Pansexual, not bisexual

I originally wrote this┬áback in Sept 2015 for a [now defunct] online magazine┬áto which I submitted a few short pieces. I’ve spent some time thinking about whether it really belongs here. I’ve decided that, while it isn’t specifically about writing as such, it does make a point about the importance of a single word, a label, in self-identity. This matters, or should matter, to anyone whose writing involves character diversity, and not only in regards to orientation or gender. Reposted here with a few small corrections.


When I first realized that I wasn’t straight, I took a look around me for an alternative description for myself. This being the early nineties, research was more complicated than looking online, and community and support more limited. I quickly concluded that “lesbian” wasn’t quite accurate, despite some lesbians occasionally choosing sex with men. When I stumbled over the idea of bisexuality, I seized on that: here was a term that wouldn’t try to force me to choose, and would allow me to acknowledge that I found people of many kinds attractive and desirable.

Life went on, and I ran into all the wonderful stereotypes that people have about bisexuality. Men I barely knew hit on me with descriptions of their wives. People assumed that I was non-monogamous because if I were monogamous, I would no longer be bisexual. I heard the bad jokes and the slurs and the put-downs: can’t make up their minds, sitting on the fence, want it both ways, in denial, too horny to care who they sleep with, and all the rest. I learned fast to stay away from lesbian events locally, because there was an unspoken rule that bi women were welcome only if they could be assumed to be lesbian–a kind of don’t ask, don’t tell. Having just come out of one closet, I refused to go back into another one. Continue reading

Back in motion!

I mentioned previously that I hoped life could resume something like normality in early March. I’m extremely grateful that so far, that does seem to be the case. It’s going to take me a little time to get everything moving again, since so many different projects all stalled from lack of attention–and not only writing projects. But I’m feeling optimistic!

So optimistic that I’ve begun to release the first chapter of the new Moonblood adventure, Return, as of this past Friday. That may not have been the wisest plan while the adventure itself is still incomplete, but at this point, 38k words into it, I doubt it’s going to involve any really major changes in the earlier chapters while I’m hammering out the later ones. Since the location, which is near the Garden of Umako that they visited previously, is very vaguely West African, I admit to feeling a bit nervous about possible accusations of cultural appropriation or related racism. One person’s “cultural appropriation” is another person’s “inspired by” and it’s not always a matter of insider vs outsider.I just can’t stand the thought, however, of the entire Moonblood world of Evanir, or at least the large continent our heroes wander, being an endless series of loosely medieval western European cultures, so I guess I’ll just have to hope for the best.

Overall, while looking back through the earlier adventures to remind myself of relevant information, I haven’t been entirely happy. As you’ll see if you looked at my main site, my usual format is the novel, generally one of substantial size. My work is, invariably, all about the characters and bringing them to life. To tell you the truth, I usually have only a very vague idea of what a new novel is going to be “about” since I create the characters (which can be a more difficult task than a non-writer might think) and then drop them somewhere to see what happens. Sooner or later, often thousands of words later, I spot something that looks like a plot and start to angle in that direction. I don’t know how many pros would consider it professional, but it’s a lot of fun and it means I know my characters very well. Usually I then put it aside for several months before editing it. Thanks to one person taking time, I now know how to edit the resulting mass of words into something coherent and consistent, though I generally keep a bit more of the “character development” material than conventional wisdom calls for. The thing is, none of this applies to Moonblood.

With Moonblood, I tried something new. I took a handful of very old characters (Neoma, Kieran, Tyrel, and Madoc have been around since I was in high school, and Kaveri nearly as long) and reimagined their world and their lives. The various adventures aren’t really stand-alone. They follow a sequence, and description of characters and all tends not to be repeated. They are, however, extremely compressed. Places where I would have included a scene showing something, I’ve summarized it into a paragraph before getting on to the next big event, trying to keep the pacing fast and something immediately interesting in each individual post (and not always succeeding). Some of the less-direct character interaction scenes that I’d have included in a novel have been cut or never written, and as a result, there are more places where I’m telling the reader about the characters instead of letting the characters demonstrate. Despite that, chapters are repeatedly broken into 2 or 3 posts to bring them to manageable size. I’m also finding things that I probably would have fixed or changed with more time to revise. I think I have to consider myself poorly suited to writing serial fiction. That shouldn’t come as too much surprise, since my short stories are few and far between. If an idea or, more often, a group of characters is interesting enough for me to do two or three thousand words, then it’s probably interesting enough that I’ll want to explore it or them in much more depth.

Which means that once I finish Return, I am going to take a more deliberate break from this particular project. At some point, between other writing projects, I plan to seriously revise it from a different approach. Instead of treating it as web fiction, I’ll consider it the rough draft of a novel of sorts with an unusual internal structure, and see what happens. I think it will give me the room to flesh out the characters the way they deserve.

That said… I do have one old but rather good idea that would be hopeless as a novel but might someday work in serial format… so who knows?

While this has been all about Moonblood so far, that isn’t the only thing I’m doing. Leaving the overall arc unresolved has been nagging at me, so it became the first thing to pick back up. Lamia‘s revised re-release is coming up, I hope before May. Once that is done, that’s it for my earlier novels, the ones that I previously finished and put on my old site essentially expecting only friends to see them, generally after years being kicked around and re-written and taken apart and stitched back together, and everything from there on is shiny-new and made from whole cloth, so to speak. (I really should write something about the difference, someday soon.) I’m hoping to get Shaman released by June. I’ve had requests for print versions of books, though that’s only available for Yin-Yang currently, so I need to get that sorted out. (That project costs a bit, since I have to buy test copies, and the household budget is tight… but I’ve had a few voluntary payments for ebooks, which I think will cover it.) I think I’m going to re-issue Renegade with the introduction, explaining its history, at the end, in hopes of scaring off fewer people–although I do find it interesting, and probably indicative of current demand, that the urban fantasy with expressly LGBT content has sold 4 times as many as the other-world fantasy that I can’t really tag LGBT. And… all the others, novels and blog posts, waiting in the wings for me to get my feet back under me and get back to work.

Since my household is now in a new and safer apartment that humans and felines consider an enormous improvement, the health and other crises seem to be winding down, and spring is in the air, getting back to work is definitely a high priority. Writing isn’t just something I do, it’s a central part of who I am, and a stretch of several months with only a small amount of sporadic writing is difficult. While I’m not attracting large numbers of readers, I am attracting a few, and given the huge amount of time and effort that goes into polishing a novel for release, it’s good to know that they do interest people. I have my fingers crossed that the LGBT urban fantasy will appeal to people, but I have too much fun to give up doing the occasional other-world fantasy!

The Value of Encouragement

I mentioned last time that something interesting happened while I was working on the revisions for Black Wolf.

This needs a little backstory, so here we go with a flashback scene.

Go back twenty years. I finished the first complete version of Black Wolf (then, the full title was Black Wolf, Demon Wolf – I got tired of typing that). It wasn’t my first novel, but we don’t talk about the first two; this was the first one I had hopes for. A very good friend and mentor, a local mystery author, read it for me and gave me her thoughts. She also heard that a Canadian fantasy author, Charles de Lint, was Writer in Residence in Ottawa, a rather larger city than ours, and that he would read work sent to him and send it back with his thoughts. What she didn’t discover from her source was that, quite reasonably, one was only supposed to send the first 100 pages or so. We sent the whole thing. Oops.

He was kind enough not only to read the full thing, but to say some very encouraging things and write me a rather long letter breaking down his observations and suggestions. He also offered to meet with me to discuss it. So, in May of 1995, my father gave me a ride to Ottawa (I was 21, and I never did get the whole driving thing) and I spent a very instructive afternoon. I was at least as shy then as now, and I was nervous, and I remember I started to giggle a couple of times at comments that were meant to be serious, but I also remember that he was very patient. Between his letter and that discussion, I learned the fundamentals of how to take what I had written, this wonderful ecstatic creative outpouring of raw material, and look at it in a whole new way, so that I could work it into something not just good, but much better than good. Continue reading

Who Am I Writing For?

Well, I did it to myself again. No matter how many times it happens, no matter how many times I learn the lesson, it still creeps back up and ambushes me again.

Write what you want to write, write what sings to you. Forget what you can complete and present to the world; if it isn’t singing to you right now, this moment, then any work you do on it will be poorer quality and at best not worth it, at worst discouraging enough to interfere when it should be singing later. Don’t ever, ever try to modify the content to what some hypothetical audience might want; use every bit of your skill to make it come to life for them, instead, and give them something uniquely your own.

It sounds like a fairly simple concept, doesn’t it? Just write, nothing else matters.

Except that it does. Continue reading

The Resurrection Project

Sounds so portentous as a title, doesn’t it? The only thing being resurrected is some old writing, so don’t worry, no zombies.

First, an apology. I haven’t been keeping up, and probably won’t be in the immediate future. Enough real-life stress hit me all at once to drop me to my knees, although it didn’t completely flatten me. My psychiatrist decided that, between that and my typically lower stress tolerance as days get shorter, we needed to try antidepressants again. Now, my earliest experiences were generally positive, good results with little or no side effects, but unfortunately they stop working for me after a while. I’m unsure whether my body is just rejecting anything new or whether the ones we’ve tried more recently are just harsher, but these days it tends to be little or no result and horrendous side effects. I spent most of October asleep, and the later part of it in pain every time I ate. Two weeks later, my body’s still trying to get past the effects, ie, sleeping a lot and eating very warily. Thus, it’s been difficult to come up with ideas for blog posts, let alone actually write them.

However, the worse I feel, the more my natural inclination is to run away mentally. I wasn’t feeling clear enough to do final YinYang revisions or work on the next novel. I could have worked on my playground world. Continue reading