So, I’ve been busy recently with some stuff, which means that writing has been a bit on the slow side.

Any of you who have finished the third Freya Snow by now might have noticed the fact that the usual sneak peek of the next book was missing. This was thanks to the writing of the book being so behind that the section I had planned for the sneak peek hadn’t been looked over yet. But now it has been, so I thought now would be a good time to give you guys that look at the next book:

The taxi took them to another glass building, even larger and more impressive than the hotel had been. Freya felt her hands go clammy and tried to inconspicuously wipe them off on her dress. Anna turned to look at her just as she did so, giving her a withering glare.

Freya shrivelled up in response as Anna gracefully moved out of the car. Freya followed her after just a moment, feeling clumsy as she struggled to get out without flashing her knickers to the street.

Anna strode into the building and Freya hurried to catch up with her. By the time she reached the other woman, Anna was already at the front desk, retrieving a plastic card that said GUEST, along with a lanyard, from the receptionist.

“Here,” she said, passing it to Freya before striding off again.

Freya quickly pulled it over her head, causing her to stumble a little as she tried to keep up with Anna’s pace. Thankfully, it gave her little chance to glance around, since every time she did catch a glimpse of something, it intimidated her. From the fanciest printers she had ever seen, to the clearly designer clothing a lot of the employees were wearing, everything seemed to scream to Freya that she didn’t belong there.

Anna took her to a lift before hitting the button for the top floor.

Freya focused on the buttons in front of her, since there was a glass pane behind her, gradually revealing the city as they rose. Freya had never been all that bothered by heights, but there were heights and then there were heights.

Thankfully, the lift was fairly swift, and she stepped off before she started to feel too nauseous.

There was a single black door in front of them, standing stark against the pristine white walls.

“The boss is waiting for you through there,” Anna told her before stepping back into the lift, the doors swiftly closing behind her.

Freya turned back to face the black door, goosebumps rising as the silence of the corridor roared in her ears.

After several moments of clenching and unclenching her fists in anxious thought, she finally knocked on the door.

The knock was barely audible, even to Freya’s ears, and she silently reprimanded herself for getting so worked up over a door when she regularly faced down Demons.

“Come in,” a voice called, despite Freya’s pathetic knock.

Freya opened the door, her clammy hand slipping a little on the metal handle and leaving an obvious hand-print that made her self-conscious.

Beyond the door was a room that was almost blinding. The walls, the floor, the desk, the chairs and the computer on the desk were all an immaculate shade of pure white.

Except for one wall – which wasn’t a wall, but a large window showing the whole city beyond – and the woman standing in front of it, her back to Freya.

The woman’s dress and heels were white, but her hair was jet black, cut to her jawline.

“I- I’m Freya,” Freya eventually managed, wondering if that was the right thing to say. “Anna said you wanted to see me?”

The boss turned to finally look at her, revealing that she was a Japanese woman who was maybe in her thirties.

“Of course,” the woman said before indicating to the chair in front of the desk. “Have a seat.”

Freya sat down jut as the woman did the same on the other side of the desk, before pushing a mug forward, towards Freya.

“Here, have some coffee.”

“Thank you,” Freya said, taking the mug. She sipped at the drink, finding it hot, but not enough to burn her, with just the right amount of milk.

“I suppose you’re wondering just who I am and why you’re here?” the woman asked.

Freya nodded.

“I have gone by many names. Destiny, Lady Luck, Fate… Any belief in a force controlling the circumstances around a person come back to me.”

Freya blinked at that. She shouldn’t be so surprised, she knew – this wasn’t her first time meeting one of the Big Three, after all – but she certainly hadn’t been expecting to meet Fate herself.

“As to why you’re here,” Fate continued, “I have a matter that needs to be taken care of and it’s outside the expertise of my Oracles. I thought another Angel would be best suited to the task.”

“What is it you need me to take care of?”

Fate leaned back in her chair a little, her perfectly neutral mask slipping just a little to show a weariness that Freya wouldn’t have thought possible from her before that moment. “One of my Oracles has gone missing,” she explained. “My niece, as a matter of fact. I believe the two of you are acquainted.”

Freya frowned. She didn’t know any Oracles, just a few Seers, like-

Freya could have smacked herself as she realised why her best friend’s magic had always felt like her own.

“Alice. Alice is the Oracle that’s missing.”

Fate nodded.

“But how can she be an Oracle? She’s only a little older than me. Not old enough to have been born before Hope scarred the Earth.”

“You are not the only one born through a loophole in your grandmother’s spell,” Fate explained. “My sister, another Oracle, was tricked into believing that the spell meant that she could never bear children. She agreed to a spell that she believed would grant her an ability she already had, but instead it ensured that another Oracle could be born. One magic traded for another.”

Freya frowned. “Who would trick her like that?”

“Fae. They saw a way to interfere with my plans and they took it. Anything to get back at the Creator, and those who serve Her.”

“So, Alice is missing?”

Fate nodded. “She disappeared a week ago and no one has been able to track her down. I thought, between your bond with her and your unique skill-set, you would have a better chance of finding her and bringing her back safely.”

“Do you think it’s the Fae again?”

“I uncovered that rock personally, and found nothing. I doubt they are involved.”

“Do you have any leads?”

“You’ll have to ask Anna. She was the Oracle in charge of finding Alice before I decided to bring you in, and she was the last one to see her.”

Freya nodded.

“You will, of course, be compensated for your time on this job. You’ll find the sum I provide far more satisfying than the paltry amount you make from bounties. After all, I often have need of someone with your unique talents.”

Freya frowned as something occurred to her. “What if I wanted something other than money?”

“Name your price.”

“My memories. From the week last year when the balance of magic in the city was upset. After I altered everyone’s memories, Alice still knew what had happened. Could you give me back my original memories from that week?”

“I could, but I won’t.”

“Why not?”

“Because spells of that magnitude require sacrifice. You proceeded with the spell, knowing full well that you would lose important things if you did so. You deemed it worth the cost. If I returned your memories to you now, it would invalidate that sacrifice, and the spell. People would start to remember.”

“But I’m not sure it was worth it. Can you tell me that much at least?”

“No. I simply do not know if it was worth it, Freya. Not to you. Only you could ever know that, and only if you held your memories once more. All I know is that, in the moment when you cast the spell, you thought it was. You’ll just have to trust yourself to have made the right decision.”

Freya nodded reluctantly, but Fate’s words did nothing to settle her unease about the situation.

“Do you have anything else to tell me?”

“No, that’s everything I know. You’ll have to talk to Anna if you want to learn more.”

Freya nodded before leaving the room.

So, I’m doing a thing this summer. In September/October, I’ll be (probably?) starting down my postgrad path. Fun for me, but it will probably leave little time for writing. So, I’m trying to get all of the Freya Snow books until next summer written now.

It’s actually been going pretty well. I’m should have the fifth book finished by the end of the week, meaning that all of 2016’s books will have been written.

The thing about book five is that it largely centres around Sarah, a character who briefly appeared in the third book. This meant a whole lot of research since, as people who have read the third book probably remember, she’s Deaf.

So I went about collecting resources so that I could be as well-read as possible on the subject, but I realised about half way through the process that I was filtering the resources based on my own knowledge of resources for writing autistic characters. Many of the red flags were the same, and I imagine they remain consistent regardless of which disability you’re trying to write.

But it occurred to me that people might be reading the bad resources in good faith, simply because they don’t know what makes a good or bad resource.

So, here are my tips for avoid bad resources.

Not Written By an Autistic Person

Seriously, this one’s important. If you’re looking for writing resources specifically, you will come across a lot of writing blogs that were asked about writing autistic characters.

If their response is to put together a masterpost of other resources, then that’s fine. You can judge each of those resources on their own merits.

However, I’ve seen a lot of responses that are “Well, I don’t have X disability, but here are a bunch of stereotypes and technical advice on how to adhere to these stereotypes in your writing”. If they start with “I don’t have autism” and then attempt to give advice on writing autistic characters regardless, my advice is to run. Run far away. They will be perpetuating things that they have picked up through reading popular but deeply offensive works. *Cough*TheCuriousIncidentoftheDogintheNighttime*Cough*

No, Seriously, Even if they Know an Autistic Person or are the Parent of an Autistic Person

Look, the parental posts are usually well-meaning. Often parents get frustrated at being unable to find books for their kids with people like them in them, so they write blog posts for writers to help them understand their child.

And there are some really good parent blogs out there. But for every good one, there are a thousand terrible ones. And if you haven’t grown up with a disability, it can be difficult to tell the difference between the two. There is a very specific way parents of disabled children sometimes talk that looks sweet and well-meaning from the outside, but is actually incredibly icky and awkward for their child. It’s a weird self-congratulatory way of talking about how they “deal” with their child’s disability that often seeks to erase the disability as an important part of their life.

If you haven’t experienced it, you probably can’t tell the difference, so don’t rely on being able to. Just set the resource aside and move on.

To Be Treated With Caution: “I’m Autistic, but I am Not Part of and Don’t Agree With the Community at Large” or “I’m Autistic and Hate my Autism”

Look, there are people out their who hate the fact that they have autism. Who would take a cure tomorrow if you presented them with one. I’m not going to pretend that that’s not true.

But any allistic writer should stay a million miles away from that narrative. Seriously, just stay far far away from it.

The thing is, any outsider writing a minority character who has issues with self-loathing will always come across as loathing that minority themselves.

It all ties into the idea that you can write about minority characters, but you cannot write about the experience of belonging to a minority that you’re not a part of.

So resources where the autistic writer disparages the autistic community or disagrees with autistic pride should be taken with a grain of salt, and definitely should only be a minor fraction of your list of resources.

They can be informative, I am in no way denying that. They can often have a lot of useful information about the exact difficulties people with autism face in the world without sugar coating, but you are very likely to pick up some things they’ve said that are heavily tinged with internalised ableism. On the page, it will just look like you are being ableist.

If you want a safe starting point, here’s one list of resources that should all be fine.

Further Reading: Common Signs that an Autism Resource is Bad (for general resources, not writing specific ones)