Living The Dream

You’d think I’d be happier.

All my hard work is paying off. Last week, I signed a contract with NineStar Press to publish my debut novel. Now that it’s locked in I’m excited to tell you guys all about it. But angst first, then more about the book, I promise.

I think the only reason I’m not over the moon right now is because I am just so tired. There’s been so many upheavals at work I’m literally working a completely different job now. That on top of trying to write for NaNoWriMo and some personal problems I’m not discussing here… It’s a lot. Way a lot. I should be completely over the moon because I accomplished a life long dream. I’m going to have a book published!

…Though to be fair? I’ve said this to myself at least a hundred times a day since I got the first email last Thursday and I still don’t believe it. I know why I don’t believe it, but it’s a hard thing to cope with. I’m a success by my own definition and by the definition of the capitalist society we’re all trapped in.

I’m trying to move past that kind of negative thinking, or dwelling on things in the past that make me unhappy. Keep moving forward. Think positive. You know, all that stuff they tell you to do when you’re stuck in a negative thought cycle.

Which is why I’m going to tell you guys about this book I’ve been working so hard on since last year. I wanted to keep it under wraps because I’m incredibly secretive about a lot of my projects. So here’s what you need to know.

The book is called Sorcery of the Blood, which I have mentioned before. The book is about a vampire hunter named Kingston who’s turned into a vampire. Needless to say, he’s not the least bit happy about it. Even worse, he and his hunting partner Martin are trapped in Phoenix just as the city is taken over by the undead.

They go into hiding, and that’s when things get very interesting.

Now there’s still some time until the book comes out, and the publishing date hasn’t been set yet. I can tell you it’s going to be in 2020 and when I get a more official date then I’ll absolutely share it. But what I’d like to do is share some behind the scenes stuff that I wasn’t able to share before.

I’m talking character profiles, I’m talking playlists, settings, notes, drawings, all sorts of goodies that I hope will entice you to read my book.

The bonus features start posting next month, and I’ll try to post at least one bonus a month up until the book is released. This will be starting in December since I’m currently busy with NaNo. I’m also pretty close to vacation, which is going to be the first full week of January.

Speaking of, if anyone reading is going to be in New Orleans on January 12th, some friends of mine and I are getting together at the Tea Witch Cafe in the Garden District around 2PM. Stop by and say hello!

Okay, I think I’ve cheered myself up a little. Depression, the curse that keeps on cursing.

xoxo

Alice

Are You Sure You’re Nonbinary?: How My Medical History and Autism Have Been Used to Dismiss My Gender Identity

This was an essay I originally submitted for consideration for a book of nonbinary essays. It was not selected, but I wouldn’t want it to go to waste. Therefore I’ll be sharing it here.

In the spring of 2009, I had a hysterectomy. Along with having endometriosis, I also had polycystic ovarian syndrome and the beginning stages of cervical cancer. I’d already been through intense treatment of medically induced menopause, and laser surgery. Both were ineffective.

What struck me as odd were the number of people who wanted me to get pregnant as “that would fix it right up.” This, of course, is inaccurate. Both my mother and aunt had the same diagnosis. They had conceived and continued to have the same problems. 

I didn’t understand why everyone was so obsessed with my ability to reproduce. I’d said since I was in kindergarten, I don’t want to have children. I didn’t like kids when I was a kid! Yet relatives came out of the woodwork offering ways I can still have a child. Finally, one night, I asked my aunt why this was such a big deal to everyone. 

“Being a mother is important! It’s all part of being a woman,” she told me. 

That made zero sense to me. Why is being a woman so tangled in having a baby? As I thought about it more, I wasn’t sure that I actually felt like a woman anyway. I’d read books about “capturing your feminine power”. Sure, I’d attempted the exercises and mantras. All that had happened was I’d get confused or even frustrated because it didn’t seem to apply to me. 

After the worst year of my life, I finally got the surgery I’d been asking for. I’d managed to wave off my nosy relatives by saying if I did want to be a mother, I could always adopt. That seemed to satisfy everyone. I didn’t bother mentioning that I thought I might be gay and the only babies I’d ever have would be cats.

It was a long road to recovery and there are stories attached to it. They’re not important to this narrative so I’m going to move on. 

Several years later, when I was living away from my family for the first time, I was having trouble with a lot of basic tasks. Things that wouldn’t be a big deal to most were a struggle for me. Like showering, cleaning the house, keeping things organized. I’d always had trouble with things like that but it had been brushed off as “genius syndrome”. 

I could recite obscure historical facts about the Tudor royal court or pick up a language easily. I couldn’t fold a shirt properly and I had trouble tying my shoes. What was worse, I had trouble making and keeping friends. It wasn’t that I was shy, but I had a horrible time reading facial expressions. What was worse, I often was very blunt and this, of course, can be quite the turnoff to potential friends and lovers. One night I got so frustrated with myself I Googled genius syndrome to see if I could fix it. 

The first results when you enter that are about savants, which I certainly am not. Then I saw a page about Asperger’s Syndrome, and I decided to read on. I remembered an episode of Law and Order: Criminal Intent episode where Goran had diagnosed the perpetrator with Asperger’s. I thought I was on the wrong track since the symptoms in the episode didn’t match any of what was wrong with me. 

Then I read the article. And another. And another. After about six I googled Asperger’s Syndrome and found a page with symptoms. It was all there. The inability to perform simple tasks (ranging from spatial analysis difficulties and what I would later find out is executive dysfunction) and difficulty understanding nonverbal social cues. The page suggested that if several symptoms matched me, I should speak with a professional.

There was no way I was going to go for a diagnosis locally. It was a small town and everyone knew everyone. So the next time I left for the big city to go to a concert, I also scheduled an appointment with a doctor I trusted. I talked to her about what I’d found online, and she referred me to a specialist whom I was lucky enough to speak within the same week. 

I came home with souvenirs and a diagnosis I kept to myself at first. It was a relief to know that there was a name for it, this thing that I had always felt, but I was also embarrassed. It made me wonder what other things I’d always felt had names. It didn’t come up at the time, but this was when I really started to question my sexuality and gender.

Years later I discovered identities that fit what I’d always felt. I came out as asexual and nonbinary, specifically genderfluid. Don’t misunderstand, most people were supportive, and I was relieved when I finally had a name for it. There were some people who were familiar with my history and my diagnosis who weren’t as accepting. 

There’s a name for that too. It’s called concern trolling. 

One friend whom I’ll call Rachel knew I’d had a hysterectomy. After several frustrating conversations with her, she finally said what she’d been working up to. “Are you absolutely sure? You did have a hysterectomy. It could be a hormone imbalance that’s not making you feel like a woman.” She framed it as being worried about me and “getting carried away with this gay stuff”. 

Rachel was not aware of my crossdressing. Or that I’d done so since I was five. That I’d had an alternate male identity and that I would go out in boys clothes. That my grandmother had despaired I’d never be a proper little lady because I had that “tomboy” streak. It didn’t happen all the time, and I liked dolls and dresses. But there were instances where I knew I was a boy and that continued well into adulthood. 

Especially in the Goth scene. I could show up to a club one night dressed to the nines as a dour Victorian gentleman. And the next night I could show up in a velvet dress with glitter in my hair. I hadn’t known it at the time, but being in that subculture had allowed me to explore my gender identity more thoroughly than I could have anywhere else. 

I did explain this to Rachel, but she was insistent that she was right. 

She wasn’t the only one. Another former friend whom I’ll call David thought much the same. Except he had a different hypothesis. He knew about my Autism diagnosis, and he didn’t beat about the bush. He IM’d me one afternoon and said, “I don’t think you’re nonbinary. I think you’re confused because you’re a person with autism.” 

That did give me pause. About half the nonbinary people I knew had autism. I didn’t IM him back, instead, I tried Googling it. I was unsuccessful in finding anything useful. Thankfully, I had a nonbinary friend who wasn’t autistic and a cis friend who was. We decided to compare notes.

Between the three of us, we noticed that some things matched up, but most didn’t. Like my cis friend and I both had executive dysfunction, but she’d never questioned that she’s a woman or cross dressed. Or that my nonbinary friend and I had always felt that our assigned genders didn’t suit us, but they’d never had trouble understanding social cues. 

One thing we all had in common were people who told us we didn’t know what we were talking about. And how often we were dismissed out of hand. We talked about how frustrating it was that no one listened to us. That there were probably always going to be people who used our identities and history to ignore how we feel. And what we knew about ourselves. Both encouraged me to contact them any time I had questions or needed reassurance. 

I advised David of the talk, and the conclusions the three of us had come to after intense discussion and study. He never spoke to me again.

David and Rachel aren’t the first to bring this up, and they won’t be the last. There will always be someone who says I’m not nonbinary. That they know better than me and give some lame excuse as to why. They can say it all they like, but they’re not me, so they don’t know what I know about myself. They only look at pieces of my history, not the whole, or what I’ve known my entire life even if I didn’t know the term. 

I am nonbinary. Autism and surgeries be damned.

Okay, I can explain

So you might be wondering where I went and haven’t updated this blog since January.

I apologize for the delay, but I had some issues. The first of which was my day job. I’ve been working overtime since January and haven’t had time for much else. Work has a tendency to take over my life at times, but I’m glad we’re finally slowing down enough I can string full sentences together again.

Secondly, I’m still working on my trip to New Orleans. I’m pleased to announce the majority of my funds have been pulled together. Thanks to the overtime pay from work, I now have the hotel, flight, and tickets to various attractions covered. The only thing I don’t have covered is the spending money but that will be taken care of shortly.

Third, if anyone was wondering, Sorcery of the Blood has undergone a lot of changes. I’ve submitted it and now I’m waiting to hear back. I admit I’m very glad that it’s finished. While I’m not under the impression that it’s a perfect manuscript, I’ve done what I can by it and know that it’s the best I can do.

I’ll be making an effort to try to update this blog more often. However if work starts to pick up again, I’ll likely not be around much.

I wrote an essay a while back that I think I’ll be sharing here, once I’ve edited it a little. It’s an essay about my disability and how some people like to use it to question my gender identity. I’ll post it later in the week once I’ve polished it up a bit.

Further news, Tuesday is when I go to see Queen + Adam Lambert in concert. I’m so excited I might actually explode! Queen is a band I’ve loved since I was a child, and while it’s not the same without Freddie, the chance to see them live is thrilling and I can’t wait!

I hope you’re well, whoever you are.

xoxo

Alice

At Least I’m Making Progress…

Hello, and happy Sunday. I don’t know what’s happy about it but whatever. So, important update! I have finished the first draft edits on Sorcery of the Blood, which means I start on the second draft shortly. The very anxious part of my brain that is in constant “go go go” mode is insisting I do so right now. However, I need to take some time between because otherwise, I’m going to end up throwing my manuscript out the window.

Or possibly burning it in the bathtub. I’ve been pretty tempted to do that too. If you were wondering, the tub is the only place in the house I can burn it safely. Because we are very concerned with fire safety when we are burning things.

Anyway, today I’m thinking about how far I’ve come and how far I still need to go. Ten years ago I was very ill, living with my parents, being physically and emotionally abused by my mother and sister, and praying I didn’t pull through so I wouldn’t have to deal with them or this fucked up planet anymore. I was ready to die because I didn’t think I had anything worth living for.

I think about that, how miserable I was, and while I’m not ecstatic now I’m in a better place. Sure I’m lonely and spend more time talking to myself than anyone else. But I’m relatively healthy, and I’m far and away from that toxic situation.

I have two anniversaries this year and they’re both in April. The first is the anniversary of the last time I spoke to my mother, which was five years ago. The second is the anniversary of when I almost died, which was ten years ago. April is going to be the month when I book everything for my trip to New Orleans to celebrate.

This isn’t to dwell on the horrible shit that happened to me. It’s to remember that I’ve moved past it. I survived, and I’m finding my place in the world. I think this is probably most evident by the fact I’ve been making a plan to buy a house.

I’ve never settled anywhere before. I’ve lived in places, with a plan to move as soon as I could, but I’ve never wanted to stay. I had dreams of moving to bigger cities like Los Angeles or New York. But I’m happy here. Phoenix is a big city, but it doesn’t always feel like it.

At first, I moved here because it was one of two options and of the two it was the cheapest. Also, I had a very dear online friend who lived here and was gracious enough to offer me the spare room in her house. So I did an online fundraiser and moved.

Now I have a day job I legitimately love, I have access to a rich and stimulating art scene, and I’m constantly inspired by the city around me. Which has really helped a lot with my writing. All of this would have seemed impossible to me just two years ago, and that’s what I mean by making progress.

Gotta celebrate the victories.

Anyway, I’m going to dye my hair and try to relax. Have a good one.

xoxo

Alice

How is it only Wednesday?!

To share some good news first, I have an announcement. I have finished the first draft of my NaNo project from 2018! Originally, I quit after meeting the 50,000 word goal. I’d mostly been writing on the weekends as I don’t have time during the work week. Due to the overabundance of words in such a short time, I completely burned myself out on the story. So I put it away and came back when I didn’t feel like throwing my laptop out the window.

I got the draft printed out on Monday. I thought using a smaller font and reducing to 10 would help in printing it out. I ended up with this 115 page monstrosity.

That is approximately 53,000 words I wrote. I did that! I’m so proud and I want to cry.

So now I have to go through with my red pen and start making edits. Yes, I use a red pen. Because I have secretly always wanted to be an English teacher. Lacking a firm grasp of grammar, that was not to be, which is why I became a writer.

(Just kidding, I have no grasp of grammar. Thank the gods for technology.)

This is the physical copy of Sorcery in the Blood and I am so ready to make this into a real, polished manuscript .

And this week at work has been hell but I don’t want to talk about it in detail.

Now for the reason I’m writing today. It’s been one of those weeks where there’s been a lot of talk around me about autism. Not to me, because being autistic makes me invisible. I am probably right behind you as you are reading this and you have no idea.

I got frustrated in a writer’s chat talking about how sometimes I couldn’t write because I get overstimulated. Or worse, when I hyper focus and write a lot. Many didn’t see this as a bad thing, as isn’t that the dream of many writers? They refused to see the downside. Writing until my fingers literally bleed and my wrists are throbbing with pain. Forgetting to eat and stay hydrated all because I’m “in the zone”.

I can never use anything I write in that state as it’s gibberish it can’t be salvaged. I end up throwing it away or deleting it.

I also talked about ways that my disability can make writing things out a particularly stabby pain in my ass. You try “show don’t tell” when you can’t read facial expressions or non verbal cues. It’s a nightmare!

A person who thought they were being helpful said I just need to practice “writing normal” and “being normal”. The conversation then continued about ways to mask autism symptoms and despite me saying, “Hey stop that you’re being ableist” it continued as though I weren’t there. Then the discussion turned to autism “causes” and “cures” and I got fed up.

I handled that about as well as can be expected. I left the room and haven’t been back since. That’s the last time I join a chat recommended by a straight person.

Thankfully I know another chat that is full of people all over the LGBTQIA rainbow and several are on the autism spectrum. It was surprising to find out how many of us there were and was reminiscent of the “I thought I was the only one” scene from Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse.

Dibs on being Spider Witch or Were Spider. I think turning into a Black Widow the size of a horse would be awesome.

Getting side tracked.

Anyway, I vented about that particular comment and the general attitude that my ability to quash my autism symptoms is somehow a blessing. As though I didn’t go through a childhood of people bullying, harassing, and straight up abusing me until I was “normal”. It’s one of the biggest causes of my anxiety and to this day I still freak out if I do something “weird” in public such as stimming.

They all knew that pain, and it was wonderful to be surrounded by people who knew what I was talking about and faced similar problems. I felt better until this evening.

I’m on Tumblr a lot. Yes, I know, blue hell site evil censorship and so on but dammit I love scrolling. Today one of my mutuals reblogged a post about how people without empathy are trash. Most of the notes on the post were neurodivergent people and their allies pointing out how fucking ableist that is and neurotypical people biting back saying they’re too sensitive and should learn empathy to be better people. That hurt and pissed me off.

I don’t have empathy. I have absolutely no idea how you’re feeling and unless I’m close to you I probably won’t care as I don’t do sympathy well either. You would think this would be a problem since the main part of my job is taking care of people. You would be wrong as I have compassion by the truck load.

Empathy is, “I feel what you’re feeling.”

Sympathy is, “I’m sorry you’re feeling.”

Compassion is, “Well this looks sucky. How can I help?”

You don’t need empathy or sympathy to be a good person. And having either (or both) doesn’t necessarily mean you are good. As a friend put it, “Empathy doesn’t automatically mean humanity.” She pointed out that many people confuse empathy with humanity and the two aren’t necessarily connected.

So the TL;DR is don’t be an asshole and if an ND is saying you’re being ableist then you are and you need to stop. And also what might seem like a gift to you is a nightmare for someone else.

Okay I’m going to bed. Hope you have a good rest of your week.

xoxo

Alice

An Introduction

Hello! Welcome to my blog, which is going to be a record of my writing. I’m working on several things at the moment. Most specifically there are two manuscripts that I’m chiseling away at, and also edits of two novellas. All of which I’m hoping that I can get published at some point in 2019.

Which isn’t that a kicker? 2018 seems to have lasted for at least half a decade. There’s so much to unpack from one single year I simply don’t have the energy. I won’t be rehashing anything on this space except a few things you should know about me and my writing.

The first of which is, I write queer focused fiction. It’s romance centric with an eye for stuff that’s a little odd. You’re not going to see a lot of cishet characters in my stories is what I’m saying. I also like to have characters who are disabled in some way whether it be obvious or invisible. I don’t see the point in writing something that’s been done a thousand times and ignoring something that’s part of who I am.

Yes, I’m queer. If you’d like it broken down even further, I’m asexual, biromantic, genderfluid/nonbinary. My pronouns are they/them. I’m also autistic, which actually doesn’t come up much since I was one of those people who had “be normal” drilled into me since I was a kid. I’m working on unlearning a lot of these behaviors as part of my overall mental health, and allowing myself to stim and just be me.

I would also like to take this time to state if you object to the use of the word queer or the term autistic person (rather than LGBT or person with autism) this page is not for you. I don’t want to hear about it from someone who hasn’t lived my life. If you’re going to try to concern troll me or bully me into using the words you think are appropriate, don’t waste your time. I’m not interested in joining the purity police.

Back to the introduction. I’m going to use this page as a sort of progress report. And here are the four projects I’ll be reporting on.

  1. Sorcery of the Blood – An urban fantasy about a former vampire hunter turned vampire and his protege trying to navigate the perils of a city conquered by the undead and their own unspoken love. This was my work for NaNoWriMo, which I completed for the first time in 2018. I have not actually finished the manuscript yet, but I have written enough of it that I should complete the first draft soon.
  2. Triple Roast – A contemporary polyamorous romance about two men and a woman finding love in a queer coffee shop they run together. This is the project I’m currently trying to get most of the first draft finished. I have a full outline but only two chapters.
  3. For Rent – A novella about a demon who tries to scare off the new tenant in the rental home he possesses, and ends up falling in love with him instead. I’ve written about four drafts of this and I’m currently working on a fifth.
  4. By Storm’s End – A novella about a man who discovers he has only a week to live, and the kind bartender who helps him get his affairs in order who may not be all he seems. This is in the second draft stage and… It’s around here somewhere. To be honest I wrote it in such a hurry to try to meet a deadline and then I never submitted it because it didn’t feel right.

These are the projects I’m going to finish and try to publish in 2019. Whether it’s through independent publishers or self publishing, I want to get these stories out there. I’m also plotting some things for the future, but I won’t be focusing on them until autumn.

I’ll be posting updates on each project, and perhaps even snippets from my works in progress. If you’d like more day to day updates, you can follow me on Twitter, where I’m listed as AliceGHolmes.

I really hope 2019 holds wonderful things for us all. I also hope I don’t read this a year from now and laugh at myself for being so stupid and naive.

xoxo

Alice