#WattpadBooksAreRealBooksToo

#WattpadBooksAreRealBooksToo started with a misplaced and insulting internet comment, as many hashtag movements do these days. If you didn’t know, my co-author and I write a science fiction series on the free to read site. It’s a video game inspired novel called Bone Diggers. Since I have one foot in the publishing world, and another in the Wattpad camp I feel like I’m qualified to weigh in on the subject. But, I’m not here to talk about Bone Diggers today, at least not directly.

There are obviously many differences between the two paths, just like how a serialized newspaper story in the old days was different than a novel. But these differences don’t matter. Writers put in as much heart and soul into their Wattpad stories as any other writer does. All writing is an act of creation, and that creation has value no matter where you end up posting it.

I’m thrilled to announce that Bone Diggers has recently been handpicked to be featured on the site, but that doesn’t mean it was any less real before this. Just like how a any well written novel that isn’t widely known isn’t less meaningful. Wattpad specifically has given me countless things that my publishing deal can’t. It’s a trial run in ways, and very real in many others.

Last year, I posted a chapter of Bone Diggers every single week. It wasn’t as spotless or query tested as Hello World which is going to be published with Pandamoon, but I was given something I never thought. Each week I felt progress, I felt that I was building to something great. Bad weeks had a beacon of hope at the end of them thanks to Wattpad.

We all quickly learn that the traditional route is slow. It can take years to get a book deal, and while Wattpad books might not be traditional, they have as much hope and longing from the writer to share and connect with people as any other piece does. Wattpad books are as real as the writers creating them, and can sometimes give a momentum like nothing else can.

What do you think? Does the platform where something is posted dictate value, or does writing always speak for itself no matter where it is found? And remember you can check out all of Bone Diggers over on Wattpad!

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Dragon Age, Glowing Hands, and Disabilities

There is a new genre called empathy games. These games have the goal of making you empathize with the main character to show a point. Generally that you aren’t the one in power, but to some small degree I believe all games are empathy games.

I think a lot about representation in fiction, and lately about the representation of disabilities, everything from ‘my knee gives me a lot of trouble’ to those who rock a wheelchair. (I’ve been thinking a lot of legs specifically because mine have been hurting a lot. But, stay tuned maybe I’ll talk about a abdominal pain like I’m a Super Bowl ad.)

I’ve been fairly impressed when it comes to TV characters who have leg troubles. On TV now, there’s Raven from The 100 and Felicity from Arrow. As fantastic as they both are I started to wonder if there was a medium that could showcase the constant struggles better. And after a really tough and unusual boss battle I realized video games are perfect for this narrative.

No other medium makes you face the struggle. Books, TV, and movies are setup so we are empathizing with someone else. But with video games you are living it. Also little needs to be done to make these Triple A titles show disabled characters of all ranges.

Yesterday’s game of choice was Dragon Age: Inquisition so I’ll loosely use it to explain what I mean then you can apply it to your own beloved game.

This whole train of thought started because Dragon Age doesn’t have cure anymore. I’m usually the type of player who likes having a full health bar in order to kick ass, but now that’s practically impossible. After playing for a while I noticed how I played was different. I didn’t get nervous if it wasn’t full, I’d even take fall damage to save me some time. I started to live with that fact that health isn’t going to be perfect. And as someone who now has a chronic illness riding shotgun that’s a pretty good metaphor. You have to live with your “health bar” not being at 100% most of the time. In video games saving the world with very little health left is almost common place.

The game now has barrier instead of heal. Barrier gives you an extra bar that lasts a certain time and protects your real HP. Now it isn’t an exact comparison but imagine this was your self care. Even if you’re a squishy mage or have low health it doesn’t matter as long as you protect yourself in other ways.

Health is less important than it’s ever been before in other Dragon Age games. Your character is undeniably disabled, but no doubts arise because of this from the other characters. You are still their leader.

In Dragon Age you are given a party of four. In the real world asking for help can be tricky, but the game encourages you to have the help of others. You could play solo, but parties are actively rewarded.

And in video games in general, starting all the way back with Doom, you learn to keep fighting even with a busted up and bleeding face. If you or the NPCs get knocked out they get up for the next battle. All really important life lessons.

Yesterday, I had three mages and a rogue face a boss that had 39 times more health than my whole party combined. It was horrid planning on my part, but the party made me happy and now we were stuck. I had to shake things up and literally bring the fire. By taking my time and breaking the problem into smaller bits I was able to win.

So even if your real life “health bar” isn’t what others have, you just need to plan and take your time in order to knock down really any beast in the world. In Dragon Age Inquisition that sometimes means the boss and sometimes means the day because your glowing hand is acting up. I’d love to see games actually incorporate their graphic interfaces to show disabilities in a real way because no other platform can show it like they can.

Love and Sex in Literature

A guest post by amazing Cait Spivey

I learned sexual desire from books and film.

At least, what it looked like. What it sounded like. How it is discussed. With that accumulated evidence, I got very good at acting out “desire,” even though it was at best boring and at worst, deeply uncomfortable.

When I came out, there was a lot of, “But you seemed interested in sex before!” As always, it’s difficult to explain, to those who don’t feel displaced by it, the pressure of constant messaging that seems to declare this is how normal people are, you are messed up, something is wrong with you. I learned and demonstrated sexual desire because I thought I had to, because it was expected, because it was bad enough that I kept falling in love with girls but at least I knew what that was.

I learned desire from books; I never learned that desire isn’t mandatory.

This is something I want to rectify in my books. In From Under the Mountain, it must be said, there’s not explicit representation—I was limited by both the setting (in which our modern terminology feels jarring) and by the pace and focus of the story. Only Eva and Guerline have time for a romantic relationship, and not much of it at that. But you can take me at my word when I say that canonically, Theodor Warren is panromantic asexual, and Aradia Kavanagh is aromantic asexual, and Guerline herself is a demisexual lesbian (something that gets explored more in the sequel).

[As an aside: last week, I tweeted a bit about how I love writing large casts, and I encourage readers to explore for themselves and fill in things I don’t put on the page. Some secondary and tertiary characters have canon attached to them that I may never get to share—for many, I haven’t had a chance yet to fully explore their lives. So many stories live in this world, and if you know them, by all means tell them.]

In most of the media I’ve consumed, sex scenes just seem like set dressing. Perhaps this is the point where my ability to empathize with allosexual people ends, but I’ve never seen a sex scene that feels powerful or necessary to the story, because sweaty bodies getting fluids on each other isn’t meaningful to me. It seems to me that what’s meaningful is all the emotions leading up to and following that—affection, vulnerability, passion—and one doesn’t need to bump uglies to get the most out of that cocktail. And even if that’s something one wants in real life, it’s not going to aid the storytelling (unless, as in certain genres, that’s the kind of story being told).

“But Cait,” you say, “You included a sex scene in From Under the Mountain!” Yes I did. But I’m the first to say it’s not necessary. I wrote it in because there was some hang time in the narrative, and I wanted to give Eva and Guerline their moment. And, as an asexual woman married to a sexual spouse, it was more than a little vicarious—what must it feel like from the other side? Surely it’s transcendent—surely it’s not just a sometimes pleasant sensation, akin to curling up in front of a fireplace? I’ll have to rely on others to confirm the level of my success.

It’s honestly funny to me how resistant some can be to writing asexual characters or, in fandom, theorizing that a character could be asexual. I get that desire must be powerful to those who experience it; I can understand that many view sex as some kind of Important Rite without which love is just really intense friendship, or something. I mean, they’re wrong about that last part, but I understand how they came to that conclusion.

But in these stories, the sex isn’t what makes us love these characters—right? It’s the characters themselves, and the relationships between characters that draw us in. Romantic relationships, friendships, family bonds. Sexual desire, contrary to popular belief, is not inherent to romantic love, and romantic love is not the only compelling kind of relationship.

There are many, many books, films, shows, out there that present love without sex, but the sex is always assumed—by fans, by creators, by a society that presupposes the universal importance of desire. My question is, why? Kisses, sex, they’re actions that, like all our actions, have only as much weight as our emotions give them. I’m as happy as anyone when my favorite ship finally kisses for the first time, but the kiss isn’t the only thing that can make me happy. I want Dean to kiss Cas because I know Dean is a sexual person, but I felt the same giddy rush when he said I need you.

I struggled to find a way to end this post, because one should at least try to put forth a solution when bringing up a problem. The problem is that the heavy focus on sexual desire in relationships erases a lot of people. It makes us doubt ourselves, it makes us submit ourselves to what is expected, it threatens us with these expectations.

How, then, to solve this?

I’ve decided to start a new feature on my blog called A+ Ships, to highlight ace characters and their relationships, gush over the connections and the moments that fuel them. With any luck, this will give us a space to celebrate our identities, and spread the word about how awesome we are.

Happy Book-Day to From Under The Mountain

Oh boy, do I have a lot to tell you. I think this tweet sums it up however.

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That’s right,  I started a book club. Do I know how to run a book club? Who knows.  I mean yes! Over 300 people have offically signed up and I send out what feels like 100 review copies. ‘Well, that’s nice, but what is Ace Book Club,” someone asks.

It’s a club where books we read either have an asexual spectrum author or have canon asexual characters within them. (Sometimes both) We will focus mostly on new-ish releases and indie authors. You don’t have to be ace yourself to read or join. If you’d like to join the club is everywhere: Tumblr | Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook

FUTM Cover

I picked From Under The Mountain because it came out on my birthday! That seemed like a pretty serendipitous way to kick off the book club! Plus I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know the author both a bit personally and professionally so I’m excited to collectively check out this book with you.

Cait Spivey is a speculative fiction writer, author of high fantasy From Under the Mountain and the horror novella series, “The Web“. Her enduring love of fantasy started young, thanks to authors like Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, Diane Duane, Tamora Pierce, and many more. Now, she explores the rules and ramifications of magic in her own works—and as a panromantic asexual, she’s committed to queering her favorite genres.

Darkly cinematic, From Under the Mountain pairs the sweeping landscape of epic fantasy with the personal journey of finding one’s voice in the world, posing the question: how do you define evil, when everything society tells you is a lie?

Where To Grab a Copy: Amazon | Reuts Publications | Goodreads

 

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!