also really love the writing style and was pleased to find that a character who did something pretty much unforgivable hasn’t been easily, well, forgiven like a lot of #BookBoyfriends tend to be.

It was just a really fun read, even with the creepy dead people.

Here’s my review.

12. Fave book to movie adaptation you’ve seen this year

I don’t think I’ve seen any this year. I haven’t been to the cinema in what feels like forever.

13. Favourite post you’ve written this year

I missed this question so I’m editing this post to add it.

I’m most proud of my trio of posts about how not to be a dick to bisexuals, because they took forever to write and are fucking important because a lot of writers still haven’t gotten the memo. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

14. Most beautiful book you’ve bought/received

32491708Mum just bought me a copy of NOW I RISE from the local bookstore. Look at this cover. It’s a thing of beauty. I also love the fact that Lada, the protagonist, definitely looks like she wants to murder everyone who dares gaze upon her, which is… pretty much in character for her, really.

I really want more covers like this to happen, especially for ownvoices books. Lada’s brother Radu, also a POV character, is gay, though obviously Kiersten is a woman so it’s not ownvoices, even though I’m not 100% sure how she identifies. In any case, I wanna see some more cool painted shit like this.

I need to read this soon, but I want to work my way through the book I’m reading at the moment first. It’s taking me a while, but I’ll get there eventually.

15. What are some books you need to read before the end of the year?

I’m not even going to try to list the covers for all these. I imagine my WordPress is freaking out at me enough already.

So, these are some of the books I really need to read before the end of the year:

  • CHAMELEON MOON by RoAnna Sylver
  • NOW I RISE by Kiersten White
  • 27 HOURS by Tristina Wright
  • WILD BEAUTY by Anna-Marie McLemore
  • UNDER THE UDALA TREES by Chinelo Okparanta
  • ANOTHER WORD FOR HAPPY by Agay Llanera
  • SAINTS AND MISFITS by S.K. Ali
  • SHADOWSHAPER by Daniel José Older
  • THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR by Nicola Yoon
  • REDEFINING REALNESS by Janet Mock

I always feel weird tagging specific people in these things so, if you’re reading this and haven’t already done the book tag, I TAG YOU.

#CampNaNoWriMo Day 8: 25k

I played Saints Row in the early hours of the day instead of working on my WIP, so I didn’t really expect to hit 25k today but then OOPS I did anyway.

I’m going to spend a few minutes basking in my wordcount before I up the goal to 30k. I like this 5k increments thing I’m doing. It makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something and I don’t feel like the next threshold is a million miles away.

I’m jotting things down in Scrivener’s notes section as I go along, mostly of pressure points that might cause problems in the story. There’s a potential plothole I’ll need to address at some point, and also an issue regarding the bisexual rep. There are multiple bi characters (at least four, I’m thinking), but the villain is the only one who’s had much sexual experience. I’ll have to do something about that. I might make another character mention she’s had experience prior to her politically-based marriage, which might help, and her marriage does break down at some point so I can probably have her having a little fun after that as well. Something I need to think about some more. I don’t want to unintentionally harm my fellow bisexuals.

I also have a minor nonbinary character now. I needed an innkeeper character for this one scene and thought… why not? I don’t think it’s tokenistic but I could be misjudging. I’ll probably reach out to some enby friends at some point just to see what they think.

Twitter posts:

#WIPjoy Day 8:

Excerpt. I think the context is pretty clear without another long-winded explanation from me:

We take a fork in the road that leads us away from the direction we need to go, but there’s a newer sign tacked onto the ancient signpost that tells us there’s an inn out that way. Farlan, Argyle, Huntsman and I haven’t slept in a proper bed for a bit, and it seems rather cruel to make Tesana camp out on the ground for possibly the first time in her life when she’s literally just woken up from a century-long fairy curse.

So, to the inn we go.

There’s a small town surrounding it, though are definitely more people out and about than there are houses to accommodate them. We work our way through the main street, which is directly connected to the road. Huntsman, as tall as he is, parts the crowd with ease for the rest of us.

The town centre is full of stalls and sizzling hot plates that send delicious smells through the air, cutting through the general sweaty stench that all crowded places seem to have. It’s so like home that I almost want to cry. I don’t quite recognise the charred meat I can smell, though, so at least the mystery keeps my dignity intact for now. Huntsman has a weird look on his face that tells me we’re of the same mind.

“We should get to the inn before we look around,” he says gruffly, jerking his head in the direction of the tallest building in the town square. Someone has hung a large canvas sheet from the roof somehow, covered with a hand-painted rendering of a bed and a chicken drumstick. I haven’t had chicken in years, not since one of them talked to me as a little girl. They’re not as chatty as other birds, but it still feels weird to eat them now.

It’s probably just as well I live in a coastal city. Then again, being a vegetarian is probably easier this far inland because there’s room for more crops and therefore more variety. We eat a lot of mushrooms on the coast, along with some small portions of leafy greens and carrots that are often grown on rooftops or tended by workers at the minor merchant prince estates.

Huntsman leads us to the inn, which is already full to bursting with travellers crowded around rickety wooden tables eating lunch. A few are getting a head start on drinking despite the fact it’s barely past noon.

The person standing behind the bar spots us hovering by the door and waves us over. “The five of you look like you could use a rest and a good meal.”

I lean against the rough wooden counter and give them a grin. “We could indeed. Do you have any rooms available for the night?”

“If you don’t mind sharing, certainly. We have two left.”

“That’ll be fine. Thank you.” I hand over a few coins and the innkeeper passes me a handful of keys.

“These two are for the room at the end of the hall,” they say, pointing at the pair on the tips of my fingers. “The other three are for the room right beside it. Now…” They wipe their hands on a slightly grimy apron. “My name is Blair and my pronouns are they and them. I sometimes prefer she and her, but I’ll inform you if that is the case.”

“Nice to meet you, Blair.”

“Likewise.” They pass me a sheaf of rough paper, not the reedy kind I’m used to. “Are you literate? I can read the menu to you if necessary.”

“We can all read, I believe,” I reply. “Thank you for offering, though.”

“All our ingredients are locally-grown, salted for preservation but still far fresher than you will find in most eating establishments elsewhere.”

We pick out what we want from the menu, and then find a free piece of table and squeeze on the end together. Tesana and I share a seat, as do Farlan and Argyle. Huntsman is too frigging tall to even think about sharing. If I was any taller, Tesana and I would be having some serious legspace issues. She’s looking a little squished as it is.

“It’s just as well we came here first,” I say, fiddling with a little chip in my cup of fresh, witch-cleansed water. “A few minutes later, and we’d be camping again tonight.”

#CampNaNoWriMo Day 7: 22k

I knew I was going to hit 20k today, but I ended up getting there way earlier than planned, in the wee hours of the morning, because I didn’t want to leave this scene unfinished. The scene in question turned out to be a lot wordier than I expected. So… ta da. I win.

And then I upped my goal to 25k, so… technically I don’t win anymore but I’m still a winner in my heart. Assuming I keep doing well, I might just keep upping my goal by 5k increments to keep me motivated but not stressed-out.

My stretch goal is to finish the whole draft this month. I’ve done the maths and it is doable, since it’s going to wind up being around 80k total and I’d already written a bit over 30k before the month started. So if things go well and I end up going for the typical 50k goal, we’re in business.

Depending on my rate of writing, I may not post updates every day from here on out. It’ll depend on how much I write on a given day, since low wordcounts make for difficult excerpt selections. If I really start struggling to find shareable excerpts, I might dip into the stuff I wrote prior to July. I wrote about 12k in May, between these two Camp NaNoWriMo events, so there is still a bit hanging around that I haven’t picked apart for sharing purposes yet.

Time for twitter tomfoolery:

#WIPjoy Day 7:

#FictFri: theme is Clean/Dirty:

(Bonus excerpt) I find this funnier than I should:

And here’s my usual excerpt. Again, it was difficult to pick something because today’s writing was very spoiler-heavy and I don’t want to give away everything on the off-chance this hunk of words ends up being publishable. Context: Tesana has just woken from her enchanted sleep.

I’m only smiling at Eira for a second before a sneeze sends my face pitching forward into my own hand. Naturally, she laughs at me. I glare up at her.

Eira grins, not apologetic at all. “Good morning, sunshine.”

“Get out of my face.”

She holds up her hands in mock surrender and climbs off the bed. I finally notice the three men in the room. The Huntsman stands guard by the door, arms crossed, seemingly subconsciously. Argyle is doubled over beside him, breathing hard, while Farlan pats his back absent-mindedly.

“Tesana, you remember everyone’s names, right?” Eira says.

I nod, pushing back the covers.

“Excellent. Everyone, this is Tesana. Tesana, this is everyone.”

My feet find the floor. I hiss against the cold.

“Take your time,” Huntsman says, apparently misinterpreting the sound. “You’ve been asleep a long time.”

“I feel fine,” I tell him, pushing myself to my feet. I stumble a little, but catch myself before anyone can move to help me.

“Oh, that’s so not fair,” Eira says. “I was laid up for days after I woke up and I was only asleep for a year.”

Only,” Huntsman scoffs.

“My curse came from the Fairy Queen herself. Yours was a poor imitation.”

“Thanks,” Eira says, deadpan.

“We passed your parents in the throne room on the way here,” Argyle says. “If you need a moment, I can check—”

“I’m fine,” I promise. “I want to see them.”

The men file out first. Eira takes my hand as we follow them.

“There was a dragon,” she says and I honestly can’t tell whether she’s joking or not. Until: “It had gotten tangled up in the sleeping magic somehow and it’s the only reason your parents were still alive. The fairies who put them to sleep weren’t strong enough to maintain the magic for long. I had to send it back to the fairy realm before we could wake you, so I had to hurry to wake you up before the magic ran out. I hope I got to you in time, but… well, be prepared for anything, okay?”

I squeeze her hand, but don’t say anything. I didn’t sleep for a hundred years, dragging my parents down with me, just so I could wake up an orphan. They have to be okay. Everyone else from my own era is already dead. My mind flits to Rhian again, but I try not to let it overwhelm me.

Review: Coffee Boy by Austin Chant

32146161After graduation, Kieran expected to go straight into a career of flipping burgers—only to be offered the internship of his dreams at a political campaign. But the pressure of being an out trans man in the workplace quickly sucks the joy out of things, as does Seth, the humorless campaign strategist who watches his every move.

Soon, the only upside to the job is that Seth has a painful crush on their painfully straight boss, and Kieran has a front row seat to the drama. But when Seth proves to be as respectful and supportive as he is prickly, Kieran develops an awkward crush of his own—one which Seth is far too prim and proper to ever reciprocate.

This has been sitting in my Kindle app for months, waiting for me to get off my butt and read it. I guess the stars finally aligned, because here we are.

COFFEE BOY is a New Adult novella, only about 61 pages or so, but it doesn’t feel lacking in any way. The story is tightly-written, totally engaging and touches on so many things that I can’t believe it’s actually this short.

In terms of rep, Kieran is a gay trans guy and his love interest, Seth, is bisexual. Kieran also has a close female friend who is queer. This story is a great example of why ownvoices stories are so important. They have a ring of truth to them that you’ll be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.

Kieran being a non-passing trans dude does affect his experiences and the whole story is coloured by that, especially in the form of microaggressions he has to deal with in the workplace, particularly misgendering. However, the narrative primarily revolves around his evolving perceptions of and relationship with Seth, Kieran’s superior who is twelve years his senior and starts off as a real stick-in-the-mud kinda guy. The age gap is not taken lightly, even when the romance really kicks into gear. Seth, being the older person in the relationship, is very careful about boundaries.

The brightest spot in this whole book is Kieran’s voice. He’s a snarker, which I love. Sometimes it gets him into trouble but just as often he cuts through nonsense far more easily than those older and more reserved than him. It’s both a strength and a weakness and makes for some compelling reading because you never quite know whether his mouth is going to get him in trouble or not at any given moment. I also came to really adore Seth and, let’s be honest, anyone who can even try to remain professional around both Kieran and their disorganised (and, to Seth, attractive) boss needs some kind of medal. I also think both dudes really need a hug, but that’s just me getting maternal over fictional characters again.

Oh, and FYI there is one explicit sex scene near the end of the book. There’s a warning in my copy prior to the start of the story, but I thought I’d mention it just in case someone misses the memo otherwise.

There were a couple of iffy things that warrant a mention. There is some ableist language here and there, of the intelligence-based and sanity-based varieties. I’m also not sure how I feel about one scene where one character suddenly kisses another without consent. The kisser is intoxicated and his actions are not received well, but it’s also not really addressed as much as it probably should have been. If any of those things are an issue for you, take care if you decide to read this story.

That aside, I do think COFFEE BOY is a very well-composed and well-written story with memorable queer characters and a respectful take on age differences in romance. It’s a quick read and well worth the few dollars and time it takes to finish, and then some.