Hey There. Come Here Often?

[pulling out the Dory voice] Well, hi!

It’s uh… been a bit of time since I’ve posted here so I thought I’d check in, crack open a drink, and have a conversation with you all.

The last few months have been extremely hard for me, I’ll be honest. Some stuff happened that redefined the way I look at people I know in a serious way. There were police investigations (closed now) and the fallout will continue for years to come, but the initial whirlwind of holy shit has subsided. I’m relieved and disappointed, angry and fearful, determined and protective. It’s an exhausting mix of emotions, to be honest. All I have to say is thank god for Kate. She has always been and always will be my rock in stormy times. Things are looking up, at least somewhat. I’m trying to be a positive, immovable wall of reliability for those who need me. It’s difficult, and in quiet, solitary moments, I break more often than I’d care to admit, but those moments are becoming less frequent at least. Maybe we’ll all be okay with time and perspective.

Then of course there’s the election of our new Dark Lord POTUS and the fallout from that, which will also have ramifications for years. I stand in shocked disbelief on a daily basis since Lord Cheeto took office. But I also see the protests, the activism, the phone calls to representatives, the sheer rising up of our nation to keep the new PEEOTUS from sinking us all, and it gives me hope. I cling to the hope sometimes, because it feel like the only thing I have, this tiny little lifesaver ring in the face of racism, sexism, cronyism, nepotism, and discrimination. And also batshit crazy. Because Bannon is fucking insane and he’s Wormtongue, whispering his evil into the King’s ear.

But! I don’t want to get into all that political shit in this post. This is more of a hey, what’s up? thing. I’ve been working as a virtual assistant the last couple months, too. The book sales are still decent, but they don’t stretch the way they used to, so I picked up some extra work to even out the valleys and make it easier to save during the peaks. This is also the reason Kate and I have started a Patreon, so we can worry less about scraping together money for bills by doing side jobs and devote that time to the actual writing. It’s been a bit stressful, if I’m honest, but hopefully in the next few months, we’ll have a little more breathing room. Honestly, the Patreon is a lot more fun than I anticipated. I have lots of ideas for it, just need the time to execute.

I’m 42,000 words into Restraint (PE 4) and I’m predicting it’ll be around 100,000 words. This one is not quite as dark as the first three (quite possibly another reaction to the last few months. The darker real life gets, the fluffier I write. Maybe. If I could ever be classified as “fluffy,” which I think is a stretch. More like Addams family dark rather than Ted Bundy dark.) I’ve been having fun with the research for Restraint though. It’s set in Seattle, which is a city that’s always fascinated me. In fact, Kate and I have tentative plans to move there for a couple years when the kids are in college, and before we go to England. Assuming the US still exists by then.

I’ve also got the second Long Fall of Night queued up and ready to begin as soon as Restraint is released. Honestly, I need to write it before what I’ve had plotted for 2 years now comes to pass and I get accused of taking advantage of sick and twisted times. It’ll be quite the roller coaster, for sure.

After that, I have a few ideas. There’s a possible Reaping Havoc 3, a PE spinoff with a character from Restraint (plus another spinoff from Consent with a couple of those characters), and then the beginning of a futuristic slave epic I’ve been kicking around for months now, tentatively called Genesis Rising. That one, I cannot wait to sink my teeth into, but the plot is slow in coming, and I’m taking my time with it so as not to force anything. It’ll be a flop if I don’t do it right. I’m also considering whether or not to make it a menage. I haven’t written a poly relationship in a long time, and never for more than a scene in a work I’ve published. I miss the dynamics of it, and I would love to explore all the facets of it again. It’s such a beautiful kind of love.

I’ve also been knitting and listening to audiobooks. I’ve got intentions of getting audio production going for my backlist in 2017, but that depends on a lot of factors, so I can’t make promises at this point. I wish I could, because I want to hear Gavin come to life in a bad way, but patience is the name of this game.

So, that’s what I’ve been up to lately. Trying to keep my head above water and hold on tight in these changing, somewhat troubled times. I’d love to report Casa Rose-Aaron smells of roses and freshly printed money and is filled with the sounds of books being written at a lightning pace, but the reality is much more mundane and less exciting.

I do want to know what you all have been up to, even if it’s not glamorous or exciting, or even if you think it sounds like complaints. You know what? We’re all in this together and can share strengths. So come sit by me. Tell me a little bit about your worlds and what you hope happens in the next few months. I’ve missed you guys.

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What’s Up?

So wow, the last month or so has been kind of nuts, hasn’t it? I don’t know about you, but busy doesn’t begin to describe it.

In the last several weeks, Kate moved to America to be with me, I finished a book, we got married, and I released the book. I won’t bore you with details about paperwork and editing and driver’s licenses and book covers and bank accounts and all that jazz, but let’s just say holy shit. There’s a lot going on up in here.

Reaping Havoc

Because of this, I’ve been hit and miss around social media, and while I’m trying, it’s not liable to get better for a little while. I’m in the midst of planning what to write next, and with the holidays coming up, I know we all get a little hectic.

But it’s the what’s up next bit I want to talk to you all about. Remember this post about what a dick my muse is? Well, it appears I’mma hafta cutabitch and take away his ecstasy, because he’s still not playing ball. He apparently luuuurves Nate and Mitch, because now, there’s a sequel to Reaping Havoc banging around in my head and oh my god I can hardly wait to start it!

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So here’s what’s up with The Long Fall of Night series.

I have every intention of finishing it, but because of the depths of detail required for the next installment, I cannot focus enough on it right now with everything else going on (more gov’t paperwork, traveling for the holidays, life/health insurance, car stuff, you name it we’re doing it) to do the book justice. I absolutely refuse to phone it in on any story I write just to keep to a schedule. That makes me miserable, makes the story suck, and readers can totally see it in the writing. I know there are those of you who are waiting for The Dark Before Dawn (LFoN 2), and it’s at the top of the pile. However, this may be one of those books (or series) I have to work on at the same time as working on something else, because it’s intense to write, intense to research, and it’s slow. I can’t do slow and still keep up with reader expectations.

So my intentions are these: I will continue with the Reaping Havoc world while the muse (that fucking dickhead) is moved by it, work on The Long Fall of Night series with slow and steady determination so as to get the next installment out sometime in 2016, and book 3 out the following year, all while keeping readers on the edge of your seats with new releases every three or so months. I have plans. There’s more Mitch and Nate, the Power Exchange spinoff, the rock star story, the co-written one with Kate (possibly, if her schedule meshes), a ménage, an assassin story, another paranormal world to build regarding ghosts that might fit into the Reaping Havoc world but it might not… Oh, the list goes on.

I promise you, my favorite ever readers, there will be no lack of new work coming from me. It’s just not in the order I planned. Viva la variété!

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.

When the Muse Does His Own Thing

My muse is kind of a bastard.

First, he (yes, he) gives me ideas that make my jaw drop, my eyes glaze over, and my heart trip hammer. But I’m driving. Or otherwise somewhere where I cannot write the idea down. Thankfully, I’ve circumvented this by having my phone on me at all times, so I can either dictate a note (driving) or tap out a quick text to myself while I’m waiting in line at the store.

Second, when I decide to sit down and write the story for which I got so excited, it’s not always the story the muse is up for exploring at the moment.
Muse: Oh! That character trait would work so much better on Donovan, your musician for that birthday fic you were writing Erin.
Me: But that was supposed to be for her only. Something special so she’d know how much I lurve her.
Muse: So? Ask her if you can turn it into a book, because damn!
Me to Erin: Hey, muse is being a dick again; can I turn your bday fic into a book? I’ll dedicate it to you because you’re so fawesome, but yeah, it kinda blew up and hey, here’s my visual inspiration. [throws her into Google Images to look up Sir-Blue-Eyes with the innocent face but oh my god, he’s beautiful with the not-so-innocent voice or body language]
Erin: Oh my word, he’s breathtaking. YES! MAKE ME A BOOK, WOMAN!
Muse: [smug grin]
Me: I knew you’d understand. [adds to the growing list of books to be written]

Third, publishing schedule? What publishing schedule?
Muse: Nah, I don’t feel like it today.
Me: Listen, asshole. I haven’t written in a month, since Long Fall of Night 1 came out, and I cannot afford to take these breaks. Do you want me to get stuck going back to Corporate America because you were coming down from ecstasy and now all your happy is gone? That’s really fucking selfish.
Muse: Are you threatening me? Because I can play much harder to get if you know what I mean.
Me: [narrows eyes] Oh really? Because I can think of a few things that make you pretty fucking unhappy, too, bitch. Like switching to something else. I bet I could write a knitting book. I wasn’t a half bad photographer, either.
Muse: You said the knitting was for family and for charity. And photography? What the fuck? You shoot three weddings and suddenly think you’re some big shot? You said other creative stuff would never come between us.
Me: What’s to come between? You’re on some kind getaway where all the other muses go to get high, fuck each other, and abandon your writers, so there’s practically a whole continent between us at the moment. If you’re gone, I have to do something. I’m not going to wait around for you to be ready for me. Two-way street, and you. are. failing.
Muse: Fine. But you’re not writing that. You’re writing this. [shoves new idea at me and makes the characters so loud, I have no choice but to comply]
Me: But! No! That’s not fair! I have readers, dude. They want the second LFoN book next! I can’t do a reaper story.
Muse: [grinning deviously] You wanted to write again, right? You can and you will.
Me: Fuck. [puts another tick in the Muse’s column]

Fourth, he knows I have exactly six hours before real life intrudes in which to get my daily quota (self-imposed) in. So he fiddle-farts around for four of those hours, and when I get exasperated and push in hour five for something productive despite his flighty attention span, he begrudges me a little bit of inspiration. In hour six, he opens the floodgates and oh my god this is so much fun, this is flowing, I’m in love with these characters and holy fucking hell they surprised me, and then I look at the clock, have about six ideas on where to go next, and see I have five goddamn minutes before I have to leave. So I scramble in those five minutes to write down the direction I want to go. Seriously, I have three notebooks on my desk at my fingertips, all with various stories, scene flashes, bits of character development, or plot points, plus four sticky note pads with the same, that I have grabbed in haste to keep from forgetting something. And when it’s time to use that inspiration, I can’t find it in the pile. Switching to a dry write board helped, but they’re full now, and because I have moved to story ideas at the muse’s whims, the notes on them are old. I can’t get rid of them because the second I do, that’s when the dick will want me to go back to it, and I don’t want to lose that work.

What’s the point of all of this? To let you, my dearest readers, know that The Dark Before Dawn is still at the top of the pile… just not the very top. Mitchell Seeker, reaper extraordinaire, is talking my ear off, and demanded to be written now, because he’s angsting about Nate, the ski instructor he’s trying so hard not to fall for. Nate has some interesting baggage of his own, and man, these two are fucking with my head. So!

I’m working. There will be a book out soon. It’s just not what I led you to think was coming next. The Dark Before Dawn is after that. And goddammit, if my muse doesn’t let that one just pour out of me when reaper stuff is complete, I will cutabitch. I’ll take away his ecstasy. That shit’s bad for you anyway.

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 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

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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Time to Fly

(If you were around on FB yesterday afternoon, this is old news, just saying up front.)

You never quite know when your life is about to change, do you? One minute, you’re thinking, “Ugh, it’s Wednesday, two and a half more days until the weekend,” and the next, you’re looking at the cliff you’re standing on. You’re left wondering if you jump, will you fly or splat?

It’s been my dream since I was a kid to write for a living. For the last, say, year or so, that dream has come closer to a plan, which was to get to a safe point where I could quit my day job (which I loathed to the eyerolling point of searing hatred with every breath I took inside that building’s walls). Safe meant having a good size cushion wherein I could relax for several months and write with little pressure, little distraction, and lots of time to prove myself, and I would make a solid living and be my own boss and huzzah, every other weekend, it would rain unicorns and pygmy goats. Re-reading that sentence, I’m seeing “safe” was sort of Norman Rockwellian. And dangerous every other weekend, what with creatures with pointy ends falling at terminal velocity.

We all know, life often doesn’t ask our permission before doing whatever it pleases anyway. Which is why at just before lunch time yesterday, I was sitting in HR listening to my boss shakily tell me he was laying me off (with sort of a gleam in his eye, because he disliked me almost as much as I disliked him, and man I wish I could have been the one to initiate the separation of our paths. I had some choice words). But the point isn’t that I no longer have to see that man, and if I do, I am justified in pretending I don’t recognize him. The point is my plan has to be strong enough on the legs I’ve already given it, because safe isn’t gonna happen. I don’t have the year of income saved up, nor am I much closer to being able to pay off the debt I wanted to. However, the terms of my being laid off allow me some freedom, and I have conservatively estimated that I have five to six months in which to make this writing gig pay enough to work for me.

So… this is me, inching closer to the cliff and praying my parachute opens so I can fly.

*jumps*