Beyond the ‘Zon

Hello! I’ve made a decision, and have it almost fully implemented: I’m going wide with all my titles. Yes, from here on out I am no longer in the KU (kindle Unlimited) program, which required Amazon exclusivity. Now my books are available at Barnes & Noble, kobo, All Romance, and other major retailers. (I’ve updated my “books” page with buy links)

I’m not sure if this is a good choice or a bad one, I guess we never know that about any decision until it is too late, right? I’m just hoping this isn’t a mistake. But I suppose, if it is, it can be reversed.

I’m kind of sorry to be out of KU, only because I loved the idea of an amazon subscription service. As a reader, I think that kind of thing is fantastic. But as a writer, having to be exclusive with one retailer is tough. It means if I don’t get enough “reads” on the subscription, the program is not really worthwhile. I wonder about non-exclusive sites like 24 symbols and  scribd (which I have a few books on!) and how long they will last. It seems most of the subscription sites have been short lived, especially the ones that paid authors well.

If you’re a reader, and you prefer a retailer other than Amazon, here are my pages on Barnes & NoblekoboAll Romance e-Books

If you are an author, what are your thoughts on KU now? Is it still working for you? Or are you out, as well?

#IDAHOT

May 17 is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, & Biphobia: A worldwide celebration of gender and sexual diversities (Also known as “IHAHOT”) Thank you for visiting my blog on this day! 🙂 This post is a contribution to the Hop For Visibility, Awareness, & Equality. Visit the hop’s main page and read the many great posts! Learn more about IDAHOT here.

UmbrellaNo Year

This year’s IDAHOT theme is “Mental Health and Well-Being.” Many studies have found a correlation between social stigma (or discrimination) and mental health problems. It seems like we’d hardly need a study to tell us that, though. If you feel your community is against you, it’s going to have an impact on your emotional well-being and self-image eventually. And if you live in a society where you are bombarded with the message that you are abnormal/wrong/other, you are likely to internalize that as well.

One of the reasons I enjoy writing what I do is I get to glorify and celebrate a more ideal reality: where families don’t kick their kids out for being gay, where LGBT people find love and acceptance, where there’s always a happy-ever-after. I know that not everyone lives in that kind of world, though. Although we have come a long way, there is still a lot of hate.

One thing this recent election and the hub-bub about the “bathroom bills” has done is revealed just how commonplace hate is. No matter who wins this election, the damage has been done. Hate speech is not only acceptable now, it’s televised. Racists and bigots have been validated and now feel free to speak their secret hate, to wear it on their sleeves, to even be proud of it.

When I drive around my town and I see the Trump signs in neighbors’ yards, the “make America great again” bumper stickers, I feel sick, and more than a little scared. I am a cis woman, married to a cis man. How must those signs feel to a trans person? Or a person in a same-gender marriage? How does that impact their mental health and well-being?

Recently a conservative “watchdog” took it upon herself to harass a 15 year old trans girl at my local high school, all in the name of “protecting” children. It was horrifying, but the end result was…kind of okay. The local newspaper ran a story about the issue, calling out the self-appointed watchdog on her bullying. Hundreds of people spoke up on behalf of the trans teen and a petition quickly formed to have the page removed. The local paper gave the teen her own article, to state her side of things. In it she spoke about all the support she’s received and said she feels safe at school, and always has.

Seems a happy ending. But I can’t stop thinking about it. Those names spewing hate on that Facebook page? Those are parents in my community. People whose kids will be going to school with my kids. People who might themselves be interacting with my kids, and the other children I know and love. The school in question? That’s the high school my kids will attend in only a few years. So while the end result was positive, and the principal, superintendent, mayor, and many, many residents all spoke up for tolerance and love, the whole incident was still unsettling. Mostly, it hurt to see familiar names, local people, speaking such hate.

I’m wondering how I deal with the aftermath of it all. How do I interact with these people, now that I know their bigoted views? How do I forget the ugly comments I saw? Should I even try to forgive and forget, or should I keep my kids away from these people? Or do I wait until I personally hear them say something, or until they do something to me or mine that warrants a reaction? I suppose in that case the question of whether or not we can coexist would be answered, because I’d speak up and there would likely be an argument, and we’d probably not interact ever again.

What about the LGBT kids in my community? How will this impact them? Will they believe their neighbors think they are gross or dangerous? Will they be afraid to come out? And what about the bigoted kids? Will they think it is okay to be assholes, now? That their hate is justified?

I used to think that changes were happening so fast! I was proud of my generation (gen X!!), and the open-mindedness I thought we possessed. I believed we were so much “better” than our parents, and I thought every generation would become less bigoted, less racist. Now, twenty years later, I know better. Changes are happening, and yes every generation grows more accepting… but it is a much, much slower process than I’d ever imagined. I think social media has helped, and so has television, by bringing things into the public spotlight, offering many different viewpoints, showing people how diverse humanity really is. But it’s still a slow change.

loretta_lynch_quote

As I write this the US Justice Department has just filed suit against North Carolina for their “bathroom bill,” the Obama administration has spoken out, and it seems this particular fight for trans rights will end on a positive note. Of course this makes me happy, though I don’t imagine the war is won by any means. I know there will be backlash, and I know the damage simmering hate can do when it goes unchecked and unnoticed. But for now, these issues that made me so uncomfortable about my kids’ future high school community seem to be resolved.

In some ways, this bathroom bill stuff is a good sign. It’s an acknowledgement of the existence of transgender people. It’s getting people talking, too, and showing support. It’s making people think about their prejudices. Change isn’t usually easy or painless: most positive change has been bought with blood, sweat, and tears. I think we all need to be as brave as possible, to speak up whenever we can against hate, and to keep an open mind.

I believe LGBT romantic fiction helps create positive change, too. Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Trans Romances help to “normalize” LGBT people, by offering a glimpse into how beautiful and loving an LGBT relationship can be to those who might not have any personal experience or real-life interaction with LGBT people. And for those who might be struggling, feeling alone or marginalized, representation that is positive, joyful, deep, and respectful is super important. I’d like to think the books in my genre have helped people with their mental health and well-being, if only in small ways.

You know what else is great for your mental health and well-being? Going to the beach. Seriously, studies have been done and I’m not going to argue with them! The beach is good for you. As an incentive for you to go to the beach (or the lake or the pool or just lay out a towel in the sun, play “ocean sounds” on your iPod, and pretend. I’m not judging) I will ship one lucky commenter (chosen at random) a sweet hand-made beach bag and two Amelia Bishop paperbacks to read on the beach! Continental US only, please, I’m poor. Winner will be drawn on May 25. Here are some pictures:

Yes, I made it, and yes, it’s HUGE. It holds a family’s worth of towels, or everything a solo-beach goer might need for a day in the sun. (Really. I tested it, as evidenced in the pics!) And all the sand will sift right out. I washed it and dried it in the sunshine, so it’s ready to go!

Comment below (your thoughts about IDAHOT or this post) for your chance to win 🙂

Visit the other hop participants, too: B. A. Brock  Jamie Fessenden  Rory Ni Coileain Erica Pike  Andrew Jericho  Tempeste O’Riley  The Macaronis  Elin Gregory  Alexa MIlne Nic Starr  Evelise Archer  Sue Brown  Elizabeth Varlet Raven J. Spencer Sharing Links and Wisdom  Lisa Horan  Archer Kay Leah  Alexis Duran  Jules Dixon  R.M. Olivia  Heloise West  Angel Martinez  Moonbeams over Atlanta – Eloreen Moon  Helena Stone  AM Leibowitz  L.D. Blakeley  Lila Leigh Hunter  Sharon Bidwell  Nicole Dennis  Lexi Ander  Barbara G.Tarn  Kaje Harper  JMS Books LLC   JM Snyder  Dean Pace-Frech  Kimber Vale  Jacintha Topaz  Prism Book Alliance®  Eva Lefoy   Lou Sylvre  Anne Barwell  Viki Lyn  Sean Michael  Remmy Duchene  Sharita Lira writing as BLMorticia  Barbara Winkes  Bronwyn Heeley  L. J. LaBarthe  VJ Summers  Nikka Michaels  Caraway Carter  L M Somerton  Taylor Law  Anastasia Vitsky  Draven St. James  A.V. Sanders  Lynley Wayne  DP Denman  M.A. Church  Andrew J. Peters  Dianne Hartsock  M. LeAnne Phoenix  Cherie Noel Chris McHart

Cover reveal!

Hi! I have a cover for my upcoming release More Than Love!!trustme_cover_v3

It’s a little different from my usual kissing/embracing covers. I hope it represents the story and draws people in, anyway. Here’s the blurb:

Dan watched the people in his life settle down, get married, and have kids, while he cycled through a seemingly endless string of break-ups and disappointing relationship fails. So when Ian, the college boyfriend Dan never quite forgot, comes back to town and wants to get together, Dan jumps at a second chance with the one who got away. And despite his track record he holds out hope that he and Ian might make it work this time.

While Ian is still just as sweet and sexy as he ever was back in college, he’s also harder, slicker, and more secretive than Dan remembers. As a cop, Dan’s suspicions are roused by Ian’s behavior. As a man, he wants nothing more than to ignore those worries and fall headfirst into their new relationship. If Ian is a criminal, turning him in will break Dan’s heart. But ignoring Ian’s crimes could ruin Dan’s career.

Sometimes, what destroys us are not the things we fear, but our fears themselves.

Release date: March 25!!

If you’re interested in winning a copy before you can buy one, enter my goodreads giveaway! If you win, you’ll get a spiffy paperback signed by me 🙂

m/m/f erotic-romance

I have a new release! Sort of. Today I published the three book “collection” of my Wynn’s Charm Shop series. So it isn’t a “new” new release, but it is a new title and it will save you some money over buying the books individually. (I’ve priced this at $3.99, it is a collection of three novellas and total length is about 150 pages)

This is m/m/f menage, with a lot of m/m as well. It’s an erotic urban fantasy, very light and fun and sexy. Good Halloween reading!

Follow Wynn the witch (and his boyfriend Acer, a wolf-pixie) as he deals with the otherworldly customers his charm shop attracts.

Book one: Rowena the vampire needs Wynn’s help to convince her boyfriend that a polyamorous relationship is the best kind of relationship for a vampire.
Book two: Sal the fire-fae seeks Wynn’s assistance in dissolving a contract he’s been tricked into by two romantically minded witches.
Book three: Wynn brews an anti-succubus potion for a customer, and the customer’s succubus girlfriend then comes after Wynn for revenge.

All books contain explicit scenes of all pairing types, and a smattering of very mild kink.

I don’t care who you really are

This isn’t a post about the women using male names thing. But it is somewhat related, I guess.

I keep seeing posts and status updates and comments that say “I don’t care who you really are” and I feel like I am the only person who is offended by that sentiment. I’m almost certain the people who say it are trying to be nice. They mean that they don’t judge their friends, that they accept everyone, regardless of color, gender, orientation, etc. I feel sure the intent behind the words is a positive, inclusive one. But personally, the phrase makes me cringe.

“I don’t care who you really are”

Really? You don’t care? To me it sounds like the old “I don’t see color” bullshit. A lot like it.

I always want to speak up, and sometimes I do, but it usually ends with me looking like the asshole in the situation and generally results in one less friend for me. So I’m going to try to spell out my objections here, in the hopes that a careful phrasing will work out better. And because I don’t think I have any friends left to lose, it doesn’t matter much if I fail. So here goes…

I DO care who you really are. And I kind of hope there might be someone out there who cares who I am.

If I say, “I’m a mother of two” and you answer “I don’t care! I don’t care who you really are!! 🙂 🙂 ” then honestly, you’re an asshole. I told you I was a mother because it is an important thing to me, it is a part of my identity at this point, and I was sharing that with you. That’s how people get to know each other, right? If someone tells you they are transitioning from male to female, and you say “I don’t care! I don’t care who you really are!! 🙂 🙂 ” then, again, you’re an asshole. That person told you something difficult and meaningful, they trusted you. Dismissing that is rude.

All of those details, those things we’re not supposed to care about – race, age, gender, sexuality – those things make up who we are. They are part of us. They are not irrelevant details. They constitute our life experiences, our identity.

Some people consider their gender to be a huge and inexorable part of their identity. Some others think of it as just another personal detail, like hair color or ethnicity. Same with sexuality. Some people really see themselves as “a bisexual person,” where their sexuality comes first as a modifier for their humanity. And other people think of it as just one of their personal quirks. Either way, if I am their friend, and they told me about this detail, exposed this part of themselves, I care about it. The same way I care about which of my friends is allergic to shellfish and which has a child with autism and which is a devout christian and which lost a parent to cancer: they are the details that make up that person’s self. More importantly: they are the details that person chose to share with me.

Saying “I don’t care who you really are” might be a good thing to say before making friends, if you really want to be clear that you’ll be friends with anyone no matter their personal details or history…. But are there really people out there who are NOT going to be friends with someone because of their race or gender or sexuality or age? I hope not, at least not in the m/m romance “community.”

But saying “I don’t care who you really are” after making friends with people is, I think, really mean. However, I’m starting to think I am the only person who feels this way. So far, it has been said in two of my critique groups, both of which are fairly small and (I thought) close-knit groups. I’ve also seen it on my facebook feed at least three times, and I’ve noticed it in comment threads a lot (I didn’t count but definitely saw more than a few instances of that exact phrase.) I’ve never seen anyone contradict the phrase or question it. Am I crazy? Oversensitive? Naive?

Most of the people who’ve used this phrase are writers, and I wonder if they would be so flippant with the details of their characters. LOL maybe next time someone says “My MC, Jacob, is a gay cis white man in his twenties–” I should cut in and say “Eh-eh-eh! I don’t CARE who he really is! I don’t care about any of that! I like him 🙂 🙂 🙂 ” and see how they react. Or the next time someone says “tell me about your characters,” I should answer “well…they’re human? what else do you need to know? does it really matter???” and see how that goes over.

For now, I’m going to chalk it up to me being stupid. And I’m going to use it as another reminder that I should be writing, and selling books, and not making “friends.” Probably it is good to remember that most of the people I interact with online don’t actually care about me, and that most of them lie about their personal details. I will try!

But I will probably fail.

If you post about your cat dying or your kid being sick or your car breaking down and I comment my sympathy or commiseration, I’ll do so because I actually give a shit. And while I will never ask for personal details, I will always honor and respect the details you do choose to share with me. Because, I do care who you really are. I can’t help it.

edit: I think I have figured out this thing. So what I think is that people MEAN to say: “I’ll like you no matter what.” (I think?) and that is a nice message, but the way they ARE saying it is: “I don’t care if you lie to me.” which is a much different thing to say and I think not a very friendship-inducing sentiment.

I’m not sure what to make of it all, except that I definitely lost the last shred of hope that I might ever find a group of writing-friends. I am solo! Probably for as long as I last in this genre.

Meet the characters from Uncharted Hearts: Jorge

Last but definitely not least on this character parade is Jorge. Far from being a “third wheel” he functions like the glue that holds this threesome together. Most of my beta readers named him as their favorite, which I do understand as he is the closest to a typical “alpha” male hero in this book.character flash jorgeJorge is the son of a slave, and was born on a ship. He was raised by pirates after his mother died, and spent his entire life on the sea. As a result of his upbringing among rough criminals, he learned to read a crowd very well, and is an excellent judge of character. The man who raised him also taught him many valuable skills, in the hopes that Jorge would be an asset to him and possibly an heir. So Jorge can read and write, and he can play the role of either a manservant or a free man with ease.

I envisioned him as rather large, and I think that especially for the time period a well-muscled man would be imposing and have a pretty dramatic effect on people. In my mind, I was picturing the soccer (sorry: “football”) player Heriter Lumumba.

(more pictures on my pinterest page!)jorge2 jorge1

Jorge’s role on the ship is essentially the order-keeper, the disciplinarian. But I also gave him a soft side and a heart of gold. He loves Clayton and Peter, and values them as family: the only real family he’s ever had. He will do almost anything to keep them.

Of all the MCs, Jorge has the least to lose. He is strong, capable, intelligent, and experienced. Despite the threat of enslavement, he has more options than many free men of the era. Yet he desires only a quiet, safe, home with Peter and Clayton. It’s a nice combination, and he was a great character to write. He is gentle without ever being weak, and he is tough without ever becoming a jerk.

I hope you like reading about Jorge in Uncharted Hearts as much as I enjoyed writing him! 🙂