Character and Song #40: Seraphim Vitas

Ah, the fallen angel. Or one of them, anyway. Sera is the fire angel of life, with a spirit that burns brightly. Sera also had one simple job to do: protect the Trees in the Garden. Unfortunately, a little wrench was thrown into hir plans (yes, that’s hir and not his or her, this being is a freaking angel means they don’t have a sex). That wrench was Lilith, because of course when one needs a scapegoat, who better to blame than her? Anyway, so Sera just can’t resist her charms and ends up turning hir back on everything ze thought ze stood for (are you annoyed yet?) . Basically, Sera was totally kidnapped by Lilith.  They end up birthing some of the creatures that you’ll recognize in my books placed in more modern times.  Since their tale is ancient history, both Sera and Lilith can be found in the series In the Time of Toba. Sera and Lilith both return in later books as well, but in different forms. See if you can guess who. If you’d like to possibly be insulted by my bastardization of history and myth, then look forward to reading this one. If you’re just rolling your eyes and waiting for the music, enjoy Applescal’s Forced Angel, which I absolutely will not ever tell you how I found because it’s embarrassing as hell. And if you somehow know this song and know where I found it you’re a freak and you’ll totally like my books.

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P.S. Random update: I’m feeling so much better, nearly back to normal. Still, my condition will come back to bite me in the ass so I’m doing all I can to keep my health in order. I’ve also been writing furiously. I’ve got two more books typed up and nearly ready for publication next year and I finished writing Mikassa’s Fall. Mwa ha ha, so expect to see Book 14: The Black Tree Second published very soon while I figure out in which order to publish the random-ass pile of books I’ve got laying around. Remember, the first book in each series is listed for free on places like Kobo, Smashwords, and this very site. How awesome is that? So you get to see each series’ unique brand of craziness before deciding if you want to jump in with me. Keep in mind I try to keep the endings of the first book in a series light because things tend to go seriously, horribly, inevitably downhill from there… But there’s an ultimate happy ending eventually, I promise. Kind of. It’s just really, really, really, really far away.

Vision Of Inner Thoughts

Emotional Intelligence (A Cuil Contemplation)

Part of my intense annoyance with films is because I’m aromantic. The sappy stuff that normally excites everyone else bores me if it doesn’t confuse me. But a large part of that annoyance stems from a much deeper, more insidious issue. I notice it because I’m already a sinister weirdo (by sinister I mean left-handed; look it up). My brain works differently and I have no idea if anyone else even cares about this when it comes to storytelling but: WHERE IS THE COMMUNICATION?

It should be no surprise to you that I studied psychology and philosophy (Brain and Mind studies covers, like, everything you’d ever want to know about humans). Combine that with the shitty people who wanted me to keep it a secret that they treated me shittily and my desire for openness and honesty in all matters (except when it results in something hilarious. Then I’m twice the jackass I normally am) and you have yourself a person who is utterly annoyed by unnecessary miscommunication. How many plots would be resolved in minutes if the people just simply talked to one another? Is making everyone in the fictional universes socially inept the only way people know how to build conflict and tell a good story?

There’s very little talk about safe sex, or healthy communication, or emotional maturity to model oneself on. Instead we often get abusive, creepy, or simply horribly inefficient interactions. People are watching and reading and listening to all of this, daydreaming about having their significant others read their minds to know everything they want and need. Some people really seem to believe that all of the game-playing, noble suffering, and missed connections are a normal part of life and relationships (ever been in a counselor’s office? Or on the internet in general?).

Even if people realize that most of the movie interactions are malarkey, what do they have to compare it to? Even well-written sprawling and epic tales suffer from the main character turning stupid or moody whenever they see the girl they like. Maybe it truly is difficult for romantic people to sort through the chemically-induced high to communicate effectively. I don’t know.

All I know is that if I want my characters to be realistic, they have to be more than cardboard cutouts saying all of the same things or falling in love in exactly the same way. There are so many fascinating dimensions to people, emotions, and interactions. There are so many things people can do together besides make goo-goo eyes. Neurodiversity is an actual thing. Maybe making characters too realistic makes them unrelatable but that’s why I also make them ridiculous and usually not human. Um, more to the point, though, I love getting into people’s mental makeup. This means getting to the roots of their emotions, their assumptions, and their personalities in a totally Socratic way.

This does mean there tends to be more dialogue (both internal and external) between my characters and other characters or even just within their own minds. Our values, our philosophies and deepest beliefs are what make us who we are, and there are as many ways of thinking as there are human beings. Many of my characters can indeed read one another’s minds and yet they still must actually speak to each other. Thoughts aren’t simply made of words; they can be pictures, music, smells, gigantic interlocking networks of concepts. I really don’t think creative work gives enough credit to what brains do. Writers are all about making someone “smart” by having them know a lot of facts or having them be able to fix machinery or technology “like really, really good” but there are almost no emotionally intelligent (or emotionally honest) people represented anywhere on TV or in books (except if they’re sociopaths using it against someone).

We don’t get to see healthy discussions about what people actually want, we don’t get to see what informed and enthusiastic consent looks like, we don’t get to see people resolving their issues in ways that makes sense. Instead we’re treated to people behaving like toddlers who have never interacted with another human being. There’s no explanation for this; there’s no reason given for why these people can’t communicate effectively. It’s simply a plot device, thrown in to make the story more interesting. Really, characters have it bad in the media-they seem to be overwhelmingly used as plot devices. My characters should be happy that I let them fully develop while I torture them.

Anyway, for me, my characters are the story. They are what moves it. They are what the worlds revolve around. Instead of being blindly swept along by Fate, they are active participants in creating the worlds they live in, even if they fail to change it. It’s very hard for me to write flat characters. Nearly everyone I write is a dynamic character. That does leave me much less time to write about the intricate designs in the corner of the bottom right-hand back side of the couch seated in front of the dust-darkened window that let in just the tiniest sliver of refreshing and wholesome sunshine but honestly I really don’t mind that. Most of my descriptions are of internal design and motivation and much of my writing involves discussion and communication. If elaborate descriptions are present, it’s because the character actually notices them (some of them are tactile junkies or have reactions suspiciously similar to Stendhal’s syndrome).

People may hate all of that talking and reflecting. They want to know about that damned spot on the corner of that couch because damnit, their imaginations are just empty and need to be filled. But what does that say about them? Are people really more interested in seeing 2-dimensional people with no capacity to handle or sort through their emotions be used as fodder for vastly beautiful worlds at the expense of exploring people who have depth and rich inner worlds that actually affect the worlds they live in? Maybe because I  walk around with a literal vision of the entire cuilverse floating and changing and growing in my head I can’t understand why people don’t need to be…qualitatively different in creative works.

Maybe that’s just how art works. I mean, there are stereotypes and tropes for a reason. Maybe I’m too much of a rebel and that’s why no one will ever like me. Maybe left-handers really are weirdos. Maybe seeing multiple kinds of communication and neurodiversity aren’t that important to a lot of people. I just know it matters to me. I compare and contrast communication problems and solutions, I experiment with perspectives by throwing philosophically-opposed people together to follow their thoughts to their logical conclusions (note: they have a foundational opposition and are not simply oppositional on the surface or for plot purposes), I especially love writing about people whose minds work differently.

Hm, you know what; I think I just figured out what my problem is. I’m just a huge fucking nerd. A huge sapiosexual nerd.

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Cuil Levels: The Allison Dutch Series

As a reminder, Cuil Levels are from 1-7 and in ascending order for the amount of craziness/presence of surreality/ratio of queer to straight people. And Level 0 is downright bizarre and uncomfortable for everyone, including me.

The Cuil Level for the Allison Dutch series is: Level 4

I know that may seem odd, seeing as how there are vampires, witches, lycans, zombies, and aliens in this series. I’d like to refer you back to The Black Tree series, which you’ll see is Level 7, along with a hell of an explanation why. By comparison, the Allison Dutch series is fairly mild. Towards the end of the third book (The Legacy of Allison Dutch) you can see that something stranger, darker, and far-reaching is happening behind the scenes. There are even a couple of cameos from some of those poor souls from The Black Tree series (sexy, sexy cameos).

Even without the crossover and the hints of what’s to come (plus more inside jokes than you can wrap your head around), the Allison Dutch series actually details a lot of very real history and studies. It’s a combination of little-known facts and complete bullshit and I expect you to do your homework to figure out which is which. Along with these terrible history lessons and tongue-in-cheek references, there’s the alternate take on romance: namely the actual consequences of becoming deeply involved with someone(s) you just met and trying to form a relationship based on very little relevant information.

Half satire and half commentary, the Allison Dutch series walks the line between irreverence and thought-provoking experiences. Yes, it pokes fun at typical ideas of romance, literature, and even ideas of good and evil. But it also explores very real issues that often don’t get talked about such as incest, rape, abuse, suicidal ideation, and what a family really is. It’s the story of a young woman growing into more power than she can responsibly handle at first. She creates a new family made up of people just as broken as she is. She’s more of a villain than a good guy but she still manages to make very real progress towards being a whole person. The Allison Dutch series is a story about family, about becoming whole after surviving trauma, and about realizing that despite every good and noble effort your life can still totally suck.

That’s why the Allison Dutch series is smack dab in the middle of the Cuil scale. Because it really is half serious and half joking. A bastard hybrid, just like Queen Aeryn herself (Oh snap!). In all seriousness, you should check it out.

 

P.S. Oh, and before I forget: I’ve finished writing (yes, hand-writing) Mikassa’s Fall. Part One of The Black Tree Series Book 14, The Black Tree Second is complete. I have to get Part Two from my old home. I’m also nearly done typing up The Colds (starring Aniella Brewster), which will be published next year. It’s amazing how creatively productive one can be while in a stupid amount of pain. You’re fuckin’ welcome. No, but seriously, thank you for reading. I hope you enjoy. I’ll post as often as I can this month. And I’d like to ask you to send good vibes my way as I deal with my own monsters.

Science Shows Something Surprising About People Who Love to Write – Mic

Writing can literally heal you. So when I say writing saved my life, it’s not hyperbole. Yes, it’s crazy, yes it’s dark and twisted, yes it’s painful and beautiful and did I already mention crazy? But being able to tell any story that came to mind, being able to work out the kins of my life, being able to find my voice (even if others would/will hate it) was what kept me going. In fact, the more pain I’m in, the more I write. Take now for instance, where my body is exploding in pain all over for no goddamned reason. I have been banned from working (my boss is super duper awesome), insurance sucks (who knows when I can get to a knowledgeable doctor), and I can’t walk very far. So I’m doing what I’ve always done when things are particularly shitty: writing. Working on my books. Laughing and crying with my characters. I’m one of them and I get to grow right alongside them. So bring on the pain. I have my weapon!

Oh, uh, if you’d rather not see my ranting and all, here’s the article that mentions the very real physical and psychological benefits of writing.

Science Shows Something Surprising About People Who Love to Write – Mic.

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New Cuil Scene: Michón and Travis (Mark Blue Who)

And now, a peek at my vulnerability and the painful state of affairs six years ago:

 

Travis was playing his drum set. “You should leave,” I told him.

 

“No. I have to talk to you. Why do you let them treat you like that?” he demanded.

 

I sat against the wall and stared at the ceiling. “Why not?”

 

“There are plenty of reasons why not!”

 

“Yes, but none I really care about.”

 

He knelt in front of me. “I don’t know why you say that.”

 

“I just wasted six years of my life on this, this crap! My adolescence, my childhood completely stolen from me. And in literally the blink of an eye, my writing lost all meaning. I saw it for its true form and that scared me more than anything. Why does it matter what I let imaginary people do to me?” I put my head on my hands.

 

Want to see the rest? Pop on over to the Cuil Scenes page.

 

http://cuileffect.com/cuil-scenes/

Character and Song #39: Cassie

So, enough heaviness for now. Let me share with you the tragedies of my characters instead.

Meet Cassie. Poor Cassie. She can see the future. She has direct contact with several gods. She’s also really into history. Too bad she’s haunted by the spirit of the ancestor she’s named for. Too bad no one believes her when she tells them what’s coming. Too bad hell is coming to Earth and the god assigned to her is next to useless. If Athena is supposed to be the goddess of wisdom and war, then why does she suck so bad at saving people? Help Cassie figure it all out (or simply just laugh at her misfortune) in Cassie, the series. Um, which won’t be out for a while…

Anyway, her song is Nobody’s Listening by Linkin Park. That aptly sums up her situation.

The Illusion of Health and Other Things

These past few weeks have been so exhausting. Not because I was working hard (though I have been), not because I’m still in mourning (which I am), and not because I desperately miss my family and friends (which I do). No, the reason is much more insidious than that. My body is giving me hell right now. I am utterly exhausted, ravenously hunger, and in agonizing pain every day. Thankfully, the pain medicine keeps it down to a level where at least my brain can sort-of-kind-of function.

Another oddly beneficial occurrence is my burst of creativity. These times where I am limited physically, mentally, and emotionally have often led to wonderfully creative bouts in which I complete my stories. It’s always fantastic. Though, this price has become far too high. I’ll be visiting the doctor soon to discuss my surgical options. I just can’t live like this any longer. I’ve discussed it with my characters and we’ve come to an understanding.

One of the things I’ve really been thinking about recently is my view of myself. Plenty of people think I’m younger than I am (which I’ll eventually be glad about, I suppose). They assume I’m the epitome of health. They rarely accept the possibility that my past could be as dark as it is, that I could have experienced so much more than they realize, and that health is an illusion for me in all its forms. Yeah, I know better. I know who I really am and what I’ve gone through.

There may have been a day…wait, no. From the very beginning of my life, I was unhealthy. My mother was stressed during her pregnancy with me. I was born two weeks late. I had a period as a baby (not a real period-I just bled because of an overload of hormones received from her). My skin is uber sensitive; I can’t wear most perfumes, I break out if I wear cheap jewelry (which is a nice way to tell if it’s genuine, at least), and winter brings about annoying outbreaks of excema. I have allergies out the wazoo when near anything with fur, leaves, and dust (but thankfully I can still devour some shellfish like there’s no tomorrow). My eyesight sucks ass. I have sensitive teeth and my mouth isn’t big enough for my tongue (there are permanent marks in the side of my tongue from my teeth). And you all know of my PCOS and endometriosis (kind of the whole damn reason I need surgery in the first place, in case you missed it).

The first time I was molested and abused, I was very young. Then it just kept happening and never seemed to stop. I haven’t managed one 365-day period without a repeat incident. Literally, not a single year until this one! That’s pretty fucked up. I still deal with anxiety. It used to be much worse but I guess practice makes perfect; I’m able to work through it fairly quickly now. I spent many years in a deep depression-to the point where I attempted suicide-both due to my life circumstances and the effects of my random-ass hormone levels (thanks, PCOS!).

With all of that shit, how could I ever possibly be considered healthy? For me, the entire notion of health is alien. What can it possibly mean to me to be free of any ailments, to not have a past that can’t be shared in polite company, to have nothing to worry about? No, I was not and never will be healthy. But I’ll tell you what I am and can be.

I am whole and not broken. I am strong and not defeated. I am full of love and life and curiosity. I am full of possibilities and wonder and splendor. I am queer and intelligent and perceptive. I am empathetic and compassionate and understanding. I know the difference between my pain and my personality. I am improving every day, learning and growing and sharing. I am full of hope, hope! I had never hoped for anything before. I’m not religious and I find no need for a god, but I am spiritual and I do believe in the energy and intent of everything in this universe. I am a survivor, a warrior, a conqueror.

I can be whatever I want to be. I can finally be fully myself instead of being buried under the pain or hiding behind my fear. I can be the person I always wished would save me, would love me, would care for me. I can be the best of myself. I can turn on the light.

I may write sporadically in the coming weeks, just due to everything with my health being settled. But rest assured, I’ll be back with my irreverent humor, sexy stories, and shameless plugs soon enough. I’ll be resting (as my boss ordered me to do) but I won’t be gone.

And for those who need some inspiration, do you remember me posting about Angie’s documentary? Well, it’s been released. You can see it here:

Thorntree Press on Indiegogo

For mostly selfish reasons, I do hope they accept fiction soon as well as non-fiction, but I’m excited that they are starting out. I think they have the right idea for approaching a niche market. I love the emphasis on evidence and rationality. In my stories, I strive to show the good, the bad, and the ugly about all kinds of people, choices, and ways of living. True, it’s usually set up with a super-crazy backdrop, but that’s neither here nor there.

Anyway, more about this new company:

Thorntree Press is a new, independent publishing company based in Portland, Oregon. We specialize in non-fiction books on relationships, love and sexuality, with particular focus on non-traditional relationship models. We’re also focused on rational, evidence-based approaches to sex and relationships, as well as sharing real-life stories. Our first book, More Than Two: A Practical Guide to Ethical Polyamorywas published on September 2, 2014, after a successful Indiegogo campaign in the fall of 2013.

We’re asking for your support funding the three books we have on the slate for 2015: two memoirs and an anthology, all by three well-known, highly regarded and previously published authors on polyamory.

Creator-Friendly.

Thorntree Press supports its authors with personal attention to detail and hands-on dedicated niche marketing, in addition to the high-quality editing and design standards expected from larger publishing houses.

We want to publish great books – without being assholes. That means we make our contracts as creator-friendly as possible. We don’t take any rights we don’t need to, and we only take those for a few years. Plus, by funding production costs up-front with crowdfunding, we’re able to give much higher royalties than the bigger publishers – as well as creating advance buzz for sales.

If you feel like it, if you’re interested in another way to love, or if you just really like Kimchi Cuddles please donate using the link below.

http://igg.me/at/thorntree2015/x/5622909

Aromantic Love… A Gradual Loving Feeling : Multiple Match – Ethical Non-Monogamy, Sex, Love & Relationships

My post on aromantic love is up! If you have no idea what that is why don’t you take a look. I promise I won’t bite. Much.

http://www.multiplematch.com/2014/11/aromantic-love-a-gradual-loving-feeling/

Speaking of Journeys…

Over 4000 miles. 39 days. Mountain ranges. Brutal weather. One bike.

I recently discovered a new fount of inspiration. You see, when life really, really sucks you have to find something even better to balance it out. You can never settle for just okay. You have to find the extraordinary, you must learn to create the beauty that life seemed to deny you, you have to be amazed that you even exist or you will get sucked under and disappear. I have a huge appetite, one as big as Queen Aeryn herself.

I love knowledge; I’m addicted to learning. I think I’m also addicted to the fight. When one has spent so much time fighting, struggling, and generally being in all sorts of unbelievable pain you get used to that being the default. My partner often scolds me for never relaxing. “You are the most uncomfortable person I’ve ever met!” he often tells me in loving exasperation. I feel like I can never stop, as if I will never be comfortable, as if I will never be satisfied. To be comfortable is to grow complacent, it’s to stop being aware, it’s to slowly atrophy. I had to adapt to survive and I know no other way.

You’ll probably be able to see this in the way I write my stories. I write as if I am dying. In a way, I feel like I am. I’ve seen so much death, pain, and agony. I know time is not promised. And so I write as if I will die tomorrow-leaving out the fluff and getting into the meat and matter of things. I appreciate other minds which do the same. I’ve always been drawn to those who dared, those who challenged, those who conquered the pain and the struggle to create beauty and joy.

What does any of this have to do with a 4000-mile bike ride done in all kinds of weather in only 39 days’ time? Well, it’s my latest source of inspiration. In the form of a female Malaysian triathlete, a warrior comes to life and endures what most people would believe to be an impossible task. Her name is Angie, and she’s simply amazing. She documented her time riding across the US, her talks with people about their struggles and dreams, and the times she felt like giving up. She rode over 100 miles each and every day. And the best thing is, she did this all with a smile on her face.

She has such a big spirit. She gathered together stories from people all over the country to share with everyone. The ride is not just a ride. It is life itself. We all have struggles, hopes, and dreams. To hold them up in the light more often would help all of us, I think. I can’t wait to see the documentary. For now, all I have is her wonderful blog and this trailer to get me through.

I may only walk instead of ride (at least until I get my rollerblades back and pick up some parkour skills after my surgery) but I definitely understand pushing through the pain and still managing smile, to love the world, and to remain open to the possibilities. So, thank you, Angie, for sharing your journey.