Gender Roles and Stuff

shelfieI’ve been ill, the past few days, and not doing as much work as usual because of it. Instead, I’ve been thinking a lot (and sleeping a lot. Not to mention putting together Ikea furniture – see photo).

So, here’s what I’m thinking: traditional gender roles are kind of dumb. (I know, revolutionary, right?)

I wrote this poem, a few years back, entitled ‘Woman I Am’, and it’s all about how women are defined by society, and asks the question: what do you do when you don’t meet that definition? What does that make you? How else are you defined? All that stuff – I’m sure you get the idea.

The point is, I’m now several years older, and still tackling the same question. I don’t consider myself particularly feminine, but does that make me any less female?

It may sound dumb, but I’m actually finding it surprisingly freeing to just think of myself not in terms of male or female, but just in terms of me. Yeah, still not a revolutionary concept, but I think I’m accepting myself – whoever or whatever that turns out to be – more, and I think that is quite life changing, if only for myself (and, really, that’s all I’ve been after. Figuring things out for myself, and myself alone).

Beyond myself, I don’t how to define myself beyond ticking the boxes that I’ve always ticked. There’s a lot of paperwork involved in life, and I think the people creating it all think asking you to assign yourself a label from a choice of two is a simple thing.

I keep coming back around to the fact that life is not simple. The longer you life, the more complicated it gets.

Here’s the final thing I’m wondering: submission forms that are open to diversity – how do you announce your diverse qualities without it being weird? I mean, I come across a lot of submission guidelines in my line of work. And I’m seeing a lot of ones with notes at the bottom, saying they particularly welcome people from diverse backgrounds. Which is great, of course. But, like, how do you let them know that bit applies to you? Dear Editor, I’m a lesbian, here’s a poem… Do you try and make it obvious from your line of bio.? I seriously would like to know. Curiosity (and the sneezles) is killing me.

I’m rambling. I know that. But this is my head right now, and I wanted to share that.

People Worth Promoting: Anna Sheehan

anna sheehanThe good people of Tumblr have declared today – August 21st – Fan Fiction Writers Appreciation Day, making this the perfect opportunity for me to put up part two of my People Worth Promoting series.

I want to talk to you about Anna Sheehan, a wonderful author (not to mention a wonderful person in general, and a great friend), who I met through writing fan fiction.

Anna has written a metric-shit-ton (actual measurement) of beautiful, twisted, character-driven words set in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer universe. Not only that, but she’s had three of her own original novels published, too. I’ve read the first one (A Long, Long Sleep – loved it!), and am about to start the most recent (Spinning Thorns – can’t wait!).

She’s so talented, and I can’t recommend her highly enough. So, if you love Buffy fanfiction, check out her stories here. And if you love Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy, check out her novels here. I can’t wait to see what she writes next!

Book Giveaways!

Four Season Summer - Free Today!

Four Season Summer, the first half of my ‘novelette in two parts’, is free on Kindle today – Saturday 13th August. Meanwhile, part two – Season’s End – is available for only 99 cents (99p in the UK).

But that’s not all! Starting Monday, I’m running a Goodreads Giveaway. So, between 15th and 22nd, there’s a chance for three lucky people to win a signed paperback copy of The Love Poems.

Into the Dark (Flash fiction)

At writers’ group last night, we set ourselves a challenge to write a story that included three prompts: a telephone, a black overcoat, and a Post Office. Here’s what I came up with:

Jack stumbled in through the door of the Post Office, tripping over the welcome mat on his way.

“Honey, I’m home!” he declared, sounding cheerful at first, but finding himself unable to stifle the catch in his throat over the word ‘home.’

It was an old Post Office from the 1940’s, no longer open the public. The place his grandfather had worked in all his life, and now the place where Jack lived. The ‘open’ sign still hung in the window, though it had faded beyond all recognition.

Staggering past precariously high stacks of books, Jack made his way to the small working kitchen in the back. The door fell off the fridge when he opened it, making the glass milk bottle in the door shatter, and two-week-old milk flood to the floor in clumps.

Two weeks. Was that really how long it had been? God! Jack sank to his knees, his head bending to the floor as sorrow weighed him down, before snapping up again as the smell of the milk clogged his sinuses. It sobered him, a little.

In the other room, behind the old customer counter, the phone rang, and Jack got to his feet once more. He took his time crossing the distance – pausing to wrestle his overcoat off his shoulders – having no doubt who would be calling him.

There were only two people in the world that called Jack, and one of them was gone, never to call him again. A fresh stab of grief jabbed at his breast, threatening to knock him down once more, but Jack fought it, managing to stay upright. Just.

Finally in the back office, he lifted the receiver and slurred a ‘hello.’

“Hello,” returned the voice on the other end of the line. The voice that could not be. That could never be again.

“Bernie?” Jack whispered, not daring to believe his ears.

“Yes, Jack, it’s me,” said the voice.

“Bernie!” Jack repeated, this time an exclamation. His face became animated, eyes focusing for the first time in a fortnight, before he paused. “But how?”

“Never mind that,” said Bernie, “It’s time.”

Jack smiled, making the corners of his eyes go up along with the curve of his mouth and releasing tears down his cheeks and onto his dried lips.

Slumping to the floor as he held the receiver to his chest, he recited Bernie’s name over again, reverently as his eyes closed.

“Bernie. My Bernie. You came back.”

Wonderful Women Poets

Women Aloud NII’m pleased (not to mention extremely relieved) to tell you that the very first Women Aloud/FSNI poetry recital (as coordinated by yours truly) was a success. It was a really lovely night, coming together with fellow ladies of literature to share and enjoy our craft.

The first video is online now, and there are some more photos over on my official Facebook page.

If you’re local to Belfast, please come along to the part two on September 1st – more details here.

Writing Review – July 2016

Camp NaNoWriMo is over for another year and, honestly? I’m a little sad about that. The writing event is usually a bit hit and miss with me – sometimes with me achieving more than I planned, and sometimes coming nowhere near my goal – but this time around I stayed about the middle, getting further than I did in July and being happy with all the resulting words, but still not finishing. Given how my health has been the last two weeks, though, I’m satisfied with that.

But Ellie, I hear no one ask, how many words did you actually write?

  • 10,500 words towards my novel draft
  • 10 Blog Posts (totaling 2,000 words)
  • 3 pieces of Fan Fiction (2,500)
  • 1 Short Story (4,800)
  • 2 Poems (200)

Goal for August? 15,000 words total – across all projects.

To read about what work I completed for clients this month, click here.