dollarwilliam said:

Where do you stand when it comes to AU chapters. Let's say Mary Beth is going skydiving and passes out before she jumps. The next chapter could be describing what would have happened if she didn't get on the plane. Sorry that's a really bad example, but do you consider it a terrible writing device?

AU, or Alternate Universe, is especially popular in FanFiction, but it does crop up in original works, too. AU, for those playing along at home, allows writers to explore what-ifs or change certain facts, events, people that have been established, or considered “canon”. Personally, I have nothing against AU. There’s a lot of great, innovative writing being done in that genre. That said, i think it does pose unique issues to writers.

Writing AU is a lot like renovating a home. If you just go around swinging a sledgehammer at random walls, you’re not only going to end up with a mess, but you could do structural damage. Before anything begins, you need to have an idea of what is a load bearing wall and what isn’t. Load bearing literally support the weight of the structure and keep it from collapsing. It is possible to change them, but you need to redistribute the weight they were holding elsewhere.

So, if your reader just read that Mary Beth passed out before she jumped, and the next chapter she didn’t even get on the plane you have some explaining to do. Writing AU, or any fiction for that matter, is about how well you can present those choices you’ve made as the most logical and plausible outcomes. You’re going to have to think through different possibilities and outcomes, and then make the best choice for your story. I will say this, though. In all of the years I’ve been writing, not once have I heard anyone say, “I think the author thought this through too much.”

Good luck,



latinegrasexologist replied to your photoset “Finished last big edit on the novel. It’s at 168 pages for now, very…”

is this a childrens book too?

The publisher generally decides the genre and the age range (a marketing thing, in many cases), but I’d say yes. It is also very much an adult’s adventure book.

Okay, here’s my pitch on the spot:

Imagine a Tolkienesque/Narnia-like/Earthsea-ish/Game of Thrones-ey meld authored by a PoC author who subverts (or attempts to subvert) the racist trope present in almost all fantasy fiction he can think of, without it being preachy at all; A magical drama that references various cultures and current day GWOT and imperialism through age-old Fantasy archetypes and story shapes, and also employs gender typing much in the way Miyazaki does. Upside down to what is normal. I’d like to think Ursula K. Leguin influenced my Fantasy writing a bit in that way, too. The story does other things, too, with other issues, but I don’t want to talk it to death. I want to send some copies out and see what comes back without too much of my own thoughts.

But that layering/metaphor is why it works for both kids and adults. You don’t need to read anything into it for it to be an engaging Fantasy story (again, I hope!), but if you as an adult do catch some of the historical and cultural and literary games I’m playing, you’ll be doubly delighted.

I’m pretty excited by the book for a couple reasons. Firstly, because I love the Magic/Dragon/Wizard/Fantasy genre, devoured it as a kid but as I grew older, was saddened to suss out CS Lewis’ anti-Arab/anti-Muslim/Pro-Crusading Christianity themes, as well as all the Racist coding in LoTR books, and in so many other titles. I want Fantasy I can feel good about, and that won’t train children in the corrupt ways that so much media does today, and that is simply more true (while being Fantasy!).

Secondly, because I took a huge break in serious creative writing—from my songwriting to my bookwriting—in 2006, to focus on decolonization of thought, and general education into some of the pollutants to my earlier work, which mirrored some ignorance I’d absorbed growing up: the entrenched racism and misogyny in American culture. I blogged my heart out for 6 or 7 years without pausing (UMX), and still do a more casual form here. But I purposely stopped writing creative work because I’d come to realize there was a lot of unconsciousness in my work. I didn’t want to come from that place.

So this is my first major creative work since I took a hiatus, 8 years ago. I think it’s good book. Granted, I’m pretty close to the material, but there’s no question that it is the best long-form fiction i’ve ever created. And I’m happy, too, because while I’ve received plenty of compliments on my work in one way or another, for all my life, an artist judges themselves, and that’s what matters. And personally, I know that so much of it has been practice. Nothing there was something I’d want people to look at after I died. Clever, weird, original, sure. At times. No ‘great’ work. Now, I don’t know if this is a Great work, I doubt it. But it is something I feel good about leaving behind. You know how you grow up hearing all about your ‘potential’ and later feel it was a bunch of bullshit? I feel like this book is me living up to my potential, or beginning to.

Or maybe I’m just superjazzed, coming off the high of creating!

A poem during a storm

Because we are not supposed to write only about the weather,
even though it’s been raining for weeks, the monsoon blowing

east, and it won’t stop, as if this place were an open wound
that needed to be blown upon so that it’d dry up and produce

a scab. The sunset always bleeds in to announce the night
despite the storm, yet nobody cares about that. School

has been cancelled, the water reaching the knees
of the young, who don’t think about the world ending, only

the freedom before it, the anarchy before everything becomes
submerged into a blue marble. Our love and hate

is muffled by the dark-eyed rain, as it grows like moss, its silhouette
like ghosts when passing through the cars’ headlights in the traffic.

Like Teenage Gravity

Trouble always seems to come in black. Black dogs in church yards, black cats crossing your path, the little black dress draped over the woman in front of you. But it’s the heels that really let you know know how dangerous the night will get. Coal black and lacquered, the trouble is guaranteed at the four inch mark. Anything above that is cause for at least a couple dozen Hail Mary’s.

I listened to the click of her heels as she traipsed across the room, tapping out “mayhem” in perfect morse code. Her slender hands grabbed mine as she looked into my eyes purposefully. She asked something akin to “Are you ready to go?” but I was too busy drowning in the scent of You’re Fucked by Chanel. Calm, cool, and collected was an impossibility with her.

This is the kind of trouble that walks three steps ahead of you on the way to the elevator, the kind that swings her hips enthusiastically with every step. She stands close by as the lift lowers us to the lobby and it’s a trial not to grab onto her hips and take her right there. But doors always open at the most inopportune moments, and instead I find myself being led by the hand out into the street and across twelve long city blocks. Her ability to walk in those things is impressive when I can barely keep from tripping over my own feet.

When we stop, she’s staring up fifty-three stories and leaning back into me to keep her balance. Her lips brush back against my cheek as she informs me that we don’t have reservations, but if we can get in it will absolutely be worth it. She punctuates her statement by grazing her hand across my  belt buckle. Hail Mary, full of grace, don’t let me fall flat on my own fucking face.

The elevator ride to the top of the tower is excruciating. She stands obscenely close and rests her ass against me for fifty-two floors. I find it impossible to make eye contact with any of the other passengers, all well-dressed and official looking. I can see shoes more expensive than the tattoos hidden beneath my shirt, pearls that cost more than a months stay at out hotel. Blending in becomes a Herculean labor when the blood is too busy to travel to your brain.

The maître d’ is not happy to see me, and seems reluctant to believe that the name I’ve pulled from the wait list actually belongs to me, but my assurance that I am in fact Jackson Murray, and that I’m here to celebrate the release of my band’s new album at least gets us a decent table, where she sits across from me with a glass of over-priced wine. I can see the entire city from the window, millions of people traveling below us, but something as simple as her eyeliner takes complete precedence, and the cityscape is nothing but a blur in the distance.

The food is subpar for the price, but I shell out without hesitation. She pulls me back toward the elevator before I can figure out what kind of tip to leave, and by floor forty-six her hands have found comfortable resting places on the back of my neck and the front of my pants. By floor thirty-eight, her legs are wrapped around me and our lips are locked together. And then suddenly her heels have clicked down on the carpeted floor and we’re both staring red-faced at the new passenger from floor thirty-seven. He stares at us like a frustrated parent until the doors open again and we part ways.

We laugh our way out of the building, and barefoot under the streetlights she kisses me like she never has before, full of wine and lust and contentment, and I think to myself that I’d happily play the fool again for a thousand more nights like this.

Like a dying bird, flying high in the sky with no place to land.

I’m like a pit of darkness, dragging everything and everyone down with me. Everywhere I go I bring my awful mood and spread it upon the people. I walk inside a room full of happy people and the conversation immediately quiets down. Their moods drop to one of a dying bird, flying high in the sky with no place to land. I bring sadness, darkness. My face is constantly emotionless. Unable to be read by anyone. People worry, but I can’t take their worries away. Nothing seems fun anymore. Flowers are just flowers, now. Pictures don’t seem special anymore. My mind is foggy and unable to capture the beauty of living. Food has no taste, so what is the point of eating? Colors are dull and black seems more appealing these days. Bright lights make me wanna shield my eyes. Breathing has become a way of passing time. My bright green eyes stopped shining. I don’t see the bright side in things anymore. I’m not afraid of death, while I used to be so scared. It comes when it does, and when it does I’ll embrace it. The darkness has become my friend, my only source of happiness. Hurtful words don’t affect me, and compliments I brush off. Alcohol isn’t important, it doesn’t dull the ache in my chest. The birds stopped singing, and words didn’t matter.

But I’m still here. I’m still fighting, holding on. For Troye.