Rewriting the Plot

The last few months have been harried. My schedule, such as it is, has been chaotic. Meaningful full-time employment continues to elude me (there are too many English majors and not enough jobs out there) leaving me working long hours of brain-numbing underemployment, and writing time continues to suffer as a result. My diet is derailed, I’m no longer able to see my gender specialist MD without paying out of pocket, and I have house repairs in need of doing that I don’t have the budget to do. And on top of that, I’m trying to go back to school to make myself more marketable, which brings with it more stress and debt.

I don’t bring all this up to whine, just to say: life sucks sometimes, and when it does, I don’t find the time to blog.

I hope to turn that around in the coming months, as things settle back down into a routine again and the new school year starts. But as I think about picking the blog back up, I find myself casting about for what to write about, and I wonder if there’s still anyone out there reading, anyways. I had a good run with my transition journey, but that’s practically over now; I am living life as myself, I’m happy and whole, and even though there’s surgeries in my future they’re not anything I’m going to experience anytime soon. And beyond transiton, what do I have to say that might make my writing interesting, unique, or worth sharing on social media.

I have some ideas, but I don’t know where they will lead. Should be interesting to explore though. Stay tuned.

New Skeptoid Episode: Cattle Mutilations

Just a quick update this time, to let you all know that a new episode of Skeptoid dropped this week with my name on it. It’s about Cattle Mutilations, and it’s the fourth of my eight guest turns for the show.

I’m pleased with the new episode. I think I’ve finally found a good balance in terms of scripting, delivery, and recording/post-processing. Not that I’m down on my earlier episodes, but I think think one is my best so far.

I’m debating my next script now (episode will be releasing in about seven weeks). I have a script half-finished, but it’s another UFO/aliens related one and I’ve done two of those already (three if you count War of the Worlds). I’m thinking I might go the cryptid route with the next one. Not Bigfoot, but something more local to my part of the world. More to come …

March Update

Wow. Where did February go? Can’t believe it’s March 1 already, nor that I didn’t post a thing here for almost the entire month.

The first part of 2015 will definitely not go down in my personal record books as one of the best times of my life. Money/employment continues to be a huge struggle, one that has been sapping my time, attention, and drive to write anything for free (a.k.a. “blogging”). All the momentum in my writing that I had in November/December is lost; even my Skeptoid blogging, which was often the highlight of my writing week, has been puttering out at the pace of about one article every two weeks. This week is also the one-year anniversary of the death of my father, so emotions aren’t exactly buoyant at the moment.

On the bright side, today, March 1, looks like it might be the start of a turnaround. Haven’t successfully stopped the out-of-control crash course yet, but the nose of this plummeting plane is finally starting to lift; the brakes on this out-of-control train are beginning to squeal as it approaches the canyon; the rear-end of the automobile has stopped completely fish-tailing and I’m reaching for the steering wheel. I’m still bracing for impact, though. Can’t be too careful, and something else can always go wrong.

What I need is for an action hero to step into my life to save the day. Chris Pratt, where are you when a girl needs you?

Resurrecting Transgender Science

So something interesting and unexpected has happened: Transgender Science is coming back.

For those who weren’t around: in 2013 I started a Tumblr blog where I intended to blog about science and health issues of interest to transgender people. At the time I envisioned myself being a science journalist, doing research, writing long articles, etc. I had some fun with it for awhile and it got some responses, but about a year ago it fell off my priority list and died off. No one seemed to miss it so I didn’t make an effort to bring it back. A few months ago I let the URL expire and ported all the articles back to this blog.

Fast forward to last week, where I ran across some articles I felt would have been well suited for TransSci. Since my Facebook and Twitter feeds for TransSci were still out there with followers, tossed the links on them. And to my surprise, I got some positive responses! Facebook, in particular, seemed to latch onto the posts I made — I think maybe “transgender” is a hot term in its algorithms right now — and I began to see Likes and comments on the FB page. So I found some more links, put them up, and got more Likes, more feedback.

If there are people interested, I’m going to keep posting stuff. I’m going to keep it to social media for now — no separate blog again, for sure! — and I’m not going to push myself to do a lot of writing for it. Links and commentary, mostly, with maybe the occassional article appearing on this blog.

You can find TransSci on Facebook and Twitter. Please feel free to Like/Follow if you’re interested. The archived articles from 2013-2014 are here.

Go Read This M:tG Story

I do not read Magic: the Gathering fiction normally. I don’t know who the Mardu are, I’ve never learned of the naming rituals of orcs, and I have no idea why the  brood of the Kolaghan is on the attack. But I do know good fiction when I read it, and the M:tG short story “The Truth of Names” is a pretty good read. You can read it here.

Honestly, I really, really wish I’d written this story. Also, I really want her card now. In fact, I wonder what a deck built around her would look like …

Tara’s back!

Trying to get back in the writing habit this month, and it’s been a struggle. Inspiration is a fickle things influenced by too many random variables, and the random variables have not been coming up in my favor since Christmas. As it turns out, writing is somewhere higher up on Maslow’s hierarchy than is the life I have been living of late.

I was also stuck on what turned out to be a tricky moment in The Trials of Tara Titan (hereafter TTT because why not?). It was sort of a denouement moment for the current “issue,” AND I wanted to drop some plot hints, AND I wanted to insert a new recurring character. But I’m finally done, and the new part is up. It’s the second-longest part I’ve posted.

Tara Titan 2.5: Brother Tiresias

If you read it and like it, please consider voting for it and leaving a comment. Both help me gain ranking and views on Wattpad.


A Statement About My Voice

I had a new episode of Skeptoid release recently, and it’s happened again: I’m getting shitty comments about my voice. I have been misgendered.  I have been told I don’t sound “natural.” I have been compared to one of the Venture Brothers. In short, let’s just say that this week has not been a good one for my dysphoria.

To those put off by my voice: I’m sorry that my voice isn’t able to sound like a cis woman’s voice. It’s not a cis woman’s voice, and so far I have failed in my attempts to make it sound like a cis woman’s voice. Voice training is difficult and so often feels futile. Everything I do in life gets judged to impossible-to-meet cis standards, and my voice is one of the worst in terms of my transition so far. It’s a tell I can’t seem to do anything about.

But you know what? It’s my voice. Stop shaming me for it. Your standards are cisnormative and transphobic, and if you don’t like my voice I invite you to read the transcript of my episodes and kindly keep your comments to yourself.

Ali’s First Christmas

It’s my first Christmas as Alison, and in many ways I have never been happier.

The blog has died down in recent weeks, but I’m not stressing about it. I’ve been doing a lot of writing, both over at Wattpad and in a private writing group where I’m blazing on a novel. It feels good.

Life just feels good, generally. My first Christmas as myself, both in my heart and on my driver’s license, is something I’ve wanted for a long time. I was so close to it last year, but it was a few days after Christmas that I came out to my kids and more than a month later before I started telling everyone. To be here now, a year later, finally whole … the feeling can’t be quantified. It just is.

Oh! And I was recently interviewed for an article in the Toledo Blaze, a thing that happened because someone read the Skeptoid article I wrote on Christmas last year. So that was pretty cool.

There are a lot of things I could be complaining about right now, job and money chief amongst them, but there will be time for that after the holidays.  I will also write more regularly on the blog again after the new year. The next few days are about my kids, my family, and my Self.

Happy holidays, everyone.

Tara Sue

About a decade ago, my brother-in-law loaned me his copy of City of Heroes. At the time I was craving an MMORPG but didn’t feel that I had the time to invest in World of Warcraft. CoH seemed like a good choice — it felt more casual to me, and it was in a genre I loved.

Character creation in CoH was pretty standard for superhero games — decide on a power type, choose powers, set your costume, and on your way. I decided to make a “strong” character based on a technology power type. So I made a tall, well-muscled woman with a long blonde ponytail and a cybernetic arm (and maybe leg, too — I don’t recall anymore). She basically punched really hard, jumped really high, and had a few other powers. No lasers, no cape [“NO CAPES!”], no weapon. Just a girl with a big punch who was taller than all the other female PCs I encountered. I named her Tara Titan because she was so tall and strong (named after the Greek Titans, of course) and because name alliteration is a standard comic book trope (e.g., Silver Surfer, Peter Parker, Martian Manhunter, etc.).

I’m not going to admit that Tara was some kind of Mary Sue for my trans self at the time, but she was endemic of the kind of characters I always played in MMOs: female, pretty but not sexy, and always the very first character I created in a game. My alt character was always male, I guess to take the curse off it; but I never played that male alt much. My female PCs were always the first to reach the level cap. The only thing that made Tara stand out from the rest was than I didn’t give her some variation of a name with Ali in it.

Something about the Tara Titan concept stuck around long after I stopped playing CoH. I liked her, liked the idea of her, and eventually recruited her into my fiction. Tara’s journey from a City of Heroes PC to the leading P.O.V. character in the superhero opus I’ve been composing in my head since middle school is not a story easily told. It’s just one of the creative quirks in my head: eventually, every idea of value I have seems to get swept up in the Touched. My brain is wired for epic world-building. You’d think, given such a proclivity, that I would be the kind of nerd who obsesses over Tolkien’s Silmarillion or who knows the name of every midshipman on the USS Enterprise, but you’d be wrong. I don’t enjoy being a fan of such universes. I just want to build my own.

I tell this story merely as backdrop to this week’s big Wattpad experiment. I thought you might want to know a little about where she came from … and why certain story events are about to happen. It’s weird sometimes; once an idea digs in I don’t like to change it so much as make it fit the story. Tara is no longer a technology hero, but the original had that cybernetic arm and there’s a fragment of that concept that I just couldn’t let go. I will be interested to see how it plays out on the page.

There are four segments of The Trials of Tara Titan published right now, clocking in at over 5,000 words, and I hope to have another 1,000 up by the end of the day. Give it a read, why don’t’cha? Thanks.

The Trials of Tara Titan

Last week was a bit of a derailing for my writing. I’m back on track though this week, and I have begun writing something I’ve wanted to get serious about for a long time.

Tara_Cover_NewI have tried for years to get a story out of my head. Honestly, there are many stories in there clamoring for attention, but one in particular has been in my heart and in my head since quite literally middle school, where the first seeds of the idea planted themselves. I have tried and failed in the past to tell some part of this story, including a spectacular fail at writing a “Twitter novel” back around 2008. Now, I think that both the idea and my own writing have matured to the point where the story can be told in full

The overarching series concept is called The Touched. Put briefly, it’s my take on a superhero mythology. Emphasis on the mythology, because my superheros derive their super abilities not from mutation or accident or alien intervention, but from the myths and legends of yore. Thor and Wonder Woman are probably the popular heroes closest to what I mean, though my own ideas are a unique take on things — at least, I like to think so. It’s a concept that has slowly consumed a lot of ideas over the years, not to mention a lot of my personal views on the world. The resultant story is so much bigger than I ever expected it to be. It’s daunting to think about telling it all.

There’s plenty to tell about the world of the Touched, but for now I’m just going to sit back and let readers discover it as it comes. The first serial, The Trials of Tara Titan, is already started on Wattpad, which will be my de facto platform for now. By the time this post publishes there will be four parts of Tara Titan’s story online with more to follow soon. Tara’s story is a long one that will probably continue the way comic serials continue, for a long time to come.

A second short serial, tentatively titled Under a Violent Moon, will probably begin just after the new year. That story has a definite end (think like a comic book miniseries). You’ll meet the hero, Leila, along with Tara before UaVM starts.

Suffice to say that any success in this venture boosts my ability to write as a professional. Wattpad books have become published books; Wattpad writers have become bestselling writers. So please, if you like what I do here, click through and read what I’ve written so far. And if you like what you read please follow the story on Wattpad [one more account isn’t going to kill you] and please vote for my story so that it gets more visibility and hopefully readers. Wattpad can be a big boost for the right stories. I think mine can be one of them.