New Project: Autistic Guide to Etiquette

I know better. I really do.

But, but, but, but…

Honestly, I haven’t felt really ‘grabbed’ by a nonfiction topic in years. This is the same feeling that drove me to start Polyamory on Purpose in the first place. There is this thing that no one is talking about and should be and why is there nothing on this!?!?!

Talking with some friend-type people on the Fediverse led to the realization that there are no etiquette guides for autistic people. (Or if there are, I haven’t seen or heard any hint of it?)

Like, for all the talk about how bad autistic people socialize, you’d think someone would have written an etiquette guide or two for us?

Except that I wouldn’t trust an allistic person to write a useful guide for autistic people.

So… I have a new project. Sort of. I’m still figuring out how to handle this.

Starting in January I’ll be blogging… maybe on a schedule? I mean, that would be nice, if I could have a schedule? Right? (I mentioned I’m still figuring this out, yes?)

Anyway, I’ll be blogging on how-to-etiquette for autistic folks. As best I can.

When I’ve got enough for a short book, I’ll put it all together in one file and throw it up on Amazon and D2D for the folks who prefer the convenience of a book and/or want to make sure I get some payment for my work.

This is, absolutely, going to be a side project for the foreseeable future. My writing plate is full plus some. But while I’ve gotten a lot better at saying ‘no’ to other people, I still kinda suck at saying ‘no’ to myself.

So I’m doing this. And… we’ll see how it goes.

Wish me luck.

Squee! — Website Changes and New Writing Projects

So, if you take a look around, you’ll see a few changes around here, and a few more are coming.

The upcoming change is (as soon as I can) I’m getting a new theme up, because the menu on this one is just not well designed for anything except a simple light colored background.

And, well, that’s not what I have anymore. (See? Look? Isn’t it pretty!) I’m really happy with how the new header came out, and grumbled that I’m going to need to re-do it (again!) to fit whatever new theme I end up getting. But the basic design will be easy to recreate. Eventually I’m going to scrape up the money to commission someone to draw me a new werewolf. Something specific to me. But this one is pretty good and works for now.

And if you look to your right…

I’ve changed up the side bar a lot. I finally swapped out The Bargain for Safer Sex in the “buy me!” box up top. I’d originally meant to be changing the book there each month. Or at least every new book release! Hopefully I’ll do better with that in the future.

Below that I decided to put in some progress bars for my active projects. I’m really happy with the progress on Polyamory and Kink (almost halfway there!). Planting Life is going slower, but that’s, well, life!

Finally, I finally added a Patreon-button. (Want to read Polyamory and Kink and Planting Life now? Get all the awesome without having to wait?) The Kofi button is still there as well, if folks ever want to toss a couple bucks my way because my writing has helped or inspired them.

New Books!

Sort Of

Okay, so Bound by his Oath isn’t exactly new, in fact I talked about it a bit last spring. But it did manage to push itself to the top of my pile for a week, and grew over ten thousand words in that week. At this point I’m pretty sure that it will be the next novel after Planting Life. (Sorry Space Werewolves!)

Finally, I got bit by the inspiration bug sometime in August, mentioned it to Michon, and now we have a joint project! We’ve been talking about doing a collab  for a while but never found the right story or the right time. Well, now we have.

We’re in the early stages of plotting out an urban fantasy take on Robin Hood. We are trying to stay as true to the ‘original’ characters and stories as possible, while, being us, queering the fuck out of them. For instance, not many folks today know why Will Scarlett is called ‘Will Scarlett’. When he first met Robin & Co. he was wondering through the woods wearing scarlet silk clothing. He was also casually carrying a flower that he stopped to sniff now and again. Robin underestimates him, badly, dismissing him as a pancy and a fop. And gets his ass kicked.

So we had a lot of fun the other night character building “Will, Divina de Scarlett,” who, after some years in Special Forces, never wants to see a dull color again in his life. He will without a thought walk down any street you care to name in makeup, silks, and an up do. And kick the ass of anyone who gives him trouble over it.

Want to Join in on the Fun? Join my Patreon and See the Awesome as We Make It.

First Annual Jess Mahler Bookshelf Report and Reader Poll

Polyamory on Purpose Poll

First off, I’ve been talking about writing a book on raising kids in a polyamorous family for some years now and kept putting it off because of lingering emotional shit from my custody case.

I think I’m finally healed enough to tackle that topic and I know it’s one a lot of people want to see a book about.

BUT I already said I’d make my next book about abuse in polyamory, which is also a topic a lot of people are interested in.

Being the indecisive type, I decided to hand off the decision to y’all.

Here’s the poll for what the next Polyamory on Purpose book should be. Go vote on it!

(I a vague memory that I may have done a poll like this before? But if I did I don’t have any record of it? Anyway, sorry if this is a duplicate, but please help me out!)

Book Progress Updates!

Of late all my writing time has gone to Polyamory & Kink and Planting Life in a Dying City. All my other theoretically-active-projects have been on hold. My original goal was to finish both of them by December, and then be able to shift my focus. Unfortunately, this summer happened, and well… there was that too.

Anyway, as I write this, the re-write for P&K is 8% done. I actually have far more than that written, it’s just I haven’t yet gone through most of it to see what needs to be fixed, cut, added, etc. In total, I have over 21,000 words written, which is a bit more than 50% of the goal.

As long as I am able to keep writing regularly, I think I have a good chance of finishing on time.

Planting Life is another matter. While I’m ‘officially’ further along (32% finished!), I’m trying to get a lot more total words done (2.5x more, actually). Add to that, P&K is my priority (unlike my fiction work, my nonfiction actually has a following). So Planting Life only gets time when I’m at or ahead of my weekly goals for P&K.

Still, I’m making progress and really happy with how the story is coming. Paiokp is finally developing a personality and role beyond ‘random background person’. (I always figured ey would, but in a story with this many ‘main’ characters, it can take time to get to everyone.)

Jess Mahler Bookshelf Progress

So… the goal is to publish enough books to fill a bookshelf. In order to track this goal, it would be useful to actually have physical copies of the books so I can (ya know) put them on a bookshelf.

Which means at some point I need to format, submit, and order a paperback version of The Bargain and Whips & Fangs. As well as order copies of Polyamorous Home and Safer Sex for the Non-Monogamous. That might be a good idea. To bad I didn’t think of it sooner. See, I’m starting a new tradition — Each Rosh haShana, lining up all my books on an empty shelf and taking a picture to record my progress.

Unfortunately, as noted, I don’t actually have copies of more than half my books, so…

Here ya go.

Shana tova.

Needed: Polyamory & Kink Rewrite

So…. I mean, the title kind of says it. For the second time, I need to take one of my polyamory on purpose books and do a major re-write just as I thought I was finishing up. So… Polyamory & Kink…

Similar to the major re-write of Safer Sex a couple years ago, what triggered it was recognition of what I wasn’t saying. In this case, somewhat embarrassingly, I found as the book went on, I was saying almost nothing about polyamory. It had become a kink 101 book.

Now, being honest, I actually know very little about what is out there for kink 101. I learned my kink mostly the old fashioned way (from other folks in the Scene) or the Millenial way (from forums and blogs). Not at all from books. For all I know there are no books out there covering kink 101 and such a book would be desperately needed.

But… that isn’t my schtick, you know? Maybe one day I will write the books on kink, and autism, and queerness, and all the other ideas ideas I’ve toyed with from time to time. But for nearly a decade now, my focus has been on polyamory, and I’m not ready to give that up.

So What Went Wrong?

I’m back at the drawing board, as it were, and I think I see where I made my mistake. I took the approach of introducing polyamorous folks to kink. I should have been focusing on how to make kink work in your polyamorous relationships.

With that in mind, I’m starting over from page one, reviewing everything I’ve already got, rewriting as needed, and restructuring, well, quite a lot.

The ‘good’ news is, I actually have some measure of self awareness by this point. So I built an two and a half months into my writing schedule. Like, literally. I use an online app called Pacemaker (highly recommend) to plan out my writing schedule. And I said, “I want the book finished by Dec 31, but let’s plan for me to finish by Nov 30.” Then I plugged all my data into Pacemaker and it said that at my planned rate of progress, I’d be done by mid-October!

Fingers crossed, there’s a good chance I’ll still be done by the end of December.

Want to Watch the Polyamory & Kink Rewrite as it happens?

I re-started by old Patreon page. If you want to see the draft of P&K as it’s (re)written, hop on over there and become a patron!

I Hope I’m Not Starting a Dumpster Fire

As mentioned elsewhere, I’ve got that collection of short stories coming out this week. One of those stories, A Hole in the Pack, has a situation with very ambiguous consent.

At the end of the story, I invite readers to consider whether the… initiation ceremony David goes through to enter his new family is consensual or not.

Now, I have strong feelings about consent and the complexities of it. And even stronger feelings about how we don’t actually talk about the ins-and-outs of consent nearly as often as we should, instead throwing around sound bites and assumptions lacking heavily in nuance.

So… for folks who read/have read A Hole in the Pack, I invite you to use the comment section here as a discussion space. Share your opinion, respond to other folks, let’s see — not if we can come to an agreement, but if we can come to an understanding of the many different ways to view this situation.

Obviously, comments will have spoilers. I’ll put up a comment with my take on the 31st.

Warning: Moderation may be erratic (due to spooniness), but comments will be heavily moderated.

  • Commenting is a privilege. This blog is my space and you are allowed access to comment at my discretion. If you have a problem with this, feel free to start your own blog with your own comment policy.
  • Your first comment must go through moderation before being approved. After this comment is approved, new comments will be auto-approved unless you give me reason to revoke your commenting privileges.
  • Personal attacks of any sort will be deleted and you will be blocked from commenting further.

You can pre-order Whips & Fangs on Amazon and elsewhere. If you don’t want to wait, you can read A Hole in the Pack now, by joining Jess’ Pack.)

With that said:

A Hole in the Pack Discussion below!

 

Whips & Fangs Cover Reveal and Release Date

(If you’re just hear for the cover and don’t care about the talk-talk, just scroll to the bottom.)

Okay, I should probably back up. This is probably the first many of you have heard of Whips & Fangs, and it certainly wasn’t on my project list a month or so back!

Several years ago, I had an old iteration of this website which had a subdomain, Whips & Fangs, where I shared kinky fantasy stories once a month or so. At the end of the first year, I took at the stories I had written, combined them into an ebooks and put the book out on Amazon and Smashwords.

At the time, we were homeless and I was dealing with several untreated mental illnesses. So I was never entirely happy with some of the stories, it was just the best I could do at the time, ya know? So I pulled the book, planning to edit and re-release when I had fixed some things up.

Except life hit me in the face again and I never finished my edits.

Goodreads calling

A couple weeks ago I got two messages on Goodreads, both asking about where folks could purchase W&F.

It’s fair to say my jaw dropped. Of all the books I’ve released, this one sold the worst and had almost not interest from anyone except a few close friends. I couldn’t imagine how one person had even heard of it, never mind two, never mind on the same day.

It turns out that Goodreads groups actually are good for authors? Someone (God knows who) recommended W&F in a Goodreads group, and now (according to the moderators who contacted me) at least a dozen people wanted to read it.

So… I went back and took at look at my edits. Turns out I didn’t have as much to do as I remembered. So I’ve been finishing up those edits, tweaking the cover, and getting it set up for pre-order on Amazon and D2D.

Whips & Fangs Cover

Whips & Fangs Cover

Whips & Fangs will be out July 31st. (It may be available for pre-order in some places now, I’ve never figured how that worked.)

A knight captured and used by the lady he loves, but cannot serve…
A vampire and vampire hunter in a most unlikely relationship…
A man who asks to join a leather family–but the family in question is more than leather…
The crippled dragon who thinks he can no longer serve and the lady-knight who refuses to give up on him…
A maiden who gives herself to a fairy lord, but has no idea what she’s in for…

These and other kinky fantasy stories fill this book. Using the lens of fantasy this collection explores the many sides of D/s, from the unabashedly erotic to the most extreme of mental conditioning, and more. Enter the fantastical world of kink, and the kinky world of fantasy.

This collection includes non-con stories.

W&F 2?

I mentioned way back at the beginning of this post that I had kept that subdomain going for several years. I’ve got a bunch more stories that didn’t make it into this collection and currently aren’t available anywhere. I originally meant to release a second collection. If W&F develops enough interest, I might go ahead and do that….

Planting Life in a Dying City: First Chapter (Draft)

That move I mentioned a couple posts back is happening this week and I didn’t have the time or spoons to write a blog post. So instead, here’s the first draft chapter of Planting Life in a Dying City


A shaft of sunlight lanced through the forest gloom highlighting another empty snare. Lefeng shook eir head as ey pull up the small game snare and examined the grass rope. Somehow no one had seen that break in the canopy over the summer. They were lucky they snare hadn’t been sun-touched.

Ey coiled and stash the snare-rope it in eir pack with the dozen others ey had pulled earlier that day and the pair of lemurs that had been caught by two of the traps. Ey had been surprised to find that many after [sibling] ran the trapline two days ago. Lefeng was just as glad that ey had forgotten to pull the snares. It gave eir a chance to get into the foothills on eir own one last time before the summer ended.

Ey moved with a ground-eating lope to the next snare, pausing on the way to pull leaves from a low growing mint plant to munch on and moisten eir mouth. The air was dry in the foot hills, away from the influence of the ocean. But ey only had a few more snares to pull and then ey could head home.

Tomorrow, the adults and near-adults like Lefeng would start packing for their winter travels. They’d follow the old ways, camping for a shor ttime to gather food and supplies, then travelling on when the area they were in started to become depleted. Each year they travelled a slighty different path, giving the land time to recover.

The ground shook, making a stone under eir foot move. Ey fell to the ground. “Stagnant water!” ey cursed. That was the third shake today. The first one had been strong enough to bring down some of the young saplings. Earth shakes were a part of life. As the [priest] liked to remind them, even the earth is alive in it’s own way. But three in one day was unusual.

Ey stood and cursed again. Eir right ankle hurt when ey put weight on it. Checking the ankle showed that it was only swelling a bit. And it had held when ey put weight on it. Ey hobbled up to a straight sapling a short distance off the trail and used her handaxe to cut the sapling down and strip the branches from it. With this rough-made walking stick ey carefully continued down the trail carefully.

Ey had no intention of staying in the village this walking-season. And a bad injury would keep eir in the home compound this winter with elder, the young children, and some of the grandparents. Two of Lefeng’s siblings who were courting other family’s in the village and would be staying with their prospective-spouses most of the winter.

That was the last thing Lefeng wanted. Ey was planning on marrying-in and spending the rest of eir adult life the way ey had spend eir years so far. And GreatWave, a child of a fishing family who had been courting Lefeng and eir siblings would be coming with them this walking-season. Ey was hoping to get some time with eir outside of the crowded confines of the compound. So no more falls!

A short time late, ey had finished pulling the snares and was headed home. The sun was setting—ey’s injury was making eir late. But there was still light to see by.

A half-mark from the village ey reached the lookout clearing. The hill top had been cleared of trees to give a clear view of the sea. The fisher families used it in storm season to watch for storms gathering on the horizon.

There were no storms today, but the sea looked strange. More like a mud puddle a child had jumped in, swirling around and full of debris.

Lefeng licked eir lips and looked harder. Ey had the best far sight in eir family, and while ey had never seen the sea like that, some of that debris looked familiar. Like the scraps of wood and sail that washed up on shore sometimes after a boat was caught out in a storm or wrecked by the one of the bright days.

GreatWave had gone out with eir family boat that morning. Ey told Lefeng ey wanted to feel the sea under eir one more time before spending more than half the year in the mountains.

Caution forgotten, Lefeng pelted down the trail, skidding and sliding in damp leaves and muddy loam. A short time later, ey burst out of the trees at the edge of the village and stumbled to a halt.

Everything was mud. Mud and dead fish and ragged stumps of wood where walls and homes had been that morning. Here and there, a lump sprawled in the mud, lumps covered with fabric and often trailing banners of waterlogged hair.

Lefeng stared, trying to take in what ey was seeing. It was like the entire village had been washed away. Step by step ey crept out into the mud. It sucked at eir boots and clung to eir legs.

The first body ey came to was the elder, TallDeer. Ey’s face was unrecognizable, but somehow ey was still wearing the silly bracelet of nuts and dried berries ey had worn for nearly twenty years. Lefeng sank into the mud next to eir and gently touched the bracelet. Lefeng had given it to eir, a chilidsh gift from a youngling to eir favorite grandparent. TallDeer had promised never to take it off.

Now, Lefeng removed it for eir. “Journey long, Baba. Until I join you at the meeting-fire.”

Tears pouring down eir face, Lefeng forced eirself to stand. Somewhere, there had to be someone still alive. There had to.

When dark fell, Lefeng, retreated into the shelter of the trees and made a small camp. Ey forced eirself to eat, having learned well the lessons of the trail. Never go hungry when there is food, you don’t know when you will find more.

With dawn, ey returned to the remains of the village.

No one had survived. Most were simply gone, no sign remained that they had ever existed.

Where eir family’s compound had once stood were a few stumps from the fence and the wooden frame of the house. Scattered throughout the village where a few–a very few–things ey recognized as once belonging to eir family. Ey gathered everything ey could, both from eir family and others, that might possibly be useful.

The next day, ey spent gathered the bodies together on a pile with as much wood as ey was able to move. It had been over a year since ey had started a fire without a coal or spark to work with. And the wet wood didn’t want to burn. But the effort of getting the fire started kept eir from really thinking about what ey was doing.

About what ey would do next.

It was possible that others from the village had survived, but no one had been off on a long journey. Only the far-walking families regularly ever went further than a half days travel from the village, and they had all been here, preparing for the winter journeying. Even the fishing boats returned each day except for their yearly trips up the coast to the big city. Anyone who hadn’t been in the village when… whatever it was happened should have returned by now.

Which meant Lefeng was completely alone.

Finally, the fire started. Ey sat upwind and watched it burn. Saying and singing the prayers that were meant to be said when the dead were buried, but there was no way ey, alone, could bury them all before scavengers became to bold for eir to chase away.

The fire burned long into the night and ey watched.

Jess Mahler’s Upcoming Books 5/13/19: #AmWriting

I realized that since re-starting this blog, I never shared what-all my active writing projects are. It’s probably time and past-time I do that.

At the moment I have 2 projects I am working on regularly and 3 more that I consider ‘active/backburner’. That is — I am keeping them in mind and will work on them when and as the mood strikes. They’re simmering, basically.

I have many many many projects that are ‘in holding’. They are projects that I reached of point of saying ‘no, this isn’t working;’ but think there is enough potential there that I might pick them up again in the future — or might not. (Probably not, if I’m being honest. But maybe.)

Polyamory on Purpose Books

Polyam and Kink

As I’ve talked about elsewhere, my next PoP book will be Polyam and Kink. It’s currently one of the two projects I work on regularly. I don’t actually know what the current word count is — I’m using this manuscript to experiment with eMacs and orgmode. I have to say, I really like eMacs for straight writing, but org mode is giving me headaches on the regular.

Because the writing is scattered across several dozen text docs all linked together through orgmode, figuring out the word count before I’m ready to pull it all together is going to be an absolute pain.

Abuse in Polyamory

Had a blog post about this last month, but tentatively planning for the next PoP book to be Abuse in Polyamory. At the moment, this is more the seed of an idea than an active project. I’ll probably start writing it when I get to the painful part of editing Polyam and Kink.

Jess Mahler’s Fiction

Planting Life in a Dying City

I need to work on this title. I want the final title to be something like this, but not sure if this is too long or not. *shrug*.

Anyway. I’m just past 29,000 words on this one.

I’ve thought of putting one of those progress tracking widgets on the sidebar, but I never remember to update them. So you’ll need to make do with blog posts like this every month or two.

Planting Life in a Dying City is a story of a group of individuals who come together to build a family in a bronze age society where if you don’t have a family, you are nothing. My blogs about generational families and nalbinding were referring to this manuscript. I’ve also got a Quora answer about the magic system that this world will have.

Space Werewolf

I don’t have a title for this one yet. It’s (as the working title suggests) a sci-fi novel with werewolves. (No, not science-fantasy. I’ve got a science-based explanation for having werewolves. It’s no less realistic than FTL drives. 😛 )

I’m pretty sure I haven’t blogged about this at all or discussed the details with anyone other than close friends and family. The two main characters are a werewolf who was is an undercover operative for the (Underground) Railroad and a human/ship entity who botches the werewolf’s op by ‘rescuing’ her.

This one is at around 19,000 words and has been backburnered since last fall. I expect it’ll move to fully active project soon.

Arranged Polyamory

What if, instead of dating and trying to find people to build relationships with, three lonely and lost strangers decided to make a commitment to each other and see what they can build?

At about 6,000 words, I’ve barely started on this one. I’m using it as an experiment in kishōtenketsu style narrative. One thing I’ve struggled with in my romance (and aromance) stories is lack of conflict. Conflict being central to Western-style story telling, but if you have two characters who are constantly in conflict and in a relationship, usually what you have is rather toxic… and I’m realizing that this could be a whole blog post on it’s own, so maybe next week.

Anyway, kishōtenketsu is a narrative style that doesn’t require conflict. So it seemed like a good idea to give it a try.

Thinking and plotting in a completely different manner from what you learned growing up is hard. Hence the very slow burn on this novel.

Historical Space Romance

I admit it, I got lazy.

This was going to be a historical romance set shortly after the Norman Conquest of England. But I didn’t have the spoons to do the research necessary to make it reasonably accurate, and wasn’t willing to not make an attempt to be accurate if I was doing historical.

So I cheated, and it’s now one of those ‘sci-fi’ romances that are set on a colonized world where people lost a lot of tech knowledge and are scraping by and I’m handwaving the ridiculousness of having cultures so similar to Norse, Anglo-Saxon, and Norman because fiction.

The basic idea here was ‘You know all those historical romances where the woman is forced into marriage with a man she doesn’t know/doesn’t like and over the course of the novel becomes a dutiful, submissive medieval wife to her warrior-husband? Yeah, I’m gender-bending that shit.’

It turns out that in Anglo-Saxon England women could do a LOT of things that Norman women weren’t allowed to do. And when the Normans took over they put an end to little things like women holding land in their own right or being their father’s heirs (assuming there was no male heir, of course.)

This one is sitting at right around 10,000 words, written in short bursts as inspiration hits. I’m struggling a bit with this one because i don’t have a general plot arc laid out, beyond what I mentioned above. I’m pretty much purely pantsing is, which is NOT my usual and a challenge. (But obviously not as much of a challenge as kishōtenketsu since I only started it a few months ago and already have this much!)

I’ve shared a few snippets from this one in Jess’ Pack if you want to check them out.

Polyamory on Purpose Guides — Planning Ahead

I can’t seem to work on books sequentially. Which is why I had already started writing a bit of Polyamory & Kink before I finished Safer Sex.

Now I find myself looking ahead again. I had tentatively hoped to tackle Raising Kids in Polyamorous Homes (Yeah, it’s a shit title. I’m working on it) as the next PoP book. But I find I’m still not in a place where I’m healthy enough to focus on that particular topic.

That plus some of what’s been going on in the polyam community of late has me thinking that maybe the next topic I tackle should be another fraught one, but in a very different way: abuse.

I haven’t made a final decision on this. I’m probably 6 months away from starting whatever book I decide to tackle after P&K. But it’s a strong lean. When I was blogging PoP, I got more positive feedback, more people reaching out to say how much my discussion of abuse helped them, about abuse than any other topic.

So there are several good reasons to put abuse at the top of the priority list. It’s topical (sort of, god knows how topical it will be by the time the book is ready for release 2+ years from now) and I know there are people who would benefit from it.

Interestingly, I don’t know if there will be all that much interest in it. If you had to ask me which book would benefit more people, Pregnancy or Polyam Home, I would have said Polyam Home hands down. But Pregnancy consistently outsells it (not by much mind, but noticeably). So my read on which books will help the most people doesn’t necessarily track to books that most people are looking for.

Random related, making the paperback cover for Safer Sex kind brought home how much of a challenge The Bookshelf is gonna be when most of my books are less than half an inch thick!

Safer Sex for the Non-Monogamous is Available for Pre-Order! (sort of)

safer sex for the non-monogamous coverSafer Sex for the Non-Monogamous is now available for pre-order in ebook on Amazon. Ebook only, because Amazon is annoying like that.

The paperback version is be available as soon as Amazon gets it’s thumb out, supposedly sometime before Thursday.

Paperbook version is now available on Amazon and whatever other etailers KDP does print-on-demand for. Because of Amazon weirdness, the paperbook can be ordered now while the ebook is on pre-order. Meh.

The ebook will be available on other etailers Thursday.