Who's your favorite protagonist?
Xaxac
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Orenda
25% 25% of votes
Total: 8 vote(s)
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A note from candicame

I made a huge mistake when I posted my other work on here, and I'm not going to repeat it, so I'm stepping in to say this:

This is a work of adult fiction and has content that is not suitable for all audiences.  Much of the content of this work draws from real experiences of real people, historically the writing of people who were once enslaved under the Chattle Slavery system here in the US and, to a lesser extent, European-style slavery under the Roman empire (though this is the place it draws the least inspiration from) but also from the real experiences of people who are still living, who are currently survivors in recovery from human trafficking.  Because it draws from real events and real human experiences, this kind of content is not presented the way it normally is in fiction, but rather explores the more accurate real-world neurodivergence typically experienced by people who have lived through these types of traumatic events.

I will try my best to go over some clinical psychology in the notes of each chapter.

Reader discretion is advised.

Little Bunny Foo Foo

Hopping through the forest

Scooping up the field mice

And bopping them on the heads

 

This chapter has been removed because of a formatting decision made when I found the story to be running too long to be feasible, but I didn't want to lose the feedback I had gotten or the notes I had already written to set reader expectations.  I am so sorry for any inconvenience.  Please click through to the next chapter to begin the story.

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A note from candicame

Hey guys!  I'm coming off an Easter dinner and I've got the itus real bad, but I'm gonna try to write some legible notes down here.

This work is set in the same universe as the Crimson Mage, so if you're coming from there, you're going to notice a lot of familiar things, a lot of crossover.  Xaxac himself was a character in the Crimson Mage, though I won't speak of his capacity in that story to avoid spoilers for new readers.  However, despite being in the same universe and belonging to the same overall series, the two stories will not be the same in terms of literary structure.  The Crimson Mage followed a classic three-act structure popular in fairy tales in the western world.  The White Rabbit is written more like a memoir, and because life does not make structured, narrative sense, I wanted to make that clear for expectation management purposes.

This is actually the second draft of this book.  The Life and Times of Xaxac Brigaddon was actually the first full-length book I ever tried to write, and the first draft was unreadably bad.  I had told myself that it would never again see the light of day.  But when I was editing the Crimson Mage, I absolutely could not get this book out of my mind.  I thought I would take everything I had learned from the other things I had written, all the great feedback I had gotten here, and try to rewrite it into something readable, while keeping the core content intact.  I think that I've done that.  I'm actually pretty proud of myself- not because I think it's good or some sort of masterpiece, but because of how much I've improved from the first draft.

My education and background are in psychology, NOT creative writing.  So brace yourselves, I guess.  I've never had anything published or been trained to write in any way.  I've kind of cobbled together the scant ability I have from youtube tutorials, blog posts, and free classes on skillshare.  I'm also not in a position financially where I can afford to go back to school for creative writing, so I had hit a wall.  I was having a really difficult time finding beta readers for my manuscripts, which is unfortunate because my end goal was and is to get traditionally published through an agent. Then a friend of mine recommended this site.  He said that he received a lot of quality feedback from readers that really helped him improve and motivated him to keep writing.  So I tried it.  When I uploaded the Crimson Mage I found that he was absolutely right.  I got a lot of massively helpful feedback!  So when I was editing, I thought I should give it a shot, and see if lightning would strike twice.  I need to know everything I can to help me improve this story.  I need all the help I can get.  I'm not exaggerating.  I don't know shit about writing.  Please, please, help me.  Go read that first chapter of the Crimson Mage and watch me apologize for it.  But I'm trying.  And I'm improving.  And really that's all we can ask of ourselves.  Sucking at something is the first step to being kinda good at something.

I've been phenomenally disappointed with the state of the zeitgeist as it relates to mental health.  I've noticed that the current cultural presentation of people with any kind of neurodivergence falls into one of two camps: either the mental illness is romanticized in a way that is exploitive rather than representative, or the person is treated as some sort of scary monster.  Neither of these are true to life, and both are dangerous attitudes for a society to have about neurodivergent people.  So I want to present neurodivergent people as people, the way they are in real life, dealing with the issues they have the way real people do.

When I wrote the first draft of this book, I got a lot of feedback that boiled down to "Make it exploitive.  I don't like this because I don't know what mental illness actually is, so change it to make it like the rest of the incorrect cultural representation."  To give an example- I mentioned above that some themes in this book are based on the real experiences of real human trafficking survivors.  There are people who live in sexual slavery, in the world, right now.  It's not romantic.  There will be sex scenes in this book, but they are not erotic.  However, when I posted the first book on Critique Circle, I got feedback from people who would not acknowledge that grooming and brainwashing were tactics used by abusers to make their slaves loyal to them.  I don't know WHY that was a thing, but it was a massive thing.  I got messages that were so horrible and misinformed that it made me break down and cry.

I wasn't crying because they didn't like my book.  I was crying because the things they were saying, such as, "If you were really raped you would have run away" or "If you liked it it wasn't rape" or "if you had an orgasm it wasn't rape" or "If they took care of you and you loved them it wasn't rape" etc etc are all things that real survivors, in the real world, have to deal with.  And hearing that, spoken so plainly as if the critiquer had any right to say it, drove home for me how far we have to go, as a society, on this topic.  In the real world, one of the most common things that you hear from real survivors, when they first arrive at your facility, for a heartbreakingly long amount of time, is, "You people don't understand us and our love!  When I turn 18 I'm gonna sign myself out of here so we can be together!"

It breaks your heart.  These kids have been so brainwashed that they genuinely, hand to god, believe their abuser loves them.  They have no idea what love is.  Your job, as a therapist, is to undo the conditioning, the grooming, the brainwashing, and help them heal.  If you don't break through the walls that the abusers have built up, you can't make any progress.  It's the hardest part of the recovery.  There are many reasons for this that I don't have time to go into here, but I bring it up because these people, during this denial phase, will latch onto ANY form of media that presents abuse as romance.  They'll read Twilight and tell you that Edward was several centuries older than Bella, but they were in love, just like this survivor and their abuser.  This kind of "abuse as love" representation needs to stop.  It is actively damaging survivors and it needs to stop.  But it is present in our current zeitgeist to a disturbing amount.

I tell you all about how feedback made me cry after begging for feedback for a reason.  I want you to rest assured that this work has been fact-checked.  The issues I need help with are not those of fact-checking.  I've got that down.  My issue is that I've never published anything that wasn't in APA format, and I plain old, admitting it in front of god and everybody, don't know how to write for shit.  Like, let's call it what it is.  I need massive help with actual writing advice.  I've read some blogs and watched some videos, but realistically that's not going to teach me anything close to what hearing from actual readers are going to teach me.  I need all the help I can get.  What characters do you like?  What characters do you dislike?  What about the worldbuilding?  The story structure?  Are you hooked in the first chapter (because I have a lot of trouble with that)?  Any help I can possibly get I would appreciate forever, because my goal really is to eventually get traditionally published.  I want my work, focusing on neurodivergent leads as people, to become part of the zeitgeist, to combat the terrible representation that I see around me.  

I do have an exception to the "don't make me cry with bullshit about how I should change the character's thoughts, reactions, whatnot to their trauma" rule, because of course I do.  The reason I don't want that is because with the first manuscript I got so many neurotypical people telling me how a survivor SHOULD act, how a survivor SHOULD think, how a survivor SHOULD feel, or they would not believe they were a survivor.  That's fucking horrible and it jaded me.  That's what I'm trying to avoid.  If you are a survivor- first of all, bless your heart for reading this because I am making sure to post the content warning this time- but I would absolutely love to hear from you, hear anything you have to say.  The reactions in this work are based on those most commonly reported, which is obviously not going to be able to cover anyone.  If your experience was different, it is still completely valid, and if you feel misrepresented or exploited in any way, that is something that I need to know.

These psychological themes are heavily present in the Crimson Mage as well, but I'm afraid it may be a little jarring for readers coming from Rendy's head and into Xac's.  They are vastly different people, and though they are both neurodivergent, they have different types of neurodivergence, on top of different personalities.  They're also different sexes, races, genders, and socioeconomic status, so...  I'm basically saying not to expect this book to have the same voice.  Because you'll be disappointed.  Just because you liked Rendy does not mean that you'll like Xac.  Just to give a non-spoilery example, Rendy has an insecure attachment disorder because she was abandoned as a child.  Because of this, she never learned to trust people and has a difficult time connecting with them.  She doesn't notice things about people even when they're glaringly obvious to the reader (TOLI LOVES YOU, RENDY!) because she never learned how to attach to people she cares about.  That's a real thing, a real problem that people with insecure attachment disorders tend to have, and to seek help with.  With help, they often do learn to read people, and be more open to relationships.  Xaxac, on the other hand, loves his parents and they love him.  He knows what familial attachment is, and so you aren't going to see him having any trouble reading people, apart from normal things like children not understanding adults because of a lack of life experience.  He's much, much more socially intelligent than Orenda is, just because he had a secure attachment to a caregiver, and that colored his world differently.  I got some feedback on the Crimson Mage that people disliked how unobservant Orenda was, because since she lacked the skills to describe the world and people around her, they felt as if they were at a disadvantage understanding and navigating it- which was intentional, because Orenda had that disadvantage and it was passed on to the readers through her POV.  That guarded confusion is how some people actually have to live.  And it's not great.  That's exactly the kind of empathy I was talking about wanting to represent, to build in neurotypical people.

But if you didn't enjoy it as a reader, you'll like this book better because Xac is painfully observant.  He has a kind of neurodivergence that actually swings the other way.  He knows exactly who everyone is, knows exactly where everything is- because he wants to know if someone is acting out of character or something changes in his environment.  Xac knows how many ceiling tiles are in rooms.  I don't want to harp on this and give examples, because I don't want to put in any spoilers for the Crimson Mage in case anyone wants to go read that.  I am still looking for feedback on it, too.  I'm in the editing phase.

My upload schedule for this work is gonna be a lot slower than it was for the Crimson Mage, for a lot of reasons.  Meatspace got a bit more hectic, and even my free time has to be split a little more than it was before.  I'm rewritting this work and editing the Crimson Mage, so I'll probably only update once or twice a week here at the start.  I just really wanted to launch on Easter for the symbolism.  I'm a sucker for symbolism.

I'm also super interested to know if you're coming here from Rendy or if this is the first time you've set foot on Xren.  Every book in the series is meant to be in this situation where you don't have to read the rest of them to understand it.  They should stand on their own, but if you read the rest of them it sort of 'unlocks' things, deeper lore that you might not get from reading one as a stand-alone.  So I'm really interested to hear from both new and returning readers.  Y'all make me happy.

Oh that reminds me- Urillians speak in an Appalachian dialect.  If the dialogue doesn't sound right, read it in a redneck accent and that'll fix that.  I had some people mention things about the dialect being grammatically incorrect and like...  yup.  It is.  They don't mean nothin by it, that's just how folks is sometimes.  I was born, raised, and still live in Appalachia, so I am fiercely protective of the dialect, but I also don't want to isolate readers.  So if it's unreadably bad to anyone who didn't come out the head of a holler or wasn't raised in a trailer, let me know!  I want y'all to be able to read it!  Just don't expect to get no high-falutin Queen's English.  I'll ask y'all to meet me in the middle on that one.  Unless, of course, it's someone putting on airs or who's from a different region with a different dialect.  Xren is an entire planet with a variety of cultures speaking a variety of dialects.  This book just happens to be set in a region where the Urillian dialect is common.  Poor Rendy can't understand half of what people say on the earth continent either.  She's in that same boat with you, at least, lol.

I know there was more I wanted to say here, but this notes section is already so long...  I just basically wanted to manage expectations a little on this first chapter, let y'all know what you were in for.  I didn't know that you could put notes on the first chapter of my last book until like a month after I posted it, and I felt really bad when I found out how young the userbase skewed.  I'm not out here trying to traumatize high school kids or trigger anyone's trauma.  I want y'all to know what you're getting into.  If you know, you can make an informed decision about whether or not this is the book for you.

I really appreciate all of you.  I got a lot of great feedback on my first book that is really going to help me tackle the rewrite.  I really don't think I could do it if I hadn't posted here.  I've been so happy with the community- on that work I had something like 800 pieces of feedback and only two negative experiences that I can think of.  That's not even statistically significant.  That's nothing.  I may as well say no negative experiences.  It's been so overwhelmingly positive and helpful, and I was so jaded by other sites that I almost couldn't believe it.  I really want to thank this community, thank everyone that helped me.  You guys have been great!  It's been amazing!  And I'm so glad to see you again!

I hope you like it!

Happy Ishtar!  May the fertility goddess bless you with healthy children and fruitful relationships!  Welcome to Xren.  Follow the Path of Order.  Follow the White Rabbit.


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