Author Interview: Chace Verity

Hey, everyone! This week, I’m very excited to welcome my friend and writing buddy Chasia to my blog for an author interview. Enjoy!

Hi, Chasia, and welcome!

Thanks for having me!

Can you tell my readers a little about yourself?

I’m Chasia, pen name Chace Verity, and I’m an American citizen and Canadian permanent resident. When not writing or working a people-job, I’m reading or playing video games or watching Korean dramas & variety shows.

Can you talk a little about your inspiration for your debut novella TEAM PHISON?

It started with me overhearing two guys chatting in a multiplayer game my husband was playing. One guy had a thick country accent and was super new to the game. He kept asking questions, apologizing, etc. The other guy was very polite to him and got embarrassed every time New Guy thanked him for helping him. It’s rare to see such genuine kindness in online games between two strangers. The team ended up losing the mission, but Nice Guy was the last one standing, and New Guy was super impressed with him. It was hard to forget such a sweet interaction.

Any upcoming projects you can talk about? (Or give a sneak peak of? 😉

Here’s a short chapter from my upcoming fantasy novella, My Heart Is Ready (out December 15, 2017)!

Lester liked the crown of wildflowers woven through the strawberry farmer’s hair.

Neither of the human twins had noticed him spying on them.

Lester listened to their argument with his claws digging into the topmost branch of the twisty orange maple tree. The high noon sunlight bounced off the harpy’s golden wings and shielded him in a protective glow.

Humans had the best gossip. Even when the secrets themselves weren’t terribly interesting, humans had a way of packing intense emotions into them. Rumors and speculation would crackle in the harpy’s head and send a delightful buzz through his body.

Harpies had evolved quite a bit from their days of stealing food out of humans’ hands. Now, they stole their words.

The twins had many remarks between them. Lester didn’t understand them all, but he understood the emotions. Despair. Exasperation. Confusion.

Anyone passing by might have noticed the emotions, too. This particular farm in northern Florea was famed for its rainbow strawberries. The colors changed depending on the mood in the air. Currently, all the strawberries in the patch were a solemn shade of midnight blue. Even the pixies flitting around the fields had lost some of their glitter.

“What is an Absolute?” asked the sister, throwing her hands in the air. “There’s something more to this arrangement than being some fancy knight, isn’t there? You’ve never wanted to be a knight before.”

“Doesn’t matter,” her brother retorted. “Think of the money we’re getting. You’ll be so happy at Rosales. It’s what we’ve always wanted.”

The young woman with long, black hair had the most adorable glare. Her sunburned cheeks puffed out like a chipmunk.

Lester adjusted the rusty metal coronet on his head. In addition to being one of the rare males in his species, he had arms as well as wings. Said arms came from his human father.

No other harpy was like him. He was the king of harpies.

A glimmer of interest in finding a queen ran through him every time the woman cursed at her brother. He had observed this woman a few times while perching from this tree, and she had always looked standoffish. She never interacted with the farm’s visitors, never played with the pixies, never smiled.

It was interesting to see her so animated now.

“I’d rather not get an education at the expense of your happiness,” she said, circling her brother.

“Who said I’m unhappy?”

“Our parents gladly accept your farce, but I know you better than them. Stop lying to me. Why do the Absolutes want a peasant who has never held a sword in his life?”

“I’m good with a sickle,” he said. “No one can cut grains faster than me.”

She stopped in her tracks. “I can.”

“Besides you.”

“You love being on the farm. Why are you really going with them?”

The brother clenched his jaw. The man had attractive qualities in his doughy face, a handsome rogue similar to a magpie. Lester, queer in every aspect of his life, didn’t mind the prospect of a king or a nonbinary regent at his side, but he was currently more drawn to the woman with exquisite biceps.

“I owe the queen, you know,” the brother said. “I’ll visit you at Rosales when I can. Say, when do you leave? Next week?

Lester cocked his head to the side. Were the twins affiliated with Haveri? What could this man owe the Crow Queen?

The possibilities rattled through Lester’s brain like tiny bolts of lightning and caused the feathers along his legs to stiffen.

Goddess, rumors were magnificent.

So was this muscular woman with flowers in her hair.

Perhaps Lester could impress the strawberry farmer by finding out what an Absolute was for her.

What does your writing process look like in general?

Outrageously chaotic. Often, I write a few chapters, get a good foundation going, and then drop the project for several months while I think more on it. If I have an outline, I can hammer out the whole thing in a short time. But I rarely have the patience to sit down and outline a story.

On a more technical level, I do almost everything in Scrivener. Draft, revise, edit, etc. I share works on Google Docs to be critiqued, but I retype everything in Scrivener. If I need to jot down ideas or lines while I’m away from my computer, I send an e-mail to myself on my phone.

Any favorite snacks for when you’re writing?

Is coffee a snack? XD I’ve been trying to eat healthier – I’ve swapped candy-while-writing for banana-chips-while-writing. Sometimes I go radical and get yogurt-covered pretzels for a snack.

What are your favorite books at the moment?

I’m currently captivated by Diana Wynne Jones’s Reflections: On the Magic of Writing. This series of essays is really enlightening, especially for anyone who writes for kids. It’s a different sort of writing advice because it’s not meant to be writing advice; you just happen to learn from her observations.

Where can readers find you and your work?

The latest information about my stuff can be found on Goodreads or on my Twitter! I’m also a part of the Crystal Queer Patreon.

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Short Fiction Contest Winner: Bob’s Bones

I’m very excited to share with you the winning story of the short fiction contest written by Kelvin Woelk! Enjoy.


I claimed the last two top beside the big window, since no other tables were open. Maybe a cute girl would come in. I could offer the empty chair.
The door opened and a skeleton entered, toe bones clacking loudly across the wood floor.
 
I looked around. No one else seemed to notice as the skeleton approached the blackboard menu, the items written in white as if it had scraped them onto it with its own bony finger. It stepped up to the ordering counter, and the barista nodded and tapped her own finger against a screen, her face bathed in a light blue aura. The skeleton stepped politely to the side. I noticed it had offered no form of payment, nor seemingly had one been demanded.
 
A minute later, it crossed into the room where I sat, its head turning this way and that, plate and cup held in place with bleached curled knuckles. I realized, with mild panic, that it was looking for a place to sit. I looked down, hoping to avoid giving any kind of signal, hoping a seat might open somewhere far away.
 
But we had made whatever substitutes for eye contact when you look at a skeleton and it looks back at you with round black empty sockets. It clattered over, setting the cup and saucer down and placing a bony hand on the empty chair.
 
“Do you mind?” The lower jaw moved like a bad special effect. Before I could answer, it pulled the chair back and slipped between it and the table, with a sound like someone losing at Jenga.
 
“I’m Bob,” it said, finger bones extended, thumb bone pointing up. I could see only those two empty circles, black as night, but it seemed to be seeing me just as I was seeing it.
 
This is how it ends, I thought. In a coffee shop, shaking the offered hand of death who, frankly, can’t even come up with an interesting fake name. Probably moonlights as tech support. Of course, if you’re Death, it probably matters even less what you call yourself.
 
I reached out and felt the cold hard bones wrap around my own warm, soft flesh.
 
“I love the smell of coffee, don’t you?” the skeleton said, releasing its grip and raising its two empty nostril holes.
 
“More so than the taste,” I said calmly, expecting each word to be my last.
 
“Spoken like a tea man,” it replied, directing its two black voids toward my hands wrapped around the white porcelain cup. “Coffee’s not to everyone’s taste. But nice on a day like today.”
 
It raised its cup to approximate lip position and held it there.
 
It took me a few seconds to realize that it was blowing—or trying to—across the steaming liquid. It made no sense of course. But the day had already pegged high on the weirdness scale.
 
I watched with cringing fascination as it took a long sip. The dark liquid dropped out the bottom of its skull, splashing its spine, ribs and pelvic bones before dropping wetly onto the chair and floor. The skeleton looked down, then at me, shrugged and said, “It’s alright, they know me here.”
 
Feeling I had nothing to lose, I took a deep breath.
 
“So”, I said. “As much as the whole cloak and scythe thing seems a bit tired, it’s what most of us are conditioned to expect. However, I find this in between motif kind of half-hearted. No offense.”
 
Genuine puzzlement seemed to emanate from inside those black round voids.
 
“What?” it said, its jaw moving slightly and emitting a single clack. “What, the death thing again? I’m just a regular Joe, like you. I was coming from an appointment with my orthopedist when I spotted this place. I thought a coffee sounded nice. Not that my opinion matters, but you’ll live out the day, I’m pretty sure.”
 
“And tomorrow?”
 
It shrugged again. “Beats me. But no one gets out alive, am I right?”
 
“Anyway,” I said, “the orthopedist bit is pretty funny.”
 
The look now directed at me, combined with accompanying silence, was most unnerving.
 
“Lack of soft tissue is no joke, my friend,” the skeleton said. “Walk around without cartilage for a couple of days. You’ll regret it faster than than you can crack your knuckles. Would you excuse me for a moment? That’s the one thing about coffee I don’t love. Goes right through me.”
I easily stifled my laughter this time. The skeleton slipped from behind the table and headed toward the bathrooms. People in the ordering line moved aside, politely letting it pass. As it turned the corner out of sight, I considered going straight home to lie down. Maybe when I woke up—if I did—things would make sense again. But almost immediately, the walking boneyard was back at the table.
 
“Well, I think I better get going.” It again raised its cup, teeth clinking against the edge, and I watched the last of the coffee follow the predictable path, with predictable results.
 
“I kind of barged in,” it said putting the cup down, “but you seemed like a nice guy. Perhaps we’ll meet here again sometime.”
 
It stepped in the puddle as if hardly noticing it, turned and walked toward the door and opened it. A blast of outside air moved across my body, sending a cold shiver through my flesh. The skeleton stepped over the threshold, and I heard the latch quietly engage.
 
A girl approached pushing a yellow bucket on wheels, holding onto a long wooden mop handle. The wheels made a pleasing sound as they rolled over the wood floor. It was, finally, time to go.
 
 The girl began mopping around my feet. I stood up and gazed out the window, hoping to convince myself of what had just taken place. But no tracks appeared in the snow that was re-painting the sidewalk white, and I did not see the skeleton then or ever again.

SONY DSCKelvin Woelk has throughout his life held various job titles including, but not limited to, grocery clerk, hospital clerk, electronic technician, and technical writer. He currently lives in northern Colorado where he helps maintain the website for a small independent bookstore and to connect people with good books. Kelvin also enjoys photography, sending and receiving hand-written letters, playing ping pong, and trying his hand at writing short stories and non-fiction for younger readers. You can find a few other examples of his work, for better or worse, at www.birdseyetravels.wordpress.com.

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 Upheaval

These past 2 months have been incredibly busy. My work transferred me to another location and gave me 4 weeks to pack everything up, make all the arrangements I had to make, and then move. They wanted to give me 2 weeks, but that was a little much…

So, now I’m here in the new location, which is actually in my old stomping grounds where I grew up. It’s surreal being back in an employed capacity. I’m used to just swooping in for quick visits, so it’s taking some getting used to actually being back.

But it feels so, so good.

I’m back on the query wagon for my book and I’ve started writing a new one! It’s amazing how creative I can be when I’m in a place that’s more suited to me.

I’m back, baby! And I’m happy!

An Unfortunate Year

I tend to write here only when I have something to say and lately… that just hasn’t been the case.

But I’m still alive and kickin’ and hoping all of you are having less existential dread than I am.

On a personal level, life is good. I have two new projects going. One is a new book and the other is top secret for now. They’re both going swimmingly.

How is life for you?

The Dreaming

Dusty cardboard boxes loomed over me in the attic of my late grandparents’ house. With a sigh I grabbed the nearest one and opened it. I hoped for treasure and instead found moth-eaten, ancient-looking nightgowns. A growl rumbled in my throat.

This was useless. How did my mom ever expect me to find anything up here?

I kicked the box down the steps.

“Watch it!” Mom’s good-natured voice, tinged with amusement, called up from below. “You nearly decapitated me.”

“At least then I wouldn’t have to go through this shit,” I muttered under my breath.

I trudged the length of the attic, nudging box after box with my foot. They probably all had stupid things in them. My grandma couldn’t even pack away her clothes right. Everything else was probably ruined, too.

Dust motes danced in the weak stream of sunlight coming from the small window at the far end of the room. The dust tickled my nose and I sneezed. Wiping my nose on the back of my arm, I moved closer to the window.

The outer pane of glass was cracked. The spiderwebbed pattern broke my view of the yard into little slivers that almost made a complete picture. My baby brother played in the yard with my dad. All the work left to us women, as usual for my family.

Anger coursed through me and I kicked the nearest box as hard as I could. Jewelry skittered across the floor from the newly split cardboard. Shiny fake jewels and cheap gold caught the dim light and gleamed. A pale silver ring rolled out and stopped at my feet. I crouched down and touched it.

I woke up in a pool of sweat, my mind sluggish, my skin hot and taut. My sheets were bunched around me and I shivered. I pushed back the covers and tried to stand, but my legs gave out. With a crash, I fell to the floor. Mom came running in.

“Oh, baby.” She held my arm and helped me back into bed. “Just lie down and rest.”

“Bathroom,” I gasped. She helped me to the bathroom. My legs shook violently from the effort and I shivered uncontrollably in the cold air. Mom changed my sheets while I did my business.

When I was done, I looked at myself in the mirror. Greasy hair plastered to my skin. Dark circles under my eyes. Haggard and sickly. I brought my hand up to push my hair back. The ring was on my pinky finger.

I didn’t remember putting the ring on. The last thing I remembered was touching it, and then I woke up at home.

I pulled the ring off and left it on the counter. After washing my hands, Mom helped me stagger back to bed where I fell into a deep sleep.

My head was clear the next time I woke up. And I wasn’t soaked and shivering, which was an improvement. I sat up and swung my feet to the floor. Taking a deep breath, I tested my weight. They felt solid under me and I made it to the bathroom on my own this time.

The ring still sat on the counter where I left it. I didn’t touch it. Something was off about that thing.

Mom came in with a breakfast tray. Scrambled eggs and ginger ale. Yum.

She helped me get comfortable and sat on the edge of my bed while I ate.

“How are you feeling, sweetie?”

“Better,” I said. Raising the fork to my mouth was tiring. “Tired. How long have I been sick?”

“Only a few days. Probably that bug that’s been going around.” She smoothed my hair back and smiled. Memories of the ring flashed in my mind. I wasn’t sure I believed her. “Just keep resting and you’ll be better in no time.” By the time I was done eating, I was ready to go back to sleep.

I dreamed about a room. Dark. Walls with peeling paint. A small, barred window with missing glass. A single chair sitting in the middle. The chair had a metal frame and a ripped vinyl cushion. I didn’t want to go near it.

A man entered the room. I didn’t know how because there were no doors, but one minute he wasn’t there, and then… he was.

I wasn’t even sure that “man” was the right description for him. He felt male, but he was more smudgy black smoke than man.

“I want my property back,” he said.

This is just a dream, I thought.

“Is it?” he asked. I was confused. Maybe I’d said that out loud?

Yes, I thought, careful this time not to say it out loud.

“If you say so,” he said. “Give me the ring.”

Or what, I thought.

He didn’t answer. Instead, spiders swarmed out of a crack in the corner of the room. My skin crawled just looking at them.

Maybe that’s where he came from, I thought before my blood ran cold. I hated spiders. My heart raced, sending shards of ice through my veins.

I woke up in pain but my first thought was: How am I going to get that ring into my dream?

The ring sat on the counter, pale silver against the dark countertop. I was afraid to touch it, but I wouldn’t have been able to say why. It seemed to have a life of its own and I was quite looking forward to being rid of it. If only I could figure out how. I slipped it into a small velvet bag without touching it and put it in my pocket.

Like other moments in my life when I was faced with a problem I couldn’t solve on my own, I went to the library. I was on the tail end of whatever this sickness was, but I needed to figure this problem out. Mom agreed to let me go if I promised to take it easy and call her the first moment I started feeling tired.

I holed up in the fairy tale section, scouring the books for stories about magic rings and dreams. After a couple hours, my eyes burned and my hands were dry and I was no closer to finding a solution. It was no use. I slammed the book shut and pushed it away from me. I propped my head up, hands pressed to my eyes.

A shadow loomed over me.

“Do you need some help?” His voice was smudged smoke and creeping things that crawl from dark corners. I didn’t need to look at him to know him.

Staring at the table, I reached deep into my pocket and pulled out the velvet bag. I held it out to the side and then it was gone.

“You have no idea what you possessed and gave to me so freely.” Faint laughter met my ears.

When I turned my head to say something to him, I was alone except for a sinking feeling that I’d done something very wrong.


Originally published on burntheboxdown.wordpress.com for the prompt “a stolen ring, a fear of spiders, and a sinister stranger.”

The Hanging Tree

The night pressed down heavy on the men traipsing through the dark forest. The forest was still, expectant. Their swords jostled at their sides. Their boots crunched on the leaves covering the forest floor. An occasional curse hovered in the air when a root rose up to trip one of them.

It was a night all of them dreaded.

The clearing was empty when they came upon it. Grass grew in tufts, silvery gray in the moonlight. The Hanging Tree, gnarled and ancient, loomed in the middle. Its branches like fingers, reaching out for them.

It knew why they had come here.

They’d not been standing there long, huddled in a group, eyes fixed on the forest around them, when a woman glided into the clearing. Her white dress glowed in the moonlight, accentuating her swelling belly.

“You came,” she said. Her voice was quiet and breathless in the dark night beneath the trees.

The group whirled around. One man’s mouth opened into a surprised o, his hand pressed to his heart.

“Who are your friends?” she asked. She looked from one to another, her eyebrows knit together in confusion. They were meant to meet alone. His friends shivered and moved closer together, their hands near their weapons.

He ignored her question.

“I’ve come to say goodbye,” he said instead. His voice was not quite friendly.

She grew still, her face stony and impassive.

“Did you honestly think I’d run away with you? That I could love you?” His words cut through her.

“Yes.” Her voice was as quiet as the wind sighing between the trees. She placed her left hand on her stomach.

“Well… I don’t. I just wanted to have some fun, but you’re turning into more trouble than you’re worth. It was never going to happen.”

He looked to his friends, who nodded their support. His family had spoken sense into him that morning and his friends had been sent with him to the meeting. He took another breath and opened his mouth, but she spoke before he could.

“You’re right. I should have known you could never love me.” She smiled. “But I won’t have us leave here as enemies. Will you walk with me?”

She reached out her hands to him. Without even a moment’s hesitation, he took them. His friends tried to stop him, but she held him tightly. They disappeared into the trees.

A single scream broke through the thick silence. Everyone living near the forest shivered and shuttered their windows against the night. They knew what that scream meant, even if they were too young to have heard it before. But they also knew that the one who dwelled in the forest did not take things that were not hers.

The man’s friends hung their heads, knowing in their hearts that he was lost. As one, they left the forest, trudging home to deliver the news that they could not save him. Just as the men before them could not save the last one.

Tomorrow, they would return to gather his body from the Hanging Tree. He would be wizened and ancient, like the tree itself. And, like the tree, he would now forever belong to the forest.


Originally posted by me on https://burntheboxdown.wordpress.com/