Tag Archives: lgbt

Want a glimpse of Dead Magic?

As promised on my Facebook page, here is a little unedited preview of Dead Magic. Coming this fall:

Immanuel looked over his shoulder and spotted a vase sitting in the center of the kitchen table, overflowing with ferns fronds, forget-me-notes, and periwinkle traveler’s joy. Adam had given them to him when he arrived, but now their edges were curled and turning brown while their heads dolefully flopped over the side. Immanuel set down his tea and picked up the vase. As he made for the sink, he turned, expecting to find Adam behind him but found nothing. He went to take a step forward but was knocked off kilter by something hitting his chest. Heat seared through his veins, snaking through his core until it hit his heart and shot through his body one beat at a time. Swallowing hard, he leaned against the counter, busying himself with the flowers to keep Adam from seeing the fear in his eyes. He took a shuddering breath and closed his eyes, hoping the stutter in his heart would stop.
“Immanuel? Immanuel, are you all right?”
Immanuel jerked back as water overflowed from the crystal vase and ran over his hands and cuffs. The creeping heat abated at the water’s touch until it only lingered as a tight ball lodged near his heart. Releasing a tight breath, he swallowed hard and carried the flowers back to the table without a word. As he raised his gaze to the dying flowers, his chest tightened. Before his eyes, the flowers’ heads uncurled and the bits of brown he had seen a moment earlier eating away at the edges of the petals dissolved. Across the table, Adam absently poked at a sugar cube bobbing in his cup, unaware of his partner’s sudden urge to pitch the plants out the backdoor. Immanuel averted his gaze, but when he looked back a moment later, the blues and purples of the forget-me-nots were more vibrant than the day he arrived.
Something was wrong with him. Something was very wrong.
“I— I think I’m going to lie down for a little while.”
Adam’s arm wrapped around his shoulders, pressing Immanuel’s back into his chest. “You look flushed. Are you feeling all right?”
“I’m fine,” he snapped but caught himself. “I’m just tired.”
“Well, I will come up with you.”
Immanuel crossed his arms. “I can get up the stairs by myself. I’m not feeble anymore.”
“I think you misunderstood me.” Adam slowly raised his gaze to Immanuel’s, locking eyes as he held his arms. “I want to come up.”
Immanuel’s mouth formed a soundless O, and before he could think about what Adam said, they were checking the locks on the doors and covering the windows. Darting up the stairs, Immanuel slipped off his jacket and tie and tossed them into his undisturbed bedroom as he passed. He waited at the threshold of Adam’s door, watching his companion carefully close the curtains to ensure no one could see inside. It had become a nightly ritual that Adam had started months before Immanuel moved in to help avoid suspicion from their neighbors. When the room was dark, Adam took his hand and led him to the bed where he snaked his hand under Immanuel’s shirt and ran along the flesh of his back. Even after a week together, Immanuel still hesitated, expecting someone to be just beyond the door. It seemed too good to be true to have such freedom.
“Mr. Winter,” Adam whispered into Immanuel’s skin as he planted a trail of hot, moist kisses down his neck, “I have been waiting for this all day.”
But why? He resisted the urge to ask a question that would only elicit a strange look from Adam and an equally awkward reply.
Before Immanuel could stop him, Adam’s fingers were flying over the buttons of his waistcoat and shirt. He resisted the urge to stiffen and cover his deformed chest with his arms, and instead he copied Adam. Beneath his bright dandy’s clothes, Immanuel was as solid and strong as Immanuel felt frail, all ribs and scars. Adam pushed Immanuel against the bedpost, catching his mouth. His pencil mustache scratched Immanuel’s lip as the redhead’s tongue plunged and grazed against his. The breath caught in Immanuel’s throat. Closing his eyes, he let his companion explore his mouth and his ever-changing body. Adam’s hands worked along his sides before sliding over the firm flesh of his buttock, eliciting a soft groan from his companion. Heat crept up Immanuel’s form, tensing every muscle in his abdomen and sending his heart out of rhythm. Immanuel blindingly undid the buckle of Adam’s belt and felt the slide of his fine wool trousers slipping down his legs. Reaching for his own, Immanuel kicked them off and pulled Adam toward the mattress.
The bed sighed under their weight as Adam climbed atop of him. His eyes drank in Immanuel’s form while his hands rested on his ribs. Adam caressed the dents where his ribs hadn’t properly knit together. Immanuel swallowed hard at the thought of being prone and unable to stop Adam’s mental dissection. He hoped it was too dark for Adam to see him, but his mind was silenced by a shiver rippling from his scalp to his curling toes. Immanuel raised his eyes to meet Adam’s gaze. A wordless conversation passed between them, and Adam’s lips curled into a knowing grin. Immanuel stiffened, his hips twitching, as Adam nipped at his collarbones and ran his tongue along his sternum and down the scant trail of hair leading to his flannel drawers. His fingers laced into Adam’s henna hair as a gasp escaped his lips at the rush of air and the goosebumps rising on the tops of his thighs as his drawers were pulled away.
“I want to make you feel better,” Adam murmured, his breath hot against his stomach.
Immanuel closed his eyes, fisting the sheets as Adam drew him in. He needed him, he needed this. He needed to be reminded that even after all that happened, there was still love in the world. More than anything, he needed Adam to make him forget.


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Book Review: Corpus

corpus

Title: Corpus by K. M. Claude

Genre: Gothic fantasy/Graphic novel

Rating: 4 stars

TL;DR: Corpus is a short comic loaded with deliciously dark and sensuous imagery that explores one of the most memorable characters from Ninety Nine Righteous Men.


It’s really hard to review a short episodic comic that acts as a companion to a larger work, so this will probably be a fairly short review (also because I don’t want to spoil Ninety Nine Righteous Men)

Corpus tells the story of Caleb, the young man in Ninety Nine Righteous Men who becomes possessed by a demon in exchange for the love of a certain priest. In this companion comic, we become more acquainted with the demon who lives in Caleb’s skin and how he ended up turning to darker forces.

The art style is absolutely gorgeous. As with Claude’s previous work, every panel is rich with detail. While the Catholic imagery isn’t as strong in Corpus as it was in Ninety Nine Righteous Men, the contrast is just as apparent between the sensuous demon and his naive victim. Throughout the story, there are details that pay homage to Eastern art. The styling of the demon reminded me greatly of Japanese horror and erotic scenes from 17th and 18th century paintings. This can be seen in the repetitive organic patterns surrounding erotic moments and even with the shape of the demons features, which reminded me greatly of the facial features seen in Edo Period figures.

What took a star off for Corpus is that I wanted more. Claude teases the reader with a little background info on the demon’s previous incarnation as a boy in the sultan’s harem but goes no further, which is maddening because it feels like that boy’s life could have been like Caleb’s and I think it could have made an interesting story. Besides that, I would have maybe like to have seen a little more of Caleb’s backstory. Just a little bit because even after Corpus, it still feels like a lot has gone unsaid.

Overall, Corpus is a fantastic addition to the story of Ninety Nine Righteous Men with imagery as rich and luscious as the origin story, and I look forward to reading more by K. M. Claude in the future.

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Who Am I & Why Do I Do This?

I think as writers and bloggers, we assume that everyone knows who we are or that they somehow found their way to the About page or that original post we made when we started our blog that stated who we were and why we bothered making a blog. I’ve had this blog for over a year now, so I thought it would be prudent to reintroduce myself, especially since I think this year has been one of growth and change for me.

Who am I?

My name is Kara Jorgensen, and I am a [nearly] twenty-four year old writer from New Jersey. No, we do not have accents like those people on The Jersey Shore. Currently, I am working toward an MFA in Creative and Professional Writing and only have a year left before I complete my degree. Of the 16 major personality types, I am an INTJ-A, which means that I am the “architect” type. Shockingly, this says a lot about me. I demand perfection of myself and others and strive to meet my goals through whatever means necessary. For years, I have asked a lot of myself in terms of school and grades, and that has now shifted to my writing.

My ultimate goal is to one day be a full-time writer or nearly full-time writer as I would also like to become an English professor. Sometimes in my pursuit of my goals, I take myself too seriously and occasionally burn out for a time, usually after accomplishing that goal. What recharges my batteries are: my border collie mixes, Edgar and Finny, my boyfriend, trips to bookstores or museums, and of course, writing and reading.

Currently, I have two books out, The Earl of Brass and The Winter Garden, which are both part of a steampunk-ish series. I say steampunk-ish because my books fall more into historical fiction than fantasy or scifi. It’s probably an 80-20 split between historical and fantasy. If you like Victorian literature or period dramas, you may like my writing, but if you’re looking for space battles or goggles on saloon girls wielding Gatling guns, you’re not going to find it here. Right now, I am working on the third book in my steampunk series, The Earl and the Artificer, as well as a companion short story that will go between books two and three. In the coming year, I’m hoping to work on the fourth book in the series and possibly branch out to a more heavily fantasy series (the aesthetic is old leather-bound books, humanoid creatures of mythology like something out of Pan’s Labyrinth, and old houses).

Why do I do this?

I ask myself this a lot. From as far back as I can remember, I have always loved to write stories. I drew little picture books where cats and dogs went on adventures and when I wasn’t writing them down, my Barbies were embroiled in soap opera-like drama. Writing is like a compulsion for me. I have characters and stories chattering in my head, knocking at my brain for me to write out their scenes.

One of the things I noticed as I grew up was that there weren’t often characters I immediately connected with. As a middle class, white girl from the suburbs, it seems odd that there wasn’t a female character that struck a cord with me. The girls were almost always stereotypical girls (pink, fashion, boy problems) and apart from Hermione, I was dissatisfied with what I found. It made me wonder how people who are minorities or varying sexualities and genders felt when they couldn’t find themselves in characters, so I have decided to dedicate part of my writing career to exploring diverse characters, especially ones of diverse sexuality and gender.

This blog is dedicated to the mid-writing rambles of an up-and-coming author. One day it may be a progress report, the next day it may be me railing against the man or a blurb about sexuality or gender in the Victorian era. No matter the subject, it will be a behind the scenes look at my life as a writer and twenty-four year old.

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June in Review

Starting in January, I decided it would be a good idea to look back at each month and see what I have accomplished in my writing and marketing as well as reflect upon what needs to be improved in the future.

Sometimes it’s hard to be upbeat when you feel that you haven’t quite met your goals from the previous month. I don’t think I did as much writing of The Earl and the Artificer (Ingenious Mechanical Devices #3), but I’m okay with that because I did a lot more writing and tinkering with my short story “An Oxford Holiday,” which I am enjoying immensely. Now to get down to business:

What I did accomplish:

  1. Wrote and edited two chapters of The Earl and the Artificer (IMD #3)
  2. Wrote the majority of my companion short story “An Oxford Holiday”
  3. Finished reading Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (if you have seen the thickness of this book, you’ll know why it’s an accomplishment)
  4. Got out of the house more
  5. Wrote or edited more days than I didn’t
  6. Uploaded The Earl of Brass and The Winter Garden on iBooks, Nook, Kobo, Oyster, and other ebook platforms

Goals for July:

  1. Finish “An Oxford Holiday” and ready it for publication
  2. Plan and write more of The Earl and the Artificer
  3. Blog more
  4. Read 2-3 books
  5. Stop making goals by the number (apart from reading goals)
  6. Strive to write instead of striving for perfection

One of the things I have learned this month is that setting numerical goals drives me crazy. I had writers block for a good chunk of the month, and the longer it lasted, the more I focused on my previous goal of writing four chapters of my novel. Of course, the more I focused, the more I froze. To loosen up and break the block, I decided to work on a short story that was knocking on my brain and would come between books two and three. As soon as I began working on it, the words flew onto the page, and I was writing double what I wrote on my most productive day earlier in June. Immediately I began to wonder why “An Oxford Holiday” was taking shape so much faster than The Earl and the Artificer. Some obvious answers are length and complexity– since it’s a short story, both are a lot simpler than a novel. Was it the characters? While I love working with Adam and Immanuel, it shouldn’t make the story that much easier to write. The big difference between working on my for-fun short story and my novel was fun. Ever since I sent in my thesis proposal, I have been so hard on myself about The Earl and the Artificer, and it is sucking the fun out of the writing process. I’m constantly catching myself over-thinking scenes or freezing up because I’m worrying that it isn’t perfect. This is why my fifth and sixth goal are there. I need to stop over-thinking and making numerical goals because it’s apparent that I get fixated on them. After bouncing back and forth between my short story and the EatA without any pressure, I suddenly banged out a chapter in like two days.

The upside of June was that I had a great time and actually got out of the house. On the 20th, my boyfriend and I celebrated our tenth anniversary. We went down to a lovely waterfront town not far from our house, pigged out on pub food, French desserts, and sea air. It was wonderful. The same week my mom and I had a girl’s day, so I enjoyed spending an entire day with my mom and also made an impromptu stop at the bookstore. For once I actually spent time out of the house, and it seemed to revive my mood, especially after an incredibly stagnant first half of the month. Because of this slump, I may have bought a few too many books. Can you really have too many books? And I didn’t drain my bank account, so all is well.

book pile juneI am so looking forward to finishing “An Oxford Holiday” in the coming weeks. It’s a short story that falls between books two and three, which I will be offering for free on all ebook platforms when it’s finished. The basic idea of the story is that Adam goes to visit Immanuel in Oxford as promised, but they soon realize that finding a place to spend time and speak freely is easier said than done. A bit of information will also be revealed regarding Immanuel’s life at Oxford and what his future with Adam holds. It’s just a little tidbit to hold my readers over between books, but I am greatly enjoying writing it. Hopefully you will enjoy it too.

One of the best things to happen this month is of course the supreme court ruling that gay marriage is legal in all fifty states. Living in New Jersey, I have taken it for granted, but I am so excited my southern or mid-western friends who thought having marriage equality in their state would be a pipe dream. As a supporter of gay rights, it made my day. The funny thing is, I bought this shirt in May and it finally arrived in mid-June. It says “I support LGBT lit” on the front and “Because everyone deserves to see themselves in fiction” on the back.

lgbt shirtMy hope for July is that I can finally put aside my perfectionist tendencies and be consistently productive or at least more productive than I have been. I think having a few chapters go smoothly will boost my confidence and hopefully produce more success in the future.

What are your goals for July?


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The Elusive Bi Character

In preparation for a fantasy novel I am planning to write in the near future, I decided to look up bisexual characters because my main character (actually two of my main characters) are bisexual. This proved to be easier said than done.

What I found was not exactly what I was looking for. I wanted to find books with bisexual characters, or more importantly, characters who happened to be bisexual. In the media, bisexual characters are often treated as merely plot devices. Oh, is the drama ebbing? Let’s toss in a bisexual character who will come into the protagonist’s life and either steal their boy/girlfriend or to form a love-triangle. This has added to the prejudice society has against bisexuals and leads people to falsely believe that bisexuals cannot be monogamous, will cheat on their partner, or wants a threesome. Just because a person likes two genders does not mean they want both at the same time. I came across a lot of books that sadly used these tropes.

I then decided to go onto Goodreads and explore their Listopia section for books with bisexual characters. This lead to numerous lists of LGBT characters, which I was not willing to pick through. My attention span does not last long enough for me to investigate two hundred different books, but I did find a few lists that could be of use to my research. As I scrolled through, of course a number (probably the majority) were straight up romance novels, which I skipped past. It wasn’t surprising since it makes sense that a writer would focus on the character’s sexuality, but the amount of stories that I found with a character who just happened to be bisexual was a bit disappointing. Because my future project will be a fantasy story, I wanted to find some books in the same genre. Luckily, I came across Pantomime by Laura Lam on an LGBT blog’s list and am hoping to read it in the near future.

As I was doing my research, I began to think about my characters and some of the problems a writer may come across while writing a bisexual character. Because society tends to think in terms of gay or straight, sometimes it’s hard to solidify that a character does indeed like both men and women. How many relationships need to be mentioned to get that across? Do I need to show these relationships or can my character just say she is bisexual? Then, I was wondering if she will be judged by her latest relationship. She previously had a girlfriend, but now she is falling for a man. Will she be straight-washed by readers? Will they assume she is suddenly straight? The answer is, probably. If she was dating a woman most recently, would they say she was gay or would they say she was experimenting? On some level, I don’t think there is a correct answer. No matter what order I portray her relationships, she will probably be only identified by her last relationship. My male character will also face the same difficulties. Male bisexuals tend to be immediately deemed gay or assumed to be a gay man who cannot accept himself and therefore still has relationships with women.

When writing characters, I don’t go into it thinking they will be x or y, but as I get to know them, I learn more about their past histories and often their past relationships. As I have gotten further into figuring out these two characters, I realized both had had relationships with their own sex and the opposite sex. They pose an interesting challenge in terms of the way the public may potentially view them and how I can work around these issues or if I should pay them any heed at all and just write what I feel is right for them. More than likely, I will do the latter.

If you know of any books with bisexual characters, please send them my way.

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The Winter Garden has Launched!

wg proof 1kindle wgThe Winter Garden, book two in the Ingenious Mechanical Devices series, has officially launched in ebook or paperback, which can be purchased here.  The ebook is still 99 cents for a limited time.

Okay, now that the shameless self-promotion is out of the way, I want to thank everyone who pre-ordered a copy or will buy one in the future. Writers are nothing without readers, and I have been made to feel loved by my readers and appreciate everyone and anyone who has ever asked when the next book was coming out or how they could help me promote my work or left a review. Continue reading

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Why I Write LGBT Characters

lgbt flag

Because we still refer to them as LGBT characters.

They’re still a novelty.  We get all excited (or angered, depending on your political/religious stance) when a character in a TV show turns out to be gay or bisexual.  Let’s say, being attracted to the same gender is a recessive trait (yes, I do believe it is genetic), then statistically, gay or bisexual people should make up about a quarter of the population, yet in the media, they make up only between 1-5% of the characters in shows and movies.  On top of that, in certain aspects of the media, they are wholly absent.  Do you see the disparity between population and representation? Continue reading

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A Woman of Principle

On my blogs and page, I try as a rule not to get too political on my author page or blog, but a recent event has refused to leave my mind, leaving me to purge it through writing.

One of the authors I know from the writing groups I am a part of on Facebook sent me a link to a blog tour service that was hosting a tour for a steampunk novel and was looking for blogs that would be willing to do the advertising posts.  Obviously, I want to support and network with other steampunk writers, so I checked it out.  The book looked okay.  I’m not a fan of advertising something I haven’t actually read, but at that point, I was willing to give the author a chance based on the blurb.  The only thing was, I couldn’t figure out how to sign up for the tour, so I went onto the their contact and information page.  As I scrolled, I came across the thing that completely soured my feelings toward that book blog tour host, No M/M, F/F, or M/F/M.

For those who are unfamiliar with the terminology, that basically means no stories involving same sex or bisexual protagonists or love interests.  I couldn’t do it.  I couldn’t bring myself to sign up for the tour and quickly clicked off the web page.  From the time I understood what being gay meant, I have been a strong supporter of LGBT rights and marriage.  Many of my friends are gay, and two of my characters in The Winter Garden comprise a gay couple who is dealing with their relationship in a world that does not approve of them.  How could I, a supporter of the LGBT community, work with a company that outright excludes them?  I couldn’t.

When we exclude certain types of fiction, what are we saying to those who choose to write about their experiences or the experiences of others?  Your story isn’t worth telling. I don’t want to hear it. No one wants to read it if it’s about that. In this day and age, diverse books are a necessity.  By writing and reading about characters who are a different ethnicity, sexuality, or religion as yourself, you are learning empathy and stepping into their shoes as you go from cover to cover.  When you say no gay or bisexual protagonists, you are telling every bisexual or gay reader or writer that comes across that site that they are unacceptable.  The anti-gay sentiment from many book blogs and reviewers follows in the vein of the prejudicial sentiments of the 1960s. Diversity in characters and novels is a necessity, and having open-minded reviewers and book programs will only further that goal.  I hope you will not ignore books solely on the sexuality or ethnicity or a characters within.  I will not state the name of the blog tour and take away their livelihood or slander them, but I will boycott them.  I will not participate in anything that excludes those who are in need of support.

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Why Steampunk?

gear99

Before I go on about my preferred genre, I should probably explain what steampunk is since most people stop me after I have already begun to speak about it to ask what exactly I mean. Simply put, steampunk is a marriage between historical fiction and science fiction. It’s the Victorian Era that never was, and instead of moving toward combustion engines, steampunk stories tend to explore how the world would be if steam technology became the predominant mode of transportation and energy generation in the nineteenth century. Most stories are set in the mid to late 1800s, but that isn’t always necessarily the case with some stories being set in a neo-Victorian future.

There are three reasons I write steampunk stories (each of these reasons will be explored further in this post):
1. Playing with the past
2. Exploring modern social issues out of context
3. Victorian aesthetics

Playing with the Past
Some of the most fun I have writing is utilizing real people and places within my work. Several historical figures make an appearance in The Earl of Brass or The Winter Garden, including Lord Carnarvon, David Hogarth, Queen Victoria, Prince Albert (as a corpse), and in the future, I can see many other real people making cameos. More importantly, places are key to creating a richness in a story that delves into the past. A good chunk of my research is scouring Victorian maps and texts for places my characters can go and how they looked in the 1890s. The research can be fascinating and lead to more plots or simply a nice place for your characters to go to for a night on the town. Creating a realistic landscape even with the changes I have set up in my universe has been something I have worked on throughout my writing career, and about halfway through the second book, I realized how their world would really be.
To wrap up this section on playing with the past, I have to mention technology. Most people tend to think of carriages, coal, factories, and horse poop when thinking of Victorian technology, and while that isn’t far off, science and medicine were just about to take off. The Victorian Era is a launching point from which many of the things we have today began. Medicine is a topic I work with quite often, and part of the reason is because the Victorian era was half in the superstitious past and half in the modern world. In The Earl of Brass, the main character, Eilian Sorrell, has a prosthetic arm that can flex when he commands it to. Obviously there were prostheses, but they were not nearly as advanced. In the world of steampunk, I can sprinkle in modern ideas but only use materials that were available in the Victorian Era (no stainless steel, no biotechnology, no aspirin).

Exploring Modern social Issues out of Context

Another way to bring mingle the past with the present is to focus on issues that are prevalent today but set the story in the past. Some of the issues I have explored are: climate issues, humanism v. capitalism, LGBT rights, and equality. some of these issues were present in the 1890s, especially LGBT issues with the Oscar Wilde trial and the brief movement in Germany around the same time. Part of the reason I like to do this is because it allows the reader to see what they might not notice in the modern world they take for granted. Working these issues into the Victorian Era breaks the common misconceptions, and by approaching it through a creative rather than preachy or academic way, people are more likely to listen. My hope is that my LGBT characters will capture the reader’s hearts and that you will feel for them because they are humans who hurt and are victims of the world’s prejudices by no fault of their own. As a writer, integrating modern issues into the past helps me deepen my understanding of the issue by having to research it, get into the characters’ heads, and make sure the theme is coherently coming through. By having a purpose, you make a judgment of that issue and take on both sides by creating conflict between opposing characters or between characters and society.

Victorian aesthetics
This reason is a lot more vain and visual. I love the pictorial representations of the Victorian Era. The tug and pull of artisan lace and fabric with the utilitarian mass-marketed goods of the working class always thrills me. When I think of the Victorian Era, I always think of fog rolling in off the Thames as a woman in a bustle and corset walks between gas lamps. There is something sinister yet romantic about the era. The Victorians were a pretty morbid bunch with their postmortem photography and momento mori usually made of human hair. When you contrast any “wild” place with London, the grime of the era becomes so apparent, but the civility and rigid manners still outshine any detractors of the era. Then comes the next question, what lies beneath the starched shirts and laced corsets? To understand the Victorian person, one must understand the culture and why there was a need for structure and decorum, yet it is imperative to remember that they were humans just like us. No matter where they lived or what they wore, they had the same desires as we do now, and the universal humanity in all of us, ties the modern steampunk writer to the likes of Oscar Wilde or Dickens.

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