A Summary of My 2015

I wrote two novels, a novella, a few shorts; two novels I wrote launched; five anthologies in which I had shorts or essays launched; I signed and announced two new book series (whaat??); got injuries that I am still recovering from (come on, me, being immobile is so 2006); had my heart absolutely crushed to sludge twice; moved back home with the rents (best. roomies. ever.); made my comic-writing debut; and made some amazing new Tumblr friends that I adore to pieces (one of whom just proposed to me last night. I’m moving to the Deep South, y’all. I hope she realizes that I’ve decided her joke was serious. :p ).

So in short: I’ve had lots of amazing things happen on the professional side, some really awful stuff happen on the romance side, so absolutely crappy stuff happen on the health side, and have had some amazing friends and family helping me through it all. Really am blessed in that category, and I won’t forget it.

Now onto the granular breakdown:


  • Announced that my two comics “Bloodsuckers” and “Toronto the Rude” had been accepted into Toronto Comics Vol 2. (I got a great pair of illustrators assigned to my stories, too!)
  • Midway through the month I took a slip on the ice outside of my house and (though I didn’t have a full diagnosis until November) herniated a disc, got micro-tears in the muscle of my back, wrenched my knee, tore the muscle at the top of my ankle, and tore the squishy stuff in the socket of my hip. Slept for the rest of the month with the really good drugs.





  • Unable to work full time due to my injuries, I moved home to live with my parents, and focus on getting better and meeting my contracted writing deadlines.






  • Attended EerieCon17
  • The War of the Worlds” happened, and I realized I was really, really not healthy enough to be treading the boards yet. It was interesting and extremely painful.
  • Began writing “Untitled Geek Dating Webseries Screenplay: Season 1”
  • Second round of edits for “The Untold Tale” begins


  • NaNoWriMo: wrote two short stories,one novella, and finished writing “Untitled Geek Dating Webseries Screenplay: Season 1”
  • Wrote and Launched “Ivy”, an Accidental Prequel
  • Finally got all the diagnosises for my slip and fall. Have now had enough MRIs and XRays to glow in the dark.
  • Finished line edits for “The Untold Tale”



Goals for 2016

  • Finish a short story for Peggy (so close to being done!)
  • Finish the second Accidental Novella (so VERY close to being done!)
  • Write two more Accidental Shorts
  • Write “Untitled Geek Dating Webseries Screenplay: Season 2” (And possibly 3, we’ll see.)
  • Write “The Silenced Tale”
  • Assemble all my Peggy Barnett short work into a short story collection, add a few new stories
  • Be faithful to my diet and loose some of the weight that makes my injuries worse
  • Walk every day, or ride my Recumbent Exercise Bike

Goals for 2017

  • Publish the Peggy Barnett short story collection
  • Write “The Skylark’s Search”
  • Write “The Skylark’s Sacrifice”
  • Finish some short stories set in the Skylark world
  • Be faithful to my diet and loose some of the weight that makes my injuries worse
  • Walk every day, or ride my Recumbent Exercise Bike
JM FreyA Summary of My 2015
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Post the First Sentences of Your 10 Last Stories and Search For Patterns

I was tagged in this challenge on Tumblr, and because I’m super curious about this, and I wanted to do this for both my fanfic AND my original fiction. I wonder what patterns there are (if any), and in what way they will emerge.

Fan Fiction:

“What?” Dum Dum asked, prodding his seatmate in the ribs with his meaty elbow for the umpteenth time. “Seriously, Falsy, what?” (The Driver)

Mark nodded without looking up, bent to shovel. “If it’s hard on yer back, you could feed them instead.” (Basil and the Bales)

There was a time, Myrddin mused, that he would have been inclined to reach out to the horizon and murmur a soft spell, just to make the sun linger a few seconds longer on the horizon, just to treasure the rich red hues and the marvelous indigo that spread like an exhaled stain across the tops of the far mountains. (The Once and Future Kingdom)

Carson Beckett poked his head into the primary astrophysics lab hopefully, and sniffed the air. “Oh,” he said softly to himself when he realized it was empty and the enticing scent he was searching for was not there. (Five Times Doctor Rodney McKay Was The Topic of Conversations He Had No Idea Were Going On)

Johnny Sheppard was born when he was ten years old. Or, one hundred and fifty seven years old, depending on how you wanted to count it. (Flight)

I am wrongways up, and it hurts. My swimming pool has leaked all over the cloister again, and the bottles of the library books are akimbo on their shelves. My Time Lord is not within me. I moan, wheeze futile, and then open my external scanners wide, and search for the two Hearts I cradle within my own. (Not The Doctor I Was Expecting)

Kalp is uncertain, but his employer says that the dark blue of his work apron makes the green striation markings around his eyes and mouth attract attention. (Trenti)

On Christmas morning, John unwraps a big box. That’s what it looks like, anyway, and it’s from the Millers, even Madison. John is too excited opening the present to stop and read what the box says, but Rodney sees enough through the flashes of garish paper to make an educated guess at the contents long before John can sit back and take it all in. (Mondayish)

Jack Harkness was reminded of the children’s book he had seen in Gwen’s apartment. “Alexander and The No Good, Terrible, Very Bad Day”. Or something like that. What-fucking-ever. (Respected II)

When Johnny Sheppard was six years old, he begged his father for a toboggan for Christmas. He got an algebra set. (Tobogganing)

Original Fiction
(already-announced projects only, I’m afraid…)

Once upon a time, when we were all Bella Swan, my first crush was a sarcastic know-it-all Immortal named Methos. (“How Fan Fiction Made Me Gay”, The Secret Loves of Geek Girls)

The envelope from Elgar Reed came a few months after Alis’ first birthday. (The Silenced Tale)

The first indication that something was off was the phone call from the Smithsonian Museum. His typewriter, the old race-car red Olympia De Luxe his aunt had given him in the late’ 70s, had been stolen. (The Wondrous Woes of the Writer)

The air above the barn rips apart, wind against wind, power thrust into the multitudes between of the skies and raking through the void. Feet braced apart, bracketing the barn’s peak, a slight woman reaches into the sky and slices again. (The Forgotten Tale)

Once upon a time, oh yes, so very long ago, there was of course a lovely girl who came to learn to sew. (The Dark Lord and the Seamstress)

Creepy bastards like this always go for the eyes. Bevel doesn’t know why. They just do. (The Garrulous Ghost of Gwillfifeshire)

When I catch sight of the cart and its cargo approaching through the thick glass of my study window, I assume the body in the back is a corpse, brought to me for study and then burial. But no one handles a corpse with such care, and driver is directing the horse to travel slowly, avoiding each hole in the dirt road. (The Untold Tale)

In Saskwya thievery was punished with the forceful, bloody removal of a thumb. This was usually done on the spot by the soldier who caught the perpetrator and with whatever sharp implement they happened to have at hand, clean or not. Robin Arianhod still had both of her thumbs. She was thankful, because she couldn’t have picked the lock on the factory door if she had been missing them. (The Skylark’s Song)

When Mary comes to, she is lying face down in the grass beside the road. (The Dark Side of the Glass)

A body collapsing with no muscular control onto plush carpeting makes a kind of muffled thudding, all raw meat and cut strings. (Triptych)


So, do you see any patterns? Let’s discuss it in the comments!

JM FreyPost the First Sentences of Your 10 Last Stories and Search For Patterns
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Amazing Triptych Fan Art by Fishsicle

Triptych Comission from Fishsicle

Here Kalp shifts his head to the other side of Gwen’s tummy, so Basil can hear better.

“He raised his hands to catch their words and asked, ‘Why are you sad?’” Kalp recites, raising his voice into a light falsetto, the timbre of the heroes of all his childhood stories.

Basil snorts tea up his nose and has to pull a tissue from the box on the side table to keep it from leaking down his face.

“We are sad,” Kalp continues, this time in the lowered voice of the distraught, “because there is never any time for intercourse.”

This time Basil howls and has to put the mug down to keep from splashing Gwen and the back of Kalp’s head.

“Sorry, sorry,” he says, the tissue clamped firmly over his face. “Go on.”

Kalp twitches his ears in amusement, then lays them flat again. He knows now that mentioning intercourse around human males always causes some sort of strange, gleeful, immature reaction. It is such a bizarre form of prudery.


Find more of Fishsicle’s utterly AMAZING fanart here:

JM FreyAmazing Triptych Fan Art by Fishsicle
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Words for Writers: Triptych & Non-Happy Endings

I received this letter and with the permission of the writer, I’m posting it and my response here.

If you have not yet read Triptych and are leery of spoilers DO NOT READ THIS POST.


Dear Miss Frey

I finished reading Triptych this morning, and it has stuck with me all day. I am not usually sympathetic or empathetic towards characters in text, as they are often nothing more than words on paper to me, but it has been many years (if ever) since I felt this strongly about any novel I’ve read. On Tay’s recommendation (over on Tumblr), I went out and bought the book. Truth be told, I had low expectations coming in, as I tend to stay away from less well-known authors. I am very happy that I made this exception, and you have far outshone my wildest expectations. For that, I thank you.

For the most part, I am not an emotional person, but I felt genuine joy while reading Triptych. I loved the exploration of Kalp’s world, people and personality, as well as our world seen through their eyes. I loved that you made them recognizably humanoid, but distinctly alien in more ways than just their appearance. The way they experience the world around them, and their approach to families and sex. That they are neither prudish, nor childishly naïve on the subject. It’s refreshing to see a world where such a natural thing is not just ignored.

I expected there to be a happy ending. I WANTED there to be a happy ending. I wanted them to go back and fix things. The first time Kalp died, I thought nothing of it. We are so used to dead main characters coming back to life, and you presented a way for that to happen. I expected them to change the outcome. I wanted them to save Kalp and be happy. I wanted more Kalp. I wanted a sequel. That seems unlikely now, and we don’t always get what we want. It made me angry and sad. They then go on to get married ‘properly’ (I assume), as if everything with Kalp wasn’t proper. Wasn’t real. That, too, made me angry and sad. I don’t begrudge you these decisions. Yes, they made me angry, but I’m glad that they did. I shows me that it meant something to me. I savour the moments when literature evokes emotion in me, good or bad.

I would not want to unread Triptych. A selfish part of me wants a different book, but I doubt it would have had the same effect on me if that was the case. I so want more people to share my experience, but much like the bigots in the book, I fear that the subject matter would turn many away without a second glance. I sincerely hope to see more novels from you, but could you please not break our hearts every time? Thank you for writing Triptych. Thank you for sharing it.





Dear [redacted];

Thank you so much for your message, and sorry for my delayed reply. I wasn’t around a computer this weekend.

I’m happy to hear that that Tay’s love of the book infected you. I do understand the reluctance to try out a new author, especially one published with a small press and is virtually unheard of. It’s sometimes easier to stay inside one’s comfort zone, and it’s always especially disappointing to think a book sounds really cool and it turns out to be lame. But sometimes you find a jewel, too – I am lucky in that most of what I read now-a-days is the as-of-yet published work of my friends, or pre-published books from publishers looking for me to give them a great quote for the cover. In that I’m lucky, because I get exposed to all sorts of books that I might not have chosen for myself; many of them I really like, too!

I’m very pleased to hear that I did surpass your expectations. You’re welcome. Thank you for giving me a try.

I am also pleased to hear that you felt genuine joy while reading Triptych; I felt genuine joy writing those parts of the book. They were my favorite to write, just as they seem to be everyone’s favorite to read. (Well, there’s also a scene where Mark makes Basil help with the bailing, but that got cut. I know the hilarity of watching city folk bailing for the first time.)

I loved developing Kalp’s culture. It’s always a bit of a balancing act for me, because I grew up as a writer in the Fanficion community where culture-building in AUs is applauded and consumed voraciously. When I was creating Triptych I had to very consciously restrain myself and trim the excess. As a fanficcer, I know what gaps in the narrative I always wanted to fill (I call it “cultivating a garden between the gaps in the paving stones”), so when I lay the paving stones of my own novels, I always try to leave little gift-gaps to my readers. Hopefully people will decide to cultivate in them soon.

(UHG. SUCH A HARD TIME trying to decide if I should close the big slashy gift-gap in The Untold Tales of Turn or not. It was so stressful! In the end I didn’t, because I originally chose to have that part of the narrative remain off screen for a reason, and as much as I want to write the big slashy get-together story, it must remain off screen for that same reason.)

I understand your upset about the unhappy ending. I originally had a happier ending to the book, but it felt disingenuous. It felt fake. It felt like I was betraying all the pain in the rest of the book, and worse than that, the real-life analogue where people are hate-crimed to death. Those people don’t get to come back. Why should Kalp? It really broke my heart to do that to him (and Gareth), but in the end I feel like it was the right choice.

As for Gwen and Basil getting “proper” married at the end… I hope it came across correctly, but Basil and Gwen did think of their Aglunation as a “proper” marriage. With Kalp dead and their Aglunate broken, they needed to find a way to carry on, to feel like they had something in each other to live for. Instead of being widows, they wanted to affirm their relationship, and that’s why they will get “human” married. It doesn’t erase the Aglunate, any more than a second marriage overwrites someone’s love for the previous spouse, but it gives Basil and Gwen something that is just theirs, something just them to celebrate between them and together. They still love and miss Kalp, and they will never forget Gareth (in my writerly head-cannon they adopted Ogilvey’s daughter) but they needed a way to move on.

And yes, Mark’s inability to really understand what the Aglunate meant and his subsequent request of Basil was meant to make you a little mad. Because even the most understanding of people don’t always totally get it.

It’s good to hear that my writing was able to elicit that sort of emotion in you! Thank you! And yes, I think that if Triptych wasn’t so painful, it wouldn’t have resonated with me, and with other readers so much.

>> I sincerely hope to see more novels from you, but could you please not break our hearts every time?

Oh dear.


Well, the thing is… my friend Ruby Pixel is fond of saying “It’s not a J.M. Frey book unless you gross-sob at least once, and then throw it against the wall.”

So, er… I make no promises? I do have SOME stories that don’t end quite so tragically.

Thanks again for your very thoughtful letter, and I wish you all the best,

–J.M. Frey


For more posts on the business and craft of writing, search my Words for Writers tag.

JM FreyWords for Writers: Triptych & Non-Happy Endings
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Words for Writers: The Value of Writing

Stories Matter

(From the Office of Letters and Light blog:)

This June, the nonprofit behind National Novel Writing Month, the Young Writers Program, Come Write In, and Camp NaNoWrimo is running a fundraising drive to increase the impact of their programs and resources. In 2012, they supported 369,541 writers in 615 libraries and 580 regions across six continents, and 82,500 students in 2,000+ classrooms as they reached for their creative goals and brought their novels to life.

Why care about new novels? Because making safe spaces for people to write their stories isn’t just about ending up with more books in the world. It’s about changing creative lives. You can help The Office of Lettesr and Light do that.

NaNoWriMo believes that stories matter.

“NaNoWriMo changed my life profoundly at a time when a new focus, purpose, and goal were needed just to keep me alive. I signed up because I desperately wanted something to take my mind off the cancer I was battling, and because there had been a story bouncing around in my head for over twenty years that wanted me to tell it. Thanks to all the wonderful people and support and ideas that are NaNoWriMo, that story is being told.”

– Julie Ann Thayer

NaNoWriMo believes that anyone can be creative.

“Before NaNoWriMo, the only projects I’d worked on were assigned by teachers or bosses. NaNoWriMo empowered me to choose my own creative goal, and helped me realize that if I am willing to spend hours working on a project for someone else, I should be willing to do the same for myself. Thank you for the gift of creative writing.”

– Mary Harner

NaNoWriMo is preparing to inspire 500,000 people to tell their stories in 2013.

This year, they’re working hard to make our resources as accessible as possible. They want to create a safe space for people from every walk of life to tell their next story. And the one after that. And the one after that… (This could go on for a while.)

Consider donating and partnering with them to make more safe spaces for creative writing and its wide-reaching impacts.


When I was seven, I wrote a short story about a girl named September who had to babysit a fairy’s wings for a week. It was published in the local paper for a contest.

When I was eight, I was picked to go to a young author’s conference at a local university.Between the ages of nine and thirteen, I participated in children’s drama and local theatre, wrote plays (none of which were performed), and screen plays (none of which were finished).

When I was fourteen I discovered fanfiction. Fanfiction taught me how to build worlds, build narratives, build character, build a fan base, and build confidence in my ability to tell engaging stories. At last count I had written over 15000 pages of fanfiction. I would still be writing it if I had time.

When I was eighteen I went to university for theatre. That was also the year I started my first novel. (Because if I could write 500 page fanfics, I sure as heck wasn’t going to be intimidated by a novel!)

When I was nineteen I wrote a screenplay that won an honorable mention in an international competition.

When I was twenty a friend dared me to do this thing called National Novel Writing Month with her. We both won. That MS was a lot of fun and will never again see the light of day.

When I was twenty one, I did NaNo again. I won again. That manuscript was later subsumed into a novel.

When I was twenty two, I did NaNo and won.. That manuscript was later subsumed into a novel.

When I was twenty three, I tried to write both NaNo and a Bachelor’s Thesis at the same time. I failed NaNo, but graduated with honors.

When I was twenty four, I moved to Japan and finished my first novel, wrote a comic book series, wrote lots more fanfic, and was told for the first time that perhaps I ought to think about starting to polish up old manuscripts to submit to publishers and agents.  For NaNo that year I decided to write something sale-able and came up with the novella (Back).

When I was twenty five I spent a year revising my first novel before realizing that it was beautiful and unwieldy and I resigned it to my trunk. I sold (Back). I did NaNo and started what would eventually become Triptych.

When I was twenty six I returned to Canada and tried to write a Master’s Thesis and NaNo at the same time again. I failed NaNo again, but passed with the record highest marks in my program at the time. When people asked me how I had written my thesis in one month I laughed and said, “If I can win NaNoWriMo five out of seven years together, I can write a thesis!”

When I was twenty seven I was offered a full ride for a PhD and turned it down. I decided that I wanted to get a novel published before I turned thirty. I did NaNo and wrote a story called The Dark Side of the Glass.  After thirty-six rejections from both agents and editors, I sold Triptych.

When I was twenty eight, I did NaNo and wrote The Skylark’s Song.

When I was twenty-nine, Triptych debuted. It was nominated for seven awards and won two. The success of Triptych and the promise of The Skylark’s Song book landed me an agent. I sold The Dark Side of the Glass. I began a novel for NaNo called The Maddening Science, but got too ill to continue. (Spontaneous organ death is FUN, yo.) I turned it into a short story and sold it.

When I was thirty, I wrote The Untold Tales of Turn, a novel celebrating novels, and writing, and those of us who need books in our lives. NaNoWriMo is mentioned in the book. My agent is currently shopping it, and next week The Skylark’s Song goes out to publishers for consideration.

At thirty-one (almost), I am a successful, professionally published author who has won accolades and earns an income on her work, and who has just celebrated a decade of participating in NaNoWriMo.

But far more importantly than that, I am also a confident, well-read, articulate young woman who finishes what she starts, and has learned the value of compassion and touching the hearts and souls of those around her. I have learned to put myself in other people’s shoes, to consider different viewpoints, to research before I judge, to accept critique and criticism gracefully and with an engaged ear, to take pride in my accomplishments and to pick myself up and try again when I fail, to realize that haters are just gonna hate but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t always give the entirety of myself to my prose or shy away from the difficult discussions and topics, to stand up for myself and those who are denied the right to speak for themselves, to take responsibility for and try to help improve the world and the people on her with every word I set down, and to hold close those friends and family who value my work as an extension of myself.

And this is the value of writing. This is why writing matters.


Find out more about the Office of Letters and Light’s Stories Matter fundraising drive here.

(Also, thank you, Office of Letters and Light!)


For more posts on the business and craft of writing, search my Words for Writers tag.

JM FreyWords for Writers: The Value of Writing
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