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 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

Reviews: a Minefield

Yesterday, when I was contacted by Dr. Charley Ferrer concerning the Golden Flogger nomination, I had a moment of squee, for a reason other than the honor of Consent being nominated. I totally fangirled. Because Dr. Ferrer is the woman who wrote one of the first non-fiction books I read about BDSM, called BDSM: The Naked Truth. She is the reason (among a couple others) why Ben and Gavin were born. So in my thanks for her emailing me about the nomination, I also thanked her for writing the book, that I found it incredibly useful and straightforward and it answered so many questions I had as well as sparking my imagination.

She responded with gratitude and said, “If it’s not too much trouble, would you care to write a review on Amazon for it?”

And I paused, like I always do when the question of me writing reviews comes up.

Because I don’t write reviews.

Why?

Because I’m an author.

I know there are those who have gone before me have been accused of many things with regard to writing reviews, including propping up their fellow friend authors, sabotaging others if they wrote something negative, or abusing their “power” because their word carries a different kind of weight than the average reader.

So instead, I’ve limited myself to the occasional book rec if I truly love the story.

But am I not a reader first? I fell in love with reading when I was four and crawled behind my dad’s recliner for some privacy, cracked a book, and went to town with it. My mother didn’t believe me when she found me and I answered her, “What are you doing?” question with a self-important, “Reading,” in a tone full of duh.

Look, I get the politics of it all. I understand a review I write can be mistaken for endorsement and not entirely genuine. But I’d like to think I could pen a review with enough reasons behind my rating to make anyone who stops to read it realize I was honest.

The truth is, I miss being able to debate books I did or didn’t like with people on social media. Yeah, I have a couple friends I trust where I can discuss things privately, but sometimes, if I love love love a book, I want to shout about it.

The last time I did that on my blog was back in 2012 after I read King Perry by Edmond Manning. I’d just published Power Exchange, and oh, my naïve heart was in love. Then I saw that this reviewing thing could lead to drama, and if anyone here has read even a tiny little bit of the archive of this blog (even this new one, with only 30 something posts as of now) you’ll know I am an anxiety sufferer, and drama is not something I seek out.

So I’ve stifled it. And even if it was a self-imposed clamping down of my opinion, I don’t want to stifle it anymore.

That’s not to say I’m going on a reviewing rampage, but if I’m moved to take the time and write a review, regardless of who wrote it, I will.

But to expand this a little bit, I’ve seen where others have cringed when an author gives a so-so opinion of another’s book. There are whispers, “They shouldn’t be saying that.” Depending on the loyalty of the second author’s fanbase, there could be retaliation. Bystanders whisper behind their hands, “That’s going to blow up in their face.”

Here’s my opinion on that: if an author thinks a book wasn’t up to snuff, and says so in a way that is constructively critical, does not say anything about the author as a person, and is not argumentative, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be able to without fear of a bunch of people raining vitriol on their heads.

I do not condone going after an author in any kind of personal way, whether they’re the reviewer or the reviewee.

Here are the things I consider an unreasonable review:

  • If you haven’t read, or attempted to read, the book, and give it either glowing or scathing ratings based off the opinion of something besides the book, i.e. the author, a friend’s opinion of the author, etc.
  • If a review contains spoilers and people who use reviews aren’t appropriately warned it does. GoodReads has a spoiler tag for a reason.
  • If the review contains anything about the author as a person. It is not okay to speculate on the author’s life based on the book they’ve written. Just keep it about the book and the book alone.

That’s it.

If you want to say you hate everything this author has ever written because it reads like it was penned by a kindergartner, go for it. If you want to say you’re the Annie Wilkes #1 fan of an author, do that, too. If you want to speculate about where a series might go (although that might be more fun in a discussion forum than on a plain ol’ review), please. If you have a reason for dissing a book’s every stinking page, do it.

Am I going to like it when someone says they hate something I’ve written and will never buy another book of mine again? No, that’ll kinda hurt. But I do not begrudge the reviewer their right to say so.

A few people have stated clearly they won’t read anything more I write after they read Consent. I’m sad to see them go, but I am never, ever going to say they don’t have the right to give that opinion. It’s not realistic to hope for 5 stars across the board. I want to make people feel with my books. Sad, disgusted, hopeful, tearful, awed, appalled, whatever the emotion. I like coaxing them all. If that means my books are not someone’s “comfort” read, then that’s entirely okay with me.

What else makes me sad is feeling like my opinion isn’t valid because of my vocation. Because I might taint something. Because my words are loaded.

Yeah, I know my words are loaded. But is that reason enough that I get no say at all? That’d be like me telling a reader they can’t give an opinion on a medical book if they’re a doctor. Or review a detective story because they’re a detective.

Or it’s like telling an author they can’t write about London if they’ve never been there. And I’m sure any number of you can see where this argument could lead, should I want to dredge up unnecessary drama. Nope. Not going there.

So the point of all this, regarding reviews, is, in my opinion, say what you think about the book. About the series. Please, if you feel strongly, speak.

But I have a voice, too. And I’m judicious enough to use it without abusing it.

So I wrote a review on BDSM: The Naked Truth. It’s nearly three-years overdue.

Winners! And a Moment

The Anatomy of PerceptionBecause of the fantastic response to my Reapings and Rewards Newsletter signups, I’ve decided to double the number of winners. Four people will receive an advanced copy of The Anatomy of Perception in mobi, epub, or pdf. It’s at the formatter’s right now, but when I get it back and check it, it’ll be in the hot little hands of these four people:

Valerie Hacking, Sadonna Swan, Lily Blunt, and Alice Viviano

Congrats to the winners! You’ve all been emailed.

Now, I’m going to take a moment here to be frank. I know this winter is getting to everyone, with the never ending snow, colder than average temperatures, ice in places that don’t usually see ice, or lack of snow in upper elevations that bode poorly for those who actually want the feet of accumulation being dumped on the Northeast right now. I know this is the likely reason for my own doldrums because despite accusations of being a vampire (for the hours I keep, and for blocking sunlight from my house with closed blinds for reasons), I too need spring to get here.

But the real truth of my restlessness lately is this: I’m scared, you guys. In the last few weeks, all my expected income from outside sources has landed and this is it. I’m truly on my own with the full-time writing. I’m playing the marketing strategies as best I can, and so far, it seems to be going as expected. I have a few new avenues of readership to pursue so I can hopefully expand my audience, and while all of this sounds very businessy, it’s extremely personal to me, as Meg Ryan said in You’ve Got Mail.

I have a lot riding on this new release.

Yeah, I will have a lot riding on every release afterward, too, because momentum matters, but this first one, well. This one sets the tone. It’s about new characters. It’s a book close to my heart, too. But more than anything, it’s a test of sorts for me. I hope I pass.

So while I’m trying to stave off the cray-cray, I have just one favor to ask. If you get the book, please consider writing a review of your opinion when you’re finished. Love or hate it, I learn from reviews. I can use positive ones to help sell the book, and negative ones to learn from my readership where I missed the mark. Constructive criticism helps me grow.

I don’t know if you remember, but several months ago, I asked you all what you do and don’t like about books that have non-linear storytelling, with past and present timelines interwoven. I listened to your reasons, which included each timeline having enough length to each section to really sink into, not starting at the end and then working through flashbacks the whole rest of the book, keeping both timelines equally compelling, and more. To those of you who answered, thank you for the feedback. I took what you said to heart and tried to shape the story in a way that would be compelling and avoid some of the peeves. Your candor helped me write a better story, and I know your candor in reviews would do the same.

So if you’re curious as to what story was pulling at me so hard I had to jump it ahead of everything, March 12th, it’ll be released and ready for consumption. Another book baby out in the world. I sincerely hope you enjoy it.

Crazy Busy Life and An Excerpt

This place got quiet. *blows dust off* I know, I know, but I’ll tell you why. I couldn’t talk about my plans over the holidays because one of them, the biggest one, was a secret.

See, Kate’s family wanted to surprise her for her 30th birthday. So they talked to me without Kate knowing, and behind the scenes, we arranged a trip for me to visit. So after I spent a week plus with my parents over Christmas and New Year’s, I came home for two days, did a flurry of errands, and jumped on another plane to the motherland.

About a day later, after long layovers, and time changes and such, I followed her sister into her house and gave her stunned face a kiss. Even two days later, she still looked at me and crowed, “You’re here!”

Her parents rented us a flat near one of her good friends, and we spent the week eating out, having wicked cool drinks, playing in London, going to the clubs of our people, starting new books, and making business deals.

Yeah, we never stop working, even when we’ve had a few drinks and the bouncer of a club starts talking to us about his true work, which lo and behold, I might have a very specific use for. When that’s a little more fleshed out, I’ll spill those beans.

In the meantime, yes, Kate and I started a book on which we’ve been plotting for a little over six months now, and let me tell you, the conversation about it had us both excited and possibly freaking out a cab driver.

As a reward for your patience, I give you a scene flash from my next release, hopefully out sometime in March, titled Anatomy of Perception. This is first person from the MC’s point of view, a scene flash when Dane sees Craig for the first time. Hope you like.

————

I didn’t stop to watch the hot street artist because I thought he would change my life. I was simply fascinated by his quick hands, his obvious skill, and the swell of his ass. He had a really nice one, in paint-splattered jeans that hugged him well, and a t-shirt with a pug on it. The fall air was warm enough to not need a jacket, and when I wasn’t staring at his delectable backside, I strangely found myself drawn to his forearms. They flexed with each fluid movement of his brush hand while he quickly painted a profile portrait of a woman who stood closer to him than the rest of the crowd. She watched him work, and every few seconds, exclaimed at how wonderful he was.

I agree, I thought, taking another long look at his ass, for once not caring who saw me looking. That was the beautiful thing about New York City: no one noticed me, so they didn’t have a reason to give a damn if I liked guys. I could easily hide in plain sight, checking guys out to my heart’s content—with some care. If the guy being checked out noticed and was a dick, I could get my ass kicked. But in the four years since leaving home, I’d perfected the discreet eye-fuck. Less risky that way.

I had to keep moving, though. I was going to be late for class. I’d worked way too hard to get where I was to chance being late, and failure was not an option. I couldn’t go back home. I wasn’t teacher material, and I didn’t bother to look into what else my biology degree might allow me to do. It was MD or nothing.

Apparently, my feet didn’t get the memo. I stood there as the artist finished, signing the painting with a flourish as a smattering of applause rippled through the crowd. The woman eagerly paid and took her portrait with her, staring at it as she walked and forcing other sidewalk patrons out of her path. A few bills landed in an open, battered portfolio case at the foot of the guy’s easel, and I found myself wishing I had even a dollar to spare. But I didn’t. I watched my pennies religiously. There was no way I’d let myself be too broke to pay my third of the rent.

The artist scanned the dispersing crowd for his next mark, and I quickly looked away when his eyes landed on me. I really had to go anyway. I moved, trying to escape.

“Hey, hold up.”

A hand on my elbow slowed me and I turned to face the warmest brown eyes I’d ever seen.

“Let me paint you.”

I shook my head. “I can’t. I have class and I’m already late.” At least it was true. Lack of money wasn’t my only excuse.

“If you’re already late, you should skip and let me paint you. I didn’t know eyes that color existed outside a computer. Are those contacts?”

I rolled the eyes in question, but something about his ease while talking to strangers kept me from walking off. I got compliments on my eyes all the time. They were such a light blue they were almost silver. Many a girl had used my eye color as a platform for flirting, not realizing I was and always would be immune to their feminine charms. But the guy before me, he was right up my alley. So, while I rolled my eyes at his obvious line, I also smiled regretfully.

“I’m sorry. I really can’t. Maybe I’ll see you around though.”

“Me or my ass?” he asked, dropping his volume and giving me a wink. So he’d seen me checking out the goods.

Heat surged into my cheeks, but instead of stammering and running away, I gave him a very obvious and thorough once-over.

“Both.” It was the best parting line I’d ever had, so I took advantage, chuckling as I walked away.

“Wait!” he called. “What’s your name? How do I find you again?”

I waved over my shoulder, mortification creeping in. Had I really flirted so openly with a guy I wasn’t positive was also gay? In public? Jesus. I had never done that before. I only ever involved with guys at gay clubs who wouldn’t be there for any other reason.

“Please?” he yelled after me. I ignored him as I descended into the bowels of the subway system. Nice ass or not, at that point, I hoped I’d never see him again. How could I have been so dumb?

Safely on the train speeding me the last several blocks to my class, I allowed myself a grin, which was swallowed by a grimace. Random art wasn’t the only thing I couldn’t afford. Calling attention to myself was another. Distractions could also cost me way more than money. I needed to keep my focus on my goal, not get sidetracked by tanned forearms and dimples beneath molten brown eyes. I tried to put him out of my head and think about the lymph system, recalling the salient points of my reading homework from the night before. I had thought that would be my one and only encounter with the hot, charming street artist.

I was wrong.

Busy Little Beaver

So there are a couple things in the works regarding the Power Exchange series. One, I’m not ready to talk about. The other thing is Consent is in the paperback review process. So if you’ve got the first two in hard copy, the third is on the way.

Also, I’d taken my titles down from All Romance eBooks a little bit ago due to some administrative publisher shuffling, but they are now available again. Except for The Yearning. That one I’ll have to get going again. It died with my previous laptop.

This is possibly my last post before the end of the year, so if I don’t see ya around before then, have a safe and peaceful holiday season and Happy New Year.

Quick Update and a Tease

The holidays are a busy time of the year for everyone, so this will be fast (I hope. I’m a wordy mothahfuckah). The voting has begun over on the M/M Romance Group Member’s Choice Awards on GoodReads. If you haven’t gotten a chance, here’s the linkFrom what I understand, you have to have been a member before November this year to be able to vote in the polls. Lots and lots of good authors and books in those lists. It’s very, very difficult to pick.

So, there’s some travel coming up for me, and I predict being pretty scarce (though I will try not to be). I’m working hard at the moment, though life seems to be getting me in the teeth lately. The paperwork to bring Kate to my side permanently hit a snafu (because people keep mistaking me for an adult, which duh, no) and I am seriously missing her, especially through the holidays. Forget the car trouble, the medical bills, the fucking up my back (again! JEEZ) and Amazon paying royalties late (first time in the three years I’ve been doing this, and their timing couldn’t have sucked more). That is just annoying. Her absence is what hurts late at night, when the house is dark, the glow of other people’s Christmas lights slat through the blinds in painfully cheerful blinking patterns, and the only heartbeat I hear is mine. If I’m cold, I have furbabies to snuggle with, but they have paws that have sharp things on the end. They’re not Kate’s soft embrace, or her warmth, and while I’m an open kind of girl, Kate doesn’t tend to lick me on the face. Furbabies aren’t the same.

I have also been diagnosed with severe sleep apnea, on top of the asthma, and wow, this year can go fuck itself gently with a chainsaw. I know a couple other people whose hands would fly into the air if I asked who else thinks 2014 can suck a live wire. So if you’re having a difficult time of things? You’re not alone. But hang in there. There is good out there. Like this:

I promised to donate a portion of sales of my last release, Consent, to Lost n Found Youth in Atlanta, GA, a shelter and homeless youth center for LGBT kids, and because of the generosity and awesomeness of my readers, we’re getting close to $1,500 on that check. I’m extending the period of sales for the donation tally until December 10th to coincide with a giveaway that will run beginning December 4th for a week. Keep an eye out for the link on Thursday.

To thank you all for your general awesomeness and to say happy holidays, I’m giving you an early Christmas gift, albeit a rough draft of one. Someone in Ben and Gavin’s world has been whispering in my ear, and while this is not another Power Exchange book, I’ve begun a story in which Ben and Gavin play a part, albeit a small one. You all remember McKnight, right? The pimp from Consent?

McKnight needed his own book.

Merry Christmas!

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