Authorial Envy, Friendships and how to deal.

It’s a fact of life I think that anyone with a book out is going to (whether we want to or not) compare our books with the ones that big 5 publishing gives the marketing push to.

I sure do. It stinks. I hate it that I compare my books with the ones that have so much monetary backing behind the marketing that it’s so far out of my book’s league.

But how can I *not* feel envy during awards season?

Am I thrilled to see this year’s Hugo Awards going to the extremely deserving diverse authors that they went to? Absolutely! I read and loved (and voted for) a lot of those books.

But my books aren’t ever likely going to be there because people don’t even know who I am. Ninestar press, the house I’m with provides stories that are so well edited, with stunning cover art and wonderful, amazing stories that I need to read. Queer stories. But they’re a small press, and they just can’t compete financially with the corporate monsters that are Big 5 Publishing.

Even two similar authors within Big 5 publishing may have completely different experiences and suffer related issues with regards to feelings. A mid-list debut vs. a star debut for instance.

That’s bound to make any author experience envy, maybe bitterness or anger. So how do we deal with those kinds of emotions? How do we maintain friendships with authors who we’ve often known for years who may have gotten the marketing push?

1) We acknowledge them. Our feelings are valid. It does suck to know your book can’t compete. My name isn’t a household name, but other debut authors who’ve written books almost exactly the same as mine are. I’ve even worked on some of their books with them in the early stages before they got their contracts. My book isn’t well known and theirs is. Why? Their books got chosen to get the marketing push. It’s not even about quality. Corporate publishing is precisely that. Corporate I’ve read insider accounts of how books are selected for that marketing push, and it has nothing to do with quality, story, editing or anything that we reader/writer type peeps think matters in a story. I’ve worked enough in corporate to believe it too. So we need to take our pride out of the equation. It’s nothing that we did wrong, and they did right. It’s just the luck of the draw. Corporate, for whatever reason corporate had for that season, chose THAT book to push into the minds and awareness of readers through the holy power of the dollar. Both books are still good. Both authors are still (likely) great people who have worked damned hard at their craft.

2) We Accept our feelings. I’ve been in therapy off and on most of my life, and one thing my therapists have always told me to do is to accept that my feelings are real and that they’re valid. They may be yucky, messy, and uncontrollable, but they are our feelings, and the first step to dealing with these often unpleasant emotions in this business is to accept that they exist and are valid.

3) This part is important! We Do Not Act On Our Feelings! Publishing is small peeps. Lashing out at people who got the marketing push when you didn’t is shitty behavior. Don’t do it. It’s not the author’s fault their book got chosen any more than it’s your fault that yours didn’t. I’m friends with several debut authors whose books were chosen for the push. Think about what I might have done to my friends if I had lashed out about how much it hurts that my book has 17 reviews when theirs have 500 or more? It’s not their fault any more than it’s mine. It would’ve ruined the friendship, that’s for damned certain. The reason, again, that their books got that many reviews so quickly is because reviewers often get free print books from Big 5 publishers. Some reviewers REQUIRE print books before they’ll review, (which speaks to a bit of bias I’ll try to address in a future post) meaning that small press, again, can’t compete because it costs money to print the books to send to the reviewers. Big 5 presses have their own printers and storage places, most small press and self-pub use POD (print on demand). Mid-list authors with big 5 press might have a smaller allotment of ARCs that will be sent out to reviewers than are allotted to the star debut, again, it’s not the mid-listers fault any more than it’s the star debut author’s fault.

4) So. How do we maintain authorial relationships with these mixed and divided feelings? A couple of things that have worked for me that may work for you.

a. Remember that your friend might be overwhelmed at all the attention, they’re still your friend. Check up on them! Ask them if they’re okay and if they need anything!

b. If you have other friends who are in the same boat as you are, you can talk to them and share your feelings. It’s healthy to find out that many of us feel the same way, and often times, sharing the way we feel can help us not take it so hard.

c. Do NOT take your yucky emotions out on your friend. Try instead to be happy for their success. They did the same thing you did, you both wrote a book and managed to swim through the creative waters to the point of this: YOU BOTH PUBLISHED A BOOK!! Do you have any idea how many people say they want to write a book, but don’t? Who start but never finish? Try to separate the yucky emotions from the honest happiness that you DO feel for your friend. (It’s there. You might have to do some personal work to find it, but it IS there.) I know I’m utterly ecstatic for my writer friends and acquaintances when something goes right for them. My soul feels giddy for them.

d. Success in publishing can be a bright light that goes out very quickly. Sometimes a debut title that makes a big splash can be hard to live up to with the dreaded book two. Your friend might be worried about that so they might need you to be a good friend and not a jealous hell-beast from the bog of stench-envy. I have friendships with some big-name authors at this point, and every single one of them worries that their next book won’t be as well received as the last. That the previous book was their big bright splash on the map of publishing and nothing else will ever be as good. Trust me, they feel it. ALL of us feel it, no matter where in our journey and how successful or not we are. You might too if you ever get to that point. I am damned sure I’ll want my friends if I ever do get to a very high point in my career as an author.

e. I try to put myself in their shoes at every step on the road. What is my friend feeling? What would I be feeling in their place? How would I be dealing with X? What would I want from my friends if our places were reversed?

Empathy. In short. It’s about having empathy for yourself and for your friend.
Now go write your next book (and I’m going to follow my own advice and finish the sequel to my debut, Blood-Bound).


Kaelan is a non-binary author of mixed race from Upstate NY in the United States who currently lives with xyr partner of 20 years and their children in Southern Ontario, Canada. Xie is not represented by an agent.

Xyr family has three cats, a grumpy rescue chinchilla, and a betta fish. Other than writing, Xie freelances as an editor, makes jewelry and spins with a spinning wheel when xie isn’t writing or spending too much time on Twitter.

Xie is non-binary, autistic, mentally ill, and physically disabled. You can connect with Kae on the following social media platforms.

Twitter
Facebook
Website
Email Kae at Kaelan.rhywiol@gmail.com

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Final Fantasy 14 Geek-out

I’ve been a gamer since I was tiny.

Ever since pong.

I think I was six the first time I played a computer game of some sort. On an Atari. Yes. I’m THAT old. Shhhh. First actual computer was a Commodore 64.

So that means I’ve been gaming with some regularity for probably 35 years? I took a bit of a break from it, only playing games I could easily step away from while the kids were tiny, but in December a lovely person sent me credit to a couple of online gaming sites.

Blizzard, Steam etc. So a friend of mine suggested I try the ‘new’ (lolz, I was behind, okay? It wasn’t that new) Starcraft II. (I REALLY HOPE THEY MAKE A STARCRAFT THREE!!!)

It hooked me back into gaming so hard and fast and I played it through three times on different difficulty levels before starting to look for something else.

Now… you have to think about something. I played MMOs back in University, some 20 years ago, when there was NO VISUAL COMPONENT.

Back then, they were sort of like glorified chat rooms.

So when another friend suggested I try WoW I did the free trial, and yeah. Hooked.

I ran through my trial and never subscribed because there were a few things I REALLY didn’t like about WoW. Just starting out with MMOs, I was not interested in grinding through 100 levels just to get to the good stuff (new content). Then when the game developers made it so damned hard to PLAY as a newbie that I legit couldn’t play without my partner in crime. (hubs) it lost its magic for me. There are some things I miss about WoW, and I may take a break from FFXIV to go back to my Feral at some point, cause I really did love playing it, but… I dunno. Draenor drained me.

A couple of my other friends played other MMOs so they suggested Final Fantasy 14 next.

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Lolz, I think the last final fantasy I played was like 4? or 7 maybe? It had been a long damned time anyway.

I did the trial of FFXIV and I am soooooo addicted. I’m so very grateful people are sending me gift cards and crysta so I can KEEP feeding this addiction of mine.

Why do I love it so, though? What does it do for me?

Well, one, it’s just so flipping pretty. The artwork alone makes me happy when I’m playing the game.

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Two… it gives me the illusion of traveling. I hate to admit it, but between being disabled, poor as ever living fuck (I mean, our family looks UP to the poverty line and waves fondly at it.) I can’t travel.

I’d love to go to the Carribean, or visit mountains, or see distant lands but as it stands? I can’t. And unless I start selling a metric ton of books, I won’t ever be able to, so the game gives me that. The backgrounds are so gorgeous and realistic, the sound effects so lovely that it *almost* feels real. It gives me a sense of what it MIGHT be like if I COULD travel.

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The fantasy storyline is fun. If you come at me with the idea that poor people shouldn’t have fun, then I’ll come back at you with mental health statistics on why poor people, even more than wealthy ones, need some form of pleasure in their lives.

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Lolz, I’ve totally already figured out the storyline, I think I had by maybe 1/4 the way through the Main Story Quest line, but that’s irrelevant to me. I can still enjoy it.

I saw the twist around level 48 coming too. But I don’t care. I don’t need fantasy to always be unpredictable. This one being predictable (to me, I AM a writer after all, this is my stock in trade) is a comfort to me.

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There aren’t many surprises.

The artwork style for the combat and the drawing style of the animations is a particular style of anime type of illustration that I’ve loved since I was tiny. It’s so gorgeous! It’s flashy and fun and it lets me escape my not so great life when I need it most.

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It lets me pretend to have the body that I would have if I had a magic wand. (I play a gender bender, and he’s healthy and able to do things I haven’t been able to do in 20 years, like run, and climb and… yeah.)

When I get bored of fighting, I can go do a crafting mission, when I get bored of crafting, I can do a beast tribe quest (repetitive, but they give me stuff I need). I can eventually buy a house, (which I will likely never be able to do in real life) and I can hang out with other people who like to play it too.

I’m a solitary player for most of these games, but the chat function while playing is actually growing on me.

Lolz, I was joking with a friend of mine (one of the ones who got me into it) about that, because I was SUPER reluctant to try learning to talk to people on games, but I’m getting there. I’m starting to miss it when I *don’t* have someone to talk to when I’m playing.

I’m sure after I finish writing this that I’ll think of a bazillion more reasons why I love Final Fantasy 14, but for now… that’s enough. I’ve blathered for almost 1k words about it already.

I’m always looking for people to talk to while I’m playing, and those who won’t be complete asshats to me when I need to do the dungeons (I… am not good at dungeons, mostly cause I avoid doing them unless I absolutely have to). So feel free to look up my character. I’m Makara Aviyah on there, for now, (lolz, as much as I love it I eventually want to have an alt of each of the different races).

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You can find my very sparse profile on Enjin if you want it and I’m always so grateful for people who send me ways (game cards, crysta etc) that helps me keep playing because gods know I can’t really afford it on what little I make as a writer.

Sometimes… you just need a little escape from your life. For me, for now (and probably for as long as I can keep playing) FFXIV is that for me.

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And oddly enough, it actually seems to help when I’m stuck with the writing thing. Gaming has always sort of done that for me. But I’m finding that since most of my writing work is speculative fiction of some sort, playing in someone else’s conceptual world helps me come up with mine.

Did I mention that it’s pretty? Lolz.

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Oh… and you get to ride a chicken-horse. That eventually learns to fight with you. XD

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Did I mention that I’m addicted yet?

All images are from the Final Fantasy XIV A Realm Reborn website.

My username is KaelanRhy on the game, in case you want to find me that way.

Queer Kerfluffles and Marginalized readers

Content warning bad words and loud opinions.

EDIT: JESUS FUCKING CHRIST ON A CRUTCH. Non-autistic readers, I am AUTISTIC, I mean ONLY what I’m saying with the words that are on the page. I am not IMPLYING anything. There is NO HIDDEN MESSAGE. Y’all have caused me to have an emotional meltdown with your accusations.

If I wanted to SAY don’t write something, I would say DON’T WRITE SOMETHING.

I was trying to convince myself not to write this post. I’m so flipping MAD right now, and I try not to emote too much when I’m mad. But I feel maybe I need to write this post. Both for me and for other marginalized readers.

Right now on Twitter there’s a kerfluffle in the m/m romance and erotica community. I don’t even know what originally started it and honestly, other than rabid curiosity  I don’t care that much.

I was vaguely aware of the dust-up but was ignoring it. I’ve got sequels to write and art to do and I just don’t have the time.

Until a former mutual made the mistake of saying readers should judge a book BY the book instead of by the author’s ID.

This was in regards to m/m romance.

No. Nope. Niet. Nix. Nie. Nein. No fucking way.

Why?

First point. It’s awfully fucking privileged to say that to a marginalized reader. And if you’re saying it on Twitter? You’re saying it to marginalized readers. We’re kinda everywhere there. You know?

It’s how we tend to get book recommendations.

Oh, yeah, I’m marginalized, I’m a special little snowflake. I’m mixed race, I’m queer as a three dollar bill (pansexual, kinky, asexual, non-binary trans), I’m mentally ill, I’m chronically ill (fibromyalgia/possibly EDS), I’m autistic… there’s probably more stuff I’m forgetting.

I NEED NEED NEED NEED good representation of my marginalizations. I need it like I need water to drink or air to breathe.

I need to see myself in fiction. In the pages of a book, on the screen. I need this so much.

And people are daring to tell me I shouldn’t care who writes the book?

Look. Don’t go off from here thinking I’m insisting every author out themselves. I’m not. It’s NOT a safe world to be any sort of marginalized author and I will never, ever say you have to out yourself.

But you shouldn’t be insisting that I read your books either, if you aren’t going to be out. If you absolutely aren’t marginalized? Where the fuck do you get off?

Now… the former mutual in question I know for a fact is an allo cis het vanilla writer of m/m kink. I know, because I asked, that they write it for money and because they love to read m/m porn.

Whatever… you do you. Write your books, take your lumps if you fuck it up. Just like any other author on the face of the planet. She gets to choose what she writes, and what she doesn’t and honestly? I could really care less.

But don’t tell me I have to read it. Don’t tell me or any other marginalized reader that it’ll be just as good as queer fiction.

I don’t have to read it and it almost certainly won’t be.

I do not in any way have to judge a book by the book itself, not if it’s written about one of my marginalizations.

Why?

Because historically marginalized people have had books written ABOUT us. They aren’t written FOR us. And trust me, there is a huge damned difference.

Do you know what doing that is? That’s profiting off the backs of our very existence, while edging us out of publishing, because when you’re white, cis, allo, het you AUTOMATICALLY HAVE A LEG UP IN THIS INDUSTRY.

And often? The books aren’t that good. They’re just not. Even IF the author hasn’t fucked it up, (and a lot of them really DO, see my ass sex post for just ONE of the ways they fuck it up) they completely miss the nuance that marginalized authors bring to their work.

Because they don’t live it, they cannot, as in they are NOT capable of actually repping that. I mean, how could they be?

No amount of research in the world can give you lived experience.

None.

Research can keep you from fucking it up (dear gods I hope, anyway) but it can’t let you know what it FEELS like to be autistic, or queer, or mentally ill, or (insert marginalization).

It just can’t.

We as authors of things, especially queer things, do need to make room for people who are exploring their queerness. Identity is weird everyone, it really is. Writing is often a way to find out that oh, hey, wow, I’m REALLY FUCKING QUEER.

Writing and reading helped me figure out that oh, wait, I’m actually trans and was so heavily socialized as a ‘girl’ that I didn’t know that.

So yes I’m absolutely willing to make room for those baby queers who are exploring. That’s not what this is about, so don’t even start with me about it.

(And you know, I’ve read work by people who *I* could tell they were queer even if they didn’t know it yet, I’ll never forget reading one of my favorite authors and being surprised as hell to find out that they thought they were straight and vanilla. Author came out later that year as being bi and kinky, but after reading their work? I already knew that.)

I’m not gatekeeping with this post. I really don’t care if you want to write marginalizations that aren’t yours. What I do care about is you insisting that we marginalized readers MUST give it a chance. We do not, in any way shape or form owe you that.

I once listened to a radio program on the CBC where an older white male writer opined that he thought HE could write what it felt like to be a black woman BETTER THAN A BLACK WOMAN.

Because he was objective and did his research. I swear to gods you can’t make this shit up.

The fucking arrogance is astounding. Truly.

So. How close do you have to be to write it right? (or at least WELL… jeez)

I think that depends on the topic, to be frank.

I really don’t want non-autistic writers writing about autism or having an autistic MC because they’re gonna get it wrong. There is SO MUCH misinformation out there about what an autistic is really like that… yeah, just don’t. Leave that to those of us who live it please and thank you. EDIT: If you absolutely feel compelled to write an autistic MC, HIRE A BLOODY AUTHENTICITY READER.

I think queer people can write pretty much any variety of queer fiction (EDIT: including kinky fiction, kink, trans, ace etc are all part of the LGBTQQIAAP2 acronym and I don’t understand how that is even a question. Kink is also a part of the QUILTBAG thank you very much), as long as they do their research and employ an authenticity (previously known as sensitivity) reader.

I include m/m sex in my books, yes, absolutely, but every m/m scene I include is beta read by three bi or gay male beta readers. I’ve known them since university and they have no trouble smacking me down if I get it wrong.

Trans fiction is tougher, I’m a little leary saying all queers could write trans fiction because…well… how would all queers know what it feels like to be trans? But they’re probably less likely to fuck it up than a cis person would be.

I think a mentally ill person can probably write most mental illnesses, but maybe not the really badly demonized ones like DID or sociopathy or BPD or even ED.

I think for kink? You really need to be kinky/think you’re kinky to be writing it. Not sorry. EDIT: It is POSSIBLE to write kink well without being kinky based on research alone. It may still ring false to a lifestyle kinkster, but as long as it’s not harmful? Enh? Go for it. The reason I’m fussy about this?

POINTS AT ALL THE DAMAGE 50 SHADES OF GAGS HAS DONE.

EDIT: I personally know people who will bear lifelong emotional and physical scars from their partners reading poorly written kink and then doing it. Kink. Is. Not. A. Game.

If you aren’t black, why are you writing a black MC? Seriously, you really think you’re better at writing their experience than they are? Please. EDIT: First Person POV. I think it’s fine, based on what I’ve seen black people say, to write a third person POV black person or Asian person (or other POC)… because in third person, you’re writing about/including them, not REPRESENTING them.

If you aren’t mixed race, or Asian, or… why? Why are you writing it?

If you aren’t asexual, you’re gonna fuck it up, because not even all of us aces agree on what good rep is. EDIT: So you fuck it up? Big deal. People have been fucking it up all through history. I’m not saying don’t write it. You do you.

At the end of the day, you, as a writer, need to ask yourself WHY you’re writing what you’re writing with regards to marginalizations. You need to ask yourself if it’s your story to tell, because some of them, no matter how shiny an idea or fluffy a plot-bunny, will not be your story to tell.

You need to ask yourself what kind of harm you’re doing (cause if you aren’t OF the marginalization, but you’ve chosen to write it anyway? YOU ARE CAPABLE OF DOING ENORMOUS HARM. Not Fucking Sorry).

If you’re a cis het non-queer of other variety person writing m/m fiction for money? I don’t have a lot of respect for you, but go for it. There’s a market full of cis het women dying to fetishize gay men. Have fun, just don’t pretend you’re doing anything but writing it for the money and the fetishization of real people.

If you’re writing it because you just happen to love gay romance? Get gay/bi male beta readers at the very least and DO YOUR RESEARCH.

If you’re white and you’re writing a first-person black POV MC? Also don’t have a hell of a lot of respect for you, because we all can see why you’re doing it. You think it’s the in thing and it’s gonna get you cookies. (It’s not, really, it might get you published, because you have a leg up in this industry over black and mixed race peeps right from the get go.)

*I* won’t even write some of my marginalizations. I have a black/native grandfather, and a native grandmother, that does not mean I have the right to write what it feels like to be black or native american. It just does not, cause hello… I turn into Casper in the winter.

(I’m mixed, I tan really well, but I’m not black or native american. EDIT: My great grandfather was Portuguese and Spanish, I’m technically latinx, EDIT: Apparently that doesn’t make me latinix, I’ve been educated about that. Still, I won’t write it. But I won’t write that either, not and rep what that experience feels like. I’m white coded and I have passing-privilege.) I do write a lot of mixed-race characters because I can authentically rep that.

I read mostly own-voices work these days, because hands down, the work is so much better than non-own-voices. It just IS.

It all comes down to some questions and statements.

Who are you writing for?

Is it your story to tell? Some stories ARE NOT YOURS TO TELL Not sorry.

What kind of harm can it do?

WHY are you writing it?

and the statements:

Make your worlds realistic with all kinds of people, YES ABSOLUTELY. 

PLEASE include us, but don’t USE us.

Lolz, and don’t tell us we have to read your books. I don’t owe a read to anyone, especially if they’re writing ABOUT me instead of FOR me.

EDIT: I have been attacked by non-autistic people that I thought were pretty cool and accepting types because of this post. I do not understand how they can think I’m saying ‘don’t write that’ ‘ace and trans aren’t queer’ from anything in this post. I have since edited it, all edits are noted with EDIT and colored a different shade, take all the receipts you want. I haven’t deleted anything, nor will I. It would be dishonorable.

Y’all. You could do a LITTLE bit of work when it comes to communicating with autistics. We work all the gods damned time to communicate with you.

There is NO implied meaning to any of that. None. That’s on the reader if they think there’s something more behind it. Not on me for saying what I actually mean.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Research as a writer

So. Research, we all know we need to do it, right?

I mean… we DO know we need to do some, when we’re writing, right?

Nope. We all really don’t seem to know this.

I read a book this past weekend that was a historical and it was very, very obvious that a lot (or maybe any) research hadn’t been conducted.

The story premise was good, but it lacked the depth that research could have given it.

I honestly can’t think of any genre of writing that you can get away with NOT doing research for. Picture books, maybe? But I did a ton of research for my Ace Shark picture book, so maybe not even that?

Some genres are heavier on research than others, I do the MOST research for Historical and Science Fantasy, but even for my paranormal titles, I still do a ton of research.

For my Ilavani series, I did so much research into genetic modification, quantum physics and historical power structures including the history and structures of indentured service that I could probably write at least a master’s level thesis on any of those subjects.

For my upcoming Bloodbound from NineStar Press I did massive amounts of research into the Mabinogian, Welsh Folklore, and supernatural critters.

Now. How do I do research?

It varies? That’s as helpful as mud, isn’t it?

So. I have a couple degrees in research related stuff. So I know how to do high-brow research.

But honestly? I start with Wikipedia.

Not so much for the articles, though some of them are surprisingly good, but for the links leading out from the articles.

Even if you JUST read the Wikipedia articles about the subjects you’re writing about, it’s probably enough for a lot of mainstream fiction.

But you can also find pages like this one (here on my site) where I add interesting links that I’ve found while I’m doing research for my books.

You can follow the links from Wikipedia to find further information. You can google search a specific topic (most of the links on my resources page were found doing one of those two things).

If it’s a topic? There is someone who geeks out about it. Find the geeks talking about it and listen to them. Many of them are very interested in consulting (waves at the lovely people helping me with long-range sniper rifles right now) in order to get the info RIGHT in books.

Cause getting it right kind of matters. Very little will throw me out of a story faster than a fact that I know to be untrue.

Because then I have to go look it up to remind myself that it is, in fact, untrue.

If I find it’s not factual, I will very likely never pick the book up again. Not everyone is as fussy as I am about things being authentic, but I very much am.

Why should I waste my valuable time in reading your words if you didn’t waste YOUR time looking up the information to get it freaking right?

I also use TV Tropes a lot (I spent probably weeks on this site while I was developing the world for the Ace Assassin World. (Bloodbound April 30th, 2018, and OMG that’s getting close!)

Just type in what you want to know about in the search bar and browse to your heart’s content. You’ll likely be surprised at all the questions you didn’t know you didn’t know to ask that you suddenly have when you do that.

Fair warning, it’s a HUGE rabbit hole. You could get lost. Take some carrots as a snack.

Where can you find the geeks? Internet. Most of us have blogs where we obsess about our interests. For those of us who don’t have blogs, we go to group meetings about the topic that we love.

IE: Beekeeping, look for a local beekeepers/apiarists association. They are in most towns, but it’s one of those things you probably have to go looking for to find.

Same with Blacksmithing, or genealogy, or spinning, or weaving, or, or, or, or…

Twitter is a fantastic resource cause many of us geeks do threads about topics we’d like people to get right.

If it’s a historical topic, you could look for historical reenactment groups. They exist for most areas of history, and trust me, you’ll find history geeks there.

Libraries are a fantastic resource if you can get to one. Librarians will often help you find books about any subject you need because that’s what they both love and get paid to do.

So. There is my two cents on research.

 

 

 

 

I’m the NaNoWriMo Municipal Liason for 2017!

Eek!

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Hi! I’m the Municipal Liason for London Ontario for NaNoWriMo this year, and hopefully, it’ll be a fun time. It’s not my first go-round on event planning.

I’ve written 5 books, published several and have more coming. I also have a novella and several vignettes in publication. (My books are here, if you’re curious.)

Biggest help other than event planning? I’ve won NaNo before, AND gone on to publish those books. I know what it takes and I can (maybe?) help you do it too.

I’m going to put everything to do with it (links etc.) here as well as on the NaNoWriMo.org forums.

You can find our Regional group and forums here.

So.

I’m a Twitter lover. (I blogged about how I do twitter here)

My Twitter if you want to follow me: @KaelanRhy

First things first is the hashtag for our area. London Ontario Canada, so we’ll tag all posts for the region with #SOLondonWrimo

If you’ve found this site via Twitter, ALL of this info is also available via the NaNoWriMo.org Regional Forums.

The first thing I’ll ask from y’all is to take a survey telling me how often, and where, you want to meet. There are 9 questions.

Survey for where and how many times we’d like to meet.

Breaking a Habit

They say it takes 21 days to truly break a habit.

I’m not sure how true that is, but I do know that I just had to stop myself from sending out another query.

I got yet another rejection, and I had to stop myself from sending a query to another agent at that house.

I could, I guess… I did say that I’d query everyone possible on BLOODBOUND, my fifth and last heavily queried title. But when I poke at my heart it hurts so damned badly at even the idea of putting another query letter together that I know I can’t do it.

That I shouldn’t do it.

That I’d be damaging myself further by doing so and that no, really, it’s not worth it.

So many people say… it only takes one yes! With regard to attracting an agent.

Not even a yes is going to be worth the pain I’ve self-inflicted by continuing to query in the face of 5 books worth of rejections.

Especially when readers love my stories.

Even if I DID get an offer of representation, AND chose to accept it… it still wouldn’t heal the damage.

I don’t know how people can think it would. Only one yes?

Sure, it only takes one.

But it’s one that I feel isn’t likely to come for me, and I’m just too tired to keep slogging through these trenches.

I tried to write yesterday, I found 560 or so words. It was like pulling teeth and does not at all feel like writing usually does for me (a joy). It felt painful and made me unhappy with myself.

Querying has taken my joy of writing from me. So no, I won’t send that query. There are 5 other agents at that agency I could query, that I had listed as being potentially interested in my work.

But no. I’m done. I have to be.

I don’t have joy in life for many reasons I’ve already discussed on my blog, but a large portion of that ability to feel joy has been bled away by querying, so yeah. I have to be done.

If that means I fail to query the ONE agent who might give me that ONE yes? Unfortunately, that’d be another cost of what querying has done to me.

The broken system has broken me. I’m not the only marginalized writer who has been broken by it all.

I’m just the latest.

 

Recovery

The first step to recovering from a slide into depression, or so my therapy has told me over time…

Is to change behavior, if you can.

I can’t do anything about the loss of our home, that’s just a wound I have to bear.

I CAN do something about how badly querying is affecting me.

I stopped.

I’m done sending queries. I can feel myself lifting up with the realization that IF I ever write another query letter, it’ll be because I’ve written another book and pitched it during a contest.

IF I choose to do that.

My spirits are lifting, because I’ve removed that burden from myself.

It also hurts like a motherfucker and makes me feel like I’m giving up.

That… because I CAN’T do something, I’m weak, broken, ruined.

There’s no doubt left in me that I can keep querying. I can’t do it, it wrecks my mental health so badly that I stopped writing.

I haven’t written anything new in months, I can say that now. I can point at the fact that querying is what caused it, or maybe the rejections from querying.

I can feel the itch, the niggle, to begin writing again growing in me. This is good. It’s so good.

It really hurts to see people I’ve been slogging through the query trenches with announcing they have an agent, or even… in some cases, a second agent, a replacement one.

It hurts, like a stab to my heart because I know that I won’t ever be able to make that announcement for myself.

Because I had to give up to preserve my mental health.

I’m so happy for my friends who’ve managed to find the kind of success I was also looking for. I wish them the best of luck and bright careers and many sales.

It doesn’t change how much it hurts me to see them getting what I’ve tried for so long to achieve.

That I’ll likely never have.

 

 

 

Mental Health Hiccup

Sorry, it’s another not so pretty blog post. You can pretty much tell my mood by how much effort I put into to putting images and what not into my blogs.

I had a mental health hiccup this week.

For so many reasons.

Let me count the ways. (That’s a Shakes joke, laugh already, I’m funny!)

Where to start though?

I don’t know how to make my life work again.

I found myself wandering in the aisles of a store, looking for something I was supposed to buy and wanting to just stop. Not be, anymore. At that moment, if I could’ve pushed a button and not been? I might have.

What it comes down to is this.

I don’t know how to pick up the pieces and rebuild my life, again.

Regular readers of my blog or people I talk to on twitter know that the past year has been absolute hell for me.

We lost our home. It was the second house we’d lost that I’d thought we wouldn’t ever leave unless we wanted to. First one was in the ‘housing bubble’ in the US. We were some of the people taken advantage of by shoddy mortgage practices because we didn’t know any better (I even thought I’d done my research, HA!). So that was house one.

We eventually moved to another country based on promises of family to help us get established. Hubs family is well off, to put it blandly. WE are not.

Nothing has ever seemed to work the way things are SUPPOSED to.

Hubs and I are both well educated, we listened to our elders and betters and went to University, got the degrees, got the jobs with the decent paychecks.

We still lost our house. (Some of that was our fault because we didn’t manage money well, most of it was rapacious mortgaging practices).

We’re both professionals, between the two of us we hold 6 university degrees and multiple certifications and clearances and what not.

Still couldn’t make ends meet in the states once we had a kid. I didn’t make enough to pay for what childcare cost, so we elected to have me stay home.

Then came the invitation to uproot and move to a different country with help from family to get us settled.

Except, when it turned out that it would take 6 years (instead of the 6 months it should’ve taken) to get my immigration paperwork ironed out (because we again, listened to our elders and betters and used one of their lawyer friends, who subsequently fucked us over) their help and patience with us dried up like a drop of water in a desert.

No matter how much we did for them to try to help them, the fact that I legally couldn’t work in this country was somehow our fault. It was somehow our fault that my hubs company closed the branch in town he worked at and he was, once again, unemployed.

(The Parents In Law take narcissistic toxic relationships to the next level, just saying.)

It didn’t matter that he went to work at one of his parent’s companies for a pittance, just to keep food on the table.

All that mattered, to them, was that we ‘hadn’t held up our end of the deal’ (That we’d take over the mortgage in full, vs in part.)

We were really close too, about 3 more months would see my husband’s practice start making enough that we could afford the mortgage and start paying back the 8 months of back payments to them. We’d been up to date until he lost his job. (I did mention that they’re well off? Between the pair of them, they make easily over 400k a year, and that’s not counting the millions they have in investments from previous businesses, sales, and working in tax free countries.

But they’d made up their minds. They were done supporting us. (They weren’t. The amount of things we did free of charge for them as far as working on their house, helping them with things, being paid less than minimum wage to work at the business… yeah… it equaled out, if you’re talking sweat equity. The number of times I changed my plans to watch their stupid dogs, or to feed their stupid fish… all so that we could somehow make recompense for the shitty hand we’d been dealt? It equaled out.)

We never got back the 40k of our cash we sank into the house in upkeep and repairs, either. Because that wasn’t counted in the final reckoning.

So.

The house, my kids backyard with playset, sandbox, deck. My garden, which I’d poured blood, sweat, labor, and tears into for 6 years.

It’s all gone. We’re in a much smaller, crappier house (which is, ironically, more expensive than the mortgage was, and we’re paying it, for now, until something else goes wrong).

Then November 8th happened, and my family showed me their true colors. I’m totally not going there right now, if you go back to November in my blog you can read up. I talked about it there.

Then in February, I started querying again. With my fifth completed novel.

Let me tell you something. I love writing like I’ve rarely loved anything I’ve ever done in my entire life.

This should’ve been obvious I suppose, I did start writing when I was 11 (officially anyway, I drew/wrote my first book in kindergarten, with the cover on upside down).

I’ve always written, it seems. So it really shouldn’t’ve surprised me how much I love to write.

The business aspect of attempting to land an agent and a traditional publishing deal has completely gutted my already fragile mental health.

I decided to try one last time, with this last book, book 5. I slogged through the shit-covered swill of the query trenches. I’ve sent over 150 queries to agents and small press on that book.

Lol, yeah, I know what you’re thinking, it’s the writing? The pacing? The plot?

Nope. Sorry. All these rejections would be easier to take if it was. I have multi-published authors as critique partners, & one of my CPs is an editor at small press with tons of history in the field. That book has been beta tested to upwards of twenty readers (strangers, not friends or family), they’ve all, each and every one, enjoyed it or outright loved it.

Agents, obviously, don’t.

Small press… so far… obviously doesn’t.

Wait, Kae, don’t you own a press? Indicating some knowledge on how to get books onto the market?

You’re perceptive aren’t ya, my reader? Yes, I know how to do all that.

Yes. I opened a press to act as a safety net for marginalized writers who write good stories and don’t want to self-pub. As I say on my website though, editing and publishing are not my first love. Unless I or one of my editors absolutely LOVE a story, we’re not going to sign it. Just because it isn’t our all-encompassing, driving, passion, to be publishing books. We do want to make a difference, we do want to offer more marginalized stories to the world, but… none of us are going to make money doing this, and we all have lives and jobs and our own books to write.

I have no chance of making money off of all of my hard work if I go with my press. If I had a traditional publishing deal, I might get an advance, I’d at least have the cachet of a ‘name’ behind me. That still, oddly, given the quality of books they’ve been putting out lately, has meaning to so many people. (Not to me, unless I KNOW an author is good, I don’t buy big5 books anymore. I just don’t. There are very few authors who I do, and that number is falling fast.)

Which is why, even in the face of desires to self-harm for the first time in over a decade, I still kept on sending queries out.

I have to stop though.

I have to.

The advice to keep trying, keep trunking novels… you know, that might work for non-marginalized writers, it certainly works for agents, cause they have the pick of the crop to their own taste.

I know that I, as a marginalized writer, can’t keep doing this. Their system is broken and wasn’t ever meant for someone like me.

Keep Writing! We’re excoriated. When out on submission, write something else!

Okay. But what if you can’t?

I literally cannot write when I’ve got a book stuck in the query trenches. I can’t do it.

It’s going on a month and a half, at least (probably more, but I’ve been trying not to count). Since I’ve been able to put words on screen.

Considering that writing is my principal method of coping, self-care, and helping myself get on with living in the face of anxiety, depression, PTSD and searing loneliness?

This whole situation isn’t working for me.

It’s making me more suicidal than I’ve been since I was a young adult.

It’s making me want to cut myself, just so I can feel alive and have some control over my pain.

I’m a mom, and I won’t deprive my kids of the shambling wreck of a being they have to call mother. My mess behind the loving mask they see.

I’m better than nothing, I guess. Sometimes.

I’m constantly battling with my own mind that is always whispering to me that everyone I know and love, my husband and kids especially would be better off if I died.

If I weren’t a burden to them anymore.

In my rational moments, I know this to be the depression talking. I know it’s my mental illness. Not the truth.

My rational moments are fading into static.

Depression meds don’t work for me by the way, in case you’re wondering why I don’t seek them out (not that I could afford them, really… but, you know, that’s a separate issue). They cause a whole mass of problems that are worse than the symptoms.

Writing helps. When I can do it. I’m a much happier, more stable person when I’m able to write every day (or most days).

I’m a much happier person when I hear from a reader who loves my words or read a review that lets me know that my work meant something to someone.

Yet. Standing in that aisle at the store on Saturday? I didn’t want to take another step. I didn’t want to suck another breath.

I wanted to stop.

Everything.

Knowing the kids were waiting for me at home was the only thing that made me take the next step, made me suck the next breath.

I don’t know if they’ll ever know how many times they’ve saved my life. Kept me breathing, kept me doing and moving.

I can’t say I’m entirely grateful, weeks like this week, I’d just as soon lay down and never get up again.

Dying is easy. It’s living, and bearing up and continuing on despite wanting to die that’s hard.

So hard.

One of my favorite activities used to be gardening. I let the kids talk me into getting some organic plants to put in our tiny patch of ground out back. We used to garden together every summer. So we did it, and I have the sore ass and thigh muscles to prove it.

I found no joy in it though. Only more pain. I find no joy in anything anymore. I don’t know how to pick up the pieces of my life and make them make sense again.

In mental health jargon they call it resiliency. The ability to take a knock and keep going, to pick yourself up and start again when things go wrong.

This last blow, and maybe the continuing blows of rejections, closed-no responses, etc on my queries…

It’s all reduced me to a bag of bloody, broken shards of glass.

Nothing fits, and I cut myself to bleed all over whenever I try to glue the pieces back together.

With dried up super glue.

I’m not a danger to myself or anyone else. I can’t will myself to stop breathing, body won’t let me do that. I’ll never willingly take my life away from my kids.

Even this piss poor excuse for a mother is better than none.

It doesn’t make it easier to keep going though.

Some days. I just want it all to stop.

I’d like to feel joy, excitement, and passion again.

Maybe someday, if I keep sucking wind, I will.

Optimist. That’s me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The History and Value of Patronage

Trying something new, you can hear me narrate this post here… while you scan through the pretty pics if you want. YouTube link to my blog post narrations. 

I have two university degrees. My majors for my B.Sc. were biophysical anthropology/forensic chemistry, the other is a Masters in Teaching with a focus on World History. 

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Hard to tell which subject I like more, to be honest. These days, I don’t practice in either field due to health problems and licensure issues from our international move to Canada, but I keep up to date on professional publications for both fields. (Thank goodness for libraries.)

I rambled a bit there because what I really wanted to discuss is how far back the idea of Patronage goes in the arts, and how very important it is. (Every piece of art and every image used on this blog post, except Van Gogh’s, was made possible by patronage, Every. Single. One. So keep that in mind.)

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Patronage as the definition of supporting with cash or other forms of concrete support those creators whose work you value.white-82698_1920

In the past, it was only the very wealthy, the nobles, the kings/queens and the clergy who could do this for artists.pope-1209939_1920

We have records of patronage of the arts going all the way back to feudal Japan, around 1185 a.c.e. So it’s been going on for a long time.

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In medieval Europe, it’s the only way anything got done for the arts, because honestly, it’s damned difficult in today’s day and age to be a creative and still eat and have a roof over one’s head. Back then, it was impossible. Most of the great creators in our history had noble or royal patrons.

Like Leonard Da Vinci. He was a bastard born out of wedlock, and if he hadn’t had patrons from a very young age, we’d never have known his genius.

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Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni  Most often known as Michelangelo had several patrons from an early age. Again, without whom, we’d never have his works.

Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino  Better known to most as Raphael is another great who had help with support for his works.

One who didn’t, and I’ll always wonder what he could’ve created if he had… is Vincent Van Gogh.

While there’s no doubt that he had some help from family and friends, I wonder if a more regular patronage may have been of aid in controlling the demons he most definitely struggled with. Can you imagine the wonders that may have come from his brush if he’d been certain he could both eat and afford his paints?

He died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest, after two years where he couldn’t sell his artwork. Two years where he couldn’t give away a painting for the cost of his dinner. Paintings which now sell for millions of dollars apiece, IF you can find one for sale.

You know, I’ve seen it said a lot lately that this time period of fear and angst and rage in the marginalized communities will equate to beautiful art. I’d really like the idea that the most stunning of art comes from tortured individuals to die in a fire and never raise its ugly head again. Because it just isn’t true.

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As I’ve proven (and could continue to prove with citations) most of the best art we’ve had in the world is because those artists were able to eat, they knew they had a roof over their heads, they had a studio to work in and the materials they needed to do their work.

In short, they had patrons.

The concept that Patreon has come up with, that just a dollar or two a month from a lot of people go to support a creator… it’s revolutionary.

In the past, it was only the rich that could help their favored artists create art, now it’s everyone. We as a culture can support the arts with our spare change. How absolutely amazing is that?

Seriously, I’d like you to stop and think about that for a moment. How mind-blowingly wonderful is it, that for the price of one fast food meal a year (roughly about 12$ here in Canada) you can help a struggling artist have the basics that they need to create art. pizza-2000595_1920

World-shaking, that’s what it really is.

I look forward to so much of the art that people with patrons are going to be able to make. I hope that everyone who can afford it will find someone to support as a patron through patreon, or even through the particular creator’s KoFis or paypal. (trust me, most of us have them, because art takes time and materials, and many of us can’t work traditional jobs for one reason or another.)

It’s so easy, and it could bring wonders to this world the likes of which we haven’t seen.

There are so many creatives out there, so many who educate or write or paint or sing or, or, or, orpick one. Something that speaks to your soul. Something that makes you feel alive.

And help them create.

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Because the only kind of art that comes out of the fear of not being able to pay your bills, or worry that you won’t have a house to live in, or food to eat… that’s the kind of art that comes at the end of a gun. Like poor Van Gogh. There were times in his life when he couldn’t give away one of the paintings we hold so valuable now… for the cost of a meal.

Times when he chose cheap wine (which was cheaper than food in the France he lived in) and his paints over eating a meal.

He chose his art over his health, and eventually he chose to take his life rather than continue to make art in an uncaring world.

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I wonder. What would he have been able to create if the world had cared, just a little bit more.

And I wonder. I wonder which creators out there, right now, are thinking of the same thing Vincent did, because they just can’t make it in a world that doesn’t value art. (oh… we value art, as long as it’s free, which is absolutely shameful… all you have to do is look at how rapidly digital books are pirated for that.)

Whose time is running out?

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As to who I support, I’m broke, so broke I can’t afford dentistry or new glasses. (More on me here) but I still scrape together enough to donate to wikipedia every year, and when I have a little extra in my paypal, I put it in a KoFi for someone so that they can keep creating.

It really doesn’t take a lot to help keep beauty and wonder in our world. I wish everyone could see that.

as always… if you like any of my words, please become one of MY patrons. I need the help, badly.

Buy Me a Coffee

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Paypal  and Skrill email addy is kaelan.rhywiol@gmail.com

Help me keep providing content, and you know, eating?

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Pain and Carve the Mark

Narrated version here.

Past couple of days have been pretty high pain days for me. Weather can really affect my pain levels, and the temperature has gone from snow, to icy freezing rain to almost spring-like temperatures accompanied by rain, and back down to cold enough to freeze, in the matter of hours or the course of a day.

I hurt.

I don’t use prescription pain meds, so that means I tend to have to lay on the couch or in bed when I’m not being mom and play minecraft or read or watch movies a lot. Sounds fun, hunh? It’s not. I’d much rather be out running, or going to the gym, or playing with my kids or cleaning my house (thank goodness I did that last week, cause I can’t move without a ton of pain right now) or doing ANYTHING except coping with this pain. Fibromyalgia pain has been likened to stage 4 cancer pain, and having given unmedicated birth twice, I can guarantee fibro pain on flare days is worse than unmedicated childbirth.

It’s nigh impossible to edit or write when I’m in this much pain, I can do it, but it takes more strength than I like to admit to stick to regular activities. It’s kinda hard to see when you need to wipe tears away just to look at your screen.

So, to read this interview Veronica Roth’s Carve the Mark during a high pain episode, and know, deep in my soul that because of her past success SO many people will buy and read that book, and form an opinion similar to Roth’s own because of her words, that chronic pain can, perhaps, be a gift… (even the interviewer made that conclusion).

Dear Gods.

I am really close to speechless with this, to be honest. It’s so evident that this book isn’t own voices, and while I will not ever say every issue should only be written by own voices folks, I do say, repeatedly, authors need to do their due diligence. They need to research and ask questions and more importantly LISTEN to the answer.

My heart aches at the massive misunderstanding of chronic pain this interview shows. The book can only show the same. It’s not a gift, it’s never a gift, and I don’t know of a single person with chronic pain that would ever wish it on another person (most of the time).

This is inspiration porn in the worst sort of way. I dread thinking of what the kids with chronic pain reading this book are going to take away from it.

…and when I’m being honest, which I do try to be, it burns me that this person who has such a backasswards view of chronic pain, who obviously didn’t do her research not only has a book deal that poorly represents something I live with every second of every day, she has a following who are going to go out and buy the book in droves, when I can’t get a book deal. There will likely be a movie deal down the road for this tragedy as well.

Yeah, that.

No. I won’t read the book, I don’t need to to know the representation is terrible. I won’t go twitter drag that author either, even though a small part of me would like to. I’ve spoken my piece and shared my educated opinion on it. That’s got to be enough because I won’t be a bully.

I’m going to go write my own works that feature ownvoices chronic pain sufferers, and I will go listen to my sources about issues that don’t touch me deeply, so that I can do MY due diligence and get it right. I will also buy, read and review a few own voices CP stories.

It’s all I can do, small fish that I am. Big fish like Roth… damn. Just know that her view of chronic pain is wrong. So, so wrong.

I have a Patreon, if you want to help support someone who actually does suffer from chronic pain, and who does have characters with chronic pain or ASD in my stories.

You know, instead of going out and buying Roth’s book. I don’t even want to read the divergent series now, just because of this.

Shout out to an amazing person, my friend, Erin Jeffreys Hodges who I respect so much.