Queer Twelfth Night and My Writing Process

You may have seen the poll I through up on social media a couple weeks ago. I was curious to see what interest, if any, there would be on my three ‘back burnered’ fiction projects.

It turns out, way more than I expected. And as I alluded to in the poll, I’ve now picked my next fiction project.

Queer Twelfth Night

A novelization of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night (or What You Will) where Viola/Cesario is a trans man and realizes it while disguised as a man and hiding in the court of Duke Orsino. From there very little changes in the actual story. I swear, if Shakespeare had been INTENDING to write a secret gay romance that he could stage in Elizabethan England, he couldn’t have done a better job. Given the evidence that Shakespeare was gay or bi, he might have done just that.

The poll wasn’t the deciding factor (in fact, the poll still hasn’t finished as I write this). The poll was actually meant to help me eliminate options — if there was one option that no one was really interested in, I wouldn’t write it this year.

What decided me was mainly that I’m expecting this to be a novella instead of full novel. I just have a feeling that by the time I start making What You Will (Shakespeare was practically inviting folks to apply their own headcanon with that one!) I’ll be ready for a lighter project.

Oh. Duh! In a month or two I’m going to make Abuse in Polyamory my big focus.

Yeah, my instincts were right on that one. After writing (and while editing!) that one I’m REALLY going to want something light and a bit silly.

Anyway, yeah. That’s the upcoming.

My Writing Process

It seems like a good time to explain how my process works, and why I’m worried now about a book I won’t start writing until next winter.

This is actually a process I’ve been working towards for over five years, but only managed to get working in the past year. Well see how long I can keep it going, yah?

Anyway, I try to have three projects going at once — one in research/outline phase. One in writing phase. One in editing phase.

Right now, Polyam and Kink is in editing. Okay, technically editing is over. For this purpose, ‘editing’ is an umbrella term for editing, design, and publication. It’s scheduled to be published July 31st.

Planting Life is in writing. I’m behind schedule, but since I finished the actual editing on Polyam and Kink early, I have time to catch up.

And Abuse in Polyam is in research and drafting. I’ve actually got about 3,000 words written on it. Sometimes I’ll be working on the outline and the words just grab me and I end up with one or two sections of the outline written.

Rotate!

After Polyam and Kink publishes (and if I finish writing on schedule), Planting Life will move to editing phase and get sent out to beta readers. I’ll start actively writing Abuse in Polyamory.

And I’ll need a new project to start outlining and otherwise prepping for.

That project will be What You Will.

Long Term

If I can keep this going, I can reliably put out 2 books a year. Right now I’m trying for 1 1/2 hours a day writing. Trying, because my writing time isn’t AT ALL reliable — like, I didn’t really get started on Polyam and Kink until mid September last year. And frequently need to miss single days or weeks due to kids, mental health, etc etc.

But the fact that I’ve had so many missed writing days this past year and still kept on target is WHY I think I’ll be able to keep this going for the next while.

I have tentative (very tentative!) plans to get up to four writing hours a day. If I can do that, I can bump my books to three a year and have time for writing short stories again. Which would be nice. Or maybe that book about being autistic I’ve been toying with on and off for a couple of years. Or… hell, lots of options. Including just upping my output to 4 books a year. I’ll be more than doubling my writing time, so why not double my books?

But that is for the future. At least several months in the future, possible several years, depending on how things play out.

Publishing Schedule For 2021

With Polyamory and Kink almost ready for it’s July 31 release, I figure it’s time to look ahead. Such as setting a (tentative) publishing schedule for 2021.

Planting Life in a Dying City

This is the iffy part of the schedule. I’m confident of my ability to stay on track with the Polyam on Purpose books (barring major life craziness). But the fiction… well, we’ll see.

Anyway, I’m on track to finish WRITING Planting Life by July 31, and hope to be releasing it July 31 of 2021.

Planting Life in a Dying City is a bronze age original world fantasy (very light fantasy, tbh). You can read a draft of the first chapter here.

Abuse in Polyamory

Abuse in Polyamory will be out July 31, 2021. Yes, you may be seeing a pattern here. Yes, that is intentional. Fingers crossed I can hold to it.

After my experience with Polymory and Kink this past year I’m confident that as long as my writing schedule doesn’t get disrupted for multiple months in a row I can get this one out on time.

As usual with my Polyam on Purpose books, the title kind of says it all.

Cheat the Schedule

If you want, you can cheat the schedule by becoming a Patron. $1 Patrons get to read my two active projects as I write them, higher level patrons get access to more.

Time to Round Up Beta Readers…

It looks like I’m on track to finish drafting Planting Life by the end of July. Possibly/probably earlier. Which means I will soon need to be sending it out to beta readers.

Unlike some authors, I don’t have a dedicated group of beta readers. I’d like to, but when my books range across so many subjects… well, not everyone is going to be interested in everything I write. In fact, MOST people aren’t going to be interested in everything I write. And that’s okay, but it does leave me scrambling for beta readers.

However, it looks like I’ll be able to release two books a year for the next few years. Which means it would be really helpful to have folks I can reliably call on for beta reads, ya know?

So I’m putting out a cattle call, as it were. I’d like to get two groups of beta readers, 5-8 people each. One group for my fiction work, one for Polyam on Purpose books.

If you might be interested in being a beta reader, keep reading.

 What Do Beta Readers Do?

A beta reader is usually someone who reads over a finished manuscript for an author and critiques it so the author knows what to be fixed. (You might be asking, since there are beta readers, are there alpha readers? Yes, but mostly an ‘alpha reader’ is someone’s spouse, close friend, etc, who reads bits and pieces of the book as it’s being written.)

When a book is finished, I send it out to my beta readers to read and get back to me. I’ll usually ask for a one and a half month turn-around. That is — read the book, critique it, and get back to me within a month and a half (~45 days).

Fiction Beta Readers

Ideally, fiction beta readers for my work will enjoy a variety of types of spec fic, not be squicked by kinky stuff (not in all my work, but can be pretty heavy when present), and like character-focused stories. Expect queer themes, aromance ‘romance’ plots, autistic and mentally ill characters, and polyam relationships.

Fiction beta reads will go out over the summer (ideally end of July).

Polyamory on Purpose Beta Readers

Should be polyamorous and interested in a variety of relationship topics. My PoP books have been all over the place. Previous topics included: pregnancy, home life, sex, and kink. Upcoming topics include abuse, raising kids, and mental health. At some point I’m taking a stab at mono/poly, might do something specific on autism and polyamory, polyamory while poor. Oh, and polyamory etiquette….

Like I said, all over the place.

PoP beta reads will go out over the winter (ideally end of December).

 

If you think you’d be interested in being a beta reader, drop a comment below or email me.

My Autistic Sexuality, Part 1

I’ve never seen anything, anywhere, about being sexual as an autistic person. And I’ve noticed (as a frequent reader of romances and sex blogs) that the way other folks talk about sex is very very different from my needs and experiences. My sexuality is different from anything I’ve heard of. And it’s time we start talking about autistic sexuality.

MY Autistic Sexuality

This is my autistic sexuality, okay? Not necessarily anyone else’s. A lot of it relates to tactile hypersensitivity. So autistic folks who are mainly hypersensitive in, say, their hearing or smell, and hyposensitive to touch will have very different experiences. But when I mentioned writing this earlier today to a friend who is also autistic and hypersensitive, we shared a ‘Hell yes!’ moment. So it’s not JUST me.

I originally started writing this for my partners. Because talking about sex is still really hard for me (partly for reasons covered below). Friday, I was reminded of my old (and sort-of-ongoing) desire to get into sex blogging. How I wanted to talk about my sexuality in hopes of connecting with others who shared it and sparing folks the years of ‘what-the-fuck-is-wrong-with-me’ that I went through figuring all this out.

I can’t write about sex on a regular basis (again, partly for reasons below). But I could take this writing, that I need to do anyway, and share it.

Part one is about arousal and the before-we-get-to-sex stuff (mostly). Part 2, which I will hopefully be able to write in time for next week’s post, will be the actual sex stuff.

So here you go.

Part 1: My Autistic Arousal (mostly)

  1. I live in near-constant dissociation. This is how I handle my hypersensitivity. But it often makes me oblivious to stuff going on in my body. Stuff like arousal. For whatever reason, my mind interprets the physical signs of arousal as itchiness. If you see me scratching my crotch, I am likely aroused and either unaware of it or don’t feel I can do anything about it.
    My arousal almost always starts in my body. But it’s started by my brain. Words. Okay, touch never makes me aroused. I think it’s because of how hard I disassociate but I’m not sure. Pictures and books are the most common instigators. Sometimes my own writing or thoughts. But if I’m not aware of being aroused and I don’t feel aroused? I just get itchy. It takes an active effort for me to release the disassociation and feel the arousal.
    Maybe. Or it may be that I don’t have instigators for arousal as-such, and it’s just that I’m interested in pictures/books/etc when well…
  2. I seem to get aroused on a schedule, probably hormone related. About every two weeks, I get aroused, and it gets stronger over time unless I do something about it. If I don’t do anything it seems to fade after 3 to 5 days.
  3. Being aroused and being in dissociation usually triggers anxiety. It can lead to panic attacks but…
  4. If the anxiety goes long enough, usually the arousal ‘gets bad’. I think this is hitting some residual trauma stuff, but it might be a hypersensitivity thing — over stimulation. Or both combined. I don’t have the right words to describe what it feels like in my head. But any skin-to-skin contact starts to feel bad in a very specific way. Erotic contact is worse. And my arousal starts to feel bad in that way — like, if I make the effort to drop the dissociation and let myself feel the arousal, it feels bad in this way.
    Whether or not this problem starts from trauma, it will definitely pull up trauma stuff if it goes on long enough.
  5. If I can dissociate myself heavily enough and get busy doing something that distracts me, the badness will usually go away. Sometimes it just stays til the arousal goes away. Which (see above) can take a while.
  6. Sometimes things can start to ‘go bad’ during sexual activity. Still haven’t fully figured this out, but overthinking is definitely a sign it’s coming/trigger. Usually can’t come back from this but recently Michael has been able to pull me back from the ‘bad’ so we can continue. I don’t know how she did it.
  7. If I realize it’s starting to go bad before it does, sometimes pain helps bring me back.
  8. I can’t stop being aroused except for positive sexual activity. Once the arousal hits, especially the hormone-induced arousal, there’s nothing I can do but ride it out. No cold shower or equivalent that can make me stop being aroused. Doing sex will stop the arousal, at least temporarily. The better the sex, the longer the arousal stops. Sometimes it’ll be just a few hours, especially if things ‘go bad’. If I’m lucky, it’ll be good enough to shut down the arousal until the hormone period passes.
  9. If I’m lucky, because while I do like sex as a thing, it gets REALLY FUCKING ANNOYING to have my body demanding sex whether I’m healthy enough, in the mood, have time, have privacy, etc etc. and if I don’t do something my mind will punish me for it.
  10. Like, the first time each round, I’m usually excited and into. After the second or third time, I’m ANNOYED and want it to be over so I can get on with my life.
  11.  I’ve seen a couple of places selling tiny dildos, like fit-inside-you-and-disappear things. And that’s like my holy grail of dildos, because when the itching starts, I could put it in and it would give me just enough stimulation to pulling me out of dissociation without overwhelming me. That would keep the anxiety from kicking in (see point 4), hopefully long enough for good sexy times to happen.
    1.  Just as a random, completely  irrelevant note, my birthday is coming up. 😉

So yeah, that’s it for now. Hopefully I can follow up next week with the sex part of my autistic sexuality.

New Kinky Sword and Sorcery Project

In the course of editing and updating Polyamory and Kink, I hit a bit of inspiration in the section on Gor. Like a lot of folks, I see the appeal of Gor. It’s a fun kinky sword-and-sorcery idea. And for those of us in the Scene it offers a pre-built 24/7 TPE dynamic where you don’t need to come up with everything for yourself. Perhaps more importantly, it’s a dynamic that you can share with other people. An actual subculture, with all the awesomeness of finding a subculture where everyone shares your interests. Plus kink.

But Gor is, well, Gor. It’s a misogynistic bunch of not-particularly-good writing. In addition to the misogyny, it’s got a solid dose of racism and ableism as well. And the male supremacy, and gender binary-only schtick aren’t exactly subtle. As many folks who see the appeal of Gor, there are probably just as many who are turned off by that bullshit.

Anyway, I got to thinking that it would be awesome if someone wrote something like a queer, feminist version of Gor. And I got to thinking some more, and I got to thinking some more.

And eventually I thought

Mor

Mor is a collaborative writing project to create a world of kinky sword-and-sorcery, a queer, feminist kinky sword-and-sorcery. A website where a variety of authors will share their stories, all set in the same world.

For now, the site will have one new story a month. If enough authors submit enough stories, it will update more often. Eventually, I’d like to offer one new story a week.

Mor is an experiment. If there is enough reader support to start paying authors for their stories, it’ll be an ongoing thing. Ideally, I’d like to reach a point of having a forum or chat or something on the site for people to discuss the world, create their own characters, and generally have fun with it.

But start small, right?

The first story, Trevali’s Contract, is a safe-for-work introduction to the world. Other authors are invited to use it as a jumping off point for their own stories or create their own thing.

Readers are invited to come get a take, check out the Patreon, and subscribe, either to the posts feed or as a Patron.

I don’t have a lot of time and energy to put into this project right now. I want it to succeed, or I wouldn’t be doing it. But I can’t spend a lot of time time promoting it or rounding up authors and stuff. Whether or not it keeps going is up to you.

Like Gor but Mor: More Inclusive, More Accessible, More Ethical

We Don’t Know

We don’t know.

I hate liminal times. It seems I have been stuck in a series of liminal times since January. Always between where I was and will be and not knowing what I will find on the other side. Not even knowing which direction I should take. Stuck in the middle — go forward or go back, I could handle. But no, stuck in the middle, in the doorway, not knowing.

I’ve always said that I can change directions as many times as I need to as long as I know which direction I need to go right now. And I don’t, and I haven’t, and I don’t even know how to figure it out.

I thought I was done. I thought I knew, that things had been settled, I know what is happening. And just as one liminal time got resolved, another opened up and I’m back to not knowing, being stuck.

We don’t know how we will serve god until we get there — well and good. But I don’t even know where ‘there’ is right now, where am I supposed to going to? Which way is the desert where I go to serve god? How do I find it? Will I even know when I get there.

Fucking liminal times.

 

Yesterday I took part in a Zoom-conference “Torah, Poetry, and Chant” meeting run by my synagogue and led by our rabbi. The meeting included a chant and journaling based on a line from Exodus :

שָׁמּ ָ הבּ ֹאֵ נוּעַד ’האֶ תנַּעֲב ֹדמַ הנֵדַ עלֹא

Lo-nayda mah-na’avod et-Yah ad-bo’aynu sham

We don’t know how we will serve YHVH until we get there (Exodus 10:26).

It just really sums up everything right now.

Staying Connected During Social Distancing: Tips from an LDR

Social distancing and ‘shelter at home ‘ orders have left a lot of people isolated and cut off from their friends and support networks. My fam is actually dealing with relatively little disruption, in contrast, because our families and support networks have been largely long distance for going on a decade now. We’ve learned a lot in that time about how to maintain connection with people we can’t see in person. Today, I’m going to share some of what we’ve learned, in hopes it helps other people navigate the current crisis.

Let’s start with the basics:

Phones Are Your Friends

Folks have been using phones to stay in touch long-distance for over 100 years. Don’t be afraid to use them! But don’t be afraid to use them differently either.

  1. Scheduled calls/texts — I have regularly schedules phone calls each week with my aunt, one sister, and cuilmate. My other sister and I touch base through FB messenger each Sunday to figure out what time will work for us that week. This way we can be sure of giving each other our full attention and plan things to avoid interruptions. We’re typically on the phone together for at least a half an hour and Michon and I can easily be on together for 3 or 4 hours. (That call is scheduled for after the kids’ bedtimes.) I can’t text very well, but if you prefer texting to calls, don’t be afraid to schedule those too!
  2. Don’t just talk — Do you really think Michon and I spend 3 or 4 hours at a shot just chatting? Of course not! Over the past year we have: taken turns reading Tumblr posts to each other, sang to each other, read books to each other, read webcomics together, worked on writing a book together, and more. Michael and Jaid regularly watch YouTube and Netflix together. They pick a video, press ‘play’ at the same time, and enjoy.
  3. Just be — sometimes, it’s nice to just BE together. And can do that over the phone. Put on your headphones or ear piece, set the call going, and just listen to each other as you go about your day. You’ll likely find yourselves commenting to each other about whatever is going on with you, ‘I JUST washed the dishes this morning,’ ‘I’m so glad the store wasn’t sold out of these cookies,’ ‘What do you think, chicken or spaghetti for dinner?’ Sometimes, these little bits of normalcy and just being together can make you feel more connected than all the conversations in the world.
  4. Memerific — like I said, texting isn’t my thing. But nothing stopping you from having fun with texts as well. Trade memes back and forth, play word games together, take pictures of random stuff throughout your day. Have fun with it.

When Your Computers Combine…

Thanks to the internet, there are a lot more options for long distance social than every before in history. These options do require some comfort with navigating your computer — for many of them you need to install software and have a working headset or speakers and microphone. However, many of them also have app versions that can be installed on a smartphone or tablet with the touch of a button.

  1. Discord — Okay, so, those phone calls with Michon? Most of the time they are actually Discord calls. Discord is a program (and web app, so installation NOT required) for chatting and voice calls. However, it has two major advantages over the phone: it’s free and group calls/chats are ridiculously easy. There are two ways to use Discord.
    1) You can join or set up a ‘server’. A server is basically a dedicated invite-only chat house. Each server can have multiple ‘rooms’ (channels), each with different rules (so one channel can be NSFW and the others not). Channels can be text or voice, so you can have a voice channel where folks who want to catch up on family stuff hang out and a voice channel for discussing the latest game. Or whatever. If you have a large family or friend group, a server will be a great way to keep the group going at a distance.
    2) You can use it like any messenger program that allows group discussions. Become ‘friends’ with people, message them, have voice calls, add other people to the chat or calls as you wish.
  2. Zoom — Zoom is a program that allows for voice and video chat, and screen sharing. It is one of the easier options, because once you get installed, anyone who wants to talk can just send you a link invite. As soon as you click the link, the Zoom meeting room opens.
  3. Kast — You know the watch-videos-together thing I said Michael and Jaid do? Well, Kast (formerly rabb.it) was designed for just that kind of thing. You and your friend(s) would go into a ‘room’ together, the person hosting the ‘room’ puts on a video from a streaming service or Youtube, and everyone can watch the video together. I haven’t used Kast since it stopped being rabb.it, supposedly it also does multi-person video chat or will screenshare games you are playing now. Free and paid versions.

Roll the Dice

Okay, this is already a long post, so I’ll keep this last section short: there are lots of options for playing games together online. And I don’t just mean Fortnight. Steam Games has a ‘Tabletop Simulator‘ ($20) that “includes 15 classics like Chess, Poker, Jigsaw Puzzles, Dominoes, and Mahjong” and you can buy content for other tabletop games as well.

We Haz Farm!

Or, okay we will haz farm.

But, like, soon.


If you’ve been following along, you know that my polyam/chosen fam has been hoping to A) get a place big enough for all of us to live together and B) get such a place on enough acreage to get a small farm going. But our projected timeline was to have finances sorted out enough to start looking for a place sometime 4 or 5 years from now.

In late January, an acquaintance on the Fediverse approached me and asked if we’d talked about the farm he was trying to sell.

We hadn’t. I know about the farm, and had made sad noises over how there was no way we could get a mortgage yet, and moved on. Turns out, he and his fam are willing to offer rent-to-own while we build up our credit and such, and possibly an owner-financed mortgage depending on how things work out. And it’s in our budget.

We’ve been hashing things out, he and I and his wife (mostly I and his wife, actually), and last week Michael, Dilip Numetor Amelia Chetana Waller, and I went to see this farm and check out the surrounding area.

The place needs some repairs, which owners are willing to do before we move in. Works out because it is better for us to move over the summer, when the kids are out of school.

At this point, we have a verbal agreement, but paperwork still needs to be signed and a few details hashed out. So things may still fall through, but we and the owners are moving forward on the basis that we have an agreement and we will be moving in sometime this summer.

Is much ecstatic-ness and squee-ing and ‘who gets which bedroom!!!’

All our plans are completely disrupted, of course. But in the best way possible.

The one sad is that Ericka won’t be coming with us. Literally a handful of days before the current owner approached me, she told us she had decided to go back to Texas. But she will be welcome to visit us and who knows what the future will bring?

Black History Reading List

I generally don’t say much about Black History Month because I figure it’s a time for me to shut up and listen. But on the subject of shutting up and listening, I figured I’d share a my black history reading list. Hot take: white folks who aren’t at least familiar with the titles and authors on this list probably don’t know enough about black history and experience to be talking about it.

Narrative of Sojourner Truth

Kindred by Octavia Butler

Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B duBois

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

Why We Can’t Wait by Dr. Martin Luther King jr.

Autobiography of Malcolm X

The Mary McLeod Bethune Papers or anything by Bethune

Assata: An autobiography

My Grandfather’s Son by Clarence Thomas

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

If you can, start reading these or other book about black history and experience by black authors. If not, at least take some time to Google the titles and authors you aren’t familiar with and read a bit about them and their work.