Amendments to Witcheskin

I wanted to write a blog post about this, because since Witcheskin has been re-released, I decided to make some amendments based on what I’ve heard people saying in reviews. I want to reiterate that I don’t read reviews unless someone points me to them directly, mainly for my own mental health. I got asked directly by my PR manager as someone had asked whether I would make these amendments, so I want to talk about what’s been changed and why I changed it.

Mentions of ‘donkey’ or ‘donkey lashes’
I explained about this in a previous post some time ago. I chose not to change this for a long time because I felt that people weren’t understanding the language I had used. The characters I write use a lot of colloquial British language, slang and regional dialect, and the phrase ‘donkey lashes’ is one of those phrases commonly used where I come from. I think some people misinterpreted it as a racist slur, which is absolutely not what was meant by that. The thought that anyone would think I would write something horrible about a character I love so much makes me incredibly sad, especially since the phrase ‘donkey lashes’ is in fact a very nice compliment!

I decided to check with someone I know, who comes from Syria, about whether comparing someone to a donkey is an offensive thing where he comes from. Of course, Syria is only a small part of the Middle East, but he is Muslim and was raised in Muslim society. When I asked him about it, he actually laughed at me. He said that it’s no different to calling someone an ass, or an idiot, in English language, and that ‘donkey lashes’ isn’t a phrase he’d heard of before. When I explained it to him, he said that he did not think it was offensive. Of course, this is just one person’s opinion, just as finding the phrase offensive is another person’s opinion.

I decided to amend the book and remove the phrases because I love Maredudd; he’s very important to me, and I also think Owen would be horrified if anyone ever thought he would say something cruel about him. I think sometimes people assume that American English is the only version of English out there; ironic, considering British English is the original English, but there it is. There is a lot of British language that American speakers don’t recognise or understand, and also that non-native British speakers don’t recognise either. There’s even misunderstanding between British people from different localities! It’s a sad world when readers won’t make any attempt to understand slang or dialect (from any language, not just English) they’ve never seen before and instantly jump straight to being offended by it.

Of course, I want the message in my writing to be clear, so amending that erases any possibility that someone would misunderstand what Owen was saying about Maredudd.

Owen’s conversation about Wenda’s poly relationship
Okay, so this one actually made me chuckle quite a bit because I am actually poly myself and I live in a triad with my two partners. When I wrote this part of the story, I never thought that it would be interpreted that Owen is disgusted by Wenda’s poly relationship with Evan and Geraint. Reading it back to myself, I can see how that might be construed, so I decided to add in an extra sentence to make it clear that it’s actually Geraint that Owen is disgusted by, not the poly aspect! Owen doesn’t like that Wenda is dating Geraint, because Geraint is always nasty towards him, and imagining his father being in a relationship with the person who keeps hurling transphobic abuse at him makes Owen feel very uneasy. I hope that the additional sentence will make that clearer.

I want to write some more stories in future with poly relationships in them, since this is something I haven’t written about in detail just yet, but is a major part of my life.

Maredudd saying Morcant is not his real father
I chose not to amend this, because this is something that is quite close to me, and I think ultimately Maredudd’s words are his to speak about his relationship with Morcant. I can understand where someone is coming from when they say that saying an adoptive parent is not someone’s real parent can undermine the relationship between the non-bio parent and child. My children aren’t genetically mine; biologically, I had nothing to do with their conception. Does that mean that I’m not their ‘real dad’? Of course I’m their father, and kids will use ‘real’ in a less nuanced way to adults. But, coming from a family where one of my parents and their sibling was adopted, I’ve seen a different aspect of what it means to not be related to your family members. I learned as an older child that the grandparents I adored were not genetically related to me, and it totally changed how I viewed the world.

I’m not going to talk in detail about my parent and their experience with being adopted since it’s not my story to tell, but I will talk about my experience with that. I knew my biological grandmother, saw her regularly as a child, but I knew her as some kind of additional auntie or family friend and never understood who she was to me. I think my parent always needed to know who their biological parents were, and I think that’s something many adopted people go through. I also think calling someone your ‘real parent’ is no different to saying your ‘biological parent’; it’s just a turn of phrase.

I do feel that some people have an idea of how adoption and non-bio parenting should be portrayed in fiction, but in the real world it doesn’t always work that way. Many adopted people still see their bio parents as their ‘real parents’ and that’s just how it is. Maredudd knows that Morcant isn’t his biological father, and although he accepts that he will probably never see them, Maredudd thinks that his bio parents might still be out there.

This is just my opinion, based on my experiences, and in a way, those experiences are a part of Maredudd too, but that is why I decided not to change this part.

So, I actually ended up writing a lot more than I originally intended haha, but I suppose that’s a good thing since I realised I had more to say on the matter than I first thought! Sorry if some of it is a little meandering or doesn’t make sense; at the time of writing, I have quite a bad headache (obviously I’ve been playing too many video games). These amendments were made a week or two ago, so any copies sold from now on will have them. Obviously, if you acquire an older hard copy or an LT3 edition, it will still contain the original manuscript.

Lunar Shadows Re-Release Tour!

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To celebrate the re-release of the Lunar Shadows series through JMS Books, B Proud PR is hosting a blog tour and book giveaway! Check out the participants below:

October 14th
Mirri Gold
Author Niamh Murphy
Kinzie Things
B Proud PR

October 15th
Love Bytes Reviews
Books, Tattoos & Tea

October 16th
Bayou Book Junkie
LGBTQ Reads (Guest Post)

October 17th
Book After Book
Small Queer, Big Opinions

October 18th
Roanna Sylver
Queer Books Unbound

October 22nd
Joyfully Jay (Guest Post)

You can enter the book giveaway here and be in to win e-copies of both Witcheskin and Rough Sleepers! 5 days and counting until the winners are chosen!

If you’d like to read more about the books in the Lunar Shadows universe, you can do so here. You can also read about the characters here.

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In regards to donkeys, language etc.

This weekend someone brought to my attention that I’ve made somewhat of a faux pas in my writing, which made me thoroughly embarrassed and spurred to me to check it out further. So this blog post is somewhat of an explanation/apology/Nem face-palming.

(I have not read or looked at wherever this was mentioned online as I make a point of not reading reviews for my work unless the reviewer sends it directly to me.)

I’ve been told it’s offensive to call someone a donkey in the Middle East and some folks have pointed this out in regards to Owen referring to Maredudd as ‘Donkey Lashes’ and saying he works hard like a donkey. This is where the curiosity of language comes into play. I went onto Google and did a little searching, which perhaps I should have done in the beginning, but even if I had, I’m not sure it would have saved me. I wasn’t able to find much that would be of help, but I’m not going to discount what I’ve been told.

Honestly, I wouldn’t have referred to Maredudd in such a way if I knew it might upset someone and also if I thought someone might think I held those views myself. I love Maredudd very much and I think Owen would be upset if he knew he might have said something to offend him too. I come from a place of knowing what it’s like to be insulted on a daily basis, I would never have written something to insult another person on purpose.

I want to talk a little about the phrase ‘Donkey Lashes’ and why it’s important to me as a British person. Owen uses it in the book as a term of endearment, and it’s one that I have often used for my wife, so when I wrote it, I meant it in an entirely affectionate manner. Being vegan, I am also very fond of farm animals, in particular donkeys and ponies. I’m not the only one who has used it in a complimentary way:

https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Donkey%20Eyelashes

Thick eyelashes are very attractive! Also, working hard as a donkey is seen to be a trait of reliability, hardiness and attentiveness to one’s work in British language.

Most of all, what I wanted to say is, my intention here is to clear up any misunderstanding by explaining how I used to the word, but also to say that it was not my intention to offend anybody and for that I apologise. In my obsession with researching Welsh and West Country dialect, I neglected to look up Middle Eastern dialect too, so I suppose this is a learning experience for me and I’ll try better next time.

Release day!!!

Witcheskin has finally been released and is available in hard copy and ebook! I’m so thrilled that I can finally call myself a published author. It’s been a long but relatively easy-going process. Everyone the worked with me to prepare my manuscript for publication was so nice and friendly, and Aisha Akeju did such a beautiful cover for me. I feel so lucky to be where I am right now and to have what I have! It’s also reinforced the desire to write more books (well there’s a surprise!) and I’m about 4 – 5 scenes away from completing my third novel, The Things We Hide At Home.

The third book in the Lunar Shadows trilogy is undergoing multiple transformations so because of that it’s coming along quite slowly but I don’t feel in any need to rush really since Rough Sleepers hasn’t even been accepted for publication so all I can do is keep working. Owen’s return in the third book is both tragic and empowering and I have a really lovely ending planned for it. The only problem is figuring out what happens in the middle because at the moment it’s a total mess! It’s also the largest set of character I’ve ever written into a single book so it’s giving me a bit of a headache writing from one POV. Perhaps I might change it up and add a second POV but that will require a huge amount of editing.

On top of that, I’ve got another novel I’ve been planning for several months now which will be an enormous undertaking as it’s a fully fledged fantasy based on a story I wrote when I was a teen. Every time I think about it, it evolves more and more and is becoming a monster of a story. I am considering opening a Patreon creator page in case anyone wants to support me and receive monthly sneak peeks on my progress.

I hope everyone that orders a copy of my book enjoys it and falls in love with the characters just as I did when I wrote with them 🙂

Witcheskin Update

WitcheskinSm

I got an email today from my publisher with the cover of my novel and I am so excited! I think it looks fantastic and I can’t wait to see it in print. They said earlier this month that I would have the manuscript to work on soon too, to fingers crossed that it won’t be long before my work is published. I never thought this would be possible and I feel quite proud of myself. It makes me feel as though I could do anything if I set my mind to it.

I haven’t posted much lately because I’ve been taking some time away from writing to recoup my energy and figure out what I need to work on next. I am about halfway through the 3rd novel in the Lunar Shadows trilogy and also about halfway through another unrelated project I started working on too. I’ve got a handful of ideas for new stories but I have yet to decide which has taken my fancy. I know that I will need to finish Owen’s story before I can dedicate myself to anything new.

I will updated again soon when I next have news to report 🙂

Short Story: Mr Merrick

This is a short story I wrote this weekend. It links up to my novel ‘Witcheskin’ and I may start writing a second part to accompany it. I wanted to write some additional scenes with a couple of other characters linked to the characters in ‘Witcheskin’. This short story is set in the early 1970s, quite awhile before the events of the novel, and clears up some of the mystery behind one of the main characters. It also features another character whom I would like to write a full length novel about, but I have yet to plan a proper story line for him!

‘Mr Merrick’ begins on the next page…