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!
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Sea Lover is Now Available!

Today is the day! Sea Lover is now available on the LT3 website, and available for download if you pre-ordered!

I’m really excited for this book, and really thrilled that it’s been getting some positive reviews, because I truly wrote it just as the kind of book that I wanted to read. There’s no huge world-threatening conflict or angsty misunderstandings or anything like that. It’s mostly just two characters spending time together and falling in love. While I could happily spend a whole book just reading about characters talking and hanging out and getting to know each other, I was worried that it might not interest other people, so I’m really pleasantly surprised by the response so far.

The main character of Sea Lover is also a trans man who is post-transition. And in the first draft, I actually had his transness be more of a big deal, including a big revelation to his friends and resulting angst about that. But I came to realise that while that is a perfectly valid storyline for some trans stories, it wasn’t for this story and this character. Ian is a person who has transitioned and moved on, the way a lot of trans people do, and I think it was most true to his character to have that be the extent of it. While a lot of trans people are activists and continue to be open and vocal about their experiences throughout their lives, there are just as many trans people who want to transition and then leave that behind them and continue living a quiet, private life. Ian is one of those people, and I hope that maybe some trans readers can identify with him, and perhaps see something to look forward to, if they’re in the midst of a stressful transition.

Anyway, I think I’ve rambled enough. ^-^ Please check out the blurb and link below if you’re interested. Right now, Sea Lover is only $2.39 to buy!

Thanks for reading!


SeaLover

Ian is happy with his life in a remote Canadian fishing town, where he has only the sea and his fishing crew for company. People say being alone is terrible, but he’s never had any problems with it.

Then his peaceful life is thrown into upheaval when he finds an injured merman washed up on the shore. With no idea what else to do, Ian takes the merman home and nurses him back to health.

But as he helps S’mika heal, a bond begins to form, and Ian starts to wonder if maybe there is more to life than being alone…

Buy Now from LT3!
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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.

1 Month Countdown! – My Fears about Publishing Trans Romance

To Summon Nightmares comes out in just over a month, and I’m filled with both excitement and trepidation.

I’m excited because I honestly believe that it’s a great book, and I can’t wait to share it with the world. It’s probably the best book I’ve ever written, and at the time of writing it, it definitely was. There was a flow to the writing that hadn’t been there before. I knew what I was doing, and although I ended up having to scrap and rewrite quite a bit, I felt confident in my ability to make it To Summon Nightmaresbetter, and to really write something good. I believe that confidence is one of the best tools that an author can have. To make the audience believe that you know what you’re doing, to make the audience trust you, is invaluable.

On top of that I’ve had a couple of people who read early versions go out of their way to tell me how much they liked it, and that it was one of their favourites.

It’s also a subject that is very personal to me, and writing stories with transgender characters is something that I feel is incredibly important. In this story, the fact that Cohen is transgender isn’t just a medical condition from his past (although I think stories that have trans characters without revolving around that fact are important too.) He’s in the midst of the turbulence of transition, dealing with issues of self and self-image, and wrestling with dysphoria. I wanted to get up close and personal with Cohen’s dysphoria, and much of it is lifted directly from my experiences. It’s a story about a turning point, and writing it mirrored and became a turning point in my own life as well.

So the trepidation I’m feeling is because I suspect very strongly that it’s not going to sell well. I shouldn’t care so much, I know. I should be happy if it reaches a few readers who really love it. And it really isn’t about money (although money would be nice, haha.) My last book, Ink & Flowers, did phenomenally well. But hey, it was a contemporary romance with conventionally attractive gay cis boys. That’s what sells. Paranormal fantasy with a chubby trans lead? Probably not so much. I know I’m getting ahead of myself here, and it might end up selling very well.  I’m mostly trying to prepare myself for disappointment. But I’ve read plenty of testimonials from authors who want to write more trans characters, but unfortunately they rely on writing for their income, and trans stories, they say, just don’t sell.

I want to become a successful author with a wide reach. But I don’t want to have to sacrifice writing stories that mean something to me. (Not that I&F didn’t mean something to me, because it did, but so does Nightmares.) So what do I do?  And I know I’m not the first author to lament this. But I do want to be able to retire from my day job eventually. And I don’t want to stop writing trans characters either. The only solution I can think of is just to keep writing really, really good trans stories, and hope they catch on!

Anyway, after all that, I don’t want to be a huge douchewaffle and start pressuring you to buy my book. Instead I think I’ll link to a few romance books about trans characters by authors who I would love to see more trans stories from. If you would too, consider supporting these books!

A Matter of Disagreement by E.E. Ottoman
Breaking Free by Cat Grant
Wallflower by Heidi Belleau
Static by L.A. Witt

If you know of more, please feel free to link in the comments! And of course, you can pre-order To Summon Nightmares here.

And this blog post is now over the recommended length of 500 words, and doesn’t contain anything close to the optimal quota of cat pictures. So I’ll leave you with a photo of my cat and no more words, and that’ll have to do! Cheers!

Girls go crazy 'bout a sharp dressed cat.

Thoughts on Ink & Flowers – Coming June 4th!

So Ink & Flowers comes out with Less Than Three Press in less than a week, and I thought I’d write a short blog post to talk about the inspiration behind it. I try to constantly experiment and trying new things in my writing, and Ink & Flowers is basically an amalgamation of a bunch of different things that I thought were cool and wanted to try. So without further adieu, here’s a some the things that inspired me to write Ink & Flowers!

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Image courtesy of moggara12 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

1. I love cute little flower shops and flowers (my favourite task at my grocery store job is wrapping flowers) and I wanted to write a character who worked in one. I also love tattoos, and wanted to write a character who has lots of them (I only have two so far because I’m poor, but I want tons eventually, and have researched a fair bit about them.)

2. I felt that in my earlier stories the character development tended to suffer because I spent too much time focusing on the supernatural elements. I wanted to write a story that was all about the characters, and to avoid getting caught up in anything else, I made it contemporary, and set it in a Canadian city similar to mine. I wanted to write a story that wasn’t about defeating an evil villain or saving the world. Just about characters:  making mistakes, learning from them, making decisions and moving forward.

3. I wanted to try writing characters that were extremely flawed and unlikable a the beginning and see if I could turn it around to make them sympathetic by the end. I was also interested in the trope used a lot in erotica of someone being coerced into sex in exchange for money or a place to stay and ending up liking it. I wanted too see how that would play out if I wrote it completely realistically. What kind of person would be desperate enough to agree to that, I wondered. And what kind of person would make such an offer? Could they deal with the fallout of their actions, and redeem themselves by the end of the story?

4. Every story has a little bit of the author in it, but when I was writing Ink & Flowers, I found myself drawing from a lot of personal experience. Coming out, dealing with overbearing and insidiously controlling family, all while suffering from anxiety are all things I have direct experience with, and they coloured Luke’s experience as well. This isn’t to say that the characters are (more than loosely) based on anyone I actually know, but it made it into a very personal story for me. It also means that it’s a very queer narrative, and I hope that it will be most enjoyed and identified with by other people who have come out and faced homophobia in their families as well.

Also, there is mansex. Although it’s delayed a little from where one might have expected it to happen based on the blurb. A strange thing happens every time I start writing a book, I think “Wow, you know, I don’t think these characters are going to have on-page sex. This is going to be my first novel without sex in it!” And then the characters get to know each other a little bit, and that all goes out the window. But it’s okay, because I like writing sex scenes. 😉

Thanks for reading!


 

InkFlowers
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.

Ink & Flowers: Coming June 4th!
Wordcount: 40,000
Pairing: m/m
Ebook price: $4.99

Preorder at Less Than Three Press
Add on Goodreads

Also Enter Here for a chance to win a free copy on the LT3 Goodreads page! Draw ends June 19th.

Coming June 4th: Ink & Flowers!

InkFlowersAbout 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.

Ink & Flowers is coming out June 4th!
Wordcount: 40,000
Pairing: m/m
Ebook price: $4.99

Goodreads
Less Than Three Press