Brief Updates on Lots of Stuff

It’s been a overwhelming month. Lots of stuff, both good and bad. Here’s the round up of what’s been going on with my various life goals.

My Bookshelf: I’ve started getting back responses from beta readers for Polyamory and Kink. As usual, the folks doing beta reads have some great comments and suggestions and pin pointed some areas I missed.

Old ‘Woman’: I’ve made some real progress in reliable self care. The 99 Coping Skills list is an awesome you should check out if you need self care ideas. I’m also doing better at staying in touch with family and friends and making progress on compiling my to-read list instead of just having a pile of books in various places. Also… last week was the anniversary of my mother’s death. Lots of thoughts, probably make a blog post next week.

Generational Home: There may be some very big news on this in the next few months. Dilip Numetor Amelia Chetana Waller, Michael and I will be going on a trip the end of February, and if all goes well our plans for living together will jump ahead several years.

The Farm: See above paragraph. If the February trip goes well, I’ll share some details when we get back. My indoor gardening is on hold until we know for sure what’s happening.

Cuil Press: Once Upon a Green Rose is out on Amazon, and for the first time we enroleld a book in Kindle Unlimited. We really don’t like the whole walled-garden thing Amazon has going, but we also want to make our books accessible and, you know, at least break even. So we’re experimenting. Green Rose will be in KU for 2 enrollment periods, then we’ll pull it and put it up on other booksellers.

As always, drafts of my books are available on Patreon.

So if you want to read Polyamory and Kink before next summer, become a Patron.

Planting Life in a Dying City Preview

A lot has been happening and I really should do a family or farm post, but I just don’t have the spoons. So instead, you are getting to see the first chapter of my bronze age low fantasy novel Planting Life in a Dying City. This is still a draft, so expect typos, misspellings, etc.

Lefeng: The Wave

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 winter started.

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 short time 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 young child 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 hirself 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 hirself 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.

Find more of Lefeng’s story — and the rest of eir new family — on Patreon.

Polyamory & Kink Draft Is Finished! (and what I’m doing next)

With a week to spare, I finished up Polyamory & Kink. I am currently doing one last read-through, but by the time you read this it should be off to the folks who volunteered to beta-read.

I’m tentatively looking at a July publication date (but this is me…). Unless things go really off, I should be able to have all the editing and what-not done by the end of April. Formatting and such usually only takes me a week. So if I pushed I could have the book for sale sometime in late Spring. But I don’t want to push this time.

I want to give myself time to fight with Amazon KDP without stressing about a very-near deadline. I want to see if I can get a few review copies out to folks who might be interested. And I want to have it all done a month a head of time so there’s no more of this horribly stressful “OMGOMGOMG I’M RUNNING OUT OF TIME” like with my earlier books.

BUT! Unless something goes wrong, the ebook will be available to my Patrons sometime in May. (Hint hint…)

So What Next?

Fiction

Now that P&K is in edits, I’ll be switching my main writing focus to fiction for a while. Specifically, Planting Life in a Dying City, my bronze age low fantasy novel of strangers across three generations coming together to build a new family.

As you can see in the little progress bar over on the right there, I’m about a third of the way done with the draft for Planting Life, and if I can keep up the writing pace I’ve managed for the last few months (again, this is me, so that’s a big ‘if’) then I should have the rough draft finished by the end of June.

Because of the way I write fiction, my ‘rough drafts’ are a bit more polished than most people’s. Basically, I tend to do most of my structural edits while drafting. (When you re-write the same story 3 or 4 times, you tend to catch most of the big problems sooner or later.) So I’m *hoping* (and this is definitely a stretch) that I can also get the editing and such done for Planting Life in about six months and get it out ~ January 2021.

PoP Guides

In the mean time, I’ve got the next PoP book lined up. Abuse in Polyamory is in very early draft and outline phase at the moment. It’s technically on my ‘active projects’ list now that P&K is done drafting. I’ve got weekly goals for both writing Planting Life and editing P&K. Any time left after I meet those goals each week will go to Abuse in Polyamory.

Ideally, I’ll meet my writing goals for Planting Life and finish outlining Abuse in Polyamory at about the same time, at which point Abuse in Polyamory will become my main writing project. Goal is to publish one year after P&K. Wish me luck!

Long Term

My big writing goal has always been to reach a point where I could have three projects solidly underway at any given time — one being drafted, one being written, and one being edited and prepared for publication. I may (fingers crossed) finally be at a point where I can reach that goal. If I can do this — and maintain it — then barring the random life hiccups that are sure to happen soon or later, I can start releasing a solid 2 books a year, one non-fiction and one fiction.

And I will be a very happy author.

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….