Hello World Twitter & Ace Community Interview!

HELLO WORLD came out yesterday,  and now I can type “Hello World” into amazon and find something I poured my heart and soul into. It’s so far getting glowing reviews for the exact things I tried so hard to get right. I have a paperback copy I can hold in my hands like portable magic.

Late last week I asked the ace and twitter community to send me questions about the book, and as promised here are those answers. Thank you to everyone who took an interest in this book baby of ours.

Anon Asked: What is your fav part of your novel?

I can’t think of a favorite scene, but I think my favorite part of the novel has been insistently Scott’s sass. His sarcasm and dry wit always made me smile even if scene wise there is chaos and destruction everywhere. I think being able to joke about things, even if it’s just gallows humor at times is really something that keeps everyone going.

Dawn Asked: What was the easiest/hardest parts of Hello World to write?

The easiest part was the general flow of the action. Scott has a singular focus in this book that question of “okay, where do we go next?” never had to be asked. Made writer’s block non-existent which was miracle like.

The hardest part, by far, was the sex scene. It never was right. It always felt like it assumed a lot about Scott that made me personally uncomfortable on his behalf. I rewrote it at least 4 minutes times trying to get it just write and it was hard because most people didn’t understand my concerns with it when I asked for feedback. In the end, I think it says something important, I just hope it comes off that way in the end and isn’t just glossed over as another pointless sex scene.

Osayi asked: How do you get better with writing? I mean I know it’s about practicing, so I suppose a better question is how to convince yourself to practice and actually practice properly? If, say, you only read horror stories and you were really good at writing them how hard would you think it’d be to write maybe a happy romance?

I think the one thing they never tell you is how hard writing can be. It’s a very slow process and if you don’t absolutely love what you are writing it hardly seems worth it. Find a plot or a message that you simply most tell, or maybe just a character who you absolutely want to follow where they go. That makes the world of difference when it comes to motivation.

As for the second half. I think that absolutely depends. I personally have an incredibly hard time writing happy cute things. I think that’s mostly because I always wrote as an escape from bad so I’d process daily or worldly struggles in fiction. I don’t think changing genre is the hardest thing, but if your heart is set to horror mode, and your head says no write happy romance your best chance might be combining them somehow. That juxtaposition might create something that only you could write.

Ace Apples asked: What would be your favorite characterization to see in an ace character? Like, what kinda personality traits would you love to see them with, or what kinda character archetype would you just adore seeing paired with an ace character?

Hmm, there is relativity so few aces in media and so many ways one can be ace that all I really want to see for ace characters is to be written by non-aphobes and with on page labels. I personally like the sarcastic, take no shit, aces. But mostly because if we were to go down as a single archetype  I’d love for that stereotype to be ‘dont fuck with us or the community.”

Anon asked: How do you think Scott being part of a marginalized and invisible orientation like asexuality influences his resilience as an activist (hacktivist!)? Looking forward to having this book in my hands and supporting you!

Bless you, sweet thing. By complete accident, Scott in ways became a metaphor for my own activism. I don’t want to make too close of a comparison because Scott runs around committing crimes every page, but I do think you hit on something important. Marginalized and invisible groups take so many more metaphorical hits than someone who is not. Sometimes I feel so worn down and literally feel like my face is all bloodied even if all my fights were digital that day. I think there’s a reason why the LGBTQIA/MOGIA communities’ greatest leaders are often people of color, trans women, and sometimes trans women of color. I wouldn’t dare compare myself or Scott to them, but I absolutely believe the most resilient people are from similar groups. I also think it’s why it hurts so much when you see them hurt.

Ben asked: What challenges did you face depicting asexuality on the page, given that it’s the *absence* of something?

It’s really hard and I think that was the driving factor that made me put a label on things. The more aware of things I become the harder it is for me to see that start line of explaining things. There’s a learning curve for readers and you gotta decide where you want to be on it. Straights who don’t understand the community as a whole need more things spelled out for them. Community members need less, and then as I writer, I see aces who are like hell yeah give me a strip club owning sex worker who is ace. I think it comes down to what audience do you want to speak to, readers will be from a range of backgrounds, but you gotta think who is this for. Is it for you? Is this to educate cis straight people? Is it for your own community? It’s definitely a big challenge in writing something that isn’t known by everyone.

Rachel asked: How would you describe your relationship to your characters?

They are definitely my children. I feel like if fan fiction was ever written I’d have to leave a note for the sitter that said make sure they are in bed by nine, here’s a list of their allergies, and an emergency contact number.

Ben asked: What’s computer tech like in Hello World? Is it close to established/probable stuff, or is it really out there?

I’ve always viewed the story as 20 minutes into the future. Everything bit of tech you see is based on existing tech. Even the creepy stuff. However, there is plenty of liberties taken with things that are only proven in theory that in the story are months away from being for the mass market consumer.

Marsianomo: I’m a teen asexual, what do you want me to get bout of this story?

I hope you have something I didn’t. I feel like calling him a hero is bragging, but at least someone who tries their heart out and is open about the struggles in that. That way when you fight, for whatever your own heart decides, you go into without Hollywood romanticism. I also hope you can see that ace lives are complexed and worth telling even if, or maybe when, jerks try to tell you otherwise.

Again thank you all for the questions and I hope you check out HELLO WORLD!

Merry interview time with J.M. Frey!

The Untold Tale coverToday I have an amazing interview from author J.M. Frey. We talk about The Untold Tale, fandoms, fic, and other untold tales in life as a writer. But, first let me tell you more about the novel!

About The Untold Tale:
Forsyth Turn is not a hero. Lordling of Turn Hall and Lysse Chipping, yes. Spymaster for the king, certainly. But hero? That’s his older brother’s job, and Kintyre Turn is nothing if not legendary. However, when a raid on the kingdom’s worst criminal results in the rescue of a bafflingly blunt woman, oddly named and even more oddly mannered, Forsyth finds his quaint, sedentary life is turned on its head. Dragged reluctantly into a quest he never expected, and fighting villains that even his brother has never managed to best, Forsyth is forced to confront his own self-shame and the demons that come with always being second-best. And, more than that, when he finally realizes where Lucy came from and why she’s here, he’ll be forced to question not only his place in the world, but the very meaning of his own existence. Smartly crafted, The Untold Tale gives agency to the unlikeliest of heroes: the silenced, the marginalized, and the overlooked. It asks what it really means to be a fan when the worlds you love don’t resemble the world you live in, celebrates the power of the written word, challenges tropes, and shows us what happens when someone stands up and refuses to remain a secondary character in their own life.

No need to wait for Santa, you can get it now! 

Q: The title of The Untold Tale has such a classic feeling. Could you tell us the story of how you settled with that title?JMFrey_Author Photo

A: Oh, gosh, it was a process. I usually don’t title my books right away, so the filenames are generally something really snarky like “The One With The Gay Blue Aliens” (which later became Triptych.)

The Untold Tale was originally “That Meta-Thingy”. After the first draft was done, I started searching the manuscript for a great line or phrase to use. I really liked the titles of books like The Knife of Never Letting Goor Where the Red Fern Grows, and I wanted something like that. But nothing in the book really stood out like that.

I asked friends, asked beta readers, asked my agent. I think at one point I had a list of about fifty possible titles. I finally landed on Between the Lines and really adored that title, but when I Googled it, it turned out to be a Jodi Picault novel. Next I went with Untold, and that’s where the book lived for a few weeks, and then Sarah Rees Brennan released a novel with that title.

I’d already had problems with people mistaking my Triptych for Karen Slaughter’s, so I wanted something unique. In the end, after about a year, my agent and I finally landed on The Untold Tales of Turn, and then in the middle of her shopping the book, I shortened it to simple The Untold Tale, because that’s what the book was, in essence. It’s a tale that hasn’t been told yet.
And boy howdy, the process was just as loopy and frustrating for the next two books in the series, too. The Publisher’s Marketplace announcement lists them as “The Returned Tale” and “The Final Tale” but I didn’t think those were evocative enough. Those were I’m-panicking-and-I-only-came-up-with-these-story-ideas-and-titles-three-days-ago titles. Once I’d actually had the opportunity to discuss the books with my acquiring editor, Kisa Whipkey, and we’d decided what the next two books in the series would really be about, we started brainstorming titles. They ended up being The Forgotten Tale, and The Silenced Tale, and they literally could not be more perfect.

Q: What is your favorite thing about fandoms?

A: For me it’s the sense of community. It’s the tribe of it. I can (and have) look across a room, see a woman with a fan-art printed bag, and know, instantly, that this is a person that I will like and have something in common with. They say watching people read in public is like seeing a book recommend a person. With fandom, it’s the same. It doesn’t matter who you are, what your age, gender expression, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, etc. if you are wearing a Stargate SG1 mission patch on your coat I know in an instant that you are someone that I will get along with.

I also love the creativity that is expressed through fandom. I adore the idea of someone so moved by a story, so engaged that they can no longer simply passively consume it. They must seek out more, and make more. They have to write, or cosplay, or make art, or go to conventions, or RPG online. That’s stunning. And as a creator, that’s flattering as all get out. I really hope that people will be inspired enough by my work to create fanworks. I think there’s no better way of telling an author you love what they wrote.

Q: After studying them for a while, have you noticed a change with how readers either react or interact?

A: Well, I mean, the readers I studied for my MA were all internet-based; I began with research in Yahoo Groups before Tumblr was even a twinkle in its creator’s eyes. And the only really difference I see is that the intense and deeply engaged discussions are happening on public walls instead of in closed-room groups that can sometimes become echo chambers of bias, to their detriment. This means the discussion is open for anyone to jump into.
Now, sometimes this opens the way for bullies, trolls, flamers (do we even use that word any more?) and douchecanoes, and I can absolutely say that I’ve seen a rise in the self-important entitled troll. But I’ve also seen a rise in diverse discussions, where people with differing opinions, or new information are welcomed into the thread and conversation, and their contribution is welcome, celebrated, fairly considered, and replied to politely. And I think that’s fantastic. Discourse can only be augmented by fairly reasoned, well researched, interesting additions. It’s just unfortunate that it’s also been joined by the rise of the entitled whiney trolls.

Q: What advice could you give to people looking to add more diversity into their own stories?

A: Ask yourself “why” more often when you’re creating your characters. For example, “Brian is a straight, white, man.” Okay, but ‘why’? What about this character Brian is inherently straight, or white, or male? Why does Brian have to be any of those things? Why is that the default? Why can’t Brian be Brienne, and not straight, and not white? Will it ruin the story?
The thing is, the world is not homogenous, and groups are not monolith. The default is white, and straight, and male, and it should not be. The white straight male is a sliver of the population of the earth. It’s time to start making art that shows the rest of the human race as well.
And once you’ve decided to make Brian different, be meticulous, fair, and as unbiased in your research as you can be. Figure out what the stereotypes are for Brian’s gender expression, sexuality, ethnicity, etc. and avoid them. Create a whole character, not just a caricature, and do it with as much thought and care as you would any “default setting” character you may write.
And most importantly, do not tell the stories of diverse writers FOR them. Include diverse characters, but don’t co-opt their voices and experiences.

Q: We’ve talked about fanfiction before, what sort of fanfiction would you love to see with your characters or worlds?

A: I tried so hard to write the “how they got together” story for one of the couples in The Untold Tale and every single time I tried to write it down, I could never do what was in my head justice. In the end, it was removed from the book completely because it didn’t work with the novel’s single narrator POV. I would just die with joy if a whole spate of “how they got together” fics sprouted up!

Q: In a few tweets, it’s been mentioned that there is another whole level under what is written that is filled with personal things like “I was on the train when I wrote this scene.” Could you tell us a moment of The Untold Tale that is soaked with one of these memories?

A: What I was talking about that series of tweets was the nostalgia of rereading one’s own writing. Books are intensely personal because there is a lot of the author in not just the story, but because the creative journey is long and laborious, and when we re-read our own work we inevitably are also experiencing the memories of when we wrote that part. We experience not only the book, but where we were when we wrote that bit (or cut it out again). For an author, a book is not just a story. It is also an emotional time capsule of who we were, and where we were when we wrote it.

For me, I think one of the scenes packed with the highest number of emotional moments for me is the ball at Turn Hall in The Untold Tale, where Pip dances with Bevel and Kintyre, and ends up telling them off. That rant was the very first thing I wrote for the book, and it came from an extremely long and infuriating conversation I had with a male friend where I tried to explain to him what it felt like to never be the intended audience. I couldn’t argue with him anymore, I was too emotional, so I fled into my office and ended up writing it all out.

I came back to that scene a lot to recapture Pip’s rage, and so I read it everywhere – on planes, on trains, overseas, under the covers, and out loud at several workshops, coffeehouses, and reading series.

And now there’s a new layer! I was out at a pub listening to the Steel City Rovers play, and they did an instrumental song called Aibhlinn’s Dance.About five bars into the song I burst into tears, and had to hide my face in my sleeves because the song was exactly what I’d had in my mind for the “Waves Upon the Shore Dance”, which Pip and Bevel dance at the ball. I was absolutely slammed with the memories of writing and reading the scene aloud, all at once.

Now when I reread the scene, I hear this song in my head and it makes it even more perfect and emotionally gripping for me.

Q: I know I’m really excited for The Untold Tale, what are some upcoming things you are excited for?

A: SLEEP! No, seriously, I really am looking forward to that. I’ve been really pushing myself to finish a few more projects before the release of The Untold Tale so I can just enjoy the celebrations. (As soon as I finish this interview with you, I am rushing straight back to a screenplay that is THIS CLOSE to being done.)

In terms of stories, I’m pumped for Captain America: Civil War and the Sherlock: The Abominable Bride. And of course I hang on every page of Meagan Kearney’s Beauty and the Beast, and series two of The Riftworld Chronicles, if it ever happens.

And I’m super excited to share the #SecretScreenplay project with everyone, once it’s complete and I can tell!

Need more of author J.M. Frey? | Website | Tumblr | Twitter

Deceptive Cadence – Character Interview!

The Deceptive Cadence blog tour makes a spot with us! Not only is there another giveaway to offer you, but we also have an exclusive character interview for you!

Before this, what have the hardest decision you’ve had to make?
Before going back in time? Um, I’d say travelling so far to go to University. I was scared to go clear across the country, but I needed it after all the drama in high school. I needed a fresh start.

Has your idea of happiness changed after loss?
Yes. I think sometimes we get so caught up with being better, or right we forget the important things. Seeing Austin and Melody dead reminded me of what really matters most; my family and the people I love. I realized that without them, nothing had much meaning.

Is there any slang that you are going to bring back with your second chance? Or dread hearing again?
Ha ha, I don’t know. I do say things that are so out of time though, so I have to be careful not to fall into too many bad habits.

Do you believe in soul mates?
I’m not sure. I don’t think there’s one person out there for anyone, if there was, then what happens if one dies before they meet? Or they never have a chance to meet? Or if they do meet, they’re not in the same place in life and don’t notice each other? I think there are people out there who can become our soul mates if we choose. I mean, if I never chose to move to Perth, I never would have met Austin. I believe our soul mates come from the choices we make, not destiny. Or maybe I’m just thinking too much.

What is your favorite time travel story?
Time travel story… hmm… well, Geri and I like having girl’s nights and watching eighties greats, and Back to the Future is a repeated favorite. Oh, and Bill and Ted is pretty great too.

Before the accident, what would have been your one do-over?
Geri. I love that girl like nothing else. There’s never been a truer friend than her. Even Lyla and Tara don’t quite meet her standard. I missed her every day after we fought, and wished I knew what I did. She’s definitely top priority for my do-over.

Besides the obvious of being given a second change what is your favorite thing about going back?
Seeing my teen years with a fresh perspective! Who wouldn’t want that? Then of course, I’m so excited about falling in love with Austin all over again. Being married is wonderful, but the beginning, when you first start dating, is exhilarating. Everything is new, and full of energy, and Austin was such a gentleman. I was so lucky to have him.

About Deceptive Cadence:
Cadence Anderson has the perfect definition of happily ever after . . .

Until she doesn’t. A freak earthquake shatters her life as surely as her home, taking away everything she holds dear. She wakes in a hospital to find that her beloved husband and infant daughter have been killed, crushed by the earthquake’s wrath. Disoriented, injured, and alone, Cadence refuses to accept the loss. So when a man claiming to be her guardian angel appears and offers her a chance to go back in time to save her family, she doesn’t need to give it a second thought. She accepts.

Thrust back eleven years, she now faces the ordeal of high school all over again. But this time, she’s armed with all the knowledge of her adult life and the determined to do everything better, from preventing the loss of her best friend to avoiding her original, drama-inducing boyfriends. She’s focused solely on Austin, her future husband, and is content to bide her time until she meets him again.

But then James Gordon crosses her path. Cadence wants to remain single, but James has his sights set. He is determined to win her over, and he’s very hard to resist. As Cadence starts to develop unwanted feelings for him, she realizes he threatens to disrupt everything, changing the future and distracting her from her original goal. Now, Cadence must choose: deny the unpredictable and exciting path James offers her, or stay true to the life she had and is trying desperately to resurrect. Second chances are more complicated than they seem.

Deceptive Cadence combines the soaring emotion of a heartfelt romance with the innovative storytelling of magical realism, crafting a uniquely moving, intricate tale about love and loss that asks: what would you do if given the chance to right all your wrongs?

Get Deceptive Cadence from Amazon.

About Katie Hamstead:
Born and raised in Australia, Katie’s early years of day dreaming in the “bush”, and having her father tell her wild bedtime stories, inspired her passion for writing.

After graduating High School, she became a foreign exchange student where she met a young man who several years later she married. Now she lives in Arizona with her husband, daughter and their dogs.

She has a diploma in travel and tourism which helps inspire her writing. Katie loves to out sing her friends and family, play sports and be a good wife and mother. She now works as an Acquisitions Editor to help support her family. She loves to write, and takes the few spare moments in her day to work on her novels.

Find Katie Hamstead on Twitter, Facebook, and her website.

Asexuals In Writing: Claudie Arseneault

Cross-post from Fuck Yeah Asexual
Viral Airwaves is on sale for a couple more days and remember this blog’s giveaway is still going!

Viral AirwavesAuthor Bio: I’m a beginning indie author in my mid-twenties, hailing from Quebec City. I write mostly fantasy and solarpunk, a very cool sci-fi subgenre for which I’ll be co-editing a nice dragon-solarpunk anthology. I published my first novel, Viral Airwaves, earlier this year. When I’m not busy writing or reading, I devote my love to science (I’m a biochemist, cells are cool), squids, and hot air balloons.

What do you identify as? I’m asexual, and somewhere on the aromantic spectrum. Exactly where, I have no idea and don’t really feel the need to know.

Do you have an asexual in your story, if so how do they identify? 
In the novel I have published right now, I don’t. Although to be honest, the MC’s experiences and the way he interacts with his love interest feel very asexual, but I think that’s because I wrote it how I felt natural. Not canon though asexual, though, and not really mentioned anywhere in the novel.
But! I’m working on a MOGAI-centric high fantasy saga right now, and there’s three of them! Nevian is a (demi)heteroromantic sex-repulsed ace, Larryn is panromantic gray asexual (in the very rarely feels attraction, but feels it strongly), and Jessana (who only appears later in the series) is biromantic asexual. No wait, four, I’m totally forgetting Cal, who’s aro-ace. So, very large crew, with a lot of ace peeps! :3

What did you want to get right about your representation? First I wanted to represent a wide variety of experiences. They’re scattered across the ace (and romantic) spectrum for that reason, among other things. Having many ace characters also helps countering stereotypes. Cal is very outgoing and friendly, whereas Nevian is an apprentice magician that really wants to do nothing more than study.

I also wanted to represent ace folk that are often kind of thrown under the bus. You see a lot of “Not all aces are self-repulsed!” and “Asexuality has nothing to do with sexual abuse!” and while yeah that’s important, I wanted aces who ARE those things or have lived those things. Having many characters really helps with that, because I can both go against the too-typical representation, and also have fully-developed characters for which elements of this “bad representation” are an integral part of their lives. The other thing is that they have different views on how important asexuality is to their lives. Larryn hasn’t even really noticed, because he has a billion things to deal with. Cal fully knows, accepts, and is proud of his lack of attractions (romantic or sexual). Nevian is weirded out and disgusted by everyone’s frequent obsession with sex. Basically what I wanted to get right was diversity even among my ace characters.

Anything else?  Gosh I’ve talked a lot about my next project today, but right now I have a solarpunk novel and its prequel novella out! The novella (The White Renegade) is totally free, so you can sample my writing in a feels-intensive story with a bisexual, albinistic hero and his agender and aromantic friend. And Viral Airwaves will be on sale from June 25th to July 10th, for 0.99$. So that’s where you can find my published writing at!

The White Renegade – AmazonElsewhere – Viral Airwaves – Amazon – Elsewhere
Stay tuned for our reviews of both!