Tag Archives: YA fantasy

Writing Jenna as Bi – Plus 4 Tips for Writing a Bisexual Character

(Warning… spoilers for the romance subplot of Fractured Skies ahead.)

Fractured Skies - Book Cover

In the first Distant Horizon book, we don’t see much romance on behalf of the main character, Jenna. What little we do see is extremely slow burn.

It makes sense.

Having just been plunged into a world of super powers, rebellions, and a world government trying to capture her, Jenna simply isn’t interested in pursuing a romantic relationship.

There’s not enough time, and she has other things to worry about.

So the first book gets by with a few hints to Jenna and Lance possibly liking each other, but not much else.

Then, we get to Fractured Skies, and things begin to change. Not only do we see a romance subplot begin to develop, the course of that plot takes a slightly unexpected turn with the introduction of a new character.

Originally, Isaac and I planned for Jenna to go with Lance. After all, Lance is her best friend, they’ve been trying to save the world together, he likes her, and she sees him as a potentially practical partner. (And everyone else seems to think they’re already dating).

Problem is… they have rather different world views and life goals.

Lance wants to dismantle the Community and establish a world with new freedoms.

Jenna wants to keep the Community but make a few select changes… namely, no more beast transformations.

As the story proceeded in the rough draft, two things became very clear:

  1. Jenna likes Lance as a friend, but they have very different ideas of what they want.
  2. Jenna has a whole lot more chemistry with Lily, and they work really well together.

Sometimes our characters surprise us.

Either we can rewrite their goals and motivations to push them toward our original plan, or we can go with the flow and see what happens.

So, during one of the final major revision passes, I rewrote scenes between her, Lance, and Lily, with more of a push for Jenna expressing interest in Lily, while exaggerating the differences between her and Lance.

It worked.

Suddenly we had a romance plot we were actually interested in, and the tension between Lance and Jenna allowed for more character development and exploration of the differences in points of view–something this series really likes to explore.

Now, as a caveat, we tried to make sure that Jenna’s interest in Lily didn’t come out of the blue. Aside from building up a slow burn interest in Fractured Skies, early on in the series we had an idea that Jenna was bi, though the first book really didn’t present many opportunities for her to show that, and we were still expecting her to show interest in Lance.

One problem with writing a bi character, especially one who isn’t particularly romance- or sex-focused, is that they don’t always make that interest clear very quickly, which can lead to readers think they’re heterosexual, gay/lesbian, or asexual, depending on what is initially presented.

For Jenna, there is a teensy-tiny hint of her bisexuality in the first book (when she first meets Lady Black), but there wasn’t really a need to bring up her preferences at that point in time.

Romance and sex isn’t at the top of her list of things that are important–especially when she thinks she’s infected with a hallucinogenic plague and a person claiming to be her grandfather just tried to abduct her.

Segment from Distant Horizon, the first hint that she’s bisexual, though her reaction could be fairly easily attributed to Lady Black’s persuasion power or that she’s simply trying to calm Jenna down after the incident:

“Relax,” Lady Black crooned, brushing my cheek with her gloved hand. “You’ll do fine.”

As much as I wanted to pull away from her touch, I closed my eyes. She was safe. I wanted her to stay with me, to protect me from the old man and theophrenia. Her touch was comforting and secure…

“Trust me,” she whispered.

I smiled and swayed, dizzy with warmth. Of course I trusted her. She was an international leader. Why wouldn’t I trust her?

Ivan shooed the other students from the scene. “Thank you, my lady. Commander. The Community is safe.” He looked to me. “Why don’t you go inside? You’ll feel better in the morning.”

I murmured affirmation. Lady Black kissed my forehead and stroked her hand through my hair. “Yes, Miss Nickleson. Come along. Perhaps I could keep you company until your nerves have settled?”

My cheeks warmed, but Commander Rick cleared his throat. The lady pouted at him, then whispered goodnight and returned to the path beside him. Together they disappeared into a cluster of Special Forces agents who walked them through the courtyard.

The cues are subtle, which was intentional since we didn’t want readers to expect a romance-heavy plot this early in the series.

But once things start going back to (relatively) normal by the time we get to Fractured Skies, the idea of dating, of finding someone to share the same life experiences and who has the same sort of mentality Jenna does… that option opens up.

And certain characters clicked.

Things to keep in mind when writing a bi character:

  • Just because they’re bisexual doesn’t mean they’re going to find everyone attractive.
    • Even if you’re heterosexual, do you find every man or woman attractive? No? Same thing with being bi.

Jenna occasionally shows attraction to Lance as well as to Lily. But she doesn’t notice everyone in terms of attractiveness or sexiness. And what she does notice about them is very relevant to her personality. When she first sees Lily, well before she realizes she likes her in a romantic way, she notices the practicality Lily displays and the things which are relevant to the Community (since Jenna is proud of the Community).

One of the first times Jenna starts showing (still subtle) interest in Lily in Fractured Skies comes during a skirmish, when they’re still fighting on opposite sides of the battle:

I glanced at her from the corner of my eye, trying to see if there was anything about her that I could use to my advantage. She couldn’t be much older than me. No make-up, no nail polish, and her hand had a light pink scar running from the knuckles to the wrist. Except for her tunic and the braid, which was longer than Community standard, she could have easily been Community.

Too bad she was a merc.

Bisexual or not, when having a character notice someone, be sure to keep in mind what that character finds important, and what they like.

Once they start warming up to them, they might start noticing other things they like about that person.

  • Being bi doesn’t necessarily mean they’re only attracted to cis men and women… they may also be attracted to nonbinary or transgender people.

There are a lot of terms that surround bisexuality. Bi, bisexual, pansexual, non-monosexual, plurisexual… It’s easy to get lost in knowing what terms to use. On the technical side of things, “bi” typically means “two” and would seem to imply that someone who is bisexual is interested in two genders.

However, this is largely technical and falls a lot to personal preference. Someone who identifies as bi might not always take such a limiting approach (though some people do).

You may wish to consider if the character leans toward being attracted to one gender more often than another.

  • Being romantically interested and sexually attracted are two very different things.
    • This is why someone who is asexual may still be romantically inclined, or why someone who enjoys sex might not be interested in romance.

Romantic tension tends to be more emotionally related, whereas sexual tension tends to be more physical. Often, your characters will display both forms of tension, but not always.

  • You don’t have to make a big deal of sexual preference.
    • Caveat: a historical or contemporary piece may be very different than a story set in the far future. Different cultures have different reactions. Keep in mind context.

When writing Jenna’s character, the first time she realizes she likes Lily, she’s not surprised that she likes a woman. She’s surprised because Lily is a mercenary. She wouldn’t have thought Lily to be her type, and yet she has shown more consideration for Jenna’s feelings and been someone she enjoys being around.

Lily cleared her throat and offered a shy smile. “So… um… no hard feelings? About the teasing?”

A lump formed in my throat. Unlike Lance, she seemed to understand where I was coming from, even if she didn’t know as many details about the memory attacks and the battle.

“No hard feelings,” I agreed.

She ducked her head, trying to hide her grin, and then opened the door for me. “Thanks.”

“For what?” I asked, heading back inside.

“For being a good friend. Mercenaries don’t have many friends they can really trust. True friends. Not just acquaintances. But then, I’m not really a mercenary anymore, am I?” She scuffed the toe of her boot on the floor.

I raised an eyebrow suspiciously. “Are you?”

“No.” She grinned, waved, and jogged toward the training room. I stared after her, watching her braid swing back and forth until she was out of sight.

For the love of the Community…

Why did I get along better with a former mercenary than my best friend?

It takes her a little while to acknowledge that she likes Lily romantically, not just as a friend, but these little steps bring her closer and begin building that foundation for a relationship. (Also… it’s slow burn romance. Some romances are set to burn much faster).

Isaac and I actively chose to have Jenna’s interest in both genders be accepted by those around her, or at least not be a point of contention. Are there people in her world who wouldn’t like that? Sure. But we haven’t seen them at this point, and I’m not sure if we will. One of the nice things about writing in a science fiction or fantasy world is that we can choose to portray the world we would like to see, selecting the good things as well as the bad things that the characters are trying to fix.

Of course, as with many relationships, things don’t always go smoothly.

Distant Horizon is a world where manipulation (especially involving powers) runs rampant, and without too many spoilers, the romance and friendships that begin to develop in Fractured Skies take a major hit by the end of the book.

Like many relationships, working to build those ties back up, and hopefully into something better, will take time… which we’ll work on developing in the third book.

* * *

I hope you found this article helpful. 🙂

Have you tried to include any romances in your stories? What did you find the most useful or hardest to write about?

Further Reading:

This was a helpful explanation of the difference between bisexual versus pansexual: https://medium.com/@pricelindy/bi-vs-pan-whats-the-difference-6587cdadce89

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The Gryphon and the Mountain Bear – Now Available!

Fooling a gryphon?

Not on her ideal day of treasure hunting.

But that’s exactly what she’s going to have to do if she wants out of the ruins alive–with her treasure in tow.

The next Legends of Cirena short story is now available as an ebook! 😀

“The Gryphon and the Mountain Bear” is the second story written for my collaborative adventure Facebook group.

Like “The Wind Mage of Maijev,” this one takes place approximately 200 years before the events of The Wishing Blade series and the Stone and String series.

Except, instead of a wind mage in a city that hates magic, we’re dealing with a shapeshifting thief and an uppity gryphon. Can the thief outwit the gryphon and get the treasures inside the ruins?

Read “The Gryphon and the Mountain Bear” to find out. ;-D

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | BN.com | iTunes | KoboSmashwords

The Wishing Blade - Section Break - Magic Swirl

“The Gryphon and the Mountain Bear”

YA Fantasy Short Story

The Gryphon and the Mountain Bear - Cover

The Wishing Blade - Section Break - Magic Swirl

Fooling a gryphon? Not her ideal day of treasure hunting…

After a hunter cheats Nuaka in a game of cards, she’s ready for payback. A few shapeshifting ribbons later, she sneaks into his room and steals a promising set of directions to the local ruins—and treasure horde.

If she gets the treasure before he does, she’ll be rich, and that cheater will learn his lesson:

Don’t mess with the shapeshifter.

At first, everything goes smoothly.

And then she runs into the gryphon.

Can she use her wit and her magic to make it out of the ruins alive… and with her treasure?

The Wishing Blade - Section Break - Magic Swirl

Explore the trickery of a shapeshifter in this exciting short story.

Read “The Gryphon and the Mountain Bear” today!

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | BN.com | iTunes | KoboSmashwords

Add "Wind and Words" to Goodreads

The Wishing Blade - Section Break - Magic Swirl

Enjoy! 😀

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Changeling – Now Available!

Changeling has arrived! 😀

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK)

99 cents for a limited time… and free with Kindle Unlimited!

Changeling is the second book of the Huntress series, and it picks off almost immediately where the first book left off.

* * *

“Changeling”

Huntress #2

YA Dystopian/Cyberpunk Fairy Tale Retelling

Changeling Book Cover

* * *

When the clock strikes midnight, will the huntress become the hunted?

With President Koenigin stuck in the form of a changeling miner, Koenigin Corp is in disarray.

A new president has stepped into power, and he’s asked Verdi to trade her role of huntress for that of an ambassador to the Society for Natural Progression.

At first, Verdi is eager to accept. Being an ambassador means she’ll finally have her voice heard. Better yet, she’ll be able to spend more time with Maria Snow, the woman she loves.

But participating in social “balls” isn’t a job she trained for, and certain members of Koenigin Corp are determined to get revenge on those who pushed Koenigin out of power.

When Verdi is framed for murder and placed on house arrest, will she find a way to get to the ball and warn Maria of the rising threat?

Or will she, too, find herself trapped in a changeling body?

* * *

Step into her shoes in this Cinderella retelling… and read Changeling to find out what happens!

99 cents for a limited time, or free with KU!

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK)

Add to Goodreads

* * *

Also, check out this cool bookstagram image one of my beta-readers made for Changeling: https://www.instagram.com/p/BxIq4uinDTo

Enjoy! 😀

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Magebane Launch Day

Magebane is here! 😀

(Today and Saturday only, grab it for 99 cents from any of the major online retailers! After that, it’ll go back to regular price.)

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | BN.com | iTunes | Kobo | Smashwords

Magebane is the continuation of The Wishing Blade series, picking up where The Shadow War left off. Only this time Siklana has a larger role to play, as does Shevanlagiy.

But don’t fret! Toranih and Daernan still have their own stories to tell as well.

Find out what happens next in…

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“Magebane”

The Wishing Blade Series #3

YA Fantasy

Magebane Book Cover

The Wishing Blade - Section Break - Magic Swirl

Will magebane save the world?
Or destroy it?

In Shevanlagiy’s quest to save her childhood friend from death, she has destroyed numerous worlds. Sometimes on accident. Sometimes as revenge.

She’s close to achieving her goal. Daernan is still alive.

But for how long?

When a goddess grants her a vision of a deadly substance—magebane—being shipped across the kingdom, Shevanlagiy realizes her carefully laid plans to protect Daernan are falling apart faster than she can rework them.

Daernan has magic from the gods, magic that will not only kill him if it comes in contact with magebane, but will start a terrible chain reaction that could unravel the fabric of this world—

A world she’s not yet ready to destroy.

The Wishing Blade - Section Break - Magic Swirl

Delve into the danger of Magebane by reading this exciting continuation of The Wishing Blade series today!

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | BN.com | iTunes | Kobo | Smashwords

Add to Goodreads

The Wishing Blade - Section Break - Magic Swirl

Not quite ready to buy?

Click here to download the first five sample chapters!

Enjoy! 😀

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Meet Siklana – The Wishing Blade Series

I’ve been having a bit of fun learning Daz, a 3D modeling program. Long story short, the base program is free, but you can buy additional assets–clothes, hair, facial morphs, etc–that allow you to customize your characters.

It’s fun, because it’s been giving me freedom to create characters from my stories that I can pose and light without searching through endless stock photos. (There are other limitations compared to photomanipulation, and avoiding the uncanny valley is tricky, but each type of art has its trade-off).

A few weeks ago I grabbed a bundle on sale for face and body morphs, and it’s been giving me a lot of room to tweak characters how I picture them.

The first character I completed (face, anyway), is Siklana Covonilayno from The Wishing Blade series.

Siklana Covonilayno

SBibbPhoto - Siklana from The Wishing Blade Series

Siklana is Toranih’s sister. While Siklana plays a fairly minor role in the first two books (Magic’s Stealing and The Shadow War), she has her own point of view and plays a major role in book three… Magebane.

Excerpt from Magebane:

After Shalant paid for a room at the nearest inn, Siklana and Daernan left their horses with the local stable girl and went upstairs to a small, square bedroom that offered little privacy. Mid-afternoon sunlight filtered through a window’s canvas covering. Shalant ordered them to unpack anything important from their saddlebags into the room so he could ward the area for protection.

“Perhaps we could ward the stable instead?” Siklana suggested. The cramped room hardly had enough space for all the books and scrolls stashed in her mare’s saddlebags.

Shalant glanced up from tucking a bag of dry goods into the corner beside his bed. “The stable hand wouldn’t be able to tend to the horses.” He pushed the bag aside, stood, and then dusted his knees of dirt. The smoke from Ashan had brought a thin layer of soot to everything in town.

Siklana shared a nervous glance with Daernan. The mage would find out about the books eventually. “I doubt we can fit all your word magic scrolls.”

Shalant turned around, puzzled. “Word magic scrolls? What are you…” His sentence trailed, and from the flicker of his eyes to the door, Siklana suspected he was using scrying ribbons to see what was in those bags. He gave her an incredulous glare. “You brought my library?

She smiled sheepishly. “The books might help us find a way to bring Toranih back from the shadow realm. Besides, if Ashan has been overrun by Lord Menchtoteale, do you really want him finding your books? Imagine what Isahna could do with them.”

“You brought my library,” Shalant repeated, as if the notion couldn’t register in his brain.

She nodded. “Obviously I couldn’t take everything, but I tried to grab the ones that looked useful. There are still a few things left in your attic.”

SBibbPhoto - Siklana Full Body Render

 

This is a full-body render using only image-based lighting (IBL).

It’s the first test run of Siklana’s 3D model with her new outfit (trying to find something that reasonably fit her character, which I didn’t initially have). I need to find and fit shoes for her, too, but this is a start.

I’m still learning Daz, so more work needs to be done, but it should give an idea of her character. 🙂

Interested in seeing the development process? Let me know. I have some notes on the process, and I’d be happy to go more into it if anyone is curious.

TWB - Magic Swirl Glyph

In the meantime, keep an eye on this blog for more news about Magebane, which is coming soon.

Let me know if you’d like to see more characters rendered in the future! 😀

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A Path of Swords and Feathers – A Wishing Blade Short Story

Ever wonder about the adventures of some of The Wishing Blade’s secondary characters?

“A Path of Swords and Feathers” is a short story (10,000 words) following the character of Nihestan / Shalant (Daernan’s father) during his youth, shortly after he took on his first mission for the goddess.

If you like some of my other short stories (such as “Stone and String” or “The Wind Mage of Maijev”) you might enjoy this. It’s a mostly stand-alone story, though having some knowledge of the world from the various other stories will help. 🙂

This story got its start with the Legends of Cirena Facebook group, after a failed attempt to Photoshop a gryphon sparked ideas about what kind of immortal this new creature might be…

And this story is the result. 😉

Before the Wishing Blade was forged, a young weapon mage embarks on a journey to protect those he loves…

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“A Path of Swords and Feathers”

A Fantasy Short Story

A Monster in the Mist - Book Cover

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Before the Wishing Blade was forged, a young weapon mage embarks on a journey to protect those he loves…

He serves the goddess of the dead.

Though Nihestan longs to see his family, his duty to his goddess leads him to the far reaches of the kingdom. But once he arrives, she refuses to answer his summons.
Not without an offering–

An offering he can’t afford. 
In need of money, he freelances as a bodyguard for a family heading deep into the northern mountains. Given how happy they are together, he wonders if he should have stayed home.
If he should be protecting those closest to his heart.

But his goddess may yet have her own plans for him… 
And the families he can save.The Wishing Blade - Section Break - Magic Swirl

Explore the trials of Nihestan’s past…

Read “A Path of Swords and Feathers” today!

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Add "Wind and Words" to Goodreads

The Wishing Blade - Section Break - Magic Swirl

In the meantime, keep an eye out for news about Magebane, the third book of The Wishing Blade series, coming soon!

And don’t forget, if you want to read more Cirenan short stories and help direct the actions of the characters, check out the Legends of Cirena collaborative adventure Facebook group!

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The Wind Mage of Maijev – Now Available!

Good news! “The Wind Mage of Maijev,” the first of the Legends of Cirena short stories written for the collaborative adventure Facebook group, is now available as an ebook!

This is a stand-alone short story that takes place approximately 200 years before the events of The Wishing Blade series and the Stone and String series.

 

A wind mage in a city that hates magic…

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“The Wind Mage of Maijev”

YA Fantasy Short Story

The Wind Mage of Maijev - Book Cover

The Wishing Blade - Section Break - Magic Swirl

A wind mage in a city that hates magic…

Livena is a young woman living in Maijev’s southern quarters, staying ahead in life by working odd jobs. When her brother entrusts her with selling a pile of books in the undercity, it seems like another normal day.

Until she senses a dangerous storm brewing.

Most would hunker down until the storm passes. But Livena’s deplorable wind magic lacks control, and weathering out a storm inside only invites trouble.

The storm won’t stay outside where it belongs.

If Livena can’t make it home before the storm, and her magic gets exposed, it’s only a matter of time before a deadly mage hunter unravels her secret.

The Wishing Blade - Section Break - Magic Swirl

Explore the magic in this exciting short story…

Read “The Wind Mage of Maijev” today!

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | BN.com | iTunes | KoboSmashwords

Add "Wind and Words" to Goodreads

The Wishing Blade - Section Break - Magic Swirl

Enjoy! 😀

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