To Plan or Not to Plan?

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Writing is tough. That’s really obvious to anyone who’s ever had to write anything ever. Writers everywhere have different styles of writing and of planning out their writing. A lot of writers tend to fall into two main camps: architects and gardeners.

What is an architect-style writer versus a gardener-type writer, you may ask.

An architect-style writer will basically plan their writing as best they can before they start writing. I tend to be more of an architect style writer. I come up with an idea and then I try and plot out what happens. Depending on the writer, the outline or planning stage may differ. Some writers will make a point-by-point list-style outline. Some people will brainstorm or mindmap their ideas. Some writers will do freewriting exercises to get their ideas down and then organize them. Some writers will plan out each scene’s purpose and create character arcs in colour-coded charts. The sky’s the limit when it comes to the architect’s planning.

On the other hand, the gardener tends to be more organic. There is very little to no planning, just the ideas in the gardener’s head that then end up on the page. The gardener will write and write without stopping for planning. In fact, for the gardener, planning actually makes it harder for them to come up with ideas! One may wonder how this style of writing could possibly work, but that’s what editing is for. Once a gardener-style writer has their ideas down on paper, then they go back and revise.

Then again, maybe a combination of both types of writer would work as well! For example, for all the architect plans their story, sometimes the characters will do something unexpected and all that planning has to take a sudden turn. Or perhaps the gardener needs just a little planning for an aspect of their riveting-but-confusing detective story. There’s no right way to be a writer. The only real rule is not to give up. We all start somewhere.

What style do you like to use?

Strong Female Characters

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It probably isn’t much of a secret that I love writing kick-ass female characters. Some of my past badass ladies include not only main characters such as the Level 1 source Kaede, Sergeant-to-rescuer Yaliana, and war heroes Ira and Dounia, but also side characters such as sharp-shooting Stella and snarky Bei Bei. I love writing women who can hold their own in whatever arena they choose in life, from combat to magic to academia.

However, my bad-ass ladies, while bad-ass, are not perfect.

For those of you have read my works, you know that Kaede is a bit standoffish, Yaliana is impulsive, and Dounia holds a grudge. They make mistakes in their respective stories that can lead to unfortunate consequences. The main thing about my girls is that they learn from their mistakes. They try and fix their mistakes. Things don’t always go as planned, but they don’t give up.

I try to make my female characters as realistic as I can in the world they inhabit, and that means that they are dynamic and while they have flaws, they aren’t going to stay that way. Or, in the very least, they learn to either control or manage their weaknesses.

I guess my problem with so many so-called “strong” female characters is that they are physically strong but otherwise static. One good example of this problem is Lara Croft. Don’t get me wrong – I love Lara Croft. I’ve been playing Tomb Raider since it first came out in the 90s. But the original Lara Croft could fight and was smart, but she didn’t really change over time. She was just “perfect” without having flaws.

As a kid, I loved Lara. She out-shot and out-smarted all the men and looked awesome doing it. But real women should be allowed to make mistakes, to be imperfect. And female characters should be allowed to do the same.

Love for Love Rampage

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It’s been a while since I gave some love to my past publications, so I’m going to do a post about one of my early works. Love Rampage is a short, sweet story about a trans girl named Maira who is secretly in love with a friend named Carol. She is too shy to admit it, especially to Carol herself.

Maira has a slight obsession with unicorns. What does Maira do when a real live unicorn shows up and demands that Maira confess her love to Carol? And even worse, what can Maira do when a demon shows up?

The cover for Love Rampage, originally commissioned by Less Than Three Press.

I love this short story because Love Rampage is my first (but not last) story about a trans woman. I originally wrote this story for the Geek Out collection, a call for short stories put out by now-closed publisher Less Than Three Press.

The cover design was done by London Burden. Unfortunately, I cannot find a website for London’s work anymore.

This short story is now self-published HERE!

Get Over It: Writer’s Block

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I hate writer’s block. It’s one of the worst things to have to deal with as a writer. I know, a lot of writers have advice on how to deal with writer’s block, and there are a lot of solutions out there.

One of my very favourite ways to try and break out of writer’s block is to imagine the very worst thing that could possibly happen to the main character in the moment and write that. A lot of what happens in my stories comes from exactly that. I have to think of a terrible thing to do to my character, and THEN I have to think of how to get my character out of that situation. It’s fun to write, and hopefully entertaining to the audience.

Another thing I try to remember is that every scene should have a purpose in the story. The purpose can be a lot of different things, but ultimately, a scene should drive the action forward somehow. As a giant nerd in the department of English, I kind of think of writing fiction like writing an essay. You have a thesis or argument, and everything should tie back to that main point. That’s how I think of scenes – if they don’t fit into the main story, then it’s not going to be useful. If I include something cool but useless, than it doesn’t actually help the story.

Sometimes if I’m having writer’s block on one project, I’ll work on another one for a while and let the problem with the other one percolate. Sometimes if I just leave it for a bit, an idea will come to me for how to resolve it. Usually, it’s because I realize that in order to drive the story forward, something has to happen in a certain way.

Of course, other times, my characters just get away from me and do what they like. And I guess that’s fine, but it sure is annoying when you have something plotted out and the character ruins it. Does that ever happen to you? Do characters ever just decide to do something without your input? At least it helps with not having anything written down.

So those are my ideas, but I’m sure there are so many others! Feel free to tell me in the comments.

2021 Projects

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Hello all,

Happy New Year! Hopefully we’ll have a good year ahead of us. I have some fun plans for the future, and I’ll take the chance now to talk about them.

The first is that I’m writing the sequel to Weekend Girl. If you recall, Weekend Girl is a novel I wrote about a genderfluid student at UBC. They meet a cute guy and commence a confusing and hilarious romance. It’s my first contemporary romance, and this sequel is the second in what I hope will be a series. Anyway, Ashley Kingston returns in this sequel, tentatively titled Not Your Average Lady. So far, I have about a third of the novel finished.

Second, I’m working on the sequel to Far Patrol, which is looking to be a trilogy. The sequel sees Ignius and their friends becoming more world-wise in the face of a civil war. Originally, I was going to have draconic pronouns, but it turns out that it was a little more complicated and hard to understand than I thought. So I changed the pronouns to they/their/them. The pronouns will still exist, just in the rarely used draconic language.

I have quite a few projects on the back burner, so it’s unlikely I’ll ever run out of projects to work on! Right now, I have quite enough on my plate. Apart from being a writer, I’m also a PhD student, which takes up a lot of my time.

Good luck in the New Year, everyone!

Xmas Giveaway Winner 2020

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Hello everyone!

I’d just like to announce that the winner for the Christmas Giveaway this year is FantasyLiving (@flyawayfairy)! Congratulations, you have won a $25 gift certificate to JMS Books!

Thank you all for taking part in this Christmas Giveaway, and I hope we’ll see you again next year.

This is the giveaway feed for when I drew the name!

Thank you for being such good readers and I’ll see you again in the New Year!

Christmas Giveaway!

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Hello all!

I have a Christmas giveaway going on for exactly one month starting today. I will make the draw on December 25th, 2020. The prize for this giveaway is a $25 gift certificate to JMS Books.

So, how do you enter? Easy peasy. I have three different places you can enter by leaving a comment. The first is here on my author webpage on this post. The second is on my Twitter post announcing this giveaway. The third is on my Facebook post announcing the giveaway. I will write your name on a piece of paper and draw it out of a hat, old-school style.

What should your comment be about? I have a list of questions for you. Choose one and answer it in the comments of whatever platform you like. You can enter up to five times by answering different questions in separate comments. Please don’t cheat and leave more than five answers on different platforms. I have no way of making sure this doesn’t happen, so I’m appealing to your sense of fairness.

Here are the questions!

  1. Who is your favourite LGBTQ+ author?
  2. What is your favourite LGBTQ+ book (with LGBTQ+ MC)?
  3. When did you start reading LGBTQ+ books?
  4. Do you have a favourite romance trope? (ie “there’s only one bed” or “pretend relationship”
  5. Where’s your favourite place to read?

Okay! Make sure to share with friends!

Merry start of the Christmas season everyone! (And other winter holidays too)

Writing the Erotic

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Hello everyone

Some of you know me as a romance writer of LGBTQ+ romance stories. I am, and I wanted to talk in this post about writing about sex. A lot of my stories have some pretty hardcore queer sex in them. Some people may question this decision, and I wanted to address it.

Why sex?

First of all, I think of sex as something fairly ordinary. Not normal, as that erases ace identities, but not something terribly out of the ordinary for romantic entanglements. Sex happens. So, the question from some people is – why do you write the actual scene? Why do you not just let it fade to black?

Several reasons, actually. One of the reasons is that I want to try and normalize queer sex. The mainstream media has many many options when it comes to straight sex scenes, and often queer sex or even queer relationships are still seen as taboo. And I do understand that sometimes queer relationships are sexualized in order to keep them away from children, even though queer relationships are not necessarily sexual. But by writing queer sex scenes, I want to give queer people something that they might not have access to in mainstream media.

Another reason is for my characters, it’s important sometimes for them to actually develop their feelings for one another. And for some, the erotic is empowering and gives a person or character agency. Take this quotation from Audre Lorde for example: “Our erotic knowledge empowers us, becomes a lens through which we scrutinize all aspects of our existence, forcing us to evaluate those aspects honestly in terms of their relative meaning in our lives” (57). I write about the erotic because to be able to just be in our bodies as queer people is something that I think empowers us.

The erotic is a source of power, especially for marginalized identities such as our queer ways of existing. Now understand that the erotic does not necessarily mean sex. It means the sensual, the bodily way of existing, sensation, pleasure. That’s something that I also try and portray in my stories because it’s so important.

That’s why I write queer sex scenes. My queer erotics are for other queer people, to give them something, to show other people that we are allowed to exist in pleasure.

I hope you understand.

Works Cited

Lorde, Audre. Sister Outsider. Crossing Press, 1984.

Hakusan Angel and Sequel

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Hello everyone!

Today I wanted to give some love to one of my older works Hakusan Angel, which I had republished with JMS Books. I wrote this novella when I lived in Vancouver in the summer of 2013 for a submission call. The call was for a mecha theme, and because I drew a lot of inspiration from Japan, I decided to set my novella in a Japan-esque world.

In this novella, there are people who can wield their own energy as a weapon. These people are called Sources. The military recruits Sources to power huge war machines. The Sources power the machines, and then pilots drive them.

Kaede is a Source who has been hiding her true abilities. She is working as a Level 3 Source, but her powers are stronger. One day, an accident happens, and Kaede must deal with the consequences.

Mariko is a pilot, who recently started training as a Level 1 driver. She and Kaede butt heads until bigger problems surface and the two of them have to work together in order to overcome them.

I recently accidentally started a sequel to this novella, which will be a full novel. I’m looking forward to diving into this world again after 7 years. This novel, which I’ve tentatively titled “Key to Tateyama” has a complete outline done already.

I hope everyone is having a good November!

NaNoWriMo 2020

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Hello all,

It looks like NaNoWriMo has started for this year already! It’s day 4 of the yearly challenge to write 50 000 words in only 30 days. It’s definitely a difficult challenge, and new and seasoned writers alike try their hand at beating it.

This year, unfortunately, I will not be participating. I am in the first year of a four-year PhD and am currently deep in coursework at the moment. I am taking three graduate-level courses, and am focused on writing papers this November.

Some of my past NaNoWriMo challenges have borne fruit, however. In 2015, I finished writing Far Patrol in 30 days and in 2012 I finished writing Rangers over Regulus. Far Patrol is slated to be published in July 2021 with Ninestar Press and Rangers over Regulus was published last year with JMS Books.

Maybe I will take part next year. I hope so. Even in years that I lose the challenge, I still manage to get a good chunk of writing done. That includes All the King’s Men, which I failed to finish in 2013, but still got published by JMS Books in 2019.

What I’m really trying to say is, don’t give up! Even if you’re behind in writing or you’re not sure you’ll finish, it’s still worth it to try. And even if you fail this time around, you’re still trying to write a novel, which is a difficult task, but you’re doing it anyway.

I’m rooting for you all!