Monday, December 19, 2016

Have a free (very dark!) story

Earlier in the year I wrote a free short story as part of the Goodreads BDSM Group's "Bound by Ink" event. The prompt asked for something dark, violent and bloodthirsty. There's nothing safe, sane or consensual about this one. On the other hand... murder husbands! 




In a post-apocalyptic world, Dante is a star. He kills for the entertainment of an audience of millions. When his path crosses that of Seto, another hunter, their encounter is violent and blood-soaked. Seto is something new, something unexpected, and for the first time in as long as he can remember, Dante doesn’t know how the game will end.
To download Give Me Your Heart, follow the links: 

epub
mobi
PDF
 
 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Turn that frown upside-down!

Turn that frown upside down!

Don’t worry, this isn’t an exhortation to cheer up. I hate those. When people tell me to cheer up, it just makes me want to stab them harder.             But I learned something really interesting at GRL, and since then I’ve been sharing with everyone. Ask J.A. Rock. I shared it with everyone she introduced me to on our recent road trip.

First of all, my apologies to whoever brought this up at the panel at GRL. I missed your name, but I’ll take your wisdom to my grave!

So here it is: did you know that “frown” means two very different things, depending on whether or not you use UK English, or American English? Really.

Ask an American what part of the body you frown with, and they’ll tell you it’s the mouth.

The mouth! How crazy is that? (Clearly I am on the UK English side of the argument.) In the UK—and the rest of the commonwealth, I guess—we frown with our foreheads. What we call a frown is probably what Americans would think of as a scowl. And what they call a frown, we would think of as a downturned or grimacing mouth.

On our road trip, J.A. and I listened to the audio books of our Playing the Fool series, narrated by the awesome Nick J Russo. And every time Mac frowned—and Henry is as annoying as fuck, so this happened a lot times—we had to try and remember who wrote that section, and what Mac was actually doing with his face. It’s weird to think we’ve been writing together for so long, and never suspected we were envisaging two entirely different things.

“He’s scowling!” I insisted when we got to one line with a cranky Mac. “Why would he be doing that weird thing with his mouth?”

“What? Frowning?” J.A. asked me.

I hate her sometimes.

She has a point when it comes to the emoji. It’s called a frowny face, and it’s clearly all to do with the mouth. Otherwise instead of :( it would be ):( Which actually looks like an emoji for a corset. But, like the rest of the UK-English speaking world, I guess I thought the forehead scowl was implied. Or that instead of seeing that as the eyes and the mouth, why not tilt your head and see it as the eyes and the forehead. With no mouth at all.

The point is, emojis aside, I’m going with dictionary.com which defines a frown as “to contract the brow, as in displeasure or deep thought; scowl.”

This woman here, who I found on an ad for wrinkle treatment, is frowning. She's probably annoyed because she's only in her twenties and some asshole thinks she needs botox already. 



This guy here though? I don't know what's going on with his face, but that's not a frown. 


I’m not frowning at all as I write this though. I’m laughing, because just when I think I’ve finally got the hang of this language in all its weird local variations, it throws something like that at me. And when I say laughing, hopefully that means the same thing to everyone reading this. But who even knows anymore?


Monday, August 15, 2016

Adulting 101 - Join the Tour!

It’s here! It’s release day for Adulting 101! Which also means it’s the blog tour! If you follow along, you can not only win an ebook from my back catalogue, but also a Riptide gift voucher, and s Super Secret cute little present that I’m not going to tell you about because you deserve a nice surprise in your life!


To join the tour, check out the sites and times below:

August 15, 2016  -  Love Bytes Reviews
August 15, 2016  -  Boy Meets Boy Reviews
August 15, 2016  -  Man2Mantastic
August 15, 2016  -  Rainbow Gold Reviews
August 15, 2016  -  Wicked Faerie's Tales and Reviews
August 15, 2016  -  My Fiction Nook
August 16, 2016  -  BiblioJunkies
August 16, 2016  -  Unquietly Me
August 16, 2016  -  Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
August 16, 2016  -  Creative Deeds
August 16, 2016  -  Prism Book Alliance
August 16, 2016  -  The Novel Approach
August 17, 2016  -  Joyfully Jay
August 17, 2016  -  Book Reviews and More by Kathy
August 17, 2016  -  Alpha Book Club
August 17, 2016  -  KT Book Reviews
August 17, 2016  -  Attention is Arbitrary
August 17, 2016  -  GGR-Review
August 18, 2016  -  Keysmash
August 18, 2016  -  Dog-Eared Daydreams
August 18, 2016  -  AReCafe
August 18, 2016  -  TTC Books and More
August 18, 2016  -  Butterfly-o-Meter
August 18, 2016  -  The Day Before You Came
August 19, 2016  -  Bayou Book Junkie
August 19, 2016  -  Booklover Sue
August 19, 2016  -  Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents
August 19, 2016  -  Boys on the Brink
August 19, 2016  -  Sinfully Gay Romance
August 19, 2016  -  MM Good Book Reviews

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Over The Rainbow

Please consider buying this book. All proceeds go to the Pulse Victims Fund. Also, if you could buy directly from the publisher Extasy that means third party sellers like Amazon don't get a cut first. 


From the publisher: 



Until we meet again on the other side of the rainbow.


We all woke up to the terrible news on Sunday 12th June, 2016, of the horrific attack in Orlando, and not only did it affect the LGBT community, it also outraged the world.

So many of us felt powerless as we watched the horror unfold upon our screens, but Patricia Strehle had a remarkable idea, one that would galvanize an entire community into action. Patricia brought a group of people together with the idea of creating a book, an anthology, and donating all the proceeds from its sale to the families affected by this terrible tragedy.

Over The Rainbow is the result—stories contributed by so many wonderful authors from all over the world. These stories are meant to inspire, to warm the heart, to bring a smile or a gentle laugh to help guide us all through the darkness, and to remind us that we all inhabit this world together, that we need to be kind, and that sometimes, we just need to follow that yellow brick road hand in hand.

All sales proceeds from this Anthology will go to the following Charity:

https://www.gofundme.com/PulseVictimsFund

Buy Over The Rainbow direct from Extasy here. 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Coming Soon - Adulting 101

Here it is, at last! The proof that I can write something fluffy! You all thought I was lying, didn't you? But no! Adulting 101 is now available for preorder from Riptide, and comes out on August 15. 

Look, I had a ridiculous amount of fun writing this, and I hope you have fun reading it. And if you check out that link to Riptide, you'll be able to read an excerpt! And who doesn't want to start their day with a blowjob scene in a porta-potty? 

Here's the blurb: 




The struggle is real.
Nick Stahlnecker is eighteen and not ready to grow up yet. He has a summer job, a case of existential panic, and a hopeless crush on the unattainable Jai Hazenbrook. Except how do you know that your coworker’s unattainable unless you ask to blow him in the porta-potty?
That’s probably not what Dad meant when he said Nick should act more like an adult.
Twenty-five-year-old Jai is back in his hometown of Franklin, Ohio, just long enough to earn the money to get the hell out again. His long-term goal of seeing more of the world is worth the short-term pain of living in his mother’s basement, but only barely.
Meeting Nick doesn’t fit in with Jai’s plans at all, but, as Jai soon learns, you don’t have to travel halfway around the world to have the adventure of a lifetime.
This is not a summer romance. This is a summer friendship-with-benefits. It’s got pizza with disgusting toppings, Netflix and chill, and accidental exhibitionism. That’s all. There are no feelings here. None. Shut up. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Seeking Help from Strangers

Tonight I got a message on Tumblr from someone who really likes my fanfics. I sent back a message, and soon we were chatting. And at some point in this conversation, this person who I had never spoken to before disclosed that she was feeling suicidal because of her university workload, her upcoming exams, and the two jobs she's working to pay the bills. 

And this is the thing about the internet. It's very easy to tell strangers things behind the anonymity of a user name and a cartoon avatar. And it's very easy to back away and say, well hey, I'm not responsible for the mental health of a stranger. That's some crazy I didn't sign up for. 

But what if this kid doesn't tell anyone else? What if I'm the only person she's disclosed this to? Or, worse, what if she runs into some asshole online who thinks it's funny to dare her to do it? 

So that inconsequential chat about fanfic tropes turned into me wrangling a promise out of her to call a helpline. It's easy when you're under pressure to feel overwhelmed by everything. Depression sucks, and it's like any other illness: untreated, it can get worse. So she's going to call that helpline, and yes, she's going to check in later with me. 

Sometimes when we write stories, the connections we make with our readers aren't the ones we expected. I hope people like my stories. I hope they have an emotional reaction when they read them. But what I never hope is to get this again: "TBH, your updates are the only good thing in my life at the moment." 

I hate that this girl feels so alone, and I hate that she feels she has nothing in her life that is worth sticking around for. I hate that she's so depressed and stressed, and that she said the only reason she hadn't tried to kill herself was that she was afraid she'd fuck that up too. 

To be honest, I'm not even entirely sure why I'm posting this. Because I was rattled, I think. Because it would have been so easy to brush off with a cheer up, you'll feel better soon. Because too many people think that when someone says they're suicidal, they're attention-seeking. People who really mean it don't tell anyone first, do they? And that's falseIf anyone discloses to you that they want to self harm, please make sure they seek help. Even if they're just a stranger on the internet. 






Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Problems with Representations of Bisexuality in M/M Romance

Here's a cross-post of a piece I wrote for Prism Book Alliance last month, written in response to some of the issues being raised lately in the m/m genre. 




Bi-erasure in M/M romance is not entirely a surprise. The genre is defined by the fact that the two guys have to get together in the end. Unfortunately this reinforces one of the more pervasive myths about bisexuality that exists: that it’s just a stepping stone on the inevitable path between straight and gay.
Remember how cutting edge Sex and the City was? Remember when Carrie said this about bisexual guys: “I'm not even sure bisexuality exists. I think it's just a layover on the way to Gay Town.”
And therein lies the problem with the entire Gay For You trope, particularly in Romance where of course the guys will end up together forever, and of course their previous relationships with women can be easily brushed off as a phase, or an aberration, or a stepping stone, in this case, not to Gay Town necessarily, but to HEA Town. Which just happens to look exactly the same as Gay Town in this scenario.
When I first released Dark Space, I was surprised to see it described as “Gay For You.” I’ve said it before, but if there’s really a need to slap a label on Brady, then it’s at least Out For You. And that’s out as in queer, not out as in gay. Brady has an ex-girlfriend and--intense amount of internalised homophobia and acute self-denial notwithstanding-- there’s no reason for the reader to think that Brady wasn’t genuinely sexually attracted to that girlfriend. Brady’s out for Cam. But it’s not like Cam magicked him True Gay or anything. And it’s something that I specifically wanted to address when I wrote these lines in the sequel:
Which wasn’t to say that a hot girl in a tight shirt couldn’t still get my attention. She couldn’t keep it, though, not when I had Cam.
Brady is with Cam because he loves him and is attracted to him. At the same time he is still, and always will be, sexually attracted to women. This in no way devalues his relationship with Cam. And I feel that this is a problem in Romance as a whole. That when you meet The One, you no longer have eyes for any other. Which is probably one of the bullshittiest of all the bullshit fairy tales ever invented about love. Because, let’s face it, unless finding your true love also involves ritually removing your eyeballs, you’re still going to look at hot people. You’re still going to be attracted to them. You still have a pulse.
The thing that I find most problematic about the GFY trope though, is its logical conclusion. If Gay For You is a thing, then surely so is Straight For You. Why, with the right girl and (probably) just a little bit of prayer, there would be no gay men at all!
Because of the inherent constraints in the M/M genre, it’s sometimes too easy to play into that whole bi-erasure thing. Because an M/M HEA between two guys looks exactly the same, whether it’s gay or bi. Two men overcome whatever was standing in their way and end up together…aww. Which is why I think it’s important for writers to remind our readers that one or both of these characters may be bi.
Bi-erasure is incredibly harmful for people who identify as bi, and romance novels, which offer an escape for so many other people, aren’t as warm and fluffy when they’re quietly denying or invalidating your existence. And bi people get enough of that shit from other media. Bisexuality in popular culture is way too often associated with duplicity, with untrustworthiness. In Hollywood, in terms of shorthand for evil, bisexuality is right up there with an English accent.
As writers, I think we have an obligation to try to do better. We need to be certain that we don’t treat bisexuality as a phase, or as a part of a process of denial, or as the fucking no man’s land between where Gay and Straight have planted their flags and dug their trenches. Bisexuality is its own valid identity.
A beta reader pointed out that in my newly-contracted novel I have two instances of briefly described m/f oral sex, and that some readers wouldn’t like this. I knew that, of course. I’d thought about that when I was writing those scenes, and how fucked up is it that I actually stopped writing, squinted at my screen, and wondered if that was okay? In the end those scenes are staying precisely because I had that reaction. One of my MCs is bisexual, and just because he finds himself in a relationship with another guy doesn’t mean that it automatically wipes his identity clean and he can start over as a gay man. He is and will always be bisexual, whoever he ends up with. He is not confused, he is not in the process of realising he’s attracted exclusively to men, and he’s not Gay For You. He’s not gay for anyone. He’s bisexual, and that in no way invalidates his, or anyone else’s, HEA.

M/M Romance is supposed to embrace diversity, and promote inclusiveness. Romance is supposed to make a reader feel happy, not invisible. And that’s something that clearly needs some work. I don’t have all the answers, and I’m aware that writing this post from my position as a cishet woman that there will be things I have overlooked, or misconstrued, and am just plain ignorant about. But I know that we can do better, and I hope that we can all try.