November 2018 Goals

Posted November 2, 2018 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Goals / 0 Comments

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This Month's Goals
I Want to Read:

  • Hahahahahahahaha. It’s November.

I Want to Write:

  • Survive NaNoWriMo

It’s November, and that means NaNoWriMo time! I’ve never had as much free time for NaNoWriMo as I’ve had this month, so we’ll… see how it goes. My goal is twofold. Like most of the recent NaNoWriMo years, I’m rebelling. I know I can write 50K in a month and setting myself a longer goal has… somehow never managed to motivate me. So I always end up doing something different for NaNoWriMo. After all, the goal is to have fun writing above all else.

This month, I have two projects I want to work on:

  • editing RibbonDancer
  • writing DemiPrincess 2&3 in a rough draft

And yes I do mean DemiPrincess 2 and 3. Unlike the first book, these two won’t contain any time jumps and, if all goes to plan, present a near-continuous narrative. So I want to have both of them written at once and ready at the same time. That way I can release them (close) together and no one needs to wait for the cliffhanger to resolve. Or at least not wait long.

I’m considering a few more things to get me motivated, but we’ll see how those go. I really ought to have hashed this out before the 31st of October and only a handful of days before November starts.

Terrifyingly, it feels like it’s close to my period. While you’d think that’s a good thing – get it over with – that means I may end up behind at the beginning when you can build up a decent buffer as you build momentum. We’ll see how it goes. I expect to need at least two months to have a final draft of both DemiPrincess books, but we’ll see how it goes. In theory, health and life cooperating, this is a doable plan.

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October 2018 Round-up

Posted November 1, 2018 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments

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Goals

News

Patreon

Posts marked with an * are publicly available at this time.

Culture Consumption

Misc Posts

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The Ice Princess’s Fair Illusion (un)FAQ

Posted October 31, 2018 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments

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With the release of The Ice Princess’s Fair Illusion being so close (less than a week now!), I figured it’d be nice if I did a short FAQ-style post for questions I can imagine coming up. So! Here I am, answering not-so-frequently asked questions in the hopes that the answers will be helpful to you!

Some questions may contain mild spoilers.

Read More

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Goal Review October 2018

Posted October 31, 2018 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Goals / 0 Comments

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Last Month's Goal

I Want to Read:

  • Tone of Voice by Kaia Sønderby
  • The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley
  • The Lie Tree by Francis Hardinge

I Want to Write:

  • That Darned Essay

Well, I managed one of these. October was an abysmal month for, uh, most anything that was not that darned essay. And mostly it was just abysmal all-around. I don’t want to talk about October.

I shall say only this: I finally finished a draft of that darned essay I was happy enough to call “done” and Patreon promptly decided my page contained “adult” content. (It doesn’t.) And I’ve been waiting for them to get back to me on the appeal for, oh, almost 3 weeks now.

Which, personally, I consider appalling customer service, given the severity of the potential impact having to appeal a decision that should never have happened in the first place has. But it is what it is for now. Just know that I’m severely pissed off and if this stretches on into a month, I will have lost whatever goodwill I have towards support staff. (I’m sure they’re doing their best to stay on top of the tickets, but if this is an average waiting time, your support process isn’t working right and, at minimum, you need to hire more staff to keep on top of the volume.)

Anyway, that should give you an indication of how well my October’s gone.

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This Week on Patreon (Week 43)

Posted October 26, 2018 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments

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My Patreon tends to be a fairly quiet place, but I wanted to share links to the posts that go up every week. In this case, I’m counting weeks from Saturday to Friday so anyone who wants to explore things during the weekend can do so.

Most of the posts are locked to patrons, though you’ll find at least one public post each month. Enjoy!

Public Posts

All-Patron Posts

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Guest Post: Writing an Asexual Dominant by Nicole Field

Posted October 23, 2018 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books, Other People's Creations / 0 Comments

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Hey, everyone! Earlier this month, author Nicole Field released From the Same Star featuring an asexual love interest, Steve, and today Nicole is here to talk a little bit about the book! In honour of Asexual Awareness Week, Nicole will be talking specifically about asexuality and the way that it relates to Steve’s BDSM play. There’ll also be a short excerpt at the end!

From the Same Star is the second book in Nicole’s Kismet series, following One Last Drop. One Last Drop focuses on other characters, so you don’t have to read that before diving into this one! Both are slice-of-life f/f romances with some BDSM elements but no explicit content.

Let me give you the plot description for From the Same Star and a short biography of Nicole, and then I’ll hand the blog over.

From the Same Star (Kismet #2) by Nicole FieldIn the aftermath of her mother’s death, Angela struggles to recover and re-enter the world. When she meets Steve, who works in the café across the street, she feels able to take a step out of her grief-filled home. With Steve, she hopes to do D/s as a way to take a break from the pain consuming her, but discovers that in doing kink, you bring all of who you are with you, including grief.

Then Steve’s best friend is in a tragic car accident, and winds up in a coma, and Angela longs to offer support to Steve, as well as receive it.

*

Nicole writes across the spectrum of sexuality and gender identity. She lives in Melbourne with one of her partners, two cats, a whole lot of books and a bottomless cup of tea.

Co-creator of Queer Writers Chat and reviewer for Just Love: Queer Book Reviews. Also likes tea, crochet and Gilmore Girls.

 

Welcome Nicole!

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Writing an Asexual Dominant by Nicole Field

First off, thanks to Lynn for hosting me during asexuality week.

I’m here to talk about my recent novel release, From the Same Star, and the asexual love interest of that novel – Steve.

When I conceived of the character of Steve, there were several things that I wanted to get across. Firstly: Although she is dominant by nature, she’s also an everyday person. She’s a waitress. She has long-standing friendships.

And she’s also on the asexuality spectrum.

To me, being on that spectrum was an integral part of Steve’s story, and the wider story that I wanted to tell. So much of the BDSM fiction out there is about the kinds of situations that are going to get one hot under the collar.

That’s not the intention of From the Same Star. This novel is not erotica. It’s a story about two people, and friendship, and healing, and BDSM.

Secondly: I wanted to show not just that Steve is an everyday person, but that she is human. I find the impression in media that dominants can’t be vulnerable to be very harmful. It’s an unrealistic expectation that might be okay in a fantasy narrative setting, but not something that’s so much set in the contemporary, real world as From the Same Star is.

Like One Last Drop before it, From the Same Star is a slice-of-life, f/f, slow burn romance novel with BDSM elements at its core. The dynamic that occurs between Steve and Angela is able to go a lot deeper than the one in One Last Drop because both Steve and Angela are more experienced in BDSM.

That doesn’t mean they don’t make mistakes. They do. And they also talk through their mistakes and manage to resolve them.

Steve’s sexuality doesn’t prevent any of that. Its presence only defines the direction that their dynamic will and won’t take in the story.

I’ve included a small snippet here:

“In the interests of good communication,” Steve said, once they were sitting in Steve’s room, both of them still holding hands, “I’m on the asexual spectrum. I don’t really have sex.”

Angela’s mouth opened in a silent ‘O’ of surprise. She didn’t exactly know what to say to that.

Steve went on. “I sometimes have sex, but it’s not often, and it’s not the point of my BDSM play.”

“But… kissing?” Angela found her voice again.

“The kissing in the living room…?”

“That was okay,” Steve said. She grinned. “More than okay, actually. After everything during the movie, I would have asked for it if you hadn’t.”

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Thank you so much for visiting, Nicole!

From the Same Star is available in paperback and ebook. You can buy the paperback here via Amazon (or find it any other retailer!) and the ebooks are available via the publisher’s web store as well as the usual eretailers.

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Whose Words Matter Anyway? On using identity labels in The Ice Princess’s Fair Illusion

Posted October 19, 2018 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments

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The Ice Princess's Fair Illusion Coming November 6th. "Aromantic, we call it. You know that, my sweet. Aromantic and asexual, in fact. If you're going to tell it, tell it loud. Tell it proud. That's why I agreed to do this. I want to hear no more of people like yourself who needed words they never learned because no one believed they were needed." Preorder now: https://www.books2read.com/thrushbeard
Oh, look! It’s time for another sporadic not-a-guest-post personal essay about The Ice Princess’s Fair Illusion. This time about some of the less nice influenced on the story. You can read the Patreon version (and leave comments) here!

Whose Words Matter Anyway? On using identity labels in The Ice Princess’s Fair Illusion

A few years ago, I started reading romance novels with demisexual characters in them. Either they’re protagonists or they’re love interests. That sounds great, right? Asexuality, as a spectrum, is gaining visibility and there’s enough visibility now that ‘demisexual romance’ is a term you can actually successfully look for. I’ve got a whole list of them!

Sadly, the ones I’ve read largely stick to presenting demisexuality in the same, erroneous way. They feel more interested in using demisexuality as a shield against criticism than anything else and the way they portray demisexuality generally goes something like this:

The demisexual character has never heard of asexuality or demisexuality and is told this by an allosexual close to them (either their love interest or a close friend). The demisexual character loudly complains about there being too many labels or “why does it need a label anyway?” and demisexuality never comes up again. Meanwhile, the demisexual character is, predominantly, homoromantic and closeted and spend the rest of the story learning to embrace their identity as a queer person.

This is a narrative that explicitly presents demisexuality, and by extension the asexual spectrum as a whole, as dismissable and disposable. It explicitly and deliberately devalues asexual identities because “why does it need a label anyway?” and is, frankly, one of the most hurtful and harmful narratives about asexuality that I’ve encountered in fiction.

But, truthfully, this narrative doesn’t exist only in fiction. It’s a very common tactic among anti-ace rhetoric to cast the asexual spectrum as a ‘degree’ of allosexuality rather than an identity in its own right and to discredit asexuality in general because “it doesn’t exist as a separate thing” or whatever the argument of the month is. This fictitious demisexual narrative feeds directly into the idea that demisexuals are ‘special snowflakes’ who are just making terms up.

You may be wondering why I’m focusing on demisexual romances when I’m here to discuss a book featuring a queerplatonic relationship at its heart, and that’s because the way those romances end up presenting demisexuality and, by extension, the asexual spectrum as a whole had a major impact on how The Ice Princess’s Fair Illusion approaches the fact that Marian only learns about asexuality when she’s about seventeen.

When I wrote about Marian discovering asexuality, I wanted to engage with that narrative to at least some extent. Due to the structure of the novel, the discovery is represented at a remove and Marian has since settled into what she’s comfortable with, but it was important to show that a homoromantic asexual character could learn about asexuality and not dismiss it as unimportant. The Ice Princess’s Fair Illusion is, I hasten to add, not the first story to ever do that[1], but it was something that I actively wanted to address.

What I wanted to do in The Ice Princess’s Fair Illusion was, firstly, to show that it is possible for someone to use both labels, true, but more than that I wanted to explore that for some people, like Marian, if push comes to shove it’s the label asexual that matters to her most because, in her view, it is being asexual that has shaped her life and experiences the most.

In that way, it offered me the opportunity to explore some of the ways in which anti-ace rhetoric, which I spent the last two years wading through around Pride Month, has affected and hurt me. It was important to me that Marian and Edel use asexual and aromantic terminology to describe their experiences because, so often, we end up getting told that our vocabulary is useless nonsense (or worse), that it is oh so difficult to learn new terms, that the words we’ve created to describe our experiences because the words didn’t exist until we made them aren’t valid, that our experiences aren’t valid.

I don’t think I covered all of the words that I’d wanted to and I expect that some readers will find that I was too heavy on using them. (If that’s you, I hear you! I often feel similar! And I explicitly included a discussion between Marian and Edel covering exactly that!) When I wrote The Ice Princess’s Fair Illusion and figured out what kind of characters Marian and Edel were, I knew that I would end up covering aspects of asexual representation and the way asexuality gets dismissed as ‘made up’ by segments of (Western) society today, in the year 2018, and I couldn’t do that without attempting to partially invert ideas and narrative approaches that are being used, right now, to invalidate aces and aros.

So, to answer the question in the title, whose words matter anyway? Our words matter. Language is finicky and dependent, at least in part, on our understanding of the world around us. We create new words for existing things all the time, just as we create new words for new things all the time. Our words matter. The terms we come up with, the way we use them to self-identify, the way we use them to deny or acknowledge our existence matter.

And, honestly, I hope that readers will be able to see that, along with everything else that verse novel is to me, The Ice Princess’s Fair Illusion is also a celebration of language, a feast of identity-affirming words, an ode to the complexity and variety of (human) identity…

This is a book that I wrote for asexual and aromantic readers, for people who wanted to see their words, the words that matter to them, honoured and revelled in. Everyone else, I hope you’ll come along for the ride and pick up a thing or two about why these words matter so!

[1] Another example would be Calista Lynne’s We Awaken which is an asexual f/f romance where the main character also learns about asexuality and how it relates to them through the course of the story. Asexuality is never dismissed in favour of an allosexual identity in that book either.

The Ice Princess’s Fair Illusion releases November 6th, 2018! Preorder this queerplatonic, sapphic retelling of King Thrushbeard today! Get your gleefully and proudly asexual and aromantic verse novel with an f/f pairing while it’s still available at a preorder price of $1.99 or equivalent!

Become a Patron on Patreon!

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!

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This Week on Patreon (Week 42)

Posted October 19, 2018 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments

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My Patreon tends to be a fairly quiet place, but I wanted to share links to the posts that go up every week. In this case, I’m counting weeks from Saturday to Friday so anyone who wants to explore things during the weekend can do so.

Most of the posts are locked to patrons, though you’ll find at least one public post each month. Enjoy!

All-Patron Posts

5+ Patron Posts

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This Week on Patreon (Week 40+41)

Posted October 14, 2018 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments

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My Patreon tends to be a fairly quiet place, but I wanted to share the posts that go up every week. In this case, I’m counting weeks from Saturday to Friday so anyone who wants to explore things during the weekend can do so.

While most of my posts are locked to patrons, a lot of them will release to the public and get cross-posted to this website after a month as well. Those’ll be indicated with a little asterisk (*) behind them. It may not always be exactly a month because, for the sake of my poor brain, I’m counting a month as “that same number in the next month, except the 31st gets moved to the 30th”. Sometimes posts may also be posted simultaneously for everyone to read and sometimes posts may go up earlier because reasons that will be explained in that post.

I strive to find a balance between offering up a good amount of content to everyone for free, which Patrons get to experience a month before everyone else, and interesting extra content exclusive to Patrons. I hope you’ll find something interesting among the posts this week! Enjoy!

Public Posts

All-Patron Posts

5+ Patron Posts

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13 Dos and Don’ts for Ace and Aro Panels and Talks

Posted October 10, 2018 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments

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13 Dos and Don'ts for Ace and Aro Panels and Talks

~1,600 words

This month, I’ve got another free short essay for everyone. Based on my experience discussing asexuality and aromanticism and with encountering ace and aro panels online in various ways (which frequently, to be honest, does not inspire me to want to attend any since they often all seem to replicate the same basic issues), I’ve compiled a general lits of Dos and Don’ts. You can probably apply them to more topics than asexuality and aromanticism and more types of content than talks or panels.

This essay on Patreon. Enjoy!

13 Dos and Don’ts for Ace and Aro Panels and Talks

For the science fiction and fantasy community, summer tends to be award season, and award season means high-profile conventions. While I rarely have the opportunity to attend any, I do always enjoy seeing what gets discussed by looking at the programming. For the past few years, I’ve noticed an uptick on panels discussing asexuality (and through conflation aromanticism) and, I’ll be honest, have only rarely been impressed by what I’ve seen or heard about them.

This year, I ran into a couple that were just actively painful to read through or hear about, so I wanted to compile a brief post on some dos and don’ts to help anyone planning a panel on asexuality and aromanticism present, well, a better panel that will achieve what you set out to do.

So how do you set up a panel about asexuality and aromanticism? What are some of the things to keep in mind when working on creating an inclusive, welcoming panel? Here are some of the dos and don’ts of discussing ace and aro representation.

DO host an Asexuality and Aromanticism 101 panel if that’s what you feel the convention needs. You’ll get complains from aces and aros who are having more advanced discussions, but the truth is that a lot of people still need that 101 discussion and panels at conventions are a great way to introduce asexuality and aromanticism to people. There is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to present a 101 conversation about asexuality and aromanticism. Just be aware that if you’re going for this kind of conversation, you need to make sure you’re covering the basics properly. If you pay attention to the others dos and don’ts, you’ll end up with a fantastic and informative panel that will allow people who need the introduction to start figuring out more.

DON’T conflate aromanticism and asexuality. Though there’s overlap, these are two different communities and, more importantly, two different orientation spectrums. Asexuality is a sexual orientation; aromanticism is a romantic orientation. These two identities are not interchangeable and if you want to host a panel on asexuality that conflates it with aromanticism, you end up erasing and hurting about half of the people you’re trying to reach. This conflation is extremely common, especially in 101 discussions, and simply making sure you and panellists acknowledge the difference will go a very long way towards creating an inclusive, welcoming panel.

DO include aromanticism in your panel’s title if you want to discuss both asexuality and aromanticism. Relatedly, if a convention uses a system that lets them tag programme items with keywords, please ask them to include aromanticism as a tag. It may seem like a small thing, but simply acknowledging aromanticism as a separate identity this way will put a lot of wary people at ease.

DON’T sandwich aromanticism in between different identities on the asexual spectrum. (Or, vice versa.) These are two different orientations and identities, so please do not present them in such a conflated manner. By presenting the identities this way, even though you’re probably simply listing them in the order you think of them, you’re perpetuating the idea that these terms are interchangeable.

DO organise topics at your comfort level. I started this by saying it’s okay to host introductory panels. It is likewise okay to host ones that are more advanced. And just like there are a lot of people who want to go to the 101 panels to begin learning about asexuality and aromanticism, there are plenty of people who’ll want to see something more advanced. It’s your panel, so if you’ve got a topic you want to discuss, go for it!

DON’T misspell orientations. Yes, that’s happened. Spelling can be a little bit dicey because different communities have different preferences. It isn’t just regional spelling differences (such as ‘grey’ vs ‘gray’), but there are also personal spelling preferences to take into account. If you’re not sure how to spell something, go with the global consensus. For example: it’s spelled “demisexual”, same as every other orientation ending in -sexual, not “demi-sexual” with a hyphen. The latter is still used as a way to discredit demisexuality as an orientation and serves as a red flag to people to suggest that your panel is unsafe for them.

DO let people know if your panel has aces and/or aros on it, if your panellists are comfortable with people knowing this. That last part is crucial. Don’t out your (fellow) panellists, so only do this if you have their permission to mention it. This will really help aces and aros who’ve been hurt by attending panels in the past feel safe attending. Having a panel about asexuality and/or aromanticism with no visible aces or aros on it is… kind of like having a discussion on the state of SFF in Europe filled with panellists from America. Those panellists mean well and they may know a great deal of really interesting information, but you end up silencing the voices you’re trying to uplift.

DON’T erase part of the spectrums in your descriptions. By that I don’t mean “make sure you mention every orientation specifically”, but “acknowledge that asexuality and aromanticism are spectrums”. Both ‘asexual’ and ‘aromantic’ are used as a specific identity on these spectrums and as an umbrella term for that spectrum, so make sure people can tell when you’re using it as an umbrella term! Some orientations (such as greysexuals) get virtually no representation in fiction since the bulk of the representation goes to asexuals and demisexuals. It’s okay if that means your panel leans towards covering more frequently encountered aspects of asexuality or aromanticism. It’s just a matter of acknowledging that the spectrums are wider and larger than your topic covers and making people feel welcome because you acknowledged they exist.

DO look up (and read!) some recent ace and aro representation titles before your panel. If you have the time, try to get a general feel of what ace and aro readers think of it as well. Yes, this is important even if you’re ace and/or aro yourself. Your feelings are not indicative of the community as a whole and understanding where people’s opinions differ from yours will help make your discussion of these books stronger.

DON’T rely on the visibility of a handful of well-known titles to discuss the state of asexual and aromantic representation in fiction. The bulk of ace and aro representation published today is published by small presses and indie authors, so be sure to take a look at those. (Claudie Arseneault’s AroAce Database is a very good starting point.) If you look at small presses and indie releases, you’ll be able to find a fair number of incredibly good books that could use the visibility boost. As a bonus, there is a very high chance that these are authors who are openly ace-spec or aro-spec themselves. Even if you don’t want to look at small presses or indie authors, look beyond the handful that everyone’s heard about. Give yourself half an hour to google titles and I’m sure you’ll find some lesser known mainstream titles to discuss or mention on your panel.

DO try to collect a list of the books you (and your fellow panellists) mention and make it available online. It’s okay if this doesn’t turn out to be an exact match to what was said, but the effort will be incredibly appreciated by readers looking for these books. Not everyone will be able to attend your panel and you can’t rely on having an audience member livetweeting your recommendations for others to find. If you compile a recommendations list yourself, though, and make sure it’s easily found online, you’ll increase the chances that your recommendations will do what you want them to: get people to explore those books.

DON’T go about recommending books that you don’t stand behind because they’re popular and it’s the done thing. People will be able to tell when your recommendations are insincere. If you genuinely hated the representation in a book where seemingly everyone else loved it, it’s okay not to recommend it at all. It’s (probably) also okay to add warnings to someone else’s recommendations so people can make informed choices.

DO trust people to know what will or won’t hurt them. If you’re asexual and/or aromantic and absolutely loved the representation in a book the majority seems to hate, you’re allowed to discuss or recommend it based on your experience. It’s not less valid because it’s different. Just, if you’re in this situation, try to give people all appropriate warnings and caveats, so they can make an informed choice. Don’t rely on others to do that for you.

These last two points really revolve around one key thing to keep in mind when you’re looking for books to discuss or recommend on your panel: Asexuality and aromanticism are not monoliths and what hurt you may be what someone else needs and what you desperately needed may do someone else a great deal of harm. Keep that difference in mind and make sure your audience has the tools to make educated decisions about the books you’re discussing or recommending. You don’t know what will or won’t hurt them. They do.

And that’s it! These 13 points should give you a pretty solid foundation for setting up a talk or a panel on asexuality and/or aromanticism. Keep these points in mind and you’ll be able to cover any topic whilst appealing to people at various levels of understanding of the issues faced by aces and aros. I hope you’ll have fun setting up your talk or panel and, who knows, hopefully one day I’ll get to attend it and congratulate you on an amazing panel!

Become a Patron on Patreon!

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!

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