Category Archives: Labyrinthian

LABYRINTHIAN giveaway – ebook and trade paperback!

14794919024_73b09979e4_c

OKAY SO

I love giving shit away. Let’s give some shit away

Between now and February 10, you can enter to win one of three copies of the Labyrinthian trade paperback over here. WHICH IS AWESOME

BUT I’M NOT DONE

Between now and February 10 you can ALSO enter to win one of three copies of the ebook in your choice of format right HERE:

And of course I won’t spam you unless you want me to and even then it’ll just be pictures of my cats. And if I sell your info to anyone else it’ll just be my cats, and they won’t do anything with it because they’re cats.

FREE BOOKS YAY

LABYRINTHIAN: here is a FAQ

I HAVE A BOOK COMING OUT ON THE 20TH

14794919024_73b09979e4_cI haven’t been talking about it as much as I would prefer for reasons of workload, but I figure it might be good to post some info on it given that it’s like ten days away. It’s a book I’m really proud of. There are some things you may wish to know about it, so here are some answers to some questions you may have. You’re welcome.

  1. Q: What the hell is it? A: It’s a book. It’s a book about mythic science fiction and spaceships and bounty hunters and shooting and more spaceships and genetically engineered supersoldiers with anxiety about social situations and family-related angst and the bounty hunter who might eventually figure out how he feels about him. It’s about facing death gracefully and the long journey toward self-acceptance. It’s about faith and confronting the loss of it. It’s about learning to love someone. There are more spaceships also. And dudes making out.
  2. Q: When is it out? A: I told you. The 20th. Pay attention.
  3. Q: Okay, don’t get snippy. What formats? A: Ebook in all the flavors of the rainbow and trade paperback both.
  4. Q: Can I preorder it? A: FUNNY YOU SHOULD ASK also if you do you get a nifty discount
  5. Q: Are you going to be giving away any copies? A: Yep! Two copies of the paperback via Goodreads, starting tomorrow. Concurrently I’ll be giving away three copies of the ebook via my site. I’ll post the link when it’s up.
  6. Q: How long did it take you to write it? A: A month. It was extraordinarily fast for me. Ironically I started it in mid-October and finished in the middle of November so it would have counted as winning NaNoWriMo if I had just timed it right.
  7. Q: Is it good? A: I like to think so.
  8. Q: Is there sex in it? A: Quite a lot.
  9. Q: Is there plot? A: Quite a lot.
  10. Q: Are there feelings? A: A tremendous amount.
  11. Q: Is it actually romance? A: I’d say absolutely so, though it’s romance with the SFnal parts equally important and deeply interwoven. It does not work at all without the science fiction. I hate genre finickiness but if that’s a thing you wonder about there’s the answer.
  12. Q: I notice it’s in the same universe as this other Line and Orbit book. Do I need to read that too in order to get what’s going on? A: Nope. This is fully a standalone. That said, reading Line and Orbit will give you a heftier dose of worldbuilding and probably allow you to get a little more out of it. Also I like when people buy my books. Buy my books.
  13. Q: I love you and I want you to have money. Where will buying it give you the most money? A: Buying it anywhere at all is awesome but if you want me to have slightly more money buy directly from Samhain. I get a higher royalty rate there.
  14. Q: Will you sign my copy? A: If you track me down in meatspace, sure.
  15. Q: Will you be my friend? A: I will be your bestest best friend.

I think I’ve covered everything. But shoot me a line if I haven’t addressed your question here.

LABYRINTHIAN: why I stopped giving fucks and started writing porn again

tumblr_m3zddgC5b11rt2r0xo1_1280

My first paid sale ever was in 2009, a piece of flash erotica to Circlet Press for $5. It was a revelation: I could write stuff and people would pay me. More, I could write smut – something I enjoyed (and enjoy) doing and had been doing for years as part of the fanfic I was producing – and people would pay me. Everything that’s happened since – the novels, the short story sales, the best-ofs and joining SFWA and getting drunk at cons – is probably due to that one little $5 bit of porn.

(It’s been collected in a Circlet microfiction anthology, which will be out soon, so watch for that).

So for a while after that pretty much everything I wrote and sold was erotica, specifically erotica with a speculative element. Usually I was publishing through Circlet’s (fantastic) themed anthologies. My first non-erotic short fiction publication was months later, in January 2010, and it was to a little non-paying zine called The Absent Willow Review, which has since folded. In the fall of 2009 I and my co-author Lisa began the massive undertaking that would eventually become Line and Orbit, which is very solidly in space opera/science fantasy territory, so it wasn’t all porn. But that was a lot of it, and for a long time after, even once I branched out a bit, it remained the backbone of my writing.

Then I drifted away from it. There were a number of reasons for that, mostly to do with ambition. I beheld the big name SFWA-qualifying zines and I wanted to crack them more than anything, so I battered at them with my stories until, one by one, I broke through. I continued to write erotica here and there – especially when friends put out calls for specific projects – but for the most part my energy was going elsewhere.

But I honestly think there was something else going on, and that thing was a subtle sense that if I wanted to make a career in this genre, erotica wasn’t the “right kind” of writing for me to be doing.

Never mind that some of the best stuff I’ve ever read has had loads of sex in it. Never mind that I’m pretty damn good at it. Never mind that I owe it a huge amount – writing about sex taught me to write about people, about emotion, about the intensity and even the violence of intimacy. It taught me to write about ecstasy and transformation, and therefore ultimately taught me to write about death, which is something I keep returning to in my stuff.

Erotica gets a bad rap. I think some of it is that there’s a huge amount of it and it’s very commercial, which (somewhat correctly, in my opinion) leads one to the belief that a lot of it isn’t very good. But that’s true of almost any commercial writing. But I think some of it is that it’s often if not usually people who identify as women writing, buying, and reading it, and that’s obviously a point worth a degree of attention.

I think I came to believe that I shouldn’t spend my time on porn. That I shouldn’t put it in my short fiction (though thankfully I didn’t completely buy into that) and I shouldn’t put it in my novels. Not if I wanted to be taken seriously. Which I do.

Then I had a rough fucking couple of years.

I took and passed my PhD qualifying exams, which a few months later led to an emotional and mental crisis point that kicked me back into therapy and back on a fun array of medications. I wrote and defended a dissertation proposal which led, through the course of the next year, into months and months of anxiety and internal conflict regarding my advising situation and my relationship with my department. I began to question whether I wanted to work in academia, whether I wanted to finish my dissertation, whether I wanted to do any of this at all. In the middle of it I began a trilogy of fantasy novels (Casting the Bones) that’s been both rewarding and exhausting to write, in part because it’s been an arena for the exorcism of some demons. I was also dealing with some very painful and frustrating business surrounding the (still homeless) Line and Orbit sequel, and I wrote and then rewrote another book which I ultimately had to give up and shelve.

14794919024_73b09979e4_cAnd then, last fall, I just fucking had it. I was a thousand percent done. I threw up my hands, dug into the bottom of my Idea Sack, and wrote Labyrinthian in about a month.

I wanted to write something fun. Something silly and pulpy. Something wherein I abandoned the idea of Being Taken Seriously, where I allowed myself to get tropey as all hell, wherein I could play. And particularly, I wanted to write something with a lot of sex. Part of this was because books with lots of sex often sell decently and I happen to like money, but it was also because I like writing sex and goddammit, I’m GOOD AT IT. And I had no more fucks to give. My box of fucks was empty. The field in which I grow my fucks? You know the state it was in.

Labyrinthian is about a lot more than sex. It’s the story of two broken people learning how to be together physically and emotionally, but it’s also a story about trying to go home when you’ve lost all certainty of what home even is, and about trying to find family and simultaneously to find independence from the same. It’s about confronting death gracefully and about trying to discover meaning in life when your life is about to be cut short. It’s about rage and letting rage go, and all of these are things with which I wrestle every day.

But there’s also a lotta porn in it, boy howdy.

I’ve done a lot of talking in 2014 about how I’m trying to write about the stuff that scares me, the stuff I’m not sure I should be writing about at all. I’ve made it my mission to take anger and fear and ugliness and make something beautiful out of it, for myself more than for anyone else. So here’s what I want to do in 2015. Here’s my Writer Resolution, such as it is.

I’m going to write about whatever I fucking want.

url

(and here are preorder links for Labyrinthian if that’s something you’re into.)

LABYRINTHIAN: first look!

14794919024_73b09979e4_c

I wasn’t going to launch into promo for this book until September, but whatever, it’s almost September, and I want to. So here’s the first chapter of Labyrinthian, which – recap – is coming out in January from Samhain Publishing. It’s a (very, very loose) retelling of the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur IN SPACE, and it’s set in the Line and Orbit universe, though it doesn’t feature any of the characters from that book and it stands totally on its own. It takes place shortly after the events of Line and Orbit, and if the L&O sequel ever actually gets a release, one should assume that it’s happening concurrent with that.

Here’s the blurb:

A hunter should never fall for his prey.
A hunter’s heart should never fall prey to his quarry.

Still nursing his latest post-mission hangover, bounty hunter Theseus jumps at a high-paying, high-risk job that sounds ridiculously easy. Yet from the moment he nabs the alleged supersoldier with sedative gas, nothing is as it seems.

On the run from the facility where he was created and raised, Taur is desperate to locate his genetically engineered brothers and sisters. To rescue them—and himself—from slavery. Waking aboard Theseus’ ship, his fury is tempered by curiosity about his captor. Despite his doubts about his prisoner, Theseus figures it’d be risky to let Taur go—until they’re thrown together by a shared betrayal. They declare a tentative truce as they flee from a shadowy and immensely powerful organization that will stop at nothing to find them.

But as they wrestle with their growing feelings for each other, Taur and Theseus face an even greater danger. A lethal threat lurking inside Taur’s own body, waiting to explode…

goodreads-badge-add-plus-d700d4d3e3c0b346066731ac07b7fe47

So here’s the first chapter, which introduces Taur and reveals the fact that he’s not having a very good day, or week, or life.

(Warning: this actually gets pretty violent at one point)

Continue reading

LABYRINTHIAN cover art. At last.

14794919024_73b09979e4_c

Why yes, that does look more than a little bit like Sufjan Stevens. Let’s all take a second to enjoy that.

Here, this might help.

Sisyphus “Take Me” (NSFW) from Ryan Dickie on Vimeo.

Expect a lot more yelling and flailing soon.

LABYRINTHIAN score, part the first

As I’m going through the edits for Labyrinthian and reacquainting myself with the sense of it as a story, it strikes me again that it feels very cinematic as I write it. And I know I’m not the only one who does the fitting-of-movie-scores to my stuff. So here, as part of my process, is one of the pieces that feels like it would fit in perfectly with this particular book. Maybe even as the main/opening theme. The vaguely ticking sound goes very well with the fact that one of my main characters is dealing with a major and potentially lethal time crunch.

I mean, BT is just amazing in general. Probably gonna post more of him.

On writing (cisgender male) gay romance and Strong Female Characters

image by Jason Chan

image by Jason Chan

I just got the novel edits for Labyrinthian (my tropey gay retelling of the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur IN SPAAAAACE), which is a tad overwhelming – there is much work to be done, though most of it is cosmetic – but also exciting, because I love this book and I’m looking forward to getting it in tip-top shape for its release this coming January. My editor is a lovely person and graciously takes the time to make sure I know what she really likes – which always feels good – and she mentioned that she appreciated how many of the women in Labyrinthian are in positions of power and protection. That was very conscious on my part, because I try very hard to make my stuff rich in terms of diversity and positive representation, but it reminded me of a dilemma I ran into more than once while I was writing the book itself. It’s an interesting one, and it’s one I’ve had to deal with before. I suppose a lot of people who write this kind of gay romance have done so.

My two protagonists/kissy-face participants, Taur and Theseus, are cisgender men. The story is – at least in significant part – the story of their relationship, so they’re both very much the center of the book, and they are the only POV characters. Which means that Labyrinthian, simply by virtue of what it’s about, is going to be very male-focused. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing all of the time, but looking at the structure of my book and the characters in it, I realized that – given how much I care about making my SF diverse and also feminist – I needed to make sure they weren’t the only ones getting significant screen-time, and that they weren’t the only characters with depth.

So I made a lot of my other characters women. Most of my other major secondary characters are women. Phae, Theseus’s ex, is a queer woman of color. And yes, these women are physically strong, self-reliant, smart, competent, sexually independent. Yet all of those things have been used by writers to argue for their work being feminist, leading to the trope of the Strong Female Character.

And the problem with the Strong Female Character is that she’s a cardboard cut-out. She’s there to do a thing, not be a person with all the strengths and weaknessness and complexities that a person has. She might be able to beat you up, but odds are she won’t hold your interest. And in her way, she’s just as sexist a construct as the fainting flower who exists purely to be rescued by the dudely hero. She’s still there to be a Female Character, not a character who’s female.

What makes a strong character? It’s not physical strength. It’s not even necessarily attractive attributes. Consider, oh, 90% of the characters in A Song of Ice and Fire – most of them are at least sort of terrible people who have done many terrible things, and they lie and cheat and stab each other in the back, and some of them are outright cowards, but a lot of them are interesting. They’re strong characters because – at their best – they feel real.

An actual strong female character is real. I’ve seen it reframed as “strong character, female” and I like that a lot.

So I was putting the women in Labyrinthian in important, powerful positions, because I wanted them front and center as much as possible. But I knew that wasn’t going to be enough. I had to make Phae interesting, and I had to do it on her own terms. And I had to pack as much character development for her as I could into a story where she’s not the focus. I had to do the same for the others who show up, some of whom aren’t there for long. I had to at least try. I owed it to them, and I owed it to myself.

I’m not sure if I was entirely successful – I think I did all right, but I’ve learned that readers are very often better judges of that than authors are – but I hope I did. I love the women in Labyrinthian just as much as I love Taur and Theseus, and I hope that love comes through. I hope you enjoy them, even the ones you only meet briefly. I know they’re looking forward to meeting you.