Perchance to Patreon

There’s been a lot of controversy the last week in the m/m world concerning authors who have Patreons set up. Patreon is basically a service artists (from all walks of life, like photographers, musicians, painters, filmmakers, models, you name it) can employ for fans who wish to support them in ways beyond buying their end product.

Patrons have been around for thousands of years. Shakespeare had patrons, and considering some of the salacious rumors surrounding just how much of himself he shared with his patrons, it’s possible he took it to levels well beyond what the modern patron does through the Patreon website. The artists of the Renaissance had patrons, and how many of you have seen the Starz network TV show Spartacus? Ilithyia, Glaber’s wife, became a patron of the House of Batiatus, promising enough money to completely cover the expense of training and caring for one of the gladiators. While parts of that show are not historically accurate, this detail is, and Spartacus lived a hundred years before Christ’s birth.

So patronage is not a new thing, though it has morphed into something the modern artist can take advantage of digitally, and in ways people from all walks of life—not just the rich—can take advantage of.

Being writers, we don’t get a fixed income. I know 60 days in advance what I’m going to get from Amazon. Payments from Draft 2 Digital—my distributor through Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Inktera—are monthly, so we know what we’re getting there as it hits our accounts. ARe were great at telling us what to expect each quarter, until they decided to keep it all instead. And my French publisher is still in the process of translating Power Exchange.

There is little margin for error in living like this. The most I get is 2 months’ notice that what I’m bringing in isn’t going to pay the bills—less than that if I switched to KU for my income, because Amazon only decides what they’re paying those authors two weeks after the month-end. Two months is nothing if you need to scramble to find a job, start working, and earn your first paycheck before then.

“So, if you can’t cover your bills through writing, get a job that does cover them,” some people might say.

I released 2 books in 2016. That’s the same output I had when I was working full time as a corporate drone, not the doubled quantity I’d hoped for when I was laid off and in a position to really have a go at the writing gig. Why?

Because I have gotten another job. 2 of them, in fact. I’ve picked up transcription work and have also become a virtual assistant for a multitude of clients… a lot of whom are like me, artists who are trying to free up their time from the doldrums of business running so they’ll have more time for their creations. I’ve also watched my wife, who only released one book at the beginning of 2016, become completely inundated with virtual assistant work to the detriment of her writing career. Kate has a post about her side of this as well, and you can read it here.

We are killing ourselves to make ends meet, and not because we’ve mismanaged funds, or because we’ve sat on our asses eating ice cream in front of the TV all day. Kate spent thousands to move here and a few months later, she had to have emergency surgery, adding thousands in debt to our situation because in this country, healthcare even for non-chronic issues can be enough to bankrupt a person. Amazon keeps changing the algorithms on how they feature books that are selling in order to support their Kindle Unlimited model, which is a royalty vampire for all but the biggest of names involved in it. Those algorithms are what put our books in front of new readers when people are browsing for what to read next. A writer friend of mine said the other day, “Is it any wonder only 15 of the top 100 books on Amazon’s rankings are not KU products?” All Romance eBooks decided to make off with our (and a bunch of others’) royalties for the last quarter of 2016. For Kate, Scribd changed their model in an attempt to compete with KU, and also nixed most romance books out of their inventory (which is why now only 2 of my titles are in it anymore) and that cut our royalties from them down by hundreds.

More $ going out + less $ coming in = unsustainable bill paying + AJ & Kate getting side jobs that have quickly become full time jobs because the paycheck is monthly as opposed to every 60 days for Amazon and descending amounts at varying points in time from the smaller vendors.

So while this might seem to some to be coincidental timing given the latest brouhaha, Kate and I have set up a Patreon after months of waffling back and forth on it. We waffled in part because we’ve seen grumblings like what has become a swell of voices this week decrying the practice, and in part because we keep trying to cover ourselves with “one more client” on both our VA client rosters. And I’ll be honest, there’s a little fear on my part that we’ll do this and the response will be chirping crickets.

We’ve decided to go into this jointly, because it’s all for the same household, and together, we think we can give patrons double the bang for the support—with new writing each month from the both of us, ebooks, signed paperbacks, and swag (plus we might come up with other ways to offer our talents and gratitude to patrons as we get better at this) depending on the tier patrons subscribe to.

For those who think this method of interaction between reader and author is nothing but bribery for content that “should be done out of love” or a demand for more from readers who already buy our works, I totally respect your decision to stick to supporting your chosen authors by buying their distributed works as you see fit. For those who think you’d be interested in helping support Kate and I in exchange for more content in the form of short stories, scene flashes from future works and WIPs, and perks above and beyond the traditional exchange of money for a formatted and edited ebook, check out the link to our Patreon and see if it’s something you might consider supporting.

On another note, as a result of the ARe closure, I realized my readers who prefer the PDF version of my books have no venue from which to purchase them. I’ve taken immediate steps to correct this, joining the Sea to Sky Books family in the hopes of providing readers with another choice in book buying options. My Books page has been updated with the new links to each title. I hope those who once used ARe as a source for buying books will consider this new option, run by Tina Haveman who is the owner/operator of eXtasy Books publishing. I’ve had extensive conversations with Tina and feel this could be the beginning of a good working relationship for both me and my readers alike. Happy reading!

 

Restraint (Power Exchange Book 4) or How This Disastrous Election Won’t Stop Me

I think I’m done reeling from the election results. I might have my balance back. Now, I’m rolling up my sleeves and ready to fight. I’m ready to take on those who want to see immigrants and Muslims and People of Color and LGBTQ people shuffled out of their country, into dark corners, or into some other kind of oblivion. President Trump is the dying gasp of a white patriarchy who can’t handle otherness, and while it may feel like a hurricane force wind right now, I’ve got lungs, too, and I plan to scream back. I will be like Lieutenant Dan, on the mast of a small ship riding stormy waves, screaming into the wind and the rain, “Is that all you got! Come on! Bring it!”

I will not go quietly into the closet/dark corners/oblivion like apparently half the voters in this country would like me and other marginalized groups to do. Nope. This is MY country, too and I absolutely refuse to be a doormat because these people have deemed my differences are not differences they can tolerate.

So much for America the melting pot.

I’ve been kicking around an idea for a 4th Power Exchange (this series has taught me to never say never. It keeps coming back so much I might as well make that the tagline). Ben of all people has been whispering to me, saying, “Hey, I have a story, too. Maybe I’m ready to let you tell it.” It has some legs, so I’ve tinkered out a plot and in the last couple weeks have gotten the first scene down amid a wedding, some serious personal strife that knocked me over like Hulk punching Thor, and this ugly, UGLY election. I cannot promise when Restraint will be released other than to say 2017. But it’s my foremost project, and is the one getting my attention. It may not go as fast as Consent did (4 months to write) or it may. The point is that I’m writing it and in the wake of heartbreaking, devastating news, I wanted to share with my people that maybe we still have things to look forward to. I know I still have a voice, and I plan to use it. I’m going to be getting louder. This is my way of saying I will not sit down, I will not shut up, and in fact, I will write about the love of people like me until I take my literal dying gasp. I will never quit.

So, as a promise to you all, I give you the first scene from Restraint, Power Exchange Book 4. I hope you like it and are excited Ben and Gavin have more to say. Click through to read on.

Continue reading

A Piece of Me

I’m over at Diverse Reader today talking about my feelings from before the UK Meet, and sharing something I’ve held close to the vest since the beginning of my career. Take a peek and drop a comment. Come say hello, maybe make a face with me.

Kim Davis and Why Throwing Her in Jail is Not the Answer

Okay, there’s a lot of information flying around about Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk denying to issue marriage licenses since SCOTUS made same-sex marriage legal in every state. I’m going to try to summarize the information to date. I also have an opinion on why throwing her in jail for contempt of court is not a good idea.

Short summary: SCOTUS ruled in June same-sex marriage was legal in every state. Kim Davis, the circuit clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky, stopped issuing marriage licenses to all couples in response, citing her sincerely held religious beliefs that same-sex marriage is against God’s will. Four couples, two straight and two gay, sued her after several attempts to get marriage licenses. A federal judge, David Bunning, found that Davis’s religious freedom was not being violated because she’s still able to attend church, pray openly, minister to people she’s ministered to for years, and otherwise continue practicing her Christianity. She appealed the decision to the 6th Circuit Court that oversees the federal court where the ruling came down. Bunning granted her a stay while that appeal was being considered. The 6th Circuit Court upheld Bunning’s ruling and ordered her to begin complying with the law by August 31, when Bunning’s stay expired. Davis filed an appeal with the Supreme Court, and was denied. Today, September 1st, the plaintiff couples returned to the circuit clerk’s office for their marriage licenses, only to be denied again.

The most common question I see is a variation on this theme: Why hasn’t she been fired? She’s not doing her job!

She can’t be fired. She’s an elected official. Just as a President of the U.S. has to be impeached, so does she. She also could be ousted by a recall election (think Gray Davis, the governor of California in office before Arnold Schwarzenegger took the spot). An impeachment wouldn’t begin until Kentucky lawmakers are back in session in January 2016, unless a costly special session is convened. These things take time, so in the meantime, Davis sits in the circuit clerk of Rowan County office as head honcho.

Now that she’s continued to defy court orders despite SCOTUS denying her appeal for a stay on Judge Bunning’s ruling that Davis’s religious freedoms are not being violated, what happens next?

The lawyers for the plaintiff’s in this case have filed a motion for Davis to be held in contempt of court for defying a federal ruling (Bunning’s, though she’s also in violation of SCOTUS’s Obergefell decision in June). They’ve requested financial penalties stiff enough to make Davis comply as opposed to holding Davis in the county jail.

I believe there are two reasons for this:
One, as satisfying as it would be to have a Kim Davis mugshot, her incarceration would make the religious right howl in indignation, giving Davis the martyrdom she’s being set up to shoulder. She is the face of all the anti-gay opposition to same-sex marriage in this country. They need their poster girl and she’s IT for the moment. I bet a little digging, and we would see she’s being financially backed by right-wing lobbyists who want to have leverage to pressure their lawmakers for legislation regarding more religious freedom protections. It wouldn’t surprise me to find she’s also getting help from organizations like the Family Research Council, (or especially the FRC, who could be trying to save face after the Josh Duggar debacle, if they weren’t already broke).
Two, as my wife-to-be said so succinctly, making Davis pay stiff penalties would cut into the salary she receives for doing a job she’s no longer performing, and if she bleats about it, it’s harder to sympathize with someone who will appear greedy to keep money paid by taxpayers she’s actively suppressing. Not to mention, a significant fine would feel like a balancing of the scales to those taxpayers paying toward her salary who disagree with her stance.

Another common thread I’ve seen is how can she propose to uphold the sanctity of marriage when she’s been divorced three times, and is on her 4th marriage?

Yes, there’s a lot of hypocrisy in that particular detail, given that one of the couples she’s denied repeatedly have been together for 17 years and she hasn’t seemed to hold onto a husband that long (I don’t honestly know the duration of her marriages, so while that’s what people might be thinking, it’s not fact that she’s been in shorter relationships than the two men in question). However, her personal life is not the issue here. Her personal beliefs may be the root cause of this shitshow, but protesters supporting the discriminated against couples would not be furthering the cause by slinging mud about Davis’s past marriages. Why? Because we’re demanding she refrain from judging the marriages she’s supposed to be giving licenses for, so judging her marriages would make us just as hypocritical.

What’s all this mean?

All I know is if it takes too much time to boot Davis from her elected position, other circuit clerks in defiance of the SCOTUS ruling (thinking Casey Davis, who is no relation to Kim Davis, but also resides in Kentucky) could begin doing the same, and then we’d have a Kim Davis situation in multiple states. We’ll probably see a rise in legislation anyway to protect religious freedoms much like what Indiana and Arkansas have passed this past spring, and it’ll be more two steps forward, one step back for LGBT protections. In the meantime, the more time it takes for Kim Davis to be impeached/recalled from her position, the longer the denied couples have to sit in limbo.

They could just go to another county, some of you might be thinking.

They could. But they shouldn’t have to. They live and pay taxes in Rowan County. They contribute to Rowan County’s economy by shopping and conducting business there. They have just as much right to a marriage license as heterosexual couples (who are also being caught up in this mess), so while going to another county would end with them legally married, that’s not the point. As strong as Kim Davis’s convictions are, so are the couples’ waiting for a license. They have the right, as ordered by the Supreme Court of the United States, to get married in every county, every state of the union.

Rant: Marginalization for Profit

Some of you, but not all, know I’m engaged to Kate Aaron, and because she’s English and I’m American, we have to go through the immigration process. I haven’t posted on it much because frankly, it’s a lot of handwringing, asking why the hell the government needs to know that, and a hell of a lot of loneliness. I don’t want to be a drag, so I don’t talk about it much. However, we’re nearing the end of all the requirements, and only one step remains: Kate’s interview at the US Consulate in London sometime in the coming weeks. Just thinking about it makes my heart pound in anticipation.

One of the discussions we’ve had centers around the question of the best place for her to fly in to the country once her visa is approved (because I cannot allow myself to think of what would happen if we get denied). Despite the possibility that Atlanta may have more flight options, that Delta, whose largest hub and HQ is located at Hartsfield-Jackson International in ATL,  is a better airline than American for those long hauls over the ocean in terms of comfort, and that the cost of the ticket might be cheaper, we’ve decided it would be best for Kate to fly in through Chicago, which likely means American Airlines. Why?

Because marriage equality wasn’t legal in Georgia until SCOTUS ruled it’s legal in all 50 states last month. And because even with a federally recognized marriage visa approval in her hands, she might not have made it through Atlanta’s customs checkpoint with such paperwork. Georgians didn’t have to recognize same sex marriages or any related paperwork.

Now? It doesn’t matter what airport she comes through with her approved marriage visa to make an honest woman out of me.

For obvious reasons, this elates me. But are our equality struggles over? Far from it. There’ve been a slew of articles discussing how we can’t let our momentum slow on helping keep LGBT students from getting bullied, how while the EEOC recently ruled sexual orientation is already a protected class in their handbook, it’s not federally mandated that LGBT people cannot be fired in all states for our orientation. There’s still a MASSIVE homeless problem for LGBT youth. We are nowhere near done with the equality fight.

So when I saw a couple discussions in the last few days from m/m authors asking if sales were likely to suffer (or already have been) because marriage equality renders the coming out rejection angst less of a struggle for gay people, and therefore less of interest to readers who might think such a plot line is now passé, I saw red.

(Warning: stop here if you aren’t ready for a rant of epic proportions, because I’m not going to censor myself this time.)

M/M has exploded in the last few years, going from 50 or so authors to hundreds, going from hundreds or thousands of readers to tens of thousands. (I can’t speak for F/F because I know nothing about that market, but if the acceptance of same sex relationships has a foothold in the growth of readership, it’s not a stretch to assume F/F is comparable.) We’re helping people see the struggles, and yes, one of the biggest in m/m fiction is coming out. To family, friends, coworkers, etc….

I’ve seen so many memes stating how people can’t wait until it’s not gay marriage, it’s just marriage. That there’ll be no need to come out anymore because a guy can casually mention his boyfriend or husband without people falling all over themselves to scream that he’s no longer human, the fucking sodomite! That the girl growing up thinking her fellow teammate on her softball team is hot and that maybe she’ll ask her to the homecoming dance won’t be so worried about getting beat up for doing so.

Will these idealistic ideas ever fully happen? Probably not in total. There will always be people who think two men together is upsetting. Or parents who don’t want their daughter doing more with a girl than being friends. Fine, as long as they’re not allowed to tell those individuals they can’t be with who they love in every way they want to be, including marriage, adoption or other ways to achieve parenthood, when both are in the end stages of life and in need of medical care that accepts their relationship, and finally, death benefits.

The whole point has been to end the marginalization.

So for someone to theorize the lack of marginalization makes LGBT characters no longer interesting, and worse, hits the writer personally in the pocketbook, strips us of our humanity once again. As if our only purpose is to come out in a fiery argument of bible verses and tears (and maybe some physical blows) so the readership can pop their popcorn and watch the trainwreck unfold.

 

So suppressing my rights as a human being if it jeopardizes your plot line wherein you make money off telling a facet of my story is okay? I don’t fucking think so. We need allies who are happy for us right now. Be glad future generations will be more likely to think same sex couples are no big deal when they see us on the street holding hands. Or when Kate gets here and I rush her at the airport to lay a kiss on her lips when I’ve spent the last six months without her, we won’t get scoffed at or called dykes. Be proud that the stories we all tell about LGBT struggles have possibly done good to make those struggles a little less necessary.

Don’t be sad your bank account is emptier because we are now more free.

As long as human beings have strong feelings both for and against each other, there are plenty of plot lines to explore. I’m an angst hoor, so I am a huge fan of plot lines involving inner turmoil, sexual tension, and pining for an unrequited/broken love. I know plot lines exist besides coming out, that LGBT people can be characters in books without the main premise being that they’re gay, and those books are still interesting. LGBT people aren’t one dimensional, and our only struggle isn’t our orientation. We have hidden depths, like bills to pay, and favorite foods and TV shows, and things everyone worries about, like the safety of our loved ones and the direction our careers take. Yes, we’re LGBT, but we’re human first.

Explore plots without relying on coming out rejection angst rather than lament the coming out plots are dying. But don’t you dare say it’s bad that we’re becoming more equal if it makes your bottom line suffer, because all I hear when you say that is my oppression is okay to you as long as you’re making money off my struggles. If you’re not creative enough to come up with something more to write about and move with the times, then shut down your computer and go find a different job. Society is evolving for the better, so either get on the train or get left behind. But don’t you dare say such evolution should slow down or stop so you don’t get stuck on the train platform with your head stuck up your ass.

The Risk in a Read

As a young writer, say ten or eleven, I had dreams. Big dreams, that I’d write a book or fifty, would dominate the shelves at the biggest chain bookstores, would attend signings that were more like rock concerts (what can I say, I had just left behind my hair band days and was a little deluded about fame and that writers shared that kind of fame), and would pen the next ten blockbuster flicks people would rave over. I wanted to be somebody. I wanted to move people with my words.

The reality isn’t glamorous. It’s late nights where I’ve run my fingers through my hair so many times it could do a waltz on its own. Mornings where I literally stumble to the basement in my pajamas with a mug of coffee and don’t look up from my computer until late afternoon. Lunch, you say? Why no, it must have passed me by. Again.

I don’t have Hollywood knocking on my doors, and I don’t have shelves at Barnes & Noble prominently displaying my books. I haven’t heard from any book retailers interested in having me do a reading, and even if they did ask, I’d have to take some serious courage pills to be able to stand in front of strangers and do the reading/signing bit. I am not about to attend the movie premiere of any of my stories-turned-cinema, nor am I scouting for an agent to represent me in talks with a major backer out in L.A. Sad but true, I am living the dream, but now the dream is, “YAY! I can pay my bills with royalties! Hope there’s some left over for wine.”

So I’ve had to readjust some expectations. Justalittlebit.

One of them is the give and take between readers and authors. Every author wants five star reviews with a few one stars thrown in saying the book was well written but with this beloved character being killed off, the reader just couldn’t go on without them, they loved them that much. No author wants to read, “DNF chapter 1 because are you fucking kidding me?” (DNF = did not finish, for those who are new here.)

Let’s shift the expectations again.

Now, I will fully acknowledge I’ve been one lucky fucker since releasing Power Exchange three years ago. I know it’s flawed, and yet people seem to love Ben and Gavin enough to be forgiving of that other stupid thing Gavin does at the end that he really ends up regretting. I get email to this day about that book, telling me they didn’t understand BDSM until they read PE, that they appreciated the love story, and my favorite: that my writing moved them.

My writing moved them.

My writing moved them.

—record scratches and stutters with that itchy white noise—

I have moved people with my words.

Isn’t that one of the big ones I dreamt? Why yes, I believe it is.

People remember my stories weeks after they finish them. They’ve told me that themselves.

So, slowly but surely, I’m getting somewhere. OMG, I’m getting somewhere!

One of the things, however, I didn’t bank on, were the demands.

It is no secret the romance genre requires certain elements to qualify, and if you’d have asked me twenty years ago, when I was still dreaming of this life, if I’d be writing romance, I’d have laughed at you. No, thrillers are where my heart lies.

Except nope. As I grew up, my heart got squeezed by writing stories about people like me, in same-sex relationships, with problems other people have or if the problems are bigger, it’s not the gay characters who end up maimed or dead because that’s the only acceptable HEA.

So if I write what speaks to me, I’m told I fit in romance.

I call bullshit on that, but it’s a work in progress. While I always intended to write dramas or thrillers or mysteries or paranormal stories or horror, I read plenty of those where there was a love interest, too, and that didn’t automatically move them to romance. However, writing LGBT fiction with any kind of love story, it’s pretty much romance with a ton of identifying keywords so the right audience can find it in a search or bust.

Ugh, I hate being told I don’t fit somewhere I want to be.

It smacks of, “Kill the gay character or face the wrath of the readership who don’t sympathize with them.”

It reeks of, “The public isn’t ready for LGBT characters to have romantic interests that work out in a HEA. So don’t give them one.”

It’s heaving with, “People don’t want to read about two guys kissing or falling in love. Two women, sure, because that’s hot (and heh heh, can we watch/join in? Heh heh).”

So the last several years, m/m and the wider LGBT genre has SMASHED the thinking on that bullshit, and what do you know, acceptance for LGBT people as a whole is gaining ground. Are we writers of LGBT romance responsible for that? I’d like to think we have our slice of responsibility in that pie chart, sure.

But it takes open minds of readers, who are willing to challenge themselves in reading a book they’ve never tried before. Or if they’ve tried m/m before, maybe they give a shifter book, or a BDSM book, or a paranormal book a shot when that’s been outside their comfort zone before. The point is, the open minds behind it are required for the growth and furthering of the genre, and indeed, the growth and furthering of ourselves as humans with compassion and honor.

After all, opening minds through books is sort of a writer’s job, right?

So when I see discussions about labels, what are “required warnings” on storylines, is cheating in a plot deserving of a trigger warning, that a book contains a non-HEA, or that there’s multiple pairings within the book, I get upset.

It smacks of, “Kill the gay character or face the wrath of the readership who don’t sympathize with them.”

It reeks of, “The public isn’t ready for LGBT characters to have romantic interests that work out in a HEA. So don’t give them one.”

It’s heaving with, “People don’t want to read about two guys kissing or falling in love. Two women, sure, because that’s hot (and heh heh, can we watch/join in? Heh heh).”

Readers have expectations for romance books, and I get that. We all stick to our favorite genre because we love the comfort it brings, the thrill it induces, that we can reasonably expect entertainment.

But no one changed history by being safe. I wrote a story years ago, about a high school English teacher trying to pass his love on to his students. In that story, he said, “Words have moved nations, romanticized generations, caused and ended wars, corrupted the pious, converted the damned. There’s nothing more powerful than words, except maybe the pen used to immortalize them.”

Nothing more powerful than words, except the pen used to immortalize them.

As proud of that statement as I am, I know it’s not entirely true. It should read, “There’s nothing more powerful than words, except the writer who created and had courage to publish them.”

I am not patting myself on the back, here. That statement stands true even if I’d never written a single word.

But we’re not going to move people to rethink anything by neatly peppering every book’s metadata with safe little warning labels. No one will ever be struck dumb by an idea, then. No one will ever step outside their box, then. No one will ever take a fucking risk then.

What’s my point?

It smacks of, “Kill them, stifle them, make them behave.”

It reeks of, “Stick to romance, because the mainstream readership isn’t ready for two men in love.”

It heaves with, “Write what you’re fucking told and sit down and shut up. Behave yourself, writer.”

Well, I don’t fucking behave without a good goddamned reason. And if I have a story to tell, I’m going to tell it, without the warnings*, because if you’re not ready to face what’s in the pages of a book, which holds power but dude, you’re reading it on your couch, well.

You’re not ready to be moved by the words I’m risking sharing with you.

*I warn about the following things only: abuse themes, rape themes, sensitive mental illness topics such as PTSD. That’s it. If you expect more from me on that, I’m not the writer for you.

Calling All Readers

The push back begins today!

giveaway poster

We’ve gathered the biggest incentive we can, with 224 generous authors, bloggers, publishers, and allies offering incentives to entice you for two weeks, from April 18th to May 1st. All you have to do is click here and read, donate, and/or share across social media and leave us a comment to tell us how you’ve helped, and you’re entered to win.

But the real winners are the people helped by your generosity, the ones who need it most: LGBT homeless youth.

As an added bonus, I’ve written you a little story. But to read it, you have to click the link. What are you still doing here? Go! Donate! Win!

RainbowPizza2

Overwhelmed

The response to my call to action post for LGBT authors has been incredible, humbling, and overwhelming, to say the least. Kate and Meredith report feeling much the same astonishment from their posts on the fundraiser.

There are more than 200 very generous authors who’ve jumped in with both feet.

Due to the massive outpouring of support, we are at capacity and are moving the RSVP date for donors to today, April 9.

Authors, if you want to make a donation, this is your last chance. Please contact me at (ajrosefiction [at] gmail [dot] com), Kate Aaron (author [at] kateaaron [dot] com), or Meredith King (diversereader [at] yahoo [dot] com) by the end of the day to get involved.

Readers: get excited! We’ve got hundreds of authors, review blogs, and publishing houses all offering rewards to anyone prepared to donate a little bit of time or money to charity, so be sure to keep an eye on DiverseReader on the 18th April for your chance to take part.

Calling All LGBT Authors

You know what pisses me off?

People expecting me to tolerate them when they are intolerant of me. Being told that because I’m in a same-sex relationship, I’m somehow less than. That my voice matters less. That my choices hurt other people who literally have nothing to do with me, but their choice to minimize me is more important than my right to live in liberty and pursuing happiness.

I was born in the United States, land of the free. But I am not free.

I can’t go to every state in the country and have my soon-to-be marriage to a woman recognized. I can’t get a job anywhere in the country without checking first if I can be fired for being in love with my fiancée and willing to commit myself to her for the rest of my life.

And now, I can’t drive into the state of Indiana without fear that stopping for a bite to eat with my partner wouldn’t get me thrown out on my ass, legally. Well, until they put through an amendment saying it wasn’t okay to do so by business owners whose religious beliefs clash with my life.

In the wake of the passing of the Indiana Religious Freedom and Restoration Act, a fundraiser set up to support a family who own a pizza parlor and think it’s their “right” to refuse service to LGBT customers has raised almost $1 million.

Unfortunately, a pro-LGBT counter-fundraiser hasn’t got nearly the same traction. It’s one thing to tweet our outrage, or share a link on Facebook to an article. It’s another matter entirely to put our money where our mouths are. I think about whether or not I could walk into a business in Indiana (or any of the other 28 states considering such legislation without making LGBT people a protected class) and end up humiliated by being tossed out because I dared briefly hold Kate’s hand or otherwise make it obvious I’m in love with her.

Imagine that. Being told no, you’re not worthy of sitting at their tables, eating their food, no matter if you can pay for it, because the person sitting beside you is your partner and happens to have the same chromosomes as you. It would probably make a scene, right? It would definitely be enough to raise tempers. If my children were there, witnessing in action the active discrimination of their moms, my utter mortification would be complete.

What are we supposed to do, stay home? Not drive through this state and stop for a hotel room or gas? What if there’s a writer’s con there, a business reason for me to enter Indiana? It’s demoralizing, humiliating, and downright wrong that a country with religious freedom woven into the fabric of our constitution has places where they say it’s okay to use that religious freedom to beat a demographic of society down.

What does it say to our youth, who aren’t in their thirties and know how to stand up for themselves? It says sit down, shut up, and pretend to be our definition of acceptable or just go away.

THAT PISSES ME OFF.

So Kate Aaron, Meredith King, and I are gathering up as many authors as we can who write about love in whatever form it takes to take a stand as a collective community and try to counter the pizza place’s fundraiser. Together we can reach hundreds if not thousands of readers, and we’d like to offer them the chance to win an ebook if they donate $5 to a deserving LGBT charity or share charity links across their social networks.

We sent out a few very large PMs on Facebook to rally authors who want to shout love is love just as loudly as we are to our side in this. But one, those big PMs suck and to those who were cool about it anyway, thank you for being patient with us for the initial push on this. Two. We know we missed people, but we don’t want any author who is willing to join us in this effort to feel like they can’t. We want everybody who is able to hop on this wagon if you’re so inclined.

So what do you say? Can you spare a copy of an ebook (reader’s choice works best, but we know some authors have publisher restrictions) for a worthy winner as incentive for readers to donate? We need to hear back by Thursday, April 9th (to diversereader at yahoo dot com, author at kateaaron dot com, or ajrosefiction at gmail dot com), for a blog post going up on 18th April at http://diversereader.blogspot.com announcing the giveaway, the rules for readers, and the reason behind the fundraiser.

The day of the post, all we ask is that you share the post link on your various social media to alert your fans of the opportunity, and when the deadline for the giveaway passes, we’ll email you the name of your winner and their email so you can contact them about their prize. It’s easy, hosted in one place for readers to follow and enter, and will show that we mean business.

As of the writing of this blog post, we have 106 participating authors. ONE OH SIX. It seems like those we’ve been able to get in touch with are just as indignant as I am. Because we ARE ALL human beings, and no, I will not sit down, behave, and be someone else’s definition of acceptable when who I love hurts no one.

LGBT people aren’t going anywhere, and our allies have loud voices. Let’s use them.

*ETA, we’ve been contacted by some of the review site owners about adding in a gift card for the cost of a single book as incentive as well, and I’d like to say that’s awesome, if those sites are willing to do so. You’ll be emailed just as an author would to handle transfer of the prize to the winner, but we’d like to keep it to the cost of a book per gift card, so as to avoid a sort of lottery situation. Money for donations gets into potential legalities I’m not sure would help the cause. 

RainbowPizza2