In Inspiration I Trust

Last week, according to my spreadsheet, was in fact the worst writing week that I have had to date since starting it. There are multiple empty spaces that remind me I did not write a single word on my works in progress. Those blanks will haunt me for the rest of the month.

This is not to say, however, that I was not still working on anything, because I was. However, it was not the traditional work that one expects to do when planning for writing a book. Regardless, it gave me more inspiration, which has propelled me forward to finish out this last week strong.

Below I will leave the aesthetics, which I created for the characters from my current WIP. Let it not be said that I have nothing to show for my work. (All images are free stock photos. I lay no claim to any single one.)

Morgan, the main character – Pronouns: They/Them
Annabelle
Will
AdriΓ‘n
Julia
Aurelia
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I Wish You All The Best: A Book Review

What a time to be alive, where fiction about Nonbinary people, has gone mainstream! In my wildest dreams, I never would have imagined it, to be honest. Here we are though, just a day shy of the whole first release week of I Wish You All The Best by Mason Deaver having taken place, and it has taken the internet by storm for all of the right reasons.

From the get go, it is made apparent that this book will be delving into subjects with emotional depth, as the story begins with the main character, Benjamin De Decker, being kicked out of their home for outing themself to their parents. From there, it becomes a narrative of healing for them, as they try to piece back together a life in shambles.

If you are looking for light-hearted, then I suggest searching elsewhere, because though there are humor laden exchanges and a romance between the MC and another character, which builds gradually throughout, this book is first and foremost about trauma and healing from it. With that being said, this was a harder read for me, but I am so grateful that this book exists. Years ago, as a Nonbinary teen, I would have benefited greatly from it, had it been available at that time.

As for the mechanics of the story, the character driven plot was done well. There was nuance and growth throughout, especially from Ben. Though their healing takes center-stage, Ben’s sister also transcends her original starting point, as does the love interest. Their motivations and facets are fleshed out to where I can see them being actual people. These three are the characters we see the most, so I feel it’s important to highlight those above the others. However, each person in the cast of characters was unique, and believable, which added layers to the story that would not have previously been there otherwise.

Overall, though a difficult read for anyone who can remotely relate to Ben on certain issues, this book is one of the best to come out of this release year. I am grateful to have read it, and I can only hope that the author will continue writing, as I look forward to their next work.

I rated this book on Goodreads 5/5 stars.

Shadows You Left: A Book Review

There is something to be said for laid back novels, such as Shadows You Left by Jude Sierra and Taylor Brooke, which offers up an intriguing plot and the potential for great character development, then delivers. It is the sort of book that can keep a reader up at night with anticipation, urging them to continue until the end. A whirlwind romance with teeth and truth, this book is a stunner.

With that being said, this story revolves around two main characters – Erik and River – whose points of view alternate throughout. Erik is a cage fighter and mediocre bartender, while River is a talented tattoo artist. Right from the start, their lives converge, and the story begins. Even from the opening though, it becomes apparent that while this is a romance, each character has his own separate life to sort out, and live too. While it does indeed focus on their nascent relationship, importance is also placed on who they are outside of each other, including their friends or family.

Furthermore, well-executed prose and beautiful imagery populate this slice of life and love novel, which only engendered me to this narrative further. Those aspects, coupled with a well-constructed combination of fleshed out characters, and sub-plots that had believable resolutions at the end, made this easily one of my favorite books of the year.

If the premise of two imperfect people navigating their separate worlds alongside their budding romance draws you, then the following love story might be for you. It is not cotton candy, by any means, as it deals with darker topics, such as addiction and substance abuse. However, it is a novel that adds depth to the New Adult category and romance genre in its execution.

I rated this book 5/5 stars on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: I was given a free ARC of this by NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.




Being Marginalized Is Not A Free Pass To Avoid Scrutiny

There seems to be a gray area hovering throughout the lands of the internet, as well as outside of the digital world. It has materialized as controversies have arisen, and people have drawn their lines of what they will or won’t allow to come to pass without comment. However, this gray area of indecision, or decisively placed rose colored glasses, is insidious at best, and therefore should not exist.

An identity is not meant to shield, because actions determine your character, regardless of who you are. Furthermore, though every single person will make a mistake at some point, that does not excuse the action which remains erroneous in nature. To point to past decent actions as reason that you should be forgiven, is immoral, and also just as wrong as attempting to hide from scrutiny behind your identity.

Recently, after a slew of various events within the book community, this has been weighing on my mind. It is not easy to hear that you’ve committed an error, but rather than become defensive and point to your sexual orientation or other marginalized identity, it should be rather obvious that the best path forward would be to admit to wrong doing, and then commit to doing better going forward. We’re all human, and therefore pre-disposed to making mistakes. However, nothing can remove the blame for your own choices or actions. You, and you alone, are responsible. Being marginalized is not an eraser than can absolve you.

In Joy, Too

In a change of pace, because we all need that with the dour circumstances surrounding the trans community as of late, I want to express my thoughts on the times where I feel joy in regards to my gender, because I don’t do that often enough, even though there are times where that emotion does overwhelm me, against the odds.

  1. When I sing a song, and my voice is right either between what people consider masculine and feminine sounding octaves, or more masuline. One of the constant thorns in my sides on the days I have any form of dysphoria, is the sound of my voice. If I take a phone call, sometimes I will make my voice lighter out of habit, because it is expected as a social norm. Furthermore, I am self conscious still when my voice sounds masculine around people I do not know, so in person, if I am nervous about a reaction, I will also do this then too. However, singing songs by Ed Sheeran, and other similar voices that tread that line helps, as I can form my voice in a way that does not adhere to the gender stereotypical binary when I do, or in a more masculine way.
  2. When people I know, or anyone really, uses my chosen name and proper pronouns, as opposed to my dead name, etc. My heart does leaps and bounds when I hear T.J. versus the name which shall not be spoken of. There are times where I have to go by my dead name and assigned at birth gender pronouns for legal or protection reasons, but otherwise, T.J. is the only name that feels like mine, and I become ecstatic knowing that people who have known me for years work to using it and my preferred/proper pronouns.
  3. When I am able to dress androgynously, or in a more masculine fashion, and no one bats an eye about it. There have been times where I have either dressed in a more masculine fashion, or androgynously, and I can visibly see that people are trying to figure out my assigned at birth gender, or they glare at me. It’s frustrating and scary. So, to be in an environment where I feel safe to express myself through what I wear, is everything to me.
  4. When I sign up for a new service or website, and Non-Binary is an option to denote my gender. As far as inclusion goes, I know society has miles to go, and that does frustrate me. However, it is exciting that larger websites such as Spotify and Pinterest have given that as an option. It makes my mind and heart soar.
  5. Discovering well done representation of Non-Binary people in any media form. I’ve mentioned before how the lack of Non-Binary rep is aggravating. However, this year I have been exposed to more than ever, and I am grateful to have discovered those few. Progress, even at a snail’s pace, is progress. I, for one, am grateful for it.

Gender Queer: A Memoir – A Book Review

I cannot express how elated I was to discover this graphic novel memoir on NetGalley. Reading the title felt like a beacon hailing me to shore, after a long, weary journey adrift at sea. Filled with equal amounts of excitement and apprehension, I downloaded it, hoping that it would live up to the expectations that roiled through me as I did.

Gender Queer: A Memoir is written and illustrated by a Nonbinary artist named Maia Kobabe, colored by Phoebe Kobabe. It follows eir journey through childhood up to present day where Kobabe has become confident in eir gender identity and expression. In accompaniment to the words, there are beautiful drawings that illustrate the peaks and pitfalls of being who e is.

As an AFAB, or Assigned Female At Birth, Nonbinary person myself, I deeply felt certain emotions that leapt off of each page in this book. Likewise, I believe that e exhibited all of the experiences well, so that even those who have not endured them, will understand. I will note though that I am not Asexual, nor do I use the same pronouns as the author. However, I did learn more about each aspect through this novel, so that in and of itself was an added bonus to picking it up.

I can say that without a doubt, I do recommend this work to everyone. If you’re questioning, or searching for Nonbinary or Genderqueer rep, then this is a wonderful one to choose. Likewise, if you’re wishing to be informed as an ally or learn of an experience outside of your own, then this novel can also be for you.

Overall, Gender Queer: A Memoir is a moving and well-illustrated graphic novel that I can see myself purchasing in the future to give to family members and friends. I feel this medium is the ideal one to tell the story that was presented. If any of this sounds up your alley in any way, then definitely consider buying a copy when it comes out on May 28th, 2019!

I rate this title 5/5 stars.

Disclaimer: I was given a free ARC of this title by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Why Harry Potter Is No Longer Relevant To Me

There was a time period during my earlier youth when I was obsessed with Harry Potter, as were a large majority of children around my age at that point. It began around seven or eight, and lasted up until about 19 or so, for me. I fancied myself an aficionado on all things Harry Potter related, and indeed I was knowledgeable about it in a certain factual sense. However, until The Cursed Child came into existence, as well as the subsequent casting of an actress of color for Hermione, I did not realize how ignorant I had been up until then. After much thought and research, I will explain why this series does not stand the test of time for me.

At the time of inception of this seven book series, matters regarding the LGBTQIA+ community had only really became mainstream in recent years. The Stonewall Inn riots had been a turning point, but there was much ground to be made still in regard to national and international media in the U.S., and worldwide respectively. The Philosopher’s Stone, after all, was published by Bloomsbury in London just a scant three months after Ellen had announced that she was indeed gay, back in 1997. Harry Potter, at its core, is a children’s series that can be enjoyed by all ages. It is, however, a product of its time. One where those who were not what mainstream media expected them to be, would more than likely flop. Ellen’s show, after all, was cancelled shortly after her admission. While that seems a world away, as well as not that long ago, times have changed much since that pivotal year.

In recent years though, J.K. Rowling has been criticized for her lack of diversity in the books, which as an adult well into their 20s, is not lost on me. However, had it been brought up years beforehand, I would not have understood the condemnations properly for what they were, because as has been pointed out, it is not simply about lack of LGBTQIA+ diversity, but of all sorts of missing representation for a series that supposedly has people in it from all over the world.

Moving back to The Cursed Child – it opened in the same month, ironically, 19 years after the first book in the original series had been released. To long time fans, given the casting news it had been a shock to the system, as we all digested the newest lore and content that had been released, albeit knowing that it had not been Rowling who singlehandedly had penned it. While the actors and others who created the play, I have no qualms with, I do however, reserve a certain frustration with the original series author, Mrs. J.K. Rowling herself.

Why, you might ask? Well, it’s plain and simple. Her excuse of the political climate as a reason she did not create a single drop of LGBTQIA+ diversity in the series might have flown back then, but in this day, it is a lack luster one, bordering on insulting. The Cursed Child, which was released in 2016, easily could have been imbued with some of our community’s flair. Was it? Of course it wasn’t, because her ally ship only goes so far as her tweets.

Talk is cheap, they say, and she has done a hefty amount of that in recent years. Back when the series concluded, collectively, the fandom was heartbroken, as it had been a part of our lives for years. That, was understandable. However, if we had known then what we do now, I wish that we had bit the bullet, and thanked her, then moved on our merry way to other books that actually represent a larger portion of her reader base, rather than continuing to harp on the point of wanting more. I owe that time period in large part to what my favorite childhood author has done thus far publicly.

Bear in mind, that I do not believe an author must include LGBTQIA+ people or people of color, various religions, etc. in any work. However, I find it disturbing that given the diversity of the world, that one could wish to sideline or exclude these narratives all together, or add them in after the fact as an aside, rather than have canon text to back the claim up. In that same vein, professing that the only characters who are queer, happen to be a Nazi, and a deeply flawed man? It’s ludicrous, as well as a dangerous message to send to future questioning children, or those who are straight and viewing queer people through media, as well as their own lens. That is a topic for another day though.

So, where does that leave me, a parent, who wishes to pass on only the best of literature to my daughter, who is learning about the world around her, including history of those who came before us? While I have two choices, I can only condone one – shedding the attachments of my earlier years, in hope that I am able to find and boost works that show people of all kinds, rather than exclude them as so many other media forms have done before.

J.K. Rowling and the series of Harry Potter is not inherently bad, and I do still find value in it. Likewise, I did indeed learn from it, both what to do and what not to. However, given the lack of diversity across the board, it is one that I no longer care to uplift.