JUNIOR HERO BLUES Blog Tour! Dates and Giveaways

My hard work has finally paid off! JUNIOR HERO BLUES is now available and the truckload of blog posts I wrote about it are crashing out of the back of the truck at an alarming rate and onto a computer screen near you!

That was a weird metaphor. Anyway, blog tour!

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Along with me rambling about just about everything superhero and writing related I could come up with, I’m also giving away three $15 Amazon gift cards! Just leave a comment with your email address on any of the posts to be entered.

In case you want to leave your name on every single one of the posts, here’s the links to where and when they’ll be posted:

November 7, 2016 Joyfully Jay
November 7, 2016 Bayou Book Junkie
November 8, 2016 Prism Book Alliance
November 8, 2016 The Novel Approach
November 8, 2016 The Day Before You Came
November 9, 2016 Love Bytes Reviews
November 9, 2016 Diverse Reader
November 10, 2016 Dog-Eared Daydreams
November 10, 2016 Booklover Sue
November 10, 2016 MM Good Book Reviews
November 11, 2016 Book Reviews and More by Kathy
November 11, 2016 My Fiction Nook
November 11, 2016 OMG Reads

Have fun reading guys, and don’t forget to enter the giveaway!
Update: Giveaway winners have been selected. Thank you for entering, everyone!
You can purchase copies of JUNIOR HERO BLUES at all these fine retailers:
Cheers!

JUNIOR HERO BLUES is up for Pre-order! (Plus Cover and Blurb Reveal)

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So around this time last year, I was staring at this manuscript I had written, having no idea what I was going to do with it.

I had originally put off even writing it. I’d loved the story idea, had the whole thing planned out on paper, and was totally in love with the character and world. But it was YA. I wrote adult romance. What was I even going to do with it if I did write it? But the story and the characters wouldn’t leave me alone, so eventually, and after a few false starts, I settled down to write it. It was probably the easiest time and most fun I’ve ever had writing a book. I wrote steadily for about three months, and at the end of it, I had a manuscript that I was sure was the best book I’d ever written. And it was absolutely and definitely a YA.

And then, kind of like fate, a press I’d been wanting to publish with for ages, Riptide Publishing announced the release of their new YA line, Triton. A line of books about queer kids, for queer kids. How could I pass that up?

I read a lot growing up, but for whatever reason, the books I remember reading the most, the ones that really stuck with me, were about lgbt characters. So maybe I’ve always wanted to add to that collection of books, and maybe help a young person come to accept themselves, even subconsciously, the way those books helped me.

I’m still going to keep writing romance, of course. But I’m excited about this new direction as well. And I don’t think JUNIOR HERO BLUES will be my last queer YA.

So, with no further rambling, I present:

Business Superhero with city

Last year, Javier Medina was your average socially awkward gay high schooler with a chip on his shoulder. This year, he’s . . . well, pretty much the same, but with bonus superpowers, a costume with an ab window to show off his new goods, and a secret identity as the high-flying, wise-cracking superhero Blue Spark.

But being a Junior Hero means that Javier gets all the responsibility and none of the cool gadgets. It’s hard enough working for the Legion of Liberty and fighting against the evil Organization, all while trying to keep on top of school work and suspicious parents. Add in a hunky boyfriend who’s way out of Javier’s league, and an even hunkier villain who keeps appearing every time said boyfriend mysteriously disappears, and Blue Spark is in for one big dollop of teenage angst. All while engaging in some epic superhero action and, oh yeah, an all-out battle to protect Liberty City from the forces of evil.

Welcome to the 100% true and totally unbiased account of life as a teenage superhero.

Pre-order Now!

Non-Consent, Shame and Female Sexuality

(Trigger warning for discussion of rape and dysphoria in this post.)

I’m completely ridiculous and can’t figure out how to embed a storify on here, so I’m just going to link to it. Go ahead and read: https://storify.com/7sigma/noelle-on-50-shades-of-grey

I wanted to talk about this. The truth is, while we all seem to get a kick out of bashing Fifty Shades of Grey for its abuse and lack of consent, we never seem to want to talk about the fact that it is far from the only romance novel to contain these themes. The romance genre has a long history of “bodice rippers” (I know, I said it.) Stories about women being manipulated or forced into marrying and/or having sex with a man they harbour secret desires for but don’t initially consent to. It’s problematic as fuck. But far more useful than bashing women for what they like, I think, would be to examine why exactly they do like it. In this case, I think Noelle and Christina hit the nail on the head. Fantasies about being forced into sex are common in large part because they allow women to fantasize about sex without having the feel guilty about their sexuality.

And I want to state here that I’m coming at this from a partial outsiders perspective, because I’m not a woman. I’m a genderqueer individual, so I’m not a man or a woman. But I was raised and socialized female, and so I grew up experiencing the shame and demonization of my anatomy and sexuality in ways that almost all women do. Did you know that it’s incredibly common for women to experience intense feelings of shame and guilt after masturbating? It’s embedded in our culture for women to feel bad for everything, for speaking up, for taking up space, for having sex, and yes, for enjoying it. “Sorry” is one of the words I say most often while having sex, and I know I’m not alone in that.

“By fantasizing about non-consent women can relinquish responsibility, and guilt, for their sexual desires.”

Women are taught to feel bad for wanting sex. It’s hard to enjoy yourself when you’re feeling guilty. In reality, being raped is a horrible experience, but in a fantasy where you secretly want it, but don’t have to deal with the guilt of admitting that you do, it can be an escape.

That makes me uncomfortable. I think it makes a lot of people uncomfortable. I’s easier to bash the surface aspects of 50SOG like the bad writing, the cases of the author behaving badly, and the way it’s been lauded as a how-to manual for sex, rather than talk about the fact that it, and a lot of other erotica out there are catering to a demand. A demand that our society has created by telling women that they are not allowed to initiate or want sex without feeling guilty about it.

And this actually crosses directly into the M/M romance genre as well. M/M romance and fan-fiction are much more popular than their F/F counterparts, and a lot of their appeal is, again, an escape for women. Reading about sex without having to associate with the body parts that we’ve been socialized to be terrified of and disgusted with is a huge relief. That’s why I’m also kind of wary when people bash women and call them misogynistic for not wanting to read stories with female sexuality in them.

Yes, it’s a problem when women are so disgusted by their own anatomy that they can’t even get off reading about it. It’s a problem when women can only get off to stories about them being forced into sex. It’s misogyny plain and simple. But it’s not women’s fault that they’ve been socialized like this. And I don’t want to stand around and bash women for wanting to use fiction to escape their oppression for a short while. That’s one of the reasons we have fiction. To escape reality.

But fiction also helps us view our reality more critically when we look back at it. It’s a long road, unlearning that disgust for female sexuality that we’ve grown up with. I’m not there yet. And it certainly doesn’t help that I feel guilty for preferring to read and write stories about men. But I do want to change it. I don’t like that I’m a bisexual person who can’t properly appreciate female sexuality. I want to push myself to appreciate women. I want to learn to stop saying sorry.

I’m also angry that society has done this to me. I’m angry that I can’t even tell how bad my dysphoria is, because I don’t know how much of the disconnect I feel to my body is intrinsic to me, and how much of it I’ve been taught. I’m angry that I feel guilty. And that I feel guilty for being guilty. It’s a never ending cycle.

So what do we do? I’m making an effort to read and write more F/F, even if it makes me feel uncomfortable. I’m forcing myself to give female characters a chance, to give them the same attention and love that I do male characters. But I’m also going to keep letting myself escape into male sexuality, and I’m not going to judge women who escape into non-consent fantasies. I just think it’s important to be critical, and understand why we’re feeling this way. Because that’s the first step to changing it.

In closing, here’s a fantastic, older post by E.E. Ottoman that delves into the topic of female sexuality and lesbian romance in more depth. Required reading IMO, as it put me on the path to being critical of the internalized shame I feel about female sexuality.

As always, thanks for reading! I’d love to hear opinions in the comments.

Release Day: Double Take aka “Oops! I’m Dating Twins!”

Yaaay, it’s finally here! It seems like ages ago that I was sitting at work and was randomly hit with the idea: “What if someone started dating what they thought was one person, but they didn’t realise that they were actually seeing twins?” Obviously I couldn’t pass that up! ^-^

I knew almost instantly that the main character was going to be genderqueer, but for a long time I couldn’t quite get the setting right. I kept imagining the characters at a British-style magical academy, and feeling like it just wasn’t quite right. Then I realised that I was viewing the story through my “white person default” glasses, and decided to try switching the setting, and the story immediately came into focus! (Hasani as a blonde white guy? Uh, no. What was I thinking??)

Anyway, here are some of the places where you can purchase Double Take online, either for your e-reader, or to read on your computer:

Less Than Three

Amazon

Smashwords

All Romance Ebooks

iTunes

I had a ton of fun writing this story, and I hope readers will enjoy it! I also want to draw everyone’s attention to the other stories in Less Than Three’s fab Trans Geek Out collection, because I truly believe it had something for everyone! It’s a lovely example of the diversity in the trans community, and how trans people can and should exist in all different types of stories.

I’ll let the fantastic covers speak for themselves, but click through for more info:sextbasedadventures400Print

defyingconvention400

longmacchiatosandmonsters400

Printhorsecrazy400geekout400manifest400

 

Thanks for reading! As always, have a picture of my cat looking impressed. She’s super proud of me for publishing a book. You can tell.

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My Diverse Books 2015

So, with the #weneeddiversebooks movement still going strong, and everyone tweeting about their hopes and desires for #Romance2015, I thought I’d take a minute to take stock of how I’m doing diversity-wise with my books.

I’m doing this both because I want to highlight and promote my books in the hopes of getting them to people who want to read them, but also because I talk a lot of talk about writing diverse fiction, but at this point I don’t feel like my books 100% back me up. I want to see where I’m lacking, and how I can improve going forward.

I also want to encourage my author friends and followers to do this as well, because I want to read and support all your diverse books as well! So, without further adieu, here are My Diverse Books 2015:

Stories with a gay main character:

Stories with a bisexual/pansexual main character:

Stories with a lesbian main character:

  • None! In fact, I don’t currently have any books published with a female main character. This is something I really hope to remedy in the future, and I currently have two books in the works with female main characters. I’m very excited!

Stories with a transgender main character:

Stories with a non-white main character:

Stories with a main character with a mental illness/disability:

Stories with a main character who isn’t super thin/athletic:

Stories with a main character who is aged 40+

  • None! But people fall in love later in life too, so I want to write about that as well.

So, most of these lists are pretty sadly short. I especially need to make more of an effort to write female main characters, and more trans characters! And the two can definitely intersect. I also want to write more characters with disabilities, and who aren’t traditionally attractive and/or young.

I’m a little worried about this list though, because I don’t want to make diversity in my stories into something that I can check off and then go back to writing perfect white cis dudes. I want to throw out the idea that those characters are the default, and that everyone else is a special alternative. Writing diverse characters means that every time I come up with a new character, I’m drawing from the complete well of human experiences, and getting a new, unique person every time. It’s not about creating a character and then arbitrarily assigning them a minority. It’s about allowing my characters to be that way in the first place. If I chose human beings at random, and asked them to tell me their stories, I know those lists up there would fill up pretty fast. So I hope that in my writing I can reflect that.

Please let me know in the comments if you think of any other categories to add, and let me know the stories that you would like to see in 2015. Thank you for reading, and I hope everyone has a wonderful new year!

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Christmas gave me an opportunity to replenish my stock of cat photos. Feast your eyes on the cuteness!

Being Conscious of Your Narrative

So last week I talked about diversity in fiction, and why it’s important to have a variety of stories about diverse characters. Some of those stories should address the issues of privilege and discrimination, but it’s also important to write stories about diverse characters that don’t function solely to expose prejudice, and just show diverse people as the real, rounded individual people they are. And this sentiment is echoed by a lot of people. There’s a great discussion going on online about how important it is to include people of different race, sexual orientation, gender identities and backgrounds in stories. But what I don’t hear discussed often enough, is how it’s not good enough to just insert diverse characters into your story, you have to also be mindful of the narrative of your story, and the way those characters are used in the narrative.

A few examples come to mind of wonderfully written, complex, developed minority characters who were completely betrayed by the narrative of the story. 

1. Willow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I haven’t even seen every season of Buffy (I know, I know) but I’ve heard enough people lamenting Willow’s fate to know what happened. The show’s creators spent years developing an amazing gay character (problematic bi-erasure aside) that people related to and identified with, and then threw everything away by having her turn evil and die, and incredibly common and harmful trope surrounding lesbian characters. (Edit: my apologies, as mentioned in the comments, Willow doesn’t die. Her girlfriend Tara dies, and Willow reacts by “going dark”. Queer characters have a history of being evil and/or dying, and the show hit them both in one fell swoop, which was disappointing after they had done such a good job developing Willow and Tara’s sexualities and relationship.)

2. Daisy Fitzroy from Bioshock: Infinite. The game goes to immense trouble to set up the city of Columbia as a false utopia, where the rich white bourgoisie live in luxury, while the poor black and Irish workers are exploited. One character whom we are led to sympathise with is Daisy, an African American maid who becomes the leader of the inevitable revolution that occurs. For the first half of the game, we are shown just how awful the situation is, and how justified Daisy’s actions are. And then Daisy is abruptly killed by, and her death used as character development for the white, female main character. To add insult to injury, the formerly sympathetic rebel group is then condemned in the narrative, and it is implied that they are nearly or just as bad as the wealthy bourgeoisie because they resorted to violence.

3. Well, just read this: Visual Representation: Trans Women in Comics

These are all fairly extreme examples, but there are also a million little ways in which minorities can be negatively represented. Female characters constantly falling for and/or being less competent than the male main character. The same female character dying to further the male main character’s character development. And even just plain old stereotypes like gay characters being interested in fashion and black female characters being “strong, independent women.” There’s a seemingly endless trail of pitfalls to avoid when writing diverse characters. And often a narrative tool or trope isn’t inherently bad, but it’s been used so often with regards to a particular minority, that it becomes a harmful stereotype. And of course there’s the simple but dangerously easy pitfall of including diverse characters, but in the end making them less important in the narrative, and ultimately sacrificial to the needs and character development of he majority characters. Like I said, there’s really no foolproof way of avoiding hitting some of these stereotypes, which is why it’s important to accept that when you’re writing about a minority you’re not a part of, you are going to screw up, and behave graciously when you do.

So why do we write these tropes? Why can’t we seem to avoid falling into these pitfalls? Well partially it’s because, like I said, there are just so many of them, you’d need extensive history and study to unearth them all. Although, here is an excellent reference page from tvtropes: Avoiding Unfortunate Implications. (Yes, that’s three external links in one post. Next you know I’ll be writing academic essays and citing my sources.) The other reason is that, unfortunately, we’re steeped in these stereotypes. A lot of the time it’s subconscious, and for a lot of authors, we rely on our subconscious knowledge of stories, plots, and characters to produce our work. I mean, yes, some authors study narrative extensively and produce best-selling books based on a perfected formula. But for a lot of us (myself included) we’re mostly winging it, allowing our experience with stories and our natural creativity to guide us. Unfortunately, a lot of the stories we experienced growing up and are continuing to experience are deeply racist, homophobic and sexist in ways that aren’t always visible on the surface. If we’re not careful, we take these deeply hurtful tropes and insert them into our work, without ever becoming aware that we’re doing it.

I don’t really have any easy tips and tricks or life hacks to help avoid putting harmful stereotypes into your stories. The number one thing is just to be aware, be critical of all the media you consume, and look for patterns that you want to avoid. It’s also really important to listen to people from the minority you’re writing about, and if possible, ask them to beta your work. And be creative, for goodness sake. Don’t use tired old tropes in your writing. Come up with new ones. Subvert the old ones. Have the girl save the guy. Make your main character a person of colour. Make the story revolve around them. In fact, write a book with no white people in it at all! Write something different. And write something real.


Coming January 27th, 2015: Double Take
Part of Less Than Three Press’s Trans Geek Out Collection
Wordcount: 14,500
Pre-order now for only $1.91 (save 36%!)

Studying magical science at the prestigious Kemet Academy is a privilege and dream come true for Teka, a poor student from D’mt. But focusing on school doesn’t mean xe can’t also admire Hasani, the handsome graduate student overseeing Teka’s work.

Then late one night at the school library, Teka runs Hasani and is completely astonished when the stern, quiet man xe knows by day acts so flirty and casual, it’s like he’s a different person. When the late night encounter leads to dating, Teka can scarcely believe xyr luck.

But the luck plays out when xe discovers why Hasani seems so different between night and day, a discovery that seems to have no resolution except heartache… (Warning: This story contains incest)


Giveaway! $25 Amazon Gift Card + Free Copy of To Summon Nightmares by J.K. Pendragon

Giveaway-Graphic

Hello everyone!

To Summon Nightmares comes out in less than two weeks, so I’ve decided to host a giveaway!

The Rules:

  • To enter just leave a comment on this post with your email address.
  • The draw closes at midnight Pacific Time on November 4th. The winner will be contacted and will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen.

The Prize:

  • A $25 Amazon gift card, delivered to you by email, and a free copy of To Summon Nightmares in the format of your choice, including ebook or print.

To Summon NightmaresAbout To Summon Nightmares:

Three years ago, Cohen Brandwein was “Ireland’s Favorite Daughter”, a popular teenage author and internet celebrity. But ever since he came out publicly as trans, the media’s treatment of him has been less than golden, and these days, Cohen is desperate for escape.

When he inherits an old house in the country, Cohen sees it as a perfect opportunity to escape the press and work on his new book. What he doesn’t count on is becoming embroiled in a small town murder mystery and falling for the primary suspect, a man whose reality makes Cohen’s fantasy books seem like child’s play…

Length: 53,000 words
Pairing: m/m, trans
Available: November 4th
Price: $5.99 (pre-order to save 15%)

Read an Excerpt
Buy Link

Good luck, everyone!


Update:

The giveaway is now over! Congratulations, Rebecca, and thanks for playing everyone!

What’s New

reddrag

Like my new website? I love this little guy, although I can’t seem to find him in higher resolution than this anywhere.

Hello, all! I’m coming off an absolutely lovely week of holidays from my day job. It’s been gorgeous and sunny out, and I’ve been relaxing, playing video games, eating, and of course, writing.

It’s a little bittersweet for me, having to go back to the wretched day job. It’s not a horrible job, by any means. It pays well (over minimum wage anyway) it’s relatively low stress, and it gives me medical benefits. But at the same time, for someone who is on good days, an introvert, and on bad days, an anxiety-ridden lump, going to work, pasting a smile on my face and interacting with people for eight hours a day takes it’s toll. This holiday was a little glimpse into what life on the other side is like.

I want to be able to one day quit my day job. I don’t think it’ll ever happen. Right now I’m able to only work 4 days a week and write the other three, and I consider that a blessing even. But I can dream.

Anyway, like I said, I got quite a bit of writing done. I’m about 8K into a new story called Witch, Cat and Cobb, a cute fantasy romance about a princess who runs away and falls in love with a witch. It’s my first lesbian romance, and I’m really enjoying it. I’ve been pushing myself to write more female characters, and confront my internalised misogyny that tells me I won’t enjoy writing/reading female characters as much. I really am enjoying writing this, and I hope others enjoy reading it too.

It’s also a nice break from the 50K story I’ve been working on SINCE THE DAWN OF TIME (since last year.) It’s tentatively titled Skylark Tower and is a steampunk romance with a transgender narrative and also a revolution. It’s very complex, emotional, and has taken it’s toll on me in terms of deciding how I feel about serious issues and how I want to portray them. Right now I’m in the process of comMore Info... pletely re-typing the whole thing and editing it as I go, and it’s arduous. I think I’m seeing the end of the tunnel though, and like I said, WC&C is a very nice diversion.

ANYWAY!

I’ve got lots of publishing news too! We’ve got To Summon Nightmares finishing up it’s serial rotation and coming out on November 5th.

Touch of MistletoeThen A Touch of Mistletoe, the Christmas Anthology I wrote a story for is coming out December 17th. My story is called Here For You, and it’s about a blind piano teacher who is convinced he’s going to be alone forever after the death of his wife, until he meets a man who makes him question that, along with his sexuality.

Ink & Flowers is also going to be released as an audiobook around that time! I’m excited, but also not sure I’m going to be able to make myself listen to the whole thing. Especially not the sex scenes. >.< Anyone else get super embarrassed hearing their work read out loud?

Then! (yeah, I’m not done) on January 28th, LT3’s Trans Geek Out collection will be released, which includes my genderqueer twincest menage story (say that three times fast) Double Take! You can buy all the stories individually, or get the bundle (tip: get the bundle) and read all of them!

And finally (at last, I wanted to get this typed up, but I really want to go watch the new episode of Doctor Who) Prince of the Forgotten Planet is in the works to be translated into Spanish and French. Which is brilliant, because I’m sure French and Spanish people really want to read about gay magical tentacle sex and have had a limited selection up until this point. Just hold out a little longer, French and Spanish people!

I think that’s it! Thanks for reading, and have a great week, everyone!

My Cat the Book Model

This morning I was sitting in bed drinking tea and reading through Twitter, as I do, and I came across this post by Chuck Wendig talking about self-promotion, followed by  this tweet by Sara Megibow: “#1 mistake I see in publicity campaigns is blog mania the month of book release and crickets two months later.”

I realised that I’m totally guilty of this, as I haven’t posted a blog post in the two months since my book came out. “I want to write a blog post,” I lamented to the bf. “But I have nothing to write about.”

“Well,” he said, “why don’t you take pictures of the cat posing with your books and post that?”

So, without further adieu, my cat, Sapphira, who liked posing with my books so much that she sat on one of them.

she sniffed it first

Sapphira sitting on The Fairy Gift

Every third generation, on the eve of his eighteenth birthday, the eldest son is blessed with a fairy’s gift. His entire life, Marcus has been told that he is that fortunate son, and he has waited with mixed feelings for the day to arrive.

On the eve of his eighteenth birthday, he is indeed visited by a fairy. But that fairy is a stunning man, nothing like what Marcus expected, and the only thing more shocking is the gift he bestows. A quiet, ordinary young man, Marcus suddenly finds himself blessed with the gift of Seduction.

It is a gift that will lead him down all new roads, into dangers and worlds he never predicted. It will lead him to a place he never thought to be, and to someone who is far more than meets the eye…

Ebook: $4.99
Paperback: $11.99
Word Count: 50,000
Buy Link
Amazon

look at that mug

Sapphira posing with Ink & Flowers

About to lose his apartment, and desperate to avoid having to move in with his horrendous relatives, shy art student Luke impulsively agrees to a deal from hell: sex with a man he doesn’t know in exchange for a couch to sleep on.

His new “roommate” Cooper is everything that Luke hates: crude, uncouth, and covered in tattoos, not to mention openly gay. Luke has all but resigned himself to a miserable fate when it turns out Cooper might want something a little different than he expected.

Ebook: $4.99
Paperback: $11.99
Wordcount: 41,000
Buy Link
Amazon

She was also interested in my copy of my friend Alex Powell‘s book Rangers Over Regulus!

sniffing books is the highest praise a cat can offer

As you can see

Liberty is a vampire living on a space station where those who seek to avoid the government always land, and spends his days working for the assassin who runs the place. Life is as peaceful as a colony of thugs at the edge of civilization can get. Then a Ranger shows up…

Print: $5.99
Paperback: $13.99
Buy Link
Amazon

Obviously she took to her role as book model beautifully!

"what is the meaning of this??"

"ah, you are taking photographs of me. proceed."

"yes. i AM that attractive, aren't i."That’s all folks! Thanks for humouring me while I post pictures of my cat on my website, and also for checking out my books!