Serial Mirage is an episodic story, most episodes running between fifteen and twenty thousand words, that initially focuses on one particlar group of people, but which already has branches planned. Storylines may then run in parallel, or altogether at a tangent. Characters will come and go.
This series has been influenced by a number of existing works, both print and on the web. However, it isn't a fanfic or a spinoff; it tries to stand on its own, establishing characters in a milieu with which I am familiar, facing problems about which I still, occasionally, obsess. That's not to say that it's autobiographical (it isn't), just that the oddest events and characters are likely to be the ones based on fact; the boring bits are more likely to be attempted invention.
Part of the fascination of the serial format is the ability to explore: how would it be different, if ...? Everyone is different, has different issues and different strengths, so it's not possible to control a single variable (that would be Serial Groundhog or maybe Groundhog Cereal (for breakfast, yum!)), but there are issues and then there are issues. What's it like to be supported? What's it like to be in a totally dysfunctional family from hell?
It turns out to be difficult to predict how the series is going to turn out, even though it's extensively planned in advance, and generally has plot outlines sketched for a year or two years beyond the place that's currently published. Jamie's "saga" has absorbed more than expected, so there are several characters waiting, impatiently, in the wings for their grand entrances (and one whose appearances, to date, seem mostly to draw boos and hisses, but who continues to take the stage).
The Mirage of the series title is a reference to denial, and perhaps to the dreams and visions of the characters (transgendered or otherwise). Some of the projected storylines already move away from the initial focus on gender identity issues. They remain focused on identity, especially identities that are at odds with social constructions: orientation, preferences, kinks, exclusivity.
The Serial part, however, has very little to do with the RS-232 specification. Then again, few of the devices manufactured to connect that way ever had much to do with the specification, either.
Influences are, first of all, The Saga of Tuck, by Ellen Hayes (if you haven't read it, go there now), which triggered the thought that, hey, one of the problems with self-contained stories and novels and things like that is precisely the closure they achieve. Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans, and it's rather serial until it's terminal. But Serial Terminal seems a rather silly name, no? ;-)
Once the idea of a series was firmly established, other influences became apparent very quickly. A notable one is Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City, set in very nearly the same time (though a quite different place and culture). That series contributes the concept that characters can come and go, rather like a soap opera. So this isn't the Saga of Jamie. The season-long story arcs in television serials like Xena, Buffy, Angel, and The X-Files also contribute something, and their changing cast of characters does as well (although all but one of these is really a Saga of Somebody, I suppose). And perhaps it all goes back to TOFOHSTTT, but that's prolly better left unmentioned.
Linking and Searching
Feel free to share this with friends, but I'm not that interested in publicity (this part of the site won't show up in search engines, in theory). The site is now open for visitors. Link it, if the spirit moves you. Ego-boo is also always appreciated, of course.
License and Copyright
This material is released under the Creative Commons Attributions-Noncommercial-ShareAlike license, for the most part. What that means, in a nutshell (but read the license if you're going to take advantage of it!) is that derivative works are perfectly permissible, but you need to provide an attribution if you use characters or settings developed here; you can't charge money for it (at all, period), and any derivative must use the same license. If you need a different license for it, ask (you may not get it, but you can ask). You can't unilaterally change the license; I can license it however I like. Right now, this is the only way I like.
It appears that some people aren't clear on the license terms, or think, for some reason, that they're particularly onerous. So I'll try to clarify, again. First, I'm not all that interested in mirrors. If you rilly-rilly wanna make a mirror, then I'm definitely not interested in seeing some alternate, possibly extravagantly broken HTML. Present it in the format it's in; okay. Rewrite; not okay. Someone who wants to mirror it that way could presumably do so just by copying files over; if you're thinking about it, though, ask me and we can prolly make it easier than that. Don't mirror the PDF files. Those are not redistributable, and a mirror is redistribution. Clear so far? Make copies for yourself all you like, print 'em out and give 'em to friends (err, they may turn out to be ex-friends, if you do that), but don't change 'em, do point at this site, and don't charge money.
The license terms were chosen to make it simple for anyone who wants to create "fan-fiction," since that seems to be a common thing to do. It basically says: sure, fine, whatever, just gimme my credit, use the same license, and don't charge for it. You're not being charged for it. It's a "fair's fair" license. You don't have to even ask, so long as you abide by the terms of the license (if you do ask, then I might let you use a different license, and I might also post it here, but the point is that you can fan-fic your heart out without needing any further permission ... so long as you attribute, share alike, and don't try to generate revenue).
It ain't hard. Play nice, have fun.
There's a fairly vocal contingent, among readers of online fiction, who feel betrayed when they discover a story is unfinished. If you're among that number, then the following explanation may ... propitiate your anger. Or not. :-)
First, each of the stories listed above is intended to stand alone (some wobble a bit, but so it goes). My comfort level, in terms of writing length, works out to long novelette (15K words) or short novella (about 25K). Under 15K and it feels "unfinished"; over 25K and it feels as though it needs to be split. In my opinion, this ought to satisfy folks wanting "complete stories;" each story is complete, thanks. They aren't "chapters"; they might be "episodes", but they are complete as they stand.
That won't satisfy some folks, though. So, here's an alternate view: treat the major story arcs as though they were novels. The first six stories (Masquerade, Friend, Girl, Things we do, Breaking up, and Wonderful Tonight) are complete as a sort of longish novel (110K words); call it "Jamie and Gloria: a Duet". The next four stories (Double Vision, Cruel, Dirty, Refugee) are another novel (67K words): call it "Jamie: Solo." Finally (for now), there's a substantial novel in six parts (129K words) that we can call "Curran Girls: Chorale" (Outside, So Cold, Emotional Rescue, Flirtin', Best shot, Logical). The next 'novel' will contain four stories, so if you don't find the stories stand on their own, but are satisfied with the arc-as-novel concept, you'll want to wait to read seventeen through nineteen when twenty appears.
For reference: A short story is less than 7.5K; a novelette 7.5K–17.5K; a novella 17.5K–40K; a novel over 40K. There is no actual upper limit to a novel, except the pragmatic one: if you write an epic exploration of a fantasy world complete with an appendix on languages, don't be surprised when your publisher chops the 450K words into a trilogy of three 150K novels.
If the idea that another story might appear in the same universe is what marks it "incomplete" to you, then you aren't going to ever enjoy reading anything that I write, so I recommend that you look elsewhere.
If you have comments, or see a typo, or something of that nature, you can send email to the author. Questions to the same address; if enough people ask the same sorts of questions, we might do a FAQ.
... for their help in improving the story (proofing, editing, Boggling and Falling Down, pom-poms ... wait, no, that was someone else).
Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to write the author (you know who you are, and I definitely won't forget).
Thanks to chocolate, that astonishingly delectable combination of tryptophan and caffeine that's always been there for me, even in the worst of times. :-)
This is just a simple list of current publication status. For more information, you may want to see the News page.
Proofers welcome to apply. Hours aren't too long, but the wages suck and the bitch in charge is impossible to cope with.
- In proof:
- First draft complete:
- [4 drafted, 3 proofed, all returned to incomplete status but should be complete-able]
- Outlined, incomplete, or fragmentary: