Category: Miscellaneous

Ace Recs: 3 Science Fiction Books with Asexual Characters

Posted December 10, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments

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Ace Recs: 3 Science Fiction Books with Asexual Characters

As is undoubtedly no surprise to anyone who’s heard of me, I really really love giving recommendations for books featuring asexual characters. As a reader and writer on the asexual spectrum, this is a topic near and dear to my heart. I’ve seen plenty of recommendations lists that are about asexual characters or that include asexual characters that repeat the same books over and over. Indeed, I’ve seen recommendations lists that explicitly stated that the handful of books the writer managed to find was all the asexual fiction out there. Considering it was missing several easy-to-find well-known and traditionally published books by respected authors… I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

But it is true that, for many readers, books with asexual characters in them are difficult to find. Many aren’t readily available in bookstores even when they’re pretty popular and well-respected. When I was in Cambridge, I saw displays of several books nominated for the Hugo Awards because they were nominated for the Hugo Awards, but Every Heart a Doorway? Couldn’t find a single copy anywhere. Not on display and not on the shelves. They didn’t stock it. And I wish I could say it was just one bookstore, but it was every major chain I visited. Likewise, in libraries you’ll have more luck finding books featuring asexual characters if you already know the titles before you enter. In both cases, you’ll probably have to ask the staff to order a copy specifically, so venturing into bookshops or libraries and hoping to find books featuring asexual characters just isn’t likely to happen.

Especially in combination with the way recommendation lists for books with asexual representation are usually styled, this difficulty to find books if you don’t already know they exist feeds into a negative spiral where recommendations lists repeat the same books over and over with the same note that this is all there is or this is all the writer could find. Yet there is so much more available to readers…

This is a series that aims to present small lists of books featuring asexual characters with some brief personal commentary on the books. Each list consists of 3 books centred around a single, relatively broad theme. While, sadly, I have had to restrict my recommendations lists to 3 books instead of the more usual 5 found in recommendations lists, each list does consist of 3 unique books. There are no repeats of titles in this series of recommendation posts. This series consists of 10 posts for a total of 30 books featuring asexual characters in various roles.

Unless otherwise noted, assume that books mentioned either seem to assume all asexuals are aromantic or that they’ll erase aromanticism altogether.

I hope you’ll find something terrific to read in these lists! Most all categories have more than three books I could put there, but as I mentioned I only had space for a handful of books or stories. If you’d like to see even more of then, check out Claudie Arseneault’s database of aromantic and asexual (speculative) fiction, which features many more books starring asexual characters!

This week’s theme is…

3 Science Fiction Books with Asexual Characters

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Ace Recs: 3 Books with Asexual Characters Associated with Death

Posted December 3, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments

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Ace Recs: 3 Books with Asexual Characters Associated with Death

As is undoubtedly no surprise to anyone who’s heard of me, I really really love giving recommendations for books featuring asexual characters. As a reader and writer on the asexual spectrum, this is a topic near and dear to my heart. I’ve seen plenty of recommendations lists that are about asexual characters or that include asexual characters that repeat the same books over and over. Indeed, I’ve seen recommendations lists that explicitly stated that the handful of books the writer managed to find was all the asexual fiction out there. Considering it was missing several easy-to-find well-known and traditionally published books by respected authors… I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

But it is true that, for many readers, books with asexual characters in them are difficult to find. Many aren’t readily available in bookstores even when they’re pretty popular and well-respected. When I was in Cambridge, I saw displays of several books nominated for the Hugo Awards because they were nominated for the Hugo Awards, but Every Heart a Doorway? Couldn’t find a single copy anywhere. Not on display and not on the shelves. They didn’t stock it. And I wish I could say it was just one bookstore, but it was every major chain I visited. Likewise, in libraries you’ll have more luck finding books featuring asexual characters if you already know the titles before you enter. In both cases, you’ll probably have to ask the staff to order a copy specifically, so venturing into bookshops or libraries and hoping to find books featuring asexual characters just isn’t likely to happen.

Especially in combination with the way recommendation lists for books with asexual representation are usually styled, this difficulty to find books if you don’t already know they exist feeds into a negative spiral where recommendations lists repeat the same books over and over with the same note that this is all there is or this is all the writer could find. Yet there is so much more available to readers…

This is a series that aims to present small lists of books featuring asexual characters with some brief personal commentary on the books. Please note this does not equal endorsement. The aim is to introduce you to books you might find interesting, not books I think you must absolutely read. Each list consists of 3 books centred around a single, relatively broad theme. While, sadly, I have had to restrict my recommendations lists to 3 books instead of the more usual 5 found in recommendations lists, each list does consist of 3 unique books. There are no repeats of titles in this series of recommendation posts. This series consists of 10 posts for a total of 30 books featuring asexual characters in various roles.

Unless otherwise noted, assume that books mentioned either seem to assume all asexuals are aromantic or that they’ll erase aromanticism altogether.

I hope you’ll find something terrific to read in these lists! Most all categories have more than three books I could put there, but as I mentioned I only had space for a handful of books or stories. If you’d like to see even more of then, check out Claudie Arseneault’s database of aromantic and asexual (speculative) fiction, which features many more books starring asexual characters!

This week’s theme is…

3 Books with Asexual Characters Associated with Death

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Happy Aces in Fiction

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

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Stoat pupping up from a hole in the ground.

Did someone say “Stories with happy asexual characters not in any way associated with death?”

Hi! Let’s make a list! It’ll be relatively short, but that’s partially because I’m taking a veeeeeery broad view on “associated with death”, which basically means “Does death play a big part in the ace’s life over the course of the story told herein? Yes? No, you don’t get to be on this list”. Like I said. It is veeeeeeeeeeeeeeeery broad.

Due to my reading diet, the vast majority of these books are some flavour of speculative fiction and predominantly indie. There’s, like, one that’s straight-up contemporary romance and that’s it? (Like, there are more contemporary books I’ve read, but look I’m not listing you a suicidally depressed ace spec character who spends most of the book struggling with depression on a list about happy aces. IDC if he ends up happy at the end.)

Let’s start!

City of Strife/City of Betrayal by Claudie Arseneault

CAL IS THE PUREST, LOVELIEST HAPPIEST CINNAMON ROLL IN THE WORLD. Seriously. Are you looking for happy (aro)aces not at all associated with death? YOU NEED CAL IN YOUR LIFE LIKE LAST YEAR, TRUST ME. He is the happiest, preciousest, liveliest, sweetest ace in fiction EVER.

As you’d expect from a character who’s literally written to counteract these particular ace tropes. Don’t believe me? Believe Claudie. She said so!

Also, he’s not the only aro or ace character in this trilogy (of which currently only the first 2 books have been published), so if you’re looking for a series that has more than one ace not associated with death (happiness may not occur until the end of book 3, though), you need to get on this series asap because it has them. In spades. (PUN TOTALLY NOT INTENDED BUT I’M KEEPING IT.)

These Isandor books also come with bonus “Everyone but the main antagonist is some flavour of queer”.

27 Hours by Tristina Wright

You can quibble about the death-associations with this one a little since everyone is trained to kill and Braeden does actually kill several people throughout the novel. Also happy may be a bit of a stretch by the end of it, seeing how action-packed and battle-focused it is. But, you know what? Braeden is pretty comfy with himself and being ace and… Look, I’ll honest. While I like Braeden as a character, I didn’t like the stereotype-upon-stereotype portrayal (for a variety of reasons; check back in December for my complete thoughts!), but I adore him even so. The only reason he’s not a happy death-unassociated ace is because pretty much no one in the book is either happy or death-unassociated, so it balances out for me. It may not for you and that’s totally fine.

The Goose Girl by Robin Gallica

(TW: Transphobia such as deadnaming)

Okay, so the ace-content in this one is… very subtle, and see above for additional warnings, but. Ava is absolutely 100% not dead or associated with death and she is, all in all, pretty darned happy with the way her life turns out.

A Courtship of Dragons by Becca Lusher

This is a romance story, so it is aaaaaaaaaaaall about demisexual Mastekh and allosexual Estenarven getting together and finding happiness. Again, the ace-content is very subtle in this one (which breaks my heart), but happy ace dragon! Oh. Yeah. He’s a dragon. They both are. The title is kind of a giveaway WHEN DO ACES GET TO BE ACTUAL DRAGONS, I ASK YOU?!

That said, you may very well want to read Blazing Dawn first because this is set during events in that time and presumes you know what’s going on and who everyone is.

Sea Foam and Silence by Lynn E. O’Connacht

That’s me! This is a verse novel retelling of The Little Mermaid that is an ace romance featuring one demiromantic ace and one aromantic ace. And also a homoromantic allosexual. I wrote it because… Well, basically I just wanted a happy, fluffy, gentle ace romance that was for me. So I wrote it! And I’m happy to hear readers like it for the same reasons too!

There is some death involved here, though. I mean, our little adventurous mermaid is a carnivorious sea creature that considers humans a good meal when the story begins. But also she wonders how sentient humans actually are, so she goes off to investigate and yeah. But that’s it. Otherwise she’s reeeeaaally bubbly and cheerful and her basic response to everything is, uh, think Tangled‘s Rapunzel when everything is neeeeew and awesome? Like she is that kind of happy, bubbly, sees-no-evil, cheerful, optimistic sweetness.

Bernhard, our prince, is aroace and also adorbs. He’s quiet and sweet and I would 100% give him all the hugs if he weren’t touch-averse. But he is, so don’t hug him, please. Just go sit in a nice artistic spot and let him sketch you instead.

Dreamhearth by M.C.A. Hogarth

CW: Vasiht’h’s asexuality is the cause of genetic engineering and Jahir’s sexuality is actually supersupersuperrepressed.

Technically, this is the third book in a quartet, but this is the first one that 100% does not feature Jahir or Vasiht’h being all that closely involved with death. They’re therapists. Mindline (the second book) features Jahir working in a hospital and dealing with death and Mindtouch has a strong subplot with terminally ill children, so I’ve opted to focus on this one.

I did tell you that I was taking a very broad definition of “associated with death”. That includes “books in which death plays a significant part in the narrative even if it is not directly linked to the ace characters”. I have masses and masses of fondness for the first two books because they were the first I read that features a QPR at its heart.

Dreamhearth is all about Jahir and Vasiht’h starting up their practice after graduation and building an adult life together. It is soft and sweet and gentle and it makes me very happy. There are books that focus on aces just having lives and being happy and finding ways to be part of communities. Also, Vasiht’h is sort of like Cal in that he is a super-friendly, people-loving ace character and he has ALL THE FAMILY TIES (which are a major, major factor in this book, btw) and. Just. Look. Healthy and happy family relationships for the ace characters. I want.

All Note Long by Annabeth Albert

CW: Homophobic slurs and anti-sex worker comments.

You know. In case you didn’t want to have only SFF aces. Have a contemporary romance demisexual, finding happiness and getting drawn more into society again. It is… not really my kind of book (notably: I really disliked how Michelin’s demisexuality was brought up once by Lucky and then never again by anyone), but happy ace spec character is happy and this book is 100% death-free.

Viral Airwaves by Claudie Arseneault

Henry is heteroromantic asexual! And he loves noodles and is basically like Bilbo Baggins except with a hot air balloon. The ace-content in this one is pretty light again and because it’s a story about regime-toppling and people making the world a better place through tackling corruption, the book as a whole is not free of death, but by and large not in relationship to Henry. Henry mostly just wants to live his life and eat noodles and he’s just there to help his friends.

Also Hot Air Balloon and dreams coming true.

Fourth World by Lyssa Chiavari

This is a science fiction YA featuring not one but TWO ace spec leads! Also uses on page labels for one of them. I have high hopes that labels will follow for the other in book 2 because there are reasons why they don’t appear on page in this one. It is an EPIC science fiction adventure that involves time travel and creepy governments and learning to stand up for yourself and mysteries that have to be discovered.

Also no deaths at all. Well, some presumed deaths, but you’ll see what I mean when you read it. I wouldn’t want to spoil the fun.

The Second Mango by Shira Glassman

Okay, you know, like with 27 Hours, Rivka is a warrior trained to fight. She’s sort-of death adjacent in that sense, but I don’t think I recall ever seeing her kill on page. (I may be misremembering.) But Rivka is a kick-ass demisexual warrior lady who becomes besties with nerdy, lesbian queen Shulamit (whom, I admit, I love even more). This is the first book in a series, featuring both Rivka and Shulamit getting a happy ending and becoming chosen family and besties. Rivka is a major part in most all of the subsequent books, so technically you get four books for the listing of one! But this is the one where her demisexuality is most prominent and also it’s the first book in the series, so I figured I’d just list this one.

Cantor for Pearls by M.C.A. Hogarth

CW: One of the four genders uses “it” as its pronoun.

This is, technically, the sequel to Thief of Song and you may want to read that first, but you don’t have to have to. This stands on its own pretty well and is basically marketed as an asexual romance because Always Falling is asexual. It’s been way too long since I read this, but I adore Always Falling and stories wherein aces get to live happy lives with a community and/or family around them to support them and, okay, so Always Falling has some family troubles that need sorting, but in the end it is happy supportive families and communities and yeah. *happy sigh*

The Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan

This one features an asexual secondary character. Natalie doesn’t get too much screen-time, so you may want to pass on it because she’s not in the novel all that often, but she’s an engineer (who is kick-ass at maths) and she’s brave and adventurous and look. She joins Isabella Trent (then still Isabella Camherst) in travelling to foreign lands to study dragons in a pseudo!Victorian period where her options would otherwise be marriage or, uh, marriage.

Did I mention that Natalie is studying flight mechanics so she can get humans to experience flight? ’cause she is. She’s resourceful and smart and I really really really really wish we’d seen a bit more of her than we did.

Also: No death associations of any kind for Natalie. I know you’re probably not expecting there to be given that that’s the whole point of this list, but I figured I would make it absolutely clear.

The Traitor’s Tunnel by C.M. Spivey

A novella! Featuring an asexual MC who is already in a happy relationship at the start of the story. Theo just wants to be an awesome architect/engineer and he gets caught up in plots that are threatening everything he cares about: the city he’s studying in, his family, the kingdom the city is in, the people… Yeah, no, okay, the people is probably a given.

But he is sweet and generous and not a fighter like his sister (who is allosexual) knows how to be and he does his best, but he doesn’t do aaaaaanything even vaguely associated with death from what I recall and he is just precious and if you want happy aces, he starts off happy at the beginning, then plot happens but he still has all that made him happy, and he continues to have them (and more!) at the end. HAPPY ACES HAVING GOOD, HAPPY LIVES ARE MY JAM.

The Mystic Marriage by Heather Rose Jones

Alt!historical fantasy with an f/f ace couple! This book is aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaall about the SUPERSUBTLE BLINK AND YOU MISS IT romance starring a demisexual lead. Also alchemy. And political intrigue. And being various flavours of queer in a historical queer-unfriendly setting.

If you’re looking for historical fiction featuring aces (and aces getting happy endings), give it a go. It’s low fantasy, so most of the time you know it’s not actual historical fiction largely because of the setting being clearly fictional and not Actual Europe.

And there you go! 14 asexual characters who get to live happy lives and are totally (or mostly) not-death-associated in any way and certainly not in any stereotypical way. Happy reading!

 

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Round-up: Posts I’ve Made about Asexuality (in Fiction)

Posted October 25, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments

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Due to a mix of being really busy and having some offline life family emergencies last week (things have been steadily improving, but it was still a massive scare), I’ve elected to largely sit out talking about (my) asexuality this Ace Awareness Week because I’m just… not in a state of mind to deal with amisics like I most likely would. 🙁

Instead, I’ve been working hard on drafting an essay that looks at asexual representation in mainstream SFF over the past week and I’ve been diligently focusing my reading on those books on that list that I haven’t yet read. Which means that, behind the scenes, I’m actually doing a fair amount of talking about asexuality! And then I recalled I had at least one review with ace rep go live this week and I was drafting several others and it struck me. I may not feel up to writing something entirely new for public consumption (I have thoughts about discussing the ace rep in DemiPrincess and Promises.), I can make a list of stuff I’ve done in the past. Especially since a lot of it’s discussing books with asexual characters in them and focusing on the kind of asexual representation found in them.

So here, I am! With a list! I hope you’ll find something useful to read among them. Or at least that you’ll find the way I discuss the representation and the way that changes of interest.

Writing: aka Behind-the-Scenes, bonus stories and excerpts (usually DemiPrincess1)!

Essayage or general nonfiction talking

Note: All of these are Patreon-posts and the vast majority of them are locked. 1$ per month sees you gain access to them and supporting me doing more of this work, though!

Reviews/Book Discussions

Note: I’ve elected to include only those books I either picked up because of the asexual representation, which means most reviews are from late 2016 and this year, so don’t be surprised if you find that I’ve talked about a book with ace spec characters and it’s not in this list! It’s not meant to be exhaustive. Just cover the books where I’ve been talking about asexuality.

Other Notable Posts from the Blog

That… uh… was more than I was expecting and yet it feels like far too little. And also incomplete. But these are already a lot of links. So hopefully it is a useful overview/resource of what I’ve been saying over the years.

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September 2017 Round-up

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

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August 2017 Round-up

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

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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

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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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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

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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

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