A short Alex and Milos story from a couple of years, and also weirdly on topic for today's #aNovelRomance prompt.
"If I start getting grey hairs, it's going to be your fault," Milos grumbled. One shove had the file moving as gracefully across the dashboard as Milos did over the training floor: not at all.
"If that falls off you're putting all the files back in order from memory," Alex said, his gaze never once moving from the road ahead—not even when he lifted his left hand in front of Milos's face to raise his middle finger at a driver gesturing angrily at Alex's godawful inconsiderate driving. "Anyway, what's wrong with you going grey?"
Milos snorted, ignoring the hand. "What's right with it?"
"It'd suit you. Suit your skin."
He blinked and glanced across at Alex's face, half-expecting to see the usual sarcastic smirk. There was none. Alex's expression was completely serious. "So after it goes grey, then white, I can look just like one of those evil drow things people like so much in bad stories?"
"You read too many of those bad stories." Alex very deliberately cut up the driver who'd gestured at him and his smirk briefly returned at the furious honk in retaliation. "You could just try ignoring them."
"Try telling my old classmates that," Milos grumbled, sinking lower into his seat and folding his arms. "They didn't mean it badly, I'm pretty sure of it. But it was like..." He unfolded his arms long enough to gesture vaguely, and from the corner of his eye watched Alex's eyebrow lift. "Like 'hey Milos, look, there are elves like you in this story!' and it was something like how all dokkalfa were evil except for the poor misunderstood hero. Load of crap."
When he glanced back, the smirk had returned. No need to ask "what?" —particularly given Alex would enjoy not telling him until he simply gave up and Alex could feel superior—so he just glared out the passenger window at the cars passing by far too fast thanks to Alex's speed-demon tendencies.
In the end his patience paid off, because the top item on the long list of things he knew Alex hated was being ignored. "You don't think you're the evil one to all the people we bring in? Like I was to you and still am to that idiot Simon?"
Simon at least had a point, Milos reflected: Alex had tried to run him off the road the first time Milos met the ljusalfa and, even before Milos had been experimented on, had invested significant effort into terrifying the shit out of him. Still, he supposed it was a valid point "They keep trying to kill me though, and I don't try to kill them."
"Someone else might. Research might, if they get the paperwork."
Another memory he'd rather not let surface; he stared studiously out the passenger window and wished he couldn't feel Alex's gaze flick across his cheek. "So what you're saying is, we're all evil to someone?"
"If you like." He could hear the verbal shrug. "Though my main point was, actually..."
God, he could hear him grinning.
"...I still think you'd look alright with white hair."
Milos scowled. No matter how much he knew it was coming, it never made it any better. "And when you go grey?"
The growl in the back of Alex's throat told him exactly where that grin had gone. "I won't."
"How can you be so sure?"
"Because fucking hair dye exists."
This time it was Milos's turn to grin and, beside him, he felt Alex relax slightly even as the car accelerated to cut off another driver in the far right lane. The image of Alex, in his nineties but still with excellent teeth and raven black hair, was far more amusing—and, of all things, strangely appealing—than he'd ever expected.
I keep meaning to update this but work and life really do enjoy getting in the way. I've not updated my hobby blog either, which is a problem because that's going to be a big one...
So what's been happening lately?
So it's been relatively peaceful, aside from work which is being as mystifying as usual.
The #aNovelRomance interview with Alex and Milos can be found beneath the Read More on the bottom right-hand side of the entry... not least because we're on day 27 and they really do like to argue. Even within the constraints of Twitter, it's become quite long and these have been edited for clarity, so slightly longer still. Also I do recommend checking out the other interviews on the hashtag. Everyone's characters are so varied and interesting!
Without further ado...
On the plus side, it's getting better. I don't get a randomly cold right hand any more, very little tingling in the fingers, and I can us a computer more and more without the brace on (which is good, but I probably shouldn't be doing).
On the minus side? I'm now getting pain about halfway down my forearm, which feels like it's somehow between the two bones.
Which is unpleasant.
I really need to look up some exercises. At least writing doesn't require the brace and doesn't involve arm pain, but on that front the heat's done a number on my brain, so not much going on there either...
(Yes that's totally an excuse.)
It's been pretty quiet on the paltrygeist front. It doesn't seem that we've had much either on the poulter front or the geist end since late last year / early this year. The curtain between the kitchen and utility room is still trying to either garrotte me or hug me (but most likely garrotte) despite the fact that I changed it from a plastic butcher-style curtain to a bamboo one, but I've never been sure if that was a manifestation of whatever the hell this is or not.
(Although having it continue after changing it to something heavier is suspect, I guess. It still has a thing for food too.)
On the whole, it's been fairly peaceful.
Until one of the dogs tried to sneak into the kitchen to steal the cat meat last night and something threw the plastic lid of the steamer right at her.
There was this almighty clatter and as I knew where she'd sneaked I shouted at her — she's a phenomenally clumsy dog* — and went to pick up what she'd knocked over.
Except she hadn't. Not unless she'd somehow climbed on top of the drying rack beside the sin, which is where the steamer lid was. And I'd left it angled back towards the window, so for it to miraculously fall by itself, it'd have fallen against the wall.
So yes, the paltrygeist took the opportunity to victimise my poor dog.
Words were had.
* She often looks over her shoulder while she's walking, turns back and usually thumps her head into a cupboard or door or something. I've also seen her trip over her own feet before.
Yes, the time has arrived! To celebrate the date I was supposed to be born, all my m/m romance stories on Amazon are free for today only! Just click the button below to be taken to my author page.
I'm a big fan of GameTee, a UK tabletop / video game merch company run by two sisters. They consistently come out with some of the most attractive and inventive products you can find, from game-related pin badges to dice and handmade scented candles, and they do Kickstarters for their newest products.
This is one of their Kickstarters: a D&D-based deck of cards that can be used for anything, from game outcomes to in-game, uh, games. It has uses outside of D&D too; personally, I bought this for use with my NaNo group, since my tarot deck is very sarcastic and takes no prisoners. (I guess that's what you get for buying a deck from The Works...)
In theory, you can divine from anything... but when you're in a café it's a little hard to work from flocks of starlings, and I'm not sure the art of reading coffee foam is as venerated as tea leaves. And for all that writers tend to be a sceptical bunch, you'd be surprised at how popular the tarot deck was for asking questions about plot holes.
Which is (partially) where this comes in. I didn't just buy it for my NaNo group, but as a handy prompt tool for writing, to sit alongside the tarot cards, the Storymatic cards (which I'll admit I did buy just for my NaNo group) and my Story Dice (which I keep misreading upside-down; I thought a flame was a dragon).
Not that I've used it for that yet... I mostly used it to ask whether I should attempt Camp NaNo (a very emphatic no with the Ruin card, and sage advice too as I think I've completed it all of once, finishing The Reconstruction of Kirill) or whether I should continue with drawing (a tentative yes with the Knight card), and whether I should work on a story that's just started forming in my head (an enigmatic yes).
The thing with these cards is, they pretty much ooze quality. The card's nice and thick, well-backed and solid-feeling. The reflective side is incredibly reflective: I showed them to writing friends last Saturday and they were startled too. For reference: the bright blue highlight in the photos is my old Nokia phone cover... which was around a meter away and about a foot below the edge of the desk.
These are seriously nice cards. GameTee's products are always so nicely made so the high quality shouldn't be a surprise, and yet when you handle these cards you're surprised again by just how fantastic something as mundane as a set of cards can really be.
As an aside, they also go beautifully with their purple metal dice. Just in case you needed a little encouragement one way or the other.
I’ve had crushing writer’s block for over a year, despite having forced myself to fix a short story into something approaching almost-decent and rewrote three or four chapters of a story, faffing with a few others, because I realised the main character was somehow an insufferable, self-entitled shit. (Person reading it at the minute hadn’t realised they’d been rewritten and was surprised when I said so... hoping that’s a good sign.)
But it’s just irritating now. I started writing about a sculptor who’s starting to think he’s haunted (possibly by a statue he’s working on, possibly by one giant, sentient rat, but that might just be the heat...) a year or two ago, and stopped because the last half of the story hadn’t yet bothered to turn up in my head.
Now the second half has finally appeared, and I wanted to rewrite it because the original is choppy; I was already struggling at the time.
And I keep having to give up. No rewriting should ever make something worse.
I’m going to sit with my earphones on listening to my thematically coloured songs for a while in the hope I can finally turn what I’m seeing into actual words.
On the subject of thematically coloured songs... I was redoing my music playlist to remove all the wrong-coloured songs and ensuring everything on it is orange- or yellow-sounding... went to add an ADHDS song and wiped the whole damn thing. I just stared at it blankly for half the song, then had to set to work rebuilding it again.
I think it worked out for the best, because I could add in some songs I'd forgotten about the first time. I'm making myself take it as a victory.
(Although technically Steam Powered Giraffe's Ghost Grinder is green, but I like it too much. I'll remove it if it distracts me, but I don't think it will...)
I was a 10-month baby. Apparently I was so comfortable I just didn't want to be born, and because I was so small the doctors refused to believe that it was 10 months. Yes, they apologised after the fact, when I was delivered with lots of hair, fingernails so long they had to be immediately trimmed and zero amniotic fluid left.
One weird side effect of this is I have no idea what star sign I should be considered. I mean, I was supposed to be born in July. I was just... well, lazy. What am I? Cancer? Leo? Who even knows any more? I'm the soggiest fire sign ever, that's for sure.
So to celebrate this most unceremonious of events, you get the bonus* of two sales: one on my actual birthday of the 15th of August, and my unBirthday on the 15th July! You can pick up all my books on Amazon for free on both these dates and help me celebrate the day I should have been born as well as the time I (eventually) was.
See you on the 15th!
* You may disagree with that choice of words.
One of the many, many fun things about being autistic is the inability to relate to other people.
And I don't mean like an inability to be empathetic to people, because (sometimes) I do to a ridiculous degree. And objects. It's funny how people assume autistic people are logical to a fault and can't empathise with people, but we can. We just need you to not be so goddamn stupid (my main failing with empathy, including with myself).
Which makes life... difficult. Particularly if you didn't know you were autistic up until your early 30s. And a lot of autistic people discover they're autistic because they have kids on the spectrum and they see the symptoms in themselves but, y'know, there's nothing for adults who discover this by themselves. They don't have kids because they're trans, massively dysphoric, and can't eventually work out if they're trans because they're trans or if they're trans because they're autistic — because there's a high correlation between being autistic and gender dysphoria.
But most of all this trans adult, who was born in the 80s, wants to scream and rant, why wasn't this noticed before? Why did every single teacher ignore what turned out to be a massive red flag so large a herd of bulls could've charged right through it?
And I'm angry, like you would not believe. Because I look back on my life and I see everything I know now about, and how all these people in power over me should've seen them, but they couldn't fucking be arsed because I'd been conditioned since the age of five to shut my fucking mouth and get the fuck on with it. I didn't act out (for the most part) because I'd have copped hell in my home life (because telling my parents repeatedly I was a boy got me told it was "just a phase;" can you imagine what full-on autism would've been? even though in retrospect everyone agrees my father was autistic?) except for a couple of times, most notably when I bit someone. Isn't it funny how the biter gets in trouble when they were being physically assaulted in their school seat by the bitee?
i'm angry and resentful and there's nowhere for this anger and resentment to go. Where can it go? The schools that failed me are all run by other people. My mother couldn't care less unless it revolves around her.
I can't speak to anyone normally any more. I'm always looking for the 'right' answer. I used to play RPGs, tabletop games; I was still always looking for the right answer, the answer that would make people like me. Well that's impossible. People hate me for breathing. For existing. I don't know why I thought I could roleplay.
I'm just sick of everything. What's the point when every single little thing is stacked against you? You can't sell books because you're not personable on Twitter or Facebook, because you're always looking for a right answer that nothing in your life will ever supply. No one gives a single fuck about you because you're so autistic you can barely function — and yet you have to function, because you're also a full-time carer who works full time, and incidentally you have no friends at work and increasingly fewer shifts because of the above. In fact, all you've got out of work is the need for a wrist brace.
You don't even really have any friends. No one around you cares enough to check in on you (unless they want something, in which case having got it they vanish). Your neighbours dump their cuttings over your fence because they're inconsiderate bastards who already make your garden stink like an old pub — but that's okay because... what? Because they're a waste of space? Because. much like your mother, they think they world revolves around them and all the hedge waste they've thrown into your garden will miraculously clear itself up without them doing a thing?
Ain't life wonderful?
And people wonder why people commit suicide.
I complained a while ago about how EU privacy laws and US anti-spam laws involve having to publicise your address on every email newsletter you send out, even if it's your home address, or risk a fine of $42,530 per email under the US's CAN-SPAM Act or a max fine of €20 million or 4% of your global turnover, whichever's higher, under EU rules. (That giving out my home address per-email would be a breach of GDPR is a bit of irony, I guess...)
While I can see the logic, kind of, it's... not something any LGBT person feels safe doing. Nothing like hanging a big sign over your door and yelling "hey, here I am" by handing out your home address willy-nilly, right? I'm only a writer who barely sells a couple of books a year, not a massive company like Facebook who, incidentally, have already begun appealing their £500,000 fine over Cambridge Analytica, not something I think l'il old me could get away with.
The advice most often given on sites is "get a PO Box." Unfortunately, it's advice usually given by American writers who have a massive range of variable prices for them, ranging from as little $34/year (£26) for little ones in small towns to ~$150-200 (£115-154) for larger areas.
In contrast, a Royal Mail PO Box in the UK, if you travel out to pick up any mail yourself (you're screwed if you don't live near an accessible delivery office) is £270 ($351) a year. If you want them to forward your mail on to you, then it's £342 ($444) a year.
So... bearing in mind my stunning book sales, that is... well, bluntly, it's one hell of a rip-off. (But it's the Royal Mail, so what did I expect? I have a hard enough time stopping them from stealing my deliveries as it is. They had another Kickstarter reward away a few months ago, the thieving bastards. With the value of goods they've stolen from me now, I should be good for a whole free year of collect-your-own...)
So I figured that was it, I'd just give up. As the Canadian humourist Stephen Leacock said, "If at first you don’t succeed, quit, quit at once." It's a bit galling though, especially when everyone's banging on about how 'every author needs a mailing list' but it's out of your reach because of pricing and privacy issues.
Well, I can't remember what I was irritably Googling last night, but I remembered the whole thorny problem and eventually stumbled over UK Postbox, a non-Royal Mail PO box with a wide variety of plans including crucially, one that gives you a PO Box and only charges you for the mail you receive (£1.20): they open it and scan it for you (£1.20 per letter) and you can decide if you want it forwarding on to your home address.
As it's priced per letter it could easily add up to be expensive if you were expecting a deluge of post, but as I suspect that at even ~£2.40/letter it'll be under £12/month, the Pay As You Go tier is the best for me. There are other prices available, as well as other services (you can pay to have a fancy London address, for example, should your audience be more on the snobbish side) and on the whole it beats having a Royal Mail PO Box. Particularly as, with the price of petrol (or indeed the extortionate cost of the Skylink to Derby, which is a whole separate rant regarding Trent Barton's misleading advertising practices) I don't think I'd actually be saving money on fetching the post myself.
Unless I suddenly become massively popular and end up needing a proper PO Box, but if that ever happens then I'd hope the book sales might, just might, cover it...
Until that day so distant on the horizon it might as well not exist... at least this is another thing now out of the way.
Asexual, aromantic, and transmasc non-binary. No, I have no idea how I ended up writing romance either.