I’m coming back

TW: mention of suicide and self harm

Ok, so I have been gone from blogging for a long time but I feel like I’m finally ready to return.

I dropped out for a while because I got overwhelmed. I took on too much at once like I do so often and my depression and anxiety were getting worse. It got to the point where I started having suicidal thoughts again and was practicing self harm through scratching and biting. All this was brought about due to a serious case of self-loathing and a guilt complex that left me feeling like a burden to everyone around me.

Luckily I have a very supportive partner who has been helping me through this. Things are more stable for me now and while I still have bad days and rough moments, I know I’m improving. I am back working with children again and it has been a major boost to my happiness and moral because of how much I love the work. Now it’s time for me to boost that further by coming back to blogging and writing.

I started getting back into writing through participating in NaNoWriMo for the first time and while I didn’t hit the 50,000 word goal I did still write upwards of 30 pages worth in about 2 1/2 weeks. Something still worth celebrating, especially considering how little I usually do.

Now that I’m coming back I’m going to be taking it slow so hopefully I don’t overwhelm myself like I did last time (not all of it was from everything I was doing with the blog, I was having a rough time in general with finances, mental illness and a whole bunch of other stuff). I will start by bringing back the Diverse Fantasy Reviews. Those will be going up weekly starting either next Monday on the 14th or the following Monday on the 21st. I haven’t picked a book out yet but I’ll let you know when I do.

As for the Infuriating Fantasy articles I am going to move those to a vlog format that will be part of a weekly video series of let’s plays, opinion pieces, advice, discussion, and anything else I want. Basically it’ll be freeform and different every week. It’ll be a while before I start that up but I’ll keep you guys posted as things develop.

Some of you may remember my mentions of starting a diverse superhero series called Coalition For Terran Defense. I do still plan to do that, though I’m still trying to figure out what format I want (web comic, prose, or both) it in and whether I want to post it to my blog or publish them as ebooks or some combination of that. Again I will keep you all posted as things develop on that front.

My goal for 2016 is to start publishing short ebooks and novellas as well as start submitting stuff to magazines, anthologies, and small presses to get my writing out into the world. I also plan on opening up a Patreon account for those who want to help support me.

Well I believe that’s everything at the moment. feel free to hit me up if you have any questions, comments, suggestions or feedback.

Catch you all later


Update 9/14/2015: Schedule update

Ok. so a lot of things have come up this past week. Due to financial difficulties I’m picking up work as a babysitter and petsitter. I’ve got a lot of potential jobs and interviews coming up for that and need some time to get everything sorted in my schedule so I don’t overwhelm myself again. As such I won’t be able to get any articles up this week either. That being said I will be back next week with my new schedule, the blog site will be updated, and hopefully things will go more smoothly from there on. DiFR will now be Monday’s at 8PM PST and Infuriating Fantasy will be Friday’s at 8PM PST. My super hero series Coalition for Terran Defense will have a new short story, at first, as often as I can get them done, but I hope to move to a monthly release schedule for that once things become more concrete.

If you have any questions for me, let me know. Thank you everyone for your support and patience

Update 9/4/2015: Depression, Anxiety, Time off, and Schedule Changes

Ok, for those who don’t know I have severe depression and anxiety. It’s the primary reason why I currently have no day job and no source of income. I recently had to stop seeing my therapist because I’ve run out of savings. I get sick a lot because, on top of having my immune system weakened by depression and anxiety, I also have anemia and a poor diet. I have a poor diet because I’m highly lactose intolerant and dairy free diets are expensive. On top of all this, my ADHD amplifies my symptoms of depression and anxiety because it makes it so hard to focus on what I need to do and makes my hyperfocus on poisonous thoughts and actions. All of this leaves me with low energy throughout the day and makes it difficult for me to do even simple things like get out of bed in the morning.

I started this blog because I love to write and I love to talk about writing. Don’t worry this isn’t some lead in to a goodbye or anything. It’s just I was so excited to start this and really focus in on writing and making my living as a writer. Cause there is nothing I want more than to do just that.

Unfortunately, in my excitement and rush to get this whole thing going and get content out as fast as possible… I wound up taking on too much too fast. I didn’t even have a proper backlog when I started. I forgot to take my own mental health into consideration. Something I do frequently. I’m very good at taking care of others. I’m terrible when it comes to taking care of myself. I need to change that or I’m never going to get better.

This past week I had a family emergency to deal with. While everything seems to have turned out fine I think it’s acted as an eye opener for me in regards to just how much I’m doing and how much it’s making me ignore all the other things that are just as, if not more, important. I won’t go into detail about what happened. I wouldn’t mind speaking about it but my family is very private so I know they would mind. I mean, my cousins got really nervous about including their children’s birthdates in a family tree project I was doing for school. so there you go.

Basically, I’ve become overwhelmed several times these past few months and it’s time I took a step back and change things so I can take better care of myself. As such I won’t be getting an Infuriating Fantasy article out tonight. I know it’s late notice and I apologize for that. But the longer I delay the easier it will be for me to come up with excuses and stop trying to take care of myself again.

I will also be taking the next week off so I can rest up and focus on some fiction writing. I don’t know if I will be needing more than that but I will let you guys know if I do. When I return it will be to a schedule change with the whole blog. Here’s the low down:

Coalition for Terran Defense: The super hero series I’ve been talking about will be a monthly thing instead of every two weeks and I won’t be able to get the first story up on Monday like I had hoped. I don’t have a due date yet but I’ll let you know when I do.

Infuriating Fantasy: this series will still be on Fridays but I’m gonna move it back a bit to give myself more time in the day to work on it. It will be to either 7PM or 8PM PST.

DiFR: This series will be moved to Mondays so that I’m not rushing to get it done before game night or my local Bisexual Women’s Group. They will also be later in the evening so expect to see them at either 7PM or 8PM PST

Diverse Fantasy Chat: This will remain on schedule but I will be dropping the highlights post. I will still be doing Storify’s of the chats though and I will post links to them here for people to read through. This will also allow those of you not on twitter to participate by posting comments on the blog where the storify link is.

That should cover everything. If any of you have any questions, comments, or feedback please leave a comment or you can contact me through one of the many methods on my contacts page. Thank you all for your understand and I hope to be back soon.

Take care of yourselves everyone.

DiFR #12: Ash by Malinda Lo

(Trying a new format. let me know what you guys think)

Book: Ash

Author: Malinda Lo

Trigger warnings: Emotional abuse|(if you spotted any I missed please let me know so I can add them, thanks)

Sub-genre: Fairy tale retelling

Page count: 264

Points of Diversity: bisexual main character, bisexual or lesbian love interest

Intersectional Diversity?: unclear

Would Recommend?: Yes

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Cinderella retold
In the wake of her father’s death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, rereading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted.

The day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King’s Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, Ash learns to hunt with Kaisa. Though their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, it reawakens Ash’s capacity for love-and her desire to live. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love.

Entrancing, empowering, and romantic, Ash is about the connection between life and love, and solitude and death, where transformation can come from even the deepest grief


Ash was the first book I read with a bisexual protagonist and it was such a marvel to finally see that aspect of myself not only portrayed in fiction, but within the pages of a book I loved. Lo’s retelling of Cinderella is one of my favorite books of all time and definitely worth a read. And I say this despite the presence of a love triangle being central to the plot.

The thing is, I’ve never liked love triangles. I have come to grow even more weary of them as of late since they are such a common trope in stories wear the protagonist is bisexual. The author often seems to feel the need to show the character’s attraction to multiple genders by showing them torn between loving two people of two different genders, usually man and woman. However, the way Ash handles it is one of the few instances in which I think it actually works.

The love triangle in Ash takes on a “Phantom of the Opera” style with the role of the Phantom played by the fairy Sidhean and the role of Raul played by the huntress Kaisa. This leaves Ash herself as Christine Daae. No I love “Phantom of the Opera” so seeing elements of it here really bumped the story up in my eyes. We know that Sidhean’s attraction reaches unhealthy levels. We know that the best choice for Ash is to be with Kaisha.

Further, Ash’s dual attraction is clearly played off as a result of her grief from the recent death of her father and a longing to escape the pain of this world. She’s in love with the world of fairies and Sidhean acts as her connection to that world. The tension doesn’t come from petty teenage drama over who she will choose but real turmoil over whether she can leave the past behind and move on with her life.

With her attachment to the fairy world as a framing device, Lo is able to avoid the horrible trope of Bisexual’s being indecisive simply because they love more than one gender. This is because for Ash, as with all bisexuals, it’s not a matter of “choosing a gender” or “picking a side”. For Ash it is a matter of choosing between her past and her future.

We also learn that Sidhean’s interest was forced on him because of a curse Ash’s mother placed on him. She did this to teach him a lesson, forcing him to fall in love with a human woman so that he would learn not to toy with them as he so often had. She laid this curse on him when he had attempted advances on her and just had no idea it would wind up impacting her daughter.

All that being said, I would encourage future writers who are creating bisexual characters: please try to avoid putting them in love triangles. Yes it worked here, but believe me we have enough. There are ways you can show a persons attraction to multiple genders besides angsty teenage drama of “who will they choose?”

Still, this was an enjoyable read and comes highly recommended from me. Love triangle and all.

Update 8/31/2015: schedule changes due to family emergency

Hey guys, there’s been a family emergency and I’ll have to make some changes to the schedule. Everything should be fine, it just means I have less time than I thought I would.

I should still be able to get the first superhero story up on Monday but I’ll have to change the book I’m reviewing for Wednesday. I’m not gonna have time to finish Throne of the Crescent Moon so instead I’ll be reviewing Ash by Malinda Lo, a book I have already read. Hopefully things will get back on track soon and I’ll get Throne of the Crescent Moon out next week.

The highlights post for the diverse fantasy chat I spoke of will be out as soon as I can get it, I’m sorry I can’t give an exact time right now but it should be no later than tomorrow.

Things should still be on schedule for Friday’s Infuriating Fantasy article too but I’ll let you know if that changes.

Catch you all later.

Infuriating Fantasy #12: Digimon Frontier is not Digimon: A Quickie

Due to my depression and anxiety acting up and making me sick for a bit I don’t have enough time time for a full article but still want to get something out.  So I thought I’d rant about something very near and dear to my heart, Digimon.

Growing up I was a Digimon kid.  For those unfamiliar Digimon was the rival of Pokemon back in the day and bares a lot of similarities.  In Digimon a group of kids are brought to the digital world and each kid has a digital monster or digimon as their partner.  These kids work with their digimon partners in order to save the digital world and later the real world from destruction.  The similarities between Digimon and Pokemon caused a lot of accusations of “rip-off” to get thrown around by each series respective fans since this was back before most people in the US knew that kids with monsters was a whole sub-genre of anime in Japan.

I grew up on the first three seasons with the third season, Digimon Tamers, being my absolute favorite.  I binge re-watched that season a couple weeks ago and when I was done I decided to take a look at where Digimon went after that.  This led me to watch the first two episodes of season 4 of Digimon, also known as Digimon Frontier.  My first thought when I started watching? man this dialogue is forced stilted and cheesy.  If I have to hear the word “destiny” one more time I think I’m gonna smack someone.

My second thought as I kept watching? this… isn’t Digimon.

Oh sure it has the name and Digimon are present, but the show completely discarded the basic premise and point of Digimon all together, the idea of digimon partners.  The kids don’t have partners, they find special armor that transforms them into digimon.  That may seem minor but it is huge in this case when you consider how central the relationship between the kids and their digimon has been in each season up to this one.  It’s especially galling because the season that came right before this one had an even stronger emphasis on this relationship than the other two.  They had a whole character arc dedicated to explaining its importance through the characters of Rika and Renamon.

This relationship between digi-destined and their digimon is how digimon become stronger and digivolve, take on new and more powerful forms.  To remove that takes away a vital aspect of the series.  It would be like having a pokemon series where, instead of going around with pokeballs and capturing pokemon to train and battle, you find a special tech that turns people into pokemon in order to battle each other.  It just isn’t the same.  Sure that could work as a side thing but not as a main staple of the series.

Now yes in Tamers the kids became digimon too but that was different.  They fused with their digimon partners in order to reach their most powerful forms, working together as one unit.  But they would still talk to each other as separate people while fused.  The relationship between them was essential and the primary reason why Tamers was a much stronger season than the other two.  So to have that completely thrown out in the very next season is, to me, actually rather insulting.  It no longer feels like Digimon.  Not the kind I loved and grew up on anyway.

No I haven’t watched past the first couple episodes.  Maybe it gets better, maybe there’s an explanation as to the lack of partners.  I don’t know, and maybe I’ll get myself back to watching it.  But I won’t keep my hopes up, especially since it looks like the season got a lot of flak.  At least it looks like later seasons such as Data Squad bring the partners back.

DiFR #11: Avatar the Last Airbender: The Rift by Gene Luen Yang

Book: Avatar the Last Airbender: The Rift

Author: Gene Luen Yang

Trigger warnings: parental rejection|(if you spotted any I missed please let me know so I can add them, thanks)

Sub-genre: Graphic Novel

Page count: 228 total (76 each)

Points of Diversity: People of color, blind main character, interracial relationship

Intersectional Diversity?: Yes

Would Recommend?: Yes

While still good, The Rift is probably the weakest of the three Avatar graphic Novels I have reviewed so far.  Which is particularly sad for me since Toph Beifong not only returns, but is far more central to the events here than she was in The Promise.  Toph is my favorite character from the animated series and luckily the parts that focus on her are the best parts of the story, for the most part. There is a romance subplot between her and a new character, Satoru, that feels a bit forced and rushed with how quickly she develops a crush on him.  However, it’s not unbearable and I do see why she’s attracted to the guy.

We learn more about Toph’s backstory having been raised as a lady from the wealthy Beifong family.  This leads to a conflict between her and Aang as he seeks to celebrate the air nomad holiday Yangchen’s Festival.  She refuses to partake in the traditional celebrations because of past experience with her parents always ordering her around because of “tradition.”  While disrespectful, it is a very understandable reaction coming from her, since so much of her life was controlled and dictated by her parents without being given any reason as to why.

We also get to meet up with Toph’s father and while he at first rejects her because of her “uncivilized” behavior, later events lead him to take pride in the woman his daughter has become.  This leads to a heart warming finish that was brought about largely due to Toph’s stubbornness in refusing to let her father walk out on this chance encounter without at least some conversation.

Where the story falters is in the main story that quickly turns into a nature vs man’s modern technology plot that was done much better in “Princess Mononoke.” Aang journeys with the rest of the group to what was once a sacred spot for the celebration of Yangchen’s Festival only to find that it has been turned into the site of a factory.  The area has become severely polluted because of this.  While The Rift does seek a middle ground approach by showing that the factory working as a uniting force between fire, earth, and water benders, it has a hard time staying there.

Turns out most of the pollution is coming from a hidden factory being run by Satoru’s uncle where the workers are placed in unsafe conditions and payed slave wages.  The uncle is transparently greedy and evil, not caring at all for the workers under his care.  The pollution of his factory brings out the anger of a great spirit who tries to destroy the town and kill humans out of revenge for killing a spirit friend of his.  We learn that Yangchen’s Festival was started to appease this spirit and keep the memory of his old friend alive.  While both the spirit and the uncle are shown to be in the wrong, the spirit is the only one given legitimate grievances to help explain his behavior.  The uncle is just transparently evil because “well someone has to be.” But it is the spirit who ends up paying a heftier price for his transgressions.

I get that The Rift is trying to explore the idea of there being no easy answers but it does so with a situation that does have easy answers.  How does Satoru not notice the horrible pollution of the river behind his factory? How was this hidden mine possibly kept a secret? Did Satoru never question where his uncle got all the iron? And let’s not forget the fact that with so many water, earth, and fire benders around the pollution would be fairly easy to clean up and keep under control.  Also the uncle never thought to keep a few earth benders in the tunnels to make sure things remained structurally sound?  All the greed in the world won’t keep the money flowing if your mine collapses because you didn’t do anything about keeping it stable.

So out of all three stories, The Rift has the most plot holes and unanswered questions.  It’s still a good story over all, and still worth a read.  But it feels like it could have used a bit more time to iron out the rough edges.

Update 8/21/2015: #diversefantasychat Rescheduled

hey all, just wanted to give you a heads up about the reschedule for my #diversefantasychat on Twitter.  I made a post about it there but just realized I never made an official update on my blog.  Sorry about that.  Anyway, I won’t be around on the 23rd in order to lead the chat so I’ve rescheduled the first one for August 30 at 6 PM PST/9 PM EST.  The first topic will be about supporting diversity in fantasy.  Afterwards I’m thinking of continuing it every other Sunday and will be making a Storify and highlights blog post to go up by 6 PM PST the day after on Monday.  I’m hoping this schedule shift will give me time to start releasing the superhero series I want to do and keep that on a regular schedule with new stories coming out every other Monday.  That would be the Mondays where no chat has been held to Storify and highlight.

For those not on Twitter (or who are but want to keep chatting) who still want to participate, feel free to continue the discussion and post your own thoughts in the comments section of the Monday highlights post.  I will be going through the comments and responding as much as I can.  See you later.

Infuruating Fantasy #11: The Women in Fridges Trope

(Sidenote: I co-wrote this article with a close friend of mine who wishes to remain anonymous at this time.  The first five lines and the whole section about Blaze from Sonic ’06 are his work.)

You know when you’re reading something awesome and then, all of a sudden, a character dies for no reason other than to further the main character’s plot? You know how that’s usually a woman dying for the sake of developing or furthering a man (usually her lover or a family member)’s character arc?

Yeah, sucks doesn’t it.

Welcome to The Fridge. Population: every superhero’s girlfriend ever.

The women in refrigerators trope started when come book writer, Gail Simone, started the website Women in Refrigerators.  Here she made a list of “superheroines who have been either depowered, raped, or cut up and stuck in the refrigerator” (Simone).  This was done in order to “illustrate that female superheroes are disproportionately likely to be brutalized in comic books, usually to further the character arc of male super heroes.” (TV Tropes).  The title for the site was inspired by the murder of Green Lantern Kyle Rayner’s girlfriend Alexandra DeWitt.  She was killed by the villain Major Force and stuffed into the fridge for Kyle to find.  This took place solely for Kyle’s arc of anger and angst.

“While it is strictly true that Tropes Are Not Bad, this one, especially as a catchphrase [Stuffed into the Fridge], is often given a very negative connotation as it is all too often a hallmark of supremely lazy writing – using the death of a character as “cheap anger” for the protagonist, and devaluing the life of that character in the process, instead of giving the villain something actually interesting to do that can involve all three characters and more emotions than simple anger and angst.” (TV Tropes)

This trope shows up a lot in fantasy as male heroes frequently have their female lovers killed off or kidnapped by the big bad or their minions for the purpose of spurring said heroes onward.  While what happened to Alexandra is the most well known instance of fridging, lets take a look at one that is often overlooked.

People have a lot of complaints against the infamous Sonic ’06, but one of the least popular of those is the fact that one of the best female characters in the Sonic franchise – Blaze – gets fridged at the end of SIlver’s story.

For those who don’t know, some background on Blaze: originally introduced as a guardian of the Sol Emeralds from a different dimension, she is a cat who can control fire, jump incredible lengths, and run at a speed comparable to Sonic’s. She was one of a few Sonic characters who is not pink and, while female, is not particularly feminine. Like Sonic, like most male protagonists, her gender is a background quality, not a defining one. She has flaws – acrophobia and a tendency to judge people harshly and hastily – and she has a concrete personality. All of that fell away when she decided to sacrifice herself at the end of SIlver’s story arc, to get rid of the big, bad Iblis for eternity.

Except that didn’t happen. She took two Chaos Emeralds and sealed Iblis inside herself, then sealed herself away in an alternate dimension for all eternity. And guess what? IBLIS CAME BACK. And is later defeated. And after that completely eliminated from the game’s canon timeline. Not only did her sacrifice mean nothing  to the plot, besides bringing Silver’s journey to independence to a neat close, it is never acknowledged. After that point, she’s never mentioned by name, or even referenced. Not even by Silver!

To make matters worse, as we all know, Sonic dies at the start of the final arc, and such a huge deal is made over it that the miracle that was foreshadowed throughout the game (mostly by Blaze, by the way) is Sonic’s revival. However, Blaze is absent from the entirety of the final episode. Of the nine playable characters in the game, seven of them search for the Chaos Emeralds in the final act. Sonic is out because he’s dead, and despite space-time being rent into little bitty pieces, Blaze is left out, as well. Because, of course, we can cry for the dead guy who got murdered by the Big Bad, because he’s like, the title character and all, but not for the girl who sacrificed herself to save the world. And failed.

I have heard two arguments as to why Blaze wasn’t fridged, and why she was forgotten about. The first is that, since Sonic and Elise go back to snuff out the candle flame that becomes Iblis, they reset everything in the world, and therefore, Blaze is alive again. The other is that, when Blaze sealed herself away, she erased herself from the timeline and doesn’t exist in that canon anymore.

First off, Sonic and Elise clearly recognize each other after they reset time and destroyed Iblis. Perhaps this is only because they were together when they erased Iblis from existence, but it pokes a hole in the idea that the entire game’s story basically never happened. By the way, that’s a really shitty way to cover up killing a character — “Oh hey b-t-dubbs this person is alive again, so you can’t be mad at us!” is just bad storytelling.

Second, how, exactly, is a female character who literally erases herself from history  anything other than fridging?! If, in fact, this is what Blaze did, it makes every other factor centering around her treatment in the narrative even worse. Yes, she was a mentor character, so her “death” should have been obvious from the start. Considering gender politics, though, it was pretty damn poor taste to kill off one of the more progressive female characters in the Sonic franchise. Blaze was once a main character, featured on box art! In ’06, the three hedgehog dudes take that spot, and she is turned into a static mentor character for one of the dudes, thrown in the fridge under the guise of sacrifice, and once “dead,” never mentioned again. You could argue semantics over whether she really ended up in the fridge or not. Either way, that is a shitty way of dealing with a character. It was sexist and disempowering, and it brought low one of the only female characters in the series whose main qualities have nothing to do with her femininity.

Now the presence of this trope doesn’t mean that female characters can’t be killed off at all.  Nor does it mean that every instance of a woman dying will automatically fit under women in refrigerators. To illustrate this, lets take a look at an example of a female character death done right.

Final Fantasy VII is known as one of the greatest games of all time.  A major reason for this is its epic storyline which has one of the most well done character deaths in fiction.  That is the death of Aerith, which happened somewhat early on in the story.  Aerith had learned of Sephiroth’s plan to destroy the world with a spell called Meteor.  She ran off on her own to a temple to pray to the earth for help fighting him only to be killed by Sephiroth as Cloud, Tifa, Barret, and the rest of the gang show up.  We later learn that Aerith wasn’t just praying, she was also casting a spell called Holy that would protect the earth from Meteor.  In the final fight it is our group of heroes fighting Meteor with Holy that allows them to win out.

This death works because Aerith wasn’t just killed off by Sephiroth to show how evil he was and to motivate Cloud on a revenge mission.  Sephiroth kills her because she directly threatened his plans and we see the impact her death has on everyone, not just Cloud.  Aerith’s murder has lasting repercussions throughout the story and she is never forgotten.  The biggest key, though, is that she was not disempowered by her death.  Her actions gave Cloud and the others the power they needed to defeat Sephiroth.  She knew the danger she was putting herself in and was willing to take the risk.  Blaze knew the dangers too, but the difference is that Blaze’s efforts were erased, made null and void.  Aerith’s sacrifice was not.

What truly pulls Aerith’s death away from the fridge is that she wasn’t killed because of her connection to cloud.  She was killed as a direct result of the power she possessed and her attempts to use that power to stop Sephiroth.  To reiterate my earlier point, she was killed because she posed a threat to Sephiroth.  She had power and her power didn’t just disappear or get forgotten because she died.  It gave the heroes the edge they needed to win.  That is how you do a character death right.

The women in Refrigerators trope is a highly toxic and pervasive one.  It normalizes and perpetuates the use of violence against women.  To make matters worse the stories in which these women are tossed aside are not meant to be about them.  The stories are meant to be about the male hero’s anger and angst over her death.  They are meant as a motivator to send him off after the big bad.  This makes the trope even uglier because it erases the lives and experiences of the women killed. The thing is you don’t need to kill, rape, or brutalize women in order to motivate a hero.  Thinking a hero needs that is actually narrow-minded and selfish.  Heaven forbid a hero simply be motivated by the greater good or a desire to help others.