Breaking Bricks (not bones)

When I tested for my black belt in June, one requirement was to try to break a brick. I did try, and I failed, and while I still got my black belt, that failure hung over my head.

I’ll admit, I didn’t go in with the best of attitudes. You may or may not remember my post on Commit to the Kick. When trying to break a brick (or a board), commitment is one of the key parts of the technique. If you don’t go all in–think it’s the board or the hand–then the thing’s not gonna break.

I didn’t go all in. I was scared, I’ll admit it. I have issues with my joints in my hands and my elbows, and I was terrified to risk damage. I need my hands for my job. So I psyched myself out. I used a technique that wasn’t a good technique for me (but was safer for my hand), and I did my damnedest, but it did not work.

Master Yun told us that he’d give us another chance, do a brick breaking workshop later in the summer. That workshop was last night.

I was terrified. I was in tears (which is embarrassing as hell, to be in tears on the TKD mats, I DID NOT LIKE). But I thought I had to use a hand. I wanted to use a foot. Because I can go all in with my feet. They don’t scare me. I’m more than willing to go with all the power and break my foot if I need to.

If I tried with a hand, it was never going to happen. I’d psyched myself out. I knew I couldn’t risk injury. I knew I wouldn’t put all the possible power behind it because I didn’t trust myself.

But I rerouted, talked technique, and I found the right technique for me. During black belt testing I had done a break through 2 boards with a step-up side kick. This was significant because they very first break I ever attempted as a yellow belt was a step-up side and I had never done one on the first try before black belt testing. In fact, I was known for stating I hated the side kick. So I chose that break very much on purpose, as a rite of passage and a way of coming full circle and blowing past the first thing that blocked me in my TKD career. And those two boards shattered easily.

So last night I went after that brick with a step-up side kick.

And it broke.

So, here’s the next lesson from TKD: Know yourself, and if one technique doesn’t work, try another. In fact, learn what your go-to techniques are and keep those waiting, in case you need to be pulled out of a corner you’ve written yourself into.

This doesn’t mean don’t take risks. DO take risks. Try new things. Test your limits. But sometimes, if you can’t get past a block, retreat back into the toolbox and find that thing that works and use it. Get your confidence back, then start taking risks again.

Because remember, that thing in your toolbox was once something new to you… it was once a risk you took until you made it yours. Just like my side kick was once a failure and is now my go-to killer kick, that technique might surprise you and become that thing you always want to use.

Don’t give up. You’ll find your killer technique too, and you’ll break your brick (whether it’s physical or metaphorical).

P.S. I can’t seem to upload the video here, so I’ll try to post it on my FB page later today!

Posted in Real Life, Tae Kwon Do | Tagged | 2 Comments

Reading! Signing! Cookies! (+apology)

First things first: I will be at Flights of Fantasy in Albany, NY on Sunday at 4pm to read and talk and sign copies of my book! Please come out and join us there and enjoy cookies! I will have buttons to giveaway and the aforementioned cookies (Chick’s in the kitchen whipping up another flavor for me to bring).

After the signing we will be going out to dinner at NinetyNine and anyone is welcome to join us and keep up the chatter!

And now the apology… I haven’t yet had time to get in contact with contest winners, and that is TOTALLY my fault. Life has been crazy busy at work, and my stress level skyrocketed… then I went on vacation and pretty much dropped out of everything for a week.

However, the vacation helped the stress some, and I’m slowly managing to get my brain back online and hope to get things done (like contest winners and posts about writing and maybe even some fic if you watch my tumblr). With luck you’ll hear more from me soon!

In the meantime, come visit me in Albany!! I hope to see you there.

Posted in Administrivia, Public Appearances, Real Life, Release Celebration | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Interviewed By Death! (And other Things)

I’ve been quiet because life away from the online world has been absolutely crazy. The list of posts I owe (and things I need to do) is crazy long! But I just wanted to quickly let you know about a couple of things that have happened online since I was last here.

Harmony Ink Press did a series of Author Spotlight posts throughout March and mine posted on March 23rd. So you can go read all about me!

Also, Jordan has been interviewed by Death!

Jackie Morse Kessler, author of the Riders of the Apocalypse series, has a fake online-talk radio show, Post Mortem, where Death (yes, one of the Riders) interviews fictional characters. Jordan’s interview posted yesterday!

Coming soon, I’m taking part in the Writing Process Blog Hop, and I’m already late posting! That will be up just as soon as I can finish it up.

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Why A Midsummer Night’s Dream?

JB asked in a comment: Did you feel naturally drawn to telling a trans* character’s story through/with Shakespeare? Were the World Mine, for example, felt very natural for a gay romance because of the original concept of Shakespeare’s productions, with all the parts being played by males, and because A Midsummer Night’s Dream’s male characters seem, at least to me, at least a little inherently fey (literally and in personality traits). I mean, there’s even a gay joke in one of the protagonist’s names: Bottom, which makes me giggle on the inside every time I say or read it. What about Midsummer inspired you to tell Jordan’s specific story, if anything?

It was actually the combination of Dream and Twelfth Night, which is how Pepper’s involvement in the play came about with her writing the mash-up.

I have always wanted to write a YA story with Dream as a backdrop, in part because it had a big influence on one particular fall semester of my own high school life, and in part because of other stories I saw which had been influenced by it (although not Were the World Mine; I actually watched that on Netflix either after Jordan’s story was written or after it was plotted, I don’t remember exactly). There is something about Puck’s magic that has always drawn me in, and to me, Dream seems to be the epitome of the concept of Fairy magic gone wrong. And that lies at the root of the Shakespearean comedy, where everything seems so simple on the surface, but then nothing is exactly as it seems.

And that theme is perfect for Jordan’s story, except… Dream doesn’t have the gender themes that appear elsewhere in Shakespeare’s work. For that I needed to dig into Twelfth Night, which I fell in love with when I was just a kid and saw it performed. I always loved the character of Viola/Cesario, and the questions that the role brought up along with the mistaken identity and the questions of what it meant to fall in love.

I knew Viola was what I wanted to use as my device for Jordan’s story, but I wanted to mix that with the actual magic of Puck. Which meant, for me, rereading both plays and extracting what I needed from them (I carried around both scripts in my laptop bag for months, actually, with notes scribbled in the margins).

For me, in the end, the real root was Shakespeare himself. The stories he told were more than just comedies or histories or tragedies. He included social commentary couched in entertainment, and he was brilliant for it. And some roles, like Viola, were already very meta just by their creation: every actor in the play was male, so there was a male, playing a female character, who then played a male role during the course of the play. He poked at gender roles constantly, just as he poked at the fickleness of human emotion. He was a natural fit for a play that push at those boundaries, which then allowed for the story to be told around it.

Also, that was an awesome question, and one I really enjoyed answering! And if I didn’t actually say enough, please poke at my words and ask new questions. 🙂 Sometimes I forget things. Okay, often I forget things, I have a brain like swiss cheese.

Thank you for stopping by to chat!

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Where did Jordan come from?

I answered this Ask on tumblr, and since I wrote a rambling essay instead of a quick response, I wanted to post it here as well.

christophermossworld asked: OK, you’re on. I’ll ask. How ddid you get to bee so brilliant? I am reading “If We Shadows”, and I’m blown away. What a perfect use of the gender beending in Shakespeare. And how do you know what it’s like to be me, a transman? Seriously, how did you come to write Jordan?

First things first: THANK YOU. I’m seriously blushing, and so thrilled that you like Jordan and his story. He is a character of my heart and I was so nervous and have been happy with how people have received him.

I’ve taken three days to answer this because the short version is: it’s complicated. The slightly longer version (still minus all the details) is that every writer has something they do well, and something they have to learn… for me, characters have always been the thing I can create, and plot is my serious weakness. So it’s actually difficult for me to explain exactly where Jordan came from, but I’ll try.

Most of this is going to come through a filter created decades ago, before vocabulary became what it is now, and I apologize if any of it is offensive by today’s standards. I am trying to explain through the way I saw the world (and was taught to see the world) as a child, because in the end, that’s a lot of where Jordan came from.

(This got long, let me put in a “more” thingy so it doesn’t take over everyone’s dash…)

Continue reading

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Reading & Signing at Flights of Fantasy

I have scheduled a reading & signing at Flights of Fantasy in Albany, NY on Sunday, April 27th, at 4pm. Yes, it’s so new that it isn’t even on the schedule yet.

Come and see me! Get a button! Have cookies! (Trust me, the cookies are worth it). Also visit an awesome genre bookstore with a staff that really knows their SF&F, YA, romance, and mystery. New books, used books, and games… I have loved this place since I was in grad school 20 years ago.

Now to decide which pieces I shall read as excerpts… anyone have an opinion what would be fun without being spoilery?

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There’s still time to win!

Cover Art for If We Shadows

Two weeks ago If We Shadows was released, and I’m still celebrating!

I didn’t have as much time to publicize the contest as I’d have liked, so I’m extending the time to enter. From now through Sunday, March 23rd, you can still take a chance on winning a signed copy of the paperback! Five runners up will win an ebook copy, and all who win a book also get a set of eight buttons with quotes from the book.

Interested? I certainly hope so!

All you have to do to earn entries is talk to me. You can find me on Facebook and Tumblr and Twitter and Livejournal and of course, my blog! Drop me a note and ask a question about the book, or about my writing, or why I chose any part of the book to write about (Jordan, theater, magic… pick anything!). You can ask me about non-writing things (want to know about tae kwon do? be careful, because I talk about it a lot!). You can leave Jordan a birthday card! You can just say hi if you want. Feel free to leave me existential rambles; I will definitely be amused. All I ask is please keep it PG-13!

For every place you hunt me down (FB, Tumblr, Twitter, LJ, here) you can earn another entry, up to five entries total including one for the picture (and don’t forget, just by showing me you have the book, you can have a button of your choice). However, DO NOT leave your address anywhere public. PLEASE remember to be safe online and protect your information (things I say to my own teens on a regular basis).

For the record, liking/following on the various social platforms is NOT required. While I would love for y’all to stick around and listen to me chatter, I am not requiring it. That said, I hope you pull up a chair and set a while, and enjoy the company. And if you do win, I very much hope you read, enjoy, and then share your opinion of the book.

ALSO! If you already own a copy of the book (ebook or paperback), if you show me your book (you do not have to be in the picture), I will happily send you a button of your choice. The designs are below (let me know which one you would like)!

CoverArtButtonCave-Man-Speak2 Speechless FearLies

TrueToThyself TruthOfHeart TrueSightButton WeAreWhoWeAre

Hope to hear from y’all soon!

IfWeShadows_headerbanner

Posted in Release Celebration, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

I am pretty sure that the release of a first book is a little like falling in love. There is a part of my brain that is allocated to just saying “BOOK!!” excitedly, OVER AND OVER, like that’s all there is in life right now. It’s kind of a larger part of my brain than I have to spare, and sometimes I sit back and look at myself with fond exasperation.

It’s weird, and it’s surreal, and it’s amazing. And I am thankful to everyone who has helped make this the most wonderful experience.

After a week and a half, I’ve been thrilled to see Jordan’s introduction to the world. I have two beautiful reviews on GoodReads and lovely feedback on Facebook. I’ve been doing my mini blog tour, too, with excerpts hosted by MB Mulhall and Christopher Hawthorne Moss, and a guest blog post hosted by Madison Parker. There will be one more stop coming, hopefully later this week! And Saturday, Jordan was on the Smuggler’s radar.

It’s been an exciting time!

If you haven’t yet, check out Jordan’s birthday post for information on how you can win your own copy. I’m extending the contest to go until next Sunday to give more people a chance; there will be another big post about that tomorrow morning. And please come visit and talk to me on Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, or right here!

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Look what I’ve got!

Look what I’ve got!! And there’s still time to win one for yourself!

20140311-180948.jpg

My author’s copies of If We Shadows arrived today, and one of those is earmarked for the grand prize for Jordan’s birthday. If you haven’t yet, go read the directions, say hi, drop comments, visit me in different places. You could win an ebook or a signed hard copy, plus buttons! (Doesn’t everyone love buttons?)

I can’t even say how excited I am to hold my book in my hands. I feel like I’ve been looking forward to this my whole life (okay, since I was twelve or so, but still, that’s a LONG TIME). It’s beautiful. The quality is lovely.

And when I look around, I see people reading it, and I’m thrilled to see Jordan’s story out there.

If you’re wondering what comes next, I’m in the midst of outlining a new book and completely rewriting another, both of which will take me a while to get done. I have a lot of ideas and writing is honestly such a huge part of my life. Can’t imagine not doing it! It’s kind of like breathing.

If you haven’t already stopped in to celebrate Jordan’s birthday, I hope you will.

Posted in Release Celebration | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Blog Tour!

Okay, it’s a mini-tour, but it’s MINE, right? I’ll be traveling around a few blogs, with excerpts and articles, and as they post, I’ll come back here and link to the other blog posts. The dates are rough (and I’m still writing things!).

Saturday, 3/8 – An excerpt at KitMossReviews
Tuesday, 3/11 – An article at MadisonParkLove
Thursday, 3/13 – a to-be-confirmed stop
Saturday, 3/15 – a TBD blog post at JackieMorseKessler

Also, if you happen to be in the northeast, I’m working on setting up a reading at Flights of Fantasy and I will definitely post more details when I have them! We are still discussing dates, etc.

And don’t forget, Jordan’s still celebrating his birthday, so stop on in and say hello. And of course, pick up your copy! It’s available from Amazon and B&N as well as directly from the publisher. Speaking of which, yet another thing that is cool to see:

Screen Shot 2014-03-08 at 1.24.01 PMSee, that’s me! On Amazon!

When does it stop being the COOLEST THING EVER to see my book in places where other people’s books are too?

I kind of hope the excitement last a long, long time.

 

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