Bone Diggers Cover Reveal

As you may know, Bone Diggers will have a paperback and ebook edition and I’m so excited to show you the revamped print cover. But first the blurb!

When everyone IRL lies, the only person you can trust is an NPC.

Dirty little secrets can’t be hidden behind player avatars, because Bone Diggers like Owen expose the lives behind the code. When his two worlds blur, he must decide which is more important: his freedom, or the game. The right choices will be rewarded with fame, fortune, and adventure. A wrong call can cost him both lives. But playing the game is what Owen does, and he’s good at it…as long as his real-life adventures don’t prove more perilous than his digital swordfights. In the real world, there is no walkthrough.

Ready?

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If that doesn’t scream that bi video gamer aesthetic, I dunno what will. I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts since I had this gem hidden for a really long time. 💖💜💙

You can now also add it to GoodReads! 

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The Eighth Rank Cover Reveal

I love Wattpad’s the blend of community, writing, and self-determination that happens when you post a chapter every week, and I’m so excited to a new series. The Eighth Rank is a fairytale retelling that mixes stories along the lines of Once Upon A Time and The Tenth Kingdom.

More About The Eighth Rank:

When the Queen of Hearts goes missing, Red must stop the Big Bad Wolf from seizing the crown. In this land, magic has a price, one that Red has already paid by losing her memories. While the royals are focused on their own bittersweet dramas, Red finds a strange freedom in not knowing all the classic stories by heart.

She weaves together fractured memories and glimmering spells in hopes that an old treaty can bring peace, but learns the real danger might lie with The Riders, a rebel group willing to kill to protect their own.

Now that you know the details, I hope you are ready for the cover reveal!


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The design is more symbolic than my usual covers, but I think it really takes a snapshot of the story’s heart.  If you are ready to visit this magical world the prologue is up on Wattpad now, and new chapters will be posted weekly at 2 PM PST!

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!

Unburied Fables Releases Next Week!

Over the last week, two people commented on the title of Unburied Fables. Said that these stories are often left buried, or on the importance of having representation unearthed. I’m glad that some people have picked up on the meaning below the surface. Because this project has turned into something really personal. Or as personal a project with fifteen different collaborators can be.

I remember first talking about it, I was sitting on the floor upstairs in my underused office. It was after Pulse, which broke my heart in a way that I hadn’t expected. It was after this hard year where every activist I know is just bone tired.

And I thought that we could all use a little good in our life.
And I thought about stories with happy endings.

And I thought about how I wanted to help create them.

I feel like it’s safe to assume that 2016 isn’t going like anyone expected. But my hope was, if I could dig something of the dirt that it wouldn’t all be a waste. It wouldn’t all be pain and waiting for things to get better.

So I made the decision, had some people help me put the very first things together and asked. Just asked, would anyone else be willing to help me for the sake of community and charity. Would anyone else be willing to help me subvert the bury your gays trope and give our effort, if we had nothing else to give, to The Trevor Project.

And people did.

The collection has some of my friends. Like Rachel Sharp who stepped up and saved this project. But it had so many people I didn’t know at the start. Which was its own kind of magic.

I’ve said a couple of times that our communities often fight with each other and how it tears me apart to see it. But the Unburied Fables collection shows that despite all of that, we can create something good for ourselves, and for each other.

Despite the words already written, I’m near speechless that this book now exists. It seems almost unreal that the ebook is available for pre-order right now. It seems almost unreal after a month of the airwaves jammed with pain, hell after ten of them, that on October 25th the paperback will be out. That it will be a tangible thing that you can hold. That in some way or form these stories will last forever now, like yours.

What A Joke

I’m going to talk about strong writing today, but first, I have a joke for you. So a white comedian walks into a bar. He steps on the stage and says: Racism! The racists and white allys™ laugh, no one else does. In the news that night, the white comedian is applauded for his progressiveness.

I first heard of this idea when watching a documentary. I forget what it was, but it stated that if a comedian tells a racist joke that everyone in the audience laughs. Those who aren’t racist, understand the context and that it was “just a joke”. But the racist in the room hears everyone is laughing and believes everyone thinks the same as them. And why not? Everyone is having fun right now. Right??

A lesson from my favorite editor is that words have a weight on the page. I don’t mean socially, I mean for readability. If you can say something in fewer words and still convey your meaning you’ve done your job. You actually don’t need much more advice because that one suggestion covers a lot of it.

Which brings me to my point today. To have strong and diverse writing you can’t just say haha racism! And leave it as that, because the people experiencing it don’t find it funny. Nor do LGBT+ people when they are included, but killed off or made the joke. Nor do rape victims when they have to explain to you why something is bad, because haha rape sucks, obviously? Oh, that didn’t come off on screen that way? Oh well, there’s no more time! 

Mirroring a trope is not changing the trope. It is not calling out the trope. And we as writers, cannot assume we are better or greater than every writer who has done it before. If you are going to have homophobia, or racism, or sexism, etc in your narrative you need to not only spend the time and words on that, but also the time to draw a huge circle around it with shining lights that flash bad, bad, bad.

I see so many TV shows lately getting applauded, and congratulated for “facilitating the discussion” when in reality the show didn’t do anything. These “discussions” have been happening for centuries. And while I can’t stop TV studios from doing these things, I can tell you that strong writing comes from the puzzle you assembled. Not the pieces laid out so your readers can collectively put together.

Nor as consumers, should we agree that they are doing anything remarkable either. That’s a lie we tell ourselves to make enjoying something that would otherwise hurt our conscience.

And as writers, let’s do this soon, because the people hurting the most aren’t laughing.

Announcing Tastes Like Ash

 

 

 

 

 

Guess what I did? I did the thing!

Today I am officially announcing Tastes Like Ash

If there is one thing I seem to enjoy doing, it’s mixing things. Last time, it was video game culture in a novel format. This time we are going on a food blog adventure run by a vampire. First, I’ll give ya the blurb, then below we can check out the cover reveal! It’s a busy day and I hope you are as excited as I am!

About Tastes Like Ash: 

Two teachers, a vampire and a witch, start a food blog…

To be fair, it’s a bit more complicated than that. Terrence Rogers is a vampire stuck in the house all day, hungry, and killing nothing but time. This leads him to the obvious choice, starting a blog about food, history, and life with his fellow teacher and roommate. Written in the style of blog posts, follow along for actual recipes and other paranormal happenings.

And by follow along, I mean prepare for the most interactive story from me to date. Everything will be written from the character’s point of view. The tweets will come from the characters, so will the tumblr posts, and if you are a wattpad user I got you covered, or if you are a more traditional blogger you can sign up here.

Ready for the cover reveal?

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Tastes Like AshBeautiful, aye?

Now hop over to the blog and learn more about this food loving vampire because this story starts next Friday!

 

The Future of Bone Diggers

I promised a surprise today, and here it is, a trailer featuring the song Why We Lose! (Which seriously has to be one of my favorite playlist songs) Instead of having a traditional trailer I decided that featuring the comment section would be more fitting way to wrap up the year. That way you can see the literal ways people help make Bone Diggers year– I mean 2015 so special. It also features brand new fnVR graphics to help blend the fiction with reality. Because if Bone Diggers was about one thing it would be that duality.

“Bone Diggers has queer characters that are defined by much more than their sexual preference, character driven story, passionate rage-based violence, and religious imagery. I’m always a slut for this right here.” – John Lopez

I can’t thank the people above enough for taking a moment to comment. Or the people who tweeted me about Bone Diggers, or even the silent readers who just added to the page count. 2015 was a great year because of Bone Diggers and you.

 And for the future~

For those who haven’t read Bone Diggers yet: The story will be staying on Wattpad and you can now read it all without wait! Cliffhangers are no longer a match for you! The story will be getting plenty polish over this year and I hope to have it published in ebook and paperback in 2017. That’s quite a long time from now, but it gives you plenty of ways to join in!

For those who have read Bone Diggers:  We also have something special for you! Instead of weekly new chapters we are going to have DLC chapters posted every first Friday! These chapters might be alternative chapters, ‘deleted scenes’ or AUs where we can play around with everyone in a different setting or game type. First Fridays here are a community gathering and we hope you enjoy these extra one-off chapters to get extra kisses and other fun in.

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!

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