Uncomfy Thoughts

My blog tends to be a combination of sounding board and journal.

Today is more of a journal type post, and even though, yes, I do journal (on paper even!) privately… I’m sharing this here because others may be feeling it too.

I talked about why I changed my pronouns here…Why Pronouns.

Today I ran into the first bit of… well, call a duck a duck… discrimination based on my chosen pronouns.

And… you know, I don’t think it was MEANT as discrimination? But it still hurt. It’s still with me several hours later. Which means I need to write about it.

My pronouns, xie/xem/xyr fit me so well that even after that smack in the face sensation of earlier today, I can’t regret choosing them.

Until now, it’s been an unalloyed JOY to claim them.

Problem I ran into today was that someone implied, didn’t say, but implied that I’m no longer a woman, (that I didn’t belong in a place for women)

I guess… by pronoun usage, I’m not?

Except I still have E/F sized boobs that I have to spend tons of money on bras for, I still have to get mammograms, I’m still called ‘Mom’. There is no way on the face of the earth anyone is ever going to mistake me for masculine.

I still refer to myself as ‘female’ when speaking of my sex even if I use the term non-binary because my sex is unequivocally, female. I don’t seek to change my sex. Not yet, maybe not ever. I’m not (to my knowledge because it can be hidden until it’s found in a surgical procedure) intersex. (If I were intersex it would explain a lot, but I don’t KNOW that I am.)

I still prefer the term enby/non-binary. Which is a GENDER definition. (It can apply to intersex individuals as well as others. It can apply to anyone who wants to claim it.)

Now, maybe it’s a confusion of concepts that caused this? It’s pretty common to conflate a couple of different things with regard to the topic.

From the Human Rights Campaign website: 

Gender identity

One’s innermost concept of self as male, female, a blend of both or neither – how individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves. One’s gender identity can be the same or different from their sex assigned at birth.

Gender expression

External appearance of one’s gender identity, usually expressed through behavior, clothing, haircut or voice, and which may or may not conform to socially defined behaviors and characteristics typically associated with being either masculine or feminine.

From various sources:

Sex 

This is the parts one is born/lives with. Very often we’re Assigned Female At Birth or Assigned Male At Birth based on an innie or an outie, but there are more sexes than just two, there are intersex people as well as trans people and many varieties of human expression.

I’m A.F.A.B. As far as all medical care is concerned, I’m female, as far as all external perception of me goes… there too, I’m a woman.

I studied both Sex and Gender in my course-work as an Anthropologist, and for me, they have both, always been extremely separate IF POTENTIALLY RELATED things.

My Gender Identity is enby/non-binary/NB

My Gender Expression, too, is enby/non-binary/NB

My Sex is female/woman/AFAB.

Do I no longer belong in women’s spaces? If I’d know I’d be excluded from women’s spaces based on my pronouns, would I have chosen to claim them? I think that yes, I still would have, but I may have been more prepared for this hurt.

I don’t know how to answer that question, whether I belong in women’s spaces or not, even for myself. Part of me wants to stand by and say well… if I claim NB/enby/non-binary, then, of course, I can’t claim female/woman too. But my gut instinct is to say that is part of the binary thought process which injures so many people, just like me.

That part of me says hell no at the idea of my daughter, even if she chooses to use non-binary definitions and pronouns being excluded from women’s spaces if she wants to be there.

It’s the same part of me that insists that if a person identifies as a woman in any way or form they are welcome in women’s spaces.

That part of me says it’s nowhere near as simple as a binary. That you can’t break these extremely complex ideas down to things as simple as lists and labels and spaces and things like that.

I think, as I sit with this, I’m going to lean towards the latter because you really CAN’T make things like this ‘simple’. I can be both woman and NB, I even say it on my profile. A.F.A.B./NB. (That could change in future, you know? Because sexuality and gender is FLUID.)

They aren’t simple. Having a gender identity & expression which is different from your sex already makes things complicated.

That’s sort of the space that enbys take up, I think. One of the complicated ones.

I’m still hurt by this, and I don’t actually know how to dig out any more words about it.

So I’ll sit, and think some more.

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Reviews

Yeah, yeah, we all know we need to review books.

I mean… we DO know that right?

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Backing up, just a bit in case you DON’T know.

Reviews sell books for authors. There is NOTHING you can do more to support an author (other than buying the book in the first place/asking your library to buy the book) that will help them more.

Because people read reviews, they look at the star ratings on Amazon/Goodreads/B&N etc.

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They decide whether to buy a book based on what other people have said.

Even as something as simple as I LOVED IT with a 5 star rating can help sell a book to the next person who might enjoy it. It doesn’t need to be a long paragraph on why.

Those help, of course, (if you look at the reviews section of my website, I go to great length to tell my readers why I liked/didn’t like something).

But that very fact of ‘how books get sold’ is why I RELIGIOUSLY review everything I read. Even if it’s something I didn’t like, or wasn’t a ME book.

I still review it.

As far as algorithms go on places like Amazon and Goodreads, reviews count for visibility too. The more reviews an author has on a particular book, the higher their rating on Amazon, meaning it’ll show to more people who might be looking for THAT kind of book. I assume it works the same on non-amazon sites.

But, that’s just background to what I really wanted to say.

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I wanted to say thank you.

Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who has left me a review, anywhere.

I read my reviews, I mean, we as authors are told we shouldn’t, but honestly? I want to know if I’ve fecked up somehow, so reading reviews is the best way to do that.

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I… don’t yet have a bad one. For which I feel incredibly fortunate.

I know… the first bad one is gonna sting like blazes.

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BUT… right now, as I’m sitting here proofing my next release, ILAVANI, for July sale, reading reviews, (some which were new to me) from my author central page, and seeing the OVERWHELMING support for my work. The sheer hunger for the kinds of things I write…

Y’all give me faith.

That what I’m doing is really needed. That my voice has worth in a world where I can’t land a publishing contract.

That my words, my work, my writing… is wanted.

That, it’s so important.

My critique partners and betas tell me they love my words. By and large they know me though, lol, my beloved CPs have the unenviable job of thumping me over the head with my own stubbornness…

I’m stubborn. Trust me on that.

Betas have the thankless job of reading something before publication… so, their words are incredibly important and I absolutely could NOT do this without my CPs and Betas.

Hearing from strangers, who have bought my book(s), read it, loved it, and then taken the time to review it for me?

That’s yet another level of gratitude.

I have so, so much gratitude for everyone who helps me in this writing journey.

I’m never going to be one of those authors who doesn’t appreciate those who read their words.

‘Cause without you all? I’d be nothing more than a writer telling stories to myself over my keyboard.

Thank you. So very much.

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QUERY SWAP BLOG TOUR!

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Get Free Query Help at Query Swap

Query Swap Twitter event

Coming June 1, 2017

Your hook is your selling point. It has to be perfect. But getting

good feedback can often be difficult or expensive. That’s why M.L.

Keller—The Manuscript Shredder—is organizing the #QuerySwap

Twitter party, an all-day event for people seeking critique partners

to participate in feedback exchanges on query letters or back cover

blurbs. The query swap Twitter party is designed to help writers

connect with other writers. And since this is an exchange, both

parties will benefit.

Query Swap is happening from

8am-8pm EST on June 1, 2017.

Query Swap isn’t a contest. It’s an opportunity for writers to help

other writers. There won’t be mentors or agents. This is for writers

only. Each participant will have the opportunity to find a new

critique partner and exchange feedback on queries. Everyone gets

feedback. Everyone’s query improves. Everyone wins.

How to participate:

1) Tweet a brief pitch about your MS with the tag #QuerySwap

include genre and age category hashtags. (They might look

familiar; they are the same as #Pitmad) No need to tweet

multiple times since you can search the feed and look for a

match too.

2) Watch the feed and find someone with an MS in a similar genre,

category, and tone

3) Ask him/her to swap

4) Exchange queries

5) Give constructive feedback to your new Critique Partner.

Can I just recycle my #pitmad pitch?

Maybe, but it might need tweaking. In this swap, genre, category,

and overall MS tone will be more important than plot in finding a

good match. Someone with a snarky sensibility might be less

suited to selling your Anne of Green Gables retelling, so make sure

you look for a person who writes in a similar style.

example pitches:

#LGBT historic retelling of Frog Prince set in Polynesia also

dragons #YA #F #R #QuerySwap

or

Dark portal fantasy with family drama and talking cats #MG #F

#DIS #QuerySwap

Obviously, these won’t work for #pitmad, but they convey the

necessary information for this event.

Hashtags … (These are the same as #pitmad)

Age Categories:

#PB = Picture Book

#C = Children’s

#CB = Chapter Book

#CL = Children’s Lit

#MG = Middle Grade

#YA = Young Adult

#NA = New Adult

#A = Adult

Genres/Sub-genres:

#AA = African American

#AD = Adventure

#CF = Christian Fiction

#CON = Contemporary

#CR = Contemporary Romance

#DIS = Disabilities

#DV = Diversity

#E = Erotica

#ER = Erotic Romance

#ES = Erotica Suspense

#F = Fantasy

#H = Horror

#HA = Humor

#HF = Historical Fiction

#HR = Historical Romance

#INSP = Inspirational

#IRMC = Interracial/Multicultural

#MR = Magical Realism

#M = Mystery

#Mem = Memoir

#LGBT

#LF = Literary Fiction

#NF = Non-fiction

#R = Romance

#P = Paranormal

#PR = Paranormal Romance

#RS = Romantic Suspense

#S = Suspense

#SF = SciFi

#SPF = Speculative Fiction

#T = Thriller

#UF = Urban Fantasy

#W = Westerns

#WF = Woman’s Fiction

Some tips:

1) Don’t flood the feed with pitches for the same book. Pitching

multiple books is ok

2) Pitch only books you are querying

3) Don’t just wait for someone to ask you first. Be proactive.

4) Use the hashtags to simplify your search.

5) Be polite.

6) Remember this is a swap. Both parties must give feedback

Want to help #QuerySwap succeed? Please share via social media

or reblog this post.

Questions or concerns, please leave a comment.

Query swap post on Michelle’s website
The Query Swap Video

Why pronouns?

I’ve been having thinky thoughts about my gender lately.

I’ve always been ‘okay’ with using she/her, but lately (For the past year really, I take my time with decisions, part of my autistic nature) I’ve been wondering why that’s been the case?

I think it’s because I’ve always been called she/her/girl.

I think it’s also part of a mid-life re-evaluation of myself that has been going on for me.

Ms and Miss and Mrs have always irritated the living fuck out of me. I have hated those terms applied to me like one would hate being forced to wear a hair shirt.

When I was around four or five, I asked my mom when I’d get a penis, because I wanted one. She laughed at me so hard I never asked again.

I’ve always loathed pink, like… with a freaking passion, it’s only as an adult that I’ve learned to like a few shades of it. It’s not likely to ever be a favorite color for me.

Dresses and heels, can we talk about those? Um. Yeah, they aren’t for me. I like broomstick skirts cause they’re cool in the heat and I have curves so shorts never look good on me, but just to buy a dress to wear because I like dresses? Erm. I can’t think of a time when I’ve ever done that.

I almost have to twist my own arm to go buy a fancy dress for something that requires me to wear one, (like a wedding).

I love being a mom, but I’ve never felt like a girl. A lot of my hobbies are decidedly ‘male gendered’.

I looooove muscle cars, as in utterly adore them. I’d own one if I could. I love motorcycles too, (I’m a Harley person in case you’re curious).

I dress very androgynously, my favorite outfits are beaten up jeans that fit, flip flops or combat boots and a loose fitting shirt or a muscle shirt.

Decidedly non-feminine.

Except that I love getting mani-pedis and I wear my hair long. (Undercut at the back and sides, but long on top) I love make-up, even though I’m horribly unskilled in its application.

I loathe the trend of shaving/waxing for females as a matter of course, but I like to shave my legs in the summer, not for looks, but because I like the way it feels.

If I were to wear what I *want* to wear as a dress up? It’d be a suit vest, well tailored slacks and a dress shirt. Not sure about a tie, I’ve never tried one, so I don’t know if it works for me.

So… gender. I’ve decided to give myself permission to claim the terms AFAB (assigned female at birth, cause yeah, technically I have girl parts and there is no way on earth I’m ever going to be mistaken for male, not with my curves) and NB, non-binary. These things fit me so well I’m kind of sitting here wondering why it took me so long to realize their veracity. I’ve used the term genderqueer for over a decade, so I guess the leap isn’t that large of one.

I’ve decided that it’s okay for me to use the XIE/XEM/XYR pronouns, because they fit the real me better than she/her.

I doubt I’ll correct anyone who misgenders me in real life, it, like a lot of ways that I pass, are just too much of a fight for me most days. I don’t have the spoons to fight being white-coded, or passing as non-autistic, I doubt I’ll have the spoons to fight being misgendered either.

Online though? Yeah, I need it to be clear that I want my pronouns respected every bit as much as I try my best to respect others.

It’s absolutely amazing to me how free this decision has made me feel. I can’t even find words (and me a writer!) to express the depth of emotion claiming these terms and pronouns for myself makes me.

The closest I can come to is Joy.

 

Survivor’s guilt

I rather have more than my share of it.

Definition of Survivor Guilt

So I recognize it, when it shows up.

I have it now, at the end of the week in which the GOP run House laughed, and had beer delivered to the Whitehouse to celebrate their vote to strip over 24 million people from the country of my birth of basic health care.

Democrats celebrated too, because their party received massive donations in the wake of the vote.

People celebrating, for whatever reason, because people will die from this action. I was going to link some articles and think pieces on that, but honestly? Click over to twitter and look at this hashtag

#IAmAPreexistingCondition

People can tell it better than I can.

I’m afraid to go see if the vote passed the Senate. I’m… honestly afraid to go look. I hope it didn’t, but it’s going to make me feel even worse if it did.

See… for completely unrelated reasons, our blended international family moved to the other nation we can call home about 5 years ago (closer to 6 now) and even though I’m American… even though *I’d* be one of the ‘pre-existing conditions’ folks who would lose their health care…

I have health care. (Or I will soon, immigration stuff being what it is.)

So. Yeah.

I feel guilty as hell about that. We didn’t move to Canada for the health care (it honestly isn’t perfect, there are HUGE issues with it). But it exists, and there isn’t to my knowledge a question of whether it should or not. It’s sort of viewed as an ‘well, of COURSE healthcare is important!’ situation.

There isn’t an entire party of politicians AND THE PEOPLE WHO ELECTED THEM INTO POWER (’cause you voted them in? You caused this, don’t like that? Do something about it) trying to get rid of it.

For why?

I don’t know, I don’t understand why getting rid of healthcare is a good idea to ANYONE.

Yes, I know it’s not everyone.

I’m in such an odd place emotionally about my birth country. I have never, ever, been more ashamed of my government (considering I’m mixed race, trust me, I’ve been ashamed). I’ve also never been more proud of so many Americans who fight, who resist, who march, and call their reps, and who continually pull their weights in a very difficult fight.

I’ve rarely had more disgust than when I hear people saying they vote their conscious… really?

REALLY?

A lot of the people who say that are Christian. Is this what you thought would happen? (I’ve spoken to several people who voted for Frump out of their beliefs… I have issues with that, emotion needs to be removed from voting, faith has NO place in government, but I digress.) So, I’d ask those who say that now.

Would your savior have been happy at all the people who are going to die if that act passes the Senate (if it hasn’t already).

Or would your Jesus be as appalled as I am?

Next I’d ask, what are you doing about it?

I don’t know… I’ve rambled more than I intended with this. Speaks to the state of my mind and emotions about it all.

I just don’t get it.

My Brother

Content Warning: Suicide, Death of a sibling, Self-harm, Drug addiction.

What makes someone a brother, anyway? Is it blood? How much time you spend with someone? Familial ties? Or who they are to you?

We had all of that. Blood, time, familial ties, memories… he was so much to me. I don’t even know if he knew how important he was to me. Like every young fool, I never said it in the moment. I thought we’d have time. Then life happened.

He was my brother, that’s all that matters, especially now that he’s gone.

Three years ago today, it’s 12:51 AM, May 1, 2017. He died early in the morning, before dawn, three years ago today.

He was a couple of years younger than me, and when we were kids, it was me who stood up to the bullies when they came after us. At least until he got stronger than me. Gods, so many times we were like two peas in a pod. Together every second.

He was pretty for a boy, always was, even when he grew up.

Even when he was hooked and dealing, he was still pretty. He had brown eyes and Seelie brown hair, skin a few shades darker than mine at its darkest. (I’m one of those mixed-race folks who don’t look it unless we’ve been in the sun for 5 minutes.)

In the way brothers do, he got bigger than me and protective. He taught me to throw a punch the right way, and he taught me how to build a fire with nothing but sticks on a night neither of us could bear to go home. I’d be willing to bet to this day the parental units were too busy arguing to notice we were gone.

He also taught me how to track animals so I could watch them. He liked to hunt with a gun, I liked to hunt with a camera, but the skills are almost the same. Almost every pleasant, formative memory I have from childhood had him in it. Life wasn’t easy growing up for us, so we were one another’s anchor.

Until we grew apart as older people, he was my best friend.

You never, ever, get over the loss of a sibling. I remember the day I got the news. I found out on facebook.

As you may know, I have a pretty fucked up family (lol, if you’ve read through my blog, you know that.)

Because of who he’d become, an addict, a felon, broken… people thought I wouldn’t want to know. It was my former highschool best friend who let me know in the kindest way possible that “I should call home.”

My dad didn’t even know it had happened. I called him in a panic and caught him as he was getting his coffee and newspaper that morning and asked him, “Is Kyle dead?”

It took me most of the day to find out for sure that yeah, my brother had ODd.

Thing that didn’t make sense then, even though I think I understand now… he’d been clean for a long time. Years, ever since his kids had been born.

But you’re never quite forgiven for being an addict, no matter how much you do to get better, be better.

I’ll never know why he did it.

See, he was smart. Smarter than me by far, part of why he ended up so broken is that… well, in a family of people who cling to their ignorance like it’s holy, being smart isn’t the vaunted thing it should be (it broke me, too, so I get it.) He had to have known after being clean for so long what would happen.

I can’t believe he didn’t.

I don’t even know what happened that made him do it. I can guess, a lot of shit happened leading up to it that isn’t mine to share, but… I’ll never know.

When I knew for sure that he was gone, that he’d done it, I paced around my living room until my screams boiled out. I’ll be forever grateful that my daughter was in school that day and that my son was napping a tired toddler sleep. I bit through the meat of my palm to keep silent enough that I wouldn’t wake up my son.

Even now, it hurts so much just to think about, much less write it all down.

Because of life and immigration issues, I hadn’t seen him in over five years. Now, I’ll never see him again.

Gods damnit.

Kyle. I speak your name and remember.

Everything.