I Never Expected Readers to React So Strongly to a Left-Handed Protagonist

The protagonist of the novel I’m revising is left-handed.

Me? I’m right-handed. According to various online quizzes which measure your place on the left-handed-to-right-handed spectrum, I’m an extreme righty. Because right-handedness is assumed in most circumstances, I only think about it when my right hand is injured. Or when I’m writing a left-handed character.

All of my beta readers had significant reactions to my protagonist’s left-handedness. I understand why my lefty beta reader reacted (and I’m relieved that he didn’t have any objections). What surprised me was that all my righty beta readers also reacted strongly.

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Breaking Out of My Comfort Bubble: How to Write About Asexuality and Aromanticism for Allos?

A few days ago Prism & Pen published my essay, “Are Aces Doomed to Just Be Tokens in LGBTQ+ Spaces?” (That’s the anti-paywall link; it will give you access to the story even if you aren’t a paying Medium member.)

Submitting this essay left me feel nervous beyond the typical nerves of submitting to a publication for the first time. First, entering an unfamiliar LGBTQ+ space as anything other than a mere ally gives me trepidation. My personal experience is that most LGBT spaces aren’t intended for aces or aros. Some of this is based on experiences over a decade ago, when LGBT organizers were far more unaware of asexuality. On the other hand, the small minority of LGBT people who are hostile towards aces and aros are more vocal today than ten years ago. If an LGBT space doesn’t clearly accept aces and aros in a way that’s easy for outsiders to see, my assumption is that it’s not a space intended to include aces or aros.

On top of all that, my piece included some criticism of something a Prism & Pen editor said. Criticizing the editor who chooses whether your essay gets published is a risky move. However, James Finn has shown before that he cares about showcasing a variety of views and not just works which confirm his own opinions, which is why I thought my piece still had a chance of getting accepted. And he accepted it for publication. This increases my trust in him as someone who values discussion among multiple viewpoints.

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This Time, I’m Asking You to Try My Email Newsletter

I binged book reviews and analyzed them before I thought of sharing them. Even if my book review binge email newsletter had zero subscribers, I’d continue doing it. I also don’t want to annoy people by pressuring them to sign up for my newsletter. That’s why I haven’t tried hard to promote it.

However, this month, ConvertKit has a challenge to increase subscribers as much as possible. Thus, I’m going to try harder than before to get more subscribers. I won’t do anything unethical (such as sign up people without permission) or even anything which feels too pushy to me, but putting my toes outside my comfort zone will, at a minimum, teach me something.

Because of the challenge, I put together a new landing page using some of ConvertKit’s advice. I’m curious how it will compare to my original landing page, which is still live. The original landing page is upfront, whereas the new landing page uses more ‘salesy’ language. I’m curious which approach works better.

I also created a guide to how I analyze the book reviews as an ‘opt-in incentive.’ Originally, I didn’t want to use a ‘bribe’ to get people to subscribe because my thinking was, the digests should be the reward for signing up, thus anyone who didn’t want the weekly emails shouldn’t subscribe. However, new subscribers might need an orientation to understand what I’m doing, and that orientation could be the ‘incentive.’

By making a bigger push, I may annoy some people. On the other hand, if someone who otherwise wouldn’t have signed up benefits from the emails more than they expected, that justifies pushing for subscribers. I can’t find the right balance between ‘push people to sign up so hard I annoy them’ and ‘be so timid about promotion than the people who would like these emails never sign up’ without trial and error, and some of that error WILL fall on the side of annoying people. If I annoy you by being pushy, please give me constructive feedback so I can better calibrate this balance.

Because of the challenge, instead of saying ‘here’s this newsletter if you’re interested,’ I’m asking you to sign up on one of the landing pages I linked above. If you don’t like it, unsubscribe. I know this email newsletter won’t be for everyone, and I’ll have no hard feelings if you unsubscribe. But, if you have any interest in books, please try it. Also, please share it with anyone you believe might be interested.

I appreciate feedback. Which landing page do you prefer? What’s your advice for attracting subscribers? How can I improve my email broadcasts?

Your Cloth and Surgical Masks Leak. Does This Thingy I Bought on eBay Fix the Problem?

My badger seal

I love my cloth masks. They have no leakage around my cheeks or chin. However, like all masks, they leak around my nose when I don’t use nose wire. And nose wires are so uncomfortable I rarely wear them.

Research on mask effectiveness at preventing covid, whether it’s how much they prevent infected wearers from spreading it to others or how much they protect wearers from getting infected in the first place, is all over the place. There are too many variables, and masks do not lend themselves to careful RCTs. However, though it’s difficult to figure out the degree of effectiveness, masks clearly prevent wearers from spreading covid to a useful degree, and also provide some (possibly small) protection to the wearers.

One thing which comes through clearly in the research I’ve seen is that masks work much better when they don’t leak. One study (I couldn’t find it again, sorry) showed that nose leakage is less bad than cheek leakage or chin leakage, but that study might be wrong, and all research shows that zero leakage offers the best protection.

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The Word Is Out: I’m Working on a Novel

Has it already been a year since I wrote the first draft? (Answer: almost a year, I finished the first draft in September 2020).

Sorry I didn’t tell y’all about it sooner. So, so, so many bloggers write novels and… I was self-conscious about being yet another blogger who wrote a novel (why? Looking back, I don’t understand why I felt that way). Since I didn’t tell y’all earlier, I’ve been waiting for the ‘right moment’ to mention it.

The moment has come, even if it’s the wrong moment.

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Wildfires, Again

I slept in this bed in Westwood

I once spent a night in Westwood, Lassen County. Specifically, I slept in a building which had once been the home of the richest guy in Westwood (he was a timber baron).

For about two weeks, Westwood has been under mandatory evacuation orders due to the Dixie Fire. As of the publication of this post, the fire containment lines around the town are holding. The wildfire only surrounded it on three sides.

Westwood is less than twenty miles (thirty kilometers) away from Greenville, the town which the Dixie Fire destroyed. As soon as I learned that the wildfire was threatening Westwood, I knew Susanville is in danger. How? I’ve hiked the Bizz Johnson Trail from Westwood to Susanville. Dry forest goes all the way from the town to the city.

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Against Vaccine Mandates

(Warning: Long Rant with Minimal Editing)

When we talk about vaccine mandates, what are we talking about?

A local event venue has, after a year, resumed in-person events. They require proof of vaccination before entry, but they are flexible about what counts as ‘proof.’ A photo of a vaccination card suffices for them. It’s not just this venue–bars, restaurants, etc. are taking similar measures.

Meanwhile, the city government now requires all employees to be vaccinated (perhaps there are exemptions, I don’t know the details).

Some places accept recent/frequent covid tests in lieu of proof of vaccination, but the systems are set up to make things much more difficult for people who try to gain admission through negative covid tests than vaccination.

I’ve also encountered talk of forcing people to get vaccination–not just denying them admission or causing them to lose their jobs, but imposing legal penalties, perhaps even physical force–though no government agency or private business has suggested that, as far as I know.

So much to unpack…

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