Posted in WriterInMotion 2019

Writer in Motion – Week 0

Have you ever been sitting around reading a book, or a blog, or an article, and you think to yourself, “Wow, this person is really great at writing. It’s obvious why they became a writer and why I didn’t. I could never write like that.”? I know I do. A lot. Yet for some reason, I am about 25,000 words into a novel that I’m writing. I know that it’s hot garbage. I know that it doesn’t compare to actual authors works and manuscripts. I’m just not really that great of a writer.

Or am I?

By the time a story reaches you, especially novels, it’s gone through LOTS of editing. There’s the authors own revisions, critique partners, beta and sensitivity readers, professional editors, agents, and possibly more! The book can find itself in its 10th or 12th form before you lay eyes on it. Unfortunately, that’s also all we as authors have to gauge our own works against.

Even if you’re another authors critique partner, it’s still been through at least one or more rounds of revisions and edits. So it’s really hard to see that within your pile of garbage that you call a first draft, there could be a shiny gem waiting to be seen. Even if you have to pull it out kicking and screaming. That’s what Writer In Motion is all about.

So if you follow along over the next 6 weeks, you’ll see a short story based off a prompt I didn’t see until Nov. 1st grow and evolve and become something (hopefully) unrecognizable from where it started. With all of that out of the way, lets get to the prompt!

I’m not gonna lie, I don’t do great with prompts. My writing ideas generally spawn organically from something I’m doing, or some conversation I’m having, or some situation I’m in and complaining about (so many airport stories from when I was traveling every week for work). So I was definitely nervous to see a prompt. What if I’m not inspired? What if I take it too literally? What if I simply don’t find the image interesting enough?

Unfortunately, at least one of those things happened. Nothing was coming to me at all. I spent a good 30 minutes just digesting what I was seeing. A woman, holding a flare on what could be a pier or a ship mast or something, with a partly cloudy blue sky behind her. Nothing says a story with conflict like a sunny blue sky right? Especially when I had in my head before anything was released, that I wanted to write a middle grade “horror” story, since it was the day after Halloween and I still had all the fun thoughts of trick or treating, horror films, and spooky decorations floating around in my head.

Finally, I saw something I could work with. The entire lower portion of the photo looks like a storm brewing out at sea. Tall, dark, ominous clouds creeping over the horizon is definitely a view I’m familiar with. At the ski resort I used to work at, it was a common thing for it to be sunny and beautiful until about 2pm, at which point clouds like that would race over the mountain and bring their downpours for an hour before moving on further east.

All of this is to say, I had a setting. A dark and stormy afternoon. How many horror stories include a well timed crack of lightning and thunder? Like, all of them! With setting in hand, I decided to break out my trusty laptop and start to pants like there was no tomorrow! In my writing, I’m generally a plantser, so pantsing was definitely not the best thing to do. I found myself 200 words in, with no idea where to go. Like I was spinning my wheels in deep mud.

I did the best thing I could do, and planned out a little bit. All I needed was an idea of where I was going, so I could figure out how to get there. Honestly, y’all pantsers are crazy! I will never understand how you can get somewhere without knowing where you’re going first. It’s madness!

I did finally figure out where I was going though, and I think you’ll be able to see the transition in the draft. I like to think that it goes from “Scooby Doo” to “Goosebumps” in the span of like a sentence. All that really means though, is that I’ve got a great spot to start with revisions come week 2! Stay tuned, the draft will be up tomorrow!

Posted in Uncategorized

Book Review – Summoned

A magical world filled with Genies and shopping and high stakes. That’s what M.A. Guglielmo has crafted in her debut novel Summoned. Zahara, a jinn (genie) is summoned by Daniel to save the world from a couple of fallen angles. The last thing an evil jinn wants to do is save the world. But she’s itching for her first soul, so she’ll take what she can get.

The world M.A. Guglielmo (goo-yell-mo) is a really cool place. Set in modern day Morocco, among a few other spots, there’s so much to love. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know anything about Morocco. So reading this book was a great learning experience. Words that people are less likely to know are always italicized and I utilized my kindle’s dictionary and wikipedia functions often.

That’s not to say there’s too much you don’t know, because half the fun of the book was looking something up and going down a rabbit hole of Moroccan culture. It never feels overwhelming, as long as you’re willing to put in the extra 2 minutes every now and again, if you don’t know what a word means. I definitely learned a lot about the place, and want to visit real bad now, which is awesome!

As for the characters, we’re immediately greeted with the naive Daniel, a “warlock” of sorts. He definitely has innate power because he could summon Zahara, our cover jinn. He doesn’t however, know much else. He was dragged into this whole situation because a dead grandparent reached out from beyond the grave!

We also have Zahara. She’s a sex crazed shop-a-holic and wouldn’t have it any other way. She’ll also gladly screw you over in bargaining if you’re not super careful with the way you ask for help either. She must have learned from the best while traveling through the seven hells in jinn school.

Thirdly, we have Zaid, who, in my opinion, is the best character in the book. He’s this really awesome jinn who has amazing combat skills, and boldly defied his family by converting from the old religions to muslim. He always seems to have a new secret hiding around every twist and turn in this magical novel.

With all of that being said, the book isn’t perfect. I’m not sure I’ve ever read a perfect book though, so take that with a grain of salt. There’s times where actions feel a little loose, and we probably could have used an extra paragraph or two, to fully grasp the reason an action is taken, or why things are the way they are. Those small pacing issues aside though, the book is a fun read. Even for someone like me who reads primarily middle grade fiction, and struggled to really “get” some of the book, it was still great fun!

Overall grade is 3.5 out of 5 stars! Definitely worth your time.

About ‘Summoned’

Zahara, party girl of the paranormal, floats up out of a lamp in Daniel Goldstein’s apartment ready to trick an evil sorcerer into giving up his soul. But Daniel, whose Moroccan grandmother has reached out from beyond the grave to command him to raise a jinn, wants to do good—by stopping a vengeful fallen angel.

The nymphomaniacal, shopping-obsessed Zahara isn’t the otherworldly ally Daniel had in mind. A do-gooder with a dangerous quest isn’t what Zahara’s looking for, either. Stuck in a magical contract with each other, the two travel to Morocco, where Zahara’s handsome friend Zaid, a jinn who’s converted to Islam, reluctantly joins their quest. As Daniel and Zaid struggle against jinn-hunting mercenaries and their attraction to one other, Zahara is forced to join forces with the fallen angel’s gorgeous but infuriating brother to stop a cataclysmic war between the human and jinn worlds.

You can find Summoned at all major retailers!

Tule Publishing

Amazon

Apple iBooks

Barnes & Noble

Google

Kobo

Posted in InFlight

Unwritten – Tara Gilboy

“If you could meet your main character, would they forgive you?”

This is a question that floats around writers circles often. I can’t even count how many times I’ve seen it on twitter. It’s a question that really digs at you as an author. Your characters are your babies. As an author, you spend so much time crafting the characters, back stories, personalities, the world they live in, and so much more. By the time a book makes its way into the hands of readers, it can feel a part of you.

We throw our characters into stressful situations to see how they’ll handle it. Sometimes characters will even surprise the author in how they react to things. It’s happened to me, where a character definitely took on a life of her own, and started driving a way I did not anticipate. I was just along for the ride at that point.

“Once upon a time,” Gertrude Winters wrote, “in a land called Bondoff, in a castle on a hill . . .”

Our characters feel real. But what if they actually were? What if your character was walking around in the world, and you ran into them at the bookstore? What would they ask of you? What would you say to them? Would you even recognize them? This is the premise that Unwritten, by Tara Gilboy tackles. A fairytale storybook character Gracie, is taken from her story by her parents, and brought into the real world, because she is supposed to die in the story.

This story is so amazing. Tara takes this really great premise and runs with it. As Gracie moves through the book, she wrestles with her own emotions, fate, and forgiveness. Gracie’s adventure takes her through the real world, along with her own world within her story. She meets her author, and has so many things to say to her, which are not always good.

Tara does an amazing job crafting a world filled with all the fun elements you would find in a fantasy story, including castles, moats, and even an evil witch. Throwing a couple kids from the real world into a fantasy land has never felt so much fun, at least for one character. Who wouldn’t want their own fantasy storybook after all?

Gracie feels genuine throughout, reacting in ways that any young kid would when faced with the decisions, and the information, that is thrown at her. She wrestles with her temper, and if she can overcome the fate bestowed upon her. Can Gracie become her own person, with a personality not forced upon herself by the author of her story, or is she destined to live out what was written about her within her storybook, never to see the real world again?

It’s a fun adventure I couldn’t put down. Literally. I read the whole thing over the course of two plane flights. The premise felt unique and fresh. You should definitely go out and find yourself a copy right now!

Unwritten – Tara Gilboy

Twelve-year-old Gracie Freeman is living a normal life, but she is haunted by the fact that she is actually a character from a story, an unpublished fairy tale she’s never read. When she was a baby, her parents learned that she was supposed to die in the story, and with the help of a magic book, took her out of the story, and into the outside world, where she could be safe. 
But Gracie longs to know what the story says about her. Despite her mother’s warnings, Gracie seeks out the story’s author, setting in motion a chain of events that draw herself, her mother, and other former storybook characters back into the forgotten tale. 
Inside the story, Gracie struggles to navigate the blurred boundary between who she really is and the surprising things the author wrote about her. As the story moves toward its deadly climax, Gracie realizes she’ll have to face a dark truth and figure out her own fairy-tale ending.

You can find Unwritten here

Posted in Review

Review – Double Crossing the Bridge

There’s something magical, that Sarah J. Sover has tapped into, with her debut novel, Double Crossing the Bridge. She’s taken a story we all know so well, The Three Billygoats Gruff, and put a modern, very adult, spin on it. In the city of New Metta, the corporation TCB, owns and manages the bridge which allows humans access to the world below. The bridge generates untold wealth and prosperity for the elite underlings of society, while lesser beings are left to fend for scraps. 

Sarah has managed to take a beloved children’s story, and breath fresh new life into it. She has created a something that is rich with captivating characters, a unique world, and of course, a story that is begging to be told.

Granu, who is no longer deemed fit for her job as a teacher, is left to attempt the one thing no one has ever been able to do before. Steal as much as she and her lifelong friends Fillig and Kradduk can carry from TCB, and escape to a better life. This is of course, if those damn billy goats don’t get in the way.

Sarah’s strength easily relies on her ability to take something and turn it on its head. So often, a world where trolls and billy goats are at odds, is a world set in medieval times. Where you think of wooden bridges and stone arrowheads and maybe even Robin Hood. Instead, we’re greeted with cell phones, and laptops, and television. It’s utterly unique and amazing.

She has also managed to turn everything we as humans know and love on its head. General standards of beauty such as a short thin woman, or a tall bulky man, are completely reversed. The underlings delight in eating unicorn meat, and children as well. Even the act of marriage is tossed on its head, where a male who longs for a mate is ultimately considered a failure of a man, and therefore not worthy of a woman’s time.

Each new chapter bring hilarious new ways for our own world to be turned around and it’s just as amazing in the final pages, as it is in the beginning.

The book, like everything, is not without faults, though they mostly feel minor, and don’t detract from the overall story. Odd choices here and there are made by our group of thieving heroes, and at times the pacing feels just a little off. But in the end, all the strings that weave this hilarious story together are cleaned up nicely and create a wonderfully fun read.

Overall, I’d give it 4 out of 5 stars! 

Double Crossing the Bridge is written by Sarah J. Sover, and published by The Parliament House. You can find links to purchase the book from the publishers website listed below, along with all the details on how to find Sarah, and The Parliament House. Synopsis in the comments.

http://www.parliamenthousepress.com/product-page/double-crossing-the-bridge-by-sarah-j-sover-paperback

Instagram: @sarahjsover
Twitter: @sarahjsover

Instagram: @theparliamentpress
Twitter: @parliamentbooks
Facebook: The Parliament House

#sarahjsover #doublecrossingthebridge #dctb #fantasyreads #theparliamenthousepress  #TPHTours

Posted in Uncategorized

Attention! Attention!

Some of their extended family members, such as aunts, uncles, and grandparents, often accused them of faking it for attention, like Connor’s dad did. I thought it would be exhausting to put on such an act all the time

Dusti Bowling – Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus

Unfortunately, it’s not the rarest thing in the world for someone to accuse a trans person of coming out for attention, or because their peers are also trans/gay/ace/anywhere else on the LGBTQ+ spectrum. The call people ‘Trans trenders’.

Other times, people can just flat out not believe that it’s true for no other reason than “it’s not a real thing”. I’m lucky, no one in my immediate sphere holds any of these views. But other trans people aren’t. They get rejected for showing the world one of their most guarded secrets.

But Dusti Bowling (Sidenote: Yes that is her real name, according to her twitter bio! How fun is that!) explains perfectly in her really great book Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus that people don’t choose to be trans, or gay, or ace, or in Connor’s case, have Tourettes, just for attention.

Aven, the main character, is a 13 year old girl who has just moved to a new town with zero friends, parents who have taken on a failing business, and to make everything worse, zero arms too! Quickly though, she finds a friend, Connor, who has Tourettes syndrome, and they bond over their shared outcast status.

Sadly, Connor’s dad holds the view that Connor can’t control his tics because he wants attention. But like Aven says, it’s exhausting being an outcast. A minority. Trans people fight the same fight.

There’s exactly zero worlds where someone would willingly put up with discrimination, weird looks, bathroom bills, almost zero representation in the media, debt from necessary medical bills, and possible surgeries, just for attention.

Instead, trans people who decide to come out and transition have weighed the pain they suffer from gender dysphoria (the distress from your body not matching your gender) to the pain the outward world could give. They have decided that it’s actually less bad to deal with everything the world could throw at them, and those things could include being murdered just because. No seriously, trans panic is a valid legal defense in many states in the USA.

However, it’s not all bad. It’s really cool seeing your life get better one day at a time when you’re on the right medication. It’s really awesome feeling like you match. Seeing the outpouring of love and support one can receive from friends and family can make a bad day good.

Just remember, we don’t do this for attention. We don’t want to stand out in the crowd. We just want to live our best life. Something Aven is hoping to achieve too.
– Kayleigh

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus:

Aven Green loves to tell people that she lost her arms in an alligator wrestling match, or a wildfire in Tanzania, but the truth is she was born without them. And when her parents take a job running Stagecoach Pass, a rundown western theme park in Arizona, Aven moves with them across the country knowing that she’ll have to answer the question over and over again.

Her new life takes an unexpected turn when she bonds with Connor, a classmate who also feels isolated because of his own disability, and they discover a room at Stagecoach Pass that holds bigger secrets than Aven ever could have imagined. It’s hard to solve a mystery, help a friend, and face your worst fears. But Aven’s about to discover she can do it all . . . even without arms.

Posted in Uncategorized

You’ve been Summoned!

It’s so exciting when a book gets published. For the majority of authors, even if they’ve been published before, it’s not an easy task. Even for authors like Stephen King or Neil Gaiman who are sure to get published, it can feel like an uphill battle of creating a story that people want to read. You need captivating characters, a story that can hold readers interests for hundreds of pages, it has to be well written, and unique.

But for debut authors, they’re doing something entirely new. They’re going through the process for the first time, which makes everything feel 10 times as hard. They’ve landed an agent and that agent has sold their book! What could amount to many years of work got a new author to a point where their words will be read by other people. People that aren’t just family or critique partners or beta readers. At this point, the book has been through the depths of editing hell and has come out a shiny polished gem.

If you couldn’t tell…publishing a book is sort of a big deal. Which is why I’m SOOOO excited to showcase debut author M. A. Guglielmo and her debut book ‘Summoned’! It’s an adult contemporary fiction work, that treads on aspects of fantasy, moroccan culture, queer romance, and so much more. Tule Publishing calls it a Romantic Fantasy! How much fun is that?!

About ‘Summoned’

Zahara, party girl of the paranormal, floats up out of a lamp in Daniel Goldstein’s apartment ready to trick an evil sorcerer into giving up his soul. But Daniel, whose Moroccan grandmother has reached out from beyond the grave to command him to raise a jinn, wants to do good—by stopping a vengeful fallen angel.

The nymphomaniacal, shopping-obsessed Zahara isn’t the otherworldly ally Daniel had in mind. A do-gooder with a dangerous quest isn’t what Zahara’s looking for, either. Stuck in a magical contract with each other, the two travel to Morocco, where Zahara’s handsome friend Zaid, a jinn who’s converted to Islam, reluctantly joins their quest. As Daniel and Zaid struggle against jinn-hunting mercenaries and their attraction to one other, Zahara is forced to join forces with the fallen angel’s gorgeous but infuriating brother to stop a cataclysmic war between the human and jinn worlds.

If that synopsis does’t get you wanting to read this book, I’m not sure anything will. Except maybe the cover!! So, without further ado…

You can preorder Summoned on the Tule Publishing website, Amazon, Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Google and Kobo. I’ve included their links for convenience right here!

Tule Publishing

Amazon

Apple iBooks

Barnes & Noble

Google

Kobo

About M. A. Guglielmo

Born and raised in Rhode Island, M.A. Guglielmo is the proud mother of two wonderful daughters and works as a neurosurgeon in academic practice. Drawing on her life-long love of imaginative fiction, she writes stories based mostly on Middle Eastern and Southern European mythology and legend.

Posted in Uncategorized

Pronouns, pronouns, and more pronouns

We’re back everyone! Yay!!!! I’m so sorry for the long break, there was a cross country move, a new job, and lots of travel for work. But! I have time to get back on the blog train and write posts again!

I don’t have a quote from a book this week, but I definitely have a book to talk about! It’s called Honor Bound. It’s the follow up to the book in my last post, Honor Among Thieves. It continues the journey of Zara Cole, the young girl from the hood in New Detroit, as she soars through the universe inside an alien space whale!!! I just have to say again, the concept for these books is so much fun and feels so unique and fresh, they’re just amazing books.

Something else that’s really great about these books that Honor Among Thieves touched on, but Honor Bound really takes a strong stance on, is pronoun usage. It makes sense really. When you’re traveling the universe meeting aliens, there’s a pretty good chance some of them might not be male or female. We have lots of gender nonconforming animals in the ocean here on Earth!

So of course it makes sense that aliens might work differently. That they might be male or female or something else entirely. And when you’re interacting with those aliens, it’s probably not the best idea to try and make them conform to our own standards of what we expect. It’s the same here on earth, within our own species. One struggle for trans acceptance that is constantly being brought up is pronoun usage. Transphobic people like to claim I’m a “him” or an “it”. They feel if they use the wrong words enough they’ll be right.

All they’ll really be is an asshole. It truly does harm when someone uses the wrong pronouns. It sucks because I’m fighting to be myself. I’m taking medicine, I’ve changed my name, my drivers license and passport both say I’m female. So when someone tries to disprove all of that by calling me “him”, it’s disheartening. It makes me feel like even with everything I’ve done, it’s never enough. For someone like that, unfortunately, it never will be enough.

Beyond just he/him & she/hers, there’s lots of other pronouns out there as well! Some people prefer they/them, or xe/xem. The thing about pronouns is that most people will fall into he/him or she/hers and fewer but still a good chunk will fall into they/them. But that doesn’t mean the others are wrong, or they are doing it for attention. If you find someone who prefers a less used pronoun, even if it seems foreign or odd to you to use, it’s still best to use it. It shows your support to that person, which is a major driving factor for us. Sadly a bunch of people detransition or commit suicide because they don’t find acceptance from the people in their lives.

Some people make mistakes. I’ve known my family for my entire life. I’ve had some friends for a very long time. Sometimes they slip up. I think they fall back into old habits. But that’s ok, because the correct themselves and move on like nothing happened. There was never any malicious intent behind their mistake. We are human after all, mistakes will happen. If we grow from them, we become better people.

If you know someone who is trans, go out there and do your best with their pronouns. If you make a mistake, I promise, it’s not going to be the end of the world. We can usually tell when someone is making an effort.

Anyways, this post doubles as an informative post, and a call to action! There’s things every single person can do to help! Whether you’re trans, cis, or something else entirely, pronouns are a way of life. They’re in our daily speech. Something that takes no effort and just helps spread awareness, is to add your preferred pronouns to your email signature. I know, I know, some people might think you’re weird, you might be a little self conscious, but it really does help. As more people use them, it normalizes the behaviors. It helps to show that sometimes our assumptions are correct, and interestingly how sometimes they aren’t.

I know I was scared to put mine in my signature and I’m trans myself! Being referred to in a certain way shouldn’t strike fear in someone. It shouldn’t be something that seems odd. And the more people that do it, the better it becomes.

That’s all I’ve got for today, that’s for stopping by! I promise I’ll start posting again with regularity, I’ll see you next time! – Kayleigh

Posted in Uncategorized

Take a Leap of Faith

What am I doing? Can I really do this? Should I?

Rachel Caine & Ann Aguirre – Honor Among Thieves

I have been reading a lot of magical fantasy books lately, as noted by every book I’ve written about thus far. So this week, I’m writing about a different kind of book. One with no magic in it at all. However! What it does have, is space whales!!! Literal space whales! Yes, it’s every bit as awesome as it sounds!

I read Honor Among Thieves by Rachel Caine & Ann Aguirre, a book about young Zara Cole, who grew up a child who hated rules, and ended up staying in the slums of New Detroit, rather than go with her family to Mars. To a “better” life. She’s gritty, she’s fierce, she has amazing street smarts, and she’s a criminal. Until one day fate decides to snatch her up and take her on a journey through the stars on a living alien ship, named Nadim (he’s the space whale).

This book is fantastic! It’s fun from the get go, and there’s enough mystery to keep it interesting throughout. The unique worlds that have been crafted, are so much fun to learn about. The journey to find out why a criminal from the slums was chosen for a coveted seat to the stars is such a fun ride I couldn’t put it down.

At one point, Zara questions what she is doing, and if the right thing to do, is go on this journey. There’s very real dangers on Earth should she stay, but she doesn’t feel equipped to go to the stars either. Things are confusing for her, and nothing really seems to make sense and she can’t get any real answers from anyone. “You were chosen for a reason” is a common phrase in her life. This parallels what a lot of trans people go through. The common trope that someone who is trans should know from the time their a kid is all too commonly not accurate.

Looking back at my own life, there were absolutely signs when I was young, but I had no idea what they meant, or how to express them, in a world where you’re taught “you’re a boy, this is what boys do”. So many trans people go through long, extended periods of denial, repression, and questioning, before they can admit to themselves they are trans, let alone others. Which is why the quote I chose this week is so accurate. I wondered the same things for months as my transition started. It never stops either. I was questioning if I was doing the right thing when I came out to myself, when I went to the doctor to get a prescription for hormones, even when I had been on hormones for 3 months and I realized my breasts were big enough to be real! It’s always scary, and you always wonder if you can continue.

But that doesn’t stop me, because like Zara, who kept getting the answer “You were chosen for a reason”, I have to remember that I’m transitioning for a reason. I was unhappy with my life, even with all the good, there was a lingering feeling of emptiness, constant depression and sleepless nights. I hated “being a man”, and I was so upset that I lost the coin toss of what gender I was. Just like Zara took a leap to avoid the dangers on Earth, I took a leap to try and fix my own problems, and life has rewarded me greatly with my courage. I get to finally live a happy life, one that I enjoy, one where I’m ok being myself, and almost all of my mental health issues have practically vanished.

When you’re presented with an opportunity to take a leap of faith to make life better, even if you don’t feel equipped to handle it, you should take it anyways. You never know how strong you are until you overcome your burdens and prove to yourself what you can do.

Posted in Uncategorized

Always remember who you are

The more masks you wear, the harder it is to remember who you really are beneath them all.

Katherine Locke – The Spy with the Red Balloon

I love this quote so much. It comes from the book The Spy with the Red Balloon by Kathrine Locke. It is the incredible sequel to The Girl with the Red Balloon, that I wrote about a few weeks ago. It is about two siblings who get recruited to the manhattan project, due to their magical blood. There’s magic, and espionage, and queer relationships!!! What’s not to love about all of that! It takes everything that was great about the first book, and makes it better. I absolutely loved it from start to finish. Absolutely go check it out and give it a read. It stands on its own because it’s not a direct sequel, but is definitely boosted by having already read the first book.

I really love the quote I pulled for this week. I think it’s something everyone can relate to on some level. Everyone ends up putting on a mask at some point. Some people put on a mask to hide their fear. If they show to the world they aren’t afraid, people will look up to them. Others put on a mask to hide from the world. As a trans woman, I put on a mask of masculinity for years and years, just to survive. I was afraid growing up to accept who I really am. I thought “men do this”, “men look like this”, “men talk like this”. So I put on the masks, and pretended to be a man.

Growing up in the 90s, and being in high school and college in the 2000s, being trans wasn’t something you heard about, at least in the midwest. Because of this, my mask of masculinity helped me make it through childhood, my teens, and young adulthood. I was able to pretend to be someone else, and people liked me because I was “normal”. But it was so limiting too. I lost sight of who I was. I played video games to escape reality. I was extremely introverted so I wouldn’t have to show the world I didn’t know who I was. I felt like I had nothing to offer the world.

The problem was the masks. I had lost myself behind them, and the only way out was to rip them off and let the world see who I was. So I came out as trans and began my journey to where I am today. In that time, I’ve learned that I have things to offer the world. I’m more than just that kid that played video games and didn’t socialize much. I’m a strong woman, I love to crochet, and I’m writing about my experiences to show other trans people that there is hope, it’s not all darkness. These are all things I wouldn’t have known, had I hid behind the masks for the rest of my life.

Not all masks are bad all the time. Someone who is introverted has to put on a mask of confidence when in a social setting, but that helps them connect with others! It helps them come out of their shell! Other times, a mask of fear is ok. If you need to spend a night hidden under the covers crying because school or work feels overwhelming, that’s ok! But remember to take the mask off at some point, so you don’t get buried in the negativity that it can bring. Don’t ever forget who you are, because you are amazing, and the world deserves to know that!

Posted in Uncategorized

Like seeing color for the first time

In fact I feel, well, alive. Like I’ve been living my whole life blind and now I’ve opened my eyes.

Victoria Aveyard – Red Queen

It’s a common thing to hear from people who get their first pair of glasses, that they finally understand what it feels like to see with good vision. Their eyes have been opened to the world that exists around them in a clarity they never thought possible. My brother in law said “oh my gosh you can read the words!” when referencing a video game he had been playing. It makes you wonder how people can go so long and have no idea they needed something so vital and important.

This week I read the AMAZING book Red Queen, by Victoria Aveyard. It is such a wonderfully crafted story about a young girl named Mare Barrow, who finds herself among a world of silver blooded elite, as she pretends to be a silver herself, while also trying to keep everyone around her from discovering that she has “lower” red blood. This story really gripped me from the moment I started reading it and never let go. I stayed up two nights in a row until about 1 am reading, just so I could finish it. If you have the opportunity to read this book, I highly recommend it!

The quote at the top comes from Red Queen, and I bring it up, because that’s the way I described my first time out in the world in women’s clothes. I was 29, it was July, and I had just come out to my parents. I was on my way to a therapist appointment to discuss my gender issues, and she encouraged me to go out and get an outfit and wear it in. She said it would help me start to feel at home in my body. Up until that point, I had spent almost 20 years dressing up in secret. 20 years hiding from the world, borrowing clothes from the women in my life without them knowing. I have since apologized to those women, but at the time, I needed an outlet for my repressed inner woman and didn’t have a better way.

The night prior to walking into the world, I went to target to go shopping. A nice saleswoman helped me pick out a dress that was way too big for me, under the guise that I was shopping for my wife. I was too scared to tell her the dress was for me. But even with the setback, I still had made progress. I had a new dress to wear. The next day, I went, to my appointment in a dress, the first time ever having stepped outside my bedroom in women’s clothes. I had a full beard, and looked mighty hilarious, but it was an important first step. People saw me like that, I interacted with 3 or 4 people at the therapists office. This was no longer something that was just myself. This was my future, who I was destined to become. When I got home, I was asked how things went, and my only response was, “It’s like seeing color for the very first time.” It was a relatively mundane drive across town, and yet, it was so important to my self esteem and who I was, that I cherish that memory.

So back to my very first question, how can someone go so long, without knowing something is wrong. I don’t have an answer, I’m not sure anyone does. But when you are transgender, something a large chunk of the world doesn’t “agree” with, it becomes hard to accept that about yourself. Who can you safely talk to when you start to feel different? Will your parents understand their 12 year old “boy”, when they goes to bed wishing they could be a woman? Will your friends shun you at the pivotal time where how you’re perceived at school is everything? Or is it easier to ignore it, pretend it doesn’t exist, and repress for 20 years, even if it hurts to do so? It’s so easy to fall into a routine of unhappiness that it becomes normalized. It’s your daily life, you hardly notice it. It’s background noise.

But, when you finally gain the courage to come out, to accept yourself, to begin making changes in your life to get better, you become so very aware of everything that was wrong before. Immediately, I could remember things about my life I never remembered happening. Feelings of dysphoria that I didn’t understand at the time. I also saw an exit. A way to get better. To be happy. It was like seeing color for the first time.