Writing Q & A: Vol. 1

Over the last few months I’ve had people reaching out to me looking for advice. Sometimes this advice is about using a platform like Wattpad, but for the most part it’s just about writing.

Now, I don’t consider myself an expect in anything, especially not writing. But when people reach out, I don’t want to leave them hanging (I mean, they’re asking me for a reason, right?) I’ve spent a lot of time crafting thoughtful responses for these people and, after answering a handful of these community questions, I thought other people might find them handy too.

With this in mind, I’ve decided to start an informal writer’s Q & A series here on my blog. Whenever I get a new batch of questions (through Wattpad, Twitter, e-mail, whatever) I’ll put together a new post. Hopefully someone finds this information useful!

Q – I love like LOVE your stories and I wish you would add more faster. But overall I wish I could write like you. any tips for writing LGTBQ (etc.) stories?

A – While everyone has their own way of learning and improving their writing, here are a few things that have helped me over the years:

  • Write often. Even if it’s just a hundred words; the more you write, the better you’ll get. It doesn’t even have to be stories! Before I started writing fiction I kept a personal blog for years. Writing regularly makes it easier to translate the ideas in your head into words. It will also help you write like yourself instead of forcing yourself to write the way you think you should sound.
  • Read! Good books, bad books; short stories, long novels; fiction, non-fiction. It doesn’t matter what you read, it just matters that you do. This will help you understand how to tell stories, what works, what doesn’t, style, etc.
  • Write the story you want to tell. A lot of people get hung up trying to tell the story they think other people want to read. I didn’t think many people would want to read a fantasy story about two girls who fall in love, but the story was important to me so I wrote it anyway. When you’re passionate about the story you’re telling, it shows!
  • Be authentic, especially when you write queer stories. If you identify as queer, write what you know and what you feel. Your experience is valid and if you write your truth, the reader will be able to feel it. If you don’t identify as queer, take the time to do some research first. Talk to people who identify as the characters you’re trying to write, read non-fiction articles about those identities, and keep an open mind. If you’re not sure where to start, there’s a lot of great resources on Wattpad’s official LGBTQ profile!
  • Finally – and this is important – be open to feedback. In September of 2016 I was almost half way through The Star and the Ocean when I decided to take the whole thing down and rework it based on feedback I had gotten from readers on Wattpad. Constructive criticism is hard to take, no matter how nice the person who’s giving it is. But you need to ask yourself: do you want your story to be as good as it can be? If the answer is yes, the listen to your readers and try to see things from their perspective. Not every bit of feedback is going to be valid but some of it will be! Just remember: first drafts always suck, feedback on your story isn’t a personal attack (unless the person is just trying to be a jerk), and working on making your story stronger is part of every writer’s process!

Four more Q&As under the cut!

Continue reading

Attention TSATO Readers: I Need Your Input!

Have you ever been so close to a project that you actually find it challenging to describe it to people? This is how I am with The Star and the Ocean; I’ve spent so much time completely engrossed in its world that, when I have to take a step back and present it as a simplified concept, I… can’t.

For the most part, my inability to sum TSATO up in a neat and tidy way hasn’t really been a problem. However, I’ve recently been asked to provide a bunch of information about the book and, needless to say: I. Am. STRUGGLING!

This may sound ridiculous but I’m kind of hoping you, dear reader, can help me out. Here’s what I need:

Comparative Titles

I always knew this day was coming: I’ve been asked to come up with a comparative set – some existing stories (books, movies, TV) that are similar to TSATO in some way – and I am drawing an absolute blank.

If you’ve read or watched something that reminded you of TSATO, what was it? And why would you compare the two?

Themes

Listen, I graduated from university ages ago; I thought I was through with analyzing literary themes when I completed my English minor!

What do you think some of the themes of the book are? I have a few thoughts, but I’d like to make sure my readers are on the same page (ha!) before I go making any wild claims.

 

THANK YOU!

The Wind and the Horizon: Chapter Twenty Three

[ Beginning | Previous Chapter ]

Content warning: sexual/physical assault mentions, PTSD trauma, sex


With each day that passed, the awkwardness and tension lifted. Though Jeremy remained cold toward May, she found herself warming up to the other members of WIND.

According to Priva, it would take three more days for the group to arrive at a small town called Luxton where they would be able to take a brief rest and resupply. The town was a stop along a train route that would take them to their next destination; the city of York.

“You’re amazing with these maps,” May remarked as she hunched beside Priva, watching her trace the path they would follow with the tip of her finger.

“I’d better be,” Priva laughed. “Cartography is in my blood.”

“How so?”

Priva pointed to a signature in the bottom corner of the map. It didn’t register as anything familiar to May, but Priva was clearly proud of it.

“My great granddaddy drew this map himself when he explored this range as a young man,” she explained. “People think we’ve found all that’s worth seeing in this world. But there are still so many remote places waiting to be understood. I even like to map out the places I’ve been, just in case I’ve seen something other explorers have missed.”

“That’s incredible!” May was so enthralled that she listened to Priva explain the finer points of cartography and tell stories about her great-grandfather for half a day out on the trail, hanging on every word.

After dinner the following evening, May was helping Rue clean up when she noticed the far off look in her eyes as she gazed into the dying fire.

“How are you holding up?” May asked kindly.

Rue started slightly. “I’m sorry. I was just…”

“Thinking of Gaten?”

There was a heartbeat of silence. “Yes.”

“I can’t even begin to imagine how you’re feeling,” May said. “I have a nephew back home and I love him like crazy. Don’t tell Em this, but when we first went into hiding I would wait for her to fall asleep and then I would cry because I missed him so much.”

“Oh, May.” Rue pressed a hand to her heart. “That’s awful. I’m so sorry.”

“No, don’t be!” May balked. “I only bring it up because I thought that was bad. I was a mess over it. And yet here you are, going what you’re going through, and you’re being so brave about it. Gaten is going to be so proud of you.”

Eyes glistening, Rue still managed to smile. “That’s a very sweet thing to say, May. Thank you.”

They worked for a couple more moments in a silence that was lighter than a moment earlier.

“So, you like kids then?” Rue asked, unexpectedly continuing the conversation.

May grinned. “Yeah. I mean, I spent a lot of time looking after my nephew and he just… I don’t know. I guess kids just have a way of giving you a whole new perspective on things.”

“They sure do,” Rue agreed, laughing.

The more May got to know these people, the better she felt about the dangerous journey they were on together.

She also felt like she was getting a better sense of who Audrey might have been. The person Em had once been often felt like a ghost to May, haunting just out of her line of sight. But the more she learned about the people Audrey had known and loved, the more that spectre seemed to take shape. While Jeremy’s thorny disposition had left May wondering what kind of person could love someone so perpetually hostile, the others gave Audrey more dimension. May could imagine being friends with these people. She could imagine Em being friends with them too, and although May recognized that she still had virtually nothing other than a notion to go on, she couldn’t help but wonder if Em and Audrey were quite as different as her lover insisted they were.

As for that lover, the pair did what they could to make sure the circumstances didn’t come between them. Long after the others fell asleep, May and Em would keep one another awake, rolling and rocking in the throes of love and lust as best they could while trying to stay as quiet as possible.

May loved crawling between Em’s legs, using her tongue to guide her in the darkness as she teased and tasted, feeling Em tremble and buck against her. Em preferred to use her hands. With one she would pin May down while the other worked its magic. The night was like a blindfold that kept May tense with anticipation; each touch was a surprise so overwhelming that it took every ounce of willpower May had not to shatter the silence of midnight with her passion.

On their last night in the woods, long after the lovers had exhausted themselves into sleep, May awoke with a violent, heat-pounding jolt. She sat up, breathless and terrified. Frantically she tried to remember where she was by reminding herself of where she wasn’t.

“It was a dream,” she whispered into the darkness, feeling hot tears slide down her face. “He’s not here. It’s not real.”

Beside her she could feel the softness of Em’s naked body and the gentle rhythm of her breath. She was, somehow, still asleep and May couldn’t bring herself to wake her.

But her nightmare – the feeling of Kane’s greedy mouth on hers, his hands in places they had no business being – refused to release her from its grip. Her lungs panicked for air and her heart wouldn’t stop racing. To May, the world seemed to be tipping, threatening to cast her off into a full fit of panic. Knowing she needed to move – to do something – she crawled, trembling from beneath the covers and pulled on her clothes before staggering out into the cold of the night.

Free of the tent, May doubled over, gasping for breath and pleading with herself to calm down.

“It’s not real,” she wept as quietly as she could. “He can’t hurt you anymore.”

“May, it’s Connor,” she heard in the darkness. “Don’t be frightened.”

Through tear-soaked eyes, May peered around but it was too black for her eyes to focus.

“Connor? Where are you?”

A match flared, illuminating him from where he sat beside the fire pit, a heavy blanket over his shoulders. “Would you like to sit?”

May’s flight instincts were still firing wildly in her mind. It was a struggle for her to overcome the impulse to shrink away, but slowly she shuffled to where Connor sat and lowered herself down beside him just as the match burnt out.

“I’m going to put the blanket on you. Is that okay?” Connor asked, his voice soft and steady.

“Yes,” May whispered back.

In the darkness she felt the full weight of the blanket gently drape across her shoulders. She clutched at its edges, drawing it closer around her body; she hadn’t realized just how cold she had been before now.

They sat in silence for a long time, until the blindness of night came to feel like a hiding place and May felt her heartbeat slow.

When her lungs were at last able to have their fill and her mind had ceased its noise, May looked into the void beside her where she knew Connor was sitting.

“Why are you out here?” she asked.

She heard him release a long, slow exhale. “The same reason you are, I’d imagine.”

“Did you have a nightmare too?”

“Is that what it was?” There was a hint of skepticism in his voice, so faint May wondered if she imagined it.

May considered his question in the privacy the night’s black shroud afforded her; she’d had plenty of nightmares before, but when she really thought about it, she knew this one was different.

“Maybe not,” she admitted finally. “It’s more like a… I don’t know…”

“A flashback?”

She ruminated on the word.

“Yes, I think so.”

Connor hummed. “Me too.”

Questions leapt to May’s mind at his subtle confession, but she wasn’t sure it was her place to ask them.

“We don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to,” Connor said as if reading her mind. “But if you’d like to, I’ve been told I’m a good listener.”

This made May smile despite herself. “I’m not sure why it happens. Something happened to me – was done to me – years ago. Sometimes I relive it in my sleep.”

“Trauma is like a ghost that way; sometimes it doesn’t like to be ignored.”

“What about you?” May asked. ”I mean, we don’t have to talk about it either but-”

“It’s okay,” Connor assured her. “I’ve had a lot of time to get familiar with my ghost. I’m not sure how much you know about the different Star worshipping groups; there are a lot of them out there. My uncle is part of a fairly conservative group that only acts on direct command from the Stars. They opted not to pursue Wishes because, technically, the Stars didn’t sanction the hunt in the first place. But they also frowned on the illegal Wishes.”

Connor paused to sigh. May waited in polite silence.

“I was still pretty young when the Loyals were formed and began hunting down Wishes. My parents thought the safest place for me was in hiding.”

“So they left you with your uncle?” May ventured.

“It was a good idea in theory; the Loyals didn’t suspect such a stringent group of harbouring a Wish. But, like I said, this group didn’t approve of the Wishes either, they just weren’t willing to destroy them. Needless to say, I wasn’t treated very well.”

“They didn’t… hurt you, did they?”

“Very much so.”

The wind passed, rattling the tree branches above them.

“Connor, I’m so sorry.” Already May was feeling terribly guilty for having asked.

“Don’t be,” Connor replied. ”Like I said, I’ve had plenty of time to learn to live with what’s happened to me.”

“But that doesn’t make it alright.”

“No, and it’s not always easy, but I’m doing better now than before. I’m proud of how far I’ve come.” Even in the darkness, May could tell he was looking at her now. “Besides, I’m not the only one out here with ghosts.”


[ Next Chapter ]

Ko-Fi May

The Wind and the Horizon: Chapter Twenty Two

[ Start from the Beginning | Previous Chapter ]


Starborn.

“I don’t…”

May wasn’t sure what she wanted to say in response to Rue’s casual confession. Her mind whirled; hadn’t Em just told her that she was the last known Starborn?

“Do you know what a Starborn is?” Rue asked as if she were broaching a sensitive subject. Her eyes flicked almost imperceptibly to Em, but May caught it and understood. They knew – or at least they suspected – what Em was. This was their chance to confirm it.

Up until that point, May had avoided looking to Em for fear it give them away when they lied. But now she didn’t know what else to do, and so she cast an uneasy glance at her girlfriend, whose crystal eyes were already waiting for her.

Em exhaled slowly. “People like me, you mean?”

Even the flickering shadows of the fire couldn’t mask the fact that everyone was frozen in place. Jeremy held his breath. Everyone waited.

“Come on, don’t act like you’re surprised.” Em laughed off everyone’s tension with an ease May wished she could master. While the others gaped, fish-like and equally wordless, Em eased back onto her palms and gazed around the circle, her expression aloof.

“Who?” Connor blurted at last. “Your parents – who are they?”

“A Star and one of the Emandi,” Em replied with ease.

“What?” Rue gasped.

“Why?” Jeremy demanded.

May balled her hands into tight fists, her nails digging into the soft flesh of her palms. She was lost – she had no idea what an Emandi was – but the others clearly did. May knew if she asked about it now she would blow Em’s story, so she bit her tongue and tried not to let her uncertainty swallow her whole.

“Why would a Star and an Emandi choose to create a life together?” Jeremy scoffed.

Em raised an eyebrow; her stare firm and challenging. “That’s a pretty personal question, don’t you think?”

Her tone was dangerous. May was so overwhelmingly curious she worried her questions would bubble over in a scream.

“Is that why…” Rue looked at Em but pointed to her own eyes. Whatever was implied in Em’s nod seemed to satisfy Rue. “How interesting.”

“Anyway,” Em drawled, draping an arm around May’s shoulders and squeezing in a way May knew was meant to be reassuring. “You were about to tell us about your people?”

“Right.” Rue shook off her daze and forced a smile. “Seeing as you performed the story of the Moon and the Ocean, I’m guessing you’re both already familiar with the legends?”

“The Moon fell in love with the Ocean and the Sun fell in love with the Earth,” May answered, reciting the summary of the creation myths she had grown up listening to on the island of Hoku. “One pair gave birth to all flora and the other to all fauna.”

Rue nodded. “Because the lovers so adored for their new children, they asked the ancients to write them into the story of the universe; to give them destinies and help guide them.”

At this point May could no longer hide her confusion. That she was floundering in new information was clear to Em, who smiled and gave her shoulder another gentle squeeze.

“The Stars,” she explained quietly. “They’re the ancients.”

“Okay, but what does any of this have to do with your people?” May asked, trying to get to the crux of the story – to figure out what the Starborn had to do with any of this. Her brain felt as foggy as it had the night Em had shared her secret and admitted to being part Star.

“For as long as the universe has existed, the Stars have played a part in creating the life within it,” Rue said. “But because they had nothing to do with the new life on this planet, they had to find a new way to write them into their great Story; their plan for all life in the universe.”

Sudden comprehension blew out the fog in May’s mind; something Em had said on the bus came back to her.

‘We were a bit more common thousands of years ago…’

“The Stars parented children so they could have a part in the new life.” May hadn’t grown up with this part of the legends; she was dazzled by how much she still had to learn. “Those children were the first of the Starborn.”

Rue smiled. “And they were supposed to be the only ones, but…” she motioned to Em, who shrugged.

“Wow,” was all May could manage in response.

“As you can imagine, most of that Starborn blood has been significantly diluted over the many millennia between then and now,” Rue continued. “My people are the only group who have managed to keep the lineage strong.”

“Does that mean you have abilities like mine?” Em asked, playing up her supposed ignorance.

Rue’s smile hinted at something she wasn’t sharing. “The only thing my people can do is commune with the Stars.”

“Seriously?” May was awe-struck. “How?”

Rather than answer, Rue stood and stretched. “That is a long story better saved for another night. I don’t know about the rest of you but I’m exhausted.”

“Not to mention we’ve got another long day ahead of us.” Priva rose, dusting off her pants. She looked down at Jeremy and held out her hand. “Bed?”

“Yeah, I’ll come,” he answered, accepting her help and getting to his feet.

“You guys go ahead,” Em said. “May and I will clean up here.”

“There’s a river to the north,” Priva instructed, pointing in the right direction. “It’s not far. You can use it to douse the fire.”

As the others disappeared into their tents, May and Em collected the discarded bowls and cleared up the site in silence. When she was satisfied with their work, Em grabbed a waterproof sack and beckoned for May to follow.

The woods were cold and cloaked in a haunting darkness that kept May huddled close as they walked.

“Can Rue really talk to the Stars?” she asked as the sound of the river swept through the trees to greet them.

“She can’t talk to them the way we’re talking now,” Em replied, her voice betraying something like exhaustion. “But she’s able to create a connection with them. Her people are the only humans who can communicate directly with the Stars, so they act kind of like the liaisons between us mere mortals and the powers that be.”

May laughed. “‘Mere mortals’; that’s funny coming from you.”

The sound of rushing water grew louder. May swept her flashlight along the ground until the trees gave way and the riverbank came into view through the gloom.

“I feel like every time I learn something new about your world – Audrey’s life – I end up with more questions than I started with,” she admitted, stepping lightly through the tall lush grass at the water’s edge. “It’s a little overwhelming. But at the same time, it’s kind of exciting. I guess, in a way, it’s kind of part of my history too, you know?”

Carefully she tip-toed across smoothed river stones until she was as far as she could get and waited for Em. It took a moment, watching the dark water rush past her feet in the white glow of her flashlight, before May realized Em wasn’t coming. She turned.

“Em?”

Back on dry land, Em stood transfixed, gazing up at the glittering dome of stars above. Her skin glimmered, emitting a gentle, dreamlike light. But the expression on her face was one of sorrow and remorse; her eyes shimmered with tears.

Slowly, Em’s feet rose from the earth and she hovered, suspended in her trance.

“I’m sorry,” she wept through a cracking voice. “I’m sorry for everything.”

Frozen in place, May watched in a mix of fearful curiosity. She wasn’t sure what was happening, but it didn’t seem as though Em was talking to her.

“I know you were trying to do what you thought was best for me.” Em’s arms were outstretched in an welcoming, hopeful gesture. “You were always doing the best you could. I didn’t mean to be so hard on you all the time.”

May looked up – up at the millions of winking stars – and blinked away new tears of her own.

She knew who Em was talking to now.

This was the first time she had witnessed Em’s attempts to reach Welkin first-hand. Until now, Em had waited until May was asleep or sought privacy; the ritual was all at once mesmerizing and heartbreaking.

Em let out a tragic wail.

“Please,” she cried. “Please talk to me. Where are you? Why won’t you answer me?”

Her light faded. The great, swirling magic that kept Em aloft dissipated into the night. She landed heavily on her feet before collapsing onto her knees.

May rushed forward and wrapped her arms around Em as tightly as she could.

“Why won’t they answer me?” Em asked, her tears soaking through the shoulder of May’s shirt. Her sadness gripped May’s heart and twisted mercilessly.

“I don’t know, love,” May whispered, stroking Em’s back with a tender hand. “But we’re going to find them, I promise.”

She didn’t know how she was going to keep that promise. All May knew was she’d do whatever she could to bring Em peace.

For now, she hoped being there for Em would be enough.


[ Next Chapter ]

Ko-Fi May

The Wind and the Horizon: Chapter Twenty One

[ Start from the Beginning | Previous Chapter ]


By the time May, Em, and Priva returned to the campsite, Connor already had the fire blazing with a satisfying crackle. Rue busied herself with food prep while Jeremy had been tasked with creating small tin foil bowls for everyone. They took turns layering their bowls with meat, potatoes, and eggs, positioning them delicately on a camp grill once the coals were hot enough.

The snapping fire was the only sound as the group sat wordlessly, waiting for their meals to cook. May watched spits of ash pop from the flames and drift skyward into the darkening sky. The sherbet colours of twilight gave way to night by the time Connor inspected his bowl and deemed dinner to be ready.

May wondered if the tension around the fire had been in some part the result of empty stomachs. As she collected her meal, she felt the mood lighten as everyone tucked into their food, and decided now might be a good time for casual conversation.

“Back to camping,” she said with a sigh, dropping back down beside Em, the edges of her foil plate pinched between her fingers.

“Hey,” Em remarked, looking mildly scandalized. “I thought you liked camping.”

“I like some parts of camping more than others,” May replied with a wink.

Em rolled her eyes dramatically.

“Kids these days,” she grumbled, earning her playful kick in the ankle from May.

The comment raised curiosity in Rue.

“How old are you two, anyway?” she asked.

“Twenty-five,” May answered, distracted. She leaned over to survey what was in Em’s plate. “Yours is cooked better than mine.”

“That’s because I’m a pro,” Em teased. Then, turning her attention back to Rue, “I’m, uh, a bit older.”

At this, Priva laughed loudly.

“You saying you’re a cradle robber?” She grinned at Em who mirrored her expression.

“Ha! Not quite that bad.” Em scooped a hearty forkful from May’s plate and shoved it in her mouth. After swallowing, she continued, “Still, I almost passed out when I realized my girlfriend was just a wee babe.” She turned to look at May. “Yours is fine, by the way.”

“You’re not that much older than me,” May defended, digging her own fork into Em’s plate. The utensil pierced the foil bottom, catching in a way that May hadn’t expected. Her hand slipped, sending the plastic handle snapping backwards and striking Em’s breast with a sharp thwap.

“My boob!” Em cried, choking on laughter and clutching at her chest. “You got me right in the tit!”

May doubled over, breathless in a fit of gasping laughter and tears, unable to reply.

Everyone but Jeremy succumbed to the first true bout of laughter since the two groups met, a moment of pure weightlessness that made the night feel a little less dark and the stakes a little less dire.

“So, how’d you two meet, anyway?” Jeremy asked, his question stopping the laughter dead.

May’s heartbeat stumbled. When she and Em decided to lie, they hadn’t taken the time to fill in the blanks of their cover story. Hoping her own panic wasn’t showing, May glanced at Em and found her to be a picture of calm.

“Maybe’s a dancer,” Em said, a goofy lovesick smile on her face that left May flushing. “I was in the audience one night when she was performing and I was instantly smitten.” She gave May a wink. “I’ve been her biggest fan ever since.”

That night in Omea’s community theatre – the night everything changed between them – flashed through May’s mind. She could still see Em standing in the wings, wide-eyed and marveling, watching her take the stage for her final performance of the night. Was this what Em was thinking of as she spun her tale? May had never asked Em what it was that pushed her over the delicate line between friends and lovers; that there might have been some truth to Em’s story made May giddy.

“Of course!” Rue’s face lit up. “We saw you dance at the circus. How long have you been performing?”

“Since I was in school,” May replied, delighted by Rue’s interest. “I’m self-taught though, so sometimes it feels like I’m making it up as I go.”

“She’s selling herself short,” Em insisted.

“Self-taught?” Connor look gob-smacked. “I’m impressed.”

“Me too,” Rue agreed brightly.

“Thank you,” May gushed. But elated as she was to have a chance to talk about one of her truest passions, she wanted to steer the conversation away from her and Em. “What about all of you? I’ve been so curious to know more about Wishes. I mean, I know what Wishes are but…” she shrugged, struggling to find the right words. “What does that mean for you? Is it different than being human?”

Sure, she was playing dumb to a certain extent. But this was the first time she had ever met other Wishes; she was curious about what she might have been missing. Em’s attempts at distancing herself from her past had often made her answers to May’s questions vague or indifferent. May figured this was a chance to learn more about herself as much as the others.

Connor rubbed his chin, mulling over her question. He looked to his friends. Priva shrugged.

“I guess for the most part it’s not that different,” he admitted. “We’re born to our mothers and, if we’re lucky, we live our lives and die when we’re old. The only difference we’ve noticed – aside from how we come to be, of course – is that every Wish has their own unique ability.”

May blinked in a way she hoped conveyed naive confusion. “What kind of abilities?”

“Something we’re naturally very good at,” Connor replied. “Think of it like a talent on steroids. Everyone’s is different. Mine is my strength.” He gestured back to the massive dead tree they were using as firewood and May picked up on the implication that he had felled it singlehandedly. “Nothing too fancy here.”

“Mine, on the other hand, is very fancy,” Priva said, sounding rather proud of herself. She leaned forward and grinned. “I don’t have to sleep.”

“That’s only partially true,” Rue quipped, giving Priva a cutting look. “She can live on very little sleep. One night’s worth for every three or four days awake.”

“Killjoy,” Priva pouted.

If this was a reason to be any less impressed, May didn’t see why.

She looked to Jeremy expectantly. “What’s your ability?”

Arms crossed, Jeremy studied her for a moment before answering.

“Perfect memory.” He tapped his temple, his expression impossible to read. “I don’t forget anything.”

“Oh.” May smiled. “I’ll bet that comes in handy.”

Jeremy didn’t reply.

“What about you, Rue?” Em cut in on the awkward silence filling the space between May and Jeremy.

Rue laughed. “Oh, I’m not a Wish.”

May looked at her in surprise. “Really?”

“Yep.” Rue set her bowl down and settled back beside Connor, leaning gently into his side. “My place in this little family is kind of different than the others. I come from an ancient line of astromantic druids.”

Now genuinely confused, May frowned. “What does that mean? Are you human?”

“For the most part. But way back, in the beginning of human history, my people came to be specifically because of the Stars.”

The firelight danced, reflected in Rue’s magnificent golden eyes. May’s breath caught as she remembered why they had seemed so familiar.

“Were they Wishes?” May asked.

“No.” Rue’s eyes – the same otherworldly gold as the Star called Welkin – creased in the corners as she smiled. “They were Starborn.”


[ Read Next Chapter ]

Ko-Fi May

My NaNoWriMo 2017 Projects

You don’t need me to tell you that NaNoWriMo is almost here. I’ve been seeing people posting about their 2017 NanoPrep since September! Still, November 1st is just a couple days away so I’d be remiss if I didn’t say anything about my plans for this year.

Last year was my first successful NaNoWriMo; I managed to write 50k words in the first draft of my book, The Witch’s Patron! Even though the challenge was hard and stressful, it was also incredibly fun and motivating. I’m in love with the community and the rush that comes with knowing thousands of other writers are right there with you as you push to hit those 50k words.

Despite not having a fresh novel to work on this year, I didn’t want to miss out. I have so many projects on the go right now that I decided to do what I’ve seen Twitter referring to as NaNoRebel: a version of the challenge where you work on something other than a novel.

My goal is still to write 50k words by the end of November, only this time I’ll be spreading those words out across three different projects:

By the time the month is over I should have so much work off my plate, but more than that I’m excited to have a good excuse to write every day!

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo next month? Let’s be buddies!

Also, tell me all about your project in the comments! Are you going the classic route or will you be joining the Nano Rebellion?


Ko-Fi May

The Wind and the Horizon: Chapter Twenty

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Content warning: Strong language


It was morning by the time the bus rolled into the dusty little town of Willingdon. From what May could see, the place itself wasn’t especially remarkable, but from here the bus route veered off in the opposite direction of where they needed to go. She and Em gathered their packs and hobbled down to the street, stiff and groggy from their cramped night on the seats.

On the sidewalk Em nodded toward a large map of the town and surrounding area that was posted outside the station; it was where they had been told to wait for further instruction. They shuffled over to it, yawning and stretching as they went, and surveyed the lattice work of neat little roads to kill time.

“Look,” May pointed to one on the far side of town and grinned. “This one is called ‘Dingus Street’.”

Em snorted. “Who comes up with this shit?”

A pack dropped to the ground a couple  feet to their left. May recognized it as Connor’s and intensified her focus on the streets, knowing neither she nor Em was supposed to acknowledge the others so long as they were out in public.

Priva stepped forward and wordlessly tapped her lips as her eyes scanned the map.

“Yikes,” Em muttered. “‘Loveless Lane’.”

May studied the street Em pointed at. “Bleak.”

“Here,” Priva announced, jabbing at a place on the outskirts of town somewhere well past Dingus Street. “This is the pull-off for the trailhead.”

Out of the corner of her eye, May made out a dotted path snaking out to the north from the pull-off. She sneaked surreptitious glances at it while pretending to look for more odd street names.

“From the looks of things it would take most of the day to get to the first lake.” Priva gestured to the tip of a body of water just visible along the edge of the map.

“That should still give us plenty of time to set up camp,” Jeremy noted with a false cheeriness that seemed eerie after his sneering, sullen attitude.

“Should we refresh our supplies?” Connor asked.

Em burst into laughter. “There’s seriously a place called ‘Lickkity Way’ here.” She waggled her eyebrows suggestively at May.

“Behave yourself for once in your life.” May gave her a playful shove.

“We’ll leave in twenty minutes,” Jeremy said, his remarkable cheerfulness disappearing completely.

***

The plan was fairly straightforward: the two groups would appear to go their separate ways from the station and find each other again later at a meeting point. In this case, the beginning of the West Green Crest Trail, which would lead them to the next town on their route.

While Jeremy, Priva, Connor, and Rue divvied up their shopping list and beelined for a grocery store, May and Em grabbed breakfast at a charming little family-run cafe. May took her time savouring her hot tea and fresh pastry knowing it would be days before she’d get to enjoy creature comforts again.

As they left, the pair spotted the others up ahead, making their way to a store specializing in camping and outdoor supplies. The girls strolled at a leisurely pace, mindful to keep their distance. Music wafted from a cobbled plaza that opened off the street; a busker played folksy renditions of popular songs to a small gathering of onlookers. Priva slowed, listening. Her features lit up as she recognized the melody.

“Ah, this is my song!” she cried, depositing her bags at Rue’s feet. She snatched the packages in Jeremy’s hands and placed them beside her own. “C’mon, boy. You’re dancing to this.”

May watched with surprise as Priva took him by the hand and dragged him into the center of the plaza. Jeremy didn’t seem put off by her touch, nor by the closeness of her body as they danced; they were clearly used to being in each other’s arms.

“Now that’s an interesting development,” Em muttered, watching the pair with a bemused expression. She gave May a knowing glance before pushing onward.

Curious, May glanced back one last time. If dance was a conversation without words, this one said a lot. That Jeremy and Priva were an item was clear, but May wasn’t fooled. This relationship was one sided; Jeremy’s heart wasn’t in it at all.

***

The rest of the plan went off without a hitch. May and Em beat WIND to the trailhead and, once the group reunited, they began a long day of hiking. The further they walked the more rugged the trail became, twisting into darker and denser woods. Occasionally the trees would break and open up into lush, sunny meadows, or the trail would meet a babbling creek, which they would cross in single file along aging wooden footbridges. For the most part no one spoke.

May and Em brought up the rear of the pack, letting the others lead the way. They dawdled like children, keeping one another amused and their spirits up. When they passed a grove of fruit trees at the end of their blooming season, May collected handfuls of fallen blossoms and followed behind Em, sticking them here and there throughout her black wig. When May’s feet ached, Em playfully swept her up in her arms and marched until the combined weight of another person and an overstuffed pack became too much.

It took the better part of the day, but by the time they reached what Priva decided was an ideal place to set up camp, the girls’ had managed to lighten the moods of nearly everyone in the group; Jeremy kept gruffly to himself. The rest of the party joked about the sweet relief of abandoning their packs and called dibs on spots to pitch their tents. There were three in total: May and Em, Connor and Rue, and – confirming the girls’ suspicion – Priva and Jeremy.

As May hammered in their final tent peg, Em stood and stretched.

“Who’s in the mood for a camp fire?” She scanned the other two pitches. Everyone else was still a step or two behind in their tent set-up. “Maybe and I will go collect wood.”

“That would be awesome.” Connor smiled at her, appreciative.

Em offered her hand and pulled May to her feet. She didn’t let go as they wandered into the woods.

May waited until she was sure they were out of earshot before she spoke.

“Do you think the whole trip is going to be this awkward?” she asked. “They hardly said anything all day.”

Em shrugged, her attention elsewhere. “It’s a weird situation and it’s not like we got off on the best foot. Can’t blame them for being cautious.”

“And what about you?” May ventured. “How are you-”

She didn’t have a chance to finish her sentence. The trees in this part of the forest were ancient; towering and broad. In one swift motion, Em pulled May behind one and backed her up against its weather worn bark. May didn’t have time to react as Em pressed up against her, kissing her so intensely May forgot what she had been saying.

With a passionate force they usually reserved for the bedroom, Em wedged her thigh between May’s legs and gripped her hips. She pulled her closer, creating a friction so delicious May couldn’t help but moan.

“I didn’t realize how badly I needed a kiss like that until you did it,” May whispered in Em’s ear.

“Whatever happens, I don’t want you to forget what you mean to me,” Em’s voice was low and gruff against May’s cheek. She kissed her again until May was dizzy. “I don’t want us to lose sight of what makes us who we are together.”

“Never,” May breathed, overwhelmed with the heat exploding between them.

Em pawed at May’s body, unzipping her hoodie as she kissed her way roughly down May’s neck. Weak with lust, May gasped and cooed shamelessly, wrapping her legs around Em’s waist as she hoisted her up higher. Em could have devoured her right there – kissing and biting at the soft exposed flesh above the deep neckline of May’s shirt – and May wouldn’t have cared. She wanted it.

“Guys?”

A voice rang out. May and Em froze.

“Are you out here?”

It was Priva. Her footsteps were getting closer.

The girls leapt apart. May fussed over fixing herself up while Em snatched a few branches that laid close by

“We’re over here,” Em called back, fighting to keep her tone casual.

May finished tucking her hair back under her hat just as Priva stepped around the tree.

“There you are!” Priva smiled brightly. “I was starting to think you’d gotten lost. Connor found a fallen tree on the other side of the site, so I think we’re good for firewood for tonight.”

“Oh,” Em glanced down at her piddly collection of sticks and laughed. “That’s probably for the best.”

“C’mon.” Priva waved them to follow. “Let’s eat. We’re dying to get to know you both better.”

May shot Em a tense look. Em reached out and gave her hand a reassuring squeeze.

We’ll get through this together, the gesture seemed to say.

They had no other choice.


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Ko-Fi May

I Went to the Surrey International Writers’ Conference and all I got was Everything

Over the past weekend I was extremely fortunate to attend the 25th Surrey International Writers’ Conference with two of my favourite people. Athena Wright, Brianna Kienitz, and my bad self all attended the two and a half day event and had the most inspiring and informative experience. I learned so much and met so many wonderful people!

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Yours truly along with Brianna (IN A MAY HOODIE!!!) and Athena!

SiWC brings together writers of every level and all ages, as well as agents, editors, and other industry professionals for a series of presentations, panels, and networking (not to mention the fun shopping to be had at the trade tables. I spent a LOT of money!)

I’ve been to a number of conferences in my life, but this was the only one I’ve ever been to that wasn’t tied to my day job. I went because writing is something I’m so incredibly passionate about, which made every opportunity that much more exciting.

Attending SiWC is an investment. There are different levels of passes ranging from daily to full conference experiences. Even though we were able to save some money by staying at my place (Surrey is roughly 40 minutes east of Vancouver) we were still only able to spring for the basic conference pass, which got us into the morning keynotes and daily sessions but excluded us from the group meals and evening networking events and parties. While it definitely would have been nice to go to the extra events, the basic pass gave us plenty of opportunities and was worth every dollar.

Writers are such warm and welcoming people. It was clear right away that many of the attendees had been coming for years, which is a pretty good sign of the overall quality you can expect. Even without going to the meals and events there are still lots of opportunities to network and connect with others – whether it was by simply starting a conversation with the person next to you, exchanging a business card at the free-form “unconference” sessions, or tweeting with fellow attendees using either #SiWC17 , #SiWC2017, or #ThisDayWeWrite. It also doesn’t hurt that you will have at least one important thing in common with every single person there!

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My current business cards, which also double as a limited-run mini-print! Once I’m out of this design it’ll be retired and I’ll move onto something else.

I’m planning on doing a short series of posts about my key learnings from the sessions I attended and re-capping my experience of pitching The Witch’s Patron to an agent, but ultimately I wanted to capture the lingering excitement first. If you’ve been looking for a professional and informative writing event to attend, I highly recommend the Surrey International Writers’ Conference. Tickets will go on sale late spring/early summer 2018, with the conference obviously happening some time in the fall, so mark your calendars now!