Category: Miscellaneous

Livetweeting SeraMyu Infinity Academy – Mistress Labyrinth (Revision)

Posted August 20, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments



Usagi, Chibiusa, Mamoru and the Inners all on stage singing a song during the revision of the Infinity Academy Mistress Labyrinth musical.

Posting this a little late to Patreon this week because this week is hectic. I may have made a mistake planning a rerelease and a new release two weeks apart because I feel like I’m way behind on everything.

I’m not, but hey when has my brain ever done logic? Anyway, here‘s the link to the Storify of Saturday’s Sera Myu livetweet. This week, we’ve watched the revision of the Mistress Labyrinth musical and… Wow, did I dislike it.

I love what SeraMyu tried to do with these narratives by adding something new and something that’s solely for the musicals and then combining it with a story everyone already knew and loved, but the end result is still that neither story is really done any kind of justice at all.

And… Honestly, I think I like this revision so much less than the others (and so much less than the original musical narrative) because the revision fixes none of the issues I had with the original musical. In fact it may well have made them worse.

I mean, last week, I will remind you all that Sailor Neptune was so bad-ass that she took her violin into battle. This musical? No violin.

It may also have been that the changes in actors negatively impacted my enjoyment too. I don’t normally talk about the actors changing (outside of highlighting who is playing Sailor Moon) because I want to focus on the narrative, but. I won’t lie. Nao Takagi and Kenji Urai’s performances in the original version of this musical were absolute perfection to me and watching the revision a week later was grossly unfair to the new actors playing Uranus and Mamoru.

But mostly it’s just that the narrative was so much the same that I just… didn’t really have anything new to say and it made the issues I had with the story initially stand out more. T_T

And with this livetweet, we’re nearing the end of the SeraMyu livetweets. I’ve got four musicals left of old!Myu. What am I going to be doing with my Saturdays from now on? T_T

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This post previously appeared on Patreon and is sponsored by generous patrons. Thank you so much for your support! It means the world to me! <3 I love you all!

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Grammar Geek: That vs That, complicated sentence structures

Posted August 15, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments


Grammar Geek: That vs That, complicated sentence structures

Tabitha asks:

When emailing or texting back and forth with people, I often write sentences like “That’s exciting that you’re going to Australia!” But is the double “that” grammatically wrong? (Should it always be “It’s exciting”?) If someone just told me “I’m going to Australia!” I would say “That’s exciting!”, so using an initial “that” feels right to me, but then the sentence as a whole sounds off, so every time I write something like that I think “this probably isn’t correct grammar…” (I don’t really care about my grammar when I’m just communicating with friends, but I’m still really curious about this!)

And, really, this kind of question is my grammatical jam, so… I’m jumping on it. XD

First of all, the short answer: As far as I know, yes, this is totally grammatically fine. Stylistically it’s a little more iffy because we don’t like anything that sounds even vaguely like repetition so ‘that – that’ in this such succession is less than ideal, but that’s a different topic altogether.

And after that it gets a little complicated because there’s a lot to unpack in this simple-looking sentence. So let’s start off with that repetition of that and why it’s okay from a grammatical viewpoint.

It’s okay grammatically because the two words have a totally different function and this kind of repetition is fairly common in Germanic languages in general. In English, another example of repetition that’s grammatically fine would be a sentence like “He had had a bright idea an hour ago”.

See? You repeat ‘had’ twice. That’s because the verb ‘to have’ conjugates the same way when you’ve got a past tense or a participle. We’re okay with it because one of the hads doesn’t actually mean anything. It’s just kind of… there to ensure that the verb is conjugated grammatically and that’s all it’s doing.

The same kind of situation is at work in the sentence “That’s exciting that you’re going to Australia!”

The first ‘that’ doesn’t mean anything. It’s a referrer and it’s only purpose in this sentence is to provide a subject for the verb ‘is’.

The second ‘that’ is a relative pronoun. Now, in most sentences you can apply the following rule of thumb: if your relative pronoun is followed by a personal pronoun or a noun you can leave it out. Even though that’s clearly the case here, once we remove ‘that’ from the sentence, the whole thing falls apart. It doesn’t work. It needs the relative pronoun to be grammatical, so what gives?

Well. That’s to do with the verb ‘is’ in the main clause. You see, ‘to be’ is a very annoying verb that’s the exception to pretty much every single rule you will ever encounter. In this particular instance, it serves as a copula verb. Or a linking verb. It links the subject to a predicate.

In this case it links the first ‘that’ to ‘exciting’. And on its own, that’s a perfectly fine sentence, right? There’s nothing wrong with “That’s exciting!” other than that we need context to interpret it. Otherwise we’ll just have a conversation that kind of goes like this

A: That’s exciting!
B: “What’s exciting?”
A: That! B: But what’s that?
A: Just that!
B: But what does ‘that’ refer to? A: To that!

Did you picture this conversation in your head? Was A pointing at something in your imagination while B was just oblivious to what A was pointing at? That’s your brain looking for contextual clues to interpret ‘that’ in this sentence. Like I said, it’s a referrer, so it needs something to refer to and we’ll instinctively look for something that will do this.

In Tabitha’s sentence, we’ve got both the referrer and the thing that’s being referred to. It just happens that what ‘that’ refers to is a whole sentence. Our whole subject is a sentence: “you’re going to Australia”. Perfectly fine sentence on its own, right? Nothing wrong with it.

But! But but but! English (and, indeed, Germanic languages in general) doesn’t like it when a whole clause is a subject. So we need something in front of it to make it into the kind of sentence that can serve as a subject. Cue our relative pronoun ‘that’.

And we can test how this works too! We just need to shuffle things around a little. Here, look:

That you’re going to Australia is exciting.
* You’re going to Australia is exciting.
* That’s exciting you’re going to Australia.

Notice how those last two sentences don’t really work? I mean the last one is fine if you add in a full stop (and I’m fairly sure most of you reading mentally did so), but as it stands and the second sentence as a whole? They don’t work.

You could make the second sentence work by removing ‘you’re’ so you end up with “Going to Australia is exciting”, but then you’re completely changing the kind of clause you’re dealing with.

Anyway, I fully admit that this is a sentence structure where I don’t 100% know the ins and outs of how to call things. It’s a little more advanced than the grammar I’ve specialised in and, honestly, my classes tended to be more practical than theoretical anyway, but that’s more or less what’s going on in this sentence.

It’s a lot of different rules all bundled up into one tiny package and it’s a very good example of why I try to hammer home the idea that, yes, English is hard when I’m tutoring. Because this sentence? This isn’t stuff any grammar book will ever teach you if you’re just learning the language. (If you’re studying English linguistics… Yeah, it might crop up once you start working on your MA.) And it’s hard to wrap your head around all the rules in it and why and how this sentence has exceptions to those rules.

But this is the kind of stuff I like to geek out about, so I hope you’ve found it fun and entertaining! It’s a little more advanced than the questions I was expecting to get, though, so do please holler if I’m just being confusing or there are terms or ideas that don’t really make sense.

And if you disagree, let me know too! (Seriously, do, please. I really, really like rambling about grammar with people and analysing sentences like this with people would make my day.)

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This post previously appeared on Patreon and is sponsored by generous patrons. Thank you so much for your support! It means the world to me! <3 I love you all!

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July 2017 Round-up

Posted August 2, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments





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Grammar Geek: In, In to, Into – What’s the difference?

Posted July 14, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments

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Grammar Geek: In, In to, Into - What's the difference?

So… Fun fact: I’m used to talking through grammar lessons rather than writing them all down entirely. It’ll probably take me a bit to get used to the shift in medium. You wouldn’t think it makes a big difference, but it actually really does.

And, because this is the blog version, some more background because I don’t think I actually announced this properly. One of my Patreon goals was to geek out about (English) grammar once a month. I like grammar and I teach English as a Second Language, so it’s a combination of stuff that I’m pretty good at. Also did I mention I like grammar? This is a fun way for me to ramble about my interests and touch on topics that people find interesting or troublesome.

So every month, I’ll be soliciting questions about grammar and we’ll pick one that I’ll be covering that month. This is the first month and I’m happy to report that we had a great question. (I have no idea if people want me to list their names if their question is picked. I figured I’d keep it anonymous in case people feel self-conscious otherwise.)

And… Yeah. That’s what this is. A new monthly feature! These are public posts and anyone can participate in asking questions! Though the posts go live for Patrons a week before anyone else gets to see them (as opposed to the month-long wait of non-goal public posts like reviews). I hope you’ll enjoy it! I’ll put up a call for new prompts later this month.

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Kindness of Pictures

Posted July 6, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments


This time around, I’d like to talk about something which a lot of people do. I’d like to talk briefly about picture sharing! Whether they’re lolcats or birbs or gorgeous scenery. Whether they’re videos or still images or gifs or whatever. They’re the images that brighten our day just that little bit for being shared.

To everyone who tirelessly collects them to be posted as a regular feature, thank you.

To everyone who uses them to combat trolls, thank you.

I… kind of feel like this one doesn’t really need any kind of explanation or elaboration. They mostly just speak for themselves, these images, and I am grateful to everyone who shares them. <3


June 2017 Round-up

Posted July 2, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments





This is not a collection of all the posts that went up on Patreon. This is just a list of the posts that went up on Patreon only or that won’t appear for another month. Most of these posts are locked personal life updates, fiction or fiction-related. Reviews and livetweets will find their way onto this blog eventually if they haven’t already appeared.

Starting next month, I’ll be listing all Patreon posts because I’ll be out of reposts of old content and it’ll be all neat and tidy!

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If You Want to Write a Book, Write It However Works for You

Posted June 27, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments


If You Want to Write a Book, Write It However Works for You

If You Want to Write a Book, Write It However Works for You

I am, at the moment, juggling several projects because that’s how I roll. I’ve just started revisions for my next novel, the first in a trilogy, that I’m very excited about. I’m working on a short story that probably wants to be a novelette. I’ve also just yesterday started on a short nonfiction essay.

I don’t know yet what other people will think of it. I don’t know if it’ll be a commercial success. I don’t know whether I want to pursue traditional publishing with it or go indie. I don’t know if it’ll be the book that brings me fame. I don’t even know when, exactly, I’ll publish it.

I do know that, like me, many other writers are working on their novels. Whether continuing it or just starting it. They’ll be veteran writers and writers who’ve just started. Professional writers and fanfiction writers. Nonfiction writers and fiction writers. All of us, working on our books, alone and yet, in some way, connected for that we’re all in this together.

Someday, perhaps, we will be looking for publishing and readers at the same time and, of course, I hope that it’s my book that people pick and that they’ll fall in love with. But if it’s their novel? Then I’ll be happy for them because knowing readers love your books is one of the greatest feelings I have ever had and I wish that feeling upon every writer. (Except those who write only to spread hate. Those writers I hope will never have that feeling because they’re writing to make the world a worse place.)

Many of us will not writer a commercially successful book for… so many reasons. Maybe the craft just genuinely isn’t good enough to compete with other books. Maybe the writer fails at marketing. Maybe it was the wrong book at the wrong time. There are myriad reasons why books don’t sell. It’s not always because a book is bad and, anyway, writing is a skill which means you can practice and hone it, so keep writing!

Some writers, lucky people that they are, can write a little bit every single day. Writing every day is frequently given as advice without regarding, well, anything about the person’s life and whether writing every day is even in any way viable to them. For many writers, this process of writing every day doesn’t work. The reasons vary and the reasons don’t particularly matter to me. What matters to me is that it’s not universal advice and while it is fantastic and amazing if you can do that, it is not a requirement to becoming a Real Writer™. There is no One True Way to write and don’t let any successful author tell you otherwise.

I will finish my stories. Eventually. Hopefully, so will everyone else who was working on a book at the same time as me. Maybe, for whatever reason, they’ll have to put their writing aside for a while. They’ll go off to do other things. Maybe someone moved abroad and struggled with culture shock. Maybe they started a family and couldn’t find a way to combine everything. Maybe they’ll find another book to write that excites them more. Maybe they’ll be discouraged because they have no one to cheer them on. Maybe the research is too daunting. I’m still not working on the third peeweww story because evolutionary biology still short-circuits my brain, but one day!

One day, the story will be written. Others might not be. I’ve stuffed some of mine into drawers because I couldn’t even begin to imagine how to salvage them. I may never work on those stories again, but they live on. They live on in the next story. They live on in what I do because what I wrote has burrowed their way under my skin and taught me things I didn’t know, or didn’t realise, before.

Some writers may not write every day, but they’ll put a book down and aside and then pick it back up again a week later. Or a month later. Maybe a year later. Several years. From my own process I know that I can achieve 20,000 word days. I also know that, if I manage a day like that, I will pay and be unable to write (or do much of anything) for at least the next day. That’s just my body being… whatever it is being. I just know I need to recharge afterwards.

If you feel bad about giving yourself a day off writing for whatever reason, be kind to yourself. Maybe you needed it. And writing takes many forms. It’s not all about putting pen to paper (though, arguably, that’s the most important part). Sometimes it’s about taking a step back and working through an issue in your head before you write on. Sometimes you need to recharge. Whatever your process is, it is yours. If it isn’t working for the book you want to work on, try shaking up your process. Sometimes that’s what you need to jumpstart it and sometimes you need to work differently from what you’re used to.

The important thing is that you do what works for you as a person and as a writer. That’s not always building habits, though truthfully they can help a lot when you make sure the habits you’re cultivating work for you. And habits can change!

When I was a fledgling writer, my habit was to listen to music when I was writing. It was also, frequently, my habit to use the school computers to write between classes and to doodle in the margins of my notebooks.

When I left school, none of those habits worked anymore. I don’t know why the music stopped working, but I do know that my routine changed significantly and my habits had to change with it. For several years, I was no longer able to write while listening to music. It was too distracting. The novel I’m working on now? It has a soundtrack that I listen to while I write.

I write when my brain lets me, because sometimes depression and fatigue mean I can barely get out of bed, never mind summon up the energy to write fiction. Writing fiction is hard, even if it’s boring, mundane stuff that I know is terrible and will change later. Even if it’s gibberish. It’s hard. It’s work. It doesn’t matter what style works for you, whether you’re a writer with a ritual or not. Writing takes something out of you. Always. If you need to recharge afterwards, that’s fine.

Is there a risk that you’ll lose the voice and the book you were working on? Yes. I don’t know you, dear fellow writer, and I can’t promise you that if you put your book aside you’ll return to it writing the same book that you would have written a month ago, a year ago. Most likely, unless you’re an amazing plotter, you won’t.

I find that, nowadays, I often have stories that require me to be distracted, just a little, and the trick to find the right balance between too little distraction and too much. Eventually, if enough time passes, perhaps you’ll find that your concentration has gotten so good that you’ve zoomed through the writing session and surprise yourself with the word count you’ve achieved. And that’s great! Feel good about the writing you’ve done. Because, let me repeat, writing is hard.

It will not always feel hard. I’ve had story drafts flow from my pen like a waterfall. Rapid, tempestuous, roaringly, powerfully, leaving me in a slight daze. But they still took work and some amount of effort because writing is never, ever, effortless. Some days a writing session will be easier than others. No matter what your process is, there will be good days and bad days.

When you need to do research, there is a chance of getting sucked into it so far that you get distracted from your narrative. It is tempting to forego all research in your first draft and fix it all later. For some writers, that works exceptionally well. Not for others. There are writers who will get horridly stuck on the book if they don’t do background research first, if small things are misaligned. For all that you are, surely, selling people a product, you need a solid foundation and only you can decide for your story what that foundation looks like. Sometimes, that solid foundation requires you to research first and write later. Or to write, get distracted by research and get back to writing afterwards. All of it is valid, provided that you think it works for you.

It may be you’re one of those lucky writers whose first drafts are amazing. Most likely, you are not. I’m not, though I do long to be that good one day. That’s what revision is for. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll look upon your book and decide that it’s not worth finishing to you. Maybe you’ll reread what you wrote and hate it. Maybe you need a vacation in the middle of your book. Maybe picking up that particular piece, at that particular time, is making you depressed or anxious. Or both. It’s okay to put it away and do something else for a while. It’s okay to put it away and never pick it up again.

Only you can say what course of action is right for you. You get to make that call. Of course I would prefer you to finish your book! I like stories! I like learning! I would enjoy seeing your perception on the world and to be challenged by your worldview where it differs from mine. Books teach us. Books mirror the world around us or show us a window into something else, something different. So, yes, I would prefer it if you finished your book, if you wrote that first draft start-to-finish and revised it and sought to bring it to my attention.

But I am not you and I cannot make that call for you.

Whatever your process is. Whatever your decisions regarding your book: be kind to yourself. Writing is hard work, even when it doesn’t feel like it, and you did good. Self-care matters. If you don’t take care of yourself, if you don’t look at what practices and processes work for you, as an individual, that is when you ‘fail’. For that is when you’ve decided that there is One True Way to write and stopped considering what works for you individually. That is when the self-doubt and the anxiety really comes out to play because you’ll be so hung up on this idea of what a writer should be according to a Big Name Author you may or may not have heard of before that you’ll forget that you need to look what writing actually is for you.

That Big Name Author no more knows you than I do. They can’t tell you how you should write or what you should write or how you should approach the whole process because they don’t know you.

And, yes, maybe your book isn’t good enough to cut it in the market place. And, true, you won’t know unless you finish and try. But what if publication wasn’t your goal? Should you then pursue it because someone else told you that it’s what you must do even though you don’t want to? You can always improve your writing if that’s what you want to do.

But don’t let anyone force you into methods or ideas that don’t work for you. The truth is that there are a lot of writers out there who want to push their methods onto other people without pausing to consider that those other people? Are not them. They have different goals, different reasons, different challenges. All of which impact what methods do and do not work. None of which those authors sharing their wisdom know.

The truth is that, when it comes to writing advice, there’s only one kind of advice that is even remotely universal: figure out what your process is for the book you’re working on right now. Whatever your goal is, you’ll reach it faster if you know what’s making the idea (and you) tick.

No, I lied, sorry. There’s another piece of advice that’s pretty universal: writing is not a race. You can take it at your own pace. It is not a case of you versus everyone else (unless you want it to be). You can work together with other writers. Encourage each other, build a network, lean on one another when times are hard, share each other’s joys and woes. Have a community, in short, of people who understand you and who’ll help you achieve the goal that you’ve set yourself to achieve.

Writing is not a One Method Fits All thing. Writing is a mosaic of tiny little pieces of methods and thoughts and ideas that you’ve got to piece together for yourself. Others who’ve written books can show you things that work (or once worked) for them that you can try, but… That’s all we can do.

I’m sorry. This probably wasn’t the writing advice that you were hoping for, but it’s what I’ve got. Don’t let writers tell you what your process should be, not even me. We don’t know you. We don’t know your circumstances. You do. Try things. See what works for you. Toss out stuff that doesn’t.

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This post previously appeared on Patreon and is sponsored by generous patrons. Thank you so much for your support! It means the world to me! <3 I love you all!

If you’ve enjoyed this post and would like to support me in creating more free content, please consider subscribing or spreading the word to others. Visit my Patreon page to discover how to get early access to posts as well as various Patron-exclusive posts and goodies!


Interview at Huntress of Diverse Books!

Posted June 11, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments


Today Huntress of Diverse Book has posted an interview with one of my characters! Sinead is interviewing the protatonist of Sea Foam and Silence and in keeping with the fact that Sea Foam is a verse novel, we’ve done the whole interview in verse. Come check it out! Learn a little more about our little mermaid as she talks about discovering life on land, fails to understand puppies, and talks about what she loves to do.

And, while you’re there, why not check out the rest of Sinead’s blog too! <3


May 2017 Round Up

Posted June 2, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments


This month, in the interest of trying out some new things, I thought I’d forego the regular culture consumption post and try a different kind of round-up, focusing on the posts that I’ve made this month. I will admit to also doing this because, in all honesty, the posts take a fair bit of time to do even when I manage to stay on top of them and I’m not sure how much value they have for people in their existing format.

The links round-up is largely automated, thanks to the Ultimate Book Blogger plug-in’s awesome wrap-up feature, so it consumes far less time to manage when my approach is to use that to showcase links from the most important categories. Plus! Unlike the current “What did I post this month” structure that lumps everything together, this gives me a good overview of what I’m talking about in a month and that, in turn, will hopefully allow me to create more content because I can use the information to look at what people want more or less of.

I’m also including Patreon-only posts. These are the only set of links that aren’t automated. May is a slightly terrible month to start listing Patreon posts in because I’ve made a ton of scheduled posts to collect older material in one place. This way, people who explore my Patreon can find a lot of my content in one convenient location (right where they are!) and get a good sense of what I do without having to visit half a dozen sites to do so.

For now, there are no graphics because I want to try out the structure and see whether I like it/whether anything needs changing first. So. If there’s anything you particularly want to see (or to see disappear) or aught, please let me know! And yes you can totally request I include my thoughts on media I’ve consumed that month. Unless people overwhelmingly ask me to, it won’t come back the way that it was, but if people find it useful I’m more than happy to try and find a way to make it work better for me too.




This is not a collection of all the posts that went up on Patreon. This is just a list of the posts that went up on Patreon only. Most of these posts are personal life updates, fiction or fiction-related. Reviews and livetweets will find their way onto this blog eventually if they haven’t already appeared.

May saw a lot of public posts as I decided to move both the Teaser Verses of Rapunzel, Rapunzel and the sampler for Feather by Feather and Other Stories to Patreon. To clarify, I will not be collecting the Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon reaction posts that went up on Patreon this month. If you want to check them out, you can also find them on this blog!

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How to Make a List of Asexual Books Post

Posted May 24, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 2 Comments


How to Make a List of Asexual Books Post

So… There’s something I’ve noticed about a lot of people making lists about asexual representation. Actually, there’s a few things I’ve noticed and they all fall into slightly similar patterns.

Before I start talking about how to make lists about asexual representation, I want to discuss something else briefly. I want to talk about how these lists make me feel. This is especially true of lists or listers that include multiple queer orientations in their lists. These lists often make me feel like the asexual representation is tacked on as an afterthought with barely any research into what asexual representation exists in the field. The books are out there!

Claudie Arseneault’s absolutely fantastic database of asexual and aromantic characters in SFF fiction lists about 59 novels and novellas with asexual characters at the time I’m writing this. This post is concerned with listing asexuality in books, but a few things about aromanticism:
Aromantic readers have even less representation, the representation they do have is predominantly linked to asexuality1, and I have yet to see a list (that wasn’t compiled by aromantic readers) that explicitly includes aromanticism.

Those 59 books in Claudie’s database? Isn’t all of them. It’s an SFF-only list, so a book like Alice Oseman’s Radio Silence isn’t going to be on it. That’s contemporary YA. A handful of books I didn’t spot on the list that are also SFF and contain confirmed asexual representation: Garth Nix’s Clariel2, R.J. Anderson’s Quicksilver, Jo Walton’s The King’s Peace, Scott Westerfeld’s Afterworlds.

My point obviously isn’t to diss Claudie’s database. It is a fantastic resource. I mention those books because I want to highlight that there are enough books with asexual representation out there that even those of us who pay close attention to acespec characters in books will miss some of them.

So when I see book lists that include asexual representation and those book lists keep on including the same two or three books every single time that hurts. And that shows me that whoever compiled the list did the absolute bare minimum of research into asexual representation, assuming that they even did that much research.

And that’s why it feels like asexual representation is an afterthought when people make these lists. That’s why seeing the same books recommended over and over hurts so much. Recommending the same books over and over again just makes it seem like there so little representation out there. It suggests that we’re not worth reading about.

Now, I know. I know. When people make lists like this, often the books that get added are the popular books, the well-known ones. Trust me, I know. But when it comes to asexual representation, the recommendations are stagnant. It’s always the same handful of books that get included. A list with asexual representation will always include Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire. It will almost always include Clariel. Etc. It’s always the same handful of books. Always from the same tiny pool of books out there. It makes it seem like that handful of books is the only asexual representation out there when, clearly, it’s not. I wouldn’t be able to name 63 books with asexual representation if that handful of books was all there is.

A caveat here: part of this is based on faulty perceptions. I’m letting it stand because I’m talking about how it feels, but other queer communities struggle equally much with finding representation in books, and this is before taking into account intersectionality. I suspect that much of what I’m about to say can be applied to other minorities.

The issue I have with lists that are as stagnant as the ones I see for asexual representation is that this stagnation is actively harmful to readers. If ten different recommendation posts all list the same five books, readers are left thinking that those five books are all the books that are available to them. It doesn’t encourage people to do their own research to find that, actually, there are at least several dozen more! It actively discourages researching because, surely, if there were more books out there they would be talked about more often.

So what can we do about that?

1. Spend as much time researching books with asexual representation as you would other representations.

There are, at least, 64 books with characters on the asexual spectrum that have been published to date. When I searched for ‘asexual books’ just now, this was the second link. There are 135 books on that GoodReads list. Not all of them are fiction, mind you, but a sizeable chunk is. The top result for similar lists is this one about asexuality in YA fiction. It has 54 books on it when I checked (and considers Every Heart a Doorway adult fiction or it would’ve been 55).

That took, what, five minutes and the most basic of search terms I could think of using. Don’t tell me that you can’t find more asexual books than the handful that keep getting recommended on these “books with asexual representation” lists.

I take back what I said earlier. Including the same handful of books over and over suggests the person who compiled it did no research because it’s so incredibly easy to find others if you actually look for them.

When someone knows how much more representation there is out there, it’s very easy for that person to feel like the only research that’s gone into making the recommendations list is looking at a handful of popular mainstream lists and deciding to mix and match from between those titles and… that’s it. That’s all the research that that person did.

It may not be true! I don’t know the list-maker. I don’t know how much research they did or did not do, but that’s how it will come across to asexual readers looking for more representation.

2. Recognise that asexual representation and aromantic representation are not the same thing.

They are not. I would argue that failing to differentiate between the two is one of the biggest red flags regarding the amount of research someone did in compiling their ace rep lists. (Another red flag is failing to mention aromanticism at all.)

This is… a difficult topic for me to talk about, to be honest, because I’m not aromantic and I know a lot of aros who have been hurt by alloromantic aces speaking about aromanticism and getting it wrong. You can find a good primer written by Mikayla on Twitter here. Bear in mind it’s a 101 thread and will pretty much only give you a grounding in the terms. You can also check out AVEN‘s website or the Aromantics Wiki to get you started.

I will say that while I think the conflation is understandable, given how invisible both orientations are and how often the representation we do get conflates the two, that doesn’t mean it’s right and it’s certainly something that list makers need to bear in mind and actively work against perpetuating.

The easiest way to do that is to list both a character’s romantic and asexual orientation so that people will know what rep they’re looking into.

3. Look at small press and indie publications.

I know. I know. They’re frequently less popular and less well-known than the big popular names, but… I guarantee you that these are the books that need your signal boosting the most. Plus, most acespec authors I know struggle to get published traditionally by the larger publishers because they write characters that are deemed harder to market.

I’m certain that if Seanan McGuire hadn’t been a popular author to start with Every Heart a Doorway wouldn’t have found a traditional publisher. Not without editing out the explicit asexual and aromantic discussions anyway. Even small queer publishers don’t seem to touch asexual representation unless it’s homoromantic and the focus of the story is on the homoromantic.

4. If you have a limited amount of spots on your list available, think twice about including the most popular recommendations.

Sounds harsh, I know. But, listen. There are a couple of books (Clariel by Garth Nix or Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire are the two most notable ones) that have appeared on just about every single list about asexual representation found in mainstream book blogs. These are the staple recommendations that people turn to.

To be absolutely clear: I’m not saying that you should never recommend these books ever. But, in general, most recommendation lists consist of about 5 books per list. Some go as high up as 10! But most tend to be 5 books long because reader attention span and memory.

What I am saying is that when you’ve only got a limited number of slots to recommend books in, you should think about which books you’re including, what your goal is and whether that book reaches that goal. Look at other lists and see which books they share.

And then don’t recommend those on your actual list. Or at least restrict the list to one of them. They’re already available on a bunch of lists, so I guarantee you that there are other books that are just as good (if not better) that need the publicity for including asexual representation a lot more. Yes, even if it’s a traditionally published author like Scott Westerfeld. Did you know he wrote a demisexual character in Afterworlds? Or Laina Taylor. I didn’t know there was asexual representation in her books. No one ever mentioned it to me.

Truthfully, I would love to say “don’t recommend the most popular books in a list of less than 10 books under any circumstance”, but the truth is those are the books that will help people find your post about asexual representation because, well, they’re popular. People are going to search for them. They’re keywords to help boost the visibility of your list.

I get that there are good, defendable reasons for including those books. A list of 5 obscure books with asexual representation is nigh-on useless if no one can find them. Another approach you could take is to name drop the popular book (or books) in your introduction or at the end as an honorary mention. That way, you still get to mention the popular books (and thus get the keywords into your post), but you end up centring other books.

As much as I think the article recommending 5 books with asexual protagonists is badly researched and messed up, it did get that aspect spot-on if you’re looking for an example of how to use popular and well-known books to recommend less well-known ones.

5. Consider making your goal explicitly “I want to introduce acespec readers to more books with asexual representation” rather than “I want to introduce allosexuals to acespec 101 books”.

This all ties into the popularity of books, as well, really. The most popular recommendation by far is Every Heart a Doorway. It’s Asexuality 101 representation. Most of my friends who’ve read it find its representation, especially its aromantic representation, problematic. Here’s the thing: we’re not looking for 101 representation to explain our orientations to allos. We’re looking for something a little more, well, nuanced.

And by and large the books that get recommended… aren’t. They’re 101 books and the list as a whole is aimed at allo readers looking to learn a little more about asexuality. It’d be nice if list-makers in mainstream outlets would think about catering to those readers who already know about those books.

There’s an added bonus to doing that for allo readers too! Because, you see, you’re also doing them a disservice by only showing them the asexual 101 books. Most Asexuality 101 books feature characters whose asexuality is similar, but asexuality is a spectrum and by recommending the same books over and over you deny allo readers a chance to understand that spectrum. In fact, you’re actively encouraging them to see that asexuality only looks one or two ways.

Which… While we’re on the subject, does a lot of harm to asexuals who don’t align with those ways because people will attack them for ‘not being queer enough’. We are queer enough, but the narrative put forth by the most-recommended and most well-known books with asexual characters wouldn’t suggest it. (See also: queer romance publishers won’t touch a book featuring a heteroromantic asexual MC or LI, even though heteroromantic asexuals aren’t straight.)

So… You know. By shifting the goal and focus of your list around, what you end up with is a list that, in the long run, does more good and promotes more diversity and cultivates more understanding between different communities. It’s win all around!

And… that’s all I can think of (for now). Hopefully that will get you started in figuring out how to write lists of books featuring asexual representation! I’m pretty sure that you can apply the same general ideas to any list focusing on representation.

To recap and to offer you a tl;dr version: do research into the marginalisation you’re recommending, think about what you want your list to accomplish and make sure that the books you include actually help you accomplish that goal.

1. In the interest of full disclosure, at the moment my works are adding to this as both the prominent aromantic characters in my books are aromantic asexual. I aim to work on including other aro rep, but I’m a slow writer. 🙁 I’d also like to apologise for making this a footnote. I didn’t know how to fit it into the main body. My apologies. 🙁

2. Clariel is one of the most frequently included books for asexual and aromantic representation. Most aspec readers I know find Clariel deeply problematic representation, so I’m not surprised that this one isn’t in the database despite how well-known it is.

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