Why Vegans Preach: A Defense

This is a post that has been weighing heavy on my heart for some time…

My new year’s resolution for this year was to do something about the injustices that bother me most in our country, something more than just talking about them. While it is not the only cause I chose to champion at the start of this year, animal welfare is the one people notice the most. I went vegetarian in January of this year, after a brief brush with vegetarianism several years ago that fell away while I was in college, and about a month later, I went completely vegan.

If you had asked me about vegans prior to becoming one myself, I probably would have said the things that now bother me so much. They’re preachy. They’re elitist. They think they’re better than everybody else. And while there are some vegans who do fit into this mold, I would have been largely mistaken. Most of them are quite well-intentioned.

I’ve been blessed to have friends and family who are largely supportive of my vegan choices, although some of them still don’t understand that this isn’t a phase or that I’ve chosen this path for ethical and not health reasons. But I’ve also learned to expect certain trolls on Facebook, and I’ve adjusted to the idea that there are always going to be people who think the whole thing is something to mock.

I’ve learned that you need to develop a thick skin, because a lot of people just don’t get it.

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Blood on the Leaves, Chapter 15 (Kaylin)

New to Blood on the Leaves? Start with Chapter One here.

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Kaylin Seirye sat crosslegged on her bed, one of the history books she had taken from the library propped open on her lap. It had been weeks since her conversation with Braern in the library, when he had told her she should search those books if she had any interest in learning what it was in Torrent’s history that the council wanted to keep her, Aerilaya, and Virien from learning. She had been poring over them since then, anxious to uncover whatever Braern was hinting at, but she had yet to find anything of interest that she hadn’t already learned during their studies. She had seen their tutor every day in class since the strange encounter, and though she kept trying to catch him alone, he always slipped out as soon as their classes were over, long before Virien and Aerilaya left. Kaylin was beginning to think Braern was serving the council, and that the cryptic conversation had been staged by Absolon as a means to try to catch her in some kind of disloyalty. The head councillor had never liked her, she was sure, and though she had thought she might have found a friend in Braern, it seemed she had been wrong. Continue reading

Blood on the Leaves, Chapter 14 (Markan)

New to Blood on the Leaves? Start with Chapter 1 here.

Markan and Arabella Celamine had been in Ryyka for three weeks before they finally saw Nicienne. They had tried to visit her much earlier, only a few days into their stay, but when they arrived at her quarters, she had refused to see them. They had hoped they might cross paths with her at the dinner table, but it didn’t take them long to learn that she was taking her meals in her quarters, and she had been since Kivessin’s death.

Markan was sorry for the loss. Nicienne’s husband had been a good match for her, and though his sister hadn’t been sure about the marriage when Bariban arranged it, she had grown fond of the man over time. She might not have loved him the way she loved the merchant’s son she had been seeing, the one who led her father to arrange the marriage in the first place, but Kivessin had been kind and patient with her, and eventually he had worn her down. Continue reading

On Writing Believable Women

I wish I could put my finger on the reason why female characters are so challenging. It doesn’t seem that they should be, especially for a female author, and yet they are far more difficult to write than men, particularly within the high fantasy genre, where the setting, culture, and expectations for women might be different from those in our own world.

I have an opinion on female characters, and it’s that I’m not really interested in reading about yet another outrageously strong woman who’s raging against societal norms. We all know that character, because we see her everywhere. She’s just one of the boys, she doesn’t want to get married, she has a sharp tongue, and she’s wicked smart. I enjoyed those female characters when I was a teenager, and I could possibly be persuaded to believe they have their place in young adult literature, when so many female readers are in a place where they need to feel empowered. Overall, though, I’m not that interested in that particular character. (But that’s just me. I think people need to write and read what they want and what they enjoy, and if those kinds of characters are the ticket, then by all means, press on.)

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On Feeling Unsupported

Let’s be real — writing is not for the faint of heart.

I’ve said that once before, because I think it takes a certain emotional vulnerability to write convincing characters, but I’m not talking about the bravery involved in putting words on a page. I’m talking about what happens afterwards. You have hundreds of pages filled with thousands and thousands of words, you’re feeling so accomplished and proud of yourself for creating something that feels so deeply real to you, and you’re just aching for somebody else to read it and see the same value in it that you do.

And nobody cares.

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Blood on the Leaves, Chapter 13 (Renn)

New to Blood on the Leaves? Start with Chapter 1 here.

It wasn’t often that Renn Monarc received a summons from Mordren requesting his company in the bowels of Markorl where the wizards used to perform their magical experimentation, so when he woke up to the parchment on his bedside table, he was surprised. Mordren spent a great deal of time in the lower levels, but he usually wasn’t working on anything directly related to their conquests in the mainlands, and so Renn wasn’t privy to his endeavors. Experimentation and research filled the same role in Mordren’s life as hunting did in Renn’s, a way to pass the time in hopes that the ghosts haunting them wouldn’t speak, so Renn never asked to follow him. But now that he had received an invitation, he had to admit, he was intrigued. He dressed quickly, fastened his snowcat cloak across his shoulders, the daily reminder of his sins, and left to find the wizard.

As he stepped into the hall and found Jaleesa and Kippen waiting for him, his interest dwindled a touch. Continue reading

On Point of View and Voice

When I started writing, I wrote in third person omniscient, because it seemed easiest and I liked the freedom. I could zip into this person’s thoughts at one moment and say with certainty what was happening there, and then I could zoom out to another character in a different country without changing voice or breaking form.

I think when you’re starting as a writer, third person omniscient is easiest to manage. I’m not saying that means anybody off the street can do it well, or that I was doing it well, because there’s a certain finesse to it that needs to be mastered so it isn’t jarring to the reader. Sometimes, when the narrator knows everything, it’s hard to know where to draw the line on communicating that information to the reader. It’s also hard to draw the line on “head hopping”, jumping between one character’s thoughts to another until the scene is a confusing jumble of perspectives. I struggled with the infectious disease of “too much information” in my novels for a while, and in truth, even after writing twelve in that POV, I know I wasn’t close to having it mastered.

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