wyrdverse

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Free short fiction.

Well, there’s something to tick off that I’ve had sitting on the todo list for, er, ahem. Years. I have finally compiled a page of my random short fiction. It’s taken me so long to get around to this, mostly because I kept telling myself I was going to To Something with these stories and then… never did. So, failing that, here they are.

Almost everything here counts as backstory to Liesmith, and scratches my Sigyn/Loki OTP itch. In rough chronological order, the stories are:

  • “Fairytale”, Sigyn’s meet cute. Sort of. Also a rewrite of the original introduction to what would eventually become Liesmith (and at the time was called CORNER, because titles, what even are they?), and thus technically the Very First Piece of the Wyrd.
  • “Vartari”, a.k.a. the aftermath of Loki’s lip-stitching incident.
  • “Vow”, in which Sigyn and Loki are obnoxious tourists in the Abbasid Caliphate.
  • “Mothers”, because I can’t get enough of Sigyn and Angrboða (and their kids) conspiring against Ásgarðr.

There are also two contemporary stories:

  • “Blue Sky Mine”, set before Liesmith, and in which Travis is trying to launch a tablet, has an unplanned visit to the Pilbara, and Lain gets named.
  • “Focus Group”, set a little bit after Liesmith, and in which Sigmund learns the secret of LB’s success (and I show I can predict the tech industry).

Of these, “Mothers” and “Blue Sky Mine” are probably my favorites.

Finally, “My friend Vic was a weird kid.” is the non-Wyrdverse story. I went through a phase about a year ago of obsessively reading r/nosleep, and this story was the result. It was originally posted anonymously to that community, but the copy archived here is the slightly edited and cleaned version as opposed to the “I wrote this on my phone in one sitting then posted it straight away” version.

All-in-all, I think that’s something like 20k+ of free words to keep you amused so… enjoy!

2018-11-26T08:17:58+11:0020th July, 2017|Tags: free fiction, liesmith, stormbringer, wyrdverse, xp|

Go ask Alis.

bearkind asked:

Hey Alis! I just found your book Liesmith the other day and as of about an hour ago I have devoured both of your books. I absolutely loved the hel out of them and wanted to let you know you’ve inspired me to start writing. THANK YOU

Aw, thank you so much! I’m glad you enjoyed it!

And even better, it’s an amazing and humbling thing to be able to inspire art in other people. I wish you all the blessings from the creativity muses going forward! ❤

2019-04-29T11:56:29+10:0028th January, 2017|Tags: go ask alis, liesmith, wyrdverse|

The Wyrdverse glossary.

Confused about the Naglfar? Never quite sure what a goði was?

Then never fear, dear reader! The Wyrdverse Glossary is (finally) here!

The glossary is a list of terms used in the Books of the Wyrd, Liesmith and Stormbringer. It previously appeared at the end of Stormbringer, but now it’s here, for all your delicious internet goodness!

For bonus points, it also features some super-badass illustrations from the mega-talented Neogeen. I will not lie: Neogeen was my number one monster design influence when writing the Books, so it was an amazing experience to work with her to bring characters like Lain and Hrímgrímnir (pictured above, and as seen in Stormbringer) to life.

What are the Books of the Wyrd, you ask? Why, they’re a post-Ragnarøkkr, Norse Mythology-inspired, queer urban fantasy, set in modern-day Australia and featuring more geeky pop-culture references than you can poke a stick at.

Queer? Geeky? Sound like your cup-of-tea-with-Tim-Tam-slams? Then you are in luck, my friend, because the first Book of the Wyrd, Liesmith, is on sale for 99c for a limited time only.

Not sure? Then no worries! Because an opening excerpt is available, as well as an extended outtake of one of the book’s chapters. Still not convinced? Well, here’s the beginning of the second bookStormbringer, while you’re at it.

Seriously, though: Queer. Geeky. Australian. Urban fantasy. Oh, and there are anthropomorphic feathered dinosaurs. I mean, really. What more could you ask for?

So. Liesmith. 99c. Get it. Boom!

Anime ending Lain by Neogeen.

2019-07-31T08:28:41+10:008th December, 2016|Tags: liesmith, neogeen, stormbringer, wyrdverse|

Publishing “diversity” (with an aside on The Wyrd #3).

Crane Hana on the state of diversity in publishing.

I haven’t really spoken about it much, because I’ve essentially been putting off making an “official announcement” for the last six months, but this is effectively what happened to BAD MEME, the third Wyrdverse book. It exists and is written, but didn’t push the Lain/Sigmund m/m hard enough for the publisher. BAD MEME is more of a supernatural thriller (I guess?) set in Melbourne, and while Lain is the lens through which the story is told, it’s mostly about a group of three friends–Roxx, Bich (a.k.a. Brianna), and Taylor–who make a creeypasta YouTube series called vicwalks. The antagonist of vicwalks is a monster called the Tooth Girl who, because this is the Wyrdverse, is summoned into reality by the show (hence Lain’s involvement).

Sketch of Bich from BAD MEME.

The problem with the BAD MEME is that the entire conflict revolves around the different things Roxx, Bich, and Taylor want to get out of vicwalks. Roxx, an abuse survivor, uses the story as a way to deal with her past pain. Bich wants to be “internet famous” and get movie deals in Hollywood. Taylor is a young tans boy at an all-girls school, who’s looking for a hobby away from the suffocating femininity of his home life. Meanwhile, Lain spends most of the book as “Elle” after Bich reads his gender as female when they first meet.

So on the scale of “queer urban fantasy”, BAD MEME still fits into that box. The box it doesn’t fit into is “m/m romance”: Sigmund only appears as a cameo character in a few scenes, and the few hints of romance that do exist mostly come from Bich crushing on “Elle”.

Unfortunately for yours truly, the publishing contract for the Wyrd series was more on the “m/m paranormal” side of the scale than the “urban fantasy with queer protagonists” side. The publisher didn’t want BAD MEME as-is, and requested I rewrite large sections of the book to include Lain/Sig. I ultimately decided I didn’t want to do this; BAD MEME deals with some heavy themes (i.e. abuse survival, gender dysphoria) that I felt it would be inappropriate to sideline in favour of writing relationship melodrama between two dudes. My other option was to write another book entirely; essentially selling the fourth Wyrd book in place of the third. I outlined something (codename: TRUTHTELLER) that ended up being like 95% love triangle. The problem was it didn’t really have a villain. Because, yeah. The other thing BAD MEME did was establish the long-term antagonist for the Wyrd series.

So TRUTHTELLER got trunked alongside BAD MEME, and that was the end of that: for the foreseeable future, the Books of the Wyrd will number two.

… That turned out into much more of an update than I intended. Oh well.

Finally, for anyone who’s interested: have an excerpt from BAD MEME, in which Bich and Elle encounter the Tooth Girl. Enjoy!

2018-11-26T08:16:53+11:0012th September, 2016|Tags: my art, publishing, wyrdverse|

Quick head’s up: Liesmith is currently on sale for the low-low price of 99c!

Do you like feathered dinosaurs? Queer urban fantasy? Geeky pop culture? Incomprehensible Australian in-jokes? Then this is the book for you, my friends! 99c. Dooooo eeeeeeet!

2016-11-17T21:06:52+11:0026th July, 2016|Tags: liesmith, wyrdverse|

Quoting lyrics.

This is why there are no lyrics in Stormbringer, despite the number of songs that appear in the narrative. (Apparently parody lyrics are okay, however, which is why I re-wrote the ending.)

2017-09-05T13:33:40+10:0010th March, 2016|Tags: copyright, gonzo author stories, stormbringer, wyrdverse|

Namewashing.

When we first start acting, brown actors tend to play “brown characters.” As casting directors and producers get to know us and trust our range, the roles we play tend to vary. And getting to play roles with white names feels like a victory. I know I felt that way when I first “graduated” from playing Khalids and Babirs to Patricks and Freds. […]

But to me, after over 13 years in the industry, these do not seem like victories anymore. Playing more interesting and larger roles is, but squeezing us unrealistically into a white box is a subtle form of ethnic erasure, and it is not a win. It is saying to the audience and to brown actors that people with white names are more interesting and relatable, and people with brown names are one-dimensional and obsessed with and/or defined by our brownness. Not only does this contribute to the continued stereotyping of brown people, it is false.

Amir Talai on brown actors playing white characters.

This reminds me that I first encountered Malek playing Brodude McBlandname #5, a.k.a. Josh Washington, in Until Dawn.1 So… yeah. About that “white names” thing.

Related: Steve Jobs has been portrayed at least four times in film and once on stage, and always by a white guy.2

For the record, in Liesmith, Sigmund was named Sigmund before this issue was something I’d really thought about. Ditto with Wayne, who’s Indigenous Australian, and Travis, who has his own set of issues.3 I’m not sure if I’d rename any of the characters now, except maybe for Travis, but I’ve certainly tried to give all new characters ethnically-appropriate names. (Which is why the protagonist in BAD MEME is Ngoc Bich Tran. Try casting Bich as a white girl. I double dare you.)

In other news: I need to watch Mr. Robot

  1. To be fair to Until Dawn; the game has a more multi-ethnic cast than, like, 99.9% of all other games out there, which is particularly notable given its characters are modelled directly off their actors. Plus, it doesn’t do that thing of having whiter-than-white characters as Josh’s family members and just hoping no-one notices. Even still, the cast have the most laughably generic names, particularly for the guys; Josh is accompanied by Chris, Matt, Mike, and Jack, for example. But tl;dr, go play Until Dawn, ’cause it’s pretty great. []
  2. For those of you who missed this memo: Jobs’ biological father is Syrian. Jobs’ relationship to both his biological parents and his ethnicity was, to put it mildly, complex, but even still. Dude’s the most famous Arab-American you never knew about. []
  3. Though, on Travis, it always kind of makes me smirk ruefully when people tell me they imagine him looking like Tom Hiddleston. And it’s like, look. I get why. But the fact Travis doesn’t look white is an explicit plot point when Sigmund is trying to decide whether or not he’s the same person as the red-haired-pale-skinned Lain. FWIW, in the future reality where Liesmith is a massively popular TV series and/or film, I have physically left casting directors in a bloody pulp for trying to cast a white guy to play Lain/Loki/Travis. The whole point of the character is that he’s not Northern or Western European so… yeah. About that. And, yes, Travis’ ethnicity is both a Jobs reference and a reference to the 13th century headcanon that the world “aesir” comes from “Asia”–it doesn’t, but whatever–and that the Norse gods were the living descendants of the king of Troy, who migrated into Europe after the city fell. []
2018-07-27T14:22:10+10:005th December, 2015|Tags: culture, gonzo author stories, liesmith, writing, wyrdverse|

NaNoWriMo 2015.

Happy start-of-NaNoWriMo, to anyone who’s doing such a thing!

True story: I’ve never actually completed a NaNo, but the month still has a special place in my black little heart, given that Liesmith was a “failed” NaNo project from 2009. Why “failed” you ask? Well, because I did manage to write 50,000 words of it… in October ’09.

My wordcount for November ’09? Zero.

Whatever works, I guess.

2017-09-05T12:53:44+10:001st November, 2015|Tags: gonzo author stories, liesmith, nanowrimo, writing, wyrdverse|

Realtalk about the ebook-to-print jump.

yellingintothevoid replied to your post “I’m back! (Belated post-NYCC ramblings.)”

To be honest, I kinda want to never become a Real Published Author ™ if I’m expected to do the whole con thing. Terrifying. Also, are there plans for actual physical purchasable editions of your books? ‘Cause I much prefer books over e-books.

“Expected” is a strong word, given that I volunteered to do it! And everyone was really lovely about everything: the people from PRH who made it all happen and held my noob hand through the process; the wonderful people who came to the signing; and the more experienced authors who offered advice and talked to me when I was the stranger in the room. It’s much easier than going to a con as a “non-professional” attendee in that regard, IMO, since there’s a bigger support network of people who really want to make everything run smoothly for you.

So it’s not that bad. Really, all I had to do was show up on time and smile and be polite. I think I mostly managed, heh.

Re. physical copies of the Wyrd books (Liesmith and Stormbringer); I get asked this a bit so, for reference, this is the Publishing Real Talk 101 time.

Basically, being able to get physical copies of the series printed hinges on exactly one thing, and that one thing is whether or not physical bookstores in the US will agree to stock the books on their shelves. (Note that, for the rest of this post, I’m talking about the US industry. Things work a little differently elsewhere, with the emphasis on “a little”. Most of this still applies in broad strokes, no matter where you are.)

That’s it. That’s the trick. Not just for me, but for every other traditionally published author out there. There’s a whole lot of history and backstory behind why this is the case (it’s the returns system), but the tl;dr is that the market for physical books–specifically, what kinds of physical books you can buy in a physical bookstore–is dictated not by what books publishers print, but what books the buyers for the big retailers will buy.

Here’s where we get to the ugly reality, because the ugly reality is that buyers for physical bookstores aren’t really interested in adult urban fantasy with queer PoC male leads. It sucks, but it’s true. Bookstores have finite shelf space, and they’re commercial entities who need to make money to survive. Making money means selling books, which means stocking books they know will sell. What books do retailers know will sell? Well, go to a bookstore and count what’s there: grimdark pseudo-medieval European epic fantasies; conservative military sci-fi; near-future sci-fi with plucky geekbro male leads; heterosexual female-lead paranormal romance. You get the idea. Write inside those constraints, and yeah, it’s very likely you’ll get a print run from your publisher, because it’s likely you’ll be picked up by a store buyer as something “new” in a niche they know sells. Write outside one of those, and, well. Things get harder, unless you have some kind of other hook in (e.g. you’re already famous from some other platform and thus come with a built-in audience).

Under those circumstances, the chances of Liesmith ever seeing a print release is pretty much nil.

So this answer isn’t entirely depressing, the next obvious question is so what’s to be done about it?

Well, easy: if you want more diverse titles to start getting print runs in physical stores, you have to start buying those titles from physical stores. And yes, I mean the ebooks. Which yes, you can do: here’s Liesmith at Barnes & Noble, for example. (No, Amazon doesn’t count for this, because, a) Amazon’s relationship to publishers is different to the traditional physical stores, and b) Amazon doesn’t share its sales data. So Amazon might know a niche is booming, but that doesn’t mean anyone else does… including the publishers. Amazon is the room’s elephant in the ebook space, but if you want to see things in print, you have to play the brick-and-mortar game.)

That’s really the only secret. If and when physical stores see a jump in demand for a particular book or a particular subgenre (i.e. diverse spec fic), then their buyers go to the publisher sales reps and ask the “what else do you have like this?” question. That’s when the sales reps bring out their back catalogue. And if the buyers see a title that’s ebook only, and want it for their physical stores, they’ll say so to the publisher, and that, dear readers, is how one breaks into the print market. I think a lot of people outside the industry think the ebook-to-print boundary is done on total sales volume (i.e. sell 100,000 ebooks, get a free print deal!), but it’s not. Total ebook sales can influence the end result, but the reality is it’s all on the buyers and what they think they can move from their shelves. Which is why both, a) you don’t see even some very popular subgenres in physical stores, and b) some ebook-only deals get expanded to print even without a sales history if a store rep shows interest.

Incidentally, none of this is a secret within the industry. We just tend, for whatever reason, not to talk about it too much to actual readers. Well, now I am. And now you know.

Tl;dr, if you want to see books with diverse leads stocked in physical bookstores (including mine!), you need to buy those books (and ebooks) from physical bookstores.

2019-04-29T11:56:41+10:0030th October, 2015|Tags: liesmith, publishing, replies, stormbringer, we need diverse books, wyrdverse|