Sunday, February 10, 2019

New Book Out Thursday!

It's another week without the promised "East of the Sun, West of the Moon" update; sorry! Been very busy prepping "Dear Somebody," which is what happens when one decides to create and release a book in the space of less than two weeks.

I discovered this afternoon that I was out of colored ink, so I had to go to an office supply store for ink and a fabric store for thread, but I have eight copies printed, bound, and ready to go.
 You can pre-order "Dear Somebody" from Amazon here.
You can pre-order "Dear Somebody" from Barnes and Noble here.
And you can order "Dear Somebody" from Etsy here!
(I figure it will take at least until Valentine's Day to get books shipped and delivered, so ordering starts now on Etsy; if you order yet tonight they'll go out on Monday, and if you order them tomorrow they'll go out on Tuesday, assuming of course that my somewhat lackluster postman succeeds in actually collecting the mail.)

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Dear Somebody

So last week was supposed to (finally) be the second half of my "East of the Sun, West of the Moon" post. And it wasn't. Well, neither is tonight. Hopefully we'll be back on track by next week, but in the meantime I have an exciting announcement.

Dear Somebody is a chapbook consisting of 12 poems about asexuality. It comes out on Valentine's Day. The physical copy will be available on Etsy, hand-bound like thin, and the digital copy will be available for Kindle and Nook. More details, including pricing, coming soon!

Edited 2/4/19 to add:

Pricing update! Digital copies from Amazon and Barnes and Noble will be $1.99. Hard copies from Etsy will be $3.00.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

East of the Sun

(Repost in Preparation for Part II next week)

There is a peasant in the woods, and his family is large and he is poor and his children are terribly ill.

One day, a large white bear comes up to him in the woods and says, “Hey, man, if you give me your youngest daughter I’ll give you a ton of money and your crops will prosper and your kids will be healthy.”

And the father is all like, “Excuse me? We do not just give people away. Especially to talking forest creatures. She’s a person, not a pair of spare boots.”

He pauses, considering the general financial situation of his family.

“I’ll ask her if she’s interested.”

Initially, our girl is not wildly enthusiastic about this opportunity, and hey, who could blame her? But things are pretty bad at home, and if she can help, well.

The bear comes back and she climbs on his back, and they travel far and far and far away, to a beautiful castle in the snow. And the bear goes off to do bear things, and the girl goes to the fancy bedroom provided. Night falls. Sleep falls.

And then, the door opens. And then, some dude gets into bed with her. And our girl, she just rolls with it. Like, okay, I’m in a magic castle with a talking bear, hundreds of miles away from everyone and everything I’ve ever known, and now there’s a strange man in my bed. Whatever.

I dunno. Maybe she’s thinking, well hey, at least it’s not the bear. Maybe she’s just too freaked out to react. Who knows?

But this keeps happening. Night after night after night. And she keeps letting it. Are they lying therein awkward silence? Are they talking? Are they sleeping? Are they having sex?

I mean, okay, they’re definitely having sex, because that’s just how fairy tales work—they never spell it out, but the implication is always there.

Anyway. Most of a year goes by. Girl gets homesick. Talks to bear. The bear is a pretty cool bear, because he’s like, “Yeah, sure, but you can only visit for a month. And also, um, please don’t talk to your mom alone?”

Now me, I’d think that last bit was a little sketchy. But our girl figures it’s a pretty good deal.

Her mom, on the other hand, her mom agrees with me. Sketchy. And of course, she manages to get her daughter alone eventually. And then she fids out about how her daughter is spending her nights.

In a move that will eternally villainize her, as it has countless other concerned fairy tale parents, mom objects.

“You’re sleeping with a strange man every night? You’ve never even seen his face? Are you even using protection? Did you listen to none of my lectures about safe sex and stranger danger? This is not okay. This is really not okay. Here. I’m gonna give you a candle and some matches. And the next time this creep shows up in your bedroom, you’re going to wait until he falls asleep, and then you’re going to light the candle and figure out what you’re dealing with.”

So when she gets back to the castle with the bear, our girl listens to her mom and lights her candle.

And this guy she’s been sleeping with for eleven months? Turns out he’s really, really cute. Like, record-shatteringly cute. Like, my-mom-would-totally-understand cute. Like, I-am-physically-incapable-of-looking-away-from-his-beautiful-face-and-my-candle-is-dripping-onto-his-nightshirt cute.

Then the hot wax gets to him, and the cute guy wakes up.

Turns out our boy is the enchanted talking bear, and he just had to get through one more month of sleeping with this girl while providing no information about himself, and the spell would have been broken and he could be a person full time again.

But now the girl, having exactly zero information about what was going on and what was expected of her, has screwed up. So he has to go to a land east of the sun and west of the moon to marry his evil troll stepmother’s evil troll daughter.

Stepmom comes, boy and castle disappear, girl is left alone in the snow. End Part One.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Wendy Darling

This is Wendy Darling. Named, of course, after Wendy Moira Angela Darling, she of Peter Pan fame. Wendy is a border collie, which means she’s too smart for her own good, and in possession of boundless energy.

She’s fantastic, and I love her. Also, I’m so incredibly tired. My original plan was to use her name to sort of transition into talking about Peter Pan. But you’ll have to settle for cute puppy pictures today.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Sex vs. Romance: The Cultural Shift in Folklore

I think it’s fascinating, how we simultaneously sexualize and sanitize our fairy tales. What we’re ultimately doing, of course, is romanticizing. We move all of the sexual elements to a part of the story where they have a point.

Fairy tales aren’t, at their core, romantic. There’s a certain practicality to folklore—these are stories spread and shared among poor, working class people, often women, and they’re about success and survival, not love.

Well, familial love, perhaps, but the unions with royalty are seldom about anything as impractical as romance. Which is why the princes and princesses often aren’t likeable people.

Marriage in modern American culture is inherently romantic. Which is why these stories seem so bizarre to us. He’s going to live happily ever after with the chick who decapitated his brothers?

No! He didn’t win because he got the girl. He won because he got one over on the girl. He outsmarted the snotty princess, and now he has money and power. There’s no love here.

In earlier versions of the story, Snow White may be a prepubescent object of lust and jealousy. But she is not kissed awake—the apple is dislodged by a bump in the road. In earlier versions of the story, Sleeping Beauty is raped, but it is not this that wakes her; it is a splinter being dragged from the finger by a suckling child.

No women, in today’s variants, lose their virginity when asleep or, worse still, dead. No children are lusted after. But we’ve added a new component to the story—true love’s kiss. There’s no more senseless sexual violence. The romantic element serves an actual point.

Understanding the original cultural context is important, sure, but it is in the nature of folklore that the cultural context is constantly shifting, along with the details of the story. I think it’s stupid, frankly, to complain about the Disney-fication or whatever. Oh no! The protagonist gets money and power, AND she gets to spend her life with someone she actually likes! No one even got raped. How terrible! What a betrayal of the great tradition of storytelling!

Get over yourself, man. After four hundred years, these characters deserve a real happy ending.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Patreon Problems

I’ve been on Patreon for a couple years now, and the more time I spend here, the more I think it’s just not a great format for writing, though I think it works great for visual art. (If anyone has ideas on how to make it work better for writing, that would be very helpful, and much appreciated!)

Things like when I tried to share my novel were just…not convenient. (What I really love, for that kind of parceling out of a longer work over an extended time, are fanfic sites. AO3 is just a lovely format, and I wish there was something like that I could use the way I try to use Patreon.)

But the real, main problem I have with Patreon is very much an issue with me, and not the site: the format of the fundraising just doesn’t make sense to me, as someone who has large-scale, long-term goals, rather than several small milestones to reach.

If my goal is to save x amount of money to purchase ISBNs, how do I convert that into a monthly goal? I can’t say “I need to make x amount of money per month,” because actually what I need is to make x amount of money for y months, or maybe y amount of money for z months.

And meanwhile I feel obligated to fill my page with smaller goals. If I make x amount of money per month, I can do this, and if I make y amount of money per month I can do this, and if I make z amount of money per month, I can do the thing I actually want to do. So in order to fit in with the format of Patreon, I’m setting all these goals I don’t have the time, energy, or desire to meet.  And I’m spending money on those things that I would rather be devoting to my actual, long-term goal.

Plus, I really hate deciding, okay, this one thing I wrote is worth this amount of money, this thing is worth more; only these people can see these things, and only these people can see these things and those other things—it isn't enough just to support me, you have to support me THIS MUCH every month to see this thing, this thing that I wrote because I wanted people to read it, not because I’m desperate to increase my monthly income by $1.

So. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with Patreon moving forward. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Year in Review/Coming Up

It’s been a busy year. Not, I suppose, from the perspective of my readers, but in distinctly un-artistic ways, it’s been a lot.

It’s just past eleven, and I’m writing, tonight, in between baking Christmas cookies. I’ve been trying lately to maintain a better sleep schedule, but some rebellious part of my brain insists that baking is a late-night activity.

2018 has been my first full year working a fulltime job. It’s also the year I bought a house, and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and OCD. I tried new meds (which WORK!). I got two guinea pigs, three hermit crabs, a fish, and a snail. I tried dating and decided it wasn’t for me. I wrote almost exclusively indulgent crap under a pen name, for no purpose but fun. I made boring, grown-up purchases, like crock pots and blenders, address labels and Christmas trees. My new house has a piano, and I finally bought a TV. I’ve been working through my complicated relationship with the church, and though I haven’t found the place where I belong yet, I have some good leads to check out when all the holiday chaos dies down. This week I got a puppy. (More on that later.)

It’s been a big year for life. It’s been a slow year for writing, especially as I try to work out a good schedule with all my new responsibilities.

I’m not going to make any promises, because the balancing act is still a major struggle. But here’s a bit about what’s been going on, and what my thoughts are for moving forward:

I have one major goal for 2019, which is to start my own small press, so that I own my own ISBNs, and am ACTUALLY self-publishing, instead of technically being published by Createspace or Lulu.

Over the last twelve months, I’ve continued to work slowly on my next poetry collection, which will be called Small Scars. I’ve also begun work on a short story collection. This is going to be called The Shoemaker Prince, and will be made up of two longer stories and several much shorter ones, all fairy tales and fairy tale retellings. There may also be another chapbook in the works, similar to thin but about asexuality, tentatively titled Dear Somebody.

My goal is to get back to weekly fairy tale blogs; I have content outlined for the first three months of the year. For my church blog, I’ll be aiming for one post each month. I’m also considering monthly book reviews; in theory these will all be of Beauty and the Beast retellings for the next year.

One thing that remains really difficult for me is Patreon. I’m not getting much use out of it, primarily because I just don’t find it a useful format for my purposes.  There will be a post about that soon, explaining my struggles with it and asking for your feedback. For now I’m putting it on the backburner.

Despite the changes and challenges of the past year, and despite the fact that I genuinely enjoy my current job, my long-term goal is still to write and publish fulltime. As always, I appreciated your support as I work toward this goal.