Cyborg characters

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I’m writing this blog post because in just a few days, my story Charmed by Chance is coming out in the GRNW charity anthology Magic and Mayhem.

The theme of the anthology was based off the character matching game from past GRNW meet-ups. The pairings for the stories in the anthology were to be either mage/cyborg or soldier/tattoo artist.

So, spoilers, but I chose the pairing of mage/cyborg.

The reason I wanted to talk about cyborg characters is that I find them very interesting. I’ve written characters with cybernetic enhancements before, but not exactly in this way. In this story, my character has a prosthetic arm which he finds himself without the use of as the plot moves forward.

It brings me to this: technically, a cyborg can be counted as a character with disabilities. I haven’t really written a disabled character before. My other character, who is technically a cyborg, is mostly cybernetically enhanced, and those enhancements are used in the line of duty. He doesn’t find himself without the use of his enhancements, and can’t really be separated from them anyway.

My character Merritt, on the other hand, does find himself without the abilities that the arm brought him. He’s back to the point at which he lost his arm in the first place, which shows that cyborgs can only count on their enhancements to a certain point.

I don’t think most people think of cyborg characters as disabled, because their enhancements are superior to the flesh and bone that humans are born with. The enhancements that they are given put some of their abilities ahead of a normal person’s. I think that people don’t like to think of a physically disabled person’s abilities as superior to a person without them.

I tried to explore the idea of characters with cybernetic enhancements in sync with a character with a physical disability. I hope that I did it well in spite of the shortness of the story.

Any thoughts on cybernetic enhancements, cyborgs, or physical disabilities? Feel free to voice them in the comments!

Charmed by Chance

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Hello everyone!

I’m really excited, because my short story Charmed by Chance is coming out in September! September 6th, 2016 to be exact, for the Gay Romance Northwest charity anthology Magic and Mayhem, which can be preordered here.

Look, here’s the cover!

MagicMayhem

 

There are going to be seven other authors who wrote stories for the anthology, as well as essays from past conferences. The theme for the anthology was either the pairing of mage/cyborg or soldier/tattoo artist, which were the character match pairings from previous years at the GRNW meet-up. It should be a great anthology. Here’s the line-up for the anthology:

STORIES:

“Broken Art,” by Dev Bentham
“Caroline’s Heart,” by Austin Chant
“Demonica,” by Megan Derr
“The Hollow History of Professor Perfectus,” by Ginn Hale
“Fade to Black,” by Josh Lanyon
“Charmed By Chance,” by Alex Powell
“Sun, Moon, and Stars,” by E.J. Russell
“Slack Tide,” by Karelia Stetz-Waters

ESSAYS:

“Romance for the Rest of Us,” by Jessica Blat
“Sad Queer Characters and the Revolution of Joy,” by Austin Chant
“Dear Rose,” by Rose Christo
“How to Get LGBT Romance Books Into Libraries” by Marlene Harris
“So What is “Character-Type Love Match” Anyway?” by Nicole Kimberling
“My Road to Romance,” by Susan Lee
“To My Future Self,” by E.E. Ottoman
“What I’ve Learned,” by Jordan Castillo Price
“Dear Len,” by Radclyffe
“A Letter to My Former Self,” by Rick R. Reed
“Five Things We Learned Running A Queer Romance Event (and the One Thing We Still Need to Do)” by Tracy Timmons-Gray

That’s all I wanted to announce! Have a good day everybody!

All the King’s Men Cover Reveal!

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Hello everyone!

I have a couple of announcements to make.

The first is, I just received my cover for All the King’s Men, and I am super excited about it! Check it out! All the King’s Men will be released July 27th, 2016 from Less Than Three Press.

AlltheKingsMen.jpg

As usual, Less Than Three Press has done an excellent job, and I’m really pleased with how it turned out. All the King’s Men is long enough to have print copies, so I will be getting four amazing author copies in the mail in the future with this amazing cover. I love having physical copies of my work.

The other announcement is that my story that I wrote for the Gay Romance Northwest Magic and Mayhem charity anthology has been accepted! I don’t have a title yet, so I’ll have to brainstorm one up. I’m also very excited that my short story was accepted, because that means I will be an Attending Author for GRNW 2016.

Other than that, I’m still working on the sequel to Far Patrol. I haven’t gotten my editing mitts on for Far Patrol yet, but I’ll probably be working on it over the next few months. I really need to plan out the series arc for this, which I’m finding challenging. I haven’t written a series before, so it’s certainly an interesting learning curve.

I accidentally started writing on a story that’s been kicking around in my head which is about a trans lesbian detective named Louisa and a bisexual prostitute named Maggie who are trying to solve the murder of Maggie’s best friend Beth. I say “accidentally” because I haven’t started world-building or planning out the story arc yet. It just couldn’t be contained. Oh well, now I have to go print out a map of Victorian London. I’m going to make the world greenpunk, which means that this world’s Britain started using sustainable green energy instead of steam and coal power.

Anyway, that is what I’m doing right now. I hope you’re all doing well on your current projects, whatever they may be.

A New Start

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Hey all, it’s the New Year, and although I haven’t made any New Year’s resolutions regarding writing, I’m still making progress.

I have three different things happening right now on projects.

I’m on the editing stages on All the King’s Men, which is a cyberpunk novel. I just finished my second round of edits, so hopefully I will have more news soon on progress for that novel. This novel has been in the works for me for a long time, and it feels like quite an accomplishment to have it progressing.

Secondly, I have finished writing a dragon fantasy novel and I’m having it beta read by a few different amazing people. I’m letting that one be for a while before I start revisions and line editing. I wrote this one for 2015’s NaNoWriMo and it won. I’ve tentatively called it “Far Patrol,” although that could possibly change.

I’ve started writing the sequel to Far Patrol, and I’m only a few thousand words into that so far. If I’m writing a series, I want to have as much written as possible by the time I submit the first novel. I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, because Far Patrol is nowhere near ready to submit.

Lastly, I’m writing a short story for the Magic and Mayhem anthology, which is a charity anthology being written in order to help fund future Gay Romance Northwest initiatives. As I have attended all three meet-ups, I am definitely submitting something to help.

So those are my projects for this winter, so it should be a fun few months.

Another short announcement that I have is that I recently purchased a bookstore business called the Final Chapter, and of course, I am looking for LGBTQ titles so that I can make an LGBTQ section in the store, as it was sadly lacking one when I purchased it. I have a few books that I can donate as I’ve read them already, but hopefully I can get even more!

So that’s it for now, folks! I’ve been a bit busy, but hopefully I can get some more blog posts going now that all the kerfuffle of Christmas and bookstore bargaining is over with.

The Nightwitches

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I’m still talking about some of the research I did for writing Sky Knights, which is being released on March 25th.

My last post didn’t really touch on the actions of the Night Witches, because I wanted to save it all for this one.

nightwitches

Let me tell you about the Night Witches, or the Nachthexen, as they were known in German. The Germans named them such, because their planes coming in for a bombing run sounded like the whooshing of a broomstick. The Germans were terrified by these nightly assaults, as well they should be.

Marina Raskova

Marina Raskova

The 588th Night Bomber Regiment was one of three all-female air regiments in the Soviet Union’s 4th Air Army. All three regiments were created because of Marina Raskova, who used her influence with Stalin to convince him to allow their creation. The formation commander was Major Yevdokia Bershanskaya, an experienced pilot.

In October of 1943, the 588th was renamed the 46th Taman Guard Night Bombers Aviation Regiment, in recognition of their victories over the Taman peninsula.

Pilots in front of the Polikarpov PO2 biplane

Pilots in front of the Polikarpov PO2 biplane

The Nightwitches flew tiny little wooden biplanes that were meant to be used as crop-dusters or for training. They were very slow, but had a few very notable advantages. One of which was that the highest speed of the Polikarpov PO-2 was still slower than the stalling speed of both the Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the Focke-Wulf Fw 190, the two German planes in most use. Another was that they could absorb quite a large amount of damage before going down.

There were a couple downsides. One, the plane could only carry two people, and the cockpit was open. Another was that the Polikarpov PO-2 didn’t have any navigation equipment, radar, radio, or even parachutes. It could only hold six bombs at a time.

Nadezhda Popova

Nadezhda Popova

The Nightwitches used a certain tactic against the Germans that was not only very effective in hitting bombing targets, but also in terrifying their enemies. This tactic was to cut or idle the engines of their plane, swoop in without the sound of their engine to give them away, drop their bombs, and then restart their engines in mid-flight. So the only warning that the Germans would get of their enemy’s incoming bombs was a swooshing noise before incendiary death came down upon them.

One of the most highly decorated members of the Nightwitches was Nadezhda Popova, the leader of the 2nd Women’s Regiment, who was given the distinction of the Hero of the Soviet Union, the Gold Star medal, the Order of Lenin, and three Orders of the Red Star. She made a total of 852 sorties over the course of the war. She was shot down three times, but was never badly wounded. Once, she made a supply run to drop food, water, and medical supplies to trapped forces and nearly didn’t make it back. On her return, she found her plane riddled with bullets, including her helmet, and her map! She survived the war, and lived to the ripe old age of 91.

Yevgeniya Rudneva

Yevgeniya Rudneva

Another of the Nightwitches was a navigator named Yevgeniya Rudneva, who was also decorated with the Hero of the Soviet Union. She was a third year university student studying mechanics and mathematics at Moscow State University when the war broke out. She was also a member of the Astronomical-Geodesical Society and Head of the Solar Department. She wrote to the head of the Astronomy department to tell him she was defending the honour of the university, as the Germans had dropped bombs on the university faculty building. She and her pilot were taken down by flak on her 645th combat mission.

These are just two examples of members of the Nightwitches, one pilot and one navigator, just like my characters Dounia and Ira.

I found out while researching that in 2001, there were plans to make a movie about the Nightwitches that fell through because American studios didn’t think it was feasible to market a movie in which the Nazi advance was halted by a bunch of teenage girls. It’s no wonder that women’s history is mostly forgotten if their stories aren’t told alongside men’s.

But I’m here to tell you that it did happen, and those ladies were pretty heroic.

My upcoming release of Sky Knights, starring my lesbian aviators Ira and Dounia, is to be released in just a few days. You can still preorder and save 15%.

Why Unicorns?

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Hey all!

I’m doing a couple of stops on my blog dedicated to Love Rampage, which is being released on the 28th of January.

So some of you may be wondering: Why Unicorns?

First of all: I love unicorns

Second of all: my friend Laurence also loves unicorns, and he told me to write a story about a girl who was obsessed with unicorns. I have an inkling he might have been joking, but I have been known to write on ridiculous prompts before. I’ve dedicated this story to him, mostly because it was his prompt that got me writing this.

Before you ask: no, unicorn is not some sort of euphemism for something else. I really do mean that there is an actual unicorn in this story, and when I say “rampage,” I really do mean that literally.

Unicorns are magical creatures of myth that have been depicted by humans since antiquity. Most people think of unicorns as beings of purity, uncorrupted. They are usually depicted as having an affinity for virgins. In some tales, they can purify water or heal people with their powers.

I wanted to use the symbol of the unicorn to represent the purity of Maira’s love for Carol. Her worry that Carol will not love her because she is trans is something that she must overcome. She has to learn that her love is just as valid as anyone else’s.

Her love is pure, but I am not trying to suggest that either of these girls must be a virgin because of the presence of the unicorn. People may read it that way as they want, but the idea that one should remain pure of body, or that virginity will make one pure is something that I don’t want to spread. I do not agree with virgin idealization or with slut shaming, or with shaming anybody about their level of sexual experience.

Some people might say, “But Alex, those girls are just teenagers, they shouldn’t be having sex at their age!” Too bad. Some teenagers have sex, and that is the truth.

I also think of unicorns as creatures of adventure. Unicorns are untamed magical creatures, and I like to think that they would only approach those that are pure of heart and have good intentions. Maira certainly discovers what it is like to go on an adventure with the unicorn in this story!

And for anyone who used to love The Unicorns of Balinor series, or The Last Unicorn, or even The Black Unicorn by Tanith Lee, Maira might just be a girl after your own heart.

Thank you Laurence, for this idea, and for many others before it!

This is one of the stops on my blog tour for Love Rampage, so leave a comment below and your email address for a chance to win a $10 gift certificate with Less Than Three Press!

Geek Out Blog Tour

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Hey everyone!

Sorry I’ve let the blog posts go awhile without updating, but I’ve been super-busy!

Not only have I started going to university again, but I’ve been organizing a blog tour for the trans* anthology Geek Out published with Less Than Three Press.

What is going on with this blog tour?

Well, let me tell you, since I’ve finally seemed to get a grasp on what’s going on!

The Geek Out anthology includes 8 authors:

Francis Gideon with Sext-based Adventures

https://francisgideon.wordpress.com/

Caitlin Ricci with Horse Crazy

www.caitlinricci.com

J.K. Pendragon with Double Take

www.jkpendragon.com

Alison Evans with Long Macchiatos and Monsters

alisonwritesthings.com

Alessandra Ebulu with Of Anime and Baeci

alessandraebulu.wordpress.com

Cecil Wilde with Defying Convention

www.cecilwilde.com

Alden Lila Reedy with Manifest

aldenlilareedy.com

We have all written a story with a trans* protagonist, and we all feel that because this is a trans* anthology, we need to go all out with getting the word out. People are asking for representation in media, and we’re delivering. But without people knowing about it, then there’s not much point!

I see people writing fanfiction with trans* or genderqueer characters, writing ace or aro characters, genderbent characters, because they are lacking that what they really desire: representation. There are no stories out there about these types of characters that portray them in stories that are not a) specifically about their trans*-ness or b) tragic.

So we’re doing a blog tour. It’s a really fun time, actually, apart from the logistics and organization, which really aren’t my strong point. But you’ve got to try, right? I hate trying to organize things, but I’ve learned sometimes you’ve got to do things you don’t enjoy in order to promote the things you actually like doing.

It was a bit of a challenge, because while there were a LOT of m/m review sites, there are far less review sites that do trans* story reviews or blog tours. Thankfully, with the help of our amazing publisher Megan Derr, we were able to find a few.

Here’s the sites where our guest blog posts will be showing up over the next two weeks.

Smoocher’s Voice

Love Bytes

World of Diversity

Read, Play, Review

We’ll also all be doing blog posts on our own blogs, so make sure to check them out! Of course, I’ll be compiling a list of links for you all to get the big picture once they’re all up, so stay tuned for that!

The first stop on our blog tour will be at Smoocher’s Voice, and my blog post for Love Rampage on January 22nd!

Also, make sure you check them all out, because authors are doing giveaways for all sorts of fun stuff! Gift certificates, ebooks, naming a character in their next novel… so make sure to leave lots of comments for a chance to win!