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):


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?


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?


Friendship is really one of the themes that connect the Sin Bin series.

Strong friendships run through each novel in the series. Relationships that are strong enough for friends to become family. The Lion Tamer is no different. In fact, it might be the story where those connections are even more important.

Scottie & Gray both suffered through terrible childhoods. In their experiences, blood family have hurt them more than anyone else. It’s their friends who gather around them to support them.

One of my favourite friendships in the entire series is actually the one that has developed between Gray and Alice & Alex, the autistic twins who first appear in The Royal Marine.

Here are just a few reasons why:

  1. Is there anything better than watching as hard-as-nails marine become gentle and kind?
  2. Alice and Alex have gained an immense amount of confidence from it.
  3. Origami parties. The visual. The visual is priceless.
  4. Patience.
  5. Snow angels. (You’ll have to read The Unexpected Santa to see why.)

Do you enjoy platonic relationships in romance novels?

What’s your favourite non-romantic relationship in The Sin Bin?


My Year of No.

Several friends of mine tend to have a ‘word of the year’ that seems to sum up how they intend to approach a new year. I usually don’t. For 2018, I had one word on my mind – No.




This is my year of No.

One thing I’ve noticed about myself (and other autistics) is we loathe confrontation so much that we end up saying yes when we’d rather say no. We get roped into doing more and more if only to get out of a conversation or argument. Being afraid to hurt someone’s feelings is also part of it.

Last year felt like a year of yes. It was completely unintentionally. And by the end of 2017, I felt exhausted physically, emotionally, and every other way you can. I’d pushed myself to do more and more and more. And had less and less and less as a result, if that makes any sense at all.

So this year is my year of no.

I’m not saying yes to getting involved in things (whatever they may be) when I’m honestly not interested or if it pushes me beyond what’s healthy for me.

I’d actually started doing it in November of last year and ended up writing the best novel I’ve ever written to date.

If life is all about balance, a bit of no sometimes helps keeps you from tipping over.

(That made no sense.)

How about you?

Do you struggle with saying no to opportunities even when you should?

Do you have a word for the year?



Five Ways The Lion Tamer Surprised Me

Five Ways The Lion Tamer Surprised Me

As a writer who rarely outlines or plots in advance, I’m often (read: always) surprised by some of the twists and turns in my own stories. Some of my novels shock me more than others. You’d think I’d learn to expect the unexpected.

When I started The Lion Tamer, I knew roughly where I wanted it to go. I didn’t quite anticipate the journey it would take to get there. Scottie, in particular, surprised me. Then again, he is the more mercurial of the two men. Gray is quite set in his ways and stable in comparison.

In any case, here are five ways (or things) that surprised me in the sixth Sin Bin story. I’ll try to avoid spoilers if you haven’t read it yet.

  1. Scottie’s growth and his strength in facing his demons. I wasn’t sure he had it in him.
  2. Scottie’s little brother. He’s a darling. I love him.
  3. You’ll see.
  4. The Red Card. I could honestly write an entire novel centred around it.
  5. Gray’s patience. Honestly, he should be up for sainthood.

Even though I always promise myself I’ll at least attempt to plan in advance, my stories still surprise me.

I have to admit, I love that about writing.