Cover reveal

Here it is, ladies and gents! The cover of Abnormal! The preorder link is going live very, very soon, at Rhetoric Askew … As soon as Amazon puts it up for preorder, that is. I’m waiting and draining my phone battery in an effort to notify people as soon as it’s active.

I’m extremely excited, and I can’t wait to get a few copies in my grubby little mitts.

Back for seconds

So, for those who were able to view my live reading of a scene from Abnormal, how did you like it? If you missed it, feel free to check out my Twitter page and watch the recording to get a glimpse of the story. ūüôā

Guess what? Tomorrow, August 8, I’ll be reading a different scene live on Facebook! Check it out:

Here’s the link to my author page on Facebook for that reading.

I’m hoping to be more relaxed and less nervous (and thus to read slower and not rattle it off too fast) this time now that I’ve done it once already. We’ll see.

Last time I read an action scene… This time, I’m going to try to pick out something sweet. ūüėČ

“See” you tomorrow evening at 7pm PST!

Being #ABNORMAL is not a crime

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Abnormal is rapidly approaching release, and I want to know: What makes you #ABNORMAL?

There are tons of “abnormalities” in life that are criminalized, penalized, or ostracized in society. Transsexualism, LGBTQIA “lifestyle,” being overweight, underweight, tall, short, rich, poor, too ugly, too pretty even. What about you makes you “abnormal” by today’s society? What have you had to deal with due to your “abnormality”?

Let me know. In a comment, a tweet, an Instagram post–let me know what makes you #ABNORMAL. Hashtag #WhatMakesMeAbnormal and #ABNORMAL, and let’s get a conversation going. I want to know what you’ve gone through. I want to know your trials and tribulations due to not being the impossible “normal.”

I want to get “normal” thrown out the window–or maybe redefined. I want us all to be proud of our “abnormalities,” not shamed by them. I want to create a new normal, one that includes¬†all of humanity–no matter what they look like, act like, talk like, whatever.

Can’t we all just get along?

Yeah, I know we can’t. But wouldn’t it be nice?

Trump vs anti-Trump. Alt right vs far left. Conservative vs liberal. This vs that. It’s all adversarial, with no common ground in sight. I don’t think they’re even¬†looking for common ground, actually.

I’m more of a middle-of-the-roader. I have views that are liberal and I have views that are a bit conservative. I don’t really fall into any one category, so I guess I have a more unique view of the two warring parties. Kind of an outsider’s perspective into the world that has gone to shit in the span of a couple of weeks…politically speaking, that is.

Now, I’m trying to keep an open mind, but so far I haven’t seen any actions from the new POTUS that have me thrilled. Then again, I’m not super thrilled at the reactions of the opposing side. Millions of women marching on the same day–great, but what did it accomplish? It ended up looking like a mass hissy fit. Nothing changed. Nothing improved by this protest. Yeah, it was the largest protest in US history…but what, exactly, changed from it? Nada, that’s what.

Speaking of nada, what’s with this wall crap? I thought it was a joke by Trump before his election, but he’s actually serious about it. Uh, dude, do you remember when there were two Germanies? Because young as I am, I still remember. East and West, man. Look it up. That wall didn’t exactly make things better, and I doubt yours will either.

This whole immigration fiasco is out of hand as well. We’re a country made of immigrants…immigrants who trampled over the native people. We’re not exactly all “American” here. If I had the genealogical tendencies that my mom does, I could tell you exactly where my family came from. (I don’t, so I’d have to ask her. I personally don’t much care where my family came from, because what matters is who I am as a person, not who my great-great-great-whatever was. I am me, and that’s that.) To be honest, most of the current-day immigrants are better people than the settlers who came here a few hundred years ago to plunder and steal. I mean….no, that’s pretty much what they did to the American Indians. Native Americans. Whatever the PC term is today. Regardless of the term, we fucked them over, and that’s not cool. Now, yeah, some of the “immigrants” are people who don’t have the US in their best interests–but those are in the minority. Can’t we just let those who are trying to escape a bad situation come over here and find a new home? A little Google-ing showed me that this is what our good ol’ Statue of Liberty says to newcomers:

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Yeah. So those are the¬†exact people who are trying to come here right now.¬†Let’s have a bit of compassion here, huh?

And speaking of diversity, people need to lay off the LGBTQIA community. I don’t fall into any of those categories, but guess what–I don’t¬†have to fall into one of those categories to support them. Do I think the liberal media (TV shows, etc) is kinda shoving the LGBTQIA themes down our throats? Yeah, a bit. I mean, does every same-sex friendship¬†have to turn into a sexual relationship? Why does every TV show¬†have to have a couple or two that represent the queer/homosexual side of things? It’s affirmative action all over again, with token gay couples as opposed to token black characters. Yes, you can put these gay characters in the show, but don’t go forcing “chemistry” where there is none just to appease the masses. Same goes for “traditional” relationships as well; don’t force a relationship where there’s just a friendship. Here’s a newsflash for TV and movie-makers: there ARE friends of opposite genders who STAY friends and never get sexual in their relationship. Quit trying to force things already. It’s blatantly obvious and not at all appealing.

This whole election and post-inauguration transition has turned into one giant you-vs-me clusterfuck that shows no sign of stopping. My news feed is flooded with angry posts from both sides of the fence, and neither side is convincing me that their view is the “right” one. Howsabout we try to, oh, I don’t know, agree on at least¬†something?

So far my views appear to be on the anti-POTUS side of the fence, but I really am trying to keep an open mind. I don’t want to just hate everything he does across the board just because I don’t like the dude as a person. I mean, there are people who are terrible people that also have good ideas. So, y’know, I should give him a chance. As we all should.

People are spouting stuff saying that Trump and his camp are all about hate, but guess what, people–that stuff you’re spouting? It’s hate-speech, too. Nobody wins in this kind of game.

Let’s just¬†try to get along, huh? I mean, we have four years of this ahead of us. Instead of protesting in vain, try working with sympathetic parties inside the government to actuate change if you really can’t bear to agree on anything.

Don’t just write to your local senator, though; write to a senator who shares your views. You write to someone who’s pro-Trump and you want to get Trump thrown out of office, that dude’s aides are just gonna shred your letter without even reading the bulk of it. Okay, they might read it…so they can laugh as they shred it. Same for letters to the White House. I guarantee you Trump doesn’t see any of those that aren’t pro-Trump. He has aides who have aides who have aides who filter through that stuff, checking for anthrax or plague or whatever other dangerous biotoxins or chemicals may be on the envelope/letter before they’re even read, and c’mon, do you¬†really think Trump is going to read them if they’re bashing him and threatening revolution? No. He’s not going to. He’s going to be fixing his combover in the mirror before his next photo op.

In closing (because I need to stop ranting and rambling): get over yourself.¬†Everyone. Just get over yourself. We’re here, we’re stuck with what we’ve got, so quit whining and quit lording it over the whiners. Just find a way to survive the next four years without creating an irreparable divide in a country that has survived over 200 years and one civil war. Let’s not test the strength of our nation by causing another one. Let’s just chill and hold hands and sing “Kumbaya” and shit.

Let’s us all just try and get along, okay?

 

Triggered

Okay, I gotta stand up and post about this, ’cause it’s relevant to, like,¬†life.

Calling someone “bipolar” as an insult is shitty. A lowdown, ignorant, dumb-ass shitty thing to do. I don’t care how batshit crazy the person may be, you don’t just use a legitimate medical condition as an insult. Fuck you, random guy at Chili’s.

To my credit, I didn’t get up from the table and ream him out. I restrained myself…as a¬†bipolar person is perfectly capable of doing.

It really bugs me when people do that, especially when they act like it’s something¬†wrong. Like a bipolar person is automatically off their nut and can’t function in society. That’s bullshit. Complete and utter bullshit. There’s nothing more “wrong” about bipolar disorder than there is about, say, the color of your skin or hair or something. It’s a part of a person and that’s cool. Well, it’s not “cool,” but I’m cool with it. You have a mental illness? Okay. That’s part of who you are and none of my business, really. You be you.

So I guess it’s a short rant today. Don’t be a dick and use mental illness–or¬†any illness–as an insult. Especially not when the person sitting in the booth next to yours might very well have that illness and you don’t even know¬†because they’re perfectly normal and okay just the way they are.

Finally free

I could be talking about Independence Day today…but I’m not. I’m not overly patriotic. I’m not political. I’m not a historian. I’m just an average Joe (Jill?), and I’m not that into the revolutionary aspect of the holiday. No, I’m talking about a free day off work. After working 12 days in a row, then going on a day trip, then doing laundry all day, I finally have a day off where I can do whatever.

The start of my free day? Fixing my cosplay booboo from yesterday. I got that done and all of the twill fabric pieces cut out; now comes cutting out the interfacing & lining, after which I’ll start putting the pieces together. It should prove interesting since I’m altering the pattern. I keep doing that…and so far, aside from yesterday’s disaster, it’s been turning out well. Guess I have a knack for it…or I’ve been lucky.

Now I’m taking a break from all that pinning and cutting and I’m just chilling on the computer for a while. I might take a nap. I might make some food. Or maybe I’ll just stare at this screen and do nothing.

Sometimes it’s good to take time for yourself. Burnout sucks. Sure, if I spent all day nonstop working on the coat I could probably get it finished…but is that really what I want to do with my free day? Spend the whole thing cutting and sewing until I’m sore and worn out?

Also, I’ve been having some good ideas about my dystopian/sci-fi novel. Yeah, you know the one–the one that’s been stalled since the cosplay stuff went into overdrive? Well, it’s still stalled (narrative-wise), but some new details about the world and the characters have come into my head that I think will give it some depth and diversity. It’s outside of my comfort zone, but isn’t that the point of writing sometimes? Going new places, trying new things…creating new worlds (or destroying them).

Maybe I’ll work on brainstorming today in between cosplay sessions. That sounds like a good idea.

Freedom to do what you want–gotta love it.

Plus or Minus

I’m having a devil of a time finding good stretch faux leather leggings for my Magik cosplay. I was hoping to find some on Amazon for a reasonable price (reasonable = less than it would cost to make them myself), but it’s slim pickings.

That’s right, slim. The “plus” size leggings that I initially ordered are entirely too small. Yes, I admit it, I’m a big girl. So I thought, “Okay, that was just the brand’s sizing. My fault for not checking the size chart for that brand before I bought them. I can find something else that will work.” NBD, right?

Do you have¬†any idea how hard it is to find attractive plus size leggings–even on a site as big as Amazon? I’ve found less than a handful of truly plus-sized pants that would work for what I want. If I was skinny like I used to be, then I’m sure I’d have found dozens of great-looking affordable leggings already. Hell, even using “plus size” in the search engine and selecting the plus size department to further narrow the search, I have found more regular-sized leggings in what I’m looking for than plus size.

As for the few plus sizes that I have found, some of them aren’t all that “plus.” Looking at the sizing charts (now that I’m a little wiser on that), some of the “plus” is like a 14 or 16 size–not really plus, people. That’s average.¬†Average.

If I was a designer, I’d be all over some sexy plus-sized women’s wear. Something that looks just like the regular size but with plus proportions. Why can’t bigger women (like me) wear faux leather leggings? I may have a big gut, but with the corset I’m making part of that will be taken care of…and besides, I have a decent ass (for a big girl). And wouldn’t that be the challenge of the design? Making the clothing look good–and making the wearer look even better. Hidden panels to suck in all that fluff? Sure. Stretch to accommodate for the range of shapes in the plus-sized world? I’d have it covered.

Sadly, I’m not a designer. I’m just a regular cosplay sewist who needs a pattern to make anything. Granted, I seem to have a knack for modifying patterns that I find, but that’s not the same as actually designing something from start to finish. And if I have to make these pants, I’m going to definitely need to do some modifying. Proportionately, my waist is much larger compared to my hips, so any pattern I find will need some creative adjustments made. Stupid gut.

Why not just lose weight, you ask? Okay, I’ll admit that I’m lazy about exercising and I eat too much junk. But it’s not like I haven’t tried. When I started regaining all the weight I lost over a year ago (or is it two now?), I did my damnedest to keep it at bay. I ate better, drank lots of water, tried exercising every other morning before work. Not only did it not stave off the weight gain, it seemed to speed it up.

Then you have to take into consideration the medications that I take. Several of them can cause weight gain, and the few that I’ve tried to help me control my appetite did nothing for it. (Don’t worry, folks, I didn’t mix my prescriptions with over-the-counter weight loss meds. I asked my doctor for advice and used a couple medicines that he prescribed–meds that he deemed safe to take with my other medications.)

So there it is. There are people out there that, for whatever reason, can’t wear what clothing companies consider to be “plus” size…and the clothes they¬†can wear are baggy, saggy, and completely unflattering.

This is a call out to all clothing designers: find some true plus-sized women.¬†Real women with¬†real bodies that have different shapes and sizes. Find these women, and make them feel sexy. Trust me, there’s a market for it. I’m not saying it all has to be stretch faux leather like I’m looking for–just something flattering that doesn’t make them feel worse about themselves.

And if you¬†do decide to make some in the stretch faux leather…hit me up! ūüėČ I’m more than willing to model your design at Dragon Con this year. It’s a HUGE convention, and cosplay has become as much a fashion-centric community¬†as New York Fashion Week or Paris or wherever the hip kids go to look cool these days.

You’ve got two months, designers. As the inimitable Tim Gunn says, “Make it work!”

Reading too much

Why would I post something with that title just a day after putting my books online for free? Well, it’s because I’m not talking about¬†that kind of reading.

I’m talking about reading more into things than is really there, particularly in regards to TV shows.

There has been tremendous uproar in the LGBTQ (I think I’m missing some letters, but they kind of keep getting added¬†on so it’s hard to keep up) community over the deaths of some LGBTQ characters on some fictional TV shows. And you all know my opinions on getting uptight about fictional shows.

Let’s start with the flame that started a spark that ignited a brushfire faster than a cigarette butt tossed onto the dry Arizona grass: the death of Lexa, one half of the lesbian couple known as “Clexa” to¬†The 100 fandom. (Dont’ know what “Clexa” means? See my previous post on shipping.) The Internet was abuzz with LGBTQ fans lashing out at producers, showrunners, writers, the network…pretty much everyone involved in the making of the episode. The majority of this outrage was over the perceived notion that the network had killed off Lexa because she was a lesbian. Now I don’t watch the show, but my husband clued me in to the gist of what happened and it sounded to me like there was a valid reason for the character to die. And even if there wasn’t, why does it necessarily have to have¬†anything to do with the character being a lesbian?

It wasn’t too long before other fandoms got caught up in the inferno. Soon every LGBTQ death on a TV show was being called into question, with accusations of bigotry flying left and right. Suddenly every fan was an activist, and they all had one message: don’t kill off any more LGBTQ characters or else.

The irony here is, the fans got so caught up in spewing their hate that they didn’t realize they were rapidly becoming as just as bigoted as the accused–more so, in fact. Every time that anything bad happened to an LGBTQ character it became viewed as an act of war, an intentional slight against the gay and lesbian community.

Guys, seriously, I doubt that show writers and producers sit in their weekly meetings and pitch various ways to injure, maim, or kill LGBTQ characters. They don’t wring their hands and cackle maniacally. They don’t have a pegboard of LGBTQ characters that they throw darts at to figure out who they’re going to kill next. It just doesn’t work like that.

TV executives are concerned with one major thing: ratings. Those are fueled by the stories they tell. If the story requires a beloved character to die, then guess what? They die, whether they’re white, black, straight, gay, young, old, thin, fat, etc. Has there been an upward trend of bad things happening to LGBTQ characters? Maybe. I sure see a lot more about it on the news and in social media. But did any of you ever consider that maybe it’s a¬†good thing?

Before you start sending¬†me hate messages and death threats, let me finish. Maybe the reason that we’re seeing more gay characters being hurt is that there are more gay characters being represented in TV. Isn’t that a plus?

Personally, I don’t see the rate of LGBTQ deaths/injuries/etc as being out of proportion with the deaths/injuries of straight characters. Straight characters die a¬†lot. It’s just that no one rages over those deaths the way they react to LGBTQ deaths. It’s the same with any minority: the minority gets better representation through casting and storylines, then when the increase in minority population there’s an increase in stories–good or bad–surrounding those minority characters. It just happens to be that the current fad is to kill off characters without warning.

Don’t blame the networks, or the producers, or the writers. Think before you explode, and calmly consider whether or not the treatment of the character was part of the plot or whether it was gratuitous…and don’t base that consideration on how much you personally like the character. Be rational. No network is going to stalk fansites and other social media just to find out what LGBTQ character is the most popular just for the purpose of senselessly killing them.

If you’re going to blame anyone, blame George R. R. Martin. I mean, he kinda spearheaded¬†the “sudden death” fad. Ever since Ned Stark, no character is safe.¬†No character, no matter their gender/race/age/sexual orientation/etc.

(Disclaimer: Do¬†not¬†seriously blame George R. R. Martin. It’s not his fault the viewing public eats it up.)

Language barrier

English is one of the toughest languages to learn. This is almost universally agreed upon.

You know what’s even tougher? Learning proper¬†English when you’ve spent your entire life speaking and writing in American English.

British English is almost as different from American English as any two other languages you could pick. The grammar is different. The punctuation is different.¬†The slang is different. The spellings of some of the same words are different. As an American reading British writing (for the charity anthology project I’m working on–with primarily British writers), it can be frustrating. Is this a misspelling or just a cultural difference? What the heck is this word? What the fuck does this even¬†mean?

For the writers of the anthology, one of our functions is to critique the other writers’ works. This critique process helps to clean up first drafts, second drafts, etc. It also gives the author of each piece a different perspective of how the piece reads. It’s a great process, and it has improved my writing immensely. However, as a “foreigner” when it comes to British English, I feel as though I’m trying to critique a short story/poem/etc that’s written in Greek or Spanish.

Granted, I’ve learned quite a lot about British English through this project. When I watch a British television show I’m not quite as lost at some points as I may otherwise be. It’s quite interesting to see the differences in two languages that are supposed to be the same language. No wonder it’s considered one of the toughest languages to learn. You can learn British English fluently, then take a trip to America and suddenly feel as though you don’t know English at all (or vice versa).

Since I’m partially bilingual (I know Spanish well enough to converse with the Mexican patients at work and we can largely understand each other, but I don’t consider myself fluent), does my newfound knowledge of British English make me actually trilingual? It’s a fascinating concept.

Why can’t we be friends?

My husband brought up a valid point today, and it’s one I’d like to address…

Why do pop culture fans these days want¬†everyone to be in a relationship. It seems you can’t go into any fandom without ships, ships galore! Whatever happened to good ol’ buddies? Why are the brotp’s suddenly all bromances? Can’t two people just like hanging out without any innuendo?

Maybe today’s society is so repressed that they rebel by sexualizing everything. Two men being in love is forbidden? Fine. We’ll just decide that these two fictional men who have no romantic chemistry are in a sexual relationship. Take that, Establishment! Or something.

Now, I have no problem with homosexual relationships. You’re attracted to your own sex? Fine. Attracted to both sexes? Neither? Whatever. That’s your deal, and it’s all good. I just don’t get why fans are imagining romances where there are none.

Destiel. Wincest. Those are just two examples of fan shipping gone mad, from just one fandom. Don’t understand what I’m talking about? Well, unless you¬†really want to know, I wouldn’t recommend Googling it. The Internet is dark and full of bullshit. Why can’t friends just be friends? It baffles me.

There are different types of relationships besides sexual or romantic relationships. There are friendships and partnerships, brotherhoods and sisterhoods. There are families, cliques, posses, and gangs. People can be close to one another emotionally without being sexual. Is it that hard to understand?

Then I start to wonder: Is this a reflection of the fandoms’ personal lives? Maybe they aren’t too repressed…maybe they’re hypersexualized. Maybe every relationship in their lives is a sexual/romantic one, and they don’t know how to have healthy non-sexual relationships. It’s certainly possible.

It’s also possible that they’re all batshit crazy. Get your own love lives and quit trying to force them on fictional characters. Let the romance happen, and if it doesn’t, then let that happen too.