The Lies of Locke Lamora Readalong

I’m really excited to announce that I’ll be co-hosting a readalong of THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA with Kara Seal (@KRwriter) over on Twitter! It’s my first time doing anything like this, and I really hope you can join us and help make this a success.

The book (blurb from Barnes and Noble): An orphan’s life is harsh—and often short—in the mysterious island city of Camorr. But young Locke Lamora dodges death and slavery, becoming a thief under the tutelage of a gifted con artist. As leader of the band of light-fingered brothers known as the Gentleman Bastards, Locke is soon infamous, fooling even the underworld’s most feared ruler. But in the shadows lurks someone still more ambitious and deadly. Faced with a bloody coup that threatens to destroy everyone and everything that holds meaning in his mercenary life, Locke vows to beat the enemy at his own brutal game—or die trying.

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It’s been a while since I read this (at least 10 years…) but I remember it being really twisty and bloody and amazing. I used to try to convince all of my friends to read it, too.

The readalong begins on February 4, with weekly chats on Friday evenings at 8pm EST.

The schedule:
Week 1: Prologue–Interlude “Locke Stays for Dinner”
Week 2: Chapter 3–Chapter 5
Week 3: Interlude “Jean Tannen”–Interlude “The Schoolmaster of Roses”
Week 4: Chapter 10–Chapter 14
Week 5: Remainder of the book

I hope to see you all for the first Twitter chat at 8pm EST on February 9! Don’t forget to use the hashtag @LiesofLockeLamora.

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Asexuality in Mainstream Media

Every time I hear there’s going to be a new asexual character in mainstream media, I get really excited… Until I remember what most allosexuals think of aces.

The most recent gut-punches came from two of my favorite authors.

The first: VE Schwab confirmed on twitter that Victor Vale will come out as asexual in VENGEFUL, the sequel to VICIOUS. Sadly, this characterization falls into some bad tropes in ace rep and while Victor Vale is one of my favorite characters, I’m not excited about this new development. So much so, I’m considering skipping the sequel entirely.

The second: I read RAMONA BLUE by Julie Murphy. This book is an amazing story for people questioning their sexual orientation and the main character’s arc is dealt with beautifully, but the asexual character is portrayed as unfeeling, hating everyone, and at the end she cries “actual human tears.”

I’m really tired of getting my hopes up when I hear about a new ace character and then having the representation be so poor. If you’re considering writing an ace character, keep reading for pitfalls and bad tropes to avoid.

Bad Asexual Tropes

Being associated with death:  Aces are just normal people living their lives how they deem best for them. This weird association between lack of sexual attraction and death is harmful because it tells aces that the only place they can be themselves is in the realm of death. And that is blatantly untrue.

Being unfeeling: All emotions don’t stem from lustful feelings. Just because someone doesn’t experience sexual attraction doesn’t mean they don’t experience a full range of emotions.

Being less than human:  Unfortunately, there’s a feeling among allosexual people that if a person doesn’t experience sexual desires, there is something deeply wrong with them and they aren’t quite human. Sexual desire is not a trait that makes someone human and to insinuate that is pretty awful.

Being frigid: Again, aces experience a full range of emotions just like everyone else. And yes, there are sex-repulsed aces, buuuut there are also allos who are sex-repulsed or touch-averse. This isn’t an inherently ace trait, but it seems to be mostly applied as such.

So what can you do?

If you’re thinking of writing an ace character, RESEARCH. I can’t emphasize how important that is. Read academic articles. Read experiences written by ace people. If you’re confused about something, reach out. And if you think you know enough to start writing, research some more because I guarantee you, there’s always more to learn.

Just remember that asexuality is not a monolith. There’s an entire spectrum and every experience is varied and valid.

Life Updates

I know I haven’t been around at all in a while… I was really upset about the terrorist attacks in so many places last year and I needed some time to sort myself out.

Things are… okay. On a large scale, I’m worried for the future of my country. I’m worried for refugees and immigrants and people of color and, basically, anyone who is different. On a small scale, I’m muddling through in a place where I don’t fit in.

Words are now my saving grace.

I finished a new book and I’m plotting another. I’m thinking about getting back into journaling and maybe today’s the day I’ll finally put pen to paper. I’ve been told I need to work on my communication skills, even if that just means putting my thoughts to paper and hiding them away from the world.

I’ve read 7 books since the start of the new year, and I’m really proud of that. I’m finally finding balance for my own writing, beta reading for my critique partners, and reading published books. It’s a good feeling.

I’m working on taking care of myself. Eating right, some light exercise, not staying up too late. It’s a struggle, but I’m trying to make good decisions everywhere I can. And that’s all it is. One good decision after another, but sometimes it’s so hard.

How is life treating you? Let me know down in the comments!

Reading Challenge March Roundup

Happy April! Here are the spoiler-free reviews for the books I read during March. It was a mixed bag of good and not-so-good books. What are you reading right now?

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A Book by a Female Author: Glitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan

This memoir skillfully intertwines Corrigan’s youthful summer as a nanny in a motherless household in Australia with her growing acceptance and appreciation for her own mother. I loved this book. I couldn’t relate to the prickly relationship Corrigan had with her mom, but I could certainly relate to appreciating mothers. And this book was worth the read if for no other reason than I now know that grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are a delicious thing that exist. That recipe was definitely my take-away message.

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A Book Originally in another Language: Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Haruki Murakami

The short stories in this book were mostly bittersweet and bleak. There were a couple upbeat stories that I enjoyed, but for the most part I was left feeling very empty. Murakami has beautiful descriptions and is a master at capturing moments on the page. His stories read like films in my mind and the bleak landscape of feeling won’t soon leave me. Despite his skill, however, I often found myself not enjoying the stories simply because I didn’t want to be feeling the emotions he portrays. I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book.

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A Book with More than 500 Pages: Runemarks by Joanne Harris

I was really excited to read this book because it delves into Norse mythology, but I ended up being disappointed in its execution. The plot deals with the aftermath of Ragnarok and follows 14-year-old Maddy in the subsequent world that arises. The world-building was confusing and despite the lengthy explanations at the beginning, I still felt lost throughout most of the book. I found myself skimming most of the book because I wanted to know the ending but didn’t want to invest much time in it. Overall, not a successful book for me.

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A Book Written by an Author with your Initials: In Secret Service by Mitch Silver

This was a fun thriller about a woman who finds a lost manuscript that puts her in danger as people hunt her to get it back. For me, it needed some suspension of disbelief after one of the bad guys is revealed, but I really enjoyed the book! Great storytelling, interesting frame to the story, and a main character I connected with. I recommend this one!

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A Book by an Author You’ve Never Read Before: Alibi Junior High by Greg Logsted

This middle grade novel follows Cody Saron, the son of a CIA operative, as he begins attending school for the first time in his life. Cody knows how to pick locks and fight, but the skills needed to navigate the halls of junior high often elude him. This story was really fun! I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Cody’s travails and triumphs as he learns to be a kid again. The climax flew by too quickly for my liking and was a bit contrived, but that doesn’t take away from the charm of this novel. Highly recommend for a quick, entertaining read!

On Responsible Writing

I am completely against censorship in all its forms. I feel like I have to put that out there in the beginning of this post in order to have a conversation about responsible writing without being misunderstood.

Fifty-Shades-of-GreyFor the book challenge I’m doing, one of the prompts is to read a trilogy. I’ve heard terrible things about the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy but I’m a believer in reading something for myself before forming an opinion. So, I checked it out of the library and got about a quarter of the way through the book before I was so disgusted with the emotional abuse that I stopped reading it.

With the movie coming out this weekend, there’s been a lot of hype and renewed criticism surrounding the story. It got me thinking about censorship versus being responsible with your writing.

I think it’s really important to be aware of what you’re writing in terms of what it glorifies and what it condemns. Fifty Shades of Grey is an easy example of this. EL James wrote it as a romantic relationship with lots of steamy adult time. What I got from it, and I know I’m not alone in my viewpoint, is that it glories abusive relationships.

Do I think the book should be banned or censored? No.

Do I think James should have been more responsible in how she wrote the book in the first place? Yes.

We are responsible for the stories/music/films/artwork we create and bring into this world. From interviews I’ve seen with James, I don’t believe she wrote her novels maliciously, and I think she serves as a warning to make sure your work truly matches your vision before releasing it into the world.

What are your thoughts about writing responsibly? I’d love to hear your points of view!

Book Challenge–January Roundup 2

Here are some more spoiler-free reviews of the books I’m reading for the 2015 Book Challenge! What books are you reading right now?

warm bodiesA book turned into a movie: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion
A zombie love story? Yes, please. This novel follows a zombie named R as he falls in love with a human named Julie and they change the world. Marion somehow manages to make his debut novel gruesome and romantic at the same time. I loved this quirky romance with its exploration of what makes us human. Awesome read.

gone girlA thriller: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
This novel follows the story of a man whose wife goes missing and the hell he endures as he’s accused of her murder. I never connected with any of the characters but I finished the book because I needed to know what happened. The ending was anticlimactic and I was left feeling very creeped out and unsatisfied. I appreciate the skill that went into weaving this story, but overall I didn’t like the book.

hellblazerA book based on or turned into a tv show: Hellblazer: Original Sins by Jamie Delano and John Ridgeway (Illustrator)
I read this compilation of Hellblazer comics because I love the new show ‘Constantine.’ The comic follows John Constantine, a demon hunter and magician, as he finds himself in the middle of supernatural events and tries to restore the balance between heaven and hell. Although the characterization of John Constantine is significantly different between the comics and the show (and I prefer the more altruistic version of him in the show), I appreciate both incarnations. I’ll definitely be reading more of the comic book compilations and am looking forward to seeing more of the show! Highly recommend.

HVZAA graphic novel: Hudson Valley Zombie Apocalypse by Linda Zimmermann, Don E Smith (Editor), Nick Mockoviak (Illustrator)
I got this out of the library thinking it would be a novel. To my surprise, it turned out to be the companion comic to the novel (which I will be reading as soon as I track down a copy!) I liked this comic book, but felt a bit lost sometimes. The comics offer short vignettes about minor characters in the book as they deal with the zombie apocalypse overtaking the Hudson Valley (and beyond). There were a couple story lines that were incredibly poignant and I enjoyed those the most. I thought they were a beautiful departure from the usual gore in zombie stories.