Saturday, October 11, 2014

Blow Up Your Closet

I like men. That's been public knowledge since late 2006. I got comfortable enough to freely discuss it about a year later.

Back then, it bothered me. Not that I never notice the little (and of course the big) social and legal issues, but I can honestly say that, at least for me, it changed. I can't say that it got better. Me coming out didn't change anything outside. But I got better. Coming out and being honest with the world around me made me more comfortable being me.

I was in high school. I had a lot of things working against me. I was never the best looking or the fittest or the best at the whole social interaction thing. Pile 'likes boys' on top of that and you don't exactly get a kinder world. Yeah, I did have problems. But I had fewer problems looking myself in the mirror. I knew, when I stared into my own eyes, that I could really see myself. Finally, I could look and know me. Know Voss.

2005 was when I first dared to breathe the words to another soul. That was a different kind of coming out. That was a testing ground, and I was lucky enough that it went well. He ended up being my first boyfriend.

You may not be that lucky. You might get hit or shunned or yelled at. Or you could be luckier than me. You could find the absolute love of your life. You could remember it as the best singular moment in your existence.

February of 2014, I came out as genderqueer. And again, I found myself more comfortable. Little things that bothered me, like getting mistaken for a woman or being grouped in with the 'ladies' when hanging out with my female friends, didn't bother me so much.

But more than anything, that experience proved something to me: it's not a singular experience. It's a parade. Little moments, little events, little steps toward fully accepting yourself. Your sexuality, your gender, everything.

Coming out of the closet can be one of the most daunting things members of the QUILTBAG+ community will ever have to do. Hell, it'll pretty much definitely make the top ten list for just about anyone. And that sucks. It sucks that we have to come out. It sucks that there even is a closet, because it's a closet that we didn't build. I certainly didn't. Ever since I came out, I've been working to tear that damn closet down.

And thank God, we're getting close. We have thirty states now with legal same-sex marriage. The majority of the US population is in support of same-sex marriage. We're making progress. When I try to think about the changes we've been through, try to see it through the eyes of someone from the forties or fifties, when this thing wasn't talked about, wasn't acknowledged... well, I can't. There's not way in hell I can even begin to fathom the way the world must look now. But I know that whatever little bit of that truth I can touch upon brings tears to my eyes. Finally, they can begin to be who they are, undo some of that damage they incurred from the closet society built them into.

If you're in the closet, know that there are people on the other side of that door. There's a whole community waiting to take you in. People who have been through it before. If you don't think you can, you'r wrong. You're dead wrong. You're stronger than you could ever imagine. I know that just because you're in the closet to begin with. You're bearing that weight, and that by itself has made you nigh-indestructible. You can do this.

If you think you can't because there aren't a set of arms there to embrace you, you're wrong. There's someone there. There's me. I'll be there no matter what. Contact me here. Twitter me. Facebook. Smoke signal. Don't think you'll fall. You probably don't know me. I don't care. Talk to me if you have no one else. Or call a hotline. But don't let anything stop you.

Blow up your closet.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Friday Writer Roundup: 20,000 Names



Yikes. I've been so caught up in drafting, I've completely neglected the last few Friday Writer Roundups. My apologies. This book has stolen my attention quite effectively.

But I'm here today, however late, with one of my favorite resources: 20,000 Names.

When it comes to naming websites, it's not the most glamorous, but it's by far my favorite. It gives the ethnic origin, the meaning, and the traditional gender of all the names it lists. And, while I can't say for certain that they actually list 20,000 individual names on their website, it wouldn't surprise me if that number was at least close.

But there's another one I find almost as useful: the Social Security Administration's Baby Names Section. It only really helps with American names, for obvious reasons, but it has lists of the top hundred or so names for boys and girls in any decade from the 1880s to the 2000s. Which makes it awesome for NPC characters. Just give a guess to their age, subtract it from the date your work is set, and then go through that decade's listing until something catches your attention.

Of course, there are always other alternatives. SeventhSanctum has several name generators in its depths, including Angel Names, Vampire Names, and plain General Names. Another one that can be useful, and also make a very good breeding ground for procrastination, is Behind the Name's generator. You can customize your generator for several factors (origin, masculine/feminine, style), and have it provide you with a matching surname, or provide your own. The downside? It does one at a time only.

So, I hope you have a lovely rest of your Friday. And don't forget, there's still time to enter the drawing for free copies of Zirkua Fantastic and The Jester Prince.


Voss

Thursday, October 2, 2014

King Jester Giveaway

Hello, all!

Today is my birthday, and this month is also the anniversary of the release of Zirkua Fantastic.

So, in honor of that, I want to give you the chance to win copies of the two King Jester books currently available, Zirkua Fantastic and The Jester Prince.


Just enter the Rafflecopter below and, when it's done, who knows? Maybe you'll be the lucky lucky winner.


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Monday, September 29, 2014

National Coffee Day: 5 Coffee Factoids about Voss Foster

It's today you know.

There are a handful of literary holidays, observances, and celebrations out there. Banned Books Week. NaNoWriMo. Edgar Allan Poe's birthday (January 19th). Edgar Allan Poe's deathday (October 7th).

But, to many a writer, there is no more important day than National Coffee Day. September 29th. Free coffee at some of the big chains (Dunkin' Donuts and Starbucks), and some of the smaller local shops (Unfortunately none of them in my town, but life does go on... theoretically.).

So, in celebration of this most glorious day, and as an occasional worshiper at the Church of the Immaculate Roast (Praise be to the grower, and to the roaster, and to the French press.), I want to share my coffee preferences with y'all. Just a few.

1: I may be a Washington native, but Starbucks is not my first choice for coffee. At all. I prefer The Hardback Cafe. If you haven't been, give it a try.

2: If you ever have to make me a cup of coffee (for whatever reason), it's three sugars and four creams.

3: My favorite coffee mug, a gift from Andy Jensen over at Pigs and Mirrors (sorry about the image quality):



4: When I'm at home, I like my coffee simple. Not that I have an issue with fancy coffee... but my wallet does. I go straight for the Folger's Black Silk, and that runs through my $8 Wal~Mart coffee maker.

5: I once drank so much coffee I got actual, factual caffeine poisoning.

How about you? Any coffee stories to share? Favorite way to have it? Thoughts on flavored coffee? Latte? Espresso? I can talk about this subject for days.

And don't forget to subscribe!

Voss

Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday Writer Roundup: Tomato.es



Last year during NaNoWriMo, my Co-ML came up with an ingenious method to make our Nanites work their tails off. She started us off sprinting. Short bursts of writing (10-20 minutes) intermixed with 5-10 minute breaks. It was a way to show the Nanites who were 'too busy' that they only needed to devote an hour or two a day, whenever they could get it in. Fifteen minutes here, ten minutes there. Turns out, of course, that it wasn't an original idea, but she hadn't heard of it when she came up with it, so it was a totally awesome little brain-baby.



Well, I found something just as good, and it has it's own website. Today, I bring you the Pomodoro Technique, and a free supporting website, Tomato.es. The basis of Pomodoro is to increase productivity with the same basic principles that make sprinting work: concentrated periods of work, interspersed with regular breaks.

You work for twenty-five minutes, then mark off that twenty-five minute work session and move on to a five minute break. After four sets of twenty-five, you take a fifteen minute break. And it's that simple. It sounds a little strange, but it really works. Not only do you write words, but you condition yourself to write a lot of words in a short amount of time. I mean, you only have twenty-five minutes to work right now. You can't rely on more. So you'd better bang out some words. When you then don't use the Pomodoro Technique, you'll find that you're writing words faster in general, hence increasing overall productivity.

It's that simple. And the Internet is full of so many ways to work it. There are even apps you can download to help you, such as Pomodroido, Pomodoro Timer, and the desktop compatible, and very unobtrusive Tomighty. Or , of course, you can do it the simple and cheap way and just watch the clock, or use one of the thousand online timers out there. But if you, like me, would rather cut back on your workload as much as possible, and you have access to the Internet, you'll be best off with Tomato.es.


Voss

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Big Reveal

I think it's time for this. It's been a long time coming, but I think it's really, truly time to make the final announcement.

See, I live a double life. The one you've seen, Voss Foster's life, is the one that most people see. It's basically accurate, minus a few personal details I would simply rather not share. But everyone has those.

However, there's a whole separate life that I've been... not hiding, but certainly not making clearly public information.

I am Raven de Hart, author of gay erotica and erotic romance. Since the inclusion of her as a pen name, I have kept it mostly on the down low. My writer and reader friends know, for the most part, but that's about where it ends.

Until today. I made a statement about it on the Torquere Twitter account this morning, and just put up a corroborating statement on my Twitter account. So it's out in the open. I am a singular person, yes. But I have two brands, for lack of a better term. This way, no one accidentally picks up a steamy erotic book, not expecting it from Voss Foster. And it works in reverse--they know that, if it says Raven de Hart on the cover, it's not going to be PG.

So there it is: the secret is out in the open. I feel liberated: no more hiding anything, now. I am free. We are free?

There's freedom, at any rate.

Voss

Monday, August 25, 2014

Announcing Dark Dancer, a Steampunk Fantasy Novel

Today, I'm thrilled to host Jaleta Clegg. She's got a book that I've been very excited about for a long time: Dark Dancer.



What do you get when you mash together steampunk airships and metal men, Shakespeare's fairy world, legends of the fae, monsters, a prophecy, pirates, evil wizards, a young woman with stolen memories, and crystals full of power? You get Dark Dancer. This is how I do fantasy.

The idea for the series came from several places. I found a cool piece of art on DeviantArt (http://anacorreal.deviantart.com/art/Release-80921725) that sparked the idea of a woman with the power to open gates between worlds. I read a series by Frances Pauli where the passages between our world and the fairy world are re-opened (Changeling Race - http://www.amazon.com/Moth-Darkness-Changeling-Race-Book-ebook/dp/B005GRBYNE/) that fired my imagination about elves and magic and their world crossing with ours. I watched too many anime episodes with airships and cool steampunk tech. I've always been in love with Errol Flynn's version of pirates. Out of this tangle came the story for Dark Dancer.

Sabrina has magic that can open the portals to the fairy world. But with that power comes great danger. Her mother tries to keep her hidden and her power a secret, even from her. Sabrina's ties to the other world are too strong. Ruthless Seligh Lords, hungry for power, will stop at nothing to gain control of Sabrina and her gift. And magic will find a way to express itself, even if it destroys the one holding it.

I'm excited to release this book. It's my first fantasy novel and it's a stand-alone story, not part of a series. I have eleven other novels out, all part of a science fiction adventure series. I've published several dozen short stories ranging from science fiction to silly horror to fantasy, so I'm no stranger to the genre. Writing about magic really isn't that much different than writing about technology, though. And for me, it's all about the characters and story. Everything else is window-dressing to make it all more exciting.

Dark Dancer has lots of great characters. I had way too much fun dreaming them up. From elves with pointed ears, slanted eyes, and a penchant for arrogance, to ferocious pixie warriors, to renegade pirates, to evil sorcerers hungry for power, to talking birds, the book has a rich cast. The star of the book is a bewildered young woman trying to figure out who she is and how her past ties her to the world of the Seligh.

With magic, mayhem, monsters, and just a touch of romance, Dark Dancer is the type of book I love to read. I hope you enjoy it, too.

You can find a complete list of all my work at http://www.jaletac.com

Available in ebook and print.
Smashwords (all ebook formats) - https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/465920
Kindle - http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Dancer-Jaleta-Clegg-ebook/dp/B00MRANX5A

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