Once Upon an Indie.

Indie, Hybrid, Traditional.

Sounds more like different types of cars, not authors.

After I finished writing my first full novel, Ivy (a paranormal romance) in 2013, I had no idea what to do next. Submit it to agents? Try to publish it myself? Look for one of the many small publishing companies out there? It was overwhelming.

REALLY overwhelming.

I’d heard a lot of nightmare stories from indie authors about how they’d been royally screwed over by editors, cover artists, publishers, agents.  On the flipside, I’d also heard amazing stories about brilliant companies to work with.

It was hard to know what the right route for me was.

Traditional publishing ended up not being for me. It didn’t feel right. I was already so far outside of my comfort zone with trying to get publishing, I decided not to make it harder on myself.

And to me, that’s the most important part of the journey.

Find what works for you.

It’s your writing path–no one else’s.

As a general rule, I don’t believe in giving author advice. Advice on writing is always best taking with a grain of salt because everyone has their opinions.

And those opinions will quite frequently conflict with another author’s advice.

There are two things I think every indie/hybrid author should know: 1. professional covers are essential. 2. research your editor before hiring them.

I’ve heard so many nightmare stories about authors getting taken by disreputable editors when a little bit of research could’ve saved them a lot of hassle and money. Ask around. Talk to other authors whose work is well edited.

When I started looking around for an editor, I looked at a couple different companies before discovering someone I already knew had started an editing company–Hot Tree Editing. They were brilliant. Worked with me…and were understanding when I didn’t always get things and had questions. (Fun #actuallyautistic fact: I struggle with instructions A LOT.)

It was a no-brainer for me to submit After the Scrum when Becky decided to start Hot Tree Publishing to them. I trusted Hot Tree. And…dealing with everything as an indie was so stressful. Traditional publishing didn’t feel like my path, but the more hybrid route fit me perfectly, mostly because of the incredible women who support me and my writing.

I suppose this long rambling post is mostly to say–write your own way and publish in a way that works for you.

And avoid comparing your path to others.

What about you?

Are you an indie, hybrid, or traditionally published author?

 

And you are? Another Character Sketch.

Continuing with my character sketches for my upcoming release, One Last Heist, I thought I’d feature Toshi this week. My visual inspiration from him was actor Ian Anthony Dale. I love Toshi. He was such a fun character to play with–in many ways, he’s the person who keeps his husband, Mack, from tumbling over the edge of the cliff.

So, here’s a bit about him.

Name: Toshiro Ueda-Easton

What is he afraid of?

Losing any member of his family, whether it’s Mack, his mother, or his twin sister, Charlie.

What motivates him?

Toshi is highly motivated to ensure both his mother and sister are taken care of. He knows Charlie can take care of herself, but he’s always felt a responsiblity to both of them.

What does he like to do?

Of all his random hobbies, Toshi is gifted with languages. He speaks many, many languages. He goes out of his way to find new ones to pick up.

Where has he been?

All over the world. His cover for travel is that he’s a travel writer. It easily explains why he’s in certain locations during a heist, and provides the perfect alibi for him.

How much self-control and self-discipline does he have?

Massive amounts.

Massive.

Toshiro needs all that self-control because Mack doesn’t have much if any. Neither does anyone else in their crew aside from maybe Charlie. They all tend to be a bit impulsive.

 

Who Are You? A Character Sketch for One Last Heist.

I thought it might be fun to do character sketches of some of the people in my upcoming release, One Last Heist. Up first is Mack, who’s visual inspiration is featured in the cover (the lovely Stuart Reardon.) So, here we go.

Full Name: Gregor Tempest McKay Ueda-Easton

He was named for several family heroes–all unsavoury pirate figures from the 1800s.

Tattoos? 

Several. All pirate-related–an old ship, antique compass/map.

Best Friend?

Outside of his husband Toshiro? Jude is definitely his closest friend.

What is he afraid of?

Losing his sight.

He has an inherited degenerative disease which has slowly been stealing his vision and will eventually cause him to be at least legally blind if not fully so. He’s terrified of being unable to do what he loves most–planning and complete grand heists.

What motivates him?

The thrilling of successfully stealing. Mack particularly enjoys being able to return war plunder to their original owners (or their families.) It makes him feel like Robin Hood.

He also strives to honour the pirate legacy that goes back for generations in his family.

What does he like to do?

Short answer: His husband.

Long answer: His husband up against a wall, across a bed, over a couch, etc.

You get the idea.

Where has he been?

All over the world.

What does he lie to himself about?

That his sight isn’t being to deteriorate.


What would you like to know about Mack?

Deja Who?

There’s no reason for the subject to be spelt wrong. It just made me laugh. I am a nerd.

I think most writers probably have certain themes that follow them through their stories. Character traits, or backstories, or tropes we can’ t help using. Often times, we might not even realise we do it.

It’s a question I’ve had on my mind for a while now.

What are the ones to follow me through my writing?

Here are the ones I thought about (and maybe why):

  • Banter

  • Adoption – I’ve had a few characters who were adopted, or orphans, or foster kids. It’s probably because I’m adopted, so there’s a wealth of emotional stuff there I can explore.

 

  • Autistic Characters – I’m autistic. That one is:

  • Pets. All the pets. So many pets. From Taine’s hamster to Sherlock in After the Scrum. I’m a fan of memorable animals.
  • Absurd moments. I find absurdity humourous. (Like giving a large rugby player a hamster for a pet.)
  • Rough childhoods. A theme running through many of my stories are characters who have survived abusive or neglectful childhoods. Again, as something I had personal experience with, I think it’s important that not ALL of your characters have blissful, amazing parents. I’ve found as a reader that I cherish the books that I can relate to. When I find a character who has pulled through terrible times as a kid, I see a bit of myself.
  • Nerds. I’m quite a bit geeky, so admit to giving some of those quirks to my characters.

How about you? If you’re a writer, do you notice certain themes consistent throughout your different novels?

As a reader? Do you pick up on these sorts of things?

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?

 

 

Lessons from the Olympics.

This is a conversation I’ve had with my hubby three times in the last seven days.

Hubby: What are we watching tonight?

Me: The Olympics.

Hubby: Again? Seriously? Isn’t anything else on?

Me:

It’s fair to say I’ve watched the Olympics all day, every day since the opening ceremony. I’ve seen everything from curling (which I swear was invented by drunken, bored Scotsmen) to snowboarding to figure skating.  The Winter Olympics are always my favourite.

I’m taking a few lessons away from the athletes as well. I thought I’d share them.

  1. Never give up. Even if you fall on your face, you might still win in the end if you keep going.
  2. Tune out the critics (even if it’s your own self-doubt.)
  3. Sometimes winning comes without a medal. Set your own definitions for success.
  4. No matter how inspired. I’ll never be a figure skater. I’d probably maim myself in the attempt. lol
  5. Find joy in what you’re doing.

How about you? Are you enjoying the Olympics? What’s your favourite event so far?