Archive for the ‘life’ Category

Heh. Limericks.

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Haven’t been online much because the fam has descended. I’m talking parents, grandparents, cousins (and their families), aunties, uncles, brothers, nephews, nieces. If they don’t drink, they shoot, if they don’t shoot, they cook, if they don’t cook, they dance, and if they don’t dance, they, uh, write, I guess. We all, without exception, play dominoes. This is the state of my life at the moment.

I totally missed the start of the Goodreads M/M Romance Group 1-year Anniversary Celebration. I would have missed the whole thing if I hadn’t received an email letting me know it was time for me to mail out a prize I’d donated. But thanks to that email I got to drop in on some of the fun. I even got to play in a limerick contest yesterday and it floored the hell out of me to find out via another somewhat random email that the little sucker made first place. I chose Lynn Lorenz‘s “Pinky Swear” as my prize, so assuming no one snapped it up before me and assuming I picked from the correct prize list, I’m looking forward to a good read.

The celebration’s still going on. Drop in and have some fun. Also, if you have a minute, pray for me.

Posting the limerick below. The prompt was “Pain.”


There once was a heart in my chest
Until you ripped it right out of my breast
Now there’s no dawn
As the pain writhes on
You stole my love *and* my death

Pondering Rainbows

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

“I don’t have time to wake up every morning and ponder my sexuality all day.”

The above is one of a vast array of things said by an old friend to me during one of the last conversations we would ever have, because she was in the process of disowning me. It was certainly the last significant conversation we had, because the one after started as an awkward “how is your health” sort of thing that ended just as badly, but quieter and—given this was (wow) years ago—I can say with confidence it ended things between us for good.

I remember trying to explain that (a) sex is different from gender, (b) sexual orientation is separate from gender identity, and (c) that I didn’t wake up and ponder being a gender fluid person any more than she woke up pondering what it was like being a cis-gendered woman.

I never got to (c). Calling it a “conversation” was possibly too generous.

This isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned something from that day on this blog, and probably won’t be the last. Sometimes I’m embarrassed that I keep going back to it, because really I’m unbelievably lucky. My dad grew up southern Baptist and was a cowboy before joining the Air Force. My mom grew up very traditionally Korean and these days she’s a fundamentalist Baptist. I could have been disowned for real, but they were almost anti-climatically cool about me being gender-fluid. They don’t understand some of it and sometimes they backslide a bit, but they still love me and not in a “hate the sin love the sinner” kind of way so it’s definitely a win. None of my other close friends freaked out.

I keep saying I’ll put it out of my mind, but I guess things like that never really leave you. And lately I’ve been dissecting bits and pieces of what she said to me, turning them around in my head, using those little daggers to try and understand myself better.

Today I pondered my sexuality AND my gender, dammit.

A while back the television was on and Oprah was talking to a person who’d written a book about sexual fluidity. I glanced up because I rarely hear the term “gender fluid” unless I’m saying it and this was close enough to have me riveted. Oprah carefully asked the other person a question that I imagine a lot of people probably think and keep to themselves. Paraphrasing, it went something like:

When a woman who’s been straight all her life comes out as lesbian, why is it that you often see them with women that…sort of look like men?

The interviewee, Dr. Lisa Diamond, didn’t miss a beat, explaining that you can be attracted to women, but prefer masculine features.

I remember smiling at that, but didn’t really process it because I was under deadline at the time.

Today I pondered, and it was a hell of a lot of fun. Sexuality, gender, biology, et al. are complex things, and at first I skirted along the edges:

Gay men.
Straight women.
Lesbian women.
Straight men.

And then I just dove right in:

So, okay. A masculine male might like masculine features in men. A feminine woman could go for an equally lacy female. A bisexual woman or man might like masculine traits in both men and women, although my best friend is bisexual and sie needs hir women ULTRA feminine and hir men SUPER masculine, so you can split that down the middle. A friend of mine’s daughter IDs as pansexual and I had to wiki that, but I had to explain demisexual to someone of a similar age so the younger generation doesn’t have a monopoly on terms. Bois like grrls. Bois like birls who like bois. Yes, men who were born with female bodies can be attracted to men. Or women. Or any combination of the two. Androgynes are sometimes attracted to androgynous people, but being “androgynous” applies to physical features and not all androgynes look outwardly androgynous. Similarly, not all androgynous people identify as androgyne. A feminine man might go for feminine women and it doesn’t mean that the man is repressing his homosexuality or is bisexual. He might just know he looks damned good in pink. While polyamorous people can be bisexual and vice versa, the two terms are not interchangeable. It’s just possible to stack them in some cases. Like one might stack “straight polyamorous cis-gendered woman.” No one has exact numbers on how many intersexed people are out there because doctors and parents tend to make the gender decision for the child at birth and then hide the information to avoid stigma for the child. Often the child won’t find out unless there’s a medical problem later in life. More and more, however, parents of intersexed children are letting their kids choose their own gender when they’re older. Some choose male, some choose female, some don’t choose. Not choosing doesn’t make them indecisive or deformed. It just means they’re intersexed. GLBTQQICA. Sometimes athletic women are straight. Sometimes they’re not. Being an athlete doesn’t have anything to do with that. Bi-gendered, 3rd gendered, multi-gendered, genderqueer, omni-gendered, cis-gendered, gender-fluid, transgendered, non-gendered. Real men wear Stetsons. Real men drive trucks. Real men cry. Real men are afraid of spiders. Confession: I have NO fucking idea what a real man is, but genuine thanks to the kind people who send me mail to let me know that I write them.

Having fun yet? And the great thing is I haven’t even scratched the surface.

On that terrible day I had a fight with someone I’d been sure would be my friend forever, I was offended that she would assume I spent so much time thinking about sexuality/gender. Now I wonder why I don’t think about it MORE. It’s an amazing, mind bending thing to look at, and it makes me happy to see something new every time I do. It’s only when you look at it all that you understand why nearly every variation of a queer symbol has a rainbow on it—a rainbow is a spectrum of light that’s only visible when you look up to see the sun through the rain, and it’s bright, and beautiful, and (to borrow a story from my highly biblical upbringing) it’s a miracle.

Birthday Sneakers

Monday, January 18th, 2010

My birthday was last week and here’s a picture of one of my presents:

birthday shoes

Best. Shoes. EVER.

How to Help Haiti

Saturday, January 16th, 2010

I got the link via Mrs. Giggles’s blog. It’s a list of reputable places to donate:

http://www.care2.com/causes/human-rights/blog/how-to-help-haiti/

So, Rowan. What have you been doing with your spare time?

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

If you caught my recent interviews at Rain on Roof and Reviews by jessewave, you know I mentioned that I was taking a break from writing to recharge. Here are some of the things I’ve been doing:

  • Pulled the trusty Casio keyboard out of the closet. Hadn’t touched it for years. This turned out to be a problem because apparently I’d left the batteries in there and they did the leak/rust/mold themselves into the inside thing. It took three hours, but I was able to get it clean enough to take new batteries.

  • Got a Wii Fit. Am now addicted to Rhythm Kung-fu. I probably take it waaaaay too seriously.

  • Experimented with creating a bit of stop-motion animation.

  • Watched all twelve episodes of Black Blood Brothers.

  • Read volume 1 of Xxxholic, Tsubasa Chronicles, and Legal Drug.

  • Created a hand-drawn animation for my mother: Dancing Figurine.

  • Had a relatively minor surgery, which put a stop to Rhythm Kung-fu for at least three weeks. lol.

  • Currently recovering from said surgery. 🙂

So that’s everything I can recall. I haven’t been writing a lot, but easing back into real life has opened up some interesting conversations with my muse, so I feel like good things are coming. Plus, I might have a fun blog event coming with some friends of mine, so cross your fingers for that. 😀

Houseguests, anime, liquor, and…oh yeah. That writing thing I do.

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

One of my best friends is driving up on Monday and will be staying with me for two or three weeks, at which point I will be driving down with them to Florida and staying for roughly the same amount of time. Somewhere in there I’ll also be taking a side trip to Atlanta for Dragon*Con, where I fully intend to stalk Michael Biehn, who has the best death scenes ever. I assume the non-Dragon*Con days/nights (hell, probably a good percentage of those, too) will be filled with anime and liquor, because this is our way. We call it Drunken Anime Night, but it often spans a lot more than one night.

In the middle of this debauchery (hmm, is that the appropriate word? Yeah, let’s go with that), I’ll be receiving, working on, and returning the revisions for One Shot. It should be interesting since I’ve managed to bust up my wrist a bit, and I’m supposed to be going easy on the typing. You can see how well that’s working out. 🙂

At Dragon*Con, I’ll be breaking out the “Where’s Rowan?” hat, and it’ll be game on for hide-and-seek. Official rules will be posted later, but they’re similar to the previous set, which you can read here. One addition to the game is that I think I’ll be able to let everyone know my location in real time via my twitter account, so that should be fun.

Basically, the next six weeks or so will be the busiest I’ve had all year as I balance fun, work, and writing (which is a beautiful combination of both). Hopefully the Fates will be kind and gift me with more fun than work since I’d had it in my head to take a vacation in my last rambling. So Wish me luck! And caffeine!

Writing as Therapy

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

I’m not one to hash out personal problems with writing. When I was a kid I kept a journal off and on, and one sporadically in college and law school. That was as close as I ever got to consciously trying to work my issues out on paper. When I write fiction, it’s usually to escape, and to get myself an HEA (Happily Ever After).

A few weeks ago, my mom officially became a five-year survivor of cancer. As the doc told us that five years is usually the magic number for cancer patients, and that chances of recurrence were now much, much lower, I released a breath I’d apparently been holding for half a decade. I was so grateful I didn’t even put up a fight when she asked to watch Twilight as her celebration present.

With any luck, we shall never again speak of sparkly vampires in this blog.

But it was a very good day. And since then, the loss of that subtle bit of tension has relaxed me in a dozen different little ways, and I’ve been remembering a few snippets here and there from when she was first diagnosed.

One of those snippets was a story I’d started called The Companion. If you’ve been following me since I started writing on the Evolution Forum, you might remember the blurb I used to have for it on my website. It was labeled as an “in progress” story and I was ticking along with it, sure that it was going to be done in short order. Then my mom got sick and I dropped it. After a few months I even took its description off my site.

Alexander, one of the main characters in the story, had a grandfather who died of cancer. Taking care of the person who raised him shaped a huge part of his personality, and he’d wake up in cold sweats remembering. In the end I just couldn’t deal. Hit too close to home for me. Unlike a lot of other writers out there, I just wasn’t strong enough to delve that deeply into my own feelings and experiences.

Or so I thought.

In the last week, as I looked at the books I already have out, I realized I’d been doing exactly that.

Take Chasing Winter, for instance. In the beginning of that novel, Jesse is fun and full of life. Then he’s crippled by an accident and his entire view of the world changes. He’s cold, bitter. It takes him a long time to learn to live again.

I’ve never been hurt physically like Jesse, but I did have to drop out of law school due to an illness. In hindsight I see that law school wasn’t for me anyway, and not because I couldn’t hack it–my grades were good and I would have made a fair to decent lawyer. But I sure as hell felt broken in the aftermath of me leaving.

In Want Me, Joel’s secure life is turned upside down, and even though it’s a wrenching journey, he finds talents inside himself he didn’t know he had. I’ve been there. Although without a crazy ass hottie trying to seduce me at every turn, which was probably a good thing. Probably.

Lone, my newly released werewolf novel, features a character who’s dealing with someone close to him finding out who he really is. That’s happened to me. I’ve been in the other person’s shoes, too, having to absorb that someone wasn’t who I’d believed, and then having to decide if the “new” person was still the person I cared for.

Even though I don’t dive into a story intending to tackle a deep-seeded personal issue, I do go in with the intent of making my characters as real as possible. Realistic responses to stress, believable emotions, etc. In order to achieve that, sometimes I have to take a good hard look at personal experiences I’d much rather forget. As far as the story goes, such introspection is totally worth it. Everyone knows what it feels like to be rejected. Everyone knows how it feels to want something so badly it twists your stomach into knots. Everyone knows what it feels like to be alone.

In that way, every writer has a connection to their readers. It’s all about building a believable bridge from the story to those basic emotions.

If I get a bit of a catharsis while doing it, bonus. If a light bulb happens to go off in my head and makes me go “Ahh, I get it now,” even better. But it’s not something I go hunting for, and I can say from experience that most of the time that little light doesn’t even flicker until I’m re-reading the story years later.

But I figure it must help, even if I’m not aware. Maybe in some little way it makes me stronger, and the stronger I am, the more passion I can embrace. The more passion I can embrace, the better everything around me becomes.

Huh, sorta like Ace and Spade. I just realized that.

Note to someone who might be my sixteen year old self

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

Note: This blog was originally published on my MySpace blog, November 18, 2008.


Looking back, there’s one thing I wish someone had told me when I was a kid. It would have made my life so much easier:

“You don’t have to choose.”

Growing up, I was taught that boys were boys and girls were girls. Not fitting into either category was just asking for trouble, especially once I hit high school. I didn’t know what was wrong with me, and I always felt like an outsider. Which, really, is par for the course in high school, so I don’t remember it as a particularly bad experience.

I don’t think I was ever myself in high school, though. My focus was on being the perfect kid, so I was always on the honor roll (except for senior year, because I skipped a lot of school to go to the beach), I was almost never in trouble (almost never got caught), and pretty much did whatever was expected of me. Outside of writing (in composition notebooks, yeah!) I didn’t really care about anything, least of all myself. I sorta just let fate have its way with me, and fate did an okay job.

College gave me a little room to stretch and, god, it felt good. I had an eighteen hour course load, two jobs, was a member of almost every club on campus, volunteered, had a short stint as a chaplain, learned to dance, got my first kiss, and won a poetry contest. And it was a liberal arts college, so I could do things like take Archery the same semester I took Environmental Biology. A light went on inside of me and I went, “Holy crap! I can do everything!”

Then I went to law school and it was time to cram myself into a box again. This time it didn’t go so well. The classes were law, the clubs were law, all anyone ever talked about was law. You were supposed to conduct yourself a certain way and dress accordingly. I don’t remember ever being so miserable in my life, but I was determined to stick it out.

Fate saved my ass by striking me down. I was in the hospital for three weeks. A year later, I officially let my school know I was never going back.

I’m probably sharing too much here. But I wanted to give a little background on where I was coming from, because I didn’t start living until the year I almost died. It was scary and confusing and it hurt like hell, but for the first time in my life I felt like I was someone real.

I’ve known I’m gender fluid for a long time. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, the Urban Dictionary defines it this way:

Gender Fluid is a gender identity best described as a dynamic mix of boy and girl. A person who is Gender Fluid may always feel like a mix of the two traditional genders, but may feel more boy some days, and more girl other days.

Being Gender Fluid has nothing to do with which set of genitalia one has, nor their sexual orientation.

Wikipedia also has a pretty good article on being genderqueer/gender fluid.

I cried when I first heard the term. Not only did it fit, but it meant that there were other people out there like me. It was okay that I didn’t identify as a man or a woman, it was okay to be what I felt when I felt like it.

There were problems, of course. On a practical level, filling out forms is a constant headache. Not many of them let you go “unspecified” or “other,” so I generally choose “male” because that’s the closest that fits. On a personal level, people will tell me that I’m indecisive, that I should just go ahead and get the operation already, that I’m in denial about my sexuality, etc etc etc. The fact is, I didn’t choose to be in between any more than another person chooses to be gay or straight, male or female.

And for the record, anyone who says it’s easy to be in between is fucking insane. Some people get mad when you don’t identify as one or the other. And I cringe every time I read some rant on the internet telling a genderqueer person to “Get off the fence” or starting a sentence with “They claim to be…” I get the impression that they want a Proof of Queer card or something.

There is no Proof of Queer card. As far as I know. As implied above, I’m bad with forms so maybe I missed the registration process.

It took me a quarter of a century to discover that I was, in fact, a real person. I fully believe it’ll take the rest of my life to find out who I am, and that is true for a lot of (if not most) people. My world isn’t binary and I’m far more complicated than is convenient. It’s interesting, though. And an adventure.

So, to all the in between people out there, whether it’s your gender, sexual orientation, race, or anything else—You don’t have to choose. You are who you are, and you’re allowed to live your life.

***

A friend asked me to include an FAQ on being gender fluid. I don’t feel comfortable doing that, since everyone is different, but here’s a quick FAQ on being Rowan:

Are you a man or a woman?

My gender flows back and forth. While I don’t identify 100% as either male or female, I tend to hang out more on the male side of things.

Yeah yeah, but what’s in your underwear?

Why?

Why?

Yes, why? Would knowing what I’m packing in my pants change who I am or what I write?

Now you’re just trying to be mysterious. What are you hiding?

I’m not hiding anything, it’s just (ahem) private. You probably wouldn’t ask the boi at the flower shop if they have a penis or vagina, or if they’re gay or straight (at least, I hope you wouldn’t, since it’s none of your business if you’re just there to buy flowers).

We’re not friends and you’re not asking me out. If you should see me on the street (or at a convention), you’ll know instantly what parts I was born with. It’s been a source of dysphoria for me on and off all my life because I don’t have an androgynous body. However, I’m not about to start every online conversation with, “Hey, how you doin’? I’m gender fluid and have a ___ between my legs.”

My friends and family know. My online friends who become my real friends know. Now that I’m a little older, if I see I’m heading for an awkward situation, I generally nip things in the bud and let those people know.

But I’m just a writer, and not everyone needs to know.

Okay okay. But what do I call you?

Rowan.

C’mon, you know what I mean. Are you a he, she, or it?

Oh, god. Call me anything but “it.”

When I first started to get published, I’d write the reviewers and ask if they could change the “Miss” or “Ms.” to “Mr.” I wasn’t used to having a public online life, and I figured consistency was important. Now I let either of them go, since I figure it’s at least accurate part of the time.

Personally, I like gender neutral pronouns such as “hir” for him/her and “sie” for he/she, but not many people are familiar with them. Plus there are lots of other neutral pronouns out there and no standardized system from what I can see. One of my all time favorites to be called is Mx. Rowan McBride, but it hasn’t caught on yet.

I’m fine with being called “he” or “she,” but I will admit that it jars me a little to hear “she.”

Would you call yourself transgender?

Sometimes, but generally when people think of a transgender person they’re thinking of someone who’s making or planning to make a permanent transition. For that reason I prefer the term gender fluid.

So…when’s your next book coming out?

*headdesk*

Soonish.

I Came Home to Such Cool Stuff!

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

Note: This blog was originally published on my MySpace blog, July 29, 2008.


So I’m back from a vacation I neglected to announce I was leaving for. Although I’d known I was going to Florida for quite some time, the trip still took me by surprise. I had an e-loop chat July 4th, the release of Warm Rush: Chasing Winter on July 6th, then my plane taking off the morning of July 9th. I ended up making a whirlwind attempt at promotion right up until the 8th, at which point I sat down and tried to figure out how I would transport my Giant Pocky on the plane without smashing it to pieces.


Pocky arrived safely. Vacation rocked. I watched a busload of anime and managed to squeeze in a mini Tetris tournament. I also met a lot of new friends and got to know a good friend even better. When I look back on the past two weeks, it still seems like one massive, blurry day, which I suppose is proof of a great time.

Now I’m home, still catching up on emails (if you’ve written me and I haven’t responded, that’s most likely why). Settling back into my life is bringing a smile to my face. A lot of good stuff happened while I was gone. A fan floored me by gifting me with a three month subscription to DeviantArt. Chasing Winter has been released in print, and it’s received a 4/5 star review from Rainbow Reviews.

The best thing is that I’m itching to write. I’d been a little burned out for, oh, a couple months at least. But now I’m wanting to get back to my alien sex slaves, my smart mouthed wizards, my Shadow Guards, my comic book geeks. The list goes on and on, and I’m raring to go. 🙂

Let’s see if I can finish a new story by the end of the year, yeah?


Get the print version of Warm Rush: Chasing Winter here.

Read my new review for the story at Rainbow Reviews.

Oh! I sorta forgot I had a Warm Rush store. I hadn’t known that Café Press jacked up the prices on my stuff, so I knocked a few dollars off each item to make them easier to pick up. It’s a lot of fun—you can get the t-shirts featured in the stories! So if you’d like the browse to Warm Rush online store, go to: http://www.cafepress.com/WarmRush.

Everyone have a great week!

First Crush

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

Note: This blog was originally published on my MySpace blog, June 17, 2008.


The first boy I was ever fascinated with was this strange kid my mom babysat. I don’t remember a lot of details about him, other than he would fall down our stairs. Constantly. Spectacularly. I remember I’d sit in the living room and wait for him to fall (at least once a day) because I loved to watch him flip head over heels. I was kinda twisted that way. I was also in the first grade.

Now, the first boy to make my stomach flip over didn’t come along until fifth grade. His initials were CR and I still think his full name was one of the coolest I’ve ever heard. I think this is a lot coming from someone who’s spent hours coming up with just the right name for a character.

CR was not one of the cool kids, because in fifth grade ‘cool’ is defined by how many friends you have amassed. He was a loner. He wore a lot of black. He had dark hair and dark dark eyes.

Man, he was beautiful.

He kept to himself, but sometimes I’d sit next to him on the playground and hand him a stick of gum. He’d take it and we’d watch the other kids for a while. We didn’t talk very much.

We also had an advanced math class together. Sat in the very back row which, conveniently, only had two desks. The teacher had a fish tank against the wall that had sharks swimming around inside it. Those sharks are probably why we sat there.

There was one day when I knew that I was absolutely, irrevocably in love with CR, and this is where my twisted nature from above comes into play:

We were sitting in math class, bored out of our minds. For no reason I would ever understand, CR lifted his arm, peeled a scab off his elbow, and gave it to me.

I know, I know. At the top of the list of Oh-So-Wrong things to find romantic. And the wrongness pervades me to this day—my stomach still flips over whenever I remember that moment. Looking back, I can’t fathom who was more unhinged. Him for giving it to me, or me for taking it.

And, gawd, when he gave me that scab, I *know* my face lit up. He blinked at me, like he was dazed by my reaction, then he smiled back, real wicked and slow. It was the first time I’d ever seen him smile.

Seriously, no fifth grader should have that kind of power.

CR was my first real, toe curling crush. To this day I blow out a slow, measured breath whenever I think of him. This is the first time I’d ever told anyone about him, though, which got me wondering—

Who was your first crush? What was it about them that hooked you?