Character Intro: Coretta Jones

Been a while since I’ve done one of these.

Last time I wrote about Kat, deuteragonist and Coretta’s childhood friend (and later in the novel, #1 smooch pal). Today I wanna talk about the protagonist of this novel. Coretta.

Who’s Coretta? She’s quiet but brash, sarcastic and quick to react to pretty much any situation. She finds herself taking on the role of leader/protector/caretaker in situations because she feels responsible for everyone. This stems from the way in which she helps her single mother, Anne, who raised Coretta alone for most of her life – subsequently, this is how she ends up becoming the leader of her group of psychic pals.

Coretta’s goal in life is to become successful enough in the future to take care of her family’s needs. Because of this, she pushes herself academically, even though she tends to distance herself from school. She understands where her race places her on the social totem pole, especially at her school, and is quick to remind others of their bad behavior, ill-intentioned or otherwise.

Coretta is very demanding of others’ morality and sense of justice. She doesn’t let anyone get away with anything and believes that adhering to your set of beliefs consistently is what leads to a person worth respecting. People that are hypocritical will feel no end of scorn from Coretta. She respects hard work and dedication, though this sometimes leads to her not practicing enough self-care. Coretta herself can be weak in her resolve when it comes to things like dating, and “fun for fun’s sake” — things she believes she isn’t interested in. She hates this contradiction in herself, and tries to stamp it out. Coretta’s largest flaw forms itself in her stubbornness, as well as her unwillingness to let herself have fun, based on the pressure for her to perform well.

A lot of Coretta’s characteristics are based on my sister, but more exaggerated (although…not by much. Don’t tell her I said that!). I wanted her to be a black girl because they don’t get a spot as main characters in YA novels as often as I’d like. Plus, girls are more fun to write anyhow. There are a lot of unique angles and dynamics that can only be written from a black girl’s perspective, from the focus on the importance of family to the issues that only they have to deal with, and I try to showcase some of that in my writing. Needless to say, it’s hard to be a suburban superhero when every cop in town remembers your name…

I’m very fond of Coretta and am excited to show how she develops in her journey through The Freelancers. I hope you’ll like her too.

Making Things Makes Me Sad

Lately I’ve been finding the indie artists I see in my Spotify Discover Weekly playlist on Twitter and sending them DMs about how I enjoyed their songs. My trend towards empathy has been scaling upwards as I’ve gotten “””older””” and part of that has reflected itself in my thoughts on the process of creation. I can’t imagine what it’s like to make a song and posting it on Spotify, but I feel like it’s an extremely brave thing to do on such a saturated platform. I think the enthusiastic thanks I get in return for my DMs is a pretty good indicator that this is true.

I have mentioned now and again that I’m writing a novel about a bunch of gay kids with psychic powers. I said it’d come out in 2019, which is probably a mistake. I haven’t written for it in while. For once it’s not because I’m not sure what to write next — one of the perks of being on a second draft instead of a first, I guess. It’s actually because I’ve been pretty paralyzed at the idea of releasing the thing, just, you know, in general.

Anyone who tells you that you should just write for yourself is either a liar or already extremely famous. To act like your creations are not made with the intent of sharing them makes no sense to me. Obviously one should write for themselves in the sense that they create what they want to create…but creativity is a form of communication and expression. To that end, the idea of putting my all into this work only to have two or three people read it is enough to have me lie in bed and never get out of it.

I think my general lack of self-esteem does a good job of exacerbating this issue. You’re kind of expected to believe that everything you make is “good.” No one wants to hear about what you don’t like about your work — unless of course, you mention it after said work has become popular, in which case it’s seen as humbling. Hell, even writing this makes me feel like I’m being…hmm. Ungrateful? Which is a weird description, but pretty accurate, I think. It feels like I’m expected to just be happy with what I get when I finish this novel. But not addressing the fact that I want as many people as possible to read this stupid thing feels disingenuous.

I don’t know if The Freelancers will be great as I work on it. I don’t even know if it will be good. I don’t know if people will want to read it, or tell other people that they should read it. If creativity is a form of communication, lack of interest is a pretty good litmus test for quality, shallow as it sounds. I think this writing block has just been sitting here because I have to come to terms with the fact that the immense effort I put into making this book will not be met with much in return. I think that’s supposed to feel freeing, but for me it’s just depressing. Oops.

This is probably — well no, it is — the reason I’ve been writing so much fanfiction recently. The instant feedback you get from it is kind of addictive, I’m not going to lie. People know what Kingdom Hearts and Nier Automata are. The barrier of getting people to care about your characters and the world they inhabit is non-existent when it comes to fanfic, and all that’s left is for people to read what you wrote. That’s freeing, but it’s also not what I want, creatively.

A lot of this plays into how social media works, and vying for the attention and time of people with less and less of it. Most people don’t even read the most popular and critically acclaimed books that are coming out now. Why would they read this random thing that I’m writing? I don’t have a publisher. I don’t have much in the way of marketing skills. I am nobody, and I don’t see why I should continue to try.

Alright, PHEW, that all comes across as very depressing, which I don’t mean for it to be. It’s just been something I’ve been thinking about a lot. Hell I’m far from the only person who’s struggled with these thoughts. But I am struggling with them, so…regardless, I don’t plan on quitting any time soon, mostly out of stubbornness than anything else. I’ve come this far, all that’s left is finishing it, putting it behind me, and getting prepped for the next project. Because I think, regardless of how I feel about myself or my creations, I won’t be able to stop making things. It’s in my nature, as cheesy as that sounds. If you’ve stuck around this far, and you do plan on reading The Freelancers when it comes out, know that I’m extremely grateful. If you couldn’t tell, I’m kind of dying for validation here. Whoops!

Freelancers Excerpt – Kat and Coretta

Art by @spacegarbage

Pretty much the entire novel is being changed on the Freelancer’s second draft, but one thing I’m pretty sure I got right is the moment Coretta and Kat start dating. It is a pretty good balance of cheese and fluff, in my opinion, and other than changing it to first person, it’s probably going to still go like like this. So here’s a peek!

Coretta offered to take Kat home. The two girls walked through the deserted nighttime streets. Streetlamps shone on the snow, which had settled into a light, windless fall after the group’s encounter. Kat hardly spoke the entire walk. Coretta wasn’t sure why.

They finally arrived at the gate to Kat’s house.

“Alright…see you,” Coretta said.

“Yeah.” Kat walked through the gate, locking it shut behind her.

Coretta pushed past the dumbbells weighing on her chest to say something. As far as she could remember, she had never fought with Kat before. At least, not like this. They had bickered about stupid things, yes – but this was a Fight, with a capital F. And it scared her.

“Hey, um…did I, do something?” Coretta asked, twirling a finger through her hair as she did so.

Kat turned and stared at the girl for what felt like an eternity. It was a look Coretta had never gotten before.

Still scared.

Kat opened the gate again, letting herself through to stand in front of Coretta. Finally, she spoke.

“What you said to that old man, Coretta? I didn’t expect it from you. Are you sarcastic and kind of a grump? Yeah, no one will dispute that. I like that part about you. You’re to-the-point. You like the things you like and hate the things you don’t. Sometimes I wish I were the same. But I didn’t take you to be selfish.”

Despite herself, Coretta flinched at the use of her full first name.

“Selfish?” Coretta asked, digging her feet into the cement. “I’m selfish for not wanting to get hurt in some fight that has nothing to do with me, for people that don’t care about me, with powers I didn’t even ask for? That makes me selfish?”

“Yes, Coretta, I’m sorry, but it does. I get it. You hate this town. I know better than anyone what that feels like, and you know that. But you know something else?”

Kat balled her hands into small fists.

“At least I try. I try to look on the bright side of things. I try to get through, day-by-day, even when it feels like throwing myself off a building would be a million times easier. I try to climb over this garbage dump of a town to see the sky every once and a while.”

Kat took a step forward, looking up at Coretta.

“And you help me do that, Cora. Sometimes you’re the only thing keeping me going. Seeing your goofy, perpetual frown – or better yet, your even goofier smile – is one of my favorite parts of the day.”

“It…it is?” Coretta had turned beet red. She didn’t even know she could do that. Kat giggled.

“Yes, dummy, it is.” The girl turned her gaze downward. “But after hearing what you said back there…I can’t help but wonder if you don’t feel the same way about me.”


“Because it feels like you’ve given up. On everything. You want to turn your back on saving this town. But what if we could do something to make it better? What if we could turn it into a place that accepts us?”

Coretta looked down at Kat. She had never noticed the green tinge in her eyes before today.

“I don’t know if it will, Kat. Change doesn’t happen that easily.”

Kat took another step closer, a mischievous grin spread across her face. “We’ll make things change.”

Coretta scratched her nose, eyes darting in either direction. “I, uh, I don’t know if I need it to change. It’d be great, and you got me, I’m onboard for Operation: Save the Town. But I’m just saying. It’s not a hard requirement for me.”

Kat’s eyes widened. “Why not?”

Coretta shut her eyes tightly. “Because…I have…you.”

Saying each word aloud felt like pushing a boulder up a flight of stairs. Coretta’s eyes remained closed. She was too afraid to open them back up to see Kat laughing in her face. The silence and stillness of the air made it feel like she had drifted off into space.

Coretta was about to open her eyes again, to take back everything she had just said, when she felt the touch of Kat’s lips against hers.

It was so brief, she thought she had imagined it. Coretta’s eyes shot open. Before she could process it, Kat was already closing the door of her house behind her. Coretta stood on the sidewalk, the wind suddenly whipping up, causing snow to stick into her afro.

“…Did that just happen?” she asked, to no one in particular.

If Coretta stared at her phone any longer, it might have snapped in two out of sheer performance anxiety.

A text appeared on the girl’s phone. She swiped it up, eager to see what Kat had said in the group chat.

Except, the message wasn’t for the group.

It was for her.

Coretta felt her heart pounding in her chest, her finger hovering over the message icon. Finally, she tapped it open.

“Can we meet up?”

That…wasn’t as earth-shattering as Coretta thought it was going to be. But it still made her incredibly nervous. There was none of Kat’s usual exclamation points and smiley faces. They were still in “Serious Mode.” Coretta chose her words carefully.

“Yeah, of course. Where at?”

Another minute of anticipation.

“My place. Parents are on business again.”

Coretta’s heart jumped up into her throat. She’d been to Kat’s place before, of course. But things were different now. The rules had changed.

“Alright. Be there in 15,” she responded after a few deep breaths.

“Coretta and I will be there,” Kat responded to the group chat, a few seconds later. “We’ll be a little late.”

Coretta rose to leave. Her mom cleared her throat as she busied herself in the kitchen.

“Are you going to go see Kat?” she asked.

Coretta did her best to hide her blush. “Y-yeah.”

Anne looked the girl up and down, before smirking.

“She finally told you how she feels for real, huh?”

Coretta nearly tripped over her seat.

“Wh-what are you talking about, ma?”

Anne tapped her daughter on the nose with a swift boop. “Sweet child. I am your mother. I held you in my belly for months, and I’ve been taking care of you for four presidential terms since. There is literally nothing on this green earth that I can’t tell about you. Crushes included.”

The burden of her secret turmoil finally lifted, Coretta let out a deep sigh. “It’s weird, mom…it’s like, things have changed. We’ve been friends for so long. I don’t know if we can go back to that now.”

“Do you want to?” Anne asked.

“Yes. No. I don’t know!” Coretta said, throwing her hands in the air. Her siblings giggled at her yet again. Anne hushed them, before lifting Coretta’s chin up to look her in the eye. “Listen to me, kid. If you don’t feel for Kat the same way she does as you, then you shouldn’t lie to her, or yourself. You’ve been stuck to each other like glue for ages now. I don’t think this would be enough to break you two. But. This is something that you can’t take back easily. Be honest with yourself. You have to choose.”

Anne winked. “Plus, Kat’s very cute. You could certainly do worse.”

Coretta ducked her way out of her mom’s embrace, groaning. “I’m going to go before I die of embarrassment.”

“Good luck sweetie! We’re rooting for you!” Anne and the twins waved at Coretta as she closed the door behind her.

Coretta knocked on Kat’s door, gulping as she did so. No response. She was probably in the garden behind the house. Coretta steeled herself, taking one shaky step after another towards the backyard.

She was always so surefooted, so certain of herself. But now it was like Coretta’s whole world was turned upside down. Why was this happening?

Coretta turned the corner. There she found Kat, sitting on the swing chair her parents had built for them when they were kids. Her eyes were closed, her headphones clamping down on her unruly blonde hair. Coretta could see flecks of paint on Kat’s fingers, and in the frilly white blouse the girl was wearing underneath her scarf and coat. Coretta took a few steps towards the chair, gulping. Sensing the girl’s approach, Kat opened her eyes. She gave Coretta a small smile.

“Hey,” she said. It was quite possibly the quietest the girl had ever been. Coretta didn’t know if she wanted to hug her or hop the fence and sprint away, never to return.

“Hey,” Coretta managed to say back. Kat patted the spot next to her. Coretta hopped in, letting the swing carry the two of them backwards, before settling into a comfortable rhythm. Kat turned to her friend.

“We probably…have a lot to talk about, don’t we?” she said, letting out a nervous giggle. Coretta nodded. Kat looked out at the snow-covered garden.

“I…um. I guess I should say I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have just sprung up on you like that.”

“Oh. It’s okay.”

Kat propped herself on one elbow, her hand over her eyes. Her face was red, an embarrassed smile unable to hide itself. “I just couldn’t help myself. I think…I guess I really wanted to do that, for a long time.”

Coretta shifted from one leg to the next. “How long have you felt this way?” she asked.

“When I turned thirteen. I had told you the week before my birthday that I really wanted that poster of Sailor Moon. You know, the one at the place we used to buy comics from? You couldn’t afford it, obviously, because it was limited edition and you were fourteen. You didn’t have any money. But you were too proud to ask your mom for help. So you drew it yourself. From memory.”

Coretta remembered. “It was awful. I’m pretty sure it was the first and last time I ever picked up a paintbrush.”

Kat choked back a laugh. “It was beautiful. It was the nicest, cutest thing anyone outside of my parents had ever done for me. I don’t remember a single other gift I got that day. All I cared about was that stick-figure Sailor Moon poster.”

The wind blew through the swing chair, tousling Kat’s hair.

“I still have that poster,” she said. It was true, displayed prominently above Kat’s mirror, its own special spot free of any other wall decorations.

“You really couldn’t tell I had feelings for you?” Kat asked.

“I dunno…my mom made jokes sometimes, but I thought she was just being her usual self. I’m really bad at this sort of thing, Kat. You could wear a neon sign that said “I Like You” and I’d still question if you were being for real.”

Kat turned her whole body towards Coretta, now looking her directly in the eye.

“I’m being for real,” she said.

Coretta scratched her cheek, unable to meet Kat’s gaze. “Yeah, I can see that now, haha…”

“Are you mad that I kissed you?” Kat asked.

“What? No, of course not.”

“Do you…like that I kissed you?”

“I…I think so?”

“Can I kiss you again?”

Coretta’s heart felt like it was about to burst out of her chest. She came to the sudden realization that she hated being sixteen.


Kat pushed herself over to Coretta. She lay a delicate hand against the girl’s cheek, before leaning in to kiss her again.

Coretta thought she was prepared, now free of the element of surprise. She wasn’t. Even if one were to not count yesterday’s events, this would still be her first kiss. She wasn’t even sure if she was doing it right. But she knew she was enjoying it.

Kat pushed herself back, her eyes trained on Coretta.

“Is this okay?” she asked.

“I…I don’t know, Kat. I really like you. Like, a lot. And I do feel like this is something that could work.” “


“But what if it doesn’t?” Coretta said, rubbing her face in exasperation. “We’ve been friends for five years now, almost six. What if this doesn’t work? What if this – us – what if it ruins that? I don’t want to lose my best friend.”

Coretta expected Kat to be upset, or at least to frown. But she was smiling. “Can I be honest with you?” she asked.

“We just kissed in your backyard. I would like you to be honest for this entire conversation.”

“I honestly can’t picture any part of my life without you, Coretta. Whether we’re a couple or not. I have these feelings for you because we’re so close, you know. Even if you didn’t feel the same. But after what that old man told us yesterday, I just knew I couldn’t go any longer without telling you how I really felt. What with the world ending and all, heh.”

Coretta stared at her childhood friend. The person that seemed to understand her more than anyone else. The one that shared her deepest secrets, and who Coretta could confide to in kind. Who had stuck with her for as long as Coretta could remember. They were partners, a team that could take on anything their crappy town threw at them. And Coretta realized she couldn’t picture a life without her either. “Cora?” Kat asked, waiting for her response. Coretta leaned forward.

This time she was the one that kissed Kat.

Thanks for reading, hope you liked the gay!!!

Character Intro: Kat Rush

I figured I should talk about The Freelancers now and then, especially now that I’m getting into this new draft properly and have finally escaped the exposition desert. Really though I just wanna talk about Kat!

I love Kat Rush. She’s not my main character – rather, she’s Coretta’s childhood friend – but she’s definitely my favorite (don’t tell the others). She’s a beam of sunshine that’s always looking at the bright side of things. She’s fashionable and also extremely gay, with supportive parents, both software developers. I actually based her dad on a friend of mine, who read the book’s first draft. I don’t think he’s noticed yet. :3

I try not to have Kat only defined by her positivity, though – she won’t take shit from anyone, and calls out other members of the party when they need to get their act together. She’s really an anchor for these kids. 

Kat Rush, Mint? Isn’t that a little on the nose? Yes, but I’m not ashamed of it. Gravity Rush is one of my favorite games, and Kat is one of my favorite characters, so I had to rep the series in some way. This shows itself in Kat’s personality but was also reflected in her particular psychic power, which was flight. However, I couldn’t figure out a good way to incorporate flight into the story in any meaningful way. It never really came up, and I couldn’t use it effectively, so I scrapped it. In its place, the things that Kat draws take physical form. This makes more sense because she’s an artist with a bit of an online following, so it ties into her character more. 

My favorite part of The Freelancers is writing out Coretta and Kat’s interactions. They play off each other really well, with Coretta’s stoic attitude never enough of a match for Kat’s easy sociability. Their moments are where my dialogue really shines. Writing Kat is always a joy, so I hope people like her when they finally get to meet her! 

Kat’s first design, by @astronauts321!

Coretta and Kat – Music Choices

When I’m not in the mood to write the main plot of Freelancers, I try to warm myself up with slice-of-life stuff that might not appear in the main story, but keep me on my toes, letting me keep writing and staying in the zone. It is stupid that intent is fickle and my dumb brain is preventing me from finishing this novel sooner than I’d like, but so it goes.

That said, here’s one of those SoL stories, about Coretta and Kat exchanging music taste. It’s my favorite one so far, but I might post others.

Kat swung back on the bed. 

“Give me your phone,” she said.

“Why?” Coretta asked.

“I wanna see what music you’ve got!” 

Coretta thought for a moment, before handing her phone to Kat. Before her girlfriend could grab it, however, she pulled the phone back, pointing a finger to the ceiling.

“Sharing one’s taste in music is an extremely important and personal moment, Kat. Please consider that as you scroll through my 10,000+ tracks.”

“Ten thous – okay, alright, this is clearly very important to you, so I will take it seriously.” 

Coretta gave Kat her phone. The girl began to scroll.

“The Procussions, Kendrick Lamar, Vince Staples, KOHH, Denzel Curry…damn Cora, you go hard.” 

Coretta shrugged. “It’s a statement. Anti-establishment. Fuck the police and all that. Especially in this town.”

Kat’s thumb left the phone. She looked up at her girlfriend.

“Diana Ross?” she asked. Coretta turned red.

“What about her? It’s Your Move is a bop. I dare you to tell me otherwise.” 

“Fair, fair.”

“Speaking of fair, I wanna see your stuff,” Coretta replied. “Pass me that phone.” 

Kat traded her phone with Coretta, who flew through genres and artists with precision.

“What the hell is a Yunomi?” the girl asked. “Passion Pit, Bo En…you’re hipster trash, Kat.”

“You get those for free!”

Kat scoffed. “Wha – Passion Pit isn’t even that obscure! You just listen to one genre of music. And Diana Ross, apparently.”

“Eh.” Coretta continued. “F**K BOYS GET MONEY,” she read aloud. “I like this one. This is good. I haven’t even listened to it yet but I dig it. Oh hey, Casin. I have the Shake That remix. You know, the one that goes ‘two to the one to the one to the three, I like good  -“

“Okay you definitely do not have to finish that lyric,” Kat replied, this time blushing herself. Coretta grinned at her embarrassment. 

“It’s true though.”

“You are unbelievable…I need to get you into some new stuff. Want me to send you some tracks later?” 

Coretta turned to give her girlfriend her phone back. “On one condition.”


“Only if you give me a kiss.”

Kat jumped on Coretta, snuggling into her shoulder.

“You get those for free!” 

Hope you didn’t get your daily sugar intake for the day because you probably just overdosed, hehe.

Being serious though, I love writing stuff like this. It’s nice to unwind with some fluff now and then. Not that there isn’t any of that in the novel proper, but I do want to try and weave this sort of thing into the story, next to the superpowered, save-the-town stuff. 

Freelancers Update – 10/15/2018

I’m actually doing things, which is nice. I made that map, which, while extremely crude, does what it needs to do, i.e. give the town a sense of place with things and their relative distance from one another. Even if the reader forgets, it helps me when describing setting. Here it is:

A map of Clifford.

As you can see, it’s as rough as I described it. I like to think that Coretta drew it herself when she was younger – it would certainly explain “Lake Sadness,” which I’m sure is not what the actual town calls it. It also takes the heat off of my bad handwriting…

Beyond that, I’ve actually started writing the second draft. I’m still “only” on the first draft, but it has expanded…drastically. It’s 2000 words and not even close to where I want it. I’ve actually described setting and have a better idea of where I want to story to begin, which certainly helps. It feels weird to be happy with what I’m writing – like I’m betraying my sensibilities as a writer. But I guess that’s what you get when you actually write a second draft, instead of just going with what you vomited out the first time around.


One other misc. point: I’ve changed Kat’s power. Originally it was flight, hemming closely to her Gravity Rush namesake. But there wasn’t really a reason for her to do it. It was hard to incorporate in any way and barely showed up in the first draft, so I knew it needed to be scrapped. In its place, Kat has the ability to bring the things she draws to life. Not only is this more unique of an ability, it helps to tie into Kat’s personality and background – she’s an artist with a bit of an online following, so it makes sense than just being able to fly.

That’s pretty much all I’ve got at the moment. I’ll hopefully have more to say as I progress through the rest of this second draft, and if I think of anything I want to comment on, I’ll through it in here.