Bookshop with oak panelling and antique chairs. Photo by Emre Can from Pexels

Snowed in, Blown Away!

My beloved publisher, Renaissance, asked for holiday stories for their annual blog roll. Here’s my contribution. Happy holidays, everyone!

And I’ll book shop with oak bookshelves teaming with books. Antique chairs and tables add to the inviting space
(Photo by Emre Can from Pexels)

I noticed the battery was a little low on my phone, so I plugged the charger in the socket behind the cash. The bookshop was empty, but for responsibility’s sake, I kept the OPEN sign lit. You never knew if a stubborn blizzard-walker might brave things out and try a little last-minute shopping for their loved ones’ to-be-read piles.

So far, not one patron had crossed the threshold since the storm began mid afternoon. It might have been without soul, but the shop didn’t feel soulless. And though I’m a social creature, it felt nice and cozy here in the silence with the warm evening glow of the ambient lighting against the antique built-in oak shelves. I found myself smiling. I’d been so glad that Renaissance decided to keep the original woodwork when they bought this place. Sure, a lot of our authors wrote futuristic stories, but even a space opera lover like me appreciated that 19th-century bookshop feel. I could almost picture Aziraphale behind the counter, selling our titles.

The welcoming atmosphere also appealed to our local reading and writing community. Our schedule was filled with events: readings, book signings, launches. We had a little café area, too! This space was becoming a beacon for marginalized and indie authors. And while it had those lovely built-ins, renovations had allowed for accessibility. All the books could be found on the main level while only the living quarters were upstairs. And even then, Nat had installed a chairlift on the staircase, which I would find super helpful when I headed off to bed later.

But for now, I was alone. Dead alone. I could often be spooked by the notion of being isolated, yet I reminded myself I was still in the downtown core. Help could reach me if I needed it. Anyway, that was all moot because I was perfectly fine. Anxiety could bite my butt for this evening. Everything was lovely, almost dreamy in its beauty. I adored this shop, its books, the publisher, and the authors I’d grown to know as my family.

My watch buzzed. 9:00 pm. Closing time. I reached for Noola—my rollator—to prop me up. Sitting for any length these days made me stiff as a board. But Noola was always there to my rescue. I grabbed onto her handles and got off the stool. Then I unlocked the breaks and rolled myself over to lock the door.

The street took my breath away as I peered out the glass pane. No footprints to be seen at all, and the soft snow drifts were set in waves, exactly like something out of an idyllic postcard. It was amazing how peace became even more peaceful on Christmas Eve. I wanted Bruce here with me to see it. My eyes stung as I wished with all my might that I didn’t have to spend tonight all by myself. But I’d told him not to risk it. I would never have forgiven myself if he got hurt. So, with a great sigh, I tried to shake off the blues that struck me. It’s only for one evening.

Double-checking the alarm was set and the door locked, I rolled over to the chairlift. I’d placed my pink cane by it earlier. That’ll be good enough to get me around upstairs. Once I parked my caboose in the chair, I hit the controls and up the stairs I went. Whee!

The residence also had that cozy feel, with cream walls peeking out of the same original oak wainscoting. I had a good snicker at the nativity scene in their living room that was composed of Star Wars characters around a Baby Yoda. I switched on the white fairy lights around the great window and sat in a high-back chair. This would be a perfect reading spot. I should have brought up a book from downstairs. Then again, I felt pretty sleepy, so I got up and headed down the narrow hallway where the bedrooms were. Past the master and the boys’ rooms, I spotted a sign on a door that read: “Spoonie Nap Spot!” I giggled. Totally a Nat thing. At least I had my space to crash. I turned the handle and—


What the heck is that? I’d made certain the shop was secure. There couldn’t have been anyone downstairs. Did a shelf loosen?


Um, what? That sounded like a laser blast. Then I remembered I’d left my cell phone plugged in downstairs. I must have also kept on YouTube’s autoplay settings. Sounded like something from a space series. With a huff, I walked with my cane back to the chairlift. At the top of the stairwell, I could make out voices.

“All right, which one of you f**kers is paying for these drinks? How ’bout you, Godzilla?”

“HOLY STARS! You kiss your mother with that mouth? Vivvy, did you hear the way that man just spoke to me?”

I blinked. That’s not a YouTube video. It sounded more like—


Okay, this was getting serious. I decided to squat until I was on my bum, and I slinked down a few stairs. As soon as I could see the shop floor, I thought I’d faint. Standing there, as clear as day, was an over 7-feet-tall lizardman with mauve and grey scales, in a combat uniform, comparing weapons with a human woman dressed in form-fitting black armour. I could discern, even from this distance, the tech in her eye.

Viv? Lexa Blue?

I started to shake and clutched my cane in an attempt to ground myself. A character from my book and one from Stephen’s? No, that wasn’t possible. I mean, I knew I could conjure up great things in my imagination, but I’ve never visually projected images in my entire life.


“Hey! You pick up our table, Godzilla!”

“Nancy, he’s pretty big and scary. Let’s just go to another club.”

“I am not going to another club, Blaine. This is our f**king club!”

“Listen, you nasty little men, I might not know what a Godzilla is, but I am so not going anywhere until you people learn some manners!”

Xax? Nancy? Blaine? Now my other Draga warrior was hanging with Jamieson’s— My mouth went bone dry. Wait a second, The Stealth Lovers, A Congress of Ships, and Love and Lemonade? Are…are the Renaissance books…coming to life?

I inch down a few more stairs. There stood a man eating a burrito by a deathly pale woman in a lab coat who chatted with a brunette named Cassandra whose body was covered in scars. They seemed to be in deep conversation about zombies. I gasped, recognizing them from the covers of Making a Living and Life After Redby.

This was serious. I needed to text Bruce. No, phone 9-1-1. Or maybe just text Bruce. My fingers trembled so violently, I couldn’t tap my watch properly. I decided to just close my eyes and concentrate on my breathing. I was lonely. That was it. Just lonely and perhaps a little anxious. A few minutes of meditation, and everything would return to normal. Now then, deep breath innnn…

“Awww, isn’t that sweet? It has my name on it!”

I exhaled like someone punched me in the back. Not being able to resist, I opened my eyes to witness a woman leaning over my rollator, a short figure with pastel pink skin and flaming red hair that redefined poofy in a monstery way. I knew that hair. It resembled a follicular umbrella. I had seen that orange and blue striped dress before. And there were the red boots with wheels that she wore. The person admiring my Noola was in fact…Noola…from Life in the ’Cosm. My feisty disabled alien who’d helped me conquer my own internalized fears and ableism. Gosh, I wanted to say something to her. But when I opened my mouth, a barely audible squeak came out.

Before I could try again, a cloaked, rotting soul walked across my view and over to join the zombie debate to my far left. Dead Mike…from The Reluctant Barbarian?! Holy crap, wouldn’t John be surprised! I paused. This was all starting to become rather fascinating to me, and I found myself less frightened.

Except when I jumped at the sound of glass breaking as Nancy and Xax continued arguing for dominance over the café.


Lexa Blue’s laser rifle went off. I checked for damage. None. Must be blanks for demonstration purposes. Viv took the weapon from her hand, admiring it, and began to ask her more about the sentient ship she called ’Vrick. He wanted to know if ey could tolerate a pilot with an attitude, thinking of course, of his beloved, Xax. Lexa Blue smirked in reply and said the ship might have possibly handled such a pilot before.


Ugh, more glasses. This place is going to be a mess! I just had to tell Nancy and Xax to cool it. I could do this. I braced myself to stand up. My legs wobbled too much, probably from the shock of imaginary characters acting not so imaginary. When would they leave? I needed to clean up the place before everyone came home.

“Goodness gracious! I am extremely disappointed in your behaviour, Xax especially. You’re supposed to be a noble warrior, and we are guests here!”

My jaw dropped. A humongous daisy tucked their top petals into a kerchief, pulled out a vacuum implement, and started dealing with the shards of glass. He floated about the room in his hoverpot as his different leaves performed various cleaning routines. I marvelled at his alacrity. Must be nice to dust, polish and vacuum all at the same time. Thanks, Sonny. He even ordered the sheepish souls who’d been arguing to set the chairs and tables right again. And they complied!

Satisfied I wouldn’t have to do more than order new glasses for the shop, I searched for Noola—the alien, not my rollator. I found her chirping happily to a dark-haired woman who used a walker. Naya! I beamed. Journey of a Thousand Steps was the very first Renaissance book I ever read! When Naya spoke about how she’d found herself becoming a solver of mysteries, a young voice cried out:

“Mysteries? I solve them all the time!”

“And who might you be?” asked Noola with a tender gaze at the blond teen with a determined demeanour.

“Elizabeth Coderre!”

Naya extended a hand. “Nice to meet you! Maybe we could collaborate one day!”

Elizabeth from the Baker City Mystery series seemed happy at that. I found myself longing for Madona and Éric to see their creations come to life.

As the night wore on, more and more characters appeared from the Renaissance books. Eventually, I found the courage to go all the way downstairs. I even introduced myself, and everyone was genuinely happy to make my acquaintance. We arranged the tables and chairs in the café section of the shop, and it turned into a fun gathering. Sonny had floated upstairs to the kitchen by way of his hover pot, returning with a lovely arrangement of snacks.

Someone put on music, which made Xax invite Viv to show off their ballroom dancing skills. Rose and James from The Admirer joined them, dressed in a formal gown and tails, respectively. It felt quite the Austenian vignette, in a human versus lizardmen warriors sort of way. But it was so very charming.

When the music stopped, I heard the sound of bells jingling by the front door. I stood up, walked with my cane to make sure the alarm was still set, but noticed somehow a red envelope attached to the inside of the door. I peeled it off, opened it, and read the contents:

I wouldn’t say you’re on top of my good girl list, but I have chuckled at your naughty humour. And as you can plainly see, you’re not alone, Cait. Merry Christmas!


I turned around. Zombies, humans, aliens, wizards, beings from the past and the future filled the room, all enjoying each other’s company. Well, they were now, once Sonia’s Commander Skye realized Xax and Viv were not actually a new form of Daemon hostiles threatening to take over the planet. That had been an awkward minute. But the three of them sat at the same table with Lexa Blue and appeared to get along just fine.

And now it looked like Santa Claus was also real.

Bruce will never believe this. Maybe just keeping one little secret in a marriage isn’t so bad.

Noola approached me in my reverie, then took my hand to guide me back to our table. “I’ve told you all about me,” she said. “It’s your turn now!”

I really do love this little bookshop. It’s quite magical, in more ways than one.

At the stroke of midnight, my watch buzzed with a notification:

With a contented sigh, I texted back:

I stood up at the table, then clinked my water glass to capture the attention of the shop’s occupants. Miraculously, they became quiet.

“Merry Christmas, everybody!” I held up a cupcake as my toast.

“Merry Christmas,” they all said in reply, even the aliens who had no idea what it was.

I sat down again as the conversation and craic continued on. There would be no doubt I’d get very little sleep tonight, but that was just fine with me.

Best Christmas Eve ever!

Author’s note: I am a Renaissance author but also a major fangirl of their authors! If you’re interested in learning more about the books mentioned in this story and even more books, a full catalogue of Presses Renaissance Press titles can be found on their online shop!

Cait Gordon, in a black and white digital sketch
Cait Gordon

Cait Gordon is a disability advocate and the author of Life in the ’Cosm and The Stealth Lovers. When she’s not writing, Cait’s editing manuscripts and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. She also teamed up with Kohenet Talia C. Johnson to co-edit the Nothing Without Us anthology in an attempt to take over the world. Narf.

Official Book Trailer for The Stealth Lovers and Pre-order info!

This is really happening! The Stealth Lovers is going to be published on September 30, 2019!!!

Here’s where you can pre-order it!

* Paperbacks will be available on Amazon after Sep 30. My guess you can find it on an Amazon near you. 🙂

Here’s the official trailer!

And here’s the full cover!

ID: Two characters in space flight suits about to engage in a kiss while standing on a snowy mountain top. Overhead flies a space fighter. (Full back matter and author quotes are described on The Stealth Lovers book page!

Squee! I’m so happy this story is going to be shared with the world soon. Xax and Viv were not only fan faves, they also hold a special place in my heart as well. Whenever I think of these guys, I think #RelationshipGoals.


Thanks again to everyone who expressed excitement at this upcoming story. You boosted me on to finish it! And now it’s going to be a reality. Woohoo!

Will keep you posted with more news about book launches, author appearances and stuff!


Cait Gordon, in a black and white digital sketch
Cait Gordon

Cait Gordon is a disability advocate and the author of Life in the ’Cosm and The Stealth Lovers (Fall of 2019). When she’s not writing, Cait’s editing manuscripts and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. She’s also teamed up with co-editor Talia C. Johnson on the Nothing Without Us anthology (Fall of 2019.)

book cover

To NaNo or not to NaNo? That is the question.

I have a really cool problem. I’ve got something that might distract me from writing each day for NaNoWriMo 2018—the Nothing Without Us anthology. It’s a project I’m co-editing with my BFF and sensitivity editor Talia C. Johnson. NWU, as we nicknamed it, is going to be a collection of short stories for and by authors who identify as disabled, Deaf, blind, neurodiverse, Spoonie, and/or who manage chronic illness. (So stoked!) And it’s going to be published by the amazing Renaissance press! So, because we’re open for submissions until Dec 31, 2018, I might be reading a lot of stories in November.

I’m thinking I might write Life in Another ’Cosm: Jinny from the Blog in November, but perhaps in a NaNoLite fashion. That way, I can still enjoy story-crafting while I keep sharp for evaluating the short stories we get for NWU.

So, I really doubt 50,000 words will be my goal this year. Any word count will be welcome, really. I’m still gobsmacked that I completed my goals for NaNoWriMo2017 and CampNaNoWriMo2018, which resulted in The Stealth Lovers. (It’s gonna be published by Renaissance as well! WHEE!).

The more I think about it, the more a NaNoLite will probably be what I do—a chill method to promote a chill atmos.

Will keep you posted here and on the Twitter!


Cait Gordon

Cait Gordon is the author of Life in the ’Cosm, a story about a little green guy who’s on a quest to save half the person he loves. Its prequel, The Stealth Lovers, is a military space opera about legendary warriors Xaxall Dwyer Knightly and Vivoxx Nathan Tirowen. When she’s not writing, Cait’s editing manuscripts and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. She’s also working with Renaissance and co-editor Talia C. Johnson on the Nothing Without Us anthology (call for submissions are ongoing until Dec 31, 2018.)



Virj eating cupcakes

The Thing About Virj

Virj eating cupcakes

From time to time I’m faced with feedback about the main character in Life in the ’Cosm, who is Virj Ofreesin (pronounced verge of reason). I hear everything from him being an unreliable narrator, to annoying and frustrating, and to having his head way too far up his backside.

And you know what? It’s all true. My readers are smart cookies. Insightful lot!

There’s also been some opinion about why every so often I broke the fourth wall in the story. A simple explanation AND SPOILERY is this: Life in the Microcosm is not written by me, but by Virj himself. I only wrote the last chapter. So, blame Virj. 😉 I mean, we know by the story that his writing skills need work, so even in his nonfiction, he forgets not to speak to the reader at times.

When I set out to put this story together, I was rebelling against the notion of the god-like science fiction hero— glorious in his form, skilled beyond reason, and possessing a golden touch for success. Nope. I figured if life existed on other planets, there’s got to be some poor soul who hates his mundane job, has a rotund figure because of his love for cake, and can’t even operate hands-free computer goggles. Virj is my everyman. He’s spent his life so shy and under-confident, the only woman he pines for is completely unattainable. (I mean, really…she shares a body with her mate.) Most of who Frayda is comes from Virj’s own imagination. He’s so wrapped up in a fantasy that he’s oblivious to reality.

Xax warns Virj that if Virj tries for someone else’s partner, he might miss finding his own person. And the little green guy’s tenacity with holding onto a dream instead of seeing who’s right in front of him eventually smacks him hard in the snout.

Even though he’s completely made up, I have known people in real life who cling onto what or whom they think they need while missing the true joys already in their lives. And like my readers with Virj, I want to smack these folks into the middle of next week. (I must say I’m extremely proud of my self-control in this area.)

But yeah, even my mother said she wanted to punch him. Heck, so did I! But that’s the problem with someone living too much inside a bubble, a microcosm. Like Noola says, we need to get out and look around a bit. Because life is more awesome that we realize.

It’s perfectly okay to not like Virj. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion. I have a soft spot for the little guy myself, and in the end, he finally gets the net.

Plus, I can’t really be angry at him anymore. After all, he’s the one who’s putting a collection of stories together about his warrior dads, Xax and Viv, called The Stealth Lovers. (Yup, I first mentioned this in my WIP of Life in another ’Cosm: Jinny from the Blog.)

Virj’s writing has much improved since he penned Life in the Microcosm, by the way. I reckon it’s probably because Noola is his full-time editor now. 😀

I can’t wait for you to read The Stealth Lovers. And when it comes out, I bet you’ll want to re-read Life in the ’Cosm again! (I defy you to resist!)

Cait GordonCait (pronounced like “cat”) Gordon is originally from Verdun, Québec, and has been living in the suburbs of Ottawa since 1998. Her first novel, Life in the ’Cosm (Renaissance) was published in 2016. Her short story, A Night at the Rabbit Hole, appears in the Alice Unbound: Beyond Wonderland anthology (Exile Editions). She’s currently working on The Stealth Lovers, a prequel to the ’Cosm series. For her day job, Cait is a freelance editor. Some of the titles she’s edited include Confessions of a Mad Mooer: Postnatal Depression Sucks (Robin Elizabeth), Camp Follower: One Army Brat’s Story (Michele Sabad), Skylark (S.M. Carrière), Little Yellow Magnet (Jamieson Wolf), A Desert Song (Amy M. Young), and Moonshadow’s Guardian (Dianna Gunn). Cait is also the founder and editor of the Spoonie Authors Network, whose contributors manage chronic conditions and/or disabilities.

Am I an author or just an innocent bystander?

Wow. I had no idea Viv was anything like that at 19. Never saw it coming!

The quote above is not a beta-reader’s comment about my work-in-progress of The Stealth Lovers. Those are my words. Yeah, I know. But, but, but … how can an author react like this when she’s the one writing the story? Beats me, but my characters tend to surprise me all the time.

Hey, I would love to stand tall and haughtily proclaim, “Why yes, I planned every word of this rom-com space adventure right from the beginning!” Then after I recovered from the lightning bolt that struck me unconscious, I’d have to admit the truth. I somehow split in two when I write, leaving me partly the author and partly the reader. Most times I can’t even feel myself driving the plot. It’s like my fingers do the typing while my eyes just absorb all the drama and comedy of the page. I’ve said many times, “Where does Xax come up with all that sass?” That would be you, Cait. You wrote the words. “But Cait, it doesn’t feel like I did. I swear, Xax says it all himself!” Cait, Cait, we’ve been through this before. It’s still you.

I’m not convinced. Because Xax and Viv are real, dammit.

There is something about diving into the creative process that is such a necessary escape. As a spoonie, I need to get away from reality on a regular basis. What I love about writing is that when I’m ready to return to my regularly scheduled life, there is this tangible thing I’m left with I can read over and over again. And because I live with a disability that requires so much of my attention, plunging into my manuscript releases me from control. Whatever it is exactly that my brain does, I find myself being taken on a journey where somehow I’m not thinking, but just responding to impulses that make me write the narrative and dialogue. I ride those nudges without questioning them, and end up stunned at the results. Then I get kind of proud that I did a thing! And I did it without hyper-planning it within an inch of its life.

By letting go to where the story wants to bring me, I become delighted with it, laughing or crying as if someone else had given me their book to read. My reactions are rather pure for someone who is responsible for the words. I like this, and don’t want to change my process … even though I can’t exactly pinpoint what the heck it is. I’ll just nickname it The Bystander Effect.

Chapter excerpt
Excerpt from The Stealth Lovers by Cait Gordon. Chapter 1: Vacay in Hay

I love chapter titles. They’re my thing. So, often I’ll make up a title, like, Vacay in Hay (hay is short for an unpronouncable word meaning hell on Xax and Viv’s planet). I know the chapter has to be about basic training, but I have zero clue what the scenes will look like. Perhaps my process is to give myself writing prompts. Like, “Okay, Cait, Vacay in Hay … and … GO!” Then I begin to type, and the bystander in me soaks up what’s happening. I have to admit, it’s fun!

Anyway, if you follow me on social media and read posts about The Stealth Lovers that say things like: “I can’t believe what happened!” and “Holy crap, I hate the author for making me cry!” you’ll know that’s just me working through my stuff. The Reader Me is just a bit freaked out at Author Me.

Can anyone relate? Do you sometimes find yourself swept away by your own stories taking a direction you never anticipated? Let me know! Leave a comment on this post or on my social media accounts.

Whatever your process is, I wish you happy writing and afterwards—a highly satisfied reading of your own words.

cgauthorCait Gordon is the author of Life in the ’Cosm, a comedic space opera where boy meets girl, but girl doesn’t notice boy because she’s sharing a body with another boy. She is also the creator and editor of the Spoonie Authors Network. You can follow Cait on Facebook  and Twitter.


Dedicated to my crappy husband

This year my long-suffering husband celebrated his 50th birthday. I decided to make it a Crappy Birthday, and put poop emojis on everything. He loved it. Yeah, we’re a weird couple but our quirks are the foundation of our marriage.

cgauthorCait Gordon is the author of Life in the ’Cosm, a comedic space opera where boy meets girl, but girl doesn’t notice boy because she’s sharing a body with another boy. She is also the creator and editor of the Spoonie Authors Network. You can follow Cait on Facebook  and Twitter.

Life in Another ’Cosm: Jinny from the Blog

Spoiler Alert: Don’t read this post until you’ve read Life in the ’Cosm! 

Jinny’s parents are so in love, it’s really gross. At least her warrior grandpops are epic. Malley High is ugh, Jayke is ughier, but Selma’s pretty okay for someone donned in 50 shades of black. To cope, Jinny spends her free time blogging about her world. Life goes snoozily along until the morning she meets a four-armed musician on the bus flight to school. She wants to get to know them, but realises she forgot her Geology homework. Skipping first class to scrounge around a quarry, Jinny finds a solid specimen inside an abandoned vessel. The only problem is, this rock poops.

(This back blurb may be subject to change.)

Jinny Abstract
Sometimes it’s better when your grandpop fixes your hair so it glistens like a grassy knoll.

My second book in the ’Cosm series is still a work in progress, but it’s currently over 50,000 words. I’m writing it a little differently from Life in the ’Cosm. Instead of a stream of consciousness taking me from start to finish, I’m writing from the beginning and from the end. Then random scenes pop into my head and I rush to jot them down. I reckon I’ll be assembling this book like a puzzle!

I was an adolescent in the ’80s, which had been a great time for teen movies. While I’m not really a YA author (I think), I affectionately nickname this book The ’Cosm Breakfast Club.

I’m sure I’ll post like mad about its progress, my self-doubt, and how I want to punch myself in the face from self-editing. (Don’t worry, I never really wallop me. I mostly self-medicate with cake.)

My plan is to have a beta-reader draft by Spring 2018, edit like my life depends on it, and submit the manuscript to my publisher, Renaissance. Let’s hope all this happens, because, you know, *gestures at everything in my life*.

cgauthorCait Gordon is the author of Life in the ’Cosm, a comedic space opera where boy meets girl, but girl doesn’t notice boy because she’s sharing a body with another boy. She is also the creator and editor of the Spoonie Authors Network. You can follow Cait on Facebook  and Twitter.

rainbow book

I’m cishet and I write queer characters, but not without help.

rainbow bookYeah, so I’m cisgender, which means that a doctor looked at my new-born bits and said, “It’s a girl,” and when I grew up I said, “Good guess, Doc.” I’m also heterosexual, which means I am romantically and sexually attracted to men. Right, so we got those boring details about me out of the way.

What isn’t tedious is that I have a truly amazing circle of friends. *my binary-straight self waves to all my peeps who reside all over the sexual orientation and gender spectrums* For this I am blessed because my perspective of the world is quite vast, and being a lover of diversity, it’s a wee bit o’ heaven for me. I like learning about people and listening to their points of view. It’s fascinating to hear what we have in common and what makes us unique. Unfortunately, it also can be heartbreaking when I witness the prejudice, fear, and hurt my friends go through. That makes me very Hulk-smashy and has led me to my go-to expression: Cishet people suck.

Now, before you go all #NotAllCishetPeople, maybe take a breath and think for a second. Really think. Maybe one’s degree of suckage has not been extreme, but I bet we can find a time in our lives when we’ve said, “That’s so gay,” even if we were talking about a thing and not a person. And we can’t even justify that as “gay meaning lame,” because then we’re insulting people like me who have mobility issues. I often say, “That’s not lame—I am!” We also have used gender as an insult, as in, “You run like a girl,” and decide to misgender people based on their interests, like,  “You like football? You’re one of the guys!” (Yeah, no, I’m not a guy. I just like football.) Worse yet, we justify our solidarity by our genitals, saying, “This group is for everyone with a vagina,” meaning, cisgender women only.

Even when we’re trying to be inclusive of people on other parts of the sexual orientation and gender spectrum, we can muck it up. While it’s okay to politely take someone aside and ask them what pronoun they use, it’s not okay to ask them about genital surgery or any other wholly private and non-of-your-are-you-kidding-me business. That’s super ungood. Bombarding someone with questions doesn’t work. People who identify as queer or with the LGBTQIA2 acronym are not here for the sole purpose of educating us. Sometimes they just want to hang, see a movie, and eat cupcakes with us. You know, just “doing life stuff” as our friends.

I am lucky that my best friend is an educator, though, I won’t lie. She teaches me how not to be so sucky. But still, that’s not what we talk about 24/7. We mostly discuss our lives and act silly. Like BFFs do.

In my circle of friends, I am teased (by my BFF) that I am the token cishet. It’s kinda true! As immersed as I am in my peep’s lives, I still know that there is so much I don’t know about what it’s like to be them on a daily basis. When I hear about how holding a partner’s hand in public can be dangerous, I’m gobsmacked. How does that feel on the inside? Or how other friends cannot walk about peaceably downtown without getting verbally assaulted or having the threat of physical/sexual assault as an immediate possibility. . . all because of their gender. As a cis woman, I know what that feels like for me, so I just multiply that by ten billion and then I imagine that’s what being transgender or non-binary is like. It hurts that this is a reality. Nobody should live in fear like that.

Because there are nuances I probably won’t get no matter how much I try to understand, as a writer I cannot publish even a short story without having it vetted. The beta readers for Life in the ’Cosm were a diverse group of people. Even though I wrote about aliens and not life on Earth, I still wanted to avoid writing something where readers could scream, “BURN IT TO THE GROUND!” Yes, my characters are not perfect, personality-wise, because I have yet to meet a being who is in real life, but as far as queer or gender representation, I knew I needed help. Mind you, I was so panicky about being a douchecanoe, my BFF said over and over, “It’s fine. It’s sci-fi. Just have fun with it!”

Oh yeah, being the anxious cishet person who doesn’t want to insult people can also be oppressive. If you accidentally misgender someone, for example, don’t put on a Shakespearean tragedy-like display about how horrible a person you are. Just use the correct pronoun, maybe pop in a “sorry”, and then slow down your brain to make sure you don’t do that again. Making a scene just creates a really awkward situation. *cough*

Back to writing stuff. I have been told that’s it’s okay for cishet authors to include queer and gender-fabulous characters in their stories. In fact, it’s encouraged! The big thing is just to make the characters part of the story, and maybe just don’t include only one queer person who dies . . . like, in every single story you write. That’s not so great. Having your work read by real-life people who you are trying to represent will improve the quality of your characters. I say this especially about transgender characters, because there is glaring misrepresentation of trans people on TV and in stories. If your work has trans characters in it, then I do recommend hiring my BFF as a sensitivity editor. She’ll read your manuscript and tell you what tropes to avoid and how to write queer and trans characters more realistically. Here’s a link to her website.

So, yeah, I don’t want to be a cishet person who sucks. I think there are others like me, too. Many folks my age just didn’t grow up with enough exposure, so we’re sorta ignorant. However, there is a cure for ignorance. Just learn a thing! Then learn another thing! Keep going like that, and you’ll be a better, more understanding person. Even still, don’t fly that ship alone. When you write something, get yourself a sensitivity editor or at least sensitivity beta readers. Writing takes a lot of time and effort, and if you cover all bases with having your manuscript vetted, the more people will enjoy your stories.

I will continue to include diversity in my stories because if it exists on Earth, it would be silly not to include it in other galaxies. Just like cake. It would be silly not to include cake in other galaxies. All sorts of people and all sorts of cake make a galaxy a cool place to live.



cgauthorCait Gordon is the author of Life in the ’Cosm, a comedic space opera where boy meets girl, but girl doesn’t notice boy because she’s sharing a body with another boy. She is also the creator and editor of the Spoonie Authors Network. You can read more about Cait on her Website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.


The judgy Ovum known as Splot.

He’s oozy and slimy, resembles a fried egg, and is probably judging you right now. He’s the Ovum known as Splot.

In Life in the ‘Cosm, we learn that several years before the story begins, Virj Ofreesin finds an alien known as an Ovum on his breakfast plate at a cheap diner. Instead of eating him, or reporting the restaurant to Planet Cinneh’s food inspection authorities, Virj takes the little guy home as a pet and gives him the name Splot.

The two beings form an interesting pair-bond, and Splot begins to communicate with Virj telepathically. While the Ova use telepathy to talk to each other all the time, an Ovum can only choose one person outside their species to speak to in this fashion. Splot chose Virj. Sounds sweet until you discover the types of things Splot actually says.

“Seriously, what are you, some kind of numpty?”

“Not now, Splot.”

Poor Virj can also pick up Splot thinking aloud or speaking to another Ovum, just like one’s overhears someone talking.

“Don’t look at me! It’s not my fault he’s useless with women!”

“I heard that!” shouted Virj from the hallway.

And it’s extremely difficult for Virj to have a bit of erm, um, self-caring private time, because the Ovum crawls all over the flat and can appear out of nowhere.

[Virj’s] breath burst out of his lungs. That didn’t take long.

“What the blazes are you doing with that thing?” asked Splot.

I had a lot of fun writing Splot’s dialogue, because it was often one line here and one line there. (Personally, I think Splot says the things that many of us are thinking. ) And because he only has these huge eyes to gesture with, I needed to face the challenge of making that work, too.

One time I was fooling with my stylus and I came up with this sketch:

His expression made me laugh so hard. I felt it relayed the essence of his character, and used it as an emoji of sorts when communicating to my friends in private messages. Often, I prefaced the image with the line, “I’m making the Splot face.” It’s such a perfect catch-all for when you want to be a little judgmental, but still funny.

Whenever I hear a reader tell me they also love Splot, it makes me happy. I love him, too. He’s on my screen looking at me right now, just like that sketch, wondering why I’m not writing my second book. An odd sort of motivational poster, but it works for me.

You can read more about Splot in my book, Life in the ‘CosmAvailable on Amazon and Renaissance Press!