Remember to Breathe.

(Actual representation of me last week.)

I’ve reached the stage of NaNo where I hate words. I’m convinced I could happily burn my WIP. And I’m definitely questioning my sanity.

I’m tired.

In 2017, I wrote approximately 140k across several short stories and three novels.

This year, I’ve written a 90k novella trilogy, a 52k novel, and I’m on track to wrapping up another 65k – 70k novel. Plus a handful of flash fictions. So if all goes well, I’ll end 2018 having written over 200k words in total.

For me? That’s a lot.

In all honesty, this year, it was too much. I didn’t allow myself enough time to rest.  I didn’t set enough boundaries around my time.

Being a pantser (and not much of a plotter), my brain works best with breaks. I don’t really know where my ideas come from. I tend to just…sit and write, whatever comes out–comes out. Burning myself can be worse than writer’s block. More like writer’s too fucking tired to remember what words are.

I’ve promised myself to do better next year by taking breaks between my projects next year.

In part, my drive to do more and more comes from being autistic. I’ve an inner need to do and be more because of a less than healthy desire to make up for other areas where I can’t quite do what others do. (It’s hard to explain if you don’t experience it.)

On my list for December?

Relax, read through my massive TBR list, watch my favourite holidays movies, and wrap up this fun Urban Fantasy.

I’m not kicking myself if I don’t quite hit the NaNo deadline.

Writing should be fun, and if I add too much stress, I’m not doing myself any favours.

 

Nope, No, Never.

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Everyone has advice on how to manage your social media. Everyone. People sell books, hundreds (just do a check on Amazon.) And like tips on writing, tips on book selling/promoting can often be contradictory. And, I’m grumpy enough to usually avoid jumping on the bandwagon.

One: I hear quite frequently is that you should always link all your social media accounts, mainly FB, Twitter, and Instagram, for crossposting.

Here’s why I disregard that:

  1. Linking accounts creates a nightmare if you are ever hacked.
  2. 50% of the time the hyperlinks created via crossposting wind up not functioning correctly.
  3. Each social media platform has a distinct vibe. Things I post on FB don’t necessarily reach a Twitter audience.

Having said all of that, I will occasionally copy/paste posts between FB and Twitter, but very rarely.

Two:  People often recommend an app that auto-shares a post to all your FB groups.

I’m not a fan, personally. I prefer having control over what posts where.  You also run the risk of promoting in a non-promo group or promoting the wrong book. For example, promoting a non-paranormal novel in a paranormal group.

Three (or maybe Two B): Another App is an Auto-Retweeting on Twitter one.

Here’s why I think that can have disastrous consequences. You’re surrendering control of what winds up posted on your account. What happens if you wind up retweeting a post about someone’s personal grief over the death of a loved one?  Or, retweeting one you actually disagree with?

Also, I’m a control freak.

I want to know what I’m sharing.

Four: Don’t be too personal. (Or transversally, always be yourself.) I’ve heard marketing/promoting experts offer both schools of thought.

I firmly believe, for better or worse, you should always be yourself.

Readers will be drawn to who you are. And if they aren’t, they probably won’t enjoy your book. Books are an extension of ourselves in many ways.

Last but not least, Five: Creating Teasers.

Granted, creating teaser images doesn’t quite fall into the same category as all the others. It’s an important one. If you’re going to use images to promote your book, be sure you have the right/permission to do so.

Seriously.

It can save you a world of hurt if you get sued.

Also, it’s disrespectful to the photographer if you’re using their work without permission.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s Talk About Sex.

“Why do you write gay romance?”

Author interviews always seem to include that question for me. And my answer is probably never entirely satisfactory, mostly because I don’t have the answer. There was no epiphany or grand moment. No critical thought process that I’ve heard other MM Romance authors give.

Gender and sexuality have always been a bizarre concept to me. It’s an autistic thing. I feel a bit detached on the idea of both. So, for me, romance is romance is romance.

While I am a woman and I identify as one, gender is one of those concepts I’ve always been quite detached from. I’ve spoken with other autistics who also find the male/female thing confusing. It’s a hard feeling to accurately describe.

It doesn’t affect my writing–and yet it does.

And by that I mean, when I write my brain doesn’t get caught up on gender differences necessarily in the same ways I see from allistic others. I do, however, seem to get into a rhythm of writing something in particular and struggle to shift into a different area. So, after starting with After the Scrum, my flow has continued with M/M, though all things considered my novels tend to include a diverse group of relationships amongst the cast of characters in the stories.

Sexuality or sexual orientation is equally different in my head from how I hear a lot of allistic authors talking about with their writing.

Sex scenes whether m/m, m/f, mmf, or mmm are the hardest bits of writing for me.

Another part, as a panster, I never genuinely set out to do one or the other or a variation. The story just spontaneously shows up from wherever my muse lives in my brain. I barely manage to plot out…the plot.

(The annoying part that I have zero control over. Fucking muse lol.)

I swear I had a point when I started this blog post, but I’ve gotten distracted.

I genuinely considered deleting this and starting over, but other autistic romance authors might appreciate and relate to seeing my struggles.

 

 

The Pen is Mightier than the Sword.

 

I thought I’d share a bit about how I write–or more specifically, what I write with.

While I do write at my computer a lot, I tend to use paper and pen quite frequently. There’s nothing like the feel of using a pen and paper. It’s almost magical.

But, I’m quite particular about my pens. Like, particular.

  • They can’t be too thin, or they hurt my fingers.
  • They can’t make any weird scratchy noise when I write them.
  • I won’t use a pen that skips with ink. It needs to flow smoothly across the paper.
  • The ink can’t smell weird.

The photo above shows my favourite pens for writing plus an honourable mention or two. The black and silver Dr. Grip is my favourite and also the oldest. I’ve had it for probably fifteen years or so. It’s comfortable, writes smoothly, and I love it. The red one to the right is also Dr. Grip; it’s a multi-pen that I adore as well. It’s from Japan, so I had to get it sent to me.

The other three pens in the group are also Japanese. Two Coleto multi-pens and a duo pen from Platinum (I think that’s the brand.) The Coleto I actually got from Tokyo Pen Shop. I love both Coletos but find the one on farthest to the right to be easier on my fingers.

My Snoopy Coleto and the light blue pen are a little too thin to use for extended writing. I use them in my planner & bullet journal instead. Also, neither of them have the rubber grip. I know you can buy grips to add to pens–but those annoy me.

How about you?

If you’re a writer, do you hand write at all? Or prefer to use a computer?

 

 

 

Puff loves GubGub.

One thing that stood out to me at the RT Convention last year was the number of authors who talked about how their significant others weren’t supportive. Their husbands (or wives or whatever) treated their writing as a hobby. At best, it seemed completely dismissive to me.

It made me appreciate my husband even more. He’s always encouraged me to follow any path or dream I had even the one time I thought I could become a soap mogul. Don’t ask. It didn’t end well. =)

He always takes my copies of my paperbacks and shrink wraps them to make sure they don’t get damaged. He’s so cute. He plans to have a special bookshelf just for my books.

And I think my heart grew three sizes. lol

It’s the little things that always remind me how much I love and appreciate my husband.

Like how he leaves love letters in random spots in my notebooks…address to Puff from GubGub. (Don’t ask.)

We do romance in our own way, but it’s remarkable and special because of it.

 

How to Create Authentic Autistic Characters with 10 Questions.

As part of my How to Write Autistics series, I thought I’d share a list of questions that can help create an authentic character who doesn’t feel like a stereotype.

And I should point out these are just question that occurred to me. As with anything, other autistics might have their own thoughts. But here we go.

Ten Questions to ask your autistic characters (some might apply just generally to neurally diverse characters):

1. Were they diagnosed late in life or early?

It can affect how they develop coping skills.

2. Are they self-diagnosed?

3. Do they suffer from hypersensitivity? Are they overly sensitive to light, sounds, textures?

For example, I can’t stand the sensation of most fabrics touching my fingertips. It makes drying off with a towel or folding laundry particularly frustrating. I often have to repeatedly dip my hands in water or lotion my fingers to deal with it.

4. What are their special interests?

I hate the term special interest…but obsession sounds equally wrong. Most autistics I know have specific topics or things that qualify as their special interest. Some of us have lifelong ones while others are temporary. Some of my special interests include Bioware Video Games, TV Shows (As Time Goes By  and others), and Football (as in soccer.)

5. How do they stim? Also, how do they feel about their stim? How do those around them react to their stim?

6. What coping mechanisms do they use for dealing with social stresses?

7. How do they deal with meltdowns and/or shutdowns?

8. Are their family supportive of them finding independence as an adult?

9. How do they deal with eye contact?

10. Do they live atypically? In other words, do they try to blend in and mask their neural divergence?

I’m sure there are a ton of other questions.

There’s a brilliant Youtube channel that can be an amazing resource for you (there are others, but this is one of my favourites):

https://www.youtube.com/user/neurowonderful

 

How to write autistics and not rely on tired stereotypes.

Despite mainstream media and their mostly dismal attempts at creating autistics. It’s rare to see examples of autistic characters who feel ‘real.’ We’re not all rain man or white, young, male savants.

We’re real people who are just as diverse as every other subset of humanity.

Many autistics like myself will tell you if you’ve met one autistic–you’ve met one autistic.

When creating neuroAtypical characters, I try to be cognizant of creating individuals, and not carbon copies of either myself or some stereotype I think non-autistics will easily recognise. I will admit many of my own experiences find their way into my stories. How could they not?

In fact, one of my favourite parts of writing my most recent release, The Lion Tamer, was including Alex and Alice. Autistic twins. They’re on different parts of the autism spectrum with their own special interests and struggles.

Neither of them is some off the charts genius.

They’re just autistic.

No massively high IQ required to be legitimate human beings who deserve to be celebrated.

So, here are a few tips on creating autistic characters, or what are some of the pieces/parts to doing so. (And please keep in mind, this is from my personal perspective.)

  1. Talk to #actuallyautistic people, not just autism parents before you start.
  2. Avoid AutismSpeaks.
  3. Stimming. Your autistic character should have a stim. We stim.
  4. Special Interests. I could write an entire post about this.  We have them. Obsess over them. Use them to calm ourselves from super stressful moments.
  5. Emotions are something many autistics struggle with. We can feel quite intensely, but we don’t often understand what we’re feeling. I’ve spent days trying to decipher an emotion before.
  6. Sensation. Many autistics suffer from hypersensitivity. I, for example, struggle with touching certain fabrics. Light affects me. Certain sounds can trigger me into a meltdown.

Just a few thoughts.

Not sure if any of it is helpful.

I might turn this into a series of posts about being autistic/writing autistic characters.

Do you include neuroAtpyical characters in your stories? Do you have characters who have anxiety, or PTSD, or are autistic? Or some other mental disability or illness?