Bullying

Welcome Scribblers, these last few days I’ve had a lot on my mind, which is why my post is late.  If you’ll allow me I wanted to get it all out here. A few weeks ago there was a big hubbub about a straight male actor playing an upcoming gay role. A few weeks before that there was concern over a straight woman playing a transgender role. I don’t want to underscore the importance of these issues to the people they affect nor do I want to offer my opinion on the subject because truthfully I believe we have more important issues to concern ourselves with. The issue I’m talking about is what I call out in the title; Bullying.

bully 1.jpg

Some of you who follow me on Twitter and on Facebook saw my post about Jamel Myles, he was a nine-year-old child who was bullied for four days at school about being gay (how he knew he was gay is unimportant) then killed himself. I need to say this again because it’s important that you hear it.  HE WAS NINE YEARS OLD!!!  

Here is the link if you want to read the story.

Over the past several days I’ve kept coming back to this event. It break my heart the more I think about it.  What is wrong with our society that this continues to happen? The saddest part this is that none of this is new. Bullying has been around forever.  I know this because Eric, my father, and I talked about several times over dinner.

What I found out is in school someone bullied all three of us. All for a different reason, which don’t matter now and I’m sure it was no were near as bad as what is happening today, but we all went through it.

I never thought my father who at one point was studying to join the FBI before life took him in a different direction would be a victim of bullying. But he was. We all were. Why?

Dammit Why? Why do we allow this to happen? Why do we let our children do this? Why do we do this? Why do we burry our heads in the sand and not do anything to fix this? What is wrong with us?  All of us. Is it because someone looks different? Because someone is poor? Because someone talks different? Because someone acts different? What the holy hell is wrong with us?

Yes, I’m including all of us… because you know what, when I was a kid, there was a little girl in my class who had cancer. We were in grade school and I wasn’t very nice to her. If I remember correctly, I made fun of her wig or something like that. One day the teacher pulled several of us aside and told us we needed to stop it and be nice to her because she was sick and that was why she wore the wig. I’m not sure my parents were ever told, but I remember that moment. It wasn’t a good feeling. Anyway, I talked to her and played with her when she was well enough to attend school.

At the start of the next school year, on the first day, we found out she had died because of complication from cancer. I remember her mother coming in to tell us. She cried and had to leave the classroom. It was awful. We were all upset. It still sticks with me to this day. I can see it all so vividly. How much worse would I have felt if I continued to tease her and heard this news? I think I would have been devastated because I caused her so much pain at the end of her life. That is a guilt I don’t think I would have wanted to carry.

My point. I was a bully, there was someone I was cruel to. Someone who didn’t deserve it. I picked on her because she differed from me and had to wear a wig.

We’re all bullies to someone. Maybe if someone around Jamel tried to do something, the school, the parents, classmates or someone, pulled these kids aside and told them to stop it Jamel wouldn’t have killed himself.

I want to know why we do this? Why we have to put other people down to feel better about ourselves. When will each of us stand up and say enough? This isn’t a new problem and I don’t think there are easy answers or solutions, but no child should every be bullied to the point where they take their own life. Ever. At times like this I often wonder if we are the monsters and everything around us are our victims. It seems like all we do is kill, destroy, or cause to be killed.

Again I ask, what is wrong with us?  Why are we so broken?

Honestly, Scribblers I don’t know if I’m making any sense here. I feel so broken since I read the news about Jamel. He’s not the first and I know he won’t be the last which makes it even more heartbreaking.

bullying 3.png

I want to ask something of everyone who reads this. First, I want you to think about who in your life you were the bully to, cause you were. There is someone.  Second, I want you all to take a minutes and just write a tweet, Facebook post or comment below and address bullying. Share your story about how you were bullied and how you bullied someone else. It’s important for us to not only admit we are the victim and also the perpetrator, maybe then we can affect some kind of change. Third, if you see someone being miss treated or being bullied please step in. Please stop it and say something. You know better. We all know better. Prove we are not the monsters under the bed or hiding in the darkness.

My New life Dealing with a Bathroom Remodel (The First Week)

Happy Wednesday Scribblers. Here we are again.  Another week into August (can you believe it’s almost September?).

This week I thought I would share with you my current journey of having my bathroom (and only shower) remodeled.  The process has only just begun (week one) and we’ve run into snags, cost overruns, and increased timeline.

Let me start at the beginning. Our house was built in 1938 and we moved in on September 2000. The first thing we did was turn our home, formerly the neighborhood crack-house, into something livable, which included a full bathroom remodel. We did a lot of the work ourselves (my father at the time was a general contractor) so we were confident in our skills and his ability. After a month of ongoing cleaning and household updates, we moved in. The bathroom was shiny, new, and we loved it (see the photos above. Nice. Right?).  That was eighteen years ago.

A few years back we noticed that not only was the bathroom getting a little dated, but some tile cracked and we were having issues with leaking (it happens).  We started planning for a bathroom remodel. Since we had done this before we knew what we were in for, and we also planned for what we knew would be water damage (broken tiles and water stains).  We created a budget and went to work trying to find a contactor (we couldn’t do the work ourselves and my father had retired).  After finding the top three Kitchen and Bathroom companies in our area (based on the BBB, Yelp, Angie’s List, etc.) we called them all in to view the space (which is only 8-feet by 7-feet) and give us an estimate. The process took about two weeks.

First lesson, the cost of the bathroom remodel would be $10k more than our budget (I wanted to throw up).

Second lesson, the timeline would be about two weeks longer then we planned for. (I didn’t throw up, but I came close).

See, when we had done the remodel ourselves it took a little over a week (and we weren’t living in the house). The cost, well we didn’t have to pay much labor because we did a big chunk of the work ourselves (except for the plumbing, which if we would have done we wouldn’t have had the leaking… ugh) so those costs were low. We didn’t go into this blind; we had done our research so we felt we had planned on a healthy budget (overly generous if you would have asked me when we started the process, did I mention the size of the bathroom 8-feet by 7-feet. It’s small).

Not happy with the budget news and the timeline we picked the contractor we felt would do the best job and seemed to get our style. They weren’t the most expensive, and they weren’t the cheapest. None of them were cheap… oh well I’ll get over it. I don’t want to sound ungrateful because I’m not. I understand how lucky we are to be in a position to fix all this. And I also realize that labor isn’t cheap and I believe people should be paid for their knowledge and their expertise… but does it have to be so much?  Ugh.

Documents signed, first and second design meeting finished. The big day arrived. Demo…

Oh, before I get ahead of myself, we decided to continue to live in our house. We managed to set up an outdoor shower (in the backyard). Stop laughing. We have it tented with sidewalls, a propane insta-hot water heater, rack for our soaps and shampoos, etc. So, it works.  It’s not ideal, but it works.

Okay, back to the Demo.  We left our bathroom in the morning and came home to what can only be described as the gateway to hell.  Dry rot on the exterior wall, decaying floor joists, 2x4’s that crumble in your hands, etc. You can see the damage in the photos.  Is it as bad as it could be? Probably not. Was it worse than any of us thought?  Yes. Yes, it was.

The Contractor and the Designer came to meet us, last Friday, to talk about what we needed to do. More demo was needed to tear out all the old rotted wood before they could repair it.  This would include knocking out the back exterior wall. As you can guess this changes the scope of work, adds more time to the timeline, and more dollars to our already inflated, ridiculous, outrageous, budget.  This has happened all within the first week of construction. Oh, joy. Oh, bliss. According to our Contractor we have about another four or five weeks to go.

Just shoot me now. I don’t think I’ll make it.

Now of the best part. A co-worked asked me, when I started talking about a bathroom remodel, what we were having done, what our budget was, and about contractors. He as looking at doing the same thing as us. Well, a few days ago we were talking, and he informed me that he was getting his bathroom done for $6k (new floors, new fixtures, new tile, new everything, and the guy was a licensed contractor) this time I really did almost throw up. I have no idea how either bathroom is going to turn out, but at this point I can’t help but feel like one of us is going to be getting screwed… and not in the good way.  Ugh.

Well Scribblers, I thought I would share this journey with you. Again, I don’t want to seem ungrateful or unappreciative because I’m not. For me it’s all about shock at this point. I know we are going to have an amazing bathroom when it’s all done. So, do you have construction nightmare stories?  Do you feel like venting about it?  Feel free in the comments below.  I would love to hear that I’m not the only one.  Until next week, I hope you have a great week. If you want to share this blog post with someone who is going through a remodel of their own, you can do so by clicking on the share button just below.

Interview with Fellow NineStar Author K.S. Trenten

This week I’m please to introduce you all to a fellow NineStar Author, K.S. Trenten.  K.S. has three short stories currently out and is a fellow San Joseian.  K.S. Thank you for joining me here today.

***

Hello! K.S. Trenten here, minion of mad felines, oh, yes, and I also write. :)  Free samples emerge from the Cauldrons on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday if you would like to see what my work is like…

What got you interested in writing? Why do you write in the genre you have chosen?

I love stories. Always have. The idea of being able to create stories thrilled me. Science fiction and fantasy appealed to me the most since they appeared to have the most potential, offering the opportunity to create entire worlds and different forms of magic. The genre doesn’t always apply to me, so I’ve been trying to promote a subgenre…ambient fantasy/science fiction. It’s more emotionally driven than action driven, using imagery that’s not always applied to the mainstream genre, appealing to fans of say, shoujo manga as well as fantasy. 

What is it you want people to get from your writing?

Inspired. Creativity. To feel like they’ve entered a magical world which filled them with wonder. I want to do to other readers what my favorite writers have done to me. 

What is the most challenging part of the writing process for you?

Description and action. I struggle with repetition and passive speech. Have for years. I’m getting better, but this shortcoming still looms its ungainly head in the middle of my drafts. 

When you’re not writing and reading what do you like to do? I know you take some amazing photos I’ve seen them online, is that something that you’ve thought about incorporating into your writing, maybe doing a photo type book?

Aww, thank you! Reading and writing are big parts of my life. Taking photos is something I started doing while traveling…I’ve been lucky enough to visit places I could never afford to go on my own, thanks to friends and family. I’ve come to realize I love beauty, locations both urban and natural which involve flowers, water, greenery, and striking architecture. I’ve been trying to take photographs to use in my blog and fiction posts when I don’t have any cover art to use for them. I’m hoping to get across something of what ambient fantasy is via my pictures. 

I’ve had the opportunity to meet you and your husband, who is an amazing guy by the way. So, tell me what does he think of your writing career, is he supportive?

Due to my, ah, immature reactions to his feedback on my writing, Don refuses to read anymore of it. (laughs) At the same time, he supports me in a very concrete, financial way in being the main breadwinner in our household, freeing up a lot of time for me to write. He also buys me a lot of the tools I use to write with. 

Writing isn’t easy and it’s even more challenging writing LGBTQIA+ books, what challenges have you found in the writing process?

Finding my own unique voice and the courage to express it in a world which tries to put writers and their works into boxes in order to market them. My published stories aren’t all that explicit, nor do they always feel comfortable labeled as specific things. I have a passion as a reader and a writer for what I call genre cocktails, stories which are a blend of things of different genres. I’m also trying to create a subgenre and find a voice for my stories. Due to being married to someone of the opposite gender, my right to write LGBTQIA+ books is often questioned. I myself question a lot of what’s taken for granted in heterosexual relationships, shuddering at a past of one gender dominating another in a way that’s scarred the world. By exploring alternatives to that, characters beyond gender and presumed gender roles, I’m hoping to heal some of those scars. Not to mention channel some of my anger and sorrow into art. 

I don’t often ask, but this question feels right today.  When you write do you plan things out (outline, draft, scenes, etc.) or do you wing it and see where the story takes you?

Something of both. I often write key scenes ahead of time, only to find myself putting the story together like a jiggsaw puzzle. At other times, I begin at the beginning, only to find it flowing toward the end in a direct progression of scenes. 

Lastly, what do you have upcoming? What can we look forward to seeing from you in the future?

I’m proud to say an extended version of A Symposium in Space has been accepted by NineStar Press. A release date has not been announced yet, but you’ll be seeing that in the future. I’m working on several projects, including two I’m struggling to finish by the end of this month. I offer free samples at here and here weekly, so feel free to stop by and have a look! 

K.S. Thank you so much for stopping by. This was a long overdue conversation.  I look forward to reading more of your works.

Well Scribblers, that all for this week.  I hope you enjoyed getting to know K.S. Trenten a bit more and you’ll check out her works.

About K.S. Trenten:

IMG_2232.jpeg

K.S. Trenten lives in the South Bay of California with her husband, two cats, and a host of characters whom live in her imagination, all shouting for attention at the same time. 

 

Find K.S. Trenten here:

Facebook here.
Twitter here.
Tumblr here.
Goodreads here.
Amazon Author Page here.
Nine Star Press Author Page here.

Blogs, Otherwise Known as the Cauldrons of Eternal Inspiration:

Wordpress here
Blogspot here.
Live Journal here.
Dreamwidth here.

OnceUponARainbowVolOne-f.jpeg
51MLjURrP5L.jpg
61I3JOketIL._UY250_.jpg

Here where to buy her works:

Nine Star Press here
Amazon here.
Barnes & Noble here.
Kobo here

Eating Food. Sexy?

Banana.jpg

Happy Wednesday Scribblers. I hope you’re all having a great week. Over the last few days some coworkers and I were talking about food and how some guys are uncomfortable eating things like; hotdogs, or corn dogs, or pickles, or bananas, or anything that has a phallic look to it.  We all had a good laugh about it, but then we talked about commercials, other ads, movies, and school.  It’s amazing when you ponder how sexual charged food and what we use it for can be.

Oh, as an aside, I’m not going to be talking about people who have a food fetish.  This is not the place for that conversation.

Back on point. Even though I think the idea of being worried about how you look while eating is silly and says more about a guy’s insecurity than anything.  Once I thought about it, I could see how given the right circumstances and in the right setting one could be teased about how they eat a corn dog or carrot.

Remember the Hannah Ferguson and Paris Hilton Carl’s Jr. commercial?  What about learning how to put a condom on in Sex Ed (banana or carrot anyone)? Then there are movies, the first one that comes to mind is Fast Times at Ridgemont High and the oral sex lesson (another carrot).  And these are just the first examples that popped into my mind.

Okay, so what do you guys think? Is it pretty much ridiculous, or do you worry about how you eat a corn dog in public?  As a buddy of mine says, “I just don’t care. I’m eating food, there ain’t nothing sexy about that.”

Have a great week gang.  Let me know what you think down in the comments. Remember if you know anyone who might enjoy my blog posts (even this one) or be interested in my novels share my link (also below) and my website.  And if you haven’t already done so, go ahead and sign up for my mailing list, so you are always in the know

The Myth of LGBTQIA+ Books

rainbow_books_460x470_by_Bigstock.jpg

Happy Wednesday Scribblers. Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about the myth of LGBTQIA+ books. You see gay themed books (that aren’t romance or erotica) are being lumped together in romance and erotica categories where they absolutely do not belong. This myth that all LGBTQIA+ books are romance is how we are all being judged, and it doesn’t work. As a buddy of mine mentioned, “wouldn’t it be nice to type into Google; Fantasy, Rogue, Gay Books and what comes up is a Fantasy story about a Rogue character who, oh by the way, is gay.” The book wouldn’t be a romance or erotica novel but an adventure book with a gay Rogue main character.  How amazing would that be?  Right now if you ran that search you'd find a lot of romance/erotica books with half naked (or completely naked) men (and some women) on the cover reflecting a romance and erotica feel.

This shouldn’t be the norm. Yet, sadly it is.

How do we break out of this paradigm? How do we destroy that myth? One way is how our books are categorized either on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, our Publishers, etc. We the authors need to insist that our stories are marketed as LGBTQIA > Fiction > Paranormal >Vampires or Gay & Lesbian > Fiction > Urban Fantasy or whatever works for our category.

Second, and this is a much harder step, we have to educate our readers and our reviewers. We need to stand up and stand out from romance and erotica. Make sure our potential readers and reviewers understand what we write isn’t fetishized gay romance. That yes our books may have elements of romance but our stories are not romance. Our works are Sci-Fi. They are Urban Fantasy. They are Paranormal Vampires. They are Drama.

If we, the authors, can do these two things, then we, the creators of these works can invoke the change in our genre and maybe get readers both gay and straight to see us.

A closing point I have for everyone to think about.

Let’s flip the script. What if all books where lumped together under the category of romance?  What if to find ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King you had to find it under that category “Best Straight Romance Vampire Books” would it have been as popular and successful as it has been? Same with any other books like the Red Mars Series by Kim Stanley Robinson. Or, The Color Purple by Alice Walker. Is it fair to these amazing authors or these incredible books? I don’t think so.

So, why do we have this ‘myth’ for LGBTQIA+ authors and their books?

download.jpg

Let’s lump Sci-Fi with Sci-Fi, Drama with Drama, Urban Fantasy with Urban Fantasy, and yes, Romance with Romance. Let’s break this myth of LGBTQIA+ books and show the reading world that all these books can stand together and be great. If you’re an author what do you think about this myth of LGBTQIA+ works?  If you’re a reader how would you think books should be categorized?  Tell me in the comments below. Until next week have an amazing week.

Edit:

The point I was trying to make with this Blog, is that with LGBTQIA+ books they all tend to be lumped under some form of romance and that is all you tend to find when you do a search for LGBTQIA+ books which makes it very challenging to market a non-romance book. There are hundreds if not thousands of LGBTQIA+ books that are in no way related to romance and should not be categorized in that manner. Not only can this mislead the reader who is looking for romance or erotica but it has and can sway reviewers who go into a book expecting romance or erotica and end up reading a story with no romance in it.

Murder, Romance, and Two Shootings by Todd Smith

Happy Wednesday Scribblers. This week I’m pleased to welcome Todd Smith, fellow NineStar Press Writer, and author of the recently released novel Murder, Romance, and Two Shootings.  The novel is not your typical story it’s a memoir, which I’ll let Todd talk more about.

Welcome Todd, I’m really fascinated by your story and your life. So, thank you for taking the time to join me here today.

It’s my pleasure.

To begin I spent some time reviewing your bio and your personal story. Oh my gosh I can’t imagine going through any of that. If you don’t mind can you tell us a little about yourself and tell us about your writing.

Sure thing.  You're in good company. People generally want to know more when they hear I survived a mass shooting, but then their jaws drop when they learn that was the second time I was shot.

Wait!  You were shot twice?  Two different times?

Yes. I was shot on two different occasions.

Dear God, let’s hold off on that for the moment. What about your writing?

As for my life as a writer, I have over 20 years of experience. I have worked professionally as a reporter and editor for both newspapers and websites. I have a Master’s in Journalism from the University of Kansas.

In Murder, Romance and Two Shootings, I share for the first time the complete story of being shot twice in two separate incidents and a death of close friend in a gay bashing.
 
I can’t imagine what that must have been like. I’m guessing you share all this in your new book Murder, Romance, and Two Shootings.

MurderRomanceORIG copy2 copy.jpg

Yes. The book is memoir. The first time I was shot was during a robbery attempt outside of Wilmington, DE. in the summer of 1997, just after I graduated college with a degree in journalism.
 
In 2008, I survived a mass shooting, when a disgruntled citizen in Kirkwood, MO, came into a city council meeting.  That night he killed six people, injuring me and the mayor who later died.  
 
Also, between these events, my best friend was murdered in Kansas City, MO, in a still unsolved gay bashing in 2001.

My book tells the personal account of these shootings, murders and my path to recovery.  It details these grisly events, the downward spiral that it caused in my life and finding true love. It is also an inspirational guide for those who have survived and triumphed. With gun violence now a major part of the national conversation, I provide my own viewpoint on how it has changed my life.

I’m sure you have opinions on the whole gun debate that I would love to ask you about if that is okay?  Or, is that something that is part of your novel?

The book tells my personal journey and doesn’t enter the gun control debate.  Having said that, I support commonsense gun control. Millions of guns are sold today “with no questions asked” transactions. Only 60 percent of all US gun sales are conducted with background checks. I would like to see expanded background checks and also think that there should be limitations on people being able to obtain high-firepower assault weapons like UZIs and AK-47s.

Considering all that you went through what was it like to write this novel?

I spent a lot of time remembering how I felt at each of the pivotal moments in my life. Even on a regular day I can feel an ache in my hand and leg where I was shot.  Writing just made it harder to ignore.  Plus, you can't write about the smell of your own blood, without recalling that scent.

No. I suppose you can’t.  What inspired you to write this story?

I wanted to share what happened to me, surviving two shootings was a lot, physically and mentally, especially the last one where I saw people killed. I found that writing helped me to understand what happened and how it has changed my life.

I’m still having a hard time wrapping my head around all this myself so I can only imagine how this helped your healing process. Considering the nature of your book now as an author is there a subject that you would never write about?

After writing this book, I don't think there is anything in my life I couldn't talk about.  As part of the romance in my book, I came "out" to my parents.  As you will read in the book, that was a difficult time with my parents.  And I will be honest, even surviving being shot twice; I was nervous to how my parents would respond.

Now that you’re out and have written Murder, Romance, and Two Shootings how do the people in your life support you in your writing? Or, do they?  Do they know you've written a story?

Actually, my friends and family have been very supportive and all know about the book. Many of them have bought the book to learn more about what happened to me.  I’ve talked about it, but not in the detail that the book provides. My best friend, who is the major character Kevin in the book, has helped market the book and talked about the book at his drag performances. In the book as well as in real life his drag name is Jade Sinclair.

That is awesome.  Some of the most wonderful people I know are drag performers. I hope he’s happy with his portrayal in the book.

Yes, he has plugged the book from stage and Jade came to my first book reading/signing.  One funny thing is at first he didn’t think his family would want copies and now I keep mailing them books.

I want to change things up here. Tell us, when you’re not writing what do you like to do?

On the average weekday, I love spending time with my three old son and my husband.  But whenever we can, my family loves to travel.

Where are some of your favorite places to go?

Prior to meeting my husband, I had been to the 48 states. Together we finished seeing the last two, Hawaii and Alaska, beautiful and amazing places. Our last true vacation was Italy where we strolled through Venice and then saw the David, but I think my David is cuter.  As I write this, we are heading off for a Mexican cruise and we will visit Tulum and Chichen-Itza which are both Mayan ruins that we have been wanting to visit.

When you’re not writing, traveling or spending time with the family what do you like to read?

I love reading travel books, comic books, sci-fi, fantasy, memoirs and newspapers. I have a wide variety of interests when it comes to reading.
 
Of all those what is your favorite genre? 

Memoirs along with travelogues.
 
Cool. What do you have in the works?  What's coming up next?  

I have two different projects.  The first involves a travelogue in Europe.  Next year I will be accompanying my husband on sabbatical in Munich and will use the experience and our adventures with our son as the basis.

I just have to say here.  Munich is an amazing city.  I hope you and your family have a great time there.  I had I blast when I was there.

Thanks. I think we will.

That is one project what is the other?

The other book I am planning on writing focuses on my friend and fabulous drag queen Jade Sinclair.

Excellent.  Drag performers are such an important aspect of our Rainbow Community and one I personally feel are severely under represented in LGBTQAI Literature.

Is there anything that we missed?  Is there anything else you'd like to share with folks about your novel?

All the important things that I write in the book happened.  I did change a few names, and unfortunately I couldn't write about everyone who played a role in my recovery and life.  Also, having a supportive family and network really made a difference in helping me finish this book.

Todd, Thank you for joining me here today and not only sharing the news about your new novel Murder, Romance, and Two Shootings but also sharing more about yourself.  I’m looking forward to reading the book and have it on my ‘To Be Read’ list.

Get your copy of Murder, Romance and Two Shootings here:

Buy it here at NineStar Press
Buy it here at Amazon
Buy it here at Barnes and Noble


About the Author:

TODD.jpg

My credentials include 20 years of experience as a writer. 
 
I have worked professionally as a reporter and editor for both newspapers and websites. I have a Master’s in Journalism from the University of Kansas.

I have shared my viewpoints of the Kirkwood Missouri City Council shooting with the New York Times, Newsweek, MSN and local media outlets in St. Louis. I am still sought out from national media for my viewpoints when it comes to mass shootings and violence (e.g., Ferguson).
 
In "Murder, Romance and Three Shootings," I share for the first time the complete story of my survival and recovery from the robbery attempt in which I was shot in the leg, the Kirkwood shooting and the gay bashing death of my close friend.

Where to find Todd Allen Smith:

Website click here
Facebook click here
Twitter click here
Tumblr click here
WordPress click here

Writing Update – June 2018

Happy Wednesday Scribblers.  I hope you are all having an amazing Summer. This week I thought I would provide my writing updates and share my cool media spotlights. Let’s jump in, shall we?

writing-update-image-1.jpg

I’m excited to share I’ve been moving forward with The Calling–Book Two. The outline is complete, and the writing has started.  I’m four chapters in and I’m digging how things are going. I don’t want to give anything away, but I will share this. Now that the threat from the witches has been neutralized in Book One (have you read The Calling-Book One? If not click here) we are left with magic seeping into our world. Which could lead to a big shift in our reality. Will we see more mystical beings?  And what was Chris’s vision?  Are we heading for a supernatural war?  You must wait to find out.

Do you have some amazing names floating around in your head? If you do, I need three background character names (two men and one woman) they are the new house staff on Juliet’s estate.  If you can think of some good names and want a chance to win a free eBook copy of either; A Dragon for Christmas or The Reunion, check out my Facebook Fan Page for more details (click here). The new characters will appear in The Calling-Book Two

Finally, I want to share my media spots for the last month. Yep, I’ve been making the rounds on both blogs and podcasts:

Frist, I was featured on Nicola Markus Edits; we talked about writing and the editing process.  It was fun and I hope folks take a minute to check it out (click here).

Second, How Author’s Work had me on their podcast. It was a great conversation. We chatted about writing, publishing, workflow secrets, tips and tricks, and we talked about my books.  Andrew and Paul were amazing hosts and I hope to join them again. To listen to the interview click here.

That is all for you this week. Short and sweet. Don’t forget sharing is caring. If you know anyone who loves paranormal and fantasy books share my books and my website with them. You can also share this Scribbles Page with friends by clicking the share button below. Until next week have a great week.

Bones and Bourbon by Dorian Graves a Review

Hello Scribblers, I hope you’re all having a great week. Today I’m thrilled to let you know I’ve finished reading Bones and Bourbon by Dorian Graves.  If you recall a few weeks ago I mentioned I had picked up the book. If you missed that set of scribbles (it was an update) check it out here .Okay, now we’re all caught up it’s time for my review.

It was good.  

There ya go.  Have a great week…

No…

Okay, I’m sure you want more than that.  As I mentioned this was a great book and a wonderful story. I wasn’t sure what to expect when read the story. Well, that’s not true, I had an idea from the blurb and from chatting with the author, but still I didn’t know what kind of writing or story telling I would get. I ended up pleased. The story focuses on the Gallows brothers (Retz and Jarrod) who have not seen each other for at least ten years. Their paths are different until one day their two very different circumstances force them together. All kinds of hell breaks loose from that point forward and we get to learn more about the brothers. Their lives. Their Families. And who or what is pulling the strings. It’s clever and a lot of fun to read.

Graves introduces characters that are fresh and new. Her take on familiar beasts is exciting and new. Unicorns will forever change after you read this story. Regarding her characters what I enjoyed about them were how well developed they were. Graves introduces a Trans character in the story and in the scope of the story it’s no big deal (which I love) this part of the character just is and no one seems to care, which is how it should be. Even the villains in, Bones and Bourbon, were more than mustache twirling generic archetypes (which you all know I love and adore), but for this story it was refreshing.

I would call this a dark fantasy, not horror, but there are some gruesome parts in the book. These scenes are nothing that will cause nightmares, but they offer enough to make you cringe. This is also a story that anyone (by anyone I mean tweens to sassy seniors) can read and enjoy. There is nothing in this story that will set off any reader or enjoyer of Dark Fantasy. 

There was one thing about the story I wish Graves had done a better job with. At one point, the characters are in San Francisco and given how colorful a city San Francisco is I would have liked more time spent on describing the city and showing that unique flare. Graves, and by extension the characters, refer to the Tenderloin and Golden Gate Park but otherwise this location could have been Seattle, Victoria, Vancouver, San Diego, or any other city on the waterfront. So that was a little disappointing especially with how grounded the rest of the story was, especially in the settings.

In all fairness, I wish I could give this story a 4.5 but I cannot. So, I’m going to round up and give it 5 stars. This this was a brilliant story by an amazing author.

You need to check out this book!


About the Book:

9781948608572_p0_v1_s550x406.jpg

Half-huldra Retz Gallows is having an awful day. First, he wakes up in the middle of driving to who-knows-where with an angry unicorn head in his passenger seat. This is almost normal, thanks to a lifetime of sharing a body with Nalem, a bone-controlling spirit with a penchant for wicked schemes and body-stealing joyrides. It's probably a bad idea to ask what else could go wrong.

Jarrod Gallows left home with plans to rescue his little brother from possession. Instead, he got saddled with a dead-end job as a paranormal investigator, a Faerie curse, and a daredevil boyfriend who might be from another world. At least he's got a new job--except why is his brother Retz here and why does this sudden reunion feel more like a bane than a blessing?

This day's going to get worse for the Gallows brothers before it gets better. To survive, they'll have to escape the forces controlling them, as well as the wrath of carnivorous unicorns, otherworldly realms, and even their own parents. Only time will tell if they'll make it out alive...or sober.

Buy the book here.


About the Author:

resized-author-pic-2017.jpg

Dorian is the author of the urban fantasy novel Bones and Bourbon, first book in the “Deadly Drinks” series. Are you looking for a novel with body-hopping necromancers, gay relationships and transgender protagonists, otherworldly realms, families of supernatural beings, and the occasional carnivorous unicorn? You’ve found the right book!

Dorian Graves has also written a number of short stories, including “A Taste of Empty” and “The Ragabash Foxtrot,” the two parts of Dorian’s senior thesis, which earned Dorian a BA in English (Creative Writing emphasis) from Mills College in 2014. When not writing and calculating the perfect humor/horror ration in any given story, Dorian can be found exploring the Pacific Northwest, devising increasingly ridiculous World of Darkness campaigns, and listening to more Blue Oyster Cult than is probably sane.

Find her here:
Click here for her website.
Click here for Twitter.
Click here for Facebook.
Click here for Goodreads.

Author Shout Outs

Happy Wednesday fellow Scribblers. This week I wanted to do some shout outs to follow Author:  J. Scott Coatsworth and J.P. Jackson, both books deal with magic in unique ways. 

J. Scott Coatsworth has just released of his new book The River City Chronicles.  There are three things that excite me about this new novel.  First, it has magic in it. Second, it takes place in Sacramento, CA, which is just two hours from where I live.  I’m very familiar with the area and I can’t wait to see how Scott weaves the story in and around our state capital. Third, it was the number one Gay Book for it's release week. You know it’s gonna be amazing and it should be a lot of fun to read.

I love Scott’s writing and I can’t wait to get my copy.

9781732307506_p0_v1_s550x406.jpg

Here is the blurb:

A group of strangers meets at Ragazzi, an Italian restaurant, for a cooking lesson that will change them all. They quickly become intertwined in each other's lives, and a bit of magic touches each of them.

Meet Dave, the consultant who lost his partner; Matteo and Diego, the couple who run the restaurant; recently-widowed Carmelina; Marcos, a web designer getting too old for hook-ups; Ben, a trans author writing the Great American Novel; teenager Marissa, kicked out for being bi; and Sam and Brad, a May-September couple who would never have gotten together without a little magic of their own.

Everyone in the River City has a secret, and sooner or later secrets always come out.

Buy it here.


Up next and because there is never too much good news to share. I have another shout out to mention.  Coming out on July 2, 2018 fellow NineStar Press Author J.P. Jackson will be releasing his new book Magic or Die.  I had the pleasure of reading several chapters of the story while J.P. was working on it and I can’t wait.  I know it’ll be amazing.  Just check out this great cover art:

MagicorDie-f500.jpg

Here is the blurb:

James Martin is a teacher, a powerful Psychic, and an alcoholic. He used to work for the Center for Magical Research and Development, a facility that houses people who can’t control their supernatural abilities, but left after one of his students was killed, turning to vodka to soothe his emotional pain. The problem is he still has one year left on his contract.

When James returns to the CMRD to fulfill the rest of his contract, he finds himself confronting the demons of his past and attempting to protect his new class from a possible death sentence, because if they don’t pass their final exams, they’ll be euthanized.

James also discovers that his class isn’t bringing in enough sponsors, the agencies and world governments who supply grants and ultimately purchase graduates of the CMRD, and that means no profit for the facility. James and his students face impossible odds—measure up to the facility’s unreachable standards or escape.

Pre-order it here

As always it’s easy to share the love with others who you think might enjoy these wonderful novels that deal with magic or just want something amazing to read.  Click the share button below.  Until next week, have a great week.

Discrimination and Hate

Happy Pride Month Scribblers.  This month I wanted to focus on all thing Pride, including the wonderful #PrideReads we have going on over at Twitter (you need to check it out, click here), but with the decision from the US Supreme Court I wanted to address discrimination and hate.  I want to talk about this because it’s ugly and not who we should be.  As I tried to have a level head about the ruling, I found I was getting increasingly angrier.  If you have no idea what I’m talking about click here this is disturbing because I like to believe we, as a people, we are better than this.  That somehow in my Pollyanna world, we don’t treat others this way. But we do! It’s disgusting! And I’m getting tired of it.

download.png

Before this ruling came down, I was talking to a Blogger whom I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know over these last few months.  She’s a wonderful person and I find that I respect her. I love seeing her notes and so forth pop up on my news feed.  Anyway, she mentioned that a few days ago she and her Relator were looking at a home when someone called the police on them.  The officer showed up and sat in the cop car until this Blogger and Relator left.

How many times have we heard stories about this happening?  Too many. It seems to be happening more.

Then we got this ruling from the US ‘Freaken’ Supreme Court that it’s okay for a Baker in Colorado to refuse a wedding cake to a gay couple.  Yes, I read the ruling. Yes, I understand all the circumstances. And yes, I understand that there are more cases in the pipeline and with luck the Supreme Court will fix this. Is that real issue?

The problem is you can’t legislate what’s in a person’s heart.  You can’t keep people from hating you.  It’s impossible. And that is at the bottom of all discrimination; hate.

Not surprised, well duh, I’m not saying anything that any rational person doesn’t already know.  But here’s the thing these people claim to be ‘rational’, ‘good Christians’, ‘good Muslims’ ‘good Jews’ ‘good Citizens’, ‘good People’, guess what? You’re not.  You’re a Hate Monger.  Plain and simple.

Typically, when I get home, Eric greats me with a kiss, or I stalk after him till I get a kiss. When the ruling came down I walked in and the first thing we said to each other was, “have you heard the news?”

Why is this important? Because, Eric, doesn’t pay attention to the news and rarely gets phased by it.  He’s my rock. I’m the one who gets a little dramatic about the news.  But not then because we were both shaken by what happen with the court ruling.

Not only did we talk about the ruling but we talked about discrimination. Seth MacFarlane summed it up when this hit the news. He said, “It’s a shorter walk than we think, particularly today, from ‘I won’t bake them a cake because they’re gay’ to ‘I won’t seat him here because he’s black.’…” for the whole article click here he got called out for his remarks but I think he responded perfectly. When asked if he would bake a cake for a Trump supporter. His response was, “yes, you bake a cake for one. You bake a cake for all.” How long until we see other minorities refused services?  I bet it will be sooner than you think. 

And that is part of my point. How we treat one person is how we should treat everyone. “Equal under the law.” But we’re not. Are we getting there? Slowly, but even than you can’t legislate the hate in someone’s heart. My Blogger friend had the police called on her because they are black, and Eric and I can’t buy a wedding cake because we’re gay. Like Mr. MacFarlane suggests where does it stop?

Another friend of mine, she is Jewish (possibly the most discriminated group in human history), she reminds people about the Holocaust.  It didn’t start with gas chambers. It started with small things and the inaction of people.  Are we heading that way again?  Are Eric and I going to be rounded up and taken away. Is my Blogger friend going to be pulled out of her home in the middle of the night never to be seen again? Is my Jewish friend going to one day vanish?

I hear you shaking your heads and rolling your eyes. “That could never happen, we’re in America.” Well…

What about all the undocumented Immigrants, they are already being rounded up? Children pulled from their parents. Families separated. That’s happening right now. (Okay, before you go off on a tangent, yes the argument can be made that they are breaking the law and are criminals, but to separate children from the parents um… no.  That is a little to Germany 1940 for me.) 

So, who’s next?

Am I sounding like a Paranoid Alarmist.  Perhaps. But, I don’t know?  What I want everyone to think about is how much farther is this discrimination going to go?  How much longer is all the hate in people’s heart going to last? When do we stop hating each other?

Oh, and just to be clear this isn’t a liberal vs. conservative thing, because I’ve seen hate from both groups that should make everyone ashamed.  I come from a family of conservatives and you will never know a nicer more giving tolerant group of people in your life, so don’t for a minute think I’m pitting one side against the other.  Because I’m not. Both Democrats and Republicans caused what we are seeing now. They feed off it, and hold on to power by putting us against one another. 

My point. Hate hides behind many faces: Religion, Nationalism, Conservatism, Liberalism, Racism, Sexism, and any other ‘ism’ you can come up with.

The worst thing, for me, is that I think hate is part of who we are. We’ll never be rid of it, which means we’ll always have discrimination which is heartbreaking.

All I can ask is for you to think about what I’m saying, even if you don’t agree. Also, when you’re out and about please be kind to one another. Please respect each other. Help each other. Be there for one another.  When you see hate, confront it.  Don’t stand for me.  Don’t let hate (in any form) win. We might not control what happens everywhere, but we can control what we say and do. Where we spend our money.  Don’t propagate hate by spending your money in places that discriminate. We can control how we treat each other. If we treat one person like second-class citizens then we’re all second-class citizens, because someone will find a way of discriminating against you. Trust me.  Hate will find a way.

What do you think?  Do you think I'm over reaching here?  Let me know in the comments below.

Don't forget it you know people who might be interested in this Blog post or any of my posts, books, or poetry, share this it in the link below.

Author Interview with CH Clepitt

A few months back I invited CH Clepitt to my Scribble page to share her Fantasy Bookshop with you (click here to see more about her Fantasy Bookshop).  Today, I’ve invited CH back for an interview to share more about her writing, her life and her new book Curtain Call.  Let’s get going shall we:

Welcome CH to my Scribble page. 

Hello, and thank you for having me.

Of course.  Before we get started congratulations on the new book.

Ah Thanks.

Now, if you don’t mind how about you refresh folks on who you are and your writing.

Well, I'm C H Clepitt and I write across multiple genres in a variety of story lengths.  I don't like labels, and therefore find it really hard to label my books!  I will say that if you like one of my books, you will likely enjoy the rest.  The thing they have in common is realistic characters that you can relate to, humor and a serious message.  I also write a mean action scene, even if I do say so myself!

Does this mean you enjoy writing action scenes?  Personally, I find them really difficult to write.

I love writing action scenes. I used to do Judo (before I became old and broken) and I played a lot of sports, so I have a good understanding of movement and meles, and can write a pretty good action scene.  I know what works and what doesn’t, although most of my characters are fitter and more bendy than I ever was!

(Laughs) I can relate. My 'bendy' days are far behind me too. You mentioned that you don’t like labels but we all have genres we fall into so how and why did you chose your genre?

I don't really have a genre.  I write what I like, and label it because I have to!! I have written SciFi, Fantasy, Comedy and everything in between!  My stories tend to genre hop, though, so don't get too comfortable, or bogged down in the label, just appreciate them for what they are.  I write the kind of stories and characters that I would want to read, and hopefully, other people will want to read them too!

Considering how talented you are I'm sure finding readers isn't too hard. Like you, I cross genres’, so getting pigeonholed into one genre can be tough. So, let’s keep them guessing.

If people spent less time worrying about the labels and just looked for things they might enjoy, everything would be much easier! Ah well, we don’t rule the world, do we?!

Covers (2) (1).jpg

Sadly we don't. Now, let’s talk about Curtain Call its your latest book, tell us about it.  Where did you get the idea for the book?  What excited you about this story?

Curtain Call is interesting.  It's not at all the usual sort of story I would write.  There isn't a single vampire or monster in it!  A friend and colleague, A. M. Leibowitz was doing an anthology call.  The brief was "women who love women within the theatre".  I know, pretty specific, right?  Anyway, I wanted to support their project, so I set about writing a short story.  It turned out my short story was four times longer than all the other short stories... yeah... awkward... and I still felt it had more to say, so I withdrew it from the anthology selection process and turned it into a novella.  All in all the process took me about three months.

Wow! Three months?

I know, it is the quickest I have ever written a book!  Once I started writing it, the characters completely took over, and I couldn't stop writing.  I really enjoyed rereading, editing and improving it, too.  That was exciting. 

That is so cool.  I love when the words and the characters jive.  It makes for a great story and a fun writing experience.

This was almost like an addiction. I had to spend every spare minute on it until it was done.

Considering how easy Curtain Call was to write. I’m not even going to ask what was the hardest part. However, for you, what is the hardest part about writing in general?

The hardest part is finding a concept I like.  I'll sit and stew on it for a while before I come up with the right idea.  Then I need to come up with a title.  I can't start writing without a title, and this rarely changes.  I don't know if anyone else comes up with the title first... 

Really, you come up with the title first.

I didn’t with my first book, A Reason to Stay. I wrote that the traditional way, plotted it, edited it, redrafted it and agonised over the title. Ever since that I have come up with the title first, and I find it much easier.

Wow.  I don’t think I ever know what the title of my book is going to be until after I write the thing and even then I’m never totally sure.

I think that’s because titles are tough.  Like blurbs. Selling your own stuff is hard.

Boy tell me about it, but that is a topic for a different day. Okay, moving on. Including Curtain Call how many novels/books/short stories do you have out there?

Er... good question... *counts on fingers*... 15... yeah, that's more than I have fingers... is that a lot?

Fifteen. That’s great.  I think it’s a lot, but I only have three out there so far.  So, compared to me that is a lot.  How long have you been writing?  When were you first published?

I think I’ve always been writing. I published A Reason to Stay in 2011, though.  Before that I’d written articles, done some community and music journalism.

Community and Music Journalism that pretty cool. Okay, I’ve got to ask which author(s) have inspired your writing? In what ways?

I think everyone you read inspires you in some ways.  I read a lot of fantasy, because I like the escapism.  I love Phillip Pullman, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.  I really like the classics, Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell, The Bronte Sisters. I think everyone who wants to be a writer should get a good grounding in the classics.  Also, modern classics like Virginia Woolf and Silvia Townsend Warner.  I like to read a voice I can relate to.   I also love Sarah Waters writing, she makes me want to be a better writer, although I've had to stop reading The Little Stranger because I have a horrible feeling that the dog dies.  Who does that? A dog will never die in any of my books.  People, sure, but never a dog...

Yep, I agree.  I don’t think I could ever kill off a dog, or any pets.  That’s just mean.

Yes, yes it is.  And unnecessary!

Well on that happy thought tell us what do you have in the works?  What's new?  What's exciting? What are you currently reading? 

In the works?  Well, I'm working on a new story.  It's Urban Fantasy and it's called My Dream Woman. I'm quite excited by it because it's completely different from most everything else I've written.  It's first person present tense.  I usually hate present tense, but it just seems to fit the style somehow. I am also in the process of turning all my books into audio.  If you visit Amazon you will see a few of them are already there.  I have a great team of narrators, some of whom are working on series with me, so we are getting the audio done almost as soon as the book is released.

I would love to get my books turned into an audio book.  I think that would be amazing.  I’m going to have to work with my publisher on that. Anything else?

I have an enormous to be read pile. I will choose a new book this weekend... eeek, decisions!  You can follow the reviews section on Newsnibbles (click here) if you want to see my most recent reads and what I've made of them.

Well, that was my last question.

Whew! We made it! Thanks!

Yep, that’s it. Not too bad I hope?

No, this was fun. Thanks for having me!

Of course.  Well Scribblers, I hope you got to learn a little more about the amazing CH Clepitt, the Grumpy Badger herself, and her new book Curtain Call.  You can find it here.

cape promo (1).jpg

Bio:

C H Clepitt has a Master’s Degree in English Literature from the University of the West of England. As her Bachelor’s Degree was in Drama, and her Master’s Dissertation focused on little known 18th Century playwright Susannah Centlivre, Clepitt’s novels are extremely dialogue driven, and it has often been observed that they would translate well to the screen.

Since graduating in 2007, she gained experience in community and music journalism, before establishing satirical news website, Newsnibbles in 2010 (click here). In 2011 she published her book, A Reason to Stay, which follows the adventures of disillusioned retail manager, Stephen, as he is thrust into village life and the world of AmDram. Clepitt’s feminist fantasy, The Book of Abisan not only crosses worlds, but confuses genres, and has been described as a crime drama with magic. She has often said that she doesn’t like the way that choosing a genre forces you to put your book into a specific little box, and instead she prefers to distort the readers’ expectations and keep them guessing. Her 2016 work, I Wore Heels to the Apocalypse does just that, as just like the characters, the readers won’t know what’s going on in this laugh out loud satirical scifi.


Social Media Links:

For Kindle click here.
For Lulu click here.
Find her at Twitter here.
Find her on Facebook here.

Click here for her website and learn about all her amazing works and everything else she is up to.

Random Wednesday (Continuation)

Back in May, I tried something a little different on my Scribble Page.  I shared five random facts about myself (here is the link if you missed it). All you Scribblers seemed to enjoy it.  Today, I thought I would share five more personal facts. Things you may, or may not know.

non-profit.jpg

Fact Number One:
As some of you may have figured out, or guessed, or even know, when I’m not writing I work for a non-profit here in San Jose.  The non-profit is one of the largest multi-service agencies in the county and we serve upwards of 40,000 clients a year.  The work our agency does is life changing for many people and I enjoy my ‘day job’ even though it can be difficult.

Even though my passion is writing. Working for this organization is an amazing experience and has allowed me to meet some compassionate people.

The best part about my job is that even with as challenging as it is (and trust me it can be challenging) when I leave for the day, I’m done.  Which allows me to focus on my writing in the evenings and on the weekends when me and my hubby aren’t busy.  
 
Fact Number Two:
Continuing with the ‘work’ theme.  In the late 90s and the early 2000s, I worked in International Marketing for two different start-ups (not at the same time).  It was an amazing time, however, 75% of my time was travel and there were months were I wasn’t home for weeks.  This got exhausting over the years. However, the experience was priceless and if you haven’t guessed most, if not all, of the locations in my books are places I have been.

chips-packet-hi.png

During this time I traveled to Asia and Europe, all over the US, and parts of Canada. I wouldn’t trade this time for anything, but I’m glad it’s behind me.  If I had continued that path, I would not have had time to write and bring the stories in my head to life.

Fact Number Three:
Something I’m not proud of is I have a rather large addiction to potato chips.  I love them.  The salty and the crunch. Yum.  An open bag, around me, is an empty bag.  I try not to keep them in the house, but that doesn’t always happen. Eric, calls me I’m a chipaholic.  I have to agree. I suppose it’s better than smoking or alcohol.

292aa26a91755616ee96b49aefe84a6f.jpg

Fact Number Four:
Back in the day, some friends and I used to play AD&D.  I loved it.  We had so much fun.  Yes, that makes me a nerd, but I don’t care.  We had the best time. We played well into our early twenties.

My character was an Elf. He was a mage/assassin and could kick some serious butt when he needed to. I got lucky. He never died, which says more about our Dungeon Master than my playing skills.

Along with AD&D, we played a Star Trek RPG and Masquerade the Gathering. Like I said we had a blast and I miss it.  However, I still play card and dice games with family and friends. It’s not the same thing, but we still have a good time.  

Fact Number Five:
Last, for this week.  I mentioned last time my love of Disney. Well, not only do I love all things Disney but also I love Halloween.  It’s the most amazing time of year.  I have a huge Halloween Village I put up for the season and for Halloween we decorate the entire front of the house as a graveyard. We don’t go as crazy as some people, but we do our house proud.  Typically, I will get dressed up and sit on the front porch and pass out candy.  It’s a blast.

Scary-Happy-Halloween-4K-Wallpaper.jpg

Also, during the Halloween season we’ll host a Halloween Party or a Masquerade Ball. It doesn’t happen every year, but we try to have one when we can.  They are a ton or fun and everyone seems to get into the spirit.

Well, there you go. Five more facts about what makes me tick.  I hope you enjoyed.  As a reminder if you know anyone who you think might enjoy my writing send them the links to my books (click here)?  Let me know what questions you may have in the comments below.  Until next week have an amazing week.

Author Takeover Provided by Gillian St. Kevern

Happy Wednesday Scribblers.  As promised, this week I step aside and allow fellow author Gillian St. Kevern to take over my Scribble Page and talk about her new novel Morgen Prince and share a little about her gender and sexually ambivalent character Duhywynt.

Without further ado, take it away Gillian.


Thank you, M.D. Neu, for hosting me on your blog! I’m especially glad you invited me to talk about my experiences writing about a character who is ambivalent toward his gender. As you’ll find out, writing Morgen Prince was something of a personal milestone for me. Being able to share that means a lot. 

A little background: Morgen Prince is the fourth book in my Deep Magic series, an urban fantasy set in North Wales and blending the magic of story telling with the world of morgen, Welsh sirens. While the first and third books focus on the relationship between a human witch and a morgen prince, this is the first book narrated by Duhywynt (commonly known as Dewey), the aforementioned prince’s younger brother. 

Dewey prefers hanging out with seals to interacting with people, finds dresses more comfortable to swim in than jeans, has a complicated friendship with Myfanwy, the newest witch on the cliffs and the only human he finds tolerable, and has a deep distrust of romantic relationships due to being starved of affection by his cruel grandfather, an evil King. In the five years since Deep Magic, Duhywynt’s been forced to attend school and received a crash course in human customs and societal expectations--and frankly, he’s having none of it. He would still prefer to be living in the ocean, hanging out with seals. 

I expected writing Morgen Prince to be a lot harder than it was. This story has been coming ever since Duhywynt splashed his way onto the pages of Deep Magic. He is blunt to the point of rudeness, easily outraged, suspicious and dismissive of anything he doesn’t immediately understand, and clings to his erroneous assumptions, but underneath his hard exterior, he retains this wonderful kindness and innocence, and is fiercely protective of his animal friends.

Deep Magic was published in 2015. Morgen Prince written late 2017, and I’m only publishing it now, after a long period of dithering. Why did it take so long? Well, I got a bit hung up on the fact that Duhywynt is ambivalent about his gender and sexuality, and I wasn’t sure where exactly he fit on the spectrum. I wanted to get the experience right so much that fear of messing it up made me procrastinate on the story. When I finally decided I had to write what was right for Duhywynt, everything came together really quickly. There were a few sticking points, a few dead ends, but they had more to do with Duhywynt’s emotional development arc, than his identity. Actually, Duhywynt was incredibly easy to write.

As it turned out, that should have been my first clue. After I tidied up the first draft of Morgen Curse and sent it to an editor, I got caught up in the usual end of year nonsense complicated by a birthday, a lot of dog-sitting, and a chance encounter with a critique group. The woman leading it looked at me, looked at the other person present and said, ‘wow, we’ve inadvertently formed an all-queer critique group.’ The immediate feeling of relief was overwhelming--and really unexpected. I identify as bisexual and asexual, but neither label really feels like it fits me. As I never expected to act on either one, I didn’t feel like I was queer enough to be allowed to call myself queer. Although I’d never shared my sexuality with her, this woman’s comment freed me, unlocking something for me, and set me off on a journey, questioning how well I knew myself. 

The edits on Morgen Prince came back during this period, and I was astonished by how much of my own gender ambivalence and ambiguity about my sexuality was present in the story. In writing Duhywynt’s struggles, I’d been grappling with my own truths. It’s always a little scary when you realize how much of you is in your writing, but I think it’s important to be able to put yourself out there at times. 

It’s also incredibly important that we tell stories and share experiences from all over the LGBTQ spectrum. I didn’t see any experiences like mine in the media, fiction or even social media I consumed, and so I came to the conclusion that my experiences were less valid than other peoples or so not representative of being queer that I wasn’t helping anyone by sharing them. I now hope Morgen Prince will empower and encourage people still exploring their identity.  


Author Bio: 

rsz_img_7762.jpg

Gillian St. Kevern is the author of the Deep Magic series, the Thorns and Fangs series, the For the Love of Christmas series, and standalone novels, The Biggest Scoop and The Wing Commander's Curse. Gillian currently lives in her native New Zealand, but spent eleven years in Japan and has visited over twenty different countries.
 
As a chronic traveller, Gillian is more interested in journeys than endings, with characters that grow and change to achieve their happy ending. She's not afraid to let her characters make mistakes or take the story in an unexpected direction. Her stories cross genres, time-periods and continents, taking readers along for an unforgettable ride. Both Deep Magic and The Biggest Scoop were nominated for Best LOR story in the 2015 M/M Romance Groups Member's Choice awards. Deep Magic also received nominations in Best Cover, Best Main Character and Best Paranormal, while The Biggest Scoop was nominated for Best Coming of Age. 


Morgen Prince Blurb: 

Morgen-Prince-Generic.jpg

Duhywynt’s only weapon against the world will cost him everyone he cares about.
 
Duhywynt plans to spend his summer catching the legendary Ceffyl Dŵr and swapping make-up tips with his best friend, Myfanwy—until he discovers his older brother has traded his morgenau heritage for mortality. Worse, Myrhydion is far more concerned with Duhywynt’s lack of social life than his own untimely demise.Duhywynt will do anything to avoid losing him for ever, even if that means faking a friendship with Drew, a tourist.

As Drew’s fascination with Duhywynt grows, the prince discovers the deadly legacy of his morgenau heritage, emperilling his relationship with Myfanwy—a relationship with depths he is just beginning to understand. Can he overcome centuries of pain and embrace the unknown, or will his morgenau heritage claim another victim?

Get your copy by clicking here.


Social Media Links:

website click here.
Blog click here.
Facebook click here.
Twitter click here.

What is the Hardest part about Writing a Book – The Marketing

BookMarketing.jpg

Recently I was asked; What is the hardest part about writing a book? Without hesitation, my answer was marketing. This is something I’ve been thinking a lot about. I’m not the only one either. Most authors consider marketing in one form or another. Especially after your book has been out for a while. Sales start to drop off and all the excitement of the launch has worn away. So now what?  How do you continue to get your book noticed?

There is no one answer and things can be even more challenging for non-romance gay books.

Here’s the thing. How do you market a non-romance gay book? Gay Romance is a huge market and everything gay seems to be lumped under that umbrella. Last week I found out that my book The Calling is 96th on the Best Gay Vampire Book list (click here), which is part of Best M/M romance featuring gay vampires… um what? I thought my book was a vampire book, not an M/M romance.

Don’t get me wrong, this is exciting and I’m so thankful and grateful especially since I’m a new author with only a few works published. You can find them all here. This free publicity is amazing and I’m hopeful it will be helpful as well, especially with marketing.

However, anyone who has read my book knows it isn’t a gay romance. That’s not what I wrote, yet that is how it is classified. This is a bit of an issue because there is this thing called false advertising and I never want to be criticized for that.

How do I market a non-romance gay book?

I did a Google search asking that question. All that comes up is how to market a gay romance and if straight authors should write gay romance. It definitely defeated the purpose of the question.

So, I went back to the Vampire lists, and I found other lists. Such as Best Vampire Books from “New” Authors, (click here). The Calling is 482nd. Go me! One of the other lists that made me chuckle is Great Vampire Books that Aren’t Twilight (click here). The Calling is 382nd. Also, The Calling is 23rd on the January 2018 MM Releases list (click here).  So, I’m using this news to create a bit of a buzz about my book. I’ve sent out a Facebook post to see if I can get more people to vote for The Calling on those lists. On May 1st I sent out an email blast to my subscribers to see if they would vote for The Calling on these lists.  All to move my book higher on these lists.

Notice, I’m only talking about The Calling and not A Dragon for Christmas or The Reunion. That is because I’m trying to figure out what works so I can duplicate it for these books. This might also be an issue. Should I be marketing all three together?  I’m not sure.

Now back to these Goodreads Lists. Why are they important (or why do I consider them important)? Because to be lumped in with such books as; Interview with the Vampire (The Vampire Chronicles), Dracula, the Sookie Stackhouse Series, ‘Salem’s Lot, and, even the Twilight Series? Tells potential readers that this book has substance. It also means that The Calling (and soon to be The Calling Two) even though they have a gay main character are of the same caliber as these amazing works and not a vampire sexcapade. This is a difficult stigma to break considering that Gay Romance and Gay Erotica are so popular. It is also what most people imagine when you mention you write LGBTQA Fiction. Ugh... but that whole topic is for another day.

Why these lists, well they are some of the best free marketing, they can help drive sales, and they get my book noticed.

The Calling being number one in any of these categories or being in the top 100 allows me bragging rights and is something I can advertise. Trust me, I will be.  Right now I’m working on ads to capitalize on these lists and this news.

Some additional marketing strategies I’ve been doing: Getting more reviews. Lining up interviews and speaking opportunities. Having fellow Authors on my Scribbles Page. Trying to be more engaging on Social Media (not talking about my books but other topics). Joining Author Groups were we share ideas about marketing and public relations.  

So, yes, the hardest part about writing a book is the marketing. It’s not the writing or the publishing (although both take time and are a lot of work).

Do you have any suggestions on ways to market non-romance gay book? Do you know anyone who loves vampires and witches send them the link to my book (click here)?  Let me know what you think in the comments below.  Until next week have an amazing week.

April Writing Updates

Scribblers!  I hope you’re all doing well today.  I figured I would provide a few updates today and see where this takes us.

Windows-10-1709-Fall-Creators-Update-with-Intune-Update-Rings2.jpg

Update Number One: Last week as some of you may have seen I was a guest on WROTE Podcast.  We had a great conversation about writing, marketing non-gay romance books, and how gay is cross culture, cross race and cross economics.  If you haven’t checked it out click here to go to the show.  It was a lot of fun, so go listen to it you’ll enjoy it.

Update Number Two: This last weekend I finished the first chapter of The Calling – Book Two. What you haven't read The Calling yet (click here to get your copy) As a special treat for you today here are the first four paragraphs for you to sink your fangs into.

I sat with a glass of brandy between my hands focusing on the fire in Juliet’s office. The oranges, reds and yellows danced around the logs releasing a warmth that barley penetrated my worried exterior. The crackling sound tickled my ears as the scent of burning oak lingered in and out of my conscious.  A knot tugged the back of my neck. What was this new vision? Worse yet, what did it have to do with me. Not to mention Juliet, Kirtus, Gregor, and the other Immortals.

“What are you thinking?”  Juliet’s gentle voice pulled me from my thoughts.

How long had I been like this? A minute, a day, a year. I wasn’t sure.  I turned from the fire.  Kirtus sat next to me on the sofa his coat removed, replaced by an air of worry. Gregor’s tall solid frame blocked one of Juliet’s bookcases. All of Juliet’s tombs and books, several of them personal journals of her long life, sat there. Would they be able to unravel this new vision? This new mystery.  They were little help last time. I sipped my brandy hoping it would take the chill from my soul.

I caught Juliet out of the corner of my eye: patient as always. She sat with her ivory pant clad leg crossed and a glass of red in her hand, but deep in her eyes there was unease. Despite her worry, in moments like this, she seemed so young. Nevertheless, behind that façade of youth was the power of an Immortal who had been around for 1650 years. No one should ever underestimate her.

Keep in mind this might change and, of course, I had to remove spoilers from the last book. You never know know who might be reading. I suggest you keep an eye out because I may share more of the story as I write it.

Update Number Three: Next week (May 1st) I’ll be taping an interview with the guys over at How Authors Work.  Check out their recent podcast here.  It should be a lot of fun. We’ll be talking about the writing process, publishing, and all that. I will keep you posted on when the show airs.

TheCalling-f500.jpg

Update Number Four: I’ve been invited to take part on a panel of LGBTQ authors for Pride Month. The event will be on June 25th. County Supervisor Ken Yeager is slated to kick off the event. It should be a lot of fun and as the event gets closer I’ll be sharing more information.  If you’re in the area I hope you’ll be able to stop by.  Again, more details to follow.

Update Number Five: Over the last several weeks I’ve been working on some marketing materials for The Calling.  I can’t wait to share these with you. I think they are turning out great.  So, again more info to follow.

Unknown.jpg

Update Number Six: On a personal note I wanted to share with you all that I’ve picked up two new books to read. I can’t wait to dig into them.  One is 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson and the others is Bones and Bourbon by fellow NineStar Press author Dorian Graves. This is Dorian’s debut novel so go check it out (here is the link) we’ve been chatting about her book and I’m excited to read it.  Once I finish her novel, I’ll be giving it a full review here. In addition, I want to see if I can get Dorian over to do an interview. Here is where you can find Dorian, go show her some love, she’s amazing find her here

Well Scribblers, that’s all for this week.  Have a great week.  Did I miss something?  Is there something you wanted me to mention but didn’t?  Let me know down in the comments below.  Also, I was thinking about doing another ‘Five Things About Me’ blog.  Lastly, give me a heads up if that is something you want me to do again (here is the last one) and if you have any personal questions for me.

My Review and Thoughts on Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and Love Simon

Hey Scribblers, I know it’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve posted anything.  Sorry about that.  I got hit by the flu that is going around and between dragging my butt to work and trying to get better I didn’t have the time or the energy.

And of course I pick Tax week (well if you’re in the US) to return. Maybe, I should have stayed away a few more days? Ah well.

Just a quick announcement before we dive in.  This week I will be a guest on WROTE Podcast (check them out here), we are going to talk about marketing a LGBTQ book when it’s not romance or erotica, reminding people that gay is cross-cultural, gender, and economics, and I’ll share some of my own journey as a writer.  It comes out this Friday. I will keep you posted.  

Now let’s jump into this week’s topic. One of the things I did manage to do while I was under the weather was read the novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli.  I also went to see the movie Love Simon before it leaves theaters.  It was nice to read the book first then see the movie and see what was changed.  

Below is my review of the book and after that I’ll talk about the movie.

81VNXRgs+AL.jpg

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. The book is an LGBTQ Young Adults story.  It’s about Simon a ‘straight’ teen who is struggling with coming out and facing his gayness.  Simon is surrounded by an amazing family, school, and friends.  His struggle is more internal than external.  The book starts with Simon being blackmailed by another student, Martin, who read and took photos of Simon’s email exchange with another gay student only known as Blue.  The story focuses on how Simon deals with the blackmail while trying to navigate his own emotions and his developing online relationship with Blue.

This was a well written story.  It flowed nicely and was a quick read. However, in my opinion, there were many ignored opportunities in the story and I found it missing the mark in many places (his relationship with his family, his standing in school, his relationship with his friends, and even his relationship with his teachers). When the book ended I was left with neither a positive feel for the book nor a negative feel for the book. Maybe, I’m jaded. I don’t know, but what I do know is, this book reflected nothing of what life is like. There was an opportunity here for the writer to dive in deeper to the issues of coming out, what it means to Simon and Blue and what it means to their families, but we got none of that (in a way that is nice, but still not realistic). Perhaps, this lack of realism is what people want when it comes to the LGBTQ community and its youth. I’m not sure. Still, considering how much everyone loves this book I’m probably in the minority with my thoughts.

Basically, this story reads to me like an old ABC After School Special.  Where everything is perfect and by the end the world is changed but life is still great for the characters and everyone could have a nice hug afterwards.

I wanted to fall in love with the characters and I wanted to feel for them, but they all lived in this ideal world were even the drama that was created fell flat for me. I had to ask myself what kind of life did the author live? Did she even know any gay teens, gay men, or gay women? Not even the Blackmailer was very nasty. Did she really live in this wonderful world where everyone reacted the way they should and no one was trying to be mean or hurtful? 

Because I want to live there too.

Regarding the main character Simon. Ugh, here we go again. Simon is this perfect jock type (even though he’s not a jock) who doesn’t know what it’s like to suffer through the underbelly of High School. His friends all adore him as does his family. I loved seeing a well adjusted gay teen character, but he like the rest of this world that Becky Albertalli created was unbelievable. Honestly, I swear, I didn’t want an emo character filled with self-loathing who was being tortured, but it would have been nice to see him based in a little more reality. Ah well.

Overall, I couldn’t believe in the characters or the story.  It was just too impeccable for me and nothing about it struck home.  All this said. I didn’t hate the book I gave it:

3 out of 5.png
download.jpg

Now, let’s talk about the movie Love Simon.  The writers of the movie took this lack luster book and amped up the drama and tension.  Simon was still this perfect character with the perfect family but when it came to his suffering and drama (even the Blackmail) the reactions seemed so much more real to me.  The characters were kind of what I pictured them to be and the seemly perfect world they all lived in was somehow I little more believable. I enjoyed the character interactions and I even enjoyed how the characters reacted to all the events that unfolded in the story.  The movie, to my surprise, felt more real and honest than the book.  I even enjoyed the ending of the movie more than the book and that really surprised me.

In this rare case, the movie was far better than the book.

***

With all this said.  I want to add, that my husband both loved the book and the movie. He didn’t understand why I was just meh on the book.  So, even in my own home I’m on the outside. I will say this for both the book and the movie I’m happy to see that both did so well and became popular, making a big splash in the main stream media. That says a lot. It is something that we should all celebrate.

I would love to hear what you all think of the book and the movie.  Leave your comments below and tell me how far off I am. I don’t mind, I’ve been on the outside a lot when it comes to movies and books.

Until next week have a great week.

Happy Good Friday, Passover, Caesar Chavez Day, Easter and April Fool’s Day… did I miss anything?

It’s Good Friday, the start of Passover and Caesar Chavez Day. What an amazing trifecta.  Also, this Sunday is not only Easter but it’s also April Fool’s Day.  In the span of three short days we are cramming together five holidays.  It’s nuts, but what that means for me is I’m going to be busy. So, I’m posting this special Blog post on my Scribbles page today.

Good Friday.jpg
passover.jpg
Caser Chavez.png

Firstly, I want to wish everyone a wonderful Good Friday and Easter. I hope you all get to spend some time with your family and enjoy the break if you get one.

Secondly, to my wonderful Jewish friends out there.  Happy Passover. May this week-long celebration bring you joy and time with family.

Thirdly, don’t forget to remember Caesar Chavez and reflect on all the wonderful work he did. Especially when it comes to improving the health and safety of our agricultural industry works today.

Lastly, with April Fool’s Day right around the corner beware.  You never know what ‘friends’ are planning. 

As a special treat today, an author friend of mine CH Clepitt (check her out here) asked if she could jump over and do a mini blog takeover today to announce a couple of fun items she has coming up and to share some amazing books.

Take it away CH


Thanks, MD here goes:

My Fantasy Bookshop

People have fantasy sports teams, fantasy movie casts etc., well, I have a fantasy bookstore. If I had unlimited money I would set up a bookstore to feature all of my favorite indies.  So many writers I have discovered through writing groups and social media are just brilliant, and it is a constant battle to get the word out for them.  The market is saturated by so much utter trash, how do you sort the good stuff from the just plain terrible?  Hopefully my fantasy bookstore has done a bit of the work for you.  There are so many brilliant indie books to choose from, and Marvin did tell me not to go crazy on words, so I’m just gunna do my front display table of books I’ve particularly enjoyed.

On display I would have:

  • Jade by Rose Montague (click here).  Awesome urban fantasy, strong MC, funny and fun.
  • Darkly Dreaming by Chloe Hammond (click here).  Brilliant take on Vampires, not young and sexy. Well written, smart and funny, check it out.
  • The Rose Thief by Claire Buss (click here). If you like Terry Pratchett you’ll love this. Very British humor, fab story, very funny.
  • Fracture: Divergence by Erik Schubach (click here). In an interview I said that this was the best thing I’d read this year, and whilst it’s only March, it’s still an endorsement.  It’s not great literature in any way shape or form, but it’s fun, fast paced and very entertaining. No matter what genre Erik turns his hand do he does it well, and he writes women very well. I enjoy his books much more than I thought I would!
  • My Name is Not Alice by Angelika Rust (click here). Young Adult fantasy which makes you think.  Also, there’s magic.
  • The Werewolf Whisperer Series by Camilla Ochlan and Bonita Gutierrez (click here) - strong female characters, humor and werewolves, what’s not to like?

Obviously, I would also include my book, I Wore Heels to the Apocalypse (click here), which is fun, funny and has badgers.  It’s also free this Easter Weekend on Kindle, if you fancy grabbing it!

People who say authors are competition for each other have no clue how the indie community works.  The community of indie authors that I am a part of are so kind and supportive. Just check me out, doing a guest post, cos I asked and stuff… Really no clue what else I’m going to say… other than… oh… yes… I’m taking part in an Easter Egg hunt this Easter weekend! Eggciting. A group of fellow authors and moi (that’s me in French - didn’t know I was multilingual, did you? What do you mean, you’ve never heard of me?) will be hiding a series of clues across our websites.  Each egg will contain a letter, and the first person to unjumble the letters, and tell us what the word is, will win a real Easter Egg, and a bundle of eBooks from some fantastic authors! And that’s not all. Everyone who takes part gets the eBook of their choice, just for turning up.  Everyone’s a winner! The hunt starts here!


About CH Clepitt

CHClepitt.jpg

C H Clepitt has a Master’s Degree in English Literature from the University of the West of England. As her Bachelor’s Degree was in Drama, and her Master’s Dissertation focused on little known 18th Century playwright Susannah Centlivre, Clepitt’s novels are extremely dialogue driven, and it has often been observed that they would translate well to the screen.

Since graduating in 2007, she gained experience in community and music journalism, before establishing satirical news website, Newsnibbles in 2010. In 2011 she published her book, A Reason to Stay, which follows the adventures of disillusioned retail manager, Stephen, as he is thrust into village life and the world of AmDram. Clepitt’s feminist fantasy, The Book of Abisan not only crosses worlds, but confuses genres, and has been described as a crime drama with magic. She has often said that she doesn’t like the way that choosing a genre forces you to put your book into a specific little box, and instead she prefers to distort the readers’ expectations and keep them guessing. Her 2016 work, I Wore Heels to the Apocalypse does just that, as just like the characters, the readers won’t know what’s going on in this laugh out loud satirical scifi.


I won’t be posting anything this upcoming week, well maybe some poetry, but I will be back the week of April 9th. Remember if you want to help both Claire and I out, please like and share this post. Let me know how you celebrated all these holidays.  I would love to hear from you

Blog Takeover - SA "Baz" Collins

This week I’m pleased to welcome Author and co-Host of WROTE Podcast SA "Baz" Collins to my Blog. Let’s not waste any time and jump right in.

The Quagmire of Passing: When A Person of Color Eschews Heritage to Succeed

With the recent brouhaha over Persons of Color (PoC) being underrepresented across LGBT fiction (with a primary focus on the MM community of writers and publishers) and as a writer who is a person of color I decided now might be a good time to discuss this issue from a person of color point of view. I apologize for the length of this post, but this is a complicated issue and one that bears hearing out.

A little background before I really dig into it: I was born in the early sixties (at the height of segregation issues in society) to a Native American/White father and a deeply religious Latina mother. It was a different time. While my mother was second generation US citizen, she grew up seeing (if not wholly understanding) the differences that came to Mexican girls like herself when compared to her white girlfriends that attended her Catholic high school. My father moved to San Diego in his late teens with his older brother who enlisted with the Navy. Dad traded a life on the rez for an adventure in a big city with his brother. My uncle rented one end of a duplex owned by my mother’s family – that’s the setup of how my mother’s and father’s worlds collided.

To this point my mother led a very sheltered religious life. School, homework and chores made up her days. She had very few friends she saw outside of school. She just didn’t have the time – her parents worked very hard (her father during the day at the Naval base of North Island and her mother at night as a cleaning woman of a prominent bank). 

She met my father as she walked home from school one afternoon. As she passed his part of the duplex yard my father and his brother burst through the screen door (nearly sheering it off its hinges in the process) wrestling in mid-air. They hit the ground and continued to wrestle one another without missing a beat. My mom turned up her nose and thought, “Show-offs …”. She continued on but my father stopped for a moment in wrestling with his brother and thought, “That’s the girl I’m gonna marry.” He just knew. She never saw him coming, but when my father set his mind to something it usually happened. My mom never stood a chance. They eventually dated and my mom relayed to us years later that when he first kissed her it was like fireworks. He proposed and they remained engaged for eight years before marrying – because my father wanted to show her that commitment was important to him as it should be for her. Every time he kissed her she said the fireworks were still there; it was a fourth of July that continued during their thirty-six years of marriage when my father suddenly passed on the very same day as the Columbine massacre. During those years my father taught my mother many things. He opened her isolated world; he showed her the meaning of patience and temperance – Dad was solidly Indian in that way. He led by example, treated everyone fairly (even when he was not). Being Northeastern Woodland Natives (the Haudenosaunee (or Iroquois)), our skin tones are much lighter than the more rustic tones of our plains or Southwestern brothers and sisters. In short, Dad could pass (being perceived as white) if he wanted to. My mother, whose parents were mestizo (her father darker complected and her mother lighter) also had the benefit of passing. This is important in how my world was shaped by them both and how the oppression and prejudice of white privileged peoples perceived my immediate family.

From the time I was born (the first, with a brother and sister who followed), I was all about talking. My mom had a low children’s table that had the alphabet with an animal or item that was representational for each letter, where I would sit at to eat my meals. From the time I made the attempt to speak we played the game of “What’s That” where she’d point to a letter and say “What’s that?” and I was to learn to say what the animal or thing was painted there. I learned so quickly that I began to turn the table around, as it were, and started asking her. Sometimes, to test me, she’d purposely answer wrong and I would correct her. But in every case she made sure I enunciated every word as clearly as I could. This is important. My Mexican mother, who grew up speaking Spanish fluently in her home, quashed from a young age any knowledge of her native tongue to ensure that I spoke clearly. She relayed it to the three of us years later that it was important that none of her children had any perceived accent native to our heritage. She didn’t want us growing up being perceived as anything but white. This was a hard call. You see my brother took on the darker skin tone of her father’s side of the family. My younger sister and I didn’t. We, my sister and I, could easily pass. My brother simply did not have that option. His skin prevented it. 

image001.jpg

My mother ensured as we grew up that we were exposed to things white people did. We went to symphonies, ballet and live performance theater. We were well behaved children in these scenarios and my parents were often complimented on how well we acted at such events during intermissions and such. My mother also made sure that while we could watch television, every weekend, without fail, we were front and center never to miss the latest Masterpiece Theater offering. 

We grew up as anglophiles. Let that sink in for a moment: a Native/Latino family immersed in British culture.

Oddly enough, the mainstay of our family diet was predominantly Mexican with a few of my father’s family recipes thrown in. We ate our collective culture even if we didn’t give it voice. I learned to cook all the family recipes from my abuelita but kept that knowledge solely within our family, rarely sharing it with close friends.

While we attended family functions on my mother’s side of the family which were deeply entrenched in Mexican customs and flavors, we visited that part of our heritage. We, as a family, dipped our toes in those waters but never really swam in them. That’s not to say we led a life where we weren’t loved by my mother’s relatives and included, we were just the odd three kids out. While my many cousins did things traditionally we generally kept to ourselves. All of this was done with the hope of my mother (and father) that we could escape the prejudice my cousins and their families often faced and we’d hear about during those family get togethers. And there were plenty of stories about how they were passed up for promotions at work, slighted for being a “beaner” at school, etc. The list went on and on. The sole exception to this upbringing – my sister did have a traditional Quinceañera. It was the lone cultural standout as we grew up, the one time we did something deeply traditional from my mother’s side of the family.  

Yet, as a young boy, I grew to have this cultural schism forming within me. Something was growing inside that I constantly grappled with but couldn’t for the life of me put to voice (and by the third grade I had a college reading level comprehension under my belt so, words weren’t usually a problem for me). I lived in words. I knew they had power. Something I observed that added to that schism forming within was born out of how my cousins, aunts and uncles talked. They often blended Spanish and English in a way that hurt my ears. Literally, if I heard them talk too long I’d sneak away to where I could find someplace peaceful so I didn’t have to hear it. 

We’d often go across the border to Tijuana (it was easy since we lived in a suburb of San Diego) and while I always liked looking and absorbing my Latino culture – especially the indigenous aspects, it never failed that by the time we left I was quiet, sullen and angry as we crossed back into the US. I hated that part of me, my heritage, was mired in filth, pandering to sell goods, with shabby looking shops and the kids I understood to be like me running up to sell us “chicle” (gum) in these little packages that were often as dirty as the kids who sold them. In essence, I grew up in despair of my Latino heritage. So I did everything I could to hide it from friends and acquaintances whenever I could. I purposely passed. So did my sister. It was just easier not to talk about it. Sometimes we’d get crap for it from other Latino kids who knew what we were. But generally we avoided them. We had to take Spanish in high school and struggled to master it while our Latino friends took the class as an easy A. It was a very frustrating time.

My brother, with his darker skin, couldn’t partake in passing. It made for a very screwed up childhood for him. He became bitter and often used humor in a passive-aggressive way to dig at people who slighted him. 

My father’s family lived on the rez and we would take trips there and I grew up to love the culture but to me it was like visiting Disneyland. Even though rez life was hardly filled with proper middle class homes, my excursions to that side of the family kept me from wandering around too much so it had that theme park feel to it. 

But still, I passed whenever I could. None of this is to say that my family life was horrid or emotionally damaging (on the surface) – I got along with everyone. I was well-liked, had many friends, and generally was happy growing up. The only stumbling block? Culture. 

I don’t blame my parents for any of this. I understand that they were doing what they thought best so their children could succeed in whatever we wanted to do without the trouble of being perceived as less, as being other. My sister and I got away with it. My brother became more bitter – to the point now where he has a drinking problem that probably stems from this imbalance we had growing up. The biting humor he spewed in our teen years escalated and started to affect the friends we had. I used to become angry with him for it, now I understand it. 

When I began to write stories, without question or pause, I created characters and worlds that were inherently all white. I did this without question. I never once stopped to ask myself, why not make him/her Mexican or African-American or Asian? No, I ran to white culture and mined my characters and their worlds from those Euro-centric nations. When I did include a Latina character in my current series (Angels of Mercy), she was the hired help – a cook. While many of my culture are in the service industry this was how I decided to include someone of my own culture: a side character that cooked for the affluent Italian family I’d created in Angels. Through one of my edits I stopped when I came to her character hitting the page and just sat there thinking to myself: WTBloodyF? I knew better. I thought I had grown up understanding the political and social economic constraints both sides of my family faced (on the rez for my dad’s side, and in Mexico on my mother’s). I went to college; I took world history. I got it. Or so I thought. Yet, there on the page was my own form of oppression and segregation. I became incensed with myself. I raged at my husband about how could I do such a thing. 

His response? “You’re a writer, fix it. You know what to do. Do it.”

So I did. I added characters as the series grew to become more reflective of the world I grew up in which had a solid mix of friends across all cultural boundaries. But I gotta tell you, all of this led to one serious inner debate of what passing had afforded me and took from me. It was a solid round of mental ass whooping I gave myself. Even my own pen name – SA Collins – I took from a character in a book I’ve yet to publish because I thought it might be a cute gimmick to have the character in the book tell his own story. That grew to letting “him” tell all my stories. He’s a white character. Can I write under another nom de plume? Sure. Can he be Latinx? Absolutely. And I probably will. But watching this whole debate going on in the queer publishing world right now over persons of color being under represented I knew I had contributed to it unknowingly. I just let it happen because on some level I still wanted my works to pass. 

Around the same time I started a podcast, The Wrote Podcast (check it out here), with two other authors. We discuss and celebrate authors who are trying to establish themselves in queer literary fiction (across all genres). From the beginning I did what I could to say in my own voice that I was an author of color (this was during that time when I’d discovered just how “white” Angels of Mercy had become). We often discuss things that aren’t easy topics. The purpose of the podcast is to allow an author in their own voice talk about their journey. I’ve learned so much from these discussions and these brilliant writers and content creators we’ve had on the show. I am hoping since this is the hot topic for the moment that we’ll get to discuss this topic with others. I even want to have these discussions with other non-PoC authors who are struggling with incorporating PoC characters within their works going forward. I want to encourage them to do so, to include us, front and center if the story will support it, so that over time we can dispel this underrepresentation that is going on. 

One amazing thing I’ve learned from being queer? That it reaches across all cultures and races. I’ve learned to embrace them all. I welcome their voices in my head and heart. I’ve learned just how entrenched the concept of passing can have on a person of color. I lived it. I allowed it to thrive. I know better now. But even with the best of intentions, in this case by my parents, the consequences of cultural oppression and casting of PoCs as other cannot be underestimated or denied. It is a complex problem that has to be worked through. The tough discussions have to be made. 

I’ve evolved and am doing my best to be better at it each time I consume or create media. I watch movies and TV shows told from a solid PoC point of view. I vote with my dollars for stories if I see they have PoC on the cover or in the blurb. I want to be the change I want to see in the world. I get excited when I come upon new works or new voices from that perspective. It doesn’t mean I’ve given up watching Euro-centric stories. I just pepper them in among the other stories I find myself enamored with. Not every author will “get it right” – do we ever despite how hard we try to research and ask for input? But I love when an author makes that choice. It’s a choice I’ve had to make, too. 

I’d like to thank M.D. Neu for allowing me to post on his site. I highly recommend his current novel The Calling (check it out here and buy it here) as it is a ripping good read. Keep an ear out in April for his appearance on our podcast which promises to be a great conversation!


Author Bio

sac_biopic.jpg

SA “Baz” Collins hails from the San Francisco Bay Area where he lives with his husband and their cat, Zorro. A classically trained singer/actor (under a different name), Baz knows a good yarn when he sees it. 

Based on years of his work as an actor, Baz specializes in character study pieces. It is more important for him that the reader comes away with a greater understanding of the characters and the reasons they make the decisions they do, rather than the situations they are in. It is this deep dive into their manners, their experiences and how they process the world around them that make up the body of Mr. Collins' work.

You can find his works at sacollins.com, violetquillredux.com and as a co-host of the wrotepodcast.com series.


Current Release - Angels of Mercy – Diary of a Quarterback Boxed Set (Part 1: King of Imperfections and Part 2: Prince of Mistakes)

A BOXED SET OF MARCO SFORZA'S PREQUEL SERIES TO ANGELS OF MERCY (also sold separately)

DoaQb-Set.jpg

Diary of a Quarterback – Part One: King of Imperfections

Born in America but reared in their father’s home of Torino, Italy, Marco Sforza has led a fairly idyllic life. The Sforzas are an ancient and powerful family with a strong ducal past. They run a vast global empire that allows Marco to enter halls of power that most men only dream of. Yet, Marco is a boy who lives in a bubble of his family’s making.
 
When Marco returns to America to attend high school he grooms himself to become a rising star quarterback of the Mercy High Avenging Angels. He thinks his focus is his burgeoning football career. He is all to aware he is a boy made of pure light that is meant to be seen and noticed. He is comfortable there. Until he meets a boy who shines brighter than him. Elliot Donahey is that boy. But Elliot is a boy who craves shadow and darkness to keep himself safe through another hellish day of high school.
 
Before he realizes it, Marco’s world becomes undone by this boy. Trapped in a script all jocks are meant to follow, Marco does his best to fit in and play along so he can play the game he loves, but this boy who hides in the shadows begins to consume his every thought and emotion.
 
Despite the script he’s been given to date girls, have sex, and hang with his teammates and follow along, Marco finds himself on an emotional pendulum where following that jock script only brings him further away from that world to circle the boy hiding in the shadows. Can Marco find it within himself to push against what others expect of him to find his way into Elliot’s arms? Even with all the fame, money and prestige his family brings to the table, will it be enough to gain the interest of a boy who only wants to hide from everyone?

Diary of a Quarterback – Part Two: Prince of Mistakes

In Diary of a Quarterback – Part Two: Prince of Mistakes, Marco has decided to put all of the jock laden toys away. He knows what he wants: Elliot Donahey and nothing – not his family, not his friends or the townspeople of Mercy – will get in his way. But others are watching and taking notice and not liking what they see. Darkness begins to circle the boys as they find their way to each other.

Will Marco find happiness in the arms of Elliot? Or will those around them who seek to tear them apart stop Marco from finding true love? Set against the rugged coastline located just outside of Big Sur, these boys and their friends lead surprisingly dramatic lives. Mercy is a town full of secrets. Some of them have the ability to destroy lives. Will Marco and Elliot have the strength to find a way to happiness and true love? Or will a meddlesome cheerleader and Marco’s teammate, Beau, find a way to tear them apart?

Total Boxed Set Page Count: 1,322

SA Collins Webstore (click here) Special offer on SA Collins webstore only: Personalized autographed ebooks! See site for details.

Amazon click here.

As well as other points of presence (iBooks, StreetLib, etc).