Two Middle-Aged Demons and a Same-Sex Couple—How I Add Diversity to Fiction

  • February 24, 2020
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inclusion photo

I’m sure most people have seen the image that went viral recently, that of a toddler in a wheelchair staring at an ad in a Target store—the model for the boys’ clothing ad was also in a wheelchair.

It’s a powerful image. That little boy saw the message: I’m not alone. There are people out there like me.

It’s a connection that feels so good when it happens.

My short stories feature a pair of demons living in middle-aged bodies. They even have sex (off stage, but still). They could have swapped bodies for younger, thinner ones but for some reason I don’t yet know, they choose to remain where they are. And even though they’re demons, I like them because they seem like middle-aged people. They’re not all-knowing creatures simply because they’re older. They have quirks and wrinkles.

My novel Magical Ties includes a minor character named Ro, a smart, beautiful woman, and her girlfriend, Alicia, who’s a mechanic—among other things. Including a lesbian couple into my story wasn’t a “thing” to me because frankly I see no difference between them and a heterosexual couple. They date and go grocery shopping, and I’m sure there will be arguing in future books. But I also remember the time I went into a bookstore with a friend who checked out the LGBTQ+ shelf and sighed. In the entire store, the fiction and nonfiction for that category were lumped together and barely covered one shelf.

Being invisible can be a terrible thing.

So, while Ro and Alicia didn’t have to be a same-sex couple (they could just as easily been Robert and Alicia), I made the decision to include them as they are.

But it’s tricky to add characters simply because they’re underrepresented in books. It can feel forced, and who wants to read something artificial? Not me. Which is why there’s no hard-of-hearing or deaf character in my stories. I’m hard-of-hearing, and every time I’ve considered it, the character refused to form. Maybe I’m too close to get a handle on one. Will I ever? I don’t know.

So, writers, what do you do?


ASL, My Novel, and Being a Little Evil

  • February 19, 2018
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In a prior blog I wrote how hard it is to describe the genre urban fantasy. Now I need to explain it in a different language. (Talk about ambitious. Heh.)

Learning ASL (American Sign Language) is not the same as learning English. The grammar of each is completely different from the other’s.

But signs are only half the language. Imagine talking in a monotone and saying “I’m happy.” No one would know how you meant it.

In ASL, facial expressions are the equivalent to tone of voice in English. It makes a difference if your eyebrows are drawn together or your mouth is puckered. Each nuance changes the meaning.

When my ASL teacher told us to make a video on any topic we wanted for fun, I wasn’t thrilled. I’m not comfortable in front of the camera (although I’m getting better at it). My teacher’s idea of “fun” vastly differs from mine. Then an evil thought crossed my mind.

My teacher doesn’t like reading books in my genre.

So I’m going to make a video in ASL, talking about my book Magical Ties. (Cue cackling laughter in the background.)

Considering my sparse vocabulary, talking about a book that includes demons, murder, and relationships is going to be a challenge.

But it’s good practice, a unique way of thinking about my story and how to make it appeal to someone who might be open to trying something outside their usual preference. (For the record, I don’t expect to change my teacher’s mind. We like what we like and that’s it. But it’s the closest I can have to “fun” in this situation.)

One final note: I’m not going to post the video. It’s going to be an amateur effort in a beginner’s class and there’s a steep learning curve. Maybe another video some day!

Writing Again

  • June 26, 2017
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I took a hiatus from writing fiction. When Magical Ties was published, I had reached the stage where if I had to proof it one more time—! Not because I didn’t like my story (I did), but because when reading it as a proofreader and copy editor I was too busy looking for technical errors to enjoy it. Probably too afraid to enjoy it, worried I’d miss a mistake. Doing that intensive focus for four or five times in a row was necessary but brutal to my brain.

Writing Roundup 2016

  • December 19, 2016
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It’s been an interesting year. I published my novel Magical Ties and my short story “In the Smoke” appeared in the anthology Smoke: Tales Between Dark and Light. Also, I copyedited a wonderful cookbook by Roberta Roberti, World Party: Vegetarian Appetizers, Hors d’oeuvres and Party Plates, and maintained my blog for the second year.

And yet, it feels like I did nothing. I know it’s not productive to look at other people, but to read that so-and-so wrote two novels in a year and a screenplay and trains beagles on the side…okay, that’s an exaggeration, but you get the idea. It seems like I should be doing more.

Why are we so hard on ourselves? Writing a novel is a long, grueling race, sometimes like running through molasses. And there’s no guarantee of any kind of success. Yet we write on.

The only thing to do is write.

Book two is percolating, leaving me multiple scenarios running through my mind and handwritten scraps of paper floating from surface to surface in the living room while a Word doc has scenes waiting to be placed in the right order. It’s filling me to the brim and very soon I’ll be sitting down and putting it all into a more coherent mess. I find that I miss the people and I’m looking forward to what happens to them in the new year.

I guess if the point of this year was to continue me into the next, pen and keyboard ready, that’s a better year than I thought.


Book Launch Thursday, July 28!

  • July 25, 2016
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Cover of Magical Ties

My urban fantasy novel, Magical Ties, will be available at this Thursday. It will be available as both ebook and paperback. Check the News section here on Thursday for the direct link.

Chapter One is available here.

Happy reading!


The Hero With No Superpowers

  • June 30, 2016
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When I was a little kid, I’d fantasize about being the hero with superpowers. Who didn’t want to be a Superman? But as I got older, it became harder to put myself in the same situations that my fantasy superheroes on TV and in books and movies went through because when I did—well, I croaked. Or was captured. I couldn’t fly or read minds or have the strength of ten people or—well, you get the idea.

So I looked for other types of stories to immerse myself in the genre of fantasy. I discovered that I love the ones where the hero is vulnerable.

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